Wednesday 19 December 2012

Poll: What Feature Should I Have? Please Vote!

I started my blog this year and have spent some time getting used to blogging. Next year, I'd like to introduce a weekly feature or two, and also to post more regularly on set days. I find it easier to follow other blogs when I know what's being posted when.

I'd also like to post something which 'gives back' to this wonderful writing community.

I therefore have a wee poll. Would any of these be of use or interest to you?

  •  Weekly or semi-regular post interviewing authors (agented, self-published, whoever will speak to me) asking how they got that break. 
  •  Poll about the craft of writing (eg plotter or pantser? 1st or 3rd person). Not to say 'this is most popular thing therefore it's best'. Just that it might be interesting to see the splits and spark off debate. 
  • Weekly 'celebrate the small achievements' post where we celebrate writing that chapter, or tidying out that cupboard! 
  • Weekly or semi-regular post where I look at what I can learn from a TV Show or Book which has taken a particular aspect of writing and done it well. 
  • Poll about something else - you suggest?

Please vote and let me know what you think in the comments? Any of these of any interest? Anything else you'd like to see?

What Feature Should I Have?

Monday 17 December 2012

The Events of Last week + Fragility of Life in Writing

I have nothing to add to the discussions surrounding the events at Newtown last week that hasn't been said elsewhere, other than that my thoughts and heart go out to those suffering. We should remember the victims, let their names be famous. I will remember Victoria Soto when I think Newtown, who died a hero.

 Last week I also heard about an old colleague of mine, who died very suddenly. She was only in her late 30's and was a lively, lovely woman.

 Coming home on Friday night, several tube lines were delayed due to separate 'incidents' aka bodies on the tracks. I find it sobering that several people ended their lives on Friday night. Christmas is not a happy time for everyone.

All of these things remind me how lucky we are to have our health and our loved ones. To be coping in our day to day lives. It's so easy to take that for granted, and it's only when we hear of a shocking incident or sudden death to be glad and feel blessed for it. It's so easy in day to day life to get caught up being annoyed by late trains or a friend's glib remark or an annoyance at work that we forget the big picture. I'm going to hold onto that big picture.

I have been thinking about how that 'big picture' comes across in my writing. A lot of us write about fantastical worlds, defeating villains, controlling powers, coming face to face with paranormal creatures. These stories come really alive when they are underpinned by family, love, loyalty, freedom, by testing and finding who we are.

Look at your novel and think about what that 'big picture' theme is. Someday the big picture in my novel will be that we are lucky when we are taking our situation for granted. That we are forever on a knife edge, it's that we only sometimes look down and see it. I'll get that fragility across.

I'll be back with a more lighthearted post later in the week, in the meantime, my love to you all.

Monday 10 December 2012

Cheers Cavanaugh Blogfest!

Today I am taking part in the 'Cheers, Cavanaugh' Blogfest. If you've been around the interwebs at all you will have come across Alex Cavanaugh and his mad blogging /commenting skills. Not only that but he began the Insecure Writers Support Group which is an awesome way of realising  you are not alone in your insecurities and of connecting with new people.

Sign up and details of the fest are here

So, onto the blogfest!

What Does Alex Look Like?
By day, you would pass him on the street. When blogging, he's a mysterious masked stranger, helping one blogger at a time with his comments and blogfests. None of us know what he looks like, but we know when he's been to visit.

Who could play Alex in a documentary?
Christian Bale.

Who does Alex remind you of?
Batman. I'm not saying he has superpowers, but there are some special blogging skills. 

Write flash fiction using the prompts: Cavanaugh, Ninja, IWSG, Cosbolt, Guitar

Here goes: 

Cavanaugh flew the Cosbolt down and landed perfectly, despite the rush to get back. He was late. The Ninjas needed him. He jumped out, ignored the guitar in the entrance hall which called out to him to play it, and headed for the basement. The blogging cave awaited.

Entering the cave, he flicked on the power. The hundred screens powered up. Sitting down, he cracked his knuckles. Time to use those blogging skills for good. Today was IWSG day and posts had to be read, comments answered.
His guitar would have to wait.

Thanks to Mrs. Cavanaugh for sharing Alex and thanks to Alex for all the time he puts in visiting and commenting on blogs. We all appreciate you!

Wednesday 5 December 2012

IWSG: Getting Going

For this month's Insecure Writers Support Group I wanted to talk about getting yourself going on your writing or editing. The actual 'okay now is my writing time, I am going to sit down and write' part.

I have no trouble with this when it's a first draft. The character shouts and me for their story to be told. The tale permeates my brain, so much so that I cannot wait for spare time when I can Get The Draft Out.

At the moment I am editing, and editing is a different story (ha!), for me. I enjoy editing, for me it is where the magic happens, where it starts to really take its shape. It is satisfying to wrestle those awkward words into submission.

But I find it hard to sit down and start. I find it harder to squeeze this into the odd spare hour, for a start, I need a good amount of time to sit and focus, so that's one consideration. But I find myself having trouble getting going. I get easily distracted by the internet, or by jobs to be done. I make excuses.

Then I have trouble getting started on the actual edits, even when I know what has to be done.

I think it is because there's more pressure. With the first draft, the aim is to get the story out and tidy it up later. I can be free to just write.

With the tidying up later, there's more pressure. I worry that I can't get it to be how it is in my head. My metaphors are still clunky, the voice still needs to be brought out more. What if I never get it there?

But each edit takes us closer, and eventually the sum of the parts hopefully adds up.

But it's a curious thing that on each session as I sit down, I have trouble getting going on it. Does anyone else have any trouble like this? How do you motivate yourself or get started or make that first change?

Interested to hear!

Friday 30 November 2012

Nano Congrats

Just wanted to wish everyone who completed Nano a big congrats! And if you, like me, didn't, don't beat yourself up. You have more done than you did before and that's all that counts. Life sometimes does just get in the way.

Did you complete it? Is everyone now into editing? I am editing at the moment so let me know if you are too!

