Tag Archives: editing

Good Health

I realised the other day that I’ve not blogged for a while discussing mental health. There are two reasons for this. The first is simply that I have been busy, as my last post says. The second thing is that, honestly, my mental health has been really good. I’ve had to work at it, and it’s taking time. But I’m in a good place.

It’s odd how when our mental health is good, we don’t notice it. But after the Harrogate festival I’ve seen a fair number of attendees say they have, unfortunately, contracted covid. These people have my sympathy, because my understanding is that covid’s not nice.

Oddly, no one in my household has contracted covid at any point since its first arrival in the country. We have gone through the usual testing processes, especially as my husband and daughter worked throughout the pandemic. I did too, but was working from home.

We tend to put this good health down to good luck.

I’m also aware that poor mental health can have a serious and negative effect on the immune system. I’m not suggesting that those who picked up covid are suffering poor mental health, some might be, some might not, I have no evidence either way. I’m saying that my physical health is currently good. I’m a woman of a certain age, so there are issues, but nothing major. Given what I have been through the last few years, I am glad to say that for the last few months, probably a year now, my mental health has been good. I’m very grateful for this.

I love doing what I do now.

I love writing. I love editing. I’m grateful for the opportunity to read books I might not otherwise see, and I hope that I help other authors. And even though it’s a lot of work, I love helping organise the Gŵyl CRIME CYMRU Festival.

This blog is really to say that we should all celebrate the small stuff and acknowledge the good. Cheering the good is much better than bemoaning the bad. It’s good to have good mental health, and I appreciate being in that fortunate position.

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Two Hectic Months!

Just a little bit of my white board.

Sometimes I wonder if I get anything done, then I have a couple of months like the last two and I wonder how I’ve kept up. June and July have been totally hectic!

In the last two months I have written 4 short stories, completed 3 editing commissions, been part of 4 writing events and several committee meetings, made 3 agent submissions, created a new blog, post on 3 different blogs, figured out a new ending for a book, and been as active as I could be on social media.

I wrote all the four short stories for submissions to an anthology, the shortest one is 6k, longest 10k. To be honest, two of these may not make it to anthologies, and go instead to collections of my own, maybe even reader magnets for joining my newsletter. Honestly, I don’t know but I have until the end of September to decide.

I love editing and helping authors with their work, and what I really love about this is that I get to read books I might not otherwise see. I’m also really blessed this last two months as all three books, while very different, were well written and enjoyable to read.

The writing events I’ve attended have taken a huge range of formats. During the PWA Crime Writing Week, I picked up some great tips. I chaired the CWA/Diamond Crime online event for National Crime Reading Month in which I interviewed Jaqueline Harret, Gwyneth Steddy, and Thorne Moore. I attended the Waterstones author evening with Philip Gwynne Jones for “The Angels of Venice”, which was a fun evening. And I was at Harrogate Crime Festival which led to the agents, see my last blog.

Committee Meetings have been for the Gŵyl Crime Cymru Festival which is shaping up nicely.

Agent Submissions are the three I secured at Harrogate, and I really hope that something comes of that.

I’ve started a new blog for steampunk, Shades of Aether, which I’ve already put nine blogs on, and schedule the next. Then there’s the Crime Blog, and of course this one.

The new ending is for the next Elaine Blake book. Because of the situation in Ukraine, I’ve been asked to move the action away from there, for obvious reasons. I selected the new location quickly. What’s taken a lot more brain power was how the characters and action will play out in that new location because it can’t be a simple case of changing the city name and leaving it as it. I’ve got the storyline sorted now, so it’s just a case of writing it now.

And of course, social media gets a mention because it’s something we all do. I admit I could be more active here, but there are only so many hours in a day. 

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Month 1

My new notebook for my new novel – let’s hope the wording is prophetic

Like a lot of times when you reach a milestone, it’s time to celebrate and take stock.  I sat down this evening and felt like I haven’t done anything.

But that’s not true.

Over January, I completed an editing commission, I finished editing my own latest novel, and I completed dry January, though in all honesty, I’m also looking forward to having a drink next week.

But I also managed to read seven books.  I don’t think I’ve every read that many books in a month before. 

I’ve also achieved a fair bit this weekend. I read one whole book in the last two days.  Ata 225 pages, okay, not the longest, but still a whole book. I also managed to read the first “Book” of the Iliad.  That is one dense read! There are 24 books within the Iliad, doubt I’ll get through that whole tome in a month let alone a weekend. 

I also did two things this weekend that have really helped my mental health.  Firstly, I dressed properly, not just dressed – I do that every day.  But it was that I dressed in smart(ish) clothes. Including an actual skirt.  I can’t remember the last time I wore an actual skirt.

The second thing I did, yesterday, was that I started writing a new book.  I had got out a new notebook, and I started writing.  I got the notebook because I was in pain in my left hand and I couldn’t face typing then (clearly better today).  So I wrote, and I wrote 21 pages long hand, more than that – I am LOVING this story.

Today, I also spent a far amount of time tidying up my website and my blogs, yes, blogs, not just this one, by my crime writing blog, too.  I put out a call to other crime writers, and many of them have agreed to do blogs for me, which is fabulous, and I can’t wait to learn more of my follow wordsmiths.

So yeah, a good month, I’m pleased with what I’ve accomplished and I’m hoping that it’s a sign of how the rest of the year will go.

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Overused

Am in that part of the editing process where I’m totally happy with the story, and just have to do a lot of work on individual sentences – the copy editing stage. 

This is a stage that I would usually tell authors that they can’t do terribly effectively themselves.  And I do think that’s true, and I will be sending the manuscript on to an editor in due course.  In the mean time I’m putting the book chapter by chapter through an automated checker.

What this shows is that I have a real issue with overused words like “was/were” and “could”, and the other frequent flyers are “think/believe” and “feel/felt”.  Most of the time I find ways to rewrite a sentence to remove many of these instances.

Only this book is proving a problem.  The story is a thriller told from two points of view, for the first half of the book, the characters are separate, and they have lots of questions.  Questions about each other and what they are doing and what they are capable of doing.  So there’s a lot of lines like, “Was he doing this?” or “Could she do that?”

What this means is that I am doing everything I can to reduce numbers in line with the program, but I’m just not getting there in some cases.  Still, the thing to remember is that these program have been written against rules.  Rules for general purposes, there will be times when those rules have to be broken and in a story of questions, was and could will be more used than in most scripts, I’m not going to knock myself out with it.

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Virtual Festival

Today, I have been largely at a literary festival.

I know, we’re not supposed to go anywhere, and I didn’t, it was all on-line.  Me and a load of other writers getting together thanks to Showboat TV and talking about our writing.  And in my case my editing too.

We’re talking about our books, old and new, and reading segments of the book.  It made me think that I should read a snippet of each of my books and stick them on my website too, but to do that I’d actually have to listen to me and that is so cringe-worthy I’m not sure I could.

With lockdown, I’m actually finding that there are advantages to on-line literary festivals.  For a start, I don’t have to travel.  Now don’t get me wrong – I LOVE travelling, but it takes up a lot of time, can be uncomfortable and stressful.  It means staying in places you don’t know and buying food you can’t be certain of.

On-line means I only have to travel from one end of the house to the other – and it really isn’t that big a house. I get the comfort of my own chair, let alone my own bed at night, and I can have whatever food I want.  Today I made a jambalaya and it was lovely – and it meant that the place smelt great for the afternoon when I did the second slot.

More importantly, it meant that I got to met up with some old writer pals I’ve not seen in ages because we usually met up at festivals and book fairs and of course, we haven’t had any of those for a year.

So if you’d like to hear what’s going on with writing in Wales, check out www.showboat.tv as they will be putting recordings of the day up on their site.  See how we writers can put words on the page, but can’t always read them out.  😉

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Writer Editor

Writers don’t write as much as they edit.

It’s a odd statement but it’s also true. When I’m really writing, I’m basically spewing the story out onto the page.  I love that part, constantly playing a game of what if, knowing that I have to get these people to do certain things and then wondering why they don’t do them, and trying to figure out how to get them back on track.

But after the story is down, there’s still so much work to do.  The editing.  I reckon I take 4 to 5 times longer to get a book edited than to write the thing in the first place.  The editing is all about getting the story right. Making sure that it flows, is sensible and everything works.  It’s polishing the sentence structure and ensuring that the correct character does what they need to when they need to do it.

Then it’s running through the various writing checkers for spelling and grammar and all the other technicalities.  Only then can you send the manuscript out.

And it it’s accepted, it will invariably come back with more edits to do. Writers write, but they spend an awful lot of time editing too.

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Back to Work

The day after Boxing Day, and already we’re discussing when to take the Christmas Trees down. Yes, trees, plural, we have two up in the house.

Today I “went back to work”.  This isn’t as bad as it sounds since I’m now self-employed.  Even when I had a office job, I quite liked working between Christmas and New Year because it meant most people weren’t in and I could get stuff done, always a great time for getting the filing up to date.

Work today basically meant that I sat down and drafted an on-spec article, then downloaded the edit just returned to me from my structural editor, and started on the updates.  

This has actually been fantastic for me, it has a purpose that has cleared my head and started me out of the depression that hit over Christmas.  My editor is always kind, but he doesn’t let me get away with anything!  There aren’t major changes to make, but it’s detail all the way, which I kind of like.

Anyway, that’s enough for now, enjoy your time till the New Year.

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Finishing

Today I have been mostly finishing stuff.

I finished the washing, and got it out on the line, were if mostly dried.  There were a few bits that needed 20 mins in the tumble drying, but air drying is my preference where possible.  Of course, now I have a pile of ironing that I haven’t even started. I finished typing up my notes for book 5.  I finished the edits on one of my Locked Books from the proof-reader.  All I have to do now is make it available – one of the more useful things about self publishing, it’s easy to change the text if necessary.

It was such a nice day that I got to spend a fair amount of time sitting in the garden. Which was really pleasant, except that the neighbours had their radio on too loud and their choice of radio station is certainly not mine. It annoyed me so much that I ended up coming in just to be aware from it.  Though in all honesty it was also starting to turn cold, so I wouldn’t have lingered much longer anyway.

In a complete change of direction, jeans are a difficult thing to find with a decent fit, but yesterday I took a chance on buying a new pair from Tesco.  Today I’ve worn them all day, and they are so comfortable.  It’s lovely to find a pair of jeans that fit properly and comfortably.  The fact that they didn’t cost a fortune is also a good thing.

Right well, up for a movie night now. Aliens.  Got my pop. Got my popcorn.  Got my feet up.  That’s all now.

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Pruning

A bit better day today.  Had a bit of a lie in, got up about half nine, which is at least and hour and a half too late.

But I got properly dressed, I took my supplements, and I got a few things done. This included finishing an edit – that is a good book.  And I managed to have some discussions that I needed to sort this week, writing related not work related. 

It was a beautiful day outside so I spent a little time in the garden (in the shade to avoid any more sunburn, and I did some further work on the plot for the next book in the steampunk series and even wrote a few pages. A few actual pages that in, as in in a notebook written with a pen. Haven’t done that for a while.

Even got some pottering in the garden done. We have a hydrangea bush in the back garden that I didn’t cut back last year (I’m not a great gardener). So I cut back the dead heads and that’s revealed just how good and green the new leaves are looking.  Will look brilliant when the flowers kick in.  Must make sure I prune it after flowers this year.

Have been beating myself up again because of my weight, I really need to diet and exercise more, but seem to be missing the drive for it. This is the stuff that I have to stop, it’s so self-destructive. I hate myself for being fat, I get too down to exercise, I eat and get fatter. A true downward spiral.  Maybe tomorrow I can do something about that. Hopefully.

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