Friday, 30 November 2007

Mobile phone blog test


A rainy day in brighton. Photo taken from my window.

[Edited to add: I just discovered that I can take photos and write blog entries on my new mobile phone and send them to my blog. Oh the joy of technology!]

Thursday, 29 November 2007

Official. I am a masochist.

As well as editing my book today and trying (and failing) to print it out I've also managed a short story for Eurofiction task 2 (written on the train home) and a flash for today's Your Messages (that was written when the printer gave up the ghost!).

And you know what the best bit of the day was? A complete stranger sending me an email to say they really liked the flash I posted on Your Messages. I feel all warm and fuzzy now. Thanks Gina.

And now I'm going to sleep.

Typical!

I'd printed out 95/345 pages of my novel when I heard an ominous beep, beep, BEEP noise. I glanced at the printer.

"Out of yellow ink," it said.

I shrugged. "So what? I'm not printing my novel out in yellow I'm printing it out in black."

PRINT.

"No," said the printer. "I'm out of yellow ink. Replace the yellow cartridge and then, and only then, will I print out your novel in black."

"But that doesn't make sense. The black ink cartridge is full. It doesn't matter that the yellow one is empty because...YOU'RE NOT GOING TO USE IT."

"Don't care," said the printer. "I'm not going to print any more of your novel and that's that."

BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP.

I feel an early morning ink cartridge shopping trip coming on. That's if I haven't kicked the printer to death first.

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Just a quick one (a hit)

I found out earlier that I'm a runner up in the WriteSpace "Forbidden Friends" competition. The prize is £15 worth of vouchers (so I can enter the next 3 Writespace comps for free!). I was a runner up in the last comp too so I'm aiming for the cash prizes next time! ;o)

Thursday, 22 November 2007

p.s.

Hooray for ebay. When I trot down to the post office tomorrow with a bag full of parcels my flat will be free of 11 bits of junk saleable items and I will be £100 better off. Just in time for Christmas too. Nice! Now I just need to decide what to do with the other 15,000,000 items that are cluttering up my flat.

p.s. Guess what the central heating men said to me today? It's something I've never heard before - not from the diy store kitchen team, the bathroom fitter, various people who have come to give me a quote for something, Jehovah's witnesses (not really) and all tradesmen that have ever visited -

"It's a tiny flat isn't it?"

Really? I hadn't noticed.

How I Live Now

I rarely (if ever) do book reviews on this blog but, for this particular book, I felt compelled to put fingers to keyboard and tell the world just how fantastic it is. The book in question is "How I Live Now" by Meg Rosoff.

I can't remember why I bought it - possibly because I read a rave review on someone else's blog* or because I wanted to research the Young Adult (YA) market - but buy it I did and I devoured it in a day. It was the first book I haven't been able to put down in a long, long time.

Strictly speaking "How I Live Now" is a YA novel but don't let that put you off. The language, the voice and the characters sparkle and Daisy, the main character, couldn't be more alive if she jumped off the page and breathed in your face. I didn't know anything about this book, the setting or the plot before I started reading it and, in my opinion, neither should you. This is a book you need to read without any preconceptions. Just open it and let it gobble you up. It's a book about love and loss and hope and desire. It's tender and funny and brave and sad.

It's a book I wish I'd written. I can't give it greater praise than that. Recommended for everyone over the age of 12 with a heartbeat.




* It was shortlisted for the Orange Award for new writers so had quite a lot of press at the time I think.

Something silly

This takes a while to load but it put a smile on my face and hopefully on the faces of the people I sent animated 'potato messages' to.

Why say it with flowers when can say it with potatoes?

http://www.potatoparade.co.uk/

(The image above is for all writers reading this blog. Unfortunately you can't send bulk emails from the site so you'll have to make do with a static image for now!)

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

What's new?

Well, I spent last weekend in the snowy Worcestershire countryside for my niece's first birthday. And very sweet it was too - particularly watching how she and the other children (one 9 months, one 15 months) interacted with each other. They reminded me of cats. When they spotted another child they'd stop whatever they were doing and stare. Then they'd sneak forward on hands and knees and halt suddenly when the other child moved. Then they'd sneak forward some more, reach out a hand and then BAT, hit the child on the head. Remarkably there were very few tears and lots of laughter (mostly from the assembled adults).

