Sunday, 27 February 2011

The Editing Bin

Today I have been laughing at my past writing self (as well as doing other things). 

I am currently redrafting Chapter One at the moment and it's funny how I thought a conversation exchange between my main character and a member of the chorus was essential. It went on for three pages. There was no plot advancement and it wasn't characterization either. Just a conversation with slight conflict. What was I thinking? I needed to be at the main event. So it was added to the bin. 

Another example is giving away too many details in the first chapter. I want people to read further - not get all the info from the first chapter. I need some intrigue. So another thousand words added to the bin.

A building, central to the plot had a quite bland description before. There was nothing to make it special and it was also 'too perfect' - so out with the old, one sentence description. On the redrafting arrivals lounge was a paragraph of description. 

So, this weekend's editing session involved losing two thousand words, adding another thousand and then cutting 800-ish words. I now have a less flabby chapter that gets to the point. 

Friday, 25 February 2011

Calling the red pen back into action

For a while I have been stuck in the phase of 'I have worked on this for two years and I can't go on anymore,' with my novel. I sent it out to several agents, because that's what you do when you can't stay your novel anymore, isn't it? I got the beginning longlisted in a novel openings competition and then a string of rejections.

Today I was given some great advice. I have new-found motivation for the novel.

I am going to redraft the novel, put it back into edit mode and be savage with the edits and cautious with the 'telling.' I seemed to have given away too much information at the beginning. The theme for this draft is 'subtle.' I don't want to punch, punch, punch the reader with information. I want it to be light kisses. Let the reader put the pieces together. Less sermon, more showing.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Stylish Blogger Award

Lovely Suz over at Bang Out the Prose has given me the Stylish Blogger Award. Thank you Suz!

I really do appreciate the award. It's nice to know other people are reading my blog. I always see these on other blogs and I like them because it means there are new blogs to explore. However, sometimes I don't like it when a blogger gets the award and then says 'anyone who reads this, please take the award.' I think it's nice to take out the time to point people in the direction of new, interesting blogs.

Right, to fully accept the award I need to give 7 random facts and also nominate ten blogs. I also need to thank the person who nominated me (done). Then I need to tell everybody about their nomination.

It's really hard to pick ten blogs. I wanted to have a long list of blogs but I am finding that many have either gone private, deleted or just disappeared. I have heard of bloggers giving up as it's no longer fashionable and then headed to Twitter. (I do both). Anyway, here are my ten nominated blogs but also check out the ones in my blog list (on the side bar).

Seven random facts
1.) I have a blue dressing-gown with an owl on the front. It's called the 'Owl-igan' (rhymes with cardigan).
2.) I will be 26 on Sunday.
3.) I like reading speculative fiction but I sometimes find hard-core science fiction too much.
4.) I am a picky eater - I don't eat pizza - all though the other half has gotten me into curries.
5.) I don't have drinks that contain caffeine.
6.) I am scared about writing down my idea for the second novel just in case it's a rubbish idea.
7.) I have no writing desk at the moment so sitting upright, in bed, is my new desk.

My ten nominations:
Fragments and snapshots
Sophie Playe
Jessie Carty
Noticing things to wonder about
Pains, trains and inkstains
Jenn Ashworth
This writer's life
Ray Morgan
Newtowritinggirl's blog
Matthew James Arts

Friday, 11 February 2011

Moving House

We could be closer to actually moving into our house. That means become a home owner is getting closer. No more landlords to please. Yipee.

At the moment we're staying at a relation's house twenty miles away from our normal location. It means we're closer to work but we are not close to our 'stuff.' We have boxes and bin-liners full of bits and bobs in three locations. I believe there were a lot of book boxes. *Cough* I didn't realise I owned that many!

One thing we have ready for our house are the bookcases. At our first little house with its single glazed windows and no room for drying washing and it being north facing, it became damp very quickly. The bookcases were ruined, a wall was covered in 'black stuff' and some of our books had damp stains too. When we moved we couldn't afford new book shelves so I cleaned them up to the best of my ability.

Now we have new bookcases after getting my wonderful boyfriend to drive to two seperate shops to get ones that match. I'm looking forward to unpacking my books (they have been packed since October) and being surprised by what I own.

I'm down to the last in a pile of books that I pulled out from the main herd, to read while 'squatting.' So I need to move really soon or I might have to visit a bookshop and that will mean another bookcase!

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Save Libraries

I hope I can get this blog post written and posted before my internet dongle decides to disconnect again. I'm currently staying at a relation's house while they do the finishing touches to the house.


Today is Save Libraries day. Across the UK, local councils are going to be making cuts to help bring down the deficit. Libraries are on the line. Which doesn't make sense because they want to bring back strong communities and that's what libraries provide. 

To me, my local library was played a vital part in my childhood. Books are expensive things, especially to a family with only one parent working and another at home, bringing up two children and then the working parent losing their job, thanks to the previous Tory government. 

I read my way through the Dr Seuss books, through a huge book of fairy tales and picture books. I once lost my bookmark and then found it in their 'lost bookmark' box and was so happy that day. I then re-borrowed a book that I had from a previous trip and found another one of my bookmarks. That's why I like collecting bookmarks but don't like using them as I have a habit of mis-placing them. 

Then we moved and our new local library had two floors! Kids, top floor. Adults, bottom floor. There, I graduated from Roald Dahl to Judy Blume, Goosebumps, Point Horror and The Saddle Back Books. I read books on crafts, books on natural disasters, books on aliens, books on weather, books on being a journalist too. I joined the Summer Reading Challenge with my sister and we would have to give mini reviews of each book we read to the Librarian so we could get stickers to add to our charts and then get certificates. 

When my Sainsburys' encyclopedia wasn't up for the job of helping me with homework then I would count on the library. In the late 1990s a computer went into the corner. Wow a computer. Our family couldn’t afford one at that moment. The Encarta CD-ROM was my second option after ploughing through books for research. After some research, I would head straight on the games on the CD-ROM. There was one where you had to use the articles to find your way around the maze and free some one from a castle. I loved that game. It was a sad day when the library upgraded their CD-ROM collection and the newer version didn’t have the game anymore.

I discovered all of my favourite authors at the library. My first Margaret Atwood book happened the summer I left school. My library was really good for having strong backlists of any author. If they didn’t have it then they would order it from another library in the county. All though for some reason, the Librarian would always say that Luton was out of bounds for ordering but any other library in Bedfordshire would be able to send it.

I also helped my Dad with some family history once. One of his relations had a family tree that showed a distant relation who lived in the town we had recently moved to. Using the micro-fiche we tracked down the ‘mystery man’ and his relations via the census to find out that he was an umbrella maker and also spent some time in the local poor house.

Plus the library was where I had my first Internet experience. ‘You mean you type in a word and it finds it?’ Incredible. 

Even when I started working at the bookshop, I didn’t stop going to the library. I would make a note of books and then order them at the library. My family over the years has also rented lots of CDs, VHS and DVDS from the library too.

I strongly believe libraries need to be saved. They are a great place to teach your child to read, a place to show them the ‘world’ isn’t all digital, a place to meet others especially if you go the story time, author events or a local reading event. It can provide you with some quiet time, a place to escape bullies or even a place to read newspapers. They even do large print books, audio books and talking newspapers

A library is so much more than a building.

Please, please don’t shut libraries.