Thursday, 22 October 2009

Yes I know I should be working or writing but...

The Guardian Book Blog is just too distracting and it was from there that I pinched this:

42 Essential Third Act Twists

I especially like 'Reverse Robot Reveal' and 'Dark Lord Reasonable'

Wonder if I'd get away with either of them in my act three...

Monday, 19 October 2009

My first ever book review

Apologies for the blog gap, all the usual excuses, plus I have been busy reading this

If there's anyone left out there who isn't aware of this new novel by the very talented Cally Taylor, then listen ye - its fab!

I'm not too hot on book reviews, in fact I've never written one before. I have that problem with non-fiction generally (except my blog but then I'm JG not SD so it's OK). And indeed my contributions to my monthly book club meet-ups are usually along the lines of "Sorry I didn't get round to reading it", "Yeah, it was good, erm yeah, I especially liked the bit, you know..." and "These crisps are great!" But here goes:

I read a whole lot of stuff across all sorts of genres (except horror cos I'm a scaredy cat) but this is my first 'supernatural chick-lit' and - I loved it. What makes it so good? - (I mean apart from the fact that I just bloomin' well enjoyed reading it and was torn between wanting to get to the end and not wanting it to finish).

OK, totally real main character. Lucy is someone I know, I mean she must be cos I feel I know her so well, she's 100% believable and rounded which is not a bad feat considering that she's dead. The supporting cast are fabulous too, all with enough personality for you to want to get to known them better (even smelly Brian). The premise of a 'wannabe ghost' (in fact a whole house full of the) is brilliant and the plot unfolds in a way that keeps you wanting to stick by Lucy through everything that the afterlife throws at her. The pace is page-turning and the dialogue and observation, witty and clever. Erm, what else - oh yes - wonderful ending, and I don't just mean the last very satisfying couple of pages but all the twists and turns that build up to it.

Yes Cally is a blog friend (and I've even once met her in the flesh!) but that wouldn't be enough for me to praise her novel, or to buy multiple copies for family and friends this Christmas (including hopefully one in Spanish - it's been translated into at least seven languages already) - but that is what I am doing.

So go and hound your local bookseller for it. It's already waiting for you in Waterstones and Borders and it's hit the charts at WHSmith. It's also flying into baskets like hot buttered scones over at Amazon. Look I've even provided the link

Thursday, 8 October 2009

No News Good News?

Last week I finally got round to sending a polite email to the agent who has had the full ms of my novel for the last five months.

It took me so long 'cos, hey guess what, I couldn't find the right words. I didn't want to sound too pushy or desperate but I also wanted to make it clear that I really would like to know how my novel was doing. I got a prompt reply from her assistant saying that the agent was 'still reading it'. Hope that's not a euphemism for "Manuscript? What bloomin' manuscript? Oh you mean the one we've been using to prop up the wobbly desk."

As a student years ago I had the privilege of entering the den of the editor-in-chief of a major publishing house. He showed me his enormous slush pile (no, that's not a euphemism). It was a-teetering and a-tottering in the corner of his book-lined room. He told me that he was unlikely to find anything publishable in it and didn't look too happy at the prospect of having to wade through it. I hoped for his sake and for at least one wannabe writer that there might be a gem hidden in there.

I would love to know if my offering is in a corner of an office near the pinnacle of a wobbly tower still waiting to be read or whether it is already well-thumbed and lying on the agent's bedside table. Or whether at this very moment her assistant is putting it into a return envelope.

I must be patient.

Meanwhile have done lots of planning for novel 3 which I'm thoroughly enjoying. I said yes to a major work project yesterday which probably scuppers my chances of doing NaNoWriMo, but at least thinking about that has made me make a start. So current writing plan - Be Patient and Write novels 2 & 3 simultaneously (or at least on alternate days).

On the non-writing front - I have started going to a weekly sewing class and in typical fashion have decided that I don't want to spend weeks and weeks making bags and cushion covers (as generally recommended for beginners ) but have embarked on this:

Have so far reached the point where I have all my pieces cut out (from lovely shimmery but unslippery wine red satiny fabric) and tomorrow will begin the 'pinning it together' and maybe even some actual sewing! Hope to have it finished by Christmas (tho' there's a possibility that I may end up going 'oh bugger it' and turning it into a bag and a couple of cushions after all)

Tuesday, 22 September 2009


I'm seriously thinking of doing it. A novel in a month. In previous years I have been ever so impressed when fellow bloggers have gone for it (and succeeded!) but I have also, I must confess, thought they must surely be a little bit mad. But this year I get it. Or at least I get why I should give it a go.

