Tag Archives: completing your novel

Diary of a hopeful author: How to be a better proof reader. Sort of.

It’s “Wednesday Wafflings” when I post the latest entry in my Diary of a Hopeful Author…Photo of a Diary

I bring good news. Well, it’s good news for me; you, however, may not share in my celebration, unshackled,as you are, by the endless workings of this blooming novel, but still – I shall share with you. Yes, the news is that I’ve (finally) finished the 3rd edit round of my book – and I am mighty pleased. Edit three was an additional, character development edit layer, where I worked on the main character, her traits and general characterisation throughout the book. And while I’d like to think – after reviewing 90,000 words and cutting to 70,000 – it was over, I’m having to slot in another final edit, a vital one: edit number 4 – the proof check. Be afraid.

So, while I work on that to a deadline, I bring you to a post I wrote back in January on my traditionally, and quite frankly, rubbish proof reading skills – and how to get better at it. (Top tip: when proof checking grammar etc, I read it in the voice of a robot. I do. I sound daft as a brush, but it works. God, this life.) Enjoy!

“How to be better at proof reading. Sort of…” (January, 2013)

It’s been all about the edit this week. But not as we know it. Last week I (finally) finished my second novel, and while I’m chuffed to bits, I am relieved not to look at it for a while because the amount of things to do while I wrote it have been piling up around my head – the biggest of which is my first novel. ‘Honey,’ my hubbie says as he reads through my weekly column before I send it to my editor, ‘I corrected a few mistakes there for you.’ I nod my weary head and take the laptop from him.

You see, as well as not being able to cook for toffee (I burn soup), I am utterly rubbish at proofreading.  I’ve mentioned this slight downfall of mine in this blog before and how it is a bit of a pain, considering my profession. It’s a bit like a doctor saying diagnosing isn’t their strong point, a government saying it’s not really the best at closing tax-haven loopholes (little bit topical there, see…) or a dog not quite being able to aim at the lamppost correctly – it’s supposed to be what they do.

It’s because of my little weakness that I find myself in the frantic position of having to re-edit my first book, The Boy Who Played Guitar. The fantastic thing about publishing on to Amazon has been that it has put me out there and given me amazing feedback on what I can do. I’ve been lucky; everyone has been positive. The reviews have been good and readers have loved the heart-warming, sad tale, the twists, the turns, the characters. The only downside is the odd mistake littered here and there because of, quite frankly, my crap proof reading skills – and readers deserve a well-proof read book with as little mistakes in it as possible. I did proof read the book before I self-published it – and it got amazing feedback from literary agents – but the thing is I did it all my myself, pulling an all-nighter to do so, so that, by the time I reached the end of the novel, I was bleary-eyed, grumpy and unable to check a my kids’ homework for errors, never mind a piece of writing. In fact, have you spotted any mistakes in this piece? No? Go on, have a look…See, told yoo…

One of the most crucial things I have learnt since first publishing my book is this: get someone to help. Anyone will do. Your neighbour (I did), your mates, parents, spouse (it only causes a few arguments, so…) Just be ready for some clear, honest critiquing and always pick someone who is going to tell it to you straight. Best not pick a politician then. I have been proof reading The Boy Who Played Guitar now since Saturday and it’s – touch wood – going okay. I did stay up until 2 a.m. on Saturday night, but got so tired I had to have two cat naps to keep going. When it got to my eyes dosing off for the third time I decided to call it a day, well, night – I’d make more mistakes proofreading half asleep, and believe me, I can make mistakes at the best of times (just ask my kids…).

Our youngest is off ill today, so I’ll spend the day catching up with paperwork and emails while I keep an eye on her (sore throat – poor poppet) That means I should be able to finish proofreading tonight and all day tomorrow. After that, I’ll be ready to re-upload it to Amazon and then? Contact as many blogs I know who take submissions of books for review. A scary thought, but highly essential. Once that’s done, it’s back to more editing, but this time of my second novel. Dear God, no wonder I’m cream crackered. ‘Mum,’ says our youngest, ‘I’m cream crackered, too.’ Her voice makes me jump – she is behind me, reading as I type. ‘Honey, you snuck up on me.’ She smiles. ‘Sorry.’ Then, as she gets back into bed, she says, ‘Mum, you spelt ‘you’ wrong in paragraph three.’ I look. She is right. She’s 8-years old. Told you I was rubbish at proof reading.

