Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Big List of Things To Do 2011

There is something wonderful about the start of a new year. I have always been quite a focussed person and I find it a great time to reflect. It is always the time when I think about what I want to do, what I want to change and where I want to be in another year's time.

I have to admit to a sense of achievement in knowing for once I have actually taken action on these things over the past year. My 'Big List' in 2010 included 79 tasks and I managed to complete 55 of them. I'm pretty happy with that as some of the tasks on the list really weren't that important and they'll get done when they get done. I think I tried to 'micro-manage' my list last year and wanted to include every little thing I needed to do. Life doesn't quite work like that though and in the end I concentrated on my writing and health goals. So this year, rather than the seven categories I had last time I have just four. They are health, writing, household and competitions. I have tried to make the list far more achievable this year and as a result the household category no longer contains house chores and instead the single goal of 'Get a dog!' 

The main focus remains on my health (presently half-way to my three stone weigh loss goal) and writing. It is a single page this time and far more achievable. As this blog is about writing I have added my writing goals below but don't be surprised to find me blogging about the other goals as well.

·         Complete first draft of ‘The Shortlist’
·         Complete second draft of ‘The Shortlist’
·         Complete final draft of ‘The Shortlist’
·         Send ‘The Shortlist’ to agents/publishers
·         Complete final draft of ‘The White China at Rose Cottage’
·         Enter ‘The White China at Rose Cottage’ into some competitions
·         Get 10 writing ‘hits’
o   Number One
o   Number Two
o   Number Three
o   Number Four
o   Number Five
o   Number Six
o   Number Seven
o   Number Eight
o   Number Nine
o   Number Ten

This year my writing goals are more specific and the first half focus on completing my two large works in progress. I have also set a goal of reaching 10 'hits.' I first heard this term used on Sally Quilford's great blog - well worth a follow. A 'hit' refers to an acceptance but it will only count if it is paid work. Last year I had nine different things accepted but not all of them were paid work so I am hoping to increase my hits to 10.

I think the goals I have set are obtainable within the year. There is a great amount for me to learn alongside this and I will be doing this in a variety of ways. I wish you luck on achieving any goals you may have in 2011 and I will keep you updated on how I am getting on with mine.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

What a year it has been and to think in a few days it will be Christmas! This year I have been absolutely rubbish and not managed to do any cards. I would like to say that it is because I have been busy writing but the truth is I just haven't been organised enough.

So I would like to wish everybody a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year in 2011!

2010 has been a fantastic year for me where I have learnt lots, made lots of new friends and written more than in any previous year. I hope to top that in 2011 and have already started writing up my 'Big List of Things To Do.'

In the meantime I am having a relax from writing. I will be spending Christmas with family where I plan to 'eat, drink and be merry!' I hope anyone reading this has a great time over Christmas and you will hear from me again in the New Year.

As the blog has now reached 50 followers I will be running a competition in the New Year to celebrate. I had planned to run it before but the snow has stopped me getting some of the prizes so I will run it in January instead! So keep your eyes peeled for that in 2011!

Love and Best Wishes,

Catherine x

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Finding Time to Write

Something has shifted this year. I have found the gear lever and finally put the car into motion. I can pinpoint exactly when this happened and now it has finding time to write is paramount. So if you are still struggling to find the time to write I'll let you into my secrets (because they're not really secrets!)

First the point when I realised I had to do something about it. Writing has been a passion all my teenage and  adult life but it was a hobby. I never considered it anything more than this but dreamt of being published (like you do.) My imagination has always been very active and in my final year of University when I should have been concentrating on my dissertation I was busy writing  a novella at the same time. In my early years as a physiotherapist I continued to write but this became less and less as my job role became more senior. I have always been quite a bold and determined woman so becoming ill was not part of the agenda. So when not so much my illness but the side effects of my tablets became problematic I started thinking about what else I could do. 

My job as a Senior Physiotherapist was strenuous and as I am on immuno-suppressants I caught every bug going. It was a big decision but I decided to leave the NHS as by that stage I was really struggling with fatigue as a result of continuous sinus infections. There were lots of jobs within the same field I could have considered  but they were only a substitute for working in the area I loved (Medical In-Patients - I always liked trying to work out what was wrong!) Somehow I knew the only thing that would satisfy a change in career was if I pursued my writing ambitions.

This however is not the light bulb moment I am referring to. I think my light bulb was on some kind of dimmer switch. I totally gave up my job and started working part-time in my local shopmobility. It was a total change in lifestyle but for the better. I then went on and spent almost a year not really writing. It is very easy to not write. 

The point at which I realised I had to do more than just say I was a writer was before I started this blog. Within a short period two things happened that helped spur me on. The first was the renewal (or rather the non-renewal) of my registration with the Health Professionals Council. It was a bit like pulling my safety net away from me. Then on holiday someone asked what I did and I said a writer but then how can I back that up? I was still at that in-between stage (still am really) but at least these days I know I am doing everything possible to get myself there. It had dawned on me that I had shut the door on my previous profession and I needed to start working on the next. On that holiday I scrawled my first blog in a note pad determined that I was going to make a start. Now I have made a start I'm finding it easier and easier to make time for writing. So now I have waffled on for a bit here are my tips for anyone wanting to know how to find time to write (without the whole 25/8.)

  • Are you sitting comfortably?
    • One of the major reasons I get lots done is because of how I sit. I get back ache if I sit at a conventional desk for any period of time so I type from my sofa! I get up and do other tasks in between and never end up with an aching back. I have a nifty tray for my laptop and my office is created.
  • Have more than one project on the go
    • How much you write depends on the time you have available. If you only have ten minutes why not write a piece of flash fiction which you could later enter into a competition? My varying shifts mean having more than one project to choose from can be helpful.
  • Learn to say NO
    • It is very easy to let everything and anything get in the way of writing. Whether it is your working or social life there is a point at which you have to say no. Only you can decide at what point that is. But if like me you are hoping that writing will become more than a hobby then you have to start treating it as a profession. I now treat my free hours as working hours.
  • Ignore the housework
    • On the same note you must also learn to ignore the housework. It can wait. If you worked away from home you couldn't nip back to do the washing up or any of the other household chores. 
  • Write with purpose
    • Have a plan, know what you are up to or what competitions you plan to enter that month. If you have set goals in mind you are more likely to try and achieve them.
  • Increase the amount
    • I have found over past months this has happened naturally for me. The more I have written the more ideas I have been able to identify leading to more projects. If this does not happen naturally set yourself a challenge of increasing the time you write or the word count you produce.
  • Find a vice
    • Mine is tea and plenty of it. When I'm writing tea breaks are what get me through and having something to break it up will make it more enjoyable. As long as this doesn't turn into procrastination.
  • Never give up hope
    • Writing is not easy. If I wrote a list of reasons not to find time to write this blog would be much longer. When rejections come along or your great idea didn't win don't be disheartened. Instead do some reading, find out where you want wrong and try again. When I was eighteen and wanting to get into University to study Physiotherapy I was essentially told not to bother. The ratio of applicants to places at that time was 25:1. I didn't get through the conventional UCAS system and instead sent out an 'Information Profile' to all the Universities after failing to get even an interview. I included a photo on everyone and all the glowing placement reports I couldn't include on the UCAS form. The week before clearing two universities phoned me up and offered me a place. It was an unconventional way to go about it (and it is now banned - think I started a trend!) but it worked. I see writing a little bit like this. You have to find a way to elbow your way through and get yourself noticed. If you let yourself be turned away at the first hurdle then there was little point starting in the first place. Instead when ever you feel like giving up, pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start writing again.  

