Sunday, 1 May 2016

Bacchus, Kim Nash and a room full of book lovers...

Question: What do you get if you cross a room full of book lovers, a themed location and Kim Nash? Answer: a delightful Saturday filled with chat and laughter. Seriously, you do. Kim Nash, publicity manager for Bookouture, had the Midas touch yesterday bringing together an array of authors and book bloggers. It was my first invite to her afternoon shenanigans, which have previously occurred in Birmingham and London; it won't be my last!

The location was the Bacchus bar beneath The Burlington hotel, conveniently opposite Birmingham's New Street station.  On entering the themed bar with its mixture of Roman and Egyptian decor it felt like another world; gone was the bustle of the city centre and hello, new people!

Instantly, I recognised so many book bods and soon the air was filled with excited chatter. Though, walking about with a white sticky label positioned above your right boob which others openly peer at as a name reminder guarantees joviality - the vino helped, thanks to the god of wine.

I was delighted to catch-up with the lovely Bella Osborne and Helen Barrell - who were on fire regards conversation. I really wouldn't like to make sense or explain the sequence of our conversation as we belly laughed through numerous topics: Dermot O'Leary, Welsh receptionists working at STD clinics, poisonings, scientists (including Davy and a certain, Ms Barrell), RNA conference, house sales, book blog tours, sailor tattoos, Chesterfield station, Rod Stewart, Bono, parking tokens and mishaps whilst riding the London underground. Phew! Seriously, there was much more but slightly too saucy to mention the Italian guy's phone call and Johnny Depp.

It was great to see the girls again, and three o'clock arrived all to soon. I'll definitely be attending Kim's future events and would recommend other authors to come along and meet the book crowd.

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Hibernation, recharge and tadah!

Have you ever craved total peace and quiet from the outside word? Where life becomes simple and your mind focuses only on the things that matters? Me too. So at New year I took the decision to extend my Christmas holiday feeling and put up the 'closed sign' to the rest of the world and have had a month of reflection.

I banished the daily buzz of electronics, the continual blast of news reports, the frantic stream of emails, the snippets of info via messaging - basically the interruptions to my creative life. The interruptions that stop me in my tracks,  divert my thoughts and effort from my chosen task.

January has officially been my hibernation month, much like my colony of pet tortoises.

I instantly regained time, I've focussed on the task in hand and enjoyed not having the constant up-to-date info on what's happening outside of my heart and mind. Instead I've written, planned and read. Bliss.

As February dawns I have emerged and woken from hibernation, like the tortoises, with a huge feeling of renewed energy and creative focus. I feel I've undergone a detox of the modern world and am now ready to tackle 2016 - so, happy New year and Tadah!

Saturday, 26 December 2015

My year in reading books 2015

A few years ago I complained that academic study had wiped out my life-long passion for reading. As 2015 draws to a close, I can honestly say - I'm cured. I've managed to read 43 books since January and am proud of the variety of genres selected; I've definietly avoided my old trick of sticking to a handful of beloved authors.

This simple app has helped turned about my reading mind-set. Linking up with other readers in a specific book group has helped to vary my monthly read and initiated my 'War and Peace' challenge, which I'll finish reading this Summer.

It's surprising how many titles you intend to read and for how many years only to remain on the shelf untouched. Thanks to the book group many of mine have now been dusted off and polished off allowing space for others.

My reading challenge for 2016 is to complete the alphabet of author names, alongside my W&P challenge. I've got a funny feeling I may struggle on certain letters but hey, let's give it a go!

To view My year in books 2015 take a browse - you might spot a title that you're interested in.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Love Stories Awards - 'New Talent Award 2015'

It has finally happened, the dreamlike state that arrives when someone calls your name. The stomach swirl, the trembling lip and yes, tears of joy arrived last Wednesday evening. For me, it was the beautiful Emily Yau announcing the winner of the 'New Talent Award 2015' at the Love Stories Awards. And I'm delighted to say, I've been perched on cloud nine ever since - I have no plans to return to planet Earth!

For those not present at the awards near Piccadilly Circus, this 'soppy head' did indeed begin to cry, afterwards many authors mentioned how touching it was to see and remember that initial feeling of recognition as an unpublished writer.

I was stunned. I had attended purely to celebrate being one of the shortlisted nine - I hadn't even planned a 'thank you' let alone an acceptance speech! But I stand by my few words 'of thanking those present who have supported me' - you have each given a little bit of yourself, be it interest, time or advice, to aid my writing journey.

Congratulations to Tora Williams, Debbie Fuller-White and Emily Kerr - I was honoured to be amongst such a stunning shortlist! A big 'Thank you' to Sarah Taylor and Kate Nash for organising the Love Stories Award but the biggest 'thank you' goes to my dear RNA friend, Bella Osborne for sharing a very special moment prior to the announcement and drying my tears afterwards.

As I write, my beautiful 'New Talent Award' sits alongside my other treasures - it'll be a constant reminder of happy memories and a boost towards my next goal!

Bella Osborne, moi and Tora Williams at Love Stories Awards

Sunday, 1 November 2015

NaNoWriMo 2015 - let the fun begin!

It has arrived! The beautiful day which I look forward to each year: 1st November. I know it might sound sad to many writers but seriously NaNo is one of the first dates I circle in any new diary. You may have clicked by now, I simply love NaNo!

Last night, I did my usual trick for Halloween and took myself off to bed at nine o'clock - pretty early for a grown adult on a Saturday night but necessary for a NaNo starter. My alarm rang at 23:30 and up I jumped. Seriously, hubby laughs his socks off each year at my enthusiasm to sit alone in my writing room waiting for midnight. But joking aside, it's what I do. I call up websites to ensure I have the precise time, I get my word document loaded and then sit waiting with that first post-it note, on which I've planned my opening chapter. In my head, I wait alongside thousands of others all eager to let the words flow. On the chime of midnight, we're off.

I'd promised myself I'd write for an hour, like last year, but the words just kept coming! I eventually came out of the 'zone' at 3:30am... with 3520 words under my belt! OMG where did they appear from? It was as if the word fairy had flown in through the window and sneakily popped them down.
Anyway, by 4am I returned to the land of Nod.

Roll on this morning and bling the words just flowed for a second session - long may this continue. Though from past experience I know it won't. I know that in next thirty days there will be unforeseen crisis, sheer tiredness and a muse that'll go AWOL when needed. I know there are parties and events booked into the calendar which I'll need to work around plus, the day-job to juggle. Putting all the obstacles aside, I also know that there's an unlimited amount of excitement, enthusiasm and writing delight awaiting the next thirty days. Where my writing buddies will encourage and support my crazy ass tweets at ridiculous o'clock when I've reached another mile stone. Where my husband will smile at my antics and the dog will scowl from the chair having to wait for his walk.

One additional feature to NaNo 2015 is my volunteering to support a newbie during the month to ensure they have the best chance of completing. There were so many years I dreamed of completing NaNo and one failed attempt before Helen Phifer held my hand throughout NaNo 2012 ensuring success. In turn, I've offered to do the same for other newbies so they can experience the sheer thrill and madness of completing NaNoWriMo 2015.

I don't apologise if this isn't your thing, because it wouldn't do for us all to be exited about the same thing. But in recent years both of my completed novels started on 1st November as NaNo drafts - now, why would I look a gift horse in the mouth when it's a golden opportunity to let my imagination fly and result in a draft one.

To join the madness check out the link:NaNoWriMo 2015

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Love Stories Awards: shortlisted 'New Talent Award'

It's been a few weeks since I updated but please forgive me... as I have news! It has taken the week for the information to sink in but I have been shortlisted in the Love Stories Awards 2015 for 'New Talent Award'! I'm both stunned and delighted to see my name amongst the lucky nine selected and doubly honoured that I'm amongst such talented writers.

The ceremony takes place on Wednesday 18th November in central London so, I have a couple of weeks to enjoy the anticipation of such an event.

Good luck to Tora Williams, Alison May and Sheryl Browne who also belong to the RNA Birmingham Chapter.

As always I have to juggle writing with the day-job but I've completed my request for leave - fingers crossed it will be granted.

For full details of other writers shortlisted for the array of awards Love Stories Awards 2015

In the meantime I need to crack on with my projects as NaNoWriMo is fast approaching which will keep me out of trouble until 30th November.

For further details regards NaNoWriMo

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Competitions - chicken soup for the creative soul

Ever wanted a mini escape from your lengthy writing project? I have on plenty of occasions usually when my characters are bickering, the plot has fallen flat and the conflict arc is missing a major meltdown. On those occasions I take myself off 'project' for a day or so to work on something fresh and more immediate regards completion e.g. the short story.

The short story has become a mini crutch within my writer's tool kit to provide instant gratification to my imagination. Over the years I have written many but this year I decided that I would only write a short story that would be sent into the big wide world, so every story became a competition entry. Or rather every quality competition became a potential comforter for those additional moments of creativity.

I have a mini system, but you knew that, to note where and when I've seen forth coming competitions; duly noting the details so when my short story 'chicken soup' required moment strikes I'm pre-prepared. It feels great to plot, plan, draft and redraft in a short space of time. I always feel refreshed to return to my longer project knowing I've had a burst of 'something else'. Competition deadlines are announced so far ahead of time I can diarise time to reread and polish the story before submitting, whilst happily returning and plodding with my longer W.I.P. with renewed gusto!

Anyway, it has worked for me. In recent months I have been shortlisted twice in Writing Magazine for their monthly competitions and feel quite chuffed that my 'chicken soup' for the creative soul material has proved productive.