Do you need to experience your setting?

I decided to write my posts on the weekend so that I had time freed up during the week. This decision made me so happy and proud.

So its 8 am Tuesday…I am not so happy or proud…

Nothing ever goes to plan.

I went to Sydney recently for a wedding, and it was the perfect opportunity to inhale the sights and sounds since my characters are going to take a jaunt there quite early in book two. Ferrying past the Sydney Opera House during the day,  I couldn’t help but think, “Is that Mission Brown in the eye bit? Is there a really big  fence somewhere in Sydney left unpainted so that the Opera House could use this as part of their colour palate? ” So, I didn’t really get any tinglings.

Have you noticed, though, that unplanned gatherings or the ones you dread the most end up being the most fun?

Maybe the same can be said for inspiration – that it hits at unexpected times in unexpected places. You can’t always force it.

I drove around Paddington in Brisbane to look at the ‘Queenslanders’ – the house my characters live in.

I changed no details about the houses themselves in the book, but I did find a huge Moreton Bay Fig towering over a lone park bench on the corner of a suburban street.

No, I didn’t end up changing the setting so that my characters now live  in a tree house – painted Mission Brown –  but the tree secured my idea about the book cover, and I did add a new scene to the book where Mae would find solitude here, would run to this place to prove to herself that she could. The introduction of the scene ended up tying in with her past,  showing why her childhood crush never pursued her earlier: if he ran after her, she just ran further. Kind of like my dog when she escapes the house….

See, it hits in unexpected places.

So, do you need to experience your setting to become inspired enough to write about it?

 

 

 

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Post-submission options

So, I’m at a crossroads or is it a crossroad? If it’s angry, it’s probably safer if it’s alone. Either way, I could take a spin – a great smoke-inducing, environment-cluttering burnout – and call them the rageroads instead of the crossroads, but I’m actually dealing fine – even though I normally can’t resist  playing with words and embellishing the truth… But to be truthful, I’m in the middle of an octopusroad, or whatever an intersection would be called if it where based on a thirteen-armed creature. Yep. It’s that scary.

What do I do with my time, now that I can cross step one off my list?

1) Contact local literary agents

This involves redoing my synopsis as some require a 300-1000 word synopsis and mine is only 300. Technically, I would be complying with the terms, but I’m sure they want more than 300 words.

I tried to just add more information to my existing one, but this was a bad idea. I need to start from scratch.

2) Contact overseas literary agents

I have sent off for a number of books that can help: Writers and Artists Yearbook 2015, 2015 Guide to Literary Agents: The most trusted Guide to Getting Published and The Firstwriter.com Writer’s handbook 2015.

It was also suggested that you can purchase The Directory of the American Book Publishing Industry but wow, is that expensive!

I know that I can look to the internet for a lot of this information, but I like my time away from the screen and can look at this information more clearly in book format.

3) Submit to digital publishers

Thankfully, having subscribed to QLD Writer’s Centre, I am able to see a number of digital publishing opportunities that I wasn’t aware of. Do agents also sell to digital publishers? I guess so – more research!

4) Research the submission proposal and queries further

I have ordered a few books to help here from the library. An Insider’s Guide to Publishing and Write the Perfect Book Proposal: ten that sold and why.

5) Seek out writing training

I have ordered Penguin Writer’s Manual to see what it offers.

There is also a mentor opportunity – which I have to pay for – which will also highlight my flaws.

6) Have my manuscript assessed

I did not know this service was available until two weeks ago! One I checked cost  about $600 for the amount of words in my MS.

Apparently, having this done, and including this, along with any other workshops attended/memberships held, in your query letter can help highlight how serious you are about your career. I should have done this!

7) Research mythology, fighting and weapons for book two.

I have a ridiculous amount of research to do for book two. While I am unsure what I should do, I could maybe take a few weeks off to solidly research.  This will at least satisfy some of book two’s need for attention.

8) Continue to write book two

Really, I should still be writing 500 words a day to keep the flow, but I am struggling. I still think book one and I need some time together.

9) Network and attend workshops

This, I will try and do as they become available. As per my previous post, I am baby-stepping my way into networking. There was a lot to be gained just from an hour and a half last night! Thank you Louise Cusack!

10) Investigate publishing overseas

I’ll be seeing what I can glean from the above books.

11) Invest more time into blogging and building a platform

12) Rethink my pitch

I’m trying to sell my book proposal as urban fantasy. Upon thinking about young adult and trying to find comparative novels, it became obvious that this may be a hard sell. I have romance throughout, but I played this down. I think I need to rethink the way my proposal is packaged. I’m not selling my soul to any devil here. There are romantic elements that may make my book more marketable if I show they are there. The romance stays the same; it was always there.

13) Revamp my MS

The first ten pages has to be engaging. To me, it was, but I have to think on this again. The prologue, as well received as it was by beta readers, might have to go – even though it is short and has you wondering – who the hell just killed that guy and why! Even the synopsis might need to be changed to suit a more paranormal romance tone – if I decide to repackage.

 

In hindsight – more like, as I grab hindsight by the throat and threaten to harm it should it speak up – I should have done even more research. I felt like I’d done enough, though.

What do I prioritise?

I could treat my writing like I did my professional career as an account manager. Divide my day into increments and do a little of everything. I mean, the customers don’t stop calling just because I’ve allocated a day to paperwork. Some activities just need to be attended to – every day. Should this be book two? If you should write every day, then surely this should mean that every day I write at least 500 words. The rest of the day could be research for book two, blogging, revamping my query, synopsis and MS.

There is a lot to consider, isn’t there?

We are told to get the story out first. And now that it is out, like a newborn, the world it is introduced to is vast, unpredictable and confusing.

If anything stands out that I am missing or you would like to share your thoughts on where you are, please do 🙂

 

 

 

Can we increase our creative limit?

We all know that you can only do so much in a day. But like when you are able to fit in dessert even though you have finished a whopping great dinner, are you able to cram more into your day if we diversify?

When I started my blog, the ideas were flowing. I didn’t have time to think, and I didn’t really have to.  My blog posts provided an opportunity for me to be creative, while the revisions, edits and proofreading efforts on book one had become more mechanical than inspirational. Would I be able to polish my MS if I had to do this as well as 2000 new words a day on book two? Probably not, but the blog was a great way to keep new ideas flowing. I was diversifying my creativity, but I still had a limit.

As of today, I am right into book two. Not only that, I’m writing 2000 words a day and I’m doing it in three hours. And the best part is, I’m not unhappy with it: they are not just any old 2000 words.  But the inspiration for my blog posts is sadly drying. Am I pulling from a creative pool which is not infinite? Am I a pie chart and book two  is a fat chunk hogging all my creative space? While I’m forming this new routine, and pumping ideas into the storyline? Yes.

We can only stretch so far, so I wonder whether with creativity, we only have so much to give. I think this is the case, but I also believe that we increase our capacity. I know that a year ago I was struggling to get to 1000 words a day, and there is no way I would have had room for a blog as well.

What’s changed? Why do I hold such an optimistic view on the future of the pairing that is my blog and book? I hear a lot that writing is like building a muscle. And like building muscles, you can withstand more and more pressure with less effort as time progresses.

The best part about likening writing to muscle building, is that you can also refer to muscle memory. I spent two years building my writing capabilities and then three months ago, I put my routine on hold to polish my MS.  Now that I’m back into my writing routine for book two, I have been able to jump straight back in as though I’ve been doing this every day for two years. So like muscle memory with exercise, because I was continually stretching over time, I have been able to ease back in, and ease back in at a higher level than if I had never stretched this muscle before.

I’ve also noticed that I have more creative juice available as the mechanical process of writing has become more unconscious, allowing me to focus on the creative side of writing.

So, I have increased my creative capacity, but I still believe I am conscious of how much I have to give. If I pull too much in one direction, something is going to give, and at the moment, I can’t afford for that to be the quality of book two. Hopefully, over time, I have blog posts banging away at me as I struggle to go back to sleep at 4 a.m. Hmm maybe I should write 3000 words a day. I really don’t like being awake at 4…

Do you have a creative limit, or do you find you can write more the more creative you allow yourself to be?

