Posts Tagged ‘ write ’

Stocking Up and NaNoWriMo

DSCN6225 by pippalou on morguefile

It’s been a busy month.

I’ve found some good sites and a few useless ones (always the way to find the good among the bad) and I’ve been stocking up on writing inspiration and good ebooks.

#NaNoWriMo

It’s the month of NaNoWriMo (or national november writing month) for the uninitiated. I decided last minute (at around 7pm on the 1st November) that I was going to join in. This is my profile if you’re interested: Bellalullaby.

The fun of the activity and the support of the writer community drew me in. Plus, I like a challenge. I’d wanted to write Book Two of The Otherworld Series – the book that comes after While I Slept – for around a year now and had been putting it off due to other writing activities I was waiting on. I decided I’d waited long enough.

For those who don’t know, the series is fantasy/crime with a strong sub-plot of romance and takes place in a world where the Fae (all manner of supernatural creatures including but not limited to Giants, Piskies, Donestre and Succubi) Otherworld has reconnected to our own. As their society is one which values violence and power rather than mercy and order, murderers tend to trip over the border into our own modern world. My protagonists Annie and Arthur do their best to deal with these.

I’m currently over 22,000 words in to book two. I had originally decided on the name Salt The Windows but this may well change. I’m not feeling it fits the plot as it’s coming together. I’m hoping for a gem of a title to come up in the writing process.

#StockingUp

In addition to NaNoWriMo, I’ve been stocking up on some good ebooks. This has stemmed from me finding a great site: Bookbub. You can search their site or give them your email address and get lists of discounted ebooks and free ones. You can specify what genres you like and even get a selection sent daily to your inbox.

I must have downloaded 20-30 so far. Course, I haven’t had a chance to read them yet but they should provide good fodder for reviews on here after the madness of NaNoWriMo.

#GoodEditingSite

As the tag would suggest, I’ve also found a great editing site through searching through the sponsors for NaNoWriMo. I would highly recommend Scribophile. The name is a little weird but they do great stuff.

Making an account is free and members can post chapters or short stories up for critique. You post by using up points called karma and you gain these points by critiquing others’ work. In short, it’s a matter of what goes around comes around and, so far, I’ve had some quality comments.

#AllinAll

A good couple of weeks to start out November. I currently have a beautiful Midnight Jasmine Yankee candle burning, an evening of writing behind me and a promising series ahead of me. Any questions or comments, chuck them my way on here or via my twitter (link in my name below) and I’ll get back to you.

Holly Ice

Editing out the Chaff – While I Slept

14108984543z07r by hotblack on morguefile

 

A few days ago I had that magical moment I was looking for.

I found an editor for my fantasy novel While I Slept that’s good at what I’m bad at spotting: plot holes, character inconsistencies, unrealistic reactions…

 

That’s what I always view as a good editor-writer relationship – something complementary rather than complimentary, needlessly critical or hacking.

 

Every writer knows what they want for their manuscript and their style of writing. I didn’t want an editor that would slash away my voice and implant their own style, or someone who would make “improvements” that I viewed as deteriorations. A writer has to be careful whose advice to take with their writing. It is true what is said: not all suggestions are going to improve what you already have.

 

For now, I’m grinning like an idiot and really looking forward to finding out what my editor has got to say about the book as it stands. As someone on the other side of the planet (the USA), she has no reason to say my book is good if it isn’t and has no reason to be scared away from saying something critical.

 

In effect, she will be my first reader who is a complete stranger to myself and that’s exciting. I haven’t experimented in showing my writing to strangers since my early, early attempts at writing on www.fictionpress.com (I was on the site before it split into fan fiction and fiction).

 

I am also getting a brilliant editor at a fraction of the cost a lot of established websites will charge and this way I can ensure I am not getting a package deal but an individual deal, catering to my specific needs. I’m sure there are benefits to the larger companies and they will have a lot of experience but for a book of my length (around 97K words), I’d be looking at £500-£700 which, to me, feels like robbery.

 

I’m happy with my editor and the price we settled for, a fraction of the cost of larger companies but still a decent remuneration for the task at hand. I loved her sample edit and the suggestions she made were very insightful so I only see good things ahead for the edit, and the future of my novel.

 

My next blog post will be focusing a little more on my novel, letting you know a little more about what it’s all about as it has been a long time since I last did a sneak preview. Until then!

 

Holly Ice

1404341641ezt58 by ttronslien on morguefile

The Cliff of “Oh god, I’m not good enough”

SONY DSC

picture by deegolden on morguefile

 

I’d not realised until last night how close I’d been to stepping off the writerly cliff of “but I can’t”.

