31 December 2009
Happy New Year
My last blog of the year is going to be a short one. I've had a week away writing which has been incredibly difficult. I've spent the time reading, clearing out cupboards, my desk, email folders and generally slouching about completing crosswords and sudoku puzzles. But I'm feeling refreshed and now ready to hit the New Year rocking and even more determined than ever.
One small thing I have done is publish my 100th article on Suite 101. I wanted to get that particular target accomplished before the advent of 2010, so check it out. Its my favourite vegetarian recipe, Mixed Nut Roast and I'm a committed meat eater!
See you next year!
23 December 2009
21 December 2009
Flash Fiction or Novel
It doesn't matter how long a piece is, every word counts. I've just been responding to our latest Writers Challenge with my friends on Writers Abroad. This time we have been given the first line and a word count of 250 words. I can't tell you how difficult I found it and I'm used to writing short. But it made me realise how I waffle on, sometimes, say the same thing but use different words, so each and every word of those 250 had to say something. I tried, not sure I pulled it off, but wait with anticipation.
Three Cheers for!
Well, I didn't make it last week. Its been strange, since I completed my target on my novel, I've sort of just drifted about. I'm usually very organised and I've still planned my days but haven;t really maintained the momentum to keep going. I don;t know what it is. My Man Friday, says not to be so hard on myself, that I deserve a break. Maybe he's right. So after tidying a few things up I'm going to switch off for a while, enjoy the peace and quiet which will descend as everyone stuffs themselves silly, sit and read and read and watch TV and have some time out. A change is as good as a rest so they say. Will do all the good wishy kind of stuff later.
Check out my two latest articles on Suite 101 (99 so far, want to reach 100 before 2010 appears) . One on Finishing Your Novel (this is kind of post NaNoWriMo) and one on setting up a Ning Social Network for writers Groups.
19 December 2009
16 December 2009
Having just received a yummy order from Amazon, I'm looking forward to the dark, cold days of Christmas - yes, changed my tune since Monday. But I haven't changed how I feel about it. When you live abroad you value the written word in your mother tongue even more. I do love the Italian language - oh if only I could speak it better, but it is quite an effort to read, listen and converse in a language that does not come naturally. So I have a mixture of new reading material, because I like to experiment with different styles. So I have a Ken Follett (never read any of his), Santa Montefiore and the first of Stephenie Myers' Twilight Saga. With those and a shelf full still to read I am feeling a sense of peace descending. By the way, I stumbled across another book selling site that may be an alternative to Amazon. The Book Depositary - I've tried to do a comparison, but its difficult, they don't charge for delivery but obviously add some cost to the book. Check it out...
It's amazing that Will and Sal survive the journey which takes almost 9 months and during this time Will's second son is born. Once in Australia, they wonder what they have exchanged their life (and the loss of Will's life) for. The majority of the story takes place here in Australia and displays the desire of man to measure success by the amount of land he owns. The story gently unfolds, showing us the lengths that the white man will go to secure this what is seen as a personal right. But of course they are disrupting the lives of the Aborigines and their land. At times, its quite difficult to comprehend how a bunch of criminals think they might have such a right, but these men could effectively wipe clean their slate and therefore start again. Some do it -like Will - with some respect, but others are no more than thugs. However, even Will is tested in terms of what actions he will take to secure his 'home'. And all through this time, wife Sal is having more babies and counting the days when she can go home to London.
It's a well told story, based a little on the true experiences of the authors ancestors. It is full of wonderful descriptions of Australia and its contrast with grey London. The dialogue is written in italics, which I found a little distracting, but it is a wonderful, simple tale, well told. I'm not sure about the title, I found it a little misleading but you make your own mind up. A great read.
Happy Writing (and Reading!)
14 December 2009
Current Work: Trying to find myself again, post NaNoWriMo and NaNoFiMo
Listening to: My Man Friday making a cuppa!
Reading: The Italian Quarter
Well, I have spent the day in a kind of daze, not really knowing what to do first. It has been really odd not having the pressure of my writing target to reach and it feels almost like I'm missing a part of me. I guess what I should do is start on the next project. Can't be doing with all this 'spare time' on my hands...hah!