If you have read all of this I salute you :) 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Top Tips for Christmas Shopping On Your Scooter (Disabled Shop Blogging Contest Entry)

Mobility Scooters are a great way to get around the shops. Whether out on your own scooter or hiring one there are certain things you can do to help make your shopping trip safer and more enjoyable.

Wrap up warm
You may have noticed but it’s unusually chilly and that means making sure you are prepared for the weather. If you are heading outside for any of your Christmas shopping you may feel the cold more if you are sat for long periods. Try and go out in several layers and if that is not enough why not consider a Deluxe Scooter Cosy.

Deluxe Scooter Cosy
This will keep you nice and toasty on cold days (think we may be due a few more seen as winter isn’t upon us yet!) The other weather condition to consider is rain and there are a variety of products that can help keep you dry.

Keep the key with you
Like you would with a vehicle make sure if you are leaving your scooter you take your key with you. Shopping can be very busy and it is the only way to help ensure your scooter is safe.

Be careful with your handbag
Most scooters have a basket at the front and this is the obvious place to put your handbag. This could prove tempting for bag snatchers. Instead use a shoulder bag that you can put around you or place your bag between your feet.

Keep the handlebars clear
The controls are situated by the handles and hanging anything from here is extremely hazardous. If you hang any bags on here you are at significant risk of catching the controls and the scooter going out of control. Regard the scooter like a car; you would not store shopping by your foot pedals.

Load your shopping on safely
Scooters are very helpful for carrying your shopping when your bags are stored correctly. It may be tempting but try not to overload it. There are some great bags available specifically for scooters that enable to carry any extras you might get. They can be attached to the back and the side arms and are a fantastic way to carry your shopping. 

Armrest Pouch and Saddle
Bag Set - Tartan/Blue

Ask for assistance
If you can’t get to a shop – make sure you ask for assistance. With the Disability Discrimination Act in place access to shops should be possible but this is not always the case for smaller shops. If you can’t access a shop or areas of a shop they should help assist you in locating any products you may need. Even the larger shops at this time of year can be guilty of putting promotional products in the way of normally clear aisles. If this is the case don’t be afraid to ask for assistance. It can be a pain but they are there to help you and it is their duty to do so.

Keep your walking aid handy
If you will need your walking aid whilst you are out keep your walking aid handy. A crutch and walking stick Scooter bag can be attached to your scooter so you can take them with you easily.

Switch it off
Whenever getting on or off the scooter do make sure the scooter is switched off. It is very easy to knock the controls when you go to sit or stand so make sure the vehicle will not move by switching off and removing the key.

Most of all make sure you enjoy your Christmas shopping experience. Don’t forget to have as many tea breaks and coffee stops as required and get something for yourself in the process. Or if you’re stuck with what to get your loved ones why not consider making their life easier with one of these Scooter Accessories.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Disabled Shop Blogging Contest

I always like to feature more off the beaten track competitions and there is another great one over at The Disabled Shop Blog.

The competition is geared towards writers who have a disability or work with disability. The prize is £250 in cash and the possibility of becoming a regular (paid) blogger! The closing date is the 18th December.

The current entries are featured on the blog and they have provided clear guidelines on what they are looking for so bear that in mind.

This is another one I will enter as I have lots I can blog about on this subject; I have sarcoidosis, I used to be a physiotherapist and I now work in Shopmobility. My only problem is deciding what to blog about! They are allowing more than one entry per person so if I can't decide I may write more than one. I will share the links to them here when they are up on the website.

Good Luck if you decide to enter.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Writing Competition round-up!

Just a quick update to mention a couple of competitions. There are always lots about but I like to keep an eye out for others. These are the ones I know about and intend to enter myself.

The first is on Simon Whaley's blog and it ends on the 10th December. The challenge is to write a piece of flash fiction (no more than 100 words) about love at first sight between two people. Details can be found on Simon's blog and the prize is the book '12 points to writing romance,' by Kate Walker. The book sounds very helpful and it is worth taking the time to enter.

The next competition is from Words with Jam and the idea is to send the last lines of a story. This is free to enter and the prize is a Writers Retreat with Ruth Saberton. I have just read Ruth's book 'Katy Carter wants a Hero' and loved it. I would dearly love to win this so feeling very generous to be sharing this! Deadline is 14th January so you have a while. You can enter a maximum of three times and no more than 40 words per entry.

Good Luck to anyone who is entering. I better go and get some writing done. Feeling very lazy after my week off and haven't got back into gear yet!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Post #NaNoWriMo Interview

I am back from a refreshing break at the Christmas Markets in Germany. It was nice to have a break booked directly afterwards and it has given me a chance to reflect on #NaNoWriMo - so here we have it, an interview with myself! It's the effects of #NaNoWriMo!

Now it's finished, would you do it again?

Definitely! For me it has pushed an idea forward and put some real momentum into it. I have enjoyed it much more than I ever thought I would at the start.

You enjoyed it? Surely not, writing 50,000 words must be tough going?

It was tough and certainly isn't my usual style of writing. It's a more visceral style and there is no time for editing or any such luxuries. The benefit of this is you don't stop writing. Whereas normally I might try and perfect a segment of work there is no room to indulge yourself and you just move on to the next part. It meant the story moved on much quicker than it normally would and I didn't waste any time in making decisions. There were times when I struggled but I was fortunate to have some days off work. I'm not sure I would have managed it without them.

Where you ever in danger of not finishing?

Fortunately no. Although I did have to finish early as I was going on holiday and hadn't really thought about that when I signed up. I got a bit stuck at one point but with some tips from Fiona Kendall I moved on quickly. I think my main difficulty was not having time for research. There were points when I would normally double-check stuff but wasn't able to. I'll have to fill in those blanks later.

So is your novel finished now?

No. Far from it. I still have approx another 50,000 to get the first draft finished. It is a very rough first draft and then the real work of editing/re-writing will start. I plan to finish the first draft by the end of January. This may be quicker as now I've got into a momentum I want to carry on with that.

So what tips would you give anyone wanting to do it in the future?

