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Showing posts from 2017

Weddings, Birthdays and Exhaustion

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This past week has been consumed by busyness, meaning I have not had time to prep or write this post until today.


My daughter had her birthday and party last weekend. My son had his birthday in the week but his party isn't until next Saturday. Then of course there have been wedding preparations in earnest, with less than 4 months to go until the big day!

Also, with it being the end of the school year, there has been a lot of activity at my daughter's school, mainly about moving up. Monday it is her sports day, and I have a meeting beforehand with the Special Needs Co-Ordinator at my son's school.

So I am sorry that this post is a bit awry, and not at all what you were expecting. Normal service will resume shortly :)


A load of Hot Air

Last Saturday, I went to the final talk at my local Literary Festival.

It wasn't what I had expected or hoped. In all honesty, I am not sure what it was that I expected, or hoped!

There was free tea and coffee, and after the talk there were free pasties and cider, which I couldn't take advantage of as I had promised Him Indoors that I would go and enjoy some wine and pizza with him.

I went to listen to screen writer Debbie Horsley, who has adapted the Poldark novels for the BBC. There weren't any novelists or short story writers at the event this year, and Debbie was the closest I was getting to fiction. She has written other TV dramas which weren't adaptations. So she was the most obvious choice for me to go and listen.

It was interesting, but I couldn't say I came away feeling inspired. I have figured that a Literary Festival - or ours at least - is more for readers to attend.

I pointed out to the director of the festival that I would like to see more novellis…

Police, Camera, Action!

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June kicked off with a trip to the Staffordshire Police Headquarters for their annual open day.

We have been going for a couple of years now, and this year it was probably the best it has been, despite there being no helicopter. We did have a fly by from the Midlands Air Ambulance on their way back to base following a call out though!

I met 'Mozza' from the current episode of Cops UK: Bodycam Squad. I tried to get a selfie but it didn't turn out right! I am new to this selfie game. I also had a go on Virtual Reality. I couldn't get up and walk around, but  had an Xbox controller to make 'myself' walk forward etc. but to look over things I had to lean forward. At one point I ran, but it made me feel very woozy, almost travel sick like! The man who was showcasing it said that there will be VR available with headphones and sticks for your hand so it will be a more wholesome experience. However, this is not yet widely available. I am not a tech geek, but I really w…

Time to Take Stock

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Focus. That is what I am always being told to do. I think lack of focus is the catalyst of procrastination.



I've been trying to refocus on my goals, and realised there are just too many. So I decided to focus on one or two. I chose two because I made a commitment to myself and a fellow blogger to post here once a week. The second is that the novel needs to be my primary focus. I might enter a short story comp once a month or so, but the novel is the priority.



And since I made this decision, writing has been more satisfying. the story that has been trying to escape for ages is finally beginning to take shape. It is in the outlining stage at the moment, but I am getting a clearer idea of where it is going to go. This will be much better than my previous stop-starts where I get a few chapters in and find out that I am going in the wrong direction.
I will be blogging more about the outlining process as I go through it with this book. I must say, the excitement I felt at finally wri…

Plotting V Pantsing

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In my last post, I talked about task management. I think it is very important to know what it is that you want to achieve in the time you set aside for writing. A lot of writers have a habit of procrastinating. I think a lot of this is not knowing what to do next, or what needs to be done to achieve a goal.

I thought I was a pantser - someone who heads into a project with minimal planning, and so I rarely knew what I needed to get done. I have since discovered that whilst I like the creativity that comes from writing a story without knowing the full details, that is where I fall down. I stop, not knowing where I am going. So I have decided to become a plotter.




It makes sense, to have a road map of where the story is going to end up. And it solves the issue of poor endings, something which I have personally struggled with. Plotting and planning is where creativity is set free, and mistakes are less costly in terms of time.

Previously I would have thought that planning was a waste of …

Chaos: Controlled

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I have been so chaotic recently. To try and control the chaos I have had help from cleaners, mentors and the internet.

