I'm nipping on-line during a coffee break to bring you up to date. I have spent every day since my last book post editing my Shetland Christmas book. Today, I will finish and submit it - as planned. The manuscript has been edited paragraph by paragraph which can be a laborious task, as my brain suddenly throws up brand-new sparkly ideas. Another favourite trick for my brain is the desire to switch the order of chapters to improve the pace of the novel. A first glance, you'd think that was easy but no, it's like juggling jelly as you have to unpick the chapter from its current position and reposition then stitch it into place elsewhere. All date details, times, weather conditions, events and characters need to be rechecked afterwards incase you've skewed the plot sequence. It feels great when completed and you're happy with the result, but it scrambles your brain most of the time. It hasn't happened this time, but there have been occasions when I've completed such a task only to find a blinding error and need to reverse to the original order. Urgh, such fun!
My manuscript has changed from a rainbow of colour into black font as I work through. I'm a visual person so like to see my progress highlighted by the swathe of black which creeps through my manuscript. There's no going back from this point.
The fun part, yes - there is still fun to be had at this stage, is when my brain throws up a tiny detail which slips into the plot without any fuss or trouble. I love those moments, which usually reinforce your themes or character arcs at a deeper level. I've had several of those moment since the weekend.
The word count has been all over the shop since the weekend, sometimes as high as 110,000 before lowering back to nearer 97,000 words. It's quite amazing how it shifts and changes over the course of an edit.
My plan for tonight is simple - keep polishing until it is done. I have no intention of having this book in my possession by the time I wake for breakfast tomorrow morning (28th January 2021). It will have long gone by then.
The new book project is currently standing at 32,382 words - I've spent a minimum amount of time each day due to focussing on editing my Christmas book.
My plan for tomorrow is to take the day off; I need to download my brain freeing it from this current manuscript. I intend to
listen to all nine hours of my first audiobook, which is released tomorrow, whilst sketching.
Good morning, I didn't expect to provide another blog this week, but I received such a lovely review from Sue Flint's blog page - I thought I'd share the link with my followers.
I met Sue a while back when she hosted the 'Writer and readers' group' in Tamworth, Staffordshire. Sue has continued to upload her reviews throughout 2020 on her own blog page. So why not, grab a fresh coffee and have a read.
Available in ebook, paperback and audiobook from: Amazon
Day 19 of the secret new book project and so far, so good. I've aimed for 1400 words per day and that's worked out pretty well apart from one day where a wrote myself into a blind alley so scraped an entire section, but hey, that happens! Its a case of SUMO (shut up, move on). This new project doesn't actually feel like work as I've settled at the end of each day to indulge myself after editing. If anything, it has reminded me of years gone by when I used to complete a full-time job and then settle at my desk to write late into the night. The olden days when I was juggling so much each day, but had my heart set on a dream. This new project feels like those times as no one else knows the subject, characters details or the conflict they'll face. The words have spilt onto the page each night which is pure joy for any author.
Regarding the editing task, I've just eight days remaining if I'm to submit early on 27th January. My deadline is the 1st Feb, but I have an on-line weekend writing retreat booked from Friday, 29th Jan so, I don't want the book submission hanging over my head. The 28th Jan is the release date for my first audiobook 'New Beginnings At Rose Cottage' so, I intend to spend the whole day listening and drawing. Which leaves the 27th Jan as my chosen date to submit my Christmas book. I'll manage it; the current progress is good.
Whilst writing this blog post it dawned on me that you might be writing alongside or plotting your own project. I have no way of knowing who, what, when, where or how far you've come on your writing journey. A couple of things I wished I known early on might help you guys.
Firstly, nothing is ever wasted - don't ever scrap written words, simply create a new document, then 'cut and paste' and save. It is amazing how many descriptions/dialogue paragraphs I have reused in later books which I was happy to scrap from a previous manuscript.
Secondly, start following as many people as you can on social media related to your genre. When you sign a contract it is written into the clauses that you'll need a 'social media presence'. Seriously, it is. You don't have to go all out tweeting and posting everyday but do create accounts, follow those you're interested in on a daily basis and learn from the things you see them do. You'll spot their mistakes too - it's all additional learning for your future self!
