Friday, 26 December 2014

Making Choices

We've reached the end of Round 4 for 2014 and this blog has been very quiet. Let me explain why.

Not long after posting my goals, some small voice inside me spoke very frankly and said, "You cannot do justice to two significant commitments in your life." (I think there's a quote in the Bible somewhere about a man not being able to serve two masters... That was the gist of the idea here, too.)

I have a vision of the type of Mother I know is right for me and my family. I also had a good insight into the type of Writer I am, delving deep into the process and staying there for hours.

Never the twain shall meet, as they say. Because the delving deep is part of who I am, and delving deep into Motherhood is no exception.

Trying to fulfill both commitments was making me very unhappy. I could not fully concentrate on either one. I'd have ideas I'd be daydreaming over when my family needed my attention,  or I'd be pondering some family issue while I was supposed to be writing.

Commiting to something means making sacrifices somewhere else, and when I looked at it clearly, time with family was not something I was willing to put aside. It just wasn't working, and it was this struggle that was causing me grief, a lot of which spilled out into this blog, and I thank all my fellow ROWers for their support during those times.

So, I made a decision. For the foreseeable future, writing is no longer a priority. My focus is solely on my young family and my husband.

And that decision has given me so much relief. I can breathe again. No more torment over not reaching goals. No feelings of frustration any more. I've freed up so much energy and time and I feel far more relaxed than I have in ages. I'm actually enjoying myself again, living in each moment as it arrives. And I can see the difference in my family. They are also more relaxed and calm.

It's not a farewell to writing for ever, just farewell for now. It's the right decision and, in the end, it wasn't even a very difficult one. It made sense. For me and for my values and for my family.

Wishing all my fellow ROWers a happy holiday season and many, many blessings in 2015. :)

Monday, 6 October 2014

Another Round Beginneth!

I'll make this short and sweet, although I've a lot I'd like to say about the whys and wherefores.

Let's skip that for this post.

Goals for Round 4

  • Write the 5 short stories/flash fictions for the Bingo Card Challenge
  • Bonus Goal: Working on the revision for TWB (there'll definitely be a post about this soon).

This is a blog hop, so be sure to check out the other ROW80ers here. :)

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Round 3 2014 - Final Check In

"Alice Springs ridge". Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons -
I was away on a 5 day retreat a couple of weeks ago. In Alice Springs. And since then, something has shifted inside me. I still can't pinpoint exactly what it is, but something seems to be simmering away. Calmly, but simmering nonetheless. :)

So, I'm not sure what this means in terms of writing, but for the final check in, let me share what I was doing before I went to Alice.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

August Recommended Reads

Last month, there were no books I read that I could recommend to others, but there are plenty for August. :)

This post contains affiliate links. This does not alter the cost of the books, but simply means that I will earn a small commission should you decide to buy the books through these links.

Silver Shadows by Richelle Mead

Once I saw this book in the bookshop, I couldn't leave without it. I absolutely love and adore this series because Sydney has some real obstacles to overcome: racism and going against everything she's been taught to believe is right.

The Bloodlines Series is a paranormal series, so the race in question are the Moroi (good vampires), while Sydney is a member of a human organisation sworn to cover up any activities that might lead humans to discover vampires exist.

Plenty of romance, but Mead does conflict so well. When things go wrong, they really go wrong. When they go right, it's only a matter of time before something will go wrong.

Unputdownable, and a keeper on my shelf.

Trinity Rising by Elspeth Cooper

Yes, oh yes, oh yes. I love the new character that's been introduced, Teia. Her journey in particular has been a pleasure to read and I can't wait to see how it will interact with Gair's and Tanith's. Everything is building to a crescendo, slowly but surely.

I did check the ending of the next book in the series, The Raven's Shadow, and to my surprise I find it's not the final book in a trilogy. There'll be a fourth book which will end the series. I've got mixed feelings. On the one hand I love reading the books, on the other I really want a HEA so I can leave all the tension behind!

But yes, on the whole, it's good to know that there's another two books waiting for me to dive into.

Ransomwood by Sherryl Jordon (MG)

I don't normally read Middle Grade, but I was drawn to the cover and the blurb on the back appealed to me, so I got it.

