Monday, 17 June 2013

The Road So Far

(My fellow "Supernatural" fans will appreciate the title of this post, but come fits, I had to use it!).


This is another one of those "glimpse behind the curtain" posts.  Sorry.  Had to be done.

This past week has been a total nightmare for me.  I've been in week three of fighting off a head-cold, the kids have had stuff going on, I've had stuff going on, the hubby's had stuff going on, work never ends, it's been chaotic to say the least...and yet, the show must go on right?  As it happens, the show went on (for awhile at least) to the detriment of my sleep.  Then I just got so tired, the show stopped altogether and I got into a real funk about it.  I took a few nights off, to catch up on said sleep, and hoped I'd be able to throw myself back into things.  Which sorta did and didn't work...well, it didn't work out the way I planned it, anyway.

So here's the thing.  I have written possibly about 10 maybe even 12 drafts of this story.  In each version, the story changes somewhat (a good thing, I hope - certainly seems a natural progression, as I get to know the characters better each time).  But with the current draft I'm working with, the first 15 chapters were written already and I just needed to edit them.  So I did, which inevitably changed them...yet again...and we're onto draft 13 now (or some such thing - gah!).

And then I fell into that trap that I suspect most writers do at one time or another: I tried to edit as I was writing.  Now this is just silly, for lots of reasons.  Firstly, when you write, you really need to throw caution to the wind and get the gear onto the paper (or the screen).  The editing process SHOULD BE seperate from this.  Otherwise, you get to that stage where you just can't go forward because you're too busy looking back.  So that's what happened to me - I got stuck.  And because this story has changed soooooo much during the past few months, I had no clue where I was going with it.

So how did I fix that?  Well, I took some time out. I caught up on some sleep.  I tried to get myself well, so I could concentrate better.  And - one of the best moves yet - I actually ALLOWED myself a few nights off, just to mull things over.  I ended up spending a couple of hours last night, writing up draft chapters with the key issues in each, so that I had a purpose.  I now know where everything fits into the second half of the story.  I have a direction.  I know what happens next, right up to the end of the book - and (now this is a big one for me) I know how it ends.

That may sound stupid, but I write for fun.  Sometimes I don't know how it's going to end, because I get so caught up in telling the story that I personally don't care (this is why editing is so important - you get to laugh at yourself and use the delete button and say "Yeah, I don't think so..." alot).  So important.

So what happens next? Well, I get to flesh out each chapter, according to my plan.  I don't have to stick to my plan rigidly (and probably won't, as inspiration strikes), but at least each chapter has a direction now.  Hopefully, that will make the editing process that much easier.

And what chapter am I currently up to?  That would be chapter 20.  At last.  Yay!  How many are left?  I think around 10, maybe less.  So technically, I'm over halfway there.  And it feels good.

Oh - I keep meaning to mention this.  Just so you know, the publisher has only seen the first 4 chapters and the synopsis.  They signed me on that basis, knowing that only the first 15 chapters were complete.  So really, you are all sharing this journey with me, as I edit and write and tear my hair out and rejoice and cry and basically throw everything I have into this book...and then some.

So welcome to the merry-go-round - thanks for riding with me :-)


Tuesday, 11 June 2013

New cover for "Absolution"!

If you've been following my Facebook page, you'll have probably seen this already, but if is the official cover for "Absolution".  Make sure you click on the pic to see the larger version!

Big thanks to Laura Gordon for the cover art!

I've also shared two snippets from "Absolution" on my Facebook page now - if you've seen them, I hope you enjoyed them :-)


Attributions: Cover Art and Design by Laura Gordon (, Male Cover Model: Jason Aaron Baca (, Male Model Photography: Portia Shao (, Female Cover Model © Jochen Schonfeld/

Saturday, 1 June 2013

My "Process" (or "How this whole writing thing seems to work for me")

Danielle asked me about the title of this post on my FB page and to be honest, it wasn't one of those questions that I really thought might be interesting.  But maybe it is, so I'll try my best to explain it.

I'm sure this works differently for every writer, but for me, ideas come in pieces.  Usually it's kicked off by something I'm reading, watching, doing, discussing.  I "see" something (or "hear" something).  It's normally masquerading as something banal or fleeting.  A phrase.  A concept.  A song lyric. A question.  Literally anything can become a story.

I don't think it's any secret (now that I've splashed it all over the newspaper and my blog!) that the original question that kicked off "Absolution" was: "What if you felt so guilty about something, you ran away?".

That one simple idea can clearly have a lot of meanings.  For me though, it became an interesting question about human nature.  What would make someone run away from everyone they knew and loved?  It'd have to be something big.  Something life-changing.  Something that couldn't be fixed by "I'm sorry".

From there, the story began to grow.  Plot points rose up.  Characters introduced themselves.  Friends, family, relationships, places, events.  All these things showed themselves slowly, almost of their own accord (because I don't actually remember making any conscious decisions about any of these things).  Interesting, now that I look back on it.  Remember, the initial idea came to me about four years ago.  I note all these things down - characters, points of view, plot lines.  I come back to them later, changing as I go.

A lot of the time, I'll dream up a conversation or event for the story in my head.  I'll spend a few hours writing it out in a basic form, trying to remind myself what I'm trying to achieve for later.  Then, when the time is right, I'll cut and paste that conversation or event into the story, altering it as needed.  Some conversations or events never make it into the final cut, but for me it's all about exploring the ideas.  Creativity is addictive and it's all about keeping those lines open.

I don't dream, as a rule.  The only dreams I can remember are nightmares (most unpleasant, usually involving me running or hiding from nasty people.  Ugh).  Regular dreams - even crazy ones - I haven't had for years.  I think maybe, as I'm a nightowl and do all my best work at night time, I just go to bed so exhausted, I don't have the energy to dream. 

But going back to Danielle's question...once I have the basics in my head, the rest is pure and simple: hard work.  I work at telling that story.   

The first draft of a story involves the one idea that I had wanted to explore.  I'm desperate to get it out of my head and onto the screen (in that I write on my laptop).  I then refine that in the second draft.  By the third draft, I'm bored.  I need more.  This means I need to ADD more to the story, because I figure if I'm bored, so will the reader be.  So I try to think outside the square and figure out what needs to be added to make it a rounder story.  Does it need to be grittier?  Do relationships need to be explored more deeply?  Do I need another character or another angle?  There are lots of variations, and in drafts four and five, these things are added.  By the sixth or seventh draft, I'm usually happy.  Now it's time to refine the story.  Edit after edit after edit...

Throughout this whole process, the characters are becoming more and more real to me.  I can literally SEE them in my head.  Towards the end of the final draft, the story is more or less writing itself because the characters are so familiar to me.  I could tell you how each would react in any given situation, just as if they were real people.  Because by that stage, to me, they are.

I pay no attention to chapter length or word count until the final stage, by the way.  Up until then, it's all about the story and fleshing it out evenly.  That stuff comes later.

I hope that makes sense (and that it answered your question Danielle!).

~ Amanda