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

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

New Scenes And Taking A Hike

One of the things I wanted to do in this edit is add in a couple of scenes that will help expand understanding of the characters' behaviour in certain situations. Sunday was a good day for that and I ended up writing quite a long scene which I hope, when I read it back, will be what I aimed for it to be.

I vary between writing longhand and writing directly on to the computer. There's no rhyme or reason to this, but often depends, not only on mood, but also just on circumstance. On Sunday, where I was meant that it was easier just to pull out my pad and pencil (never a pen!) and get scribbling. There is a benefit to this because, when I do type it up ready to be inserted into the main body of the novel, it gets an edit there too.

There is still another scene or two I want to add in. My plan is to type up the one I just wrote and work out where to put that, and then get on with the next one that I know I need to write. Doing it that way helps me keep on top of things and not have a tonne of pages floating about. Once the next one is done, I'll go through the whole thing again and see how I feel about it all then.

I tend to think about scenes and so on when I'm out on a walk - and now that the temperature has climbed down out of the 30s, I enjoyed a meander through the countryside yesterday, with the odd stop to pick blackberries. It's important to remember to get out and about when you can - it's good for the mind as well as the body. There are plenty of times I've worked out a scene during a walk that I've haven't been able to figure out all the time I was thinking about it inside.

Hope everyone else's writing is going well and I'd love to hear what you're working on. Feel free to leave a comment below!

Happy scribbling!

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Editing - still!

As I mentioned previously, following the disappointment of having a publisher pull out of a contract on a self help book, I've turned back to novels and pulled out one that I wrote some time ago with the aim of doing some serious editing and rewriting.

Editing Pass One is now complete and I have more of an idea as to what needs to be changed and added in order to help make it a better piece. I've done some of this but there's still definitely plenty to go and sometimes it does feel a bit overwhelming and a case of 'I'm not even sure how to do all this!'. That's a bit scary and the confidence goes a bit wobbly and I have plenty of moments when I sit there and think 'What on Earth made me think I could do this?!'

But then I read this quote on Twitter:

'A writer should always feel like he’s in over his head'. ~Michael Cunningham

To be honest, it made me feel a lot better, and relieved a bit of that 'Is it just me?' worry. So whilst I may well be in over my head, that's not necessarily a bad thing.

In the meantime, I shall keep doing my best to bob to the surface for large gulps of air and then dive back in with my characters. With a bit of luck, we'll all get there in the end.

Do you ever feel like you're in over you head, and has there been a quote that's helped you along? I'd love to hear so feel free to leave a comment below!

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Unintended Hiatus

I've been away from blogging for a while, but I'm now hoping to get back to it more regularly. Apologies to anyone who follows on a regular basis, and thank you for sticking with me.

There were a couple of reasons for the break, and I didn't intend to stop blogging, it just sort of happened. At the beginning of the year, I got the contract through for a non fiction self help book. It needed a fair amount of research and I was headlong into this. I got the research done and started actually putting the book together. I was two thirds through when I thought I'd contact the publisher just to check that everything was good in publishing land. His reply was less than enthusiastic and he wasn't even bothered about me finishing it if I didn't want to. It appeared that there wouldn't be any promotion done, despite what had been agreed previously.

In the circumstances, I felt that the best thing to do would be to walk away. I got a confirmation in writing that the contract was no longer valid and that all the work I had done was mine and there could be no claim on it if I were to publish elsewhere.

I'm sure you can understand how much of a disappointment this was. Especially as this is the second time I have found myself in a similar situation - a fact this publisher knew. I lost the enthusiasm for the project and, to be honest, writing. It seemed that I had just wasted six months and felt very let down. Just putting the whole thing aside for a while seemed the best option.

I haven't decided exactly what to do about that project yet. I may look for a new publisher or I may self publish. At the moment, I still don't have the enthusiasm back for that one, so I'll wait until I do and in the meantime I can just ponder over what I what I want to do with it.

