Tuesday, July 30, 2013

What to do when a friend asks if they should give up writing?

So I had lunch out yesterday, and the topic of conversation naturally turned to writing. My friend was feeling a little dispirited. First of all I need to point out that a lot of people seem to have the wrong idea about writing. Here are a few well known myths;

I love reading therefore I must be a great writer - alas no.

I want to work from home, pick my own hours. Any self employed person will happily point out that people are great at seeing the perks - it's only when you have tried it that you get the full story.

I want to be famous - there are easier ways to become famous. Try YouTube and make sure the clip involves you getting hurt with an animal.

You want to be rich - I know a lot of authors, most aren't driving and are forced to cycle - and that's with a publishing deal!


Writing is about writing. It’s about telling stories. That’s why you do it. Real writers write. They don't spend hours talking about their ideas. When the brain itch comes they need to get it down on paper. I push people to submit because I know so many talented people who spend three years on a manuscript and then stuff it under the bed because of lack of confidence.

My friend has got great ideas and talent. Is her work ready to send off this minute - no. It needs the dreaded editing pen. Could she improve - hell yes. But so could we all. Should she give up. I think no. But I also think she needs to be kind to herself. I'm pleased that currently, I'm now getting more hits than misses. This is only after a lot of years and one big change.

My children have got a little bit older. It sounds sexist and I may be wrong, but I think men can switch off easier. For women motherhood is full of traps, guilt, emotions and a large to do list. I'm writing this blog. My teenager and pre teen are asleep when once they were up at around 5 or 6 am jumping on my bed. I was tired all the time. Now they will wander down stairs in a haze and grab themselves a bowl of cereal. Best of all in the morning they no longer want to talk or watch CBBC. Maybe they will read a book or put the TV on. So I am able to write. They use to wake me up in the night, scream for my attention. I wrote one novel in snatches in Playzone and in the school car park. It had a good premise but the writing was interrupted and jumpy. It never got published, but just writing and completing it helped me progress as a writer.

So mothers of young children should you give up writing? No. But be kind to yourself. Be realistic. And most of all wait until September.


What to do when a friend asks if they should give up writing?

So I had lunch out yesterday, and the topic of conversation naturally turned to writing. My friend was feeling a little dispirited. First of all I need to point out that a lot of people seem to have the wrong idea about writing. Here are a few well known myths;

I love reading therefore I must be a great writer - alas no.

I want to work from home, pick my own hours. Any self employed person will happily point out that people are great at seeing the perks - it's only when you have tried it that you get the full story.

I want to be famous - there are easier ways to become famous. Try YouTube and make sure the clip involves you getting hurt with an animal.

You want to be rich - I know a lot of authors, most aren't driving and are forced to cycle - and that's with a publishing deal!


Writing is about writing. It’s about telling stories. That’s why you do it. Real writers write. They don't spend hours talking about their ideas. When the brain itch comes they need to get it down on paper. I push people to submit because I know so many talented people who spend three years on a manuscript and then stuff it under the bed because of lack of confidence.

My friend has got great ideas and talent. Is her work ready to send off this minute - no. It needs the dreaded editing pen. Could she improve - hell yes. But so could we all. Should she give up. I think no. But I also think she needs to be kind to herself. I'm pleased that currently, I'm now getting more hits than misses. This is only after a lot of years and one big change.

My children have got a little bit older. It sounds sexist and I may be wrong, but I think men can switch off easier. For women motherhood is full of traps, guilt, emotions and a large to do list. I'm writing this blog. My teenager and pre teen are asleep when once they were up at around 5 or 6 am jumping on my bed. I was tired all the time. Now they will wander down stairs in a haze and grab themselves a bowl of cereal. Best of all in the morning they no longer want to talk or watch CBBC. Maybe they will read a book or put the TV on. So I am able to write. They use to wake me up in the night, scream for my attention. I wrote one novel in snatches in Playzone and in the school car park. It had a good premise but the writing was interrupted and jumpy. It never got published, but just writing and completing it helped me progress as a writer.

So mothers of young children should you give up writing? No. But be kind to yourself. Be realistic. And most of all wait until September.


Monday, July 29, 2013

Chuffed Books gives me a chuffed feeling

Woke up this morning to the news that the anthology I am included in, will be available in August. In the words of Pop Larkin - 'Perfick.' Also, a note to say my cheque is on it's way. I've sent my children's fiction story to the Naomi House Children's Fiction Competition, it's nice knowing my entry fee is going to charity. Sent my signed contract and a long list of revisions back to the educational publishers. Sadly, it is unlikely I will get any writing done today, I really must do some cleaning. But I am hoping to meet a fellow writer for lunch and to hand over her Birthday card. 


You, Me & a Bit of We

___YMEWEBcovPre-order now for £6.99

You, Me & a Bit of We

A Celebration of Writing in First and Second Person

Available August 2013

List Price: £8.99
ISBN: 978-1-908858-02-3
Paperback, 216 x 140mm, 190 pages
Short stories and flash fiction (40 stories)

A wonderfully unique and broadly themed collection of flash fiction and short stories written in first or second person. This anthology includes the work of the following writers: Hettie Ashwin, Kim Bannerman, Cath Barton, Sharon Birch, Miki Bryne, Walter Campbell, Charlotte Comley, Annemaria Cooper, Meriah L Crawford, Stefanie Dao, Simone Davy, Laura Dunkeyson, Sarah Evans, Anne Fox, Robert Lee Frazier, Martin Gamble, Susan F Giles, Heidi Gilhooly, Anne Goodwin, Margaret Gracie, Cathryn Grant, E A M Harris, Kati N Hendry, Debz Hobbs-Wyatt, Julia Hones, Amy Hulsey, Alexis A Hunter, Michelle Ann King, Deborah Klée, Tanya Jacob Knox, Meg Laverick, Diane Lefer, Diandra Linnemann, Nina Milton, Monika Pant, Emma Phillips, Barry Pomeroy, Jay R Thurston, Abigail Wyatt, Zarina Zabrisky.

http://www.chuffedbuffbooks.com/bookshop/you-me-a-bit-of-we/

Chuffed books is looking for poetry submissions at the moment:

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS

 

 Poetry

Submissions are open for our next poetry anthology on the theme of cities/urban landscape. Cities to live in, work in, to visit. Consider ideas of civic pride, celebrations, faith, ritual, districts, culture, wealth, poverty and how people relate to the city. Work must be original and previously unpublished. Please submit up to a maximum of 3 poems of not more than 80 lines each.

