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The Love of Dance

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.