Monday, 9 November 2009


I've just taken the plunge and splashed out on lots of course books for my new degree course. I don't know whether it will mean that I spend less time blogging, because I'll have so much to do, or whether I'll spend more time procrastinating, which could lead to a blogging explosion...

Sunday, 8 November 2009


I have ONLY JUST noticed that I have three characters with the same name. Oh well, I've only been writing this for A YEAR.

This has not been a good weekend for my brain. I'm going to take a brief chocolate break before I carry on with the text edits.

Blushing retraction

In future, when I am driven to such lengths of frustration by my computer that I am compelled to post a ranty blog on the subject, I will endeavour to check that, for example (hypothetically, of course), I haven't set the default language to Italian.


Saturday, 7 November 2009

I growl at technology

I am taking a break from re-plotting to go through the top-line text edits of my first draft, and for reasons of version control, am doing these edits in Scrivener, rather than in my over-sized and rather lumpy Word document of the whole 100,000 words. But, for some INFURIATING reason, EVERY new word I type comes up with a red line underneath it. And sometimes the word next to it too! I KNOW HOW TO SPELL 'THERE'. AND 'MIND'. AND 'TO'. But currently, my computer doesn't believe me.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Heaven Can Wait - Cally Taylor

I don't read a lot of chick lit, but 'Heaven Can Wait' had two major advantages for me. Firstly, I know the author, Cally Taylor, and secondly, I have a bit of a weakness for all things supernatural. I started reading as soon as I got home. Every time I tried to stop and get on with the many jobs I needed to do that evening, I thought, 'Oh, just one more chapter...' and eventually I realised resistance was futile - I finished it in one evening.

Something about the writing reminded me of Neil Gaiman, possibly the mix of the everyday with the supernatural, and the unlikely hero (or rather heroine in this case) overcoming bizarre obstacles to achieve the 'right' thing, not necessarily their heart's desire. The humour was also a wonderful mix of juvenile guffaws with clever observational gems, but the ending achieved something special, as it brought a tear to my eye. This is easier said than done, because I have clinically dry eyes - I have to use eye-drops with the worst name ever (I can't put it here, it could have an interesting effect on my searches profile...). I've also persuaded one of my colleagues to buy her own copy, by cunningly letting her read the back, then refusing to let her borrow it! It's a risky book-selling technique I realise, but it's working so far...

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

That autumn feeling

It's been a while since I posted, but lots has been happening behind the scenes. I finished my read-through of 'Unseen' last night - it's taken me ages! At the moment the holes are so big I'm feeling rather daunted about what I need to do to patch the plot up, but at least I know where they all are now. Tomorrow night I'm going to have a massive plotathon, then start writing the missing scenes and cutting the rubbish ones. S says he wants to read it too, and I think it would be useful to have someone else's opinion, though it's too shaky for me to show to any of my readers yet...

But while I am excited about moving 'Unseen' to the next level, the chill in the air is making me think about NaNo. I know it would be crazy to start a new WIP now (not least because I've just signed up to do a part-time degree in Italian Literature... gulp!), but I've been working on 'Unseen' for so long that it's only natural that my brain is percolating the ideas for the Next Big Thing. I just need to let them simmer a bit longer!

Saturday, 19 September 2009

The Dogs and the Wolves - Irene Nemirovsky

While it is set earlier than Suite Française, and not exclusively in France, The Dogs and the Wolves is nevertheless a similar mixture of the epic and the intimate. The divisions in the Sinner family run deep, with one branch privileged and cultured, the other struggling for stability. Ada Sinner glimpses her more fortunate cousin Harry several times throughout their childhood, and feels herself drawn to him, much to her other cousin Ben’s disgust.

As the families move to Paris, the distinctions between them grow, and yet Ada remains convinced Harry is part of her destiny, and is unwilling to let this go despite the obvious barriers between them. The poignant prose leads to a feeling of inevitability, highlighting the barriers constructed by society that were generally insurmountable, especially for Jewish foreigners in Paris between the wars. However, it is clear throughout that the wheel of fortune is always turning, and none of the protagonists know where the next revolution will take them.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Did I write THAT?!

So, after a bit of a break, I've started on the bizarre process of the Second Draft. I've never got this far before, so I'm slightly making it up as I go along, but that's fine. It's fun, and fresh, and different from trying to churn out words. Now I'm trying to recognize the ones I wrote 8 months ago.

I've got a shiny new notebook with handy sections, and I've started reading through the 1st draft, making notes on what happens in each chapter in the blue section, while I'm making notes about the characters in the red section. I found that when I was getting to the latter stages of writing, I couldn't remember what I'd called some of the more minor characters, and other little details, so having the main points jotted down should help when I start putting it all back together. My 1st draft is printed out in a big blue folder, and I've been making quick edits on obvious things I've spotted as I go, and also underlined important things in green. It's quite weird - I've foreshadowed things that I hadn't even thought of when I wrote the beginning and I'm also trying to highlight all the little clues I've left through the text to make sure they all come to something later on.

