The Miuan People

Yesterday, I spent several hours working on the image of the people of my world – Miuans. After many “not pleasant” results, I finally ended up with a “race” I could be proud of. I would share the image, but I feel that a writer should know in their own mind what they are describing, but allow the reader to come to their own conclusion too.

The description given of my new race of people in words came over just fine, but when I translated those words into a drawing – eek! Total freak! Due to this discovery, I had to work on the image until I was happy, otherwise I wouldn’t work on the story again. I knew that to be a fact.

Thank heavens I found something that satisfied my inner critic. This was no easy job, because I can’t draw and this meant I had to manipulate existing images. This took many, many hours over many days.

The Miuan people have been saved. 😀

I Had a Dream

How often do you dream at night and when you wake up you forget the dream within minutes of getting out of bed? This happens to me most days.

This morning was different. I woke up at 5.15am and lay in bed staring at the ceiling, the dream clear in my mind. I couldn’t fall back to sleep, I didn’t want to. I went over and over the dream to ensure I remembered everything.

In the dream I was taking an international flight to somewhere, I don’t know where and it’s not important. An international flight to anywhere from Australia means a long, tiring flight. Anyway, I sat in the aisle seat. An empty seat was beside me and the seat beside that was occupied by a woman. A woman about 10 years older than me.

The plane took off and the seatbelt sign went off. I, and the woman two seats from me, immediately unclasped our belts and leaned over to grab a laptop at each of our feet. We smiled at each other as we settled back in our seats and booted up the system. And then we went about our own business.

We sat quietly tapping away at the keys. Occasionally, one of us would rest our head back against the seat and stare up at the circular fans above our heads, and then that person would turn back to the laptop and type furiously.

After an hour or so of doing this, I sat back…thinking and scheming because I was stuck in my storyline. After a few minutes the other woman looked at me.

“What are you typing?” she asked. “You’ve been deep in thought ever since the plane took off.”

Shy, I didn’t want to go into details. I felt embarrassed for some reason. “Just a story.”

“I thought so,” she said. “Are you stuck?”

I nodded.

She smiled. “It happens to the best of us.” We stared at each other for a moment before she continued. “I write too. I’m writing a sequel right now. My editor is pushing me to get this one finished soon.”

We laughed and I relaxed a bit.

“Tell me why you’re stuck,” she said.

The woman was easy to talk to and I found myself sharing snippets of storyline with her. She asked many questions. Some of which I didn’t know the answers to until I gave my reply. I learned a lot about my story in the next 30 minutes.

“So, you see, that’s where the first two books are at, and the third book isn’t coming together at all.” I paused. “It’s frustrating.”

She gave a flash of white teeth and a chuckle. “I can see why you are frustrated and why the last book isn’t coming together.”

“You can?” I’m sure my mouth dropped open with astonishment.

“You planned each book, but not the series,” she said. “Your world wasn’t fully built when you started book one. Situations and places in book two have no resemblance to what happened in book one. You are trying to sweep together the crumbs for book 3.”

She paused to let her words sink in.

“You need to bring all three books under the same umbrella,” she continued a moment later. “If all the problems are solved in book 1, what is left for the next two books? You have three main characters, so each of their inner conflicts should be solved in the book you plan to write from each of their viewpoints.”

The conversation continued for a while longer. The woman gave me exact information on what I needed to change. And then I woke up.

The dream is so clear in my head…even now. The changes required are just as clear. Now, I ask you, was this my muse breaking through the madness and chaos in my brain to tell me where I’ve gone wrong, or was this simply a dream that just happened to give me the answers I needed to the many questions I had?

I don’t know, but I’m certainly glad I had this dream. I’m off to do some more re-planning.

Sorting the Weeds and the Flowers

Following two hours of sorting through my Writing folder, I think I’m close to knowing which of my stories can can be called “weeds” and which are beautiful “flowers”. Unfortunately, the number of flowers in my vase are few. 😀

At the moment, I’m taking a short break, sipping a cup of tea and … writing this post! I will return to my sorting in a few minutes, at which time I will go into phase two of my plan – reading the flowers one more time and making minute changes if necessary. When I am satisfied that these flowers are perfect, I will turn my mind to publishers. No less than five markets will be listed for each flower, and this will be added to regularly.

Next week, I intend to parcel each flower carefully and send it off to the first publisher on its list. How could a publisher turn away a beautiful flower? I wonder if I can make those flowers blossom? Maybe it would be a good idea to visit an old haunt called Critique Circle and see what can be done in that department.

2007 will be the Year of Submissions for this writer. It’s time to step up to the mark and get my work out there.

