Welcome to my blog - a collection of thoughts and musings on the world of writing, books and all those wordy type things.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

How Do You Cope With Christmas and Writing?

Quick question for the festive season - what do you all do when it comes to Christmas and writing? Do you just accept that with guests and visiting others, and a general propensity to over eat and then subsequently snooze at unusual times, that writing will take a back seat for a few days whilst you spend some quality and (hopefully!) peaceful, joyous times with family and friends? Or do you still endeavour to cram some in, even if that's at 2am when everyone else has gone to bed (or is still playing rather vile shoot-em-ups on a games console?) And if you don't manage to get some writing in, do you feel guilty about it?

I'd love to hear your views on this, and any tips you may have for squeezing writing in, and squeezing the guilt out when you just don't have the time or opportunity.
In the meantime, Merry Christmas!

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Sunday Post

There's been a bit of a gap since the last post, and apologies for that. I've been pretty poorly with a stinker of a cold which is still hanging on and trying to decide whether to develop into a chest infection. The last week or so has been pretty much a washout in getting anything, writing or otherwise, done. Not ideal when I still have stuff to get ready for Christmas either.

So, today's is just a short post and puts the above into perspective. So, I'm a bit behind. Big deal. The horrors of the school shooting in the US this week are beyond anything I can write on here. I am not about to get political or religious. It's not about that, and I hope that those in charge finally see that those aren't the important issues here. This was not a one off. And something needs to be done. I only hope that something can.

Rest In Peace little children, and brave teachers. You did not deserve your fate.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Research and Editing

I tend to be a 'one project at a time' kind of girl. It just works best for me, whether it is writing, paper crafting, sewing or whatever. I'm pretty easily distracted anyway (the times I've walked in and found the dishwasher half emptied and thought, 'Ohhhh right, I was doing that, wasn't I?' I can't tell you), so having all my focus on one thing is my preference.

But sometimes. especially when it comes to writing, it just doesn't work like that. There are articles to write, pitches to make and books to get on with. And I just have to adapt.

I have a couple of (main) projects on the go at the moment. One is starting the research for a non fiction book and the other is editing a novel I wrote some time back. I really liked it but things happened and nothing was ever really done with it. With the benefit of having been away from it for a long while, I've now started going back over and making a few changes. I think there will probably be more than I originally thought so the timescale I'd estimated might go over too but what can you do? If it needs doing, it needs doing right!

The other is starting to generate what will likely be quite a lot of research....

I'm wondering how others collate their research, in order to keep it accessible. Do you keep it all on computer or print it out or both or - shock! - hand write it? Although I've written a previous book (different subject), and various articles, I'm just pondering as to whether my method is the most efficient.
I'd love to hear others input on how you work best when it comes to research. Please do leave me a comment below.
Thanks for reading. 

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Writing A Good Baddie

It's often said that 'baddies' can be the most fun to write, and if the latest offering from the James Bond stable, 'Skyfall' is anything to go by, the writers must have had an absolute ball!

And don't worry, there are no spoilers here!

Silva has the required sinister undertones (and shockingly bad hair) for a satisfying baddie but he also had a personality. Albeit one with a rather warped view of things but it's still there for all to see. He isn't just nasty for nasty's sake. He isn't a caricature of a baddie as some have been - Jonathan Pryce's media mogul in 'Tomorrow Never Dies', springs to mind for that one. Unlike that film, Skyfall's writers have actually managed to create a likeable baddie. It's fun when he's on screen, even though he's doing terrible things - we want to see what he's going to get up to next - and how he's going to react to the attempts to thwart him. Of course, credit must go to Javier Bardem for making those writers' words come to life so well.

Of course, we have to be careful not to make the badddie TOO likeable. We don't want him to succeed in his dastardly plan after all! But we do want him (or her!) to be interesting, and we do want him to be an admirable and worthy opponent for our hero (or heroine). If our hero is a genius and the baddie can barely remember his own name, it's hardly a challenge. Of course we want things to end well, but a bit of struggle, whether that be mental, physical or both, to get to that point is required to make us want to keep turning the page (or watching the film).

I'd highly recommend taking a trip to see 'Skyfall' if you haven't already for a chance to see a really 'good' baddie!

So, any favourite baddies spring to mind for you?

Friday, 9 November 2012

Does a Change of Scenery Help Your Writing? (or Breaking Through The Blah)

This is a subject I often ponder on. My first novel - at least the first draft - was written almost completely whilst accompanying my husband on a long business trip abroad years ago. There was of course the added benefit that I was pretty much able to concentrate just on that, and not worry about doing the housework or wondering what to prepare for tea, but I definitely think that the change of scenery added a boost of inspiration.

Although the exotic tag-alongs are now in the past, I still try and do something on a (much!) smaller scale if I'm feeling a bit blocked, distracted or just blah. I follow the tried and tested method of many a writer and find a café.

Even though there's background noise (which at home I don't like), just the impetus of moving and putting myself somewhere else for an hour or so often gives me the push I need to get on and write, edit or just study something I've been meaning to for a while. And actually getting something done usually fires up the enthusiasm for getting more done when I'm back at home.

So, if you feel you're flagging a bit in the enthusiasm department, take a stroll or drive to a different location - it doesn't have to be a café - and see if the change of scene helps you break through the blah.

Does anyone have a favourite place they go to? I'd love to hear! Feel free to leave a comment below.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Chasing Up and Sweet Stuff

This week I have been chasing up some pitches I put out a couple of weeks ago. This is one thing that I don't like about writing - all the delays that can be incurred when waiting for a response on a pitch. Obviously it is best to just keep putting pitches out there, and not just wait on a few but either way, I still find it very frustrating. So, we shall see if this week's chases move anything along. In the meantime, I have another one to just polish and then send out today. Fingers crossed for that one!

Now, a few weeks ago, the lovely Carol was kind enough to give me a Super Sweet Blogging Award. This honour requests the answer to some sweet little questions so here goes:

Cookies or Cake?
Hmm, cake methinks, but I am partial to Party Ring and chocolate digestive biccies

Chocolate or Vanilla?
Chocolate please!

What is your favourite sweet treat?
I do love a Creme Egg

When do you crave sweet things the most?
Usually when there aren't any in the house

If you had a sweet nickname, what would it be?
Well, my Talkback name is Sweetpea,..

Thanks, Carol for the award, and now to pass it on. I would like to nominate Emma, Lori, and Lizy

Monday, 29 October 2012

To Nano or Not To Nano

That is the question...well, it is for a lot of people around this time of year. NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month and the idea is that you write 50,000 words - effectively a short novel, or at least a good chunk of an average size one, within the month of November.

It's not an easy task and I am yet to take part - although I did get very close to it in 2007 but things sort of fell apart and it went by the wayside. There is always something else going on around that time, it seems. But I would like to do it one day - just because. I haven't decided whether to take part this year. I'm thinking probably not just because there are others things that need my attention and if I do it, I really want to do it and not just have a half hearted attempt.

There does seem to be a lot more snobbery around this year about Nanowrimo, which is a shame. I don't know where that's come from, and why. It's a fun thing to do - but it is hard word and I admire those that do complete it. No-one for a minute imagines that what they produce in that mad, mayhem filled, Red Bull fuelled month is worthy of publication. That's not the point. It's a challenge and it is a starting point. A starting point for something that, with a lot more work, and a lot more editing, may in time become something worthy of publication.

