Archive | May 2010

My First ‘Win’

Well, not win, I’m a runner-up – but to me that feels like a win! Every week on her Facebook author’s page, Rowan Coleman’s started a Status Short Story Competition – you have to write a complete short story in just 420 characters – including spaces. On Friday, I was a runner-up (I found out today). Yay. How exciting is that. Not only that, but Rowan chose me for ‘making me laugh the most’ (yes this is a direct quote from Rowan herself).

For the second time, I took a story I already had and shortened it – this time I took the story I did last week for [Fiction] Friday and cut it down to 420 characters. I think it’s a really good exercise in editing – taking something that’s a lot longer down. This week’s started at 616 characters and I got it down to exactly 420. The original (first draft) is here, and the one I used on Facebook is:

I knew it was a mistake the moment it was over, but hadn’t had a choice. I tried not to,but my body ignored my sensible head. I was only answering to myself, but that was bad enough-I was disgraced with myself. It had been fun, magical, amazing. It had been the best thing I’d done in the last 3months. I’d pay for it-but wow-it was worth it! I threw the cake wrapper in the bin, knowing the diet would continue tomorrow

I’m taking today as a very good day – the first of hopefully many winning stories. Hey, look at me being all positive!

Last week I did quite a bit of work on my next writing course assignment – and I’ve been doing some of it today. It’s really hard. Well, I’m finding it really hard anyway. The part I’m working on now is a description of a maternity ward at a hospital. I have to convey the excitement, the joy and the companionship between the mothers. I’m just not very good at describing things – I think mainly because I know I need to SHOW not TELL, but find myself telling. Next is the same hospital, but a geriatric ward. Ugh. Oh well, it’s good I’m being stretched, doing things I’d normally stay well clear of.

I read Della Says:OMG by Keris Stainton this weekend. I had so much travelling on the tube to do, that I literally read it all on the tube. Except the 20 minutes I should have been going to sleep last night but HAD to stay up and finish it.

A year ago I wouldn’t have been interested in reading it – I thought YA books were exactly that – for young adults. Then I started this whole blogging thing and ‘met’ Laura Best – who’d just released a YA novel. And people – adults – were telling her how much they loved it. It thought it was a little weird, but then Laura did a post about adults reading YA books, and I started to reconsider. THEN I bought a book that I hadn’t realised was about teenage girls. But, I read it, and loved it. THEN I read Twilight. All in all, I realise YA can be brilliant. I’m now a YA fan.

And now a massive Keris Stainton fan too – and I’m not just saying that because she’s a lovely person. OMG is written 1st person, present tense. I love books written like this, I feel you connect with the MC more than if it was 3rd or past tense – it’s like you’re there, then (hence the reason my 1/4 written novel is 1st person, present tense). It’s a lovely story about first love… ahhh. If you like any form or romance, I’d strongly reccomend it.

Now though, I’m stuck for what to read next. Really, I should take one of my 80+ books on my TBR pile – but you know that’s not what I’m considering at all. Oh no, I’m considering BUYING more books. I seriously think I have a problem.

I NEED to buy The Girl Who Kicked A Hornet’s Nest, I’ve read the first two millenium books and have promised my step mum I’ll buy this one and lend it to her in the next few weeks (she’s just about to start the 1st one). I also want to join in with One Book, One Twitter (#1B1T), so need to buy that book – American Gods. There’s also a list on a post-it inside my diary of books I know the library’s got, and I want. Then there’s my list on here of books I want to read. And one on Ubernote. He he, I’m so bad. Could do with winning the lottery so I could give up work to just read (and write) all day. Which reminds me, I’ve not checked Saturday’s results…

I’m doing badly at this writing 250 words a day thing. Bad me. I’m going to try VERY hard with it this week. VERY hard 🙂

Fiction Friday – The Bad Idea

Well, on the 3rd attempt at this prompt I found something that wasn’t sex related, or way too personal to post. So here we go, a very short, but hopefully a little fun piece taken from the following prompt from Write Anything:

“I knew it was a mistake the moment it was over.”

