Monday, 20 March 2017

March - submissions and edits

This month I've been concentrating on editing and submissions as well as honing an agent pitch. The latter has caused me sleepless nights as time runs down and I think 'What am I doing?' and I feel my novel is not worthy.

I met up with the ladies from book club last week and they were so supportive. One lady even gave me some strategies and good advice on changing my negative thoughts. All she is right and sometimes I even manage it. I know when I speak about my writing I light up because people have told me that. If only I can do it when pitching. Maybe I should take the book group with me!

I've agonised over the pitch (I'm meeting two agents in two week time). I sent it to a friend and she came back with an important point. I needed to hook the agent in the first line and mine was a bit....stereotypical. I did some more researching and re-wrote it and sent it to her again stating a couple of books mine were similar to. Between us we decided I needed that in. Otherwise she thought it was good. Well, I think it's the best it can be. At least I finally understood what the story was actually about.

This month I've also been published twice online - Visual Verse and Paragraph Planet and I'm still considering a couple more submissions for this month.

I've been doing some writing exercises using Bridget Whelan's book Back to Creative Writing School. I've managed to get two short stories out of it so far. I'm enjoying the prompts. I also asked my Facebook friends for some ideas, like give me a name and setting etc. Two people responded and I ended up with two stories which I shared - I like to give back! One is set in Italy (the friend lives there) and I did a little research using maps of the city she mentioned. I wanted to have some sort of authenticity to it, though I've never been there. It was fun to do.

I've been making notes for a potential new novel but I'm not in the right place to write it yet. I have too many other things that need wrapping up and dealing with. Still, you can never have too many ideas in the pipeline.

Well, that's me for now.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Where has my enthusiasm gone?

I managed one scene while away. Tapping on my mini
keyboard and tablet
This happens. I've just returned from holiday and when I'm away I pack in the visits and walk my legs off. I come home exhausted. All I want to do is sleep and read. Right now I haven't a single urge to write, though I suppose writing this IS writing, but you know what I mean.

Maybe it's because I am not currently writing a novel and most of my work is out there. During February I submitted twelve pieces. I don't think I can do that again!

Before I left home I was working on a piece for this months Visual Verse picture challenge. The new picture came in late so I was still at it at 11 o'clock at night. In the morning I was editing and re-editing and fired it off before we left for Liverpool. While I was away I had an email via Twitter to say my piece was up! So on page 26 is my poem entitled Imprint - if you want to dive over there for a read.

Today I had this niggling thought - what if I don't want to write again. I'm nothing if I'm not dwelling on something. How silly of me. I've been here before and the need to write will come again. Trying to force it won't help, so instead I shall take time to smell the flowers! Somewhere along the line a thought will enter my head and I'll be tap, tapping away.

I do have a plan for this year - a sort of three step plan. The only thing I need to do right now is work on my pitch for the Write by the Beach event at the beginning of April. The novel competition I entered in January didn't get me a deal. Just for a moment when I saw the email and read the first line my heart skipped (even though I couldn't remember what I'd sent them!) and then the downfall. I knew it was an outside chance but it still hurt.

Some of you might remember Ashington which I started to put onto a Word Press site and then when I lost my dashboard and couldn't work out what to do I pulled Ashington off and tried Watt Pad and pulled it off there too. I haven't decided what to do with it yet but I have been writing some new scenes for a sequel. I'm looking for one main plot to run through the whole thing again whilst bringing new stories to the residents of the village. I might bring into focus some villagers I only touched on before. I am bringing a new family in, so I have ideas.

I'd also like to write another crime novel but my first has so much work that needs doing. Even so I've made a start on the next. I think of this as dabbling when I have nothing else in the pipeline. I'm a bit going round in circles at present. Perhaps taking this time out will be good for me and I'll come back in a splurge. I've found that before. So here I am waiting for the muse!