Deadline: 31/08/2013

 

 View guidelines here.


Friday, July 26, 2013

Della Galton Guest Blog

I am so pleased that Della agreed to write a few words for my blog. I've been on two courses run by Della and not only is she a great writer, but excellent tutor too.

Can you share the premise of your latest project?

Ice and a Slice is a novel about a lady whose life is normal in every respect, except that she can’t stop drinking.

In particular, what led you to write?

I write because I’d go mad if I didn’t. I wrote this particular novel because I have a very personal connection to it. My father is an alcoholic.  Alcoholism is rife in my family. Unwilling to join the ranks, I gave up drinking myself seven years ago.


Is there a key person or group that has inspired you in the process of writing?

I belong to a writing group that I joined when I first started writing 26 years ago. It is run by a man called Ian Burton and is on a Wednesday night at Kinson Community Centre in Bournemouth.


How do you envision your work will impact your readers?

I hope it will make them think. And I suspect they will be able to emotionally connect with it – Ice and a Slice was written straight from the heart.


As you embarked on writing your book, what was the overall message you wanted to convey to your audience?

There is life after alcoholism.


What process did you go through to build the narrative of your book?

I am a very organic writer. I throw a heap of problems at my characters and see what happens.


In every author’s experience, there is often a pivotal event that results in the creative process. Can you describe the pivotal event that led you to write your book?

For me feeling passionate or moved about a subject will usually do it.  I can’t write by numbers. I need to be emotionally engaged with my subject before I begin to even do my research. It’s emotional engagement that provides the fire.


Are there any tips you can share on what parents can do to foster the love of reading and books?

Don’t make your child feel as though they are doing nothing when they are reading. Reading is every bit as valuable as sport or physical activity.

What aspect of life do you want your readers to know about?

People are the most important things in life, so I guess I want readers to feel an emotional connection with the people in my novels. 

Describe the role books played in your own life.

My much loved grandmother taught me to read before I started school. She used to love showing off to her friends and proved I wasn’t reciting something parrot fashion by getting me to read bits of the paper out loud to them.  After that I was hooked. I read everything I could get my hands on. If there’s nothing better on offer I’ll read the back of a cereal packet – particularly if it’s a chocolate cereal packet  



Links

www.dellagalton.co.uk
Follow me on Twitter
Friend me on Facebook

Ice and a Slice is published in paperback and for kindle. Click here to buy.


Black dog v White dog

I have found the cure to the black dog of depression is to get a little 'I won't stand for any nonsense' white one. Lots of bad dreams last night. I must make sounds or something because my little West Highland Terrier decided I needed waking up. He sometimes bites my big toe to bring me back to reality, but this morning it was a cold black nose pushed under my bottom and lots of snuffs and snorting. I tried to have a sniff and feel sorry for myself, but a warning nip stopped the tears straight away. Once I'm finally awake I get a minutes cuddle and then that's it. He sits grumbling by the bed while I write my blog. He will not be happy until I'm up and dressed. He often brings me my knickers and a sock into the bathroom just to make sure that I don't sneak back to bed for a lie in. I may be writing in bed but there is no way I will be allowed any more sleep!



So feeling sluggish, slightly nauseous and bullied from a small dog it was time to decide what to do. It's my writing group first thing. I was pleased by a message that one of my talented members who doesn't have a great deal of confidence about writing had actually submitted some work, and decided to read at The Groundlings Theatre event. It does as they say make everything worth while. 

A bit of reflection next. It's not been a bad week. I've had some nice quality time with the kids. Done some writing and submitted lots of work. Not been a great week on the healthy eating front and very little exercise. Been to the theatre and had a meal with friends which I'm thankful about.

Next I decided I to look at my targets for the coming week. My latest education resource must be finished. The calendar for next week has some nice events. I'm looking forward to William Sutton and Diana Bretherick book launch on the 31st at 16:30 at Blackwells. It's the Southsea Show on Saturday and I will be reading with Maggie Sawkins and the Tongues and Grooves crowd - lovely. Hoping to catch up with friends for drinks. It should be nice and relaxed.

I have decided that now it's cooler it is time - big sigh - to go back to the gym. But I make that promise every morning. And now it is time to get up and face the day. My little doggy is making some big noises and he will nip if I try to lie here any longer.


Thursday, July 25, 2013

My up coming events

A lovely busy schedule coming up. I hope to see some familiar faces;

1st August 7pm Lammas Day Celebrations, Coast Cafe, Marine Parade Worthing

9th August 11 until 12:30 Umbrella Festival at the Groundlings Theatre

18th August Arundel Festival 2 - 4 pm  

25 th August, Victorious Festival at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. You need to get tickets in advance for this cracking event.

9th October Poetry Cafe  Winchester Discovery Centre

And watch this space for news of the Day of the Dead


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Large surfaces and bits of paper

“Jane went back into the kitchen to the inexorable tasks that death has no power, even for a day, to blot from existence. He can stalk through dwelling after dwelling, leaving despair and desolation behind him, but the table must be laid, the dishes washed, the beds made, by somebody.”
Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm
by Kate Douglas Wiggin

How true - even when death is around - you still have to do the ironing!

Yesterday, at 6:30am I was on my knees washing the bathroom floor.