I am back to writing though, well, editing. I've pulled out a novel which has been waiting for a new edit and some rewrites for a long time. I've really enjoyed getting into the story and the characters again. I enquired with a publisher some time ago about sending it in (as it's a little shorter than the standard) and they were happy to take a look. I'll check this again when it's closer to being polished and shiny. Hopefully the answer will still be 'send it in'. After that, it'll just be a case of fingers crossed!

So, again, apologies for the break. I hope your writing has been going well and would love to hear your news!

Happy Writing!

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Moderating Blog Comments

I remember a discussion some time ago on Writers Talkback about blog comment moderation, and the dreaded 'Captcha'. For the most part, it seems that people are less likely to comment on a blog if there is a moderation process in place, and I can understand that, especially as Captcha seem to have done their best to make the darn things practically unreadable whether you're human or not!

On the basis of this, I elected to leave the moderation process off my blogs. I get a notification that a comment has been made, and I can then go and choose as to whether this is suitable to publish, and publish, delete, or mark as spam as appropriate.

So far this has been working just fine. Until a few weeks ago, that is. I did a post called 'Catching Up' and for some reason, this has been nabbed by some sort of weightlifting/gym sort of organisation, and they seem to think it's ok to keep posting on there with completely irrelevant, ridiculously worded phrases. From the looks of it, it seems to be directed from Russia. And frankly, it's bloody annoying!

As I'm now getting them on that post several times a week, I'm seriously considering putting the dreaded Captcha back on, as much as I'd prefer not to. So, my question is, does having this process seriously put you off commenting on a blog?

I'd be grateful for any opinions on the above, or if you have any other ideas on how to avoid the spammers, I'd be grateful to hear from you.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Facebook - Friend or Foe?

As my previous post was about Twitter, I thought this time I'd turn my attention to Facebook. This was also partly inspired by a conversation I had on Twitter - someone mentioned that they didn't really want to do Facebook but that some of their friends were on it, and refused to communicate in any other way. Therefore he was forced to have an account in order to keep in touch with those people.

Now, is it just me, or does that sound like bullying? Someone who doesn't want to do a particular thing is being forced to because of the actions of others.

I can completely understand the situation and have a similar one. However, I refuse to join. In consequence I do miss out on knowing certain things and that's something I have to accept. But I wasn't interested in joining up when Facebook was all the rage a few years ago, and I have even less inclination to now. The security issues they've had worry me. The decisions they make at times worry me - notably the most recent one about the beheading videos being posted on their site. For more information on that story, see here

The main thing that irritates me about Facebook, however, is that it's made us lazy. As mentioned above, many people put their 'news' on their page and expect others to read it. It doesn't matter whether you are close family or a 'friend' - a term which seems to have very tenuous connections at times. You all get the same news. There's nothing personal for those who are closest, and that just seems  a bit off kilter to me.

Surely the way you tell a loved one something is different from the way you tell someone you've never even met, who's a friend of a friend of a friend. Don't the people who you really spend time with, or you are emotionally close to, deserve a little more attention and consideration, rather than having to go wading through comments from people they don't know in order to try and ferret out a bit of news that could have been put on an email in moments?

Now, this is all about the personal pages of Facebook. For businesses, I can see the purpose. It's a good way to keep people up to date with news and events, if you know that many of them already have FB accounts. It encourages them to interact in a way that they might not if that news was solely confined to a blog, for example. In fact, I'd be interested to hear from anyone who did have reservations about setting up a page but has done so anyway - has it been worth it?

In the meantime, a little request. Please remember that just because people aren't on Facebook doesn't mean that we don't want to hear your news, or see the funny photo you took at the weekend. We just need to be told in a different way.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

More Notes!

Writing is a little samey at the moment as I continue with the typing up of the various notebooks I have made so far for my non fiction self help book. We're getting there though. I hope. I've felt I had to force myself to carry on for longer than I really wanted to today. This could be just tiredness (late night last night - rather fabulous fancy dress party to attend!) or it could just be a bit of burnout after working at it solidly yesterday.

Either way. I've been at it since early morning so I'm giving myself permission to take a break. In truth I'd like to think this was to go off and do something fun and delightful. In actuality, it's to go and hang the rest of the washing out and then make a start of the European Ironing Mountain which has built up in my lounge having been laid low all week with a stinker of a cold. Not exactly fun but there we are. If anyone has any ironing fairies they're not currently using, please do send them my way!

Have fun in the sunshine (at last!) and happy writing!

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Twitter for Writers

I like Twitter. I find it fun and the short attention span it requires suits me down to the ground. I have interesting and fun interactions with other people, many of whom are writer-ly types and it does rather make you feel as if you are not totally on your own after spending hours writing/researching/making notes, etc. You can just drop in, say hello, see what's going on, then come back out again.

What I don't like is being bombarded with messages to buy someone's book all the time! Tip: This isn't fun, it's not interesting, it's not polite and mostly, it's just annoying. It is also the surest way to get me to unfollow you, or not follow you at all, if I look at your tweets and see that this is all you do.

Someone put it well the other day when there was obviously a bit of a blast of this sort of behaviour going on, when she said 'Twitter this morning feels like walking through a market with all the stall holders shouting at you to buy something'.

As I say, I do like a bit of Twitter. It keeps me amused when I'm in a queue and can often give me a giggle when I'm least expecting it (like on a train whilst sat on my own yesterday...a little awkward!) and I like that. I don't like those who use it for ranting and vitriolic messages to people - whether they are well known or not. If you don't like someone, ignore them. There's no need to be nasty for the sake of it.

And by all means, feel free to mention your blog post - but not ten times a day! And feel free to let us know you have a book out - again, not ten times a day though. All this does is irritate us and make us less likely to even take a look at it, whereas a gentle hint occasionally can have the opposite effect entirely.

So, if you don't partake, you may want to give it a try. But if you do, be yourself and only let the salesman out every so often. It's much more fun that way!

Happy Tweeting!

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Reality Blogging

The lovely Carol has kindly nominated me for the Reality Blog award.

She actually did it a couple of weeks ago but I've been trying to think of answers to the questions that accompany it! They are the type of questions that could have a myriad of answers, depending on your mood but I'm reluctant to leave it any longer so here goes!

If you could change one thing, what would it be?

I'd love to be the kind of person who never worries about anything. I, on the other hand, worry about everything, so being able to change that would probably have a lot of good repercussions.

If you could repeat an age, what would it be?

This is a tricky one. I'm going to cheat and mention two: First I'd like to repeat the time I left school and take a different job to the one I chose to take, and also have the confidence to believe that writing could actually be a real possibility. I'd also like to repeat the few years which encompass our wedding day and just after because I'd love to live that over again, aswell as the fabulous travelling we got to do with the company my husband was working for at the time.

What one thing really scares you?

One? You want me to narrow it down to one? Ugh. Ok, well, serious illness for me or those I love.

If you could be someone else for a day, who would it be?

I think it would be fun to be some sort of extremely highly paid actor for a day. I think a job that pays horrendous amounts of money to play dress up all day can't be too bad.

Thank you so much, Carol for the nomination. It really does make a difference when people do interact on a blog and prove you're not just talking to the air!

And now it's my turn! (mwah ahh ahh!) So, the bloggers I nominate for this are:

Dean H

I'm now off back to the oodles of notes I'm in the process of typing up for the non fiction book I'm working on. Seeming like a rather never ending task at the moment! Wish me luck and enjoy the weekend sunshine (at last!)

Sunday, 31 March 2013

Can You Smell That?

Smell is the most evocative of all the senses, and yet it's the least used in fiction writing. However, if we concentrate on trying to include it, it can make a world of difference to helping place your reader in the scene.

