Summer’s End and an End in Sight.


I have finished the first draft of Hacked to Bits.  This is the first ‘straight through’ MS I have done since Quest 4 – a few summers ago – and the first entirely on the laptop and then filed to Scrivener , Ywriter and Novel Factory and printed – why the three? They all look at projects in similar ways but enough is different that it gives me a fresh look at what I am doing. I also back up to two external hard drives now – no longer does a new first draft fill me with the dread of either typing 130k 🙂 – dictating it for transcription by Dragon saw off that appalling circumstance last year – but given my Mum’s continued fragility of health my time became very concentrated when I was writing this draft and so I made my self write on the lap top and file by copy and paste and print as I went each day – so now when I want to edit the thing it is ready with no extra admin time beyond setting up new files for the 2nd draft.

The two weeks since I finished have seen me sort out the shipping container were I store my stuff, sort out upgrades etc – Dragon 15 Pro from 13 etc and renew website hosting etc.

The biggest issue has been what do I do next?

By asking, ‘does this get this book closer to publication?’ I have whittled down the exciting choices making a solid wall in front of me to, ‘which series first?’ I want to abandon my Adult series – Hacked – and return to YA. But, the Editor’s reports I commissioned in 2017 were for the first in the Hacked series – Hacked Off. And though, at this stage, most comments will apply to both re line edits and there are a few story points which relate to both – the fact is the detail and actual line edits belong firmly to that MS. So just reading the reports and then putting them away is not going to get Quest 1 further towards publication as I won’t really have learnt the lessons I need from the experience of having the reports done.

Next week I will have a second read of the reports and the line edits of Hacked Off – enough has piqued my interest that I have not written the Epilogue for Hacked to Bits yet – after I have wrung every last drop out of the reports I will look at that Epilogue – or leave it to stew a while longer and only then will I return to Quest 1.

Quest 1 will be my main focus as that will be the lead magnet for that series – free chapters of HO may work for that series – but I do not intend that whole book to be free and there enough out takes that I hope to make novellas of but only after I have Quest off to an Editor next year.


This week so far…

Darkness and Light…

Still a difficult time …

Mum still in hospital and a friend also died…




The Writing Week…

Thoughts are with the non fiction in many ways – the shape of   and whether – or not – I want to get involved with non fiction books of any kind related to farming and  rural life beyond my updates to  that blog page.

Joanna Penn has her new book – and course – out  –

I had been hoping it would coincide with my thoughts and it has…

I have been continuing to search for things that distract my anxiety over my Mum’s situation and have sat through a few films – ‘Wild’ being one of them though I didn’t realise the significance till I had got into it !-!  I have the Kindle book of that too and am reading it alongside the film. Another favourite escapist indulgence is anything Monty Don writes at the moment The Road To Le Tholonet is a wicked treat. Ruby Wax in various audio versions of her  three brilliant books have kept me cackling in the small hours – enough my new neighbours might be wary of this old lonely house and it’s reclusive Writer inhabitant. Mercifully the fab over the top series Versailles has returned for Season 3 so I can escape into that – at least some of the time when I cannot sleep.

I am still thinking about H2B – the fiction side never goes away – the third instalment of the trilogy I am working on – but with the garden to plant, a fox attack on my geese, little or no sleep at night, and the  ever present wondering if Mum is OK or if the phone will ring –  it is hard to escape into their story. It hasn’t gone far – just at the moment it is under the surface as I pick away at a coupe of plot issues I’d refused to acknowledge out loud to myself. Like the garden – if the seeds aren’t planted – the crop can’t be harvested but like the garden the soil needs preparation and the stones removed and the holes filled in.

That said, I should go plant cabbages… but, it’s been a bit of a morning of it – went to town after half a night’s sleep – the best recently I might add – and parked the van only to find the machine wasn’t working  I put 80p in and got £1.80 back – but it was an old pound… Then as I walked past the Greyhound I spotted a friend and his son breakfasting – they bought me coffee and we had a raucous catch up. They left and I went to WHS to get the book covering cling film stuff – only to find i had no purse… HUM – back to the car and then home – found purse and returned to town and back to WHS to buy the stuff ! Returned home to sort out my poor geese after their savage fox attack yesterday – last post I pulled out to replace I tweaked my back 🙁 – geese sitting on patio didn’t look sympathetic so I might cover those books before I plant cabbages. Or, I might sit under the moss roses and behind the rhubarb and write…

Writer’s retreat – behind the Moss roses and next to the Rhubarb… And Mont y and Sarah Don for company 🙂


Glad To Be Indie…

I love being an Indie writer – but more to the point I love working with other Indies – cheerful, encouraging and friendly and all folk with a huge work ethic and customer service mentality.

This week I got the OK from the bank and the bank account was set up – I was quite impressed with their On Line team – their script allowed them to remember me – phone call to phone call – and that is more than the tellers in the real branch do who seem forced into the same script even if they see you 100 x /day 🙁 So  here I am in a new business then 🙂 Did’t think that was on the cards for 2018 but the dice rolled and I played the hand I was dealt and here I am 🙂 Continue reading


Editing Software

Editing with Hemmingway App.

Playing with bits of software…

All jolly good fun! Except when it isn’t.

Grammarly – paid version.

Pro Writing Aid -paid version.

Auto Crit – paid version ( Ouch!)

Hemingway App – paid version.

Initially, they produced panic as I fumbled around and then they produced versions like toads under a tarp.

Then I tried to please them till I decided that to do that till the coloured lights went out meant just having a blank page.

Yes learn and stick to one punctuation style – British English in my case. Yes find the repeats and long sentences…. but then INTERPRETATION is your game OR your manuscript goes from verbose to signage a two year old can read…

I worked out that I needed comparison before I re wrote the MS  so I typed in chunks of random novels and got reports on them  till I could see the ‘proportions’ of their manuscripts (finished, edited many times and published…)

No software will check out description, character or plot and it will only use words like ‘then’ to indicate ‘telling not showing’ – it will use sentence length to indicate pace and it won’t know what exposition is…. So based on its interpretation of the words you mostly use it will give you an indication of their effect. Unless you have access to a lot of stats of many other books in your genre and age group this will not mean that much.

These bits of kit are useful but will not replace an edit and are most use when they work out of the word processor you use is in my case MS Word – so Grammarly and Pro Writing aid. As extra steps are time wasters and printing out these reports is uneconomic on a novel of 130K! Not to mention impossible to then use… having all of them on screen at once is like using a stack of iPhones and I like some distance in editing ie I like to see more text rather than less as then you can correlate the data with the pattern on the page you see…

My experiences of the Tech Help at ProWriting Aid were appalling as I was told that it was ‘obvious what the colours related to…’ when I asked about a key for the colour code. That is a shame as that one was economical of time and money – but only if I understand the colours… Auto Crit guy, on the other hand, was amazingly helpful and sent me a screen film of him sorting out the issue – so I was sorted out in no time at all. ( If using Google Chrome screen size for this laptop is 67%)

Hemingway App is OK but without interpreting the four points it highlights with comparison to similar texts will reduce prose to signage promptly.

I have however, learnt a great deal these last two weeks and with Beth Hill’s Magic Of Fiction to hand as well it is engrossing me enough to continue.

I have also started actively thinking about and talking to Editors about the work so I am incentivised to get on with it:)

Not making time to Blog much as the broadband here is awful and I do like to include a photo – but not to the extent of waiting all day for it to load…

Happy Writing Days then 🙂




Sunday 08/01/2017

Didn’t get out on Rufus though…

Enjoyed the week more than I thought – conscious of two halves of brain working together more – planned to input four ring files of old longhand notes/ cut out photos from mag’s etc and hand drawn maps into the Scrivener files – also on plan was to track down any info I had already transcribed to digital over the years and import that too – preferably without typing it all word by word.
Left brain decided that this would be ‘a good way to learn cast and plot details’ before moving on to my ‘Seven Day In Five’ Edit of the 2nd Draft of Hacked Off I have planned for next week which was designed to leave me with clean printed copy and both Scrivener and Word Files matching – and me ready to write on the remaining story in Hacked Apart and the complete 1st draft of Hacked To Bits…

How ever as usual I started on my first morning and was repelled/bucked off by the task at first contact – the right brain pointed out learning old notes as I typed in conflicting comments about character age was unhelpful to learn and only of interest to posterity – so I used the iPhone camera and snapped away at most of that and imported it – I then found any laptop /mem stick files and did the same – I found only a tiny amount of printed out material that I had no access to -and I photoed that too – very little of the fours files was typed.
I condensed the files so I have one Work In Progress file covering all three stories – and a YA that happened to be filed with it and one file each for the printed out first draft and a log hand note book, Ch /scene written sheet and the sticky plot cards I had already done – I added in files of recent brain storms and by Wed afternoon I was done – left brain sulking ‘it hadn’t learnt much’ right brain pointed out that reason for next week’s edit is not a story edit, it is to get out the continuity details I have used so I can continue the story – not debate a character’s age range over the years…
That said I started on online casting session looking at models and actors and scouting the few magazines I have about for mug shots – I went for several approximate images for each rather than Robson Green IS Sam etc – this was entertaining and made me see many of my male characters are not distinguishable so I need to work on that I also cast horse crew and dogs and continued ‘Off Piste’ to cast and crew of Quest.
It was a more creative approach than typing up old notes but the goal of having the notes in the Scrivener file ‘Just In Case’ has also been achieved.
I printed out several things I hadn’t had time to, organised my finances and started listening and reading to more business structure stuff to file away in my mind – in case I ever think this is a hobby 🙂
I then decided to tackle another Bete Noir of mine – grammar and punctuation styles and I had realised that another reason to edit next week is to make sure the whole document is consistent with one style – I had noticed that Scrivener is adding/changing – words and Word is removing the – so which ever I used when saving the scene doc will be saved which when compiled will be inconsistent – this is a big step forward for me to realise this. So I researched basic common style guides briefly and sorted out the couple of texts I have on the subject and I signed up for free Grammarly which works with Word – Mon am I will extend that to the weeks free trial they do and each scene in 2nd D HO will be put through it and Word ( I updated the Word grammar settings to ) having done that and extracted continuity info and cross reffed that in whole doc ie no xyz names – I will save doc and put into a new Scrivener + Word file under the original scene file.
NB it may be necessary and sensible to work in Word in a duplicate original doc with TRACK CHANGES switched on again to get used to this and also so I don’t have them accidentally save it as I remember having trouble printing a doc once before where this had been messed up.

Any story edits still required I will note but not do.

This gives a real purpose to next weeks read through, adds real value to the MS – and it may take more time but will be worth doing – at the end of it I will have continuity of characters etc and consistent images to write on from and I can pay attention when writing that I use a consistent style in the document – try to also take on board grammar requirements as I go.
At the end of this timed edit I want to have a consistent punctuation style/grammar and a continuity list – I want any purple edits done and a clean copy of the whole MS printed off – I have bought ink – I may need paper…

I was pleased with developments in my book keeping arrangements and also husband and I are instigating a joint calendar for Weekends and acting on it cautiously ie 1 month at a time… 🙂 This is for DIY still needed on house project – so we can move back in – and helps me plan ahead meals for weekends so we eat well but I don’t buy food that gets thrown as plans change etc. Which helps my feeling of financial control and satisfies my frugal mind as I don’t waste either money time or food and bolsters the feel good factor over Fri pm – Mon am so I can work on and not spend first half of week picking self up from the battle ground weekends were becoming as two people with different agendas collided spectacularly 🙂 Win Win

Re blogging I developed this template and used it – though not to publish – and I attended a Parelli launch and positively supported them whilst also representing my own views.

All in all a happy left brain as jobs ticked off list and a happy right brain as it has been allowed to be creative in the approach and both brains seem to know what they need and are getting on with it – just leaving me to deal with the usual insecurity of ‘should you be doing this? Wouldn’t you rather get a proper job?’ Which funnily enough I have deflected fairly easily in the face of progress on all fronts and the mindset that this is not a hobby and it is not a part time job it is now a full time job and a major investment by G and I. But it has full time job hours – which means I get to live around the edges of it as ‘free time’ I want the best of a full time job doing what challenges me in a place I love that suits my family and a life that is healthy – that is the hard bit – I haven’t done much to improve that this week – well I did eat more sensibly and I cooked – no instant curries…
All in all a very good week

1st Edit Resumed At Last…

1st Edit Resumed At Last…



I joined in with Holly Lisle’s live writing room that she had set up to support her students during NaNoWriMo and wrote a new first scene for this book based on the work I had done the last few months – I am pleased with it.

I have been collecting information and advice on big casts of characters – or ‘handling teams’ as I prefer to think of it 🙂 and I have a suitable pile of books, audio and ebooks to get through – I have gone towards more screen writing advice areas as most ‘How To Write…’ books say ‘avoid multiple protagonists and big casts’ – fine if you read those books first – and want to write the next Jack Reacher or James Bond, Marple or Poirot – but I had already written 6 books and series when I started looking at such advice 🙂 and personally I think that as I grew up with TV shows of multiple characters – from Scooby Doo to NCIS and GOT it would be a surprise if I did want to write about one character – and the books I read also tend to be big casts and long series of what ever genre.

Student Is Ready And Teacher Appears…

I have just finished back to back reading of the Winston Graham series Poldark – I am old enough to remember the first TV outing as well as this current remake so I thought it would be a good exercise to read them through – I did no research before doing this and it ended up being fascinating – it took me all the time my dog Brin was poorly and then just past his death – so 5 weeks to read through – and after I had finished with a (very) few questions in mind I googled the Author – I was amazed to find that the first had been published in 1945 and the last in 2002 the year before he died aged 95 – as some one who is writing series – though not adult historicals – I learnt a great deal about what the reader sees in terms of continuity and story line – the few hiccups I felt as I read coincided with a gap in production or characters growing up, a few references to action we never saw and wasn’t relevant and getting Ross to go else where to be a hero and superimposing a murder mystery at the end that didn’t really involve any main character etc etc which even they were so slight that had I read them on publication I doubt I would have felt them and in a series written over 60 years I thought it was an immense achievement of entertainment – I felt at the end of Bella as if there could have been one last book left to finish the tale – but that all in all one could guess the likely progress of them all so it didn’t really need spelling out:) The set piece scenes were so well researched they lived on the page and the humour was Laugh Out Loud – especially Pruddie and Jud – and I felt that the depiction of the Cornish native and working environment every bit as good as the Dorset ones of  Hardy.

And So To Work… 🙂




Spring Tides…

Clean sweep...

Clean sweep..

Great Week…

What is not to like? A four day holiday and the clocks changing to BST all in one go.

Great time to investigate some new Pod Cast resources – well new to me any way – and what a great bunch!

Quick List…

Sell More Books Show.

Self Publishing Formula – this one IS new.

UK Script Writers

Stirling and Stone – The Self Publishing Podcast.

The Creative Penn – Great web resource.

Alli – Alliance Of Independent Authors.

Writing For Life CS Lakin.

Not all of these are US based – in fact I am consciously looking for UK input these days – I enjoyed all of them and they are all pertinent to me writing fiction and are for the most part free to listen to and use – I am also considering joining Alli as an Associate Member  – as I am not yet published.

Finding these has more than helped me make the decision to leave Platform U and the saving of £22/month may well go to Alli membership and to Joanna Penn at Creative Penn for one of her courses instead to take on from Holly Lisle’s ‘How To Revise Your Novel’ which I am doing now with Hacked Off.

That Aside…

The revision remains on course and am playing with plot cards and re plotting and moving scenes etc and still ‘chatting’ to the ‘actors’ playing my characters to see what we can do better.

I ventured into the shipping container and brought out my other WIPs that have been in storage for a year now due to the house re build and started re acquainting myself with them so that I can follow the Isaac Asimov idea of working on more than one thing at a time or simultaneously rather than the hard focus on one thing that I find hard when things get tough to concentrate or just plain get to a point where I am sick of them – but has logistically been the best I could do this last 12 months.

2016-03-31 08.49.47Looking Ahead Then…

Blue sky – always good for thinking 🙂