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23 December 2010


Merry Christmas to you all and A Happy New Year. Taking a week off next week so see you all in 2011!

Don't Think Just Write

15 December 2010


Muse On the Run
My muse has up and left this week. Maybe it' the cold weather, maybe she's just in need of a rest. I know we all get down times and I guess this is mine. I'm determined not to let it get to me so I've been sorting all my writing projects out, updating submissions and re-looking at all my 'works in progress' especially my Monday Muses at Writers Abroad. So sometimes it's good that the Muse goes missing as it gives us time to reflect on what we have done and what we can maybe do. So after a very frustrating three days I'm beginning to smile again even though she hasn't returned. She will, it's just part of a writers life. No point in complaining to you lot anyway, because you all know what its like. Just wanted to tell you, it's OK, I'm OK and I will be back writing. Why? Because I know I want to and therefore I will and I'll take a piece of my own advice which I share on each blog...
Don't Think Just Write!

8 December 2010


Emma by Jane Austen
I noted that in the latest edition of Writers News, a first edition of Jane Austen's novel 'Emma' is going up for auction at Sotheby's this month with an estimated £100,000 price tag. By nature, I'm a bit of a researcher so I thought I'd dig around a little on first editions. After all, it's a lot of money for one book, one very old book but one of great standing nevertheless. When I typed my query into Google, the first hit was a link to the Mail on-line dating back to June 2008. A first edition of this novel had then been sold at auction for a staggering £180,000. 
I continued to dig and discovered that although there is no record of how many first editions there would have been, it was probably no more than a thousand copies. 'Emma' has been heralded as one of Austen's finest works so it's no wonder that fans  of her work would pay a princely sum to get their hands on a copy, even if they could source one at a fifth of the price they go for at auction. It made me wonder who would be paying that kind of money and what did they expect in return? Perhaps nothing. Perhaps if you have that kind of resource available for a book which probably needs some kind of ongoing protection to preserve it, then you don't need to explain your motives. 
Why am I pondering the unponderable I hear you asking? Well as Writers Abroad has just published its first edition of short stories, it made me wonder if, in years to come, Sotheby's would be clambering to get hold of a prized copy. After all, to date, only 30 have been published, making them rarer than hens teeth. No? You don't agree? Perhaps not, but one can have dreams you know...

It's good to be back, by the way and I'm looking forward to celebrating the highs of 2010 and planning the future for 2011.

Don't Think Just Write

1 December 2010


Writers Abroad Anthology in Print
Yes, that's right. The Writers Abroad Anthology of Short Stories can be purchased in hard copy (that's a real book to most of us) from Lulu. Although the Anthology is available for free download as an E book from the Writers Abroad Home Page, we couldn't resist the temptation to produce our very precious production in print. The exercise itself has been very interesting and despite some hair pulling moments a very pleasurable experience and one I wouldn't mind doing again. Lulu offers a 'print on demand' service and therefore doesn't have thousands of copies sat in some warehouse. This can make the end product a little more expensive than normal purchases but not much and we were also provided with a free ISBN number so can put it up on Amazon and other related sites. Lulu allows you to set a profit too, so you can make money out of your publications if you wish to. 

This isn't something we wanted to do as our Anthology was produced in support of National Short Story Week but that is food for thought. However, publishing through Lulu does have other issues you need to bear in mind, the biggest being that you have to also be the marketing department as well as the editor, designer and publisher. So if you want to make some return on your efforts (there is no other cost involved and of course Lulu takes a cut from all sales anyway) then you really need to consider this carefully. 
So if you want to purchase a copy follow this link to Lulu and please, tell me what you think!

Don't Think Just Write

22 November 2010


Writers Abroad First Anthology Published

Yes, after months of reading stories from all around the world, written by ex-pat writers we have finalised our first Anthology of Short Stories. This has been an experience on many levels. Not only have we at Writers Abroad learnt a lot more about the craft of writing, we have also expanded our knowledge of the other parts of the process, like editing and publishing. Some of them have been painful lessons and the technological learning curve has been immense, but on the whole it has been one satisfying experience and one which I personally, would do all over again.
Overall we had 66 entries and have selected 29 of the finest stories which all went through a selection and editing process. All the stories are fictional but based on real life experiences as an ex pat. The collection total over 45 thousand words and the images for the front cover were supplied by Writers Abroad members. All of this in support of National Short Story Week which launched today. So pop on over to Writers Abroad and download your own PDF copy for free or flip through the whizzy on line version also available on our home page. 
Sit Back and Enjoy the Read!

