Tag Archives: Novel

Diary of a hopeful author: The book pulping has to stop

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

Photo of a Diarya Hopeful Author…

Call me old-school, but I like books. Not simply the e-ones, although, to be fair, they are amazing, increasing, as they do, the universal access to reading and information and the wonder that is knowledge. But books, the ones with spines and pages and the heady scent of learning – they are something else. And so, I bring to you this week – whilst  I swim in the deep end of my final book edit -a piece I wrote back in June 2012 for an old ‘Media Monday’ post, all about how Manchester Central Library were going to cull their book stores, pulping them, just like a similar proposal for New York Central Library.  Have a read and see what you think. I, meanwhile, shall go edit another 20,000 words…

 

“They’re pulping all the books” – Media Monday post – June 2012

Book pulping. Is it a) a new a Tarintino film; b) a fist-fight at a literary festival; or is it c) the shredding of books from a library. Well, this week, Manchester Central Library has found itself in a pulping mess after – in an open letter to the Head Librarian (you can read it here) – a host of eminent literary names called for a halt to the destruction of thousands of library books from the vaults of the long-standing library.

According to The Guardian, it turns out that for the past 18-months, Manchester Central Library has been culling – pulping – its stack of non-fiction books because renovations for the elegant domed building have not included enough room for, well, all the books.  You’ve got to question what on earth they were they thinking when the renovation decisions were being made. Just imagine the meeting where they discussed the library’s future. ‘Right, so, we need to renovate, yes?’ Cue murmurs of agreement. ‘It’s going to cost £170million and take three years. It will look fabulous. Any other considerations? Anyone? We’ll have enough space, right? Right? Great. Custard slice?’ Hmmm.  The thing is, I understand why libraries

Manchester Central LibraryManchester Central Library – but where are the books?

have this predicament. The more books they have, the more space to store them becomes an issue – it is a problem the New York Central Library is experiencing right now in their own renovations process.

But the point of a library is to have books. And those books are used by the people to learn, to expand their knowledge. Take older books away and you take away a history, a timeline of information and a generation of experience and thought. It turns out I’m not the only one who thinks this way. In their open letter, the literary figures said: “We are concerned that far too much of the irreplaceable collection is in danger of being lost forever. We demand that the current destruction of stock is halted and that a thorough investigation of the library’s disposal policy is carried out.”

In this age of the digital book, there is a clear argument that the use of books via such media can provide constant access to literature resources whilst saving valuable space and money. This I agree with in many ways. But to destroy old books, just like that, with no consultation with the public who use them and in many ways you could argue own them? That’s wrong. Would artifacts be destroyed from a museum? Or Royal documents or jewels be scrapped? Of course not – so why these books?

The Manchester Central Library was built in the Great Depression as a symbol of hope, its vast circular inscription reading “exalt wisdom and she shall promote thee”. Maybe, before they destroy any more books, the powers that be should stop and read that inscription for a second. At least it’s one set of words that can’t be pulped – I hear stone’s is hell to pick out of a shredder.

 What do you think? Should books be pulped or kept?

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

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: Rolling with the punches in a pink tutu…

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

Hey there. How was your summer? Long-time no see. Well, I’m back. You may (or, most likely, may not) have noticed, I’ve been unusually quiet over the course of the summer. And now, like a fairy in a pink tutu (?) I’m skipping into autumn, humming a tune and it’s all systems go. The reason I’ve been away is, to be honest, I needed a break and wanted to have some family time. My kids are getting bigger and I have a sinking feeling in my heart that this may have been the last summer they truly want to spend the whole of it with me. I know. I am a lyrical drama queen, but then I guess I am Irish.

