The long road to publication

I know, I know. It’s been ages since my last post. But that’s only because I’ve been working so hard on my book. I keep thinking, just another couple of weeks and I’ll be done! – but then another few days go by and I realise I’ve still got a long way to go.

Right now I am re-writing the final chapter, which means I also have to re-write the epilogue too. It’s interesting how much my way of thinking has changed since I finished the first draft of this story a couple of years ago. I no longer want everything to be tied up so neatly at the end, and I also want to leave something for the sequel if I decide to write one (which I think I will at this stage).

Over December and early January I posted a few weeks of my writing schedule, just to share how I worked as a stay-at-home mum with the occasional paid web design project. Since then, I have settled into a fairly consistent routine. Each week, I have most of Tuesday, part of Wednesday and part of Thursday to write. I also usually end up with a few hours free on one of the weekend days too. Each session consists of revising about 20 – 50 pages, but there is a lot of overlap, so I’m often going back and revising parts that I revised the day before.

Right now, the book is almost 95,000 words, and that’s after cutting 8000 words from the second half of the story (these were either unnecessary scenes or bits that needed to be re-written).

Once this round of writing is done, I will probably go back and do one or two more read-throughs before handing it over to my two critique partners for feedback. I’m getting so impatient with this process, but I know I want to do it properly, and these things take time when you only have around twelve hours per week to work (and you can’t always dedicate all of them to writing).

I may go back to doing up some weekly recap posts soon, but I just want to finish this damn story! I honestly don’t know how some people write ten books a year. Or even more than two. The initial writing process doesn’t take very long, but the editing is the thing that kills me. I suppose I will refine the process over time, and hopefully learn better ways of planning out my stories, but for now it’s a very long and drawn-out process.

If anyone has any tips, please send them through. I would love to hear how you manage your writing schedule.

New Year and Resolutions

I’m not sure many people (apart from Stephen King) actually do much writing over the holiday period. Actually, I have no idea if that’s true, but I’m betting people who have kids on school holidays and extended families who live nearby probably don’t.

My husband and I try to take our boys away for a few days between Christmas and New Year to spend a bit of time on our own, and also because Brisbane usually has some great deals during this time because no one is there for business and the hotels want to attract as many people as they can.

So! My writing schedule was a bit erratic this week:

Monday

Nothing – we were in Brisbane and I deliberately didn’t take my laptop.

Tuesday

Same as above

Wednesday

Wrote 1500 new words for a scene in the second half of my book.

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Christmas Week!

Things are getting busy! This week we were looking after an extra two children leading up to Christmas Day, but I still managed to squeeze in some writing stuff. Schedule was as follows:

Sunday (seeing as I didn’t cover that in my last post)

200+ pages of a new proof / edit. I had almost the entire day free before the kids arrived, so I started right from the beginning and got through a good chunk of the story. I was pleased to find that the second half flows seamlessly on from the first (at least to me!).

Monday

Did around 30 pages of proofing by lunchtime, plus a few more in the evening.

Tuesday

Only 10 pages of proofing in the evening.

Wednesday

24 pages of proofing – but avoided the tricky bits because my brain was overloaded from having a house full of people.

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Two weeks before Christmas

These past few days have been interesting. It was the first week of the school holidays, so I’ve had to adapt to the change in schedule. Fortunately, I still had some time to myself when my boys were at vacation care and kindy, or visiting their grandmother. My writing schedule for this week was as follows:

Monday

13 pages of editing / proofreading my third novel at around 8pm. Was very tired, but powered on anyway.

Tuesday

16 pages of editing / proofreading by 10am. Researched feminism afterwards. Decided I need to be mindful of creating strong female characters in my books.

Wednesday

Nothing – but I did spend a bit of time chatting with my critique partners about social media as part of our writing. We also discussed how a lot of 80s kids movies are kind of freaky (but I still think Labyrinth is one of the coolest films of all time!).

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The joy of blogging

I went to a writing workshop a couple of weeks ago that talked about what to do once you finished writing your book if you wanted to get traditionally published in Australia. I’d kind of already decided to self-publish my next book, so I only went along because one of my critique partners was disappointed she couldn’t make it.

Anyway, it wasn’t quite what I expected, but only because I think it was targeting people who had little to no experience with the publishing industry – as in they had never written a query or researched agents or publishers online.

But one piece of advice that the speaker emphasised was the importance of maintaining your author ‘platform’ via a blog and social media. I already knew this, but I am not good at doing it. I deleted my author Facebook page a few months ago because I never posted anything on it, and I couldn’t think of anything that I felt other people would be interested in reading (I know, that sounds weird coming from a writer). I actually don’t really post on my personal Facebook page either, unless you count the odd photo of my kids or a link to my latest Bachelor blog.

I do have a Twitter account, but it is linked to my Bachelor alter-ego, and I really only post on that if I’m live tweeting during a show – which I can obviously only do during the Aussie seasons when it’s not daylight savings.

But! If you’re reading this, you are obviously aware that I have this author blog too, which I sort of post to every now and again. You will also see that I mostly just write book reviews, so I’ve decided I need to post other stuff too.

