Another Nano Success…

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Nanowrimo is done and dusted for another year… the actual event at least. For me the end of November marked 52,000 words through my 80,000 word manuscript- a success in terms of reaching Nanowrimo’s goal of 50,000 words in a month, and I have to admit that I’m feeling pretty good about my progress thus far. My manuscript is much improved, and I have deleted enough words now that I suspect my 80,000 words is actually closer to 65,000 (though there are still missing scenes that will need to be written before I’m done). Needless to say, I’ll be continuing with my edits –  I set myself a due date by which I want my manuscript ready to send out and that time is fast approaching, and I still need a few readers to go over it.

But I wasn’t the only one taking part in Nano in my household, with my two eldest children taking part in the Young Writer’s Program. After the end of the month, we got in and started editing stories, reading back over them and making suggestions for improvements. My 7 year old daughter’s characters had no names, for instance, so I suggested it might be helpful to name them.

Today she decided she wanted to help me edit my story. She read through the first two pages, and told me it was very good, and she really enjoyed it. She read a little further, to a point in the story which involved a group of unnamed men who appear only at this point in the story.
“Do they have names?” she asked.
“No,” I said.
“I think it would be good if they could have names.”
I told her I would keep that in mind, and she grabbed a pencil and jotted down a note in the margin – ‘names for men’.
“There,” she said. “So you remember.”

And there’s another writer in the making…

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November = National Novel Writing Month!

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The year draws to an end, and once again it’s time for the biggest event on the writer’s calendar (well, mine at least). This is the eighth year I’ve participated in Nanowrimo, though for the second time I’m rebelling, and working on my current historical novel. At 80,000 words, my aim it to have it edited ready to send out to beta readers by the end of the month  though the rate I’m going it will be lucky if it’s done before the end of the year! Editing has always been  a slower process for me, as I imagine it is for every writer (well – those who don’t edit as they go – I guess), and this time has been no different.

The month started out well. Despite the fact my opening scene was written only two months ago it seems to fit the story well, and needed little editing. The next few scenes were the same, and even when I found a few scenes that needed a little more work I still completed each one with the feeling of satisfaction – that maybe, just maybe, the words were finally forming the story they are meant to tell.

And then I hit Week 2. The scenes feel a little forced – I feel there is some important underlying thing that I’m missing, and no matter how much I edit and write and think and edit some more it’s not coming to me – this missing thing, this thing that will let the story flow, and not force it along…

So I’m tidying up those scenes – just a little – and moving on to the next scene, and the next. And hopefully by the end I will discover what it is those scenes need. And if I can’t find it – perhaps my beta readers will unlock the missing thing…

So I come to this mid-way point, having lost that feeling of satisfaction and achievement I felt at the beginning of the month, but plodding on none-the-less… always thinking about the story, about what it needs and where it’s going…

Writing Lessons

The ABNA (Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award) results for Round 2 have been announced. Readers of this blog may remember that last month I was excited to announce that my novel ‘Red Sky’ passed through Round 1. Sadly it did not pass Round 2. It is of course, very disappointing, but as part of the ‘award’ of passing Round 1, I received two reviews on the first few chapters.

My initial thoughts: “Ouch.”

While the reviewers had some valid points, which I can appreciate now I’ve had a few days to think about them, the comments of one reviewer really stung. It felt she/he had nothing positive to say, with the one exception – that I had no spelling/grammar mistakes. (And I must give out a great big thanks to my beta readers for helping with this! Kelly, Aislinn, LaVerne, Becky (did I miss anyone?) You all did such a fantastic job, and I really appreciate your hard work!).

The second reviewer has more positives to say – she/he liked the main character – Morgan, and felt the novel was paced well. She/he also called it a fun and jaunty twist on a pirate adventure tale.

While in places the reviewers clashed in their opinions, their comments have given me plenty of guidance on how to improve my novel. Their feedback is invaluable – and best of all, it was free.

Read an E-Book Week 3-9 March 2013

I recently learnt that this week is “Read an E-Book Week”. Forgive me for being a few days behind the times (it started on Sunday!), I’ve had a busy couple of days editing some new short stories, and had an amazing afternoon’s writing – just under 3000 words in about 2 hours. I’m really excited about this story, but I need to put it aside for a while before I go back to polish it, I think I read it 3 times over once it was done, tweaking it here and there, but to see the mistakes properly it needs a good few days distance.

But I digress.

So – Read an E-book Week… do you own an e-reader? Do you read e-books? Personally I’m still not 100% convinced on the e-book front. They have batteries that run out, they can stop working for no apparent reason (speaking from anecdotal evidence), and if you drop them in the bath they’re completely buggered – whereas a book can still be saved with a little tlc and a heater. (Now I know there are ways to protect your e-reader if you want to read in the bath, like putting the  e-reader in a ziploc bag, so perhaps the latter is more an excuse, but still, you get my point!)

I know there are some good points, and my favourite would have to be the sheer number of books that will fit on one handheld device –  to have access to so many books at the push of a button would just be incredible, but for me, that one positive does not outweigh the negatives.

So what got me reading e-books (yes, despite my previous ranting, I do read e-books), well it was the stories. There are some great stories out there, that are only available in e-book form. You want some examples? Here’s three:

(And now let me shamelessly plug my writing buddies!)

LaVerne Clark is a New Zealand author who has two romance novella’s available only in e-book form: Affinity, and The Guardian of the Jewel. They are available from LaVerne’s author page, at The Wild Rose Press.