Novel #1 is still with an agent, novel #2 is, hmm, well not exactly simmering - the gas is on but I haven't chopped up half the ingredients yet and I can't find the oil. Meanwhile a slightly bizarre novel idea (in fact idea for a series of novels) has popped into my head - crime mysteries set in a world that I'm very familiar with. I think it could be fun but I'm not convinced I want to shelve #2 and spend a year of early mornings working at this new idea only to discover that actually it was a bit daft.

Sooo NaNoWriMo - I splurge it out over a month - 2,000 words a day. I like a challenge, deadlines etc and I think this one (hey lets call it novel #3) is the kind of project that will benefit from having its first draft written that way. Could be dreadful of course, but then if it is at least I will have got it out of my head so I can focus on the burning onions in novel #2

Tuesday, 15 September 2009


By my new writing class. It's run by Stephen May, author of the indispensible Teach Yourself Creative Writing and the award winning novel TAG (Both great books and I'm not just saying that cos I know him :o)). Who fortunately for me and other local wannabe writers just lives down the road.

I wasn't sure what to expect, having been to several writing classes/groups over the last couple of years but I got back home last night buzzing and full of ideas. Stephen didn't waste a minute of the hour and a half and had us doing lots of fantastic writing exercises that all cunningly linked together and really worked. I found voices and characters I'd never imagined I had in me and came away with three pieces of writing that I'm sure will lead on to something more. The other people in the class were equally impressed - even /especially the woman who said she had never had to work so hard at writing in her life.

For anyone in the area who is interested in coming along the sessions are at Hebden Bridge Library on a Monday and Thursday evening 6-7.30.

Now I'm going to go and introduce my favourite new character from last night to the motley crew that are assembing for my Murder Mystery.

Sunday, 13 September 2009


To blogging that is, rather than yet another post about my sciatica. I'm feeling much better and can now sit comfortably at my desk for a decent period of time (so long as I keep a good posture and get up and walk round a bit every now and then), so I really have no excuse.

Also a return to writing as after a bit of a break I'm raring to go with lots of enthusiasm for the new novel and also, unexpectedly, an idea for a murder mystery series that just won't go away.

All good unless of course I start procrastinating and following distractions such as those offered in this Guardian blog post which points to the rather wonderful 'Weird Book Room' at Abe Books. I really must not buy The Great Pantyhose Crafts Book or The Lost Art of Towel Origami, but how can I get through life without How to Avoid Big Ships or The Stray Shopping Carts of Eastern North America ?

Happy Browsing!

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Out of Bed

Hurrah no more back pain posts - for now. On Saurday I decided I'd had enough of lying around and made my first attempts to hobble up and down the street. On my fourth attempt, accompanied by hubby and daughter, I made it to the rather splendid pub at the end. So chuffed by my progress that I had a large glass of wine despite the 'avoid alcohol' warning on my meds. Felt a bit stiff on Sunday but continued with hobbling and this time made it to the swimming baths. Felt just like the Little Mermaid, in agony on land but pain free and full of energy in the water.

So life pretty much back to normal now but at a slightly slower pace and accompanied by a walking stick (which hubby a bit perturbed by - think it ages me a bit!). All systems go now for camping trip to France starting tomorrow. So no more blogging for a couple of weeks but hopefully lots of writing in between the swimming, cycling and sightseeing.

Happy Summer everyone!

Friday, 24 July 2009


Aren't they great. I've felt so lucky this week to receive so many visits, phone calls and emails. My bedroom is quite tiny but its been lovely having it filled wih friends, and quite often their children too, bearing cards, flowers , chocolates and magazines. I also received an unexpected but very lovely email from a fellow Saffer which really cheered me. My favourite gift so far has been a cafetiere mug - so the daughter can now safely make me coffee as well as tea! She has been a complete and utter star through all this and we have had some serious talks about all the children out there who are full time carers for their parents. Fortunately of course this situation is only going to be temporary so she can give up her nursing duties soon. This morning I joked that this was good practice for when I'm old and she replied "When you're old I'm putting you in a home!" Methinks she's had enough of the caring lark.

