Saturday, October 31, 2009

Nanowrimo: and so it begins

Hello there, Nanowrimo group!

I just thought I would check in on the first day (in my time zone) and say good luck to you all. I hope your first writing day went well.

My plan is to write 1,000 words a day on the weekends and 2,000 words a day during the week. I reached my target of 1,000 words today - hooray! If you would like a handy-dandy word-count-matic like mine (in the sidebar), go here. As you can see, I started the month with just under 14,000 words written. I aim to reach 64,000 by the end of the month. We'll see how well that works alongside the heavy revision I'll be doing on my recently finished draft.

In honour of the occasion, I thought I would ask everyone in the group to share the first paragraph of their novel in the comments, if they feel comfortable doing so. I know that they will be extremely rough and subject to change at a moment's notice - such is the nature of Nanowrimo - but it will give everyone a taste of what you're working on. I would certainly love to see them.

Here's mine:

The world is formless and desolate. There is no raging ocean; just nothingness that pulls at the eye like a missing front tooth, the stump of a leg, the uncoloured edges of a child’s drawing.

Can't wait to hear yours!

Friday, October 30, 2009

A Cat of Impossible Colour Nanowrimo Group!

Wow, we have a great group! I'm so excited about Nanowrimo this year, and I think it's going to be great fun. Thanks to everyone who signed up: it's lovely to have you on board. And the very best of luck to you all for 1 November!

All the participants are listed below, along with the information they gave me upon signing up. Click on their names to visit their blogs.

Andrea (me)

Username: theluckyblackcat
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Title: No idea whatsoever. I have a terrible habit of saving my novels as "Book", "Book3", "Newbook" and things like that, and I usually only think of a title right at the end. So the title is to be confirmed.
Blurb: Too superstitious to share, in case I jinx it!

I have just under 14,000 words of this written already. I started writing it in 2006 but never pursued it. The story is still very strong in my mind, however, and I would love to see it completed.

Icy @ Individual Chic

Username: Icy
Title: Miss Lyon and the Mystery of the Jade Mask
Genre: Mystery
Blurb: Miss Lyon is asked to investigate a mysterious journal and to find the Mayan jade mask it leads to. But someone else is after it as well, and will use any means to stop Miss Lyon getting there first.

So far: I have 18000 words written previously, so I'm aiming to add another 50000. I'd done some planning, but I'm doing a lot more now. Hopefully this should help me keep writing through the hard spots. Planning is working well, as the baddy has finally revealed themselves to me (I had no idea who dun it before).


Username: Mercurie
Genre: Probably Fantasy, Horror, or Spy Thriller (or all three...)
Title: I have no idea right now, but I know I'll think of something.
Blurb: To be honest, I have a few ideas, but I am not quite sure what this one is going to be about (I decided not to use the novel I have been working upon for NaNoWriMo).

Autumn Rose

Username: autumn_rose.


Username: esstea
Genre: historical fiction
Title: right now, "And Sons," but it'll change
Blurb: I also fear the jinx! I'll share more once I get cozy with it.


Username: Axsis
Genre: Short stories
Title: They will all have different ones, that is how short stories work
Blurb: Currently taking story suggestions. Not v organised.

Tamara Hellgren

Username: tjhellgren
Genre: dark fiction

I have a title and some notes and character sketches, but that's all. It'll sure be interesting to see how things develop!


Username: Luinae (oooh, creative)
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Title: I can never think of titles!
Blurb: Uh, don't have one?



Username: Vikki56
Genre: horror/fantasy
Title: At the moment The Horror, the horror, this is very likely to change though...
Blurb: It was going to be a vampire novel set in Russia but I'm experimenting with other dark literary forces at present. Still set in Russia though, but Scotland may be edging in there...


Username: buttonista
Genre romance!


Username - Kateforsyth
Title - don't know yet
Blurb - too hazy to put into words (doesn't sound promising does it??)


Username: Academic Abandon
Genre: Young Adult Historical Fiction
Title: Nope, don't have one...
Blurb: I have a few ideas but all I will share for now is that it's set at the turn of the century in Vienna and that it's about a young girl being married off to a much older man whose daughter is almost her age.

Redeemed Diva


Username: ABD1350
Genre: Literary Fiction
Title: TBA (not the title; seriously has yet to be announced!)
Blurb - TBA...again...


Username: andreastaats
I'm torn between a few ideas. We'll see what wants to be written on Nov. 1!

Madam0wl, a.k.a Sandra

Username: madam0wl
Genre: sci-fi / romance
Title: not sure, probably not until the end?
Blurb: Day-in-the-life-in-near-future (2040) imagining what it might be like for my kids once they are grown...

I'm taking a tip from a character in one of the books I like (I think, or maybe it was the author), that one way to write fiction is to use bits of your own life but imagined / reworked.


