Archive | July 2011

It’s Friday Kids, But Not as We Know It!

I feel like I’m going to have some time to do some writing today. Ordinarily if this happened, I’d take part in Fiction Friday, but as I have this massive goal of finishing my novel by 31st October, I really think I should do that instead. Poo.

My excitement about Holiday at the weekend has carried on this week and I’ve been doing more on it.

On Tuesday, on the way home I thought about how a scene would work out. When I got in, I decided to write a few hundred words (500) before I got dinner. I got to 508 or something and knew I HAD to write more. So I gave myself another 15 minutes or so, and got another 500 words in (I think that’s right. I can’t work out if it’s actually possible to write that many in such a short time – it seems a crazy amount?).

I then made myself stop, or else I would have starved*, but once I’d turned the laptop off, I thought of something else, so made some notes on an envelope. Then I got into it and wrote another 100 words of actual story.

*As I’m a stone over weight, I seriously doubt I would have starved, but hey, I can tell myself that!

Yesterday (my next night in as I was out on Wednesday)  I got home early having had a hospital appointment which finished earlier than work. Yay! However at the appointment, they put some drops in my eyes that made EVERYTHING blurred. When I say blurred, distances just looked like I didn’t have my glasses on, but reading and looking at things close up, oh and being out in the SUN, really hurt and felt like it was going to give me a headache (the drops dilated my pupils so my irises were almost invisible).

I couldn’t write. But, I had this idea about a rewrite for one scene (I know I should wait until the first draft is finished, but I’m not going to be happy leaving it how it is, because the same thing is going to happen again. At the end actually. I found another envelope, and made some (very large) notes on that scene.

I feel like I’m getting somewhere.

Except, now I want to do some writing and I’ve left the envelopes at home. Which is probably a good thing, because, well you know, I’m at work and should really be working. Especially as I haven’t done much at all today.

Oh how things have changed from when I worked downstairs on reception. I think I had about 3 hours a day then to write/blog/trawl through the internet. I do get paid better now though, so that’s one thing. I probably do better writing now too. When I was writing on reception I was constantly interrupted by guests or the phone, so although I (sometimes) got a lot done, it didn’t feel it had the quality of the writing I’m doing now.

I wonder if that’s why I don’t seem to be able to edit Italian Infatuation. That was pretty much all written on reception so may be of a different standard of writing. I think I’m looking for excuses here.

Had a chat with my other half the other night (the first envelope night). He said I’m not a finisher. I tried to argue with him, but when I was thinking about it later, I hate to admit he’s probably right (and now I’m hoping this isn’t one of my blogs he reads – knowing my luck he will and I’ll get the ‘told you so’s all weekend!). I do start things, and I never seem to follow them through. Although, that’s not to say I’m not going to, just that I’ve be distracted by something else temporarily.

This weekend, I was cleaning up the flat, and trying to do about a million things at once – washing up, laundry, hanging clothes out, tidying the bedroom etc etc. I don’t know if I ever finished one because I kept doing a little of everything else too.

I’m the same with writing. I started a writing course, but didn’t get too far before I started writing Holiday. But then that didn’t get too far because I did NaNo. After NaNo though, I didn’t edit Italian Infatuation because I started writing Holiday again. Then it got to November and I HAD to do NaNo again, so The Dating Project was half written. Now that’s unfinished, Italian Infatuation is written but not edited, the writing course is maybe 4 modules in, and Holiday is maybe half way done.

Presently, I’m not a finisher, but I want to be. I want to edit Italian Infatuation. I totally think it’s got legs as a Mills & Boon book and I’ll like to sub it to them. I really really would like to. I also want to finish Holiday, think of a better title, and edit that too. Oh, and I totally want to finish the writing course. All this, and I want to do NaNo again in November.

I currently have a plan to finish Holiday before NaNo starts. In November, I’ll write a novel (or 50,000 words of one). I don’t know what about yet, and that is worrying me a little, but I’ll worry about it much more when Holiday is done and dusted.