Anyhoo, the great thing about having a break is that it gives you time to think. And read. And I do love a read. A writer can’t write if she doesn’t read. Right?This year, we went to France camping (rained so heavy one night the tent nearly caved in – me and hubbie drank neat Cointreau out of the bottle while we guarded the tent. Slept surprising well after that…). France was followed by Centre Parcs in Holland and that was where the real reading began, um, for no other reason than I could actually see the page at night (turns out camping torches don’t work so well…). With the iPad Kindle app thingamajig loaded up, I turned to one book that may surprise you. It was the autobiography of Bear Grylls. Mud, Sweat and Tears, it’s called. As a writer (of sorts), I always go everywhere with my Moleskin (get me) note book and pen to scribble ideas on. Turns out I needed it a lot this time, because Bear gave me a fair bit to ponder. For those of you who don’t know the big Bear, let me shed some fairy dust on it for you. He’s a British adventurer who was once in the SAS, climbed Everest (at 21!) and is now a huge TV person type man who, as the Stranglers say, is Big In America. Oh, and he fronts a show called Man vs. Wild (or Born Survivor in the UK). You’d think a fellow like this – old Etonian, posh voice – would be a bit of arse. But turns out he’s not. Just goes to show you, we must never judge. The delight is in the discovery, as they say. Bear has wise things to say – and I ended up spending every night of our first few days in Holland reading his book. I even got up at 3 a.m. unable to sleep – and read his book.  What is it about certain autobiographies that make us look at our own lives and question them?

Grylls scribbles down pearls of wisdom, some passed down to him from older generations, some learned from his own experiences. How could I ignore that? ‘Dig deep’ is a phrase of his that sticks in the mind. Along with ‘Who dares wins’ the SAS motto. Other phrases stick too. Like ‘roll with the punches’ – a phrase from his mum. This one made me really think. Rolling with the punches means excepting whatever comes your way, don’t always fight it because you never know where it may take you. I repeated the phrase to my kids. It didn’t quite go to plan. ‘Why do I have to roll?’ asked the youngest, frowning. ‘Do we roll down the hill?’ said the eldest. ‘’cause that’s fun!’ I guess I need to explain metaphors a little more. Reading a couple of other books on holiday helped all round. I got through While I was Asleep by SJ Watson, a debut novel and well worth the hype. Cracking writer. Also read Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ book, News of a Kidnapping. Highly recommend it – the man is a Nobel prize-winning genius.

Anyway, now I’m back in Blighty, rolling with the punches is the new me. In fact, the new me is soon to be a new weekend columnist for another local newspaper. I know! What were they thinking? I’ll let you know next week which paper it is, but what I can say now is that I’ll be writing a regular column for the re-launch of their new glossy weekend magazine. Nerves, woman. Control the nerves. I have to do new pictures (aargh!), and an interview sort of thing to introduce myself. Gulp. I am really looking forward to it – and it will all be alongside my weekly Gazette column. Happy, happy days.

I don’t know what’s going to happen with it all. I don’t even know if it will all work out. But as Bear says (alright, well, his mum), I’m going to roll with the punches. I’ll have a laugh and see what happens. In the meantime, I’m going to keep editing my next novel in which I am knee deep (still no bloody title, mind) and I’ll also be changing the blog post line up, just to enhance it a touch. Think of it as a blog makeover, if you will, but with just the same amount of wrinkles. It’s like a fairy in a tutu skipping into Autumn. New season, new look.  Let’s roll with those punches then and see where it takes us. Put ’em up!

Links: Bear Grylls Twitter, Mud, Sweat & Tears autobiography

**Out tomorrow “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my latest newspaper column to my blog. This week it’s all about why our town shop fronts should be better**

Diary of a hopeful author: Would you want your old life back?

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

I went to a music festival at the weekend. I know! Get me! It was the amazing Nibley Music Festival and we all had a whale of a time. Many a band played on the stages, some of which were new and local, others which were older and well, not local. One of these bands was The Christians. Do you know them? They were big, in the UK at least, in the 1990s and sung songs like Ideal World and Hooverville. (If you don’t know them I’ve stuck a link below so you can watch them on You Tube.) Anyway, there we all were right by the main stage watching them when it got to in between songs and the lead singer spoke. He talked about how things were back in the 90s when they were really big – and then he said something that made me stop in my dancing tracks. ‘We want our lives back,’ he said. That phrase stayed in my head for the rest of the day – even when I was boogying to Dodgy and laughing my little head off, not that I’d had a festival drink, you understand (red wine).  

