butcherbird, January, new zealand author, Uncategorized, writing

On first readers

Today I sent Butcherbird to my first reader, which is both exciting and terrifying.

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What’s a first reader? Well, some people call them an alpha reader, but either way, they are the first person to read your work. Often, the only person or people to read the first draft in all it’s rough and raw glory. We writers are sensitive souls, so it’s not always good for our writer health to be sharing such formative versions of our work*.

Which means that it’s very important to choose your first reader carefully. Some people opt for a supportive partner (mine does not read fiction, so that’s out), but I’ve found a good one in my lovely friend and fellow author Leigh K Hunt. She laughs at all my jokes, can see past the mess to the gold underneath, to my intention and goals, and gives me excellent pointers for honing it into something beautiful. Butcherbird is a little different from the Kotahi Bay books (no romance for starters!), so I’m going to be hanging out to find out what she says about it – being the first book in a new series the nerves are higher than normal. But…

It’s time.

Time to get some feedback. Time to make a plan for the rest of the series. Time to start thinking about covers and sharing things with you as it gets edited. I’m so excited about this book, folks. I hope you’re going to enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I’ve already got the outline for book two, though I think I’m going to wait till after we’ve moved before I dive in. Don’t need to have another big life change happening while I write each of the subsequent books 😉 I’m hoping to knock out a smaller, fun project in that time, so watch this space.

This is going to be a good year. I just know it.

* Some writers are different, of course, and never feel any doubt, but I can’t see me ever being one of those. Others write amazing first copy and while they swear it makes them sweat when they let you read their stuff you can’t help but be sure they are kicking back with a beer waiting for the inevitable praise because their first drafts are just that damn good. Yes, I’m looking at you, Richard Parry.

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Energy consumed elsewhere

I keep thinking of things to blog about and then not getting myself on here and doing it. I keep thinking about the list of things I need to get done before baby comes as well, and not getting on with those things either. I think I’m nesting.

I cleaned the bathroom this weekend, like, actually cleaned it – the bath, the shower, the sink, the cupboards. I threw stuff out, tidied other stuff. It looks great, it smells great, but oh man do I wish I had a ladder and something to make the ceiling look better, and that I was actually allowed to do that kind of activity… (the paint was flaky before we moved in, its still flaky, the best thing to do is NOT LOOK UP. There are no zombie babies hanging from the ceiling, but what I see there is just as scary).

Side note: I’ve been thinking about the zombie babies and the world that story is set in a fair bit lately. Hmm what should I do with it?

I also keep intending to write: finish this last weeks story properly (after deciding to go back and add the bits I skipped over), edit/polish some of my other stories, read and give feedback on several pieces sitting in my inbox. And that’s not happening either – on a happy note though, I DO have a story idea for this weeks Creativity Workshop writing now, so yay me!. I’m hoping to get through some of the backlog of reading today while I mull my idea over. Though now I’m thinking about the zombie babies again.

What else have I been doing? I cleaned the freezer. I started preparing and storing meals in there now that its lovely and clean. I’ve tidied/organized all the kids toys in the lounge. I’ve cleared out other bits of random crap around the house… I feel good about all of these things, but its not writing. Yeah, I’m nesting. I think the problem with the tidy/organizing thing is that half the time the place doesn’t actually LOOK any better than before I started. But at least I know that behind cupboard doors and under beds there is nothing lurking.

Other bits and pieces: less than 5 weeks to go now. I’m feeling anxious a little bit because Lauren was two and a half weeks early and who knows when this one will come? I’ve gone back to referring to it as being due anywhere in the next 3-7 weeks. Keep my mind from thinking too much about it.

I had my first weird facebook moment the other day: bumped into a girl I went to school with (and probably haven’t since seen in person) at the supermarket and she commented ‘Oh this must be Lauren! You don’t have many weeks to go now do you?’ It was nice enough. She’s a nice girl, but you know? It weirded me out a little. People actually read updates, and it’s not like I even post them often….

