Visit to Coombe Abbey Country Park and a quick writing update

Coombe Abbey hotel and Coombe Abbey Country Park near Coventry 3

If you follow my ramblings, you’ll know I recently sent the first 3 chapters of my book, Art and Soul, to an editor. His feedback lead to me deciding to cut chapters 1 and 2 and do a whole other bunch of edits (more about all this here).

I retreated to the writing cave and the edits are done! I sent the “new” first three chapters to the literary agent who had asked to see them (*biting nails until I hear back*). I also sent the whole manuscript to the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writer’s Scheme (*biting stubs of nails until I hear back*).

Hopefully the agent will want to see the rest of the MS and I’ll get positive feedback from my RNA reader.

In the meantime, after stepping out from the writing cave and blinking in the sunlight… We went to visit Coombe Abbey and Coombe Country Park, which are near Coventry and a short drive from us.

Coombe Abbey hotel and Coombe Country Park near Coventry 1

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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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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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#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

The Confessions of a Writer Tag

Michelle at Sidereal Day tagged me for a new tag: The Confessions of a Writer Tag! I always feel like I’m the last blogger on earth to get round to doing tags, so it’s lovely to be in on the ground floor for once. Thank you, Michelle 🙂

the-confessions-of-a-writer-tag

The Confessions of a Writer Tag was created by Nicolette at A Little Bookish, A Little Writerly. It is a ‘get-to-know’ the writer interview tag, dedicated to spotlighting the creative process, works in progress, and connecting to other writers.

Rules of the Tag:

  • Please link back to A Little Bookish, A Little Writerly’s post, so that the original rules are always accessible to anyone who is curious and wants to participate!
  • Acknowledge the person who tagged you in your post.
  • Tag your friends and fellow writers – it’s up to you how many!

The Questions:

  1. When did you first start writing? Was being a writer something you always aspired to be?
    I recently found lots of short stories I had to write for English classes in high school. A couple of them were ok! I’ve always enjoyed writing but never aspired to write as a full-time job until recently.
  2. What genre do you write?
    My finished novel and novel in progress are both contemporary romances. Think more Pride and Prejudice than Mills and Boon though! My short stories all seem to be sci-fi/fantasy/magic realism. All the more unusual and fun stuff that doesn’t make it into the novels 🙂

Wait! There’s more. Click for the rest of my answers and pics of cake!

Allergic to ‘e’ challenge/tag

Nearly two weeks ago (this has taken me SO long to do. The shame!), Louise at Pinkpearbear nominated me to do the “Allergic to ‘e’ challenge”. Basically this involves having to write a paragraph without using the letter ‘e’. No mean feat as it’s the most frequently occurring letter in English.

Scott Pilgrim hard work

The rules:

  • Link to the person who nominated you and thank them.
  • Write a paragraph without using the letter ‘E’.
  • Nominate 5 other bloggers.

In the end I wrote two different pieces in response to this challenge. The first is a short paragraph about my morning today. The second is a very short story.

Wait! There’s more. Click for my attempts to write without using the letter ‘e’!

Writing progress 29 June 2015 (JuNoWriMo Challenge)

Snoopy Schultz Peanuts cartoon writer rich and famousUnfortunately, nothing new to report on finding a literary agent to represent my first novel, Art and Soul.

In the meantime, I’m still working on my second book. I think my hypothetical elevator pitch for it would be: “It’s contemporary women’s fiction. Think It’s a Wonderful Life (yes, the 1946 Capra classic starring Jimmy Stewart) meets Beauty and the Beast.” If that doesn’t get your mind buzzing…

Wait! There’s more. Click for my JuNoWriMo 2015 writing challenge update!

Writing progress 22 June 2015 (JuNoWriMo Challenge)

calvin-cartoon-on-procrastinating-and-rationalizing

Sorry, but I have nothing new to report on getting a literary agent to represent my first novel, Art and Soul. I’m still waiting for further responses to my first round of submissions.

Wait! There’s more. Click for my JuNoWriMo 2015 writing challenge update!