My Writing Decision

After much thought I’ve made my decision as to which manuscript will get my attention first.

If you look at the list, you might think it would be fitting to finish the Cat’s Series as two books are already completed, leaving only the third book to be written. This would seem like the natural course to take, but I’ve decided against it as the second and third book cannot be published without the first book being successful (the first book is written as a stand alone, whereas the other two books are definite sequels and must be read in order). Due to this I feel it would be better time management to put my efforts into submitting Cat’s Eyes (book 1) to publishers instead, which is what I will do. I will keep you updated on my progress.

The Kingdom of Marlinor trilogy is a favourite of mine. In the past I’ve rushed the planning and have been sorry afterwards. This time, I intend to do it properly. All three books! Completely! As I mentioned in a previous post, I have already started researching important issues for the trilogy and this will continue until I am satisfied with the information I have. I will then use the Snowflake method to produce a proper plan.

Planning isn’t actually writing though and I feel I should be getting words on paper (or on the computer screen) while I feel in the mood because who knows when the mood will disappear?!? With this in mind, I’ve decided to plan one story and write another.

The manuscript that has been given the number one slot is Mirror Image. With only approximately 10,000 words to write, I feel this isn’t a huge hurdle to face at this early stage and, besides, I want to see the first draft finished, so this is the story I’ll revisit. Upon its completion, I will decide what to do next.

However, I’ve said only one manuscript is the “winner”, but in actual fact three manuscripts are winners. Cat’s Eyes will gain my serious attention for submitting. That has to be a good move. Kingdom of Marlinor will finally be planned the way it should have been years ago. That’s definitely a positive step. And the first draft of Mirror Image will finally be finished. It will feel great to cross it off my “unfinished projects” list.

My Writing Future

Yesterday, I listed fourteen novel length manuscripts that I have at various stages. Fourteen! When added together, that is some word count! Not to mention all the edits and rewrites.

I guess I can safely say the ideas are there. Some of the manuscripts were started many, many years ago and have not progressed in any way since they were put aside. Some of the manuscripts probably never will be improved upon and I’m fully aware which ones they are. But this isn’t about what I did wrong in the past. This is my honest look at what I have and where I want to go in the future.

I printed out the list and studied it. Then I asked myself a couple of questions: Which of these manuscripts (if any) “do something” for me? Which ones do I want to continue with?

My answer:

Kingdom of Marlinor Trilogy

The first book – Whispering Caves – has been written, rewritten and rewritten again. In fact, I think I’m up to version 8. The original manuscript was written in the late 1990’s. I love the characters and the setting. I love the story. However, as I grew as a writer, I could see the problem areas and I believe my attempts to fix them actually ruined the basics of the story. This is called over editing. I didn’t know when to stop.

The second and third books are (very) vaguely planned, but after the last rewrite of Whispering Caves I had an idea that could tie the three stories together. If I use this idea, it would mean I would have to replan and then rewrite from the beginning. I’m not talking about a severe edit, I mean open a blank screen and write the whole thing from the start. I am willing, and I want, to do that. Actually, I have already set the planning of this trilogy into motion.

People of Miu Series

As these manuscripts were originally written in the last three to four years, this series is my most recent work and that is reflected in the quality of writing. Hence, less revisions required. The first two books are ready for submission and I know how book 3 must end, but I’m having trouble planning the rest of the story. That “trouble” might have been me not being able to focus. I think I can overcome that problem now and I want to finish this series. I enjoyed writing it and have had a lot of input from other writers to get the manuscripts to submission stage.

Isle of Cottie

This manuscript is romance with a fantasy setting and has two parts to it. A bit like before and after scenarios. The “before” section is 100% complete. I will probably have to give it another read through just to be sure it’s just right, but I know I wouldn’t have to spend a lot of time on it. The “after” section is a different matter. It’s been written in the first draft, but will change dramatically in the edit as I made major changes when I edited Part 1. My parents read this story (as well as Whispering Caves) and my father couldn’t praise this story enough. He said it’s full of drama, twists and turns and was quite “suggestive”. I was a little embarrassed by that, but if he read the edited Part 1 I think he’d get a shock!

The original manuscript was written in the early 1990’s. In fact, this is the first manuscript I ever wrote. The major edit of Part 1 took place about five years ago. Now I think it’s time to finish Part 2.

Mirror Image

The first draft of this story was written in November 2007 during NaNoWriMo. This means the draft is really bad. I remember changing direction in the middle of sentences, so the edit of this project is going to be a big deal. Anyway, for personal reasons, I didn’t quite finish the manuscript, but there are only about 10,000 words to go.

This is a dark story (paranormal/horror). It sends out a clear message which I feel is important to tell, especially in this day and age when depression is ripe. For this reason, I want to finish this manuscript.

