Listening to music has always been important to my writing. Occasionally I’ll need absolute silence to write something important, but generally I’ll have something in the background.

Currently at the moment I’ve been listening a lot to Dario Marianelli’s Jane Eyre OST, it’s melancholic and haunting and fits perfectly in with my current writing mood.

Other favourites include;

-The Piano

-Pride & Prejudice

-Any classical music compilation albums

-The Talented Mr. Ripley

-Drive

-Atonement

{Anything really by Dario Marianelli – he composes the most beautiful pieces of music}

For some reason I can’t write to music that has lyrics, I’m not sure if it’s because I’ll get distracted by the lyrics or just distracted in general, but I tend to stay clear.

So, what do you listen to when you write?

Whilst trying to figure out something poignant to say, I happened to glance out my window and discover the most beautiful sunset happening outside my bedroom window. Naturally my first thought was to document it, rather than savour in the beauty of it. It disappeared after 3 or 4 minutes.

I’m currently in the middle of reading Susan Ee’s Angelfall and there are parts of the book, that I am looking at quite anxiously going, ‘Shit, my character does this thing too. Fuckety fuck.” The only thing that keeps me from ridding the whole damn novel is, Angelfall is a dystopian paranormal YA. Whereas mine is pure paranormal. God I hate that word. Paranormal. It feels icky writing it. When I picture the word paranormal and the connotations behind it, I think, weird, creepy and sad. Whereas that is so far from the truth. I’ve read so much of that genre, just under different guises.

I know my stressing over vague similarities between my book and Susan Ee’s book are ridiculous. And by vague I mean in my book Solace my character Esme drags an angel through the woods after she finds him stabbed. In Angelfall, Penryn lifts the angel into a wheelchair and brings him to safety. I know i’m just being ridiculous and dramatic and flailing all over the place, but it unsettled me for a day or two. Fingers crossed the angel and Penryn don’t fall in love…oh wait…shit.

In 2010 I decided to go back to college and obtain my masters in library and information studies. It was a decision based on, what-the-hell-am-I-going-to-do-with-my-life? I had spent 2009 frolicking around Australasia and generally not having a care in the world. It was bliss. And I knew it.

But upon arriving back into the middle of a recession, and the worst recession ever, didn’t bode so well. I tried unsuccessfully to get a job, dozens upon dozens of CVs were handed out. But nothing. Not a peep from anyone. So I decided to go back to college and pray for better prospects there. My time in college was fabulous, I loved every second of it. It was so nice to use my brain again and be studious.

Fast forward to a year later. I was very bloody fortunate to finish college and pretty much get a job straight away. Now it was a part time job, but it was in a library, so that made me happy. However a year is almost over and I’m still in my part time job that I enjoy immensely but that pays pretty shite.

So I constantly have no money. Anything I want I have to save for a long long time. Part of the reason I’m burdening on you, dear readers, is highlighting the costs that it takes to self publish.

Between domain names, editors, proof readers, cover designers and what not, it’s a long expensive trip. At the moment I’m in the negative when it comes to money, and so will have to spend the next few months living hand to mouth. But I figure it will be worth it in the long run, I’ll have a piece of work in the public domain that I will be incredibly proud of. Sure my friends may moan that they might not see me any longer, but it’s a risk I’ll have to take if I want to meet my deadline.

I reached a very important goal today. I reached 40,000 words on Solace. Of which I am absolutely unbelievably proud. The last 13000 words seemed to have just flown out of my fingertips and onto the screen. Here’s hoping the next 20000 do the same. I’ve given myself a goal of 60000 words to reach, and hopefully will do so, if this novel wants to see completion.

Whilst writing the draft of my novel, it went under the working title of ‘The Lighthouse’. Yes, there is a lighthouse in the story, and in a sense serves as a metaphor throughout the novel. However last week I came up with it’s actual title…drum roll please….

Solace

I have to say I’m pretty happy with it. Sorry it sounds like I’ve invented the word, but it’s just the perfect word to describe the novel. I’ve even created a mock cover for it. Christ I know, anything but write the damn thing. Though for periods of this week, I was crazy productive. I just need to hop aboard that creative train again and get working.

Yesterday was my 27th birthday {when did I start to get so old???}, so I treated myself to a new MacBook Pro. I’ve had my MacBook for 5 years now and it’s been a wonderful friend. But lately it’s getting so very slow and it’s packed to the hilt with songs and movies and whatnot. This bad boy, allows me 500GB of space to fill. So clearly my weekend is going to be spent playing with it.

Now please excuse me, whilst I play with these shiny new buttons. Oooh what does this one do….

Yesterday I went to the cinema to see Now is Good with three of my girlfriends. I’d read the book, differently titled, Before I Die by Jenny Downham last year as I traveled home from Spain. I remember crying sobbing my heart out on the airplane, the lady seated next to me giving me strange glances. My grandfather has passed away earlier that year from cancer, and the book and its characters rang true to me, so that as I sat there reading the book, thousands of feet in the sky, I felt my heart break again.
Watching the movie last night ripped all those feelings open again, this time my beloved grandmother had only passed away 4 months ago. Her death came as a shock to the family and to all those around her. I sat in the cinema, and let the tears stream down my face, I desperately wanted to open my mouth and wail, but it seemed too personal.

The row, which consisted of just my friends and myself, shook with our sobs. Our noses running, sniffling back the lumps of pure unadulterated sadness that encapsulated us all. As the final titles appeared on the screen, we all looked at each other and began to giggle. The sight of 4 grown women sobbing their hearts out to dying Dakota Fanning is quite a sight.

This post is also to remind me of the emotions that are attached to our characters. Yes we can create sad scenes, a break up, a death, a sad goodbye, but it is the characterization and the reality that make it so important. If we can identify with the character, we’ll follow them on their path, breathing their air, fighting their fights etc. As Oisin McGann said earlier in the month, we need our characters to be emphatic. This has never been more true than last night as we followed our brave heroine on her struggle with cancer and love.
Caution: A word of warning to those going to see the movie. Bring an entire book of kleenex. It’s unbelievably sad. This is my new notebook.

I’m intrigued by this book, simply due to the fact that every time I go on Amazon, there it is winking and enticing me with its gorgeous cover. It also sounds right up my alley. Angels. Check. Doom. Check. Paranormal Romance. Yup, yup yup.

So, I finally gave in and bought it for my Kindle today. Fingers crossed it turns out to be as awesome as all the reviews suggest.

However it is the publicity that Amazon has generated for it that interests me a lot. I haven’t noticed another book being so forcibly pushed on the consumer before. I may be completely out of my depth here, but on this side of the ocean, I haven’t even heard a whisper about it. Stateside it seems to now begin to steamroll and pick up interest, Entertainment Weekly ran a quick article last week on their website. I’ll be keeping a close eye on it over the next few weeks, and hope to in the meantime read it myself.

Has anyone else out there noticed this type of publicity from Amazon before? Or have I just been completely oblivious to it?

I’ve written 25,000 words of a novella. A saucy novella. At the time of writing it, it was very PG, and then I had an epiphany a few weeks back. If I added a few sex scenes into the book, it would change it drastically. It might even get more readers. So currently at the moment, that’s what I’m doing, as well as writing my YA novel. It’s a very confusing process!

Currently as it stands, there are 25,000 words. Ideally I’d like to bump it up to 30,000, just to flesh it out. I have the next 2 parts in the series planned. Well. Sort of planned.

As I mentioned a couple of posts back, I’m uncomfortable publishing under my own name. So I’ve decided to come up with a nom de plume {pen name}, or a pseudonym.

It’s proving more difficult than I’d thought possible. The process being, I’ll think of a name, then google it and see if anyone out there are actually called that name. 9/10 the name already exists. More worryingly they always seem to be a burgeoning singer with a MySpace account {that still exists???!?!}.

And of course me being me, is more preoccupied with creating a pen name and choosing a cover design than actually rewriting the story. Typical. 

But excitingly, it’s my birthday on Friday of this week, and I think I’m going to splurge on a MacBook Pro. I’ve had my current MacBook for 5 years, and it’s a great thing, but sadly it’s far too slow and drives me insane. I also need to purchase Scrivener, which I’ve been using on a trial basis and it is blooming fantastic. I highly recommend it, if you like to be organised and keep all your documents, writing and research in one place.

Ian McEwan On His Writing Process.

The fabulous Mr. McEwan on his daily writing process. I really like what he has to say about reading, most people assume that if you are reading you are doing nothing. I often feel guilty about this, lying in bed {best place to read in my opinion} and reading for a few hours. Ok, maybe the fact that I’m in bed reading, makes it look like I’m quite lazy, but there is no where else comfortable to read. I couldn’t read sitting in an armchair for an hour or two. Books like to be curled up to.

My personal life has become a tiny bit haphazard. Whereas nothing was happening up to 2 weeks ago, suddenly I’ve gotten myself a voluntary position that is out of this world and excites the hell out of me.

The new position means a lot more researching and trying to organize meetings and blah blah blah.

So I have cumulatively written next to nothing. Awesome. That novel of mine is just totally going to write itself.

So perhaps now is a good time to discuss Time Management cause I don’t have a notion…

Personally. I like to relax in the evenings after work. I like to check Facebook, float around the kitchen, catch up with the familia. That’s just a normal night. Then I’ll eventually sit down and write from 9pm to around 11pm. I think it’s something to do with winding down my brain and getting into that relaxed stage where I’m just about ready for bed, but not quite.

But then life interrupts, trips to the cinema, tea with friends, socializing at the weekend and thus being far too hungover to even contemplate writing. So I’m making the decision now. Right now goddammit.

To be a better person. To a} write more b} blog more & c} spend less of my weekends hungover. I really want to do this, I’ve been meaning for so long to finish this novel, that I just want it done, and ready to leave my brain. It trickles into my subconscious daily and lingers there waiting for it to be released. Naturally as a procrastinator I ignore it and leave it to fester. But fester no more.

Oy vey.

On Sunday I attended a workshop conducted by Oisin McGann, wearing a ‘Be careful or you’ll end up in my novel’ t-shirt. It was workshop for those interested in writing for children and it was absolutely phenomonal. I remember sitting there, scribbling notes and trying to take it all in, secretly wishing it was 3 hours longer. I haven’t met anyone like that before, who was able to dispense really good solid advice. Absolutely brilliant. AND it only cost €25 too! For 3 hours of brilliance. And it ran over by 30 minutes too.

I have reams and reams of notes that I took down from it, I apologize if this doesn’t necessarily flow well. I’ll do my best to make it as cohesive as possible.

Again, like the Independent Publishing seminar, we started off talking about the Cover – this is where it all starts. If you can attract your reader by having a fantastic cover, you’ve already won half the battle. The point of the cover is to attract them, then hopefully they will turn over and read the blurb on the book, then the 1st line on the page and so on and so forth.

The 3 crucial points to any good story are the  3 P’s: 

1. People – Characters/Life/Personality

2. Place – Setting/Location for the story

3. Problem – to make it interesting. It’s a challenge for your characters to overcome

The location and the people are linked. The location in some stories is a factor the main character, it’s the geography they know extremely well, they know the backstreets and alleyways, they know where to get a pizza at 5am. The problem could be, that the characters have suddenly been dropped into a territory that they aren’t familiar eg. Kid wakes up on Mars etc.

The thing with story telling is, we want to see our characters at their most extraordinary. We want to meet the characters on their most challenged day of their lives. Think Katniss on Reaping Day in the Hunger Games. Think of any of the Harry Potters.

Character:

We want a character that we can empathise with, someone with whom reawakens feelings and makes us care for them. We want to be concerned about our protagonists should something happen to them. For plot driven books, readers don’t empathise with the main characters, instead we focus our attentions on the plot around them which is driving rapidly forward.

In order to develop a character, and to make them human, look around at the people surrounding you. Take traits from them, such as the friend who sucks her thumb and twirls her hair when she gets tired, or the friend who makes awkward situations funny and brilliant by breaking the ice with terrible jokes. Look around you and insert real life situations from the people you’ve met.

Show don’ts tell. If a secondary character is nearby, get the main character to tell the secondary characters their feelings, rather than letting the main characters thoughts take over the scene. It becomes more human.

Place:

Keep the pace of the plot going, think of it almost as if there is a film crew following your main character through the room etc. Yet keep the description and action going. Observe  in real life, look at your environment and pick up on the little things that you’ve never noticed before. The environment is a very handy tool for plot development, it affects the behaviour of the character etc. However make it grounded, so that the environment feels real to the readers. This makes it relatable for the readers. Don’t delve into an imaginary world, leaving the readers bewildered.

Plot/Problem:

Pose a question….and then answer it. This is the stripped down version of how to write a story. Leave a trail of crumbs for your readers to follow by dropping hints and clues along the way.

There are 10 steps to a formulaic plot.  

1. Start off with a bang {a dramatic scene – heighten the emotions}.

2. Slow down, introduce characters and setting.

3. Establish the main problem.

4. Make a plan {Make the character involved in the action, if they stand back, they will be less involved and the story won’t be interesting}.

5. The plan goes wrong.

6. Have to improvise.

7. Will they succeed?

8. All is about to be lost!

9. They succeed! Or Fail!

10. Wrap it up. The readers should want more, but be glad that it is resolved.

And that wrapped up the workshop. Oisin then went over a little bit on cover writing, advances, the market etc. It was fantastic and I left with a big grin on my face. If you get the opportunity and want to write for children, I highly recommend any workshop he conducts in the near future.

Phew. I suppose I should get back to writing now! Make my own stamp on the YA world.