#amreading / #amwriting ~ No. 2

Welcome to my latest reading and writing exploits – including interesting blogs, books, news on social media, alongside my ongoing trials and tribulations as I attempt to write my first book.

#amreading

It was Mother’s Day recently and I got spoiled with Hotel Chocolat chocolates, a bottle of Prosecco and an Amazon voucher. Cue some serious time spent reading book blogs and reviews trying to find some new authors and books.

Here are some of the books I one-clicked:

  • Black Hills, by Nora Roberts – a really good romantic suspense story as well as a romance. Lil and Coop have history and she makes him work to get her back. She’s a strong, kick ass heroine and there’s some interesting stuff in there about cougars and big cats (Lil runs an animal refuge). Not one of Robert’s very best, but really enjoyable all the same.
  • How To Catch A Wild Viscount, by Tessa Dare (currently free on Amazon)  – my first novel by this author and I really enjoyed it. I don’t dip my toes into historical novels as much as I used to, but I really enjoyed her writing style in this novella. It reminded me a little of Lisa Kleypas – who I love. I’m going to check out Dare’s Spindle Cove series soon.
  • Almost Like Love, by Abigail Strom – I haven’t read anything by Strom in a while, but I LOVED this story; contemporary romance at it’s best. It’s funny and tender, sexy and geeky, with the best Dungeons and Dragons scene EVER! Honestly, it’s worth reading just for that. This book gave me the feels in all the right ways.

Around social media:

  • This great little post on The Pros and Cons of Plotters and Pantsers, from The Write Practice, gives the pros and cons around different planning approaches when writing.
  • This is a little out of date, but there is the sad news that Samhain Publishing are closing their doors. They have some great authors that they’ve worked with over the years. Potentially, this is a worrying reflection on the state of publishing today.
  • Stacey is SASSY, an excellent blog, reviewed Jill Shalvis’ latest Cedar Ridge novel – Nobody But You. I can’t wait for this book. I’m a die hard Jill Shalvis fan and Stacey’s fab review left me wanting more.
  • Follow Red Cheek Reads on Twitter – amongst other things, they tweet about free books and books on sale. I’ve picked up some great freebies over the last few weeks from their tweets.
  • A final treat, again from Twitter, is from @ForeverRomance – I love this quote!

 

  • #amreading #amwriting no 2 twitter quote forever romance

#amwriting

I wrote a piece of flash fiction this week. For those who don’t know, flash tends to be 1000 word or less. It’s a great way to exercise your writing muscles and it gives prospective readers a good idea what to expect from you. Ideally, I want to join an existing flash fiction meme, but I’m struggling to find one. I know there’s a hashtag on Twitter (#flashfiction) so maybe I’ll just do that or start my own. I’ll be posting soon, so if you’re interested look out for that.

I’m knee deep in my second draft of my romance novella and finding my way through the editing process. It started off well. I printed off my first draft and got out the old red pen to correct mistakes and move things around. I had a pretty clear idea of what I wanted to change. So I changed it, then realised that I needed to add quite a few more scenes and decided to develop a few ideas / characters. This rapidly devolved into an overwhelming feeling of it all getting out of control. This is a familiar feeling now so I kind of know how to handle it:

1) Panic 2) Sit with head in hands wondering what the hell I was thinking when I started this 3) Tell myself to get a grip 4) Make another cup of coffee 5) Pick up a pen and some paper and try and organise my scattered thoughts!

It took a few days, but I managed to come up with another plan (there’s that damn word again!) and I think I’m back on track now. I’m aiming to finish this second draft by the end of next week, before the kids break up for Easter and I lose my writing days to child care!

Wish me luck!

Kx

 

Making Notes: Writing Tip ~ No.1

writing pic for blog

To begin with I need to say that I’m no expert. These posts about writing are just me sharing what I’m learning along the way. If they’re helpful, great. If they’re not, ignore them!

A wise bird once told me “Always finish writing for the day with something left to write.”

