Saturday, 31 December 2011

Blog anniversary, New Year wishes and writing resolutions (plus updates)

Happy New Year folks! I absolutely love this day. Firstly, it is my wedding anniversary and secondly, I love the thrill of a brand new year ahead, packed with exciting days and achievements, as yet unknown!

Today is the last day for editing ‘Her’ – so, I’ll be hot footing it to my desk as soon as this blog is up-dated. I’ve had a decent week working on my novel, re-igniting the energy for the project. My next steps towards publishing are planned and I’ll share as I complete each one, promise.

I have written numerous poems this week in an attempt to complete a mini project before the end of year – sadly, I have seven remaining, but I’m looking on the bright side I’ve completed 13! In fact, I’ve completed 33 in total – important, to have a positive outlook on everything.

It is 200 years since ‘Sense and Sensibility’ was published in 1811, so I’ve indulged in lots of Jane Austen celebrations this Christmas by watching numerous film adaptations. I was glued to the screen whilst watching the ‘unseen portrait’ programme, I agree with the experts that the portrait has many similarities to family likeness, connections and the historical period. If it isn’t Jane Austen, full marks to whoever created it for keeping us guessing, hee hee.

Tomorrow, 1st Jan will be the one year anniversary of this blog – I confess, I didn’t think I’d keep up the weekly habit. I thought I’d run dry on material and information to share and that it would possibly die a death within a few weeks. I would encourage all writers to start a blog as it has kept me on track and producing work all year. Believe me, when I say, that during moments of laziness (I don’t have many but every now and then) I have thought, so what are you going to share with the bloggers if you sit watching t.v.? It has motivated me to fire up the laptop and within minutes I’m so glad to have had the ‘boot up the ass’ – at the very thought of you guys. Thank you x.   

Talking of you guys – I can now confirm that I have more returning overseas visitors than I do from my home land. An interesting detail, which I’ve been watching for a few weeks – I’m obviously going to have to work harder to boost my UK visitors. Remember that you can catch me on Twitter too, search for odwyer_author.

As you’d expect, I have a list of New Year resolutions/goals purely for writing – I’ve created a little section on the right hand panel so you can track them with me.

  • To find an agent
  • To complete a my second main project
  • To send out three mini projects
  • To enter six short story competitions
  • Increase networking with novelists
  • To embrace every writing opportunity
Tomorrow dawns the beginning of ‘River of stones’ everyday throughout January 2012 - anyone can participate by taking notice of their daily world and then writing about your discovery. For further details please check out

As you’d expect, I haven’t any writers meeting to attend, so have an entirely free two weeks in which to produce something new and exciting to read. I’ve a couple of ideas for short piece musing about the old brain box – I let you know next week how they’ve geminated and grown.

There’s remains little else to say, other than to raise a glass and wish you all the very best of New Years, and I hope 2012 is the most productive one yet. Cheers!

Update 31st Dec 2011 7pm - I am proud to announce that I have managed to draft 7 poems this afternoon inbetween editing 'Her', so my mini poetry project has been completed on the deadline day. Hooray!

Another update 2nd Jan 2012 4:30pm - woohoo, I just wanted to share some great news. Sorry, I really should have said 'Happy New Year', anyway, the news. I have been accepted on the Romantic Novelists Association New Writers' Scheme 2012 - heehee. I was interested in their scheme last year but missed the opportunity as the 250 places were allocated by the time my application was received. So, I have waited like a good girl and.... given that the application window opened at 2nd January 2012 at 00:01 - I was camped next to my computer, I timed it perfectly and my initial email requesting membership was timed at 00:02 - perfect! I have just received confirmation that I have been accepted. I've completed the necessary and it is winging its way to them, as we speak. Oh boy, what a nice start to my year!    

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Christmas wishes, Café Muse and my apprenticeship

Christmas Eve – woohoo. I love today, as it signals to me the end of Christmas prep, because if I haven’t got it by now, we can do without! So, let the Christmas celebration begin. I have just, and I mean just finished icing my Christmas cake – the first one I have made in many a year. But this being my 40th year – I don’t think I’ve mentioned that before, but I thought I’d put the effort in this year.

