Monday, August 11, 2014

Why people like me sometimes don't leave the house.

I think it must have been the moon or something, but so many people dear to me are having rows at the moment.

I'm feeling very ill mentally. 

I totally get that families and friends fall out. I also think it's healthy to talk to friends and family about it. Better out than in. I think the 'do you think I'm overreacting questions etc' are normal. In my entire life there has only been three people that I have, with great regret, had to step away from. 

Interestingly, on reflection when I look back at the relationships that haven't worked in my life I can see that for the last year or two I wasn't a good friend to them. I started to complain about them behind their back. I became cross and impatient with them. I taught that person that it was okay to treat me badly or use me, because I accepted bad behaviour. I jumped in and did things that I didn't want to do, and then felt resentful about it later.

What I don't understand is the 'I'm not talking to such and such, so I won't be happy until YOU aren't talking to them either. 

It is an horrible situation to be in. When relationships break down, for whatever reasons, step aside, let it go. Don't try and form an army against that person. Even if you are in the right. If you see them in the street, be polite, but move on. Forgive them, untie yourself from that drama.

I can say about the three people I'm no longer connected with, that I wish them well on their life journey. I just don't want to be hurt any more. I remember the musical Fiddler on the Roof. A man asks the rabbi if there is a blessing for the Tsar, a man responsible for forcing the Jews out of their homes.

Young Jewish Man: Rabbi, may I ask you a question?
Rabbi: Certainly, my son.
Young Jewish Man: Is there a proper blessing for the Tsar?
Rabbi: A blessing for the Tsar? Of course! May God bless and keep the Tsar... far away from us!

It sort of sums up my feelings. It takes me a long time to get rid of the anger and forgive. Basically I have two settings, 'off my head' angry and calm. And I have to let it run round my head, bubble up, time and time again.  It's horrible feeling like that, I hate it, and I'm glad when it finally goes. I understand when sometimes like weeds, these feelings pop up years later. But my ultimate goal is to move on and let go.

I'm not claiming to be some sort of saint. I will hold me hand up and admit that when people who have hurt me have in turn been hurt themselves. Yes I've smiled, and felt justice been served - but not by my hand! And it does make a difference.

When my husband and I was running a company a man stole from us. Was I glad when he was caught  with his fingers in the till elsewhere? Yes. I admit it I felt validated. Particularly when those who didn't believe us was forced to realise we were right. I suppose there is a little bit of 'I told you so' in everyone.

Break ups are not an excuse to be rude, not speak to that person or announce loudly. 'I'm not going if they are going?'  Or in this case  'if you like me you wouldn't go either.' Why drag everyone else into and make them pick sides? Or happily announce what has been said behind your back. Because you're hurting you want others feel hurt. It's easily done when we are angry - but surely we should try and take the higher path?

I truly believe that it was holding on to hate and resentment that was responsible for my mothers  constant illness and death. In fact the last three phones calls I have had has made me so tired and drained, I've not left the house this morning.

So dear friends, I'm willing to listen, make tea, eat a cake with you. I really understand being upset about a quarrel and it going round and round in your head so you can't even sleep - honesty I get it. Vent if you need to. But I'm not prepared to go to war. 

If you were in a wheelchair I wouldn't ask you to climb a stair. Please understand that my mental stability boat doesn't take rough seas. So if you want to contact me this week - funny dogs and panda pictures please, no massive dramas. 

Friday, August 8, 2014

Sue Hampton Guest Post

Today's guest post is by Sue Hampton about her new book GORILLA DREAMS.

My Ever had GORILLA DREAMS? That’s the title of my twentieth book and it was published this week (as an e-book and paper book RRP £5.99) by PneumaSprings – one of my five publishers, and this book is a slim volume but that’s a very long story! In GORILLA DREAMS Mr Eden tells two stories illustrating two styles and moods, both of which I enjoy as a writer who doesn’t want to be limited to one genre or age group. The first is wacky, cartoony slapstick fun with lots of wild, humorous imagery; the second is deeper, more sensitive and lyrical, with danger and sadness in a context that’s much more real. I value my diversity!