We're all been there. Someone was coming round, and like most people who smile and say you have to take me as you find me - there are times I don't mean it. Hubby had Monday off work to watch my youngest daughter's school leaving ceremony AND do his VAT return. In case you are not familiar with this task - it involves lots of bits of paper that need to be spread out over a large surface. I'm in the middle of a non fiction book. In case you are not familiar with this task - it involves lots of bits of paper that need to be spread out over a large surface. Both my daughters are doing - something. In case you are not familiar with this task - it involves lots of bits of paper that need to be spread out over a large surface.

It looks a mess, but it kind of needs to be there, out in the open just where you can put your hand on it. Then of course I have a three seater leather settee propped up in the kitchen awaiting The British Heart foundation pick up.

I have washed and ironed, but I haven't put the clothes away yet as I'm in the process of going through the girls clothes and old school uniform to donate to charity.

Yes the house needs cleaning but, other things need sorting first. Then you get the calls asking if its ok to pop round. These your friends who you love and would understand but, you really don't want them to see the organisation process which would look like a mess to the untrained eye. I tried to suggest going to their place - but of course when your place is a tip - yours is the only place that will do. And that is how you end up on yours knees with the bleach first thing in the morning.

I had just shoved all my notes into a pile and stuffed them into a cupboard and pushed all of the receipts back in the file when of course the 8:30am  call came to cancel. After dropping my child off at school I drove home and realised that to start work back on my non fiction work I would have to 'unstuff' all the papers out of the cupboard and spread them out over a large surface.

It is the last day of school, my last day alone in the house for six weeks. So I put a wash on, washed up and sat down. I watched a television programme without the laptop on my knee. And I drifted into a dream about my next short story... By the time I was ready to pick up my daughter from Primary School for the very last time I felt completely refreshed.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

William George Sutton - Guest Blog

Guest blog from the awe - inspiring William George Sutton.

The premise of your latest work

Lawless and the Devil of Euston Square:

A new constable is summoned to Euston Square where a hydraulic crane has burst: a man lies dead, but it’s only a tramp, and nobody seems to care.

1860. They’re building the first Underground line. Sounds normal now, was mind-boggling then. Simultaneously they’re building the sewers that transform London from a stinking morass into today’s city.

But if you were one of those dispossessed by the march of all this progress, how would you feel about the gleaming banquet at Farringdon Station scheduled for opening day? Mightn’t you wish the odd prince to choke on his Chablis?

 

What led you to write?

Is there a key person or group that has inspired you in the process of writing?

I got immense help from Jason Bermingham in São Paulo. We used to sing in pubs. (Jonny Cash and the Beatles: “You’re so exotic,” they said, which just shows that exotic is a relative term.) Jason’s a writer and has a brilliant ear for language. Invaluable advice; great writing companionship.

These days I get a lot from performing with friends through the ReAuthoring project. They’ve sent me to write in fields, shout on poop decks, play in restaurants and act weird in libraries. After that, sitting at home writing ain’t so hard any more.

 

How do you envision your work will impact your readers?

They will hear choirs of angels singing the square root of minus one and be elevated to a higher plane of being.

 

What was the overall message you wanted to convey to your audience?

I wanted to tell a story about love and loyalty. If someone you admired was doing something you couldn’t accept, how far can you be loyal? If they wanted to shock the world out of its lethargy with a violent act…

 

What process did you go through to build the narrative of your book?

I tried to pull apart several novels I admired. Not just old ones (the Moonstone, Great Expectations, Heart of Darkness), but recent ones too (Iain Banks’ Complicity, Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club, Paul Auster’s Leviathan). To look at the characters and how that emotional network drives the action.

I wrote a massive detailed synopsis, frustrating when you just want to write the book, but it proved crucial. Having the shape of the narrative took the pressure off and allowed me to have more fun.

 

Can you describe the pivotal event that led you to write  your book ?

I was living in Brazil. My landlady was an Anglo-Brazilian lady fallen on hard times: hence the dodgy lodgers, and she only had the maid in occasionally. One day the maid didn’t turn up, but her daughter came in instead. I asked why. The maid had been killed in a car crash, my landlady told me. I didn’t speak Portuguese well and I asked how to say I was sorry to her daughter. My landlady told me, but frowned and added, “But really you don’t need to. These people, they don’t feel these things so much.”

 

Are there any tips you can share on what parents can do to foster the love of reading and books?

Read books. Enjoy books. Put down your phone. Read books you enjoy. Don’t lecture about it.

 

What aspect of life do you want your readers to know about?

Ginger pudding.

 

Describe the role books played in your own life.

Large, loud, looming, lovely, lolloping, lubricious, grounding, groovy, gratifying, goggly, googly, giggly, grand.

 

Links


Lawless and the Devil of Euston Square

William Sutton is a writer, musician and Latin teacher who lives in Southsea.

 

“Genuinely funny.” Michael Gardiner Scotland on Sunday

“Thoroughly enjoyable.” Allan Massie The Scotsman

"First-rate Victorian crime fiction." The Herald

 

www.william-sutton.co.uk

Exhibit A Books

f/williamgeorgeq

t @WilliamGeorgeQ

 

https://www.facebook.com/events/186619261506876/


Monday, July 22, 2013

Shakespeare - Do we really have to avoid cliche plots?

We writers are constantly reminded to avoid cliches in our writing. When you read out your work at a writers circle our peers love being able to say 'its a bit of a cliche.'  With pink face we look at our writing and wonder how a tired old expression managed to sneak its way in. And these over used lines are so easy to fall back on.

all walks of life - give the devil his due - never a dull moment - hook, line, and sinker - nipped in the bud - bitter end - calm before the storm - in the nick of time

Last night I went to see an open air production of Midsummer Night's Dream in Petersfield.   It as set in the 1970s and, it really was a fabulous production. I'm so fond of the play, I like how it explores the nature of romantic love.   In the play, magic love juice causes characters to fall erratically in and out of love as they chase each other around the woods, where a Fairy Queen literally falls in love with a jackass.  Its conclusion?  The pursuit of love has the capacity to make us irrational and foolish. The cast had us in stitches - cliche by the way!

