I wish I could say I’ve started the year well and completed all the things I’d hoped to have done by now. On the plus side, I’ve made a positive start in all three areas I mentioned in last month’s blog, but I’ve not made as much progress as I’d hoped. This week hasn’t helped – I’ve had something on every day – trips out, writers’ group meetings, film club and a visit to the surgery for a blood test!
Monday we went to Silverstone. The exhibition was well-worth seeing and we had to skim several sections downstairs in order not to miss the coach. I’ve been a huge F1 fan for many years and the exhibition on British motor racing was excellent.
Not all my passions make it into my novels – I teach Tai Chi and yoga and spend two mornings a week line dancing but none of these ever get a mention. (Can’t quite picture Fiona, Aunt Jessica or Harry in leggings or cowboy boots.) However, in my first published novel, All in the Mind, my main character is an F1 fan as is her secretary. An idea I obviously got all those years ago when I was still working, when my secretary and I would often discuss the latest race on the Monday morning.
Today, we’re off to London for a Study Day in the British Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum with the historian who came with us on our magical holiday to Persia last November. Given the situation in Iran now, I can’t see many tour operators going back there for some time. A great shame. It’s such a fabulous place and the ordinary people are so friendly and helpful. As I’m hoping to make Persia the setting for my next Aunt Jessica and Harry novel, I’m hoping things will have settled down by the time the book is published so that my readers will not feel thwarted by learning about somewhere they have no possibility of visiting.
Plans for February
Concentrating on the three things I need to work on this year, my plans are as follows:-
I sent my manuscript to my two editors – what I call my alpha readers – last November, so it’s been over two months since I’ve looked at it. Last week, I decided it was time I went through it again as both editors promised me their feedback in the next few days. As every writer will tell you, no matter how many times you look through, typos, missed words and repartitions always jump out at you. I’d taken the time after my fourth rewrite to use the “read aloud” facility on word and I thought I really had it sussed this time, but the whole manuscript was a disaster. Either I failed to save the changes (no way!) or it’s not the fool proof method I’d hoped. It’s not my editors’ job to bother with such things anyway, but I would have been happier to feel they could concentrate on matters of plot, character development and style without the distraction of a poorly proofed manuscript.
I’m always apprehensive when I get the reports back. Neither pulls their punches. Which is just what every writer needs. In the past, their suggestions have involved a major rewrite. My first response when the manuscript was returned was to storm around the house for a couple of days before admitting that perhaps they did have a point and that after the weeks of work involved, I’d have a much better novel. So far, I’ll admit I’ve only glanced through the reports, (one arrived yesterday and the other this morning) but I think things might be a little easier this time. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.
Target One for this month – the editorial rewrite!
Jane Austen and the Next Novel
With little happening in January on the Undercover Geisha front, I had plenty of time to research Jane Austen. This will be something of a departure from the usual Fiona Mason novel. There will be the usual cast of characters – Peter Montgomery-Jones, Winston and a dozen coach passengers – but it’s not just that this tour is British based, I’ve never had a tour theme that’s needed to be researched in the same way before. Needless to say, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed finding out more about one of Britain’s favourite authors. I’ve learnt some quite surprising facts about her life and how she worked.
Ideas for the plot are definitely simmering away nicely, I’ve given a fair amount of thought to my characters and I’ve even made a start on the opening chapters. Only just over 6,000 words, but it’s a start.
Target One on Undercover Geisha will be the priority this month but I’m going to set myself a writing target of at least another 6,000 words of the new book and produce a clearer idea of where the plot is going.
Promotion and Marketing
This is probably the least successful of my goals for January. I have written a few Facebook posts and even found myself a marketing buddy. Joy writes children’s books and has several standalone adult novels in print. We spent an afternoon discussing what we currently do and working out a few targets. She has given me a few ideas and the plan is to meet up periodically and review our progress.
Target Three for February is still somewhat nebulous. I have a few ideas, but I need to talk with a few more writer friends before I commit. The only way to eat the elephant that is marketing is a bite at a time. To start with, it may be small mouthfuls, but I’m determined to keep eating. I doubt I will have consumed it all by the end of December but I’m planning to eat at least a whole leg.
Have I taken on too much this month? I’m not sure. There is only one thing to do. Go for it!
What are your targets for February? Letting others know what you’re planning is a great incentive to actually getting it done.