Monday 26 November 2012

Please Give me Your Links: Useful Tips and Posts Wanted

I have had a computer disaster. In that my computer is dead as the dodo. It won't turn on. I hopefully will be able to retrieve my data from it, which is good as I haven't done a full computer backup in a while. So if you are reading this: BACKUP NOW.

Luckily, I do email myself my works in progress at regular intervals and am grateful for that paranoia as it meant I haven't lost too much writing. (Just a week or so since I last mailed self).

What I HAVE lost however, are all the internet bookmarks I have made. I don't think I will get these back. Over time I have bookmarked:

Useful Writing Advice - e.g. words to cut out, phrases to look out for, checks to do before submitting.
Software and Editing Wizards - e.g. autocrit, scrivener
Useful Writing Bits - e.g. Save the Cat Beat Sheet
Editorial and Critique Services - e.g. Teen Eyes

I have lost ALL OF THESE. Obviously, some of these I can google and find again, like I have above.

Others, I have lost. And so I ask you: please share your bookmarks! Or, links to your own posts. If you have posted useful writing tips, share the link here! If you have links to fab writing bits and bobs, please share.

If I get a few, I will do a master list and maybe it will be of use to other people too!

Please do share, and I thank you if you do.

(and backup that computer!)

Monday 19 November 2012

What Makes us Like a Character?

What makes you like the main character of a novel?

Is it that they confide in the reader their darkest fears and secrets? That they feel 'real', showing us their insecurities? Or the opposite - do you like a character who is gung ho action? Does it have to be a good combination of the two?

When you are creating a compelling, likeable, sympathetic characters, are there things you think about?

I ask because I have been thinking a lot about character lately. I have read books where I don't necessarily 'like' the main character, but their voice feels so compelling and real, that it draws me in anyway. Yet a main character who I feel for, who speaks my inner fears, who makes me laugh - those stay with me.

So is the question a compelling character, rather than a likeable one?

Interested to know your thoughts.

Tuesday 13 November 2012

Na-Nomore + Focussing on one thing at a time

My quest for Nanowrimo has hit a snag.

I received really useful crit on my MS and that has been distracting me. The MS is calling my name. Imagine it in a closed drawer, shouting at me. Though in reality it's 0s and 1s saved on a hard drive, being in a drawer feels more visual. The corners of the pages lift up and form a mouth, in my head.

I thought I could focus on both - at least, to let the MS sit, while I drafted anew. I have had two ideas going for a while - planning and roughing out bits of one while drafting the other. It's been good. Work on one while the other sits. I've found it helpful.

However, now I'm at editing stage, I can't do it. I can't now draft the other. Though I should let MS 1 sit while I draft MS 2, probably, so I can return to it fresh. Perhaps after this edit, I will feel more able to set it aside. Maybe I need to set it aside and just read others' work, not try to draft anything new.

Either way, I am not going to finish Nano, but I don't feel bad about it. You spend the time doing what's most useful. If my brain can't finish MS 2, I won't force it.

I ask you: can you focus on two MS at once? Let one rest while you draft another? How do you spend the time while you let an MS rest?

How is your Nano going?

Thursday 8 November 2012

I'm Thankful to My Readers: Winners

Firstly I want to thank everyone who joined in the 'I'm Thankful To My Readers' bloghop this week. It was so lovely hopping round reading everyone's posts and feeling the love. The bloghop would be nothing without blogs to hop around so I seriously and sincerely thank everyone of you who joined in. I feel all warm of heart that people joined in our wee idea.

As per the original post Tara and I are announcing the winners of the prizes today. In all seriousness, I feel like we are all winners, because look at the great people we have in our lives and the amount of love we saw flowing. I know that everyone's posts came from their hearts.

But as a gesture of thank you for joining in, we do have winners:

Vikki’s Winner of: A Reader’s Report style Critique chosen for most heartfelt post: 

Tara’s Winner: A Banner for their blog, chosen for most creative post: See Tara's blog

Overall Winner: Both of the above, for most heartfelt and creative post:

Your pie themed post was heartfelt and incredibly creative. We're in awe of your talents!

We've contacted everyone via email who won a prize.

An especial thank you to Tara for running this with me and completely jumping on board my small idea and helping come up with this bloghop. I've never run one before and it was lovely to run it with Tara!

A big thanks again to everyone who joined in and to all the readers out there. 
Good luck those doing Nano.

Wednesday 7 November 2012

IWSG: Keeping Going (even when you're late)

Apologies for the lateness of this post, I somehow confused my weeks. But that does bring me onto my theme for this month's IWSG : Keeping Going.

I often see stories of people getting agents, and one thing I am struck by is how they have kept going. They have queried not one, but two or three or more books. They have revised and resubmitted. They have queried 100 agents. They have entered contests. And throughout this, there are times where we all feel late or behind. Others are published already. But this isn't a race. All we have to do is keep going.

And those insecurities can sometimes stop us from keeping going. And sometimes, we may wish to stop, we may need to pause, and that's okay too.

But often it's a matter of picking ourselves up and sending out one more query - we never know what's around the corner. So if this is you, good luck. Send out that query - you never know. And I wish you luck.

Monday 5 November 2012

I'm Thankful For My Readers: Bloghop List

It is time for the "I'm Thankful For My Readers" Bloghop"! The linky list is all working again so I have removed my list of links and replaced with the links - and my entry (below!)

Here goes with my contribution:

There once was a wannabe writer
Whose writing needed to be tighter,
and thanks to those readers,
Whose tips they did feed her,
and made her writing so much brighter!

Alright so my limericks need work but the intention is there.

Thank you to everyone who has followed me on this blog, or on twitter, your presence makes my day so much brighter.

Thanks to those I email and communicate with 'off blog' who have awesome ideas and tips and have in turn encouraged ideas or offered to  read parts of my work: TobiInkinthebookKate LarkindaleAllison, J.A., Lisa, Majanka included. It is lovely to have met you.

Thanks of COURSE to Tara, my bloghop partner in crime who has made me a super awesome header I am going to put up tonight! :) YAY. Thank you so much for making it. I am so so happy you have a publisher for your ace novel Pop Travel and cannot wait until I can order a copy. I am very happy to have met you!

