Another year over, another review of the year. This was supposed to come out at the end of December but it has been a very hectic festive period. Right, on to the review, it’s been a great year for writing with the release of my comedy fantasy novella, at last! Also lots of poems written and my sci-fi serial novel going well. So here we go, a quick look at 2018…
Three years ago I started writing a short story to sell for 99p so I could raise money for Movember, a charity that helps men’s health causes. You grown a moustache in November and get sponsored. The short story developed into a 40,000 word novella so I felt it best to donate some money to Movember and release the book as a piece of work in its own right. After three years of writing and editing I finally released the book in both e-book and print formats. I am really happy with the story but could have done with more proofreaders. Still, I hope people enjoy it. You can get it on Amazon using the following links…
My serial novel was in its second year in 2018, again the plan was to update something every Saturday, even if it was only about 150 words. I am happy to say I managed that, updating every week. The story is now about 45,000 words long, so almost actual novel length. I will continue to update it throughout 2019. I have just got to a good bit so am excited to carry on. If you have not read it yet, it is set two hundred years in the future where a corporation runs most of the Earth. Kira, a girl living in a slum, steals some bread and is caught. She is sold into slavery, but her buyer is not the cruel man people think he is, instead he is building a resistance. If you want to read it so far you can on wattpad, just click here.
I don’t write poems that often, just four or five a year when I get some inspiration. They are housed in my collection on wattpad entitled, ‘Bad Poetry You probably never want to read.’ I managed six in 2018, which I think is pretty good. You can read the whole collection by clicking here, or head to the blog posts for each of the six poems (just click on the poem titles), they were…
January – Polishing a sheep is a so hard job – the title comes from a phrase my, then four year old, son said. It made me think of something a crazy farmer would do, for some reason it rang around my head in a west country accent. I wondered what else the farmer might do, like iron a chicken or hoover a cow. But why do that? To get them ready for a show of course!
May – A Great British Holiday – In the Easter holidays I went to stay in a holiday cottage with my parents, wife and children. We had a great time sampling the delights that the midlands had to offer, however it kept raining. This poem is my love affair with what Britain has to give to the traveller, even though the weather can be less than desirable.
August – An Ode to the Greatest Toy – As a parent you can shape your children to like the things you like, reliving your childhood through them. I made sure my son was into Lego a long time ago. We always worked together to build models, however, in the last year my son has become able to make models by himself. He now likes to rebuild old models we did together so I have been relegated to brick finder, this poem speaks of my frustrations.
October – Change – Change is a poem about a tree growing, dropping seeds and new life beginning. It was written for National Poetry Day. There is not much more to say it about it really.
November – Cancelled – I wrote this poem at a train station whilst waiting for a train after the one I should have been on was cancelled. Even more annoying was that I had rushed to get the first train. Oh well, at least it gave me an idea for a poem!
December – The Boy who Saved Christmas – My last poem of the year was released just before Christmas. The family had visited Father Christmas and the big man’s hat had fallen off. My son picked it up and gave it back to him, I like to think he may have saved Christmas. Even if he did not, I got the idea for this poem out of the situation.
So, all in all a good 2018 in terms of writing. I set my goal as ‘just write’ as usual, and I feel I definitely achieved that. So what about 2019? Well, I have never hit targets when I give myself a list of them, so I will go with ‘just write’ again. I seem to write more with less pressure on me! Having a time-consuming job and a young family also means I do not have the time to write that I would like. That said, it would be good to get my Young Adult novel, ‘The Fifth Coin,’ ready to send to publishers for query and complete the first draft of my serial novel, ‘Islands of Hope.’ I do also want to write another Super Lizard short (I’m actually part way through one) and a flash fiction for ‘The First Flash of Hope.’ So, yeah, plenty to keep me going.
Right, I will sign off with a Happy New Year, thanks for reading my stuff, and I hope 2019 is great for you. Also I hope you continue to read my work, and maybe even review one of my books on Amazon or Goodreads…please, pretty please!
It is amazing that I have actually finished a project, I seem to start so many but never get over the finishing line. So, with ‘A Close Shave with Destiny’ now out (if you haven’t got your copy you can get it on Kindle in the UK here or US here, it’s even free if you have Kindle Unlimited!) the real question is, what now?
