Tuesday, 30 September 2014

TAKING STOCK: WHAT DOES PROGRESS LOOK LIKE?



Earlier in the day, after watching my washing machine stuck in a repeating slow spin loop, I’d switched the thing off, gave it a kick, and switched it back on again. At that point I judged progress as seeing my washing machine complete the cycle. Later as my bus rattled into town, and I sat daydreaming out the window enjoying the sight of the beige brown wheat stubbled fields in the morning sun, the thought struck me – I’ve almost finished my second book, and I began to reflect on how different my experience writing this story has been from my previous one.

My first novel, One Summer in Montmartre, was born out of fascination with how objects from the past connect with the present. So when I had the idea of a love letter being found one hundred years after it was written, I wanted to write a two stranded novel and tell both stories; why the letter was written, and what happened after it was discovered. With the current WIP, having decided I wanted to try the paranormal genre, it was a character who appeared first. Although my initial thought was this person was the protagonist, as the idea developed it became clear that wasn’t going to be his role.

One Summer started as an assignment on a writing course, but went on the back burner for a couple of years while I completed two more creative writing courses. Despite knowing the skeletal outlines of the plot, I had to go back after the first draft and add more dramatic events, flashbacks and details to flesh out the story. I edited endlessly, taking a long time to be satisfied with my decisions. And when I thought I’d finished editing, I discovered Pro Writing Aid, adding months to the process as I put the story through the program twice. Now two years on, the book is published. 

With my second novel, Tatya’s Return, after a period of incubating ideas I outlined the plot in far more detail, and wrote the first draft during last year’s November Nanowrimo while  I rested One Summer. I completed One Summer in January, and nine months later, Tatya is almost ready to publish.

I’m still mulling over why the second book was easier and quicker than the first. Was it because I’d included more action? Was it because the genre or the protagonist excited me more? One Summer was a labour of love, but one where I felt the weight of putting my work out in the public arena, but as I’ve relaxed into the role of writerpreneur, writing Tatya has felt more playful.
                                                                                              
I’ve heard other writers say your stories are like your children. Each one is precious to you, each has their distinguishing traits, but you love them equally. I’m experiencing the truth of this as I prepare to send a second one out into the world, and realizing that as with people, you give most of your attention to the one in front of you. My plan is to write the first draft of the next book in the Samsara trilogy during this year’s upcoming Nanowrimo. It’ll be interesting to see how long this one takes to complete!


Writing Update
This week I’m going through the WIP, making sure I’ve dealt with the red highlighted sentences. When I read aloud, most corrections are straightforward, but now and then a sentence or phrase warrants more time. I highlight these for consideration afterwards as I dislike interrupting the flow of reading for too long.

I’ve chosen the title of the trilogy, Samsara; and having finally settled on my protagonist’s name, Book One is Tatya’s Return.

After the red highlighting is sorted, a final read through and tweak, checking the protagonist has a strong emotional journey. And there will be a map – paranormal novels don’t usually have maps, unlike the fantasy genre, but the story seems to call for one. Then there’s formatting, and the cover, where I’m wondering if one aspect of progress is relief at knowing you’ve made fewer mistakes than last time?

I’ve set myself the target of achieving publication in three weeks – with a little leeway, but Halloween seems a good opportunity to release a novel featuring supernatural beings. So, with anticipation building and adrenaline levels high, I shall be working as hard as I can to make that deadline.

Today’s Haiku
EARLY AUTUMN
fresh leaf greenness fades
summer wanes - late September
sun pleasures my skin

Useful Links:
For those of you bedevilled with grammar issues, here’s an article to confuse you further. (I’m still making my way through G. K. Pullum’s thesis.) The writeintoprint website has plenty of other tips as well.
And more encouraging news for writers already on, or considering, self publishing.
http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/jun/13/self-publishing-boom-lifts-sales-18m-titles-300m

I’d love it if you checked out my debut novel, One Summer in Montmartre, or popped over to Wattpad and read any of my posted stories... just click on the links to the right.

Join me on Twitter at: teagankearney@modhaiku   

Thanks for visiting my blog, and please do leave a comment.
To all story lovers out there, good reading, and to those of you who write, good writing.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

WRITERS WITH NOTEBOOKS





You’re lucky if you manage to spot one of these rare specimens. They’re unique in that they’re found in every environment, come in all shapes and sizes with plumage from blonde ringlets to bald pates, and can generally be found engaged in their favourite activity.  Yes, you know who I’m referring to – writers with notebooks.  

Ideas can be sparked by anything, but as many writers know if you don’t write down that idea while it’s fresh in your mind, it’s often taken wing by the time you reach for it later. Today many of us use electronic devices of one kind or another to write with, but one important tool which shouldn’t be neglected is the humble notebook.

