NaNo No, Part 2: A Resurgence?

Image result for stardust airship
The further the skyship ascended into the stratosphere, the more Cathy was made to regret (that) she hadn’t tied her hair above her head/up. The rain danced/? off the sails with ?/ thrummed/? against the deck. She drew her/a shawl/? closer against/around her neck.

Because that airship in Stardust is gorgeous.🙂 And a snippet of editing.

Yesterday, I started talking about National Novel Writing Month and its impact on my life – which, in summary, has been substantial, from spurring me to start my first proper novel (as opposed to a ‘novel’ I wrote when I was thirteen that was half the length it ought to have been, industry-standard) to helping me edit and put together what I think has been more significant and elegant writing (but who really knows?).

As I said, it’s November now, and we are seven days into it.  Whilst many if not most of my writer friends are (or have done, in the case of Cait G Drews ) already deep in their plans and their novels and their progress, if I had planned to write for NaNo, I would be seven days behind.

As it is, I have not considered it.

I might have done, might have said to myself what is necessary for me to write a novel or a project this November? Instead, however, it didn’t even cross my mind that I might. Why? Because – as I related in the previous installment – two out of my three NaNo achievements were made during July’s CampNaNo. Ultimately, I’ve made myself associate November with study (in this year’s case: towards my Master’s degree) and July with being able to spread my wings creatively, so to speak, and write.

Nevertheless, with everyone around me gearing into writing mode, it does feel a bit strange not to be writing. Perhaps, even to the point of trying to inspire myself to ‘celebrate’ NaNo in some way, using it to my advantage somehow. With its goal-orientated system of even the smallest encouragement, how could it not be useful to a slow writer and procrastinator like myself?

I think setting myself a task over the course of November would be useful to my editing, to my writing in general, so that it doesn’t seep from my fingers. A paragraph or a page edited a day, instead of my ambitious (on average, my chapters are 2500 words long) goal of a chapter a day. That I only rarely complete.

But I don’t think it’s advantageous. Not to me. I can’t fault that some people with greater workloads than me can deal with university, or work, or a busy home-life, and still pump out 2000 words a day or something similar, but I can’t. I tried. Even when I was a first year, and I did have the social and mental ability and disregard for my studies to stay awake until 3am, I didn’t have the drive then. Now, I have the drive and the want to work and succeed, but I’ve lost the want to stay up after 12 midnight, not least because it’s not good for my mental health the following day.

I admire those who have the ability to make those distinctions and sacrifices for their writing (as well as keeping a healthy reading and blogging schedule, too). It’s not me. I can’t do it. And I have to bow to the fact that, for me, it’s not possible. Maybe next November, yes (not July, as I will be in the middle of my dissertation then), but not this November.

I won’t be setting myself any goals – no matter how I want to – simply because I know I cannot consistently keep to them with my life as changing and in-flux as it currently is.

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On the other hand, that doesn’t mean I don’t still hold those who do NaNo in the highest respect. Go them! To write a deal of a novel alone in a month is an achievement that we must not dismiss.

I will just keep thinking to myself – maybe next year. Maybe.

Cover Reveal for RULES FOR THIEVES by Alexandra Ott

I am excited to share the cover reveal for RULES FOR THIEVES, the debut Middle Grade novel by Alexandra Ott. I interviewed her on this blog a little bit back. Did I mention that I am incredibly hyped for this novel, and you should be too? Not that I’m biased by her being my Critique Partner or anything.

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Here is the shiny shiny cover in all its bazaar (no pun intended!😉 ) beauty. I love how it doesn’t give anything away, and yet emphasises the scenery and the fantasy of the novel. And of course, that pendant. So focal. If I’m honest, (being a non-MG writer) I’m rather jealous of MG cover designs at the moment. MG covers are rocking the market!

Interested? It’s a great book. See the rest of the cover reveal over at Middle Grade Minded.

Ten Questions With…Alexandra Ott

Today, I welcome a special guest to my blog: author, Alexandra Ott, who is a member of the Swanky Seventeens group of authors whose debut books are releasing in 2017. Not only that, but Alex is one of my closest Critique Partners, so I am delighted to be chatting to her about her MG Fantasy, RULES FOR THIEVES, a book I had not only the pleasure of reading, but also helping to name!

