Fruitful February

I love Writing Magazine. I get it on subscription and look forward to receiving my copy each month. As well as it being a really helpful tool for writers, there are opportunities to be published on the Letters page and the Subscribers’ Spotlight.

A few months ago I sent a piece into the mag about publishing my first paperback in my fairy series. To be honest I’d almost forgotten about it until a friend messaged me to say I had been featured in the March issue. What a lovely surprise.

On another tack, my fourth fairy book is currently with an author friend. It’s at second draft stage and I’m looking forward to getting some feedback on it, good or bad, so I can further polish it and have it ready for publication for kindle later in the year.

If you happened to read my January post, I mentioned I was thinking of starting a novel for adults. And yes, I have started it. There are only 6,000 words so far so I’ve a very long way to go. It’ll be in the category ‘women’s fiction’ and goodness knows when I will complete it.

I’ve hit upon the thorny issue of names – both for my characters, and even for my author’s name. Should I have a pen-name as I am writing in a different genre to my children’s books? Or, will that complicate matters? My main character’s name has changed three times already as the original name, Rachel, didn’t seem to suit how she looks.

Names can be very tricky, can’t they? Which brings me back neatly to Writing Magazine. In the same issue, Jane Wenham Jones answers a reader’s letter. The reader has written her second novel and has used the name of a close friend, much to the horror of said friend. Jane Wenham Jones tackles the subject well, discussing the possible libel and defamation implications. Right, I’m just off to change my character’s name again as I’ve just realised I have a friend with the same name. Oops!

New year, new decade, new ideas

Crikey. 2020? How did that happen? I feel like I’ve been in hibernation with the bad cold my husband kindly gave me after Christmas. And, there’s been a certain amount of brain-fog, so 2020 hasn’t got off to a great start in terms of writing.

I did manage to pen a short story and post it off and have been working on the second draft of my latest children’s novel It’s Time to Fly that was my project for NaNoWriMo in November.

I’ve been thinking about my writing and other plans for this year and so I checked my blog from January last year wondering if I had achieved what I set out to do then. It included: ‘publish my first children’s novel in paperback, attend some writing events, write lots more short stories for both adults and children, start writing a children’s picture book, brush up my social media skills, travel a bit for inspiration, plus catch up with some old friends I haven’t seen for a while’.

Happily I managed most of the above, so what about for 2020? I would like to publish the children’s book I am currently working on via Amazon Kindle as well as book two in this fairy series as a paperback. I’ve done first drafts of three children’s picture books and would like to try to progress at least one of these and, I’ve had an idea for an adult novel and would like to start writing that. I’ll try to enter a few competitions, attend some writing events and workshops, travel a bit when I can and do more meet-ups with old friends. So this year’s aims are similar to last year’s.

As well as the afore-mentioned, though, recently I have been more and more affected by the news on the environment and global warming. Whilst I have always tried to do ‘my bit’ I am increasing my efforts to recycle and reuse more, cut down on plastic usage, and eat more sustainably. I have pledged not to buy any new clothes in 2020. There are plenty of clothes already in my wardrobe and, if I do need anything, I will buy it secondhand from charity shops or online sites. It won’t be easy, but I’m determined it can be done.

How are your resolutions looking? Good luck to everyone and I hope 2020 proves to be a great year, despite all the doom and gloom we’ve been hearing in the media recently.

A novel November

There was a lot going on in November. I was doing NaNoWriMo again, but my own shortened version, like last year, when I was aiming to write a 15,000-word children’s novel.

I’m pleased to say I managed it by the skin of my teeth on the last day. How people manage to write 50,000 words in the month is beyond me, but they do. Anyway the novel is the fourth, and probably last, in my fairy series of books. It’s working title is ‘It’s Time To Fly’ but now it has been put to one side to settle, before I pick it up and start working on the edits in the new year.

I got away from the desk to attend the first-ever Blandford Literary Festival. What a delightful event it was. I joined other writers at the Corn Exchange for the Dorset Writers’ Network Open Day, and in the above photo you can see me selling my children’s paperbacks. It was great to meet with the other writers, several of whom I know through the network and also twitter. I was fascinated by a talk given by Kathy Sharp on creating handmade books.

