Saturday, 29 September 2012

Children’s literature, W.I.P and The Campbell Burns Metabolic Trust

Hi folks – a late update today. This morning, I was busy attending my first university tutorial for Children’s Literature course. Sorry. So, how the devil are you? I’ve had a busy but delightful week.

Last weekend, you’ll remember that I was reading poetry at a 10th birthday celebration. Well, well the weather was awful, the Gods were definitely against us in every way. It was a wash out. The performance consisted of 7 poets plus 2 husbands, the audience - 3 adults and two children. Certainly, not what I’d been hoping for, but hey, at least our performance spot was changed from underneath the M42 motorway bridge to a warm and cosy room, where we remained dry. The poets present shared the readings, ensuring that the entire trail was read between us. Regulars will know about the Polesworth Poetry Trail that snakes through the village of Polesworth and ends within Pooley Heritage Park, Warwickshire. My hubby took many pictures as it provided a photo opportunity for my scrap book.

Tuesday evening saw me taking full advantage of a silent house – I worked my little socks off on my W.I.P and was delighted with the read-through on Wednesday evening. I’ve found that this project is progressing at a better rate than my first novel ‘Her’ – I’m being more critical with each chapter before moving on – a huge mistake made with the first draft of ‘Her’. So, far the feedback received has been excellent – let’s hope that continues as the chapters grow.

Wednesday saw a reply for the local council regards a research question I had put to them. I had written two letters last weekend requesting additional details. I shall be honest, I wasn’t expecting to hear anything. So, imagine my amazement when I received such a swift reply, a lovely reply at that, with an additional map included from a council officer. I have kept his name and will, in time, thank him for his efforts.

Thursday evening – saw me at home for a writing evening on the W.I.P. I have to say, as I sat at my desk I realised autumn has arrived - my toes were freezing cold. The view from my seat was beautiful, a dusky autumn sky but woo, the heating needs to be put on. I actually love the autumn session – the colours, smells and dark nights drawing in - provide me with a visual reminder that I’ll have plenty of hours indoors to spend writing.

Friday night – gave me a precious moment of reflection regards life and the entangled webs we weave. I attended a ‘Thank You’ bash – where I knew hardly anyone, but everyone made me most welcome. It was a party for hubby’s friends – but it gave me plenty of time to people watch and take note of the joys of life.

And so, to today. As I mentioned before I attended my university course tutorial this morning – this year’s crowd seemed very nice, the tutor - awesome! I have already begun my studies so I came away feeling very content with the path I’ll be treading between now and next May – I’ll let you know how I get along.

I’ve been out for my weekly trek with the pooch – he needs a decent walk, and so do I, to blow away the cobwebs having spent all week in school. Today, as always, I dragged my muse along for her weekly exercise – which she reluctantly attends. And, yet again, I arrived home with a head full of creative ideas, a renewed energy and a willingness to work.

Finally, throughout my time writing this blog, I have always tried to be honest regards my creative journey and my experiences as a writer. Well today, I must continue. And so, I do reveal that I have a heavy heart today, for I received the saddest news this morning. I have previously mentioned ‘The Campbell Burns Metabolic Trust’, created by a fellow writing friend to blog the progress of her baby son Campbell, who was diagnosed with Leigh’s disease. Tragically, baby Campbell lost his eight month battle yesterday afternoon – those who have followed their daily blog cannot help but be touched by this baby’s incredible story.

As always, you can follow me on Twitter @odwyer_author to receive random updates throughout my creative week. But more, much more importantly this week - love the ones you love – life is so precious. X

Saturday, 22 September 2012

NANOWRIMO, Writing groups and Celebrations

Morning folks – I’m on an early start today, as I’ve got a ‘To-Do’ list as long as my arm. My first job is to visit the local library for a research session using maps of the local area. Then, if there is time, I would like to do some botany research relating to my current W.I.P. It will be a race against time as the library only opens for half a day on a Saturday – so, what I haven’t found by one o’clock will have to wait for another day.

But firstly, how was my week? A bit bumpy and lumpy, if I’m honest. Last weekend was filled with study and writing which set me on the right track for the week ahead. I managed to have an entire day of writing which paved the way for many ideas to be secured and saved. Though, the Victoria sponge I made, as research, was a complete disaster! How it ended up so flat and hard was beyond me but hey, it only goes to prove my coffee and walnut cake truly is my specialty.

