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, 5 June 2016

Four weeks on and a writing prompt.

So here we are four weeks in tomorrow. I am able to do so much more, but still have to be careful and pace myself. It is still surprising me how tired I am after doing the simplest of things – half an hour feels like two hours – not good, I am working on building this time up as quickly as I can.
Work have been pretty amazing with their support. Friends have been popping in and stopping my brain from atrophying – some would say that happened a long time ago, but I keep hoping they are wrong. I know one thing for sure, having this stimulus and visits have made my time recuperating so much easier.
I have been driving a little more and aiming to get my walking up again. That really does tire me out, which is stupid considering before the operation I was walking every day and swiftly. I need to get back to that fitness level again.
Yesterday my lovely neighbour brought my grow bags from my car boot into the garden and placed them ready for me to plant up. I spent a few hours, between lunch and tea breaks planting up the twenty-one runner been plants. I found two seedlings that had only just started to germinate so I’ve put them both in another pot to see if they continue to grow. Time will tell for these. I have been out to check on them this morning and they are all looking good so far. I then planted up five hanging baskets and I’m hoping they will flourish. Today, I’ve got four hanging bags to plant up, two hanging baskets and then all the tubs. I don’t expect to get them all planted up today, but over the next few weeks I hope to be done with the planting. I still need to get someone out to sort out my trees and take away the off cuts - there will be lots.
I’ve not managed to get any writing done in this time apart from these blogs, for which I am sad, but my head just hasn’t been in the right place. Hopefully this will change soon, if not, I’ll wait as it is bound to come back at some point. However, it is great to hear and see that many of my writing friends are doing well, having book launches, submitting and writing and rewriting. It is all happening out there.
If you are looking for a writing prompt, look at the image here and use it to inspire a piece of writing set in a restaurant. You have two characters and you need to focus on the dialogue between them. If you want to bring in other characters that is fine too. I hope you have fun with this one.
So go on, get writing.

Monday, 30 May 2016

Three weeks in and still improving

I am now three weeks in and doing well. My son returned to London yesterday and I dropped him at the train station. I have been reminded by my body, that although I am healing, I am still not right. All the extra gear changes had me realising what muscles you actually use to drive. I need to build up the muscle toning again. This has been started, but on a very basic easily controlled toning. Little and often rather than the 30 odd reps that I was used to doing. Now we are up to six of each exercise and then repeating this three times a day. So much less than I would like to be doing.
Today, I've done a few jobs – my first half hour of ironing, a little dusting and later I'm hoping to make some cupcakes. I had intended to go to the garden centre to pick up a few plants and grow bags, but it is cold and damp and I will need help bringing in the grow bags so I really can’t do that yet.
My intention is to go into work on Wednesday for a couple of hours and then work from home for a few hours each day to bring myself up to date with what has been going on. I'm looking forward to getting back into the swing of things. My major issue is getting over the tiredness I feel after doing the simplest of tasks. This is something else I need to improve too.
My garden is looking better with the grass mown and some of the long grasses and weeds have been pulled up. There is still much to do to get the garden where it should be now, but I just have to be patient and do it slowly. However, there are some beetroot shoots growing, stocks, hollyhocks and a couple of the lilies are poking their heads through. 
I'm happy with the few things I’ve managed to get done, I’d just have liked to have done some more by now. I'm sure once everything comes together the garden will look stunning.

I have at last thrown away my old rotary washing line and have replaced it with a new one. My son set it up yesterday, however it is not quite straight, but will be soon. It will be nice to be able to dry the washing outside once again. It will have that fresh air smell to it – that can’t be beaten.
I am also hoping to get some of my writing done. I'm beginning to get the itch of writing again, but not enough to start yet. I do hope this itch will get stronger quickly and when I get back to it things will flow.
As I’ve been away from the Windmill Writers group, the circle I run at the Windmill Pub in Chipperfield, the meetings haven’t happened. Unfortunately, I'm not ready to go back to lead them yet, but I am hoping that they will rectify this and meet up. It is so easy for a group to break up when they don’t meet for a period of time, so guy’s and girls pull your fingers out and get meeting up. I'm looking forward to reading some update posts on our Facebook page. I'm looking forward to joining you all in three week’s time if things go to plan here.