It's told from an omniscient narrator's point of view and the viewpoint character will change over the course of a scene, but it was all so well done, so simply done, that I never felt like I was being pulled out of the novel. In fact, it was more like looking at a pattern where every thread is connected and I look at one particular thread for a few minutes, and then another, and then step back to see the whole section (scene).
It was a lovely story, well told, had me teary-eyed in places, and ended with a HEA but not in any contrived or forced way.

Definitely a keeper on my bookshelf. It won the Australian Young Readers' Book Award in 2013. Well deserved in my opinion.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Words cannot do justice to how I feel after finishing this book. It's an absolute treasure. The characterisation in this story is EXCELLENT. And I love how the themes and motifs were worked together to add layers.

A beautiful, fascinating, insightful story - set during World War II - told extremely well. I found myself laughing at some things and in tears at others.

Even though it's a YA novel, there is no colouring with rose-coloured tints. The good is lovely, the bad is harrowing. It has won several awards and it's a definite keeper.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Moving Through Challenges, Lessons Learned

Image by FidlerJan courtesy of

Isn't it funny how, when you're going through a challenging time, things come to your attention that could possibly provide a way through?

I had three things show up this week.

Monday, 18 August 2014

The Value of Having Fun

Photo taken by my husband  :)
 Grumbling turned out to be a very worthwhile exercise, believe it or not. It helped me to work out why my writing's ground to a halt.

An imbalance between Responsibility and Fun.

I've not pencilled in time for fun for a LOOOOOOONG time. Because Fun just doesn't seem as important as other things. Fun can wait...

Hang on, what's Fun again?

Even my down-time has taken on a note of desperation - "Quick, I've got half an hour, RELAX!, connect to heart, NOW NOW NOW QUICK" - yeah. Not so good.

Pure and simple, I've allowed the daily grind to grind away at my ability to let my hair down and have fun.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Starting Over - this time with Heart

From this...
Grumpy Cat
By Yesterdaywastomorrow (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
I'm a grumbler, I've noticed.
When something doesn't go the way I want it to, I get cross and cranky.
When I set goals and don't meet them, I feel ashamed. And disappointed. And sad.
And then cross and cranky.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Goals & the Value of Slowing Down

First, let's take a look at my goals for last week to see what I've accomplished:
  • Keep up to date with the DIY MFA prompts
Day 1 went fine, Day 2, sort of. And after that - the less said the better.
  • Comment on my ROW80 team's blogs
I'm doing that tonight, commenting on both Wednesday's and today's blogs.

Which leads nicely into something I read in a newsletter I'm subscribed to.

Writing is a luxury.

If it's not what you do for a living, then it's a luxury.

You'd think- I know I used to! - that it would be so easy to just pencil in a half hour or a couple of hours or whatever to sit down and write. But it just doesn't work like that. Not in my life, anyway. Sure, I can pencil in writing times, but that's no guarantee they're going to happen!

So that's why I tried the ol' 15-minute writing experiment. If I can't get a 2 hour session, then let's get at least one 15-minute session per day.

Which will segue nicely into one achievement (of sorts) that I didn't plan for this week.

In the one and only 15 minutes I had this week, I wrote the grand total of two ideas on a scene beat sheet for my opening scene.

(Why am I back to the novel again after walking into a brick wall with my hero? Well, it occurred to me that the hero doesn't really come into the novel in a significant way until Sequence 2, so there was no reason why I couldn't go back and write the new scenes for Sequence 1.)

Jim Denney explained why it's hard to write when anything emotional crops up. (Go check out his book Writing in Overdrive. It's a gem.) And I can't think of anything more emotional than where I'm at in my life right now.

Goal setting

So where does this leave me in terms of ROW80? If I can't guarantee regular writing time, how am I to achieve any goals I set? There's nothing more disheartening than setting goals and not being able to reach them.

I'm very slowly making my way through a Waldorf online course at the moment - should have considered that when I set those goals! - and one of the aspects of Waldorf in early childhood that I love is the idea of a daily rhythm, of slowing down, of being in the moment, of the child knowing what's going to happen throughout his day and feeling safe and nurtured in his world.

Slowing down is the key. It's why I go to the Community Fires. It's why I'm drawn to the Waldorf early childhood ethos. It's why my hero's words - I can't be what you want me to be - has started me off on a spiritual journey.

