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So what DO I want to write?

*this post only relates to my novel writing, my short stories are coming along just fine ;-)*

Having decided to set Lifelines aside, I find myself presented with the next problem. One which has me feeling like I am floundering around.

If that’s not what I want to write – what is?

Do I have any novels that are good representatives of what I want to write? Or am I going to need to start fresh?

A quick run through the list leaves me with this: I have an unfinished trilogy of pure fantasy novels. I’m currently not sure how I feel about fantasy.

I have a YA supernatural type novel. I don’t think I want to write YA.

I have a space novel with young adult characters but which I don’t consider to be a YA novel. This one could be okay, but it does need work.

Novellas? I have two, ones a dark fiction tale that I really want to see reworked and published. That’s more in the vein of the writing I want to do. The other… it was a fun piece to write and it was more about just having a bit of a break from ‘serious’ writing.

Hmm…

I think I’m letting myself get too trapped by ‘genre’ when thinking about what I want to write. I would probably be better to say that I want to write thought provoking stories, stories that explore characters selves and how that relates to the situations that they are in, how that is changed by their circumstances and the choices they find themselves making.

Which could be just about anything.

I keep telling myself that I don’t need to think about this right now because I’m not novel writing, not for a fairly long time yet. I’m not even considering novel writing until next year, possibly not until the second half depending how this whole 3 child thing works out. There are too many unknowns in the equation – it could be much easier than I thought, or I could have no energy or drive to do anything other than be the best mother and wife I can be for awhile.

I’m going to put these thoughts in a box for now, but I really felt like I needed to get them out of my head first. It will sort itself out.

Possibly the most surprising thing about this post is how ambivalent I feel about ‘fantasy’ right now. I used to think that was all I would write, and now… well I just don’t know if I do want to write it. Traditional fantasy, sword and sorcery, whatever, has kind of lost its appeal for some reason.

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A novel revelation

It hit me a couple of nights ago that I no longer want to pursue publication for Lifelines. It’s not that I think it’s bad, because I don’t: I think it’s a good novel, a very enjoyable read – but it’s not what I want to be known for as a writer.

At best, Lifelines is a mainstream novel with very mild fantasy elements. The bulk of what I write is firmly entrenched in the realm of speculative fiction. Lifelines was the beginning of novel writing for me, and from there my style and tastes have evolved. I’m proud of it, but it’s not where my passions lie and I can’t see myself writing anything else along the same lines.

It’s been a wonderful learning curve, and I really enjoyed my time with all the characters involved but I don’t want to invest any more in it. I was planning on giving it another polish before starting to submit it again. Then I started thinking that right now is not the best time to submit it anyway – if by some chance miracle it got accepted by an agent/publisher, I’m not really in a position to devote the time and energy to it that would be required with revisions and edits, or marketing.

Which led to me realizing that I actually don’t want to publish it anyway. It was something I was doing as the end of the natural cycle: write, get feedback, revise, edit, submit.

Lots of friends and family have enjoyed the story, which is more than enough for me. I can consider Lifelines a success because it pushed me in ways I hadn’t experienced before, and gave me back my lust for telling a good tale, for entertaining an audience.

I’m quite sure it will see more readers – I’ve yet to get the revised edition out to the people who wanted to see how I rewrote it, and hey, maybe I will knock it up into an ebook at some point and offer it for free. Who knows.

All I know is that this is one novel I’m not submitting to agents/publishers. It has served it’s purpose well, and for that I am grateful.

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The beauty of organization

I am a lover of well labelled files and folders. Of having everything within easy reach – long gone are the days when I have to hunt around after a story I’ve not looked at in awhile.

Well, so I thought. Seems I haven’t been keeping up to date and there were a few stories languishing on google docs that had never made it into my files. I knew I’d written more, so it’s a relief to find them!

However, I am once again up to date and setting myself up for a massive organizing spree in the lead up to baby’s arrival. I know full well that time will be limited and that in order to make the most out of both my first weeks with a new baby, and my writing stuff, organization is the key to success.

My goal prior to then is to have a bunch of short stories ready for submission (I might even beat a novella into shape while I’m at it), and make sure that Lifelines is looking good still. I want to spend most of the last half of the year submitting, maybe writing a little fresh stuff but I doubt there will be time for revision or editing.

Submitting isn’t actually a quick process though, I know that now. You can spend hours searching for the right markets to send a story to and then making sure you are presenting it in the right way – so this is where the organization comes in.

My goal is to have a spreadsheet for each of my submittable stories/novels/etc with lists of markets for each, along with the basic guidelines and email addresses to send in to. In this way, I can simply submit, then if the story gets rejected, move onto the next market on the list until it finds a home – after I put in the time and effort to build a list for each story it should make things a lot more streamlined when my time is at a premium after June. Being realistic means that I know I won’t have the time later on (not only that, but I don’t want to be spending that time when I have a new baby to care for and bond with), but I know that I will want to be doing something writing related and being organized will take the guilts out of it all, and hopefully mean I can maintain being ‘productive’ while expending a minimal amount of time and effort on the writing front.