With notebooks, size doesn’t matter, although you might want to choose one small enough to carry around in a pocket or bag. I have half a dozen books of various sizes because at one point I kept leaving my notebook at home. Some writers enjoy indulging in the luxury end of the market, and without doubt there is a certain gratification in opening a notebook whose cover is an ornately designed piece of art, but currently a 50p exercise book suits me fine. Whenever I go out, I always check I have my trusty notebook and a couple of pens with me. In the matter of pens, never rely on one, because it will run out just when you need it most.

Developing the habit of jotting down observations, descriptions of people, and places is worthwhile cultivating. A good exercise to practice when you’re out and about is to spend ten minutes or so writing what you see, hear, and smell.  Notice any actions taking place and the different shades and shapes of objects. Are there clouds in the sky? What does the air feel like on your skin? (Although the latter may be easier in seasons when the weather is not too inclement.) Try to create a written snapshot of what is around you. Don’t worry over grammar or punctuation; think like an impressionist painter, it’s all about the moment.

Another use for a notebook is as a diary. Diaries can be used to explore your emotions, and develop a deeper awareness of your internal monologue.  Both Virginia Woolf and Somerset Maugham kept notebooks which they found invaluable for different reasons.  Maugham because he intended to use what he wrote as a resource, and Woolf often recorded observations regarding her own writing process. Writers naturally take a lot from their life experiences.

Notebooks are also good for morning writing, another practice advocated for improving your writing. The theory is that by writing as soon as you wake, you’re still in contact with your subconscious, and can access ideas and your imagination more easily. Morning writing is freewriting without clustering or a prompt. A warning this practice needs discipline as groping for a notepad on a dark winter’s morning, and trying to function without coffee didn’t work for me. But I still do my best writing when I’ve made it downstairs to the warm kitchen, and after I’ve drunk my coffee!

The news, wherever you get it from, radio, tv, twitter, newspapers, is an endless source of inspiration. A story needs tension and conflict and you’ll find plenty in any newscast. A notebook is ideal for collecting ideas for later development. Even if you never expand or use much of what you’ve written, the act of observing and recording items which interest you feeds your imagination. 

You can use your notebook however you wish: freewriting, diary, morning writing, character sketches, beginnings and expansions of ideas, planning the chain of events for your novel – anything and everything. I know that for me, my notebook has become an invaluable tool in my writing journey.

Writing Update

Last week I was thinking about cutting back on my blog, and posting every two weeks, but yet here I am still posting. I must thank Anne, Carol, Vashti, Christine and Anita for their generous support and encouragement. I also read a blog last week which struck a chord as it pointed out that if you are serious about this writing business, then you should be in for the long haul. And that made me think again.

In the meantime, as I ponder whether to reduce to a bi-monthly blog or not, I’ll continue to post weekly. This week I’ve reworked another of my earliest posts which I believe is still of relevance, and ended up writing more than usual! My new blog resolution is to aim for cheery shorter posts!

I’ll finish my read aloud read thru of the WIP by the end of the week. More about this next week.


You may have noticed the new cover for One Summer in Montmartre. Giving birth to this book is like having your first child – that’s the one you learn most from because that’s the one where you make your mistakes. I changed the cover, not because of negative feedback, but because (diplomatic and thoughtful) feedback from readers said the cover didn’t indicate the genre clearly enough. I’d chosen an illustration because it resonated with the theme, but I took on board that this meant little if you hadn’t read the book.  

Derek Murphy’s posts on book cover design (including a tutorial on how to create covers in ms word) pointed me in the right direction, and I went back to scratch creating a mood board of the elements I wanted to convey to readers, et voila! 

I don’t believe people set out to make mistakes, but to err is in our nature. We, as human beings are imperfect, and our efforts will have flaws. While trying to be as professional as possible, things can go wrong. You fix them as best you can, and move on learning the lessons for next time. I do believe in this story, and with many prayers and hopes, am sending my book out once more into the world.

Today’s Haiku
AUTUMN
red throats and forked tails
swallows soar with wide spread wings
lured by southern warmth

Useful Links:
These lovely supportive people write entertaining, informative blogs that are well worth following. Check them out!
annegoodwin.weebly.com/
carolhedges.blogspot.com
http://vashtiqvega.wordpress.com/
cicampbellblog.wordpress.com
jenanita01.com
Here’s the link to Derek Murphy’s guide to book cover design:
http://www.thecreativepenn.com/2013/10/20/book-cover-design-ms-word/
The following two websites are brilliant whether you’re designing your own cover, or just looking to get ideas to give an illustrator.
http://www.thebookdesigner.com/
http://bookcovers.creativindie.com/

I’d love it if you checked out my debut novel, One Summer in Montmartre, or popped over to Wattpad and read any of my posted stories... just click on the links to the right.

Join me on Twitter at: teagankearney@modhaiku   

Thanks for visiting my blog, and please do leave a comment.
To all story lovers out there, good reading, and to those of you who write, good writing.

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Apart from writing, I'm compiling a bucket list of places I'd like to  visit...from Iceland to Hawaii and onwards....
         

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