When I've finished my read-through, my plan is to draw a map of the book on a piece of A3 paper, and start working out what needs to change and where the extra chapters that I've thought of need to go. I might start off with this on Post-Its so I can move them around, but I want to end up with a chart I can stick on the wall (if I can persuade S to let me stick something up! Blue tack stains, you know!). And then comes the actual writing again. Phew, it all seems rather complicated now...

Sunday, 12 July 2009


At 100,794 words, the first draft of 'Unseen' is finished! I would have posted about this earlier, but I actually typed the final words in the car on Friday night, while being whisked away to the wonderful Losehill House Hotel for a surprise birthday getaway. I haven't drunk the pink prosecco yet, but I think a glass or two might be in order this evening...

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Almost... there...

2.5% left. I can do this! I think I've sorted out what the ending is going to be, and even realised I have another little twist left. Despite distractions (like my birthday on Friday), I am GOING to finish it by Sunday. Honest.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Another inch

With 1000 more words since yesterday lunchtime, and a revelation that I've just started my penultimate chapter, I'm another inch closer to 'The End', and drinking the bottle of pink prosecco that's been tempting me from the fridge for months now. I just have one, tiny problem. I know what goes in this chapter, and even the first half of the next one, but I have no idea what needs to happen once all the loose ends are tied off and everyone knows everything. Is it good enough just to say '...and they all lived happily ever after'?

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Did you see that?

My word count just crept up - 1500 words since Sunday. At this rate, I may actually finish it this weekend.


Monday, 8 June 2009

Don't tell my Italian teacher...

Three days before my penultimate A level Italian exam I have finally finished reading my set text, 'Volevo i pantaloni', by Lara Cardello! I managed 80-something pages last autumn, when we were actually studying the book in class, but never quite got around to finishing the damn thing. However, as the old adage goes, pressure produces diamonds, and with the thought of having to write an essay (albeit only 250 words) on this book later this week, I had to get going on it. This weekend was mostly spent curled up with my HUGE but wonderful dictionary, my copy of 'Volevo' and a notebook for key vocab, and I just finished off the last 13 pages during my lunch break, helped along by the yummy Covent Garden soup of the month. Just don't tell my teacher I'm 6 months late with this particular assignment...

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Another week, another lack of words...

Yep, you guessed it, no writing this week. I don't even really have time to add this, but I've got 2 books to add to my 'Read in 2009' list (I know, I know - reading, not writing...) and I don't want to get behind in that as well. My only excuse is that I have been writing, but in Italian, preparing for my exams over the next 2 weeks. When they're over, I'll have completely run out of excuses so I'll have to start writing again!

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Writing fail

Oops. Instead of writing during the many hours driving (Manchester - Bristol - villages near Exeter - Newport - Manchester) over the weekend, I did no writing at all. I listened to Radio 4, which included a surprising lack of comedy during the hours we were listening. Well, intentional comedy. I suppose when the news programming is focusing on MP's duck houses it sort of merges...

Tuesday, 19 May 2009


Maybe it was slightly over-ambitious to think that I would have the brain-space or time to start writing last week, but I've got so many ideas and I really miss it so I thought it might happen. But, unsurprisingly, it didn't. I did have a lovely weekend, with a barbecue (somehow avoiding the customary Mancunian rain), a Eurovision spectacular and a meat-filled birthday dinner for a carnivorous friend keeping me busy.

This weekend does have an extra day tacked on the end with the lovely second May bank holiday, but it also contains a friend's wedding in Devon. And, yet again, S and I are both singing, which will be lovely, but does take up a fair bit of time, especially considering the groom's composition (rather tricky...). That said, I have recently perfected the art of typing while S drives, and it's less anti-social than reading, which is one of the only other methods I have of staying awake when being driven. Maybe the journey to Devon and back is just what I need to finish off those last 7,000 (ish) words?

Monday, 11 May 2009

Normal service will resume shortly

Last week was one of the busiest I've ever had, culminating in a big meeting in Dublin. Despite having a day off last Monday for the May bank holiday, I managed to work over 60 hours, and am still a little bit drained. I've found the lack of time for anything other than work really frustrating, and I want to try to address this, but I think that it might have to wait for a while... But hopefully, if all goes according to plan, I should have some time for writing before the end of the week.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Photo fun

As a bit of a bookaholic, I think my Book Nook is the coolest part of my flat.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Pay it Forward

Weeks after receiving this very exciting package, I have actually got my act together and taken a picture of the goodies Calistro sent me. This means that I can officially declare my part in Pay it Forward open, and anybody who would like a surprise parcel of excitingness should send me an email (eleanor dot steele at gmail dot com). The first three people who provide their address will be the lucky recipients of something suitably fun!

