Thursday, 24 December 2009

Festive Cheer

Happy holidays to everyone.
I am taking a festive break from a week or so as I need to recharge my batteries and also the Macbook has asked for some annual leave. I can't say no, she has helped me write the majority of the novel.

I hope everyone has a happy and joyful time and don't forget to leave a mince pie out for Father Christmas.

See you on the other side!

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

How I Made it to the Finishing Line

A few people have asked me for some tips on writing the first draft. The easy answer is bum on seat and WRITE! But I thought I would be the longer answer on here. These are not rules but my method. I hope they can help someone else too.


Three failed attempts. Some people would have given up, headed back to the poetry and short stories, maybe tried again in another decade. I did not want to be beaten.

Having ‘thinking time’

I let the idea swim around. Made notes, Gave some thoughts to the plot.


I normally write a few hundred words and then make a few scribbled notes. Planning is for school assignments but this time I planned the structure. Post-it notes were my saviour.


Dragging yourself to the writing desk after a full day at the office is sometimes hard. Spending 7.5 hours staring at the screen only to come home and do the same for another 2-3 hours in the evening. I needed a target – initially 250 words every day. Nearer the end it was 500.

Letting Go

Just writing the book that I want to read and not writing for the market.

Not caring about the first draft being perfect.


I stopped reading ‘writing manuals’ for the whole time I was writing the novel. My only concern was about getting the story on to the page. ‘Technical’ bits are for later.

Other things that helped:

  • Drinking hot blackcurrant.
  • Remembering Anne Lamott’s in ‘Bird by Bird’ – first drafts can be shitty. That is their purpose.
  • Reading other writers blogs as they recorded their novel progress.
  • Keeping a notebook near me at all times – ideas always spring up when you least expect them.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

I Wish My Macbook Had A Drum Roll....

I have finished the first draft of my novel. *Jumps in air* My fourth attempt and I have finally did it. The first one reached 10k, the second reached 19k, the third one reached 14k. This one is 82,390. This equals 292 pages double spaced! I think I might need some more ink for my printer.
The plan is to print off the whole manuscript and then hide it for a few months. I am going to keep myself in the writing mood by finally finishing some stories, writing new ones, getting back into 'morning pages' or as I like to call them 'before bedtime pages.' I am hoping that by doing some 'free' writing will release some locked away ideas. I'm also going to read some writing reference books and do some crafty things too.

WOW - I actually did it!

First draft word count - 82,390

Friday, 11 December 2009

Short Circuit Blog Tour - Editing and Redrafting - In Conversation with Vanessa Gebbie

Welcome to the first Blog Interview at Writer's Little Helper.

Vanessa Gebbie, short story writer, editor for Short Circuit has kindly agreed to a quick Q&A session as part of the Short Circuit Blog tour. Short Circuit is the ideal book to buy the writer in your life this Christmas. 24 essays written by award winning writers and tutors talk you through the writing process and get you thinking more about your own techniques too.

Short Circuit is the kind of book I wished was around when I did my Masters and Degree. This book has a different author for each chapter as they explore the important elements of a short story. Reading their writing process is more insightful to a writer rather than the 'How to' approach that you find in most creative writing books. As well as using the advice for short story writing I also believe you can adapt some of the ideas for novel writing too. The reading lists and short exercises at the end of each chapter are really great for writers block cures!

Vanessa has already talked to Nik Perring and Sophie Playle about the formation of the book. So, I have gone for something a bit different. I have asked Vanessa some questions about editing and redrafting. I hope you find the interview interesting. I know I will as the next stage for me after the first draft of my novel will be editing and I am currently craving any advice at the moment.

Editing and Redrafting
After writing a story do you hide the file away before editing or do you jump straight in with the editing?
There isn’t a single answer to this one. Sometimes, (and certainly when I started writing) I tip out a whole first draft without looking back at all, then go back in later and edit. Sometimes, I get the sense that it is OKish, and the editing is done straight away.
Now, I do wait. Sometimes I wait a long time, before looking at a piece. For example, I wrote about 10,000 wds in Ireland in September, and haven’t read it back yet.
But often, now, I am editing in my head all the time. I will go back and re-read a paragraph, and think ‘I can’t write the next one unless this building block is solid’. That is a real pain. It slows everything up. I get quite scared that I’m editing the life out of the thing.
A lot of writers like to edit and redraft from the computer screen. I like to print off my manuscript and scribble notes to myself. How do you edit your work?
I do the sort of editing described above on screen. Reading through the para I did last and tweaking before starting the next.
But when a piece is completed at first draft stage I print off, curl up in a chair away from my study with a cuppa and a pen and edit like that. I read out loud and mark the paper copy. I scribble out bits I don’t like, and scribble whole new paras on the back of the paper. I make notes in the margin, things to think about. Or just ‘THIS FEELS WRONG’ in capitals if I don’t know why… it just does.
Then I go back to the study and incorporate the edits. And start the process again, until I am happyish. But I always save the previous copy as well… I don’t delete versions.
Do you find peer editing (online forums, swapping with writing friends) useful or do you benefit more from redrafting on your own? Or a mixture of both?
I was taught by a tutor who pointed out the inadvisability of relying on other writers to guide the editing process. He point was to make us aware of our own work, our own ‘right and wrong’, to create our own stories, not a committee effort which by definition would be a compromise effort.
So although I value feedback as to whether something is working, whether my intentions have come across, I know that in the end it’s just me and the words, and I can’t hide from the fact that I ought to be able to see what is good and what isn’t.
I know that peer feedback is valuable. But I (and others) had our work and ideas stolen by a colleague working in a closed private online group earlier this year. That has made things a bit lonelier for me, as I don’t know many writers living nearby. I will not share anything online now, unless it is just little instant flash pieces. I certainly would not share my novel online now, or longer work of any sort. Indeed, if something I write for an online thing strikes me as interesting, something I might use in another guise later – I will not share. Once bitten twice shy.
I do work face to face with a friend and colleague whose integrity is beyond question. He is a journalist, a playwright, writer of best-seller non-fiction books, and now a novelist. He gives encouragement when things fall badly, and he gives intelligent, considered comment.
I listen to what he says very carefully, and wait. Then I do final edits, sometimes using what he has said, sometimes not. In the end, it has to be mine and I am guided by some inner voice that says yes or no.
Are you a multi-tasker writer? Can you write one story and do editing within the same session? Or do you like to keep both separate, no new stories until the editing is done?
If I get an idea for something else while editing, I won’t let it go without making notes, often extensive ones. I may even start to write… I think if you try to control the flow of creativity, it shows in the work, it becomes controlled in a bad way.
In your blog post, ‘Aftershock,’ you talked about feeling ‘flat.tired.low’ after completing Short Circuit. What did you do to break out of the aftershock?
I am quite pathetic. When I have finished something, or achieved something (that includes winning a prize, sadly) there is a period of intense flatness. Almost depression. A sense that that’s one mountain climbed, and now there’s just another rearing up ahead.
What do I do? This time, I stayed in bed for a morning, with my laptop and MADE myself write a part of the ‘novel’. It didn’t matter how bad that bit was, I just wrote, to remind myself I could. I’d put it aside for the best part of a year, because it is very hard to edit and compile and cajole others in a project like Short Circuit- and have the inner peace needed to write creatively.
Its an instant fix. I reminded myself I was a writer. And felt better!
Any other techniques you would like to share with regards to editing and redrafting?
The only technique I’d share is the advice to try everything. Not to get stuck thinking ‘THIS is the only way to do things’. I think we change day on day week on week, year on year. I know my approaches to writing have shifted enormously. See the evidence in my answers to your editing questions above!
That’s why I did Short Circuit the way I did. I know from experience that a how-to- book is only as good as the practice of the writers who are giving advice. If that advice is from one writer, who says ‘Do this. Because I do it, and it works for me’, then forget it. They are not YOU!
The point was to give you a whole raft of examples, for you to feel instinctively which chimes with you at this point in your journey. Craft is craft – but the application of that craft can be an exciting adventure in which the writer steps into the unknown every time they sit down to write. Your creativity is unique to you. And mine is unique to me. I just wanted to help others see that – for them to recognise and relish their uniqueness. That’s the way for people to nurture that spark which sets their creativity apart from the plodding masses who faithfully copy the processes of others.

