Update: Bright as the Eyes of You

Hi, everyone!

So, as you may have seen, Bright as the Eyes of You has a complete first draft on Wattpad, and now nearly a complete second draft in hardcopy (changes which I now have to transfer to digital, argh!) Some very lovely readers have already sent me niggles and inconsistencies that they noticed in the first draft so that I could fix them for the second, so I’ve been very busy with that.

What’s next?

I’m so glad you asked.

At the moment I’m mired up in Copyright Swamp. As some of you may or may not have guessed, the title of BatEoY and all the chapter headings were tiny excerpts from songs by one of my favourite bands, The Monkees. And since songs sung by The Monkees are still under copyright, I’ve had to go scouring the internets for the copyright holders of 16 different excerpts from 16 different songs.

It ain’t easy, I’m tellin’ ya!

I’ve heard back from a few of them, but nothing to tell me how much it will cost to get licenses to use the lyrics, so I’m still stuck. If it’s too expensive, I’ll have to simply seek a license for the title and take away the chapter headings for publication. It will make me sad, but I’d be sadder if I were to be sued for copyright infraction, so there’s that.

Fellow writers, don’t do this to yourself. Don’t pick out chapter headings from still-copyrighted songs and then come to love your odd, perfect, whimsical chapter headings so much that it seems to physically hurt to take them away. Learn from my pain.

Anyhoo.

Now that I’ve got the second draft of BatEoY nearly ready to go, I’ll be sending out copies to my Awesome Beta Readers next week. (I’ll also send it off to my mum, so she can pick out all my typos). And after that, BatEoY will be going off to an Actual Editor™ for a second round of edits. I’m kinda nervous, because I haven’t worked with an Actual Editor™ before.

But no gain without pain, eh?

So if you’ve read the first draft of BatEoY, now is the time to tell me all the mistakes I made. Seriously. Have at it.

And now that I’ve (sort of) finished BatEoY (well, come to a temporary, unavoidable halt, anyway), and now that I’m finally caught up on my NaNoWriMo word count, I’m going RELAX HARD. Oh, and sit down and watch some KDrama. Because it’s study, guys.

Photo from Regency Grooming

Photo from Regency Grooming

Have a glorious week, you blokes!

The Editing Blues

I’ve been writing poetry again. YOU’RE WELCOME.

The Editing Blues

It’s editing time again
-what a lark!
I’ve mounds of paper to spare!
Print out the MS
-a walk in the park!
The paper has jammed- but where??

My hot pink editing pen
-oh so bright!
Has caught out that, and and but
Echoes of repeated words
-what a plight!
I’m certain I’ll have to cut

that beautiful, deathless prose
-what a bore!
Surely I’ve started to bleed!
There must be an easier way
-or four
to make this book fit to read!

Now it’s a badly formed sentence
boo hiss
I didn’t write that, I swear!
That ‘humorous’ dialogue?
-hit and miss
And shouldn’t that pair be pare?

Markups in hot pink
-all over the page!
I think there’s more pink than black!
My back is a wreck
-I’m sure that I’ve aged
And likely started to crack.

But there’s tea for the weary
-ah, what joy!
And doughnuts allay the stress
as my poor typing fingers
-I employ
To lay the edits to rest.

It’s not like that’s all there’s to do
-that pink
But it’s a milestone, yanno?
The changes are added to file
-just think!
‘Only’ the proofing to go!
(oh no!)

Have Pen, Will Edit

Have Pen, Will Edit

Final Edits for ‘Spindle’

Last night the hubby was watching Caprica. You may be wondering what that has to do with Spindle – or last edits, if it comes to that. What it has to do with both is precisely this: I can’t stand Caprica, or for that matter, Battlestar Galactica. (I’ll have to try the original series- I hated the new but love the old V). It’s nasty, grotty, by far too soapy for my taste, and I don’t think there’s a single character I like. As far as I’m concerned, the Cylons can eliminate the lot of ’em.

So while hubby was watching Caprica, I put on my big, white noise-blocking earphones and searched Youtube for Stuff. I found Lindsey Stirling, which I binged on for a while as I typed away madly at the last few thousand words of Spindle. Then I changed to Evanescence for a while and continued to type away madly. It was probably the easiest, most profitable night’s writing that I’ve done in quite some time. Honestly, the hardest bit was not looking at the music videos as they played (Lindsey Stirling in particular has such lovely, visceral music videos – see Roundtable Rival for my favourite).