In the photo you might also spot my knitted fairy. I created her to show what an unusual fairy Fiona is who pops up in my books. Here’s a close up. Apart from writing, one of my other passions is crafting through knitting and crochet, which I find really relaxing.

In November I also heard that my paperback is now on the Dorset Libraries catalogue. I was delighted as libraries are so important and enrich our lives in so many ways.

I hope you had a productive November, too, and as we are now in December I would like to wish everyone a very happy seasonal break, however you choose to celebrate.

FINDING THE MUSE

Like many other writers, some days I find it is more difficult to get the words down than others. Some days I get distracted very easily by chores, the garden or social media, and each word I put down is a struggle.

On other days, I start writing and the words just pour out and I am ‘in the zone’ as they say. When it is difficult, I find going for a walk helps, or meeting up with other writers for a chinwag.

But the best cure of all is a holiday. My other half and I went to the Isle of Wight for a few days last week. The weather was changeable to say the least but spending time looking at the sea, beautiful gardens, green hills and fields was inspiring. My motivation or muse returned and I couldn’t wait to get home and start writing again. What inspires you when the words won’t come?DSCN1489

The photo I have included is of Freshwater on a blustery day. The waves were spectacular. I feel a sea story coming …

AUGUST – A MONTH OF UPS AND DOWNS

It’s been a strange month. In early August I heard I had been longlisted for the Yeovil Literary Prize in the ‘Writing Without Restriction’ category. This was a lovely surprise and cheered me up when the weather decided to go all unseasonal and we had a lot of rain. Thankfully it has improved now.

Another high point was a few days back when I received my author copies of my first paperback children’s novel from Amazon. I’d sweated over getting this done via Amazon KDP, which is usually, I am sure, a brilliant way to self-publish a paperback with virtually no cost to the author. However, I am not the most technically minded person, and because it was a children’s book with larger print and a couple of illustrations, it took me 11 attempts to get it to format correctly. But I persevered and was finally rewarded for my efforts. It felt wonderful to receive my parcel of books. Magic in the Attic is my first children’s novel, there are two more, currently on Kindle.

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This week has proved to be a bit of a low point. First the bank holiday has thrown me out of sync, so for some reason I keep thinking I am a day ahead. The holiday traffic near to where I live has been horrendous and I have been stuck in several long traffic jams. But Wednesday was the worst day. It started with me putting toothpaste in my eye (don’t ask!) in a senior moment. Heading out, I joined a very busy road and then my car packed up on the journey to see my elderly mum. I managed to reach my destination, somehow, but our plans to go out shopping and for a nice lunch were cancelled. Instead I had to wait for the AA man and then go home again without the shopping, or lunch.

My car has developed a mysterious fault which seems only to occur once per year when the weather is hot and it’s the school holidays. Exactly the same thing happened in July last year. The AA chap did a good job of getting me going again and I made it back (through another horrible traffic jam). Don’t tell my car but I think its days are numbered. I don’t want that happening again, even if it is only once per year!

Tomorrow is the last day of August and then, I guess, it will be back to some sort of normality next week with the holidaymakers returning from whence they came and the children going back to school. I hope a few of them will be reading my paperback as well!

 

Not a one-trick pony

Please indulge me if I say I am proud of myself this week. It doesn’t happen very often. I’m sure we writers are often too critical of ourselves, and compare our achievements against others’.

I’m celebrating the fact that I have just published my third e-book in my children’s fairy series on Amazon. It’s titled Magic with Mr Marvellous and until this coming Sunday it’s on free promotion if you would like to download it. Here’s the link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07V9H18CV/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=Magic+with+Mr+Marvellous&qid=1563259800&s=gateway&sr=8-1

It took so many years to publish the first, Magic in the Attic, about a year to publish the second, Who Let the Cat Out? and eight months to complete this one – so I am getting quicker. But I’m most proud of the fact that I don’t just have one book in me, and that I’m already thinking about the next. The latest novel was started in #NaNoWriMo last year.

I write because I can’t not write. I’m not seeking huge fame and fortune but I hope children, and indeed adults, will enjoy my traditional-feel stories and that they will make readers smile.

magicwithmrmarvellous

Anthologies

Last evening I attended an event in Lymington, in the New Forest area of Hampshire, near to where I was brought up. It was for the announcement of winners for the Lymington Writers’ Competition.