Thanks especially to my 'real life writing group' who I meet with once a month, and have done for several years now. I am so excited that we are starting to get published! You keep me sane.

And of course thanks to everyone who is joining in this bloghop. I will be back tonight to read everyone's entries, and hope you'll all hop around and join in the love ;) Remember if you'd like to, to tweet using #thankstomyreaders.

Wish all those doing Nano luck and a good November to all.

Wednesday 31 October 2012

Blog hop Reminder

Just a reminder that next week is the 'I'm Thankful for my Readers' blog hop which Tara and I are running.

Go here for the info.

I know everyone may be Nano busy but it shouldn't take long to join in. Prep you post tonight! Take that break for a few mins next week to check out others posts, after all our readers and crit partners help keep us sane, especially during times like Nano!

Please do sign up if you haven't already and thanks to those who are joining in!

This post was brought to you from my mobile phone app so if links don't work or it looks funny that's why. If it looks ok it may herald a new world of phone posts from me :)

Tuesday 23 October 2012

Nano: Buddy up and Encouragement?

I have signed up for Nano! Are you? Anyone done it before and have any tips?

 If you are Nanoing please tell me your name on the site so we can 'buddy up'. I am Viklit there. Just sorting out my profile etc. I am going to use this to get up to date with current projects I hope.

 Does the blogosphere go quiet as everyone Nanos?

Anyone have any encouragement for us all? Nervous?

Let's encourage each other in the comments and if successful/people want I could put another post up during Nano for keeping us going encouragement purposes.

 Does 'nano' make anyone else think of Mork and Mindy? Nanu Nanu everyone :)

Thursday 18 October 2012

If Writing is Subjective, How Do I Improve?

I recently took part in an event that brought it home to me how subjective writing is. I was a finalist in a local book festival for a piece of 250 word flash fiction. 12 of us read out our pieces, and we voted for a winner.

All these pieces were 'good', however you want to judge good. They were tight, they followed their character's POV or their theme through, they contained deft imagery and interesting description.

You know what? I liked some of them more than others. There were pieces on flying machines, sister-in-laws coveting their brother-in-law, anecdotes about grandchildren and stories of an understudy going on stage. Yes, interesting writing and a 'good writer' will hold my interest on any topic, but I have little interest in flying machines to begin with. However well written his piece was, however much it held my interest, I was naturally more predisposed to like the piece about the understudy because it was more 'my thing.'

I only had a couple of votes to cast, so however great the flying machines piece was, *it did not get my vote*. The grandchild anecdote was funny, so everybody voted for that in droves. (This has really made me think about the role of humour in my writing - I tend to write fast paced, thriller type pieces - can those be funny too? Can I be funny? *pulls face*)

I realised this is exactly what agents face. They have tons of submissions and some of them, yes, can be dismissed because they see the writing as weak or the character unbelievable or the plot makes no sense.

But some of it? Just isn't their thing, and however interesting you  make it, they aren't going to take it. They only have a couple of votes.

I often see people say that writing is subjective, and I agree that there is no magic level of writing that will guarantee you an agent or publication of any kind. Luck comes into it.

But having been to this event, I do realise how a well written piece about flying machines held my interest more than a badly written piece would have. Even if it didn't get my vote. I do know how useful writing advice on websites has been, and from critique partners, in improving my own writing. I do feel like my writing gets 'better' whatever better is, and however subjective that is.

What do you think? Do you welcome writing advice? If it is all subjective how do you know what's 'good' and 'bad'?

And can I make my thrillers funny? Anyone know a good joke?

Monday 15 October 2012

New in YA: Mashups?

I recently read this great article  in Publishers Weekly, on Mashups being new in YA. It says that having something that sells on multiple angles works very well. They give the example of Sci Fi with romantic tension, and historical meets paranormal.

Are you writing something with multiple angles?

What genres would you love to mashup? Or what elements? (Cyborgs meet Zombies? Time Travel meets Aliens?) 

I am also aware that the new TV show 'Wizards vs. Aliens' by Russell T. Davies is out too, which is a great mashup.

Personally I love superheroes or time travel with anything. Dystopian would work well mixed with historical, or time travel or something different. Steampunk meets romance?

Any suggestions?

Friday 12 October 2012

Who's Doing Nanowrimo? Should I?

Who is doing Nanowrimo?

I am trying to decide whether to sign up. I Fast Drafted big chunks of two ideas lately (I talk about Fast Draft here) and would love to use Nano to get one finished (I have 30-40k left) and play about with a Middle Grade idea I have.

However, that took a lot out of me and I am not sure I could keep up the pace for November.

Thoughts anyone?

I don't want to be dispirited by not finishing but I guess I could have a push then have December not writing and just critiquing for people. Hmm.

Also thank you to anyone who has signed up for Tara and my 'I'm Thankful to my Readers Bloghop'. Even if you are Nanoing, it wouldn't take up much time to join in ;)

Monday 8 October 2012

I’m Thankful For My Readers Bloghop!

Tara Tyler and I are getting a head start on the November blogfest season. I know Nano is happening but this won't take up much time :)

The theme of the blog hop is ‘I’m Thankful for My Readers’. Tara's post on it is here.

We’d like everyone to post their thanks, in as creative a way as possible, to their readers.This can take whatever form you like - be creative and use your imagination.

These readers can be critique partners, beta readers, blog readers and readers of published novels, as part of one big bloghop! I’m sure everyone thanks their readers, but we thought it would be awesome if we all did at once and we can hop around and revel in the love ;)

This was partly inspired by valerie lawson’s post here where she wrote a letter to her critique group, and also by the fact Thanksgiving is coming up!

Here’s the rules folks:

1.Sign up on the linky list below.
2. Post thanks to your readers on your blog between Monday November 5 (anytime) and Wednesday November 7 by 1700 UK/1200 Midday EST US time.
3. If you don’t have a CP and you would like, go ahead and post a ‘personals’ ad.
4. Be CREATIVE. Write a letter, a piece of flashfiction, a haiku, poem, or vlog. It can take whatever form you like. We’d like it if you kept it under 300 words but won’t be counting.
5. You don’t have to name your readers though do if you want, and feel free to link to them.
6. Hop around and comment on other people’s!

