Wednesday, 28 November 2012

The NEXT BIG THING blog hop

I was tagged to be a part of this meme by Reb Alexander at Witchway: A Writer's Journey to Publication, whose debut novel is called The Secrets of Life and Death and is going to be published next autumn. Her version appeared last Wednesday.

What is the title of your next book?
Well if by 'next' this means the one I intend to send to an agent in the hopes of representation, that would be Hide and See.  This is book 1, and I am currently in the process of writing book 2, as yet unnamed.

I also have another, unrelated book - Fall - which is near completion.

Where did the idea come from for the book?
I started Hide and See as part of an Advanced Fiction module for my MA.  I have no idea where the idea came from - all I remember is sitting there with a blank page, trying to think of something to write for one of the workshops.  It was raining outside, so I wrote that it was raining.  A young woman - Rhonda - appeared and her story just bloomed from nowhere.  I also remember trying
half-heartedly to not write fantasy but completely failing.

What genre does your book fall under?
Primary World Fantasy

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition? 

Hmm... I've never seen anyone who would be a perfect fit.  I suppose a younger, British version of Jeremy Renner might be good for Joel.  Although that could just be my obsession with The Avengers talking.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
Rhonda, a Seer, and Joel, an Empath, search for answers about their abilities and for other 'Specials' like them, all the while avoiding the Hunters who would capture and kill them; but are they safe with their own kind or are they in danger from both sides of this war?

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I would like to be represented by an agency but it does involve actually writing to some for this to be even a slight possibility.  And I will.  Promise.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
Around fourteen months, although not continuously as I had other university work to be done in that time, so there were a few months where I didn't look at it at all (usually coinciding with getting marks back for submissions...)

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Books from authors such as Kelley Armstrong, Ann Aguirre and Jaye Wells are in a similar genre.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I've had some fantastic encouragement from people on my course, particularly Reb Alexander and Natasha Liu-Thwaites.  Without their support, I'm not sure I ever would have finished book 1, let alone be writing book 2.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
I wanted to write a story set within our world with a fantasy twist - and have not a single vampire in sight.

It is at this pointing in the process that I should be tagging the next round of people to do this meme survey thingy - but alas, I know only one other writer with a writing blog and she's the one who tagged me.  I guess this branch of the blog hop ends here.

Monday, 26 November 2012

First half of the first draft

This evening, I finished Chapter 24.  The first draft, obviously.  I keep having to remind myself that it is only the first draft and that it doesn't matter if it's pretty bad.

Which this chapter is.  I know what I want to do with it but right now, it isn't working.  But instead of agonising over it and going through it again and again, I'm going to put it to bed and move on.  It's a difficult thing for me to do but I'm hoping that in later drafts, when I can view it in the context of the whole story, that a solution will come to light.

And hey, maybe it won't actually be as bad as I think.  I mean, it probably will be but I'm going for a little optimism here.

During this past week, I passed the 50k mark on this book.  Given that my novels tend to finish at a little over 100k, this means that I'm halfway through.  However, while I am at this point on word count, I'm not on chapters.  Which means that I've been waffling.  Not a huge surprise given that I am, in fact, me.  It does mean, however, that some rather extensive pruning is required.

I think it's time to go back to the plan.  My chapter plans aren't necessarily set in stone and can be changed during any of the drafts if I feel something really isn't working.  I've done it before without any great calamities rocking the fabric of time and space.  And while I don't feel that way in terms of the plot (at least in any major way) I do reckon there'll be some changes occurring this week.

There's a fair bit of exposition going on in this novel and I'm tempted to get rid of some of that, but I seem to recall that one criticism of parts of the first book during the MA was a lack of exposition.  It's all about getting the happy medium, I guess.

Monday, 19 November 2012

The other job

After a horrendously stressful day at work today, it was a relief to come home to my other job, the one I don't get paid for but which I might one day, if all the planets align correctly and I don't walk under any ladders or something.

This is how I've come to think of my writing: like it's a job.  I do it every day (thank you calendar with all your little crosses!) with the aim of it being something I might gain an income from at some point in the distance future.  You know, in a world where I actually get round to looking for agents.  Unfortunately on that front, the actual writing feels so much more appealing at the moment!

I'm now essentially in the middle of the story, that big old chunk sandwiched between the beginning and the end, and yet which is too big to really be only one section.  I should probably be more wary about losing pace but to be honest I'm more concerned with getting everything in within a reasonable word count.  Waffling has always been a bit of a thing.

Also, I'm trying to force myself not to get too caught up on every little detail.  I could easily spend ages agonising over the phrasing of just a couple of sentences but would then find that I'd not actually produced all that much.  It's useful to remind myself every so often that this is only the first draft and that all the agonising can be done later.  Something to look forward to and all that.

And I finished a book today: Ranger's Apprentice: The Burning Bridge by John Flanagan.  I'm fairly certain that it's aimed at teenage boys but they get a lot of good books and I'm not going to stop reading them just because I'm not one and never have been.  They're more than welcome to read all the bad Chick Lit which I'm supposed to like.  Fair trade?

Monday, 12 November 2012

Graduation: feelings and stuff

I had my MA graduation ceremony on Friday.  When asked how it went by various lovely people at work today, the adjective that most frequently came to mind was 'cold'.  Because it was, I was, and I had my trusty thermals, fluffy socks and a relatively thick cardigan.  All those girls in their tiny dresses and inappropriately high heels must have been freezing their proverbial knackers off.

I'm not saying that it wasn't moving, interesting, fun and a hundred other things, but I can't help the fact that my overriding impression was related to the temperature.  It's sort of hard to concentrate on anything much when you're that uncomfortable.  And I have a lifetime's worth of experience with being frickin' cold the entire time.  Hence the thermals.

But I did have a good time.  A day off work was obviously something to enjoy right off the bat, but I also got to see friends and have a nice lunch and walk around Winchester which was looking especially pretty: fiery autumn leaves and other such sentimental nonsense.

I did feel rather sad when it came to giving back the gown, though.  I know it's been over a year since I handed in my dissertation but it still felt rather final, returning the physical symbols of my graduation.  I'm not usually one to find such things emotional but there you go.

In writing news, I finished Chapter 20 this evening.  My don't-break-the-chain thingy is still working well and is making my writing feel much more purposeful again.  I have my calendar tacked to a bookcase next to my desk and there's a certain degree of satisfaction in looking at the rows of little blue crosses which shows my consistency.

Now cometh the task of searching for agents.  I really do intend to do it, I promise.  There just aren't enough hours in the day.

Monday, 5 November 2012

I'm an Idiot

As vowed in last week's blog post, I went to my local library in search of a writer's handbook/yearbook in which to find agents.  Alas, there wasn't one, either in the library or in any of the other ones nearby.  I left, wondering when I might find the time to go into Southampton to look in the library there.  I hate going into the city and my half-term break was practically over.

Fortunately, at that moment, I remembered that I actually work in a library and that maybe they have one there, what with all the books and everything.

Yes, I work in a library, in a college, and it took me a frighteningly stupid amount of time to connect this fact with my search for a library book.  I have no excuse, other than being a moron.

Today at work I had a spare moment to search the library catalogue and quickly found what I was looking for.  So now I have a copy of The Writers' and Artists' Yearbook to search through, although it is from 2007.  Nonetheless, that's a six-year improvement on my own copy.  Once my list is compiled (quickly eliminating all the many agents who don't accept fantasy) I'm sure I'll be able to check online to make sure they're still operating.

In other news, the remainder of Chapter 18 was growled at for a large portion of last week, eventually written on Saturday and edited on Sunday.  I'm actually reasonably happy with it, although I'm sure that will change when I come to read the whole thing through in a few months' time and wonder how on earth I ever thought that was good enough to actually be written down.

My MA graduation is this Friday, which means a rather glorious day off work even if much of the morning will be spend worrying that I'll fall over.  Or perhaps fall asleep.  Not to call the whole experience boring but I couldn't hear a damn thing during my BA one (deaf as a post, especially in an echoey cathedral) so I might have to take a book to while away the time.

Kidding.  I think.