So , are you taking part in Nanowrimo this year? And if so, why? And if not, why not?

One last thing about November - it is also the month for Movember - you grow a moustache during the month of November, getting sponsorship along the way. It's all in an effort to raise awareness and funds for mens' cancer, specifically prostate and testicular. I'm sure you'll agree it's a great cause and I'm proud to say that my hubby and his business partner at Advance Helicopters are taking part this year. Please feel free to offer your support, and any donation, if you are able - there's more about it on their Movember page here. Weekly updates will be posted, of course!

Monday, 15 October 2012

Back Home Again

As John Denver would have said, I'm Back Home Again. We finally took a much deserved and much needed break after several years of not having one. And nope, it wasn't some sun soaked island in the Tropics, it was something far more interesting!

We took a bit of a literary break. Sort of. Having booked off just under a week to mooch about, we set off early on a Monday morning to visit The Harry Potter Studio Tour. I had no idea this even existed until a short time ago when I saw a scrapbook page about it on Shimelle's blog. It only opened in June this year and features some of the actual sets, props and technology used in the enormously successful films. One point that had me erring on the decision as to whether to go or not was the price. It is expensive to get in. Much too expensive. The only reason we did it was because this was our first proper break in 7 years.

Once inside, there is a lot to see. We didn't opt for the audio tour headphones that you can borrow (for a fee!) or the guidebook and found that we didn't miss out. There are a lot of information boards and videos around that give you plenty of guidance. It's well done and fun and even if you're not a total HP nut, it's very enjoyable. But there is that price, and this extends to the gift shop - which is huge! Everything was over priced and, in my opinion, not great quality at all. Throughout the week we visited several other places and all their items were about half the price of the items at this tour. With the amount of people that will go through that tour, and buy items, I think it's a little on the greedy side to charge £28 for an entrance fee for a 3 hour tour. But, having said all that, it was interesting, and fun and if you want to treat yourself, then I think you'll enjoy it.

Throughout the week, we visited Chatsworth, which I can't recommend highly enough. I'd wanted to see it for years, it having been alluded to being the 'Pemberley' Jane Austen had in mind when she wrote Pride & Prejudice. Then of course, it was used for that very setting in the 2005 film of the very same. We spent about 5 hours there, and had a really lovely day. It's a beautiful house, with a real feeling of being a home, despite its size, and the gardens are wonderful, even this late in the year.

Other points of interest were Lyme Park, another 'Pemberley', this time in the BBCs 1995 version, as well as the Bronte Parsonage. This was full of interesting bits and bobs, such as Charlotte's glasses and some clothing - goodness, she had the tiniest feet! It really struck us that we were walking around a house that held such incredible talents, but that all their lives were cut so short, and so tragically. The day we visited, it was a misty, Autumnal morning with a definite chill in the air - all of which seemed to add to the atmosphere of the house. Leaving Haworth we drove over the moors and, although it wasn't the most ideal weather we had in mind, it was easy to imagine Heathcliffe, Cathy and Jane Eyre running across these landscapes.

One of our visits had less of a literary bent, but was nonetheless interesting if you find yourself in Yorkshire on a rainy day, and this was the National Media Museum. We'd been watching 'Who Do You Think You Are' the evening before and Alex Kingston went to the museum to find out more about her grandfather, who had been a photographer. It had the most amazing collection of photography paraphenalia, and has a great amount of information not just on that, but on film, the internet, tv and video games. And for anyone who grew up watching Playschool, let's see if you can name any of these....

Right, well I was going to upload a photo there but it seems Blogger now doesn't want to let its users put images in via the HTML method now, having already seemingly disabled the 'Compose' method some months ago. Come on, Blogger! Get it sorted, please!

So, having dallied about with Harry Potter, Jane Austen, the Bronte's, we came to the conclusion that all the places we went to were well worth a visit, but out of everything, I think Chatsworth comes top of my list.

If you're reading this, thanks for your patience with the gap. Apart from the break, there are some other background things going on, but I'm hoping to get back into the blogging swing alongside them.

Also, the lovely Carol has given me a 'Super Sweet Blogging Award' - thank you, Carol! I will be passing this on via a post shortly!

I'd love to hear if any readers have visited some of the places mentioned above, and what they thought of them. Feel free to leave a comment below! Thanks!

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Feeling Inspired

Earlier this week, I read Simon Whaley's excellent  Simon Says blog and he was describing how he's started a 'morning pages' routine. Each morning he writes three pages in his notebook. It doesn't have to be 'writerly' stuff, just anything that's rattling around in the brain. And so far, he's found it very productive, having been able to pick out ideas from each session.

This is definitely something I'm going to try. But it also got me on to wondering what else provides inspiration for writers. I don't just mean, going for long walks and the rhythmic crashing of the waves against the shoreline, I mean other things, like the above exercise. For myself, I know that diving into a copy of Writing Magazine or Freelance Market News usually gets me fired up to get stuck into something, even if it's only a reader letter - it's still writing!

Watching a great film that's been cleverly written is also another one, as is reading a good book. If you haven't seen 'Stranger Than Fiction', you should really try and see it. It's very clever and there are some fabulous lines in it. It's definitely one that makes me go 'Oh, I wish I'd written that!' It also features a writer, which is something else that tends to interest me and get the writing brain chugging away. Who'd have thought?

So, what gets you fired up and reaching for the pen or keyboard?

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Where Do I Start?

Someone asked me on Twitter (@Scribbler_Maxi) this week how you go about getting a book published. They had written a children's book and wanted to know where to go from there.

It was a good question, and one many writers ask at some point, once we've gone through the slog of writing our opus. It used to be a fairly straightforward answer - you apply to every agent who deals with that subject and hope for the best, or words to that effect.

But in today's world where publishing is changing, there are now more choices for authors. I think, deep down (or even not so deep!) we all that acceptance and push from a big publishing house but it's pretty hard to get there. Not that that should ever stop you trying.

However, if you really can't face any more agent letters saying 'Thanks, but no thanks' or even no reply at all, or just don't want to go through all that palaver in the first place, there's now more choice. Ebooks, POD companies like Lulu and even some publishers who put calls out inviting authors to submit their work. These sort of markets are often found in writing magazines like
Freelance Market News (FMN) and Writing Magazine . The latter currently has a free digital trial issue available.

These magazines are invaluable for keeping in touch with what's going on in the publishing world, not to mention inspirational and full of advice. My non fiction book came out from a snippet in one of these, where the publisher had advised he was looking for more books in the series.

The other advice I gave was to get hold of a copy of the Children's Writers' Yearbook. The Internet is great for many things, but I always get a copy of the Writers' and Artists' Yearbook, not only for the lists of agents and publishers but also for the articles published in there. Yes, print books can become out of date even before they've hit the shelves, but these books are a really good basis to start from. Most companies will have a website listed within their listings, so just check on that to make sure the information is up to date. A manuscript addressed to an agent who no longer works there isn't the best first impression.

So, whilst the mainstream publishing route may well have got harder as companies get bought out and all seem to have leanings towards paying obnoxious advances to footballers and contestants on Big Brother for their 'life' stories, at least we no longer have to let the manuscript sit in a drawer gathering dust if we still really believe in it. There are plenty of bad self published books out there, just as there always has been, but there are really great ones now too!