Rules for Thieves temp cover

Coming Summer 2017 from Aladdin (Simon & Schuster)

Twelve-year-old orphan Alli tries to join a legendary band of thieves in order to get the cure for the curse that’s killing her.

  1. Tell us a little about your journey to your publishing deal.

I first wrote Rules for Thieves in the summer of 2012. Revising it took a while because I was in school at the time, but I finally started querying in late 2013. I spent 2014 revising and querying some more. In early 2015, I signed with my agent and went out on submission. We received an offer from Aladdin in the summer of 2015, about three years after I wrote the first draft!

  1. What was the on-submission time like for you?

It actually went by much faster than I thought it would! I knew that the submission process could take a year or more, so I wasn’t expecting to receive an offer so quickly. When my agent first told me there was an offer, I almost didn’t believe it.

  1. What inspired or led you to start writing the plot of RULES FOR THIEVES?

I was inspired by the kinds of stories I loved as a kid. I always really liked heist novels and fantasy books, and I also loved to invent adventure stories and games that I played with my sister. All of those things came together to become Rules for Thieves, which is really an attempt at writing a book I would have loved to read when I was younger.

  1. Has the novel changed much between your first draft and this current draft?

Yes, quite a bit. The first draft was much shorter, and several crucial elements of the book didn’t exist yet. Much of my revision process has been developing and deepening that initial story. I’ve added more than 15,000 words between the first draft and the current one.

  1. What has been the toughest part of writing RULES FOR THIEVES?

The revision process has been a long one, and there were definitely times when I was so tired of reading it again and again that I just wanted to stop working on it. But there was something about this story and these characters that compelled me to keep working—that, and the encouragement of my awesome critique partners.😉

  1. What is your favourite part of main character, Alli’s personality? Do you think she is like you?

I love how smart and funny Alli is. On the surface, she isn’t much like me at all. She’s snarky, outspoken, impulsive, and daring—all of which I love about her, but none of which is very much like me. But we do have a few things in common, namely impatience and stubbornness!

  1. Why did you decide on a duology, rather than the more common trilogy and stand alones?

I knew early on that it was going to be a series, but I didn’t know how long it was going to be. Eventually, I realized that two books would be the best fit for the story arcs that I have in mind—three books would be stretching the story too thin, and one wasn’t enough to give Alli the resolution that I wanted for her.

  1. Tell us one thing we can look forward to in the sequel.

There’s not much I can share without spoilers, but let’s just say there will be sinister plots and spies and characters who are more than they appear…

  1. Are you more drawn to writing YA or MG and why? RULES FOR THIEVES is MG, but I know you are also working on YA fiction.

I think I’m drawn to both categories equally. I love the sense of adventure and wonder that comes with MG, but I also love going a little older with YA. It’s nice to be able to take a break from one story and work on something that’s completely different. And I love writing both preteen and teenage protagonists—both ages are endlessly fascinating to me and have so much potential for storytelling.

  1. Is this your first novel, or are there some in drawers that you never want to see again?

I have two novel-length manuscripts in drawers, plus some shorter fiction. They were really important manuscripts that taught me how to write, but they’re not ever going to see the light of day!

Hehe, I know the feeling! Thanks for joining me, Alex, and I can’t wait to get my paws on a copy of the finished product!

Interested in learning more about RULES FOR THIEVES or Alex? Check out her updates on social media:

About the Author

Alexandra Ott writes middle grade and young adult fiction. Her debut middle grade fantasy novel Rules for Thieves will be published by Aladdin/S&S in summer 2017.

Alex graduated from the University of Tulsa, where she studied English. She is currently an editorial intern at Entangled Publishing. In her spare time, she plays the flute, eats a lot of chocolate, and reads just about everything. She lives in Oklahoma with her tiny canine overlord. She is repped by Victoria Doherty Munro of Writers House.

Website

Twitter

Facebook

The Swanky Seventeens

Beautiful People: The Resolutions Edition

Hello, blogosphere.🙂 Today, I’m linking up with Cait and Sky’s beautiful monthly linkup Beautiful People. And this month it’s about the authors – new year, new goals (supposedly). So I guess that makes me a Beautiful Person.

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  1. What were your writing achievements last year?

