Welcome to my writers blog.

Writing to entertain and encourage other writers. To keep you informed of events, workshops, retreats and conferences available for writers.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Positive Rejection

Autumn is here and I'm back at the laptop writing, yes, I'm reworking a children’s novel. This is the second in the series of the trilogy of ‘Time’ books. The first is out with an agent, and I'm awaiting comments. Realistic, but ever hopeful.

As promised, I will share with you my latest rejection. And as rejections go this one is not so bad, however, it could have been better. This rejection was for new plot lines and opening chapters of three different thrillers. So here it is: Thank your crime novels. In addition to writing vividly and fluently, you obviously have no shortage of ideas and not fear of pushing boundaries. So I wish we could be more enthusiastic about these three. And then went on to wish me luck, and offer to read more should I continue writing.

So what to do next? Whilst at the Festival of Writing in York, I got chatting with a few agents and book doctors and they have asked me to send them samples of my work. This is what I'm now intending to do. Nothing ventured nothing gained. I think I will approach a book doctor first, to get advice where I'm going wrong, or indeed if I'm just pushing the boundaries too much. I will be interested in the outcome of this and of course will let you know what happens.

There are is one prompt with four steps for this blog. Firstly, develop a male character who is strong, confident and self-assured. Secondly, place them in a situation where they are going to feel out of their depth and out of control. Thirdly, the story has to be set in or around the photo image below. Fourthly, write two versions of a short story, one where he fails the other where he succeeds in the task at hand.

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Windmill Wonders

Many of you will know that I've been working on my submission for the last few weeks. There has been a lot to work through. I have now managed to fight my way out from the piles of scenes that have gone to make up my submission. There have been many first chapters and re working. It has been a bit of a jigsaw puzzle, but one I hope will show my work off at its best. This was a resubmission after some lovely feedback and offer to resubmit when I was ready. It has taken quite some time for me to get the plots to a place where I feel they show a greater overview of what I want to do with each novel. With those I have sent the opening chapters of each. Hopefully they will still like my writing style, and this time, the plots too. As always, I will let you know how things go.

I'm still waiting to hear back from the children’s submission – nothing yet, but I'm hoping to hear back soon.

Now onto the topic task for this week. The picture below was taken by John Corkett showing the beauty of a Suffolk windmill. Your task this week is to look closely at the image and write a short story that shows what happens in or around the windmill. Things to think about. Who lives in the windmill – is it a working windmill – has it been converted for another purpose? Who lives in the houses around?
by John Corkett

I hope the image inspires you to write some wonderful convoluted characters. Remember that conflict in a story helps to add a little spice to a scene.

So go on, get writing. 

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Fun times at the Festival of Writing – York.

The Team.
Just back from the Festival of Writing I think I have managed to catch my breath after the wonderful, manic and inspiring one-to-ones in York. Catching up with old writing friends and meeting new ones. Touching base with agents, editors, book doctors and writers. Hopefully everything appeared to be as seamless as possible, but underneath there may have been a lot of paddling going on.

We have heard of many successful meetings, offers to see complete manuscripts, fantastic critiques on submitted material, lots and lots of advice and for me: a good kick to get me doing what I should have been doing. So much so that I submitted something yesterday. I’ll let you know what happens. I have also been asked to submit material. This I will be preparing over the next few days.

The workshops have been inspiring throughout the weekend run by agents, book doctors, editors etc. on many aspects of the writing process. It is important to hone your skills as a writer, in doing this you maximise your chances of success.

Networking was in full swing all weekend. Those in the business of writing were mingling with new, progressive and those writers who could almost taste that publishing deal. Everyone was willing to advise, encourage and inspire writers at any point in their writing journey. You never stop learning as a writer, even when you are seen to have ‘made it’ you continue to learn, try out new possibilities and lead the way. Sharing this information whilst networking is one of the most important parts of the conference. Breakfast, lunch and dinner meetings all interspersed with bucket loads of coffee, tea or hot chocolate. Evenings are always a time to relax and chat over a tipple of your choice. Sometimes, if you aren't brave enough to ask questions yourself, you can sit back and absorb information being discussed around you.

Many writers were seen to scuttle off at the end of the day, after dinner to bring out their writing books, or laptops, note books or a Dictaphone and set to work. Twitter went wild - FoW14

If you have attended the conference and you have some good news stories than please post the here as comments.

My team Ellen Hanns, Mark Clementson and myself love hearing about all the work delegates are creating whether it be, fiction or non-fiction. Everyone has their own story and direction. It is at these conferences that these stories often really start to take off and develop into the finished product. So whatever you are writing, keep doing it because one day you will get there.

The topic task for this week is to use one of the lines below to inspire a short story.

  • Seven dead rats are strung up on a washing line.
  • The eyes didn't blink, they just stared forward blankly.
  • As the sun set the shadows crawled across the ground.

So go on, get writing. 

Friday, 22 August 2014

Moving forward or not, just keep going.

I have a feeling that my recent submission didn't arrive at its destination. I'm awaiting a response to my follow up email, which I believe will confirm this. Never mind if this is the case I’ll resubmit and wait again. In the meantime, I'm getting on with rewriting my current WIP 9+ novel. It is a large challenge as the first half of the novel needs to be completely changed. It is fun though. With this being a long bank holiday weekend, I am taking time out from the normal daily chores and spending that time writing. Close the door of the cottage, shut out the world and get my focus back. It all starts tonight.

Just starting the preparations for the Festival of Writing – York. Once again the dream team will be running the show at the One-to-One’s. We are looking forward to seeing you all and catching up on your writing progress. Please feel free to come and say hello over lunch, dinner or around the campus when we are on down time.

For this week’s challenge below you will find four simple prompts. Either start with the words or use them to inspire a piece of writing. Remember to develop the characters and use all the usual smells and bells to bring your work alive on the page. If you decide to write this as non-fiction push yourself to find an outlet for the work.
  • He rubbed it until it gleamed.
  • It is taking over!
  • The hill gave way and the car went with it.
  • I believed I could change him – I was wrong.

I hope you find these prompts inspiring and don’t forget to let me know how you get on. I'm always keen to hear your progress and about your publications.

So go on, get writing. 

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Let your imagination run riot.

I think I must have got lost in my garden as it has been an age since I have blogged. However, I have been working very hard on getting my front garden done. It is almost complete, but will take a little while longer. I have discovered that I really enjoy the physical side of gardening, shifting loads of soil, digging, de-weeding and potting up and planting. I have been recycling old rabbit hutches to make large planters and staining them forest green. I want to complete it all before the autumn sets in.

After submitting two of my children’s books I'm about to do a follow up email as I've not yet heard anything. I'm now wondering if it has been received! The six to eight week submission feedback time will be up by Friday next week so I’ll make an enquired then. When I hear I’ll let you know.
I have been rewriting the opening to another children’s novel which is the prequel to one of the novels I have submitted. I think this will make it stronger. I'm realising how much I have missed the fun I get from weaving these children’s plots. I just need to find an agent who loves them as much as I do, and that is the hard bit.

The writing challenge for the next two weeks is to develop a children’s character. You need to know exactly how your character is going behave in every situation. You have to decide what traits your character will have. How will they affect them as their story is told? You have to ensure they have a development arc going from points of balance and conflict, back and forth until they have completed their journey through the story. Once you have your main character, think about the other people or creatures etc. that will cause conflict. Who will there arch-rival be? Who will come to their aid or support them? You may decide to have a female character and then decide that the character would be better placed to be a boy. Test which each and see which works best, you might be surprised. When you are happy with the main character and those who are to support or test them, use one of the prompts below to create either a 5+, 7+, 9+ short story or opening of a novel.
  • As she/he looked down the hole the hole got bigger, something was at the bottom.
  • Over and over and over it went until it was so dizzy it didn't know which was up and which was down. 
  • He/she looked up the stairs, it seemed such a long way up, but that didn't matter he/she had to get to the top. 
  • The sky was purple with the blackened wings of death as it fell on the heads of the innocent.

Let you imagination run riot, so go on, get writing. 

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Abruptly woken!

I had a lovely six days off and feel very chilled, hope the feeling lasts. I have been reworking one of my children’s stories and feel the plotline is now right. It will take a lot of revision and time to ensure throughout the book all areas that need work are changed this should strength the whole book.

I'm still awaiting news from my recent children’s submissions and as promised will let you know the outcome, good, encouraging or bad. Six to eight weeks is a long time to wait, but that is the usual time that elapses prior to any feedback. However I did once get great feedback after seven days, but that was for a thriller, they loved my writing style/voice, but weren't keen on the plotline. I have since then written up three new plot lines and a fourth idea along with opening chapters for the first three. Once I hear from the children’s agent, I will consider submitting these.

The digging in my garden is almost done, and the black matting, weed protector, will be put down this weekend. No more digging – Yippy!!

This week’s writing prompts are all to do with waking abruptly in the morning. Below you’ll find four prompts. Select one and write a short story between 1550-3000 words. As an added challenge for this piece of writing you are to find an outlet for your work and submit.
  1. That wretched bird!
  2. The agricultural burglar alarm – again!
  3. Can’t you shut that dog up!
  4. Go back to sleep, Henry!
Hopefully the three prompts above will inspire you. So go on, get writing. 

Thursday, 17 July 2014

It all happens in the garden.

Weeks have shot passed and I've been working so hard in the garden that everything else has gone by the wayside. That I know isn't good, but the result is that the garden is looking very pretty now. On the downside, I have been nipping to the garden centre as a 50% discount week has tempted me to buying more plants. This isn't a bad thing, the bad comes when I spend even more time in the garden potting up, trimming back and tying in when I should be writing. Having said all that the fruit that I'm getting is very tasty and the pear tree has an abundance of pears, just hoping they will grow and ripen without being targeted by the wasps too much.
I now have a few days off so I will be out continuing my attack on the front garden – more digging, black matting and stone finish. Then to think of the planters and plants.
I'm also hoping to get time to write and edit another children’s book. I recently sent off two samples of my children’s work to an agent and hope to hear positive news soon. If not, some guidance.
Your writing challenge this week is to look at the image and incorporate the following in to the piece of writing.
“Why did you invite them!”
“I told you to get the smaller one, that marquee won’t fit!”
“Have you seen how much drink they have brought? It’s obscene.”
This can simply be a garden party, a wedding, charity event, a neighbourhood party, a family reunion or any event that is to be held in a garden.
The aim this week is to be humour into the writing but keeping it real. Select your characters well, drawer them out prior to using them, know how they will react in any given situation. Don’t forget to use the sounds in and around the garden. Wasps, bees, those horrid flies! Smells from surrounding areas. The local farm mucking out! The unsociable neighbour and their bonfire! How this event/party turns out is entirely up to you, but have fun with it and remember to ensure the reader see what you want them to see and feels any awkwardness and if possible laughs out loud for the right reasons.
So go on, have fun with it and get writing.