Saturday, 28 July 2012

Adjectives, networking and the Olympics

Good morning folks, a blurry-eyed salutation from me due to a very late night watching the opening of the London 2012 Olympics. Boy, what a show! I was glued to the telly for four hours – that is not me. I won’t say how many times the nostalgic scenes made me cry but, it inspired me enough to grab paper and pen and begin drafting a celebration poem. The next sixteen days is going to prove to be a challenge – how do I write and follow the games commentary? I’ll find a way.

This week I have focused upon preparing my manuscript for entry into the Romantics Novelists’ Association New Writers Scheme. As I’ve previously mentioned, I have a self impose deadline - to which I am striving for, though the official deadline is 31st August.

In addition, I have begun utilizing the advice offered at the RNA conference 2012 which I attend two weeks ago. Talli Roland urged writers to adopt a suitable ‘brand’ which should reflect their personality and writing. Furthermore, the ‘brand’ allows blogs, social networking interaction and marketing to link together to reinforce the brand message. I’ve heard this message at previous writers’ conferences but Talli put forward the simplest method of implementation – choose three adjectives that describe you and your writing. Armed with a online list of adjectives, I began choosing. My final chose was humorous, inquisitive and vivacious – all three describe me and my writing. Funny note, inquisitive was chosen in preference to ‘nosey’ which hubby calls me on a regular basis. Anyhow, having chosen my three adjectives were entered onto the signature on my emails, entered into the header of my blog template and invisibly stitched into my writing psyche. The importance is to provide an accessible tagline for potential publisher and readers – so please choose carefully as it forms the basics of your self marketing.

I attempted to download Tweetdeck by Twitter as a means of organizing/monitoring my Twitter traffic – sadly, the system has a problem so can’t be installed while they mend and patch – never mind I shall continue to try.

My goodie bag from the RNA conference, still can’t get over how brill they are, contained a list of all attending authors. So, I’ve systematically begun searching and connecting with each via Twitter. It has been a delight to have some authors begin to follow me, very kind of them! Yet, another little marketing tip offered at conference as a means of highlighting your name and writing. It also ticks the box regards my New Year’s Resolution ‘increase networking with other novelists’.

As a member of two writers groups there are times when you have to offer your time and resources to assist and support the group. This week saw me accept a position on the steering group of the Grace Dieu Writers’ Circle which organizes the annual programme, exercises and infrastructure of the writing group. Fingers crossed, I’ll prove to be a valued member of the committee.

The Mad Hatters’ Writing Group also met this week – just four members attended but this allowed us more time to critique our work and chat about other creative projects. The Mad Hatters are quite a mixed bunch at heart – each has their writing projects plus additional hobbies which connect to their creativity. Such a combination helps to keep the group fresh and interesting as each member brings additional skills to our meetings. Note to self: I really must complete the current exercise based on dialogue – I’ve started two separate pieces but need to make a decision on which to plum for.

My reading this week has alternated between ‘The Hunger Games’ by Suzanne Collins and the newly purchased ‘Summer Daydreams’ by Carole Matthews. I have to say, I’d promised myself that I was going to focus on one reading book rather than have several on the go but, I opened ‘Summer Daydreams’ and fell into it without realizing I had begun to read, which goes to show, just how good the writing is.

I shall love and leave you, as the first of the swimming heats is about to begin, after which I’ll make my way to my desk. Remember you can follow me on Twitter @odwyer_author to receive random updates throughout my creative week. Please pass my blog to anyone who might be interested. Enjoy!

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Letter success, ‘manflu’ and a Summer holiday

Morning folks – I have officially broken up for the school summer holidays, so have six glorious weeks stretching before me. It feels so good. I have a long –to-do list in my mind, the primary goal being my manuscript being posted to Romantic Novelists Association’s New Writer Scheme. Their official deadline is 30th August but I have a self imposed deadline of 31st July. I have other plans for August! I shall reveal more as the time draws near.

So, how’s your week been? Mine has been hectic due to school winding up but slow and slightly relaxed due to having the worst cold of my life. I’m serious, never have I experienced a cold as tough as this. I’ve literally got through two boxes of tissues each day! I claimed earlier in the week that it had to be ‘manflu’ but was instantly correctly, by numerous men, that the very fact that I’m still functioning, yapping and moving means it can’t possibly be ‘manful’ - just simply, a cold. Thanks fellas.

