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Thursday, December 29, 2011

My 2012 reads

I've created this blog post to keep track of the books I read over the coming year. I've no idea how many I read in a year. I guess around 75 so it will be interesting to see how many I get through!

Currently reading: A Creative Writing Handbook edited by Derek Neale & Belle by Lesley Pearse

Read:

1) Happily Ever After by Harriet Evans
2) Glasshopper by Isabel Ashdown
3) The Jewels of Manhattan by Carmen Reid 
4) Monday to Friday Man by Alice Peterson 
5) Summer Loving by Allie Spencer 
6) Never Coming Home by Evonne Wareham 
7) The Dark Portal by Robin Jarvis
8) The Crystal Prison by Robin Jarvis
9) The Final Reckoning by Robin Jarvis
10) Disreputable (Contemporary Poetry) by Jane Holland 
11) A Single to Rome by Sarah Duncan 
12) A Perfect Proposal by Katie Fforde 
13) Recipe for Love by Katie Fforde 
14) The Brightest Star in the Sky by Marian Keyes 
15) The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino 
16) Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn 
17)  My Sister Lives On The Mantelpiece by Annabel Pitcher 
18) Trade Winds by Christina Courtenay 
19) All That Mullerkey by Sue Moorcroft
20) The Desperate Bride's Diet Club by Alison Sherlock 
21) The Silent Touch of Shadows by Christina Courtenay 
22) The Somnambulist by Essie Fox 
23) Cox by Kate Lace
24) Vampire State of Mind by Jane Lovering
25) One Day by David Nicholls
26) Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro 
27) blueeyedboy by Joanne Harris
28) Room by Emma Donoghue
29) Blowing It by Judy Astley 
30) The Complete Guide to Wallpapering by David Groff 
31) The Vintage Teacup Club by Vanessa Greene 
32) The Girl in The Polka Dot Dress by Beryl Bainbridge
33) I have waited, and you have come by Martine McDonagh 
34) The UnTied Kingdom by Kate Johnson
35) Living Dangerously by Katie Fforde 
36) The Orphan Child by Catherine King




Key:
Red - Books I've received - Reviews/Won
Purple - Books I've received - Gifts
Blue - Kindle
Green - Books I've brought
Orange - Library Loans

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

My 2012 goals!

In the past year I have learned many things, but my one takeaway lesson is: focus. To be a serious writer you need to keep your eyes on the prize at all times, even on the days it feels like it's a million miles away.

For that reason I've trimmed my goals down this year to focus on becoming a novelist. Last year I had the Big List of Things To Do in 2011 and whilst I completed (almost) all of them I realised that attempting to get smaller projects published at this point acted as a distraction (for me personally) from my main goals. Doing small projects has been good to help build up my writing CV.  Now I need to move on to concentrate on larger projects.

  • ·         Complete re-write of Miles Between Us
  • ·         Send off to NWS
  • ·         Complete first draft of second novel
  • ·         Send Miles Between Us to agents/publishers
Four tasks for this year, which compared to my previous 'big list' seems positively miniscule. In terms of volume you're talking of about 200,000 words, so small list, but no small tasks.

I'm sure there will be tears and laughter on the way... and perhaps the occasional chocolate bar. I hope you'll join me on the journey.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Big List of Things to Do 2011 - How did I get on?

Where did 2011 go then? Surely it can't be the end of another year? I'm so glad I write down what I've been up to otherwise I wouldn't believe another year has passed by so quickly.

