An Unstill Life

An Unstill Life
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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Déjà Vu Blog Fest

The Déjà Vu Blog Fest is the brainchild of the wonderful DL Hammons who is also responsible for Write Club and Blog Blitzing.  It's an opportunity to recycle an old blog post that maybe didn't get the number of eyes across it as you hoped.

This post is one I wrote back in October and I think it's worthy of being re-seen…

I've been working on an older story of mine this week.  Just pottering around with it, trying to make it work.  And because I'm not sure it is working, I started posting the chapters I've finished tinkering with up for my critique group to tear apart.

I got my first piece of feedback on my first chapter yesterday, and it was 100% spot on.

My CP pointed out that I was opening my story too soon.  That by starting my book with someone sitting in front of a computer, bored by his homework, I was going to start the book by boring the reader.  Even though the inciting incident happens in this chapter, that first scene wasn't going to compel anyone to read on.

She then said that while the inciting incident is good, it happens too soon for the reader to care.  That she needed to know the character a little better before he had his world rocked.

I agree.

I'm usually accused of having opening chapters in which nothing much happens because I always like to let the reader meet the characters and get a feeling for their world before throwing the crap at them.  With this story I'd decided forego that and jump right into the action.  I should have trusted my usual storytelling instincts.

So I went back and wrote a new chapter one last night.  Not an enormous amount happens in it, but I think by the end of it you know Tony a lot better, and have some idea of the struggles he's going to face  as the book goes on.

Having good critique partners is essential.  I can't stress that more.  You need readers you trust, readers who aren't going to be afraid of hurting your feelings if they think your work stinks.  You also need to be ready for critique, ready to accept that your work isn't as flawless as you'd like to think.

But more on that next time...

Do you have critique partners you trust?

Monday, December 15, 2014


I was at a wedding over the weekend and it made me think a lot about community and the very different groups of people we choose to surround ourselves with.  A wedding is one of the few events or places where people can bring together all the different communities we belong to.

In my life I have several, distinct communities.

First there's family.  They're a ready-made community and they're there regardless of choice.  I'm lucky that my family isn't too dysfunctional and for the most part we all get along reasonably well.  And I'm including my partner's family under that umbrella too.

Then there's my work community, the filmmakers and distributors and cinema people I deal with on a regular basis.  The people who work with me in the office and anyone who has ever worked with me in the past.  This is a community that grows and changes as people move around and change jobs, myself included.

Then there's the 'mum' community.  The people I've made friends with through my kids.  Some of these women have been my friend since the kids were babies, others I've met more recently through friendships my children have made at school.

And I can't forget the music community.  This is the one that introduced me to my partner, so it's one that is very dear to me.  And since music is one of my great passions, it's one I work to maintain.  A lot of the people in this community are not in the city I live in, so keeping in touch with everyone can be challenging.  The internet helps.

And finally there's my writing community.  This exists almost exclusively online, but is probably among the most important communities to me.  I can't imagine a week without chatting with my critique group or emails from my main CP.  I love emails from my agent and publisher. I love taking part in contests and helping newer writers navigate their way through the tricky waters of the publishing world.

The people I have chosen to surround myself with are the people who make my life complete and whole.  I can't imagine who I'd be without these people, so I value each and every member of every community.  But I can't see any occasion on which they would all come together in once space.  Maybe my funeral???

What communities do you surround yourself with?

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Celebrate the Small Things 12-12-14

This post is part of VikLit's blog hop, Celebrate the Small Things. Head on over there to join up! 

So, what am I celebrating this week?

I'm not sure if I'm celebrating or mourning, but I've cut just over 5K out of The Sidewalk's Regrets.  I'm still working on it, and hope to cut another 2K, but it's looking a little doubtful I'll get quite that far.  I have a few scenes I've marked as possible cuts, but my heart isn't really with them…  I guess I'll have to leave the final decision to my agent.

I got to see Nick Cave play on Monday night and it was awesome.  Not quite up there in my top 10 gigs ever because it wasn't the first time I've seen him, and while it was a fantastic show, it was seated and the other times I've seen him I've been right up in the front row with the spit and sweat spraying over me.  As far as I'm concerned, that's the best place to be at a live show, but for a seated show, we had good seats and I had fun.

I've made it through week 2 at my new job, and I'm enjoying it so far.  I like the people I work with, and that's always the most important thing.

