Monday 31 October 2011

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween, All Hallows Eve, Samhain, Martinmas, and if you’re a witch then Happy New Year!

Thursday 27 October 2011

Diamond Principle

Last night I had feedback on my Through Mortal Eyes manuscript , from Jo Wyton (Notes from the Slushpile) and Nicki Thornton (Mostly Books), who are both members of SCBWI Oxford and Abingdon Writers.  These lovely ladies read my complete manuscript, wading through the spelling and grammatical errors in the 86000 word document.
So yesterday was d-day - when they made the expedition to my house and gave me their feedback. I was so nervous that I busied myself all day with cleaning, and ironing (these I usually avoid at all costs). Fortunately my worrying was unfounded as their critiques were both constructive and positive, so much so that feeling inspired and reinvigorated, I started re-working on the manuscript as soon as they left at 10pm (albeit with wine in hand!)
Apart from all of the positive feedback, which I’m now working into my next draft of TME, the evening also gave me a new way of approaching writing. This approach I’m affectionately naming the ‘Diamond Principle’. 
The Diamond Principle is simple. It’s just like Prince Albert and the Koh-i-Noor , the biggest known diamond in the world in the Victorian age. In the pursuit of perfection, Albert had the diamond cut down from 186 1/16 carats (37.21 g) to 105.602 carats (21.61 g).
So the diamond principle is, this

Of course, Albert didn’t undertake this endeavour blindly, he consulted advise from many experts and the cutting was done by expert mineralogist James Tennant . Like Albert, the ‘Diamond Principle’ of writing would advise you to take advise from editors, and critique groups (like SCBWI), and keep cutting the word count, and polishing the manuscript until it as perfect and as shinny as the Koh-i-Noor.
So, today I’ve continued re-writing, but not before I spent time searching for and printing out a picture of the The Koh-i-Noor to stick on my notice board to remind me to keep cutting and polishing TME until it is as perfect and shiny as possible! 

Sunday 23 October 2011

Thesaurus What?

Thesaurus What?
Imagine me, aged 9; scruffy, argumentative and troublesome. Here is a quick recount of my first ever encounter with a thesaurus…
“Have you ever heard of a thesaurus!” said my, ‘know it all’, classmate.
 “Is that a carnivore or a herbivore?”  I retorted, trying to out manoeuvre her with my intellectual prowess.
Cue the ridicule.
Oh yes, that backfired, and so when I got home I asked my mother, and I was presented with a thesaurus, which (like a dictionary) I couldn’t use, as I couldn’t spell the words to look them up. But now that I’m an adult, and a writer, I use the beloved thesaurus every day and it’s part of my staple survival kit.
Much pain was caused by this little incident, but when my daughter (aged seven) asked me what a thesaurus was yesterday, I had to stop myself from saying, ‘don’t you know , it’s a dinosaur...”

Thursday 20 October 2011

Beginning Something New…

Beginning Something New…
So this week I’ve started writing something new.
One boy’s quest to find his father takes him the mysterious abandoned planet that is home to the Bone Factory and a convict so dangerous, that he’s been marooned on the furthermost reach of the galaxy.
So, I’ve been doing the exciting bits of writing; thinking about the story and the characters, and plotting the narrative.  I now have a general shape and arc for the narrative and the characters are slowly starting to form in my head. I love this part of the process as it is licence to day dream.
Now also comes another part that I love; research, so it’s off to the library I go to feed my brain…

Monday 17 October 2011

Great Day, Undiscovered Voices

Today is a great day!
I’m really excited as I’ve made the long list with, ‘Through Mortal Eyes’, as part of the SCBWI British Isles Undiscovered Voices 2012’ competition.
Yesterday – undiscovered
Today – nearly discovered
Tomorrow – who knows? But very, very excited!
Anyway, check out the link…
Undiscovered Voices

Congratulations to all the other writers and illustrators who have been longlisted and especially to my writing buddy Jo Wyton!