Afterwards, as we trooped on home, our legs weary, our ears ringing to within an inch of their lives, I got to thinking about what he had said. What makes someone say that they want their life back? The life The Christians had when they were big must have been amazing – fame, fans, um, fine food …(sorry, was going for an alliterating three fs there…) What must have happened to them along the way to make them want it all back a decade or two down the line? Take a look at our own lives and how does this relate? Do we all want our old lives back? Bachelor days, student days, child-free days, successful days? Aren’t there times in our lives when we all think: I’d just like to re live that time again just once? The whole thing made me think about my writing. When I was younger, writing wasn’t my goal – I was too distracted by other things and my career choice was marketing and I was going to conquer it! (think power suits…I know…I had big hair, too).  Don’t get me wrong, I always wrote a little – poems, plays, bit and bobs – because I did like to write. But it was only as I got older did I realise that it was my passion, that I had to do it, had to go for it. And I guess that’s my point: I never had it, the success, so I can’t wish for it back. Does that make me lucky? Are we lucky if we come to something later than earlier in life? Or is it just a case of whichever way the cookie crumbles?

I do wonder sometimes if my life would be the way it is now if I had gone into writing when I was younger. I might not have met my hubbie, not had my kids – who knows? This week, my book, The Boy Who Played Guitar, officially came out in paperback and when I held the actual copy in my hands on Monday I couldn’t actually speak (miracles do happen…). Tears sprung to my eyes. I have been working at writing allsorts now for 15 years in between everything else – in between getting married, working and commuting to London, having two babies, more work. But do you know what? Even though it was hard all that writing with minimum success, I wouldn’t change anything (okay, except for my feet, I’d change those – they are truly appalling. Who knew nails could get that thick? Sorry.)

We’re off on holiday next week (hoorah!) and while we’re away, the hubbie and I are going to talk (drink French wine) through the launch party for my book (just the phrase launch party makes me want to run around screaming) and finalise marketing things for it (plus synching it with the Kindle version – not quite happened yet, dear Amazon…) Who knew all this would happen? Who knew I’d make great friends with lovely Twitter and blog people along the way who are always 100% supportive (like Make Shift Mummy and Citizen of Ville Joie)? And I’m pushing 40! With some (lots) eye wrinkles!

So if someone said to me do you want your life back, I’d say, nah, you’re alright, I’ve already got one, thanks. Yup, our lives now may not be the ones we had mapped out for ourselves or had lived 20 odd years or so back, but do you know what? They’re pretty okay, actually. So, if you were asked the same question – do you want your old life back – what would your answer be?

Links: Nibley Music Festival

To get The Boy Who Played Guitar in paperback (only if you want to…), here are the links: UK Amazon   USA Amazon Europe search link    PS A bit cheeky of me, but if you do kindly read it, could you stick a review on Amazon or your blog? Enormous thanks!

Out on Thursday “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my latest newspaper column to my blog. This week it’s all about equality and how women should be Bishops…**

Diary of a hopeful author: My book’s soon out in paperback..!

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

 My book is going into print! A paperback! This is not quite what it seems but to me, this week, it might as well be everything. ‘Your dark circles are getting bigger, mum,’ says my youngest. I give her a hug and sigh. ‘Sweetie, when you get to my age everything gets bigger – and it’s not my favourite thing.’ She narrows her eyes at me. ‘I want to get bigger.’ I smile. ‘I know you do. And that’s good! You are growing.  A big girl!’ I think of my dark circles. ‘Not quite the same for mum, I’m afraid, love.’ She looks at me then announces she’s going to play with her Lego.