Thirdly, take every opportunity to read about other authors, listen to back-dated interviews, attend on-line chats - it is amazing which small nugget of information you'll glean that can make a huge difference to your writing, journey or mindset.
And finally, enjoy the journey. I was on my publishing journey for a hell of a long time and if I hadn't taken pleasure in the small steps I made, I'd have been pretty damned miserable. I know that's easier said than done, when all you want is to be published, but you can't let your dream cloud the rest of your days.
Whether you're joining me by writing a new book or simply following my progress, I thought I'd update my word count as proof that little and often is always a winner in writing! This morning, Saturday 9th, I've nearly hit the 13,000 mark for the new book. That's the result of a set amount of time each day and the pleasure of getting lost creativity - nothing more. Simply seeing progress gives a writer a boost; I've managed that without disrupting my main editing task - which feels like a bonus book. That feedback of positivity to the brain motivates us to complete the cycle again and again. I'm a person who always rewards myself on the successes of life, big or small. It might seem arrogant or superficial, but I frequently praise myself for a job well done! Why wouldn't I? I'm the first to praise others when they achieve!
I've started to edit for today so, have placed an asterisks beside the current figure for my manuscript. Editing is going well, it's not my favourite of tasks but I've learnt to embrace it, shall we say. I recognise the difference between my drafted manuscript and the book that it becomes after editing - which helps. That mindset was developed due to a retreat I attended held by Alison May and Janet Glover (excellent mentors by the way). I'd prefer to be writing on a blank page, that's where my joy lies, but editing is a must! In order to make my editing process enjoyable for me, I tend to edit outside of my writing room. I put a boxset on the TV downstairs, sit myself on a big cushion and surround myself like a carpet picnic with everything I need. A very different location and setting to my writing room where I perch at a desk. New task: new location - psychological, in many ways. Anyway, editing is going well. I'm stripping away the dead wood. Plotting works in a similar way too. I use the floor as a desk and literally play like a kid for hours by spreading out my post-it notes before collecting them and organising them into the manuscript book which I create for each new novel. Do you remember being a child and getting lost playing with Lego? Literally hours pass without you being aware of anything other than hunger! That's how I plan; reinforces I'm just a big kid at heart!
Once upon a time, I used to teach fitness classes and each yoga session ended with meditation. I still meditate each day as it benefits my wellbeing plus, I'm prepared to use anything that aids my creativity. After yesterday's meditation, two news ideas, just small plot points, pinged into my head. I wrote them down to prevent forgetting and today, I'll work them into the plot. What I'm saying is, I allow myself space away from daily life and work to simply be for ten minutes and its quite amazing what can result from that dedicated time. Now, I know some have just rolled their eyes, others might snigger - go ahead, but be open minded enough to try something new for a few days and argue for yourself whether it works in your world. It definitely works in mine. The same often occurs with any silent task: knitting, drawing, dog-walking or meditation. Try it, you might surprise yourself.
Right, I need to get back to my editing and my 'The Big Bang Theory' boxset but, should my agent or editor ask if I'm writing a new book, your answer is a steely 'no!' OK? This project is a secret book, they'll see it soon enough.
My working day is currently being split 75:25 between my editing task and writing this new book. My main task for the month is obviously my editing but I’m a creative person who needs to have an outlet - well, that’s my excuse anyway.
I’ve had a good few days. The editing has gone well as I have all the words needed but not necessarily in the right order. Though each hour I tend to it I can see a difference when I compare the manuscript to yesterday’s version. Whilst editing, the book literally emerges from the haze of words and takes on life as a book rather than a draft manuscript.
The new manuscript is behaving as it should. I’ve written the opening scenes for each of my three ladies. I always feel a bit sad for them at this stage; each has an issue/dilemma which she has no idea of how I’m going to resolve on her behalf. Two characters already have clear distinct voices while the third is a little weak at present, but she’ll develop in the coming weeks. She’s got a story to tell so, she’ll find her voice soon.
My new manuscript is a rainbow of pink, blue and green font split by chapter headings and my spreadsheet contains details of scene setting and a snippet of content – enough to jog my memory when looking at the overview. That said, my editing manuscript is also in stripes of coloured font – nothing has changed there.