 

          I knew it was a mistake the moment it was over, but I knew I hadn’t had a choice. I’d been compelled. I tried not to, but my body ignored my mind and went ahead and did it.

          I wasn’t sure what the repercussions would be? I was only answering to myself, but that was bad enough. It had been fun, no magical, no amazing. It had been the best thing I’d done in the last… wow, maybe three months. I’d pay for it somehow, but wow, it was so worth it!

          I got up off the park bench, brushed the crumbs off my skirt and threw the cake wrapper in the bin, knowing the diet would continue from that moment.  

Guess who’s got a diet on her mind! I wanted to make it a little longer, to build the suspense a little more, but it seemed like a good place to end it there. Let me know what you think, please. And have a good weekend!

How I Could Get More Done

I’ve just had a revelation. If I spent more time actually doing something, rather than trying to work out what to do, I’d get so much more done. If I cancelled my twitter account I’d get a hell of a lot more done. I joined in November, and used it a little then, but from February on I’ve been addicted. Over 500 tweets can’t be all that good in such a short amount of time. Ah well.

I’ve also had a little revelation about my 1/4 written novel, ‘Holiday’. I think I’ve been struggling to pick it back up because I don’t know where it’s going. I know the first 1/3 and I know the basic things that happen in the rest and the end, but not all the nitty-gritty of the seven days of their holiday. My revelation is that I don’t need to know – I can just write and see where it takes me. Simple. I only semi planned the 20,000 words I’ve written so far, so should just write and see where the next 60,000 go. It’s what I do with ALL my short stories and they work out. Plus, tons and tons of authors write that way.

I kind of planned ‘Italian Infatuation’ – I had a diary of what would happen on each day, but not that much detail. I don’t know why I’m stressing about not knowing for this one.

I say that, but then I’ve got a couple of other projects I should maybe prioritise: my writing course and editing ‘Italian Infatuation’.

I’ve started the next assignment for my writing course, so should work on that. There’s 20 assignments or something, and I’m only on I think my 4th, maybe 5th, can’t remember. I think that should be my priority. In fact, I’ve got the word document of the started assignment open on my computer. When I’ve done this I’ll do it. Definitely.

But then, I also want to edit II now. After Keris telling me her NaNo novel got her a book deal, and Lisa Jewell telling me she loves editing, I feel quite revved up to get on with it. The problem is that I’ve not got word at home on my (dying) laptop, but I do at work. So if I’m working between the computers it reformats everything each time I email it over to the other one. It’s so annoying, it nearly drove me crazy during NaNo, but as I was only writing it then it wasn’t too bad. Hopefully I’ll be getting a new laptop in the next week or so, so will be able to start it then. After I’ve done this assignment for the writing course.

I’ve been really bad at writing the last few days, ok, maybe the last week. On Friday I did both Rowan Coleman’s Short Story Competition on Facebook AND Fiction Friday, but since then I don’t think I’ve done any. Saturday, Sunday and Monday I had my Mum in London and honestly didn’t give it a thought. I think I did some on Tuesday, but then was too busy yesterday to do any. When I say too busy, you know, Twittering, blogging, all those really important things. I meant to do some after I went to the gym and had dinner, but forgot. I’ve not yet got in the habit of writing at home. I need to, afterall, writing in the evenings would beat watching boring TV!

At the weekend my mum was pestering me to find a writing group to join. This is something I really want to do, and I keep looking at them, but I’ve not made that step towards doing anything. I will. Soon.

Ok, that’s enough, I’m going to go and spend an hour on my writing course before lunch! No, really, I am.

Book Lover’s Heaven

Now I’m not hungover or tired like I was yesterday, I can write the blog I’ve been really excited about writing, although I’ve now got so much to put in it, it might carry on until next week.

