Walking A Tangled Path

img_2083I’ve been a bit quiet on the blog front of late. Partly because I think I’m still recovering from the Thirty Day Writing Challenge, partly because I’ve actually been recovering from a nasty lingering cold that’s been running rampant around here (even the Queen had it), and partly because I’ve been trying to untangle the structure of Under Stone, the fourth book in my Ambeth series.

I wrote the first draft of Under Stone more than three years ago. Since then it’s undergone quite a few edits and rewrites, then was sidelined for a while as I worked on other projects. Now that A Thousand Rooms is out I’m free to roam the forests once more, but the path to this story is still quite tangled.

As the fourth book in the series, Under Stone pulls together a lot of the plot lines set out in books one to three, so I’ve had to do a quick re-read of those books and make sure that I’ve covered everything. Even though Ambeth, the characters, their motivations and their plot lines all live in my head, there are small details I’ve added here and there that I need to keep track of. So far, so good. However, the story itself also needed re-ordering, so I’ve been shuffling scenes around and, in some cases, deleting them.

Making this slightly more complex is the fact that Ambeth deals with multiple character viewpoints. I know, right? A six book series told from the point of view of multiple characters. *shakes head* Also there’s a time twisting element, which sometimes is useful and sometimes really annoying (for the writer), as I have to keep track of what is happening when in two different worlds. But oh, I love it. I love the stories and the characters, and I love it when it all comes together and I can feel the flow. I guess that’s part of the reason I write, for that feeling – it’s a little bit like joy.

I think I’m pretty close to being done now. In fact, I’m hoping I might even be able to get it out to beta readers by the end of this month. So I’ll continue to slash and burn, moving branches and reshuffling scenes, forging a new path through the tangles in the hope I reach my destination soon.

How about you? When you write a story, do you then play around with the order of events to get the best flow? And, if you’ve written a series, how do you keep track of everything? (Notes. It’s notes, isn’t it? I really ought to make more notes when I’m writing.)


If you enjoyed this post, you can find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJ,  Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus my latest book release, A Thousand Rooms, is now available on Amazon.

 

Cleaning House

img_1322I don’t like cleaning. I really don’t. I can think of about a million things I’d rather do than dust and scrub and sweep. However, I do like a clean house, so, until I start selling loads and loads of books and can afford to hire a cleaner, for now the job falls (mostly) to me.

Today I had a free day, a rare beast at this time of year. And I chose, among other things, to do some cleaning. I know, right?! Have I gone mad?? But it was rather specific cleaning. I decided that it was time to tackle the piles of paper taking on rather alarming proportions on my desk. In fact, they had expanded to the windowsill and even the floor, and it was all feeling a bit crowded and cluttered in my tiny study. I know I’ve written previously about the chaotic way I take notes and manage my plans, but every so often I do like to get things in order, otherwise I think my family might find me one day buried under a fluttering piles of paper scraps and sticky notes, whimpering softly. So I moved everything out of the study and started to sort through it.

And what did I find?

A couple of short story notes, a page of Ambeth ideas, some scribbles about Silver and Black. An email from a friend that I’d missed, some drawings from my daughter plus a poem she’d written about me (the best!), three notebooks, some empty file sleeves (now put to use holding those story ideas), a couple of photographs, and some reference notes about publications looking for short stories. I also found dust and picture hooks and pens and sharpeners, a nail file and some (clean) tissues. Papers that should have gone in the bin ages ago, plus more papers that needed to be filed. A reminder to do my taxes, an invitation needing a reply, and a couple of receipts.

img_3731So I filed and sorted and threw away, and now I have a desk much cleaner and clearer than before, a nice space in which to get back to work. I’ve been trying to sort out my next Ambeth book and am hoping this will create the space for me to do so, both physically and mentally.

Which leads to the one sort of cleaning I don’t mind doing. Meditation. For me it’s the mental equivalent of clearing out my desk. I realise it’s not for everyone – it’s just something that happens to work for me. I miss it when I don’t do it, and I feel calmer when I do. Even just a few minutes each day makes a difference. I find when I sit and let thoughts tumble through my mind I can then decide, in a space of calmness, whether to keep them, file them, or let them go. And then, once things are clear and sorted, I’m free to focus elsewhere.

img_0938It’s evening now. I wasn’t planning on writing a blog post, yet here I am, sitting at my nice clean desk, words appearing on the page. I think, despite my aversion, doing a little cleaning can sometimes be a good thing.

Happy weekend, everyone!


You can find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJ, and check our my Facebook Page, Instagram and Pinterest Page for book info, photos, blogs and more.

Plus check out my latest release, A Thousand Rooms, now available on Amazon.