Posted in Writing

Update…

…for April and my Camp NaNoWriMo journey!

Camp-2017-Winner

I did it! I completed my first Camp NaNoWriMo! It was harder than I expected, what with Life happening, and I didn’t manage to get everything done that I wanted to. However, I did hit my target of 30 hours, and I am further along with the planning than I was at the start of the month, so I’m happy overall 🙂

I’ve learned a lot about planning over the last month, and the process of writing a book in general. It’s been interesting getting a glimpse into other people’s methods, worries and pitfalls too. It was comforting to realise that I’m not the only one who struggles with motivation, or health, or anxiety and fear. We’re all on this rollercoaster of a journey together, each experiencing the highs and lows of being a writer, and I feel lucky to be part of such a warm, encouraging, and supportive community.

I’ve only been on this journey for 4 months, and I’ve met so many wonderful people, learned more than I could have imagined, and have a much stronger premise for my WIP than I could have ever thought possible. In that time I’ve reached 55 followers here on my Blog (thanks guys!), and am around the 3,000 mark for followers on Twitter! It’s been (and still is) a steep learning curve, but I’m loving it.

For May I want to finish the second half of my synopsis, and use flashcards to plot out the first book in the series properly, focusing specifically on the main plot points, and structure. The hope is that I’ll be ready to start my first draft in June.

Here’s to another productive writing month!

Posted in Writing

Camp NaNoWriMo Update…

I can’t believe we’re half way through April already! This month is just flying by…

At the start of the month I decided to do a quick Update post a couple of weeks in, just to add an extra degree of accountability to my Camp experience. 

The 1st week of Camp was great! I hit my targets, I did something every day, I felt focused, positive, and productive.

Then the second week happened. 

It did not go well. At all. In fact, it didn’t really go at all! I didn’t even manage my Friday blog post (apologies). 

I know I’m probably being unecessarily hard on myself for not getting everything done that I wanted to, but I hate it when I lose my mojo. Between hospital appointments and illness, I had no motivation or energy for Wording. I read a quote online that perfectly summed up my week. It went something like: “it takes a lot of braining to make the words go!” I had no braining left.

Thankfully, this week is a new beginning, a fresh start, or blank page (if you pardon the writerly pun). I’m working on shifting my days around so that I can squeeze some words out when I have the time/energy. I’ve altered my expectations, and am focusing on what I can achieve, instead of getting upset about what I can’t. I am trying to rediscover my passion for this project by connecting with my characters.

I hope the rest of you campers out there are doing ok, and achieving your goals. 

Here’s to a productive Week Three! 

Posted in Writing

Update…

…for March 2017.

So, it’s April. This year is going by far too fast for my liking. Can you believe we are already a quarter of the way through this year?

March was a bit of a hit-and-miss month for me. I had a few health things going on, and some crazy tablets with apocalyptic side-effects.

I was still able to get some things done though, and am happy with my progress. I did not get to the point where I was ready to start my first draft for Camp NaNoWriMo this month, but I’m not going to cry about it.

For March I have:

  1. Participated in a number of Twitter hashtag games
  2. Hit 2500 Twitter followers
  3. Completed detailed character profiles for all major characters
  4. Completed character arcs for main POV characters
  5. Completed a provisional chapter/scene overview for book 1
  6. Researched talisman/relic ideas for the MC’s Quest
  7. Done a basic outline based on 3 Act Structure
  8. Re-styled this Blog
  9. Come up with a blog post schedule for the next 3 months
  10. Hit 50 Blog followers 🙂

Not bad all things considered!

This month is going to be busy, and hopefully more productive, as I’m taking part in Camp NaNoWriMo for the first time. It’s only day 3, but so far – so good. I’ve not quite got in the groove of setting a time each day to work on my WIP yet, but I’ve managed to meet my daily goals.

For April, I’m hoping to finish my planning, complete Camp NaNoWriMo, continue building my Blog and Twitter platforms, and try to get something done on my Secondary Project.

I’ll do a Useful Info post on Camp NaNoWriMo for those of you who may not know what it is, and will keep you updated on my progress 🙂

Happy writing to one and all, and here’s to a fabulous April!

Posted in Writing

Update…

…for February 2017.

I’m still struggling to come to grips with the fact that it’s already March, and we’re almost half way through this month too!

February was brilliant for overall authorly achievements, but rather thin on the actual writing front.

Quick overview of Feb’s #amwriting accomplishments:

  1. Participated in WriteOnCon
  2. Got some feedback on my current WIP
  3. Figured out what was preventing me from moving forward with said WIP
  4. Went back to the drawing board and scrapped most of WIP
  5. Re-started the planning & outlining for new-improved WIP
  6. Won a 2 page critique from an editor in a WriteOnCon raffle
  7. Sent in 2 pages, and received feedback from said editor
  8. Made changes to WIP based on feedback
  9. Hit 2000 followers on Twitter! 🙂
  10. Completed a brief overview for each book in the series

While I feel as though I’ve taken quite a few steps backwards in some respects, overall I’m feeling positive about my current project, and am much more focused and motivated to keep working on it.

It turned out that my original story (which I started dabbling with over 10 years ago) was spanning the MG and YA age categories, which in today’s literary world just doesn’t work. I had to choose between keeping the style and narrative voice, but changing the series plot to be more MG appropriate – OR – altering the ages of my characters & changing the narrative voice to be more in-keeping with the YA themes the story explores.

I opted for keeping my original idea for the story, and aging the characters and narrative voice. It was somewhat painful having to let go of everything I’d written so far, and go back to the drawing board, but once I got over that, the ideas started flowing faster than I could write them down!

The raffle win was a complete surprise – both terrifying and exciting in equal measure. This was the first time a ‘professional’ would have read something I’d written. I’d already made changes based on the feedback from WriteOnCon, but I had no idea whether or not I’d been successful in making it sound more YA, increasing the stakes, and everything else you’re supposed to do for that age category.

The feedback I got was nowhere near as scary as I expected it to be. There weren’t as many notes/comments as I’d anticipated. A lot of them were quite minor things: some bringing my attention to things I didn’t even know existed (dangling modifiers…anyone?); and some really helpful pointers/tips/advice that will definitely make my writing stronger in the future. There were a few nice compliments in there too, which helped boost my confidence – I can ‘clearly write’, and have ‘a talent for imagery’ 🙂 She advised me to relax, and not worry about trying to prove I’ve got it. So overall it was a very positive experience!

As for the Twitter milestone – I’m not quite sure how I managed to hit 2000 followers in less than 2 months, but I’m loving the writing community on there! It’s so inclusive and supportive. There is a wealth of information and authoring advice, and the daily/weekly/monthly hashtag games are a really good way to connect with other writers, and think about your own work in a different way.

My goals for this month of March are to continue with Twitter and my blog, do more detailed character arcs, which I can then combine with my basic outlines to create a more detailed plan for each book. I’m hoping to get at least book 1 done by the end of the month so that I can start the first draft for Camp NaNoWriMo in April.

Good luck with all your writing goals, and here’s to a productive March!

 

Useful Info…

…about Noteworthy Blogs and Websites!

blog

As a follow on from last week’s “Useful Info’ post, I’m going to be talking briefly about another website which has been massively helpful as I’ve taken my first few steps on this authoring journey.

Today’s post brings to you the writerly talents of Writerology! This site is run by the amazing Faye, who you can (and should) follow on Twitter here.

In addition to her fabulous website, Faye also hosts #storycrafter on Sunday evenings (on Twitter) which I 100% recommend you take a look at.

Writerology is packed to the brim with useful articles, inspiring posts, writing challenges and so much more.