I culled and rewrote so many darhlings… I got some industry interest in my novel. I gave two talks to my creative writing group: one about blogging – the other about tradition publishing and querying. I wrote a 16,000-word short contemporary romance. I wrote about 6,000 words of a Steampunk novella. I wrote about 45,000 words and completed a Steampunk novella for Camp NaNo July, then edited some of it.

I did a lot of research.

  1. Tell us about your top priority writing project for this year.

Editing, I think. Editing my novel. Editing my novella. Doing some subbing. Tell you? Okay, the premise of my novella, codenamed ASB303:

It’s 1870 and Lady Summer is two months away from completing her MA dissertation study of a brain, kept animated by a jar of its neural fluid. When she stumbles upon an activating tesla MRI machine during some of her night-research, however, Summer is shocked to find her brain hooked up to it. And worse—the monster that forms from it, threatening to destroy the Psychobiology department’s reputation, the lives of the many university students in campus over autumn, and Summer’s precious brain dissertation.

  1. List 5 areas you’d like to work the hardest to improve this year.

Spend more focused editing time. Listen to more science TED talks/podcasts instead of watching YouTube. Stick to, and be inspired by, a motivational star-chart. Work on more compelling character motivations in scenes, chapters, and arcs. Work on improving first- and early-draft pacing.

  1. Are you participating in any writing challenges?

I’ll do Camp NaNoWriMo in July like I do every year, but I don’t have a specific plan just yet. I have several book ideas, but I’m not pushing them out into the open until I actually have time to write. So I’m not sure which yet I’m going to focus on, whether novel or novella, fantasy or contemporary.

  1. What’s your critique partner/beta reader situation like and do you have plans to expand this year?

I always have plans to expand, but, when it comes to Critique Partners, my eyes are bigger than my stomach. That is, I took on two new Critique Partners last year and managed to crit some of their stuff without editing my own to send to them; and vice versa. Adding to that, that I neglected my first CP (who got a two-book deal last year!), I’ve decided that I can’t take on any others without neglecting one (or more) arm of what I already have.

  1. Do you have plans to read any writer-related books this year? Or are there specific books you want to read for research?

No, I don’t yet have any plans to read any writing/skill books. I’ve got a couple of Linguistics books and articles to read for uni research, as I will have expectantly for the next three months alongside my textbooks.

  1. Pick one character you want to get to know better, and how are you going to achieve this?

I’d love to learn more about the MC of my novel’s family, Mr. and Mrs. Masters and their two elder daughters and son. I’ve extensively explored the family history of my other MC/the love interest, but this is because the Costellos’ money makes them more inclined to scandal and foul behaviour. Their morals are twisted by societal success and boasting. Plus, they are more crooked by nature than the Masters who are only seeking to elevate their daughters into better society. The irony!

How do I plan to go about it? Vignettes and scenes. And quite a bit of daydreaming. That always works.

  1. Do you plan to edit or query, and what’s your plan of attack?

I am currently editing my main novel and going through the rounds with it already, and, although I don’t expect to get my quota in every month with my uni expectations, I hope to continue working on it with similar rhythm. On the other hand, I have a little pile of books waiting to be edited – my YA contemporary murder mystery; my Steampunk novella (which is chapter-by-chapter slowly going through my Beta).

  1. Toni Morrison once said, “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”  What are the books that you want to see more of, and what “holes” do you think need filling in the literary world?

Ooh, difficult question. Love that quote, though. I guess I’d like to see more unusual/fantasy university-set fiction. I mean, I’m biased because the aforementioned Steampunk novella is a fantasy set in a fictitious English university town, cogs and all. I have no objection to the boarding school novel, but we always see those, with their narrow halls and fixed staff-set, and we rarely see the insides of universities, where it takes one 30 minutes to get from lecture to lecture and one gets lost in a single building. Or only for contemporary romance.

  1. What do you hope to have achieved by the end of 2016?

It’s really difficult to say at this stage. Well, no, it’s not, but few of my current wishlist achievements are writing/work related: graduate with a good grade, get healthy, spend a good summer with my darling partner, start post-graduate plans – whatever they end up being. Oh, and write something, read more, and get an agent.

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A motivational star-chart (example from November).

That’s me done, then. Now I’m off to read some others in the linky. *waves and skips off*

Beautiful People: The Lady of The House

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As I am busy polishing WTCB, my May Beautiful People (hosted by the effervescent Cait and Sky) is focused thusly. Today, we take a look back in time to pre-Phillip era when Octavia Costello was still young and bright. As I intend to write Zara, in her LSOT exploits, travelling back to the early days of her great-grandmother, it’s an apt choice today.