It pains me to say it, but he (my partner) was right. It can be intimidating coming to your computer not knowing where you’re going with the story or what you’re going to write when you sit down. Do you need to go through your notes again? Re-read what you wrote yesterday? What do you have planned? What’s going on with your characters? If, like me, it’s easy to get put off and your heads spinning with a hundred and one things about your WIP, then maybe this writing tip will help.

It’s not rocket science but it works for me. For five minutes, before I finish writing each day, I type in red font at the end of my current draft, my ideas for the remainder of the scene – if I haven’t finished it – or the following scenes if I have.

 

screenshot for blog notes in red 

The notes are brief, but they give me direction the next time I sit down to write. I have a memory like a sieve, so I have to write down any ideas that I have. By doing this it saves me time when I start to write again.

As you can see the notes are very rough; I literally just type what I’m thinking with no thought to editing or embellishing them. I’m sure they don’t make sense to anyone but me!

Sometimes I have to finish writing abruptly, so I only get to write a sentence – but I ALWAYS write something. It’s one of my most ingrained writing habits now. It really works for me, because I know that when I sit down and open my computer, I’ll know exactly where to start. That is a big obstacle overcome straight away.

Jodi Picoult quote

Thanks for reading and happy writing!

Kx

That Illusive First Draft

Some days, when I’m staring at my computer screen and the words are stuck behind a very large and annoying mental barrier, I think – ‘there’s no way I’m ever going to finish this bloody story’. I’ll admit it – the air may even go a little blue at times! In the past when this has happened, I’ve left that story and gone on to start something else. There’s always another idea germinating – why not go and start that and see if that comes more easily?

The bottom line is – this is a total cop out. I know it, even while I’m doing it. I have come to realise that the most important thing I need to do is FINISH THE FIRST DRAFT!!!

Yes, capitals and exclamation marks are necessary because, ultimately, if I don’t finish the first draft there won’t be a story. I can’t edit and redraft and FINISH a story if I haven’t got the skeleton of a first draft.

first draft quote

This all sounds really easy in theory, but let me outline the obstacles to finishing the first draft:

  1. I can get bogged down in editing as I write. Some writers fire through their first draft and don’t worry about spelling mistakes, holes in their plot, or other general problems. It’s all about finishing it. After that, you can address those problems in the following drafts. I can’t do this. I’ve tried, but no, I can’t do it. So I’m constantly trying to restrain myself from editing as I write. I’m getting better at it but it’s a struggle. Maybe it’s an OCD tendency, or maybe I should be an editor instead of a writer? Either way, it’s a barrier to finishing that precious first draft.
  2. My planning or lack of it. I am naturally a panster (for more on pansters v plotters see here). This means I find planning hard and often plan as I’m writing, rather than beforehand, but this can also mean that my writing can grind to a halt if I don’t know where the story is going.
  3. I’m over complicating things. For example, I can get all twisted up in the thought process of my characters, or what’s driving them, their back-story, or how I’m building the tension between the characters. In short – the minute details. I’m trying to suspend the need for every single detail until the later drafts when I can layer in emotion and add more of everything. If I get stuck now, I’m trying to move on to the next bit instead of feeling despondent and giving up.
  4. Having more than one project on the go. Admittedly, sometimes this works well for me. I can write two projects concurrently when my productivity is high, but sometimes one project overrides the other and I end up dropping one. More often than not, I don’t pick it up again. I have decided to focus on one project at a time from now on.

 

first draft Hemingway quote

Clearly, every writer has different methods and goals. I think a really important aspect of writing is finding good habits and routines that work for you. I have read so many blogs and articles about the writing habits of famous authors – most with gentler advice than Hemingway! Some facets strike a chord, but, ultimately, it’s all about finding your own path and part of that is picking out the information that grabs your attention and piecing it all together to create a plan that works for you.

If, like me, you are finding your path through trial and error then good luck and please feel free to share how you manage to finish your first drafts!

Happy writing!

Kx