Sunday, 30 December 2007

Novel 2 outline...

DONE!!!

To be sent off tomorrow.

Bring on the New Year's Eve festivities!

And, because I doubt I'll get to a computer on New Year's Day

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!

New Year's Resolutions to follow in...well...in the New Year!

Friday, 28 December 2007

End of Year Writing Stats

I was sure I posted my writing stats last year but I can't seem to find them. Never mind. Here are the stats for this year...

Number of words written in 2007: 146,738

Number of stories written in 2007: 20

Number of flashes written in 2007: 17

Number of poems written in 2007: 3

Number of novels completed in 2007: 1 (hooray!)

168 short story and flash submissions (quite a few still 'out there')

25 short story and flash fiction hits including:

12 competition placings (2 published in print, 1 published online)
3 online publications at ezines
8 print publications
1 radio broadcast
1 performance

and....

90 short story/flash rejections (I don't tend to post those on the blog funnily enough! ;o))

This year was particularly tough writing-wise as I took on a little too much. I tried to keep up with my short story writing and subbing AND write a novel. Next year it's going to be all about the novels with the odd short story written when the mood takes me. I just haven't got the time or energy to dedicate myself to both.

I'm still so pleased with myself for writing and editing novel #1 this year and I'm really excited about started novel #2 next year. For the past couple of nights novel #2 has been knocking at my brain just as I'm about to fall asleep and I've had to get up and scribble down the ideas before I forget them. It's really taken shape now so, after a day at the sales today (black knee high boots in size 8 yay!), I'm going to spend as long as it takes tomorrow getting the outline written.

2007 has been a good year writing-wise. Let's hope 2008 is even better!

Thursday, 27 December 2007

You've got to love the Christmas sales...

...because you overhear the funniest conversations.

Take this one that I eavesdropped on in Marks and Sparks this afternoon:

Lady #1 (holding up a shirt and eyeing it critically): I quite like this

Lady #2 (appraising shirt): Why don't you get it?

Lady #1: Because I'm trying to work out if Gok Wan would buy it

Lady #2 (confused): Gok Wan?

Lady #1: Yes, my rule for the sales this year is to only buy clothes Gok Wan would approve of

Lady #2: And what would he think of that shirt?

Lady #1 (putting shirt back on rail): He'd hate it! Next!

Monday, 24 December 2007

Just sneaking back to say...

I've had more wonderful news! I found out yesterday that I WON the Children in Need Flash Marathon. I am totally, totally gobsmacked. Forty or so of the highest scoring entries were sent to Tom Dooley at Eclectica to judge anonymously and he chose one of mine as the winner. It'll be published on the site at some point in the future and I'll also receive some prize money (no idea how much yet). But gosh...wow...what a great Christmas present and totally unexpected :o)

In other news I've spent most of Christmas Day penning my entry for the fourth round of Eurofiction (to be in by 27th December!) and I've just sent it off! It's probably not the best story I've ever written (it was written in the living room with a glass of mulled wine in one hand, the TV blaring in the background and my family chatting and laughing around me) but it's a story and it's been sent (I promised myself I'd write a story for each of the 10 rounds of Eurofiction comes hell or high water and so far I have).

I still have to outline novel #2 but that can wait until after Christmas (I'm not a complete masochist!).

Happy Christmas everyone. Hope you all have a happy, stress-free day :o)

Monday, 17 December 2007

Hit at QWF!

Good God. I just received an email from Kathie at QWF (Quality Women's Fiction) to let me know that my story "The Healer's Wife" will be published in the January 2008 issue.

Am so, so, so chuffed as QWF was on my list of journals/magazines I wanted to crack this year and, just at the last minute, I have!

I've had such good news this month that I can't help but think my luck will change soon and something horrible will happen (I know, I know, it's supersticious silliness but...you know...when you're a natural pessimist like me a spate of good news tends to freak you out a bit!) Anyway, I've got a nice warm glow now (and that isn't just the two Christmas candles burning on the desk beside me!)

p.s. Went to see "Cinderella" at Brighton Theatre Royal this evening. I hadn't been to see a panto since I was a kid and it was just as much fun as I remembered. Not sure it used to cost £24 a seat when I was little though!

Sunday, 16 December 2007

When someone asks...

"Where did you get the idea for novel #2 from?"

I can answer...

"It popped into my head while I was knitting and watching Antiques Roadshow one Sunday before Christmas."

I'm so rock and roll!

Seriously though - I think the lack of mental stimulation gave my subconscious the opportunity to go "Oi you, I've got an idea. Listen!"

I still haven't got the whole plot worked out for novel #2 but I'm getting there.

The Mystery of the Splat!