Anyhow, let’s get back to business. I have been on holiday all week, and am pretty pleased with my effort. I have edited and checked punctuation of ‘Her’ everyday, written three poems and have spent a little time working on my scrap book for the next project - all very exciting.

Monday, I discovered a sleepy little café which serves the best hot chocolate with the most generous amount of marsh mellows ever seen! I was as happy as Larry, scribbling away surrounded by a happy babble of tea cups and locals. I have nick named it ‘Café Muse’ as I loved working there for the hour or so. I visited three times this week and have promised myself that I shall visiting in the New Year.

Wednesday evening, I attended this year’s final Mad Hatters’ writers group – just four members attended to read and receive a critique. I read four shoe poems – which received decent feedback – there were a few suggestions regards on piece but nothing queried on the other three.

You’ll remember that in February I attended a series of poetry workshops in connection with phase two of Polesworth Poetry Trail, in Pooley Heritage Park. My poem ‘Jutt’ was selected for inclusion on the trail and I have been informed that my poem will be in place by the end of March 2012.

Thursday and Friday, both very wet and miserable days saw me tucked up at home with the laptop tapping away through the chapters of ‘Her’. Each time I read my draft I find something that I hadn’t seen before, on a couple of occasion I have been surprised by the content or the language – I literally can’t remember writing some phrases.

The current process reminded me of when I was a child helping my dad with his business. He provided candles to Catholic churches and occasionally, I’d have to help wick and pot boxes of votive lights. Of course the busiest times of the year were Christmas and Easter – so it was all hands to the deck. Sitting editing ‘Her’, brought back the memories of me sitting for hours wicking candles – not a complicated process but a mind numbing, back breaking job  - which resulted in your fingers being cut to pieces – you almost lost you fingers prints! Anyhow, I served my apprenticeship well; it prepared me for editing a novel – thanks dad!

The most visits this week goes to Russia – not that I’m counting, as I love seeing each country visit and read.

Finally, it is nearly a year that I’ve been writing this blog. I began on 1st January 2011 (1.1.11 – got a thing about dates, as you know) my only hope was that it might encourage me to remain focused on my writing – it has more than accomplished that tiny wish. I wondered at the beginning how I would have enough o write about each week, but never has a week gone by when I haven’t had more than enough to discuss. I feel that I now have a live and reliable account of my year as a writer, and would encourage anyone else to start blogging. An added advantage, is knowing that I haven’t been alone in this world of writing, others…., you, are out there in the very same position and understand my rambling thoughts and musings – thank you!

As always you can follow me on Twitter be searching Odwyer_author. Enjoy a merry Christmas and a very happy New Year!

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Accepted submission, murder mystery and a Christmas holiday

Morning folks, today is the first day of my Christmas holidays – I have a fortnight to enjoy the Christmas spirit, wine and chocolate. My writing plans are to complete the proof read of ‘Her’ by 31st December – so it’ll be early starts and late finishes but hey.

My week began with a flying start, last Sunday night when I receive confirmation that the short story ‘Caught in the act’ submitted to Be: magazine has been selected for publication in their second issue. It also means that I can tick number 20, to get a short story published, off my April Fool 40th List. If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll have heard such details immediately, and thank you for the numerous ‘congratulations’ received. I emailed both writers’ groups - as it helps to encourage other members to submit entries. I shall let you know publication dates as soon as I’m informed.

Monday, I had to write the bio blurb and organise a photograph to accompany the accepted short story ‘Caught in the act’. Boy, it is difficult having to think what I wish to include without it sounding all wordy and boastful. I did make a conscious decision to focus my blurb on my prose work. I could have included or named other projects but I wish to focus the attention on what my aim is, rather than the ‘side line’ projects which may come in useful at a later date.

Tuesday, I dragged my sorry ass to my university tutorial and sat astounded by the other students’ remarks relating to poetry. I was even a little taken back by my lecturer’s attitude – it was very obvious he doesn’t enjoy teaching this module. Which got me thinking, again, regards how I teach poetry at school – I certainly do a much better job than was displayed at uni. Shameful.

