Monday, June 30, 2014

Brick walls

I am so frustrated. It's hard when you're plans hit brick walls.

Plan 1. Create a new website for my writing group. I have done everything. I have put all the correct information in...but I'm stuck on getting one widget to work on the members page. 

Plan 2. Send out picture book manuscript. I've received some excellent feed back from the editor of Little Tiger, but try as I might I'm not sure how to put those changes in.

Plan 3. Self publish my ebook and YA novella. But stuck on creating the cover and I'm not sure I want to invest the time needed on Goodreads, joining groups, reading others work and writing reviews  while I'm studying my MA.

Plan 4. I want to transfer a short story into a YA novel or novella, but I'm aware in the original story there is a change of POV at the end, I'm not sure if this works and can't think of a different ending.

Plan 5. Finalise arrangements for the Southsea Show, but I'm still waiting on writers to get back to me.

So I have decided to spend the day on other tasks that need to be done, and hope the solutions present themselves.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Head Above Water!

I'm starting to feel more in control. It's been a mad couple of weeks of massive amounts of work.

I started an MA in Creative Writing for Children in September. I have completed two modules. The assignments for the both have been sent in, marked and I'm pleased with the results. So far we have covered the picture book, early years and fiction for children - I focused on the 7 to 9 age range. I decided to do more than the assignment. I now have two completed pieces, the picture book and early years series, ready to send out.

My third idea for a series of books for 7 to 9 year old needs more work, but I'm confident I can use the skills I have developed in my first year at university to polish my idea. Plus, I'm hoping the Sarah Lean workshop I am going to at the weekend will provide inspiration for my other work.

This doesn't mean that I will automatically find someone interested in my work, but it's definitely nice to have projects completed. The list makers out there know the importance of a nice big tick in a check box.

Those who read my blog will know I write educational resources. My editor told me a few weeks ago that if I wanted them to continue to sell the books, I would need to rewrite the teacher notes so they are in line with the changes to KS3. That was a challenge for me, and I'm glad I have finished the task.

I've written a few articles. And worked as a host at the Winchester Writers' Festival last weekend, which was really useful for networking. All in all the despair at the workload is starting to lift at last!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

A weekend at the Winchester Writers' Festival

I spent the weekend as an host at the Winchester Writers' Festival. For those who don't know, the WWF is three days of inspiration, networking and learning for new and emerging writers working in all genres and for all audiences.  Delegates can choose from a wide range of day-long workshops and short talks.

My job was to bring teas and coffees to a couple of agents, and generally made sure they had everything they needed.

Each year they offer around 800 individual one--to-one appointments available for delegates wanting to speak to literary agents, commissioning editors and award-winning authors.

Last year unpublished writer Jenny McLachlan met literary agent Julia Churchill at the Festival. This year she's returning to launch her first YA novel, Flirty Dancing, published by Bloomsbury.

I've been twice before as a delegate, but this was my first year as a volunteer. It was certainly a useful opportunity to put faces to some of the leading names in the industry. And I met some fellow volunteers who made the whole weekend so much fun.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Sometime you just have to get on with it.

Have you ever spent three hours ironing, finished up, put the board and the iron away, only then to realise that you have missed the six shirts on the line? 

Recently, the majority of my paid writing jobs have been educational resources. After months of work, editing, and peer review I wrongly assumed that I had crossed the finish line. They are now published and on sale! Finished. Pat myself on the back. Walk away and start something new.

Of course I didn't factor the changes in curriculum for 2014.

The emails came in thick and fast requesting that I:

1. Complete a cross-reference table to insert at the start of your resource after the Teacher’s Introduction. This table should match your lessons/activities/worksheets to the pre-Sept 2014 Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening Assessment Foci, and levels where appropriate. This is for teachers to use as guidance only as we recognize many teachers still value these. Please use the attached template.


2. Remove all other references to the pre-Sept 2014 AFs or levels throughout the remainder of the resource.


3. Remove all references to the National Literacy Strategy or SATs


4. Add any notes to your Teacher’s Introduction that acknowledges the new curriculum requirements and how your resource will help support teachers.

I'm now heavily committed to my MA in Creative Writing. I'm in a lets be creative and get words down on a page. I really don't want to do this task before me...but I'm also a professional who quite likes getting paid.