In December, I need another plan.  I’m not going to decide what it is yet, but I’m going to make one. It’s going to include finishing one of these projects. All the way through. Next year, I’m going to submit a book. Or two. Wooh, that’s a plan. A plan I really like.

I think… I may have said that about Italian Infatuation this year. Ah. Well… Um… Yeah! Next year though. Definitely. It doesn’t matter how scary it is (I think it’s fear holding me back – what if I finish a novel and edit it? I’d have to submit it, and that’s mega scary!), I’m going to do it.

But this year. This year I’m going to finish draft one of Holiday. I’m so into this at the moment, I don’t think anything could stop me. I hope nothing will stop me anyway!

ROW80 Check in

I’m doing so badly with check ins and blogging in general at the moment. Of course I’ve got an excuse (don’t I always), but this time it’s a damn good one.

Last month my boyfriend and I cancelled our internet connection as we were paying WAY too much (but you do to get a ‘free’ laptop don’t you – the contract ended, the laptop is ours, so why would we pay too much anymore?). We then promptly forgot about it and just over a week ago we got cut off. With no new one to go to.

Of course that coincides with being broke before we get paid, so we’ve done nothing about getting a new contract. Now the boyfriend has decided we might as well get Sky. But we need to talk to the landlord and blah blah blah. So basically, I don’t have the internet at home.

I know what you’re going to say, and you’re right, I do have internet I at work. Internet where I can access WordPress and everything. But it’s hard to find time to blog at work you know. Especially the last week or so when I’ve been so so busy!

Anyway. That’s my excuse. I’ll try to get better, but I can’t promise anything until we get a new ISP (is ISP Internet Service Provider? I think it is, I think that’s what I mean isn’t it?).

So, ROW80. I’ve been worrying for the last few days that I’m doing really badly. I’d had a few days where I wrote quite a bit, but not many days, and there was nothing in between. So yesterday, I decided I’d have a bit of a catch up.

Catch up I did. Yesterday I wrote… nearly 2k words. Yep, that’s nearly 2000 words! That’s more than in a NaNo day. How incredibly amazing is that. And you know what? It wasn’t that hard. I wrote Holiday (well if I’m going to finish it by November, I pretty much can only write Holiday right?) and I didn’t know what I was going to write, but I wrote. And carried on and on and on.

The only reason I didn’t get to 2k (literally 50 less) is because I finished a scene and decided bed was a better option than starting something new.

I am so ridiculously pleased with myself. Even more so that it didn’t feel like a struggle. God I wish writing was always that easy! If only the next 38k could be that easy.

I had a little calculation yesterday. If I can do 2k words a day, I literally only need to write for 19 days over the next 3 and a bit months. If I wrote 1k words a day (which is a lot more realistic to be honest) I’d only need to write 38 days out of the next 3 and a bit months (99 days). I’d have to write less than every other day. That’s pretty awesome.

BUT, we all know that writing 1000 words everytime I write isn’t all that doable. I’d like to think it is, but I know for sure next weekend I won’t be able to get anywhere near that amount as I’m going to Sweden.

Then there are lots of weekends when I’m away at weddings etc where I won’t be able to write that many. But that’s not the point. The point of this calculation was to make me realise that 38k words isn’t actually that much. No, really, it’s not. The calculation did its job – to show me that this goal is SO doable. Holiday finished – here I come!

ROW80 Check-In 13th July and A New Plan

Just a very quick blog cause I’m really tired and could do with an early night.

I’ve just started my piece for Fiction Friday this week. I know, I know, it’s totally procrastinating writing Holiday, but I was really tired after work, and didn’t want to have to do something that required too much thought. At the moment Holiday is requiring a lot of thought.

I could do with some time to just sit down and think about what I’m doing it. After work I just seem to be too tired. I don’t seem to have any time at weekends. Maybe I’ll take a day off work in a few weeks. NO, scrap that, I want to be making progress on this in the next week.