Don't Think Just Write

2 November 2010


Is The Place to Be
Sorry all of you who do read this blog on a regular basis but I have been around, just lost my way a little bit. So apologies are in order.
Yesterday was the start of NaNoWriMo and there is a small group of us on Writers Abroad who have got the 'fever'. On the first day between the five of us we managed to pen ten thousand words (yes, 10,000 - that's an awful lot of zeros!) You can check out my  progress at my blog, Louise Charles.

One of my main projects at the moment is finalising our Anthology in support of National Short Story Week later this month. We had 66 stories from all corners of the world and have chosen 29 to appear in the final production. We have a total word count of just over 45,000 words and we have 29 super stories by authors at all stages of their writing life. It's been a learning curve to say the least and those that were chosen by our selection groups were for the following reasons;

  1. Attention paid to the guidelines for submission, most importantly that they were short stories of fiction
  2. A tale well told over a short period of time
  3. Stories which made us laugh, cry or other but grabbed our reading attention
My thanks must go to Writers Abroad members who have been unfaltering in their support of this project and particularly the three who help with the overall management of the project. You know who you are! But it is not over yet. I have to produce the Ebook which will be available free to download from various sites. Also there are many of us who just long to hold the printed proper thing in our hands so I'm going to have ago at publishing it through Lulu. Which is a first for me and for that I owe a lot of thanks to a certain WA member who currently lives in Wales.

Finally, Writers Abroad in its on line form, is one year old this week, so its bubbly and cake all round. Happy Birthday Writers Abroad and thanks and good wishes for another year of writing success to all our members.

Don't Think Just Write

20 October 2010


I'll Be Back on Track Soon
Family matters mean I'm a little behind with my blogs and writing projects at the moment so please bear with me. Will be catching up very soon, with lots of news on the writing front...

Don't Think Just Write

6 October 2010


The Flip Side of the Coin
As regular readers will know (I like to think that there are some at least...) Writers Abroad is supporting National Short Story Week. We put out a call for submissions of short stories for an anthology that we plan to release in November in conjuction with this event. The theme of the short stories was Expat life, based on the fact that all of us are expat writers.  We have had a number of submissions and with the deadline only just over a week away, I am expecting (fingers and toes duly crossed) that we will get a flurry leading upto the 15 October. That's how I work (and many WA members I have learnt), always flying by the seat of my pants. 

The one thing this experience has taught me so far is that the life of an editor is not an easy one. I've read this statement more than once and always thought how bad could it be reading stories for a living? Well if the stories are well written, that's fine. And I'm not saying that all of the submissions so far have been bad. But when you've read another submission which you either don't understand, or the story is clearly a ramble of real life and not fictionalised you start to become a little frustrated. 

I cringe when I think of the stories I sent out in my early writing life. We've all done it, that's how we learn and develop our craft. I would dare any writer to claim that they were perfect from day one and many of us will never be perfect. That's not the point. Writing is about exploring our style, improving our presentation, learning new ways of saying old things and if we all were so wonderful, it would be a very odd place to be. What is clear is that there is always some good writing and there will always be that which isn't so good. If everyone stopped writing just because an editor thought their submission was crap then there wouldn't be any books or stories to read. The key skill for an editor is to be able to convert 'crap' into some kind of constructive criticism.
So next time I submit something, I'm going to view it from the editors eye before pressing send, in the knowledge that this might be the umpteenth manuscript that they've read that day, and challenge them to find something positive in my words.

Don't Think Just Write

1 October 2010


In Just Thirty Days
Can't be done I hear you say? Well, I beg to differ but it can and thousands do every year during November. National Write A Novel in a Month (NaNoWriMo for short) kicks off in four weeks time. This increasingly popular event invites writers to write a first draft (and draft it will be) in a month. They set the word count target at 50,000 which some might challenge its qualification as a novel, but all the same its a heck of a lot of words. This will be the third year I've participated and the second year I've actually joined the site to do so. The first time I used it to complete a story I'd started, then put down and picked up again. I'm still working on it now, check out my progress at my blog 'Writer in Progress' . Last year I wrote in excess of 70,000 words on my second novel. This year I'm planning to a little more preparation in terms of plot and characters, so on Day One I'm ready to dive into my creative pool and immerse myself for the month.
For those of you who throw your hands up in the air and say it can't be done, well, of course it can. If you divide the word count over thirty days it works out at around 1600 words (and a bit) a day. It's like the old project management adage 'you can't eat an elephant in one day' but you can if you break it up into sizeable chunks.
Let me know if you're going to take up the challenge and we can become 'buddies' on site and spur each other on and have a toast at the end - for one thing is for sure - you will have written something at the end of it...
Don't Think Just Write