Do you agree? Is the world of publishing better or worse for the more choices available these days?

Friday, 31 August 2012

Clearing Clutter - Do You Give Books Away?

I'm a firm believer in 'clearing the clutter'? Do not mistake me for a minimalist though - I probably still have as much 'stuff' as everyone else but I really don't get on if I'm surrounded by clutter. It seems to make my brain go a little bit wobbly so I try and make sure (nearly) everything has a place and that the 'stuff' doesn't get a chance to pile up too much.

Of course, this is the ideal and there are still plenty of days I'm looking a a pile of 'stuff' and thinking 'Now how did that happen?'. I do, however, take a small pleasure in sorting through said pile and either reducing or clearing it. It makes me happy, what can I say?

Now when it comes to books, I used to keep everything, pretty much. In a previous house, we took one wall of the dining room and fitted it entirely with shelves. Which I then fitted entirely with books. It looked fabulous and was definitely a talking point when anyone visited. I loved it. I could just go in and look at all my lovely books and it made me smile. When we moved from this house, we were going abroad and I had to reduce - dramatically. Although I still had plenty of boxes of books when I finished, (something the removal man just could not understand: 'Are you actually going to read all these?' he sighed. Hard to believe we were actually paying this bloke. At which point I would also add, if you value your books in the slightest, pack them yourself. Lesson learned.)

Both the local libraries and the charity shops did exceedingly well out of me from that move. Something which has continued. I probably buy less fiction than I did anyway, these days, preferring instead to try and support our support our libraries (and our bank account). I've also bought a few things on my Kindle which obviously takes up little room. But I also am now happy to give away any books that I just know I'm not going to read again.

I think this came in conjunction with the decision not to force myself through a book I'm not enjoying, something I wrote about here. What's the point in hanging onto a book you didn't enjoy, or didn't even finish? Most of my 'giveaways' now go to the Heart Foundation shop, primarily because my Mum volunteers there and it's easy to pass it on. So, not only am I making space in my house for a book that I do love, but I'm supporting a good cause. Like most things in life, just because a book isn't to your taste, doesn't mean it won't appeal to other peoples', so pass it on. Clear the clutter and do a good turn - and you can feel virtuous all day!

Do you give your books away, or can you just not bear tp part with any?

Sunday, 26 August 2012

The Daily Constitutional

I've come to notice a trend whenever I read interviews with writers, and writing blogs - something that a good majority of us do, and no, it's not procrastinate, but if we're honest, that's probably just as common.

No, the habit in question is that most writers make sure they take a walk at some point during the day, possibly accompanied by a pooch. I'm sure that having said animal looking up at you with doleful please-can-we-go-for-a-walk eyes, does do something to motivate one to getting up and on with it. It sort of gives a purpose to a walk. We no longer have a dog so it's up to me to provide my own motivation (not always easy!). And sometimes it takes a while, but I'm always glad I've made the effort when I get back.

(I was going to put a photo in here that I just took on my evening constitutional but Blogger has decided it doesn't want to play tonight, so words it is).

Walking gives you the chance to think - whether that's about what you're writing or something completely different. It also means a gentle workout for your body, as well as your mind. It's all too easy to stay inside and stare at a screen, especially when it's cold or rainy outside but I still try and make the effort, knowing that it's for the best - both mentally and physically.

Of course, there are days that you're not going to be able to fit it in -  you have to wait in for a delivery which has helpfully been scheduled 'between 8am and 8pm', you're not feeling well or it's absolutely bucketing and neither you, nor the dog is going to go out there without a boat. And that's ok. Don't feel guilty if you have to miss a day. It happens. Thanks to a medical condition, there are days when a walk for me just isn't possible, so I accept that and just try and make sure I get out when things feel better.

Any sort of exercise will do really. Sometimes my walk is replaced by gardening, or a cycle ride if I'm feeling really brave!

The main thing is just to get out and away from the keyboard for a bit. Let your mind wander, take in the sights and sounds of where you walk, whether it's city or countryside. You'll feel more energised and ready to get back to your WIP, and who knows, you may even come back with a new idea or two!

Happy walking!

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Rescue Remedy, Nice Surprises and Writing Competitions

A little while ago I had an article accepted by an outdoors magazine which it always jolly nice. Their planner was full for this year, so it was to be held over until sometime next year. However, as I stood waiting for something in Boots I heard my phone give an email ping. With nothing better to do at that very moment, I had a look. It was the notification of publication and payment - for this month's edition! Yippee! What a lovely surprise. Needless to say, I then whizzed up to Smiths' and got a copy.

So, if you're planning on visiting Tewkesbury, or the surrounding area of Gloucestershire, you'll find all you need to know in the August edition of MMM (Motorcaravan Motorhome Monthly) magazine.

On another note, the reason I was in Boots was to get some Rescue Remedy. I picked up a box, and then went to get another so I could get the offer. And it was empty. At the desk, I mentioned this, and they were kind enough to check the stock for me - as they did this, the assistant mentioned that it happened a lot with these as they aren't the cheapest. This was something most odd - as Monsieur Poirot would say. I mean, Rescue Remedy is to help calm the nerves. But surely if you're calm enough to steal something, it seems unlikely you are particularly troubled by stressful situations. Most strange.

And finally, I've just come across two competitions - one for fiction and two for poetry. Good luck!

* Write a bedtime story and win £500 here

* Two poetry competitions here

Friday, 3 August 2012

Favourite Authors - And Finding New Ones

I've a few favourite authors - the standards, like Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte but also more contemporary ones like Janet Evanovich, Jasper Fforde (although apologies to Mr Fforde, I am a little behind on his books at present), and, although he's slipped in my rankings a bit now, I had always bought Harlan Coben's books until the last one. I just didn't find 'Caught' as gripping as the previous ones and with the transition from Myron Bolitar to Mickey, it's just not really in my immediate realm of interest. Although I don't think that, with 50 million books in print, Mr Coben is really going to be too disappointed that a dot in England has 'gone off' his books a bit.

Another one that I read if I see it but no longer search for - at the moment - is Jennifer Crusie. I don't even remember how I came across this author but the first one I read of hers was 'Welcome to Temptation' which I totally loved - and have in fact read a few times. She has several others, but more recent offerings have been collaborations and whilst I'm not as critical as some of her literary 'hooking up' with other authors, such as Bob Meyer, I confess I enjoyed the earlier stuff more.

That's why I'm always excited to find a new 'favourite' author - and I seem to be now able to add another to the list in Carole Matthews. To coin a phrase, I realise I am a little late to the party with this one but I'm excited anyway. I actually went to the library to get out a Jilly Cooper - I confess I have never read one and thought I ought to, just to see what all the fuss was about. She always seems a fun and nice lady when I've seen her interviewed, and she's a big animal lover which goes a long way in my book. But when I pulled out the only one they had of hers, it was like a breeze block! And then in the front there were several pages of 'who's who'. I don't have the best concentration in the world as it is - if there's a plethora of pages about who's in it, I may well be floundering! I admit it. I panicked and put it back. Sorry, Jilly. I will try again another time, I promise.

