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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Writebulb's Future's Bright :o)

Writebulb had its twelfth meeting yesterday and it’s hard to believe we’ve been running for a year now. We’ve seen some changes throughout the year; members come and go but the meetings are always fun and a great way to connect with others who understand the solitary business of writing.
I’m excited to announce we’ve added some new things to our monthly meeting format to reflect the interests and desires of our members (which is what Writebulb is all about) and I am so pleased that we have finished the year on a positive note and feel ready to stretch ourselves and continue to grow throughout the next year. I hope you like our new format:
1.    Monthly meetings at Chelmsford Library, first floor meeting room, 2-4 pm on the second Saturday of every month will continue. Refreshments provided – just bring pen and paper. These meetings offer an opportunity to connect with other members to discuss anything writing-related at all. Some members like to set goals for themselves for the following month and look back at their achievements during the previous month, but this is not compulsory! We also like to complete a writing exercise, which can be read out or kept personal – this is entirely the choice of the individual – no pressure!
2.    ‘Socials’. We appreciate that not everyone can get to Chelmsford on a Saturday afternoon and so we are offering meetings throughout the year on a weekday evening. These are not formal meetings but offer the opportunity to meet in a social setting and to get to know each other a little better. The first social will be Wednesday, 4th January 2012 at the Fox and Raven Pub, Chelmer Village, CM2 6NL, 7.30 pm.
3.    Every member will have an opportunity to write blog posts which will really reflect the diversity of our interests and writing. We will also seek guest bloggers which will add yet a further dimension and will hopefully create a blog we all can’t wait to read.
4.   Flash fiction challenge. This is being tried this month for the first time. The brief is to write a piece (poetry, fiction, article....your choice), maximum 850 words, including all of the following: a black cloud, commuting, a bridge, a giant sneeze, a smile, a theme park, a puddle and a silver ring. If you wish, you can email your piece to other members who are taking part and please state if you would like feedback at the meeting, in private, or not at all. If you would like feedback, please ensure you email your piece by 6th January so that members have a week to read and review it. If you would like to participate in this, please drop me an email so I can add you to the flash fiction group.
5.     We thought it would be fun to have a biography page on our blog. Just a few lines about your interests, achievements, hopes and dreams or what you like to eat for tea....anything you like at all. The point is to let others see what Writebulb is all about – its members.
6.     We also have a team working on an anthology which is scheduled to be completed by 1st March – a very exciting project indeed!

I would like to wish all our members a very happy Christmas and to those who have thought a writing group might be for them – come and give us a try....we’re a friendly bunch and you’ll find a warm welcome.

Jane.x

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Writebulb 2012 Anthology: Call for Submissions‏

We're excited to announce details of the Writebulb 2012 Anthology to showcase the work of our members.

The theme of the anthology is simple - Essex - and we're using the working title of The Other Way is Essex.

You're all invited to submit a piece of work up to 5000 words that reflects your style / genre as long as it has a strong Essex element.

As well as writers we'll be needing the following contributions:
  • Cover Designer: James has offered to approach illustrator Kirsty Mordaunt http://kirstymordaunt.co.uk/
  • Editors: Emma has volunteered. Any more offers?
  • Fundraiser: TBD (not sure if required).
  • Interior Designer: Stuart has volunteered.
  • Proof Readers: Lynda, James, and Jen have volunteered. Any more offers?
  • Publicist: James has volunteered. e can also all do our part with social networking.
  • Writers: All of you, hopefully!
We'll be publishing in both eBook and print format, with the option to Print on Demand or Buy to Sell. More on this later.

Milestones:
  • Submissions are due by Tuesday January 31st 2012. Submissions should be emailed to writebulb@hotmail.com.
  • Proofreaders to return edits to writebulb@hotmail.com by Wednesday February 15th 2012.
  • Editing, interior design, and cover design to be completed by Wednesday February 29th 2012.

The timings are tight to try and get the eBook out for the Essex Book Festival, followed by the print version.

So get thinking, folks, and we'll see you at the next meeting on Saturday September 10th!


Publishing Options:
eBook
Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) enables UK writers to publish directly to Amazon US, UK, DE, and FR. Prices can be set by country or linked from the dollar price.
Smashwords requires a different format but distributes to channels other than Amazon i.e. Apple, Barnes & Noble, Diesel, Kobo, and Sony.

Print on Demand (POD)
Createspace enables UK writers to publish on a POD basis. When a customer order is placed, a book is printed and shipped especially for them.
(Other providers are available e.g. Lulu.)

