Thursday, 20 November 2008

WorldSkills Awards Ceremony 2008

Last Thursday, I took Ma and Pa to the Imax Cinema in London and we spent the afternoon at the ceremony for Worldskills. It was a great day and we got to see lots of people being praised for a wide range of skills including nail art all the way to car mechanics. James Cracknell gave out the glass plaques and I also got my picture taken. But its a shame because on all the pictures he looks uninterested and also the chairman for the organisation has his eyes closed in mine. So its not a photo for the mantelpiece.

They even have an extract of Jasper's Betrayal on display in the foyer. And I overheard a few people being quite impressed by the small pieces. So that made my day :)
We had a great day in London and even got time to pop to Borders in Charing Cross!

- The Imax from Waterloo Train station.

Foyer full of guests and award winners

Monday, 17 November 2008

Leaking Fan

Loud, hollow sounds of plip-plat woke me the other night. In a half dream, half wake, I managed to convince myself that the shower was on and so stumbled to the bathroom. But instead of being confronted by a shower carelessly trickling with water, there were splashes of water bouncing off the toilet from the ceiling fan. Wasn't is meant to suck away any condensation, not spit it out?

Lifting the lid of the toilet into the male position, I let the drips fall into the bowl below. Heading back to bed and to sleep but the screaming, vibrating drips haunted my dreams.

It started again yesterday, after a half-day break from splashing down the toilet. The unbearable noise was like nails across a Victorian school backboard.

The boyfriend braved the ladder and headed inside the loft. Finding the pipe, it was trapped with rain water, ready and waiting to filter down and shower on us while we relieved ourselves. Holding a bucket in the bathroom, I steadied myself for a tidalwave to pour through but when the boyfriend shook the pipe only enough came out to fill a quarter.

There haven't been any more drips for several hours. Maybe this is the end.

Friday, 14 November 2008

Adventures in an Art Gallery

Adventures in an Art Gallery is now up on Everyday poets.

Readers can give poems stars out of five and also leave comments.

I know the editors have struggled with the formatting on this one. As its based on a visit to the Tate Modern, I wanted it to be modern and all over the page but this is fine.

The write up about the awards ceremony will follow soon.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Poetry Diary 2009

The poetry anthology arrived the other day in a carefully wrapped parcel. Inside is the poetry diary with my poem about Clementines rioting in a supermarket as a metaphor for Prisoners in Guantanamo bay. My family are proud, I'm proud. This week is making me feel like a "real writer".

There is one worry. The diary has no ISBN. So how will it appear on book databases? The ISBN is like a fingerprint for the title but this title has none. I suppose because I work for a book data company this sort of thing worries me now.

Lets hope the publishers do something about this.

Tomorrow is the Awards ceremony for WorldSkills. I'm getting nervous. I hope I don't have to make a speech because there is nothing prepared.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Everyday Poets

My poem is finally appearing! Its going to be in the first issue of Everyday poets.

If you go to the home page and scroll down to the contents page, you will see that Adventures in an Art Gallery will appear on Friday 14th November. This is great, its the day after the awards ceremony for my short story.

Go along and comment, rate and review. It all helps the writer.

Direct link will follow on the publication.

Monday, 3 November 2008

Novel Writing Workshop

Yesterday was a bitter day with the wind penetrating through my thick, usually warm coat as I waited on the platform for a train. I was on my way back to my childhood home town of Baldock for a novel writing workshop. In the once, locked up, to me forbidden and creepy building (Town hall), is an arts festival. And Sunday's session was run by Broadcaster Jennie Walmsley and Masterpiece novelist Miranda Glover. I enjoyed the afternoon and I'm glad I braved against the piercing wind.

Some notes from the 90 minute session.

  • Unusual titles grab the reader's attention. Also use the title to tell the reader what the themes are within the book.
  • Do you want to be branded in a certain genre?
  • How do you get into big themes - need to get into the ordinariness - use details with knowledge - bring in an authority and be distinctive.


  • Theme is central to the novel.
  • Start inside of the idea - explore what you know - "Through the keyhole" - details
  • Smallest of stories can have the most explosive of ideas.


  • Have a timeframe
  • Use the timeframe for the overall structure of the novel, then a timeframe for each chapter. This maintains the pace.


  • Empathy with the voice
  • First or third person?
  • Perspective - control and retain for a whole novel
  • Can hit walls using first person all the way through a novel with one view
  • You need to retain clarity if using various voices.


  • Research the character(s) past - inform yourself about their background and history.
  • Need to grab the reader's attention
  • React to situations
  • Demand to change
  • Reader wants to follow the character from page one.


  • Grab the reader with action and pull them into the fictional world.


  • Sense of taking the reader on a journey but then it can continue outside the book - the reader can relate it to their own world.
  • Satisfying ending
  • Don't need to tie up ALL loose ends.