Tag Archives: writing

Art & Writing: Galleries & Agents

I’ve been mulling over this one for a little while. (Admittedly I also forgot to write this for a little while, but let’s just go with mulling it over, eh?) A conversation with a friend while on holiday sparked off some interesting comparisons between the publishing world and the art world. (There may have been a glass of wine or two involved. We were in France, after all.)

While writing is an art, it is also a craft. It is also a very hard job that you have to do every day. But then, no artist steps up to a canvas and produces a masterpiece on their first attempt. Practice practice practice, preliminary sketches, balled up bits of paper in the corner… it all sounds terribly familiar, doesn’t it? ๐Ÿ˜‰

But where the analogy really came together as we talked was in terms of finding an agent, of selling a novel, the business end. Continue reading Art & Writing: Galleries & Agents

Researchy* researchy goodness

Wow, this month ran away with me. Why? Well a number of reasons. Life, of course, and a bit of a whirl on ideas, research, rewrites etc.

The research bit is what I’m thinking most of today. As a writer I’m continually researching. I want to know how everything happened (luckily I married anย  engineer who wants to know how everything works). I want to know about the people involved and the events which shaped history. I got a fantastic interactive DVD on Dublin from Viking to Tudor times yesterday from the fab Dublin City Radio. Once I can wrestle it back from my children I’ll spend hours playing with it.

Once I can wrestle it back from my children.

Research means always asking questions, about squirrelling away bits of information to be used later, about following up on things. Anything can be useful information. Especially when writing fantasy. Books of course, but also documentaries, exhibitions, lectures, holidays and day trips.

And they don’t have to be boring. Continue reading Researchy* researchy goodness

Next stage – the ponders…

I’m at that point.

Today (or at least that’s the plan), after the pre-requisite trips to the green-grocer, butcher and supermarket for anything we can’t source elsewhere, after the cooking of dinners and the referee-ing of small children, I’m going to try to decide what I’ll work on next.

This should be easy (I always tell myself). But it rarely is.

I am blessed/cursed with a lot of ideas, some of them very fully formed and ready to go. New ones spring up all the time and I tend to jot them down and then try to move on with what I’m meant to be working on.

So… I have a series of ideas folders. I have some initial research. In some cases I have a LOT of research. ๐Ÿ™‚ (I like research.) At the moment there are at least 5 books calling for attention. Often there are many more. Continue reading Next stage – the ponders…

Edits Smedits

PhotobucketBecause I’m in the midst of edits…

And I want to share the grief…

Well, no, not really. I’m one of those strange creatures that actually enjoys edits. And I am enjoying these ones. It’s just that we’re going on holidays on Saturday morning. HOLIDAYS! And so I want the edits done.

As I am not editing right now I thought I’d write about edits – because my mind is slightly twisted by all the variety of spellings my writing brain came up with in the course of writing the first draft of this book, and my editor brain can’t really take it anymore.

Yesย  – two brains. Writer brain and editor brain. They share the same head.

It’s noisy in there. Continue reading Edits Smedits

Better late than never – RNA Conference 2010 post

Better late than never in so many ways. First of all it has taken me all week to get around to posting this. Secondly WHY have I not been going to this coference for years???

I am, as with most writers, not the most extroverted of individuals. Never really had been, although I can do a good impression when I need to. I was determined to make it to my first RNA conference this year and I am so glad that I did. Had a bit of a stressy trip out to the airport between a late bus and heavy traffic, and a bit of a stressy time at the drop-off-your-bags points when I found a large group of Japanese tourists had arrived just before me and proceeded to re-pack their luggage in the queue! But Air France/City Jet were wonderful and the flight itself was a dream. When the air hostess asked if I wanted a drink I had a budget airline flashback and just asked for water, only to realise too late they were giving out wine as well. And sandwiches. And boiled sweets for take off (a trip back to childhood). And chocolates just before landing.

I should warn you, food will probably be a theme of this post.

The DLR was also wonderful and in no time at all I arrived at our accomodation in Greenwich. Yes, it was like being a student again. There was a party going on as I arrived and my lovely flatmates were drinking wine out of plastic cups. That didn’t stop the hugs and warm greetings.

Another theme of this post will be the friendliness and fun-filled nature of everyone I met at the conference. I couldn’t have asked for a better gang to hang around with than the ladies of flat 20, but everywhere we went people chatted, exchanged ideas, joked and generally had a wonderful time.

Continue reading Better late than never – RNA Conference 2010 post

When Plotbunnies attack

Plotbunny: A tempting idea for a story that hares off into strange territory upon pursuit. Known for breeding rapidly and dividing a writer’s attention to the point of achieving nothing at all. (unword.com)

I think we all know the scene. We’re working away, dutifully writing our current WIP, enjoying the character development, the fight scenes and the build towards a showdown between the forces of good and evil (or the showdown between dog and cat for that matter – it’s your story). Maybe you take a break, listen to some music or read a book.


“What ifs?” explode all over your brain. The entire plot for a new book arrives in a blinding vision of glory. Characters start yabbering away inside your head, telling you everything their life story and all the intricacies of their conflicts with each other.

And it won’t. Go. AWAY!

The plotbunnies have got you. aka Teh Shiney! Continue reading When Plotbunnies attack

Question time: Your mileage may vary

My LJ friend bogwitch64 (Terri-Lynne DeFino) asked me a question the other day so I thought I would blog about it in response.

“You published quite a few books with Samhain (unagented?) before landing your current agent–is there a difference in the way you write? In what you write?”

Yes, I was unagented when I subbed to Samhain and then signed with Colleen late last year. This is my experience, and what I’ve found on my journey so far. Your mileage, as they say, may vary. This is basically what happened: Continue reading Question time: Your mileage may vary

Research and symbolism on the doorstep

(Hells bells this turned into a long post. Sorry in advance!)

On our long walk the other weekend I came across a hawthorn in bloom, growing beside an oak with new leaves, over what appeared to be an old well. A raft of symbolism, right there on my doorstep, all tying into the novel I’ve just finished rewrites on – May Queen – and its sequel which I have been researching – Forest King.

I had to share the picture. Oak and hawthorn are representative of my two main characters, and the story is drawn from the folklore of the British Isles so much of which revolves around trees.

Chatting on twitter the other day, I mentioned process and that maybe I would write up a blogpost on it. So this is that blogpost. And the pretty picture… ah well, that’s part of the process too. All will become clear – or more confused. We shall see.

Continue reading Research and symbolism on the doorstep

Critiquing, editing and other methods of slow torture

I’m been something of a busy bee this last while, so please excuse my lack of posts. Hightlight was the wedding of one of my oldest friends. I’ve known him since I was four. It was a beautiful ceremony where almost everyone told them “it’s about time” and they took it with the affection intended and agreed. I have never cried at a wedding before. So there you go.

But that’s what I’m not here to waffle on about today. That is my excuse note – like “the dog ate my homework” or “please excuse Ruth from gym because she hates it with the fire of a thousand suns”.

I read a comment on another blog (no I can’t remember where, seive-like brain strikes again. If anyone knows, point me there) about editing. And I have my thoughts on editing. They also relate in part to critiquing. Actually it all boils down to one statement.

(Leaving aside grammer and typos) editing, and critiquing, are not designed to point out what is wrong, but rather to point out what can be made better.

There is an enormous difference between wrong and could be better. There’s an enormous difference in how we explain this to others. The words themselves do the trick.

“You’ve got this wrong” – oh bad you

“This could be improved by…” – let me help you.

I had a fantastic conversation towards the end of last week discussing edits and came away invigorated, excited and raring to get to work and make my story shine. I think (I hope) I can do that when I critique for fellow writers – word my comments correctly so that they can see the potential I can see in their work. And while the adage is true that the only response to a critique is “Thanks very much”, I’m not adverse to exchanging ideas, to doing some brainstorming or re-reading rewrites. I like to see things grow. I think to see how ideas take form and work their way through a story. Honesty may be the best policy, but kindness works more wonders. So if you’re critiquing don’t hold back, but choose your words with care, thinking about the person reading them at the other end.

But if you can’t take honesty, it may be better not to ask for a critique.

Editing to me is the final stage of creation – it isn’t something that comes afterwards, its a vital part. It is the details on a sculpture, the polish on the marble. It’s what makes a story shine.

And speaking of which I have a critique to do, and then some edits to get to. ๐Ÿ™‚