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.

The Love of Dance

Wednesday, 26 December 2007

Happy Christmas

Here's wishing you all a happy Christmas and a fulfilling New Year. May the New Year bring us all a little closer to that elusive publishing deal and to eventually being able to give up work and write to earn our income. I can but dream. One day.

Monday, 26 November 2007

SCBWI Writers' Day

A brilliant day. Lots to do. Lots to learn and time to enjoy the day. This was my first visit to a SCBWI event and I will go again. In fact they are holding a conference in May, I believe, which is for a weekend - Friday through Sunday. It will include accommodation and food along with various events. They are currently putting this schedule in place and will soon let us know when and how much it will be. I'm eager to book my place already.
I attended the talk by Dianna Kimpton (The Princess Pony author) on how to write for a series and the pitfalls. I came away armed with so much information. I now feel confident that should that elusive series book deal be offered, I'll be in a position to pull it off.
Award winning David Almond got things rolling with his opening address. How wonderful it was. He spoke about how he became a children's writer and this inspired most of us. It took him seventeen years to get his first children's book deal. THERE IS HOPE!! Not only that he was an entertaining speaker and dare I say it - a thoroughly nice man.
Milling around in the crowd were many published authors and novices. Some on the brink of their first deal, others working on second books or complete novices here to pick up tips. During lunch I managed to get to chat with a couple of publishers and from this have been invited to submit samples of my work. This is a wonderful opportunity and one I'm going to grab with both hands. In fact I've already sent one manuscript pack off.
I must add here that I also bumped into Elizabeth Arnold (The Parsley Parcel & The Freya Trilogy). Elizabeth was one of the first people to say that I could write. For this I will be forever thankful.
The overall day was one of inspiration and encouragement. I can't wait for the conference.

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Writers Day at Winchester

I've just found out about this, and have managed to get to go. I think there are a few places left - but they are going fast.
It is a day for Children's writers. It is once again being held in King Alfred's Winchester and has a great line up.
The event starts a 10:00 with the welcome by Natascha Biebow, the regional Advisor SCBWI-BI.
Delegates arrive between 9:00 - 10:00 for registration (tea & coffee). The keynote speech will be delivered by David Almond on: Doggedness, Thick Skin, Talent etc. A great start to the day.

The first seminar session starts at 11:45.
Choices are:
A. Researching your market & approaching publishers: Practical Tips for new writers with Dr Andrew Melrose.
B. The joy of picture books: how to write words that work with pictures and have both kid and adult appeal with Pippa Goodhart.
C. Plotting for established series characters: crating stories that resonate with young readers with Diana Kimpton.
D. The role of the literary consultant: self editing and getting your Ms ship-shape to attract agents and editors: with Helen Corner & Kathryn Robinson - Cornerstones.
After this there is a break for lunch. Things get going again at 1:45 - 2:45 with Candy Gourlay talking about: Who's afraid of the world wide web? Websites, blogs and social networking- promote your work and engage with your readers on the Internet.
The second seminar session starts at 2:45.
Choices are:
A. How do you turn all the mess in your head into straight lines on the page? From first ideas to a finished novel: with David Almond.
B. Word games in Picture Books - looking at the cinematic world of picture books with Pippa Goodhart.
C. The good and bad sides of writing a series - how to avoid the pitfalls when setting it all up with Diana Kimpton.
D. the role of the literary consultant: self editing and getting your Ms ship -shape to attract agents and editors with Helen Corner & Kathryn Robinson - Cornerstones.
3:45 - 4:15 Break and book sales.
4:15 - 5:15 Editors' Panel: Dream Books - Why I publish what I publish with Stephanie Stansbie (Little Tiger Press), Emma Lidbury (Walker Books), Imogen Cooper (Chicken House) and Lara Hancock (Egmont)
5:15 - 5:30 Closing remarks.
It looks like a great line up. Networking is very important if you want to get on and become a published author. If you get the chance look them up and come along. If you want to know more go to: http://www.britishscbwi.org

Saturday, 3 November 2007

Moving on...

My manuscript has now been sent. I can but hope that it will inspire and amuse the judges. It will be a chance in hundreds may be thousands of being placed. Like hundred's of writers like myself, competitions are one way of getting our work seen.

