Saturday, 30 April 2011

Short stories, Mad Hatters, a saree and a Royal wedding

Good morning, in Britain we're awaking to the morning after the big wedding the day before. Sorry, but I've got to admit I loved every minute of it. I'm a sucker for history and what better than a Royal wedding, I know many people were complaining about so much coverage yesterday but oh, it was so beautiful. O.K., that's now out of my system I'll get back to the main topic, my writing week. I've had a good one, one that I'm proud of and hope to repeat next week.

I returned to work after the Easter holiday, and was able to continue the daily routine that I had followed during the two weeks break. I managed to edit another chapter of 'Her', as well as edit and polish two short stories aimed at women's magazines. Both titles were aimed at the same magazine so I have printed and prepared for posting a week apart. I'll send one this week, the other next week. I really don't want them landing on the editor's desk at the same time. I've been told that editors tend to choose the best one when presented with multiple submissions, whereas when presented separately, each piece is judged on it's own merit. The other thing to bear in mind when approaching magazines is the setting season - editors work several months ahead of the current season much like the fashion industry. You have to make sure that the editor has time to read, discuss further before your stories sell by date for this year. Both of mine have are set around Autumn time - allowing plenty of time to hit their print run should I be lucky enough to be selected.
Though it can take some magazines three months too say 'yay or neigh' to your work.

I took one of the short stories 'Vibes and Jibes' to the writers' group for a critique - thankfully they picked up on a couple of typos and a suggestion regards a character's name. I'd called her Jenny but had shortened it to Jen on several occasions. You might avoid such advice from other poets and writers, but honestily it is worth listening too. However perfect you think your work is, they are a sample of your potential audience, so any detail that they don't like, should be changed to enhances your finished work. It takes time, believe me, I felt so uncomfortable reading my work aloud and then listening to advice - good or bad. I used to get embarrassed by compliments about my work and any criticism aided my progress. Thankfully at our writing group no one is forced to read their work, you can simply attend and listen - which is lovely way to build your confidence.

Whilst at the group meeting Malcolm Dewhirst announced that the final sixteen poems for The Polesworth Poetry Trail have been selected. Malcolm and Adrian Wallbank from Warwick University, who is also a ranger for the Pooley Heritage centre had the job of choosing which poems, fitting which themes, fitted which site locations - tough call, given that 56 poems were created. Anyhow, the final 16 poems have been shown to the local council committee who agreed with the choice and just the final stage, which is the nod from the site sculpter - then the big announcement!!!!! Yikes, it is nerve wracking waiting for the outcome -
I'll let you know as soon as anything is announced.

Finally, I have completed number 39 of my 'April Fool List' - I have purchased a saree. My grandmother is Indian, so I've always tried to embrace her culture as a part of my origins - even though she seems to ignore everything. Anyway, I've always wanted to buy a saree - the rich colours, gold threads and detailing appeal to me and this morning I bought one. It won't be here for a few weeks but when it is I shall be attempting to fold it correctly and may even take it with me as a change of clothes when I complete number 19 - to be photographed professional as I was at 21 and 30 years of age.  

Today, I plan to dedicate the day to my novel 'Her' - I had the joy of printing draft four as a hard copy and it was exciting seeing the 230 pages of A4 paper - with polishing that will be my novel.

Wishing you a great writing week - enjoy!

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Writing, bunnies, bees and fingers crossed, a hot air balloon

Good morning folks, I'm hoping you've all had a good writing week, because I certainly have. Whilst on Easter holiday I've made the most of my time. I've got back into editing my novel every day - I have surprised myself by some of the lines I've written but had forgotten that I'd written. - if that makes sense! I've literally stated at home, edited, reading and writing - I hear what you're saying, that it isn't healthy to spend such a huge amount of time on your own but honestly it has been a wonderful break. Regards my editing I've managed to move forward by a huge chunk which in turn motivates me to continue on this daily routine squeezed around the day job.