22 September 2010


And Receiving Feedback
Most writers seek feedback on their writing. Certainly if you are hoping for publication, the biggest feedback you can have is the number of books sold. But this is equally true of articles, short stories and even flash fiction. Having your work read by other writers who can provide succinct and constructive critiques before submission could mean the difference between the slush pile and the coveted letter of acceptance. 
But many of us (and I'm talking from a personal perspective here)sometimes find it difficult to accept some of the feedback. I suppose it depends on the way things are going, writing or life wise, but sometimes a comment, meant to help, throws you into a fit of the wobblies and a dip in your confidence as a writer. This is, I would imagine, the same for anyone receiving feedback on their performance. I recall the dreaded day of appraisals when working in the real world, with managers who wouldn't know the meaning of constructive feedback if they fell over it! But if we want to develop ourselves as writers, we need to continue to seek and respond to feedback in a way that benefits our writing. We then may move from being a pedestrian writer to growing into our own writing style and being recognised as such. 

Since creating Writers Abroad, a writing community for Ex-pat writers I have grown a thousand fold in terms of my writing. And I will keep repeating this claim because the feedback I have received has resulted in being my work being short listed and published. And it's not just me, other members too. I must say that I am far more gracious with my fellow writers comments as they understand what it feels like, the scrutiny, rather like an audition for a movie but in virtual terms. They understand the hard work; the occupation of your world by characters that may need to be ditched; that perfect description which 'tells' instead of 'shows'; the scene which although funny, adds nothing to the story and has to go. So although their feedback is honest and direct, it is countered with suggestions, thoughts and lots of  nitpicks which I happily go along with (though I probably need prodding about cutting that scene).
So for what its worth, here is my advice for taking it on the nose in terms of feedback on your writing...

  • Accept that it is normal you are going to feel emotional about parts of your story. Having read the feedback, put it aside for a few days and let it stew. You will see the sense.
  • Keep an open mind about characters, scenes and settings. Listen to the feedback, see it through a readers eye.
  • Try out the suggestions and see for yourself. Never delete your first drafts, you can always go back if you feel it doesn't really work.
  • Put the feedback into practice with your other work. Writing critiques can often pick up on areas that you may be weak on. Use it to develop your craft.
  • Accept that feedback is part of your personal development as a writer. For me it is far more valuable than attending a course or reading a 'how to' book. 
So don't banish your writing ego, it's the part which makes you the writer you are. But no ego is perfect and that goes for its writing too.

Don't Think Just Write

17 September 2010

Back In (Writing) Business

And At My Desk
It's been a long and hot summer, as you can see by my absence. I am so glad that autumn is on it's way and am even enjoying the storms and consistent rain we are experiencing at the moment... after temperatures of over 40 degrees, my brain is starting to function a little more as normal (whatever normal maybe).

But I haven't been slacking, promise... I've launched a new website for my fiction persona, Louise Charles along with a new blog. "Why oh Why" I hear you cry? Well, I have a number of fictional pieces all 'works in progress' and not getting much further than that. And I made a decision over the summer to commit myself to getting these WIP's into shape, or rewritten and to make that commitment as public as I possibly can. So the new website has a page dedicated to each novel, with a brief blurb about it and regular weekly progress reports will be posted on the web. I'm not sure I can post up chapters, due to copyright issues, but I may post up the odd edited excerpt for comments, criticism and a careful scrutiny...but I'm not promising. What I have promised to myself, is that I owe it to myself to invest the time in polishing and finishing these pieces. And the other pressing issue is that NaNoWriMo month is not far away and I have another story prickling at the tips of my fingers and so I need a plan... or as I've often been heard to say - JFDI!
So please visit my new website 'Louise Charles - Writer in Progress and the blog 'Writer in Progress' and keep me company on my quest.

Don't forget the Writers Abroad is seeking fictional short stories for an anthology of Expat Life. These stories can be drawn from real experience and written into story format of up to 2,500 words. Check out the guidelines on the website....

Have a good weekend...

Don't Think Just Write

13 August 2010


Or Just Serendipitous?

I'm not generally a superstitious person. And I'm certainly not one of those writes who has to go through some kind of ritual or have a favourite gonk that needs to sit on my desk. My grandmother was extremely superstitious. So much so my mother had to change the month she'd planned her wedding, 'marry in May, rue the day!' As my parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary two years ago, she may well have been write. 
So where is all this going, I hear you shout. Well, I'll tell you. Today I received a letter from the editor of My Weekly, a magazine for short stories. I'd sent a story to them a very long time ago. So long in fact, that I hadn't recorded it on my submission tracker (don't get too excited - just read index card). Anyway, the editor liked my story and said 'it has a wonderful, romantic yet real atmosphere...' and that she wants to publish it. My third short story to be published. And after a bit of a lull with a couple of short listed pieces that had me checking the results page every five seconds, very welcome news indeed. It is just an indescribable feeling. I know as a writer, I should describe it.... it feels like a large piece of Cadbury's chocolate melting on the tongue  - pure bliss (shame we can't get Cadbury's out here in Italy).
And the link to superstitions? Well, I only realised much later today that it is Friday 13th. The day and date many people don't get out of bed for. Well in my book, Friday the Thirteenth is a great day and I'm going to honour it well - I've suddenly become very superstitious.
Have a great writing weekend... 

Don't Think Just Write

6 August 2010


Well, It Should Be...Shouldn't It?
August is often termed as one of those 'silly months' like Christmas time when nobody is expected to get anything done. Isn't that right? I've been using that excuse about my writing for the last 6 days so it must be right. I think about writing. I think about writing most of the day but manage to do anything but write. I don't know what it is but it's annoying and I'm just going to have go into a corner and give myself a hard time. There are so many things I could be writing about, Christmas for one as now is the time if you want to write something seasonal. But  when it's 30 odd degrees and the whole of the country are on holiday from chemists, to newsagents to restaurants (well for Italy that's the case). It is the season when the city folk from Milan, Rome and Florence shake off their D & G (I'm told that's the correct way to refer said designer of 'have to have' clothes) don a sun-dress and shorts and head for their homes in the country. Houses which are empty for eleven months of the year come alive with chatter and laughter and all over the country on Sunday 15th August will be celebrating' Ferragosta', one of the most important catholic holidays. According to those in the know, this is the day that the Virgin was 'assunta in cielo', or in other words, taken to heaven to be with  her son Jesus. It's a day for families and for celebration. So there is plenty of scope for a story to be told there in a number of ways. There is always a story to tell, whatever month or season it may be. So next week, I should be reporting on what literary delights I have penned...right?
Don't Think Just Write

Writers Abroad - Connecting Writers All Over the World

30 July 2010


Are Big Distractions
As many of you who may bother to read my ramblings will know - I've had a very sick computer. Considering it was over 6 years old (which must mean millennia in computing terms) I suppose I've had my penny's worth. So yesterday a lovely new PC arrived and I've (well me and my Man Friday) spent the last how many hours transferring, downloading, getting tetchy and sitting back and marvelling at all the new things. So have I written? Not a lot as you might imagine.

I did manage to upload a piece on 'How To Create an Online Writers Group' the new How To website who are looking for authors. One of my pals, Alyson, on WritersAbroad nudged me about a competition they had. And I have a list of pieces I wanted to submit by the end of the month. What? That's tomorrow you say?! Well, as usual the damn deadlines come around quicker than I can say 'edit' and that's several more opportunities I've missed. How can I fulfil my ambition to get published if I don't submit? Well I can't and neither can you. So what are you doing reading this blog? Get on and get that manuscript polished until it shines and then hit the Send button. Quick, Go On!

Don't Think Just Write

23 July 2010

Writers Abroad and National Short Story Week

Call For Submissions
As I detailed in my previous blog, Writers Abroad - my on-line writing community for ex-pats -are supporting National Short Story Week and are seeking submissions for an anthology. The title of the anthology will simply be 'Writers Abroad' and the them is ex-pat life, the pain and the pleasures. Any length up to 2,500 words is acceptable so we are hoping that we get mixture of flash fiction and short stories which will make it fun and interesting to read. Lorraine Mace has agreed to write our preface and WA member Greg McQueen will be helping with our marketing and publishing. 
This is our first anthology and it has just occurred to me that the publication (November 2010) will fall on the first annual 'anniversary' of the Writers Abroad website. So very apt and very fitting I think. We are all very excited at the prospect of this writing adventure and are looking forward to receiving some wonderful stories of ex-pat life. Follow this link to the Call For Submissions and get writing!

Don't Think Just Write

16 July 2010

National Short Story Week

Lets All Shout About Short Stories

Writers Abroad, has agreed to support National Short Story Week in November. We are currently planning an anthology of short stories, written by expats on the theme of expat life.

National Short Story Week is an annual awareness event. Its aim is to focus the attentions of the public and the media on the short story and short story writers, publishers and events. It is intended as a framework for promoting literary events and publications at a national and local level. And we as a virtual group have been encouraged by the supporters to participate.

The aims of National Short Story Week are:

1) to get more people reading and listening to short stories;

2) to get more people writing short stories;

3) to develop creative and commercial opportunities for individuals and organisations involved in the short story form.

