Monday, May 31, 2010

Manic May

This month seems to have shot by! I have been pretty manic with two trips up to London, my usual work, lots of socialising with two hen dos for a close friend, film reviews, book reviews, writing projects and then before you know it the month is at an end!

I am presently in the middle of a seven day working week (Boo!) but I can't complain as after Friday I will have a whole week off.  We are heading to Essex for our friend's wedding and then to Kent to stay with my mum for a few days.

I am glad to report that I am also now fully recovered from the shingles I had.  I just had numbness down my right side and I'm glad to report the feeling is all back.

Hopefully over the next month I will get the playwright finished and also tie up a few other smaller projects I have started and just need to tidy up.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Light bulb moments!

All writers must have peak times when they are able to come up with ideas for stories.  We discussed this a few weeks ago at Writing Buddies as to how often staring at a screen will not boost your creativity but often activities  like going for walks or gardening will be the time that ideas pop up.  My ideas often pop up whilst in bed! I often think about ideas before drifting off to sleep and it seems my subconscious allows my dreams to come up with all sorts of things.  Last night was one of those nights and as I was waking from a dream this morning with a fairly imaginative plot I realised with adding a different ending it would make for a great short story or play.  And in my waking moments I also had another idea for a great story.  Just one of those moments where the characters, the story line and even the title just arrive in your head like a lovely surprise present.

I have duly jotted down these ideas and hope to start work on them soon.  I am going to try and be patient as I am a great one for having ideas,starting them but not necessarily finishing them off! It is going to take all my strength to make sure I finish my playwright first, finish the couple of pieces of flash fiction, then write up some short plays before starting this idea.  I know if I plan to approach a novel length story I do need to be far more disciplined in my planning and dedication to the project but I feel more able than ever to take it on.

I wonder if anyone else dreams up some of there plot lines or is it just me?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A novice début.

Glad to report that after some delay my playwright is progressing.  I have just finished sorting through it and finally getting it in order so the scene's are achievable for a one act play.  I now just need to work on some of the dialogue and character's but it is a far more structured piece now that just needs some finishing to achieve what I set out for.

It is my hope that it will be strong enough to be considered and shown at Maskers studio.  Maskers are a amateur dramatic company local to me.  I was a member with them about five years ago (can it really be that long?).  Here I am making my acting début with them in Merry Wives of Windsor some years ago!  I rejoined them at the beginning of the year but have only just managed to go to my first event and start re-connecting with some old friends.  Members who have read fiction work of mine previously have been very supportive and I am sure they will help encourage me with my writing.  Once I have this playwright completed I will get some of the maskers to read through it and hopefully give me an honest opinion of what they think.  With any luck it may be considered for future production at the studio.

If not I do have two opportunities coming up for production of 10-15 minute plays.  Again another format I have never worked in but am willing to have a go and keep my fingers crossed.

As I have this blog I think I will have to format a synopsis of the play to let you all know what it is about so I will add that to my list!  Better make a start on the final changes first though.

Monday, May 24, 2010

My own messy style!

I love hearing how other writer's plan for their writing.  I am always hoping to get tips from those more experienced than myself.  Recently I went to a talk by Peter Lovesey the crime novelist and he explained how he planned all his writing to such a degree it was not necessary to do a second or third edit and each chapter once written was a finished piece.  I really wish I wrote in this way I'm sure it would be far more economical on my time if I took this approach.

This weekend proved to me what a chaotic writer I am.  I tend to write things up with good old pen and paper and just let my ideas gush out.  I then type them up and set to editing them but I find it quite difficult to do this on the computer without being able to flick through other parts.  So I print it out edit by hand, add any extras then make all the alterations on the computer.  It is rather a hectic approach to writing and the main reason why it takes me so long to produce bigger projects.  Although if I'm honest I'm quite happy with the way I go about writing as it works for me.  It is probably the fact I have done no planning for this playwright that has made my approach messy.  So from now on I will certainly be planning my big projects.  But first I'll try and get this one finished.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

FILM REVIEW: She's out of my League

She's out of your league features some great comedy moments from Kirk and his three amigos - Devon, Jack and Stainer.  The unlikely romance between Kirk and the gorgeous Molly is hampered by his slightly deranged ex-girlfriend, and his non-supporting friends and family.

