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Showing posts from April, 2014

Zesty Writing

What is it that gives you a zest for writing?

Do you get a buzz from creating characters and plotting what happens to them in a story or novel?

Do you want to share your experiences with others whether you've been on a round the world trip or you have a personal message to share?

Do you want to educate or guide others through your writing?

Take a moment now to think about the sorts of things you really enjoy writing. What piece of writing recently gave you the most pleasure? What was it about that writing that inspired you or was so enjoyable?

The reason I think it's important to consider these aspects are because usually when we write with zest, it's likely to be far more enjoyable for the reader too. I liken it to some wise words that I received from an elderly neighbour of mine who bakes a lot of cakes (and yes, I'm very happy to live next door to her as there are often spare slices of Victoria Sandwich or scones available which she hands to me over the wall). She…

Yes Man Yes

If you've seen the Jim Carey film you'll know that he agrees to say yes to everything in his life. Sounds crazy hey - why would we want to do that? It could lead us into all sorts of bizarre and strange situations, and more importantly take us out of our comfort zones and we certainly wouldn't want to do that would we? And yes, that includes me!

Yet saying yes opens us up to all sorts of opportunities. In my writing world I've said yes to the following:

Yes I want to join a writing group and so in association with my local library I set one up and two years later it's still running

Yes I want to join the Nanowrimo website and write 50,000 words in a month and so I did and it reconnected me with the joys of creative writing

Yes I want to attend some writing courses and so I did and this has meant that I've been on the Granta Writing Course in New York as well as attending local courses close to home.

Yes I want to connect with some author…

X-Ray Vision

Think about the sort of superpowers you might like to have. What would be on your list?

x-ray visionmindreadingpredicting the future Well I'm here to notify you that all your dreams have come true because as a writer you get to have all of these superpowers and you don't even have to wear the x-ray vision glasses either.

When I'm writing a new character I've get given the gift of x-ray vision and you do too. I can see all the way through my character. I know about her physically, what she looks like, what she smells like and how she likes to colour her hair even though she thinks everyone else thinks it's natural - yeah right!  I can even tell you her blood group if I want and about her childhood illnesses. I know her traits, her characteristics, all the things she loves and hates. I know her weaknesses, her fears and her vulunerabilities. I know what she does when nobody else is around and I know her favourite music and her favourite books and her favourite friend…

What Writing is not

Writing is not reading books about writing.

Writing is not joining online forums and discussing writing.

Writing is not talking about writing.

I've done all of the above and they're great fun and really interesting but they are not writing.

Writing is sitting down, putting pen to paper or hands on the keyboard and producing written work. That's writing.


How values impact our writing

Today on the A to Z blogging challenge we have reached the letter V. This letter has vexed me. Should I write about visibility, versatility, variation or voice or none of the above. I'm stumped and have been sat staring at my screen unsure of which way to turn. But the word that keeps coming back to me is value.

For me value is an unusual word because it can be used in different ways. For example, do you value your creative work, i.e. how important is it to you, do you make time and space for it or is it something that's at the bottom of your list and that you fit in if you can.  I used to be like this - I saw writing more as a hobby tagging it in here and there along the way.  Now I take it more seriously. If a day passes when I've not written, it feels quite odd, a bit weird and I feel like I've missed an opportunity. There are still those days of course and I don't beat myself up if I haven't written, but I prefer it if I have. It helps me feel more balanced,…

Us and our wonderful stories

Us - yes, that's you and me and all those others - us.

And we all have a story to tell or a story in us we are told. Some of us choose to write them down, some choose to tell others verbally, some like to paint a picture of theirs and let others work it out. But whatever way, we love stories. Whether we read books or not, stories and story-telling goes on around us every day and has done forever. It's done by us and to us. Even if it's the answer to "How was your day dear" - maybe we elaborate just a little or make John's boring presentation at work just a little bit more boring than it was or perhaps we make out that the guy who made casual conversation with us at the coffee shop today was flirting outrageously with us:

"Really, he said that to you."

"Yes he really did say that - I could have taken it futher but he just wasn't my type."

You know exactly what I mean. You know because you've done it yourself.

Everyone's story i…

My take on Timelines

As some of you might know I've been writing a novel or should I say trying to write a novel for some time now. It's been slow progress and finalising it is undoubtedly hampered by the fact that I've not touched it since the end of last year. It's all very neatly filed away in a big folder and I try not to listen to my poor characters crying out for attention and love and of course for some type of resolution.

I've learnt a lot during my novel writing experience and I can certainly see how my writing has developed since I first started. However, one thing that I've never really mastered is the timeline.

