1. No Garlic Required – creating ‘A Construct of Angels’

What follows is a chronology that’s best read from the bottom up…

Use the images as markers – they separate the months from each other.

The story will continue at ‘A Vengeance of Angels’ 

A Construct of Angels is now available from;

Smashwords and Kobo as well as Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk

Amazon reviews for ‘A Construct of Angels’ - an archive.

(Amazon is in the habit of removing reviews from its pages without warning).

Related posts;

CreateSpace – Part IV of my anticlockwise journey towards a paperback - July 2013

Video, videas, videat..? A video competition – with prizes. - my attempt to promote CoA using live action scenes – June 2013

CreateSpace – Part III of my anticlockwise journey towards a paperback - June 2013

CreateSpace – Part II of my anticlockwise journey towards a paperback - May 2013

CreateSpace – Part I of my anticlockwise journey towards a paperback - May 2013

Practising my Author’s signature – with good reason. - May 2013

To CreateSpace…or not to CreateSpace? - May 2013

Instantaneous feedback – and some embarrassing praise. - May 2013

Bookmark – this page. - March 2013

Act One and Character Interview – Draegon Grey - March 2013

Author interview with Draegon Grey - Feb 2013

A Construct of Angels is FREE on Amazon  and The BIG Giveaway…the results. - Dec 2012

It’s been a busy old month! - November 2012

October 2012

A Construct Of Angels – Author Interview with Candace Knoebel

10th October

Time rolls on, it seems, and almost a month has passed since my last entry.  However, I’ve not been idle.  My WIP is very close to completion (again? I hear you cry) and CoA 1POV v12c – to give the WIP its full title – is two chapters away from being fully .html formatted.  Aside from the silly formatting mistakes that had to be cleared out, I discovered other errors during a quick glance through (mostly punctuation that the .html format objected to) so I embarked upon a full re-read of the book, but as it would appear on a Kindle.

At the same time, I had jEdit open and corrected each mistake as I discovered it on my ‘Kindle for PC’ set up.

Naturally, I found myself ‘polishing’ the MS once again, thus the version 12c.  No version 13 for me.  Sonya Loveday was kind enough to spare two or three days reading version 12b (the pre-html version) and has returned some very helpful comments as well as heaps of praise.  Thank you Sonya.  You are now listed in the acknowledgements section.

15th October

Friendly reader Amanda contacted me via Facebook to ask if my WIP was on Amazon yet because she would like to leave me some feedback.  I had been hoping for feedback whilst I was still in the writing stage.  It’s really too late to incorporate it now without making changes that might disturb the frangible nature of .html.  Still, starting my Amazon feedback would be a nice step forward.  Sonya and Candace are also awaiting to leave me something.

17th October

Wow!  That was fun.  I reached the end of my .html formatting (version 12d) and hit ‘save’ with a big sigh of relief.  After making myself a celebratory coffee and opening up a pack of celebratory chocolate digestive biscuits (I really know how to party!), I converted the .html  into a Kindle format.

Only to find that more than half of the text was in italics!!!

Okay, I thought.  Don’t panic – it’s bound to be a silly little formatting error.  I hope.

To explain, italics in .html are bracketed by <i> to begin and </i> to end.  This was done initially by a ‘Find and Replace’ in Word and any subsequent italics were added manually into the .html document as I went along.

I found a couple of instances where I’d opened with </i> (oops) and closed with </p> – which denotes the end of a paragraph! 

Lesson there?  Don’t work in .html when you’re exhausted from sleeping in strange hotels or Spanish beds.

Those errors fixed, I edited a few (score) more items and checked the Kindle (for PC) layout.  Fine – except the artwork refused to show on my Kindle (for PC).  I spent a day trying to fix that, then realised that Amazon require me to send them the artwork separately, so it would work itself out.

 So, tonight I uploaded my WIP to Amazon, along with Ravven’s artwork and sat back to see what would happen.  A polite message appeared telling me that it would take twelve hours for the book to be published.

Twelve hours!!  In this age of instant gratification, that’s a lifetime!!

18th October

Well, I’ve only been and gone and done it!  Yesterday, trying to make sure that everything was going to run smoothly in the run-up to the weekend, I began the process of uploading my completed, .html’d and Kindle’d WIP to Amazon, fully expecting problems along the way; problems that would in all likelihood delay the publication and take me past the hoped-for launch date of Saturday October 20th.  If I could get it all uploaded and ready to hit ‘publish’ at 8pm on the day, I would be sorted and I could email and text absolutely everyone I know.

But it didn’t go to plan.  Amazon KDP is not like WordPress where a post or page can be written and held back, then revealed like Dynamo to astonish the world. 

By Thursday lunchtime (today) I was PUBLISHED. 

Did I say that loudly enough?  I WAS PUBLISHED

In a panic, I tried to hide it, to delay it until Saturday, but could find no way of hiding the fact that my WIP…nay, my BOOK was live. 

There had been a small calendar on Amazon that was visible during the upload sequence, but it would only allow retrospective dates to be selected; dates in the past.  Not sure what use that would be, but it didn’t help me at all.

So…it’s done.  ‘A Construct of Angels’ is really real (as Sara Finn might say).

So why do I feel anticlimactic? Why do I feel slightly sad that the end – the whole ambition – has finally been achieved?  Have I been conditioned to fail by so many agencies saying ‘no’ to me for so long?

Or is it because a journey is all about…the journey itself?  Once the dizzy heights (as I once saw them) of publication have been achieved, is that it? 

Why does all that hard work, all that effort, concentration, determination to succeed and sheer damn persistence just seem to fade into the background noise of ‘been there, did that’?

If that is indeed the case, then the only remedy may be to begin another journey – ‘A Vengeance of Angels’.

Time to move forward, then. 

Time to become the prolific writer that I am certain I can be.  The floodgates for the sequels are groaning, having held back my desperate need to pen the next book for far too long.

But I needed to see this; to feel that it IS actually possible to succeed and get something published.  Otherwise, who am I writing for?  Myself and a handful of appreciative bloggers?  No, I needed something bigger – no disrespect to everyone who boosted my confidence and showered me with positive comments for my Six Sentences, half-chapters and in two cases, the entire MS.  You helped to nudge me closer to my goal.  I may not have made it without you.  Thanks for every positive word you typed.

I will most likely be wrapping this page up at the end of October, to concentrate on the ‘VoA’ page instead. 

That does feel sad – I’ve been adding to this page for two years.  But, as I said above…it’s time to move on. 

25th October

Candace Knoebel has offered to do an author interview for me.  Me?  I happily agreed and was duly sent a list of questions which I returned last night.

26th October

Not finished with October yet…I have had a VERY BUSY week. 

I spent the weekend in a flurry of activity, emailing everyone on my contacts list to let them know that my book (yes…MY BOOK!) was live on Amazon and I was offering pdf copies to anyone who didn’t yet have a Kindle. 

Don’t judge me…I don’t have one either.  I still use Kindle for PC - I find it to be more convenient having it on my Netbook. 

I also spent a lot of time answering congratulatory emails from friends close and distant. 

The pdf creation wasn’t as straightforward as it sounds.  Because I spent the (what I thought was the) final review of CoA in the html document, I didn’t have an up-to-date Word  that I could convert to pdf format.  So, I copied the html version into Word and proceeded to un-format it, removing all the <i>&<p> notes as well as the emdashes, the quotes and the single quotation marks.  It took a while.  But as I worked through, re-italicising Sara Finn’s thoughts (and she has a hell of a lot of them!), I encountered dozens of errors that were unacceptable to me.  Most were grammatical, but a couple of typos had still found their way through.

I even found that I’d mis-spelled ‘Vengeance’. *sigh*

I couldn’t leave the Kindle book up there without attempting to update the errors so I spent a lot of yesterday trying to get the live version replaced.  Eventually, I think, I did it.

And as if that wasn’t enough, Candace Knoebel has just posted our Author Interview on WordPress.  Hurrah!  I’m an Author – officially!

31st October 2012

Well,  ‘A Construct of Angels’ (or CoA 1POV v12e – to give the WIP its full title) is pretty much put to bed.  Aside from promoting it as much as I can and the possibility of making a live-action video, ‘Vengeance of Angels’ will now be my main project.  At the time of typing this, I am 15,500 words into VoA and counting.

See you all over at ‘Vengeance of Angels’

October 2012 entry ends here.

September 2012

2nd September

It suddenly occurred to me that September 16th (the first day of CoA – the day Sara meets Michael) was only two weeks away.  An appropriate deadline has just presented itself.

I made my decision – procrastinate no longer on the front cover of the book!   This, as well as the deep POV issue (see below) was one of the two remaining barriers to my feeling that CoA was complete and ready to upload.  So, tonight, whilst in my purple hotel room in Carlisle, I began assembling the necessary components for the front cover.

3rd September

Front cover largely completed (see below).  Now carrying out the fine-tuning to blend the two disparate images together – and then adding a suitable, moody tone to the picture.

4th September

Getting the star above the tower into a perfect shape seemed to take forever.  First it hung in the top left-hand corner of the cover, then it shone a beam onto the tower – and then it didn’t. 

Then it occurred to me that the cover was as wide as it was tall; not novel-shaped; if I’d cropped it into the correct shape, the star would have been lost, so it had to move – to above the tower.

5th September

I’m as happy as I can be (given the time-scale) with the front cover.  I noted the fonts used for future projects (the sequels) and began work on the back cover.

This was a simpler version of the front, so took relatively little time – except that PhotoImpact lacks a grid to align the text, so I spent a lot of time manually tweaking the spacing.  Then my Muse decided that the wording needed to be changed – three times!

6th September

Made a couple of final (yeah, right!) adjustments to the back cover and uploaded it to WordPress.  Not too worried if they’re not 100% perfected – I can always replace them with re-tweaked versions later.  What’s important is that another hurdle / barrier / excuse for not publishing has now been removed.

I have a passable cover!  Now to get ready to show my story to the world.  Again, it’s not perfect, but I will tweak (using the Deep POV tips) and replace at a later time.  September 16th approaches rapidly. 

11th September

Have decided that I am not going to spend another four weeks re-tweaking CoA at this time.  Deep POV is a fine idea, but if I stop to re-tweak every time I read someone else’s ‘How to’ book, I will never finish.  Instead, I will upload, then replace it with a revised version in a few weeks.  Besides, I’m on Version 12 now – do I want to create a version 13??  Me? superstitious? Nah! *crosses himself and throws salt over left shoulder onto a black cat’s open umbrella*

18th September

The September 16th deadline has come and gone.  I missed it. The reason?  Well, several really.  Just as I’d completed the ‘budget’ artwork (of which I was very proud) for CoA, a blog article popped up warning of the dangers of using copyrighted images.  Now, I know it’s not obvious, but the character on the front cover (see below) is a much-tweaked image of a famous actor. 

It would have been one chance in a Googleplex that this would ever be discovered on these pages, but to use it as the front cover for a book that could potentially be seen all over the world?  That was a chance I wasn’t willing to take.  So I approached Ravven once again and asked if she could help.

I now have a new cover – now proudly displayed at the top of this page!

The other issue came as I was preparing to upload CoA to Amazon’s KDP.  Ryan Casey advised me to read Guido Henkel’s article on formatting eBooks.  It turns out that .doc (Word) files can contain many hidden formatting errors that don’t show up until its too late, ie once Kindle format has been achieved.  They were both right.  Over the past year-and-a-half, my MS has gained many silly little errors.  It took me three days to clean them all out.

19th September

Well, with all that going on – what’s the latest excuse for not being published?  Only work.  I’m commuting this week rather than being hotel-based, so I’m short on time.  And blogging seems to be taking an increasing amount of my day.  I don’t want to stop following my favourite writers, but I’m in danger of being swamped.

Such is the volume of traffic hitting my Inbox now, I’ve had to adjust the feeds for most of the blogs I follow.  For most (but not all) blogs, I will receive a once-a-week summary rather than be notified every time a comment is made.  I have actually lost count of the blogs I’m following – and how many bloggers are following me.  That’s not good. I need to try to get things together. 

20th September

Still received no word back from my friendly reader Amanda.  Another case of ‘Silence of the Readers?’  Was it really that bad?

September 2012 entry ends here.

August 2012

6th August

My entries have been lacking over the past couple of weeks because work – yes, work – had the cheek to get in the way of my writing.

I ask you!

Anyway, that particular phase is behind me now, so I will be back to concentrating on the ‘Twelfth Draft’ review of my WIP.

Work in Progress – that’s the first time I’ve used that particular acronym here – makes it sound like a real book. 

Anyway, that’s just one of many new tidbits I’ve picked up from other bloggers along the way.

Blogging – that’s the main thing I’ve been up to whilst I’ve been unable to review my…(pauses) WIP.

(Why was it that I managed to blog, yet I was unable to write?  Too complicated to explain, dear reader.)

But the upshot of it is that I am now following three times as many blogs as before and I’m now being followed by I-don’t-know-how-many other bloggers and fellow writers.   My stats have gone through the roof (relatively speaking) and I’ve now posted five…um…posts and receive feedback daily from friendly readers.

I don’t do idle – but I may get distracted from time to time.

14th August

Now completed up to and including Chapter 24 (of 31).  Slow progress, but that’s got to be better than breezing through the manuscript and missing errors.  Talking of which, I have found another two personal pronouns that hark back to version 10 – 3rd person POV.  I wonder if I’ll ever purge them all.

I had entertained the notion of writing the sequel in 3rd POV, then converting it, but the problems I have encountered prove how daunting it is to ‘convert’ it error-free.  

My friendly reader Amanda sent me a text at the weekend – she’s up to page 255…which is exactly where I am now, except that I’m one version ahead.

A lot of my time has been dedicated to expanding this blog by increasing my circle of friends and followers. From having posted nothing, I have now posted seven (yes seven) posts and received good feedback for each and every one.  Now, can I sustain it without compromising my revision?

23rd August

In a sudden and unexpectedly energetic frenzy of reading and scribbling, I have completed the remaining chapters of CoA, updating the electronic copy and then saving it to two netbooks and a memory stick.

Overcautious?  Not after what happened yesterday.

I went to type ‘shift a’ to capitalise the beginning of a sentence I was modifying. But instead of ‘shift’, I accidentally caught the’ CTRL’ key and ‘a’.

This highlights EVERYTHING. 

All 167,500 words of CoA. 

The next keystroke was the space bar.

The page went blank.

I stared in horror for a heartbeat, then thought; ‘Hey, no panic.  CTRL Z (undo) will sort that.’

But it didn’t. 

Nothing happened. 

I was left staring at an empty page.

My blood thundered in my ears.

Then I remembered that five minutes before, I’d nipped to the bathroom, hitting ‘save’ on the way.  Now all I had to do was close the blank page and reopen the saved version.

‘Do you want to close without saving?’ the Netbook asked.  Damn right I did.  But I still felt a tiny thrill of fear as the document closed without saving.   It’s an action that I never, ever take.  Fingers crossed, I clicked on the most recent save of CoA…and…relief!

It was intact.  CoA was safe (*Performs Olympic-standard cartwheels – in my mind, naturally)  and is now completed.

At last, the Twelfth Draft is finished.

But is it good enough for the world to see?

