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

Sunday, 1 November 2015

A story of the creeping kind.

Gosh what a wonderful weekend and another amazing week at work. It is getting busier all round, work and socialising and I'm loving it all.

My writing has been a bit slower this week, but I am editing and feel that I'm getting closer to sorting out that soggy middle. Today at the ‘Yorkshire Grey’ meeting - YGAW, so many great critiques were given which is what I needed. Extra passion is needed to show how ineffectual my main character feels being unable to do anything about the situation he is witnessing. I think this will give it that added darkness and grit it needs. I've got lots to do and slowly running out of time! I have a deadline and can’t afford to miss this one.

Now I was going to set a Halloween theme for this week’s challenge, but I've decided not to do that, however I do feel that I need to share this lovely big fella with you all. He was found after dismantling an old rabbit hutch. He was so amazing, posing for the pictures. I on the other hand was a little scared that he might jump – thankfully he didn't.

Your writing task is to create a piece of writing that will use the spider in this image as your starting point. What you do from there is up to you. Perhaps you would like to write a piece from the point of view of the spider, a child or the panicking spider hater with a swat.
So go on, get writing. 

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Writerly Chat & Flat Packed Furniture

There have been many things going on this week. Lots of projects to sort out and to start. I had a great chat to a colleague at work, who also has an interest in writing. We were chatting about our various manuscripts and their stages of development. It is interesting to know that I'm not the only one who has WIPs at different points of completion. I've always completed the manuscript and then put it aside for a few months before going back to it. This is to help me when I go through to do the first 'serious' edit. One of many during the creation period. I'm more productive when I have few projects on the go at once. If I get a little stuck with what my characters have done, then I move on to something else for a while and leave them, the characters, to sort out the problem before coming back to find out how they have dealt with the situation. It may seem odd, but it appears to work for me.

My current WIP is a novel that comes under the helmet of woman’s commercial fiction. This piece is mostly light hearted, but follows the twists and turns of love that may or may not end happily. There are definitely shades of darkness running through shown within the sub plots. I'm loving writing this as it is totally different from my children’s work or thrillers.

At the same time as writing the above, I'm editing ‘Locked Inside’ a YA novel. I've had some fun with the edits so far and it is being well received by my writing group. And the good thing about the circle is that they don’t hold back on their punches – if it is lacking in the bells and smells or the POV has changed or the plot is saggy, they find the glitch and as a result the editing improves. If you've not joined a writing circle or group, then I really suggest you find one, but not one where everyone says ‘That’s Lovely, dear’ you need people who are determined to improve their own work and at the same time have an interest in helping others in the group. It is a two way thing. Writing is a solitary existence and sometimes the support of other like-minded people really makes a difference to the overall end product.

I am loving the writing process at the moment – long may it continue.

Windmill Writers has been going through a few changes, as I've reported here before, with losing two members of the group. However, we are still an active group and welcome new ‘active’ writers to get in touch. If you are interested in the group and live in or around Watford, Hemel Hempstead, Berkhamsted or Chesham then why not pop along to The Windmill Pub in Chipperfield, Hertfordshire, on a Wednesday between 19:00 – 21:00 to meet us and see what we are about.

This week’s writing prompt has been inspired by my experience with flat pack furniture, the building of and the dismantling of the old unit and then aiming to utilise the old unit to create some extra shelving for beneath the new desk. You will not believe how long it took and how many issue
s I had, not to mention the bruises! I'm not telling you my story here, you are going to create your own.

Using one person only: The package arrives eventually. It is heavy and only your character can erect it Show us how they go about this. What interactions they may have with others. Show us how this effects them and the process involved in the creation of the flat packed package. Think of all the pitfalls and how that could encumber them. What is the end result?

Using two people: The package arrives eventually. It is heavy your characters have two hours to erect it. Show us how they go about this. What interactions do they have between them and those they may have with others? Show us how this effects them and the process involved in the creation of the flat packed package. Think of all the pitfalls and how that could encumber them. What is the end result?

Using a group of University students: The package arrives eventually. It is heavy your characters have two hours to erect it. Show us how they go about this. What interactions do they have between them and those they may have with others? Show us how this effects them and the process involved in the creation of the flat packed package. Think of all the pitfalls and how that could encumber them. What is the end result?

So go on, get writing. 

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Friends not just writers.

A much better week, although I have to keep being careful for a while longer. But I can cope with that. I’m almost back to being me again. Work was very busy, catching up with everything I couldn’t do whist I was off, but I’m almost there.  I’ve managed to get the house looking more like a house than a doss pit, which is much more like me.
I’ve managed to get a little editing done on my competition entry, which still has six weeks for me to get it ready to submit. I’ve still got a lot of work to do, but it is shaping up nicely. I read some of it at the writing meeting this week and it was received well. The subplots were coming out and they laughed where they should and the area that I was concerned would be a little too risky for a YA they felt it was okay, but I guess if it isn’t it can be removed if it were ever to any further than my group. I do like the concept and I hope once it is honed it will be well received by the judges. Only time will tell as they say.
I set the first writing competition for my writing group The Windmill Writers. The task: Task:
You are to write an article about toilet paper. Maximum words 750. I felt this would be a good challenge to all of our members as none of us have written articles. It is something that takes a certain skill and one that they, and me will have to research to ensure we get the structure correct. I’m excited about how this will pan out. The members themselves will be judging the pieces and the overall winner will be the first to hold the Windmill Writers Trophy for three months. We have the online Facebook membership, but the competition is only open to the members who regularly attend the pub meetings.

We had to say farewell to one of our founding members. He arrived at our first true meeting with Nicki and myself and from that moment the group began to grow. We are hoping that Michael will pop in when he is able as his critiquing and great writing will be missed by all of us. We are hoping he will be able to come to our first anniversary meeting which is to double up as our Christmas party. So I'm going to be thinking up some writing challenges for that. We are a small family of writers who are going to miss this member of there group - not just a writer but a friend, Michael, don't leave it too long before you pop in to see us all. 
Now we get to the writing prompt for this week. You have the choice of two photographs to inspire a piece of writing. Once you have chosen your image, write a story which includes, two children, a great uncle and a pot of honey.

