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Oakbrook Creations

I have a new website: Oakbrook Creations. For a while now I’ve not been happy with using my own name and wanted something different. After much soul-searching, and debate, I decided to name the site after the fictional town of Oakbrook from my Portal novels. I hope you’ll visit.

Oakbrook Creations

The shop has moved over to Oakbrook, and there will be more content in time. But for now both sites will run side by side.

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The scary part

In 2005 I wrote a book. I thought that was the scary part. I was so wrong. Writing an entire novel was terrifying, sure. But was in no way as frightening as letting someone else read it!

scary part

Then last year, 14 years later, I picked that novel up again and was shocked. It was messy, large sections had no place in the story. And some of the writing was abysmal.

I’ve not been completely happy with it for a while and decided to rewrite it completely. I tackled most of it during November, as part of the NaNoWriMo challenge that I’ve done for a number of years. When I reached the final chapter, I stalled.

So much had been changed, and I was more focussed on character motivation, and what drove them. The end needed to remain the same, or mostly the same, but I couldn’t get past that block. So I set it aside again. So many distractions to occupy my writing time, but Lily and Kate were there, at the back of my mind.

Half-term came, another couple of months on, with time at home and a week off work. I had space and time to work on it, so I made myself sit and finish the rewrite! I must have gone through the document 4 or 5 times, and the narrative is now 20k words shorter than it was. But I am happier with it, I think.

So, the really, truly, scary part? Now it’s done, I need fresh eyes on it. So, the unpolished document is now out with a trusted few friends who will read it and, I hope, give me some honest feedback.

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Rewrites are evil

For NaNo2019 I decided to be a rebel. I’ve not been completely happy with the Portal series for a long time, and NaNo gave me the push to start work. Can I say, rewrites are evil.

The best way to rewrite a piece, is to literally start with a fresh document and write the story again. So, that’s what I did. In proper NaNo tradition, I opened a blank document on the first of November and started writing. I knew the characters, the story, this should be easy, right? I even had a new cover, that needs changing too.

rewrites are evil

But no, it was hard, really, really, hard. I came across poor writing, did I really think that was good? There were whole sections of filler, pointless action that gave nothing to the plot or characters. I deleted more than I wrote. Characters no longer exist, characters changed gender, appearance. Relationships morphed into something different. Plot development scenes moved in the timeline. Place names needed to be changed when I realised my fictional town actually exists. Sorry, Wingate. With each change, tiny or huge, came an avalanche of other changes.

The sheer volume of characters proved impossible to balance, so several got culled. Some were simply superfluous. Other characters from later in the story would have been present, so they got an earlier introduction. More had to be given more depth, more identity.

It’s like writing the first book from scratch, again, with someone looking over your shoulder and telling you it’s wrong. The cascade of changes ripples through the narrative, washing away large sections, changing the course of the story.

Rewrites are evil, but necessary. I think I have a better book. It’s shorter, by about 20,000 words. In a couple of days it’ll be ready to send out to the first readers, trusted friends who will give an honest opinion.

I’m half expecting, “you changed it, I don’t like it.” But we will see. With luck, the new edition could be ready for release later this year. Then those snowball changes mean the other books will need to be rewritten too. Wish me luck.

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And onto a different design

As you may have noticed, there are some new notebooks listed in the shop. These are mostly covered in pages and sections taken from a UK roadmap. But now, I think it’s time to make some with a different design.

The roadmap notebooks are so much fun to make, and look amazing when finished. But I want to show more variety in my work. So, I’m starting work on some using wallpaper for the cover, and some using fabric. Both are incredibly tactile, and that is part of the joy of a notebook.

Each notebook is made from reclaimed, or upcycled materials. The only thing that is new is the glue!

Because each notebook is made individually, every single one is unique. If you go ahead and buy one, you can be 100% certain that no-one will have the same book, anywhere in the world. As a result, although the idea may be similar, every notebook made will have a different design.

If you have any ideas, please share them, I’d love to hear from you.

different design

And now to try to work out why my products and posts have mysteriously stopped sharing to my Twitter and Facebook. Everything was sharing automatically until the end of December, and now it isn’t. I haven’t changed any settings, I can’t find that anything has been changed by any updates (which sometimes happens). At the moment, not a clue… As always, if you have any thoughts, any clues, please do let me know!

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Roadmap Notebooks

That’s the first batch of Roadmap Notebooks added to the website store. There are various sizes, with either narrow or standard lined notebook pages.

Roadmap Notebooks

Each book is hand crafted. The pages trimmed from recycled sources that include part used notebooks, out of date diaries. The covers are made from card scavenged from cereal packets, product boxes, trimmed from the covers of the diaries and notebooks. Covered with carefully selected pages from an out of date roadmap, the only part purchased new was the glue!

These roadmap notebooks are recycling at its best. Every part (other than the glue) would have been thrown away, probably gone to landfill. But they have been given a new lease of life as handy notebooks.

From the tiny pocket sized books, to the larger ones there will be a size to suit your needs. With most materials gifted, scavenged, or otherwise sourced, the prices can be kept really low to suit your pocket too.

I’m hoping that I can start some direct sales via this site, as I’d much rather be dealing with you all in person instead of through a third party like ebay. But It’s an experiment, if you feel the same, let me know, or purchase a notebook or card.

So, what are you waiting for? Start your 2020 with a roadmap notebook, record your journey…

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