Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Isayitallthetimebutit'strueIpromise

I am actually busy. That busy I seemed to be before? Positive slacking. You call that busy? THIS is busy!

And that's my excuse for being a lax blogger. I like blogging. I intend to blog, but unfortunately blogging is never as important as the massive, pressing enormous *whatever* that always pushes blogging out of the way and elbows it in the face.

Previously it was writing and editing, and for the past month, it's been Christmas. I've bought all but one of my presents. Why? Because I am the Queen of Christmas, that's why. Trees? DONE. Christmas Cards? DONE. Wrapping? DONE (mostly...) My Christmas preparation has been akin to Gordon Ramsey cooking: Lots of banging about and swearing, but ultimately, RESULT.

So yay, now all that's done, I can chill out and get on with the new nov-

What's that? An online web design course? Like I wanted to do? On offer? Must be started this month and completed in a year? Oh alright, go on then.

So yeah. This is what's happening. Web Design is something I've wanted to get into for a while, that I already have skills in, and is a real, viable career option, unlike *cough* being a receptionist. Frankly, I'm already at the pinnacle of my reception career.

So the writing is on the back seat, AGAIN. I need to make a success of this course, or it looks like I'll be answering phones forever.

I've set myself up a strict timetable and I've a set amount of work to do per week, so realistically, I should be able dip in and out of the writing, for the sake of the soul. I love it, I can't give it up entirely.

So there we are. I'm still gunna try blog though. And it'd be a bit lame of me to be a web designer without a website...

Katherine out.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

The Post-It Wall of Doom

I've been procrastinating a lot lately. Hell, I'm procrastinating now! But I'm at the stage of starting a new WIP which involves a lot of thought.

I had this idea, and I liked it so much I gave it priority over an idea I'd been gestating (gorgeously gross word) for a few months. I've sorted my premise, planned and named my characters, and started getting to know them. I've got the beginning and the end, and then I realised... I have no middle. I am essentially plot less. Pants.

Or not pants. I refuse to write this one pantser-style. Plotting worked too well last time, and so that's what I'm doing. Or, not doing, as it happens. In my defence, I have actually been busy, a bit, but that doesn't stop the nagging guilt. So yesterday I bought myself a nice new pack of Post-It notes, and picked a blank wall.

After about an hour it became clear that yes, I do have plot holes. Massive plot holes. Boyfriend expressed concern the chosen wall would be too small. Not currently a problem. But hey, my thoughts are organised now. I decided the situation required deep thought, and took me and my tired self to bed.

I seem to have got into this habit of not being able to sleep until after midnight. It's like my body knows mornings are rubbish and is encouraging me to enjoy the night. NOT HELPFUL, BODY. But concerned as I was by the acres of white space on my Post-It wall, I used this time to think about my plot. And boy did I think. I had a break through. A renaissance. A bolt of inspiration. It was brilliant, perfect, and oh, so simple.

Then I fell asleep. And now I can't remember any of it.

Bugger.

So here we are. No further on, and twice as cheesed off. But on the plus side, while I was procrastinating the other day, I drew this picture of Lady Jane Grey. So there's that.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Here we go again...

It's been ages since I actually wrote anything. Not like blogs (although that has been lengthy) or tweets or whatever, but it's been months since I actually worked on a manuscript. My previous WiP has kept me busy with all the things WiPs do keep you busy with once the actual words are down and polished, but now, finally, the time has come to start work on my new WiP.

Part of me wants to start scribbling straight away, perhaps take advantage of NaNoWriMo and get 50k down as soon as possible. But it was a younger Katherine who wrote like that, and I would have learned nothing from the past year of work if I did that. I ain't a pantser - that much is certain. So I'm planning and plotting, and the last time I did that seems so long ago, it's like learning how to do it all over again. That's not a bad thing, though. All being well, I intend to be ready to start getting words down at the beginning of the next month, and I can't wait!

So that's exciting. Really exciting, actually. And while the past year has had its stresses and pains, I think it's only underlined that this is what I want to do. Which is handy.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Happy 100th Post!