I have a confession to make: the novel that I finished, While I Slept, the one that I am trying to get an editor to bid on currently, has had a literary outing of sorts. I submitted it to two different agents back in June. Neither of them were mean. One I’d even met beforehand. She quite politely declined the book but it just puts a downer on the whole thing. It makes you think: but if they don’t like it, maybe no one will?

 

I was very quiet about these submissions because I didn’t want people checking back every few weeks and offering me dreaded pity. I wanted to deal with any rejection on my own and without others keeping tabs on response times and helping me get revved up about something which might not work out. Perhaps that was a bad idea, I don’t know.

 

Then last night I read this article. It made me remember what I’ve known all along; writers don’t get lucky overnight. We have to slog and send out dozens if not hundreds of submissions until we find an agent or publisher that wants to take our project on as their own. Professional and even best-selling authors have faced the same problem and had just as many pitfalls as me, if not more. I knew that, but almost forgot it when faced with rejection.

 

I suppose it’s a normal reaction but I realised I need to buck up. I’m going to get this novel edited and get my book sent out to more than two agents. I’ve got a list of eight at the moment that have said they like my genre and I have a similar number of publishers that don’t need an agent to be submitted to.

 

I’m still looking into self-pub options as well – especially into cover artists I really like the look of – but that’s a little ways off for action-ability yet, especially as I’m going to pay out for some objective editing from a stranger who will truly bring fresh, unbiased eyes on my work.

 

 

Here’s hoping it all works out!

Feel free to share your own stories with me on here or on twitter.

 

Holly Ice

Finding an Editor Worth Having

sw_Editing_N10_20130809_230442 Jppi on morguefile

by jppi from morguefile

I made another big step for me this week. I put the first 10 pages of my novel on a freelancing site – Elance – and asked for bids to edit the work. I’m after quality and reasonable pricing for content suggestions – character flaws, pacing, flow, plot holes etc and an accompanying list of commonly made mistakes would be nice.

It’s hard to find an editor that completely suits a writer and understands what is style and what needs fixing. It is also hard to find someone who doesn’t overprice editing. Writers don’t have that much money and an edit is a needed expense but not one that’s worth 2000$!! Even if you do have lots of experience, that’s internet robbery.

So far, it’s looking good. There have been a couple of good bids and at least one editor I have a really good feeling about. I just hope they’ll be – for me – that magical editor that works well with the author and is the trusted confidante they keep coming back to. Maybe that’s a dream but here’s hoping!

Let me know your editor horror stories and amazing matches. Give me an idea what to look out for – to avoid or go after. I have a few of my own ideas…

One of the editors bidding on my project ADDED IN adverbs and changed my style so the flow did not work anywhere near as well. Not someone I want working on my book.

A number of the bidders failed to read what I wanted and suggested a proofread or grammar and typo check when that is not the sole focus of what I’m looking for. Others endlessly quoted their “recommendations” and didn’t personalise their bid to me.

One prospective editor even suggested they have been a “prolific writer since they could hold a pen” and yet they have no job history on the site and no shown publishing credits.

If the public or your prospective audience (in this case, me) has never heard of you, it’s probably better not to call yourself prolific.

This leaves me with about four promising editors, including the one I have a good feeling about. My plan is to wait a little longer, see if anyone else bids, and make sure I have a firm idea of who to go with. A novel is a writer’s baby, after all.

Trying Out Freelance

Image

I’ve been busy this week, contemplating going freelance with editing and copy and specialising in fiction (of course). I’ve always been scared by the idea of failure before, scared enough not to go for it anyway. 

But this week I’ve got my ass in gear and I’m now in the process of getting more experience under my belt, in time for graduation. You always fail if you don’t try, after all. The separate website for my new business is still a big WIP however.

Any general or specific tips from other freelancers out there? Rates, marketing, useful sources of furthering my knowledge base? Let me know and wish me luck!

Holly Ice

Why I Continue to Believe the Unbelievable and a Link to a Give Away

fantasy, latyrx, deviantart,

This piece was created by Latyrx and here is a link to his lovely gallery on deviantart: http://latyrx.deviantart.com/gallery/

 

 

Fantasy is, in essence, the enchantment of something unreal becoming real in fiction. Thing is, even in real life, I keep an open mind to the “impossible”.

I like to think many things thought of as impossible can instead be unknown or undiscovered.

There is a basis for this. New species are found or reorganised every couple or years and weird things happen all the time.

Now, for instance, I am glaring at my computer case because both my HDDs have SATA and power cables connected but only one shows up under my computer and my DVD drive is nowhere to be found – yet worked fine before windows 8 arrived.

But there are more interesting things than irritating machines to be looked at.

Strange News is a great site I found recently. It is the stuff of sci-fi. 

Here you can find “Particle Personality Disorder”, “Satanic Sacrifice” and “Atomic Clocks”. These are real life stories collected from the strange corners of the world.

