Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Sushi, Anti-Woo, Shadows and New Hair.

Happy Christmas-ish!
Admittedly it's a bit late, but I hope it found you and yours well.
Here is some (not remotely) festive sushi for your delight:

We made it just before Xmas, and now I wish only to eat things coated with rice and seaweed!

Writing-wise, the plan had been (as the plan always is) to use the hols productively and, having finished the plan of the novel (previously titled Destined, for want of a better one) I started the first draft! Woo!

Then, 300 words in, it didn't feel right. Anti-Woo. I get this thing with openers where if the feel isn't right I can't get into the other 70,000. My opener, despite (or perhaps because of) being heavily planned, didn't feel right. I know I can go back and edit it, but it just wasn't working for me.

For a few days I sort of mooched around and considered my skeleton manuscript, and I realised didn't particularly like it. I think this is one of the virtues of planning - I realise now I don't like it, rather than 200 hours in! I love my starting concept for it, and really want to tell a story based around it, but the one I'd gone with had turned out a bit... flat. Dull. Lifeless. (like my previous hair, hehe - more on THAT later!)

I took a while and tried to remember what it was that had excited me when I started planning this, a good few months ago now. I wanted something atmospheric and slightly gothic, while sticking to the Regency era. I'd also like it to be quite funny. Jury's out on that one:p

I think that now, after a few days of re-jigging I'm almost ready to start again. Still a few notes and things to iron out, but I've added a few more dimensions to it, and (hopefully) beefed up my lacklustre hero and heroine and made them a bit more... kick-ass. It's re-ignited my enthusiasm for the story, and I can't wait to start it.

Changes made, new working title is something along the lines of His Wicked Shadow, or Shadow or something. While I've read that it's considered a massive faux pas to send manuscript submissions complete with covers, I don't see a problem with a bit of concept art for my blog! I'm itching to do a few pics of my heroine, and if they work (I'm a bit rusty) I'll pop them up here in the coming... time.

In other news, what with the new year being all about change and moving forward and whatnot, a fortnight ago I bit the bullet and finally got the chop. I've had a shortish bob for the past year or so, but have been hankering after an elfin crop for some time. Now it's done.... I love it. My fears of looking like a man were unjustified (I reckon!), as were my concerns it would make my head look too small. My head is just as big as ever XD

Happy New Year!

Friday, 17 December 2010

In Which I Stop Whining and Start Working.

OK, so that last post might have come across as a bit emo. Many thanks to the lovely people who wrote comments, by the way. I didn't mean it to be whiny or so *I AM CRAP* but I guess that's how it came across.

On the whole, I'm hopeful. I've learnt a lot and some of it, as has been pointed out to me, will be useless rubbish I can disregard. Other bits should be useful and help me along. The main thrust I was going for was that it's good to be more prepared, and I feel like maybe I am.

I think there's a fine line to tread between thinking you're the best thing since sliced bread (watch out world, I'm-a-coming) and being so hypercritical of your work that nothing you do will make it past the first sentence because you're never happy with the wording you've already edited twelve times.

I'm still working on the planning of the new(ish) story. Not sure what to call it. A novel? Manuscript? Collection of words?:p 'Book' seems like tempting fate.

I started off by following the Snowflake Method but have drifted off from that. The ideas are the same but my structure isn't so rigid. Having done the first 3 or 4 steps of the snowflake method and having met my characters and decided their quirks and back stories, I wrote down what I wanted to happen in the *collection of words* in some detail before dividing it up into chapters.

I've read a lot about cliff-hangers and page-turners, and so I've tried to chapter appropriately to maximize the *what-happens-next* factor. Following that, I've basically beefed it out a bit, deciding on locations, adding details, choosing points of view and so on. Most importantly, I've tried to make it make sense!

When it comes to starting my first draft, I (hopefully!) shouldn't come across anything too tricky or writers' block inducing. I'm finding it really helpful. Fundamental parts of the plot have changed and all I've had to do is erase or move a few sentences rather than re-writing a few thousand words (or not bothering and just putting up with it, as has happened before!)

Next on the to do list is adding more and more details and notes in. I like planning, I like knowing what's happening and where I'm going, and I like structure. While there should still be enough room for the plot to grow organically, this should be a massive help!

Friday, 10 December 2010

Disheartened and Disillusioned*, or Why My Writing Sucks.

Note, this post contains asterisks. Not necessarily because I think you'll need them, I just LOVE asterisks.

Because nothing grabs you like an Austen (or indeed, Black Adder!) style title. But Katherine, why so D&D*? Well, I've spent some many, many hours reading book blogs by editors, agents, writers, and interns and holy crap, it's depressing.