24th August

I copied and pasted the first chapter of CoA into a page and published it to gauge the reaction and hopefully generate some feedback from those who follow this blog.  The reaction  was surprising.  Although only Sonya Loveday and candace Knoebel replied, their praise was very, very warm and encouraging.  Naturally suspicious, I asked if they were sure that there wasn’t more I could do to it and was gently chided for still wanting to tweak my work.  Thank you ladies.  I am one step closer to ‘ePublishing or bust.’

29th August

Sonya Loveday suggested that I try Ravven Glass for my book cover.  She’s already done a cover for Candace Knoebel.  Her work is amazing.  I’m just not sure that I can afford it at this stage!  Still, I contacted her to query her rates.

30th August

I now have an important decision to make, one that may well affect my entire writing career.  Do I wait the recommended 2-4 weeks, then revise my WIP yet again?

Or is twelve complete revisions (involving at least four complete rewrites) enough?

The story is nagging at me to publish, publish, publish.  But I’ve been here before.  Whilst working on the Fifth Draft, I was convinced that CoA was complete.  That same feeling has been infusing me over the past few days. 

And then I read Rivet your readers with Deep POV by Jill Nelson.  It seems, dear reader, that I may have committed a number of POV violations (according to Ms. Nelson) that compromise my work.

I feel compelled to act.  My recently-printed MS sits staring at me and urging me to correct that which needs to be corrected. *sigh.

Whilst I am still impatient to publish, I realise also that if my first-ever novel just isn’t good enough, readers will not return for a second work, or indeed a third. 

No fans =  no career .

Also, Ravven replied to my query last night.  The quality of her work justifies the price, but I simply don’t have that kind of money available to me.  And whilst I can turn out the odd sketch, I cannot produce anything that begins to approch her standards of work.

Make-do just won’t do.

So, unless I can conjure up an alternative, ePublishing is currently unavailable to me (no cover = no book).  I may as well revise, revise, revise whilst the opportunity avails itself.

Maybe it’s meant to be that way…

August 2012 entry ends here.

(For once, I’ve broken my tradition of pinning story-relevant images here and have chosen a timely photo to reflect the current events of the moment.  Please note that I crossed this bridge every weekday whilst the olympics were running.)

The River Tyne relects upon a highly successful sixteen days of sport.

July 2012

1st July

A visit to ASDA (UK’s Wal-Mart) today revealed half-a-dozen Angel romance paperback books on the shelf.  I can’t help feeling that I’m missing the boat…

Before I wrote CoA (or ‘Angels Instead’ as it was back then) I scoured Amazon and found only one angel romance novel for sale.  I felt that a wave of angel romances was but a year or so away and planned accordingly.  Unfortunately, if I can’t sell my work, the interest may die away quickly and render all my efforts obsolete.

*sigh*

After hearing Jessie J and David Guetta’s new song Laserlight, I was startled to see how closely their lyrics matched my story of an angel falling to earth into a human body and falling in love with Sara the paramedic;

“Laserlight”

In the blink of an eye
I was falling from the sky
In the blur, you took my breath away
And my heart starts beating
And my lungs start breathing
And the voice in my head starts screaming
I’m alive!

You’re like a laserlight, burning down
Burning down, on me
You’re like a laserlight, burning down
Burning down, on me

You make me feel good,
You make me feel safe,
You make me feel like I could live another day
You make me feel good,
You make me feel safe,
You know I wouldn’t have it any other way.

(www.azlyrics.com)

3rd July

Completed my read-through of chapters 6 & 7 during my lunch break today.  It’s interesting – people don’t bother you if you’re wielding a pen over several sheets of paper, but if you’re tapping away at the keyboard of a Netbook, I get quizzed…

 I forget how many work colleagues I have confessed to.  The words ‘I’m writing a novel’ can produce sooo many different facial responses that it’s comical.

Sammy is close to completing my electronic book cover.  I will need to consider an appropriate font or two to complement it…

4th July

Completed my update of the printed chapters 8&9 today – plus the electronic update of CoA v.12.

Sammy has contacted me – the cover for CoA will be completed on Sunday (8th).  Haven’t looked for a font yet – maybe I ought to wait until the cover is ready…

5th July

Completed the printed chapter 10 today. No time for 2 chapters today.

6th July

Completed and updated chapter 11 today.  Now 1/3 of the way through!

Took the (rather wild) decision to send out my work to John Jarrold once again.  Well, I have completely rewritten CoA.  Perhaps this time I may get a response…

7th July

Spoke to my long-time friend Paul R. today and he was interested to learn that I’d completed my book.  It’s now been 21 years since I discussed some of the workings of my gravatic star drive system (see my Homeworld entries) with Paul whilst working in Cyprus. 

I sent across a copy of CoA in pdf form for him to critique (when he has time!).  Thanks Paul!

9th July

Chapters 12&13 read and upated today…I’m still finding silly mistakes that shouldn’t be there.  Not splelling errors – the splell checker picked them up ok.  No, these are errors that have occurred during editing, when I’ve altered a sentence and somehow missed that ‘extra’ word during the subsequent read-through.

ie Sentence 1 originally read;  I was pretty troubled by the news and spent the rest of the day concerned by what I would be going home to.

Sentence 1 gets modified to become Sentence 2 and now reads;

I was troubled by the news and spent the rest of the day worrying about by what I would be going home to.

You see the problem?  – and how it happened during the modifying of the sentence.  A quick scan of the sentence  (especially to a jaded writer who’s read the passage a hundred times or so) could miss this silly error.  This illustrates the value of friendly readers.

11th July

Chapters 14&15 completed.  Managed to squeeze 16 in as well – it turned out to be particularly short.  Now past the (chapter) half-way point.  However, 67,000 words isn’t half-way in the word-count stakes.

Paul R. emailed me – he’s already up to Chapter 4 and is enjoying reading.  However, he found a spelling mistake in chapter two.  How did THAT one slip past me?  *sigh.

16th July

Completed Chapter 17 today.  Not the usual, straightforward edit.  For the first time since I’d written my story, I found myself unhappy with the spacing of my chapters.  So Chapter 16 (the short one…July 11th) is now several dozen paragraphs longer and Chapter 17 is subsequently shorter.  The transition between the two now feels ‘more right’.  Chapter 18 tomorrow.  Oh, found two more errors that had been left behind from the 3rd POV days.  Two instances of ‘them’ instead of ‘us’ popped up today.  There’s no way that the spell checker would have picked up on this problem. And I’d already purged the document of all the ‘they’, ‘her’ and ‘she’ references I could find – except where they referred to other characters of course.

19th July

Completed Chapters 18 & 19 today.  Although they are relatively short, there were more than the expected number of changes involved – probably because there is a family reunion involved – and it had to feel right in the main character’s mind. 1st Person POV – quite intense.

24th July

Today, I received a letter back from John Jarrold.  I’ve attached the body of the text here.

Sadly, it was a rejection, but it’s the most in-depth rejection letter I’ve ever received.

But it has pushed me one small step closer to eBooking…

(It’s worth noting here that this letter provided me with my first ever blog post)

July 2012 entry ends here.

This is one of the vehicles that my character would be driving.  It is parked at the top of Sampson Square, which is featured in my novel.  A lucky snapshot for me.

June 2012

8th June

Printed off my latest version of ‘ACoA’ for reading next week.  This means, unfortunately, that ‘Vengeance of Angels’ is back on hold.  Still, it’s for the right reasons.

One more ‘snail mail’ reject letter arrived this week. 5 out of 11.  Note to self; check if it’s been 8 weeks since I sent the first batch off.

*Looks down page for relevant entries and finds that it was 4th May that they were sent off.  However, it’s been more than 2 months since March 29th and the first of the electronic submissions.

Sent an email to ask Jenna Burtenshaw if she was dilligent and followed-up her submissions.

11th June

Met up with my friendly reader Sarah P. again.  We’d lost touch since last July as her works email wouldn’t let me message her, my colleague wouldn’t pass on my email address to her and being on shifts, she was extremely difficult to phone.  She’d already read ten chapters of the Fifth Draft and had been eager to read more.  She was slightly concerned that I’d completely rewritted the story, but was happy to begin again. So, I quickly typed up my changes for Chapter 1 and emailed them to her (own) address.

14th June

SarahP was ‘intrigued’ by the new format (First Person POV) and agreed that it had more depth and intimacy than before.  What’s confusing her is the truncation of events since v.5 was written.  It’s been re-written as more ‘quick-fire’ (as sugested by a ‘Second Wave’ reject leter) and Sarah is feeling dizzy by the speed of events now.  But she’s loving it. 

19th June

Havehad 2 more rejections – one electronic and one by mail.  The mailed one simply had ‘No thanks’ scribbled in the bottom corner of my submission letter.  Not even a note to say which agency they were.  A simple courtesy?  Or arrogance in their assumption that they were the sole recipient of my queries?

Luckily, I’d coded each SAE with a letter that corresponded with my ‘send out’ list so I could identify the culprit.  So, 6 out of 11 for snail mail and 12 out of 19 for the emails.

21st June - midsummer

Well, my48th birthday is now quietly receding into the distance, bound for the forest of fuzzy memories.  Over the past 12 months, I seem to have worked hard, knuckled down and done my absolute best (all circumstances

considered) to polish and sell my book – to no avail.  It was only(!) 54 weeks ago that I sent out my very first query to John Jarrold (still no reply from my two queries). 

Doesn’t time fly?

Now, having exhausted all the UK agents in ‘The Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook 2012′ I am now faced with the following choice – do I;

a) Begin submitting to overseas agencies with all the cost that would involve?

b) Go down the electronic route of e-publishing?

Over the past few days I have made new acquaintances on WordPress blogs (hello and thank you for your kind comments!), some of whom have made a success of ePublishing.  Ryan Casey makes a good argument in favour of ePublishing.

I also learned that there is a big book fair at the University of York in September.  A chance to meet agents and publishers face-to-face…hmm.

25th June

Received a reply back from Jenna (see June 8th) that contained a good deal of encouragement.  Her method was not to follow up agents with a ‘chase’ query, just to email them for an acknowledgement of receipt.

Since I wrote the 21st June entry, I have chatted with several bloggers in the US and have to come to realise that by querying only those overseas publishers who accept email submissions and omitting those who still work with snail mail, I can keep down the expense (and time) whilst spreading the metaphorical net a lot wider.

Sarah P. has emailed me asking for Chapter 2 of CoA 1POV.12 (to give it the technical title it deserves!)

27th June

Sent Chapter 2 off to Sarah P.  Hope she likes it.

29th June

Finished reviewing Chapter 3 yesterday, and 4 & 5 today.  Trying to stay ahead of Sarah.  :D

June 2012 entry ends here.

This is the embodiment of ‘Methuselah’, one of the oldest ambulances in the Yorshire Ambulance Service. So unloved, he still bears the ‘East Midlands’ lettering along his flanks.

May 2012

May 2nd

Have asked Sammy H. if she will draft a rough copy of my proposed jacket cover for the potential e-book project.  Also passed a copy of the first three chapters to Helen M. for her perusal.  A budding artist in oils, she also knows a chap who publishes (non-fiction).  She’s kindly offered to pass the three chapters on to him in the hope that he may know someone who could be interested.  Fingers crossed. 

Have now bundled up another 11 snail-mail queries and sample chapters for agents’ perusal.

May the 4th be with you…

Sent the 11 packages off second-class to the various agents. 

£15 well spent or another waste of desperately-needed cash?  Time will tell!

May 14th

Have just received 3 replies from my ‘snail mail’ efforts below – all polite ‘no thank-yous’.

May 16th

Have just received 1 more  reply from my ‘snail mail’ efforts.  Total=4 of 11.

May 22nd

Got two more rejects back from my electronic submissions today.  Total= 11 of 19.

May 24th

Got an email from Helen M with some advice from her publishing friend.  All relevant, he’s reminded me to target only the appropriate agents of the genre and stick closely to their publishing guidelines.  He picked up a continuity error and queried my similies – something I will have to fix.  They both felt that I was revealing too much information too close to the start, something which bothers me.  Am I?  I need to re-read with that thought in mind.  Re-reading’s on the agenda anyway since I spotted two grammatical errors by simply glancing at Chapter 4 (which I’d already sent over the Helen). 

*Sigh*.

Sammy has sent over two preliminary sketches for the proposed book jacket.  Have sent back comments and suggestions and it’s now a lot closer to how I imagined it – or described it in my book.

Quote;

I peered at the dark, foreboding character on the cover.  Outlined by a blood-red light, he was standing before the silhouette of a French quatrefoil castle.  His shoulder-length blonde hair was complimented by the stormy moonlit sky behind him.  The pale and piercing eyes seemed to regard me with menace. 

 

May 2012 entry ends here.

April 2012

April 2nd

Continuing to send out ‘Third Wave’ submissions and queries. 8 more sent out.

April 9th

Have sent a copy of the latest version to mine and my wife’s friend Amanda, who tells me that she’s been eagerly awaiting a chance to read my work.  I nervously await her response.

April 12th

Have received 5 rejections back – not all bad news.  Some responses were moderately encouraging.  Note to self – find those large envelopes!

April 21st

Now 6 rejections to date.

Have given up trying to find the darn A4 envelopes, so I bought another 20 today.  Meanwhile, I have been toying with the idea of self-publishing in electronic form on Amazon, etc as a fall-back plan in case no agent shows interest in my work.  This means that not all hope is lost. 

It would mean, however, that I’d have to create an electronic jacket for my work. 

April 22nd

Had a quick play with Amazon’s upload wizard and found it very easy to use.

April 2012 entry ends here.

March 2012

March 13th

Completed!  Have reached the final chapter – everything (with the exception of the Epilogue) is now in 1st Person POV.  I’ll probably be compelled to skim over the whole thing once again (I guess I’ll be doing that until I peg it – or until it gets published…whichever happens soonest / at all) to ‘tidy’ up the new 1st POV additions.

March 15th

Have begun combing through my copy of ‘Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook 2012′ to eliminate those Agents to whom I’ve already submitted my earlier version of CoA.

March 29th

Have begun to send out the ‘Third Wave’ – the 11th Draft and the first of the 1st Person PoV versions.  I’ve sent out electronic synopses and sample chapters to the agents I haven’t targeted so far, with paper versions to follow when I can obtain some large envelopes.  For some reason, the packs I was carrying with me have gone missing. 15 sent out today.

March 2012 entry ends here.

February 2012

February 6th

The work continues – now converted 23 chapters.  I’ve set myself a provisional target of 2 chapters a week.  That doesn’t sound like much, but the chapters in the second half of the book are considerably longer than those in the first.  It’s just the way it worked out.  That and the fact that several chapters contain 3rd POV from other characters…these will need to be re-jigged into 1st POV from my main character.  Fortunately I’ve left myself notes from several months ago on how to best tackle these parts and not get mired…

I’m determined to send out another batch of sample chapters (1st POV this time) in the hope that I can snag an agent’s attention.

February 8th

Now  25 chapters completed.  With the holiday dispruption (I shouldn’t say that – it was a nice, relaxing holiday) last week, plus starting work in (yet another) new location, I haven’t yet managed to organise myself into a position where sending out samples is feasible.