I make a coffee, and, as the rain slams against the window (who knew this was July?) I think of the past few days and, namely, my growing obsession with Amazon’s Create Space. Yup, I’ve been on Create Space. If you don’t know it, but it’s a new venture, if you will, by Amazon, and it allows self-published authors to create print-on-demand books of their own, well, books.  It means that every time someone orders your paperback book, they print it off -there are no reserved stocks or need for reprint. So, for example, take my novel, The Boy Who Played Guitar – I can now stick it on create Space, get it all set up and ta-da! One book in print and, get this – in my hands! I know! I shake just at the mere thought. Having your own book, printed in your hands is well, like every hopeful author’s dream. What they don’t tell you though is that dream will consist of days of frowning, formatting and some occasional swearing. ‘Are you still on there?’ asks my hubbie as I frown away at the laptop, the Create Space website open.  ‘If I. Could just. Understand how to. Format….Ah! There’s some information!’ I tap away at a ‘how to’ guide on formatting your book ready for printing to Create Space. My hubbie tuts.’You’re mad – lovely – but mad.’ I scratch my head and my hair sticks up – I fear he is right.

The good thing about mad though is that it gets things done. My obsession with Create Space has now produced a book waiting to be printed. My book. Mine! Oh God, I feel sick. If you fancy going down this route with your book too, a top tip – download their word template which has all the formatting built in and then insert your book into it. I didn’t realise you could do this at first and it took me ages to sort out, I mean ages – I didn’t wash for 2 days and the discarded mug mountain next to my computer could have qualified for an art installation.

The Create Space format is prescriptive and if your book doesn’t adhere to its format, it’s not going to work. Take a look at a paperback book and you’ll see that each right and left page have different margin sizes. The font’s specific, too, plus the headers and footers. All that is pre-formatted for you if you use the template.  With the cover, back and binding, there is a full service of formats ready to use. You can insert your own artwork, which I tried, but it turned out the pixels weren’t high enough (it needs to be a minimum of

The new cover – what d’you think?

300 pixels – this is opposed to ‘pixies’, as my daughter read it. Not the same thing. Although, nice mental image…) This means that, sadly, I have had to change my book cover. I’ve stuck it on this post – see what you think compared to the old one. Let me know what you reckon to the new one. I swear I took at least two hours deliberating what to do about the cover. I know, daft, but it’s things like this you end up obsessing over, because, once it’s done and out there, it’s really hard to turn back.

After the cover was done, I switched to pricing and, drum roll, royalties. Before you get excited, let me tell you something – the royalties are tiny. Tiny! The minimum price you can charge for your book on Create Space is £5.30, which, is reasonable, but earns you peanuts. I opted for a steady £5.99, which equates to $7.99. This earns me a small royalty per book. So why not just stick to Kindle editions, you may think? Well, the great, great thing about a digital download of your book is that it is cheaper for the reader (mine just £2.48) and the royalties are much higher for the author. But,  there are still many people who either prefer or want a paper back (over 70% of global book sales are still print formats, even though digital sales are shooting up and print declining). So, it means by making The Boy Who Played Guitar available in print format, I am tapping into 70% (run with me here) of the market that I couldn’t access before. Crikey, no wonder I’m cream crackered.

The old cover…

Anyhoo, I can happily report that in the next few days you can buy a paperback of my book from Amazon. How cool is that? Mind you, if you see a sales increase it will probably be me and my very excited family and friends buying loads because we are, you know, very, um, excited. I really hope it works out. I’m off this week to do a blog tour, pushing The Boy Who Played Guitar to be reviewed, hoping to get it read by a wider audience. And then? Who knows? Maybe the whole thing will grow and get bigger. Just as long as my dark circles don’t expand some more. I think might go and buy some more concealer today. I need it. Nice to meet you, by the way.

Right – over to you. Which book cover do you prefer for The Boy Who Played Guitar? And have you used Create Space? How have you found it? Are your dark circles growing, too…?  We’ve all got to stick together…

Links: Amazon’s Create Space

 Out on Thursday “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my latest newspaper column to my blog. This week it’s all about green wheelie bins (honestly)…*

Diary of a hopeful author: How to be better at proof reading-ish…

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

 

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.