Kelly Matsuura is an Australian living in Japan, who has published her own e-book “Stirring Winds”, an anthology of Asian Literature on the theme of significant life moments, and contains one of my favourite stories of lost love – The Smell of Peaches. Stirring Winds is available at Amazon and Smashwords.

So if you’ve been hesitant to try out this new (or not so new for some) e-book thing, this is the week to give it ago – you don’t need a device, you can read them on your computer, or on your smart-phone (I have a kindle app on my android). Try out an e-book and support some great emerging authors. And if you’re a little short on cash, there are plenty of free e-books out there too.

And if you are already a fan of the e-book – what’s your favourite?

Feel like your story isn’t ready?

So, I’ve finished a story. It’s been edited several times over, and is as good as I can get it, for this moment at least.  Sometimes I know a story is good when I send it out, most times I don’t – most times I feel embarrassed that I am sending out such drivel!! Sometimes those stories that I know are good, are accepted, sometimes they aren’t. Sometimes the stories that I feel are drivel are rejected but sometimes, much to my shock, sometimes they’re actually accepted, given honorary mentions in competitions even.

I just finished reading Orson Scott Wells “How to write Science Fiction and Fantasy”. He has some very interesting points, but the thing that struck me the most – (probably because it reminded me in some way of Nick Hornby’s comments – that as writers our job is to write, and not judge our writing) – was Orson’s chapter entitled “The Life and Business of Writing”.

His advice, on stories that may or may not be ready for publication goes something like this:

“When your story is finished, let it go do it’s work. Don’t wait for it to gather dust on your shelf. Sure, if you let it sit there for a year and pull it down and look at it again, you’ll find all kinds of dumb mistakes that you’d never make today because you’re so much better now. But then, if you had sent it out and it had been purchased by a magazine, it would be appearing in print right now, and while you would still find those flaws in it, at least you would have been paid for it and your story would be in print and – here’s the good part – your readers will like the story just fine the way it is.”

He goes on to say that he is NOT advocating that writers should send out second-rate work,

“But a year from now you should be writing the story that you care about and believe about at that time, not reworking this year’s story…”

“Because the more you fiddle with your story, rewriting this paragraph or that one, the more likely you are to make it worse. There are things you instinctively do when the story is in it’s first rush out of your head that are truer and better than anything you’ll come up with as you second-guess, revise, intellectualize.”

 

So there you go! If you have a story, sitting there, waiting to be sent out in the world – Be Brave! Send it off – you might be surprised! And if you’ve already been brave – feel free to share your story with the rest of us – were you successful when you thought you wouldn’t be, or vice versa?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nanowrimo 2012

Ah Nano! I love it! This is my fifth year of taking part in NaNoWriMo, and I am pleased to say I have been successful each time, some more than others.

This year, I was excited to be writing a sequel for a novel I wrote during Camp Nano in June. To my memory, Red Sky flowed from my fingers onto the page with ease. And I guess it must have been fairly easy, for I finished it in 19 days. Dark Sea, however, was like pulling teeth. Or rather – as I explained to my partner the other day – it was like there was a blockage in the pipe. The inspiration was there, I mostly knew where I was going, but it just took so darn long to get anywhere! I’d sit for hours, and end up with a meagre 500 words, and then all of a sudden, bam! The blockage was gone and the words poured out, and I had an extra 1500 in 45 mins. But the next day, the pipe was blocked again, and I had to go through the painstaking effort of unblocking it before the words would flow again.

Looking back, now I’ve finished the first draft, I’m feeling pretty good about the story as a whole, though there were moments when I thought what I was writing was utter tripe! Mind you, I haven’t been back to reread it yet, that won’t happen for a month or two… probably January… so I have no doubt that there are moments of utter tripe, but I’m hoping that mixed in all the mess there are gems as well, just waiting to be polished.

And now I’ve used every cliche in the book, perhaps I should go do something a little more constructive with my day. 🙂

 

 

 

Nanwrimo and the Young Writer’s Program, Day 2

The first 53 words

Here is my son’s writing from yesterday – and I don’t know if you can see it, but at the bottom is reads: “hallo Nanowrimo, I love doing this!” How cute!!! 😀

Now, I doubt very much I’ll get in to report on our progress every day, but while I’m able I thought I’d keep you all updated on how my son and I are going.

Today was a slow day for me. I got my word count: 1799 words to be exact, but the writing is still feeling sluggish. DS (Dear Son, for those unsure of what I mean), didn’t want to bother at all – until I reminded him of the awesome t-shirt he’ll be getting at the end, and offered him chocolate as incentive. More specifically, I said that whoever got to their word goal first, would get a row of chocolate. (I should note, that I never bribe my kids with chocolate, so that was a big thing). He won, easily, of course, having only 50 words in comparison to my 1667 word goal. *sigh* next time I will make the challenge harder.

Once he got into it, he wrote his words really quickly, his main character killing of the dragon in record time, and then going home to eat tea and go to bed. I then made hin write another sentence, getting his word count for the day up to 60 words, with a total wordcount of 113. Doing well so far…

My biggest problem I think is that I am still editing as I go – damn inner editor – be gone!! DS got quite worried about proper spelling, stopped now and again to ask me how to spell something. I had the discussion with him about how November is a time for writing, not worrying about spelling and grammar (he may only be 6, but he’s almost better at it than I am lol), and that December is the time to fix all that stuff up.

How’s your writing going?  If you are participating in Nanowrimo – are you reaching your goals?

Don’t forget, I have four copies of The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton to give away this month, all you have to do to get your name in the draw is comment on any post! :D (For more info check out this post)