Fortunately another lovely friend has whisked her off to play at her house for the afternoon so she can enjoy just being a nine year old girl again.

I think she was quite traumatized yesterday. I forgot to take my pill cocktail at lunch time and over did things a bit, ie went downstairs a couple of times. Result was me curled up on floor in tears in complete agony unable to get into a position that didn't make my body scream with pain. The daughter called 999 and a lovely paramedic arrived almost immediately. He was able to make me comfortable and calmed both of us down, but I felt so sorry for my little one. Hubby came home from work and took her out for a walk and she seemed quite happy when they got back.
So I'm especially pleased that she is off having fun this afternoon although she did make me double promise to take all my pills and not get out of bed unless I really have to.

Oh dear I fear I am becoming a back pain bore. Will blog about something writerly soon I promise. Have managed some novel writing in between friend/paramedic visits and still feeling excited and daunted by it, which I think is a good combination

Wednesday, 22 July 2009


Guess who's spending too much time lying in bed with nothing but her netbook for company? Anyway in between reading blogs, playing spider solitaire and of course writing novel 2 I rediscovered my favourite anagram solver site.

I used it for a quiz show that I worked on recently that had an anagram round. Mindless but titillating fun to be had finding anagrams of names and places etc. As an anagram I can be Red Sauna Hanky or A Naked Ashy Urn.

Below are some of my favourite anagrams that I came across while doing the show

1. A two word phrase that has the following anagrams:

Antarctic Clever Toy
Cancel Victory Treat
Carnal Corvette City
Tartan Tricycle Cove
Recontact Rectal Ivy

(Clue - CAR)

2. A classic 1930s film
Entwined Thigh Ow
Hot Whining Tweed

3. What I'm too fond of
Sir Top Carnation
Nip Or Castration

Answers if you haven't worked them out at

Has any one got any particularly amusing name anagrams? Hubby's is Brisk Horny Toot!

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

No change

Hmmm Doc's prediction that I would be on my feet again in a couple of days hasn't come true. Still flat on my back,can't sit up and in pain if I move at all. I have an impressive pile of drugs by my bedside now - most of which just send me to sleep. Have postponed holiday to France which has taken some of pressure off as I now have a whole week to get better instead of just 24 hours.

Family, friends and bloggers/facebookers have been fantastic. Hubby brought home a take out Thai meal for tea last night, daughter made me a splendid breakfast and lunch today and a friend popped round with a cappuccino from my favourite cafe. I've had some lovely online well wishing (inc my brother who reckons this is my cunning plan to avoid swine flu) I also had a couple of lovely emails from work saying that although the show didn't fall apart in my absence on Friday I was defintely missed. So still feeling pretty lucky and not too sorry for myself.

Intended to do some writing yesterday but drugs sent me to sleep. Today will try writing and then take sleep inducing medication.

Weird thing happened yesterday actually. Daughter was out with friends in the afternoon so I was on my own. Front dooor was unlocked because I was expecting visit from doctor later. I needed the loo so went through my regular routine of crawling to bathroom on hands and knees, then had a lie down on the floor to recover for a few minutes before crawling back to bed and lay there silently screaming (ow ow ow). Then I heard a noise downstairs, a thump followed by a sort of metallic ring. It was too early for doc and hubby and daughter not due back for hours. I called out "Who is it?" in a big brave voice and then shouted my husband's name. No reply.

I was convinced there was someone down there. So - I got out of bed and walked down the stairs to the first floor. There was no-one there. I then walked down to the kitchen on the ground floor. The front door was closed and there was nobody there. I then sat down on the sofa in total shock at what I had just managed to do. Not wanting to be stuck downstairs in my nighty I seized the moment, headed back up the two flights of stairs and collapsed back on my bed.

Cured? Nope. I haven't been able to manage it again and am back to lying flat in bed and only managing to crawl when I get out of it. Hubby reckons it was adrenaline, like when people lift heavy objects off themsleves or others in an emergency. Isn't biology / physiology amazing?

OK going to do some novel writing now, got to make the most of all this free time!