So go on, get writing. 

Friday, 2 October 2015

A Writing Trophy with in a horrid week.

This has been a horrid week. I've not been able to go to work, or write or do anything useful. I've spent far too long holding on to my nose and being tubed up to saline drips; having silver-nitrate sticks sealing my nose and having it stuffed. I went into shock after the prolonged procedure and it totally drained me. Thankfully, my sister and brother-in-law were amazing spending all week taking back and forth to the hospital and my sister sitting with me throughout the operation as the registrar, consultant and nurse fought to stop it. I hated being on the bed having it done, but I think it must have been just as terrifying for Lesley. Hopefully things are settling now, but I'm frightened that anything could trigger it off again. Fingers, toes and everything else crossed too. I've been unable to drive, eat or drink anything hot, exercise or bend down – everything has had to be done in slow motion.  You might think that is okay, but it means that you just sit and vegetate. Thank goodness for my new snuggle blanket! I am on antibiotics, two types and rest, lots and lots of rest. And a return visit to ENT next week. I will be very nervous when I have to go just in case they need to do anything more or set it off again. On the upside: the doctor has said I can drive up to the village. I can get provisions and don't have to worry my friends and neighbours to collect things for me. 
Work, Virgin Media, have been amazing during the whole thing. I am keen to get back to the job on Monday if all goes to plan. 

So this is the first piece of writing I have done this week. I might get to do something during the weekend, if I find the spark. I know it is there somewhere, it is just a case of prising it out of the shadows and shining it up a little. I have so much to get done, as I'm submitting and running out of time. Patience is what I need. Not good at patience when it is down to my own work.

Whilst sitting resting I have received the Windmill Writers Trophy, which is to be awarded for the best piece of writing on a set subject which will be held on a quarterly basis. We will be setting the first challenge next Wednesday at the meeting.
So for the writing prompt for this week is the image below and the opening sentence of: “My granddaughter or grandson would love those!” You take the story further. Think about a publication that you can submit to once you have completed it.
So go on, get writing. 

Friday, 25 September 2015

Stop for a cup of tea

It is amazing how fast these weeks are flying past. I guess it is because I'm loving the work that I'm doing and I'm engrossing myself in my writing at night and socializing at the weekends! Phew, no wonder I'm sleeping so well at night. Well, mostly – often having many weird and wacky dreams. As another writing friend of mine said: that is where some great writing comes from. I hope she is right.

I am having a challenging time, jigsaw puzzling and rewriting my YA – Locked Inside – which had another airing at the Windmill Writers meeting on Wednesday. It was well received and had a few helpful development suggestions, which I'm now considering. I've still got a lot of work to do on it, and to write that chapter by chapter outline. Which needs to show development points, challenges and why each chapter is needed. I find that a difficult part as, like most writers, I love my chapters, but as an editor, I have to think is it relevant and moves the story forward. A tricky process.

I'm delighted to say that one of the writers from my group attended the Festival of Writing in York where she was inspired and discovered many things about the writing craft that she hadn't realised before. With her new found knowledge she is determined to make the changes necessary to overhaul her children’s manuscript. One thing I know for sure is that if anyone can make the changes to lift the manuscript up and get it to shine – it is her.

The writing group received some very sad news about one of our dear members, Dennis. He was a dedicated, talented writer and had a wonderful way about him. He was good at receiving and giving criticism, more often than not, he would say a few simple words that would pin point the section you weren't happy with. To honour his memory, we had a simple candle burning during the session and shared some great work – I think he would have loved it. We laughed and joked and did what we normally do. Dennis you’ll be missed mate.

So I now get to the writing prompt for this week. Look at the photograph below and write about what you see. You can choose to do non-fiction or fiction. There is no guidance for this piece – just find that pen and paper or load a blank document and get writing. Most of all enjoy what you are writing.

So go on, get writing.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

The Festival of Writing - an amazing weekend.

The Festival of Writing in York was once again alive with creativity. Those new to writing, those in the throes of the writing process and others having been published this year or just received their first publishing deal.

I'm in a fortunate place within the festival where I get to see and hear the amazing stories coming out of the One-to-One sessions. I think this year more people than ever have been asked to submit complete manuscripts on the back of their submission to the agents. The buzz around the ‘Spaceship’, or central hall for those unaware of York University,  from agents, book doctors, editors and publishers was that the majority of the writing this year has once again improved across all genre. Unfortunately I don’t get to attend any of the workshops but I've been told that they inspired and the delegates were engaged. I had a brief conversation with a delegate who attended Julie Cohen’s workshop on ‘Learning Story Structure from Pixar Films’ she told me it was very interesting and inspiring.

One of the most exciting parts of the festival comes when delegates, agents and all sit together for breakfast, lunch or dinner. This is a very important part of the networking process. You get to talk, question and discuss all that is writing in a delightful social situation.

If you've never been to this festival and you have a passion for writing, or have always thought you could write then why not start saving up for next year – it is really worth the money you invest to help you along the road to publication.

This year I actually managed to do a little writing during the weekend – a first for me. I've started a new WIP and managed to take it over the 10,000 mark whilst I was there. I'm loving working on this piece and can’t wait to get to the end. If I continue writing at this pace, I’ll be on target for Christmas.
I have been honoured to hear a few chapters from a friend and writer, whom I'm sure will soon be represented and published. I can’t wait to read the whole thing. Exciting times.

I would like you to use some of the images in this blog to inspire a piece of writing from you. There is no theme. Just look at an image and start to write.

Sunday, 30 August 2015

A Time to Create and Learn.

