Life, On Writing

the week of editing: a suffragist aboard

I need to finish this current draft of my novel by Sunday the 11th. I know. I’ve got a deadline. ‘Ness,’ I hear you say. ‘Are you ready for that deadline?’

I laugh at your question. I howl with laughter. September was such a busy month that I don’t think I had the umph to touch my novel. And here I am – a week to get it finished off.

Join me? (Or exit this right now because I’m taking you with me – whether you like it or not. So. There.)

SUNDAY THE 4TH – RESOLUTION

I give myself a talking to in the mirror. As per my Plot Spreadsheet, I delete three chapters of Act One. I suddenly realised I haven’t introduced the key concept of the novel. I do that. Poorly. It’s getting late and tomorrow is going to be … a complex day at work, so I need sleep. And also to squeeze in a bit of reading. (Priorities.)

one must always have breaks to enjoy the world around you – said the hypocrite who does this once a week at the MOST

MONDAY THE 5TH – AHHHH

I think that working from home makes the work/life boundaries blur a little – it’s hard to know when to stop and also to not feel guilty about it. (There’s always so much to do!) But I’m trying to learn. I do a bit of 7 Minute Chi to stretch out a little, have a cup of tea, play the recorder, paint my nails, check reddit and … okay, listen, sometimes a girl has to chill. And then, finally, I’m ready to get down to business to defeat … the Huns. It’s 8:47 pm. Let’s do this.

It’s 10:46 pm and it’s time for bed – I conquered an entire chapter which … is not the pace I need to set! If I were a creature right now, I’d be a snail. Tomorrow? I need to mash three chapters into one. And then hopefully the pace will pick up and Act One will be complete by Wednesday.

I LAUGH IN THE FACE OF FUTURE NESS.

TUESDAY THE 6TH – AHHHHHHH

I was a fool. Work was crushingly busy and I worked late and missed Bible study because of it. Then I played the violin. Then I had a mental breakdown in the kitchen. Just your usual Tuesday activities. No writing was done.

WEDNESDAY THE 7TH – AHHHHHH

No.

THURSDAY THE 8TH – HA.HA

No.

FRIDAY THE 9TH – …

No.

SATURDAY THE 10TH

Despite having a bit of a lie-in, I’ve tided my work space and am ready. Candles are flickering, my nature sound app is chirping out bird songs, and some soothing music plays. I’ve got blocking apps on my computer and phone to take away temptation to browse mindlessly.

It is time. The aim is not to have a completely polished draft – that isn’t going to happen over a weekend, no – the aim is to make sure that the story is legible. All three acts go into one word document. I attempt to crack my knuckles. I fail. It’s 12:00 and it’s on.

It’s 18:52 and I feel as though I am hitting my groove. I’ve no idea how far I’ve got to go but I have tea and a fresh candle. I have had breaks to:

  • make popcorn
  • do a spot of cleaning
  • watch youtube videos
  • browse the ‘net
  • etc

But using blockers on my phone and internet is really useful for cutting out distractions. I work late into the night; determined to reach Chapter 28; I can do the rest tomorrow. I have to. It’s the deadline after all.

candles add atmosphere and soothe also – if any thief comes into your house, you can always toss one at them. effective? no. but will it make you feel better? OBVIOUSLY.

SUNDAY THE 11TH – THIS IS IT, WE ARE IN THE ENDGAME NOW

It’s 12:07 – music on, tea made, candle burning. This is it. I have to get this finished today and not into the wee hours of the morning; I have to go into the office tomorrow and that means driving early. Ain’t nobody got time for sleep-deprivation in this scenario.

So let’s get crackin’.

It’s all done. It’s finished. It’s sent off. I haven’t cried in relief, nor was it sent super late. I am rather impressed with myself; I’m always pleasantly surprised when I actually achieve something. And I did it. Life is glorious. I can now leave this project until November, when Editing/Feedback Week will happen.