"I need to manage my time!" was what was going through my head pretty much constantly. I felt like I had too much to do, and not enough time in which to do it. But I have realised that time management isn't the issue. Yes, I may still need a bit of help to get everything done, but as I sit in the time allocated for my writing, I often twiddle my thumbs. Now, I know my other half (who thinks he is the boss) will not be impressed with this obvious lack of productivity. I can hear him in my head as I type saying 'Just Bloody Write!". And whilst that is probably the best advice anyone can give a writer, it isn't helpful if you are missing one thing. It is management of a different thing all together. Task management. I can do the writing. But when I come to the end, I lose all focus. I can lose focus in the middle, even in a short story. My ta…

I am still here.

A very quick post.

Last weekend was my Hen Party. Sadly I didn't get my blog post ready to post in time. Friday and Saturday were spent preparing for Saturday night. Sunday and Monday were spent recovering :D

I had fun, and now I am back in the saddle. The post that was supposed to go up last week will go up next Sunday, and I think it is very apt!


To Write, or Not To Write.

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Apologies in advance for being so late with this weeks blog post.

Life got in the way. I have the cleaning fairies in today but last week I had to concentrate on decluttering, and that is a mammoth task when you haven't done it since you moved in nearly 4 years ago! But today is the start of a new chapter.



I was considering whether I really should be a professional writer or a hobbyist. This came about after I was asked a question about why I write. My answer was true: Because I have to.

Writing for me is like breathing. I need to do it. If not, I start to suffocate and gasp for breath. But that doesn't mean it is something I (or anyone else in this sort of situation) should do professionally.

But the answer came when I said that I don't see the point in writing stories if not many people will read them. By that I meant that if I was a hobbyist, the most likely audience would be family and friends, if that. But professionally, the aim is a couple thousand (or millions!) w…

A Very Quick Hello

Another rushed blog. I do have one in first draft, but it needs more editing. This post will come to you in first draft format!

It is Bank Holiday Weekend here in the UK. I don't have much planned though, but the weather looks like it might be nice for a change.

I had a meeting with my mentor Friday night. We discussed planning and I am working towards having regular meetings with myself to plan the way forward.

She described it as being on the business, and being in the business. When I am writing, I am in the business and I have to forget the planning and whys and wherefores and just write. But I need to make time to plan where I want to go, and whether what I am doing is going to help or hinder those goals.

So, my first meeting has been held tonight. I have a vague idea of how to proceed. I have to focus on decluttering primarily, as I am having some help to clean the house in the next couple of weeks. And you can't clean clutter. But if my recent productivity is to go by,…

Slow Moving

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It is very nearly the end of April - month 4 of a 12 month calendar. More than a quarter of the way through 2017. Why am I telling you this? So you can be annoyed too, at the fact that I have achieved nothing.

Okay, I have kept to my resolution of one blog post a week. It is hard to come up with ideas each week, but I manage it, somehow.

I have booked myself in to hear Debbie Horsefield at the Stoke-on-Trent Hot Air Literary Festival.

I have written one and a half short stories. One is complete and first draft, the other is an idea.

Not a total failure, but nowhere near where I wanted to be at this point in the year. Which is why I got myself a mentor. And it is the best thing I have done.



I am not unfocussed any more. If I don't do what we agree on, I need a good reason to give to her. And I need to really get organised.

The kids return to school next week, and they have been part of the issue with me not getting much work done. But I can look forward to some time next week. …

Happy Easter

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I am keeping this post short and sweet.

I have several ideas for the future of this blog, which is great as I am planning harder, and working smarter. Why and how? I have a new mentor. I am following her advice on planning the quarters, so I have goals. I am really going to work hard at writing. I don't think I have enough to do, but as I am a mother as well, I think I should try not to over burden at the start. I can slowly build up my work load.

So after Easter, my blog is going to take a slightly different direction. It will be more writing centric. I was thinking how I struggle week on week to decide what to write about. So I thought I will focus more on the actual writing life. It will cover things that I find as I develop, and what advice I find works and so on. I will post more about problems and how I plan to overcome them (demanding toddler anyone?) and whether I succeed. I will impart my wisdom. I say that with my tongue in cheek, as I am far from wise. I am just pickin…

Take Note Part 2

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The last time I talked about using a notebook, I set myself a challenge of noticing -and writing down- 3 things a day. I failed. Which is a shame, as I need that sort of richness in my stories. Perhaps I will try again.

