The art of neutral thinking

Have I ever told you why I became a writer?

Well, obviously there are several reasons, but one of them was because when I was very young I’d have dreams nightmares that felt very real. I’d be coming home from school to find my family missing, or running away in the middle of the night. I’d dream my sister ceased to exist, or that we’d been caught up in a devastating fire.

And I was terrified that my thoughts would make these things actually happen! Aged 4, I didn’t really understand that I didn’t have that kind of power.

I started to write these thoughts down, and gave the characters different names, so that they would suffer and my family would be safe.

Phew!

writers-and-artists.jpgFast forward to this week. I sent off my first batch of queries. And then I started to envisage the outcome.

First, I imagined signing contracts and drinking Champagne in celebration. Everyone was cheering and I was making a speech.

Argh! No! What if that causes the universe to spite me? What if that would just bring many rejections to my inbox?

Next, I pictured the rejections, a long slog through my list of agents, getting to the end.

Argh! What if that makes the rejections happen?

Logically, I know my brain still doesn’t have that kind of power, but what if…? So, now, I’m practising the art of neutral thinking, where I try not to veer too far to the positive or negative. I’m focusing on – if I really must – the agent opening my email, and…

… and nothing. I’m trying to pull myself away, panning the camera back like the closing scene of a movie while inspirational music plays and the screen goes black.

(Well, you did say you wanted to be with me for the querying process, although this might not be quite what you meant 😉 )

 

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The end, the end, the very very end…

My novel is complete. It’s been sent for editing – the lovely Karen Sanders removed a million extraneous commas – and I’ve looked over the notes, and now it’s done. Completely and utterly done!

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PHEW!

Next, I have to decide what I want to do with it. I’d like to submit it, either to an agent or to some small presses – but I’m also aware, from a career point-of-view, that it’s been almost two years since my last book was published. Some of my author friends publish more than one book a year, so I feel like I’m slacking. Although, I know I wouldn’t be able to work quicker – this book, at fifteen months and with the premise in my head for many years before that, is the quickest I’ve ever written!

I realise I’ve been pretty secretive over the whole thing. It’s a superstition thing – if I share too much, it’ll all go very wrong. So, here it is…

SMALL FORGOTTEN MOMENTS

Suffering from amnesia, artist Jo Mckye flees to her childhood home to escape her nightmares. Instead, she’s faced with a tragedy that occurred when she was younger and a stark choice.

 

What do you think?

So, technically, my Novel in a Year adventure has ended. Thank you for sharing it with me. I probably won’t bore you with the endless submission process, but I might mention it occasionally. And you’ll be the first to hear when and where you’ll be able to buy it 🙂

Yes, Yes, Yes!

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I’ve done it! I’ve finished my novel. I started – as you know – in November 2016, and wanted to finish within the year. It’s been one year, two months and sixteen days.

With a caveat… it’s going to go to my editor, the wonderful Karen Sanders, who, I imagine, will pull it apart and come up with loads of suggestions.

But, for now. It’s done, it’s over, and I don’t have to think about it for a couple of weeks.

So, perhaps now is a good time to share some info about it:

  • the original concept was devised when I was about 18. The main character and the premise have remained, but the story and setting have changed greatly
  • my MC suffers from memory loss, which was a huge challenge for me as I love writing flashbacks!
  • it’s called Small Forgotten Moments, at the moment
  • it’s fundamentally a ghost story
  • Seaton, in Cornwall, is my inspiration, though I may have altered a couple of small details about the area
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Yes, this is a beach, I just took a photo of the rocks… which are more pertinent to the story

Merry Christmas!

Every time I write a post for this blog, I realise how long it’s been since the last one. Instead, I’ve been novelling (yes, squiggly little red line, that is a word if I want it to be!)

Progress on the novel is still going well, but the actual details haven’t changed since the last post I wrote about it – although I can’t believe I said that after Chapter 12 everything would tick along smoothly!!

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Our Three Wise Men

So it’s finally Christmas! Yay! It always takes time to get myself excited by Christmas – but once I am, I really am. This year I had some inspired present ideas for my parents, which is mostly never the case, so I’m feeling pretty proud of myself right now.

And, I’m going to give you a kind-of Christmas present too. I’m going to give you the chance to win 2 tickets to the Indie Pop-Up Signing I’m attending in Bristol, UK on 27th January.

You can find out the details on the event’s Facebook page, and on the Eventbrite page too.