How do you do this submission thing? Find a market, submit, then find another if need be? Or make lists? I’d be interested to know. Prior to this it was a little haphazard, so I am feeling pretty good about this new approach, and have a feeling it might be continued even when I do have time further down the track.

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Looking back

While I was looking through my list of unfinished stories I came across one which I would really like to see through to completion. It’s been sitting for a very long time now, hell I don’t even remember when I started it! The idea excites me though and its fantasy, which I haven’t written any of for awhile – it all seems to be horror or sci-fi these days.

On reading through, I quickly discovered how bad the writing is. The story is fine, the writing… well, lets just say that its obvious from this piece that overwriting is one of my flaws. In particular, stating things a couple times in different ways.

Why on earth does that happen? At least its glaringly obvious on a re-read, and I have certainly come a long way in that I don’t do it as much as I did a couple of years back!

It is nice to see where you’ve progressed, and that is what I took away from the read through. I’m better than that now, and as a result, the story when it’s finished will be much better too. My writing is getting tighter, my craft stronger.

Which makes me want to go back and edit Lifelines again… but we’ll see ๐Ÿ˜‰ I can’t be taking on too many little projects! I’ll end up getting nothing completed.

What are your big flaws as a writer? How have you improved over the last year or so?

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Goals for 2010

I’m bored and cooking a roast dinner so I have some time to blog, that’s the beauty of a good roast – you chuck it in, it does it’s thing, you have some time and then you get to eat beautiful food.

Anyways… I’ve been thinking about some achievable goals for the next year and have come up with a couple. I’m going small so that I can feel like I’ve achieved something at the end of it, something other than adding another beautiful baby to the whanau. Speaking of, that’s going at the top of my list!

Bring another blessed life into the world.

Keep submitting Lifelines and give it another going over.

Build up a store of short stories for submitting over the year, and work on increasing my collection of ideas.

Finish painting the bathroom and get the bedroom painted before baby arrives.

Spend ~15 mins a day in the garden

Be a better dog owner: half hour walks every day, make sure she gets some more love.

A lot of these are actually about forming habits. I need to form a habit of exercising daily, both for myself and the dog. I may have a week or so off after new baby arrives but I’m going to need that half hour for my sanity I think, and she’s going to need the attention more than ever. If I can form a habit of gardening then the work will never pile up and we’ll have a steady supply of fruit and veges.

I also need to get into the habit of regularly submitting my novel and short stories to places, hopefully I can do this in the next six months and it will mean I have an easier time of the process once new baby comes.

There are a bunch of other things I would like to do – finish writing Chasing Ascension, work on my other novels, commit to a million things – but I know I can’t. Anything other than what’s on the list is a bonus.

Hope everyone else has a good start to the new year! Not long to go now.

Tomorrow I’ll be adding my post about the planning of my new year novella, should be good, am enjoying what I’m coming up with so far though I think it’s going to be a little different from anything I’ve written so far.

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Goals wrap up for 2009

This year I’ve done two general ‘goals’ posts, one at the start of the year and one halfway through.

The first general list looked a lot like this, though I’ve added in red purple (I don’t even like red really!) how I went:

Get published in some way shape or form! – didn’t manage this

Move house (a given), and buy it (still have to talk to the bank). – moved and purchased, renovations begun!

Finish edits on Lifelines and start submitting it. – I actually did this!

Edit Following Faith and look for a potential home for it. – planned to start, never did.

Write two new novels. – I completed the first draft of The Consign Mate, and started writing Chasing Ascension.

Rewrite/edit/polish one of my existing novels. – other than Lifelines, my previous novels remained untouched, though I did read Book 1 & 2 of the Resurgence Trilogy and began planning the third novel.

Get back into playing the Sax. – epic fail!

Read a lot more and keep up to date onย Goodreads. – I read a lot more. I did not keep up to date on Goodreads.

Get fitter, be more active. I want to be a good role model for my girls and I donโ€™t feel like Iโ€™m doing that at the moment. – I am more active now, though not as much as I had wanted to be by now.

Successfully pull off theย Kiwiwriters venture being announced tomorrow. – this went off really well, worth the time and effort.

The second one was a lot more vague as I had been posting monthly goals and not doing so well on them. I’d loaded the first half of my year up in a big way and was learning from my mistakes.

I did pretty well with this: Lifelines is being submitted to places still, I didn’t quite get 6 short stories ready for submission but I wrote 6 drafts and am working on rewrites of some of them. The gardens are still not complete but I did manage to get a good crop of a couple vegetables out of it so far.

2010 is just around the corner, and as it comes I know I have about 6 months of being able to get stuff done, followed by trying to adjust to the new life in our home and adapting to being a family of 5 rather than 4. It’s going to be interesting, but I know it’s going to be a lot of fun. Good things await, I just need to let myself be open to them.

I’m going to try and come up with some goals for 2010 and post them in the next day or so.

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Back on track

I’m feeling much much better as of yesterday afternoon – perhaps I had some kind of bug or something cause I’m not as exhausted and I can think straight again, despite less sleep. Go figure! I did manage to get cracking into some planning and am actually beginning to feel a little bit of excitement for November now.