So, what was I to do then? I have a tonne of books at home on the TBR shelf, but I was at the library then, and felt the need to get my little card beeped and walk away with a new book in my paws. I mooched up and down until my eyes landed on 'The Difference A Day Makes' by Carole Matthews. Being a Writing Magazine subscriber (and if you aren't and want to write, you should be!), I'd heard of Ms Matthews as her writing career was boosted into being by winning a short story writing competition hosted by said magazine. In short, she gives us lesser mortals hope. The book blurb mentioned a London family moving to Yorkshire and acquiring chickens, sheep and so on...I was sold.

I tootled home with the book and have just finished it. It was every bit as good as I hoped it would be. It's great fun but also deals with emotions, not enough to make you depressed, but enough to bring tears to your eyes (and cheeks, and chin if you're as much of a wimp as me!).

In short, I have a new author to add to my list of faves - and that makes me smile!

Any favourites that you have I should know about? I'd love to hear!

Monday, 23 July 2012

50 Shades of Go Away?

Is it just me, or is anyone else a little teed off with not being able to turn around without bumping into this book, or something related to it?

As always, there are fads of things, and I'm pretty sure this is just another one as the reviews I have seen aren't actually all that good. Possibly the subject matter is more the draw for some than the quality of writing. I can't comment on it personally as I haven't read it, and frankly, don't have an inclination to. Several years back when Dan Brown was the rage with his Catholic Church conspiracies, I decided to try The Da Vinci Code, just so that I wasn't slating it without basis. I wasn't. It was dreadful. In my opinion, anyway. When dialogue needs to be held up with scaffolding, then personally I don't think that's such a great book. But the huge hype was much the same and people bought it by the droves because it was the trend.

The other issue with this latest trend is that publishers are frantically looking elsewhere to see what they can sex up and sell as Erotica. And, apparently, they have no boundaries, because they are going for the Classics! Yes, on your local bookshop's shelves shortly will be erotic versions of truly wonderful books like Pride and Prejudice, Northanger Abbey and Jane Eyre - all great favourites of mine, and perfect just as they are! The relationships in them are of their time, although the feelings are just as relevant today. The moral and expected standards of the time heightened any emotions between the characters, exactly because they weren't able to just act on it! That's what makes us think - Oh! But he's nuts about you and he can't tell you! It drives us to keep turning the pages to see if he ever does get to tell her that - or her him.

Taking these wonderful classics and throwing them into the Erotica field is wrong in my opinion. I have absolutely nothing against the genre - but I think this is publishers taking an easy way out. There are plenty of great authors out there writing new erotica novels. Give them a chance instead!

I'm not slating 50 Shades of Grey, because I haven't read it. If you have, and enjoyed it, great! I'm just not a great fan of bookshops and publishers putting all their eggs onto one bandwagon - and trying to ruin wonderful books as they do it.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Getting Inspiration from TV...And What Not To Copy

I usually prefer to write without distraction but having said that, I do possess the ability to tune out if I need to. This knack comes from having once worked in an AV Company's service department. They were great lads, and I loved it, but believe me, there are times when you want to tune out from nine engineers (no offence, chaps!).

But back to my point, when I'm not writing but am doing something vaguely related (I like to think...), I am happy for some background diversion. One of these is the 'alibi' channel. It tends to show crime dramas, light and dark. Having had it on at times during the past couple of days, one forensic based show has caught my eye. The storylines are fine..as much as I've followed them, but the one thing that has caught my ear, if not my eye, is the amount of cliches in the script.

This is a glossy, American show and I'm hearing lines that would make many a writer go 'Eew!'. Me included. It has just amazed me that something that's clearly had plenty of money thrown at it, is brought down by some hackneyed dialogue. It just jars. And if it jars with me, how come it didn't sound trite, and naff to the team of writers?

In real life, people do use cliches, and we don't tend to think too much about it, but when a character on screen or on the page starts talking in them, unless it's a defining trait of theirs, it throws us out of the story, and whoops! there goes our suspension of disbelief.

There are certain programmes and films I would love to have written because the writing is great, but this particular one...hmm, I don't think so.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

The Delights of a Postcard

When was the last time you sent a postcard? Odd are, it probably wasn't that long ago. Even in the current age of social networking, email, instant messaging and text, there's something about writing, and sending off a pretty picture of the place you're visiting that still appeals to us.

I definitely think there's a pleasure in poring over the options, eventually choosing one and then finding a way of putting the most information in a very small space, without the need for the recipient to be holding a magnifying glass in order to read your holiday prose!

And of course, there's the joy of receiving postcards! Whose face doesn't light up when they see a brightly coloured card tucked in amongst all the white and beige envelopes that collect on the doormat each day. It's a break from the routine, and brings pleasure to us, knowing that whoever sent it took the time to sit down and write to us personally. It is for us alone, and not for the plethora of people who 'read' a Facebook wall. These words were thought up for us, written for us, and sent to us.

Let's hope that the postcard continues to live on, and continue to bring joy to both senders and receivers. And next time you're out, even in your own town, pick up a postcard and send it to someone, thereby brightening both your day, and theirs.

Are you a postcard fan? Please leave me a comment and let me know!

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Crime Writing Competition with Stylist magazine

Some of you may remember that I entered a couple of writing competitions earlier in the year. Sadly I didn't place anywhere, but I did get a buzz from the process of completing the entry and sending it off. That, in my opinion, is an accomplishment in itself.

In the wake of these entries, I decided to try and do some more, one of which is the crime writing competition, currently being run by Stylist magazine, in conjunction with Faber & Faber - you can find the details here. However, I've had a long think about it, and have made the decision not to enter.

One of their requirements is that the main protagonist is female. And whilst I have a main female protagonist, I think it could be argued that my other protagonist is very central - and he's male. I could easily see that some may argue he is, in fact, the main character, although that's not how I wrote it, or how I see it, but I'm not convinced others will agree.

There definitely seems a plethora of female led crime dramas around at the moment, both in books, and on the television. I have absolutely no objection to this. I just am beginning to wonder as to whether my choice of a male detective for my book might be a bit out of step with current choices and trends. Not that I am going to change it, because it's central to another thread of the story. And I like him.

So, that's my current thoughts on things - do you agree?

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

How do you write?

How do you write? I mean, physically? Do you bash out all the words straight onto your laptop, or desktop computer? Do you scribble notes in shorthand to transcribe later or do you write things out in longhand in a posh notebook, again to be typed up later (after some deciphering has taken place, if you're anything like me)?

My tendency to do a couple of these things, depending on where I am, and how accessible the laptop is (and whether it's behaving today). At times I write directly onto the computer. I like the fact that my fingers, generally, can keep up with my brain using this method. (I knew that Grade A in GCSE Typing would come in handy!). I'm also a fan of this way of working for the ease in which I can, with just a couple of clicks, find out just how many words have tumbled out onto the page in each writing session.

However, I do also work in the old fashioned way at times. I enjoy the tactile nature of the paper, flicking over the pages of a day's work has a satisfying feel, quite literally. I also like the fact that, so long as you have paper and pencil (or pen!), you can work almost anywhere. If you want to write by the pool, or on the beach whilst on holiday, you can! Your trusty notebook won't trouble you with glare (especially not once you start filling up those blank pages), it won't go flat just as you come up with a fantastic twist in your novel,    sand doesn't bother it and if you drop it, you can just pick it up again...unlike its electronic counterpart.