For me, the smell of cut grass always transports me to a warm, summer's day, even if it's cold enough to turn you blue outside. And whenever I smell the 'Jungle Formula' insect repellent, my mind is instantly whisked across time and space back to some fabulous travel experiences in India and Malaysia years ago.

So, next time you're creating a scene, remember all the senses and use them accordingly. Don't overload your reader with pongs but don't forget them either.

Are there any particular smells that remind you of a particular time or place?

Happy Easter to you all!

Sunday, 17 March 2013

How Do You Keep Up With Reading About Writing?

A few years ago we had moved abroad for work, and during that time, for various health reasons I won't bore you with, I was unable to read and gradually built up a stockpile of my writing magazines. And I still have it!

Admittedly it's not so big now but I still have a couple of years worth in hand. I know there is interesting stuff in there so I don't just want to throw them away and 'start afresh' but it does rather depress me a little when I see them sitting there unread. I did think of going through them and just pulling out what I wanted to read but, to be honest, that's most of the magazine.

And that's not even counting the various books on writing I have yet to read!

My main time for reading generally is when I go to bed, to help me wind down but then I like to read a book as I find this most relaxing. I know if I was to start reading about writing then it would kick the brain off, just at the point I'm trying to shut it down for sleep.

I know that part of my problem is the fact I have a chronic fatigue issue that goes with a medical condition, so that can be a disadvantage. Also, right now I'm not getting a lot done outside working on the book and keeping up with the housework but I just wondered how everyone else fits in their reading about writing?

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Tricky Subjects and Being Brave

Yesterday I read an interesting post by Emily Benet about religion. Before you all go scurrying away, hear me out. It really was interesting. And the best thing about it was that it was from the heart.

Her post, entitled Catholics - We aren't all bad told of her acceptance that attending church sometimes feels, well, a little bit bonkers, but that keeping her faith has been helped by the wonderful priest they are lucky enough to have at their church. A man, I am told, who can do a mean salsa. Seriously, if I knew a priest that could do that, I may just start attending in the hope of catching a glimpse of salsa practice between mass!

With the Catholic church in the news at the moment because of the recent vacancy in the Vatican, and yet another dark scandal involving a member of the clergy, it can seem like it is a free for all for a bit of Catholic belief bashing. But I think that's unfair. And I'm sure others do too. Like any part of society, there are good people as well as the bad.

But it does take some bravery to talk about it on a blog normally keeps away from subjects like religion and politics that can often invoke such strong feeling. So, hats off to Emily who had the bravery to write what was in her heart.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Lost In Austen

There's no doubt about it. It does you good to get away. Having worked a fortnight without a break (including his birthday!), hubby finally managed to snatch a couple of days off, ostensibly initially to take me to a hospital appointment because I'm a wimp, but once that was done we pondered on what to do.

Sat in a supermarket car park, we put a smartphone to good use and five minutes later had a couple of nights booked in an Inn down in Hampshire. Where we are, it's less than a couple of hours drive but far enough away to feel like a break.

I'd been wanting to visit Jane Austen's house again for some time. The last time was many years ago and I knew that there was much more to see now, plus with it being the 200th anniversary of Pride & Prejudice, it just seemed right.

Jane Austen's house, Chawton
I have some more pictures to post of this trip which really turned into a bit of an Austen pilgrimage, which isn't a bad thing, including the church near her now-demolished childhood home, where her father, and then brother were rectors. It was all really fascinating, and relaxing and the latter is really the point.
Yes, I have a book to write, a course to finish and some articles to get together, and novels to edit but it's important to look after your health, and your relationships too. And sometimes it's nice just to escape for a day or two to give the mind, body and soul batteries a bit of a recharge.
Have a good week, and happy writing! 

Monday, 18 February 2013

Loving Our Libraries

It's been hard to miss the hoo har generated by Terry Dreary's recent comments that libraries are a 'Victorian institution' and have no place in today's digital age.

I don't know if he had any idea of the furore that his pronouncements would kick up, but I don't think that such speeches by any author are helpful when we are battling to keep our libraries open. Everyone is entitled to their opinion - and my opinion is that everyone is entitled to access to a library.

Mr Dreary has been fortunate enough to make a lot of money, and as such, is probably more than able to buy any book that takes his fancy. Most of us are not in this position and as such, rely on our libraries to access to reads that we may not otherwise be able to enjoy. Not to mention their use in relaxation and research.

Author Matt Haig wrote a great piece in the Guardian about his love of libraries. I don't know whether Mr Dreary has read it, or whether he'd be swayed by it. Possibly not. I and many others, however, most certainly agree.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Catching up...

It was quite a busy week for me, with one thing and another. I took a walk on Monday morning, taking advantage of a dry day which made me feel good at getting some exercise, provided the opportunity for people watching and inspiration, and just helped get the brain unclogged, as a good walk can.

Getting some fresh air
I finally got the contract back this week, so we are back up and running on the research front so that's taking up some time, but in a good way. I'm still fairly nervous about the book, but I don't think that's an unusual thing - I've yet to meet a writer who isn't worrying about their current/past/future project! I'm making notes aplenty, and although I was going to put the notes directly onto the computer, and did in fact start that way, it's turned out to be easier to write them in a notebook which will get transcribed in with the rest as and when. This way I can just grab the research info, notebook and pencil and go. Like anything, it's finding what works best at a certain time for you.
I keep thinking about my novels. I miss them, and really want to get back to them. I've also come up with another couple of ideas over the past few weeks which are just bubbling about and fermenting in my brain at present. They're not ready to be written down, even in note form at the moment, but are firm enough not to be forgotten. They're well and truly stuck there now which is good. I'm not sure how they're going to progress but that's all part of the brewing-in-the-brain stage. And that's fine for now. I really want to get a long completed one edited and ready for submission. It's just finding the time to do everything at the moment. I don't think my brain will cope with working on both projects at the same time right at the moment. Perhaps when it gets to the actual writing bit, I might be able to switch between. Has anyone else had any experience of this - do you find it easy to switch between different forms of writing?
Unfortunately I had a fibromyalgia flare up on Wednesday which lasted a few days and put a bit of a spanner in the works, but it's something I just have to accept and work around as and when I can.
Back to the research now...

Monday, 4 February 2013

First Impressions

I love Jane Austen. It's no secret. I wonder what else she would have written, had she lived longer. And what would have happened had she not changed her mind over that marriage proposal after all. It's quite possible - and fairly likely - she wouldn't have written anything at all. Can you imagine?!

I know I'm a bit late with all this, as Pride & Prejudice's birthday was last week, but life happens so there we go. But there's been an awful lot written about this most favourite of novels, so I'm not going to add to everything that's already been printed other than to say, 'It's fabulous and I love it!'.

My post this week is more to ask as to how many copies you tend to have of your favourite novels? I'm actually rather a fan of 'Persuasion' and may even dare to consider it as my favourite of them all. Whilst Mr Darcy is delightful, Captain Wentworth is rather a sweetheart (Rupert Penry-Jones' portrayal of him in the adaptation hasn't hurt this perception, I'm not going to lie!).

And last week, I was jolly spoiled to be treated to a copy of this wonderful book in the 'Everyman Library' binding. I adore these bindings, although I do prefer the older ones when they were just black and white, rather than the picture ones they put on them now. But that aside, it's the actual binding that make these books a delight. There's just something so enjoyable about turning the pages in these hardbacks, that it enhances the read even more. It's my third copy of 'Persuasion' - but does that matter? And what I would like to say is that I adore my hubby for not saying 'but you already have that one...twice!'. In fact, he bought it for me, knowing I've been looking for it for a while. He understands that it's not just about 'a book'. It's an experience.

I was also happy that when I mentioned it was my third copy to the sales assistant, he gave me a smile and the kind of look that says 'I understand', which made me fairly sure it wasn't just me.