Fantastic questions, Jessica! Thanks such a lot. And because I am hooked on William Faulkner quotes, can I finish with one?

“The aim of every artist is to arrest motion, which is life, by artificial means and hold it fixed so that a hundred years later, when a stranger looks at it, it moves again since it is life.”
Isn’t that fantastic!

Thanks Vanessa for some great answers and quote!

Short Circuit can be purchased over at the Salt Publishing website with 20% discount.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Word Count Wednesday

Writing has slowed down. I think I am dreading the end of the first draft. I know its only the beginning and redrafting can be such fun but the mammoth task is only starting to dawn on me.

But I want to finish in two weekends time. I need to stay focused and just attached my bum to the seat and not move until I have reached my daily word counts.

Over all word count - 80,775.

Must. Write. Tonight.

I'm actually writing this blog post as novel writing avoidance.

Now. Back. To. Writing.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Advanced Warning

Whenever I see signs with the words 'Advanced Warning' it always makes me panic. Normally it means your gas or water is going to be cut off, or you have a bill needing your attention or there is going to be a strike. Or the internet is about to end... 
But fear not, this is a good advanced warning!

Vanessa Gebbie will be here on Friday to take about Editing and Redrafting for the Short Circuit Blog tour. This is a Writer's Little Helper first! Be there or be square as they say on the TV!

Saturday, 5 December 2009

The 80,000 Pit Stop

Today I reached 80,000 words. Plus I am now one and a half chapters away to having a complete first draft. I keep going on about it but to me this is the biggest writing project I have attempted and finished (nearly!). 

I found this picture after typing eighty thousand into Google images and thought it seemed to fit the mood. There are still a few more steps to go before I reach the top. Then there is a new flight of steps for the editing and redrafting. 

I am now off for my first Christmas dinner of the year. Should be yummy for my tummy!

Friday, 4 December 2009

Kreativ Blogger Award

Valerie over at Not Exactly True has nominated me for a Kreativ Blogger Award. *Does a victory dance* Thank you, this is my first blog award. I promise not to have a Kate Winslet moment and start crying. But I have some tissues at the ready just in case a few tears do escape.

There are some conditions just like there is with the Oscars. (e.g. Make a better film, win again, thank God and your Mother in the acceptance speech). So here are the more nicer conditions:

* 1. Thank the person who nominated you for this award.
* 2. Copy the logo and place it on your blog.
* 3. Link to the person who nominated you for this award.
* 4. Name 7 things about yourself that people might find interesting.
* 5. Nominate 7 Kreativ Bloggers.
* 6. Post links to the 7 blogs you nominate.
* 7. Leave a comment on each of the blogs letting them know they have been nominated.

Okay, Number one, two, three are done. 

Seven things about me: 

  1. I dream of one day being published in Mslexia. 
  2. I don't drink tea or coffee because it gives me headaches but more importantly its a sign of being an adult. 
  3. Pizza reminds me of sick. 
  4. I tried to write a science fiction novel when I was 18 and all the characters had names that either began with a 'X' or ended with a 'Z.' 
  5. I prefer a night in either reading/writing/playing scrabble/watching a film rather than being sick in a nightclub toilet after having too many vodka redbulls. 
  6. I have nightmares about spiders. They are so bad that I wake up screaming and climbing out of the bed. 
  7. I like writing poetry but haven't done any this year. 
My Kreativ Blogger Nominations: 

(Sorry if you have already been nominated). 

Essygie's Ghost - I think this blog especially the little people watching blog posts and the bite size Twitter stories

Teresa over at This Writer's Life - She was a Bridport winner this year and her blog is great too. Teresa lists writing comps and also her progress with submissions. 

Emma over a Gargling with Vimto - She is currently taking part in a 100 day challenge to do something creative every day. Inspiring stuff. 

Katie over at Katie McCullough Talks and Writes - Her writing motivation and chirpiness is inspiring. 

Gemma Noon for The Literary Project - there are some great author interviews. A big recommendation. 

Emily over at I make believe when I do my make-up nice for her writing productive and cute poems. They brighten up my day. 

Sara over at A Salted for some of the best short stories on the web and also fab new blog layout. 

Check out all of these blogs and also the ones on the sidebar too! 

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Word Count Wednesday

A quick post as I am in the middle of a highly constructive writing session

I am currently at 78,00-ish words for the first draft of my novel. I can see the end and its two and a half chapters away. I have done some sums. If I write at least 250 words every day then I could be finished by Christmas Eve. Exciting stuff.

Now, I need to make sure I don't get too excited and stop writing all together.

A more constructive blog post coming soon. One about Kreativ award, one with a Q&A and one about something else.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

On The Road to Writing Recovery

I am a recovering binger. Not an alcoholic one or a drug one, maybe a chocolate one, but definitely a writing one.
In the old days (I am talking about most of my writing time until last year) I would spend one day doing nothing but write. Whole stories, whole plots planned. Go, go,go. I would write until my hand hurt, typed until the words started to blur, ripping out pages until most of the notebook was in a pile on the floor. Then nothing for the better part of a week. I might do a light edit but other than that it was a recovery until the next time. Then another outburst.
Things could not go on like that. I had two failed attempts at writing a novel, several stories half finished, jam packed with cliches and one dimensional characters. I was spending more time having writing fatigue.  I finally found my self blocked, unable to think, unmotivated.
Now I try and sit down at least five evenings each week, maybe a few hours during the weekend and I will write. Smaller chunks than before, bigger chunks if I have a story desperate to be told. My writing has more of a routine. Motivation, determination are my friends. I am fighting any writing block with a punch. Sometimes I need a rest and I take them, promising myself to be back at the desk tomorrow or at least making jottings in the notebook.
I have had the most productive writing year, ever.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Word Count Wednesday

I had a dream last night that I was writing the 'new' Beauty and the Beast. It was going to be set in the modern world, be directed by Tim Burton and have Muse as the soundtrack. Maybe this is my writing head telling me to get back into the screen writing....

