Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

I've got two basement cats - Jem and Scout. I often trip over them in the dark, so I'm toying with the idea of painting white stripes on them - just like they did with cows in the Blitz, so that they could be seen in a blackout. (Random fact courtesy of my day job as a non-fiction editor bod.)

Anyhoo, Happy Halloween to one and all! Please don't get entangled in any giant spiderwebs like I nearly did this morning. It was not a good start to the day, but it was suitably Hallowtastic I suppose.

My only concession to Halloween will be wearing black and green tonight, in a vaguely (OK, very vaguely) witchy fashion. Yes, I'm lame. Deal with it.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

A message from our sponsor

Cat prefers writing in the first person. She's never actually tried writing in the third person, except for status updates on Facebook. But they don't really count. Thus far in her writerly life, Cat has found the first person narrative to be a more than adequate means of telling her stories. She's not necessarily saying that it comes easily to her, but she does find it to be the natural way the words spill out of her brain, through her fingers and onto the keyboard. Currently, she finds herself pondering whether she will ever write something in the third person... or even the second. (The most likely answers being 'Possibly' and 'Not a chance in hell'.)

Cat also enjoys reading books written in the first person. She often finds them to be extra-specially pleasing in ways that other books are not. She would be very interested to know what you think? First person or third? Which one would win in a fight?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Early one morning...

I’ve got a new writing strategy that I’m pretty excited about. It may well be temporary, but I’m going to tell you about it anyway. And maybe the very act of telling you will make me stick to it (I doubt it, though).

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

If you're going to meet a prospective agent...


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

Five reasons to read PREP by Curtis Sittenfeld

1. It's the best book I've ever read about how painful it is to be a teenager.
2. The characters have awesome names, like Cross Sugarman and Gates Medowski.
3. Lee's dad says the most hilarious things.
4. Everyone wants to read about New England prep schools... don't they?
5. It's not a YA book. (Hmm... what makes a book YA or not? Must think that one over.)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Buffy v Edward

Yes, yes, I hear you. So I didn't ACTUALLY do any writing yesterday... but I achieved other things. Very Important Things like:

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:

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Two posts in one day? 'That's not possible!' I hear you cry

20,000 words. Tra la la! And some of them are quite good ones. Oh happy day! I'm going to treat myself to... a cup of tea.

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.

Brr... hasn't it got parky all of a sudden?

I'm pretty excited about today. Here's why:
1. I'm just about to reach the 20,000 word mark on the WIP. Now compared to my last effort, that is super-speedy writing. I didn't quite meet my goal to write 2000 words yesterday, but who's counting? (Oh, me... yeah.)
2. This afternoon I'm heading to a book signing at The Golden Treasury Bookshop, which is somewhere in deepest Wandsworth. I've been hearing good things about it for years, but I've never got round to visiting before. Maggie Stiefvater, author of Shiver (awesome cover, don't you think?) will be there to talk and sign books. In case you haven't read it, Shiver does for werewolves what Twilight did for vampires. These werewolves are about a zillion times more interesting than the Cullen family. Also, Shiver contains a v. amusing scene involving quiche. How many books can you say that about?!
3. Am going to see Zombieland tonight - woop! And we all know that zombies are the new vampires... Uh-oh, I'm in danger of contradicting myself. OK, zombies AND werewolves are the new vampires. Or something.
Awesome YA book you really should read: see above

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A whole heap of mean

After a LOT of faffing around yesterday and re-reading what I wrote aaaages ago on the WIP, I managed to write some more. About 2000 words, which maybe makes up for the 2000 words I cut from TFN at the weekend. But these are very different words. Well, some are the same. Like 'the' and 'a' and 'is'. But this story has a very different feel to the last one. It's lighter (despite some pretty dark subject matter) and more complicated (there's more people in it - people who have to do stuff and say stuff!). I'm enjoying it.

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

Snippety snip

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

Friendly Wednesday

This Wednesday is good for the following reasons:

1. I'm going out for drinks tonight. This prospect always puts me in a good mood.
2. My lunch was not disappointing, even though it was from Pret.
3. I'm spending a significant portion of the day thinking about musicals.
4. I've just finished a massive editorial project at work that was REALLY getting me down.
5. I'm going to eat a sherbet dip dab this afternoon.
6. I've just arranged to go see Zombieland with the marvellous JNT.

Dammit! I was going for a five-point list, and now I've gone and ruined it.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Gloomy Monday

Came very close to not getting out of bed this morning. It’s a lights-on, keep-warm, don’t-even-think-about-going-outside sort of day. I briefly toyed with the idea of calling my boss and explaining that I just didn’t feel like working today, but I wasn’t sure that would go down so well.

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.
Song of the day: I know him so well, from the musical Chess