Year of the Writer Comes to an End

At the end of last year, I said 2006 was going to be the Year of the Writer. Besides wanting to see publication for many of my internet writing friends, and for myself, I made a list of goals. I’ve just been reading the list and … I can’t believe it, even though I didn’t come close to the dates provided, I did complete everything on the list. I’m shocked! I thought I would have failed miserably. That has given me a little spurt of confidence. 😀

The Year of the Writer is coming to an end. I don’t think anyone I know actually got published in a big way, but I do know a few people who are within touching distance of this happening.

For me, 2006 was not what I wanted it to be and the year will be forever etched in my mind. The Year of the Writer ended in May when I lost my beloved son. I did, however, finish editing Book 1 in my children’s series and I wrote Book 2 of the series, so it wasn’t all bad.

I’ve been thinking about my options lately. And I’ve also been thinking about my lack of “movement”. Something has to change, and that something is me. I need a plan.

Firstly, however, I need to know what I have to plan with. What stories are finished and polished? Which of these are already “tied up”? Which are free to submit? What stories need more planning or editing? Which stories need to be rewritten from the beginning?

Here’s my current list of manuscripts, in their various stages of development:

Novels

Isle of Cotti (romance for adults) – (complete, 10 chapters rewritten in edit stage, second half needs replanning)

Kingdom of Marlinor Trilogy (fantasy for adults)
1. Whispering Caves (complete, but needs replanning and rewriting)
2. Windy Plains (in planning stages)
3. Butterweed Fever (in planning stages)

Westmore Castle (fantasy for adults) – (4 chapters written, needs proper planning)

Blood Red, White Fire (fantasy for young adults) – (22 chapters written of first draft)

The World of Jaishree (fantasy for young adults) – (written as a short story that should have been a novel, needs replanning and rewriting)

Sam & Arden (fantasy for young adults) – (4 chapters written, needs proper planning)

Mid Summer’s Day (science fiction for adults) – (fully planned, but not written)

The People of Miu Series (fantasy for children aged 8 to 12 years)
1. Cat’s Eyes (100% complete)
2. Cat’s Paw (complete in first draft)
3. Cat’s Whiskers (in planning stages)

Short Stories

Help Wanted! (general women’s fiction) – (complete)

Journey to Freedom (fantasy for adults) – (complete, but I’m still not happy with it, so it needs another edit)

Guards Mustering (fantasy for adults) – (complete)

Wynter Boundaries (fantasy for adults) – (complete)

Putting this list together has helped me in more ways than one. For starters it shows me that I have a lot of unfinished projects. I can safely say this is because in the early days of writing I didn’t plan, which meant I quickly ran out of steam, or cornered myself or just didn’t know where the story was heading and wrote in circles. And because these projects are from the “early” days, it also means that my writing skills were not the best. I’ve improved tenfold since then and all the stories need to be properly planned and rewritten from the beginning (even the finished projects).

The list also shows me that I’m unorganised because I don’t have many manuscripts polished and ready for submission. As a writer this is bad and I intend to change this.

For the moment, I only really have one novel manuscript which is 100% ready for submission and that is currently with a publisher in Sydney, so it’s not free for submission elsewhere.

I only have four short stories. I’ve never been keen on writing short stories. All my stories seem to turn into full length novels. Obviously, I can’t think small! Anyway, two of these are “tied up” with anthology projects and I must be patient with those, but I expect one of them to be released soon. The other two are free to submit now.

So what are my plans for 2007?

  • To edit Cat’s Paw and get it ready for submission.
  • To write and edit Cat’s Whiskers and get it ready for submission.
  • To finish Blood Red, White Fire. I only have approx. 4 chapters to go for heaven’s sake!
  • Plan all three books of The Kingdom of Marlinor trilogy.
  • Re-edit the story Journey to Freedom until I’m happy with it.
  • Query and submit all “free” short stories until they are accepted.
  • Write and edit two new short stories.
  • To read at least three writing “how to” books from cover to cover, which is something I’ve never done. At least one of these books must be on self-editing.

That sounds a lot, doesn’t it? But I’ve done my sums and I feel certain that this goal is not unachievable and it’s time I tried to stretch myself.

I challenge the readers of this blog to make their own list of manuscripts (for private use), but to make their 2007 writing goals public.

Planning Cat’s Whiskers (Book 3)

On the weekend I started planning Book 3 of my children’s fantasy series – Cat’s Whiskers. This is the last book in the series and I’ve known how it has to end since before I started writing Book 1. I now also have a clear idea how it’s going to start too. But the middle…talk about thick fog.

I have no idea what’s going to happen in the middle.

I can’t move on to Snowflake until I have some idea what’s going on in the story. In order to come up with a half decent plot, I thought I’d brainstorm some ideas. However, a person needs a brain to do this and mine isn’t working all that good at the moment. Yesterday, I sat with a blank piece of paper and ended with a blank piece of paper. That’s not a good sign.

Fatigue is an issue with me, so I figure that I’ll have to do this brain storming session first thing in the morning – the only time I feel fairly reasonable. Come lunch time, I’ve had it and the brain, along with the body, is pushed to the extreme just to get through the day, so adding extra pressure isn’t going to work.

