This writing thing, Those Who Favour Fire, YA

Teaser Tuesday (playing for chocolate)

Since it’s Tuesday and I actually remembered for once: here be Teaser Tuesday. A tiny excerpt from the werewolves where I was experimenting on character and making a stab at humour. May not make the final revised version, and not completely polished yet, but it was fun to write. This will be taken down shortly.

Teaser taken down! Thanks for the comments. đŸ™‚

music, Those Who Favour Fire

AW Blog Chain: Music and Writing

I’m taking part in Absolute Write‘s May Blog Chain, and this month’s theme is: What does your story/character(s) sound like?

I listen to music a lot. My iPod is a permanent fixture on my way to and from work, and I usually have music on in the background when I’m at home. I write to music and I make playlists for my writing on iTunes. Each book gets its own general playlist, but sometimes when I’m on a second or third draft for a book, I’ll make a smaller playlist of music that most inspires me for it and focuses on characters or specific scenes. The music can have lyrics or be instrumental; all that matters is that it fits the character or scene.

I’m going to focus on the werewolves–THOSE WHO FAVOUR FIRE–in this post, as I have two playlists for that book and I’m still putting the finishing touches on the first playlist for the steampunk Alice book. (As you can tell, I have a habit of referring to my books through nicknames rather than their titles.) I’m going to be putting direct Youtube links in for the songs, but if you like any of them, I would definitely recommend you support the artists through iTunes or wherever you get your music.

The werewolves centres around three main themes: at what point can the idea of lying to people for their own good be taken too far; a girl realising her family has been lying and keeping secrets from her; and the same girl learning the double-edged sword of embracing her sexuality.

Continue reading “AW Blog Chain: Music and Writing”

Chasing Rabbits, This writing thing, Those Who Favour Fire, YA

Bullet points for the win!

  • I went to Edinburgh for a few days last week. It was amazing–Edinburgh has such a wonderful vibe. It’s one of my favourite cities, but I think I’d need an actual reason to live there, rather than just waking up and deciding, “Okay, I’m moving to Edinburgh.” (Granted, you never know when you’re going to wake up and make snap decisions, so never say never?) I got to meet one of my ex-flatmates and we had a lovely time catching up etc.
  • I finished revising Draft Three of the werewolves while I was over there. Had breakfast, went back to my room, and thought, “Oh, wait, I could just finish the edits here.” So I stuck the DO NOT DISTURB sign on the door and spent six hours on them. I felt brilliant when they were done. And a little hungry.
  • Draft Three went off to readers over the weekend! One of them has already got back to me and is halfway through. I should be getting some comments by the start of next week, which is putting me weeks ahead of schedule. Looks very likely that querying will begin before the end of this month.
  • I started Draft Three of my new book today! It’s a YA steampunk with Alice in Wonderland illusions allusions. No, it’s not thanks to Tim Burton. I wrote the first draft back in late 2007, started a second draft, and then put it aside because I knew I had to improve to make it the best it could be. I went off and wrote the werewolves, which taught me a lot, so I can now say that putting the Alice book aside was a good idea. I also put a word counter thingy for it in the sidebar.
  • I got to bring out all my steampunk and Alice playlists, and I’m in the process of searching for all my Victorian history books. It’s set in an alternate London, but with enough similarities to keep it recognisable, so it’s time for a history brush up. Exciting!
  • The Cheshire Cat is awesome. Trust me.
Book recommendations, Revisions, Those Who Favour Fire

Things I am loving lately

Things I am loving lately:

  • THE NAME OF THE WIND by Patrick Rothfuss.

I finished THE NAME OF THE WIND this morning, and just–wow. I closed the book and had to take a moment of stunned silence in an attempt to sort my thoughts out. It’s the most amazing thing to find a gem of a fantasy tome to work through, a fully developed and detailed world to get lost in for hours and days. I wasn’t entirely sure where everything was going towards the end of the novel, but all the revelations towards the end–! After a year of putting off reading this in case the hype didn’t live up to my expectations, I’m as desperate as everyone else for THE WISE MAN’S FEAR to come out. *wants!*

  • Glee

Glee has been airing in Ireland and the UK for the last few weeks, so my housemate and I have been watching it every week. I’m loving it so far, and my love only increases with every new episode (no spoilers, please!). We’re watching the episodes that are aired on Monday evenings, so I have something to look forward to on Mondays now. It’s a win-win situation. The way the teenagers are portrayed and the dialogue, and the way the darker issues are handled–it’s skillfully done and kind of, well, epic. Two thumbs up, and I’m looking forward to buying Volume 1 of the soundtrack soon.

