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 🙂

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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

Happy New Year

Happy New Year 2018

So, 2018… hello.

From a personal point of view, last year was good, yet I’m struggling to think of anything specific! I’ve just had a look back at last year’s round-up, and it was much more eventful.

I guess some years just slide along easily, moving from day to day, week to week. It doesn’t always have to be amazing, despite what social media makes us think. If you wake up happy and ready for the day ahead, and go to sleep content with what you’ve done, isn’t that enough?

2017 feels like a long year, but  as you get older that’s not necessarily a bad thing – a long time between birthdays, for example, can be a relief 🙂

Personal achievements this year include:

  • completing my novel (well, almost, I’ve got a few more chapters to edit, and they need a lot of attention)
  • seeing some awesome results at the gym
  • not going grey yet (sometimes it’s the little things…)

On reflection, the novel took a lot of time. I wish I could write faster, or at least not need

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The books beside my bed… waiting for me

so many edits and redrafts, but I’ve learned to live with it.

The downside of writing so much is that I can’t read at the same time – I realised a long time ago that I tend to absorb the style of writers I admire. When I’m in the depths of my own book, I can’t suddenly switch to someone else’s voice!

My plans for 2018 are to, once again, figure out a decent book marketing plan, say yes to more opportunities (I delayed on a decision a couple of months ago, and I’ve been kicking myself), and have as much fun as possible!

Happy New Year to you all, let’s have a blast 🙂

 

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?

The green edits are done!

Green edits

I originally allowed myself thirty days for this part of the process, but did it in fifteen! As I got closer to the end, I reduced the date goal, because I like tidy graphs…

Normally when I edit, I meander around – reading, adding notes, watching TV, going back over the same parts again and again to get them perfect… on the first set of edits, I hear you ask? Well, yes, I am was a perfectionist.

But, no more! I’ve finally learnt. I worked steadily through the comments I made, although some of them still exist because I’m not quite sure how to execute them just yet.

There have been a lot of other changes though, a lot of additions (including, finally, a character’s reaction to an event that affected her deeply, but I ignored in my first draft!), and an awful lot of crossing out. However, the opening chapter is still shockingly bad, and the last chapter is dragging – but that’s okay. In fact, they might even still exist when I’m ready to share with my beta readers.

In the past, I have only shared my work when I’ve gone through extensive drafts, and made it as perfect as I can get. If people so much as point out a spelling mistake or punctuation anomaly, I’m devastated. I consider this to be a huge step forward in my writing attitude.

 

Green edit page
These edits have been nicknamed the green edits, because of the green pen. The next edits will be the red edits. And, because I do love a chaotic-looking draft, I’ll be making the changes on this same print-out!

Years ago – stop me if I’ve told you this before – my favourite subject at school was technical drawing (Yes! I’m so old, that was actually a separate and specific subject!) I loved the lines, the angles, the pencil chaos that became clear when my black pen – in two different thicknesses – created the picture. All the pencil marks were essential to get the right lines in the right place, but eventually they were erased and my cube (in my first year) or my detailed house floorplan (in my last year) was revealed.

I approach editing a manuscript in the same way, and it’s so satisfying when I see the final story revealing itself.

Next up: the red edits, trying to get my first and last chapters improved, and possibly extend the length. It may not be a very long novel – some of my recent reads have been under 50,000 – but I’m currently at 39k. That’s a good novella length, but I’m desperate to get a novel under my belt – my long-term goal depends upon it!

How many different colours do you use?

Do you edit by hand, or prefer to do it all on the computer?

Reading my first draft

Since starting this blog, I’ve been unsure of the direction, but as I have decided to attempt to write, and have ready to submit, by the end of the year, I’m going to blog each step of my new-found process, under the Novel in a Year category tag. If you read this post first, it’ll all make more sense! I hope you’ll find it interesting and/or helpful 🙂


And now, for today’s update:

As planned, I read my draft with the eyes of a beta-reader. When I beta for someone, I use the Comments on Word, and I hope I make helpful comments as well as highlight the really good stuff. I know I let a little sarcasm slip in too. I pretended I was reading someone else’s work, and acted accordingly.

Editing pages

It took me six days to complete the read-through, and then act on the easily sorted issues. A lot of my comments simply said delete or unnecessary, which is pretty self-explanatory. Some of them were paragraphs that I could slot into the work at the appropriate point, and some will be longer and harder to solve. There’s a timeline problem relatively early on, a rather large omission of someone’s reaction to a particular event and a whole lot of underwriting practically all the way through.

To be honest, the underwriting is a lifelong problem, so that wasn’t a shock!

Here are a few of the comments I’ve made:

Remember how hard this was to get the right reveal here? Well, it hasn’t worked. Try again

This all needs to be re-written… you know that glazed over look you get when you read something hideously boring… yeah, that

So they’re not going to talk about last night? Jo tried to murder a painting, and he’s okay with that?

Really? We’re smiling at hats, are we? Why not at the coffee, or that mop in the corner?

My next task is to print out the manuscript and mark up where the deeper changes need to be made, where a couple of chapters need to be moved, and to write new sections so that the other changes make sense. I can’t wait to get my fountain pen out and jot notes all over the pages!

Once again, I’ll be using the NaNoWriMo site and giving myself four weeks to complete this part. I might even work out all the stages for the rest of the year, so I’m not doing quite so much guessing about the deadlines I should be imposing.

How nice are you to yourself when you read your own work?

How long does it take you to write a book?

How many drafts do you take? (My personal best is somewhere in the 20s!)

Draft finished, feeling accomplished

At the beginning of the year, I decided I was going to write a novel much quicker than I’d ever written one before – in a year. Completed, beta-read, edited and ready to submit.

My WIPs tend to take several years, malingering through many rewrites without much of a plan, and at the beginning of the year, I decided – finally – that this was stupid.

And, coincidentally, at the same time these decisions were occurring, the NaNoWriMo web site announced that people could create their own goals whenever they wanted. So I set up a goal – to write 40,000 words in 90 days.

Today, I finished – 8 days (and 3,600 words) short of the deadline, but the draft is complete, and I am very happy with it, as it stands!

NaNo page

As you can see, after a good start, I had a bit of a… ahem, break. A couple of short stories took priority, and there were probably a few days of Olympic-style procrastination and hot chocolate drinking with friends. However I think I rallied quite well.

There’s something satisfying in recording my words in this way. I usually use a spreadsheet, but that doesn’t include an end date, it just lets me write and write and write… In fact, it was precisely that deadline which forced me back to the WIP on day 57.

My next step is to do something else I’ve never done before – I’m going to read my draft the way I beta-read other people’s – complete with sarky asides and random comments.

Of course, I’ll be setting a goal for that too – 132 pages, 5 pages an hour (because I’ve never made an hourly goal before, so I’m not sure how long it will take) – 26 hours should do it.

Have you seen this feature on the NaNo site? Would you consider using it?

How do you keep yourself accountable?


To all A-Zers! If you’re in the middle of the challenge, thanks for visiting – I know you’ve got many other places to be. I’ll be reading your posts with interest, but I probably won’t comment very much, because I know how overwhelming this time of the year can be. I thought long and hard about joining in again this year, but my WIP challenge is more compelling. Have fun!