What else?

I've been working with the editor of Etchings to tweak a few things that needed tweaking in my story before it goes to press (and a very nice man Patrick is too. I thoroughly recommend you all send your best literary short stories off to him asap - http://www.illurapress.com/).

Oh, and the scores are rolling in for the Children in Need flashes (they're all being critiqued anonymously so no one has any idea who wrote each flash) and, after my ever so slightly miserable previous post, I'm pleased to say my flashes have scored quite well.

Each flash needs four separate critiques and each critique gives the flash an overall score.

80-90 means disappointing, needs work
91-99 means reasonable to good
100-109 means good to very good
110+ means excellent

So far, out of the 150 flashes that were written none have scored an average of 110+, about 25 have scored 100-109, 85 have scored 90-99 and 10 have scored 80-89 (for those of you doing the maths some of the flashes haven't received their four crits yet so don't have an average yet).

Of my flashes 3 scored 100-109 and 5 scored 90-99. NONE scored 80-89 so - yay - I didn't write a complete stinker!

What else? Oh, I'm trying to think up a story for the 2nd round of Eurofiction (I have to get my story in a week on Thursday). The prompts this week are:

1) Write a story which includes the following phrase: She touched the envelope and smiled.
2) Write a story about trust.
3) Write a story which includes a dog, a teacup and highlighter pen.

At the moment I'm favouring option 1 but I've got no idea what the story's going to involve yet!

Other than that (and getting over some evil headache/aching bones/exhaustion virus that I've been battling for the last few days) I'm preparing for my flat to descend into chaos over the next two days. My old back boiler is FINALLY being replaced with a nice new combi-boiler (after 2 years of getting quotes, crying at the cost of the quotes and being ignored by central heating firms who came round to give me quotes and then never got back to me) . Wish me luck!

Saturday, 17 November 2007

Children in Need all over for another year

I managed another three flashes tonight and I'm done and ready for bed.

Last year I managed 18 flashes and poems and this year only 8 flashes (and 3 unfinished ones). I feel a bit crappy about that but:

1) I didn't ask anyone to sponsor me this year so didn't have the impetus to go the extra mile
2) I REALLY suffered from writers block/self-consciousness this year and producing 8 finished flashes in that state felt like quite an achievement in itself
3) I like one of the flashes I wrote. It was quite amusing, even if I do say so myself

After midday tomorrow everyone will start critiquing the flashes (anonymously) and next week I'll find out if any of the ones I wrote made the grade to get into this year's anthology or the prizes. If I don't make the grade or win a prize that's okay. Sometimes you need to push yourself out of your comfort zone and force your brain to engage/be creative. And that's what I've done this year, if nothing else.

Friday, 16 November 2007

Excellent, excellent, excellent!

At LAST some excellent news. An email this morning to say my short story "Bookmunch" has been accepted by Australian literary publication "Etchings" (published by http://www.ilurapress.com/ and available in good Ozzy bookshops).

Bookmunch is a story I'm really very fond of and, after it failed to place in a couple of competitions, I thought "sod this, Bookmunch isn't a competition story, it's a story that deserves to be in a good publication" and now it's going to be. Very happy about that.

Also very happy about the free copy I'll be getting and the $50 (Australian dollars) I'll be paid (only I have no idea how much that is in pounds, but anything is better than a kick in the pants).

In other news...

I wrote 5 pieces of flash fiction for Children In Need last night (from 6pm to 3am). Really I should have written 9 pieces (one an hour) but I'm afraid I got a bit distracted by "I'm a Celebrity..." at 9pm and "The Mummy Diaries" at 10pm (which made me cry).

Turning off the TV and putting music on instead was much more condusive to writing! So was the bottle of wine I drank to oil the cogs! I nearly wrote 6 pieces but one of them didn't quite come together as the end of the hour approached so I'll be putting that one in a 'rewrite this as a short story' folder (no such folder exists but you know what I mean).

Anyway, I have a busy day today so I won't be doing any more flashes during the day but I intend to get writing again tonight.

p.s. Kellie, shame on you for reading P.S. I Love You Twice! I hope you can blame that on your hormones! ;o)

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Test your vocab and help charity at the same time

Thanks to TappyLappy I've just discovered a great site called FreeRice where you can test your vocab whilst helping charity at the same time.

