Wednesday, 31 October 2012

NaNoWriMo 2012

Evening folks - a quick little update as you know I love to share. At midnight National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) begins - which means some craziness occurs as we try to write 50,000 words between
1-30 November.

I have attempted this feat once before in 2009 , but I bailed out in the second week. I can assure you this year will be different - I will be victorious! 2012 has been such a fabulous year, so far, I feel it can only get better by participating and completing this challenge.

My novel title is 'Pooch Parade' and it revolves about dog training/walking - I don't know much more than that, but hey, I shall find out in the next 30 days! I have placed a small word count widget on the left hand panel so you can keep a close eye on me. My friend Helen Phifer, who has previously completed the challenge will also be checking up on me, she'll kick my ass aswell should I consider pulling out before
50, 000 words have been spun from my finger tip.

As the clock strikes midnight - I will be seated at my desk so I can enjoy a nocturnal writing session to get me started.

Follow me on Twitter @odwyer_author - I shall see you just after midnight!

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Memories, Chairing and Surprising Ben!

Morning folks, I’m officially on school holiday, I can’t describe just how good that feels. I have spent the week motoring on reserve energy and really don’t know how I made it to Friday, but I did.

I had an extra busy week, as day-job work intensifies at the end of term as you want everything ship-shape for the beginning of the next. Anyway here’s an account of my week.

Monday – I was exhausted by the day job as it was a parents’ day event – so I had appointments with students and their family from 7:45am through to 6pm – a long day. By the time I arrived home, my voice was broken and I was too knackered to write - I just wanted food and then bed.

Tuesday – I was absent from school for my Teacher Training Graduation. OMG, disaster! If you’ve followed this blog for a while you’ll know I qualified on 1st June, so was looking forward to having a fabulous day of celebration alongside hubby and mum. It never happened. I had planned and paid for everything eight weeks ago but, I suppose it must happen to someone, but my graduation robes hadn’t been delivered to the venue. I’d stood in line to be robed, handed over my confirmation slip and number, only to have the man say ‘they’re not here’. I honestly thought he was joking. My heart hit my stomach, as I stood watching him fumble with row after row of graduation robes. They quickly ushered me aside, away from the other ‘happy’ student, to explain ‘this never happens, honestly’ – I should have gone home at this point, really I should. We stood as three listening to their constant assurance that everything would be fine – no, my memory was tarnished and there was no way it would be O.K. Anyway, to cut an incredibly long story short by four hours – I did graduate in a set of robes secured by another student from the afternoon ceremony. Did we go for a celebration meal? No. Did I drink champagne? No. I came home, changed and moped on the sofa for the rest of the day – before writing my letters of disappointment to Hogwarts Ltd who provide ceremonial robes – hey, let’s hope they get it right for the next Coronation!

Wednesday – I had the joy of day-job colleagues helping me to laugh about the events of Tuesday! The girls are making me a set from black bin liners so the same doesn’t occur at my next graduation in 2014 – oh, yeah, I already know they’ll be another. Good job really!

Thursday – I buzzed about work like a blue bottle at a window trying my hardest to get everything in order for my form group’s class assembly on Friday. There has been lots of problems by I had written a small scene script for them to follow and we’d filmed it last week – though it needed finishing ready for Friday. On the evening, I chaired the Grace Dieu Writers Circle – which was a great success. I have performed this task once before, so I enjoyed it this time rather then let the nerve take over. We had a decent turnout of members too – which helps. The meeting’s theme was ‘horror’ due to the nearing Halloween celebrations and the members didn’t fail to impress. We had lots of short stories and a poem related to the theme. This morning I have typed the minutes and emailed them to the members. During the meeting we had several interesting discussion, the first was about workshops – many members have experience of attending one of the many advertised. It really was a mixed bag of opinions, some positive, many negative. We discussed the quality, content and experience of the leading mentor – and decided that the reason for the workshop could determine the outcome. Some did it purely for the hard cash and others because they genuinely wished to support fellow writers in their journey towards publication. Interesting topic. On arriving home, I suffered a massive migraine – which kept me up till four in the morning – oh well, these things happen.