At the beginning of the year I set out a list of things to do. Ignoring the weight loss section, it has gone very well and I'm really pleased with what I've achieved in 2011. Here's how the writing section shaped up:

Complete first draft of ‘The Shortlist - It's no longer called 'The Shortlist', but the first draft was completed for The Festival of Writing back in March.
Complete second draft of ‘The Shortlist - A rewrite was completed for submission into RNA NWS
Complete final draft of ‘The Shortlist’ - I've crossed this one off on my list, but it wasn't the final draft. I'm now working on re-writing with my NWS report in hand.
Send ‘The Shortlist’ to agents/publishers - Ah, no. I haven't done this, but I did send to the NWS so it almost counts. I'll work more on this one next year.
Complete final draft of ‘The White China at Rose Cottage - I have finished this piece of work.
Enter ‘The White China at Rose Cottage’ into some competitions - I sent this in with an application for a Drama Writing course. Not expecting to hear anything back, but I can at least cross it off the list.
Get 10 writing ‘hits’
o   Number One - A short story, In A Jiffy, published in 100 stories for Queensland
o   Number Two - Longlisted - Flash 500, First Quarter 2011
o   Number Three - Beauty Tip - Prima Magazine
o   Number Four - Wise Words - Prima Magazine
o   Number Five - Shortlisted - Flash Fiction - Brighton Digital Festival
o   Number Six - Festival of Romance Tickets
o   Number Seven - Wise Words - Prima Magazine
o   Number Eight - Harriet Evans Book
o   Number Nine - Gift Voucher
o   Number Ten

As mentioned in my goals post at the end of last year, I wanted to gain 10 hits. This meant work that was paid rather than just published. I changed my tact with this about half way through the year. Completing smaller projects was taking me away from my ultimate goal of novel writing. So I've included some competitions that involved writing as part of my hits and I'm only one short so not bad. I had other pieces published, which were unpaid so this isn't a complete list for the year.
Top 3 achievements for 2011

I've taken a picture of what I feel have been my top three achievements for the year. My short story contribution to 100 stories for Queensland and the Wordfall Anthology where I had 4 pieces published. I never thought in a million years I'd be in two books in 2011. The magazine in the picture is Romance Matters, the magazine for the Romantic Novelists' Association. I wrote a piece about the New Writers' Scheme thinking I would use it as a blog piece, but sent it in and it was included in the magazine. I was very excited to be included and I'm sure I will treasure my copy for years to come.

Overall, I'm really happy with how the year has gone. I've been able to change my work hours and have been able to dedicate more hours to writing. I still have a long way to go, but this year with the support of the New Writers' Scheme I feel it's all heading in the right direction.

Now that leaves me with the task of wishing you all A Happy Christmas. If you've read this far, it's only fair you should be allowed to see me dressed up as an elf with Mr Katylittlelady.
Have a great Christmas!


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Wish I Was Here... Reaching for the Stars Launch Day

Today, Janice Horton launches her new book, Reaching for the Stars. When Janice invited people to join her 'Wish I was here' theme, it seemed like the perfect way to spend a dull December day.

In ‘Reaching for the Stars’ the main character Chef Finn McDuff feels he's had enough of all the food campaigns, the TV cookery shows, the constant frenzy surrounding his private life and disappears into a self-imposed exile for a while. Hence the theme of Launch Day is 'Wish I Was Here...'

My Wish I Was Here... A private beach in Malaysia
These photos are from my honeymoon. We spent four months travelling and these photos are from Merang beach in Malaysia. It's not meant to be private, but at the time we were the only guests there. Always wanted my own private beach...

Ah, back to the grey December weather, but if you need a pick me up, it sounds like Reaching for the Stars will do the job.


Visit Janice's blog here to find out more:  http://janicehortonwriter.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Setting Goals for 2012

Whilst most people are getting excited about Christmas, it's around this time that I start getting excited about setting goals for next year. Sad, I know, but they really help me focus my writing efforts over the coming year.

I have set goals for the past two years. The first year focused on increasing the amount I was writing, the second concentrated on 'hits' or paid writing opportunities. Over those two years I achieved more with my writing than in the previous ten years, and it's thanks to those goals.

This year my goals will be aimed at improving my novel, starting a second and moving towards novel publication. Before the end of December I will review how the year has progressed and set out my goals for the next. Far more exciting than putting the tinsel up!

Do you set goals? If you do, how do you stick to them? What are your goals for 2012?

