Saturday, June 30, 2012

Things that get in the way of me writing a blockbuster

1. My husband and children's repeated requests for food - at least three times a day.

2. My husbands books, no he's not a writer, worse self employed and he likes to hide receipts all over the house.

3. Washing, the finding of, the drying of, ironing of, and putting away.

4. Mind boggling stupid homework my kids get. Make King Charles the First head. Seriously?

5. Baking for church, for school, for Brownies, for Guides the list never ever ends. And of course it doesn't count unless you let your kids help you.

6. My TV addiction. There I've admitted it. Definitely the first step.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Are mistakes and failures just part of our journey?

My daughters birthday present was a trip to the Warner Bros Studio, London, to see 'The Making of Harry Potter Tour'. It was no hardship for me, I'm a huge fan. I have to say that it was better than I expected, the detail in all the effects were amazing. Although I found the cafe and souvenirs a wee bit expensive. I'm actually writing my blog in the traffic jam on the way home, so forgive me if I ramble.

The whole family had a great time and my daughter was reduced to tears when she saw the model of Hogwarts.

J K Rowlings success is most writers dream. I wondered how she must have felt wandering along the set of Diagon Alley, seeing her mental creation in 3D? Most of us have heard how her books were rejected at first. But what I didn't realise was how long her first book sat on the bottom shelf of the film makers department. Video footage showed an interview with the person who happily described herself as being on the lowest, tea making, photocopying and shredding, rung of the ladder. She was asked to read the books none of the important people wanted to read and she fought Harry Potters case. It was her 'find' and she fought it's corner. JK and the office junior were both in the right place at the right time the tour told us.

Recently, I was having a chat with a friend concerned about her sons future. She was worried about dead end jobs and lack of opportunities at his college. I've had similar chats with other people, especially when I was teaching. Who knows what is best for a child? What is it about parents that makes them think it's their decision what their children do once they become 15 or 16 years old? I'm not talking about curfews and rules, but about the path they want to tread as adults. As parents we want to help, guide and protect. Of course we want our children to succeed, but does it matter when they fail?

I thought about some of my successes and some of my failures. My girls are asleep in the back seat. And it came as a shock to find that I don't have any real ambitions for my children. I want them to happy. I want them out in the world. I just have a niggling suspicion that surely they will know what is the best career path for themselves. If not, they just have to muggle along like the rest of us, something will turn up it always does. I'm keen to give them things and experiences I never had, I struggle to make sure they go to the Brownies and Guide camp, let have a chance to learn an instrument, I've made sure they get extra help at school when they need it. I supervise homework quite strictly, make it clear that I expect them to work hard and show respect. But I don't think I'm that bothered about what they are going to do in the future. No doubt I will churn out job application advice when the time comes.

It's made me reflect on my own life, especially looking at the art work today. I've done everything myself, pubs, cleaning, selling bacon, and one memorable summer of putting egg mayonnaise on British Rail Sandwiches. The strange thing is that no matter how weird of bizarre or quite frankly gross the job. They have always led to something. I have met someone, heard about something, learnt some life lesson or gained some determination to make changes in my own life.

Being self employed I'm now doing a social media course aimed for people running small to medium sized businesses. You're only as good as your weakest link, mine is the dreaded editing and IT. Last night I was stressed out of my head doing something as simple as a power point presentation, putting images behind a poets words. And I had the depressing experience of my ten year old daughter sorting my mess out.

I wanted to quit. Why bother learning about IT? Why not just ask my hubby the IT specialist, it would take him a few minutes? Why bother with tweeting, texting and blogging? Why struggle through the exercises in my social media course? What does it have to do with my dreams of being published?

The truth is everything. It seems to me that any action is better than inaction. My dreams aren't going to come true unless I do something to put it into place. Good old JK, got rejected then went along to the next agent. She was out there, trying her best to succeed and suddenly she was 'lucky' and got her film break. It's weird that the harder you work, the luckier you become?

Does tweeting sell books? Does it matter? Currently every time I pick up a writing magazine or listen to an agent or publisher speak, they are stressing the importance of social media. My journey has taken me into self employment, which means I need to get a handle on the dreaded IT, which strangely enough is what modern publishers claim they want. Yet things dove tailing like this happens all the time.

