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30 March 2009


Current Work: Still editing...
Listening to: Nothing, waiting for someone to call
Reading: Tripwire A Jack Reacher Novel by Lee Child

End of the month...
Well, it nearly is and I didn't want to leave this month missing another blog, so this will be brief. Since Friday, I haven't done much at all...not writing. Been in the garden, spring is a busy time when you grow your own stuff. I had a break from the editing as I was beginning to get sloppy. They say 2 hours is enough but even then I think my concentration is fading a little. But at the same time I want to get it done. I'm amazed how long it is taking me, but then maybe I'm a little naieve (I never could spell that word)about these things.

Planning Ahead
Well as its the end of one month it must be the beginning of another, so I will be spending some time this week working on my plans for April. Without the detail, I'm sure March has been a pretty productive month in terms of output, but not so convinced about the financial inputs! This 'economic crisis' is destroying the euro and income has dropped considerably since last year. But hey ho, what can I do about it. Just got to look on the bright side - as someone funny said sometime, though I've forgotten who!

Anyway I'm looking forward to another month of writing, the more I do, the more I want to do, which can only be a good thing!

27 March 2009


Current Work: Editing...admin and query submissions
Listening to: Birds singing, a woodpecker pecking
Reading: A Lee Child Novel (Jack Reacher series)

Friday - I'm Back!
Having missed a couple of blog entries on Fridays recently I've decided to get this one in early. I usually do it last thing, after I've got everything else done (which is a very rare state, but you know what I mean). Anyway we'll see how it pans out.

First Time Novelist
You know by now that I'm editing my first novel, and the learning process is quite fascinating. I have made lots of notes about 'Things I Would Do Differently' next time. Because there is going to be a next time, even though I've not finished this time. But I'm not going to share them here just yet. Why? Well because it could be potential submission and as I'm writing this I've made notes about putting a query together for a writing magazine. See, always thinking about potentially another way of becoming published.

Catch Up
I've tended to put other things to one side whilst I'm in the throes of editing. So I wasn't going to make time for a Suite 101 article. But sometimes its good to change hats for a while, walk about in different shoes, take on a different style. So my latest is about Giacomo Leopardi, born not far from here in an Italian town by the sea. Fascinating literary works he produced and leaflet introducing an exhibition about his works, provided lots of useful information, which I had to translate first!

And with reference to my last bit about useless facts about writers, I've lost the link and will try and find it soon. Trouble is its only a priority C in my list of actions, so gets sidelined all the time.

25 March 2009


Current Work : Proofreading final draft of novel, starting the new one and carrying on with the one in between!
Listening to: The dog barking at a neighbour
Reading: When Will There Be Good News by Kate Atkinson - final leg, gripping!

Good Beginnings
As you know I'm completing the draft of my first novel and getting ready to submit my baby to a kindly publisher who is going to take pity on me and my novel and ...Oh No! I've just woken up from a wonderful dream.
Joking apart, I'm now proofreading the novel - I read out loud, do you? I find it helps to find the clumsy bits and typos and helps things flow better, but gives me a bit of a scratchy throat. I'm also making notes about continuity, particularly with names and as its classed as a historical (or should that be hysterical?') novel I'm also checking facts. My Man Friday has made little notes which are most useful and even drawn little diagrams... Bless. But its the beginning I need to sort out, as for me when I'm reading, the first few lines and the first chapter have to have me gripped otherwise I lose interest. And I'm not quite there yet.

Spinning the Plates
And whilst I'm trying to finish of this one, I'm trying to outline the new novel (another historical one) and continue with a lighter piece I'm writing with Man Friday. The trouble is I get honed in on one to the detriment of the other. Should I just get this one finished and come back to the others, or does working on all three help with inspiration and provide some time out? Who knows? Only time will tell.

Other Work?
Well, as you know I do try and write the odd short story, submit on-line articles to Suite 101 and put out weekly queries about potential non-fiction articles. All this 'stuff' constitutes paid (or potentially) paid work and 'allows' me to play with my novel. But we all know this isn't playing, this is serious stuff and that's why some of this has potentially been sidelined. So no Suite 101 article this week - yet.

23 March 2009


Current Work: Edit of novel finished - catching up!
Listening to: The wind blowing through the Olives
Reading: When Will There Be Good News? by Kate Atkinson

Occupational Hazard
I missed my Friday blog again last week, but I had some decisions to make. I was on the home strait for finishing the first edit of my novel and My Man Friday was running out of chapters to comment I just put my foot on my editing accelerator and away I went. On Saturday I was at my PC from around 9.30am until 6.30pm with a stretch after every completed scene. By the end of the marathon, I'd typed in excess of 10,000 words. Bring it on... but my wrists were killing me. I've never had RSI (which I believe means repetitive strain injury - common in typists) but it made things quite difficult, particularly when I got more tired. It probably took me twice as long to type the last scene that day as it did the first because of all the mistakes. Yesterday I took the day off and didn't think about it at all, or touch a keyboard. Today I've been baking - I need to shake off this novel as I'm keen to start the next.

Publish and Be Damned
So now I'm through this bit - and next time I'm going to make some changes to the way I do things - I've got to pluck up the courage and send it out. I'm taking the advice about not seeking for perfection as the book, if taken on, will without a doubt have some changes recommended. I just need to tidy up the beginning as it sounds lumpy. Its something I've left to the end again, because I read that's what some people did, and I think it was right this time. Who knows about the next?

Book Worm
I'm really enjoying the Kate Atkinson book. Its not big on dialogue but what there is helps to set the scene or build characters. Its her characters actually which do it for me, they lead the story, they are the story and they are very strong. I'm very much a character writer, the plot for me develops as they do, no matter how good my plan or outline is. Well, its a framework...

18 March 2009


Current Work: Still editing the novel, non-fiction submission
Listening to: Bertie barking at the neighbours
Reading: When will there be good news? by Kate Atkinson

Midweek Musings
Well, I'm sticking at the editing, which if I'm honest, I am quite enjoying. I did wonder whether my preference for writing the story longhand and then doing the first edit as I transfer to the PC a bit long winded, and it is. A little like that paragraph, it goes on and on and on. But it is a useful process to use, well I think so anyway. As I re-read the longhand I read it out in my head, so I spot errors or overused words very easily. As I type, I can often find better ways to write what I want to say or sometimes find the whole thing redundant so exclude it all together. I'm sure what I have as my first draft is now much, much tighter, both in terms of characterisation and plot. I'm happy living in my little dream world, I'm sure an potential publisher wouldn't agree. Well we'll just have to wait and see on that one.

Oh and I mustn't forget, have published an article on Suite 101 about Yuri Gagarin. I and My Man Friday, were very fortunate to have been given a private tour of the Space Museum where Gagarins shuttle is kept. We were even allowed to touch it, which was pretty amazing considering the heavy 'do not' attitude in British Museums.

Resources For Writers
I may have mentioned last week, that I was reading a book about the fastest way to write your book. Well, I've read it, or skimmed through it and I would definitely recommend it as a possible book shelf reference but I do find that a lot of these publications do say the same thing. I always approach these things as if they are going to give me some secret combination that will smooth my path to writing nirvana, but that just isn't the case. Learning by doing it and writing it is the only way I am going to improve my craft and to be quite honest I don't need to spend any more money hoping to find the magic way. THERE ISN'T ONE!

And Finally...
I noticed I started this off at the beginning of March and never did again! Anyway, if I remember, I'll try and include something for the Friday slot.

16 March 2009


Current Work: Editing
Listening to: Birds enjoying a bit of early spring sunshine
Reading: The Autobiography, Johnnie Walker

Missing Entry
I missed an entry on Friday! My first since I started at the beginning of the year. I did remember, but by that time it was late, the PC was off and Comic Relief was on the TV. Excuses and more excuses. But I had a busy week and on Friday spent all morning hanging about at our local hospital, while my Man Friday had some tests. Anyway now back on track. I had a week of plugging away at the novel, which is really taking shape I think, and the sounds coming from my live in proofreader are both positive and constructive.

Getting Paid
I received a cheque in the post today for a piece I did for The New Writer Magazine, called Writing From the Soul. It was published on their Vellum page and the thrill of seeing my words in print is as fresh as the last time. It is soooo exciting and I just keep flicking the mag open to make sure it wasn't a dream. So if I can do it anyone can, you just have to be persistent and brush off all the rejections - because a published piece is simply the biz!

Back to Reality
So after I've made my list of things to buy with my grand total of £31, (yeah, that is thirty-one pounds, there aren't any zeroes missing) I know have to get back to the grindstone. More than the money it's the motivation which spurs me on. Knowing that if I can do it once...

11 March 2009


Current Work: Editing (priority), non-fiction (light relief), blog (gossip)
Listening to: The news on Radio 4 - another shooting, depressing
Reading: The Fastest Way to Write Your Book by Dave Haslett

Midweek Assessment:
I'm plodding on with the first edit of my novel and regularly adding to printed scenes in an A4 folder. My Man Friday is very bravely reading them through and making very encouraging remarks. I really do value his input. (I know, I'm a soppy old thing, but it's true. He would and will be critical, I know.) W

We, and that is Louise and Charles of this relationship, are working hard on the flit lit draft. Its great fun as it is based loosely on our experiences. Its been great to revisit memories and places and then give them a bit of a literary twist to make it funnier, sadder, (though I remember it being funny and sad enough!). My Man Friday reads me out little snippets which have us rolling about in laughter and we talk about consistencies, character development and plot. It really is great writing with someone else. I must admit I was a little worried at first but its really working well. Famous Last Words? Maybe, but there you go.

I've also managed to submit my latest edition to Suite 101 about Captain Joshua Slocum, an American/Canadian writer and adventurer who sailed around world solo and disappeared at sea.

My main theme of this blog is that variety is good. Whilst I'm doing one thing, I'm mulching or developing something else in my mind. It refreshes my mind and also relieves the tedium sometimes involved in editing - searching for that word, deciding on punctuation and checking facts. I must admit I do like all parts of the writing process though. It means that no one day is ever the same as the next. It suits my nature. What about you?

The book I'm reading at the moment is a piece of inspiration I must say. And I've only read the introduction...

9 March 2009


Current Work: Non-Fiction, Editorials and Drafting
Listening to: The Saturday Play - Ripley Underground (Listen Again R4)
Reading: Its a Simon Brett, but I can't remember the title at this time!

Developing My Style
As you know I like to plan. I have a yearly writing plan which I review every month, with targets, actions and probably some pretty unattainable stuff. Entering competitions is one of these said targets. Not because I think I can win, but usually because it provides some inspiration (as well as a time nudge) to develop my writing style. For instance I've never really thought about writing for children. The influence of becoming a grandparent has probably softened my stance and today I submitted a story for the Wind in the Willows Short Story Competition. Not that my writing could be compared for one nano second with Wind in the Willows. I wouldn't want you to get the wrong idea. But writing for a different age group does help you look at your style, differently. I suppose that should go for any genre, but particularly so for children. Language for certain, the faddish words of the day, things they definitily wouldn't say that trip from your lips like members of the family. Imagery is another, the world they live in isn't the same as ours. So I imagine that to attract a young reader you need to enter their world but make it a little different. As I'm writing this, I'm sure I haven't done any of those things. But as you know, I do like a good 'post mortem' on my writing endeavours. I did enjoy the experience, in fact I spent a good part of my weekend working on it to meet the deadline, so...

Finding a Critical Voice
I always read my writing out loud, which really shows up the lumps and bumps. But there is nothing like a second voice. One that can be critical but helpful, one that can spot the inconsistencies of character and time, those who have not a care about the writing but care about your craft. I have that second voice and unusually it is my Man Friday. I don't suppose many relationships could withstand the expectations of either, but for us it works. Perhaps working together and now writing together helps. It is also essential.

Here is to a good week for the written word.

6 March 2009


Current Work: Editing, Drafting and Admin
Listening to: The boiler - the heating has just been switched on.
Reading: Shadows in the Wind - I don't want it to end

The End of the Week
In some ways I relish Fridays. It's the end of the week and now spring is in the air. But I usually do my admin on a Friday and that means gritted teeth and a few choice words. Why? Well because it usually involves technology of some sort or another and it takes so flippin' long! I'm seriously considering going back to a manual, written record, but I don't want to be seen as some kind of Victorian writer locked in the anals of history. But some things work better, the old way. How old am I? Only a mere 46, going on 96 methinks...

Short Stories
I'm trying my hardest to get a short story published. Now I've had a little success on the non-fiction side, it's given me a little push to dip my toe in the water. But as ever, I have a problem with deadlines, which are even more of a problem if I have to post off submissions. As I live in Italy I have to post at least 5 days before and even then I'm not convinced it gets there. Not all short stories have deadlines, but you know about my procrastinating habit. But I'm a girl who gets going by the clock. As those little hands whir round to the last day and fingers fly and I manage to hit the deadline with a press of the button, but only if emailing submissions is allowed. You see, that's why I must get 'modern'.

Something for the Weekend?
Well, I hope the garden and a chat with my two granddaughters who will be 4 and 1 respectively on 8th March - International Women's day. Now thats what I call planning!

4 March 2009


Current Work: Editing Novel, Non Fiction Article
Listening to: The whirring of my laptop
Reading: Shadows in the Wind

The Red Editing Pen
As you probably know (sometimes I think its just the ether I'm speaking to out there, and it probably is as I'm sure that no-one reads this damn thing. Thats another action to put on my list. Publicise this blog!!) I am in the process of editing my first novel. All 80,000 words of it. Words of which are written in four journals (A4 hard back style) and one ring binder file. Written over the past three years. It's no small wonder I'm finding it very difficult to say the least. I'm soon finding out where the inconsistencies jump out at me. Where I've repeated and repeated and repeated the same thing. Where I've said a character is going to do somehting and then doesn't. Where the time seems to change in the blink of an eyelid. I could go on, and I probably will at a later date, but this isn't as exciting as writing the first pure words. But then I knew that. I've just got to get on with it and get it done - in the words of my Man Friday. So what on earth am I doing here then?

Halfway House
Well, halfway through the week and as you can see I'm struggling witht the editing. I've dedicated this month to getting it finished but I do need to distract myself with other things or I might go quite mad. I've published this weeks article on Suite 101. A short bio of Dr Seuss. Quite fascinating, the things you find out about people and things when you write about them. I've also threatened my other half with nasty things if he doesn't keep to our deadline for our joint effort on The Good Life (a working title for our Flit Lit book). So he's in the office at the moment - I can hear him coughing as he poises over the keyboard - tapping away. And, yes there is more, and I have to outline my next novel which is again about World War II but set in Italy. But that is this months work. Not this weeks. I've also got some hopes for a short story submission but that may need to be shelved. One thing at a time.

And Finally...
I'm going to use my final paragraph for a bit of harmless fun and experiementation I don't know what this will mean, but for now it means Useless Facts About Writers.

Q: What child actress brought a libel suite agaisnt British Author Grahame Greene?

A: Shirley Temple. He wrote a review of one of her films accusing the angel look alike of indecency!

2 March 2009


Current Work: Monthly Review and Forward Planning
Listening to: My Man Friday lighting the fire
Reading: The Shadow of the Wind

First Thought of The Day: I've decided to change this to once a week. I've got bored of it so I'm sure you have. I'll probably do it on a Friday, but then again I may not!

A New Start
I love the beginning of a new month. Why? Well because I can see everything I've achieved and not feel too bad about whats left over because I move the 'not achieved' into the next month. Sounds a bit like cheating I hear you mutter. Well, I do get a bit concerned if things go on running over for months on end, but I usually write my carried forwards in red pen to embarrass myself.
This month is dedicated to the completion of my first edit of my novel. I've not been giving it the time it deserves and I read about a guy (his obituary actually, only 43) but he couldn't use his hands or leg, he typed with a skull cap and stick and managed to bash out a novel in his twenties. Made me feel very ashamed and humble. So I am determined to stop grumbling and be grateful of my fully functioning body and get on with it!

Book Worm
I can't find my image to upload so instead of wasting time will just get on with the writing. Finished
Nineteen Minutes by Judi Picoult last week, mostly on trains going up to Florence. It was a divine read, full of action and characters who you could see and picture and feel like. Its about bullying and some of the extreme things that can happen. Quite scary but utterly believable. My Man Friday is now devouring it as we speak.

On the Goggle Box
Well, the Rugby (Six Nations) held centre stage - for Man Friday anyway). And I'm just loving the dancing programme for Comic Relief. Why do we love laughing at people and particularly celebrities making a fool out of themselves? All in a good cause. On Italian TV last night a drama about Pucinni started, all in Italian of course but we try to watch a bit.

And the Last Word of the Day:
See my note about First thought of the day.....