Friday, December 9, 2011

My Worst English Lesson...


The worst English lesson I ever received in secondary school was my English teacher telling me to not put random words in my stories. Or more specifically, not to look up words in the dictionary and try to put them into my work.

At the time I said something along the lines of, 'Okay.'

What I really should have said is, 'I'll use whatever words I bloody well please, you just teach me if I'm doing it right...'

I'm disgruntled for two reasons:

1) My teacher only knew I liked to look through the dictionary to find interesting words because he'd seen me doing it whilst telling my friends that I did.

2) Because the word I used on that particular piece of work was, Myriad. When we had our one-to-one little sit down chat, rather than explaining how I should use the word, he just told me to stop looking words up.

It's only now I am older (and possible wiser) I realise this was TERRIBLE advice. I never questioned the teacher if he knew which word I'd boldly plucked out the dictionary and plonked in my story (I think that's how he saw it.) I now know I used the work Myriad in context, but with a superfluous adjective. That lesson would have been far more useful.

There is a part of me that is annoyed because I was never encouraged with writing in my younger days. Largely, I believe, down to my dyslexia and the assumption that I didn’t understand.

But I've never let other people's assumptions stop me. Which is why I’ve brought this...


 The biggest dictionary money can by and with it, I would like to say:

Ha Boo Sucks to that lesson!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Changes...

The blog is going to be quiet for a while whilst I'm making headway on the changes to my manuscript, Miles Between Us. It's started off well and I'm hoping to get near to halfway by Christmas. I'm making some major changes to some of my main characters as per the advice of my New Writers' Scheme report. I already know it will be worth it from a learning POV. So for now, a couple of songs about change. If you catch me slacking feel free to tell me Santa won't visit...

Friday, November 25, 2011

Find Out Friday Interview

Today there's an interview with me over on Laura E. James' website. I met  Laura at the Festival of Romance and we're now firm friends. To find out more about my dyslexia, growing up, my eye condition, physio and my decision to become a writer head on over there... it was fun answering the questions so hope you enjoy.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A week in pictures: The RNA Winter Party & Wordfall Book Launch

Last week was the most busy and fun-filled one I've had for a while. Not only did it involve the RNA Winter Party it was followed by the Wordfall Book Launch.

Oh, dear! It seems I've failed in my ability to use technology. Having a snazzy iPhone I thought it would do the job but it was selecting flash and making it look like we were drinking at sunset. So I trusted Talli to take some fab shots and she did so check them out on Talli's blog and the RNA blog.

Here's Anita Chapman, Sue Fortin, Me, Liz Harris, Jan Brigden and Liz Crump. We're all members of the Romantic Novelists' Association New Writers' Scheme apart from Liz Harris who has just graduated to full member status after signing a contract with Choc Lit. An excellent reason to celebrate!

This time I made a point of speaking to some of my favourite writers. Here I am with Carole Matthews and I managed to chat to Katie Fforde and Judy Astley. I gushed a bit with enthusiasm. I hope it wasn't too obvious but I wasn't exactly cool. It's only now I've returned and seen the photos I realise they must have recognised my maniac status just by the look in my eyes!
Sue's not asleep - honest!
It was only by the time I was slightly worse for wear and at the after party I managed to work out how to use my camera. Vanessa Savage, Sue Fortin, Debbie White, Laura E James and myself stayed at Ramada Hyde Park together. It was a lovely place to stay and the bar seemed to cope well with our laughter, antics and desire for cheese and onion crisps. It made for a fantastic rounding off to a wonderful evening.
The book launch for Wordfall was the day after I returned. Here are some of the winners with editor and organiser, Penny Legg, the publisher, Tessa Lorent, and the Mayor and Mayoress of Southampton.
I really need to work on my reactions. The Mayor asked who wrote, 'Permanent Ink?' It's my ten-minute drama that won first place and you may be able to tell from my expression - I was a little shocked the Mayor had read it and told me it was excellent and would love to see it produced.
After signing the Mayor's copy of Wordfall. The first picture all week where I have a sensible smile, non-maniac eyes and my jaw's back where it should be. Why can't I manage that in every photo?
With such a busy week it is only right that I spend this week recovering with tea and writing. I'm not used to so much excitement in such a short space of time. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Remission

So many wonderful things have happened in the past week I really should be blogging about them. But then one single word outdone them all... Remission. What a beautiful word it is. How wonderful it is to hear.