Last night, while I was watching TV in the early hours of the morning (probably about 1 or 2am) I heard a loud THUMP as something hit my living room window. The blinds were down and it was dark outside so I assumed it was a senile seagull, confused by the light.

This morning I opened the blinds and discovered...well...a splat on the window!

Looking at it a bit more closely there are sort of orangey coloured bits pasted to the window (nice!) and lots of dribbles. It doesn't look like blood. In fact, it looks more like someone threw a moldy orange at my window. BUT...I live in the first floor flat of a converted house so someone would have to aim pretty high to throw an orange up here and they'd have to do it deliberately. Who would do that and why? The other option is that some kind of flying animal hit my window and its guts are orange coloured. Or maybe a flying animal dressed as an orange hit my window?

I'm curious (and more than a little grossed out)

Can you tell I'm trying to distract myself from outlining novel #2?

Saturday, 15 December 2007

When life almost imitates art

I've finished all my Christmas shopping, wrapped all the presents and ASDA are turning up with the food tomorrow (hooray for internet shopping). Just one thing left to sort out...the Christmas tree...

I was supposed to wait for someone to come and help me get it down from the attic but, because I'm the impatient sort, I thought I'd try and get it down myself earlier this afternoon. I propped up the step ladder under the hatch and climbed to the top. I slid the hatch to one side and peered around. There was the tree, about three feet away from the hatch. I should probably mention now that I've never gone up into the attic before because the step ladder is too short and I don't have the arm power to pull myself up. What I normally do is climb up to the top step and slide things in so they're within arms reach of the hatch.

Today, being desperate to get my tree, I thought maybe, just maybe, I could stand on the very top of the ladder (the bit that has a big warning sign on it saying do not stand on this) and haul myself in.

I stepped...

I lifted myself up a bit...

I put my weight on my arms...

and then...

the step ladder wobbled beneath me

and I thought "Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooo, what the hell am I doing?"

There's a bit in novel #1 involving the main character, something in the attic she desperately wants and a wobbly step ladder. And it doesn't end happily ever after.

I decided to abandon the tree and stepped, slowly, back down the step ladder. They say life imitates arts but I certainly don't want my life to imitate my book (you'll know why if it ever gets published).

Still think the living room looks empty without the tree though.

Acute episodes

My copy of The Lancet's end of year fiction special arrived this morning. They've called it Acute Episodes which is a very fitting name I think and its a beautifully made publication; it's A5 size, the front cover is glossy, the pages are high quality paper, the typography is excellent and the photographic illustrations are brilliant.

There's something so satisfying about seeing your story in print and for me its all about the tactile quality of the publication and the feeling of solidity - you can put your words on a shelf and they won't float away.

The other good news...

A couple of days ago I mentioned some wonderful news I'd received via email that I couldn't announce because I'd been sworn to secrecy, but now I can...

Sarah Salway and Lynne Rees have a book out next year called Messages. To quote their blog:

"When we started the Messages Project in 2003, it was all about our shared passion for writing and the creative process. We devised a simple formula over coffee one day. Using email, we would exchange 300 ‘messages’ of exactly 300 words, with each one returned within a time limit of 72 hours. Links between each message were made with words, themes, character, form, or even mood. The project took eighteen months to complete and the original Messages was published in July 2006."

In November this year they started the Write Your Messages project. Every day for 30 days they posted one of the messages from their book on their blog http://writeyourmessages.blogspot.com/ and invited writers to respond to that message with their own 300 word response. The best responses at the end of the 30 days would be selected by Lynne and Sarah for inclusion in a booklet to be published by Bluechrome and sold for charity.

I read the messages every single day (and many of the responses) and contributed 6 of my own 300-word responses during the course of the month and...

Two of my messages have been selected for publication!

I really enjoyed the Messages project and desperately wanted to be a part of the final publication so I'm dead chuffed to have two flashes in it. There's a launch party at the end of January that I'll be going to and...casting a quick eye over the other contributors...it looks like lots of fellow bloggers could be going too. So excited! Who's going?

Friday, 14 December 2007

That Christmassy Feeling

My flat is a tip.

Why, when I have so much to do anyway did I decide it would be a good time to go through all my clothes sorting them into piles of 'keep', 'throw', 'charity shop' and 'ebay'? I also have a pile of ebay packages to post out (again WHY did I think it would be a good idea to ebay more stuff before Christmas?). I also have piles of presents to wrap and a freezer I need to defrost to make space for yummy Christmas food. Oh, and a million other niggly jobs that need to be done before Christmas.

BUT...

I've still got the Christmas feeling and I just wanted to say...

Merry Christmas everyone!

And to prove how Christmassy I'm feeling I thought I'd do a little dance for you. Enjoy!

Me dancing like a loon!

Thursday, 13 December 2007

So...