Saturday, 18 July 2009

A change of plan

When I woke up yesterday morning I had the full day ahead mapped out. Get up, shower and dress, cycle to station, read Robert Harris on train, spend a busy day in studios recording five episodes of the quiz show I'm working on at the moment, finish about 8.30, have a couple of beers with the rest of the production team then go home to Hubby, a whisky and bed. However my body decided to scrap that plan.

I got up. Instantly excruciating pain shot down one side of my body, my vision tunnelled, my head started fizzing and I collapsed on the floor. Fortunately Hubby was on the case, realised I'd fainted and raised my legs and let the blood return to my head. Getting back into bed made me cry in agony. My lower back and left leg were shot with stabs and cramps of pain.

All the worse case scenarios went through both our heads but fortunately my lap top was to hand and after a quick google we diagnosed sciatica. An advice call from a doctor afterwards confirmed it. Basically it's a trapped nerve at the base of my spine - but a particularly long nerve right down my leg. So yesterday, and so far today, have been spent lying flat on my back taking a carefully rota-ed selection of painkillers, one of which I didn't know was even legal. I'm OK as long as I stay in one very flat position. Eating is dificult, typing tricky and I won't traumatise you with details of how I manage to go to the loo.

The doc seems pretty certain that I should be on my feet again by tomorrow and then I will need some physiotherapy to try to prevent such a horrible attack again. Sciatica has numerous causes but I'm pretty certain that the hours I spend sitting badly in front of my computer have been a major contributor. Doc called it a wake up call and it's certainly been that. Better posture and more exercise are on my post recovery to do list.

Its certainly made me appreciate simple things like just going for a walk or pottering in the garden, or having a shower - all of which I am desperate to do again. Fortunately I have a lovely view of the garden from my bed and the nodding roses and buddleia have been cheering sights. I have also done lots of reading - Robert Harris The Ghost, Sara Paretsky Bitter Medicine and Julie Myerson Out of Breath. Might even get some writing done this afternoon if I can get past the doze inducing effects of my drug cocktail.

Hubby and daughter have been fab - bringing me food and tea and things to read. Daughter made me a card and some yummy fudge and took a photo of downstairs to remind me what it looks like. Even the cat has been sending me sympathetic looks from the end of the bed. I feel very lucky, and when I'm back on my feet again will hopefully be able to use this experience in a positive way.

Edited to add: It's now Monday morning and I'm still in pain and still in bed. Grrr. Trying to stay positive despite having to postpone family holiday in France. Am going to spend this afternoon writing and not feeling sorry for myself.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Poetic transference

Me and Poetry. Bit of a disappointment. I love reading it and hearing it. It has made me laugh and cry and blush and once (thank you Rosie Lugosi) choke on a drink. But I can't write it for toffee.

Everytime I've felt stirred to give it a go I have produced little beyond adolescent mush (not that I'm criticising adolescent mush when written by adolescents, but when written by a woman of 40, it's just crap).

But things may be about to change. Last night Carol Ann Duffy (aka Poet Laureate aka Fab Poet) made an appearance at our local Arts Festival. She read from The World's Wife and other such luscious volumes and all the while she rested her books, and her finger tips, and at one point her arm, on - my daughter's music stand!

(The venue was lacking a lectern of any sort and at the last minute the music stand was called into action.)

Afterwards Carol Ann thanked me profusely and signed a copy of her book with some lovely words of thanks to The Daughter (who was the chuffedest 9 year old in the school at 'show and tell' this morning)

So. The plan is to stand at the, erm, stand and wait for the muse to land on my shoulders. Will I feel vibrations, a resonance? Or just a complete prat?

Only the poetry will tell.

Friday, 26 June 2009

Back to Life and Blogging

Phew, tis over. A 13 week contract that sounded like a bit of a doddle way back in March but which ended up taking over my working life and giving me some very bizarre dreams. I feel like I suddenly have an extra three hours in my day and can finally get back on track, especially with my writing.

No news yet from The Agent but I have been reliable informed that up to three months is a normal wait time so I am trying to be patient and not going all dry throated and choky when the phone rings in the middle of the afternoon.

Had lovely time last night at the Calderdale Short Story competition prize-giving evening. There were 430 entrants and mine was one of the 30 shortlisted so I was pretty chuffed. The three winners read from their stories and they were all excellent, especially the winning story which I hope ends up being published somewhere as I want to be able to recommend it to people to read. The judges were the writer Jane Rogers and the publisher Ra Page (of Comma Press). They both talked about what they look for in a good short story and it was really useful and inspiring. I managed to talk to both of them afterwards too, over wine and nibbles.