Buy to Sell
Createspace also enables UK writers to publish multiple copies at a reduced cost price e.g. approx $3 for a 194 page paperback.
(Other providers are available e.g. Lulu.)

Costs:
Potential costs include purchase of cover images, extended distribution costs, and Buy to Sell (assuming that we want to buy advance copies to sell on).

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

National Novel Writing Month

As November approaches, so does the challenge of National Novel Writing Month, also known as NaNoWriMo, or just NaNo.

Simply put, NaNo participants commit to writing 50,000 words is just 30 days.

For anyone who has dreamed of writing a novel, this is the chance to crank out a first draft and see if you can come up with something you feel passionate enough about to go on to edit afterwards - after all, NaNo is about quantity, not quality.

It's also an incredible shock to the system, forcing you to change your life for four weeks to ensure that you hit the daily target of roughly 1667 words a day.

I think it's fair to say that a lot of crap gets written in that 30 days but I can guarantee that there will be the seed of something in there that will urge you to keep writing and developing that first draft into something worthy of publication.

For example, my 2009 NaNo novel took just under 8 months to edit but it's doing very now that's it's out there to buy.

I'm passionate about writing, both my own and yours, so... what are you waiting for? Sign up now.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

"As Page Turning As Grisham" - How To Keep Readers Reading

Consider these comments on Amazon UK:
  • ... couldn't put it down
  • I finished this book at 2am !!!!!! Really exciting read.
  • I downloaded [the novel] thinking I'd read one chapter then come back to it when I had time. Well, I couldn't stop!
  • ... if there's a sequel, I'll grab it so fast Amazon might have its fingers singed.
Wouldn't you love to see these comments for your book?

Luckily for me, these were all review comments for my debut novel, Body of Water.

I spent a lot of time deciding where to break my chapters, as well as how to break them, choosing the best places to get my readers to recommit to my book as each chapter ended, NOT to give them a convenient spot to put it down.

Here are some examples of my chapter endings:
  • But one woman knew better.
  • "You left the tag on," he smirked, snapping the plastic that tethered it to the fabric and threw it over his shoulder. "Ready?"
  • "GET THE HELL AWAY FROM MY SON!"
  • But there was more news to come.
  • "Pour me a drink. A bloody big one."
  • He leaned towards me, his voice barely a whisper. "Considering yer father told us ye were dead."
  • I had to uncover the truth first.
  • "Because it was me that cast it."
  • Looking up my jaw slackened.
  • I sprinted up the final steps and gasped at the horror that lay on the bed.
  • "Then show me."
  • I hoped there'd be plenty of time for that in the future.
  • A bright light filled the room as the door exploded inwards and a monster rose from the wreckage.
  • The Sea Mither's face turned heavenwards. "Teran approaches."
Each of these ending fall into rough categories of mystery, unanswered question, cliffhanger, suspense, foreboding, revelation.

Using these techniques has contributed to Body of Water topping Amazon UK's Gay Fiction chart for three weeks over August and September this year.

Try them in your own chapters and see the difference they make!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Words change lives

Three words changed my life.

Several months ago I went to my best friend's BBQ. When I arrived I didn't know any of the other guests. When someone asked me what I did I said "I'm a writer."

Two days later one of the other guests, a photographer, commissioned me to write copy for her website.

A month ago the same photographer referred me to a colleague who was looking for screenwriters. I made my pitch, my idea was accepted, and I'm on the third draft of my first screenplay. I'm getting professional feedback and learning a lot about how different writing for the screen is compared to prose.

Now, I'm not a full-time writer but I think of myself as a writer first. If I had said that I worked in IT and also write I don't think that commission would have come through.

Believing myself to be a writer motivated me to finish my novel early. As I write this, the same novel has topped Amazon UK's Gay Fiction chart for the third day running and it has been out for just two weeks.

Three words changed my life.

"I'm a writer."

Friday, August 26, 2011

S~E~P~T~E~M~B~E~R

Summer’s coming to a close and soon the dark nights will be upon us.  So why not start a new writing regime this September to get you through the winter months?  You can prepare by:

Eradicating obsolete items from your writing space.  Don’t throw any papers away but organise yourself and your area by setting up a filing system so you can find things easily.  Perhaps sort them into reference material, works in progress, ideas and forthcoming events or deadlines.

Preparing some outlines of things you’d like to work on.  Nothing too detailed, just some notes and ideas.  This will give you a focus when you actually do sit down to write.

Treating yourself to something new.  A new notebook or pen.  A new mouse or flashdrive.  Remember when you were at school?  Wasn’t it great to start afresh with good intentions and new kit?!

Engaging your senses.  Are you visually soothed?  A nice photo or clipping from a magazine may put you in the writing zone.  Or maybe it’s a bunch of flowers or scented candle perched on your desk or kitchen table.  Or it could be a bit of Mozart or Motorhead!

Making space in your diary.  You make time to go to the dentist or hairdresser, so pencil in some time for the months ahead.   By taking yourself seriously you’re more likely to achieve your goals.  This is your writing time so give it the commitment it deserves.

Buying a copy of the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook.  It’s packed full of industry tips and competitions.  Or perhaps buy a writing magazine or borrow a book from the library.  Reading about the craft is a great way to get those creative juices flowing.

Envisaging the time you have set for yourself to write.  This will stay within your subconscious helping you to stick to your allotted times.  Also, you’ll probably find you get more out of your writing time as ideas ferment in the depths of your mind.

Realising that life sometimes gets in the way of your plans.  Be kind to yourself and don’t be too rigid.  Spending time with friends or family is fun and can provide rich material for your writing.  So don’t beat yourself up if your writing plans go awry but take it as a compliment that people seek out your company.  Remember to keep a balance in life – your writing will be all the better for it!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Do I look bovvered?

I'm sitting outside in my garden, a cup of tea is near to hand, my cats are both curled up on a chair next to me and the bats have started their evening bat run, i.e. flying in a straight line up the garden towards me before hanging a right when they get to the shed. Yes, I'm in a chilled out mood and feeling far from bovvered about anything. What started off this mellow feeling? I went on Facebook earlier this evening and re-read again (just because I like reading it) that James, one of the Writebulb members had finally finished his book after 10 years. He gave Writebulb a big thumbs up and said that joining the group gave him the push he needed to finish the book. This made me think of our first meeting in January and just how much Writebulb has developed in such a short space of time.

From the very beginning we aimed to create an open, supportive community of writers dedicated to developing their writing skills, to provide a nurturing environment that would help each member reach their goals, to give them a place where they felt they had a voice, to identify opportunities for learning and to have plenty of fun along the way. We were, and still are, enthusiastic amateur writers. None of us were involved in the publishing industry in a professional way so our aims were (heck, still are...) quite ambitious. 

I know that all of us founder members have enjoyed the journey so far. Yes, we've had our difficult times because it's been harder than we thought to find the time to maintain the blog and facebook, to pull together ideas for the meetings and even arranging to meet up to go through things can be a nightmare, but we've always managed to pull together a meeting. We've had authors in to speak about their work and experiences, we took part in the launch of the Essex Book Festival, we're going to pull together an anthology - we've not done too bad considering!

We've all learned a lot along the way and, frankly, it amazes me that when I speak at the meetings I can see people scribbling the information down! I don't know a lot but what I do know is there to be shared with everyone, not hoarded away, and I know that all Writebulb members feel the same way. 

I'm so pleased that James has finished his book but far from that being the end of the story, it's only the beginning - now he's got to let other people read it, then market it and then start the second book!  I have a feeling that quite a few of our members are hot on his heels and whilst we have such enthusiastic budding writers we will do our very best to support them.

So, do I look bovvered? Not at the moment I have to admit.

Can I be bovvered? When it comes to supporting Writebulb, why yes I can.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Coaxing the Muse

I once read (I forget where), that if you keep showing up at the writing desk, ideas will follow. The word no in my creative life, is quite often the wrong answer. Try, maybe and see it through, are much more satisfactory responses.
Take a minute to think about your friend, the one you don’t see much of these days. This is the person who no matter what you suggest, always finds a reason to throw cold water over ideas.  Eventually, you get really tired of negativity and stop suggesting anything. You gradually realise that being around them doesn't make you feel very happy, and you ease off the accelerator of your friendship, until it peters out completely.
So it is with the muse. Every day, ideas of all kinds are swarming into the brain. Good, bad, boring, fun, ideas precious ideas. You are constantly making choices about what to act upon and when to act upon it. I’ve had lots of brilliant ideas over time that have fallen to the wayside because I didn’t have the time, was too tired, not disciplined enough, ‘but it’s too much work!’ or whatever other excuse I could come up with not to write. Just like that friend, the muse got tired of not being heard. She may have thought, ‘What’s the point of churning out all these suggestions if they never materialize into anything?’
Gradually, the muse feels neglected, withdraws imperceptibly, and buries itself so deep that you eventually forget that you have it. This happened to me. If you are lucky enough not to forget, you sit at your desk, whenever the mood strikes you to write, and you struggle to conjure something up. At this point, it doesn’t take much to convince you to give up. This process feeds on itself and continues until you wise up.
Having thrown her away, you need to coax your muse back gently and listen attentively, when she tells you something. You need to gradually increase her confidence by reassuring her that whatever happens, you will give her some space in which she can speak and be heard.
Everyone likes to be heard. When you listen and make that connection with someone, including yourself, that person feels valued and appreciated, which makes them feel confident, positive and expansive. This encourages them to talk more. Something amazing then happens. You too begin to feel good as the listener, as you feed off the positive energy that you both create.
It is the same with the muse. It might not always happen, just like it does not always happen when you converse with another person. But there is a much higher chance of deepening that connection when you listen, than when you don’t.
It is important to have a creative space that you feel is sacred and you must protect it with all your might, because your muse will not come out unless she feels safe. She has to know that she will not be shot down or booed by you or anyone else. When you listen, she will happily keep producing ideas, like a loquacious friend who has a sympathetic ear.
Writing will then become easier and you will start to feel very good about yourself. This is not to say that you will not have to toil to make the work sparkle. Production is a delicate thing. It needs nurturing and discipline.
At Writebulb meetings, we try our best to create that space. It is a place for members to bring their writing dreams and trust that they will not be shot down and told what a (insert choice of degrading adjective here) idea that is. Instead, they are nurtured and encouraged to take those tentative steps towards their writing journeys. When they falter or fall, they find a firm but gentle hand that will help them up again, and spur them on.
Initially, it is hard to tap into that place, what Julia Cameron called ‘the Vein of Gold.’ It takes discipline, resilience, courage even, to show up at the page and trust that you can produce. It may even require a lot of waffling to begin with. But if you stick with it, the vein will be flowing so close to the surface, that all you will need do is turn the tap on for it to gush, a process that is very much aided by habit and regularity. That is, showing up at the same time every day so that your muse knows it is now safe to come out.
This for me is partly what artistic autonomy is about, the discipline to see your ideas through to their conclusion, no matter what.
‘Yes but...’  I hear you say.
Yes but stop making your excuses and become true to your creative self. Start today. Do it now.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Tips On Writing Historical Fiction

During the UK Meet for GLBT Fiction, three established authors ran a session on writing historical fiction.

Here's what I learned:

It's not the setting, the detail, or the research that makes your story historical but the way that the characters think. They should never think like modern people. If you want a modern viewpoint on history then stick your lead character in a time machine and send them on back. After all, it's modern people who would be horrified by the old way of doing things e.g. medical care, food consumed, socially accepted prejudice, etc.

Stop believing that people think the way you think. That's where research comes in. Read something written at that time (so you're stuffed if you're writing something set in a pre-literate society).

Conflict resolution in historical fiction may not ring true in a modern setting. Be careful to resolve it within the thought processes of the time.

You don't have to demonstrate your research by including every detail you've read about. It takes the reader from reading the book to watching the book.

Good betas are worth their weight in gold.

Address the history by the quality of the characters. If you took out the narrative description you should still be able to tell it's historical from the characters themselves.

The past can really surprise you - did you know that there were floodlit rugby pitches in 1880?

Thanks to Alex Beecroft, Erastes, and Charlie Cochrane for the tips!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Wiki it

If you’re anything like me, the first place you land having googled something, is Wikipedia. I’m loath to admit this because I like to think of myself as a serious (coughs) researcher, but like everyone else, I too wiki.
Wikipedia is an open encyclopaedia into which anyone with an account can add information. The logic behind it was that because everyone on the planet with access to a computer can alter its contents, eventually the information presented would be correct.
Unfortunately, this is also the reason why the website cannot be relied on as a source. Anybody can write whatever they like on it, including your readers. I use it to get a quick overview of a particular subject, before moving on to sources that I can trust.
However, this is not about research, it is about marketing. I am here to make the case for the site. It is easy to overlook Wikipedia amidst all the hubbub of marketing your work on specialist and other websites. Getting your writing noticed is about visibility on the internet, particularly if you choose to go down the independent publishing route. Wikipedia is yet another way to add to that visibility.
Social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook, are very useful for interaction with your readers and require active participation on the author’s part. Wikipedia like a personal website, tends to remain static, particularly if the information is correct, and will give an added angle to you and your work.  
Still not convinced? I’ll give you examples of my favourite authors’ books who are on it: Penelope Fletcher, Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell, the Discworld novels by Terry Pratchett, One Day by David Nicholls, The God of Small things by Arundhati Roy, A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf, All Men are Mortal by Simone de Beauvoir... I could happily go on but I think it is best that I leave you to wiki your favourite authors and see what comes up. There I rest my case.
Addendum to all pedants: I put it to you that google and wiki are also verbs

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Orange Prizes Girls

I have fond memories of arriving at my first ever NaNoWrimo regional meeting wondering:
 a) if there were other people interested in writing in my area
 b) what those people would be like
and c) What was I thinking?! I can’t write 50,000 words in one month!
I arrived petrified to find Stu, the Municipal Liaison and one of Writebulb’s founding members (I’m name-dropping here), sitting in a corner, nervously cradling a cup of coffee and looking very a la mode with his ipad. At this time, ipads had just been recently released.
I confess that this was the first time I had beheld the device up close and live. While we waited for the other Wrimos to arrive, we talked about the gadget to break the ice, as I desperately tried to purge the urge to stroke it (a goal which was to be achieved at a later date).
As more people trickled in, what struck me the most was their gender. The majority of those who  showed up, were women. If memory serves me well, their ages ranged from 11 to 60. The genres that people were dabbling in were just as diverse; biography, romance (from Mills & Boon to gay paranormal romance) children’s books, young adult fiction, fantasy, and beyond.
Writebulb was born out of those NaNoWriMo meetings held in November 2010. There has not been a single Writebulb meeting that I have been to since, which has not been predominantly attended by females.
When I noticed this trend, I began to wonder: if there are this many women interested in writing from a grassroots level, why aren’t there more female names up there in the higher echelons of published, best-selling and celebrated authors?
It is possible that men go about their creative lives differently to women and therefore don’t feel as great a need to congregate. However, if the level of interest among women is as high as the Writebulb meetings have shown in comparison to that of men, then there is something going wrong in the journey to get published, for this trend not to be as widely reflected on celebrated author lists.
One of the moves to correct this disparity was the introduction of The Orange Prize for Fiction in 1996. According to its website, ‘the prize celebrates excellence, originality and accessibility in women's writing from throughout the world.’ The winner receives a limited edition bronze figurine of a woman called a ‘Bessie,’ and a cheque for £30,000.
This year’s entries included British/Sierra Leonean author Aminatta Forna (The Memory of Love) who graced the 2011 Essex Book Festival. Andrea Levy who was also at the 2011 Essex Book Festival, won the prize in 2004 for Small Island, which subsequently sold 834,958 copies and has now been made into a film.
This year’s winner was 25-year-old Serbian/American author Téa Obreht (pictured left), with her first novel, The Tiger's Wife. She is the youngest-ever author to take the Prize.
Other first novels to make the 2011 longlist were: Annabel by Kathleen Winter (Canadian), The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives by Lola Shoneyin (British/Nigerian), Swamplandia! by Karen Russell  (American), Repeat it Today with Tears by Anne Peile (British), The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer (American), The Seas by Samantha Hunt (American), Grace Williams Says it Loud by Emma, Henderson (British), The Pleasure Seekers by Tishani Doshi (Indian).
It is encouraging to see first time novelists receive such acclaim, and women authors get feted.
Detractors of the prize include writer Tim Lott, who was quoted in The Independent newspaper recently, as saying, the prize is a ‘sexist con trick’ and ‘the Orange Prize is sexist and discriminatory, and it should be shunned.’
If the Writebulb stats are anything to go by, there are a lot of women out there writing fiction. Most of the ones who get published never get recognised for their work. The Orange Prize serves this purpose and this is to be celebrated.
As it turns out, my fears on that cold November day were unfounded. I have come to discover that there are a lot of people interested in writing in my area. The love and support we give each other, speaks volumes about the kind of people that they are, regardless of their sex.
As for the NaNaWriMo challenge, it was won by most, and participants have since then written more words than we care to admit to counting.
 It is possible that amongst us lurks a future winner of the prize, and I hope to be there to witness the day when someone hands her the busty Bessie.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Ipswich Arts Festival 2011

Some of the shortlisted books for the New Angle Prize
The Ipswich Arts Festival is with us again from the 24th of June to the 10th of July 2011.
Literature is always featured as part of the event, and this year promises interesting treats for aspiring authors.
A seminar on how to get published by Juliet Pickering, includes information on how to get an agent, writing a compelling synopsis and cover letter, and if you had time to book before the 7th of June, a one-one 20-minute feedback session on your work.
New Angle Prize for Literature celebrates writing inspired by East Anglia. There will be a showcase of the 2011 shortlist, featuring readings and conversations with the shortlisted authors who are as follows: Aftermath by Ronald Blythe, The Last Weekend by Blake Morrison, Death Watch by Jim Kelly, The Wake by Jeremy Page, The Aldeburgh Scallop by Maggi Hambling and A Flora of Suffolk by M Sanford & R J Fisk.

