Novel in a Year, plus another year

With the chill autumnal air approaching, and the kids back to school and – sigh – university, it’s time to get back to my novel.

Over the summer, three wonderful beta readers (Nick, Liz and Ruth) read my draft and gave some awesome feedback. There’s a lot to do. I realised, while scanning through their comments, that I need to go deeper into my main character, and that some of the less engaging parts of her are actually based on me (lol, I think). That said, I should be able to explain those parts much more clearly, and hopefully sympathetically.

Since I received their critiques, I’ve had a lot of extra shifts at work; I was away last weekend and also this coming one; and then another heap of extra shifts after that. It might be October until I get into them properly.

Moments beta comments

These are the merged comments, with all their agreements and conflicts. Doesn’t it look awful? You send off something you think is perfect, and get this back. Then you read them, and find yourself nodding and sighing and wondering how the heck you thought you were ready to send it in the first place.

I’d hoped to have this book ready to query in November, a year after writing the original idea during NaNoWriMo last year, but – as the title of this post suggests  – that probably won’t happen.

But that’s okay. Two years is still far shorter than my previous attempts at a novel 🙂

So, how are you?

Advertisements

The nature of short stories

Some bloggers excel at sharing with guests who bring their extensive knowledge with them, while others dive into the deep and meaningful, with carefully researched quotes to back up their argument. When I decided to start a blog, I had no contacts, no author friends at all – I was a complete writing loner – so I didn’t anticipate anyone reading it at all. I basically use my blog as a diary.

21032530_1854405324574847_8658310238127999203_n
My new book stand!

So, when I have a deep and meaningful thought, and decide to write a blog post about it, I fall short – my entire deep and meaningful thought took a single sentence… which is not a blog post, it’s a tweet!

Hence, I’m writing a long and rambling intro, in the hope that it will distract from the shallowness of my thought.

The nature of short stories (starting here properly)

Short stories written for collections are written in a completely different style to short stories written for competitions.

Recently, I’ve been writing stories to submit to online journals and competitions, while reading a short story collection.

My own work has been geared to jumping off the page, attracting the editor/judge’s attention from the off, and holding it until the very last sentence. And, preferably, having it linger in their mind while they move on to the next submission.

The collection, however, has been more placid, like a warm chocolate brownie rolling around in your mouth, slow and precise and a little bit meandering until it hits the crescendo, the crux.

21151201_1860500257298687_4500366284704478189_nThis might, of course, be completely obvious to you. Probably very obvious to authors who write commissioned pieces – looking at the market before the consider the execution of their story – but I don’t think I’ve ever really considered the difference. When I write a story, the idea comes, then the title, then the first line – usually in that order, and usually pretty quickly. Bam, bam, bam! The story is on the page before I consider what I’m going to do with it.

I intend to use this revelation wisely!

 

What have you discovered about writing, recently?

As a reader, have you considered the differences in the stories you read?

Am I really the last person to have figured this out?


 

You can read my 1st placed story The Fear of Ghosts on the Dark Tales website for another couple of weeks, until next month’s winner is announced. I’d love to know what you think of it, if you haven’t told me already! And if you loved it, you can always tell me again 😉

 

Kyra Lennon’s Reasonable Doubts, without doubt!

Huge congratulations to Kyra Lennon, whose new book, Reasonable Doubts, hits the shelves, Kindles and all other ereaders today! I’m so excited to be taking part in the release blitz – don’t you just love it when you see your blogger friends featured all over your favourite blogs!

Blurb: Darcy Ryan is a woman on a mission. A mission to take down the corrupt cops who ensured her best friend, Matteo Torres, went to jail for a crime he didn’t commit – the murder of his wife, Rebecca.

Darcy is willing to do just about anything to prove his innocence, including getting up close and personal with lead detective, Finn Drake.

She knows she’s playing a dangerous game, but it gets more dangerous than she could have ever imagined when she discovers everything she thought she knew about Rebecca Torres was wrong, and Finn Drake isn’t the man she thought he was either.

Darcy’s life and her best friend’s freedom are on the line. With her entire world turned on its head and time running out, she has to decide. Should she take a chance on Drake and go against her gut instincts, or go it alone and pray she can find the killer before he finds her?

Amazon US // Amazon UK // iBooks UK // iBooks US // Kobo // B and N

Stalker Links…

Website: http://www.kyralennon.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kyralennonwrites/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KLennonWrites

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!

#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?