Well from my first time experience these would be my best tips:

1) Let everyone know you are taking part. 
This way you get support even though you are being anti-social to your friends and family.
2) Scrap all the excuses. 
There are always reasons not to write. Okay so there may be some excuses that are acceptable but I think they are in the minority. The excuses that stop us writing tend to be the more mundane ones.
3) Get in contact with others taking part. 
Their support will prove vital.
4) Treat yourself at regular intervals.
Set an amount (more than 3 words) and when you get to that point treat yourself. I had two-finger kit-kats stored in the fridge and rewarded myself with tea! Not very exciting but I am slimming world!
5) Don't give up too soon and don't dismiss your ideas.

What are you up to next?

I will be finishing this project but at a slower pace. I have some admin and competitions I want to enter and I will spend some time on them alongside the first draft of 'The Shortlist.' I will also be back blogging! There have been several posts I would have completed over November but had no time to do them so have some catching up to do!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

#NaNoWriMo Winner

Normal blogging will resume when I come back from holiday next week! For now I am off to eat, drink and be merry! Good luck to all my #NaNoWriMo pals who I have met along the way and thank you to everyone for their support and cheer-leading skills over the past month!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Twitter: How to Edit Your Profile - selected as October Best Article!

I have been wanting to blog about this since I found but have held off until the formal newsletter announcing the three best articles was out!

When How To Books ran a competition back in July for the best article that month I entered How to twitter: basics. I was delighted when it was accepted and it spurred me on to do some more writing in the social media arena. After that I wrote a further article on navigating twitter and planned to submit this to how to books. Shortly after finishing the article twitter announced some planned changes so I held off completing it until I had become familiar with the new version of twitter.

It was a rather happy co-incidence that How To Books announced they would be running monthly competitions after the success of the July competition. Having familiarised myself with the changes I re-wrote the article but with so many changes on twitter I decided to break it down into two articles. They are How to Navigate the New and Twitter: How To Edit Your Profile.

I viewed writing them as really good practice and I was very happy to learn they had been accepted. So imagine my delight when I got an email from Nikki Read informing me my article Twitter: How to Edit Your Profile had been selected as one of the three best articles.

I have a book proposal with them presently and this has been an excellent way to demonstrate my writing. I have some more articles planned to write up for them in the coming months and I recommend having a go.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Probationary Member of The Society of Women Writers and Journalists

I've just received the news that my application has been accepted and I am now a probationary member of the SWWJ.

I have mentioned before that I planned to apply and I have already been to one of their events. So I am very happy to hear I have been accepted for two years. With any luck after those two years I will be a full member!

Anyway shortest blog post ever - better get back to NaNoWriMo!

Monday, November 15, 2010

I'm a #NaNoWriMo Hard Nut!

So I'm over the halfway point and I have managed to keep up! It's been a pretty hard task as expected and I have been keeping a diary of sorts which you can find here.

I feel I have neglected the blog a bit without my usual number of blog posts. Don't worry they will resume as normal in December. To prove how dedicated I am to #NaNoWriMo I have had some new tattoos done! Thought I would share my new 'sleeve' of arm tattoos with you (see below.)

Okay, okay I admit it they are not real! Could you tell? They come as part of a donor pack and they were sent to by my writing buddy, Fiona Kendall. I thought she would appreciate seeing them and it was a good excuse to blog. Apologies for the quality of the photo but had to do it on the camera phone as our camera broke the other day.

Now onto another fifteen days of hard core NaNoWriMo writing, see you on the other side!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Eight month review

This is the fourth of my two-monthly reviews. It was initially a way of me double-checking how I have got on with goals. It also serves as a way of reminding myself what I have been up to. The past two months have been amazing and I think I have got further in the past two months but not without the six months of hard work before that. So these two months have seen me get up to:

  • The results of the Writing Buddies Anthology came in and I was super pleased to find I won 1st place in Drama and Flash Fiction and 2nd place in Flash Fiction and Non-Fiction filler.
  • Put together a non-fiction book proposal and sent off to publisher.
  • Submitted two short stories to Writers News competitions
  • Written two other short stories - they need to be edited and then submitted. 
  • Applied to join the Society of Woman Writers and Journalists (SWWJ)
  • Attended an SWWJ event in London on Non-fiction with Wendy Hughes
  • Starting doing some admin and marketing for Writing Buddies and Penny Legg
  • Adapted a short story and had a rejection!
  • Letter printed in Slimming World magazine
  • Revamped this blog and Writing buddies blog
  • Set up Writing buddies on twitter
  • Signed up to #NaNoWriMo
  • Continued writing the shortlist - word count had increased by 15,000 ( 5000 + of this has been through #NaNoWriMo)
  • Attended a panel discussion on publishing at The Bournemouth Literary festival
  • Submitted 2 articles on twitter to how to books website; both have been accepted and more news on this soon!
  • Continued attending Writing Buddies and Writers in Southampton.
The past two months have been amazing and I have met lots of wonderfully helpful people along the way. So much has happened it has left me feeling a little dizzy. In terms of my goals it is just two large projects to complete. These are coming on well but I still love doing other projects as well and will continue to do this. 

Monday, November 1, 2010

#NaNoWriMo Diary of a newbie

Monday 1st November

National Novel Writing Month is here! I only decided to sign up to NaNoWriMo a few days ago and feel rather unprepared but I do have a vague storyline in my head so I am just going to push forward. I have linked up with some other writers aiming to complete the task and I think this will be what makes the task achievable. This blog post is going to be a series of entries during the month to let you know how I am getting on. I do plan to blog as normal but they will be less frequent. Wish me luck - I think I may need it, alongside large amounts of caffeine.

Tuesday 2nd November

First of all I just want to say thank you to everybody for their encouragement with regards to taking part in NaNoWriMo. It is rare in a writing project to have support in this kind of way and it is part of what makes this event unique.

I hand wrote most of yesterday's efforts and then discovered when typing up this morning it was short on the daily target. I'm happy to report I have managed to catch up today. I also had some very exciting news as well and I will do a blog post on that when it is officially announced.

I can see how this challenge could be a struggle and I am hoping to have days when my word count is more than the minimum but I am happy just to keep up for now. The difficulty is when you notice errors and the temptation to go back and edit is strong. I realise if I worry about that though I will never make it to the daily word counts. So I have been strong and ignored them. Now I just have to wonder when the National Novel Editing Month is? #NaNoEdMo

Wednesday 3rd November

Third day in and surprised to discover I am keeping up. I have to confess the quality of the work is probably lacking and I am doing far more 'running on the spot'writing than I would normally but the whole process is rather enjoyable. I tend to plan quite a lot with my writing and in this case I just haven't so any plot twists and turns are a nice surprise. I have already turned to chocolate though. Using NaNo as my excuse!

Friday 5th November - Playing catch up!

After a busy day yesterday and only managing about half the daily word count I am now playing a bit of catch up. I've caught up as much as I can today and it leaves me only 500 behind now. Thankfully I have the weekend to finish catch up. But considering it is past midnight it is now time for sleep!