  • My Writing Workshop

I’ve been attending a writing workshop that specialises in children’s and YA fiction for the past few weeks. It’s been brilliant so far. The other people in the class are lovely and there are so many good ideas being worked on. I’ve also been taking a few stumbling steps towards sucking less at reading my work aloud. It’s a massive change, being able to talk about writing with people who aren’t online, but it’s incredibly freeing at the same time.

  • My book

Heh. When the editing is good well. đŸ˜‰ Over halfway through now, almost there!

Those Who Favour Fire

Draft completed!

Over twenty months after I started the first draft, I finished the third (or fifth, if you count two rewrite attempts that went nowhere) draft of THOSE WHO FAVOUR FIRE last Thursday. I finished it at work, during my lunch. I’m currently fixing the last couple of things that changed during this draft and then it’ll be ready to go to readers. I’m both excited and terrified, but mostly excited!

Getting to the finish line, This writing thing, Those Who Favour Fire

Yay!

The weather has been wretched for the past week or so–our snow is now turning into slush–which put a slight cramp in my writing (taking the laptop outside and potentially slipping would have had… unfortunate results). I have now learned that I can’t make much progress when my housemates are in the house–there are too many distractions not even including the internet.

But now the pavements are no longer deathtraps, so I have been ensconced with my laptop in coffee shops once more! I have also reached all the drama and horrible stuff that leads to the climax, which is all very exciting and means I keep trying to write just a little bit longer. If I manage to write insanely over the next few days, I may even be finished the third draft by Sunday. If not, I will definitely be finished by next week. I can hardly believe it. In some ways, it’s quite terrifying because this will be the draft that people will read and offer opinions on.

And now, in fact, I am off to write some more! I love the happy, dizzy feeling that accompanies nearing the end of a draft.

Getting to the finish line, This writing thing, Those Who Favour Fire

Winter

Winter is very strange this year. We’ve been veering from storms and intense flooding (not in Dublin, thankfully, but Cork, where my family lives, was hammered last month) to proper icy temperatures. Winter is my favourite season, and I do like the crisp, icy mornings, but I don’t like being cold and damp. The line has to be drawn somewhere! I want my frosty mornings, please, not the rainy ones.

I’ve been doing a lot of writing in Starbucks, as usual, but the wonderful festive coffees have returned. Even better, Starbucks brought the Eggnog latte back this year (it sadly wasn’t available last year) and I’ve fallen in love with it again. It’s strange, though, as it’s advertised on the signs outside, but not on the actual boards behind the counters at all–I only discovered it was actually back by a co-worker remarking they’d seen the cartons of eggnog being delivered. I immediately rushed to get one, and I was so excited that the barista serving me laughed at my enthusiasm.

I’m still working away on the third draft of TWFF. Progress has slowed due to Chapters Eleven and Twelve needing extensive rewriting. But it has to be done–it’ll just take some slow and careful work. My glimpses of the finishing line have veered dramatically in the past week or so, but I’m getting there.

I’m in the middle of writing a blog post about female characters that should be up soon. The romantic subplot of TWFF centres around three girls, and while one of them was only introduced in the third draft, two of them have been around since I wrote the first chapter of the first draft back in May 2008. I’ve learned a lot since then about writing female characters, and how to make them realistic and complex and what makes them tick. Werewolves are normally female in the world of TWFF, while men have to be bitten to shapeshift, and that put an intriguing spin on the gender dynamics of the Pack and how they interacted with each other. Thinking about all this and shaping it into a blog post has been really interesting.

Getting to the finish line, This writing thing, Those Who Favour Fire, YA

30 Days of Writing

So today is the first of December! Not sure where the year went, to be honest, but I’m looking forward to 2010. Not just a new year, but also a new decade.

My unofficial NaNo challenge last month was to write every day during November, which I did. (I have the sticker-filled November on my calender to prove it, once my camera has recharged.) My word count veered wildly between days, and there was one evening where I wrote two paragraphs at 11.45pm and then went straight to bed, but I managed it.

I learned that it is possible to write every day, even if it’s just ten minutes I manage to squeeze in somewhere. Towards the middle of November, I realised I was automatically putting aside the time in my day based on what shift I was working (if it was a work day. It was obviously a lot easier to find time to write on my days off). In days where the writing wasn’t going well, I went back and reread previous stuff and did a bit of line-editing–anything that would keep the story fresh in my mind.

I also realised that I prefer going back and fixing things before moving on. It’s an anti-NaNo sentiment, but it makes me feel better and more confident about moving on. Being 35,001 words deep in a story isn’t as scary when you know the majority of the problems in the previous 35,000 are a little better than they were. Either way, I’m going to have to fix it, so I might as well do it sooner rather than later. This is the complete opposite to how I wrote a year ago (‘write first, fix later’), but I think I’ve been converted because it’s taken so long to fix the structural and other problems of Draft Two.

That said, no matter how long it’s taking, I’m excited about the third draft. Some characters and events have been put in that weren’t in the first or second drafts. I’ve also noticed I was stuck far less in November than in previous months, and I think the ‘rereading and going back and fixing’ idea was part of that. It’s helped pinpoint problems, or stopped them from causing trouble later on.

I’m still not entirely done, but I’m so close, and aiming to finish as soon as possible–once the Christmas rush starts in earnest I’m going to be so exhausted that writing will slow to a snail’s pace. But it’s been interesting what a month of writing every day has shown me about the changes in my writing process.

Book recommendations, Getting to the finish line, Those Who Favour Fire, YA

Nattering and book recommendations!

Apologies for the radio silence–I’ve been hard at work at getting the current draft of the werewolves into shape. I’m aiming to have it all ready to send to readers by the 1st of December (my own version of NaNoWriMo). This draft has taught me a lot about pacing and how to tackle the ‘soggy middle’ and tightening it up so it’s less… soggy. I’m treating this deadline as an official one, so I’ve been getting in writing whenever I can. It frequently involves getting up disgustingly early in the morning to hammer out words before work. As a result, I haven’t had such a regular sleep schedule in years.

I’m also going to mention some books that I read recently and loved!

Ash by Malinda Lo.

I can’t remember where I found out about this book, but once I heard about it, I was so excited. Fairies, fairy tale retellings, and lesbians–what more could you want? This is a beautiful little book, the US cover is stunning (it isn’t out in the UK until March, but that cover also looks lovely, though it’s very different), and once I started reading I couldn’t put it down. While it’s being marketed as a Cinderella retelling with a lesbian twist, there’s much more to it than that. Relationships are at the heart of this: the relationships Ash has with her mother and father; the colder and harder ones she has with her stepmother and stepsisters; and the romantic ones with Sidhean and Kaisa. The book is also about growing up and learning to move on from grief and loss, and learning to love oneself again. The lack of homophobia in Ash’s world is also interesting and a change from many of the YA LGBT books, though this also hasn’t been without its share of controversy.

The lesbian relationship is handled carefully and subtly, though Ash’s relationship with Sidhean is also fascinating, not to mention unsettling and kind of creepy. One of the things I loved most about this book is Malinda Lo’s fairies–they’re very much not human, dark, and sometimes so alien that you can’t help but fear for Ash in her dealings with them. This is a wonderful book, highly recommended, and I can’t wait for Malinda Lo’s next one.

Magic Burns by Ilona Andrews.

This continues to be my favourite urban fantasy series in years. The world-building is incredible–I love how much of the mythology from our time period has been changed and altered in Kate’s. Best of all, there’s Celtic mythology in this book and it hasn’t been messed up to such a point that I’m ripping my hair out! Ilona Andrews also continues to subvert my vampire and shapeshifter expectations, and Kate continues to be a fascinating character while remaining firmly tight-lipped about her past. Another aspect of this series that I love is that decisions have consequences and sometimes the ‘good guys’ don’t succeed without casualties. I can’t wait to read the next in the series, Magic Strikes, but I’m putting off so I won’t have as long to wait for the fourth book. If you like urban fantasy, I highly recommended this series.


Liar by Justine Larbalestier

I’m actually not going to say that much about this book because I think it’s one that people should go into knowing as little as possible. So: Micah is a liar. She’s a really good one. This book is fabulous. By the time I reached the end, I wasn’t sure of anything. It must have been a complete headache to write and keep everything straight while doing so. This is definitely one that you should pick up: highly, highly recommended.

And now, I return to plowing through my draft!