Saturday, 31 March 2012

Celebrating ‘Jutt’, Scott's poem and my last day at 40

Morning folks – a day of celebration for me. Firstly, it is my last day aged 40 but more importantly (drum roll needed) my poem ‘Jutt’ about a stubborn pit pony, has been positioned upon the Polesworth Poetry Trail at Pooley Heritage Park. I went to view the poem this morning and was a little shocked and then very embarrassed at finding it positioned in a prime spot, right next to the visitors centre. I shall just have to get used to the fact that so many people will be reading my work whilst enjoying their cuppa! I don’t usually add images into my blog – but hey, today’s different - the panel on the right shows the installation. 

So, I shall be writing an entry in my 40th April Fool list a final entry to complete the year. Talking of my 40th April Fool list – there are several things that haven’t been completed: Number 27 - to learn to whistle using my fingers (have tried so hard, still can’t do it), 30 – to attend a murder mystery weekend, 31 – to hold a tarantula, 32 – to milk a cow, 36 – to go to the top of the Empire States building. I have decided that these will now remain outstanding, which I need to address a.s.a.p.

This week has been an excellent one. I am still waiting to hear from any agents, but it is nice to know my work is out in the big wide world circulating. I hadn’t any writers' meetings this week so spent the time writing. I have set a writing exercise for the Mad Hatters' writing group in relation to an grave in a local cemetery that has an unusual feature. The group will take a number of weeks to produce a short story of 2000 words – we’ll have a dedicated night to read them and compare our efforts. It has been a while since we completed such an exercise but from the previous attempts we each produce very different pieces from the same inspiration. For previous exercises we’ve gained inspiration from specific poems, photographs, murder floor plan and an opening sentence.

I have written a poem to commemorate the centenary of Captain Scott’s death, 29th March 1912. As you’ve probably realized over recent weeks I do have a slight obsession about certain topics and people - it just happens that Titanic and Scott’s anniversaries occur in a short space of time. One fascinating fact that I dwell on is that Kathleen Scott, widow of Captain RF Scott, created the sculpture of Captain Smith of the Titanic, trying to earn money to raise her son. On completion Stoke-on-Trent refused to home the statue in Smith’s hometown and so Lichfield gave the newly created sculpture a home in Beacon park, where it remains to this day.

I have continued with my pre-judging role by reading competition entries – a few weeks ago, I listed common errors made and sadly, my complaints remain. I urge anyone to craft their story carefully, read it to another writer or poet, edit and amend on their suggestion and then present for competition.

Last Sunday, I posted my entry to the Bristol Prize competition which close today (31.03.12) – so my fingers are crossed that I have followed me own advice. I am pleased to say this is my fourth short story submission since the New Year – when I set the goal of six this year!  

I am very tempted today, my last day of 40, to share my writing secret with a very close friend and her husband, who have known me all my life. You might remember that I have only shared my work with some close friends as I don’t want the pressure of being bated by others wanting to constantly talk about my work. I don’t mind chatting about it with like minded individuals but in the past I’ve found that non-creative types believe that I’m going to wake up tomorrow and be JK Rowling. Such unrealistic excitement has previously been an unwanted pressure, so I am in two minds. I know she’s delighted about my poem being placed on the poetry trail today, so maybe, just maybe she’d be happy to hear some more. Hummmmmm.

I’m going to leave you on that note, while I go and have a think. Remember you can follow me on ‘Twitter’ by searching and following odwyer_author – please pass this blog onto others who may be interested. Enjoy!

Friday, 23 March 2012

‘Jutt’, seven reading books and a chick-lit queen

Evening folks – yep, you guessed it, I have pinched a spare hour on a Friday night – so, pull up a chair, take the weight off your feet. I’ll start with the good news of the week – I have just been informed that my poem ‘Jutt’, about a pit pony, will be in situ in Pooley Heritage Park by next Saturday morning, 31st March 2012 – the very last day of my 40th year. Yay, I hear you cry! It seems so very long since last May when the poem was selected , but hey, these things take time to come to fruition.