If you haven’t already have a look you can right now, here -> Writerology

Have a browse, follow her on Twitter, and check out the awesomeness that is #storycrafter on Sundays – I would also recommend that you sign up to her StoryCrafter’s Circle, where more wonderful writerly resources can be found!

Useful Info…

…about Writing Exercises.

Business Author Writer Text Writing Paper Letter
…but only if I write.

From what I’ve seen during this brief month of writerly-ness, every writer out there has rough days. Writer’s block. Lack of motivation. Loss of inspiration. Writing yourself into a corner. Self-doubt. Fear. Countless other reasons…

It happens to everyone. Apparently. Yet, people are still out there writing. Getting published. Being awesome authors.

Which means you can too.

The most important advice floating around the interwebs is to WRITE. You are not a writer if you’re not writing. You’re just a dreamer.

So, here are a few suggestions for when you hit those inevitable ‘down days’:

  • Writing prompts – there are loads of blogs, websites, Twitter accounts that will happily provide you with writing prompts for free. Weekly, daily, sometimes hourly – take a look and see if any appeal to you. Then write.
  • Free writing – sometimes known as ‘stream of consciousness’, where you sit down with pen & paper/laptop & fingers and just write whatever comes to mind. It can be as random, weird, worrying or wonderful as you want. Try it.
  • Different POV – if you’re stuck with your current WIP, why not pick a scene and try writing it from a different character’s point of view? It might give you a different perspective/added in-sight and help shift that mental block.
  • Sprint writing – can be combined with any of the above ideas. Sit down, set a timer for 10/30/60 minutes (however long you want) and then write!

These are just a few ideas to get you writing each day, writer’s block or not. There are tons more out there if you can be bothered to go looking for them. This Writing Exercises website is a good place to start, and has some interesting ideas for you to try out.

Play around, try a few different ideas, see what works for you. But most importantly, WRITE.

Useful Info…

…about ADVERBS!

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If you’re anything like me, you’re trying to read every useful bit of information on the internet that has anything to do with writing, in an attempt to improve your craft. Quite a few articles I’ve read recently have been about authors’ use of adverbs.

Apparently, a common mistake of newbie writers is the overuse of these tricksy little words. I’m assuming most other people are pretty confident in their understanding of adverbs, but for the few of you who, like me, are not quite so sure, here’s a quick overview:

An ADVERB is not the same as a verb, or an adjective (common mistake).

A verb is a ‘doing’ word (e.g. the dog barked).

An adjective modifies/describes nouns (e.g. the good dog).

An adverb modifies verbs/other adverbs/adjectives (e.g. the good dog barked playfully).

These are obviously very basic examples, but hopefully you’ll get the idea. Often, adverbs end in ‘-ly’, although there are exceptions to this, as shown in the picture above, of common adverbs.

Have a quick look at your manuscript (MS) and see how many adverbs you’ve used. There’s nothing wrong with a few here and there, but if they crop up all over the place, it might be worth going through and seeing if there is a better way to write what you’re trying to say. My WIP wasn’t too bad, but there were a few instances where I was able to make my sentences a little more concise.

Useful Info…

…about Planning.

planning

From what I’ve read on Twitter, and different blog posts/articles/opinion pieces by other writers, there are 2 (possibly 3) different styles of planning for a writing project.

These are known as:

  • Plotting
  • Pantsing
  • Hybrid

1) A Plotter (can also be referred to as an Architect…) is someone who is big on planning. These types of people like to get the world building, character profiles, story arc etc. done before they sit down to actually start writing their book.

2) A Pantser (can also be referred to as a Gardener…) is someone who prefers to start writing straight away and see where the story takes them. Structure, details and other key points are worked on/added in later drafts.

3) A Hybrid (not sure what else they’re called…) is pretty self-explanatory. These people combine the above methods, perhaps starting with a basic outline and then adding to it as they write and the ideas are flowing.