Well, as I said I have a few projects on the go at one time, so here is what I’ll be doing…
Marketing – I will carry on promoting ‘A Close Shave with Destiny’ with numerous tweets. I will be popping up a new vlog about the story and generally badgering everyone to buy it. I have put feelers out about a blog tour and reviews of the book but am still awaiting responses, so I will carry on with that too. I’m sure if I keep annoying everyone they will give in soon!
Islands of Hope – my sci-fi serial novel will continue to get updated weekly on a Saturday. It is currently over 40,000 words long. If you have not started reading it you can access it on wattpad by going here, infact you can access it there even if you have started reading it.
Flash fiction – before I limited the number of projects I worked on at one time I stared a project called ‘The First Flash of Hope.’ It is a book on wattpad that will be composed of twenty sci-fi flash fiction stories, I had intended to update it regularly but it has fallen by the wayside. So, one of my first ports of call will be to write another flash fiction piece for the book. If you want to read what is there already you can do by clicking here.
Super Lizard – if you have followed this blog for a while you will know of Super Lizard, if not, he is a Nigerian fat-tailed Gekko who lives in North Yorkshire. He got covered in toxic waste and turned into a mild-mannered super hero (got the plot from a random plot generator!). I have written two Super Lizard ebooks, the first one is a short story, the second a collection of four short stories. Again, before limiting projects, I was part way through the first story in a new collection. After my flash fiction story, I will complete this and pop it on wattpad. If you want to read the other Super Lizard stories you can on Smashwords, just click here.
Another project – I have two other projects to look at after this, firstly is finishing editing of ‘The Fifth Coin,’ a YA novel I started for NaNoWriMo back in 2016. I need to run it through ProWritingAid and then check a paper copy, before sending it out to query. I also have ideas for a younger children’s chapter book. I may start writing that as well.
RPG – during the time I was limiting projects, I started a space based RPG. I will also continue this on and off to slowly get it finished. I have even considering doing something through Kickstarter with it.
So, plenty to keep me going. Oh, did I say I had just released ‘A Close Shave with Destiny?’ You can get a print version from the UK here, or US here. Nothing like ending a blog post with a shameless plug. Oh look, here’s a picture of some of the print copies of the book looking beautiful…
Just a quick update about two pieces of work, well one piece of work and an event. I will start with the bad news, once again I will not be taking part in NaNoWriMo. Not out of a lack of time, although it would be tight to get 50,000 words written, but because I have other projects to finish and I told myself I would finish them before starting another. OK, I did start another, creating an RPG, but I’m not going to start another till I have finished some projects I am on now. So, yeah, no NaNoWriMo this year.
Right, on to the novella mentioned in the title. If you have read any of my other posts you may know I am writing a novella set in a moustache called ‘A Close Shave with Destiny.’ Random, I know, but there is a reason. I started it three years ago as a way to get sponsorship for Movember but it expanded from a short story to a novella so I didn’t release it and will now donate a bit to Movember then just sell the novella as a normal book. Now I am on my last pass through; it is written, has been edited on a computer, run through ProWritingAid and finally I am on to editing a print version. I am almost finished the paper pass, after this it will be time to publish. Usually I would look for beta readers but I have already had someone look at it. That said, if you would like to beta read it then please got in touch. It is a lovely fantasy quest with comic tones, all set in a moustache.
Basically, to sum up, I am not doing NaNoWriMo but my novella will be out soon. Sometimes I think I could sum these blog post up in one tweet! Sorry for waffling!
I often see blog posts and tweets promoting good editing techniques, however a lot of these require money. As a hobbyist write, I want to make my work the best it can be but not by spending a lot. My main job is being a teacher, I am also a husband and father. Writing, though important, sometimes needs to take a back seat. With plenty of things that need money spent on them (food, days out, car, house etc.) I try not to spend money on my hobby when I can do a lot of the work for free. So, to those people in my situation, and any others that want to listen, here is how I edit. Is it a foolproof plan to success and great final drafts? Not by any means, it just makes me feel like my work is the best I can do on my own. Anyway, on with the show…
- Once I have written my first draft I have a read through on-screen, this is basically to see if there are any plot holes or issues I need to address. Sometimes this may be moving chapters/sections around. I generally find I do not have too many issues; as I do not get to write a lot I spend a lot of time thinking about the story, asking questions like, what would the character do in that situation? How can I get the story from a to b without missing key details? What would x look like in that situation? I also plan a lot before writing so have already done a lot of the world building and mapped out major plot points, although the bits in-between can change a lot. Therefore, this part of the editing process often does not require many changes, either that or I am rubbish at seeing plot holes!
