January Update

Welcome to my first post of 2015.

It doesn’t feel like there’s much to tell … so I’ll just get on with it.


Well, some a-little-bit-sad news, actually. Matt Donnici, who did the cover art for HEALER’S TOUCH, is deeply caught up in his work for the next Pirates movie, and so my publisher and I have opted to seek another cover artist. I’ve identified some possibilities from Deviant Art, so now we wait to find out if any are up for a commission …

Feel free to let me know if you know (or are) someone interested. We’d be looking for a similar drawing style to Matt (strong realism).


Writing Progress

Wow. Holiday Season, eh? It’s a strange one. In theory, you have all this time that you don’t have during the rest of the year … Yeah. Not so much. I worked through to Christmas, and my son’s kindy/daycare was open till Christmas Eve, then I couldn’t work on the non-statutory days because I had a child at home, but neither could I write because I had a child at home and my husband was working the non-stat days … Long days, too. So, it has been a very tiring time all round. However,

I have continued to plug away at MAGICIAN’S TOUCH when time allows (even slinking away from the family for a few minutes on Christmas Day itself) and, despite a bit of a self-confidence lull, I’ve managed to keep a reasonable pace on the days when time allows. First drafts scare me a bit, because I can sense the amount of re-writing that will need done even as I write the words the first time … But, you can’t fix what isn’t there. You’ve got to put the words down, and then sort them out. Some people can do all the sorting first, but I am not one of them.

I mentioned last month that I’ve been working in OneNote. This allows me a great deal of flexibility in how I construct my story, and I feel it’s working for me so far. I’m the kind of person who appreciates structure and processes for the benefits they offer in time economy, but I also tend to break said structures and processes … I set up a folder system to keep everything sorted, and then I go to save something that doesn’t quite fit in any one box, or any other number of things. As a busy person, I’m always on the lookout for ways to make my life more efficient (at the day job, in my family life, and in my writing — although, I accept, the creative process doesn’t really gel with efficiency goals), and OneNote is certainly helping with that. It merges my desire for sorting things with my desire for flexibility all together with my desire to handwrite things!

And so, my draft looks a bit like this for now:

Magician's Touch drafting in OneNote 2013

Normally I work in portrait as if I’m working on an A4 pad of paper, but then I think of details to add to a bit some place back up there and I scroll up and out to the side and I add bits (even more flexible than real paper … have I said I love this programme? I do. I admit it.) … and then I need to clarify, or add another detail, and so on …

Now, I’ve not been much of one to share processes to date, on account of still figuring mine out (it changes as new options become available), but I am trying to a new wee “trick” I’ll share with you. You see, as a busy working-mother-writer (now with two elderly-ish cats requiring small frequent meals throughout the day … just another time-suck), I’m always on the look-out for “tools” that might make it easier for me to achieve meaningful writing even if I only have a five minute window in which to work (rate of success still debatable, but I try). This month, I thought I’d try this little “scene builder” to help me outline and give myself goals so I don’t get too lost.

Scene Builder


This has been adapted from Larry Brooks’ Story Engineering “Three Ring Circus” and Jami Gold’s “Elements of a Good Scene Worksheet“.

It’s a v1.0, so no doubt I’ll adapt it in future … or toss it altogether. But with time growing ever shorter no matter how hard I try (what’s with that?), I’m seeking time retrievers constantly.

Granted, free writing is a wonderful thing because it lets you find dialogue and actions that you might not get to come up with when you’re too focused … but, life.

Anyway, if it looks like something you’d like to try, you can download it from here:  Scene-Builder.pdf.

Anyway, the one thing I lack in OneNote is a word counter, so I have no idea of progress in that respect. Storywise, I’m … making progress.


Non-writing Progress

I “completed” my illustration of Llew for marketing purposes:

Llew meme

Mind you. What do they say about art? Never finished, merely abandoned? Certainly true in my case. I might fix her up a bit (missing some shading I forgot)… BUT, I’m wondering if this particular quote is too spoilery for widespread, well, spreading. Thoughts? To me, it only spoils HEALER’S TOUCH, which I assume most people who pick up WARRIOR’S TOUCH in the early days will have read anyway.

And, if you haven’t read HEALER’S TOUCH, does this snippet even mean anything to you? Probably not. Which suggests, my efforts were a bit off course here …

I’m thinking of doing some Jonas memes.

A man’s gotta stand for somethin’ besides himself.


Jonas loved. Jonas lost. That was how it went. Every time he pretended otherwise, the world reminded him how it was supposed to be.

I’m happy to take free advice. And if my WT beta readers happen to be around and remember a favourite quote, that might be handy, too. My head begins to hurt when I start thinking about doing ALL THE WORK that it takes to get a book launched. And how much more I could do if I were to just put in the time (ha ha ha ha ha ha!) and effort.

I may draw one more meme (partly because I want to keep exercising my own illustration muscles because they need it), or I might just wait until I have a cover to work with … decisions, decisions, and not enough brain power to devote to them all!

Anyway, hopefully by this time next month I’ll be well on my way to having a cover for WARRIOR’S TOUCH … that’ll make it seem just that little bit more like a real book.

What I’ve Been Reading

I’m still plugging away at The City Stained RedI know. Over a month to read ONE book. And it’s not that it’s a bad book. It’s that magic ingredient … time. I will always make time to read. It’s just difficult at this time of year.

Coming Up

Well, I need to do all the set-up for my local writers’ group, of which I am president, for the year, which means coming up with a Year Plan (what we will do in each monthly meeting through the year) and sorting out paperwork and getting myself comfortable with being a “leader”. And the only way I can have the confidence to fill such a role is to do a great deal of planning. And what do I need to plan? That’s right … time (o: Recurring theme. The only “spare” time I have is the time I dedicate to writing if another deadline isn’t rushing up. I think this deadline is about to catch up to me, so that’s a top priority.

Hopefully will get onto cover development soon for WT.

Editing of WT will begin some time soon.

Commitments to the Day Job are increasing at the moment as I am part of the managerial team there and we’re going through some infrastructural shifts this year which will hopefully see us coming out stronger and ready to tackle the future with gusto.

In the meantime, I continue to balance that with my writerly, motherly and homely duties. Just trying to choose a suitable time to do the groceries can be hard (and, sure enough, the easiest time to go is when I could/should be writing …).

I feel like I just spent the entire post whinging. Is this a whingy post? It is, isn’t it. That’s just where I’m at for the time being. Ticking off the to-do’s as more drag themselves onto the list. Just like everyone else. No glam writers’ life, here.

Don’t get me wrong. The writing part is the part I love and the part I want to do most (although, having a cool kid is fun, too). The writing (editing, marketing and all the rest) is the part I want to be doing.

Well, time to go and make a dinner.

Tonight is hubby’s band practice night, so at least that frees me up to do my work without the “I’m neglecting my family” guilt. (o:

4 Replies to “January Update”

  1. I feel your pain! It’s really hard for me to put the writing first, when family waits for dinner, baths, and general motherly attention. I got a really good balance at the end of last year, and then we decided to move across the world, throwing all previous routines to the wind. Not having a writing group to go to anymore, I think that is a really important thing to keep in your life in order to stay on-track.

    1. I think that’s the hardest thing to deal with: changing routines. I think almost any lifestyle can accommodate writing, you just have to schedule it in. But boy is it tough when that schedule keeps changing! And moving is a HUGE change! My sympathies. There are writing groups around the place, I run one here in Dunedin (one I really ought to be preparing for for next week — eep!).
      Nice to meet you!

  2. I have been avoiding OneNote because I’m not using it for work yet, and I don’t have Office 2013 yet on the home machines. But since darling wife instructed me to begin writing a novel based on a dream I had the other day, perhaps I will try OneNote. As soon as I get 2013 on a machine I can use regularly. I also like your scene notecard. That’s a handy thing. I might use that also. Excellent tips, thank you!

  3. My love for OneNote definitely goes hand-in-hand with the Surface Pro 3 — the ability to handwrite digitally. I use it for writing and for my office job (saves losing phone messages on pieces of paper if they’re always in their raw form in OneNote …). I think better with handwriting, so it’s great to be able to brainstorm and then have all the benefits of having types (searchable text).

    Scrivener is also great for planning novels .. but OneNote is free (and even more sandbox-ish for those of us who love flexibility) … and I don’t use any other Office products, either (I use LibreOffice … free), although I admit to having been tempted to go full MS Office, because my set up is so darn close to perfect for me, I feel they deserve my money … but, then, they already go it when I bought the SP3!

    There is so much choice out there. The best thing is to play (if you can carve out the time (ha ha ha ha ha)) and go from there. I used to play, so I was pretty close to finding my ideal. I liked the idea of handwriting digitally from years back, but hadn’t found a hardware/software combination that worked for me until now. Now, I am very happy, and gladly sing MS’s praises in this endeavour!

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