More from the dragons –

It’s a couple of months since two friends and I published an anthology of prose, poetry and other writing.It’s called The Moving Dragons Write and it’s available on Amazon.

Here is the introduction:

For a couple of years, the three of us,  Lois, John and Richard, have successfully shared our thoughts with the world through our blog; The Moving Dragon Writes is a medley of stories, poems and articles, a whole kaleidoscope of different writing. Our name came from the symbol of the county where we live, the Somerset dragon, and the well-known words ‘the moving finger having writ…’
Since we started The Moving Dragon Writes, we have collected readers and followers from around the world – especially from North America, and we have opened our blog to others. We have supported and encouraged new writers of all genres, promoting and sharing their work too, giving a platform for many people who have never had the confidence or opportunity to do so before. We continue to do this and welcome new writers.
As well as the blog, we have pursued our own writing goals, individually publishing our novels, short stories and poetry. It was at one of our dragonmeets, on a spring afternoon, when it occurred to us… we could publish an anthology together, “our own Dragon Writes book which can include some of the best of our work from the blog!” This anthology is, we hope, only the first, and we are tentatively planning volume II – Earth, Fire, Water.

… and here are our biographies:

Richard – I joined the Royal Navy from school, following this with an engineering career in industry. I studied geology and creative writing with the Open University from 2008 until I graduated with a BSc in July 2014. I found my writing voice during my time with the OU. There was a pause in the Earth Science courses so I filled it with two short writing courses. I was hooked and now find that I have to write, every day and anything. The odd day that I don’t write, I spend thinking about writing, usually out on the hills. I live in Somerset, where I enjoy writing, hill walking, researching and writing about geology and practical geology, trying to understand the geological history of the local area.

Lois – I have written all my life but it was only when I was able to give up the day job of teaching that I was able to write full-time. Writing is my passion; I write every day, I write from the moment I get up to the moment I go to bed. When I am not writing, I am still thinking about it and following my stories in my head. I live in a small village by the sea in Somerset, and when I’m not writing I like relaxing in my local, watching the world go by, and going to live music events.

John – I was born and bred in Somerset and had a fairly extrovert life working in insurance; it was only on retirement that I started to write poetry. It then seemed to me that here, as in other arts of our age, uncertainty and complication, rather than classical spontaneity was now the norm. My aspirations in writing certainly veer towards the latter, which, I believe, still has a large following. I hope you will find my work enjoyable, or at least easily understood.

25,000 done, 25,000 to go!

You may be a person who looks at the title of this blog and knows exactly what I mean – or you may be baffled!

The 25,000 refers to words – since November 1st I have written twenty-five thousand (and 42) words as part of the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) challenge… it’s an on-line challenge, there are no prizes except knowing you have completed the challenge and achieved the goal!

So I am halfway through, and as you may realise today is the two-thirds mark… so I have ten days to write the remaining 25,000 (well, 24, 958 to be precise) words… Can I do it? I hope so, but it will be head down!

The thing is, as well as writing my story – which is about a woman with a mystery past who arrives in the small coast la town of Easthope – as well as writing about my mystery woman, I am also writing here every day, and writing for the blog I share with two friends, The Moving Dragon Writes… plus other stuff as well, of course! To be truthful though, during this stressful and busy time (I’m also doing an on-line course on submarine archaeology) I have shared some blogs which I wrote several years ago, with introductions and added comments, but some of the things I’ve written have been quite long…

So supposing each thing I have shared here over the last month (sixty of them) and the ones I have shared on the other blog, (say ten of them) was on average 400 words long (a conservative estimate) then that make an approximate total of about 28,000 words… so if I added that to my NaNoWriMo total… wow! I’ve made it, 53,042!!!

Obviously, I am going to try to complete the challenge by writing 50,000 words about my mystery woman, but ti just shows how much i actually do write… No wonder i don’t have tome to do the dusting!!

If you want to read the fruits of my labours, I have published thirteen novels (one in paperback), three reluctant reader stories, one writing guide, an anthology with my Moving Dragon friends, then here is a link – I’m sure you will enjoy them, pleasae let me know what you think!

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=lois+elsden

and a link to the Moving Dragon blog:

https://somersetwriters.wordpress.com

Exciting dragon news!

