The danger of standing back a little and letting the creative juices flow is that they are more of a torrent than a gently controlled stream. I’ve been trying to clear my desk of many other things to free more writing time. First and foremost, I want to focus on getting the current novel finished and published. Then I already had ideas for two further novels. However, in the two short weeks since I last wrote I’ve had idea for another novel, a humorous book and it’s been suggested I put together a collection of my own short stories. The latter is an odd one, as despite publishing collections for other authors it had not occurred to me to publish my own in that way.
On top of that, I want to write more short stories and bring The Appearance of Truth out as an audio book. Now I just need to keep control of the ideas and work on them in an orderly fashion so that at least something gets done.
From tomorrow my working pattern will change. Many of the loose ends are as tied up as they are going to be without a stronger ball of twine and the discipline needs to set in. I need to find a minimum of four hours for my own writing! So far I have edited 7900 words, I want to finish the first round of edits by early June – although that is probably ambitious. I’ll let you know how it goes!
Well I gave you a brief update on my novel on 12th April saying I had passed 70,000 words and would aim for 75,000 words by the end of the month. I’ve done better than that. Yesterday I wrote the immortal words ‘The End’ and put down my pen.
In the end the first draft came out at just over 77,000 words but I know in the edit there will be around another 5,000 to go in as there are a few loose ends to be tied up and storylines to be finished off, so all in all I’m pretty happy with where things have ended up.
I’ve already started on the first edit and hope to have a draft that I can send to beta readers by the end of May. That will also mean I have isolated any research issues I want to check in time for a happy day in New York Library. How else would a writer want to spend their holiday?
Well, my cast of characters have been busy. They have forged new directions where they saw fit and demanded a story line be rewritten. The good news is that by giving them licence to tell their story we’ve already passed 70,000 words and there’s a good chance that we’ll be at 75,000 by the end of the month. Given that I’m expecting the whole to be around 80,000 that means that the first draft is, at long last, getting close to completion.
Of course that’s not the end of the work, but if it isn’t written down in the first place, then there is nothing that can be edited.
Watch this space!
I was delighted to be interviewed by the website Virtual Book Club about some of my writing and in particular The Appearance of Truth. Better still was an email from a lady who went and bought the book as a result of the interview and read it cover to cover, unable to put it down. It’s things like that that make this the best job in the world.
If you’d like to read the interview you can find it HERE
This going public makes a big difference to the old self-discipline. I’ve ended the month on 64,000 words so all in all not a bad month. If I’m being honest, there was a bit of a flat patch and that chapter is going to need more editing than the others, but there is at least something to edit.
It has set me thinking about the whole question of ‘point of view’ in novels. Now if you are a reader and not a writer it is something you may not really think about. However, if the writer has worked closely with one particular character’s point of view and not others, you will feel closer to that character and feel you know them better. It is one of the things that novice writers can get badly wrong, hopping from head to head and leaving the reader feeling a) confused and b) not sure who they should be rooting for. If you are writing in the first person then it is obvious whose point of view you are working with, but if you are writing third person narrative then you need to decide how many characters’ points of view it is reasonable to give the reader.
Using more points of view does enable you to convey thoughts and feelings of characters other than the lead, but if you aren’t careful it gives them all equal weight and whose story is it? I’m reading a Robert Galbraith novel at the moment and it is interesting that the book does use multiple points of view as an effective way to keep the reader abreast of what is going on that they might not otherwise know. It is only really noticeable when the point of view characters are in a scene together.
So far, except for one very minor section where in writing it I could find no other way to convey what was needed, I have stuck to the points of view only of my three lead characters. However, another character has been arguing with me that her point of view is equally valid and would be beneficial to the story. Now I need to decide whether when I come to edit the book I should be stubborn and ignore her pleas or whether she has a point. I may also edit out the point of view that is the minor deliberate lapse that I referred to a moment ago.
Meanwhile back in America in what is now the 1860s Daniel is still in custody and things are not looking good!
What can I commit to for April? It’s a busy month with other work, but I don’t want to lose momentum. I shall set a daily target of 200 words, that should be easy enough. By the end of April I will aim to be at 70,000 words. You heard it here first. I’ll let you know mid-month how it’s going.
That’s what making a public commitment does to you. On the 3rd of March I promised to get moving on my novel and get to 60,000 words by the end of the month. Well I’m not quite there yet, but I am up to 59353. However, there are still another nine days to go so I’m updating my target to 62,000. That would leave only around 18,000 more to write to complete the first draft.
