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

Friday, 19 June 2015

So You Think You Can Write (SYTYCW) - Boot Camp Two - The Sequel

Yesterday, Harlequin held their second Boot Camp of the Year the So You Think You Can Write (SYTYCW) Boot Camp  - this was the sequel!

If you're a regular reader of this blog, you may remember that I took part in last month's Boot Camp (post here) which I thoroughly enjoyed. It was interesting and fun, and good for motivation, plus I also connected with a few more romance writers whom I have kept in touch with on Twitter, so that was a really fun aspect of the day.

Last month I was lucky enough to have pretty much the whole day to myself and devote to the Boot Camp - although by the nature of it, you can dip in and out, which can be handy. This month it fell on a day when there were other things going on, so I wasn't as in depth with it, but I did still get to read all the blog posts, and most of the chats. There was one on the forum on the subject of research which I highly recommend. Reading about what other people do was both useful - and amusing!

Another fun part was the Twitter chat on 'hero and heroine inspiration' - participants tweeted pictures of actors/models whom they used as inspiration for different novels. Looking at pics of gorgeousness - what's not to like? I can certainly think of worse ways to spend time!

The whole thing is to help motivate romance writers, especially those taking part in Harlequin competitions. They also set a challenge each month in the Boot Camp - last month was to send in a first page, from which six are picked for critique on the site. This month's challenge was for a synopsis. I thought I'd have a shot at this. I didn't get picked last month but you've got to keep trying, haven't you? Because this was obviously a challenge that could take longer (is there anyone that enjoys writing a synopsis?), they opened the doors for this the previous evening. I pootled along and got a good half way through mine. It was going quite well and then, disaster! My WP programme just died. For no reason. I went to save it and it effectively told me: 'No, I don't want to.' And promptly shut down. Without saving my work. As it happened, I'd had a pretty rubbish day and the only thing that had gone well was that synopsis. And then it was just gone.

I realise I probably should have saved earlier, which I normally do and then at least I would have lost a smaller amount but still. It was pretty upsetting. By that point it was later in the evening and I didn't have time to start over again then and there. I decided to start again in the morning. Because of the time differences, I had a few hours in the morning to work on it before I needed to get it over for the challenge. However, it seemed the Writing Gods weren't in the same mood yesterday because, wow, it was hard going and it didn't sound anywhere near as good as the previous days work had. Also, with the other stuff going on yesterday, it was a bit harder to absorb into it. In the end, I decided that it just wasn't going to work if I rushed it. I actually have a couple of other WIPs, one of which the synopsis was pretty much done. I decided to tweak this, and make sure it looked ok and then sent that over.

As it was, after all the drama, mine wasn't one of the ones picked for assessment, but I was still glad that I submitted something. Just in case!

I don't know if there will be another Boot Camp next month. They did put out a survey asking what we'd like to see another time, so hopefully there will be more. They're definitely good fun and a good place to link up. May's one had a chat with Editors which was a good opportunity to ask questions that you might not otherwise get to ask, so I'm hoping they might include something like that again. I'll be posting on Twitter if I see any updates, so don't forget to follow me there.

Apart from taking part in the above, I have been really getting on with my writing, which feels great! It's been a bit nuts here because, apart from being up and down with being ill (finally got an appointment on Thursday, wish me luck!), putting in some new front garden borders and doing a bit of temp cover last week, I've been just so eager to get on and write, and read! Which is great! I think I'd lost that a little bit but it really feels like it's back at the moment, which is good.

Now all I need is an acceptance from somewhere to boost that...

Hi to everyone who took part in the Boot Camps and I look forward to carrying on our chats - writing, and non writing related, and good wishes to every writer out there. May you and your pen have a good day!

Happy writing!

Monday, 1 June 2015

Writers' Bureau Course, Short Story Markets and Reading Research

So, today I have been quite productive in that I've read a book and done part of the next assignment from The Writers' Bureau that I've had sitting around for far too long.

I was going to start on the next question too but it involves writing a short story aimed at a specific market and, right now, I have absolutely no idea of any markets for 2000 word stories. Hence, I've ground to a stand still until I can get some more information on that front - any advice would be great appreciated! Luckily the Womag blog is already on my Bloglovin Feed so I'm sure that will have useful info, as it always does, thanks to Patsy and the other fabulous writers that contribute, like Carol. I think I need a trip to the newsagents in the meantime too to start looking at a couple of the mags that I know do still accept short stories, like Peoples' Friend. To be honest, I've never been great at short stories, so this bit of the course is quite daunting, more so than writing a novel! But all I can do is try.

As mentioned in the previous post, there are a couple more competitions I have in mind to do - so far - this year, if possible, both in the Harlequin Mills and Boon realm. This is a market I've aimed at before, and had some encouragement in, but then life got in the way in a rather major way and it all got pushed aside a bit. But I have been wanting to get back to it, as I enjoy reading these fun little escapist novels, and writing them - even if I haven't got one published yet. I'm a demander of 'happy ever after' in my reading and, obviously, my own writing. My view is that there is enough bad news and depressing events in the real world so if I can read, or create, one where I know it's going to turn out ok, then that's just perfect for me. Now, of course, that doesn't mean things can't happen in the middle - they have to in order to make that happy ending all the more appreciated. So, with that in mind, this is a market I feel happy making the effort in. Taking part in the Boot Camp last week really was a good exercise in building enthusiasm so I'm now in the process of pulling out the plan of a book I made a looooong time ago and pretty much rewriting the few chapters I had already written.

As for the other competition, I'm not sure what to work on for that. I do have an idea rattling around but I need to build on that and see where I want it to go, and talk to the characters a bit more and find out who they really are. I'm not entirely sure which line to aim this one, and they have expanded a lot since I last looked into it properly years ago so  I am enjoying diving back into this world and reading a bunch of books in the different lines to see which one I feel I may like to have a try at.

As a quick tip, it seems the digital editions are often a certain amount cheaper than the print versions, so that may be something to bear in mind. I'm not normally an ebook girl - even though I've got a Mark One Kindle (hubby loves technology and thought I would too as it's 'booky'...) but finally, years later, I have taken advantage of this sweet present from him and have just finished my first full novel on there. And, you know what, it wasn't a bad experience! I could even eat my cereal whilst reading without ending up wearing half of it. Bonus. This may be a turning point. Although, my, it's tempting to buy those books so quickly, isn't it?

Good luck in whatever you are working on at the moment.

Happy writing!