Saturday 15 October 2011

The Slushpile

I’m on the slushpile….
…and it feels great!
No, I don’t mean the slushpile at the foot of an agent’s desk, that’s turning into a landslide threatening to engulf any unsuspecting assistant who doesn’t watch their step. I mean the fantastic blog ‘Notes from the Slushpile.’
Notes from the Slushpile is a blog that every aspiring writer should follow. It’s run by an enthusiastic team of authors, published and unpublished, who share their own experiences and tips, plus other interesting information about the industry.
The team at the slushpile have most kindly let me do a guest blog about the trials of being a dyslexic writer. So please check it out... Notes from the Slushpile

Tuesday 11 October 2011

Letting your Manuscript leave the nest, and what happens then…

This is where I find myself with, 'Through Mortal Eyes' my YA fantasy novel. It's my first novel, and it's taken me three years. Ten months of which was spent researching and plotting, then another year doing the initial write, and then all the rest re-writing and polishing. Along the way my relationship with TME (my pet name for Through Mortal Eyes) has grown. I've nurtured her, seen her grow from an initial concept to a whole book, and then watched her mature with each re-write. And like any good parent, I've defended her in the face of those who question her, plus talked, and talked some more, about her to uninterested people who are too polite to stop me.
My manuscript is my baby, and I'm having a hard time letting her go. After all, there is still so much we could do together, surely another re-write wouldn't hurt. But no, this is just procrastination, because I don't want to ever let her go. And, after much deliberation, I eventually managed to press 'SEND'.

So now my baby's all grown up back packing across the world, well, to an editor anyway. I'm alone, abandoned in an empty house, with no manuscript to keep me company.

What do you do, when your manuscript has flown the nest?
Go for coffee?
Clean the house?
Take up yoga?
Start baking? (better not – I've already set fire to one kitchen!)
Start writing something new?
Work on my enquiry letter and synopsis ready to send out to agents?

Well this is tricky; I've spent so much time always with something to do on the manuscript that I'm lost. I've spent the last week pinning – sad I know, but if this is foreshadowing of my children going off to university well then I know I'm going to be awful. My heads been all fluffed up, and I can't seem to concentrate on anything. I need to work on my submission bits, but for now I need a holiday. So this morning I reached for the box.

My box is an old filing box, and in the box I keep my ideas. Whenever I have an idea that I think will be a good basis for a story I note it down, along with plot outlines and characters information, and file it. So I picked out an idea I had a while ago, and started plotting the narrative, and working on character profiles. It has been exhilarating; I had forgotten just how exciting the initial stages of writing can be. When you're still discovering the story and getting to know the characters, when there are as many surprises for you, the author, as there are for the protagonists in the story. So I've managed for the first time, since e-mailing TME to my editor, to forget her and get on with something. I suspect that that something is probably my next co-dependant relationship with a manuscript, but never mind!

Oh yes, finally, she's due back in 5 weeks – can't wait!

Wednesday 5 October 2011

Writers Survival Kit

What in My Writers Survival Kit?
·    Thick Skin
·    Stubbornness
·    Copious amounts of caffeine, Coffee, Tea, Coke, intravenous drip anyone?
·    A large stash of unhealthy snacks, chocolate, cake, crisps.
·    Note Pad, to accompany you everywhere, in case you have an idea, or hear something that can be useful.
·    Pen – get one you really like, sound odd, but if you like it it’ll be kind to you.
·    Online Dictionary, Thesaurus and Google – all for spelling. Google search bar being the best dictionary in the world!
Click to enlarge
·    Microsoft Excel –a great tool for plotting, character profiling, and loads of other technical writing bits.
·    Friends, not you usual ones, they’ll get board of your constant writing and book talk. You need to get friends that share your interest – join a critique group.  My friends are great. Hello friends form Abingdon Writers and SCBWI (you know who you are!)

Writing philosophy
That writing is a calling, a vocation, it must be a passion. Especially if your dyslexic!

Writing Truths

Me – Author it’s my baby!
It takes more than one person to write a book. So far TME has taken…
My Family – bless their patience

My Friends – Especially Louise, for a well-timed grammar lesson
My Editor – Who currently working to make sure my manuscript is in a standard form of English, instead of my own version
My Critique Group – Bless everyone, for their comments advice and honesty.
Storytellers – My book is fairytale based, which would not be possible without the thousands of storytellers who passed these stories down the generations and centuries.
Collectors – All the dedicated 19th century folk, who travelled the world collecting, and writing down fairytales, preserving them for all generations to come.
And I‘ve not even navigated my way through the slushpile or been published yet, so that should add a few more people. So all in all I’d say that it defiantly takes more than one person to write a book.