Thursday, 20 July 2017

DAPHNE revision update

I'm still going with this revision thing. I have next week off work, and the week after my studies begin, so my time is short. There was a point recently when I did a "mega-tweak" on my first chapter, and I thought I was almost there with fixing it. But as I read it on my Kindle, I got really discouraged by the amount of things I now needed to tweak in the wake of the mega-tweak. Thankfully I got past my moping and plowed on.

It's quite an undertaking, fully rewriting a novel. When I first rewrote this one back in 2012, some things stayed the same, like my main character and her family. But a lot changed. A previous "good guy" became a bad guy. A new love interest materialised, and became the male lead. A best friend became condescending, and her boyfriend a jerk. The setting itself also changed from "aimless new adults living life after high school" to first year of university.

After that 2012 rewrite, I left the novel to stew for, ummm, five years? Yeah, that's all. When I returned to it in 2017 I saw that I'd created a hot mess, but thankfully I much preferred this "new" mess to the old one. 2017's revisions / edits are making me love it even more. They say write what you love, and each new tweak of a sentence, paragraph or section is bringing me closer to loving this novel.

I think I've fixed most of the big problems, though there are still timeline blips to be worked out. I'm down to about 122,484 words, meaning I've shed 3,765 words or so. I need to shed a lot more! And no, I haven't removed my "darling" Jane yet. Still not decided on what to do there.

That'll do for now. But I wanted to mention that I'm reading Eleanor & Park after having it on my TBR for quite a while. I'm loving it.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

One new scene = SPANNER


I added one new scene to my novel, and it messed with my entire timeline! I spent a couple of days writing out chapter / scene summaries, and printed the summaries out and scribbled notes all over them, etc. Eventually I worked out how to rearrange sections so the timeline made sense again. I was helped by reading an article about using metadata settings in Scrivener to create a timeline. Using that advice, I assigned dates / date ranges to chapters and shifted said dates where needed. Phew. Crisis sorted.

Another 'oops' moment came when I realised this current edit has not removed words as I hoped, but has added them. So where my first revision word count was approx. 107,902, the current count is 126,249. Yep, I've done it again. I know I have some padding that can be trimmed, and thankfully I think I'm at the point where that can be my focus now.

Speaking of padding... During my last revision of this novel, I mentioned a minor character that was a bit of a "darling" I might have to kill. She started out as a source of humour, but in truth there is a lot more to her that we're not even going to learn about in this novel. So she could even be seen as a bit of a blue herring - ya know, a herring with no purpose. ;) So really there is no point keeping her, at least not for plot purposes. I'm reluctant to let her go, but maybe I can revisit her story in some other way in another setting sometime.

Anyway, that's my update for now. I hope you are all doing well with whatever you're working on.

P.S. My addiction to Louise Rozett's Confessions series has been rekindled, sadly for no tangible reason - e.g. there is no FOURTH BOOK YET! She hopes to write one, but needs a contract. I offered to buy it off her even if nobody else does, I'm that desperate to read the rest of Rose and Jamie's story. ;) Anyway...I shall continue to wait and hope for another instalment, while moping in a very morose fashion as long as I don't get it!

Friday, 7 July 2017

First chapter editing 'marathon'

I've read a lot about authors struggling with their first chapters. First you have to figure out where your novel should start, and that can be the trickiest part to get right. I've often started my novels in the wrong spot with rough drafts. With my current edit of DAPHNE, I think I've got the start point right. The rest of the chapter though is where I'm struggling.

The main thing I'm dealing with is getting the dialogue between my two main characters right. Nathan is a bit of a lovable rogue and he exasperates Daphne when they first meet. That's what I thought I had conveyed in the first chapter, but reading through it after a long hiatus I found I had created more of a harasser than an entertainer! What?! That was definitely not my intention, so I've been honing the chapter ever since I started this latest revision, trying to make Nathan more Nathan-esque. This chapter is probably on version 5 by now (taking a wild guess there), and it's still not right. It's getting there, but s.l.o.w.l.y.