Next week, dammit.  I will have a better idea of what my day job will entail and can adapt accordingly.  Not sure if I would be more – or less – organised if I was working from home rather than a hotel room…

February 14th

Now on Chapter 27.  That sounds like I’m almost done.  However, I did a quick word count and found that of the 155k words to date, 28k of them are in the last 5 chapters!  Add to that the fact that there are several adventures ahead where the 3rd POV alternates between geographically separated main characters.  I know (generally speaking) how to fix this, but it will take tiiiiiiiiiiiime.  And it has to be fixed properly.  This will entail several re-reads and corrections. I may ask Alison if she will read my ‘new and (hopefully) improved version.

Ho-hum.  What else have I got to do with my hotel-bound evenings?

February 2012 entry ends here.

Source:  All my own work.

January 2012

January

Continuing to ‘convert’ my work to First Person.  Have now realised that time is ticking away and have considered sending out sample chapters sooner rather than later.  However, as I’m on holiday at the end of this month (only one week away), I will make my return the point at which I get full mobilised.  Sample chapters will go out whether I’m finished ‘converting’ or not.   21 and a half chapters done…10 remaining.

January 2012 entry ends here.

Source:  All my own work.

December 2011

December

Only received an additional 5 replies from the 29 I sent out in October.  Interesting to note that 2 replies contained no reference to their sender. 

One was a simple card bearing no name or address (helpful, very helpful) and the other was my synopsis sans introductory letter (which usually made mention of the intended recipient – again, very helpful).

No replies have been received from John Jarrold or John Riding.   I find myself disappointed.

I have now reached Chapter 17 (of 32) ‘converting’ my 3rd Person POV to First Person.  It still ‘feels’ better than the Third Person version.

December 24th

Met up with Jenna Burtenshaw at her latest book signing.  She was surprised to hear that several of my letters had comments annotated on them.

“That’s very good – and very rare,” she said.  “Comments are only one step away from an acceptance.” 

Turns out that my 40-odd rejection count is not unusual in the industry.  Jenna tried for 2 years and received over a hundred rejections before her work was finally accepted.

So – there’s still hope yet!  Thanks Jenna.

Oh, I also picked up a copy of the Writer’s and Artist’s Yearbook 2012.  Gotta keep up-to-date on what’s going on out there!

December 2011 entry ends here.

November 2011

November

Only received fifteen replies from the 29 I sent out last month.  And not all of last months (22 out of 29) came back. 

Must be a slow month in the publishing world…

To date, no replies have been received from John Jarrold or John Riding.  Have they yet to read my work, or have they simply trashed my submissions?

Meanwhile, I am still ‘converting’ my 3rd Person POV to First Person.  It ‘feels’ right – moreso than the Third Person version.

November 2011 entry ends here. 

October 2011

Early October

Already had 3 snail mail rejections and 1 email rejection from the Second Wave of submissions as the month begins.

Still, onward!

The Second Wave took me past the half-way point of my alphabetical list of Agencies.  I’m trying not to entertain this dismaying thought (i.e. what happens when I reach the end of the list and all I have to show for all this work is reject letters?) in order to remain optimistic.

A few days later… I don’t know where this particular bolt came from (out of the blue, I guess) but it’s really made me consider an alternative PoV for Construct of Angels.  Much as happened in ‘Elementals’ in Jan 2009, I suddenly felt that 1st Person PoV might give the story that ‘intimate’ feel that a romance needs.   Have decided to try re-writing the first three (sample) chapters in 1st rather than 3rd Pov.  Will update when this is finished, but after only a few pages, it already feels ‘right’. 

But what will I have to lose in order to write this way?  As with the ‘Elementals’ project, certain points of view were suddenly closed off to my Main Character.  And as the sequel (Vengeance of Angels) was set to run to the half-way point whilst my Main Character was lying unconscious in a hospital bed, this would seem to qualify as a problem.  Some consideration is needed here…

Late October

Have had a dozen or so rejection slips back so far.  Still no word back from John Jarrold – I confess that I am disappointed.  I was hoping that he might be the first to view my First Person PoV Draft.  One other agent caught my eye.  John Riding is London based, but grew up in Yorkshire.  I am hopeful that the setting of my story may be enough to catch his eye…

I have now’ converted’ 13 chapters of CoA into First Person Pov.  Onward!

October 2011 entry ends here.  

September 2011

The score to date;

Early September

Of the 29 submissions I sent out by email and snail mail, 19 have now been returned as rejections.  John Jarrold still hasn’t replied to my initial query, nor has he responded to my offer to replace the original submission with my updated ‘Tenth Draft’ version.

Still, onward!

I have now revised the first ten chapters to create my Tenth Draft (my work is taking a lot of my time at present – I’m not getting as much writing done as I ‘d like).

Final score for this month; 29 submissions, 25 rejections.

Ended September by sending out another 24 snail mail submissions and 4 email submissions.  I like to think of this as my ‘Second Wave’.

Managed to fit in a visit to Mrs Dookins, my erstwhile co-writer of the ‘Angels’ project.  She hasn’t written anything in over a year, concerned that her own ideas had diverged from my own to such an extent that we now had two completely separate stories.   Still, even if both of our ideas no longer bear any resemblance to the other, it has bore some fruit – my novel…these pages.  Perhaps one day she will manage to finish her own project and in that, I wish her well.

 

September 2011 entry ends here.  

 

August 2011

The score so far;

Early August

Of the 29 (yes, only 29) submissions I sent out by email and snail mail, 17 have been returned as rejections.

Onward!

I have revised the first six chapters to create my Tenth Draft and intend to send out more submissions next month.

August 2011 entry ends here.  

July 2011.

The war of attrition is on – but who will give up first?

2nd July

Was disappointed to receive today’s rejection letter from  Jenna Burtenshaw‘s Darley Anderson Agency. 

Never mind…I sighed, put it behind me and moved forwards. 

4th July

I’m now armed with a spare printer that will enable me to press ahead with the snail-mail submissions.  Being on the road all week is all very well for new experiences and getting weather-beaten, but it’s not conducive to the efficient production of sample chapters of manuscripts (was that a bit too wordy?). 

A work colleague enquired about my book and showed interest.  Then I discovered that his wife was an English Teacher.

So now they’re both reading it.

One of the chapters on loan was accidentally left behind in a hotel room – the lady who kept it safe (Sarah P) was ‘fascinated’ by what she read.  Another potential fan?

A former work colleague with whom I kept in touch by email (Craig G) is likewise intrigued by the philosophies that I have introduced into the story.

July 2011 entry ends here.  

June 2011.

Enough reviewing dammit – let it fly the nest!

1st June

2 chapters left to review, then it’s time to pick out the ‘first wave’ of Agents that I must approach.  No more reviewing, dammit!  Leave it alone, put it away, get a bank vault or something!

3rd June

Still tweaking – although this time it’s the Latin phrases that pepper Chapter 2 that I’m working on.  I want to make sure the translations are as accurate as they can be so I have posted queries on both Yahoo Answers and WordReference.

Whilst working at my desk today, my eye fell upon a small scrap of paper that had settled against my pocket diary. 

Please note that this paper has been altered or modified in no way, shape or form.  Even if I’d wanted to, my big, clumsy fingers would be incapable of creating such a tiny thing…

I’ll leave the interpretation of it entirely up to you…

I like to think it’s a sign… {8D

4th June

Spent today defacing my copy of ‘The Writers Handbook’ with highlighter pen – especifically the Agents section.  I’ve eliminated about half of the agents in the UK (not literally – that would be unwise!) and have divided the remainder into those who accept email submissions and those who still work with snail mail.  Once I have my query letter, I will work my way down the ‘emailers’ list and then the remaining ‘snail mailers’.

This part is simultaneously scary and exciting. 

6th June

Managed to glean a little feedback from Ray, my friendly reader Elaine’s husband.  She has a professional background in English Literature and has spent time assessing manuscripts as a career. 

She hasn’t finished reading my manuscript, but has mentioned that she thought that there was too much dialogue in the story.  

. . .

Please note, dear reader, that all feedback is of value to the writer…

7th June

Click for full-sized image, but remember to click ‘back’ to return to blog!

After referring to several forums and Holly Lisle’s examples, I have completed my query letter and my synopsis -  the essential components of any letter to a prospective agent. 

 Some ask for an additional item – the writer’s CV.  As my writing CV is painfully short (despite writing since junior school and having several short articles published in ‘special interest’ magazines, I don’t think that’s going to sway anyone much) I will stick to listing my relevant working experience – the stuff of life that imparted me with the knowledge that I was able to plough into my manuscript.

I have begged a few moments of Jenna Burtenshaw’s time and asked her if she’d be kind enough to cast a critical eye over my letter.

8th June

Did some last-minute checks on my Latin phrases – the ones that Michael cries out when he first awakens.  Had some very useful feedback from PacoBajito, a native Italian speaker at Wordreference.com.  Grazie, Paco!

10th June

Divided my list of potential agents into those who accept email submissions and those who don’t.  Then I categorised those who had asked for sample chapter, those who required a synopsis and those who simply asked for a letter of introduction.  I hadn’t realised how many agents I’d highlighted as possibles until I began this task – 102 in total!

Many of them requested that potential authors check their (the agents’) websites before submitting.  Good call!  I’ve only checked about 1/4 of them at this time and eight of them are either no longer accepting submissions, have moved or simply vanished.  In seeking out websites, it was surprising to find that many only existed as email addresses – with no on-line presence.  I ruled out four agents because many forums cast serious doubts on some agents’ credibility.  Check out Writers Beware’s Thumbs Down list for related warnings.   What I didn’t expect were the warnings that writers were obliged to inform agents of any other agencies that they had submitted my work to.  There goes my plan to ‘scatter-gun’ my work to dozens of agents at once…

11th June

The first query is away!  In an effort to break my duck, I have sent my first query letter to John Jarrold - Literary Agent, about whom I have received good comments from Chaz Brenchley.  More will follow, beginning with the agencies who accept email submissions. 

I intend to submit multiple queries, just not multiple manuscript submissions.

13th June

Printed submission sent off to Jenna Burtenshaw‘s Darley Anderson Agency.  Thanks for recommending them to me Jenna!

I’ve since decided not to include every agency that I have submitted to – there will be almost a hundred all told and I don’t have the time to list them here – But I am keeping a record of all submissions and their dates.  If anyone is interested, please just ask.  But give the submissions time to percolate through the system before any feedback will be available. 6 to 8 weeks is normal.

Will update this page if anything comes of all this effort – in the meantime, I shall begin work on the sequel to A Construct of Angels – Vengeance of Angels

22nd June

The first reject slip arrived today.  Oddly, it was from an agency that I posted sample chapters out to only a week ago.  Their polite letter stated that they ‘couldn’t see a market for this type of story’.  A supernatural romance…are you kidding?? 

23rd June

I’m getting lots of positive support on Facebook following my first rejection.  Thanks guys!  I’m not down about it – quite the opposite.  I see it as a Rite of Passage.

Invested in some better quality envelopes for the snail-mail submissions and tweaked my E-Query letter once again (for about the 30th time) as a bit of fine-tuning.

30th June

Almost achieved my goal of one letter per day to Agents -  I got thirteen out.  Got two rejects and one ‘not currently accepting submissions’ – but that was from a simple query letter (as requested).  More next month.  Watch this space for sporadic updates! 

June 2011 entry ends here. 

source; StockXchng

May 2011. 

Is the month I finally commit (If not, why not dammit?)!

(Because it’s not quite ready yet!) 

3rd May

Version (Draft) 7.0 is now comple, awaiting feedback from my friendly readers.  In the meantime, something Alison said has given me cause to review Day Six.  Sarah’s femininity is given a rare chance to blossom and I need to make the most of the moment (as does she). 

Today I realised that I’d dug a rather large hole for myself by concluding Construct of Angels with the evacuation of the main characters from their home city.  This idea was left over from the original conclusion of CoA when it was still 73,000 words in length.  If I’d left it in place, it would have meant an awful lot of to-ing and fro-ing for the main characters if I was to continue this evacuation into VoA.  So I have now tidied up the ending of CoA to remove all mention of the evac. and leave them in the city – a small, but significant change that will make framing and writing VoA less fraught!

4th May

Desperation?  Once again I stole a quick glance at a random page of my printed version of my Seventh Draft – and hated what I saw.  I’ve always suspected that there was a flaw in my reviewing system – that I invariably began to grow tired of focussing on the text as I passed the half-way point and simply spent the remainder of the story reading rather than editing.  That’s not saying that I didn’t make any changes (I’ve gone through several biros doing this!) but the results do speak for themselves – I’m still not entirely satisfied.  So, for the Seventh Draft only, I’m taking the story out of the equation by choosing random pages for the remainder of this week and making changes to whatever I find there (assuming I still dislike what I see, of course).

What I found, having done this for an hour, was that many of my changes were targetting the opening sentences of paragraphs and chapters.  Not all, but most of my opening sentences irritated me.  I think I may have tended towards ‘tell’ rather than ‘show’ as I have started a new scene.  Something to watch out for in the future…

10th May 

Had a long chat with my friendly reader Robin last night.  He has completed the read-through of version 5 and has suggested that I take some time to explain the frequently-used medical terms and acronyms that occur in my story.  When I looked back, I found that he’s correct – I only translate the acronyms a couple of times and one in particular gets readily translated, but when it pops up again 100 pages on, there is no reminder.  Robin also suggested that I include a reference page for the terms and acronyms.  Another item, that of a reference to a historical event in North-East England, that of the alleged hanging of a French monkey in Hartlepool, deserves a longer explanation on a separate page rather than the two lines it currently gets.  That event will get its own page at the end, which is only a few pages after it gets mentioned.

Thanks Robin.

I have also asked Chris and Elaine, my other readers if they will be able to send me any feedback before the end of the month – my cut-off date.

11th May 

Asked Craig the paramedic one final (?) question to clarify a medical point and he returned a reply within the hour.  Thanks again!

12th May

Haven’t heard back from Elaine yet, but I will be meeting Chris at Waterstone’s (the same branch that was filled with Vampire romances and got me started in the first place – plus the branch in which I met Jenna Burtenshaw) on Saturday.  

BTW, Jenna has just launched her second novel, Blackwatch, which I am now reading.  Well done, Jenna!

I’d like to spend the remainder of this week on my ‘random reviewing’ (something that’s working very well – if I accidentally turn the page and keep reading, I find myself falling back into the old habit of  ‘just reading’ all over again).  Next week, I will transfer the changes (plus any feedback I’ve gathered up to that point) into my final (?) draft.

Well, it’s a plan…  

19th May

The meeting with Chris didn’t happen – we were both too busy (I’m currently back and forward to Leeds during the week) , so we’ve arranged to try again this weekend.  In the meantime, I have finished my ‘random reviewing’ – which has gone remarkably well for an odd-ball method - I have reduced my word count and added some much-needed detail into the narrative.

23rd May

After a week’s delay, I finally got together with Chris.  He has given me some useful info to incorporate into my latest draft (yes, I’m still working on it!).  I worked my way right through Version 8 (printed) and then updated it onto my Acer Netbook.  However, the moment I saw the words on a ‘proper’ PC screen, I noticed that I had a potential problem.