This week, I discovered a tiny poem, written during my school day at the tender age of twelve, called ‘A week without telly’ in a dusty box at the back of a wardrobe. Firstly, I was amazed at how neat my handwriting was, then secondly, that it did in fact rhyme. I can’t remember writing the poem, but I do remember the teacher a Mr Gwatkins, who recalled tales of his upbringing in New Zealand. It was for this teacher that I produced my very first book, a six week class project. My story revolved about three children who had a pet robot, whose arms and legs dropped off at every interesting or critical moment of the plot. I can even recall the front cover, which he’d remarked was ‘well drawn’. Wow, such memories stashed away so deep within the mind - it has got to be twenty years since I thought about Mr Gwatkins and my tiny debut novel.

News to share – you may remember a while back I read the Simon Whaley’s book ‘Positively Productive Writer’. One of his suggestions is to always be writing something, however small, as it keeps the creative mind flowing. Well, I followed his advice and today, yes today, I received notification that a letter I’d written to ‘Your Cat’ had been published on their letters page and my cat had received a small gift. I dashed down to the newsagents, before breakfast, to purchase the said magazine and…. they weren’t lying. On page 24, is my letter about my clumsy cat Czar, accompanied by the beautiful photograph which I’d submitted, advice from Simon’s book. Woohoo! It was certainly a boost to my positivity and mind set seeing my name printed along the bottom. Now, that it’s worked once, I’ll repeat the process forever more. If you haven’t read Simon’s book, it is well worth a look as it’s filled with honest advice and helpful tips.

My plans for today involve searching and learning more about ‘Twitter’ and the related programmes mentioned at last week’s RNA conference 2012. Talli Roland provided a heap of advice regards the flow of traffic and the predicted time of traffic viewing your Twitter messages. I want to know more, but being the computer illiterate geek that I am, it’ll probably take me all day to find and organize. I’ll let you know how I get on.

As time has gone by, I feel my blog has slightly changed in its spectrum of information. I used to plug quite a few poetry evenings in my local area. I’ve recently stopped doing so as the majority of my traffic is coming from overseas. So, I feel it is a little unfair to keep enticing you with very local information, when a more general over view relating to my writing enables everyone to feel included. That doesn’t imply that my British followers can saunter off but more that I wanted to be honest and congratulate my overseas folks for their sheer number of visits. I am most humbled.  

Remember you can follow me on Twitter @odwyer_author to receive random updates throughout my week. Please pass my blog to anyone, you feel might be interested. Enjoy!

Monday, 16 July 2012

Romantic Novelists Association Conference 2012

Well, hello folks – as you’re aware I was away for the weekend at The Romantic Novelists Association Conference 2012 in Penrith, Cumbria. I have to say, I had the best time networking with other writers and talking books, books, books.

The conference began on Friday – which was a simple case of travel and settle prior to the main events on Saturday and Sunday. I arrived extremely late on the Friday night, as I completed a day at the day-job – but hey, I saw it as a challenge to drive for five hours having completed the eight hour day! I can honestly say, it was worth every minute. On arriving I discovered that the RNA organiser, Jan had actually arranged for a hot meal to be reserved for me – now, I ask you, how many organization do that for their members? Not many.

I did nothing Friday night apart from settle into my room and rest in eager anticipation of the full weekend ahead. I was not disappointed. The conference had a wide selection of workshops and talks to attend – each given by notably knowledgeable bods – on a range of subjects. I took much delight in attending Talli Roland’s session regards on-line marketing, Kate Harrison’s discussion about the future of women’s fiction and Kirsty McClusky’s affirmation as to why we love romantic fiction. I would have been content to have gone home having attended and learnt so much just from these three talks – but, there was more. Jane Wenham-Jones, who I have followed for numerous years in Writers’ Magazine and Writers’ News, took the red eye slot on Sunday morning. Boy oh boy, what a funny lady. Was there a moment in her hour talk where I wasn’t laughing or wiping the tears from my eyes? No, not a single second. Her anecdotes, her jokes and her advice came thick and fast. She also told a particular joke - especially for the literary set. Afterwards, I attended a creative coaching session aimed at liberating our pent up fears and emotions linked to our writing – honesty was the measure of this session, but hey it worked, I came out with a sense of self realization.

I have to mention the ‘official Goodie bag’ – it deserves a paragraph to itself, it was that spectacular. Now, I’ve seen ‘Goodie bags’ in the past, pathetic attempts to offer freebies hidden amongst a ream of advertising and marketing flyers. The RNA Goodie bag is the best I have ever seen. There were five novels, yes, five! Plus chocolate mixed in with the novel seed packets, postcards, bookmarks, pens and business cards. It weighed that much, it actually hurt your shoulders to carry it about! Now, there is a definite measure for any future goodie bag, I receive.

I met lots of wonderful writers, some published, others (and I loved this term) pre-published! My Twitter account has been inundated with new followers – who I have eagerly followed back. One particular acquaintance was Helen Phifer, a romance/crime writer, who has been working on her novel the same amount of time I have been working on ‘Her’. It is so comforting to hear others relay the same difficulties regards family commitments, full-time jobs and general life holding back their writing careers. And yet, we continue to plod the best we can!

All in all, I had a wonderful time and already know that I shall be attending next year’s conference in Sheffield.

I have returned home with my creative energy, motivation and determination at an all time high. The RNA conference 2012 was exactly what I needed to complete this year and begin moving towards the future.

For further details, please visit – where you’ll find a wealth of information.

Before I sign off, I do have to say a big hello to all my over seas followers – I have seen a vast increase in your traffic in the last week. It is such a delight seeing the global map (linked to my blog stats) change colour as you each connect and read. So, a big ‘Thank you’ for your continued support.

Remember you can follow me on Twitter @odwyer_author to receive random updates throughout my week. Enjoy!

Friday, 6 July 2012

Summer countdown, new Tweeters and a room of ones own

Evening folks, I thought I’d write an early update, as I have some spare time on a Friday night. I’m delighted that the working week is over – it’s been a tough on one, my energy levels are pretty exhausted and the countdown has begun for the six weeks summer holiday – 10 more school get ups!

My writing week has been pretty simple – I’ve returned to ‘Her’ as I need to post a manuscript to RNA New Writers’ Scheme by the end of July. So, I have plodded away reading each chapter, frantically searching for anything that is out of place or missing. I’ve repeated this each night this week and am hoping that the job will be complete by next Thursday.

Joy of the week! I have been awarded a classroom of my own at school, so am excitedly dressing the walls with my favourite book posters. Posters, which I’ve purchased over time, are now getting to see the light of day – I simply can’t wait! Once the transformation has occurred I may even treat you to a classroom photograph.

I have had numerous conversations about ‘that book’ this week – other people have become quite heated that it isn’t on the literary scale, therefore it must be a waste of time. I feel that you have to take it for what it is, escapism and entertainment. Though, I did dissuade my mother from purchasing it, certainly not her cup of tea. I’ve always been a ‘book worm’ but it’s been funny listening to others define why they read. I personally read for the same reason others watch films, listen to music or play computer games – purely entertainment. I have always read a wide range of genres and authors – yet, the reason remain unchanged. I don’t understand why others try to argue that ‘Fifty Shades’ has to tick any other box to make it acceptable to read. Go figure!

Talking of books – I am progressing nicely with Alcott’s ‘Little Women’ – it has proved far easier to read as an adult, than it was as a child. Though, the variance of language has got me wondering just how much I truly understood as a child – I can’t recall asking my parents to explain specific words.

This week, I have just one writers’ meeting with the Mad Hatters on Wednesday evening. Last session we set another group exercise based on a snippet of intriguing dialogue.

Person one: ‘Are you ready to do it then?’
Person two: ‘As ready as I’ll ever be.’
Person one: ‘O.K. Let’s get it over with.’

The general rules are to complete a short story written purely in dialogue – I know we won’t be reading these out this week, so I don’t have to rush with my idea but, I’d like the plot sketched out before next Wednesday.

Finally, my plans for the weekend revolve about my husband’s birthday – though, I will be snatching some time at my desk, even if it means I need to get up early tomorrow morning.