My preparations for the York conference, festival of writing, are almost done- session schedules all printed up and seating plan is organised, it is just awaiting the artistic talents of Mark Clementson to enhance my scribbles. I've also sorted out what to take to keep warm and cosy, it can sometimes be cold, other times beautiful and sunny. Taking boots and sandals along with a coat and umbrella! And of course I'm hoping my little ‘old’ car will make it there and back safely. If not my colleague will have to get out and push!

I'm looking forward to getting some more feedback on my own work and hearing about developments with my many writing friends attending again this year. This is a social event as well as a learning environment. All of us sharing and supporting each other as we continue to develop as writers. I'm particularly looking forward to the Saturday night gala where much fun will be had and just a little bevy may be enjoyed with friends from years past.  

There are a few new agents meet along with all of those I have known for years. As always my team and I will be ensuring that the schedules don’t run over – or at least, don’t run into the next session. Thankfully that hasn't happened yet!

This week’s prompt is to use one of the starting points from below and creating a piece of writing of 1000 words which is to take the form of a monologue.
  • She sat back and sneered…
  • From above I see you as an untouchable goddess…
  • I perched on the upturned metal pal, my head between my legs and …
  • Taking the last pill I began to write…

I hope you enjoy attempting this challenge. When you are writing imagine that you are on stage and acting out your monologue. Most of all, have fun with it.

So go on, get writing. 

Friday, 21 August 2015

The wonder of conferences.

Yes it is Friday and yes this is my blog up on time!

I have discovered that making changes in your life aren't as scary as you might think. In fact, they can be quite joyous. I am smiling and laughing more, I have my sparkle back and within this change I have been able to write more, exercise more and have so much more fun.

I'm getting excited about the York Conference. My preparations are well under way and seating plans will be complete by the middle of next week.  Meeting up with all my writerly friends, networking and meeting all the new agents, editors and book doctors is one of the great pleasures of my role. I'm sure there will be lots of laughter, supporting of delegates and probably a great deal of firmness required, but in the end that is what makes the one-to-one meetings run smoothly. Oh, yes and of course the widely used ‘One Minute Warning’!

There will be manuscripts judged, critiqued, support and encouragement given, many a drink and the sharing of business cards and requests for complete manuscripts and on odd occasions the offer of representation. If you've never been before you’ll experience the most invigorating weekend. You will be leaving with your head buzzing and ideas fighting for your attention and eventually you will be able to use all the information you have gained and put it to good use.

So if you are attending this year, I'm looking forward to either, meeting you for the first time or catching up with those of you whom I've had the pleasure of meeting before. Many of you have become published in this last year and I'm keen to know how the process was for you. One thing I know is that the weekend will pass by so quickly, it always does because we all have such an amazing time.

Now if you want a writing task for this week. It will be this. Take a book you are working or you have finished writing and write a three line pitch for it, then a blurb and finally a 500 word synopsis. However, if you not finished a book yet, take a book you have recently read and do the same. Write your own three line pitch for it, a blurb different from that on the back and then a synopsis.
However in case you want a visual prompt, try writing about the image shown here.

So go on, get writing. 

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Trying something new.

It was a strange kind of week. Work was busy, but fun for many reasons. I have been working on a competition submission and have now sent it out. Unfortunately, this competition doesn't give feedback unless you are short-listed, but like many competitions and agency submissions the companies involved are inundated with submissions which makes it impossible for them to respond to all entrances or representation requests. Tough, yes, but it is part of the business all writers have to accept.

I am now working on my next submission which is going to take quite a lot of sorting out. I know where I need to go with it, but the challenge is to get my vision down on to the pages in such a way that the judges will see clearly my characters dilemma and all the obstacles in his way.
During this process I have started to play with a new genre – commercial women’s fiction. I'm having fun with it and the Windmill writers’ members are engaging with it and laughing at all the right parts. I don’t know if this has any legs, so to speak, but it appears to be writing itself, which is a joy.

So we come to the writing task for this week. Select one of the following genres, six of the following words and a season from the lists below. Then before you start writing, research a market to which you will submit your work. 

Science fiction


So, go on get writing. 

Monday, 10 August 2015

Writing out of the comfort zone, can you do it?

Once again time has been swift to pass. I'm sure it actually doesn't go any faster, but I think it is all to do with all the work that I'm doing and enjoying. There is more to come and I had another training session on Friday.

On the writing side, I've been continuing to write new pieces for my new WIP and have been reading through the YA to improve and often change chunks. It is interesting work.
The Windmill Writers this week was full of interesting pieces of work. Lucy read the end of her story she started last week, this character led piece was unanimously enjoyed by all. She is submitting it to a writing competition – Good luck Lucy. Alan brought us a rewritten piece, which has his usual beautiful descriptions and with a little more dialogue will bring a little more pace to the piece. Michael’s chapters were pacey, giving the ready a roller-coaster ride which began to bring all the elements of the book together, skilfully done, always leaving us wanting more. Nicki read a section from EB which gave us a look at the vulnerability of two characters along with a beautifully crafted dance scene. With each chapter we see the character arc developments and each is encapsulated with the well-crafted scene in which they are placed – even the minor characters breath in each scene. I read a piece I had re written and this time it was agreed that it was more blokey. I spotted a few errors as I read, which I will put right with another edit later in the process. Get it finished first and then go back.

The weekend has been busy again, but unfortunately left me with a rather nasty allergic reaction. I don’t often get them as I'm really careful, but obviously wasn't careful enough this weekend. I'm hoping that be tomorrow the pain caused by the swelling which causes my joints to hurt and become stiff along with the vicious evacuation of the culprit and everything else along with it with have abated and I’ll be able to go back to work and catch up with the back log.

So with that off my chest, here is the writing prompt you should have had on Friday. I hope you find something in the image below to inspire a piece of creative writing. How about giving yourself a challenge and write poetry or a monologue. Come out of your comfort zone and try something a little different, you might be surprised at what you might find.
image by Michael Alexander

So good luck get writing. 

Friday, 31 July 2015

The senses can help develop character.