Yay for presents!

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

I have been eaten by the Evil Monster of Busy...

...but will return when I have fought my way through its Super-Sized Stomach of Work with my Burning Sword of Efficiency and my Sparkly Arrows of Initiative. But it might take a couple of days.

It's a big monster.

Monday, 23 March 2009


A slightly unexpected burst of speed (possibly induced by the contents of Calistro's Pay It Forward gift, which I'll post about properly on Wednesday when I've taken the pictures) on Saturday has taken me past the 90% mark!

Saturday, 21 March 2009

It's arrived!

If I wasn't just about to leave the house (we're spending Mothers' Day with my in-laws and we need to get on the road!) then I would SO take pictures and put them up immediately, but frustratingly, I don't have time right now. But, my Pay It Forward package from Calistro has arrived and it is FABULOUS.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Holiday reading

Tuesday, 24 February 2009


Back soon!

Thursday, 12 February 2009


Still writing, just busy. Will blog again soon...

Thursday, 5 February 2009


Well, my word count is rising, but nowhere near as fast as I had hoped. My internet broke on Saturday, and after spending about 2 hours on the phone to TalkTalk trying to tell them that I needed a new modem while they insisted on performing many diagnostic tests before telling me that.... (wait for it!) I need a new modem, I didn't really feel like going near my computer again. Then my girly night in with a chum was cancelled due to her menfolk going down with the Tummy Bug of Doom, which also didn't help. So I read (The Welsh Girl and Testament), thoroughly enjoying both books. I then made the mistake of watching The Black Dahlia on my own (the fountain scene still gives my the heeby jeebies). Not very productive. Oh well, I have now crossed over 80,000 words...

Thursday, 29 January 2009


This lunchtime I got to just over 77,000 words! I'm planning to do a big push this weekend, and get as close to the end as I can. I'm actually quite surprised by how the pacing is working. One of my biggest worries when I started was that I'd have run out of plot before I reached 50,000 words, let alone 100,000, or go the other way and have only just established my characters and the situation when I finished NaNo, but it seems to be working out better than I could have hoped. That said, I haven't reread any, except the odd bits here and there to check things, so it could all fall apart when I start the second draft...

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Déjà lu

Yesterday, I began 'The Welsh Girl' by Peter Ho Davies. I bought it last week, having been meaning to read it for a while now. When I started reading, I got the strangest feeling I had already read it. While I couldn't remember the plot exactly, the scenes seemed familiar. It came out in 2007, so I checked my 'Read in 2007/8' blog posts, and it wasn't on them. I might have missed it off by mistake, but I remember seeing it in bookshops and thinking 'Oh yes, I want to read that!' for quite a lot of last year. It's possible that I read an extract somewhere (I've only read the first 30ish pages), so it will be less familiar when I've got further in, but it is the strangest feeling.

On writing, I cracked the 75,000 barrier yesterday!

Friday, 23 January 2009

Disaster strikes! (and is then averted reassuringly quickly)

I didn't bring my laptop to work today as I was getting the local train (for local people), which is not equipped with the luxury of tables, making typing while commuting harder. I was still planning to do some writing at lunchtime, thinking that I had saved a copy onto my work computer yesterday, but when I looked in the folder to check, Oh Horror!, it was an Earlier Version. For a full thirty seconds, I was devastated! The new chapter I was hoping to start would have to wait, maybe until tomorrow morning, and possibly even until Monday due to a busy weekend! Those ideas might drain away! It might all go wrong now!

Then, my brain kicked in. I'm starting a new chapter. I can do it in a new Word document, then copy it into my WIP later. Phew. Crisis over!

Thursday, 22 January 2009

"It accumulates by a magnitude"

No, not snow, words. I don't do a thing for ages, and now I can't stop. When I'm working (and therefore have very little free time), I can do 1000 words a day without noticing, because I fit them in around other things, little batches of a couple of hundred words. But when I have acres of time....

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Words vs pages

I'm writing my WIP in Word, and I'm currently on page 291 (and 72,371 words). Everytime I finish a chapter, I copy it into Scrivener, partly for back-up in case Word goes wonky, partly for when I start revising (it makes it easier to swap chapters around, make notes and see the bigger picture). When I was doing NaNo, I came to terms with the fact that word counts are different between the two programmes, but was excited that the Scrivener word count also includes a 'Paperback Page Count'. I had been getting a little bit frustrated by this page count - it wasn't going up anywhere near as quickly as I had expected/hoped it would, despite my growing word count. When I realised that it was saying 177 pages for around 69,000 words, I decided to do the maths, and found that it must be using about 390 words per page to calculate the number of paperback pages your wordcount would fill. Is it just me, or does this seem a lot? I would have expected 300-350, but might be way off...

