2. The King's Riddle, My Planning, My Research, My Writing:, Other Projects, Whispering Caves

Canoeing, Gaia, the 17th Century and the Future

What do canoeing, Gaia, the 17th century and the future have in common? They are all featured in my current writing projects.

It’s been a while since I mentioned my actual writing and today I feel the need to clarify where I’m at and where I’m heading with these four projects. The clarification if for my benefit more than yours. 😀

The Canoeing (Mis)Adventure is a story for children. It is being written for a specific market and must be between 10,000 and 12,000 words in length. I’ve reached the half way mark. Problem is, I’ve been there for a while! I know where the story is heading and I know exactly how it will end, but the middle doesn’t give a toss about the required word length. The story wants to finish around 6,500 words. I know I should push on and finish the story and worry about publisher requirement later, but the lack of words is stopping me. How stupid is that?!

Wynter’s Boundaries is a short story for young adults/adults. It will be published in the upcoming Hope anthology later in the year. However, when the editor finished splashing the manuscript with her red pen, I found her comments overwhelming and daunting. At first I felt the story was beyond repair and actually considered withdrawing it from the anthology. However, not wanting to make rash decisions I put the manuscript away and let the problem(s) roll around in my mind for several weeks. Now I’m able to see fixes are available to improve the story. . .and my crushed confidence.

Whispering Caves is a novel-length manuscript for adults. It is a story I have revised many times. The characters are well known to me, almost to the point where I sometimes forget they are not real people. The problem with this manuscript is that I edited and revised it so much that I ruined it. Every attempt to rewrite it from scratch goes nowhere because the story starts long before my starting point in the manuscript. For that reason, I have decided to write the prequel first. When it is written, this untitled manuscript will be a solid foundation for the new, improved Whispering Caves.

And this leads me to the fourth project. This one is also untitled. There are no notes, no planning, but nameless characters and some crazy events are distinct in my mind. They roll around in that vast vacancy where my brain should be and I’m beginning to see a story set in the future, our future, that is somewhat chilling to think about. I already know the beginning and end, the middle is quickly falling together too. I think I’ll be compelled to write notes soon. I’ve always been an avid planner, however I have a feeling that the most planning I’ll be doing for this project is writing down a few notes, working out a few names and dates and then just writing.

Four projects. All of varying lengths, genres and audience. I’m usually a one-manuscript-at-a-time kind of girl but variety is the spice of life and I think I’m going to have four open projects from this point on. I’ll swap and change between them as I see fit, according to mood, timing and whatever takes my fancy. The prospect of doing this actually makes me feel positive! As long as I write, does it matter?

Oh, I just realised that I haven’t covered all my projects, so now I’m going to throw a fifth one into the equation.

Cat’s Paw is the second book in The Land of Miu series. The manuscript has been completed but it needs a final edit. I intend to do that once I’ve finished reading the book I’m currently reading. Then it will be ready for publication.

Marketing, My Research, Writing for Children, Writing:

From A Child’s View

I found myself thinking about book covers yesterday afternoon, as I visualised my unpublished books on the shelf of a book shop.  🙂

Whispering Caves isn’t finished yet, but I have always had an image in my mind that I associate with the cover.  However, Cat’s Eyes is finished and because of that, I concentrated on that cover more.

Later in the evening, out of boredom, I opened Photoshop and tried to put my thoughts into an image.  It was difficult!  When I went to bed several hours later, I had a cover that appealed to me, but there’s the big problem…

…I’m a lot older than the intended audience.

This morning, I left my warm bed and decided to research the covers of children’s books and I found From A Childs View: 30+ Creative Children’s Book Covers.

To me, some of the covers shown in the post look old fashioned (and perhaps they are).  The ones that appeal to my young heart are the ones with vibrant colours.  They stand out from the rest.  They scream “READ ME” and isn’t that what every author wants?

Don’t judge a book by it’s cover, but remember when preparing one that just about all readers do, so investing time into a brilliant cover is worth the effort.

1. The Land of Miu, 2. The King's Riddle, 3. The Lion Gods, Marlinor Archives, Mirror Image, My Planning, My Research, My Writing:, Planning, Resources, World Building

TiddlyWiki

Resuming work after a nice break is always difficult, but it has to be done if food is going to be put on the table. Today, I returned to work after a break of almost three weeks. *sigh*

However, I won’t dwell on that. Let me tell you what I’ve been doing – in terms of writing – since the beginning of the New Year. I’m pleased to be able to say that I have spent many hours every day on my writing projects. I haven’t actually written a single word, but there’s more to writing than the actual written word.