This was going to be a short post, believe it or not, but the words and ideas are spilling out so I'll let them go free. Stream of Consciousness-style.

Anyway, I haven't a clue where my writing fits into a 'Live in the Moment' life that is slow and mindful. Maybe I need to go to a quiet place, get slow and mindful, breathe deep and just ask the question and see what answer I get.

I'll make THAT my goal for this week.

Please check out the other ROW80 writers to see how they're doing this week.

Shan's comment below reminded me that I actually do write every day - I keep forgetting about my journalling! I'm a writer. Maybe I'm not a novelist, but I AM a writer. :)

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Something Unexpected

Claude Monet, Impression, soleil levant, 1872
Impression, Soleil Levant, 1872, Claude Monet, via Wikimedia Commons

A week or so ago, while trying to figure him out so I could start plotting the next set of index cards, my hero said "I can't be what you want me to be."


That statement ground my writing to a halt. It made me question why I write and what exactly I was trying to make the character be that he couldn't be.

I learned a lot about what I write and what drives me to write it. And in learning about why I write, I learned something about what it is I seek in my own life.

I also learned that before I can write this story, I need to journey towards what it is I seek in life.

That makes sense, doesn't it?

Stories are powerful. They're just as powerful for the people who tell them as they are for the people who receive them.

I haven't stopped writing altogether, though. I've written this post. I'm doing a LOT of journal-writing.

I'm also doing a writing challenge for the month of August - the DIY MFA August Challenge - Conquer the Craft in 29 Days. Participants receive one prompt each day for 29 days in August and each prompt has been picked by Gabriela to cover a different writing craft area so that we should all be writing better by the end of August. You can find a checklist of the different prompts on the page I linked to above to see what's coming up.

I've covered Day 1 (Yay) and I'm looking forward to tomorrow's prompt.

Goals for the coming week:

  • Keep up to date with the DIY MFA prompts
  • Comment on my ROW80 team's blogs
Check out the other ROW80 blogs and have a good week. :)

Sunday, 20 July 2014

I Need a Hero!

I've finished the index cards for Sequence 1 of Act 1 - for anyone who's interested, I'm writing my scenes following the screenwriting/film Sequence model. I'll put some links to more information at the end of the post. Sequence 1 ended with the Inciting Incident - about half way through Act 1.

I'm still using Susan Dennard's revision process and working through the first draft index cards. I've identified the major turning points/story milestones on the existing cards and it's easier to see the gaps and missing story elements here instead of trawling through pages of typing.

I've also made myself some storyboards for each sequence and used some small post its to do something I learned from Jim Denney's "Writing in Overdrive" - brainstorming and clustering. This technique alone from that ebook has helped me develop the index cards for Sequence 1 and it was so much fun!

I wrote out all the elements I wanted to include - what had to happen, potential locations, props, characters involved - and then 'clustered' which means I put post its together with other post its if they felt like a good fit. It was great fun, painless, it felt quick (that's because it was so much fun!) and productive. My kind of writing exercise! :) A big thank you to Jim Denney for introducting me to this technique.

So now I'm at Sequence 2 and I hit a wall. Because this is where I introduce my love interest. And he's been a shadowy creature all along. I had stuff figured out for him, backstory etc., but it never felt right and he was planned just enough to give me my first draft. But now, for the revision, I need to know more. I need some concrete details and I need them to bring him to life. No more shadows, thank you.

What I do know, now that I've finished the first draft, is his role in the story, and how exactly he helps my heroine to deal with her flaw and wound. Two things I needed to write my first draft first to figure out. Now it's time to breathe some life into him as a character in his own right. That's my next step in the revision process.

Susan Dennard had an interesting post (, and it was a huge relief to find that I'm not the only one who uses a stand-in for the first draft until the details of what's required for the hero to be and do are known.

While all this has been going on in the background, I've been spray painting t-shirts that got stained (small children will tend to do that to clothes!), making over a jewellery holder (I'll post pics when it's finished), and I finished my sponsor post for ROW80. Phew!