Being a discovery writer instead of a plotter is a little tricky but I suppose as long as the end result is a definite ‘HA I KNEW WHAT I WAS DOING ALL ALONG’ that is what’s matters. I’m low-key excited. Right now A Suffragist Abroad is not at all perfect but by George, I’m going to make it so. Or at least, I’m going to make it so I’m happy with it.

Also: there’s slow-burn romance and unicorns and a Wizard and stoic scribe and a monster. It’s inspired by:

  • Norse mythology (though you’d never know)
  • Portal fiction
  • Unicorns
  • A daydream I had whilst in a Moldovan church
  • Suffragists
  • Medusa
  • And so on …

It’s zany and it’s weird but I had fun. So there we are! Watch this space, world! Something might be coming from it.

Life

reading books, writing books, and buying fish, and so on and so forth

I haven’t completely dropped offline, but my blog has been sadly neglected. Here’s some of the devious things I’ve been up to …

REREAD THE AMELIA PEABODY SERIES

It took six months – but it was six months of reading pleasure. More on this later, but let me tell you it was wonderful. (Also, read it in publishing order not chronological because by George … no, I shall save that little rant for later.)

In short, there isn’t a series I’ve read that surpasses this one.

BOUGHT BOOKS, READ BOOKS, STARED AT BOOKS

The book ban feels like quite a while ago, but I must say that my bookshelves are looking terribly interesting; there are some books that I’ll be soon reading about Georgian Britain and the Victorian era that just look so brilliant, I can’t wait!

(Also I’m currently reading ‘How To Be A Victorian’ by Ruth Goodman and DID YOU KNOW THAT THE VICTORIANS GAVE THEIR BABIES OPIUM???!!! HOLY CHEESE CRACKERS, MY DUDES!)

Also a book about Alexander Dumas?! I’m eying up the Count Of Monte Cristo too.

Still haven’t finished a Dickens. I’ll get there. Eventually. Probably. Yup. ‘fo sure.

FINISHED WRITING A BOOK

Originally given the dignified working title of ‘Unicorn Poop’, these days it is called A Suffragist Abroad and will be coming your way next year. As long as I can get past this editing stage, that is.

Lord willin’, a friend and I will be having a writer’s retreat in a little cottage on the coast in November where A Suffragist Abroad’s edits will be completed. While, I’m there, do I expect to:

  1. solve a crime
  2. walk through mist-laden countryside in a nightgown and cloak
  3. stumble upon an ancient mystery that’s been hidden for centuries

… yes. Yes, I do.

BOUGHT A FISH TANK. ALSO: FISH

This is still quite recent. The tank is called ‘Abbey Road‘ and John, Paul, and George have been recently introduced to it. I’m sure it will go swimmingly. (No. No apologies will be made for this pun. NONE.) But I’m also terrified that I’ll wake up and find them all dead and floating on the top and oh my word what have I done- AGONY!!! BEYOND POWER OF SPEECH!

ETC.

Life doesn’t feel as though it is wildly adventurous, but there is more than enough to keep me busy and I find it hard sometimes to carve out the time for dedicated reading sessions – but that’s okay too. There are books lounging in every corner of my room and all of them are interesting.

(I sometimes feel bewildered by the sheer amount of choice I have – which is admittedly a very privileged position to have.)

I’m trying to learn that it’s alright to not live up to my own expectations (which I never reach and are always far, far too high), it’s alright to plod, it’s alright to take things slow – just … just keep going.

I hope you are doing well – thank you for stopping by!

happy reading ūüôā

I think I just rambled, Life

things that didn’t happen on my adventure

I think I did something wrong on my last adventure. According to my¬†extensive¬†research, I should have, at the very¬†least,¬†stumbled across a puzzle which would have led to a treasure map which would, in turn, have led me to El Dorado. This … did not happen.

THERE WERE NO DEAD BODIES

I’m not really going to complain about this, though my readings in the world of Elizabeth Peters, Agatha Christie, and Dorothy L Sayers led me to conclude that it was an inevitable fact of life:

  • Gravity: what goes up must come down.
  • Life: you live, you find a dead body, you solve a murder mystery.

