Tag Archives: NaNoWriMo

NaNo Help

Like many thousands around the globe, I take part in NaNoWriMo. If you don’t know what that means, it’s an American-led scheme for encouraging creativity and literacy, it stands for National Novel Writing Month. Suspect most of you might have guessed that from the banner above.

The idea is that you write a 50k novel in one month – the main event is always November too. The ideal is that you write draft one of a novel, that way, to meet the 1,667 words a day average you need to reach the target, most writers have to just write, no editing or tidying up, you just bang out that first draft. Having said that I know one writer who’s averaging over 6k a day and I have no idea how she manages that.

This process has proved successful for me in the past, both Locked Up and Locked In were written as NaNoWriMo projects. Last year I wrote “Play The Game” which was a new draft of a previously written book, one that I had all the research and plot lines sorted on, but didn’t like the way I’d written it originally, so I started from scratch and that book is now out on submission. But this year I didn’t have a novel in mind because I’m working on a number of different projects and I didn’t want to start something new. So this year, I’m doing things a little differently.

I’m using a Scrivener File (it’s an alternative to Word that works really well for novel writing – well it does for me anyway), see more about Scrivener here. I’ve called it “Scenes in My Head”, and what I’m doing is that I’ve put in chapters for each book and put the scenes in the relevant chapter for pushing to the right project when I’m ready. So, as I see a scene that needs writing, I write it.

So far I am averaging 2,326 words a day! I am well chuffed with myself.

I have written 6,304 words to finish the first in a series of police procedurals with supernatural undertones that I’ve decided to try. I’ve written 16,560 words of the second book too. I’ve also managed 12,029 words of the first of a new steampunk trilogy. These scenes are being written out of sequence and from any book as I fancy writing it. Several times now I’ve written scenes from different books on the same day. One day I actually managed a scene from each book, which rather reassures me that the scatterbrain approach works for me.

In total, that’s 34,893 words in 15 days.

I should say that all these numbers are so precise because Scrivener gives them to me, I don’t go counting and adding up, that would be too much like hard work.

The point of all this is actually to say that this is one of the easiest NaNoWriMos that I have ever done, and mostly that is down to (a) I’m working it in a way my brain can cope with – jumping from story to story that excites me rather than slogging through the tough patches, and because (b) my mental health is, general and genuinely, so much better this year.

What that means is that I’ve pushed on with three writing projects that had started to stagnate and I’m really pleased with that, because that in turn, helps my mental health be positive. So on to NaNo-ing and hopefully this will see three more projects ready for submission in the new year.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized, writing, Writing Business

Editing is Hard

“Editing is hard.”

One of my editing clients said this to me the other day – yes even after I’m done tearing apart their manuscripts clients do still speak to me.

My internal voice said “No sh** Sherlock,” but externally I smiled and nodded and agreed.  But it made me realised that this is news to some people.

It never ceases to amaze me how many people think that writing is easy, that you just scribble a few lines and that’s it, you can self-publish and everything will be great, best seller, right.  Wrong.

You can write a novel in 30 days (see NaNoWriMo), I’ve done it.  Normally I can write a novel in two months – well that is 60 days of work, not always every day for sixty days on a trot because I have a life and two jobs.  But if I had sixty days on full-time writing, I could do it in 60 days, hell full time I would write it in 30 days.  But it wouldn’t by any means be publication ready.

That’s where editing comes in.

Writing is the quick part, editing takes forever, and sometimes it feels like it’ll never end.

Let me give you the example of my last completed novel, Shades of Aether.  This is my first steampunk novel, and I wrote it in about 60 (non-consecutive) evenings.  Then I reread it – the first self-edit.  With that, I picked up any obvious inconsistencies, made any changes I thought necessary, in this case, I upped the level of steampunk in the text. Then I booked it in for an edit.  My editor couldn’t do it immediately, so I have time for another read through to find a few more typos, tweaks, and corrections.  Then it went off to my editor.

Let me underline that – it went off to an editor. At no point did I think that could ever get a book complete for publication on my own.