Because of the way my story has evolved (from my ‘day-by-day’ spreadsheet, to a series of stated facts, to a flowing story), many of these ‘stated facts’ were still apparent within the narrative.  There were far too many instances of  ‘He did this’ and ‘Then she did that’ sort of statements.

Uacceptable, I thought. 

Whyhadn’t  these jumped out at me when I was working on the printed copy? I have no idea, but there they were – staring back at me from the monitor screen.  So, for the duration of my next trip away from home, I decided to dig out my circa 1999 Acer laptop (see A writer’s essential tools) in order to keep the text large (14.5″ on the laptop – only 8.9″ on the Netbook) and show up any obvious ‘statement sentences’.  Will it work?  Time will tell!

31st May

Well, my target date for sending away my work has arrived – the end of May.   However, I’m not quite finished with the ‘final read-through’ (see 23rd May) to eliminate those pesky little errors.  Using my 1999 Acer has proved to be useful – I corrected many ‘statement sentences’ – and I hope the work has improved as a result.  Now at Chapter 30 of 32, so I will complete this final task before calling it a day.  About time to let ‘A Construct of Angels’ fly the nest.  

I have heard nothing back from Elaine, so I will have to go on without her feedback.

May 2011 entry ends here. 

source; StockXchng

April 2011. 

Time to send all these words ‘out there’ 

5th April

Just out of curiosity, I ‘Googled’ my own name and was very surprised by the results;

  Six hits?  From one blog?  Is this normal?

Anyway, all that fame and publicity aside, I have managed to face my printed work once again.  I had tried a couple of days ago, but my Muse turned away like a baby refusing a spoonful of food.  I think I have reached the point where I have seen enough of it.  However, this afternoon (over lunch in the canteen) I found several mistakes that had somehow slipped through all the previous drafts and spell-checks and decided that I really have to persist if I want my work to look professional.  So, here comes the seventh draft. 

Also, I bumped into Chris, my friendly reader, this morning and heard that he has been marking up the sixth draft that I gave him with pointers and suggestions. 

So – there is obviously still room for improvement.

I found myself wondering (during an email to Alison) if ‘Angels Instead’ is likely to be an acceptable title for Agents or publishers.  The idea for that title came about as a contraction of the unwieldy ‘Loving Angels instead of Vampires’ that was a bit of a standing joke; a gentle poke in the eye at the market-saturation level of Vampire romance novels (see August 2009). 

So I now have Conflict of Angels as a back-up title – just in case.

13th April

It’s been slow going, but I am working my way through my printed copy of the Sixth Draft.  I am still finding points that require clarification and  sentences that need improving, so it’s not as polished as I imagined it to be.  Looks like it was a worthwhile exercise.  I am also taking the opportunity to excise any unnecessay sentences as I go along – the Word Count still feels a little high.  I keep imagining prospective Agents coming back to me with an immediate; ‘Get that Word Count down!’

14th April

I have been overcome by a sense of brutality – I’ve found myself looking at my pages with a cold eye and thinking ‘does that really need to be in there?’  If the passage doesn’t move the story forward in any way, then it gets a red line through it.  Paragraphs that are ‘nice’, but not essential will be removed from the Seventh Draft.

This is the objective point of view that I’ve been trying to achieve all along – it’s a relief to finally get it up and running.  Hopefully it will tighten up the writing and as a bonus, reduce the word count.

I wonder if this new sense owes anything to the fact that I’m currently suffering from both a cold and toothache??

 30th April

Well, the word count did come down by about 1500 words in the end.  It was probably more, but I have added many ‘explanatory’ sentences and paragraphs to the story and this will have reduced the ‘brutal’ word cutting somewhat.

I have now completed Version (Draft) 7 and am now awaiting feedback from my friendly readers Chris, Elaine and Robin.  I hope to use this information to clear up any queries they have or address any ‘unhappy’ points that they might raise.  The title of the story has changed slightly, having now become Construct of Angels.  The reason?  Well, Conflict of Angels may sound more punchy, but it is less relevant than Construct of Angels inasmuch as  Michael, the central ‘Angel’ character, is revealed in the late stages of the book to be a construct of souls rather than a true angel.

Have also changed ‘Black-starring’, the phenomenon of staring blankly at a mysterious artificial star in the story, to ‘Star-craving (mad)’ after Chris intimated that Black-starring’ or ‘Blasting’ for short, sounded like the ‘starred’ victims went on the rampage rather than simply staring into space.

 April 2011 entry ends here.

   

source:StockXchng

 

March 2011. 

Fifth Draft completed.  Time to let it fly the nest…

2nd March (6 days to deadline)

Having updated and spell-checked version 5, I sent Alison a copy, to keep her apprised of my plot changes (and the fact that I’d sorted out some of the silly errors I’d discovered along the way.)  March 4th approaches.  I’ve arranged to meet with Chris (now back from foreign climes) and pass him a copy for assessment.

3rd March (5 days to deadline)

Alison seems to be enjoying reading version 5 and has already provided some useful feedback for me.  I have reprinted version 5 so that I can read through it one final time (honest).  This won’t change any part of the version I intend to submit to Tibor Jones, but if I don’t make their short list, it will form the basis of version 6 – the one that I will be submitting to prospective agents.

Sent away (by post) the first half of my manuscript to my friendly reader, Robin.  I am sending it in two halves in case it goes astray.  That being the case, only half of my previous year’s work would end up in the wrong hands. 

I have emailed Tibor Jones, asking if they want their competition submissions in Word or pdf format.

4th March (4 days to deadline)

Meeting Chris today and passing him a printed copy of version 5.  As with version 6, this won’t affect the Tibor Jones (TJ) submission, but any feedback from Chris should find its way into version 6. 

Meeting went well with Chris – he’s already given me some useful pointers regarding the story’s two ‘blurb’ (synopsis)  paragraphs.

Sent the second half of my work to Robin from a different post office to ensure that they don’t end up arriving together.  Overcautious?  Never.

Alison has emailed me  -she’s already up to Chapter 22 (of 29) and expects to finish reading by tonight.  I might have time to incorporate her suggestions after all, providing I don’t email TJ until Sunday night.

TJ have replied stating that they prefer their submissions to be in Word format.

6th March (2 days to deadline)

Hurrying through my printed Fifth Draft in order to get it ready for TJ’s deadline.  Have reached Friday.  Still  Saturday, the biggest section to review.  Was hoping to complete it all tonight so I wouldn’t be sending it at the last minute, but that’s not looking feasible now…

7th March (1 day to deadline)

Have finished reviewing my printed work – now updating my electronic copy of the Fifth Draft.

9pm – sent away my Sixth Draft.  Also sent copies to Elaine and Robin, my other friendly readers.

8th March (the deadline)

Received an acknowledgement from Tibor-Jones.  They have received my email and attachment.  Now I have to wait for March 21st – the day they publish the shortlist. 

Watch this space. 

In the meantime, I will be using the feedback from my friendly readers (Chris, Alison, Robin and Elaine) to improve the Sixth Draft in the event that I’m unsuccessful.

13th March (deadline plus 5)

My Muse went a bit crazy this morning – I now have 1400 words for my sequel and some for a possible third book.  The ideas are beginning to flow.  I may have to open a new page that details the progress of the sequel.  What to call it…hmm?

16th March (deadline plus 8 – 5 days to go!)

The framework for the sequel is forming nicely.  I find that if I simply type continuously, asking myself questions and then answering them, the ideas come to me.  I can always improve them later.  What really worked well for me when I framed up the first story was the fact that I knew exactly how it was going to conclude.  I have structured the sequel in the same way – once I know how it’s going to end, I can ‘guide’ every event towards that conclusion.

I have finally found a cure for my ‘never-ending story’ syndrome!

 

21st March (Short-list day)

Watch this space.

Tibor Jones have announced that they have postponed their short list announcements until Wednesday 23rd because of the large volume of submissions.  So…another two nail-biting days now follow.

In the meantime, I have begun to use my hour-by-hour spreadsheet to construct the chronology of Book Two which I was going to call Avenging Angel – but Googling that title showed that thousands before me had the same idea, so I had to be a little more creative. 

The working title is now Vengeance of Angels

23rd March (Revised Short-list day)

Tibor-Jones published their list today…and it doesn’t include my contribution.  Should I count this as my first official rejection?

So from today, my task begins in earnest.  I will begin the task of submitting my work to at least one publisher or Agent per day.  Luckily, I have no more nails left to bite.

31st March (a whole week later)

Well, despite all my good intentions (see above) I have done very little with my work this week.  Without a deadline to work to, I have foundered in a sea of indecision.  I am uncertain whether I ought to re-read (and edit) my Sixth Draft before sending it off or wait for feedback from my friendly readers.  It didn’t help that my Notebook’s screen suffered from ‘the white screen of death’ and had to be replaced mid-week (luckily I’m handy with a screwdriver).  Work has added pressure, giving me little time to write anything anyway and the repairs to the fire-damaged section of the house are moving ahead, providing yet another distraction.

Sigh…I need to get back on track.  Perhaps April and the resulting lighter days ahead will inspire me.

March 2011 entry ends here.

  

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February 2011. 

(Close to having) completed my Third Draft…

but will it be ready to send out?  

 1st February 

Continuing my review of Saturday.  Word Count now down to 150,400 (13% reduction) .  Have just realised that, with the major changes to the ending of the book, two of the characters will no longer make an appearance in the final chapters.  So I must return to the early chapters of the book and ‘unpick’ some of the threads that no longer tie in with the ending…sigh.

 Sent off another small section to Craig, my friendly paramedic, for him to peruse.  I also left in more narrative this time to give the incident some context.  Hope it doesn’t put him off altogether! 
 
Also contacted North Yorkshire police to request a little help in clarifying some aspects of an incident I’ve written.   Some students have climbed up a tower in Yorkshire and I need to know if the police would send constables and officers or would a senior ‘Incident Commander’ be despatched to oversee the incident.
Fingers crossed that someone is able to help or I may have to ‘wing it’ a little. 
 
2nd  February
 
Completed my Third Draft.  Final word count is 150,200.  Am now printing out my work and intend to go through it one last time, armed with a red pen to try and hunt out those pesky spelling mistakes, wordy bits and any unnecessary paragraphs or sentences.  I’m still aware of the Tibor-Jones Page Turner competition and hope to have everything polished up before the closing date of March 8th.  I’m also considering sending the completed Third Draft to my friendly trusted reader Alison.  If I wait until I’ve reviewed it again, I may not have time to incorporate any of her comments or suggestions.
 
Haven’t heard back from the North Yorks police yet, but it’s early days.
 
7th February
 
Following an impromptu spell-check on my Third Draft, I was shocked to note how many small errors had crept into my work.  I am soooo glad I hadn’t sent it out to anyone at that point.  So I’m poring through the print-out, correcting what I find and adjusting anything that doesn’t feel ‘spot-on’.  Hopefully this should improve the work and save me from embarrassing splelling mistooks. 
 
Still haven’t heard back from the North Yorks police.  I expect they’re busy with something.  :)  Might have to try a different email address.
 
Craig has returned with some very useful medical pointers that I shall incorporate into the story.  Many thanks Craig!
 
 12th February (149,650) 
Angels Instead is (largely) complete. 
After a marathon reading (and updating) effort this week, the story is finished.  The  word count isn’t much lower than the previous count of 150,200 because I found a couple of sections where the narrative (I felt) jumped, requiring extra text to smooth out the transitions.  This had the effect of boosting the word count, negating the reductions I’d made in other areas.  I just hope this word count won’t bias prospective publishers against me…  
 
I’ve contacted my ‘friendly reader’ Alison who is looking forward to reading the completed work.  Chris, my other reader is likely to be in the Ukraine this and next week, so he won’t be able to help this time.  However, he offered to read it upon his return.  Might be cutting it close for the competition though.
 
In the meantime, I’m off to do another spell-check before I send it off to her…just in case. 
 
15th February (149,100)

Spell check was not as bad as the first one.  But the checker really hates my Latin and Hebrew sentences…

I’ve printed out my work once again  with a view to taking the red pen over it.  I have a theory that if I’m able to read through it without changing anything – I’ll finally be happy with it.  Unfortunately, that may never happen as my Muse keeps thinking of new ways to describe things.   All things being equal, each pass should yield fewer and fewer changes.  Luckily, to prevent me from doing this ad infinitum, I have the Tibor-Jones March deadline looming.  After that, no more ‘tweaking’ of the text. 

Craig replied to my previous query and added;

fab – I’m really looking forward to reading it all, I hope someone publishes it for you.  Please let me know when this happens and I’ll tell everyone here.  Presumably there may be something in the paper about it though, a local interest story for instance.

That’s  wonderful encouragement for an aspiring writer – and a good idea for publicity.   Thanks again Craig! 

 
16th February (149,100) 
Have re-printed my work and will be going over it again with the red pen.  I wonder if there will ever be a time when I will be able to read the manuscript and not make any changes to it?  Probably not, because my Muse will always devise new ways to describe a particular scene, object or action.  Still, there ought to be fewer drastic changes that need to be made each time I read though.
Also, the Tibor-Jones competition deadline looms closer – meaning that at some point (ie before March 8th), I will have to let my work ‘fly the nest’. 
Alison has reached Chapter 9 (of 30) and is ‘intrigued.’
 
 22nd February (149,100)  
Have received a reply from North Yorks police – they are not prepared to help me for the following reason;
‘A lot of the information you have asked about is operationally sensitive and not appropriate to disclose. ‘
 
Guys – it’s for a story!  I bet Tom Clancy never had this trouble getting information from the FBI…
 
I offered to send them a copy of the relevant passages, but they declined, stating;
‘Sorry, but we don’t have the capacity to be able to assist with proof checking.’
 
It looks like I’ll have to ‘wing it’ after all.  And if I start to get mail from people trying to correct me on this, I’ll refer them back to this entry.  I’ve been spoiled, I think, by the extremely helpful staff at Yorkshire Ambulance Service and the NHS Staff. 
 
I’m now up to Saturday (Day Six) of my re-read.  I’ve still made changes to the previous five days, but the changes are a lot less drastic than the ones I made in the previous pass.  Progress? 
 
I will be off work next week – I intend to mark the end of that week (March 4th) as my send-away deadline for the competition.
 
25th February (149,100) 
I’ve been toying with the idea of a sequel for some weeks now – and what would happen in it.  I’d already considered ‘recycling’ my unused ending into it, but now my Muse, with only a week to go until to my self-imposed deadline, has proposed that I ‘tone down’ the ending of the first story in order to deliver a ‘whammy’ of an ending in the second story.  As drastic a move as this may seem, it does make sense as I would be able to escalate the antagonist’s misdeeds in logical stages in the sequel…and the sequel’s sequel.
 
26th February
Well, that wasn’t as difficult as I’d imagined it would be.  I only had to alter and recycle a few dozen paragraphs – it wasn’t  the huge rewrite that I’d feared.  Now to update my electronic copy of the story with all the changes.  That should leave me time for one last read-through before I send it all away for the competition.
 
Note; Tibor-Jones have promised to announce their short-list by March 21st.  If I’m not on it, I will begin the task of approaching agents with my work.
 
28th February
Have updated the electronic version of my manuscript from my written notes and can now be satisfied that I have completed version 5 (or the Fifth Draft).  A quick spell-check proved that my fingers move far quicker than my brain – some howlers crept into the work.  Howlers now sorted. 
 