How did I start gorilla dreaming? Well, it’s grown out of my love of dance, is dedicated to Darcey Bussell and has a few Strictly and ballet references. It’s also another way of exploring difference, a theme that in various ways underpins a lot of my work. As soon as I became Ambassador for Alopecia UK I raised over £800 by dancing non-stop for four hours. But perhaps more than anything else this book is about the power of stories – and my husband, with tongue in cheek,calls it post-modern because it has a storyteller who turns out to be a character in his own story. When I was a teacher myself I knew that Story Time was the most precious part of the school day. Subsequently as a writer I’ve seen the impact of fiction on real lives. I was invited to be Alopecia UK’s Ambassador because readers with hair loss, young and old, felt supported by my book THE WATERHOUSE GIRL. Equally movingly, it’s made readers with hair think and feel differently too. One boy wrote, “You made me a better person”. Gulp!That’s the difference stories can make.

The next book will be YA, published by Candy Jar, and then in 2015 I’ll have my first actual adult novel (currently my only adult novel, ARIA, pub. Create,exists only as an e-book and audiobook) and I’m sure this range helps me to keep learning and improving. When I had my chat at Harper Collins they wanted to ‘brand’ me and I was told that my breadth was a problem that worried them! So I’m walking my own path. It’s twisted, bumpy and difficult. It sometimes feels as if it’s looped back rather than forward and I don’t kid myself that I’m heading, albeit slowly, towards J.K.Rowling status. I won’t get there. But the path has its advantages. Teachers, librarians and parents who’ve read my books appreciate the way I write: crediting kids with intelligence, extending their vocabulary, showing them a range of sentence structures and, mostimportantly, exploring timeless themes rather than following fashion. I have devoted young fans whose enjoyment keeps me writing and I love enthusing children in schools. And when I hear horror stories of big publishers trying to bully authors and take control of content, dropping titles close to publication and trying to keep the rights to the story or demand the advance back (!) I value my independence.

I’ve learned a lot in seven years. I’ve become more critical of my own writing and edit much more ruthlessly. I don’t believe promises from anyone in the book world. Book shops and literary festivals rarely ring back. School mail-outs are costly and speculative, and in spite of Michael Morpurgo’s endorsement of my writing and my bargain fee, only one in 200 will book me. Customers at schools, shows or other events who say they’ll put a cheque in the post if I trust them with a signed book very often never pay. The competitions that really count are only open in practice to those with big publishers. And authors like me spend almost as much time on promotional activity as writing. For GORILLA DREAMS I’ll be doing at least twelve school assemblies (free) and running a competition, thankfully supported by the local library with an exhibition and prize-giving, all launched at a (free) show. Heard the phrase ‘death of the author’? The Guardian recently published a piece by the Society of Authors that said publishing is no longer sustainable or equitable for writers – whose median earnings have plummeted while most publishers still make a good profit.

But, to go back to GORILLA DREAMS, I’m a believer in stories, in the power of words and imagination. Children deserve good stories and I’m committed to trying to write them. I love the language and try to use it in ways that are fresh, powerful and exciting. And I’m thrilled to have a new book, beautifully illustrated by a genuine artist, to express my belief in the joy stories can bring.

Sue's links:

Monday, July 21, 2014

Lunch with my fellow MA students

A lovely chilled out lunch today with fellow MA students. We discussed the highs and loves of the MA in Creative Writing for Children. We lamented our low word counts, blaming family, friends and jobs for our procastination.

The rising star in our group is Tamsin Goadby (@TamisnGoadby). She completed her MA in one year and is currently being chased by agents while running writing workshops and script writing. 

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Writers at Lovedean and Angel Radio

When you run a writing group you are constantly on the lookout for opportunities for your members. This year I've sorted out a spoken word slot at the Southsea Show. But some of the members didn't feel confident at the thought of standing up in front of a crowd. 

