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Goals for May - and how did April go for you?

Right now, I'm writing this from a little cottage where I'm staying in isolation so that I can then go house-hunting in the UK. We've been living in the Netherlands for nearly six years and are excited to be moving back in summer, but never expected to be doing it while navigating a pandemic! The kids are still in school and my husband doesn't drive, so it made sense for me to do the looking. But it's a very strange feeling! 

There's going to be a lot going on this summer. The Summer Festival of Writing (have you got tickets?), redeveloping the community, moving house and country, hopefully working on book 6 and picking back up with my non-fiction project that's so far, sadly, not found a home. 

But for now, I spent most of April working on my book 6 proposal (still!) and I'm hoping this is the version that I can start to do a sample for. Each iteration gets better but I'm not used to having to do such a big detailed outline for approval before starting. Hopefully it'll make the writing easier as I've done so much of the thinking now (and the characters are SO well formed in my head, and normally that's what draft one is needed for). But it's weird not having a draft on the go. 

This month coming, I know I will have copy edits for book 5 (whose title we're still working out) and hopefully will be working on my sample for book 6. While I'm stuck by myself missing my kids, I'm also trying to finish the little book I was writing for my youngest son about rival dog groups taking part in a battle of the bands. I actually think it's the best thing I've ever written, and no-one but family will see it 😂 

What about you? What are your goals for May and how did you get on in April? 

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Replies (47)
  • I have been doing a lot of cross referencing, letting it run away with me. The short story RBA will be posted as it comes fresh off the press, but the style will change from time to time, as it is a rendition of a complete book, rather than a stand alone short story, and is completely exploration. In other news, my poodle has been put down, very sad. The young one, a Shepard, took his leg. He was too injured, the vet said it was “ectopic.” Three dogs, down to two, the dog didn’t get a kick. My step father was crying, along with my mother. I think it was an injury, protect thing, of a godlike proportion. He was thirteen.

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    • Very sorry to hear about your dog. 

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      • Me too, I'm so sorry about your losing your dog. Thinking of you both.

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      • April was good for me. I finished book two of my detective series and have sent it to the incredible beta reader who did book one for me. He was so helpful and gave me such good ideas that I have completely rewritten the end of book one, it needed it. I am hoping he will be as helpful for book two. If so I will have two in the series ready to go.

        In May, I’m going to be looking into self publishing as an option. All the tales of literary agents snowed under by submissions and publishers wanting you to write what they like, not what you want to write, have made me wonder about the Big 5. I haven’t made any commitment either way yet but I’m the PPPP (prior planning prevents piss-ups) type, so I am examining all the options.

        Good luck in all your endeavors. I think this is quite a good time for house hunting, certainly our village has several houses for sale. It is a nice village too.

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        • I love that - PPPP - and as someone with a spreadsheet for every occasion, including my house viewings, I'm going to nick that expression! I hope you get some great useful feedback from your beta reader. 

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        • PPPP, is interesting... I completed 50 pages of a book once, and it only reached to the second scene. Convoluted and boring - instead of tasteful and thoughtful. I think the Reps, have big problems. But there is always a hobby, not a craft where everything is, PPPP.

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          • Hi Holly, how exciting a move back to the UK. I hope you find the perfect place for you and your family.

            Looks like we are following the same schedule as I’ve been told that my copy edits have been booked for mid-May. In the meantime I’m doing an edit of book 2 with the goal to send it to my agent in June.
            Other April news - I’ve seen my UK and my US covers. They are very different from one another, and I love them both! Which is good because I was very nervous going through it for the first time.

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            • This is lovely April news! 

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            • Finished my book The Storytellers. Sent my submission package to Laure for a critique. I had sent it at the beginning six months ago and it was like a masterclass in writing. She showed me everything I was doing wrong in terms of plot, filtering etc. But now with her seal of approval I have sent out my three full requests and started querying. It is terrifying and I can hardly deal with the anxiety. I really don't know how you all go through this. I know it's like winning the lottery but I can't help but hope someone loves it enough to take it on. 

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              • Everything's crossed for you, Caron. I'll be so delighted when you get signed, you know that 😘 xx

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                • I'm rooting for you! x

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                  • Congratulations, Caron! And the best of luck! 