Remember you can follow me on Twitter @odwyer_author to receive random updates throughout my week. There was a surge of new Twitter followers last week – so a big hello to you all. Enjoy!

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Murder, Inspiration and the class of ‘87

Morning folks – I’m a day late updating my blog, but as you’ve come to realise that usually happens when I’m busy enjoying myself. So, let me share. Friday night I spent the evening in Birmingham at a Murder Mystery night organised by a company called ‘It’s Murder’. I have to say - they were superb. I won’t spoil any plots by telling you who or what, but the cast played their part to a tee. During our meal, the actors performed and answered questions and by the time coffee was being served the diners, approximately 60, had all morphed into Miss Marples. I’d never attended one before, in fact this was another item from my April Fool 40th list – but I would certainly do it again, the night was filled with laughter and fun! The evening was part of a hotel package, so I wasn’t at home till the afternoon. For more information please visit their website:

Friday morning, another mini events took place – my Olympics tickets arrived!!!! How exciting is that? It suddenly became very real that I shall be attending. It seems quite mythical in some respects to be actually attending an Olympics event – even more so, given the method of ticket allocation for London 2012.

Anyhow, back to the writing. Last Wednesday I attended my Mad Hatters’ Group – I read aloud a poem called ‘Poodle in a puddle’ which was inspired by my own miniature poodle. As I mentioned last week, the poem has been tumbling about my head for a while and has finally made it to the page. The group enjoyed it, though one line needs some attention and editing. I was pleased with their reactions.

I didn’t make it to my Thursday group due to a headache – but I was prepared to take and read a poem inspired by the children’s poem ‘Cats sit anywhere’ by Eleanor Jarjeon, my version is called ‘Pigeons shit anywhere’. If you know the original poem, you’ll fully appreciate my modern version. I’ve used inspirations in this manner many times before – chose something creative from which you build from and upon. It could be a line of poetry, a classic painting, a photograph or a fairy tale. It is quite amazing how you can add a creative twist producing a new piece. I suppose the perfect example is Tracy Chevalier’s ‘The Girl with a pearl ear-ring’ inspired by Vermeers’ painting – a recommended read if you haven’t already.

Another mention for Thursday, 28th June – here in Britain, we experienced a freak downpour that can only be described as ‘Biblical’. I have never witnessed rain like it – its power, force and speed were frightening for anyone caught outside. I stood watching from a classroom window and know the images I saw are already germinating into a new piece. It’s just a matter of time for it to take root – then, I’ll write.

I have finished reading Steinbeck’s ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ – I was sad to finish it, if I am honest. I then began Alcott’s ‘Little women’ in preparation for a literature course in October. But, and here is my confession of the week, I couldn’t ignore the hype surrounding ‘that book’ or ‘mummy porn’ as I heard someone call it yesterday - ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ by EL James. I downloaded it onto my IPad, and have flicked through. I can understand the hype and I love the fact that people I know, who never read a book, have bought this one. So, in my opinion, bingo – success! Fingers crossed the ‘Grey’ readers catch the reading bug and continue to purchase or borrow novels.

And finally, Saturday night, last night, I attended a wedding reception of an old school friend and had the time of my life catching up with others that I hadn’t seen in 25 years!!!! It was like a mini reunion, though totally unexpected and yet, a sheer joy – which has made my week. This morning, I woke incredibly early, and sat supping tea with the biggest smile on my face. Of course the old creative juices have taken hold and I did manage to sketch the plot for a short story – which I will dedicate to the class of ’87.

I have returned to polishing my novel ‘Her’ as a manuscript copy is expected by the Romantic Novelists Associations’ New Writer Scheme – so, it’s my intention to continue this for another week.

I still haven’t heard a word from any publishers – so again, no news is good news! But I did check out this website which boosted my faith just a little. If they can survive rejection – then, so can I. Visit: - it makes very interesting reading.

So, all in all, I do ask for forgive for being sooooo late with this update – but I have given you fair reasons. Life’s simply ace at the moment ….wouldn’t it be good if that one little letter could arrive from a publisher – boy, that would be (words would simply fail me).

Remember you can follow me on Twitter @odwyer_author to receive random updates throughout my week. A big hello to all my new followers – it’s so wonderful to receive mentions and comments. Enjoy!