Spotted any errors? Or do you 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. This week it’s all about stepping in dog-muck…*

Diary of a hopeful author: I’ve finished writing my novel!

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

I’ve finished writing my novel! Blimey, feels, quite weird typing that, but there you go, it’s true. This week, well, yesterday to be precise, I finally completed my second novel and the one thing above anything else that is on my mind as I type the last of the 90,000 words is, not ‘well done, me’, but: sweet God,  my shoulders feel like breeze blocks.  ‘Why do you sit like that?’ says my hubbie one morning walking past the study. I pause mid- typing and frown. ‘What d’you mean?’ He nods to my posture. ‘You are all Hunchback of Notre Dame there, honey.  Sit up a little.’ He pops his toast back into his mouth and leaves. I check out my arms. Bent. I try to look at my back but this means craning my head and this hurts. Giving up, I shuffle in my seat and sit up straight, and for a couple of minutes all is well – and then I slide back down to my Quasimodo position.  But, being on the final straight of writing the book, I do nothing about it, and so keep on typing.

When it gets to the following day, I get up at 5 a.m, write for an hour, get the kids ready and to school, then resume writing until 12 noon. I type that fast that I think you can see smoke coming from my laptop (I say this figuratively, but actually, that’s only because I’m using my newer netbook – the old laptop actually did give off smoke, so…). When I finally type the last word, I slump back into my seat and stare at the screen. I cannot believe it. I am done! Six months of research, character development, long, hard outline planning (not my favourite part, but, unfortunately vital to do), learning criminal law ins and out, and then actually writing it. Nope, cannot believe it. It’s a bit like travelling around the world and then getting to your final destination and realising that this is it, you have to go home now. I blink at the screen and, shutting it down, wonder how I can celebrate this little achievement. Shall I go for a run? Have some chocolate? Watch a film? Oh no. I do none of these things. I finish my 90,000 word novel – and then go and hang the washing out on the line. It is a sunny day, and, give it’s been tipping it down the past week, it’s a chance to get the clothes dry and it really is a lovely day for the washing to dry. Who said writing books wasn’t life on the edge, hey?

As I hang out the washing, I think about the novel and what I have to do next, namely The Edit. A lot of writers aren’t so keen on editing, but me, I love it. What’s not to like? You have a page that is full of words and that has to be better than a blank page staring back at you, the computer curser winking at you reminding you that you still. Haven’t . Written. Anything. The great thing this time round is that I have had two people reading my book as I write it – namely my mum and her friend.  And I have to say it has been the best move ever. It’s meant that they have kept an eye on things such as pace and consistency for me, which, when you are writing chapter after chapter is vital because things tend to blur and you are so close to the plotline that the words begin to merge together (this did actually happen one day, the words merging together. I had to stop typing and stand back, blinking. I was concerned I’d wrecked my eyes until it turned out there was a bit of sleep on my contact lense…).

The other handy thing about editing this time around is that my outline has been solid. I loathe writing outlines. I really do. But without it, it is way harder to actually write the book – rather like a house without foundations or running a marathon without doing the training first, without the outline in place first, the novel will all fall down. For this book, I put together a 50-page outline. I split the plot into four acts and did an eight-point arc for each Act. Then I broke it down into chapters, developing the plot into an eight-point arc per chapter, meaning each chapter had its own structured development and climax. It is a bit daunting to start with, but I did find that using the 8-point arc to map out each chapter helped enormously and reassured me that I was constructing each chapter properly so the reader felt it was good and the pace kept up.  While an outline is my most pants things to do, the plus side is that, if you write a thorough outline, then by the time you begin to actually write the novel, you can do just that – write. The plot is already worked out, so you can just let things flow. I did change the plot along the way as the writing developed, but that worked fine. If anything needed changing, I simply stopped writing, re-wrote the 8-point arc for that particular chapter, checked it against the other chapters for consistency, and then started writing again. See? Easy! Yeah, right. It’s frustrating at times, to be honest, but, as is becoming my favourite phrase these days, ‘it’s well worth it.’