Saturday, 28 May 2016

Improving all the time

The writing still hasn't happened this week, but on the upside I have been resting and my health has continued to improve. This has been a week which has had me wanting to do more, but although this is good in so many ways, it isn't good when what I've wanted to do is the hoovering, mowing and a good deep clean. Thankfully, my son arrived on Tuesday evening and has done many of the jobs for me. It is a very strange feeling sitting back and letting others, especially your son doing the work you would normally find easy.
Wednesday afternoon found us trying emergency stops in the car before having a short drive. I was able to do a reverse emergency stop and one going forward with no pain. Thankfully the little drive down and back to Salisbury's was uneventful. In the shop we strolled around with Frazer in charge of the trolley and lifting anything heavy. I have to admit that the rest of the afternoon was spent chilling on the sofa watching films. It had taken quite a lot out of me. It made me see that I still have quite a long way to go. Thursday was another chill out day with a small trip to the doctors and a little stroll down the high street and more time with my wonderful son.
Friday had us having birthday cake for breakfast and stake for lunch and then spending time in the garden. My son has very bad hay fever, but he braved the evil pollen when he mowed the lawns for me. He did suffer afterwards but quite enjoyed the experience of mowing.  Later he went off to have birthday drinks with his friends. I can hardly believe he is now twenty-five, where have those years gone. As I have been unable to go out, I had to rely on the internet for all his gifts. Thankfully everything arrived on time and the card from Moon Pig was really rather good. I've never used them before, but I would again.
Work have been pretty amazing throughout this whole operation thing. I'm going to be working for short bursts over the next two weeks to bring me back up to speed with everything that has been happening whilst I've been off. I'm looking forward to using my brain again, but I'm aware that this will also be tiring and I will be listening to my body, no worries about over doing it.
If you are looking for a writing prompt for the weekend, here it is.
Below are three opening lines. Select one and write a short story maximum words 3000. Aim to target this for a woman’s magazine. Research the magazines submission policy and ensure your read at least three issues to tailor your manuscript to the house style and then submit your work.
1. Yesterday couldn't have gone any better…
2. Tomorrow is only two hours away and …
3. So this is it, this is the moment that…
So go on, get writing.

Monday, 23 May 2016

Two weeks on

It is now two weeks since my operation and if you had told me I would be feeling quite this good at this point I wouldn’t have believed you, since at this time last week I was in bed with my ‘Storm Trouper’ legs, feeling quite spaced out, but good, that’s before the general antithetic worked its way out of my system and reality kicked in.
Now this time has passed and it has been a good day. The doctor is happy with my progress, but still have to behave. The Insurance company are happy for me to drive again when I feel I am ready – looking at having a go on Wednesday. Let’s hope the sun is out so I don’t have to worry about rain too.
My wonderful neighbour Jess has come and cut my front lawn, so the house looks nice and tidy at the front, and the back will soon look the same. And now my amazing neighbours have given me their old BBQ and Chris has somehow managed to get my old, ruined ‘Wirly Gig’ washing line down, all that needs doing is the bottom stumpy part needs digging out. This will be another job for my son. The only problem is there is a rather large red ants nest there. Lots of ant powder and boiling water I think will be required at first.
I’ve had a friend, Terry, from my old job call around to see me, which was really lovely. I haven’t seen him for a year. It was great to catch up and find out what changes have taken place. With the sun shining down we had coffee in the garden we fought with the fluffy pollen coming off the other neighbour’s tree. I don’t know what the tree is, but it is infuriating. It happens at this time every year, the house and garden are covered in fluff that sticks to everything! Last week it was petals from the apple tree and the week before blossom from the pear trees.
Every time I look in my little plastic green house, now seedlings are appearing and others are getting stronger and taller. I can’t wait to plant them all up. Unfortunately, there is still no sign of the double and single petunias or even my own tomato plants.
It has poured with rain and there is a rumbling of thunder close by. I’m hoping this will dissipate as I really hate night storms.
My naughty treat today was from Christine, who has made me a trifle, which was huge, but was delicious.
With every day, I’m moving forward and getting stronger. Still going steady, no long walks or heavy lifting, but little tiny bits getting ready for the other stuff. 

Friday, 20 May 2016

Post operation blog and writing prompt.

 Post operation blog. Gosh, I'm surprised how tired, no exhausted I have been. That is to say, I don’t feel tired all the time, but after doing the simplest of things I've found myself shattered. I suppose I was hoping I would be superwoman and be able to pick up quickly and keep going. No, Nada, that hasn't happened. I have slept, vegged, chilled and drifted off in front of the TV, Films and even reading. I've not had the incentive to write – not even edit! On the upside my mind has also chilled and I've not been thinking about the day job either. I know if I do, I’ll worry, and that isn't conducive to the healing process. I have discovered stitches hurt, especially when you move unexpectedly and they pull in different directions! Painful. On the upside, I'm eleven days in and things are easing up, but ever-so-often, a mean little shooting pain screams and I have to ride it out. Today is the first day of cutting out some of the pain killers, this is a slow process but a necessary one. I am keen to get back to work, so I can earn some money, but I'm listening to my body as there is no point in starting back too early and having to have more time off later because I've put my healing process back due to my own inpatients.
Thanks to my friends and family, you know who you are, for
flowers and cards that have made me smile. Particularly on those days when things haven’t been quite as good. Getting shopping for me, weeding, hoovering, helping with the washing and cat litter, giving me lifts and just being here to ensure that I'm behaving. For the phone calls, popping in for chats that stop me going stir crazy have been instrumental in keeping me sane! Well, as sane as I could possibly be. There is still one large job that needs attention, so anyone willing to make friends with my lawn mower would be greatly welcomed. I cut the lawn before the operation, but with the rain and sun the grass has thrived – too much and is in need of another haircut.
I've not been online much, but have found a nasty virus on my computer, which is proving stubborn to remove. Thankfully, my son will be able to sort this out for me next week. It will be so lovely to see him and for once I'm going to have to let him do all the cooking and cleaning. Shhh don’t tell him or he might change his mind.
One of the things that made all the lovely ladies in my ward laugh were the ‘Storm Trouper’ legs. These were essential to ensure that the circulation in our legs was kept moving whilst we were recovering from our operation. However, they did feel good as it was like having a gentle leg massage, the down side, they were very noisy so sleep was not easy. I was in St. Albans Hospital, De La Mare ward and had the most wonderful care from the cleaning staff to the consultants. Nothing was too much trouble for them and the teamwork was excellent. Everyone had a smile, food, tea and the sweet trolleys arrived with great regularity and great care was given throughout my stay. Nothing was too much trouble. A big thank you to you all for your support. I was scarred going in, as I had recently lost my father, and the last memory I had of being in hospital was being there for the final moments of my father’s life. Knowing this they went out of their way to make sure I didn't have a meltdown. I can’t thank you enough. And this was through our wonderful NHS. I can’t praise them enough.
With my comment with my ‘Storm Trouper’ legs above, I have posted a picture of this. Your task is to write a piece of creative writing using the image as your stimulus.

