Do you need to edit your novel? Would you like a free ebook?

In the next few weeks, I’m planning to release the first edition of How to edit a novel: the proper, actual nuts and bolts of how to plan, do, and finish an edit. The contents of this book are pretty self-explanatory. I wrote it because back when I was first submitting to publishers, I developed a systematic approach to my novel editing, and I was surprised how many writers I encountered who weren’t using one. I’ve used this process to make sure my edits run smoothly, that I know when I’m finished, and that I always make deadline.

Basically, it’s a five-step process to take you from first draft to finished manuscript, converting that big, scary nebulous task into distinct steps. In putting out this first edition (due for release on 29 Feb), I’m looking to give away ten copies to writers, in exchange for an honest review on your platform of choice (purely on honour system). I’ll give them to the first ten writers to email me (charlottenashauthor AT – let me know your format of choice: mobi, epub, pdf).


Sunday Circle #3

This post is again for the Sunday Circle, an initiative of Peter M Ball (see here).

What am I working on this week?

I started my creative writing PhD this week, so I’ve been reading academic papers and planning the first creative piece to explore into that project. I read 13 journal papers, and parts of different books this week, plus mapped a beginning of a novella. Not too bad.

I’ve also been (at night) compiling the scene map for The Paris Wedding. Some parts of it are ok. Others need a heap of work.

I also made some modifications to my Edit your novel, step by step ebook and pushed it off to beta readers.


What’s inspiring me this week?

“Charlotte Incorporated” by Rachael K Jones (via LightSpeed podcast). This story is amazepants. Gave me a serious reality check as to the level of my skill at present.

Zwart’s paper on Michael Crichton’s novels (Zwart HAE. Genomes, gender and the psychodynamics of a scientific crisis: a psychoanalytic reading of Michael Crichton’s genomics novels. New Genetics and Society. 2015;34(1):1-24.). For anyone who’s ever given me crap about him being “lowbrow airport fiction”, get that up ya. Also to the doctor I worked under in my first year as a med student, who told me that Michael Crichton “wasn’t helping anyone” because he took up writing instead of medicine, get that up ya, doublequick.

Also, Latour’s Laboratory Life. I spent time in labs as a research student and as a researcher, and they were filled with personality quirks and very overt humanness that overshadowed the science. I’m not sure how much non-scientists realise that (not that I’m a scientist, but engineers sometimes occupy similar spaces). It’s an interesting theme to draw out of science fiction, but Latour did it as anthropology. I believe he later recanted some of his views, but so far they mesh with my experiences.


What part of my project am I avoiding?

Finishing the scene map for The Paris Wedding. And starting writing on creative work. The story isn’t ready yet, and for once, I am actually going to follow through the research a little further before getting to words.


I finally understand why I still like free-to-air TV

For a long while, I’ve been secretly maintaining a long-term relationship with free-to-air TV, despite the chorus of disdain from just about everyone I know. Most of my friends have Foxtel, Netflix, Stan, Presto, apple TV, or something else like that. They download. They choose and watch, and decry the awfulness of what’s on free-to-air. I tried Stan. I’ve downloaded a bit, when forced to, because my local video stores are gone. But every week, I still prefer flicking on the TV and finding some movie unexpectedly. And I think I finally understand why.

A little context. I started my PhD this week, and among the first papers I read was one about how “suspension of disbelief” works when we read or watch fiction (it’s actually the opposite – we belief by default – disbelief actually needs to be created according to the theory). Within that paper it talked about control over our fiction – that a movie seen in the cinema is different to one watched on DVD because we can more easily control the DVD. Tied to this idea is the one of taking action – more immersion is possible where your ability to act is diminished, because calls to “action” (which make us test the truth of the narrative) actually disrupt our acceptance of the story and therefore, our immersion and pleasure in it.

I’m sure I’m not putting it as cleverly or clearly as the paper, but it makes sense to me why those random finds on free-to-air can give me so much pleasure – I take almost no actions in finding them except turning on the set. That’s a very different experience than the effort of searching and selecting from an on-demand player. So, see, sometimes cognitive neuroscience can justify not moving with the times 😉

(paper is: Holland NN. Spider-Man? Sure! The neuroscience of suspending disbelief. Interdisciplinary Science Reviews. 2008;33(4):312-20.)

Sunday Circle #2

[So, this post is again for the Sunday Circle, an initiative of Peter M Ball (see here)]

What am I working on this week?

During the week I finished the draft of my next women’s fiction novel, The Paris Wedding. Of course, it has lots to fix, but before I can do that I need to read through and make an accurate scene list and time map, so I’m doing that now.

Speaking of which, during the week, I also finished the first draft of a book about my editing process (creatively titled Edit your novel, step-by-step), which is the one I both use and teach. My writing buddy is reading through now, and I’m finishing up the e-book conversion in Jutoh. Hoping for a Valentine’s day release to all the major platforms.

On the spec fic side, the PhD begins tomorrow!! I’m hitting the ground running with reading about the neuroscience of narrative, and ideas for two stories in the world which I’m going to flesh out over the week. One is called The Two Victorias (an intrigue involving the Queen, her daughter, a doctor, an AI and some timetravellers) and the other, Destoryed (a more military flavour one about the future time of the timetravellers, where geoengineering politics have ended in war with Tesla-style energy beam weapons; it’s basically one guy protecting the travelgate).

What’s inspiring me this week?

The historical doco Queen Victoria’s Children. Man, she was a serious piece of work. So great for my narrative purposes. Also, Harlots, Housewives and Heroines. It’s too early for my projects (being 17th century) but still inspiring. I never knew about Aphra Behn (the first professional female writer) – when we’re in London in April, I must go and find her tomb in Westminster.

What part of my project am I avoiding?

The reading and scene mapping of The Paris Wedding. The beginning is where a lot of the fixing needs to happen and reading how bad things currently are there is kinda horrible.

I also am avoiding writing the synopsis for the love story I’m writing after The Paris Wedding, mostly because I can’t think of a good title. But the idea is good, I hope. Hahaha, they’re always good at this stage. I’m starting on these avoidances right now while Master A sleeps, then will continue when I head to write club.

Sunday Circle

So, this post is for the Sunday Circle, an initiative of Peter M Ball (see here) and I’ve decided to not be lazy and post my stuff here before I head to write club today. So …

What am I working on this week?

I’m finishing up the first draft of my next women’s commercial fiction novel (yes, actually finishing the draft). I’m at 77k now, and aiming for 80k. That should be less than two days’ work. Should. I’m aiming for 80k because my usual MO on commercial novels is to write to the word count (90k in this case), then end up adding 10% in the edit (Stephen King and I are in polar opposite universes, it seems). Then I panic because I’m over budget on words, and spend a copyedit stripping little bits here and there to take out 3 or 4k. No more. Last time I wrote under and it worked perfectly when I added missing subplots etc in the edit. So, that’s one thing.

On the spec fic side, I’m about to start my PhD in a little over a week, and so I’m busily doing background reading from the multitude of genres I’m drawing on, and just ruminating in the background in the part of my brain reserved for spec fic.

What’s inspiring me this week?

H G Wells, and also Douglas Adams. I re-read The Time Machine this week, and also a short story by Adams in The Time Traveler’s Almanac (eds. Vandermeer). It’s been years since I last read Adams and I noticed how wonderful his turns of phrase are, in between the comedic bits. Never noticed that before.

What part of my project am I avoiding?

Finishing the commercial novel. I could have probably had it done by now as I was a long way ahead of my planned word-count, but I’m tired. Writing a novel in under 2 months is doable, but fatigue sets in, especially as I realise in the end the things I need to fix, and I dither about whether to write the end with the fixes I envision (not usually a good idea) or just to get to the damn end and fix it later. I’m aiming to get to the damn end by tomorrow.

A cute pooch! … oh, and The Never Never Land go for launch

IMG_2624Book proofs are always an exciting phase, and in my inbox this week appeared cuteness the doggy, standing guard over the proof of forthcoming anthology The Never Never Land. Put together with the tireless efforts of the folks at the Canberra Speculative Fiction Guild, it’s a collection inspired by this country and running into all the deep corners of science fiction, fantasy and horror.

My dark Pilbara-mining-gone-wrong tale The Seven-Forty from Paraburdoo is in there, along with a huge collection of other fabulous stories – see here for contents.

The anthology will be launching at Conflux 11, 5:30pm Sunday, 4th of October in the registration foyer, Novotel Canberra. Get along if you’re going to be at the con.

Focus 2014

I’m immensely honoured that one of my stories has been picked up for the Focus 2014 anthology (FableCroft). I’m more than a little star struck looking at the contents page. “The Ghost of Hephaestus” was such a left of field project for me, and perhaps this is telling me I need to spend a little more time in the left field! Regardless, this is very very cool. Looking forward to seeing the finished collection.