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Experimental writing

At writing group yesterday one of the ladies is taking a creative writing course. It might actually be a Masters, I can't remember but it's at a local university. Anyway, what she said really made us laugh. She has been studying experimental writing. She hates it. It's not her but her tutor is full of enthusiasm for it. She had to write a story with these elements. She was stuck and asked someone for advice. Just write anything, whatever comes into your head and makes you laugh she was told. So she did. She explained how she stuck some words in bold and left them in strange arrangements on the page any old way - no thought - and wrote random lines as they came to her. The whole story made us laugh it was so crazy. My final question as I pulled myself together was 'What about editing?' Her look prompted a 'Did you edit?' She said no. She sent it in as it was. Her tutor raved about it and gave her a good mark!

We thought about how long we spent editing our stories and poetry, taking out a word, putting it back, rearranging a sentence and changing punctuation. What we really need to do is write in the experimental way and give editing the heave-ho. Sorted!

None of us at the writing group can understand experimental writing. It's a bit like the pile of bricks, the unmade bed and various art pieces I look at and think a child did it.  Like my friend I could not write in this way except for a laugh, to (excuse my language) take the piss. While our group had the biggest laugh ever, this lady's tutor was taking it all very seriously.Takes all sorts, I guess. Anyone have thoughts or comments on experimental writing? Someone convince me it means something!

Thursday, 23 February 2017

The scary idea of pitching and a shortlisted story

It's taken me a couple of months but I decided to order a print copy of Gold Dust magazine in which a story of mine was published in December. I wanted time to read the rest of the magazine, and though it is freely available to read online I was struggling with the small print despite zooming in. Yesterday my copy arrived. I'm glad I spent money to get hold of it. It is concrete proof I was published there! I was that excited opening it.

I can also tell you that I was shortlisted for the Retreat West Prize (short story). I heard a while ago that I was longlisted and thought that would be the end of it. I was thrilled even so. I then got through to the next level - shortlisted. Unfortunately I heard the other day that I didn't get into the top three. I am disappointed but then again I got further than I ever thought possible and it has given me encouragement. My story will be published in the anthology due out in the summer and I believe there is a cash prize and an invite to the launch. So, when I have recovered from the disappointment I will see what a great run I've had with this story. I am proud of this achievement.

February has been a busy month for me. I've been going crazy with submissions - competitions and a few magazines. I seem to have reached a stop now. Maybe I'm out of steam. In April I am attending Write By the Beach run by The Beach House Academy. I went along last year for their first writers' conference on a Saturday (held in Brighton). This year is over a weekend and every delegate gets the chance to pitch to an agent/publisher (two if you are there for the weekend). So, I've been tearing my hair out over a sixty word document for a novel to pitch. It was hard to condense an 84,000 word novel down to 60 words and hope it sounds irresistible. I know pitching is a great opportunity and everyone suffers with nerves but I felt ill just preparing this. Sometimes I think I should opt out and just enjoy the weekend because I know I'll worry the whole time. But then again that would be stupid. It's at these moments I think my writing is rubbish and no will be interested, yet I've had great feedback from ladies from my book group on stories I've shared with them  - they are so supportive - my first fans! God bless them!

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Three successes and a wallchart

Just to say that the prize draw book (Mslexia Indie Presses Guide)  went to fellow blogger Sue Flint. Do pop over there for a read. of her blog. Congratulations, Sue! It's on it's way.

I've been plugging away at submissions and on Sunday I was published by Paragraph Planet, a short 75 word piece, and today I have another flash story on Visual Verse. I love their picture prompts. They offer great challenges. This month's one certainly was! I head over there at the beginning of each month to see what they've come up with and try to submit every time. I find this great practice and all the prompts I've responded to have brought very different pieces, things I might not normally write. Why not head over there and see if for yourself what they are doing.

Finally after those frantic last submissions of December to the Kingston Library Poetry Competition I heard that I had won second prize. My poem is due to be uploaded on their website this week (hopefully) and I have a £20 book token coming. Unfortunately there is no prize giving night but they've just splashed out on a total re-fit of the library (due to open later this month) and probably can't afford the refreshments!