Is it just me? I'd love to hear how many copies you have of your favourites!

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Fun With Worms!

And no, that's not a typo. For fans of the much missed, and comic marvel, Ronnie Barker, he had a character to was often getting his 'worms muddled'.

Today's post is a recommendation for a fun game involving words. If anyone gets 'Writing Magazine' you may have already discovered it, as this is the only place I've seen an advert for it, and even that was only once I believe. It seems to be a well kept secret.

The game is called 'Le Cardo', and it's basically a sort of scrabble with words. You have a pack of cards, each of which has a short word on it, such as 'under', 'back', 'drive', etc. Each player takes seven cards and you have to make two word phrases, in a grid, with those cards. You can go as many times as you can make a word, until you run out of options and it's then the next person's go. You then pick up as many cards as you need from the deck to get back up to your seven. Each card has a number on it, and you total up the score for each word you made and keep a tally. Whoever has the highest score at the end, when the cards are gone, wins.

I don't know if I've explained it very well, but I really do recommend it. We've had a lovely time playing it and it helps stretch the old brain, but not too hard, which is what we like (well, I do anyway!).

At the moment, I've only seen it at Amazon but some independents may stock it. Here's a link in case you fancy having a go yourself.

It's a great way to while away the odd hour, and being the size of a pack of cards, easy to take with you on holiday for those rainy moments! And all the while, exercising your brain and helping you keep thinking of worms!

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Research On Hold and Reading

Well, the project I was working on has (hopefully) temporarily been put on hold as I wait for the contract to come through. It's later than expected and I'm wary of putting a whole lot of time into something, only to find that when it comes to the crunch, there's no deal.

I've found myself in this situation once before, and I really don't want to end up there again. Hopefully things will come together very soon and I can get back on with the project. I'll keep you posted.

In the meantime, I've been thinking about e-books. I read an interesting post from Carol recently, which mentioned the fact that you can download a sample of the book onto your kindle, or kobo or whatever to get a taste. I've done this myself in the past, although I still haven't got around to reading it yet! I'd rather forgotten about this useful aspect of e-books.

Sometimes in a bookshop you can read a bit, and decided immediately whether it's grabbing you or not but having the luxury of reading a sample in the comfort of your own home (or wherever you are travelling with your trusty reader!) does come in useful. You can get more of a feel for the book when you've got a bigger sample to try. The other benefit is that you can try authors you might not normally gravitate towards in a book shop. For free! And of course, should you find that you can't wait to read on, with a few buttons pressed, the whole book is sat there waiting for you.

I have to admit the ease with which e-books can be purchased is both useful and possibly dangerous. Impulse buying has a free reign in these situations I find!

As mentioned, I do have an e-reader but I'm not a great user of it - at the moment. I love the feel of a 'real' book in my hands. I love going to library and coming out with a little pile of goodies to start working through and I would absolutely hate to see the demise of the real book, the bookshop or libraries. Any loss of these would be tragic. But I can see the advantages and it's useful to be reminded of some of them from time to time.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Researching Tip

I'm in the process of researching for a project and I've been trying to think of the best way - for me - to collate all the info. Whilst reading up, I might come across something that should go in one chapter, and then immediately something else that should go in a different one. I had thought about one of those tabbed Project Notebook type things that places like Smiths sell, but I didn't really want to be handwriting all my notes.

So I've come up with a solution that I hope is going to work for me. For the moment, I'm just bunging various sentences, copies of report findings, and all the other goodies in a Word document, with a small gap between each item. When I'm done with each source, I will then print out the document in draft, and go through it, and slicing it into the separate bits of info. Then, with the aid of a trusty glue stick, I'll paste these onto some loose leaf papers I have and put them into a binder which is already separated into the chapter headings.

Well, that's the idea anyway. I'll report back later to let you know how (or if!) it's working.

Any thoughts?

Happy writing!