Wednesday, as a treat, I read aloud to my year 7 class a short story I’d written especially for them. They were delighted that I’d managed to include all 28 names as the characters in the Christmas murder mystery. I received positive feedback and a wave of astonished gasps that ‘yes, I had written it.’ Though, the school’s staff now think that I have an murderous obsession with pizza cutters – but hey, it’ll pass.

I spent the evening booking exciting trips for 2012, as I had received my new diary. It simply had to be done. So, within three hours I had flights booked for Edinburgh, Dublin, tickets for Swan Lake ballet and of, course, a Jubilee Celebration in June. Hee hee, it means I’ll be seeing the pandas so can tick off number 21 on my April Fool 40th List. 

Thursday, saw my nimble fingers quickly change the character’s names in the above mentioned Christmas murder mystery story to fit my year 8 class. Again, I received rave reviews – see, I can recycle to save the ice caps. Though, I did fess up and tell them I’d written it for the other group as a reward for their superb behaviour – something tells me my year 8 class may well try a little harder next term. In fact, the children’s reaction has been so wonderful that I may well use my shoe poetry in lesson when I return in January with year 9.

Thursday, also saw me attend a community Christmas party, dressed in a Santa suit, – where a bingo session was the main attraction. Oh the reaction and rivalry about winning was immense – a short story began to form.

Friday, saw all the celebration s of a fabulous school term come to an end. I’ve never received so many kisses and hugs from my colleagues - most enjoyable. The evening was spent chilling with hubby and step-daughter recuperating and planning the next fourteen days. Oh, you know what I’m like regards lists and plans – it all has to be meticulous and thought through so that I can then simply follow and do – which usually works for me. Anyhow, my beautiful IPad2 (yes, I am still in love with it) was perfect for organising my writing diary. And, so I am set for the ‘off’ regards completing ‘Her’. I have sought out a couple of agents that I wish to target first, then a second group who I’ll approach should all the others final – and I am expecting a flood of rejections, I’m prepared.

I have continued my reading of ‘Middlemarch’ and have arrived at a point where I am now starting to enjoy the experience. Yes, you read that correctly. It is still a hard slog, double reading of each line to ensure that I understand the passage but I am slowly, very slowly getting there. In earnest of finishing this book, I have written a 12 book
reading list (yep more lists) for 2012. I am going to aim to cover more of the classics within the next twelve months – for my 2011 reading list check out the ‘previously book wormed’ list in the left hand panel. Yep, I have read all of those since January 2011 - I usually get through about 30 books a year – reading, as I do, every day.

Whilst writing this blog the post has arrived, delivering my gold card for Blood Donors – hee, hee I now have a very small but perfectly embossed gold card confirming my achievement – cheers, NHS blood donors!

Back to the blog writing. My plans for the coming week are to focus on ‘Her’ and attend my final Mad Hatters meeting of 2011 on Wednesday. I need to complete a small poetry project in the next two weeks, too – as I have had a fabulous idea for a mini project that I wish to complete whilst dog walking.

I also have to begin getting ready for Christmas. Yes, I know, no decorations, hardly any presents bought but hey, I’ve been busy if you hadn’t noticed. I shall get it all completed in time – I’m sure.

So, on that note, I shall love and leave you, mainly because I now wish to parade about the lounge flashing my newly received gold card to hubby and family! By the way, they haven’ t yet stabbed me with the associated pen – though it is getting near. Remember, you can follow me on Twitter by searching O’Dwyer_author. Enjoy.

Friday, 9 December 2011

1000 hits, Friday morning tears and 50 pints of blood!

Morning folks, good news to start, number 17 on my April Fool 40th List has been ticked off – I have officially donated my 50th pint. Purely to humour my fellow Mad Hatter, Paul Morris, his usual Hancock classic quote ‘a pint, that’s nearly an armful’ which he says every time I donate, and yes, I laugh every time he says it!  Thanks to the National Blood Donors scheme - I have now given 50 arms full! It has only taken me 22 years – bless, the nurse who said I didn’t look old enough to be collecting my 50th award. I received a beautiful, and I do mean beautiful pen in an embossed case. Never have I given so much for a pen, just hope the folks that have received from me have used it well and not wasted a drop. Actually, while we’re talking about blood donors, I’ll share a funny story about my last present, some five years ago.

