Tag Archive: NaNoWriMo


Hi all: 

Once again the weekend beckons, and this week is the last of #NaNoWriMo.This year, I am chuffed to say, I have written my 50k words already, rah! Trying to keep the momentum up till the end of the month but I am getting pretty tired. 

 Fox in the Snare is now at about 50k words and it’s about to all get busy in the Valley again, though I am sad as one of my characters who was supposed to have a happy ending has messed up and now is having a premature one instead. Sadly, it makes a lot more sense to the general narrative arc this way, but there is a certain amount of snivelling into the keyboard happening in his scenes. Damned awkward characters! I liked this one too. But sometimes there is an inexorable pull in a certain direction and if you resist it, it shows, and jolts the reader out of the moment. Besides, usually when there is that tidal movement going on, it’s a kind of balanced evolution towards a goal which will ultimately work better than anything I had in mind. Which is all quite irritating (don’t look at me, I just hold the pen!) (all right, tap the keyboard!). 

So come the end of November I will drop tools on Fox and get on with the Christmas shorts which are in the works. The first is The Locket, which is a short story from the world of On Dark Shores, but set some twenty years before that story, when Nereia was a child living in luxury with her parents. The second is The Holly & the Ivy, which is a standalone sequel to A Sprig of Holly. Hoping to have Wesley Souza do another of his beautiful covers for that one! 

And in the meantime, Christmas Lites 6 is due out any minute, and there will be a cover reveal for that due with the breakdown of how the picture was made again (because I love that bit of the process best). Wesley has done another fabulous job on there, so I can’t wait to show it to you!

So, busy busy, eh?

In the meantime Flight from Shantar is currently pinned under the scalpel of editor #1, fellow novelist and talented playwright Julia Lee Dean. I asked her to tell us a little bit about what she’s up to at the minute (though not too much about all the bacon sarnies she’s had to cut out of the book… again…!)

=*=*=*= 


Julia Lee Dean

writer – editor – teacher

A quick glance at the kitchen clock tells me it is nearly 12:40pm, German time. I am at home, in Bad Godesberg, a suburb of Bonn and, so far it’s been a good day. I was awake at 6am this morning which was useful because it means I did my 15 pages of editing for J.A Clement before I launched into my main task of the day; 20 university exam papers to mark. You see, I am not only a novelist and editor, since my move to Germany in 2014 I have been working as an English teacher in and around Bonn. The trick with exam marking is rather similar to that of proof-editing; don’t try and do it all at once. A little bit at a time guarantees a closer attention to detail and avoids tunnel-vision. I must admit, exam marking isn’t my favourite thing but it does allow me to work from home which means I can sit, as I am now, with curlers in my hair and look forward to a meal that I have not been carrying in my bag since before dawn.

However, while the exams I mark are only mildly annotated, the novel I am editing is bristling with comments; observations about descriptions and characters designed to give the author something to think about with a view to development or amendment rather than direct instructions (I can only suggest, I cannot be not the authority on someone else’s novel). Occasionally I edit the text itself; typos of course and grammar when I think another tense works better. Since setting up shop as an English-language teacher, I seem to have become rather more sensitive to grammar. Again, it’s all using the “this is my opinion, feel free to ignore” approach that J. A. Clement and I agreed when we were at university, editing each other’s poems. Online editing (tracked changes) makes that so much easier! As I write that, I am rather aware that when I had my novel edited, I chose hardcopy and really loved it. I prefer to work from hardcopy but I must admit that online is much more environmentally friendly.

I have just taken up my current novel after rather a long break. Well, not a break exactly, more a prolonged period of not-getting-very-much done. Over the last two years, I have worked very hard to establish myself as an English teacher and make enough money to be able to pay rent without sacrificing my social life. So far so good. However, my own novel writing has suffered quite a bit. It’s just taken off again over the last few weeks – I do find NaNoWriMo a helpful motivator – but it’s still caught in between the need for gainful employment and the rather demanding (three times a week with homework each time!) German course I finally managed to squeeze into my schedule in August this year. Still, I must admit I do consider myself pretty lucky. Nowadays I enter an office only to teach English and, considering how much I used to hate being in an office, this is an incredible boon.

