Monday, 12 November 2012

Made it ....

So I didn't manage to write the extra 14K needed by the 14th BUT I did finish the novel, synopsis, plot plan and covering letter and get into the post in time to make the Chicken House deadline.  Was a little unnerving shoving my manuscript into the sack slumped next to the post office counter ... it was far too late to make any changes or even retrieve it from the bag as the next person in the queue dumped a huge parcel on top of mine.  
I've had my first rejection which I'm very proud of as you've got to start somewhere.  I entered it into a competition run by a specialist publisher dealing in science fiction/fantasy ... didn't think it would fit in with their list but it was worth a shot and now I can legitimately create a spreadsheet detailing submissions/rejections. 
Since posting it off I've taken a couple of weeks' breather and started on a new idea ... this time for an adult novel.  It's a theme I've been picking over for ages and have written a few hundred words as a starter.  It's gone off in an entirely different direction than I'd originally planned which is great as every time I dip into it something new comes into my mind. 

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

How long ???

So I knew I hadn't posted anything on here for a while but since April???? that's nearly half a year ago.  My very valid excuse is that I've been concentrating all my writing time on my YA novel that's nearly completed.  It started as a very casual conversation with my two girls one morning last October ... that conversation mulled and worked its way around my subconscious till it came out as a plot for a YA urban fantasy novel, well not just one but a series of three. 
I started writing towards the end of last year and it has kept me up till way past midnight for more days than I'd like to think of trying to get it finished .... I've just started the final chapter and then its there.  It came with me on a couple of holidays this year so I've been able to do quite a bit of editing in the car/on the train so hopefully it won't be such a long job as if it was still in a raw first draft state.
I discovered that Chicken House have a competition running this year and I've got till 26th October to hone it down, write a synopsis etc and send it off ..... good job I double checked the submission guidelines as I'd assumed they'd only need the first three chapters but they want the whole thing sent in the post.  So long as I don't go to bed for the next couple of weeks it should all work out fine.  BUT then I found a link to another publishing house that are looking for novels of 70k and over to be emailed by 14th October .... I'm currently 14k short (been working to a 60k word count) but it's so tempting to submit it to them as well ... why go for one rejection when there's two out there??  Not sure if I'll be able to write another 14k by the 14th as well as complete the editing .. but it's worth a shot. :)
Having completely immersed myself in my latest writing project Jazzy Jam Jar has again been consigned to the bottom of the pile.  I think it's something i will get back to in time but for now it's back in the jam cupboard

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Classic FM ....

I'm about half way through Chapter 10 and have broken through the 20,000 word barrier.  Assuming I'll reach the magic 60,000 that means I'm 1/3rd the way through already .... ok so I've got 2/3rds to go but I'm working on that.  Our computer is stuck in a corner on the otherside of a small wall - in the corner of which stands our tv.  I do the majority of my writing in the evenings when the tv's on.  I was finding it difficult to concentrate - trying get writing done when you've got the Dave Channel permanently blasting into your right ear isn't ideal.  Then I discovered Classic FM ... it's simple, I plug myself into whatever programme's on ... usually Smooth Classics ... and type away into the night without interruption.  I tried going onto You Tube and choosing favourite tracks but I ended up being carried away with watching the videos, looking for other tracks/bands and generally having so much fun that I forgot I was supposed to be writing .... but who could resist Led Zeppelin/Pink Floyd/Jethro Tull/James Taylor/The Style Council/Judi Tzuke/Slade etc. crooning into your ears at 11.30pm?  Once I'm plugged into Classic FM there's no words to sing along to .. or look up when you can't remember them ... just some great background music to block out the monotony that is Dave :)

Thursday, 22 March 2012

No G&T :(

OK, I'm admitting that I didn't make my aim to finish chapter 7 by the weekend ... I got to 1,578 words but not the magic c.2,500 so I didn't get the G&T.  Maybe I'd set my sights too high.  I'm getting on with chapter 7 though ... now around the 2,000 mark so nearly there.  My new goal is to have finished chapter 7 and have started chapter 8 by Sunday evening ... more manageable, even if chapter 8 startes with one sencence :)

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Breaking the barrier

I've broken through the 10,000 word barrier on the YA novel.  Starting a new project's easy - just bash away and a few thousand words later you've made a good start, but it's keeping up the momentum for the 'middle bit' that can be a problem.   Work/family life etc can throw up unexpected diversions that mean the writing gets shoved back to the bottom of the pile.
Small goals seem to work best for me.  I'm aiming at a 60,000 word count for the novel - when you're right at the beginning and only on 3,525 the chances of ever reaching the golden 60,000 seem pretty remote.  So for now I'm working on smaller goals ... climbing up to 10,000 didn't seem nearly as hard or impossible.  It also means I'm 1/6th of the way through.   I'm going to work to a 5,000 goal each time - I've set up an Excel sheet and every time I do any writing/editing on my chapters I frantically do a word count at the end so I can enter the figures and see how what the total word count is, how many to my next mini goal and also how many I need to write to reach 60,000.  Currently I need 4,050 to get to 15,000 which is only around two chapters worth ... if I can get them written by the end of Sunday I'll have a celebratory G&T :)