Yesterday, I went to Havant and had a meeting with Tony Smith, the manager and founder of Angel FM. He kindly accepted my offer of some recordings of the groups short stories and poems. But he did more. He gave one of my members Mick Cooper a piece of equipment to improve the recordings. And once our stories are recorded and sent along he will be giving us a regular fifteen minute slot. I'm over the moon. And I hope my members make the most of this fabulous opportunity.










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!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Summary of Writers Retreat

It's Friday. I've woken up with my head aching and a dry mouth. I'm trying to remind myself that a writing retreat is for pleasure. Yesterday, I spent at least eight solid hours at the computer. But this is what I have achieved in a few days. It would have taken weeks at home!

A working title - don't laugh, that's an achievement for me.
I've worked out the theme. I've decided what the story will be about? What is the point it will prove? 
I've developed a story problem from my theme. When your main character’s greatest desire is thwarted, the story problem arises. 
I've decided on the story’s characters and settings to enhance my theme and story problem. 
And constructed rough a plot.

I've written the first 15000 words of my zero draft. I'm not sure how I will spend my last day. I'm hoping to get a few words down on the page before breakfast. That way if other people want to go out I can go with them.

It just shows what you can do if you are able to focus on one project. 

Unfortunately, I've received an email from the educational publisher asking me to make changes to my resources to bring them in line with the changes to the National Curriculum. I have other work I need to get ready for the Winchester Writing Festival, plus other writing jobs on the books for the next couple of weeks. 

If you are interested in booking a weeks writing retreat in France, which includes meals, TWO trips and feedback from a lovely lady with a MA in Creative Writing from Chichester University here are some details:
Margaret Jennings
She is currently working on a webpage for her retreats.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The need to read on your writers retreat

Let Yourself Read.
Many writers think they're not writing if they're reading, but in fact, reading -- whether it's the morning paper, background research materials, or somebody else's novel -- is a great way to prime the creative pump. You can write about 5 hours a day -- I did about 4000 words a day on my retreat -- but eventually either your brain or your hands will give out, and then it's time to lie around and read. I usually bring the books  that have piled up at home, plus

some other page turner. I also bring novels that I admire, and that I might think I can learn from for whatever project I'm working on at the moment. No, I don't worry about other people's work infusing/confusing my own.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

A Self - Nurture Writing Retreat

I'm not sure if this is the first day of my writing retreat or second. We landed at Montpellier airport yesterday morning. On this years writing retreat I have been accompanied by husband and daughters. We settled into the villa. My girls tried on every outfit I bought them. My oldest daughter managed to get sunburnt despite the suntan lotion. We walked to the river. AND I managed to finish the YA book I'm reading and do my two thousand word target.

At the beginning of the year I decided to try the 'One Word' challenge. So instead of making a list of New Year Resolutions I decided to pick one word which sums up the changes I wanted to make in my life. My word was two actually, self nurture. I wanted to try and treat myself as well as I try to treat other people.

I was going to try and stop flogging myself. If someone treated me badly, they stole from me or were hurtful. I was not going to try to make the relationship work not matter what. I have lost people I thought were friends (however - are they friends? That is another blog.) My relationships with other people seem to have got stronger.

I have put short term writing goals on one side to focus on my university novel, and my picture book and and early reader.

This morning I feel blessed. I have been out for an early walk. The sky is blue. My beautiful daughters are sleeping. Someone else is making my breakfast. And I am doing what I love. Writing.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Nearly there!

Well the A to Z thing was certainly a challenge, but I enjoyed it and feel proud to have completed it! I've been asked to collect all my posts to put into a free e book. The only self publishing I've ever done is The Writers at Lovedean's yearly anthology. It's certainly something to think about.

I've been writing to deadlines for the last couple of months. On the 6th I need to hand in my last assignment to the university. I'm word blind from editing. I'm looking forward to using the summer months to recharge and write for pleasure!

Just a few more days...

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Z is for a Zero Draft

The theme of my a to z challenge was macro editing. Hopefully, if you have popped by from time to time you would have realised that the difference between the professional and the amateur is the revision process. 

