I mentioned in a previous post that I was drawing each day to improve my skills during Lent; we've all 'given up' enough this year. I opt for graphite pencils and sometimes incorporate watercolour for a splash of colour - I've leant by watching numerous talented artists on YouTube. I might give charcoal another try in the coming weeks.
Sketching supports my writing as it offers me down time in a creative yet, constructive manner. Partway through most sketches, I'll need to make notes of a writing idea or details which have sprung to mind. I tend to sketch more whilst planning a novel than writing one but for now, I've drawn every day since Ash Wednesday. There's many more weeks to go until Easter, so who knows what will have developed by then.
Tomorrow is a pinch punch day signalling the beginning of March, so did I manage to finish writing draft one of my secret project as I'd hoped? The short answer is 'no', not quite. I'm approximately 8,000 words off my goal needing a few more days before I can continue the journey and create draft two.
I'm not too disheartened given that I took delivery and completed my proof pages for my May publication. I also took the odd 'day off' which is unusual for me but hey, I deserved them. I also cut ten thousand words when I wrote myself down a rabbit hole - there's my missing words right there!
My writing challenge for March is to complete draft 2 which should amount to 95,000 words. Simple!
My reading for the month also went to adrift. I haven't manage to finish 'The Story of Alice: Lewis Carroll and the Secret History of Wonderland' by Douglas-Fairhurst within the month so will carry it over into March. Though, my selected books are already lined up and waiting: Fathers and Sons by Turgenev and Bill Bryson's 'Notes from a Small Island'.
As always, Kiren and myself drift off in all directions during our chat. If you weren't able to join us, never mind the link is below. Grab yourself a coffee and enjoy!
For link: Press here
From Shetland, With Love - published May 2021
Bella's book mentioned by me was: One Family Christmas - I loved it!
As promised, I took Sunday off and sketched all day. My chosen task during Lent is to sketch every day, in an attempt to improve my skills, in preference to abstaining from a specific trait, habit or food. I might share my current projects later in the month, but not at the moment.
Monday morning rolled round and another week in the life of this author begins. My agent sent a copy of my book cover for the German edition of one of my Christmas books, which will be published later this year. The initial reaction of seeing a new edition of your work is always such a thrill. Thankfully, I love the created image, so I replied giving the 'thumbs up' of a happy author.
Tuesday afternoon delivered three voice samples selected by casting for the audio book of my latest publication 'From Shetland, With Love', which will be released in May 2021. Again, it is such a delight to press play and hear the actors chosen to match my characters - quite surreal in many respects. Some days, I literally have to pinch myself!
Wednesday morning at 10am - I'm booked for a FaceBook live interview with the gorgeous Kiren Palmer, who runs Tamworth Book Club (@TamworthReads) and hosts a book club on Tamworth Radio 106.8fm on Thursday morning from 10am. Kiren has interviewed me many time in recent years and, it is always a giggle chatting with her. Our time will be filled talking about books, my writing and any fun stuff which simply occurs! Viewers can pose questions during the session.
The FaceBook Live link: (please press here)
Hopefully, I'll be able to post the interview clip in the coming days if you can't access it live on the day.
After two very long days of reading aloud to the dog - my proof pages have left the building! This feels like a momentous 'goodbye' as the book passes to my readers; no longer mine.
One wonderful aspect of proofreading is that I fall back in love with my story - it happens every time! I can't wait for publication day arrive to hear what my readers think of Jemima, Dottie and Melissa.
My intention is to take tomorrow off by spending the day sketching - it'll allow my brain to download and chill.
This morning proves why you can't waste time as an author. Yesterday, I spent day the day dicing and slicing my current project and today, my proof pages for the Shetland book arrived back. Proofreading is the final chance I have to amend anything before the printers take delivery. I now have 388 pages of text to reread and spot any errors, additional spaces or layout which aren't correct. Thankfully, others have the same copy and task - our efforts are amalgamated to ensure a perfect copy.
After the initial writing, this is the stage I love. My previous publishers didn't involve authors in proofreading so, I always felt denied of this 'goodbye' stage prior to publication day. Thankfully, my current publishers embrace author input so I get to see my next book as it will appear when printed. Yay!
Today, will consist of me reading aloud, to the dog, while my index finger traces each sentence like a five year old. I'll note any errors as I go.
Today's writing session will be postponed until later tonight.
