Monday, 29 November 2010

I did it!

Won NaNoWriMo, that is. I'm probably about two-thirds of the way through the draft, I know there are holes to be plugged and further research to be conducted to verify (or otherwise!) some of the assumptions I've made in order to keep the story moving forward. I've met some characters I didn't know would be in there and some things have happened that were unexpected - but which, from a narrative point of view, are good. I've changed the title once and very likely will again. And once the draft is complete - I'm aiming to keep the momentum going and wrap it up in a couple of weeks - I'll start again at the beginning, fixing stuff.

It's been great fun doing this, I got the same buzz as I did last time I did it (in 2006). And - just as I did then - I had to cut things out of my usual routine to make room for it. Some of those things I'm looking forward to picking up again, others I haven't missed as much as I feared I might, and so they will go for good (or at least for now - never say never!).

Anyway, the work continues. I'm really looking forward to finishing the draft and having a new novel - albeit it a flawed one - to read and to start to polish. And, if I feel it's good enough, early in the new year I'll be looking for a home for it. Fingers crossed! But for now, I'm basking in the glow that comes from having achieved what I set out to do four weeks ago - write 50,000 words of a new novel. :D

Monday, 22 November 2010

I'm not a musician, but...

I really like this. I reckon there's a lot of stuff in there that could just as easily apply to writers. I know a fair few writers - and there are undoubtedly more that I don't know of - who are using online sites to get their stuff out there and build up a readership. I've heard criticism aimed at those of us who give stories away for free, but I think it's unfounded. Everything is changing. The traditional publisher/agent/writer model is being challenged and is beginning to evolve. The quality of work on some of the online sites - A Twist of Noir, Thrillers, Killers and Chillers and Radgepacket Online to name just three - is very high, and they are also read by agents and publishers, for those who are looking for new ways to be noticed as a stepping stone to a traditional deal.

I also like this, which I just found out about today. Very cool.

Notes: 1) When I say I'm not a musician but... what I mean is I couldn't carry a tune in a bucket. (Then again, I seem to remember the awesome and deeply missed Mr Ronnie James Dio said the same about Ozzy Osbourne. Although compared to RJD, most people fall short. (No pun intended.))

2) Thanks to Daniel Hatadi, from whom I pinched the Trent Reznor link. (Daniel is a musician, and does not need a bucket to carry a tune. He writes a mean tale, too.)

Thursday, 18 November 2010

NaNoWriMo: keeping going

NaNoWriMo is challenging, without doubt. The trick is to push on regardless, to accept that what you are getting into the machine is a rough first draft, not something you'll be punting to an agent or publisher come December first. The NaNoPeeps understand this and they give participants all the help they can, including regular pep talks. I got this one, written by Holly Black, today and I found it extremely useful. Check it out, if you've a mind.

NaNoWriMo word count: 3706

Soon be Christmas!

Alarming but true ... and for those of you with proper jobs and regular salaries, just one or two paydays to go! So what better gift than a staple of most people's childhood: a book token. Go on - you know it makes sense! You can even buy a bookmark to go with it, if you like. (If you don't like that one, there are more in the shop, and yet more to go up over the next week or so.) Happy shopping!

NaNoWriMo word count: 34038

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Lest we forget...

A Terre

Wilfred Owen

(Being the philosophy of many Soldiers.)

Sit on the bed; I'm blind, and three parts shell,
Be careful; can't shake hands now; never shall.
Both arms have mutinied against me -- brutes.
My fingers fidget like ten idle brats.

I tried to peg out soldierly -- no use!
One dies of war like any old disease.
This bandage feels like pennies on my eyes.
I have my medals? -- Discs to make eyes close.
My glorious ribbons? -- Ripped from my own back
In scarlet shreds. (That's for your poetry book.)

A short life and a merry one, my brick!
We used to say we'd hate to live dead old, --
Yet now . . . I'd willingly be puffy, bald,
And patriotic. Buffers catch from boys
At least the jokes hurled at them. I suppose
Little I'd ever teach a son, but hitting,
Shooting, war, hunting, all the arts of hurting.
Well, that's what I learnt, -- that, and making money.
Your fifty years ahead seem none too many?
Tell me how long I've got? God! For one year
To help myself to nothing more than air!
One Spring! Is one too good to spare, too long?
Spring wind would work its own way to my lung,
And grow me legs as quick as lilac-shoots.
My servant's lamed, but listen how he shouts!
When I'm lugged out, he'll still be good for that.
Here in this mummy-case, you know, I've thought
How well I might have swept his floors for ever,
I'd ask no night off when the bustle's over,
Enjoying so the dirt. Who's prejudiced
Against a grimed hand when his own's quite dust,
Less live than specks that in the sun-shafts turn,
Less warm than dust that mixes with arms' tan?
I'd love to be a sweep, now, black as Town,
Yes, or a muckman. Must I be his load?

