Thursday, 27 March 2014

(You know you're a writer when...) it's date night... with Scrivener!

Yep, that's right; happy days!

It's time for a date night of the writing kind; just me and Scrivener*.

Task of the evening? Flesh out the plot for books 2 and 3 of the Caledan series.

I thought I'd take the time to work some more on this whilst book 1, The Tainted Crown, is with my very kind proof readers and critique buddies for feedback.

I already have some bare bones laid down but definitely need to add to them before I'm anywhere near ready to start writing book 2!

I'm currently plotting both books together so that I can pick the most appropriate point to split the two books later and also make sure to tie up all loose ends. Ideally I would have plotted out the whole series first; but when I started book 1 I didn't have a clue what I was doing!

You live, you learn, eh? So this is the next best point to pin down all the fine details for the rest of the series/ I am hoping to write book 2 this summer so it needs doing!

I can't wait. Just me and the keyboard, a cup of tea and the cat sat next to me (or at the other side of the house ignoring me; either's good!), with the internet turned off (required for any hope of success!).

If you're writing tonight... enjoy!

Ciao for now,


*If you haven't heard of Scrivener before, I highly recommend you check it out! It's an amazing program built by writers for writers.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Perils of writing in the digital age: back everything up, everywhere!

Writing digitally is great!

For the purpose of writing, I couldn't go back to the days of hand cramp and blotting paper. (Yes, I used to write in fountain pen and have blotting paper; a quaint and terribly ink-stained situation.)

Yet there's perils lurking here too.

Guess who typed out all smart and neat the plot for books 2 and 3 of Caledan a few months ago? Yes, me!

....Guess who now can't find the files anywhere. Yep. Me.

I could have sworn they'd be on my usual hard drive, or the myriad of USBs I keep for backups and working files, or even on the cloud (that darn awesome thing), given that I always back up stuff to at least two places. Apparently not! 

Guess who wants to kick herself really hard right about now, because she knows better than to not back up files or to delete them like a complete idiot. Yep, me. What. An. Idiot.

*     *     *

Guess what I just found in the deleted files on my cloud? ... Yep, the file I was looking for. What on earth possessed me to delete it? Heaven knows. Am I glad I found it? You have no idea!

So unlike an essay a few months back (deleted by mistake and as it turns out, unrecoverable... oh the pain!), this tale has a happy ending.

The moral of the story?

Back stuff up EVERYWHERE!

And then some other places!

Chances are you'll get immensely annoyed about tripping over the same files over and over again, but goodness it's worth it just not to lose anything.


Off to make a celebratory cup of tea...

Ciao for now,


Thursday, 20 March 2014

The Tainted Crown Edit 3: Complete!

The Tainted Crown
Edit 3:
95 chapters, 107,811 words

Edit 3 is complete! I performed this edit on my kindle using the annotation feature to add notes as I read.

Then, I manually went through every annotation on kindle (313 in all) and simultaneously corrected the draft on Scrivener.

I am confident there are no spelling mistakes at the very least! (Famous last words!?)

Now it's off to my very very kind proof readers/critique buddies with the completed manuscript.

...I hope they like it!

(*About 309 printed pages in book format)

Friday, 14 March 2014

How to be a productive writer in 3 simple steps

Until I read a blog post by a certain Rachel Aaron, my writing was a vague hope of eventually getting a novel together. I was struggling to keep up pace and motivation. And then, I saw this amazing blog post.

It changed my life!

Long story short, it's about how to be more productive and better in your writing and enjoy it (rather than feeling like you're flogging a dead horse...).

It's the story of how Rachel Aaron went from writing 2k a day (which was me on a very good day) to 10k a day. (Yes, you read that correctly. No I did not mistype that!)

It changed my entire approach. In 2011, I wrote about 40,000 words for The Tainted Crown.  Most of those were after September 2011 when Christopher Paolini had inspired me and after I had seen Rachel's blog post. By summer 2012 I'd finished draft one on 101,269 words.

It helped me decide where I was going, fine tune the details, and charge out of the starting gate with all the information and motivation I needed to reach the finish line. The nice side effect was the increased word count that Rachel also saw in her own work.

I was able to make much faster and better progress (because writing is about quality not quantity) by following Rachel's advice;
  • planning my writing (the fewer gaps/more you know, the better your flow)
  • being enthusiastic about writing (boring scenes must die! Great scenes are a joy to write and arguably write themselves!)
  • using my time well (pick your most effective time of day - for me, the evening)
I quite literally have had this written/drawn on a post-it note stuck to my desk for the past 2 years+ to keep me on the straight and narrow.