I’ve mentioned a few times that I share another blog with two writer friends; w are The Moving Dragon Writes, and our blog is a real mixture of all types of writing and all genre. Not only so we share what we have written , we share other people’s work too. So if you have anything you would like to have on our site then we will post it with links back to your blog, web-page, Amazon page etc. Over the last few months we Moving Dragons (the name comes from Edward Fitzgerald translation of the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám, – ‘the moving finger writes, and having writ, moves on’, plus our county symbol, the Somerset dragon) – we have been getting an anthology of a selection of our work together, and hurrah! at last it is published and available:.

This is how we presented it on our blog:

We have some very, very exciting news for you!!

It’s a big day in an author’s literary life when a book that has been thought about, created, written, rewritten, edited, formatted and finally, launched.

Today is one of those days, as we publish a book!! We have published books individually before but this is the first time that the three of us Dragons have collaborated to produce a collection of our work as an anthology, appropriately titled ‘The Moving Dragons Write‘.

This follows on from the success of our blog which has become a platform, not just for the three of us but also for our growing list of contributing authors.

We three ‘Dragons’, Brimdraca (Lois), Eorðdraca (Richard) and Fyrdraca (John) hope that this anthology shows that Aristotle was right when he said,  ‘The whole is greater than the sum of its parts,. and  we hope you enjoy this first showcase of our work.

As with all of our books, The Moving Dragons Write is available from Amazon. Just follow one of the links below:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=searchalias%3Daps&fieldkeywords=lois+elsden&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Alois+elsden

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=dp_byline_sr_book_2?ie=UTF8&text=Richard+Kefford&search-alias=books-uk&field-author=Richard+Kefford&sort=relevancerank

OR
https://tinyurl.com/y7lxzejx

Anthology – Corns Hogrims, The Golden Spike and The Umbrella Factory Museum…

Two friends and I have another blog here on WordPress; as well as sharing our work there we often meet together and discuss writing and promoting our work. I write mainly fiction, one friend writes fiction, poetry and factual pieces, the other is mainly a poet. We are looking forward to producing our first anthology, a mixture of our pieces.

It has been hard work and meant many meetings to pull it together; we each chose our favourite pieces of writing, and by a weird chance, we each submitted a similar number of words! Obviously, the poet has more actual pieces than us other tow as his poems are shorter than my stories.  It has taken us ages to categorise and arrange them – should they just be in alphabetical and therefore random order? Should each of us have a section? Should we try and categorise them into ‘chapters’ or sections? Should we add notes at the end… gosh… it’s been tough and a lot of tea has been drunk!

I will bring you more detailed news nearer publication date… in the meantime I will tease or tempt or intrigue with the titles of our pieces:

  • Aspire To Build
  • Attack Of Corns Hogrims
  • Autumn
  • Call-Up
  • Civil War
  • Defeat
  • Distance
  • Doddler
  • Fnurl
  • Galileo
  • Ghost Word
  • Gus
  • Hamaszab
  • Henge
  • Laughing Heaven
  • Louis And Lois
  • Mars Rising
  • Natural Worlds
  • Rainbow
  • Red Herrings
  • Report From Terra
  • Saying Goodbye To Ouray
  • Sea Storm
  • Seven Ages Of Man
  • Sheba
  • Shine
  • Spade And Thermos
  • St Edith
  • The Curator Of The Umbrella Factory Museum
  • The Quest For The Golden Spike
  • The Shepherd Boy’s Grave
  • The Wind Is My Enemy, The Wind Is My Friend
  • Tolpuddle
  • War Wounds

You will find poems and polemics, stories, geology and history, humour, mystery and dystopian fantasy… it will be a real mixed bunch!

Here is a link to our blog:

https://somersetwriters.wordpress.com

…and here is a link to my own books:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_1_7?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=lois+elsden&sprefix=lois+el%2Caps%2C158&crid=3R5IKCZRJ6OQV

..and my fellow writer Richard Kefford’s book:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_10_10?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=richard+kefford&sprefix=richard+ke%2Caps%2C142&crid=BT3F2PSQI788&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Arichard+kefford

Writing as an industrial process… maybe… maybe not!

I’ve been writing about blogging, and about a helpful list was published to assist all prospective bloggers who might be running aground for ideas, or if they are just beginning, have few ideas at all!