So apparently it's my 100th post. Fancy that! I remember when this blog was little more than a cheeky gleam in Blogger's eye. But what to do to celebrate such a milestone? I could have a contest - but for that I'd need a)prizes and b)competitors, and that just seems like a lot of work. I could do a look-back over blog posts of the past, perhaps compiling a hall of fame or sighing, doe-eyed over happy memories, reliving the highs and lows of the past 2 years. But that seems kinda lame. If I don't care about it, I sure as hell doubt anyone else will.

So I guess I'll just do nothing. Except continue posting in the style to which we've become accustomed; I'm guna have a little moan and give out some useless info, as well as possibly mentioning cake at some point. ON WITH THE SHOW!

I know, I know, I've been pretty quiet on the blog front over the past few months. Shut up, I've been busy. I finished my WiP, polished my WiP, agonised over query letters, trawled through conflicting blogs and websites for some sort of set of rules, re-wrote, re-wrote again, despaired, and finally accepted that this was the best it was guna get. Then I moved on to my synopsis. That was three weeks ago. I still haven't finished it. WHY IS IT SO HARD?

But everyone thinks it's hard, and after masses of procrastination and whining I've finally got on with it, and have a draft that still needs a lot of polishing, but is at least better than the blank page I was sighing over.

I've written synopsises (synopses? synopsi?) for stuff in the past and I just rattled them out. Let's just chalk that up on the list of 'Mistakes Katherine Made When She Was Slightly Younger and Slightly More Stupid'. While my new, improved synopsis skills are still untested, at least I'm putting about 100x more effort in. I guess the proof of the pudding will be in the tasting.

Another reason I've been quiet is because I've had a lot of *what-am-I-doing-with-my-life* introspection and all sorts of teeny emo whining and moping about going on. I'm sorted now. I think sometimes you just need to get a bit emo to get your life in order and make sure you're going in the right direction. There's stuff in the works, put it that way, which should make this blog a bit more interesting and make me more productive and STUFF.

So that's what's been happening. Aren't you glad I didn't blog that, angsty second by angsty second, and spam it onto twitter and facebook? Of course you are. Don't say I'm not good to you. I so totally am.

PS, my Mum made Mr D a choc/mint birthday cake. ITWASAWESOME. There. Now I've moaned, given you useless info, and mentioned cake. My work here is done.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Sites and Such

It occurs to me that I haven't blogged for a while. At first I was busy, working on finishing some number draft on my WiP to send to Beta readers, then I read Harry Potter right through. I've never read it before. It was great. I'll stop now before I gush.

Once I'd finished HP, I did some beta reading myself, which was superfun. Now I'm starting to get reader comments on my WiP back, and am gearing up for the next round of edits. It's all very exciting. It feels like it's all coming together, and the last however many months I spent writing this thing were perhaps not a waste of time.

But all in all, not that much to blog about. So in lieu of anything interesting from me, here are some websites I like. Not just writing websites, but just good, nice, informative, handy sites. I've been meaning to do a rundown for a while, but never got round to it. Hold on to your hats, and click the site name for links.

  • Bakerella - I love cake. Love it. My mum makes the most amazing buns and cupcakes, so I get a good supply and yet that still isn't enough. Take a look at the cakes on Bakerella. The cake pops, the cupcakes, the pies, the brownies... I can wait...


  • The Fashionable Past - I used to sew a lot, and in the back of my mind there were always hazy, unformed plans to make costumes. But this Katherine actually does it, and I've found her blog an invaluable reference for clothing details in my writing.


  • BeBaroque - TIGHTS. That is all. This is on my *thingstobuywheni'mrich* list.

  • Query Shark - A writing site! Invaluable info on writing query letters. Depressing and inspiring all at the same time, just like writing... Worth reading the entire site.


  • Dropbox - Even after my previous mess-up, I still didn't learn the lesson of accidentally saving over the wrong file. Dropbox takes the risk out of it, and means my files are available on any computer I use as well as my iphone. Even if my computer crashes or I lose my memory stick, I still have access. PHEW. Highly recommended.

Any sites you'd recommend?


