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27 January 2010


Is A Little Like Taking a Slow Walk
I'm afraid I can't claim the credit for this simile (is it a simile or something else, I never know...but my Man Friday will bust a gut laughing if I've made yet another Mrs Malaprop!). But whatever the fancy word maybe, the sentiment is so right. I've been editing my second novel, this is the first edit where you think 'what on earth was I thinking about when I wrote that?' I have more red pen marks than words printed and the toner on the poor printer has given up on life. But it is quite an exciting part, however tortuous it may be. For me, it is the real writing bit (though I love the freedom of just writing without thinking), the part where you really start to shape the story, kill off some characters who just don't fit (well never kill them off, put them away and bring them to life in another story) and the time when you actually read the story from start to finish. The advice I've read is to edit in big chunks of time. I don't know about you but I find that really difficult because I'm thinking so much about all the red pen marks! So small and often is my preferred method - what's yours? 
Although it feels like an insurmountable task, it actually is just part of the process but also a huge step towards the goal of publication. (I wish!). 

Oh and due to the extended deadline, I had to just get something submitted for the Haiti cause. So I cut down a long story submission down to 1000 words and have just submitted it. It's not the result that matters, it's the taking part...

Don't Think Just Write

25 January 2010


On My Desk: 1 novel first edit, drafts of 3 short stories,1 novel in progress, two non-fiction pieces and a list of must do's for the Writers Abroad Website!

On My Reading Table: Strip Jack Naked - a Rebus novel by Ian Rankin
Listening to: Nada, the noise in my head is enough

Getting Things Done
We can be our own worst enemies sometimes. Well I can. I'm all for setting myself pretty tough targets, though I'm not so sure it is always the best way. I think the more busy I (think I) am the slopppier  I become and the more sloppier I become, the more agitated. So a promise to myself. Leave a bit of breathing space and... breathe. Hence this is a small post and to be fair, its freezing in my office, the mist has obscured most of the view from the window and I can hear My Man Friday lighting the fire... so writer will travel upwards where it's warmer with a pile of paper editing. Much more sense methinks and I'll soon be able to feel my fingers!
Don't Think Just Write

22 January 2010


Is Essential
I regularly diarise and follow up queries I have sent but haven't received a 'yes' or a 'no thank you' to. Sometimes I still get nothing back which is fine and I leave it at that. But sometimes it pays off and you hit the inbox at just the right time. I followed up a submission I made last July (yes that's July 2009). First the piece was delayed because the editor got swine flu and quite understandably so. I followed up in October but hadn't heard anything and in my January, New Year Brush Sweeps Clean kind of way, followed up again last week. She had lost everything pre Christmas on her PC and was desperate for copy! Well, not that desperate it is a good article (I say bravely!).

Three Cheers For - The Ups and Downs of My Writing Week

  • Another rejection for All Will Be Well. I've decided to shelve finding it a home for now. Having gone through the editing process with my second novel has provided me with some insight which I didn't have for the first one. So maybe I'll dust it down later in the year.
  • An article accepted for Country Kitchen on Wartime Diet
  • On target with completing Work in Progress the Good Life - have put the Saxon piece on hold as I've been finishing this one for the last 12 months! About 5000 words written this week
  • Almost finished editing The Promise...
  • A third article submitted to Constant Content and the second one has been sold!
  • Two articles submitted to Suite 101, a book review on The Street Lawyer by John Grisham and a recipe, Thai Chicken Curry - a favourite in this household!
  • Draft article for submission to the Oldie - being checked out by one of my Writers Abroad mates, thanks Paola!
  • Searching for a piece that might be suitable for the Haiti Appeal for 100 short stories. The deadline is on Monday so its pretty tight
  • Three queries submitted to The New Writer, Natural Health and Overseas Living
  • Editing of academic papers for Leadership in Health Services - things are looking good with submissions for this year!
Well, that's all for now folks, need to fly as my young Italian boy is due for help with his English homework.
Ciao for Now!