I’ve got an incentive. I have a trip to New York planned soon and I want to be in a position to go and check up on any final queries in the library there. I’m as excited about going to the library as my husband is that he is going up the Statue of Liberty – that’s my library day. These days most things can be found on line somewhere, but there is nothing like taking a real book in your hands. I recently bought a wonderful book ‘Images of Dowagiac’ with pictures of the old town that give me a first hand view of what the streets were like then. My writing has now moved on to Iowa City and I need to see if I can find a similar book covering that place too.
I’ll be back in just over a week to tell you where the month ended up.
There is progress since the last time I wrote, but not as much as there should be. Unfortunately, with a number of things life is getting in the way and I need to get my head down and keep writing.
The good news is that if I’m giving you an update it means I can see light at the end of the tunnel. The book does now stand at 50,685 words, an increase of about 2500 since I last told you but there is still a long way to go. There is only one thing for it. I’m going to have to make a promise. By the end of March I will be up to 60,000 words. Now, there, I’ve said it.
That means I need to write at least 333 words per day and more if I plan to have any days off. That shouldn’t be difficult. Alfie writes at least 300 words each day for his diary and if he can do it then surely I can. Don’t forget you can follow my progress on the MyBookProgress bar at the side of the website… and if I’m quiet towards the end of the month it may be that I’m writing twenty-four hours a day to catch up!
I have kept my word and it’s not even the end of January yet. I’ve written over 10,000 words in the last ten days and the novel now stands at 47,900 words. It has still got a long way to go, but the story is coming together and I’m reasonably pleased with what I’ve written. It will obviously need a lot of editing, but you can’t edit if you haven’t written it in the first place.
The characters have surprised me every once in a while, but that’s the beauty of bringing them to life. They develop their own thoughts and feelings and you can’t always predict how they will interact. How could I have guessed that Miss Ellie would decide to accompany Molly on her journey? I thought Molly was going to have to face it alone. I’m very grateful to Ellie as it’s so much easier to show what is going on and keep it lively and with emotion when you have at least two characters playing off each other.
I’ve been grateful that so much of the research material I need is now on line. The Library of Congress has some great maps of the American railroads at the time I need them and I’ve been able to see clearly how their journey would go. As I left them tonight, they were two days away from Dowagiac and Molly having the opportunity to be reunited with her brother after ten years. You might think the biggest problem would be the fact he has received his draft papers to join the American Civil War, but as it turns out, that’s the least of the problems!
Oh teasing you is such fun. You’re just going to have to wait until it’s finished. However, you might not have to wait until it’s published. I’d like to put together a small team of beta-readers to give me their thoughts before it gets that far. If you would like to join the team then please drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
There must come a point when it is too late to wish you a ‘Happy New Year’ and with more than half of January gone I’ve probably already passed that point, however Happy New Year to you all.
It has been a busy start to the year, although sadly with only a limited amount of novel writing being done so far. I have had a lot of activity on Alfie’s Diary, with product reviews, giveaways and awards announcing us in the top five dog blogs in the UK, but of course it’s the dogs who write that rather than me!
I’ve been clearing the decks so that I can concentrate on my novel. For a start I found myself losing a number of days to big computer changes, but now that they are done I’m losing less time to problems so it’s proving worthwhile.
Despite a somewhat unhealthy start to the year, I’m getting on top of things and am on target to have half of every day to concentrate on writing from 20th January to the end of the month. There are some things which then get in the way for a few days, but I should have at least 2 -3 hours a day on most days through February too.
You will notice a new panel on the side of the website called ‘My Book Progress’. Each day I will update my progress and you will be able to see that bar moving along. If it doesn’t then you have permission to email me and ask exactly what I’m doing with my time!
I will update you on progress more fully at the end of January, by which time I hope to be able to tell you I am 10,000 words further forward. They may of course not be the right words, but it will give me something to edit, which is a start.
A very Happy Christmas and New Year to all my readers.
This feels like more of an end of term report than my New Year’s Resolutions. ‘Must try harder’, ‘Would do better if she concentrated on one thing at once’, ‘Talks too much in class’ (for talks read spends too much time on Facebook!). However, what are resolutions borne out of, if not the need for change?
In the next year I want to achieve two main things. Firstly, the completion of my next novel – The Orphan Train. So far it is 40,000 words in and has been stuck there for a few months. Oh so I’ve been busy with Shadow’s puppies and the arrival of our own new puppy and of course Alfie Dog Fiction, but there is no excuse. Let’s be specific, by the end of January that needs to be at least 45,000 words. 5,000 words does not sound much, until I think about the fact I need to recap everything written to date to get back into the right voice for the book I’m supposed to be writing. Some writers can do that at the editing stage and believe getting words on the page in the first place is the most important. For me, that doesn’t work so well. Whilst the words on the page may not ultimately be the right ones, they do need to have the right feel to them.
