Editing The Paradise Swarm

As you may have seen on twitter a few weeks back, I finished the first draft of The Paradise Swarm. It’s riddled with plot holes and doesn’t quite have an ending, but it’s done! Honestly, I was starting to doubt I would actually get even this far.

I’ve taken a couple of weeks off, and now it’s time to whip that novel into shape. I know editing makes some writers want to tear their own hair out, but I enjoy the process immensely. Being able to take the book apart and put it back together again better to make it look like I was really smart in the first place is just exhilarating.

Anyway, Phase One of Operation Editing is to read the novel critically and make notes. I’m putting the manuscript through Holly Lisle’s How To Revise Your Novel course, which I tried once before and found really useful. It’s an in-depth course which is going to take a long time to work through, but I know it’ll make the book heaps better.

So far, I’ve made notes on the first six chapters and I’ve found some stuff there that’s not too shabby. Of course, there is a lot that needs fixing (specifically, a lot that is not at all subtle), but by and large, it’s not as bad as I thought it would be. I can’t lie, the amount of changes to be made is slightly terrifying.

Here are a few things I know for a fact I’ll have to do:

  • Re-write at least two chapters in a different PoV, most likely many more than that.
  • Write in the characters’ motivations and reasoning for deciding to work together. Currently the reasoning is very obviously “So that plot can happen” and that’s not going to fly.
  • Add all the things that my past self put in brackets for my future self to add in. Darn past self, I hate her.
  • Fix the made up science! Luckily as the novel happens in the 1850s, it’s okay for the characters not to properly understand the made-up science.

EEP!! So much work to do! I’m going to see my family in a few days and flying out early in the morning. I’m hoping to get some work done as I’m travelling and while I’m on holidays.

Please let me know if you’ve got any advice from your own editing experience, or if you know any good resources I should check out! And wish me luck…


2014 Costuming Projects!

It’s the customary New Year’s post, and as most of my resolutions are the exact same as last year, I won’t bore you with that. Instead, I want to talk about my costuming projects for the upcoming convention & events season.

In 2013, I attended my first residential conventions, and one of my favourite things about Nine Worlds in particular was the amount of costuming there. I had a blast wearing a Steampunk outfit on the Saturday and my Sally Skellington cosplay on the Sunday. I even placed third in the cosplay contest! So, I’m really excited to be attending again. The post-con blues will even be delayed this time, as I’m going to WorldCon the weekend after NineWorlds!

Sidenote: I am SO EXCITED about WorldCon, it’s ridiculous. Expect to hear me talk your ear off about it, because I’m also volunteering with them and I’m really, really jazzed about working with the LonCon3 staff. Anyway, COSTUMES!

NineWorlds and LonCon together represent eight days of con goodness. I seriously wish I had the time to make eight outfits, but that would be way too much work. Instead, here are my plans, vague as they are so far:

Steampunk Costumes

One of my favourite things about steampunk outfits is that they allow so much freedom and creativity, and of course making a character is part of the fun. I want to build more things from scratch or from recuperated bits and bobs. The aim is to focus on a few bigger pieces (maybe a corset, a skirt and a pair of trousers). Adding various accessories to that should allow me to assemble different costumes from these – I’ve got lots of ideas and I’ll be posting about them in more details soon!

Xena Warrior Princess

A few years back, a friend of mine organised a lasertag birthday party where guests had to come dressed as princesses. So obviously I went for Xena because I had way too much time on my hands. I spent AGES making the costume out of pleather handbags from the charity shop and various other things I had lying around. Sadly, one intense session of lasertag absolutely ruined it (though we all had an AWESOME time), but I’d like to make a new one, including:

  • A corset – I actually tried to MAKE this last time and I only barely managed to get something that didn’t fall apart. For the long run, I definitely think buying a plain brown leather effect corset will be the best way to go. There will still be lots of customising to do though.
  • The skirt with the MANY flaps – This was long to make, but actually pretty good fun too, so I’m definitely making it again. The process I used worked pretty well, so I’ll do the same again and hopefully I can photograph or film it for interwebs posterity.
  • The ARMOURED BITS!! – This is honestly what I’m most excited about making. Xena wears a really nifty breastplate that ties around her back with many buckles, as well as armoured upper-arm bands and gauntlets, plus studded boots in some references. I failed miserably when I tried to make these out of pleather and cardboard, but I cannot wait to try these out again with Worbla or Wonderflex.
  • The Chakram – I’m also very excited about the chakram too! It’s such a recognisable weapon, and it looks like it wouldn’t be too difficult to make. I’m also looking forward to the painting job on it.

Sally Skellington

This costume is comfy to wear and already finished, so it’s definitely coming with me to both Cons. I also like that it can worn as a more or less ‘going all out’ cosplay depending on the style of makeup used. It still needs some more work though, I’ve been thinking of a few things I could do to improve it:

  • Finishing touches – Add visible stitching all the way to the back; go over hand-drawn designs (polka dots, pinstripes, etc…) with screen printing fabric ink and heat set to prevent designs running out in the wash; possibly take in for size, though I don’t know if that will be necessary.
  • Make new arms and legs – These are constructed out of white tights, meaning that they tear and smudge easily and the previous arms/legs are now pretty ugly, after having been worn only three times. The plan is to saw on the stitches design instead of drawing it on.
  • Construct a ‘sew thyself up’ mechanism – in the film, Sally fixes herself up when her limbs get taken off. My big addition to the costume this year will be fake ‘wound’ with stuffing fibres coming out of it, allowing me to pretend re-sew my arm with a big fake needle.  I have an idea that liquid latex will be involved.
  • Make a prop – some kind of container I can keep my stuff in, maybe an upcycled basket, or a fancy jar of some description.  I always think it’s a shame when I’ve spent time on a costume and the effect is ruined by a mundane handbag.


Briar Wilkes, daughter of a folk hero and widow of the criminal mastermind responsible for the zombie plague, embarks on a rescue mission when her teenage son Zeke sneaks into the walled city of Seattle.

Briar & Zeke must navigate the underground labyrinth Seattle has become, decide who they can afford to trust, and stay alive long enough to find each other & get back home safely.

Cherie Priest’s Boneshaker came up first when I searched ‘Steampunk’ on Audible. I’ve been trying to read and watch more Steampunk lately, to get a better idea of the genre hopefully some inspiration for The Paradise Swarm.

I remembered hearing very positive feedback about Boneshaker on a couple of podcasts I follow, I really loved the cover, and saw that Wil Wheaton was one of the narrators. That’s pretty much all it takes to make me click ‘Add to basket’, Wil Wheaton is a damn good narrator, and did I mention the cover?

The story is extremely engaging from the beginning, Briar’s very relatable motivation to find her son brings urgency and tension to the narrative, and the cluelessness displayed from Zeke’s point of view only reinforces it. This is the book for you if you want to read dual point of views, deceiving appearances and partly unreliable narrators done right.

There is a great other-wordly dimension to the setting throughout, plus a rich and intriguing lore, supported by airships, gas masks, pirates, mechanical body parts, evil geniuses and zombies galore.

The cast of secondary characters was impressive, and I especially loved the moments when neither the reader nor the character knows who to trust for certain.

I was especially struck by the feeling of imminent danger that was ever present throughout the book from the setting and environment. Most of the action takes place in tunnels underneath the city, as the simple act of going above ground is so dangerous. The idea that walking in the street is such a deadly enterprise particularly inspired me to ramp up the tension and danger in my own writing.

I am now waiting impatiently for my next Audible credit so I can buy the sequel, in which we follow an airship captain.