And, as promised, here are some links to sequences:

Here is a link to a very helpful scene writing post and template by Caroline Norrington:

ROW80 goals update for the coming week:
  1. Make inroads into developing a living, breathing love interest;
  2. Finish at least 1 of the flash fiction I started;
  3. Check in with my ROW80 team.
Have you any advice on how and when you finalise the details for your hero/heroine/love interest?

And please visit some of the other ROW80 writers. :)

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Over the Starting Line, Round 3

Image by Paul Brennan courtesy of

What I've achieved since last blogging

  • Wrote and sold an article on Fast Drafting which is due to appear in the October edition of Vision for Writers, just in time for NaNo 2014;
  • Created my story's Magic System - the purpose of a Magic System is to serve the story, so creating it once the first draft is written is probably not such a bad idea. Having created the system, I now have some further ideas for scenes and ways to avoid Talking Heads;
  • Mindmapped the Theme of my story and uncovered several more elements to include in the novel, including a secondary character, and also deeper layers to lay down.

Goals for Round 3

  • Finalise all the scene index cards my story is going to need for the second draft;
  • Finish the four flash fiction that I started in Round 2;
  • Set a date in Round 3 to undertake the short story writing challenge in Jim Denney's "Writing in Overdrive";
  • Write and finish 6 more flash fiction;
  • Create an anthology with the 10 flash fiction, ready to indie-publish;
  • Support my team of ROW80 bloggers once a week, most likely every Sunday.
I'd like to get my blog for time-challenged writers up and running and post to it once a week (in addition to posting here for ROW80) but this is a bonus goal - whatever I manage to get done, I'll be happy with!

And please support the other blogs in the ROW80 challenge. :)

Sunday, 29 June 2014

June Recommended Reads

Please note that this post contains affiliate links which does not alter the cost of the books, but simply means that I will earn a small commission should you decide to buy the books through these links.

Pathfinder by Orson Scott Card

Putting his controversial beliefs aside, Orson Scott Card tells a fascinating story. He combines sci-fi and fantasy seamlessly and he allows the reader to put 2 and 2 together to discover the story themselves. Rich characters with abilities that I haven't ever read about before; intriguing conflict including time travel and how it might work - a seriously good story to settle down with and get lost in. I'm looking forward to reading Ruins, the sequel.

Writing in Overdrive by Jim Denney


EXCELLENT! It is chockablock full of tips and techniques and fascinating anecdotes. It's to-the-point, giving valuable information quickly and briefly that can be put to good use right away. I particularly enjoyed reading the writing challenge at the end - and I will be setting myself that challenge. Maybe during Round 3 of ROW80...

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

This got off to a slow start and I almost set it aside but I'm so glad that I didn't in the end, because the story really took off from about Chapter Seven. Now that I've finished the book I can see why Rothfuss structured the story the way he did - it's a story within a story - and it sets things up for the conflict in the framing story's present that I imagine will make much more of an appearance in future books. The ending of this book also had a twist I didn't expect.

A very entertaining read, and I'm so glad that I read it through to the end.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Contemplating Achievements and Making New Goals

Image by George Hodan at
This is the end of Round 3. Time to look back over my achievements and look forward to the goals for the next Round. I started Round 2 at the last minute and without setting any concrete goals (!!!) so this will be an interesting exercise!

  1. Started revising my fast drafted first draft of TWB;
  2. Wrote the beginnings of four flash fiction pieces;
  3. Read several writing craft books which prompted some brainstorming for the revision;
  4. Learned how important it is not to view an unsatisfactory first draft as a whole and toss it into a dusty corner. Each first draft is made up of parts and some of those parts, be they scenes or images or plot points, are well-worth saving for subsequent re-writes;
  5. Created a love list to remind me why this story is so important to me and to help me stay motivated;
  6. Created a playlist for my heroine's Mask and Identity
  7. Started a new non-fiction project designed to help time-challenged writers start and finish a wip - more on that in the next Round!;
  8. Worked with an illustrator to produce a design that motivates me by reminding me that writing can still happen in short sessions of 15 minutes or so;
  9. Didn't give up on my writing when the whole family came down sick and I fell into a short moment of despair;
  10. Monitored my writing habits and discovered that I DO write daily even if it's not always on the wip I'm revising. I prepare blog posts, comment on other blogs, write down notes, work on other story ideas, journal, and so on;
  11. Started a new writing habit, my version of Julia Cameron's Morning Pages. I write for 15 minutes in my writing journal about anything writing-related;
  12. Created a checklist worksheet (just today in fact) to help me with the revision of TWB. I've triaged the scene index cards and the checklist will help me to see where I need to add more scenes to round out the story;
Goals for Round 3:
  • I'd like to get my blog for writing-challenged writers up and running and post to it once a week (in addition to posting here for ROW80);
  • I'd like to finalise all the scene index cards my story is going to need for the second draft;
  • I'd like to finish the four flash fiction that I started this Round;
And I'll leave it at that. Between now and the start of Round 3 I may have more goals I'd like to add, but these are a good place to begin.