Here goes, honesty at its best. I spent Monday writing as usual, but by the end of my session I felt ‘meh’ about the scenes I’d written. I didn’t have the spark of satisfaction that usually accompanies my ‘end of work’. Monday night, my brain wouldn’t leave it alone – it mulled over the whys and wherefores until I started writing on Tuesday. Tuesday was a repeat of Monday.
Wednesday dawns along with the realisation that, despite being a planned plot line, my imagination simply isn’t happy with my story.
From experience, I know the action required: a plot rethink and pruning.
Today, I have spent the morning removing 10,470 words from my current project then ‘cut and paste’ another 27,000ish words rearranging the sequence to please my brain.
Done and dusted. My brain is now happy and I can continue to write.
P.S. the 10,470 words aren’t officially trashed - they are dumped into a new document and clearly labelled for a future book. Authors never delete; we simply recycle unwanted scenes.
I've spent the last few weeks juggling with various projects, but as of today, I have just one!
On Saturday, I completed my copy-edits for a publication that is released in May 2021. Copy-edits are a line by line correction in the editing sequence where a copy-editor suggests changes to the text. It’s quite baffling when you initially see the ‘track’ lines beside your manuscript, but you soon adjust. It takes me a fair amount of time as I’m always so cautious of messing up the formatting which has been assigned to the document. Sadly, I messed up some ‘Chapter headings’ on this occasion, so have made additional work for someone. Whoops, sorry!
Anyway, the copy-edits are no longer with me; they’re winging their way towards the final stage: proof-reading. A daunting stage given it’s the final time I’ll see the manuscript prior to printing and publication. I tend to set aside two days and read the entire manuscript aloud to the dog. Seriously, the poor little thing stares up at me for the entire time begging for yet another walk.
In the meantime, 100% of my writing time will be devoted to my new book project which has been written alongside the other recent projects. The word count currently stands at 51,881 – which is half a novel!
Day 3: A workshop on ‘pace, plot and structure’ followed by a session on ‘synopsis’ writing – both vital sessions from which I gain clarity each time I encounter an explanation. Afterwards I completed an exercise, and coupled with my one to one discussion yesterday, ended up with an improved plan for my project - the benefit of attending a weekend retreat is right there!
Now, I just need to write the rest of the book.
The final word count for the weekend: 8052 words – slightly short of my intended goal, but I’m pleased with the progress made. I’ve achieved a hefty word count plus, sorted out my ‘flaky’ character and gained a fresh plan for the rest of the novel.
My main focus for February is to complete the first draft. I've received my copy edits for a previous book from my editor, but they’ll be completed in the coming days.
Day 1: Friday – After an introduction session to meet the other participants, I settled to write for a couple of hours. I didn’t get as much completed as I’d intended as one of my three characters isn’t as developed as she needs to be. She has all the basics but lacks ‘depth’ regarding her conflict. This is what I need to discuss tomorrow in my ‘one to one’ session. I literally want to banter back and forth about my current ideas and see what is suggested/develops to enhance her journey.
I was tempted to focused on my two fully formed characters, but at the moment that would feel like getting ahead of myself. I need to rectify the elephant in the room, as her journey will impact on the other two characters. If it doesn’t then I need to ask myself what is the point of her character so, it is reassuring to feel this way.
Day 2: Saturday – two separate sessions on conflict and characters – which were both enlightening in relation to my current ‘flaky character’. I had a light bulb moment realising that my book contains three different kinds of conflict which adds variety for my reader and characters alike. I hadn’t realised I’d planned it that way, very much within the happy accident territory with that detail. A second realisation, was the hobby awarded to my ‘flaky woman’ has a wealth of opportunity for metaphors in relation to her emotions/persona – again another happy accident which was totally a sub-conscious decision whilst planning.
One to one session – exactly what I needed! In thirty minutes of chatting, answering questions and outlining my current ‘flaky lady’ – she’s no longer flaky! This is the beauty of writing retreats and mentors – with a creative idea you can’t always see the wood for the trees. Then bingo, Alison asks me a question, offers a detail and the whole thing falls together so nicely that you’re amazed you didn’t think of that option beforehand. I have a couple of routes I can take, I need to explore each to decided which will work for me.
During the one to one session, I also clarified my theme too. Previously, I’d been thinking of ‘belonging’, but actually ‘expectations’ is more fitting given the angle I’m coming from.
I’m now settling for a writing session before tonight’s Saturday night social at 7:30pm.