So go on, get writing. 

Friday, 29 April 2016

Write a story through images.

This week has gone passed really quickly, in a haze if I'm honest, of preparations and work! I’ve been doing long hours to catch up and trying to keep things running smoothly. The project has taken a leap forward which means more to do and it needs a quick turnaround. I love it, but blimey, when do I get to breath?
My sister and I have managed to get everything sorted for Dad’s send off, my brother-in-law has produced a lovely order of service and my sister’s eulogy is beautiful. The wake has been organised at the local public house where both my sister and I would often spend time with Dad. We’d go for a walk around the woods and stop off for a drink or meal before setting off home. Good times.
I didn't get to the writing meeting this week, as I've been pretty tired and needed me time. Friends and family have been a great support. I'm looking forward to having my son home for a few days this extended weekend and getting those special hugs that only a son can give.
I'm getting some help with a project that I'm going to be working on during May and I hope to have managed to finish the venture by the end of the month. If it all goes to plan, you will see images up on here. I'm quite excited about it and hope the inhabitants will be too once they move in.
If you are looking for a writing prompt for the weekend, here it is.
Look at the images and use each in a piece of writing. Select the order in which you are going to use them and make your characters work their way through each, making sure you use description to develop atmosphere and link the images – and of course the smells and bells should be in attendance.

So go on, get writing. 

Sunday, 24 April 2016

A tough week.

The last week has been a very tough one. On Friday 15th April my father was rushed into hospital, he later passed away in the very early hours of Sunday 17th. My sister and me were beside him, it was a peaceful end. We believe that he could hear our daft chatter towards the end and knew that we would both be secure and safe whilst we know he is no longer suffering.

I would like to thank everyone for all their kind thoughts on Facebook and the beautiful thoughts in sent in cards. These have meant so much to me and my family.
Needless to say, I haven't done any writing this week; apart from my journal and for the foreseeable future it will be on hold. However, should the inspiration kick in, I will be giving it a go. Dad loved my stories and he’d hate me to give up now.
Work has been hard, I've been in and out, which may seem odd, but I've needed to keep busy.

I have set a writing task for this week. Over the last month I've been chopping down things in the garden and hoping to have a burn up. However, the rain has had other thoughts, every time I've been out to light it, it has rained or the cuttings are too damp. The image below should inspire you to write a piece of poetry. Writing poetry was one of the things my father loved to do and he loved a good bonfire.

So go on, get writing.

Sunday, 17 April 2016

The weeks round up

This week has been full of great, frustrating and amusing moments. With my work, we have moved forward and things are, dare I say it, looking up. There is still a long way to go in some directions, but overall things are looking good.
Writing has been slower than normal due to the work load at work. But having said that, I have made small inroads into another new project. I have submitted one of my 7+ novels and as it is very quirky I am hoping the readers will find it great fun and see its potential.
The session at the Windmill Writers was once again full of writerly chatter. Lucy kicked us off with her children’s novel. This is shown in two peoples pov. One of the chapters had good balance, but the other needed work. The main thing was to show the other characters in the story instead of telling us what they were doing. This encouraged a great amount of chat and I think Lucy will not find this issue again.
Alan was next to share. He was writing the second in his picture book series. Like the first, it has a lot of possibilities but needs some hard pruning to use a horticultural term. Too many words for a picture book. Picture books are one of the hardest things to write as you have so few words and everyone has to count. Which is true for all writing, but especially important when writing picture books. I’m looking forward to seeing the much shortened version next week.
Then Nicki shared some of her first every YA novel opening. This has an interesting plot and feels like it will develop into an interesting story. She has always has plotted out the complete storyline and has created all her character’s beautifully. I'm looking forward to hearing more of this and the rewrite of the opening, just to tighten slightly. Bloody amazing for a first draft, but that isn’t unexpected with Nicki.
Lastly I read some of my 7+ novel that I've submitted to one of the publishing houses. It had one of my audience looking totally confused, due to the strange characters and language used. The other two giggled along with the story and said they thought it very inventive with a touch of the Roald Dahl about it.
Over all it was another active session and along with all the reading and critiques, we were involved in lots of interactive writerly chatter.
The writing task for this week, should you chose to take the challenge. This is a simple one. Keep a diary of a week and from that diary write a short story using many of the aspects you have noted down. Remember to go into detail with your diary recording.