 Have any proof reading top-tips to share? Do let me know – I need all the help I can get…

Out on Thursday “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my latest newspaper column to my blog…*

Diary of a hopeful author: How to find time to write in 7 steps

It’s “Wednesday Wafflings” when I post the latest entry in my Diary of a Hopeful Author…

Photo of a Diary

Well now, hello there. I’ve been a hot footing it gal this past week, trotting off on my hols and now I’m back. Although, to be fair, those “hols” were in a wet field in North Wales, camping under canvas in the driving wind and rain. Ah, the joys of a British break, the cold, grey swill of clouds that cover the sky like a dirty blanket.

Anyhoo, I’m back to it now and, as the finishing of my book approaches, I’ve trawled through my blog this week to find a piece I wrote on, well, writing, or, more specifically, how to keep on writing. And so, because, writing’s a solitary job, below you’ll find my wafflings on how, when the doubts set in or the ideas dry up, I keep on writing all the same.

I’ve added for you, at the end of it, a 7-step summary, a quick-fire solution, if you will, on how to find time to write.  Hope it helps. Laptops/pens/crayons at the ready…

“How to find time to write”

Time’s a devil, isn’t it? I mean, a right old devil. It’s rather like a teenager; one minute it loves you and gives you a kiss good night, the next it hates your guts and will do anything it can to sabotage your day.

Well folks, I’m here to tell you that rather like marmalade and ham, or a fleece with heels, say, writing and time do not always go together. Unless you’re my daughter, in which case, apparently marmalade and ham are as tasty as a chocolate covered marshmallow.

You see, as a writer, one of the things I find myself uttering is, ‘I haven’t got enough time.’ Sound familiar? Heck, if you’re a mum/dad/busy employee/avid House DVD box-set watcher, you’ll know exactly what I mean, too. Because we never have enough time, do we?

Our days are packed, stuffed, if you will, to the rafters. Like a cupboard that is rammed full of clothes we don’t want but haven’t yet sorted, our days are fit to burst with things to do. Work. Making dinner. Eating dinner. Having dinner flicked on you by child. Seeing friends. Phoning friends. Ebaying till the wee hours of the morning to win the all-wool blazer you’ve had your eye on (long story – it’s coming up to winter here…). Either way you split it, time ain’t on your side. And that’s before you even begin to do something as taxing as writing.

And this is the thing. Writing, if that’s your bag, is the job that gets shoved to the bottom of your to-do list. ‘I don’t have time!’ we wail, crawling into bed, our minds alert to the fact that in 6 hours we’ll be up and on that living treadmill again.

So what do we do? Well, apart from eating our body weight in chocolate and watching re-runs of Friends, we stop. Yup, you didn’t miss hear me. Stop. Go on, put those feet up. That’s it. Now  breathe. Because, halting what we do, you see, strangely, gives us – yes you’ve guessed it, you bright spark, you – time.

This time slot though, is different. It’s different because this time haven gives us time to think, and as writers our ability to think is one of our best assets. So, if we always fill our time and never stop, how will we ever, you know, think? You with me?

So, once you’ve let your brain loose on some free-range thinking, your next task is to be honest. No, I don’t mean fess up on the knock-a-door-run you used to play on your neighbours when you were 9 (it wasn’t me, honest), but be honest with yourself. Come on, get it out. How much time do you really waste? We’re talking honesty here, remember? I bet you my entire chocolate stash that, if you really thought about it, you could identify little pockets of time where you either : a) waste; b) take on too much; or c) procrastinate. Me, I can answer a safe ‘yes’ to all three. See? Me, being, you know, honest.  Virtual high fives.

Now, once you’ve been honest, take that thinking time you’ve stolen and get time slotting. When do you think you could snatch some writing time? Thought yet? I’ll help a little. You see me, I’m a morning gal. Sad, so sad, but true. So for years now, morning writing is my thing. When my kids were babies, I would rise at 5am to get a couple of hours writing under my belt before the day’s vomiting/feeding/bottom wiping/gurgling would commence, and that was just my husband (joke…).  Today, the girls are a tad older, but I still get up early where I can. My hubbie is not like me. He is a night owl, and while I fall asleep in front of the TV, mouth dribbling like a carp on a ship deck, his brain is just beginning to whirr into action. Me, I am useless to no one at that time.