Any way, Monday was a no-go regards writing – I was far to busy with family. Tuesday was a sheer delight. After work I knuckled down for four hours after a full day at work – heaven. Tuesday, also saw me contemplating participation in NANOWRIMO 2012 – where you write a novel draft between 1st – 30th November – just 30 days. Anyway, my RNA writing buddy Helen Phifer suggested it and yeah, I’m up for it. It’ll mean a slight change of plan regards my current project but I can do that. As I’ve mentioned before I do have a creative queue of ideas so I shall swing with one of those. The official website will be update in October, but there is nothing stopping you from signing up now. For further details please check out the website:

Wednesday night – I did attend my writing group but it wasn’t without fuss. We had a few members absent, which I hadn’t known about, so was told that with just three members, the other two didn’t want to attend. I was so miffed. I had given up precious writing time to prepare my chapter to read, had read another member’s piece twice so I could give her feedback and had refused another invitation for the same night. So at eight in the morning the writing group had cancelled the meeting. Now, if you’re part of a writing group you’ll know that there can be many issues and difficulties that arise – but the group gets through them with as little fuss as possible but sometimes, just sometimes, you have to speak up. Wednesday morning was one of my moments. The other two members had cancelled and I felt well and truly cheated. So, I sent a simple email reminding them that the Mad Hatter group wasn’t run by any one person but belonged to each of us as a group of creative individuals. That's actually one of the reasons why our group broke away from a previous group. Cancelling the meeting made it seem as though our work/critiquing/feedback isn’t worthy or of value. I also wanted member feedback on my piece, regardless of who the members were. Well, within an hour or so they had re-thought and the meeting was back on. Yay! I have to say, they each agreed with my email. Writing can be such a lonely business and the fortnightly meetings help to brighten the routines. I have to say, we had a cracking evening filled with much laughter, which was so much nicer than simply cancelling.

Thursday was a long, long day. I didn’t arrive home from the school job until nine o’clock due to the annual Open Evening night. A colleague had had the brilliant idea of preparing a newspaper in one night - so we’d been busy, busy, busy. Once home, I was too whacked to even read a book, so an early night filled with zzzzzzzzzzzzz was necessary.

And so, back to today. After my research session, I shall be back at my deck to plod away at the current W.I.P. Tomorrow, I have been invited to attend the Pooley Heritage Centre’s ten year celebration – where they have a number of activities going on; poetry readings, local fire engine, face painting - the usual birthday celebration events – though, I have to say, I think the weather will put a stop to most of it plus, I don’t know of any other the Polesworth Poets attending. I’ll have an update for you next week.

Remember you can follow me on Twitter @odwyer_author to receive random updates throughout my creative week. A huge ‘thank you’ to all my new followers – the crowd is growing day by day; I’ll be at one thousand very soon. Enjoy

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Twitter followers, a perfect Saturday and a successful letter

Morning folks – it is a glorious day here, the sun being bright and warm. So, I’ve already completed an early morning dog trek about the local villages, I dragged my muse along for some thinking time – I have a writing day planned and so wanted to get my thoughts flowing before hand
It’s been a busy week, with the day job and the writing – which is all good news – I’d hate to be saying that I was bored, lifeless and had spare time on my hands.
Firstly, I need to say a big hello to my new followers on Twitter – I’ve had a recent splurge to boost my following and I can report back that Talli Roland’s suggestion from the RNA conference do indeed work – I’ve gone from a couple of hundred to seven hundred in a matter of a ten days! It has been wonderful chatting with new bods and hearing your success stories.

Secondly, I received a ten pound gift voucher for a letter I sent to a dog’s magazine several months ago. The voucher is for a pet store so I’ll be nipping in one day next week to purchase a few basics - which allows me to put the cash equivalent into my writing account. You may remember that a while back I mentioned Simon Whalley’s book ‘The Positively Productive Writer’ in which he explains how to increase your writing in a positive manner, I followed his advise and so far, it’s worked!

Last week, I had to forgo my writers meeting with the Grace Dieu Writers’ Circle but it was for a very good cause, I had to do my bit at Blood Donors. I lay there, giving blood, watching the procedure slowly pass about me. As always it was very relaxing and mind stimulating thinking about the characters and lives they each lead – so it goes without saying I have sketched a plot and I’ll keep you informed when it is written. It never fails to amaze me where my idea spring from – the most routine daily systems to the thrice yearly appointments – there is always a story lingering.

My plans for today, as mentioned early, comprise of a day at my desk – nothing else. I have a head full of ideas, fingers that are twitching to type and a hubby that has an afternoon of football to watch on the t.v. A perfect Saturday. Oh, I do have a cake to bake tonight – in the name of research, a plain Victoria sponge.

An update on my W.I.P. - chapter five is coming along nicely. I've a heap of research scattered across the dining room table that needs sorting but I shall ignore it in favour of a writing day.