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                  • I was recently shortlisted in the WriteMentor summer mentoring competition. Although my mentor chose someone else, she contacted me to say: 

                    "I really loved your story. The main reason I ended up not choosing to work on The Cackleberry Quest was that it's just too good for four months of editing! I really think you should be submitting this far and wide. I am more than happy to send over some names of agents to apply if you would like?"

                    Looks like I'm jumping on the crazy querying train!!

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                    • Thank you, Janet!

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                      • Wow! That's fabulous news, Julie! Many congratulations and well done! How exciting! 👍 👍👍

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                        • Thanks, Jon. Your help was invaluable!

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                        • In terms of writing, April turned out to be a bit of a washout. Only managed to do about 13,000 words. Although cold during April in Norfolk, with frost virtually every night, my mistress has been calling to me. As I've discovered, making mounts for fuel pumps out of 1" by 0.25" steel bar, and then carefully filing bevelled and rounded edges on them, helps build up a sweat, and keeps the cold at bay. One thing leads to another, and the boot is also being retrimmed. Then, it'll be modifying the seat runners for the driver's seat.

                          Whilst focusing on filing the correct angle required for the mounts to fit in the strengthening ribs in the spare wheel well floor has helped me focus on how my plot develops. I know how to avoid the 'and then a miracle occurs' events. Although, after binge-watching on some TV shows recorded last year (Raised by Wolves, Watchmen), I'm beginning to wonder if my plot is actually too sensible, even though it concerns someone interacting with ghosts who've been dead for ninety years. My story doesn't have any androids giving birth to an alien life-form through their mouth, with said life form resembling a monstrous flying eel.

                          The target for May is to complete the story up to where the main protagonist gets dumped in the middle of the Albigensian Crusade, and where he's coerced to become a doctor for catholic troops (mainly patching people up after battles or skirmishes have taken place). The target for June will be to complete the rest of the book (I should have finished the work on the car by then).  

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                          • 13,000 words is fantastic though! 

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                            • My story doesn't have any androids giving birth to an alien life-form through their mouth, with said life form resembling a monstrous flying eel.

                              If you cross contaminate most plotlines, I feel you always end up with that conclusion.

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                            • I admire you -- can't imagine making such a big move during such a challenging time AND creating! Sending good wishes.

                              The edits on my manuscript are complete and I've begun submitting to agents. I'm planning to start something new this week, maybe a short story while I fiddle with a novel outline.

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                              • Oh thank you! It's a strange time to be doing it but then this is a strange year! 

                                Good luck with your submissions, how exciting! 

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                              • April, worked intensively on a hefty marketing brief which included book cover and sent it all off. For May, working with the marketing professional the entire month, refining the imports on my new w-site so it can go up and finishing at least one short story (hopefully 2) which will be in a reader magnet or a perma-fee collection on KDP.

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                                • Exciting, Janet! 

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                                • Wow Holly hats off to you for all that you have on your plate right now! Very best of luck. 

                                  I am cruising to THE END and so excited to be nearly at the point where I can legitimately say . I have big PLANS for the reshaping process and have made copious notes from all the feedback on the UNWC course. 

                                  May/June will hopefully be getting everything into good enough shape for a MSS assessment. 

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                                  • How exciting, the final lap! (Well, the final of this stage, but you know what I mean!) Good luck with it all. 

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                                  • And I thought I was busy with 'other stuff'. Good on you for keeping it all together, Holly. 

                                    I had a good April. Met my goal. Finished editing the first novel in my trilogy. It's now out for one final beta-read...my wife. She's tough. For May, I plan to complete the final edit (#7) for Novel 2. If there's time left over, I'll start edit #7 for Novel 3. I'm giving myself a deadline of Oct. 1 to have the trilogy ready to go. Novel 4 is already in progress. I'm leaning heavily toward self-publishing but I still have a lot of research to do around that approach.

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                                    • Good work, Reidr- my wife is also my toughest critic.  She gives me invaluable feedback.

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                                    • I made some progress in April and submitted an initial draft of a small part of a first chapter and got back some good feedback.  I'm going to continue to work on this second book- or books?- I'm not sure yet.