I did cheat a few times, skipping ahead to other scenes when I got stuck with the one I was writing, but the writing got done. Which means I’ll be able to send Spindle off to beta readers at the end of the week. Hoots! It also means that I’ll have a two week break from the MS while I go on with Other Things and prepare for Final Edits. Fortunately I do a lot of editing as I go, so only the last third of Spindle will need a second and third round of edits (hopefully). That and the feedback from my beta readers should keep me busy for the next month after my break.

So in celebration of Spindle reaching Final Edit stage, I have another small excerpt for you all! Enjoy, and don’t forget to preorder Spindle.

* * *

                Poly woke the next morning to uncomfortable heat and a distinct feeling of claustrophobia. To add to her discomfort there was a tiny, sharp elbow digging into her neck, which suggested that Onepiece had turned boy some time after he curled up on her pillow but hadn’t moved from the pillow. One of his legs was dangling over the side of the bed, but the other had managed to work its way under the covers. The rest of him was wrapped snugly in what seemed to be . . . hair.

“Good grief!” groaned Poly, giving up the attempt to lift her head from the pillow after one painful effort.

“Oh, you are awake,” said Luck, making her squeak in surprise. He was stretched out at the foot of her bed with an open book in one hand, his boots only just off the quilted blanket; and that, thought Poly crossly, must be why she couldn’t move her legs. “I wouldn’t try that again if I were you: it’s lashed underneath the boards.”

“Yes, I thought it might be. What do I do?”

“Lie very still, I suppose. Poly, the curse is being sneaky again, but I think you might have been sneakier.”

Onepiece stirred and murmured: “Tosh,” but that was more likely to be because it was his favourite word than because he’d understood Luck. Poly was left wondering if she agreed with the sentiment.

“I knew there was something niggling away in the back of my mind,” continued Luck, disregarding Onepiece’s sleepy mutterings. “Your hair is too helpful: it’s keeping the curse at bay by growing. Even if you’d pumped all your magic into it, it shouldn’t be that clever.”

“How does growing keep the curse at bay?” asked Poly. She’d given up trying to explain yet again to Luck that she didn’t have magic, hadn’t had magic, wouldn’t ever have magic. His reiteration was insidious enough that Poly thought she might just come to believe him, in the end.

* * *

That’s it from me! What have you guys been up to this week? And what is your writing music of choice?

SPINDLE - 2000

Breaking The Rules

I’d like to start out this blog post by saying that I break the rules. A lot. (Not laws and work rules and such- I’m almost offensively straight-laced when it comes to following those. I am not a rebel.)

Nope, I’m talking about writing rules. The ones that say things like ‘Cut ALL adverbs and adjectives’ and ‘Never start a sentence with a preposition’ and ‘Never use any dialogue tags’. Stuff like ‘Always sit down and outline your book before you write the first word’ and ‘Never use semicolons’. No run-on sentences! Not to mention all the various grammar rules and regulations. Let’s face it, when it comes to writing, there are a lot of rules.

For the record, I use quite a reasonable amount of adverbs and adjectives, and although I don’t tag every bit of dialogue I write, I do tag some. There are some rules of grammar that I break for effect or in line with a particular character’s voice. I quite often, for stylistic purposes, start a sentence with a preposition. I may, in fact, have broken most of the rules of writing. There’s a time and a place for everything.

HOWEVER.

There is a huge, monumental, gaping great difference between breaking the rules for stylistic/characteristic/etc purposes, and breaking them because you don’t know what the heck you’re doing. A huge amount of my favourite authors break the rules constantly, in one way or another (reading Terry Pratchett last night just reinforced this) and I don’t think there are many people who would be daft enough to tell Terry Pratchett, Patricia Wrede, Steven Brust, etc, to pull their socks up and get their grammar right. This is because they know the rules. They simply choose to break them every now and then. But they do know them.

I’ve read a heck of a lot of bad books. Books with bad spelling, the wrong homonyms, atrocious grammar: errors that stick with you whether or not the actual stuff of the book is good. I’ve also heard a lot of authors, when their errors are pointed out, say something along the lines of: “Oh, I didn’t realise that. But it’s okay, insert famous author here does it all the time.”

It’s not okay. Breaking the rules is okay, but there needs to be a reason. And you need to know that reason. You need to know the rules before you break them. It makes all the difference between good and bad writing. You might get it right by accident, breaking the rules, but you’re far more likely to get it horribly wrong and find your book being mocked for the rest of its (probably short) life.

So pull your socks up. Learn the rules.

Then go ahead and feel free to break ’em.

Busy, Busy, Busy

It’s been a busy week. And now that I’ve written the word ‘busy’ five times, it’s looking really weird to me. Maybe I need a nap.

But I digress.

