Thursday 31 March 2011

Revisions, Revisions, Revisions

After coming down from my Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award high, I got back to work. At the moment I'm giving urban fantasy a break, and am concentrating on writing the first draft of my new novel If Life Gives You Lemons and revising Storms in Teacups for submission.

Why is revising so hard? When I was a kid and dreamed of being a writer, I thought you wrote the story from beginning to end, and that was it. Done. How I wish it were so.

The hard part for me about revision is that it means rereading my own work. And sometimes that's okay. I find blocks of text that are much better than I thought, dialogue I laugh out loud at, (it's sad to admit you find your own books amusing, isn't it?) and that part is quite good for oul' ego. However, there are still bits that require yet more work, and that I think are awful. And that is, quite frankly, disheartening.

What's especially difficult about this revision, is that it's for the Final Draft (cue scary music). In my previous edits, if something wasn't flowing I didn't stress about it too much. I reckoned that I could sort it out in another edit. But as this is my final one, I have to iron out every little snag so I can send it out into the world.

To this end I took out a roll of Christmas paper, unrolled it on the living room floor, and started to write out the main plot points and characters in a selection of brightly coloured Sharpie felt tip pens. Not very dignified, but the best I can do until I can afford to buy a white board. I feel a lot better now, I've clarified some of the most important elements of the story in my head which was good.

How do all you other writers out there cope with the editing process?

Saturday 26 March 2011

Today I feel like a real writer...

...because an excerpt of my novel Ravensborough is available for download in the Amazon Kindle Store! Ok, it's free, for a limited time, and only part of my book- but it's the nearest I've ever gotten to having my book in a bookstore!

Thursday 24 March 2011


Being a writer is hard. No matter how much you love it, the actual writing process is draining. You spend hours every day creating worlds and situations from your head. You do this on top of all your other commitments, pushing back other diversions such as relaxing, having a better social life etc. Then when you finish writing your book, you immediately turn round and start to edit it. Maybe once, but probably several times. Then, you have to let it out into the world.

Whether it's beta readers, feedback from contests like ABNA, or just the rejection slips from agents and publishers: it's hard. You love your project, your book is invested with hopes, dreams and hours of your life. And you put it out there nine ninety nine times out of a hundred to get rejected.

With so much in life, in order to get something fantastic you have to open yourself up to get hurt. And it's hard to get used to, but I suppose we just have to try.

Wednesday 23 March 2011

I Got Through To The ABNA Quarter-Finals!

I just found out last night that I've made it through to the quarter-final stage of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award!

Ravensborough is my young adult novel, and the first book that I completed. It's very special to me. My husband (who is a journalist and editor) had read through it and liked it, but I still wasn't sure that it was good enough to submit to agents and publishers. So ABNA seemed like a good way to get some constructive feedback.

They took 5,000 entries in the YA category, and in the first round they narrowed the field to 1,000 entries. I was chuffed to get through to the second round. When I found out that I made it through the second round, where they allowed only 250 of the 1,000 to go through, I was completely overwhelmed.

The best thing was the reviews I got. Two Vine reviewers read over my work, and gave me comments. Their comments were super-nice, and they seemed to really enjoy my story. To get praise from people who aren't worried about the repercussions of hurting my feelings is fantastic.

 The big thing now is that Publishers Weekly is going to look at my manuscript! I can't believe it. I'm really nervous about it, but I've got a month to psyche myself up for it I suppose. :)