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Get Writing 2012

We had a fantastic day at this year's conference with a great line up of speakers.  I attended a couple of workshops: the first being characterisation in a fantasty world .... some great ideas to be gleaned by looking how charaterisation/plot/place are intermingled in novels such as Lord of the Rings and Dune.  The other workshop was on plotting a novel in an hour .... loved the idea of starting your novel by getting a few chapters down on paper then taking a step back and plotting out the main elements so you can see where it's going.  I've already used this idea on my YA novel and it's helped me focus on how I'm going to get my heroine to the end.
Pitches .... my 10 minute face time went amazingly well - my main aim was to get a critique on my writing style which is something I've been working on.  The feedback I received was great - good pace/dialogue/flows well; everything I've been striving for so I was more than a bit excited ... shame I can't do cartwheels as I would have flipped a few down the corridoor:)  The three minute pitch was a bit shakey ... it's a fine art getting the essence of your idea across in such a short space of time.  I have, of course, thought of better ways I could have done this since Saturday ...
On reflection I found the face time session so much more valuable in that the editor/agent gets to read the synopsis plus a good chunk of your writing before you meet, so they're already prepared with ideas/views before the time starts.  The 3 minute pitch is very much a chuck it all in and see method where you're sandwiched in between a long line of fellow 3-minuters all rattling away one after the other .... must be pretty overwhelming for those on the receiving line.

Friday, 3 February 2012

One week to go

till Get Writing and my two pitch sessions.  I'm busily working on my three minute pitch which currently consists of pages of notes shoved into my folder ... some of which are illegible as they were written at gone midnight.  Making the notes has helped get my mind more focused on what I'm going to say and, more importantly, the main elements of the novel that I need to get across in the pitch.  Sometimes I find I need to write everything down in minutae detail to get it clear in my head how the plot line is going to work before teasing out the core points. 

Friday, 27 January 2012

Drafting Synopses

I sent off my first 5 pages and synopsis for analysis and no doubt much red inking at Get Writing in February.  5 pages when they're double spaced doesn't add up to many words ... I had to edit hard to get as much of the opening plot line in as I could.  I really like working to a tight structure, it makes you ensure every paragraph works hard to be included.
There's no time for nail-biting as I need to work on a synopsis for my most recent project which I'll be pitching in a 3 minute slot at the same conference ... I've just started writing chapter 4 and know how it's going to end, it's just the bit in the middle I need to work on.  Will be working on some loose ideas for the next couple of novels in the series too... there will be steam coming out of the keyboard tonight :)

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Three days to go until I have to submit the first five pages of my novel ahead of my 10 minute facetime slot at the Get Writing Conference in February.  Eeeeeeek  I've hashed, re-hashed and trampled all over my first chapter and it's still not quite right.  I've consoled myself with half a tin of Quality Street, sat till gone midnight and stared at it till I'm blind with staring.  In a way I can't wait until Saturday, the last day to email it over, so I'll be forced to go with what I've got.
Meanwhile ideas for my new project are bubbling under the surface and I keep making notes full of pure brilliance ... or so they seem at 1am ... until I've finished my synopsis and 5 pages and can get back to it.  I'm pitching the idea of this one to a separate agent in a 3 minute slot so I need to come up with a slick, no-nonsense synopsis between now and 11th Feb. 
In the meantime the allotment is looking good ... I love this time of year as the weeds have stopped growing and I can actually dig a section over knowing that when I go back a week later it won't be covered in nettle seedlings.  I made a Heath-Robinson inspired compost bin last week out of chicken wire and old bamboo canes ... the bamboo canes are adorned with up-ended plastic milk-bottles to make them safe.  It looks hideous but better than poking your eye out.

Monday, 9 January 2012

So the disaster that was the lost chapters fuelled my resolve to plan, plan and plan again to get the novel in good shape to be written and submitted...... That was the theory, but in practice I became so bogged down with the wretched thing that I put it away, closed the folder and left it collecting dust under the bed.  I've just begun to re-visit it mainly due to my having booked myself in for a 10 minute face time slot at February's Get Writing 2012 event.  I'd been struggling with writing the novel in third person and trying to successfully get across the character's emotions and ideals so with an unexpected day off from work last Tuesday I re-wrote it in first person.  I think it works, better than before - there's no time to change my mind now.  My first 5 pages have to be submitted in less than two weeks .............. oh yes and I'm also working on a new young teen novel that I'm booked to pitch in a 3 minute slot.  Glutten for punishment or just plain daft?