And here we are again – it is Friday! Gosh, and there was work, there was socialising, weddings, parties and yes, even some writing – all of which happened from last Saturday today, Friday. I don’t know how it has happened, but I don’t seem to have any spare time, which is a good thing – mostly.

I have managed to get some writing done, but none of it is typed up, that will have to wait a while. I have rewritten and started to reread the YA I'm submitting to a competition later in the year. I'm quite excited about ridding it of all the unnecessary parts and giving it a tummy tuck! Yes it does have a soggy middle and then there is the rather quick ending. All will be solved, fingers and everything crossed that is.

I have discovered a walk that I can do at lunch times within fifteen minutes and still eat my lunch. It is 1.023 miles. It is good to get out and walk briskly to invigorate the body and brain. I'm also hoping that it will stop the backside from spreading!

Work is going well, lots of new experiences and decisions to be made. Processes are coming together and with the wind blowing in the right direction and a little good luck everything will flow seamlessly as the work flows in. Exciting times. I love my job, I hope it will continue this way.

This week’s writing prompt is to sit quietly in a corner of a room, any room and listen. What can you hear? Don’t just listen to the chatter or the birds, listen to the things that usually go unnoticed the sounds underneath the norm. Now use your other senses - look, smell and feel what is around you. Now pick two of the characters below and put them into a scenario where all your observations are used to enhance your piece of writing. 

You can pick any of the boxes or one person from one box and a second from another. 
The main part of this is to play with characterisation and how you can use the senses to enhance your writing. 

So there you are, go and get writing. 

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Exciting times with work and writing and social things.

Friday made me smile. It was pouring with rain outside and had been torrential most of the day, but inside it was been warm and cosy, most of the time! Which is why I was shocked when I dashed outside with my hair tucked into my trusty old hat and did the high heeled, tippy toe sprint across the car park, through the puddles with my skin glistening on my shoulders. The car was freezing and my heater took ages to heat up, ten minutes, but eventually I was dry and cosy again! The same process happened when I got home. The house was also freezing, but I cooked oven chips so it soon warmed up. Too tight to put the heating on in the summer!

Work has been so good this week. I'm learning more and more and with each day. There are many wonderful people in the office and all willing to support when I can’t find what I need.

Saturday found me attending a wonderful wedding and for the first time ever, I cried. It was a special wedding of two friends of mine. The power of their commitment was radiating throughout the church and the love from them was tangible. At the reception, I touched base with many friends that I've not seen for a couple of years, and made some new contacts. Saw some of the children I used to teach and after four years you really see how grown up they are now. 
Sunday brought a 30th Birthday party and a good time socialising and catching up with my best friend. Lots of fun.

I had my first dancing lesson in three years – I loved it. I can’t wait for the next one. I still don’t have my own dancing partner, but I dance with my imaginary partner, marking things out and it seems to be working and on occasion the trainer dances with me, which is great as he leads so well. So following is easy.

The Windmill Writers were great again this week. We had a chat about how to critique, how critiquing is about receiving and giving. Don’t just expect others to comment on your work if you aren't willing to listen intently and give feedback. We can’t have it being a one way street. After this the critiques given were much improved.
I've managed to get some good writing done and many edits. Things are moving along nicely. Heading for three competitions this year. Exciting times. 

For the topic task this week, I want you to look at the image to find inspiration to write a piece of writing. This can be, fiction, poetry or non-fiction. You decide. Think about your target market, where you will sell your writing and why not give it a go and send it out?

So go on, get writing. 

Friday, 17 July 2015

Editing, plot plans & synopsis it is all a labour of love.

A fantastic week. I've had a lots to do both at my day job and with my writing. I've been having fun with new characters and learning more about them as they allow me to delve into their lives. Even characters I thought I knew well, are surprising me. I'm hoping this is a good thing. During the Windmill Writers meeting this week it was pointed out that the male voice in my piece wasn't male enough. This made me think. So I went into work and spoke to men and after a while I gleaned a new kind of speech pattern that might work. I've put some ideas together and have now rewritten the piece. This means I have lopped off about 300 words and when I type up the edits I’ll see if it has improved.

I'm also working on tightening up a YA novel to enter into a competition. At present it has a bit of a soggy middle. There is a lot of work to be done? And I'm going to have to put together a chapter by chapter plot plan, which I've never done before. I believe this is to show the character arc and the major events in each chapter.  I'm sure this will allow me to see where the weak points might be and if any chapter doesn't have a major event crucial to the plot it might have to go or be restructured accordingly. It will be a labour of love. And the one page synopsis. I still hate them, but will endeavour to make this one the best I've ever achieved. 

Editing is one of the hardest parts of writing. Getting the book written in the first place is difficult enough, but editing is more painful. You may have to chop out whole scenes you are in love with just because they don’t need to be there, they are superfluous to the plot. Hard, cruel and heart-breaking, yes, but it will improve your work tenfold if you are brutal for the right reason. I know this is correct, but doing it is excruciatingly painful. Tearing yourself away from being the creator to becoming the improver. So wish me luck and I’ll let you know how it is coming on as I hack my way through my WIP with my metaphorical sword.

For this week’s writing task choose one of the following:

  • Yesterday should never have happened.
  • What! In the grave yard? You have to be joking, right?
  • Tuppence took sixpence out for a walk and we've not seen them since.

You decided what genre to write these prompts. What is your target market? Think about where this piece of writing could be sent for publication. Why not write, edit and submit your work. Whatever you decide to do, please remember to engage your reader throughout your work

So go on, get writing. 

Friday, 10 July 2015

Small Steps Forward

This has been a rather lovely week. Work is busy, but good. There was a moment when I could pass on some words of wisdom to a colleague. We were discussing growing tomato plants, as you do, and I mentioned that mine had a few nice little tomatoes already. My friend has been growing hers in the green house and she said the tomatoes weren't setting. It was at this point I explained that when tomatoes are in the greenhouse the bees might not be going in to pollinate.  I told her what my father did and said I’d make her a cat fluff brush so she could pollinate them herself. She was so chuffed when I took the little brush in to work the next day. Not sure the cat was that happy, as she had to suffer the combing and she hates that with a passion. My friend is now looking forward to lots of cherry tomatoes in a month or so as long as she tickles them properly.