And then, lying on my picnic blanket, feeding the insects my blood, I mused. By literalizing the familiar cliché that "the course of true love never did run smooth," Shakespeare is  suggesting that love turns us all into madmen. I'm sure I'm not the only person who's cheek would flare red at the memories of what I have done in the past in the name of love.

It was a tired old cliche in Shakespeare's day. I wonder if his cast read it, sniffed and advised him not to use cliches in his work? Writers need to avoid these phrases because they quickly become over used. I say we need to think WHY they have become over used? Because they often succinctly describe something we all can identify with. 

Do we really have to avoid cliche plots?


Midsummer Night's Dream is showing until the 27th of July at Bedales School.
http://www.petersfieldshakespearefestival.co.uk/

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Wattpad?

According to the hype Wattpad,

'is the world’s largest community of readers and writers. It’s the free and fun way to read on the web and across all mobile devices. Everyday millions of people use Wattpad to read unique new fiction or share their own creative writing. For both avid readers and aspiring writers, Wattpad is the best place to discover and share unlimited stories. It’s the only community that offers a mobile, social, eReading experience.

Wattpad’s vision is to revolutionize the way people read, write and share stories. All the content on Wattpad is created by its community of users. So far, over 5 million stories have been uploaded to Wattpad spanning all genres of creative writing - from mystery, to romance, sci fi, poetry and fan fiction.'

Fellow writer, the talented Lynne Stone, shared a newspaper article about Wattpad and we decided to give it a go. I downloaded the App, wrote my profile and managed to get my picture on it. I was feeling pretty technically savvy at this point. I carefully chose a short story and then I hit the brick wall. I couldn't publish it. The next problem I found was that most people designed fantastic front covers to their work. I won't lie my first attempt was pretty rubbish. The story is a twisted tale about social media so I struggled to think of a good cover design. Then fate stepped in - I nipped into Phones4U only to become inspired by their wallpaper.

I've just published my story. It's taken me about a week to get it working, and only after i sought a bit of techie help. So I'm still unsure about the whole thing, but it's definitely worked for some. Abigail Gibbs, 18, who started writing a book aged 14, released chapters of her novel online, and the book eventually received 17 million hits. So I thought why not, I put on a short story and the result looks like this. Mine is a sci fiction story, all about the dark side to social media. 

Wattpad
WriterBizWoman posted a story!
or open in Wattpad app: 20427116

WriterBizWoman is my twitter handle. I don't know if the link will work from the blog - but worth a go. I will let everyone know when Lynne Stone's stories are available - unless an agent finds us first! 


Lynne Stone's books will be available soon. So you will be able to enjoy the fun tales of the star crossed lover Dave's adventures to find love and independence.


The Southsea Show - an unexpected reading

I really enjoyed reading at the Alvers Art Festival and thought that would be it until the Umbrella Festival at The Groundlings Theatre on the 9th of August 
http://www.groundlings.co.uk/data/groundlings.nsf/Index?OpenForm

AND

Victorious Festival  Historic Dockyard 24th & 25th August 2013 
(@VictoriousFest) on Twitter
http://www.victoriousfestival.co.uk/category/real-ale-festival/

BUT NO....

The lovely Maggie Sawkins from Tongues and Grooves ( http://www.tongues-and-grooves.org.uk/) put the word out that she needs poets for  THE ALL NEW SOUTHSEA SHOW
Saturday, 03 and Sunday, 04 August 2013
See more at: http://www.portsmouthguildhall.org.uk/events/the-all-new-southsea-show#sthash.miqko34D.dpuf

Needless to say I'm quite excited about the summer line up. It's such a lonely business being a writer and it's great to get out and about. Reading in front of strangers makes you focus on your editing skills. Plus I'm hoping to buy my tickets for the Tongues & Grooves 10th anniversary which is on Saturday 9 November in Old Portsmouth’s iconic Square Tower. Looking like a fabulous summer already...
 


Friday, July 19, 2013

Guest Blog Amber Lee Dodd

My guest blog today is the wonderful and talented Amber Lee Dodd. One of Amber's plays will be performed at the Chichester Festival next week.


Amber Lee Dodd is a writer/playwright whose work has been performed at the Edinburgh Fringe, New Theatre Royal and is forthcoming at Chichester Festival Theatre’s Young Playwrights showcase. She has been published with Litro Magazine, Cleaver Magazine and performed with Liars’ League London and more.

1. Can you share the premise of your last project?
My last piece, a short play that is about to have a reading at Chichester Festival Theatre, is about Dementia. It’s a topic that I hadn’t seen discussed much, and when it was it focused intensely on the disease and its effects. These are often big, dramatic pieces, done with heavy usage of monologues and to great effect, but I wanted to write a small and humane piece, about people having their relationship change within one conversation. There are jokes too.
 
2  In particular, what led you to write?
I was very dyslexic as a child and it took me a long time to read well. When I could I excelled and writing creatively was the one thing that came naturally when a lot of other things took more time. I think it’s something I have just always done.
 
3  Is there a key person or group that has inspired you in the process of writing?
My family, my friends, other writers. It’s never just one person producing the work; there is a whole crowd of people behind one piece.
                                                                                   
4  How do you envision your work will impact your readers?
I hope someone will have an embarrassing reaction to one of my pieces in a public place.
 
5  What process did you go through to build the narrative of your script?
I write in a very non linear way. So the ending often comes first, then the opening lines and then everything else gets built up in a random jumble until the whole thing emerges. For a script, unlike prose I have to be a little more structured and disciplined, so I go back and work on the piece in movements. In a short play you have to make something change, happen or a dynamic has to shift every few minutes, so I roughly plotted each movement as well as the start and ending.
 
6. In every author’s experience, there is often a pivotal event that results in the creative process. Can you describe the pivotal event that leads you to write?
Picasso said ‘Inspiration exists, but it has to find us working’, so I try and give the creative process a bit of a nudge by taking opportunities and working to deadlines.
 