Monday evening saw the arrival of eight tiny bunnies, born to one of my Dutch rabbits. I bred her 30 days before hand and wow, they were beautiful. Between writing and reading, I haven't been able to help myself sneaking a peek at the nest four or five times a day. Each bunny will be sold at eight weeks, so I'll let you know how they progress.

Busy bees - which I have certainly been is week but the delightful news is that my husband has purchased a couple of hives in the local area. He already has an allotment with chickens but now his bees will be joining him. I, in turn will be taking full advantage of their honey, plus their arrival inspired a short story, which is always a bonus.

Today at dusk, I should be going on a hotair balloon ride, number 28 on my April Fool list. I booked it last week and fingers crossed if the beautiful weather holds out I shall be up in the skies over Staffordshire. My mind has already begun composing a short story relating to hot air ballooning, so who knows I may get a second story this week inspired by my own life - which is what being a writer is all about.

I shall leave you now, so that I can return to my editing, and fingers crossed I'll be up, up and away in a beautiful balloon by dusk.

Quick up-date: the hot air ballooning didn't happen due to an increase in wind speed :-( but hey, look on the bright side I now get more time to look forward to it!

I've spent the day polishing a short story called 'Hush little baby, don't say a word...' which I shall post this week for consideration in a women's magazine. It'll be one more 'little something' out there doing the rounds.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

April Fool list, Mad Hatters and a family tree

Hello, on a beautiful. Spring day in the UK. I was up with the lark preparing for a visit from the step-kiddies. I have to change my routine a little when they are here as needs must. Anyhow, I was at my desk for eight and did a decent stint till half ten editing the next chapter of 'Her'. I wish I could bottle the feeling of triumph when I plan to write and actually do sit down to the job - I finish on a high. I have begun two smaller projects to run alongside my novel writing, the first I have briefly mentioned being my 'April Fool' list, 40 things to do in my 40th year - so far I've completed a couple - go to Ireland, well I woke up there on my 40th so that is ticked off. I have booked a hot air balloon ride, tickets to see Macbeth at RSC Stratford-upon-Avon, and sent the application for Olympic tickets. I've also drunk a pint of Gunniess, risen in a horse drawn carriage, bought a piece of art. Some things I need to achieve are roll sideways down a huge hill, see a giant panda, finish my novel, ride on the back of a motor bike and learn to whistle using my fingers! I shall keep you up-dated as I go - my small book will contain a page or two describing each event.

My second little project relates to my family tree - I've been unearthing my roots for many years now and wish to use this as a background for a family book. In short, I have decided to write letters to my ancestors. In each I'll chat about my relationship to them and little snippets that I have learnt or heard on my journey. I have written the first letter to my great grandmother Florrie Barber, who very naughtily led people to believe her name was Florence when it was actually Flora. I plan to write one letter a week, each with a little photograph and see how far I get. The nice thing about each letter is that it is quick and easy to write so can form warm up to my main writing sessions.

Last Wednesday I attended the fortnightly meeting of Mad Hatters Writing group - it was nice to have all members attend as we've all been busy elsewhere, so a catch up was long over due. I read my Pooley Hall poem to those who hadn't heard it and was able to explain the various inspirations. I was pleased with the feedback and am now eagerly awaiting any news from the organizer. I understand that 16 poets created 56 poems - amazing. I am sending a copy of my poem to the owners of Pooley Hall as a 'Thank you' for allowing me to visit.

Can I say a huge welcome to visitors around the world, my little blog is being read in Russia, Iran, India, Alaska and of course, England.

Have a good writing week - I'm currently on holiday so am planning lots of writing sessions.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Poetry submission, Austen and Bath

As you know, for a number of weeks I've been focussing my efforts on poetry in an attempt to produce two poems to submit for consideration for The Polesworth Poetry Trail. Well, the deadline was Friday, 8th April and I'm proud to say that I did submit two poems - as promised. I have to be honest, the second one was a real struggle and did make me feel like giving up several times but I'd set myself a goal and submit it I did. I wrote a poem about Pooley Hall and the other about a pit pony called Jutt. Whether they are chosen or not, I feel that I've achieved my aim. I'll let you know how they fare.