I am, however, very excited about my new novel. It is the sequel to my first novel, And I Shall Be Healed. That book followed the experiences of a young Army Chaplain on the Western Front during the First World War. The sequel, Lost & Won picks up the story five years later and takes Leo and his wife through the 1920s and 1930s, an era of incredible – and sometimes harrowing – change. Up until a few weeks ago, my writing was sporadic to say the least. However, joining NaNoWriMo gave me the impetus to finally type up the novel so far (I write longhand in the first instance) and, since then, the new material has been flowing fairly steadily from my pen. I must admit I do find the research task ahead a little daunting but right now I’m just enjoying feeling my way around my characters. Some already familiar but growing older and adapting to experience, and others quite new. I do not consider myself to suffer from writers’ block. When the words won’t come I go and do something else, grateful for what I know will be a temporary release. So far this year I have taken three exams in music theory, set up The Bonn Writers’ Club to give myself and others pure, unadulterated time to write (we meet in a café once – two times a month and just work on whatever we’re working on) and I even managed to acquire a certificate in Foundation Journalism from the NCTJ so, hopefully, I will be able to ease off some of the teaching in favour of more editing and writing work.

If the writing goes on at the current rate, I shall have a good bit done by Christmas. For those who are looking for an editor, I am taking bookings from January 2017. An average novel (c 86k words) should take a month at most. Articles and academic stuff is usually a lot quicker. If you’re interested and want more information, have a look at my website. On the “Novelist” you’ll be able to have a look at the reviews my novel attracted and, if there’s anything else you want to know, just contact me through the site or at julialeedean@gmail.com

For now, keep writing. If the writing’s not happening, read something!

Julia 

=*=*=*= 
Thanks for that, Julia.

Having read her first book I Shall Be Healed, I gave copies to my Mum, Dad and mother-in-law, all of whom loved it (and in my Dad’s case you have to bear in mind that he didn’t read much). It is a quietly melancholic book, very understated and consequently very effective – if you like the slow development of characters, I can heartily recommend it.

She has edited all of my stories (I think all?) and I can tell you she’s pretty easy to work with. If you’re after a thoughtful and perceptive editor who suggests rather than demands, look no further! Moreover, she has a great grasp of characters and plot holes – certainly she’s saved me from a couple of howlers (and we’re even still on speaking terms…) Heheheheh.

So that’s it for me this week, peeps. Hoping to bring you a cover reveal next week, so watch this space. If you’re still working on Wrimo, keep at it! You’re on the home stretch now. If you need harassment of an encouraging nature, add me and I will cheer you on from the sidelines… 

In the meantime, don’t forget there’s still time to get your freebie copies of The Last Dragon and The Scarred Artisan from Instafreebie – and watch this space as there may be an amusing Christmas short going up there too, under the name of Trial by Christmas Pudding, no less. A comic historical cowboy romance? Don’t mind if I do….

Have a good weekend, all, and catch you on the upside.

Take care:

JAC

 

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Graphics for the numpty (ie me)

Wow. This week’s been vitriolic, hasn’t it? Not going to comment here but it’s been enough to drive me (& others) offline for large chunks of the week. Everyone in the States, take care of yourselves and those around you. Turbulent times. I’m not going add to the firestorm, so am just continuing to post my usual nonsense on social media for those who need somewhere to escape to.

To be honest, I’ve been really grateful for the escape myself, and while the world is going slowly mad outside, I’ve retreated  to the castle at Lombria. The plot is developing nicely, and I get quite frustrated at having to stop writing at the end of my lunch hour. Just hit 30k words of book 3,so that’s coming on nicely (and as I’m using NaNoWriMo to keep myself motivated, it’s quite pleasing to be ahead of schedule). Just as well though – I’ve done nothing at all on it the past couple of days, today as I’ve been writing blogs and deleting them and writing them and deleting them. Yesterday I wasn’t blogging thought. Yesterday I was playing with my new find, courtesy of David Gaughran’s blog – namely, Canva.

What is Canva? Canva is a graphics website. It’s very easy to use and has accompanying apps for iphone and ipad though the functionality is reduced on each. Anyhow, having looked into the licensing, it turns out you can use it for ebook covers – it’s very cheap depending on how many different elements you use (fonts, background, photos etc) – either $1 per element for under 2000 copies, or $10 per element for more.

I’m not particularly clever with design programs as a general rule, but this one is easy to use, and easy to make quite nice-looking graphics with. I’m still just learning but already I’ve sorted out covers that I’ll probably use for the next two short stories I’m releasing – both Christmas stories, one funny, one a prequel to On Dark Shores.

You can find it at www.canva.com, and if you need graphics of any kind, it’s worth having a look there.

Anyhow. That’s it for me for tonight, not least as I have 1700 words to write before I go to bed…

Take care, people, and be kind.

All the best:

JAC.

NaNoWriMo encore….

Right now I am sitting on the floor next to a table under which my dog is hiding from the fireworks, poor lad. He will settle and go to sleep if I’m here but if not he gets really anxious and goes on patrol. In fact, he far prefers it if OH and I are in the same room (collie herding instincts kicking in, we think) but he’ll settle for me sitting on the floor next to him, and I don’t mind, as he’s a love. I am, however, going to have to keep this short, as otherwise my legs will go to sleep and I’ll fall over when i do have to get up. Besides which, jerk chicken for tea (ALL THE NOMS!).

Anyhow. This year, as usual, I am hoping to take part in NaNoWriMo. My page, if you’re doing it, is here.The past three years being what they are, it didn’t go specially well, but so far this year I did manage to get far enough ahead to spend a weekend dog-wrangling without falling too far behind.

Every year there is a great discussion over whether it’s worth doing Wrimo or not, and I think it’s very much dependent on how you work. Last three years I’ve been too burnt out to relish the challenge, but mostly it appeals to my geekly side – I want to see that barchart advancing in a steady manner, dammit! And as always, even though what you get down is not going to be top quality, what first draft ever is? For me, it’s a good way to have a specific goal, and get down a chunk of words that I otherwise would not have done.

The other side of it, of course, is that everyone in my family knows that in November you’ll get no sense out of me at all because I’m doing Wrimo, so I can get away with prioritising my writing then in a way that doesn’t happen the rest of the year, because it’s a specific, measured challenge in a specific, limited amount of time. So though I try to set aside a chunk of time every day for writing that I can, the only time other considerations don’t really present themselves to impinge on that is during Wrimo. Very useful.

The novel I’m NaNoing is the third in the new series and as you see, it’s currently about 15k words. Stuff is getting sticky for the heroine, and back at the ranch (so to speak) it’s all going to kick off for the hero too, so exciting times…!

Meanwhile back IRL, I am working through edits on the sequel to Sprig of Holly, which will be called The Holly and the Ivy. I hope to have a cover done for it by Wesley Souza, the incredibly talented guy who did the cover for Sprig, which I totally love! So watch out for that, hopefully before Christmas (fingers crossed the edits are not too involved!)

And in the meantime, we are working on this year’s Christmas Lites — the anthology a pile of us do every year to raise funds for victims of domestic violence. All monies go straight into the coffers of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and if possible I might try to get some of the other authors to come and guest in the run up to that. So, y’know, busy busy.

But for now, enough! the fireworks have quietened, the dog has relaxed, I have severe pins and needles in my legs, and it’s time to put the oven on for my current favourite food ever. Then tea, a last circuit with the Luxury Lurcher, and an early night with the laptop to try and do a bit of catch-up on the NaNo count!

It’s all good…

Have an excellent week, peeps, and will catch you the other side…

JAC.