Nope. Didn’t happen.

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I saw a dead groundhog though. It was on a road. The poor thing was squished. The butler probably did it.

THERE WAS NO WHISKING OFF INTO ANOTHER DIMENSION

There was no Narnia hidden in a wardrobe. Or even a kitchen cupboard. To be honest, Canada had quite enough snow to make you think ‘oh my gosh someone kill the evil witch already IT’S SO COLD’ but alas, there were no furniture gateways into other worlds.

This would probably be a good thing. In stories, what you’re supposed to do sort of falls into your lap.¬†In actual reality, you’d probably end up working as a maid in a tavern while the prince you were supposed to save was slain by the evil tyrant you were supposed to defeat.

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THERE WAS NO ROMANTIC SUB-PLOT

There was no pirate, lumberjack, detective, prince, villain-waiting-to-be-saved-by-the-love-of-a-good-woman, tormented artist, time traveler, or dinosaur trainer to sweep me off my feet.

I know.

Life is tough.

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I started to develop the sneaking suspicion that book heroes (*cough* clich√©s *cough*) don’t actually translate well to real life. For a bookworm, this is a hard – nay, DEVASTATING – ¬†truth to face. This could mean that there are no Radcliff Emersons, Heyer leads, or Mr.¬†Rochesters about.

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But … that’s okay. It’s all okay – I didn’t solve a murder mystery. I didn’t fall into another world. I didn’t get swept off my feet by a brooding hero.

Some adventures are full to the bursting with startling events, and quick things that trip over themselves in their haste to happen (if it doesn’t rain, it pours).

… but some adventures are quiet, where no big earth-shattering events occur, but where subtle little things steal in unannounced, one after the other, building up and up and up until you look back and think yes, what an adventure that was.

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Life

mucking around on boats

I’m on holiday at the moment. After much agonising, I decided which books to take with me (a new-ish release, something of Heyer, and Mere Christianity) and which to leave behind (three other books. It hurt my soul).

At 1:32 in the morning, I jammed some clothes, a handful of odd socks and whatever miscellaneous I could find into a bag. I had priorities. My clothes were not priorities.

thewalkway

One does not think one’s best in the wee hours of the morning. In fact, a life rule of mine is: never think deep thoughts beyond 12:00 at night. I end up coming to the most depressing conclusions and become the single most gloomy hedgehog in the history of ever.

Consequently, as it was late and I’ve established that I don’t think well late at night (I can write, but I cannot think. It is most odd), I forgot to pack certain things.

Things I Tragically Forgot To Take With Me:

  • A blanket. I really could have done with one. (This is England. There is chill.)
  • Aristotle, my bunny. (One always should bring their bunny with them. The fact that I’ve never done it before is beside the point.)
  • Something pretty to put in my cabin.
  • A book by Georgette Heyer; I’m reading a book about her work, but I should have KNOWN this would make me want to read one of her books.

    mahcabin.JPG

My ambition this holiday is to finish A Crown of Wishes, Georgette Heyer’s Regency World, write a short story and go back to editing Insalted (I brought the manuscript with me. It is heavy. Very heavy.) If my ambition is as lofty as Everest, the reality will probably be as high as a molehill.

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Georgette Heyer’s Regency World is proving to be extremely interesting. For one who thought factual books weren’t her cup of tea, I actually quite enjoy them.

Why I Enjoy Factual Books:

  • They give the illusion that my brain cells are growing in intelligence
  • They intrigue me
  • I can now quote accurate facts. You can’t really say ‘oh, did you know that Lady Jane was actually a shapeshifter? And she survived and had a lovely life with her true love who was a shapeshifting horse?’ because you will receive Odd Looks and people will (for some reason) disagree with you mightily.
  • An example of what I’m learning: the Regency period is considered to be from 1780 to 1830. Oh, I’m going to be quoting that one. If I can remember it.

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happy reading!

OH AND DID YOU KNOW THAT THE REGENCY PERIOD WAS FROM 1730 TO 18SOMETHING?!!!