Another, writer friend who is currently at Chichester University was describing her life as a 'journey'. Some people have better breaks, true. Others have things a lot worse off. But all you can do is focus on your own personal journey and where it takes you. Too much self reflection and comparison with others is a negative. She also forwarded a great tweet about how we compare our backstage life to the red carpet version of others. It was a fab quote, I even emailed it to myself. She was told she couldn't go to University when she was a teenager. I have such admiration of the bravery and determination it would take to do a degree with young children and the responsibilities of running a household. Uni and twins! Crikey.

My friend is a doctor, and she told me that everything is a job in the end, they all have high points and low points. But her view is that the best option in your working life is not to chase the money, but to find a job where the money chases you. When her daughter finished school she went down the leisure and tourism route. My friend didn't think it was the best idea, but felt her daughter had to make her own choices. After she finished her degree her daughter was working in a bar along side people who hadn't done a degree. The opportunities she thought she would get studying leisure and tourism didn't amount to anything. She's now just gone back to university to study medicine. Where those first three years a costly mistake? Or part of her journey? My friends daughter needed those years on a fun degree, heavy on the socialising side to make her focused and committed to a different career path.

When I was at school I was gifted at Art and Textiles, and I wanted to pursue a career in making special effects. Looking around the tour today the old longing came back. The career adviser read my wish list and gave me work experience in a canteen washing up. My Mum, God bless her wouldn't let me work for free, I was already working weekends at a local food factory, I worked at the food factory full time for two weeks and was the only person in year ten (or fourth year as it was called then) that came out of their work experience with a pay packet. Of course Mum promptly took half of it which was the tradition in the North. Did she care about what options I took? No, as long as we didn't go into prostitution, she was supportive of any job but we had. But we HAD to contributed to the running of the home. The result, I took my examinations at school a whole lot more seriously. Mum wouldn't let me give up my weekend shifts so I worked fourteen days in a row, I went right off bean sprouts I can tell you. Overnight, I felt strongly enough about my education that despite working full time during the summer breaks at school, I decided to leave home so I could study at college and university. My sisters and I have all had to pay rent the moment we left school, even though two of us went to college. And it was cheaper to leave home than pay Mum's rates. But I don't think I would change it. That tough love made me the person I am now. I went on holidays alone, worked abroad, had some great times through the journey I took.

Of course I accept that different backgrounds have different advantages. But it seems to me that each individual needs to have a goal that they are working towards. That goal can change, it's been a long time since I wanted to make vampire masks and draw wounds on actors. But at least I'm out there, trying to learn new things and make successes in my own journey regardless, whether or not I'm the next JK.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Success '1000 words' next!

Walked the dog with a fellow writer this morning and came away all inspired. Then lunch with a poet, looking at lovely images to provide a visual backdrop to her work at The Groundlings Theatre Event.

I was extremely excited to see a piece of my flash fiction posted on the 1000 words website.

They have just changed their submission guidelines, but it's an excellent site to send work to.

Next thing on my list is a new children's literature competition.

It's a brand-new prize for debut children’s fiction, judged with the help of independent booksellers.

The winning book will be published simultaneously in both hardback and ebook formats, and the physical book will be exclusively available through independent bookshops. Deadline 1/12/12

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

50 Kisses

Well it's been a struggled but I have finally finished my entry for the 50 kisses competition.

The competition asks for a two page screenplay set on Valentine’s Night which can be entered it into their free London Screenwriters’ Festival Feature competition (closes June 29th). From the entrants, fifty winning scripts will be chosen by judges. These scripts will then be released to the film making community on July 30th. Filmmakers around the world can then make films based on this rich vein of themed and loosely connected scripts.

