Thursday, 30 December 2010

Looking Back Over the Year

So my new year resolutions for this year were to edit and redraft the novel ready to send out to agents, pass my driving test and write a short story every month. I did the editing and redrafting of my novel several times. I even pass my driving test too. I only managed to write two short stories over the year because all of my time was spent on the novel.

I didn't have as many short stories published this year. At first this did bother me. But then I sat back and remembered that it isn't about quantity plus I hadn't really written much in the way of the short stories this year. My priority was the novel. I was in the 'groove.' All my writing time was devoted to the novel. I am at the stage where I love and also hate it at the same time. I hate to look at it at the moment because of all the editing, redrafting and re-reading sentences over and over again but I also love the fact that I actually wrote a novel. It has been something I have wanted to achieve way before university.

One of my other goals was to get a piece into a paper magazine as the previous year most of my work appeared on the internet. I was able to get two pieces published in 'real life magazines.' Jasper's Betrayal was published in Inkspill Magazine and Sandbox was published in View From Here Magazine (online and also in their magazine).

I even had a piece published over at Metazen. Snowman was inspired by the snow from last winter.

I even dipped my toes into non fiction and wrote a short piece about notebooks over at Teresa's blog.

Currently I am writing a short story. Some of the feedback recently, from rejected stories, were having the start too long or not enough conflict. So I am taking it slowly with this one. Breaking it down into sections and actually planning the plot.

Also, I have an agent reading my novel at the moment. 


Right, now I need to think of writing goals for next year...

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Not Writing

I haven't been writing much. My excuses include:

  • Packing up the house - we were meant to be moving just after Christmas. Now it's going to be the end of January. 
  • Chest and sinus infection. 
  • Cross stitching Christmas gifts and cards. 
  • Wrapping presents. 
  • A disaster with making a cheesecake.
  • Thinking about making mince pies.
  • Working. 
  • Going to the cinema and seeing The American (okay-ish) and Monsters (brilliant). 
  •  Wrecking the side of the car with help from the garage wall. Apparently a big dent and being able to see the metal of the car isn't the best look. 

To help myself back into the writing routine, I have forced myself to sit down on the sofa (because I have sold my desk) and try to write at least two hundred words on an idea.

I have also done some reorganisation. From today there are three new folders on my computer's hard drive:

Published - self explanatory

In Progress - The ideas I am currently working on. Some files have pages of half stories, some have one or two sentences.

Retired - Repeatedly rejected stories. I will rework them sometime but at the moment they are resting in this folder.

Monday, 6 December 2010

All My Friends are Superheros

Are you in a reading rut? You look at your bookselves and none of the books inspire you. I had that a few weeks ago. I tried reading an early novel by one of my favourite authors and found it awful. Then I remembered that there was a book I was desperate to read after reading some blog reviews. And you know what, this book deserves the hype...

I could have read the book in one sitting but because it was so good I made the book last for two days. I really think you should read it. The book is awesome. Even the title is great - All my Friends are Superheros by Andrew Kaufman. The book is a slightly surreal love story. It is about a guy, Tom, who is married to a superhero and also all of this friends are superheroes too. One of them has convinced Tom’s wife that he is invisible and he needs to convince her that he is still there.This petite book at only 110 pages is quirky without being obscure, sweet without being sickly, tender without being mushy. 

*
I'm now reading Alone in Berlin by Hans Fallada. 

*
I am starting to write down some ideas for stories - I might be climbing out of the writing rut...

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Rejections and Writing Confidence


What is the procedure for rejections?

I ask this because there seems to be three camps about them.

  • There are people who don’t talk about rejections. You only ever read about the achievements, the good times, the glamour side of writing.
  • There seem to be people who talk about rejections on their blogs. They say that it doesn’t matter about rejection. It’ll make you a stronger writer (which I agree with) and seem to still praise the editor who rejected them. Do people do this because they don’t want to upset the editor, just in case they come across the blog entry?
  • There are also people who write about rejections and use it as a way to slag off the magazine, etc. They take it personally and just let rip with the swears.


I suppose I am thinking about this because I have recently had a few rejections. A story for a lit magazine was rejected, I didn’t make the short-listing for the novel opening competition and not winning a writing competition.

I am probably in the second camp. But I have probably been in the first camp too. Keeping quiet, not wanting to admit. Is it all down to writing confidence?

for me, yes. Getting hit after hit of rejection can take its toll. I think, am I good enough? Do I have the authority to keep a writing blog? Emails to other writers seems to slow down or stop because I can’t keep emailing saying, oh I had a rejection and I have run out of ideas.

Another aspect of aspect of this loss of writing confidence is the novel. I keep wondering if I can still write short stories? Will there be another idea? Have I used up all of my writing juice? Then more doubt creeps further, crumbling at the writing confidence.
  
Then I write this blog post and laugh at myself from being so silly.  
Then I remember I have achieved my writing goal – write a novel.

I am now off to unpack my copy of Writing Down the Bones. Its my go-to book when the writing gets tough. 

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Writer's Guilt

Yesterday I realised I had writer's guilt. I had totally forgotten about my novel. I used to sit there thinking about the plot, working out character history in my head. The novel was constantly in my head. Now nothing. I even forgot the title. I am a bad mother to my novel. I'll have to make it up somehow, maybe pay for its punctuation fees or even donate more pages.

I have an idea for a short story but at the moment the character is still not wanting to interact. He wants to still in his cramped flat and make me write descriptions about his life. He won't budge from his threadbare armchair. I am going to have to roll up my sleeves with this one and show him who is boss.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Oh Comely Magazine

I don't like women magazines. There, I have said it. Shock horror. I don't care about the latest red-carpet dresses or the best way to smack on make up or even the hottest celebrity gossip (I have Yahoo news for that, don't you know it is the best!). I don't find women magazines to be confidence boosters but more confidence crushers. This is why Oh Comely Magazine fills the void. The bi-monthly magazine is about quirks, exploring new things and people's creativity. The magazine is full of gorgeous photographs and compact essays. I especially liked the article in issue two by Ellie Phillips, Plan b. The article talks about finding a balance between the creative life and paying the bills. Sometimes you need a job to fund the creativity or even a motivator. I wonder if I would write more if I didn't have a job or would I use the time to do chores, reading and internet stalker rather than be more prolific with my writing. Plus, if I were to be a full-time writer then I would definitely need a chaise-lounge and a typewriter.

Monday, 1 November 2010

The Creative Habit

I am currently reading a great book by Twyla Tharp called 'The Creative Habit.' I highly recommend this book about the creative process. Tharp might be a choreographer but the principles are still the same, when searching for ideas. My favourite quote at the moment:

"That is why you scratch for little ideas. Without the little ideas, there are no big ideas.... Remember this when you're struggling for a big idea. You're much better off scratching for a small one." 
I have this written in my notebook and keep reading over it at the moment. I am struggling with a short story idea - I have my character and a situation but they just don't want to mix at the moment. I am either writing too much character description and not enough action. But I just need to keep working at the little idea and will eventually find the bigger idea.