We shall be putting out a Call for Submissions next week so check for details on our site 'Writers Abroad' or our Facebook page or email us on for further information. Exciting times ahead.

In terms of other work, it has been slow. Partly the heat…it’s hitting 40º most days by 11am and partly my ancient PC. Read my blog on Writers Abroad to find out more. And I had a particular cutting rejection land in my Inbox last night. I still haven’t recovered and it has sort of put out my fire. But like a Phoenix, I shall rise from the ashes and write again. Just let me finish my sulk first.

Don't Think Just Write

9 July 2010


To Cut or Not to Cut?

Writing, as we all know, is a process of sorts. It needs to follow some kind of order, which for the largest part can be decided by the individual writer. But all writers have to edit. As an apprentice writer of some years standing, I am only just beginning to understand this part of the process. 

Like many, I see my first draft as a kind of sacred script which needs gentle handling and the utmost care. Since joining Writers Abroad I have discovered, thanks to the very constructive feedback from members, that the first draft always needs a second re-write, often and third and very occasionally a fourth. I know deep in the recesses of my mind that there isn't a writer out there who can produce a perfect first draft and it is that piece which will end up on the bookshelves and finally on the readers lap. I'm not that stupid. But I suppose what I didn't grasp was the extent to which the first draft very well might change. Huge sections of text, dialogue, back story, imagery and characters may well need to be slashed and burned. My fingers hover nervously over the delete key and I break out into a hot sweat with a wildly beating heart (see what I mean) as I make the decision - 'off with their heads!' Once I've done said deed I panic that I've cut the only bit of the story which was any good. However, I do trust the expertise from my fellow writers and the thing is they don't just glibly pull the story to pieces, they tell you what bits are good, which parts made them laugh or cry, which bits they didn't understand and which bits they think should be carefully put away - somewhere else. And to top all of that, many members are great grammarians (is that the right word?) who can spot a misplaced apostrophe, or a wild adjective or even a pleonasm (I didn't know what that was until a few weeks ago) which all help to shape the story. 

So whether it's editing or rewriting, I finally understand that stories whatever length, need a bit of care, attention and sometimes a bit of a beating into shape. And do I have any evidence for my preaching this week? Well, I've just been informed that my story Smiles and Heartaches has just been short-listed for the Flash500 competition, along with a story of another member from Writers Abroad. 
So go ahead, Slash and Burn!

Also this week, I've posted a book review Louise Charles' blog on the last book of the Millennium Trilogy, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest. And having now got my editing brain into action I have been setting up a new website to track the progress of the re-writing process for my four (yes four) novels in progress... watch this space for further details.

Don't Think Just Write

25 June 2010


I Think!

Finding the time to write has been a little fraught just lately. I don't think I've really got back on track since the wipe out by the thunderstorm. This was followed by a trip to the UK to see loved ones and then a return home to one of the coldest and wettest Summer Solstice (is there a plural I should have used?) I have ever known! But I'm happy to report that we are now basking in some lovely warm sunshine, but on Monday I wondered if we'd ever see light again. What is going on in the world? I blame the Ash Cloud. Last year it was the terramoto (earthquake) in Abruzzo - the earth is a little unbalanced at the moment. My writing world however is levelling out a little, thank goodness. 

Anyway I've spent the week catching up with emails, editing, critiquing and proof reading duties which needed to be done. I've also caught up with most of my Writers Abroad pals, many of whom have had interruptions, welcome and not so welcome, so I'm not alone in my struggles. I've just finished editing four short stories for submission by the end of the month (whisper: which is next week!) and now I'm catching up with my blog. I haven't completed a Suite 101 article for ages, to be honest I'm a bit bored with it. However, I was really pleased to receive a comment on the article I did on alternatives to Ning. 

I hope your writing endeavours are fruitful and if not... keep on trying!

Don't Think Just Write

8 June 2010


Storms and Sojourns

A big summer storm wiped out our internet broadband connection (and the surrounding village) last week. So I was back to crusty old dial up. Well I gave in after a few attempts as it was just so slow and I mean, very slow. But it has had its benefits, this enforced spell without the internet. It has meant that I’ve had a little more time (well, okay, a lot) to get some actual writing done. It really struck me how distracting the internet can be and I thought I was fairly good at having my ‘online’ time but now I realise I wasn’t really. If I was stuck on a storyline, or there was something I subconsciously had put in the ‘too difficult’ pile then I would tell myself it is time to do some research on net. Quite a reasonable suggestion given the fact I don’t have access to a library here. However, when an hour or two has passed and my Man Friday knocks on the door with a cup of tea, or even later with a large G&T, I realise that I hadn’t done a spot of writing. Not one paragraph, or teeny-weeny little sentence, not a word, not even a thought. And the research? Well I often can’t recall what it was I had started to research in the first place. So when I next have a day like that, I think I may well just switch the router off and pretend that I can’t connect with the ether, and get on with some writing.

Which reminds me, this morning I started a new journal. Most mornings I try and spend at least 20 minutes free writing in a large A4 hard backed, lined journal. Using a favourite fountain pen, I prop myself up in bed and use a prompt, a first line, a proverb, an image or even a dream or an eavesdropping to start to write. I usually pen about four pages, which for me is about 500 words and I often use some of the entries to develop short stories, or create a character so it’s a very beneficial part of my writing day. There is nothing like opening that new journal and seeing the ink fill the page for the very first time, I love it and with over 10 full journals, I guess I have done for some time.

Before the enforced blackout from the internet, I did manage to upload a new submission to Suite 101 on the Festa Della Repubblica – Republic Day in Italy, which is a national holiday, held on 2nd June. I also blogged a non-fiction book review on ‘Discovering the Writer Within’ on Louise Charles - follow the link on the right hand side of the page.

Happy Writing.

Don't Think Just Write

Check out what we're up to at Writers Abroad - The Writing Community for Expats

28 May 2010


But It's Great to Be Back
Yes, apologies for my brief absence. Very special friends finally made it over to see us following a false start due to the Ash Cloud. Needless to say my laughter muscles and my liver needs a rest, but it has been a fab week. And our conversations and catch ups have given me plenty of writing fodder for the development of stories, so all I will say to my now absent friends is watch out when a writer is about! Have you ever played a  game called Cranium? It is great entertainment, especially after a glass of wine or two, and tends to bring out the performer in everyone and by the morning after they have usually forgotten. So if you do have the opportunity,  remember to take notepad and pen to jot down some of the happenings and you'll find that you have some wonderful character sketches to develop. 
And finally our fourth grandchild made her appearance today, a little late but very welcome, well done to Charley, Rich and Ivy and welcome to the world, Sukie Ella! 

Not had chance to do a book review this week, but check out my latest Suite 101 submission on tasty Italian Soups for Spring and Summer. 

Don't Think Just Write

14 May 2010


To a New and Exciting Home
Yep, if you have been following the saga of our search for a new site you will be pleased to know that it is finally at an end. Our old site (on Ning) is now defunct - well it will be by the end of play today. We have moved to Spruz, a great platform because it has many of the things we liked about Ning and much, much more. I have seen more activity in the last couple of weeks because we are now settled, which is great and means that my fellow writers are writing! 

We have some new members, Vanessa and Marit joined us just before the bombshell about finding a new home dropped and have been most supportive. David, Greg and Leanne joined during the move and so will be making their presence felt on the new site.

Many of our members are busy working on projects for the Flash 500 Fiction competition in June and we have had some fantastic, funny, quirky, historical and sorrowful pieces submitted so perhaps Writers Abroad will make an appearance on the short-list again! In the first competition we had three members featured, so it goes to show that feedback and constructive criticism can really shape your writing. 

And I have to mention in despatches that Alyson has got through to the next round of the Brit Writers Award, a very prestigious competition which had over twenty-one thousand entries! So we are all willing her on to being placed and if not - it's the taking part that counts!

I have submitted a book review on The Remains of the Day on Louise Charles, uploaded my latest Suite 101 article on Two Takes on Trifles, found an international market to plug my short story (published first by Peoples Friend) and have tidied up four other stories for re-submission later today. So normal service is being resumed, thank goodness!

Don't Think Just Write

Visit Writers Abroad at their new and exciting home!

7 May 2010


But Now Back on Track and On-line
I've been a bit absent lately so many apologies. As some of you may know I have been looking for a new home for my writers community for ex-pats, Writers Abroad. This follows the decision by our current host, Ning, to ditch free sites from July. Well I must admit at first I found the task rather daunting, after three months of finding my way around our site, I was getting used to it. It felt comfortable, not quite like the old armchair next to the fire, but getting there. So after my initial panic and fit of the abdabs, I sat down and decided to approach it like I would any other project. Research, Plan, Review and Get Going! And this week I have opened up our new home to the members of Writers Abroad who are as I speak, having a play and visiting the various rooms, testing out the furniture and generally getting a good feel of the place. I hope we have as much fun, support and success as we have at our previous home and I for one am looking forward to catching up with my very distinguished writing pals there. 

