Tag Archives: the novel

The final push

The final push

So Wimbledon has been and gone, which is always a blessing and a disguise. I always feel that I haven’t made the most of it, and watched enough tennis. That said, it does mean that I might finally get back to writing properly. Tonight under the light of a gas lamp and fairy lights draped around the patio I finished typing up what I’ve written to date.

55222 / 80000 words. 69% done!

So now comes the final push! I’m so close to finishing book two in the Mr Tumnal trilogy.

Getting my motivation back

Getting my motivation back

shield-nano-blue-brown-rgb-hires-1My current wip is about halfway done, and it’s been that way for too long. Not that it’s been stalled through writers’ block or anything like that, but just through lack of time and too much other life going on.

The start of November also means that it is the start of the annual NaNoWriMo. I’ve been aware of the National Novel Writing Month for, umm, probably about as long as I’ve been keeping an online journal – tots up the years – so that’ll be about 13 years now!! I’ve never done it because I don’t think that I could, practically write 1666 words every day for 30 days.

This year though, I’m going to try. Try at least to make some sizeable chunk out of my remaining word count. I’m going for about 500 words per day (more if I can) which equates to 3 pages of my handwritten notebook. I’m going to try, and see where this gets me. Hopefully it might get me to within shooting distance of The End.



It’s fair to say that October was a very busy month for me and the day job. All the way to the end, with the busiest of busy weeks to take me all the way up to November. During that time I abused my novel, and left it lying.

This month I have been determined to do something about this, and to get back to the business of The Novel. For some, November means NaNoWriMo, and whilst  I haven’t actually signed up myself I am trying to take the NaNoWriMo approach to the month. And so far it seems to be working.

I can’t say that I’ve written my 1000 words a day, every day, but I am writing most days, even if it is just those snatched moments and I am, bit by bit, taking the story forward, sometimes in surprising ways…

The Indie Experiment: Publication Day

Today has not been my birthday; its not been an un-birthday; but it has been my book’s birthday.

When I first visited Iceland in the summer of 2001 I fell in love with the landscape, the people, the history, the folklore – everything about the country, and I knew that I had to write a story set there. I didn’t know what the story would be. Then in August 2001 there was a story in the news about a girl who was lost whilst hiking in the Peruvian mountains. I can’t remember what happened now, and I fear to find out, but the idea got lodged in my brain and together with ideas surrounding Iceland, the seeds of the story was born.

So, it was conceived in August 2001. 110,000 words; 430 pages; 250 days in the writing; 5 years in the making. Blood & Fire, as it then was called, was finished on Tuesday 19 September 2006. Another three years of revising later, and I started subbing it to agents and editors but, as is so often, these days I only got the classic ‘our lists are full’ or ‘we like your writing but you as a writer are not quite right’…

I got married, and started writing Mr Tumnal and left The End Of All Worlds as its now called on the shelf for two more years. In that time technology changed and self-publication – Indie publishing – became something that actually worked. With the the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull in 2010 other events since then, some of the themes of The End Of All Worlds have become increasingly topical. I decided that ten years is a long time to live with a novel. I needed to let it go free and for other people to read it.

I will write about the process of getting the novel to this point, today in future articles, but it has been a journey these last few months. But today I have reached it. I have published a novel out there, to the world and I will wait, if nervously and with large amounts of trepidation, to see what the world will think (if indeed they notice).

All day, friends have been posting messages of congratulations on my facebook and twitter accounts. I feel a bit of a fraud about it really because yes my book is published, but I published it. Surely congratulations would best be saved for when a publisher decides to publish my book… And then I thought, no. Lots of people can claim to be writing a book, still more to wanting to write a book, but only the few actually complete the book, and then work to make it in some shape or form half-decent. To publish a book, even by the self, is still no mean feet. It’s still something to be congratulated.

And so to those who have congratulated, I thank you, if humbly and diffidently… 🙂

The story continues…

‘Where now? Where are we safe?’

And so, at this somewhat troubling point, I reach the thirty-seventh chapter of Mr Tumnal’s story. It’s a turning point for them to realise that they are safe nowhere, but it is Nowhere where they can’t return to because that is where She remains, ruling over her people. There are some nice scenes to come, oh yes…

Writing Week: Days 6-8

I’ve had a nice, relaxing weekend with Emma down with my mum and dad in the New Forest, involving activities as relaxed as walking round Exbury Gardens, and as energetic as chasing nine New Forest ponies around and out of a neighbour’s garden. Consequently, not so much writing was done this weekend.

We got back mid-afternoon to be greeted (thankfully) by all 6 cats, present and correct, but a total of 12 hungry mouths to feed (instantly!) – that’s the 6 cats + 4 chickens + 2 bunnies (not counting the sligtly less demanding 2 fish…). After a bit of unpacking and relaxing we set about cleaning out the fishies, and then planted the spuds and the carrots and Emma did some more seed sowing whilst I make a simple if delicious meal of scrambled eggs on toast with freshly made bread and freshly laid eggs. 🙂

We saw Cambridge make it the double with the boatrace by beating Oxford in the final of University Challenge, and then I submitted The End of All Worlds off to another agent (the same one that handles the likes of Philip Pullman and Helen Dunmore). Well, when you’ve got a novel that’s set in Iceland at a time of volcanic activity, geological uncertainty and jökulhlaups I find it important to submit it for publication at a time when Iceland is going through a period of volcanic activity, geological uncertainty with the threat of jökulhlaups…

Wish it well for me!

My third YouWriteOn review

And, apparently, 24 hours after my third review I get my first rating. I’ll be intrigued to find out how the rating compares to the reviews I’ve had. Meanwhile this third one is an interesting one…

You have talent, and it’s easy to see this developing into a viable novel, but I think it’s way too slow-moving right now. I like the potential of the structure – switching between Helen and Ben at the beginning could be good, but right now it’s too quick. My advice is to spend more time with each character, to avoid confusing the reader. Make the juxtapositions more obvious, so readers can feel it more strongly, and thus get caught up in the story more immediately.
I think more could be made of the setting. Iceland has such great landscape, and yet I found the descriptions strangely flat.
Perhaps consider starting with a scene of Ben and Helen together, so the reader can feel emotionally involved with both of them; or at least present Helen in a way that we can care about her. I can tell we’ll care about her more as the book progresses, but it’s important to catch reader’s (and editors’)attention right away.
Good luck with this. It’s well written.

but I think it’s way too slow-moving right now

It does seem to be an odd side effect of the fast-cutting style of scenes, that actually slows the reading of it down.

Iceland has such great landscape, and yet I found the descriptions strangely flat.

An interesting one this. I have been told by other readers of how well I discribe the landscape, the environment and the people, and how vivid the images are. Then again, I have also been told that I tell more than I show when it comes to the dialogue, so maybe I need to show more of the landscape too.

High Anxiety

I’ve had my first YouWriteOn review! I confess that I would have preferred something more positive; something that showed a greater sense of the wow, but it’s not unfair. I’m disappointed that the reader didn’t ‘get it’ quite so much as other people have read, although his/her (I have a feeling it might be a him but I don’t know) comments do in parts echo other feedback. There are also the requisite amounts of appreciation and praise (not enough, but hey, don’t writers’ always say that?!) that allow you to appreciate the true criticism of my writing.

I am a bit miffed that they concentrated so much on the nitty gritty detail when they do say from the outset that they can guess that it is a first draft (which it is). The words, I guess, speak for themselves…

the review

The inspiration of the night

It’s a curious thing that there does definitely seem to be a correlation between the more time you have to do something and the less that you actually achieve. So it is, that with a whole weekend spread out before me with acres of time at my disposal to write (as was the case this last weekend), that I only get to write as the weekend is evening. Again tonight, tired from an overly busy day at work, and with the evening crowded with a bit of tele I wanted to watch a bit of wind band website maintenance, diinner making and eating, and a few phonecalls, I still manage to write as much as I did in the whole weekend.

No doubt this next weekend, when I go away for the weekend, there is a good prospect that I shall write disproportionally lots. It’s just weird – and I don’t really think I will ever understand why it is so.

Oh, and by the way, anyone who bet on me not finishing my novel by birthday, is looking like they might have been right! 😉

The end is (not so) nigh

It’s always the same. The weekend is spread out before me with hours of quality writing at my disposal. Ample oportunity to to get within a last grasp of the finishing line that is The Novel. And when I am the most productive, at half past eleven on the Sunday night before my 6 o’clock alarm call for work? It doesn’t make sense. I will never understand it. That said, I have managed a (fairly) respectable 500 words in my quest to finish the final part six; past another couple of milestones, the one of 7,000 for this part, and the other, well that’s best seen for yourself…

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
90,103 / 100,000

A Celebration of Spring

A changeable weekend. An odd mix of cold and grey, and bright and sunny and warm weather. To complement this, I have found myself flitting from thing to thing, unable to settle for long. I’ve done a bit of gardening; a bit of reading; a bit of writing; a bit of television. My parents stopped by yesterday evening on their way home after a tour of the providences (Cambridgeshire and Oxfordshire).

This said, my rhubarb tastes good. My wisteria is on the cusp of blooming (so here’s praying for no more frosts!). And I have settled for long enough to write a good amount today… 🙂

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
88,566 / 100,000

The Thermo Tunnel is almost ready. Ódin has been revealed as his true identity. The scientists are putting together the pieces. And Helen, Hanna and Ben are forcing the Þurs to make a decision…

A slow down

I haven’t ground to a complete halt, but I am similarly not, going at the great speeds that I was for these last couple of weeks. As I reach the closing stages of chapter four, and the end of ‘act two’ of Blood & Fire I find myself staring at the screen waiting endlessly for the words to show themselves.

They will come. I know they will.

Until then, I must continue with these daily totals of 50 or 105 words. Every little helps…

Midnight learning…

It’s kind of fitting that on my first weekend back in the writers’ seat, that I pass the 10,000 word mark for chapter four, which leaves me with about a third to go before I can get stuck into the concluding two chapters. All in all, today I have written a good 1,105 words. Go me! ^__^

Current wordcount: 62,876
Current pagecount: 229

cutting between the emotions

28 words short of a grand

Returning at last to Blood & Fire I managed 972 words yesterday, which, considering with the exception of one day in July I haven’t written anything to it since 30 May is not, I reckon, too bad. There are some interesting plot twists developing in chapter four which I am really excited about developing, and now that I know (kind of) what the ‘final conflict’ is all about (more or less?) makes me a whole lot more positive that I’m going to finish this thing.

And of course upon finishing this thing comes the 64 000 dollar question? Will a publisher like it enough to want to publish it. Will potential buyers like it enough to buy it, and read it? Questions that I dare not even consider now. I like it. I’m enjoying writing it. I think it’s a good story with some good characters, but will anyone else feel the same about it…?

Time was, when I was writing a novel…

Do you remember me saying that was writing a novel? Bloody Fire I think it was called – no wait – Blood and Fire. Yes, that was it, do you remember? It’s all coming back to me now … I think I last wrote something in it on the flip side of the summer, back in the days when the days were lengthening, when the summer flowers were still buds in the minds eye and the media were talking up a heat wave…

Seriously? I haven’t really forgotten about it. Just that life seems to be have been getting in the way of constructive progress. Life? That thing that happens to you when you are making other plans – as they say. Well, I dug it out again today. Sent off a revised chapter to Helen, who was very, very naughty and put aside the writing of her own novel to read mine. Apparently it’s not half bad. Well that’s encouraging. And now I remember it, no, it ain’t half bad. I really ought to get back to it, get a move on, and finish it, so that finally, everyone can enjoy it!

In short, the procrastination must end…