While going through the characters, I kind of figured out who is going to die… oh man, I had no idea that the death toll was going to be quite so high. Some of these characters have been in both of the previous two books, some in only one of them, but still, they’ve been around for awhile now and it’s strange to think of them as ‘dead’. Only one of them is really pissed off about it though, and admittedly he’s a bit hard done by but it’s a necessary death, all of them are.

Anyways, I am going to try and get a few more questions answered over the next few days so that I can get a rough outline in place – things may very well change between now and the end of the first draft, but I’ll be as prepared as I can be for what lies ahead which will hopefully mean no ‘writer’s block’ preventing me from getting the words down. I’m feeling excited about the novel again which is wonderful, now I just have to hold off until the start of November, thankfully its not too far away and this weekend will be full enough to distract me.

Now, I’ve been thinking about Lifelines a lot lately as well, and want to have another look at it when I get a chance. I’ve thought of some small changes I want to make and think I can work away at those slowly (I’ve decided that there is far too much shrugging in the book, lol though it may just be my imagination, I want to eliminate them). I also need to get my act together and send out more queries. I only sent two, both of which have been rejected and I’ve not made the time and effort to send more out since then – gotta get on with it!

So yes, that’s me… busy busy, as always. The oven is connected finally at lunchtime today so I’ll be baking over the next few days in preparation for Lauren’s 1st birthday party on Saturday. Mum is making carrot cake for the birthday cake, so that’s one less thing for me to do, besides I think she’ll do a better job of it anyways ๐Ÿ˜‰

At least I’m feeling good, that makes everything easier!

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Mostly successful weekend

I got most of the things done on the list, and some extras – I didn’t get the paint away the yellow though because the weather was so bad yesterday. We’ve had a massive cold snap and it feels a lot like winter again unfortunately – hopefully it doesn’t last too long! We’re hopefully BBQing for Lauren’s first birthday in a couple of weeks and the weather better be behaving by then!

Anyways… I was in a foul mood yesterday, in part due to home stuff, but also because it had been days since I wanted to write the Johnny kills Ellie scene and I still hadn’t got the chance to! Arg, and then last night I had to leave for dinner at my Mum’s mid murder – very frustrating (I almost took the laptop with me so that I could keep writing it, but decided I wouldn’t be so rude!). Needless to say, I feel a whole lot better now that that little snippet of a story is finished.

So what’s next? I’m going to spend this week reading Following Faith and Ayden, making notes and plans, and then I get to launch into some revision and editing – YAY! I’m really excited to work on Following Faith, and even more excited to put it up here for people to read. Not that it will be everyones cup of tea but oh well, I like the story.

As well as that, I’m going to be sending out my first query letters for Lifelines. Feeling good about that and looking forward to another learning curve. It will be really nice not to be working on it for awhile, thats for sure.

All in all, it’s an exciting time in my writing life right now. Very exciting.

With that said, I better go and finish the housework. Almost time to drop Ivy at preschool and then it’s play time with Lauren for a couple hours… then finally, nap time and I can do my reading/note taking. Oh, bliss.

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Daylight savings is here

And, I didn’t get out of bed til 8am. Yes, I know it was a trick, but it still felt really good.

The weekend saw the kitchen painted – yay for another job off the list – and the new hob purchased. Hopefully we can get that installed sometime this week and we’ll be cooking.

I also managed to fiddle a bit with the synopsis and start working on a hook for my query letter – I think it’s coming along okay, but am really looking forward to this coming week when hubby is at work, Ivy has daycare and Lauren actually has naps! Seriously difficult to get anything done here on the weekends at the moment.

I’ve spent some more time reading through Branwen as well, and oh, these characters… I adore them. I can’t wait to start writing again! It’s going to be so much fun. I’m about halfway through the first book, but the second is much longer – I’m going to have to start demanding the laptop at night so I can get through it all in the near future and be onto the planning, though I’m already making notes.

Hmm, better cut it short… Lauren is cracking herself up by throwing all my books off the bookshelf lol it’s very funny, but I probably shouldn’t encourage it!!

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My synopsis through someone elses eyes

I didn’t get much time to work on things yesterday, again, the sleep thing, arg, these teeth should be through soon and we should be back in business. Still, I was reading through the synopsis first draft and thinking about how I could make improvements – it needs tightening, and to sound more interesting. I was also chatting to Chibi, and she asked me to send it through, so I did… and then she started rewriting it for me.

She has read the novel and now the synopsis, so she took my words and put a different spin on them. It was really interesting to see someone else tackle the task and gave me some insight into what another person thinks are the important bits of my novel.

I’m going to have fun reworking it, and her initial paragraphs actually helped me to see how I could write a good hook. I’m looking forward to having the time and space to get stuck into that – hopefully this weekend.

On other fronts, I finally got the paint yesterday, YAY! I can’t wait to get it up on the walls today (all going well anyway). Will give the room a more finished look and means its one more thing I can tick off the (rather long) list.