Friday – boy, was I glad to see Friday! It slipped by in a dream as I could hardly keep my eyes open having had very little sleep. The highlights of my day was having another unexpected visit from Barbara Catchpole, who magically appeared in my teaching room – always a please to receive such a smile. The next was my form group’s assembly – the entire assembly hall roared with laughter – they did me proud. I cried with laughter and yet, I’d seen it several times through. Anyhow, the school bell finally rang loud and clear – holiday time! Believe it or not, it took three journeys to my classroom to load my car with books and papers – but hey! The saddest moment of today was saying goodbye to a dear friend – I don’t class many people at the day-job as a friend, just a handful, but one young man is definitely in the group. Ben is off to travel the world and I pray that he will come home to us at school and train as a teacher, when his itchy feet have settled. I hate goodbyes, with a passion and struggled to hold the tears at bay. He’s been a smiling face every time I’ve hollered at my IT not working, he’s been my Ma Parker bitch collecting my lunch every Friday, my little brother at work and I am so going to miss him. So much so, I let him into my secret as a final present hoping he keeps in touch throughout his travels. I’ll miss you, matey. My classroom won’t be the same without you walking through offering me a smile and tea!

27th Oct, today is a strange day for me - mixed emotions regards events that have previously occured on this day. But one very happy event is the celebration of a childhood friend who is 40 today. He doesn't know this but seeing him as a baby is my earliest memory. I remember being picked up as a tiny child, and ducking my head under the hood of a pram, to view a sleeping baby. The image is so clear, I could draw it. My mum confirmed many years ago my details of the navy blue pram with the string of yellow ducks strung across the hood front. Its comforting to know who the baby was, and today I wish him the happiest of birthdays.

So, finally to my holiday – my plan Stan for the coming week is:

Send ‘Her’ out to more agents.
Begin the NaNoWriMo challenge on 1st November
To complete an inventory of my short stories

Remember you can follow me on Twitter by searching for odwyer_author – that way you can accompany my creative holiday. Enjoy!

Friday, 19 October 2012

W.I.P Creativity, Barbara Catchpole and P.I.G.

Evening folks – some spare time on a Friday night – so, here is anther early update. Allin all, I’ve had a pretty decent week. Last weekend I read seven chapters from my current project to hubby – his critique ranged from ‘you’re further on than I thought’, ‘I can see that character in my mind’ and ‘you’ve relocated the row of cottages near the pub, haven’t you?’ Yes, yes I have! Anyhow, he enjoyed what I’d produced and now I’ll make a start on the next seven chapters. If only he knew not only have I moved the miners’ cottages but I’ve pinched the local road layout too.

Monday was a manic day at work, so I arrived home with a bad head – a wasted night. Tuesday evening saw me rushing like a mad man trying to fit two nights of writing into one. Why does my brain do that? My W.I.P. is becoming real with each chapter - the characters are starting to talk to me, their actions and behaviour is surfacing and the chapters are flowing nicely. I feel quite smug, for once.

Wednesday saw me attend the world smallest writers’ meeting with the Mad Hatters’ – just two of us. We’d had several apologies and one no-shower (who we worried about due to the lack of communication – though totally unnecessary). The two of us spent the evening chatting about anything related to writing and poetry – a very relaxed meeting which finished at the normal time.

Thursday saw me and my form group produced a scary movie themed about Halloween trick and treating. The kids had a great time dressing up and acting – though secretly, not as much as I did. Thursday evening saw me curled on the sofa with my ‘Harry Potter’ reading book which is part of my Open University literature course.

Friday – was a sheer delight! I welcomed the author Barbara Catchpole into my English lesson to give the children a talk about her P.I.G. books, published by Ransom Books. Barbara encouraged the children to produce the outline of a character and begin creating an idea for a story. She filled the classroom with happy, smiling faces for the entire hours – which is more than I do on a Friday morning, period 3. Barbara generously shared her creative thought process, daily writing routines and the inspirations which helped to create her series of P.I.G. books for children. Anyway, after a few photographs for local press publicity Barbara said her hearty goodbyes – the children were disappointed to hear the school bell signal their next lesson, I am sure that her enthusiasm has ignited lots of creative thinking.

And finally, to this weekend – my plans revolve about an study essay that I have to write regards ‘Harry Potter’ book – woohoo! The rest of the weekend will fall into place about this central focus. If I get the chance I will be working on the W.I.P. – attempting to put together the next few chapters. A decent dog walk and dog training will definitely be on the agenda to blow the cobwebs away. And, it goes without saying I’ll be twittering as I go. You can follow me by searching for odwyer_author – that way you can accompany my journey as I walk it. Enjoy!

Friday, 12 October 2012

Submission, NaNoWriMo 2012 and surprise!

Hello my lovelies, how the devil are you? I had a spare half an hour so thought I’d spend it with you guys! So, sit back and enjoy an early post on a Friday evening.

I’ve had a strange week, some highs and low in the creative department, many highs and lows in the day-job department but, all in all, a decent week.

I left you last week, trying to write a submission piece for the Stroke Association’s Celebratory book – well, the little grey cells worked wonders and an idea transpired. You’ll remember that the inspiration had to be the number 20, so I’d opted for the 20th element on the periodic table, calcium. Anyhow, I spent Saturday morning researching and by the evening I had the draft I needed. A short piece of 250 words but it was jam packed with information. It took me right back to my study days and science classes. Writing a factual piece made a refreshing change, as I usually stick to fiction, though I did craft the piece from a creative angle. I went to bed last Saturday very happy with my submission but, I kid you not, I woke at 7am on Sunday morning less than impressed with the final line. So, I had no option than to change it. Hey presto, within minutes the editing was complete and I the submission sent.

You may remember that I’ve decided to enter this year’s NaNoWriMo and so, my head has been busy plotting and planning. My writing buddy Helen Phifer is going to kick my ass good and proper if I don’t complete – so there is no fear of me failing this year. With Helen’s support I can do this, I can do this, I can do this…. (my mantra for the entire month of November). Anyhow, I have decided upon an idea which relates to my dog training classes – yep, I’m going to use all the little ideas that I’ve collected over 16 months - but that’s all I’m sharing with you, for now. I plan to write each lunch time at the day-job and then at home on the weekends. I have already worked out that I need to write 1667 words per day – which is a comfortable amount once I get going.

Tuesday night found me at my desk busy with a writing session. I managed to introduce another hunk into the plot, one which I found myself falling for in a strange authoress kind of way. I thought I could land this guy with a few personal secrets, which are in fact mine, but hey, it was good fun creating a male me and I’m sure he’ll cope better than I ever have. The novel is beginning to take shape and the characters are coming alive – though the interaction isn’t as smooth as I’d like – but hey, that’s what editing is for.

Wednesday night was robbed from me by a stinking headache from the day-job. The evening was a total wipe out - the only good thing was hubby making me a rhubarb crumble to indulge my mood.

Thursday evening, I missed attending my Grace Dieu Writers’ Circle as I attended Jackie Kay’s appearance at Birmingham Book Festival. I wasn’t as enthralled as I was a week ago at seeing Simoin Armitage but none the less, she was very good. Talking of Simon Armitage – I think the kids at school are now sick of me mentioning it. I actually taught ‘The Clown Punk’ this week to a class of yr9 – which made me smile.

Which brings me to tonight, Friday night. There’s probably one hour remaining before I dive into my pit for a decent sleep. Tomorrow my plans revolve about school work and lesson planning. Sunday is marked as my writing day. I am hoping to write another chapter of ‘Weigh’ – which will see the action truly flow between the characters. I do have some university work to complete – but that’s more of a leisurely pace than usual so I can sit back and enjoy that study session.

Earlier today, I sent an email reserving my membership within the Romantic Novelists Associations’ New Writers’ Scheme. A job that I’ve been meaning to do for a few weeks – so hands off, nobody will be getting my place on the NWS, unless of course I get a publishing deal in the very near future.

