Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A good year

I'm ill AGAIN. Not properly ill, just enough to make me feel sorry for myself. This is the fourth time in six months. No fair, right? But I figure maybe it's payback for the good things that have happened to me this year, namely:

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

Deck the halls

I don't dress up my cats like reindeer, yet STILL they knock over the tree. And I've come to accept that the baubles on the lowest branches are the Sacrificial Baubles: they must die so that other may live. Tis truly a noble deed.

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

Music vs Silence

I need to listen to music when I write. At least, I think this is true, but having never actually tried to write without music I can’t say for sure, can I? But I strongly suspect this is the case. Besides, I need SOMETHING to drown out the gallumphing children next door, the slamming doors, the super-deep voice of the man who lives downstairs.

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

Kill, kill, kill!

Good writing session last night. I’d been dreading tackling this bit, because it meant killing off one of my favourite characters. Of course, as the writer, I could have chosen to spare her, but where would the fun be in that?! Besides, the whole story is about her death, so there was really no avoiding it. It’s just... I’d kind of grown fond of her (even if she is the meanest of meanmasters).

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.

Song of the day: Bad Romance, by Lady Gaga

Friday, December 11, 2009

Unofficially Official Agent Appreciation Day

So apparently today is Unofficially Official Agent Appreciation Day. This is a GREAT idea I found out about over on Steph Bowe's blog here. This is all about celebrating the awesomeness of your agent. I'm well up for that!

Five reasons why Marvellous Victoria of the Miles Stott Children's Literary Agency is awesome:

1. She is patient with me. (NB: I can be kind of irritating, with a tendency to ask lots of annoying questions.)

2. She has nerves of steel. I think she must drink Irn-Bru, which, as we all know, is made in Scotland from GIRDERS.

3. She has some mad editorial skills, helping me to make my ms WAY better. Plus, a couple of her editorial notes made me giggle a lot.

4. She used to work at the same company as me... It's like it was meant to be.

5. She seems to quite like my writing. Which is nice.

Hooray for Agent Victoria! 


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Where I write

Forgive me if there are any typos in this post. I slammed a door on one of my fingers in the middle of the night (middle finger, left hand, if you're interested). I was trying to halt a ninja cat invasion of my bedroom. The mission was successful, but the finger was collateral damage. Big ouch. I'll do my best to soldier on though, like a brave little... er... soldier.

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

RIP Borders

So Borders has gone finally into administration and this makes me sad. Lots of very talented booksellers out of work just before Christmas and one of the most pleasant places to buy books on the high street gone. It's bad, bad news.

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

A leetle bit of progress and a leetle tiny kitten

I've written a couple of thousand more words on the WIP. All fears that I might have lost the ability to write have disappeared... for now. The trouble is, the next section is TRICKY. And I think it might even prove to be quite harrowing to write. So I'm doing what I do best and procrastinating. Seriously, if this was an Olympic sport I would be up there with the best of them, procrastinating a-go-go.

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?