Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Some news!!

Logo of a black dog with a monocle and the name Nero's Notes

Those of you who've followed me for a while (bless you!) will know that as well as writing books, I also have somewhat of a stationery addiction! Well... I'm now managing to combine both loves as Stuart Lennon has asked me to write for the blog on Nero's Notes.

I first 'met' Stu a couple of years ago. There are quotation marks, because in fact, Stu and I haven't ever met in real life (though I hope we will one day). We were both part of a #writingchat chat on Twitter (where various writers come together via Twitter on a Wednesday night from 8-9 pm UK time, to talk about a range of topics relating to writing) and the topic for the night was writing buddies. Neither Stu nor I had a writing buddy, nor were we in any writing groups. To cut a long story short, Stu and I swapped a small chunk of writing, gave feedback to each other and have ended up good buddies ever since!

Stu is now one of my beta readers - a very select group who read my books when I'm happy enough with them I can bear the thought of someone else seeing them, but with still some work to do on them. He also shares my love of good stationery. In fact, so much so that he bought a pocket notebook company! It was originally called Pocket Notebooks, but under Stu's guidance, has become Nero's Notes.

Picture of pen, paper, envelopes and ink bottle, for letter writing
Stu is also one of the friends that I write to. Yes, I still write proper letters to people, on proper paper and put them in proper envelopes, add a stamp and post them. In fact, my very first blog post for Stu is on writing letters and it comes out tomorrow. Please pop over to the blog and check it out? It should be up after 2 pm.

For those of you who share my love of good stationery, go and have a rummage through the Nero's Notes site. There are notebooks, pens, pencils, accessories and some excellent subscription boxes to feed your habit. There's some amazing stuff on there, including some things you won't be able to get anywhere else in the UK. Hopefully see you all over there!



Tuesday, 5 February 2019

In praise of some simple notebooks!

B5 notebooks by Green World
I've started editing "book 8" (a.k.a. "Guardians of The Realm 3: Chaos" - the third book in the trilogy) and have just started my third notebook for it!

I used to use Clairefontaine Age Bag A4 notebooks and I do still have a small stock of them to use up, but over the last year or so, I've shifted to B5 as a preferred size. It's halfway (roughly) between A5 and A4 (179mm x 252mm or ~7x10"), so big enough to get a decent space to write in but not so large that it takes up too much real estate on my desk.

The only problem is that B5 isn't a very common size to buy in the UK.

So far with the current book, I've used a Stalogy 016 notebook (used for general plot ideas and structure) and a Leuchtturm dot grid (used for scene planning and 'thinking' - noodling about, trying to work out things). The Leuchtturm is now full and I've moved into a Green World B5 notebook for notes.

I bought the four-pack of these from Amazon last year. I just found them again on Amazon and they're currently much more than I paid for them. Maybe they're one of those products where the price varies quite a bit. Considering that they weren't terribly expensive (at least, not when I bought them) they have some really nice features, though fountain pen friendliness isn't high on that list!

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

More editing... different book

picture of woman with pen making notes on paper
Last week, I finished the re-read and second edit of the middle book of the fantasy trilogy (a.k.a. "book 7"; a.k.a. "Guardians of The Realm 2: Aeron Returns"). I wasn't sure if I would actually manage to finish it as a zillion other things landed on me last week, but, I got it done. That's not its final edit by a long chalk, so if I have missed things, I have more edits to come, where I can pick things up.

Now, I'm on the re-read and first edit of the final book of the trilogy (a.k.a. "book 8"; a.k.a. Guardians of The Realm 3: Chaos"). I'll have a chunk of work to do on this as a consequence of changes made to the middle book, but that's okay. I'm fondly saying 'the final book of the trilogy' but there's still the possibility that there's another book in the series rumbling away in my head!

I expect that all of my spare time in February will be taken up with editing "Chaos" but there's a lot of other stuff going on in my life that's taking me away from writing/editing. It may well be that my editing schedule shifts or has to be re-written! Best laid plans of mice and men and all that... There are ongoing issues with the health of my parents that take up quite a bit of time, but I'm really hoping that these will resolve soon.

With everything that's going on, it's been hard to remember to have time for myself, but hubby and I did make it out to the cinema last week (to see "The Favourite" which was excellent) and are hoping to go this week (to see "Mary Queen of Scots" - yes, let's see how many historical inaccuracies we can pack into two films... 😃). I'm also looking forward to some friends coming up to see me in a couple of weeks. I'm really bad at remembering to take a break from writing/editing!

Right. Back to the life-stealing demons and the havoc they're creating!


Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Editing, the analogue way!!

Yep... I've been literally cutting and pasting recently.