In light of my previous post it looks like I'm not going to have a quiet Christmas after all. I've got a novel to plan and outline!

Still, there are worse ways to spend your time!

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Knackered but Happy

Good god, I can't wait for this week to end! I've been up and down more often than a gigolo's zip. Up to London and back down to Brighton that is.

It started last Saturday when I travelled up to London to queue for my ticket and wristband at the O2 centre (did I mention I went to the Ahmet Ertegun/Led Zeppelin gig ;o)) I travelled back down to Brighton on Sunday.

On Monday I travelled back up to London to go to said gig. So much has been written about it that I'm at a loss for words, apart from the word FANFUCKINTASTIC which, from now on, should always be synonymous with Led Zeppelin. Honestly, they were so good I felt dizzy (and that wasn't because we were on the 4th floor) when they finished the second encore - Rock and Roll - and didn't feel normal again for hours. Even then my ears didn't stop ringing for 12 hours!

Anyway, back down to Brighton tonight and then back up to London tomorrow for a work Christmas dinner (we're going to a Gary Rhodes restaurant/bar. OHMYGOD what do I wear? I don't do 'posh'!) and then back down on Friday and....

THAT'S IT!

I'll be on holiday for THREE WHOLE WEEKS. and no more up and down apart from across (and slightly up) to my folks for a few days. Wah hoo!

I stayed up obscenely late on Monday night to get the third story written for the Eurofiction competition and gave it a quick edit tonight before sending it off. Now I've got until 27th December to write the fourth one. Eek!

One more writing related bit of news before I go...

An email last night delivered some wonderful news (no, it's not novel related) but I'm under strict instructions not to make the news public until it's, well, been made public so I can't say any more.

Now all I have to do is get my Christmas tree down from the attic, buy a couple more presents, do a food shop and tidy up the flat.

And then I'll be ready for Christmas (easier said than done)

Monday, 10 December 2007

And here they are!


Thats a surprisingly sexy robert plant in the top left of the photo ;-)

Waiting for led Zeppelin to come on stage...


Any minute now!

Short Story Hit!

Hooray! My story was Commended in the Southport Writers short story competition. No money and no publication but my story was in the top 14 of 277 entries so that's an achievement in itself in my book. Very happy. And now I can chance the story in another competition.

Was struggling to get my third story written for the Eurofiction competition tonight but the hit news has buoyed me up...hopefully I'll finish it now!

Sunday, 9 December 2007

Thursday, 6 December 2007

Man Flu

You can tell I'm winding down for the year because my posts are becoming more about things I've discovered whilst surfing the net and less about writing!

Love this (s0, so true):

T-shirts for a fiver!

Hooray for internet shopping. I just bought two very funky T-shirts as Christmas presents for $10 (a fiver) each. I'm nothing if not cheap ;o).

Here's the site if you want to get some too: Threadless (the $10 a t-shirt sale lasts until 16th December)

and here are some of my favourite designs:







Saturday, 1 December 2007

My first 'novel' (and my first ever rejection)

Earlier on today I was scrabbling around under my bed sorting through all the crap priceless treasures I'd stored there when I discovered a brown envelope. It wasn't just any old brown envelope. Oh no, this enveloped contained a great unpublished masterpiece. A treasure no less! It was my very first book; written and illustrated by my eight year old hand, bound with pink wool... and rejected by Penguin Publishers (they sent a very nice letter but still, talk about starting earlier with the rejection letters!). And the title? Short, concise, to the point: Weedy.

Here, in all it's unedited glory (typos included), is my first ever novel:

Once upon a time at the bottom of a field lived four flowers, Tulip, Marigold, Rose and forget-me-not. One day when the four flowers were talking a stranger crept near and buried its roots in the ground. It watched the four flowers.

"Hey look over there," said Tulip pointing in the things direction. They all looked at the thing "What on earth are you"? said Marigold sneering "I", said the thing," am a weed"" "My name is Weedy."

"Ugh," a weed" said Marigold. "I don't want to be seen with a weed."

"Come on Marigold don't be horrible to Weedy", said Forget me-not.

"Weedy would like like to be friends with us?" said Rose

"No certainly not" said Weedy crossly. Then he shrugged his shoulders dropped his head and fell asleep.

"I don't think much of him," said Marigold.

"He snores aswell," said Rose.

"Maybe he will be nice in the morning," said Tulip. Then they all fell asleep.

The next morning came and Weedy was the first one awake "I'll get those flowers," he said to himself. He pulled his roots out of the ground and crept quietly over to Marigold and pull a petal out of her pretty head. The he walked up to the brook cupped his leaves and took some water in them and splashed it all over the flowers.

