Monthly Archives: December 2013

Nothing’s Changed…Everything Changes

Okay so back to blogging about the writing journey after a couple of random Christmas related posts!…

This time last year I was hurtling towards finishing the first draft of Prophecy of Innocence. I’d been working on it for 14 months, in between life – you know how that tends to get in the way. But as 2012 came to a close I was determined I would complete the entire story by January 1st. And I did. (If January 1st is January 3rd, but what’s two days between friends?)

Yes! I’d finished. So now what?

Well someone would have to proof read it obviously. It was perfect (!!!) except, I was sure, for  typos and errors in punctuation and spelling which I’d not be able to spot myself.

Ha ha ha ha ha! How I laugh (and cry) at my stupidity and naivety. I thought I’d have it published by December 2013.  Oh how glad I am that I’m generally the sort of person who is very hard on herself.

You see 2013 has seen nothing, and yet every thing, happen.

Firstly, the book is not published as I had envisaged. People keep asking when it will be, but they don’t understand how complicated this whole business is. How can they?  I didn’t. Until I began to look at how to publish. And it was only at  that point when I started the revision process.

Despite some minor revisions before I was brave enough to allow another human being to see it, I still cringe when I think of the poor people who had the ‘pleasure’ of reading that first rough draft. My mum, who pointed out  my grammar was all over the place and rewrote whole passages for me! Turns out it wasn’t my grammar which was the actual problem. The story didn’t read well simply because I hadn’t learned to show a story instead of tell it. (This I had learned from extensive research on various blogs.) I  also pity the children from the school I teach in who read it and I should apologise to them as they should  only be subjected to high quality texts, not the drivel which was my first draft!

So what have I been doing in 2013? How have things moved on?

Well I am now only days away from completing the final revision of Book 1. (There will be three books in total for the story, there have probably been ten times that many revisions on Book 1!) I would actually be happy now for a publishing house to read it. I know it is a whole lot better than it was. If I were to compare this final draft with the first, I’m not even sure how many of the original sentences would be exactly as they were!

Of course this year I also started this blog and set up a Facebook page which has been a good way of keeping track of the journey and encouraging me to keep on at it, even when there have been  times I felt  like giving up.

I also joined Twitter this year and this has led me to finding a whole group of other writers whose support, advice and general camaraderie has been inspirational and kept me going on this journey. Some of the wonderful people I am in contact with have been kind enough to read some of what I’ve written and given feedback. Twitter has led me to blogs where I have discovered how to self publish and indeed have learned how to write. This time last year I didn’t know how to write! I had no idea how to edit. This year I have moved on a lot.

Of course amid the revision of book 1, I did find some time to write the first 6 chapters of book 2. I say write, I mean draft because I know now from experience I will revise it numerous times. Writing is like chiseling a piece of granite. Ask anyone who writes anything. It’s hard and there’s always a little part you can chip at a bit more to smooth out and improve. I have also started to set up another blog site which will be aimed  more at promoting the book for children when the time comes. Also this year I delved into the world of formatting for self publishing and bought a package. This will be more difficult I feel than the actual writing or rewriting.

As regular visitors to the blog may know, I’ve also entered the first chapter into a writing competition for the opening 2000 words of a  children’s novel. The closing date for this is December 31st. I don’t know if I will receive feedback on my entry – I hope to, even if I should not win.

Finally a few weeks ago I was approached by a small publisher interested in my work. For the moment I have turned down sending in a query letter, for the reasons I gave on one of my previous posts on self publishing. However it was exciting and flattering to be asked, the editor only having read a page on my blog. Who knows I might still pursue the traditional route, but if I do I would like to have Book 2 at least drafted in full.

So what’s the plan of action as 2014 dawns?

1) First I’ll see what happens as a result of the competition. Winning would mean I could afford to get a professional edit done on Book 1 which is what I really would like.

2) I would then like to ask some beta readers to read the final draft and then I’ll edit to meet any given suggestions.

3) Have the final edit professionally  proofread. Again this will cost so being dependent on funds may increase time frame.

4) Format the finished document for publication. (aaaaaaarrrrrghh!)