“I refuse to believe that my son is mad. I do not believe that those involved in so-called ‘inbreeding’ give birth to mad children.” Mrs. Costello slammed down her fork. “I feel sick. Excuse me.”

(Mrs. Costello is a minor character in the first book, especially after I removed one of her scenes from an earlier draft, but I happened to be editing the scene she’s in this week, and this kind of quote sums her up.)

I quite like this image of actress Julie Graham that sums up Mrs. O Costello’s primness

 

 

1. Do they get nightmares? If so, why or what of?

Funnily enough, this first question is apt to Mrs. C, as her nightmares play a part in the plot of LSOT and the future of Phillip and Peter. In fact, nightmares play a recurrent theme in the tales of Costello (which I really feel should be capitalised :P). As to what she has her nightmares of a bit of a spoiler, but I will say that they link to Peter’s psychic ability to see between timelines – as that is a genetic gift, as Zara points out.

2. What is their biggest guilty pleasure/secret shame?

Immediately springs to mind, actually, is chocolate – which is likely, seeing as chocolate is a commodity until about the Iuanian Era – the Dieselpunk era of one of Octavia’s great-grandsons, who campaigns for peace by exploring The Second Continent. One day I’ll write the novella.

Anyway…Octavia gets a lot of pleasure from her food, and because she has a quick metabolism, she doesn’t put on weight if she eats a lot. Another guilty pleasure of hers is spending the Costello money on material things like her plush carpet and multiple cushions in her bedroom.

What are you going to do? xD

3. Are they easily persuaded or do they need more proof?

Mrs. Costello is as stubborn as a mule, and not usually persuaded, especially by those of the lower-class. Although she often bows to her husband’s word – after all, he saved her from the life of the orphaned spinster and she is lovingly grateful – she tries to influence his decisions concerning their six sons and the finance. She wants to run the house as she is meant to and has grown up to expect.

4. Do they suffer from any phobias? Does it affect their life in a big way?

No, Mrs. C doesn’t suffer from any phobias, particularly not in her early life when she was a social butterfly as a young wife, though she does become more withdrawn as her boys grow up. Nobody ever knows if this is an agoraphobia, or just senility.

5. What do they consider their “Achilles heel”?

Possibly just as much as it is her advantage, Mrs. Costello’s magpie love of shiny things has been her downfall in recent years. She has begun to rely on the polished nature (both literally and metaphorically) of the Costello household to keep her feeling calm and content. When the men return from war in 2015 and relationships begin to corrode in the lesser timeline, Octavia does not know how to handle herself.

6. How do they handle a crisis?

With sharp tongues and calculating minds. She is her husband/cousin’s wife/cousin to a T; and she has a Costello, problem-focused coping approach to working things out.

7. Do they have a temper?

A mother’s temper at least. But Octavia can be sharp towards her husband and her sons because she loves them. So, yes, a temper, but not an unruly one (like Aidelle) or an unjustified one. When she was younger, like before she turned thirteen, she was actually quite meek.

8. What are their core values and/or religious beliefs?

As religion no longer exists in most families in the Continent (not looking at you, Lysander Archer*), the Costellos have no beliefs, but in terms of values: Octavia counts family as one of her core values – keeping-up appearances, making sure everyone she cares about is happy. She would stand up for Costello as a House, but also each individual, even if they have shamed the name a bit.

9. What things do they value most in life?

A plainer life for young Mrs. C…

Again: family. But also having a good time – at least, she did when she was younger. Octavia does love a good celebration, especially if it involves her getting gifts. She also values the arts, though she wouldn’t say as much to Dr. Costello. Material needs aside, Octavia has no skill at painting – mainly because she has never been trained – but she has an artist’s eye, and can pick out colours and shapes from paintings**.

10. What is one major event that helped shape who they are?

Ooh, one major event. Those are difficult. I’d say probably her marriage, since she was too young to remember her mother dying in childbirth to a stillborn boy or her father being committed to life alone in the countryside (think Bedlam for a place which doesn’t associate or recognise Bedlam).