February 2011 entry ends here.   
  
  

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 January 2011

Completed my Second Draft

Now reviewing my rather large word count. 

2nd January

I have taken a few days off to let my story ‘rest’.  Read through my friend Sam’s NaNoWriMo story from last year and was very impressed.  Well done Sam!

4th January

I’ve carried out a full word count and am concerned by the total – 173,000 words.  My own fault – I got a little caught up whilst writing the events of Saturday (Day Six).

I’m now eyeing each chapter with the words ‘do I really need this?’ in my mind.  I’ve managed to lose two chapters that I’d always known were sacrificial, immediately taking me down to 165,000 words.

The Book’s ending, if I change it to stage the Final Battle a few chapters earlier will lose me another 15,000 words.  Total 150,000.  After that I’m facing serious cuts in the dialogue, narrative and the character’s adventures.  I’m even looking at my swordsman with a view to removing him from the story altogether.

All this will go into my recycling area – and may (if all goes well) be material that can be used in any sequel.  Nothing goes to waste!

However, I still have a lot of cutting to do…have asked Jenna Burtenshaw for advice.  Her experience in the publishing industry may help me. 

I hope.

I’ve also asked Aayla Avalon if she has much experience with the needs of the publishing industry.   Sadly, she seems to be in the same boat as I am.

6th January

Jenna’s helped to put my mind at ease, saying that the publishing industry is primarily interested in quality rather than quantity.  Saying that, I will forge ahead with my plan to change the ending and recycle the unused material into a later (if there is one) book.

Spent the later part of today highlighting all the text (in blue) that will be affected by my changes.  This includes all the references to the parts that will be removed.  Fortunately, with the bulk of the changes occurring at the end of the story, there are few subsequent references to those events.  It’s the changes in the middle that are a bit of a headache as I have to track down all the subsequent threads…

7th January

Finished highlighting (all right, colouring in!) my redundant text.  Now that it’s highlighted, I’ve gone right back to the beginning of Monday (Day One) to review my narrative one sentence at a time.  My target is to make each chapter on average 10% smaller.  If I can lose at least two words per sentence by tightening up my text, then that’s do-able.  Is there a faster way to do this?  I don’t know.  This method will have to suffice until something better comes along… 

8th January

Tibor Jones are holding a Page Turner contest for unpublished writers - closing date 8th March.  Hmm…

10th January

 Managed to extract all the Paramedic scenes from my story and compile them into a Word Document for Craig (my friendly Paramedic) to read through.  Sent it off and was immediately gripped by worry.  What if I’d got it horribly wrong?  What if he laughed at my efforts? 

What if he said ‘You’re no go good, kid – get outa town?’ (The George McFly syndrome).

11th January

Craig came right back with his reply.  As well as many helpful pointers, he said;

‘I really enjoyed reading it – if there’s anymore you want me to see then please feel free.  Looking forward to reading the finished article’.

I am definitely encouraged.

12th January

Now comes the difficult part (one of them, anyway) – working my through the story, sentence by sentence in an effort to trim unnecessary material.  I’ve found that combining sentences works well, as long as I don’t let everything become too wordy.

17th January

Just spent a weekend in Cumbria to get a break away from the half-finished house…and work. 

It rained for the entire weekend!  However, I was able to put in some time on my Netbook.  Got both Monday (Day One) and Tuesday (Day Two) completed.  These early chapters were relatively small, so only managed a 5% reduction in the word count without going crazy with the scythe.  I hope to improve on this figure as I get to the later, larger chapters.

I’ve used a modified version of my word counter  to track the reduction in words.  Useful.

20th January

Achieved a 5.65% reduction on the work to date (half-way through Wednesday – Day Three).  Still need to get it higher.

23rd January

Now reviewing Thursday (Day Four) - only at 6.4% reduction (down to 162,000 words).  If this continues I may have to go back to the start, sharpen my scythe and begin chopping anew.

Saying that, there are some drastic changes to be made to Saturday (Day Six), so we’ll see what the final count works out to after I’ve sorted that out…

24th January

Completed Friday (Day Five).  Word Count down to 160,300 having achieved a 7.3% reduction.  Let’s see what hacking Saturday achieves… 

26th January

Continuing  Saturday (Day Six) – now three chapters deep and 160,140 words counted (7.4%).  Not much of a change, but I’ve still to hit the big re-write at the end…and that’ll take some careful reshuffling of all the threads.

27th January

Cracked the 160,ooo word barrier – the word count’s now 159,933.  Still a long way to go, though, as Saturday was originally 63,000 words long, twice as long as Friday which was in turn twice as long as any other chapter.

31st January

Just passed the ‘major re-write’ point in Saturday.  Word count is now  150,800  (12.75%).  Ouch.  9,000 words recycled just like that.  Still, I now have a better idea of how much ‘trimming’ I still have to do.  Now to press on to the end of this, my Third Draft…

 January 2011 entry ends here.  

 December 2010

Now reviewing my First Draft.

4th December (Reviewing First Draft) – only 16,000 words last month, but I managed to reach The End!

Finished reviewing and updating the electronic copy of Day One. Now moving on to Day Two.  Largely, I’m quite pleased with what I’ve written – aside from a few concepts that felt like they’d work when I was first writing Day One and no longer fit the philosophy of the story.  These are now being written out…hopefully for the better!

6th December (Reviewing First Draft)

Day Two now reviewed.  There didn’t seem to be as much to change as there was on Day One. Either I’m skipping bits or my writing’s improved a little since March / April.  What’s interesting is that some of the dialogue and action, fragments that formed the core of the very first sketchy concept of ‘Angels Instead’ have now been overtaken (or swamped)  by the reviewing process.  It’s sad to see them go, but holding onto them would just jar with everything that I’ve written since.

8th December (Reviewing First Draft)

Finished updating Day Two. This has now been changed, following much thought, to Tuesday.  Day One is now Monday. The other days will follow in sequence.

12th December (Reviewing First Draft)

Finished updating Wednesday (Day Three). I’m having to reshuffle some parts, delete others and write new paragraphs for Wednesday. I’m hoping that my need to make so many changes is a sign that my writing has improved, rather than it being the sign of a hastily-conceived story…

16th December (Reviewing First Draft)

Now updating Thursday (Day Four). It’s odd how many of the ideas I’d created at this point of the story now feel naive to me, even though they were only written in…heck…July?

It’s funny how the memory plays tricks.  I’d imagined that Day Four was a recent piece of work.

Tempus Fugit.

18th December (Reviewing First Draft)

Attended Jenna Burtenshaw’s book signing at Waterstones today.  It was nice to finally meet her – she’s offered some very useful advice in her warm and friendly emails to me.

Maybe…just maybe…I might one day be sitting in Jenna’s position and signing my own work.

20th December (Reviewing First Draft)

Finished reviewing Friday (Day Five) and have gone straight on to review Saturday (Day Six) because I was in a quiet environment, able to focus on what I’d written.  The updating I can do later…that’s the theory anyway.

23th December (Reviewing First Draft)

Still reviewing Saturday (Day Six). So much for theory.

Note to self: Get this thing finshed!!

In fairness to myself (am I allowed to do that?) Saturday (Day Six) is twice as long as Friday (Day Five) and is likely to take longer to review.

Plus, this is where the story’s loose ends have to be tied up – in a timely but credible manner.  As a consequence, there is a lot more red pen on the page at this point.

24th December (Reviewing First Draft)

Finally finished work for the Christmas break.  Having just worked for 19 days straight, I feel that I may just possibly deserve a break.  Feeling a bit burned-out to be truthful.  I might take a break from writing…just for tomorrow. 

30th December (Reviewing First Draft)

Done it! Finally finished reviewing and updating Saturday (Day Six) at 10:30pm.  Spent an hour printing off the whole book (two pages per sheet of A4 plus double sided) so that I could pass a copy onto Louise, who I will be seeing tomorrow.  It feels good to have reached the end, although I am painfully aware that at 172,695 words, I will have to make some swathing cuts in the New Year.  Still, another milestone has been reached!

31st December (Finshed reviewing First Draft)

The visit to Louise is off – due to ill health (hers, not mine).  Hopefully, we can meet up sometime in the New Year.

I have just remembered that I asked Craig, my friendly Paramedic, to review Sara’s medical activities with a view to making her a more proficient Paramedic…supervising her work, if you like.  My next task then…

December 2010 entry ends here.

 

 

November 2010

Still writing the Final Day…23,000 words last month…almost there!

1st November (138,100)

The word count will drop for the next few days as I conduct some research.  I need to incorporate the facts from the weekend’s ‘tour’ into the paragraphs I’d already begun whilst on holiday, plus I’ve managed to unearth some info I’ve been after for a while on a certain building’s architect.  That will need to be slipped into the earlier narrative too.  This is a slight bending of Holly Lisle’s rules on ‘not going back’, but with my ability to lose small pieces of paper, the info’s safer in the story than floating about lost somewhere.

5th November (143,600)

The writing speed’s picked up a little.  I’ve incorporated some of the research that I gathered during last week’s visit into the narrative and am now moving forward into the final stages of the book.  I just have the Final Confrontation to write and that’ll be it…hard to believe that The End is so close.  Being a veteran writer of Never Ending Stories, this feels quite strange…

9th November (149,200)

The Final Confrontation is underway.

I’m having a little trouble with some of the loose ends (the Step-Father, for one) that I’d like to tie off at this point.  In fact, it’s slowing me down so much, I’ve done a Holly Lisle and left myself a note; ‘Add in the Step-Father Loose End later.’  Sometimes, a polished ending can’t be written first time around.  I think I may have to backtrack and add in some threads to bring in the Step-Father before the Final Confrontation (have him pursue or stalk Sarah up to this point, maybe adding to the scary sub-plot).

10th November (150,150)

Another milestone reached!  I know, I know…I’m a tad ‘over budget’ with the word count, but that’s how First Drafts can go sometimes.  I just have to conclude the Final Confrontation and pen a short Epilog(ue) and that’ll be it.  My first completed story…ever!

16th November (160,720) – a Red Letter day!

Well…that’s it.  It’s all over (bar the reviewing!) and done with.  Finished the Final Confrontation, the subsequent run-down and the wind-up (where the last few details are explained) yesterday.  The Epilog(ue) is also done.

As I highlighted the text of Day Six for the word count I noticed a few lines that had been written in bold – that’s my ‘go back and fix this later’ markers, so I still have a few loose ends to tie up, but essentially that’s it – my first ever First Draft completed.

Now come the tweaks, the corrections and the swathing cuts.  Chris K my trusted reader (who also helped to shape Sara’s fight scene) suggested that I shouldn’t be too harsh with the scythe on the first pass.  Having had a couple of ‘sacrificial’ chapters in mind, I’m inclined to agree with him.  Maybe I shouldn’t be hasty in deleting / recycling these chapters simply to bring down the word count.  An Agent / Editor may see them differently and suggest I tighten up the writing instead.  I do tend to ramble on when I’m enjoying myself…

17th November (150,150)

Experienced a brief moment of loss when I first opened my Acer Netbook and saw ‘The End’ on my screen.  I’ve been going headlong at my story for much of the year…now suddenly I’ve hit the end stops!

I will have to adjust to a new schedule of editing X number of chapters (or lines) per day otherwise I will wander aimlessly through this forest of words that has grown around me, lost forever.

I’ve already caught myself just reading random chapters…

19th November (154,000)

Found a chapter at the early part of Day Six that I’d not completed – so I completed it.  Job Done.  This chapter had been intended to be writted as adult material, but that no longer felt right.  Now it’s romantic and builds on Sarah’s feelings towards Michael.

22nd November (Reviewing First Draft)

Working my way backwards through Day Six and Day Five, working on the bold sentences I left behind.

Having second thoughts about my dark and sad Epilogue – might pen a more upbeat version and put it out for my trusted readers to vote on which they prefer.

26th November (Reviewing First Draft)

Having printed out my manuscript in full (two pages to a sheet and double sided – it’s still weighty!) I’ve marked up Day One in pen and and now integrating my trusted reader’s suggestions and any changes that evolved during the creation of the story.  I’m hoping to be able to cover one ‘Day’ of the story per week – faster if time allows.  But as I’m currently spending more than 3 hours per day on the road (during the heaviest snowfall in 17 years) time might not be entirely on my side.

29th November (Reviewing First Draft)

Have had an interesting chat with a local fantasy author Jenna Burtenshaw, who has offered nothing but encouragement and helpful advice.  Many Thanks Jenna!

November entry ends here.

October 2010

Still writing the Final Day…14,500 words last month…getting there!

1st October (115,240)

My lingering upon the sword-fighting scene may have borne unexpected fruit.  The presence of the swordsman (see Sept 26th) was never planned, having just been an artistic addition (you have a rampaging mob – they’ll be armed, right?  Why shouldn’t I let one of them have a sword?) that may now have become a Snake (as in Snakes and Ladders).  This particular Snake might be able to take me straight to the climax of the story, bypassing all of the convoluted storylines that I’d originally devised to get the characters to their goal.  Now they can skip all that sneaking about and get thrown right into the action.  Keeps the pace up and the word count down.

A happy accident?  We shall see…

4th October (116,440)

Have split up the two main characters and they each have to content with their own battles for the time being.  This is another unexpected spin-off effect from the Snake that I created on 1st October and I think it adds extra tension and interest to Day Six.

5th October (118,050)

My Muse is being silly now.  Just because I’m finally closing in on the end of the story, it’s throwing up new ideas at every turn.  ‘What if the swordsman was Sara’s Step-Father?’  ‘What if Michael faced crucifixion by the swordman’s cohorts?’  ‘What if the swordsman was the Aryan’s son?’ What if, what if, what if??

Can you buy Muse mufflers on eBay I wonder?

Seriously, I’m noting down all these potential threads and may or may not incorporate them during the review of the First Draft.  It’s the only sensible solution…otherwise I’d be writing myself into tighter and tighter (not to mention more complex) circles.

7th October (119,950)

Splitting the characters up was the best thing to do, I have no doubt of that.  The original proposed idea was for Sara and Michael to confront the Aryan walking practically hand-in-hand.  Now Sara is helpless in the Aryan’s ‘secret lair’ and Michael has to escape being toasted in a fiery conflagration in order to find her – something that is about to accelerate his lost Angelic potential.  The alternating quick-fire chapters are exciting to write, which (I hope) means that they should be exciting to read.

12th October (121,750)

Holly Lisle’s How To Think Sideways course is now advising on how to write the Perfect Ending – just as I’m approaching the final stages of Day Six.

Fortuitous timing?

 

13th October (122,450)

Another piece of fortuitous timing?  One of the new (female) Team Leaders who works in the same building as I do just happens to be petite, brunette and 5 feet 1 inch tall – the same characteristics as Sarah, my Paramedic.  Feeling bolder than usual, I told her what I was writing and that the central character closely resembled her.  Without hesitation, she immediately if she could be of any help, letting me off the hook of having to ask  ‘uncomfortable’ personal questions of a female colleague.  (Thanks Ruth!  You’re a star!)  So I began tentatively, with her shoe size.  It’s a (UK) 4, the same as Sarah.  I then asked for the one other piece of information I’ve so far had to guess at – Sarah’s dress size.  Turns out that she’d be a (UK) size 8.  And what turned up in a shop at the weekend in Manchester?  The ideal (End of the World) party dress for Sarah.  In size 8, no less.  Is this life imitating art, or vice versa?