I don't like Christmas, well, I don't like all the commercial nonsense that it brings and all that madness and stress associated with one day. So I'm pleased to be here in rural Italy where they have a more sedate way. The decorations have only just gone up in the streets and the supermarkets stocking their shelves (well maybe one) with Xmas goodies. The kids don't break up until the 23rd and go back just after Befana (the real Mother Xmas) on 6th January. Home-made cakes, biscuits and chutneys are preferred to the jazzy wrapping and glitz from M&S and they don't send cards.
Humbug? Me? Nah. I think Christmas is the time for giving, so my money (what little I would have spent on family) is going to buy a goat or two for children and their families who won't know what all the fuss is about.
11 December 2009
'Til the Fat Lady Sings...
So the saying goes. I'm coming to the denouement of my novel and I have a sense of not wanting to get to those two little words, 'The End'. But I know I have to - otherwise it will just be padding, it won't add anything to the story and I suppose, if one wanted to, you could go on and on and on... but I hate that in a book. When I feel satisfied with the read, but there are two more chapters to go and they don't do anything. So by the end of the afternoon, I will have said goodbye to those characters with whom I've spent 36 days - in my head, in my dreams, in most of my waking thoughts. I shall put them to bed, tuck them up and forget about them. Until January, when I need to wake them up and edit them. Eeeks!
Three Cheers for - The Ups (and Downs) of an Apprentice Writers life
I still feel like that you know, an apprentice writer. I think I've progressed from beginner but I have a feeling that I shall always be an apprentice. Always something new to learn, or try out, that's what makes writing so exciting. For me anyway.
- NaNoFiMo continued. Current word count stands at 74,000.
- The last two articles in my Characterisation and the Zodiac have been uploaded to Suite 101. The two signs (which happen to be my sons and mine respectively) are Scorpio and Pisces.
- Launched the Writers Abroad Ning site to our members. Its looking good and I hope to share it with you in the New Year.
- Blogged three times
- Revised short story critiqued by my pals in Writers Abroad and will be submitting to Peoples Friend
- Continued with other non-fiction projects including a piece for the Oldie, HR Handbook proposal, looked Constant Content for selling articles and whipped up some submissions for the journal I edit, Leadership in Health Services.
9 December 2009
Publisher or Agent?
As you know I've been touting my first novel out in the scary world of publication. I have submitted it to one publisher and eleven agents, I've had nine rejections and one outstanding. All the rejections have been personally addressed, two of them have indicated the current financial market as a reason for rejection, others that it doesn't fit their current requirements. At least I'm eliciting some kind of response. I get a bit niggled when I've spent time researching their websites and its indicated that they are open to submissions and do represent my genre, but what else can you do?
Anyway, I went with agents mainly in the first instance because a friend of mine (a published author) felt it would be easier if I was represented. However, there are other writers who recommend going to a publisher first. So what would you do and why?
Is delayed... I'm almost at the end, but not quite. Patience is a virtue...
7 December 2009
Current Work: Getting ready to launch 'Writers Abroad' website come blog and am very excited.
Listening to: Radio 4, a play about trains which I'm trying to concentrate on but the writing takes over...
Reading: The Secret River by Kate Grenville
Virtual Space for Writers
The one thing I've read about lately is that a writer absolutely has to have a website, blog, be on twitter, face book and goodness knows what else in order to raise their profile. Now while I go along with this to a certain degree, I do have some misgivings. Firstly I do have a website (well two actually) and I blog regularly. I enjoy these two activities and they do provide some time to be creative using a different media. I joined Facebook only because my son and his partner seemed to use it and I thought I could keep in touch with what they are doing. The trouble is I got all these requests from friends, nephews and nieces who it appears, are all trying their best to increase their number of friends. Does this mean they are popular or just that they superficially know a lot people. I have a theory about 'friends', I can count true friends on one hand, the others are merely acquaintances, people I know. (I know, Scrooge and Humbug come into mind, but this time of year always gets me going). And then, there is all this stuff about Farmville and smiles and bouquets of flowers and I really don't understand most of it. So I've stopped logging in, it's not the place I want to be. I've never 'twittered' - though that could be debatable. I suppose I feel you should choose the best medium for you. Writers by courtesy of their profession are often not sociable people (I'm definitely in this group) and therefore a network of millions of people might not be the place for them. However, a network of writers, all with the same passion for writing, who are keen to develop their skill and help others to do the same is the place I want to be. So that is the point of my drivelling on...Writers Abroad will be that place, it doesn't matter how many friends I have, its a place I can go and talk about writing and all its related ups and downs with people who know exactly what its like. Great.