In the new project, I’ve revised some of my males’ names as two of them simply didn’t feel right once I was writing. That happens to me a lot with minor characters. Some have numerous name changes during my drafting as my taste changes or something significant puts me off a specific name eg. a news story or event. For instance, Joel in my debut novel was called Declan for about a year before I switched his name. How anyone names a baby and keeps its name without changing it a million times is beyond my understanding!
I realised this morning that one of my descriptions is the interior of a local restaurant so I’ve rejigged some details and disguise that fact, but in my mind’s eye I can clearly see what I’m writing about. I know readers won’t ever suspect but it helps me to be specific regards layout and setting.
I’ve had to rejig a couple of business names as well as you want something realistic but not too twee. I ran the new names through ‘Google search’ just to be on the safe side. I do ‘Google’ checks quite a lot to ensure that I’m not including local business details that I subconsciously picked up whilst on a dog walk.
I think that is it; all that I’ve done in the past few days. I’ll continue the 75:25 split working on both projects each day.
If you’ve got a specific question or query which I’ve overlooked don’t hesitate to contact me either on Twitter @ErinGreenAuthor or email: ErinGreenAuthor@mail.com
The photo shows my word count spreadsheet. During editing, if the word count is reduced I don’t use minus figures as it distorts my monthly/annual word count – I insert a zero instead. I'm attempting to maintain a 1400 word daily target for the new project as I can't afford for it to take priority over my editing task; I have a deadline to meet!
Happy New year, folks! I’m hoping you had a glorious start to 2021 and are bursting with vitality for the days, weeks and months ahead. I’m totally ignoring the news and have locked myself into a creative bubble where I intend to stay for the foreseeable future.
My aim for the next 90 days is to finish editing the current Shetland book, deadline is 1st February, and begin a brand-new book. In fact, I tell a little lie there … I started writing a new book yesterday (for those who follow me on Twitter that won’t be a surprise).
Before I was published, I wanted to know exactly how an author wrote, planned and worked on a book. Despite many searches and media follows I rarely found authors who shared their time lines, working hours and the difficulties encountered. In this coming series of blogs, I’m going to share my progress as it happens. I’ll happily be honest about my progress and word count each time.
Two weeks ago, I created three new characters and made up a manuscript book in which I have stuck a glossy catalogue photo for each person. I’ve given each character their own page and filled it with specific details about them. This book becomes my sacred guide to this new book. I’ll write down any research questions, quirks or habits, plot details and even background history which comes to mind. I might not use it all but once its written down I can’t possibly forget an idea - which can come in handy when polishing a book or a little extra is needed.
I used post-it notes to plot the story arc obviously, on three different colours one for each character, and have ordered them into a feasible story line – which I’ve stuck into the manuscript book.
There’s no reason why I’ve waited two weeks to begin; it’s one of my quirks - I like specific dates!
On my laptop, I’ve now created a ms template, complete with dedication and coloured fonts relating to my character. I write in the first-person viewpoint so it’s easier keeping track plus, the bonus is I can feed my brain colour rather than the standard black font whilst I’m creating. I only switch the document to black font just before I send it to my agent and editor.
My manuscript prep includes creating an excel spreadsheet where I log chapter details as I write. Over the years, I’ve adapted my routines and records but this system is currently working for me so, why would I change? I know other authors don’t use additional documents but I like to know exact details while I create as it helps me when I am editing the book later in the process.
I also have a daily word count document which I complete purely as an inventory of my productivity. Again, I know many authors don’t keep such records but over the years I’ve been able to see my own development so, this document has proved invaluable. Last year 2020, I managed to write 315,675 words – I wouldn’t know that without my daily record!
Everything I do aims to improve my productivity and imagination – nothing more.
Anyway, 1st January 2021, I wrote ‘Chapter one’ of my new book. I haven’t got an official title as all my books barring two have changed their titles upon publication. I use a working title purely for my own benefit and discussing with friends as it gets confusing if you have several projects on the go, but I know my working title won’t make it to the front cover. I wrote 1406 words for the new book, edited a chapter of the Shetland book and did a little additional research.
I've already been on my dog-walk so, have pondered what I'll be writing later. Today, I’ll follow on with ‘Chapter two’ and edit more of my Shetland book – simple.