Sunday 7th November

7 days in and I have to admit I am quite enjoying this! I know it is not for everybody but it is a fantastic excuse to just get on with your writing. Admittedly the plot is flawed and I have made some technical errors but these are things I am aware of and can fix later. For now I'm just enjoying the fact that I have a story in my head and I am giving myself the opportunity to get on and write it. At the moment I am not struggling with what to write. I think this will change in a week or so but for now it is going okay.

Tuesday 9th November

I'm still managing to keep up although really wanted to scrap something I just wrote but stopped myself. Even though the telling of the story is not 100% this process does push the story line on. Even if you are not completely happy with the idea (which happens quite frequently with writing) you continue with it all the same. It then gives rise to new twists and conflicts as you move on, the bland bits or badly written bits you can deal with later. My husband now asks "You managed your word count for the day?" on his return from work.

In other news I lost 2 and a half pounds at slimming world and for the first time received the Slimmer of the Week award. This is surprising as over #NaNoWriMo I have taken the advice to stock my house with chocolate and wine. I have both and have partaken in both over the past week. Okay so I have still been mostly good and used my syns towards the wine/chocolate moments but I did not expect to lose quite so much. I tend to lose about a pound each week so this is impressive for me. My main theory is that the increased word count has increased my level of finger exercise and thus I am burning more calories!

Thursday 11th November

Argh! Hit a busy patch in life and need to sort out plot! No time to blog, must got on with #NaNoWriMo!

Saturday 13th November

So after a couple of days panic I am now back on track. I have changed the plot slightly as I didn't like what I had written. It means that a small amount will be scrapped almost immediately but in the meantime it still gets included in the word count. I am now up to 20,000 words which is still slightly behind but not by much. I have a three day weekend and what better way to spend your annual leave other than writing. I do have to say a big thank you to Fiona Kendall who has been supporting me through #NaNoWriMo with very helpful emails and post! It has certainly helped me get over this glitch and will certainly help power me through the remaining seventeen days!

Monday 15th November

Half way through and I have survived! Very much hoping it is like a downhill race from now on and I won't even need to break out in a sweat. Nowt like wishful thinking!

Wednesday 17th November

I have hit the 30,000 mark and am slightly amazed I have managed it! It has become a force of habit to just spend a large chunk of the day writing and I'm beginning to wonder why I haven't treated writing like this before. Okay so in it's present state I am not delivering a spectacular novel. But this has forced me to write and for the most part I've actually enjoyed it. Most of what I have written will need a lot of work but some of the good parts will remain. It has helped develop the characters without me trying to come up with it all before starting, instead I have discovered them on the way. It is now less than 20,000 words to go and I am slightly ahead. I need to get more ahead now seen as I am heading out the country next Saturday and need to finalise my work count on Friday! So glad I have the next two days off work and no one at home to disturb me.

Sunday 21st November

Argh - where has the time gone? I am at the final push and it has got harder. The story line is there but writing fatigue has set in and I found myself going into first person by accident and the work is generally more tardy. This doesn't matter for the purpose of #NaNoWriMo but in normal circumstances I would take a bit of time out at this point. I have about 11,000 words remaining and five days to do them before I head off on a much needed holiday. This bit will be a struggle as my calender is quite busy with work as well. With any luck (or a loss of sleep) I will make it!

Wednesday 24th November

Only 4000 words to go now and I'm beginning to think I might actually finish not only in time but slightly ahead ready for holiday time! I have to admit to now checking my word count far more frequently and the writing quality is slightly poorer - BUT I have nearly made it! Tomorrow I will be setting my alarm early in a bid to finish! That's alongside a Rheumatology appointment at the hospital, meeting my friend for lunch and going to work for five hours. I'm rather determined to get it done and still have time to pack my bags - even if it does mean losing sleep!

Thursday 25th November

It's done! It's been an effort, especially getting finished ahead of time, but I managed it. I will do a proper blog about it sometime in December but for now I need a glass of wine and an early night!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

#NaNoWriMo National Novel Writing Month

In a moment of madness I have decided to sign up to the National Novel Writing Month (#NaNoWriMo.) The idea is to write 50,000 words over the course of 30 days! This is the twelfth year it has run and over that time it has grown and grown.

I have heard about it before and love the idea but wasn't sure that practically I would be able to manage it. I am still not sure on that point but I have decided I am going to give it a go. It means writing approx 1700 words a day for the whole month to get to the end target. The 50,000 words I write will be towards the novel 'The Shortlist.' This is something I have already started but what I have already written does not count towards the word count. The novel has a planned word count of between 100,000 - 120,000 so 50,000 words will be a serious indent into that. It is not quite within the usual restrictions of the NaNoWriMo as the 50,000 words is normally a single piece of that length but I need to work on what is on my agenda. It really will be a big push along with one of my larger projects which is well needed and from the sounds of things this is a pretty fun way to go about it.

I have seen various tips on how to survive the month but I'm not sure I've given myself enough time to read up on all of them. A lot of them seem to include stocking up on chocolate and alcohol! I am fortunate in that I only work part time but my shifts vary and this can affect how much writing time I can squeeze in. There may well be a lot of pen to paper and then typing up. I am also going on holiday to the Christmas markets in Germany at the end of November so not to sure if I'll manage to get it done ahead of time!

I vow to give it my best shot though. I also vow not to edit anything on the way, even if it is a complete load of tripe I will keep it and worry about fixing it all later.

In the few days before #NaNoWriMo rather than preparing I am attempting to get the short stories for Writing Magazine and Writer's News completed to send off. I have given myself the challenge of entering each of these to get back into the swing of short story writing. I am hoping to be short-listed for at least one story by the end of the year. The ones I am working on at the moment are ones I just hope to get finished and sent off. Sometimes that is an achievement in itself and the practice is really what I need.

I will add some #NaNoWriMo gadgets to the blog over the next few days but in the meantime if you are taking part and want to add me as a writing buddy you can find me here under katylittlelady! Good luck to anyone else taking part!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Bournemouth Literary Festival - Panel Discussion on getting published.

Last night I attended a panel discussion at the Bournemouth Literary Festival on getting into publishing. It was led by Penny Legg and the three authors on the panel talked about various aspects of publishing from their own experience. The panel included Martin Baum, John Houghton and Jackie Edwards; all with very different writing backgrounds.

The panel - Jackie Edwards, Martin Baum, Penny Legg & John Houghton
Photo by Joe Legg

The discussion was very well led by Penny and covered everything form how to approach publishers, what they are looking for, the importance of having a niche product, marketing, getting an agent and the financial side of being a writer. All the information was very useful and was enriched by discovering the different routes each of the writers had taken.

