Saturday, 28 February 2009

So far and plans for March

Is it really March tomorrow? Time to set myself a new target.
So far this year I have submitted 11 bits of work, 5 in January and 6 in February. Sadly 3 of them have been rejected.
1. The WW competition entry with the critique by Sue Moorcroft.
2. A tip in TaB where I got the email response that made it easier to take.
3. A story that I sent to The Yellow Room where I received feedback saying that my characterisation was good.
The other 5 stories, 2 articles and 1 poem(or rather 6 poems as a showcase) are still out there.
In addition to my submissions, the first rewrite of BTL has been completed and the first 10 chapters are currently with my "reader" and I am awaiting feedback.
That's not bad - for me anyway.
So in March, to earn my reward I will submit 7 pieces of work (comes after 5 and 6 so seems sort of logical) and start work on the next phase of BTL. That second part might seem a bit wishy washy but I'm not sure what the next stage will be. I don't know if I will need to go through the whole thing again or if I should concentrate on the things I noted that I wanted to change. Either way I said that I would give myself 2 weeks off it so that I can look at it with a fresh perspective. That means that I won't be looking at it until next Sunday at the earliest.
I won't be doing anything much today though. Himself is taking me out for a little retail therapy (so what if it's only soil and paint - not for the same job I hasten to add) and then a spot of lunch. It's to help cheer me up after baby bird's departure yesterday. Himself is such a lovely man and I am so lucky.

Friday, 27 February 2009

Time off and baby birds

I haven't been around blogland much this week so I thought I'd take the chance to catch up. My reason for not visiting much has been that Himself and I have been on holiday from work this week. That has also lead to a distinct lack of writing this week too. I did write on Sunday and edited a short story on Monday but I think that's been it. I don't feel bad about that though because, well I just don't. I've also had other things on my mind this week. I am both unhappy and glad to report that my eldest has flown the nest. He told me on Monday and he moved out today. It's left a bit of a vaccuum - maybe I'll write about it. There was something quite sad about one less plate at tea time.
I had a rejection this week but that's okay too. I got positive feedback from the editor who liked my characterisation (they all say that) but it just wasn't right for them. They said that the plot was a bit "slight." I think that was the word they used I think but I might be wrong. I read it and took it on board and then went back to worrying if baby bird's wings are strong enough to support him. But don't worry, I'll go back and take it in properly in a couple of days time.
I've had my week off though now and when the weekend is over I'll knuckle down to work again, both the day job and the writing.
Apologies also to anyone who's comments I haven't replied to. I'll get caught up this weekend.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

A second income

When I've been paid for a piece of writing in the past I don't know what's happened to the money. I think that most of it went into the "Rome Fund." We'd been planning that trip for a year and then had to postpone it for a year and I don't think I'd earned anything before then. Anyway it was just sort of eaten up and even if it did fill the holiday coffers which meant that we could afford to treat ourselves I didn't feel like I was earning a second income.
Well that all changed this week. I must be earning a second income, albeit an incredibly modest one because today I used money earned from writing to pay a bill. Last week I was paid for a story and today I used all but 5p of it to buy the road tax.
I never imagined that giving the DVLA money would mean so much to me.

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Progress report

I have just finished the rewrite of BTL. Or should that be the first rewrite. There are still some things that I want to have another look at, chapter 26 for instance. Anyway, I just wanted to let you all know. I have gone from doing a chapter maybe two each week (Sunday's are the only day that I can get a real crack at it) to racing though it because I wanted to know what happened. The book was finished over a year ago and I couldn't remember exactly what had happened. But I wanted to know. Also there was a scene between two characters towards the end where I found myself sobbing. I cared so much about what was happening to them.
This is not a finished project by any stretch of the imagination. I know that. There are still things that need to be looked at and possibly altered. And then the really hard work of finding an agent/publisher will begin.
What do you think? Agent or publisher?
I just wanted you all to share in my euphoria in the fact that my creation is one step nearer completion.