Recommended reading:
I would highly recommend you read the blog post above, but also look at Rachel Aaron's e-book "2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love" which covers this in much more depth. It's a text I refer back to regularly to keep on track!

Check out Rachel's website and blog if you get a chance - I hope they provide you with the same inspiration they gave me!

Ciao for now,


Friday, 7 March 2014

The Tainted Crown Edit 2: Complete!

The Tainted Crown 
Edit 2:
95 chapters. 108,213 words*.

Edit two of The Tainted Crown is complete! I focused mainly on speech punctuation checking and paragraphing length in this edit.

I have one more edit to go (which will focus on proof reading and anything else I spot).
Then, a final read through on my Kindle - so I can read the story as a reader not a writer almost - and any tweaks needed as a result of that, before I release the manuscript for editing/proofing/critiquing/etc by my very kind writer buddies.
Nearly there (ish)! Or at least, closer than before! :-)  I'm so excited about this - can't wait to pass it on to others and can't wait to get this baby published this summer! :-)
Ciao for now!


*That's about 300 pages in book format.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

The simplest writer's epiphany: writers write!

This sounds like the most obvious statement in the world, but it’s one of the most important things I’ve learned about writing. If I had a writing bible, this would be in it right at the front!

If you unpick it, it’s harder than it seems. A mental block is a very easy companion when you’re faced with a blank page, for instance. Or with the self-doubt and fears that your character/ idea/ book/ etc will be terrible and/or ridiculed. The human brain annoyingly contains the perfect tools for maximum self-destruction.

But if the niggle keeps returning; the thought “I want to write”, or that great idea you just can’t stop thinking about pops up again... then listen to it and write! 

Put words on paper!

Put anything down – you can always redraft and refine if you haven’t said quite what you mean on the first attempt – who’s judging you? No one.

Thanks to Christopher Paolini (author of the Inheritance Cycle), I found my inspiration on 29th September 2011. That was the night my life changed. He stood and spoke at a book signing about precisely this. That night I decided to actually write this story that had lived in my head for years.

This is the lesson that stayed with me from this experience.

You can’t be a writer unless you WRITE!

It’s easy to be discouraged. Yes, your characters/ideas/story never will be anything... unless you actually write them. 

You might just have something amazing to share with the world.

You might not want to publish or share it. Or, you might want to be the next #1 on the bestseller lists. The simple act of writing in itself is so cathartic, therapeutic and fulfilling, before you consider any of that.

I don’t claim to be as inspiring as Christopher Paolini, but I hope this motivates you as it did me. Now I'm editing my first novel ready for self publishing this summer, with two sequels sketched out. If I can do it, you can too.

Ciao for now!


Saturday, 1 March 2014

Following Your Dreams: How To!

I thought a good first post for an aspiring writer’s blog would be to look back to what I see as the beginning of the journey.

This is the most important lesson I’ve learnt about achieving my dreams.

Creativity has always been an integral part of me. I’d love to be able to say that being creative was my life; writing and drawing all day long sounds brilliant. Yet, I’d never taken it seriously, because everyone knows that all artists are starving and all writers are broke and that’s no way to earn a living or be respectable!*

(*Factually untrue, of course. You’ve all heard of the big guns JK Rowling and JRR Tolkien, but there are plenty of others making a name for themselves in the creative world – JF Penn, Rachel Aaron to name a couple of my inspirations.)

I found myself at the end of secondary school with lots of Necessary Qualifications desired by Society and not a clue what to do with them to become a functioning adult.

I’ve ended up in various roles/careers/positions since, but the most valuable thing I have learnt in my zigzagging endeavours was this:

You can be whatever you want to be – it just takes time.

I’m not living my dream. Yes, it’s a long way off. However, if I work every day, doing whatever I can to make being a writer a reality, that’s as good as it gets. I am fulfilling my potential. If standing at work to pay the bills means I have the tools to write with in my free time, then that’s enabling my dreams! If I can enjoy life in the meantime too, then even better!

If you don’t try, you will never achieve your dreams. If you try... well, you just might!

I hope that this will help you too. So don’t feel disheartened if you think to yourself, “I’m not achieving my goals NOW,” because no one ever achieved their dreams overnight. It requires lots of time and effort.

Take small steps to meet your goals, keep your eyes on the prize and enjoy the ride as much as possible; it’s working for me, and I hope it works for you too.

Putting down the pen for now,