Friday, 22 October 2010

A Week in Bullet Points

Life wise:
  • My lovely boyfriend and I went off to London the other week for an afternoon/evening trip. We went to the Science Museum – boy, it has definitely changed since the last time I went there when I was a little one. One of my favourite times at the museum was going to see a Star Trek exhibit for my birthday. My boyfriend also went to the same exhibit and we could have walked past each other. Spooky.
  • That same day we went to see prog-rock band, Porcupine Tree at the Royal Albert Hall. I won the tickets, via work, so we had really good seats near the front. I really enjoyed myself – I especially enjoyed the acoustic set at the beginning. I’m looking forward to heading back there in a few weeks time to see Imogen Heap.
  • I recently finished reading Easter Parade by Richard Yates. I really liked the characters Emily and Sarah both striving for the American Dream, in different directions, in post war America, both finding disappoints and disillusionments with the realities of the world. The characters reminded me of my sister and I and the different paths we have taken with our lives. I really want to own all of Yates’s novels, all with the new Vintage covers. That’s my Christmas sorted!
  • Going to the cinema and seeing The Town – this was about living in Charlestown and its history of bank robbers and how it was a tradition in families and how difficult it was to break away. Ben Affleck directed the film and also starred in it too – I was surprised because his recent films have been a bit under average but this was brilliant.
  • Watching the DVD box set of Mad Men – I can’t the television audience levels for this are so low. The characters are brilliant, the writing is brilliant and the mise-en-scene is great too. Mad Men reminds me of Richard Yates’s novels.
  • Getting discharged from the hospital for my headaches – the steroid injection in the back of the right side of my head has helped. I have gone from 5-6 headaches each week to just 4 since July. Top notch.

Writing wise:
  • Coming to the end of an entire round of editing on my novel. I am at the stage where I love but also hate my novel at the same time. So at the moment I am taking a rest from it.
  • Making a plan for a short story.
  • Maybe, having several ideas for another novel – still early days – it could be an extended short story…

Also, check out this website, Fiction Uncovered as they are want to boost the profile of mid list authors and writing.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Compulsive Editing

Editing
I am onto another round of editing at the moment. I can't help myself. I must keep going around in circles, deleting sentences, re-instating paragraphs, etc. But this is good - I think I can see light at the end of the novel one's tunnel. This round of editing has me playing the role of janitor - I am sweeping up clunky sentences, spotting naughty spelling mistakes and giving the whole manuscript a good polish. I even have my lovely boyfriend giving it a read too.

I found this recently on Writer Unboxed, a cartoon about compulsive editing.

Synopsis
I have struggled with this task. I don't how why this has caused me such trouble because after all this editing I should know the novel inside out. But I had to make myself sit down the other Sunday and just write it before anything else could be done. I now have a one page synopsis and also a ten page, chapter by chapter breakdown of the novel.

I am also researching Literary Agencies at the moment - seeing which ones publish my favourite authors.  This will be the 'sell, sell, sell' part of writing. The part that a lot of writers call the ugly part but this is the reality.

It is two years this month that the first twinges of the novel started to appear in my head. Even if I don't get my novel published I am still going to be happy with actually finishing a novel - I have had several false starts but this idea was the one that made me commit. I know my printer has definitely felt those two years. I am hoping he still has another year left in him but he is starting to groan with every print job.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Synopsis Research


I am currently splitting my writing time between editing and writing the synopsis, chapter by chapter. It is taking longer than I thought but I think it has got a bit out of hand. I am currently at chapter sixteen and the synopsis is now ten pages long. WAY too long! So I have been having a look at some Literary Agency websites and the Agents who represent my favourite authors. This is what they ask for when sending a synopsis in the submissions pack: 
  • Full plot synopsis, 
  • outlining novel on one page, 
  • brief synopsis, 
  • simple synopsis of no more than a page. 
So from this I know that I need to do some serious editing on the synopsis. Serious editing. I also came across another agency asking for the synopsis to be simply three sentences long. So I am going to have some simple versions ready and also keep the long one too. You know, ‘just in case.’ 

I also had a rejection for a piece of flash fiction. This is a good thing because I got back some lovely, personal comments on how to improve the piece so now I have an idea how to expand the idea and possibly turn it into a short story. 

In other related writing news, I have sold my huge desk. No more magazine rack on the side, no shelf for my long-suffering printer, no book shelf along the top, no place for knick-knacks and no official home for my Macbook. This is for a good reason – it was too huge for when we move in December/January. So now I am on the look out for a nice one. This weekend I am planning on editing five chapters and writing more chapters into the synopsis. This will probably be done at either the dining room table, on the sofa or wrapped up in bed. It seems this non-desk working could be more comfortable than I first thought!

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Happy Belated Roald Dahl Day

Monday 13th September was Roald Dahl Day. I had every intention of posting on Monday but got caught up with writing this synopsis and editing. I am currently aiming for one chapter to be edited and then written about for my synopsis every evening. I am currently on track (famous last words). 

Roald Dahl was my first favourite author. I borrowed from the library any titles I didn’t own. Relations would buy me his books and I even had a copy of the rail safety code too (with gruesome pictures of heads coming away from bodies if you hung you head out of the window). I had a huge (well it was huge for little me) hardback with Matilda, the BFG and George’s marvellous medicine and I needed to read it while it sat in a small table because it was so heavy. I also remember one teacher reading a chapter every afternoon from Boy but I couldn’t wait for her to finish so I got the book myself. The rat story was my favourite chapter. Even as a teenager I loved his short story, Royal Jelly. Just brilliant. Quentin Blake’s illustrations were splendid too. Roald Dahl was such a great writer because of his great imagination. He didn’t stick to that horrid rule of ‘write what you know.’ He went with this imagination. Anything and everything was possible. 

I can tell you my favourite quote: 

She whipped a pistol from her knickers” – Red Riding Hood, Revolting Rhymes. 

But to pick my favourite book? That is a hard one – it is either the BFG, Matilda or Revolting Rhymes.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Back From Holiday

I didn't get all of my planned reading done and I only edited 17 chapters but I was most doing this:


Now I am back and ready to knuckle down with another round of editing. This round won't be structural but rather checking and making sure it flows. I also want to make sure I don't like mistakes of accidently writing my character is five instead of fifty. I am reading the novel slowly and very closely to spot any inconsistencies.

I am also writing a chapter by chapter synopsis too.  I have only typed up two chapters and it's already two pages long so I am going to have to do some editing and 'killing my darlings' on that piece too.





Saturday, 28 August 2010

On Holiday


Today, we are off on holiday and will be heading to Northern Somerset. We will be staying in the pictured cottage. Doesn't it look like something off a postcard? Just looking at the picture makes me feel calm and relaxed and thoughts of work, mortgages and home have started to evaporate.

I have taken these books on holiday and will hopefully finish one or two:
  • K PAX trilogy - I am half way through the second book.
  • Dave Eggers' 'The wild Things' - I won this on Ebay - the seller didn't mention the spine looking like a small child had chewed on the ends. 
  • A proof of David Vann's new book - I won it via Twitter. 
  • Another proof of a non fiction title called 'Don't give up the day job' - the book is about writers and their jobs, before their writing careers. 
  • Hopefully I'll finish 'The Creative Habit' too. 