Apologies to Rob in my lost blog, where my dreadful writing intimated he wasn't 'live'! Of course I'd split my sentence up and was referrring to the website... Faux Pas or what? I'm the Queen of them, you just ask my Man Friday, he calls them 'Joisms'.
4 December 2009
- Plan to reach 65k words this weekend on The Promise...
- Two articles published on Suite 101 as part of the series about the Zodiac and Characterisation - this week its Sagittarius and Cancer
- Set up Writers Abroad website/blog with the welcome help of our only male member, not live yet but watch this space.
- Reviewed all outstanding queries and considered markets
- Writing Plan for December completed - pie in the sky? Probably...
- Two more rejections for All Will Be Well :(
2 December 2009
And Silver Linings
The two go together in a writers' life, like in many others. Rainclouds and silver linings. I'm a great believer in positive thinking, which is fine when I'm feeling positive. But every so often that nasty gremlin visits that says 'Oh no Jo Lamb, you are not a writer....' usually accompanied by the latest rejection. I've just had my fourth this month for my first novel (third if I want to be precise, one agent has closed to submission because of the volume) and it never gets any easier. I keep telling myself the next one will be THE one but it still hurts and starts that niggle of self doubt. I won't let it linger for long however, I sweep off that terrible demon with one swipe and start looking for the next opportunity. If you let it get to you, you'd never write... and that would be no life at all.
Well almost back to normal then...
I love this book, even more on the second reading. The film is not a patch on it especially the ending which for me was more than the right one. I think it's a shame it wasn't represented properly on the DVD but then again, I'm not a script writer. But with a book which is so widely read, it's a little disappointing for viewers.
It's basically a love affair set in England and France during World War II. But it is so much more than a love affair we read about. I love the character of Charlotte who in one sense appears so fragile with the unspoken hint of childhood abuse by her psychiatrist father which led to teenage depression. Yet on the other hand the Scottish lass with a love of France signs up as a 'courier' come spy to try and find her lover who has been lost on a flying mission. Charlotte is honest about her feelings for her mother, which don't amount to much and sticks out in a crowd for her interesting personality. It is this that attracts Peter Gregory a fighter pilot struggling with his continued success at keeping off the death statistic list for his profession and his guilt for friends lost. The love he feels for Charlotte frightens him so much that he takes on a mission which puts him at risk. But it is only then that he realises and accepts his feelings for her.
My favourite character however, is the old French Jew Levade, who takes on Charlotte when she stays in France after her mission is finished to find Peter. Although it is Levades son with whom Charlotte eventually succumbs to - you can feel the tensions during her conversations with his father who is a painter and has lost his muse. You feel he has found a new one in Charlotte, yet he never paints her. He is brutal in his questioning and philosphy on life, yet Charlotte responds only how she can, honestly and without apology.
This tale however is as much about the lost love affair of France with itself, the internal fighting and the barbaric ways people start to treat each other when power is involved. And with this comes the treatment of the Jews during that time. I still find it hard to read these accounts like these. In the book two young French Jewish boys are seperated from their parents. Charlotte helps to hide them but cannot save them from their fate. I still find it hard to believe that only 70 years ago, such dreadful atrocites were committed on other people whose only difference was their heritage. A race that has been around for hundreds and hundreds of years. How the complete disrespect of human life happened in the twentieth century? It goes on in other countries I know, even now, but somehow this is close to home, part of our lives that we know now. It's relevant. How do you explain that to future generations? Impossible to understand and explain but we should not forget. It is through books like this that we must continue to expose ourselves to the reality of the Second World War and not allow its lessons to die with the generations who lived through it.
30 November 2009
27 November 2009
- Two articles completed for Suite 101 on characterisation using the Zodiac, this week its been the turn of Aries, the Ram and Leo the Lion.
