Tag Archives: manuscript

It’s Here!

14 Oct

Current Status: Migraine-y

Food Consumed: My nerves

On The iPod: Page One; Katie Noonan & The Captain

Word Count: Lots of (longhand) pages!

Remember a while back I told you I’d won a place in a writing retreat? Well, the weekend of the retreat is finally here, and I’m a bundle of nervous energy.

My weekend of intensive writing starts tonight: the meet-and-greet retreat dinner. I’ve never been too good at dealing with meeting new people (hence part of the nervous energy), and I’ll be on my own, too, as opposed to being with my husband, who is only slightly better at meeting strangers than I am. If you’re anything like me – shy, awkward, doesn’t like public speaking or public scrutiny – then you’ll understand my trepidation.

I also get my manuscript report this evening – this is where most of the nervous bundle of energy comes in! I’m trying to prepare myself for the worst – that my novel is a big ol’ mess and is beyond repair – but there’s still a little voice in the back of my mind (or heart) that loves my novel so dearly that I can’t even begin to fathom why someone else can’t love it the same as me.

I have this sinking feeling that the night may end in tears: my tears.

I’ll let you know…


I Come Bearing Good News!

15 Sep

I got the news in the BP service station outside Caboolture. I was on my way to Brisbane for the writer’s festival, and it was the first time I’d had phone service since I’d left home.

I didn’t expect to get a place – in fact, I was so sure that I had no chance of winning that when the email came through – “delighted to let you know you have been accepted” – I was struck mute for at least a few minutes.

I had just won myself a place in a mentoring writer’s retreat.

I’ve wanted to tell you all this for a while now (I found out a couple of weeks ago), but I didn’t quite know how to put it into words before. I’m still not sure I’ve done the news justice. Sure, to some out there this may seem a bit like overkill: to get so excited over something that, when compared to a publishing contract or something of similar magnitude, is quite small. But to someone like me, someone who has previously been too afraid to even put my work out there for critique, someone who has been knocked back with short stories and poems, someone who has felt the lowest of writing lows (and more than once), someone who has doubted her skills almost at every turn, well, this is huge and exciting and I still can’t believe this happened to me. Is happening to me.

My completed novel, “Times of Bright” is already with the author who will be conducting the retreat in a month’s time. During the three days she will provide me with feedback on my strengths and weaknesses as a writer, in order to help me polish the manuscript into something I can then send away to agents and publishers for consideration.

I envisage many rewrites in my not-too-distant future, but that’s okay, because I’m on the track to publication now. And I can only go forward from here.

My Elevator Pitch

3 Aug

Aspiring author Karen Tyrrell recently wrote a thought-provoking post on elevator pitches and just what it takes to get your manuscript noticed by an agent or publisher. (If you haven’t read Karen’s post, you should! It contains lots of handy hints to get your pitch just right – read about it here).

It got me thinking: what could I possibly use as an elevator pitch for my manuscript? For a while there I was stumped. I literally kept drawing a blank whenever I thought about it – kinda like when I thought about writing my CV or my synopsis, total mind blank.

I started questioning what my novel was really about. I mean, it’s a post-apocalyptic tale set in Australia, with a young male protagonist and a whole lotta angst, but that’s not exactly the most eye-catching pitch ever developed, is it? And then it hit me in the shower this morning – my elevator pitch:

“Everybody is capable of killing. Fourteen-year-old Ollie just needed the right trigger.”

Okay, so it’s probably lame and it doesn’t make mention of the end of the world, which is kind of the whole premise, or where the story really begins anyway. But does it describe the basic undercurrent of the story? Does it highlight exactly what makes my novel tick? Yes, I think so. My elevator pitch is pretty much my novel, in a really tiny nutshell.

But what do you think? Does it grab your attention? Is it punchy enough to gain the interest of a literary agent or a publisher?

NB: I christened this post with a picture of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, simply because I want to look at him.

EDIT: I’ve updated this post with my new and improved elevator pitch, thanks to Karen Tyrrell’s lovely advice.

Why Every Writer Needs a Critique Partner

20 Jun

Current Status: Caffeinated

Food Consumed: Caramel latte & cake batter ice cream w/ cookie dough

On The iPod: Poison in our Pocket; Whitley

Word Count: Oodles of pages!

Before I found my amazing critique partner I never thought I needed one.

I wasn’t convinced by the benefits of a CP, and I certainly didn’t relish the idea of someone I didn’t know picking apart my baby before it was ready for prying eyes to see, and likewise I didn’t relish the idea of picking apart someone else’s baby. I tried it, just to be sure, and after a few emails back and forth I decided that I was right to think that this CP business wasn’t for me. I was a loner writer and I would stay a loner writer until I was published.