This weekend I don’t think I’ll get much done. We’ve got 3 day tickets to Lovebox festival. It’s in London, so we’re coming home each night, but will probably be getting home, going to bed, then getting up and going back. I’ve got Monday off, but think that will be spent recovering!

At some point anyway, I need to make a start on it. Or plan it more, or do whatever the hell I’m going to be doing on it.

Because, I have a plan.

In 2009 I was writing Holiday. Then November came and I discovered NaNoWriMo. 30 days, 50,000 words, a new project. I couldn’t carry on with Holiday. Fast forward to June/July 2010. I started writing Holiday again (I think it was about then). November came again, and NaNo hit again. What could I do? Not Holiday I can tell you.

You see the pattern here? I can’t do the same this year. But, NaNo is only 3 1/2 months away. I refuse to give up Holiday for NaNo for a 3rd year. But, I HAVE to do NaNo again. How can I get round this? Weeeeellllll. I could always… Um… Oh… How about finish Holiday before November.

Could I?

About 40,000 words in 3 and a half months? Oh, I so could. Couldn’t I? I could you know. I’m going to. I AM GOING TO FINISH DRAFT ONE OF HOLIDAY BY 31ST OCTOBER!!!

Anyway, back to ROW80. I’ve done some writing today (455 words). Yesterday I kind of didn’t do anything. Monday I edited. Not too bad going. I just worry about this weekend. Have to make up for it tomorrow (although I’ve got plans. Maybe during lunch).

How are you guys doing if you’re playing?

Writing, Writing Group and My Name in Print

Obviously we’ll start with the most exciting – my name in print. Now, when I say my name in print, I mean it literally: ‘Helen Jackson’ not something I’ve written. Which would be awesome, but not yet (like how I say yet!? That’s optimism for you!).

A few months ago I got offered the opportunity to read a draft of a soon to be published novel. The author wanted comments on it. Of course I jumped at the chance because I’d loved her first novel and had a feeling I was going to love everything else written by her.

I was shockingly honest. Telling her what I did like and what I didn’t like. I’ve never done anything like that and the idea of doing it scared me immensely. How could I, a writer, and reader, but with no other credentials than that, give advice to A PUBLISHED AUTHOR? Well, somehow I did (thank god I liked it eh!) and she was very grateful.

How grateful? Well… if you turn to the acknowledgements page of Keris Stainton’s new novel ‘Jessie ♥ NYC’ at the 3rd paragraph down you’ll read ‘… Helen Jackson… for reading an early draft and giving fabulous feedback’ WOOP! How exciting is that. A properly published book, carrying MY NAME! That is the most exciting thing that’s happened to me this week… maybe this month (year?)! WOOP!

As I’m mentioning it, I really should recommend the book (and not just cause it’s got MY NAME in it). It’s a brilliant novel, I fell in love with Jessie and Finn is great, and the story is wicked, and you know, it’s set in my favourite city in the world! I’m now having an internal argument with myself about reading it. One half of me thinks I should stop reading what I’m on now to read this (the finished version) the other half is saying I can wait a couple of days. I don’t know which will win.

Moving on.

This morning, I saved all the parts of ‘Holiday’ I have to a memory stick to take to work. I was planning on going to my writing group tonight, but hadn’t decided what to read yet (I knew it had to be from Holiday) so thought I’d decide after work, before I left for the group (there’s not time to go home first). When I got to work, I realised I had left the memory stick at home. I know, I hear that – doh!

Luckily when I was having a writing spurt last year (or the year before? I can’t remember) I used to email bits and pieces to myself. So I found some. And among that ‘some’ was the perfect part for tonight.

The people at the group enjoyed my piece. I think they’re interested in the story, and seem quite excited about it. I really should go more often, as it makes me want to write more and more. I guess positive feedback does that to you doesn’t it. The negative feedback is great too (too much repetition here etc).

I’m starting to feel more… settled in the group now. After I went last time I wrote a huge long blog about what it was I didn’t like about it vs the little I did like (unfortunately it got ‘lost’ when I tried posting it, so it never saw the light of day) – the negatives totally outweighed the positives. BUT I liked the boost I got from people saying they liked my work, so wanted to go back.

