Wednesday 27 February 2013

YA Highway: Best Book of Feb

This week's YA Highway Road Trip Wednesday asks what the best book we read in February is.

I finally read The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. (Thanks to twitter for encouraging me to do so). Of course, I loved it. By turns funny and moving, it calls up the tropes of cancer books, lambasting some and fulfilling others. The main character is so very real, her voice is excellent. I laughed, and cried.

(I also read Pivot Point by Kasie West and loved it.)

I am now reading everything there is to read by John Green, marvelling at how real his voices are and trying desperately to improve my writing so I can be half as good.

Any recs for me? What did you read in Feb?

Monday 25 February 2013

Close Edits: What I Look Out For


I've just completed close edits on my WIP and thought I'd record here all the things I looked out for, most likely because a CP at some point has pointed out I do these a lot.

FYI I believe we all write differently and all rules are made to be broken, but I can't say looking out for these hasn't made my MS stronger. 

I look out for:

1. Redundant Words. Just so you know, well, the over use of them, just drives me insane. Well, I can't tell you just who puts them in there. But I know they have to go. (These usually come from my list of redundant words to cut.)

2. Repeated Words. Why use different words when I can use the same word in different places on the same page, differently? 

3. Awkward Constructions. Having looked over my manuscript I note that I use awkward constructions where, being the fast drafter that I am, I haven't thought to use that thing called a period which may have helped me make it punchier, having thought about it.

4. Punctuation errors, especially comma splices. I do love commas, I like to put them in, where they don't belong, instead of the period, bless its heart, so I have to change these.

5. Not using contractions. I did not understand why my critique partner pointed out the lack of contraction, but I could not help but notice how Jane Austen it made my character sound. Which would be fine, if I was writing historical, but I am not.

6. "It was" construction. It was a sad day when I counted up how many "It was's" I had used for it was a lot, so it was. I changed these to be a stronger verb, and/or was more specific than "it". And it was better.

7. Lack of all the senses. I looked over my manuscript, gazing at the screen and catching the eye of my boyfriend as I did. Even though in reality I smelled the dinner he was making and heard the TV on low and the tap of my fingers on the keyboard. 

8. Generic description. My computer has a screen, and some keys. Exciting, eh?

9. Over Explaining. Why succinctly explain something in one sentence when I can use two, or three? I do like to repeat myself. I mean it gets the word count up. It adds words to my MS. It makes it longer. I can be sure the reader got my point. In case they didn't understand me. They might need me to make the point again.

10. Too many Rhetorical Questions. Why use one rhetorical question when I can use two or three? Why not repeat what I mean with several sentences? Why not have my character wonder in the form of a question? Again.

11. Dialogue Tags. "What do you mean?" He grumbled. "I mean, looking out for OTT dialogue tags," I muttered. "Do you put in said instead?" He said. "Yes. Or better still none, or action." I hit publish on my post.

12. Passives.  I was running to my computer to be sure to type in number 12. I was sitting at my desk. I was typing too.

Thanks to Kate Larkindale, Allison (Geek Banter), Jessica Ward, and Raewyn Hewitt, who all pointed out several of the above as well as all my CPs who point out all my errors.

Do you do any of the above? Have any to add?

Like I say, this doesn't - by any stretch - mean I never use "it was" or "he muttered" or whatever. It doesn't mean I believe in set rules and advice.

I just look out for these while I line edit, and find it helps. So I thought I'd record them here.

Friday 22 February 2013

Celebrate the Small Things - 22nd Feb!

Welcome to Celebrate the Small Things - 22nd Feb!
The rules of Celebrate the Small Things are so simple, they aren't really rules. (I nearly went for: the First Rule of Celebrate The Small Things is to Celebrate Them, the second rule: Celebrate Them). Anyway.

Go here for full info but in short: sign up on the linky list, celebrate small things of awesomeness with a Friday post, hop around and congratulate others on their celebrations. That's IT!

My excitement for the week:

Line Edits on my R&R are done. DONE! *confetti* Streamers* I feel accomplished!

Had a couple of days off and had time with my family.

Had an afternoon out and saw some otters! They were v. cute.