Fifteen years ago I thought editing was checking for spelling mistakes. In reality when we sit down to write it's with an idea. We jump in happy and excited. A few problems surface, maybe a few doubts. But we plough on. 

What we have at the end is not a first draft, it's a zero draft. It is all our thoughts and feeling poured onto the page.

Revision makes you a better writer. After each session you learn more. I hope I have given you a few tools to help with that progress. 

I am finishing this challenge with a quote from David Eddings,

"Keep working. Keep trying. Keep believing. You still might not make it, but at least you gave it your best shot. If you don't have calluses on your soul, this isn't for you. Take up knitting instead."

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Y is for You!

What's going on in your own life will show up in your writing. It is a good idea to touch base with your own motivation occasionally.  What place are you coming from when you write?

Are you writing to:
Prove a point?
Express anger?
Because you are feeling insecure?

Wondering what your emotional state as to do with editing? Let's look at an example. 

A writer is unaware that deep down he is writing to prove his intelligence. If he was aware of his unconscious motivation when editing he would be able to see he has tried to overcompensate with high language, abundant references which could be off putting to the reader. Not that it is wrong to write that way! But you should be aware of your choices when putting words on the page. And be willing to cut them if they don't work!

Are you writing for revenge? Have you tried to control the reader so everyone feels the same way about a certain character? It may have helped you vent a few hurts, but if the scene lacks spontaneity or is too acidic you may need a rewrite.

Noah Lukeman points out that, 'a writers mind is a palette, and unfortunately your mind stores a lot of baggage. It is your job to clear the slate, to create a sacred space in your mind just for the writing, free from all your neuroses as a person...You must clear your mind of pride, defensiveness, the urge to control, to write with an agenda, or to hold anything back.'

So when reviewing your work have a little think about how you were feeling when you were writing the piece. Did it help or hinder your writing?

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Writers Process Blog Tour

Thanks to Rosie Bird-Hawkins for tagging me into the chain for the writer's process blog tour. It's been fascinating reading writers' processes and seeing how people manage to articulate why they write and how they write.

For anyone who hasn't heard of it, the Writers Process Blog Tour is 'simply a weekly insight into and sharing of people's writing process.' So here goes...


What am I working on?

I'm currently studying for a MA in Creative Writing for Children at Winchester University and deadlines are looming... So my main focus at the moment is writing a picture book and an early reader. I must admit I've enjoyed this topic thoroughly. Our lecturers Sarah Grant and Andrew Weale have inspired me to look at this genre differently. I certainly understand that it's not the word count but a case of EVERY word counts at this age range. 

Although I'm looking forward to getting back to writing young adult and middle grade.


How does my work differ from others of its genre?

 For my early reader book, aimed at five to seven year olds I have tried to stay away from 'nice.' I like humour. One of my pet hates are stories that are sermons dressed as entertainment. What is the matter with just a really good story that's enjoyable to read? Mine may be a bit silly in parts. 

Why do I write what I do?

 I honestly don't know? 

I've never had the urge to write an adult novel. I think I prefer fantasy and excitement compared to adult issues I'm currently experiencing. One of my favourite young adult writers is Garth Nix, I adored his Abhorsen series 

And I'm so excited at the prospect of building my own fantasy world.

How does my writing process work?

I write everyday. A couple of years ago I started this blog 'aiming for a publishing deal,' every time I post it reminds me what my goal is. I always call my first draft a 'zero' draft, it's a useful mind game - you expect to make changes to a zero draft. While you are hopeful that a first draft will turn out alright! I just keep plugging away. I would say that my advantage is that I'm able to take rejections and criticism. Accepting praise is harder. If you want to write you have to develop a pretty thick skin.

For the next link in the chain I pass you on, appropriately enough, to an another MA writer Tamsin Goadby.

Twitter: @TamsinGoadby

And the wonderful adult writer Lane Swift.

Twitter: @LaneSwift

Saturday, April 26, 2014

W for editing with Word Clouds

Have you ever thought of using word clouds when editing?