My hand written preference is for yellow legal pads and a soft lead pencil. The former means I can mentally distinguish and separate my 'proper writing' from any other scribbles, lists and notes I've made as I only use these for writing. They also stand out nicely from other paperwork when I'm wondering where I've put it this time! As for the pencil, I like the soft gliding motion of this type of pencil. Pens don't do it for me, and harder lead types are just too scratchy.

So, that's the way I work. How about you? I really enjoy hearing about other writers' methods and habits so please leave me a comment below. I've told you mine, now tell me yours!

Monday, 4 June 2012

Who first - Agent or Publisher?

I'm steeling myself for yet another round of that wonderful literary game 'Hunt The Publishing Contract'. As many of us know, this can be a dastardly tricky task, unless you've been on television for five minutes in which case it appears to suddenly get a lot easier...

It's actually a while since I've done this, and many things have changed in the industry over the past few years. With that in mind, I'm wondering as to what the general opinion is on who to approach first? It always used to be the standard that you generally needed an agent first, and to dare to approach a publisher direct was thought very bold. But is that still the case?

I've read so many differing reports of this in writing magazines, blogs and in the news that I'm really a bit confused. I can imagine that should a publisher actually pick up something I sent them, then finding an agent retrospectively would probably be a lot easier - but of course, it's getting someone to make that move in the first place at the publishing house.

I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences in this respect, so please feel free to leave me a comment below. I'd really appreciate it!

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Is There Anybody Out There? (and if not, am I wasting my time?)

I recently attended a webinar on blogging. It was free, and I'd never 'been' to one, so I thought, why not? I should point out now that I only actually caught half of it in the end, as it was being done from the States and with the time difference, ended up at tea time. And I have my priorities!

Something that I found quite interesting was that the chap running the webinar stated that if you don't have a lot of readers, then you're frankly, just wasting your time. His strategy was that you go and guest blog elsewhere on sites that have many thousands of readers, which when they read your superbly entertaining post, will then help entice them over to your blog too.

Now, I can see the logic there but I also have a couple of queries. One is how you get to be included as a guest on a very popular blog as there is probably already a large waiting list, and not all blogs want guest postings. The other is, just because you don't have many (or any?!) readers, does that automatically mean you're just wasting your time posting your thoughts, time after time?

I've been pondering over this question ever since the webinar, on and off, and have come to the conclusion that only you can answer that. Of course we all want plenty of people reading, and enjoying our blog, and doing little happy dances each time they see a new posting has been uploaded. But just because that might not be happening, does that mean that the whole exercise is just a waste of time? Not for me, no. And I would venture to say that goes for many people who blog. We do it to help improve our writing skills, to put into words the thoughts and questions that are tumbling about in our minds, and just for the enjoyment of creating something. Of course, should we be able to communicate with others, swap ideas and take part in discussions as a result, then that's fabulous! That's great! That's what we want! But it's not the be all and end all of blogging.

What do you think? Do you enjoy blogging for the process, and see readers as a bonus or is having people read and comment the absolute and only reason you put the words out there?

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Does Music Inspire Your Writing?

I had great plans to get on and do a whole bunch of writing today...and then the 'phone rang and it's now 3 o'clock. I did at least manage to get one article out and up for Suite 101 which you can see here. Ironically, it's about the best way to start your day off calm and relaxed. Which wasn't the way my morning progressed but there we are.

Apart from all that, what I wanted to talk about today was music. Do you find that music inspires your writing? Do you need music to write, or do you find it a distraction?

Photo Credit: MorgueFile

I have found that a certain song or type of music can have an influence on what I'm writing, and help get me 'in the mood' so to speak. The hero of my novel 'No Place Like Home', which is set mostly in Kansas, USA (and available from all good ebook retailers, including Amazon here) was a country music star, so it definitely helped to play some of that style of music when I wanted to get myself in the right frame of mind. For another novel I am writing, there's a particular Josh Groban song that resonates with me and my characters so I'll sometimes stick that on to play a couple of times before I start work on that project.

In an interview I read with Santa Montefiore, she said that she'll play the same song over and over again when she's working. That would drive me nuts but it does go to show how music can be linked to the whole creative process of writing for various people, at all stages of the success spectrum.

I certainly can't have music on when I am actually writing though, at least not any with words. I'm too tempted to sing along and that's kind of a distraction! Usually I just prefer it quiet or sometimes I'll pop on Classic FM. I can tune stuff out if I need to, in that I've written in cafe's and all the other cliched places us writers are supposed to work, and that's fine but there's something different about 'general' noise to pop tunes coming out of the speaker next to you I think. At least there is for me.

So what do you think? Are you able to work with music blaring? Do you need it blaring in order to be able to work productively? I'd love to know! Please leave me a comment below - and happy writing!

Monday, 7 May 2012

Is Blogging Writing?

One of the reasons I held off from taking up the blog I set up absolutely years ago was the worry that it would divert my concentration (something that can be quite easily done at times!) from 'real' writing. Of course, now I wish I had just got on with it, but there we are.

So, my question is, is blogging 'really' writing? Does writing something that doesn't come under a specific heading of a novel/article/non fiction, etc still count as writing? Am I helping to hone my craft by getting words onto a 'page', or am I just procrastinating and wasting time when I could be working on said novel/article/non fiction?

Photo courtesy of MorgueFile

Personally, I've come to the conclusion that blogging is writing. It keeps the fingers and brain in training for getting the words out and makes me think about other aspects of writing, not just the narrow focus of the particular piece I'm working on at the time.

I'd be interested to know what anyone else thinks about the subject! Feel free to leave me a comment below.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Remaining Undiscovered

For those of you who have been following, the Novelicious Undiscovered competition - a chance to get your female fiction novel noticed - has recently announced the top twenty finalists.

Sadly, my name wasn't among them. I can't say I'm not disappointed. I'd be telling rather a big porky if I did. But I'm trying to focus on the positives. I did make the deadline for the entries, even if it was a bit close, and that, initially was my main goal. Of course, once it was in, the thoughts started to float around of how great it would be to get to the finals. Still, clearly it wasn't to be. I have worked on more of the book since the entry but at the moment, I'm leaning a little bit towards the 'well, it obviously wasn't good enough, so what's the point', but hopefully that will pass. I liked the idea of it, so perhaps it's just a case of giving it some space for the moment before returning to it with a fresh perspective.

I'd love to hear how everyone else got on? Congratulations if you made the finals, and commiserations if you didn't. Either way, do leave me a comment!

Monday, 23 April 2012

Is it me?

Apologies for the delay in this post. Life is definitely on the hectic side and I'm paddling like mad to try and catch up - on everything!

I thought I'd talk about reading today, bearing in mind it's World Book Day. Had it not been chucking it down outside I'd be more inclined to go out and do something fabulous and literary, but instead I'll stay in, keep dry and make my wordy contributions to the day on here.

As you'll see from my Reading List, I recently took down 'Lucky Jim', by Kingsley Amis off the shelf. It has been on the To Be Read shelf for some time now, different shelves, different houses, and different countries, but I finally decided it was that one's turn the other day. I'd been watching My Life in Books on the television and one of the guests chose it. Their opinion was that it was hilarious and that was the idea I'd gathered over the years.