Secondly, I want to record The Appearance of Truth as an audio book. Again, much of the work has been in preparation for a while – but there it stopped. I am resolving to complete the edits to the text, to make it read easily, by the end of January and begin recording in February. That is a lot easier than the novel as it is already in progress and the points which need editing have been highlighted on my Kindle version. The Kindle is much better to use for recording an audio book as you can turn the pages silently.
Should I stick at just the two? In terms of making sure I achieve them that would be wise, but I’ve rarely gone for the easy option. There is a short story that I have written for a forthcoming anthology that I had in mind making the basis for a novel. However, then I received a letter from a reader of one of my short stories saying ‘Have you thought of turning this into a novel? I want to know what happens next.’ I hadn’t thought about it, but when I sat down and did so I realised it would be rather fun. It’s a humorous story and I enjoy writing humour. The story concerned, ‘A Test of Friendship’ is available as free download HERE, feel free to send me your comments and just maybe you can influence the direction it takes in becoming a novel!
It’s been a busy time and that does include my writing, or at least ‘my dog’s writing’! Shadow’s puppies were born three weeks ago and Alfie has been reporting all the news at www.alfiedog.me.uk It’s no small commitment to blog twice daily, which when combined with sleep deprivation and taking care of tiny puppies means it is hard to fit everything else in. Now they are a little bigger time is become a little more available and I’m trying to catch up.
I have at last finished reading The Appearance of Truth out load as a practice read in preparation for recording it as an audio book. What have I learned? Despite much editing and proofreading prior to publication I have found a remarkable number of minor, niggling errors and for those I apologise. The good news is I will now do a complete edit ready for a relaunch when the audio version is ready.
I have also learned that it is not going to be easy for me to read something that contains so much emotion in places. Now I will need to find a way to get the balance between conveying that emotion in reading it and breaking down during the recording. I strongly suspect there will be a number of chapters which will take several ‘takes’ to record. There is a limit to just how much emotion it is practical to include in the voicing of the book. At a certain level the risk is the words cease to be able to be differentiated by the listener which would be most unhelpful.
I’ve also learned I need to do some more work on the voices and remember which character is which. I will do a short sample recording of each character so that I can check back as I go through to ensure they don’t morph into each other over time.
First off is to correct the text, which I shall hopefully start in the next day or two. In the meantime I hope you enjoy the gratuitous pictures of the puppies. They aren’t writing but you have to admit they are cute!
If it were alcohol you’d be sending me to get help, but it’s not. It still leads me to lose touch with reality, become distant from my family and become depressed if I have no opportunity to feed my addiction. If you are reading this you may share my problem. We don’t sit around in an old hall on wooden chairs and come out with lines like ‘Hello, I’m X and I’ve been on the wagon for three weeks.’ Instead we join Goodreads and say things like, ‘I only give this one two stars because the characters weren’t believable.’
I’ve known for years that I’ve had an addiction. I can’t walk past a bookshop without going in. I get bookcase envy almost anywhere that I see a row of books and own more Ikea Billy Bookcases than is reasonable for a human being to have. My mother and I have labelled ourselves as Bookaholics for years and if you search the Internet we are clearly not alone. However, even in my own family my problem is not fully understood.
This became painfully apparent when my father decided to THROW OUT some books! My mother did the responsible thing and immediately sent me a list of all the titles to see which I would want. It took willpower, but I didn’t just respond with, ‘All of them.’ Instead I carefully selected the ones I would like to read and having managed to eliminate one or two sent the list back. That’s when the problems started. My father assumed I must want to give them away elsewhere or sell them. My mother understood and reassured him that she was sure I’d want them for myself. He still found it hard to believe and it took some fairly emphatic explaining to convince him that of course I wanted to read a book about the Goons that I hadn’t got and various political memoirs (not written by the Goons), as well as some works of fiction. They will be carefully added to the pile, ready to feed my addiction at a moment’s notice.
In the meantime you’ll find me in America, or falling in love, identifying a murderer or back in 1840. If you need to rouse me, just remember it can take a while to bring me back to the real world and be gentle as who would with any other addict who needs your help.
Except… I’m happy to be addicted and I really don’t plan to stop anytime soon. My eyesight might be suffering and I would look at everyday objects as possible murder weapons, but I’m just fine. Now, what page was I on?
I’m currently giving away a copy of Pet Dogs Democratic Party Manifesto in a Goodreads Giveaway – see below for details:
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