Just a quick update, while I wait…

It’s been almost four weeks since I finished my novel and sent it to my beta readers. I’ve had one come back, and one giving intriguing updates. As hard as it is, I haven’t looked at those first comments, and I haven’t opened the ms at all in that time. I’m quite proud of myself for giving it so much space… and a little terrified at what I might find when I look at it again.

In the meantime, #1 son did this…

dig

… and, to be honest, I found it a bit of a struggle on the day. But I’m over it now, and looking forward to watching the next stage of his life unfold.

I planned to write some brand new short stories this summer, but in fact I refreshed a couple and sent them off to competitions, and I have another couple to work through to do the same with. Every time I tried to write something new, nothing happened – my pen froze above the page and refused to make contact.

On Saturday morning, however, very early and after my second mug of tea, I managed to write a new character. I have no idea where the story is going, but I’ve been doing some pretty interesting research into premonitions and Count St Germain, neither of which may go anywhere, but it’s been really interesting and a little chilling.

I haven’t managed as much cake or chocolate as I planned, but there’s still a few more weeks of August left!

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#JaneAusten200

Today is the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death – a writer who found so much more fame, and critical acclaim, after she died than during her lifetime. I wonder what it would be like to pop back and see how your legacy is holding up…

I love Jane Austen because she wrote my favourite book, Pride and Prejudice.

I stumbled across P&P when I was sixteen, in that long tedious summer between taking my GCSEs and starting my A-Levels. I was bored of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, which was being shown every day, and channel-hopping (which didn’t take long, back then, with four channels!) In fact, because there were only four channels, I ended up watching the 1940 Greer Garson/Laurence Olivier version…

P&P 1940

Just look at that dress!

I didn’t see it from the start, but recall being aghast at the ending – where Lady Catherine de Bourgh and Lizzie argue.

In this version, Lady Catherine is arguing because she wants to make sure that Lizzie is a strong enough character for her nephew – she gives her blessing!

Argh! No. Even at sixteen, and with no prior knowledge of Jane Austen at all, I knew this was a little absurd, and went in search of the book. All, of course, was forgiven in the original’s hands, and my love of P&P was cemented.

I love the comedy, the relationship between the Bennett parents, the etiquette. I am enveloped each time I read it, snuggling into it like a favourite jumper in the winter. Whenever I’m ill – the lying down unable to move kind of illness – I’ll put on the 1995 BBC version, and drool over Colin Firth, and giggle heartily at Benjamin Whitrow’s portrayal of Mr Bennett (“No lace, Mrs Bennett, I beg you; no lace.”)

Apart from Jane Austen, I am not much of a romance novel reader. But I think Austen offers so much more – I enjoy the immersion in social history, the tedium of daily life, of chores, of endless needlework.

I tend not to read historical novels because I’m never sure which parts are true and which are fictional. It confuses me. But novels written in the period offer me a sense of reality. Austen wrote about the people she knew, keeping them within the bubble of their own lives – the only nod to the fact Britain was at war with France is the presence of the militia, which brings Wickham and his sub-plot into the mix.

But I like that. This novel is about real women, trying to find their way in a world where marriage and children was really their own option for a successful life. They would not have sat around discussing war – that would have been for the men to do – but they would have been interested in their neighbours’ lives.

Yes, I made asked Hubby to recreate Lizzie and Darcy’s walk to the carriage – with strategic photography to make sure the bin wasn’t in view!

Do you have a favourite Jane Austen novel?

 

Finished!

I’ve done it! I’ve finished my final draft, and sent off copies to some awesome beta readers!

Ahem, it can be a roller coaster of emotion…

This final draft came in at 47,500 words, and took 38 days. In total, this whole novel has taken 6 months and 1 day to get to this stage – the quickest I have ever written a complete novel (and yes, I’m officially stating that 47.5k is novel length… if you want to disagree, make sure you have tissues!)

I shall now be:

  • Eating chocolate
  • Actually dusting stuff before I vacuum
  • Reading
  • Eating cake
  • Walking
  • Enjoying time with my kids… or at least watching them leave the house with a cheery ‘See ya’
  • Sitting in beer gardens while ‘socialising’ the dog
  • Hopefully writing some short stories and submitting them to competitions and journals.

Do you like how the writing stuff comes last? It’s actually my main plan – I’ve already got my new notebook ready – but I can write while eating chocolate, drinking cider and people-watching in coffee shops!

What are you up to over the summer? 

Oh look, July’s happening!

I always know when I’m neglecting blogging, because my email notifications cease, and my inbox is really quiet! In fact, I’ve been working so hard that the onset of July almost passed me by.

But it’s all been for a good reason – my WIP is flying. Now, whether it’s a good flight or not, I’ll have to wait and see.

In my last blog about my attempt to write this novel in a year, I mentioned that due going back and editing the first part, my deadline would have to be extended – I made it 4th August… but I’m going to completely smash that!

halfway to goal

The flat parts of the graph were where I was editing the print-out, and the big boost straight after was were I made all the changes on the computer. There’s a method here… honest 🙂

I’ve made some huge changes with chapter layout too – merging some, separating some, going back and re-merging others. It’s a complete mess, although I think I’ve got a handle on it now.

