on the writing & reading trail

Posts tagged ‘edit’

Edit diary and more . . .

The blog has had little attention of late – preoccupied with family matters.  But I managed to fit in some of the usual action – working towards publication of the first novel of a family saga series, writing, learning, reading, meeting friends, walking, melting in the heat. Fortunately not affected by the fires apart from intermittent smoke pall. Thoughts are with those who have lost so much.

Editing: Almost half-way through what is to be the final edit of Book One – Past imperfect. Making few and minor changes only.

Writing: Focussed on front and back matter for Past imperfect. Hadn’t given this serious thought before, but getting there. Still need to clarify permissions for several quotes. I’m hoping two are now in the public domain, but it’s a challenge to confirm that. Intending to publish first with Smashwords and then investigate the others.

Starting to gather plot ideas for the fourth, probably final book in the series. No title yet but the main characters will be familiar from previous books. One focus will be on international adoptions with Australia as the main setting. And of course the African connections will be maintained.

I’m hoping to work in parallel on non-fiction topics through 2013.

Book cover: Totally delighted with first draft for the Past imperfect cover and the designer’s proposals for the others. The master design will be modified for the next two or three books to reflect differences in location and content focus.

Changes pending

Changes pending

Pen name: I’ve been dallying over a pen-name for my fiction writing for a while and have eventually settled on Winfreda Donald. There is a story to that choice which I’ve included in the back matter for Past imperfect.

Colleagues / friends: One Writer’s Group friend, Nene Davies is featuring her work on The Next Big Thing today and her first novel Distance is to be e-published by an Australian publisher around May. You can visit Nene’s blog at www.nenedavies.com. Sara, another Group friend is almost ready to submit a manuscript to a publisher. Good luck Nene and Sara.

A walk in the park

A walk in the park

Other activities:

#1. I’ve been tagged for The Next Big Thing next week – looking forward to circulating that next Tuesday, 22nd January.

#2. Am working my way intensively through an online ProWriter course How to find readers and market your novel, devised by Joanna Penn and C J Lyons. I barrelled into it but you can choose to work on the content at any pace. For me it is terrific value as it provides a useful framework to all my random internet searches seeking ideas for marketing e-books. The material, blending as it does the experience of a multi-book author with that of a newer author on the block, is very practical and both presenters are generous with ideas, clearly oriented to a business approach to their work and emphasising the ethical with it all. They provide much support material and reference other writers as well.

I will be a little slow to get going, but now feel mentally if not technologically prepared to market Past imperfect when it is ready. Hopefully late next month.

You can tap into information on http://www.thecreativepenn.com/marketyourbook/. It works for me as a newbie on the scene but I think some established indie authors could gain benefit as well. Thank-you Joanna and CJ.

#3. I joined Romance Writers Australia and am impressed by the wide range of information and the support available to members. When I’ve finalised Past imperfect activities, my first port of call will be to seek a critique partner (or two) as I work on the next edit of Present tense, the second book of the saga series.

It feels like a positive start to 2013. Best wishes to all.

Edit diary and celebration

Days 133-136 (September 21-24)

Afternoon: Scrolled through a number of chapters with small items highlighted and was able to fix them quickly. Two chapters still have significant work to be done. Also need to check original research to make sure that any earlier changes haven’t raised anomalies; e.g. moving dates that may not match seasonal issues in Africa with regard to rainy season, hunger gap and disease outbreaks. The library was quiet even though many children were there because of school holidays. Left sooner than intended and made it home ahead of the worst of a storm. The season has started.

Quiet here today

This morning was special. Our Writers Group had a small function to celebrate the e-publishing of our anthology Ten Minute Tales and to meet our UK writer who is in Australia on a brief holiday with his wife to visit relatives. It was a lovely get-together and Graham is just how I imagined he would be from reading his writing and enjoying his imaginative approach to story topics. I’ve included a picture of our cake which represents the cover of the anthology (a co-operative family event I gather). It picks up the wonderful blue in the real cover picture. Find the anthology by Googling Ten Minute Tales anthology.

Ten Minute Tales

The end of last week was slow for editing – mainly catch-up at home after being away. The effects of the break haven’t worn off. Still on coastal time I think.

Evening sky


Edit diary: slow progress

Days 118-122 (September 7-10)

September 10: A day for edit and research, mainly grappling with changes to one chapter that has already been done over twice in recent days. Best to set it aside again I think. Also planning for a combined holiday and writing retreat on the Sunshine Coast. Booked accommodation today.

