All change

Regular followers of my Twitter account will know that my husband H had a stroke at the end of 2018. He came home – to a two-storey house – unable to manage the stairs. Since then, he’s slept in the living room and toileted in the kitchen. Not ideal circumstances, I’m sure you’ll agree.

Our new housing officer certainly did. In the space of the two months since she took over, we’ve had increased support and, the day we went away to Matlock, texted with the news the housing association had identified a bungalow being vacated.

^^ This bungalow (photo from Google Maps, so roughly 10 years old)

I’ve viewed it this morning. It has two bedrooms, widened doorways, and a wet room separate from the flipping kitchen. Reader, I accepted the offer.

I’m waiting on the paperwork to accept the tenancy, at which point I’ll get the keys. It’s happened pretty fast and feels a little surreal. It has been a very, very long time. 27 months since H came home. But here we are, on the verge of a fresh start in a lovely property that I cannot wait to make our own.

September Update & October Plans

So September was a crappy month. I had bad news right at the beginning, which threw me off my routine, then there was the trifecta of Cliff’s birthday/it being 6 months of his passing/my birthday. In the end, I picked up SMALL MAJICKS and at least managed to get a workable outline in place, though I didn’t get much actual writing done. I was also very lax in logging my word counts, so I don’t have a total for September. Sorry.

Anyhoo, October has dawned all cold and damp and full of fresh opportunites. Sticking (more or less) to the plan of editing A TOUCH OF FROST through this month, I’ve set up my author bujo. I’ve also exported my shitty first draft to my Kindle Fire, and I must say it looks very pretty next to actual real books!

I’m also prepping for NaNo next month. I’ll be working on A LICK OF FLAME aka Loki book 2. It made sense to tackle the two projects together, as I can lay more foundations in book 1 and have the characters in mind for book 2.

August Review

My Loki story – A TOUCH OF FROST is done!

The rough draft sit a little over 50K. which will increase on the edits. I’m not starting those until mid-September at the earliest. It needs to sit, and I need to do some research into the various settings.

I’m still really happy. I’d no idea that crazy idea I had in June would morph into a novel. AND I have ideas for a second book! Yup, this will be a duology. 🙂

Word-wise I wrote pretty every day, ending with 42,086, which I never imagined possible back in March.

June Review

At the end of May, the Loki trailer dropped, and that night I had a dream. There was a woman and she’d been helping him, and gotten shot for her troubles. She’d survived the actual shot, but was bleeding out. Loki used his frost powers to stem the flow.

Beyond that, I had nothing. Yet the scene stuck in my head. I caved and wrote it, hoping to excise it. Instead, the more I wrote, the more I fell in love with the story. I knew that writing anything Loki-related was risky – especially with the series imminent – but I couldn’t stop.

I didn’t stop all the way through June.

According to 4thewords, I wrote 27,784 words. Being entirely honest, that number isn’t accurate as some of it was rewritten, meaning there’s two versions of some chapters. Plus I cheated to finish the Pride events. Say half of that is usable, it’s still close to 14K.

And that, my friends, ain’t half bad.

Plotting, Wikipedia Style

Younger Son was watching something on Netflix the other day, the plot of which I completely lost, so I went on to Wikipedia to read the film’s summary. In doing so, I realised that a Wikipedia style breakdown could work when writing a book.

Let’s look at the original Star Wars film. The story is encapsulated in just five paragraphs which block out the main plot points in broad strokes. The lack of descriptive details or reliance on emotion is pretty much how a synopsis is written, only considerably shorter.

Let’s look at the second paragraph:

The droids are captured by Jawa traders, who sell them to moisture farmers Owen and Beru Lars and their nephew Luke Skywalker. While cleaning R2-D2, Luke accidentally triggers part of a holographic recording of Leia, in which she requests help from Obi-Wan Kenobi. The only Kenobi whom Luke knows is “Old Ben” Kenobi, an elderly hermit. He asks his uncle if he knows anything, but he curtly drops the subject. The next morning, Luke finds R2-D2 missing, and while searching for him, encounters Old Ben. Ben, who reveals his true name to be Obi-Wan, tells Luke of his days as a Jedi Knight, former peacekeepers of the Galactic Republic who derived their power from an energy field called the Force until they were wiped out by the Galactic Empire. Contrary to what his uncle has told him, Luke learns that his father fought alongside Obi-Wan as a Jedi Knight until Vader, a former pupil of Obi-Wan’s, turned to the dark side of the Force and murdered him. Obi-Wan then presents Luke with his father’s old weapon, a blue-bladed lightsaber.

This is almost all of the first act, wrapped up in a few sentences. There’s enough detail to understand the plot, but it skips Luke being attacked by Sandmen and the full recording from Leia. There’s also background information that would, were this a novel, be an info dump. Here it’s framework that allows you to understand what’s going on.

It’s a style that I’m trying with my latest WIP, currently untitled. It’s let me sketch the plot out without worrying about beats or percentages; things that don’t need to be addressed during a rough draft. It also means I can concentrate on individual scenes while not losing sight of the overall story – great for someone who tends to write out of order!

Love Writing Manchester Conference

Yesterday I attended the Love Writing Manchester Conference hosted by the Anthony Burgess Foundation and Hera Books, celebrating romance fiction and 60 years of the RNA.

It was a small gathering, which made it easy to mingle and chat, with guest authors who encouraged audience participation and weren’t afraid to tackle questions. As someone returning to writing, and interested in RNA membership, I had a lot of questions and concerns, all of which were allayed. I also had a great chat with RNA Chair Alison May, who encouraged me to check if I was eligible for membership. She also mentioned that non-members were still very welcome to events, including the annual conference.

Other speakers were romantic comedy author Jeevani Charika (also writing as Rhoda Baxter), gay romance author Liam Livings, women’s fiction author Debbie Johnson, author Catherine Wilcox, and a panel from publisher Hera Books.

Catherine’s talk, on troubleshooting for romance authors, was brilliant and really funny. I made copious notes to go through when I hit the editing stage of THE AMMONITE AFFAIR. The tip about starting your story as close to the end as possible was very different, and a great way to put it.

The Manchester School of Writing had held a One Thousand Word Meet Cute competition. I sent in a snippet of the novella, but didn’t make the shortlist. I was a bit disappointed, but don’t regret trying. It is a shame that the winning piece isn’t available to read as I’d like to analyse it.

This little quibble aside, I was glad I attended and I’m really excited about joining the RNA and being more involved.