Monday, 18 May 2015

This Blog Is Taking A Short Break

Hi everyone! Just to let you all know my blog is going radio silent for two weeks. I want to focus on Conspiracy of Echoes as  I prepare for that all important querying stage. I'm also researching and editing the second story in my ghost series, and I'm finding it tricky to squeeze in adequate time. Turns out trying to do all that, plus my day job, violin practice and update my blog simultaneously is a tad tricky. Alas, only blogging and internet activity in general can take a break. Oh, and videogames, but sometimes shooting bad guys after a looooong day is the perfect stress reliever.

I will return on May 31st with a soundtrack review, and normal posting will resume June 1st. I've got plenty of great posts lined up, and lots more delicious tea to share.

I'll still be on Twitter :) Send me a message! I'd love to hear from you.

So, until next time! Wishing you all two weeks full of writing success. And tea. One should always enjoy a good cuppa as they work.

I also like to use my tea cup to warn off anyone thinking of talking to me...

Friday, 15 May 2015

What's In My Bag - Drafting Edition

I like to get out and about when I'm drafting. Sometimes the only way to get it done is by hand where someone else is making the tea (or the hot chocolate).

Every book is different. Some don't want to have sections handwritten so I'll take my laptop instead, but if I'm honest, every book I've queried/intended to query had large sections written by hand first. So, with every project making different demands, I have to take all sorts with me.

So, here's what's in my bag when I head out to write:

It occurs to me I have a very busy office space...

1) Notebook This was a birthday gift from my eldest brother, and it has served me very well.

2) Pen Yeah, okay, I get a bit funny about pens, and I decided early on that bronze would go perfectly with the brown leather notebook. I have gone through about ten of these since December 2014...

3) Project book I never used to carry one of these around during the drafting stage, but as I'm creating a series, I have to make notes regarding characterisation or events I may need to go back and sneak into the previous story, or things I need to recall for the second book based on my re-reading of the first.

4) iPod Never leave home without it. Seriously. Might forget my headphones sometimes, but the iPod always makes it out of the house.

5) Smart Phone You never know when you're going to need to look something up or find some extra research material. Or, more likely, have a sudden burning urge to Tweet from a coffee shop...

So, what's in your bag when you're drafting?

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Miss Cole's Tea Time - Ceylon from Tin Roof Teas

When I was in the US back in March, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to visit Tin Roof Teas in North Carolina. They have such an amazing range of black teas on offer. I'm always so spoilt for choice when I go.

You'll find them in Cameron Village, just outside the centre of Raleigh, NC

I picked up a few old favourites and some new teas to try. Today's offering is one of their best Ceylon teas. I chose it because is had such a good aroma. Yes, just like coffee, teas have great smells, too. Next time you're not sure what blend to try, sniff it! This is a delicious tea, with a mellow taste that has just a tint of sharpness towards the end of each mouthful. I like it! Good for focus when one has a lot of editing to do.

You do have to be careful with the tea-to-milk ratio when you're drinking a Ceylon as it's very easy to over do the milk and drown out the taste, especially if you're used to stronger breakfast and Assam blends. To balance that out, brew the leaves for longer. Although, try not to over-brew, otherwise that mellow taste will become unpleasantly bitter, like all over-steeped teas.

Do you have a favourite editing tea?

Monday, 11 May 2015

Preparing For A Third Round Of Querying

Oh yes, it is nearly that time again. The new book will soon be ready, the query letter and the synopsis are coming together, and my spreadsheet of agents is filling up.

Ghost!Story, or Conspiracy of Echoes as it is better known, will soon be out there for agents to see.

But it's okay! The good thing about querying a third book is I now have two previous projects' worth of experience to fall back on. And, even better, a handful of agents who've requested fulls of my work before and I hope will be interested in something else I have to offer them.

I've got coping strategies in place. I know about the highs and the lows. I love the excitement and thrill of it all. I recognise the time to move on to the next project.

I am ready.

Bring it on. This time, things can only go better.

Friday, 8 May 2015

Deleting Unnecessary Characters

In the first draft of Ghost!Story, I had a character called Tim and a character called Tracy. They were baddies. Well, minions. But my awesome team of beta readers pointed out Tim lacked a backstory and kinda just...existed. None of them seemed so fussed about Tracy, but once I realised Tim needed to go, I figured Tracy was a tad redundant, too.

The thing is, both of them filled roles the story required. Fortunately, I plenty of other characters who could fulfill in their duties. Thus Tim and Tracy faded from existence.

Some books have space for tons upon tons of characters. Personally, I like to keep my cast small. I'm sure somebody out there has worked out the exact page-to-character ratio. When I think about it, I still have a lot of people running around this book, but two less really helped streamline it.

It's not always easy to delete a character and hand over their role to another, but sometimes it's really necessary, especially when you're getting feedback suggesting the character doesn't serve a purpose or lacks development. Less characters means more space to develop the ones you really do need. By deleting Tim, for example, I was able to hand his role over to a far more sinister character and develop that guy further.

Don't be afraid to get rid of characters. Just like the words you overuse, unnecessary characters clutter up the plot. I know it's a lot of work, but chances are it's work well worth doing. And you can always drop the character into your waiting room and see if another story comes along for them to take part in.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Miss Cole's Tea Time - Twining's Kenyan

Tea Time will be moving to Wednesdays for the time being. Consider it your hump day pick-me-up ;) And I've got a great tea to keep you going today.

This is Twinings' lovely Kenyan tea. I'm so glad I finally got around to drinking it in its "neat" form. Kenyan tea is in a lot of breakfast blends as the strong taste is a good get-up-and-go flavour for the morning. Personally, I'd place it between an Assam and a Ceylon in terms of strength. It doesn't have the maltiness of an Assam, but it's not as mellow as your average Ceylon. It's the perfect middle ground and I love it. Great to get me going in the morning, great to pick me up in the afternoon. When I had sinusitis the other week, this tea really kept me writing when all I really wanted to do was curl up in bed. I definitely wouldn't have kept up with Camp NaNoWriMo if I didn't have this delicious tea pepping me up.

Monday, 4 May 2015

A Handful of Great YA Books

(Miss Cole's Tea Time is moving to Wednesdays! See you then for a lovely tea!)

Today, I really wanted to share the love for a number of my favourite YA books of all time. Sometimes I spend so much time on this blog talking about writing, I forget to mention that I also really love reading. Whoops!

So now, in no particular order, here's a selection of the greatest YA out there.

Gone by Michael Grant

Everyone under the age of fifteen becomes trapped in the city by an invisible barrier. Some of them develop super powers. Then hell breaks loose. Gone doesn't shy away from the horror, which is why its such an intense read. It's downright nasty at times, but I can never put it down.

Point Blanc by Anthony Horowitz

This book is falling apart from how much I've re-read it. The book opens with Alex Rider chasing down drug dealers and stopping them with a crane. It just gets better from there.

Double or Die by Charlie Higson

It's a race against time to save a professor from scheming Russians. I LOVE IT! Aside from developing James Bond as a character, the setting of this book is fantastic. You really feel the damp, dreary weather of 1930s London.
Northern Lights by Philip Pullman

Lyra's adventure captures me the same at 29 as it did when I first read it aged 10. I find something new every time. Beautiful, imaginative, and rich beyond belief. I love this story.
172 Hours On The Moon by Johan Haarstad

YA sci-fi at its best. This book will leave you unsettled, and that's what I like from a good sci-fi. Great mystery, engaging characters, and one hell of a twist. If you like sci-fi, you need to give this a read.
The Diviners by Libba Bray

New York City comes alive in this historical novel. Whenever I think of this book, I remember how the descriptions of the city pulled me in. An excellent example of historical fiction written perfectly.
The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

Todd is one of the most ordinary MCs on this whole list, and that's what makes him stand out. He's so believable. He's angry, confused, and he doesn't know what to do. That's what makes him so real.
Tomorrow When The War Began by John Marsden

This series gave me nightmares when I read it as a young teenager. In a nutshell: Australia goes to war and a group of teenagers not rounded up in the initial attack become guerrilla soldiers. It's a story of survival in desperate times.

So, there are just a few of my favourite YA books. Some are old, some are new, all are great. Have you read any?