September 9: Editing at home, catching up on news and weekend papers, emails and family phone calls.

September 8: A crowd-packed day at the Queensland Writers Festival in Brisbane. Between sessions people milled around the concourse, bumped through the State Library bookshop or the Festival display of books, queued for author signings, took to the sun outside or the thronged eateries, searched for colleagues who attended different talks and lined up for the next one. So busy, so organised; and spoiled for choice of interesting opportunities. Then the thinned space for an hour until the mass change of venues for the next item on the program. I enjoyed the zingy energy.

September 7: Our monthly critiquing meeting was interesting all round even though there were two unavoidable absentees; one for work reasons, the other because a friend was visiting from far away. In the space of two hours we were entertained in Milan about the opera scene, in London about life enjoyed by the truly upper class, at Yeppoon to a resolving family crisis and in South Sudan to reflections about lost love. It is interesting to contemplate how much of ourselves we reveal when deconstructing our own writing and how much more we learn about our writing colleagues. An absolute delight.

But it feels sad to know that most of the people we walk past with or without a nod or a smile in everyday life must have equally riveting and complex and hidden stories to tell if we but knew it.

Edit diary, Tech question, Critiquing, Anthology, Writers Festival

Days 115-117 (September 4-6)

Editing: Am working on Book Two in the mornings (current edit almost done, at least one more to go) and Book One in the afternoons (hopefully the last sweep). At the moment I’m still too close to the second story to see it objectively, but was a bit shocked in my revisit of Book One to find more than the occasional stilted passage surviving.

In both parts of the day there is much chopping and compacting along with loosening up. I hope the need for significant changes will tail off soon.

Tech question: I’ve been hankering after an iPad for a while but feel unable to justify the expenditure with a trusty laptop that travels with me for everyday use and a trouble-free PC at home. When a For DUMMIES book on iPad 2 jumped out from the library display table I couldn’t resist the chance to explore what it can do. So who knows where that could end? I’ve seen some writer colleagues toting a compact package with iPad, external keyboard and other bits and pieces working very effectively. Maybe the versatility, light weight and therefore easier portability will win me over.

Critiquing: Tomorrow’s meeting of ourWriters Group promises to be interesting. Most members continue to submit work each month. As always it is a joy to see new work or chapters that have been reworked, shining in different ways. This month I was so excited by a YA story that seems to have taken off – very talented writing. I can see it being snapped up when completed.

I’ve had online feedback already for my chapter, and look forward to tomorrow’s discussion of the comments. I had intended to wait for all suggestions before making changes, but related so strongly to one view that I have already done a big rewrite of one section with more to do in other parts of the story so that one of Freya’s character flaws can be more clearly understood. Very clear in my head but hadn’t come through to the page.

It will also be good to hear opinions about the experiences of several members who are participating in ongoing workshops sponsored by the Queensland Writers Centre.

Anthology: The number of views is climbing. Hopefully readers will enjoy the results of our fun experience. It’s free on Smashwords. Title is Ten Minute Tales by the Victoria Point Writers Group.

Queensland Writers Festival: There are so many interesting workshops and panelson offer it has been hard to choose. I plan to flit between a number all day on Saturday.

Anthology, Edit diary, Future


Days 111-114 (August 31-September 3)

Saturday’s walk in the park was an opportunity to arrange which sessions to attend at the Queensland Writers Festival next weekend. So many interesting speakers and topics! Lots of walkers and cyclists were taking advantage of our wonderful facilities and there were some Father’s Day celebrations in progress.

Reflections from the bridge

Glorious spring day today. A slight nip in the air, sunny and cheerful, like the weekend, although there were sobering moments remembering the deaths of five Australian soldiers in Afghanistan, many asylum seekers lost from people-smuggling boats in the unforgiving waters between Indonesia and Australia, unnecessary road deaths and the impacts of violence in our communities. Good to see something positive in the Paralympic Games.

Anthology: Also a positive is the publication on the ether of our Writers Group Anthology: Ten Minute Tales.It can be found through Smashwords at the following address:            www. smashwords.com/profile/view/tenminutetales. The learning experience in getting it together was what we wanted and we’re pleased with our modest result and the fun along the way. Some of us are convinced that publishing a simple novel with one person’s input would be a breeze. We still have one small task to complete for the cover.

