Thursday, 31 March 2011

Books Read in March

This month I am reading about 6 books at the same time, including one which is over 1000 pages long, so that explains why I haven't finished any more books since the 21st. Just a quick list this time. Too tired to go into detail about the books. But they were all fabulous, and I enjoyed them all.
  1. Lark Rise - Flora Thompson - 01/03
  2. Over to Candleford - Flora Thompson - 04/03
  3. Candleford Green - Flora Thompson - 09/03
  4. Strengths Finder 2.0 - Tom Rath - 12/03
  5. Discovering Your Personality Type - Don Ruso&Russ Hudson - 17/03
  6. Promises in Death - J. D. Robb - 19/03
  7. Prince of Chaos - Roger Zelazny - 21/03

Monday, 28 March 2011

Book Meme

I got this meme from Nofretiri, and since it's all about books, I simply could not resist. Feel free to take it for your all blog. 

1. Hardback, trade paperback or mass market paperback?
I have no problems with any of the format, but overall, I think trade paperback. It has the quality of a hard-back, but is still lighter and easier to handle. Mind you, I think nothing of carrying around a 1000 page book with me on daily commute, so I am really not fussed much even if it is hardback. Like them all. 

2. Barnes & Noble or Borders?
Overall - definitely Barns and Noble. But in UK, there is no Barns and Noble, so between UK shops of Waterstones and W.H. Smith against Borders - Borders was definitely better (I am also biased because Borders has Starbucks, whereas Waterstones and W.H. Smith have Costa Coffee). But now Borders have closed / are closing, so left with Waterstones. 

3. Bookmarks or dog-ear?
Dog-ears? You should be punished for crime against books. Besides, what am I going to do with my huge collection of bookmarks if I dog-ear my books?

4. Amazon or brick-and-mortar?
Both. And Book Depository which I now use more than Amazon

5. Alphabetize by author, by title or randomize?
If/When I have the library room I dream of, with floor to ceiling shelves, it will be perfectly organised, by genre, and within each genre, alphabetized by author, and within each author in the order of the series where applicable, or if not series, then alphabetized by their book titles or chronological by published date. (but I haven't really thought about this much yet).

In current situation, I have a system...but only I understand it, so can't possibly explain it. 

6. Keep, throw away or sell?
Keep. Keep. Keep. 

7. Keep dust jacket or remove it?
If the book came with it, keep it. 

8. Short story or novel?

9. Harry Potter or Lemony Snicket?
I have no idea what Lemony Snicket is, so Harry Potter

10. Stop reading when tired or at chapter breaks?
Stop reading when I absolutely have to walk inside the day-job, or when I absolutely have to stop due to reasons like must go to bed (which actually happens long after I should already have been in bed)

11. "It was a dark and stormy night" or "Once upon a time"?

12. Buy or borrow?
Buy. I do not lend, and therefore I do not borrow. Except from Library, because I have to do my bit to support the libraries. 

13. Buying choice: book reviews, recommendations or browse?
Browsing comes on top. Book reviews and recommendations - I would consider them, but final decision is based on my opinion / feeling alone. 

14. Tidy ending or cliffhanger?
Tidy endings. Even if it's a series, there is no excuse not to have at least reasonably tidy ending for that particular book. When I read a book, I want to feel by the end that I have made a journey. I do not want to feel that the damn bus broke down and I am in the middle of nowhere. 

15. Morning, afternoon or nighttime reading?
All time reading

16. Stand alone or series?
Both. It's the stories that matter. 

17. Favorite series?
Blood Jewels Trilogy - Anne Bishop
Harry Potter - J. K. Rowling
In Death - J. D. Robb
His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
Artemis Fowl - Eoin Colfer 
Kushiel's Trilogy - Jacqueline Carey

I am sure there are plenty of others that I cannot remember at the moment. 

18. Favorite children’s book?
Harry Potter series

19. Favorite YA book?
Artemis Fowl

20. Favorite book of which no one else has heard of?
Proust was a Neuroscientist - Jonah Lehrer (non-fiction)

21. Favorite books read last year?

22. Favorite books of all time?
Too many to count.

23. What are you reading right now?
Christopher Isherwood Diaries Volume 1

24. What are you reading next?
Not sure. Too many options at the moment. 

25. Favorite book to recommend to an 11-year-old?
Harry Potter series. Artemis Fowl series. 

26. Favorite book to re-read?
Jane Austen books, particular Persuasion and Pride and Prejudice. Harry Potter series. Blood Jewels Trilogy by Anne Bishop. Virginia Woolf's writer's diary. Anne Frank's diary. The Book Thief. In Death series by J. D. Robb.... I could go on and on and on

27. Do you ever smell books?
Absolutely!! Especially if a huge box of books arrives. 

28. Do you ever read primary source documents, like letters or diaries?
Yes. I love them, especially diaries. Currently reading Christopher Isherwood Diaries Volume 1. It's over 1000 pages long, and I am so fascinated. Another book I have got going on the side is 800 years of Women's Letters - collection of letters from women throughout time from all different backgrounds on different topics. Anne Frank's diary is a must of course.

Friday, 25 March 2011

All About Editing - Adam Slade

Do you love editing, or hate it, or somewhere in the middle?
Somewhere in the middle. I like the thought that I'm improving my work, but I find it can get tedious fast. By the end of a project, I often find myself sick and tired of working with it. The more I edit though, the longer I can stave off the hatred. ;-)

Do you edit as you go? Or do you start only after the first draft?
I make a point of not editing a single word until the first draft is complete, otherwise I'd never make it to the end. Without the separation of writing and editing, I can't fully concentrate on either, and it takes me forever and a day to get anything down. I admire those who can, but I ain't one of 'em.

Do you have a definite method for editing? If so, would you like to share something from it?
I wouldn't say if was definitive, as I'm always on the lookout for other, better ways, but I do tend to stick to the same routine now. After finishing the first draft, I'll leave it alone for at least a week (ideally more), so as to gain some distance from it. Then I'll read it through without making any edits/notes, so as to get a good idea of the direction and flow of the story. Next is the editing. Rather than doing a pass for spelling, one for grammar, one for flow, etc., I try and grab them all together.

Any tips you've learned from your experience?
Read the piece before you begin to edit, and don't stop writing, as it's a bugger to start up again after (for me at least).

Anything else you would like to add - pet peeves, things that make you want to pull your hair out (editing related), joys and wonders of the process?
I am the king of repeating myself. I've lost count of the number of times I've had to slash out sentences that repeat the information of the previous sentence. Many are the repetitive sentence I've been required to cull! :-)

The result of a caveman breeding with an ingot of un-distilled sarcasm, Adam Slade was always going to go places. Some days he even makes it as far as the kitchen. Adam is an author of fantasy and humour works, and when he's not writing, he's reading or goofing off on the internet. You can read about his exploits on his blog, Editing Hat, and on his Twitter.

Monday, 21 March 2011

WIP 2 - Progress & Notes on Method Change

For some reason, this book is certainly working better when I hand write. Perhaps it is because this is definitely more organic, since I don't have an outline. I know vaguely the main points that are supposed to happen, but I don't know any details. So in a way, it's brainstorming as I write, and brainstorming certainly works better for me, handwriting. 

So I have given in, and I am going to write rest of the draft by hand, and not bother to type it up until it's all done. So hopefully, the eventual type up will be a basic edit in itself.

To keep track of word count, I am estimating an average of 100 words per page, since I am using an A5 reporter's pa,d which is easy to use everywhere. As much as I am tempted to use some of my nicer A4 notebooks, the whole point is to keep this flexible, and easy to use anywhere, any time, and have it with me always. So plain notepads it is. 

So far, experiment going well. I am actually really keen to finish the first draft of this, because I am simply bubbling to write new stories. Might even hold off until I finish this one, if I have enough discipline. Though perhaps, writing a new book, could be a reward for sticking to goals for this book? One stone - two birds??? Hmm...I am going to go ponder over that. 

How are things going with your WIPs?

Friday, 18 March 2011

All About Editing - Nik Perring

Do you love editing, or hate it, or somewhere in the middle?
Good question, Dolly. It’s such a massive part of the writing process that I don’t think I could still be a writer and hate it. It just wouldn't work. For me, editing is all about making the story better, and that has to be a good thing. What I do hate (and I don’t mind admitting it!) is when, no matter how much editing I do, I can’t make a story work – that’s frustrating. (But again, writing things that aren't any good are a part of the process too…)

Do you edit as you go? Or do you start only after the first draft?
After the first draft, usually. All my first drafts are written in notebooks so editing those as I went would be messy and difficult (crossing out rubbish words/sentences/paragraphs/pages aside) . The editing starts when that handwritten draft is typed up – typing it up gives me a half-edit as I’ll change things as I type.

Do you have a definite method for editing? If so, would you like to share something from it?
While my writing method is quite rigid and works for me, I’m always wary of telling people what they should do; writing is such a personal thing and I think that people should find what works best for them.

But for me…

1.       Write the story longhand.
2.       Type it up (editing as I go).
3.       Print it out and edit on the page.
4.       Repeat until I’m happy it can’t be improved on.
5.       Read aloud, and edit that.
6.       Record what I’ve read and listen to it back, again, editing as I go.

Any tips you've learned from your experience?
As I say, I think people have got to find what works the best for them.
Editing though, is a huge part of the writing process – you’ll, unless you’re very, very good, spend more time tweaking and rewriting than you will actually getting that first draft down. And there’s so much to watch out for. The story has to be good and well told, the dialogue and characters believable, and the spelling and grammar and punctuation correct – but there’s also the rhythm of the sentences and words that needs to be right – never under estimate the power a comma can have to change something.

Anything else you would like to add - pet peeves, things that make you want to pull your hair out (editing related), joys and wonders of the process?
I think the joy of editing comes when you turn something good into something great. That’s where the magic is and where the real satisfaction lies.

The trick with editing, I find, is to be thorough. And in order to be thorough I think it’s important to take your time. The aim should be to make the story as good as it can be, and not to work to a deadline. There’s no point in rushing, and no need to either.

I guess my pet peeve would be (and this is wearing my teacher’s and editor’s hat) seeing a story I know that can be great but the author has been too keen to say that they’ve finished it. While it’s true you can edit something too much, I think a good chunk of people don’t do quite enough. I suppose then, the real trick with editing is keeping at it even when you don’t want to. That, and knowing when you’ve done enough!


Nik Perring is a writer, teacher of writing, and editor from the UK. His short stories have been published widely in places including SmokeLong Quarterly, 3 :AM and Word Riot. They’ve also been read at events and on radio, printed on fliers and used as part of a high school distance learning course in the US.

Nik’s collection of short stories, NOT SO PERFECT is published by Roast Books and is out now. Nik blogs here ( and his website’s here ( He offers short story help here

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

WIP 2 - 10K Mark

Small steps certainly do add up. Since starting WIP 2 on March 1st, I have kept up with daily goals, and so now the book has reached 10K mark, which I am very happy about. If I stick to my word count, then by end of March, I should reach 20K. Well, my goal is 19500, but I will try for 20K anyway. 

While I have been writing this WIP, I have incredible urge to do a hand-written first draft. The main reason is because this is a half-and-half. I am writing whatever I can during my commute in the morning on a notepad, then I type it up. It seems bit of a waste of time, because I am not editing at this point, simply auto-typing the words. But I feel that since I have already got this WIP going on computer, I don't want to stop typing up. 

However, I might try writing a next WIP first draft only by hand, and see how that works out. I have never done that. It's always been bit of a mix and match. 

Anyway, so at this rate, I am hoping to get first draft finished by end of July. 

How are your WIPs coming along?

Monday, 14 March 2011

New Guest Post Series Coming Up

Since I am in the middle of editing, it is natural that editing is in forefront of mind. I like to read about it. I like to talk about it. And on good days, I like to do it as well.
So I am going to have some wonderful guest bloggers here - all published writers from different backgrounds, which includes fiction, non-fiction, freelance, poetry etc. - to talk about their editing methods, or their editing loves and hates.

The series is titled: All About Editing

First post, coming up this Friday 

I hope you will find it informative and entertaining.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Writing Vs. Typing (Paper Vs. Computer)

When I decided to start writing the first draft of my new WIP, I had an interesting experience. I opened a new file in MS WORD. I typed: Chapter 1.

Then I sat there.

I look at the screen. Hovered my fingers above the keys. I knew what was supposed to happen in that scene. But I didn't know how to start. Yet, I couldn't bring myself to type anything. If I type something that doesn't seem like the right beginning, the words would be on the screen, staring at me, yelling to be deleted and replaced. So I gave it a few minutes. Then shut the file down, opened up a notepard, and started with - Chapter 1.

This time, there was no hesitation. If something didn't feel right, crossing it out with a pen, and moving on, seemed much easier and much less stressful than the wide screen glaring at me.

Once the words were there, I could type rest of the words directly on the computer.

But that led me to think about all the other times. Sometimes, I am clearly affected by my mood. Words would flow on paper, but they would not flow on screen. And at other times, they would flow on the screen, but not on paper.

However, when it comes to brainstorm or writing without thinking or especially new beginning, I definitely prefer to write on paper. It is strange, I agree. It is much much easier to delete words on computer than to cross out or throw away pieces of paper. Yet for me, writing on paper (regular notepads, not nice journals) gives me the freedom to treat it as a first draft, or a rough draft, or brainstorm.

For this particular novel, I am sometimes writing straight onto computers, but at other times on a notepad, and then transferring things later. The practice, while takes more time, is handy because that means I can sometimes get part of the writing done during my commute if I feel like it, and make some progress towards my daily goal. And again, it's about freedom. Even though I have a netbook, I would feel pretty silly opening it and writing 200 words and that's it. Whereas on a notepad, I can write a paragraph or two, close it, and still feel good about the progress.

What about you? Are you on one extreme between the choices of paper or computer? Are you completely flexible? Or bit random like me?

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

WIPs Update

WIP 2 

Word count has reached 5K+ mark, so that's progress. I am happy to say that I have stuck to my daily goals - 500 words on weekdays, and 1000 words on Saturday and Sunday. Quite low, but realistic word count for my otherwise full schedule. 

Currently I am at the beginning of the book, and for these initial scenes I did have some outline of what's supposed to happen, so real challenge will begin when I go further into the novel, and haven't managed to work out the nitty-gritties. 


Editing continues. I do need to spend much more time on this. I make a point of doing at least a little bit everyday, but it certainly needs much more intense sessions. Hoping to make that happen over the coming weekend. What I have found is that I have good times and bad times. Some times I really get into editing, and then I enjoy it, and take pleasure in going over every line and improving it. At other times, I get too impatient and just make superfluous changes - not a very good thing, since I know I have to go over it again. 

But over all, productivity continues so that's the main thing. 

How are things going with your WIPS? 

Monday, 7 March 2011

Why We Write


What Keeps You Going?

It’s funny being a part-time writer. It’s a dream. A step above hobby. A future career. But currently, it’s something that doesn’t pay the bills, only takes the time and effort. Lots and lots of effort.

If you are a paid writer, it’s your job. You know you have to write, or you may not have food on the table next month. But when you are not a paid writer, and the dream seems quite a long way away, weeks and months pass by, and the sense of urgency sometimes flails.

So what do you do to keep going?

It is the question I asked myself last week. I don’t believe in writer’s block. At least it’s never been the case for me. I don’t run out of ideas. Yet, recently I did have few weeks when I did barely any work on my editing. It could be for a number of reasons – reasons for not doing it are not important. What’s important is to remember why we do it. A few weeks away reminded me that the story did not get out of my head; my characters remained as close to me as ever, and as I found joy reading books written by others, it reminded me that it was what I wanted to achieve with my own book.

Writing is not about hobby, or about a career. It is something that brings out my wildest imagination and my most rational thoughts; it brings out my dreams and my nightmares; it brings out who I wish I was and who I never want to be. It is a tool that can create and destroy worlds….and when one wants to do a job as powerful and as amazing as this, hardships and trials are to be expected, because the end result would be all the more sweeter for all the hard work.

So I keep going because I am a writer. It is not what I do. It is what I am.

What about you?

Friday, 4 March 2011

The Perfect Outline Trap & A New WIP

I have been going on about how much I like a proper outline, and what wonders it has done for my no holes WIP that I am currently editing. I still hold to that. But I have also discovered a pit-fall, from rather painful, time wasting experience.

For several months now, I have been working on an outline. Granted, I worked on more than one WIP, deciding which one to work on. But it was taking longer than I had anticipated, because what I wanted was a completely detailed outline. I know the beginnings, I vaguely know the endings, but I don't know everything that would happen in the middle, and how it would all be tied together. I was hoping to sort that out in the outline.

I was aware that while I was doing this, of course I wasn't writing. I told myself, that's okay. I need to spend some time on the outline, so story will be better for it from the beginning. So I carried on. But after two months, and not much to show for it, I see how much time I have wasted. Two months of not writing new words - that's not exactly an ideal writer, is it? At least, it is not for me.

So the wake-up call came, as it often does with me, abruptly. The thoughts usually marinate, niggle in my head for a while, and then one day - BOOM! I realise what the hell I have been doing. And need to do something about it.

I made the decision to start writing. Now. Start with whatever fragmented plans I have, and work on it as I go. Even if it means writing a Draft Zero, doing an Outline, and then rewriting it. It doesn't matter. What is important is writing, because only by writing, I can discover and improve on my processes. Theories are all very well, but without application, I cannot know what I have learned.

So I started my new Fantasy WIP on the 1st of March. (See the word-counter to the right) It's going to be a part of my March Writing Challenge. And I look forward to discovering what this process teaches me. But now that I have started writing, the thrill of discovering what happens is back, and I am kicking myself for waiting so long to start a story!

What about you? Do you spend months and months without new words, or are you always writing something? Does editing, planning, etc. take over creating new stories?

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

March Writing Challenge

In honour of my new WIP, to get things moving, I am doing a March Writing Challenge. As I am editing a book, as well as doing other stuff (life happens), I have decided on what I believe are realistic goals for me.

500 words every day from Monday to Friday
1000 words on Saturday and Sunday

I started this on 1st of March, so if I stick to it (and of course I shall), by 31st of March I will be at least 19500 words into my new WIP.

This challenge is also a part of working for a more balanced approach in life, as I generally tend to go in frezny over one goal and end up neglecting all the other goals. This is a normal pace that *could* be sustained along with all the other things I need to do.

I will more than likely carry this challenge over in other months as well, but for now starting with March.

Feel free to join me, and if you are not participating in this exact challenge, do you have regular writing goals? Are you a word-counter or page counter, or scene counter? Wordcount goals work for me, so I am sticking to them.

Happy Writing!