Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Falling into place?

So having got the manuscript and other 'stuff' off to Emma, I thought I'd take a look at the next book. The first step was to decide on a plot. The outline came fairly quickly and easily, two pages of A4. That covered most of the characters as well, so I then spent some time 'justifying' the story line and the use of the current cast of characters. That took one page of A4 and exposed holes in the plot and where I needed to find new characters. Also indicated where I needed to do more research.

In the middle of this Emma got back to me and said that she was starting the process of going through the second book and was exited by the idea of selling two manuscripts at once (well, everybody has to have some excitement in their lives!). That spurred me into producing a plot outline for book three.....I didn't mention this but we're talking about the third book in the Eliezer trilogy here. That's taken most of my spare time whilst I'm here in Brisbane, but two days ago I had enough to send off a 'what do you think?' email. Emma acknowledged that and seemed to rise to greater levels of ecstasy at the thought of having a trilogy to flog, perhaps I should have a quiet word with 'Mr Emma'? Perhaps I should hope that she hasn't got time to read this blog! She hasn't gone through the proposal yet, but in the meantime I'm trying to write a chapter synopsis, which I must say is at the moment an easier way of doing it than writing 'on the wing'. On the other hand, I'm certain that things will change in individual chapters and most likely the four chapters I've planned out will expand to about eight by the time I actually come to write them.

With ten or so pages of notes, I pretty much have the book 'plotted out'....well Ok, there'll be at least another ten before I've finished the chapter plan. Pretty much all I have to do now is to start writing and see how it pans out. I'm tempted to make a start, but I only have the IPad with me, and although I downloaded Apple's Pages word processing program, I haven't got to grips with it yet. Typing on the IPad I find OK, but formatting etc is a little different from Word and at the moment I don't find it as intuitive as Word, probably something to do with being set in my ways, old and grizzled etc etc. I also prefer to transfer my hand-written notes to a computer, or at least the chapter plans....something to do with not being able to read my own writing. Not too sure if I can transfer notes between the PC and the IPad via Bluetooth, so that would mean emailing myself whatever I put on the IPad, unless of course I get the MacPowerbook back, in which case I'm fairly certain I can sync 'stuff' between the two. I'm pleased with the IPad, but it does have some limitations, or maybe it's my lack of tektkie nous that causes the limitations. now THAT wouldn't surprise me.

On the boat front, I've been sourcing a few things here in Oz. I expect to be pretty busy once I get back to Fiji, so may not be doing much writing until I'm back in the water and 'home'. Luckily, there is good 3G coverage, so any additional research won't (hopefully) be too arduous. I'm toying with the idea of delaying my departure from Fiji until maybe the end of May, then going over to Vanuatu for a few months. The advantage of that is the living will be cheap and I'll have plenty of time at anchor to write. We'll see!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Done and Dusted!

Well, maybe. I've done all the 'homework' that 'Miss Emma' insistes on, chapter synopsis, book synopsis, contents table etc etc. I've actually edited about four thousand words out of the book, which I think makes it a lot tighter and keeps the story moving forward. Now I need another pair of eyes to look it over, so having gone through it twice I decided to send it off to Emma. As well as being an agent she does a mean job of editing (no, none of the observations are actually mean, but criticism can be a bit painful, I mean, wot I write is perfec, innit? Peeple spel there names differentely every ovver day and wot's this plot consistency thingy?)

So, off to see 'Bazza of Brizzie' tomorrow. Should be back in Sunny Suva on the 2nd March. If there's any news about anything, of course I'll let you know, but in the meantime although I thought that I was going to be taking a break, Book Three in the Eliezer trilogy has started buzzing around inside my head so.....

So I'm going to write the book synopsis first! Then I think I'll try and write a chapter synopsis, and at some point expand it. Well, that's the plan at the moment. Then of course there's the research. Speaking of which...

Don't asky why, but I need an insight into how a Hareidi femail scientist (could there be such a person?) would interact with work colleagues. If you don't know what I'm talking about then you can't help, but thanks for offering! And I told you, don't ask why!

Thursday, February 16, 2012


I decided to set myself a timetable for the initial editing process, otherwise nothing would get done! So, as I'm off to Brisbane for ten days next week because my Fiji visa runs out and believe it or not it's only about US$70 more expensive to fly to Australia than it is to extend the visa in Fiji, my target is to finish the first 'run through' before I leave.
So far, I've averaged six chapters per day, working three full days, and I do mean FULL days. Just to clarify, by editing I mean firstly reading each chapter, maybe rewriting sections I'm not so happy with, then doing a grammar/spellcheck, then a word count. I aim for five thousand words per chapter, and if I'm more than 8% in excess, I'll either look at deleting anything that doesn't drive the story forward, or move the 'excess' to the next chapter if it's necessary to retain it for continuity purposes. That's only happened once so far, mainly it's been excess that I can delete, and boy can that be hard if you think it's a 'neat turn of phrase'.

I've also been writing chapter summaries as I go, so all in all things are progressing. As tempting as it is to get this finished then blast it off to Emma the Agent, I may just finish this week then sit on it until I get back, then look again with a fresh eye. The only problem with that is things are 'hotting up' on the boat front. My new rudder posts are now in Fiji (haven't got them yet, but they were released by Customs at Nadi airport on the afternoon of the 14th, so the first job today is ring bloody TNT and get them delivered. What was advertised as an eight day delivery will turn out to be ONE MONTH!!! Folks, DON'T USE TNT. I've had no word of an apology, nor explanation as to what took so long! Terrible service, I certainly won't use them again.