7.  Are there any tips you can share on what parents can do to foster the love of reading and books?
I am not a parent myself but I have taught children and worked in schools and the best advice I can give is keep exposing them to lots of different kinds of writing and then let them pick what they want to read; whether it be fiction, nonfiction, fantasy, horror, comic books or graphic novels. Reading is something best discovered for yourself.
 
8. What aspect of life do you want your readers to know about?
Not sure this is an aspect, but I would like people to see that life can be unexpectedly funny.
 
9. Describe the role books played in your own life.
They opened up my world.
 
 
 





Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Writers at Lovedean Summer Line Up - feel free to come along!

One of the problems of running a writers group is trying to keep things fresh. In my experience writers like their nice comfortable ruts - we tend to write the same way. I'm a great believer in getting out of your comfort zone. The group is an all abilities welcome which can make choosing events difficult. Others are wanting to get published so its important to include things that will help, live readings, events, guest authors.

 Add to the mix this heat when everyone is feeling particularly lazy, how do you inject a bit of zing? Anyway I have finally sorted out The Writers at Lovedean summer programme!

19th July is a competition day. The theme is 'The Thing in the Cellar,' entries must be read on the day - a prize for having a go.

26th July is a reading and feedback session.

2nd August Guest poet
Audi Maserati  (aka Dennis Robinson) He's a genius singer/songwriter, performer and poet. 

9th August The Groundling Theatre 11am until 12:30 members of the group will be reading live great for your writing CVs and photo opportunity - feel free to bring your own books to sell - kids welcome - an interesting place to look around. SO NOT IN HALL THAT WEEK.

16th August is our Write Out Day - This year it's a BBQ kids welcome - (please give me a rough idea who is coming so I know how many sausages to buy) @LaughIngAndy will be giving us more details tomorrow - I will keep everyone posted.

23rd August reading and feedback session.

30th August work week

1st September DEADLINE TO GET YOUR WORK INTO THIS YEARS ANTHOLOGY - EDITED TO YOUR BEST PEOPLE!

Guest Poet Audi Maserati


 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

I need to change the name of my blog

The big brown cardboard envelope came yesterday. The one I've been waiting for in earnest for the last eight years. It contains my manuscript, a list of revisions, a request that I read it again in full as 'after this date I won't be able to make any more changes' ...and...a contract. 

The kids were watching television. The dog was sleeping.  The hubby had come back early from London to watch my youngest daughter in a play. There was a brief cry of 'well done' and then all eyes, included the dog strayed back to the TV.

Okay - it's not my kids book. And the only people who will buy it are teachers. But this is it. The moment I have fantasised about for years. How many hours I have sat with a coffee in a Waterstones cafe thinking about this moment? My day dreams have been so colourful and vivid, I was certain that I would be waving my bra over my head.

In fact I am numb. I have no idea how to process it. I won't say it is an anti climax, more like the feeling you get when someone approaches you with a joke can of nuts containing a paper snake. You know what it is and you are wary and determined not to jump right out of your skin - but you do anyway. I have had five serious nibbles from publishers asking to see the rest of my work - even asking me to do rewrites and then - nothing. This is a contract. They have advertised my work on their website. Surely it can't be the fear that they will pull the plug now? Besides I don't fear rejection - I can cope with the negatives. 
 
Maybe it is another example of how I have a delayed reaction to events in my life. I think it is,  that one of my goals in life has been achieved and, I don't feel any different. I need to mark the occasion somehow and I'm acutely aware that at the moment I don't have anyone to celebrate it with. 

So despite having a hundred things to do. I have decided to take this day. I'm not sure what I'm going to do yet, but it's going to be something nice. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Writing slowly

Yesterday, I tried to be such a good girl. I sent my friend a birthday email before 7 am. I walked the dog before I dropped my daughter at school. I did visit a friend for a coffee, but only stayed my allotted time. I went home, did some housework until 1pm which was the time I had set to start work. Windows open, fan on, drink by my side. I was ready for action. 

I wrote a couple of lines, my thoughts were flowing - I may be running late on this project but I was in the zone. So what happened? Life.

The phone rings. I want to ignore it but of course it could be school so...it wasn't. It was someone telling me again about PPI. Never mind. I go back to the computer. It's takes me a few minutes to think about where I am and then I make the instant mistake of clicking emails. Fifteen minutes lost, but I comfort myself that I have at least submitted some work to a publisher. 

Back to the grind. I write a few lines.  

The neighbour called. I resisted my Northern upbringing, I did not invite her in. I explained I was working and I had to get back to it, which of course resulting in the 'lucky you' speech. If you work from home you have probably heard it. Lucky lucky you, picking your own hours, nice and relaxed etc. yeah it would be if wasn't for the interruptions. 

I sit down and of course end up checking those bloody emails again, a quick look at twitter but, I managed to resist Facebook.

My two hour focused writing slot finished, I needed to pick my daughter up from school and I've written about half a page.

Unfortunately, whenever something interrupts you from your writing, your concentration is broken and you lose time as your mind tries to recover that productive state you were in. And, of course, you also lose time dealing with whatever distracted you.

My next priority is to get a new battery for my laptop.  If I really need to concentrate, I sneak off to a coffee shop or the local library and find a corner. I don’t mind minor background noise. And bizarrely sometimes you get a lot less interruptions when you are out. 


Sunday, July 14, 2013

Shirley Golden - Guest Blog

I was thrilled yesterday when my Facebook friend and author, Shirley Golden
calmly walked into my writing group - The Writers at Lovedean. It was great to meet her in person. I have read and admired Shirley's work but it was very different to hear her read aloud. 

Shirley Golden 

I’ve had around seventy short stories accepted for publication in various places, in print and online, including, 'Dream Catcher' and 'The Yellow Room'.  My work has appeared in anthologies, some of which are listed below.  Further stories are posted on '1,000WORDS' and 'The View From Here' or can be downloaded to mobile devices from 'Ether Books'.  I was delighted to win the Exeter Writers Short Story Competition, 2013.