I’d given my 40th pint and the nurse was fussing over me being ‘so good, I’ll go and get you a little gift’. So, off she pops and returns holding a specially designed coffee coaster of grey slate, on which is embossed the NHS logo amidst the various blood types. I was well chuffed. I went home boasting to hubby that he wasn’t to use my new coaster as I had earn it by giving 40 pints - he at that time was on about his 13th donation. Anyway, for an hour or two, I made a song and dance about having my coffee mug on my special coaster. By which time my bragging was wearing a little thin. Hubby goes out to his blood donor appointment – yep, I know very ‘his and hers’ stuff. Anyway, after an hour he returns and literally skips down the driveway. He enters the house with his usual greetings, all very happy and smiley – goes straight into the kitchen to make two coffees. Of course, on distributing the hot drinks, he places mine on my now prominently placed coffee coaster, before sitting down to drink his. In a flash, he whips from his pocket an identical blood donors coffee coaster of grey slate. He can hardly speak for laughing at my immediate explosion of ‘How have you got that?’ – ‘There was one left in the box, the nurse didn’t want to take it back - seeing as I was the last donation, she asked if I wanted it!’ See what comes of bragging? I digress but hey, sharing is good.

Anyhow, my week has been pretty awesome. I attended university on Monday and whilst waiting for the proceedings to start polished four poems – admittedly, I did look pretty anti-social but hey, the other students were all moaning, so I didn’t miss much.

Tuesday, saw me at home all day with a bad head but, I made the most of the evening by having a good clear out of the junk from my desk and filing cabinet – I felt the urge to get ready for that New Year/new inspiration injection.

Wednesday evening, I attended my Mad Hatters’ group – which opted for an early night at 10:30, which I’ve planned to have as one of my New Year resolutions. As I’m getting up at 5:30am each day there have been times this year when the group have deprived me of my much needed beauty sleep. I received positive feedback on four poems from the shoe collection – I couldn’t for the life of me recall all the footwear titles, which only confirms what I’ve said about reciting my work – I simply can’t remember it.

Thursday evening was the Grace Dieu Christmas Quiz and supper - a small gathering, but enjoyable all the same. I surprised myself with how many correct answers I dragged from the back of my dusty memory - there was no way Ian Dury and the blockheads were being forgotten, that was certain. As for my guessing the famous person with just the dates 1917 to 1963 – I thought that was easy, apparently not according to my fellow team mates – but hey, I gained five points for the correct answer. Answer at the bottom of blog, just in case you wish to play along.

Friday morning saw an encounter on the daily dog walk that had me in tears. Just one of those small, seemingly insignificant moments in life when the harshness of reality hits home and without a word, a simple gesture tells you everything. It left me reeling in pity for this person that society should treat him so badly, that he expected everyone to treat him that way – I hadn’t and his reaction caused my tears. So much so, I thought about him all morning at work and spent my lunch hour scribbling words to release what I’d felt in a heart beat – the result being a tiny poem.

Whilst I mention poetry, I have to say, the last five weeks have proved to be the most productive flow of poetry in my life. Since 27th October, I have drafted and polished 26 poems, including today’s. Amazing what you can achieve whilst dog walking twice a day!

I’ve snatched a few hours of ‘Her’ here and there this week and am planning for my Christmas break which begins on 16th December – yay!
Anyhow, I shall continue to plod, plod, plod until the 16th – then it will be full steam ahead until 31st (which just happens to be our wedding anniversary, arrrr).

My plans for this weekend revolve about ‘Her’ and a three thousand word essay for university regards the behaviour of pupils – something tells me I could write ten thousand on the later.

I have finished reading Sarah Water’s ‘The Little Stranger’; oh it got scary at the end, made me go all goose bumpy. My full attention is back to Eliot’s 'Middlemarch' which I must, must, must finish as it is number 7 on the April Fool 40th list.