Apparently people like reading about other writers’ journeys and their triumphs / struggles. Whether they’re still interested in writers who aren’t mega-famous is something I’m yet to be convinced of, but I’m willing to give it a shot. So! Now that I’m writing almost full-time, I’m going to attempt to share the craziness that is my day-to-day life, and how I fit writing in around looking after two boys and the occasional web design job.

Stay tuned! And feel free to contact me if you want to share your own thoughts on anything writing related!

Nanowrimo 2015 Outcome

So! It’s the first of December and Nanowrimo finished yesterday.

Did I reach 50,000 words? No. I did not.

But…

I did finish writing my novel AND I started a sequel, so overall I feel that the whole venture was a roaring success.

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How I’m Surviving Nanowrimo

I’m just over half-way through Nanowrimo, and so far I am loving it! I’ve managed to write almost every day, or have done more on either side of missed days to keep to my target.

This year has felt easier than last year (which I finished but with a slightly stressful last few days), and infinitely easier than the years before that (which I didn’t finish at all). My story has expanded so much that I might not even need to start a new story at the end to make up the required 50,000 words. My original goal was 84,000 (to match my previous first draft) but I’m already up to 88,000 and I still have a few chapters left to write.

Recently, I have discovered a few helpful ideas and tools that I will now share with you on the off chance that they might also be helpful to you.

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Nanowrimo 2015

It’s November, which means it’s National Novel Writing Month! I have decided to use the time this year to finish my third novel. Last year was my first ever successful completion of the event, and it turned into Dismissed. I have high hopes for this year.

The book I’m currently writing started off with the working title Perfume Therapy, but then as one of my critique partners pointed out after reaching the halfway point, ‘I’m still wondering why it’s called Perfume Therapy’. Obviously I had big plans for the second half to justify the title, and I had even already written it and proofed it. At one point, in my head, the book was ready for publication.

But after writing Dismissed and then coming back to do a final read-through of Perfume Therapy, I just felt that it wasn’t working in its current form. I loved the first half, and I loved the theme of perfume in the second half, but I did not love the plot in the second half. It almost felt like they were two completely different stories.

So! I split them up. I created an alternative second half for the first part, and I plan on using many elements of the original second half in my next book.

It has been going surprisingly well. This new second half is flowing much better than I expected. I am slightly ahead with my word count for Nanowrimo, and excited to see the rest of the story unfold.

It turns out that this year, you’re not even a Nano rebel if you’re continuing work on an existing story. Obviously you just count the words you write between November 1 and 30, but you’re not going to be declared an outcast!

Now my only problem is what to do once I finish this story if I come in under 50,000 words. Do I start another one immediately? Or declare a sort of victory and call it quits? I guess we’ll have to wait and see how inspired I am at the time.

Good luck to everyone else out there also participating. I promise it gets easier every year!

On Writing

I’m not sure what I could say about this book that probably hasn’t already been said a million times. This is my all-time favourite book on writing. If I had to pick only one book about writing to recommend to people, this would be it.

I have to admit, I haven’t read a lot of Stephen King’s books, but I enjoyed the ones I did. It’s just that I’m not much of a horror fan. I can appreciate good writing though, and I am very grateful that Stephen chose to write this book to give us an insight into how his career progressed from teenage amateur to the superstar he is today.

From this book I discovered that even famous writers have the same worries as the rest of us. Stephen’s advice for avoiding self-doubt is to out-write it. So essentially, figure out your story’s main goal or question and then start writing, and keep writing until you’re done. Don’t take days off unless you absolutely have to, and trust that it’s all going to work out in the end.

There are so many awesome anecdotes and pieces of advice in this book, that I can’t cover them all. But one thing that I never realised (maybe because I’ve never done a proper writing course) is that you should avoid using adverbs in dialogue attribution. This has been a game-changer for me, as I tend to be a bit light on the ground with descriptions in my writing, and leaving out the adverbs forces you to think of more.

I also like the idea of having a single person that you write your books for. Even if they’re imaginary, it can help you to focus your attention, and you can ask yourself if that person would respond favourably to what you have just written.

If you are an aspiring writer, I think you should buy this book. You will realise that even Stephen King got a lot of rejections and lived on very little money for a long time before he became famous.

So hopefully there’s still hope for the rest of us!

Imperfect Chemistry

This was exactly what I was in the mood for when I discovered it – a cute romantic comedy featuring likeable characters and an easy-to-follow plot.

Lucy, the main character, is basically a female version of Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory, except I pictured her to look and sound like Amy Farrah Fowler.

Lucy has never been in love and wants to study emotions as a pathogen. Enter her good looking, newly heartbroken neighbour and watch the hilarity unfold.

There wasn’t anything ground-breaking in this story. Everything happened exactly as I expected, complete with zany sidekick friends and overbearing parents. But it was written well and I could easily pretend I was watching a movie.

My only qualms were the repetition of the phrase he scrubbed his hand through his hair and the word coursed (as in through someone’s veins). I also felt the ‘betrayal’ at the three-quarter mark was a bit weak.

It’s actually a great piece to analyse if you’re trying to figure out how write your own romantic comedy because the turning points were so obvious (and I mean that in the best possible way).

Overall, it was a fun, quick read and I’m thinking I will look up the next two books in the series.

Recommended for romantic comedy fans.

3.75 / 5 stars