I understand the logic of it - it is after all a highly logical process (perhaps in fact that's where my failing begins - I'm not the most logical of people). It looks like it will be a really useful and beneficial process that will aid my writing and help me get to grips with plot timing and character movements and yet each time I've tried to work …

Success in Writing

How do you define success in writing? Some people would say that once you're published you're successful. For others, they might say once is not enough, you need to continue to be published.

But in reality, all those views and opinions are really only the thoughts of others. They might influence you one way or another. They might even encourage and support you to try new things. But actually success is based on your own personal criteria. This message was reinforced by my attendance at my local writing group. When I joined, although I love and am passionate about writing, I would definitely have defined success as publication and maybe even multiple publication - after all in my mind, once could simply have been good luck or a flook - yep sadly that's the way my mind likes to work at times. I often have to tell it to shut up and go away.

However, when I looked around me and got chatting to the other people in the group, I realised that it was different for the various peo…


One of the definitions of retreat in the Oxford Dictionary is to withdraw to a quiet or secluded place. In order to write, I believe that we need to retreat on a regular basis, to find that stillness within where we can access our thoughts and express ourselves. I also think that being in this stillness also enables us to refresh and renew and face the noise and constant activity of the everyday world. This might not be true for everyone of course, but it is for me. I very much enjoy my own company and search out opportunities to retreat and listen.

Accessing this space can be difficult, especially if family and work claims your time and it can feel highly selfish to make demands for this type of space in the hecticness of life. If you believe that to retreat fully you have to be completely alone and in complete silence it is going to be virtually impossible unless you book yourself into a silent monastery for a week or two, but there are ways and means of finding this solitude withou…

Quilts and Qwerty

I believe that one of the great pleasures in life is having a quilt day or as it's affectionately referred to "a duvet day". OK, I know you can see what I've done there and snuck this under Q in the A to Z Blogging challenge. But hey, I'm sure you'll forgive me, especially as it's my birthday today.

So as much as I'd enjoy a quilt day, there is other loveliness in store for me. My day holds joy and anticipation and friendship. I know that there are gifts from loved ones to open, cards galore and a glorious day out with my very gorgeous husband and then an evening of delicious food and drink with some girl friends. It really sounds pretty darn good.

So today here's my gift for you and to say thank you for visiting my space in the giant world of the Internet. I saw this online and thought it would appeal. It's not quite the usual qwerty keyboard, but very appealing nonetheless.

Presenting your work

Having entered several of my stories into competitions and also having asked for a critique on the first two chapters of my novel, I've come to realise the importance of how you present your work when submitting it to others. In the UK, there seems to be a fairly standard style of presentation that is expected although always check the presentation and style guidelines when making a submission to be sure that you don't get turned down purely because you haven't followed the rules.

I was no expert on this matter and usually wrote my stories using a favourite font in normal spacing. It wasn't a detail I worried about and yet each time I've come to submit work I've had to transform it into the preferred style.

If you'd like to know more, here's a link to Sue Moorcroft's site. Sue has many published novels, writes regularly for a writing magazine and runs writing workshops both in the UK and in Europe.  When seeking help on presenting my work, she is my…

Opening Lines

'It all began the day my grandmother exploded' Iain Banks

Tell me who wouldn't want to read more following this opening line of Iain Banks' Crow Road? The opening line is where the reader begins their journey and in my experience we want it to be good. We want to be intrigued, we want to know more, we want something that draws us in and makes us continue. An opening line is often my way of selecting a new book. Standing in the bookstore, if I'm not sure what I want, I'll take a look at some new authors and read the opening line of their novels. The line that jumps out at me most - is generally the one I buy and take home with me.
When I started to think about and research opening lines online, the articles I found pretty much quoted the same books which were mostly the Classics. Rather than sharing these with you as I'm sure you can all quite easily take a look online if you're interested, I randomly pulled some books off my own bookcase and thought I woul…



I first came to Nanowrimo back in November 2011. If you're not heard of it, it stands for National Novel Writing Month and was set up in the US as a way of encouraging people to write their novels albeit during one month.  When you sign up to the site, you are making a commitment to write 50,000 words or more of your novel during November which equates to writing 1,664 words each day. You can get involved in all the online forums for ongoing support and connect with other writers who are writing in a similar genre to yourself, actively seek out other local writers to meet up with during the month or you can simply tap or write away at home on your own and update your stats once every now and again to demonstrate your progress. You can be as involved as you choose to be.

When I initially committed to Nanowrimo, I sought out other writers and met with them regularly especially in the early stages of November. It was fun to meet with other people all aiming for the same out…

My Muse

I'd like to introduce you to my muse. She is wearing a hooded long white cloak, touched with tiny particles of silver, like quivering fish scales. She is quiet, unobtrusive and gentle. It is the swoosh of the cloak around her graceful form and the way those silver threads catch the light that alerts me to her presence. She pushes down the hood on her cloak revealing a deep red satin lining and I get a closer look at her. Her dark hair flecked with grey is swept up softly on her head. Her face is lined. Lines of wisdom and experience. Lines caused in the main by happiness and smiles, yet pain too and knowledge of life. Her eyes sparkle. They sparkle with love, enthusiasm, encouragement and support. This is someone who loves me and wants to see me succeed.Yet she's no push over. She waits patiently, looks me in the eye and says: "ready when you are."


So here's a question - do we label ourselves or do others put labels on us in relation to our writing? I think probably both occur. We might find a style of writing or a writing genre that we enjoy or perhaps it's a genre we read a lot of and perhaps want to emulate. One of the guys who joined the writing group  is a poet by choice but wanted to extend his reach and so now usually writes a short story each month. However, his stories are filled with poetic sentences and his scenes or characters are usually beautifully described to a depth that I don't ever reach. He simply can't help but write this way - this is what he naturally leans towards. Even his flash ficiton is poetic in form or so it seems to a non-poet like myself.

In addition, it seems that other people can put a label on you too (not always just in relation to writing etiher but that's another story and probably one best left for my work based blog). I think this occurs particuarly at publishing stage…

Keep Going

In this world of words where we choose to reside, where we can be our own worse enemies and where we beat ourselves up about our inadequacies, question our abilities and dwell in our insecurities, keep going.

In this world of words where others can take a poke at us, where they can comment anonymously without repercussion and can hurt our feelings without even knowing who we are, keep going.

In this world of words where it can get tough and we get stuck and blocked and can't always find a way forward, keep going.

In this world of words where rejection letters and "sorry it's not for us" and sometimes no response at all is part of the course, keep going.

In this world of words, keep going. The world needs storytellers and poets. It needs wordsmiths and imagineers. The world needs creativity and beauty and hope and we are here to provide it. So keep going.

Journal Addiction

So I have a confession to make. It's not a terrible scandal and I hope it won't change how you feel about me - it might even bring us closer, especially those of you who share in my addiction. Ok, let's get it out there - I'm a journal addict!

I'm not sure what it is about them - perhaps it's about potential. They all have the potential to house and keep safe a short story, a piece of poetry of even perhaps my novel. I can scribble away and make the letters form words and the words form sentences and the sentences form paragraphs and so on and so on. I can keep extensive lists to keep me organised and in control as well as writing my goals for today, this month, this year. Views on life and my feelings and thoughts can be expressed and shared and it's just between me and the journal. The journal stays loyal and faithful. It doesn't discuss or gossip with friends in the coffee shop about the things it's heard. Not that my friends would necessarily w…

Ideas and Inspiration

Being part of a local writer's group has been a fascinating experience for me. It has given me additional confidence, enabled me to get involved in discussions on writing, publishing and self-publishing and I've made some new friends all who love what I love. Yay!

What I have found interesting is that although we all share a love of writing, we write in quite different ways. The group runs at our local library and each time we are given some homework to complete before the next meeting. One gentleman says that often by the time he reaches his car outside in the car park (less than a five minute walk away), he already has the ideas sprouting in his head for his next story and his homework is almost complete other than him putting pen to paper or hands to laptop to write it down. I, on the other hand, tend to mull the exercise over and over in my mind and often the exact idea doesn't arrive until the day before or sometimes even on the day of the next meeting itself. For me,…

Writing from the Heart

"The idea is to write it so that people hear it and it slides through the brain and goes straight to the heart." Maya Angelou

We all know that feeling - the one that we get when we read a great book or a beautiful piece of poetry and it affects us. For me it's about connection and the ability to generate emotion within me. Sometimes, it's an acute feeling that the writer has experienced what I have experienced and he or she has walked down a similar pathway to mine. The emotions may vary. It might  be that I find myself enjoying a great big belly laugh or that I'm gasping in shock at a turn of events or that I find tears streaming down my cheeks often unexpectedly by a turn of phrase or some wisely chosen words. However, in most of these instances, the reactions created in me are because the author has written from the heart. He or she has shared something that reaches us and touches us and it brings us closer to them if even for a moment. I think that reading is…

G is for Goats

I thought I'd have a little fun after some recent heavier blog topics and so today here is a cute Internet video of Goats. Boy, I wish I could channel some of that energy and run around like that although I'd definitely try not to knock anyone else down and stand on the backs of others to find my way.

We all need a little time out each day and the Internet certainly has plenty of distractions. Cats are generally my preferred choice of Internet distraction, but cute animals in any form can usually do it. Are you ready, get set, Go...

Feedback, Fears and Fragility

When we start as new writers, it can often be hard to ask for feedback from others. Perhaps we are nervous about what others might think and we don't think we're good enough or that they'll tell us something we don't want to hear, i.e. our writing is rubbish. Putting yourself out there and asking for feedback can be an harrowing experience and one that lots of writers put off.

What is that stops us from seeking feedback? I believe that it is linked to our personal fears. What if others think our stories are terrible and they tell us so? What if they criticise our writing - surely that's the same as criticising us direct? What if I've put all this effort into something and other people hate it - I'll have wasted so much time. If I continued in this loop, I could very easily convince myself never to write again - after all who wants to put themselves out there to potentially get slapped straight back down again. We all generally like to be in a position of b…


The other day on this Blog I talked about being bold and yet I've not once ever confessed my own situation on line in public for all the world to know about. So if I'm going to write posts about being bold, I think I should live up to my own words - so here goes:

I've always been a big doer in life. I was never a naturally talented student and so I always had to work hard to get anywhere in life. I was brought up in a single family home by my mother who told me that one should always work hard and never let your employer down, so I embraced this philosophy and did as she said. I worked long hours, worked hard to meet my employer's needs which of course kept growing as I tried to continue to meet them and I ignored any signs of illness. My head very much ruled and I didn't listen to anything my body tried to tell me.

Five years ago my mum became seriously ill and we discovered too late that it was cancer and she died three and a half weeks later. After her death, I …

D is for Dark Side

Some of you reading this might know that I'm currently undertaking the A-Z Blogging Challenge and today Day 4 is the letter D. As it is almost 9 pm and I've had a day of it, including interviewing staff, management meetings and friends dropping by this evening, D almost became Desperately trying to write this Darn post! However instead I've decided to take a visit to the dark side. Would you like to join me?

It seems that we have a fascination for the darker side of life. Book shops are filled with fictional tales of murder and mayhem and stories of  people who've had their hearts broken in one way or another. Often in such books, we want to see good overcome evil. We want to see the killer get their just desserts and we want to see the broken main character find happiness with someone new. A lot of times that happens and sometimes it doesn't.  Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn is in my opinion a good example of this - a portrayal of two dark main characters and no Hollyw…

Coffee Shops

One of my most pleasurable pastimes as a writer is the joy of the coffee shop. There's so much writing material available right in front of you. For example:

- the overheard salacious conversations between friends,
- the one-sided angry mobile phone calls,
- the teenagers hanging out after college discussing their love lives
- and the lone gent who arrives at the same time every day to do the crossword.

The coffee shop gives you a snapshot of the world around you and in particular people undertaking common activities. It provides excellent fodder for new characters. It enables you to listen and write dialogue more realistically. It acts as an observation deck from which you can view the routines of those around you and it can help you create character flaws and details that your own imagination might not have come up with.

All these people and their everyday tales can also provide an excellent starting point for a story - see that well dressed man over there - say what if …


In the world of writing, especially when you're starting off and new to everything, it can be easy to stay in your comfort zone. You know what I mean - we like to stay safe, keep ourselves in positions where we don't rock the boat or cause too much conflict -  because we wouldn't want that would we?

Let's face it, we've all undoubtedly read books and stories where the writer has taken this approach and often it's disappointing. I'm sure you know the sort of thing - the ending was kind of mwah or left you wondering how you might get the eight hours back you spent reading the book. You may even have felt let down - after all you committed to this and thought you were in a balanced relationship, only to find that actually the author wasn't as committed as you thought.

So I say, embrace your boldness - write about those things that make your heart soar but also those that make your heart bleed. Show your readers raw emotion, take them on your journey, make …

Acting Like a Writer

So how do you act like a Writer?

If I put that sentence into a search engine, all sorts of wonderful posts come up - How to think and act like a writer, how to dress like a writer, how to be a writer. It seems that I could spend days reading about the act of being a writer rather than actually getting on with the act of being a writer!

For me personally, acting like a writer is about the following routines and disciplines, although I could probably benefit from easing back on point 6 below - you'll realise when you get there.

1) I like to ensure that every day there is space and time for writing. This is usually first thing in the morning and if I have early meetings, I try and wake a little earlier to ensure that I can spend time with my journal. If I don't make the early morning slot, then I find time later in the day even if it's just before I go to bed. Although I have found that if I miss out on morning writing, my day feels unbalanced and my head in turmoil. The act o…