I think what will help is to print the chapter out and do a paper edit. I haven't done one of those in a long time. I really love editing my novels on my Kindle, reading and making notes along the way. It's almost as good as a paper edit for picking up mistakes or sentences that just don't flow right. Even paragraphs that can be chopped in their entirety. But I think being able to use a bright red pen and scribble all over the chapter might help me in this case.

Elsewhere in the novel, I've been making good progress filling gaps in the narrative, and I think I'm mostly done with that. Of course, some gap filling has resulted in a need to do yet more editing of subsequent chapters, as they no longer quite fit. This feels like a neverending process, but I know from experience that eventually I'll reach a point where I've done all I can for the time being. That will be the time to let the novel stew once again. And maybe, not long after, it will be beta-reader recruiting time!

Friday, 30 June 2017

[JUNE UPDATE] Cephalopod Book Club & Goals

The last time I participated properly in this bloghop was September 2016! Yes, I've been very slack since then, or rather I've just found it hard to keep up with everything else in life as well as the few blog hops I am still committed to. I was going to skip this one, since I thought I hadn't read any books this month, but then I realised (after checking GoodReads) that I in fact have. :)

Last time I updated, I was reading Poldark. I got to the end of the main series since then, but haven't read the "next generation" books yet. My mum has read my copies and claims they are just as good, so I will get around to it sometime. For now... I read a memoir this month!

In this memoir, Jessica Bell weaves a compelling story of a painful coming-of-age in an unusual setting. As the daughter of rock'n'rollers in the 80s and early 90s, Bell certainly had an upbringing different to most of us - and yet I could still relate to parts of what she experienced, since I was also a child of the 80s and 90s in Australia, and big time into music.

I loved the way the book progressed with its sections of Jessica talking to her reflection. It was intriguing to see her relationship with her reflection change over the course of the book as well.

Jessica has led a life of adventure seemingly largely because of her constant need to run. But this book seems to represent a time in her life when she has finally stopped running and is facing her reflection at last - and coming to realise that her reflection is her friend, supporter, etc.

As usual, this is a well-written book that compels the reader onward. It's even more special because of the bravery it took the author to put it out there for all to read and judge in whatever way they choose.

This is a snippet from the GoodReads blurb:
"Jessica Bell never meant to be a rebel. But growing up with two gothic rockers as parents seemed to make it inevitable.

In 1980s Australia, Erika Bach and Demetri Vlass founded Ape the Cry and Hard Candy, two of Melbourne’s iconic indie bands. They encouraged Jessica with unreserved love to pick up the guitar and write her own songs. But Erika’s back problem became a nightmare of pill popping, alcohol abuse, and anxiety attacks. Demetri retreated into silence for fear of triggering Erika’s drug-induced psychosis. And Jessica turned inwards, to her own reflection.

But her mirror self was a fiend, not a friend. All it took was one secret drink at fifteen, and Jessica dove headlong into depression and self-destruction to escape the madness at home.

Currently Reading: my own novels...for editing

I had a long period of time when nothing much was happening with my goals. I'm glad to say (as you will have seen if you have looked at any of my recent blog posts - yes, I have recent blog posts!!) that this is no longer the case. Here are some general updates:

  • I've completed my latest edit of SUNDOWN, and am now letting that novel rest.
  • I'm currently reading through my DAPHNE novel, although I had a lot of edit notes that I lost by accidentally deleting the wrong version of the novel from my Kindle. ARGH, basically. But that happened to me once with my SUNDOWN edits too. Hopefully it will happen no longer!
  • I've also had quick read throughs of some of my other novels, like ON THE OUTSIDE and LOST & FOUND. Yep, I've been on an editing / revising binge.
  • I've also kind of edited / written new material for a couple of SUNDOWN-related projects.
I'm not sure which novel I will be focusing on properly next, the way I did with SUNDOWN, but it sure feels good to be compelled to do all this editing. I had a long hiatus when I struggled to get motivation, but I've got it in spades now.

As mentioned in other posts, I am also gearing up for my next lot of study (my last semester is coming up), so I will have to concentrate more on that and less on editing until the year's end. But I feel like I've achieved a lot already this year, and that makes me very happy. Someday soon I hope I will be ready to seek out beta readers for at least one of my novels.

P.S. The area still being neglected is my music. But I fully intend to get to that very soon!

Monday, 26 June 2017

Editing, music, and study

Latest revision update - I think I might be at the point where I can leave SUNDOWN III alone and let it stew for a while. I've continuously been tweaking bits and pieces, but now even though I recognise bits that I want to improve, I'm committed to leaving the poor thing alone and letting it settle after being thoroughly worked over.

I have started to look at fixing some of my novel ON THE OUTSIDE now. That's another book I've read and re-read over and over on my Kindle, and have wanted to edit for ages. I may not do a proper systematic edit for now but I'll fix bits as I stumble across them.

Something else that is emerging from this SUNDOWN III edit is what I'm referring to as SUNDOWN 1.5, which is the Jared POV parts that were in the original SUNDOWN novel being put into a new novel or novella or whatever it's going to turn into. I don't know what will happen with that in the long run, but I still want to get it done.

Some of the artwork for our
forthcoming album.
Despite all the stuff I wish I could focus on right now in terms of editing, I have to focus instead on my upcoming studies and also trying to get my vocal tracks down for the new album (OBLIVION) coming out this year. I'll just have to save up all my editing energy for the end of the year once my studies are done.

On another note, I'm now behind in my annual Goodreads reading challenge, due to all the time I've spent reading my own novels instead of other people's. But I hope to catch up, if not now then at least during my week off work which is happening in late July.

Friday, 9 June 2017

SUNDOWN III revision update

To give a brief update on my revision progress, I'm ready to do one last sweep through to correct any little niggly mistakes, and then I'm going to let the revised novel sit for a while...maybe even until the end of the year since I will be busy during the second half of the year with studies.

I'm pretty happy with the progress I've made, having corrected a lot of annoying problems that have been known to me for years through many re-reads of the novel. But I definitely think I need to have fresh eyes before I go through the novel again, so I'll give it a break once this last sweep is done.

When reading through parts of the second novel in the series, I recognise so much that needs changing. It's another novel that has a lot of bloating, so it needs to be whittled. I'm not sure where it should start, but I'll have to stew on that and see what I come up with. There are also obvious changes that need to be made that are the result of me changing various plot points / settings in the first book. I'll get to that someday, but I have plenty of novels that need editing, so I might work on a novel from a different 'world' next.

In other unrelated news, I finally finished reading Jessica Bell's autobiography Dear Reflection: I Never Meant to be a Rebel. It was a fantastic read and if you didn't know it was non-fiction, you'd think you were reading some compelling novel. I'll do up a proper review to put on GoodReads / Amazon, but for now that's my quick thought on it.

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Compelled into revision mode

The last time I posted a writing update, I was writing something new. Well, my writing ground to a halt when I suddenly got re-obsessed with editing my first SUNDOWN novel. I had been part of the way through a rewrite that was bringing it from present tense into past tense, last time I opened the file.

Since starting up with that again, I'm now almost done with the present-to-past transition. But a complicating factor is that my previous editing had led me to remove all sections of the novel that were from Jared's point of view, leaving me with some gaps to fill from Louise's point of view. I'm now nearly done with that part too, I think. Along the way, I've also done some other editing, like removing sections that were too wordy and / or boring, and unnecessary, and trimming unnecessary words here and there. I have a lot more work to do on that. The first few chapters I think are pretty strong, but after that there is a bit of bloating that needs to be addressed.

On another note, I was looking back through my blog posts here and found this one: Knowing your characters vs. showing them. It's a little scary that that was back in September 2012, and I am still grappling with the problem today. But I'm slowly bringing my characters into line with their actual character. I just have some more work to do on it. It's all part of the joyous editing process. ;)

This current rewrite is titled SUNDOWN III (whereas the one I spoke about in 2012 was SUNDOWN II, my first total rewrite). This current rewrite is less drastic, as the setting and plot aren't really changing. But it's still taking me some time and patience, of course. As much as I'd love to be done with this and ready to think about sending my book out to beta readers (again), I'm also enjoying the process of refining the book into what I hope will be its best shape to date. Maybe because I know that in not too long, I'll have to put it aside because I'll be studying for second semester this year.

I'm getting stuff done while I can! And it feels very good to be inspired about my writing again. I've had a tough few years on that front.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

My review of ALIEN: CONVENANT (** contains mild spoilers **)

** Contains Spoilers **

Alien: Covenant - A Review

Source: IMBb - Alien: Covenant
I went with a friend to see Alien: Covenant last night, and we were surprised to find it was more of a comedy than an actual scary movie. I don't think they intended it to be funny, but we laughed a lot. Unfortunately, I was disappointed in the film - that will always happen for me when there are so many stupid characters who do dumb things and therefore end up dead.

The whole movie plotline wouldn't have even existed if not for one very idiotic decision early on that set the spaceship on an unplanned course. "Oh yeah, let's go check out this mysterious planet that is just PERFECT, but that we somehow never found before when we scanned everywhere for suitable planets." The captain was warned not to divert from the planned course, but he just took it under advisement and went ahead anyway and did a dumb-arse thing.

So, that set the tone for the entire movie - lots of stupid decisions, like "Oh I'm just gonna go do a pee, I won't be long." YEAH RIGHT. YOU WILL BE VERY LONG. YOU WON'T BE COMING BACK FROM THAT PEE.

Basically I was disappointed, particularly thinking about the original movies and how epic they were. And I'm sorry, but this new "bad-ass lady" character can't hold a candle to Ripley.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

When inspiration strikes

Light vector created by Freepik

You know how sometimes you're really busy with all sorts of non-writing-related stuff, and you're getting more and more exhausted and you know you need a holiday? Well, my next holiday's not till late July, and I'm definitely weary, but I have also been struck by the compulsion to write. That's not even including the fact that I'm eager to edit basically every work I've written so far (novels, at least). No, this is about writing something new.

Well, sort of new. I'm compelled to write yet another SUNDOWN-related story. So I've started that. I should be editing what I already have, like I've sworn to do. But this story I'm writing is filling a gap that needed filling - it's the story of Jared and Jenna and their love...and their ultimate grisly demise.

I don't know what it is about this series that always pulls me back, but there sure is something! So I'm writing the story of Jared and Jenna, and it's flowing really well so far. I know how it ends, so that's not a problem. I know a lot of what goes on throughout, but I had to think for a while about what point to start at. I had one false start, before settling on where it should all begin - their actual first meeting.

It may end up being a novella, which is fine with me. Once it's done, that'll be another main gap in this series filled, and I can move onto editing everything and anything.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

My kitty cat

Smog, a cheeky and cherished kitty. 2008 - 2017

I lost my beautiful kitty last week. It's been a pretty horrible week but time waits for no woman, so I've had to "get back on the horse" in terms of going to work each day and getting through the day. Still, it's not really getting any easier. I miss my naughty boy.

Just today when thinking about updating this blog, I was reminded of this below average quality poem I wrote in 2005 after losing my childhood kitty (she got to age 18 though, unlike my boy above who was only 9). I thought I'd share the poem:

Back in your box - 11/8/2005
Baby in a box
You touched her hand so tenderly
You knew not where you went
But you felt safe enough to return her gesture of kindness

A little one
Left alone at such a young age
Your sister gone
Who knows who had the better fortune
You or her
But we all know you had great fortune indeed

My little one
A face I cannot imagine forgetting
But I bet the image will fade in time

I think I need another thousand photos
To remember you by
Before we put you back in your box
And bury you plan is to make a big photo book of my boy's life, to remember him by. I'm not really the type to bring ashes home, and don't have much room to bury pets in my back yard (it's mostly paved). So I will have to hang onto his collar and paw print given by the vet, even though it totally does not look like the Smoggy paws I knew so well. I will have to flip through his photo book once I have that done, and hang onto his memory.