Don't Think Just Write

20 January 2010


Could Pay Off
I have written to date over 100 articles which have been published on Suite 101. The pay isn't fantastic, but it helped to structure my non-fiction writing and I'm not in the position of turning my nose up to a few extra Euros in the coffers. Some of these articles are now two years old, so I have picked four of the most popular, which by the way are management type articles, and have set myself the task of revamping them and submitting them to Constant Content. This site accepts articles, you set a price and condition of use and then you wait for someone to buy them. I've read quite a bit about this site and the main message seemed to be that it took forever to get a purchase but that persistence would pay off. And this week after only my second submission of copy, I received an email to say that someone had purchased it! Well, I was chuffed as you can imagine, so its given me the motivation to keep trying. Again, its not big bucks but as they say 'look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves'. (or the Euro's will).
So never write off an article, brush it down, tart it up and seek an alternative place for it to rest for a while.

Don't Think Just Write

18 January 2010


Current Work: Still Editing - never an easy job
On My Bedside Table: Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett and On Writing by Stephen King
Listening to: Cats licking their dinner plates clean...

Economical Words
Our next writing challenge for Writers Abroad is a piece of flash fiction of just 500 words for submission to a competition. Now the  theme is an open one, so the world is the writers oyster, so to speak. I've not done a lot of 'short' writing before. And flash is a lot shorter than short. However, it is, as always providing me with a few morsels of learning which I'm sure is good for my writing soul. Firstly it really is showing me how every little word counts. I don't think my style is flowery but I know that I often use words I don't need. Secondly and probably related to the first point, is that it makes you jump right into the action. No time for background or what was happening last Sunday. It's wham, bam!. Thirdly I think it helps with the beginning, middle and end thing. If you can't tie up the ends by the five hundredth word - cut off the ends! Finally I think flash fiction can really help with developing skills of short sentences and specifically when writing dialogue. I'm not saying that I've cracked it, but it made me think about all of these things. Having said all that, it's not my preferred style but then comfort zones are made to be invaded. Aren't they?
Don't Think Just Write

15 January 2010


Is Great For The Writing Soul!
I've just found out that one of my articles published in Writers Forum in October has had a response published in their Letters Section (February). The reader wanted to thank me for providing her with the inspiration and the confidence to write and I feel very touched that she took the time and effort. It made me think about the reasons I write. It's not just getting the words down on paper, or battling with a character or thinking of some new way to spice up some old thoughts. It is about being read, about sharing your experience, whether fact or fiction, and when you receive positive feedback on your work instead of the slap of rejection, it's good for the confidence. So thank you.

Three Cheers For - The Ups and Downs of My Writing Week
After a slow beginning, I got tough with myself and set some daily deadlines and targets. And I think they have paid off... see what you think.

  • Websites and Blogs all given a bit of a New Year dusting - have a look at Writing Pad and Louise Charles. Though I'm thinking of ditching the WP site and going for a Wordpress blog instead. Watch this space for further details.
  • Major editing and revamping of two academic articles for my Leadership in Health Services journal
  • Two Suite 101 submissions made one a book review on Charlotte Gray (a particular favourite of mine even better on the second reading) and a recipe (or two actually) Alternative Bangers and Mash.
  • A second article submitted to Constant Content which has been accepted, on Performance Management
  • Submitted the Writers Abroad challenge - 'We sat patiently...' 250 words for the Writing Magazine Win a Book Competition
  • Drafted my 500 words for the next Writers Abroad challenge for feedback, but not ready to submit it yet!
  • Submitted short story 'Summer Hat' to the Bridgehouse Open Anthology competition
  • Reviewed two other short stories for submission to competitions
  • Submitted three queries to Saga Magazine, My Weekly (Gardening) and Writers Forum
  • Blogged three times
  • Research completed (for now) on third novel set in Saxon times and character briefs completed. Hope to start the draft next week
  • Third of the way through my first edit of second novel and running out of time on my deadline...
  • Received rejection from The Oldie on my first submission for the Expat section but at least they got back to me
Phew, I'm all worn out... now back to the editing

Don't Think Just Write

13 January 2010


For Me - Is Essential
As much as I dream of myself as this eccentric author locked away in her tower, scribbling madly away, words falling onto my page... I'm not. Not at all. On Monday I became a little agitated at the end of the day when I realised I'd not achieved much. I wrote in my diary 'just messed about'. Only I can do anything about that so yesterday, I wrote my list of 'to do's, allocated a certain chunk of time to each action and despite the many earth tremors (visit our blog to find out more here) I managed to achieve almost all of my planned activities. And I wrote! So I have to despatch with the dreams and get on with reality. Shame but that's life. A writers life.

Book Review
Patrick Parker's Progress by Mavis Cheek
Well, its not really a book review, because I didn't complete the book. I got about half way through and had been struggling for some time. Now, I used to be one of those readers who pressed on despite my reluctance to. I felt I owed it to the writer to finish what they had started. But now I don't. I will persevere but if it goes on for too long (or as in this case, another book is calling out to be read) I give up. I may go back it, but to be quite frank, I didn't like Patrick Parker, I didn't understand his fascination with bridges (though I'm a keen admirer of the works of Brunel) and I thought he was a bit of an arrogant, little upstart. Gosh, that sounds quite strong, but he really annoyed me and every time I picked up the book I could feel the muscles in my neck tense. So if you have read this book and had a different experience, please let me know and I'll try to pick it up again. If I have nothing else calling that is...

Don't Think Just Write

11 January 2010


Current Work: Well marketing... websites, blogs, Facebook etc.. etc.. etc.
Listening to: Cats and kittens miaowing, its nearly tea time
Reading: Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

You Can Never Do Enough...
Marketing that is. To add to the writing projects, writers must market themselves for if they don't who the hell will? Its a lesson I'm beginning to learn but it doesn't get any easier and chatting with members of Writers Abroad yesterday I realised that I'm not the only one. So that's a little consolation. We all find it hard, most of all to commit the time, but we all know that we must if we want to be recognised as serious writers. So I'm going to finish off updating and refreshing my blogs and websites, make them easier for people to follow and perhaps (by the end of the week) have linked them to Facebook so I can annoy everyone of my friends. And for those nephews and nieces who might be surprised that I have removed you from my list of Facebook 'friends' you still are, my friend of course, but I felt a little overwhelmed by the daily insights to your life. And anyway you didn't want your old crabby aunt knowing everything you were up to did you? But thanks for all the great story ideas, watch this space if you want to know more!! 

Don't Think Just Write

8 January 2010


Well, its hard to get back to some kind of routine when you've had some time out, however eager you may be. I'm finding this week a little hard going and keep telling myself  'next week I'll feel more normal'. Well, that's if I ever have been normal. But its been a good week for some of the group from Writers Abroad. Jill - France -(who was featured in Writers News before Xmas) has had stories accepted for a couple of markets recommended by the group and Susan - Minnesota - has had a full page in Writers Market (Feb 2010) along side the great and the good - Stephen King no less! So congratulations to them and soon hopefully, you'll be reading all about them on our site. 

Three Cheers For

So what has my difficult writing week produced?

  • A half baked short story about a witch - but I couldn't find my groove so I'm letting it stew
  • Two articles submitted to Suite 101. I've changed my tack a little this year as I want to try some other markets so am concentrating on book reviews - Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier and recipes - Spinach and Ricotta Pancakes. Enjoy!
  • One article submitted to Constant Content and accepted, now all I have to do is get it sold
  • One article submitted to The Oldie and awaiting feedback
  • Two queries submitted - non-fiction
  • All Will Be Well submitted to a literary agent who requested to see it after a short email....
  • This blog has been updated and have almost finished refreshing my websites
  • Filing for 2009 all completed and new files for this year made
  • Writing Plan for 2010 completed
And My Man Friday is currently doing the first edit of WIP The Promise - my NaNoWriMo end product ready for me to start tearing it to pieces! So a fine start once I put it all down on 'paper'. 

Don't Think Just Write

6 January 2010


Thought for the Day
Writing is no trouble: you just jot down ideas
as they occur to you. The jotting is simplicity
 itself - it is the occurring which is difficult."
  ~ Stephen Leacock

Where do you find your inspiration from? My thoughts turned this morning to one of the most troubled part of a writers life. Coming up with the ideas in the first place. I know many of my fellow writers struggle and for some of us it takes an age to come up with something that seems to be 'original'. But of course there are very few original ideas left. But there are original ways to tell them and to share them with your readers. So next time you are stuck for an idea, think of one that's already been done. Then turn it on its head, turn it inside out, ask 'what if' and chuck it in a bag and shake it all about. What appears on the paper could just be something worth publishing.

Book Review

The French Gardener by Santa Montefiore

When I first started reading this I almost put it down again. I just thought it was going to be one of those light chick lit books with cardboard characters and unbelievable lives. But I'm glad I continued reading. The French Gardener is actually quite a delightful read and I have to admit, I wiped a wee tear away at the end. 

The French Gardener is about the lives of two women who are miles apart in terms of time of life but who are connected by one house, it's gardens and a French man. 
Miranda Claybourne is a modern wife who has moved to the countryside to Hartington House. She has left her bright city life behind her with great reluctance and feels she will never fit in to the countryside and country folk. Miranda is a writer who dreams of being a novelist but can never find the inspiration. In fact when we first meet Miranda she comes across as a spoilt and immature woman of two children who quite frankly deserve better. David her husband is the City banker playing at Lord of the Manor and who begins to play away and nearly loses it all. 

Things start to change in Mirandas life when she discovers a run down cottage in the grounds of the house. Here she discovers a scrapbook which had been compiled by the previous owner Ava Lightly and tell of her secret love affair with a mysterious gardener. When Jean Paul turns up on her doorstep, Miranda struggles with her feelings for this handsome mysterious Frenchman and immediately takes him on to help her restore the neglected gardens. As Jean Paul weaves his magic he not only reels in Miranda, but her two children and most of the women in the village. But there is a sadness about Jean Paul that Miranda cannot describe. She starts to find her writing muse as she starts to read the tale told through beautiful prose and the garden, the legacy left by Ada.

Miranda realises what things are important to her just as her husband David is risking their relationship for a quick and dirty fling with her 'best' friend. And then she realised who her French gardener actually is and that he has not only returned to restore the garden. The garden he first shared with Ava nearly thirty years previously. And that Ava has kept a secret from him. So does Miranda tell all or not? Well I advise you to read the tale, it is told with humour, compassion and a hint of derision for the lives of some probably on the guest list of the author. I loved it. And with regard to my first post today about ideas, I wouldn't be surprised if this story originally started out with a real Lady and her gardener and given a bit of a shake.

Don't Think Just Write

4 January 2010


Don't Think Just Write

Current Work in Progress: Writing Plan for 2010
On My Bedside Table: The French Gardener by Santa Montefiore
Listening to: Steve Wright going on about the snow in the UK!

New Year New Look
Yes, if you have decided to stick with me in 2010 you will see I've had a bit of a makeover. Just wanted to try something difficult. My first attempt was not good, it was a fancy template and looked great but I'm just not technical enough to pull it off. So stick with simple, and eccolaqua! here we have it. So tell me what you think, how it feels to the eye and whatever comes into your head.

So my priority this week is tying my Writing Plan down for this year and I'm feeling very excited. Some think planning is not what a writer should do. Well, this writer does, because if I don't it won't get done, lots of empty promises and wistful thoughts. And for me, part of my writing is a business, so I can't afford not to plan. So Wednesday, I'll let you know what I've done.

Happy Writing!