I've been so pleased with the way my writing has been progressing this week, well over the last couple of weeks. I've started a new WIP which appears to be writing itself. I'm loving what is appearing on the page. I read the first part at the Windmill Writers which went down very well. Apparently it is a little saucy and has a strong voice. So I'm obviously doing something right. I'm managing around 1500 words a day, which is good considering I'm at work all day and writing at night and making notes during my lunch break and typing up at night. I also love my new Windows Phone which means I can also write word docs which I can email to my laptop. It is a lovely new tool to me. I just hope this writing process continues to go from strength to strength.

For the writing task this week. I have want you to select one of the prompts below and create a piece of writing that conforms to the brief.

  • A children’s picture book story maximum of 700 words. (make every word count) 
  • An article on Dr Elizabeth Blackwell born 1821 (do the research)
  • If you are a man write a scene from a females point of view. If you are female write a scene from a male’s point of view. Your starting point is: “How could you do that!”

I hope you have fun with these prompts. Go on, get writing. 

Monday, 6 July 2015

A starting point of writing.

Sorry to be late with this blog, but it has been a very busy week, and a very exciting weekend. Firstly things with my new job are growing steadily and I'm understanding more of the way the processes I've put in place will come together to monitor every aspect. It has been a challenge, and made my brain work on fast, but amazingly information has been absorbed. I've had a taste of phase two and phase three will be coming along by the end of the month. I've also had some praise

The weekend had me celebrating my best friend’s birthday with her extended family. It was a great night and lovely to catch up with all the family once again. Then it was catching up with Dad and doing the gardening, digging up plants and re potting them into the large pots, my bestie gave me. The plants are already looking happier in their ericaceous compost. Then it was the massive de-heading of the flowers. Mowing the lawns, trimming shrubs and weeding, lots of weeding. I did spend time reading and writing in the garden and had some lovely me time. The garden takes up a lot of my time, but I'm now able to keep on top of it all.

My wonderful friend Fiona and her lovely partner Billy, have kindly given me a new display cabinet and made a special journey to deliver it and fix it to the wall. I have had fun filling it up. I am now considering painting all of the rest of the furniture to match the white cupboard. There will be a lot of work to do. I will need to do lots of research on how to go about this. If I'm going to do this, I need to do it correctly.

This week you are going to use the following sentence as a starting point and the image to encourage your creative flow. Think about the sounds, the setting and the smells. 

Sentence: From here I could see who she was meeting, and this time I would have evidence.

So go on, get writing. 

Friday, 26 June 2015

It's amazing what you can do in fifteen minutes.

When I first started out this month everything was new and scary, still is a bit, but I'm enjoying everything I'm doing. I've got lots still to learn and I'm sure I’ll be making mistakes along the way, but so far so good.

I've been writing a little, but editing mostly and I've got to start thinking about how I'm going to do a chapter breakdown for each chapter of my children’s novels along with improving my synopses. I still hate writing synopsis and I don’t think I’ll ever be any good at them. I never know what to include and what to leave out and end up writing into the story rather than laying out the bare bones. I'm hoping that one day that synopsis eureka moment will open up in my mind and it’ll come together on the page.

The Windmill Writers was very enjoyable. Lots of readers and critiquing. We have had to set a timer which enables each reader fifteen minutes to read and receive comments. It is up to them how they utilise that time. I think the time will come when we either have to join two tables together or run two tables, and unfortunately this may mean people will miss out on reading each week. However there is still an opportunity, for members, to post sections of their work onto the Windmill Writers Facebook page and ask for comments, which should be messaged to the author and not put as a comment on the post, unless the author asks for the comment to be posted on the page.

Now for the writing prompt for this week, use all the words below and link them to the image

Grave yard – Scull & Crossbones – Chicken legs – Waste paper bin – Stepping Stones – Oily rag
in a single piece of writing.

Have fun with it, try different genres and settings.

So go on, get writing. 

Sunday, 21 June 2015

the Passion of Writing

This week has been full of ups and downs. I have been writing which is an up, work has been good and the sun has been out between the rain showers this weekend giving me the chance to get back out do some de-heading and tweaking along with mowing of the lawns. I'm really surprised how swiftly the plants have grown this week. I might have to thin out some of the plants as I think they are getting over crowded. The garden is looking really pretty now and I'm able to bring some of the flowers inside. Carnations and red pinks!  Along with some mock orange blossom, at least I think that is what it is. Both scented and making the house smell divine.

On the down side, I have had car and phone issues, mostly sorted now and today, I stood on the three prongs of a plug at full walking speed. I now have a nasty bruise on the sole of my foot – very painful.

I have been trying to find a dancing partner, but no take up yet. I want to get back to dancing twice a week to bring up my fitness and just for the love of dance. I need to find someone who is dedicated to dancing and really wants to do it. Dancing is a passion and I need to find someone with the same passion and desire to get it right. So I’ll continue looking. My little dancing feet want to get back in to the swing of it and my dance shoes are grief-stricken in the corner of the room.

This week’s writing task is to choose one of the openings and continue the story. You decide where it goes and what happens next. Aim to write a 1000 words and make sure it has a beginning middle and end and the character needs to have learnt something from travelling through the story.
  • “Well, I didn't expect you to say that!”
  • It lay crisping up in the middle of the lawn when Alfie found it.
  • “Every time the sunshine’s down on me I remember you, and I hate the sun because of that.”
  • The echoes of sunlight faded from the street as the night crawlers raised their spiny fingers up through the grates in the sewers.

The main thing with any writing is to have fun with it, to put passion into it and engage the reader from the outset.

So go on, get writing.

Sunday, 14 June 2015

What a busy week, both at work, in my social life and in my writing, but slightly less so. One of the great things about being a writer, is that you get to go out and experience life with friends and family at the same time of absorbing life going on around you.

I'm sure I am not the only writer who observes, absorbs situations and stores away little snippets to use in my work. Many of those I have watched sneak in to my work, but not as they are first seen but I take mannerisms from different people I observe, develop them and create a completely new character. You have to make sure you don’t overdo these characteristics so that you don’t change your character into a caricature, instead of being a rounded, flawed or even eccentric person. You can do this with people, venues, conversations and behaviours. Your job as a writer is blend all these things together so that your reader, recognises them and can relate to their situations. Not easy, but is a great challenge and when done correctly becomes the character driven novels, we, as readers, love to read.

 So the next time you are sitting in the office, having a cup of tea in a cafĂ© or taking your grandchild to the park, don’t forget to see what is going on around you. You might just find that missing character that will make your novel sensational.

For this week’s writing task look at the image below, think about what each person is doing and what might be happening for them. Then select one and write the scene from their point of view (POV). Try writing around 500 words and then choose a second, and maybe third person from the image and write the same scene from their POV. Each character should see things, feel things and think in different ways from the others previously. Remember we can only see what your character sees – stay on track.

So there you go, go on, get writing. 

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Expressing emotions through poetry.

New beginnings, farewells and catching up with people and making new connections, this has been my week. Along with editing, looking out for submission options and looking through old poetry files. Some interesting pieces. This one may not be the best, but it meant so very much to me when I wrote it and I guess it still does.

Fragile Butterflies

A mind full of butterflies
Floating through my skin
Open up their trusting wings
And fly on the wind

Their golden dust of honesty
Dances lightly by my side
Offering up themselves to you
Permit them come inside

Tenderly they flutter down
Touch your heart unknown
Filter through the outer shell
And rest upon your mind

The wonder of love they hold
Has worked its magic touch
My mind full of butterflies
Have found their heart, their home.

by Susan K Franklin

As the butterfly season is now with us, the writing prompt for this week is to write your own poem using the image above. You can make it romantic, comical magical or perhaps turn these lovely delicate insects into something darker. Use rhyme or not, make it your own and enjoy painting a picture with fewer words.

So go on, get writing.  

Friday, 29 May 2015

This week has seen more change. I have finished work with one employer and will be starting a new job on Monday with another. I'm looking forward to all the new challenges that come my way and hopefully, if the brain is willing, developing new skills. Exciting times.

On the writing front I received a rejection for one of my manuscripts and as there are no critique points given. This is more often than not the case, agents don’t have time to comment on work they aren't in love with, however, this obviously doesn't help the writer. There are editorial houses like Cornerstones or the wonderful ‘Writers Workshop’ who give guidance, a community of writers and are organisers of the amazing Festival of Writing in York.  I will be submitting again soon once I have researched another few agents. It’s all about finding the right fit for the manuscript. I know there is an agent out there somewhere who will love it as much as I do or will be willing to work with me if there are flaws that I'm not seeing. Either way, I will keep going.

Windmill Writers is slowly growing, some very keen writers, those new to writing and those who have much work to do, but have the determination to go for publication. We are all learning. Even those of us who have been working at our craft for years are still acquiring new skills. It is great to have a proactive team of writers around you when you are unsure if a scene is working.

For this week’s writing prompt I have been out and about. I took the photograph below on Sunday evening and thought it might just conjure up some interesting thoughts as a prompt. 

There are no rules for this task. Write what you feel. You might like to try a stream of writing, just start with one thought and keep going until any following thoughts falter and ebb away to nothing. Or try a different genre or writing style.

So go on, get writing. 

Friday, 22 May 2015

Writing Dilemma

There is so much going on at the moment. I've made some big decisions on the work front, but still have some decisions to make regarding my writing direction. I've been working on my adult thrillers and also my children’s manuscripts. I am stuck between continuing writing both or to drop one for the other. My problem is that I've had great feedback from agents/book doctors/editors on all of them. I am struggling to decide. I've been told to write the thing that appeals most and therein lies the problem, my head is full of each of them I love writing both genres – it is a quandary! Anyone who knows my writing, feel free to help me by posting either Children’s or Thrillers or both.

I've just ordered my new writing business cards for my children’s writing from Vista Print I didn't have an image so I had a look on www.freevector.com and found a beautiful image showing a book with many objects coming out of it, called: Everyone has their fantasy by Lovelymaa Avian’s Creations. If you are looking for an image it is a great place to go. I have put a credited the illustrator on my business card and have spread the word here and on twitter. I already have cards for my thrillers which I sorted out last year. This is all in the hope that one day, I will find that allusive agent and publishing deal. Can you tell I like to be prepared? 
Okay enough about me I have selected the following image for you to use as your writing prompt.

You need to include the following words:
Regret – laughter – tranquillity – storm – broken
How you craft this piece of writing is up to you, but think about who your audience might be. Dare I suggest that you find a magazine to focus you writing and then submit your work?

So go on, get writing. 

Sunday, 17 May 2015

The Roller-coaster Ride of Writing.

The love of crafting characters and throwing them into your plot is the passion that great books are made of, but getting to that stage is a convoluted road to travel. The level plains are to be used lightly, giving way more often than not for the undulating roller-coaster that is the conflict and resolution within the writing. Getting the balance right is the challenge.

‘Slow it down!’ I have often heard that when writing some of my scenes and yes, once I’d gone back and worked on those sections the story did benefit from reducing the pace giving the reader a moment to breathe. Pace is great, but be cautious don’t over use it. However, don’t slow the work down too much or the reader will get bored – it is a balancing act, get it right and your writing will engage your reader throughout.

My current WIP is coming along nicely and the opening which had much attention required to change it completely, is almost done. I think the end is right and once I’ve finished jigsawing the old and new together, I believe it will flow as it should and be ready to share by the end of the year, if not sooner.