Ivy is getting better. We’ve cracked down on her, the boundaries are incredibly firm and we’re ignoring all of her negative talk. It’s hard work! But, she seems happier, and more willing to be a pleasant member of the family which is nice. Just have to keep at it. I wish there was room for a little more flexibility where she’s concerned, but for now, she just can’t handle it so we’ll have to be mundane and predictable. Over the course of a week I’ve gone from having to search for the smallest things to praise her on, to being able to genuinely tell her how wonderful, helpful, and caring she is. It’s so nice, I actually like being around her now that she’s not yelling at me all the time! What a relief.

Oh, and possibly the most amazing event of the week: I went out on Saturday morning to a Mum’s market, with no children. I was gone for just over an hour and no one died, not even Hubby, though they were all grateful to see me return. It’s the first time I’ve left the house sans children for something other than a quick trip to the supermarket to get a missing dinner ingredient. Lovely! Why on earth do we wait until our time is running out to take back the little things that make life easier? I’ll have to try and do it again at some point before the new baby arrives 🙂

Hope everyone is having a lovely week, sorry for the long, rambling post. I’m off to read, and think about zombie babies, no! Delaney, and Kira. Yeah, that’s it. Delaney and Kira… (and zombie babies).

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On form again

And I’m feeling gooooood!

I completed the rewrite of a story yesterday, and just polished it a bit now. I’m going to submit it in a couple days when I’m sure that there is nothing blatantly obvious that needs working on. I also sent off my flash fiction piece this afternoon after polishing that up as well.

YES!

By the end of the week I’ll have 3 pieces out into the world, and I’m really thrilled about that. Now to pick the next piece to work on and get stuck into it. I’m hoping it will be an easy pick and that I don’t get derailed somehow. Something to mull over for the rest of the day while I try and get some critique work done and out the door.

Balancing these things is something I’m still not fantastic at – it seems to be an all or nothing kind of thing. I’m either just working on my own stuff, or just looking at other peoples. I’m very aware of the fact that I need to clear my desk though, and to that end I’ve mostly stopped saying ‘yes’ to the people asking me if I have time to read stuff.

Mostly… *grins* it’s hard to say no to some people when I can pretty much guarantee I’ll enjoy the story!

Anyway. On with the critiquing while the baby sleeps. I’m counting down the days of school holidays (three, including the weekend, but not today as it’s more than half done). YES!!!!!!!!!! I can’t wait to get back to our normal routines, even though the beginning of Term 2 marks the downward count to baby’s arrival. 11 weeks to go folks!

Just had to edit to add that after declaring 11 weeks, baby started kicking the hell out of me as if to say ‘if you’re lucky!’

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Things that give me a buzz

I’m talking about writing here, not substances or events, just so we’ve got that out of the way 😉

Lately a few things have been happening that just make me go ‘yeah!’ when it comes to writing, and the fact that I’d been feeling flat for a week meant that it was really good timing.

I sent quite a hard critique to someone and had no idea how they might take it. I’ve worked with this person before on a novel of theirs, but this was the first time I’d had to be quite harsh. I hoped that it wouldn’t ruin our writing relationship, and was pleasantly surprised when the email I got back was enthusiastic and appreciative of the comments I’d given – it’s so great to know when you are working with people who are eager to learn and improve their writing, gives me such a buzz and makes me want to try even harder myself.

I also read through one of the stories I finished last week and realized it was nowhere near as bad as I originally thought! Then I sent it off to a relatively new writing friend to get their take on it. Testing out the waters as such – what I got back was a really great set of comments which really honed in on where I could make the story better and where it worked well. Love it when I get a good crit! (By good I mean helpful, someone telling me I’m awesome is not helpful or good).

And Merrilee read Snow White for me and gave me some good feedback there too, though I’m still trying to hash out how to improve that one. I know it’ll get there soon enough! I have some other notes from Karen and another reader, so it will get there. I have hope.

I’m feeling like I’m getting back on track. I have four short stories that are complete and need reworking, which is a damn side closer to the 6 I wanted than I thought I was. Somehow, within a few days and with very little actually happening I went from feeling like I was never going to reach my goal to realizing that I wasn’t too far off it and might even manage to have more than 6 short stories to submit by the time this baby makes it into the world.

That’s a pretty awesome feeling. Sometimes I guess all it takes is a little bit of buzz from the other writers in your life to make you look at your own pile of work in a different light.