How many kilos per thousand words?

My recent visit to the writer’s conference in Melbourne fired up my enthusiasm for getting stuck into book two, which is a sequel to The Red Heart.  This has been helped a bit by the fact that my last position was made redundant, freeing me up to write through the day. This has been both good and bad, as I will explain.

I have no idea what this book will be called, but as it focusses on Sarah, who was Kathy’s best friend in The Red Heart, that is what the draft is currently called.  I’m hoping that inspiration for a truly appropriate name will strike when more of the plot is in place. So far, I am only about twenty one thousand words in. Some sections flow freely and my fingers fly over the keyboard, or else pen scribbles over the paper if that is the mode that I have chosen. At other times though, I stare at the half-filled page, wondering what on earth was in the character’s mind when he/she said or did that and just what exactly are they going to do next?

Sigh. Perhaps I’ll have a cup of coffee.  I wander out to the kitchen. Now that I’m  here, perhaps I’m feeling a little nibbly. Why don’t I have any biscuits? Perhaps some crackers? Cheese?  A few almonds? Before long I am rummaging through the pantry cupboard and the fridge. Just as well I don’t keep chocolate in the house. It wouldn’t last long. As is, I scoff whatever I can find.

These are just diversionary tactics dealing with the hiatus in productivity while waiting for that aha moment when you know just what the response of those characters is going to be. In the meantime, I’m stuffing myself with more food than I actually need, especially as the act of writing entails sitting in the one spot for a lengthy period of time with not a lot of physical effort.  Stroking the cat occasionally doesn’t really count.

I’m not quite gaining a kilo for each thousand words but I can see that writing is counter-productive to maintaining a svelte figure.  How do other writers deal with this issue? I can’t be the only one to have encountered this weighty problem.

Fresh and Flirty in Melbourne

Attended my first RWA conference in Melbourne a couple of weeks ago.  It was amazing.  There were over 400 delegates in attendance. That’s an incredible number of people who are currently writing within the various romance genres.

I met some interesting writers, participated in great sessions on a range of technical aspects of writing and publishing, and listened to highly practical advice.  I also had the opportunity to pitch my manuscript to four new publishers.  There are no guarantees of course but at least it is a foot in the door.

On arriving back home, all enthused of course, I decided based on my observation of what is being published at the moment, that my book should probably be a bit longer and so added another chapter and nine thousand words.  In doing so, I introduced a new plot thread and am now happier with the overall plot development.

Work is progressing on the next manuscript, and in fact I wrote the best part of a new chapter while I was in Melbourne. There are time challenges whilst I am in the process of establishing a new business (www.worklifejunction.com.au) but I will try to dedicate a day a week to writing.

I didn’t see a lot of Melbourne but enjoyed the hustle and bustle while I was out and about in the evening, looking for food.  I did not stay at the conference venue, opting instead for more affordable Airbnb accommodation. I was a bit removed from everyone in the evenings, but at least that meant I could get some writing done.

Next year’s conference is in Adelaide, so I will definitely be attending that one.  Should have another novel to pitch by then.

Coming together of like minds

This weekend, I am attending my first conference for the Romance Writers of Australia.  It’s an action-packed program with something for everyone. I’m looking forward to the networking and to all that I will learn – not just about the craft of writing but about the industry.

I am pitchinChampagne-Glassesg to four new publishers, and have spent today collating thoughts and information.  I’ve also gone back to the manuscript for The Red Heart to give it another read through.  It is amazing that even after I have read it numerous times, and spell-checked and edited, and even after the editor engaged by the publisher reviewed the manuscript, that I have still found a couple of typos and grammatical glitches.  As I have read, I also tweaked and done the odd nip and tuck, taking out words or descriptors that really do not add anything of value to the story.  I am embarrassed now thinking of the clumsiness of the original text.  At least I am improving.

I have also added a new thread running throughout the story, expanding on the conflict between the key characters and which will also lead into book two in which I tell Sarah’s story.

The cocktail event on Friday night should be a blast.  I don’t often have an opportunity to bring out the bling but sure will for this occasion. It will set the rest of the conference off with a bit of pizzazz.  Perhaps I’ll even come up with some new story lines.  I’ll have a drink for you.

Changing times equals progress

There have been a few valleys and troughs in recent months.  My publisher decided to cease operations and that was a disappointment.  Rights to The Red Heart have reverted to me however, so I am free to seek another publisher.  That is exactly what I will do when attending the Melbourne conference of the Romance Writers of Australia.   This is the first time that I have attended a writers’ conference and the program looks to be really rewarding.  I am so looking forward to it, and of course to the networking, new friends and new learnings that I am sure will result.

Another event in my life has been the end of my day job, due to the role being made redundant.  This is both scary(where is the money going to come from now) and exciting because I am going to have the time to do new and more challenging things – like complete the second book and start a new business.  Yes I am doing both.

The second book, so far nameless, picks up Sarah’s story.  If you have read The Red Heart, you will know that Sarah welcomes Kathy on her arrival in Alice Springs and becomes a close friend, with both women working in the same company.  We don’t have the  opportunity to learn much about Sarah in this story though, and book two fills in some of the background to why she is on her own in Alice Springs, and the challenges that she faces.  I am so pleased to now have more time for dedicated writing, and of course the looming conference has given me renewed enthusiasm.

The new business harnesses life skills that have been acquired over the decades, and fine-tuned with further training.  Through Work Life Junction, I will provide life coaching services.  Specifically, I am focussing on transitional coaching, working with people who are confronted by life choices and work choices and who need some assistance in clarifying their goals and strategies.  If you slip on over to www.worklifejunction.com.au (still a work in progress) you will get a broader understanding.

In general, life is frantically busy but also exciting right now.  I look forward to giving updates on my success at pitching to a new publisher at the conference, and also on progress with Sarah’s story.

 

Release Party

TheRedHeart_Cover-WebAt 12:00 tomorrow, I am joining my friend Maggie Mundy at a release party for her new novel ‘Unknown Protector’.  I will also be introducing The Red Heart, my novel set in Alice Springs, the red heart of Australia.  What better place for a young woman to start her flying career?

Kathy encounters eccentric characters, bushfires, unusual race events, and then of course there are the people who live on the stations.  Some are so welcoming, but Brandon Woodleigh has no time for this young woman from the city.  As far as he is concerned, she is out of her depth in a harsh environment that has no time for novices.  When disaster strikes mid-flight, it seems that Brandon was right all along.  The subsequent silence on the radio is ominous.  It is evident to those on the ground that Kathy and her passenger have come to grief but can they have survived in that rugged country?

Join me as we take part in the party.  For one lucky participant there will be a free copy of my book and if you hang around other authors will be introducing their new releases as well.  You might like to brush up on your knowledge of the book and of Alice Springs.  Here is the link for tomorrow. I’d love to see you there.

https://www.facebook.com/events/822528124458928/?ref_dashboard_filter=upcoming

Maggie writes dark speculative fiction.  The first book in the Midworlder trilogy, Unknown Protector, has been contracted to Soul Mate Publishing and will be available October 1st.

Angels and demons are not what you think , and neither will be able to save Nicole from a painful death. She will have to rely on her own skills as an ex cop turned detective, and those of a handsome rogue called Ridge. He may have wings but he’s no angel.  You can learn more about Maggie’s books at www. maggiemundy.com

Almost there

Great. I have just put the full stop at the end of another story, except that I haven’t finished. There is still a scene in the middle to write, but at least I know how it ends. Does anyone else write like that, sliding backwards and forwards through the story?

I read like that as well, which is one advantage of physical as opposed to e-books. I start at the front and get to know the protagonists and get the scene and plot established and then I often jump around, reading a bit here and a bit there. I may read the end and then go back and fill in all the gaps. Mostly the entire book gets read in the end. It’s not a very disciplined way of reading I know, but it suits my flibberty-gibbert brain.

This one is a short story to be included in an anthology to be published by Steam E-Reads, promoting their authors.  Well, it’s supposed to be short but I am already running over the maximum word count so some strict editing is in order.  Still, it has been fun to write and I like to think that it’s an improvement on my last.  Hope the readers think so too. It is set in a coastal town and in my mind, it’s located in the vicinity of Robe, one of my favourite seaside places to stay.

2001 West Beach web

Errands to run now but I feel that I have jumped a big hurdle with the ending. Perhaps tonight I can fill in the rest. Does this mirror your experiences as well?

Flying by the seat of my pants

I love the way that characters develop a life and personality of their own.  Sure we create them initially, but at that point we probably don’t fully understand their attitudes, their sense of humour or how they are likely to react in any given situation.  We don’t know what they are going to do next.  As I sit in front of that sheet of paper or the keyboard, these people develop motivations of their own and I am constantly surprised at what they do.  I am there to keep them focussed, but take their directional journey with them.

That’s not to say that the characters have full rein, as I know in general terms what their purpose is within the story – each character is there for a reason – but I draw the stick figure and the story fleshes that person out.  I enjoy getting to know them as the story progresses.

Some stories flow easier than others and The Red Heart was one of those.  It helped that I had lived for many years in Alice Springs and also that this was where I learnt to fly.  I knew the country from the air, I knew the characters and of course I knew the technicalities of flying.

Today, there are many women who make aviation their career but at the time in which this story was set, there were still barriers to women as pilots.  The attitudes encountered by Kathy were very real.  It is a real buzz for me now therefore to get onto a commercial flight, knowing that there is a woman on the flight deck.

I don’t know where Kathy is now, but perhaps she has progressed to the flight deck, still using Alice Springs as her home base, or perhaps she has settled on Mulga Downs with a brood of young jackaroos and jillaroos.  What do you think she would have done?

keyboard-hands