The giveaway will be happening via my newsletter, which you can sign up to here.

Sign up before the 29th December to receive the email with the giveaway attached! Even if you can’t get to Bristol/the South West/England in January, why not sign up to the newsletter anyway? One of my New Year’s Resolutions is to giveaway more chocolate 🙂

If you celebrate Christmas, I wish you a very merry one, and Happy New Year to all of you. Thank you for reading my blog this year xx

One last edit… (and #BlackFriday sale)

… is what I said to myself, before I hand it over at the end of January.

Well, actually, my plan was to retype the whole darn novel, and it started pretty well.

If you’re new to this blog, you may not be aware of my rather unique editing style of retyping. I discovered a few years ago that it really helps to smooth out any kinks in the narrative that occurred when I was doing all the other edits. I love seeing the brand new document filling up again, the early word counts where just getting to 5000 was a huge celebration.

This time, I even rewrote the opening line, which is something I never do – that’s usually the fixed point in time I can always rely on. So there I was, typing away, when suddenly one of the scenes felt too soon. So I moved a section from a bit later on into its spot, and continued. But then, something else didn’t make sense, so that moved as well.

Now, I’ve moved almost all of the first eleven chapters around. I’ve never been completely happy with these opening chapters, so I’m really hoping I’ve solved the hiccups. At least I know that from Chapter 12 onwards, everything is in the right place… even if I haven’t used the right words!

Writers: what’s your quirkiest editing method?

Readers: have you ever struggled to get into a book because of the opening chapters, but then loved it? 

 


 

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My lovely publishers, Vine Leaves Press, are having a huge sale on selected titles over this Black Friday weekend. From Friday 24th to Monday 27th November, you’ll be able to pick up some of the best-selling Vine Leaves books for just $0.99AUD (roughly 60 British pennies!)

All you need to do is go to vineleavespress.com, follow the link, and use the coupon code vlpcyber when you get to the checkout.

And yes, You. I. Us. is included in the sale, so if you’ve read it and loved it, please share this info so your friends can read it too 🙂

What could be simpler?

Happy Birthday, Novel-of-Mine

IMG_20171105_205600.jpgThis morning I posted this picture on my Facebook page, and thought it deserved more comment.

You see, after sending my novel to beta readers, receiving their feedback and implementing it, this was supposed to be the final quick read-through to check for snags before sending it off to Karen Sanders for editing in the new year.

And yet… at only 39% of the document, I’ve already got over 200 edits! Wow. That’s a lot.

This book officially sprang into life a year ago, during NaNoWriMo 2016. My plan at the time was to take part in the challenge every year, but now I’m thinking that every two years will probably suit me better. I’ve definitely accelerated my writing process, which was part of the plan – now all I have to do is streamline how many times I actually have to edit the darn thing!

Good luck to everyone who’s taking part in National Novel Writing Month this year – it’s always a blast… a tiring, obsessive, chocolate-bingeing blast 😉

 

Are you taking part in NaNoWriMo this year? How’s it going, so far?

To write a novel, don’t write a short story instead!

 

This month, I have mostly been side-tracked by the Commonwealth Writers Short Story Prize, which is a huge international competition that I’ve entered for the past couple of years.

Normally, I’ve had a story that I can refresh for this, and send off without too much fuss. But this year I had nothing. At the beginning of the month, I decided to write a new story for the 1 November deadline.

I sat with my pen in my hand, and an 82 year old woman who lives in a caravan, and who’s been in my head for a few months (I thought she might be a novel, at first), fought herself onto the page. And then a 16 year old boy walked past her van and they started talking.

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Celebrating the first draft…

I’m now editing. I have little notes, as I always do, littering the page that say More Here, and I’m trying really hard to describe the sound of helicopter rotor blades.

Scarily, it doesn’t have a title, yet. On the whole, the title comes first for me, and the story wraps itself into it. Because my octogenarian came first, the title was overlooked. And now I’m floundering a little. What if it never comes? What if I have to send it off with the title ‘Story’?

Deep breath, eat chocolate… ahh, that’s better.

By November, I’ll be back on my novel, which will at that point be officially not a novel in a year, because it began life during last year’s National Novel Writing Month… Where’s that chocolate?


 

Congratulations to George Saunders who has won this year’s Man Booker Prize, with his first full length novel, Lincoln in the Bardo. See, short story writers are awesome!