My current vocab level is 42. What's yours?

http://www.freerice.com/

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

A Meme (in place of a post!)

While I wait for my blogging mojo to come back here's a meme I stole borrowed from Juliette's blog.

Five Gentlemen I'd Like To Have Round for Tea:

Josh Holloway (aka Sawyer in Lost) - he'd be the eyecandy
Stephen Fry - he'd be the witty/intellectual one
Paul Merton - he'd make me laugh
Eddie Veddie (lead singer of Pearl Jam) - he could sing to me (and be eyecandy too)
Paul O'Grady - he'd be the caustic/sarcastic one

Five Ladies I'd Like to Lunch With:

Fern Britton - she'd make everyone snort tea out of their noses
Jo Brand - for her wit and humour
Margaret Atwood - so I could pick her brains about writing
Martha Wainwright - she could sing to us
Colleen Nolan (or Carol McGiffin - both from Loose Women fame) - they'd be a laugh

Four People I'd Like To Meet in Heaven
(excluding family and friends):

Marilyn Monroe - I'd like to find out if she was more than just a pretty face (also whether she killed herself or was murdered)
Louis Armstrong - he could sing "What a Wonderful World" to me and make me feel more chilled about being dead!
Kurt Cobain - we could reminisce about grunge
Roald Dahl - he could tell me stories to keep me entertained


Four Material Things I Couldn't Live Without:

My laptop
My mp3 player
My bed
My books

Four Things I COULD Live Without:

The London Underground during rush hour
My debts
Writers block/blips in self-confidence
Rude people

Three Books I Would Save From a Burning Building:

The Faraway Tree - Enid Blyton
1984 - George Orwell
Brave New World - Aldous Huxley

Three Books I Would Throw Into a Burning Building:

P.S. I Love You - Cecilia Ahern (couldn't finish it)
Brick Lane - Monica Ali (couldn't get into it)
Crystal - Katie Price/Jordan (along with anything else masquerading as fiction and 'written' by a celebrity)

Five Songs That Make Me Happy:

Could You Be Loved - Bob Marley
Valerie - The Zutons
Big Sur - The Thrills
What a Wonderful World - Louis Armstrong
Pretty in Pink - Psychadelic Furs

Five Songs That Make Me Cry:

Almost Blue - Alison Moyet
Don't Smoke in Bed - Nina Simone
Hallelujah - Jeff Buckley
Hurt - Johnny Cash
You've Changed - Joni Mitchell


Two Things I Wish I'd Invented:

Google (I'd be a multimillionaire by now)
The Sandwich (it would be quite cool for my surname to be immortalised)

Okay and now I'm going to tag 5 people. I'll go for A.Writer, Sally, Lane, HelenMH and Fiona.

p.s. I finally got round to putting some of my post-clearout stuff on ebay at the weekend and am now addicted to checking my listings to see how high the bids are! Roll on some extra cash to spend on Christmas presents!

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

I've lost my blogging mojo...

...have you seen it?

I've been meaning to post to this blog for a few days but just haven't felt particularly inspired. That's not to say I haven't been writing - I have. I wrote a 300 word flash for http://writeyourmessages.blogspot.com/ on Friday and last night I wrote a 2,000 word story for Eurofiction (entries for the first task have to be in on Thursday so I actually got mine in really early, well, for me anyway). I just, dunno, don't feel like I've got much of interest to blog about at the moment.

If anyone finds my mojo please return it asap!

Thursday, 8 November 2007

Editing

Hooray - just did some more novel editing pushing my first draft edited from 78% to 85.6% done!

I've now finished typing up my previous paper edits so it's back to the print out to do some more scribbling/crossing out. Just 39 pages left to read, edit and type up and then the first edit will be DONE!

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Bits and Bobs

I had no idea I hadn't blogged since Sunday - where have the days gone?

