Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Goal setting for scribes

Like most parents who didn't have a ready supply of free babysitting we've had to be creative on New Years Eve. In the North West we use to invited friends round with children the same age or we went to their houses. Now we usually go the places we can take the children, bowling or to the cinema. I like this tradition. It's fun, relaxed and a lot easier than finding sitters. Tonight I have promised my daughters they could try a glass of champagne, of course I lied! I've got us bottles of Babycham, in memory of my Mother who loved the stuff.  But despite the relaxed holiday feeling, it wouldn't be New Years Eve without reflecting on the past and setting new goals.

2013 has been a year filled with highs and lows. All the highs have been with my writing career. I have had four educational resources published and a few more in the proposal stage. I've been included in several anthologies, including those by Chuffed Books and Dagda Press. My writing prize pot was £225 this year and, I also had a few prizes from live story and poetry evenings. 

Thanks to to excellent fellow scribes who have worked tirelessly to organise spoken word events I've had a successful year. The list include; Southsea Show, Victorious Festival, Pop up Dickens, Lammas Day, and The Alvers Art Festival. Wonderful events which I have learnt so much from.

I think writers are the absolute worse at remembering their achievements which makes it difficult to set new and achievable new goals. I know so many people who don't even keep a record of their publishing history!

I've got a very bad habit of setting myself goals that are unachievable. But here is my list - please notice that I haven't put down the dates I want them achieved by yet. I want to revisit this post in a couple of months to see how well I have done. This year I've decided to divide my goals into sections;

Social Media 
I want to tidy up my blog and webpages
Plus get the email address to work on my storytelling page
Make sure that I can update the Writers at Lovedean page myself
Get an events page up
Get the 2013 Writers at Lovedean anthology out.

Unfortunately I need help with these goals 

I want to send out my non fiction book proposal out to agents
Maybe get a few more educational resources out without sacrificing my degree work
Write my degree assignments up to my best standard including starting my 20000 word publishing project
Polish my early years book and send it out 
Start writing for Words and Picture SCWBI
Chase Will Sutton with the offer of free coffee to get the promised feedback

This year I want to go to the SCWBI conference again
I intend to go to the Winchester Conference
Start to regularly go to Portsmouth Writing Hub
Visit Rose's and Tongues and Grooves at least twice.

Storytelling and spoken word
I'm pleased that I've already secured four paid storytelling events for next year
Basically keep an hear out for other opportunities.

Health and well being
Sadly, go back to GP - stop ignoring things for months in the hope they will go away.
I've signed up to Janathon - which is to exercise and blog everyday - great start to the year
I need to go back to a house group at church
Find a good, energising self help recording to listen to while walking
Hopefully do at least 12 park runs - one a month - surely that's do able?
Save up for a new mattress, waking up to lower back pain is a - well a pain.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

If you can't have the Christmas you want....

My parents died while I was pregnant with my oldest child thirteen years ago. My sisters and I got together for a few years, but in a way the mother and the father is the lynch pin to a family. Often when you lose them, you lose the reason to all get together.

Unfortunately, my husband has a strained relationship with his family. He is the one to call them. Gradually his contact declined to a phone call to his siblings every Christmas and New Years Day. Then it was every Christmas Day. And this year he didn't make the call, and they didn't call him.

When we moved three hundred miles away from our home base, the visits became less. I mourned for large family Christmases for quite a few years. Christmas dinner at our home is for four. But gradually over time I realised how blessed I am. We have created our own Christmas traditions. The making of the gingerbread house. A pre Christmas craft activity, whether it is oranges and cloves or a making new tree decorations.

Christmas Eve usually involves the long dog walk, he gets over excited and we try to tire him out before the wrapping paper. And then the crib service at the local church, and my children usually have parts. Then one present to open Christmas Eve. On Christmas morning it is presents from Santa, then church, then presents from under the tree. We have the meal at lunch time and a few games. The rest of the day is usually spent with each of us with a tray on our lap doing a project or puzzle.

I like it.

I like the relaxed atmosphere and the feeling of love.

And I like the lie ins and the fact that I get lots of writing done.

Although we don't do a lot of visiting, the time between Christmas and New Year is a time of going to the sales, ice skating and inviting friends round.

I think often there is so much pressure to have the sort of Christmas you are suppose to have. We watch the Nigella and Delia's Christmases and our expectations grow. Many people don't have the TV idea. We have food, shelter and love. A nice relaxing break. Friends and activities to occupy us. So remember if you are disappointed that you can't have the Christmas you think you want.

Why not learn to love the Christmas you have?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Character descriptions

For those of you who think I've been neglecting my blog, I have good reason. I've been thinking.

I've been rereading TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, and enjoying how the characters simply leap of the page.  Atticus believes that shielding his kids in the short term doesn't do them any favors in the long run. This becomes especially clear when he thinks Jem is the one who stabbed Bob Ewell. It tells us so much about the man. 

"Thank you from the bottom of my heart, but I don't want my boy starting out with something like this over his head. Best way to clear the air is to have it all out in the open. Let the county come and bring sandwiches. I don't want him growing up with a whisper about him, I don't want anybody saying, 'Jem Finch... his daddy paid a mint to get him out of that.' Sooner we get this over with the better." 

A fine example of how we learn about character from what they say.

The following extract comes from James Lee Burke's PEGASUS DESCENDING, and describes a district attorney, Lonnie Marceaux. In just two paragraphs we find out about Lonnie's appearance, educational level, intelligence, ambition and personal habits:

After lunch, she and I met with our district attorney, Lonnie Marceaux. When I first met Lonnie a few years ago, I had thought he was one of those people whose attention span is limited either by an inability to absorb detailed information or a lack of interest in subject matter that isn't directly related to their well-being. I was wrong. At least partially. Lonnie was usually three or four jumps ahead in the conversation. He had been Phi Beta Kappa at Tulane and had published in the Stanford Law Review. But the real content of his thoughts on any particular issue remained a matter of conjecture.

Lonnie was blade-faced, six and one half feet tall, and had a body like whipcord from the marathons he ran in New Orleans, Dallas, and Boston. His scalp glistened through his crew cut; his energies were augmented rather than diminished by the two hours a day he spent on a StairMaster. When he turned down a position as United States Attorney in Baton Rouge, his peers were amazed at his sudden diffidence. But it didn't take us long to see the true nature of Lonnie's ambitious design. In spite of his own upscale background, he charmed blue-collar juries. The press always referred to Lonnie as "charismatic" and "clean-cut". No high-profile case in Iberia Parish ever went to an ADA, and God help the man or woman Lonnie got in his bomb sights. He was on his way up in the sweet sewer of Louisiana politics and I believe had long ago decided it was better to be first in Gaul rather than second in Rome.

Long descriptive paragraphs are out of style, but there is something to be said about being told about a character. 

Look at when long descriptions were the style, an example from the beginning of GONE WITH THE WIND: 

SCARLETT O'HARA was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm as the Tarleton twins were. In her face were too sharply blended the delicate features of her mother, a Coast aristocrat of French descent, and the heavy ones of her florid Irish father. But it was an arresting face, pointed of chin, square of jaw. Her eyes were pale green without a touch of hazel, starred with bristly black lashes and slightly tilted at the ends. Above them, her thick black brows slanted upward, cutting a startling oblique line in her magnolia-white skin. 

It is a beautiful bit of writing, but I wonder, if all she needed was that first line.

Monday, December 2, 2013


Woke up feeling tired, lethargic and depressed. 

I think it could it be connected to the fact that I did not do what I wanted to do at the weekend, which was exercise, write, spend fun time with my kids, and go to Church.

Instead I spent time doing things I felt guilty about and obliged to do. I think this is a common phenomenal to a lot of women over the Christmas period.  And I'm not talking about the little jobs you don't enjoy, but need to do, cleaning the floor and feeding the kids. I am talking about the things that would be a lot better for your mental health if you could just say 'no thanks.'

Let's face it, people say 'no thank you' to me without any further explanation, and I don't expect it.

I wasted valuable gifts of my time, my energy and peace of mind. I thought I was doing the right thing in the short term, but in the end I wasn't. 

I can't help wonder why I spend so much time doing things that make me feel bad, and not doing things that make me feel good afterwards!