This weekend, I have been lucky enough to spend the entire weekend in Bath, Wiltshire attending a friend's birthday celebrations. So, I made the most of my trip by attending the Jane Austen guided tour - a walk about Bath to all the places mentioned in Austen's fabulous novels. Those that know me are aware that I a certain fascination with particular authors, Austen being one of them. Anyhow, the walking party of twenty five had a beautiful day in which to enjoy the extensive knowledge of Maureen our guide, what I wasn't expecting was the ignorance of some. This is where my hubby would be rolling his eyes at my 'literature snobbery' but I swear literature snobbery had nothing to do with it - it was basic manners. Surely, if you go on a walking tour of Jane Austen you've at least heard of the woman before hand...- shocking to think one middle aged woman hadn't. Anyway,I had a wonderful time and would thoroughly recommend it. Afterwards, I sat outside Bath Abbey listening to a young man playing the saxophone busking to the passing crowds - he was amazing and he was no older than ten... honest, he was so small filling such a vast area with his delightful music. This is not unusual in Bath, they have street performance on virtually every corner: hula hoop lady was dancing to a fiddler, arcordian players, guitar and trumpet duo, I've even seen, and I kid you not, a young man playing a series of plastic buckets and he created some beautiful drumming. I looked for the chalk drawer, who is usually about but sadly not this weekend - he always makes me feel like Mary Poppins. As you can tell I had a wonderful time soaking up the atmosphere and indulging myself with some quality me time.

So, my plans for the next few weeks are to return to my own project, happy in the knowledge that I've completed the poetry workshops, have gained a further appreciation of poetry and feel inspired.

Monday, 4 April 2011

40 - it's fabulous

Hi guys, yes, yes, a day late but for the last time, I promise. I arrived home from Dublin late last night, having celebrated my 40th birthday in a three day stay. I loved it. The people, the fact everything, I couldn't name a thing I didn't like. My birthday, which was Friday, was jammed packed with business (as in busy bee, not work), hubby surprised me with an IPad2 OMG was I shocked, then a trip around the Gunniess storehouse and the 'Gravity bar' to enjoy a pint of the black stuff. Heading home we jumped into a horse drawn carriage ahhhhhhhhhh, a first for me - which was a lovely way to arrive back at the hotel. On the evening  we visited the Gaitey theatre to see 'Fiddler on the roof' which was an outstanding performance by the cast - standing ovation lasted for ages.

Anyhow, I return home thoroughly spolit, well rested and eager to put pen to paper to complete the poem on Pooley. The deadline is this Friday, so I'd like to complete by Thursday night as I am away this week in Bath. As you know, I've tried on numerous occasions to draft a piece but with so much information buzzing about my head it is proving more difficult than I'd imagined. Tonight I shall spend some time returning to my current jottings and see what evolves. I'll lay my stall out for you, so far I have a free verse, the framework being the characters that have lived in Pooley. I have added a few lines from Shakespeare's prologue to Romeo and Juliet as a hint of the Shakespeare connection between Burdett and Cockayne. I've added in sound from the spring cuckoo calling Co-kayne, details of named rooms collected on my visit, the lattice windows; handcrafted and blown an age ago. All this divided into two stanzas much like the original build and the 1509 rebuild. Add in a few details about comedies, tragedies and poems by Sir Aston, a chapel blessed by Osanna and Pope Urban IV and you can see I've got a whole host of characters within 20 lines. So tonight, I have my work cut out to sculpt this poem into a suitable piece.

But before I go, I have devised a novel list of 40 'things' that I must complete during my 40th year - humour me, please. Anyway, I've listed a whole load of 'things' that I'd like to accomplish this year, some big, some quite everyday but all worthy on my list for one reason or another. I have decided that as I complete each 'thing' I shall write a chapter about it's completion and compile a book as I go - so 'The April Fool List'  has been offically started, I'll bring you up to date as and when I cross things off.

Right, I shall love you and leave you for now - I've got a poem to edit.