Anyway, back to the novel. I am now four chapters away from the end. The doubts are coming thicker and faster. What if I have wasted a whole year writing a silly silly novel? What if I don't like it? Deep breath. Calm. This is a big achievement. A completed novel. Calm. Deep breath.

I want to finish by Christmas. So here goes!

Over all word count - 74,000 ish. I don't have my diary with the word count near me at the moment!

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Kind Words Over at the TomLit Blog

Alex over at TomLit has written a lovely review of my flash fiction piece 'The Man Waiting for a Train.'

You can read the review here: Tomlit Review.

Thank you - It means a lot especially as I have just used a microwaveable bowl in the microwave and burnt a hole in it. No cornflake cakes tonight!

Friday, 20 November 2009

Notebook Stories

Writer's Little Helper got a mention over at Notebook Stories the other week. Notebook Stories is a great website about notebook obsession, addicts of the week and general stationery worshipping. It's a great place if you are a stationery geek like me.

The post was about my blog post from the other month when I had new notebook dilemma. I am now currently half way through my A5 sized Moleskin notebook. I normally go for smaller notebooks as I like to carry them around but I won this one via a competition on Twitter. It means I have had to buy a bigger bag but that's no hardship.

Thank you Notebook Stories.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Word count Wednesday

I haven't written as much as I like over the past two weeks. I have been having physio for my headaches at the moment and its leacing me with hardcore pain after the appointments but I am slowly starting to fight back.

I am also currently reading a really good book on short story writing, Short Circuit. I am planning on writing another post on the blog at a later date. Plus I will be hosting (for the first time!) a guest post as well. More details to follow.

I have five more chapters left to write and then the first draft will be finished and the start of editing/redrafting begins. I had a plan the other month that it could be possible to finish the first draft by Christmas but now I am hoping for January. I'm not writing every day to actually meet my self-inflicted deadline. I have the motivation but not the time at the moment. Will try harder.

Overall word count - 72,135

Thursday, 12 November 2009

The Man Waiting For a Train at The Pygmy Giant

I have a short piece up at The Pygmy Giant today.

I took the concept of the 'found poem' and wrote this short piece. It is all based on a conversation overheard at a train station one afternoon. The train was late and the character was marching up and down the platform. He had left his laptop unattended on a nearby bench as he had this conversation. Thankfully no one stole it.

I might expand the story one day.

The Man Waiting For a Train

Monday, 9 November 2009

Pay it Forward

Recently Teresa ran Pay it forward on her blog.  She had replied to another blogger and they had replied to another. I replied to Teresa and she sent me some lovely tea-lights, and a handmade card and gift tag from her very crafty friend. (There would be a picture but my camera is nowhere to be seen!). I loved them soo much that I used the candles the same night. The parcel arrived quite unexpectedly one gloomy day at work and really cheered me up!

The idea for Pay it Forward is to send the first three people who comment three small gifts. In return they will do the same.

This reminds me of the film Pay it Forward with the little boy from Sixth Sense doing random acts of kindness.

Now it is my turn. I am really excited about buying these little gifts! I already have some ideas. So its over to you! SO leave a comment in the box!

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Visiting Time at FlashShot

I have a very, very short piece up at Flashshot today. Visiting Time is about nuns. This story was originally over 500 words long but then I pruned and then pruned some more until I reached 78 words.

You can read Visting Time here or on FlashShot's homepage. The last ten posts are usually kept on the website so it could disappear in ten days or so. If it does than I will publish it on the blog.

Friday, 6 November 2009


This week has been full of literary delights.
WordPLAY on Tuesday, reading a great book at the moment and also a few exciting things in the pipeline. This includes me doing Pay It Forward in the next week or so. Basically three people will get a present from me and then they will do the same. But more on that in a future post. Also there will be a guest post in December. More details in a future post too!

Actually writing this week has been good but not as much as usual. I wanted to do some last night but a headache saw that session cancelled.

Over all word count for the novel - 67,569.
I am now three quarters of the way!

I also like this post on Angry Robot Book's website - Its about National Novel Writing Month. I especially like the paragraph saying that even 500 words a day is good enough. You are a writer even if you don't complete the task. And writing in one month only does not make you a GOOD writer. Practice does. I like Novel writing month just for the motivation but I tried once when I was a student and failed. Now there is a full time job, other complications - I like the pace I'm writing this novel.

You can read the article here.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

WordPLAY Aftermath

Last night was brilliant.

At first I was worried having looked at the event page on Facebook and saw there were a LOT of people coming. Deep breaths, deep breaths. I thought I might stumble over my words, read the wrong page, stutter like a nervous wreak but a few vodka and cokes and the nerves seemed to evaporate.

I read 'Blood on your Graduation Gown.' Most of the story is based on true events e.g. me getting hit on the nose by a motarboard. Not good. Painful at the time but now a comedic piece of fiction. I got some laughs from the audience which was brilliant! Also the other performers were great too. My groupie My boyfriend had a great time too!

I would definitely recommend reading or even attending the event. The Good Ship in Kilburn is a really nice venue with the stage tucked into a lower level area.

Payment was chocolate and vodka. You can't ask for more really!

Monday, 2 November 2009

Preparing for a Reading - Part Three

WordPlay is Tuesday. Panic. Panic. Panic panic.

Preparation Step Three: Last ditch Attempts

  • Reading through story. Checking for an errors and that it also flows on the tongue.
  • Printing off the manuscript in HUGE font so you can read it tomorrow evening.
  • Planning outfit - flowery dress, cowboy boots and tights. Okay, okay. Planning the outfit was my first thought.
  • Trying not to get nervous or too over the top. Deep breath, it will be fine.
  • REMEMBER to google directions before leaving work tomorrow!

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Preparing for a Reading - Part Two

WordPlay is next Tuesday. Major panic.

Preparation Step Two: Making Patrick Bateman* Proud

  • People have recently been asking me where they can read my stories. So I write down my blog link on scraps of paper. Than I thought, having seen other bloggers doing the same - how about Business cards? All the recommendations were for You have full design control. So I did. I went for 'writer' on them because that is what I do, I write. Putting 'Author' on them is not quite true. An author to me is someone with a book published.

I went for pictures of my bookcase and also the name of my blog in scrabble form. I like them. Business cards always remind me of this scene from American Psycho.