Anyway, be that as it may, it looks like I may be busy with the boat interior in order to meet my self-imposed launch deadline of April 7th, so I may be too knackered to do much work on the old editing front, and I know from experience that when you get tired the quality of the editing slips. It also occurs that a writer is not the best person to edit his/her work. Removing the bloopers and obvious inconsistencies are easy enough, but the rest just looks so good!

Sunday, February 12, 2012


Apart from a chapter by chapter review, spell and grammar check that is. Oh and not to mention a book synopsis, chapter synopsis and chapter word count. Apart from that, it's taken just twelve months, one shipwreck and the end of a short but not going anywhere relationship to produce 136,000 words. Now all Emma the Agent has to do is find me that oh-so-elusive two-book deal with an option on the third!

As I type, I have a bottle of Aussie sparkling white in the freezer, two bottles of pre-chilled Asahi beer whilst I'm waiting, and the one remaining house cat who seems to have adopted me would like his fleas scratched! Little does he know, 'there is flea powder'.

Monday, February 6, 2012

A productive weekend

The weather here in Fiji has been pretty damn wet these last few days, in fact I read that the rainfal last week was 'the most intensive anywhere on the planet'. That meant that I spent the entire weekend writing.It didn't as it happens actually rain much, but it looked like it was about to most of the time. After a booze-free week last week, that meant a brisk walk to the nearest supermarket for wine and some cheese. How provincial my dears!
Almost there with "Elieser's Return". My chapter plans indicate 1.5 more to write, although of course this may change as things get put down on the hard drive. I've found making chapter plans really does seem to help things along, although you can get bogged down in detail and spent many minutes/hours tracking down old place names and investigating new locations. Sometimes you have to say 'well, it's fiction, so I'll make it up'. Take it from me there are no floor plans of Solomons palace in Jerusalem, or none that I've been able to track down at any rate.
So, most likely finishing the book this week or by next weekend. I think a final spell/grammar check will be in order, although I only have Word 2000 on this machine. Yes, I'm still bloody Macless, the spare parts STILL have not arrived, so my usual industry-standard Word 2003/4 is missing right now. On the other hand, last week I took the IPad into an Internet cafe and downloaded Pages. I haven't played with it yet, but I've read on another writers blog that it is compatable with Word. Maybe I'll start Eliezer 3 on it and see what happens, small amounts of text I can email easily enough.
Speaking of the next project, Eliezer 3 or something different? I think I'd like to take a break from time travel. I have a couple of chapters of 'Karno' written and it might be instructive to chapter plan that out and see if that makes life easier. Whatever, I do need to put E's Return to one side for a couple of weeks then edit it, despite the temptation to dash it off to Emma the Agent. Mind you, I still have to write the book synopsis and chapter summaries for her, trust me writing the book is relatively straightforward, it's preparing the submission that's the really tedious bit! Having said that, I stumbled across this which at first glance tells me I should write the synopsis first! I guess it depends on your working style, but after I've internalised this, I'll give it a go. Writing is a learning process, isn't it?

Friday, February 3, 2012

Sometimes it works

In an effort to get the writing flowing again, I decide to write out a couple of chapter plans. It was really frustrating, I knew where the story was going, I even knew how it ended and in fact was able to rewrite the last chapter (which turned into a chapter and a half in the process) incorporating a couple of newly thought-of twists in the plot, but nothing else was happening. Oh you know, that's not quite true, I finished Steig Larsons Millenium Trilogy!
Seeking enlightenment, I visited The Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America website. There was an interesting piece by a VERY enthusistic lady recounting how she managed to write up to ten thousand words a day. Now, I frankly reckon that's probably a case of quantity over quality, at least if you achieve it on a regular basis, but she did talk a lot about 'the planning process', something that, to be honest, I'm not great on. Certainly, I have the basic plot in mind when I start writing a new book, I do my research and work up a 'biography' of the main characters, but I've found that somewhere along the line the characters themselves take over and the plot evolves through my interaction with them. Spooky thought that, do I spend a major part of my working day interacting (i.e. talking) with myself or do the characters actually come to life, in which case have I the ability to create them? well, never mind all that, it seemed to me that there might be some merit in my adapting this planning process to suit my working style, so on the rough assumption that I was aiming to finish the story in around another six chapters (not set in stone, but I aim for five thousand words +/- per chapter and between one hundred and thirty and one hundred and fifty thousand words in total) I wrote a summary of each of the six chapters, i.e. what I wanted to include in each chapter, but not any details.
Well I have to tell you that it works! Of course, chapter content evolved once I started writing and there's going to be a fair bit of editing, but things have started moving again. I don't write every day, and when I do I maybe get a half a chapter done, but the end is nigh! Interestingly, the final book of the trilogy suddenly came into focus and a couple of characters dropped by to say 'hello'. Unfortunately, there will be much research required into the background/beliefs of one of the characters, but hey, that's the name of the game!
I'd emailed 'Emma the Agent' to see if she'd had any feedback. The answer was 'no', but she wasn't expecting any unless a publisher wanted the book. She repeated two comments, the first being that it usually takes three to four months to hear anything back, and extracts from the manuscript were submitted in November, so early days yet and the second being
QUOTE All we can do is continue submitting on your behalf, no matter how many it takes, just accept from me that Eliezer's Journey is a great story, and it will be published - we just do not know when. UNQUOTE
So, that's this weeks happy thought.