Category Archives: Writing Progress

Writing Targets

I have just read a post by Steven James about writing targets and why many writers have them. You can read it here :

We all know about the words-per-day target, or the hours-per-day target but he questions whether either of these really work in actual writing life – other than for those who are required to submit a certain amount of copy each week to their editor, or they get fired. We are talking about novelists rather than journalists, here.

All writers have their own method of staying on task; for many it has to be some sort of routine whether it is quantity or schedule. Steinbeck believed in writing one page a day, ignoring your audience and only writing to one person instead. Others insist on getting up at O’dark thirty to complete their word count before the day begins, while there are those who operate at the other end of the spectrum and write as bats and owls go about their business. Joyce Carol Oates – a prolific writer of over 80 novels alone – insists she spends much of every day staring out of her window. Each to his or her own writing clock.

James concludes with the notion – derived from calculations that will produce a 90,000 word book per year – of writing 300 words/day for 300 days/year. I haven’t checked his math, but I’ll take his word for it and understand he is being ironic. For how frustrating would that be? To get to your word limit, and ‘limit’ is the word here – 300 words is nothing – and still have another page or three to go before your ideas are all down? I understand his point, though, which is to show us that writing does not have to be this all-day slog on the days when nothing is coming. That we do not have to sit for a certain number of hours or words, as some authors insist upon, and feel guilty when all we can do is look at a blank screen or spend several hours revising. (Or writing blogs about not writing!)

I have tried forcing myself to write – both by word count or time: it didn’t work. I ended up hating the story, and writing in general. And without fail, all of the forced writing didn’t fit into the end product, exactly because it was forced.

I do not write every day. I do think every day, though; my story and characters are floating around in my head as I go about my business. I wait until one of them says or does something, and then I need to get it down immediately.

Do not get in my way.

Once I have that idea down, I can be writing for hours and then re-reading and tweaking for days until the next fallow period of thinking sets in. Somehow,  I have managed to produce several  novels this way.

So, that’s how I work. My characters have been quite chatty recently and so there has been a lot of writing going on and I like where they are taking me. I will write as far as I can and then set myself some questions to ponder for the next stage, and the next, and eventually, there will be another novel come out of it.



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Errors and editing

mistakesThank you Neil Gaiman!

I have been silent recently; silent both in blogging, and writing, and around the house. I have been preoccupied. And horror-struck. And mortified at something I read.

Mistakes; typos; grammatical inconsistencies – all horrors for an English teacher to witness. How can something go through many, many readings, editings, online grammar-checkers, and still have so many errors? It should not be possible, one would think; or perhaps you are ahead of me and are already nodding your head muttering ‘self-published authors’.

Mea culpa. The shock, horror and mortification does stem from a self-published novel: mine. My first, published in 2013, which I had no notion of anyone other than me seeing. Once I realized that people were reading it, I hurriedly raced through it again and caught what I thought were the only remaining errors, and re-published it with a sigh of relief, my pride intact. Hooray for online publishing! For believe me, I had produced the best novel I could at that time; I had read it myself at least ten times, and had farmed it out to several others for comments and suggestions. I had done what I could afford to do with a novel that no one was going to read.

Imagine my horror, then, when casually flipping pages, admiring my debut work, my eye lit upon ‘positioned himself bedside his wife’. ‘Bedside?’ Continue reading

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Filed under editing, General Thoughts, Learning through literature, Life lessons, Reflections, Writing Progress, writing style

Book Reviews

A Book of Common Prayer by Joan Didion My rating: 4 of 5 stars I haven’t read a novel by Didion, only her essays, and wasn’t sure what to expect. However, her writing style – disj…

Source: Book Reviews

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Fascinated with Time Travel

lit-final-cover-incl-male-and-promo-ch-title-page-001 Continue reading

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Work in Progress – update

mist LIT pictureonly-page-001 (4)

Many thanks and kudos to the following contributors to                             background image –  Kundan Ramisetti at Unsplash; modern lady –                 The Regency lady – Ackermanns Depository.

Hi everyone,

Just so you don’t think I’ve fallen off the writing wagon – the new novel is finished but taking just as long to proof and edit. (Also been having lots of fun with designing covers 🙂 ) Very distracting.