I have been fortunate in having my work seen, more requested, but that elusive deal is still just out of reach. When I look back at my writing seven years ago, I'm proud to say that my skills have much improved. I'm sure I still have lots to learn. I love moments when things fall into place. As a dyslexic writer, punctuation is not just a problem - it is scary. I still make mistakes here, but not as many as I used to. It helps having friends who are willing to give their time freely to help. They won't know how much that means to me. Or how scared I was in asking them for the help in the first place. Thankfully my friend loved the book and has asked for a copy to read to her class. Now that is scary, as I work in the same school.

Now with the competition out of the way - apart from the results, of course! I've finished with that manuscript. So I'm not returning to Wybird and Symidan. Both these books are well under way with editing and rewriting. I'm looking forward to sitting back and relaxing whilst I write. Not having the time pressure on me. At least not for a while. Only the pressure I put on myself!
I'm off now to get some chores done before I sit with the laptop and give my son's machine back to him.

Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Preparing for competitions.

Since I can only get on the computer at work - its the only one with an Internet connection - I've been lax in adding to my blog.
In my defence I've been working hard editing my latest 9-11 year old novel. It is as usual a fantasy novel with lots of unusual creatures and events. I'm going to be entering this into a national children's writing competition. It has been hard work, but satisfying. I will be up against hundreds if not thousands of other entrants, but you have to try. One thing I know is that my writing has become stronger and my voice appears to be good. (or so I've been told) The competition will be stiff, but I want to be a children's author. This is a great opportunity that I'm not willing to miss.
Once my entry is off in the post, I'm getting back to Wybird and Symidan, which are coming along nicely.
So wish be good fortune and maybe one day I'll be able to write the word 'Success' as a title for one of my blogs.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Been away.

Sorry I've not added anything on my blog recently, but I've been away. Not away as in having a jolly, and not away as in prison. I've been away because I've not had a computer to keep my blog up to date.
I'm currently waiting for a new one to arrive. So until then I'm off line.
However this has given me time to re-edit another novel which is now out having a formal edit. I'm hoping they don't think too much is wrong with it. Then I'll be polishing it off and sending it out. Until then I'm writing up a new synopsis and chapter by chapter plot line. I now know why I hate synopsis. Never mind it has to be done. With that in mind I'm off.

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Back in the swing.

After a lot of rubbing down and painting I'm free to write again - and doesn't it feel good.
I've managed to get on with two of my children's novels, both of which are moving forward. I've been investigating the circus tent and the possibilities with in it. I've also been working out the planetary system as to add a few anomalies of my own. All in all it has been a good week so far.
Wybird is now on chapter five and the new Symidan is looking more and more like a jigsaw puzzle. New bits, old bits and bits that are on the scrap pile that I really don't dare throw out yet. I'm hoping that soon I'll fit all the pieces together to form a saleable novel. Time will tell.

Saturday, 14 July 2007

Writers' Circle in St.Albans.

If you are looking for an excellent writers' circle in the St. Albans area then the Verulam Writers' Circle might be the right one for you. It has been running for over 50 years with many published authors. Everyone is willing to support new fledgling writers as well as offer constructive guidance for the brave who read their work aloud. (Not a requirement of membership)

They meet at twice a month at:
The Church Hall, St Michaels Church, St Michaels Street, St Albans, Hertfordshire AL3 4SL
Additionally, they meet at
The Goat, Sopwell LaneSt Albans,(about half way down)
The Goat is one of the city's most historic pub and at the worst you will have nice beer in a pleasant environment. We have increased our Goat evenings from once a month and now alternate with the regular, more formal meetings at St Michael's.
All meetings last from 8 pm to 10 pm.

To find out more click on this link and browse their website.

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

London Literary festival

This was my first time at the London Literary Festival. A beautifully air conditioned auditorium filled with excited children and adults all there to listen to Jacqueline Wilson OBE.

Children's Laureate 2005-07 captivated the attention of the auditorium with her lively address. Jacky Daydream, Jacqueline's latest book is the biography of Jacqueline's first 10 years of her life. It is amusing and poignant giving us an insight to what makes Jacqueline tick. A brilliant read. Afterward, Jacqueline happily took time to sign my two books – Jacky Daydream and Candy Floss, which are to be auctioned off to raise funds for my school. These will be auctioned off during one of the BPSA quiz nights or another event. I've recently organised the writing competitions within the school and the children have responded avidly. We offer a trophy and £10 book voucher for the winner with the two other placed entries receiving £5 book vouchers each. Each child receives a certificate and those shortlisted also receive a pen/book or stationary set. Jacqueline was keen to chat about the competition and discuss with me the things she thought would stimulate reluctant readers and writers. I'd just like to thank Jacqueline for taking the time to talk with me in a very busy day - Thank you.

Relaxing after a very busy weekend.

Here are just a few authors relaxing having fun after a very busy weekend. Writing is a
solitary occupation, but when writers come together they network like no other. Exchanging ideas, sharing disappointments and celebrating achievements. Even the most popular authors have times when they receive that rejection. It is hard to accept at any stage of you writing career so to share the ups and down with others of a like mind brings you back to the point where you can see rejection for what it is - one persons point of view. If you are a writer and it is truly what you want to be then you will not give up. That's whats so great about Winchester, we are a family of writers all aiming for the same goal. Supporting and encouraging each other and making new contacts and friends.

What goes on at Winchester?

The 27th Winchester Writers' Conference was a roaring success. Children's Laureate 2005-07 Jacqueline Wilson OBE was the plenary speaker and captivated the attention of the auditorium with her lively address. Jacky Daydream, Jacqueline's latest book is the biography of Jacqueline's first 10 years of her life. It is amusing and poignant giving us an insight to what makes Jacqueline tick. A brilliant read.
The conference offered seminars and workshops for many different genre of writing. There was something for everyone. Although the rain poured down the enthusiastic writers donned their waterproofs or clutched umbrellas to dash from one building to the next. The buzz was high – the only time the buzz lessened (only slightly) was during moments when the writers were eating.
One-to-One appointments were available (for those that had booked) to speak with agents, publishers or published authors like Jeannie Johnson, and Sally Spedding. Agents included Lorella Belli, Simon Trewin, Teresa Chris and James Wills to mention but a few. Little Tiger and Hodder Children's book publishers were among many interested in finding new talented writers. Many writers coming away thrilled that either an agent or publisher had asked to see more of their work. These opportunities come along rarely – Winchester is one place that dreams can begin to come true.
Writing competitions are a integral part of the conference. Writers are given the chance to enter all competitions under a pseudonym. There are fifteen competitions in all ranging from children's writing to writing can be murder. Haiku, poetry, life writing and article writing and many more – something for everyone to try.
It is big, exciting and full of passion. If you get the opportunity then do go along. You will find a big welcome from a family of writers that are keen for you to succeed as much as they want to achieve themselves.
Of course there is an awards ceremony and dinner. Here the writers sit back and enjoy a glass of wine and a chat as they relax a little before the last push on the Sunday morning to complete the workshop of there choice.

Monday, 2 July 2007

Dolores Gordon-Smith

Dolores at the Winchester Writers Conference awards dinner 2007.

Dolores Gordon-Smith's debut novel 'A Fete Worse Than Death' has been a great success at the Winchester Writers Conference. This is a Jack Halden Murder Mystery and engages the reader from the beginning. Dolores' next book 'Mad About the Boy? will be published next year. Quote from Robert Barnard (the back cover): 'Recaptures the vitality and insouciance of the Golden Age writers.' Published by Constable http://www.constablerobinson.com/ The jacket design and image by Ken Leeder. So why not go and purchase a copy of 'A Fete Worse Than Death' ISBN:978-1-84529-595-0 alternatively pop in to your local library and borrow a copy. It is a damn good read.

Tuesday, 26 June 2007


It was a wonderfully sunny day in Hertfordshire on Saturday - well it was in Bovingdon. It was the school summer fayre and the book auction was due. I was nervous. Would anyone bid! I could only hope they would. The fancy dress had finished, lots of happy children and loads of tears from those feeling dejected. Then the grand raffle began - the head began calling winning tickets, more happy folk. But what had happened? The playing fields and school yard were emptying. People were leaving in droves. Then it was my turn. To the few people standing around - where any interested in Darren Shan and the two signed books. I began with the first trilogy in the saga of Darren Shan - it went for £8 almost £2 less than the book price (disappointed? YES) then the second - book five Demonata signed with photo. Again this was disappointing -£8 when the cover price is £12. I've learnt from this, make sure that the publicity for the auction was much better.
I'm hoping to get some signed books from Jacqueline Wilson for our next auction but I'll publicise this one with more efficiency. I'm hoping the next time I mention this I'll be reporting a great profit for the school.
There was a good side to this weekend. I've started writing my fourth rewrite of Symidan which is now a completely different book. I only hope the publisher will like the new storyline. Time will tell.

Monday, 18 June 2007

A weekend of writing

Okay I may be in the minority here, but I loved this weekend full of rain. Not because I have a fetish for rain or water, far from it, but it gave me time to focus on my writing. I've managed to get two chapters written and every word seems to fit beautifully. Yes, I know I'll have to revisit it and rewrite parts but for a second draft - I'm pleased.
Now I have to do research on current circus tricks that a small insect can master and I'm away. This is a children's book. My adult thriller is growing menacingly, but in the most positive way. That is only a first draft and has a few years of writing to go. I've just entered a competition with this just to see if I'm on the right legs. Having never attempted this genre before. What's the worse they can say - crap! well I'm ready for that one. And that is after all how we learn. One thing is for sure, I'll not give up. There is a story to tell there, based on true life, with a few little extra threads flowing through.

Tip for the day: Write for ten minuets even if you don't feel in the mood. You'll soon find you can write on demand. A good skill to learn.

Saturday, 16 June 2007

While the rain is watering the plants.

So the rain has decided not to stop today, so there is nothing for it but to write - oh, what a shame. I love days like this. I can't do anything in the garden without drowning - I can't do the washing because I can't dry it, no tumble dryer, but that's a long story. Okay I'll tell you. I did have a tumble dryer out in the shed. A great place for it as my cottage only has a small kitchen. However the bumble bees also thought it was a great place and chose it as a home. They built an elaborate hive inside and I couldn't just turf them out. In the end I've just managed without. Anyway I digress. I suppose I could do house work, but then that is stupid when dad is due around tomorrow, why do it twice? All that mopping of floors when I'll only bring muddy water in from outside later. I guess the best thing to do is to sit down and get on with my latest children's novel and enjoy this time to write. My suggestion for any would be writer is to take every opportunity to write that you can. Even if you only get a ten minute slot - write. You might find you write something worth while or get rid of dross either way you'll keep you writing muscle working and that is as important as keeping your heart healthy. So go exercise your writing muscle. And don't forget to feed it - healthily of course!!

Thursday, 14 June 2007

Winchester Writers Conference

Anyone interested in writing should investigate the annual Winchester Writers Conference. I've attended for the last five years and am attending again this year. Why you ask should I go? Well if you really are interested in writing and want to network, which is one of the most important parts of writing if you intend to look for publication, then Winchester is your place. You get the chance to chat with authors from many genre. Sit along side publishers and agents. Take the opportunity to brush up your skills with a two day workshop or attend seminars about something new. Whatever your interest in writing there will be something there for you. Not only that you get a chance to have your work judged, criticised and you might just win a prize. It is great fun, tiring but fun. Yes it is a bit pricey, but if you are dedicated to your writing it is worth every penny. I've entered four competitions this year - I'll let you know how I do. In the past I've been shortlisted (many times) and last year won the 12+ children's writing competition. I've sent in some experimental work this year and am looking forward to the reaction. Whatever way, win or not I'm looking forward to receiving my critique which will help my writing improve. Take a shifty at their website: http://www.writersconference.co.uk/

Darren Shan in St. Albans

A wonderful time with Darren Shan.

What a wonderful way to spend a sunny Saturday afternoon – squashed in a small theatre in St. Albans with around 100 other Darren Shan fans. We were hot, sticky and dare I say there were a few odours drifting on the air once the air-conditioning was started up.Fans from eight to eighty were visible in the auditorium all enthralled when Darren took to the stage. We were treated to a reading from 'Bec' book four of the Demonata series. Darren gave such emphasis to his characters making the stomach tighten and the skin to crawl as we listened captivated by the scene unfolding before us. We then were treated to a snippet from the current book 'Blood Beast' which had us all eager for more. But it wasn't to be – well not yet the best was yet to come.Opening up the questioning, Darren was a wash with eager hands waving like a sea of snakes in the air. One by one the children quizzed and delved trying to get more information about characters, Darren and what will happen next. Darren neatly sidestepped some questions he wasn't prepared to give answers too, and happily offered snippets to keep everyone happy. The session could have gone on for so much longer but as is want with these things it was coming to an end - but what an ending. Darren surprised everyone by reading a choice section - from book SEVEN. Again it left you wanting more. But what of book SIX – well that is being kept under wraps. Darren is keeping that close to his chest. So everyone is now waiting for October when Book SIX (title unknown) will be placed on the shelves. I wonder how many seconds it will take for most of them to disappear? Thankfully Darren was prepared to sign books (as many as you had with you) have his photo taken and chat briefly. I think he would have been lynched had he not. The queue was immense. My group were towards the middle of the line. You may have noticed a couple of photo's if you are keen eyed.I'm hoping some of that talent has rubbed off on me.Darren thank you for a great afternoon.