Please check out the other ROW80 blogs here.

Have you settled on your goals for the next Round? And for anyone not taking part in ROW80, how do you plan goals, or do you plan goals at all?

Friday, 20 June 2014

Index Card Terror, Identity, Masks & Music

Image by George Hodan courtesy of
In his comment on my last post, my fellow ROW80 writer, John Holton, reminded me of a project I was working on a couple of weeks ago. Briefly, I was setting myself the challenge of finding a way for time-challenged people - particularly mothers because this is the perspective I'm coming from - getting a novella or novel completed in 15-minute writing sessions throughout a busy day.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

On Being a Writer

Image by Karen Arnold at
Writers work alone, but they can't do it alone. Writers need support. (Read: I need help.)

In order to turn away from the world and focus on my writing, I need to know that the life I'm leaving outside my writing space will still be there when I come back to it; intact and everyone in it safe. Maybe it's just me, and some of the other ROW80 writer-mothers can chime in on this, but I worry that if I'm not around, Things Will Happen Which I Did Not Foresee And Therefore Could Not Take Measures To Guard Against.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

ROW80 update #2 for June

Image courtesy of
This is going to be a very short post. I'm slap-bang in the middle of a viral infection which has affected me, my husband and our little guy. Happily, Little Guy is bouncing back very quickly. It's good to know he has a very healthy immune system. Mine, on the other hand, is not bouncing back nearly as quickly. I'm alternating between feeling hot and cold. My ears, nose and throat ache. My bones feel hollow. I have very little energy, and only Nurofen is helping with the agonising task of swallowing and speaking around the gravel in my throat. The homeopathics I got on Friday have helped me turn the corner, and I should be feeling a bit more like myself very soon.

Goals for last week

  1. Comment on 3 ROW80 blogs at least; commented on five or six if I remember correctly
  2. Finish at least 2 of the flash fics; Er, no. Nada.
  3. Get started on phase 3 of the revision a la Susan Dennard's Revision Guide. No. <sigh>

Unplanned Achievements

  1. I read several writing craft books, and bought two. Writing in Overdrive: Write Faster, Write Freely, Write Brilliantly by Jim Denney and 2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love by Rachel Aaron; I already own Write Your Novel From The Middle: A New Approach for Plotters, Pantsers and Everyone in Between by James Scott Bell;
  2. I monitored my writing habits and discovered, to my surprise, that I actually DO write every day. Even when I'm sick. However, I do not work on the same project every day. Some days, journalling is all I'm good for. Other days, my mind is teeming over with ideas for one or other of the current WsIP and I write them down. Some days, I'll prepare a blog post. Or leave comments on other blogs. Some days I want to actually WRITE write - you know, work on a piece of fiction (which up until now is the only thing I've considered proper writing);
  3. I've worked on a writing project which is still in the conceptual stages so I won't say much about it for now. It was inspired by my blog post last week (on writing advice) and the comments I received - thank you all once again! - and it just caught fire in my imagination. Of all the writing-related activities, I worked on this the most.

Goals for next week

  1. Comment on three other ROW80 blogs;
  2. Write the Mirror Moment for my revision-in-progress (RIP? Eeek);
  3. Create a badge for the writing project;
  4. Finish one of the flash fictions (I know Holly's course specifies working on 5 flash fics at once, but I really do not feel up to that right now, so if I set myself a target of one, and reach it, I'll be happy).
And, as always, be sure to check out the other ROW80 blogs. :)

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Flash Fiction, Life & Resistance

One of my goals for this week was to write some flash fiction. I am happy to report that I got started on not just one but FOUR flash fiction pieces.

May Book Recommendations

Please note that this post contains affiliate links which does not alter the cost of the books, but simply means that I will earn a small commission should you decide to buy the books through these links.

(Kindle ebook only) The Story Within Plotting Guide for Novelists by Alicia Rasley

This wonderful little ebook made me think about how I had set up my story (the one that's at the start of the second draft stage). Had I just grafted exciting elements onto the story instead of looking for the exciting elements that already existed within the story? Because, for one thing, the way I had the story set up was going to make it much harder to establish genre, something writers need to do within the first fifty pages.

"Instead of looking for excitement, novelty, innovation on the outside, find it inside the story."

Rasley's approach is particularly suited to pantsers or writers who tend more towards pantsing than plotting - "I'm not going to give you schemas of external structure or plot grids or even hard and fast rules for developing a story". Instead, she promises that writers will learn about structure organically.

A superb writer's guide that I highly recommend, especially if you're more of a pantser than a plotter.

Drawing on the Power of Resonance in Writing by David Farland

If you love writing, if you love words, if you love learning more about how other writers (particularlyTolkien) wrote and why they did it the way they did, then this book is going to please you. I read it in one go, I just couldn't put it down. It's not a long book, but it's a joy to read.

"So dig deep into your own personal experiences, but also learn to tap into cultural phenomenon - into myths, religion, global politics, major motion pictures and books, and even internet memes in order to establish resonance. Draw from the whole of your life, and from the rest of the world."

(David Farland, by the way, was Stephanie Meyer's and Brandon Sanderson's teacher!)

The Edge of the Water by Elizabeth George

I loved this book. George writes internal character arcs and relationship conflicts like no one else I know. I loved the characters, the pacing, the dialogues.

This book in the series features a mystery, some teenage sleuths and a story with a paranormal twist.

I always enjoy Elizabeth George's novels, both this YA series and her Inspector Lynley books. This book  is a keeper.

Million Dollar Outlines by David Farland

For someone who doesn't consider herself a plotter, this would appear to be strange reading material, but if Stephanie Meyer and Brandon Sanderson were taught by David Farland, then I want to be taught by him, too!

I haven't yet finished this book but I've learned so much in just the first two or three chapters. For instance, in the section on Finding Themes in Your Tale: "Every story is an argument." (WOAH. Seems obvious to me now, but I'd never considered genre fiction from that angle before.)

And this: "...a far more interesting villain is one who is faced with moral choices, who struggles with them, and does not always do what is evil. He sometimes shows mercy. He sometimes is benevolent. But in the end, when faced with his biggest challenge of all, he falls. In other words, your story should not start with a villain, but should grow a villain."

And his take on the purpose and power of stories and the "principles to writing a formed story" resonated deeply with me.

So, briefly, I've read a number of things in the first few chapters that I've not encountered anywhere else, to my recollection, or, if I did, it's only now that these ideas are sinking in and taking hold. (Because sometimes you need to hear something more than once for it to make sense.)

Definitely a keeper on my bookshelf and a book I'll dip into before every session to get me in writing mode.

Monday, 26 May 2014

Another Revision Milestone Reached

Last night I finished writing out the 'one index card per scene' exercise for my first draft. (I'm following Susan Dennard's Revision Guide.) And I learned that writing a complete scene - with a protagonist, antagonist, scene goal and scene conflict - is something I need to learn how to do properly. The number of scenes that I wrote without a true conflict in them were an eye-opener.

Monday, 19 May 2014

A birthday, a break, and back to revision.

It was my birthday last week and I was whisked away on a surprise trip. Thankfully, I was warned a couple of days in advance so that I had time to pack. The revision work came with me, but remained in its bag untouched for the duration of the trip away.

But now I'm back and I've started writing out the index cards for each scene, noting protagonist, antagonist, scene goal and scene conflict as per the instructions in Lesson 2 of Susan Dennard's revision guidebook.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Revision, the second draft, & lessons learned.

Image courtesy of Maliz Ong on
I've finished the read-through and note-taking for the first draft. Yay! It took 15 days in total, but I didn't do it in 15 consecutive days. I did one 5K section at a time, just as I did when I fast-drafted. I learned a lot from the process which I'd like to share here.

  1. Fast drafting WORKS. I wrote things into my story that I would never have thought of if I'd plotted it all out beforehand. A plot blueprint would have kept my focus in specific places, whereas the freedom that came from following Jami Gold's beatsheets and using the fast drafting method meant that my subconscious could direct the flow much more. Fast drafting was tough, but it was so worth it.

Monday, 28 April 2014

April Book Recommendations

Of the books I have read this month, these are the ones that I highly recommend. (The images/links below are affiliate links which does not affect the price but means that I will earn a small commission if you decide to purchase any of the books.)

Darkness Hidden by Zoe Marriott
A very different read in that it incorporates Japanese culture and mythology. I loved the protagonist's quirky humour and her voice. There's no sparing of emotions, either. When something bad happens, it's not done by halves. A great read, and I'm looking forward to the sequel.

Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers
Excellent book. The second in the Fair Assassin series. LaFevers pulls no punches. Visceral, shocking twists. A must read. I loved it so much that I bought both books in the series after returning the copy I read to the library. The third book comes out sometime in the northern hemisphere summer of 2014.

Writing your Novel from the Middle by James Scott Bell.
A short book that can be read in an hour or two, but one I'm keeping near to hand because of the invaluable tips and tricks he shares. He also shows how both plotters and pantsers can use his techniques and there is a bonus section with five different tips on generating ideas, writing quickly, voice, showing vs telling, and writing page-turners.

Jodi Henley's Practical Emotional Structure is an ideal companion handbook to Writing Your Novel from the Middle as it will be a big help in understanding what you need to understand in order to create the most relevant piece of backstory for your characters' story arcs.

The First 50 Pages by Jeff Gerke
This is, without question, a very valuable resource on a writer's bookshelf. Not only does it tell you what you need to achieve in the first 50 pages, but also HOW TO DO IT. This one's a keeper. I love it, especially the section on what you need to do with your main character in the first fifty pages.

Songs of the Earth by Elspeth Cooper
An alternate middle ages setting in a fantasy world. Great characters, but for me, the story really took off from about the midpoint. After that it was simply unputdownable. I'm looking forward to the second book in the series, Trinity Moon.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

My Current WIP's "Love List"

Image courtesy of Pennywise at
Have you heard of Love Lists? Specifically a Love List related to writing?

If not, check out this post written by Stephanie Perkins on Natalie Whipple's blog:

This is my love list, something I am going to print out and keep to hand as I work through what is turning out to be a terrifying revision.

TWB's Love List
  • A feisty but distant female character with an intense emotional arc;
  • A fantastic playlist that makes me want to write well and do the story justice;
  • A fun and heartstring-pulling friendship/romance;
  • Lots of conflict between male and female protagonists;
  • Someone who is not what they seem;
  • A "finding who you really are" story;
  • Connections between past and present and other worlds;
  • Lots of danger for the protagonists and their friends

Anyone else want to join me in creating their Love Lists?

Monday, 14 April 2014

Diane Cornwell, Writing Process Blog Tour!

The next writer on the Writering Process Blog Tour is Diane Cornwell, author of over 14 fantasy and science fiction works in digital format (with 2 already in print) and with more books in the pipeline!

I met Diane when we were students of Holly Lisle's How to Think Sideways course back in 2008, and it's been inspiring to see how far she's come in her writing career since then.

You can learn more about her fiction at and head over to her writing blog at to learn more about her writing process.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Writing Process Blog Tour!

I'm taking part in a Writing Process Blog Tour and today I'm answering four questions about my process, following on from Elizabeth Greentree. I encourage you to head over to check out her blog and all the other writers in the tour. Personally, I love discovering how other writers move from the initial idea to a finished work.

Elizabeth and I are both ROW80 participants and I thoroughly enjoyed her "Five Day Writer's Retreat" (which you can check out here: and found a lot of inspiration and ideas between the pages.

I will introduce the next writer in the blog tour in my next post, and without further ado, here are my answers to the four questions.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

From Fast Draft to Second Draft!

I haven't blogged since writing, in December, about the pros and cons of fast drafting, but I have been working steadily away in the background, one step at a time, moving towards that moment when I finally sit down and tackle my second draft.

And believe it or not, I'm excited about it!