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 The one I will be reading is a new, fresh, unpublished piece.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 http://www.timkey.co.uk/ - 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 http://www.bevaristo.net/ - 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 http://www.facebook.com/people/Nancy-Clarik/509141598 - wordPLAY deputy host spits her lyrical witticisms on popular culture and beyond

Agnes Lehoczky http://www.inpressbooks.co.uk/agnes_lehoczky_f02025.aspx - bilingual poet Agnes reads her beautiful verse, including work from her collection 'Budapest to Babel'

Ola Rhodes http://olarhodes.wordpress.com/about/ - unpredictable stories with bite and sass are this gal's speciality

Jessica Patient http://www.writerslittlehelper.blogspot.com/ - 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...http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oc1BzbFW3_I

plus the random erratic musings and mutterings of your host Rebecca Fentonhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4yVAi6Yd_hA

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.