They say it pays to find out about the industry before you try to enter it, and I can see why. I am now D&D-ingly wondering how many agents laughed at the friendly postcards I naively sent out almost two years ago when I was just a young fool with dreams and a knowledge of how to approach art editors (lesson one, we learned, postcards) and thought 'Hey, I could do that for books! Nobody will have seen it before and I will immediately have a book deal!'

Needless to say, here I am, a receptionist. Many thanks to the kind and lovely agents who actually took the time to look at my website though before saying they weren't interested.

I tried NaNoWriMo but it led to un-editable tales of incest. I tried writing a serial but I ran out of ideas and ended up with some too-serious and badly planned dross that might be salvageable but I'm not sure I'll bother.

And don't get me started on my first full length manuscript, written sporadically between ages 18 and 20. This rambling draft switched between solemn acres of description and fluffy, light-hearted attempts at misplaced humour. The sort of thing that, if you could visit your younger self, you'd give them a slap for.

Regular readers (Hi, Ma!) will know I've recently started my fourth** attempt at something novel-length and readable and am trying it the meticulously planned and researched way, rather than the slap-dash and stupid way I have previously favoured. Part of this research is finding out as much as I can about the industry. I've realised it's not just the craft of writing a book that's important, it's approaching an agent or publisher, too.

If you've never researched any of this, and are as clueless as I once was (and really, still am), DO IT, DO IT NOW. I can't begin to tell you how much I've read that points out that what you see as going against convention is seen by others as unreadable and irritating. (hides manuscripts and postcards under the bed)

It seems to me that the publishing industry is much like every other. If you're professional and GOOD at your job, you'll do well. Thing is, you never know if you're any good until you try.

Disheartening though it is and has been, and ashamed as I am of my past work, not only do I know it's bad but I know not to do that again. As much as I cringe at my naivety, at least I'm further on now than I ever have been. Better equipped to write a book, even if it still isn't much good.

Having read a range of opinion from successful and lovely writers and agents, as well as from some not so lovely, jaded people, it seems there's no formula for doing well. This is the plan of action I've formed based on all I've read:

Once you've honed your manuscript to perfection, get someone unbiased to read it, then rewrite, rewrite and rewrite. Even though you've poured months/years of your life into this, you have to be disconnected and able to accept criticism.

Now it's honed to perfection again, start approaching specially selected agents using a killer query letter that's professional, grammatically correct and doesn't mention the phrases 'will change your career' or 'bigger than Harry Potter'.

Cross your fingers and wait. Hope you're as good as you were that time you dreamed you were on the local news telling Harry Gration about the film adaptation. If you're not, or they don't like it, consider re-editing, and try again. If you realise you're flogging a dead horse, move on, learn and try again.

Hmm, simple. So yeah, that's my plan. I may well waste years of my life pursuing this, but heck, it's worth a good go.

Good sites I've learned a lot from are Bubble Cow, Pimp My Novel and Jody Hedlund's blog. Of course, there's loads of info out there, but they seem a good place to start.

Katherine out.

** ok, make that eighth

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Advent Ups and Downs.

Yay, it's Advent! Which, since I'm on holiday this week means it's been tree time! It's mine and Mr Dishington's first Christmas in a house (well, shoebox-sized flat) on our own so we've got our first tree!
It's only a tiddler but it's full:) We managed to get a 4ft tree and outfit it for less than 20 quid so I'm really pleased with it. As well as baubles, it's hung with some tiny string ninjas we won last year from a 2p machine in Mablethorpe. In lieu of an angel, Mr D made us a gothic paper... thing? I'm hesitant to say angel, perhaps it's a demon? Either way, I'm really impressed!
Other news; sad stuff first. I've handed my notice in to Ape on the Moon. I'm still working there for the next week or so but unfortunately doing that on top of working full time and everything else was a bit too much. I've had a lovely time working there, and really enjoyed chatting to all the illustrators.

Good news, my short story, 'Pixie' has been published on Ether Books on the i-Platforms (Pad, Pod and Phone) and can be bought for 59p! I'm number 11 on the in-app best seller list, please help me make top ten! The app can be bought for free through i-tunes here:

There are loads of really good short stories on there, great for a quick read on a long journey when you've forgotten your book!

I've been doing some (lots of!) research on writing recently, and found an absolutely brilliant book I'd recommend to anyone. It's 'How Not to Write a Novel', and is basically written from the point of view that you don't want to be published ever, and if you follow these instructions, you never will. Very funny, highly recommended.

Any other good 'craft of writing' book recommendations? I'm after as much info as possible! I've found quite a few really good blogs as well, I'll hopefully link those another time. Suggestions gladly received:)

I'm putting a lot of effort into planning this new story I'm working on (working title, Destined, for want of a better one) and I feel I'm learning a lot about craft and plot and basically, good writing. Hopefully I can take it all in and use it to make my work better!

Until next time, over and out.