So go on, get writing. 

Saturday, 9 April 2016

Looking forward to a burn up!

One thing is for sure, this week has been ridiculous! Simple as that, completely bonkers, but in a good way, work just didn't stopped coming in. Having said that, I have enjoyed it. Amongst this madness, I've had my physiotherapy and I'm doing well. Things are looking up; I just hope it will continue to keep improving.
I attended the YGAW meeting where we discussed submissions, chatting about keeping the plot and changing the characters and this was so inspiring that one of the member has now started writing their first YA novel. I have as previously mentioned in my last blog, I have a new synopsis and I'm sending this off later today with the opening chapters of a 7+ novel. I can only hope it will fall under the right nose of the right person at the right time and with a touch of luck, maybe it will find a home. Time will tell. I'm looking forward to getting on with improving my planning for my YA that has been on hold for a while and writing up the edits I did on my 9+ which will mean I'll be able to send that out soon.
Yesterday, Friday, after another long day I met up with my friend Christine and we spent a delightful three hours putting the world to rights. It was lovely to catch up and share what life has been challenging us with.

After my activities in the garden last week, I have been out and purchased a new incinerator and a large paving slab to stand it on. I have been chopping and breaking down wood to burn. I filled the burner and had a pile to replenish once the fire got sorted proper, however, no matter how hard I tried to get it started, it refused. It refused umpteen times! I stuffed it with paper but, no it wasn't having any of it. So I guess I’ll never make it as an arsonist and if that wasn't bad enough, it then started to rain. I will go out again later with a fire lighter in hand 
and if that doesn't work, I’ll give up


Today’s writing task is to find the third book, on the second shelf of your bookcase, turn to page 65 and from line seven select the sentence that starts or finishes on this line. Use this as the opening line of your piece of writing. Think about writing a monologue or non-fiction piece.

So go on, get writing.

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Meeting was cancelled so synopsis was attacked.

The midweek writing meeting at the Windmill Pub Chipperfield didn't happen this Wednesday. We were all off doing other things. 

After a long day at work, I did manage to get some writing done. My goal was to rewrite my synopsis which I have been working on for ages! And it has never gone right.

One of my previous attempts had been read at the last meeting, it was awful. So having tried again, I sent it off to writing friends and the feedback was okay, but one in particular rewrote the opening sentences and bam! there it was. I made a few alterations, very small and then the rest flowed beautifully.

I have once again shared it and I have tweaked again and I'm quite happy with it. I still hate synopsis but I’ll send this one out and with a pinch of luck it will be good enough to show what my manuscript is about. 

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Working hard in the garden.

I don’t normally write a weekend blog, but I've been working so hard in the garden today I wanted to share it with you. After getting the daily chores out of the way and having a visit with my Dad, he told me to go as it was his lunch time, so I left him to it. I got home and after a much needed cup of tea and a bag of ready salted crisps, I know how to live, I headed out to my poorly neglected garden.

I started with the mowing of the lawns. I say lawns, but to be honest it is mostly a mix of meadow grass, weeds and moss, but it still needs cutting. This was the first cut of the year, and I was surprised how well my old mower coped with the length and slight dampness of the grass.

After this I set about doing a little weeding and sorting out of pots, there are still many pots to sort out! I cut back the honeysuckle and pruned the baby pink rose and discovered the tulip bulbs have grown and have flower heads. They were hiding behind grasses and stinging nettles. And for once I didn't sting myself.

Then after an orange club biscuit I grabbed the loppers and started cutting back the second giant buddleia. It had to be at least 16’ tall, much bigger than me. I cut back with the loppers as much as I could, and then resorted to the saw for the larger branches that were four to five inches thick. This took rather a lot longer than I had anticipated. But it is down and now just needs to be burnt once it has dried off a bit.

 I didn't get to prune back the pear tree as I will need another pair of hands to ensure that the branches that I cut off are pulled away from the neighbour’s fence as I don’t want it smashing them down, as they were newly erected last summer. I did a little pruning of the lower branches but the larger ones, which are once again over 14’ tall I will need help.

I'm about to make up my new barbecue/log burner ready for use and make up my plastic greenhouse. I'm looking forward to growing my own seedlings this year, so I’ll be sowing seeds tomorrow on Monday.

I've loved my time in the garden. I'm looking forward to getting it looking beautiful once again. I must ensure I am more proactive with my gardening care this summer and going on into the winter. 

Friday, 1 April 2016

Persistence is the key to everything.

