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Monday, June 25, 2012

Why I love writing

Today Carol has chosen to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard rather).

There are many reasons why I love writing. Here are some of them.
My personal favourite! If someone really annoys you, you can do something really nasty to them in your story. My neighbour at my last home was a bit of a cow and I murdered her several times in my books. One of them made its way into my Thriller I am editing at the moment. It was very therapeutic, but I will have to change some details in the final draft.

I am never lonely or bored. I always have someone with me even if they are imaginary. I love being on my own, to have time to think uninterrupted.
If something bad has happened to you, you can write about it. Release the demons!

If you watch something on TV or read a book that has a rubbish ending you can change it.
You can write anywhere, all you really need is a pen and paper.

There are some negative things about being a writer.
You don`t read a book in the same way as non-writers. You are always on the lookout for something to borrow. Also you notice others mistakes, which interrupts the flow of the story. Part of me misses the days when my grammar was even worse than it is now! At least then I didn`t notice when writers used the wrong word.

It is hard work! There are so many great Authors out there, it can be daunting sometimes. Sometimes I wish I could go back to the days when I wrote only for myself. But I want to be published too, so I will have to just work hard.
It is hard for others to understand that when you are just staring into space, you are not actually just staring into space. My mother-in-law keeps asking me if I need something to read, or do I want to play a game, when I am at her house. The trick is to hold a book in my hand so it looks like I am reading.

Thanks Carol! Now we know what to do when people think we're staring into space!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Writing Challenges

Today Aileen has chosen to share her thoughts with us.
 
Over the years I have just toyed with writing, it was my ideal stress reliever. That is fine. It was an activity that was just for me and my notepad and pen. It wasn’t until my sister secretly sent a manuscript to an agent, who is currently helping me make it into a saleable piece, that I’ve taken it more seriously and looked more into the aspect of writing. Whilst I know I have a lot to work on, it still takes me an age to get a piece to where I’m truly happy with the draft.
 
So where does challenges come in. Most writers will have heard of National Novel Writing Month www.nanowrimo.org or NaNo for short. Where people attempt to write 50k in 30 days, yes you read that right, 50k in 30 days. Whilst many think it’s mad to attempt such a feat, it is achievable just as long as you switch your self-editing button off. It’s not the quality of the writing that counts, it’s the quantity. There are two similar challenges, one in June http://junowrimo.com/ and another in July http://julnowrimo.com/ . Both are apart from NaNo, but have the same outcome. At the end of these months, everyone will have an extremely rough draft to work from. I have heard of writers who get theirs published after months of smoothing, sadly I’m not one of those yet. NaNo also organises local meet-ups to meet fellow writers, and make new friends. I for one wouldn’t have discovered Writebulb without participating in NaNo 2011.
 
Flash Fiction could also be considered a challenge. Where you write a short story in 1000 words or less, now some may say this isn’t a challenge. I find it hard to keep a story that short. Also some will write a piece using prompts. The following was given at a previous meeting of Writebulb.

“I missed the call, I can’t believe I missed it, how could I have not heard my phone ring, now what do I do?” 800 words maximum.

The amount of variation that members have come up with is amazing. This is one thing I need to consider attempting. 
 
This one isn’t a challenge, more of personal goal setting, alongside blog touring. It’s called A Round of Words in 80 days http://aroundofwordsin80days.wordpress.com/ or known as #ROW80 on twitter. Basically there’s 4 rounds, each lasting 80 days. At the start you post your Goals, and then post an update on the check-in days, which are a Wednesday & Sunday. Then link it to Goals linky for the round. This link can be found on the pages, blog page. This is also where you can read other blogs, of those taking part. I personally consider this more of a personal challenge, as your goals are there for everyone to read.
 
Writing challenges are there to assist the writer, help remove writer’s block, they can bring up new ideas, like writing exercises. For those who are part of an online writing community I would be very surprised if there wasn’t a challenge floating about somewhere. Just as there are several reading challenges, which are floating about my reading community. This particular one helps get me reading out of my usual genre.

Thanks Aileen!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Where have all the stories gone…

This week Kevin has chosen to share his thoughts.

This is a bit of a personal gripe about the state of the British book publishing industry, or more specifically about that section of the book buying public that regards itself as being ‘literary’.