We have a button, please do go ahead and grab it! Also it would be lovely if you'd please advertise this blog hop!

There will be prizes: Tara and I will each pick a winner, and another overall winner, to be announced on Thursday November 8 on our blogs. They win:

Vikki’s Winner: A Reader’s Report style Critique (i.e. overview write up giving thoughts on your MS, will read whole MS), chosen for most heartfelt post
Tara’s Winner: A Banner for their blog, chosen for most creative post
Overall Winner: Both of the above, for most heartfelt and creative post!

I like to think my critique would be helpful and more to the point, Tara’s got mad art skills so that’s an AWESOME prize! I want it myself. Though of course I can’t win ;) But whoever wins that is lucky lucky lucky.

Lastly - for anyone on twitter I thought it would be fun if during the same period we tweeted thanks using the hashtag #thankstomyreaders. Not as part of the bloghop/prizes, just for additional fun. Am vixatthemovies there.

Please sign up using the linky list and go visit Tara's blog here and say hello to her too!

My entry for the bloghop- here

Wednesday 3 October 2012

IWSG: Dedication is what you need

(First off - I have a pitch being critiqued for Hook Line and Sinker over at Kat Ellis's blog so please do go visit and let me know what you think!).

Secondly, onto the business of the day: Insecure Writers Support Group.

Anyone from the UK and of a particular age is hopefully now humming the theme to Record Breakers, having read my title. For anyone not familiar, we had a programme back in the day, where people tried to break records. You know the type, smashing the most bricks or hooping the most hula hoops, etc. The theme was that dedication is what you need to break that record. Working hard and picking yourself up when you are 2 bricks short, then 1 brick short, then possibly failing, still.

It's what you need to be a writer too. Not just dedication to get the story out, but dedication to pick yourself up after rejections. When you don't make that contest cut or the agent sends a form rejection, dedication makes us pick ourselves up and try again.

It also seems to be that often in life, success is indeed that 99% perspiration.

Often after rejection we think it is because we aren't 'good enough'. Which is mad, because how you measure 'good' I don't know. Or indeed 'success'. Getting an agent? A contract? Selling X many books? It never ends. Whatever your aim and however you are going to define success, I bet there'll be something else to work for even when you get there.

Dedication is what will get us to any of our goals. Dedication is what can make us strive onward, to write something new or rewrite something old. Dedication makes us send that query out again.

So if you are feeling insecure or down or like you aren't 'good enough' or 'successful enough' or any of those subjective words: I wish you luck and dedication because I think what's needed is a bit of both. And I'll join you as we try and break those 2 more bricks.

Tuesday 2 October 2012

Word Count: What's appropriate?

I have been reading a lot of competition entries lately and see varying word counts on the summaries.

I am curious to know: what do you think are the limits for a word count for a debut author seeking representation? I am specifically talking YA but if anyone wants to weigh in with NA/MG/Adult ideas, do.

For YA I have gone by the rule of thumb greater than 60k and less than 100k are a good spot to aim for. Shorter or longer than that raises flags, was my understanding.

I got this useful link (thanks to EllieWrites who linked to it) which says:

MG: 25-40k (average 35)
YA: 45-80k for mainstream, up to 120 for paranormal but under 100 best.

They have guidelines for adult genres too if you are interested. It is just one ex-agent's take, but interesting.

It seems to be for MG 35/40k and for YA 60/70k are safe word counts to 'aim for' and that genre may make a difference.

ETA: The best word count is the minimum you need to *tell your story* without being overlong and without leaving out key factors, of course. I am talking here I guess about a) whether too short/long hinders you getting representation and b) whether having a too short/long MS should raise a red flag to you that you perhaps haven't cut enough or put enough in....?

Any opinions? Do you plan for a specific word count when you start? Do your books always come out the same? Do you add if your YA is say 45k or cut if it's 120k?

Interested to know!

Monday 1 October 2012

#writemotivation & Fast Draft Report & Revisions

Over the past few weeks I have been taking part in #writemotivation, aided by Fast Draft, as I mentioned in my post here.

My #writemotivation goal was 25000 words in September and I wrote 55000 (over two ideas) so I think I succeeded in that one ;)

I was taking part in Candace Havens Bootcamp and I thought you might be interested to know how I found it.

The aim has been to write 5k words a day over 2 weeks. We had a planning week first (which really helped) and are about to revise for a week. If I had succeeded in 5k a day for 2 weeks I would have 70k now. I didn't. 55000 averages to 3928 words a day.

I discovered:

  • The importance of butt in chair time. Because my 'aim' was more words than I usually do in a day, I found more time in the day. I squeezed in half an hour here, and stayed up later there.
  • The importance of motivation. Because we were all doing it together, encouraging each other, I felt motivated to succeed.
  • The importance of planning - I plan anyway -  and I did realise how much of a help it is for me in getting the words out.
  • Drafting quickly helped me maintain the voice/plot in my head easier, without lots of going back over things.
  • That 5k/day was too much for me. 3k is probably my 'sweet spot' where I can rely on the words to be okay and over this they were starting to be pedestrian. Given that my usual daily word count would have been 1-2k, this has shown me what is possible.
  • That it's okay in a 1st Draft to make a note and carry on. If I had forgotten something or wanted to change something I merely added a comment, and carried on. Now in my first revision I'll deal with those. This helped me maintain the flow.
Overall this has been a very positive experience. I don't believe in word count over everything, and if I had felt that I was really producing rubbish I would feel negatively about this. But you know what? I didn't. Okay the last few paragraphs of the day were always pedestrian and need work, but that was the point where I allowed myself to stop. I didn't achieve the overall 70k aim but I achieved a heck of a lot more than I would have in 2 weeks otherwise!

The aim of getting words out every day really propelled me forward. I have become more disciplined in finding time and writing every day. I am going to carry that on as I a) finish my stories and b) revise.