I’m glad I did. I think my main issues with the group have been resolved. Or in part anyway:

I have been a little wary of commenting on other people’s work. I’ve not done this before (ok, so I’ve said in this post I’ve done it before – by via email is so different to face to face). Before now, I’ve not really been sure of what to say, or indeed, how to say it. Practice. I think that’s the only way I’m going to get better at this. Today I was less worried about it than last time. I expect next time I’ll be more confident. I’m getting there.

The genres other people’s writing are totally different to anything I read. This has kind of put me off, I feel like maybe I should belong to a group who have more chick lit/romance writers (any other than me would be a start). But, this could open my horizons to other genres. Already today I found myself really interested in a story that previously I’ve been a little bored by. This could be a positive thing.

The genres other people’s writing are totally different to anything I write. This worried me a lot. Surely I’d want romance writers to comment on my writing? Right? Well, no, not necessarily. I want help with the nuts and bolts of the writing, the grammar etc just as much as the content, so in that respect it doesn’t matter what other people write. Plus, I’m discovering there’s something really satisfying in hearing men who don’t read chick lit laughing at, and being interested in my words!

I know there’s other things that were putting me off the group before. But you know what? I think I’m starting to enjoy it. Enjoying it, and getting something from it – that has to be good!

Very quickly now, cause I’m really tired (which is what happens when your other half decides he can’t sleep at 5am and starts getting up and coming in and out the bedroom! Shouldn’t complain – he brought me breakfast when it was time for me to get up! Result!)

Today, I’ve done some EDITING! Not any old editing. Editing of Holiday. That’s a 1st. I realised earlier I needed to at least tidy up what I was going to read at the group, then when I got into it, I edited the hell out of that passage. Well, maybe not the hell out of it, but made significant changes/adjustments. You know what? I didn’t hate it! Maybe one day I’ll start enjoying editing. We can but hope!

ROW80 Check-In 10th July

Get this. I’m doing a check-in on the right day. Wonders will never cease eh!

I may be doing well with my check-ins, but I’m not doing too well with my writing. On Thursday I did quite a lot, but Friday I did almost nothing. I did try to – I went on a train journey & took my laptop to do some work, but there were no power points and my laptop doesn’t work without being plugged in!

I spent the whole rest of Friday thinking I’d do some, but then about 11pm when I started I realised I was way too tired. I managed 10 minutes of character building before I hit the sack. Yesterday was a wipe out and now today feels like it’s been bad. It hasn’t I guess, and it’s not over yet either!

So far today I’ve spent about 40 minutes on Holiday. Unfortunately, I don’t have much to show for those minutes. I realised this weekend the reason I’m not getting on with writing it, is because I don’t really know what I’ve got and, more importantly, what I need. Now, there’s a load of fluorescent yellow post-it notes on our bedroom wall, with story Holiday story points. I wanted to write a note for everything that happens, but until I get to the shop & buy more, I’m merging a few things on each note.

This exercise has shown where my gaps are. But, I still don’t really know what happens during these gaps. The 33k odd words I’ve written have all been without having a clue, what I was doing, but am now wondering if I can carry on like this. I’m not sure that I don’t need to do a lot of planning. Eek. I just don’t know.

Is it better to just write, then edit the hell out of it, or to plan to know where I’m going, and still need to edit it? I guess I should try just writing and if that doesn’t work, plan then write? A few weeks ago I wrote out a plan of what Kate and Dan (my MCs) do each day on their 10 day holiday. This is mostly where I need to write. There are a few bits that need filing in earlier in the story, but they’re almost so little that I can do them in the editing. Nearly.

I’m going to finish this now then, and crack on. Crack on with what I still don’t know, but crack on I know!

Fiction Friday – 8th July – Aliens and Microwaves

Hi! Remember me? I sometimes do Fiction Friday!

Sorry I’ve been away, life just seems to have been crazy for a while. I’m back with my A Round of Words in 80 Days challenge, and I’m back to write stories.

