Wednesday, December 30, 2009
1. Finishing my first novel (never thought I'd see the day)
2. Getting an agent (woo yeah!)
3. Getting a book deal with Quercus (double woo yeah!)
I think I can safely say that the year exceeded my expectations ever so slightly. So I'm choosing to ignore my pounding head, streaming nose and other delights and focus on the good.
I hope 2009 has been kind to you, and 2010 will be even kinder.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
This is probably my last pre-Christmas post. Heading home to the Motherland tomorrow. I'm definitely ready for a break...
...BUT I've just got my first edit in from Roisin, my lovely editor at Quercus. I'll be working on it in the post-Christmas/pre-New Year lull. And I'm actually looking forward to it! The edit doesn't look too daunting - mostly cutting. Yes, the cuts might hurt a bit, but they're so obviously going to make my ms into a better book that I'm more than happy to prune and trim away. Before you know it I'll have a new-look, lean, mean manuscript. That'll be nice.
Happy Christmas to one and all! Hope you get lots of writing and/or reading done over the festive season. And may Santa bring you good things like cheese, plenty of YA books and stripey socks.
Song of the day: A Spaceman came Travelling, by Chris De Burgh (possibly my favourite Christmas song to sing along with)
Friday, December 18, 2009
I tend to listen to the same stuff over and over again when I’m writing. It takes a lot for me to get bored of a song if it happens to fit the mood of my novel. Here’s the overly long playlist I created when I was finishing off my first novel. Someday I’m going to edit it down to create the definitive-bestest-of-the-bestest-with-no-fillers version. I’m hoping that process won’t be anything like as hard as cutting words from the novel. (Ouch. I can still feel the pain.)
A few days ago I was listening to Lady Gaga for the very first time, and a new story idea popped into my head – just like that. I got pretty excited about it and wrote a page of random, barely decipherable notes. I was very tempted to start writing it straight away, but like a good girl I forced myself to be disciplined. One story at a time is more than enough for me, I reckon. But the idea is fizzing away there somewhere at the back of my brain. I’ve no doubt that by the time I come to actually write the story, it will have transformed into something entirely different from the original idea BUT without that spark of Gaga inspiration, I’d have a big pile of absolutely nothing. Gaga, I salute you!
So my question to you is this... Do you listen to music when you write? If so, who and why? I’m ready to broaden my musical horizons, so bring it on!
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Writing the scene was disturbing, but in a good way. I got that proper writing buzz where you surprise yourself. Or rather your characters surprise you. This is THE COOLEST THING EVER. I’d forgotten how good it feels. I heart writing, big time. I’m relieved to be feeling this way again, as I’ve been feeling a bit shaky and unsure about this novel. But it’s all better now. Huzzah!
So I left my doomed character’s life hanging in the balance at 8.38pm. Cruel, I know. But I couldn’t quite face finishing her off just yet. That will be tonight’s job. And I’m REALLY looking forward to it.
Friday, December 11, 2009
Thursday, December 10, 2009
One day I will write in a big white room at the top of a house. There will be no neighbours. The room will have huge windows overlooking the sea. There will be a big desk facing the window, and a ridiculously comfortable and perfectly ergonomic chair. To the right of the desk will be a whiteboard-clad wall scrawled with notes from the latest WIP. There might be the odd post-it stuck on there too. In this place I will be the writer I've always wanted to be: inspired, relaxed, organized and not plagued by RSI.
Now I write in a medium-sized room in a top floor flat. There are neighbours - noisy ones too. The room has a small window overlooking an estate. There is a sofa and a laptop. There is an notebook with scrawled notes from the WIP - a notebook I ALWAYS forget to look at. In this place I am the writer I am now: vaguely irritated by my neighbours, kind of uncomfortable, but pootling along just fine all the same.
The truth is, it doesn't really matter where you write, as long as you actually WRITE.
(Still, one day that Dream Room will be mine. Oh yes indeedy.)
Saturday, December 5, 2009
Borders has had a special place in my heart ever since I first visited one in the States years and years ago. Somewhere that sells DVDs, CDs AND books?! With a coffeeshop too?! It was a revelation. I've whiled away many happy hours in various Borders stores. I'd have been quite happy to LIVE in one of those stores, if I wouldn't have been, y'know, arrested.
We lost the Oxford Street branch months ago. It was probably the bookshop I visited most often and I found it hard to believe it was closing down. Going to the sale there was beyond depressing. People gleefully scrambling for bargains among the half-empty shelves. It was like watching vultures tearing apart the carcass of a bison. Don't get me wrong: I was a vulture too. But I didn't feel good about it.
Bye bye Borders. I will miss you lots.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Here's a rather wonderful Procrastination Aid for you. I could watch this clip non-stop for hours and hours and hours. That wouldn't be at all weird, now would it?
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Thursday, November 26, 2009
After last week's excitement it feels good to be getting back to the business of actually writing. I'm not going to lie though - I'm feeling a wee bit of pressure. This book HAS to be good. It just has to. Eek. I'm scaring myself. The best way to proceed is probably to ignore The Book Deal (which will be impossible because... YAY! BOOK DEAL!) and carry on as before: just trying to write a story I would like to read.
So I'm going to try my best. Wish me luck. I think I'm going to need it.
Song of the day: Man in the mirror, by Michael Jackson
Non-disappointing lunch of the day: leftovers from last night
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Thank you thank you thank you, one and all.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
I’ve been mulling something over for the past couple of days...
BX’s main gripe with both Twilight and Shiver was the supposedly ‘pathetic’ heroines, who constantly have to be rescued by their supernatural boyfs. Apparently this sends out a ‘bad message’ to teenage girls. Interesting point. And it may well be true in the case of clumsy Bella (bless her!). But anyone who’s read Shiver (at least with their eyes OPEN) can see that Grace is a very different character. SHE’S the strong one in the relationship. Wolf-boy Sam is always getting himself into wolfy scrapes that Grace has to save him from. Hmm... maybe BX didn’t actually read Shiver after all.
The second gripe is that Bella and Grace both turn into googly-eyed crazyheads when they fall in love with their vamp/wolf fellas. Crikey! A teenage girl falling obsessively in love! Shocker! That NEVER happens in real life.
I for one don’t believe that writers for teenage girls have a responsibility to create perfect, strong heroines for their readers to emulate. That. Is. Patronizing. In. The. Extreme.
To sum up: it’s fine to have an opinion, but let’s not attack individual authors for not writing the book we want them to write. If we feel so strongly about it, why don’t we just write something ourselves?
Monday, November 16, 2009
Friday, November 13, 2009
This is Tim Riggins here, linebacker of the mighty Dillon Panthers. Cat asked me to step up to the plate (aw crap... that's baseball, not football) to apologize sincerely to you good people for the lack of blogging action over the past few days. See, she's been real sick, unable to even think, let alone type out words for y'all to read. But don't you fret now, 'cos she'll be back before you know it. Trust me (even though I do wear double-denim, like, A LOT).
Sunday, November 8, 2009
But it's OK, don't worry, the weekend hasn't been a total bust. I have managed to achieve some things (OK, achieved might be pushing it a little). I:
1. Got started on Friday Night Lights, season one. Tim Riggins, where have you been all my life? You sort of look like one of the main characters in my novel.
2. Got thinking about Christmas cooking and how to make brussels sprouts more palatable.
3. Read more of Tender Morsels, by Margo Lanagan. Beautiful and disturbing in equal measures. That lady can do amazing things with words.
4. Consumed more orange Lucozade than can possibly be good for a person.
5. Read lots of blogs. Children's/YA writers are ace. Fact.
Song of the day: Fortress, by Pinback
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Monday, November 2, 2009
Maybe it's time for me to start making packed lunches after all... But I'm working from home today and the fridge is mere steps away from my desk. (Mind you, there's not much in there apart from some withered spring onions and an old pot of chilli jam.)
The cats are acting strangely today. I fear there may be a mouse behind the sofa. Let's hope not. Last time a cat of mine caught a mouse, I stepped on its still-warm corpse. Yikes.
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Monday, October 26, 2009
OK, here goes... My new writing strategy is WRITING IN THE MORNING! That’s before work. Pretty hardcore, right? Well, maybe not to you, but to me, it’s a revelation! This morning I got up early, got ready for work, had my brekkie and then sat down in front of my laptop for an hour. The result: 786 words. Not bad. It got a bit hairy towards the end, as I kept on looking at the clock. I was determined to get the chapter finished before I had to head out the door. And I did! I reckon the last couple of sentences will need a rewrite though as they were somewhat rushed.
All in all, I’m pretty pleased with how it went. I managed to get lost in the story, and not fret about my list of things I had to do as soon as I got to work. And it put me in a good mood, knowing that I’d achieved something before 8.30. I won’t be doing this every day though, because I’ve got to go running a few times a week, and I’m sure that there will be some days when I just don’t feel like it. But whatever happens, it will mean some extra writing time each week. And that can only be a good thing.
I’ve still got a way to go though: Anthony Trollope used to write for three hours every morning before he went off to his job as a postal clerk. If he finished one novel and still had time left before the allotted three hours was up, he’d just put that one aside and start the next one. Now THAT’s impressive.
Person of the day: Conrad (who gave me the idea of pre-work writing)
Song of the day: Cave in, by Owl City
Friday, October 23, 2009
It is quite likely that your prospective agent will have some Pearls of Wisdom to impart. (I wish there was a PoW shop... ten for a pound perhaps?) Prospective Agent may well tell you some things about your manuscript that will make you want to bang your head on the table in a why-didn't-I-think-of-that? manner. Prospective Agent has knowledge that you do not. And if you don't take notes, chances are you won't be able to remember what he/she said in sufficient detail. That would be bad.
My agent, Marvellous Victoria, has mentioned that the fact that I took copious notes during our meeting went some way towards her taking me on. If a prospective agent has gone to the trouble of reading your manuscript (maybe even more than once), the least you can do is take notice of what they have to say. I can't stress enough the fact that they KNOW stuff. Of course, you might know some stuff too, but probably not as much as they do. Trust me on this one.
And even if Prospective Agent doesn't magically transform into Actual Agent, you can still take away those Pearls Of Wisdom and make your mansucript better. That can only be A Good Thing.
You can find a very interesting interview with Nancy Miles, director of the Miles Stott Children's Literary Agency, here. Nancy was also at my meeting with Marvellous Victoria, and I wish all of you could have been there too, because it was AWESOME.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Saturday, October 17, 2009
1. Getting my cat Scout to sit on my lap and actually chill out for more than five minutes. It's only taken a year.
2. Eating spaghetti hoops.
3. OK, I'm struggling here. So I didn't achieve very much, but I am on HOLIDAY! Back to work on Monday and then I'll be achieving all over the place.
As I have no important writing news to impart, I'll treat you to a little Buffy v. Edward action. I tried to upload this and embed it here, but my computer ain't playing (or I'm just not very clever). Anyhoo, here it is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RZwM3GvaTRM
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Er... I don't really have anything else to say right now. Just wanted to share my mini-milestone. 20,000 words hopefully = just under a third of a book. Aiming for about 70,000 words on this project I think, but that could change. Those naughty characters of mine aren't acting the way I expected them to. Tsk tsk.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
I had a bit of a realization as I was writing yesterday: I write MEAN teenage girls. They do utterly horrible things to each other. So I'd like to take the opportunity to apologize to any teenage girls out there who are not mean and don't want to read about mean. In the event that I get published, please do not buy a book written by me. You might not like it. (Everyone else should TOTALLY buy a book written by me. You might like it.)
Just to clarify: I like reading about mean people and writing about mean people. I do NOT like mean people. And I am not mean. Most of the time.
Song of the day: Hide and Seek, by Imogen Heap (She does good music to write to)
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Not so much Texas Chainsaw Massacre this time. Just a bit of delicate topiary here and there. This weekend I've been trimming TFN (The First Novel), and hopefully it will be ready for my Super Special Agent to send out into the big, bad, scary world pretty soon. A terrifying/exciting prospect.
I think I'm starting to lose perspective (if I ever even had it in the first place) on which bits to keep and which bits to get rid of. I find my finger hovering over the 'delete' button when I'm reading some of my favourite bits. Is this really necessary? Is it furthering the story in any way? Was it just complete self-indulgence on my part? So I have to be careful. It's like when I start going through my wardrobe, determined to chuck out some clothes. At first I can't find ANYTHING I can bear to part with... and then... well, some kind of madness envelops me, and I end up filling black bag after black bag with nearly every item of clothing I own. OK, slight exaggeration, but you get the picture, yes?
I think I'm nearly finished. Another 2000 words gone. Snip snip.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Monday, October 5, 2009
Only nine tenths of the working week to go. And then I’m on holiday – WOOP! A whole week off. Joy of joys! I haven’t really decided what I’m doing yet, although I intend to write lots. Haven’t been able to do any this weekend, due to a parental visitation. This visitation has been much fun and has mostly involved food, drink, a bit of culture and a new vacuum cleaner. No time to even THINK about writing. But next week... no excuses, I promise. I will write and think and write some more. And I’ll hopefully report any progress on here.
No disappointing lunch for me today! A roast chicken sarnie, crafted by Mother’s fair hands... Ah, I could get used to this.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Thursday, September 24, 2009
If anyone out there is even remotely interested in children's books, I'd strongly suggest you get your hands on a copy of CWAY. And if you're hoping to find an agent and get published, I'd suggest you get the contents of this book tattooed all over your body.
This book is the bible of children's books. Buy it. Borrow it. Don't steal it, because that is illegal. But do get it. It's got all the info you could ever need, including names and submission guidelines for agents and publishers. And lots of cool articles by writers, agents and clever publishing types that make you feel better about trying to be published.
AND you can read it on the way home and be all 'Check me out! I'm a writer, don't you know!'. You can be as smug as you like - just ignore the fact that it's really obvious that you're a wannabe, unpublished author. But you're on your way, oh yes indeedy. (Of course, no one on the train is in the least bit interested in what you're reading, but you can pretend.)
My copy of CWAY has been on my coffee table for the past four months, and I'm reluctant to put it back on the shelf. This could just be because I am extraordinarily lazy, but I'm not so sure. The book gives me hope, in a way I can't quite explain. I'm just glad it's there.
Song of the day: Fame by Irene Cara (It's all about the legwarmers.)
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Sunday, September 13, 2009
1. read the papers
2. finished reading Thirteen reasons why (which is a relief, because it was really getting me down)
3. watched Made on MTV (massive geek transforming himself into a ladies' man... not a huge success... he got down on one knee to ask a girl to the prom AND then told her he loved her. Ouch. Bad second date.)
4. listened to a radio programme about Agatha Christie
5. cooked up some Mexican food
But throughout these diverting diversions I couldn't help feeling that I REALLY SHOULD BE WRITING. I've gone from one extreme to the other: from being lazy all weekend and never wanting to write, to being unable to relax, even for one day.
I'm not quite sure how this happened. Maybe it's a good thing? Maybe it's because of my new super special agent (YAY! I got one!). It feels a bit like I'm not just writing for me anymore. I can't just give up on the work-in-progress if I get stuck or fed up with it. Not that I want to give up, not even a little bit. I'm hugely excited about where the story is heading - I think this one's got potential. But you never know what's around the corner...
So my September resolution is to learn to balance out the writing with a bit of relaxing, and vice versa. That means that today is writing day. I got up super early and am raring to go... after I check Twitter/Facebook/Hotmail/various writing blogs. Then I'll get started.
Song of the day: Let's get outta here, by Madina Lake
Thursday, September 10, 2009
OK, not true. But it would be nice. I got the idea for TFN (pleeeease somebody publish it, pleeeease!) many many years ago in an A-level English Language exam. Best exam question ever: write the first chapter of a novel. I can't quite remember if there was more to it than that. I kind of think there must have been - maybe they gave us the first line or something? Anyhoo, I wrote about a girl in the woods, alone and frightened. She'd just escaped from a house she'd been held in against her will for weeks and weeks. She didn't know the identity of her captor, or why she'd been taken. It was fun to write.
I enjoyed writing it so much that the idea stayed with me, lurking somewhere in my brain's filing cabinet, until I pulled it out and dusted it off three years ago. The scene I wrote in the exam doesn't appear in my story, and the main character is completely different, but the feelings are the same. If it hadn't been for that exam question, I doubt I'd ever have come up with the idea for the novel, unless I'd paid a visit to those benevolent monkeys...
The idea for the book I'm working on now came from an overheard conversation at work. Someone said the words 'bus crash', and I was away. At least I think they said 'bus crash' - I may have misheard. Doesn't matter though; it got me started. BTW, there is no bus crash in this book. It was just a starting point that got my mind itching and twitching and wanting to write. So thank you, dear colleague.
Person of the day: Nev the newsagent, who didn't mind that I waited 4 days to pay him the £116 I owed him
Monday, September 7, 2009
1. It has has an awesome dog in it.
2. The characters say outrageous things that made me laugh out loud, but they’re not Dawson’s Creekly annoying.
3. There are cheerleaders and jocks and high school dances.
4. It does one of my favourite tricks: you know something really bad has happened but you don’t find out what it is till the end.
Sunday, September 6, 2009
Have you seen this cat? She may look sweet and innocent/gormless, but she is actually the perpetrator of an unspeakable crime. Approach with extreme caution.
Name: Jem aka The Destroyer
Age: 17 months
Description: er... black with three and a half legs (and a tendency to use her disability to mask the evil within)
Crime: Trespass (onto my laptop when I was in the middle of a VERY tricky re-write. 'Aw,' I thought, 'so cute. She wants to see what I'm writing.' WRONG! The cuteness distracted me from the fact that her paw was on the 'off' button. Seconds later, my screen faded to black. Disaster! Two paragraphs lost. Possibly the two hardest paragraphs in the book. Bad kitty.
Today, I attempt to re-write the re-write. Oh, happy day!
Thursday, September 3, 2009
Monday, August 31, 2009
But... one additional thing I HEART about looking for an agent is...
GETTING AN AGENT! I got one I got one I got one. And a completely awesome one too. My first choice. I have an agent. Tra la la!
Number of days between heading to the post office and first hearing back from my prospective agency (asking me to send the rest of the manuscript): 3
Number of times I've said 'I've got an agent!' over the last three days: 143
So that's it. I am agented up to the maximum, and it feels bloody brilliant. I now have an ally in the battle to get published. And I've no doubt that it will be a battle. It's tough out there at the moment, particularly in the YA market. But I'm not going to think about that for a while. Instead I'm going to appreciate this milestone and say 'I've got an agent!' a few more times.
PS Did I mention I've got an agent?!
Person of the Day #1: Non (who told me months and months ago that she'd met the right agent for me. She was right)
Person of the Day #2: My Secret Agent (whose identity will be revealed in good time)
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Monday, August 24, 2009
I’m not sure whether his name is quite right yet, but it’ll do for now. Let’s call him D, because that’s the letter his name starts with, and because he is a DEVICE. I intend to use him shamelessly and then probably discard him half way through the story. Good times!
Celebrity spot of the week: that Irish fella from Cold Feet in Sainsbury’s, Herne Hill. He was also wearing flip-flops. Perhaps he was the inspiration for D?
YA book you really should read: The House of the Scorpion, by Nancy Farmer
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Instead of writing, so far this week I have mostly achieved the following: watched the last episode of Dollhouse (what was Joss Whedon thinking? Too many ideas, not enough editing/common sense); been in a grump about work; and been for lovely drinks with lovely friends of loveliness. This evening I will continue the non-writing with dinner avec my lovely cousin. And then it will be Thursday, which is practically the weekend, so I may as well just leave the writing till then, right?
Hoping for cooler weather at the weekend... hot weather + laptop on lap = sweaty thighs of grossness
Song of the day: Walking on Sunshine, by Katrina and the Waves (a song to make you smile if ever there was one)
Person of the day: Sarah Shep for letting me invite myself round for dinner. Thanks, Cuz! (So far that’s two Persons of the Day called Sarah. The question is... Can anyone NOT called Sarah possibly make the grade?)
Monday, August 17, 2009
- Breakfast in bed
- A shower. Writers should smell good and have clean hair
- A trip to the supermarket. Writers deserve treats, including, but not limited to, various cheeses
- Reading the paper, especially the book review section (and daydreaming about my books being reviewed one day)
- Checking facebook, icanhascheezburger and digitalspy (the shame)
- A leisurely lunch
- A post-lunch snooze
- Playing with the cats
- A cheeky, early evening glass of vino
Saturday, August 15, 2009
I feel funny about using the names of people I know, but I still do it. The main character in my new novel shares her name with someone at work, but I’m just going to have to get over it because it’s the RIGHT name. Some names just are. And some just aren’t. I renamed a main character in The First Novel just before I sent off submissions to agents. His new name suits him perfectly, although I do slip up now and again and revert to the old one.
My first stop for potential names is my book shelf. A quick scan of the author names on the spine can be helpful, but I seem to have a lot of books by men called John. A good, solid name, but not the one for me. Next stop is baby-name websites. These nearly always do the trick. But man, there are a lot of weird names out there. Parents can be cruel.
So when you’ve got the right name, you just know. It sounds right when you say it, you can type it with reasonable accuracy, and it fits the character like a snug pair of Calvins. Now you can rest easy, can’t you? WRONG! You’ve got to come up with a a good surname too, dammit. And it has to go perfectly with the first name. Sigh.
Atticus Finch - best name EVER. Completely brilliant in every way. If anyone can better that, I'll be impressed.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
I’m kind of jealous of these planning people. It would be nice to know where the story is going once in a while. Knowing what you’re sitting down to write on any given day might be reassuring. But would it take away some of the fun? Some of that magic that happens when a character does or says something you never would have expected?
My planning amounts to a page of random notes and questions that I forget to refer to later on. This could just be an example of pure laziness on my part, but it’s also because I DON’T KNOW WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN. Seriously – not a clue. For all I know, aliens from the planet Boondaggle could land in the middle of my story and cause havoc, obliterating my favourite characters with their ray-guns. But I really hope they don’t.
Are there any planners out there who’d like to tell me about how they go about it? Are you incredibly disciplined? Is having a plan A Good Thing? Pray, do tell.
Cheese of the day: taleggio
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
My shiny new laptop of joy has just arrived, and it’s going to make everything better. Oh yes. I’m going to write more often, I’ll be more creative, and world peace is surely just around the corner.
It’s a thing of beauty, I’m telling you. Am I regretting not paying the extra £30 to get it in red? No sirree. Black is the new black. Am currently debating whether it’s wise to try and take it home with me tonight, given that I’m off to the pub. Hmm. Maybe I should sack off the pub and go home with my NBF? I’m sure my friends would understand...
This happy event has made me forget all about the horrors of returning to the day job. All is well in the world. (Except from some serious RSI, but I’m choosing to ignore that right now.)
Song of the day: Supermassive Black Hole, by Muse (THE song of choice for baseball-playing vampires)
Person of the day: Sarah S, who’s looking mighty fine and is super-friendly (All applications for POTD will be considered. Remember: money talks.)
Sunday, August 9, 2009
So I probably (and by that I mean ‘definitely’) won’t be posting on here every day from now on. I have a life to lead. There’s work to be done, friends to see (if they even remember me…) and trashy TV to be watched. Oh, and the writing of course. Got to remember the writing.
I’m ploughing on with the next manuscript, and I can already tell it’s not going to go the way I planned it. But that’s a good thing. The characters are starting to do their own thing. It won’t be long before I can take the stabilizers off their bikes and let them wheel away, free from my steadying hand. All I have to do is keep my fingers on the keyboard and try to keep up.
By the way, I checked out my working title on Amazon, and it has indeed been cruelly stolen by a successful Chick Lit writer. Which clearly means it wasn’t the right title for my story. Back to the drawing board.
Song of the day: Bruised, by Jack’s Mannequin (who I’m going to see in Camden in a few weeks – yay!)
Saturday, August 8, 2009
The one that shares its name with my novel is apparently 'The most shocking story of abuse ever told'. Yikes. Now I've never read one of these books, and I probably never will. Perhaps they're wonderful, and life-affirming in a way I could never even hope to understand. Doesn't stop me being annoyed that one of them has MY book title. The cheek of it.