It’s been a busy week. My proofs for Wolfskin came in (finally!) but since they’re late arriving I have only a week and a half to check and correct. So there’s that. Then there’s the last 5000-odd words of Spindle that need to be done by next week if I want to keep on target with that particular deadline. And then there’s Memento Mori (the second volume in the Time-Traveller’s Best Friend series). I’ve only just begun it, and though I know roughly what the story arc for the collection will be, and have a few titles and ideas for a few of the stories, I still need to write the thing. By August at the latest.

With all these deadlines, you’d think I’d be madly at work on one or all of them. No such thing. I also got a new idea for a Short Thing for Weekly Fiction’s Open Call For Submissions. Naturally, I started work on that, with a little bit of editing and proof-reading around the edges. Fortunately, Wolfskin is proving much less complicated than Masque was. I seem to have caught most of the errors and inconsistencies and missed words before this point (does that mean I’ve advanced a level? New Power! Error-Free Gained!) and it’s really mostly a matter of a tiny change here and there.

Added to all the above is a busier-than-usual week at work, coupled with an annoying surge of my favourite companion, Meniere’s Disease.

I may just quietly go mad for a while. Don’t mind me. It’s a self-chosen madness after all.

What about you guys? Who else has a murder of deadlines? (Well, what is the group word for many deadlines, anyway?) And are you actually working on them?

Housekeeping

Did you guys know that printed books should always be odd-numbered on the right page? Or that text should be right and left justified? Or, for a matter of fact, that when you shorten the front of a word with an apostrophe (ex. ‘leave ’em alone’) that the apostrophe must face the same way as one that shortens the end of a word (ex. ‘doin’ what comes naturally’).

I didn’t until I started self-publishing. Got any idea how long it takes to go over 300-odd pages of text, looking at every flamin’ apostrophe? Oh yeah, and MS Word just puts ’em through as regular apostrophes. You gotta think about every shortened word as you type it. (Well, there’s probably a function I can turn on somewhere in the recesses of the program, but beggared if I know where it is.)

Also on today’s housekeeping: both Masque and A Time-Traveller’s Best Friend: Volume One are on a Goodreads giveaway at the moment, until about mid-April. I’ve got three signed copies of each to give away, so if you’re interested, click through the link on either above, and enter to win. A handy little feature of Goodreads that I found out about just a few days ago, and that I’m very happy to make use of!

And as I announced on my Facebook and Twitter pages, Wolfskin is at present being sent out to bloggers and reviewers. If you’re interested in getting a free copy (either ecopy or paperback) for the purposes of a review, contact me at gingellwrites [AT] gmail.com, through the comment section, or from the form on my Contact page.

Fourthly and lastly, I’ve been bingewatching On The Up with the wonderful Dennis Waterman, delightful Sam Kelly, inimitable Joan Sims, and pot-stirring Jenna Russell. SO MUCH FUN. So many glorious one-liners. And I’m completely in love with the ending.

Well, that and the equally wonderful live-action version of Black Butler. I’ve watched it three times now. It’s become one of my all-time favourites along with Alice (mini-series version with Andrew-Lee Potts), The Fall (Lee Pace), and City of the Lost Children (Ron Perlman).

Seriously. Watch any of these.

Over and out.

(What? You didn’t think my housekeeping would include actual work, did you? Well, apart from all the apostrophes.)

Last Edits And Other Means Of Torture

There’s this feeling you get after finishing a story. It’s something like: “Yes! I’m done now! It’s finished!”

It’s completely wrong. Your brain is lying to you because it knows just how much work there is still to go. In comparison to what you’ve still got to do, writing the MS was the easiest thing in the world.

I’m talking about edits. First edits, second edits, third edits- heck, anywhere from first to fiftieth edits. You painstakingly go over the MS from top to bottom, start to finish; hunting down every wrong word, misplaced comma, unnecessary adverb, missing preposition, and incorrect spelling. You sit back, exhausted from your Herculean efforts, and reward yourself with a cup of earl grey tea and as many biscuits (cookies, for the Americans out there) that you can scoff. Congrats! You’re done.

Except you’re not. There’s still Last Edits to go. (Why, yes, those are the Capital Letters Of Doom).

Let me show you what Last Edits look like.

MS #3MS #2MS #1

Admittedly, these are the most extreme of my Last Edit pages. Some of the pages have no red pen at all, just glorious black and white. Some have a scribbled-out word or two, with notes to remind me about continuity for one thing or another.

I usually leave a MS for at least a few months after edits before I begin Last Edits. It makes me more inclined to notice things I wouldn’t necessarily have noticed otherwise, and if I’ve been working on another MS, it’s the closest thing to a fresh look that’s possible. Last Edits are a chance to get an overview of the whole MS: what the pacing is doing, how the register is behaving as a whole, and if the continuity of well, everything, is smooth and painless.

The problem is, when you sit down to do Last Edits, you can’t turn the line editor off, either. (Well, can’t. Bully for you if you can.) So I end up doing little bits of line edit as I go. It’s excruciatingly painstaking.

And it’s worth every minute. (I can say this because I have less than 30 pages to go on my Last Edits of Wolfskin. When I was halfway through all you’d get from me were growls and snarls.) You may have to replenish your red pen supply by the time you’re finished, though.

Congrats! Your Last Edits are done!

Oh, did I mention the proof copy that’s going to arrive in the mail any day now? Yeah, you’re gonna find a lot more missing words in that one, too.

Enjoy it, won’t you?

10 Things I Hate Love About You Writing

I don’t say this enough, but I love writing.

It’s sometimes excruciating, often frustrating, and frequently exhausting. And it’s always satisfying.

Pic from https://thewritersadvice.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/page-hugging-a-person.jpg

There are days when I have to scrabble and scratch for every flamin’ word, glaring into the middle distance for inspiration. There are days when my fingers can’t fly across the keyboard fast enough to keep up with the flow of narrative, and I forget to do simple things like eat and drink. Then there are the days when I can see the whole thing so clearly, but each paragraph is a burden to type out; whether the problem is distraction, laziness, or exhaustion.

I wouldn’t give it up for the world. So without (much) more ado, here are the Ten Things I Love About Writing.

  1. I get to create my own worlds. Ever since I first read The Magician’s Nephew and The Last Battle, I’ve fantasized about what I’d make if I could create my own world ex nihilo. It’s probably why I loved Age of Empires so much.  

  2. I had a horrible boss once. Threw stuff at me. Bullied all his staff. Trotted his huge bulk behind me every move I made in order to try and catch me doing something, anything wrong. One of his favourite past-times was asking me every day as I wrote through my lunch break, ‘If he was going to be in my books’. Well, yes. Yes he is. I doubt he’d recognize himself, but it’s him all the same. Don’t annoy me, people.

  3. It’s perfectly permissible for me to listen to the voices in my head, and to document what they say. Admittedly when I start randomly snorting with laughter in the supermarket aisles, I get a few strange looks. But by and large, I’m safe.

  4. People buy my books. Guys, there are people out there I don’t know, who are reading my book! That’s the most surreal, delightful feeling you can imagine. And some of them love my books enough to tell me how much they love them, which is embarrassing and scintillating all at the same time.

  5. I love words. I love building them, taking them apart, studying them in different languages. I love crafting sentences with the right balance and the right nuance. I love creating rhythm and punch. I love discovering words like susurration and pulchritude and weasand. (Why, yes: I did use to read the dictionary when I was ten, why do you ask?)

  6. The more I write, the more I appreciate well-written books. (This has a downside, in that I have far less patience for badly written books; but then, why waste time on bad books when there’s so little left for good books?)

  7. Being a writer makes me look at things differently. It makes me look at people differently. Bottom line, it makes me look. It makes me pay attention.

  8. I’m never bored. Never. No matter if I’m stuck on a train or a plane or a bus, I can write. In fact, some of my most productive time (i.e. undistracted time) is when I have nothing else to do but write. I don’t understand the people at my dayjob who complain that an hour is too long for lunch. By the end of my lunch hour I’m usually typing like fury to try and get that last sentence in before I have to go back. My daydream time is precious to me.

  9. I have the most amazing dreams. Seriously. I dream in very often in whole stories, sometimes in vignettes, and even sometimes in snatches of character interaction. The trade-off is that I have very realistic nightmares; simple, terrifying, and entirely life-like. From these nightmares I frequently wake screaming, and only realize upon waking that I was, in fact, asleep. It’s worth it. It’s worth it for the euphoria every time I fly, or discover a forest city, or experience a whole world, background and story in dream. Heck, I’ve even had a subplot in one of my dreams.

  10. The sense of satisfaction is amazing. There’s almost nothing better than the feeling of achievement I get when I’ve beaten my personal record for words per day; or finished the first draft (or better still, the last) of my current WIP; or even finally arrived at that wonderful, euphoric day- publication day. The act of writing itself, is intensely satisfying. The difficulty is in stopping.

I may never reach a point in my writing career when I can quit my day job. I may become rich and famous overnight. I just don’t know (I can dream, but I don’t know). And I’m okay with that. My books are out there. There’s more where they came from, and the exercise of writing itself is so fulfilling that I don’t think I could give it up if I tried.

What about you guys? What do you love about writing?