So, I haven't blogged about writing or editing for a while so I'd better mention them. Since Sunday I've:

1) Edited a short story (the one that had pace problems) and sent it off to an anthology
2) Written a 300 word flash for the 'your messages' project (http://writeyourmessages.blogspot.com/)
3) Written a 150 word flash for Mslexia's latest flash call - Electricity (just need to take another look at it and see if it needs editing before I send it off)
4) Started a short story...and abandoned it (it felt too forced)

And, um, that's it. Oh...I lie...I've also been thinking about writing a lot and scribbling down ideas for the Eurofiction competition. The first set of prompts went up on the website last Thursday and I've been racking my brains for ideas ever since. If you're curious the three prompts were:
  • A story titled "The Interview"
  • A story containing the line "I knew I shouldn't have given her my phone number"
  • A showing the top card of a pack of cards - the Jack of Hearts

The abandoned short story I mentioned above was a response to the second prompt. I didn't want to write something obvious (like a story about a guy who meets a girl in a club and she turns out to be a stalker/lunatic) so took a slightly different approach but it all just felt too self-conscious and I knew that if I forced the story out if wouldn't work. I've now had an idea for the first prompt which also isn't an obvious interpretation but it's a story that should actually be quite fun to write (because that's what writing should be about right? Fun. Sometimes it's easy to forget that).

So yes, I've got the idea. Now I just need to write it!

I've haven't done any more editing of the novel (or work on the children's book) but something I realised while I was on holiday was that I put far too much pressure on myself when it comes to writing and sometimes you should just write what you feel like writing. And this week I've mostly felt like writing flashes and scribbling down ideas. Tomorrow I'm going to do a bit of novel editing and on Sunday I'm going to write my Eurofiction entry. That's quite enough for one week I think!

Sunday, 4 November 2007

Cringey, cringey, cringe

I just saw the new Spice Girls video on TV and my overwhelming response is... embarrassment. What are they doing? It's like the battle of the 30-something bodies. Geri gyrating against a doorway with her ultra-toned stomach out, MelB seems to have forgotten to put her top on and Victoria..well...I think she may have escaped from a gimp dungeon.

Congrats to Mel C and Emma for keeping their clothes on (and preserving their dignity).

If you'd like to cringe too go here and see the car crash 'come back' for yourselves:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZqBjgyd3_44

Saturday, 3 November 2007

I am...

getting a bit addicted to this:

Helicopter Game

and, as a result, probably developing RSI.

My current highest score is 836.

Can you beat it? (probably)

Friday, 2 November 2007

300 word messages

I know lots of other bloggers have already blogged about this but I feel the need to get the word out too, particularly as I've just written a 300 word message in response to today's posting and now have that lovely 'Ooh, I just wrote something new' feeling.

What am I talking about?

Well, get yourself over here: http://writeyourmessages.blogspot.com/ to find out and join in. I noticed fellow bloggers Zinnia and Chris have also posted messages in response to the posts.

Give it ago - even if you don't get selected for the publication you'll get your creative juices flowing.

Thursday, 1 November 2007

Good God - I actually did some editing!

I really didn't want to do any editing tonight but I knew that the longer I left the editing the less likely I was to start doing it again. Luckily I still had pages and pages of hand scribbled edits to type up so I didn't have to concentrate too much.

5% done tonight and that puts my editing at 78% done. There's just 70 pages left to edit (of 340 pages) and I've hand edited 22 of those pages so not much more to do. Hooray!

And then it's onto editing stage 2....

On finding the right voice...and bad timing...

On Monday night, just as I'd settled into bed, I had an idea for a story and, all of a sudden, the opening popped into my head.

I had the voice, the tone, the mood and that 'ooh' feeling you get when you just know that if you sit down and start writing the story you won't stop until it's done (my most successful short stories have come out this way but, unfortunately, such magical moments are few and far between, more's the pity). It was 2am, I was dog-tired and all I had to hand was my mobile phone. I tapped as much as I could into the notes section of my phone and then ran out of space. I was torn. Did I get up, seize the moment and write it (and make it through a day at work with 3-4 hours sleep) or go to sleep (I'd only had 5 hours sleep the night before and had to get up at 7am)? I'm ashamed to say I went to sleep. And I dare call myself a writer!

Now my only option is to transcribe my mobile phone story opening and hope like hell that I can recapture the mood/tone/voice and write the story. All I have to do is find a way to re-capture the magic. Easier said than done unfortunately *sigh*.