Friday, 31 August 2012

Submissions, genealogy and cake baking

Hello folks – today, is officially my last weekday on school holiday so I thought I’d make the most of it and surprise you with an early blog update.

I’ve had a fabulous week, jam packed with lots of research for my new project ‘Weigh’ which I shall begin drafting tomorrow - another reason for the early post. Anyhow, I’ve finally completed my characters sketches and have been working on the nitty-gritty of their roles and lives. I’ve watched countless baking and cookery programmes to gain some know-how on commercial cake baking and decorating – I can bake but it’s not a particular strength of mine. In the name of research, I have discovered a local cupcake cafĂ© – which is a total delight, from which I shall be ‘borrowing’ ideas and frequenting often. Today, the research has continued, I have baked a coffee and walnut cake – which I shall ply hubby with as soon as he arrives home. I’m all for the ‘must live it, to write it’ research and yes, I’d forgotten how much your arm aches trying to cream rock hard butter (which I forgot to leave out to warm to room temperature - dooh). So, after much indulgence and internet research I am making a start tomorrow 1st September – I shall let you know how it goes.

For numerous years I have been tracing my family tree, which offers an escape from the realities of life. I like to incorporate family names into my novels as a personal way of linking memories and genealogy discoveries. In ‘Her’ I used a family surname, a second name and forename and I wished to continue this aspect in my new project. So, I’ve been scouting my records for the right choices, from the opposite side of the family – I like to be fair. I think lots of authors weave tiny details such as this into their work as a means of securing a special detail, which I know family and close friends will take delight in.

As I prepare for Monday morning and the return of the day job, I have tried to reflect upon why this has been the most productive holiday that I’ve ever had. The answer - deadlines! Having joined the RNA New Writers’ Scheme I had to work to their deadline 31st August (which is today, eeeekkkk I hope everyone made it). Anyway, I had no option. Nothing else was necessary for me, as everything dropped into place from the moment I broke up from school – I did nothing but work on the manuscript for a month. Previously, my deadlines had always been self imposed and if life pushed it aside than I just went with it. Not this time, I’ve learnt my lesson. So, I have a self imposed deadline for the writing of my first draft of ‘Weigh’ and come 31st August next year, I will have a second book to submit to the RNA NWS.

And finally, in recent weeks, I’d received a rejection for my poem ‘Poodle in a puddle’, so today, I posted three submissions to a new selection of children’s publishers – one more piece doing the rounds in the big wide world.

Remember you can follow me on Twitter @odwyer_author to receive random updates throughout my creative week. A big ‘thank you’ to all my new followers – the crowd is growing day by day. Please pass my blog to anyone who might be interested. Enjoy

Saturday, 25 August 2012

New project, routine and submissions.

Morning – as you know, I had a fabulous week last week due to completing my manuscript for submission to the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers’ Scheme. It might sound strange but this was actually the second time I had finished ‘Her’, the first being last December. Though, with an additional subplot and a change about in chapter order I do feel that the recent draft is truly the finish. So, what did I afterwards? Having spent every day of my six week holiday editing or proofreading – I took the remainder of the day off and indulged myself in an afternoon of film and… Dan Brown’s ‘The Lost symbol’ – which hubby has finally finished.

Wednesday saw the beginning of another project ‘Weigh’, one that has leap frogged ahead in my creative queuing system – I’d already started a new work-in-progress ‘To honour and obey’ - but this will have to wait. As my new, new project which was barely an idea a few weeks ago has grown; the characters began to form immediately and plot ideas sprung from no where - I couldn’t ignore it. I started as I always do by numbering a journal pad, a page for each chapter and then began laying out a manuscript book with the details of the characters and places. I grabbed a clothing catalogue and began searching for my cast of characters, snipping and gluing as I went. By Wednesday evening I had the beginning of a plot floating about my mind.

I promise you now, that this new project is not going to take me six years and four months to write – like ‘Her’ did. I have a plan! Oh, yes, I’ve thought it through. My intention is to get this book written in the next six months!!!! I hear you gasping but I think I can do it. My daily life has become more streamlined thanks to qualifying, as a teacher, which in turn will allow me more time to write. At work, I will also have a place to write during my lunch break - my brand new classroom! So, a daily routine is established – we’ll see how it pans out.

I had two writers’ group meeting last week – both very different and both very necessary for my needs. The Mad Hatters had a lot of chit chat this week prior to critiquing, and the Grace Dieu was bursting with people so a new energy was gained in seeing returning members. My theory is that with autumn fast approaching the hobby writers start to settle back into a writing routine having spent the longer days out and about. This week’s meeting certainly gave a boost to the numbers which had started to flag a little.

I have one remaining week on holiday before school starts – so my plans are to submit a poem to a children’s publisher, continue to jot chapter ideas for ‘Weigh’ and finish two writing exercises set by the groups.

