Saturday, 29 July 2017

[JULY UPDATE] Cephalopod Book Club & Goals

Oops! I missed the deadline, but oh well, I'm still here to post for this month's book club & goals blog hops.

I've read three novels / novellas this month, and have chosen Eleanor & Park as my novel of the month to share a review for. This is the non-spoilery version of the GoodReads (spoilery) version.

I vaguely remember back when I first heard about this book, reading some reviews of it that were mixed - I remember not everyone loving the book for whatever reason. I admit I was a bit influenced by that memory when I started reading - I was in the first chapter and wasn't sure if I was going to enjoy the read. Well, now that I've finished reading, I can say without hesitation that I loved Eleanor & Park! It was tragic, romantic, and funny. I love the emphasis on music, too.

The book ends on an interesting note that has seemingly divided readers - some are dying to know more, while others (like me) think that what we are left with is enough. It's not a neatly tied up ending, but there is a sense of hope that makes me happy.

Richie was such a creepy character - yech! I felt sorry for Eleanor's mum, but also angry with her, for much of the book. But I loved Park and his family - his parents were great characters.

This is the GoodReads blurb:

"Two misfits.
One extraordinary love.

... Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough...Eleanor.

Park... He knows she'll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There's a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises...Park.

Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try."

Currently Reading: my own novels...for editing.
But hopefully soon, book #2 in Lydia Kang's duology.

I'm continuing to work on my revisions for DAPHNE II, but now that studies are starting up as of Monday, I'm not sure how much progress I'll be making for the time being. I also did another thing - I logged back into Absolute Write (the Water Cooler forums) after approximately 6 years of absence, and started posting again.

I've shared the beginning of DIE BEACHSIDE and the first chapter of SUNDOWN III. The former has attracted feedback that surprised me - I need to cut out perhaps the first 1k of words. And I thought that little novella was pretty lean. Gosh, critique feedback is good. It wakes you up from your slumber. As for the SUNDOWN III chapter, that also needs some condensing, but the feedback was overall more favourable. I got some great feedback that I can work with for that one.

Oh, oh, something REALLY EXCITING? I finally got those last two songs done and sent them off to Billy. WOO! I just hope he doesn't ask me to do heaps more work on them. But if he does, so be it, I will do what I can. I'm hoping we can get down to the business of getting our second Woody's A Girl album out in the next few months.

I hope you are all doing well!

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Anybody got time for dat? (beta-reading)

This is a quick entry to ask if anyone is in a position right now to be a beta reader for me.

I have a novella that I thought I would be fleshing out more (at least, that's what I said last year), but having just skimmed through it myself and made a few tweaks, I'm not sure if it actually needs fleshing out.

I can think of some areas that may do, however it could result in me adding words that don't need to be added. So I'd be curious to get others' thoughts on this before I do anything drastic. Here are the details:

Title: Die Beachside (working title)
Word Count: 32,805 (Scrivener)
Blurb: During her first year at university, Megan meets Avya, a fellow student who rather than living in student accommodation lives on the local beach in a cave.

The two girls clash at first, but eventually Megan becomes a confidant for Avya, who shares a scary secret - she's being stalked. In light of a recent unsolved murder in the area, this is especially worrisome. It also reminds Megan of difficult experiences in her own past, and she starts feeling paranoid.

She tries to protect Avya however she can, but campus security don't seem to want to take her seriously. Can Megan figure out who Avya's stalker is before something goes really wrong - and before she herself is put in the path of danger?

P.S. There's romance with a dark, brooding character too.

Let me know if you are willing to read it. :)

Thursday, 20 July 2017

DAPHNE revision update

I'm still going with this revision thing. I have next week off work, and the week after my studies begin, so my time is short. There was a point recently when I did a "mega-tweak" on my first chapter, and I thought I was almost there with fixing it. But as I read it on my Kindle, I got really discouraged by the amount of things I now needed to tweak in the wake of the mega-tweak. Thankfully I got past my moping and plowed on.

It's quite an undertaking, fully rewriting a novel. When I first rewrote this one back in 2012, some things stayed the same, like my main character and her family. But a lot changed. A previous "good guy" became a bad guy. A new love interest materialised, and became the male lead. A best friend became condescending, and her boyfriend a jerk. The setting itself also changed from "aimless new adults living life after high school" to first year of university.

After that 2012 rewrite, I left the novel to stew for, ummm, five years? Yeah, that's all. When I returned to it in 2017 I saw that I'd created a hot mess, but thankfully I much preferred this "new" mess to the old one. 2017's revisions / edits are making me love it even more. They say write what you love, and each new tweak of a sentence, paragraph or section is bringing me closer to loving this novel.

I think I've fixed most of the big problems, though there are still timeline blips to be worked out. I'm down to about 122,484 words, meaning I've shed 3,765 words or so. I need to shed a lot more! And no, I haven't removed my "darling" Jane yet. Still not decided on what to do there.

That'll do for now. But I wanted to mention that I'm reading Eleanor & Park after having it on my TBR for quite a while. I'm loving it.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

One new scene = SPANNER


I added one new scene to my novel, and it messed with my entire timeline! I spent a couple of days writing out chapter / scene summaries, and printed the summaries out and scribbled notes all over them, etc. Eventually I worked out how to rearrange sections so the timeline made sense again. I was helped by reading an article about using metadata settings in Scrivener to create a timeline. Using that advice, I assigned dates / date ranges to chapters and shifted said dates where needed. Phew. Crisis sorted.

Another 'oops' moment came when I realised this current edit has not removed words as I hoped, but has added them. So where my first revision word count was approx. 107,902, the current count is 126,249. Yep, I've done it again. I know I have some padding that can be trimmed, and thankfully I think I'm at the point where that can be my focus now.

Speaking of padding... During my last revision of this novel, I mentioned a minor character that was a bit of a "darling" I might have to kill. She started out as a source of humour, but in truth there is a lot more to her that we're not even going to learn about in this novel. So she could even be seen as a bit of a blue herring - ya know, a herring with no purpose. ;) So really there is no point keeping her, at least not for plot purposes. I'm reluctant to let her go, but maybe I can revisit her story in some other way in another setting sometime.

Anyway, that's my update for now. I hope you are all doing well with whatever you're working on.

P.S. My addiction to Louise Rozett's Confessions series has been rekindled, sadly for no tangible reason - e.g. there is no FOURTH BOOK YET! She hopes to write one, but needs a contract. I offered to buy it off her even if nobody else does, I'm that desperate to read the rest of Rose and Jamie's story. ;) Anyway...I shall continue to wait and hope for another instalment, while moping in a very morose fashion as long as I don't get it!

Friday, 7 July 2017

First chapter editing 'marathon'

I've read a lot about authors struggling with their first chapters. First you have to figure out where your novel should start, and that can be the trickiest part to get right. I've often started my novels in the wrong spot with rough drafts. With my current edit of DAPHNE, I think I've got the start point right. The rest of the chapter though is where I'm struggling.

The main thing I'm dealing with is getting the dialogue between my two main characters right. Nathan is a bit of a lovable rogue and he exasperates Daphne when they first meet. That's what I thought I had conveyed in the first chapter, but reading through it after a long hiatus I found I had created more of a harasser than an entertainer! What?! That was definitely not my intention, so I've been honing the chapter ever since I started this latest revision, trying to make Nathan more Nathan-esque. This chapter is probably on version 5 by now (taking a wild guess there), and it's still not right. It's getting there, but s.l.o.w.l.y.

I think what will help is to print the chapter out and do a paper edit. I haven't done one of those in a long time. I really love editing my novels on my Kindle, reading and making notes along the way. It's almost as good as a paper edit for picking up mistakes or sentences that just don't flow right. Even paragraphs that can be chopped in their entirety. But I think being able to use a bright red pen and scribble all over the chapter might help me in this case.

Elsewhere in the novel, I've been making good progress filling gaps in the narrative, and I think I'm mostly done with that. Of course, some gap filling has resulted in a need to do yet more editing of subsequent chapters, as they no longer quite fit. This feels like a neverending process, but I know from experience that eventually I'll reach a point where I've done all I can for the time being. That will be the time to let the novel stew once again. And maybe, not long after, it will be beta-reader recruiting time!