What the Dickens? Magazine Collection - eBook anthology, 2013
Blood Ink: Crime Unleashed - Chapter One Promotions, 2012
Fear: A Modern Day Anthology of Horror and Terror: Vol 1 - Crooked Cat, 2012
Voices of Angels: An Anthology - Bridge House Publishing, 2011
Ways of Falling - Earlyworks Press, 2011


Can you share the premise of your latest project?
I'm currently working on a fantasy novel, which starts when a professor discovers a way of adapting cells to be more resilient to diseases, but in the process, creates vampire-like side effects.  It will delve more deeply into vampires and their mythology as the novel progresses but I only have a vague notion of where I'm heading with it at the moment.  Also, I always have short stories and flash-fictions on the go.  A recent short story I wrote deals with the fears of fatherhood but it is only in its initial drafts.

In particular, what led you to write?
Ah, voices in my head!  Since childhood, I always had a dialogue of sorts running through my mind, creating scenarios and characters.  

Is there a key person or group that has inspired you in the process of writing?
One person who has been important in terms of helping me to shape my work is a writing tutor.  She is a poet and playwright and taught me the value of using economical language.

How do you envision your work will impact your readers?
I guess different stories will have different impacts.  In general, I hope I'm able to move people, or create tension and fear if that's the aim; ultimately, I hope to entertain in some way.

As you embarked on writing your book, what was the overall message you wanted to convey to your audience?
I'm not sure I have an overall message.  It's more about taking a character on their journey and seeing how they respond to different scenarios or if they change.

What process did you go through to build the narrative of your book?
It often starts with a single idea and then the characters begin to emerge.  I'll jot down a rough outline in terms of the story, but I'll begin writing without a definite plan.  If the story flows, things happen that I don't necessarily anticipate, which is a great feeling.

In every author’s experience, there is often a pivotal event that results in the creative process. Can you describe the pivotal event that led you to write your book ?
I don't know about a pivotal event as such because, as I said, the urge to write has always been there.  I suppose having more time ultimately led me to complete a novel; before this, I regarded it as a hobby.

Are there any tips you can share on what parents can do to foster the love of reading and books?
Perhaps rather obvious ones, but to be led by the child's interests in terms of story selection, and I think reading to them from a young age can instil a love of stories.

Describe the role books played in your own life.
My sanctuary! Where I go to get away from the day-to-day, which is probably why my preferred genres are fantasy/surreal, sci-fi and historical fiction.




Alver Arts Festival - What to do if you missed it!

Friday 12 July, Alver Arts Festival presented Gosport Ever After at Grange Farm, Gosport. Zella Compton arranged a fabulous evening of crackling firelight, real ale, toasted marshmallows, and spell-binding tales . . 

I hope with a passion this will be the first of many. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and I have already given Zella a couple of gentle hints that she should book next years. However, if you missed the wonderful evening on Friday there are still opportunities to see other performances from some of the authors. Well the ones that I currently know about.

Me
9th August Umbrella Festival at the Groundlings Theatre

Sunday 25 August, Victorious Festival at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. You need to get tickets in advance for this cracking event.

Poetry Cafe 9th October Winchester Discovery Centre

And watch this space for news of the Day of the Dead

Margaret Jennings 
9th August Umbrella Festival at the Groundlings Theatre

Poetry Cafe 9th October Winchester Discovery Centre

Zella Compton
Sunday 25 August, Victorious Festival at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. 

Havant Arts Festival 

William George Sutton
Protest songs, popping corks. Scandal, sabotage, stink.
6pm Thursday 1 August. Waterstones, 82 Gower Street, London WC1E 6EQ

Diana Bretherick and William Sutton are holding Victorian Devils on Wednesday July 31, a joint launch of their diabolical crime novels with Devils on Horseback and anarchist antipasti, at Blackwell’s, Portsmouth.


Annie Kirby
Annie and others will be  coordinating a project that will see hundreds of local contributors’ work involved in a fitting BookFest finale.

Denyse Kirkby
October (ticketed event) Portsmouth 60 Plus Festival 


Friday, July 12, 2013

Sue Hampton Guest Blog

I am honoured that fellow writer Sue Hampton is my Saturday guest blogger. I first met Sue when she visited The Writers at Lovedean. She is a lovely lady and a talented writer.

Sue Hampton

I write for 6 – 16 year olds but also have an adult novel, ARIA, available as an e-book and audiobook and inspired by Jane Austen but set in present-day Florence. I have sixteen novels published by Pegasus. As a full-time author I spend some of my time visiting schools to lead writing workshops.

I was a teacher who wrote poems, school plays and paragraphs to use in class to illustrate writing techniques. I’d always wanted to be an author but worked an eighty hour week. Then I wrote THE WATERHOUSE GIRL one summer, drawing on my own experience of alopecia but adapting from life. My character isn’t me.

I’d made contact with Michael Morpurgo just to tell him I‘d felt the power of his stories in the classroom and his kind reply encouraged me to approach him again and ask him to read my manuscript. I thought my life was about to change when he rang to tell me he loved it, it was beautifully written and had moved him, and he’d put it into the hands of his editor at Harper Collins,recommending it. Months later Harper Collins rejected me, even though the editor concerned sent me a handwritten letter in which she agreed with Michael that it was beautifully written. It was all about the market – and eleven or twelve years later, it still is, more than ever before.  

After my dad, who was a poet and playwright who never achieved recognition, Michael was my inspiration because his stories matter. They’re not froth. They strike deep and are powerfully emotional. I write because I love words; novels and characters that become real to us enrich our experience of life. Stories make us bigger people. I don’t write for the commercial market which would restrict me and expect me to follow trends. I’m interested in timeless themes rather than bandwagons.

So when I wrote POMP AND CIRCUMSTANCES, my seventeenth novel, published by Pneuma Springs, I used Royal Wedding Day as a one-off setting for changes in the lives of my young Londoners – including the big ones, love and death. It’s a YA novella, with adult characters around the sixteen-year-olds, and all the action takes place over twelve hours, which is a challenge I’ve had in mind since reading Mrs Dalloway! Once I’d found my characters, it grew quickly and they took control as they always do, but a little plotting proved necessary when it came to the circumstances in the title.