  • Tell friends and family. I have sent text messages and also the event invitation to friends on Facebook. Most have declined or not answered. Im not going to badger anyone but just remember that I have been bored (sorry, I mean entertained) at your performances/gigs/concerts so its payback.

  • Also here's the poster for the event:

*Patrick Bateman is the main character from American Psycho.

Watching from the Sidelines at Girls with Insurance

I have a new piece up at Girls with Insurance.

Watching from the Sidelines 

This is one of my more experimental stories. Beginning, Middle and End exist in different places. Its a ghost story but not a scary story.

I wrote this piece for one of my fiction modules in my third year. The original was in ten handmade phamplets plus an instruction book. This story is also special to me as it was the first piece written after my operation. That was the point that I knew that if I wanted to write than it was time for me to pull up my socks and do some writing.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Preparing for a Reading - Part One

WordPlay is next Tuesday. Mini panic.

Preparation Step One: The Story

I have 10 mins to read a short story. The last time I did something like that was back in undergraduate times. In one presentation I used Jelly Babies as props. This time it is me, a mic and a handwritten story by me. Scary. Scary. Feelings of nervousness and excitement are colliding at the moment. 

1.) Pick a story to read. This sounds simple doesn't it? Well for me it was a long, hard task. I practiced with a few pieces. One was too, too short and another was 13 mins and I was only half way through the story. A story for ten mins. The BBC website says that between 1900-2000 words is ten mins.

2.) Edit said story. The one I will be reading is a new, fresh, unpublished piece. The story will be ready for Tuesday.

3.) Read the story to yourself. Read the story out loud. Pick the right 'voice'. Maybe the posh one, not the duck one.

4.) More reading.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Word Count Wednesday

The novel has been put to one side for the moment. I have prepping to do for the reading next week. I have finally picked a story but more on that in the next blog post.

I seem to have been wrong after initially thinking chapter four and five were going to be the hardest to write. Chapter four was the funniest to write for a long time. Chapter five is fitting together with the rest of the story better than the first post-it notes. I don't think planning should be strict. As markers and reminders, yes but not regimented.

Over all word count for novel - 64,735

Curriculum Vitaes are so Last Year

Just a quick note as I'm on my lunch.

Curriculum Vitaes are so Last Year is now live at Metazen.

This story was original about eyebrows but seemed to evolve into another office story. But this one is different because its also about eyebrows.

I really enjoyed writing this story.

So, one more time for the cheap seats at the back (I love that saying) : Curriculum Vitaes are so Last Year. (Click on the link).

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Dates for the Diary

A few things to look forward to over the next week or so:

  • A flash fiction story will be appearing at Metazen sometime this week. 
  • A very, very short story (78 words) will be up on the Flashshot website next Tuesday. 
  • Also my reading is next Tuesday. I have planned my outfit, weather premitting but I still need to decide on the story for the occasion. 

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Wordcount Wednesday

It has been a mixed bag of sending out submissions, editing stories and writing this week. I have also cracked the fourth and fifth chapters and can clearly see where I am heading too.

I had another acceptance yesterday and hopefully the story will go live this week. I also got a 'maybe.' I need to wait a few weeks to see if the magazine will publish my short story. I guess the customary saying would be 'fingers crossed.'

There have also been rejections. One was from an innovative fiction magazine - they seem to have found my work too risky. They wanted beginning, middle and end. The point of the story was not to use normal structure - I thought it was clear with the title. But the good thing about this submission was that it had been made months and months ago. Since then Russian Dolls has been published (see left toolbar).

I am still thinking about which story to read in a few weeks time. Very hard decision to make. There was my new one but it still needs a lot of work and maybe not be ready in time.

Total word count for the novel - 61,418.

Monday, 19 October 2009

My Jeans were my Saviours at Tomlit

Today one of my short stories, My Jeans were my Saviours, is up at Tomlit in the first issue. You can either download the PDF, read the story over at Tomlit or you can download it from here (if I have embedded it properly!).

This story was originally meant to be a few sentences long and was going to be about someone who never puts away their laundry. (come on girls, you know what I mean about piles of laundry that do not belong to us!). It was going to be from a female perspective but things evovled. and now we have a story about an unknown worldwide disaster from the average-Joe viewpoint.

I wrote the story a few months ago, nearly deleted it as I was not keen on the original story but then decided to let it stew on the hard drive. Then I found it again the other week and started carving away to the story we see today.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

WordPlay Event

I will be reading a short story at the next WordPlay event in London. You are all invited (pointing at my two blog readers). I am still in two minds about what to read. I was thinking, its funny that we accept bands who murder cover songs but you never see writers doing cover readings of Jane Austen, Charles Dickens or Douglas Coupland. I think an event like that would be quite funny. I might go for an original piece though.

Here are the details from Facebook:

Featured Writers:

Tim Key - a poet so funny that he won the Edinburgh Comedy Award 2009 for his show The Slutcracker, which "attracted a strong cult following for its whimsically surreal mix of poetry, music and mock-philosopical observations on life" according to The Guardian. Made Hazel actually pee herself with laughter at 'Homework' spoken word night, Bethnal Green Working Men's Club, live on Newsnight...

Bernadine Evaristo - Bernardine Evaristo's first fully-prose novel BLONDE ROOTS was published by Penguin UK in August 2008. (USA 2009)It's a slavery story with a difference: Africans enslave Europeans over a four hundred year period. The protagonist is a white woman from Europa who lives out her adult life as a slave in the New World. Her verse novel LARA will be published by Bloodaxe Books, October 2009.

Guest Stars:

Nancy Clarik - wordPLAY deputy host spits her lyrical witticisms on popular culture and beyond

Agnes Lehoczky - bilingual poet Agnes reads her beautiful verse, including work from her collection 'Budapest to Babel'

Ola Rhodes - unpredictable stories with bite and sass are this gal's speciality

Jessica Patient - this prose writer has had short stories published in 3:AM, The Beat, Pgymy Giant and Sleepy Orange. She won the Worldskills Gold Award in Creative Writing in 2008.

With music from the beautiful voice and guitar of Hannah Tuson, back by popular demand...

plus the random erratic musings and mutterings of your host Rebecca Fenton

plus - Raffle-Lit...when we find some goddamn prizes...never fear...

Entry: £4.50 / £3.50 concessions - The Good Ship, Kilburn, London

Doors: 7pm for 8pm start

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Writing Woes

This week has been one of the hardest writing weeks for a long time. Actually since this time last year when I struggled with the other, unfinished novel and looking at my laptop made me want to cry.
I tried this week to start chapter 4b - my post it note had the words 'fake morning sickness,' 'bin liners' and 'black market.' The ideas would not stretch to a full chapter. There are only so many paragraphs you can spend talking about being sick or filling a bag with rubbish. I thought about moving onto the next chapter but that was just as bad. There were four false starts and frenzied post it note scribbling.
This morning I was having a major clear out in the kitchen and it hit me. Erase those false starts and forget those key words. Writing about the shopping centre you keep thinking about. (yes, this novel is getting stranger but please bear with me). So the chapter 4b starts in a shopping centre rather than looking down at a sick-filled toilet. It feels better writing about shops rather than digested peas.

I have also had an acceptance for a very short flash fiction piece. More details to follow.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Word Count Wednesday

I have come up with a plan to tackle the backlog on my hard drive. I am going to print off all the short stories and flash fiction and try to edit at least one every week or finish writing any unfinished stories.

I have had some writing rejections over the past week but they have been cancelled out with one acceptance at a new magazine and I will also be reading one (as yet undecided) short story at an event at Word Play in London (details to follow). I am very excited and also nervous. What if I trip over the mic, or create feedback on the speakers or stumble over my words or say a swear word without thinking? But there is time to calm down and prepare. I am going to be practicing over the next few weeks and my boyfriend has kindly agreed to record me so I can hear how it sounds.

I have also done some writing on the novel too. I have increased my word count with each writing session but I have been having a few days off to do editing.

Total word count - 59,753.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

National Poetry Day

Today is National Poetry Day. I celebrated with a glass of cider and some ice cream. And if I'm lucky some bedtime reading later.

Back in the bookshop days, National Poetry Day was great fun. There would be activities and also the announcement of the poetry comp. The finalists had their poems sent to Head office and then the over all winner was printed in a national paper.

The local winners came to a mini-prize giving after the store closed. We pushed away the tables, brought down the chairs and set up plastic cups of wine and orange juice. The winners read their poems and then got their book tokens. It was a great night, even better than some of the events we had with 'real life' authors.

The greatest part of this celebration was ringing up the winners beforehand and telling them. I got gasps, cheers and silence from the shock. It was a great feeling to make someone's day.

I'm not sure if my local chain bookstore does anything like that. It would be a shame if they stopped because it was a great way to get children engaging with poetry.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Wordcount Wednesday

I am writing. alot. Yes, the blog is suffering. I seem to have blogger's block but I guess its better than writer's block.

This week I have been contemplating applying and submitting to spoken word events. It is something I have been wanting to do for a long time. I just need to take a deep breath, not worry about stage fright and actually email out some queries.

I have some new flash fiction pieces in my notebook. They need some 'thinking time' to decide if they are worthy enough for submission or if they are more suitable to stay in my notebook.

Overall word count on the novel - 57,428.
The most words ever written by me. I'm still in shock. But I have found an idea that I NEED to write about. Plus I don't have to worry about grades or what people will think. This novel is for me. Submitting it is way down the list.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

My Life in Bullet Points

I have been really busy over the past few weeks and so I thought I would give you a cheesy montage as a snapshot. So here is the blog alternative, bullet points.

  • Reading more - I am now getting the train to and from work. I am currently reading 'The year of the Flood' By Margaret Atwood. At first I thought I was not going to like it but its a grower. Handmaid's Tale is still my favourite. 
  •  I am in the process of editing two short stories. One is more flash fiction length. They are currently in the second editing cycle. 
  • Reading other people's work and giving feedback. 
  • Writing the novel - word count is now 55,254 words. I have increase my writing goals recently. So the blog is suffering and also the short story writing. I might have to cut back on one of the above bullet points. 
  • Reading the new Mslexia - arrived on Friday. 
  • Researching and reading new magazines. I now have a small list in my notebook with possible places to submit some stories. 
  • Waiting to hear back from three writing competitions. 
  • More novel writing. 

Thursday, 1 October 2009

First Aid

I was editing and amending the below title (for work) and came across the cover image.
What is William Shatner (Captain Kirk from Star Trek) doing on the front cover of a First Aid book? Answers on a postcard or the comments.

This comes just days after someone found my blog by searhing for 'Jessica Captain Kirk.'

I will be back with a writing post soon. I have done lots of writing recently and I have increased my daily word count as I would love to finish the first draft by the end of the year. Or at least my birthday in February.

Thursday, 24 September 2009


This week I have edited and redrafted a short piece for a flash fiction competition. I originally wrote the piece from a photo prompt on someone's blog and was planning to enter their comp. But the last day came and I planned to send it when I got home but by the time I arrived back from work there was already a winner. hmmm. I still liked the story and I have been playing around with it for a while. Now its had another chance and its ready for the comp. Good luck little story.

I also started writing another flash fiction piece about 'eyebrows'. This was originally a theme fromo Mslexia magazine but the idea got bigger. And I needed more time to think, explore ideas and write.

Planning for the second section of the novel is now done. Now its the writing part.

Overall word count - 50,265

Monday, 21 September 2009

Planning the Second Half

I am going to be honest. I have been dreading this part of the novel. That is why I have left it until now. I have had no clear direction with what I wanted to happen to this character. The last time I tried to write a chapter for character B it went wrong. I stopped writing for a month and even considered sending it all to the recycling bin.

But I conquered the fear. Tonight I have planned the rest of the novel.

I started with writing down all the events that I wanted the second part to have. This technique is called 'spinning down the page' and it is crossed between free writing and brainstorming. New idea for every new line. Then I pulled out my timeline (see picture below - the yellow sticky notes are the 'written' sections) and used this for a reference as I plotted the new events. The white post-it notes underneath are the rest of the story.

I am now looking forward to beginning the second half.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Half Way

I am now half way through the novel (I think this deserves an exclamation mark)! The chapters for Character A's point of view are now ready for editing, reworking, reshuffling and redrafting.
Plus it's back to the planning for Character B's chapters. Things that have been added into section 'A' will need to be considered in the plan. Cause and Effect. (When ever I say those words I always think of that scene in the second Matrix film).

There were times when I thought this would not be possible. Now I can see the ending (having reached it once) and now I am going to push further and get there again with Character B.

Things needed for planning:
  • Post-it notes
  • Scraps of paper for writing down random ideas and sentences
  • Novel Notebook
  • Pen and laptop, of course.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Indulging in Non Fiction

I am currently reading 'Affluenza' by Oliver James. The book examines the world's obsession to 'keep up with the Joneses.' I am about two hundred pages into the book and already I have highlighted sections and made notes on how I can make my characters more real. I am also thinking more about about surroundings, personal history and social status can affect a person's behaviour.

Reading psychology books is a secret passion of mine. I find them a great inspiration for character development. Over the years some of my favourites have been 'Watching the English,' 'Everytown.' And I recently purchased 'Snoop' so I can read about what people's possessions say about individuals.

I take these books at a slower pace and allow myself time to stop, think through the concepts and make notes or highlight sentences for future reference.

I already have several pages on notes for editing and revising the novel.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Wordcount Wednesday

Not such a big word count jump this week. I haven't found much time in between personal matters, fighting off this ear, throat and chest infection and being back at work.

Over all word count - 48,539

I hope to reach the half way point over the next week. And then its back to the beginning to write Character B's chapters.

There is also a nice review about Shot Glass Stories - You can read it here.

"‘How to Breathe on the Train’: An intense and vivid depiction of claustrophobia, which throws the reader right into the situation. Not pleasant to read, naturally; but superbly effective writing."
David Hebblethwaite, Follow the Thread

Monday, 14 September 2009

Shot Glass Stories and Other Indulgences

My short story, How to breathe on the train, is now available. I joined an online writer's forum, Critter's Bar and they set a challenge to write a story in 200 words. How to breathe on the train was the result and I was lucky to have it accepted for the anthology.

You can either buy the book for less than five pounds buy here
You can download the file for free.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Wordcount Wednesday

Word count Wednesday is back from holiday with a few extras - a chest, ear and throat infection, again.

The writing has not stopped. I did quite a lot on holiday. I finished chapter 10a, started 11a and also finished a short story. I am nearly half way with the novel and that means it will be time to start planning the alternative chapters - I had some ideas when I first started and I have been reading over them today. I also found a page from my notebook with the first line. October 2008. At the time I did not realise it would lead to a novel. I was still mourning over another novel attempt. I remember taking things slowly and I did not finish chapter one until mid January. Four thousand words in three months. But things are moving faster. Because I had a holiday last week - I have written over eight thousand in two weeks.

Overall writing count - 46,809.

Over the next week I hope to finish chapter 11a. Plan the final chapter, 12a and decide now the novel will end for this character.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Back from Edinburgh

‘The Athens of the North’ was great.
Three bus tours of the city. Yes, three, but different double Decker tours – we wanted to make the most of our 24-hour ticket!
Edinburgh Castle.
Walking and walking and walking around the city.
Tour around underground Edinburgh.
Lots of eating in restaurants.
Lots of writing – I finished one chapter, started a new one and finished it today.
More work on short story.
Book festival.
Buying prints from street artists.
And I came home with a souvenir cold too. Two boxes of tissues in two days.

Observations of the Book Festival

Margaret Atwood
Write about things that humans are already working towards could really achieve in the real world – read science and technology news and journals.
Talked about her concern about Bees.
Atwood has started blogging too and Twittering. Something I think all writers should do. Not just for reaching out to audiences but for the actual process of writing.

Douglas Coupland
This was a very special event as it was the first event he was doing for ‘Generation A.’
The audience were asked to perform the ‘The Mobile Sonata’ where you would ring the phone number of the person next to you. Apparently Police said that phones ringing in school bags after the Columbine High school massacre, sounded like tropical birds. It sounded quite like a mob of people playing with their ringtones in a big tent.
Then came the reading from his new novel. I wished I had come with my copy as he did a signing afterwards.
Coupland’s book is about the declining Bee population and Atwood also touched on this. Both were affected by the news from a couple of years ago.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Wordcount Wednesday

I don’t like missing Word count Wednesday (it’s been a good motivation recently) so this is a scheduled post this week while I am on holiday.

There are two possibilities with the word count this week:

A.) I could have written lots and l lots in our holiday cottage and finished a chapter or even written a short story


B.) The word count is still the same because I am having too much fun with looking around the city and relaxing with a book or two.

Monday, 31 August 2009

Fun and Games

A game for you to play while I am away:

Stuck for a title for your novel?
Think it will always be named 'untitled'?
Need a fab title to catch the eye of the editor?

Look no further.

Title Generator
Will create you that perfect title*!

I found this via writing blog, My Writing Life.

*Don't hold me to account if its not perfect!

Friday, 28 August 2009

Holiday Happiness

I’m off to Edinburgh today. No train or plane for us (too expensive!), no we are going to do the 6 and half hour journey in the car. We should be fine as we have a new Sat Nav (or as a farmer called it on a recent TV programme, ‘Stats Naff’). One straight line on the A1. Now I don’t have to bother being the map reader, I can watch the clouds. I wonder if I could write. I know reading makes me feel sick.

For one lovely week we will be staying in this lovely cottage – taking it easy and relaxing. Our last holiday was spent painting and moving home.

We have a few activities planned: heading to talks by Douglas Coupland and Margaret Atwood at the Edinburgh Book Festival on the Sunday, mystery restaurant for Boyfriend’s birthday (it’s a mystery as I haven’t decided where to take him) and also a guided tour through the old, underground city.

I am taking the McBook too (see even my laptop is getting into the swing of things). I am hoping to do lots of writing but as long as my daily counts are done, I will be happy.

There will be updates if I can find some WiFi but if not there will be one massive post in a week's time and I have also done a scheduled post too.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Wordcount Wednesday

I have written something practically every day this past week and even the first hundred words of a short story, which is good as i have been sloppy on writing shorter pieces recently. I am thinking about dedicating one day each week to short story writing as I have quite a few ideas at the moment. It could mean one less day for the novel, unless I make it a weekend day and write both.

Unsure, yet.

Over all Word count - 38,037

I am meant to be packing at this moment for Edinburgh but it can wait until Friday, can't it? Holiday reading, hmmm, at the moment it will be to finish 'The Stone Gods.' I am also going to take 'The Road' by Cormac McCarthy and 'Slaughterhouse 5' by Kurt Vonnegut. I'm still in half minds about taking a 'how to write/characters/novel' sort of book. I seem to be avoiding them since writing this bigger piece. Maybe I am worried that my writing is all wrong?

Monday, 24 August 2009

The Curious Case of Re-Reading

I am currently rereading 'The Stone Gods' by Jeanette Winterson as a treat after the disappointment of 'Pride and Prejudice and Zombies' (very tiresome after a while, and overhyped). As soon as I read 'The Stone Gods' last year (or was it the year before), I knew I would find myself rereading this great book at some point. It reminds me of 'Brave New World' with a future concerned about Pleasure. I also like the way Winterson's sentences tickle the tongue.

I used to be against rereading - why would people want to revisit a book when there are so many?

But now I am for rereading. You can go back and delve deeper into the text, you can find more layers, get more enjoyment, even understand the story more. I find it useful as a writer to look at their techniques. rereading, to me, is about slowing down and taking the time to consider each word.

Over at the Guardian website, there is an article entitled 'Why re-reading is a crime.' The author believes rereading is for people who are narrow minded, dim, makes other people feel insecure. My initial reaction was a very loud TUT. followed by a shake of the head.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Happy Birthday

I have been writing this blog for a year!
Cakes are on the table and party games start in five minutes. Please can you leave presents in the living room before coming through for the puppet show.

To celebrate this occasion - this is a scheduled post - Back to the Future style. Lets hope you're reading this on the 23rd August rather than 13th!