- I read through a second time, this time looking for grammar and spelling issues. I can often fix many but a lot slip though the net. Writers are notoriously grammar blind, they read what they wanted in their head and skim over the fact the comma is missing, they have spelt the word incorrectly or have forgotten ed or s at the end of the word. That is where step three comes in…
- Now this is the only place in the whole writing space where I have spent money, and it is not even my hard-earned money! No, every year I get asked what I want for my birthday and every year (well the last two), I have asked for money to renew my subscription to Pro Writing Aid. This year I got enough birthday cash to do a two-year licence so will be able to spend my birthday money on more tat next year! It is only about £30 for a years license. Pro Writing Aid is a program you can download or add as an extension to other word processing programs. You can definitely get it for Microsoft Word but I use it with Google Docs. You can run a range of reports then go through the results to edit your manuscript. Where there is an error, it highlights and you get a choice to ignore or make one of a list of possible changes. There are lots of reports but I tend to look at writing style, grammar, overused words (I never knew how much I use the word was until I got Pro Writing Aid!) and consistency. It can take ages to run a report on a whole manuscript, and then you need to go through every change which takes many hours. I always copy sections of about one A4 page into a different document and run the reports on those then copy them back when done. A simple bit of changing text colours shows me what I have run through Pro Writing Aid, what I am working on and what I have yet to do. I suppose I should say, to be balanced, that there are other editing programs out there, I just really like Pro Writing Aid.
- The next step is the print read through, I often find that I spot different errors when I read my work on paper. I, therefore, arm myself with highlights and a pen and go through a page at a time. It is generally commas that I have missed. I then update my online manuscript as I go so I know that once done I can get into formatting.
- The final step is to get some beta readers, so far I only have one, but that is better than nothing! They read through, give you comments and point out potential mistakes. Once they are done with it I can format the book and get it out there.
What am I missing?
There are only really two steps that I think would make my editing process even better. There are…
- Paying a professional editor – These are rather expensive and I would never see any return on my investment due to not spending money on marketing. I would really have to go for it, moving from a hobbyist to telling myself I am an actual author and throwing my weight behind my claim. I am not confident enough in myself and do not want to bankrupt my family, so am not going down this route. If a publisher came along and offered me a deal then I would happily get a professional editor; I can dream!
- A critique partner/partners – This would be great, to have someone to look at my work and give me advice. The two problems here are that I do not have lots of time to meet up but, worse than that, I do not think I have the time to read other people’s work in a critical capacity, therefore would be letting them down. I have not searched for a critique partner but have thought about it. If someone approached me then I would give it a go, but for now I am happy to just say I wrote a book! Also no-one is telling me my story is rubbish, which it probably is!
Where am I with editing current projects?
Before the two projects I am currently working on, I did not have Pro Writing Aid. Also previous work I have done is either short stories or collections, so I basically read through them twice and looked for errors. Needless to say, there are still errors in the books! Of they two projects I am on, my novella, ‘A Close Shave with Destiny,’ is almost ready to go. I jumped the boat, getting over excited by people seeing my work, so have already sent it to my beta reader who got back to me. This was before I had even used Pro Writing Aid. Therefore, I am doing my final print check then it will be released. My other project, ‘The Fifth Coin,’ has been read through twice and is sitting waiting till I release ‘A Close Shave with Destiny.’ I will then run it through Pro Writing Aid, do a print read and get some beta readers. An interesting development is that I won a competition for a query letter edit so I may have a good query letter for ‘The Fifth Coin.’ I may actually submit it to publishers! As you can expect, working full-time and having a young family, it takes me ages to edit. I am also writing a serial, ‘Islands of Hope,’ which I update every week on wattpad. This is to show that I am releasing work. Here I read through the section twice and run through Pro Writing Aid. As updates are anywhere from two hundred to a thousand words it does not take long, a sort of editing as you go type affair.
Anyway, there we are. That is how I edit, whilst trying to spend as little money as possible. I hope reading this blog post helps you with your editing. If you have any questions or advice then please do contact me. Cheers!
