Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

My Book News & Advocate for the Writing Community ©

Be Brave…

August 26, 2010


With eight months of editing and revising behind me, I made the decision to be brave and actually send my novel out into the big wide world. Now that is scary. It’s one thing having friends and family saying your story is great but a whole other thing to let a publishing company look at it.

My first problem – how was I going to find a publisher that would be interested in this particular genre? By searching the internet you can have reams of publishing house names appear but it takes a long time to refine that search into different genre’s and find a particular fit. My novel comes into a fairly new genre – speculative fiction as it is neither sci-fi nor fantasy but is set in an alternative future. Now you can see my difficulty? With several weeks of research I settled on three possibilities. Two accepted email submissions and one snail mail so after making sure they did not require exclusivity, I took a deep breath and let ‘Life in Slake Patch’ free. Now it is a waiting game.

Who would have thought – especially me – that in less than 2 years from joining the WFSC, I would not only write a novel but send it out for publication? I have come a long way with my writing in a very short time and it is due, in a very large part, to the incredible support and friendship given to me by the members of the Writers Foundation of Strathcona County. No matter what happens I will continue to enjoy my writing and this fellowship.

What Next…?

August 26, 2010


With my NaNoWriMo experience behind me, with its 30 days of frantic typing anywhere and anytime, I was suddenly at a loss. The answer to my ‘What do I do next?’ was a resounding ‘Make it into a novel,’ by my friends, family and writers group.

So then I had to face another unknown, namely the editing and revising of said volume of work to turn it into a ‘proper’ manuscript. Strange as this may seem, I think this task was harder to accomplish than actually writing the story, which had literally flowed from my mind into my finger tips. I suppose I could have just left the story but my friends were so enthused by the tale and so supportive, it was certainly worth the effort.

For the next eight months my fellow noveller’s and I met once a month. We would then swap chapters to be read, revised and edited of our own work and each others. Having a fresh perspective and suggestions, helped a great deal to formulate my manuscript. I began to learn the art’s of dialogue, showing not telling and story arc’s, all of which will be on-going projects.

The one suggestion that did have me stumped though was – what if a publisher wants you to ‘finish’ the story? It is thought better to have resolution at the end of a book, unless I was going to write a sequel – that was definitely not happening! So I had to work out what paths my characters could take and came up with three possibilities. Once I had settled on my preferred ending, I revised the penultimate chapter and wrote a new one.

During these ‘editing’ filled months, I was very lucky to have the opportunity to meet an author on a one-on-one basis. This was organized through my group’s annual conference. This very personable lady was enthusiastic about my story inspiration and very open with her expertise. I have kept her amendments as a guide and will follow up on her promise to read the ‘finished’ manuscript.

With the intense work the revisions took, I nearly missed an opportunity as a NaNoWriMo winner. It was by pure chance I remembered one of the winner’s perks was to have a proof copy printed. I submitted my request just before the deadline but after a couple of errors and subsequent submissions, I thought I had missed this great opportunity. Luckily for me the company involved; Create Space; were kind enough to send my proof copy anyway. I was absolutely ecstatic to receive a copy of my book in the mail. To hold a ‘proper’ book that you have written is almost beyond words. It is also the tantalizing talisman that keeps me on my path to publishing.

Trial by Fire…

August 26, 2010

As I set up my account on the NaNoWriMo site, the enormity of my task hit. What was I thinking? How, on earth, was I going to achieve fifty thousand words in just one month? Was I deluding myself? My alter ego answered – Don’t sabotage yourself even before you start – see how it goes.

When I passed the five thousand mark, I felt an incredible sense of accomplishment – it was the most I had ever written – a milestone for me. As I became infatuated with this project, I could be found typing furiously all over the place, at my son’s soccer practice and games, at my daughter’s gymnastics or reptile meetings. I became oblivious to the strange looks I received, too focused on transcribing the words that popped into my head.

As I reached fifteen thousand words, the story seemed to find a mind of its own as though I was the vessel it was channeling through. I had no idea where the story was going – I hoped it would read well once finished. My obsession became clear when I was squeezing in a couple of paragraphs between starting the evening meal and serving it and in my lunch break – it did make me rather anti social! As the days and weeks passed the story flowed and although I had no idea where it was heading or how it would end – it was really cool – an undiscovered journey inside my subconscious.

After spending three hours typing furiously; one evening; trying to break the twenty two thousand mark I eventually got there but disaster struck. I hit save and closed the lid, but wait what did I see? Going back into my document I saw the damn thing hadn’t done its automatic 3 minute save all night and the save button hadn’t worked! All my words gone forever, I felt physically sick. My husband tried all sorts of clever electronic tricks to try and get it back but to no avail. I had to start again. It was a real low point in my NaNo challenge, I can tell you.

Determined not to be beaten by technology, I pressed on and finished the following evening with 26592 words. At this point the story was flowing nicely and seemed to be taking over. I hadn’t planned a plot or truly understood where the tale would lead. To be honest it was much more fun, letting the characters take hold of the story.

I received an email invitation to meet fellow NaNo writers at a local restaurant. The opportunity to meet and ‘see’ other mad individuals was great. We had a quick bite to eat then from 5pm – 8pm it was almost constant writing – no kids, no husband, and no interruptions – absolute bliss. At the end of the evening I had managed 1108 words taking my grand total up to 31,161. To have past the 30K mark made me very happy. With an evening at a friend’s house planned, the following day, I knew I could get another ‘chunk’ done.

The story seemed to be flowing directly from my main character and he surprised me all the time – it was so cool. Having the time limit had focused me and I was enjoying it – no really I was!. With only six days left I had 41287 words at 7.15pm. I could see I would have to really push myself to reach the target – working around household and family commitments and all that jazz wasn’t helping. My characters input was also slowing down, at that point, which meant panic was creeping in. This resulted in ‘blank page’ syndrome at the 46001 word mark – my cure? I walked the dog in the dark – torch in hand – I came back chilled but with a refreshed brain and the next chapter came to me.

Success came at 10.44pm with a 50,323 word count the night before the deadline. The story had a cliff hanger ending – let my readers make up their own conclusion. I read through the whole thing the following morning before submitting it. Printing off my winner’s certificate felt so good. It has pride of place hung beside my writing desk.


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