Remission from what you may wonder? The eye condition I mention in my bio on the right.

I've had Uveitis (inflammation of the eye) since the age of seventeen. As it's been with me my whole adult life it's something I've come to accept. The daily tablets I take stop me from losing my sight and I've become accustomed to what I call my jellyfish.
An example of Uveitis
My eye condition flared up again at 21 and with investigations it was diagnosed as being caused by Sarcoidosis. It was an illness that often burns out after a few years but those years came and went with my condition being no better.
My eye during a flare-up in 2008
So I live each day, taking the pills, feeding the jellyfish, keeping them from getting to the point of clouding my vision. But, recently they seem to have given up swimming. I still have floaters in my eyes but they haven't troubled me in the same way I'm used to.

Today my consultant, Mr Nigel Hall, told me my eyes are in remission. It has just become my favourite word.  One I never thought I would hear. One that means so much. One that I thought I should share.

I hope everyone with an illness gets to hear it, at least once.

Stay well my lovelies xxx

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Wordfall Anthology: Book Launch & Radio Interview

September 10th last year was my most tremendous day of 2010. I guess picking your favourite day in a year is a bit like selecting your favourite child. You probably shouldn't for fear of offending all the other days but I had three really good (I'd go as far as life-changing) reasons to mark it out against the others.

The first reason makes it a good day annually. It's my Nan and Grandad's wedding anniversary and last year they celebrated their 61st anniversary. They have been tremendously supportive throughout my life and I am for ever grateful to them.

Second my husband received a phonecall with the good news he'd been successful in a job interview.

With that news, I headed to the Writing Buddies Meeting for the anthology results. The competition covered seven categories and was held in July. I went to results meeting nervous and absolutely convinced I wouldn't win anything. You can read how the event went on the blog post I wrote last year: The Anthology Results and a Cheshire cat grin!

I was astonished to find all four pieces gained either a 1st or 2nd place in their categories. In that blog post one sentence rings true to that whole day:

It does start to help confirm the notion that I am making the right decision in pursuing my writing dreams.

Until that day all I knew was I loved to write. Being told I was good made me think... Oh, maybe I really can do this.  It gave me the confidence to find a year later, I've written my first novel.

This Saturday 19th November is the book launch for Wordfall, the 2010 Anthology, Southampton Writing Buddies. It's taking place at Waterstones, Above Bar, Southampton from 5:30 to 6:30pm. You are welcome to come along.




It's turning out to be a bigger occasion than I ever imagined with the Major and Majoress of Southampton attending. The 12 winners (myself included) have been interviewed for BBC Radio Solent and have been on air today.


I thought I'd share a little about the pieces I have in there and the judge's comments:


Permanent Ink: Winner, 10 minute drama


Two sisters argue over getting a name tattooed. Megan is all for it and about to get it done whilst Heidi is trying to talk her out of it.

Judge's comment: This is an interesting piece with a fun twist in the tail. An excellent piece.

Keisha: Winner, Flash Fiction


A harrowing piece when the worst happens at Keisha's workplace.

Judge's comment: A brief, sad tale that evokes sympathy for Keisha, not least because she's been through this trauma before.

Guinea Foul: Second place, Flash Fiction


When guinea pigs meet foul play, thinks get messy between neighbours.

Judge's comment: An amusing piece.

Can the hashtag bring the writing community closer together? Second place, Non-Fiction Filler


A year later and this article is still current. Keeping check on the latest hashtags helps bring writers, readers and publishers closer together.

