Sunday, 19 March 2017

9 Things I Learned from Being Edited

I'm getting so close to completing the final draft of my first Paranormal Romance, which has previously been titled Lord of Shadows, and Dark Soul,  but I think may now be His Dark Soul.

I've been super fortunate to have had two people advising me on edits - the superb Miranda Kate, who has been massively encouraging, and also challenged me to think harder, as well as noting bad habits I never knew I had. 

I've also been lucky enough to have someone who reviewed my entry to an RWA Chapter Contest offer to continue to read and comment on it. Linda Locke, a HUGE, thank you for your generosity.

You learn from your own attempts to edit, but boy do you learn from having someone else's perspective.  Here's what I have discovered:

1) I can write a pretty good story and I can write it well. That's nice to know. 

2) My subconscious hates the word "though". I omit it all the time, unintentionally. What's that about? Does everyone have a word like that? 

3) I overdo was and were. I need to get more direct and active, and less passive. Now I'm doing searches to look for the (many incidents) of was and were and eradicating them where appropriate. 

4) I love my em-dashes (and I do, it's true). Maybe a little too much. Apparently, you can have too much of a good thing.

5) You can nearly always find a stronger word. Hit can become slammed. Tuning up your vocab has an instant impact. It's startling the difference it can make to a scene. 

6) I haven't a clue where to put in chapter breaks. Luckily others do. I am learning. And what I am learning is I can stick them wherever feels natural and right. I don't have to wait until 4,000 words. I can have a really short chapter if I like. It's up to me. 

7) I like a little colloquial dialect, but I don't like too much. I'm struggling with this a little. My protagonist is known to have an Irish lilt, and if I properly expressed that brogue, his voice would be unmistakable. But, with the glorious exception of Alan Garner's Weirdstone of Brisingamen, i'm really put off by more than a hint of an accent. To me, it feels like a caricature. That's something I need to balance and I don't think I've got that right yet.

8) Just because I have a whole world in my head doesn't mean other people do. I need to strike a balance between not being too obscure and not giving too much away - so people can follow what's happening and why. 

9) Sometimes I don't agree stylistically and that's okay. It's my novel, I guess. So as long as I'm not missing out words or over proliferating em-dashes, I can keep the odd turn of phrase just because I like it.  

I'm slowly ploughing through my edits and I've already plotted two sequels. Plotted being the operative word. I HAVE PLOTTED.  For me, this is revolutionary. I don't plot. I get lost. 

But this is exciting. 

As a side note, revisiting His Dark Soul I can't help but notice some themes and influences:

Ray Harryhausen - I'm pretty sure I've blogged before about how my love of classics started with Ray Harryhausens's Clash of the Titans and Jason and the Argonauts. I've just realised that some of my scary places in my novels are massively influenced by him.

Madness. God, I love to write about madness!

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Fundraising and Rights Balancing-what does it really mean?

This time last year my nephew Adam was desperately ill. 
We were just starting to understand that maybe, for him, there wasn't going to be a cure. That his cancer had moved too far, too fast for medical trials to keep up. 
He died on 11 March, a month before his 18th birthday. He had had Burkitt’s Lymphoma for more than two years at that time. 

His dad, Richard, has just published two blog posts marking the first anniversary of Adam’s death. One is Adam’s gift to the world—a list of 35 books that he and his dad thought everyone should grow up with. Adam was a major bookworm. 
Cancer is one experience over which you have very little control. Bereavement is another. As Richard writes, “People talk about ‘fighting’ cancer, but most patients and their families are unable to land a punch—it’s not in their power to do so.”
During Adam’s illness—and after his death—fundraising has been a way to focus some of that experience to achieve something positive in the world. Adam wanted something to come of his experience. Fundraising has been one way of achieving that.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Love thy neighbour: community fundraising to trend in 2017?

2017. What does this year have in store? Well, we all know last year wasn’t great – globally, politically, personally for many…and in fundraising. What does the future hold? Well no-one can be sure, but I have been thinking about it a lot. How can I be better and work smarter? How can we as a work-force achieve our aims and improve our reputation?

Image result for 2017 year ahead?

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Spending a penny

This weekend I visited a new arts venue, The Poly in Falmouth.

I wanted to share something I spotted which should encourage us to ask, are we taking every opportunity to ask people to support our work?

The Poly certainly are, because whilst using their facilities (as a fully captive audience) I spotted this on the back of the door.


Family Fortunes Major Gifts Style

A few weeks ago I faced a dawning sense of panic. I due to speak at the Institute of Fundraising Conference Scottish Conference on the topic of Major Gifts and I had nothing left to say.

I'd talked about setting Major Gifts programmes up from scratch.

I'd talked about Major Gifts for the small organisation.

I'd talked about Building a Case for Support and Making the Ask.

I'd talked a lot (I do that, given half a chance).

So on this occasion I decided to spread the load. I sent out an appeal to the amazing Major Gifts fundraisers in my network and asked them to answer five important questions. No less than 25 of them responded.

Remember Les Dennis in Family Fortunes? Well get yourself in that mindset because here...we... go...!

I asked...
Our survey said... 

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

The importance of being busy...and being not busy

I recently returned to work after a lovely, relaxing holiday. I had no wifi while I was away for the first time in forever, and despite the irritation at not being able to check the weather forecast for the next day (sunny) or how to get to the town (down the hill, aim for the sea), it gave me my first opportunity to reflect and think in such a long time.

I gorged on books and one of the reads recommended to me was “Reasons to stay alive” by Matt Haig about depression and what it feels like. I’m grateful to have not suffered from this debilitating disease myself, but one of the stories he recounted from a period of depression that really stood out to me was about a time that he had forced himself to go to the cornershop: it made him feel so incredibly awful:

Friday, 17 June 2016

Ways to succeed at a Fundraising Interview

You're nervous. Hell, I'm nervous and I'm sitting on the other side of the table. The recruiting side.

Yes, my friend, this is an interview.

Image by Dani Lurie via Flickr (CC)

First things first, you need to know that I'm rooting for you. You've put in a lot of effort to get this far - you've polished your CV, crafted your personal statement, got advice from your partner, your mum, the bloke next door. It's a few hours of your time - if you're dedicated, maybe even a whole weekend.

I know it's taken time and I appreciate.

It's taken me time too. It's taken a while to craft that job description and recruitment pack, to diarise interviews and craft questions which match up to the job specification and competencies. Then there's the sifting and shortlisting. That takes a while.

All in all it's taken us both a good deal of effort to get to this point, so I'm rooting for you. I want you to do your best because this is my one shot at finding the right person. If you've got the skills I need I want to know about them.

I need you to tell me about them. Because I can only go by what you say and do on the day.

On exercises...