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21 November 2008


The end is nigh!

I have (give or take a few hours) nine days left before the self-imposed deadline for completion of my first novel. I must stress (as if I haven’t done so already) that this is a first draft and so very far from the end.

But, I am learning so much about the process of writing that if it doesn’t work out for some reason or another, I will have progressed in my life as a writer. I have struggled for years to ‘find’ the time to write, to get the scramble in my brain onto paper and to believe in the characters that have occupied by life. It has been quite cathartic this week particularly as I hit that midway barrier when you suddenly realise what a huge task you have set yourself.

At the beginning of the week I sat in bed, pen poised (my favourite snorkel fountain pen back from the menders) and journal at the ready and thought I couldn’t write a word more. A couple of minutes later, I had flicked back and re-read what I’d last written and 45 minutes later had written six pages! By the end of this week, I had finished the A4 lined book (approximately 250 pages) I use and need to find another to complete the end of the month.

So stop twittering on I hear you say, what have you learnt then?

Well three things…

  1. You never ‘find’ the time - you have to make the time
  2. The scramble in your head may be scramble on paper but at least then you can decode it
  3. Well, I can’t think of the third thing but it must be something important… Oh yes, I know, the love of a good man. My Man Friday has been fantastic, he believed in me, and my characters, so why shouldn’t I?

Sizzling Success Stories

Encouraging responses continue to my queries, pitches and follow-ups.

This week my pitch about the 'puppies in the ditch' sorry tale has been accepted for a dog lovers magazine, our Bertie will be famous before he’s six months old!

We’ve been approached by the Sunday Times in response to a pitch we put in about being an ‘ex-patter’ and have submitted a piece about Christmas. Whether this will be published is much in doubt, but well, you never know.

I’ve submitted my usual upload to Suite 101, this time about the Italian Sculptor Antonia Canova. I have submitted 28 articles to date to this site and it earns me a few dollars now and then.

Finally I’m on my Friday query time and have just pitched seven more queries (hey, I’m on a roll!) but really the law of averages just means that I have to submit more pitches to get one positive response.

On My Bedside Table

Finished the Dark Materials Trilogy, most of it read last Sunday. Fab - although this third book did tend to linger on a bit, I enjoyed the philosophical questions it raised. No wonder the higher echelons of religious faiths are trying to prevent the story from being filmed.

I’m now taking a lighter approach to my reading as I approach the deadline for my novel, I don’t want any ‘stuff’ getting into my head. So I have returned to a favourite author of mine Alexander McCall Smith and his delightful Mme Ramotswe in his novel, ‘In the Company of Cheerful Ladies’.

Speak to you next week - if I’m not in a heap on the floor with no more to give… (don’t ask me where I get the dramatics from; it must be in the genes).

14 November 2008


So What is it This Time?
Well, there is always something you can blame isn’t there? This week we have been picking olives. Our first year and after 13 hours of scaling trees, an eye injury from a springy olive branch and a fall from a pair of very wobbly ladders, we harvested 180kgs of the pesky little fruit and now have 23 litres of oil waiting to be bottled.

So have I written? Damn right, I have. And it feels so good. What, with a new puppy as well, where do I get the time? Well, I have to pay great tribute to my Man Friday who has brought me a glass of orange every morning and then left me in bed to complete my target number of words, while he occupies Bertie, the pup. I am actually finding it difficult to stop writing and I only do because I get hand cramp (I write long hand initially, and then edit as I type into the PC – it seems to work for me). So I am on target… yippee!

I must also give some credit to the NaNoWriMo (National Write a Novel in a Month) competition which I did sign up to but as I was half way through... anyway I have used their target words per day to complete the final manuscript. Maybe next year...

Also, could things get any better I here you asking, I’ve had another successful pitch accepted. Its not paid work, it is for Members News Section in Writers News. But it ticks a lot of boxes…

  • It celebrates success in a kind of showy off kind of way but I picked up the information about the market from the mag, so wanted to thank them
  • Its free marketing for me as a writer, I’ve talked about my novel and plans for another
  • Its free advertising for a virtual writers club I am hoping to set up and so have included that in the piece to see if I can drum up some interest
  • It will hopefully direct people to my website and blog, so more marketing potential

Worth its weight in gold, I’d say…

And I am planning the second novel, based on our move over to La BuonaVita - you can follow the progress at our blog of the same name, where full credit must go to Man Friday for submitting such wonderful and funny pieces. Well I think they are anyway. It shall be a kind of fictional- fact 'flit lit' book (apparently that is a real genre) so there you go.

In terms of submission I have uploaded my weekly article to Suite 101, a short bio about Dostoevsky – what a story that is, quite fascinating, though I have never ever completed ‘Crime and Punishment’.

I have also submitted a short story for a 'Writers News' Competition and am just about to email my weekly. I always do that on a Friday afternoon, call me suspicious, but it seems to elicit positive responses. Maybe it’s because people are looking forward to the weekend.

On My Bedside Table
In the last blog, I forgot to say I’d also read a Judy Picoult best-seller called ‘Second Glance’. It’s a great read, slightly ‘unreal’ but I loved the setting and sense of mysteriousness she managed to paint with her words, I like her style – a clear beginning, middle and end but also with a sense of purpose and satisfaction. I have read a number of her books and love them.

Now I am reading the third Pullman novel ‘The Amber Spyglass’ but with everything else this week, including the eye injury, I’ve not read as much as I’d liked. Anyway, Sunday is reserved for reading so hopefully I will catch up…Well that's it for now, over and out.

7 November 2008


But What Would You Do?
Well as you can see, I haven't been around for a while. The last of our visitors returned back to the cheery land of the UK last week and I've no-one to blame but myself. My parents (who were staying for the last three weeks) are like part of the furniture really and slightly less distracting than grandchildren. My sister, husband and three boys turned up for few days and treated us to a stunning Sunday lunch (so no need for cooking). But...the slow dial up internet speed connection has become more frustrating now we've discovered we can access broadband. Here in Italy things are... well, slower, which is great, but I've waited so long for broadband that I didn't sleep for days when I applied and got a positive response! That was about two weeks ago. And then...another visitor arrived, this time of the canine variety and rather more permenant. Bertie, an Italian Sheepdog, is 6 weeks old and was found in a ditch with his siblings at two days old. They were found by an English couple who hand reared them and now they needed re-homing. How could we resist such a plea? He is absolutely adorable as you can see from the picture and is very supportive of my writing - like chewing the end of my pen when I'm searching for the right word and licking my toes just as the word disappears from my thoughts.

Anyway, I'm now head down for the deadline for the novel which is looming. I have passed the fifty thousand marker and if make 2000 words per day until the 30th then I'm home and dry. Ha! That's when the hard work starts and I start scrubbing out all I've written, but at least I've done it. I must also find an agent. So much to do and so little time...

On My Bedside Table
Mmm, now I know I've read quite a bit, but its remembering what. The Partisans Daughter by
Louis de Bernieres - for me not a patch on Captain Corellis Mandolin, I didn't get the purpose, good story line but... now I'm on the second book of Philip Pullmans' Trilogy, The Subtle Knife, which is fantastic, out of this world and yet believable. I must mention the Italian material I am reading which is recognised as the cream of its genre. Geronimo Stilton is a story about a mouse, namely a mouse who is a writer and editor none the less and has a number of wonderful adventures with other mices (or is that meeces?). He is loved by those aged between 5 and 12 here in Italy but they truly are wonderful for learning the language, understanding verb tenses and improving our vocabulary.