Remember you can follow me on Twitter @odwyer_author to receive random updates throughout my creative week. I’ve had a huge increase in followers over recent weeks and the traffic to this blog humbles me beyond belief, it honestly does. Enjoy

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Manuscript feedback, routines and resolutions

Morning folks, its little old me again! This morning I was woken by the sounds of hammering on the front door – husband shot out of bed and came back to the bedroom with … my manuscript fresh from RNA NWS. OMG! I hadn’t expected to see it for another five weeks. As you can imagine I tore open the jiffy bag and grabbed for the report. A three page report much longer than I had expected and then I silence descended as I devoured every word. Hubby sat watching, holding his breathe I think, not daring to ask a question. My first comment was ‘yep- I’m happy with that’ I think the poor bloke was relieved that he hadn’t had a duty of consoling a weeping author first thing on a Saturday morning. I can honestly say I am pleased with the feedback, there is a balance of negative and positive – though I feel the pluses far out way the negatives. Comments such as ‘the manuscript shows this is a good writer’ (blush) ‘very readable style of writing’ (blush again) ‘good pace throughout’ – a huge sigh of relief as I was on tenterhooks about that one. My synopsis wasn’t as polished or structured as they’d have liked and there were typos towards the end of the manuscript but hey, I can’t get right first time, can I? Anyway, having read the report twice I have decided to put the manuscript aside for another few weeks, which was my original plan if it hadn’t been returned until October. I will then begin addressing the negatives and my goal is to send out the first three chapters and a new structured synopsis first week in January 2013. Between then and now, I have a weeks holiday in October and two weeks at Christmas to dedicate to polishing and preparing it. In the meantime I will continue with my new project as my ideas need capturing before they dissolve.

So, my morning started with the very best of starts. I needed to free my head of the feedback report and focus on my current project so took the dog for an early weekend trek, which given the glorious weather, was a treat in itself. It is amazing how such a simple task as walking in silence allows the mind to wander and conjure the answer to every creative question. I’ve arrived home realizing that I’ve written the wrong setting for chapter three and that I should write chapter four from a different slant which can introduce the hero. God only knows what the dog thinks about when we’re walking – but I bet his pooch manuscripts coming along just great. OMG! Oh,oh,oh sorry, I literally had to leave typing this blog and make some notes as a great idea just came to me… someone is smiling down at me that’s for sure, I’m like a creative melting pot at the minute,  every thing I see provides another plotline or character. I’ve got more ideas than I can feasible write. I am not complaining, believe me, but how can I fit it all in? The most I can do is keep writing them down and adding bits as they each merge and form - other than that they will have to form an orderly line and patiently queue.

On today’s walk I also took photographs of certain houses which I imagine my characters living in – I shall stick those into my manuscript book later. Lordy, what strange looks a woman gets simply taking a photograph in a residential area – didn’t put me off taking it though.

I returned to school this week – so have had a huge change about in routine. If I’m honest I do look forward to settling back into a daily routine for the autumn/winter months. It’s like New Year resolutions time and I make the most of setting up new habits that enable me to juggle life, school and writing work. As I’ve mentioned before, I now have my own classroom and boy, what a difference it has made. No more dashing from classroom to classroom, dragging piles of books only to find a bomb site of a classroom. Oh no, my room is by far the cleanest in the entire school and I’ve made the most of it by taking anything and everything that I need for my study and my writing.

As a writer/teacher one annual treat for me is the class registers which provide a wealth of new and unusual names from which I can pick and note details. I have to say every year there is something I’ve never heard of or thought of – such a great resource, but shhhh don’t dob me in.  

Last night, in the name of research I baked yet another cake – coffee and walnut from the ingredients that remained after last week. I remembered to leave the butter out this week so creaming it with sugar was so much easier. And this week, hubby won’t be putting it in the fridge to keep fresh which made the butter cream harden on last weeks.

My plans for the rest of the day are: an hour or so of degree study for a children’s literature course – this week I’ve completed all my study at work, which has worked out well – next week I am ‘plot planning’ at lunchtime. Afterwards I shall be at my desk working on the ‘Weigh’ which as always will be interspersed with washing/drying clothes and general family tasks. As ever I’ll be writing in allotted time gaps with the kitchen timer counting every minute of progress. It sounds crazy doesn’t it, but I’ve now found my system for working and I’m sticking to it – it is so psychological it is frightening but hey, it works for me. Writers amongst you are all nodding, non-writing folk probably have a puzzled expression but hear me out, we all get to the finish line in different ways, some more crazier than others. I’m told that Carole Matthews originally started by tying her own leg to the desk as a physical reminder and restraint till her allotted writing was complete – it worked for her!

I've had a 'spring clean' of the blog panels just to spruce it up a little. I've added a list of authors' blogs that I regularly follow and read - please take a look and spread the word.

Finally before I say bye - I'm still reading Dan Brown's 'The Lost Symbol' - oh what a read, I love it. I had to get out of bed just before midnight on Tuesday, grab my Ipad and start searching for a particular painting mentioned just because I had to see the mystery detail... hubby laughed his socks off but it had to be done.
Remember you can follow me on Twitter @odwyer_author to receive random updates throughout my creative week. I’ve had a huge increase in followers over recent weeks and the traffic to this blog humbles me beyond belief, it honestly does. Enjoy