Thursday, September 30, 2010

Change of Plans

A girl's allowed to change her mind.  And I've changed mine.  I'm still going to start something new and enjoy writing something longer, exploring characters in greater detail (including secondary characters) and allowing myself to indulge in describing scenery and the weather and maybe food, who knows.  But when I've had my literary holiday, I won't be returning to Aiden and Emily. 

I've decided to give them a holiday of their own.  Like any good comfort food, they need to be allowed to simmer on low heat for a while and then I'll come back, add some seasoning, stir things up and serve up a partial for consideration. 

I'm still having problems deciding which of my ideas is the best one to dive into.   Each time I read through my plot outlines for the ideas I get caught up and think "Yep this is the one" but then I look at the next one and think exactly the same thing.  Remembering Potter Moon and Amiata are the two oldest ideas and Dear Miss Preston and Queen of the Fey are more recent gifts from a newly discovered muse.   Honestly I think it's down to Amiata and Dear Miss Preston but they're so different but both really exciting ideas..........maybe that's it: I can start both and then see where they take me.

Okay off to find photos of maisonettes in Holland Park in London and research Italian donkeys.  Go on admit it, you're intrigued aren't you?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Carnival is Over

....and what a ride!  But after having spent so long rewriting and editing and polishing the same 4000-odd words, I feel the need to focus on something new for a week or so and then I can dive back into my ms and tidy it up to submit the old fashioned way.

I've been blog trawling and having a great time (albeit wasting precious writing time) doing it.  Found some new sites that I've bookmarked and some new books that I will be adding to my "I Want To Read This" list.  Lots of people are blogging about post-comp blues and giving great advice about subbing the old fashioned way which made me think about a post I read on a blog months ago.  Don't you hate it when you can remember some of the post and/or blogger but not enough to find the blog/post again?  Anyway it was about the four Ps of writing and I can remember one of them was Perseverance but I can't remember the other three!  I think one was Planning but I'm only guessing now.  So I went in search of said blog remembering vaguely it had a blue background (helpful? not at all) and it was by a woman who wrote YA novels (handy? again, not so much). 

But in my trawl I did come across an interesting post by Mary Danielson called Your Book is Different and you can read it here in full if you're interested.  But it did get me thinking about a story I had all planned out until a VERY famous author wrote a TV series with a plot VERY similar to mine.  I was crushed and had shelved the idea until I read this today and now I'm thinking: maybe time to unshelve and start writing?  Given Mary's points about voice and my characters vs her characters etc.  What pisses me off the most is that I had this story mapped out years before the tv series aired but I was being Scardey-Pants Elissa back then and figured tomorrow would be a good time to start - and you know how effective that argument is to a procrastinator don't you?  So for the last eight years or so I have been collecting ideas, writing down the plots and characters and then......well nothing.

And therein lies my current conundrum - which of my ideas do I start?  So I said to myself; "Self, make a nice, neat list and then pick".  And that's what I'm going to do.  Hopefully I'll be able to wave some techno wand and I can magic up of those very attractive word count thingys to sit over there *waggles thumb and rolls eyes*.  Just don't pay too much attention to the goal on account of the fact I'm going to be guessing that bit, okay?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Time to Shine

Not me - my manuscript. 

It's Monday 27 September here and because we're ten hours in front of the UK (roughly) it won't be long until the ten finalists for the New Voices comp are announced.  I can't wait because I'm so excited to see if any of my blog mentors and g-url-friends have made it in.  I'm positive that some of them will due to the level of talent and skill they demonstrated in their chapters.  Of course, it raises an interesting point about voting - are we only allowed one per person or multiples.  Because if it's only one, then it's going to be torture.

Which brings me to the shining reference.  I got some lovely comments about my chapter and the accomplished Romy Somers pointed out that there was a bit too much backstory, not quite enough dialogue and Emily may need a little softening.  So I'm getting out my polishing rag and I'm gonna clean up that sucka until it's so shiny I can see my face in it!  And then?  Well then I'm going to take a huge breath and I'm going to submit it.

Eeeeek!  Did I just say that out loud?  

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Little Something for Ms Ashenden

A while ago I promised the lovely Ms Jackie Ashenden a pair of cyber shoes from my next shopping spree.  Well I got her the sassiest pair I could find but then came the problem of how to get them to her.  So I've resorted to having to post them on my blog and letting Jackie know they're here for her to pick up.

Here they are, Jackie.  Are they sassy enough for ya?

They're made out of python leather (and the fluffy stuff is Mongolian Fur).  Of course I saw them and instantly thought of you (don't ask).  And no, I didn't forget Hoo, although he is difficult to buy for. 
ME:  Five pairs of Gucci loafers, size 10 please.
SALESMAN: Cinque? (Gucci shoes = Hot Italian Salesman)
ME: That's right, five.
SALESMAN: Your five boyfriends are very lucky, Signorina.
ME: *giggling coquettishly* Silly man, I don't have five boyfriends.........I'm buying shoes for my friend's octopus *winks*

Sadly I had to decline a very tempting offer of a ride on his vespa because I had too many shoe boxes to carry!  (Hoo you owe me the phone number of a hunky young Italian man with connections in the shoe business).  Here are Hoo's New Shoes (sounds like a kiddy book):

Understated style - has Hoo written all over them doesn't it?

Oh and I owe Lacey a pair too for getting her fabulous entry in before the NV comp closed.  Well she did it and what an entry it is!  Makes me wanna crawl under a desk and wait until my own Mr Dare turns up ;)  These are for you Lacey - consider the shoebery settled.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Life is Too Short to Wear Bad Shoes

So I've donned my bestest, most expensive, most bewdiful pair of heels and I've strutted my New Voices entry up to the Inbox, pasted it in there, prettied it up (as best as possible) and waved goodbye to it. 

And boy do I feel good!  No, seriously.  I feel the kind of great that words really can't describe.  Not because I think my entry is so fabulous that it's going to knock the socks off anyone lucky enough to read it .....although....!  No just kidding.  I'm feeling so good because I took the risk.  I enjoyed myself so much during the writing process that it felt positively naughty.  I enjoyed researching how to polish and edit my work and then enjoyed applying that knowledge (a big poster-girl salute here to my blog mentors Jackie Ashenden, the Sassy Sisters, Maisy Yates, Nicola Marsh and all the talented people who write for QueryTracker).  But most of all I enjoyed entering it because even if I don't win (and let's face it in the face of the talent that's already up on that board, I'm being optimistic if I say my chances are at best anorexic) I've done it.

I'm not wearing bad shoes.  I'm not accepting that this burning passion inside of me to write is just something to keep to myself.  I'm not going to put writing off for when I have more time, more money or less demands on my attention.  I'm not going to add writing to a list of regrets, a list of I-wish-I-hads.  I'm not settling for less than what that little voice in my head keeps whispering I could have.  I'm not allowing the fear of what other people might say or think or do control my actions.  I'm not letting my negative thoughts (or what Jackie calls the Voice of Doom) ruin my moment.  I'm not wearing bad shoes.*

I know it's Sunday and who knows when my entry will appear in all it's nekid glory but you know what - I don't care.  I'm going to continue in my quest to be positive and so it's time to start polishing chapter two (The Elevator Scene) and THEN because I've been such a good girl I'm going to start on a new ms.  A chicklit book, the idea for which came out of nowhere and has been singing its siren song to me while I've been busy with Emily and Aiden.

But first I must show you the newest addition to my closet family:

Sooooo pretty!!

*Bad is, of course, a subjective term and you can take it to mean ugly, or ill-fitting, or old-fashioned, or tacky or whatever.   As a metaphor, it works for me.  What works for you?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Please Welcome My Next Guest: Frustration

So the New Voices competition has been open for a week now and I, like so many of my esteemed unpublished blogfriends, have been glued to the website: scanning for names we know and reading countless first chapters.  At first, when the count was around 80-odd I was thinking to myself, it's okay - it's still possible to stand out in that many entries.  But as the entry count climbed my confidence in standing out began to decrease.  Now my personal little motto at the moment is to be confident and to appreciate everything so I rallied myself, *slaps self then rubs sore spot* and squared my metaphorical shoulders and jumped back into editing and polishing my chapter.

Problem is that I've been over it and over it; changing this, adding that (then removing it after wondering what on earth possessed me to add it in the first place), swapping paragraphs, deleting unnecessary, non-essential, extraneous, superfluous adjectives.  And then there's my main characters.  Boy have I given them a grilling.
Me: Look you're just not hooking the readers here.
Heroine: I'm not? Well, I'm sorry...
Me: Sorry's not good enough.  I need you to try harder.  Do something different.
Heroine: Like what?
Me: Table dancing?  Nope that's been done already.  Can't you think of something?
Heroine: (crosses arms and looks stroppy)
Me: Fine, I'll think of something..........

And that's the cue for Frustration to make an entrance.  I know that Frustration can, and frequently does, make an entrance at all points along the writing continuum but so far I've been lucky and this story has flowed reasonably easily.  If I'm completely honest, I think I invited Frustration in this time.  I'm striving for perfection (nothing wrong with that), and reading lots of other first chapters (again, nothing wrong with that), and trying to put myself in the shoes of a reader seeing my chapter for the very first time and not knowing what happens next (still nothing wrong).  But when you add them all together and team them with a teensy weensy crisis of confidence and a deadline and a bizarre desire to have someone else read what I've slaved over for weeks/months and........voila! Frustration swans in.

Of course I intend on showing Frustration the door on my way out.  I'm off cyber shopping for another pair of shoes and because I'm feeling so grrrrrr I may just shell out for a matching handbag!  I'm confident I'll find something divine and I promise I'll appreciate every cyber square inch of them.


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Faint Hearts Never Won Fair Competitions

That's what I keep telling myself.'s not working!  And now I've a terrible case of the jitters.  I was all set to enter Mills & Boon's New Voices writing competition and I was sooo looking forward to the website going up.  But now my hands start to shake every time I think about it. 

