Tools of the Trade…

I’m back to writing by hand to get myself out of a little writing slump. 

It’s not that I’m no longer enjoying the story, have lost my way with it or don’t want to write it, it’s just that getting the things in my head down on paper using a pen and notepad seems easier than sitting at the laptop typing away.

I’ve been thinking about the LWL series as it stands – 2 complete novels down and one that’s 3/4 of the way through. I saw a blog post on a news site a few days ago that quite honestly echoes the first scene in LWL1 and I think that’s given me a bit of a jolt, which is translating to being nervous about finishing.

I’ve heard life can mimic art but it’s the first time it’s happened to me with something I’ve written – something only a few agencies and publishers and critique partners have read – and I don’t like the feeling. I kind of feel threatened, pressured, like I need to hurry up and find a way to get these stories out into the big wide world before they’ve all been done by someone else.

(The publishers sent nice rejection emails, by the way; the agent hasn’t replied at all so guessing that’s a no.)

Deep breaths, I suppose, and onwards and upwards as the saying goes.

In other, less depressing thoughts, I’m reading The Hygge Holiday by Rosie Blake and absolutely loving it. Sweet and funny – I’m in love with the parrot – I’m 60% of the way through according to my Kindle and I don’t want it to end!

Taking inspiration where you find it

I’m away from home for a long weekend so brought not one but three notepads with me. I’m glad I did as the words are flowing (as is the gin!) when we’re not out adventuring and I’m now on notepad number 2.

The featured image on this post is a little bit of inspiration for a chapter in LWL3 I’m currently writing. It’s not where we are now but where we were a few weeks ago on our summer holiday.

It got me thinking about the old “write what you know” advice that always gets bandied about when you write. It’s good advice, and advice I’m certainly taking to heart at the moment, but it’s not advice any writer can strictly stick to. 

The joy of writing is partly about being able to imagine situations outside of the boundaries of the ordinary lives lived by those who write and those who read. Readers don’t want to pick up a book and always find it full of the usual 9-to-5 experiences they themselves have every day, and writers don’t always want to write about the ordinary and mundane. Both want adventures and escapism, interesting tales and stories that grip you and won’t let go so you have to keep the pages turning to find out what happens next.

You can’t always write about you know – I’m sure crime writers who build their stories around murders don’t experience it themselves to really get a feel for the antagonist’s motivations! – but sometimes it can be fun to use experiences you’ve had and build on them in ways you only can in fiction.

August already?

I don’t know how that happened, to be honest, and I don’t know how my plan to keep writing on this blog on a regular basis fell so far by the wayside!

Hello, to anyone out there!

We’re officially over halfway through the year now so it’s time to have a little look back on all the writing and reading goals I’d set myself at the beginning of the year.

Reading wise, I’m on target to hit the 30 books I set myself on my Goodreads challenge – I’m two books ahead, in fact, which is a bit of a surprise. (Nearly three, as I’m midway through reading Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones – it’s very good, especially if you grew up with Labyrinth as your go-to film of choice for those rainy weekends as a kid like me!)

I recently finished reading Big Sexy Love by Kirsty Greenwood, which I utterly adored and would recommend to anyone and everyone. You can read my review of it on GoodReads here if you so wish to do so. It’s my favourite book of the year so far, and I think will still have a place in my all time top ten by the end of it, too. Other books I’ve read and thoroughly enjoyed are the last two books (for now) in Ilona Andrew’s Hidden Legacy series, which

Other books I’ve read and thoroughly enjoyed are the last two books (for now) in Ilona Andrew’s Hidden Legacy series, which is right up there in terms of favourite urban fantasy universes.

Writing wise, I’m around 1/3 of the way through book three of my contemporary romance/romantic comedy series. I say romance, but really the relationships that really matter in each of the stories is that of the female characters. It’s a series about friendship, and how having good friends can get you through life’s little obstacles that come at you unexpectedly where love/work/families are concerned. I’m enjoying it, more so now I’ve tweaked a few things so writing it is more of a dream than a struggle. (That said, I’m still looking forward to writing book four most of all – the characters in that one are already vying for attention in my head!)

And the above brings me to the question I really want to ask other writers out there. I’ve got two of the four books done and dusted but for some reason, I’m really reluctant to start sending them off to publishers until the whole series is done. The story doesn’t feel finished yet even though each book can be read quite happily as a standalone, I think because in my mind I know there’s more to come.

Writers, how do you know when you’re ready to send your book baby into the world of agents and publishers? And is it still the goal to get a publishing deal the traditional way or is indie publishing the way forward?

Feel free to get in touch and let me know your thoughts – I’d love to speak to you! x

Reading vs Writing

“The biggest mistake people make in life is not trying to make a living at doing what they most enjoy.”Malcolm Forbes

I’m trying, believe me.

The writing goes on. So does, I admit, the reading.

Average word count per day as it stands: 559(.28)
Words written YTD: 11, 745.

Reading, though, is proving a distraction. I had a conversation with a writer friend about the pros and cons of reading versus writing:

She’s of the mindset that reading is something that writers shouldn’t do too often for fear of it influencing their work/taking away from the time they actually spend writing.

I agree that reading can detract from your writing time so you’ve got to be careful – maybe use it as a treat – but I don’t think it influences your work as a writer, or at least in a negative way.

Reading can be a useful tool for a writer. Not only can you see examples of the various writing styles that are out there but if you find a genre you love reading, maybe it’s worth trying to write in that genre, even if it’s not one you’ve considered before. (I read everything hence I try writing everything. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.)

Point of view, too, is also something writers can learn through the medium of reading. I used to say I’d never enjoy reading first person so would never try writing it; recently, I’ve found myself reading more first person than third person and I’m really enjoying it – I’m even considering trying my hand at writing from a first person perspective (once the LWL series is done and dusted, because if there’s something else I’ve learned recently, it’s that I can’t have more than one story project on the go without my brain getting all befuddled.)

Thoughts from any fellow writers out there?

Do you find reading a help or a hindrance when it comes to writing?

Let me know!

Editing tools

I haven’t written much today, I’ll admit that. But I have done some editing, which makes me grudgingly happy.

It’s one of those things I know has to be done but I kind of resent doing because I want to get on with getting to know new characters rather than revisiting and rehashing those I’ve already, in a way, said goodbye to.

I’ve recently discovered Grammarly, which was recommended to me by an author friend.

I’m not convinced by it enough to purchase it – yet – but I’ve registered an account and as such, been able to download an add-on app which I use in Word to check over what I’ve already written.

Some of the suggested changes I agree with and face palm having missed myself during a re-read.

Others I disagree with. (It seems to like suggesting ‘suck’ instead of ‘sulk’, and ‘bulkier’ instead of ‘sulkier’. Not sure my lead character would appreciate being told she looked bulkier…!)

It is a good way of being made to re-read sentences and paragraphs that somehow made sense when I first wrote them but in hindsight maybe don’t make as much sense as I thought. It’s also highlighted I have a love affair with commas going on. I tend to overuse them a little as many writers are prone to do. (The urge to add a comma to that sentence, for example, was high.)

So if you’re looking for something to help you with your editing, I’d recommend signing up for an account and downloading the app. If nothing else, it makes you think about the words you’re putting on the page.

In other news, I’ve bought a couple of new books for my Kindle… Not conducive to making progress with the writing but sometimes, you’ve just gotta give in to the urge and read… 🙂