Saturday, 2 July 2011

In Which I Effectively Undermine a Day of Win

When I'm working on the WiP, I keep it on my memory stick and then dock a copy on whatever computer I'm working on. Once I've finished for the day I put it back on the memory stick, leaving a copy on the computer, effectively backing it up, should the worst occur. So far, so smug. See my back-up system, and weep in awe. What could go wrong? Myself and my memory stick are awesome.

I've been feeling a little scared about working on draft 2 of the WiP. The fun, free-flowing nature of writing an anything-goes first draft is over, ahead lies only pain. But after a few weeks of procrastinating and working on minor edits etc, yesterday I bit the bullet, and started working on extra scenes.

Once I got into it, it worked out pretty well, and I've sort of picked up the joy of the writing once more. It's exciting to make it better, and to try and tell the story the way I feel it should be told. This is the bit I love about writing, and so I've been pretty buoyed about it since yesterday.

Note the joy, people.

It's my birthday next week, so in preparation, I've been all over the supermarket deals on cider. Now it's summer, there are loads of deals on booze, and PURELY IN THE INTEREST OF SAVING MONEY AND NOT BECAUSE I'M AN ALCOHOLIC, Mr D and I were delighted to find 40 cans of Strongbow for but £22 in Sainsburys. Hella awesome, if a little tricky to carry home on foot. Nonetheless, we prevailed! And now our fridge is full XD

Still further joy. And it's a Saturday, so I only got up at half 11. I know what you're thinking; Hell, Katherine, this day sounds super mega awesome! But wait, there's more!

I then got an email from the National Lottery, alerting me to some potential winnings. I bought a lottery ticket for the Euro Millions draw on Friday. IMAGINE MY EXCITEMENT. A £136 million win? No, surely not. Well no, surely not. I won £2.60. But I'm not one to spit in the face of fate, and as such, woo! £2.60 is £2.60 and as such, that counts of a win.

I know, I know. And I had bourbons. I was bound to fall. Bound to. Life was too good.

In the spirit of happiness and new found wealth, I went on to my little netbook and seized the day, to continue with my WiP. Hang on... I'm sure my word count was higher. Why is my anchor word (The random word I use to mark my place so I can just search for it and jump straight in) missing?

I struggled for a while, then had a hissy fit. My new draft was missing. It was like I'd gone back in time. All the work I'd done over the previous day (2K, in total) was gone. I knew I'd saved it, and backed it up on the memory stick - where was it? It wasn't on my desktop, it wasn't on my memory stick. What the hell?

I considered magic, I considered government intervention. I considered memory loss and hallucination. Then it occurred to me. I'd worked off my memory stick, saved to my memory stick, then copied my old desktop file over the top. A wonderful scheme ruined by human error. My day full of win, no more.

Happily, there are people out there who cater for this sort of thing. I googled, and found http://www.pcinspector.de/default.htm who are very German, free, and very wonderful. PCInspector, I love you. I managed to recover my document (minus the first paragraph, for some reason, but happily that's saved on another computer) and recover an ounce of self respect. Alas, for my own stupidity. Be ye warned, no matter how wonderful your back-up system, you can balls it up entirely by your, or rather, my, stupidity.

I hang my head in shame.

Monday, 6 June 2011

First Draft....

... is... done?

Er, I think. I haven't been able to bring myself to re-read it yet. But yay!

I finished draft 1 (as it is now officially called) on Friday night, and now I don't have a clue what to do with myself. I've printed it out (all 207 double spaced sides) and hole punched it and put it in a ring binder and I've even bought a nice pack of coloured biros in preparation for editing.

I've been following the advice of the internet and I'm going to leave it alone for a while. Not sure how long that while will be, really. I might have a look at it next weekend if I'm feeling brave, but no sooner than that. And only leaving it a week is probably still too soon. Is there a magic number of days you can take to distance yourself without forgetting altogether?

But now I'm feeling at a bit of a loose end. Every spare evening or large chunk of time I've had for the past few months, the immediate answer to the "what shall I do?" question has been "I should probably write". Now, the world is my oyster and I JUST DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH MYSELF.