She's out of your league makes for a good light-hearted romantic comedy.  It hits the right notes for both boys and girls and is well worth a watch if only for a certain bathroom scene!  Recommended for anyone wanting a good laugh at the pictures. 4/5

Saturday, May 22, 2010

A fine balance!

Once again my body has been telling me not to over do it!  I have had Sarcoidosis for about 8 years and it mainly effects my eyes but the tablets I have to take have several side effects.  One of which is having a low immune system as I have to take immuno-suppressants.  Over the past few days I have been feeling rather peculiar and so took myself down the doctors.  It turns out I have shingles, although no rash to speak of but my right side is really rather numb which isn't a particularly nice feeling!  It just amazes me how my body has all these different ways of letting me know I'm over-doing it!  So I have slept a lot and am taking five anti-viral tablets a day for a week.  Fortunately I have the weekend to myself and have the opportunity to relax and get myself feeling better.

Hence it is another occasion when no writing has happened but I did manage to finish the paragraph for the guardian competition earlier in week and have just entered that a moment ago.  I am now free of deadlines for a little while so will try and finish 2nd draft of playwright and read another book for review.  At the end of the day though however much this is my dream my health has to come first.  So if I need a kip I'll have one!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Showing not Telling!

It is very easy to doubt yourself as a writer.  I like most other writer's constantly wonder if I am pursuing the right story for the right project.  There are often many ideas floating around in my head but when on paper you suddenly doubt what you started.

Because of my dyslexia I had thought that I might not be able to improve my writing unless I attended a writing course.  I would love to go on a course but total lack of funds would mean this is impossible.  So I have decided to try and teach myself.  Once again I find myself completely lacking in confidence and  full of doubt that I would be able to improve my writing skills myself.  I'm pleased to say it seems I have already been proved wrong.

I am part way through reading Creative Writing (7th Edition) by Adele Ramet and it has already high-lighted to me some key areas where I have been going wrong.  One of the most helpful chapters for me has been about showing not telling.  I looked back on an old story from about 7 years ago and I am definitely telling the story not showing the story.  In more recent short stories I am doing more showing than telling.  It is good to know there has been a transition over time and it also demonstrates where I need to improve.  Before reading this book I hadn't really been able to look at my stories in a constructive manner and wasn't really aware of all my bad habits.  It has reassured me in the sense I know how to move on from here and if I am able to iron out these bad habits I will be able to produce more quality content.

With this new found knowledge I am going to attempt to re-write a first paragraph and enter it into the Orange Fiction competition I mentioned a few days ago.

Hopefully the rest of the book and others will prove just as useful.

Monday, May 17, 2010

FILM REVIEW: The Rebound

On Thursday evening I was lucky enough to attend the press preview screening of The Rebound in Leicester Square.  I have to admit the title had already conjured up a story line in my head and I have to say the storyline was better than expected leaving me with a warm fuzzy feeling.  I figure you can judge if a film is good if you manage to laugh and cry in one sitting.  I did with this film and have to say all the characters were funny including two great performances from the two young children.  The only non-performer is the black dress (above) that features far too heavily over the course of five years!  This is a definite watch for any fans of rom-com who want laughs along with a heart warming story. 4/5

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Orange Fiction: Paragraph Competition with The Guardian

The Guardian are running a great competition for any budding writers.  You need to write the first paragraph (150 words max) of a book with the title of Just Ourselves.

The competition and details can be found here.  The top ten will be short-listed and then Kate Mosse will pick out a winner and two runner's up.  The top prize includes a trip to the Orange Fiction Awards, a hotel stay, the short listed books and a HTC Desire Black Edition phone.  For a bit of guidance last year's winners can be found here.