Now, don't get me wrong... I use Scrivener and one of the things that I love about it, is the ability to move whole scenes around easily - a drag and drop manoeuvre. But for one particular bit of the book I'm editing at the moment, it wasn't so much whole scenes that were moving about, it was parts of scenes and so I fell back on an old and trusted method... print the whole thing out, attack it with scissors and sellotape it back together once you've sorted out what's moving to where!

I said to a few friends that this was what I was doing and got a variety of reactions, but most of them were sympathetic! A few people suggested Scrivener (which I already use) but for what I needed to do, nothing much beats having the document printed out, spread across the dining room table, with symbols and arrows indicating which bits are moving where. I sometimes wonder if a career in cryptography might have been an option, when I look back at the notations!

As a consequence of all this cutting, pasting, rearranging etc. I feel as if the section is a lot tighter, and I also have a file labelled "bits that were cut out". I haven't deleted it yet - writers don't delete anything... you never know when they might come in useful... maybe not in this book, but perhaps in another.

Am I alone in this analogue version of getting a document sorted? What do others do?


Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Meeting Twitter friends in real life

Last week, I was delighted to meet two of my 'Twitter friends' in real life.

I'd posted something on Twitter about using Scrivener, and Angela and Marion came back to me, saying they'd heard about Scrivener but weren't sure if it was for them or not.

Angela has had a guest post on here, about using Power Point to plan books, so it seemed only fair to share my knowledge on using Scrivener. Since all three of us live in the same county, I suggested that we try and meet up and I could show them how I use Scrivener.

And so, last Wednesday, the three of us met up in a coffee shop, roughly equidistant between our locations. Marion in fact lives only a few miles from me, and kindly gave me a lift to the coffee shop. There was then a slight moment as we realised that actually, neither of us had met Angela in real life and the cafe was quite large... I had visions of us walking up to innocent strangers and accosting them. The situation wasn't helped by both Marion and I having the wrong mobile number for Angela!

Anyway, we managed to meet up without incident, ordered teas and cakes and settled in.

Tuesday, 8 January 2019

Editing... again!

In fact, I'll probably be editing for the majority of 2019...

But you know why I'm editing...?

It's because I finished the first draft of "book 8" (the third book of the trilogy) before Christmas!!

I'd hoped to get the first draft done before the end of 2018 and be able to start re-drafting/editing etc once 2019 started, but I had essentially finished on Christmas Eve (though I did go back and fiddle with stuff on Boxing Day!).

This is where the three books of the trilogy stand at the moment:
"Guardians of The Realm 1: Aegyir Rises" has been out to beta readers (who liked it! Hurrah!!)
"Guardians of The Realm 2: Aeron Returns" is at first draft stage
"Guardians of The Realm 3: Chaos" is at zero draft stage.

The current plan is to get all three books to the same stage and then send them out to a professional editor. I've just finished a re-read of "Aeron Returns" and am shifting that from first draft to second draft. Once that's done, I'll work on "Chaos". I don't think "Chaos" will need as much work as the first two books, as it was much more tightly planned from day one, so although it's a 'zero draft' it feels more like it's a first draft, to be honest.

Tuesday, 1 January 2019

Happy New Year


I hope that 2019 is a great year for you all. The latter part of 2018 for me wasn't brilliant, but when I look back on the year as a whole, it wasn't bad.

Okay, I didn't publish anything new, but I did finish the third draft of Book 1 of The Trilogy. I also finished the second draft of Book 2 of The Trilogy and I finished the first draft of Book 3 of The Trilogy, so all in all, that feels pretty good.

I also met lots of new writers and met up with lots of old friends at various book events (Murder and Mayhem, A Body in The Library and Bloody Scotland, to name but three).

I have lots of plans for 2019 - including publishing The Trilogy (so hopefully, you won't have to hear me wittering on about it for another twelve months!). If all goes well, before 2019 is out, I should be able to start on The Shiny New Thing that was distracting me back in July.

As well as planning to publish The Trilogy, I'm also going to try and do some better marketing and publicity. I'd hoped that when I got signed by a publisher that I wouldn't have to do so much and I could concentrate on writing, but hey ho. Apparently not.

I've still my usual fitness and running goals (I do still want to run a marathon before I'm 50, but that keeps getting closer and I'm still not running 13 miles, never mind 26!).

I'm continuing to reduce/remove single-use plastic (and plastic in general) from my life, though this isn't always easy. Where it's not possible, I'm trying to ensure that the things I buy have packaging that can be reused or recycled, but it's an uphill struggle sometimes.

I'm hoping that my fabulous new diary will keep me on track with all my goals. If nothing else, it should keep me organised!

Anyway, I hope that all of you have managed to have a break over the festive season and that 2019 is a very happy year for you.

What plans do you all have?