Somehow the weekend slipped past without an opportunity to improve my blogsite. Maybe sometime soon.

The Library was wonderfully quiet later after a happily noisy children’s session of song and story in the morning. Priming our future readers.

Good work environment

Editing: Started well with a rapid sweep through the second last chapter of Present tense (I jumped a couple of awkward ones that still have highlighted sections needing attention). Many changes made, taking advantage of suggestions from Writers Group critiques of previous work where I hadn’t gone beyond the initial bare bones of the action and dialogue. Will need another look of course, but I’m happy with the progress.

Freya is in Amsterdam after assisting the medical evacuation of a Dutch volunteer colleague with cerebral malaria. Attached is the beginning of an email Freya is writing for her friend and mentor in Australia:

To:  l_dawson@weserve.com.au

Subject: Catch-up time

Dear Louise

A magnum opus. Hopefully this will make up a bit for the gaps between notes in recent times. Even Reg’s whizz bang technology is defeated by Sudanese remoteness and our gruelling workload. Arif was troubled when I left; the team was withdrawn a few days later. 

So. Greetings from Amsterdam. I’m here ahead of time because of the repatriation of Dora, a Dutch colleague with cerebral malaria. She is very ill, touch-and-go. You’ll know what that means from your time in Vietnam.

An Australian doctor, Mani, and I specialled her during the flights in a Mission Aviation Fellowship plane from Loki to Nairobi and then in a giant Hercules to Amsterdam. Arrangements from Arif were hair-raising, but Ken, the new man there somehow made it all work, and we managed to deliver Dora alive to tropical diseases intensive care here. The chief doctor seems confident she will make a good recovery but it may take a while. Will tell you the whole story in person sometime.

Yes it is the Dora I knew in Scotland. You’ve seen photos of her, the one with the blonde curls and the wonderful smile. So many amazing things have happened where fact seems stranger than fiction. Makes me wonder why anyone needs fiction! Maybe I was right after all to give it up for those years. No I don’t really mean that; as you have said it might have helped me to understand some things better.

I’ve been keeping the journaling going as much as I can, and it should be easy with Reg’s generous gift of the solar laptop. Trouble is my brain shuts down quite often when the work stops. Probably inbuilt protection to allow sleep as a priority. I will update as soon as possible, before I forget it all.

I hope you are keeping work life in balance. Fat chance I suspect with the transfer of nurse education filtering through and all those extra committees you seem to be on. Whilst the powers that be are showing good judgment in having you as a chairperson or member I am not sure that they are being fair considering the challenges of your main job at the hospital. Are you well? Write if you can. I appreciate your emails so much, even though access to the internet is intermittent and depends on everything being right at the one time. I will be in email contact for the next week or so and then off the planet probably when I get to the north of Scotland. I plan to spend a few weeks at least at my croft cottage in Wester Ross. I think I told you I inherited that after Mama died. It will be good to be somewhere alone. I just feel like drowning the world in tears right now but I’m holding on till then.

Mani (short for Emmanuel I think) was born of Scots and Aboriginal parents at a Catholic mission in the Northern Territory. He was orphaned when he was a toddler and adopted by an Australian couple passing through at the time.

Between our debriefing interviews with the MSF office here, we are frequent visitors to the hospital to see how Dora is progressing. The staff are patient with us dropping in. Between times we are hanging out, having a look around the local sights, and feeling desperate together about the plenty we see, and the waste, and feeling deep sadness for the ones we left behind in Sudan and Kenya. It has almost confirmed for me that I’ll do at least one other mission but I’ll take a few months to recuperate a bit first. I have told the office here and Sydney HQ, and they seem happy for me to get in touch when I’m ready again.

Before Freya heads to the cottage in Wester Ross, she and Mani are invited to spend a few days with Molly in Edinburgh (Freya’s volunteering colleague in Arif).

The future: In Book Three (working title Future hope), during her furlough, Freya’s future opens up in unexpected ways after a mystifying encounter with a mother and son in the Scottish Highlands. Some of the family puzzles of the past are resolved.

Edit diary, writing, reading

Day 110 (August 30)

Editing: I continue to work on Present tense (Book 2 of 3).