14th October (123,600)

Writing seems to be going very slowly at the moment.  Distractions galore from work, house re-building from last October’s fire (yes, it’s still ongoing!!!) and problems with getting the final details of our trip abroad sorted seem to be piling up, like layers of dress material, except that it’s smothering, not complimenting.  Sigh.  And to think I’d hoped to be finished the First Draft by the end of September…

 

 At least I’ve got Sara wearing her dress now.  That had looked like being a bit of a stumbling block.

15th October (124,750)

The story’s progressing steadily and the word count’s creeping up.  I’m now aware that, with all the Finale still to write, I am going to be ‘over budget’ with the number of words.  Still, that’s something I can address when I review (following completion).  I already have a couple of ‘superfluous’ chapters in mind that can be chopped quickly and painlessly.  What doesn’t help is my Muse suggesting that Sarah has a dance with the antagonist…all more words.  Sigh.

20th October (127, 240)

I’ve just realised that the original concept of my ending was quite sketchy.

That’s both a good thing and a bad thing.

It’s a bad thing because I have still got a lot of ‘smoothing’ to finish in order to get to the ending (and some for beyond that!).  Smoothing involves getting the action to flow in a logical way (I hate reading books where the causality is flawed or jarring).

But…it’s a good thing because there have been a lot of changes since I originally conceived the ending and if I’d put a lot of effort into constructing it originally, I’d now have a lot of words that would be going straight into the bin.

Swings and Roundabouts…

23rd October (132,200)

Now beginning what should be the penultimate chapter – where the real ending takes place.  Spending some time in the sun this week - the Canary Islands have really cheered up my Muse!

31st October (138,100)

 

Back in the UK.  Gone from 28 degrees to 8 degrees Celsius…sigh.

The word count will drop for the next few days as I conduct some research.

Paid a visit to the scene of the final chapter, taking a tour and many pictures plus as much literature as I thought I’d need.  It is a very famous venue, after all.  I only hope they can forgive me for what I’m about to do to it – fictionally speaking, of course.  Still, New York has been destroyed scores of times in movies, so my small book shouldn’t upset anyone by damaging (just a little) such a historic English Heritage site.  No, it isn’t Stonehenge, just in case you’re wondering.  I’m not going to reveal any details here because it’ll count as a spoiler.

So, on with the last chapter…you’ll probably notice that I’m a little bit over my planned 120,000 word count.  Yeah, I noticed that too.  I’ll probably have to be a little more brutal than I first imagined when I review the First Draft.  Of course, that’ll depend on the advice I receive from my (hopefully good) agent…

October entry ends here.  

source; Stock.Xchng

 

September 2010

Starting the Final Day…25,000 words last month…Wow!

September 2010; Brandon Flowers (of ‘The Killers’) has just released a single called ‘Crossfire’…

The lyrics of this song are so appropriate to my story that I’ve unofficially adopted Crossfire as the theme song for ‘Angels Instead’!

4th September

Just passed the 100,000 word mark as I began Day Six (of six).  A major milestone!  Day Six is giving me some head-scratching moments for the same reasons that Day Five did.  I have so many unused events, paragraphs and bits of dialogue, I need to perform a thorough Spring clean before I can begin writing…

6th September

Had the idea of creating a ‘Loose Ends’ list, ensuring that all sub-plot arcs are completed before the end of Days Six, if they haven’t done so already.

8th September (103,450 words)

Completed the first chapter of Day Six, the hardest part is over, although I have to admit that I’m not sure what my character’s next move should be.  I know exactly what they will be doing by seven o’clock on Day Six, but what happens in the interim…I’m not certain.  Time to consult my ‘Loose Ends’ list and tie that into the events of the day.

Something else that’s making me nervous is the impending holiday with Louise only ten days from now.  It’s almost exactly a year since we began to devise ‘Angels’ together.  Besides the first three chapters (the ones we couldn’t agree on), I don’t know if she’s written anything since.  Over a year of conversing, this subject has been an elephant in the room.  Perhaps it’s time for the subject to be broached.  I was hoping to have completed ‘Angels Instead’ by the time we met up again, but I’m not so optimistic now.   Maybe, though, if I get my head down and write 2,000 words a day.  Even so, Day One is still in First Draft form.  Should I reveal what I’ve done, even though it’s still rough?

Sigh…the pressures of being a writer…

One Post-it note later…

 

…I have a rough layout for my character’s adventures on Day Six. A bit of a glimpse into the way a writer’s (or mine at least,) mind works…

I’m hoping that my ‘seat of the pants’ writing will steer me towards the day’s end…watch this space.

9th September (105,150 words)

The Post-it Note above has expanded into larger sentences, ready to be written in full.

This is the rough framework, just to give an idea of how a blank sheet can grow from a few jotted ideas, to a few sentences and finally into a full-blown story.

From here I actually got as far as writing the first scene of the second chapter.

Then…

There was a moment when I just sat glaring at the screen, wondering if I would ever be able to get moving on this…and would it be so bad if I just walked away from the whole story?

I wonder if any other writers get this feeling as they approach THE END?  Is it fear of finishing?  Is it fear of realising that at some point soon, this project will have to be sent to a professional who may just very well laugh at it?

Or is it fear of publication?

Ironically, I advised readers on Procrastinating Writers  on how to deal with the very same thing.  Maybe I should re-read my own advice

Whatever it was, I got past it by telling myself that if I gave up now, no-one would ever know (or care) that I’d put so much effort into this.  And I’d regret it forever, never knowing if this could have been my Way Out of the daily drudge that is the Rat Race.

So fingers crossed, I forge ahead…

10th September (106,750 words)

Back to Google Maps again as I decide where in the city the next (relatively minor) conflict will take place.  I hope that the Tourist Board appreciates all the effort that has gone into this free advertising…

14th September (still 106,750 words)

I now have my character’s route planned out and where they will next encounter the bad guys.

Have had to concede that I will be unable to complete Day Six in time for my meeting with Louise – too many events are taking priority in ‘the real world’.  Change of towcar,  September harvesting, additional shifts at work.  Better, I think, to continue writing well than to rush the most crucial part of the story.  I’m hoping that I can present a swiftly-edited copy of Day One to Louise instead.

Spent a little more time on Google maps, finalising my character’s route – the one that drops them straight into the bad guy’s lap.  A little detail of the streets without sounding like a tourist guide should suffice in this case.  Sarah’s tired and hungry so she’s bound to notice any bakeries and coffee shops (even if they’re all closed!).

16th September ( 110,073 words)

Now putting some words down again, using my notes and the info gleaned from Google.

I’ve highlighted the date above because today is a special day.  ‘Angels Instead’ takes place over six days – the first day being 16th September.

It seemed such a long way off when I began this in the early part of the year…Tempus Fugit!

17th September ( 111,500 words)

Sarah and Michael have run into the bad guys.

Two days to go until I meet up with Louise again.

21st September ( 111,500 words)

Autumnal Equinox – the day my story concludes.  However, I was too busy harvesting crab-apples, sloe-berries with Mrs Dookins and helping Mr Dookins to retrieve fallen oak firewood to even notice its passing!

 

24th September ( 112,500 words)

Well, Louise and I have discussed the elephant in the room and have agreed to continue writing (as time permits) our own timelines of the Angels story.  Hopefully this will cross-pollinate each other’s work as the ideas get shared from across the twenty-year timeline gap. We both spent some productive time discussing new ideas that we have conceived in the months since we last discussed this subject.  We’ve also become Facebook friends so will be able to discuss new ideas in real time.  Seems Louise lost her copy of the work so far.  I offered to transfer my copy onto her Laptop.  Three times.

26th September ( 114,000 words)

Managed to get a few more words down this weekend before I return to work tomorrow…things aren’t moving along as fast as I’d anticipated.  Gotta get Day Six completed before this month ends.

Do you believe in coincidences?  Or Fate?  So how is it that the day after I complete my First Draft of a scene where an unarmed Michael has to fight a sword-weilding demon, I’m approached by the only man in the factory who happens to be an expert on sword fighting techiniques?

Tim is currently awaiting the publication of his first instruction book and he teaches twice a week at a nearby college…

Tim’s kindly agreed to look at my First Draft-ed scene.  I agreed that it might need an expert to ‘tidy up’ the demon’s technique.

Weird timing, huh?

30th September (only 114,477 words)

Have become a little bogged down with the sword-fighting sequence after incorporating Tim’s suggestions.  Have now completed that part and am moving on.  September is now over and far from completing Day Six, I am still under half-way through it.  I’ll have to revise my goal and aim to have it completed before the end of October.

September entry ends here. 

 

 

 August 2010

Past the half-way point

August 2nd (Monday) 68, 742 words

Didn’t quite reach the 70k target last month – mainly because I’m now working on the beginning of Day Five.  Despite careful planning using my Hour by Hour spreadsheet (see  March), the story has continually evolved as I’ve been writing it (for the better, I hope) and several, if not many of the events in the planner have become obsolete.

Add to this problem the fact that events planned for the earlier parts of the book have been continually ‘recycled’ in case they should be usable in the later parts of the book.  I’ve swept up these unused scenes and dialogue, tidying up the earlier parts of the book as I’ve gone.

For those of a geological disposition, think of  terminal moraine being shoved along in front of an advancing glacier.  It piles up in front of the glacier until it’s just an incoherent jumble.

Still, almost 20,000 words in a month – I’m quite pleased with this rate of progress.  Yes, it’s not NaNoWriMo, but I’ve managed not to alienate my friends and family, miss my chores or neglect my dog  (That might infer that I’m not a NaNoWriMo fan – that’s only partly true).

Day five planner

August 3rd (Tuesday) 69, 119 words

Day Five now underway…

August 4th (Wednesday) 70, 450 words

Jennifer Blanchard kindly posted my effort at being a Guest Blogger today.  It’s already had one positive comment.

August 9th (Monday) 74, 450 words

Got past the dreaded opening paragraphs for Day Five – now rolling along on a wave of banter and family reminiscing whilst revealing more about Michael, Sarah and her father.  Had to resort to Google Street view again in order to map out the centre of the largely-deserted city that Sarah and Michael are currently searching through.

August 11th (Wednesday) 75, 250 words

Got my characters in place once again thanks to Google maps.  Also thanks to Marks and Spencers of York for helping me with their store layout.

August 16th (Monday) 78, 658 words

Upgraded my Trusty Acer Netbook by fitting it with a 12 cell 10,400mAh battery.  This replaces the standard 2200mAh 4 cell unit that lasted a maximum of 2 hours.  Now it happily displays 8 or more hours remaining.  A big boost for the travelling writer!  Admittedly it does nearly double the weight of the Netbook, but hey…swings and roundabouts!

August 19th (Thursday) 82, 965 words

The upgrade on my Netbook is proving to be a Godsend!  I can extend my writing time without having to worry about where my next Joule is coming from.  Just looking at the running total above…that’s over 1000 words per day.  Can I keep this up?  Ideally I’d like to have completed the First Draft before 18th September.  That’s when I am going back down to see Louise Dookins – my erstwhile co-writer.  It will be just over a year since this whole project began, albeit in a different form.

Funnily enough, the four-year-old Magda (see ‘Late August 2009′ for  the first mention of Magda)  has just made her first appearance in my story late in Day Five, rounding the whole concept off.

I’d like to show Louise the completed story in September.  I don’t think she has continued writing after we disagreed on the way the original Magda-Adam narrative was heading.  Now I can show that the two stories can work well together.

I hope.

August 30th (Monday) 93, 775 words

Bit of a jump in the word count here.  August Bank Holiday is behind us plus my writer-buddy Chris K. has helped me out with a fight sequence, lifting it from ordinary to ‘crash-bang-wallop’.  Although his contribution was a little dark and bloodthirsty for ‘Angels Instead’, it proved to be a very useful template for me to descibe Sarah’s battle with her Spawn adversaries.

Sorry, Chris, for toning down the nose-biting.  And the eye-gouging.  But Sarah is a Paramedic, after all..

August entry ends here.

 

(That’s not me in the picture above, BTW.  I could never find anywhere that peaceful and the sunlight reflecting from that white shirt would make it IMPOSSIBLE to see the screen!)

July 2010

My busiest month to date.

July 2nd – 40,000 words completed.

Alison replied with comments about the completed Day One.  She has pointed out that some of the Step-Father’s intusions into Sarah’s mind tend to jar with the narrative.  Notes have been made to fix this later.  Now she’s ready to read Day Two.

 

July 10th – 43,275 words completed.

The word count has slowed a little, partly because of my two weeks of illness where I couldn’t concentrate on reading, writing or even TV.  The other reason is that I was stuck – I couldn’t think of how to fill my character’s Third Day.  I had to give her work that would be interesting to read, technically feasible whilst providing useful clues to what was going on in her world.  The story had to move forward in some way.  The last thing I wanted to be doing was to fill in her day with pointless tasks.

So I had to go back to the drawing board, or more specifically, Holly Lisle’s ‘Dot and Line’ exercise.  This is something I’ve never used before.  The story was well-formed when it first appeared in my head.  I did use her character-building exercise with the Magda-Adam story (the story that collapsed last year if you remember…if not then see waaay below this entry) but the newer story didn’t seem to require it.

So I jotted down what would be going on in Sarah’s world that day, what her agendas were and what still needed some exposition in the story.

Her Step- Father reared his ugly head.  Sarah feared him, so I needed to get her uncomfortably close to him (then I took pity on her and just sent her to the street in which he lived).  So she needed to attend a job where the danger of running into her hated Step-Father was a real risk.  But where would that be?

I worked out that since she would want to be as far away from him as possible (within financial reason) when she’d left home, she’d take up residence on the opposite side of the city.  So, with her town being on the North-West side of the city, his would logicaly be located on the South-East.

Enter Google maps…and that marvellous tool for writers – the Street view!

I love the 21st Century!  We have miniature writing devices, instant and email communication, unprecedented resources in the form of the Interweb and now…Google Street View.

So, I drove (virtually) around the streets of the Step-Father’s town, looking for the ideal site for an emergency situation that Sarah could attend.  The residential areas were nice, but dull for all practical purposes.  My (virtual) driving took me towards a small university, a venue that I’d had in my early notes but hadn’t (yet) worked into the First Draft.  Right beside the University was a very, very tall tower that looked like it dated back to the 1960s.  Hmm…I thought.  What if Students from the University, carried away by the effects of the Black Star, had decided to spend their nights strapped to the top of the tower, better to see the Black Star when it next rose?  What if one of the students had overdosed/fitted/gone comatose and needed the emergency services to get them down (it’s a very tall tower) and Sarah was called in to assist?

The tower is opposite the Smith & Nephew factory, where, I suddenly thought, her Step-Father would work.  Never mind having her drive near his house.  Have him in the crowd whilst she’s busy.  If she saw him, he’d be a major distraction and a conflict between her fear and her professionalism.  If he saw her, he’d try to control her actions and create mental (and physical?) conflict yet again.

I’d also like her to begin to realise that she needn’t be so afraid of him any more.

