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28 April 2009


Current work: Outlining new novel, writing chapter of joint novel, drafting non-fiction
Listening to: an annoying fly buzzing around my head
Reading: A Change of Heart by Jodi Piccoult

Sigh of Relief
I finally finished the editing and produce Draft number 2 on Saturday. This was after I'd nearly thrown the PC out of the window. For some reason my computer always decides to play up when I'm on the last leg of something. You know that time, when you are really tired, but so near the end you daren't stop. Well that's exactly where I was when my computer tells me in that annoying way 'Micrsoft Word has made an error and needs to close down...' I can't tell you the expletives that came erupting from my usually sweet mouth, but I can tell you that I somehow broke a plastic ruler! Anyway, Draft 2 is now printed and awaiting another read by my Man Friday who is also helping out with checking some of the factual data. This novel writing business is not just about writing that I can tell you.

The Riddler
I've decided to dedicate a few lines to something which is writing related and puzzles me. In the hope that I will be offered some suggestions for solving said conundrum, or I decide that it obviously doesn't matter.
So to start this off it's contractions -when and when not to use. Having completed the editing I use a number of tools and tricks to help with this. One of them is the use of Micrsofts Spell and Grammar check. I do use this with caution as it is not always the best advice, certainly not for writing fiction. But all the time it points out contractions and recommends the full wordage is used. So for e.g. (I'm teaching grandmothers to suck eggs here,) it is instead of it's, could not instead of couldn't, were not instead of weren't and so on... I think that there is probably a balance and that often we use more contractions in speech, so that is the rule I have tried to follow but I'd be interested to know what other writers do?


The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson

Title: Absolutely brillant and hits the spot as far as the book is concerned

Characters: A man and a woman who may have met and loved before?
Plot: The man (a living gargoyle due to burns sustained in a car crash) learn how to love himself again following terrible injuries sustained. The woman, former psychiatric patient assists with his journey of discovery and of learning to love himself for just himself. This is achieved through the telling of tales from centuries ago, where apparently they were lovers, man and wife. He holds the key to her inner peace and freedom.
Setting: Modern day and scenes from the thirteenth century where they first knew each other. Wonderfully narrated passages relating to Dantes The Inferno and graphic language is used to its full potential all the way through.
Perspective: Mainly first person, from each of the main characters.
In a Word: Fantastical; Creative; Descriptive; Colourful
Recommendation: Definitely but this book needs a concentrated read to help with the flow and keep up with the flash backs.

24 April 2009


Current Work: Editing, more editing and even more editing
Listening to: Nothing, I find it too distracting at the moment
Reading: The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson

Can't stop long...
Sorry this is only going to be a short entry. I am nearing the end of the editing process and I'm determined to get it done. I've found it quite a distraction for other work as I can't think straight about anything else! I wonder how other people do it and whether it gets any easier with practice. It made me realise, just how much I didn't know before I started this novel writing thing! I know that I underestimated the time it took. Anyway I hope to print of the second proof for my other half to read whilst I check some facts that need confirming. Then the final typo proof and off it goes. Will it all be worth it I ask myself? Well if not financially, it has certainly taught me a lot about the writing process.

Three Cheers for!

Submissions and Commissions
  • Suite 101 submission on Samuel Morse who not only invented the telegraph and code but was a gifted painter. Check it out.
  • Query accepted for a health style magazine about Diabetes, now have to deliver the piece!
No of Words Written
  • 68,ooo words edited so far, only about ten thousand more to go!
  • Outline of short story of competition entry for May, about 500
And I said this was going to be a short entry?

21 April 2009


Current Work: Short Story preparation, Editing - have to finish!!
Listening to: Silence again, it seems to work for me
Reading: The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson

Creature of Habit I'm writing this blog on a Tuesday. For the past few months I've been posting entries on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. But now I've decided to post on a Tuesday and a Friday. Routine scares me a little although it forms a great part of my life. In fact I think I have more routine now, than I ever have done, which is quite strange when you think that I no longer have a boss or employer and I live in a country where most things can wait. So why is that I wonder? I have a writing routine because its the only way I get things done, yes that's right , my lists, my 'to do's', my ball and chain. But it does work. However, a change is as good as a rest so they say.

Cliches and Sayings
Are cliches such a bad thing? (did you notice how I changed the subject there? Creature of habit? Me? Pahh). No but seriously, as I go through my first big editing process, I have noticed that I do use them, only now and again and only when I think they are appropriate, yet all the 'experts' tell us to avoid them. What do you do?

The Book Worm Yes, I've reintroduced this - part of my change in routine - or is it just a return to the routine? Well, it doesn't matter anyway. This is where I'll review the last book I read.

The Book Thief
by Mark Zusak is a fine read. It is narrated by 'Death' which alone is a very different style and one that took some getting used to, but once you got into the bones of it, so to speak, it was very comfortable and extremely compelling. It is set in Germany during the persecution of the Jews in World War II. Again, the setting is quite different to run of the mill novels with this setting. It's main character is a little girl, probably a Jew who describes the death of her brother in the first few pages. It is this girls life that we are shown and all the important people around her. Her character is quite entertaining, a little tom boyish (she beats up a classmate) yet vulnerable (she has nightmares about her brothers death). But most of all she loves to read which is ironic as this was the time Hitler burnt all books. So the title is very befitting and links the relationships she builds and the people she meets and then loses. Death is majestic and compassionate which was a surprise and his tenderness has left me with a sense of satisfaction for those who were taken.

16 April 2009


Current Work: Editing
Listening to: The dog gulping water from his bowl
Reading: The Book Thief by Mark Zusak

Staying Positive
Keeping an optimistic view is hard as a writer, mainly I suppose, because we do work in isolation. As someone who also lives in another country, this is sometimes compounded. So 'off days' can be a little overwhelming. I'm having one of those today. And I'm not for one moment suggesting that this only happens to writers. It happens to everybody. But when you spend most of your time doing the things you love doing and are able to do it pretty much when you like, surrounded by beautiful views (and I'm not just talking of My Man Friday here!) then you do feel a little guilty. But sometimes, to continue the thread from the last blog, earning a living from writing is a tough act and this week if feels tougher than ever. However, then I think of the poor victims of the earthquake only over the mountains from me and I thank my lucky stars, pick myself up and get back on track. Always, there is always someone with more worries, somewhere.

Three Cheers for:
  • One article to Suite 101 on Samuel Johnson. Did you know that he had symptoms of Tourettes Syndrome?
  • Planning to submit six queries tomorrow as I missed last weeks allocation
Words written:
  • About 4,000 on the joint flit lit WIP (work in progress) known as 'The Good Life'
  • Edited around 8 scenes, approximately 12,000 words of WIP 'The Flying Angels'
  • Research and produced outline for second novel, working title - 'The Promise
And I've worked on my 'paid' job with a publishing house, so all in all, not that bad.
When I'm brave enough I might add a section for 'Brass earnt'!

14 April 2009


Current Work: Editing, outlining, amending - mega catch up!
Listening to: A Ticking Clock
Reading: The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

Time Out
Yes, I've had a bit of time out, so haven't posted here for a whole week. Feeling a bit ashamed of myself as I had thought I might at least get one entry in but it just didn't happen. But sometimes it's good to be away from the routine for a bit. Free's up the mind and hey, even writers are allowed some time off. But the trouble is I hate the catching up. It stresses me out and I set myself these mountainous targets as some kind of penance. My Man Friday says that I must have Catholic gremlins on my shoulder! I hope that doesn't offend anyone, it's not meant to.
Anyway, in preparation, I did submit two Suite 101 articles the week previous, one on Hans Christian Anderson which I posted last time and another on the Royal Signal Corps. So I'm saved!

Novel Update
Well, I've completed proofing the first draft, so now onto the second and hopefully off to an agent or publisher in the next four weeks. Thats the plan anyhow, but you know what happens to my plans. The main problem I have is managing the thing on the PC. I'm using the outline function at the moment which seems OK but a little... wieldy. I've heen looking at some software as but have not had the nerve to financially commit myself (especially as finances are as tight as they can be right now with the euro yo-yoing around) but am seriously considering spending few of my PayPal quids (earnt from Suite 101 money) on something. I've just got to take a chance.

Freelance Writing
I think most people who, when I tell them I'm a writer, have a particular image in their head of what it must be like. Sitting at home, surrounded by cups of tea, paper, books and looking aimlessly around for inspiration... and they'd be right! But seriously it is hard work - and often operates on the 80:20 rule - eighty percent of effort results in a 20 percent return, with the odds probably lower for such an amateur writer like myself. I have a sister, who has more than dabbled in an acting career and it's a bit like that - going for audition after audition until someone likes the look of you then wham!

Anyway, I must get back to my list of 'things to do' or my red pen will not be happily making lots of ticks later on. Such a satisfying action, ticking things off on a list. I know, I know...I need to get a life, but this one ain't so bad.

3 April 2009


Current Work: Drafting short story, outlining new novel, queries
Listening to: The dog whining at the window
Reading: Tripwire A Jack Reacher Novel by Lee Child

Losing Momentum
The one thing I'm learning fast about the writers life is that it's very easy to become distracted. I'm sure this is true of many 'proper' jobs but as a writer I think the tendency for distraction is probably a natural trait. So this morning I have changed my routine a little. Yesterday I became very distracted by a little domestic job I needed to do. It was so banal I can't even mention it here, but it took up a good couple of hours and then I didn't end up with the result I wanted! What I did get was cross. Cross with myself and extremly infuriated that I didn't do the things I wanted to do - WRITING!
I still suffer from this guilt thing when it comes to writing. But this morning I have banished the gremlin on my shoulder and have set out my tasks for the morning which are writing tasks, this blog being one of them. Then when, and only when, I have completed those will I allow myself the other distracting bits. It's working so far, but then it's only been 2 and a bit hours since I began.

Looking Ahead
We have a friend coming to stay for a few days next week, so I may be a little more than distracted, but in preparation I have already written and submitted an article for Suite 101 on Hans Christian Anderson. I just love his stories even now and if I lived closer to my granddaughter would really enjoy reading them to her.

1 April 2009


Current Work: Non-fiction, planning and yes, still editing...
Listening to: Lionel Ritchie, ooh it takes me back...
Reading: Tripwire A Jack Reacher Novel by Lee Child

Getting Noticed
Well, you could market yourself with a few silly pranks, but probably not the best way to impress a potential client. I had an email yesterday from a rather large copy writing company asking if I would be interested in doing a small assignment for them. Would I? Well yes, I would and I have replied in the positive. But I also asked how they came across my details, I'm just one of thousands and thousands. The brief is specific, because it relates to a) Italy, where I live b) Diabetes, from which my Man Friday suffers and so those are two reasons to answer the question why me? But also they got my name from a colleague who'd written with a request I couldn't help with and they passed my details on. They originally found me through a 'random Google search'. Scary or just the way of the modern world? Its not about a physical presence anymore, its a virtual one and you could be anyone you wanted. However, the thing is I'm not technical enough to increase my chances of being found on Google, although I know it can be done.

Review of Last Month
So we are at the start of a new month. I love it. just picture me rubbing my hands together, with a blank page in front of me entitled 'PLANS FOR APRIL', with my favourite fountain pen and a big smile on my face. It's soon filled with ideas, thoughts, actions and deadlines and then I look back over the last four weeks. Whoops, missed that one, never mind carry it forward... oops! another and another and you get the picture now. A page full of 'carry forwards' and 'must do's' in red ink! I've promised myself I'll get the red actions done first and then get on with the new plans but unfortunately as ever, I've been distracted!

Oh and I've just added my contribution to Suite 101, about The Royal Signal Corps, which was prompted by a photograph in the paper (an english one sent by my wonderful Pa in the UK).