And finally, this little blog has received 1000 hits world wide – that might not sound much to some, but given that this is my small contribution to the internet, I am very proud. The actual 1000th hit was in America – so kisses and thanks whoever you are. I do appreciate all your visits – where ever you are based and hope you can follow me on Twitter by searching for odwyer_author. Enjoy!

Answer to quiz question - JFK 1917-1963

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Song writing, poetry and pandas

Morning folks – I am very excited having just watched two pandas from Sichuan Province be loaded into crates for their long journey to Edinburgh, which will equate to another event ticked off my April Fool list. Yay! I can’t wait. Sorry, forgive me, back to business, but still - yay!

I didn’t have any appointments with writers groups so have had a completely free week – which has been wonderful.

Monday, I attended Barry Hunt’s songwriting workshop in Lichfield. Firstly, I loved the location – may well be using that myself in a future. Song writing – not something I’ve ever thought of doing, I went purely as a new aspect to creative thought and flow. It proved exactly what the doctor ordered. I was the only writer present, everyone else apart from hubby (yep, dragged him along too) were songwriters or currently performing in bands. Eight pupils in total, which meant a cosy group which gelled in the given time. Barry and the others shared their knowledge, expertise and funny stories whilst we completed lyric exercises, melody discussions and the benefits of collaboration. Today, as promised on Monday, I shall be dedicating an hour to songwriting – who knows what I’ll produce. I’d give my back teeth for a Christmas number that roles out every year – now, we’re hitting fantasy land for sure. For future events by Barry contact,  

Wednesday, for the first time in my life, I went on strike. As I forfeited a day’s pay I spent the entire day at home writing. I polished three poems for the shoe project – which pleased me greatly. I shall be seeking opportunities for these over the coming weeks.

Thursday morning saw the start of a similar poetry project which I intend to send along side the ‘Poetry from the shoe rack’ submission. As warm exercises whilst on dog walks these have proven to be a worthy representation of my time, so I may continue this little exercise indefinitely.

Thursday, also saw the countdown begin regarding ‘Her’ – I am desperate to complete for 31st December so every day my writing time will be allotted to this project.
Friday - two interesting events happened at school. Firstly, during my English lesson I promised to write the pupils a Christmas murder where the chosen weapon was to be a pizza cutter! And, secondly, but I feel more importantly, a child was brought to me by a member of the support team to read her poetry. The member of staff knew that I had interests outside of school and thought I was the best person to encourage the child – what an honour! Anyway, I was impressed with her work for one so young, and we discussed seeking a poetry competition in which she might be able to enter her work. I shall let you know how she gets on. It was lovely being able to assist and encourage – probably one of the nicest elements of my job. I was secretly chuffed with the member of staff - who knows me so well.

I have joined the ‘River of stones 2012’ which takes place throughout January where writers and poets note ‘a thing of beauty’ witnessed each day of the month. By seeking and noting such detail, ideas and inspirations flow which can be turned into creative pieces. I thought it would be a great way to kick start the New Year. For further details, please visit

Wednesday night I shall be at the Mad Hatters writing group in Atherstone, I will be reading a couple of the poems from the Shoe rack to see what the audience thinks. Though, Thursday is the biggy night for me, not only because I have Grace Dieu Writers’ Circle to attend, where I’ll be partaking in the annual fish ‘n’ chip Christmas supper but…. (drum roll needed here) I will have donated my 50th pint of blood before hand – another event to mark off my April Fool list. For my efforts I will be presented with a pen, never have I given so much for a pen. For those that I see in ‘real life’ I apologise now for mentioning it every time I use the said pen, please don’t stab me with it!

Today’s plan - a day at the desk with ‘Her’ swimming before my eyes, aided by a vat of tea.

Remember you can follow me daily on Twitter by searching for odwyer_author – I can’t promise buckets of humour but I can promise that you’ll have a daily up-date regards my creative musings. Please pass the blog details or Twitter details to other interested parties. Enjoy!