On Saturday I got invited to Keris Stainton’s book launch party. I found Keris’ blog months and months ago, so have read about her excitement about her debut novel coming out (on 6th May) over that time, in fact when I think about it like that, I can’t believe it’s out – it was so far in the future it was being released. The book’s YA and called Della Says: OMG, it’s about a girl who finally snogs the man of her dreams at her party, only to find at the same party someone stole her diary and is now distributing pages of it. I’ve only read the first chapter so far, but it looks really good. I can’t wait to finish the book I’m currently reading to get started on this one.

Keris was so nice and friendly, I talked to her quite a bit, which was really nice when there were so many people there that she had to talk to. We obviously talked about writing and books and stuff. Apparently she got her book deal on the back of a novel she’d written for NaNoWriMo. (Hmmm… there’s something there that tells me this is someone somewhere telling me I should work on my NaNo novel). 

Also in the course of our conversation she asked if I’ve got anything I’ve written that she could read. Wow, Keris Stainton – a published author asked to read something I’ve written. THAT has to give me a shove to FINISH something that could be read. 

I bought a copy of Della Says OMG and Keris signed it for me – saying she hopes I invite her to my book launch. OMG! Wow! That’s my first signed copy of a novel. It’s so exciting I almost don’t want to read it to damage it. Or want to buy another copy to read. I’m not that crazy, but I will be taking very good care of it. And taking photos of it (oh ok, I’ve done that already… is that really sad?).

So, if that wasn’t enough excitement for one weekend, I then managed to get hold of a ticket to a Lisa Jewell book reading event on Monday night – I seriously had the best weekend for a book lover like me (I include Monday as the weekend as I had the day off work!).

It was quite a small group of people which attended the event – it was at this cool little book shop in West Hamptsead called West End Lane Books. I walked in and was in awe of the shop. It’s an independent book shop, and just looked like the kind of place I could spend hours and hours – it’s probably a good thing I don’t live round the corner!

Lisa was great, so friendly, funny and honest. As she’s just released her 8th book, I was kind of expecting her to be a bit… less human? I mean I’ve been reading her books for 10 years – she’s one of my favourite authors and probably contributes a lot to me wanting to write myself, so she’s a bit of a hero of mine – you just don’t expect heros to be real people do you?

She first answered some questions; then read from her first novel Ralph’s Party; then from her new novel, and follow-up, After the Party; then answered questions from the audience – including mine about why she uses the number 31 in her novels (because it’s her lucky number – cause it used to be her husband’s extension number at work – ahhhhhh).

After that she signed books, including mine, and chatted to everyone individually. Through my conversation with her, she said she must follow me on Twitter (which she is now doing – yay!) AND she told me I need to edit my novel. Apparentley she LOVES editing? Hmm. Still, LISA JEWELL told me to edit my novel – I think I’m going to edit my novel!

Oh, nearly forgot, Lisa told us about how she got into writing. See if this sounds like anyone… Lisa was 26 when she first started seriously thinking about writing… She did a creative writing course… She was working as a receptionist… Sound like anyone? Hmmmm… I’m 29 and started thinking about writing a year ago… I’m doing a creative writing course… And what? I’m what? Ooh, a receptionist…

So all in all I had a fab three days. Three days that have given me two massive reasons to get up off my a**e (or get down in a seat, on it should I say) and edit my novel. Those three days also firmly planted the idea that authors are real people like you and me. People that were once in my position… Maybe, just maybe I could do this…?

I think I’ll finish with a great answer Lisa gave to the question ‘What’s the worst thing about writing for a living?’: ‘Writing.’

Fiction Friday – The Bowling Game

It’s [Fiction] Friday again. Woop! Today’s prompt is:

A man aspiring to be a pro bowler loses to his young daughter.

My (unedited) story is here:

‘Woo! Daddy, did you see that? I’ve won now haven’t I? Have I? Really?’ Sally looked up at her father expectantly.

            Derrick turned away from his daughter, unsure he’d be able to sustain the happy face she was expecting. How had that happened? It wasn’t that Sally was any better than she normally is, it’s that he was a lot worse. Seriously a lot worse.