Books, Characters, On Writing

Beautiful Books – Destiny, Rewrites and Rotten Apples

PAPERFURYI’ve decided to join the Beautiful Books link up, hosted by Cait and Skye.

1. How did you come up with the idea for your novel, and how long have you had the idea?

Oh it was yonks ago. My youngest brother wanted a book written for him, about a man snatching bloody vengeance. I took the idea, chopped it into a trilogy, made the protagonist a pacifist and gave the first volume to my brother for his birthday. Believe it or not, I think he enjoyed it.

Since then, years have passed and now it is time to revisit and rewrite it.

2. Why are you excited to write this novel?

Because I’ll be revisiting and revamping the first book I ever truly finished. The characters – oh the characters! I love them to death and treat them rather horribly. Robert – the¬†protagonist – is rather battered, bruised and broken during the course of the tale, poor thing.

3. What is your novel about, and what is the title?

What’s it about? Like a house of falling cards, his life collapses about him. He seeks vengeance and finds an adventure ‚Äď one which will change the course of his life.

knightofdestiny
Yes, this is what it looked like. No, I have no regrets. Yes, it was worth it.  No, you may not laugh.

There are conquering kingdoms, near hangings, spies, missing princes, friendships – wonderful, glorious friendships – sword fights, plots and the ever-present storm cloud of potential death and dastardly danger.

And the title?

Very well, I’ll admit it: it was entitled Knight of Destiny, and the story I’ll be rewriting was called Knight of Destiny: Beginnings. It had burgeoning prose and somewhat overtly dramatic moments.

Now, for reference I’ve somewhat tongue in cheek called it: The Many Trials of a Blacksmith: Part 1. (Because Robert becomes a blacksmith and he has many trials. I know, I’m a genius.)

4. Sum up your characters in one word each.

Oof. That’s hard. Er … Robert: solid. Timothy: loyal. Custer: fierce.

5. Which characters do you think will be your favourite to write? Tell us about them!

Robert. Something awful happens to him in the beginning and his world is turned upside down. He has one thought: vengeance. As he grew up on a farm, he uses plenty of farming analogies which drives the people about him to distraction.

The Duke of Fordio – who is one of my favourite villains. I might change his name. It might be too poetic to be evil. Or perhaps it suits him. He’s evil but not for the sake of it, he has goals and woe betide any who get in his way – he will crush you with his booted foot and sip the finest wine whilst doing it.

6. What is your protagonist’s goal, and what stands in the way?

Robert wants vengeance. But soon he sees the bigger picture – why cut out a piece of a rotten apple when you can throw it away all together? Naturally, the government, the ruling nobility and the powerful army of his nation’s oppressors have a little to say about this.

7. Where is your novel set?

In the green land of Cade, in large cities and narrow alleyways, in dark inns and a blacksmith’s forge, in palaces and forests, in healer’s huts and along winding lanes.

research
It is my ambition to read/re-read all of these books before November. I might be a wee bit overambitious.

8. What is the most important relationship your character has?

At the beginning? His brother. Their parents have long since passed and Ethan has practically raised him BUT THEN … [dun dun dunnn]

9. How does your protagonist change by the end of the novel?

He is older, more mature, more weathered. The protective bubble of his boyhood has burst and at the end of this tale, he’s learned that the world is a bigger, harsher place then he ever realised. Also, he has finally accepted that he is awful at using a bow and arrow. Awful I tell you!

10. What themes are in your book? How do you want your readers to feel when the story is over?

Hmmm … triumphantly wistful?

11. BONUS! Tell us your 3 best pieces of advice for others trying to write a book in a month.

  • If you set boundaries in your mind and tell yourself you can’t get passed them – you won’t. So be positive. Disgustingly, sickeningly positive. It’s the only way.
  • Don’t be frightened or in awe of the story you are going to tell. They are just words and it is just a story and you can do it. You are a writer and therefore you write.
  • Take it one step, one hundred words at a time. You can do it.

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