It was certainly food for thought and well worth the journey over there. The festival organisers asked for feedback and this event was very good but I thought the festival would benefit from being more condensed (a weekend event for example.) Mainly to make it easier for people not based in Bournemouth to attend. However saying that it was definitely worth travelling over for this single event and if it is on again next year I will certainly attend. Hopefully by that time I'll be several steps further along the getting published route. Here I am with some of the other writing buddies who attended - Jimmy Marsh and Joe Blackmore.
Joe Blackmore, Jimmy Marsh & me.
Photo courtesy of Joe Legg
All in all a valuable evening of learning and one that we all benefited from. Events like this for newer writers like myself are brilliant way to gain an insight to what you really should be doing to find yourself in print.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

A little procrastination!

It's been a busy week leaving little time for writing but I'm happy to report I am back on track with at least five free days for writing over the next week. I have been working mornings this week and that leaves me with less free time for writing and have been busy socially as well. This week saw the Shopmobility information event take place. Shopmobility is my part-time job alongside my writing -  the event went well and was an enjoyable day. Hopefully it explains my quietness over the past few days and is a good enough excuse for not having done much writing over the past week. 

I think my postman must have heard me grumbling as he has been much nicer to me this week (or at least the post has!) 3 parcels and a letter from future publishing! The letter informing me I had won a recent competition for My family tree. Two of these will provide very nice Christmas presents so for a broke writer this is very welcome news!

So back to the hard work of writing. I am slightly behind on what I want to have done so will try and get them done over the next week. The planned agenda is more novel writing with an aim of getting to 20k by the next Writing Buddies meeting, complete a short story (this is the bit I am struggling with - have the general theme of impatience but not happy with my storyline idea yet), and finish off some more how to articles. If I get all that done I will be a happy bunny again.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Double check your facts (even the basic ones!)

It is coming up to 8 months of doing this blogging business and 8 months of having a serious bash at writing. In those months I have learnt more than I could ever have imagined and am enjoying every moment. Every day I am still learning and am on many occasions trying things for the first time.

The title of this blog stems from an email I had today addressing me as 'Katherine.' I'm ordinarily not riled by many things but it rather bugged me to think that when my name was sat in the body of the email the person had not taken the time to spell it correctly. Many people call me Katy which I am happy with or Catherine my actual name but Katherine is not the spelling of my name. It made me realise if writer's are addressing editors or publishers I can quite understand them not reading on at the point of getting your name wrong.

The reason I bring this up is because it is not the only occasion I have spotted fairly basic errors in recent months. I admit that I am no angel when it comes to correctness on this blog. I have mentioned before I am dyslexic and I am certain this blog is littered with errors. Although I am pretty certain any names of fellow writers or companies are correct as I always double check them. I do not have time to edit and methodically check this blog in the same way I would any work I planned to submit. I also treat any query emails I send (and this is fairly new territory for me) with the same level of methodical checks.

I know I make mistakes which is why I always double check. I am also guilty of double checking and still missing frighteningly obvious mistakes. However the more I practice, the more I am able to recognise my weaker areas and try and address them. One thing I don't do is get people's name wrong.

When you are starting out it is especially important to double-check these facts. There is enough uphill struggle to becoming a writer without creating your own!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Postman Blues - yet another symptom!

It's no good I've fallen out with my postman! I'm not sure if he is aware of this as I haven't told him about it. I'm not sure if he is aware of the fact he is the holder of sacred news. I guess he must know that some of the letters he goes about with in his bag will delight people but at the same time the majority of his bag will be bills!

My post is normally a thing of delight and excitement but not this month. The reason it is a thing of delight is of course all the competitions I enter! I have been amazed over the years of all the wonderful things I have received. So the week is often interspersed with a package or two and that really is a wonderful thing as opposed to just the bills!

Sadly though I have slightly reduced the number of competitions I enter although anyone who follows me on twitter on a Friday might not think that (I did win 3 things this Friday though!) So there has been a reduction in the number of things I have won and the number of parcels delivered. Instead as you will know I have been concentrating on writing with various writing competitions, book proposals and submitting suggestions. So I am waiting for the postman to bring me letters telling me I have won The Bridport Flash fiction prize, my book proposal has been accepted and any other number of my writing fantasies!

So this week he brought me bills, holiday catalogues and sales brochures. The only excitement turned out to a sample protein shake and really don't think I am in need of that! I have not had such dry and drab post for a long time - I think they must know I'm waiting on news!

Although there was an upturn yesterday when I received some tickets so maybe the trend is improving again! However much I like prizes though I would much prefer a book proposal acceptance or the like. Although in the absence of a book proposal acceptance it would be nice for the parcels to still turn up!

Hopefully this week's post will fair a bit better but having said that today he brought me four letters......for my husband! 

Friday, October 15, 2010

A revamp!

Over the last week I have been updating the Writing Buddies blog and at the same time found a new blog design for mine. The new background matches my business cards so I when I saw a similar background I had to have it!

I have also taken the opportunity to add a diary page onto the blog. The amount of events I am involved with now means I have enough to justify it and with any luck the Wordfall anthology will be out by the end of the year and I will have more events to add.

I have done the same with the Writing Buddies blog and there will eventually be books on the Buy Our Books page! I just have to sort out some technical bits before that will appear!

I have also set up a writer page on facebook as until now I haven't really used facebook to announce what I've been up to. Now all I need to do is update my website and get on with some writing.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Writer's Insomnia

I'm not sure if writer's insomnia is quite the right phrase but I'm quite sure this kind of condition exists. It has taken me a while to catch the condition but perhaps it is a clear sign I can count myself as a writer now.

If you are not too sure what I am on about it can include all or some of the following:

  • When you wake up early or in the middle of the night rather than rolling over and going back to sleep you get up and start writing.
  • When you go to bed you have a notepad and pen in hand.
  • When you are drifting off to sleep your mind is working on your latest plot twist.
  • When you sleep you have bizarre dreams which you jot down as soon as you wake up just in case it comes in handy.
  • Even though you have enough writing projects to last the next year you spent your day finding more things to write about. The only way to get it all done is to give up some of your sleep!
If you have experienced any or all of the above then you are probably suffering from writer's insomnia. This is common in all writers. I'm not sure if there is any cure but I'm not sure I'd want one. Let me know if I have missed any of the common symptoms, I'm only in the early stages! 

Sunday, October 10, 2010

A diary entry!

It has occurred to me that lots has gone on recently and I haven't included it all on the blog. I'm the kind of person that if I don't write it down I will forget I ever did it. So please forgive me for this blog but it is purely so I remember what I've been up to when I do my two month review.