So with a sad and heavy heart I realised I just had to get on with it.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

The Writers at Lovedean 2014 Calendar

We are a lively bunch of writers, who are all enthusiastic about our own various projects; including novels, short stories, children's literature and poetry.

We meet every Friday at 10 o'clock at Lovedean Village Hall.

An eclectic group from various backgrounds, and skill levels. Some just enjoy writing for the pleasure, some looking to get published.

As a group we look to produce a souvenir book every year. All our members are encouraged to get their work in the book.

New members are always welcome

Come along to see us and you'll always get a warm welcome.

We can be found every Friday from 10am - 12.30, in the small hall at Lovedean Village Hall

Lovedean Village Hall

6A Lovedean Lane

2014 Calendar 

26th September
Short story or poem competition.
Must be six minutes or under.
Read and vote for the story on the day.
Theme: 'I will survive.'

18th July
Write Out Day
Staunton Country Park
Meet at 10 am. Bring pen paper, money for parking, entry fee and coffee.

Staunton County Park, Middle Park Way, Havant PO9 5HB

Farm and gardens admission

  • Adult: £7.50
  • Senior Citizen: £6.50
5th September
Day Writing Retreat
10 am tea/coffee
10:30 intro session
11am writing activity which may include visiting the beach - bring suitable clothing/footwear
c.12:30 pm light lunch - tea/coffee provided
2:30 pm tea/coffee cake 
3pm close
£15 per person
The Crescent, West Wittering PO20 8EE

26th September 
Macmillan Coffee Morning
Tea, coffee, sandwiches, cakes, live readings, raffle.
Please bring family and friends. All money goes to charity.

3rd October 
Short story or poem competition.
Must be six minutes or under.
Read and vote for the story on the day.
Theme: 'The Sea'

This years anthology is now out a 'Teacup of Words.' It is available on lulu.


Personality Tests, Characters and Lane Swift!

Over the years I have done lots of personality tests. Alas, I have never managed to do a test twice and get the same results. Or, read the results and think, wow, they have nailed it. That's me all over. 

A fellow writer has sent me the link to the one of the most popular tests. It is called the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator or MBTI. Used by 89 of the Fortune 100 companies, it has been translated into 24 languages and has been adopted by governments and military agencies around the world.

Like many personality tests, MBTI is based on the work of Carl Jung, the Swiss psychiatrist who, together with Sigmund Freud, laid the foundations of modern psychology. Jung developed the idea of opposed pairs of character traits which are present in all of us and suggested that in each pair we each have a natural preference.

So why doesn't it work for me? Am I not answering the questions properly? 

I was told that my problem is that no matter how they phrase the questions - I read them differently. Therefore, dependant on my mood, or which job I'm going for, my answers change. 

The questions ask you what your prefer. No matter how many questions there are, no matter how many different ways they phrase their questions, every time it look at the sheet I can only seen four questions. Over, 

Extravert or introvert?

Using your head or heart?

Do you use facts or feelings?

Are you a planner or spontaneous?

My fellow writer is using the test to help her develop the characters in her latest novel, which it think is a brilliant idea. Since Lane Swift is an erotic fiction writer who deals with the emotions of the characters, it is really vital that her character studies are accurate. Her first book, 'Game Player' will be published by Less Than Three Press some time in the Autumn (or Fall if you are in the states.)

Where to find Lane Swift online

Monday, June 2, 2014

Rolling up the sleeves so I can write!

After a productive writing retreat I have returned to England feeling pretty deflated. We arranged that repairs would be made to our home while we and my little Westie with an attitude was away. Smart idea? I thought so. Unfortunately, returned home to a massive mess. 

So instead of keeping the writing momentum going it was time to roll up the sleeves, and get sorted. We often talk about how stressed we are, or how much we have to do. We don't even realize that we're making it harder on ourselves by fretting over things that are going to have to get done anyway. My writing space had been destroyed, no one else was going to be able to sort it so...

I ordered three audible books so I could do some university reading while sorting and just got on with it. I invited a few people to lunch on Thursday as proper motivation to get the area clear. 

It was only a small change in thinking, but it does help!