Our local Arts festival is about to start and there are lots of literary delights on offer. I have a ticket to see Carol Ann Duffy and also for a talk by Katie Fforde and Eleanor Moran. There is also an opportunity for a 'literary lunch' with Katie and Eleanor which could be fun.

Next week I'm going to a 'Writer's Roadshow' - a full day of workshops, forums, readings and 'meet the authors'. As part of the day I get a 'one-to-one' hour with the author Mark Illis. I have to send him some of my work in advance and then we will discuss it. It's a great opportunity, but I'm a bit nervous. I know Mark as our daughters go to school together and the thought of him reading my novel is a bit daunting (number of people who have read any of it so far is still very small). But I love his writing (just finished Tender which I can highly recommend) so his comments and criticism will be very valued.

But before all that there is a weekend of costume fittings, dress rehearsals and performances - not for me but The Daughter who is in both a dance show and a play. And I also only have two days to get my oufit ready for the DIY fashion show in town, which is also part of the festival. I have a dress in many pieces and several lengths of ribbon. Now I just need to get sewing.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009


In the middle of a tidal wave of work deadlines and after one of my worst workdays ever I was stopped in my tracks this morning by... a request for a full manuscript of my novel! And it was from an actual agent, not my mum or anyone :o)

Totally over-excited now and completely unable to concentrate on the finer points of Renaissance Art wot I am meant to be researching.

Yippee - it is only a tiny fairy footstep but at least it's in the right direction

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Delusions of glamour

Every now and then in Italy I get a flash of La Dolce Vita, those moments when I suddenly feel as though I'm on the set of a classy film and something wonderfully romantic is about to happen. There was a drive along the coast last year, when everyone we passed seemed impossibly glamourous and carefree (and were they really all driving sports cars and wearing big hats?(maybe I'd had too much sun)). Anyway it happened again this week in the Garzoni Gardens near Collodi.

The gardens adjoin the Parco Pinocchio and our 'Biglietto Unico' admitted us to both. For the benefit of the daughter we headed for Pinocchio Land first. As theme parks go it is fairly tame, but the daughter loved it and there are some lovely sculptures and mosiacs telling the story of Pinocchio (although I suddenly realised I only knew the Disney version and felt a bit lost). There were pointed hatted grinning Pinnochio's everywhere including a giant 16m high one one that towered above us watching our every move.

After becoming pinnochioed out and foolishly eating our picnic in the midday sun (it's true what they say about Mad Dogs etc) we headed for the tranquility of the Garzoni Gardens.

They were designed in the 16th century and are heavy on marble sculpture, sweeping staircases and hidden corners. It was a beautiful blue sky day, which set it all off perfectly. It has been used as a film set and backdrop lots of times and I confess, in my vintage '50s sundress and big shades I had a Dolce Vita moment. I leaned against balustrades and gazed wistfully up at the muscled marbled gods on display while the daughter and Hubby reclined under the orange trees. Just think Gregory Peck, Audrey Hepburn and a young Judy Garland ;o).

Sadly it was the one day so far that we forgot our camera so instead of pictures of a pasty English family looking a bit sundazed and confused, and wearing considerably less clothing than any of the be-coated and be-mused Italians, I thought I'd share this with you instead (this is what it looked like in my head!)

In lieu of photographs I bought lots of postcards including the above and this one of some rather scary looking Spanish ballet dancers

The above pasted above my computer today has kept me jolly as I'm not feeling quite so be-glamoured anymore. Hubby and daughter flew back to England yesterday so now it's just me and the dog. And they even took the sunshine with them! Apparently they were frolicking naked on the allotment this afternoon (or maybe that was just the daughter) while here the skies have been an Eeyorish grey and threatening rain. Still I've got loads of writing done and have a whole week of only dogwalking and writing to come, so I can hardly complain.

Monday, 13 April 2009

Buona Pasqua!

Easter Monday is picnic time in this part of Tuscany.

