I never win anything!

The last thing I remember winning was a bottle of Babycham from the Summer Fair raffle when I was at primary school. It promptly vanished and I never got to enjoy my prize, although my parents seemed quite chuffed (!) But, I can now say differently as I recently won a critique from a professional editor on the first 5000 words of my WIP!

I came across the giveaway on Kristin McTiernan’s new YouTube channel. Kristin is a professional editor and fellow author I know through Instagram (@kristinmagoo) and when she announced her new channel I immediately subscribed. I now eagerly await her videos to be uploaded. As someone who is self-editing one book and writing another, I devour any hints and tips I come across from editors and authors. Anything to help me improve. Her channel is no different.

One day whilst listening, I heard her mention a giveaway: a critique of 5000 words! I immediately entered with all my fingers and toes crossed. I’m nowhere near sending my manuscript off to editors, but I knew I would benefit from a professional’s opinion. Days later, a notification came through that I’d actually won!

After taking the weekend to make my first 5000 words as good as I could, I nervously pressed ‘send’ and a week later my critique arrived!

I received several pages covering “First Impressions”, “Grammar/Punctuation/Mechanics”, “Characters”, “‘Grab’ Factor” and “Editing Recommendations”.

As a teacher, I understand the benefit of constructive criticism, so the process didn’t faze me at all. It was great seeing the opening chapters from someone else’s point of view. Sequences and reactions were questioned which I would never have considered. Kristin herself was friendly with her critique but honest; the perfect combination needed to get manuscripts looking their best. I would highly recommend her and can already see improvements in my manuscript. All in all, it was a really positive experience. (Phew!)

If you’re in need of an editor or simply want to reach out, her website is can be found here.

Plotter or Pantser, which are you?

Now, until I’d joined Instagram and befriended other writers, I had never come across these two terms, let alone contemplated which I might be. However, since joining Instagram, I’ve quickly realised I am neither. It turns out I am a Plantser or Plotser, or whatever a hybrid of the two is.

This revelation shocked me quite profoundly as I am OCD. It doesn’t rule my life but it’s there. I like things clean and tidy but I’m not obsessive. My ‘thing’ is checking things: locks, windows, items, is my alarm set? Did I lock the car? Is the window that’s been locked all winter, still locked? Double check, triple check, quadruple check. It’s not (totally) a bad thing because I know for certain if something’s amiss, but it does waste time and I know it’s not healthy. But, I digress.

So, despite being OCD I’m not with regards to my writing. Contradictory, right? I mean, I plot. I have a basic timeline, chapter outline, back stories for my characters, I research names, terms, phenomena, anything and everything that’s relevant. But I don’t have the full outline written down. I know the key points, I know some of what happens in between but not everything; and writing like that suited me fine for Book 1.

However, for Book 2 I’m trying to plot more, not necessarily the entire story, but more. So far, I have worked on my Beats, but I could only plot so many; I have plotted and planned my key characters in more depth, using Sarra Cannon’s freebie “Plot your Novel”; and I am 5,000+ words into typing up my Series Bible (using the free outline courtesy of Bethany Atazadeh). And I’ve still got my plot embryos to draft!

I really recommend the freebies, they’ve given me direction and have made me contemplate things about my characters and world that I would never have done. Which can only be a good thing, right? Nonetheless, it’s been difficult. Not the plotting or Series Bible, they’ve been fun; but the Story Beats (a section within Bethany’s freebie). Bizarrely, pinning them down was really tricky; my brain reached a point where it couldn’t take anymore and suffered a meltdown: “I don’t know! Let’s just write and see!”

I’m certainly not a Plotter! I am determined though to do a month’s more plotting before I start writing. I have a feeling it’ll save me time later, and time is my most precious commodity.

Does this resonate with you? Are you in Team Plotser/Plantser? Or a clearcut Plotter or Pantser? Any tips you’d be happy to share? I’d love to know!

Today I created a #hashtag!

Today I created a hashtag for Urban Fantasy authors: #urbanfantasyauthorcommunity

I’d been think of creating a hashtag for a while but thought I was being silly. Then yesterday, I received a message from a fellow author who said how glad she was to meet a fellow Urban Fantasy author and it struck a chord. So, on checking Instagram and seeing no hashtag had been created, I created a post and made one myself. The response has been overwhelmingly supportive and I’m so excited where this could go!

Translating

As a qualified language teacher and translator, words and communication is extremely important to me. As such, I am going to start translating my website into Mandarin Chinese, before translating it into French and Spanish.

对这语言老师和译者来说,语言非常重要。所以,从今我就开始把网页翻译出来中文。然后法语和西班牙语。

What next?

After the festivities of Christmas, reality has set in and whilst I made some big plans at the start of 2019, within weeks it became obvious that these would be unachievable.

It has been a lot to admit that despite my original intention to publish The KeyMaster this autumn, circumstances won’t allow. I was so excited to think that this project I’ve been working on for so long might finally be on its way to the big wide world that it’s been crushing to realise this will just not be possible. Yet.

Besides coming to terms with this sad truth, these last few months have been frustrating for me creatively as my laptop finally gave up the ghost. Its memory had slowly been eaten up until there was nothing left and my documents just wouldn’t open.

I didn’t think it would affect me like it did; as a writer you feel helpless, like your creativity has been squashed. I know you can use paper and to plot I do, but to write I like to type straight away.

This last week, I have been fortunate enough to be gifted a Bluetooth keyboard from a family friend, so I can at least continue typing. But circumstances haven’t changed.

Consequently, my next steps forward are to finish the final edit of The KeyMaster Book 1 and move on to Book 2. There are some plotting and planning techniques I’ve come across through the Instagram writing community that I want to try (If you are a fellow writer, I seriously recommend you using Instagram to connect with like-minded writers. It’s such a vibrant and supportive community.) If you are interested in seeing how they go, keep an eye on my social media and website for posts and (hopefully) videos.

The KeyMaster: A Mood Board

I’ve never put together a mood board. I’ve always loved their aesthetics but just never put one together myself. That has now changed!

I initially saw the day’s prompt on Instagram and thought: “I haven’t got the time for that one”. But I made the time and, whilst it took ages (and it did), I’m glad I’ve done it. I have missed the deadline though… Ah well.

But, here it is!

The boots represent Erica, whilst Michael is depicted by his top hat. Time travel is key to the series, and is hinted at by the central and top left images. The black and gold of the top left and bottom right images reflect the spirit and soul. The bottom left are the sinister Lost Souls that are taking over the world and the top right depict the Faeries’ elemental powers.

I’m planning to make further mood boards for each of the key characters, but this is a general one providing an overview of the key aspects of Book 1.

What do you think?

(Pictures courtesy of Pixaby and Pinterest).