Tuesday, 31 July 2007

More Research Required

I am always amazed when I look at the websites of some other writers by the places that they submit work to. How do they know about all of these markets and magazines? I've never heard of half of them. I think - no - I know that I need to research possible markets more. It's a small enough pond as it is without me ignoring a great chunk of it. (Okay, I know you can't have a chunk of water but you know what I mean.)
Also I'm confused about whether I should submit more to non paying outlets. I have read that especially when you are learning your craft that you should build up your portfolio by getting published wherever you can. I have also read that to give away your work is to devalue it. I suppose that I have to decide which I want more.

Monday, 30 July 2007

A new boy in a new town

Today I created a new character - well not really created because he already lived as someone else. But today I renamed him and moved him to a new location and he is a new person. The plan is that I'm going to write a series of stories with him as the central character (I've already written two.) When I've got a few more maybe I'll be able to sell them to Channel 4 (or similar) and they can turn them into a television series.
How's that for a big oak from a little acorn?

Sunday, 29 July 2007

Harry Potter etc

I've heard a lot of talk about the latest Harry Potter book and the whole Harry Potter phenomenon in general this week. I can't comment on the books because I've never read one but the people I know that have enjoy them. Likewise with the films. I've never read any of the books or seen any of the films because it's not the sort of thing that I am in to. I never liked the Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings either.
I've heard it said that the later Harry Potter books aren't as good as the earlier ones and they only sell because of the hype surrounding them, but as I've already pointed out I'm not qualified to comment on that.
What I will say is that who amongst us would not like even a tiny piece of the success that J K Rowling has had from the writing of this series of books. I'll tell you right now that I would.

Back on track and full of ideas

I'm hopefully going to get back on track with my writing this week, at least that's the plan. Although I didn't do a lot of actual writing last week I did have a lot of time to think and I came up with more ideas for things that I want to write about. The problem with that is they are added on top of all the other things that are already flitting around inside my head and I wonder if I'll ever get chance to write them. I really need to work on better time management. It's a fault that I have in all walks of my life so why should writing be any different?

This week I will

w/c 28/07/2007
  • write 100 words each day on NMBK
  • Create a new setting for a couple of old stories.
  • Submit the short story that I wrote for Writers News (closing date 16th August so I really need to make sure I do this this week.)
  • Edit and resubmit an old story from my short story folder.

Okay so I know this is a bit of a cop out because it's basically the same as what I said I would do last week but the difference is that I'm going to do it this week...promise.

What I did last week

w/c 21/07/2007

I didn't do a lot of writing really last week because there was so much other stuff going on in my life that took priority. I'm not going to beat myself up about that because as important as my writing is to me there are some things that are more important. I did work on NMBK each day so I was pleased with that. I will try and catch up on some extra work this week.
For my efforts last week I give myself 4/10 but I can live with that under the circumstances.

Thursday, 26 July 2007

A Day Off - or not

I thought I'd take a leaf out of Sally Quilford's book and give myself a day off from writing. With all the stuff that I have to take care of today I said to myself this morning when I woke up that today I give myself permission to not write. The thing is that by 11 o'clock I found that I didn't want the day off. By that time I wanted to write.
It was good to know that I didn't have to if I didn't want to though.

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

The message I'm waiting for???

I don't know about you but when I open my mailbox and I see that I have lots of emails I always get the feeling that there's going to be one in there from an editor wanting to buy a story or someone wanting to publish my book. I have been known to get excited in those few seconds before I press the button only to discover that I've won £m's in an internet lottery, some bank that I've never had an account with want me to validate my details, a barrister in Africa wants to give me thousands of pounds that was left to me by some bloke who died in a plane crash etc etc etc. Why? Of the thousands of emails that I've received only 4 have been from editors wanting to buy something I've written. You'd think I'd learn but I haven't checked my emails yet tonight and...well. you never know do you.

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Eating the elephant

One day last week I announced here that I was going to write 100 words on my novel every day. Well, just to keep you up to date, I have done that. Every day I have written the 100 words that I committed myself to and then some. I'm chuffed to bits by it because the novel is coming along and I am happy that I'm getting some discipline into my writing. Okay so I know 100 words isn't a lot but my novel is like eating an elephant and has to be done bite by bite.

Better now

I almost removed my last entry but one of the things that I decided when I started this was that I would write what I was feeling at a particular time honestly. So, I decided to leave it as that was how I was feeling at that particular time. I would just like to add though that I'm now in a much better place (it's not half so dramatic here.)

Doing it for me

Today is a bad day for me. Someone I love dearly is going through something that I cannot help them with. They are alone and at the mercies of others. (That sounds so dramatic but I'm in a dramatic sort of place at the moment.)
However I am so glad that write because I've been able to put what I'm thinking and feeling down on paper and it has helped me. It's not anything that is going to be published or even submitted anywhere, it wasn't written for that. I wrote it to help me and it has.
That is why I write. Whatever may come of my writing I do it because I like to. I do it for me. If I can bring anyone alse some pleasure that is a bonus.

Sunday, 22 July 2007

This week I will...

w/c 22/07/2007
  1. Work daily on NMBK.
  2. Edit a couple of stories that were written about the same character. I need to give him more depth.
  3. Submit the story I edited last week to the Writers News competition.
  4. Go through the Short Story file and give a rejected story another chance, after polishing it up a bit of course.

There's not a lot this week as I have some other stuff going on in my life this week which will come before writing so I'm not sure just how much time I'll get.

What I did last week

No entry yesterday or Friday. On Friday Hinself picked me up from work and took me to dinner which was lovely and then yesterday I'd just had a really bad day at work and all I wanted to do when I got home was curl up on the end of the sofa and go to sleep (which I didn't do incidentally but I didn't put the computer on either.)
Last week I set the following tasks.
1. Write 500 words on NMBK - did that and then some.
2. Type and edit a story I written in Harrogate - did that and submitted it to Shortalk.
3. Go through short story folder and resubmit an old story - did that.
4. Submit a travel aticle to my local paper - I didn't do that. I decided to send a query to the travel editor who replied saying that they'd just done a piece on a similar subject.
5. Edit the story I wrote for a competition - did it.
I also queried a different magazine about an article I plan to write and although they didn't say they wanted to see the prose they do want to see some photographs.
For last weeks efforts I give myself a 7.5

Thursday, 19 July 2007

What I've been thinking

I was thinking today about how I'm feeling about my writing. I'm actually feeling a lot better than I have. I feel like I'm finally starting to get some structure to the way that I work and I am focusing more on the job in hand.
I wonder though if I spread myself too thin (it'll be the only bit of me that is too thin.) What I mean by that is that I try to do too much at once. I have my novel, usually a short story and maybe even an article on the go at the same time. Maybe I need to concentrate my efforts. Having said that, surely they all allow me to hone my craft (okay that might be a bit OTT - maybe I should have said that it helps me practice my writing.) And selling a few stories and articles earns me a bit of pin money while I wait for my big break.

Everyone's a winner

I submitted a short story to a magazine today. It was the one that I referred to in "a good rejection" so maybe this editor will like it too but only more. Hopefully they'll like it enough to buy it.

I've written in my lunch hour for the last three days which is good. It's good not only because I am writing each day but it also makes me move away from what I'm doing and take a break. So it's good for both my jobs - everybody wins.

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

getting the right picture - hopefully

Himself and I are off to Rome in October and I outlined an article that I propose to write and pitched it to an editor. I got a very quick reply saying that unfortunately they have recently printed an article about Rome (sod's law) but they would be very interested in the photographs that I said I could provide to back up my article and have asked to see them. I know it's not an offer of anything and maybe they were just being polite but it made me happy.

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Making the Time

As I've said before I feel that I don't write enough. No I more than feel it, I know it. It's just the old thing about life getting in the way. But following on from yesterday's post I knew that I had to make time to write my 100 words on NMBK even if I didn't write anything else. I DID IT. I thought about how and when I could schedule some writing time and I did it. I don't normally take my book to work but I did today and then just before 3pm when I knew I wouldn't be disturbed I took a late lunch and wrote. I managed way more than 100 words so it was the most satisfying lunch I've had in a long time.

Monday, 16 July 2007

Little and often

As you may or may not know I'm struggling with the mid section of my book NMBK. I have decided to try and write 100 words each day. Okay so I know it's not a lot but if I'm doing something every day it should focus my mind (that's the plan at least.)

Making Each Word Count

I have come to realise that when the word count available is rigid you have to make each word count.
I've just edited a short story for a competition and I can't get the smile off my face. If I say it myself (and lets face it no-one else will...yet) I did a good job. I am very satisfied with the results and the story is much better for it.
I was pretty close to my word limit and there was something else that I wanted to introduce into the story so I knew that I was going to have to do a bit of pruning. By really setting my mind to it I was able to get rid of the odd word here and sentence there. In some cases I changed two words into one that meant the same thing. The result of my pruning was that it gave me the spare words to introduce another element into the main character's life.
A productive hour I think. In fact I think I might have earned a piece of cake with my coffee (just a small one of course.)

Sunday, 15 July 2007

Easy like Sunday morning

A Sunday morning doing just what I want - what bliss.
Himself is at work doing something highly technical that I don't understand at all, the kids haven't surfaced yet and the dog has already been walked. So I've spent the morning working on some short stories, pinged off an email or two to various people including the travel editor of our local paper (I figure there's no point submitting my article to them and having it sit on her desk for a month or two before they tell me they no longer accept freelance work.) Then I decided to type and edit the short story that I mentioned in "This week I'll..." I like it but where I'll place it is another thing all together. Where do you pitch a story about a guy on death row the night before his execution? I'm going to have to think about that one.

This week I will...

w/c 15/07/2007 I will
1. Write 500 words on NMBK - I will try to do more but I'm committing myself to 500. I know at this rate it's going to take me a couple of years to finish it but once I get past this stumbling block of the mid section I'm confident the juices will flow more freely.
2. Type up and edit the story I wrote when I was in Harrogate.
3. Go through my short story folder, polish and resubmit an old story. (It won't sell if it's not out there.)
4. Submit the travel article I wrote about Prague to the local newspaper.
5. Edit and polish the story I wrote for a future Writers News competition.
I can do those. Definately! ( How's that for confidence?)

What I did last week

Last week I set myself the objectives for this week of
1. Writing a letter for the Gaurdian's family supplement.
2. preparing and sending my novel/synopsis to an agent.
3. Writing 1000 words on NMBK.
Well, I did the first two but only managed about 200 words on NMBK.
I did however submit a couple of things that weren't on my list.
I received one rejection.
I currently have 14 pieces of work under consideration.
On a scale of 1 -10 I give myself a 7 for my work on last weeks objectives

Saturday, 14 July 2007

My writing course

I'm doing a correspondence course in writing which has no time limit. Over a year ago I became disillusioned because I felt that I didn't get support from my tutor and I haven't completed an assignment in all of that time. But I thought that I may as well try and complete the course as I'd already paid for it so I committed myself to completing my outstanding assignment by the end of June. I did that and I got my marked assignment back today.
The good news is that I my tutor has changed because my original one has now left. I actually feel like this one critiqued my work rather than just criticised it.
I think that I might actually complete it now.

The right words

The book I am writing has three parts as most things in life do. The first draft of the beginning is finished and I have a fair idea of what I want from the third part but I am really struggling with the middle. Yesterday I wrote, I deleted, I wrote, I deleted again and again. (Deleting isn't quite right because as I write the first draft in long hand with a pen it was really I wrote, I crossed out etc etc but that's a minor detail.) Eventually after about two hours I had 100 words that I was happy with. At least they were the right words...I hope.

Thursday, 12 July 2007

A good day

I had a day off from the day job today and I managed to fit quite a bit in.
There were a few things that needed doing, a quick trip to the supermarket which those of you that read my previous blog about how I feel about supermarket shopping will appreciate was a trial for me. Then there was a wizz round with the hoover, 2 loads of washing and some ironing and I even made pizza from scratch (I made the base and everything.)
Then on top of all that domesticity I did the following literary tasks.
1. Submitted a letter to The Guardian.
2. Submitted a short story to Shortalk.
3. Submitted a short story to The Weekly News
and last but by no means least
4. Submitted my novel to an agent.
On the downside though, a story that I sent to the DC Thomson central submission department was rejected. I actually think the story is good but maybe just the wrong market. I'm consoling myself that a few of the stories I've sold had been rejected by the first editor I sent them to. I'm not sure I like central submission departments, it seems impersonal but if that's the way they want it I guess I'll have to get used to it. I've had to get used to worse things in the past.

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

What I did today.

I wrote a letter to one of the supermarket magazines today. In all honesty I would like the answer to my question about healthy food that's quick to prepare but the £50 voucher makes it really worth the effort (well it's almost money isn't it!) I've also edited a letter that I'm going to send to the family section of The Guardian - I mentioned it in my to do list for this week. One last polish tomorrow and it'll be done. I know a letter is hardly War and Peace but I should give it my best shot.
I had to go to The Borders today and on my way home on the train the sky was really dark with just one shaft of sunlight hitting the sea. It was gorgeous and inspirational. Now I just have to work out what it was inspiring me to do.

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Writing time

If I'm serious about writing for a living, how much time should I give over to writing? Probably more than I should. But the trouble with working full time and having a family to take care of is that writing gets pushed to the bottom of the pile. There's often something else that I should be doing, washing, ironing, hoovering, cooking etc etc. It's not exciting but it has to be done and it's part of being a wife and mother which is afterall my first job. (Just kidding it's not a job it's a pleasure - yeah right, ironing is always a pleasure.)

Monday, 9 July 2007

Norah says no - again and again and...

I keep my rejection slips in a box - I don't know why, I guess it must be the sadist in me. Anyway, I've just gone through this box and discovered that I have more rejections from Norah McGrath at Take a Break than any other editor. In fact last week I git two stories rejected by her on the same day. It's a good job I don't take it personally.

Sunday, 8 July 2007

Under consideration

I hate waiting to find out if a story/article that I've submitted has been successful. I know its a part of this trade that I'm trying to break into but that doesn't mean that I have to like it. There is one thing that I hate more though, and that is when you post something on Monday only to have it returned on Wednesday. When this happens the piece clearly hasn't been considered properly and probably hasn't even been read. Thankfully this has only happened to me a couple of times.
On the other hand it you get your manuscript back and it bares the marks of being held and thumbed and read that is very satisfying. It could of course mean that the editer screwed it into ball before they tossed it to one side, but I choose not to think so.

Someone out there

I've been wondering if I've been talking to myself here and maybe I am but I'vr just discovered that someone has viewed my profile. So if you are that person and you are reading this - hi.

Problems solved

Okay, so in the space of a minute of writing the last entry I have worked out that I was using the time zone for the Pacific coast and not the UK (problem solved.) I have also worked out that I'd disabled the title somehow (don't know how but that also seems to be solved now.)

I might get the hang of this in amillion years.
For the second day running I can't put a title on my blog which is a bit odd and I have no idea why it is happening. Hey Ho!!!

Anyway, on my previous blog I stated that it was Sunday morning but when I viewed it apparently I wrote it on Saturday. Just wanted to point out that this was not the case and I am not bonkers - I just clearly live in as different time zone or maybe even a different temperal plane to the rest of the world. (Maybe that's why I've had nothing accepted for months - I'm existing in parallel universe.)

NOTE TO SELF: Must stop watching re-runs of Star Trek.
Okay, so it's Sunday morning and time to set my writing objectives for this week. I used to set these on Thursdays because thats normally my day off from the day job but Sunday is also a day of and as the start of a week it makes more sense.

So for w/c 08/07/2007 I will

1. Write a letter to the Guardian's family page.

2. Write 1000 words in NMBK (my novel)

3. Prepare and send of the manuscript to the agent that was suggested to me.

I know that doesn't seem a lot but what's the point in setting long lists that I'm never going to have the time to do?

Saturday, 7 July 2007

I'm back from my foray north of the border, tired from 12 hour working days and glad to be home.

Himself and sons number 1 and 2 seem no worse for my absense other than son number 1 hasn't had a cooked meal all week. But hey, he's big enough and ugly enough to take care of himself and I'm sure he hasn't gone hungry.

No reply's from any of the places that are considering my stories/articles but at least that means that there were no rejections I suppose. No acceptances either but you can't have everything.

Sunday, 1 July 2007

Be back soon

A message here to anyone who may read this. Is there anyone out there? Actually this is a bit weird because I'm writing this in a public domain and it possibly will never be read by anyone but me. Never the less, here goes.
I have to go away with the day job tomorrow until Friday and won't have access to the internet so I'll be back in 5 or 6 days time. Hope you miss me.
At least I should get the opportunity to write while I'm away because there'll be nothing else to do in the evenings all alone in my hotel room. (Are you feeling sorry for me yet?)

A good rejection

...if such a thing exists. Actually it does in this case I think. It came via email from the editors personal email address saying that they liked my characterisation and the subject matter but there was no twist in the tail just an interesting message. They told me not to be disheartened because they like my style and would be happy to see more of my work.