So, that’s the next nugget – pick your time poison, so to speak. Are you a morning dude or a night rocker? And don’t forget those middle-of-the day snippets, too. 10 minutes of writing here, 20 minutes there. Grab a pen and write down whatever waffle comes into your head (or look! Write a waffle blog…!) And of course, folks – and here’s the silver lining – reading counts as time well spent when you’re a writer. I know! Yup, who knew that reading books was a job-ish. Dammit – it is! If you don’t read, you can’t write – and that is the joy (jammy sod element) of our craft

So go grab that time, people. Go! And when you get it, stick it between your teeth and don’t let it go until you’ve written something. And me? I’m releasing my jaw on this, my own sneaky little writing time slot…now.

7-Steps to take to find time to write:

1. Stop. Breathe. Step away from the laptop/pen/crayon

2. Use this break as time to think. Maybe fix a snack.

3. Now ask yourself (honestly): How much time do I really waste not writing?

4. Identify, from that time wasting analysis, slots where you can write – e.g. before breakfast, on the train, when the kids are asleep, lunch break

5. Know if you are a morning or evening person. When do you work best?

6. Put steps 4 & 5 together and there you have identified times when you can write. High five.

7. Get writing – anything will do, whatever’s in your head. It doesn’t need to be perfect. Just write it. Get it out of your head and on to the page. Go on. Edit later.  If struggling, repeat steps 1&2, with extra snacks.

Do you have enough time to write, or to do anything, for that matter? What are your time-snatching secrets? Share it with the people – come on! Let’s hear it.

Out tomorrow “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my latest Gazette newspaper column to my blog…**

Diary of a hopeful author: How to keep on writing

It’s “Wednesday Wafflings” when I post the latest entry in my Diary of a Hopeful Author…

Photo of a Diary

This week I have trawled through the archives again to pick out another post which went down well. This one is all about how to keep writing, or, at least how I keep writing. There’s an analogy with running, but stay with it, it’s not too energetic. The thing I like about this post is that when I re-read it, it’s still relevant to my writing now, finding myself, as I do this week and next, in the throws of major editing deadlines. So, after over a year of this blog, hope you enjoy this post – and that your writing is going good. Don’t give up.

I used to run a lot when I was a kid. Give me a road, and I’d be on it. I was a right Forrest Gump. I loved the feeling of being outside. The fact that we didn’t have a car might have had something to do with it, too. No car and friends living 7-miles into the next village, plus no buses. So I ran.

The good thing about all that running was stamina. I got it in the bucket load. I was like a Duracell bunny, going on forever, not running out of energy. I love a bit of stamina. It links arm in arm with its old pal, motivation, like two BFFs but only, well, cooler.  They’re a right old double act. Motivation gets us up and going, while stamina picks up where it left off and makes sure we keep moving forward.

This week I’ve been needing the two in spades. I am shattered. Cream crackered and in need of two weeks of sleep in one hit. But that ain’t going to happen any time soon.  Christmas is juggernauting its way to us all and with it a whole heap of preparation, pressie buying and workload shifting.

For me that means writing. Five columns. I wrote, last week, five columns in one day for my Weekend paper because, when I looked at all the deadlines and factored in Christmas and the fact that I want to spend time with my family, I just had to get it done. And that’s just for one paper. I haven’t started on the Gazette column deadlines yet. And then there’s the novel. 100k words it’s up to now. 100k! Not entirely sure how that happened, but I do know it needs editing. I’m now averaging on that 2 chapters a day – that’s 8,000 words – all to get it done by, yup, Christmas.

I was flagging, and then I gave myself a dose of motivation followed by a swift kick from stamina.  Alright, maybe there was some caffeine, too, but you get the idea. I want to finish this book edit. I have to. I just want to see how far it can go, that if, in the New Year, it will hit the shelves. That’s my motivation. It’s a dream, I guess, but it works.