Which brings me to revision! How much revision to do? How do you approach it? Revision Motivation Club anyone? :)

I asked a similar question before about editing and got interesting answers and I ask again now ;)

Thursday 27 September 2012

Why Twitter is good for Writing and Writers

I have been on twitter a while, but I’ve only recently discovered all the joyous ways it can help not just writers to meet and talk about writing, but also help in the art of writing. Bear with me.

Let’s break it down.

The very act of writing a tweet involves, um, writing. The fact they are short and snappy involves a particular skill, I admit, which may seem at odds with novel writing for example. However let's be positive, I think some of these skills can be applied to your broader writing (I think any writing we do, is a good thing). For example:
  • Twitter teaches you to be concise: How often have you to reword a tweet to get it within that pesky limit? Taken out unnecessary words or rewritten your whole sentence? This is a great exercise to apply to writing. Take 100 words of your draft and cut 5 words out. Now another 5. 10. (Look at an author like Jacqueline Wilson, and try and cut 5 words from a page. It’s hard.)
Get those scissors out.
And yes those are my scissors.
And kitchen counter.

  • Twitter is your voice: Look back at your tweets. How much do they reflect who  you are? What idea do you get of people you’ve maybe never met, just from their tweets? I bet quite a strong one. This is the kind of voice your MC needs. Try writing out a few tweets for them, whatever time period they live in. Are they an ‘OMG THIS JUST HAPPENED’ tweeter? A snarky tweeter? Get this sort of voice in your novel. (I think a ‘tweet as your MC’ tweet/blog hop sometime might be fun. Though confusing, maybe!).

  • Twitter is about grabbing attention. By this I mean, how often do you reword a tweet to make more people pay attention to it? Make it funnier, or more informative, or simply ‘snappier’? By this I don’t mean that every joke in a WIP has to be super hilarious or every sad moment super sad, it has to be appropriate to the character and moment. I just mean there are sentences we can all polish to stand out more. It is easy to do when you only have 140 characters and harder when you have a lot.

As well as the art of writing there are obviously all the social aspects of twitter, helping you to meet other writers, to get support if you need encouragement to finish that piece of writing. You can also hear about competitions or see links to interesting and useful blog posts about the art of writing.

These are all ways of connecting you note, and for me that’s what it is about. Twitter feels like ‘broadcasting’ and a lot of people do use it, very successfully, as a way of self-promotion and broadcasting about what they’re up to. Which is great.

But the best parts for me are the @ connections you can make and the conversations which happen. I know people who say, I don’t tweet, who cares what I have to say, and my response is, it’s not about that. Or it isn’t for me. It’s about starting a conversation. The writing community is hugely supportive, as I've found on this blog, and twitter is an extension of that.

Another great thing are the hashtags which help you meet new people and discuss writing tips and the like.

Some of my faves are:

#amwriting – does what it says on the, er, tin
#1k1hr – race to get to 1k in an hour (love this one)
#askagent – sessions run where agents take and answer your question
#writemotivation – monthly group run by KT Hanna (every other month I think). You set goals, and encourage others to meet them and get encouragement.
#writeclub – a new one! Started by @MeganWhitmer I believe for writers to find other people currently writing (started on a Friday night when a few people were all writing. And NOT to be confused with DL Hammons writeclub which did throw me at first.)
#YAWritersAAT – Sunday night chat where you can ask teens a question for research, started by Leigh Ann Kopans I think and transcripts go up on yamisfits. (Must catch up on the transcripts, as am asleep for the chats being UK, which I think it 9 EST).

Here are two great posts listing all kinds of hashtags  - here and here – though am tempted to write a master list sometime (If anybody would want to help with that project, let me know!)

Does anyone agree with my list above of how it can help your actual writing? Will you try any of these? Would a master list of hashtags or some MC tweets be fun?

Are you on twitter? If you are and I don’t already follow you, please leave your @ name in the comments or follow me and I’ll follow back.

My twitter button is on the right, please connect with me there, and if you like this post, let me know what you think – or tweet me about it!

Monday 24 September 2012

#writemotivation & Competition Success

Two pieces of success for me, and afterwards I will ask for your successes of the week.

Firstly, my goal for this month's #writemotivation was to write 25000 words and am currently standing  at 30000 thanks to the Fast Drafting I have been doing. Woo! I will write a post about Fast Draft when I have finished it telling you all how I found it.

How is everyone's #writemotivation going?

Secondly I entered a competition in a local book festival to write a piece of flash fiction. I am one of 12 finalists and I have to go read it out at an event where people vote for the winner! It will just be exciting to be part of it, and it's nice to have a wee boost like that.

What are your successes of the week? Get that difficult chapter done? Finally tidy the front room? :) Let me know!

Thursday 20 September 2012

Next Big Thing MeMe

Thank you for the tag Tara and Kyra - I have seen this MeMe going round and it looks fun!

I thought I would talk about my WIP, to encourage me to finish it! (I have another WIP about clones but thought I'd do this one! I have been tagged twice so I could do the other one another time.)

What is the working title of your book?

Cara Stone Sucks.Com

Where did the idea come from?

Various celebrities being insulted on twitter. I started to think about cyberbullying in general and how when I was a kid I never had to worry about that. At first I thought about a sci fi type setting as I like to write sci fi but it fit better as contemporary!

What genre does your book fall under?

Contemporary with a 'who done it' element.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie?

Ah well the main character would be a young Kate Middleton (think shiny very conditioned hair and lots of outfit changes) and the love interest would be a Josh Hutcherson type.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book? 

When Cara discovers a website solely dedicated not only to hating on her but revealing all of her secrets, she sets out to find out who's behind it and stop them, before their threats turn real.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? 

Gosh got to finish it first!

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? 

Still writing. I started on Monday as part of Fast Draft and am 14k in. (How many of them make sense, we'll see).

Who or what inspired you to write this book? 

See above!

What else about your book would pique the reader's interest? 

