May 23, 2010

Chopping and changing

Sorry for blog silence, between busy day job days and revisions, I am Mel of boringness right now.

Currently working my way through the part of revisions which is the most amount of changing order of scenes and what happens so the going has been a little slow while I think it through. But so far it seems to be working. After this bit, the next few chapters are more tweaking so hopefully they'll go faster. Then there's a whole new bit to write. Which means I can boot up Write or Die and get my speed on. Yay! Drafting for the win. All this should result in a better book at the end (crosses fingers!) Trying to do a structural pass at the moment then I'll go back and do a (hopefully) much faster polishing/language pass.

Finding it hard to actually work out how much progress I'm making right now as I'm cutting things and moving things and writing new things and the chapters are a bit messed up. Usually I track my page count and word count for the day but page count isn't necessarily a good indicator when you're chopping and replacing chunks and word count isn't either. Which makes my Virgo side a bit edgy as that side of me likes to see progress meters etc zooming along. Sadly, that side of me just needs to chill out during this part!

Shall have to apply knitting and exercise to achieve said calming down. See if I can distract Virgo brain with watching socks grow or something ; ) Any other good tips for chill out diversions?

May 07, 2010

Books I'm looking forward to

Given it's Friday night and the brain turns to thoughts of relaxation...I thought I'd do a list of books I'm looking forward to reading over the next few months. By no means a complete list lol

Magic Bleeds - Ilona Andrews (May, yay!)
I Kissed An Earl - Julie Anne Long (July)
Silver Borne - Patricia Briggs (Already out but haven't read it yet)
Mouse and Dragon - Sharon Lee and Steve Miller (June - their second new release this year, yippeee!)
A Kiss At Midnight - Eloisa James (August)
Last Night's Scandal - Loretta Chase (August)
Under Heaven - Guy Gavriel Kay (Hmmm, I thought I'd pre-ordered this, it was released late April, must check book depository)
Savour the Moment - Nora Roberts (May..need to order this one stat!)
A Conspiracy of Kings - Megan Whalen Turner (already out but another I haven't gotten to)
Naamah's Curse - Jacqueline Carey (June)
Maybe This Time - Jennifer Crusie (August)
Pegasus - Robin McKinley (Not until November but new Robin is worth anticipating)
Dark Road to Darjeeling - Diana Raybourn (October)
Cryoburn - Lois McMaster Bujold (November - new Miles, squee of frabjous joy)
Red Hot Renegade - Kelly Hunter (August)
Heaven's Spite - Lilith Saintcrow (November)
How to Bake a Perfect Life - Barbara O'Neal (December...which will probably push it to a Jan 11 read but it's a good way to start the year!)

As new books by many of my fave authors go, this is a pretty good six months coming right up!

How about everyone else? Who are you looking forward to (I'm sure I've missed many of mine!)? Always looking to discover fabbo new (or new to me authors)!

May 06, 2010


Given that I have revisions on the brain right now, I thought I'd talk a bit about them. I've probably done so before but hey, I can't remember right now (revision brain strikes!).

In general, I think writers fall into two camps. There are those who hate writing first drafts but love all the polishing and revision that comes afterwards and there are those who love writing first drafts but find revising harder work.

I tend to fall into the latter group. I love the freedom and fun of finding out what my story is in the first draft. A first draft that's flowing and working is pure joy to me. Then, when I get to the end, it's always a bit sad to realise "oh man, I just wrote x amount and now I have to go back and fix it all".

But given I write short first drafts with a severe lack of description and narration and er, lots of other things, I don't think I'm ever going to get away from having to do several drafts of my books. Even more so now I have an editor adding her brilliant insights after I've slogged away for a couple already.

Revision for me, consists of two main things:

1. Editing which is polishing and tweaking language and fixing up continuity and layering in some details and making character voices distinct etc. It's detail, small picture, word by word stuff.

2. Actual revising which is structure and plot and arcs and all that stuff that generally requires big picture thinking. This is the stuff that makes your book actually hang together as a whole. It's easy to write a lot of good polished scenes that don't work together if you don't spend time on the big picture.

So once I come to the end of my first draft, I put the book away for a bit but when I pull it out again, I need to do both types of editing. For me, I usually sit down and work out what I think the book needs right now. What's working, what isn't. What stuff appeared at the end that needs to be taken back and pulled through the book. What threads did I drop? How did the story change from what my initial idea? Am I happy with how it changed or did I lose my way? To help with this I might write the synopsis, or do scene lists. I definitely re-read the notes I made for myself throughout the manuscript as I was writing.

