Hey Shorty!

This week I received an exciting piece of news. A short story I entered into a competition made the Short List. As a writer it is the sort of news that sends tingles down your spine and puts a smile on your face.

Rejection is part and parcel of the everyday when you write, it comes with the territory. So when you get a short list or long list placing you can be assured that your story has had an impact – it is a wonderful feeling. Some days writing is thankless and hard, it can feel as if you are wading through treacle. You try your hardest to make your story sing only to have it land flat. Moments that make you fly are so important. They serve as a reminder that sometimes, just sometimes you can hold a tune!

Thankfully I do not have to wait too long for the results.

Read & Vote

This week I have a piece of flash fiction in AdHoc Fictions ebook. Issue 170, the theme is ‘need’. Try and guess which is mine – sorry, I’m not allowed to tell you! Why not pop on over and take a peak? Read and vote for the piece that you like., it really is that easy! Enjoy.

The Journey…

My current work in progress has been a long hard slog. It has danced fast and slow, and at times come to a halt. There were moments when I wondered if it was to be an ‘eternal’ work in progress, destined to be placed on the back burner and dusted off every now and again. But I have pulled myself together and viola!

As many of you know, I have been working on an historical fiction novel for the past few years. This has involved an enormous amount of research. I have read books both fiction and non fiction, spoken to historians, and tried to get under the skin of the time period. I have realised that amidst the changes brought on by moderisation and technology, hidden within the cracks of wars and disasters, lies a truth which transcends everything – we, ‘people’, we don’t really change that much. Certain aspects of who we are have remained constant. Like night following day we continue to love and laugh and cry. It has been a wonderful journey, full of so much richness and discovery. Quite what I shall do once I finally hang up the red pen on this one I’m not sure, but one thing I do know is that it has been well worth the ride!

To Be a Good Writer…

Sage advice from the man himself –

To be a good writer, I believe that one has to read a lot of books. Fifty a year would be a good place to start, but twenty five would work... Stephen King.

I shall be putting this good advice into practice over the holiday season.

Merry Christmas everyone x

As Fast As I Can…

No one said this writing lark was easy! Well, if they did they were either lying or delusional.

With lots of ‘life events’ consuming a large portion of 2018, my writing for the most part has taken a backseat. Yes, of course I have dabbled, I have written everyday but not ‘big’ writing. For ‘big’ writing I needed time and headspace, both of which have been in short supply this year.

From birthing puppies (I kid you not), to providing a taxi service for the kids, 2018 has added a few more ‘life lived’ chapters to my story.

With Autumn well and truly ensconced (what a fine word ensconced is), I am getting back into my groove and tap tap tapping away. Dark nights and dark mornings I love them!

Book 3 is back on my desk and I’m editing like crazy. It has been good to step away and come back to it. Amazing what you discover the third and fourth time around!

Now it’s a race to the finish – on your marks, get set… Go!

Feed Your Soul ~ Ramblings of a Writer

There really is nothing finer than writing – except perhaps reading. Both provide food for my soul. There are times when the words refuse to come, so I read. Then, there are the times when all I want to do is read, and so, I don’t write. They are two sides of the same coin, intrinsically linked by my imagination which flows to and from the words on the page and, as much as it pains me, I love it with all my heart.

Yes, dear reader, it pains me – big deep unabashed stabbing pains of self-doubt and inadequacy fill me. A sense of never getting it quite right sits on my shoulder in judgment as I type away. I often wonder where the words come from and at times am left questioning if it really was me that put them there! Perhaps the words are using me, not I them?  A conduit by any other name but a conduit no less. Weird? Not really. Who knows where the words come from. All I know is they burn images and sentences within me that do not abate until they are released.

Each day is a battle to continue, to sit and know that most of what I will write will be dross and disappointing, yet it is because it is dross that I continue. It was Beckett who said ‘Ever Tried. Ever failed. No Matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better’, and that is what I intend to do ‘fail better’.