Username: The Rainbow Notebook
Genre: Fantasy
Title: I haven't settled on one yet.
Blurb: I'm interested in working with a mix of genres and am calling it an aesthetic/fantastic/gothic/melodramatic/folkloric/ mix as I'm interested in working across some of those genre ideas in particular. There is going to be some poetry interspersed within the text as well. The actual story is set in rural Northern Norway between the wars. Expect woods, reindeer, romance and mystery!

Beautiful Witch

Username: mareejones
Genre: Paranormal/Fantasy
Title: Gods and Jukeboxes (well, working title at least!)
Blurb: You know, I have no idea. I'm just waiting to see the bats that fly out of my attic on November 1!


Username: all your stars are out
Genre: ....
Title: ....
Blurb: ....

... (these will come to me soon won't they?)


Username: KleinKatze
Genre: Fantasy (Children's Literature)
Title: Wishing Well
Blurb: Jobyna spends the summer at her grandmother's cottage where she learns a fairy-tale about a magic well that grants wishes.

Ashley Louise

Username: Fraxinilucia
Genre: Will propbably get shoved in the romance section if it was ever published, but is intended as a young adult fiction on growing up and falling in love.
Title: Something about growing up and falling in love.
Blurb: She grows up and falls in love.

Lola Sharp

Username: the-sharp-pen
Genre: Literary fiction


Username: spitout
Blurb: A community is divided over certain events and so becomes mother and daughter. Young Adult Fiction.
Title: Crossing the Spit (work in progress!)

Teresa Stenson

Username: they.fall.back
Everything else: hasn't made itself known to me yet.


Username: furtherado
Genre: Literary fiction
Blurb: Una is in exile, travelling the world to collect antiques for the store to which she can never return, searching for a daughter lost long ago.


Username: stellarkate
Title - none as yet - will be last thing, I'm sure.
Genre : historical fiction I think
Blurb: it's about food, and people, and the forces of history, and the power of memory . . .


Username: bettyblue
Title - no idea!!!
Genre: fiction
Blurb: a series of strange encounters ... those moments in life that leave you baffled, confused, in fits of laughter, crying, fearful, and more than anything aware of the nonsensical nature of people and our relationships to each other in general. Well, I say people but at least one encounter I plan on writing about involves a dog ...


Username: wellreadkitty
Genre: Chick Lit
Title: Not sure yet but I have several plots, characters and settings all sorted out. The title will come later I hope.


Username: sevenswans
Genre: literary fiction? mainstream fiction? i'm not 100% sure (yet)
Title: "the birthday party". possibly.
Blurb: nerdy guy invites the coffee shop girl he has a crush on to a birthday party that doesn't yet exist: watch disaster and (hopefully) hilarity ensue as he tries to throw one together.


Username: goldentouch
Genre: Not 100% sure yet but probably some sort of Fantasy.


Username: Distant_duck
Genre: still coming up with that one
Title: also still not decided.

Fields of Paper

Username: fieldsofpaper
Genre: Hmmmm. Think I'll defer a decision on that one for now. Mainstream fiction? Adventure? Let's see where it goes.
Title: I have a title in mind but I want to see where I end up before I attach it umbilically to my delicate little WIP!
Blurb: It's about a female war photographer. I'm about 10,000 words in right now. And that's all I'm saying. Superstition must be a common trait for us writers!


Username: whatevershesaid
Genre: er no idea yet
Title: ditto!

Juli Ryan

Username: juliryan
I usually don't name my books either until the end either, but I was intimidated by the Nanowrimo website. So...
Working title: The Phoenix From the Flame
Genre: I'm hoping for Mainstream Fiction, but it may end up Romance
Blurb: coming of age story about a woman who finds her HS boyfriend on Facebook.


Username: AKCotton
Genre: Mystery (not cozy, more thriller)
Working Title: LV Spy Story 2 (I started LV Spy Story 1 last year, and have nearly 50K words).
Blurb: A young woman ends up nearly dead in a shopping center/mall after hours, the EMTs think it's a drug overdose, but looks can be deceiving. Can the investigator solve the crime before something worse happens to the hospitalized woman?

Valerie Storey

Username: poppywriter
Genre: Literary
Title: Ghazal
Blurb: Thirty years, thirty doorways. Every breath, every door we take matters to someone.


Username: moder_millie
Genre: undecided; probably chick lit
Title: unknown or should I say undiscovered


Genre: (young adult?) fantasy
Title: no idea
Blurb: Too superstitious to go into it just yet!


Genre: fantasy / chick lit
Title: dont know yet, maybe something with Athena in it...
Blurb: The Goddess Athena had a daughter who was half human, she was told her mother died in childbirth, now she is in her early 20's trying to figure out what to do with her life and her Mother shows up out of the blue telling her about her real history and giving her a task that she must do or very bad things will happen.


Username: silenteloquence
Working title : A bumpy ride


Username: Snidder
Genre: either short story collection or mainstream fiction but as yet undecided
Title: nothing yet
Blurb: woman extricates herself from a difficult 10 year marriage that was near violence. She leaves her husband and the house they built together and never returns. The story explores the complicated nature of the relationship through an epic journey, possibly an archetypal journey. still working it out. Hopefully it will all come together as I write.


User Name: EveningReaderWrites
Genre: literary fiction
(Working) Title: What Hope Looks Like to Other People
Blurb: Story of a family in West Texas in the 1980s, during the downturn of the oil boom.

Amber Lough

Username: amberlough
Title: Jinn
Genre: Young Adult

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


29 Oct 09
After a lovely batch of sunny days, we have been plunged back into winter. I enjoyed the dramatic hailstorm last night, but it's not so much fun today - drizzly and cold. Ah, well. Today's outfit was inspired by Bonnie Parker - or, rather, by Faye Dunaway's depiction of her.

I'm trying to look tough, but this just goes to show that I should never start a gang - apart from the Nanowrimo writing gang, of course, which provides a neat segue into reminding anyone who wants to sign up and hasn't already done so to visit this post.

There are only so many ways that you can prepare for a month of novelling (I know that isn't a word, but it should be), but there are a few things you can do to make the whole experience easier.

1) Clean the house!

Your house will be semi-neglected for a month. If you do a big whole-house clean before the end of the month, the mess will be more bearable - especially if you're a neat freak like me.

2) Warn friends, family, partners and pets

They are going to be semi-neglected too.

3) Stock up on nutritious snacks

The temptation to eat pizza and chocolate and drink wine and coffee all month will be strong. Resist it. Drink plenty of water during your writing sessions and eat healthy snacks like raw vegetables or yoghurt.

This is actually pretty good advice for leading a writing life in general!

And finally - attention New Zealanders! I am starting to sell a large amount of my clothing - vintage and vintage-inspired - on Trade Me (all proceeds to the Andrea-needs-her-remaining-wisdom-teeth-out Fund). I've only uploaded a couple of items so far, but over the next couple of days I'll be gradually adding more listings. If you feel like shopping in my wardrobe, now is the time! And sorry, Trade Me is only available to New Zealanders - international postage frightens me, so I'm keeping it local.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Sign-up sheet for Nanowrimo group!

Here it is! I'll keep linking back to this post over the next ten days, in case anyone misses it. I'm sure you are all up to speed with what Nanowrimo is by now, but, just in case, you can read all about it here.

Here's what you need to do to join this particular Nanowrimo group (I'm still trying to think of a catchy name: coofimpoconanowrimo? Ouch. If you have any ideas, let me know):
1) Sign up on the official Nanowrimo website.
2) Leave a comment on this post with your Nanowrimo username (if you want to make it known) and any information about your Nanowrimo novel that you want to share - title, genre, blurb, anything along those lines. Some of you may have notes and outlines already; some of you may just start writing on 1 November and see what happens. Some of you, like me, might be planning to write 50,000 words of a book that is already in progress. My friend Ally is planning to write 50,000 words worth of short stories. Whatever works for you!

That's it. Easy! Here's my plan for our little sub-group in November:

1) I will post a link to all members of our little writing gang on 1 November (New Zealand time), so that people can follow our progress on our blogs. If you have a title and blurb planned for your Nanowrimo book (which you will have left in a comment on THIS post), I'll post that with your name.
2) Every Friday during Nanowrimo I will open up the comments to participants who want to post links to their own blogs and talk about their progress and experiences. I will also feature posts by any participants that take my fancy.
3) If you are following me on Twitter, I will be hosting Timed Writing Frenzies now and then for anyone who wants to join me in furiously upping their word count.
4) At the end of the month, I will post the names of everyone who successfully completed their 50,000 words, and we will all be filled with the pride of a job well done. And we will also probably be filled with wine. I know I will be.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Taking a break, and a Nanowrimo reminder (Nanowriminder?)

I am having a wonderful couple of days off. Yesterday I sat in Borders for most of the day and read books - do any of you feel that illicit thrill when you read an entire book in a bookstore? It feels like shoplifting. You leave the actual book behind, but you carry the contents away in your head, perhaps giving a merry wave to the shop assistants ("Ha ha! Little do they know!") and lingering by the security gates for longer than is necessary.

Today may well be the momentous day when I print out my first draft and put it on a shelf for a few weeks. It is always satisfying seeing the fat stack of paper - of course, that's assuming that our printer ink does not run out halfway through the book, which usually happens. Printer ink is dashed expensive, perhaps because it is made from the black blood of mountain trolls.

