The Early Bird Catches the Worm

Since the loss of my son in May last year, I haven’t slept well. At first, I would be lucky to get two hours sleep each night, however, now I’m getting around five to six hours sleep. At least this number of hours helps me function…almost. I still have concentration and memory problems, but generally I’m doing OK.

In this time, I’ve discovered that no matter what time I go to bed, I will always be awake between 6 and 6.30am. I find that if I head off to bed early, in the hope of getting an extra hour or two sleep, I’m disappointed as I actually sleep less. So I’ve taken to going to bed later and, thankfully, I sleep much more soundly.

On a work night, I’ve been going to bed at 11pm and on the weekend (Friday and Saturday nights) I usually go to bed at midnight – well, it is the weekend and I am a big girl now.

This means, of course, there’s no more sleeping in. During the week it doesn’t matter because I have to get up and go to work, but on weekends it used to be nice to spend an extra hour or two in bed. It doesn’t matter. I’ve developed a new habit, which I quite enjoy. I get up with the birds, make myself a cup of tea and then climb back in bed and read, write or plan. I usually stay in bed until 9am, so this is giving me almost 3 hours of uninterrupted work time. And strangely, my focus is better at this time too.

Having had my five or six hours of sleep, I feel refreshed and alert. It’s usually lovely and cool at this time of the morning, so I’m not distracted by feeling uncomfortable either. And, because everyone else is asleep, it’s peaceful and quiet. I love this new habit. Needless to say, this is when I’m getting most of my work done. It’s a pity work interrupts that schedule during the week.

This morning, having finished the Cat’s Eyes final revision last night, I made the cup of tea and climbed back into bed, but I didn’t know what I would do. I decided to go through and update my notes…and discovered something.

I am sexist!

I wrote in my notes that the female main character’s (from my fantasy world) mother died in childbirth. OK, that’s fair enough. It happens. That’s when I noticed that the other main character didn’t have a mother either. Neither did the cousin, or his henchmen. The councillors are male. The servants are male. Every other character in the book is male. There’s not another female character in sight.

Something needs to be done about this. Book 1 – Cat’s Eyes – is fine how it is. This book is from the point of view of a human girl and the story doesn’t take the reader into the middle of the community for the fantasy world. However, book 2 – Cat’s Paw – is quite different. It is set in the fantasy world, right in the thick of the people. It is also from the book of view of one of their people, so I really need to take a look at the female population. I mean to say, if there are no females, there is no population.

My male main character, who is the point of view character in book 2, needs a mother. I guess this means I will have to create one for him. Also, the council will find at least two females shoving a couple of the males out of their chairs and taking up residence.

Something tells me that the first edit for Cat’s Paw is going to turn into a rewrite. *groan*

Cat’s Eyes: Completed (again)

On Friday, I told you how much I love Cat’s Eyes. At that stage, I had gone through the printed manuscript and added everything I felt was missing after writing book 2 of the series and learning more about the people and the world. However, I still had to transfer my written notes onto the computer.

Today, I spent much of the day (on and off and between chores) locking myself in my bedroom and tackling that chore. At 3pm, the job was done and I started the final read through to ensure my additions didn’t distract from the flow. However, after two chapters my energy collapsed in a pile and I couldn’t resist being drawn to my bed for a nap.

An hour and ten minutes later I awoke feeling quite zombie like. I thought my chances of getting through the rest of the manuscript were remote. However, everything seems to be working in my favour this weekend (for a change). A cool southerly gushed through our house, pushing the humid air out and away. A light dinner helped restore some of that depleted energy. And at 6.30pm I returned to my bedroom and barred the door.

G, a true supporter, supplied me with endless cups of tea while I continued to read. Marathon reading has never been my style, but I managed to read half the manuscript by 8.30pm. However, due to poor concentration levels I had to have numerous breaks (every 20 minutes or so, for about 10 minutes).

Now, it is 10.45pm and I’ve finished the read through. Cat’s Eyes is finished. Yes, I know I’ve said that before, but these changes were necessary. I even managed to put something into book 1 that relates to book 3. I’m so proud of myself. Oh, I almost forgot to mention this – I beat my deadline! I was 90% sure I wouldn’t this time, but that shows you what determination can do.

Cat’s Eyes: Final word count – 25,450.

Now, I’m off to relax for a short while before heading off to bed. I’m exhausted.

The 36 Plots

A member of my Email Writers’ Group shared this link and I thought I’d share it here too.

The 36 Plots is written with RPG in mind, but I think the essense of what’s being said can be applied to novel or short story writing too. I hope it helps someone over a stumbling block. Or, maybe it will help you think about your plots and characters from a different direction. Good luck.

Some Dos and Don’ts in Writing

I found this simple page of Some Dos and Don’ts in writing. Some of the things listed are common sense, but others may not be so well known.

However, one of them I didn’t understand at all and would appreciate some enlightenment. Maybe I’m not fully awake, although I should be it’s almost 1pm, or maybe my brain isn’t working, but the following means nothing to me. It’s complete gibberish.

Case: “There is perhaps no single word so freely resorted to as a trouble-saver,” says Gowers, “and consequently responsible for so much flabby writing.” Often you can do without it. There are many cases of it being unnecessary is better as It is often unnecessary. If it is the case that simply means If. It is not the case means It is not so.

Edit: OK, it’s starting to sink in now. I think I’ve almost got it.

I’m Proud of My Baby

The end of the month is less than a week away, which is meant to be the deadline for my read through and final edit of Cat’s Eyes. I have to admit to lagging behind on this goal. However, being as today is Australia Day – a public holiday – I decided to buckle down and get stuck into the work.

This means I have finished the read through and have added, on paper only, the things I felt were missing from the first manuscript after I finished writing book 2. All that needs to be done now is to transfer this work into the computer file. I’m taking a break now, but intend to start doing this a little later.

Would it be crass to tell you how much I like this story? Well, I do (like it, I mean)…a lot. In fact, after this read through I’m even more determined to finish the series and get it published. I only found one awkward paragraph that needed fixing and one typo. Other than that…Cat’s Eyes is great! I’m proud of it.

I think it probably is crass to say that, but I’ve said it anyway. 😀

The Problem with Wisdom

What is wisdom exactly? The dictionary tells me it’s: The ability to discern or judge what is true, right, or lasting; insight. Some say it is knowledge, but I believe that wisdom and knowledge are different things and that wisdom comes with age and experience. Yet some people never find wisdom.

Then there is the artificial getting of wisdom. This comes in the form of what is known as the “wisdom tooth”. There are four all up and they are the rearmost molars in your top and bottom jaws. They are called wisdom teeth because they usually come through in your adult years and I guess that is saying that you should have some wisdom by then.

I call these teeth, especially lately, painful! I would have liked to have placed some nice descriptive words in front of “painful”, but I don’t know who is reading and don’t want to encourage swearing.

Three of my wisdom teeth pushed their way through the gums many, many years ago. The fourth, being stubborn and selfish, decided that it would follow suit, and then changed its mind half way. For twenty years, I’ve had this half a tooth causing me trouble two or three times a year. However, being a lazy tooth, it never did much more than ache for half a day…a full day at most. By the next morning, I would be back to normal and it hardly seemed worthy of a visit to the dentist. Besides, dentists are expensive and, more importantly, I have a fear of them.

And then on Friday I woke up with that familiar ache. Hmmm, never mind, it will be better by the afternoon, I thought. It wasn’t. In fact, it was worse. Never mind, it will be better in the morning. It wasn’t.

Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. That’s not an afternoon, or a day at the most. And it wasn’t an ache. It was … painful! I want to use that colourful description again.

It was so painful, in fact, that I braved my fear and went to the dentist. I endured having to have a treatment – you know, cleaning, fluoride, and some other fizzy green stuff that makes you dribble everywhere. I sat rigid in that seat, staring blinding at the poster stuck to the ceiling, listening to the awful sound coming from the machine they use to clean your teeth. At one stage, the dentist pulled everything out of my mouth and asked if I was alright. I discovered that one leg was shaking so badly, they thought they’d hit a nerve or something. I was only having a clean. Heaven forbid, what would happen if they actually tried to inject me or, worse still, use the drill.

I was given a lecture and then x-rays were taken, and then I was told that my tooth is large and weird shaped…and runs deeper in my jaw than the nerve. Great!

I’ve been referred to an oral surgeon and have to have the tooth out. The good thing is that I will be put to sleep for this to happen. I think the dentist feared for her safety and that’s why she referred me. However, it might have something to do with my warped tooth and the nerve too.

What am I going to do? A quarter of my wisdom is going to be removed. Thing is, I don’t have all that much to lose. 🙁

Cat’s Eyes: Read Through

Although I promised myself that I would start the read through on Cat’s Eyes on Thursday night. I didn’t. I let worries get to me and distract me. In fact, I let those worries take hold of me on Friday too.

This morning, however, I woke with the birds and sat in bed with the manuscript and my notebook. As I read the story, my story, I have to admit that I felt chuffed. The first three chapters only had a couple of minor changes to be made. The characters, I feel, are well defined and the plot is unfolding nicely. This lifted my spirits, because I can see that the story is well written, even if I do say so myself.

Today is hot and humid. In fact, just half an hour ago (at 4.30pm) it was 46 degrees celsius in our backyard. It’s not much cooler in the house. It’s too hot to do anything. I tried to find a cool place to read, but there is no such place. Soon I’ll go and have a cold shower and get changed. We’ve decided to go to an air-conditioned restaurant for dinner. Maybe that will cool us down for a while and maybe we’ll actually eat something while we’re there. And maybe…here’s wishful thinking…a cool change will come along, while we’re in the restaurant and cool everyone down so that we can actually sleep tonight. We can only hope.

Midnight for Charlie Bone

midnight_for_charlie_boneMidnight for Charlie Bone (The Children of the Red King, Book 1)
I bought books 1 and 2, brand new, for only $4 on sale, which I thought was a bargain.

First off, I have to admit that I bought these books because I thought (maybe I saw this on the internet somewhere, I’m not sure) that the story was similar to the Harry Potter books.

Yes, there is an 11 year old boy who has a magical “ability”. Yes, there is a special school for children with these abilities. Apart from that, the story is quite different. I had to push the Harry Potter thought out of my head and start thinking Charlie Bone, because wherever I got that idea…I was wrong…and it was wrong of me to continue reading with that thought in my head.

This was a slightly longer children’s book than normal, but it draw me in and captivated me from the beginning. I loved the characters and the setting. Although I never worked out when the story took place, it didn’t matter. It felt “up-to-date” and that was enough for me.

Reading this book showed me that whilst characters need to learn and grow throughout a story, their problems don’t have to be resolved completely. I think this is the main problem with my series. I tried to resolve all their problems and make the world perfect in book 1, which makes it difficult to undo all that hard work in book 2.

As I mentioned before, Midnight for Charlie Bone is the first book in a series. Although the immediate problem in the story was solved and the author gave the impression that everything was fine for the characters, it was quite obvious that it wasn’t and the very last line of the story confirmed this. However, I didn’t feel cheated and I don’t feel as if I have to read the next book (although I will, because I’ve already got it). So this story also showed me that it is possible to have stand alone books in a series, which is something I’ll be aiming for in my series. I never want my readers to feel like I’m conning them into buying more books, because I hate it when I feel that way.

Recommendation: A definite “yes”. Read this book.