I thought I’d be adding a new character, but in fact he only turned up for a brief conversation. I think I solved the other issue of my MC being too scared too quickly. I’ve noticed I’m overusing the words ‘now’ and ‘of course’. In fact on one page, I used ‘now’ in every single paragraph – d’oh!


In other news, tickets for a signing I’m attending in Bristol in January 2018 are on sale now! If you’re in the Bristol/willing to travel to Bristol area, check out this Facebook page for more info.

The gym where I work, and train, is being refurbished which has caused me great excitement – in fact, some people would say (have said…) an obsessive level, but I don’t care. I’ve already designed my new programme to make the most of the new kit.

I found these – cappuccino milk chocolate digestive thins – scrumptious and yummy, and further confirmation that I love all things coffee-flavoured except coffee!

dav

 

What are your recent snack discoveries?

Because the song told me so!

There I was, working through my book, re-typing and re-drafting… and then three things happened:

  1. It got hot… so hot… my head doesn’t like making sentences when it’s hot. (It’s actually lovely, if all I had to do was sit in my garden with a book and a glass of wine – as I did yesterday – but today I have work and writing and stuff…)
  2. I realised, although I’d merged chapters and scenes to improve the pacing, I still hit the same point where the prose just works and the story flows and everything is great. The first 80 pages are not like that.
  3. However, just after I realised this, I watched The Lost Boys and listened to the theme song, Cry Little Sister, and instantly knew what needed to change – although, oddly, the song and the story have nothing in common!

I have two major things to change:

  1. At the moment, my MC is scared of the Big Threat straight away, I need to make her intrigued at the start, to draw her in and increase the curiosity of the reader
  2. To add a new character. This may or may not pan out, but I think I need someone to act as a sounding board for the issues the MC is facing.

So I now have half a book printed out to revise, and the other half still waiting to be typed up… and I’m not sure which is more important. All I do know, is that I’m not going to hit my 4th July deadline.

How are the temperatures in your neck of the woods?

#MilesofSmiles bloghop

unnamedIt’s blog hop time…

When I started blogging, forever ago, blog hops were common, a great way to meet new bloggers, and a lot of fun. In light of recent attacks in London and Manchester, Kyra Lennon and Clare Dugmore are hosting this blog hop to share things that make us smile.

 

These are the things that make me smile:

  1. Taking Artoo on my favourite dog-walking route, and watching him skip through tall grass… Yep, literally skip!
  2. Watching my 16 year old cat act like a kitten when he chases a used loo roll around the bathroom
  3. A perfect cup of tea
  4. The new Wonder Woman film. I’ve been waiting my entire life for this film. I loved her when I was four, and I came out of the showing (both times) feeling like a little kid!
  5. Those small things my kids do that makes me think I did a pretty good job with them

 

Click here for the list of other participants!


 

Don’t forget you can get your Kindle copy of You. I. Us. for just 0.99 until Thursday!

Buy it here

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I finished the Red Edits! Phew!

Red edits

Actually, I finished last weekend, just before I went to London for a few days.

I had a list of specific things that needed to be done:

  1. A new prologue – this was the last thing to be completed, just today in fact, due to some inspiration while I was walking to work and hastily scribbled down between clients.
  2. A new epilogue – ish. It’s a page long at the moment, a first draft really, but adds some optimism to the story… I hope!
  3. Making the first eleven chapters more compelling – in the first draft my MC, Jo, has won a prestigious art award and a solo exhibition is part of the prize. This made for a lot of unnecessary explanation and boring conversations. In the red edits, she’s now just hosting her first exhibition, which makes it a lot cleaner. This meant, however, I had to search for all mentions of the award and delete it. I also squished a couple of repetitive scenes into one.
  4. Re-writing the last chapter so it mirrored part of the prologue – yes. And I think it works well.
  5. A whole new chapter just to break up two rather heavy conversations – just notes, really, at the moment. I’m hoping for inspiration soon!

As I said at the start, I went to London. As we walked down Oxford Street and turned towards Hyde Park, I realised I was taking the same route as Jo does in one of the chapters, and that I’d got a couple of fundamental things wrong (it had been a long time since I was there previously). One major thing was that in Hyde Park, she feels cut off from the rest of the city.

Peter in Hyde Park

As you can see from the photo, there are buildings – lots of them – in full view. As we walked further, I kept my eyes on the skyline and there were very few places where I couldn’t see any buildings. I changed the incorrect passages, so I won’t look silly when Londoners read my book.

So, now I’ve started on the Final Draft. This is where my method deviates from other writers. I have opened a new document and I shall be typing up the book from scratch. I find this gives me a better sense of the flow and the changes I still need to make, than by reading alone. I’m also able to add more words, this way – I’m hoping for 5000 extra, a target of 47k in total (but more would be nice!) in 30 days.

Have you ever spotted silly errors in books you’ve read, or written?

Do writers sometimes get your hometown wrong?