As you can see it is quite a change from my last few covers, and there is a reason for that! Rather than staying completely within Miss Austen’s territory, for this novel I have  moved into my own and followed an idea that has intrigued me for a while. I’m still deciding on the final title which is why it’s still blank. But see if you can pick up any clues from the image, and please let me know what you come up with!

Check back soon – I will start posting small extracts as I work my way through the novel just to give a flavor of what it is like.

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Sneak Peek! Felicity in Marriage: Part One

FIM SW Amazon thumbnail

Click on the link below to read the first few chapters – novel release date September 30th, 2015

Felicity in Marriage ch 1-3

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Filed under marriage, novel release, Regency, relationships, Writing Progress

New Novel Release: Felicity in Marriage

Exciting news!!!
My third novel, Felicity in Marriage, is now available on pre-order for release September 30th 2015. This starts at the beginning of the year after Pride and Prejudice ends. Lizzy’s at Pemberley, Jane’s at Netherfield and Lydia’s in Newcastle. There seems to be happiness all around until Lizzy receives a letter from Lydia which reminds her that her sister is never happy or satisfied for long. To follow your favorite characters’ lives, to listen to their gossip and understand their problems, order your copy of Felicity in Marriage today!

Here’s the back-cover blurb:

Mrs. Bennet has nothing more to wish for. With three daughters married, her business in life is very nearly complete, and her delighted pride when she visits Mrs. Bingley and talks of Mrs. Darcy and Mrs. Wickham with her friends may easily be imagined. Mr. Bennet is merely thankful to finally reclaim the peace and quiet of his book-room.

Their two eldest daughters, Elizabeth Darcy and Jane Bingley have certainly found felicity in marriage as the ladies of Pemberley and Netherfield, enjoying everything such positions in society command. But the marriage of the youngest Bennet daughter, Lydia, to the unscrupulous but charming George Wickham does not leave her parents or sisters entirely sanguine. If only the couple had not gone so far away – to Newcastle of all places – and Lydia in possession of such an unguarded and imprudent manner, certain only to worsen without her family’s steadying influence.

Step back inside the delightful world of Pride and Prejudice and Wickham’s Wife and join your favorite characters as they continue with their lives and loves. Listen to the gossip; celebrate the delights and vexations of early marriage; visit old relationships; experience country living, and the excitement of Regency London. The ending of Austen’s famous novel is just the beginning!

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The Art of Literary Conversation: Biographers vs. novelists

[With acknowledgment to the creators of this ‘card game’ Keith Lamb and Louise Howland.]

Q: ‘Where biographers fear to tread, novelists can rush right in.’ Example?

A: I certainly do have an example. I have just finished reading a novel called Girl in a Blue Dress by Gaynor Arnold and it answers this prompt perfectly.

It is the fictionalized account of the private life of one of the world’s most revered authors – Charles Dickens – told from the point of view of his estranged wife living in what amounted to solitary confinement for the twenty years after he decided to publicly take up with his mistress. The names have been changed and, I am sure some of the facts of the affair, but it remains rather a sordid and sad account. The reader has no difficulty in becoming very angry on the wife’s behalf since she, sad creature, still loves her husband and remains in her apartment so that he is not embarrassed or annoyed by her ineptitude in dealing with his increasingly public life and fame.

I am sure that there are several biographers of Dickens who have lionized his triumphs and literary successes – indeed it would never have occurred to me that there could be anything else to be said about such a great writer – and quietly ignored the despicable manner in which he cast off his wife and the mother of his ten children, convincing them to cut off all ties with her as well. Apparently, if the book is to be believed, he forced them to choose between living with him or their mother, a very usual situation in the Victorian Era; there could be no compromises.

Very often we tend to idolize public and successful people, we want to have someone to look up to, to dream about becoming, but as is so often the case, the saying ‘look how the mighty have fallen’ can be applied. For some of them, being so adored inflates their view of themselves and they begin to believe the hype and adoration that surrounds them everyday; and so it was with Dickens, evidently. He did not wish to be lumbered with a fat, boring, lazy, stupid wife anymore (his opinion of her; not her actual character), and decided that he deserved better and more interesting company in the form  of a beautiful young actress who would make him feel young again whilst hanging on his every word.

The fictionalized biography begins on the day of Dickens’ funeral, the day that his wife feels able to break her self-imposed solitary lifestyle and leave her apartment to face her demons, and in very short order she discovers that her children still love her, and that the actress is also living an enforced solitary lifestyle in a house in the country with her mother. The actress’s whole life revolves around wondering if today would be the day that Dickens would honor her with his company. The wife discovers, as is often the case, that her imaginings have been far worse than the actual fact, and ends up feelings quite sorry for her old nemesis.

The aspect of this novel that makes it so interesting and allows the writer to tread very heavily over Dickens’ good name and flawless reputation is its foundation in truth, based as it is on the man’s actual behavior as displayed through his and his wife’s letters, but it is an aspect that few biographers would want to dwell upon. It is not in their interest to reduce their subject’s worth in the reader’s eye.

Which makes me very glad that novelists are not as bound to the truth as are biographers, because they are expected to, and do, tell a damn fine tale around thinly-veiled truth without repercussions.

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The Art of Literary Conversation: ‘Taking a writer from national to international readership’

[With acknowledgment to the creators of this ‘card game’ Keith Lamb and Louise Howland.]

Q: ‘What is needed to take a writer beyond the limits of a national framework to an international readership?’

A: Very little. I don’t believe that readers have ever been so insular as to only read writers from their own country: the British only reading British authors; Americans only reading American authors. Readers, as a very general statement, read to discover new worlds and different people and behavior. Yes, often we tend read about topics with which we are familiar, about settings and characters  we can identify with, but  because people are people, the world over, whether their problems are set in California, Birmingham,  Alice Springs, or Crete they will all show similar hopes, dreams, motivations, or depravities, and so it matters very little where the story is set.

Of course, it is always very interesting to read about other countries and the differences in their daily routines as depicted by the characters. I would never have known that it is very common to have cheese for breakfast in Norway if I had never read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; I would never have understood the terrible hardships suffered  by the migrant farmers in California if I had never read The Grapes of Wrath; I would never have known that in Japan the city is broken up into prefectures if I had never read Kafka on the Shore. So, while I am sure the national readership of these novels were delighted to read about events set close to home where they could envisage the scenery and the everyday lives of the characters with ease, to read these from an international point of view only increases the enjoyment in learning about different ways of life.

I think the difference between being a national and an international writer lies not in the content of their novels, but with  the acquisition of a very good publicist.

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The Art of Literary Conversation: ‘Why Read?’

[With acknowledgment to the creators of this ‘card game’ Keith Lamb and Louise Howland.]

Q: ‘Why Read?’

A: This is an question frequently asked by disinterested students, students who are so busy with their online presence they can’t conceive of spending time, by themselves, with their only distraction being their own imagination. And this seems to be true for certain adults, also. There is not enough time in the day to do everything, and so, an hour spent immobile – seemingly doing nothing – is considered an hour wasted, especially when there could be instant gratification from engagement online or TV.

But reading is, of course, central to every human being, even if that reading does not extend to an entire novel. We read all the time and have to, to survive. We read notices, signs, directions; we read facial expressions and body language; we read advertising and newspaper headlines; email and Yahoo sound-bites. We read to learn, to understand, to explore a world that is not always in our direct path, but affects us nonetheless. If we do not read the signs and signals, then we are in possible danger or ignorant of events over which we may have no control but will educate us somehow for the future. We do not need to experience every trauma, accident, or mistake but reading about such experiences enables us to formulate how we would respond should we need to and educates us on the best way to survive. Reading allows us to live vicariously through the experiences and decisions of others without any actual suffering on our part.
And so it is with reading fiction, which, I assume, is the main point of the question. Just as with learning through real-life readings, fiction has the same ability to teach life lessons and allows the reader to understand different ideals, morals, motivations, disappointments and judge their own responses to those of the character.
Why read? is not a good question: Do you dare not to read? is a far better one.

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