Judge's comment: This reminded us that in this electronic age we should all be twittering. We may not like it but publishers are certainly expecting us to do more of it.

If you do read any, I hope you enjoy and would love to see you at the launch but if you can't make that I will add my d├ębut radio interview below when it becomes available. Cringe.
 
Radio Interview is here: Scroll to 1:40 into the programme and you'll hear me!

Liebster Blog Award

Yesterday, whilst in the middle of re-writing chapter one, I received lovely news from Lucie Wheeler, swiftly followed by Liz Crump. Both have awarded my blog with a Liebster Award!


Here's what they said:

Lucie: I was awarded a blog award recently and I have been asked to forward it onto five blogs that I enjoy to read. I picked yours because I think you are so determined and hardworking and it is a real 'lift' to read your posts and follow your journey. 

Liz:  Aha! Great minds think alike Lucie! I also gave you the Liebster blog award for your interesting blog which is always on my list of blogs to catch up with :)

Accordingly, we've had a group hug on twitter. Both Lucie and Liz are on the RNA's New Writers' Scheme with me. We met on twitter whilst we were waiting to find out if we'd got in and I know I have some life-long pals. We met for the first time at the RNA Summer Party and I'm sure we'll be meeting regularly in the future and I look forward to celebrating when we all make it to full membership! Thank you to both you wonderful, supportive girls!

BTW - Liebster is a German word for 'my love' or 'dearest' so a blog award for blogs that you love! And in the tradition of the award I must do the following:

- Thank the person who gave them the award and link back to that person's blog
- Copy and paste the award to their blog
- Reveal the 5 blogs they have chosen to award, commenting on their blog to break the news!
- Hope those people in turn pay it forward by accepting and awarding "The Liebster Blog Award" to bloggers they would like to honour


Laura E James - Laura is also a member of the NWS. We met over the waves of twitter and her sense of humour always makes me laugh. She's started a regular Find Out Friday slot on her blog.
Sue Fortin (Love Reading Love Books) - Sue's blog features book reviews and author interviews. Another tweeter and NWS member.
Rachel Lyndhurst - Her latest blog makes this a good reason to follow. Plus all the photos she features!
Jane Holland (Raw Light) - Jane Holland/Victoria Lamb - She's a lady of many guises, each of them with more talent than should be humanly possible.

Four great blogs to follow but I've just realised I'm hitting on a theme. Tomorrow I'll be in a bar with all four of these wonders. So to prove my choices aren't being swayed by the fact I'm being let out for the day, my last award goes to:

Imram Writes (Flickimp) - His blogging efforts about his writing journey always remind me of my own enthusiasm. 

These are some of my favourite go-to blogs and if you're not following them, I strongly recommend that you do!
Off to go and start beautifying for the RNA Winter Party now. Yes, before you ask, it will take more than twenty-four hours for such a feat.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Time for a new counter - the re-writes begin!

Time to reset the counter for Miles Between Us back to 0 and you should find it to the right of this post. (At least you will if this post in still at the top of the blog.) It will creap gradually back up to 90,000 so you can see how I'm progressing with re-writes.

I'm not sure at this point how long it will take. Longer than I'd like, mainly because I feel a bit like I'm dealing with a tangled mess. I've changed the storyline more than once and to get it right, I feel another change coming on to improve the characterisation. At present, if I get complete before my birthday in March I'll be happy. I'd like it done much sooner but it took longer than expected last time so I'm trying to be realistic with myself. I know it will depend on how many changes I make but at the moment I'm going in for a penny in for a pound.

I've caught myself referring to this as my practice novel and whilst, yes, it has been, it is also more than I ever believed I could achieve. So why not dream bigger and work harder? Considering that's what I'm best at I've decided I need to no longer see this as practice. Believe it's the real thing and you never know, it might just happen. I seriously want to add an, 'on the other hand, if it doesn't,' comment here. But that's against the ethos of what I just said. So let's get on with those words and hope one day they get to do the speaking for me.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Learning from my mistakes: Quick, quick, slow...