I still have a lot more to delve into on this site but it satisfies a need in me to find something unreal which could become real or detected, in some years. After all, faeries and new dimensions could well be real, just out of our current reach.

I’d rather believe that than think what is now is all there is. Wouldn’t you?

 

Added Bonus:

A review site I follow (Long and Short Reviews) is having a give away tomorrow. 
Their anniversary is coming up so there is many goodies to be won and some great reviews to read. Check it out!

LASR, Long and Short Reviews, Give away

The picture links to where the give away will be happening tomorrow morning, American time. 

 

Thanks for reading and I hope I’ve found some sites you might find as interesting as I do. Keep believing in the impossible!

 

Holly Ice

 

A Story About a Shoe

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This is pretty much what it looks like. On holiday in Latvia, on two occasions, I saw a shoe bereft of its partner. In both cases, these shoes were heels and left standing as if someone walked right out of them. Any girl should know this is odd: even really drunk, there is a rather large discrepancy between a heeled foot and an unheeled foot.

My father and I actually stared at this shoe for a good ten minutes, wondering what could have happened to the owner and one of these musings got me an idea for a story to submit to the hgwells festival competition for 2013. I started the story yesterday and intend to finish up the last little bits today.

Goes to show: inspiration is anywhere and within the most unlikely of objects.

If you have a weird event that inspired a story, let me know! Let’s see how weird it gets.

Hope all are well.

Holly Ice

Procrastination, Snot and Writing

 

pollen hayfever holly ice writing writer author

It’s about time I updated you all about my own writing. So far this summer I have one short story provisionally accepted, two rejected and two still waiting on replies. In addition, one poem has been accepted for publication this summer. I also have 2-3 stories I still need to polish and find a home for.

I’m not sure if this is good or bad for a writer – is a 25% success rate good, average, bad? I’m sure you all can share your experiences and let me know. Rejection is always hard but the major problem for me is confidence.

Yes, I’ve had things published, a number now actually, but so what? Many people get things published and are never heard of or are, in literary circles, a joke.

I shouldn’t care about that, I know. I should get on with my creative vision and love the lives I create but sometimes it gets to me. Encouragement and determination are what gets a book written and, I will admit, I have been procrastinating.

I have had god awful hayfever and often it has stopped me from sleeping – the blocked and running nose kind, the prequel to the you-will-never-breathe-again worry. It has made me miserable down to my toes and up to my very foggy head. It felt like I was on lag for weeks.

Thankfully the doctor has prescribed some steroid-based nasal spray and stronger anti-histamines. So far, much better. Here’s hoping to clearer thoughts, and noses!

The reprieve has given me some motivation, enough to finish writing a story for Almond Press’ new anthology ‘After the Fall‘. I have a holiday to go on next week (Latvia here I come) and after that it’s time to delve back into the novel, for better or worse.

As most writers, I just have to give myself one big dose of ‘you aren’t that bad’ and get on with it.

Good luck to the rest of you in my position!

See you all in a week.

Holly Ice

Slate Ahn and the Books of Knowledge: Part I, Graham M Irwin. A fantasy epic with pirates, wolves, shipwrecks AND political corruption

Graham M Irwin Holly Ice Review Slate Ahn Books of Knowledge Legend of Alm

I was gifted this book free of charge on a read for review policy.

Graham Irwin knows how to create a wondrous world full of raspberry coloured bumble bees and exotic plants or wolves which decide to bond to individuals of good merit. He creates habitats and environment as well as original culture.

Of course, world creation is a huge part of fantasy and his achievement here does a lot to ingratiate himself with a fantasy audience. I must also say that the illustrator for the cover did a beautiful job.

Holly Ice blogHowever there are still issues with his writing, particularly in the prologue.

There is a lot of unnecessary description of the Ahn family and their daily lives that adds nothing to the plot; this is things like what they eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner and how they act year round. This back story is not necessary to the novel.

In fact, I believe the prologue could be cut significantly. It could do with opening on page 8 with ‘The tradition bound people of the village observed in the workings of the universe an order…’ This chimes in with the ideology of the villagers and within a paragraph the narrative focuses on the Ahn family. It also gets all the major tradition issues in without the boring parts of what they eat for breakfast. Plus, it is a catchier first sentence (and the major tension of the opening is introduced within a few paragraphs!)

This would also get around the fact that Ahn, Alleste and Aelioanei are introduced close together at the original opening. 3 unfamiliar A words that close together just makes my head spin! In fact, place names beginning with any other letter would be a favour: even the world is called Alm! (I was glad that the western half of the island had place names beginning with other letters and wonder if there is a rational reason behind all the A names or it was just coincidental).

The poetic introduction before the prologue is beautiful. I would only change one like: substance bore distinction to nothingness. There are too many long words here which confuses the complex concept the poem is aiming for.

There is also a tendency towards the beginning of the novel for long, convoluted sentences. However this soon evens out as the narrative continues and the action becomes much more immediate.

Characters are mostly realistic, if a little wacky (but this is allowed in a different culture with different morals and values). I only noticed one seeming slip from the alternate world of Alm in the narrative. This is where a character said ‘such and such a city’ which hit me as a little gossipy in tone and too modern a phrase compared to the rest of the narrative. I also noticed one ‘YOUR wife’ which would be better expressed as ‘your wife’ even if it is bellowed.

However these are mostly small sentence-level problems. My major problem with the book was that it lost its direction. The protagonist began by needing to find his family and, about a third of the way into the book, he finds the reason for their disappearance. However, instead of immediately trying to find them he loses focus and goes to school for a year, seemingly for no reason.

From here, political corruption, mercenaries, imprisonment, pirates, shipwreck, fishing and many hikes through endless (and different coloured) forests ensues. I cannot fault the author on his world building here. In fact, I felt the fishing and boat details as well as the multitude of forest habitats were very well researched. Even the stimulants created seemed realistic and well-integrated into the society. My problem with this is that there is no focus.

Holly Ice blog Graham Irwin Slate Ahn

The core thread of the novel was the boy trying to find his family. This is lost and put on hold. At this point, there is no core reason for me to keep reading. I want to know about the boy and his family, not a random thread of events. I feel that the author has tried to fit too many fantasy adventures into the book without connecting them to the main thread of the novel. Even by the end of the novel, the boy has still not found one single member of his family!

So yes, I grew frustrated with this book plot-wise but this does not lessen Irwin’s world building prowess. If you like books that meander through a new, colourful world and are content to read on despite a long-winded approach to plot goals then this book will be a good read.

The sea is bubbling with new hollow jaws, the floors are writing with white grubs that crawl in the dark and the forests hide wolves that can be friends for life. It is, in essence, an open sandbox to a new, bright world.

I give ‘Slate Ahn and The Books of Knowledge Part I’ a robust 3/5.

If you would like to give it a go for yourself, The Legend of Alm, Slate Ahn and The Books of Knowledge Part I can be found on Amazon (UK link and US link)

As always, I can be found on twitter: Holly Ice

But A Dream – Jenny Gill – No Sleep for Me

But A Dream Jenny Gill Amazon Kindle

Well, this is another book that kept me up all night reading it.

I think the premise is what got me interested. It focuses on cellular memory. A woman that got a heart transplant begins to have dreams which make her a witness her donor’s murder.

Of course, this is an area I’m sure many authors have played around with before but the actual witnessing of a murder and the need to do something about it presents a problem. Who would believe her? How could they do anything about it? Etc.

The handling of this topic by the writer was done in an interesting style. Time moves back and forward, mostly at the beginning, to good effect. It feels (in atmosphere) something like investigative books of old – Carmilla, Dracula or Return of the Screw. This isn’t to say it’s old fashioned or boring – it just makes great use of the group investigative method and common sense. It’s welcome and different in a modern book.

The dialogue was very realistic, as were interactions with the children. The only exception to this was perhaps Richard, the protagonist’s husband. He was too soppy in my opinion and tended to repeat himself like an old record. He lacked personality in comparison to every other, fully rounded, character.

I also feel the multitude of people that needed to be filled in about the case was not only a problem for the protagonist, as  stated in the book, but for the author. There was a lot of worry over who should hear what and when. I think this would have gone smoother if the author had accepted there were that many characters and perhaps let some conflict happen over individuals not being kept up to date.

There were also a number of problems in the early pages: a missing comma, commas instead of colons, an abundance of unnecessary adverbs… At this point I think the author needs to read a sentence, taking out the adverb. If it works that way, leave it out. I say this because the imagery in the novel was very good. The adverbs only spoilt this good work.

There was also a slight clunkiness with the ‘he thought’s at the beginning. This could work better, and be more mysterious at the start, if the tags were left out.

However, all that said and done, the writing improved within a small number of pages and the grammar was generally of good standard. The story got me hooked and took me on a fun ride to its conclusion. I would recommend this as a shorter read to others. I think it took me about 2 hours or so to read. It is a book for adults and older teenagers, in my opinion.

And for the rating: 4/5 .
Good book for a summer read. Give it a go 🙂

I found the book through E Reader News , a site which collects daily some of the ‘bargain buys’ and free books on kindle. It also gives blurbs and a cover image to help you decide if you want to read them :).

From the looks of things, Jenny Gill is a self published author. She has two blogs: here and here if you would like to get to know her.

As always, yours truly is on twitter: Holly Ice

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