With Writing magazine came a great Writing Year Planner. I have no space of my own in which to write so hubby suggested I stick it on the lounge door. So that's where it is. I've written in my successes this year so far (pink highlighter) and how many submissions I make a month (6 in January) and all the good stuff like the Brighton Write By the Sea Conference I'm attending in April and my walking holiday. No failures are allowed on this chart. This is purely for encouragement and everything good.

Monday, 30 January 2017


Everything to hand - The Royal Foundation
of St Katharine, Limehouse
My recent retreat in London had me penning a short story, a poem and other notes. I used my time well - a walk in the morning and either lunch out or back in my room. The afternoon was usually spent either reading or writing and often both. The evenings I spent online catching up with emails and watching BBC iplayer or ITV Hub. I should point out that there was no TV in the bedroom, in fact I never saw one in the whole building! This was, after all a Christian retreat/conference centre, though no one bothered you. I chose it because I hoped it would be quiet (it was) and it offered nice B&B services, and for a single bedroom it was much bigger than I've had in hotels and came with a desk and chair.

The wi-fi was really good except on my last night when I was trying to get on to the Mslexia website for Mslexia Max, a three hour live session with Q&A from writers, agents, prize draws and on the spot writing competitions. (You had to have an account with them to participate which I had). When I tried to get on it wouldn't accept my password so in the end I re-set it, bit the slowness of the internet was driving me crazy. I watched the little blue thingy going round agonising slowly. By the time I got on (I was already 20 minutes late) it was half an hour or so into the first hour. Then it took me a while to find my way round the different bits. I commented on the general forum and then found the flash fiction competition. A 300 word piece prompted by a photo. The competition was up for one hour but as I was so late getting there I was only at around 80 words when I had to accept I wouldn't make it. (I've saved what I've written and may go back to it).

I joined in with the Q&A with Val McDermid but my question got there too late for her to reply. Are you getting a pattern here? I entered one prize draw for Val's latest book but didn't win. BUT I did enter the poetry competition. Again I entered that area late because there was so much going on in different sections. The criteria for this was a four line verse (which didn't have to rhyme - mine did) on the theme of either balloon or night. I chose night. I couldn't believe it when just after the live session finished I found I'd won the night category. My prize is a years free subscription to the magazine, a free year for the online members section, and a copy of the Mslexia Indie Presses Guide 2016/2017.

Now, as I already have a copy of the Indie Presses Guide (and very useful it has been to me so far too) I am giving away my newly acquired copy in a prize draw!!

To win this most excellent book all you have to do is comment on my blog (maybe why you'd like a copy of the book) and leave your name. The winner will be picked at random (a computer generated random picker so it's all fair) next Monday 6th February. The winner will be announced that day and I will give an email address for that person to use so I know where to send the prize. You have a week!

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Mini retreat

A nice conservatory to write and read in
If you have been reading my other blog (and why wouldn't you?) you will know that I am at present on a sort of retreat - a retreat to walk, read and write. This is my second full day (only one left to go 😩 ) Apart from all the walking and photo taking I have been writing. Oh yes, I have my laptop, my notebook, a case load of pens and pencils, a copy of Writing Magazine and the book Writer to Writer where my prompts are coming from.

The author of Writer to Writer, Gail Carson seems to be a writer of children's mythical/fantasy books so a lot of the prompts are rather child orientated, such as 'write about two school friends/dragons' etc. Not me. However, some of the prompts work. I substitute the kids for adults and put them in similar situations and one story I've written does have creatures from another place. So, I am expanding my genres. When a prompt doesn't work (there are usually 3-5 in each chapter to choose from) I use something similar. Yesterday's chapter offered nothing I could work with in story form so I turned it around and wrote a poem instead. You make things work for you. I've ended up with all sorts of flash and short stories using this book, despite it not being quite what I thought it was to work with.

I am writing something daily. Being on ones own really helps! And just to prove that work is happening here are a few photos.

A comfy lounge

My desk

The treat drawer!

Work in progress

[I am staying in Limehouse in London (The Royal Foundation of St Katharine)]