"Oh" said all the flowers as they quickley woke up

"Oh no" said Marigold almost in tears as she looked at her face in the mirror "Weedy you are a horrible plant I wish you had never come here" she said. Weedy laughed wickedly and crept off "We must try and get rid of him," said Marigold. "He is horrible" said Rose.

But the next morning it was even worse. Weedy made the ground that the flowers had been sleeping in all wet and muddy. Then he had smeared the poor flowers with mud. They were cross.

"We must stop him," said Forget me not.

"But how?" asked Marigold

"I think I have got an idea" exclaimed Tulip.

"Tomorrow we must all get up before Weedy," Rose told the flowers.

"Then we must get some tar from all the work men and put it around Weedy before he wakes up," said Tulip. Then they put their roots in the ground and they all fell asleep. Weedy smiled wickedly as he fell asleep but he did not know what was going to happen in the morning.

The next morning the flowers got up before Weedy and went to where the workmen were working and got some tar in a bucket made out of leaves. Then they spread the tar around Weedy and splashed him with water. Weedy woke up suddenly and looked aruond "Oh no please help me" he said and I will be your friend and will not play jokes on you

The flowers decided to help him out and pulled him out of the tar. From then on Weedy was never playing jokes on them but somtimes he was a little bit unkind. But they are all friends now.

The end.

Winding Down for 2007

There are only 31 days left in 2007 (including what's left of today). Good God. Where did the year go? The year is winding down and so am I. After lots of frantic novel editing, story writing and flashing (fiction) last month I've decided that December is going to be a much quieter affair.

I still have to write two short stories for Eurofiction before the year is up (one by 13th December and one by 27th December) but, other than that, I'm going to take it fairly easy.

I'm going to spend most of this month thinking and scribbling. All the advice I've read says that the best thing you can do when you've sent a novel to an agent is to get on with your next one and that's what I'm going to do. I've had an idea for my second novel for a while now but I really need to start thinking it through in more detail. I need to brainstorm it and scribble down every idea that comes into my head and then sketch out the plot and decide which POV I'm going to use - details that are all very much an unknown at the moment.

So, December = thinking month. January = writing month. A new novel, a new word counter, a new 'race'. Anyone else starting a new project in 2008?

The Girl In The Cafe Review

A couple of months ago I signed up to join the Girl in the Cafe tour which is a project set up by Ingrid to spread the word about the film The Girl in the Cafe (starring Billy Nighy and Kelly MacDonald and written by Richard Curtis). To join the tour you just sign up at the website and, in time, a copy of the film will be sent to you. You then watch it, review it on your blog if you have one and then send it on to the next person.

So, always a nosey mare, I signed up because I wanted to find out what was so special about the film Ingrid wanted everyone to watch.

I received it a little while ago (sorry Ingrid) and finally sat down to watch it tonight. I didn't know a huge deal about it before I put it on apart from the fact it was about a relationship and about the G8 summit. Huh? I thought. How can that work? If I'm 100% honest it doesn't work brilliantly. Nighy and MacDonald are excellent and the way they stumble around each other, both searching for a salve to their particular loneliness, is beautifully portrayed. They're an unlikely match on the surface and their awkwardness is palpable but you can't help but root for them.

That's one side of the film. The other side is the political message - the fact that, according to the film, Britain was pushing action on the Millennium Goal (to bring an end to world poverty) at the G8 summit in Reykjavik. The film was made in conjunction with the Make Poverty History campaign and you can tell that Richard Curtis did his best to introduce the issue with a subtle hand but there were several moments in the film where it felt shoe-horned in and clunky. I often felt like I was watching a publication information skit during a Live8 or Comic Relief event.

There were other moments when the interchange between MacDonald's character Gina and the Chancellor of the Exchequer and others later on in the film (I won't spoil it) felt heavily scripted rather than natural (and, I hate to admit, many of them were hugely cringeworthy). I did also wonder whether or not the British contingent would be quite so influenced by the opinion of one member of the public. Overall this wasn't a film you could lose yourself in because, as intriguing as the relationship between MacDonald and Nighy was, the political message was so overt it felt a little as though it was being flashed across the screen. (Thinking about it I'm sure that was point but I still felt it could have been done a little more subtly)

That said the film did redeem itself in the final scene between Gina and Lawrence (Nighy's character) and it was really quite touching.

The Girl in the Cafe attempted something big and brave and, while it might not rank in my top ten films ever, it did succeed in its mission to inform and enlighten. Whereas before, I'm ashamed to admit, I was largely ignorant about what the G8 summit was actually about, I am now somewhat enlightened. I was also very touched by the Nelson Mandella quote at the end of the film. In just two sentences it powerfully sums up the central message of the entire film.

If you'd like to sign up (for free) to see this film go along to Girl in the Cafe tour and send Ingrid an email.