Unfortunately, I didn't find it so hilarious. In fact, I found it rather tedious and boring. The characters weren't appealing and I had absolutely no interest in what they did, or didn't do, with their lives. I slogged on until I was about two thirds of the way through, hoping that I would suddenly 'get into it', but the moment never came. When I've got a book I'm enjoying, I can't wait to get to my 'reading time' but I had no inclination to keep picking up this one, and tended to avoid it if I could. I don't know if it's me, or whether the book has now dated, and its humour with it. Normally, I'd give up on a book I was struggling with earlier than this, but because it's classed as a modern classic, I felt I ought to give it a little more time, but it still didn't help for me. I have noted it's got fairly good reviews on Amazon, so I'm beginning to think it is me. And that's fair enough, but I'd be interested to know your opinion on the book, if you've read it.

Along with that, are there any other 'classics', that you've been looking forward to, or highly recommended, that when it came to it, you just didn't enjoy?

And before I go, good luck to all those handing out the free books today! Happy World Book Day! (oh, and Happy Birthday, Mr Shakespeare too!)

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

I did it!

I had rather a mad moment yesterday. Pondering over my failure to enter the Novelicious Undiscovered competition, I decided to check the closing date again. I had it in my mind that it was the 3rd of April, and upon going to the website, found that I was right.

But it wasn't actually closed until midnight on that date. So, I had a mad four hours or so of cranking out the extra 2000 words I needed to be able to enter the competition. And I did it! My entry has gone in and I am officially now in the mix.

Enough to say my brain hurt a bit yesterday evening, but I was really chuffed that I'd managed to complete the task I'd set myself.

I'd like to just say thanks to my fellow writing bloggers who mentioned this competition on their various blogs, as I probably wouldn't have been aware of it, if not for them.

Good luck to everyone who has entered this, and any other, competitions lately. I've got my fingers crossed!

Friday, 30 March 2012

Competition Entries update

As you may remember, I had hoped to enter both the Good Housekeeping novel competition, and the Novelicious chick lit competition. Well, it's been pretty mad here for the last month especially and something had to give. It turns out to be the Novelicious entry.

I decided it would be better to concentrate on getting one, hopefully decent, entry out there rather than two rather half baked ones. In the circumstances, I sealed up my manuscript, synopsis and entry form and lovely hubby took it to the post office for me in lieu of me being unable to get there - or anywhere very far at the moment, thanks to some more ankle surgery last week. I must say a word of thanks at this point to Carol who reminded me on her blog that the entry for this one did actually have to go in the post, and couldn't be emailed. Had I not read that and had my memory jogged, I probably would have fiddled and tweaked until the last minute before trying to email it and thereby missing the deadline. So, thank you, Carol!

So, I have wished it well and can only keep my fingers crossed now. I don't really expect to place anywhere, although of course I'd absolutely love to. I mean, that's the whole point, isn't it? But my goal was to actually enter the competition. Which is what I have achieved. So, I'm pretty please with that.

It's a shame I couldn't get to do the Novelicious one but there are times you just can't get to do everything, and we have to accept that occasionally. So, I just have to let that one go...unless, of course, I get incredibly inspired and knock out another 2000 words tomorrow...you never know ;)

Has anyone else entered this, or another competition recently? And what do you do if there are things you want to write but just cannot feasibly get to?

Friday, 23 March 2012


Apparently we are due temperatures of over 20 degrees this weekend, which, when you consider it's March, is a little strange. The last few days have been very Spring-y indeed, in fact, almost Summery. I'm currently sitting here with the patio door wide open, the awning is wound out, and the birdies are chirping happily, occasionally interrupted by a far less tuneful group of seagulls. The latter, for the most part though, must be soaking up the sunshine on the beach a few miles down the road as their squawks are far less often today than on stormier days.

And what am I doing? Well, I'm having a bit of a catch up on my reading, thanks to being a little incapacitated following some ankle surgery. My Google Reader was spilling over and I thought it would be a good opportunity to actually get to read some of the blogs I enjoy (and if the broadband behaved, it would be so much quicker!). I'm also reading some of my Writing mags that have built up, and the latest novel I have on the go, PD James; 'Death Comes To Pemberley'.

I've got some writing to do, but with remnants of general anaesthetuc plus the painkillers, my head's not the unfuzziest of places at the moment. Hubby read the synopsis for the GH entry whilst I was under the knife and has a couple of queries, so hopefully we'll get to look at those tonight and I can rectify what I need to and get that sent off this weekend. Assuming the painkillers haven't kicked in and I nod off again....

Monday, 12 March 2012

What is it about libraries that we love?

I've been thinking about libraries a fair bit lately and they are also in the news, as they struggle against cutbacks. This in itself seems a strange thing. Why are such places being targeted when the level of literacy in the UK is falling? Politicians talk about slashing illiteracy rates and yet with the other hand take away the very places that could help them, but that rant aside, I've also been thinking about what it is that appeals to us about libraries. What makes them special?

For me, I think part of it is happy memories. The town where I grew up had a small library housed in a temporary building, but they'd squeezed in plenty of books and it was always busy. Of course, back then, we were still in the era of the 'Sssssh! libraries. But I have always loved peace and quiet so it never worried me. Perhaps, psychologically, that was another part of the appeal!

My mum would take us to the library regularly when we could stock up on books. I would choose four and happily hand over my library card, feeling very important and grown up. 'Stamp Stamp' would go the librarian, adding the return date to the flap of paper stuck to the front page, and then off I would go, eager to find a comfy spot at home to sit down with my 'new' books! I was a voracious reader, and it's probably just as well that the lending limit at the time was only four, or I'd have been after getting a lot more! When I signed up to to my nearest City library a while ago, I was told the lending limit was 40 books. 40! I did enquire as to whether there was anywhere to back the car up to!

I loved going to the library after school. I couldn't wait to get through the two sets of double doors and enter that hushed little building, and veer off right into the children's section where I would look through the books and, more often than not, find one of the little red moulded seats that had a round hand hold in the back of it, and read another whilst I was waiting.

There was a particular book of fairy tales that I often used to get out. It was this big, thick orange covered book and I seem to remember there being one story about some mice and one of them comes to a sticky end. It makes me think that they were more along the lines of the Grimm brothers' tales but I can't remember if they were all like that. I don't think so, but I do remember that book came home with us a lot. Looking back now, I expect my Mum's face fell when she saw that we'd chosen the same book again. She didn't drive and we lived at the top of a hill! But she never said a word. The pros of us reading outweighed her discomfort at lugging books up the hill, at least in her eyes. Thanks, Mum x

I still love going to the library. The days of shooshing have gone, but a lot of libraries still have a quiet reverence about them. Of course, they've also had to diversify, offering computer equipment for use, dvds and audio books for hire and holding sessions for mother and toddler groups, and so on. Our local City library also screens Indie films. Books have become just one of the many things offered by these wonderful places.