So it went off to edit, that’s another four weeks gone – though I think in this case it was five weeks.  Then it came back with loads of questions that I hadn’t even thought about, so I had to do some major edits after that to ensure that I answered all those questions for the reader.  Having the facts in my head are no use if I can’t get them onto the page.

So that was another couple of months of rethinking and rewriting, editing and tweaking. And it wasn’t easy.  Some of the questions and queries that had been raised really stretched me, forced me to re-imagine my ending completely.

Then – guess what – more editing.  Yes, I sent it off for another professional edit, because to a certain extent I had a new book.  That one is due back to me any day now, but even then, I’ll still have to edit it, then reread it.  So there’s another couple of months gone by.

Once that is done, then there is the last stage – proofreading.  More time, more money, because proofreading, like editing, cannot really be done by the writer.

Writing the full novel is only the beginning.  Once it’s done all the hard work really starts, that is editing.  So don’t underestimate how much time and effort editing takes, but it’s well worth it.  Editing is the only way that you will ever get a publication ready book.


Filed under Uncategorized

No, No, NaNo, No


Well, we’re halfway through the month and if you are NaNoWriMo-ing then you should be around 25k into your work.  Where am I?  About eleven thousand words.

I have pretty much given up on NaNo this year, not because I’m not writing, quite the opposite in fact. So do I feel like I’m failing?  Actually, yeah a little bit, but there’s absolutely no reason for me to feel that way, it’s not like I’m not working.

The reason I’m not NaNo-ing is that I’m working through my collection of short stories “Last Cut Case Book” as I need to get that finalised asap; I’m editing on my steampunk novel which I’ve had back from my editor and now want to polish, and I am still working on the novel I had finally settled on for NaNo, just not concentrating on that alone and therefore not writing it as fast as NaNo requires.

I know I’m not the only one who has given up, I’ve seen similar posts on Facebook and Twitter, and in blogs. Not just this year either.  This is the fourth year I’ve started Nano, but it’s the first year that I haven’t been a winner.  So why do people not complete the challenge?

I’ve heard some people complain that it’s one of the shorter months, which I honestly don’t get.  It’s not February  there are still 30 days, plenty of time if you devote yourself, one more day won’t make that much difference.

I’ve heard that a number of my American friends say it’s difficult because they are preparing to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas – that I get, but then it was all started in America so I’m sure that was taken into consideration.

My own issues are that it’s my birthday this month, right at the end admittedly and I don’t have to do much for that.  But this year I’m also off to Iceland Noir and that’s basically a week away from home and I don’t even know if I can take my laptop yet.  However, at a minimum, I will be taking my tab, so I can write on that.

Anyway, my point in writing this is to say that, just because we might not be NaNoWriMo winners, that doesn’t make any of us losers.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Catching Up

Well, it’s been a while since I blogged, not quite the month, but I figured it was time I did a bit of a catch up since the last two blogs have been rather ranty.

So catch up then.

Let’s start with the fact that the gag remains in place on Thomasina (see the blog before last).  Feeling quite positive about things, even despite today, which I’ll explain later.

Well, let’s start with a crowning.  I was on the phone to someone and going through the things I enjoy doing.  Writing: crime, steampunk and Cthulhu.  Editing.  Films.  Comics.  Attending comic conventions. Looking at Forensics. Science fiction (especially Dr Who). Quiz shows.  Geocaching.  Yeah, see, scrap away one layer of geekdom and you just get another.  Anyway, I got off the phone and my husband turns to me and says ‘Wow you really are Queen of the Geeks.’  After laughing I did point out that there was nothing in the conversation he didn’t know about, which he admitted, but as he said, he’s watched it build up over all the years we’ve known each other, so he hadn’t quite realised the level to which it had grown.  I should also stress that it wasn’t meant in any way as an insult.

I’ve been working on my novels as usual, but I’ve also put a few short stories out for various anthologies, I’ve only heard back from one, but that was positive, I have another story to be published in an anthology to be released next year.

I’ve also put the novel that got me the agent through to a couple of debut author competitions.  A win in either will help sell the book to a publisher.  Keeping my fingers crossed.

Went to the Swansea and District Writers’ Circle monthly meeting on Wednesday, and one the things that we do is share writers news.  I was able to report that since starting writing for Warped Factor, I’ve actually had 61 articles published.  I would never have expected that many, can’t believe I’ve actually managed more than one a week.  Admittedly most of these are comic reviews, but I do enjoy a good comic.  But I’m particularly proud of a recent film review of Spectre, it really shows how geeky I am with references from here there and everywhere.

While talking about SDWC, should also mention that the feedback group has been really good at giving great feedback.

I found out about NaNoWriMo three years ago.  The first book I wrote was Locked Up, yes the book that got me an agent, the one that went to those debut awards, was a NaNoWriMo piece.  Edited more times than I want to think about, but basically that book.  It was 71k words when I finished the NaNo, 88k at last edit – which I suspect won’t actually be the last edit, but there you go.

Anyway, the reason I mentioned NaNoWriMo is that it’s that time of year again, and I have been NaNoWriMoing again.  November started so busy that NaNoing might as well not have happened.  Sunday 1st – I could barely move I was in that much pain from a run on Saturday, then I lost over four hours travelling up to my mother-in-law’s for a birthday dinner, she was 80.  Lovely meal, but left me with very little time to write, managed a lousy 1198 words. The 2nd was no better, only 800 words, rubbish right?  Right.  But not as rubbish as the 3rd when I wrote nothing.  Zero.  Nada.  Well, actually, nothing is a bit unfair, I did go and watch Spectre and wrote the review I mentioned earlier.

Anyway, I’m trying something a bit different this year, something I’m not sure is going to work.  I’m writing a story in reverse.  I have no idea if this is going to work, but by the end of the month, I should know one way or the other.  Because I have no idea if this is going to work, I haven’t planned this as much I as I usually do, so this is going to be difficult, and just as I don’t know if the idea will work, I’m not confident that I’ll get the 50k target either.

That said, I’ve made up a bit this last two days.  I had some holiday I had to take from work before the end of the year and my husband had some too, so we’ve taken some time off to come away, no housework, no kids (except by text and social media), no chores, few distractions.  Hubby’s doing loads of walking, running and geocaching.  I’m doing a load of writing.

Only it hasn’t quite worked out that way.  Yesterday, Thursday, was a little difficult, normally I write in the car, but driving from south to north Wales is always a nightmare.  The road twist and turn like you wouldn’t believe, so half the time was spent just making sure that my laptop didn’t slide off my lap rather than tattooing.  Also, it was pouring when we got here, so hubby couldn’t spend that much time outside, which meant he was quite distracting.  Still managed to get over 3k words done.

Today was better, cleaner weather allowed hubby go for a run this morning, then we had a nice light lunch together.  After that I came back to the hotel and he went out caching.  Great, I could get on – only there was a fire alarm at the hotel, meaning that I lost an hour from Nanoing.  Really I could scream – actually I could have the alarm was that loud the buzzer being just outside our room.  Still, better safe than sorry even if it was just the guys in one of the rooms being renovated using a steamer to get the old wallpaper off.

Now, at the end of day 6, my daily is just over 4k, I’m a little over 11k when the trajectory is for 10k at this point.  So am happier.  That’s also why I’ve allowed myself to stop NaNoing and write this.  And that’s why Thomasina is still gagged, I pulled it back in time.  Yay for me!

Also, I am so stuffed full after the most amazing Indian meal I have ever had.  It was fresh and tasty and every bite was so lovely.  Now I’m so full and happy, I just want to curl up in contentment – an unusual feeling I am going to savour.

So if you’re NaNoing, good luck and look for me to buddy with.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Long and The Short of It

The month has rolled on again then.  Can’t believe how quickly the first half of December has disappeared beneath my feet.  Time is running way too short these days.

