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Posts Tagged ‘drafting’

This is not the Mama Mia… (dot, dot, dot) this is life getting in the way and fatigue. It’s bloody hot I tell you and that makes writing a chore.

I’m about to head out to a granddaughter’s 11th birthday party. I mean really 11. What the hell happened! She’s not meant to be so grown up. I’m not meant to be so old. Okay. I’m not old. Ageism is the mindkiller. I’m with Judy Dench on that. I wish my body would get on side. I have arthritis generally and for the last few weeks some weird as swelling, numbness, tingling in my hands and arms. I must admit it freaks me a bit. But I’m not blogging to be a downer.

I have family here at the moment. My son is visiting from Shanghai and it’s great to have him around. I mean I scored cookies!

I’ve been writing too and that has to be a good thing. After the 52,000 words I wrote in November as part of #NaNoWriMo I picked up the ball again and am currently at 73,000 words. I’m hoping to get more in this arvo and I’m hoping to finish the first rough draft of Skyfire by New Year’s Eve because….I’m going straight on to Moonfall in January, Part Six of the Dragon Wine series and the end of the current story arc. I say this because I have other ideas but they will have to wait until after the PHD studies.

In 2018 I really have to knuckle down and get the bugger done! However, I am taking some time in January to do a mini writer retreat and write Moonfall until I drop. Then it’s back to the Phd novel which is still sitting at a pitiful 30,000 words.

Even while I plan to have both books drafted by the end of January, I’m not sending Skyfire and Moonfall out to be published for a little while.

I have to revise them first. I tend to get the story arc done and then go back and work on scenes and add atmosphere. It also gives me time to add stuff in that I missed out and tweak stuff.

Then I will send it to beta readers and get feedback. Then I act on that feedback and revise again.

Then I send it to the editor if I think it’s ready. Then she flings it back to me, usually with some homework which can take anywhere from two weeks to a month to do and then it goes to the proofreader.

It’s a bit of a team effort getting a book ready.

Sometimes it takes a while to take up the proofreader changes but within a month of getting it back from the proofreader I usually publish it. The print version takes longer as it has to be formatted.

If I succeed in my plans with the draft and revision I’ll have a better idea of timetable. I think my Amazon pre order ban might be lifted by then. hahahaha!

So if I don’t come back with a year in review blog post or my plans for 2018 before New year. Happy New Year!

I

 

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Time seems to fly by so quickly these days. Some kind of inverse perception. When I was a child time passed slowly. Now, I can’t believe how fast.

I wish it would slow down.

For me, 2016 was an interesting year. Lots of changes in my life. I left the work force and started a PhD in Creative Writing. I had done my sums, and of course, things change so sums are often being trimmed and rearranged. Do I regret leaving work? Hell no! It was the best thing for me physically and mentally. Of course I miss the huge $ I was making but there was a cost involved. I’m content.

I started the PhD with a vengeance–long days and it hurt too, but now I’m better at balance and I hurt less as a result. I actually felt good for many, many months and I was happy. I realise I can stay home and read and relax while studying instead of in a chair in the study centre everyday. I tried twice this year to get an APA and was unsuccessful, (APA is a stipend/grant for studying) and I have to give up applying now. It was a lot of work putting the application together. Hint do honours and you’ll be a shoe in, they are worth more than a Masters by coursework).  Now I have to look for part time work to fund me. I was hoping for some tutoring at uni but there are no guarantees.

One the writing front, I put out Argenterra in late April. It’s my epic, portal fantasy, that’s not dark (like Dragon wine) and is suitable for YA readers. It’s romance themed too. I thought I’d get the next two in the series out this year but that was a lot harder than it seemed to be when I thought it up. Book 2, Oathbound is with the editor (some delays there with editor moving house) and Book 2, Ungiven Land is awaiting one beta reader comments before being revised and sent to the editor. I’m thinking they will be out in the first half of 2017. I was so thrilled to get those books written. Finish drafting my first trilogy!!! (15 years in the making) Wohoo! Next year, when the books get published I’ll see how the hybrid, indie, self-publishing gig works for me.