Entries must be in by the 24th May leaving only 8 more days to enter.  So you'll have to be quick for this great opportunity.  I had a go at writing something yesterday during my lunch hour but think I will use this as an entry to the Writing Buddies anthology instead.  I think I will try and write an opening paragraph for a project I have had in mind for some time and who knows, even if it doesn't win this competition it may encourage me to get more ideas on paper.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

BOOK REVIEW: Mathilda Savitch by Victor Lodato

Mathilda wants to be awful.  She is a rebellious teenager dealing with the death of her elder sister, Helene.  Mathilda wants to shake her parents back to life and find out who was responsible for pushing her sister Helene in front of the train.  In the complicated world of growing up Mathilda sets to cracking her sister’s e-mail and finding out the truth.
This is a wonderful first novel from Victor Lodato especially as Mathilda is such a believable character.  I was very quickly enthralled in this novel and would recommend it.  

Available to pre-order from WHSmith for £7.99

Friday, May 14, 2010

A grand night out!

Today I got back from London and a really fantastic trip. I think Mum thoroughly enjoyed herself as you can tell from this photo.

We had a bit of fun finding the hotel as unknown to me there are 4 Marriott hotels in very close proximity.  We arrived at what I thought was the hotel we were staying out only to be told we had the wrong one (a common mistake apparently).  As we had already arrived at a very fancy hotel we assumed the hotel we were staying at would be a bit smaller but it turned out to be the grandest of all four with a huge entrance.  The first hotel built off of Park Lane and facing Hyde park.  I say all 4 and know this because we did visit all 4, getting directions off another on the way to ours and finally arriving via taxi to the 4th after being told it was a side entrance later that evening.

Despite the struggle to find the hotel and our slight rush to get to the screening after mis-reading the time we had a fantastic time, fitting lots in on the Thursday and having a relaxing day on the Friday.  The Rebound was a great film which Mum and I really enjoyed but I will write a full review of that in the next few days.

Now it is back to earth with a bump! Travelled back by coach (not one of the very expensive cars parked outside the hotel!) and back to work tomorrow for the next seven days.  I now have lots of writing I want to do and quite a few deadlines over the next two months so will be squeezing some in every available minute.  May even have to follow some of the Writing Buddies advice and start getting up at five in the morning! Eeekk!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

5 star life on a 3 star budget?

Okay so I took the brave step of declaring myself as a writer. I have vowed to remain in my low salary job to allow me the time to write but does that mean no fun or frivolity as a result? Well hopefully not whilst entering competitions as well!

I had a phone-call on Tuesday with the great news that I have won preview screening tickets to The Rebound, including a one night stay in a five star hotel and £100 spending money! This is from a competition in Cosmopolitan magazine. This is really fantastic news, I entered knowing I would be off work but never expecting to win. I get to take a guest so my mum is coming with me and it will be a nice chance to see her as she lives in Kent and I am in Southampton.

There is no way I could afford anything like this at the moment. I have just returned from a hen weekend which I had to save up for and do some overtime so that was my one extravagance for the year! So to have this is total luxury. I have to admit this is one of the reasons I love entering competitions. It means on occasions you are presented with opportunities you could never have dreamed of otherwise.

It does mean that I have had to totally rethink my 3 days off. There were going to be writing, writing and writing but I will have to squeeze some in on the coach there and back. I have found out about some exciting projects as well and I will tell you about them next time. So many ideas floating about just need to get them down on paper.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Writers in Southampton

On Thursday night I attended Writers in Southampton for the first time and enjoyed a talk from the crime writer Peter Lovesey. He went through tips for writers and the information was very useful particularly as I have never considered crime writing but would attempt something after listening to Peter. I have joined the group for the year and they have a speaker once a month with two months off. Hopefully this will prove to be helpful as writing remains relatively new to me and it is another good way of meeting other writers in the local area.

Yesturday I also went to another Writing Buddies meeting which again was very useful. There were a couple of new faces and it was nice to meet someone else also fairly new to writing. I had to admit to a fortnight with little writing done but other achievements to report.

Today I am heading off to the big smoke for a close friend's hen do but next week my work hours are such that I can knuckle down to some real writing!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

BOOK REVIEW: The Year of Fog by Michelle Richmond

The Year of Fog by Michelle Richmond

I have to admit to loving a book that has you gripped from the very start.  The Year of Fog does exactly that when a little girl goes missing.  Abby is for the first time fully responsible for her soon to be step-daughter Emma and they take a trip to Ocean Beach.  In a brief lapse of Abby’s concentration Emma has gone missing.  After a lengthy search most speculate she has drowned including Emma’s father Jake but Abby is convinced this isn’t the case.  The story follows the course of Abby’s search and reflections on her own childhood days.
This story certainly is a page turner over the year following the disappearance.  The ending is not without surprise and the exploration of memory and photography is powerful but occasionally interjects too heavily and doesn’t feel a part of the overall story.  Despite this I would definitely recommend this to anyone and particularly fans of the likes of Jodi Picoult.

ISBN-10: 0091928923
ISBN-13: 9780091928926
Publisher: Ebury Press
Published: 1/4/2010

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Two Month Review!

It is hard to believe but it is now two months since I started this blog.  I thought it would be a good time to look back on what I have managed and how these have contributed to the goals I initially set out.

  • Complete six small writing tasks ( Less than 3000 words)
  • Complete three large writing tasks (More than 3000 words)
  • Get two of them published.
These were my goals for the year and I was rather annoyed and frustrated with myself when January and February passed and I had only written up one short story.  So the goal of this blog was to get myself in gear and start moving forward with my goals.  I have squeezed quite a lot in over the two months so here is a summary of what I have done.

  • Won a caption competition
  • 2 Book Reviews
  • Sent the one short story (real life) I had written to Pick Me Up and it was published this week
  • Sent entry to Summer Story Competition in She Magazine (One I had written last year)
  • Entered a short story to NNUK story competition (1000 words)
  • Completed Flash Fiction piece for Bridport Prize and entered (250 words)
  • Worked out how to get a counter on my blog - took me some days and several theories!
  • Attended Erotica Writing Workshop
  • Decided to convert short story into playwright and written 1st rough draft
  • Joined Writing Buddies and attended two meetings
  • Entered One Liner competition to start Nicci French short story
  • Rearranged twitter listings to publishers/writers etc
  • Oh and 38 blogs!
So in terms of my goals I think I can officially cross off:

  • Small writing task - NNUK short story
  • Small writing task - Flash fiction piece
  • Small writing task - Pick Me Up piece
  • Published story in Pick Me Up
So that leaves me with 3 large writing tasks, 3 small and the aim of getting at least one published.  I am glad to say that one large project is well under way and I hope to finish that this month.  I also have at least 3 more book reviews lined up (although I am not completely counting these as tasks just something I am enjoying) and I will be entering some smaller projects into the Writing Buddies anthology and these will count to my smaller tasks.  Absolutely no idea what I will task myself with for the two other larger projects.  I have vague plans but will keep these vague until I have finished the first playwright project.  Also enjoying participating in anything that comes along, trying to create opportunities for myself where I see them and learning lots along the way.  Overall I would say these past couple of months have been my most productive in years and I think I will do a similar review in another couple of months to keep a check on myself.  My best advice to anyone wanting to write more (or do anything more for that matter) is start a blog! It's like a check in centre, you can see how you are getting on and hope there are a few people listening! 

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

All in the name?

I realised over the weekend I have never really explained the title for my blog or my twitter name.  My first name is actually Catherine but in younger days my brother always used to call me Katy.  It was only ever my brother and in all other aspects of life I was called Catherine.  This then got shortened to Cat in my secondary school days.  So at home I was Katy and everywhere else I was Cat.  By the time I left for University Katy had become Katy Little Lady as by that point my 14 year old brother was taller than I was.  So ever since university I have used katylittlelady as my on-line name.  Hence my twitter being @katylittlelady.  So when it came to naming the blog it was a bit of a mix of the two names Katy Little from my nickname and Meow's from the fact my real name is Cat!

The reason I'm talking about this is because a work colleague for sometime has thought my name was Katy and I have never corrected him but I bumped into him the other day.  He called the name Katy out numerous times and I didn't respond once! Opps!  So I guess I'm just saying don't be surprised if I don't respond to anything other than Cat in real life.

It does offer a good pseudonym for the future but I figure it doesn't really mask my identity when I just blogged about it!  I will happily write under both Catherine Miller and Katy Little in the future - here's hoping anyway.

The bank holiday weekend was busy but wonderful and involved no writing whatsoever.  I did get some reading in though and hope to write another book review before the end of the week.  For the rest of today I will be getting through the backlog of my things to do list before heading to work this afternoon.