Don't get me wrong - my first chapter is almost ready.  A few more little edits and I'm sure it will be as good as I can get it (without professional input).  I have been studiously trawling the internet: seeking out tips for writing brilliant first chapters; hunting down how to write the perfect hook; searching for the elusive elements that will make my chapter stand out from all the others.  And I've been faithfully editing every day.  I read a fabulous post on by guest blogger Jim Warner (posted on 11 August 2010 entitled Why I Call Writing Editing (And You Should Too)).  So it's not like I've been caught with my body shaping underwear down around my ankles.  No, no.  I've been Diligent.  And Determined.  And Dedicated.

And now I'm Dithering.

I know I'm going to do it.  I mean why wouldn't I?  I'm reconciled to the fact that my writing isn't going to be everyone's cup of English Breakfast and to tell the truth those are the comments I'll be most interested in.  It's lovely to get the bouquets but it's the brickbats that make you think and hopefully inspire you to work harder (even if it's "just to show them"). 

But it's a bit like disrobing in front of a new boyfriend for the first time - you've done all the prep work but you still hold your breath, searching his face for any tell tale sign that something's not quite right.  Hoping that his jaw drops and that oh-my-lord-I'm-about-to-bed-a-goddess look appears in his eyes.  And the silly thing is that I won't be able to see any of the reader's faces on the website - but they will be commenting.  Now there's a thought........imagine if your past lovers were all asked to comment on you?  *rolls over and clasps sheet to bosom*  "That was great!  Now if you could just fill out this questionnaire".........Hmmmm maybe not.

Still I think I'll just wait a few days.  A few more days of tweaking the chapter won't hurt and who knows I may find another website while I'm waiting and I'll discover the secret to the perfect first chapter........

Or I may go get a tattoo which will probably be less painful.  Would this be appropriate?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

I Gotta Be Honest With You....

The fact is, there is no Elissa Graham.  Well I mean there is, but there isn't.  Confused?  Let me see if I can be a little clearer: I'm Elissa Graham but I'm not because I made her up.  Elissa is my pseudonym.  Why write under a pseudonym?  Well because I write children and YAs books too and I wanted to avoid any mix ups that could occur down the line when I'm published.  You'll note that I said 'when' and not 'if'.  Which leads me to a list ingeniously entitled: Some Things You May Like To Know About Me.

1. I am female
2. I'm over 18.  (Far enough over that I'm not willing to tell you just how far.)
3. I'm doing my level best to be as positive as possible about as many things as possible.  Having said that I reserve the right to have a whine, vent and/or rant whenever I see fit - after all this is my blog.  But for now I'm going for the outrageously-confident-while-still-maintaining-a-down-to-earthiness-you-can't-resist kinda vibe.  Please feel free to let me know how I'm going.
4. I love a chat - so, again please feel free to drop me a line or comment.  Who knows you could spark a whole new topic of conversation!
5. I love to write ergo I love to read.  What do I like to read?  At the moment I like romance, fantasy, some sci fi, some mysteries, and chick lit.  I don't particularly find biographies or non-fiction books all that enticing, mind you if it's a gossipy sort of biography (eg a celebrity as opposed to a politician) then I could be tempted.  I do like my gossip fix.
6. I'm new to blogging - betcha didn't see that one coming!
7. I will be making things up about the fictional me.  Not so much lying as decorating the truth.  Look at it this way: if you had the chance to be anyone you wanted in a parallel universe and not hurt a single soul by doing it - who would you be?  Well this is who I am (in the parallel universe of blogland) and I know I'm not the only one doing it.  At least I'm being honest about the fact I'm lying.
8. I prefer British humour over American but that's not to say that a bit of well done slapstick can't leave me in a fit of giggles.  Please add having a good laugh to the sublist of things I like.
9. May as well add men to that list too.  But real men.  The ones that look like men.  Not the pretty, skinny things that feature in so many of the fashion ads these days.  Lord knows, their mothers love them but I don't. Give me George Clooney, Harrison Ford, Russell Crowe, Gerard Butler, Hugh Jackman, Colin Firth and Matthew MacFadyen (please, please, please give them to me) any day of the week.
10. I love cocktails - the prettier the better.  You know the ones with all the sugar on the rim and the fruit hanging off the side and six straws and the essential umbrella.  Mmmm love 'em.
11. Oh and shoes - can't forget shoes.  I have spent far too much money on them so I've taken to having a cyber shoe closet where I find pictures of shoes I adore and after a bit of cutting and pasting - voila, I have a new pair of cyber shoes.  Not as rewarding and I don't get near as many compliments but it is kinder to my credit card and I save hundreds of dollars in band-aids and foot massages!

So there you go, or rather, here I am.  Hope you like me.  I'll leave you with a pair of my latest cyber purchases - awww aren't they pretty?  Feel free to borrow them, just make sure you return them before the weekend........I have a date ;-)