butcherbird, January, new zealand author, Uncategorized, writing

On first readers

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


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.


Done! But not really

I hit the end of the novella yesterday. I’m not entirely happy with the final scenes, but aware that I suck at endings. It’s bound to need work, and I can fix that once I have reader feedback. It’s great to get to ‘the end’, but I know it’s not finished.

Once I’d got my head back into the story after finishing up with Tales I realized that the changes I had made weren’t enough. There were still areas where I could make it stronger and I have a bunch of notes relating to those, waiting for me to address them. I can’t send it out to my readers as is! I’m sure it’s ‘okay’ but it’s not the best it can be, and I don’t want to settle for ‘okay’. This is where it gets fiddly. I need to make sure that what I add is followed through and consistent throughout the novella. Thankfully, I am sure my readers will tell me where I missed spots.

Ultimately I know there are two big things still to address. I have my head around one of them, it’s the other that is still giving me a little trouble. I need to find a way to show how Christy gets to where she is at the start of the story, without huge info dumps or back story. I can do it, it will just take me a few days to figure out the perfect way. I’m kind of hoping that as I make the other changes, the right spot will become obvious. Even typing this, some thoughts crop up. I love blogging for that reason (and others, but that’s a big one!)

I’m going to let it sit for a couple of days while I plot outline for Chasing Ascension and build my wall of inspiration. I may play around with/try to finish a short story I started ages ago, in order to still be writing. But we’ll see – it’s a long weekend here in NZ, and a family one with my Nana’s birthday lunch later today.

Hope everyone has a nice weekend lined up!