So I was wondering about tweeting on a hashtag. #smallthings looks like it is already being used for a similar purpose - so no idea if we should just join in their fun. But #celebratesmall didn't look like it was being used. I welcome thoughts!

I am off for more family time so will likely hop around blogs at the end of the weekend - apologies but won't be able to before then. Also I might go back to sending out a wee email reminder (hope that isn't too spammy).

Here's the linky list of awesome fabulous celebration-ness.

Wednesday 20 February 2013

Useful Links: Writer Diaries + UK/US Querying


I have a few links you might find interesting today.

First off, The Writer Diaries, the awesome blog I am part of, is giving away a query + first 10 page crit. This is the chance to get several great pairs of eyes over your work, so go here and enter.

Secondly we are discussing the worst/best writing advice you've ever been given. Would love to hear your thoughts here. What intrigues me about this discussion is that I think it shows that not all advice fits everyone. What works for one doesn't work for another, you know? It's about finding your own path.

And third, Simon has written an incredibly useful post on UK vs. US cover letters here (which is the difference between a UK Cover and a US Query letter. If you are thinking of querying in both countries, read it. If you are UK based and all you find is US based advice, read it. I found it a very useful summary. Obviously, you have to check the instructions with the agent you are querying, but I think it's helpful.

Also, as a UK person, when I first saw all these online contests I did notice how it is often US style querying to enter, which as somebody writing UK cover letters threw me.

I hope you find those useful!

Monday 18 February 2013

Are you "A-Z" ing?

Who out there is joining in the A-Z challenge, or has in the past? I am considering joining in - am trying to work out if I can realistically post that much in April! So I am saving signing up until I figure that out.

I have an idea for a theme: what I have learned about writing from watching TV. I have seen similar posts covering this, but I thought an A-Z of it might be fun. Would anyone read that? Is it overdone? My other ? ideas are from books/movies but TV feels easier.

Are you joining in? Do you have a theme?

Friday 15 February 2013

Celebrate Small Things... 15 Feb



Full info here but in short the rules are:

Sign up on the linky list (below), post the small things you are celebrating in your blog, and then hop around and say 'hurrah' to others and join their celebrations.

Please do try and visit at least a few other blogs and offer congratulations if you can.

My celebrations for this week are:

I have reached a few days off, and work has been busy so the rest will be welcome!

A yummy Mexican dinner. Hurrah for quesadilla!

The lovely flowers + chocs I got for V Day. Yes it's all a card company exercise in making money, but they were still v. nice to receive.

All of YOU.

What are you celebrating? Would anybody be into tweeting small celebratory things if I thought up a hashtag?

Monday 11 February 2013

Is there Blogging Etiquette?

Here's something I have been pondering lately: is there a 'blogging etiquette'?

I.e. do you think it is polite to behave a particular way while blogging and commenting. By that I do not mean the obvious 'don't be rude/insulting'. I mean issues like: do you reply to every comment you get? Do you expect people to reply to you if you comment? If new people comment, do you visit their blog in return? Only if they follow you? Do you auto-follow back?

Phew that's a lot of questions!

I see it this way: certainly if people comment, I reply. I do not, however, always expect people to respond to my comments, if I comment on their posts, which is funny. I don't always go back to see if they have, or sign up for comments, though I often do. Time just doesn't allow it.

One thing I have noticed once or twice is, say, 10 people will have commented and the blogger has replied to 6 of them. Okay, if the other 4 only said 'Great post!' then perhaps there's not a lot to reply to that. But I have been one of the 4 with a chatty comment and wondered why I wasn't replied to. Not that I mind - blogger's prerogative - but it set me wondering.

I hope I follow back most of the people who follow me - I have certainly tried to, let me know if I haven't. I feel like I have been getting used to blogging and how it all works, so certainly I may not always have visited commenters back or followed back as I would like. Sometimes time and life runs away with me, and I can't reply to comments etc. as quick as I'd like.

I'd love to know your thoughts.

I won't be here Wed with a post, but will return Fri to celebrate small things.