I've been on a bit of a library book kick recently and I still get excited now when I know I'm going to library, 30 odd years later! If I see or hear of a book I think I'd like to read I go and find it on Amazon and put it in my wish list. That way I have a constant reference. Once I've read them (from the library), I just delete it off the wish list. Of course, when books are popular, you may have to reserve them but 50p to reserve a new release hardback is a lot better than the 10 pounds upwards you'd be paying to buy it. The excitement of a 'library notification' email dropping into my inbox is quite tangible! It seems that, when it comes to books, I am quite easily pleased.

Of course there are still books I'd like to buy. I'm a total book addict but finances and space often mean you have to compromise. It's also a great way to try new genres, and authors without worrying as to whether you are wasting your money. And, of course, the most important issue is that if we don't use these wonderful resources, we are going to lose them. That cannot happen. It mustn't happen. Libraries make people happy. They educate people, and provide a sanctuary from the noise of the outside world, mobile phones and all the other extraneous noise that it's sometimes good to shut out for a time. Don't let them disappear.

So, am I the only one who gets excited at library notification emails? Do you have happy memories of your early visits (or later ones!)?

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Read a (free!) Ebook week

As some of you may know, Smashwords are doing a 'Read an Ebook' week promotion this week, and I just wanted to let you know that I'm taking part!

My novel, 'No Place Like Home' is, for this week only, absolutely FREE!

When Ellie Laing goes out to Kansas to be bridesmaid to her best friend, Sandy, she’s absolutely sworn off men. Having suffered abuse at the hands of one boyfriend, and absolute boredom with another, she’s had it with men. She’s just going to enjoy three weeks of relaxation with her friend, Kate, house sitting at Sandy’s brother’s ranch doing nothing but swimming, reading and enjoying the open air.

But what Sandy’s forgotten to tell her is that her brother’s plans have changed and Ben’s now going to be in town for the entire time. With suggestions of finding a hotel dismissed, Ellie agrees to stay at the ranch.

As soon as Ben sees Ellie again, he knows the feelings he’d shut away after their past encounters were going to be harder to contain than he thought. But with one broken marriage behind him, he’s not about to let anyone else in and run the risk of another broken heart.

But as their feelings begin to overwhelm them, will either of them be prepared to let down their guards or will their past prevent them from ever finding real love?

Click here and download it now for free!

The promotion ends at midnight on the 10th March, but bear in mind that is Pacific Standard Time, so you'll need to convert that to whichever time zone you're in.

I'd love as many as possible for you to download it and, hopefully, leave me some lovely comments on the review pages, and/or here!

Thanks very much for your support, and happy reading!

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Writing For Magazines by Need2Know books

I recently read 'Writing for Magazines', written by Diana Cambridge and published by Need2Know books, and thought I'd do a mini-review.

Last year I read, and reviewed, one of Diana's previous books on a similar subject, 'How to write for magazines in one weekend'. You can read that review here. It was a great book, and had a look of good ideas. The best thing about this author is that she really makes you believe that you can do it. There's plenty of encouragement, aswell as an understanding of the disappointments inevitably experienced in writing, such as rejection.

The Need2Know book is pretty much a pared down, slightly updated version of the 'weekend' book. There's a section on e-zines which have increased as a market since the publication of the original book, but many of the hints and tips given prior are reiterated in the book for this series.

I think it's a great book to get you started on the subject, perhaps if it's something you are just considering doing at the moment, it will really give you a good basic knowledge. There's also suggested reference books mentioned throughout. I was about to go back through in order to list Diana's suggestions, but no need! There's a handy list of reference material in the back, including the aforementioned books, aswell as writing retreats, holidays, magazines and courses.

The very talented Diana Cambridge has her own website here. Whenever I have contacted her, she has always been very helpful, and encouraging. She also runs courses from her home in Bath, details of which are on the website.

So, all in all, this is yet another good title to add to both Diana Cambridge's repertoire, and the series itself.

If magazine writing isn't your thing, there are several other writing subjects covered by Need2Know books which can be found on their website here.

Have you read this book, or any of the others in the series? If so, what did you think?

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Persistence is the key

They say that the successful writers are the ones who didn't give up, or words to that effect. We all know that's true. We've all read about how many rejections J K Rowling had before she hit the big time, or how John Grisham paid for his first novel to be printed and ended up selling them cheap at garage sales. This is certainly true of novels, but it most definitely applies to those of us writing articles too. No matter how much we try and keep that in mind, it can still be hard when yet another rejection letter plops onto the doormat, or splats into your email inbox. After a few of these, it's easy to start believing that it's you and not them.

This week, however, I was pleasantly rewarded by sticking to the mantra of 'send it out again' by an article acceptance! The particular piece was one I had written a couple of years ago as part of an assignment on a correspondence writing course (which, I am ashamed to say, I have yet to finish, although I promise it is on my To Do list!), and I was quite pleased with it. The tutor liked it and I sent it out to a magazine. After chasing and waiting and waiting and chasing, I finally got a rejection. This went on for a few more magazines and after a while I sort of gave up on my article. Perhaps it wasn't as good as I had hoped.

A little while ago, I renewed my intent with my writing and, as part of that, I dug out this article, went through it once again and sent it off to an outdoors magazine. There was interest! hooray! But the editor wanted a few more pictures, preferably from the the tourist board. I did as he asked and sent it off. Nothing. After a couple of chases, I finally got the reply that the article 'just wasn't doing it for him.' Disappointed after the initial interest, I was tempted to let it lie once again. But I didn't. Perhaps even because of the false hope I'd experienced with that magazine, I was determined to sell the piece, so I mooched around the newsagents and found another title which I thought might be interested.

After studying the magazine, and its website, I sent off a pitch to the editors. They responded quite quickly, gave me their guidelines, and asked to see the text. After adjusting the article a little to suit this particular magazine, and checking some facts and figures, I sent off the piece. After a few days, a reply winged its way to me to say that they were happy with the text but a firm decision could not be made without seeing the images I'd mentioned so a CD of these would be required.

I busied myself with burning the images to a CD, making sure each photo was labelled with its title, and copyright details, then marched down to the village post office to send it off. Only to find a hand written note to say it was closed today, sorry! Luckily things were back to normal the next day so off the images went, and I waited for the verdict.

MMM Magazine have accepted the article! I couldn't be more chuffed. The editors always got back to me pretty quickly, and were clear with what and how they wanted things. They were also upfront about the fact that the article won't appear until next year, as they plan quite far ahead in advance (my piece on Tewkesbury is currently pencilled in for next Summer).

So, as low as you feel when you get your article returned or a 'no thanks' to your pitch, keep going. The right market is there somewhere, it's just a case of finding it.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Competitions and general stuff!

Hi all

I have been beavering away lately getting part of a novel super-ready for entry into Good Housekeeping's Get Your Novel Published competition. It's one that's been sat lurking in the drawer for some time thanks to the roller coaster that has been life for the past several years. However, when I read about this competition I mentioned to my husband that I wouldn't mind entering it, more for the challenge and sense of achievement than from any real belief that my work has a chance. He reminded me of this particular novel and so out it came, the dust got blown off and I've been tweaking and twiddling since.

I'm now on the synopsis bit. Everyone's favourite. I did once have a lovely critique (well, some of it was lovely!) in which it was said that I was good at writing a synopsis. As I generally find these harder than writing the entire novel, I was quite pleased that the blood, sweat and tears that went into that one had been worth it. I can only hope that the judges at GH are as kind!

As I mentioned, I don't really have any expectations. I am doing this more for the exercise than anything else. Don't get me wrong, I would love to win, or even be a runner up. It would be the ultimate reward. But I know there is a lot of stiff competition out there. An awful lot in fact.

So, I need to knuckle down and finish the synopsis and email my little parcel of words off into the big, wide world and wish them luck on their way.

And after that, I'm entering another one! This time from Novelicious. It's a site generally for Chick Lit style books. I started one in this genre a while ago when an idea came to me and got the first 1000 words out, finally crawling into bed about half past midnight. I just had to get the words down on paper whilst they were still there. Since that time life has got in the way and continues to do so. However, the plan is to carry on with this and see how it goes. If I think I've got something worth submitting, then I will.

So called Chick Lit has got a bad press in the past few years. I think part of it is to do with the name. Some people seem to think anything that has the word 'chick' in it automatically pushes its quality and worth down a few notches. I think it's a shame. And I think it's wrong. I enjoy a good chick lit novel as much as the next girl, possibly more. But I also adore Classics like Jane Eyre, The Count of Monte Cristo and pretty much anything Jane Austen wrote. It's good to have a varied reading pile. And I also think that many of those who turn up their nose as this genre probably have never even turned a page of one.

So, that's my plan anyway. Although you know the old saying about plans, which often seems true in my case. Perhaps I should say that's what I hope to be able to do and leave it at that.

I will keep you posted!

Monday, 6 February 2012

Online Writing

A while ago I read about contributing to online writing sites. This wasn't going to make me a lot of money any time soon (ok, so like 'normal' writing then!), but it seemed like it might be a good thing to keep going in the background. I'd missed the original article in the magazine when life got in the way and the subscription lapsed accidentally, but after seeing various mentions of it in the letters page of Freelance Market News, I contacted the Editor for a back issue.

I would like to add here that the Editor was super helpful with this request, and actually emailed me the copy in question very quickly, even though I had expected to have to stump up a back issue fee and wait for it to arrive in the post.

Anyway, I read the article, did some research and chose the one I felt would be most suitable to start out with. This was Demand Studios. However, on applying, it appears that they have been rather over subscribed and don't seem to be accepting writers 'at the present time'. This was one of the rejections I mentioned in my earlier post about such things. I'd been looking forward to taking part so I was a bit down not to get accepted. Especially when I know that I can do the job. I'm aware that sounds a bit like I'm tooting my own trumpet but honestly, I'm not. Those that know me will know that this is generally the last thing I am ever likely to do!

So, after some encouraging words from my fellow writers and bloggers (Thank you!), I have buckled down more and found another avenue in which to pursue the online bit of my writing, Suite101. It's a different set up in the payment method (more based on how popular your articles are, etc) but I still felt that it would be good exercise and if it brings in a trickle of payment every so often, then so much the better. I applied at the weekend and this morning I got an acceptance! Yippee! I then spent - or lost - a good hour or so fighting with the profile bit as it kept disappearing despite saying 'updated successfully' so I've contacted the people to see if it is something I'm doing and in the meantime I will write up my profile in notepad or something so that if it eats it again I at least have a back up and don't have to madly try and remember what I just wrote. They suggest to read all their help and guidelines before submitting your first article so that's next to do.

I've just been finishing an article for submission to a magazine and am just waiting for my proof reader (ie Hubby) to look over it before it goes off. I've also got a big wodge of papers in a file by my feet in the shape of a novel I haven't looked at for some time but which I am thinking about trying to get in some sort of good order with a view to submitting it for the Good Housekeeping Novel Award. I have no illusions that I stand any chance of winning or even running up (although believe me, we could more than do with the prize right now and my now ageing laptop makes weird noises on a regular basis!), but still, it's good exercise, isn't it?

Bearing all that in mind, I suppose I'd better get back to it.

Good luck to anyone else entering the Good Housekeeping Award, I know Carol is, so good luck, Carol!

If anyone has had any experience with online writing for the above companies, or has any tips to share, I'd love to hear them. Please feel free to comment below.

Thanks, and keep writing!

Monday, 30 January 2012

How sweet!

I was honoured and super chuffed to be awared the Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award by the lovely Carol and it truly made my day.

In spirit of making friends, and hopefully passing on happiness I would like to nominate the following bloggers to receive the award (and apologies there are not more nominees but I'm still quite new to all this so still in the process of building my blog reading list!).

The always inspiring and entertaining Lynne
The ever helpful and full of information Patsy

As part of accepting this award, I am required to tell you seven things about myself...hence the reason for the delay in posting. I have been trying to think! But here goes...
  1. I have absolutely no sense of direction in general but can navigate the Tube without a hitch
  2. I'm not too keen on heights but once abseiled and loved it
  3. In Class 7 at primary school, I was chosen to be the May Queen at the church service
  4. I once won a bowling prize on a works' outing despite normally being absolute rubbish at bowling. (The boss wasn't pleased I got a higher score than him...wonder if that had anything to do with me getting passed over for promotion...)
  5. I once stroked a man's hair in a shop before realising in horror that it wasn't actually my husband, who had moved
  6. I'm frightened of flying but once did 13 flights in five weeks
  7. My favourite lolly is a lemonade sparkle but they're incredibly hard to find these days
Thanks again, Carol x

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Rejecting Rejection

My resolve for 2012 was to get a lot more written and a lot more sent out. By the 5th January I'd already received two rejections and my resolve was severely shaken. In fact, this is the first bit of 'proper' writing I've done since. There's been a definite cloud of 'what's the point?' floating around over me since those 'thanks but no thanks' came in. One was something I'd really been looking forward to getting involved with and the other was an article of which the editor had pretty much said yes if I could send on some images from the local tourist board, which I duly did. So to have both these bounce back at me within days of each other, well, I was pretty fed up.

I know everyone goes through this and what we're all supposed to do. Send it right back out. And I do try and stick with that but sometimes it's just hard. Sometimes you start to think that maybe it is you and not them.

So, I gave it a break for a bit. Then today, I went out, looked around for another title to which I could submit said article and I've just sent it off. So, wish me luck and hopefully I'll have better luck this time. If not, then I'll just have to find somewhere else.

If you have any great tips for coping with rejection, I'd love to hear!

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Happy New Year

Goodness! 2012! Where on earth did 2011 go? Honestly, this year, or rather last year, I suppose I should say, seems to have gone even faster than the previous one. It's a little unnerving frankly!

First of all, I would just like to wish you all a Happy New Year, and very much hope it will be a good one. Of course, the new year always brings with it the expectation of resolutions. Personally, I'm not sure about all that. I think if you want to do something you don't have to wait until the start of a new year to begin. Having said all that, sometimes it is the impetus we need. A fresh start for our goals.

So, do I have any resolutions? Sort of. I'm not really one for setting particular goals or planning. Again, that's a personal thing. But there are things I'd like to do, and will aim for. Generally, I just want to write more, and try and get more out there into circulation and obviously more published as a result. I also have a writing course half done that I'd really like to actually get finished and, of course, finish the next novel. And if someone wants to take that in return for a nice hefty fee and contract, I'd be gracious enough to accept...

Whatever your resolutions, and whether you choose to make them or not, I wish you great success with your writing in 2012!