This stuff for me, is hard work, to force myself to be very analytical about the story but I've realised in the last little while as I've thought about this particular story that I do enjoy this part. It's not 'revising' which, to me, sounds boring. It's re-visioning. Redefining what the story is, what it can be. Finding where it needs to bloom or shrink. Working out how to make it shine. Giving myself a vision of it to work too. Of course, actually doing the work is still hard but I think I can get behind the concept that I'm re-visioning rather than revising. Which might just be a strange writer brain quirk but as in all things process, whatever gets you through the night (or draft).

Anyway after, I do my thinking, I sit down and do another draft. I do a reasonable amount of detail work (otherwise my betas and critique partners would likely be asking if I was on drugs) but it's mostly about fleshing out and making the big picture changes I've needed at this point. My draft usually grows by about 25 to 30 percent. This is the draft I send out to my betas and critique partners and agent for comments.

When I get those back, I do another draft to fix the stuff I've inevitably missed and make the story better still. And then probably do some quick passes through to really tweak language or world stuff (stuff like searching for US vs Aussie language, overused words, etc etc). I focus on one thing at a time and each pass might only take a few hours (the "find" feature in Word and speed reading are very very useful at this poitn). This sounds like a lot of drafts but I tend to revise fast because that's what works for me, so it's not months of work. Um, unless I've stuffed something up majorly.

After that, it goes back to my agent for submission (or I guess, from now on, to my editor!) What happens after that point depends on the editorial process. Most likely another draft then line edits then copyedits. At which point I will be thoroughly sick of the book and probably thinking it's complete dreck. Because that is also inevitable for me. Once you've read a book over and over, you lose all perspective (which is why you need betas and crit partners and agents and editors).

During all of this I'll also be working on drafting something new and then the whole darn process will just start over again. That's the glamourous writing life for you!

May 03, 2010

April contest winner!

The lucky winner of Welcome to Temptation is Eileen, who commented on my April 5th post.

Eileen, contact me at mel @ mjscott dot net and let me know your details and WTT will be winging its way to you very soon.

I'll redraw the prize if I don't hear from Eileen in one week.

And now back to revisions for me.

May 01, 2010

It's that time again...

Someone put the year on fast forward! It can't possibly be the first of May yet apparently it is. Sorry that April was a little light on blogging, not sure May will be much better as I am entering the revision cave but I'll try and come up for air now and then.

Anyway, the first of the month means it's time for a brand new contest prize.
For the history of my paying-it-forward contest go here.

I'll draw the April winner sometime over the weekend and post it here and on Twitter so stay tuned!

So what fabulous book is it this month? The first book in one of my all time favourite fantasy series...Daughter of the Blood by Anne Bishop.

Daughter of the Blood is the first book in the Black Jewels trilogy (well, these days there are more than three books in the world, which I am very thankful for). Like Sunshine, it's one of those books I kept picking up in bookstores then putting back down (I really should learn to just buy the book in those situations). But one day I finally bought it, took it home and completely fell in love. It's a very different dark fantasy world (though one with some lovely light moments too) and the hero is absolutely to die for, even if you wouldn't want to meet him in a dark alley! Come to think of it, you wouldn't want to meet the heroine in a dark alley either if you'd gotten on her wrong side. I love the world building in these books and the intriguing morality of the world as well as the gorgeous characters (and did I mention the hero? lol). I think I was back at the book store the very next day and bought the other two books in the trilogy and have eagerly devoured all of Anne's work since (with especial squees of joy whenever she returns to the Black Jewels world).

So this month's prize is Daughter of the Blood, and someone can win a brand new copy which I hope will one day look as battered (lovingly battered) as mine!

Here's a taste of the blurb...

"Seven hundred years ago, a Black Widow witch sees an ancient prophecy come to life in her dazzling web of dreams and visions.

Now the Dark Kingdom readies itself for the arrival of its Queen, a Witch who will wield more power than even the High Lord of Hell himself. But she is still young, still open to influence - and corruption."

Same rules as April but with one tweak....comment on this or any other of my blog posts this month and you're in the running. Simple. Winner will be drawn early May and announced on the blog and via Twitter/Facebook and will have one week (this is the tweak, one week only folks) to claim their prize or there will be a re-draw.