So here we are, it is New Year’s Eve and I am at home. Not because I am some sort of loser (I am but that is by the by!) but because I have children and all my friends who live near me have children and there is no childcare. On top of that I always feel New Year’s parties are a bit of enforced fun so do not mind missing out, although I will go if I ever get invited!
Anyhow, it is the last day of 2017 and so it is the time to do one of those reviews of the year. Nothing like a good self-indulgent blog post to end the year! So here goes…
A few year ago I noticed that I was not hitting targets set for myself; work and family life are so busy that I never get anything done in the time frame I expect. I decided for one year to say that my target was just to write. That year was last year and was my most effective year of writing. I decided to do the same this year and, guess what? Yeah I have written even more. So much so that I cannot review in just a few built points so I am going to use different headings this time around…
I continued to write poems sporadically in 2017 and place them in my collection ‘Bad Poetry You probably never want to read.’ If you feel inclined you can read all my poems on wattpad. I managed five poems in 2017, the first of which was posted on the first day of the year (don’t expect the same to happen next year i.e. tomorrow!) and is about how my daughter keeps slyly stealing my glasses. It is entitled ‘The Glasses Ninja.’ I really wanted to move away from comic poems and my wife told me that my rhymes are a bit forced so I spent the longest I have ever spent on a poem writing ‘The Tale of the Vitae Plant.’ This poem was written for National Poetry Month and is about a great voyage, I tried to make a rhythm but it did not work so it really does dispense with many literary effects. I tried to evoke the feeling of an old poem set in the 1800s, I hope I achieved that.
With two children now running about parenting was getting difficult in April so I put my frustrations into a poem entitled ‘Parenting (or I love you but please leave me alone for five minutes).’ It is a tongue in cheek look at the stresses of being a parent and just wanting a little time to yourself. For the next poem I tried something a little different, I was trying to emulate Dr. Seuss as I had been reading a lot to my son, I therefore went for a nonsense poem about a farmer, where I created a range of funny animals. The poem is called ‘The Nonsense Farmer.’ The last poem of the year was in September and was released for National Poetry Day. I did not really like the theme of freedom that was given but tried to create something. Everything I thought of felt a little fluffy and unreal so I finally settled on an acrostic poem entitled ‘Freedom’ but linked it to being a slave to technology. I think that it is quite clever by you might not! The poems dried up after September due to another project which I will talk about later.
The First Flash of Hope
I had written a flash fiction story for publication in a free magazine the other year that did not get published. I enjoyed writing a story in only a thousand words so decided I would complete a book of twenty of them. As the first story was sci-fi I thought I would do all of them under the genre of sci-fi. I had made a list of some stories I could do but left it there. The plan was to release it only on Smashwords. However I realised I would never get it done unless I wrote them sporadically and updated slowly on wattpad. So this year I started releasing sci-fi flash fiction under the title of ‘The First Flash of Hope.’ The first was released in February and is the story that I tried to get published in a magazine, it is entitled ‘The Other Side of Mars.’ Even though I have a list of topics, the next flash fiction update, in April, was a new idea that sprung into my head. It is about a person who has a bionic arm fitted only for it to be used to hack information, unbeknown to the lead character. It is called ‘Bionic Hacker.’ The last flash fiction piece of the year was a little bit sillier, it looked at a planet that was ruled by ducks, a bit of a pastiche of Planet of the Apes. However, at the end all is not what it seems. The story is called ‘Planet of the Ducks.’ It was released in June and was the last flash fiction I wrote in 2017, again this was due to the project I will mention later.
A Close Shave with Destiny
If you have followed this blog you will know that I have written a fantasy novella set in a moustache entitled ‘A Close Shave with Destiny.’ I have been editing it for a long while as I intend to charge for it, releasing it in print and ebook, so want to make it the best I possibly can. This year I have finished two passes of it and got feedback from a beta reader. I am now running the book through my editing program, Pro Writing Aid. Once done it will, finally, be ready to release. I did manage to do something else I was very proud of this year, not only did I create the cover but I actually drew the image on the front. As I am a terrible drawer I am quite impressed with what I produced, you can see it here.
The Fifth Coin
Again, if you have followed this blog you will know that I have been writing a novel called ‘The Fifth Coin.’ This is a young adult novel that I won NaNoWriMo with last year, I did not take part this year due to time constraints. I am at the editing stage and have finished two passes of this but am not focusing on it at the moment, instead I want to continue with the other project and getting ‘A Close Shave with Destiny’ released. You may or may not hear more about this next year.