O Life, Life, let me breathe, -- a dug-out rat!
Not worse than ours the existences rats lead --
Nosing along at night down some safe vat,
They find a shell-proof home before they rot.
Dead men may envy living mites in cheese,
Or good germs even. Microbes have their joys,
And subdivide, and never come to death,
Certainly flowers have the easiest time on earth.
"I shall be one with nature, herb, and stone."
Shelley would tell me. Shelley would be stunned;
The dullest Tommy hugs that fancy now.
"Pushing up daisies," is their creed, you know.
To grain, then, go my fat, to buds my sap,
For all the usefulness there is in soap.
D'you think the Boche will ever stew man-soup?
Some day, no doubt, if . . .
Friend, be very sure
I shall be better off with plants that share
More peaceably the meadow and the shower.
Soft rains will touch me, -- as they could touch once,
And nothing but the sun shall make me ware.
Your guns may crash around me. I'll not hear;
Or, if I wince, I shall not know I wince.
Don't take my soul's poor comfort for your jest.
Soldiers may grow a soul when turned to fronds,
But here the thing's best left at home with friends.

My soul's a little grief, grappling your chest,
To climb your throat on sobs; easily chased
On other sighs and wiped by fresher winds.

Carry my crying spirit till it's weaned
To do without what blood remained these wounds.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

The vagaries of the English language

I was sent this today and I thought it was worth sharing - see what you think!

Do you know why foreigners have trouble with the English Language?

It’s strange!

Let’s face it
English is a stupid language.
There is no egg in the eggplant
No ham in the hamburger
And neither pine nor apple in the pineapple.
English muffins were not invented in England
French fries were not invented in France.

We sometimes take English for granted
But if we examine its paradoxes we find that
Quicksand takes you down slowly
Boxing rings are square
And a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.

If writers write, how come fingers don’t fing.
If the plural of tooth is teeth
Shouldn’t the plural of phone booth be phone beeth
If the teacher taught,
Why didn’t the preacher praught.

If a vegetarian eats vegetables
What the heck does a humanitarian eat!?
Why do people recite at a play
Yet play at a recital?
Park on driveways and
Drive on parkways

You have to marvel at the unique lunacy
Of a language where a house can burn up as
It burns down
And in which you fill in a form
By filling it out
And a bell is only heard once it goes!

English was invented by people, not computers
And it reflects the creativity of the human race
(Which of course isn’t a race at all)

That is why
When the stars are out they are visible
But when the lights are out they are invisible
And why it is that when I wind up my watch
It starts
But when I wind up this observation,
It ends.

I'm not sure where this originated, hence no attribution, but if you should happen to know, tell me and I'll be happy to include it.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

E-books price fixing accusation

It seems that the publishing industry has learned nothing from the woes of the music industry with regard to downloads. The Bookseller reports of customer anger at the high prices some publishers are charging for e-books, with the pubishers concerned being accused of 'greediness'.

We all know publishing is a business - that's a given. Also, publishers have to not only cover costs, but make a profit. To me, however, this charging practice looks likely to backfire badly. At one end of the spectrum, readers appear to be being charged an unrerasonable amount for a download, and at the other, debate rages about an author's royalty on an electronic product. The Society of Authors recommends that a writer's share should be in the region of 45 per cent, rather than the standard book royalty of 10 per cent, due to the huge reduction in direct costs. Anecdotal evidence, however, suggests that this is far from the case, with writers having to battle for every extra percentage point.

With pressure from both ends, as it were, something has surely got to give. With customers able to choose to purchase only those 'fairly' priced books (or download books for free - even some of my titles are available as illegal downloads, never mind those of best-selling fiction authors) and writers able to choose to e-publish privately, mainstream publishers following this or a similar policy may find themselves out in the cold!

Monday, 1 November 2010

NaNoWriMo - Day 1

Working title is Annie, first day word count 2075. Well pleased! If I can only repeat this another 29 times, I've got this thing cracked!

Seriously, I won't be updating about this every day, but I am delighted to have got off to such a good start. If I learned two things last time I did this, they were:

1) don't fall behind on word count, and,

2) keep going, no matter what! You can always fix things later: for now, concentrate on getting the story into the machine!

Right, cup of tea and bed. (Or hang on fifteen minutes and get a head start on tomorrow's word count!)


And so, it begins. I'll post updates as the month goes on, but so far I've been moving backwards. My planning is okay, my writing can now begin, but I had a title (Pray) that I have decided isn't appropriate for the story I intend to write.

So, no title, no net - can't wait to jump in!