I shouldn't be too surprised. The title I chose is, after all, just a word. And not even a particularly unusual word either. And I shouldn't be too bothered either, knowing full well that when (if?) my novel sees the light of day, it may be with a different title - one that I'd never have thought of in a gazillion years.
In my day job (children's book editor), we change titles ALL the time. The title has to sell the book, and the fact of the matter is that the author isn't always/ever the best person to know how to do that. (Note to self: be more sympathetic to authors in day job.)
Now, I'm just going to mosey on over to Amazon to see if my working title for The Second Novel has already been taken by another tragic childhood tale. I'm thinking it's a distinct possibility.
Awesome YA book you really should read: Elsewhere, by Gabrielle Zevin (It's life-changingly good.)
Friday, August 7, 2009
I’ve (kind of) decided on a plot, created a few characters, made up some suitable names, but the trouble is I don’t KNOW these people. I don’t know what they look like, what they have for breakfast, or how they’d act in any given situation. They are cardboard cut-outs.
I miss my characters from The First Novel (TFN). I spent three years with them, and I think I got to know them pretty well. They were real people (please forgive me for sounding crazy here). These new folk are strangers.
There’s only one thing for it: I’m just going to have to spend some time getting to know them. I hope hope hope they have something interesting to say for themselves.
Song of the day: Gives you hell by The All-American Rejects
Thursday, August 6, 2009
2. Re-formatting the manuscript to comply with each agency’s oh-so-slightly different requirements. Microsoft Word has never been a friend of mine.
3. Printing out fifty pages, only to realize the text is at a slight angle because it hasn’t fed into the printer properly. Wrestle with idea of just sending it as it is, knowing full well I’m going to end up having to print it again.
4. Going to the post office. Never fun.
6. Exacerbating RSI by checking for emails more often than you’d have thought possible. It turns out that pressing ‘Refresh’ is not refreshing at all. Not even a little bit.
7. Crippling self-doubt when a rejection arrives, even if it’s a really nice one from a lovely agent who liked the first 50 pages. If he/she has said five positive things about the ms and one negative, I know which one I’ll be obsessing over for the next few days.
8. Thinking that I sound like an idiot in any email correspondence. Too formal? Not formal enough? Too grateful? Not grateful enough? Tis a mine-field.
9. Not being able to focus on ANYTHING else.
10. Er… did I mention the waiting?
One thing I love about looking for an agent:
the possibility that something great could be about to happen.
Cheese of the day: camembert (baked, with garlic and white wine)
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Every time I read it I find something I want to change – usually a turn of phrase that makes me cringe or an sneaky, useless adverb. I blame the pixies that sneak into my laptop overnight, turning my perfect text into something… not even close to perfect.
Will it ever be just right? So that I can read it all the way through, nodding and smiling, and reach the end feeling proud and satisfied that this is the best I can do? Doubtful. The way I write today is subtly different from the way I wrote yesterday, which in turn is different from the way I wrote the day before. And the day before that. And so on. Maybe that’s just evolution.
But today I’m saying ‘ENOUGH! Move on to something else. This story has been told… and yes, you might look at it in a few days/weeks/months and wish you’d told it differently. But this will do. For now.’
I don’t want my story to turn into a child’s painting that starts off all bold, bright colours and ends up a muddy brown mess because I just didn’t know when to stop.
I’m going to press ‘Print’. Yes, I’m going to do it right this second. Right now. Hmm. But maybe that dialogue on page 57 could work a bit harder… and maybe I haven’t developed that character as well as I could have… and maybe…
Awesome YA book you really should read: Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
Song of the day: Thnks Fr Th Mmrs by Fall Out Boy
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Of course, I should be:
a) finishing the revised draft of the first novel
b) carrying on with the start of the second novel
BUT instead I am here, blogging for the very first time.
Procrastination is not my middle name, but it might as well be. I can come up with at least 47 reasons not to write when I should be writing. My flat is never tidier than when I know I should really be writing. Meals get cooked, laundry gets done, mail gets sorted, writing gets ignored.
Must. Try. Harder.