Under the name, Dani Kristoff, I was published again by Escape Publishing, this time with Invoked. It’s the third and last book in the Spellbound in Sydney series. I thought this book was coming out next year so I was so happy to have it come out in December. I have one more book to write under Dani Kristoff and then Dani might retire. I enjoy writing the sexy paranormal books, but you have to have a big enough audience to make it worth your while and frankly, I don’t. I’m proud of those books. Invoked was the hardest thing I’d ever written. Nearly chucked it out. Rewrote it almost completely. It taught me a lot about writing. Although it is dark, especially compared to Spiritbound which was light and bright and lovely.

So for Nanowrimo I wrote another Space Pirate book. This time starring Opi, Rae and Essa’s mother. It’s fun and I like it a lot. I’m going to publish this myself.  Escape aren’t selling enough of the other books, Rayessa and the Space Pirates and Rae and Essa Space Adventures to acquire it. But I’m totally cool with that. I want to publish it myself. It’s a bit of light fun. I’ve kept it sweet level in case any YA readers happen on it, but it’s longer 55,000 words and features older protagonists and space pirates….

Also in December, I dusted off the draft of Deathwings, book three in the Dragon Wine series. I’ve booked it in with the editor that Momentum used for the first two books and I’ve got book 4 booked in too. So fingers crossed I’ll have them out in 2017 too. I have to meet the editor’s deadlines!!! Both books are mostly written. I had to dump about 10,000 words from book 4 and I did that over a year ago (then Phd happened). It was starting off too slowly according to beta readers. I have not written a word of the last two books  (5 & 6) and that will be my side project for the rest of 2017. Around other writing and the PhD and part time work if I get any.

I have three other books in completed draft form. Into the Dark Glass (YA fantasy) is currently with a skilled beta reader. It’s the most ready to go somewhere. Cold Soldier (SF Romance) – I haven’t touched this in nearly a year. Needs a new beginning and a revision. The Tainted Lady, my attempt a Regency romance needs a revised beginning and a revision then polish, then beta readers etc. Ruby Heart is still looking for a home but I’ve a mind to write Emerald Fire (the sequel) or actually finish writing it. Half written I think. I have a couple of other things started but may have to wait years before I revisit them.

I have my PhD novel to write too, which will get drafted during 2017. I think all this other writing helps me refine my craft so the PhD novel will benefit.

I have to prepare for my confirmation seminar in March so I’ll be busy with that in January and February and maybe before New Year. It’s my first piece of work that gets assessed and the foundation for the PhD. I will then be officially one year into the PhD too. My surveys that are part of the PhD are going great guns. Need more responses though.

Along with the rest of the world, I’m processing terrorist attacks, the US election, Brexit, war in Syria, Australian bloody politics and views on refugees, deaths of fav actors and musicians. May we weather these things and find 2017 a better time to live in. Highlights, Jane Austen Festival in Canberra, RWA Conference in Adelaide, Shanghai visiting my son in October and presenting a paper on Twitter poetry in November. Also, I am standing for GUFF ( Going Under Fan Fund), which is a fund to send people from Australia to Europe from SF conventions or a European fan to Australia) and there are some great candidates this year all vying to get to the SF World Con in Helsinki in August. (link below)

Downside some work injury related stuff that I won’t blog about until resolved. Worst thing ever!

I’m still addicted to Twitter and Facebook. I’m the world’s worst gardener, besides the Dweeb and I totally failed at sending Christmas cards this year. I’m pleased to say that this year  for me Christmas isn’t about excess as it usually is. My two daughters are vegans and we are having a small gathering this year so less meat, less waste, less money spent. I kinda feel good about that. I will miss my son, who is in China and two of my grandchildren and their mother who are in Perth this Christmas.

Most of all I want to say, I wish you well and happy and prosperous this Christmas, end of year, New Year. I am grateful for my health, my wonderful family and friends. My excellent partner Matthew (the Dweeb) and for those of you to interact with anywhere in the world and on the internet.

Maybe I’ll see some of you at the ARRA convention in Melbourne in February.

 

More info on GUFF

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I’ve done a series of blog interviews on the topic of beta readers previously. Recently though, I’ve had some thoughts on the timing, or better still at what stage of your drafting/writing/revising process it works best. This was sparked by receiving some excellent feedback on a work in progress.

Not everyone uses a beta reader, but if you look in the author comments or acknowledgements in your favourite books you will see people who  have been thanked, usually as first reader etc. For myself, I need beta readers like I need air. God forbid that a published work of mine was raw and that my first feedback was from a reviewer or a bunch of readers. Thankfully, mostly everything except my blog posts have had a reader, editor etc before being published. Even my Indie published fantasy, Argenterra, had beta readers and an editor before being published. I also beta read for author friends. Not all of them return the favour them being busy with contracted deadlines etc, but I get something out of it. I get to read their books before everyone else and sometimes I get a present of a nice shiny book! I also learn!

I have also used the services of a manuscript appraisal service when I first started out, also I have workshopped a novel with Envision (a fantastic program that no longer exists), that was Argenterra BTW! I also won a Longlines Fellowship to Varuna Writers’ House for Dragon Wine back in 2006 and part of that was feedback and also sharing with other writers there. For Dragon Wine I used the services of a continuity editor which was really useful too.

The ideas and the words are my own but feedback help shape ideas, perspectives etc which are all valuable. Even reading your book aloud to yourself will pick up stuff. Really! Read it to someone else and then heaps of things will jump out at you even when you’ve proofed and polished the text within an inch of its life.

Maybe because I’m an extroverted thinker that beta reader comments work for me. I need a sounding board and I work fairly quickly too, which means I can’t play with one story for ten years with no fertiliser from other people. I usually have several novels or short stories going.

An important consideration in having a beta reader is to have someone who gets what you are doing, who has some interest, sympathy, knowledge, way of thinking etc that gels. Your mum is probably not the best person. Even your kids…although mine usually pick up typos etc after the fact. You need some distance, someone you can trust to be honest and helpful at the same time. More importantly, you need to be ready for feedback. You need to be able to accept criticism because that’s what it is all about. If you want a beta reader to say “OMG! This is the best book on the planet ever!” Give it to your mum. Not that it is not great to get positive feedback, it is…

So it is hard to get good beta readers. If you write a lot it is even harder to share the work around them. Also, you need to return the favour, unless you are paying for a service. If you are paying for a service expect a detailed report and expect to pay upwards of $500 (more these days). Remember you want to be a beta reader that your reader buddies can respect. This means you have to give feedback on things like structure, character, pacing, setting etc too. Your beta reader doesn’t have to be another writer. A reader who likes the genre you write in can be very helpful. I mean they are a sample of your audience right? Your feedback might be a lengthy document, an annotated MS, an email or even just a conversation. It all goes into the mix.

Also different readers have different strengths. You might get a reader who is instinctively good with pacing. Another with character development. So having more than one is helpful. I was going to say essential but we can’t have everything.

I have trusted beta readers for a range of stories. I probably have one who reads anything I write and I read hers. I believe we trust each other, although we have different perspectives.

Timing! Finally I get to the point. This is interesting. The timing varies for me. I might send my MS off just before I send it to submission, when I think it’s fairly polished, but not finally polished just to check that it’s not fatally flawed. Or I might send a tidied up first draft. I never send a story with a gaping hole in it (unless I didn’t see it). I may have a few x in place of names, but usually the story is fully formed. At a minimum a tidied first draft. My older work needs a few drafts before they are ready for beta readers. I’m finding that with The Crystal Gate, the sequel to Argenterra. The third installment is an incomplete rough draft and a nightmare!

You see, Argenterra has been worked on over many years, had many revisions, cut backs etc. The sequel has sat in the hard drive minding its own business and stagnating. Essentially it is a tidied first draft, maybe a tidier second draft. More recent work for me means that the first drafts are much better. I used to be a panster! Now I straddle the fence and plan a bit. Older drafts can be a lot of work, especially if you didn’t make notes!