            He looked back at the screen, Sally had 98 points, he had 96. 96. He’d not got as little as 96 since… he couldn’t remember when.

            ‘Daddy? Did I win?’

            ‘You know how to read the screen, you tell me,’ he snapped at her before shaking himself, it wasn’t her fault. Now she looked hurt. He knelt down to her level, her huge blue eyes that reminded him so much of her mother’s were full of sadness and were strained on the floor. ‘Sorry honey. Yes, you did very well, you beat me, that’s brilliant.’ He hoped his enthusiasm sounded genuine.

            ‘I’ve never beat you before have I Daddy?’

            ‘No, no you haven’t.’

            As Sally went back over to the screen to see the scores, Derrick moved to the seat at the side. What had happened? He’d not played for a while, but surely he couldn’t slip that much in what, three weeks? It would take a year or two of not playing to make him that bad.

            His mind crept back to that last game, and the woman at the bar. God, she was gorgeous – long silky black hair to her waist, golden tan and sparkling amber eyes. He wouldn’t have done anything – he was sure of it. Well, he kept telling himself he wouldn’t anyway. Who knows what would have happened if Terry and her friend hadn’t have turned up?

            She hadn’t believed nothing was going on. He couldn’t really blame her, she was whispering something in his ear when they walked in, she had her hand on his arm, she was standing so close to him he could smell her shampoo. God, no wonder he hadn’t let himself think about that night.

            Terry had left without a word. Her friend had stayed longer, mumbling something, pointing at him and the brunette, before running after her. He had no chance of catching up with them. By the time he’d untangled himself from the brunette, Terry’s car was speeding out the car park.

            Once he’d talked Tom into driving him home, she’d already thrown his stuff out. The lawn was full of his clothes, CDs, books, his life. She’d not even listened to a word he said, and he’d tried. All night. In the end he left because Sally had woken up and was getting upset, he could just about handle upsetting his wife, but not his little girl too.

            Maybe that’s why his game was off today – the memories of his mistake that night were putting him off? It didn’t seem enough, usually he could shut out the whole world and just concentrate on the ball, the ally and his arm swinging. No, there had to be something else.

            Terry’s friend? Who was she? He’d met her before once or twice, she was a bit ‘hippy’ so he liked to stay away from her. Jayne. That was it. What if…? No that was a silly thing to think. But it would fit…? No. No? No! She couldn’t be? But what had she been mumbling at him? Could it be… A spell? Could she be a witch and put a hex on him?

As always, please let me know what you think.

Thursday’s Thoughts

AHHHHHHHHHHHH! I started a blog an hour or so ago, and have just lost it. I swear I pressed save. In fact I swear I pressed it more than once, but it’s gone. Gone into the Abyss that is… well… somewhere.

*sigh*

Ok, let’s try again.

I went for a walk during my lunch break, all the way across London (well 1.1 mile each way anyway). Why? To the library of course. What’s that I hear you shout? I’ve got a library 5 minute from my office? Yes, I do. BUT they don’t stock the book I want (maybe NEED?). The problem is, I did the same journey yesterday.

I checked online where the book was, and it said Barbican Library, which is as I said 1.1 miles from my office. What I failed to notice is that the book was stored in the ‘Stack,’ which is in the basement, which can be accessed, but takes half a day. So yesterday was a wasted journey (I imagine it helped with the weight loss though!). Today’s was successful – I got my book – Yay!

What book, you may ask, is worth all this trouble. Well, it might surprise you to hear, from a person that very rarely reads a book twice – it’s a book I’ve read before: Ralph’s Party by Lisa Jewell. As I’m going to a Lisa Jewell event on Monday (Woop!) where she’s reading from the follow-up to Ralph’s Party, ‘After the Party’ I thought I should brush up on the story. Plus I’ll be buying and reading the book, so need to remember the story. Even though that was 10 years ago.

It’s not that the book was in any way bad that I need to read it again, it’s that I’ve read so many books in the last 10 years, I pretty much don’t remember any in detail. God, I wish my memory was better, would save so much time.