So I'm reading and planning a few bits here and there but... I miss it!

Thursday, 19 May 2011

My Blog's Not Dead...

...I'm just writing! Which is why I've not been blogging for about six weeks. The blog continues, it's just on hiatus while I work on my first draft. I've nearly done 55k! (not updated on sidebar at time of posting) So it's kind of taking all my free time at the moment:S I'm at the stage where I feel guilty of neglecting it if I work on anything else!

But I will be back in a few weeks when the first draft's complete:)

All the best,

Miss H x

Monday, 11 April 2011

Motivators and Such

So what with all the gigs and various things going on recently, it's been nice to have the past two weekends pretty much COMMITMENT FREE. I've slept in, stayed up late, and eaten my own body weight in microwave popcorn. This is the life, and I'm living it.

But I know what you're thinking. You're thinking 'Hey, Katherine, since you've had all this free time, have you used it profitably to get a massive spurt of work done on your WiP and caught up on the week or two you did nothing due to flu?"


To which I reply, quietly, 'Sorta.'


And 'sorta' pretty much sums it up. There was a massive, stay-up-stupidly-late-writing session the weekend before last where I burned through a few extra thousand words above my target, then I spent almost the whole of last week doing nothing (except for playing New Super Mario Brothers) before I panicked and did most of the 5000 over last weekend.


I think that having the 5K/week target has really helped me just get words down, albeit words done in a rush on a Sunday. Along with that, having the progress bar on the side of the blog to update at the end of every week has made me want to do it in case people look at it AND JUDGE ME AND FIND ME WANTING. Paranoia is profitable, people.


Another motivator is knowing that Mr Dishington and A.B. Fenner know of my target and ask me about it. In order to avoid the shame of having to admit how lazy I've been I have to do the work!


It sounds like I don't enjoy writing, and I really do, but it's a constant battle with procrastination. The idea that if I don't do it, I won't have wasted my time if it turns out rubbish. So that's my three-tier system involving paranoia and guilt, and that's what gets me writing. I should probably go and do some more...

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Cemeteries and Such

Last weekend, having recovered (mostly) from the flu that struck me after my last post, Mr Dishington and I went to Sheffield to see a Sonata Arctica gig. It was pretty good, and I had fun, but that was all totally eclipsed the next day when we went and explored the old cemetery.

I don't wish to be morbid, and this won't be every one's cup of tea, but it must be the most beautiful cemetery I've ever seen. It's a glorious, Victorian Gothic pile, all tumbled stones and rampant ivy. With a derelict old chapel (Non-Conformist) and a petite yet equally derelict Church of England church, it mixes the Grecian with the medieval and is capped with green iron gates featuring the Ouroboros, the Egyptian symbol of eternity.

We explored for a while, and the grey day made it perfect. It was pretty inspirational for my WiP and the old company offices beside it had the same name as my heroine's surname; Montague. I took it as a good sign!

Speaking of writing, I didn't manage to do any while I was all flu-ed up, and completely missed my last 5K target. I did a lot of reading though, and decided I'm going to change the narration to first person. I'll continue my first draft as first person, but since I'm rewriting the beginning anyway, I'll keep that as third person for now.

It was a bit tricky to get into writing as a character and I found it a bit daunting. I wrote a few background pieces to try and get into the right voice, and wandered around talking to myself for a bit, but nothing got me into it as much as actually writing! With the knowledge of draft 2 at the back of my mind, I feel freer to experiment and just try stuff out, which is nice. Any tips out there for getting into character?

While I was out of action, so to speak, I managed to finish uploading my Zazzle products, and make buttons and links. There's a link at the top of the blog, as well as on my links page and home page. Feel free to take a meander and let me know what you think of the designs I've got up there, and if you have any suggestions!

Miss H.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Goals and Targets and Shops, Oh My!

So I've been laid a bit low recently, by a number of things. I'll not bore you with the details, but rest assured that none of them were all that bad, and I was just being a bit Eeyore with everything.