November was interesting, naturally I did the whole NaNoWriMo thing, which didn’t go at all to plan.  In fact, it was so bad I pulled the plug on the story I created for the month – it was too weak to bother with, so I went back to one I had been working on prior to the start of the games.  I did have to cut back the word count, to match what I’d already typed up, and to make it easier to keep track for word count through the last few days, but I didn’t have a problem with that.  Besides, it seemed fitting that this year’s NaNoWriMo be the second in the trilogy which I started at last year’s NaNoWriMo.  Theoretically I’d like to finish the trilogy next November, but the story lines I keep thinking up are just hopeless, not one worth the effort, so not sure I’ll be able to do that, there again, I have ten months to come up with something, so fingers crossed inspiration will strike.

I will admit I had written the novel out long hand in 59 days from the end of August, and it turned out not to be half so long as I thought.  I’d thought I’d made 60k, but in the end it was only 42k, so I edited it up to 50k, mostly by adding the details I’d deliberately omitted so I could get on with the story when writing long hand.  To be honest, I don’t remember a time I was more relieved to finish a book.  Not relieved as in happy achievement, but relieved as in “got that monkey off my back”.  So much so, in fact, that I haven’t bothered to pick it up again since.  I know I need to, there’s loads of edits required.

Talking of edits, I’ve done a mass of freebies in the last couple of weeks, everything from, “this is really good” to “oh my God no!”  Still, it keeps the brain firing. And I have a science fiction novel coming in for a full edit in January which should be interesting.

Have decided that 2015 will be a year of short stories, I’m going to leave the long novels for a bit and concentrate on getting more shorts together, might even get enough sorted to put a collection together.  Fingers crossed.

So the long and the short of it is that I’ve been busy, busy, busy – just how I like it.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

An Unforgettable Six Weeks

Well didn’t the last six weeks just whizz past?

After attending Bloody Scotland in September, I was utterly enthused about the writing, and have been over busy ever since.

Met some great people up in Stirling and will definately be going again next year, I even managed to get a publisher to agree to read my latest book.  I sent her ‘Locked Up’, and she came back saying that “I enjoyed reading this. It’s well written and engaging, and you write very convincingly about the prison setting and structure.”  Unfortunately she didn’t take the book, because she didn’t think it had the mass appeal that she and every other publisher are looking for.  Which might have made me feel dreadful, if she hadn’t actually been so gracious with the compliments above.  So the manuscript is with another publisher and I still have my fingers crossed for that, but I’m also planning for a crowd funding project to see if I can get the book published independently if the traditional route gets closed off to me.

Had to spend the swap over between September and October doing a week’s intensive course for work; that was tough – though I am now a register PRINCE2® practitioner.

However, as intense as that was, I still managed to write the second instalment of the Locked Trilogy, which I finished the first draft of on 19th October, only 59 days after starting it, I’m quite proud of that. I wrote it long hand, and boy did it ever make my hand ache, so I have no idea how many words it is, I just have to type it up.

Still I’m happy with the story, of course it needs a lot of revision, but it’s a first draft and it did what I wanted it to do, so I have to consider that a success.

Also in October the writers club had Meg Kingston in to give a talk, on crowd funding at it happens, have to say that this was one of my favourite talks this year, yes, because I’m interested in the topic, but also because she was a lovely woman and a really good speaker.  Very inspirational.

On the success front, I also have two short stories being published in a World War One anthology.  ‘Unforgotten’ is a collection of short stories and poems to be launched on 24 November at Swansea Library.  The two stories take quite difference paths, both are about soldiers from the war, but one finds his worth, the other losses his.  Not the most cheery stuff ever, but hopefully the readers will at least feel something.

Well NaNoWriMo starts tomorrow, interestingly last year’s NaNo is when I wrote the first draft of ‘Locked Up’.  I’ve been vacillating between what story to write for this November, that’s included writing the third part of the Locked Trilogy, and a couple of other stories.  I thought I had decided to write a romance story, and I mentioned this to my husband, who then came up with this really brilliant idea for an unusually switch around.  In fact it’s so unusual that I need to really think about how to achieve it, but that rather throws the whole story line up in the air, and I’m unsure what to write now, so tomorrow in front of the empty Word file might be interesting.  Just have to wait and see what ends up on the page.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized