Monday, 29 March 2010

Spring in the air

It's officially spring here in the UK, the clock's gone back, the days seem longer, the birds are singing, the sun is shining... or maybe not, it's actually still freezing and has been raining the entire day, but that doesn't mean I can't do the annual spring clean of cobwebs from my head.

My goals this summer:
Start exerising again. I kind of gave this up when my boys were born, and I'm ashamed to say they're now 10 years old. Bad me. But I'm going to start a slow come back on the wii, thinking yoga will be perfect to tone and get my fitness levels up a bit before I start the serious stuff.
Put fingers to keyboard. I haven't done much serious writing this winter. I've played around with starting the odd story here and there, but it's time to get on the wagon again. So I've pulled out the 3 chapters of a historical romance I started a while back. The characters are still fresh in my head, the story line fully plotted, just loads of research still to do, although I tend to do the research while I write rather than upfront. I've also got a contemporary paranormal that's 1/3 done, so the ultimate would be to finish that story as well before the next snow falls.

In other news, there's a lot of buzz about the ipad coming next week and Apple's iStore. You can catch a preview of the iStore here.

Is iPad going to be the turning point for digital books? I'm not so sure. I think the turning point is going to be financial... when you can get an affordable e-reader and are paying reasonable prices for ebooks. The traditional publishers hanging onto the hard cover prices for new releases are really putting a spoke in the wheels. I understand why they're doing this. It's business and profit. They've been slow on the uptake and now need time to play catchup.

My biggest gripe as a reader is regional release dates. We're living in a global world! Please stop making me wait because new ebook releases are still being tied in to the logistical restrictions of printed books.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

That good ol' query letter

If you're a writer and you aspire to being published, at some point you're going to have to master that query letter. There's been a lot of blogs this week on do's and don't's and lists of what agents/editors have seen come through their in box - every bit of information is fairy dust to those of us trying to catch someone's eye to take a look at our masterpiece.
My bit of fairy dust this week was Nathan Bransford's post of specificity - check this out, not only if you need a good giggle (he has the best sense of humour) but because there's often conflicting advice out there that can spin us in circles. I've read a lot of recommendations that you're query should read a little like a blurb, BUT in a true blurb you don't want to give anything away. In a query, however, you don't want to make the agent/editor work at guessing what your real hook is. Not easy getting the balance right, which is what makes those query letters so much fun - or not!

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

So... You think you can draw a map

No problem, I thought.
Having finished my edits on Betrayed, I rushed home from work Friday night, eager to get started on the map.
"Just give me an hour quiet time," I told my boys, "mommy just needs to draw a quick map."
Well, five hours later, and I'm still googling the National Scotland Archives, going through ancient maps to try and get my spatial dimensions more or less right.
A hundred pieces of scrap paper later on Saturday morning, I have some squiggles resembling the general area.
Great! Time to back a cake - Victoria Sponge cake - oh, oh, I used a flop-proof recipe and ended up with rock pancake. No time to worry about that, something's wrong with my scanner.
A couple of hours playing around with the settings later, I've got something scanned in. Something blurry and squiggly - I have no idea what it is, it certainly didn't look like that on my scrap of paper. Back to the drawing board, but first another attempt at that flop-proof cake.
Note to self: no matter how you present it, rock pancake is rock pancake and 10 year old boys are not that easily fooled.
But, viola, it's Sunday and I eventually have a scanned in map. I try to ignore comments from kids (what do they know about what medieval Scotland looked like? Maybe the river did just disappear halfway and miraculously reappear 2 centimetres later?) okay, one last attempt at refining the map, scanning it in,emailing it off with a totally genuine "I won't be offended if you can't use this" note to editor.
And rush off to Tesco to buy box cake mix - I have a cake, the kids love it, I'm super mom!

Despite the madness, I had fun. It wasn't easy, I'm not so sure it will ever see publishing daylight. But I now truly appreciate every map I see on the inside of a book cover

Thursday, 4 March 2010

New Website

So, I know I'm supposed to be head down in revisions, but I've been tinkering with my website and have a brand new look. Please stop by at Claire Robyns and check it out.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Revision Week

I've got my editorial revisions for Betrayed, so the next two weeks it's head down. First I have to figure out the technicalities of using word tracker, which might just gobble up most of those two weeks.

And, ooh, my editor has suggested I create a map of the Galloway and Dumfries area where Betrayed is set. Well, I could spend a fun two weeks just doing that. When I started writing Betrayed, I spent an awful lot of time browsing through medieval maps of Scotland and it was absolutely amazing to see how maps were defined in those times. Some are quite detailed, while others merely have a few squibbles and lines. I guess my map will be closer to the latter, but will hopefully give a good idea of where my characters have been.