I had entered the competition myself and was pleased to be shortlisted in the Open Short Story category. There were also Flash Fiction and Under 18 categories. The theme for the competition was ‘Community’. I wasn’t disappointed not to win. The winning and worthy short story was Edna’s Guardian Angel written by Mike Watkins, and the Flash and Under 18 categories were won by Emily Prince and Lorna McLaughlin respectively.

The shortlisted stories are to be put into a book to raise funds for the Lymington Centre where the awards were held. This is a well-used community centre in need of a little updating. When publication happens, it will be the second anthology one of my stories has appeared in. The other is This Little World published by the Dorset Writers’ Network.

For a writer, to appear in one of these anthologies is a boost to the writing CV and also to one’s confidence. Be careful, though, that you are not asked to pay for the privilege of appearing in one.

I have just finished reading a great anthology called Dorset Shorts, comprising the winning entries from the Dorset Writers’ Prize from a couple of years ago. It was recently published by Little Red Writers and has some fantastic stories in it. This was another competition I entered but sadly I wasn’t to be shortlisted that time.

You win some, you lose some. Happy writing to my fellow authors.

A sneak peek

I’m currently working on my third book in the children’s series about a young girl called Lucy and Fiona Fairy.

But as I work on what I hope will be the last edits, I thought I would let you see the cover, designed by Fran Waterkeyn, my daughter. I love it. I hope you do too.

magicwithmrmarvellous

I am aiming at publication this summer as an e-book, so I’d better get back to the editing!

From there to here

I’ve had to write a bio for something I’m working on and it’s made me consider how I got into this writing lark in the first place.

Like many other people, I became interested in writing creatively at school and seemed to excel at it. I had a very encouraging teacher, which helped. I was also a very keen reader as a child – I would read anything and everything I could get my hands on; even the cereal packets at the breakfast table.

But I didn’t get into writing for a living in the conventional way. Actually, I never seem to do things in the normal way! Most people these days take their A’levels in the sixth form and go onto Uni; studying English, or Creative Writing, or Media Studies or something relevant. Instead, I did a business studies course, started working at 16 and a half in a variety of jobs and studied English A’level at night school. Some years later I enrolled on one of the writing correspondence courses of the type you see advertised in magazines, so for a couple of years I was doing assignments with my tutor on short stories, articles, life writing and more. At that time I found I was better at the non-fiction pieces and started writing for a church magazine and speculatively for a couple of local publications.

Not long after, I was working for a local community magazine as a reporter and editorial assistant, progressing to Editor which was more of a case of being in the right place at the right time I guess. Since then, I have been a writer and editor for a number of publications and organisations, as well as a freelance copywriter, PR consultant and editor, whilst also cutting my teeth as a children’s author and short story writer. My writing career has spanned 25 years and I have earned a good living through writing/editing everything from adverts and press releases through to features and website copy.

More recently, I have concentrated on writing fiction; so far it hasn’t been nearly as succesful or lucrative but I’m working on it.

I’m hoping that my unusual introduction to a writing career will inspire others. Yes, of course it would have been easier to do that degree at the beginning of my career but, I’ve trained and learned as I have gone along and had a rich and varied life to draw upon for subject matter. The most important thing I have learned is that if you really want something, you must have self belief that it can happen.

Hello January

I realise I am a bit late to the party, with most writers having already done their writing resolutions, but I have been considering my aims and plans for this year.

I have been finding getting back into the writing particularly difficult this month. It is possibly because I gave myself a whole week off around Christmas, which must be a first, as previously I always had a number of writing projects on the go and used to be up against a lot of deadlines. Since I gave up the business of writing and editing for others to concentrate on fiction, there hasn’t been such a sense of urgency. So far this month, I have managed to submit a piece to be considered for an anthology, have entered one writing competition and have done a bit of work on my third novel, but that’s it. I suffer a bit from SAD syndrome this time of year so I have to push myself, otherwise I might easily go into hibernation until the weather is warmer.

But my plans for this year include trying to publish my first children’s novel in paperback, attend some writing events, write lots more short stories for both adults and children, start writing a children’s picture book, brush up my social media skills, travel a bit for inspiration, plus catch up with some old friends I haven’t seen for a while.

Good luck to everyone with their resolutions, and please feel free to ask me how mine are going and give me a shove!