The event will not be short of laughs with Jo Brand the British comedian, chatting about her memoir Can't Stand up For Sitting Down.

Simon Armitage will talk about Seeing Stars and there is also a chance to lunch with Esther Freud as she talks about her new novel Lucky Break.
All literature dates and details are listed below but please visit the website for further information on the event.
Event: Literary Lunch with Esther Freud
When: 26th June 2011 at 11:45am
Where: Admiral’s House
Tickets £18 / £15 concessions
Booking: 01473 253992

Event: Comedian Jo Brand in conversation with Georgina Wroe
When: 29th June 2011 at 6:30pm
Where: Waterfront Gallery – University Campus Suffolk
Tickets:  £8/£6 concessions
Booking: Tickets available on website

Event: Writers Cafe
When: 4th July 2011 at 7:30pm Room 1, Arts Building, Campus North, University Campus Suffolk
Where: Room 1, Arts Building, Campus North, University Campus Suffolk
Tickets: Free

Event: New Angle Prize for Literature Shortlist showcase
When: 5th July 2011 at 7:00pm
Where: Ipswich Institute Reading Room
Tickets:  £5 (including a glass of wine)
Booking: 01473 253992

Event: Simon Armitage  - Seeing Stars
When: 7th July 2011 at 7:30pm
Where: Council Chamber Ipswich
Tickets: £8/£6 concessions
Booking: Tickets available on website

Event: How to get published with Juliet Pickering
When: 9th July 2011 Morning seminar 10.30am-12.30pm
Afternoon 2:00-5:00pm (one-to-one sessions, 20mins each)
Where: Admiral’s House
Tickets: Seminar and session: £30
Morning seminar only: £10
Booking: 01473 253992

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A Happy Future!

The Writebulb group is, I think I can safely say, getting stronger as each month passes. At the first meeting in January this year, we were all very excited at the prospect of providing writers with the opportunity to meet, exchange ideas and encourage others, but we had no idea whether it would survive for very long. Six months later and we're growing, developing into a group that we can all be very proud of.

At the last meeting I was feeling a bit under the weather due to some work done by a dentist (how can anyone ever be a dentist?) but even through a haze of medication I was impressed by how genuinely interested and supportive we each were in the work other members were undertaking.

As we went around the table for updates, it was clear how diverse our interests are - fantasy, science fiction, humour, romance, poetry, journalism, children's books - I think our members cover all the genres (having said that I don't think we have horror... yet!).  We talked about self publishing, marketing, starting a collective work, tweeting, did a quick writing exercise - the two hours just flew by and everyone walked away from the meeting enthused and ready to write!

Writebulb is now ready for the next phase in its development. We want to encourage members to take an active part in its growth, to share their ideas, contribute to the blog, use Writebulb as a platform to shout to the world about the work they are doing - the more we support each other the stronger and more effective Writebulb will become. Here's to the continuing success of Writebulb and to each and every member - Light on, Write on! 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Muse Party

I have been wondering whether you all have a muse. Well, as writers I presume you do, so I will re-phrase the question. Do you have a toy, or some such inspirational object, to conjure creative thoughts?
I will confess to having three who all live on my desk. I have a little stuffed rabbit that I mollycoddle and sometimes speak to (I’m throwing in a cursory evil eye here in case you get tempted to tell anyone). I also have a flat felt toy with yellow ‘hair’ who sits propped up against my mug of pens. She has big button eyes, small nose and cat-like whiskers. She reminds me of a sunflower and I am very fond of her.
Finally, there is Monsieur le Frog who is green in colour. He came as a souvenir gift from France and as a result has a very heavy French accent. Sometimes he speaks to me in French but most of the time he croaks in English. He says things like, ‘C’est magnifique!’ or ‘Ze girl is good,’ when he is pleased with me. Sometimes he comes up with a string of French expletives which I tend to ignore.
All my toy muses bring me joy. They are a welcome distraction when the going gets tough and I enjoy touching and talking to them. In fact they are responsible for this post. Honestly, they made me do it.
You can meet them at the next meeting, because I am going to ask you all to a mini muse party. That’s right! At the next meeting which in case you’ve forgotten is on the 9th of July, bring your favourite toy. It could be a pen, a book, a mug (we know Jane owns a mug and a rubber duck as well!), a fluffy stuffed animal, one that squeaks, or even better that teddy bear you’ve had since you were little (I know you still have it).
I have visions of bulbs taking public transport, walking through the High Street or propping up their muses in car passenger seats, to the bemused attention of onlookers. Be brave my bulbs, it is all for the ever worthy cause of having fun!
I’m really looking forward to meeting all your muses. In the meantime, here’s a picture of my button-eyed muse who alas has no name. Does anyone fancy naming her?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Do People 'Get' You As A Writer?

