The Call of the Siren

singing cat 1

Recently for homework my daughter had to come up with her ideal super power and then describe why that was better than others. Her choice was invisibility. Since the exercise I have been thinking about what I would want for a super power. If given the choice to choose something truly amazing skill, what would it be?

I am a big fan of superheros. I love the Avengers and all their spinoffs.

My ultimate choice would be to sing like a siren, probably luring men to their deaths. So it seems if given the chance I would probably be a baddy with my super power. I’m not quite sure how I feel about that. As I currently sing like a dying cat, it was initially all about the voice. Whether I want the tail and the ocean living, I’m not so sure.

How can I use this for my writing? I’m not sure about that either, but it might be a useful thought later down the track. I love superheros and the powers they wield for good but it is an area I hadn’t thought of writing in. Although fairy tales are something I have played with, it could come into something else.

All of this is a distraction really. I am distracted.

My moving date is growing closer, and much quicker than I thought. My head is full of crazy ideas and lists of what I need for the house. As well as day dreaming about singing to strangers, I’m dreaming of my new desk with a view and the amazing writing I will do whilst I try not to stare out at the view.

I have only just realised that I am allowing myself to be distracted. I know it is happening and although I could do something about it, I’m not. This is because my editing is a bit scary. OK really scary. I have more or less rewritten the beginning. And there is a lot of work to go. Once I get into the process I’m fine, and although there is much to do, the editing is happening and it seems to be improving the story. But I am so worried that it might not improve that taking that first step of sitting down is not happening as often as it should.

But I am not getting stressed about this. I’m concerned but I know that once I’m in the new house things will settle down, my mind will clear somewhat and I will be able to do what I need to with my leave (as well as unpack boxes – I have a plan of one box, one scene, one box, one scene) and then it will be done before I know it.

Sometimes distraction is a good thing. Whether this is one of those times or not, I don’t know yet seems (I know very little right now). But I’m going with it and I’m carrying my notes wherever I go in case I get some time, or inclination, to sit down and write some words.

Editing my fantasy novel

snow

I am trying something a bit different with my edit of Snow. Well something new for me. I am following someone else’s editing plan to the letter. Every step of their plan and it’s a strange thing. Usually I take bits from others but not follow someone else’s plan so directly.

The plan I’m following is that of Susan Dennard.

The first step is to read through the manuscript and mark up the problem areas. As I read and marked with coloured lines (according to the instructions) I thought all was going well. There was a lot to do, lots of comments and coloured marks but I thought “it all works to make it stronger” and I’m sure it will.

The next step is to develop an outline. I did this, again as per the instructions, using index cards. I found this useful because I didn’t really have an outline before I started. This novel was written by the seat of my pants. It has been edited several times, so I had a reasonable idea but still found the actual process with a pen in hand quite useful.

I wrote out a summary of each scene, then went back over each and marked where there were problems, such as too long, too short, no antagonist or conflict. Then I put the two together, marking up each scene card with a sticky note from the notes I made when I read through. I started with plot issues and worked my way through the pile.

It was during this point that I thought, why am I using what works for someone else. It doesn’t feel like it’s working for me. It is just repetition; I’ve done this bit already.

But I persisted and by the time I started back through the pile of cards with the character issues it was starting to make more sense. Some index cards came through this process with no sticky notes but most had at least two and some are so covered I couldn’t see what was there originally.

With the marked up index cards and the notes of what I wanted this book to be I started on the hard stuff – although fun stuff. Putting all those needed changes into the manuscript itself. This takes time. It needs to take time to ensure that I am doing it properly. I have been pounding away at this stage for a week now and only a couple of chapters in. But I have found the process quite useful. If I was to do it again (with the next project) I might look at it a little differently but so far I’ve found Susan’s plan more than helpful.

There is a long way to go before the next stage, which is typing all my changes in. Although it might be worth considering typing in some changes as I go, if it helps the process to continue to flow.

My Writing Plans

shoes on deckAt the beginning of the year I discussed my plan for the year. I didn’t want to share all the details at the time because there was a lot going on (and there still is) namely the building of my house and planning the move. Then my parents went away leaving me to dog sit and that seemed to push my plans completely out.

I’m kind of back of back on track. I have the first short story out for the year, if several weeks behind schedule. I’m editing my fantasy novel (or at least I’m planning for the re-write and trying to stay positive). I am drafting my fantasy medieval trilogy (slowly) and starting to plan a series of novellas.

So I am crazy busy and all this while I (finalise the) building of my house and all that goes with moving. So this year is going to be a big one.

To give you an idea – here are my writing goals for this year (which may change as the year develops):

  • Snow (fantasy novel) to be out around August/September (not sure how likely that is, may be later)
  • Medieval fantasy trilogy to be fully drafted this year (all three books, total around 450,000 words)
  • Iski Flare Book 1 to be ready for release by Christmas.
  • Weekly blog posts with where I am at and tips to help other writers at a similar stage.

And all this while working full time, mothering full time and ….lots of other stuff.

So to make sure I can do what I want to with my writing I have a plan. (Doesn’t every writer?)

I have to pull my finger out and get on with it. I will get up and continue to write (or edit) for an hour first thing every day. I will fit in another hour of writing or writing related activity every day (probably in the evening) and use my free lunch times and weekends (when the child is with her dad) to get more done.

I have worked out roughly how many hours a week I have (about 15, give or take a couple).

Now if I used this 15 hours appropriately and productively I think I could achieve the following in a week:

Either:             Write about 22,000 first draft words

Or:       Edit somewhere between 5 and 15 scenes

Or:       Draft, edit and smooth out 10-15 blog posts

Or:       Outline or plot a single story idea to the point I could start a first draft.

When I first wrote these figures down I was quite surprised. I have a pretty good understanding of how long different activities take as I record my writing times and review regularly. So I’m sure that with focus the above figures give a close indication of what I could achieve.

So my plans are in place and underway. And they have been for a while now; it is just that I haven’t shared. Now that my projects are flowing reasonably well, if thickly, I’m more confident in how they are going. I’ll share my six monthly review in July to show how I’m going in meeting these goals.

Release of New Book

Searcher Cover-page0001

Finally, my first science fiction short story is up on Amazon.

The Searchers may have finally landed on the perfect planet. It has everything their people need to survive but then contact with the Station is lost. The small group could set up a new life away from the Station but it is harder to distance themselves from the past than they thought.