The prompt for this week from Write Anything (on their snazzy new site – take a look at it here) is:

The government has issued a warning that a particular (and common) household item has begun to have an unusual side effect on pets ( or children, or adults) . You realise that own this item and cannot contact anyone at home to check or warn them. When you arrive, you see…

There’s nothing like a little Sci-Fi on a Friday morning, so here we go… (just remember, I don’t read, or generally write Sci-fi, so I have no idea where this idea came from. Also remember, I follow the rules of Fiction Friday, so this is the 1st – unedited – draft).

Don’t worry. Don’t worry. It’s a hoax. Of course it’s a hoax. I mean, Aliens don’t exist do they? Of course they don’t.

Except I’ve always felt that they do. The universe it huge, and you can’t tell me in something as large as it (which I don’t even understand) there’s no other intelligent life forms. But they’re certainly not coming to earth. The first we hear of them can’t be them walking out of the microwave.

It has to be a hoax. Aliens walking out of microwaves. You couldn’t write about it, it’s so strange. But the BBC reported it. The BBC, one of the most credible news sources in the world reported it. They don’t do hoaxes. Not even on April 1st, and it’s not April 1st.

It’s not, is it? It’s… Of course, it’s May 2nd. It’s Julie’s 10th Birthday tomorrow.

Julie. Julie and Billy. Where are they. Why aren’t they at home with their Dad? He didn’t say they were going out, and it’s only 9am. If they didn’t have any specific plans, they wouldn’t have got out the house this early. Not on a Saturday.

I try the land line again and it rings out. The feeling of dread grows. One of the kids always gets the phone. They race for it. It’s their greatest competition. So why aren’t they answering? They must be up. They can never stay in bed past 7am at the weekend. Ironic when you have to literally drag them out during the week. Those weekend cartoons!

I turn off my phone and throw evil looks at my stereo. Why isn’t it working. Of course I know Billy and his love of putting toast in holes is what’s wrong. God I hope he’s ok. I hope they’re all ok.

Is it me, or is the street quieter than it should be at ten to nine on a Saturday morning? I have no real way of knowing, I’m usually either at work, or still at home watching cartoons at this time, but it feels quieter. The whole way over, I’ve only see about three other cars. That can’t be right can it? Is something wrong? It is isn’t it? Oh no.

Words from the TV report I was watching flood my head as I pull up on our road. ‘Government warnings… Don’t use microwaves… waves are facilitating their descent to earth… Unplug… Do not use.’ Even though I’m less than 500 meters from home, I try the phone again.

Come on, come on. COME ON Tim. Answer the phone. Answer it. Damn.

That’s it. I can see the house. IT looks normal. Except that noise. What is that noise? Shit, it’s my heart. It’s not natural to beat that fast.

The curtains are still drawn. I can tell that the lounge light is on. Why the hell isn’t anyone answering the phone.

I pull up on the drive and am out the seat before I’ve got a chance to turn the ignition off. Sod the car. My hand’s trembling as I put the key in the lock. Shit, stay still hand. Stay still.

‘Kids! Tim!’ I shout as I finally get the door open.

‘MUM!’ I hear from the lounge, along with a scrambling sounds of them getting up and dashing to me.

‘Julie. Billy. My babies. You’re ok. You’re ok.’ They’re ok. Calm down. They’re ok. I want to hold them forever, never let them out of my sight again, but before I know it they’re off, back to whatever show they’re watching.

‘Why didn’t you answer the phone?’ I shout to their retreating backs.

‘Daddy says it’s broken,’ Billy shouts to me from in front of the TV. ‘The man from Bee Teas has to come and fix it.’

Of course. Of course. It’s been on the blink for a few days. OF course. Everyone’s ok.

‘Where’s your dad?’ I ask as I put my bag down on the sofa.

‘In the kitchen. I’m having a strawberry Nesquik.’

 ‘I’m having a chocolate one.’