Nonetheless, spells like that are often quite good for giving me the kick up the backside I generally need to get things done, and as a result, I wrote A PLAN. This detailed the things I wanted to achieve this year, and a schedule of things to do to achieve them.

My writing output on my WiP was pitifully small, so I've set myself the target of 5000 words a week, with the goal of having finished the first draft by the 6th June. I've done 3500 ish words so far this week, so I'm well on the way to meeting my first target:) Feels so much better to be doing some actual work now!

Another goal was one I've been thinking about for a while. I've set up a store on Zazzle.com, which is a reader and writer gift shop. I'll be expanding the items in stock over time, but there are a few bits on there already:) As you can see, I'm sticking with the hand-drawn Times New Roman and ink splats!
I'll be linking to the store more comprehensively this weekend when I've created the buttons, but for now the shop can be accessed via the ad at the bottom of this page or this large word:

Take a look around, and let me know what you think!

Monday, 28 February 2011

Un-Tangling POVs and Characterization

Aaah, word play:) I went to see Tangled last week. I could say that as a storyteller, I am interested in any example of the craft, particularly in the romance genre, so felt duty bound to attend. But I'll be honest; it's a Disney fairy tale so I am ALL over it.

The good thing about the recent animated films rather than the older, classic Disneys is that they are dynamic enough to appeal to adults as well as children, without stooping to sly, rude humour. Not that I've anything against sly, rude humour, but it's a bit disappointing at times in a PG.

I've never been a big fan of the Rapunzel story. If the witch/whoever climbed up her hair to get in, why didn't she just do that to get out? It seemed a pretty big plot hole to me, and I've never really got past that. I mean I've already assumed she has ridiculously fast growing hair and very strong roots, but no brain either?

But I have faith in Hollywood story-telling, most particularly in cartoons, so I went in with an open mind and OH MY GOSH IT WAS BRILLIANT *gushes*

The Rapunzel-not-climbing-out-herself dilemma is beautifully resolved and the character is both likable and credible. The main source of awesomeness, though, is the hero.
Image source: Disney and here

Yeah, I'm going there. I'm trying to think of another Disney cartoon leading man with facial hair and I just can't. Flynn Rider, for tis he, is the result of much market research into what women like in a hero. And it's paid off, he's cocky but charming, confident but insecure, and, so far as cartoon characters go, pretty damned cute.

So that's...

  • Story - Great!
  • Characters - Great!
  • Humour - Funny!
  • Animation - So very Pretty!

So on the whole: GOSEEITGOSEEITNOWANDIWILLCOMEWITHYOU. XD

As it happens, all this male-centric characterisation has come at a good time, as I've FINALLY finished re-jigging my first 8000 words for my POV change. See, I wasn't just indulging in a Disney homage:p It's work, really!

It took me a good two weeks to change everything to third person heroine point of view, although I stress that wasn't two weeks SOLID and I have been a busy bunny (Tangled & My Chemical Romance won't watch themselves) but fiiiiiiinally, I'm up to date. I managed to get a few extra thousand words down this weekend, and have finally jumped the 10,000 word hurdle.

Considering it's taken me over a month to get that far, it doesn't bode well with my deadline for the first draft being July. Hopefully though, now the thorny POV and setting issues are sorted, I can steam on with the story proper:)

Monday, 14 February 2011

The POV Problem

AAARGH!

This is the point I am currently at with my WiP. Throughout the planning and drafting, I've had a consistent problem with Points Of View. There are two schools of thought for me on third person POVs in fiction and in my mind they are thus:

The Julia Quinn Method:

Pro: As and when needs be, for effect and good story telling, points of view can switch between hero and heroine. Mainly the POV tends to be the heroine's, but the reader gets an interesting glimpse into the thoughts of the hero, which often heightens dramatic effect and provides a well-rounded story.

Con: The story can jump around a bit, and if not handled well, can be confusing. Very difficult to add suspense if you know what every body's thinking.


The Victoria Holt Method:

Pro: Entirely from the heroine's POV, the story unfolds to the reader as it does to her. This can heap on the feeling of drama and climax, and add a great sense of mystery.

Con: She figured that out how? Or alternatively, how stupid is she? If your protagonist has to have it spelled out for her you are in danger of talking down to your reader, but if you don't reveal enough, she's some kind of super sleuth.


So that is my quandary, simplified so my brain doesn't burst. I have been writing using multiple POVs, but I'm having trouble... My hero has a secret that needs to stay secret, but it seems unlikely he'd never think about it during his POV time!

So I'm going to bite the bullet and re-write as single POV. It seems the best way forward, and at least I'm only 8500 words in...

Friday, 11 February 2011

Elinor and Epic Music

A few posts back I threatened to share some character art with you, and finally, here some is! I've done a bit of drawing here and there but nothing I've been particularly happy with, but this I like. There are a few issues with her dress swaggery and such, but nothing that can't be tidied up. The plan is to colour her in Photoshop and, you know, get rid of the lined paper in the background...

She was drawn as my heroine, Elinor, at what appears to be an unusually coy and quiet moment.
But we digress from the writing! This has been a problem recently, what with my almost constant deviations from the work I'm supposed to be doing. This in mind, and to give myself a much-needed kick up the backside, I have set the relatively modest word-count goal of 3K for this weekend.
I should probably get started then...
I leave you with a song I listened to as I walked home through the dark, damp streets of Leeds this evening. I FELT EPIC.

Monday, 31 January 2011

In Which a Valuable Lesson is Learned.

As an illustration student it was drilled into me that you must regularly save your work. Computers crash and discs and hard drives fail - save two copies, save three, save after every tiny edit on photoshop.

I've never lost work as an illustrator, and I've tried to take this lesson through to my writing. I work on my WIP in two different locations on two different machines, as well as occasionally on my phone. In order to have a constant, growing back up which I can access from anywhere, I've taken to writing on an email which I send to myself every few hundred words. This way, should both my computers blow up, and should I drop my phone down the toilet (It's almost happened! More than once!), I have copies in my sent emails as well as my inbox.

I've been using this method of backing up work for years, and it saved me when my computer crashed while editing my almost-complete dissertation and the only copy I could load up was the one I'd emailed myself an hour previously. Unfortunately though, I can't protect myself from my own stupidity.

There is nothing I can do to recover work I've spent half an hour working on, have highlighted to copy into word (to check my word count in the hope of a morale-boost), and accidentally pressed backspace instead of copy.

Lesson here: Don't be an idiot!

I spent a long, frenzied half hour trying to recover it but unfortunately it wasn't to be. I'd already copied it onto clipboard but having word-counted it I selected something else and copied over it. I rewrote most of it but it left me feeling both stupid and cross, so I gave up soon after. On the plus side though, it was only 471 words so it could have been much worse!

We live, we learn, and I shall be a lot more careful in future!

Another lesson I learnt this week was about wearing very smooth socks on tiled floors. The answer is resounding DON'T!

Painfully yours,

H x

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

First Draft Updates

You may recall my first draft and I haven't precisely been friends recently. It's very hard to be friends with something that doesn't actually exist...

So there was the worrying and the stressing and all that stuff, and then... I just started it. And it's going alright. It's a lot less scary now I've actually started and realised it doesn't have to be perfect straight away. Which is what I knew all along but heck, like I'd listen if I'd told myself that!

But hurrah! I'm going to write some more now:)

Friday, 14 January 2011

First Drafts are Scary.

So I've spent the last fortnight procrastinating and over-analysing and similar, and I think I'm finally ready to start my first draft. It's not like it's my child for heaven's sake, but I've been pulling my hair out about ruining the story (and not having a working toilet, but that's another matter entirely!) and not actually getting on with it.

I mean, I may well end up ruining it, but that's where a second draft comes in!

Is anyone else in this position too? It's scary at the beginning of an ms, and it seems like a giant mountain to climb. If you're about to start work, or have already begun and would like a buddy to share first draft highs and lows with, let me know! My email's in the contact tab:)

I've got this Sunday to myself so plan to knuckle down for good then, although hopefully once I press publish here I can finally bite the bullet and get a few words down!

And just because, here are some owls in love;)