A slow writing week

This week has been particularly slow on my plot study for NaNoWriMo 2016, I’ve only managed 6,500 words when I ought to have reached 20,000 per the schedule.

I did a bunch of novel related things like write a synopsis for my first book, research, editing and adding to my second book, but these only count morally.

I’ll keep writing, as even a fraction of the goal is better than giving up early. You know what they say about “slow and steady”… and who knows, perhaps I’ll magically catch up by the end of the month!

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Rejection #2: Moments of Concentration

Another kind set of words that the book is engaging but not right for them. Because I did a lot of research into the agents and editors, I know that they have chosen a lot of books like mine.

This is telling me I need to make the story more unique, my protagonist’s voice stronger. While I wait to hear back from all the agents and editors, I’m focusing on creating moments of concentration.

Haruki Murakami said: 

“The great mystery writer Raymond Chandler once confessed that even if he didn’t write anything, he made sure he sat down at his desk every single day and concentrated.

I understand the purpose behind his doing this. This is the way Chandler gave himself the physical stamina a professional writer needs, quietly strengthening his willpower.”

 

Rejection #1: Feedback is Gold

After just under 3 months, I’ve heard back from the first person out of 6 editors and agents I pitched. I’m deeply appreciative that they read the whole book and provided insight into why they’re passing on it.

They liked it, but didn’t think it was unique enough in a crowded market. I know my pitch worked enough to gain attention, but the manuscript didn’t follow through.

Getting feedback from an industry professional is like gold.

I hope that all my rejections come with something to help me learn.

The Art of the Plot Study (NaNoWriMo 2016)

National Novel Writing Month is such fun – writing a 50,000 word novel in one month. This year I’m using it to complete a 50K “plot study”. I hope it becomes a great way to give the inner critic a much deserved vacation.

I like the idea of a new term for this, how about “plot study”? In art, “a study is a drawing, sketch or painting done in preparation for a finished piece, or as visual notes. Studies are often used to understand the problems involved in rendering subjects and to plan the elements to be used in finished works, such as light, color, form, perspective and composition.”

I’d define a “plot study” as “a study is a draft done in preparation for a finished piece. Plot studies are often used to understand the problems involved in rendering characters and to plan elements needed, such as story arc, characters and plot techniques.”

Hope to see everyone working on something fun, whether you’re in NaNoWriMo or not. 

A Perilous Undertaking by Deanna Raybourn

perilous.jpgThe second book in Deanna Raybourn’s new series is a romantic suspense with elements of mystery. Her prose and story-telling is excellent, very beautifully rendered, so that even if you’re not a big fan of the smoldering chemistry between the protagonists, you’ll stick around for the writing.

Set in England in 1887, Veronica Speedwell is a butterfly collector with a secret past and a passion for observing. She’s a cross between Flavia de Luce, Sherlock Holmes and a romance heroine. She habours a not-yet-consummated longing for the handsome Stoker, who may look like ruffian but acts not at all like one.

Veronica is asked to do the impossible – clear an artist convicted of murdering his pregnant mistress in one week before he hangs. Caught between the royalty and attractive but morally questionable artists, Veronica and Stoker have their work cut out for them.

If you’re a mystery lover, then the murderer will likely be obvious in the first few chapters. There are certain things you just know how to look for. But how Veronica and Stoker discover and trap the killer remains an interesting and satisfying read.

(Review of book #1, A Curious Beginning)

30-day ebook loan courtesy of NetGalley.

Behind the Lines by WF Morris

behindlines.jpg“Her eyes were shining like stars – stars in the mist.”

A moving account of a kindly, decent soldier who accidentally kills a cowardly senior officer. Instead of trying to explain, he makes a run for it, leaving behind friends and his ambulance-driving fiancee.

He ends up living among the deserters. Not unlike the military, the deserts have their own code and pecking orders. Rawley goes from a decent officer to an unkempt but decent deserter, filthy and ragged.

Between scavenging and run-ins with the military, the casual moments of horror are made all the more stark. When Rawley runs into his financee again, she wants to have the honeymoon before they are drawn apart. But Rawley is “clinging to decency” by the barest thread in refusing. She says “two weeks of happiness out of – perhaps a whole lifetime. It seems such a little to ask of life.”

But the ending, so poignant, is well worth the read.

Thanks to NetGalley for the 30-day ebook loan.

Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew’d by Alan Bradley

flaviaIf you like snarky protagonists in Gothic mansions with a passion for crime solving, you will love Flavia de Luce. This is the 8th book she features in, complete with beautiful phrases and lovely title. You don’t need to read the earlier books, but you’ll miss out on a depth of character if you don’t.

Flavia is a precocious 12 year old girl living with her cold British father, resentful elder sisters and brooding loyal manservant. She’s a passionate chemist and believer in science. She loves her bicycle Gladys and her chicken Esmerelda more than she loves her family, but occasional hints of sentiment poke through.

“The de Luce blood is stronger, after all, than sentiment.”

The mystery in this installment is the death of an old woodworker, which Flavia solves while trying to cope with her father’s desperate illness, the death of Esmerelda and overly enthusiastic newcomer Carla. A light mystery compared to some of her others, but the book has plenty of action and a sad ending.

Thanks to NetGalley for the 30-day ebook loan.

Finished book #2 at last

 

In August, I sent book #1 of my 1920s mystery series to a few agents and editors. My fingers are crossed but I won’t hear back for at least another few months. And realistically, I’m likely to get a stack of polite rejections.

But who cares today?! Hurrah for finally finishing book #2! I’ve lost count of how many major and minor revisions I’ve done as I started it a few years ago.

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This 1920s photo is pretty much how I feel!

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But this sweet, crazy-eyed dog is probably how I look.

I hope everyone’s work is going well lately, any major milestones you’ve hit?

A Proposal to Die For by Vivian Conroy

todieforA Proposal to Die For is a combined romance and mystery with the winning Lady Alkmene Callender. It goes quickly and is easy to read, with Lady Callender proving to be an enjoyable narrator. I like that she’s bored and this inspires her investigation, rather than thinking herself special.

From the book’s description: ‘With her father away in India, Lady Alkmene Callender finds being left to her own devices in London intolerably dull, until the glamorous Broadway star Evelyn Steinbeck arrives in town! Gossip abounds about the New York socialite, but when Ms Steinbeck’s wealthy uncle, Silas Norwhich, is found dead Lady Alkmene finds her interest is piqued. Because this death sounds a lot to her like murder…’

It should include the romance angle, since this features quite heavily in the book. There’s a mysterious reporter in the tall, dark and intriguing category. Lots of flashing looks and sizzling arguments.

The mystery of Mr. Norwhich’s death is a prominent part of the story. I love the setup for the crime and the host of suspects. The murder proves to be fairly straightforward and has few twists, but I enjoyed the book and would give the next one a try.

30-day ebook loan courtesy of NetGalley.

A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas

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A Study in Scarlet Women is a compelling take on Sherlock Holmes, probably quite distant from what Doyle would ever have imagined for his detective. Especially since he didn’t even want to keep writing Sherlock Holmes and was forced by public demand to revive him from an early death.

I intended to read only a chapter or two, but polished off the book in one sitting. There’s so much to love about the book, especially the feminine, food-loving Charlotte Holmes with a brilliant mind who gives herself the name Sherlock. The book’s concise characters, rapid pace and innumerable twisted threads gathered expertly together make this an excellent read. The mystery’s ending is rather dark, though handled with discretion.

Personally I was disappointed by her passion for Lord Ingram, though it is well written. I was hoping for Charlotte to prove as unusual in her love affairs as she is in habits. There’s something winning about the juxtaposition of a brilliant, daring mind with a fondness for baked goods, love of ruffles and a quotient of chins she allows herself.

I look forward to reading the next installment in the series. This is a NetGalley read that I decided I needed to purchase at my local bookstore!