So with this and the other things that life throws in the path of a struggling writer, I have found it difficult to find the space to do my writing. It has been a little like the wilderness in terms of words, and what words I did have seemed to get blown away or interrupted by this and other distractions. I had such a plan for May to which I shall return to and see what I can salvage - I've already amended a piece of flash fiction (A Slip of the Tongue - short-listed for the first  Flash 500 ) and packed it off to another market. So things are feeling calm again and it's good to be home.
I've also managed to write a book review about The Rain Before it Falls by Jonathon Coe on Louise Charles and just uploaded my latest Suite 101 article on Free Social Networking Sites - well I had to put all that experience down in some kind of writing project!

So onwards and upwards and Buona Fortuna to all my writing pals at Writers Abroad!

Don't Think Just Write

23 April 2010


Can Sometimes be a Steep One!

As you know, I am looking for a new home for Writers Abroad. Which is a bit of a shame as I was just getting my way around the first one, adding gadgets, learning HTML (it's the code that lets you do all the formatting bit like bullet points, bold, font styles and wasn't always automatic on the site) and all sorts of techie stuff I never thought I could do. I suppose it is all linked to writing in a vague sort of way and now this week I've been researching some of the alternatives we might reconsider for our relocation. 
Some are very similar to what we have now and have been quick to jump aboard the 'offer a Ning alternative' wagon with migration packages to ease the pain. Others are very different all together with a whole load of tricks, tasters and teasers to entice someone looking for a new community. I have learnt a whole load of computer-related technical terms (most of which I can't remember) and have eye strain from peering at the small print about the charges for all those little 'extra's. My main aim is to keep it simple.

So my learning ability has been tested to its very extremes in terms of the technical age we writers operate within. Don't get me wrong, its the technology which has enabled our group of writers to connect and share  from places all over the world; you don't get that opportunity in your traditional writing group! And I have always claimed that I like to step out of my comfort zone once in a while. A (small) part of me is actually quite enjoying it if were to be honest, it's a challenge, a problem to be overcome and overcome it we shall, but I can't wait to sit down with my pad and pen and just scribble. B

I have been doing some writing so check out my latest book review on Suite Francaise by Irene Nemiroskvy and my latest edition to Suite 101 on the Italian Liberation Day which takes place on Sunday. A day off in remembrance of all those in Italian Resistance Movement, whose heroics in such difficult times puts everything into perspective.

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16 April 2010


There is No Such Thing as A Free Lunch
Unfortunately for us poor, impoverished writers. Ning, the social networking site and home of Writers Abroad, is apparently pulling the plug on its 'free' option and concentrating on 'premium services'. I'm gutted having spent a large amount of my life trying to get the site looking half way professional and easy to use. But it's Friday and it's not 5 o'clock but seven here in Italy so I'm off for a large G&T or two! I'll get over it and pick my self up, like all kinds of bad news on the writing front you can't stay down for long. 'Onwards and Upwards!' as one of my fellow Writers Abroad said.

Anyway check out my latest book review on The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruis Zafon on Louise Charles and my latest recipe on Suite 101 - Marinated Lamb with Fig Salsa - another Italian delight.

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9 April 2010

Writers Abroad Rocks!

Sweet Success for Members
The week started off well on Sunday when we had our on-line Writers Abroad meeting chaired by Jany  who set an interesting writing exercise on characterisation - using the Easter Bunny for our inspiration! Although none of us have yet  dared to share our thoughts, I'm sure we've had many ranging from the pure loony to the very dark and mysterious. 
Then three of us were notified that we had been short-listed for the Flash Fiction 500 competition run by writer Lorraine Mace. Alyson, Jill and myself have been selected amongst twenty five for the next stage. All of these stories had been critiqued by Writers Abroad members.
Then today we end the week of just perfectly, with Nicola winning the Writelink 'Lighten the Dark' competition followed by Jill who came second!
Other recent member news includes Rob who has had a short story published in the latest Jam publication, Jany won a 'best in Germany' poem accolade and Lynne has had two queries accepted for Writing Magazine.
All in all not a bad success rate, so rock on Writers Abroad! 

What a great end to what I had thought was a slow week. Also, don't forget to check out my latest article on Home-made Chutneys for Suite 101 and a book review on Louise Charles All He Ever Wanted by Anita Shreve.

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2 April 2010

Just A Quickie

Happy Easter!

It's not a bank holiday over here in Italy - only Sunday and Monday are and no they don't have an extra day if the holiday falls on the weekend. Tough stuff you know! But anyway I've been busy but not sure what I've achieved. I have been learning HTML - clever stuff if you know how - and updating the Writers Abroad website today. Otherwise it's been a slow writing week unfortunately, but I have written every day. Which is something.
Anyway check out my latest addition to Suite 101 - An Italian Easter Cake with a difference! And my latest book review on The Girl with Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson on Louise Charles.