A few days ago I was lucky enough to model for a number of wedding photographers. My 'bride' and I were the funky couple, eschewing traditional wedding attire for a funkier edge.

Since the day of the shoot, the photographers have been posting their images online and one of them said to me today "I've never had to post alongside another [photographer] before."

Reading between the lines I know exactly what they were thinking - What if people don't like my photos as much as the others?

I feel exactly the same way about my writing. I'm submitting a M/M Romance story to an anthology to be published via Goodreads. I'm petrified. I'm up against some well-established authors and my work will be sitting side-by-side with theirs. What if people don't get my story?

To try and calm my nerves I keep telling myself that some people will get me and some just won't. There's nothing I can do about those that don't. If I'm vanilla ice-cream, I can't make my chocolate just to satisfy other people.

I am who I am. My writing is what it is. Sure, I can improve my technique and polish my voice but by voice remains.

Fundamentally, I can't change who I am. I just am.

So here are some pictures of me, taken by different photographers with different approaches. You might like one, you might like both, but I think that they have their own voice... and that's just fine


Sunday, May 29, 2011

Oh yes, those cold, unfeeling keys....

I've been trying to think of some words of wisdom to offer writers who, like me, often get stuck (technical term - writer's block...). 
It happens to everyone and can make you feel pretty isolated and inadequate when everyone else around you is forging ahead.
What I would advise is:
Find a good group of people who you can go to for honest support and advice when you need it (this works both ways and you also have to be there for them when they need you!)
Even if you are blocked, try and write every day.  It doesn't have to be about the book you're working on - what about some poetry?  Your life and how you're feeling?  You'll be surprised what's lurking in the back of your mind and something could be the trigger that gets you moving again!
Read as much as possible.  This not only gives you an idea of what is going on in the market, it will increase your word power and give you fresh ideas for your work.
Try to relax - ideas will come to you and you will finish that book!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Dead Time Management For Writers

A recent conversation at Writebulb has raised an issue - there seems to be less and less time to write with work, personal committments, self-promotion duties, etc.

Preserving time for writing is key no matter if you're blogging, tweeting, writing articles, or polishing your novel - and some people do all of this every single day!

Many people will tell you to cut Internet usage, TV surfing, and so on, but I wanted to address making the most of dead time.

It's so easy to tell yourself that starting to write in that fifteen minutes while you're waiting for a meeting to start, while you're in a queue, or while you're waiting for your kids to get out of school, but all that seemingly dead time adds up. I bet you that using that dead time would easily get you at at least one hour of writing every single day.

If you think of your writing the same way as you do your day job then you'll make it a priority. After all, you'd get laughed out of your boss's office, if not sacked, if you dared tell your boss that you didn't complete a project because you were dusting your sideboard.

So, make use of your smartphone if you're out and about - most of them have some sort of note-taking facility. I use my iPhone for quick note-taking and my iPad for sofa-bound writing (it's more portable than my laptop).

If you're a technophobe then stick to at least one notepad small enough to carry everywhere with you. (Take a tip from all those disorganised asthma sufferers who squirrel inhalers all over the place - many notepads beats none!)

Happy writing - you could have written something while you read this...

Friday, May 20, 2011

Fact or Fiction?

At our last Writebulb meeting we had the pleasure of welcoming Bruce Kennedy Jones as our guest author, a crime reporter by trade with two published novels and a third in the pipeline.

He is an engaging man with a wonderfully dry sense of humour who told tales of his experiences with great comedic effect.  I was entranced by his stories of gangsters and thugs and he had me hanging on his every word.  I must admit that the world of organised crime both fascinates and frightens me.  It is a world very different from mine and one that I hope to never experience first hand!

And that, for me, is the joy of reading and writing.  Reading transports me to other worlds – a place in time, a different planet, a tricky relationship or a whodunit; the possibilities are endless, as can be seen by browsing Waterstones’ shelves.  I like most genres, but all my favourite reads have a common theme:  a tale that is interwoven with a strong factual background.  This makes the story believable and one with which I can identify.

Writing allows me to be nosey in the guise of ‘research’ and to weave the fabric of truth and fiction together in the hopes of creating a believable, fictional story.  Bruce Kennedy Jones has done this incredibly well with the title of his book, The Last Straight Face - a term he invented to mean an ‘honest’ criminal, one who lives by the ‘criminal code’ (whatever that may be!).  There may be such a thing as a criminal code, or there may not, but he’s got me believing!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Almost there!

It's not often anyone surprises me but yesterday the Writebulb group managed to do just that. We held our monthly meeting and in the break they produced a very, very large cookie with a very, very long message of congratulations on and a couple of bottles of non-alcoholic bubbly stuff (well, we were in the library!). I couldn't believe they'd gone to so much trouble and was totally overwhelmed by the feeling they must be meaning someone else! Yes, I've self published an ebook but it's not as if it's been successful (yet - think positive Kate!) and it's not as if I'd exactly been talent spotted by an agent or anything like that.
But I think that the four of us who set up Writebulb have actually achieved a huge amount in a small period of time. I've got to grips with (okay, still trying...) social media networking and digital media formatting; Brigid is now sub editor of a magazine, joined the NUJ and is incredibly busy; Jane's novel is pulling together and she's doing a huge amount of research and Stu is also busy writing, constructing his novel, getting involved in reviewing and has been asked to write web pages, etc . We are each of us now being acknowledged as writers in one form or another. That's a huge achievement and I'm very proud of all of us.

Light on, Write On Bulbs - we're half way up that mountain!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Is it a Journal or a Diary?

I have kept a journal for years.  And I like to call it a journal rather than a diary.  The word diary, for me, conjures up images of schoolgirl days (entries such as:  ‘Wow, he smiled at me today, he’s so tasty!  When will he ask me out…..’) or images of the day job:  ‘Please put that in my diary would you, Jane?’.  And by the very nature of them, diaries mark the days, which always leaves me feeling defeated – instead of focusing on what I’ve written, the blank pages jump out at me and I realise I ‘could try harder’ (there I am, back at school again).
On the other hand, a journal opens up so many possibilities.  I like pages free from printed text so I can add my own timeline with thoughts, ideas, what I’ve done, what I hope to do.  Perhaps I’ll jot down a line from a song on the radio or a snippet of an overheard conversation.  In short, I like the freedom to express myself in a personal way in words that are not edited or crafted (I cringe at the thought of anyone else reading my hurried scrawl).
And is the style of journal I use important?  Hell, yeah!  The notebook needs to be half A5 size so it can fit easily into my handbag and the paper needs to feel right.  What is ‘right’?  I don’t know.  It’s the same with the cover, though.  It must be a notebook that feeds my senses as it will become a part of me until all the pages are filled.  And sometimes I like to write with a fountain pen, at other times a biro will do fine.  The whole point of my journal is that it is unstructured and writing in it should indulge my emotional state.
I recently entered a travel writing competition and first I looked to the Internet for pertinent facts.  But it was my journal that held the real treasure, the little nuggets of information that can’t be found in a reference source.  My journal contained my feelings about the place and the sounds and smells.  I had descriptions of people, local events and my thoughts on their way of life.  It wasn’t written in a literary way or with any structure (except the date at the top of each entry) but was a mass of narratives containing spelling mistakes and missed words as I’d hurried to get it all down.  How often are we allowed to write like that?
Do I think I’ll win the competition?  Probably not.  But what a wonderful time I had revisiting that journal.
Do you use a diary, journal or any other method for recording your thoughts?  I’d love to hear.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

We're all in this together

On Sunday I went to a BBQ hosted by my best friend Jaz who recently started a very successful photography business and was voted the UK's Funkiest Photographer.

But what made this BBQ special is that it was largely attended by her peers in the photography industry - and they fret about their work just as much as we writers do!

Just listening to their conversations was like listening to writers. They compared themselves to each other, as well as their heroes. They worried that people might realise they lacked confidence. They realised that they lacked a certain skill and wanted some help. They wanted to critique each other's work in a safe, supportive atmosphere.

Later that night I played Singstar: High School Musical with my goddaughter and we sang a song called We're All In This Together. It dawned on me that we are. All creative people fret. (At least they should, in my opinion. If you're not being critical of your own work then I think there's something wrong.)

I left feeling as energised and inspired as I do after a Writebulb meeting.

So, what do you fret about?