Exciting writing times and why I may be absent for a while…

Exciting developments, my friends!

Excited gif

 

But first, the story so far. Skip this if you’re up to date on my writing-related wafflings…

I’ve written a book (see Art and Soul for more about that). I’ve been sending the first three chapters to literary agents, but haven’t been getting anywhere. I recently sent it to an editor and he suggested deleting chapters 1 and 2 and starting with chapter 3. As a result, I’m currently staring at a huge pile of edits.

And now back to the exciting news!

Having thought I hadn’t made the cut (and been rather disappointed), last week I was beyond delighted to receive an invitation to join the Romantic Novelist Association‘s New Writer’s Scheme. The Scheme allows unpublished novelists writing in the romance genre to submit their manuscript to an existing RNA member for critique. You also get to take part in all RNA activities and events.

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Editing your novel. My experience of getting professional feedback

To date, I’ve submitted the first 3 chapters of my first novel, Art and Soul, to 23 literary agents to no avail.

So, before continuing with submissions, I decided it was time to ask a professional editor to look at those first three chapters and give me critical feedback.

I researched my options, selected my editor, sent off my first 3 chapters and synopsis, and waited for their report with a mixture of excitement and dread.

Editor writing cartoon

The good

I paid for critical and I got it. However, for the sake of my own self-esteem I must keep repeating an opening comment: “on the whole” I write well. That’s a relief. I shouldn’t chuck it all in just yet then. 🙂

The improveable

There were bits and bobs I won’t bore you with, because the headline, Dear Reader, was tremendous: cut chapters 1 and 2 and start with chapter 3.
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Editing your own writing: identifying your errors and bad habits

Support group for writers editing cartoon

Back in December, I wrote a post asking whether you can ever really finish editing a piece of your own writing. I talked about how I’d recently re-read my entire novel after a six-month break and been surprised by how much I wanted and needed to change.

In this post, I thought I’d share some of my editorial findings and pet problems. All punctuated by some good cartoons, of course 🙂

Peanuts Snoopy Editing and writing cartoon

One of my most common editing notes was “fix flow”, which makes it sound as though I need a plumber rather than an editor! These were places in the story where I felt the connection between sentences or paragraphs was too sudden or jarring and needed smoothing; as if reading were like climbing down a ladder and suddenly a rung was missing. I blame these absent rungs on a previous round of harsh word-cutting prior to submitting to literary agents. From “internet wisdom” I became convinced that if my MS was over 90,000 words I had no hope of anyone asking to read it. And so I cut as many words as I could, leaving things a little too bare in places. However, now it seems I’ll be self-publishing, the book can be as long as I damn well think it needs to be! So the words are going back in (you can’t stop me, mwah-ha-ha-ha-ha… you get the idea).

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Help! I’m now on Facebook and Pinterest!

I finally did it. I created a Facebook author/blog page! I even figured out how to put the widget in my right sidebar here on the blog, although at time of publishing this it still wasn’t showing up properly in Firefox (although Chrome is fine… weird) and I don’t that’s something you see if you’re viewing the blog on your phone… But hey, I still managed it! 🙂

Claire Huston author Facebook page and pinterest

I’m still working out what I’m doing with it, but I’m getting there. In the meantime, if any of you would be kind enough to drop by and “Like” my Facebook page I would really appreciate it. It’s a bit lonely over there at the moment… *tumbleweed rolls past as the wind howls*.

If you have a Facebook page, please leave me a link in the comments below so I can return the favour 🙂

Also, if any of you have any Facebook wisdom/insight of the “if only I’d known this when I started using Facebook” kind, I’d really appreciate you sharing it with me! Are there any groups I should join, for example?

Pinterest Claire Huston book covers board

And as if that weren’t enough, I finally got onto Pinterest too. So far I only have a few boards, but it would be nice to have some friends on there. If you have an account, please let me know in the comments below so I can find and follow you 🙂

You’ll see I also put together a little bookish social media graphic to put at the bottom of my posts. Clicking on the appropriate button will take you to my pages on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and Pinterest. Looking forward to “seeing” you there. If I’m not yet your friend on Goodreads or Twitter, leave me the links for those too so I can put that right!


Claire Huston / Art and Soul

New pages to make my blog easier to navigate

Holidays are a good time for some blog housekeeping (cue brilliant comic from Fowl Language Comics…)

Christmas clean up from Fowl Language Comics

I’ve recently created a few blog pages to keep my blog content organized and make posts easy for visitors to find (I hope!).

Now under Sweet’s Cakes on the top menu (see screen-grab below) you’ll find:

  • A new Recipes Index. I’ve listed all my recipes in alphabetical order under headings such “Cakes” and “Biscuits/Cookies”. Creating this page was also a great excuse to use this cute cupcake clipart:Cupcakes images cartoon for blog
  • Baking. The archive of all my baking posts, appearing in reverse chronological order.

