Saturday, 20 December 2014

Areopagus Anthology now available

The Areopagus Anthology is now out. A bit disappointing that more of those who write for the quarterly magazine did not contribute but great to have something to celebrate 100 issues of the magazine. Their 25th anniversary issue which arrived a couple of days ago had a great article about the magazine's beginnings including the old Amstrad computer the editor worked on and to keep up with production took it away with him to a work's conference, including the printer - something unheard of in the days before laptops.  Certain remarks were made by his colleagues, especially about the noisy printer working in the evenings! This brought back memories of early computers I worked with including a dot matrix printer (which is still in the attic).

Anyway, the anthology can be brought through Amazon on Kindle for £2.06. Do take a look (I have a poem in there!)

Tuesday, 16 December 2014 has to be done sometime.

It's getting to that time of year when I look back on my writing achievements. But that's for another post because this morning I took time to rearrange (yet again) my poetry into two folders. Having spent ages putting poems into alphabetical order with notes about submissions (if and when they were published, their progress etc.) last year - or was it early this year? I have found that it isn't really working. So now I have taken out all those that have been published and put them together (still in order) in one of the folders which also contains my 'small stones' poems and a bunch of rough drafts. All the unpublished poetry is in the other folder.

This has helped in several ways. Firstly I can see how few are published (sigh) and see how many poems are sitting in the other folder going nowhere. Yes, a fair few of them are 'out' and I am waiting to see if they might make it to the other file but there are many others lingering! Some poems have never been sent anywhere while others have been submitted several times. This got me thinking. Do the ones I never send out stay there because I'm not happy with them? And if so, why am I not editing them?  A lot to ponder on. I looked at some I have never submitted. Some do have notes about re-editing, others have no notes and some have some handwritten edits on them. I immediately thought what a waste. If some are that bad perhaps I should just abandon them. But I hate doing that unless they really are rubbish (I admitted that one or two might fall into that category).

I set about looking more carefully at a few and began to see what needed doing. My poetry has come a long way since I wrote some of the poems but a good edit might do it. In fact I have made a start and am determined to resurrect some of these and get them sent out - ah a new goal for next year!

I've also been remiss in updating the results of submissions. I do keep a main book which is up to date but I often fail to follow this up in the folders. I also realised that in the last few months I have written quite a lot of new poems, including a whole sequence. None of these are in the folder, including the ones recently sent out. Admittedly I have had a busy year but it's to my advantage to keep up with this.

Certainly this has been an exercise worth tackling. I've been meaning to do it for ages and it has opened my eyes to the poems I have and the potential within in them.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Josephine Corcoran's pamphlet launch

Jo Bell
 Here are my pictures from Josephine Corcoran's pamphlet launch last night at The Poetry Cafe in Covent Garden. The pictures are not great as I was sitting at the back and I didn't want to use a distracting flash but Isabel Rogers blog has some nice photos and a great post about the evening which I can't better!

It was great to meet Josephine who I have followed for a while (I think we originally 'met' through an online poetry course with The Poetry School) and to hear her read from The Misplaced House. I was also pleased to hear Jo Bell read as I know a little of her work. She was funny! Other poets reading were Joe Duggan and Matt Haw. It was a really good evening with great poetry.
Josephine Corcoran

Josephine Corcoran

My signed copy!

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

After disappointment comes......

After the disappointment of yesterday came news that Areopagus are printing the two poems I sent them in their Christmas issue. After all these years (they've been publishing me for quite a number of years now) I've recently been chatting via email with the editor about writing, self publishing and books. We seem to have a lot in common and it is nice to have someone else to chat to about writing as I find it a lonely occupation at times. My friends just don't understand my obsession!

At my Friday sport session I got chatting to a lady who is relatively new and we also found we had a lot in common. She writes poetry and she seems to have the same sense of humour as me (a bit off the wall at times!). We are going to swop poems on Friday! It was great to talk to someone and not feel guilty about talking so much about writing.