So…there you have it.  Google Street Maps…a marvelous tool for overcoming writers block!

Hopefully the word count should leap forward once again.  Watch this space!

July 12th (Monday)

One of my more productive weekends.  Now 45,450 words completed. Approaching the half-way point.

I now know how my ‘Google inspired’ scene is going to end.  I feel I was ‘winging it’ a little too much, not knowing where each scene was heading.  I wasn’t comfortable with writing that close to the wind and have resolved to try to plan a little further ahead in future.

July 16th (Friday)

Passed the half-way point today…50,000 words!

This is an encouraging milestone.  Also, I expect to finish Day Three sometime tomorrow.  Another significant step.  Just for the record, both Day Two and Day Three have gone about 1,500 words ‘over budget’.  I’m not too concerned at this point.  Editing will sort this out, plus there are some parts that don’t quite fit in Day Three anymore and may be removed as I go.

Question – Where did I find the time to write nearly 1,000 words per day, anyway?

Possible Answer – perhaps I am enjoying the writing process so much, I just can’t stop…

July 20th (Tuesday)

Word count;  Sadly, it’s almost the same as it was at the weekend.  The reason for this is that I am struggling to begin Day Four smoothly.  I’ve found myself writing parts that are several scenes into Day Four, and not all of this is in chronological order.  It’s a little patchy at present, but like drops of oil on the surface of water, the little bits I have managed are spreading towards each other.  As I haven’t written anything coherent or complete, I don’t really feel that I can add it into the word count until it’s all started to flow properly.  Some of the parts may not join up to others smoothly and might require a re-write.

I do wonder if it’s me (currently got on-going building works, wet gloomy weather and a roadworthiness test on one of the cars tomorrow)  or the part of the story I have reached…the dreaded ‘middle bit’.

Saying that, the story has entered a new phase.  Sarah is no longer operating alone – she has sprung Michael from the hospital, been suspended from her job and must help Michael to track down the Aryan who is intent on bringing down eternal darkness upon mankind…

July 26th (Monday)

I’d hoped to finish the month with 60,000 words under my belt.  However, my word count for the weekend was 61, 274, meaning that the end-of-month count may be 65k or higher.  This has been my best month to date.  Why?  No idea.  As I said before, perhaps I’m enjoying it more.

Had to refer back to Google Street Maps many times over the past few days – mainly because Sarah and Michael are on foot.  Sarah has been searching for her father whilst on the run from the authorities, so they’ve had to lay low.  Street Maps showed me some useful places to site her father’s workplace and how she would get there.

I say workplace, because that’s how I’d originally planned it.  He was to be working in a Hospice and would shelter her from the authorities in his own house.  But Google Maps showed me some good houses in the village I’d chosen.  I then thought, ‘what if he lived in the Hospice full time?’

He is dedicated after all.

Then the idea came to me – he’d provided palliative care for an old couple  over the past ten years (almost the full time he’d been missing from Sarah’s life).

What it they’d been so appreciative of his efforts that they’d willed him the house?  He could then turn it into St Joseph’s Hospice (The Patron Saint of the Happy Passing and also (in modern times) for house transferrence.  How lucky is that?) so that he could provide palliative care for others.  That way Sarah would be able to hide at the Hospice.

Another aspect then hit me.  If Michael, an Angel, walked into a house full of dying people, perhaps the ones closest to the end could see him as he really was, causing a real stir.  A good stir, not a bad one.  Michael would be radiating love and peace and bring a new kind of comfort to the dying.  This would help to convinve Sarah that she’d chosen the right side – something that had (to date) cost her her house, her career and her future as a free citizen.  A price that would give most people doubts.

Hmm…my Muse is doing some serious overtime this month.

July 27th (Tuesday) 64, 488 words

My calculator now reckons that I only need to write 300 words per day if I’m to finish before 2011.  Like hell!  I’m pressing on and want to have 70k before the end of this month (July’s challenge!) – personal life allowing!

I’m enjoying this part of the story…the banter between Sarah, her father and Michael.  They all bring different aspects to the conversation.   Michael has to keep up with the chat whilst listening to her father regailing him with tales of how she has changed / hasn’t changed and what mischief she used to make as a child.

There are ‘established’ jokes, new jokes, sarcasm and long-buried love. And a lot of catching up to do.  All this amidst the rapily-deteriorating world outside and the fact that they are sitting in a hospice.

Enjoyable to write.  Sadly, it will be over all too soon as the story moves on…

July 29th (Thursday) 68, 072 words

Just wrapping up Day Four, clearing up all the boldsentences I left behind.  I find that if I’m unsure about a fact, I’ll bold the  sentence or the fact and go back to it later.  It’s easy to spot whilst scrolling through and it means I’m not constantly being sidetracked to check facts and figures.

July entry ends here.

 

JUNE 2010

 

June 2010

Still researching

 

click to see whole sheet

Here’s a copy of the Word Count Checksheet that I designed.  Each day I alter the date and the number of words in each section (note that only updating the words in each Day means I don’t have to count every word in the document to date – much faster) and it calculates my total word count, the number of words I must type per day if I’m to finish by Jan 2011 (I’m currently putting in between 500 and 750 so the  words-per-day has fallen from 500 to 383 in the example above) and the number of words I have in-hand if I’m not to exceed my target total.

It might be clunky but it works for me…

 

Day One is complete.  Word Count 19,000.  Target achieved.  Now I must press on with Day Two and Leave Day One to simmer.

Last month’s visits are really proving their worth now as Sarah begins a full day at her job (Day One only skimmed over the details of her work, linking briefly to the strangeness to come) and I will now need to use a lot of the information I took away from my visit.

Sent copies of the complete Day One off to Alison and Chris, my trusted  friendly readers.

Small snag – as I began Day Two I realised that I lacked any detail about the hospital that one of the characters has been transferred to.  I thought I’d covered this base back in May when I visited the hospital in question.  Unfortunately, that particular hospital doesn’t deal with the ailment that my character suffers from.

Darn.

Emailed my friendly contact at PALS NHS and begged another favour from her.   She then had someone contact me to arrange a meeting and a possible eyeball of the venue.

Wow!  What is it they say?  If you don’t ask, you don’t get.  Profuse thanks to all concerned (names to be added later when the project is complete).  Day Two is now 8,000 words strong (June 10th) with a 12,000-15,000 word target.

‘Angels Instead’ is now 30,000 words strong (June 14th).  Had to ask Mark at YAS another question about rank structure as I needed to introduce a fair-minded superior to over-rule Sarah’s mean-spirited supervisor.  Mark aswered my email within the hour.   The answer turned out to be Mark’s actual rank!  He turned out to be the good guy!  Naturally all resemblances will be coincidental…

Talking of coincidences…I’ve never been a great believer in horoscopes (I believe in Astronomy rather than Astrology!) but when you see things like this on the Internet…

12 June 2010

 

Are you an intellectual or a poet, a novelist or a playwright, Gemini?
The celestial energy leaves you alone with your anxieties and questions.
You are sure of only one thing – words are the friends you’ve decided to spend the rest of your life with.
This is a kind of dream and challenge that corresponds with your Gemini identity.
Get to work.
You’ll find your vocation and passion in your writing.

…how could I be anything other than encouraged?

(Source; http://uk.horoscopes.yahoo.net/yahoouk/gemini/)

 

 Chris has replied with some very useful pointers regarding Sarah’s internal monologue and her Step-Father’s continued influence over her.  I’ll incorporate any updates based on these comments later.  As Holly Lisle pointed out in her How to Think Sideways course (Lesson 16), don’t go back and fiddle about with details – pretend that everything up to the point at which you’re at is spot-on.  No flaws exist.
To quote her;  

Honestly, the hardest part of this process is leaving the mess behind you unfixed.  But doing it is essential. Your objective is to write one first draft straight through, not to sit playing with the same chapters over and over again.

 

Then continue to write, but incorporate the new information or facts  gleaned from the comments. Only once the end has been reached do you go back to the start and correct the earlier chapters.  Otherwise the writer will end up being mired in the early work, fiddling, changing and rewriting until he or she gets sick of the whole project and loses heart.
Keep moving forwards.
Having been in that position before (well and truly mired), I’d like to report that it’s not a happy place to  be!
 
Mid-June
The visit went, as have all the others, very well.  The hour I was given was plenty of time to chat to the professionals concerned, tour the ward (currently undergoing refurbishment) that my character was to be incarcerated in, get a general feel for the (1774) architecture and plan out his escape route.  Also being gifted a floor plan and a follow-up email address was invaluable.
As before, I intend to incorporate these apparent differences only to new writing and will correct any assumptions I’ve made to date when I review my work.  Best not to get bogged down…
An  acute stomach illness left me unable to write for four days, but the Doctor’s recommendation that I remain off for a week helped to make up for it.  Managed to catch up on what I’d missed, now passing 35,700 words and closing Day Two.

24th June

Completed Day Two (16777 words – total to date approx 35,700).  Struggled to run the events straight into Day Three. Having difficulty concentrating.

26th June

Spent half an hour in Waterstone’s bookshop, not drinking coffee in their coffee shop (managed a smoothie for my troubled stomach) and managed to get Day Three rolling.  Success.  The change of scene (not staring at my living room walls) has helped a great deal.  I also feel more inspired when I’m surrounded by books.  Perhaps I gain inspiration by osmosis?

Also bought myself a copy of The Writer’s Handbook 2011.  I told you I was serious about this!

28th June

Another week off work – feeling very lethargic and unable to eat much other than fish or bland chicken.  Struggling to get any words down so I engaged cerebral gears and ‘thunk’ the story forwards in my head, jotting down a few notes as I went.

June entry ends here.

 

May 2010 

Making new friends

 

The visits went well. Many thanks to all the professionals who gifted me their valuable time so that I can can fictionalise their work areas for my own dramatic ends.

Wonder if I should blow them all up at the end…James Bond Style? The work areas, obviously, not the professionals.

That would be unkind.

I now have enough notes to construct the early chapters in some detail – and with more than a little accuracy. Mind you, using guesswork would have meant that I could have had any layout I needed, with rooms next to rooms at my whim. But I feel that would have been taking artistic licence just a little too far.

So my story now has the odd corridor added in to give it accuracy. Some of them are very short though…or they would drag the pace down. Plenty of time for character introspection or reflection though, if needed. So visiting the site of the opening chapter gave me no problems, but the site of the final chapter has given me cause for concern. It feels…well…too undramatic! Although it ties the whole story together by finishing the book almost exactly where it began, it just doesn’t feel BIG enough. I am considering a much larger venue that is still within sight of the originally-planned site.

(Apologies for the homophones there.)

Should I yield to temptation to BIG it up, or save the BIG finish for the next book?

Hmmm.

They do say that in writing it is advisable to produce your Very Best work and hold Nothing back.

Why hold back a great scene?  The book might fail as a result and that Big Scene will never be read.

I don’t have to make the decision until later in the year as it won’t affect any of the previous chapters so I won’t commit for the time being.

Mid-May 2010

I have completed the opening chapter and have fired it off to my friends Chris and Alison for their opinions.  I am aware that common advice is to complete a First Draft before returning to ‘flesh out’ the chapters, but I find it  useful to complete Chapter One before First Drafting.  It helps enormously in establishing the main characters, what they feel, how they deal with life and each other and how they’ll react in a pressure situation.  Once they’re real in my mind I can then First Draft the rest of their adventures, knowing that they’ll largely stick to their roles without developing alarming new character traits that will derail the story;  ie  Softy Walter who is meek and mild throughout the story suddenly decides he’s had enough provocation and develops a mean streak.   The jury is still out on the point of characters taking control in a story.  See the page; Characters who write their own story.’

This is a debate that is likely to roll for years, so I’ll stop at that point.

Chris has replied with some very helpful comments on my Protagonist’s personality and a useful point on my term ‘Black-Starring’ which I’ve ‘slanged’ to ‘Blasting’ (This will make more sense in the context of the story) and people who ‘Black-Star’ will henceforth be known as ‘Blastars’.   Together we’ve fine-tuned the Protagonist’s attitude to lfe, colleagues and authority.  Thanks Chris!

Alison has now given me some food for thought with regard to character descriptions – something I will need to address once I’m more certain about my character’s appearance.  For instance, Sarah had brown eyes to begin with, but I feel that she should have hazel eyes.  A small but distinct difference for a romance…

We’ve also created, then tidied the story’s synopsis.

Alison also pointed out that I haven’t mentioned where the story is set.

She’s right – I’ve deliberately withheld the name of the city that the story takes place in.  This is an idea that’s continued on from when Louise and I discussed the original concept, which was set in Edinburgh.  The idea was to scatter clues throughout the narrative as a ‘Treasure Hunt’ and have the reader piece together the location from the information as a kind of game. 

However, I’m no longer convinced that this idea will work.  It may instead simply engender frustration within the reader. 

Perhaps simplest is best.  After all Stephenie Meyer didn’t begin her Twilight series by not mentioning Forks or by being coy about Washington State.  Now Forks benefits from a huge influx of tourists.  Maybe I should play fair with the City of York and just say where it’s set in the first paragraph.

Late May 2010

Now that the opening chapter is out of the way and largely complete, the characters have come to life and are helping to guide the story along.  The Protagonist’s colleagues are gathering around her and the events that make up her normal working day are now apparent (thanks mostly to my visit at the beginning of this month), although some ‘strangeness’ is already creeping in to disrupt the routine that she would normally face.  Day One word count to date: 15,600.  Target?  Between 15 and 20,000.  So, on target.  Just need to remain disciplined with regard to word count.

No more ‘Never-Ending stories’.  On with the First Draft!

May entry ends here.

 

April 2010

Reading up

 

I have finished reading through Tom Reynold’s ‘Blood Sweat and Tea’

and am now starting on ’999′ by Lysa Walder.

Interesting to get two differing viewpoints on life as a London Paramedic.

Reynolds tends towards the exasperated and cynical whilst Walder writes from the heart. Useful if my lead character is to be a female paramedic, partnered with guys.

I have received an email back from a representative of the Yorkshire Ambulance Service, declaring that she would be happy to pass on my enquiries to the Service.

Still waiting to hear back from the Mortuary Manager at this time.  Made some small changes to the hour-by-hour spreadsheet once it became apparent that Paramedics work 12-hour shifts. No big problems there – just a lot less rest for the characters! Another success!

I have been contacted by (area name withheld until later) Ambulance Service, and have been invited to visit them with a view to spending a day with their team and having my technical questions asked. Also, many of my questions regarding the hospital have now been answered by (name withheld at present), the Manager.

We had an interesting conversation during which I think I managed to get the gist of my (slightly offbeat?) project across to him.

Finished ’999′ by Lysa Walder;  Now reading a pdf version of ‘More Blood, More Sweat and another cup of Tea.’

 

The timing is now right – I will be visiting both the hospital and the (area name withheld until later) Ambulance Service on the first weekend in May. Hope I don’t seem too eccentric to them.

Maybe I should lose the beard, felt hat and wizard’s cloak for the day…although it seems to working for Terry Pratchett!!

April entry ends here.

