Taking my own advice…

editing picture for blog

Last week I heard back from my lovely editor re. the first draft of book two. It’s a follow-up to The Language of Spells and I was really worried I wouldn’t be able to match the tone or ‘voice’ of the first book, or that my editor wouldn’t like the central idea or something equally fundamental.

However, all is well. She likes it! Plus, I have a list of excellent editorial comments and suggestions to help me with draft two. Yay!

I decided I ought to take my own advice, so last week I started stage two of the editing process. (Head here to read my piece on it for Novelicious).

This stage involves looking at the big picture and thinking about the major structural, character and story changes.

I printed out the manuscript and armed myself with post-it notes and coloured pens (stationery!) and the obligatory cup of tea. I read through the book and summarised each scene using colour-coded sticky notes for each POV character.

It’s a technique I’ve used before and, my goodness, it’s effective. You can see at a glance whether you’ve got a serious imbalance with your POVs (um, yes) and, with a quick read of your scene summaries, you get a sense of the overall structure and story line. For an outline-free ‘pantser’ like me, it’s essential, and enables me to see plot holes and inaccuracies with painful clarity.

So. Now that I’ve identified the problems, I just have to fix them. Easy. (Yes, that is the sound of nervous laughter you can hear…)

Organising, Planning, Dreaming

As a self-confessed stationery-addict, September means one thing and one thing only… School supplies. Yes, I realise I left school quite some time ago, but my head and my heart still demand new pens and notebooks, diaries and planners, folders and tabbed dividers.

This year, I’m feeling the urge to reorganise my entire system. Why, yes, I am putting off starting a new book… Why d’you ask?

Instead of a separate diary, planner, address book, and a stack of notebooks, I took the notion that I should have a Master Planner (One Planner To Rule Them All). This madness started when I did a piece on personal organisers for Novelicious and spent some time on the Erin Condren website. Sigh. The pretty.

However, at around £60 (half of which was shipping) I reluctantly decided an Erin Condren was not for me… But by then I was mired in research mode (I research everything I buy to a ridiculous extent. It’s another of my… Lunacies. Adorable quirks.)

My research led me to the breathtaking organisational skills of  A Bowl Full of Lemons and the impressively comprehensive planner-review site Plannerisms.

Eventually, after a few hours spent stalking Martha Stewart stationery on the Staples website, I realised that a personal organiser was the way to go. That way I could develop my own system over time and add the inserts (homemade or otherwise) that suited me best. Yes, dear reader, I needed a Filofax.

Next the question of which one. The Malden, in scrummy aqua leather, was out on account of my inability to spend over £100 on a diary cover.

filofax-domino-personal-red-hoverInstead I settled on the Filofax Domino. It’s A5 in size, opens flat and (crucially) was on sale at WHSmiths for £22.50.

It’s red, which wouldn’t be my first choice of colour, but I like the design (it reminds me of a nice Italian notebook).

I’ll post pictures of the Master Planner once it’s arrived and been customised.

I’m hoping that this all-in-one system will help me to be more organised and to feel in control of the various areas of my life, freeing up head-space for more writing and dreaming… But if it doesn’t, I will have appeased the Stationery Gods for another September.

Pretty things: Beastie Brooches

A couple of weeks ago I had a lovely day in Edinburgh with my Mum. We saw Marcus Brigstocke at the Fringe and Neil Gaiman at the Book Festival, and had a wander around the West End Craft Fair.

This brilliant craft market runs every August and is well worth a visit. Mum and I have been many times before so there were plenty of our old favourites to see plus, as always, something new to fall in love with. This year, my heart was swayed by Linda Lovatt’s Beastie Brooches.

Linda mixes copper (with a verdigris finish) with broken china, buttons and beads to create quirky pieces like this ‘Love Birds on a Cup Handle‘.

birds on cup handle

And ‘Listening to the Nightingale‘:

listening to the night

She also makes ornamental assemblages which are a wee bit bigger and more complex. I’m thinking about treating myself to one when I get my first royalty cheque!