jennygordon: (Magpie)
Something rather wonderful happened to me today.

Remember a couple of weeks back, I was bewailing the demise of my favourite notebooks, and mentioned that I'd written to the company who made them with a plea to reinstate them?

Well, this morning, my lovely Postlady (who wears shorts and bare legs no matter the weather) knocked at the door, bearing a large parcel. I got very excited and told her the story, then dashed indoors to open it.

IMG_3630

Inside, was a very sweet letter from the Notebook-Buyer-In-Chief, thanking me for my letter and informing me that they have decided to continue making the notebooks in question. They won't hit the shops in the Autumn, but hopefully the enclosed gift would tide me over until then.

The gift?
IMG_3631

IMG_3633

I know!

Eight of my lovely sparkly notebooks!

Look at them all. Aren't they perfect? There are even silver and gold ones, which I haven't seen before.

How exciting is that?!

I'm all blissed out in notebook heaven.

What great customer service. I'm utterly delighted. It's so kind of the lady who took the time to reply to me so quickly.

It's made my day. Made my week, in fact!

Now all I have to do is fill them with my stories (oh, the hardship - lol!)
jennygordon: (Naiad)
I'm delighted to the point of bursting to announce that I'm Guest of Honour over at the 'Heroines of Fantasy' blog today. 'Heroines' is the premier site for lively and on-going discussions of Fantasy, Science Fiction, Historical Fiction and especially women in genre fiction.

Thanks Terri-Lynne DeFino for inviting me to take part as your guest.

Come on over and join the conversation. All welcome!
jennygordon: (Star Gazer Lily)
*Oscar Wilde

So, as of Thursday last week, SeaNovel is done. And it really feels done this time. For better or for worse, it's as good as I can make it at this point in my writing career.

Oddly, while I've been itching to get on with my next project for almost a year, I find myself strangely empty of writerly impetus at the moment. Not in a bad way. It's more of restorative thing, so I'm happily going with it, and am enjoying the time to read and pootle** without the constant 'must write, must write,' mantra rattling around my brain.

Synopses and query letters will follow in due course, then it's off to the agents I must go.

For now, however, here are some SeaNovel statistics that I found interesting (though likely no-one else will). Curious that the novel has remained more or less the same length between the various versions, even given that Version 9a is significantly different from Version 8. I'm pleased that my final pass, in which I tightened, weeded, polished and primped the text, I've managed to lose almost 4,000 words. It makes it feel like did a thorough job.

Version 7 (the first complete version of SeaNovel - which was in first person) - 92,852 words
Version 8 (the version of SeaNovel that went out to my beta readers, and was in third person) - 90,568 words
Version 9a (the significantly re-written version, following reader feedback) - 91,354 words
Version 9b - (the tidied version) - 87,668 words

**I'm a world-class pootler!
jennygordon: (Tortoiseshell Butterfly (purple))
So, yesterday, I finished the current pass of SeaNovel (yay!)

This means I've now completed the major rewrite I've been working on since the New Year (yay again!) I've actually reached the end quicker than I anticipated. Well, I say "The "End", and it's not exactly that, because now I have to:


  • print out the manuscript and read it all through to see whether the story as it now stands, well, works (gulp!)
  • in the process of reading through, I need to work in all those little things that have only emerged as I worked on the latter stages of this version. Things like seeding plot clues, enhancing pertinent aspects of character and setting, and ironing out irrelevancies.
  • I also need to continue weeding out weedy words, and
  • eliminate passive phrasing, and
  • check grammar, spelling, etc, and
  • well, the rest kind of depends whether I decide the rewritten version of the story works or not. If it doesn't, I may cry. If it does, then it's on to writing query letter and synopsis, and deciding which of my shortlist of agents I'm going to query first ... um ... GULP!!

Roll on this weekend so I can get started.

jennygordon: (Peacock Butterfly)
I wasn't going to include this post until my mini-blog-project was finished, but since a couple of you have already noticed the changes to my blog, I thought I might as well say my piece now.

So yes, over the past week or so, I've been playing around with the look of my blog. I wanted to find a way of making my LJ blog double as a website, so I sat down and scratched my head over how I could do that. My solution is now (largely) live, and I'd be interested to know what you think.

If you look at my blog mainpage, you'll see on the left-hand-side of my sticky 'Welcome' post a new section called 'Quick Links'. Under this, there are: 'About Me', ' 'My Stories', 'FAQs' and 'Resources for Writers'. All but the 'FAQs' are live.

Knowing how much I like being nosy about other writers, I thought the time had come for me to stop being shy and put a little more information about me out there. It's a tricky balancing act though because, while I'm a serious writer, and have some short story credits, I'm not yet agented, and didn't want to look like an idiot, pretending to be something I'm not!

I hope I've struck the right balance in the information I've included on these new blog pages. I'll only be including FAQs about my writing of the kind that people really have asked me.

What do you think? Does it work or not? Honest opinions welcome (I won't cry, I promise!)
jennygordon: (Star Gazer Lily)



Yep, I've done it! The first complete draft of SeaNovel is finished !!!!!!!!!!!!!

WOOOOOOOOOOO HOOOOOOO !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I've had the past week off work, and was rilly-rilly hoping I'd complete the thing. I reached the beginning of the final gallop last week, you see. You know: the point at which you want to ignore the dishes and the actual paying job and the Best Beloved and everything, and just keep on writing and writing until you reach The End.

And now I have!

At lunchtime yesterday in fact.

I couldn't quite believe it. I had a little private celebration that involved hugging myself and clapping and pulling the kind of extreme happy faces you hope never get caught on camera, because they're really not terribly flattering. And then, I wanted to run around telling everyone, only ... well ... there wasn't anyone else at home to tell. I tried ringing my husband at work, but it went to voicemail. So I ran out into the garden and told the lilies and the lavender and the columbine flowers, and then I spied a bumble bee on the Ragged Robin, so I told him too. (He buzzed very enthusiastically.)

And yes, before anyone asks, I did indeed celebrate with chocolate ...
jennygordon: (Star Gazer Lily)

It’s everso terribly exciting. Lookie-look. Here’s where I’m at with my WIP (alias SeaNovel) ...



I was so excited, I just had to sit down and draw this visual representation of how well I’m doing.

68,000 words out of a planned 90,000!!!! That’s only ... *gasp* ... another 20,000-ish words to go. And, more to the point, plot-wise, the gallop to the end is in sight.

I’ve blogged before about how I don’t use wordcount as the be-all and end-all of tracking progress with my writing, and you can see at the edges of the page the other elements I like to keep in mind to ensure I’m on track. On the left is a breakdown of the classic structural elements of a book, and a note of how long(ish) each section needs to be for this particular WIP. The descriptors are from this incredibly useful article from the Adventures in YA & Children’s Publishing blog.

The scribbles on the right-hand-side note that during the first section, up to the 30K mark, I did a lot of to-ing and fro-ing and re-writing ... and I mean A LOT!!! And then again at the 48K mark, when I reached a point where I realised I needed to go back to the start and alter things all over again. It means that the WIP up to the 48K point is in at least the 8th version. Some of those versions are very short, while others are far longer, depending what I realised I needed to change.

I’m actually realising that it’s part of my writing process to spend around the first half of a book yoyo-ing to and fro, as I find it impossible to move forward in the book until I have what has gone before in a reasonable state. I’m not a writer who can just note any aspects I need to change, then go back and fix them later. I need my solid foundations, otherwise I know my word-tower will end up collapsing around me, and the characters will just stand there tapping their feet, refusing to do anything other than stare at me.

Mind you, all this revising I’ve done so far doesn’t mean there won’t be many more versions once this draft is done. Oh no! These on-going revisions are only a part of the process. Once I have a completed draft, I’ll be heading straight back to Square One and staring all over again (after a suitable break during which I shall thoroughly rinse out my brain). Which is actually one of my favourite parts of the entire process – the revision stage, not the brain-rinsing one!

And wow, it’s really not far off now!

I started this WIP in November 2011, and you’ll see that I’ve noted a tentative “End May” to complete it. Yes, well, I don’t think I’m going to meet that goal, but never mind. If I stand on tiptoe and squint really hard, I can definitely see that finishing line.

All I need to do now is calm down and get the hell on with it ...

jennygordon: (Blue Butterfly)
Just swinging by to share the happy news that one of my short stories has recently appeared in print. While I've been published before in magazines, and some of my short stories have both won and been placed in competitions, this is the first time one of them has appeared in an actual book, so I figure that's cause for celebration (any and all chocolate-based donations welcome! Thank you).

The book in question is a short story anthology by a British publisher specialising in promoting the art of the short story. The prompt for submissions for this particular anthology was just one word: "book."

I'd post an image of the cover, but since the anthology is titled simply "BOOK", and its jacket design is what you might call a reverse riff on the iconic Beatles "White Album", it's rather, well ... black.

Anyway, from the flyleaf:

"You, of all people, should understand the needy caress of the BOOK collector chancing upon a rare volume at a church fete, boot sale, or in the dingy backrooms of an antiquarian bookseller. Remember those treasured editions gathering dust on your shelves - they took months to discover; endless internet searches, telephone calls, letters unanswered, offers scorned and deals unfulfilled. And now the BOOKs - old friends! - are piling up around you; stacked on the stairs, leaning precariously against any available wall space, safely stored in wooden attic crates - but they are yours, every inch of their 'mint' covers, and every last letter of their splendid type!"

If you're interested, you can get hold of a copy here if you're in the UK, or here if you're in the US.

Oh, my story is called, "Between the Pages", and is a nasty, dark little tale of the power of obsession.

Now I'm off to eat celebratory chocolate ... *nom-nom-nom.*

jennygordon: (Blue Butterfly)

You know how some story ideas are little ones, and some are Great Big Ones, and how the little ones fit nicely into a short story format, and the big ‘uns often become novels (as two of mine have)?  Well, turns out I’ve had a fair few of the little ideas over the years.  In fact, the Million Words of Crap exercise was a bit of a revelation; I hadn’t realised quite how many short stories I’ve written. 

 

Thing is, most of them are just sitting there in the darkness of my lever arch files, blinking back at me and wondering if they’ll ever get a chance to see the light.  After all, they’re not doing anybody any good where they are at the moment.

 

So, this weekend, I’ve been spending a bit of time sorting through those 48-odd short stories with a view to trying to get some of them out there in the wild.  The stories cover everything from ghost stories to magic realism to dark fantasy, and while a small number have been published and a few others have won and been placed in competitions, a good number of the rest really would like an audience too.

 

On Sunday, I sorted them into piles of stories that need polishing, and those that are ready to go.  Turns out I’ve got 9 of the latter, and around 13 that need further work.  I say ‘around 13’ because some of them are so old I’m not sure if I’ll bother resurrecting them.

 

Of the 9 that are ready to venture out in the world, I spent a couple of hours researching the many wonderful short story markets out there, and submitted 5 of them.

 

It’s a tricky balancing act, as researching and submitting takes time, which has a lot to do with why I haven’t put much effort into submitting my short stories in the past, using my writing time to focus on my novels instead.  But so long as these little ideas keep spilling out of me, I think the shorties deserve some time investment themselves, so I’m hoping to spend some of my writing time on polishing and submitting them over the coming months.

 

Anyway, fingers crossed.  I’m really hoping that a few might get picked up and find an audience.  It would be nice.

jennygordon: (Angel)

I’ve logged on to LiveJournal this morning to read the terribly sad news that Diane Wynne Jones has passed away.  I’ve already written a little about what an inspiration her wonderful books have been for me here, so I’ll keep this brief. 

I’m sure Diana’s many magical novels have been an important part of so many people’s lives, and I hope she knew how immensely well-loved those books have been and continue to be.  At a time when so many ‘greats’ in all walks of life seem to be leaving these shores for the Land in the West, we stand here on the beach waving off another.  I wonder if she would laugh at that metaphor and refer me to her classic "Tough Guide to Fantasyland"! 

[livejournal.com profile] hierathsuggested spending the day wafting around the house in a silk dressing gown, à la Chrestomanci as a fitting way of paying tribute to her memory, which feels just perfect to me. 

‘Bye Diana.  Safe travels.

ETA: Neil Gaiman, who was a close friend of Diana Wynne Jones, has posted this wonderful and moving tribute to her on his blog:  http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2011/03/being-alive.html
jennygordon: (Clematis)
Er-hem ... I'VE FINISHED!!!!!

The re-rewrite of the Nasty Dark Fantasy is done.  Phew!  It's taken me 3 weeks - 3 pretty obsessive weeks of pulling between 6 and 8 hours a day
at the computer, every day of the week.  Even when I was lurgified.  Yeah, I know that's not particularly healthy, but I can't seem to help myself.  I've chopped out 30,000 words, (which is a lot, especially when you type all those 0s like that); I've hacked at the purple-prosage (come on, I put it aside 4 years and 4 further novels ago and I've learned a lot since then); and I've done a lot of work on making the main character more sympathetic.  And you know what?  It's hard to be sure, but I think it's better.  I think it's a lot better.

The thing is, I would never have managed to get this rewrite done in so short a time, and I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be feeling so pleased with it - No, I'm damned certain I wouldn't be - if I wasn't able to have a clear run at it like this, without the 9 to 5 getting in the way.  This summer of writing has been such a joy, I can't begin to say.  After years of squeezing in writing time around a 'proper job', it is such a luxury to be able to focus on it like this.  I haven't had the flow broken by needing to switch into 'Work Jenny' mode, I've been able to stay in the zone straight through, and it makes a huge difference.  It's meant I know when I need to cut a reference out because the scene it points to was one I deleted last week; it's meant I know when I'm over-using a word because I've worked on 3 chapters today and I've seen it half a dozen times already; it's meant I know when I need to flag up a plot point because I haven't done so in a while; it's meant I can keep the overall picture of the plot clear in my head to know how the shape of the book as a whole is coming together.

I don't doubt that all of you writers out there who have the luxury of writing full time, all the time, know how lucky you are.  I have 3 months of it this summer before I have to get another job to ... well ... pay for stuff, and I long for the day when writing alone is my paying job.  Seriously, even if you're mired in doubt, plot tangles or writer's block, take a moment to relish what you have.

Okay, I'm done.  I didn't actually mean to get that deep and meaningful.  Blame it on temporary euphoria!

So anyway, my 'To Do' list now becomes this:


1. Have a rest
2. Read someone else's book
3. Learn how to write a query letter for the US market and send a load out to chosen agents
4. Rest
5. Read
And ... um ... 6. Hold myself back from starting noodling with the next book, because, you see, I do have this idea ...
jennygordon: (Default)
Go on, ask me ...

Hey Jenny, so how's the Fledgeling Novel going?

Well actually, it's funny you should ask because I'VE JUST FINISHED IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yep.  In five and a half weeks, I have written the first draft of my first Young Adult novel.  Pretty flabbergasting eh?  Just goes to show what I can achieve without the flippin' 9 to 5 getting in the way.  I think I'm probably a bit euphoric - and I haven't even had any chocolate today yet - so this isn't likely to be a very coherent post.  Sorry about that.

I say five and a half weeks, and it's pretty much exactly that - the date on the draft is 21 June 2010, which was the first Monday after I left work.  Okay, so there was some brainstorming that took place over a couple of months prior to that, and some noodling around with a couple of early chapters, but on Monday 21 June, I sat down and began the first draft proper.  And now it's done.  Sorry, I just have to say that again - AND NOW IT'S DONE!  I still can't quite believe it.  All 108,000 words of it.  It's pretty rough, of course, and I'm sure it'll need some fairly intensive Finishing Schooling before it's in any kind of suitable shape to be allowed out in public.  But still, considering I was hoping to get a first draft done by the end of September, and it's not even the end of July yet, I think I've earned rewards of the chocolatey kind.

So, I'm off to find my hot chocolate and the lovely big bar of Dairy Milk I can hear called to me - oh yes it is - and to ponder what comes next:

  • straight into revisions and fleshing out, or
  • play in the sandpit of the sparkly new adult novel that's been nagging at me.
Hmm.  Answers on a postcard.

Happy News

Jul. 12th, 2010 05:00 pm
jennygordon: (Tortoiseshell butterfly 2)
I know some of you are aware of this news already, but I'm finally able to officially post that **I HAVE WON FIRST PRIZE** in the local section of the 2010 Frome Festival Short Story Competition.  I actually received the news about a month ago, but was asked not to announce it until after the prize giving, which took place yesterday. 

I was thrilled to win for a number of reasons, not least because the news arrived a few days before I left (paid) work and felt like wonderful affirmation of my decision to take the summer out of paid employment to focus on my writing.  It's always lovely to win something, of course, but for me, the real pleasure is in knowing that other people have enjoyed something I created.  And especially so this time since 'The Other Side' is one of the first short stories I've written for about 7 years, as I've been focussing on novel-writing.  In her talk that formed part of the presentation, author Kate Harrison, one of the judges, said that those who had been successful in the competition could think of themselves as Writers with a capital W and believe that, maybe, one day, they too might reach the glittering heights of Authordom.  It gave me a warm, slightly teary glow.  Short story writer supreme, Paula Williams, very generously gave a detailed comment on all of the commended and winning stories in the Local Section, and said some lovely things about mine (cue more warm glowiness).  Meanwhile, Alison Clink offered an interesting run-down of the record 555 entries in the competition - from all over the world, apparently, and all shared valuable tips on writing and the publishing industry.  I'm sure I wasn't alone in appreciating the time and generosity of all three in sharing their thoughts and experience with us.

Afterwards, we were treated to lunch at a nearby restaurant, which provided opportunities for meeting other writers, the agent who will be reading and feeding back on the winning entries, as well as chatting with Alison, Paula and Kate.  It's always fun to have the opportunity to get together with fellow writers at various stages of their careers, as well as being a great chance to network (and on a crappy night's sleep and with a steaming headache, I did my best to network my little arse off!) 

Some of you have asked whether my winning story will be available to read, and the answer is, hopefully.  A complete surprise for me yesterday was being told that 'The Other Side' is one of the stories that has been selected to be submitted to a national magazine.  There's no guarantee of publication of course (when is there ever?!)  but fingers crossed.  So it's a case of watch this space for now.

Well, watch this space and YAY!!!  Because in the midst of socialising and networking yesterday, I kind of forgot the YAY! bit.  Although I guess the rather amazing fudge ice-cream I had on the way back to the train station counts.

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