Monday, 29 November 2010

Writelinkers Magazine Christmas 2010

The Christmas 2010 Writelinkers Magazine has just been released. It is a feast of stories, poems and non-fiction with the theme of Christmas and nostalgia.

I'm delighted to say that two of my flash stories have been included in this magazine, along with a brand new piece of non-fiction, which is actually the first piece of non-fiction that I have written for submission.

Please do take a look, it is online and free to view. Be warned, it will make you feel very festive!!!

While I am mentioning Writelink, do visit their flash fiction competition page as well. Tinsel Tales is open to all and they are looking for flash fiction of up to 250 words on a seasonal theme.




Thursday, 25 November 2010

Short Story: Benjamin Smithers

Mr Weaver is out. I sigh with pleasure as I watch his house. He must have been gone for a while. Maybe he’s even due to be home soon. That would be perfection. I slip my card through his door, then hurry back to the van and go on my way. Thick black fumes splutter out of the exhaust as I floor the accelerator to make the onward journey more entertaining.

In the next village a baby squeals, unsettled. I can remember that pitch from when my wife held our babies in her arms, cooing and pacing to lull them to sleep. I wait and watch as the sounds diminish. I can imagine Bethany Morris gently putting her little one down in his cot now. I expect she will settle down for a rest when her baby sleeps. A small smile tries to contort my lips when I see her blinds being closed upstairs. I’ll give her ten minutes.

As I get out of my van and walk towards the door, my finger tingles. The excitement mounts as I reach up and press the doorbell. I hold it that tiny bit longer than is strictly necessary. A high pitched squeal sounds inside, and I smile to myself again. My work is done. The door opens and I say, “Delivery for Ms Morris.”
A dishevelled, bleary-eyed face looks at me as she signs the delivery slip.

“Have a great day,” I say cheerily as I stride back down the path to the sound of the baby's screams.

My special training has paid off. It takes skill to know when people are out or resting. I settle back into the driver's seat and make another mark on my tally chart.

Benjamin Smithers Always Delivers shines on the outside of my van as I speed along the road towards my next victim.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

A Year of Blogging

Once upon a time there was a girl who loved writing stories.

She always said that one day she would write a book, like her hero Enid Blyton.

The girl grew older, passing through school and university, and eventually finding a job.

When the girl became a woman and was into the second half of her twenties, she bought a copy of a big red book to inspire her and told her colleagues she was going to write a novel.

When she was in her early thirties she gave the book to charity and turned her hand to parenting.

It was only when she was thirty-eight that the woman realised it was time to take action. All the years of saying she would write a book one day. What would happen if that day never came? She didn't want have regrets. So, not for the first time, she opened a file and typed the word 'Novel'. But this time she saw it through.

The girl was always a bit nervous and lacking in confidence but the woman was even more so. Someone who seemed to know a lot about writing, suggested she set up a blog. She Googled 'blog', and wondered why anyone would want to read anything that she would have to say. And what would she say, more to the point? But she could tell the friendly stranger knew what she was talking about. So she set one up.

The End

Only it wasn't, was it?

I can't believe it has only been a year since I set this blog up, but when I did I had a real struggle with the idea of referring to myself as a writer. My first couple of posts on here show my nerves but I read them now and feel like a totally different person wrote them.

A lot can happen in a year but by far the best far of it for me has been getting to know so many wonderful people through blogging, Twitter and Facebook so thank you all from the bottom of my heart, and especially thank you for visiting my blog on it's first birthday.

Thank you also to my friend and Editor Sarah Franklin, who suggested that I set this blog up in the first place. We really *will* have to have that coffee one day!

x x x

Monday, 22 November 2010

Storyville: Women Writers Festival

Yesterday I had a day out in Brighton for Storyville: Women Writers Festival. In all honesty I went for one event, which was New Voices and that was because Caroline Smailes was on the panel.

I love Caroline's style of writing and am also an avid follower of the Bubblecow blog so I was really excited to be invited to tag along with Caroline, our mutual friend D.J.Kirkby as well as Clare Christian and Alex Brown before the event. We met up in the coffee shop next to the Brighton museum and Dome, and spent a good few hours having a chat about all manner of things from writing to publishing to families and even more random subjects. I enjoyed it so much; the time seemed to fly by.

The panel itself was meant to include three authors, but one of them didn't turn up, so it was Caroline and Anjali Joseph who both did a reading from their books and told us all about their writing and lives. I found the event fascinating and particularly loved hearing about Caroline's connection with Malta, and seeing her own copy of Like Bees to Honey with it's beautiful hand-crafted cover. Anjali Joseph described her novel Saraswati Park which sounded very interesting and is now on my 'to read' list.

After the panel, I had to say my goodbyes (and a quick hello to another writer I had met previously) and dash off back to the real world of families and houses. The cold water tank in our attic was leaking and my husband was replacing it as well as being on childcare duty. But that's another story...



You can follow the lovely people I spent Sunday with on Twitter:
@Caroline_S @djkirkby @clare166
 @alexbrownbooks  @anjalij

Friday, 19 November 2010

NaNoWriMo: Day 19: It's a NaNoNoNo for me

Day 19. Some of my buddies have already written 50k. I have written much less than that but the good thing is, I am very delighted by what I have written. I love my new characters, I love my story arc and my sub plots and the male characters in it are giving me teenage crush symptoms all over again.

I have discovered something about myself in the past year. When I get ideas in my head and a spark, *that* is my best time to write. Best of all, elsewhere. Not in the house where I look around and see piles of sewing and ironing and washing etc. You know what I mean. I take myself off to my favourite cafe and I can get a good 3000 words out in a stint. If I am in that frame of mind.

This morning I have had to surrender. I'm very behind, the weekend is approaching (weekends for me = no writing), my house is a mess, I need to do a tip run and my head is suggesting the arrival of a migraine. I could sit here and force myself to write a few thousand words. But I'm not going to.

Instead I've decided to be pleased with what I have so far, and carry on with it in my own time.

Some may see this as admitting defeat. I am actually very happy about my decision. I don't want to write paragraphs of meaningless nonsense this year, only to cut it out during my first edit. I want every word to count.

I hope that everyone else gets what they want from NaNoWriMo. I am feeling very positive now I have made my decision. I'll let you know when my first draft is finished!

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

NaNoWriMo: Day 16

We're over half way through November now. Does that sentence make you smile with a sense of achievement, or will me to be quiet and not go on?

Have you made it past the 25,000 word stage? No? Me neither. For those that have, many congratulations.

If you are well behind, but still plodding on, pat yourself on the back as you are still on the way to the first draft of a novel. Try to think that each section of words that you write will help you towards that goal, whether you achieve 50k by the end of the month or not. I'll let you into a secret: there are no fireworks or marching bands if you finish on or before 30 November, so really it's not going to matter in the big scheme of things if you don't. It will feel good, yes, but completing a novel a week or so later will feel just as good. Being behind is not a bad thing as long as you are still writing, however slowly. However if you give up completely now (unless you have a really good reason, of course), you may well regret it in six months time.

If you need some help with getting words down in bulk, you may find Write Or Die helpful. I used this tool a lot last year and it really helps you to bulk up your word count quickly.

If your inspiration has dried up a little, you could take a break and try writing a Six Minute Story. This will get both the creative juices and the adrenaline flowing.

Best of luck for the second half! Maybe it's time to open up your file and write a few words?

x

Saturday, 13 November 2010

'Shambelurkling and Other Stories' Published Today

'Shambelurkling and Other Stories' is an anthology of short stories and poems for children between 8 and 12 years of age, which has been compiled and edited by Marit Meredith (The Pages Magazine).

The book is now for sale via Lulu.com as a paperback or download. Whichever format you chose, the National Autism Society will receive £1.06 per copy sold.

I have two brand new stories included in this book and it is a pleasure to be included along with some of my online writing friends: Rachel Carter, Emma Kerry, Mandy K James, Cindy Schuerr, Ruchira Mandal, Trevor Belshaw, Jonathan Pinnock, Sharon Birch and Maureen Vincent-Northam as well as many other wonderful writers.

I hope you will agree that the cover is gorgeous. At just £3.99 a copy, the book will make an ideal Christmas present.




Saturday, 6 November 2010

Determination

I sit and write this, despite my migraine, despite the sound of building work in the kitchen and despite three children being in the house.

I sit and write because I know I can. I know I have to. I have it inside me and I have to get it out.

What's more... I know I will post this post, I will tweet the link on Twitter, and there will be someone who understands. I love the friendship, companionship and support that comes from the writing community.

If it wasn't for the support of others; Twitter users, blogging friends and Facebook friends, I would not be here now writing this, and calling myself a writer.

Out here in the real world I think my writing is seen as a bit of a hobby. A bit of a waste of time. Something that *adds* to my stress. Something that I *bore* people about. All of these things have been said or implied. The truth is, it calms me. I love it. I feel passionate about it and I take great delight from writing things down that resemble fiction.

I think the respect will come from certain quarters only when I start to make money from my writing.

Along with the fact that writing is not just a hobby to me, it is a *part* of me, only serves to make me more determined, more passionate, and more likely, in my opinion, to succeed.

I have been sitting on book one. It's there, it really is. All I need to do is finish off my synopsis and letter and address the email. That's it. Why haven't I? I'm scared... that is all. Scared of rejection. Scared that these people who don't 'get it' could be right.

Yet every week I write stories and people say they like them. I've even had some published. I have a contract for goodness sake. I am in a fighting mood as I write this. People out here in my real world don't realise that being negative about something makes me determined to prove them wrong.

I'm taking part in NaNoWriMo again. Oh yes I am. The people I mention have no idea. They think I am taking a break from my writing. Well I am doing it and I am loving it. I am *ahead of schedule*.

I am also determined now that before the end of November, book one will be out there looking for a new home.

I am *so* going to do this.

My six year old looked up at me on Thursday when I had a copy of '50 Stories for Pakistan' in my hand. He said 'Are you a published writer now, mummy?'
When I said, 'yes' he looked so proud of me. He gave me a big hug and said 'well done'. This is the thing that has meant the most to me out of everything I have ever done with my writing.

I am glad that my first book is a children's book. I know who I am going to dedicate it to.


If anyone has read this, thank you. It's one of those get-it-out-and-set-it-free kind of posts.
It's basically, just me...

Thank you.

x x x x

Thursday, 4 November 2010

50 Stories for Pakistan: My Copies Have Arrived!!



NaNoWriMo: Day 4: Avoiding Distraction

I have discovered something in the past three days. I have a higher level of OCD about checking my emails, Twitter and Facebook than I thought. For the past three mornings I resolved to not look at the Internet until I have written my quota for the day.

As a result by about 10.45 am I have had my quota written and not felt resentful about tackling the housework. This is very different to how I have been previously, as I have been known to spend a whole day panicking about everything that I have to do, and achieving nothing as a result.

I have been doing exactly what I blogged about yesterday, and stocking up on words, as my weekends will be my difficult times and I need a big buffer.

This is obviously easier said than done if you are working or have a house full of children. I use soft play centres as a place to go and let the children run while I write some words. It's not as glamorous as Starbucks, but it works well, as you know they can't get up to mischief or escape from these places, so you can concentrate during the times they are occupied.

As for people who work, I'm guessing that it's early starts, evenings and weekends. Which is exactly the opposite of what I can personally be doing. My children are up early and I am exhausted by the evenings, and at weekends all three of them are at home, along with my husband who is occupied with fitting the kitchen himself.

In summary, we all have to find our own way to carve out our own writing time and at the same time minimise our stress.

Good luck and I hope it is going well for you so far.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

NaNoWriMo: Day 3: Banking

So, how are we doing? Are those fingers flying, or are you still struggling to get into it? Well don't worry as either way is fine in these early days, you still have time to get going if you have not got any words down.

If, on the other hand, your story is flowing fast and you're feeling enthusiastic and inspired, this is the time to try and do that little bit extra and bank some 'credit' for later in the month. You may feel all energetic now, but the buzz of a new project is helping with that. Later on there is the possibility of a slump in your enthusiasm or other reasons perhaps that you may not be able to meet your quota every day. Great Aunt Nelly may stop by for a visit, or worse, as it's the flu time of year... you know what I'm saying.

My advice in these early days is to bank as much as you possibly can.

But on a personal note, please play nicely and think of the other kids. It's not a race other than a personal one, so don't go onto websites and forums and say "Oh dear, woe is me, I only wrote ten thousand words today; please send sympathy". This, my friend, is both scary and irritating to us lesser mortals. Please just fill in that box on the NaNo site, and ignore the urge to brag as much as you're ignoring your inner editor. Think of your poor mate who has yet to get going, and try and give him or her some encouragement instead.

Good luck!

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

NaNoWriMo: Day 2

Yesterday saw the beginning of NaNoWriMo 2010. From reading around the places I visit on the internet I know that there have been people who have gone full steam ahead and there are others who still have yet to write a word.

You can still do this! Don't panic if your best friend has already written 6979 words in a day and is boasting about it all over the internet. Good for them, but this is something you are doing for yourself to be honest. At the end of your month, you'll either 'win' or you won't, so my advice is to not worry too much about what everyone else is achieving. They may have had a completely clear day yesterday, and you didn't right?

I have heard a lot of people having a panic as they do not have a plot laid out. Well, neither do I. Instead of worrying and thinking about it, get some words down. The first few thousand may be absolutely useless and you may well delete them all when you do your edits, but do not delete them during November 2010! Remember: every word counts! So, even if you realise you have written the same scene in six different ways, leave it in. The editing comes later.

Good luck for day 2!

Monday, 1 November 2010

Ready? Steady? NaNoWriMo!

It's the first of November and as such people all over the world are going to begin writing furiously to try and write 50,000 words in a month. Some will have planned meticulously, others (like me) have a vague idea of the age group they are aiming at and maybe one story arc.

Whatever the situation, it's a case of *writing*. It doesn't all have to be grammatically correct, it doesn't even all have to make sense, it's about getting those words down.

Try to sit on your inner Editor and the urge to get every spelling right and every comma in the right place. This is not the time or place for that.

Good luck to everyone taking part! See you on the other side.