Yearly Archives:: 2014

Kallanash update: final edits done

July 6, 2014 The Plains of Kallanash, Writing musings 12

I’ve spent the last few weeks feverishly revising ‘The Plains of Kallanash’ in light of the comments received from my beta readers. And when I say ‘feverishly’, sometimes it almost felt as if I were literally feverish – I’d go to bed thinking about edits, I’d wake up thinking about them, and sometimes I even dreamt about them. It was hard work, and a great deal of it was spent, not pecking away at the keyboard, but just mulling over ideas. Not much else got done, although I’ve found that mindless occupations like ironing or gardening are excellent pondering opportunities.

After the pondering and the final rewriting, I read through the whole book one final time to tighten up excessive wordiness, and looking out for last minute gotchas resulting from the revisions. No use removing that unwanted chunk of text if a different part of the book refers to the missing event. And I found one place where a character had changed gender in the revisions, yet I still had a scene referring to ‘her’ as ‘him’. Oops. Read more »


Update on Wattpad

June 30, 2014 Publishing/marketing 0

It’s coming up for two months since I started posting chapters of ‘The Plains of Kallanash’ on Wattpad (previous posts here and here), so this seems like a good time for an update. First, some stats.

Chapters posted: 27

Followers: 27

Reads: 543 (each person reading one chapter counts as one read)

Votes: 102

Comments: 97

I post one new chapter a week, usually on a Friday morning. At the current rate of progress, I should reach the last chapter at the end of January. Read more »


Update on Bookvetter

June 17, 2014 Publishing/marketing 0

A few weeks back I signed up for Bookvetter, a site which allows authors to peer-review each other’s completed novels and achieve a degree of approval which then connects to book bloggers. I said at the time that I liked the idea of it, and I still do, but I’m not sure how well it’s working at the moment.

Here’s how it’s supposed to work. Authors post their own completed novel for review, selecting the number of reviews they wish to receive. They then have to review the same number of books in return before they can see any reviews posted for their own work. To achieve ‘vetted’ status takes at least six reviews of your work which agree that it is of publishable quality. Which means you have to complete six reviews of other authors’ work. At least. It’s a long process. Read more »


Final editing and beta reports

June 15, 2014 The Plains of Kallanash, Writing musings 4

I’ve had a number of beta readers report back to me, and I’m now running through ‘The Plains of Kallanash’ one more time, incorporating final edits. I had a weekend away recently, which allowed me to read the whole book through from beginning to end, so I have my own notes on changes I want to make, as well. Some of them are easy: typos, repetition, adding in a little foreshadowing, tightening descriptions. But some are less easy. Here are a few problems that have come up:

1) Your main character is too passive. Well, yes, she is a timid, meek character, who does what she’s told and doesn’t exhibit much agency initially. That is very much in her nature, and, to be honest, if she had even an ounce of assertiveness in her, she’d have put her foot down in chapter 3 or 4, told her two men how things were going to be, and there would have been no story. So it’s difficult to make her more assertive without destroying the entire plot. Read more »


Cover reveal for ‘The Plains of Kallanash’

June 4, 2014 Publishing/marketing, The Plains of Kallanash 4

If you read my previous post on cover art, you’ll know that I decided to pay the professionals to design something for me, since my artistic skills are non-existent. I found some pre-made artwork that captured something of the feel I was hoping for, so I was able to pass that along to the designer as a starting point.

The beauty of custom cover art is that you can ask for whatever imagery or symbolism you want. I knew I wanted to capture the vastness of the plains – that big sky effect. I also suggested using pampas grass heads to represent the sort of grasses growing there. I asked for a fantasy-style font, and maybe some glowing letters, since that plays a part in the plot.

Read more »


‘The Plains of Kallanash’: bonus scene (Jonnor’s interview)

June 2, 2014 Character profile, The Plains of Kallanash 0

‘The Plains of Kallanash’ is written with just two point-of-view characters, Mia and Hurst, so everything that happens is seen through the eyes of one or the other of those two. Nevertheless, there are other characters who have a significant impact on the story, whose actions and feelings and ideas resonate throughout the book. Some of them, like Tella, will always remain mysterious. Some, like Hurst’s Companions and family, are fairly transparent, so don’t need elaboration.

And then there’s Jonnor. As the lead husband in the marriage, Jonnor has a very big impact on both Mia and Hurst, and sometimes his actions seem contradictory or unusually volatile. One such occasion is after his first interview at the Ring. Before this, he is openly hostile towards Hurst, but afterwards he makes some effort to reach out to him. This scene explains some of this. It is also written from Jonnor’s point-of-view, so is an interesting look at the man beneath all the posturing.


Read more »


Writing update

May 27, 2014 Current writings 0

I recently passed the 100,000 word mark on my current writing project, which seemed like a good point to take a moment and review the state of my writing so far. I’ve been writing seriously (as in stories with a beginning, middle and end, rather than random dabbling) for perhaps three or four years now, resulting in two complete novels and two incomplete.

The Plains of Kallanash A 220K word behemoth (so it’s epic fantasy, it’s meant to be big, all right?), finished in first draft form in May 2013, left to brew for several months, critiqued in part on Scribophile (my online critique group) and currently with beta readers. I’ve set a deadline of mid-June for beta feedback, then I’ll do a final revision phase, with the objective of getting it to my proofreader by mid-July. The cover art is scheduled for early June, so after a final pass for typos in August, it should be ready to publish in September. Read more »


Bookvetter: an interesting website for self-publishers?

May 18, 2014 Writing musings 2

Self-publishers have many hurdles to overcome along the way, but two of the biggest problems are getting the book up to professional writing standards, and attracting the attention of book bloggers. BookVetter is a new site which attempts to address both these issues.

For the first, Bookvetter allows writers to post their finished books for review by other authors. Naturally, this isn’t a no-work affair; before you can see reviews of your own work, you have to review other people’s books on a one-for-one basis. Reading and reviewing entire first draft books in order to have your own book reviewed is very time-consuming, so it’s not going to be an option for everyone. If an author already has a tranche of beta readers lined up, then Bookvetter is not going to add much, if anything.

However, for anyone who has no reliable source of beta readers, this might be a good alternative. I’m a big fan of online critique sites where authors comment on other author’s work on a chapter by chapter basis, and this could be the ideal extension of that, encompassing the whole book. You can start at the ‘draft’ level, requesting from one to five reviews. Then you can revise and resubmit, however, for each review you request, you have to review a book yourself, so it’s not a process to be undertaken lightly. Read more »


Edit as you go: good or bad idea?

May 16, 2014 Writing musings 6

I recently stumbled across this blogpost by fantasy writer Victoria Grefer, which explains in very logical detail why it’s a bad idea to edit while in the middle of writing the first draft. It makes total sense: the first draft is the time to get stuff down on paper (metaphorically) while not worrying too much about whether it’s tight enough or has the emotional impact you want. The editing phase is the proper time to reread what you wrote and polish it into shape. Write it first, rewrite it later. Good advice.

Except that I do the exact opposite. Every day when I settle down for a writing session, I reread what I wrote the day before and – yes, I edit it. I tighten, I smooth, I polish, from the level of removing or rejigging entire paragraphs to changing words here and there and fixing typos. Then, when I start on the new writing, I’m quite happy to go back and rewrite an earlier section if I feel it needs doing. Read more »


On Wattpad

April 29, 2014 Publishing/marketing 0

When I was first mooting the idea of putting ‘The Plains of Kallanash’ out in the world in some shape or form, one of the ideas I had was Wattpad, a site where authors post chapters of their work for readers to enjoy for free. I signed up and tried it out, although I came away rather bemused (you can read the results here).

Now that a number of chapters have been posted on the blog, and the necessary steps for publication are underway, it seemed like a good time to revisit the Wattpad idea. About three weeks ago, I started posting chapters there, the first four, followed by a couple a week until it catches up with the blog (because if I had to cope with two different sites at different stages of the book for long, my head would explode). Read more »