Co-editing

Writing something with another author has always baffled me–that’s until I actually did it. I’m the sort of person who worries about the logistics of a thing, who will do what, will it be equal etc. However, when it got down to writing it  we passed it back and forth each adding a little at a time until it was finished and we had a completed novella.

Now we’re at the editing stage after being offered a publishing deal. I worried about the same thing. Thing is, it has gone more smoothly than I thought. My co-writer, David Owain Hughes, did the first round of edits using track & change, I have gone through a second round adding, accepting or rejecting and passed it back for a final read through. Hopefully by April this will be out.

I think co-writing has taught me a lot about compromise, working together and discussion as well as opening me up to ideas and styles of writing that I haven’t tried or possibly have been a little shy to in the past. Often I stop and think, What if someone I know reads this? Often it can put me off writing certain things, making things too gory or erotic for example, but then writing with David has taught me to write like I want to write. I write for me and hopefully someone will enjoy my work. Not everyone will and that’s true of friends and family.

In other news, I’m working on the third novel in the series I’m currently working on. I’m just over 20k in and still going strong although at times it’s a slow write. I think it could have been planned just that little bit better but I’m going to see where it takes me. I want to finish writing them all before going back to edit and doing that it one big, long stint. I think that’ll help with keeping the flow of the piece.

Oh and in other news, I ran over my big toe with a sofa today. If my toe doesn’t drop off then I think that my nail will. All I have to say is OW!

What are you working on at the minute? Or if you’re not an author, what are you reading?

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Saying Goodbye to 2015

There’s always something quite nice and refreshing about a new year. I always find myself gearing up ready for exciting things. I make goals for myself and put in plot points to reach them. I relish the idea of starting afresh and while 2015 has not been a particularly arduous year, I feel like 2016 is signalling great new things to come.

Already I have had news that a co-written novella by myself and David Owain Hughes has been accepted for publication. I have a novel in with Dark Chapters Press which I hope to hear about come February and already a couple of short stories lined up to be in anthologies.

I have plans to finish writing a series of novels that I’m working on. This year I wrote two which means I’m challenging myself to write five novels next year in that series. I have another idea brewing that could possible be something in the middle grade/YA range which I’m excited about and of course I’ll try and keep up with short story submissions.

In other things I want to challenge myself to read more. Although the latter half of this year has gotten relatively better, I’ve picked up an actual reading challenge and started compiling a list of books that I want to acquire.

And of course there are those usual personal goals in amongst all of that including being more organised and certainly more assertive. That’s always a hard one, isn’t it?

Whether you’re a goal setter or not, I wish you all the most happy of New Years and hope that 2016 brings everything you could want.

 

 

3rd Person vs. 1st Person. What’s your opinion?

I’m busy editing a novel (currently titled Labyrinth of the Fallen Angel) that I hope to send off for publication once I finish it. I’ve mentioned it on my blog here before and it’s already undergone a huge overhaul but I still think there’s room for improvement. There are two female leads in this novel and it’s currently written in third person which can make it difficult in terms of pronouns. I find I’m writing a lot of ‘her’, ‘she’ and their names ‘Bryony’ and ‘Francesca’ to try and differentiate and make sure the reader knows who is talking/who I’m writing about. It can get a bit messy and confusing and I’m not sure I’m happy with it.

I’m currently considering overhauling it and changing it to first person. It would be a huge task to undertake but then again, if it makes my work better and would make it easier for the reader, I’m willing to do it (and it’s not the first time either!) Looking for opinions here: What do you think?

So currently it’s in 3rd person and reads as:

3rd person: Over the past few months as Francesca’s relationship broke down and she found comfort in her best friend’s arms, she realised she was beginning to look at her in a different light. No matter how hard she pushed it away or wrote it off as a crush, she knew it was much more than that. “Nothing.” She shook her head, finally catching Bryony’s eye. “And for your information it’s ten.”

Considering changing it to 1st person and it would read something like:
1st person: Over the past few months as my relationship broke down, Bryony was always there to comfort me and as time drew on I realised I was beginning to look at her in a different light. No matter how much I pushed it away or wrote it off as a passing crush, I knew it was much more than that. “Nothing,” I shook my head, finally catching Bryony’s eyes. “And for your information it’s ten.”

I would appreciate any input you have and would like to share with me. It might make my decision easier!

Guest Post: Broken Toy by David Owain Hughes

If you read my last post you’ll see that I mentioned a very talented man that I’ve been co-writing a novella with… well this is the guy! He’s taking time out of his busy schedule to guest post on my blog and talk about why horror works for him.

David Owain Hughes

“Ah you think darkness is your ally? You merely adopted the dark. I was born in it, molded by it. I didn’t see the light until I was already a man; by then it was nothing to me but blinding!”

― Bane

Why Horror, David?

Because I was born of it; grew up living in a world full of it, along with fear and sadness…But hey, the poet needs the pain, right?

Let me explain, but I fear I won’t be able to keep it from sounding like a cliché – I’m not typical of writing or talking about sob stories for attention, drama or any other reason…I just feel as though I have to get this out, as much stuff has been going on in my life lately.

Before I go any further, I just want it to be known that I love my parents, and that how my childhood was, doesn’t change that. In fact, it helped instil in me a love for horror and violence.

Maybe ‘love’ is the wrong word. I certainly love it now, as it’s a world I’ve immersed myself in – I get great joy out of it with my writing, as I strive to become a known and loved author.

But back in my childhood, I think to have called it ‘love’ would be wrong of me. I think the world of horror and violence was my safety blanket…Who knows? But it’s a starting point.

So, ‘Why horror?’

It’s a question I’ve been confronted with on many, many occasions. My answer? That I grew up on pirate, ninja and horror films from a very tender age; a tender age of five or maybe younger; I’m pretty sure I was five…I remember watching “The Howling II: Your Sister is a Werewolf”, so five would have been about right.

That film was probably my first horror flick.

I also remember watching and loving “Flesh and Blood”, but that would have come later in the 80s.

So yeah, the whole I grew up on pirate, ninja and horror films from a very tender age is true. I didn’t make it up for shits and giggles!

Hey, I had older brothers, what can I say? I’m sure many of you were in the same boat, right?!

Anyone remember “Gymkata”? I thought that was the best ninja movie ever…Until “American Ninja” came along, that is. What about that pirate movie with Michael Caine? “The Island” – Cor! now that is an oldie, along with “Who Could Kill a Child?”

My heroes were Jason Voorhees, Freddy Kruger and Michael Meyers as a child, along with the “Garbage Pile Kids”, “Ghoulies”, “Gremlins” and “The Monster Squad”.

Every weekend my parents would go out and leave one of my older brothers to look after me – if it was Richard, then it was sure to be a night filled with blood, guts and carnage; the video shop was our playground…Yeah, I used to pop along with him.

Aye, for a shaggy, blond-headed five-year-old, I was made of pretty stern stuff. I loved the gore and monsters, but my nightmares were horrific, if you listen to my brother talk about those long ago Saturday nights…

‘The bloodier the better,’ Richard has told me I was said, whenever I ask him about my film likes back then.

Richard was also underage at the time, but only by three or four years.

You’re probably wondering where the ‘sob story’ come into all this?

Well, we’ve pretty much discovered where my love for horror has come from, and why I write what I write.

But why was it my ‘safety blanket’ as a small child?

The answer is simple – my parents had a very unhealthy relationship when I was a child. It was filled with drunken rage and violence; the things that went on, were the sort of things a small child should never bare witness to. I’ve never spoken about this before, only to close friends and past/current girlfriends.

I guess it’s not the type of stuff you just throw into conversations?

I’m not going to dwell on this part too much, but I am going to recant a tale that will never leave my memory.

Again, I was still very young at this point – no older than five or six.

My parents returned from a night out, very drunk I may add, and started arguing. I was upstairs asleep when they come home, but their loud shouts and my mother’s screams of pain woke me.

When I went downstairs, scared witless, I’d never seen a scene in real-life like it – nor to this day, in fact. The living room was a complete bombsite – furniture had been smashed and thrown around the place, with broken glass everywhere.

My fear turned to sobs of distress and panic, as you can imagine.

Running into the kitchen, I saw the walls were covered in blood – and I mean covered. They were running red, just like my mother’s face.

A shocking moment, believe you me; this behaviour of theirs continued throughout my childhood, causing me to live in constant fear.

Fear for myself and my mother.

Film and TV were my friends – I found a world in which I belonged.

Maybe I knew no different?

It wasn’t all doom and gloom, though, as I was very much loved for by both my parents. Still am. It’s something that will never change, as I love them, too.

We only get one set of parents in our life…

My type of past would be seen as a negative by most who have suffered in such ways, or worse, I’m sure – but I’ve taken it and used it for a gain, and boy is it working, as I strive to reach my goals within my writing.

I wrote this post after I discovered a batch of old photos of myself as a young boy – the images of me playing brought a smile to my face, as I thought back. There were a lot of good times, especially the ones spent with my brother.

I have a son of my own now, and when I look at him sometimes, I think of myself at that age, as he’s spiting image of me at that age. His innocence makes me laugh, as he hates anything scary.

‘Not like your dad,’ I’ve heard my mother tell him…

Bio:

David Owain Hughes is a horror freak! He grew up on ninja, pirate and horror movies from the age of five, which helped rapidly install in him a vivid imagination. When he grows up, he wishes to be a serial killer with a part-time job in women’s lingerie…He’s had several short stories published in various online magazines and anthologies, along with articles, reviews and interviews. He’s written for This Is Horror, Blood Magazine and Horror Geeks Magazine. He’s the author of the popular novel “Walled In” (2014), along with his short story collections “White Walls and Straitjackets” (2015) and “Choice Cuts” (2015). After discovering Richard Laymon, David set out on a path to become the best writer he could, holding a BA and MA in creative writing.

Choice Cuts’ blurb:

Choice Cuts: A collection of one of the finest splatter-fuelled horror the genre holds, an unflinching set of short stories that will stay with you, horrors that set root into the back of your psyche & taunt your sanity to its limits.

Here lies fourteen tales of all that is baneful & bloodthirsty from David Owain Hughes, an author with an unflinching love for all things close-to-the-bone, grim & grotesque. Once you delve into these pages you will come face to face with an unstoppable force of pure gore. Readers of a delicate disposition may want to put this tome back on the shelf, while those of you who feel ready to be dragged along into the minds of the deranged & disturbed, the murderous & malignant who watch & wait…

Packed with fast-paced thrills & many, many spills. You’ll come face to face with what lies beneath the surface of the mundane & ordinary, step foot into the maze of murder, mania & madness…just be sure to come out in one piece, not just another choice cut.

We had the disquieting dioramas of stealth-like shocks & spills of Laymon…now we present you with Hughes’ own approach towards the antagonistic execution in the realms of the fear & mayhem that can strike when you least expect it. If you’re a fan of Laymon & Lee, you’ll devour Choice Cuts.

Choice Cuts

Choice Cuts

Buy link for Amazon: Choice Cuts

Co-writing Experiences

Recently I met a man who is going to be in the same anthology as me. It’s released on Halloween (can you guess the genre?!) and is published by Burning Willow Press. It’s going to be awesome.

We spent a bit of time chatting and getting to know one another and it turns out, we have a lot in common as well as some neat ideas we can share. So we decided to co-write something. At first it was going to be a short story but it kept growing and the ideas kept flowing and in just over two weeks we have churned out a novella!

I always wondered how co-writing would work. The logistics of it confused me a lot and I didn’t know whether it would be set out a certain way or a certain author would write a certain bit. In fact, we have just gone with it as it suits us. I started and passed it to my friend who added and passed it back. Now we’re at the same stage only I did the first round of edits and emailed it to him.

What started as a bit of fun might turn into something more as we have queries several publishers who are all interested in seeing the finished novella which is great!

What I’ve found with co-writing is that it boosts my creativity. Not that I can’t write on my own mind you but have someone to constantly bounce ideas off is great, especially if you’re both on the same page but have different imaginations. I have also found that it means because I am responsible to my friend for finishing my section, I’m working quicker, I’m putting more energy and thought into the novella.

I’ve been writing this at the same time as working on my novel (which is now at 30k) and although I thought it may have been too big a project to take on at the time, I have really enjoyed the experience. I will certainly co-write again!

What are you thoughts and feelings on co-writing? Have you ever co-written something? What was your experience like? I would love to hear from you!

Writing is a Lonely Profession

Writing can be a lonely profession. Most of my days (when I’m writing anyway) are spent on my sofa, usually in my pajamas with my laptop on my knees working on something or other with various internet windows open for research or procrastination purposes. I’m always content when I’m like that. I do what I love and that’s what’s important. However, there are times when I realise that I might have spent an entire two days (my two days off work) doing this and that I haven’t been anywhere or seen anyone or done anything. Sometimes I’m fine with that but sometimes I’m not.

I have to remind myself that there is a life outside of both work and writing and that I need to take time to explore it and have fun. It’s important to do that.

Inside of the writing world, when I’m spending days in front of my computer, I realise the importance for contact with other writers. When I first started out I had a couple of people I talked to, who knew what it was like to be a writer and how lonely it could be. As my work has expanded and my social circles within the writing community developed, I realise that I have friends all over the globe. Most of them are in America and I know one very special couple that always keep me going from Carolina. We talk daily and it means the world to me, not only to have someone who understands what I do and who I can talk to about writing, but someone I can just talk to as a friend.

I signed up to do an author signing down the line but has led me to make friends with those authors who I’ll be sharing a room with for twelve hours and more recently, I began talking to a man in my very own UK who I’m going to be sharing an anthology with. After some general chit-chatting and realising how similar we were in some aspects, we’ve decided to do a collaboration on a short story. That’s something I’m really looking forward to.

I guess what I’m trying to say is embrace the people you talk to, get yourself out there and don’t be shy. Although we all have times when we have our introvert selves come into play, we have to have a strong social network of other writers and authors to prevent the loneliness creeping in.

What are some of the things you do to prevent isolation when writing?

Putting the Present in the Past

Have you ever edited something where you decided to change the tense it was written in? This is the first major work I’ve decided to do this for. I’m busy editing my novel, The Devil’s Playground, and when I originally wrote it, it was in first person present tense. I think it’s going to work better in past tense and so now I’m starting to make those initial edits. I’m two chapters in (well technically, one prologue and chapter one) and it’s not proving to be an easy feat. It seems that my brain is getting confused very easily and I’m constantly questioning myself as to whether I’m actually writing the right thing in the right tense at the right point. The thing is, if I was writing this from scratch I know I would have no trouble. I can tell this initial edit is going to be long and probably tedious. If you see me on facebook too much, kick me off please! I need to slog through this so I can move onto the second round of working on plot lines and characters.

So far tonight I’ve hit 1700 words in edits which I think is good for my first go at it. Let’s just hope it keeps up!

Inspiration comes in the most Mundane

I often find that inspiration can be lacking. I think all writers go through this at some point. Sometimes we are so focused and have so much to do, yet trying to think of a story idea to work on can lead to frustration and apathy. I have struggled with this from time to time. I always find that the longer I don’t write for, the harder it is to get back into the swing of it and generate new ideas.

Currently, I’m working on my no zero days policy which is going well. Some days I write thousands of words, sometimes hundreds, sometimes just enough to call it a no zero day. While those days disappoint me I always have to remind myself to take each day as it comes.

I’m trying to enter a lot of short stories at the minute as well as editing my novel and I find that my biggest source of inspiration for this is my partner. I bounce ideas off him or tell him what the call is and he’s usually really great at getting my brain sparked and getting me writing. We seem to be on the same wavelength and we both wonder at odd things and pose silly questions to each other, you know those ‘what if’ questions. It never fails to get me thinking and that’s what I need. That’s what everybody needs. Something–or someone–who sparks your creativity.

A couple of things I do to spark my creativity:

* talk to my partner.
* pay close attention to my dreams.
* ask myself and others and situations the question: what if.
* look at my everyday life and the people in it.

I keep a notebook of my ideas, things I might want to work on in the future, things that interest me but I don’t have time to work on. It means that even if that spark hasn’t worked for me at this point, I know it might in the future. Sometimes just going back through that notebook is enough.

Where do you find your inspiration?

Circle of Trees: the characters

A short while ago, I wrote a blog post telling you about my latest novel in progress which I call the Circle of Trees (for the moment). I haven’t done much editing on that in the past few weeks, mainly because I’ve been working on a host of short stories (and a novella) for submission to anthologies.

However, I’m getting back to the point of not being so over-run with shorts that I want to enter, that I’m going to have more time to go back and edit again and it got me thinking.

When the idea for the Circle of Trees was born, the idea of both Francesca and Bryony grew with it. Two female lead protagonists whose relationship develops over the course of the novel and yes, they do become partners. It’s the first piece of fiction of a substantial length that I’ve written whereby I have same-sex characters who become at item. I knew, as soon as I saw them in my mind, that they would come together. It seemed like a natural course of progression and they are so well suited to each other.

The story follows Francesca and her belief in the supernatural. When Bryony goes missing, the only thing she can think of doing is going after her and bringing her back. The two have a very natural love story that is both strong and passes through a lot of trials and tribulations. I have really enjoyed writing their story.

Francesca is a down to earth girl, a worrier and someone that takes things to heart. Bryony on the other hand is a little more carefree, loves to party and will cross boundaries all the time. They balance each other out throughout the story and their lives and when they come together, it’s a moment that won’t easily be forgotten.

Same-sex relationships, although becoming more of the norm in today’s society, will still face criticism. There are some that don’t believe in it, some that don’t agree with it and some that don’t mind. I’m of the mind that if two people are in love, why does it matter what sex they are? And Francesca and Bryony are perfect for each other, the way that Rose and Jack from Titanic were perfect for each other despite their difference.

How do you feel about having a relationship of two characters of the same sex in a novel? Would it put you off reading? Would it make you pick up the book? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Circle of Trees: the idea.

I’m working on editing a novel I wrote during the 2013 NaNoWriMo extravaganza. I hit near 60k with this one (one of my longest to date on initial write) and I really loved it. It’s already had a couple of different titles and I’m working on giving it another for when I finish but for now we’ll call it The Circle of Trees.

This novel idea came to me when I was out walking one day. I remember the day just as it was: bright and sunny. I was out for one of my first walks with a hiking group, my dad in tow. We were hiking in Ingram Valley which is located in Breamish Valley, Northumberland. It’s a beautiful spot and one I’ve been to before with bbqs and friends for fun days out.

This day in particular was sweltering hot and we traversed up a narrow pathway up the side of a steep hill. My dad and myself were near the back of the group and as I walked, I watched my feet. There was no way I wanted to stumble and slip over the side! So I finally got to the top and as our group was moving over a stile one by one, I finally had the chance to look up. I saw hills after hills, greenery and blue sky. It was beautiful. That’s when I saw them. On the top of a hill there was a circle of trees. It struck me with the way they were formed, almost as if they had been put there on purpose, and I couldn’t help but think on it. It lingered in my mind and I wish I had managed to stop and take a photo – it was hard work keeping up with everyone – as there have been so many times I’ve wanted to go back and grab the shot and never managed yet.

As we ended the walk at the local pub with a well earned pint of beer and a snickers (essential walking food!) I got out my notebook and jotted a few things down. The idea grew from there and it seemed, so did the characters. When I wrote the novel in 2013 it was one of my easiest writes so far. I’d planned it well and I was so absorbed in the story itself.

Now I’m finally getting around to editing (five chapters in so far) with the hopes of submitting it when I’m done. So I’m going to start searching for publishers too!