I must admit I'm quite excited by the possibility of seeing my work on the big screen. So fingers and toes crossed.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Groundlings Theatre and The Writers @ Lovedean

The Writers @ Lovedean are getting involved in an exciting new event this August. I'm trying to encourage my writers group to step up to the mark and try something a little different with their work.  Best of all there are still places available for other individuals and groups to get involved.  The details are as follows:

Groundlings Theatre is celebrating 300 years since Jonas Hanway was born on the theatre site. Portsmouth's unsung hero. He was the man who brought us the Umbrella. We are looking for all kinds of groups to get involved on Sunday 12th August, 2pm - 5pm. We are looking for any kind of art group or social group individual artist etc. We so far have dance groups, theatre Groups, Kings Theatre, Musicians, magicians, street performers, fine artists, Knitting group, and so much more. It's a great way to promote and get know on this great festival day. Also come along and design your own art umbrella. If you know anyone or would like to get involved yourself, please don't hesitate to give me a call on 023 9273 9496 or email
And its all FREE!!!
Jonas Hanway was born
on the site of Groundlings
Theatre 300 years ago in 1712.
To celebrate 300 years of his
birth, Groundlings Theatre
alongside the Kings Theatre
are putting together a
program of fun activities
for young and old.
Create your own umbrella
and join in the umbrella
festivities with displays,
music, arts and crafts. Why
not relax in our grounds
with high tea available
from the restaurant and
a glass of Pimms.
Sun 12th Aug

Sunday, June 24, 2012

A Room of One's Own

Is the title of an essay that comes from Woolf's conception that, 'a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.'

Surely that sentiment can't exist in a modern world?

Yesterday, I went to a seminar led by Chrissie Lightfoot, author of The Naked Lawyer.

The exercises she asked the group were thought provoking. She stood up in the hall and announced that she works seven days a week, but she also plays seven days a week. She is focused on her long terms goals but while she is working towards her goal she is still living the lifestyle she wants now.

The exercises we performed on our own forced us to get real. We made a list of our business weaknesses and our personal weakness, but they overlap. We carry the same baggage at home and at work. Chrissie's ethos makes sense.

I'm currently writing my blog in a bowling alley with eight 12 yr olds and two 10 yr olds. I'm ready to smash the machine behind me that has Sooty Show puppets keep asking me if I want to play.

My husband wants to know how I feel about his idea's for our personal brand name. We're been brainstorming none stop since the seminar yesterday.

But I'm still writing. Still pushing towards my goals!

I'm energised, excited and motivated after listening to Chrissie.

Yesterday when I was asked to list my dreams I said what I've been saying since I was three years old, my biggest wish is a room of my own! They laughed.

But standing here in this bowling alley, thinking about Virginia, thinking about Chrissie and all her achievements. Lynne Lister and the successful journey she's made in her life, my dear friend Lynne Stone and other inspiring business women. All I can think about is .... I really wish I had a f****** room of my own!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Smell of Deceit Friday Flash

The smell of bleach was so strong, you could bite it.

'Thanks for coming round.'

'Not a problem but I can't stop. I've got to go to back early, she's an orange slice in the school assembly.' Kim said, and then seeing a blank expression added, 'it's on healthy eating.'

'I need to ask you something and I want you to promise to tell me the answer. I won't be upset, but I want to know the truth.'

Kim's, stomach lurched, her friend knew. And worse she knew, she knew. Why didn't she tell her the moment she saw her husband pushing his tongue down another woman's throat? It was Iain's fault, she shouldn't have talked it over with him first. What the hell did he know about women? All that 'it's none of our business, she won't thank you and don't get involved.' She should have gone with her gut. Poor, poor Sophie, she thought as she watched her pull out gleaming glasses from the dish washer. She followed her into the lounge and put her coffee on the coaster.

'I don't know how to say it, but you're always been a good mate. I know you'll tell it to me straight.'

No Kim thought, don't say it, how the hell am I going to explain that it was a full six weeks ago that I saw your husband playing around. She put her coffee on a coaster and waited, she would tell the truth.

'Is there a smell in here?'

Kim was thrown off by the comment, 'yer what?'

'I can smell summat, but I can't track it down, it's driving me crazy.'

Kim looked at the highly polished furniture, she inhaled, furniture polish, frebreeze, carpet freshener and maybe the traces of a glade's scented candle.

'No I can't smell anything.' And then she caught it, 'hang on, there is something.'

They walked round the room slowly, sometimes it was stronger than others but impossible to locate a source. What could it be? A damp rag? It reminded her of something lingering in the washing basket.

Sophie searched in despair, 'I've even washed the curtains, nets everything, carpets have been done, I've looked behind all the furniture.'

Kim closed her eyes, thanked the lord that Sophie didn't ask her about her husband.

They found Squeak 2 curled up dead in the electric meter cupboard.

'Are you going to tell Bailey his hamster dead?' Kim asked.

'I can't I told him he died when he escaped, we buried an empty box.'

Sophie brought the bunch of flowers to the school gates.

'You silly thing, you didn't need to do that.' Kim said pleased.

'You're a good friend, do you know that? You know what they say it's a true friend that would tell you that you smell.' Sophie said quietly, 'I knew something was off, it was driving me crazy!'

Kim walked home in silence listening to the children chatter with half an ear. They were beautiful flowers, full of the soft heavy scent of freesias mixed in with the larger blooms, but even the sweet aroma couldn't hide the smell of a lie through omission.


My first training day of the social media course is on Saturday. I've done as much as I can to prepare.

When I first looked at the reading material I was horrified. It was like looking at knitting pattern when you can't knit. Sure, you recognise some of the words, knit and purl, but it makes no sense. I don't live in a vacuum, I'd heard about blogging and tweeting but had no idea how to do it in practice.

But you only learn if you try yourself and practice, practice, practice.

It has been a slog but my confidence is growing daily. The times I need to shout hubby over are growing less. I'm making progress.

But the question is, have I made enough progress to be able to keep up with people who have more technical skills than myself?

Well I won't know until Saturday evening I guess. But I must admit, I'm nervous.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


I've decided to try and get my head straight and work out where I am in my submission process.

1. Sent out my entry to a historical fiction short story competition.
2. I've made a promotional poster for the Ether Books Sci Fi competition, it finishes on the 24th of June.
3. Submitted a photograph and a short flash to 1000 words website, I'm not completely happy with this submission, but I thought, give it a go.
4. Completed my first draft of a story for Fantastic Books.
5. I've had a go at trying to write some erotic fiction because I've been told there is a market, but I think I need to work on my vocabulary! I can't think why I'm struggling, it's not like there is a shortage of words for the parts I'm trying to describe.
6. I've started with my Friday Flash, but I'm not completely happy with it.
7. I need to send some more work to Ether Books.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


I loath editing. I got up this morning at 4.30 am to finish some work.

A good friend of mine pointed out that I struggle with my spelling. It's true. But tonight as I carefully edited my competition entry to the Historical fiction short story competition, I was struck again by the thought of how many writers I know who are better than me. Yet they never send their work anywhere.

I truly believe that what a writer needs is a thick skin, and no one copes with rejection like I do. Point for me I think.

Plus at least I'm writing. Anyone who attends writing groups will be familiar with those who don't actually write anything but like to talk endlessly about reasons why they haven't picked up a pen. Or like to describe their projects but never put it down on paper.

Spelling mistakes, grammatical errors can be fixed.

A manuscript under the bed or a novel in your head will never be published.

I'm really pleased at my attempt to write in a different genre. I finished it and edited it before the competition deadline on Friday.

Definitely a step in the right direction of my goal.

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Senses

I was very excited about the exercise we did for 'work week' at The Writers @ Lovedean. Samples of food to taste, things to smell and objects to feel were laid out on the tables. Two groups of nine writers were asked to describe them WITHOUT using an existing cliche. After a few frozen moments, the creative juices started flowing in earnest.

Smell was the sense that seemed to grab childhood memories out of the recesses. One writer described nuts as the 'taste of failure' due to the diets she had been on. Another mentioned the taste of dark chocolate brought memories of 'being constipated' because of ex lax laxatives. Lemon juice caused memories of exotic relatives who had lived abroad.

Each writer linked the samples to their own very personal and unique experiences, using strong and powerful descriptions. So why do we fall so easily into tired worn cliches when writing?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Friday Flash - The Affair

The scene had been set yesterday afternoon when she complained at work that she felt nauseous, and made sure she went to bed before the kids. Her husband had kissed her forehead head that morning; promised to take the kids to school, phoned her boss and got her mother to do the evening school run. He was a thoughtful man.

She'd waited thirty minutes after the car left the drive, worried he would come back for a book bag and then...and then the betrayal started in earnest. She showered, and let the brand new summer dress glide across freshly shaven legs. Took cash from the drawer, to avoid a trail on the bank statement.

There was still time to turn back. To change into her sweats and watch morning TV, but she didn't, she got a taxi to the train station and headed to a place she would be a stranger.

Wedding ring in her purse she climbed the station steps to the town that was her university home. The guilt lifted and the excitement began. She caught her own reflection in the shop window, flushed, young and carefree.

How could she explain the need to walk around an art gallery? To sit in the park and sketch. To lunch alone reading a magazine.

How could she explain this need to fall in love with the person she use to be?

Fantastic Books Publishing - Sci Fi Competition

I had a lovely phone call today from Daniel Grubb, Managing Director, Fantastic Books Publishing about their Sci Fiction competition. It's definitely worth a look at their blog:

Please remember it is a small publisher and if you want to send in submissions, you pay a £5 reading fee and you should always check out FAQ of anywhere you send your work!

Fantastic Books Publishing International Short Story Competition 2012 is here.

Prizes; £100, £50, £25 + the chance to work with one of our editors and be published in one of our anthologies along with 7 runners up.

The anthology will include a short story by International Award Winning thriller writer Danuta Reah and also a prize winning offering from amazing author Stuart Aken!

10% of the entry plus 10% of the ongoing sales of the produced anthology to be donated to World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) who do sterling work globally in the field of cancer prevention.

Genre; Fantasy/Sci-Fi

Wordcount; 700-1500 words

We are looking for original, exciting, imaginative and, most importantly, FANTASTIC stories.

Judge: International Award winning crime writer, Penny Grubb.

Fee: £5 per entry, £8 for two entries.
Max.2 entries per person.

Closing Date for entries; 15th August 2012

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Poet David Swann at Portsmouth Writing Hub

I went along to my first meeting of the Portsmouth Writing hub tonight. I can't believe it has taken me so long to go along, what was I nervous about? Everyone was really friendly.

Tonight's guest speaker was a five times, Bridgeport Prize winning poet, David Swann. He was absolutely amazing. We enjoyed listening to extracts from his anthology The Privilege of Rain. The collection was inspired by his time as Writer in Residence at Nottingham Prison. He was an entertaining speaker with a great mix of interesting stories, advice and of course reading from his collection.

Best of all he told us all how to avoid a prison riot, one of those useful bits of advice that stays in your mind even though you are unable to remember your pin number at the check out at ASDA.

Monday, June 11, 2012

How to create a trailer for your Ether Sci Fi Story

1.Find some copyright and royalty free video footage from the Internet, I used downloads from the following site:

2. Find some copyright and royalty free music from the Internet, I used a download from the following site:

3. Write out the script for your advertisement, it is best to do this after you have downloaded your images because you may want to tailor it to fit your story and the images you have chosen.

4. Make sure you include the link to where people can download your story.

5. You need some software. For my promotional video I used: magix movie edit pro. Unfortunately, this wasn't free, my hubby had it on his machine. There are some free ones out there. This is where my new found technology skills began to waver, I felt like I was in a NASA space shuttle, and had to enlist my husband help.

6. Next is to post it on youtube I had to look at this site: take heed you cannot change your user name once you've pick it. It will also ask you to describe the link and put in tags - I wished I had put more thought into that!

7. Once you have posted on YouTube, you may want to save or email yourself your link so you don't lose it!

8. Post it on your Facebook, twitter, blog accounts and cross your fingers that you will get people to download your story.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

My competition entry

In my quest to master technology, I submitted a Sci Fi story to Ether Books. (I thought I had just done a normal submission - but it was put into the competition category!). Now the person with the most downloads win an iPad 2 - I know great prize when you consider no entry fee. If you saw yesterday's blog you will see that I actually made a trailer! I'm feeling so great about my technology progress. Any how, please download and vote.

Here's how....

You can find the Ether app here.

You'll need an Apple device to download and use the app.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Youtube trailer for sci-fi competition entry

Here is the trailer to my Etherbooks sci-fi competition entry, Fields of Gold.  I do hope people will down load and vote for it.

I must admit that I'm so chuffed and pleased with myself about this trailer (I'll ignore the fact my husband put if together for me!!)  I was doing okay until it came to Magix Movie Edit software, when I was confronted with so many dodahs that I thought I logged into a NASA shuttle.

Friday, June 8, 2012


'What does the term friend actually refer to?'
'I don't understand what you mean friend.'
'See there you go again, friend I've only just met you and it's friend this and friend that.'
He paused and smiled.  For a moment I found the pastel blue shirt and cream chinos threatening.
'In our religion we see everyone as friends.  There are no strangers in the world only friends we haven't met yet.'
'That's nice,' I said but I was uncertain.  I like the idea in principle.  But I was scared of stories of cults in the bible belt.  He bent over my engine again, he seemed comfortable with machinery, maybe he was a farmer?  I wouldn't have thought that cream trousers would have been practical for that profession.  He had a wedding ring.  Probably kids too, there was nothing else to do out here.
'There you go friend.  I think it will get you into the next town but you need your radiator fixing today.  I'll follow you, make sure you get there safe.'
'The problem is I need to get to the city tonight.' I chewed my bottom lip.
'Well friend perhaps one of my kin will be able to take you.  You could leave the car in the garage and get a ride into the city.  For every problem there is a solution.  In our religion...'
He stopped and looked down at the crimson rose blossoming against his chest.
'Yeah well, I was taught that the Lord helps those who help themselves.'

This Flash Fiction was written in a workshop led by Calum Kerr, idea man behind National Flash Fiction.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

A Very Productive Day

A very productive day today.  I have finally finished my story for the following competition,

Historical Fiction Short Story Competition 2012
Are you inspired by the Museum - its history, landscape, buildings, gardens and animals? This year we are holding a short story competition to capture this inspiration. Maybe you will win the top prize of £1,000!

The judges will be looking for high-quality stories which relate directly to an aspect of the collection of the Weald & Downland Open Air Museum. Deadline for entries (to be submitted with the entry form) is 5pm on Friday 22 June 2012. Winning entries will be announced at the Historical Fiction Day to be held at the Museum on Sunday 5 August. Full details of this event will follow.

I'm still not happy with the ending, I needed an extra 500 words at least!  But at least I shall have time to tinker with it.  It was really fun writing in different genre!

Monday, June 4, 2012


"It is an undoubted truth, that the less one has to do, the less time one finds to do it in." ~Earl of Chesterfield

Most of my writing is done on the run.  The time I seem to achieve most is waiting in the car to pick up my daughter from school.  She is at the age were she is horrified by the thought of me actually standing in the playground.  I was sad when it first happened but I have found not making forced conversation on the playground with people that the only thing I have common with is the fact we had sex in the same year, very freeing.  I've struggled with playground friend making and politics.  But now I often try to get there at three, not to get a parking place, honest, but for that thirty minutes of writing time.  Next is coffee shops, away from the washing machine and television.  And in my occupation, I drive more miles than the starship enterprise, so I get the odd ten minutes before an appointment.  But I often feel my writing is disjointed as a result, which was why I was so looking forward to the long weekend break. 

I made sure I'd done all my washing, and sat down with husband to do the end of the month books and mileage, every other household task could wait.  So what have I done with my precious time today?  Fritter it away with small mindless little tasks.  And now it is five thirty and I'm really angry at myself.  Still no time like the present, once I eat tea and wash up I'll get on with some writing, definitely....

Sunday, June 3, 2012

My To Do List

  • Finish my entry to the Weald & Downland Open Air Museum competition. Deadline for entries is 5pm on Friday 22 June 2012. 
  • Send children story to Children and Young Adults (BCYA) division of Penguin Group (Australia) Currently accepting unsolicited manuscripts from now until the end of July 2012 
  • Edit my angel encounter for Chicken Soup for the Soul: Angel Encounters Deadline 31 July 
  • Send work to Pugaicious Press Write; and 
  • send script to 50 Kisses. Deadline 29th June 
  • Send Flash Fiction to their story in 100 words competition Deadline 31 October 
  • Self publishing my spelling book 
  • Get The Writers @ Lovedean anthology out.