The morning started well; mind felt clear, and I decided to skip continuity to a chapter containing different content. This is partly because the next chapter is currently with our Writers Group for critique at the end of next week and it seems prudent to wait for feedback before making changes there.

So, today I am with Alexander in an isolated setting in Kruger National Park and then in the air above the Park. He is enjoying this new adventure that began with an unexpected display of violence by a rogue elephant which found its way into the camp where his group of would-be photojournalists were starting the day. Although I made many changes (nothing of great significance) I decided to revisit earlier relevant research materials with a view to expanding a small part of the chapter. I found what I wanted, but more importantly I’ve ear-marked several topics from resources for possible incorporation into the third book relating to Freya’s experience in a Kruger game reserve.

A short sample from the Alexander chapter follows. He is undertaking an aerial survey in preparation for next year’s project, after leaving his boss at Park HQ in Skukuza to work on preliminary negotiations about locations:

For the first part of the flight Alexander was exhilarated in a low-key way by the natural appearance of animal trails and water holes spread across endless low scrub and grasses; little different from what he’d seen already. All looked well with the world until he met the obvious boundary between the park and humanity. The differences were stark. On the one side, evidence of rhinos, buffalos, wildebeests, impalas, elephants and more. On the other side very little natural land was visible, clearly overused for shelter, cattle grazing and cultivation by and for the vast and needy populations of people and beasts.

Alexander turned the cameras off and on as the landscape changed. Although he was fairly confident the sophisticated automatic and computer-driven cameras were working well, he backed up by taking notes on the board strapped to his thigh. Also when the terrain changed he shot a short manual segment with commentary and GPS record.

Writing: Today’s post brought WQ, the monthly publication of the Queensland Writers Centre. I’ve earmarked a number of short story competitions to follow up on as I’ve five or six stories that might fit if I did some work on them, and an endless fund of ideas. Time is the only commodity in short supply. Will have to decide a balance between urgency for editing and tackling some novelty action.

Reading: Crossing to safety is so beguiling. The four main characters feel vibrant and real. I want to invite them to a party. The power of first person writing is potent. I think I will explore that in a couple of short stories soon. Also I may be developing a little courage about trying to improve my blogsite. The WordPress book is helping. Hopefully changes will be evident soon – maybe at the weekend.

Edit diary, unusual words, writing

Day 109 (August 29)

Editing: A good day I think, not so much an edit as a complete rewrite of half a chapter. Won’t make a judgement on the outcome for a day or two until I re-read it fresh again.

I was working on an interaction between three Australians and a Scot. Whilst they had no difficulties with understanding each other’s accents it reminded me of watching Billy Connolly’s program again last night when he ended up in the wild west of Canada. Wonderful characters he met along the way. Some people have difficulty with Billy’s accent and sayings at times. So here are some examples of speech you could meet any day in or near Glasgow.

Unusual words: Here is a sentence and then a saying.

Aiblins the lad’s ahint thon tattie-bogle. (Perhaps the boy is behind that scarecrow.)

Sic as ye gie, sic wull ye get. (You’ll get out of life as much as you put in.)

When I look back to my early years in Scotland it seems amazing that I ever sorted it out because it wasn’t only the words but the different accents as well. And the Scots speak on the fast side, but are no match for the Ulster Scots in Northern Ireland. They left me breathless to keep up but by that time at least I’d mastered the words and accents which are very similar to the Scots.

Looking at my bookshelf to find an envelope today it struck me how seldom I use my hard-copy reference resources now. It’s all internet; so quick and versatile and accessible.

Little used now

Writing: Apart from the rewriting that arose from editing, I did finish the cricketing poem – very primitive and freeform effort, and not prize-winning material, but I’m pleased I persevered.

Edit diary, reading, critiquing, listening and writing

Days 104-108 (August 24-28)

Edit diary: I meant to take a longer break from editing but couldn’t manage it even though most of the work was in the head without a finger to keyboard till yesterday when I experienced a rush of progress with all the highlighted areas in the manuscript, over three chapters. Because it felt so easy I feel confirmed in the highlight-and-return  approach to editing. I just don’t always remember and sometimes try to stay with an awkward passage less productively.

Reading: I continue to delight in Crossing to safety.

Recently I’ve been trying to find a volume that I can relate to, to help me improve and manage this WordPress blog site more effectively, with mixed success. Hopefully the one that turned up on the hold shelf of the library in my name today will be the one I can understand and follow. Am feeling just a bit thick about a few things but the first look is promising.