My stamina – I’m not sure where it comes from. I get up at 5 every day while the family sleeps. I then write during the day, too, the columns, blogs, the novel, any other writing job that springs up. I think the stamina is connected to the motivation. When I was a kid, my motivation to run was so I could see my friends, and because I loved to run. The stamina came along with me because it had to – without it, no matter what motivation I had, I wouldn’t get there.

And so that’s been my week. Bleary eyes, LOTS of coffee, and a whole heap of writing and still more to go. But it’ll be okay, because I’m looking forward to Christmas when I can forget all about it and listen to our youngest belt out carols on her guitar. Yes, motivation comes in the form of Jingle Bells.

What’s your motivation?  Stamina? What keeps you writing when you feel like throwing in the towel?

Out tomorrow “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my latest Gazette newspaper column to my blog…**

Diary of a hopeful author: Why evaluating is the grandfather of writing

It’s “Wednesday Wafflings” when I post the latest entry in my Diary of a Hopeful Author…Photo of a Diary

Well, it’s all nearly over.  We’re a coming to Christmas and, writing wise, it’s time for me to fess up and tell you if a) I’ve hit my deadlines or b) I’ve not even come close. It’s kind of evaluating, if you will, how I’ve done and, most importantly, whether I’ve completed what I said I would (stay with me).

Evaluating is like the grandfather of writing. It sits in a corner of the room, grumbling and for the most part, you don’t notice he’s there until he pipes up something profound – or a profanity, which ever comes first. Evaluating is profound. When you evaluate your work and the effort you put in, you begin to realise things. Things about yourself, who you are, what makes you tick. Evaluating is the wise bit, the bit that you sit back and think, did I do a good job? It makes you assess what you do well, and what not so well, so that next time round you can apply it all and become even more awesome.

This week I’ve been evaluating a whole heap. I’ve looked at what I’ve done in 2012 writing wise and pondered if I’ve done a good job. It’s been scary. I took a massive punt at the start of the year, because back in January, I was working as a marketing consultant and a copywriter. I have always written. Always. That’s all I wanted to do. I was feeling low. I wanted to do a job I loved because, quite frankly, life’s too short to waste it. I didn’t mind marketing, I was pretty good at it, but it wasn’t enough.

And so, after a heart to heart with my other half, I decided to take a huge risk and throw all my delicate eggs into one writing basket. I was going to be a full-time writer. It’s been hard at times, but it’s been worth it. Hell yeah. On a whim, after a particularly low point, I thought, ‘Oh sod it,’ and stuck my book, The Boy Who Played Guitar, on Amazon and I nearly fell over when it started to sell and got great reviews. I bagged the Gazette column job, then the Citizen and Echo Weekend columnist gig. There’s been a bit of radio, some invites to cracking things. And then there’s the second book.

You may recall a few posts ago that I said I’d try and have the edit number one finished by Christmas. The 25th ain’t far now. Today, it’s 6 sleeps away. Six.  (Everything gets counted down in sleeps at our house. And that’s just by my husband.) So have I done it? Nearly. As we speak I have two – just two- chapters left to go. I’ll get one done today and that just leaves the last one for tomorrow. And then? I’VE FINISHED!! Pass me the sherry (that stuff like rocket fuel. No wonder the grannies love it.)

If I evaluate this all grandfather style, I’d say I guess I haven’t done so bad. But there’s so much more to do. New Year is all about fresh starts, and I think my 2013 will go for it. A book on the shelves, more newspaper work. Heck, a national would be great. Who knows. I do know it’s been hard work but heck if it’s not worth it.

I love this job. Love it. That’s my evaluation. My evaluation would come and pat me on the head, give me a hug and say keep going. Keep going. One to remember for us all come 2013. We gotta keep on going.

This is my last Wednesday post for 2012. Huge thanks for reading all my waffle this year – I am truly honoured. See you in 2013. Merry Sherry Christmas and a cracking New Year to you!  

Out tomorrow “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my latest Gazette newspaper column to my blog. This week I’m talking about  how if you’re trying to do good, a little pre-planning always help…**

Diary of a hopeful author: How to keep on writing

It’s “Wednesday Wafflings” when I post the latest entry in my Diary of a Hopeful Author…Photo of a Diary

I used to run a lot when I was a kid. Give me a road, and I’d be on it. I was a right Forrest Gump. I loved the feeling of being outside. The fact that we didn’t have a car might have had something to do with it, too. No car and friends living 7-miles into the next village, plus no buses. So I ran.