Like everyone else we headed for the hills this lunchtime with a basket of goodies, which included, amongst the bread and cheese and tomatoes, an enormous panettone in the shape of a dove. Our destination was a large meadow, which when we last saw it was being used as a football pitch by a bevy(?) of nuns (sorry not sure of the correct collective noun). Today it was blanketed with picnickers including families with dogs and footballs and teenagers with sound systems. All a bit mad and loud but good fun.

Afterwards we stopped at a small mountain village intrigued by posters announcing a 'Sagra da Ouvo Sodo' - a Festival of Hard-Boiled Eggs. In the centre of the village, surrounded by stalls selling pecorino cheese, handcarved crucifixes and assorted funghi, the local priest blessed several large boxes of hard-boiled eggs. The eggs were then handed out to everyone in the crowd in individual paper bags each containing a pinch of salt . As everyone munched away a saxophone-harmonica duo struck up a tune and couples began dancing. As we watched we were approached by a clown who presented the daughter with a beautiful flower twisted from balloons.

As we were leaving I spotted a wool stall with a half price sale, and bought lots of gorgeous boucle wool (completely forgetting that a. I have no knitting needles with me and b. I would have to squeeze it all into my suitcase (along with the bottles of limoncello already stashed there)).

We've been invited out to pizza tonight at the 'Circolo' in a neighbouring village. It is basically a social club that everyone in the village contributes to annually, and which, in this case, has a pizzeria, bar, gelateria and dance hall - and also apparently serves up some wicked grappa! What more could you want? More and more of the local small bars seem to be closing, so the Circola seems like a good way of maintaining a social centre in a village.

Just like the Hard-Boiled Egg festival reminded me of our local summer fair, the Circola reminds me of the bowling club in a village near home which hosts various community events from Belly Dancing evenings to Whisky Tastings - not at all glamorous but providing a much needed gathering point for the community

West Yorkshire and Tuscany not so very different after all - except of course for the sunshine :o)

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Friday, 3 April 2009

It’s a dirty job but...

So, you know how I was moaning a while back about being snowed under with work, not having any time off blah blah. Well I may have forgotten to mention that I had a little reward planned for myself. Another job, of sorts, but ever so slightly less arduous. I’m dog-sitting in Tuscany. Well someone had to do it! And no-one else offered (although it may have slipped my mind to widely advertise the vacancy).

So here I am or rather here we are. The daughter and I have been out here for a week so far and it’s been gorgeous. We’re in a small village clustered on a hilltop looking across wooded valleys to several other similarly huddled collections of pan-tiled roofs and precipitous walls.

We’re having lots of lovely long walks in the woods, olives and cheese on the terrace and a daily ice-cream. We also seem to have the dogsitting bit sorted. We walk her (Eilidh, a sweet-eyed collie who thinks cars are sheep) a couple of times a day, water and feed her, play ‘Where’s the bone?’ and give lots of cuddles (the daughter’s particulalrly good at this). So far have succeeded in not losing her on aforementioned long walks, have remembered to save her some pizza crusts and stopped her eating next door’s cat. In return she has honoured us with choosing to sleep in our room and snore softly.

Hubby is joining us over Easter and then later I’m going to be here all on my ownsome for a week. Hoping to get lots of writing done, especially in that final week, but so far have been a bit distracted by scenery, ice cream and vino.

Our neighbours are lovely (and quickly forgave the near cat-eating episode). They don’t appear to mind my creaky attempts at Italian conversation (mainly lots of nouns strung together with smiles and ‘Si, si’). I lived out here for a year a while ago and was pretty fluent but most of it seems to have deserted me and I have left my trusty phrase book behind in England. I’m hoping that my fluency will start to return over the next couple of weeks as the neighbours do seem very keen to chat (hope they’ve not been trying to tell me anything really important).

Looking forward to tomorrow as it’s market day in the nearby town and I get really excited by the piles of fresh fruit and vegetables and the lovely shoes. Will also need to stock up on Tam Tams – little spongey chocolatey cake things to which the daughter and I are now addicted.

My internet connection seems a bit temperamental but I’m really enjoying catching up on blogs and news in the evenings when I can (and when I’m not being further distracted by the extensive DVD collection in this house – think I’ll have a bit of The Mighty Boosh tonight.)