Critiquing: It’s that time again and the chapters are coming in for critiquing. It is so enjoyable to follow the stories of colleagues  through even though in short instalments.

I’ve already had useful and thought-provoking comments on my own chapter – caused real pause for thought about how to clarify the personality issues behind a major flaw of the protagonist. So clear in my head but hasn’t managed to translate sufficiently to the page. She does eventually overcome the problem but there will be much water under the bridge before that.

Listening: Today’s lunch-time author talk was most enjoyable – by Tasmanian author Stephen Dandos-Collins about his new book Mistaken identity: the trials of Joe Windred. We were taken through the wonderful research journey undertaken by himself and his wife to uncover a true story that people would scoff at if promoted as fiction. As an audience we know many of the twists and turns in the story but the final one was left as enticement to unfold that mystery. I have requested the book already and am fourth on the list.

Writing: Today I posted off a short story for a competition; almost a memoir but with enough fictional padding to deny that label. I did a quick audit of my short stories to realise that family is the basis for all but one of them. That fits with the family saga aspect of my three novels. As the oldest of seven I suppose it should be no surprise.

Edit diary update Plus

Days 66 – 75 (May 2-11)

After today: Sometime next week I’ll delve into the next editing sweep of Book Two. No firm title yet but possibly Present tense. Will start counting down the days again from Monday

Today: Wonderful chat over coffee with a writer friend. We’ve both finished editing of novels and have set them aside for now. Short stories are in sights for both of us. While driving to meet her I had a workable idea for a short story that I feel committed to and I think there is time to write and shape it before the submission date.

Recent days: Fiddling with short stories. Completed one and half finished another. They are just OK, probably not worth submitting. I might try to rework one of them; the other will probably fit as a longer story or as part of a novel.

Reading: Raced through a couple of ordinary novels. Large print was great. Before that I did finish the Collins book the keepers of truth and was pleased I did. Most of it turned out as I predicted but there were two twists I didn’t forsee.

May 2-7: Finished editing Book One and found a title that gelled – came out of nowhere – feels exactly right – Past Imperfect; it resonates on several levels for more than one character. That book is set aside for the moment. Will seek feedback soon.

Reflections from the bridge

Other: Usual long walk in the park last Sunday with another writer friend who is preparing to launch her fifth novel in September.

Next edit sweep commenced – reading update

Day 57 (April 23)

Today: Managed to visit the prologue and four chapters of Part One and made lots of changes even though they’ve been worked over many times. However, I’ve decided those five segments are now cooked enough. Will see what tomorrow brings.

Weekend: I did no editing over the weekend as I promised myself and felt fresher for the fray today. So days 55 and 56 were spent reading, the inevitable shopping / cooking chores (that’s right I’m a reluctant housekeeper and all that goes with that), and mulling over a lifetime of photographs (I have a family photo-book project in mind). It will be fun selecting from and scanning long-ago pictures. I found so many forgotten memories; very nostalgic and story fodder for the future.

Reading: Michael Collins book, the keepers of truth is more vicious in parts than I expected from the blurbs and the first few pages. Not my usual fare, but I’ll stay the course, the writing is outstanding. I’m sure the Booker Prize judges will be pleased I agree with their opinions.

Also finished a couple of other books. First Battlelines by Tony Abbott, which I enjoyed – it reminded me of frustrations when working in the Commonwealth Government about the complexities of the federal system and the buck-passing between Canberra and the states and the impossibility of achieving better than a compromise that didn’t really serve the needs of the nation. I wouldn’t have missed that experience although it was tough to deal with, during eight over-worked years that included elections and the breaking up and merging of departments will all the possibly unwarranted costs of that and the resulting overlap of responsibilities that were seldom sorted out amidst the volume of other priorities. Oh, and the onerous burden of managing poor performers who should never have been selected!

The other book is titled In search of my father: Dementia is no match for a daughter’s determination by Helena Popovic. It would be of interest to many beginning to cope with family members with dementia. I read parts of it and scanned the rest with a view to discovering new material as I’ve read much on the topic in recent years because of experience with two elderly relatives with Alzheimer’s Disease and another with a brain tumour. I didn’t find anything new, but the book provides many examples and explanations about recent research that helps to ward off both mental and physical deterioration. Developments around neuroplasticity are well outlined.

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