- Copy submited and invoiced for Overseas Living - Handy Hints for Moving to Italy
- Copy submited to Writers Journal - on a Writing Plan for writers
- Blogged my Blog
- Reviewed and critqued stories and articles for fellow writers at Writers Abroad
- Submitted short story for critique which has been fab, so that will be polished for submitting next week
And just at little lesson learnt this week, don't be afraid to follow things up. One publisher had thought I'd been published and paid, but when I chased it up, they had lost my manuscript! So just a short, polite note to keep on top of things is a good thing.
25 November 2009
23 November 2009
At The End of The Tunnel
And I'm not talking about the NaNoWrimo challenge either! Having got cocky with myself last week spouting this and that, I've landed back to real earth with a bump. You see, life always gets in the way, but that's what is so interesting for writers. Gives us something to use. Well if it's interesting enough. For me it was being without electricity for the weekend and with so many plans for editing, writing, critiquing and whatnot! Have you tried cooking solely by candlelight? No I don't mean using the candles to cook, I meant for light. Well certainly an experience and I kept telling my Man Friday how romantic it was...
Anyway, now back on the grid and catching up. So must away. Sorry for the witter, but I promise to try and be a little more with it next time...
20 November 2009
18 November 2009
16 November 2009
13 November 2009
And so it goes on...
Three Cheers for! The Highs and Lows of My Writing Week
Well, what more can I say? I just don't believe it. I had a slight lull this morning when I was writing my scene synopsis. I kind of ran out of words, well they just didn't appear at all but I persevered and just wrote any old kind of rubbish. So lets hope it turns into something sensible this afternoon. But that's not all I've been doing.
- Submitted All Will Be Well to three more agents - fingers and toes crossed
- Submitted two more additions to my Characterisation and the Zodiac series to Suite 101 on Gemini and Capricorn
- Will submit 6 queries this afternoon - drafted and ready to go
- Prepared 1000 article on the Battle of Britain for Best of British submission
So all in all a satisfying week...
11 November 2009
My new motto, 'don't think , just write' and I'm afraid you are going to be sick to death of this by the 31st but like any other fighter, I need to keep up the anti! And yes, to my one kind commenter, Rob - tea in bed at 6.30, the delicious fresh coffee is saved until mid morning and after lunch to give me a caffeine kick!
Number of words? 19,603
State of Mind? Fairly stable - but there's plenty of time for that to change.
Now as you can see, I'm a bit weighed down at the moment and have a one track mind - but just to say I've just finished The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown. I know that it's getting quite a lot of criticism but for me I like the issues it explores, the mystery and the unknown. And my Dad was a Mason (still is I think Pa?) and he had one of those little black books written in a text I (and my brother and sisters) couldn't understand. How did we know? Well, like all children we were very good at snooping, but it was largely fed by a certain kind of secrecy. Dad was also 'crowned' Worshipful Master one year and there was a big party - who cared if we didn't know what it was all about? Anyway I found it most enlightening (and yes, father has read it and in fact it is his copy). I thought the ending went on and on and bit and some of it did seem a bit out of this world, but then again so is the concept of some white haired and white bearded kindly old man sitting up above us...
Ciao for Now
Don't Think Just Write
9 November 2009
6 November 2009
I'm afraid my brain (whats left of it) and my time is committed to NaNorWriMo at the moment. Have reached 11,396 in five days. Hope to start next week on 15,000!
Other good news, I have two queries which have been accepted in principle and Writers Abroad continues to flourish.
Oh and two articles printed on Suite 101, Characterisation and the Zodica sign Libra and one on Aquarius!
Don't Think Just Write!
4 November 2009
2 November 2009
Listening to: My fingers tapping away on this keyboard. I need to get writing my draft for Nanowrimo!
Reading: The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown - can't put it down
A Writers Life is a Lonely One...
And that is why it is so important for us writers to keep in touch with other like minded folk. I got together with my online writing group, Writers Abroad, on Saturday. Following a small piece published in Writers News, we have now grown from 3 members to 7 and are very international. As well as being represented in Europe (Spain, Germany, Brussels, Italy and the UK) we also have members in USA and Thailand! I have also just received interest from a writer in Australia and a potential addition from France. We are all english speaking but live abroad where we are unable to access a 'normal' writing group for a variety of reasons. We had a great time and I learnt so much about markets, editing, the writing process, likes, dislikes and loads more. The trouble is the more international we come the more problematic it is to find a time that suits us all. But everyone is being so flexible I think we can make anything happen. So watch this space and news about my fellow authors and their successful writing.
30 October 2009
- Three blogs submitted :)
- Two articles submitted to Suite 101, one funnily enough on Keeping a Writers Blog and the other is the start of a series, Characterisation using the Zodiac :)
- Nine queries submitted this very afternoon (haven't submitted any for 3 weeks!
- Synopsis of WIP The Promise has been shaken out of me and now sits in the inbox of my fellow writers (Writers Abroad). We have our first 'international' meeting tomorrow afternoon
- The beginning of my plan for November has begun, but as you know from above, I plan to go into writing hibernation (blogs apart that is)
Have a fruitful writing week...
28 October 2009
Yet again as I haven't finished reading Drop Shot by Harlan Coben. I only started it at the weekend and it's an easy read so I should have. I must admit I'm not enjoying it all that much but as I'm now two thirds through, I guess I should finish. My Man Friday has nearly finished The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown. The word 'engrossed' comes to mind! Anyway, I will submit a review next week. Currently planning lunch as we have some friends visiting, then out for a birthday bash on Sunday and then I plan to go into writing hibernation for the month of November. Delicious!
26 October 2009
Listening to: The sound of a dripping tap, I must turn the radion on!
Reading: Drop Shot by Harlan Coben
We all have some sort of routine for some part of our life. As a writer, I try not to be too pedantic about my routine as I fear if I can't write at any time, I never will again. So I don't say I write best in the morning, or in the bath or need to be surrounded by magic stones (or should that be mushrooms?). I tell myself, 'I can write at any time I want'. That said, I'm sure there are particular times when I write better, but I think that I write 'differently' and therefore bring something new to my writing. What is she waffling on about I hear you cry (well I would if anyone was there!) But as you know, routines sometime have to be put aside for many reasons and that is a good thing too. There is nothing like getting back in the groove, whatever groove that might be. One thing I did achieve last week was a submission to Suite 101 on How To Organise a Novel so take a peep. And now I must dash, my list of 'must do's' is enormous. Ciao for Now....
21 October 2009
When you live in a foreign country, finding books to read in your own language can be difficult. But these days we have Amazon who provide a wonderful, fast service and we are lucky to have two other sources to hand. Firstly, our family and friends - who as part of their visiting rituals bring along their reads on condition that they leave them and pick replacements from our shelves. The second is that we have discovered a small library of English books provided by a local Italian Osteria. There is no charge for this service and you don't even have to return the book you borrowed, just as long as you leave something in its place. Not half bad at all.
Charles Frazier is a good story teller, and in Cold Mountain he follows the lives of one man and one woman during the American Civil War. The chapters alternate between the two main characters - a style I like because it helped me understand them. They were clearly set in my mind, helped by the images of Jude Law (another sigh) and Nicole Kidman. Inman, the male character has met and already fallen in love with Ada (Nicole). We are told about his love for her as we follow his journey from a nearly fatal injury sustained in the war and his treck across the country to return to her. It is her and his love for her that keeps him going and which helps him to survive. Inman started life as a fairly level headed, gentile man, but war changes how he views his world and he doesn't let anything stand in the way of his objective. Which is to return to Ada.
Ada is a preachers daughter who lived a very enviable life before the death of her father. They moved to Cold Mountain because of his ill health and after a ropy start with the locals, they began to share his faith with the community. Ada had barely to lift a finger, preferring to draw, and paint and generally live the life of a lucky young lady. She responds to Inman and is equally attracted but their quest for love is interrupted by the war. Ada has to learn to survive after she discovers that her father did not make the preparations to allow her to continue her accustomed lifestyle. She struggles and you almost believe that she will starve to death as she has no idea how to provide for herself. And then comes along Ruby (Rene) who shows her how getting her hands dirty is the only way to go. Ruby has not experienced the fineries that Ada has and wouldn't thank her too either. All she expects is to be treated equally and that she isn't there to empty anyone elses bed pot.
There are some shocking violent scenes, typical of the impact of war and the cruelty of man when he is threatened. But also there are some very tender scenes, one involving an old goat woman whom Inman stumbles upon in the woods. The scene when Ada and Inman are reunited was particularly beautiful - it brought tears to my eyes and I so wanted to believe in the happy ever after. Thank god I couldn't remember the film, because I would have been disappointed.
It's a great read - far better than the movie because it is memorable. The images and emotion which Frazier creates is far more dramatic to my mind than anything visual could possibly be. And I would read it again, for now I'm familiar with his style I'll spend more time on the story.
19 October 2009
Listening to: Radio Sabasio (Italian station) the dulcet tones of some faceless Italian!
Reading: Well about to start - The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown - my dad has just finished it and looks a little vacant!
So plans for this week still rather sketchy as I find it difficult to write and entertain. Yes, I know we women can multi-task and I do, but sometimes its just best to concentrate on less. I really would like to get my editing done this week, didn't manage a word last week and only one article on Suite 101 on Learning Contracts, so check it out. Also have set a mini challenge in the spirit of Nanowrimo for our writing group so really need to be doing something.
One thing I did complete was Cold Mountain so will do a review on Wednesday, hopefully.
Thoughts on Writing...
'The profession of book-writing, makes horse racing seem like a stable, sound business.' John Steinbeck
12 October 2009
I'm only doing a quick entry today to say that I might be a bit absent this week. Have rellies to stay which is great if not a little distracting - in the nicest possible way. So rather than set myself up to fail. If I blog I will if not I will be back on track next week.
I would really like to get the polished version (number god knows what!) of All Will Be Well to submit to some more agents, but other than that I haven't really set myself any goals. I'm listening to the sounds of footsteps up above me (quite a rare sound here) and a dripping tap (a job for my Man Friday) and still reading Cold Mountain.
See you soonest....please drop in whenever you like...
9 October 2009
- Have completed a synopsis for a new project set way back in Saxon times - almost 2000 words :)
- Had a short story rejected by Womans Weekly :(
- Submitted two short stories for consideration (yes, I said 2) :)
- Received another rejection letter from WW but don't know what its for :/
- Submitted two articles to Suite 101. One on a Training and Development Policy and the other on Core Competency Frameworks :):)
- Blogged three times :):):)
- Begun to edit my novel in light of the very positive comments received :)
- But now think I need to review the synopsis :(
On balance not a bad week...
7 October 2009
I'm always amazed how many 'writer's' I actually know. Well, I don't mean particularly well, but one could say - associated with. Since I had a small piece published in Writers News about our writing group Writers Abroad, I have had enquiries from writers living in USA, UK (a New Zealander) and Thailand! So our quest for diversity is certainly being met on a geographical level. We are all women though so we may need to work on that.
Then we were having coffee yesterday with a couple who had one of the kittens and who now lives in such luxury my Man Friday asked if they would adopt us! Anyway, it appears that they have a very good friend who is a published writer and touring Italy at the moment looking for a home. We're everywhere, in some nook or cranny. I think the word is 'serendipity' don't you?
A Thousand Apologies, but I haven't yet finished reading Cold Mountain. It's taking a time - I'm not sure why. I watched the film some many years ago when it first came out but I remember so little of the plot. That's not such a bad thing. But I will complete it by next week. Promise.
5 October 2009
Listening to: Chickens clucking contendedly - its lovely
Reading : Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier
Finding a Home for your Novel
This is never as easy at is is to write. This is the hardest part. I have sent out my novel to (at last count) eight agents, 7 rejections and one outstanding. Now I have had the feedback from my Critique Partner which is very encouraging, I'm about to start afresh. I put it on hold pending her comments. So the trick is to find an agent who likes the genre - historical romance/historical fiction. Then check out if they have any similar stories - probably unlikely to want another. Thirdly do they accept email submissions? This last point is of particular importance to me as an expat living out of the UK. What about international reply coupons I hear you cry! Yes, well, I've heard of them, but no-one in Italy has. This is the same in Spain I believe. Technology allows us to move huge pieces of information effortlessly around the globe. Now, I understand that emailing manuscripts could have financial implications for agents and publishers, but I would guess that they would glance through the synopsis and first chapter to see if worth reading and then if they wanted to print it out. For me trying to post several hefty manuscripts would be a pain, not undoable though and I have not ruled it out. Just that I'm going to check out emails submissions first before I waste paper and postage as well as a chunk of my confidence.
Wilfred the Wise Writing Owl... intelligent thoughts on writing
Yes, I know, I was becoming a bit bored with Confucius so have adopted the sage owl as my muse for writers thoughts - but can't seem to upload the image at the mo. Bear with me.
"The great advantage of being a writer is that you can spy on people. You're there, listening to every word, but part of you is observing. Everything is useful to a writer, you see -- every scrap, even the longest and most boring of luncheon parties."
Graham Greene (English novelist, 1904-1991)
2 October 2009
- Novel critiqued and feedback provided to Nancy! :)
- My novel critiqued and positive feedback :) :) :)
- Only one submission to Suite 101 this week, due to commitments I've already talked about. This article talks about the importance of Staff Induction :/
- About 500 words written for the 5 minute Write Everyday prompt - will get back into sync next week
- Three queries submitted but not just that, revised and amended and rewritten even more specifically for target market.
- Planning for October completed - and as usual HUGE expectations!!
- Three blog posts uploaded - this being the third. I try not to let this one slip
Ci Vediamo - see you next week!
1 October 2009
That's what they say. If you want to improve your craft, keep reading. Since living here, the changes in my lifestyle, however hard, have had one particular benefit. More time to read. And that has meant that I've read stuff I probably wouldn't have before. Despite my desire to enter the Mills and Boon competition though, I've never, ever picked up one of their books. Not because I don;t think they are good - I don;t know never having read them, but perhaps that is the reason why I'm struggling to write in their style. So for me, I think its good advice.
John Grisham is very talented, both in the writing and legal world. This story is set in present day and is written from the view point of the main protagonist Michael Brock. Writing in the first person is quite difficult to maintain (so I'm told) but Grisham manages to keep the pace going and at the same time allow us to occupy the life of Brock for a short while. Brock is a savvy lawyer, working to live at a very savvy lawyers firm. The firm owns his life but when we first meet him, that's OK because of the financial rewards that it will bring him. But it has costs, his marriage for one, to Claire who to fill the void which was once love, is chasing her own career as a brain surgeon.
Then Michael experiences a violation of his world and is shown what life is like for many of the homeless in Washington D.C. He is taken as a hostage, along with colleagues by 'Mister' a victim of the street but also, it appears, of Brock's firm, Sweeney & Drake. The hostage situation is quickly resolved, Mister is shot dead by a sniper, but Brock is traumatised by the event, one which he left covered in the lifeblood of his captor. Brock starts to think about things differently. From the street perspective rather than the cocoon of Sweeney and Drake. He starts to question each and every one of his personal principles and finds that actually, they weren't principles at all. One word described them - greed. His colleagues think he's having a 'breakdown' and at first are very sympathetic, but the firm soon changes its tune as Brock discovers the reason for Misters desperate actions. Through a brief encounter with a mother and her four children Brock uncovers the reason why they all perished in a car, on a cold winters night. He is driven, along with the help of Mordecei Green the director of a street legal clinic, to seek justice for the lives he's seen wiped out.
The story is one of change, for Brock. He has left his wife, his promising career and the guarantee of financial security but he has gained a life and a moral standing. Wonderful scenes and images are created by Grisham's ability to get inside the characters head and show us who he is warts and all. A good read all round.
30 September 2009
28 September 2009
25 September 2009
- Rewrite of HQN chapter - 5000 words I'm repeating myself, I know :)
- Freewriting performed 3 days out of 5 - 750 words, not as good as last week:(
- Began new scene in WIP The Good Life about 800 words I think, not bad :)
- Have not looked at WIP The Promise - not good ;(
- Two articles submitted to Suite 101 - one on a WarTime Diet which includes some fascinating facts on how rationing improved the health of the nation and one on European Day of Lanuages and how it promotes us to have a go at learning a language (and I'm an expert on one who does it badly) :)
- Mapped outline of my first E book which I'm going to dedicate to HR practices :)
- Hopefully by the end of the day I will have submitted three queries but have had a week of rejections :(
- Have bored you all with my blog three times this week
Have a good weekend. We have a pups birthday bash on Sunday. My Man Friday will be reporting the event on the Casa Grotta Blog.
23 September 2009
I've been outlining a chapter for a competition for Mills and Boon as you know. I wrote 3,000 words (and more) and then re-read them yesterday. Now I want to change the whole thing! It just didn't flow nor fit in with the 'style' of M&B. It's all in the approach. I'm a character driven writer myself and hadn't really got to know the hero (an alpha male no less) and the heroine. They were a little faceless and bland and passionless and that's how my words read. So I have spent an hour getting to know them a little, finding pictures that will set them in my mind and hopefully they will now start to tell the story. I've only got til Friday, so they better get their skates on... Eeks!
Most reviews of this book have recommended that you think 'Da Vinci Code' and that's a fair suggestion. However, if you think that there is no need to read this book if you've read Dan Brown, you will miss out on an excellent read.
The action starts off at an exhibition where historian/archeologist Tess Chaykin witnesses a particularly strange and violent robbery. Tess, a single mother, is the leading character throughout this book and you get to find out about her desires, her deepest driven desires which is linked to the ongoing questions about God and spirituality.
The other major character is FBI agent Sean Reilly who is in charge of the investigation and finds himself drawn to Tess. Reilly despite his job of dealing with facts is actually very sympathetic and a believer.
The story is told in two time lines, one following the robbery in which an ancient encoder is taken from a collection of Vatican artefacts. Tess hears the robber (dressed as a Templar and on horseback) whisper a latin saying which drives her to delve into the possible hidden meanings. The second is way back in the thirteenth century following the final days of the last templars and their quest to pass on and protect their message and very essence of 'being'.
The evil rogue part is also two fold, one a fellow professor Tess had once fancied and is now obsessed with outing the truth about 'God' and of course the upstanding member of the religous bretheren who will do anything to prevent 'the secret' from being uncovered.
Its a fast read, short chapters and the pace is easy to follow. Its also a kind of history lesson, as Tess shares her vast knowledge about the history of the time and the Templars. As you can probably guess, Tess isn't the religous type, but Reilly is... this is the cause of some tension as the story unfolds and we discover what the Templars were trying to protect. But is it too late for all of that? And what would be the consequences for the world as we know it now, centuries on, after years of brainwash and chinese whispers. The fallout would be horrendous - wouldn't it?
A great read, and one I'd read again because of its richness in character, history and debate.
21 September 2009
"No one is asking, let alone demanding, that you write.
The world is not waiting with bated breath for your
article or book. Whether or not you get a single word
on paper, the sun will rise, the earth will spin, the
universe will expand. Writing is forever and always a
choice -- your choice."
18 September 2009
I've put one of those counters on my blog. I was just curious to see if I get any at all, as I've never once had a comment from anybody. Since I installed the counter which was about a month ago I've had 149 visitors! And not a drop of tea made. This week alone I've had 22, which is quite amazing. I wonder who you are. Don't be shy, say hello once in a while and make a struggling writers day...
Three Cheers for!
- 3000 words drafted for a chapter to be submitted to HQN competition
- 2,500 words written for the WIP The Good Life
- 1.250 words written - 250 per day in five minutes - on Write Everday prompts and five beginnings of a story or a chapter or a scene...
- Two articles submitted to Suite 101, one on the great British engineer (my dad will like this one) with the amazing name of Isambard Kingdom Brunel and the second on Travelling Abroad with Diabetes
- Three queries submitted and follow-ups made
- Research almost finished on WIP The Promise - some of this has taken me to accounts of POW's in the area here where I live so have become a little distracted along the way...
- Short story submitted to Writelinkers for a critique
- Short story edited for submission to market next week
- Writers Abroad meeting held and enjoyed
- Editing work for publishing house completed - a Swedish paper which caused a few headaches
Ciao until next week - Happy Writings...