How is it that a four-day week always seems longer then a five-day week with overtime? I think it is because you try so hard to get everything done in a shorter time and push yourself close to the abyss in doing so. Having said that, it’s been an interesting, enjoyable week.

On the writing side I have worked very hard on getting the opening chapter of my thriller, pitch and mini biography to the best of my ability. I checked to find out if the novel had to be complete and thankfully it didn't so I was able to enter. I believe in this piece so I hope that it finds a friendly reader the other end. As always I’ll let you know if it gets anywhere. I am now working on a synopsis for another submission, and I'm finding it very difficult. Persistence is the key and I'm hopeful that with a visit to the YGAW group this weekend will help me get the balance right.

I had lots of times with friends last weekend, my birthday, doing me things and an unexpected communication from an old friend that made me smile – lots of memories, lots of wonderful people I feel blessed to have such good friends.

I've been shopping with birthday money. A new log burner come barbecue, three fire fly garden lanterns, which I can’t turn on as I can’t get the lids off. I think I need someone with stronger hands than me. I think the neighbour will be tasked with that tomorrow. I've bought a plastic greenhouse so that I can start sowing my seeds that I also bought. I’ll be trying the burner out this weekend. My main task for this weekend will be trying to get the garden tidied up from the ravages of the winter. There is so much to do. One of the main things is to cut down the second large buddleia and bring the pear tree down about seven foot. Me a ladder and a hand saw. It should prove interesting.

If you are looking for something to write about this weekend my writing prompt might just get you scribbling away. This beautiful sculpture was given to me by my sister for my birthday. Look at the three dancers and give each a character and write the conversation that they are having whilst practising at the barre. 

So go on, get writing.

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Windmill Writers, Hertfordshire write up 30/03/2016

Yet another small meeting with a new face to many and an old face to me popping in for the evening. It was lovely to welcome Clem to the fold for the night. Clem is a member of the Verulam Writers Circle based in St. Albans, as was I many years ago. It was inspirational to hear his comments on synopsis writing which is the bane of many writers. I will be using his insight tomorrow when I attempt to write a synopsis that is a synopsis and not just another telling of the story. I do so struggle with this aspect of the submission process.

We have a few more entries in our submitted – accepted and accepted & paid for book. This is now totalling 17 submissions. The aim of the book is to inspire the group to think of ways of getting their work out in the public domain and if possible be paid for it. In doing this you get to share the pain and delights that come your way with the group.

This week Alan started the show with a much improved version of his picture book text. He has worked hard on getting the syntax and rhyme right with this. There are a couple of tweaks needed just to make to a few of the stanzas but once that is done he will be submitting his first piece.

Sanjit was next up with the next excerpt of his WIP Malabar Spice. This again was emotive. It was beautifully written with some evocative sections. It was felt however that there were moments when the view point altered, if only briefly, and there needed to be a little more of the thoughts and feelings from Mamet as we are seeing the story through his eyes. I wanted a little more about the situation within the building and the bumps in the cart to be shown. This could all be easily be put right.

Clem then read some of his piece – Colin. This was solidly in the pov of his protagonist. It was humorous, slightly rude, very blokey, and had everyone engaged. He is a master of unique lines and beautiful sentence structure. Throughout the piece there was the peaks and troughs of tension, sex, inner thoughts and the introduction of the unexpected were nicely crafted into the work. It was interesting to hear everyone’s view on how the story would finish. We may never know; it all depends on when we next have Clem’s company around the table. I for one would love to see where he takes it from where he left us hanging.

Then it was my turn. I read my awful synopsis and thankfully everyone hadn't fallen asleep at the end of it, but it wasn’t good. Through discussion, I now have a better idea of how I will approach and this tomorrow I will settle down and give it a go.

Over all it was a good session. We missed Lucy, Marc and Nicki but hope they will be with us next time.

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Deadlines can improve productivity.

The last week was very busy, so much so that it got to Thursday and I realised that I had to completed everything as Friday was the bank holiday and my birthday. For the first time in many years I wasn't working. So I finished up for the week and headed out for a long weekend.

Yesterday, I spent my birthday writing. It is so lovely to set aside a day to just write. I managed to finish edits, submit three novel ideas, two 9+ and one YA. And on the Thursday I sent out another picture book. This year I need to be more proactive and get more manuscripts out in the world. I used to submit quite often and get great feedback which has been both encouraging and inspiring. I believe my writing has improved because of this. Of course I've had and will probably continue to get rejections, which is path of the course when aiming for publication. But my hope is, that one day my work will arrive under the nose of the right person, at the right time and with a large pinch of luck that person will love my creations and I will get to see my work in the hands of excited children. One thing is sure, I have to write.

My writing circle, Windmill Writers, had a great time this Wednesday where we read, marked and adjudicated our first short story competition. There was also cake as it was one member’s birthday, I’ll have to take cake next week. The next competition will be for the Trophy which is held by the winner for three months. I'm currently working on what the genre to set it in and need to work out what prompt I will give them; it may be an image to start them off.