A friend told me about TiddlyWiki and showed me her files, so that I could see it in action. It’s free to download and use. There’s a tutorial if you need help understanding how a wiki works. Once downloaded, you just copy the file, changing the name of it (by doing this you can use the downloaded file over and over again) and then you can start using it straight away. There’s no real installation and it’s loaded onto your computer. You don’t need an internet connection to use it either, even though you use your browser when working with it. The file is small enough to put on a USB flash card too. It’s so easy!

I have used an online wiki before, so I understood the working of it, but needed a reminder how to do things like using the bold, italics and underscore features, and also how to insert images. There are plenty of other things you can do too ie ordered and unordered lists and blockquotes.

But what am I using it for? I know you want to know. It’s ideal for planning writing projects and for gathering all the research (including images you collect) associated with that project, into one file. Every aspect of the planning can be cross referenced too, which is brilliant! If you set up the wiki correctly, it will make your writing project organised, efficient and everything will be at your finger tips.

The first wiki I set up was for the Marlinor Trilogy. I have a lot of research material, which was placed in folders according to subject, but even so it was getting almost impossible to find anything (even when I knew the information I wanted was there…somewhere). Now that information is categorised, cross referenced and tagged…and there’s a search function too! Apart from that, I’ve also set up the planning for the story – world building, character lists, storylines, themes for each book, plots for each book and an in depth history, which also links to the research material to prove authenticity. It’s absolutely the best way to organise your planning.

Then I created a second wiki and started doing the same thing for the children’s chapter books.

I literally spent hours every day working on this, but the result is fantastic. I discovered I had changed the spelling of character names between book 1 and book 2 of the children’s series. That is now fixed. I discovered information in my original planning that had been lost or forgotten. That cannot happen again. I believe the children’s series and the trilogy will be better because of the time I’ve invested in getting these wikis right.

Now I intend to create a third wiki for Mirror Image. This is the project I should be editing, but I’m having trouble with. I’m hoping that, by creating the wiki, I’ll work out what the stumbling block is and get passed it.

I highly recommend TiddlyWiki. However, if you want to do the same thing online, from any computer, then I recommend PBWiki, which is free and you can change the settings so that only you have access to it. If you’re not using a wiki to organise your writing, then you should try it. I doubt you’ll be sorry.

My Research, Writing for Children, Writing:

Research: Comparing Young Reader Books

no-fraidy-catfishy-field-tripCatKid by Brian James is a series for young readers – I’d say 7 to 9 year olds. I borrowed a couple of them from the library in a batch of books I wanted to read for research. I picked “I’m No Fraidy Cat” because the title reminded me specifically of one of our cats (who acts tough but is a scaredy cat through to the core). “The Fishy Field Trip” was randomly picked.

These books, of course, are way too young for me, but I wanted to find out what was being published for the age group. The books I read, there were also two others I haven’t mentioned here, were good research material. They were published by two major publishers – Scholastic and Simon & Schuster – and I found that they all gave the same results, which were:

1. They stayed within a single storyline, which were not too complex.
2. They spoke to the target audience, using words I suspect the age group would find amusing and would trigger copy cat usage (kids love to mimic things they love).
3. Most centred on two main characters. The other characters were only used to help the main characters and the plot advance. There was little information provided regarding these other characters.
4. They were quick and concise. No flowery descriptions in any of these books.

I had a few more books to read, but I don’t think I’ll bother with them. I don’t actually write for this age group – or I haven’t to date. Instead, I’m going to move on to the next age group, which is 9 to 12 years olds. This is the age group I write for and it will be interesting to see the difference between the two age groups.

Mirror Image, My Planning, My Research, My Writing:

Getting Inside Your Character’s Head

This week I’ve been too caught up in promoting the online book launch party for the anthology to do any writing. However, the weekend is here and I refuse to let spare hours in the day not be put to good use.

Let’s talk about writing for a change.

The first draft of Mirror Image is in the last stages of writing. Currently, I’m on the second last day of the story, but a lot has to happen in the coming hours which will take the story to the climax. The events have been fully planned, so I know exactly what has to be written and, generally, I’m having no trouble getting the words down.

However…one character does some research in a library to find out what’s happening to her. I’m having trouble writing the scene because, even though I know the results she’ll find, I can’t find the right words to express those findings. I suppose this comes back to “know what you write”. The subject matter is something I have experienced first hand, but it is something I have never researched. I guess I believe I should include some technical information to make the research results sound more plausible.