5) Have my brother complete the cover art for the book. (Employ use of whip for this stage!)

6) Promote through local schools to begin with as well as through this blog, Twitter and the children’s blog I have started on.

7) Publish and continue promoting. (The thing I know least about.)

As we all know though, plans are just that and only offer a general guide. Things change and evolve, much like the book itself. However I really do hope 2014 is the year I finally get this out there. It will be 3 years in the making and I’m guessing letting go of it may be the hardest thing I’ve had to do yet on the project.

Wishing you all the very best for whatever your dreams and goals are for the coming year.

Thanks for reading, and remember you can always ‘Sneak a Peek’ and leave any comments you may have on the start of chapter 1 here right on this site.  I welcome any suggestions for improvement at all times. 🙂

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Filed under Editing, Proofreading, Publishing, Writing

The Summer of the Soul in December

Since  the end of last year, I have regularly written poems, or as I so often like to call them “odes”, to mark important dates in the calendar. I’ve posted them on my private Facebook page and have mainly done it to entertain my friends and family or quite often just because I  think up rhymes in my head and end up writing them down. Sometimes the odes/poems are ironic or funny, sometimes poignant, or dark, quite often cheesy but mostly sarcastic and observational.

I started last November 5th by writing one after watching a firework show on Guy Fawkes night. I wrote it in my head in the car home. This then extended to Winter, Christmas, Valentine’s day, Halloween, even an ode to Facebook itself. You get the idea.

Now my poems always have a rhyme structure. Usually this is of 1,1,2,2 rhyming structure or more commonly 1,2,3,2. Sometimes rhyming poetry can be deemed a little naive but I like rhyme so I continue to write it. It may not be seen as a sophisticated style of poetry, but it’s the first type young children come across through nursery rhymes and as that seems to be a dying art, I believe its revival should be nothing to sniff our noses at.

Anyway, this morning whilst I was getting ready for work a new poem popped into my head. This is generally how it happens. I don’t think about it or if I do I might just be thinking about a certain theme. Today I was, not surprisingly as it’s December 16th, thinking about Christmas and how it seems we are all a little more generous of heart and forgiving at this time of year. How, despite the constant cold and hours upon hours of darkness, we do seem to be able to be just that little bit more tolerant and that little bit more caring.

This thought then got me to thinking about a song from The Muppet Christmas Carol (my favourite as it happens.) It’s the one  called “It Feels Like Christmas” sung by The Ghost of Christmas Present. The main chorus line says: “Whenever you find love it feels like Christmas.” In some ways this makes me feel a little sad as Christmas shouldn’t be the only time we feel this swelling of love. Though for some inexplicable reason I know I do. Another line I love is the title for my post today: “It [Christmas] is the summer of the soul in December.” It really is. So why don’t we extend this summer beyond a few weeks in December? Thinking all this meant that in the space of about 10 minutes this morning I had drafted this poem in one go onto the notes section of my phone by around 7:50am I then added an extra 4 lines around lunch time.

So… as it’s Monday Blogs day and as it’s coming up to Christmas I thought I’d share this one on here before I share with my friends and family on Facebook. It is a Christmas wish to them essentially, kind of like an extended Christmas card so if it seems a little personal, well it is.

I hope you enjoy: Here it is:

A Christmas Promise

It’s Christmas again 

For one and all

A time for cheer

To have a ball

But above all else

This festive season,

Remember this truth

Love is its reason.

Give gifts with full heart

And never have fear

To show friends and family

Or those you hold dear

How much they mean to you

For when all’s said and done

We hope they’ll be there

When the presents are gone.

So Happy Christmas to all

The people I know

I may not often say it

Or take time to show

How much you all mean

All the year through

Perhaps next year I’ll try harder

In all that I do.

To not take you for granted

For maybe next year

Those with me right now

Won’t be so near.

They may move away

In spirit or mind

In geographical location

Or themselves to find.

So don’t be complacent

Think back to the start

How things are always different

In December’s heart

Can we carry the love

All the year long?

I think we should try

For to not would be wrong.

Merry Christmas to you all

Each and every one

I hope this coming year 

Is both peaceful and fun.

I hope it’s filled with love

Not just in taking, but giving

For love is the one thing

That makes life worth living.

Thanks for reading. Merry Christmas.

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Filed under First post, Writing

Just an average Jo

I have always been what one would term an average person.

I am of average height, of average dress size, I have nondescript, average, dull brown hair, and even my eyes are somewhere in-between green and brown, unable to decide which side of average they’d like to be. I wear average looking clothes  and live in an average home, right slap-bang in the middle of England, own an average car, have an average job and…well, you get the picture. In fact the only thing not average about me is the fact I’m 38 without ever having being married or having 2.4 children.

I guess I have lived a very average life. Nothing dreadful (thankfully) has ever happened to me but then neither has anything truly remarkable. Because as I say I am pretty average. Your very average Jo if you like.

Now there is nothing wrong with this. In fact I quite like being average. There are no unrealistic expectations put on me. I don’t draw attention to myself in the street (how horrific if I did) and so I am able to just blend in with the surroundings unnoticed.

Yet I don’t really want to be average. Otherwise why else would I be writing a novel?  Or this blog and telling complete strangers all about the fact I am average? The truth is I don’t want to just be another person in the crowded world, all but forgotten when I slip from this mortal coil -remembered only by the handful of people who loved me.  No. I want to leave something to this world that showed I was here. something which shows my life meant something. Sure, I wanted to tell a story I had in me but if I dig deep and be honest enough, writing a book is also about me proving there’s more to me than the average Jo  on the street. I don’t want to be famous. I’d be a rubbish famous person.  I’d not trash hotel rooms or create storming headlines coming home drunk at 3am. I wouldn’t want to meet my public. No, fame is not what I want in the modern day celebrity sense of the word. I would just like to leave behind something which might mean something to somebody. Anybody. One day.

I spent all of my time at school achieving average grades. I had to work hard to get my exam results. I spent my time at university being average and came out with the average grade rather than the first class degree so many others did. Again I had to work very hard to get that. It didn’t come naturally. I can sing, but only as well as an average person can. I can draw and paint, but only as well as an average person can. I am a Jack of all trades and a master of none. I consider myself now to be a pretty average teacher, despite having been at it for 15 years. I’m never going to be one of those who trail blaze innovative educational initiatives. Never. Now I’m also an average foster parent. I’m not a saint, as many assume, who  plays the part with a never ending dollop of patience and a Mary Poppins style spoonful of sugar, as I wish I could ,or perhaps should.

So it will follow I will, no doubt, only ever be an average writer. And that’s if I’m lucky. But it is this one thing I am determined not to be average at. Not if I can help it. I will keep striving to be better. Always.

On the back of last week’s blog post I had some amazing feedback on my WIP. This has not however made me complacent or big -headed. I still believe what I am writing is only average because I have read so much above average stuff.

It will be a long time before I reach the dizzy heights of  above average, if indeed I ever do. One thing is for certain though I won’t be giving up. I am not average at trying. That I do excel in.

Thanks as always for reading my ramblings on writing. 🙂

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Filed under First post, Writing

Feedback

A quick Monday blog.

Yesterday I received some more positive feedback about the changes I made to the opening of my WIP.

From my Dad.

I guess everyone likes to impress their parents and I’m no different, so I was pleased he liked the changes.

He said some really nice stuff about the new opening and told me all that time I had spent working in an umbrella factory came in useful after all. (A whole other story and lifetime a go…)

mushroom

Strangely, the inclusion of my main protagonist being a design engineer and boss of a factory which makes umbrellas out of toadstools, was a completely subconscious thing. I could pretend my days working there provided my muse but, in reality, I think it was simply there in my subconscious and like so many things in our subconscious they find their outlet in the strangest of places.

The other thing you can rely on parents for is to spot  typos and spelling errors and not be afraid to point them out! ( (I personally blame the U.S dictionary settings on my laptop…)

In all seriousness, I appreciate any feedback, however big or small the issue on my WIP, so don’t be scared to sneak a peek and let me know what you think.

Thanks as always for reading. 🙂

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Filed under First post