It might only be 2pm, but I’ve cracked open the bubbles! Seriously, I have. That’s because I’m celebrating on this final day of 2020! I have just queued for 10 minutes to enter a Tesco store at Coalville to witness my book baby sitting on their shelf surrounded by other lovely authors. It seems very strange to refuse a basket or trolley and head straight for the book section knowing you won’t be buying a single item in such a huge store. But that’s what I do each time I go on sale in a superstore; the food shop can wait.
As an author, it feels strange entering and seeking out your own book in their aisle. It’s even funnier when you scan the shelves and spy your book then proceed to snap photographs amidst other customers who are busy browsing and reading blurbs. They're not watching you at all! Once you’ve snapped a suitable #Shelfie for use on social media you then stand amidst the said book browsers posting on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook before heading straight for the exit knowing you put a bottle of bubbles in the fridge before driving to the store.
So, there it is, my end to 2020! I couldn’t have asked for better. I know the entire planet has hated this year, but I haven’t. I’ll be honest, this year was always going to be a difficult year due to a personal tragedy in 2001/2002, but I’m eternally grateful to 2020 for every minute she’s awarded me. Back in 2002, I’d never dreamt I’d see this date, but I have! I’m still here. And, I’m so incredibly proud to be able to write that last sentence.
I wish you all the happiest, the merriest and more importantly, if 2020 has been your ‘bad’ year just know how resilient she has made you ready for a fabulous future!
Love Erin x
Not the year I was expecting but hey, it has enabled me to hibernate, read and write till my heart is content so, I can’t complain. If anything, I am very grateful for the experience and time awarded to me.
My original goal in January 2020 was to read 25 books but I managed 37 in total. I tend to have multiple books on the go at the same time: an epic read, usually a classic and various books ranging in genre/format. Others claim it’s a ‘bad habit’ but for me, it maintains my interest as I can wantonly move from genre to genre as the mood takes me. I love the fact that I can enjoy Eliot in the morning, Mansell by mid-afternoon and settle with Christie by bedtime. Isn’t that bliss?
During 2020, I have reread numerous books from my youth as I think I needed the comfort of old friend around me. I love how books are just like music in transporting you to a specific age and time.
I listen to audiobooks during dog-walks, gardening and cleaning but don’t count these in my annual reading list. My book total would be more than double if I did, funny that.
Anyway, I have no plans to change my ‘bad’ reading habits or tastes so look forward to 2021. Again, I’ll choose 25 books as my annual goal.
During 2021, I might share my current reads more than I previously have. My choices are somewhat eclectic in nature as I tend to drift between genres and interests. My GoodReads tally for 2020: reading books
My current reads are:
Mill on the Floss – Eliot (classic read)
Cranford – Gaskell (bookclub challenge read)
French Kissing – Shelby (ebook read)
Wishing you health and happiness for the year ahead plus, plenty of reading time!
It is 2:20am and I should be going to bed, but I can't. I literally couldn't sleep if I tried. I have just waved goodbye to the month of November - which has been the most productive month of my writing career. Seriously.
Firstly, for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) I managed a staggering 72,900 words in relation to the expected challenge of 50,000. Those 72,900 words are my Christmas book for 2021. I just need 25,000 words to complete draft one! My deadline is 1st February 2021.
Secondly, three weeks ago, my structural edits arrived back for the book I'd completed in October. My deadline for completion: today. I've just sent the amended manuscript back to my editor and agent.
I'm chuffed to bits with how much I've accomplished in 30 days. Tomorrow, I will celebrate with a bottle of bubbles!
For the next three days, I'm officially taking holiday away from my screen, but I'll see back here on Friday morning when I'll crack on with those final 25,000 words for the Christmas book 2021.
Night, night x
I'm as surprised as anyone, believe me. I literally started the month with my usual NaNo plan and something else took over but I'm delighted with the results. Every book I've written has had a life of its own and this current project is no exception. I have a few more chapters to write until I finish the Christmas book, but I also have structural edits to complete for my October book. Now that I've reached my 50,000 goal I intend to switch my main focus to my edits as my deadline is 30th November.
I'll continue with my NaNoWriMo updates every few days.
Word count update: 72,900/50,000