Yesterday morning, I sat quietly at my desk at work (it was a slow morning) and I cut up some board into sizable palm cards. The first two books in the series have 14 and 15 chapters respectively, so I figure this book will have about 15 chapters too. Hence, I made 17 cards – 15 for chapters, 1 for a list of character (a quick reference to ensure I get the spelling right) and 1 for a list of place names and strange object names.

On one card I wrote the details of the first chapter. On another card I wrote the details of the last chapter. This means I have 13 blank cards to fill. This, in turn, equals 13 hooks (because I like every chapter to end in a hook). Eek! It looks like I need one great brainstorming session to fill in all these cards.

Relaxing or Planning?

A day or so ago Sasha asked me this question:

I’m so pleased that everything went well for your Mini Nano. Will you be sitting back for a while or planning number three before you edit number two?

It’s a good question and I wanted to give it some thought rather than rushing in with a reply I might regret later.

My original plan was to let Cat’s Paw sit for the month of December and then start editing in January 2007. That would give me a whole month to catch up on other things – like my family tree research, reading (which I haven’t done at all this month), lazing around doing nothing, catching up on other writer’s blogs etc. I had no plans for book 3 at this stage.

However, all plans should be made in pencil, because it’s quite likely that you will change your mind somewhere along the line. And, if you are like me, even your planning needs to be neat and tidy.

Without question, I will give myself the rest of this week off; although I am already finding myself wandering around in the evening, feeling a little lost. The weather isn’t helping. I can’t settle down and concentrate because I’m trying to escape the oppressive heat. I hate summer.

Anyway, getting back on topic, on the weekend, I will start planning Book 3 – Cat’s Whiskers. The story has been rolling around in my head for a week or so now, even while I was writing book 2. I have a vague plan started. I know how the series is going to end. I’ve known that from the beginning of book 1. But how book 3 gets started is giving me a bit of trouble. I intend to use Sherry’s card system – A Tip for Getting Unstuck – to plan the chapters, once I’ve worked out a bit more of the plot, of course.

I will probably still do the edit in January, but I’ll be doing it with a firm idea where the characters are heading, and I believe that will be more helpful overall.

Thanks for asking the question, Sasha.

Thinking Ahead

If I am successful in writing my Mini-NaNo in November, and there’s no reason (as yet) why I shouldn’t be, book 2 will be completed in it’s first draft. At that time, being December, this will give me the perfect reason to put the manuscript to one side until early 2007 and catch up on the other things that I’d normally be doing on a week-to-week or day-to-day basis during November.

Leaving the manuscript until 2007 before I start editing is perfect. It couldn’t work out better. And if I really do find time to fit in writing during that time, then I will finish planning book 3. It’s strange, a month ago, both books 2 and 3 were nothing more than a vague thought and now they are becoming a reality. I find that amazing.

NaNo is going well for me so far. I’ve managed to reach my daily word count. However, now that I’m heading swiftly towards the “middle” section of the story, I’m finding that the flow is slowing down considerably. I know what needs to happen and where I’m heading, but I don’t know exactly how I’m going to get there. This type of planning allows for creativity whilst writing, which means there’s no chance I can become bored with the story.

I did manage to gag the editor. It took some doing, but persistence on my part won out in the end. Of course, this will mean my first draft will be rougher than normal, but they say “a change is as good as a holiday” and I’m willing to see how things pan out.

Talking about holidays…it’s Christmas soon. Have you started planning your day, buying your presents, organising your family? I’m thinking about it, and that’s as good as it will get for now. 😀

Must run. I have words to write…835 of them.

Good Intentions

My intentions were good, but I didn’t actually carry through with my plan. I had intended to start planning book 2 (and 3) yesterday. I did buy two nifty notebooks especially for the occasion. I also printed out a summarised version of the Snowflake steps to use in the notebooks. But I didn’t actually start the planning.

At this stage, I could give you a list of reasons, which will only come across as excuses, so I won’t bother wasting my time putting the list together (it isn’t much of a list anyway).

I did, however, think about the plots for both books 2 and 3. I thought about the connection between the three books, and tried to come up with a theme where the titles are concerned. I might have solved this problem, but I’ll have to get back to you after I’ve had the opportunity to start the planning.

Now, I have a question. There are three main characters and there are three books to the series. I am thinking of writing a book from each of the three character’s point of view. Do you think the reader will be disappointed by this? I know children can “fall in love” with the main focal character and they might not like the fact that all three books are not told by the same character’s point of view. Thing is, the main character in book 1 has solved her internal problems. Books 2 and 3 will have the other two characters solve their own internal problem. It will also be an opportunity to learn more about the characters and the world they live in. What do you think? Am I doing the right thing by using different points of view?