The next competition entry that I will be entering is for thriller writing. I'm just honing my submission and have five days to get it in. I'm loving these challenges because they help me to improve my work, but also the deadlines aid my productivity, without too much editing needed at the end.

The writing prompt should you decided to have ago is to use the following words along with the image and create a short piece of writing suitable for a woman’s magazine short story.

Kitten heels, Hot-dog, electric cable. 

So go on, get writing. 

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Competition Winners Announced.

Sanjit, Susan, Marc
It was competition night at the Windmill Writers. There was a good amount of entries for our first Short Story competition. The premise was for the great grandson Winston, to tell his great grandmother Constance that her younger brother, Joseph had died. The entries were put up around the room and each member had a marking sheet on which they marked each piece of writing out of 3. They were allowed to mark their own piece of work with only 1 mark and at the end, all the marks were totalled and the one with the highest mark won. We had a tie for the highly commended and commended slots. So those who were not involved discussed and re-voted to decide the placement.
The following titles were submitted: Bad Blood, Mistaken Identity, Trouble with Constance, Grave News and Bless his Cotton Socks.

Commended was: Grave News by Marc Abbot
Highly Commended was: Bless his Cotton Socks by Sanjit Joseph
And the winning entry was: Trouble with Constance by Susan K Franklin.

Yes, it was rather odd awarding myself the prize of the note book and new Windmill Writers pencil, but I do love my note books and I will find a good use for it. I will be setting the next trophy competition at the end of May and another note book and pencil writing competition in June after the adjudication of the trophy is awarded.  

As we had a little time left at the end of the meeting, Alan showed us some of his photographs that show orbs, it also showed us how well travelled his is. We also had an opportunity to listen to the reworked picture book Alan had been working on. It is really becoming a stronger story and with a few more jiggles and a little more characterisation it will be ready. Picture books are really hard to write as the wordage is limited and every word has to count and the story needs to stand alone and still give as much imagery as possible. Not an easy task. We are looking forward to hearing the changes next week.

It was also lovely to see one of our founding members stopping in for the night. He is sorely missed by us all and always has good feedback on material. However we were missing Nicki and Lucy from the team.

We now have eleven pieces of work that have been submitted to either competition or publishers in the Windmill Writers Submissions book. We keep this to encourage us to keep writing and as a stimulus to submit work. We will also share our successes and rejections; this way we can support each other when we feel we will never write again – although mostly this only take a few days to get over before our inner writer comes out again and we are off causing the keyboard to overheat with our enthusiasm.

A really great evening. 

Friday, 18 March 2016

Turning writing on its head.

Note books 
Gosh it has been a long week! However, by Thursday it appeared to have flown passed again. I have to make sure one report is ready for Thursday evening and the Friday report by early. It was a push to get it all done this week. With every week, come more challenges and I'm learning more about the industry. Slow and steady, which is good as the brain works well at a slow and steady pace, but can, if required, spurt along at full speed if issues arise from out of left field. Overall a good working week.

The writing front has also been inspiring. I've already posted about the Windmill Writers meeting this week, and I'm pleased to say that I have now written and I'm editing my entry for the competition. What I find great about these writing circle competitions is that they challenge you to think out of your comfort zone, making you try something new and it really doesn't matter if what you create or if it isn't that great; the fact is that you have tried. This competition prize is a new note book. Nothing grand, but if you are a writer, or perhaps it is only me, but note books are the most amazing things. Pure white paper just waiting for the creation of a masterpiece or simply for ideas of novels to come, places to note down snippets of conversations overheard on a bus or in a café on a cold winters day. Notebooks are the manual, tactile creative version of pen-drives and can be treasured for ever.

This week’s writing prompt is to people watch. This can be done wherever you feel comfortable, or uncomfortable depending on the piece of writing you might want to write. Find a place to sit, and watch the people around you and take notes. Look at the interaction they have with others, listen to the conversation, if there is any. Do this for about half an hour and then taking your notes, write a short story incorporating some of the observations you have noted down. Perhaps try to set your observations in a different scenario that might turn the whole thing on its head. Play with it, see what it does for you. I love doing this kind of thing, it opens your eyes to getting out of tricky situations with your characters. Try it, it is fun.

So go on, get writing.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Windmill Writers, Hertfordshire write up 16/03/2016

We were a small group this week, only the four of us, that being said there were some very interesting pieces being read. Also discussions on picture book structure, whether you should address the reader and submission letters kept the group engaged.

First up to the reading stand this week was Marc. He had been working on a new short story for his collection. This WIP has a working title of Book of Relatives. The writing style and descriptions in this piece portrayed the Victorian setting beautifully. From the yellowed dim light and the ticking of the clock in the sitting room to the aromas that enticed the reader deeper into the story. We only heard a section of this piece, but everyone would like to have read more. There were a few minor tweaks to be made to some of the turns of phrase. A really lovely piece of work.

Next up was Lucy. We started by discussing last week’s piece and how the structure might be changed to make it more effective. Lucy then gave us a chapter for the pov of another character which clarified the changed needed in the previous one. This section was clearly written, each character was defined and the dialogue balanced. As always there were some beautiful turns of phrase that made us all smile. This is shaping up to be a very different book. I'm loving it.

Alan surprised us with his first attempt of writing a picture book working title Rex the Guard Dog. This was a great idea. He had worked hard to keep the wordage down and still kept the story. Picture books are one of the hardest things to write as you have to make every work count. We discussed how he could give Rex a little more zip about himself and we ended up panting and living a young dog experiencing life to the full. With a few tweaks and a bit of clever writing, this will shape up well.

Then it was my turn. I read the last of my picture book texts that I have already submitted. It was well received – they liked its quirkiness. Off the back of this we discussed the structure of picture books and then went on to briefly covering submission letters.

Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait two weeks to hear more from these authors as it is the competition next week, for which I already have three entries.  I however, haven’t even started my entry, which could be rather embarrassing if I don’t get my finger out.

Over all a very satisfying evening. 

Friday, 11 March 2016

Work, Writing and Wonderful Weekends.

So it is the end of the week and I arrived home to find a strange parcel on my back-door mat. Now, I wasn't expecting anything and for it to be in the centre of my mat with no way of the postman getting round, it confused me. I got to thinking who would send me a gift and not let me know it was coming? I couldn't think of anyone, so picking it up and going inside I grabbed the scissors and carefully slit open the bag inside were two packs of tulip cupcake cases from the states. I’d forgotten I’d ordered them and it was a pleasant surprise. I will use them for one of my colleagues at work, whose birthday is next Wednesday. I've promised to make strawberry cupcakes for her.

It has been a very busy week at work, which I love, but boy, it has been so busy, I thought I’d never get home each night. I'm looking forward to the new developments that all the change will bring and hope this will enhance my own role. Only time will tell. Above all I'm loving it.

Writing has been going well too. I've previously told you of the thriller competition I've entered, which I hope fits the box they asked for, but if not it was good to try my hand at something new. I've also sent off three of my picture book stories and I can only hope that they curry favour with the editors. Only time will tell, but as always I will let you know how things pan out.

My weekend is looking full once again. Meeting up with friends, baking and if the weather is kind to me I’ll be out in the garden chopping things down and l may be burning, if I can get a new burner as I pulled the old one out from beneath the bush and it was rather rustier than I remembered.

If you would like a writing challenge for this weekend, here it is.

Using the image and the caption as inspiration, write either a short story or poem.

Another night alone with a glass of red.

Go on, get writing. 

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Windmill Writers, Hertfordshire write up 09/03/2016

Update on the Windmill Writers, Hertfordshire meeting on Wednesday 9th March.

It was a fun night. Everyone read and once again improvements had been made. Lots of constructive criticism was given and some great ideas on how to make improvements or offers of trying to find somewhere to place work.

The night started with Marc finishing off his short story Inheritance. I have missed some of this but the piece he read was well structured, had good pace and was full of great imagery. There were a few tweaks that needed to be done, and just a couple of extra aromas were needed to give the reader that complete all-encompassing experience. I feel that with one last edit this short would be ready to find a home outside of the group.

Sanjit followed with another short piece from his current WIP – Malabar Spice. This is shaping up to be a great novel. The concept is convoluted and I can’t wait to hear more. This writer has a way of conjuring up images that feel natural, well balanced and steeped in authenticity. A few area’s need to be lengthened which will give greater depth to the characters within the story. A bit more grit and grunt perhaps!

Lucy read us a chapter of her children’s novel from the PoV of Hendrick. This was a very interesting piece. As always Lucy’s voice is strong.  However, there was a little confusion around the actual PoV. On occasion it felt that the narrators voice was coming through and not that of the character. I believe there is a way to sort this and next week I will pass the idea to Lucy who can try it out.

The penultimate reading came from Alan with another chapter from Skirmisher. As always the descriptions of were detailed. The view point was safely through the main character’s eyes. There were areas that needed more depth but some very nice touches with the pilfering of the personal belongings after the battle.

Then it was my turn. I read two of my picture book texts that I have submitted. They went down well and I was reasonably pleased with them. However, in one of the texts I spotted an error, two missing words, and this is the version I sent off, so I can’t expect to get anywhere with that one. A lesson to learn here, and I should have known better – check and check and re-check before you submit.

Unfortunately, we didn't have Nicki with us tonight and we missed her and her ability to find things in the work read that many of us just don’t see.

With half an hour left we did a few writing tasks to get our creative bones working. We started with a session using stream of writing techniques. This inspired some interesting pieces. The idea is to continue writing once the speaker says and write after taking you on a journey of some sort. 

The second challenge was to be a child and be in a place that looks normal but everything you touch or see ends up being completely different. This was harder but once again produced some interesting scribbles.

Over all a great evening.

Friday, 4 March 2016

A Round up of the week.

It’s Friday and I've had a very complicated week. Mostly on the work front, issues with my computer, it didn't want me to do any work, which would have been lovely, had I not had so much to do. Thankfully, it was all sorted in the end and I managed to catch up by the end of the week.

On the writing front, things are going well. I've managed to tidy up some picture book texts ready for submission. I bravely contacted the publishers to confirm a few details and I'm now armed with all the relevant details and a good luck with my submission from one of the team. I hope that luck holds.
 I've also managed to write, edit and send an entry to the CWA Margery Allingham Short Story Competition. Crime Writers Association   I've sent a thriller. I very much doubt I’ll make the long list, but I wanted to give this a go. I’ll let you know if I hear anything, if not, that will mean it wasn't quite right and I must do better. But that is what writing is all about. Give it a go and learn from each submission and keep on trying to improve.  I will also be submitting a children’s novel, I just need to give it a last polish before emailing it off. I have to admit it is so much easier to submit by email than sending hard copy.

It seems to be the time for writing opportunities and competitions, so I’ll be getting my typing fingers and editing brain in gear and get working. It feels great to be back in the zone and putting something I love doing back into my life.

The Windmill Writers meeting on Wednesday was well attended and from where I sat, working on my editing, the readings were once again good. Some material needed more work than others. One of the great parts of being part of a writing circle is the critiquing. Everyone will have their own take on what is read. As a writer you need to ensure you listen to each critique, don’t take it as a personal attack and don’t challenge the comments, after all they are just a response from a reader. The thing to do is: listen, take notes, weigh up what has been said and act upon it, if you believe what has been said is right. If not, ignore the advice and do your own thing. However, if more people agree on some points, it is worth thinking twice before dismissing them. It can be hard to just listen, but that is what helps make your writing better, stronger and more saleable. If you are only looking to write for your own enjoyment, then by all means read, but don’t ask for critique. Time is always tight at these meetings and over running your allotted slot makes for an unsettled feel to proceedings. 

I'm also a member of another writing circle YGAW. This group meet monthly and talk about all aspects of writing. It is more of a social group of productive writers, published, and working in the industry. 

So for this week’s writing challenge we are going back to the tin of words. There are six words that you have to use in a piece of writing. Short story, poem or flash fiction. You decide what you write but the only stipulation is that you use each word as it is written.

Suitcase – Giggling – Blu-tac – Dusk -  Goose – Wire-cutters

So go on, get writing. 

Friday, 26 February 2016

A Great Week

A great week both at work and with my writing. I have felt more energetic and I'm sure it has to do with the iron tablets, they are working wonders. Even at the end of a long day at work, I'm not coming home and flopping down on the sofa and vegetating instead, I have energy enough to write or clean! That is normally pushed to the weekend when I try to fit it all in.

This week I've been staying late at work to catch up with things and making sure everything is as straight as it can be. I love my job, the frantic times, the steady times and the odd, and I mean odd, moment to stop and have a cup of tea and a cup cake. This week we had one of the teams come to the office – it was good to put faces to names. I baked cakes for the guys and they were greatly appreciated. They are a great bunch and I can’t wait to meet up with all the others, I hope that will be sooner than later. I just need to get a really comfortable chair, the seat on mine is too deep for my little legs. I'm working on that one.

My writing has been going steadily. I've been doing some editing and getting things ready to submit, which won’t be long now. I have also decided to submit to a competition which means this weekend I need to get my head down and write. I'm doing a short story maximum of 3500 words. I have the plot laid out and the first 917 words, so the initial writing shouldn't be too hard, it is the honing and cutting to ensure it is as sharp and clean as I can possibly make it that will take the time. This is a piece I'm enjoying and as I read the opening to my writing circle, they were suitably effected.

The meeting at the Windmill Writers in Chipperfield, Hertfordshire, was once again a buzz with good writing. Writerly conversation, support and critiquing. One of our members had been really struggling to find his voice and to get the show, tell and pov right. This week he mastered a chapter and he just needs to keep up this good work. Overall the writing standard is improving week on week. Even those of us who have been writing for years find great benefit in sharing our work and receiving comments from those around the table.

Now for this week’s writing prompt I’m just posting an image for you work with. Write a short story or why not try poetry inspired by what you see, feel or imagine is happening in the picture.

So go on, get writing. 

Monday, 15 February 2016

Hello, I'm back and moving forward.

Hello! Yes, it is me back again posting. It has been much too long and the only thing I can say is that life has been overly busy and allowing many other things to get in the way of my passion to write. I am therefore, determined to get my focus back and my priorities more balanced.

I have set myself a few challenges of which two are to submit two pieces of work by the end of March 2016 and ensure that I am taking time to be more proactive with all my writing goals. The first two goals are achievable and from then on I hope to be submitting various pieces on a monthly basis.

I need to send work out to those agents I have spoken to, who have been kind enough to offer to read and give guidance to my current WIPS. I'm hoping this will help me decide what direction to go in.

The first pieces I’ll be sending will be my children’s work. Some picture book stories and a YA with a strong male lead. I just need to find the right agency to send this too who will be looking for this kind of material.

I will keep you updated and will be posting again weekly and giving prompts as before.

Sorry to being away for so long.

 If you are looking for inspiration to get you writing take a look at the image below and either write a poem or a short story.

So go on, get writing.