I've always avoided writing groups but I'm wondering whether I should join one or perhaps to attend a few courses. These are things I am contemplating in those odd moments when I have time at the moment.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014


I should not write a blog post when I'm in this mood. I'm bound to say something I regret! This morning I had a email from the editor of Acumen to say my poems didn't make it. Deep down I already knew this. Some time ago now I was informed  that two of the four poems I submitted had made it to the shortlist and that I would hear by the end of November whether they had made it into the journal for January. Of course I was excited and the waiting was awful. One minute I was up, the next down. When I didn't hear I feared the worst. So it doesn't come as a shock just a huge disappointment. I was told there were around 1,000 poems submitted and the decision was hard. Is that a comfort? Not really. I just wanted publication in something a little more prestigious on my poetry walk. Right now I'm not sure what I feel so I just won't think about it.

Friday, 28 November 2014

The trials of editing

Coming down to earth after NaNoWriMo (though the novel is still on my mind), I decided to do a little editing on previous writing. Went back to a story I'd written at least a year ago which I'd previously edited quite heavily but still wasn't happy with over the ending.  In fact I did yet another edit as well as changing the ending! Now I'm not sure what to do with it. The piece is a little over 15,000 words so too long for a short story, not long enough for a novella and seems to sit in the less likely area of a novelette. To get it to novella stage I'd have to write an extra 2,000 words. The piece is a mystery/ghost type of story. Where do I go with it now?

Ah the dilemmas of writing. Before I do anything else perhaps I should now run off a hard copy again and see how it looks on paper. Maybe there is another edit in there! Perhaps I should try and find someone to read it.

Titles are always something I struggle with. It's bad enough with poetry but stories are harder. This current piece I'm editing has had a working title which is awful. I've come up with something a bit better but I'm still note sure it has the right feel for the type of story so I suppose the whole thing is still a work in progress. It would be nice to have one of my stories at a point when I could submit. They take so long to write and edit!

Sunday, 23 November 2014

NaNoWriMon 2014 - winner! (now where did I put my life!)

'working title' only
My days of rising early to get word counts completed, of zoning out and into character's lives, plots and picturing new scenes at odd moments are over. Yes, friends I have made it. The novel is finished - I have reached the magic number of 50,000 words (and some) with a week to spare, despite starting a day late with the vaguest idea of what I was doing.

When I say the novel is finished there is a ton of work needed on it. What I have is the bare bones of a story with potential. I know the writing has suffered, my characters are not developed fully, the sub plots are almost there but need some additional work for them to gel completely. I got to know characters I wasn't intending to get to know that well as the story dictated. As for research well, that could take ages! (Yesterday at our church Christmas Fair I bought four books for £2, three of which are crime novels!). I've got a bit hooked on crime all of a sudden - I wonder why?

Would I do it again? Possibly not. It has been a great challenge and experience  but the writing did suffer with the speed I had to go at. I will now put it away for a some time and then the first thing I will do with it when I do dig it out again is to read it all through and note down stuff I didn't make of note of while I wrote (things that I forgot later and guessed at or left with question marks), draw up proper time lines and get a feel for what is working and how to improve it. The book on Police Procedure finally arrived yesterday so I will read through that but I fear it doesn't cover all I need. However, my eldest son (bless him) pointed out to me last week that indirectly I do know two people in the Police Force, one of whom is in CID. I'd not even thought about them and it was right under my nose.

First thing to do now is find my life again and start thinking about Christmas. I have lots of poetry 'out there' which I'm waiting on as well as one short story and I have tons of books to read, things to do, places to go.

I don't think I will miss these characters as much as the ones in my previous novel but I suspect that might be because I haven't spent as much time with them, one month as opposed to six months. And I need to return to that first novel at some point.

I did learn a lot from taking part in the challenge. I learned I enjoyed crime more than I thought. It led me to some interesting places and though I struggled I found I could write about some things I don't necessarily know about and that I have more than one story in me!

I already have an idea for something else which is entirely different. It's just a seed at the moment and there is no time for it yet to germinate and it may not come to anything. It's in my head only. But for now I'm winding down as this year comes to an end. I need to take stock and make some decisions.