The Pantser’s Antipenultimate Panic #Novel Writing

You would have thought by now I’d have learned the pitfalls that go with being a seat-of-your pants writer. Yes, it’s exciting. Yes, it’s living dangerously. And yes, every time I reach the final third of my novel I come unstuck.

This time it’s worse than usual. Instead of writing at my usual steady pace that sees a first draft completed in six to nine months, I slammed out 50,000 words in one month during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and then only had time to write 6,000 words in December, so I literally lost the plot.

Yesterday, I wrote three pages of dialogue between two people that did little to advance the plot. I may or may not have picked up on some threads earlier in the novel, but mostly I was waffling in the dark.

On reflection, the cause of this waffling is clear: that I can’t remember what I said earlier in the novel, or what clues I laid down. When a writer reaches the stage of to-ing and fro-ing every few sentences via the keyboard shortcut [Ctrl][F], it’s akin to playing yo-yo and hoping the string doesn’t snap.

The moment of reckoning has arrived. I cannot proceed in a southerly direction, when I keep on having to retrace my steps north. If I carry on like that, I will end up tearing out my hair and casting my novel into the trash bin. But I neither want to tear out my hair nor cast my novel in the trash bin, as I’m rather fond of both items.

Thus, my only option is to stop writing and return to “Go”, even if go is situated at the North Pole. This does not involve any kind of rewrite or detailed proofreading, but a straight read through to remind me what I have written in the first two-thirds of my novel. As I’m doing this, I will write a chapter-by-chapter synopsis to save me having to do so at the end.

What am I looking for?

  • Clues
  • Revelations
  • Contradictions
  • Pacing/waffle
  • Direction
  • The story arc

And to end on a positive, what do I love the most about the novel that makes it worth saving?

  • The characters
  • The wry humour
  • The quirkiness
  • The story’s overall premise
  • The setting
  • The novel’s title

See you all when I get back from the North Pole. Only joking ūüėČ

#Tanka 33 — Light and Shadow (plus some scintillating “shades of”)

In June meadow land,
she meets her silly shadow
and it makes her laugh.
Winter’s black dog locked in cage;
birds, bees, butterflies abound.

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I dedicate this tanka poem to my shadow, which needs locking up in a cage permanently, if it can’t behave itself.

Last week, I reached the conclusion that I was flogging a dead horse with the juvenile fiction market; I just don’t write the type of novel that appeals to contemporary children or young adults. Okay, full stop and amen to that.

Fast forward to this week, by which time my shadow had convinced me that I should give up novel-writing altogether.

On Monday morning, I went to check the results of the First Three Pages of a Novel Competition¬†in The University of Winchester Writers’ Festival. As I scrolled down the page in search of them, my shadow said, “You’re deluded if you expect to find your name there, considering you’re probably up against brilliant writers, including MA creative writing students.” Then I read this…

Highly Commended: ‚ÄėCounting Magpies‚Äô ‚Äď Sarah Potter

To my utter amazement, I had reached the top six with the opening pages and synopsis of my adult speculative fiction novel. But it gets better, because in the reviewer feedback, amid some wonderfully encouraging comments, it said the magic words

…shades of Margaret Atwood and Naomi Alderman.

Well, those are some “shades” I can deal with; the sun has definitely got his hat on and is coming out to play.

Contemplating a #New Year #Book Blog Tour

Desiccation ebook_image(300 pixels)Publication Day for my Urban fantasy novel Desiccation¬†in mid-December came¬†and went without much panoply on my part. This was mainly because I was suffering from post-flu exhaustion and felt in no mood to uncork the champagne, let alone shout from the rooftops. Despite this, a modest number of wonderful people — some of them my fellow bloggers — purchased my book and, to my absolute surprise, I’ve sold paperback and kindle editions in equal quantities.

So a big thank you to all you early birds. And an especially huge thank you to Dave Farmer, who read my book over a course of a few evenings and found the time to review it on Amazon and on Goodreads before Christmas, giving it 5 stars.

Indeed, most of the world seemed distracted by the pre-Christmas rush, followed by post-Christmas malaise, plus the stagger on into New Year with no time for reading and little money left for buying books. And would you believe it, about a week before Christmas I caught a cold on top of the flu? — albeit not a bad one, but enough to drain me of any energy to market my book and enough to make me lose my singing voice just when I needed it most.

Anyway, enough of that. I’m feeling like my old self today and raring to jump into the driving seat of my virtual convertible to vroom around the blogosphere on a tour.

All invitations most welcome!

As a little post script, I’d like to add that Jamie Noble Frier, the super-talented artist who produced my book cover, now has his blog interview questions to hand and should be guesting here soon.

And yet another post script — I’ve just revised my Publication Updates¬†page¬†to include links to all the places around the world that my book is available to buy!

The Proof of the Pudding is in the Reading #Indie publishing

Proof Copy of Desiccation

The proof copy of my urban fantasy novel¬†Desiccation¬†has arrived! Here I am posing in front of my bookshelf that’s populated with the works of all those literary greats who have inspired me to write.

When I showed the book to my son, Joshua, he inspected the front and back cover, browsed through a page or two (just like someone visiting a shop or library) and declared, “Wow, it looks like a real book!”

I am so excited. But now to stay level and proofread it through with absolute concentration. The formatting looks good, but there might still be a sneaky little typo hiding somewhere.

My eBook version is ready, but waiting for conversion to html after I’m sure there are no typos in the paperback copy.

Then it’s all systems go.

But before ¬†cracking on with the last stage, I’m taking a breather until next Tuesday to spend time doing something other than book-related stuff.

Am exhausted, but jubilant…

See you all next week xxxx