I recently decided to try my hand at some competition writing, just short stories, anything from five hundred word flash fiction to five thousand word stories. So I set about researching the competitions – reading pieces by previous winners online where available and buying a few anthologies where they weren’t. There was definitely a pattern – the more ‘literary’ the competition regarded itself (usually equating to the amount of prize money being offered) the less I enjoyed reading the submissions. Yes, they were all ‘short’ and complied with the various word count requirements but somewhere along the way the ‘story’ element seemed to have disappeared.

Now I’m not knocking our literary tradition, which is second to none in my opinion, but all the great writers told a story. Shakespeare understood that his job was to engage with his audience and entertain them. For all his focus on poverty and his (by modern standards) wordiness so did Dickens – he gave us David Copperfield and Little Nell and Oliver Twist. My argument gets a bit shakier as we enter the twentieth century and more modern writers, but the ones who remain popular all tell proper stories. What they don’t do is perform linguistic acrobatics in the name of ‘literature’ at the expense of their story (or, in the case of some of the pieces I read, to hide their lack of story altogether).

So I’ll say again, the writer’s job is to engage and entertain his or her audience (and hopefully encourage them to part with their cash for the privilege), not to obscure and obfuscate and try and impress with linguistic pyrotechnics or gratuitous shock tactics. If I’m reading prose I want something with a story, a point. I don’t want to have to have it explained to me. If I’ve missed the message then it’s the author who has failed, not me.

End of rant :)

Oh, and some of the competition pieces I read were really good – the sad thing was that it was only some of them…


Thanks Kevin for that insight into the competition world.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Deadlines

Today, Hellen has kindly shared her thoughts with us.

Douglas Adams once, very famously said “I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.”
 
When I first heard this quote I laughed, quite literally, out loud. How brilliant, I thought, and I nodded in sage agreement, that was exactly how I felt I said. But I was wrong.
 
My deadlines do not make lovely whooshing sounds, in fact my deadlines don’t make any kind of sound at all until they have overtaken me. They go into stealth mode, sneaking silently behind me, ducking into doorways whenever I seek them out and hitting me with a flashy neuraliser like some wicked Man in Black every time someone or something reminds me of their existence. Finally, when I’m resting in relaxed assurance that my day’s work is complete, they pounce bringing panic, guilt, shame and sleepless nights as I frantically try to kid myself that if I just complete the work before daybreak I will have beaten the already victorious beast.
 
I wonder if there is such a thing as a deadline whisperer, you know like the horse and dog variety only one that will work miracles on my deadlines and make them behave. What would that look like? Well, for a start, each deadline would wait patiently on my calendar, politely reminding me each morning of their existence and, if I forget to feed them, perhaps gently nudging my hand. They would not fight or gang up on me but each one would sit quietly waiting for its turn for my attention and be completely satisfied with its allotted time.
 
Ah but I’m dreaming I know. I’ve been fighting with deadlines for well over twenty years now and, if anything, they’re getting smarter while I’m getting slower so perhaps the trick is to buy a better microphone and see if I can’t hear that whooshing sound after all.

Brilliant Hellen! How we can all relate to this!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Being a Part-Time Writer is a Full-Time Job

This week it's Anna's turn to share her thoughts with us.

No time to write today, I have to:

·         Link to my new book (No Escape) on Shelfari so that it appears on the widget on my blog

·         Update my Facebook page

·         Read a recently published book and post reviews on Amazon, Shelfari and Goodreads so that the author will return the favour and give me some publicity for No Escape.

·         Add an Amazon link to my blog so that readers can buy No Escape.

·         Fix a problem with my author website and check that it is up to date.

·         Arrange to have my profile put on an online Author Network.

·         Send a chapter of a current work-in progress to a beta reader.

·         Beta read two novels and report in detail to the authors regarding suggested improvements.

·         Research the cost of antique suits of armour for Blackwood, a work-in-progress about an antique shop.

·         Look into the possibility of doing a blog tour and make the necessary contacts.

·         Research the submission requirements for UK agents (they all seem to want something different) and update my Agents database with the latest rejections.

·         Send Emon and the Emperor to another UK agent.

·         Write a blog post about useful tools for writers on MS Word for my blog

·         Research software for writers, including Scrivener and Writeway.

·         Write a flash fiction piece for Writebulb

·         Read “Writing Magazine” for tips.

Anyway, at least I've got "make an Author to-do list" out of the way.

Thanks Anna, for showing us the reality - now we can go back to our daydreams of how easy we wish it could be!