Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Competition time!

As promised now the blog has reached 1000 hits I am running a competition. Reading has to be my number one hobby after writing. Since my writing has increased I have decreased my reading time so I have some brand new books to giveaway. There will be two prizes; the first is Jewel Box and Selina Penaluna (top 2 books in picture) and the second prize is Crystal and Tease (bottom 2 books in picture).

To enter you need to do two things:

1) Follow my blog - you must be following in order for your entry to be valid.
2) Comment below this post and answer this question: Name your favourite book or author and why they are your favourite? Please also include your twitter name in post so I can contact if you win.

  • The closing date for entries 27th August 2010
  • The winners will be picked by
  • Only one entry per person
  • Winners will be announced on the blog so keep your eye out. It will also be announced on twitter.
  • Winner's need to claim there prize within 7 days otherwise it will be drawn again.
  • Prizes will be posted out following the August bank holiday
  • UK only (due to postage costs!)
I think that's all I need to include other than to say GOOD LUCK! Look forward to receiving your entries.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Tying up loose ends

I've had a rather non-productive week in terms of writing work. Not that this is a bad thing as I have been busy with studying and job hunting. I presently have four unfinished projects and I really need to get these finished. Two of these are more urgent as they are due on 30th July.

Life over the past few months has been hectic. I have been enjoying it tremendously and this is only the beginning in my mind. I am very eager to continue expanding and improving my writing. It means creating more time to concentrate on writing and that is why I am searching for a part time job that allows more days at home for me to work. I would love to give up work entirely for a few months but mortgage commitments won't allow it.  Over the past few months I have managed to recognise my writing pattern and the conditions I write best in. I'm sure I have mentioned before but my present (paid) work pattern is 25 hours split into 5 hours each day (Mon-Fri) or a full weekend and Mon & Tues which gives me 3 days off.  It is always on these three days I am most productive. As I only work one or two weekends a month it means these three day events don't happen too often. So I would much rather work roughly the same hours over three days and have at least two days at home by myself to do writing work. So I am having to put some of my time towards solving this situation.  I am also hoping that I can get a job connected to writing or theatre work to compliment my future plans.

I said on twitter that once I had reached 1000 hits on the blog I would run a competition on the blog. I have passed that mark and am planning the competition as I type this and it will hopefully be on the blog next week.  Just need to finish the housework I'm in the middle of (clearly blogging in the middle helps the process!) and make sure I get those two projects completed in time.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Remaining focussed

I have spent quite a lot of time now studying different books on writing.  Whilst the exercise has been useful I have decided to narrow down my reading material somewhat.  As I have a project in mind I was trying to determine the best format to write it up in and I think I have already decided; this exercise was just confirming it.

I still have an underlying fear of putting such focus and attention into one task.  I feel like there is a real risk of it not being quite what I want it to be therefore being a waste of time and energy.  It is important to take that risk though (even if it means not washing, tidying or sleeping for the next few months) and however it turns out will be an achievement.

So I am going to cram as much suitable study in over the next couple of weeks.  Then I have a week's holiday, half of which will be spent with family and the other half will be preparing for the hard slog of work to come.  I am excited and nervous all at the same time; I'm pretty much going to love it!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Studying and the study

I suddenly remembered the other day that a while back I posted a before picture of the mess our study area was in but I never got round to doing an after shot! I have not as you might believe neglected it totally but have managed to get it into a state which could now be described as a study! So to refresh your memory the before shot looked like this:
And it now looks like this:
Quite an improvement I think! I even managed to sort through my whole filing system.  Unfortunately our PC isn't working so well at the moment after a prolonged period of neglect.  I am lucky though as my husband who is a computer whizz will upgrade it all for much less than the price of a new computer.  So I am having to use my laptop on top of the desk for the moment.  Please take note of my very artistic chair I decorated when I was about 16! Every little girl I know who has seen it wants it but as yet I have not given it up.  Will have to go for a more comfy chair at some point though.  The picture was my wedding present to my husband and it is made up of lots of small photos of our lives!

Trying to cram some study in and have so far found it very useful. If any one can suggest any books on writing they have found useful I would love to hear about them.  I kind of realise my own limitations in writing at the moment and am quite merrily studying to improve this.  With my finances in short supply I am finding that Southampton library is the most brilliant resource.  With so much of it being online and computerised now it is so easy to request books and then collect when I have a notification through.  Next up I have some books on writing for TV and radio.  This is to help place a project I have in mind and as yet I am undecided as to which format it will best suited.  Hopefully all this study will help me decide where to go with this idea and when I do start I may be better equipped to tackle the task.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

What kind of writer are you?

One of the first questions asked of a writer is what do you write? The answer "A bit of everything" always seems a little vague. The truth is I don't have one solid answer. If pushed for an answer I would have to say playwright and fiction but the truth is I spend about the same amount of time on other non-fiction projects.

At the moment it's all about finding my feet and despite fiction being more of a passion I find just as much enjoyment in non-fiction pieces. Maybe in the future when I have come to learn the craft  more and where my skills I will have a single answer. Most people asking the question expect you to have a novel already in the bag but as most writer's will know there is never just one idea on the boil.

I have avoided the approach of going straight into writing a novel. I know this works for a lot of people but I need to work on my toolbox skills first (Read Stephen King's On Writing to see what I mean). So instead I am having a go at everything and finding what sits well. Happily opportunities have turned up in unexpected places. After the piece in PMU magazine I was contacted by my local newspaper who wanted to do an interview with my husband and me. They wanted to write the piece themselves but I knew my husband would be reluctant. I did offer to write it for them (although didn't give any credentials) but they wanted to do it themselves so we turned the offer down. It has made me realise that there is enough interest in the story  to make it worth me re-writing it and pitching it to the health arena.

When I set up my website on the weekend I neglected to add that I write up a quarterly newsletter for my shopmobility job. I didn't because I kind of don't count it as part of my writing work as it is just something I have agreed to do as part of my job role. I have decided I will add it to my list of work after finding they had used my newsletter for information on the website.

Not quite in the realms of having an article published but it was good enough for the PR company to use it seems.

Being undecided on what 'kind'of writer I am there are days (like today) when I am entirely undecided on what project to focus on. Generally I don't mind as long as it involves writing.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Some Writing Competitions

It has been a while since I included any writing competitions I have come across.  I try and stick to competitions that don't involve an entry fee.  There are lots of writing competitions about but I try and keep an eye out for the more unusual ones.  There haven't been so many recently but these are the ones I have found.

Writer's Bureau are celebrating their 21st Birthday.  Each month they are running a competition to win one of their courses.  You need to sign up to their e-mail list and then you can enter.  This month the competition is for an Article writing course.  You need to submit the first two lines of an article before 31st July.

Shortbread stories has a competition running for Hometown tales.  You have until 15th September to enter a story and they have a nice prize for the winner.

There is another short story competition running in The Lady.  This also ends on 31st July and the winner will be printed in The Lady.

Hope these may be of use to some of you.  I will have a go at the Writer's Bureau competition but not sure I'll have time for the other 2!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Launch of new website!

I'm excited to announce my new website is up and running!  After following the advice of Writing Buddies I have set it up this weekend. Presently it just has basic information about myself and my published work to date.  This should gradually build up over the next few months as more of my projects are completed and I can add them as I go.

I would love to hear what you think of the website so please e-mail or leave a comment on this post if you have any feedback.  Just follow the link and you will find the website or the address is  I will add a link on the blog as well so you can locate it from blog posts as well.

Off to go and do some more work now for the Writing Buddies Anthology, hope everyone has been having a great weekend and been able to enjoy the sunshine.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Judging and juggling

Received news today the 'Famous for Fifteen' will be judged by Kirrie Wratten who directs on the London Fringe.  The six selected plays will be performed in October this year at the Nuffield studio.  Fingers crossed that all my hard work pays off.

Not too much time to dwell on those (this is fortunate as I'm already mentally picking holes in them!) as I have the entries to complete for the Writing Buddies Anthology and want to get no end of projects completed by the end of August.

I have been dealt a slightly bitter blow today as in my grand scheme I have decided to change to three days a week.  It would be the same hours but would free up more days in my week allowing me to get more writing done.  The job I had planned to apply for has been filled so it brings me back to square one and as it is a decision I have made, a hunt may have to ensue.  I am actually surprised at myself for being so upset at not having the opportunity.  I guess my writing life is moving forward faster than I expected and I now need to fit the rest of my life (the bit that pays the bills) in accordingly.  Until the writing pays the bills that is!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Taking advice

I have spent the last couple of day's reading Stephen King's On Writing. It was recommended by Peter Lovesey during his talk a couple of months back.  Peter has never taken any creative writing courses and his best advice was this book.

It is a great read giving insight not only into King's writing but also his life.  It has really made me think about my own journey, how much I am loving it and how much further I need to go!  There is also the aspect of a bad writer is a bad writer but a competent writer can become a good writer.  I'm just hoping I am the latter.

Last Thursday I attended another talk from Writers in Southampton and this time the talk was from Penny Legg. Penny gave a great talk detailing her work since she turned forty.  I have a lot of admiration for Penny as she is juggling many projects including the release of her new book and the other 4 books she has scheduled to be released over the coming months/year.  This is alongside being the founder of Writing Buddies and finding time to advice others (like myself) who are new to writing.  I haven't even included half of what Penny is up too and she makes me feel decided lazy; as has Stephen King.

The more I write the more I realise I need to write.  Now I have the momentum in place it is not a case of keeping it there; it is a need to increase the momentum even more.

I think I will follow King's advice and go for it whenever writing a first draft.  The second draft can be the one where I sort out all my dyslexic tendencies.  If I worry about it for the first draft it may well stop me writing it.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Four Month Review

Two more months have gone by and it is time to check up and see how far I am getting along with my goals.  This really helps focus my mind and reminds what I have been up to (so easy to forget!).  It has been another busy couple of months and in that time I have managed to do the following.

  • 3 Book Reviews
  • Joined Writers In Southampton and attended three meetings with talks from Peter Lovesey, Deanna Dewey and Penny Legg.
  • 2 Film Reviews
  • Entered first paragraph competition with The Guardian
  • Read Creative Writing by Adele Ramet (Very useful!)
  • Had a bout of shingles!
  • Written about two-thirds of a one act play
  • Cleared the desk upstairs so I have a more permanent work space at home
  • Completed two 15 minute playwrights
  • Completed two pieces of flash fiction
  • Helped test some recipes for My Daddy Cooks cookbook
  • Continued attending Writing Buddies
  • Brought domain name ready to set up website
It is great having this blog to read back on and see what I have been up too over the weeks.  I think I have managed quite a lot what with the hen do's, weddings and illness that have also gone on in-between!  So I started out with these goals and they looked like this after two months:

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

I was slightly concerned as to how I would get three large projects done but coming back to this I have realised I set the mark at 3000 words (I had 5000 in my mind for some reason).  One of the 15 minute plays is over 3000 words so I can count that as one of the three, the one-act play and then my attempt at starting a novel will be the third.

So looking back at these two months I have completed the following goals:
  • Large writing task - 15 minute play
  • Small writing task - 15 minute play
Leaving me with 2 large writing projects (one of which is mostly finished), 2 small writing projects and fingers crossed for at least one getting published. I have decided that I will not continue the book reviews in the same way.  I will still review books once I have read them but only at my leisure not specifically for doing a book review.  It just takes up a bit too much of my time and however much I enjoy reading I need to make sure I have time for everything.  Instead I am studying more creative writing books and finding them very useful.  I have learnt a tremendous amount over the past four months and feel I have lots more to learn as I go along.  I don't think I ever thought for one minute I would get this far in such a short space of time.  I just hope I can keep the momentum up.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

A little jubilation!

I have to report some jubilation as I have finished both my plays for "Famous for Fifteen".  They are now packed up in envelopes and sat on my desk ready to be posted tomorrow.  It is the first time for some while that I have handed in something in printed format rather than electronically by e-mail.  It feels quite nerve-racking as sending out brown envelopes can often be followed by rejection but hopefully that isn't the case on this occasion.  I'm not sure how long it will be until I know if either of my entries have been selected but the performances are scheduled in October.  They are being selected and judged prior to the show and the overall winner (based on script alone) will be announced on the night.  There is also an audience vote for best performance.  I just really hope that one of mine gets selected as one of the six to be performed as I would be really chuffed to see the ideas that have been in my head acted out.  

Now I have some time to concentrate on my Writing Buddies Anthology entries and my submission for Arthritis Care creative writing.  I also plan to pitch to a couple of magazines in the hope I may be able to do some articles and complete the one act play I am about two-thirds of the way through.

I expect the next month to be a little more relaxed but this is partly because I plan to do some study and preparation this month with the hope of starting a novel.  I know this is a big undertaking and I'm not sure I am completely ready for it yet but feel I have a great support network around me now who will all help me through it.  

Friday, July 2, 2010

The excitement of writing!

I have always enjoyed writing but I think at some point in the past I may have lost my enthusiasm for it.  It is very easy to be critical of your own work and then any rejection on top of this can soon flatten that enthusiasm.

This happened to me when at 21 I sent off some work and it quickly got rejected.  At the time I felt I had put a lot of time and effort into that work and it instantly made me feel as if writing was potentially a waste of time. 

There were several problems with this.  At the time I thought what I had done was wonderful.  The truth was it wasn't awful but it wasn't wonderful either.  I also didn't have a clue.  Looking up addresses in the Writer's and Artist's yearbook doesn't really cut it as research. 

Back then I regarded myself as someone who wrote but was not a writer.  These days I regard myself as a writer and have regained the enthusiasm that I lost.  If I was to pinpoint what has changed I would have to say it is my mind set.  I no longer dismiss any of my ideas thinking they are too weak, I no longer regard writing as a low priority and I do not feel discouraged by my dyslexic tendencies because I know I can sort them out in the edit (Apart from this blog where you''ll just have to forgive me).  Once you start to making writing a priority it becomes much easier and the more I do the more exciting it feels.

My husband has also been really good and started setting up a website for me.  I will set it up as an online CV and this blog will be linked to it.  I have to say a big thank you to him for doing this.  Partly because he said he would read up and check if I mentioned it but also because I really mean it.  I'm very lucky to have such a supportive husband!

I am very pleased to report I have finished both of my fifteen minute plays to enter into the Famous for Fifteen.  I just need to read through and edit the second one before sending them off next week.

I think part of the excitement of writing is just doing what I love.  So if you have felt down trodden about it then try and find what you loved about it in the first place.  Try lots of different projects and you may find you are able to write in areas you never even considered.