It's the old archeological or paleontological method for writing: You sit there with a little brush and maybe a little pick, and you keep excavating until suddenly you discover you've dug up a T Rex—and you're at the end of the first draft. That's what rewrites are for. Thank God. Then you can go back and saturate the metaphor. This is what I was really writing about all along. - Tamora Pierce

Tomorrow I am going to post the official sign-up sheet for Nanowrimo - well, not quite the official official sign-up sheet, because that would be the Nanowrimo website. This one just means that you are signing up to my little sub-group of writing buddies. Here's a link to my original post on the matter, in case you missed it. Basically, here's the plan:
1) I will post a link to all members of our little writing gang on 1 November, so that people can follow our progress on our blogs. If you have a title and blurb planned for your Nano book, I'll post that with your name (if you want to reveal it).
2) Every Friday during Nanowrimo I will open up the comments to participants who want to post links to their own blogs and talk about their progress and experiences. I will also feature posts by any participants that take my fancy.
3) If you are following me on Twitter, I will be hosting Timed Writing Frenzies now and then for anyone who wants to join me in furiously upping their word count.
4) At the end of the month, I will post the names of everyone who successfully completed their 50,000 words, and we will all be filled with the pride of a job well done. And we will also probably be filled with wine. I know I will be.

Don't forget to sign up on the Nanowrimo website, as well! I keep forgetting to say this, but my Nanowrimo user name is theluckyblackcat, if you would like to add me as a friend.

See you tomorrow!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Skull Tribal Tattoo Design

Skull Tribal Tattoo Design Skull Tribal Tattoo Design Skull Tribal Tattoo Design Skull Tribal Tattoo Design

Skull Tribal Tattoo Design Skull Tribal Tattoo Design Skull Tribal Tattoo Design

Skull Tribal Tattoo Design Skull Tribal Tattoo Design
Skull Tribal Tattoo Design


See above. All 102,000 words of it (8,000 written today). Beginning, middle and end and all the fiddly bits around the edges: it's all there. I actually finished the first and third sections of the book long before the middle, so it has mostly been the middle that I've been working on for the past few weeks.

Of course, now I need to go through it all on screen and make sure it's a readable first draft - that there aren't any huge gaps that I've forgotten about. Once that's done, I'll print it out and leave it to stew for a while. Then I'll scribble all over it, rip it to shreds and completely re-build it. The revision process is my favourite stage, though, because I'm working with something that actually exists, not something that I'm trying to call into being.

Anyway. For tonight, I am finished. Woo-hoo! And I am going to pass out on the keyboard.

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Whoops, sorry. Time for bed.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

First draft update!

Because every so often a dramatic gesture spurs one into action, I decided to complete the first draft today, come hell or high water. That represented about 8,000 or 9,000 words, at a rough guess - I knew exactly what needed to be written and it was just a matter of taking a deep breath and going hell-for-leather. The slight insanity of the task appealed to me. Doing something a bit crazy now and then has to be good for the skin. Or something.

I've been working since 8 this morning and have written just over 6,000 words so far, reaching the 100,000-word mark (which feels very significant, even though it doesn't have any intrinsic importance to this draft). Still going! I'll let you know when it is all done later this evening and will give you all a glass of virtual bloggy bubbly.
"Write the damn book." - Jane Yolen

"I believe humans get a lot done, not because we're smart, but because we have thumbs so we can make coffee." - Flash Rosenberg

"The only way [the book can be written] is to set the unbook - the gilt-framed portrait of the book - right there on the altar and sacrifice it, truly sacrifice it. Only then may the book, the real live flawed finite book, slowly, sentence by carnal sentence, appear." - Bonnie Friedman
P.S. I can't find a definitive origin for the phrase hell-for-leather, although there are quite a few theories: I always imagined it had something to do with a horse's leather tack and hard riding. Anyone else have a better idea?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Why grown-ups should not be allowed in the grotto

Here's something that you may not know about me: I used to be a fairy.

For two years.

It was my first job. I needed a job because I was a poor university student, but I didn't want to work at a supermarket (or anything along those lines). Spending most of my teen years in Zimbabwe meant that I had never had a job before, and I therefore had no qualifications nor experience. Quite the catch.

Still, I needed gainful employment, and I stumbled across it quite by chance when I got off my bus at the wrong stop and discovered Once Were Angels, a fairy shop. Magical. Glitter varnished into the floorboards, silver-painted tree branches hung with ornaments, swags of sparking green velvet looped from the ceiling, forest murals on the walls, toadstools on the floor. And fairies, of course, in the form of mobiles, paintings, ornaments, toys, books and sculptures. The place was gorgeously, luxuriously cluttered. I loved it. And I loved the white-haired lady behind the counter: well into her sixties and dressed in a pink satin fairy costume.

We chatted. She told me that they held fairy-themed birthday parties there, in the fairy garden and the grotto. The garden was at the back of the shop, and was just as flower-and-toadstool-and-statue-and-fairy-filled as you can imagine. The grotto was in a room above, filled with enormous papier mache trees. A team of fairy princesses ran the parties and provided the entertainment. And I had found my college job.

Here's how the parties went in the grotto:
1) A shop assistant led an excited, giggly crowd of girls aged anywhere between four and eleven up the stairs, and stopped outside the closed grotto door. She informed them with great solemnity that there was a fairy inside, but that she was very shy, and would probably be hiding. She also told them that only children could see her, and, even then, only when they had been sprinkled with fairy dust.
2) The assistant opened up a tiny wooden chest filled with glitter and sprinkled it on the girls' heads.
3)The door opened. The grotto was almost completely dark, with just a couple of small lights twinkling. The assistant pressed a button on the wall behind her and all the thousands of fairy lights looped over the walls and ceiling bloomed like white flowers, glowing brighter and brighter, lighting up the branches and leaves and glittering green carpet.
4) The girls fanned out into the room, looking for the fairy. One of them would find her hidden inside the trunk of a papier mache oak tree, behind shining leaves. And the party would begin.

We played games, sang songs and ate delicate party food (like fairy bread! Does anyone remember that? Slices of white bread spread with butter and sprinkled with hundreds-and-thousands). Those first few minutes were always the most magical for me, though: crouched inside the tree trunk, hearing the whispers and giggles and excitement, remembering how it felt to be that age. It really did feel like magic, and I was caught up in it as well. I also liked the story-telling session that came after lunch, when the children were full and a bit more relaxed. I'd ask all of them for different elements, and then piece those elements together into a story. The birthday girl was always the main character, naturally.

So why am I talking about this today? Well, I have been thinking about magic, and the kind of spell that is woven when you are completely immersed in something; the 'fictional dream' (John Gardner) from which you never want to awaken. It is something you experience when you are reading, and it is something you can experience when writing, too. If, that is, you are approaching the magic as an excited child and not as a cynical grown-up.

At the parties, there was usually one parent in the room - to supervise and make sure that the children were happy and staying safe. That was fine. In fact, it was fun: the grown-up had to play along with the 'only children can see fairies' story, and pretend to be amazed when a plate the fairy was holding seemed to hover in thin air. In theory, no other adults were allowed to attend. Sometimes, though, the parents would get bored and wander in to watch. They would finger the papier mache tree and laugh; snicker at the games; chat amongst themselves. Their palpable unbelief made the whole party seem like a cardboard cut-out: something sparkling, but also thin, and false. These parties never went as well as the ones where just one grown-up was in attendance.

I remembered this yesterday as I was writing a scene that flew along so fast that my fingers couldn't keep up. I was completely immersed in the story. And then the line of grown-ups showed up in my head, wandering around and examining things with critical fingers.
"Hey, didn't you just change that character's eye colour? Better go back and sort that out now."
"Where is this scene going to fit in? Bet you didn't think about that when you started."
"Whoops, typo."
"This really isn't all that good."
Not helpful: not when you are completely absorbed in the magic. My scene turned from something vivid and real into a cardboard cut-out, and I stopped, discouraged.

Not today, though. I gave into them yesterday, but today I've hung a wonky, hand-painted sign saying "No Grown-ups!" at the door to my brain. Don't want them, don't need them. They can have a cup of tea in the kitchen and grumble all they like, but they're not getting in.

They'll be useful when I get to the methodical, frowning-at-the-screen stage of revision, of course. Until then, though: no grown-ups allowed!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

First drafts and another reason to love Mark Twain

Since I work from home, I have a number of little traditions. One is Friday night drinks. I finish work early and open a bottle of wine for a celebratory glass. Another tradition is the occasional play-date. Sometimes I get caught up in word count and to-do lists and need a day to be a little kid again. I put all the couch cushions on the floor, grab a couple of blankets, some sheets of card and paper, coloured crayons and some books - I highly recommend SARK's Creative Companion. I eat my meals on the floor too (floor picnic!). In fact, I spend the whole day there. I draw mind-maps, doodle pictures of my characters, write out what I'm thinking in cartoon letters and decorate it with squiggles. It's a great way to get out of your reasonable, methodical adult brain and into your more child-like, creative one, and it usually produces some interesting stuff for your aforesaid adult brain to work with on the following day. I did this last week, and it made me feel much freer and more open for the next few days.

Thank you so much for all your comments, as always - I'm approaching the end of the first draft, and will hopefully be celebrating next week! All writers work differently, but for me the function of a first draft can be summed up in this quote from Mark Twain:
“The time to begin writing an article is when you have finished it to your satisfaction. By that time you begin to clearly and logically perceive what it is that you really want to say.”
I get the book to a point where it is readable, coherent and complete. For now. I print it out. I take a break from it for a while in an attempt to get some distance from the material (and that's how I see it: as raw material). The book is lulled into a false sense of security. It dozes in a bottom drawer, imagining that its ordeal is over. Oh, the innocence! Poor little thing. As soon as I feel I can approach it objectively, I break it into little bits and reassemble it. Characters die. Scenes, even whole chapters, are destroyed or dramatically re-shaped. The beginning becomes the middle which becomes the beginning or the end or gets thrown out altogether. It's a massacre. Then there's the fiddly task of making sure that I haven't changed someone's name halfway through (I do this a lot), checking dates (important, since this novel is set in the Second Chimurenga in the 1970s) and that sort of thing. I also do a search-and-destroy to eliminate my frequent offenders - words and phrases I tend to over-use. I cut a lot of text, too, as I tend to write too much material and trim it down rather than writing too little and fleshing it out. Again, every writer is different, but this works for me.

I also do a lot of writing about the book at this point. I return to my original themes to see if they still apply and whether others have appeared along the way. I write a new synopsis. I write a story arc for each character (even though I am usually sick of the sight of them at this point).

Once I have finished with all of this, I have a battered and bleeding manuscript covered in blue pen. I sit down and work through it page by page, ticking off the changes as I go and throwing away pages as I finish them. This takes a long time. With my last book, I got through this by waking up at 5am and working before the sun came up, to minimise distractions. It is a painful but immensely satisfying process. And, at the end of it, I should have something approaching a decent book that I can pass on to my agent with some degree of confidence. With this book, I hope to have this done by the end of December.

Here are a few detailed posts on revision that I wrote while in the thick of rewriting my previous novel:
1) The original epiphany
2) Books are Not Babies
3) Souffles

And in the past I have found these two articles very helpful with the revision process:
1) Nathan Bransford's Revision Checklist
2) Holly Lisle's One-pass Manuscript Revision

Sunday, October 11, 2009

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Saturday, October 10, 2009


LOML and I went to Akaroa today - a small harbour town that is New Zealand's only French settlement. One of my favourite places! It was a gorgeous day. We walked up to Tree Crop Farm - another of my favourite places - then had a picnic on the waterfront and napped in the sun (well, I napped). We had packed our old wicker picnic basket full of goodies, and I'm sure I saw people looking enviously at our spread as they walked past! Food tastes so much better when it is eaten outside, particularly in the sea air. The photos above were taken by LOML - all except the first two, whose poor quality should indicate they were taken by me.

I hope you all had great weekends too!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Somehow we have arrived at Thursday without my noticing. I have been head-down all week working furiously on the book (and making good progress, thank goodness, as you can see by my handy word-count-o-matic), and the days have gone past in a sort of blur.

I have a project in mind for Nanowrimo (although we all know how well that worked out last year), and I'm really excited about it. Seductive New Ideas are always dangerous for a writer. When you're at a painful stage with your work-in-progress, it can be very tempting to 'just make a start' on your SNI. Before you know it, you are completely sucked in and conducting a mad affair with the new book while your poor little current book sits at home wondering why you haven't called and whether that was lipstick it saw on your collar. That is why I really want to have my first draft completely wrapped up by the end of October. Taking a month off to work on something new will be such a relief, and will help me approach the Ferocious Edit (which is December's job) with fresh eyes.

For those of you who haven't taken part in Nanowrimo before, here's the deal (from the official website):
"National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing November 1. The goal is to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30.

Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved.

Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It's all about quantity, not quality. The kamikaze approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.

Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap. And that's a good thing. By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes. To forgo the endless tweaking and editing and just create. To build without tearing down."

I've participated in Nanowrimo twice before, and I have some possibly sage advice:
1) Pace yourself. Last year I decided I was going to write the 50,000 words in two weeks. I did it, but then got horribly ill and exhausted. One of Nanowrimo's many benefits is that it prepares you for a steady, productive writing life, and reinforces the fact that doing some writing every day will eventually produce a novel.
2) This goes hand-in-hand with the point above: pace yourself, yes, but keep to your daily quota. If you let it slide, telling yourself that you will catch up, it gets harder and harder. If you know you have a couple of busy days coming up when you won't be able to write, get an extra few thousand words under your belt beforehand.
3) Finish the whole story in November, even if it means you have to under-write and sketch out scenes rather than write them in full. I got about halfway through last year, and then dropped the story where it stood when I reached 50,000 words. I went on to re-write my previous novel and didn't come back to the Nanowrimo novel until about April or May this year (the Nanowrimo novel is the one I'm still working on now). All that time, the Nanowrimo novel had been drifting aimlessly, getting in with a bad crowd and possibly taking some drugs. When I came back to it, it took ages for me to make friends with it again. So I speak from experience when I say: finish the damn thing in November, no matter how bad the first draft is. You can improve it and flesh it out later.
4)Announce that you are taking part to as many people as possible, to make it very embarrassing if you give up. This will keep you on track.

Speaking of which: I thought I might write a weekly post throughout Nanowrimo where I chronicle my own progress and link to posts from those of my readers who are also taking part. Keep this in mind for November, if you're interested: I'll put up an official sign-up sheet towards the end of the month and publish a list of the participants in our group on the first day of November. It is always more fun doing it in a gang and discussing our experience along the way! It helps to keep one's Nanowrimo-mojo up too.

Tattoo Sexy Tribal Maria Ozawa

Sexy looking Miyabi, but this is not the original engineering only I use photoshop. My tribal tattoo design on the chest maria ozawa. Sexy tattoo design just for maria ozawa a.k.a miyabi LOL

Did you ever see maria ozawa tattooed, I think just here LOL again

Leave Me Alone tatttoo design

Tattoo Design Wing on back girl, Symbol represents the emo people. I found it in a friendster profile. I am interested in the design of this Leave Me Alone. Then I took it to share with you on my blog.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Sexy Tattoo Girl

Wow .. This girl looks sexy with a tattoo he has.
Sexy Tattoo Girl

Virgo BodyPainting

Wonderfull this body painting in girl. Nice and beautifull Virgo simbol. Great, look in real Face and hair painting picture

Dragon in Arm Girl

girl sexy dragon tattoo
Tattoo Dragon design cool in arm girl, Beutiful japanise tattoo.
But I dont know this real or temporary body painting.
Just share this pic for you... Dragon design more next time
I like dragon design tattoo's

Monday, October 5, 2009

Wedding Anniversary!

Today is LOML's and my second wedding anniversary. Six years together, two years married! (You have to add that 'six years together' bit, don't you?).

Notice that I have aged the photos to represent how very OLD we are now. Also, about two seconds after that central photo was taken, I dropped hors d'oeuvres down my front.

I'm going to be really soppy for a moment and post a poem that I wrote many years ago, when LOML and I first started dating.


no one has ever felt like this
no one has ever done this before
we are the first

the rain presses its nose against the
a small boy at a toyshop
breathes on the glass

I haven’t felt this safe since I was
five years old
listening to the rain, thankful I
wasn’t in it, feeling smug about those
who were.

with you my life stops
I dance in the space between the minutes
time dances in the space between the raindrops
without getting wet.

you are my bedtime story;
you are too close to see.

I want you to know

that this rain has fallen for good
each drop is different, and is gone
we splash in the puddles and are lost

until then

no one has ever felt like this
no one has done this before
we are the first.

LOML is at work today, but tonight we are going out to dinner at the restaurant where we had our first date, and then we are going to watch 500 Days of Summer.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Sailors and brain drain

For the past few weeks I have felt like a skimmed stone skipping over water. I have been ticking off endless daily to-do lists and being very productive, but living on the surface, constantly moving, with no time to properly live in the moment. There are lots of reasons for that - perhaps Holy-Cow-It's-October Syndrome has something to do with it? - but I'm more interested in the solutions. I've been a fan of Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way for years, but I have never been very consistent with the writing of Morning Pages (the three pages of longhand, stream-of-consciousness writing that she recommends as a daily tool). Whenever I have used them, I have found them very helpful - more as a way of staying grounded and in-the-moment than as a writing aid. I'd like to try Morning Pages again this week, though, and see if they help.

I used to keep a diary religiously (and the old ones are hilarious to re-read), but now that I write full-time and blog as well, there doesn't seem to be much of the written Andrea left at the end of the day. I suppose writing Morning Pages will be a return to keeping a journal, in some ways, but since they are written before the day starts rather than after the day has ended, they are more of a focusing tool than a personal record of events.

Although I no longer keep a diary, I do lug around a couple of blank books on a daily basis: my day planner and my notebook. These are absolutely essential if I am to live like a functional human being. My brain is a scary place. It is full of debris and space-junk: an endless procession of worries, ideas, rants and ramblings, with a jaunty 'Here be Dragons' or 'No Fishing' notice sticking out here and there. These two little books act like a drain in a particularly messy wound, keeping it clean. (Apologies for the analogy: I have been trying to think of a less disgusting one but, hey, this is the country of Black Sheep and Braindead. We can handle it.) I write absolutely everything in my day planner, no matter how small ("Clean fluff out of pockets - done!"), and it gives me a great sense of satisfaction to tick off the items at the end of the day. If something unexpected came up, I write that down too, purely for the pleasure of ticking it off.

If the day planner is where my organised, adult self lives, the notebook is for my inner two-year-old. It is full of ideas and doodles and little imaginary maps, interspersed with notes on my current project. The handwriting is nowhere near as neat in this one. It has pictures and ticket stubs and receipts tucked into the pages. Eventually it gets so fat and full that it explodes, and then it goes to live in a drawer with its other deceased relatives, and I buy a new one. I find these notebooks immensely satisfying as well.