The Windmill Writers are a proactive group. The material they are creating, sharing and critiquing varies from writer to writer. Everyone is at a different sage with their work and voices are developing nicely. A group like this isn’t for everyone, but if you are passionate about improving your art, honing your skills and sharing you knowledge with others, then a writing group might be for you. No one likes having their work scrutinised, but by sharing in this way, major and minor areas that need re working are spotted. Of course it is up to the author to make the changes or not. One area that keeps coming up is the dreaded ‘Show not Tell’. We all do it and sometimes don’t notice it until we read out aloud. Or the over use of certain words. And of course there are the missing ‘Bells & Smells’ as I like to call them. A writing group worth its name won’t sit and say, oh my, that is delightful, they will get to the nitty-gritty and as an author that is what you should be looking for – constructive criticism which will help you hone your work.

For the writing prompt this week, please look at the image below and create a piece of writing which best shows your own writing skills for the art of description. 

Think about what smells, and sounds you might experience. What does the weather feel like, is the sun hot, warm or is there a cold wind lapping around your ears? Think about the setting. Is this a romantic setting of two lovers, or a lonely moment for a singleton? Who is looking out on the scene in front of them? Perhaps you could try your hand at poetry. Whatever you decide to do enjoy your writing time as that will show in your end piece.

So go on, get writing. 

Friday, 8 May 2015

Writing festivals, conferences and days.

Writing conferences or festivals are great places to give you creative juices a boost or inject a bit of creativity to help you find or improve your writing skills and hone your craft. The networking is amazing and you get the opportunities to spend time with agents, editors and book doctors along with workshops, lectures and so much more.

Below you will find in date order three conference/ festival/ day opportunities. Take a look and book your place. 

Winchester Writers' Festival.
If you are looking to get inspiration or inject a stream of creativity into your writing or you feel you have begun to flag, then why not take a look at the Winchester Writers' Conference which is running from the 19th - 21st June 2015. A weekend with Friday evening and Sunday morning workshops where you sit and write with like minded people. Check out the link here: Winchester Writers' Festival

The Festival of Writing, 2015. York.

The Festival of Writing - York, is now open for bookings for the 4th - 6th September 2015. This is the biggest of the conferences and one of the busiest. I suggest booking early so as not to miss the opportunity to bag a place. Emerse yourself in the world of writing. Learn your craft, hone your skills and network along with attending workshops, experience the One-to-One's with agents, editors, book doctors and publishers. Network through breakfast, lunch and dinner along with the evening social events and bar where many contacts are made. There is so much to do here and if you're lucky, you will get time to write. Take a look at the link here:  Festival of Writing YORK

Get Writing Day is a one day writing experience on the 26th September 2015 which offers many of the options above but with fewer agents/editors or book doctors than the bigger conferences. However, this is a great event to get your work critiqued, network and develop your writing skills, have face time meetings and much more. It attracts many delegates and the VWC have many published authors within their fold to help and guide budding authors. Take a look at their link: Get Writing Day - Watford 

So go on, take a look and book, what are you waiting for. 

Saturday, 2 May 2015

How did we get to May so quickly? I know I’ve been very busy, but my goodness I have been lax.

There are many reasons for this, which I can’t go into here well at least not yet, but I have been writing and editing with two WIPs. I'm loving getting my head down and manipulating characters and reworking previously completed manuscript. It was two weeks ago when I went to the Windmill Writers, in Chipperfield, Hertfordshire, that I read out a scene I loved, but really didn't take the story any further. I had to cut it out and exchange it for a couple of sentences. This works much better and gives scope for a more character driven script. The more I rip out the better the story arc appears.

I am currently working of submissions for a publishing house for which I'm hoping to get some further guidance before submitting. If not, I’ll submit what I have and hope that all is correct. I can’t let this opportunity pass me by. Tomorrow will be yet another busy morning of finishing touches to the submissions and then… off they go. Always hoping for a positive result.

The writing tasks for this week are listed below. Select one, two or three or perhaps you can do all three.
  • Use all the words listed here in one piece of writing. Blade – Pasture – Vixen – Haze – Gum and Drawer.
  • Use the following sentence as the opening to a piece of writing. The shadows shivered with fear and there was little anyone could do.
  • Use the image as inspiration to write a piece of creative writing.

I hope the above inspire you imagination to write and remember these prompts are here to get you thinking out of your comfort zone – try something new.

So go on, get writing. 

Sunday, 5 April 2015

A little Easter time writing.

Another great week overall.

Firstly I have been writing well, small amounts but it feels like my current WIP is solidly moving forward. I'm particularly pleased as this is the work I've been jigsaw puzzling. Only when I've finished putting the puzzle back together will I know if I have actually achieved what I have set out to do, but currently it looks like it is heading in the right direction. I'm enjoying the journey with this one and hope the end result will be all I hope it will be.

I have submitted some of my picture books for consideration to a publishing house who are accepting manuscripts from authors direct. I felt this was worth a look. I’ll let you know what happens here.
I have been out with lunch with friends again and found another lovely place to eat in Berkhamsted. The Kings Head. The interior of the pub is a blend of old worldly with large open fire which welcomes you in on a cold Saturday lunch time, to leather and solid wood. The restaurant is tastefully done with large glass floor to ceiling windows, nicely spaced out tables and attentive staff. The food was delicious. I have allergies and they worked around those to ensure my meal was perfect. I had lime, coriander & chilli chicken (succulent) with sweet potato chips, side salad and a chilli dip. For desert a rather naughty Sticky Toffee pudding with vanilla ice cream. I couldn't fault it and will certainly go there again.

For this week’s prompt I am giving you the choice of three things. Take one of the first line prompts and continue with the story. You could make it as difficult as you would like by adding a second or third opening within your work. Make sure you include sight, smell, feeling, sounds and weave them into your writing.

  1. The parliamentary candidate appeared on my door step just when…
  2. The accident happened right in front of me – I was running late so…
  3. Jessica had lined her Easter eggs, all six, on the windowsill, before we went out for the day, the sun came out an hour later and chocolate devastation had occurred.

So go on, get writing. 

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Writing Wonders with Afternoon Tea

What a lovely few days I've had. It was my birthday and I've been spoilt by both friends and family. Eaten too well, had a few glasses of vino and it hasn't finished yet. I'm off to Lussmann’s again on Friday and Saturday with two separate friends. I'm a lucky lady. I fear that I might have to do a bit more exercise over the next two weeks to make up for all that delicious food. 

I've taken time off from work to enjoy some much needed ‘Me Time’. I've managed to get quite a lot of writing done and I believe I'm getting closer to sorting out the soggy middle in my WIP. I'm doing it by the jigsaw method! That is my name for it. Pull it apart take out bits that don’t work, rewrite and edit what is left. I think it is working, but time will tell. The most important part of all of this is that I am having fun with it, and if that can shine out of the writing then I have achieved my goal.
The Windmill Writers meeting this week was a mish-mash of readings, discussions regarding plot developments and editing processes. It is interesting to hear how other people develop their work.
For the writing prompt this week you have a treat in store.

Set yourself up a table for afternoon tea – eat alone or invite a friend. Cakes, sandwiches, tea etc. then sit down and partake. But, you have to make note on what happens. What things taste like, smell like, do the smells complement each other clash? What sort of conversation do you have? Or if you are alone, what are your thoughts during this experience? When you have finished your writing treat, you need to incorporate all the notes you have made into a short story for a magazine. However, before you set to writing, you will need to research which magazine you are going to submit your work to. Each publication will have its own house style for which you will need to work too.

So, if you are up for the challenge, go on get writing.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Behind locked doors.

I have been very busy this weekend. Out for an early birthday lunch with my sister at Lussmann in Harpenden. The staff are always very attentive, but not in that annoying way of overcrowding, but in a discreet and unobtrusive manner. The food, as always was delicious and the portions perfect. One of my favourite places. My intention is to go there more often – well as often as I can.
I've been up in London, Richmond with my son. We had hot chocolate on a boat on the Themes and looked around, next time I go up he is showing me around KEW. It was a good day.

On the writing front, the meeting on Wednesday of the Windmill Writers was full of fun. Spontaneous writing from objects found inside a yellow cloth bag. A blind fold was placed across the eyes before dipping the hand into the bag and withdrawing an item. Then to feel, smell and taste if you fancied, before looking to see what you had selected. Then five minutes to write a description of what you have found using all the bells and smells. It was good fun and much laughter was had. This is an activity we will do again.
This week’s topic task is another photo prompt. Look at the image below and create either a short story, poem or just describe what you see. With all of these remember to make the piece come alive on the page. Make your reader believe you are there as you write.


So go on, get writing.

Saturday, 14 March 2015

What a week! Issues everywhere, but it is over and done with now and I'm able to take the two days to recuperate. During this madness, I have managed to send of my submission. I have chosen to try an agency who are currently accepting unsolicited manuscripts and are looking to nurture new writers, because that is how I see myself . I know I have had some small successes with publication, but not for my novels. I am positive that there is so much more for me to learn and to gain the support of an agent willing to work closely with me to shape and edit as required is what I am looking for. This isn't going to be an easy task, but I will strive to find the right support for me and therefore develop as a writer. I have the passion and hope that one day children will be able to lose themselves inside my books for a journey that helps to encourage their own creativity. (I miss working at the school, where I could share my writing with the children)

I now need to re-join SCBWI UK - I was a member, many years ago, but have been away for a while. I am awaiting an email response to see if I can either re-establish my lapsed membership or re-register as a new member. I hope to hear very soon.  

For this week’s writing prompt I'm asking you to look closely at the photo prompt below. Select a person or group of people in the image to write about. What are they doing? What is their issue? Why are they there? Or who are they going to meet? These are only some of the questions you need to be asking yourself before you start putting pen to paper or fingers to the keyboard.

So what are you waiting for, get writing. 

Saturday, 7 March 2015

It has been a good week. The sun has been out most days and as I write, it is streaming in through the sitting-room window. Its warmth taking away the frustration of having a cold, which sneaked up on me last night. The gardening today will have to be replaced by writing and perhaps I might be able to get out and plant up my rabbit hutch planters.
There is so much to do out there if I want to have some nice late spring, early summer flowers.

The tulips are well on the way up as are the bluebells along with the daffodils.  I noticed yesterday that the bleeding heart taken from my father’s garden when the property was sold has just pushed its head out from the ground. I'm pleased to see it has survived the winter frosts.

Last autumn I changed the position of a mock cherry tree that had been struggling in the back garden and replanted her in the front. I checked her out last weekend and found she is in bud. I'm hoping she will now thrive. I have many plans for the garden this year, no funds to do the changes I would like, but I love the idea of making changes even if I have to do up-cycling inexpensive ways to achieve the look I want.

The Windmill writing group are producing some good work which gives me direction. The discussions are helpful and constructive, no coating it with sugar, just honest opinions, which often conflict – giving food for thought. It is inspiring and enables me to push forward, however slowly. I have decided to work on my children’s writing for a while so that the thoughts around the Thrillers can mature before going back to them. First submissions are eminent.

I am giving you three writing prompts for this week. You can do all, two or one of them. I hope you will be inspired to write. Remember to put in the bells and smells. Sounds, thoughts, feelings and the smells. Don’t hold back on dialogue but don’t overload your writing with it. The key is to find the right balance.

  • Five little words: Drain – wine – Slim – Passport – Cards. Put all of these words in a story aimed at the magazine market.
  • Take it or leave it. Use this as your starting point of a piece of writing from the point of view of either a male or female. If you are male, try writing as a female and vice versa.
  • Photo prompt: 

So, what are you waiting for, go on, get writing.