 

March 2010

Putting it all together

 

The framework of this project (current working title; ‘The Fallen Ones’) is coming together nicely.   Taking place over six days, the story is having to snuggle into the each of the 24-hours slots I’ve created. To make this easier to work with (and to save endless up-and-down scrolling!), the story is on six different Word documents.   Although the general sequence of events is now in place, the exact timing of each event needs to be established for the pace of the story to ‘feel right’, otherwise it would feel

A) too rushed and unlikely or

B) too slow with a big rush at the end.

Not sure which would be worse, so I’m going to try to avoid both scenarios.

If you ever try to put together something similar, printing out each chapter, then putting them in order on a desk / floor / car park helped me a great deal in spotting those chronological abberations!  Alternatively, precee the major events of each chapter onto a good-sized Post-It note and shuffle if necessary.  Post-its will also stop any stray breezes from ruining the sequence of events!

I’m also experimenting with the idea of using a spreadsheet to plot the hour-by-hour events of the story until I get everything laid out in the right order. It’s surpring how often you think  ‘How do I get the characters from A to B in such a short time? Must add an hour in there…’ or ‘Why haven’t they done anything for most of Tuesday? This is supposed to be fast-paced!’ …and so on.

A week later…and the hour-by-hour spreadsheet has worked well for me. As I’ve crammed a lot of adventure into the final day of the story, the spreadsheet illustrated at a glance that things were not paced correctly. The characters would have been overwhelmed! So I was able to give them (and the reader) ‘breathing spaces’ in between all the drama and peril. For clarity and after the story has been completed, I will try to attach a copy of my spreadsheet to this blog in order to pass on what I’ve learned. Can’t do it right now as it would give away all my story ideas. In the meantime, I’ve put together a ‘sample’ version that won’t give away anything from my current project, but it will serve to give you the general idea. Notice that I’ve constructed the two characters’ days in parallel. Especially useful if they interact at some point. Bear with me as I experiment with something that’s readable…

Click on the image to see the whole thing.

Don’t feel that you have to fill the spreadsheet in a linear fashion. I’ve dashed in text wherever it worked, then filled in the intervening gaps later.

BTW, if the above inspires you to a story – go right ahead and use it!  It’s only an example I put together.

And if the spreadsheet idea works for you, please let me know! I’ll have finally invented something that works (Just like Doc Emmett L Brown)!

Contacted Doctor (name withheld) of the York & District Hospital, asking if he would be able to spare a little time to furnish me with a couple of details about the hospital as my character will be in and out of the place. I’d like to get things as accurate as possible! Just to get a better idea of my characters, I have likened them to celebrities that I think would fit the parts of the main characters. This gives me a visual ‘hint’ and might help to add a little colour to their personalities.

‘Scuse me if you don’t agree with this (some do, some don’t) but my main character of Sarah Finn, the Paramedic would (ideally) be played by Janeane Garafalo

 

 

 

 

 

 

with the part of the reluctant Angel going to Tom Ward

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sarah’s mortuary contact would look a little like Alexander Siddig

and finally.. Sarah’s Doctor friend would look a little like this;

(Yes, it’s Kyle Maclachlan.)

The main protagonist, being of Aryan descent, might look a little like this;

(Sorry, no points for recognising old Rootbeer)

Mid-March 2010

It’s all come together nicely using the hour-by-hour spreadsheet. The inevitable gaps that appeared were filled in with ‘incidental’ events or travelling time for the characters. I now have a beginning, a middle and an end for the story, with a few long-term threads that could be carried into any possible sequels.

Three books arrived, ‘used’ ones from Amazon. Two are about London Paramedics which should give me a lot of useful material for the main character’s working day. The third is an English Heritage book on Clifford’s Tower, so I will have the correct historical information on this amazing structure, the centrepoint of the Antagonist’s plans and the scene of the final conflict…or is it?

Of course, I will be applying some artistic licence with regards to the building, persuading the original 13th Century builder to add a few extra features.

I’m a little disappointed (although not entirely surprised) that Doctor (name withheld) of York & District Hospital didn’t reply to my email.  Looks like I might have to try another professional…of course, another possibility is for me to actually visit the hospital during early summer.

Not to be put off, I have contacted the same hospital via the NHS PALS (Patient Advice and Liaison Service) and had a reply that they will forward my request to the appropriate department. Let’s hope that someone there has the time (and patience?) to answer a few queries.

I signed myself as a writer (true) and an aspiring novelist (this year’s Big Goal). I don’t know if that made them sit up or sigh. I’ve also armed myself (following much trawling through Google) with maps of the hospital, the local area and the emergency services that serve the hospital. Module 15 of Thinking Sideways (Interviewing your Sources ) is particularly relevant to me at this point in time.

Late March 2010

Success! I have been contacted by (name withheld at present) who is a Manager at the hospital in question. We have spoken by phone and I have emailed my questions to him. He has promised to reply and has kindly invited me to ‘view the scene of the crime’ as it were – his workplace.

March entry ends here.

 

February 2010

On the starting blocks

 

I am determined, after so many false starts and never-ending stories that I am finally going to produce a story that is ‘novel-shaped’. Although I no longer think of myself as a procrastinator, I can see my faults in many of the articles produced by Jennifer Blanchard’s Procrastinating Writers and am determined that this will be the year that I evolve from mere writer to published Author.

Using guidance from Holly Lisle’s ‘How to Think Sideways’ I am structuring this story first.

As a confirmed ‘seat-of-the-pants’ writer, I am now (hopefully) a little wiser as to the benefits of structure. See ‘Men with Pens’ for the merits of ‘pants’ versus ‘planning’

Larry Brooks has much to offer on the subject;.

The end of this month should (hopefully) see a completed (non-pants) framework that I can begin to flesh out as a romantic adventure.

Warning;  March’s entry is much, much bigger as the project forges ahead…

February entry ends here.

 

January 2010

A new year and a new determination.

 

Finally, finally, finally (yes, it really has been giving me that much trouble) found a way around the ‘Angels’ problem.  My Muse was still in a spin with regards to the ‘post-apocalyptic’ route the story had taken.

It hadn’t sat well with the original concept of a present-day romance.

So I took another look at the large backstory that Louise and I had worked upon.  Whilst most of it concerned Magda and her tragic lineage, some small parts of it detailed the state of the world before the Demonic realm attacked the Angelic realm…which was before the apocalypse and in the ‘here and now’.

I’d already done some work in building ‘here and now’ characters.  Paul the Paramedic and his partner Laura already existed.  Ellie helped Magda to run the homeless shelter.  The fact that the story was based in an ancient city (Edinburgh in the original concept) – for reasons that would be apparent later – was a re-usable idea.

Louise and I had drawn up a time-line that detailed events that had resulted in the Apocalypse…so I chose a significant point on that line, before demons and angels freely walked the earth and decided that would be a good place to begin the ‘here and now’ story.

So the solution, it seemed, was to write my romance as a prequel to the Magda-Adam story (which could then continue merrily without any further input from me) and relate many of the extraordinary events that would ultimately culminate in the Apocalypse.  My Muse appeared to accept this as a satisfactory compromise and happily began to throw ideas at me – scores of them!

My Muse and I were on speaking terms once more.

So I began…with the intention of completing this before the end of the year (2010).

Joined Holly Lisle’s ‘How to think Sideways’ course and have already completed Module 1 (will update as I move forwards).

January entry ends here.

 

December 2009

Good riddance to 2009?

 

Well, that was an interesting past few months (been off-blog since my last entry). Having just had a house fire, a change of job and a hard rethink on the Angels story, I climbed out of my whirling thoughts to see that the year had ended.

The house fire destroyed most of the food in the house, five windows, three doors (leaving us exposed to the elements over the coldest winter for 30 years) and most of my tools. Also lost was the partially-restored 1984 Rover that we’ve had since 1990.  A sad loss indeed.  All this threw an not-inconsiderable spanner into the workings of my Muse.

The same week, I heard that the company for whom I’d worked for the past six years was, in four weeks time, losing a contract that solidly impacted my job.  Fortunately, I was offered a transfer across to the company that was taking over the contract so my job was ‘safe’.  Still, six months of painful shake-down lay ahead.

I knew it would be painful because I’d been through it once before in the same place.

As for the ‘Angels’, the story seems to have taken a route down which many (but not all) of my ‘romantic’ ideas were obsoleted.  Having previously analysed many of the current supernatural (all right – Vampire) romances, the one common thread that links them is that most take place in the here and now.

With the Angels story, this was no longer the case, the story (now three chapters long) having been re-sited by my co-author into a ‘post-apocalyptic’ future…Terminator style.

My own ten pages of work had been rejected in preference to the ‘post-apocalyptic’ story that Louise had created.

Whilst admitting that watching this version of the story grow was a fascinating experience, I felt that the initial concept, that of a contemporary romance, had now been completely lost.  Many of my ideas, the backstory aside, no longer fitted with this new format and I found myself adrift, floating down the wrong fork of the river whilst my original idea drifted away down the other.

Louise continued to develop the ‘alternative’ Angel story without me, promising to surprise me at each new turn with her ideas.  As a co-writer, I found this difficult to accept and I found that it quickly became unfeasible for my subsequent suggestions to be accepted into the project.  This was partly because Louise probably had her own ideas on what was to happen and partly because I was unconsciously trying to bring the story back ‘on track’ – towards the way I’d initially imagined it should run.  The two ideas were now in conflict.

I now felt very much as if I’d been sidelined - from my own story idea.  I tried another tack – that of working with Louise on the text or on upcoming chapters but that idea just caused friction between us.

My choices were twofold….either insist once and for all that Louise set my story back into modern times or leave it alone to see how it developed without any further input from me.

On one hand, I felt that the Angel project had been a saleable idea and was very reluctant to let it go, as it may very well represent this writer’s entry onto the market.  Publication was something I’d dreamt of since I was a eleven and this story concept closely matched what was currently selling across the world.

On the other hand, I’d known Louise since 1998 and valued her friendship.  We’d both been through highs and lows together – by email and telephone.  And she seemed to enjoy  writing this story.  I didn’t want to push this and lose her friendship.

And the story would have been permanently marred if I knew that it had cost me so much to get it back.

I didn’t sleep for three days, pacing the house in my indecision.  What to do…

Finally, I chose the latter option, that of letting Louise continue to write the story in her vein, thereby cutting myself off from any input into the story and dumping all the ideas I’d accumulated for this story as 99% of them were rendered irrelevant.  It was a hard decision.  A painful decision.

It was a black moment that was not helped by the recent house fire and the loss of all that it had taken away.

My Muse, meanwhile, was not in the least bit a-Mused by my decision. I had just performed the equivalent of tying it to a chair and shutting it in a locked and unlit cellar.

It ranted ideas at me from the aforementioned dark room…ideas that were no longer applicable to the story.  It cried, it wailed, it kept me awake for days by insisting that I couldn’t simply abandon the story, even though I had already effectively lost it.

What was I to do?

December entry ends here.

 

August 2009

The beginning of an idea.

 

Well, it finally happened.  I’ve just seen how many ‘Vampire Romance’ Novels there are in my local branch of Waterstones.  New ones are appearing all the time.

This genre has certainly caught the public imagination.

So I thought…Vampires are all very well…but I don’t want to write a Vampire novel…the market  already seems to be saturated with the darn things.

But how can I top that?

Angels, that’s how.  Angels have been around for longer and are so much more powerful than vampires.

So I thought; let’s give it a try.

…still August

Began discussing the idea with my long-time friend Louise Dookins and the ideas began to flow. In fact, Louise had so many ideas to offer, I asked if she wanted to collaborate with me on this project. To my delight, she said ‘Yes.’

After a two-day caravan holiday in Teesdale, I had jotted down ten pages of a basic opening chapter.  When I returned I began to type in the chapter (because I’d forgotten to take my Netbook with me), ending up with about 3100 words.  Didn’t send it to Louise yet as we will be meeting up mid-August and I want to surprise her with a printed copy of the chapter.

…mid August Spent several fruitful days building up the backstory to the tale, something of Magda’s family history and why Adam will become attached to her in so many ways.

…late August

Had an inspiration for three, perhaps four complete stories for Magda and Adam to endure, where he

Book 1) tries to return to his realm, but fails.

Book 2) when he decides that he doesn’t want to return after all, but he is being drawn.

Book 3) when he may have no choice but to transform and consequently return, but Magda resists his leaving.

Book 4)? Had another idea (whilst typing this) that he might be forced to transform but because he is reluctant to return, then finds he can transform himself back in order to remain.

The ideas are flowing well and I hope to enjoy a productive time working with Louise to produce a quality, well-rounded story that may end up selling well.  Supernatural romances are very much in vogue at the moment.  We will have to be quick, though, in case the wave crashes and we get left behind.

August entry ends here.

 

 

  

 

10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. jumpingfromcliffs
    Jun 19, 2012 @ 13:41:12

    Liking the hour-by-hour spreadsheet very much. I use a trusty blackboard and chalk for much the same purpose, having fallen into the trap of “how did 3 weeks go by and nothing happened??”

    Reply

    • Andrew Toynbee
      Jun 19, 2012 @ 14:20:38

      Liking the hour-by-hour spreadsheet very much. I use a trusty blackboard and chalk for much the same purpose, having fallen into the trap of “how did 3 weeks go by and nothing happened??”

      …and you can guarantee that at least one hawk-eyed reader will spot such a lapse. Thanks for reading!

      Reply

  2. Trina
    Sep 21, 2012 @ 04:48:16

    Hey there! I just wanted to ask if you ever have any issues with
    hackers? My last blog (wordpress) was hacked and I ended up losing months of
    hard work due to no data backup. Do you have any methods to
    stop hackers?

    Reply

    • Andrew Toynbee
      Oct 08, 2012 @ 12:34:20

      I religiously back up my blog pages (the ones that have seen updates) and keep copies of any photos used in a ‘Blog Pics’ folder on my netbook.

      Have you any idea why they might have hacked you?

      Reply

  3. Luigi Fulk
    Jan 10, 2013 @ 02:36:15

    I simply want to mention I’m beginner to blogs and truly loved your website. Very likely I’m going to bookmark your site . You certainly have amazing posts. Kudos for sharing your website.

    Reply

  4. Nita Borroel
    Jan 23, 2013 @ 14:20:26

    You could certainly see your enthusiasm in the paintings you write. The sector hopes for more passionate writers like you who aren’t afraid to mention how they believe. At all times go after your heart. “History is the version of past events that people have decided to agree upon.” by Napoleon.

    Reply

  5. katalog seo
    Jan 24, 2013 @ 01:49:03

    Awesome. Keep writing.

    Reply

  6. Guy
    Feb 06, 2013 @ 09:07:11

    When I initially commented I seem to have clicked on the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and from now
    on every time a comment is added I get 4 emails with the
    same comment. Is there a means you are able to remove me from that
    service? Cheers!

    Reply

  7. ridiculously photogenic guy
    Feb 06, 2013 @ 14:47:53

    I’d like to thank you for the efforts you have put in writing this site. I’m hoping to check out
    the same high-grade content from you in the future as well.
    In fact, your creative writing abilities has encouraged me to get my very own blog now ;)

    Reply

  8. helenvalentina
    Mar 22, 2013 @ 20:35:19

    Angels!!! fantastic!!! I love books, movies etc about angels!!! Will definitely be checking out yours!!! : )

    Reply

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