You may also be surprised to hear, the book’s hardback. Have I mentioned how much I HATE hardbacks? First, I take the book I’m reading everywhere with me, if it’s a hardback it makes my bad really really heavy 😦 Secondly, they’re really hard to read, I often read in bed, lying down, and hardbacks are hard to do that with. It’s not the first hardback I’ve read though, and I’m sure it won’t be the last!

I have kind of been planning on taking a holiday somewhere to write, just write. First I wasn’t allowed the time off work, then with a little persuasion (that’s what I’ll call it) I have been allowed to take half a week off. Which is cool, but it’s hard to find a cottage for 4 days, not a week. So I came up with the idea of going to Rome. Not to write, but to SEE Rome. Slightly different, eh? Maybe I’ll plan a writing week later in the year.

Too Much for Twitter

I’ve got Twitter open on my browser, and keep thinking of things I want to say on there when it hit me – why not write a blog with all these thoughts? Doh! If only I’d have thought of that before! Ha ha.

This is bad, on Saturday I did some writing (yep, me writing on Saturday – there is hope yet!) and wrote a note to include something about it in my next blog. The note said ‘just randomly wrote something based on a dream I had – realised it would work well in Holiday.’ Wow, that’s great isn’t it. But four days later, I have totally forgotten what the dream was, and what the bit of writing was. I remember it was quite long – well 500 ish words, which is much better than the 250 I’m aiming for a day.

Sunday and Monday were wash outs with the whole writing thing, Sunday ’cause I worked then went out and Sunday because the hangover and morning after blues were too bad. Although remembering how much I liked the piece I wrote for [Fiction] Friday last week when I was sad, I probably should’ve done something.

I am currently in book lovers heaven – or I will be over the long weekend I have coming up. On Saturday I’m going to Keris Stainton’s book launch party. She’s just released her first YA novel ‘Della Says:OMG’, I’ve only read the first chapter, but it looks great. So I get to go along, meet Keris, buy the book and get it signed. How ace.

Then, as if that wasn’t enough, on Monday I’ve been lucky enough to get hold of a ticket to a Lisa Jewell (yes, THE Lisa Jewell) event where she’ll be reading from her new novel After the Party (a follow-up to the brilliant Ralph’s party from 10 or so years ago). There’s another book buy and signing. Seriously how good is this weekend going to be. Oh, plus my Mum’s coming to town, so lots of lovely meals out and touristy stuff to be done! Excellent. Just what I need right now!

Stuff may be happening about my denied holiday at the end of the month. If I don’t get into huge amounts of trouble, there’s a little gleam of light that might turn into me being able to get the week off in the end. In fact, even if I do get into trouble, I still might get it off. But I might not, so not getting my hopes up again yet.

I’ve just started reading ‘What French Women Know: About Love, Sex and Other Matters of Heart and Mind’ by Debra Ollivier. I won it in a competition run by Piatkus books on Twitter (one of my many recent wins 🙂 ). I’m not sure if I would have read it had I not have won it, as it’s not generally the kind of thing I’d look at. But already I’m glad I am reading it. I’m only on the first chapter, and haven’t really learnt much, but I’ve read enough to want to know more. I’ll keep you informed!

I started on my next writing course assignment today. I shouldn’t have done as I’ve not yet re-read the modules I need to before I start, but I knew I had to do some writing, and I thought that would be a good thing to start on. The first piece is a 250 word argument between two people. I’m already at 350 words, and it’s not finished. Oops. Might need to change that – I do have ideas though. I ‘googled’ what couples argue about to get a few ideas but when I started it, it turned into (this is going to sounds weird) an argument that me and my ex would probably have had in the future, had we not have split up. Well, they say write what you know. Not that I’ve had that particular argument. Still, you know what I mean (I hope you do, cause I’m now not so sure).

Ok, I thought I had more, but maybe not. If I can edit this in the next five minutes I can post it before my lunch break, then spend the afternoon on my writing course! Lets hope it doesn’t need much 🙂