‘Yes, but my Strawberry one is nicer…’

The sounds of them arguing fades as I realise the implications of what they’re saying. Julie likes it hot. Hot milk means Microwave. NOOOOOOOO.

‘Tim!’ I turn immediately and run down the hall. ‘TIM! TIIIIIMMMMM!’ I hear nothing except the sound of my blood running through my veins and my breathing. The kitchen door is closed. Shit. Why’s the kitchen door closed?

‘Tim?’ I slowly open the door. ‘Tiiiii.’

Tim is standing immediately inside the kitchen. His face freezes me. I’ve never seen such a look of horror on anyone. I’ve never understood what people mean when they say someone’s gone white. Tim is practically translucent. His dark eyes look hollow, and he’s actually trembling. It doesn’t take me long to realise why. Running round the floor are… things. Hundreds and hundreds of things. Not just the floor, the worktop, the table, the chairs. They’re climbing up the cupboards, and… oh god, they’re all over the ceiling. Every surface of the kitchen is covered in white things running about. They’re moving too fast for me to see what they are, but they look like… It sounds crazy but they look like Stigs. One inch high Stigs. Yes, Stigs from TVs Top Gear. I think they look like white one inch men with huge white heads.

I can tell the look on Tim’s face is reflected in mine as they start coming out the kitchen and filling the hall. What the hell? I’m frozen. I’m not even exaggerating. They’ve done something and I can’t move. Nothing. Not my arm, not my legs.

Oh god the kids. I can’t see behind me, but I imagine they’re scrurrying for the lounge. They’re so quiet though.

‘Muuuuuum. Where’s my Nesquik?’ It’s the last thing I hear before I black out.


When I come to, everything’s white and cold…

So. What do you think. I wasn’t really sure how to end it, so I thought, so I thought I’d go down the ambiguous route. Please leave a comment, I’d love to hear what you think.

Oh, and if you don’t know what my aliens look like – this is the Stig:

ROW80 – Round Three – Check-In 1

I was a day late posting goals, and now I’m a day late posting my first check-in. This is not a habit I want to get into. I want to check in twice a week – ON TIME. I didn’t seem to manage that too well in Round Two, so that’s going to be a huge aim for the next 77 days.

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday I did… well… um… nothing. I have a great excuse. Well 2 great excuses. Tuesday was my birthday and I was busy all day. Or lazy and busy, depending on which way you want to look at it. Yesterday I met up with a friend that’s been travelling for months after work, and am just so busy at work I didn’t get to take a lunch break.

Today I didn’t have an excuse. I finished work crazily early (yay for Health & Safety managers who want to bail on Fire seminars) so was going to come home, tidy up, write and blog. Instead, I got home and finished New Moon by Stephanie Meyer. Then made dinner, then wrote and now I’m blogging. I don’t think that’s too bad. The flat’s not tidier, but at least I’ve started ROW80 again. And started it with a bang.

From no words for three days, I jumped into 1192 for the day. Pretty much catching up. WOO HOO! Now if I can just keep this up…

How are you getting on?

ROW80 – Round Three – GO!!!!

Oh dear. I’m already a day behind on both blogging and writing. Only one way to fix that…

It only seems like yesterday that ROW80 Round 2 finished, and yet we’re now on Round 3. How did that happen? I’m ashamed to say that I’ve done nothing since the last round. Well, I’ve done lots of reading, but no writing. No editing. None of my writing course. It’s a good thing I’m going to get on with Round 3 eh!

So, goals for this round? Last time I had weekly goals equivalent to 7x daily goals. Each ‘day’ was 300 words, or 30 minutes of either my writing course, or editing. I like how that worked, so want to stick to the weekly goals, but I found it hard to get that many last time, so I’m going to reduce it, so I don’t feel lIke I’m always behind.

This time, I’ll go for weekly goals, this time equivalent to 5x days, and I’ll cut it down to 250 words, or 25 minutes or the writing course or editing (I like my numbers to be similar to track easily).

So there are my goals. Are you doing ROW80 Round Three? If so, what are your goals? If not, why not? Have a look here: