My NaNoWriMo Word Count Widgets!

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Research Central....

...that's how it feels at the moment as I plough through various self-help books and websites in my bid to put together "Agoraphobics Anonymous".  I've just emailed a place, based in Bath, who specialise in treating phobias and OCD, hoping they can help provide me with some starting materials for this all important workbook.  I can't afford to get anything wrong with it!  Even though I'll have a disclaimer to say that the advice is not from a medical professional and you should always seek proper, medical advice, I want it to be realistic and for some people to possibly benefit from it in a small way. 

The workbook will cause me more stress than the actual novel, I'm sure!  I'm nearly 8000 words in now, and finding Angela, Ryan and David's voices easier.  Sissy is still very much an unknown quantity, but her input will be minimal and mostly in the form of being "Moderator" of the online support sessions David and Angela "meet" and fall in love in (although I don't think David's aware of how much his sister is involved with the programme - he thinks she's just being a bossy big sister, forcing him to "attend"). 

Anyway - I'll have to quit my research there for the day, as I have my own medical issues to deal with.  I have to get to Dundee for a medical assessment for my benefits....thankfully, Lovely Boyfriend is on hand to drive me there and provide some much needed moral support.  At least I can use my anxiety and difficulties in the new book!

Sunday, 25 March 2012

I'm a real author...

...I got my first rejection slip yesterday, and rather than feeling disappointed, I'm celebrating the fact!  OK - a teeny bit disappointed as well, but not devastated....really starting to get to grips with all my BPD therapy after nearly 4 years of it! 

Therapy is at the forefront of my brain tonight, as I muse over the next 5000 words of Agoraphobics Anonymous (henceforth to be abbreviated to Ag Anon).  I've decided that in order to draw my fourth necessary character further into the story, she will be the person running the online support forum where Angela and David meet and fall in love (and she's also David's sister, his only real point of contact with the outside world).  She will have produced a workbook to go alongside the forum, so I'm going to have to do a lot of homework into CBT and effective exercises for the pair to go through.  I may start each of the latter chapters with a segment from the workbook, which means I may very well have to write a damn workbook first!  I'll be collecting my first genuine self-help book tomorrow and I'll be picking my psychologist's brain at our session tomorrow afternoon! 

And, as an added bonus, I might be able to utilise some of the techniques myself!  I'm not agoraphobic, but I avoid places that cause me stress (because the BPD exaggerates the negative emotions, meaning it becomes "intolerable").  It makes going new places or for job interviews "impossible" (I'm using "" marks to show that this is just my interpretation of the situation - it would be tolerable and possible, but only after I've gone through the therapy!).  So, it'll hopefully add some authenticity to the thoughts, feelings and reactions of the two agoraphobic characters as they attempt to venture out into the big, bad world. 

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Nearly 5000 words...

...of the new book are written and I'm loving these new characters!  Four completely different personalities, all linked together in some obvious and not so obvious ways.  I've even managed to link in a character from Hospital Corners.  Not one of the main ones, but Rhona Ellingham, Esme's friend and flatmate and, eventually, Suzannah Bailey's confidant.  Yes, somehow the new book is also set in and around Bath and Bristol and I'm having great run reading aloud the sections in my best attempt at a West Country twang!  Thankfully I can manage a reasonably decent one, from emulating my lovely grandparents!

How's Hospital Corners faring in the big, bad world?  Well, I've had to email acknowledgements of receipt and nothing else.  I know it's only been a week since I sent off the first batch of submissions, but at least I've not had manuscripts returned by first available post!  It's a long waiting game now - one to two months of silence will mean I break out the W&A Yearbook and try again, with hopefully a stronger covering letter and synopsis. 

In my personal life, I'm rehearsing for Les Miserable at my old school (back-room back-up chorus!) and we've now settled on a show for LAMS - Fame!  Workshop/auditions are on Sunday so I'm off to the lovely land of YouTube to find the song and lyrics to prepare!

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

We have lift off...

...Agoraphobics Anonymous has made it from brain to paper.  Well, the first chapter and a bit anyway.  It's amazing how my brain has suddenly kicked into writing mode again!  And the characters are already leading me down some completely unexpected but exciting paths.

Angela - the lead female is seriously agoraphobic.  She lives within 32 square feet of her house, too terrified to even sleep in her bedroom for the memories.  Something happened to her when she was 19, something that kick-started her agoraphobia...

Ryan - the long-suffering postie.  He'll be key to Angela's recovery.

David - the male lead who's agoraphobic, but not to such a great extent as Angela.  He can go out of the house with his sister.  Surprisingly, he's just turned into a recovering drug addict.

Sissy - David's big sis, and a nurse. 

Them's the main cast.  Like Hospital Corners, the story will alternate between the different POV's as Angie and Dave struggle to overcome their conditions in order to meet in person, after falling in love over the internet. 

Monday, 19 March 2012

I need a theme song....

...OK, maybe not a theme song, but an idea of "theme" and what mine is.

BPD can make life really frustrating.  I'd never be any good in a book group because I never read books with a view to interpreting the subtext.  I read for enjoyment.  I read for a good story, for characters I can empathise with.  To me, Animal Farm will always be a nice little story about animals taking over a farm.  S*d the Russian Revolution!

I think I only passed English exams because we spent hours dissecting themes and subplots/subtext etc as a class.  I.e. the teacher told us what it was about and then we wrote down what he said. 

Now I'm struggling to articulate what my themes are for Hospital Corners.  Deep down, I know they're there and roughly what they are, but getting them written down in plain English...bah!  I've asked for help from my Authonomy buddies, and will let you know if I ever get beyond the following:

1.  It's not mental's mental hell.
2. Don't judge people by their outward appearance.
3. Sometimes things are simpler than they first appear; sometimes they're more complicated.  Sometimes they're both at the same time.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

To joke or not to joke...

...that is the question I'm facing today.

Query/covering wouldn't think it would be hard to say "I'm looking for an agent for my book.  Any chance you might be interested in taking me on?", but oh boy....

After spending days going through QueryShark for ideas, I then read my W&A Yearbook and some more UK-based stuff and realised that the Americans do it totally differently (and it sounds a lot more fun!).  We have to be business-like over here....a simple statement saying here's my book, here's me.  I tried to stay all professional but it just sounded plain boring!  So I snuck in some humour...just a little bit to reflect my personality.  Then I snuck in a bit more and then I snuck it back out again.  Where do I draw the line?  I think I've picked the right amount...I hope so anyway. 

My OCD tendencies are having a ball today, as I work my way through the first 15 agencies on my list, preparing separate Word files for each with their specific requirements set up, all pages numbered in their sections, all ready to go....Little Tootsie helped me pick out some nice big, strong envelopes for the rejections to come back in :-)  If they send the pages back, I'm hoping they might have left some useful markings/scribblings for me to decipher and incorporate into further submissions!

On with the organising...I plan to post/email the first 3 tomorrow!  Apologies to anyone in Brechin who might want to buy chocolate; most of it appears to have made its way to my living room.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Count down to submission...

...6 days.

I promised myself that I'd start submitting Hospital Corners by the end of March.  Then I promised my psychologist that I'd start submitting earlier than that, in order to work on knocking my perfectionism on the head.  So I've made a pact with a fellow Authonomite and we will have submitted our manuscripts by the 20th March.  Start or spring and all that....eek!

I woke this morning feeling slightly depressed.  March is one of those months that brings me down for no discernable reason.  Maybe it's the changes in light that make it harder for me to get to sleep and then wake up?  I don't know, but I'm determined to work through it!  After an iffy start to the day, I downed 2 cups of strong tea and got to work on the book.  I'm happier with my synopsis (I'm now on version 7) and I've re-written the ending to better reflect what happens when someone realises they have BPD (based on my own experience, of course.  Everyone reacts differently but I'm assuming it's a similar thought process).  I'm a LOT happier and have drawn a line under the book.  Lovely Boyfriend has taken the 4th draft offshore with him to read and will point out any hitches as he finds them (mostly apostrophes and other assorted punctuation that disrupts the flow)...but unless he points something out, I'm going to leave it.  The book is not 110%, as I'd prefer, but it's 90+% and more than suitable for submitting. 

So - this afternoon will be spent waiting on Asda mannie and working my way through the websites of agents listed in the W&A Yearbook.  They all have different submission guidelines so it's important to check their specific wants!  Some want a one page synopsis, others an "outline".  Some want a full page biography, others a single short paragraph.  Some will only accept paper submissions, others email.  Hopefully 6 days will be enough time to research them all!