Apart from that piece of good news, I’ve had a dull week, if I’m honest, apart from my two writers’ meetings. Wednesday night saw me attend the Mad Hatters’ meeting – I didn’t take anything to read, but thankfully others did. I did mention my passage of discovery regards competition entries, which intrigued some. I’m hoping that they’ll take heed and start entering their work into competitions – who knows what they may receive.
Thursday night, I attended the Grace Dieu meeting in Coalville, this is a particularly large group and yet, only a handful are attending at the moment. Again, I didn’t have anything to read but was thoroughly entertained to the point of tears by the poems and prose produced. One, was so near the knuckle regards the topic – I didn’t know whether to chuckle or not, a quick scan about the table gave me the go ahead. I came home with a fellow writer’s autobiography, written many moons ago. It has been doing the rounds for the last six months and I gratefully received the opportunity – so, fingers crossed it’s a riveting read, as it has some strong competition on my bedside cabinet. I have to confess that I currently have several books on the go, more than my usual three (shakes head). I am nearing the end of ‘Middlemarch’ (finally), I’m part way through ‘A streetcar named Desire’ and ‘War of the Worlds’ both are for school reading/day job, I’ve begun ‘Lord of the Rings trilogy’ (for when Middlemarch is simply tooooo dry) and the opening to ‘Death at Pemberley’ because I got caught short in a café without a book so bought one because I haven’t enough at home! Believe that, if you wish. So, the little gem I brought home on Thursday night has a fight on its hands for sure. Oh, just remembered I also have a Winston Churchill biography propped on the dining room table. Seven? Oh dear me, please don’t tell husband. In fact, let’s make a deal, I shall endeavour to finish Middlemarch this week – ouch, tough call.

One delight of the week was that my favourite author Marian Keyes has joined Twitter. She’s back. I know, I know how exciting it that? For those that aren’t into chick-lit, Marian is ‘The Queen’ and she has been a way for a while but we all love and care for her and are soooo delighted that she has graced us by allowing us to stalk her…. Oops, no - follow her.

I haven’t much planned for the week ahead, still trying keeping the ship afloat with the pressure of the day job but, I do know there is a poetry Fizz this coming Tuesday, where Barry Patterson is the guest poet. Usual place; Polesworth Abbey Refectory, usual time;7:30pm to be entertained by unusual poetry. I’m sure everyone is welcome to attend, there is usually an open mic afterwards, so why not take a piece along.

Right, that’s enough from me, especially if I’m going to heave George Eliot from my bedside cabinet – oh the joys. Remember you can follow me on ‘Twitter’ by searching and following odwyer_author – please pass this blog onto others who may be interested. Enjoy!

Friday, 16 March 2012

Productive Monday, shock entries and brave, brave Oates

Evening folks – I have some spare time on a Friday night so thought I’d spend it with you guys. Thankfully, I have had a better week than the previous one that I moaned about last time. It started with the indulgence of having a legitimate day off work. I dedicated every moment to my writing. In one day I managed to polish, print and post a short story for a competition organised by ‘Writing Magazine’. And finally, completed the synopsis for ‘Her’ – yes, I know shock horror, it has taken me an age because I was being so self-critical. Anyhow, once complete I printed copies of the first three chapters of ‘Her’ manuscript and posted them to my first three agents….yikes. Which of course is my big news for the week!  

Tuesday, saw my Kindle ebook enter a promotional period of being free and I have to say I was disappointed by the number of uptakes. Only a handful of people downloaded the short story ‘A front row seat’ but never mind, I can but try.

Wednesday - now, I shall apologise for being very general on this topic but you’ll understand why. As an active member of two writers’ groups I have to play my part in events - one being writing competitions. This week I have had to read competition entries, which is a first for me - I have learnt that:-

  • People don’t read or follow the competition  rules and regulations
  • People blatantly exceed the word limit by thousands
  • People use far to many clichés
  • People use swear words when it doesn’t add anything to the character or situation
  • Some people don’t actually write a short story for a short story competition
  • People send entries that are littered with spelling errors
  • People don’t know how to use margins and layout devices
  • People don’t provide a title for their short story
  • People certainly don’t read their work out aloud before sending the entry

I have undertaken the task of reading as a learning curve for myself, as I enter many competitions and have previously wondered what calibre of work is received. I have to say, I'm shocked. When I enter a competition, I am stringent in checking every detail regards rules and regulations – I never assume anything. Font, spacing, payment, word count and contact details are all specifics clearly stated by the organizers. Why pay a couple of pounds entry fee if you aren’t prepared to follow their instructions?  My second piece of advise would be to read the story aloud to another person, even if they aren’t a writer, they will be able to hear the sentence construction, any repetitive words/phrases and the basic flow of the story.

