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#ROW80 Round Four – First Check-in

Gold star for Helen (Newtowritinggirl) please: not only have I done my goals for the first few days, I’m checking in on time. And, it gets better…

I am totally ROCKING my daily goals. Monday, I did 30 minutes of planning ‘Holiday’ and then wrote 588 words. Yesterday I wrote 511. Get me. I am so psyched up for it at the moment.

It’s not really surprising – I always get psyched for ‘Holiday’ in October. Honestly this is the third year running (I’m counting my chickens a little here that this streak will carry on) that I’ve been so energised in October. Good reason for it too.

Pressure! NaNo is just 26 days away (I’ve just been on the website – it told me 😉 ) which means I only have 25 days left of writing ‘Holiday’ before I have to change to another project. Sigh. Still, I’m going with it. If I manage 500 words a day, ‘Holiday’ will be 15,000 words better off by the end of the month. I don’t think that will finish it, but it will be getting closer!

So what caused this sudden interest in it (other than my new 500 word a day goal, and ‘October Syndrome’)? This:

You might ask what this is? It’s my bedroom wall (thanks Boyfriend for letting me!). On Monday night I decided that in order to get productive with this task, I need to know what I’m doing; what needs doing, and what has been done. Hense the post-it note covered wall!  

Each pink kiss post-it (SO chick lit don’t you think!) is a scene that I’ve written. The yellow ones are scene that NEED to be written. Is it me, or does it look like a lot of the first bit of the novel is written, but not the middle and end? Yeah, that’s right. I think it’s quite a good place to be though.

I can’t work too much on the beginning of the novel at the moment, because that’s what’s stored on my dead laptop (don’t get me started on that, I might cry!), but I can work on the ‘Holiday’ part. 1,000 words later this week, it’s working for me.

What I really need to decide is when certain events happen. I have a wedding on day 5/6 of the holiday and a hen party on day 2, but I need to fill a few more days. Fill with romance and tension, excitement and something else that will get people glued to it. I’m really enjoying it at the moment. It’s weeks like this that make me think I really want to be a writer. If you know, we just ignore the last 3 months!

What does worry me a little is something someone said at the Jane Fallon event (which reminds me, I really need to finish reviewing The Ugly Sister!). ‘A good novel has a huge point of action after 1/3 and again after 2/3, then obviously at the end. I’ve got the 2/3 action (action? In this romance/chick lit? Nah, but you know what I mean), but don’t have anything massive at 1/3. I’ve got a whole list of things that happen, but none earth shattering.

I’m also worried about my POV. I’m using 1st person because for this story I think it works well – the reader needs to discover things the same time as Kate does, I don’t want other people giving them hints as to what is (or isn’t) going to happen. But, I’m also using present tense. I think I’m not doing it too well though.

I once got half way through a book before realising it was in present tense. Another book I read I noticed it on the first page. What’s the difference? Now natural it comes. I NEED mine to sound natural and I think sometimes it doesn’t. The problem is I can’t exactly put my finger on what the problem is. It might be that sometimes it’s what’s going on in Kate’s head, and others it’s like she’s telling a story. For example (off the top of my head):

I wake up the next day with a banging head

vs

Oh my god, the pain in my head is incredible.

I don’t know about you, but I know which I prefer, and it isn’t the first. But I seem to find that I write the first quite often.

Anyway, I guess this is more of a problem when I’m editing, although it would make editing easier if I got it right the first time. Maybe now I’ve identified the problem (I think) I can work on it. Or not on it, if you see what I mean.

Right, I need to head off now. I’m finishing work early tonight, so will be home more than an hour earlier than usual. Which is good, except I have a friend coming to dinner – which is good, but also bad. Hopefully I’ll force myself to do half an hour or so of writing. Hopefully, I’ll want to and won’t have to force myself 😉

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A Blogger’s Night with Jane Fallon

I said to someone this morning ‘I love my secret blogging life.’ It’s so true.

Last night I had the utter privilege to get on the invite list for Jane Fallon’s new novel (The Ugly Sister – brilliant – review to follow) blogger’s party.

It was basically a chance for book bloggers to get together, meet each other face to face (which we never do, we consider ourselves friends without even knowing what the others look and sound like!), chat and to meet Jane Fallon. It was so much fun. Oh, and did I mention it was at The Ivy?? Yeah… I know!

A few years ago I ‘met’  a girl called Laura who hosts an awesome site Novel Kicks I can’t remember how, maybe Twitter, maybe her blog, maybe mine? Last year we nearly met in the flesh at a Lisa Jewell event. I say nearly because although we sat next to each other, we had no idea who the other was, until the next day when we were both tweeting about it! Doh!

Laura emailed me last week and asked if I’d be interested in a Jane Fallon party (Jane Fallon as in the author of Getting Rid of Matthew, Got You Back and one of my all-time favourite books Foursome) because she’s releasing a new novel The Ugly Sister later in the week. Uh, wow, YEAH! She spoke to someone at Penguin who decided I was worthy of getting on the invite list. To THE IVY!

So I met up with Laura, who is just as wicked in real life as she is through Twitter and on her site. We had a quick drink (and dry off – it poured with rain just as I left work), then headed over to The Ivy. Luckily we managed to avoid getting drenched by passing taxi’s al la Bridget Jones and got there.

The people from Penguin were so friendly and welcoming, as were the canapes and champagne! After a while of chatting to Laura, Elle from Trashionista, and other fun people, I got introduced to Jane, and you know what? She’s lovely. Really nice, genuine, down to earth lady, who has read my blog (Hi Jane if you’re reading again *waves*).

Because it was more of a party than a book launch, there was no speech by Jane, no Q&A session and no reading from The Ugly Sister. I was a little disappointed when I found that out, but in actual fact it was better, because it gave everyone a chance to talk to Jane in person, rather than firing questions out of the audience and maybe having a three minute chat while she signed our books.

Jane was so encouraging and genuinely interested in my novel (novels actually) and what I write, and she said exactly the same as Lisa Jewell had, that she loves editing. There must be something in it if everyone keeps saying this. I need to get off my backside and edit Italian Infatuation. After I’ve finished ‘Holiday’ and done NaNo that is. Hmmm.

I can’t remember all the things we talked about, but I spent a lot of the night just chatting to her. The thing that I always take from events like this, is that authors are just like you and me, they just finished their novels and got them published. Once upon a time Jane was just a woman with an idea – just like me now.

Another great, really inspiring thing is that according to her bio, Jane is 20 years older than me (you wouldn’t think it to look at her), but her first novel wasn’t published until 2007. It’s quite a nice reminder that you don’t have to be in your early 20s to get your book published.

As I thought would happen, I’m now desperate to write my novel. Obviously a lot of chat last night was with non-published authors about writing etc, and it’s just made me want to write. Someone asked me when I find the time to write with a full-time job, and it made me realise that I never make time for writing. I just do it when I can (when I remember more like!). I think this is something I can improve on to become more productive. Maybe set aside 2 lunchtimes at work a week, and 2 hours 2 evenings a week. Maybe even a couple of hours each weekend. It’s not much is it? Not if it helps me achieve my dream!

All in all, I had a brilliant night. Thank you Laura for getting me on the invite, thanks everyone at penguin for hosting – it was great to meet you all, and all the other bloggers. And of course Jane – keep up the good work with the novels – I’m looking forward to the next party 🙂

The Ugly Sister is (brilliant) out 29th September. I’ll review very soon.

ROW80 Round Three Round Up and More

ROW80 Round 3 ended last week. I didn’t do great. No where near as good as Round 2.

My goals was to write 14,280 words over the 80 days – that equates to 250 words, five times a week. Out of the 80 days, there were only 15 days I wrote. 15!!! What the hell is wrong with me? Most of those days I did well, other than 2 days I did more than 250 – sometimes well more than 250. In total I wrote 10,174. It would have been a lot less, had I not have had a last-minute add on of 1368 on the final day. If only I could have achieved that everyday!

I’m really annoyed with myself for not doing better, but I think more annoyed that I don’t know why I’m not doing well.

Since last Wednesday (when the round finished) I had a good session on Friday night (700+ words) and a pretty decent one on Saturday night too (I can’t remember how many words I wrote then, but it was definitely over 500 – I think maybe  more. 800? I can’t remember), so it’s not like I’m completely stuck.

Far from it actually, the story’s coming on ok. Every time I start typing I have no idea what I’m going to write, but then I’ll start and something will come out. I have no idea if it’s something good, ok or rubbish, because I don’t read back what I’ve written (I’m good with keeping the internal editor at bay, but I think only because I never let myself read what I’ve written). The main thing is I’m writing.

The problem is definitely getting down to the writing. Once I start, I don’t have a problem. 1368, 700 and 600 or something words in a day over the last week proves that, but it’s the getting to do it.

We still don’ t have internet at home. I keep thinking this should make me write more, but I think it’s stopping me write as much. If we had the internet, I’d turn on the computer to look on Facebook, or to blog, or something. Then I’d have it on and think about writing. As we don’t, I don’t, so it doesn’t even cross my mind.

I need to get in the habit of turning it on. My boyfriend helped me on Saturday when he pretty much made me sit down and do some writing. I hated him for it, but without it I wouldn’t have done anything!

Thinking about all this… I’ve decided (literally as I’ve been writing this blog) that I will take part in ROW80 Round 4. Every year for the last 2 years I’ve done a writing challenge in October. I feel it’s a good warm up for NaNo (I think I’ve decided I will be doing it, but not 100%. I’ll decide soon and blog about it – promise). This year I’ve got the added incentive that I want to get ‘Holiday’ finished by 31st October.

I don’t know how many words I’ve written since whenever I decided I had to finish it by October. The plan was 40,000 words by then (which should hopefully take it finished – 80,000 is what I’m targeting). I’ve probably got about 30,000 left to write. Agh!

Of course, now I’ve killed my laptop (TBC – boyfriend couldn’t do anything, we’re going to try to get his Dad to look at it when we go up there in a few weeks) I have no way of looking. That’s annoying. I’m trying not to think about it though at the moment.

Goals then for ROW80 Round 4. Well, for 30 of those days I’ll be writing 1,667 words a day. What about the other 50 days? 250 words a day? I think that’s pretty good. And should push me a little more than 250 words a day, 5 times a week.

I think in December I may need a break… but maybe a push to 250 words  a day would be good. I’ve never written anything in December since I started NaNo, so it will be an experience.

To read more about A Round of Words in 80 Days, check out the website here.

So, who’s with me for ROW80 – Round 4? I hope the people who did round 2 and 3 are back in, even though I’ve not interacted with them as much as I would have liked, it’s been great fun getting to know them.

It’s Friday Kids, But Not as We Know It!

I feel like I’m going to have some time to do some writing today. Ordinarily if this happened, I’d take part in Fiction Friday, but as I have this massive goal of finishing my novel by 31st October, I really think I should do that instead. Poo.

My excitement about Holiday at the weekend has carried on this week and I’ve been doing more on it.

On Tuesday, on the way home I thought about how a scene would work out. When I got in, I decided to write a few hundred words (500) before I got dinner. I got to 508 or something and knew I HAD to write more. So I gave myself another 15 minutes or so, and got another 500 words in (I think that’s right. I can’t work out if it’s actually possible to write that many in such a short time – it seems a crazy amount?).

I then made myself stop, or else I would have starved*, but once I’d turned the laptop off, I thought of something else, so made some notes on an envelope. Then I got into it and wrote another 100 words of actual story.

*As I’m a stone over weight, I seriously doubt I would have starved, but hey, I can tell myself that!

Yesterday (my next night in as I was out on Wednesday)  I got home early having had a hospital appointment which finished earlier than work. Yay! However at the appointment, they put some drops in my eyes that made EVERYTHING blurred. When I say blurred, distances just looked like I didn’t have my glasses on, but reading and looking at things close up, oh and being out in the SUN, really hurt and felt like it was going to give me a headache (the drops dilated my pupils so my irises were almost invisible).

I couldn’t write. But, I had this idea about a rewrite for one scene (I know I should wait until the first draft is finished, but I’m not going to be happy leaving it how it is, because the same thing is going to happen again. At the end actually. I found another envelope, and made some (very large) notes on that scene.

I feel like I’m getting somewhere.

Except, now I want to do some writing and I’ve left the envelopes at home. Which is probably a good thing, because, well you know, I’m at work and should really be working. Especially as I haven’t done much at all today.

Oh how things have changed from when I worked downstairs on reception. I think I had about 3 hours a day then to write/blog/trawl through the internet. I do get paid better now though, so that’s one thing. I probably do better writing now too. When I was writing on reception I was constantly interrupted by guests or the phone, so although I (sometimes) got a lot done, it didn’t feel it had the quality of the writing I’m doing now.

I wonder if that’s why I don’t seem to be able to edit Italian Infatuation. That was pretty much all written on reception so may be of a different standard of writing. I think I’m looking for excuses here.

Had a chat with my other half the other night (the first envelope night). He said I’m not a finisher. I tried to argue with him, but when I was thinking about it later, I hate to admit he’s probably right (and now I’m hoping this isn’t one of my blogs he reads – knowing my luck he will and I’ll get the ‘told you so’s all weekend!). I do start things, and I never seem to follow them through. Although, that’s not to say I’m not going to, just that I’ve be distracted by something else temporarily.

This weekend, I was cleaning up the flat, and trying to do about a million things at once – washing up, laundry, hanging clothes out, tidying the bedroom etc etc. I don’t know if I ever finished one because I kept doing a little of everything else too.

I’m the same with writing. I started a writing course, but didn’t get too far before I started writing Holiday. But then that didn’t get too far because I did NaNo. After NaNo though, I didn’t edit Italian Infatuation because I started writing Holiday again. Then it got to November and I HAD to do NaNo again, so The Dating Project was half written. Now that’s unfinished, Italian Infatuation is written but not edited, the writing course is maybe 4 modules in, and Holiday is maybe half way done.

Presently, I’m not a finisher, but I want to be. I want to edit Italian Infatuation. I totally think it’s got legs as a Mills & Boon book and I’ll like to sub it to them. I really really would like to. I also want to finish Holiday, think of a better title, and edit that too. Oh, and I totally want to finish the writing course. All this, and I want to do NaNo again in November.

I currently have a plan to finish Holiday before NaNo starts. In November, I’ll write a novel (or 50,000 words of one). I don’t know what about yet, and that is worrying me a little, but I’ll worry about it much more when Holiday is done and dusted.

In December, I need another plan.  I’m not going to decide what it is yet, but I’m going to make one. It’s going to include finishing one of these projects. All the way through. Next year, I’m going to submit a book. Or two. Wooh, that’s a plan. A plan I really like.

I think… I may have said that about Italian Infatuation this year. Ah. Well… Um… Yeah! Next year though. Definitely. It doesn’t matter how scary it is (I think it’s fear holding me back – what if I finish a novel and edit it? I’d have to submit it, and that’s mega scary!), I’m going to do it.

But this year. This year I’m going to finish draft one of Holiday. I’m so into this at the moment, I don’t think anything could stop me. I hope nothing will stop me anyway!

More ‘Holiday’ and Penultimate ROW80 Check-In

Only 3 days left of ROW80. In some ways it feels like it has been really short, but when I consider it really, it has been ages. Almost 80 days actually – ha!

I guess I shouldn’t start on with my achievements, because I’ll be doing that on Wednesday – so all I’m going to say today is that on 8th June I made a mini goal of about 6,000 words. Today, I sit at 6,603 words AND 105 mins editing! Woop!

In fact, I’ve only got 4,566 words left to write to equal the overall goal of an average of 300 words (or 30 mins editing or writing course) a day. That’s ALMOST possible. Almost. Hmmm. Maybe.

The reason my stats have suddenly shot up (you’ll see the sudden increase when I post my stats on Wednesday – along with graphs) is that I’ve suddenly got back into Holiday. On Wednesday when I was off work, I rearranged the pieces of writing I’ve got, getting nearly everything in one place.

Later in the week I did some writing – originally it was for Fiction Friday (but part of Holiday) but I think I probably am leaving it too late to post now so it’s just another scene for the novel. Then this morning I woke up with an uncontrollable urge to do more.

I did a load of planning, mapping, and then writing. altogether I planned (which I’m sticking under editing for the purpose of this challenge) for 30 minutes and wrote… wait for it… 953 words. The scene I wrote was one I’ve not been looking forward to writing, but I was just sat there and the beginning of it came to me (not the beginning actually – halfway through, but the beginning of the hard bit) and I HAD to write it. I’ve not read it back, but I think it’s probably ok. I did it by hand (shocking) so need to type up at some point, which means it will get a cheeky edit before the novel’s finished and it gets a real edit.

The planning I did was brilliant. Most of what I’ve written so far is in the 1st 1/3. I think maybe one of the reasons it’s been quite hard to get back into, is because I only have a vague idea of what will be happening in the 2nd and 3rd thirds. I knew two major bits, but the fillers were a little mystery. No more. I still don’t know the details, but I know for instance one day that they’re on ‘Holiday’ they’re going to go on a boat trip, another they’re going to visit another town the other side of the island.

Right then I’ll leave you good people. If you’re doing ROW80, good luck with the last few days, if you’re not doing it, have a great week!

#ROW80 Check in – Sunday 12th June

My bedroom clock says 0.00 Monday, but my mobile says 11.57, so I’m not late, ha ha!

I’m not doing great, but I’m not doing too badly. Although that’s only because of today. This morning I managed 540 words – almost double my daily goal. However I’d done nothing since my last check in on Wednesday – the check where I realised if I hit my target of 300 words a day I’ll get 4k+ by the end of this round of ROW80.

Although on this mini goal I’m now 700 words behind, I’m determined I’m going to do it. I started a story for Fiction Friday last week, and I worked more on it earlier today, and I’m feeling quite into it, so I’m going to keep at it for a while. I don’t think it will go anywhere as there’s not really a good enough story line, but it’s an experiment in creating sexual tension, and a couple getting together for the first time. I know I need more of this in Italian Infatuation so I think this is really useful to do.

I also had a bit of a realisation today – I want to work more on ‘Holiday.’ ‘Holiday’ is another novel I’m working on, that I actually started writing well over 2 years ago – it’s just slow going. Having said that, I have high hopes for it, I love the story idea and think it will make a brilliant novel. When I get finish it. Oh, and change the title to something I actually like – ‘Holiday’ is definitely a working title!

The thing that has been putting me off it is that I’ve got so many bitty bits of it that I don’t know what to write, when. When I did Italian Infatuation and The Dating Project for NaNoWriMo 2009 and 2010 respectively I did them chronologically so I knew where I was at all times. ‘Holiday’ scares me because I don’t have a clue.

I really didn’t think this was a good way of writing, but at the time I was writing things as they came in my head, or later on when I knew how the story would shape up, as they interested me. When I met Chrissie Manby a few weeks ago at the Girl’s Night In at Brixton Library she said that she writes like that – in a random order. There’s something comforting knowing that someone has had success writing this way – it’s inspiring.

So, at some point in the very near future, I’m going to get out my old laptop and look at ‘Holiday,’ see where it is and where I need to go, and work on it a little more. I’m determined I’m going to get a pattern together in my life where I write and edit, oh, and work on my writing course.

It won’t be tomorrow though, tomorrow I’m going to make an appearance at the writing group I joined a few months ago, but that I have only been to twice. Go me!

2011 Draft Goals

I feel like I need some goals for the year. I’ve not really had a chance to think about them though, so I thought I’d have a rambling blog thinking about it as I write.