I still re-read my heroes:  George Eliot, Dickens, Tolstoy. I admire Carole Shields, Anne Tyler and Siobhan Dowd (who died tragically after four children’s novels). Writing is very much a full-time job, even though it doesn’t make me a living, and it’s a privilege.

You can buy a copy of Sue's new book at...

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Pomp-Circumstances-Sue-Hampton/dp/1782281819


Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Groundlings Theatre are looking for writers.

I  popped along on Thursday morning to the new writing group at The Groundlings. Theatre Manager, Jim Wringe explained there are lots of yummy opportunities for writers, poets, actors and actresses at The Groundlings Theatre. On this first morning, four writers, pens posed, went along to find out what's going on, myself, William Sutton, Zella Compton and a beautiful young writer called Heidi. It is definitely worth pushing your head around the door next Thursday (11am)  just to write in such atmospheric surroundings - anyone with a camera would love it.

We were lucky enough to be given a tour. It really is a unique theatre. Not many places can boast that Charles Dickens mother water broke there.

They are looking for writers to write short pieces for the following, however more opportunities will arise. 

The Umbrella Festival
9th 10th August 

South Sea Show
Involving the Kings Theatre & Groundlings 
3rd 4th of August 

Kangaroo Club
Storytelling/acting club for children 

Portsmouth University Ball 
21st July  - one liners short pieces for the 
Mad Hatter,  Narnia characters fantasy & woodland sort of thing.

The Dockyard Festival of Christmas (which is the biggest in Europe)
Its theme used to be Victorian - but now focusing on Sherlock Holmes Sweeney Todd Dickens, Edgar Allen Poe. 
The pieces must interact with crowd. 
It is open air theatre 

Horror stories for October 'Halloween Ghost Scary Walk around the theatre'- make it funny, different & quirky - timings - short because of people's attention span. 

They are happy to do book launches for successful writers out there - so definitely an excellent networking site..


They have actors, sets, costumes - everything you need to put your work on stage, it's  worth investigating the possibilities.

For more information contact Jim Wring, Theatre Manager, The Groundlings Theatre.

Members of The Writers at Lovedean will be performing at the theatre on Friday the 9th of August. 





Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Come on Get through it

Last night I was sitting alone in my car in a school car park. I do it a lot these days. Before you get worried it is nearly the end of term and I have two children. Every time we switch on the TV, the joke is on the lazy incompetent Dad. He is completely unable to cope with family life, and stressed Mum always jumps in saving the day. Could you imagine the public outcry if the Dad character was a woman, disabled or from a ethic minority? Dads are safe to laugh at. I know, I've also jumped on the band wagon. I can't help remember how many of these pick ups and drop offs he's done over the years without compliant.

I'm currently really behind on a project. I am sick to death of playing the single mum. At the moment my beautiful girls are in Guides, Youth Explorers, they are both in separate school productions, daughter number one goes to a writing club, daughter number two is on the rounders team and, they are both Young Leaders at church.

For the last couple of months my kids pick up schedule has been something like this:

3:30 pick up
4:30 pick up
7:00 drop off
9:00 pick up 

Every night except Fridays and, that's not counting the weekend commitments. I'm miss the 'Dad's taxi.'

 So I'm sitting in the car park with ear ache so bad that I'd bought name brand pain killers, not the 32p pack from Wilkinson's.  I'm alone on my wedding anniversary looking at a dead frog on the pavement. I swear that if a mans penis decided to go for a walk and got run over - it would look just like that frog. And, I sort of want to find a stick and poke it, but I'm also aware that other parents are waiting in the car park for their children. I feel weird from lack of sleep. I'm debating writing a poem about being a squashed frog - but it's on the school pavement, not the road. Did it meet it's death being trampled by a thousand feet?

AND THEN Tender by Blur came on the radio.....

Every so often in life this happens - well it does to me - when something reaches out and touches you. It is has if it's a special message just for you. It could be a song, a poem, a prayer, a story. I remember going to Tate Gallery in Liverpool sixteen times to see the same picture. Despite hearing Tender before and knowing a few of the lyrics, tonight under a colourless sky I heard it for the first time. 

Come on, Come on, Come on 
Get through it

And I will - I will get through it.

I immediately bought it off iTunes and played it again. The tension from my shoulders just lifted as the words flowed...

Tender is the night
Lying by your side
Tender is the touch
Of someone that you love too much
Tender is the day
The demons go away
Lord I need to find
Someone who can heal my mind

Come on, Come on, Come on 
Get through it
Come on, Come on, Come on 
Love's the greatest thing
Come on, Come on, Come on 
Get through it
Come on, Come on, Come on 
Love's the greatest thing 
That we have
I'm waiting for that feeling
I'm Waiting for that feeling
Waiting for that feeling to come

Oh my baby
Oh my baby
Oh why
Oh my

Tender is the ghost
The ghost I love the most
Hiding from the sun
Waiting for the night to come
Tender is my heart
I'm screwing up my life
Lord I need to find
Someone who can heal my mind

Come on, Come on, Come on 
Get through it
Come on, Come on, Come on 
Love's the greatest thing
Come on, Come on, Come on 
Get through it
Come on, Come on, Come on 
Love's the greatest thing 
That we have
I'm waiting for that feeling
I'm Waiting for that feeling
Waiting for that feeling to come

Oh my baby
Oh my baby
Oh why
Oh my
X2

Come on, Come on, Come on 
Get through it
Come on, Come on, Come on 
Love's the greatest thing
Come on, Come on, Come on 
Get through it
Come on, Come on, Come on 
Love's the greatest thing 
That we have
I'm waiting for that feeling
I'm Waiting for that feeling
Waiting for that feeling to come

Oh my baby
Oh my baby
Oh why
Oh my
X2

Tender is the night
Lying by your side
Tender is the touch
Of someone that you love too much
Tender is my heart you know
I'm screwing up my life
Oh Lord I need to find
Someone who can heal my mind

Come on, Come on, Come on 
Get through it
Come on, Come on, Come on 
Love's the greatest thing
Come on, Come on, Come on 
Get through it
Come on, Come on, Come on 
Love's the greatest thing 
That we have
I'm waiting for that feeling
I'm Waiting for that feeling
Waiting for that feeling to come

Songwriters: ALBARN, DAMON/JAMES, STEVEN ALEXANDER/COXON, GRAHAM

I'm over forty, the days of poking dead animals with a stick are over (unless I'm in America - the armadillo experience is another story and one I wouldn't mind repeating.) 

I have so much to look forward to. Seeing my first non fiction book in print - going back to uni - and waiting for a tender day when 


The demons go away


http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=V1YP2ys2bKk&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DV1YP2ys2bKk
  

Accept that you have fears but don't let them rule you.

My husband is shy. I get it. I sympathise. But my one pet hate about some shy people is there certain belief that they have complete ownership on nerves.

Many people don't realise I suffer from sensorineural deafness. Rightly or wrongly I've never ticked the disabled box. I actually had six years speech therapy as a child. I still struggle with different sounds, speak too loud, interrupt when others are talking because I think they're finished. I miss a lot of what is going on around me. I learned to be the clown, laughed when I got the word wrong. Pretended to be a little bit thick - acted the comedian. The reason - nerves and to cover up the fact I have a problem. 

Last night I helped on the refreshment stall at my daughters school play to raise money for the school. I struggled to hear and fell back into my usual jokey playing the fool behaviour. Someone who is shy may envy the way I can chat and talk to strangers, but that is the way I cope with nerves and I often feel self loathing for my loud behaviour. I didn't know the other helpers. I didn't feel like I fit in. So I went back to tried and tested coping strategies.

I suffer from anxiety a lot. The thing is that everyone has different ways of copying with there fears. It may be public speaking, reading out your work, the paralysing fear that you will fail or be speechless. I may cover well in front of people, but it's not uncommon for me to be up all night and most of that time is usually in the bathroom.

Realising that everyone has their own hang ups is a good step in being more forgiving to your problems.  Everyone has a burden that one has to carry on their own. It doesn't always mean that it is a physical burden, it may be a psychological burden. It isn't something that can be shared or off loaded. The question is what to do about it?

If you struggle reading your work out loud - do it as often as you can. Stop telling yourself what you CAN'T do and focus on what you can do. The best thing you can do is to over-prepare when you're facing an intimidating situation that makes you nervous. The number one cause for nerves is feeling inadequate. Practise. Put yourself into scary positions. 

I didn't feel last night went well, and I'm worried about doing it again on Thursday. But even if I did appear to be a loud nut. At least I know I did it! I wanted to help the school raise money - and that's what I did.  Accept that you have fears, understand that you may not like how you deal with them, but don't let them rule you.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

I blame the wonderful Della Galton

During my quest for a publishing deal, I have been on lots of writing courses, two run by Della Galton. I would highly recommend Della's courses by they way, see here for more details, http://www.dellagalton.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/della-class.jpg.

Unfortunately, instead of taking her advice on editing - which I hate!  I focused on her stories about how she get ideas. Della loves her dogs.  She has these amazing, wonderful long walks in which  fills her  with creativity and the urge to write successful short stories and novels. She's even published a book about a dog, The Dog with Nine Lives.

Newly inspired I left the building with notes on how to edit my stories like a professional, which I quickly lost. I was convinced I now knew the secret of her success. Buy a dog. Since we had a rat problem, why not buy a dog that kills rats? Of course, instead of getting advice from dog owners or the kennel club about where to buy a puppy - why not just ask the rat man? He promised me that this puppy's mother had been an outstanding rat hunter and this dog would kill any pest. Well, I can't disagree, Watson our West Highland Terrier kills, a lot. Rats, mice, baby bunnies, birds, pigeons especially when lame and, this strange little mammal creature with a long snout which is probably extinct now. I'm not going to mention the unfortunate incident with someones pet. What we didn't know is that our little rat catcher would chase the kids around the garden with dead rats in his mouth. Or that he would drop a mice and birds into our cups of tea and bowls of cornflakes. I certainly wasn't prepared for the dead mouse being dropped into my bubble bath or visit to the vets to remove a birds leg from between his teeth.

Lets get this straight I completely love my dog. I can cope with natural terrier behaviour. I can cope with the fact that he wakes me up by biting my toe. That he doesn't run up and shows me he loves me when I come home, unless I'm carrying a KFC. I'm fine with the fact that we are now on our fourth dog trainer who has more degrees than a thermometer. Plus my dogs diagnosis from an animal behaviourist is,

'Well you see the thing is with Watson he knows all his commands he is simply choosing not to obey them. He's what's known in the trade as an awkward bastard.'

He barks when a leaf falls and hides if he is threatened. He complains, mutters, sniffs and has been nicked name Father Jack after the character from Father Ted. He rips up my knickers and hangs them on the bushes - ok I get it. He's a dog that's what dogs do.

What really annoys me is all the long relaxing walks daydreaming about plots and characters I'm missing because of bad doggie behaviour. I am willing to own up to the fact that Watson is a bit spoilt and that I have made some new doggy owners mistakes but, today I could have killed him.

I took him into the pet shop. And I admit I did pick him a treat. I love the way he sniffs at everything and, when he sees something he likes he gets onto his back legs and begs - so cute. Even the shop owners fussed and stroked him, he was being so good, I was so proud. Then a lady came in carrying a puppy and Watson didn't bark. The staff fused the puppy and Watson gave a short snort we turned around and, he peed in the bono dog biscuits. Of course, the biscuits had to be weighed, (wet) and paid for. It is like the worse toddler behaviour with a dog. At least with a child you sometimes got sympathy from other parents.

I came home head hurting, angry, stressed with £10 of wet doggie biscuits. Do I feel like writing? Am I relaxed and filled with creativity? No...Della I'm not!