Thursday, I had another duff day due to a failed interview regarding the day job. I spent all day playing the part only to have them choose the candidate that lived over the road from the school! The rest of us, six in total, had travelled a fair distance – all wasted miles. Never mind, onwards and upwards.

And so, we arrive at Friday. I have a full ‘to-do’list for the weekend. Sadly, much is associated with the day job, but a whole chunk is creative. I promise that before I go to bed tonight, I shall write a poem dedicated to Captain Lawrence Oates, who one hundred years ago today did the ultimate in selfless acts to aid Scott’s ill-fated expedition. He left the tent the night before his 32nd birthday (17th March) – his body is yet to be found.  

So, I shall love and leave you to go and draft my dedication to Captain Oates – and, no I’m not going to use his brave words in jest.

Remember you can follow me on ‘Twitter’ by searching and following odwyer_author – please pass this blog onto others who may be interested. Enjoy!

Monday, 12 March 2012

Free Kindle story for my blog followers

Morning followers - I thought I would reward each and every one of you with the opportunity to download my short story 'A Front Row Seat' from Kindle for free, yes free! Nil, zilch, nought, nothing, zero pence - but only for 48 hours from 13th - 15th March. So, follow the Amazon link on the right hand side panel and enjoy. I ask just one thing in return - you return and give a review having read my story. Fair exchange, I think. Enjoy!

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Previous careers, synopsis and waiting for news

Morning folks – I’ve woken in a disappointed mood as the hot air balloon ride that I had booked for this morning was cancelled due to high winds – is there high winds now – no! Never mind – I will get this task completed, I promise.

Well, how are you? I never ask, do I? Rude of me really but I take it that everything is tickety boo. Welcome to all the new followers who are pop up each time I check the global statistics. Please check out the panel on the right hand side to view the visitors list.

I’ve had a rather disappointing week. I didn’t manage to attend either of my writers’ meetings this week due to being snowed under with job applications relatong to the day job. These are the times that I begin to resent my day job for affecting my dream job. So, instead of reading out a competition piece I stayed at home and worked. Not my idea of fun but hey, I had little choice. My resentment manifests more when I begin to think of all the energy and time that the day job removes from my writing, the constant battle of juggling time simply to deliver my backside into my writing chair and capture the idea that has buzzed about my head for a few days. I take some comfort in the fact that historically it is what every creative bod has to do as a trainee to their craft before the good stuff happens. I’m sure every writer has their own way of dealing with week’s like I’ve had but this is what I do when I’m feeling despondent about juggling – I search for success stories who had the heart to carry on and finally received their rewards. So, let’s share what careers others had before their writing dreams came true:-

Ian Rankin – grape picker, tax man, swine herder
Marian Keyes – accountancy and waitress
Patricia Caldwell – reporter and Chief Medical officer
Nick Hornby – teacher
Joanne Harris –  french teacher
Simon Armitage – probation officer
Jodi Picoult – ad agency work, copywriter, teacher
Stieg Larsson – graphic designer
John Grisham – a lawyer
Dick Francis – jockey

See, I feel a whole load better having found those little beauties – it works every time. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll continue to plod.

Last weekend were my last productive days. I managed to write an acrostic poem for a mini competition in Writers’ Magazine. Plus, I dug out an old short story that is suitable for another of their other competitions, which I plan to polish and post this weekend.

Last weekend also saw me finally complete the synopsis for ‘Her’ which has been slung about my neck for weeks – this now enables me to begin sending the first three chapters out to agents. I suppose given my success last weekend, I’d hoped the momentum would continue but it didn’t it came to a sharp halt on Monday, literally as soon as the day job began.