Monday, 19 January 2009

Slow going

Sometimes life trips you up when you really think it's going to be smooth underfoot. Last week was pretty much a washout in terms of writing for reasons beyond my control. I did get some time (and brain-space) yesterday, and managed to crack 70,000 words, a milestone which has been looming on the horizon for weeks, never seeming to get any closer. I'm thrilled to have passed it, and really hope that the 70s are going to be easier to get through than the 60s...

Monday, 12 January 2009

Routine vs holiday

I did write over Christmas, just nowhere near as much as I had anticipated. It was silly of me really – I live a long way from my family, so when I go there for 10 days over Christmas it shouldn’t have come as a shock that there were things, like having fun with them, that were more important than writing... I’m not worried about the hiatus, and managed about 2500 words over the weekend, so I’m back on the horse. It just highlighted to me that I work better when I’m in my normal routine, rather than engaging in wrapping paper-based warfare with my brothers.

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Read in 2008

  1. Beneath the Bleeding - Val McDermid
  2. Bones to Ashes - Kathy Reichs
  3. Borrower of the Night - Elizabeth Peters
  4. Breaking Dawn - Stephenie Meyer
  5. Careless in Red - Elizabeth George
  6. Cat's Eye - Margaret Atwood
  7. Crazy for You - Jennifer Crusie
  8. Disraeli Avenue - Caroline Smailes
  9. East of the Sun - Julia Gregson
  10. Eclipse - Stephenie Meyer
  11. Fast Women - Jennifer Crusie
  12. Fault Lines - Nancy Huston
  13. For Whom the Bell Tolls - Ernest Hemingway
  14. Gifted - Nikita Lalwani
  15. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - JK Rowling
  16. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - JK Rowling
  17. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - JK Rowling
  18. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - JK Rowling
  19. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - JK Rowling
  20. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - JK Rowling
  21. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - JK Rowling
  22. Human Traces - Sebastian Faulks
  23. In Search of Adam - Caroline Smailes
  24. Interesting Times - Terry Pratchett
  25. Leviathan - Paul Auster
  26. Making Money - Terry Pratchett
  27. Mudbound - Hillary Jordan
  28. Neverwhere - Neil Gaiman (e)
  29. New Moon - Stephenie Meyer
  30. Nineteen Minutes - Jodi Picoult
  31. Painting Ruby Tuesday - Jane Yardley
  32. Petite Anglaise - Catherine Sanderson
  33. Read in 2007
  34. Rebecca's Tale - Sally Beauman
  35. Second Glance - Jodi Picoult
  36. Sepulchre - Kate Mosse
  37. Shakespeare - Bill Bryson
  38. Sihouette in Scarlet - Elizabeth Peters
  39. Star Gazing - Linda Gillard
  40. Stardust - Neil Gaiman
  41. State of the Union - Douglas Kennedy
  42. Street of the Five Moons - Elizabeth Peters
  43. Swallowdale - Arthur Ransome
  44. The 39 Steps - John Buchan
  45. The Alchemist's Daughter - Katherine McMahon
  46. The Athenian Murders - Jose Carlos Somoza
  47. The Cairo Diary - Maxim Chattam
  48. The Cleft - Doris Lessing
  49. The Confusion - Neal Stephenson
  50. The Courage Consort - Michel Faber
  51. The Crimson Petal and the White - Michel Faber
  52. The Dante Club - Matthew Pearl
  53. The Dante Trap - Arnaud Delalande
  54. The Duchess - Amanda Foreman
  55. The End of Mr Y - Scarlett Thomas
  56. The Evil Seed - Joanne Harris
  57. The God Delusion - Richard Dawkins
  58. The Gum Thief - Douglas Coupland
  59. The Hippopotamus Pool - Elizabeth Peters
  60. The Inheritance of Loss - Kiran Desai
  61. The Light Years - Elizabeth Jane Howard
  62. The Lollipop Shoes - Joanne Harris
  63. The Magician's Nephew - CS Lewis
  64. The Mathematics of Love - Emma Darwin
  65. The Murder Book - Guillermo Martinez
  66. The Night Climbers - Ivo Stourton
  67. The Outcast - Sadie Jones
  68. The Point of Rescue - Sophie Hannah
  69. The Post-Birthday World - Lionel Shriver
  70. The Rose Labyrinth - Titania Hardie
  71. The Secret History - Donna Tartt
  72. The Secret of Lost Things - Sheridan Hay
  73. The Seville Communion - Arturo Perez-Reverte
  74. The Thirteenth Tale - Diane Setterfield
  75. The Virgin in the Garden - AS Byatt
  76. The Woman in the Fifth - Douglas Kennedy
  77. Welcome to Temptation - Jennifer Crusie
  78. Winter in Madrid - CJ Sansom

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