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Finished the novel yet? Er, gimme another 90 years

Edit Ruthlessly - image by by Dan PattersonA dictionary of the extinct language of ancient Mesopotamia has been completed after 90 years of work, according to the BBC. Wow, 90 years. At the rate I’m writing, my own novel won’t be complete for another 90 years and, unless some life enhancing drug is made in the next half century, I’m pretty sure I don’t have 90 years left.

The first draft was easy, my motivation was to write THE END after 80,000 or so words and there, draft number one is complete. I did a sort of edit – let’s call it edit 1.5 – and now I need to do a thorough edit, edit 2.0, the kind of edit that means cleaning up the inconsistencies, tightening and developing the plot, kicking out characters and making my protagonist just a tad more likeable.

Oh, now doesn’t that sound like a lot of hard work to you? Yes, yes it does. But don’t feel sorry for me – there are squillions of writers out there working on their books in a bid to get published (I just typed, punished instead of published – Freudian slip?). They’re at it day and night,  slogging over prose, paragraphs and pages. Because they’re passionate and they want their name in print.

I want it too, but do I want it badly enough? Hmmm. I know that once I sit down and start reading my script, ‘cos it’s been a good long while since I did that, the enthusiasm will come flooding back and I’ll return to my writerly ways – and the numb hand I get from using the computer too much. But I keep delaying it, it feels too much like homework now and there’s always a distraction. So, my mid-year resolution is that I’m going to start work on my writing – either on this script or the beginnings of a new idea (and I don’t have many of those!) by the end of July. This is TOTALLY achievable and if I haven’t popped a post up to say “Yay, I’m writing again!” by then, feel free to kick my cyber arse into literary purgatory.

 

Picture by Dan Patterson via Flickr under Creative Commons Licence

Six for Saturday – new stuff

Meant to post this yesterday as a Five for Friday but I’ve just thought of a sixth, perfecto. I moved house (again) last month and a new house brings new changes. So here are my Six for Saturday…

Bury Field, Newport Pagnell

This is what you see at 6am!

1) Early riser – since the move and following a week off to get settled, a new work-day routine commenced. We’d always walked the dog for 10 minutes before work anyway but now we’re up and at ’em by dawn and 6am spells an hour-long stroll for Ralphie the cocker spaniel. Me and hubbles take it in turns to get up and take Ralphie out and with more walking options nearby, it’s been a pleasure. I’m no morning fan but there’s something energising about being up early and taking in the fresh air – that a look at that view (pictured). Plus, we have a very happy doggy on our hands. There’s also less of a rush. Before it was wake, shower, dress, quick walk and run out the door. Now we have time to watch BBC Breakfast, enjoy a cup of tea or slice of toast and actually wake up properly before we start the working day. Here’s hoping it lasts!

2) Recycling – I have always recycled but not as much as I could have. The logistics of the new house make it a bit easier to recycle more, so I’m now equipped with a rainbow of bins, bags and boxes so I can recycle the right things in the right places. I’m also trying to generate less rubbish – old clothes etc that I’d once throw out are now taken to recycling banks or dropped off at charity shops. This has also been reinforced at work with a scheme which saw our office bins replaced with paper trays. I won’t bore you with the ins and outs but I now have a small trek on my hands to dispose of an apple core at work and empty my own paper tray. But it’s a good thing – encouraging recycling and exercise at the same time, plus people have to take responsibility for their own rubbish, not put paper in the catch-all bin because it’s near to them, but take a short walk to the paper recycling bin.

3) House proud – a new house that you’re comfortable in and proud of makes you want to keep it that way. My husband has developed a new affection for the vacuum cleaner and we’re making an effort to tidy away after ourselves instead of letting housework pile up.

4) A haven for writing – I now have a study, shared with hubbles, which is a haven for working or writing. In my case, writing. Hopefully I’ll be picking the novel up again very soon and making a dent in the second round of edits if I am ever going to get it in shape to start pitching for an agent. But I suspect it will be more a haven for blogging as I’m finding that more enjoyable than the novel, for now, not least because publication in much quicker than easier than getting a book on the shelves! But I think having a clean space – not shared with a spare bed, the weekly washing and everything else we can cram into a room because it doesn’t have a home of its own – will make a difference.

5) Dressing to impress – as the fitted wardrobe in my bedroom isn’t nearly big enough to house all my clothers and shoes I’ve been allowed to turn one of the other rooms into my wardrobe and book room. Two large bookshelves filled with books straddle a huge wardobe, home to clothes, shoes and bags. With more organisation – and all my clothes now hanging neatly rather than stored in ad hoc piles around the house – I should, in theory, mean I can find what I want, see all my options and therefore dress a little better. It’s easy to forget about that neat D&G handbag when it’s buried at the back of the wardrobe or the killer Carvela heels I’ve only worn once because they live under the bed. And maybe my outfits will be inspired by the books which surround me as I dress -big pants a la Bridget Jones one day, medical scrubs courtesy of Kay Scarpetta the next, or sexy and chic thanks to Trinny and Susannah another. As if!

Sky remote control and TV6) PS I just thought of a sixth thing – making that Six for Saturday, yay! Another change is that I now have Sky. Oh, how I’ve missed Sky. BT Vision was the best option available at the last place but poor signal, jumping movies and no HD was never going to replace Sky. Love it.

 

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Wunderbar! On getting published in Germany…

My good friend, awesome colleague and super talented writer Tracy Buchanan – AKA Buchy (pronounced Bucky) – blogs about what it’s like to get published in Germany…

Sternenwandler front cover

The book

When I wrote my debut novel Shimmer, I never dreamed it would be popping its publishing cherry in Germany. But just as David Hasselhoff and Bananarama struck a chord with our friends overseas, Shimmer seemed to really connect to German publishers. So, on Valentine’s Day this year, it hit German bookshelves as Sternenwandler (translated as Starshifter).

Tracy Buchanan

Tracy Buchanan

So what is it German teens are getting excited about? Shimmer tells the story of a girl called Tori whose life takes a turn for the weird when she’s saved from the local thug by a horse that morphs into a boy. That boy is Cam, a dude with a genetic mutation that means he can morph into any person or animal he meets. They start really falling for each other but, as Shakespeare once said, the course of true love never did run smooth. Their relationship is tested as Tori contends with her parents’ abusive relationship and Cam struggles to control his abilities – there’s nothing like morphing into your girlfriend’s dad to ruin the moment! Then events start spiralling out of control when Tori discovers her dad captures people like Cam for a living…

So, what’s it like being published in Germany? The same, I imagine, as being published in the UK apart from the fact it’s pretty hands-off from an editorial point of view if your book is in English. Piper Verlag hired a great translator, Vanessa Lamatsch, and she got on with translating the book brilliantly. Beatrice, my editor at Piper Verlag, is a dream to work with and kept me posted with the book cover design and blurb. Then when the publication date approached, we discussed marketing plans: Piper sent out copies to bloggers and we made deleted scenes, playlists and more available via the Piper Fantasy website and these went out via their eNewsletters. And I launched a friendship eCard which you can see on my German website (designed by the fabulous Westfourstreet) and check it out below…

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S4iPbmBgNDM]

So, what’s next? Hopefully an English or US publisher will love the look of Shimmer too and we’ll see it on the bookshelves here. In the meantime, I just finished my gothic romance, Jar of Hearts, which I’ll be querying agents with soon! To keep posted, visit my website at www.tracybuchanan.co.uk and if you speak German, you simply MUST buy a copy of Sternenwandler here or I’ll mess with your genetic code and turn you into a shapeshifter (actually, that’d be quite cool…)

Auf wiedersehen!