For anyone who doesn't know I set out a set of objectives at the start of this blog to help focus my mind on writing. It has worked and I now have two objectives to complete. Along the way though I have done so much more than I ever expected. I have met an amazing amount of wonderful and very helpful people and many opportunities have opened up to me. So here are all the things I have been up to but will forget to add if I don't jot them down now:

  • Adapted a short story for local magazine but they turned it down! Think I may have hacksawed it a little too harshly!
  • Got an email from slimming world to let me know they are printing the letter I sent them later this year.
  • I have been asked and agreed to do the PR side for the writing buddies anthology, Wordfall.
  • Set up a twitter account for Writing Buddies.
  • I am helping out Penny Legg with the PR for her upcoming books.
  • I send of a short story for Writers News and will continue to do this monthly.
  • Went on library tour with Writers in Southampton and went to a Southampton writer's circle meeting.
I am amazed at how focussing my mind on writing has really started to put such a momentum on developments. My mind is brimming with ideas and there are not enough hours to do them all at the same time but I am making sure I am getting on with it all as much as possible. With any luck I will have completed all my goals within the year! 

Friday, October 8, 2010

Writing competition round-up!

It has been a while since I added some writing competitions! I try and find the more unusual ones rather than the main stream ones. The advantage with these kind of writing competitions is potentially you may have more chance as there will be less entries. It is nice to have a few competitions that do not cost to enter as a way of practice as well. It can mean they are slightly more obscure but that can always add to the fun.

The Writers Bureau are continuing their 21st Birthday celebrations with another monthly competition. This month they are looking for a 50 word piece Halloween story aimed at children. The winner will win a writers bureau writing for children course. You do need to sign up to their monthly newsletter but the emails are useful and infrequent so well worth doing. Closing date is 31st October.

Looking further afield there is a free to enter competition based over in America. It's the Dorothy Shoemaker Literary Awards and full details of both the poem and prose competition can be found on their website. The closing date for this is 30th November. You can enter via email and their rules can also be found on the link above.

Here is something a bit different! Three minute theatre festival are looking for submissions and the details are on Arts news. Email them for full details and an information pack.

There was another competition I was going to include but read Simon Whaley's latest blog with the very reasons you should always check terms and conditions. So make sure you check out any terms and conditions with any competition you plan to enter. Not only to check how to enter but what entering may entail.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Society of Women Writers & Journalists (SWWJ)

I have mentioned the Society a few times on this blog and last week I managed to send my application off for probationary membership. I won't hear until November if I have been accepted but fingers crossed I will.

I wouldn't have known about the organisation if it hadn't been for joining Writing buddies and meeting Penny Legg who is the editor of The woman writer magazine (SWWJ's magazine). As I learnt about it I realised it was well worth applying even though I am only an aspiring writer not a professional one.

Yesterday I headed up to London for an SWWJ event. It was a day for journalists and non-fiction writers run by Wendy Hughes. The day was very useful - Wendy's experience and helpful hints as to where the writing market is going was well worth going to and I will certainly attend her future events.

As I am not a member yet I went as a guest and it was a great insight as to how an organisation like SWWJ can help with your writing career. I look forward to being able to participate in future SWWJ workshops and events. Details of how to join are on the society are on the SWWJ website.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Word Count Gadget!

Just a quick blog to say I have added a new gadget to the blog. A while back I set myself a challenge to try and get a novel written before the end of the year! The chances of me getting that done are slim so instead I am challenging myself to get it done within a year of starting this blog giving me three extra months. I probably could get it done by the end of the year if I put all my effort into it but have lots of other writing projects I want to do.

I have managed to add the nifty little counter on the blog and as you can see I have done 6% of the 100,000 word aim I have given myself. Over the next few weeks I will be putting a little more effort into this in the hope I will reach that aim by March next year. I am also going to have to concentrate on not editing and go for volume for the moment rather than quality in an attempt to get at least the first draft done.

If you want to add one yourself you can find all the information you need here.. If you see mine hasn't moved do go ahead and ask me why I'm not working on it! It means I'm probably procrastinating and need a nudge in the right direction!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Choosing a title?

One of the things I tend to struggle with is choosing a title for a piece of work.  On occasions I will have a title in mind when I start the work but most of the time I decide when I have finished. This sends my brain into panic mode as for some reason I find it difficult what to call it. I tend to save the piece under a very generic title on my laptop. This recent piece of work I saved under Sandra (a character name given as part of the contest.) I have used character names as titles in the past but I didn't plan to on this occasion as the focus wasn't entirely on this character.

It is often a huge temptation to summarise the story in a title. This is fine in some situations but if you're not careful this can give away your whole story. A reader will be put off  reading the whole story if they already know the punchline from the title. For the story I have just written I have ended up using a title that summarises the story but hopefully pulls the reader in wanting to know more. It gives nothing away but sums it up well.

I really don't know why I leave it until last and then go into panic mode. A title is an important part of a story and I always end up just hoping it's okay. Fingers crossed this one does the trick.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Practice, practice and more practice!

One of the tips for writers I have most frequently heard is write every day. When I started this blog I would have thought that was impossible. Like so many I struggled to find the time to do a small amount of writing let alone every day. Six months on and I have to say that it is a top piece of advice and anyone who is serious about writing really does need to take note of it. It is about getting yourself into a mindset that allows you to write. You have to force yourself to find time to write and the writing will breed more writing as your mindset allows you to spot good ideas more easily.

Pretty much everything I do now has a focus on writing - if I am not writing I am reading about writing. My social calender has turned into one that mainly involves writer's groups or writing events. The only time when writing is not involved is when I am at my part-time job but even then I get to think about what I am going to write. The truth is I love it and I think you need to have this level of obsession to even begin to contemplate it being anything more than a hobby.

If you are writing every day it means you are getting in the level of practice you need. Although having said that practising every day isn't enough you also need to learn from your practice. You need to be able to identify what you are getting right and what you need to improve on. I know, for example, grammar isn't my strong point. As I have mentioned before I am dyslexic and from the errors in this blog that may be clear! But for any submitted work I take the time to go through and check the errors I know I am prone to. There are also a whole host of errors I don't know I make but I am able to learn what they are so I can look out for them in the future. This can be the case for a lot of writers and you may need to spend time learning what your writing bad habits are so you can scan for them in the future before submitting work.

Presently I am writing some short stories for the first time in about a year. The short story is an art form in itself. I am hoping to do one or two a month over the next year and will submit them to the writing magazine subscription I have. It would be very easy to write one, submit it, never hear anything and then give up believing I am a rubbish writer. It would be a real waste to do that because it should be about refining skills. If your story doesn't get selected you need to read through it some time later and analysis why that might have been. I hope by the end of the year I may get short-listed in one of the competitions. If not, I'll have learnt lots along the way and I'll have about 24 short stories that I can fine tune and hopefully place elsewhere.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Brown envelope jitters!

I'm sure writing isn't the only profession where you get the jitters from an envelope but apart from GCSE/A level results I can't think of any off the top of my head.

Every time I head to the post office with a pristine envelope in hand it sets of a small case of the butterflies in my stomach. Sending off any hard work (and entrusting it will get to the recipient in the same pristine condition??) is like putting your heart on the line. You are sending it to be judged and it's a pass or fail thing. But unlike the aforementioned results you have no idea when the results will be in (unless it's a well run competition of course!) So you are left waiting and wondering what the outcome will be.

My theory on getting over the jitters is not to wait and wonder. Doing that will more than likely cause one of two things to occur. 1) You will start to believe that it is the world's greatest piece of work and why haven't they contacted you yet, or 2) You will decide it's the world's worse piece of work and you should stop writing. Neither of which are healthy. So rather than wait and wonder you should move onto the next piece of work. No matter what it is do something and try and learn from each piece of writing you do.

As you may have guessed I have just returned from a brown envelope trip to the post office. In my sweaty palms (they weren't sweaty really I'm just going for dramatic effect?!) I had three items. One was my book proposal for how to books (fingers crossed it doesn't end up at the bottom of a slush pile!), the second was an entry into the daily mail first opening paragraph competition and the final one was a postcard entry to win a break on the Isle of Wight!

The reason I mention the postcard is because it kind of spells the recipe for curing the jitters for me. Anyone who knows me or read this blog regularly will know that alongside writing I love entering competitions. Generally these just involve filling out forms but over about three years I have won lots of fantastic things! People often comment how lucky I am but the truth is it's not so much about luck sometimes it's more about just entering. If the postcard I sent today was the only competition I entered then the chances of me winning are very slim. It will definitely not be the only thing I enter though I will enter 100s of others online and probably win one or two. The same applies to writing. If you put all your hopes into one envelope you are bound to get the jitters and not likely to get anything in return . You are bound to wait and wonder what the outcome will be. You need to remember your envelope will be pitched against hundreds of others and although it may be your best work it will all depend on who is making the judgement. So enter lots.

So in the coming weeks whilst I await the outcome of my book proposal I am going to ensure I get on with my writing. I will enter writing competitions, finish my one act play and do some short stories and get them all off on their brown envelope journey. So at the end of it, like my postcard competition entry, I've just got to hope that at least one of them gets picked. What I won't be though is the person that says I never win (with either writing or competitions) because if that was the case it would mean I wasn't trying hard enough!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Being Bold

I would not necessarily describe myself as a bold person but of late that is how I have been feeling. The reason I feel like that is because I am following my dream and in itself I think that is a bold thing to do. It is not every person who would spend the time and effort to do what they truly want.

In my latest bold move I am in the middle of completing a book proposal. Within a number of weeks I have decided what I need to do, learnt what I need to do and gone ahead and done it. The feedback I've had on my idea has been encouraging and I hope it will be well received. I know I could spend several more weeks worrying about what I've done, tinkering with it and send it after completing some workshops. But in the interest of being bold I will send it in the next couple of days once I am happy the proposal gives a clear outline of the book.

My hope is that the publisher will be interested enough to request some sample chapters. So I will hope for a response in that area for now, anything more would be phenomenal.

Anyway the point I'm getting to is you have to be bold with your writing. You need some level of confidence to keep going otherwise you will give up after the first rejection. So if it is not what this publisher is looking for I will just re-assess it and find a publisher who is looking for my kind of ideas!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Carving out a writing career

When I started this blog I dubbed it with the subtitle - 'Turning writing into more than a hobby.' It has always been my hope that I could turn my writing hobby into more than that. So I'm not entirely sure why I am surprised then when others have started to refer to my 'writing career.'

There is still a sense in me that feels like writing as a career is a pie in the sky dream. I think that sense is finally beginning to wash away. Over the past six months I have learnt so much, my writing has improved and doors have opened for me. I can only hope the next six months offer the same level of opportunities. So as I am beginning to carve out a career in writing I thought it would be good to summarise my top tips for other aspiring writers!

  1. Give yourself something to aim for - Whatever your situation it is good to have a goal in mind. Whether that is a short story every month/week or number of chapters per month. It's a good way to get into the habit of writing and setting goals will keep you more focussed on your work.
  2. Join a writing group - Making contacts within the writing world can be very beneficial. Joining Writing Buddies means I have found out all sorts of information I would not have known otherwise. Even with the benefits of google search engines nothing beats the knowledge of others with personal experience.
  3. Try something new - You may be in the middle of writing a best seller or only ever written poetry but have you tried other styles of writing? There were many aspects of writing I had never considered before starting this blog but have found success in areas of writing I had never previously tried. 
  4. Be open to advice - I have received tremendous advice over the past six months and am trying to take action on all of it. However there may have been times in the past when I have only been focussed on one project and not sought advice when I probably needed it.
  5. If you get stuck, write something else and come back to it later - My mind is always brimming with ideas but like everyone you can dry up on a project. I find the best thing to do in this scenario is try a small project in between. Maybe a competition project which will generally give you guidance on what the subject should be. Once you have done that go back to the other project, hopefully with a fresh outlook on what you were doing.
  6. Never dismiss an idea - I think so far I have never dismissed an idea; I may have evolved it and changed it completely from the original thought but I try not to dismiss ideas as no good. If you do it's a bad habit you need to get out of. Any idea you have can end up contributing to your writing. Try to dismiss thoughts that it's not original. Instead try to work out what your angle is and how that can make it stand out from the crowd.
Hopefully I can add to these over the coming months but for now I need to get back to writing. I hope you will do the same!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

And back to reality!

After the excitement of last week I think I have finally come back down to earth. I think the two days back at work have done it and trying to explain what an anthology is. The great thing about it is the fact my desire to be a writer has been spurred on and it no longer feels unrealistic. It sadly doesn't change the fact I still have a mortgage to pay and am not in a position to give up work completely to concentrate my efforts on writing.

This is the point I realise I need to dig deep and work hard. I worked hard over June and July and thankfully that work had paid off. Now I am on to bigger projects I really need to grit my teeth to make sure I get them done. It feels more real now my name and 'writing career' have been used in the same sentence but I know that will only come if I put the work in.

This is the hard part. This is the part when I feel like I need all my time to do it but don't have the luxury so will have to make do. At least I now have 4 certificates to look at to remind me I'm not the only person who thinks I can write.

The certificates do not yet have a permanent home but will be framed and hung on a wall at some point soon. Somewhere I can go and look at them when I am having an emotional writing fit! As for my £10 winnings I plan on keeping them with the aim of reinvesting it into my writing. If I was ever lucky enough to win further competitions I will go on a weekend course. If not it can pay for a new load of paper when mine runs out!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Anthology results and a Cheshire cat grin!

On Friday the awaited anthology results were out. The Writing Buddies ran an anthology competition to celebrate their first anniversary. There were seven categories in total: Non-fiction article, Non-fiction filler, Short story, Flash fiction, Drama, Poetry: Rhyming and Poetry: Non-Rhyming. I had submitted four entries in three categories.

My main hope for the results was with the non-fiction filler. It was my first attempt at a non-fiction article other than pieces on my own life experience. The non-fiction category was called out first and the judge Simon Whaley was in attendance to hand out the certificates and prizes. Penny Legg (Writing Buddies founder and organiser of the event) announced the winner's and I was delighted to get second place in the filler category.

With that I was very happy to sit and enjoy the rest of the show. The poetry results followed and then the drama category. This had been my fourth entry to the competition and it very nearly didn't get entered as I had struggled to be content with the storyline. After having both my 15 minute plays rejected last week I figured that my first attempts at playwright were indicating I wasn't cut out for it! So I knew my drama piece would not be selected.

So after third and second being called out I was utterly amazed to be selected as first place for my ten minute drama. Today I have read back on this piece and can see how this works and my previous two plays didn't. It certainly shows you can improve with practice and I'm so glad I made the effort to finish this piece.

At this point I was grinning like a Cheshire cat! The next category was flash fiction and I had two entries for this. I had skated through one the night before and dissected it mentally and decided it wasn't good enough and even though it was my favourite it wouldn't be picked. So once again I was absolutely delighted when Penny called my name out in second place. I checked out which of my entries had won and took my seat again and then finally the winner was announced! I was totally astounded when Penny called my name again.
My Cheshire cat grin with Simon Whaley (Non-Fiction Judge)
and Penny Legg (Writing Buddies Founder & Organiser)

Only in my wildest dreams do these kind of things happen so I am still pinching myself now! My hope had been to get a place in one of the categories and gain a place in the anthology. To have won two categories and two second places has amazed me particularly as many of the Writing buddies are firmly established writers and I did not expect to win any categories. It does start to help confirm the notion that I am making the right decision in pursuing my writing dreams.

Straight after the meeting I headed away for a weekend away on the Isle of Wight. I had taken a photo of my certificates and checked it several times to check I hadn't dreamt it (I have very real dreams sometimes. One of the flash fiction pieces 'Guinea Foul' is based on a dream I had!).

It was also a delight to meet Simon Whaley, a full time writer who, along with Penny, was very encouraging. He is also a Writer's Bureau tutor and he has a very useful blog. I'm going to add this to my blog roll (Not bog roll as it sounds like in my accent!) and would recommend looking at Simon's website.

The only problem now is coming off of cloud nine and getting back to the hard work of writing. Over the weekend I wrote up a fairly long list of the projects I need to do over the coming months. Most are started and not yet completed so I need to try and schedule what I am doing to make sure they get done. It now includes the one act play again as I put that to one side but this has given me the confidence to continue this. My first task will be to send a bio and picture to Penny for there publication in the anthology.

The anthology will be available before Christmas this year and the four pieces you can read by me are:

'Permanant Ink' Drama - A ten minute play - 1st place
'Keisha' Flash fiction 100 word story - 1st place
'Guinea Foul' Flash fiction 100 word story - 2nd place
'Can the hashtag bring the writing community closer together?' Non-fiction filler - 2nd place

A big well done to all the other winners and to everyone who took part. I hope everyone has found the experience as encouraging and useful as I have. You can see the complete list of winners on the Writing Buddies website.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Take One, Pass It On

The lovely peeps at Walkers crisps have asked me to blog about a new competition they have running called 'Take One, Pass it on'. This is part of the launch of their Extra Crunchy crisps. The idea is simple; upload a video showing them how you share your Extra Crunchy and they will edit the best ones so it looks like the bag is being passed from one person to the next. Here is Walkers demonstration of what you need to do:

Their are prizes on offer with the person’s video next to Lionel Richie in the random edit winning £1,000! There are also four Sony video cameras for the most creative shares and a free bag of Extra Crunchy for every person that appears in the final video. So well worth spending a few minutes having a bit of fun whilst eating your favourite crisps!

I'm going to have a go next weekend when I'm off for a camping trip with some of my best friends! Hopefully the sun will be shining and it will get our creative juices flowing!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Writing Magazine and Writing News

A couple of days ago I received the first issues of my subscription to the writing magazine and writers' news. After reading in a couple of books that these were invaluable I decided I should think about getting a subscription. Having no spare money I realised it may be some time before I could sign up but then I decided to ask my hubby if he could get me the subscription as my anniversary present. He happily got it for me and it has already turned out to be a very worthwhile present.

I have spent the last few days looking through the magazines including a free supplement and I have been thoroughly impressed with the content and variety. The subscriber only competitions alone make it well worth signing up to the magazines but the tips and articles really are beneficial to any writers, especially those starting out. I will definitely be continuing my subscription after this year. I also plan to spend some time working on some entries for the writing competitions.

That brings me onto the fact that last week was a bit of a wash out for writing and I didn't manage to keep up with my challenge. I am not too worried about that as I see it a little like my slimming world diet; some weeks you lose focus! The trick is to get back to it as soon as possible. So that said I am taking a trip to the library tomorrow to find out some definite details for submitting my book proposal. Then I will spend the rest of the week trying to finish putting it together.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Six month review

As an exercise every two months I review the work I have done. This works as a way of motivating myself and it also turns out I can be amazingly forgetful. Often I have done far more than I care to remember and this just helps gee me along.So over the past two months I have managed to do the following:

  • Read Stephen King's On Writing 
  • Attended two talks for Writers in Southampton (On Non-fiction and performance poetry)
  • Started job hunt for 3-day/week job in field of writing
  • Set up website
  • Article from Shopmobility newsletter used on work website.
  • Read several library books on writing
  • Ran a competition on my blog
  • Completed two further entries for the Writing Buddies Anthology
  • Attended Penny Legg's book launch
  • Created a writing CV
  • Entered a six word story to the Arvon foundation competition
  • Entered some entries to the 21st Birthday Writer's bureau competition
  • Set a 20 week challenge (which I am already behind on), I may extend it to a year of running the blog! We'll have to see what happens!
  • Started one of the large projects (6000 words so far) as part of my challenge. 
  • Had an article accepted by how to books on How to twitter: basics.
  • Given opportunity to blog for Rubber Sole
  • Decided to put together book proposal for how to books so stopped challenge to do that.
  • Had my two plays rejected for famous for fifteen! (Oh well!)
  • Continued to attend Writing Buddies.
  • Subscribed to Writing magazine and Writer's news
Yep I was right I had forgotten I had done half this list and although not all of it is striking goals of my list it is all contributing. So although not every day is spent writing it is generally spent doing something involved with writing. So to sum up where my goals are they look like this:

  • Complete six three small writing tasks ( Less than 3000 words)
  • Complete three two large writing tasks (More than 3000 words)
  • Get two one of them published.

So I now have four months until the end of the year to complete two large writing projects. I definitely struggle with the focus required for larger projects but I am determined to stick to my goals. At present I potentially have three large projects but I will not get all of these finished by the end of the year so I will have to be more specific in my decisions on what to continue. I am glad to see my progress has been good so far and will be interested to see what happens from here.