Suicide: A Mother’s Story

This will be another two part manuscript. One of those parts will be hard to write, but much easier than the other part. I realise now that I attempted this project too soon when I originally started planning it in 2006, but it’s another manuscript that needs to be written – for me, for parents, for teenagers.

Mid-Summer’s Day

It’s been fully planned for a couple of years. However, no writing has started. I will write this one day, but not yet. Why start another project when I have so many others that need my attention?

Out of the other four manuscripts on the list, I think only two will get my attention in the future. Then again, maybe none of them will progress. I may decide to ditch these for other ideas instead.

Now that I’m clear on which manuscripts still hold my interest, I have to decide which of them will be placed in the top spot. As I’ve said before, I’m a one manuscript at a time kind of girl, so only one will be chosen. Which one do you think it will be?

My Writing Past

Previously, I’ve mainly written fantasy. I have manuscripts suitable for all ages. However, I specifically concentrated on children’s books – 8 to 12 years of age – over recent years. The only time I ventured into other genres were for short stories, although one of my first novel length manuscripts is romance (but even that has a fantasy setting).

In order to gauge where I’m heading, I have to know what I have to work with. Here’s a list of all my manuscripts, excluding short stories as I don’t intend to write them in the future.

List of Novel Length Manuscripts

Kingdom of Marlinor Trilogy
(fantasy for adults – needs planning as a trilogy and rewriting)

Book 1 – Whispering Caves
Book 2 – Windy Plains
Book 3 – Butterweed Fever

People of Miu Series
(fantasy for children aged 8 to 12 years – first two books written and edited; book 3 needs planning)

Book 1 – Cat’s Eyes
Book 2 – Cat’s Paws
Book 3 – Cat’s Whiskers

Stand Alone Manuscripts

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

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

Westmore Castle (fantasy for adults) – only four chapters written, needs complete planning and rewriting

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

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

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

Mirror Image (paranormal/horror for adults) – about 10,000 words of first draft left to write

Non-Fiction Manuscripts

Suicide: A Mother’s Story

Now that I know what manuscripts are in the system, I can decide what I intend to do from this point on. That, however, will be discussed in another post. Right now, I have some thinking to do.

Whispering Caves

bookcoverMany years ago, in a land far, far away, I started writing a manuscript that took me out of this world and planted me firmly in a world of my choice. There was no anger, no hatred, no pain, but plenty of love and romance to be found. The main character’s name was different to my own, but she was me through and through. Her love interest was my knight in shining armour – the man I believed would ride into my life and save me. The name of that book then, was Bondmates. However, after having the manuscript assessed, I was told that a young adult book should not have such a name and I think we can all see why, so the name changed to Whispering Caves.

The manuscript underwent several changes after my divorce. Strangely, I no longer needed to escape into a mystical world of love and wonder and I was quite content to remove myself from the story and insert a fictitious character in my place. I also realised that a place where only good things happened didn’t make for a good (or interesting) plot, so I inserted a number of hurdles into my character’s path. Gone was the world I had created for myself and suddenly a new world was born in its place.

The story grew, curving away from anything I had previously imagined. But I grew to love the characters and the setting just the same as I did in the first version. However, after several further attempts to bring the story up to a standard I could be proud of I realised an important fact. It didn’t matter what the world or characters were called, this story was and would forever be for me and me alone.

When I was struck by this realisation, I stopped working on Whispering Caves. Perhaps I’ll change my mind about sharing this story with the world in the future, but for now, I have a single copy of the manuscript published. The cover can be seen above. This copy of the story will be treasured by me to the end of my time on this earth. Maybe afterwards, my descendants will treasure the book for me.

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.

Update on Planning

You are probably sick of hearing about this, but I’m happy to announce that my planning is going extremely well. My goal was to complete this task by the 19th – I have two days to go – and I’m almost there.

All I have to do is rewrite my one page synopsis. The original was quite poor but since I’ve managed to fill in many of those holes, this rewrite will be a vast improvement.

My next goal is to rewrite/edit my anthology story by the end of the month.

Character Sub Plots Part 2

Yesterday, I said that I was going to start a spreadsheet and define my character’s sub plots. Well, this has proven to be difficult. In my mind I know what each character will be doing but to separate the threads like this is…challenging.

First, I had to write down the main plot. That was easy. Then I took each of the major characters and wrote down their subplot, which has got nothing to do with the main plot. One of the characters is dealing with inner conflict, another character is trying to deal with someone who is hostile towards him but he doesn’t know why, a third character has fallen in love and finds it difficult to focus on the job at hand, while a fourth character has his own agenda.

This is all while they carry out the main plot. It’s quite interesting how they cross over and effect each other, which causes conflict, tension and an interesting story. And of course, the more I discover about these people now, the easier it will be for me to portray them in a realistic manner.

It’s fun, even if it is giving me a headache.