So the minimum I believe is a tidy, good first draft, where you have  a full story etc and there is something to comment on. I sent The Crystal Gate for a beta read and it’s a tidy second draft. Why?

I have trouble listening to the little voice in my head that says things like “You’ve said that twice now. Maybe cut that.” or “You’ve written the action but what is the character feeling? What is the character’s emotional journey?” Or “That’s all well and good but could there be too much going on in that scene?” But because I’m focussed on my end goal of getting through the revision I don’t stop to deal with those things. I need a second opinion. (Insert LAZY here). I need a kick up the bum. I need to know what’s working and what’s not before I invest too much, before I make a wrong decision. This is where beta reading comments come in. I got some this morning. Some were the kick in the pants stuff-the stuff where I should know better but didn’t. Other comments point out flaws I didn’t notice or thought I could get away with, others highlighted aspects that I hadn’t thought of at all. I know that in addressing these comments I’m going to make the work better. I don’t have to agree with everything that my beta reader says. I’m going to wait for the other beta reader’s comments before working on the MS again.

Essentially the comments have filled me up with enthusiasm, ideas and identified trouble areas where I need to do more thinking. I love this.

I think I would be less likely to be accepting of feedback if I had polished the story to the nth degree and thought it was amazing and gorgeous and nothing could be improved. Nothing could be worse that having someone say-this is fatally flawed, you need to restructure this. You might take that from an editor maybe if you could see their vision. So far I haven’t had to restructure anything majorly at all. For this reason, I think getting feedback on a good draft is better than a polished draft you have no brain power to accept feedback. It can be done. I’ve worked with someone who had been edited and a reader picked up something which meant it had to be edited again and the issue addressed.

Of course, the timing is individual. Some people I know won’t let me read for them until they think their MS is perfect. Naturally enough I don’t get to read for them very often at all.

Now I wrote this post because I’m working on a rough draft of The Ungiven Land, Silverlands book 3. It’s hard work even thinking about this story so procrastination helps. This blog post is brought to you by procrastination!

 

 

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So it’s officially day four of the writers’ retreat and I have a few observations about myself.

I don’t have too much trouble focusing. In fact, I zone out and miss out on the conversations around the table, particularly the ones about me.

I cannot write anywhere near as fast or as much as I used to. I don’t know why that is. There is RSI, which limits me to about 5000 words a day. However, I’m finding even that hard for some reason.

I have a plot summary for this novel I’m writing, but at times it is not very helpful. I have to invent stuff and then today I found that I had left out a portion of the novel because it was going to wrap up too early. I sort of knew instinctively that I was rushing things  around chapter 7, but when I looked at where I was at today I was certain I had. So I’ve been back there, expanding scenes. I’d completely left out Emmett’s point of view from about chapter 8. He’s important to Sage, and he’s the other point of view character, so smack me on the butt. I guess I got caught up in what is happening to Sage. When I’ve finished the story arc, I’ll have to go back and look at the pacing and the balance of action and character. This has been the most challenging thing I’ve written and I really do want to finish the draft. I think it’s going to be fab. I hope it’s going to be fab.

Nicole Murphy and I were chatting this morning and she said we aren’t normal. Writing 5000 words a day was not normal. 2000 to 3000 words was more normal for a writer. I’m like, but we used to write 10,000 words, 9000 and 8000. Yep, says Nicole that wasn’t normal, either.

The point is my hyperactivity button is broken. It won’t engage. I don’t have the head space to write 10,000 words. I’m finding pushing to 5000 a day a bit draining and really, really hard. Perhaps it’s this book. I don’t know.

But 5000 per day for 10 days will yield 50,000 words and maybe the end of this book. Technically, we have 12 to 13 writing days on this retreat. We usually bugger off for at least one of them for a Kirkpatrick tour.

I’m also trialling revising a draft of another book in the afternoons, evenings. So far this is working out okay. I’m not doing a lot, but I’ve started and that’s usually the hard part-opening up the document and starting the revision/edit. I want this particular novel out to beta readers this month.

Enough of my whinging!

A new interview will be along soon.

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