But another reason for having a notebook, and you will have heard this before, is to capture ideas.




I struggle with this. I think it is the identification of ideas. I can be walking along, and my mind would be something like this:

Oh look. That would make a great story. Maybe she gets robbed? Then after she meets her future husband. A paramedic? Would she be that hurt and injured? Is it robbery? Must check the facts. How old is she? She must be young. So why was she robbed? At a cash point? How about if she is the police, and is on the case. What if she learns that the robber is someone she knows. Or how about no one gets robbed at all. Let's make it nicer. Must re-read the problem page. That third problem had something in it that would make an excellent short story…

Take Note

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Note taking. Something I am pretty useless at. Something that, even when I do actually do it, when I re-read at a later time, I forget what it was I was doing or thinking.



Writers are always encouraged to keep a notebook, and not only that, but use it.

I am going to go to grass roots. I want to take note. I want to note 3 things a day for a week.

I did an exercise in a Teach Yourself book recently. The exercise asked me to describe a classroom from my childhood, the best that I could. I dutifully did so, describing the classroom that I was in when my mother pulled me out after my dad went missing. My description was based on things I saw. There were no sounds, no smells, no touch. I didn't describe the teacher, or the carpet. I described where the table was in relation to the blackboard, the teachers desk and the reading corner. I described how the desk that I occupied was right next to the door and there was a window behind me. I described the colour of the bookcase, and if I r…

Happy Mother's Day

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Here in the UK, today is Mother's Day.



I have noted over the years I have been a mother, that Mother's Day always falls on the Sunday of the weekend that the clocks go back an hour. Why is that? Are we not exhausted enough?

Anyway, I don't personally expect anything special. Maybe a chance to relax, watch films with the kids (would be ace), and just enjoy their company. I am very lucky to be a mother, and every day I am treated wonderfully by the two children who are at home with me.

The other morning, my youngest told me, unprompted, that I was the best mum in the world. She is always saying nice things to people. The first time she meets someone, she will always find something nice to say about them. When returning from school with her big brother and a friend of his, when his friend also said bye to her, she said that the friend was very kind.

My boy is just as wonderful. If I am stressed out, he will get the candles on. He may not say he loves me often, or that I am …

How To Be A Better Reader

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Do you want to read more? Be a better writer? Or just have a plan?

Then plan your reading!

Develop a reading strategy that will make the most of your time and help you develop as a writer.





Choose 24 Books

I had a 12 writing book goal at the beginning of the year. That is to read 12 books on the subject of writing. I am going to put another 12 on top of that, but fiction. You could choose 24 non-fiction or fiction, or just mash them up at whatever takes your fancy. That works out at roughly 2 per month - if we had started in January. But I am sure it is still doable.

Read

Read some books in your genre, some outside your genre, read old books, read brank new books, read obscure books, read Pulitzer Prize books.

Don't Read

Don't read more than 2 books at a time. Any more than that, and whilst you might retain some info, if you want to check a fact or something, you might forget which book it was in.

Write

Write a list of all the books you want to read. Pick 24 for 2017. Whenever a n…

Being Inspired

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This week as I turned up at the computer to write this blog post, I was uninspired. So I read chapter three in 'On Being A Writer', which is about surrounding yourself with things that enrich the writing life that each of us lead. I felt overwhelmed at the idea. I came to the conclusion that what I need is lists and organisation.


I am a list person. I love two books by Simon Whaley: The Positively Productive Writer and Wunderlist for Writers. As you can tell, these probably hold the answers that I need. But I find that if I spend all my time writing and reading, I don't want to know about it any more!

I like to switch off. I find that I don't switch off when I read. My mind is always working. I am often inspired. I then find myself inundated with things to do. But if I just stopped a minute, and wrote a list, and organised myself, perhaps I could then see the wood for the trees.

I know that I have sort of rambled and veered off from what I originally intended. Perhaps …

Reality Check

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A couple of weeks ago, I discussed what my ideal writing day would look like. I promised to tell you what my real writing day looks like, and you will see that it is rather different!


My days start with me pressing snooze on my alarm more times than I can count in that sleep deprived state. My alarm is set for 6:45am but you will unlikely see me before 7:15am. Then I stumble into the kitchen and switch the kettle on, whilst preparing smallest’s breakfast. I pour a cup of boiling water – intentionally, I haven’t forgotten to add coffee – and sit and attempt to hear the news over smallest’s incessant chatting between mouthfuls. If boy isn’t up by the end of the regional news, I go wake him. He gets up and gets his own breakfast before getting ready for school. Then I can get rid of him. Once he is gone it is time for coffee and to get dressed.
Then I clean, and just be mum to smallest. Then it is time for smallest to eat lunch and to get ready for nursery. When I have dropped her off, I g…

Five Years Time

I got a book from the library, the updated 'Blogging for Dummies', and I have started reading it in search of inspiration. I thought that starting at the beginning would be boring, after all, this isn't the first time I have been a blogger. But this is probably the only time I have set out with the intention of doing it over a long period of time. It talks about thinking where you want your blog to be in 5 years time, and what the purpose of the blog will be. The book sets out some questions to help figure out the answer to that. I struggle imagining 1 year from now, so these really helped me get to grips with my blog's future. I have answered those questions below:

What level of commitment are you willing to make to blogging?

I intend to post once a week. This includes 3 drafts, so the final post is always edited several times.

Do you like writing? How's your typing?
I do like writing, yes. But I find writing non-fiction harder than fiction. And essentially, my blo…

Perfect Writing Day

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Do you have 'day envy' when you read those columns titled 'My Writing Day'? I know I do! Very rarely do I see one that tallies with my day. But many of them are what I would like my day to be like. So for this post, I thought I would set a timer for ten minutes and free write on what my perfect day would look like. I have tried to be as true to myself as possible, but I do think I have been influenced by such columns.

My perfect writing day starts with me waking up. I would then go downstairs and make coffee and breakfast. The kids would probably be awake, and I would feed them. I would sit down with coffee and breakfast and check the news, my Facebook and e-mail. I would also write a list of things to do. I would then send the kids off to school, and do the dishes, put a load of laundry on, before settling down to write. I will be a full time novelist so most of my day will be taken up by a current novel in progress. I would write a few short stories in between. I wo…

Writing With children

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"There is no more sombre enemy of good art than the pram in the hall." -Cyril Connelly

Cyril Connelly probably gave the most controversial quote of all time. It is often discussed in one way or another, when writers (or artists!) cry over the difficulty of getting things done with little people in the house.

When my eldest (11) was a baby, he was not demanding. He would sit in the same spot for hours, even once he could move around. He is being investigated for various developmental and learning disabilities. He wouldn't sleep, still doesn't, but eventually we taught him to just stay in his room. I was a pretty happy, confident young mum, in part time employment. I wrote most days, and had plenty of time to mull ideas over.

Then came my youngest (3). The only peace I get is when she is at school or asleep! When she is awake and I am responsible for her, my time is in high demand. At this point in the writing of this post I have been interrupted no less than 4 times - f…

Writing Space

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As writers, we can be very fussy about where we work, thinking that we need some magic ritual to be successful.  I know that if I want to do something, then I like a clean, tidy environment. For instance, I cannot sit down and crochet, or watch TV if there are jobs to be done. Now that isn't to say that my house is tidy. It is far from it. But that orderly environment is something I strive for on a daily basis, even though I fail at it often.

Currently, I don't have an office. This is something I really wish I could have, but space and money doesn't permit. At the moment our dining room acts as laundry room (we have a tumble dryer in here) office, and until recently a playroom.

Here is a picture of this space as I write:
If you look closely, in the background there is a computer desk, which is used for piling the stuff that has accumulated on the dining table when it is time to eat!
I know I said I needed clean and tidy, and this photo shows something other than that. What…

How Expectation Can Help You

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We are near the end of the first month of 2017. How are you doing on your new year goals?


Previously, I mentioned that goals needed to be SMART, but knowing what keeps you motivated will help you in achieving them. When we set a goal, we are setting expectations. Gretchen Rubin, author of 'Better Than Before', describes two types of expectations: outer and inner.

Outer expectations are those placed on us by others (deadlines, law) and inner expectations are those we place on ourselves (cut back sugar, get out more).

Gretchen also explains, how we all possess one or more of four tendencies: Upholder, Questioner, Obliger or Rebel. - and these are closely linked with how we respond to expectations, and therefore whether we are likely to meet our goals.

Upholders generally respond to both inner and outer expectations.
Questioners question expectations. But if they agree with the expectation, they will follow it.
Obligers can meet outer expectations more easily than inner expectat…

On Being A Writer - Part One

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What makes a writer? I am afraid to say I cannot answer that question. I guess the answer is as individual as each of us.

However this is what has been posed to me as I read 'On being A Writer'. I'm currently working towards identifying as a writer.

Now I have already written one full length novel, tried to edit it (to no avail! It is beyond help), and moved on to write a few short stories. I have restarted the same writing course, again to no avail. But I am always writing.

I have started many blogs, but never followed them through. Yet here I am again. Right now, on my hard drive is over 2000 words across a variety of projects. The thing I need to do is write. When I think of my dream job, I am the novelist. My fantasy is to write stories, to tell stories. There is nothing in me more than this.

My fiance says I am a writer because I write. I challenged him to NaNoWriMo last year. He was full of ideas, yet not a word was written. He says that is because he isn't a wr…

Murder in Mind

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In my last post I mentioned I wanted to read 12 books this year, to do with writing. I chose 'On Being A Writer', and I have started on that. However, in my desire to write a story, I have also started reading two others: 'From Story Idea to Reader' by Patsy Collins and Rosemary J Kind, and 'Writing Crime Fiction' by Rosemary Rowe.

I am not yet ready to talk about what I have learned from On Being A Writer, but I look forward to working my way through it. I haven't completed the other two, but I will say that 'From Story Idea to Reader' is a good all round guide, for anyone interested in writing fiction, in any genre. I have found it informative and useful. Through reading it, even though not even a quarter of the way through, I now have a possible setting for a story I am working on. I will be continuing reading it, and see how it helps. No doubt it will be one of those books I turn to again and again.

'Writing Crime Fiction' is especially …

SMART Goals are Clever

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The kids are back at school this week following Christmas break. December 2016 saw me running around like a headless chicken, with school plays, craft mornings, additional church services and family commitments weighing in on any time I had. Not to mention shopping for presents and food! I do hope that this year, when Christmas comes back around that I am far more organised.

But now the kids are back at school, I have more time to pursue this main goal in my life. Last time I wrote, I gave vague ideas as to my writing goals. Now I have had the time and space to think, I have been able to nail the ideas down into something solid and S.M.A.R.T.

S.M.A,R.T goals are ones that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely.

So here are my long term goals:

To submit 12 short stories

I have earmarked a few competitions, but this goal will keep me writing!

To submit 12 Articles

These can either be ones written for the course, or independent ones. Submission to my tutor does not count…

Happy New Year

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As I write this, 2017 is just days away. I have been very fortunate to find someone who has similar goals as I do, and we have buddied up. This is my first post, not only of 2017 but since I have found a 'Blog Buddy'.

The brief was to get a post up on January 1st. Through our conversations I have learnt that I have quite a bit to blog about. So before I get down to the meat of this post, I thought I ought to get one thing clear. I am going to be going against the rules. All the stuff I read about blogging says that I should focus on one thing, and one thing only. Well, I guess I am not really going against the rules, as that thing is me! I know, it sounds narcissistic, and it really won't be 'me, me, me' but more of a 'what is happening in my little part of the world'. There will be a bit about writing, as that is my main focus. There will probably be a lot about wedding planning as 2017 is the year I finally get married. And after careful consideration, I …