That evening, washing back in and dry (living on the edge right there!), I call my friend and we meet for a cycle and walk as it’s a lovely sunny evening – plus she wants to feed me a glass of wine for finishing the book, so, you know,  I couldn’t say no. We say ‘cheers’ and taking big gulps (we had walked 4 miles…) She asks me what sort of book it is. I pause. ‘Do you know what, I think I may have written a thriller.’ She swigs her wine. ‘Really?’ I nod. I know it’s daft, but even though that’s the sort of book it must be – a thriller, drama type thing (it’s set in a prison with a Spanish doctor as the new convict) I’ve never actually acknowledged it. But d’you know, I’ve loved writing it. Turns out, I quite like this plot twist and turn thing. My friend holds up her glass. ‘Here’s to your thriller then,’ she says.  ‘Well done, mate.’ ‘Cheers,’ I say, and we drink (down) our wine.

That night, I get ready for bed and chat to my hubbie. ‘So are you pleased it’s all finished?’ he asks. I nod and brush my hair. ‘Yup. Just the edit now and I can get it sent off.’ He smiles. ‘Cool.’ I nod and reach up to scratch my back. ‘Aaargh!’ My face scrunches to a grimace. ‘What is it?’ asks my hubbie. I edge to the bed and sit. ‘My shoulder. It’s locked.’ He comes over and tuts. ‘I told you you were sitting at that laptop funny.’ I sigh. ‘Like the Hunchback of Notre Dame, you said.’ He rolls his eyes and rubs my shoulder.  I wince. I have turned into Quasimodo. A Quasimodo with a second novel.

Are you in the middle of writing your novel? Do you use the 8-point arc or want to know more about it? Let me know.

Out on Thursday “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my latest newspaper column to my blog. This week it’s all about Dementia…**

Wednesday Wafflings: My blog’s on the blink but the novel’s nearly finished…

Image It’s Wednesday Wafflings where I bring you the latest entry in my Diary of a Hopeful Author…

Okay so, I have to be quick. The reason is WordPress, or, more specificall – much like the Euro, Greece or Saturday night T – it’s on the blink. I’m not sure what the problem is (WordPress server). At any moment, my whole post could crash (WordPress server), so while I can’t waffle on like usual (is that a hoorah I hear? You at the back?), I can let you know what’s been a goin’ on – and that is mainly to do with my new novel. It’s been a long hard journey but I can now finally see the end to the 85,000 words I have written on it. I don’t have a title for it yet, but I just have three chapters to go, which would have been finished by now had I not a) taken some time off over school half term, b) had to rework the outline for the ending and c) just couldn’t be bothered. You know when you’ve been working hard and you can see the finish line but you just want to stop a while, catch your breath, maybe sip a drink? Well that’s what it’s been like. It does feel great being nearly finished, mind, like blinking at the sun after a long, cold winter. ‘It’s only 6 weeks until our summer holidays!’ screeches my hubbie. 6 weeks? 6 weeks to write the last 3 chapters,get the first edit done, get it read my my trusty reading buddies, the re-edit again. Hmmm. Like solving Greece’s debt crisis, that may be a tall order.

Anyway, I’m going to leave it there and crack on. Don’t want to tempt fate, so to speak. Hopefully, the bug issues with my blog (WordPress server) will be sorted shortly, and normal service will resume somehow (WordPress server). In the meantime, I can get this book finished and maybe have some time spare to clean out the kitchen cupboards – it’s a once-a-year event! Although, by the time I get to it, I might find that I just can’t be bothered…

** Tomorrow is Thursday Thoughts, when I post my weekly column to the blog. If everything’s up and running, I’ll do that. Fingers, legs, everything crossed…**