Last August, I thought this blog would last for a few months at the most (like my EBay blog) but I carried on, being inspired by other writers and needing a place to write about my writing to get the whirlwind of ideas out my head.
This time last year I was still trying to write my second attempt at a novel (MA project) but it was going nowhere and made me want to stop writing. How these things change in a year. Several pieces published and over 35000 words into a novel that I like writing and thinking about.

And I thought this blogging business was all a phase....

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Wordcount Wednesday

It has been another week focusing on the novel and neglecting my short stories. I have several short story ideas but they still need some developing with regards to plot and characters.

Overall word count: 36,272.

I also joined Good Reads today. It is a site for people to record the books they are reading, the ones they have read and to-read books. I guess its an online book club or social networking for book lovers.

i am here.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Writer's Voice

Many people go on writing courses to find their writing ‘voice.’ They think the tutor will hand it out in a small, transparent bag and tell you to take the ‘voice’ pill every day and then you will be gifted with your voice. Find your voice in three years and get a degree. People have this opinion as the media gives you the impression (when slagging of said courses) that these tutors will give you your voice in exchange for your tuition fees.

My four years at university have taught me that you are the one in charge in find your voice. I have also learnt that your ‘voice’ develops and changes as you become more aware of the world and what you want your stories to say.

My Google search for ‘writers’ voice’ came back with articles pointing you in the direction of courses or books. But at the end of the day, you are the only one who can give you your ‘voice.’

Don’t be afraid to be individual. I tried many styles and mimicked other writers before finding my confidence. At university I was worried that people would start analysing your words (having done it myself for A Level English) and break me down. I felt that my stories needed to about big ideas, big occasions to reach those high marks. But then I realised, I needed to be myself. If I wanted to write about king-sized bubble wrap and office gossip, then I should because primarily, the stories were for me. Public consumption was second.

My motto – Be ME and write. Relax with your writing, Feel at ease to write about what you care about.

This has been on my mind recently as I seem to have two styles – one for short fiction (urgent, short, short sentences) and one for longer fiction (descriptions, a sustained voice that could hold someone’s attention over 90,000 words).

I think finding your writer’s voice is something that grows as you write more – like a tree.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Who Would Win in a Fight, Orwell or Huxley?

The below link is a cartoon showing Orwell versus Huxley and the ideas they were trying to say in their books, 1984 and Brave New World. I have printed this off and hung it from my pin board as a reference. I want my novel to say some of these things too. Another thing to add to the ideas list.

Thanks to the person who tweeted this on Twitter - I forgot who it was, sorry.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Wordcount Wednesday

Another writing success this week - I will have a very short piece appearing in an anthology. More details to follow.

I had some 'writer's doubts' (thanks Teresa for that term) over the weekend - The seventh chapter was in my opinion the worse piece of writing ever (maybe I was being too strong). But I am now back on track with some replanning, scribbling notes in my notebook and thinking.

Overall word count for novel: 34,328

I am even considering changing from third person to first in the redraft - but I need to do some experimentation first with a few passages before I make such a big commitment.

The Writer's and Artists yearbook have relaunched their website and some of their recent blog posts have been really interesting:

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Forgetting the Mistakes and Carry on Writing

I think I have just written the worse chapter. Ever. In the world.
The structure of the plot in chapter 7a is hard. I could have started the story too early. Who cares about the main character's walk to work?
The dialogue is laughable - which is not good - I'm not writing comedy - It reads more like a media-speak manual.
And the character's emotions are all over the place - Yes, real life is like that if you're a woman but not from one sentence to the other.

I might be over thinking the chapter so I am not going to worry until I am editing - by that time I will now where the proceeding chapters are heading.

On with the next chapter.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

3:AM - Receding Shopping Bags

I have a short story up at 3:AM. Receding Shopping Bags was originally sent to Dogmatika but they are winding down and passed my story onto these guys.

I am really excited about having a story here. A lot of new and exciting voices have walked those pages.

Wordcount Wednesday - 100th post

I'm sure its still Wednesday somewhere in the universe.

First, lets get the bad news out of the way - I did not get through to the Writing scheme. Over 80 applied. It could have been anything, not liking the portfolio, not enjoying my statement or I could have been over qualified with my BA and MA. I won't know. But I am not going to stop writing - I need to say that as I know people who have stopped over the first rejection.

Good news - sent off two different stories for two different competitions. Fingers crossed for both. One is the story that I wrote when I was ill and has only had one edit.

Novel word count - 32, 403.

Not too much 'proper' writing this week as I have been restructing the next two chapters - I have moved one chapter two places forward and now have a new sequence of events.

I also have an idea for a new short story. Bits and bobs are written across my notebook, laptop and on work PC from writing in my lunch. Must puzzle them together at some point.

Busy weekend ahead - two wedding receptions to attend and I need a good sleep too - this week has been full of overtime, gym and yawning.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

finding Genre in a Science Fiction Magazine

In this month’s SFX magazine (issue 186) (I don’t normally buy sci-fi magazine but a front cover about Stargate is definitely going to get my attention) they have a great article called ‘Caught in the slipstream’ by Jonathan Wright.

The article looks at the difference between a literary and science fiction. Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife is a prime example. Niffenegger’s novel has elements of science fiction but she is filed under the ‘fiction’ section in a bookshop.

Even George Orwell’s 1984 has this problem – straddling both genres.

Sterling coined the phrase ‘Slipstream fiction.’ I have also heard it being called speculative fiction.

A good definition from Wikipedia: Slipstream falls between speculative fiction and mainstream fiction. While some slipstream novels employ elements of science fiction or fantasy, not all do. The common unifying factor of these pieces of literature is some degree of the surreal, the not-entirely-real, or the markedly anti-real. Read more here.

My novel in progress would probably be classed in the same manner. A bit of both. I would probably be shouted at by a lot of writers and writing books – because YOU MUST WRITE TO A SPECIFIC GENRE. I’m sorry but we live in an age where genre borders have blurred and where writing should be judged for the quality. When I was a bookseller, I wished for crime, sci-fic and the classics to all be in one ultimate fiction section. I bet customers who would not been seen dead over in the sci-fi corner would have picked up a Neil Gaiman or two.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Wordcount Wednesday

I have reached thirty thousand words. Thats 30,000 words. I always find digits look more impressive.

Over all word count: 30,632.

This has been a good writing week so far. Cubicle Crimes is up at The Beat, I have started edited another comedy piece based on true events and I am also reading Generation A by Douglas Coupland. I really like it so far (only 150 pages read). I might be biased though as I have liked his previous books.

Cubicle Crimes at The Beat

The Beat have accepted my real-life inspired story, Cubicle Crimes. All names have been changed to protect the guilty. I mean innocent. Also some of the events are not from real life but that's what makes it fiction. You need to embellish, tell a story, make stories appealing.

The Beat are U.K based and look to showcase new and exciting writers.

You can read Cubicle Crimes here. And comment if you wish.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Shelving the Novel

Today I had to shelve my current reading book. A Novel. (sorry, I'm not going to give the title as I don't like to upset people and I would like to hope that people would treat me the samey) (Its not also the book in my current reading window either). I don't like putting books back that I have only half read but I tried with this novel and I couldn't go any further. I even looked at the Amazon reviews yesterday and there were people on there giving the book stars from 5 all the way to 3 - so I did feel bad and sat down before bed last night to have one more crack at the book but I just didn't care anymore.

But the book still got me thinking about my writing and what I could do to avoid readers with my work having the same reaction as me:

  • Every other chapter had a different plot with all the characters fighting for page space to be the main character. It was confusing especially with their names drifting between being called 'Doctor Surname' and 'name.'
My novel also has two plots running through on every other chapter but I need to make sure there are defined characters and the secondary characters know their place.

  • I wanted to know more about the world but it was mostly action.
In my writing I want to find the right balance between description and action.

  • Confusing about where the plot was heading as new questions were springing up and old questions were left unanswered. Maybe if I finished the book I would have found them. But there were too many. Characters were changing their goals in each chapter too.
My writing needs to have a structure and defined character goals.

  • One chapter was based on one event whilst the other was faster and over a longer time period.
I need to maintain the pace in each chapter but also as a whole.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Wordcount Wednesday

Overall Novel Word count: 28,015

Oh, what happened there? The word count has only increased by 483 words. What about the daily target? What about your newly found motivation?


Firstly, this week went very quickly. By the time I reached my Macbook it was Wednesday again.
This week has been busy what with my sister giving birth to a beautiful baby girl (I had my first cuddle this evening), stressing about my cable and worrying that I would never open my files again because they are all doc.x and also doing more DIY and painting because we want the house to look half decent as this weekend we have a friend staying in the 'spare bedroom' (currently half painted, half wall-papered, half a carpet).

Also all my notes from the past week are in my notebook and I don't fancy counting every word on those ten pages.

Next week will be a better word count. I promise.

There is also my short story that needs editing. I must remember that....

An editor rejected my story last week but has now got back to me, asking if he could workshop it. Sounds fine to me. Feedback in all shapes is helpful.

Monday, 20 July 2009

A Good Start to the Writing Week

I used my MacBook down to the last drop of battery but no fear, Mr. UPS has delivered me a new one and I can start writing up my novel notes.

Also some good news after my record breaking 10 rejections last week - an acceptance. This one is super special as the magazine is published in the UK and also in my part of the world, East Anglia.

You can visit Sleepy Orange here.

You can read Russian Doll here and leave a comment if you like.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Wordcount Wednesday

Word count Wednesday is going to be brief this week. After writing last night's post, I sat writing for hours and didn't notice that my Macbook wasn't charging or even running from the mains. My power cable has broken. The lovely chaps at Apple are sending me a new one, in exchange for the old. Fair deal.

This week I haven't written as much novel as I have also written some flash pieces and the first draft of a story.

Over all word count for novel - 27,532.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Writer's Methods

I like Mslexia’s author interviews and especially the insights into their methods. This issue Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Half of a Yellow Sun) has given her method and I agree with most of them.

In the third year of university, my tutor handed out photocopies of these small Mslexia methods. (I remember feeling like a ‘know it all’ as I had the original copies). We had to decide which author had the best method and which ones could we relate too. I struggled as I could take bites from each one. But with Adichie’s I like all of them.

These are my favourite ones:

  • Have no routine, no rituals.
  • Generally a nice meal helps.
  • Eat chocolate.
  • Always write on you Mac laptop.
  • Curiosity never killed any cats – curiosity is one of a writer’s greatest tools.
  • Base you writing on reality, not on themes.
  • Read books
  • Don’t let others tell you how to tell your stories.
  • Work on short stories while working on a novel.
  • Write when it comes.
  • Enjoy the fun of doing something that you love.

You can read an extract here.

Adichie Interview

This has also inspired me to write these in my new Moleskine notebook and to also consider my methods.

Monday, 13 July 2009

Second Person POV

You were told after writing a six thousand word story in your third year at university that second person point of view wasn't popular and was a tad too experimental. But you liked your story with the reader having a central role. It felt more interactive, fun and gave you more freedom, too.

Tonight you wrote a story. First in third person, then first and then you remembered your good old friend, Second person.

The story is full of energy and truthful too. You like it. You even have a moment of thinking it could be the best piece of fiction that you have written for months. You like the story so much that you polish, edit and send it off. No leaving it on the MacBook to stew. This story needs to be read.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Eleven Kinds of Loneliness

The application form for the Writing Scheme is now on it's way through the postal system and will hopefully land at its destination before Wednesday's deadline. Fingers crossed.

I have also found myself with a new short story to edit and also a flash piece. One is about the end of the world. again. I am obsessed at the moment with think about society collapsing or the world's resources running out.

Richard Yates. You might know him from the adaptation of this novel Revolutionary Road with Kate Winslet. I came to know the name through my Bookselling days. A few novels would sell every few months and I would file them in the fiction section without much of a second glance because my heart was for Margaret Atwood. But it wasn't until I had seen the film and then researched about him that I discovered his short stories. Eleven Kinds of Loneliness is brilliant. Yates turns ordinary situations into looking at the human condition with only a few thousand words. "Ordinary into the Extraordinary" was a lesson we were always told at university and Yates shows us that the tutors weren't crazy. I would highly recommend this book for any short story writer or novelist. Yate's book is the best short story collection I have ever read. Its going straight on my re-read list.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

The Accidential Notebook and Other Dilemmas

I am nearing the end of a notebook. One page left and it will be another filled. I like the achievement of finishing notebooks but there is also the fright. What sort of notebook shall I use next, will I be able to write on the pages? The previous notebook (well I didn't even fill half of it but it needed to be shelved) had plain pages and we didn't make friends. I like my uniformed lines unless it separate sheets of plain paper and then I like to write in slopes.

The notebook that is nearly the finishing lines was an accident. Its one of those cheap reporter pads and was meant for making notes at the LBF but on the train journey I started writing a new scene and carried on from there. Because it was a cheap notebook - I didn't feel bad for writing rubbish or ripping out pages. There was a sort of freedom.

I have several choices for the next notebook. A penguin '1984' notebook, a moleskine book (A5 in size, bigger than my normal selection), a notebook with wide lines (i like the small lined books) or buy another reporters pad. I love buying stationery. I could stand in a shop, staring at notebooks for hours. I think about the sort of things it would hold, if its portable for my handbag and train writing, if its durable. No body wants a pad with a paper cover. You need one that lean on. Also I like books with the spiral spine and you can roll over the writing and not worry about editing on the previous section. In the past I have had a pocket Moleskine, a spiral bound notebook, another moleskine rip-off with different coloured pages.

What a writing dilemma.

Maybe road testing each one could be the solution. "Notebook's got talent" coming to a blog near you soon.