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31 December 2009


Don't Think Just Write

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!

Happy Writing

23 December 2009


Don't Think Just Write

Just a quick entry to wish you all a Merry Festive Season whatever you are doing and where ever you may be.

Happy Writing

21 December 2009


Don't Think Just Write

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.

Happy Writing!

19 December 2009


Don't Think Just Write
Happens to me a lot...
Sorry didn't have time to blog. Making Xmas gifts for neighbours and stocking up for the snowy festivities. Will be back next week...

Happy Writing!

16 December 2009


Don't Think Just Write
Bedside Books

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 abr
oad 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...

Book Review

The Secret River by Kate Grenville

This is an historical novel set in the early 19th century. It centres around the life of an Englishman who does not have the best start in life but works hard on the river as a boatman. He marries the daughter of his boss, and life is feeling rosy. But of course, this doesn't last and William Thornhill had to resort to desperate measures to keep his family fed. By now he has a small child and another on the way. He is caught thieving and sentenced to death by hanging. Now his crime doesn't seem to fit the punishment and his wife, Sal, writes to a man who pleads for a change of heart on Will's behalf. The upshot is that he is given a one way ticket to Australia, along with boardage for his wife and child.

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


Don't Think Just Write
Current Work: Trying to find myself again, post NaNoWriMo and NaNoFiMo
Listening to: My Man Friday making a cuppa!
Reading: The Italian Quarter

Monday Blues
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!

Festive Meltdown
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


Don't Think Just Write

'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.
All in all not a bad week...

Happy Writing

9 December 2009


Don't Think Just Write

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?

Book Review
Is delayed... I'm almost at the end, but not quite. Patience is a virtue...

7 December 2009


Don't Think Just Write

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.

And Finally...
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


Don't Think Just Write

National Novel Finish Month

Yes, its true there is a site for those of us who don't think that 50k actually represents a finished novel and this site has been set up for people like me. As you know, I'm continuing to hack away at my daily writing target with a view to getting the 'The End' and I'm pleased I've found this. It helps just to provide that extra carrot (and the occasional stick) to get it done, though I've surprised myself with my continued commitment. Anyway here is the link to NaNoFiMo if anyone is interested and wait for it, there is also a place for those of use who want to get the editing done called NaNoEdMo! But it doesn't start until March and I'm not sure I can wait that long!

Three Cheers For... The ups and downs of a writers week

  • 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 :(

Happy Writing

2 December 2009


Don't Think Just Write

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.

Book Review

Well almost back to normal then...

Charlotte Gray By Sebastian Faulks

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.

Happy Writing