I met my new critique partner on Twitter, of all places (I’m actually starting to think that Twitter is the new tool that every writer must utilise, but that’s a topic for another blog post!). We bonded over injuries that left us unable to laugh or sneeze without pain, and even though my view of critiquing was still in the back of my mind, when Ali mentioned shooting a few pages off to each other for a ‘tester’ critique I thought, “why not?” We seemed to just click in those few, brief conversations on twitter, and once we’d both returned our critiques we knew we were onto a good thing.

Since that first critique I don’t think we’ve gone a day without offering each other a few words of support, a few pick-me-ups of “yes, you can do it” and “the blocks will pass.” It has been a fabulous learning curve and has certainly increased my enthusiasm for writing in general, and the benefits of having someone there who really “gets” you, and this craft. Writing doesn’t have to be a lonely ambition, and I’m only just figuring this out.

Now that I’ve found my one-and-only, amazing CP, I think everyone should have one of their own.

Critique partners are invaluable to the writing process, if only to just be there in the midst of a draft, when your brain is fuddled and you think your latest paragraph is a piece of poo and you can’t seem to get past it until you make it better, you can shoot the p in question off to your CP and get an outsider’s perspective. It really helps the sanity levels, I can tell you!

I must stress that a CP is NOT an editor!

This is something Ali and I worked out in the very beginning – we weren’t there to be an editor to each other. We were there to be test readers, in a sense. The way our relationship works, in the critiquing sense, is that we “read” a chapter, and then we give our “thoughts” on what we think works, and what doesn’t. We don’t lay down the law and say, “This section MUST be changed.” We don’t say crap. We don’t say terrible. We just give our opinion, as a reader, and lay down ideas on where we think changes could be made to the manuscript. But these are just ideas, and we both know this (thought pretty much 99% of the time we agree that these changes need to be made and we make them).

Trust is a must. If you find another writer, or even an avid reader who is ready and willing to give their opinion on your work, and you trust them, then chances are you and your chosen CP are going to work well together. It’s that simple.

So, for all those writers out there who haven’t taken the plunge yet and scored themselves a critiquing partner, what are you waiting for? Why not put out the feelers, and see what you find? And if you do find someone and you don’t gel, don’t worry about it. There are plenty of willing readers out there to choose from – find the CP that is right for you, and I guarantee you’ll never look back.

And you may just find a new best friend along the way. I know I did.

Has anyone else had experiences with a CP? If so, what did you like/not like about the experience?

Absence Makes The Heart Grow Fonder

22 Feb

Current Status: Contemplative

Food Consumed: Cadbury Crunchie

On The iPod: Road Regrets; Dan Mangan

Word Count: N/A

It’s been a while. Like, a heck of a long while. A month? I’ve lost count. Which means I must have been super-busy to have neglected this blog for so long, right? Wrong.

Here’s what I’ve been up to (in compressed form) since my last post:

– I’m furiously editing my first completed manuscript. So furiously, in fact, that I’ve decided to scrap my third-person format and re-write the entire novel in first-person. Whether this is a genius move or edit-induced stupidity, I’ve yet to find out.

– I have a half-finished writing room. Over the last few weeks I’ve stripped the room down (a spare bedroom that we hardly ever used, so I claimed it as my own), sanded and cleaned the walls, puttied up the impurities, cussed a number of times when the putty wouldn’t stick to old putty, undercoated (twice!) and then finally painted the walls a nice, soothing, Tuscan yellow. Or half the walls. I haven’t quite finished yet. But I’m working on it, and as soon as I’m done, I’ll post the pictures here.

– The trip to New Zealand looms on the horizon. The holiday planning has been both stressful and exciting. Now that all the flights are booked, and the campervan is booked, there’s not a lot more I can do until we’re ready to leave or until we actually get into the country. Except bounce excitedly on the spot.

– Connecting. Networking. I’ve been a busy ant participating in literary chats on Twitter and joining blogging groups and finding crit partners so that I can finally get some feedback on my manuscript from other eyes that do not belong to me or my relatives. I’ve also been lining up crit work of my own, so that I can get a handle on giving concrit back to my writing peers, and finding those secrets that will make the editing process seem much less daunting (right now I’m scared shitless, and not in a good way. Is there ever a good way?)

– I was given the opportunity to be a guest blogger on YA author Steph Bowe’s wonderful blog Hey! Teenager of the Year. I’ve finished my post and it will appear on Steph’s blog in early March as part of her ‘Young Adult Guest Blogging Tour.’ It was such a pleasure to write and I’m so thrilled to be considered as a guest blogger.

Wow. I guess you could say I have been busy when you look at it all spread out like that. And it’s only the second month of the year. Here’s to many more busy months – and many more (regular!) blog posts from me.

– the writing ant.