                                      I'm thinking about a new way to approach this- we'll see where I go.  Maybe by the end of May I hope to have more.

                                      For the time being, I've laid aside a manuscript in which I wrote about my travels in England, Scotland, and Wales.  I plan to come back to it at some point.

                                      I'm afraid June will find me out of pocket- I have knee replacement surgery planned.  Hopefully, I can walk better when that is done.


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                                      • Good luck with the surgery. Once it's done you'll have a great to focus on your writing!

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                                      • April is the struggle with FIRST CHAPTER having written a lot of the MIDDLE chapters, I needed an entrancing chapter to hook the reader and explain why the protagonist flees to London from the countryside. 

                                        Good old Jericho readers quite liked and improved my first chapter.  They were fantastic and I thank them. I took, with pride, my fast-moving 4k first chapter to my writing group who liked the writing -but also, aware of the other chapters said firmly and unanimously - great writing -but WRONG BOOK. Does not belong in my novel.  Shelve that one.

                                        I knew exactly what they meant - in attempting to offer an engaging character with all the reasons for his flight to the city, I had committed the sin of EXCESS BACK STORY. 

                                        So now - Just now, I've finished another 3.8k FIRST CHAPTER (again) which this time does a proper job of dropping my main character in the novel's SETTING, meeting the CHARACTERS and love interest that make up the story, indicating the CHALLENGES my protagonist faces and essentially the TONE and SUBJECT of the book. Hopefully, the reader now knows what sort of journey I'm going to take them on. 

                                        I'm worried it doesn't have enough poke for that wham-bam first 500 words - but I'll see what my trusty group tells me.  So, April? Steep learning curve. Ferocious editing and re-editing. I think May has to be a super splurge of chapters to make more progress with the development and denouement. Persistence is what I'm learning. Am mildly worried that I haven't done masses of planning except for chapter headings and I know the stories, the crisis and the ending, so having it all in my head is all very well but I may come a cropper. I figure if I dash for the first draft - I can do some planning,,plotting and character work on the redraft.  


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                                        • Hi Holly, so thrilled to hear that you are going to be house hunting, I wish you the best of luck with it. I have got used to you on your podcast talking about Amsterdam and all the things which are different to the UK re publishing. Good luck with your book six - I don't know how you manage to do two books at a time with a family, you must be super organised. 

                                          April went pretty well for me. I have been signed up by SpellBound Books, an indie publisher, and I have a contract for my first ever book, which they absolutely love. I think they are going to change it a bit, but not too much. It's due out on ebook and POD in Spring 2022.  Aside from that I am still waiting on the decision from an agent on a Full MS request on book two (which I assumed was the more commercial one, shows what I know!!), and am getting started on book three, which I am enjoying, no real planning just enjoying the characters and situations I am putting them in before I have to edit and get serious. 

                                          I am signed up for SFOW, so looking forward to that again and to the May specials on starting a novel, well timed for me!. 

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                                          • Hi Harry. No it’s not vanity publishing it’s an indie publisher. They had open submissions at the start of the year - I haven’t had to pay anything. 

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                                            • Brilliant. One to know about then. I can't afford 'partnership publishing' or whatever they call it anyway! 😊 

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                                              • Hi Holly, so thrilled to hear that you are going to be house hunting, I wish you the best of luck with it. I have got used to you on your podcast talking about Amsterdam and all the things which are different to the UK re publishing. Good luck with your book six - I don't know how you manage to do two books at a time with a family, you must be super organised. 

                                                April went pretty well for me. I have been signed up by SpellBound Books, an indie publisher, and I have a contract for my first ever book, which they absolutely love. I think they are going to change it a bit, but not too much. It's due out on ebook and POD in Spring 2022.  Aside from that I am still waiting on the decision from an agent on a Full MS request on book two (which I assumed was the more commercial one, shows what I know!!), and am getting started on book three, which I am enjoying, no real planning just enjoying the characters and situations I am putting them in before I have to edit and get serious. 

                                                I am signed up for SFOW, so looking forward to that again and to the May specials on starting a novel, well timed for me!. 

                                                Huge congratulations Jane, that's brilliant news. And good luck with house hunting, Holly.

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                                              • What did I do in April and what will I do in May?  In April I was biting my nails worrying about what sort of feedback I'd get on the manuscript I sent in for appraisal, and in May, I shall be rewriting my story!  Well, not all of it, but big portions.  

                                                The assessment was done by Megan Collins Hatfield and what she's done is remarkable.  I was unable to make out what was wrong with my story. Despite hours of thoughts and re-writes, taking pieces out and adding bits on as well as considering what was said in the webinar 'show don't tell', I couldn't seem to get the story to read right.  I was at sea with all the information I was using and didn't know how to organise it.  Megan has set me straight. She was very positive. There were things she liked (my style, my characters, my descriptions and above all, the main idea behind the novel) but there were lots of things that she didn't  like and which will need remanaging.  I had completely lost the thread of the intrigue because I had too many things going on and this was distracting from the main theme. In my draft, I also made the characters act in ways which were not always logical.  I spun out passages that needed to be shorter or done away with.  Megan has really made me realise these things, opening my eyes to the pitfalls the unexperienced writer can fall into (and that I plunged into, fearlessly !).  Consequently, I'm raring to get back to work and this time, make my novel into something well organised and totally coherent.  And cheers to Jericho Writers for having chosen Megan to do the job.  She did it  brilliantly.  Many, many thanks to all concerned. It certainly wasn't a waste of money.


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                                                • I posted a reply to your remark but I'm not sure I put it in the right place.  I'm still not very used to working my way around the Jericho Writers site.


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                                                  • I found what I wrote yesterday so I've done a copy and paste of it.

                                                    Hi Jane, It was good to know that someone read my remarks on Jericho. So, you're in the same conundrum as I am, wondering what's wrong with your manuscript. In my case, it was mainly the structure. I didn't get to the mid-point soon enough, dragging out the elusive questions asked by the main protagonist and never giving the answers. Megan pointed out that this slowed down the story. She suggested I gave at least one crucial answer at the mid-point, then go on from there to show how this revelation affected the other characters. This is what I am, at present, trying to do. In fact, I wrote this story a long time before I joined Jericho (2020) and knew nothing about mid-points in those days, but I'm doing my best to improve! Megan also said I had too much going on (I used coastal erosion as a backdrop for the erosion of the family cell but it eventually took up too much place becoming practically a subject in its own right). She suggested I leave it as a metaphore rather than give it so much space. This has certainly tightened up the intrigue. But I've still got lots to do and hope I'll manage to make it into a story worthy of publishing. If you can afford it, do get the appraisal done. (I live in France and not being able to fly back to England due to lockdown meant I wasn't spending money on airfare, so I used that). The assessment rewarded me with twenty pages of well-founded remarks, suggestions and help in general which has boosted my enthusiasm. Anyway, keep going with your work and don't give up. It'll pay off in the end.  

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                                                    • Hi Anne, agreed, this site takes a bit of getting used to, I have had lost posts in the past, plus sometimes you hit reply and it does two to three copies!.  Yes I am many saving for a MS assessment. Should be there around the end of June. I have got nowhere with book two. The agent who had it has sent back a two line email saying although "you write well" she doesn't want to take it on. No feedback, nothing, which is disappointing but after listening to the Honest Authors' Podcast (highly recommended) I can't say I'm surprised. Therefore the next step for me is to have someone here look at it, a professional editor. I think after writing something for maybe up to ten years you know it so well you can't see what others can. 20 pages though, that's amazing. I am so looking forward to doing this with mine. I know the beginning is good (agent only read 10 pages and requested full) but it is a complicated book with dual timelines and three POV, so I need help. Many times I feel like giving up, totally but I've got the first book to publication, so I will do it with book two. Meanwhile, I have started on book three. Enjoy your editing - it must fill you with resolve and confidence now, knowing the best way to take it forward. 

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                                                    • Gently popping back in after almost six months of absence... I put writing aside just before Christmas, intending to have a few weeks break and come back refreshed in the new year. Then lockdown 3 and a return to homeschooling duties intervened. Somehow that took all my words and creative energies from me (though my child did fall in love with writing at the same time. Anyway, I’ve recovered my login details for here and have started to make time for writing again. Not sure about goals yet, except to keep popping in and keep writing.

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