Islands of Hope
The other project I have mentioned is ‘Islands of Hope.’ This came about after talking to a friend who told me of a serial novel he really enjoyed. I thought that by setting myself the challenge of writing something each week and updating it I could at least be releasing some of my work and building up a novel. I have been writing between five hundred and a thousand words each week and editing them using Pro Writing Aid then uploading to wattpad. The novel is a sci-fi one about a dystopian future where a company has taken over most of the world. A girl steals some bread and is taken in by the company then sold on as a slave only to be sold to the revolution. So far it is around thirteen thousand words long but is growing each week. You can read it by going here.
Right, so it appears I actually did quite a lot of writing this year! I suppose I should talk about plans for next year. It seems that the idea of ‘just writing’ works well for me. I will say this though, I hope to publish ‘A Close Shave with Destiny’ and hope I continue to keep up the ‘Islands of Hope’ updates. Ok, so that is it, I hope I have not waffled to much. All that is left to say is have a happy new year and a great 2018 and here’s to more successes!
I usually weigh up the amount of time I have and the key ideas I have for a story then decide I can complete NaNoWriMo, even if it means neglecting my family. However this year I have decided to be a bit more pragmatic. I will not being taking part in NaNoWriMo, but not due to time available or lack of ideas. I have come to realise that I cannot keep starting new projects and leave myself with a pile of unfinished and unedited work. This year, instead of starting a new novel, I will be passing ‘A Close Shave with Destiny’ through ProWritingAid as my final piece of editing for the novella. That should mean that I can get it realised for Christmas or just after. Unfortunately it will not be beta read as my beta readers all lead busy lives and have not managed to have a look at the book. At least, though, it should be one project I can tick off. I will still be writing ‘Islands of Hope’ so expect weekly updates to continue. All in all then, although I am not competing in NaNoWriMo this year, something good will come out of it.
Well this is a strange post for me, I am not a massive Disney fan and I shy away from any of their princess stuff. Maybe I am heading into that territory as I have a daughter now.
Anyhow, on with the post. We recently went to Granny and Grandad’s house where we found that Granny had recorded Moana to watch with the kids. After having seen parts of Frozen and being left very cold (pun most definitely intended!) I was not exactly excited at the prospect. My only other knowledge of Disney princesses had been the twee loved up sort who seem happy to be subservient as long as they get to marry the handsome prince, live in a big castle and be supplied with beautiful dresses. The sort of rubbish that stereotypes little girls and almost tells them that material goods are the most important thing. Strangely the only Disney princess movie I have every really wanted to watch is Mulan and I have never seen that one. I am guessing it is different to the others.
Basically I ducked out of the viewing of Moana and was then bombarded with how brilliant it was. I had to watch it so I could at least make jokes at the movie’s expense. However, when I watched it I actually thought it was pretty good. Yeah it is cutsie in parts and there is a lot of singing but it was fun and the songs are actually quite good. The thing that struck me most was the lack of a love story. Moana is not there to marry a pretty man, she is there to save her people. She is more like batman than a princesses (which is awesome!). She is strong, determined and intelligent as well as having a heart by caring for her family and friends. These are the attributes I would like my daughter to have not just a wardrobe of pretty clothes (although she can have that as well if she can afford it).
Moana is also not overpowered, her strength and speed are in balance with how it would be in real life. She just uses her intelligence and determination to get jobs done. Apart from the fact she is a cartoon, she is a real female and a positive role model for girls. I think the thing that makes the writing of her so strong is that Disney have thought about what makes a good character and not a stereotypical girl. She is not full of the classic princesses but also is not all girl power. In fact, if you got the two main characters of Moana and Maui and changed their genders it would not change the story one bit. In my opinion that is great writing. Yes there are some nuances that only males and females have but I would rather see well written characters in general rather then a well written man or well written women.
So, something I do not say very often, well done Disney. Moana is the princess that young girls need to show they can do whatever they want, not with flitting eyelids and feminine charms but with intelligence and determination. I get the feeling that Disney’s response to this would be, “you’re welcome!”
Finally, a film can’t be bad if it has the line, “oh I see what she did, she covered a barnacle in bio-luminescent algae,” in it! I seriously laughed for about ten minutes after that one!