Octavia’s marriage not only opened her future to the possibly of a good name and food on her table and ladies’ maids for her hair, but also allowed her see what love and trust is like. Percival Costello cares very much for his wife, even when he dismisses her, so despite never having met before their betrothal, they are of the same kind of mind that bounces off each other. I do love that.

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*This is a running gag, as I’ve used The Death of Hyacinthos painting by Jean Broc (above) to portray Lysander and Rion’s relationship, and Lysander’s family have busts of Greek gods like Hyacinth around their house.

**I’d be more specific, but neither have I been trained in the physical arts!

Thanks for listening to my blathering about a minor character in my trilogy (!). Check out the rest of the blog-hop at Cait’s or Sky’s places.

Beautiful Books: Writing UTC

It’s time for me to report how writing is going via the Beautiful Books link-up, hosted by Cait and Sky. Remember, I’m not doing NaNoWriMo, so this is totally from the perspective of writing a novel as a slow, steady (and edited! :P) process – and also because of my studies, I have barely time to write 1K a week. You can see my thoughts on plotting Under the Carrington in last month’s Beautiful Books.

Be honest: how is your writing going?

Not well. I’ve been so bogged down with academic work that I barely have time to think about my writing, let alone access the ports that allow freely done prose. Easy to see why I never do November WriMo.

What’s your first sentence/paragraph?

The world hazed, hummed and wobbled, and Jess let out a giggle.

“What is this? I love it. More!”

“What? No. God, you’re hardly good taste.”

A shape swerved into the girl behind the bar. She had blue hair and, as Jess had come to learn during the night, a dry wit.

The girl rolled her eyes. “It’s a Snakebite. Blackcurrant syrup, cider, beer.”

“Simple,” Jess found herself chirruping. Her hand had gestured into the air before she’d really thought about doing so.

Something endearing came from being a stranger amongst the many faces of people who’d been here for years; Jess wore the term ‘Fresher’ like she wore the Wellington Freshers royal blue t-shirt.

Do you have a book cover, and/or pictures that reflect your book?

I have a concept for a book cover, which is based on one of my favourite/pivotal scenes in the book – plus, it’s got that cutesy stereotype of the couple almost kissing on the front cover. Yeah, that cutesy appeal. Here are some other pictures that provide visual inspiration:

Carrington building hypothetically

Carrington building hypothetically

Lincoln College [Oxford] could look like Wellington College

What is it with yellow umbrellas? I ought change mine…

 

Do you have pictures of each of your characters? If not, describe them for us! (Be as descriptive as you can.)

Thinking about it, Laurie kind of looks like Darren Criss. Yeahhh, Blaine Potter😉

I’m not sure what Jess looks like. I don’t really like writing brown-haired people because I have trouble varying my descriptions. Aidelle had the archetypal chocolate or mud brown, which is a lot richer than any of the other brown-haired people I’ve written. I may sound silly that I don’t have much more than brown-hair-blue-grey-eyes, but I don’t think I need to. Jess isn’t exceptionally pretty, nor is she exceptionally not-pretty. This is one Google-image that could represent her.

And, before you crow, whilst the Main Characters are white, there are a few People of Colour amongst their friends. For starters, I have a girl of Indian descent who is a lesbian. That counts for two, right? (I’m kidding!)

What scene are you most excited to write?

You know what? I really just can’t wait ’til the Christmas holidays when I can just write without worrying that I’m causing myself to fail by doing my craft. I’m staying with my corridor for an extra week after lectures finish (for starters – I’m paying for that bedroom; I might as well make use of the space), so I’ll hopefully be able to crank out some serious K. I’ve got the bare bones of a few crucial scenes down, so I’m excited to be filling them out, particularly ones like Laurie being all corridor-rep and arrogant and Jess sneaking out to meet one of her art society friends.

Share a snippet or a scene that you really enjoyed writing.

I do this weekly in my weekly summary with other Catholics, so I don’t want to repeat myself, but I’ll add a bit more of the caving scene, where Jess and Laurie discuss alternate history as they scale into a cave somewhere in Cheddar (probably. Details to come when I can be bothered to research. And not cheese, you non-UK people, Cheddar, the town in Somerset, England.) This is also one of the pivotal scenes in the non-romance side of the plot, as Laurie is about to make a suggestion that his mother help Jess’ father with his failing business.

