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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...