Using word clouds can be a good way to help writers analyse their creative pieces. By copying the text of a document into a word cloud generator you can quickly see the words that appear most frequently in that document. Word clouds can also be used to help writers see which words that they have frequently used in their own works.

Have you fallen into the trap of overusing favourite phrases and adjectives?
Then ask yourself did you intentially use those words?
Who is the story about? Their name should be biggest. This is a great way to see if you are actually writing someone else's story.
Look out for 'ly' words in your word cloud.
If you have used the same word to often think about synonyms for the word you are unhappy with. 

 Here are some good tools writers can use to create word clouds.

ABCya! offers a beautiful word cloud generator. Like all word cloud generators you simply copy and paste chunks of text into the text box to have a word cloud created. Common words like "the" are automatically excluded from your word clouds. You can edit the font style, adjust color schemes, and flip the layout of your word clouds on the ABCya! Word Cloud Generator. The one shortcoming of the tool is that it doesn't provide embed codes. You can download and or print your word clouds. ABCya recently released an iPad app for creating word clouds too.

Tagul is a free word cloud generator that offers the option to link every word in your word cloud to a Google search. Click on any word in your word cloud to be taken directly to a Google search results page for that word. Tagul creates a word cloud from text you copy into your Tagul account. Tagul will also generate a word cloud from any url you specify. Just as you can with other word cloud generators, Tagul allows you to specify words to ignore in creating your word clouds. Once your word cloud is created Tagul provides you with an embed code to put your cloud on your blog or website.

Word It Out creates word clouds out of any text that you paste into the word cloud generator. Once the word cloud is created you can customize the size and color scheme of the cloud. You can also customize the font used in your word cloud. The feature of Word It Out that I like the best is that you can choose to have Word It Out ignore any word or words you choose. Ignoring words keeps them out of the word cloud.

Tagxedo makes it very easy to customize the design of your word clouds. You can select from a variety of shapes in which to display words or you can design your shape for your word cloud. You can enter text into the word cloud generator manually or simply enter a url from which Tagxedo will generate a word cloud. As with other word cloud generators you also have options for excluding words from your word clouds.

Wordle is regarded by some as the "original" online word cloud generator. Wordle provides many options for color, shapes, and fonts for displaying your word clouds.

Using a word cloud before you post your blog

Next time you write a blog and you are wondering if you have used your keywords enough for your message to stand out consider using a word cloud. is the site that I used to create this word cloud. It is great because you don’t have to use a URL. You can actually just paste the text content of your blogs into their site and it will generate your cloud. You also have the options to change the number of words displayed, colors, font, and more, which are all great if you want to use your cloud as an image in your blog.

Friday, April 25, 2014

X is for X-Rated

IWhy is it that — as a rule — erotica is seldom taken seriously, either by writers or readers?
The following are some questions to ask if you are macro editing your  erotic fiction:

Did you bring the same attention and regard to writing about sex as you would to anything else you’d write? Did you assume the reader wants — and is capable of appreciating — something beyond a quick fix. 

Have you used too many blow-by-blow descriptions of sex acts? The mechanics aren’t what’s intriguing. The emotional dynamics between people are intriguing.

Did you use 'throbbing rod?' And other coy euphemisms for body parts? Don’t use the hero’s member, or manhood, or hard hot tool or battering ram. Don’t say that he pounded her like a jackhammer, or that she lay back, spent. 

Have you kept it real or do you have two flawlessly beautiful people having ecstatic sex?  The key to any fictional scene is tension and conflict. It’s okay for characters to feel awkward or angry or afraid within a sex scene. We are drawn to each other’s darkness, strangeness, sadness, and vulnerability.

Have you drawn on all five senses when you write a sex scene? The curve of a breast. The scent of leather. The taste of sweat. The sound of rain against the window. The texture of the grass in a secluded field. A compelling fantasy demands a certain immediacy. Put the reader where your characters are. 

 What is the fantasy these lovers are enacting? What is the power dynamic between them? What secrets, longings, grudges, insecurities, memories are in play here?

I hope today's list helped any x rated writers out there. What are your thoughts on erotica?