I sometimes wonder what my notebook and my day planner say to each other when they're alone in my handbag. The day planner probably thinks the notebook is immature and frivolous, and the notebook probably thinks the day planner is stodgy and dull. They don't have much in common. I like to think that they realise they need each other, though, and are friends.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Tattoo Removal

tattoo removal
By Bart Clive

In the old days tattoos were permanent and if you wanted to get rid of it you could either have it changed to look like something else or learn to live with that decision made under the influence of tequila shots, Jell-O shooters or that hot two week love affair. These days you have a few choices to make on what method to be used to get rid of that tat. Every tattoo has unique characteristics so removal techniques must be tailored to suit each individual case.

Professionally inked tattoos usually penetrate the deeper layers of the skin at more uniform depths. This allows methods that remove broader areas of inked skin at the same depth. Amateurs cannot duplicate the uniformity of depth so homemade tattoos are usually applied at more varying depths making removal more difficult. If you have decided that for some reason, you just gotta get rid of that body art, the choices are:

1. Laser Surgery

2. Intense Pulsed Light

3. Dermabrasion

4. Surgical Excision

5. Salabrasion

6. Removal Creams

7. Cover-up

Laser Surgery

The use of lasers is currently considered the most effective non invasive, bloodless removal alternative. A high-intensity laser beam is targeted on the imbedded ink by a surgeon where he directs high intensity pulses to break up the pigment. The laser is applied with micro-second lasting pulses and it takes about 200 pulses for a small tattoo. The laser energy causes the tattoo pigment to vaporize into smaller particles that are then removed by the body's immune system. Laser surgery is relatively low risk, pain free and effective with the least side effects. Multiple treatments are normally required. Expect to experience minor pain similar to the original tattooing experience. The lasers high energy vaporizing the ink under your skin will cause sensations similar to specs of hot grease. It usually takes more than one treatment which only takes a few minutes.

Intense Pulsed Light

Pulsed Light Therapy is the most recent development in tattoo removal. This method uses high intensity light instead of lasers' to vaporize the ink. After applying a gel a wand is aimed at the tattoo that emits high intensity light pulses. One the plus side this method is less painful and more effective but is much more expensive than laser removal.


Basically dermabrasion consist of freezing the removal area of skin and the top layers are sanded off to remove the inked area. This is done with a high speed rotary sanding type device. You will need at least a local or some other type of anesthetic, hey; you are getting your skin sanded off! There will also be some bleeding and a dressing will need to be applied. After the affected area heals the scarring will depend on an individuals own body and what the location on your body the tattoo was on.

Surgical Excision

This removal method is nothing more than having a dermatologic surgeon use a scalpel to remove the inked skin and closing up the wound with stitches. This is ok for small tattoos on certain parts of the body. It is even possible to remove larger areas and graft skin from other parts of the body. Again you will need an anesthetic to numb the area but scaring will be limited to the sutured area and is usually minimal. This method results in the most complete and immediate removal of tattoo ink.


This is the oldest and crudest tattoo removal technique. I has been used for a few hundred years and is still occasionally used today. Local anesthetic consisting of tap water dipped in table salt is applied on the tattooed area. An abrading device like the one used with dermabrasion, or an even something simpler like a wooden block wrapped with gauze, is used to scrape the area. After the tattooed area gets deep red, it is covered up with bandages to heal. This is the preferred method selected by the biggest and baddest biker dudes and those lucky few who can drive nails through their hands and not feel it. If you are seeking a professional for a tattoo removal and he mentions the word Salabration, see how fast you can find the nearest exit and hope he hasn't already locked the doors.

Tattoo removal creams

Removal creams have varying degrees of success much of which is dependent on the individual tattoo characteristics, depth of ink, type of ink and individuals body chemistry. Before spending a large amount of money for surgery you may want to try a removal cream if you can accept fading as opposed to complete removal.


So you changed your mind and for some reason you just do not like your latest tattoo but don't necessarily want to get rid of it but just change it to something else. A tattoo cover-up job can be much less painful and cheaper alternative to removal. You just gotta find a skilled tattoo artist who can help you redesign the image into something you like and have him do the modifications. It is amazing what a talented artist can do to completely change a tattoo. Just make sure that you find an artist that is experienced in doing this and ask to see pictures of some of his modification jobs.

It doesn't matter what removal method you use there will be some type of scaring or color variations. The most important thing is to consult with a physician that specializes or has extensive experience in removing tattoos. Good luck and remember that the best way to avoid these removal methods is to be very careful and selective when deciding to get that tattoo in the first place.
source : foot-tattoo
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