And finally, I surprised another friend today with my ‘secretwriter’ secret – I really do love telling people my news. Its not that they don’t expect me to be doing something interesting, its more a case of wow, you do that aswell!

As always, you can follow me on Twitter @odwyer_author to receive random updates throughout my creative week. The follower numbers are going through the roof – which humbles me greatly. Enjoy x

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Simon Armitage, calcium and ‘If’.

Good morning, at this slightly stupid-o’clock-time-to-be-up on the weekend – my brain literally won’t switch off – so, I shall make the most of it.

My week has been a roller coaster of emotions and temperaments. Last weekend, I had a heavy, heavy heart due to sad news, throughout the week I’ve supported others whilst experiencing elation regards my own personal achievements. Phew, I’m emotionally knacked! Which goes some way to explaining why the old brain is a whirring. Any way, at a writers’ meeting this week a poet, Mal Dewhirst, duly quoted Kipling’s ‘If’ – and yes, it was very appropriate, as was ‘if all around you are losing their heads, and you’re staying calm – maybe you don’t quite understand the situation’ was is possibly nearer the mark.

Monday and Tuesday saw very little writing occur as I had the day job to contend with – class observations and all that razzamatazz. Anyway, once achieved, I returned to my W.I.P. At first, it felt strange working with new characters and settings but now, I. Am. Loving. It. Tuesday evening, I had a read through of the first six chapters and critically assessed each characters’ introduction, setting and situation – I surprised myself, which was nice.

Wednesday night, saw me attending the Mad Hatters’ Writing group – I didn’t take anything to read, as the chapter I wanted to read needs a slight tweak. Strange, but I literally don’t want the group to critique what I already know needs attention. So, I attended and critiqued their work instead. I’ve mentioned before that there are only four regular attendees, we have two others that attend when they can. So, we do have quite a varied agenda from critiquing work, chatting about anything literary and anything obscurely related. The group must have entered some kind of time warp on Wednesday night, as we were critiquing and chatting for about four hours and yet, only two and a half hours had past on the clock???? Strange, but hey, bonus time - an early night! The congratulations of the evening went to Mal Dewhirst, who will be inaugurated into the role of Staffordshire’s first Poet Laureate tomorrow, 4th October - National Poetry day.   

Thursday evening, provided another carefree night at the laptop pummeling away at the W.I.P. plus, I got to watch the first of the new series of Downton Abbey – yep, that’s right, I’m only four weeks behind the t.v. schedule.

Friday was a day of mixed emotions. It was the funeral of baby Campbell Burns – I thought about his fmaily all day, as I couldn’t attend. The day job simply turned manic. By the evening, I needed to be soothed by the dulcet tones of Simon Armitage, appearing at the Birmingham book Festival, to talk about his new book ‘Walking Home’. The added delight was having my copy signed and chatting briefly to him about ‘Clown Punk’ which is currently on the GCSE exam syllabus. Bless him, he seemed quite embarrassed by the honour. Hubby was cheeky enough, as always, to ask for a leaflet of the event to be signed – bless him, Simon immediately drew a pair of glass and a squiggly moustache onto his photo and signed it. What a lovely chap!

Which brings me back to this morning, having spent my early wake-up chatting with you guys, I am about to head off for my weekly dog trek – miss muse included. I’ve just purchased, as a reward, a year’s adoption of a donkey called Oscar, as a class pet for my form group and now, my day can begin. Sometime today, I shall be writing a piece about the element calcium – which has the twentieth position within the periodic table. I shall be submitting the short piece sometime tomorrow, for consideration in the Stroke Associations celebratory book organised by Mal Dewhirst. Hopefully, the piece flows nicely and I get chance for more W.I.P writing before bed time.

As always, you can follow me on Twitter @odwyer_author to receive random updates throughout my creative week. The follower numbers are going through the roof – which humbles me greatly. Enjoy x

p.s. - that was the 100th blog post - boy, oh boy!