Nearly a decade ago I made my first serious attempt at novel writing. I remember the first chapter set the scene and in the second I managed to reveal the rest of the plot. Oops. 

It's been a trait I recognise in myself. Always too eager to get to the punchline. 

In that example, I realised what I'd done and did my best to remedy the problem.

These days I like to think I'm more aware of pace and it was one of the areas my reader complimented along with timescale. They commented the ending was a bit rushed but I was aware of this in my attempts to get it in on time. 

So, why am I including this as one of my mistakes? Well, after reading some of the recommended authors I realise I'm still going too quickly. In the second edit I removed quite a lot in terms of word count thinking I needed to up the pace. But in reading other pieces, it is obvious that if you have the levels of tension right, it will keep the reader interested. 

In this re-write I'll be reinstating some of those sections but ensuring the tension and pace are present. One day I'll get it just right!

Friday, November 4, 2011

BOOK REVIEW: Highland Storms by Christina Courtenay

Highland Storms is another triumph from author, Christina Courtenay. A follow on from Trade Winds but a complete stand alone novel. It follows the journey of Brice Kinross who's been betrayed by his brother and his own bride and is only too pleased to leave Sweden to take over the family estate in Scotland...

Betrayed by his brother and his childhood love, Brice Kinross needs a fresh start. So he welcomes the opportunity to leave Sweden for the Scottish Highlands to take over the family estate.
But there’s trouble afoot at Rosyth in 1754 and Brice finds himself unwelcome. The estate is in ruin and money is disappearing.  He discovers an ally in Marsaili Buchanan, the beautiful redheaded housekeeper, but can he trust her?
Marsaili is determined to build a good life. She works hard at being housekeeper and harder still at avoiding men who want to take advantage of her.  But she’s irresistibly drawn to the new clan chief, even though he’s made it plain he doesn’t want to be shackled to anyone.
And the young laird has more than romance on his mind. His investigations are stirring up an enemy.  Someone who will stop at nothing to get what he wants – including Marsaili – even if that means destroying Brice’s life forever …

I love Christina's style and this book won't disappointment. The tale heightens to ever increasing danger for those involved and you'll find you won't be able to put the book down.

As part of Christina's blog tour I promised I would add my version of Brice. I have to say as heroes go, he really didn't disappoint. I think how I imagined him may have something to do with recently watching Crazy, Stupid, Love and discovering Ryan Gosling's six-pack so here's how I imagined Brice:

Okay, so it's a really bad, DIY job. But if I was going to cast Brice it would be Ryan Gosling with long hair!

And following on from Christina's blog tour one lucky winner gets to enjoy a copy of Highland Storms.

The winner is: @aesop57 who chose Hugh Grant as their hero!

Congratulations to them and for a winter pick-me-up, Highland Storms is just the ticket!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Learning from my mistakes: The Earthquake Plot

It's been eight weeks since I received my NWS report on my manuscript. Rather than ploughing straight back in to re-writes I decided to take some time to digest the feedback I've received.

I wanted to spend about six weeks away from this WIP to give me some distance and hopefully more objectivity. My report came back very quickly, which was great. It meant I took my break but with specific areas to work on. I've read up on this subjects, studied suggested authors and am returning to my WIP with a knowledge of where I went wrong and the hope I will be able to learn from these mistakes.

As part of this process (and in writing this blog) I'm beginning to realise I'm quite a visual person. I seem to understand things much better if I can visualise the problem. One of my mistakes was what I have dubbed creating 'The Earthquake Plot.'


In my report the reader said - 'the story relied on external events.'

It may sound silly, but I hadn't even realised. When I was blindly writing just to get to the point it was done, I knew I needed pace so events occurred to inject pace - right? Wrong. Yes, it injected pace but it didn't endear the reader to the story and it was covering up more systemic issues.

Those systemic (though not terminal) issues related to characterisation. When I started out I thought I would be able to make it up as I went along. I didn't push myself to create the characters at the beginning, thinking they would carve themselves out as the story unfolded. But they didn't. Not completely and despite finishing the story, the characters did not come out as the well-rounded people they should have become.

At first I wasn't sure why having external events was a problem in the sense that, as they happen in real life, why not in fiction? This is how I've come to understand why it doesn't work:

Earthquake. Earthquake. Earthquake. Earthquake. Earthquake. Earthquake. Earthquake. Earthquake. Earthquake. Earthquake.

You go to see the movie called Earthquake. You expect there will be said earthquake in movie. The whole movie is just a series of earthquakes. Hmm... no story in that. More of a documentary without the Attenborough voiceover.

Earthquake. Characters react to earthquake. Make decisions about their present situation based on experience from their past. 

A much better film. Okay, there is still an external event at the beginning but the story lies in how the characters react.

Using this rather silly example has made me realise the difference between internal and external story. For characterisation to be successful, the story needs to come from within character. Otherwise it's just a series of events.

I'm glad to say my WIP isn't all earthquakes but I now know what the reader meant by external events and how that affects story. Characterisation and re-plotting in progress and re-write to commence this week.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Comparing Voices & Finding Your Own...

Voice is an important element of writing. It's an indication of your signature style and you hope it will bring readers coming back again and again.


It's the kind of item you can't locate with a sat nav. It would be fantastic if you could, but in my opinion, it's not meant to be easy so it won't ever appear overnight. Voice comes from within, it's your history, it's your personality and you have to be able to harness them so it shows in your writing.

Having said that it makes me realise that voice is the part that makes writing so gut-wrenching. It is the part that can make it so personal. You are putting yourself out there for plaudits or criticism.

So to find voice we need courage. We have to believe our voice is strong enough to be heard in an ever competitive market and not be downhearted when writing is rejected.

My reader's report from the RNA's New Writer's Scheme told me my genre was more within woman's fiction and she gave me four authors as suggested reading. When I read, I often switch genres and never tend to read two from the same genre in a row. I decided to read all four suggested authors back to back. It proved to be an interesting exercise and the books were:

Kissing Mr Wrong by Sarah Duncan
Going Dutch by Katie Fforde
The Beach Hut by Veronica Henry
Promises, Promises by Erica James

Four brilliant novels, each very different. In each there were obvious differences: POV, chapter lengths, number of characters, reasons for conflict... I could continue but essentially, despite all being in the same genre, they are all unique novels. It's the clearly developed voice's of these authors that make their work unique.

So how we approach the story, how we structure the story are all part and parcel of our voice and style. But there's more to it than that...

Fashion and style go hand in hand. To be fashionable, you have to have style. The same with writing and voice. To be a good writer, you have to have voice. But it's all very well owning the next biggest thing in fashion, (we'll say a silver foil coat X factor style) but what use is it if you leave it hanging in the wardrobe?

No use... because no one will know you're the next style leader in the fashion world. So - you take it out of the wardrobe, wear it into town but you're kind of embarrassed. You figure you look like a Christmas turkey. In order not to attract too much attention, you keep your shoulders hunched, cover it up as much as possible, hide in the shadows. You've got your big shiny, ahead-of-the-times coat on but only the bus driver notices. Well, that's no good. What you really need to do to get your coat noticed is to wear it with pride. Accessorise it to make it look its best, go places where it will be seen, where heads will turn and where you will also be noticed.

I should probably be shot for comparing voice to a silver coat. Especially in a blog post where I have mentioned such fantastic authors, but it's my way of understanding voice. I think we all have one, but if it's stuck inside (your wardrobe) doing nothing then you need to take it out, accessorise in a way only you can to express yourself in the best way possible. You also need to have the confidence not to worry about people laughing at your coat. Time to find out who you are, what you have to say, then strut your stuff, hold your head high and never look back - even if someone is remarking at your appalling taste in bacofoil.