My plan for this week – is not to allow a repeat of last week! I haven’t any writers meetings to attend so every night has the potential to be a writing night. Plus, I am not at work on Monday so will be dedicating the day to ‘Her’. My intention is to live the dream by spending it at my desk.

News – I am waiting to receive a copy of Be:Magazine in which my short story ‘Caught in the act’ is appearing this month. Plus, I’m waiting for the confirmation regards the installation of my poetry display at Pooley Heritage Park – fingers crossed it occurs in the next two weeks.

Remember you can follow my Monday's dedicated writing day on ‘Twitter’ by searching and following odwyer_author – please pass this blog onto others who may be interested. Enjoy!

Friday, 2 March 2012

Song writing workshop, author talk and the sands of time

Evening folks – I’m on a roll regards work so thought I’d take time out to complete my blog ahead of the schedule.

I’ve had a difficult week made feasible by the odd moments captured between the tasks on the ‘To-do list’. I don’t even wish to linger on how mentally exhausting this week has been – please, who ever is in charge, don’t let me have another week as this one.

Anyhow, Monday night saw the return of the fabulous song writing workshop organized by Barry Hunt. As you know I’ve attend previously, as a means of keeping the creative juices flowing – and it works every time. This month’s session focused on honing lyrics, crafting and improving the structure of your song – the dos and don’ts list and even the ‘I will try harder on these elements’ list – self reflection is always a good thing. The wonderful thing about these evening is the way Barry delivers a lot of info in such a short amount of time. The evening is very much a collaboration between students and master (he’ll smile at that title, I’m sure) with a multitude of examples and reference to well known music and artists – which makes the session so hands-on in terms of knowledge. I have to applaud him for his bravery of requesting our opinion about his song lyrics, which was accompanied by the official critique received by another professional. Brave indeed. The two hours flew by in the blink of an eye and before I knew it I was hitting the highway home. Please take a look at as I’m sure there’ll be many more workshops in the future.

Wednesday – was one of my favourite dates 29th February – I always ensure that I do something a little extra as I feel it is a free gift, a bit like a buy one get one free bargain, every four years. Anyway, this year I wrote a small poem to celebrate the occasion – fitting given how productive I’ve been recently.

Thursday – I attended my Grade three music exam – oh dear, watch this space for the result because I had a nightmare. I checked the exam as much as I could but know that I lost many points – it won’t be three distinctions in a row – that’s a cert!

Thursday also saw me attend an author’s talk whilst at the day job. I am not going to name them, simply because I don’t wish to be unkind but…. OMG! It was a definite lesson in what not to do. The woman, yes, I’ll give that part away, children’s literature, that too. Well, she was booked to talk to the pupils about her work… that was the agenda - simple. The talk consisted of her children, their childish antics, her previous career, her lack of ambition to be a writer and finally, the price of her books. What we wanted was the creative process, the inspiration, the working process, the highs and lows of being an author, the daily life…. I was so disappointed, but can view it as a huge lesson for the future reference, should I ever need it. I vow, here and now, that I will stick to the agenda and provide you with as much insight into my world as possible and not a single word that is unrelated to my quest as an author. This isn’t the first time I have witnessed such an author talk. If anything, the previous one was by far worse, giving a year by year account of a life (unrelated to writing) – including every family pet and house move!

Today, I’ve had to work on an essay for university – which seems to have drained all my energy but which now enables me to have a free morning tomorrow in which to write. And write, I shall. Yes, you’ve guessed it, I’m still fighting with the synopsis for ‘Her’ so that will be my first job tomorrow, as I need to slog it into shape under the weight of a ticking clock. Talking of clocks, I have a thing about them if I haven’t said before. I have clocks that have previously belonged to most of my relatives – and last week I purchased a unique one for me – a beautiful hour glass! I know, an hour glass, that mystical object from the olden days now sits on my desk top and tomorrow I will be using it while I write. Hee hee, going back to basics or what? Literally having the sands of time accompanying me as I write.

I’m going to sign off to give me a chance to have a quiet read of Middlemarch – yes, I’m still at it – now titled ‘That book’.

Remember you can follow me on ‘Twitter’ by searching and following odwyer_author – please pass this blog onto others who may be interested. Enjoy!