I am having fun writing lots of banter between my main character Cara and the love interest Logan. I haven't written banter like this before and it's coming quite nicely!

I tag anyone who'd like to do this - feel free and hook me up with a link here I'd love to hear what you are writing on!

So what do you make of the above? I am worried about the stakes so hope it's tense enough when it's written! If anyone is interested in reading a draft when it's done btw, I am happy to swap a 'readers report' type CP with you! (I will be pestering my current CPs with the clone story see!)

Monday 17 September 2012

writemotivation & Guilty Pleasures BlogFest

I am no further ahead with my #writemotivation goals (sadface, not going well this month) and I missed any GUTGAA windows!

So not much to report there. If you are in GUTGAA let me know. Hook me up with your entry so I can admire it ;)

But onto cheery topics, today is the: Genre Favorites Blogfest run by the awesome Alex Cavanaugh.

You pick your fave genre of Movie, Music, Books and a Guilty Pleasure. So here goes!

Movie: Spy movies.

Think Bourne Identity, Mission Impossible, Bond. I love all the intrigue and chasing about. Especially if people wear daft outfits and break into places in an impossible manner. Which brings me onto another genre I love: the heist movie. Oceans Eleven! Who can beat a good heist movie? No one. Spy probably just wins out but they are very closely intertwined I find.

I don’t want you to think I like spying on people and breaking into places. I just like watching it in the movies, honest.

Music: Singalong Indie Rock. Think the Killers, Kasabian, Kaiser Chiefs. Perhaps I just like artists beginning with K as I do like Kylie too. (Though I’m not really a fan of Kanye West or Katie Melua so it falls down there. Back to Indie Rock.) Yes the more jangly guitars and singalong the tune the better. The Killers ‘All These Things That I’ve Done’ is the perfect example of this.

Books: Dystopian. I love a good dystopian. I am truly sorry if this genre is on the wane and they won’t publish so many because I have really enjoyed the flood of these in the market. More broadly: I like Sci Fi in general so time travelling parallel world doppelgangers come on down!

And a guilty pleasure genre from any of the three categories: this would be Keanu Reeves Movies. Yes it deserves to be a genre. I don’t just love the good ones like the Matrix, Speed or Bill&Ted. I will happily spend good money even on the rubbish ones like the Lake House and that one with the aliens. (The Matrix sequels upset me a bit, because the first one was so good, but I still went to see them. Even The Matrix 3 when I knew it would be bad). The same goes for early Christian Slater movies btw, I haven’t just seen Heathers and Pump Up the Volume. Or even Gleaming the Cube, but also the likes of The Wizard. *ah happy sigh*

What are your genre faves? And go the contests and monthly goals?

Monday 10 September 2012

Writemotivation and How Fast Do You Draft?

September is another #writemotivation month and my aim this month is simple:

Write 25,000 words of my WIP.

So far I have about 5k, so a bit behind.

As a result of my general aim to get some of this draft out, I have signed up for Fast Draft Boot Camp (deets here). Hopefully I will learn to get this draft out quicker than the last.

(I don't believe in rushing things in a desperate bid to cross the finish line, but I suspect that the draft won't be too much worse off my usual for speeding it up. We'll SEE.)

I will let you know how it goes!

In the meantime:

How Fast Do you Draft?

Is there an average? Do you knock out a draft in a week you speedy ones? Or do you take six months? How long does your editing take (do you think there's a correlation? Long First Draft = Less edits?)

Fill me in. In the meantime if you have an entry in a contest anywhere good luck, hook me up with the links.

I wanted to be amusing in the above post, however I am tired. Instead, I leave you with a bad joke:
The Scarecrow was outstanding in his field.

Wednesday 5 September 2012


Before I get into IWSG just to say thank you to everyone who visited my GUTGAA post and I will reply to everyone and get round a few more GUTGAA and IWSG posts myself. I wanted to get this up though ;)

That’s a very Borg esque headline isn’t it? It’s because Dr Who is back on. It seems to me that often our insecurities come from comparing ourselves to other people. Not in a bad, jealous way, but in a woe is me way.

For example, I see people post that they got their first draft done in a day or did barely a revision and out popped this beautiful piece. I compare it to my own piece which took a million years and a hundred edits (okay I may be exaggerating these timelines, but you get the idea) and I feel all forlorn and in need of eating chocolate.

It’s the same with blogging/twittering/etc. I am new to this lark and recently had four people ‘unfollow’ me in a day. I hadn’t even posted anything that day! Was it something I said? Do I smell? Similarly I see people with 1000 followers on whatever platform and think crikey! Not that many people are following me! I must be very dull!

Well. It’s all madness isn’t it. We know it’s madness yet (if we’re honest, which I think you’ll find I am being) we all do it a little bit. It’s human nature.

The writing process comparison is madness because it’s like we’ve all been told ‘build a chair’. Just that. No more instructions. So some of us are making joey and chandler style lazyboys (I don’t know what they’re called. You know what I mean). Some of us a wooden kitchen chair. Some of us maybe a beanbag (bit left field, but I think a beanbag could fit the ‘chair’ genre). No wonder we’re all doing it differently. Even if we were all told ‘make a wooden chair with five legs’ we’d all make a different one because we’re different people and good at different parts of the chair making process.

I don’t know why I have picked a chair analogy. Perhaps all this giving up caffeine makes me want to sit down.

But you get the point. We can take tips and learn from others, sure. For example (and I won’t use a chair analogy), I am good at pace. I can do pacey writing but I have to work harder at a beautiful description of a scene say. Doesn’t mean I can’t work hard at it. Doesn’t mean I can’t take tips from those who are excellent at description. But doesn’t mean a) I should feel bad when I inevitably make these comparisons or b) lose the fact that I’m good at pace.

The same with blogging. We all have different amounts of time to put back into blogging/twitter, and are good at different things. Some people are good at pithy short statements so they love twitter. Others better at spending time on a long blog post. Some people just *do* have more time to give to it, or able to make more time and man, I so admire the amount some people put into the blogosphere. I am still learning and trying and maybe I will never give as much back as some, but I try. Those who have a lot of followers tend to put a heck of a lot out there too.

We shouldn’t compare ourselves to others and feel insecure about what we’re not good at.  BE PROUD OF YOUR CHAIR.

Even if it’s wonky and missing a leg and isn’t that comfy, I bet you can improve on those things. And I bet you can still sit in it.

/end random analogy of the day/

Monday 3 September 2012


Greetings All!

 Today is the GUTGAA Meet and Greet for the blogfest happening at Deana Barnhart's blog  and I am very excited because I like to chat. Yes SirreeBob.

A little bit about me: 
The facts: I live in the big smoke London Town, live with the boyf and pet fish, and have never broken anything (famous last words - am I now about to tipple over and smash a bone?)
The Loves: Eating cheese. Vampire Diaries. Superheroes. Books involving Teleportation or Time Travel. Caffeine.
The Hates: The Brussels Sprout (there is just no need for them). Grumpiness on the tube (though we all get grumpy!). when the writing doesn't come. Giving up Caffeine (like I am trying to do now, in a bid to be 'healthy'.)


Where do you write? I moved house earlier this year so I am now lucky enough to have A SPARE ROOM. In London, this is a luxury! A whole room without a person in it! WOW! I can also work from home for my job the odd day and work in it. It calls for all these exclamation marks because this is exciting. So I work from the spare room. Though sometimes old habits die hard and you'll find me on the sofa. Should you come looking. And if you do, I'll make you a nice cup of tea, because that's what we do here.

-Quick. Go to your writing space, sit down and look to your left. What is the first thing you see? Pants! And yes American People, by that I mean KNICKERS. Undies. Lingerie. Skivvies. Also socks, usually odd ones who mourn their partner and hope someday they will return from their ADVENTURE IN THE WASHING MACHINE. This is all a way of making 'my laundry' sound less dull, for that is to my left. (And again, London! What a luxury to be able to hang my laundry in a WHOLE OTHER ROOM and not have to look at it while I watch TV.)

If I am on the sofa then I am looking at the wall to my left. THRILLING.

-Favorite time to write?
Evening time before bed, 10-midnight ish depending on bedtime. It's the only time I can find as I really cannot get up early and I admire all these half five in the morning people. I SO DO. I am much more a nightowl! I like to have a notebook on me to make notes on the tube, if I don't have someone's elbow in my face or am alternatively sniffing an armpit.

-Drink of choice while writing? Water. I am addicted to Diet Coke but see earlier note re giving up caffeine. I am trying to break the hold it has on me. 

-When writing , do you listen to music or do you need complete silence? Silence. Music is far too distracting for me.

 I have also discovered this little X button on the google chrome page, it's an amazing invention, it means the internet is shut! I don't usually use it. But it does help me get more done ;) (Though I do find the #1k1hr twitter hashtag an amazing motivator too).

-What was your inspiration for your latest manuscript and where did you find it?
My completed MS is a sci fi thriller set in the near future and the first scene came to me very clearly, a girl arriving home, having snuck out and going in to face the music. I wrote this scene, took it along to a class I was taking at the time and people said nice things about the setting/scene so I worked away on it and wrote a novel. Somehow. The opening scene has changed a lot since then but it all came from there.

For the two WIPs I am currently working on: one is a girl who may be a clone, or may just be going mad and I literally thought there, hmm, it would be fun to write about CLONES what could I do? And worked it out.

The other WIP, tentatively called CaraStoneSucks.Com, I really wanted to write about cyberbullying. As I am a sci fi writer I tried lots of ways to make it sci fi and the initial inspiration was sci fi. However I realised it is really a contemporary idea, so I am going to have a go at that! 

(I have more about these ideas in one of my old posts and will be joining in the CP/BETA fun on Wed if anybody is looking for CPs/BETAs hope to see you there!)

-What's your most valuable writing tip?
EDIT. I know it seems obvious but really, when I first started writing I'd write a story and press Finish and think that was it. Oh naive me. Then I'd feel bad that my work wasn't as good as all these finished books I see. So EDIT EDIT EDIT.Then ... edit some more. Edit until you are sick of editing, then you might just be done ;)

I love to meet people and love to chat so please if you have waded through all of the above - SAY HELLO!

Monday 27 August 2012

Celebrate the Small Things? & LINKS TO GOODNESS

I have some links to some AWESOME CONTESTS AND FUN at the bottom of the post but first, a question:

On Friday I did a wee post where I asked what you love about what you wrote this week. I loved reading through the comments, celebrating the working out of a difficult plot point or the start of a query. I love to hear the 'big' achievements, the book deals and the getting an agent. The finishing a draft news. 

But how often do you celebrate the 'smaller' achievements? The working through a knotty plot point or figuring out a character name that's *just so*. I think we should do it more often! (Was my post any help? Should I do another sometime? Do you already celebrate the steps along the way?)


Pitch Madness is taking place - go here for the details - across various blogs including Erica Chapman's which I linked to. The chance to pitch to agents!

Another agent related goodie - Gearing Up to Get an Agent over at Deana Barnhart's blog (in the linky) which is a month of pitch contest fun and opportunities to meet others in the pitching stage!

There's an opportunity to get a critique or phonecall with an agent in the awesome sounding Kiss/KissOffContest running at Bria Quinlan (Team Kiss) and Valerie Cole (Team Kiss Off's) blog. Enter your kiss or kiss off scene, but the rules for each team are different so check them out!

If you are in need of some motivation I highly recommend joining in 
#writemotivation for September - sign up link here at the lovely KT Hanna's blog. Lovely, encouraging bunch of people.

Don't forget WriteClub continues at DL Hammons blog with great pieces every week which astound me with their aceness!

The awesome Alex J Cavanaugh has a genre favourites blogfest coming up Sep 17 - check it out here

There's a Fact or Fiction: What I did Last Summer blogfest which looks lots of fun and has books as prizes, early Sep.

I won't have time to join in all of these but I will some. What links did I miss to fun contests and blogfests?  Link us in the comments!

Let me know if you are joining in any of these and remember my question, do you celebrate your steps along the way or would you like to? How should we do that? :)

Friday 24 August 2012

What Do You Love About What You Wrote This Week?

This is an experiment. It's quite simple.

Tell me what you love about what you wrote this week.

Share a sentence or two. Tell me that you solved a tricky plot point. That you reached 20k words. That your main character's voice is falling into place.

Share an achievement about your writing this week and let's celebrate that!

Partly inspired by the Love Lists I saw floating around after YA Highway's Road Trip Wed which themselves were inspired by Stephanie Perkins, but also I thought: let's celebrate those small steps as we go along. Let's celebrate getting that scene right or just getting the words out.

Please do join in, blow your own trumpet (or hey, someone else's if you like) in the comments. Please tweet/blog so a few people join in if you can.

I'll kick us off in the comments.

Tuesday 21 August 2012

First Drafts: Permission to suck?

After a long time working on my completed MS, I am back to a first draft. I have been having trouble getting going, discarding one idea after another and rewriting the same part of one of the ideas I DO want to go with over and over.

I have realised why this is. I had become too used to working on a finished, polished, shiny draft that the first draft, in all its awkward rusty glory was unwieldy. It didn't move smoothly under my hand. The ordinary descriptions and stilted dialogue leapt off the page like sore nails.

I wanted to stop and polish, to make that first sentence, that first paragraph perfect. I wanted it to be the final draft.

But it isn't. It's the first draft, and the joy of the first draft to me is getting it out, letting the words fly out, not *worrying* about them, just letting them be.

If I stop to polish, I will never get anywhere. I know some people work this way, polishing each chapter before moving onto the next, so that when they get to the end it needs little revision.

I can't work like that. I do work to a plan, in the hope that by the end massive rewriting won't be needed. But I have realised in my first draft I need to Get The Thing Out. Just write it. Warts and all! I need to give myself permission to suck. Nobody need see it (save the poor CPs who may offer and even then, I can revise before I share it.). I need to get the words out, on the page, so that I have tools to work with.

So that's what I am going to do.

How about you? Have any trouble with first drafts? Do you stop to polish or do you Get The Thing Out? Let me know!

Thursday 16 August 2012

Write ON + Magic 8 Ball: Pls Help - Which Way?

Like most people I have been busy with Write On Con this week, and very interesting and useful it has been too. I have a longer post about online critiquing for another time, but suffice to say I found it helpful. I had a Ninja Agent visit and give advice, which was very exciting!

Another year I would probably go there with a finished piece rather than WIP, as next to all the beautiful polished pieces my WIP felt very rusty, but I have to say getting feedback on the WIP was v. useful.

 In the meantime: I have been tagged (or handed!) the Magic Eight Ball by the lovely Suzanne Furness!

The Rules

1. Post button + link to

2. Share excerpt of WIP or something you are struggling with and can't get right

3. Ask a Question about your excerpt

4. Tag 8 people

I am going to be slightly different. I have 2/3 ideas I have planned, thought about, and now am writing they Just. Aren't.Working (two are the same as I took to Write On Con). So here, dear blogger friends, are a brief description of the ideas and a very brief sample of each. I guess my question is please: What GRABS you, or doesn't, about any of these?

Hoping someone's comment will spark off... something in my brain to get me back into them. Or one of them. So I can Write On, you see!

And I TAG: EVERYONE. Or ANYONE who wants to do it. Seriously. And please link ME so I can see it and feedback.

1) YA Contemp:
When 'Anon' sets up a website dedicated to hating her, Cara determines to find out who it is and get her own back. When the mean comments turn to threats, is Cara going to have to fight for her life, not just revenge?

Whoever said 'words will never hurt you' never had a website dedicated to just that. Hurting me. The words were bullets, shooting off the page and through my skin, which wasn't as thick as I thought. They tore into my heart, making a hole in my soul, tearing it into pieces. The site made me hate myself, for whatever I'd done to cause this. Why won't they stop? Why can't I make them stop?

I clicked the link. The headline on the website had changed to: Cara Stone Deserves It. And in Two Weeks She'll Get It.

Deserves what? What was going to happen in two weeks?

2) YA Sci Fi/Psychological Thriller - Cracked Counterfeit  (Genre problem? confusion?)
Suffering memory loss, Emma is convinced she's not who she's told, and cannot figure out why the doctors, including her apparent father, want to convince her she is. Once home, she discovers she's already been through this and left herself clues. When the clues point towards Emma being a clone, she has to ask if she is actually just losing her mind.

I examine the photo. I tap to enlarge my chin and a half-inch white scar is visible below the curve of my bottom lip. In the mirror, I don’t have a scar on my chin. I don’t have any marks on my face. I remember thinking how lucky I was to escape the accident without a scratch.

Fear prickles like small needles across my back. Where’s the scar gone? If this girl isn’t me, who is she?

3) YA: Sci Fi (does it sound dystopian? write what you love and all but should one avoid this?) UNTITLED
In a world where your online comments and status updates dictate your role in life, Lara can never say the right thing. The job profiling tests on her statuses reveal her to be good at precisely nothing except being lippy. Using this to her advantage, she builds up a large following who love it when she tears down the system. Until a large corporation offer her money to advertise its products, wanting to cash in on her anti system 'image'. This is money Lara's family desperately need. Will she be a sell out and take the job?
Further, why does Mr Perfect Profile (in every way) the President's son insist on hanging about? Why does everyone, including Lara, want him when he's such a do gooder?

"You think I don't want to be seen with you? I'll prove it."

He took out his InfoPad and typed his status, right in front of me, his long, delicate fingers entering: Hanging out with Lara, she's not as angry as she looks.
He ended it with a smiley face. A smiley face. People who used emoticons should be strung up by their fingers, however cute they were and however much I wondered what else those fingers were good at. Emoticons were so two decades ago. He flashed me a wide smile, his even white teeth gleaming, and my stomach squirmed. Why did everyone want him? Why did I want him?

That's all folks! Thanking anyone who comments and apologising if this went on a bit long. Please do link me to any of yours.