NaNo 2019 starts tomorrow

Yes, I am joining NaNoWriMo this year. If you don’t know what that is, well, thousands of writers join up in November with the intention of writing 50,000 words in 30 days. It is a great way to get the bare bones of a manuscript down on paper–or the start of one at least. The trick is to write, and not to edit as you go. This is the one thing I have a problem with, but I will try hard to conquer this little issue. 😀

But…

I am not doing the full NaNo. In other words, I am not aiming for 50,000 words. I want to write another Cat and Mouse adventure, which is a book for young readers. I am aiming for 15,000 words or there abouts.

NaNo starts tomorrow. I am ready and willing to get started. In four weeks, I WILL have the first draft of Ghost at the Cemetery completed.

Canoeing, Gaia, the 17th Century and the Future

What do canoeing, Gaia, the 17th century and the future have in common? They are all featured in my current writing projects.

It’s been a while since I mentioned my actual writing and today I feel the need to clarify where I’m at and where I’m heading with these four projects. The clarification if for my benefit more than yours. 😀

The Canoeing (Mis)Adventure is a story for children. It is being written for a specific market and must be between 10,000 and 12,000 words in length. I’ve reached the half way mark. Problem is, I’ve been there for a while! I know where the story is heading and I know exactly how it will end, but the middle doesn’t give a toss about the required word length. The story wants to finish around 6,500 words. I know I should push on and finish the story and worry about publisher requirement later, but the lack of words is stopping me. How stupid is that?!

Wynter’s Boundaries is a short story for young adults/adults. It will be published in the upcoming Hope anthology later in the year. However, when the editor finished splashing the manuscript with her red pen, I found her comments overwhelming and daunting. At first I felt the story was beyond repair and actually considered withdrawing it from the anthology. However, not wanting to make rash decisions I put the manuscript away and let the problem(s) roll around in my mind for several weeks. Now I’m able to see fixes are available to improve the story. . .and my crushed confidence.

Whispering Caves is a novel-length manuscript for adults. It is a story I have revised many times. The characters are well known to me, almost to the point where I sometimes forget they are not real people. The problem with this manuscript is that I edited and revised it so much that I ruined it. Every attempt to rewrite it from scratch goes nowhere because the story starts long before my starting point in the manuscript. For that reason, I have decided to write the prequel first. When it is written, this untitled manuscript will be a solid foundation for the new, improved Whispering Caves.

And this leads me to the fourth project. This one is also untitled. There are no notes, no planning, but nameless characters and some crazy events are distinct in my mind. They roll around in that vast vacancy where my brain should be and I’m beginning to see a story set in the future, our future, that is somewhat chilling to think about. I already know the beginning and end, the middle is quickly falling together too. I think I’ll be compelled to write notes soon. I’ve always been an avid planner, however I have a feeling that the most planning I’ll be doing for this project is writing down a few notes, working out a few names and dates and then just writing.

Four projects. All of varying lengths, genres and audience. I’m usually a one-manuscript-at-a-time kind of girl but variety is the spice of life and I think I’m going to have four open projects from this point on. I’ll swap and change between them as I see fit, according to mood, timing and whatever takes my fancy. The prospect of doing this actually makes me feel positive! As long as I write, does it matter?

Oh, I just realised that I haven’t covered all my projects, so now I’m going to throw a fifth one into the equation.

Cat’s Paw is the second book in The Land of Miu series. The manuscript has been completed but it needs a final edit. I intend to do that once I’ve finished reading the book I’m currently reading. Then it will be ready for publication.

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.

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.

Getting Back On Track

The end of the month is fast approaching, and it’s time for me to make a decision. I listed my options on 12th May. They were:

1) Work on my Sam novel. This is a young adult fantasy novel.

2) Continue with the collaborative novel. Chapter 20 has been completed, which is a stones throw from the climax.

3) Plot out Book 2 in the trilogy. I know what the story will be about and several chapters have been written but it needs a thorough overhaul.

4) Write some more short stories until the edited verson of Book 1 comes back.

However, I have another option to add to this list.

5) Continue on with a romance manuscript that I started a few years ago.

Here are my thoughts on the above. It’s always encouraging to have options, it means I won’t be drying up (running out of things to do) any time soon. However, there are only so many hours in a day and since I work full time and do have a family, my time is limited. I want to use my time wisely.

Options 1, 4 and 5 can wait. Besides, with number 4 I might find time at work to write a short story.

Option 2 is so close to being finished that I feel I should take this option but the climax of this story is a huge battle scene that I’m actually fearful of writing (my collaborative partner was going to write this scene but has since decided to give up writing). I should tackle it but I know I will procrastinate in a big way with this one.

Option 3 is my preference but I really would prefer to wait for the comments from the editor on book 1 before I move on to the second installment.

So…this shows clearly which option I should take. Am I able to write that battle scene? That’s the big question!

Writing Update

It’s been a while since I mentioned anything to do with my own writing and I guess you’re wondering what’s going on.

As I reported a week or so ago, I’ve finished the rewrite of Book 1 in my triology and that has been sent off to the editor for a work over. I don’t expect to get anything back for a few weeks, at least, perhaps even longer. I know he’s extremely busy at the moment.

There are other projects I could go on with but May is a busy month where the 2005 anthology is concerned. The first workshop is in progress and I have four stories to read and crit by the end of the month. This doesn’t sound difficult but I’m a very slow reader and I want to give a detailed crit, so it does take many hours to do each crit each week.

What will I do when I’ve done them?

There are several options:

1) Work on my Sam novel. This is a young adult fantasy novel.

2) Continue with the collaborative novel. Chapter 20 has been completed, which is a stones throw from the climax.

3) Plot out Book 2 in the trilogy. I know what the story will be about and several chapters have been written but it needs a thorough overhaul.

4) Write some more short stories until the edited verson of Book 1 comes back.

Hmmm…I’m not sure what I’ll do. I need to give it more thought.