Lets hope I get some time to go to Cheddar Gauge, play some crazy golf and enjoy some cider!

See you in a week's time :)

P.S. I am taking my winter coat as well.

Friday, 27 August 2010

The Final Countdown

Can't stop for long - high priority editing is happening.

So, this is the 200th post and also the blog's second anniversary! And this could possibly be the shortest blog post ever as well.

Last weekend I set myself a challenge to edit three chapters. I normally manage two. But this weekend I did four chapters and also another chapter's paper edits. This means I am now 10 pages away from finishing this draft.

It is now all hands to the deck to get those ten pages edited before tomorrow as I am off on holiday for a week and I would really like to take away a full MS to work on and also make a start on the Synopsis. So in between working, a meal at my boyfriend's mum's house, frantic packing, finding books to take on holiday and actually breathing - I am going to edit those last few pages.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Finding The Time to Write

Finding the time to write (or edit - which is all I seem to do these days) can be hard. I have a full time job, householdy jobs, dealing with buying a house, preparing for a holiday too. This isn't a 'woe is me' sort of post, no. This is going to be one of posts about finding the time to write.

I find, having my own desk is great motivation for me. I can leave out my notebook, I can leave scribbled chapters in piles and have all my pens sticking out of old mugs. All of my 'stuff' is accessible. I also find crap TV good too - it means there is nothing to lure me into an evening coma. Reading great books is always helpful and films as well. I find having other hobbies can help by having something else to compare with writing. I like cross stitch because once its done, its done. While writing is mostly rewriting.

All my writerly-attention is on the novel at the moment. At first I resisted, wanting to write and edit short stories at the same time but I have found that once I am in editing-mode than there is no point trying to break out.

My new, recent discovered routine is to do the paper edits for chapters during the week. I can sit down with a chapter (or ideally two) in the evening, either at my desk or lounging across the bed, and scribble notes with my mechanical pencil, cross out stupid sentences and hopefully make improvements for the best. I tend to write/edit for around two-ish hours in the evenings. At the weekend I transfer my notes to the Word document.

Teresa, over on her blog recently suggested a technique that I am going to try. She makes a note of the time she spends writing but putting little blocks down to symbolize the time. One little block equals one hour. Click this sentence to read Teresa's post. I am going to try this is see HOW much time I spend on writing/editing. I have a feeling it will be less than first thought.

Editing update - I am only six more chapters away from finishing this edit cycle and then its back to the begin.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Longlisted and More Editing

Big news first! The first 500 words of my novel has been long listed in a novel openings competition. The prize is lunch with an agent. I am really chuffed and good luck to the other long listers too!

The main question was - do I want to read on? I have this question in my head, helping me as I trawl through the different drafts. So it's good to know that my first 500 words can pull the reader into the story.

You can click on this sentence to read the announcement. 

Even if I don't get short listed than at least I will have the motivation to carry on- another kick up the bum is always good.

I have been editing, trying to write an overall synopsis. I know have a two hundred word-ish overview of the novel. The next step is going to be chapter breakdown and trying to get the synopsis to sound enticing and intriguing. I am currently editing chapter sixteen via paper notes and editing chapter fifteen on the screen. So nine more chapters left and I'll be ready for another round of editing.

I also like this article in the Guardian about experimental fiction making a comeback. Say no to the norm!

Experimental fiction: Is it making a comeback?

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

On Creativity and Imagination

Last week I listened to Grayson Perry (Turner Prize winner) on Radio 4 about creativity and imagination. (I’m not sure if the programme is still available online). With several guests, Perry discussed ‘what does it mean to be creative?’

Here are a few bullet points on some really great insights:
  • Perry has a concrete beam in his studio, engraved with ‘creativity is mistakes’
  • Being creative is about ‘feeding yourself’ – looking, looking, looking at the world around you; listening, listening, listening; a constant process – it is about storing away ideas.
  • Technology has helped ‘creatives’ escape the linear process of working – cut and paste, starting at the end, muddling up the structure.
  • Difficult for writers is ‘letting go’ – I agree with this one. I have only recently let a few people read the first chapter of my novel.
  • Creative types need reassurance from the outside.
  • Perry said ‘imagination is a curse’ as you’re constantly thinking of new situations. An idea comes into your head as a ‘golden glow’ impression (the romantic, perfect version) but then in reality it has spiky detail.
  • A fashion designer talked about what he looks for in students and I thought it also applies to writers too – an ability to investigate in a new, novel, structural way. You need to create an environment with discipline, styles, encouragement. ‘Love and boundaries.’
  • Autobiographical writing – take self forward and not to look back and write but to go forward and make new discoveries. Pretend to be someone else. Writing is a journey of exploration NOT the old saying of ‘write what you know.’
  • Prime quality – ‘be relaxed.’

Saturday, 24 July 2010

How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe

I finished Charle Yu's debut novel, 'How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe.' And it is brilliant! So I have decided to write a review but with a twist. So, here goes.

A review recipe 
Place the following into a novel- creation blender:

A pint of Time Travel machine.
Add one time travel technician
Add one imaginary pet dog
Plus one operating system, TAMMY

Three dollops of time loop.

Add a shot of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Add a half shot of Back to the Future
A drizzle of Time Traveler's Wife
The comedy of Red Dwarf
Sprinkling of 1980s

Blend until a creamy, razor sharp plot starts to form. Add some a tea spoon of sugar to enhance the geeky fun.

This is not just a book for science fiction lovers but for anyone who likes literary fiction, likes comedy, likes novels within novels. Even Audrey 'Time Traveler's Wife'-fame Niffnegger agrees: "Tremendously clever...How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe is marvellously written, sweetly geeky, good clean time-bending fun." 

Saturday, 17 July 2010

An Excuse, A Novel Update, A Book Recommendation and Writing Analyzer

So, July, mid July. Sorry little blog but I have excuses - really ones not 'faky' ones. I have had an injection in the back of my head for my headaches, I currently have a severe ear infection and there have been a lot of birthdays too. 


My novel can't get too angry with me as I have been doing a lot of paper edits and I am nearly half way through this edit. At the end of this will be a fourth draft. Wow. I can't I have come this far. I used to dream about novel drafts and how cool it would be to have a fifth draft. I know, my dreams are SAD but well, you know, it is actually cool. 


I am currently reading a proof copy of Charles Yu's 'How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe.' This book is about a time machine technician who lives in the present-indefinite. He finds himself stuck in a rut, trying to avoid work and using the time to spy on different versions of himself. If you liked Steven Hall's Raw Shark Tales than you're going to love this.  I have only read 81 pages but I already recommending this to every one. It. Is. Great. 


Coding Robots have created a program to compare a sample piece of writing with their databanks and will then tell you what famous author you write like. I threw in my first chapter and it has come back with 'David Foster Wallace.' A writer who I have always wanted to read but never gotten around too. So that's my Amazon wish listed topped up for another day! Website here . 

Monday, 28 June 2010

Novel Fatigue

I might have novel fatigue. Of course, I have self-diagnosed myself so I could have over-dramatised the symptoms so I could label myself with a 'condition' to explain my lack of motivation for my novel.Symptoms include a reluctance to head to my desk after work and spend the evening editing (either on the screen or paper), wondering why I am bothering to write a novel, dreading about people reading it and shaking their heads in disgust, having no motivation to transfer my edits. Those seem to be the core symptoms at the moment. 

I have found relocating myself has helped. Away from the desk and on to the sofa or even the bed. Editing seems so much easier when you can lounge and have your legs resting on the mattress or coffee table.


I'm sorry novel - I only managed to edit one chapter this weekend but don't feel too bad because there is two weeks of washing that needs ironing so I'm having to wear jeans and a short sleeved jumper on one of the hottest days of the year.


I am keeping creative - I am currently cross stitching Monet's Japanese Bridge. Its a huge project but I am nearing the finishing line. I might try writing a short story and take a break. But then maybe writing this will motivate me again.

P.S. I passed my driving test first time!


P.P.S Caroline Smailes has a new book out and a new widget - become a bee and answer some questions. I have discovered a lot of new blogs too http://www.carolinesmailes.co.uk/hive (I'm a fat pink bee!)

Saturday, 19 June 2010

My Bookmark Collection

I have always liked bookmarks. The first I can remember having was a maroon leather one with gold lettering of a grand old house. I used it for all my library books. Then it went missing. One day I had it, using it in a thick book (I felt like a grown up with such a heavy book, shame it was mostly illustrations) and then it was gone. I moved on and read my way through the Dr Seuss books at the library and then a few months later the thick book was back on the shelf. I loved this book. I opened the book and out slid my lovely bookmark. After that I wrote my name on the back and always shook books before handing them back.

Then working in the bookshop reignited my love for bookmarks. Every time a publisher sent some I would take one and add to my collection:





I got the Egyptian Mummy bookmark when I was nine! I have over fifty - I have never counted but I know I have a lot - there are some in my books too. I have also used postcards in the past (good for when you need to make notes about a book) and also the cover's sleeve. I have never folded over a corner of a book (!), yet I have written in biro in some of them.

In the past I have made bookmarks for presents too - either cross stitched ones, hand drawn ones or ones made on the computer. And people give them to me as presents too (the dolphin one was from my sister).

However, my current  bookmark is a tatty old post-it note with a 'three-for-two' sticker on it. I just don't want to ruin any of my bookmarks!

Monday, 7 June 2010

Room – Emma Donoghue



I was lucky enough to pick up a proof copy of Emma Donoghue’s Room at London Book Fair back in April. I’m glad I did because this book is brilliant.

This is a compelling story about Jack, five, and his Ma, being held captive by ‘Old Nick’ in a Room. The room, measuring 11 feet by 11 feet, with a locked door and a skylight, conceals them from real life. Jack likes the TV and thinks Dora from Dora the Explorer is his best friend. Their only visitor is Old Nick but Jack always stays in the wardrobe when Nick comes to visit. Thins start to change when Ma tells Jack there is a world outside.

Told in Jack’s voice, this is a story with credible characters who drew me into the story. Jack is just superb with his observations about the world around him. I especially like his ‘word sandwiches’ where he squashed two words together to form a new one. I remember doing that when I was younger (and still do it now!).

I would say it is an uncomfortable read but that’s the one way it can be due to the subject matter. The humour took off the edge and kept me reading to find out what happened to the characters. Its one of those sorts of books you will not forget after closing the back page. There have been some comparisons to The Lovely Bones but I would say this is better. This is one of those books that you think, I wish I had written this.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Words To Help Me Through The Next Draft

Last night I took the plunge and started editing chapter one. At the moment my head is full of novel and I want to use it all before it falls out of my head. So, sorry short stories but you're going to have to find someone else to tease with ideas. (I will write you down in my notebook, ready for later, I Promise (see, I even used a capital 'P'.))

Hopefully all the major structural changes to the novel have been made. So, it is now down to a spit and polish. And maybe, some minor structure changes if a chapter is completely rubbish. I have written a list of words in my notebook to inspire me though this draft. 


Engaging
Original
Gripping
Specific
Detail - especially in the later chapters
Plot progression
Probing and poking further
Narrator's voice

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Hello Draft Three Welcome to My Desk

I now have a third draft. Some chapters have needed complete rewrites or have been reshuffled. A lot of chapters had whole paragraphs removed and even pages were scrapped. I have added more 'character voice' and taken out the 'author voice.' More description went into this draft too. Maybe I should add some salt and pepper for good measure?

Some stats (because we all deep-down love word counts):

End of first draft - 291 pages = 82,389 words
End of second draft - 248 pages = 71,002 words

I might have a break for a few weeks from the novel and attempt some short/flash stories. Or I might jump back on the wagon and edit like I have never editted before.

Preparing for the next draft (a bit like a royal visit):

  • Back up all relevant files - I do this monthly - I have lots of files on my USB stick called 'backup month year'
  • Tidy away papers from last draft - start with a clear space. 
  • Get favourite editing pen ready to do some damage and/or repair. 

Friday, 28 May 2010

I Recommend These Books

As well as nearly being finished with the first draft and preparing to scribble over the second, I have taken some time out to read some great books. So here are my recommendations for the bank holiday:

The Rehearsal – Eleanor Catton – This debut novel is one of those Marmite books with the reviewers. I tend not to listen too much to what they say so I grabbed this one. This book is about the effects of a sex scandal at a girls’ school and also how the local acting school decide to turn into a play. One of the major questions through out the book ‘is adolescence a rehearsal for real life?’ and ‘What is reality?’ The main reason for liking this book is the way the story jumps around in the narrative, cutting to different time frames in the plot, swapping view point. There are flawed characters – I like that because it represents real life. 

Eleanor keeps a blog here: Eleanor Blog

DELLA SAYS: OMG! – Keris Stainton – I own a signed copy of this book thanks to Twitter and Keris. This book takes me back straight to the days of searching the school library for Judy Blume books and pretending I was a year eight so I could take out the ‘naughty’ ones. ‘Della Says’ is about Della losing her diary after a party at her house. A summer romance happens with the boy of her dreams but there is someone out there with the diary, ready to make it all crumble. Here we have a honest protagonist – an icon for a generation – telling it like it really is. None of that fluffy Enid Blyton. The voice of the character pulls you straight in, making the book a compulsive read. I only stopped reading this because I needed to sleep and also I needed to go back to work after lunch.

Keris has a great blog here. Keris Blog.

 I am currently reading ‘Room’ by Emma Donoghue. I believe it has been tipped to be the big seller for this year. The book is about a young woman and her son being kept in a basement away from real life. The story is told in the voice of a five year old. I’m twenty pages in but so far I am intrigued to continue.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Inkspill Magazine

My short story, Jasper's Betrayal, has been published in the first issue of Inkspill Magazine. Originally the story was going to be about imaginary friends but then developed in to something slightly different.

There are not just short stories but articles, debates, poetry and photography. One of my class mates from Roehampton is also tucked inside the covers too. Big up Ray with her great poetry! The front cover reminds me of some of the older Mslexia covers with its wispy font and enticing colours.


You can either buy a print copy for £3.50 or download for £1.50. You won't be disappointed. There are some great pieces in this issue.

Inkspill Magazine is run by Sophie Playle during her spare time (in between writing and full time work). I believe she is open to submissions until the end of the month.

Thank you Sophie.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Website Recommendation and Editing Update

I subscribed to the email from Writers' Centre - some of their events are local and some aren't but it is interesting to know what is happening in East Anglia, England. It's a shame to see nothing seems to happen in Bedfordshire (writing wise).

They have recently redesigned their website and they now have a section for writers. There is alot of great information and links on this website, not just for locals but for all writers.

Writers Centre - Writer's Area

Editing update - I am currently redrafting chapter 21 on the computer and chapter 22 is on the clipboard with lots of scribbles. Draft two is nearly ready for printing off. Then the whole editing process starts again. I have already lost 10,000 words. I am going to end up with a poem if I'm not careful...

Monday, 10 May 2010

Creative Writing Courses - Part 2 - My Experiences

Here’s the second part of creative writing courses. Last time it was advantages and disadvantages, this time it is my experiences of the courses. Please note these are my experiences. I have tried to offer good parts and bad parts.

Evening course – ‘Creative Writing’

  • This was taken over 15 weeks on a Monday evening in a further education college. I took the course during my gap year so I could get a taster on what my degree would entail. Plus, I was still under 19 and the course was free. So nothing to lose. The tutor on the course was a writer (although she never pointed us in the direction of published work) and also a life coach. I remember her talking more about her life coaching then writing.
  • Basically, we wrote what ever we wanted. There was no theme or structure. There would be a small discussion on ‘scripting,’ etc but nothing substantial.
  • The tutor told us to read ‘Rebecca.’ This was the only book on the reading list.
  • I dropped out half way through. I handed over a story about a woman getting revenge on her cheating husband and his girlfriend (it was crappy). The tutor didn’t like the fact that the protagonist was a sinner who also got away with murder. She should in imprisoned or bet still, kill herself at the end. As well as the lessons being a sham and this comment – well, it pushed me over the edge… I smiled politely and then sloped off home during the break. Somehow, I still ended up with a certificate.


Degree course – ‘BA Creative Writing’

  • I picked this course as I wanted to be creative in every module, not have to write essays every two weeks or take exams at the end of the semester. I wanted to challenge my creativity. I really enjoyed the poetry, fiction and scriptwriting (in the second year) strands of the degree. This was also an opportunity to write three chapters of a novel for the third year project. I didn’t continue the novel after my course but it has helped since.
  • Experimental techniques were explored - my favourite module!
  • I really enjoyed all of the fiction writing and poetry modules. Scriptwriting made sense in the second year but journalism wasn't my cup of tea. 
  • I wish there were more tutorials and feedback. One each term for each module was enough and going to see a tutor within office hours was a nightmare.
  • Some people didn’t want to be there and would chatter through the class. They were normally the people who begged for feedback but never returned the favour or bother coming to the editing group.
  • I thought the course would make me more prolific – I imagined we would roll out a story/poem every week (as most critics think about these courses). I was wrong (which is good) as it is more like one story per module – those editing skills are really put to the test.
  • There was a lot of ‘free time’ outside the class room so writing could be done with out the pressure of constant lectures.
  • Went to some of the events in the uni and got to hear some of the tutors perform. I wish they had run some sort of ‘open mic’ or performance for the students to perform their work and/or an anthology. However, the course was fairly new.
  • There was no career advice.
  • No one talked about the internet and its opportunities.

Postgraduate – ‘MA Professional Writing’

  • I picked this course because it was near enough to commute, fairly reasonable fees and offered a scope of choices. The tutor was also really enthusiastic on the opening day and also encouraging. But it all came crumbling down …
  • Lesson after lesson was spent listening to one person read out their story as the tutor verbally corrected the grammar. This was the sort of thing that screams tutorial.
  • We had to do a module on ‘research methods.’ It was a waste of time and dull. We even spent a whole session on using Google.
  • I wanted to extend my knowledge on experimental methods. But most of the group in the ‘creative writing’ module got annoyed that my story had no dialogue. But apparently, every story must have dialogue. Oh right. You better tell those big name authors the same.
  • My project was a shambles. My supervisor said my project was chick-lit because it had a female protagonist.
  • Writing London was one of the best modules - Trips around the capital for inspiration. 
  • I took arts reviews - I like reading reviews but I learnt, not very good at writing them. But at least it gave me practice of reading out work in front of an audience. 
  • The course was aimed more at Journalists and people who preferred non fiction. I did manage to write a few pieces. But a career in journalism isn't for me. 
  • Tutorials were not encouraged.
  • I did come out with a couple of pieces of writing, which were published/awarded a prize.

So, I passed my Masters degree. I have no regrets though because it offered me a chance to concentrate on my writing without worrying about a full time job.

I developed a bad case of writer’s block after that course and even thought about giving up for a while. But I couldn’t let the negative hold me back. Okay, I’ll shut up now because I’m starting to sound like a self-help book.

Friday, 7 May 2010

The View From Here Magazine - Print Edition

Issue 23 of The View From Here Magazine is now available. My story, Sandbox, featured last month on their website will now be in print. Which is exciting - one of the writing resolutions was to have at least one piece appear in a 'real life' magazine.

You can buy the magazine from here.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Creative Writing Courses - Part 1- Advantages / Disadvantages

I am going to be writing a couple of posts about the advantages/disadvantages of creative writing courses and also my experiences (part 2). I thought it might be useful for a few people. when I thought about applying for a CW degree I googled about the advantages but there wasn't much out there at the time. So I hope this might help someone at some point.

I also want to point out that:
  • I know a lot of writers who did creative writing courses and have gone far e.g. published, agents, book deals. 
  • I know a lot of people who stopped writing as soon as their certificate was nailed above their fire place. 
  • I also know a lot of people who didn't do a course and have succeeded too. 
At the end of the day, even if you do a course or you don't do a course, you will still need the following:
  • Motivation
  • Determination
  • Dedication 
  • Realistic about rejection/acceptance
  • Plus ideas, of course!
Advantages for creative writing courses:
  • Discipline - You can't put it off. A deadline is a deadline. 
  • Motivation - Prompts help a lot of people. Also preparing for editing groups is a good kick up the backside.
  • Feedback - From peers and tutors. My advice is to be in an editing group that your best friend or flatmate isn't in. You want partial advice, not someone who is overly nice/nasty. However, having a friend on the same course can help you have someone to bounce off ideas and have pre-edit discussions. Feedback helps push one to be a better writer and step up one's game.
  • Competitive - Not racing but having the attitude of 'I want to write a story that will get clapping too.' It is healthy. Again, it's motivational and it spurs you on to write. 
  • You can learn the rules and then break them. 
  • Book recommendations - find new writers to explore. 
  • Like-minded friends. 
  • You need to also remember - the tutor's advice isn't always the right advice. Get confident with your own judgements.
Disadvantages for creative writing courses: 
  • Money
  • Time - a degree is three years. Someone famous once said writing is a lifelong apprenticeship so those three years are just a drop in the ocean (I might have paraphrased). 
  • You can find a lot of advice in 'how-to' books or essays on the internet. 
  • Attitude of 'you can't teach talent' - no you can't. Its about nurturing. 
  • Read, read, read is the best education and then write, write, write - Actually this is the best advice!
  • You can only work on assignments.
Having a degree doesn't give you the advantage over someone who hasn't got a degree. Its about the words you write. You can also create most of the advantages at home by making up your own deadlines, own goals, etc.



I will be also writing a post about my experiences of attending a BA, MA and also evening class soon. One was a complete disaster, another one had be reconsidering my future and another one got good near the end.  

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Writing and Also Not Writing

I only seem to be here once a week, maybe twice. Sorry. I am attempting to finish the first draft's edits. The internet modem is switched off when I get back from work and then I type. Type until my eyes are heavy and my fingers can't type. Chapter nineteen is being added to the already huge file and chapter twenty is waiting in the wings. I'm not writing in my notebook or even creating new short stories. I feel bad about that but all my concentration is on the novel at the moment. Am I putting all my eggs into one basket? Probably. I could end up being the only one who reads it.


When I haven't been editing I have been doing the following:

Radio
Listening to Naomi Alderman's Lessons on Book at Bedtime. I normally catch up the day after. A lot of writers seem to write about university for their second novel.

Reading
Our Tragic Universe by Scarlett Thomas. I think this is one of my favs from Thomas. Philosophical about story telling yet also readable.

Craft
I am currently working on Monet's Japanese Bridge in cross stitch.

TV
I am now on season three of West Wing. Plus Glee. I haven't seen the Madonna episode, yet. The writing is so sharp and funny. I don't care if watching Glee is considered low-brow. We can't always be pretentious all the time. 

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Dear Chapter 19, or 18, Sorry, I Can't Remember

Dear Chapter 18/19

Deepest apologies for not spending much time on you over the past week. Three pages of edits isn't good enough.

However, I have been busy. Monday was London Book Fair and I was so tired after work that I went to bed early. I did get several new pens and I promise to use some on your pages. Tuesday, as you remember, I worked on you for a while. Crossing out sections, adding new chunks, making characters more menacing and making others stronger. I didn't do much because I watched an episode of West Wing (I'm years behind). Last night, we shared some time together and got another couple of pages written but again you were sandwiched between West Wing and bedtime reading. Tonight, I am going to the cinema to see 'The Ghost.' Its about a writer, so I guess that is allowed, right? I will try to edit you some more afterwards but I can't promise.

I guess I am having 'Editing Fatigue.' I  edited and redrafted two chapters last weekend. I'm not looking for the sympathy vote just for you to understand that I have my reasons for you to still be sitting on my clipboard, probably tucked away under a pile or slung under the bed.

I have also been doing some crafty hobbies too and reading. Chapter 18/19, don't laugh but I am reading some chick-lit. Sometimes it's nice to have a break. Plus over the past week I have won a book, got my mitts on a proof and have a nice shiny pile of books.

I promise to type up my notes at the the weekend. Even if I have to do it early one morning or late into the evening.

With love,
ME X

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Sandbox up at The View From Here Magazine

I have a new flash fiction piece up at The View From Here Magazine.

Sandbox is a piece about raining sand. I read an article last year about China shooting pellets in the sky to create rain and it got me thinking about other sinister ways this could technology could be used against people.


The story will also appear in the May printed edition.

Thank you View From Here Magazine :)

Friday, 9 April 2010

In Your Face Chapter 15

In your face Chapter 15 - I won!

Somehow, the interwebs stopped working last Saturday. The world was going to end. No more home shopping, no more virtual friends, no more blogging. The end of the world was going to end with a 'we-can't-connect-you' message. But there was a new dawn and Chapter 15 came bursting out with a new plot, new location, same narrator but in first person narrative and shorter.

So now I am tackling Chapter 16 who seems to be more polite and healthier than its sibling.

Writing Haiku everyday is coming on nicely - I try and write one or two before bedtime in my ntoebook. It feels good to be writing something new.


I keep worrying about not having ideas for novel two. Why can't there be books or courses about the second novel? What if I only have one novel inside me? Oh, second novel, why are you cursed? AND why am I worrying about this now - I have my first to edit and nurture.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Conversations with Chapter 15

ME: So, chapter fifteen we meet again. Are you ready for your turning of edits, scribbles and rewrites?

CH15: Hold on, slow down. What do you mean chapter 15? Somehow, between being typed on the computer and printed off I have slipped down the pecking order from chapter 7 to 15. I liked 7 it is my favourite number.

ME: Chapters have been renumbered. I gave numbers to the alphabet chapters - you're still in the same place in the novel-

CH15: Nobody remembers the fifteenth chapter. (Goes off to sulk in the corner). Do you know what is even more hurtful? Can you guess, no, well you said when writing me that I was the hardest chapter to write but it didn't mattered because you would polish me up, make me sparkle for the second draft. But I have heard rumours that my make-over is more radical.

ME: Did chapter thirteen tell you that? Because he is a slippery character.

CH15: It doesn't matter if it was chapter eight or 13. I wanna know what you're planning.

ME: Okay, you want the truth. I nearly binned you from the novel. Cut you out of the credits. Got the other chapters to cover your shift.

CH15: You what?

ME: Don't get upset. I thought about it and I thought, chapter 15 is one of the good guys.

CH15: You don't need to tell me that. Just look at that line of girls waiting at my door. I'm a superstar.

ME: So and this is a big SO, you are going  to be renovated back to the foundations and rebuilt. An extreme make over.

CH15: It sounds like you're going to knock me down, rip out the original features and make a different chapter 15.

ME: Nobody wants to know about the main character's day at work. No body cares if her boss wants to offer her a promotion even though she is part of some sort of Resistance group. No tension. Plus it doesn't move the plot forward.

CH15: Readers like routine. It makes people feel safe.

ME: No it doesn't. It is boring.

CH15: Now you're hurting me.

ME: Look, its going to be for the best. I want you to be a chapter that matters. Don't you?

CH15: I suppose so. (He climbs back on to the pile of paper and waits his turn patiently).

Monday, 29 March 2010

Comps and Challenges

There are a few competitions coming up - I saw the links on Twitter and I thought lets share them.

Harpers Magazine - deadline 12th April - write a short story based on the theme of the 'face.'

She Magazine are also running a competition - write a short story based on the theme of 'summer.' - The details were in the previous edition of the magazine.

One for the poets. I know you're out there, lurking in alleyways. April is Poetry writing month or NaPoWriMo (a bit like novel writing month in November). The idea is that you write a poem for each day in April. I really want to write something new but the novel is munching at my time. So, my plan is to write one or possibly two haiku everyday.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Progress Report

I am now technically half-way with editing the first draft – lets just say I have definitely cut 10 percent off the word count. What happens if the word count is too low? My boyfriend said. I don’t know. I really don’t know.

The chapters alternate between two female characters – I have now decided to put one in first person because I want the reader to know her opinions, see the world from her eyes. Also, give her a unique voice in doing so. I don’t want the character to have the same voice as the other character or even sound like me.

I haven’t written any new stories at the moment but I did edit two chapters over the weekend – which counts though don’t it? I also slashed out the beginning of chapter 13 – something that took six pages to explain (!) is now one paragraph. Bish. Bash. Bosh.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Lunchtime Reading

Recently, (okay January), The Guardian published an article about the winter ruining lunchtime reading. The writer couldn’t sit out amongst the snow nor sit at their workplace because of the noise. I agreed to the article. If I am reading the best-book-since-sliced-bread then I can concentrate through rustling crisp packets, VIP phone calls and the temptation of the internet. However, I prefer to read on the train, in bed, in the bath and on the sofa. Places away from the computer. I still read at lunchtime but I prefer to use the time to catch with blogs and websites. I thought I would share with you (and also help me organise my bookmarks).

Bookshelves – photographs of people’s shelves

The Intern – an anonymous blog about the publishing industry

The Literary Project – interviews with authors/agents/editors

Mslexia – Reading the blog.

Naomi Alderman – author of ‘Disobedience’ – one of the rest reads from last year. 

Passive Aggressive Notes – because there are a lot of angry people in this world

Good Reads – a good place for storing my reading past, present and future.

And the blogs on my blogroll!

Do you read at lunchtime?

Thursday, 11 March 2010

New Look

I have made some changes - all the links to my published pieces are now available on the 'Published works' tab (just below the header). There is also new pages for 'About me' and 'Reviewed works.' I am trying to organize the blog because it has become more of a permanent home rather than a fad. 

Monday, 8 March 2010

Tell Me How You Write

Teresa is running a 'Tell me how you write' series over on her blog at the moment. Jo Stanley, Nik Perring, Diane Becker and Alex Thornber have all stopped by and given a same account of their processes. Now it is my turn. Click on below link if you fancy a read.

Tell Me How You Write - Jessica Patient 

I have written about the role of notebooks in my writing and how important they are to me before even hitting the first key on the computer.

My novel notebook is currently suffering from overload - I'm adding more notes every day for plot changes, name changes, notes to add more detail, notes to take out detail.


I have also been reading alot of blog posts recently about the dreaded second novel. And it has got me thinking, what if I can't write another one? What if this is it? What if there are no more ideas left in my head once I have finished editing? I know, I know, there is no need to worry because I am still editing and redrafting this one. I just can't help it.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Snowman - A Love Story at Metazen

My short story, Snowman - A Love Story, is up at Metazen today.

Snowman - A Love Story 

I wrote the story back when it snowed, snowed and just kept snowing. I remember standing at the window, looking out over the street and watching the old woman next door shuffle out of her door and drag her bin back. She has a husband but we never see him. The writing cogs started turning.

This is also the firt story I wrote after finishing the first draft of my novel. 

Subbing the Old Fashioned Way

In a time where people are converting to eco ways, creating simpler work processes, making the world more accessible. Why are some literary magazines asking for postal submissions and postal submissions only?

I have just literally sealed up the envelope for a short story. Snail mail is so last century. The literary magazine in question (who shall remain anon) has a decent website, has a blog, and even e-versions of the print magazine. Postal submission doesn't seem to fit with their digital vision. To be honest, postal submissions is a bit backwards.

The company I work for embraces technology for submissions and queries. Firstly, it stops wastage of paper (paper comes from trees) and secondly, the query can be dealt with quicker. Postal is so long winded, for the writer and for the editor at the other end. And in these 'economic times' money saving ideas are the only things to save magazines and publishers. I have heard of E-book readers be used by editors to read submissions.



What do others think?
Should postal submissions be thrown into a museum along with dino bones or should we save this extinct method?

Added - An article about the same idea - Email Submissions: Why we love them (and hate them).

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Happy World Book Day

This was my favourite time of year when I worked in Bookselling. Every school child got a book token and those book tokens made a lot of children happy and their parents a little poorer.



What will you be reading today?
I am currently enjoying Rapture by Liz Jensen.


World Book Day Website

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Out With The Theory and In With The Creativity

Blogging, writing any new stories and reading has been put on hold since my birthday. Reading the Highway code, reading the big car theory book and watching the hazard awareness DVD had become my number one occupation after working and sleeping. I now know about speed signs, first aid and lane restrictions. I also know too much about the colour of studs on the motorway. It feels like a curse.
I passed!
That means I can start enjoying all the books I got for my birthday. This includes: England's Best Loved Poems edited by George Courtauld, Scorch Atlas by Blake Butler and The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp.

The editing is progressing slowly - but that is fine with me. I have split two chapters into four chapters! Plus I have a growing notebook with notes for the next draft. I have also scribbled all over chapter one, again.

Saturday, 20 February 2010

A Quarter of a Century

It's my birthday today. Quarter of a century. That sounds old so lets stick to 25.

I always see birthdays as my new year. I can either restart any resolutions or think of new ones. I seem to be doing pretty well with most of them. The driving is progressing - the theory test is in 2 weeks time, going to the gym and losing weight is one of those longer-term goals and the editing is progressing, slower than I thought but these things can't be rushed. The whole writing one story per month is a bit of a squeeze so I am adapting it to be 'write something new every month.' This will include non fiction too. 

Image from Google - searched for 'birthday.'

Friday, 19 February 2010

Inspiration for Chapter Two

Chapter two started life as a short flash fiction published over at Six Sentences last year. Full Stop. I remembered struggling to write the chapter and ended up creating a smaller piece. This was a turning point in the story as I hadn't yet decided on having two voices for the novel but ay that moment I realized that I wanted to tell both sides of the story. So I wrote the one of the Character A, living in the city first. All the 'odd' number chapters. This took the longest - she seemed to be a harder character than I first imagined. However, Character B's chapters were pretty quick to write. I knew where she was heading too even though the second chapter was really hard to write. Using shorter fiction to explore the chapter helped me think more about what I wanted to say.

I am currently editing chapter five. There are a lot of scribbles across the first draft. Plus I introduce three new characters in this one and seem to have forgot about one when I wrote the rest of the plot. Is introducing three characters in the space of one chapter too much?

One of the cats is currently using chapter five as a bed. At least the pages will be warm. They are heading back to their Mummy tonight. The zoo  My house will be empty.

Monday, 15 February 2010

A Bus Stop Reader

Hello to the person who is visiting me from a Bedford Bus Stop. I googled the postcode and found you. Hope you have caught your bus by now because Bedford is a scary place when the streetlights go out.

P.S. Watch out for a learner in a Fiat 500 in the Bedford area - I am still struggling with controlled braking. Only kidding. I only mount the curb if there is a chav walking past. Only kidding, again. I can drive. Just about!

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Another Coming Soon Post

My snowman love story will be making an appearance over at Metazen. This should around the beginning of March. This was the first story I wrote after finishing the first draft of the novel.

Also, I will be appearing at Teresa's blog at the beginning of March. I will be writing about my writing process in Teresa's How do you Write? series.

It is also my birthday soon - quarter of a century! I planned to retire at 25 when I was younger. Somehow, I don't think this will be happening.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Editing Update

It's quite curious how this novel needs varying levels of redrafting. Some need reworked sentences or paragraphs removed while other chapters need to be tossed aside, ready for a better version. I have already convinced myself there will be another BIG edit after this edit. I want to make it as good as possible.

Chapter One  was clunky and full of false starts. I have saved back some information. I don't want everything being explained in the first chapter. There needs to be a reason for reading onwards.

Chapter Two did not need too much work. some of the paragraphs needed swapping around at the start but other rather that, it seems to flow okay.

Chapter Three needed a small section taken out - it didn't advance the story - Still need to add notes, changes and additions to my 'draft 2' file.

Chapter Four has had to have a complete makeover. Back to the foundations and start again. It has been a bit of a headache but the big chunk of flash back in the middle broke up the 'present action' - I am currently experimenting with feeding it in with the action .

Thursday, 4 February 2010

The First Edit of Chapter One (I)

I have done the first edit for chapter one - I am already thinking about the next edit - breaking down into scenes - looking deeper.



I have used wordle to help me first, create a nice pattern out of the words in chapter one but second, to also help me see which words I over use (ones in the big font) - ouch 'LIKE' is one. Must remember to stop using it too often.

Now, back to the second chapter.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Coming Soon

My first submission of the year has also become my first success of the year. woohoo. My short piece of fiction, Sandbox, about the world drowning in sand, will appear around April time on The View From Here website and then again in the print edition in May.

My second submission of the year is still in an inbox in the internet world. It is quite a seasonal story (about snow) so I have a feeling that this story will be rejected. Fingers-crossed that they say yes. The story is also a love story (my one and only romantic story so far) so they might like it for Valentine's day.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Roman Numerals

It is time to bring back the Roman Numeral (notice the capital on both words - shows Importance!).

I II III IV V VI VII VIII IX X

Publishing houses have house styles and these poor fellas have to be converted to 'propa' numbers. Delete them, cross them off. Get rid, get rid! Not everyone can convert them or probably understand. Schools do not tell you.

I II III IV V VI VII VIII IX X

I learnt at a young age. Our old carriage clock had the 'V' and the 'X' and the 'III' on the clock face. Then those capital 'I's' and 'V's' disappeared. You might find them in old fashioned, musty smelling library books but in the real world, well things were different.

I II III IV V VI VII VIII IX X

I have been changing my mind about naming my chapters. Do I give them cheesy subtitles, go for the numbered approach or do I use letters? I know it's a small dilemma when it comes down to the novel. But at least I have one solution. Now back to plot dilemmas.

I II III IV V VI VII VIII IX X

Lets campaign for a bit of class and jolly, pretty number sequences!

Sunday, 24 January 2010

The Year of The Edit

I am writing this post whilst standing up. I would sit on my desk chair but one of the cats has beaten me to it. We are currently looking after my sister's two cats, Bruce (a tabby) and Ginger. The other cat has my dressing gown.

The time has come - I am going to start reading through the novel, making notes, do any corrections and redraft into something worthwhile.

Here are some pictures of the manuscript:












Monday, 18 January 2010

Book Club Could Do Better

There is a new book club programme on UK television at the moment (Sundays, 19.30, More4 channel) called 'The TV Book Club'. The programme makers want to create the same success of talk show host's Richard and Judy and Oprah's book reviewing slots. Big sales, big coverage, big exposure.

Richard and Judy's book club became the biggest thing to hit the book industry since Harry Potter. I remember working at the Bookshop when the first book was reviewed. Nobody expected the book to sell out within an hour. New posters and huge amounts of stock arrived before the next episode - we sold out again. Middle list authors, debut authors were given the limelight.

However, the new bookshop has featured authors who already have a name for themselves - Sarah Waters, Nick Hornby. Six celebrities all try and battle to get their opinion heard. The show is 30 minutes long but they only spent 5 minutes talking about the featured book. The rest of the time was full of snooze-induced fillers. They talked about one the 'guest' host's books for long. Even the credits were annoying - the audience do not need to be told its a bookclub - the titles show us already.

I felt like I was being talked down to most of the time. Maybe the programme isn't aimed at hardcore bookies.

I would like to see a show that investigates the themes, presenters with no ego to parade, more time spent on the booker, maybe feature a few 'civilians' and their comments. Ditch the fillers and go features on the plot, writing style, other books. Maybe give us some extracts.

I hear book sales are already picking up - so the show must be doing something right!

Thursday, 14 January 2010

You Shall Know Our Velocity

I am still reading Dave Egger’s first novel, ‘You shall know our Velocity.’
The book is brilliant – I like the subtle experimental techniques – nothing too flash and over the top. We don’t want to scare the reader. This book is about ‘Hands’ and Will as they go on a journey around in the world in seven days (or try) and try to come to terms with their friend’s death. I read on Wikipedia that there are different versions of this book with some characters taken out, etc. I guess its like having a director’s cut.

I think we could make it onto the list of favourite authors. I’ll try another book and see. The list has been cut recently. A lot of my favourite author’s released new books last year. Great, I thought, 2008 was not a great year for exciting books. So, I got the books when they were released in hardback and sat down. I nearly gave up on one and the others did not stir me. I was disappointed. But maybe next time. Everyone has their writing struggles.

Dave’s Egger’s half memoir, half fiction ‘A heartbreaking work of staggering genius’ is now on my wish list.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Coming out of Hibernation

I’m back from my hibernation – I am starting to feel much better. So much better that I submitted a story about the snow. I did worry that the story may not be ‘seasonal’ anymore but thanks to the cold temps we have snow again! Fingers crossed that the editor likes the story. I have also started another short story but I think this one is going to be different – more experimental – my favourite way of writing.


I have also been watching Joss Whedon’s ‘Dollhouse.’ There have been mixed reviews about this but I didn’t let those bother me. I enjoyed Buffy and Firefly so I took a chance. I really enjoyed it. It’s much better than the new series of Heroes and definitely better than Defying Gravity. Dollhouse is about a corporation which program individuals referred to as Actives (or Dolls) with temporary personalities and skills. They are used as lovers, spies, killers. Science fiction set in the here and now.


Progress on the novel – still sitting on my desk. I am thinking of starting the editing process at the end of February.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Be Back Soon





Not a great start to the new year - a sinus, throat and ear infection. I feel like this is a repeat of September. 

I have made my first submission of the year - fingers crossed. My year also started with some re-reading too. Daphne du Maurier's 'Rebecca' is a warming comfort read when you're ill. I am currently making my way through my first David Eggers' 'You Shall Know Our Velocity' at an alarmingly fast rate. Top notch. Eggers is my new writing hero. 


I will be back soon once I have uncurled from my duvet and have recovered. I am sorry to a few people whose emails and requests are still sitting in my inbox. I will promise to jump back on them once I am feeling more alive. 

Something to think about in the mean time: 



Both images from Google Images.