Below, Jess fumbled about, her coat ruffling in the cavern’s stillness. The cold stench of green mould and saturated porous faces wafted over him, dousing what remained of his initial fear. 

“Do you think we would still exist, if the world had ended up different, like a parallel-universe thing?” she asked.

Her torch clicked and its beam illustrated their dangle to the cavern floor. One clue-pack was concealed in the midst of a clump of rocks, visible only from the top.

Laurie concentrated on the solid ground, and began threading his ropes through thumb-and-finger grip.

“Yeah,” he said. “I believe we will always have come into being because of fate and social history. The actions change, but the figures remain the same.”

Her boots clinked onto the rocky ground.

“How philosophical. What about genealogy?”

Of course. He was assuming the worldview of the successful. But Jess’ father might be out of business – further – in an ulterior universe with no history.

Now that you’re writing, have any of the plot details, or the process itself, turned out different from what you planned or imagined?

The process is a lot slower than I thought it would be, but then I’m not one of those who plans step-by-step. I have an outline and I know where I’m going, but restrictions mean that I can’t write as fluidly as I’d like. Most of the plot is as much as I intend, though I’m still fumbling through who emotes what and when, and where they kiss.

Is there a character or aspect of your plot that’s difficult to write?

Yes. Similar to what I said above. My massive issue (apart from not having the time to write) is getting things to fall in the right place. Because the story is set over the course of an academic year, eight months or so, I have to make sure the chemistry has the right patterns at the right places to make the story realistic and not rushed.

What’s your favourite aspect of this novel so far? Favourite character?

I’m probably gonna hate this later, but one of my favourite aspects of the novel so far is its contemporariness – how usual it feels, and the fact I don’t have to ponder whether a certain act would be something the character would do in reflection of their society. Much.

Have you drawn off of any life experiences or people you know to create your novel and your characters?

Yes, definitely. For starters, seeing as I came up with the concept at the end of my first year of uni, which Jess is starting. I just wanted a New Adult piece that reflects life and the more humble versions of what being in uni is like, rather than the glamorised, sex-booze-money appearance a lot of NA emits. Of course, I couldn’t help a lot of the side-characters having traits like those of people I know, but I’m waiting for the second draft to weed those out. I just want to get this first draft done.

Other life experiences referenced include being an active member of several odd societies, both creative and sporty; trekking to campus and back every day; and stumbling, exhausted, back to my room after a ridiculous night out. Sadly, I never had a roommate like Jess and Meg.

Do you have a playlist or certain song for your novel and/or characters?

I don’t really write to music, especially modern music, so no. Playlists tend to spawn during editing or when I finished the book, because then I start seeing the themes and the patterns.

Let’s have some fun for a moment: imagine you are somehow transported into your book’s world. Which character are you most likely to be found hanging out with?

Despite how uptight Laurie is, he’s actually a pretty relaxed guy when he wants to be – and he has the right amount of sensibility and sprightliness for me to get on with. (It’s always the guys, isn’t it? IRL, I think I prefer the company of men. Oh, shush, you know I didn’t mean that like that.)

I think Ceri and Meg would drive me mad with their constant extroverted energy, and I’d be massively intimidated by Nicola and Russell, who are both at-least-semi-successful graduates. I think I’d probably get along with Jess, to be honest, but we have one of those slow-to-generate friendships because we both wouldn’t have the courage to talk to one another for ages.

How do you keep yourself motivated to finish your daily wordcount? (Pinterest? Internet breaks? Chocolate?)

Bribery with steampunk music. (Well, that’s what I’ve been doing with my essays.) Aside from the fact that I don’t have a daily wordcount, self-worth and self-yay keep me going.

What is your favourite writing quote or piece of writing advice?

A lot of people say that going through the first draft and not editing at all is the best way to progress through, but I can’t do that. I do automatically edit as I type – I leave things in colour as I move on, even when I’m zooming through a first draft.

My favourite piece of writing advice? Relax. Take writing as it comes and not force it. It’s important for writers to work at their own pace sometimes, but it’s also important for books to be written at their own paces.

How does this book make you feel so far? Are you laughing? Crying? Frustrated?