Fiction Friday: This is something I really enjoyed doing most of last year. If you’ve not seen it before it’s over at Write Anything. Every week they give you a prompt and you write for at least five minutes from it. Last year, it was pretty much doing this every week that taught me how to write short stories. Honestly. Before I started ‘playing’ I couldn’t comprehend how to get a whole story in a few hundred/thousand words. My entries started as a snap shot of a much bigger story. After a while I found I was completing whole stories.

Fiction Friday used to make sure I wrote at least once a week. For half the year that was pretty much all I was writing, which is why I’m really keen to carry on with it this year. Although, I’d like to write a lot more than once a week this year.

Blogging: Last year I got so into blogging. I loved it. Then I got a new job where I couldn’t write during work time. Suddenly my blogging stopped. I miss it, but haven’t found a routine that gets it back in my life. I need to find that, whether it’s a couple of days a week during my lunch break, a couple of evenings a week which I dedicate to it, or a mix of both. Maybe even at weekends. I HAVE to get back into it. Hopefully if I do, it will be another thing to inspire me to write – I can’t write a writing blog if I’ve nothing to write about. Right?

Editing: I feel like this year should be the year I learn to love editing. Or if not love it, tolerate it. I think the only things I’ve ever edited are two stories I used for magazine submissions, and my writing course work. I’ve one finished novel that needs editing, and two half written that will, at some point, need editing.

Last year I had a plan to write a story each week (unedited) for Fiction Friday, then the following week, edit it and submit it to #FridayFlash (a Twitter thing where you post edited stories) on the Friday. I think that’s a good plan to get me into the editing frame of mind.

Writing Course: I had totally forgotten I was doing a writing course until Stephen King mentioned writing courses in On Writing. On the tube this morning I tried to remember how far I’ve got on it, but I can’t. At all. I need to work on this more this year. I’ve now been doing it for nearly 2 years, and I’m not even quarter of the way though. That is disgraceful. I HAVE to work on it this year!

Website: I happen to know someone who knows someone who creates websites for a living. And apparently would be quite happy to design a website for me. I like using WordPress, but I’m quite into the idea of having my own website – under my real name. There’s a way of linking WordPress to another website, so I’ll do that.

Get Published: Ok, so I’m cheating on this one, I am going to get something published on a website – a short story I wrote last year. It’s a first step, it’s quite  a new website, for chick lit short stories, but regardless of how new it is, I’m getting a story published. That’s cool. And a great start to the year. A great enough start that it’s going to push me to sub more stories.

Finish a novel or two: I’ve got two unfinished novels. Two unfinished novels that I want to do something with. I’ve been writing ‘Holiday’ for about two years (longer if you count the year or so it was floating round my head) and I started The Dating Project for NaNo last November. I can’t get to the end of next year and still have them unfinished. I feel this year is also the year I find a better name for ‘Holiday.’

Join a Writing Group: I’ve been wanting to do this since I started this blog and writing properly(nearly two years ago) but have always had a reason not to do it – fear, lack of time, working hours etc. THIS year I’m going to do it. No excuses or reasons not to.

Write another novel: I’ve taken part in NaNoWriMo twice now, and ‘won’ twice. That means I’m going to have to do it again. 50,000 words, 30 days, November. Bring it on.

Read some books: I’m doing a Mystery & Suspense Challenge 2011. The challenge is to read 12 Mystery or suspense books in the year. So that’s 12. I want to read much, much more than that though. Last year I read 45. That’s so much better than the 17 the year before!

So there we have it. My ideas of what I could have as goals for the year. I’m going to have a think through about them then make some definitive goals by the end of the week.

I do have a problem though. I always only feel like I can only have one project on the go i.e. only work on my writing course, or only write a novel, or only edit a novel (the last one being hypothetical as I’ve never actually done that). Which means I need to decide what to do and when. And focus on that. I guess this goes back to setting writing time for myself.

Right, I’ll be back soon(ish) with some goals. Eek!