Posted: June 2011

Wunderbar! On getting published in Germany…

My good friend, awesome colleague and super talented writer Tracy Buchanan – AKA Buchy (pronounced Bucky) – blogs about what it’s like to get published in Germany…

Sternenwandler front cover

The book

When I wrote my debut novel Shimmer, I never dreamed it would be popping its publishing cherry in Germany. But just as David Hasselhoff and Bananarama struck a chord with our friends overseas, Shimmer seemed to really connect to German publishers. So, on Valentine’s Day this year, it hit German bookshelves as Sternenwandler (translated as Starshifter).

Tracy Buchanan

Tracy Buchanan

So what is it German teens are getting excited about? Shimmer tells the story of a girl called Tori whose life takes a turn for the weird when she’s saved from the local thug by a horse that morphs into a boy. That boy is Cam, a dude with a genetic mutation that means he can morph into any person or animal he meets. They start really falling for each other but, as Shakespeare once said, the course of true love never did run smooth. Their relationship is tested as Tori contends with her parents’ abusive relationship and Cam struggles to control his abilities – there’s nothing like morphing into your girlfriend’s dad to ruin the moment! Then events start spiralling out of control when Tori discovers her dad captures people like Cam for a living…

So, what’s it like being published in Germany? The same, I imagine, as being published in the UK apart from the fact it’s pretty hands-off from an editorial point of view if your book is in English. Piper Verlag hired a great translator, Vanessa Lamatsch, and she got on with translating the book brilliantly. Beatrice, my editor at Piper Verlag, is a dream to work with and kept me posted with the book cover design and blurb. Then when the publication date approached, we discussed marketing plans: Piper sent out copies to bloggers and we made deleted scenes, playlists and more available via the Piper Fantasy website and these went out via their eNewsletters. And I launched a friendship eCard which you can see on my German website (designed by the fabulous Westfourstreet) and check it out below…

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S4iPbmBgNDM]

So, what’s next? Hopefully an English or US publisher will love the look of Shimmer too and we’ll see it on the bookshelves here. In the meantime, I just finished my gothic romance, Jar of Hearts, which I’ll be querying agents with soon! To keep posted, visit my website at www.tracybuchanan.co.uk and if you speak German, you simply MUST buy a copy of Sternenwandler here or I’ll mess with your genetic code and turn you into a shapeshifter (actually, that’d be quite cool…)

Auf wiedersehen!

Posted: June 2011

Five for Friday – media and comms words

I have in my possession the Oxford Dictionary of Media and Communication, a handy little book which I’m sad to confess I quite enjoy browsing.

So, today’s Five for Friday is a random selection of words in said dictionary.

  • Anti hero

A central character in a narrative or drama who lacks the admirable qualities of fortitude, courage, honesty and decency that are usually possessed by traditional heroes. Examples include Alex in A Clockwork Orange (novel in 1962 and film in 1971) although they are not the antagonist or villain.

Hmm, I need to work on the main character in my own novel; she’s more anti than hero at the moment and that’s not my intention.

  • Cyborg

A hybrid being, half human, half machine, a term first coined by the Austrian-American space scientist Mafred Clynes.

Makes me think of the dodgy film starring Jean Claude Van Damme, who I had a HUGE crush on when I was a teenager. Until I found out he was short.

  • Lurker

A member of a newsgroup or other online forum who reads messages but does not contribute to the discussion.

I have the feeling my mum is one of these as she checks out my Twitter page on a semi-regular basis even though she doesn’t tweet herself. Although the word could also describe the sort of mythical creature you could find in one of my mate Buchy’s novels.

  • Mockumentary

A fictionalised documentary which can be comic, satirising the convention of documentary or film making, or where the verisimilitude of the documentary brings an ironic sense of realism to the presentation.

Still none the wiser, although I do know that I hate mockumentaries. What’s the point? I watch documentaries to find out things so if it’s fake then it defeats the object. For me, anyway.

  • Tropes

Rhetorical figures of speech that can be found not only in written and spoken language but in all forms of communication. Traditionally the four masters of trope are metaphor, metonymy, synecdoche and irony. Tropes are words in senses beyond their literal meaning.

I’m still struggling to get my head around a trope, although it has offered inspiration for a new blogging project I’m working on with my three writer buddies, Buchy, Bertie and Knives (their nicknames, obviously). It’s called the Mistresses of Trope (instead of masters, as there’s four of us) charting the highs and lows of a journey towards getting our books published, learning about characterisation, plot and language along the way. It’s early days but go check us out. And if it turns out pants we’ll just call ourselves the Mistresses of Tripe.

So, this dictionary, by Daniel Chandler and Rod Munday of the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, is published by Oxford University press and contains over 2,200 entries on terms used in media and communication, and is priced at £9.99. A useful addition to my work bookshelf me thinks, what with me being a media/comms bod and all.

How do you read yours?

I feel guilty.  I feel guilty because I’m currently reading The Snowman by Jo Nesbo (supposedly the next best thing to Steig Larsson). I feel guilty because I’m reading it on a kindle and not in paperback. And I feel even more guilty because I’m enjoying reading it this way.

I never thought I’d be able to abandon the good old paperback for an eBook. Reading on an electronic device just never appealed and can’t replace the real thing, the smell of a new book, the dog ears as you create as you work your way through it (yes, a bad habit but I like my books to look read) and placing it on the bookshelf when you’re done, creating another addition to your own personal library. I’m proud of my bookshelf, it’s a history of what I’ve read and says a lot about me.

With eBooks there is no smell, no dog ears and when you’re finished no one need know. But it’s not all bad.  Certainly not for Amazon who report selling more Kindles than paperbacks during the backend of 2010.

So, a couple of weeks ago I downloaded the Amazon Kindle app to my iPad and bought The Snowman. It cost me all of £2.92, a tiny saving of around 50p on the current listing price for the paperback version but it was available to read within a few minutes; no going to a bookshop, no waiting for an Amazon delivery. I could start reading straight away. I began reading in bed and find it much easier to hold an iPad comfortably than a book; in fact I can read it one handed (no traditional page turning required) so can snuggle further under the duvet when it’s nippy.

Whether I bookmark my page or not, the Kindle remembers the last page I was reading from so there’s no ‘I’ve dropped the book, shit, which page was I on’ business and I can change the font size for ease of reading. As old age encroaches (I’m all f 31 you know) I find really small type off-putting so making it bigger is a bonus. I can change the screen brightness so I don’t get bedazzled and I can make notes if I want to (good for research when I get back on the novel-writing trail) or link straight to an online dictionary if I want to look things up. I can also pop it in my bag, along with my emails, favourite social media tools, my blog and the wider web, all in one device. And I can see it will be really handy on holidays – no more packing three heavy hardbacks and lugging them around an airport, I can pop them on the Kindle and if I run out of books to read I just download another one without even needing to move from the poolside.

All that said, I do feel guilty. I love books, I love book shops and I love adding to my little library of literature and hope one day to have a home office lined with  shelves housing all the books I’ve read. So to say goodbye to books, the real thing at least, is a bit sad.

I’m far from saying I’m ditching paperbacks altogether but I’m going to give this Kindle business a try. I’ve yet to finish The Snowman and, in fact, have no idea how close to the end I am because I have no dog-eared marker to tell me as I would with a proper book. But technologies move on, times change and I’d like to be at least trying to keep up.  My main concern was that I’d want a break from staring at a screen all day but so far, this hasn’t bothered me; time will tell, I’m still only on my first eBook.

As I said in my last post, I think library closures are a sad but probably necessary thing in these cash-strapped times, but I’d be incredibly sad to think I might read to my children  (if/when they appear) stories off an iPad. I want them to experience real books, to carry them to school in their backpacks and keep their favourite ones on their bedside table.

Are we looking at a future without books as we know them? What do you think? Vote in the poll:

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