The good thing about all that running was stamina. I got it in the bucket load. I was like a Duracell bunny, going on forever, not running out of energy. I love a bit of stamina. It links arm in arm with its old pal, motivation, like two BFFs but only, well, cooler.  They’re a right old double act. Motivation gets us up and going, while stamina picks up where it left off and makes sure we keep moving forward.

This week I’ve been needing the two in spades. I am shattered. Cream crackered and in need of two weeks of sleep in one hit. But that ain’t going to happen any time soon.  Christmas is juggernauting its way to us all and with it a whole heap of preparation, pressie buying and workload shifting.

For me that means writing. Five columns. I wrote, last week, five columns in one day for my Weekend paper because, when I looked at all the deadlines and factored in Christmas and the fact that I want to spend time with my family, I just had to get it done. And that’s just for one paper. I haven’t started on the Gazette column deadlines yet. And then there’s the novel. 100k words it’s up to now. 100k! Not entirely sure how that happened, but I do know it needs editing. I’m now averaging on that 2 chapters a day – that’s 8,000 words – all to get it done by, yup, Christmas.

I was flagging, and then I gave myself a dose of motivation followed by a swift kick from stamina.  Alright, maybe there was some caffeine, too, but you get the idea. I want to finish this book edit. I have to. I just want to see how far it can go, that if, in the New Year, it will hit the shelves. That’s my motivation. It’s a dream, I guess, but it works.

My stamina – I’m not sure where it comes from. I get up at 5 every day while the family sleeps. I then write during the day, too, the columns, blogs, the novel, any other writing job that springs up. I think the stamina is connected to the motivation. When I was a kid, my motivation to run was so I could see my friends, and because I loved to run. The stamina came along with me because it had to – without it, no matter what motivation I had, I wouldn’t get there.

And so that’s been my week. Bleary eyes, LOTS of coffee, and a whole heap of writing and still more to go. But it’ll be okay, because I’m looking forward to Christmas when I can forget all about it and listen to our youngest belt out carols on her guitar. Yes, motivation comes in the form of Jingle Bells.

What’s your motivation?  Stamina? What keeps you writing when you feel like throwing in the towel?

 Out tomorrow “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my latest Gazette newspaper column to my blog. This week I’m talking about  why new homes must be built in villages…**

Diary of a hopeful author: How I write to Snow Patrol

It’s “Wednesday Wafflings” when I post the latest entry in my Diary of a Hopeful Author…Photo of a Diary

When I was fifteen I wanted a personal stereo. I used to watch anyone else that had one and feel envious of their headphones plonked on their heads like a steel crown. The earpieces were foam circles, little pieces of squashy heaven that transmitted music for your own amusings without anyone else being able to hear.

When I eventually got one following a long, hard campaign to my mum (poor woman), I was made up. You never saw me. I was lost in a world of tinny 80s music; Madonna’s Material Girl and Kajagoogoo were my friends. It was the best thing ever. Fifteen and switched off from the world.

Anyone’s who’s seen a fifteen year old will know switched off is common, much like tutting is common to those over 40. We all switch off (and tut) of course. We can’t help it. In fact, I’d go so far to say that it’s essential. This week, switching off while I write has been the way to roll. But, since I’m not fifteen anymore and therefore not living in a 3-bed with my brother and sister fighting over whose turn it is to be last in the re-used bath water, I can do what I like. And that means music.

Technology, much like my age, has moved on. Now we have iPods and boy do I like to use ours. TVs moved on, too – i.e. you can watch it on your iPad on catch up – which means the Ian Rankin Imagine programme on BBC2 I mentioned last week has been an inspiration again this time round. You see, when Ian writes, he switches on some music first. But it ain’t just any old jingle. Nope. When Ian Rankin writes his books, he listens to the same tunes. I know, I sat up at this point and listened too.

You see, what he does is play the same band on his CD player and when he hears that music it signals him to write. It switches on, if you will, his writing button. Bit like hearing an ice-cream van and being catapulted into childhood. Or the dentist’s chair. Whichever.

So, I thought I’d give Rankin’s roll a whirl, just with more technology. Shunning CDs and selecting an iPod, this week I have been working on novel number 2 to 90% Snow Patrol and 10% Stone Roses. And do you know, it works.  Who knew? Normally, if you remember maybe from an earlier blog post of mine, I’d write to episodes of 24 on Love Film.com, and while this is fun, it’s not always productive. All the more made a nightmare by the fact that I have an Xmas deadline for editing this darn book. Bottom line: I have to FOCUS. Holy Jesus.

So thank the lordy lord that Snow Patrol is working for me. The foam circles from my personal stereo of the 80s have been replaced with little buds that slide out when I move, but hey ho. When the music’s on, my mind does this shift thing where I am instantly thinking like the main character. And, given that main character has just had a sex change (in a way…), this is a vital focussy type thing.

I am now over half way through the edit. Hold me to this, won’t you. Get on my case. I have to finish this thing by Christmas, at which point I will switch off from everything. Accept this time, no longer being fifteen, it’ll be with (several) sherries.  When I was fifteen, it was spirits siphoned from my mate Antonia’s parents’ drinks cupboard. Don’t ask.

If you want to catch the Imagine show with Ian Rankin, I’ve popped on the BBC iPlayer link Click here >>

 Out tomorrow “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my latest Gazette newspaper column to my blog. This week I’m talking about the why I just don’t get what youth centres are for…**

Diary of a hopeful author: How Ian Rankin gave me the guts to make some changes…

It’s “Wednesday Wafflings” when I post the latest entry in my Diary of a Hopeful Author…Photo of a Diary

I used to love playing dressing up. As a kid, anything was fair game. Pirate. Policeman. Shelf stacker. There wasn’t much to do in the way of amusement back in them days so all you had was your imagination.

I mean, yes, sometimes you’d work that imagination alone, kitting yourself out as Chief Inspector Rant and ticketing all your teddies, chucking your Barbies in jail for snogging Action Man. Other times you’d get make-believing on mass, a whole gang of us from our estate playing ‘on the backs’ aka a huge outlying field, imagining we were a secret, undercover Grifter Gang infiltrating a dastardly criminal cartel.  

Thing was, I always remember swapping roles. Not you know, transferring Grifter Gang positions, but I mean going from a girl to a boy and back again. That was the great thing about make believe. You could be anyone, anyone you liked. In your imagination it was like social boundaries, gender role expectations never existed. Sure, it got confusing when one of us yelled, ‘right, all the boys over here!’ and half us girls would get up and troop on over, but hey! We were liberators, trail blazers. And, most importantly, we made stuff up.

And that’s leads me to my week. The edit of my novel is all about making stuff up. Plots, sub plots, dialogue. You name it, I pluck it out of thin air. Trouble is, I’ve had a niggling doubt – and it’s all about the main character.

Another part of making stuff up as a writer, thankfully, is making excuses to watch TV by calling it ‘research.’  So, in the name of ‘research’ last week, I watched a programme on BBC One called, ‘Imagine.’ I know – a somewhat appropriate name.

Anyhoo, the subject of the interview type, fly-on-the-wall show that week was the blockbusting criminal author, Ian Rankin. The man is a legend. Not only that, he seems a nice bloke, unaffected by his fame, preferring to dress in old jumpers and shun the limelight. But that wasn’t what got me going. No. Rather it was the way he worked.

You see, as a writer, sometimes I have no idea if the way in which I work is correct. Like, half way through a plot, I may change it. Is that correct to do that? Or, say, when I read an edit, I may totally amend the dialogue. Is that correct, I ponder? You get the idea. But watching Rankin was a revalation. He changes stuff all the time, I mean all the time. Seriously, if that man were a weather cock he’d be all over the shop.

The reassuring thing about it all was that maybe I am, you know, doing stuff correctly. And, more’s the point, is there a definitive right and wrong to the whole writing process anyway? What works for one, may not for another and all that. Either way, watching Rankin chop and change his way through his novels gave me a new confidence. It gave me the confidence to change stuff, too.

For a while now, I’ve been toying with the idea of changing my main protagonist. The novel is a psychological thriller and the main character so far has been a bloke. The first write went well. I did all the character bios, mapped everything out. But, by the time 80k words were written, it slowed. The edit, as you may have picked up, has been slow, too. And then I watched Mr.Rankin on TV.

Hey, I thought, this man laughs in the face of normality! And so, come the edit of Chapter 8 of my book I took a bold, please God, confident step: I changed the main character from a man to a woman. Yup. I have gender swapped my protagonist, transversed, if you will, the gender gap and crossed the line. Just like we used to do when we were kids playing on the backs in Lancashire, I have swopped roles. And, do you know what? It’s working. The book has suddenly come alive. Everything about the character now as a lass instead of a bloke works a treat, all slotting into place like a key in a lock. Bingo!

I’m on it now. If you recall last week’s diary entry, I said my 1st draft edit deadline was Christmas. Remember? You are holding me to it, right? Well, I am pleased to report, Sir/Madam that I am now at the half way point. I know, get me. I have found a sudden fresh enthusiasm for the novel and it’s all to do with a simple change in character. It has meant also gender reassignments, if you will, for the other characters to make it all fit (it’s based in a prison…), but, so far so good. So here I am, having swopped from being a man to a woman, wondering what to make this new character wear. Really, changing stuff is great.

If you want to catch the Imagine show with Ian Rankin, I’ve popped on the BBC iplayer link Click here >>

 Out tomorrow “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my latest Gazette newspaper column to my blog. This week I’m talking about the why crimes happen and why they shouldn’t…**

Diary of a hopeful author: How a deadline can make stuff happen

It’s “Wednesday Wafflings” when I post the latest entry in my Diary of a Hopeful Author…Photo of a Diary

When I was young I loved studying. Loved it. I was one of those spectacled, nerdy kids who lapped up the books and got down to some serious studying every evening and thought it fun. FUN. 

That’s right. You heard correctly. Then exams came round. Exams. I’m afraid to say they never really fazed me. Christ, I sound like a right arrogant muppet, so let me explain. Exams got me nervous, of course. Exams made me question whether I knew anything. (30 years on, nothing’s changed there…) But, BUT, exams came with a deadline. A deadline! They gave you a date! You had to be there. On time! Oh it sang to my young time-concious heart like Romeo to Juliette, or Homer to Marg.

Because, you see, I love a deadline. What can you do with a deadline? You either meet it or you don’t. You sink or you swim. And that’s why I like ‘em. Deadlines are the take no prisoner guardians of time. They stand by the gates of hours and minutes, tapping their watch, shotgun in hand. You’ve got a deadline? You meet it, punk! (that sounded better in my head)

And so, to my week. I have set myself a deadline. I refer here to the editing of my book, novel number two which, it seems I have been working on forever.

Now look, I don’t know about you but I can be a cracking procrastinator. Olympic medal winning. Skirting boards need cleaning? Pass me the cloth. Cupboards need re-organising? When do I start? Kids’ rooms need cleaning? Get me…Actually, no. It’s not come to that.  You get my meaning. Add this top draw procrastination into a book edit and well, you’ve got nothing, really. No progress or, at the very least, slow progress. And so I have now turned to my old friend the deadline. If I am going to complete the 1st (only the first!) edit of this novel, then I need to get down and dirty with time.

The deadline I have set is Christmas. Christmas. I say it again so you can remember it. You can remember it so you can hold me to it. Oh crap. Saying it on this blog, you see, means I have to do it. Think of yourself as my boss, if you will, telling me to get the bloody work done by Christmas or goddammit I’m outta here! (Again, better in my head).  Meeting the deadline means averaging two edit chapters a week at minimum, sometimes more. It sounds lame, two, but trust me, it’s a lot. I have 100k words to edit. 100k words with a lot of Lovefilm app distraction on my iPad.

If you’ve got a deadline, then buddy, I salute you. If not, then go get one. Let’s do this deadline thing together, people, because, when our backs are up against the wall, it’s the only way to get things done. Nerdy glasses optional.

 Out tomorrow “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my latest Gazette newspaper column to my blog. This week I’m talking about the UK Police Commissioner elections and how ridiculous they are…**