Friday 8 February 2013

Celebrate the Small Things - 8/Feb

It's that time again, yes time to CELEBRATE THE SMALL THINGS.

The instructions are simple. Full info here but in short:

Sign up on the linky list (below), post what small things you are celebrating in your blog, and hop around and say 'YAY' 'WOO' to others and join their celebrations.

Please do try and visit at least a few other blogs and offer congratulations if you can.

My celebrations for this week are:

  • Dinner out with friends - yummy Thai :)
  • Made it through a few more chapters of line edits!
  • I got the blow up bed back in its box after the boyf's bro stayed over. THIS IS TO CELEBRATE. They never squish back down the same!

What are you celebrating this week?!?! Please visit peeps on the linky. *HUGS YOU ALL.

Wednesday 6 February 2013

IWSG: February

It is February and time for an edition of the Insecure Writers Support Group. Check out the link for the other writers taking part and sharing their insecurities.

This month I have been thinking about blogging and tweeting. I am involved in the excellent Writer Diaries and am posting there, and more here, and have been trying to tweet more too.

I say trying because my time (due to work, life, chores, etc) is limited, and I can't spend as much time on twitter or blogging as I would like.

What I do find hard is how to use twitter. There are a lot of people who use it to publicise - links to their books on sale, links to their blog posts, what have you. There's only a certain amount I take these in when I am scanning my list in the short amount of time I have to read my twitter, and so I am wary about the amount I post these. I could probably link to my blog posts more.

However there is also a form of self publicity which takes the form of positive blog posts and tweets about oneself. I don't mean these coming from a 'big-headed' point of view. I don't believe self confidence or self belief has to be from an arrogant or big-headed POV and I think it's easy to pick out when posts/tweets are meant that way.

Most of the ones I see, and ones I mean, are people posting 'ooh just read my WIP and it's actually EXCELLENT' or whatever and that's absolutely cool. Good for you for saying so. If you don't who else will. Part of being a writer, whatever way you publish, will be to promote yourself.

Why am I not happy making similar tweets or posts? Why do these make me insecure? Like everyone would see right through to my secret rubbish-ness or think I was boasting or ...something stops me.

Sometimes I wonder if this is a British self-deprecating thing. We don't say we're good at things. We say we're a bit pants (aka rubbish, not the things you put on your legs) and we wait for someone to correct us. Though I hugely stereotype here (plenty of Brits who self promote!), it's true in my case, anyway.

What do you think? Am I worrying too much? Is it just straddling a line in *how* you self promote and be positive about yourself? Interested to know your thoughts!

Monday 4 February 2013

First Drafts or Revisions?

Dear readers, I am currently in the throes of line edits for my WIP.

As I edit, I've been thinking about the different parts of the writing process, and what I enjoy about them.

Each part gives me satisfaction in a different way. The first draft streams out of me. I think about it in the shower or when I should be sleeping. I can't wait to get it out and down on paper. I enjoy spending time with characters and a story just becoming new to me.

Big picture revisions are fun too. I can see the building blocks falling into place. I feel like 'real work' is being done in getting the story to work.

Line edits are satisfying in a different way. I can see the prose tighten and improve in front of me. I feel the style and quality of my writing truly gets better at this point.

There is a point, during both sets of revisions, where my motivation becomes more about completing the act and getting to the end, than about the drive to edit.

How about you? What do you enjoy about different stages in the writing process? Do you have a stage you like best?

Friday 1 February 2013

Celebrate the Small Things - 1/Feb

Time to Celebrate the Small Things!

The instructions are simple: sign up, post something to celebrate, hop around and cheer on others, bask in warm glow. Full instructions and badge here.

This week I am celebrating:

Going to my Boxercise class. I missed it for a couple of weeks and it's so fun. I recommend punching away as stress relief and good exercise (not people obviously. PADS.)

Going out for a nice dinner with boyf and his visiting brother!

Completing line edits on 6 chapters of the MS being revised. I WILL get to the end.

It being FEBRUARY.

I would also like to celebrate ALL OF YOU for signing up and joining in. It really does cheer me so. I hope you are getting cheer out of it too!

What are you celebrating?

Check out everyone on the hop: