Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Tearing out my hair...

Truly, I'm tearing out my hair - figuratively of course because literally that would be quite painful. Why, I sense you asking? Synopsis, that's why, and submission requirements for different publishers, and synopsis, and summary, and synopsis.

Yeesh, it's a relief to get here and just write for the main reason I've always written - the pleasure in the written word. Writing a synopsis is just plain hard grind. You do a chapter by chapter synopsis and then you cut it down and cut it down and cut it down. You agonise over which plot elements and which minor characters can be safely left out without making the storyline seem incomplete. You agonise over every single word in fact because compressing an entire manuscript down to three pages is not fun, not fun at all. But you have to make it seem like fun so the publisher or agent actually reads it and doesn't press the delete button.

Then there is the formatting of the manuscript which is different for each publisher, and the cover letter requirements. This necessitates writing an individual cover letter for each publisher with all the required information included in a single page.

And of course there are the niggly bits - the header, page numbering, title page, word count etc. It's all doing my head in. The synopsis is taking longer than it takes me to write three chapters. On the plus side, I've written the outline for the entire story and the next three books in the series. I'm really happy with that and a bit surprised that I knew the full story so completely - but the words fell off my fingers so I did :)

I'm at the final stages of the synopsis, it's written and cut and polished. Now I have to guess what each publisher likes to read - a straight forward synopsis or one with a bit of colour? Should I take the risk and make it a bit longer in the interests of keeping it interesting, or should I cut it even further in case the publisher is an impatient skim reader?

This - this synopsis - is I think one of the reasons people self publish on Amazon. It's so much easier to self publish. You write your book, you edit it, polish it, format for kindle, design the cover and then you upload it. No synopsis, no stress. Bigger royalty percentages but also none of the advantages to having a publisher.

Today I'm focusing on the title page for the manuscript, the synopsis and the full story outline (because it's a series I have to include that as well). I also need to go through the first three chapters again as most publishers want them. One, gulp, wants only the first chapter which is really stressful.

By the end of the week all of this faffing about will be done and my submissions will be out in cyberspace, hopefully to find a home. Then I can relax a bit and get started on all the things I said I was going to do in my last post. By that I'm sure you're realising that I have not yet started the author page on Facebook or the Sabrina page and you are correct in that realisation.

I've been so frustrated by this synopsis that it is consuming my mind. I dream of it, think of it in the shower (and when you understand that it is winter and the bathroom is very cold and the shower is nothing more than a trickle, you can get a feel for how much this synopsis has taken over my life) and approach my computer each day with extreme reluctance.

Last night I dreamt that I was in the ocean on a hot day and a big bubble of water threw me up in the air. I landed several feet below the surface and it was so peaceful and quiet there that I felt I could just breathe in the water and stay there. Now that is not a depressive dream so don't worry about my mental state! The water was a lovely shade of blue and turquoise and there were pretty fish swimming about it and lovely coral. I wanted to stay there in the peace instead of going out to face the chaos of the world above the water.

But of course I woke up and the synopsis was waiting for me. I'll go back to it once I finish this blog. I just needed a break and to tell you all about it and get my frustration off my chest. Thanks for listening!

I do still intend to start the author page and the Sabrina page, they are first on my list once this synopsis is done and I can think freely again. I will post the link to the pages here just as soon as they are active :)

So, time for me to go back and stop procrastinating. I'm so close to being finished I think. It really won't take much time, it's just the fiddly bits that do my head in every time. But it's nearly done which means I'm nearly free of it! Until the next book requires a synopsis of course...

I wish, come write it for me!!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Took a while but I'm back!

I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm sorry, for taking so long to get back here. I didn't think it would take that long and I was quite touched to see how many of you have been checking in every day :)

So I'm still here, and most importantly out of that black hole. It was quite a climb this time - I think the longest and hardest climb out I have done in my life. At least that I remember, because I have large blank spaces where life happened but my mind erased the memory; my mind's particular form of self preservation.

So while I was away from here Christmas and the New Year came and went. Hope you had a smashing time whatever you did and you are now recharged for the year ahead. I am feeling much refreshed and a tad overwhelmed by the kindness of friends and family. Truly I am. I was feeling a bit anxious (for 'bit anxious' read massive panic attack the night before travelling) before we left for the UK.

Here in Egypt gamer son and I have been pretty isolated from social contact. It was quite a shock to both our systems to be once again in a country where we spoke the language and people wanted to talk to both of us - and not to try to scam money, but to chat for no ulterior reason. Well that is apart from the lady at border control at Gatwick airport, who wanted to be sure I would not attempt to collect public funds while there (in the UK, not Gatwick). But even she was chatty. I found myself quite out of the habit of social chitchat, and indeed I believe I talked my poor sister into a slight coma the first few nights.

Our first taxi ride in the UK was from the bus stop to my sister's house. I had not fully appreciated how I had adapted to the Egyptian taxi driver until I sat in that taxi. It was so smooth! and quiet! There was no manic lane changing, the taxi driver was not shouting on his phone to be heard over the radio customarily turned up full blast, he was not smoking while talking on his phone and most amazing of all he kept his eyes on the road. His meter was running at the correct rate (I was in a taxi yesterday where the driver actually turned on his meter but it had been fiddled with to make it rack up the pounds much faster than it should) and he helped to get our bags out of the car and did not wait for a tip for doing so.

There was green grass everywhere, a soft sky from which the sun did shine but in that gentle and unassuming way the British sun has, and it had rained recently. Very different. The weather was certainly colder than here but not too bad as they had a bit of a warm spell when we first arrived. It was a nice change. That the weather is so changeable was a nice change too.

I was very touched to receive so many lovely gifts at Christmas, and gamer son was also which is why I say I was overwhelmed by the kindness of family and friends. I have very few nice things since I sold or gave them all away before I came here so it was just lovely to receive pretties for Christmas - books from my niece, drawing pens and tea and other lovelies from my sister, a collection of pretty and useful things from my mother, a wallet that is so lovely I don't want to use it from a friend and other things. So many gifts, so very kind of everyone. I felt very lucky indeed.

It did get quite cold before we came back here but no snow. I didn't expect it since it really is too early for that part of the UK, but it would have been nice for gamer son :) However he did get to experience seeing his breath on the air - yes that is a novelty to him since it never gets that cold in Mackay. And he got to experience a frosted over car and how it feels to be outside in -2C temperatures on a misty frosty day. Maybe he can experience snow another time.

So now we are back, and I am freezing my proverbials off! It is cold! Not so cold like the UK, but also no double glazing on the windows and no central heating. So I am colder here than I was in the UK. It was 9C last night, and in a fifth floor apartment building which catches the sea breeze (more like a gale at this time of the year) and which boasts 100% improper closure of doors and windows it's really cold. It's sitting around wrapped in blankets weather, cats with cold feet using me as a human hot water bottle weather. It's COLD!

And none of this is the point of this blog, although I hope it's helped you to catch up on what I've been doing :) The point of this blog, since the last one was steeped in darkness, is to bring you up to date on my mental state. This I did in the second paragraph since it occurred to me that some of you may be concerned as to my well being. Now allow me to elaborate. Isn't that a redundant term? Allow me to elaborate I mean since I quite clearly intend to elaborate and your permission is not sought by me. I am simply being polite.

So, to elaborate, I have made decisions that I hope will make this year a cracker. Last year, as those of you who have persevered with me will know, was a very bad time for me and I was forced into decisions that I bet a lot of you thought were a tad insane. I felt then that I had no other choice and I have not regretted the decisions I made. Sure, it's been hard to be penniless, but it's been good too as one learns (or relearns) what is really important in life. I have confirmed to myself my calling in writing and it has grounded me to be able to write (so I am not so insane any more). I have discovered - rediscovered in truth - a slight artistic ability and drawing my pictures grounds me too. I've been in and out of the black hole many times over the years, and this last time for a while I believed I would not make it out. But I did.

And now, I feel almost reborn. I've got through the bad times and for the first time I really feel they are behind me. When you go through a bad time the effects stay with you and colour your life for so long afterwards, I'm sure you've all experienced that. I've had a lifetime of it and now I'm saying that's a lifetime too long. Something has shifted in me that I can't begin to explain. I've talked before about positive thinking and how it can change your life, and I've tried to keep thinking positively. But the black hole drags me in and positive thinking doesn't come into the hole with me.

This time when I was down in the hole something happened to me; I felt something inside my mind move, like a block being taken away (she's still a bit insane I hear you thinking). I don't know how else to explain it, it's like something that was stopping me from really believing in positive outcomes has gone. And now I feel optimistic about the future, and I'm taking steps to make this year a good one.

First of all it's time to stop faffing about like I have been doing. I've been so afraid of failure that I haven't allowed myself to succeed. So I have a daily schedule and I'm going to be much more disciplined in the way I use my time. I'm going to start an author page on Facebook - the link will be here when I complete it, and I'm also going to start a Sabrina page on Facebook, to link with the little books about her. I have a clear plan on where I wish to go with my writing, and I have started a file on book ideas because they are coming thick and fast. In fact I don't know how I'm going to get them all written but I'm adding to the ideas as they come :)

The plan this year is to make a go of this writing lark, make a decent living from it and get on with my (positive) life. It's not a New Years resolution as I don't make them. It just happens to have come at around the same time because I fell down so deeply into the black hole - I had to either come out changed or stay there forever. So a very belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all. Thanks for sticking around to read my ramblings, I hope you'll hang about this year too - and tell your friends about me and buy my books!

Pics from hols :)

It may not have snowed, but there was some impressive ice!

I became a little obsessed with icy leaves...

Kings College Chapel, no matter how many times I see it, I still adore it

Gamer son coming to terms with -2C

It was a misty, frosty day the day we left.This is Parkers Piece next to the bus stop

As a contrast, this is not frost or mist. This is a sandstorm which is also an impressive sight and happened yesterday (housework today!)