Patience, Grace!

My book is now in the hands of my alpha-reader. The lucky victim candidate is my other half, the one who has been with me since I actually knuckled down in 2012 and started writing the book.

Now, I don’t know how other writers choose their alphas and betas and I expect they all have different groups of people in which they can implicitly trust their precious manuscripts. I’m going with the “less is more” approach. One alpha and maybe 2-3 betas as I’m worried that too many opinions may muddy the next stage and I really don’t want to get into another round of edits that maybe wholly unnecessary.

I find myself, however, badgering my beleaguered partner to tell me where he is in the story, what chapter, who does he like, is he enjoying it? I think perhaps, I maybe ruining the experience for him somewhat!

It’s exciting though; having someone actually read a book that I have written. Even up to the point when I finished it, I don’t think I ever told him what it was about. I don’t tell anyone, it’s always been a closely guarded secret. I think I’m paranoid that someone might steal the idea from me 🙂

One good thing about my alpha is that he’s not really into fantasy fiction. His taste tends to lean towards auto-biographies and the odd thriller however, he has read a few books from my collection and as 95% of my books are all fantasy he’s read Marie Lu, Patrick Ness and James Dashner who have all written fantastic novels. I’m hoping these will have given him a good grounding in fantasy works from world building to characterisation.

Whilst all this is going on, I have started on my second book which is another fantasy story but is not the sequel to Horizon Skies, and I am now collating information on agents in the UK to approach with queries/submissions. I read a very useful guide written by Patrick Ness in which he provides some very useful guidance on how to find an agent. So, I have bought my copy of the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook 2018, highlighted agents in orange for my first choice, green for my second. The reason for the second choice? The entries are not always clear as to which genres/authors these agents represent so will take a little more research.

At present, I have 35 first choice and 48 second choice. A grand total of 83. That’s a lot of agents but I have to face up to the fact that writing is a highly competitive business, and I could end up rejected by everyone I approach. I have to be pragmatic. Every agent works differently. They have different guidelines for submissions and queries. Agents will be looking for something specific, something about the manuscript that stands out against all the others. Above all, my research so far tells me, they appreciate a writer taking the time to follow the guidelines correctly, are professional and do not badger them for a response.

I’m still excited at the prospect of getting published even if I don’t succeed via the traditional route, self publishing has paved the way for so many authors and I know that, one way, or another, my book will be out there in the future.

New Year’s Resolutions…..yeah, right..

Sorry, I just don’t believe in making promises to myself for a New Year that I will probably fail within the first few weeks. I believe that you should maintain your goals for as long as it takes to achieve them, whether that be five months or five years.

Horizon Skies took me five years to complete. That was because I had to fit it in around my very busy day job, three house moves, amdram and the day-to-day business of life. If I had stuck to every New Year’s Resolution in that five years I might have finished the book sooner and got it out quicker but I don’t currently have the luxury of being able to call writing my day job. That is something I am steadily working towards and each year does bring me a little closer.

My boyfriend is now reading my completed manuscript, he’s only two chapters in but has already said that it comes across as a compelling story so the hook has worked; the prologue and the first chapter have got him interested in reading more and that is only a good thing.

I have already plotted the sequel and another standalone book which I have made a start on so 2018 should represent exciting times for me.

There are other goals though that I do think deserve better attention than I’ve been inclined to provide in the past.

Eat healthy, exercise more and less alcohol are achievable. I have massively indulged myself over the last couple of weeks and one thing I have noticed as I head to my mid-40s is that aches and pains are a little more frequent, the body a little stiffer in the mornings. Not good.

I still feel very young in my mind and spirit but if I don’t take care of the vessel that contains my very being I will end up a withered old lady. So, it’s back to the Yoga and the Walk At Home programme which I really enjoyed.

I am quite lazy by nature, it takes a lot for me to get motivated and earlier in 2017 I was experiencing a weird heart condition which was diagnosed as an ectopic heartbeat. My doctor said it was a wake up call to manage my stress better and not to overdo the exercise (I was working out every single day) so I went the other way and stopped altogether. My heart is doing better, I don’t feel the skipped beat anymore but I do still experience palpitations, these go back to the stress I was under at my previous job and they haven’t gone away. It’s another reason why I want to get out of the rat race and make a living as a writer. Work under my own steam, doing something I truly love and enjoy.

Completing Horizon Skies was all the motivation I needed to write more. When I wrote the final words, I knew then that I could do it, write a book, see it through to the end and if I can write one book then, I can surely write another.

The over indulgence of Christmas and New Year has left my body feeling tender and quite battered. The alcohol has given me some very weird and vivid dreams, the rich food made me sluggish and heavy. That’s the motivation I need to take better care of myself (my heart being the most important aspect). So, I’m looking forward to going on a nice little walk, getting some fresh air into my lungs (as fresh as it can be living near the A1!) and just getting myself moving.

So, whatever it is that motivates you, make that your goal, not a resolution. Most people fail at their resolutions before the end of January (new diet, stopping smoking etc.) so just keep your goal in mind and whether you achieve it this or next year doesn’t matter. The journey matters more than the destination.