Have a lovely weekend and hope you all take some time out to do something enjoyable! Go on. Treat Yourself!

Don't Think Just Write

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26 March 2010


Great Support for Writers
What would we do without our family and friends who provide us  with their continued support? They pick us up when we are down, tell us how good we really are when we think we couldn't string a word together, never mind a sentence. They wait without toe tapping as you just have to make a note of something that flashed into your head and don't mind your 'absence' as you people watch. They bring you hot tea, cake and a large G and T waits tinkling at the bewitching hour. Well my Man Friday does anyway, so on this Friday I'd like to say thanks. I know that not every writer has such dedicated and committed support. 
Also just in case it hits the main news, a little bird tells me that  my Dad has been reported by WH Smiths for causing a ruction in his local store - fighting through the crowd of friends he'd ordered to purchase copies of the Peoples Friend. The less said ,better. But thanks Dad too!

This Week
I have submitted two short stories and one chapter of a novel for competitions and one short story to a magazine. I have also uploaded my latest article on Condiments for Curries to Suite 101. The rest of the time I have been editing, it's a slow but necessary job, but my eyes are spinning (and no, I haven't had that drink yet - won't be long yet!

Chin Chin!

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22 March 2010

The Lady and The Revamp

Just a Cheap Publicity Stunt?

I don't know if you watched the Channel 4 programme on the 'modernisation' of The Lady. Now we all know that The Lady is one of the oldest publications and most probably looks it. It has a dwindling but loyal readership (dwindling because I suspect of the grand ages of the readers) and the family which owns the old dowager has decided that they need to make it more business like. So they recruit Rachel Johnson - sister of Boris, London Mayor. Now Ms Johnson doesn't have much of a CV as an editor, she does write a regular column for a Sunday paper and has penned a novel, but I imagine she was probably hired because of her celebrity status and the potential for a sack load of publicity. 
It wasn't a pretty programme, the lack of basic human management skills (or even just basic communication skills) were astounding, I sat there with my mouth open for most of the time. I'm not saying that things don't need to change, but there are ways and means and throwing out the baby along with the bathwater has never, ever been effective. And I've read an old mag and the new 'modern' version. Neither really turn my bat at all; the old one was stuffy, vaguely musty and the new one is just full of celebrity women who have it all and yet have very little to offer the reader. And they are doing away with the short story. 
To top it all, Ms Johnson accused her employers (oh yes, this was like watching as episode of Big Brother but should have been called Big Business) of not being in the 'real world.' I wonder which world she belongs too? It certainly wasn't familiar to me. But in this day and age of celebrity and five seconds of fame, it wouldn't surprise me if Ms Johnson turns it round in her favour. Rather shallow and rather a shame I feel.
Just a personal opinion I might add.

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19 March 2010


Perseverance Pays...(and with a little help from my friends)

It has been a good week. After my flush of excitement on Monday (received a copy of my short story in The Peoples Friend) the next day I had another welcome surprise. I've begun just lately, to get a little reluctant to open my in-box  for 'Louise Charles'. Nothing but rejection ever seems to be sitting there. But on Tuesday the sun shone! A short story of mine has been accepted for an open anthology which will be published by Bridge House Publishing. The email said that there had been many submissions which makes it feel all that bit sweeter, although I did spare a thought for the poor writer, like me who was poised with a finger over the 'open mail' button. All I can say to them is keep on going, keep on writing. If you enjoy it why not? Life is full of good times and not so good times and everyone gets a wee fed up at times. Okay, sometimes we get very fed up. But little steps make a long journey and sometimes its hard to keep focused on the writing. But your time will come, if your'e determined and if you love what you are doing and you do it professionally. 
This particular story had been critiqued by the group from Writers Abroad, so a word of thanks must go to them too. And if you can find yourself a writing group or at the very least someone who can comment constructively on your writing. It's worth a weight in gold.

Oh and check out my latest edition to Suite 101,recipes for two lovely spreads for your breakfast table - Three Fruit Marmalade and Peanut Butter

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15 March 2010


Feels Soooo Good

Yep, I've just received my copy of Peoples Friend where my first short story 'Friends in High Places' has been published. I'm absolutely chuffed and even though they've changed the title (it was originally called A Room of My Own) but I'm not complaining. This story was actually accepted some time ago last year, lost and then resubmitted. I got paid in January and the story will be published in the March 27 edition of the magazine (under my fiction writing name  of Louise Charles - page 47). 
This is what makes my gremlin - who I talked about on my last blog - vanish into thin air. I know he'll be back but now I've got something to wave under his nose! 
And there are lots of members on Writers Abroad having lots of success so check out their stories at our great site.

Picture Courtesy of WebWeaver

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