What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Release Day for Last Will and Testament!

 It's here….

Yes, today is the release day for Dahlia Adler's NA romance, Last Will and Testament.  I know I've posted about this book before, but I'm so excited to help Dahlia launch it into the world.  She is such an amazing advocate for writers, this is the least I can do to repay her.

Plus, I've already had a chance to read the book, and it's good!  Really good.  You'll fall in love with Lizzie and Connor and really root for them to be together even when things look impossible.  But don't take my word for it.  The book is available now, so click on one of the links below and get it for yourself.

Title: Last Will and Testament
Series: Radleigh University 
Author: Dahlia Adler
Pub date: December 9, 2014
Buy links: Amazon B&N | iBooks | Smashwords | Kobo

Blurb: Lizzie Brandt was valedictorian of her high school class, but at Radleigh University, all she's acing are partying and hooking up with the wrong guys. But all that changes when her parents are killed in a tragic accident, making her guardian to her two younger brothers. To keep them out of foster care, she'll have to fix up her image, her life, and her GPA—fast. Too bad the only person on campus she can go to for help is her humorless, pedantic Byzantine History TA, Connor Lawson, who isn't exactly Lizzie's biggest fan.

But Connor surprises her. Not only is he a great tutor, but he’s also a pretty great babysitter. And chauffeur. And listener. And he understands exactly what it’s like to be on your own before you're ready. Before long, Lizzie realizes having a responsible-adult type around has its perks... and that she'd like to do some rather irresponsible (but considerably adult) things with him as well. Good thing he's not the kind of guy who'd ever reciprocate.

Until he does.

Until they turn into far more than teacher and student.

Until the relationship that helped put their lives back together threatens everything they both have left.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Weekly goals 8-12-14

This week's goals involve cutting words, not making word count.  My agent asked me to make some cuts to The Sidewalk's Regrets before we take it out on submission, so I'm sifting through the book, looking for scenes and sentences and even single words I can cut out without losing anything important.  So far, I've managed to lose about 5K.  It may be all I can do, but I'd like to try and get another 2K or so out if I can.

Once I've finished cutting, I'll go back to my NaNo book and try to finish it.  I'd like to get done by Christmas so I can set it aside to rest until the kids go back to school at the end of January.  Not sure that's going to happen, but I'll give it a shot.

While My Murder Year is resting, I have an NA book I've been working on off and on over the past year, and I plan to try and get that finished over the summer holiday period.

I'm heading into my second week of my new job, so I'm hoping to start feeling like I have more of handle on what I'm doing….  And I hope to get some Christmas shopping done in my lunch-breaks.  I'm feeling pretty behind on that because I haven't really started.

What are your goals this week?

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Celebrate the Small Things 5-12-14

This post is part of VikLit's blog hop, Celebrate the Small Things. Head on over there to join up! 

So, what am I celebrating this week?

I started my new job on Monday and I've had a good first week.  I definitely have a lot to learn, but I think I'm going to really enjoy it.  I've never worked a regular job with regular hours, so the prospect of having a whole two day weekend is pretty exciting too.  

I haven't made as much progress on finishing my NaNo book as I wanted to.  Earlier in the week I got notes from my agent about some cuts she thought I should make to The Sidewalk's Regrets, so I've been busily snipping bits out of that MS instead of writing new words for My Murder Year.  Cutting words is HARD!

On Monday I'm going to see Nick Cave play a solo show.  Having been a huge Nick Cave fan for almost 30 years, this is very exciting and I can't wait.

What are you celebrating this week?

Monday, December 1, 2014

Weekly Goals 1-12-14

With NaNo finished, I'm no longer writing like a madwoman, but I do want to reach the end of my book.  So my goal this week is to write my usual 1500 words per day and just plod my way to the book's conclusion.  I figure it's not too far away, and I'm hoping to finish before Christmas so I can enjoy some time off from writing around the holidays.

I started my new job yesterday, and boy do I have a lot to learn!  So a lot of my energy is going to have to go toward that over the next few weeks.  I think I'm going to really enjoy it, but at the moment it's a steep learning curve.  Also, I'm going to have to adjust to the new hours and try to fit my life around them. Finding time to go to the gym looks like it might be more of a challenge than I thought!

With December having arrived, I guess I have to start thinking about Christmas and gifts.  I shall have to be organized and figure out who I need to get presents for, and what to get them.

What are your goals for the week?