At the moment, I guess frustrated is the word. I just end up starting a piece but not having the time to add more to it. I keep getting pulled off track, and despite having a few chapters that are actually chapters, I’ve not been sticking to the chronology. In terms of the plot, that is pretty frustrating, too. Whilst Laurie’s strict adherence to his self-professed rules and regulations irritates me as a reader, I also have moments where I glare at Jess for being too ostensive and eccentric. She has moments of calm, but she also has frustrating moments where she feels entitled to a world she hasn’t yet worked for.

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Sad to think I took this photo almost a year ago.

 

That’s it for now.🙂 Hope you enjoyed this month’s detailing of what I’ve been working on. Do check out the rest of the link-up. I, sadly, have very little time to, but I know it’s been packed with NaNo-ers and their projects.

Quick Takes About An Away Game of Quidditch, Taize Prayer, and Collating Data

Sometimes, nothing much needs to be said about one’s week, and that’s why conversiondiary’s Quick Takes is so useful.

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Did I mention the Reading Rocs team went to a Quidditch tournament? Oh, I didn’t? Here, have a picture of me Chasing at the Southern Cup (photo by the Southampton team photographer).

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This week has been an unusual one, where anticipation for its end has left me asking why the time is moving so slowly, as opposed to so quickly as per my usual stance. Tonight is the launch party of the university magazine The New Frontier, for whom I do the occasional writing about [creative] writing.

The New Frontier

~3~

What have I even being doing this week, though? Less busy than last week, by dint of not having [immediate] deadlines, and I had the chance to briefly write (see point 7, as per the organised norm), but I’ve also been working (and have finished doing so, thanks to creating an excel sheet. *wipes brow*) on collating the data for my Autumn term mini project, on temporal discounting. I’ve still got a long way to go, though, as I start my report.

~4~

On Wednesday evening, we had a Taize evening of prayer, a very interesting experience, despite that I prefer traditionalism in hymns and praise. Taize prayer involves ecumenical meditative chant versions of hymns, silence, and experiencing God and the Spirit through being contemplative with others. It was very metaphysically cleansing.

A photo I took in the summer of a Mother and Child tapestry in a church

A photo I took in the summer of a Mother and Child tapestry in a church

~5~

Speaking of singing, my two choirs continue. The Duke Ellington jazz never fails to amuse me, but I’ve also had to concentrate on Christmas carols with the Chamber Choir; we’re singing in a lunchtime concert for the students in a couple of weeks, so that’s become my practising priority. I still feel rather out-of-joint for singing carols before December!

~6~

Editing and writing. I’ve done a bit this week. Editing has been somewhat productive; I received mostly positive comments from my CP, which is, in a way, worries me (doesn’t everything! ^_^). For if one cannot improve… Conversely, the main issues I have to deal with are the chronology and direct laying out of Phillip’s active time-stream and Aidelle’s temporally-frozen wasteland, and making the taxicab shelter scene beginning a firmer setting.

I may have to enlist the steampunks with this one.

~7~

Your weekly extract. I wanted to work on scenes I already had the groundwork for. So…I had them talking in the caves, but I had to get them to the caves first. Fun. And I’ve learnt that Laurie suffers from pseudovertigo when faced with heights.

These extracts seem to be getting longer, don’t they? Sorry – I wanted to include a little of Jess and Laurie’s mid-climb conversation, where they discuss, effectively, steampunk, that is, the world if history had been different. As a student myself, I can confirm that our conversations do tend to float from the mundane to the academic regardless of what we are doing.

He said, “One wrong move from a visionary and we’re living in broken world of steam engines and AIs and golems.”

“Anachronisms,” she added.

Laurie shrugged. She had a point. “Maybe not.”

“Pass the rope.”

He did so, and the rope burned through his hands, like a passive fire. She looped it around the rock, tugged it tight, and zoomed down.

He peered over the cliff-face. She was a metre down, dangling, with a wonderful grin over her face.

His mouth twitched and the canvas of flesh ached open in a mimic of her smile.

“Comfortable?”

She shifted in the harness, one hand massaging her back. Quite a funny sight, indeed. “Not quite.”

The cavern yawed out below. He swallowed and blinked away the dizziness, and launched himself off the ledge.

For a second – blackness. Then Laurie prised opened his eyes. The cavern below did not hang in total darkness, but light rolled down the stalactites from the cracks in their path and amber veins in the surrounding columns. Behind him, a vista of afternoon light warmed the edges of his coat.

Beautiful.