October 30, 2010


I've always been glad that I'm a reader and a lover of story but I think it's during the tough times, I'm even more grateful. When I'm stressed, when I'm sick, when I'm sad, I know that I can take myself away from it all with a good story.

I've been doing a bit of comfort reading lately, old favourites like Diana Wynne Jones and Lois McMaster Bujold and Jennifer Crusie and Guy Gavriel Kay. Loretta Chase and Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. L.M Montgomery. Jane Austen. Stories to make me happy (and yes, there's been a fair bit of rom com watching and Big Bang Theory and Vicar of Dibley but TV and movies are just another form of story really) and give me a break. When I'm wide awake at 4am, I can read myself back to sleep (or audiobook myself back to sleep).

So I'm thankful for stories and my favourite authors who make tough times easier. Who are some of your favourite comfort reads?

October 25, 2010

If only he ruled the world

The orange cat would like you all to know that I have RUINED his exciting cat jungle by getting the backyard mowed. How on earth is he meant to play King of the Savannah now?? If he ruled the world it would be off with my head!

I would subject you to video of him complaining but blogger doesn't want to upload it right now.

And now, off to see if book three wants to play!

ETA: Video!

October 18, 2010

No words

RIP to my darling grey cat, Jessie, who left us today.

You stole a piece of my heart when you climbed up the side of the cage at the Cat Protection Society to get to me sixteen years ago and you've still got it. The world feels a little emptier today.

May you have sunshine to doze in and mice to chase and every good thing where you are now, little girl.

October 17, 2010

Be very very quiet...

We're hunting edits. We're very close to our prey...the completed submission draft.

Normal blogging activity shall resume shortly!

October 10, 2010


So how does one polish a manuscript? That's going to be different for every writer but this is how I do it.

I'm a pantser so my drafts go something like this. Draft 1. Way too short and messy but gets the bones of the story down. Draft 2. Takes those bones, shuffles them around if necessary to fix them and expands the whole thing out to a reasonable length. And yes, I fix typos and any language I notice sucking as I go along but I can't do a full polish at this point because I'm too busy chopping and changing things plus it usually not until the end of draft two that I figure out what the book is really about.

Which brings us to Draft 3 (which is the one that gets sent to my editor and agent). This draft is the detail draft. So what do I do?

1. Put the manuscript together in one chunk. Draft one and 2 I tend to work in chapter documents. No idea why but it works for me.

2. Print it out in arc form so I can read it in hardcopy (I find it easier to spot typos etc on paper).

3. Copy the whole thing and dump it into Wordle. Wordle is something one of my crit buddies found last year when I was at this point with Shadow Kin. It's great. You dump in your text and it gives you back a picture of the most common words in your book. The bigger the word, the more times it appears. This is brilliant for two reasons. Firstly, it makes any the habitual weasel words you tend to use (that, back, like, just, slightly etc) that have been overused, stick out like a sore thumb so you can then go back and specifically search for them and kill them. And secondly, it tells you the other things that stick out in your book. This is helpful (if you're kind of visual) for getting a feel for character screentime (though in first person this is trickier), how your subplots are balancing and maybe spotting any other words that might be coming up a lot (clues to theme!).

4. Do a couple of passes to kill the weasel words discovered via Wordle. I sit down and do a find on each of the words and work through the manuscript for each. It doesn't take too long to do. I find this usually highlights a few other things that might be repeated as you work through (repeated character actions and phrases etc). After I've done this, I'll dump it back into Wordle and check again.

5. Read the whole thing and note clunky bits, typos, anything else that bugs me. I'm not looking for wholesale structural things (though of course, if I found something I'd fix it (and probably cry at this point!). I'll also look for worldbuilding things. Have I broken any rules I've set up? What new rules or mythology have I created? Have I got languages etc right? (If I'm clever at this point, I'll add this into my world bible). The last thing I'll look for in this read will be continuity. Names, clothes, hair color, eye color, places, timelines. Does it all make sense?

6. Reading will also trigger some story things to fix (hopefully only small things...plots to flag earlier, threads to weave in a bit more firmly etc).

7. Sit down and fix all the stuff from the read. While I'm doing this, I'll be paying close attention to my character's voices. Do they sound distinct enough? Do recurring characters sound like they did in the first book? Do the new character's sound different enough?

8. Possibly dump it all back into Wordle yet again, just to see if it looks right.

9. The last thing I'll do will be a spell check, a US language check and another typo hunt.

10. Send the darn thing to my editor and agent and crack open some bubbly.

11. Open up a new document and start Book 3.

October 09, 2010

And done!

It's a book, it's a book! All 100,000 odd words of it. Sure, I need to do a final polishing pass, and god knows how coherent the forty odd pages I wrote today are, but the hard bit is done for now. I have written my first book under contract and (touch wood, throw salt, turn three times widdershins etc), it will be handed in on time, if not slightly early.

Now excuse me while I go pass out.

PS Done! Yippeee!
PPS. Don't write forty pages in a day. It's stupid. And most of me hurts now.

October 07, 2010


Okay world, I am having a night off tonight but tomorrow am attempting a three day deathmarch to finish this draft of Book 2. One of us will emerge victorious!

funny pictures-TRUTH OR DARE
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

I shall report my progress. I shall attempt to do this without eating chocolate. It could get ugly. You have been warned!

Just keep reminding me that I can buy an e-reader when I hand this book in!

October 05, 2010

October contest

Once again, sorry for this being late. Sometimes life happens and in the last week there have been dinners with friends, a hens night with the obligatory male revue, a wedding, day job, family members breaking bits of themselves and various other diversions.

But we shall ignore all that and turn our attention to October's contest. After a very hectic September (last week was possibly the busiest month of that month but only just), I'm in the mood to relax with a bit of wit and sparkle, so I thought we'd return to regency historicals. Back in June, we did Loretta Chase (oops, that sounds a bit wrong!) and the lovely Rupert Carsington. This month, another brilliant regency writer.

Julie Anne Long writes gorgeous witty, sexy regencies but most of them have somewhat unusual settings and or heroes/heroines. Not necessarily the normal balls and Great Houses which is part of their charm. One of my favourites, is Ways to Be Wicked which features a ballet dancer and the owner of a somewhat risque London theatre. With mermaids and little people and French plots! What's not to like? But my all time favourite is the book I'm giving away this month.

The Perils Of Pleasure is a brilliant romance with an awesome heroine who has the very good fortune to be paired with another of my all time favourite romance heroes, Colin Eversea. Who well deserves his ballad! So if you want to discover Coliand find out just why he deserves his very own song (though sadly he doesn't get a hat like Jayne from Firefly, the other worthy fictional recipient of a ballad), comment on this or any of my other blog entries this month!

As usual, I will draw the winner early in November and announce here and on Twitter and Facebook, so follow me somewhere to keep up with the news. The winner will have one week from the time I announce them to get in touch to claim their prize, otherwise Colin will be redrawn and the mystery of the ballad will go unsolved.

And if anyone is a late joiner and wants the history of why I'm giving away one of my favourite books each month, then the history of the contest is here.

September contest winner

Sorry, I'm behind on my posting. Weekend of crazy busy. I'll post the new contest shortly but the September contest winner of The Thief is Robyn! Who has the usual week to contact me to claim her prize.

Anyone else ever get jealous when you know someone is going to read a book you love for the first time? Or is that just me being weird?