Personally, I think I’m probably more of a Plotter. I like to know who my characters are, where the story is going and what my fantasy world looks like before I start writing. Once I get going, I’m more than happy to be flexible and go off track if the story needs me to, but I like to have something I can look back at if I get stuck.

How about you? Are you a Plotter, a Pantser or a Hybrid?

Posted in Inspiration, Writing

Inspired by…

…WriteOnCon!

WriteOnCon: Online Writers’ Conference 2nd – 4th Feb 2017

WriteOnCon is a three-day online children’s book conference for writers and illustrators of picture books, middle grade, young adult, and even new adult.

~ WriteOnCon

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It was quite by chance that I found out about this online Writers’ conference. One of the awesome writerly tweeps I follow (@Writerology) posted a link the day before it was due to start. I don’t know why, because I’m not usually a spontaneous person, but I decided to sign up and quickly found myself registering for the standard access deal.

I’ve never participated in anything like this before, and as I’m still at the very beginning of my writing journey, I was more than a little nervous. So, the whole concept of being able to do this from the comfort of my own home, without having to ‘make eye-contact’ with other humans was a huge plus! 🙂

I had no idea what I was doing (and there were a few technical difficulties in the beginning), but I committed to taking the time to participate in the forums, explore each of the Blog/vlog events, take advantage of the free access to the Live Q&A sessions, and not cry over any feedback people took the time to leave on my work.

I’ll be honest: it was exhausting! There was so much amazing information to try and absorb, that my brain hurt. All of the posts were interesting and relevant, the Q&A sessions were always informative and my questions got answered 🙂

I got a couple of feedback(s?) on extracts of my WIP that I posted, which were a little disheartening at first. But after I got over the allowed 5-minute-pity-party, I realised they were right, and the problem was that I was trying to straddle the MG and YA categories, and it just wasn’t working.

I’ll post more about my epiphanies in an update post later, but long story short (probably too late for that now, I know), I’m going back to the drawing board and picking 1 age category that I can keep in mind and shape my writing for. It means I have to scrap pretty much all of the writing I’ve done so far, but I can at least keep most of the planning (eg. World Building) and just make a few changes on character profiles and plot points.

I know it’s the right decision because I’m more excited about this project than I have been in a long time. Ideas have been sparking left, right and centre, and the direction I want to go, and how I want to get there, have come into much clearer focus.

So, while it was a little painful at first, I am beyond grateful that I signed up to this event, and would enthusiastically recommend it to any aspiring authors out there, who feel a little stuck with their current WIP. Hopefully this happens again next year and I can be massively inspired all over again! 🙂

Useful Info…

…about NAMES.

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If you’re anything like me, you have no problem when it comes to creating characters and dreaming up worlds. Yet, when it comes to the point where you actually have to write about them, you realise they need names…and that’s when everything comes grinding to a halt.

I tend to know the names of my main characters as soon as they come to life in my imagination, but when I’m trying to decide what to call anyone and anything else, my mind seems to go annoyingly blank.

It’s not something I’d really given much consideration to before I actually started trying to write my first novel, but there can be a lot of different things that need naming. This is especially true if you’re writing a fantasy series and having to start from scratch.

Things such as:

  • Any other character/creature in your story.
  • Countries, kingdoms, nations and dynasties…
  • Planets, galaxies, starships and space ports…
  • Cities, towns, villages, estates…
  • Forests, mountain ranges, rivers and deserts…
  • Bridges, roads, rivers and seas…

These are just the ones I can think of, off the top of my head. Some of them may not be relevant to your current WIP, but I have no doubt there will be more than just your hero and villain who need a name.

There are lots of great resources out there for those of you who, like me, struggle to think of the minutiae when your head is full of the ‘bigger picture’. Here’s a good resource that can get you started:

Fantasy Name Generators. 

They have a lot of different categories for both people and places, and although some are slightly outlandish, there should be something in there that can at least get your creative juices going, if nothing else.

Have a look and see what you think, or let me know if there are any other sites that have worked wonders for you!