Eilidh is now licking my leg – either she loves me or needs to go outside for a wee. I quite like our late night mini-walks – the view is very sparkly at night as all the other little hilltop villages are lit up like Christmas trees. Just hope next door's cat isn’t lurking behind a wall.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Faffing and footling (ahem I mean editing, of course)

Hmm cold pizza for breakfast. An odd start to the day. But it was in the fridge when I was fetching milk for my cereal, and so I ate it. Just realised it was supposed to be my lunch, but I suppose I could always have coco pops instead.

Still twiddling with my novel while awaiting a request for a full ms / compliments slip saying ‘No Thanks’(delete as appropriate / most likely)

Have discovered a couple more glaring inconsistencies - a house by the sea in ch 2 is ten miles from the beach in ch. 16. An intriguing subplot involving an old recipe book raised in ch.3 is never mentioned again. Oh and a boy called Sam becomes Adam. How could I have not spotted these before? Anyway, they are righted now. I have also done a find and replaced of ‘giggle’ after my reader (Hubby) said he didn’t see my MC as the giggling sort, (more of a chortler with a couple of hearty guffaws perhaps),
yet she was constantly doing it.

Will there ever come a point when I’m done fiddling? Even if and when I send off a full manuscript to an agent I imagine I will continue faffing and footling in anticipation of their response. In the end think I will need a big lockable box to put it away in so I can leave it be for a while and start on novel #2

Friday, 13 March 2009

Anyone still there?

Wouldn't be surprised of you'd all given up and wandered off elsewhere by now. Anyway if anyone is still out there - I'm Back. Frazzled , dazed and requiring an 'I must never do anything like that again' sticker on my forehead, but back nonetheless.

I'll spare you the details (I've saved them for hubby dearest and my coffee morning friends who keep promising me I'm not boring them, honest). But basically I've been working too much and playing too little. Culmination was two weeks underground (well in a TV studio gallery with no natural light which amounts to the same thing in my limited experience) for hours on end with about ten zillion quiz questions flying past me as I shouted: "Correct!" "Wrong" "Erm, give me a minute on that one".

'Tis all done and dusted now though and I'm back to normal (Ha!).

In amongst the madness I have passed a major milestone in my writing career - on Tuesday I submitted the synopsis and first three chapters of my novel to an agent - Eeek. I now have to do what I am most rubbish at - be patient. I know that even a flat rejection could take months. So I really must stop jumping up every time the phone rings and checking my emails every two minutes.

I'm filling the time in going over my manuscript with a beady eye, tweaking and twaddling - and thank goodness I did because yesterday I discovered that my character's brother who is two years younger than her at the beginning of the story transmogrified into her elder brother by the end. How did that happen? It's not meant to be sci-fi. Have now righted that particular wrong (opted for the younger brother option as that was what I originally intended.) Just hope I've not missed any other major inconsitencies along the way.

Next job is to wade through my womag resubbing opportunites and get them sent out again, write my first SAF story in about three months and have a look through Sally's excellent comps calender to see what's coming up. Oh and then there's the tricky issue of Novel #2 - I really must start scribbling down some ideas.

Friday, 30 January 2009

I Am A Writer

Just thought I need a little reminder seeing as I haven't actually written anything for the last three weeks. Time was that many three weeks would pass without me writing anything of significance, but for the last two years writing has become increasingly part of who I am. And the last three weeks have left me feeling - empty.. When I eavesdrop on my fellow writers on the SAF blog I feel like a ghost haunting a much loved place that I long to go back to. Ok bit over melodramatic that, but I am seriously missing the whole writing thing. Grrrrr.

Still only 3 weeks max to go. Meanwhile my novel, sits in a bag at my feet. I daren't look at it in case it is looking back with big beseeching eyes "Edit me! Edit Me!".

Actually I did write something today. I had just spent half an hour speed researching Carry On Films/Anatomy of the Human Body/Algebraic Formulae/British Generals and popped downstairs for a cuppa, when a voice started up in my head. It was one of my characters mid-monologue. She continued as I brewed up and searched fruitlessly (or more truthfully biscuitlessly) for a mid-afternoon snack. I got back to my desk and started to scribble. Ten minutes later I had two sides of A4 which I fed into the novel bag in the hope that it will keep my grumbling manuscript happy for a while.

Meanwhile (part 2) - Hubby is reading the novel. Other than myself and my mentor no-one else has read more than a brief snippet and hubby is the first to read it from beginning to end, as a novel, with no prior knowledge of what is going on. Ongoing reviews include: "Exciting!", "A real page turner" and "I couldn't put it down (apart from when I got to my train station)" and best of all (if said in a bit of a surprised voice) "It's like a real novel!!!"

My first reader. And I married him!

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Life is good

Thank you for all your kind words on my printing nightmare and apologies for the scantiness of my blogging, both here and in my comments on everyone elses blogs. I am truly swamped with work at the moment having taken on about a years work to be done in two months. The end is in sight but only at the end of a long tunnel of many houred days.

Anyway enough wingeing; life is good. I had a fantastic meeting with my writing mentor last week. She has now read the latest draft of my novel in full. My head will explode with boastfulness if I repeat all the lovely things she said about it but basically the keywords were 'very publishable' and 'I love it'. The latter coming from a many times published and highly respected author / intelligent well-read woman makes me very happy indeed. The former (for all the same reasons) makes me very excited. In fact we were both very excited over our coffees last week . She is keen for me to get my first chapters out to an agent asap, but there is still some tinkering to be done with the rest. I don't want to risk being asked for a full manuscript and then feeling that it's not quite ready and not having any spare time to get it ready.

It may all have to wait until the end of Feb / beginning of March when I can give it my best. Just wish I wasn't so impatient. Meanwhile my mentor has helped me draft my covering letter and given me loads of help with my synopsis about which I was formerly clueless. What a star. Can highly recommend her and the mentoring scheme that she runs - if anyone wants more details let me know and I will send links etc.

Hurrah I've run and blogged this morning. Now I'd better do some work

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Note to Self

Next time you plan to print off your entire novel (revised 2nd draft) with the intention of getting it in the post by 4pm (for guaranteed next day delivery to eagerly awaiting mentor who was quite possibly expecting it to arrive today) REMEMBER your printer takes 1 hour to print 150 pages. If you only have forty minutes to print 400 pages - IT IS NOT GOING TO HAPPEN.

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Happy New Year!

In case anyone was wondering I haven't disappeared in a tide of festivity.

There has been lots of the old wine swilling and cake and pie troughing of course (and carol singing, barefoot dancing, paper chain making, walks in frosty woods etc) But there has also been a shed load of work with an impending deadline of February and my novel edits. I have been writing from 6-8 every morning and then working at the computer til 5 or 6. So sadly I have not been feeling up to blogging (my eyes scream at me 'No more screen, please, no more screen.')

I've popped back in today because I've had a day off from both writing and working (Long walk among frost-dipped trees, pint in tinsel dripping pub and New Years Day tea with friends) and suddenly realised that I would actually quite like to spend half an hour or so at the computer.

Lots of other people have summarised/reviewed their writing year and it's been fab reading about everyone's efforts and successes and determination.

Personally I have had my best writing year ever - having finished the first draft of my first novel, submitted 14 stories to women's magazines and had a story shortlisted for the Fish Prize. My only (!) resolutions for 2009 are to get the final draft of the novel finished and sent out to an agent, to get back on my womag story writing horse and to survive my current work contract (only 2 months to go!).

Last year I made two resolutions. The first was to write a novel. It's the same resolution I have made every year for ever and I'm chuffed as chuffed that I actually acheived it.

My second one was not to buy any new clothes. Lots of reasons for this one, including - having too many clothes already, being skint, and guilt about the exploitation of labour generally involved in clothing manufacture and its environmental impact. And I did it. A whole year without buying new clothes. Emphasis on the 'new' as I was allowed as many secondhand clothes as I liked, because only the the first reason counted against it (and I made up for that by bagging up lots of clothes I no longer wear and taking them along with me to the charity shops.) I didn't go quite as mad in the charity shops as I thought I would though, although there were a few bargains (and a couple of non-bargain but fabulous vintage dresses) that I couldn't resist.

So now its 2009, am I going to go on a shopping blitz? Probably not, I've sort of gone off the idea. It was really liberating not even being tempted by the outfits on display in shop windows and I've enjoyed rediscovering items that I had shoved to the back of the wardrobe and forgotten about.

Also the combination of work and writing is going to keep me at my desk and away from the shops the next couple of months. Maybe after that a shiny new pair of boots wouldn't be too bad an idea.

Happy New Year everyone, hope it brings good things to you all.