Saturday, 31 July 2010

PS - the worry wart!

I am by nature something of a worry wart...

Everybody knows getting a first book published is meant to be awesomely difficult.

So far the one author, one agent and one publisher who have read the sample chapters have liked them.

I sense a fall coming...

The problem is when I think about the fall I lose the courage to actually invest myself in the writing.

So, I need to tell myself it will all be okay. They will seize the completed manuscript from my grubby, toner-stained mitts, hand me a (miserly) cheque and publish my story.

I believe it and I don’t believe it. Believing it is essential – but dangerous. Not believing it will coat me in protective cynicism, which will unfortunately set like concrete and stop me moving forward at all.

In this situation, faith is the only way to go.

A milestone is reached...

Yesterday I hit the 40,000 word mark, which is probably around the halfway mark. I wish there was time to savour the moment - but I don't feel like there is. This whole angel fiction thing is coming to the boil – but whether it actually takes off or not is the big question. Both Gillie (my possible agent) and Paddy (my possible publisher) have said to take my time and not rush, but I feel this urgency to finish it.

I could easily become a hermit when I’m like this. My routine over the last week has been doing roughly 2000 words a day, the first 1400 or so in the morning. After lunch I’ve headed to the beach with my travel mug of coffee and gone for a good long walk, just letting the air blow away all the crazy. As I walk I record any snatches of dialogue or scene ideas on my mobile phone. Once I’m back at the car I park up facing the water and slurp my caffeine down with a notebook on my lap.

When I come back home it takes me a while to get those last 5-600 words down, but it feels good when they are nailed to the page (or rather the screen). I feel tired from the mental energy going into it all, but I’m also relishing this really simple life. I feel like an amoeba – sleep, eat, write, walk. The husband is absorbed in redrafting his PhD and I’m absorbed in writing this first draft.

Last night we went round to dinner with a couple of Colm’s work colleagues. They made delicious food and interesting conversation. It was a lovely evening and I totally enjoyed it – once I was there. Getting me there was like prising a limpet off a rock. I’ve gone into this quiet, internal world where I spend hours on the computer or at the tide line. My uniform is a revolving rail of tracksuit bottoms.

I can see why so many writers are a leetle bit crazeeeee!

Friday, 30 July 2010

The ultimate convenient distraction!

Okay, so finding it hard to get started this morning, and I'm browsing the net and I find this video ... ENJOY!

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Frikkin' dumbass dog owners

Now don't get me wrong here. I like dogs and I mostly like their owners too, assuming they aren't dumbass dogs or dumbass owners. And let's be honest, you *rarely* get a dumbass dog without a dumbass owner.

My definition of a dumbass owner is someone who lacks the skill, confidence or simply sheer will to control their dog. Typically these are the type of people you see getting dragged along pavements by their four-legged flatmates - or worse still rampaging insanely in public places because their dumbass owner has LET THEM OFF THE LEAD!!!

Today I had my usual beach walk, which has been proving pretty fruitful as book plotting time. I was getting into the zone, figuring out a tricky plot development for one of the later chapters of the Watchers. I had just got it all wrapped up and lifted my phone out of my pocket to start voice recording the scene.

Without warning a four-legged fiend appeared at my side barking and growling. It wasn't playful or friendly barking - it was properly aggressive, territorial barking. Of course I ignored it at first and kept walking. It then made a second run at me, getting itself into a slathering frenzy. At this point I turned to its moronic owner (a bespectacled woman accompanied by four kids) who was standing gormlessly watching the whole thing. I politely asked her could she please control her dog. She did absolutely nothing. Her kids ran about in a frenzy calling the dog, which although well-intentioned served only to whip the dog into even greater aggression. It then made a third run at me and I swear I was tense, feeling it at my heels as I walked, waiting for its teeth to sink into my calf muscle.

The worst thing is the dog in question was a miniature schnauzer, one of my favourite breeds and the dog I hope to get in a year or two. They are yappy at times but they're the kind of dogs who bark frantically and then come and lick your hand. This one was aggressive and untrained by its idiot owner. It's *ALWAYS* the owner's fault.

It surely does focus the mind...

As hoped, knowing an editor is waiting for your manuscript is a marvellous motivational tool. I've done 7000 words in the last 3 days and aiming for another thousand before I finish today. I've just started chapter 12 and I think when I finish it I'll have crossed the 40,000 word mark and thus be at the tipping point, where I'll be closer to the end than the beginning.

Traditionally I've been great at writing half-novels, but usually I reach the stage where *I* know the ending and think, "What's the point going on?" The thought that other people might get to read it and might want to know how it ends is giving me more focus.

We're heading away for a week on the 10th August, and the following week I'm back to work. If I can be at 50,000+ words by the time I go back to work I'll be happy. I've said I'll aim to submit by mid-September, so that's the goal. Fingers crossed...

Monday, 26 July 2010

I really shouldn't...

... be blogging that is. I have my back to the wall writing-wise here! Have had a week and half off that I could ill afford, and I'm sitting on 31,500 words.
The totally great news is that Paddy O'Doherty (Puffin Ireland) emailed me today to say that she really liked The Watchers sample I gave her and that she'd love to have the rest of the manuscript.
The bad news is that I don't currently have the rest of the manuscript, and won't have for a few weeks yet. I'm still writing it! However the last few plot tweaks are coming together so it's just a matter of getting the words down on the page. I'm hoping that nothing focuses the mind like having a commisioning editor waiting for your book... :-)

Friday, 16 July 2010


I have a theory (not a new one) that people get married when they have run out of steam for the 'out five nights a week' lifestyle. Out last night with the drama crew at karaoke, then back to the house for a few drinks. Got home just after 6am this morning. We have cleaned and bought food all day for our brunch for 12 tomorrow, and now are supposed to be going to a party.

All I really want to do is go to bed... zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...

Monday, 12 July 2010

Silly Season

Well folks, it's the 12th of July, marching day. We pretty much ignored it all, after I sat up half the night to watch True Blood. We had a lie in as el husbando is off work today, then headed to the beach to make the most of the sunshine. It was scorching earlier but the sky has started to pile up with clouds.

Back home we had some barbeque chicken kebabs for lunch out in the garden. It started to get very hot and close. We're back indoors watching the sky turn black.

Tonight we are heading out for dinner to Yoko, a nice Chinese / Fusion restaurant nearby. The Rosemary Drama Group are back in town for summer theatre, and I used to be one of their illustrious members. We saw a few of them at our wedding in April, so it will be nice to catch up.

The writing thing has been pretty dismal - finding it hard to get motivated, so have really just been scribbling notes in a book for the last couple of days. Not sure what's wrong - maybe doubting whether any of it will ever be published, in which case I might be better chilling out for the summer... :-)

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Cat with string

This cheered me up... my brother's cat Cookie playing with a piece of string. She's a bit reluctant to start with, but once she's in, her paws are a blur! Maybe it's a metaphor for me writing... ;-)

Soooooooooo borrrrrrrreeeed

Yesterday I crossed the 25,000 word mark, which was a good feeling. I should be raring to go today. So why do I keep sitting down at the computer, and surfing the net, checking emails and generally pockling round like an eejit?

I know where the next couple of chapters are going, and I know how the last few chapters will look. I'm at the stage where there's a chunk in the middle that's vague and amorphous. So far as I write each section the next section unfolds, so I suppose I will just have to trust that process.

I got up late this morning, and that always gets a Sunday off to a bad start, especially when you need it to be a productive Sunday. I don't want this whole process of trying to knock the book out to become something joyless, something that will make me resent giving up my summer to do it.

The sun is appearing in occasional glimpses. After I got back from the beach yesterday the weather became what can only be described as 'suicide weather'. Grey, monotonous sheets of rain pouring through the afternoon and into the evening. We heated up leftover Chinese and watched a bit of the football. Family Guy was on later on, great one - Empire Strikes Back theme. I rarely watch TV so it was a bit of a treat.

Think I need to get out for an hour and clear my head. Maybe then I can come back and sit down with something like enthusiasm. I read a tip in a book that says you should always do ten minutes free writing before you start writing, because it clears the garbage and gets you ready to write for real. Maybe this will be my free writing.

That'll be fun for anyone reading... :-)

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Back from the beach

Keep hearing about this heatwave they are getting in England - complete with health warnings no less! Looking out the window there is no sign of it here in not-so-sunny Norn Iron. In fact we're promised truly apocalyptic rain this afternoon.

We headed out for breakfast this morning, then got to the beach before the black clouds came in. It's not swimming weather but a paddle was definitely on the cards. Not too many cars on the Strand this morning which was nice for us but probably not so good for the town. Lots of absent holidaymakers. We almost walked to the barmouth, then turned and ambled home.

So now I am settling in at the desk, because the sky is darkening outside the window and it's shaping up to be what Colm calls 'writing weather'. I'm sitting at 22,000+ words so aiming to hit 25,000 by the end of the day. Got to use the holidays wisely.

My office is a crazy mess and really needs binned out, but don't want to procrastinate. So I'll do the writing first, and then see if I get to the cleaning. Mrs Mop I'm not...

Friday, 9 July 2010


If you ever feel down, or in need of something uplifting, take ten and listen to this song...

Notes from a small island...


I'm Debbie and I'm a writer-in-progress. I work with teenagers in Northern Ireland and I'm currently writing my first novel, aimed at teens. It's an urban fantasy / paranormal romance, and I'd love to see the story in print.

I'm writing this blog to chart the whole process, from plotting / writing to submission - and hopefully to publication! So where am I at to date?

The book has a working title of THE WATCHERS. It's an urban fantasy about a girl called Evie, who has a pretty crappy life. Only two things in her life work well - her drawing, and the very special guy who watches out for her. More on that later...

This week I sent a sample (first 4 chapters and a synopsis) to an agent in London. I was put in touch with them by the fabulous Bernie McGill (first novel 'THE BUTTERFLY CABINET' to be published by Headline on August 5th!). Bernie was good enough to read my sample and read it in one sitting. She gave me brilliant feedback, and really helped me make a few things clearer. Thanks also to her daughter Mary, who read it and loved it!

Today I met the lovely Paddy O'Doherty (Puffin Ireland) in a workshop organised by Yes Publications in Derry. Paddy gave our little group of writers some great insider info, and I was able to give her the same sample.

It's strange sending work out to people and knowing that I should expect a whole lot of rejections before I ever get any joy. I will try and be as honest as I can about the whole process! :-)

That's all for now folks! I'll keep you posted!

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