Screengrab of new Art and Soul recipe index page cakes muffins brownies biscuits cookies and desserts with links

And then under Reading (see screen-grab below):

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One Lovely Blog Award

One Lovely Blog Award

Thank you to Deanna at a novel glimpse, Clare over at Dual reads and T.K. Lawrence at Read It or Not Reviews for nominating me for the One Lovely Blog Award. Please visit their blogs for great book reviews and recommendations.


The Rules:

  • You must thank the person who nominated you and include a link to their blog.
  • You must list the rules and display the award.
  • You must add 7 facts about yourself.
  • You must nominate 15 other bloggers and comment on one of their posts to let them know they have been nominated.

I know I was nominated three times, but I’m just going to do 7 facts, not 21!


1. I love Pixar films. My favourite is WALL-E but I still haven’t seen Inside Out, so that could change.

Wall-E Eva and Wall-e kiss

 

2. When we lived in Spain I used to run (the weather was more conducive to it as a hobby). My greatest achievement was finishing a half marathon without stopping or vomiting.

3. My knees are now rather creaky so I don’t run anymore.

Running for normal people cartoon

4. This isn’t too bad because although I can drive, I don’t have a car, so walk everywhere pushing my son in his buggy. When you live in a hilly place, this is darn good exercise.

5. I find TV talent shows like The X Factor rather addictive although my interest usually wanes once we’re past the audition and knock-out phases.

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Editing your own writing. Can you ever be “done”?

When is a book finished? And other writerly ponderings…

I finished the first draft of my first novel, Art and Soul, back in November 2014. I spent two months editing, then sent the manuscript to my first two readers. While they were reading, I read a couple of books on self-editing and realized I’d committed a lot of glaring errors.

I used my readers’ feedback and what I’d learnt from the books to do another complete manuscript “fix”. I then sent this draft to more readers. Their feedback resulted in more re-writes, particularly to the beginning of chapter 1, which I freely admit I’m still not 100% happy with.

The writer funny by Tom Gauld cartoon writing problems

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Short NaNoWriMo 2015 wrap-up

writing is difficult writer's problems cartoon

A couple of weeks ago I did a NaNoWriMo 2015 mid-point update.

And I know you’ve all been losing sleep wondering if I managed to stick to my target to write an average of 1,000 words a day in November. Haven’t you? 😉

The good news is… *insert drumroll*

Calvin and Hobbes dancing

I did it! As you can see from my stats here below, I reached my goal by the skin of my teeth, but I did it.

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The Real Neat Blog Award

 

Thank you to Charley at booksandbakes1 and Deanna at a novel glimpse for nominating me for the Real Neat Blog Award. As is becoming a bit of a theme here, it’s taken me a while to get round to responding to these nominations. Sorry. Please check out Charley and Deanna’s lovely blogs to help make up for my tardiness.

Thank_you cat gif


The Rules:

1. Thank and link to the blogger who nominated you.
2. Answer the 7 questions the nomination has provided.
3. Nominate 7 other bloggers.
4. Create 7 questions for your nominees.

I’m going to “bend” the rules. To stop this post becoming ridiculously long, I’m going to answer the first 4 of Charley’s 7 questions and the last 3 of Deanna’s.


1. What is the best book you’ve ever read?

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#NaNoWriMo 2015: mid-point update

For those of you who’ve seen NaNoWriMo popping up all over the place the past couple of weeks and are wondering what it’s all about, the following cartoon gives a neat summary:

nanowrimo cartoon funny will write for chocolate @inkyelbows 3

I decided writing 50,000 words was an unrealistic goal for me. Instead I decided to use November to write an average of 1,000 words a day on my work in progress, my second novel. This project has been stalled for the last three months. Back in July I hit 47,000 words and the difficult “middle section”: not as exciting as the start, not as thrilling as nearing the end. I think it may be the writing equivalent of “the wall”.

And… so far, so good! As of last night I have written 15,421 in fifteen days 🙂

So although I won’t write 50,000 words in November and “win” NaNoWriMo, it looks like I will be 30,000 words further towards “The End” and hopefully closer to the original plan of having a first draft written by Christmas.

To everyone else doing NaNoWriMo and those having to live, work or interact with anyone taking part: keep going! You can do it! 15 days down, only 15 to go. Oh, and I find chocolate helps…

nanowrimo cartoon funny will write for chocolate @inkyelbows 2

If you’re taking part in NaNoWriMo 2015, how’s it going? If you’d like to be writing buddies, you can find me on the NaNo site under my Twitter handle: ClaraVal 🙂

 Claire Huston / Art and Soul