 

 

Reader-to-Writer: Changing my Perspective #1- Love Triangle’s

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Firstly I’m going to say – this blog has no mind-control widgets or lecturing programs installed.

*disables mind-control widgets and lecturing programs*

Okay, now this blog has no mind-control widgets or lecturing programs installed. This is purely my own personal account on how I’ve changed my perspective on books and authors, now that I have completed the 2nd draft of my own book.

If I look at my experience with the literary world, in terms of hours invested, I definitely have more hours under my belt as a reader than a writer. Over this time I have reviewed a lot of books, uncovered some buzz words, and stumbled upon loads of bugbears. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions on a book. Of course they are. But even before writing I found myself defending my opinions for fear of offending a fellow reviewer. So its tough for me to voice my opinion outside of my happy home ( at home, I let it rip- my opinions that is – just to be clear). But here goes. I have learned a considerable amount of the last eighteen months. Mostly, to be less critical of myself.

Over the next few weeks I’m going to be addressing the big ones as I see it. This week, over 2 posts I will be looking at the ones that can determine whether a person continues or drops a series. Love Triangles ( Love V’s) and Cliffhangers.

Love Triangles ( Love V’s)

Every time a love triangle is mentioned I wonder, “If this is a love triangle, it’s possible that these two love interests will dump the protagonist and pursue each other.” When you think about the shape of the triangle, it’s possible right?  And by law of averages it’s going to happen – a triangle is a shape, it has something to do with maths, and you learn maths at school so maths has to be relevant…..So anyway, to me it’s really a love V.

Book 1 – I don’t want to give too much away here, but I can say that there is somebody I wanted to introduce in book 1. It wasn’t the right time for him; for me, as his almighty creator, he didn’t have a place. I’m not a planner. I’m a ‘lets start writing and see where this character will take me’ person. I have an idea in my head of the general storyline and events, but ultimately I follow my creations around. Its very un-creator like.

So lets call him Draven – a nice strong name to stand out. Not his real name, but you’ll understand why in a minute. The poor bloke can’t catch a break.

I’ve started planning book 2. I felt like I couldn’t finish book 1 until I had an idea of where book 2 was going, and the world as a series. And I’ve started thinking about Draven and his place.

My first thought was thispeople are going to worry this is the start of a love triangle, throw the book at the wall and run around the house naked in anger.

My second thought should bewow, that’s really cool that my book would elicit such an emotional response.

But, rightly or wrongly, it was actually – How can I downplay Draven and make him as unappealing as possible as a love interest for Mae?

I’ve read a few series where a really interesting secondary character is introduced in book 2 and I would look at this man/woman and say, “Um, where were you in book 1? You’re awesome! You make book 1 man/woman  look like bread when you’re toast dripping in melting butter and honey.”

So here’s what was happening to Draven in my head:

  1. I’m going to make him less attractive to the opposite sex
  2. I’m going to make him really annoying
  3. I’m going to give him a girlfriend
  4. I’m going to kill him off

And now I’m thinking – hmm this is seeming really contrived and not a natural process at all. It’s a word I’ve used myself when reviewing – especially with love triangles.

So what do I do?

I believe I have to write him as I wrote my characters in book 1. I introduce him, get a feel for his place, and see where he leads me. If he doesn’t feel right then I go back and try again.  I have to be more open to his existence, his impact on the series. I have to trust Mae and  I have to trust myself.  If I consciously adhere to my own internal critic and downplay him, which Draven is the natural one and which one is contrived?

I still can’t tell you whether there will be any love for Draven; he hasn’t spoken to me yet. But when he does I know we will work it out together to the point where I’m allowed to sleep at night, happy that my little creation feels at home with the family I have built.

Sometimes I prefer bread to toast dripping in melting butter and honey. I’m sure I’m not the only one.

 

My next post will be on Cliffhangers – bring a rope 🙂