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.