Remember you can follow me on Twitter @odwyer_author to receive random updates throughout my creative week. A big ‘thank you’ to all my new followers – the crowd is growing day by day. Please pass my blog to anyone who might be interested. Enjoy

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

'Her' manuscript - Romantic Novelists' Association New Writers' Scheme

Hi folks - rarely do a mid-week update but today is special! Today, literally just, I posted my manuscript of 'Her' for entry in this years' New Writers' Scheme! Yay, oh yay, it has taken it out of me the last four weeks doing nothing but rewrititng, editing and proofreading but, I made it, I did it.

Yesterday, I printed the finished manuscript so it was a celebratory dinner last night - today, off it goes wingings its way to Norfolk.

For those that haven't followed the blog, I initially finished my manuscript last December 2011, but knew it needed an extra little TLC for entry into the NWS. So, with the deadline of 31st August looming, I have managed to add in a few juciy sub plots and rehaul some chapters which are a improvement to last December's draft. So, my news for the day, shared with my you guys, I have offically written a novel - it only took me six years.

So, what do I with myself today? 

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Chapters, proofreading and Pemberley

Good evening, sorry again for a late up-date but I was out enjoying myself with other writers so please forgive me, us.
Today, I attended my very first Romantic Novelists’ Association ‘Chapter’ meeting in Birmingham – basically the local members in this area met informally for a catch up and a meal. Before attending I only knew one member, the organiser, who I’d bumped into at the RNA conference back in July – today, I met seven other members, who were a delight. We met at midday and lunched/chatted until half two when we each went our separate ways – but boy, did we get through some topics in such a short time. One member brought along a proof copy of his book which he has self-published – I hung onto his every word as he explained how he did it. I was so impressed with his efforts and results! Other members explained about their writing journey and recent New Writer Scheme submissions and the feedback reports. Other member shared her positive feedback from two publishers – which is always nice to hear from a fellow writer. All in all, we had delightful meeting and catch up and I can’t wait for the next one in November. I had a personal delight - several members had remembered my name from the conference which just adds to the ‘magic’ of networking.

My week has been a tough slog of proofreading 73 chapter of my 80 chapter manuscript -yes, just seven to go! I have literally sat and read my book aloud to the dog!!! I spotted and corrected typos/punctuation as I went. I also picked up on my over use of the term ‘OK’ – which I addressed throughout the manuscript, it was getting on my nerves so it certainly would have annoyed others whilst reading. To be fair, I have found the process of the last three weeks tough in regards the hours I’ve dedicated to the job. As a teacher I do about fifty hours a week, as a fulltime writer (which I am when on school holidays) it is nearer sixty/seventy!!! I kid you not, I have spent so long sitting down that I have begun to ‘set’ on some days. But hey, it is all necessary to push me towards a polished manuscript and publication.

Wednesday night, I met up with a fellow writer friend who now resides in Prague. He was on a fleeting visit to the UK, so me and Mal Dewhirst opted for a meet-up. We didn’t critique work but instead sat and chatted about anything g literature – what an indulgent time we had!!! I truly miss the days when we exchanged news and views about the publishing world focusing on anything and everything other that our own work.

I had hoped to have started reading Dan Brown’s ‘The Lost Symbol’ by now, but as mentioned last week hubby is currently reading the text and so, I having finished reading Suzanne Collins’ ‘The Hunger Games’ had to seek elsewhere. Where better than PD James ‘Death come to Pemberley’, now, if you follow this blog you’ll know Austen is one of my passions (I know, I have far too many) and so far, I haven’t been disappointed. The plot picks up where Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’ finishes and with the addition twist of James’ criminal mind has evolved an excellent read. I won’t ruin it for others but it is very obvious James’ also has a lifelong obsession with Austen. I highly recommend it.

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!

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Apologies, critiques and the anticipation of Dan Brown

Morning world, sorry for such a late blog - I never blog on a Tuesday. My excuses are plentiful so hear me out, please. Last week I clocked up an impressive 65 hours on my rewrite of ‘Her’ in preparation for RNA submission. I have never completed such a tally in my life – though to be fair, I’ve never been granted that amount of time in one week. I was joyous and elated about my efforts. The state of play is that ‘Her’ now has 80 chapters containing 100,000 words – which I’m currently proofreading for the final time before printing and posting. It has been a gigantic task to get to this stage but I’m nearly there and will continue to plod.

I missed one group meeting due to an untimely call of duty regards collecting husband from work, but I did manage to attend my Grace Dieu Writers’ Circle – which I chaired for the evening. We had a fair mix of members and the poetry and prose were as distinct in style. One member read two critiques which she’d received each relating to the same piece. They couldn’t have contrasted more – which led to a discussion regards the services and agencies available to writers. We agreed that with so many critique services whose opinion can you trust? I personally abide to the rule of ‘write the book I wish to read, to the best of my ability’ – it doesn’t suit all people but I certainly don’t wish to experience what one member had. She received a critique which clearly outlined the faults with her novel, the member did a complete re-write based on their suggestions, six months later sent it back to the same critique, only to have them suggest that the plot didn’t work and suggest her original format/ideas back to her!!! I ask you, who can keep the faith with an experience like that?

Friday, I received a rejection letter from a children’s publish in relation to my poem ‘Poodle in a puddle’ – I shall now seek another publisher.

Friday, and here’s the reason I’m so late bogging – me and hubby went to London for the Olympics!!! Yay, I know, it was fabulous! We took the train on Friday morning and stayed till Sunday evening in the capital soaking up the atmosphere and attending the Football final, Brazil v Mexico, at Wembley. I was very impressed. We certainly got it right on so many levels. I was a little sad to think it has now finished - but hey, I have the ParaOlympics to look forward too.

This week I finished reading book one of ‘The Hunger Games’ by Collins – it has taken me longer than I’d wished but I’ve enjoyed the story. My next book, which hubby is currently reading, is going to be Dan Brown’s ‘The Lost Symbol’. I know many criticize his work but I love the pace of his books. I’ve been intrigued watching husband jump up from reading, dash to the internet check a detail and then return to his seat. So, I can’t wait to get my paws on it. I keep asking him what page he’s on? That’s how impatient I am.

So, short and sweet, but that is a true account of my week – Olympics and ‘Her’. This week I am catching up with an old writing friend on Wednesday – but the rest of my week I shall be working and tweeting my progress. Saturday, I have a RNA Chapter meeting in Birmingham which I’m looking forward to meeting up with local RNA members.

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

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Twelve hour days, a posse of poets and a second Kindle eBook

Morning followers – I’m in the mood for work today, so literally had to pull myself away from the laptop to ensure our weekly date. How the devil are you? Good, I’m hoping. Which is pretty much how I’m feeling having had an excellent week at my laptop reworking ‘Her’. I’m sending the manuscript into the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writer Scheme so am preparing my manuscript to be read and critiqued by a published author. Yikes, the excitement. I’ve given myself until Tuesday to prepare and post – I. Can. Do. This!

Last Sunday afternoon, I produced a poem to accompany a letter to a newspaper requesting details of the current Poet Laureate of Leicestershire. The Grace Dieu Writers’ Circle are embarking on a charity event and were hoping to have some local support. Anyhow, the group decided a basic letter would be too plain, so to reinforce our talent the members were asked to produce a poem. Me, being a good girl, sat down to complete my homework and produced a little ditty which may persuade the newspaper to assist. 

Monday through to Friday afternoon evolved about the manuscript ‘Her’. The list of things I haven’t done this week is endless: house cleaning, jogging, gym session, school work, appointments and socializing have all disappeared so I could focus on the manuscript, from ten in the morning to roughly ten at night. On the majority of mornings I haven’t showered and dressed much before lunch time – ahhhh, what bliss, a job you can perform in your pjs.

Well my progress report reads as follows: Monday was spent proofreading and tinkering with layout. Tuesday, I had an idea for an additional plot line. Wednesday and Thursday were spent drip feeding that additional plot line into the chapters and Friday, well Friday I nearly had a heart attack! After thirty minutes of working, the laptop screen went black. I kid you not, I couldn’t speak. I wasn’t concerned regards the manuscript, as I methodically save that to external disk, but the idea that my current working pattern was to be interrupted by a poorly laptop completely threw me. Husband was at work, and so the poor dog was the only witness to my shocked expression, which lasted for a full 90 minutes. In that time, I had resigned myself to work on another computer to complete the task and purchase a new laptop but suddenly, without warning, the screen began working. I took it to be due to overheating – which given the hours I have clocked up this week, I can appreciate and understand.

During dog walks, yes, I still managed those, I came up with two plausible ideas for new novels. Now, I thought I was sorted for my next novel idea ‘To honour and obey’ but one of the two new ones seems a better option and so, I have started to jot down ideas in preparation. The first idea came via a song I was listening to on my Ipod, the second, inspired by a comment I made to a young woman at the Grace Dieu Writers’ Circle. Both seem feasible, but without plotting and planning a little more I don’t know which to pursue. I have created files for each, as I’d hate to lose the thread of ideas.

During another dog walk, I bumped into a trio of poets, Mal Dewhirst, Jo Bell and Gary Longden enjoying a day trip on a canal barge. The rest of my day, my mind was trying to figure out the collective noun for a canal barge of poets - a posse of poets? A pocket of poets? A lock of poets? A parody of poets? Who knows but it was quite a sureal moment seeing the unexpected on a dog walk - see what us creative types do inorder to court inspiration?

I have been thourghly spolit this week by the London 2012 Olympics. Not only have I had the coverage on in the background while I've worked this week but I was cheeky enough to get additional tickets for the ladies football. I went to cheer and support Team GB ladies play Canada last night, at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry. It was a great game but we were certainly outplayed by the Canadians - they deserved the 2-0 win. I'm not even going to mention how many heart warming/tear jerk moments I've had this week - I might dissolve into more floods by recalling - am a soppy head.
And finally, some exciting news – I have published my second short story on Amazon via Kindle. The story ‘Caught in the act’ started life as a Mad Hatters’ group exercise, where each member writes a story based on a single inspiration. The story is set during the winter months but I wanted to share the story rather than wait for the Christmas season.
As usual, all I ask is that if you enjoy the story, please return to leave feedback – I really would appreciate it.

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!