Don’t get me wrong there are victories, small quiet ‘pat myself on the back’ victories and it is these that make my heart sing. Moments of self-congratulation, however, do not stay long, they are fleeting and come crashing to the floor at every given opportunity.

Sometimes the words I smugly admired not 24 hours before have, overnight, magically transformed into the worst sentences I have ever written! On rare occasions, the opposite is also true and I dance for hours, complimenting myself on such skillful wordplay. But…. when I am there, like really there, in the zone, allowing myself to freefall into the words, there really is no place I’d rather be. It is food for my soul and I love it!

‘Ever Tried. Ever failed. No Matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better’.

Samuel Beckett

Movin on Up ~ Driving Your Story Forward

    We have all been there haven’t we? You are merrily munching your way through the first few chapters of a book that has sat on your TBR pile for a while and then it hits you…. boredom! Yep, mind numbing ‘I’d rather be anywhere but here’ boredom. Like a beautiful car which has been filled with the wrong fuel, the story splutters and then comes to a grinding halt. I have kicked myself so many times for playing the martyr and plowing through to the bitter end only to kick myself a bit more for even bothering to finish it. On reflection what a lot of these books had in common was simple – a soggy middle. At the beginning I’m intrigued, the writing is good and has me turning the pages with glee and then, somewhere, somehow, the tension is lost and the story becomes like a slow moving stream, no I correct myself more like a stagnant pond! Nothing is moving, the characters are not under any sort of pressure to do anything or see anyone, they are just… well they are just there! I don’t know about you but I don’t want ‘just there’ when I’m reading a novel, I can watch TV for that. I want empathy and commitment, as much from the characters as from myself. Commitment comes from making decisions, if nothing is happening no commitments are being made. All of this equals boredom for me, the reader. Don’t get me wrong I am not proposing that there should be twists and turns on every page but the story does need to move forward. Sadly this vacation I have read two such books.

     Sitting here in the Mallorcan sun (photos to follow), I am struck by how important and methodical the editing process needs to be. I don’t want my books to be considered boring and I definitely don’t want a soggy middle! I am the first to admit I write too many words sometimes. Which is why I need to be strong and robust (like a good cup of coffee) when it comes to editing my own work way before an editor gets sight of it.

    I’m sitting poolside trawling my way through the draft of my next novel and three things strike me:

    – Who the hell wrote this?

    – Oh, that’s rather good 

    – What a load of tosh!

    It’s the ‘what a load of tosh’ that is bothersome. These are the sections where I need to channel a high court judge and become harsh but fair! Sometime the ‘tosh’ can be salvaged, sometime not. If there is a meaningful reason for the words to be there I will play around with them. If, however, they are acting as fillers for the main act then they have to go. No ifs, no buts, they must be crossed through with a red pen never to be seen again.

    I have asked myself the same question over and over today – what would happen if the words weren’t there? If I can not defend them then they have to go !

    I am doing well arguing with myself, although the lure of the pool is proving powerful! One more chapter then time for a swim….

    Hashtags and Other Tales

    These days the humble # is found everywhere. Hashtags are a necessary part of marketing as any fun loving marketeer or PR guru will tell you. Started on Twitter their reach now extends across most media platforms.They can be used for fun, wider social or political issues or just because. Love them or loathe them they are here to stay. For authors, they can be a useful way of reaching a wider audience and potentially connecting with new readers. That is of course if you get it right.

    Having cast my eye over today’s trending offerings everything from #internationalbeerday to #FlashbackFriday is filling my twitter feed.So how as a rooky can you even come close to ‘trending’ or at the very least expand your audience? Here’s one thing I’ve learned about expanding your audience which I wanted to share with you. You need to know who the top influencers are in your field.Now, this is where it gets a bit sciencey so bear with me. Top influencers are those tweeters who have received the most impressions for a hashtag from their own tweets and the number of retweets they get. So how do you find them? Ah well… The easiest but also most expensive way is to pay someone to do it for you. Just type into Google ‘top influencers twitter’ and you will be presented with a wealth of companies offering you bespoke services. Or you could do what I did and do it the cheap way! Take a look a company called Klout who offer a free service. Klout allows you to share content and link you social media accounts to see how influential and engaging you have been on social media. Using a fancy algorithm it then spits out your score of influence from 1 – 100. I got 49 so obviously I am not as engaging as I like to think and still have some way to go! What I really like about this app is it allows you to identify the top experts (influencers) in your field who you can choose to follow.You can also monitor how you’re doing via your ‘Klout Score’ which changes dependant on the aforesaid fancy algorithm. It’s a great way of expanding your audience and increasing your online presence.Until recently I had no idea such things existed but as all good indies know it takes a lot of hard graft to raise your wee small hand in the maddening crowd. Simples yes? I hope you too have found this small journey into the unknown helpful 🙂

    #It’sthesmallthings #EnjoyLife #AmWriting #NeverGiveUp #FridayThoughts

    Oh The Things You Can Think…. Finding The Space Between The Words… Progress on Book 3

    I appear to in the throes of a writing frenzy. Whether it’s the longer days, or the (slightly) warmer weather I am unsure.  It doesn’t happen often so when it does, I strap myself in and type as fast as my stubby fingers will allow. Then I hit the wall. I lay exhausted in a crumpled heap until chocolate and caffeine (or wine) revive me. I break only to feed the hungry teens and walk the dog. Everything takes on increased speed and unwavering focus as I hurtle towards my word count. Sound familiar?

    What I hadn’t banked on was the rest of my life becoming equally as crazy.I do like a good dose of procrastination to balance things out, but sadly this week there was no time for it! Procrastination, for me, is like an annoying friend. You can’t wait to see the back of them but then miss them when they’re gone! It has only been a four day week (due to the bank holiday), and even then I had Tuesday off, so technically… well actually, I only worked three days. I know  – I’m a light weight!

    So the book, how’s the book coming along? Well, I’m glad you asked! Last night at precisely 11.45pm I hit 40,000 words! 40,00 words on a book that I had no intention of writing, not bad eh? Yeah, I was impressed with myself too! Suffice to say Lady Virginia Penrose has been very busy and very bossy! I’m aiming for around 85,000 words so you could say I’m almost half way. I’m hoping to get finished before the end of the year, but I’m not going to hold myself too firmly to a date. Writing this book has taken me by surprise so I want to try and find the space between the words, give them time to breathe. Hopefully, it will help the different strands find their way. Which is why this weekend I am leaving it be. Yep, you heard me, I won’t be going anywhere near Lady Ginny. I shall of course still be writing! I have an interesting blog post to write about an Alien and some wine, no I haven’t been drinking, well not yet.

    So me hearties ( oh no, I’ve gone all West Country… must stop thinking about the return of Poldark), pop back tomorrow to hear about the Alien. Until then here is a picture I took at St James Park in London a few weeks ago… I am desperately trying to channel the Swan!

     

    Swan1

     

    A Snapshot from my Mind….. February

    I had no idea I would be so happy to see the start of February. January was full of the ‘T’ word and the news from everywhere was depressing. February already feels more… dare I say it – optimistic! With a rather large spring in my step I am heading for my first ever writers retreat. I have some idea of what to expect, although my knowledge of such gatherings is based on my own expectations more than fact! I hope there shall be lots of writing, not much procrastination and perhaps a glass or two of some nice fizz. Do I expect too much? Quite possibly! I shall report back next week on my findings.

    Work with my latest muse Virginia continues and is proving enlightening. Virginia Penrose is developing into an interesting character with a lot to say! I hope my retreat shall give me a chance to get to know her better. I can tell you the book is set around 1910. Whilst doing my research I came across this old photograph which sums up what’s going on in my head perfectly!

     

    Picadilly London 1910