Friday, 20 February 2009

Mixed messages

I'm a great believer in a)"being prepared" and b)the power of the mind.
"Yeah, and?????" I hear you cry.
Well, my thinking on this very good morning (hope I've not hexed the whole day) is that as I don't keep "proper" records I am not "being prepared" and I'm sending my mind mixed messages.
Okay I can hear you all asking what I'm banging on about so here goes.
The only record that I keep of my writing etc is a spreadsheet that records what I send where, if they accepted it, how much they paid me and when. I never keep records of expenditure.
By doing that I think that I am sending my mind mixed messages. It's like saying that I don't need to do that because I'm never going to be successful enough for anyone official to be interested in it. I know that the mind has great effects on what happens to a person. (This is not something that I think, it is something that I know from experience.) I've said before that if mega success doesn't come for me in this field then I'll be okay with that and I will because there are things out there that are so much more important but I would like to think that if the mega success does come I'd at least be a little bit prepared for the taxman.
I'm going to buy envelopes and stamps at lunch time, maybe I'll buy a small ledger too.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

A different viewpoint

Last week when I was banging on my rewrite of BTL (for a change - sorry about that) Captain Black asked if it had been read by a "trusted reader." Well it will be now. Some time ago a dear friend that I trust read the first 3 chapters and gave me some feedback which I took into consideration and prompted me to change a few things. She did say that she would like to read more when I was ready to show her so today I gave her the first 10 chapters. I'll let you know what she thinks when she gets back to me.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Something said.

I don't often write poetry and I never submit it. But today something asked me why. The truth is I don't know why apart from the fact that I don't have a lot of raw material, I don't know if it's any good and I didn't know where to send it. Then something made me look in my "Poems" folder and I saw that I did actually have a fair bit of raw material. Something also pointed out that until I sent it out how would I ever know if it was any good and hadn't I recently read an article about a poetry publishing house. All very true so tomorrow I will be submitting poetry for the first time. Because Something (deliberate capital letter to denote the fact that Something has taken on a persona of it's own) told me to.

Rant followed by request

Ooooohhhh!!!!!! This is so hard.
Okay it's not hard really but I was just feeling the need to be a bit a dramatic artiste/creative type and I didn't much fancy lopping an ear off.
This is my problem.
I am editing BTL and I have realised about ten minutes ago that I seem to be getting through this rewrite much quicker now than I had been when I was doing the early stages. Now, it could be that the early chapters were really rubbish and needed a lot of work on them while the part I am on at the moment is just brilliant. Somehow I doubt it. Do you think that maybe I'm rushing it because I'm keen to send it off to the agent that I was going on about the other day. (I am sort of thinking out loud here so please bare with me. Do however feel free to jump in at any time.)I think that I am rushing it. Yes definitely now that I've put it like that I think that I am. There was a point in my last chapter when I thought "hang on that happened a bit quick didn't it" so if I'm thinking that then readers but more importantly in the first instance agents probably will too.
Deep sigh.
Yes, I am rushing it. There are parts that need changing but I'm going to plod on 'til the end and then go back. I went over and over the first 3 chapters until I was heartily sick of them so I don't want to make the same mistake again.
Okay so that's that drama over now I would like some more hard and fast advice rather than just the kind listening of friends to someones rant.
I have a problem with chapters.I made the mistake of just writing the book without any chapter breaks so now I am busily trying to fit them in. What advice can you give me about the best place to do this. Is it when you move onto a different aspect of the story? Or would some of you do it a different way? I would love to hear from anyone who can help. I think that i am happy with my chapters but I would like a different perspective.
Thanks as always for listening.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Best magazine

Does anyone have any idea what Best's turnaround time is like at the moment. They've had a story of mine for 6 months and I still haven't heard anything. I know that they were a little backed up before Christmas but I just wondered if anyone had any news.

Fighting the urge.

As I've told you before it is my plan and my hope to have my book ready to go out to agents and publishers by the end of the year and I've been plodding along with my rewrite quite nicely. How ever (elongated word) I have been given a heads up about an agent and now I'm feeling ...oh I don't know what the word is but I'm feeling it. I had been given the names of two agents to try and I had sent it to the first one who said that they really liked the writing but weren't in the position to take on anyone at that time but I didn't try the second. i found the two names written on a scrap of paper the other day and it was like karma or something. I want to send my novel off and have it accepted and be loved by the literary world right this second but I know that it's probably not ready yet and so I don't want to send it off until it is. I am by very nature an impulsive person who hates to wait for anything that I want so it's very hard to fight the urge. I am trying though. I'm trying to tell myself that I cannot send it off until....
So far I have come up with - the first rewrite is completed.
Anyone for anymore.
BTW it's snowing again here - again and my oldest friend was laid of yesterday without any warning. Just ta ta and go home. It sucks.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

A great way to focus the mind

When I decided that I would set myself writing targets each month with a reward if I was successful, I never imagined that I would be so successful with it. Today is only the 10th and I have already completed my writing tasks for the month. The promise of a reward is really focusing the mind on getting the job done. Before the month was over I wanted to submit three pieces of work and edit four chapters of BTL. I have just finished that when I emailed off my third submission. However I think that I will be harder on myself next month and give myself more to do. It doesn't mean that I won't be doing any writing for the rest of the month though. I'll be working on my bonus for the rest of the month.
BTW my reward this month was a full hour curled up on the end of the sofa with my feet up. a pot of tea and my book.
Some of you may have noticed that my January reward also included reading time and that is because that is something that I really precious to me. By the time I've been at work all day and then I've come home and taken care of my men I usually have to grab the odd minute here and there to read a book or magazine. having a whole block of time to indulge myself is a real treat.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Double figures

I got a lovely surprise when I came by here this morning and discovered that I've made it into double figures - followers that is. I can't tell you all how chuffed that makes me. I love you all and thank you for being interested in me.

All tips welcome

I was just sitting at my kitchen table (it doubles as an office on Sunday mornings) editing another chapter of BTL and I started to think about how, hopefully this time next year it will be out there trying to find a home. So I then started thinking(okay there may not have been a lot of editing going on at this time) that want to do it properly. I don't want to waste my time by sending it out to the wrong people in the wrong way. So what I would like from you learned folk is any tips that you may be willing to share on the art of preparing a manuscript and choosing the right agent to send it to.
I am currently about 60% of the way through my first re-write so I have way to go yet but one of my writing aims for 2009 is to have it ready for submission by the end of the year.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

A Me Day

I don't usually work the day job on Thursdays so I usually try to write as much as I can, especially in the mornings - after I've done the grocery shopping because we still have to eat. Anyway, today I've given myself a day off from that. I'm going to have a "me" day. I was saying to someone the other day how I missed the days when I'd tidy the house up a bit, do a bit of ironing, maybe bake a cake and wait for the kids to get home from school. Life seemed so uncomplicated then but sadly those days are long gone. Now I work full time because even though we said that we wouldn't when I went back to work we spend full time money so I can't just jack it in. I actually do enjoy my job and it is very worthwhile but now and then I do hanker for the life of a housewife. So that's what I'm doing today. I've just stopped by here to say hello after checking if I'd been paid for a story I sold recently and sadly I haven't so I had to ping off an email asking if there was a problem. But apart from those two things I'm doing nothing else on the computer today. I may pick up a notebook later because I used to from time to time when I was a housewife but I doubt it. No, I'm off to make an orange and sultana cake, clean the bath and do a bit of ironing. That should take me to lunchtime and as Himself is here for that today I shall make something nice for that (what instead of the dross that you usually dish up I hear you cry.) I might even get the hoover out later. Steady on though, there's no need to go mad is there. Then it'll be tea time by which time I'm sure I'll be bored with all the domesticity so maybe I'll pick up a pen then. We'll see.
I highly recommend that everyone has a "me" day from time to time. I actually have a "me" week every year in April. It's fantastic.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Easier to take

Remember Womag's post the other week about filler opportunites? Well I thought I'd give it a go with Take a Break. I sent off my tip and my picture and a couple of days later received a rejection email. The point of this post isn't to complain that my tip wasn't used because come on how many brand new tips are there out there. There was always going to be a good chance that it wasn't new. I mean I got it from somewhere. No the point of this post is that I actually got a reply. I thought that I would hear back from them if it was accepted but not if it wasn't. It makes the rejection easier to take - somehow.

Sunday, 1 February 2009

What Sue thought

I received my critique back from Sue Moorcroft yesterday and this is what she thought. True to my word I will be sharing it all with you - he good and the bad.

Presentation: nice clear font, indented paragraphs and double line-spacing. Good grammar, punctuation and spelling.
Wordcount: Just right.
Dialogue: good. Advances the story and adds to the characterisation.
Characterisation; good. Christine is somebody I feel I could meet any day. Because you remain firmly in her viewpoint we are party to her thoughts and emotions, which is always engaging.
Overall: you have a flowing style with a good command of language. But i don't feel that this is the right story for Woman's Weekly. The plot is slight and sort of upside-down - instead of there being a problem that is solved, there's a good situation that gradually deteriorates into a disappointment. Instaed of ending the story with a glow, i feel fed up.
For this market, you generally need the central character to be instrumental in the resolution that, by reaching a turning point or epiphany, gives rise to a satisfying ending.
I like your writing style and characterisation and with the right story you might well be a future Woman's Weekly writer. Good luck!
Best wishes

So there it is. I'm pleased that she liked the way that I write but a bit disaapointed that she thought it was an unhappy ending. I thought it was ironic. I have to say though that I think it was £3 well spent.