I spent some time on the internet tonight doing a spot of research, but couldn’t find a single website that was “believable”. Now I’m wondering what would happen if I went to the library and did the research my character is doing…what would I find? It’s an excellent question, in my opinion, and I suppose I’ll have to go to the library and find out!

My Research, My Writing:

More on Volcanoes

During my short spurt of research, I’ve discovered heaps about volcanoes. It’s been a great learning experience, and I now know that what I plan for my story will be realistic. I was afraid that after I had finished the story, people “in the know” would turn around and say “that isn’t possible”.

Here are some more links. Many thanks go to members of my message board for supplying me with these resources.

Volcanoes Online – This site looks worthwhile. There’s factual information, a database, maps and much more. I think I’ll be spending a lot of time there.

Crater Lake National Park – A water filled crater. Be sure to check out the link at the bottom of the page for a virtual tour of the lake.

Arizona Sunset Crater – describes the surrounding area, including vents and cones.

Crater Lakes District (Australia) – This site proves that animal life, including fish in the crater’s water, live on.

General:, My Research, My Writing:

Volcanoes

I know what you’re thinking. What’s she on about now?

Well, it’s simple. Research. I’m a writer and I have to do lots of research. Not only is it interesting and builds my own knowledge, it’s important to the story. If I make a mistake, my readers will tear me apart and I’ll lose credibility. This means I have to be sure that what I write is right and when the subject is something that is general knowledge to some people then that means I have to be even more careful.

Volcanoes are looked upon as disaster areas. They erupt without warning and are deadly to those who live within close proximity. However, that isn’t what I’m researching. I want to know about “extinct volcanoes” and the links I leave here will explain what that means for my future reference.

Active, Dormant and Extinct Volcanoes – This site gives clear, concise meanings for the three categories.

Examples of extinct volcanoes – Kilimanjaro (Tanzania), Mt Warning (Australia), Chaine des Puys (France), and Elbrus (Russia). Well, how’s that, we have an extinct volcano right here in Australia and I didn’t know.

The Mesozoic extinction event – This page gives an insight into an extinct volcano site. The wording is a bit technical, so bring along a dictionary.

Hawaii Forest and Trail – This page has some excellent photos of the empty crater on Hualalai. This is what I’m really after. I need to know that there are empty craters but the volcanoes are inactive.

Now, I’m off to read the books I borrowed on the subject from the library. I love research. 😀

Grammar and Punctuation, My Research, My Writing:, Writing:

Punctuation: Comma

In years gone by I was extremely good with punctuation. I always received top marks for comprehension and extra marks for presentation. However, with the introduction of the internet, I’ve found that I’ve become confused with some punctuation usage. I suppose reading a lot of American websites has done that.

Lately, I’ve been wanting to return to the basics (as you’ve no doubt realised by my latest blog entries), and relearn what I had always known. I discovered that in most areas I had stayed true to what is expected in Australia, but I seem to have digressed in two areas. One of those areas was the comma.

Please note that the following usage is for Australians only (it definitely does NOT apply in America, but may apply in England). You should check what your regional standard is.

The Comma

The comma makes the meaning clearer by separating parts of a sentence. It sugges a short puase and is used in the following places:

  • to separate items in a list:
    We had sandwices, fruit, a cake and milk for lunch.
    (There is no need for a comma before “and” in the above sentence.)
  • to separate lists of adjectives or adverts:
    She is a bright, friendly, happy girl.
    The dog moved slowly, carefully, quietly and warily away from the cat.

    (That second sentence is a shocker; never, ever do that in your manuscript.)
  • to separate principal cluases in a sentence:
    They were tired, but they hurried anyway.
  • to separate words, phrases and clauses at the beginnings of sentences:
    However, I wish to disagree.
    In the afternoon, the opposing team arrived.
    If you try hard, you will succeed.
  • to separate words and groups of words that add extra information:
    My dog, Honey, swam in the creek.
    The captain, our best player, scored the goal.
    Sarah, who had a sore throat, stayed at home.
  • to separate words that are said in direct speech.
    “I know,” said Mary.
    “Would you mind,” I asked, “if I sat next to you?”

Sometimes the use of the comma is optional; you can decide whether or not it is needed, for instance, either example is acceptable here:
I hurried but I missed the train.
I hurried, but I missed the train.

Always use a comma if it makes the meaning clearer.