This is a list of seventy-three blog subjects and I’ve been challenging myself  to have  a go at writing a blog for each of the suggestions. I’ve started this on the Moving Dragon blog I share with to other people and this one is on the list as Latest Industry News  which is obviously aimed at people who have lives other than writing and might want to share news or views on whatever their line is. So slanting it slightly, accepting that writing is part of an industry, here are my thoughts:

2. Latest Industry News 

Is writing an industry? In a wider sense yes it is, and maybe today with the internet it is a greater industry than ever before. As a writer of novels, as a blogger, as a teacher of creative writing and family history writing, as a member of two writing groups, I think I can claim to be part of that industry, even in a very lowly and amateur position!

So my latest news (as an industrial writer, or a writing industrialist)

  1. my novels – having hit a metaphorical wall with the Radwinter genealogical mystery I am working on, circumstances forced me to have a break from it. There are several story-lines and I confess I was getting a little confused with how each was playing out – and if I, the writer am confused, then pity my poor readers! The first in the Radwinter series was written as a stand-alone novel, but although it concluded satisfactorily, it seemed to cry out for a second part; in the first story the paternal line of the Radwinter family had been explored, now the maternal line needed to be followed. Subsequent novels followed, and in this the latest, present day family issues are the background, while the mysteries the Thomas Radwinter is tasked to solve are to the forefront. Two different stalkers, a jealous and possessive ex-husband, the nineteenth century coastal salt industry, an amnesiac, a family history… Thomas has a lot of work to do. I reached a point where I was getting lost in it all – so my enforced breather was a real positive. I am now reading through the whole story so far, making corrections and notes as I go and I’m sure I will be invigorated!
  2. my blog – going very well at the moment; yesterday I wrote three offerings: ‘On the edge of the pond‘ – an excerpt from my novel ‘Farholm; ‘Savouries‘ – looking at a course on a dinner menu which seems to have gone out of fashion; Side-saddle – a short biography of pianist Russ Conway
  3. Moving Dragon blog – also continuing well – you can look back at previous posts to see how well it is doing!
  4. Moving Dragon – very excited at the progress we three dragons are making towards an anthology we are publishing in the autumn/winter. An update will be posted soon!!
  5. writing group (1) – having thoughts about the subject for the next meeting where the subject to write about is ‘Earth’ (following on from water, fire and air)
  6. writing group (2) – early days, but some of us are planning a ‘write-in’, where we meet together and each work solidly and with focus, break for refreshments and then continue (just the thing to get over my struggles as above!)
  7. creative writing group (I lead) – at our recent meeting we shared some great pieces of writing, and welcomed a new member. The task for next time is to write from some stimulus pictures and titles, concentrating in particular on how we start our pieces
  8. family  history writing groups (I lead) – these are new groups, which got off to a faltering start in May; however we have some interesting new people joining us so I’m looking forward to an autumn of great writing from them (and me!) The first meeting will probably be taken up with introductions and with people explaining what they would like to achieve, but I will set an optional task for the next meeting
  9. thoughts for future writing – it is only six weeks away from the on-line writing challenge of The national Novel Writing Month – 50,00 new words in November. I am not quite sure whether to rewrite a couple of old stories, just taking the plot and characters reworking it completely, whether to work on a sequel to a previous novel I have written, or whether to take the bones of what I wrote last year – a sort of biographical memoir sort of a piece, and knock it into a proper, publishable shape… hmmm… a little daunting… of course a completely new inspiration might come!
  10. paperback publishing – prepare my next e-book for republishing as a paperback. It will be Magick, part 2 of the Radwinter stories (I hope to publish them all in paperback, one every six months)

So… that is my writing news…

© Lois Elsden 2017

Here is a link to my books:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_3_10?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=lois+elsden&sprefix=lois+elsde%2Caps%2C143&crid=2LH42U38J5NV0

… and to me fellow blogger’s:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_4_10?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=richard+kefford&sprefix=richard+ke%2Cdigital-text%2C136&crid=1B15ZAN73TWEG&rh=n%3A341677031%2Ck%3Arichard+kefford

… and to the 73 blog list:

http://optinmonster.com/73-type-of-blog-posts-that-are-proven-to-work/

 

A How-to Guide…

You may know that I also write for another blog; a small collective of three writers, me, the very talented Richard Kefford, and poet John Watts share a blog called ‘The Moving Dragon Writes’. As well as posting our own work and thoughts, we open up the blog to anyone else who would like to post there and we have many fine writers who have been kind enough to share their work.

Some time ago, Richard found a most interesting article about different types of blogs and blogging in general; it listed seventy-three suggested subjects for blogging and  he has begun to tackle the challenge of trying to write on each of these seventy-three… well, good luck to him! … Good luck, and yesterday, feeling that maybe I too should take up that challenge – not in competition, but just to see if I can do it. I started

First of all I had to decide,  should I start with No. 1 on the list and work my way through? Should I choose the easiest and train myself up to the most challenging? Choose a topic I’m familiar with and already often write about or select one at random? In the end starting with the first suggestion seemed the equivalent to starting at random as they were in no particular order!

So, here is the first on the list, and what I wrote yesterday:

  1. Tutorials and How-to Guides

How to edit what you have written (according to Brimdraca, aka Lois Elsden):

Recently I have been thinking about the process of editing stories – in my case it is novels; I am not at the stage of having to think about editing with my current novel, provisionally called Saltpans, but having recently read an interesting article about editing, it has been on my mind. I write fiction, and I write novels, but I think there are aspects of my self-editing processes which apply to any piece of writing. certainly when I do write a shorter piece, or a factual piece or an article about something, the same principles of checking, correcting, improving apply

You have finished your story…

  • congratulate yourself and feel very proud of your achievement – don’t have negative, apologetic or pessimistic thoughts about it. You set yourself a challenge and you have completed it so that is a success!
  • flex your editing muscles because you are going to make your work better than it is in its raw state – don’t think ‘I’ve finished writing, that’s it’ – you want to make it the best it can be, the same as with anything
  • take time away from your work; it might be only a cup of coffee or tea’s worth of time, it might be a day, a week, a month – Stephen King recommends six weeks – but you need to disengage yourself so you can be objective
  • spell-check – run your spellchecker/proof-reader/spelling and grammar checker before you do anything else to get rid of those silly errors and typos, spelling mistakes, careless grammatical inconsistencies, repeated or omitted words, etc
  • first read through – your time away from your work should help you see it with fresh eyes and things should jump out at you straight away which need attention

With the next suggestions there is no particular order, I might work my way through them in a different way from you, I might omit some or add in a few idiosyncratic personal ones of my own – and so might you!

  • write out the plot and subplots – this helps with continuity and sequencing,, it also helps you rearrange episodes if you need to. If you are a person who meticulously plans your work before you even start then you will probably have done this already – ditto a lot of the other suggestions below!!
  • write character profiles and descriptions – you may even write family trees, family histories, back-stories which never appear in your piece (you can always use them later for something else!) Doing this ensures consistencies, that your character’s eyes don’t change colour for example or her ex-husband’s name doesn’t change
  • scenery and setting – if your story is in a real place then you might need to check out the location again, you might also want to enhance your story with more details and descriptions. If your setting is fictional make sure your reader can ‘see’ it. You may need to write a little private ‘history’ of the place with notes.
  • read your whole story/article out loud – when I say ‘out loud’ I mean ‘out loud’; I don’t mean mumbling or whispering it to yourself, I mean reading it as if to someone else – if you have someone else to read it to, even better – and if that someone else will read it out loud to you, then even better still! This will throw up things you want to change large and small and will highlight those errors which escaped your spell-check/proof reading from above. This will also highlight boring bits, parts which are too abrupt or not properly explained, repetitive parts, and worst of all – those precious, beautifully crafted, lovingly polished episodes which are actually ludicrous or embarrassing or make the reader burst out laughing (or if it’s supposed to be funny sit there with a pained expression because it’s so dire) On the positive side – reading it out loud will really highlight the great bits, the lyrical bits, the hilarious pits, the tear-jerking bits – you will be impressed by yourself in a way you can’t be reading it in your head!
  • winnow, slash, cut, delete, reduce – like all of us, carrying a little extra weight (or in some cases a lot of extra weight) isn’t good. As with extra calories, it can be the little things which make a story flabby and unfocused. I think all of us have words which we use more than we should – ‘just’, ‘about’, ‘very’, ‘almost’ etc… each of us might have a favourite word which we trot out – it can be something unusual like ‘pellucid’ or ‘lambent’ which will seem poetic and original the first time, but annoying, distracting and laughable after seven or eight or more times. I found myself using ‘virtually’ too many times, then it was ‘actually’ and ‘actual’, and then utterly…
    it isn’t just single words – it can be whole chunks which are just plain boring; it can be a detailed description of a simple act ‘he stretched out his cold hand, his long, brown fingers tentatively touched, then more confidently slid over and firmly grasped the smooth, shiny  brass door handle…’ Once might be effective, but if the whole thing is padded out with this minutiae it is just plain boring.
    back stories are important but the reader doesn’t want to be wading through a whole lot of stuff which actually has no bearing on the main story – for the most part, saying someone was married before is enough, we don’t need to know what they wore on their wedding day, had to eat at the reception, went on their honeymoon etc!
  • repeats – as above; telling us a character has piercing blue yes is fine, repeating it next time we meet her might help us remember her eyes, but we don’t need to be told every-time she comes into the story – unless of course there is a very specific reason
  • reread the whole thing – yes again – if possible, read it in a different medium, on paper on an e-reader, in bed on a laptop or tablet… this will help you be objective and stand back from your creation.
  • find a reader – if you have a friend whose judgement you respect, ask them to read it (you can bribe them with beer, wine, chocolate, a trip to the theatre) and ask them for their honest opinion. They may be complimentary, but if they are a true friend they will also point out things which don’t work, don’t make sense, seem silly or boring or soppy. You will have to think about what they say because after all, you have already decided you respect their judgement; however you don’t have to agree with it! Your augments for whatever it will make you more sure of yourself… but you might actually think there is some point to what they are saying, and you might find their advice helpful! I’m not suggesting you compromise, but in justifying what you have done you might want to tweak something!
  • read it backwards – this advice is mainly for longer stories or novels; obviously I don’t literally mean you read it backwards, but read the last chapter, then the penultimate, then antepenultimate and so on. This is a brilliant way to check plot lines are consistent, make sense and nothing is missed out
  • … and finally… begin to think about what should happen next to your story; is it for your writing group, a competition, something for a friend or family member, submit to an agent/publisher, self-publish – possibly on Lulu or Amazon KDP or in paperback form… these days there are so many possibilities!

© Lois Elsden 2017

Here is a link to my books:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_3_10?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=lois+elsden&sprefix=lois+elsde%2Caps%2C143&crid=2LH42U38J5NV0

… and Richard’s:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_4_10?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=richard+kefford&sprefix=richard+ke%2Cdigital-text%2C136&crid=1B15ZAN73TWEG&rh=n%3A341677031%2Ck%3Arichard+kefford

… and the 73 blog list:

http://optinmonster.com/73-type-of-blog-posts-that-are-proven-to-work/

…and to our Dragon blog:

https://somersetwriters.wordpress.com

 

You’ve finished your amazing first draft… and…

Here is an article I wrote for my other blog about editing what you have written:

There is a wonderful amount of advice out there for writers these days, no more scribbling away in a lonely garret – now, with a click of the mouse you have thew whole world in your room. Lulu is a publishing on demand site which allows people to self-publish their work if they have been unsuccessful in attracting or finding an agent or publishing house to support them. Even if you don’t take advantage of their services, Lulu has an amazing selection of articles offering advice on all aspects of writing.

I came across one, ‘5 Tips for Editing Your Manuscript’, and I will give you the link below, because it offers some really sound, basic advice, which is not daunting or off-putting but do-able. There is a suggestion of an exercise to be undertaken first, which is valuable:

  1. write down the plot(s)
  2. identify the purpose of each scene

Having done that, take a gallop through the 5 tips, (which add up to seven, if you include ‘pre-editing‘ and ‘final thoughts‘ ) :

  1. trim the fat
  2. read aloud
  3. spelling & grammar
  4. think like an editor
  5. befriend your characters

They seem so obvious, don’t they when you look at them like that and over the next few weeks, we will discuss each of these with maybe some personal examples… Of course, when I said ‘take a gallop through the 5 tips’ I didn’t literally mean that!!

Here is the link:

http://www.lulu.com/blog/2017/09/5-tips-for-editing-your-manuscript/?utm_source=bronto&utm_medium=email&utm_term=Read+More&utm_content=5+tips+for+editing+your+manuscript+%3F%3F&utm_campaign=09052017_US_en_LULU20#sthash.ly3T57uk.dpbs

…and if you would like to have a look at my other blog which I write with two others, it is The Moving Dragon Writes and can be found here:

https://somersetwriters.wordpress.com/2017/09/08/5-tips-from-lulu-might-make-you-wanna-shout/

…and here is a link to my books

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=lois+elsden

 

..and  here is Lulu: