Saturday, 26 December 2015

My year in reading books 2015

A few years ago I complained that academic study had wiped out my life-long passion for reading. As 2015 draws to a close, I can honestly say - I'm cured. I've managed to read 43 books since January and am proud of the variety of genres selected; I've definietly avoided my old trick of sticking to a handful of beloved authors.

This simple app has helped turned about my reading mind-set. Linking up with other readers in a specific book group has helped to vary my monthly read and initiated my 'War and Peace' challenge, which I'll finish reading this Summer.

It's surprising how many titles you intend to read and for how many years only to remain on the shelf untouched. Thanks to the book group many of mine have now been dusted off and polished off allowing space for others.

My reading challenge for 2016 is to complete the alphabet of author names, alongside my W&P challenge. I've got a funny feeling I may struggle on certain letters but hey, let's give it a go!

To view My year in books 2015 take a browse - you might spot a title that you're interested in.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Love Stories Awards - 'New Talent Award 2015'

It has finally happened, the dreamlike state that arrives when someone calls your name. The stomach swirl, the trembling lip and yes, tears of joy arrived last Wednesday evening. For me, it was the beautiful Emily Yau announcing the winner of the 'New Talent Award 2015' at the Love Stories Awards. And I'm delighted to say, I've been perched on cloud nine ever since - I have no plans to return to planet Earth!

For those not present at the awards near Piccadilly Circus, this 'soppy head' did indeed begin to cry, afterwards many authors mentioned how touching it was to see and remember that initial feeling of recognition as an unpublished writer.

I was stunned. I had attended purely to celebrate being one of the shortlisted nine - I hadn't even planned a 'thank you' let alone an acceptance speech! But I stand by my few words 'of thanking those present who have supported me' - you have each given a little bit of yourself, be it interest, time or advice, to aid my writing journey.

Congratulations to Tora Williams, Debbie Fuller-White and Emily Kerr - I was honoured to be amongst such a stunning shortlist! A big 'Thank you' to Sarah Taylor and Kate Nash for organising the Love Stories Award but the biggest 'thank you' goes to my dear RNA friend, Bella Osborne for sharing a very special moment prior to the announcement and drying my tears afterwards.

As I write, my beautiful 'New Talent Award' sits alongside my other treasures - it'll be a constant reminder of happy memories and a boost towards my next goal!

Bella Osborne, moi and Tora Williams at Love Stories Awards

Sunday, 1 November 2015

NaNoWriMo 2015 - let the fun begin!

It has arrived! The beautiful day which I look forward to each year: 1st November. I know it might sound sad to many writers but seriously NaNo is one of the first dates I circle in any new diary. You may have clicked by now, I simply love NaNo!

Last night, I did my usual trick for Halloween and took myself off to bed at nine o'clock - pretty early for a grown adult on a Saturday night but necessary for a NaNo starter. My alarm rang at 23:30 and up I jumped. Seriously, hubby laughs his socks off each year at my enthusiasm to sit alone in my writing room waiting for midnight. But joking aside, it's what I do. I call up websites to ensure I have the precise time, I get my word document loaded and then sit waiting with that first post-it note, on which I've planned my opening chapter. In my head, I wait alongside thousands of others all eager to let the words flow. On the chime of midnight, we're off.

I'd promised myself I'd write for an hour, like last year, but the words just kept coming! I eventually came out of the 'zone' at 3:30am... with 3520 words under my belt! OMG where did they appear from? It was as if the word fairy had flown in through the window and sneakily popped them down.
Anyway, by 4am I returned to the land of Nod.

Roll on this morning and bling the words just flowed for a second session - long may this continue. Though from past experience I know it won't. I know that in next thirty days there will be unforeseen crisis, sheer tiredness and a muse that'll go AWOL when needed. I know there are parties and events booked into the calendar which I'll need to work around plus, the day-job to juggle. Putting all the obstacles aside, I also know that there's an unlimited amount of excitement, enthusiasm and writing delight awaiting the next thirty days. Where my writing buddies will encourage and support my crazy ass tweets at ridiculous o'clock when I've reached another mile stone. Where my husband will smile at my antics and the dog will scowl from the chair having to wait for his walk.

One additional feature to NaNo 2015 is my volunteering to support a newbie during the month to ensure they have the best chance of completing. There were so many years I dreamed of completing NaNo and one failed attempt before Helen Phifer held my hand throughout NaNo 2012 ensuring success. In turn, I've offered to do the same for other newbies so they can experience the sheer thrill and madness of completing NaNoWriMo 2015.

I don't apologise if this isn't your thing, because it wouldn't do for us all to be exited about the same thing. But in recent years both of my completed novels started on 1st November as NaNo drafts - now, why would I look a gift horse in the mouth when it's a golden opportunity to let my imagination fly and result in a draft one.

To join the madness check out the link:NaNoWriMo 2015

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Love Stories Awards: shortlisted 'New Talent Award'

It's been a few weeks since I updated but please forgive me... as I have news! It has taken the week for the information to sink in but I have been shortlisted in the Love Stories Awards 2015 for 'New Talent Award'! I'm both stunned and delighted to see my name amongst the lucky nine selected and doubly honoured that I'm amongst such talented writers.

The ceremony takes place on Wednesday 18th November in central London so, I have a couple of weeks to enjoy the anticipation of such an event.

Good luck to Tora Williams, Alison May and Sheryl Browne who also belong to the RNA Birmingham Chapter.

As always I have to juggle writing with the day-job but I've completed my request for leave - fingers crossed it will be granted.

For full details of other writers shortlisted for the array of awards Love Stories Awards 2015

In the meantime I need to crack on with my projects as NaNoWriMo is fast approaching which will keep me out of trouble until 30th November.

For further details regards NaNoWriMo

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Competitions - chicken soup for the creative soul

Ever wanted a mini escape from your lengthy writing project? I have on plenty of occasions usually when my characters are bickering, the plot has fallen flat and the conflict arc is missing a major meltdown. On those occasions I take myself off 'project' for a day or so to work on something fresh and more immediate regards completion e.g. the short story.

The short story has become a mini crutch within my writer's tool kit to provide instant gratification to my imagination. Over the years I have written many but this year I decided that I would only write a short story that would be sent into the big wide world, so every story became a competition entry. Or rather every quality competition became a potential comforter for those additional moments of creativity.

I have a mini system, but you knew that, to note where and when I've seen forth coming competitions; duly noting the details so when my short story 'chicken soup' required moment strikes I'm pre-prepared. It feels great to plot, plan, draft and redraft in a short space of time. I always feel refreshed to return to my longer project knowing I've had a burst of 'something else'. Competition deadlines are announced so far ahead of time I can diarise time to reread and polish the story before submitting, whilst happily returning and plodding with my longer W.I.P. with renewed gusto!

Anyway, it has worked for me. In recent months I have been shortlisted twice in Writing Magazine for their monthly competitions and feel quite chuffed that my 'chicken soup' for the creative soul material has proved productive.

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Planning for NaNoWriMo begins

It's that time of year again when the nights are drawing in, school term has begun and I'm dreaming of writing 50,000 words in the month of November.  It might only be half a novel but the joy of first draft writing is the part I love. Give me a fresh white page, free flow imagination and a fresh plotline and I'm as happy as a pig in muck. Seriously, I am.

So, October duly arrives on Thursday and I shall begin planning the idea that has been germinating for the last few months. I've already sourced my basic materials but need to complete more research before November arrives. Why so early? Because in previous years I've learnt from my mistakes by leaving the planning too late in October, so much so that one year I was frantically writing while my muse was trying to work out the next chapter - no, no, no! I'm a methodical planner even for NaNoWriMo.

My current writing plan for 1667 words per day is two x one hour writing sessions per week day: one morning, one evening. Yep, it'll be tough with the dark mornings but once my feet hit the carpet and I'm settled at my laptop I am usually fine at 5am. This November we get five days that fall on weekends so they'll be dedicated to pushing ahead. My personal aim is for a draft of 60,000 words which can then hibernate while I return to my current project in December.

Should you wish to link up and join my NaNo buddy list search for ODW11.

For further info regards and their suggested prep visit: NaNoWriMo 

Sunday, 6 September 2015

RNA Afternoon Tea in York

Q. What do you call a gathering of 95 writers for afternoon tea in York's Guild Hall?

A. A booming success!

Seriously, I am  buzzing having attended the RNA Afternoon tea in York yesterday - a fabulous afternoon organised by Lynda Stacey and Jane Lovering. There was cakes, and pastries, scones and the Prosecco flowed, as always!

I was able to chat to Bella Osborne and Julie Stock, my writing buddies but also met several writers who I know via social media but never before spoke to 'in the flesh'.

And when the tea, chat and laughter was flowing very nicely, Milly Johnson, our speaker for the afternoon, rocked the house with a great speech regards the native northern bird. She was an absolute hoot!

John Jackson captured our smiles and Prosecco moments, and then took the time to ensure we received our piccies by night fall.

All in all, what a fabulous event...

Monday, 31 August 2015

Doesn't time fly!

Wow, doesn’t time fly when you’re having fun? Mine certainly has whilst on school holiday and tomorrow, 1st September looms from nowhere. Where did August go?

I’ve had the luxury of seven school-free weeks in which to write… and, I’m proud to say, I’ve used every minute! In addition, I’ve devoured numerous fiction books to satisfy the renewed reader within:

The Lake House – Helen Phifer

No one wants to be Miss Havisham - Brigid Coady

Go set a watchman – Harper Lee

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll

I’ll take New York – Miranda Dickinson

Say it with sequins – Georgia Hill

Easter with Nurse Millie – Jean Fullerton

Sense and sensibility – Jane Austen

As a separate challenge I’ve started Tolstoy’s tome ‘War and Peace’ by means of a daily chapter – I really couldn’t see any other way of conquering it but so far, so good. I’m on track to finish by 10th August 2016!

I have one final week of holiday before the school bell rings - the plan is to continue the routine that I’ve lived for the previous six.

Saturday, 4 July 2015

100,723 creative words

Ever wondered how many creative words you write in a year? Several years ago, I pondered this very question without any chance of ever answering it. But then I read a great book by Simon Whaley's The Positively Productive Writer  who recommends noting down your daily productivity in a spreadsheet as a means of motivation. A book I'd recommend for any writer as it is jam packed with helpful hints on being a productive writer.

My spreadsheet is simple, nothing glamorous: a date, project title, comments and daily total columns - which calculates itself saving me time and effort into weekly, monthly and yearly totals. So, for the past few years this has been my daily habit - I write, then I note the day's word count.

As of 30th June 2015, I have written 100,723 creative words since in the beginning of 2015. That sounds like a whooping amount, an amount I never thought I'd be able to achieve but if you divide it between the number of days it means I write on average 556 words per day, a sizeable yet do-able amount when you work full-time elsewhere. 

I try to write everyday, but like this week there was a ultra, busy Thursday where a big fat zero sits on the spreadsheet but that is frequently counteracted by the days when my fingers dance around the keyboard clocking up the word count.

It won't be to everyone's taste, for some it could even demotivate but for me doing a half yearly inventory of my productivity and progress provides a boost to push me onwards and upwards in my journey.

My aim for the next half year - to average more than the current 556 words per day!

Note: next inventory date 31st December 2015.

Thursday, 11 June 2015


In celebration of the e-launch day for Alison May’s brand new romantic comedy, Midsummer Dreams, I’m posting today on the theme of all things dream-related.

I had a dream… way back in time that one day I’d write a book. A book that I’d love to read, if someone else had written it, which would have my name on the cover and along the spine. A book that I can pick up, seek upon Waterstones’ shelves and sign the inside with my scribbly surname signature. A book that would proceed books two, three, four and possibly even number thirty! A book that would bring warmth and joy to readers, in the same way that so many authors have brought joy, tears and fictional friends into my beautiful world. A book that when the final page is turned and the back cover closed the reader will feel just a smidgen of my imagination remains with them, sitting quietly on a treasured shelf. I had that dream… and hopefully, I’m nearing the point of my dream becoming reality.  

I had a nightmare… that I lost the ability to read. This terrifying nightmare would cause me much pain, hurt and sorrow in my world. A darkness would fall if I lost the ability or passion to read the books that I have treasured all my life, that have decorated my homes, who became my dear friends in times of sadness and my laugh along buddy in times of joy. As a child, C.S. Lewis took my hand and led me through the back of a wardrobe, with fur coats brushing my cheeks and snow drifts nipping at my bare toes, into an amazing world of fiction - one I’m yet to return home from since ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ – to lose my world of books would be my nightmare.     

My dream for the future…

My dream for the future is simple and pure.
A lifetime with books stashed ceiling to floor.
With romance and crime, I’ll plod through each page.
From cover to cover, even scripts for the stage.
I’ll visit the places only dreamt of by man.
Folding page corners to prove where I am!

(©Bernadette O’Dwyer )

About Midsummer Dreams

Four people. Four messy lives. One party that changes everything … Emily is obsessed with ending her father’s new relationship – but is blind to the fact that her own is far from perfect.  Dominic has spent so long making other people happy that he’s hardly noticed he’s not happy himself.  Helen has loved the same man, unrequitedly, for ten years. Now she may have to face up to the fact that he will never be hers.  Alex has always played the field. But when he finally meets a girl he wants to commit to, she is just out of his reach.  At a midsummer wedding party, the bonds that tie the four friends together begin to unravel and show them that, sometimes, the sensible choice is not always the right one.

You can download the kindle edition of Midsummer Dreams

Sweet Nothing, Holly's Christmas Kiss, Cora's Christmas Kiss - out now
Midsummer Dreams - pre-order now


Sunday, 7 June 2015

Synopsis fear, novella and shortlisted

What was I to do now my 'baby' was at the proof-readers? I couldn't waste precious time waiting, or hoping. There was one final task: the dreaded synopsis! Oh dear. I've written quite a few in previous years but the fear remains. Previously I've searched the writing websites for hints and tips but it has still taken me eons of time only to be read by a pro who has criticised my content, structure, inclusion, subplot overkill and language choices. So, it goes without saying... I don't believe I can write a synopsis.

Monday morning arrived, I began the early writing shift which is now the routine - I stared at the screen. I could imagine a beautifully crafted piece but knew that I would actually write the equivalent of a pig's ear. So, my options was to repeat as before or seek something different - in doing so I turned to Julie Cohen's web page recommended at a Tamsyn Murray's Live, Breathe, Love writing workshop in April. Julie provides a synopsis formula consisting of eight paragraphs - I can write eight paragraphs, I've done it before. But what I hadn't done before was written a synopsis that I enjoyed writing, a synopsis that made sense as to why I was including specifics details and a synopsis that once I'd finished I didn't have to change to font size 11 to ensure it sat on one page! In a couple of writing sessions I was done and... the synopsis fear may have gone!

I've also returned to draft one of a winter novella that I planned and started while the W.I.P was in hibernation a few weeks ago. I'm now a third of the way through and am loving the simplified plotlines of a novella. My brain couldn't handle anything chunkier at the minute but this has proved to be the right project as a stop gap. It seems weird writing about snow drifts and mistletoe toe in June but otherwise it is progressing well.

And then Saturday arrived. Saturday was plodding along as an ordinary day in my writing room, I was busy with the winter novella and my Facebook page notifications pinged. Then pinged again and then pinged some more. Curiosity got the better of me and I opened the web to find the lovely Janice Preston congratulating me on being shortlisted for a competition in Writing Magazine. Sure enough she'd provided the evidence in a snap shot of the names, I was indeed there. I hadn't seen it. I ran downstairs, grabbed my unread copy from the table and fumbled through. It was true. I had been shortlisted for the 'opening line competition' the closing date had been February 2015. I had entered a piece called 'Joyce' and have gained my first ever shortlist - I am chuffed. The added bonus was the warm congrats that flowed for the rest of the day from the RNA lovelies via FB and Twitter. So a big thank you to Janice; I wouldn't have seen the page for several more days and thanks to the lovelies for their continued support.

Today, I am attending Writers in Warwickshire at Astley Castle to give a poetry reading as part of the Polesworth Poets. I shall be reading my poem about a little pit pony called 'Jutt' - which is displayed/erected in the Pooley Heritage Centre, Warwickshire. I'm hoping the weather holds and that the audience have an enjoyable morning.

So what was I going to do while my 'baby' was at the proof-readers? It seems that 'be a productive writer' was the answer all along.

Sunday, 31 May 2015

Holiday week - 'To-do' list - I did it!

Have you ever written a 'to do' list and thought, I've not a hope in hell of getting this done? Last weekend, that was me. My list detailed every task I knew had to occur regards my current W.I.P: changes, deletions, additional details and then a full copy edited. It was school holidays, I had one week away from the day-job to focus on my 'To-do' manuscript list.

I have to be honest, I felt like crying, seriously it hadn't seemed so bad listed in my head but seeing it written down, ouch! Surely that was more than a week's amount of work? But, I made a start - because as we know that's vital for anything and everything to occur.

Husband was literally saying goodbye to attend his work at 7am and retuning to find me eleven hours later in the same spot: my writing room. Only the dirty cups and plates in the dishwasher were indications that I had left the room, oh and the hound dog expression of the pooch, who is thoroughly fed up with me being such a bore!

Day 1 - I was surprised by how much I'd ticked off my list.

Days 2, 3, 4 and 5 - I repeated the routine from the first day and received a surprise each day.

Day 6 - I am as high as a kite, literally husband suspects I've been drinking all day.

Day 7 - The same as Day 6 - with the added bonus that I emailed my chosen proof-reader Julie Gibbs to check it's alright to send in a few days - as it looks like my 'To-do' list is ending.

Day 8 - The same as Day 7 (without the email).

Day 9 - Today, I have a few dates to recheck but that's all... the list is complete :-)

Today my manuscript will be delivered to the safe hands of the proof reader - wow, I did it!

Tomorrow I return to the day-job with the satisfaction of having completed my writing goal.

My lesson learnt from this week - regardless of  length of the 'To-do' list - simply make a start...

Sunday, 24 May 2015

RNA Summer party 2015

Last week I blogged regards how lucky I am to have such supportive writing lovelies from the RNA. Well, this week I was lucky enough to be granted time from the ‘day-job’ to attend the RNA Summer party. This was only my second attendance at the London events as they occur on school nights but I had a great time, it’s definitely worth the arduous next day on the Friday.

My first stop was attending 'Happy Hour' on the top floor of Waterstones Piccadilly accompanied by Bella Osborne and John Jackson where the classic mojitos flowed to a second round, forcing us to ‘totter’ to the RNA party a fraction later than usual. Good timing, I called it.
The summer party is the annual stage for announcing the lucky recipient of the Joan Hessayon award – an author chosen from those recently promoted from the New Writers’ Scheme to published author status. It was a delight to watch as Brigid Coady and 14 other authors, including my fellow Birmingham Chapter lovely Janice Preston, await the announcement. Brigid had been a member of the New Writers’ Scheme for ten years – so has waited long enough for the publication dream to arrive and to receive such an accolade.

As always, I was delighted to attend an RNA event as the chatter and warmth flows much like the wine - free and easy. You stand surrounded by such wonderful people who share your passion of books and writing – it really is an experience to attend.  Any RNA member who hasn’t hiked up to Euston on the train then dashed across to Green Park really needs too. And don’t worry if you’re travelling alone – you won’t be on the return journey! It’s guaranteed that as soon as you arrive through the great doors of the Royal Overseas League – you’ll need to catch your breath as a member drags you across to join a suitable group of excitable author lovelies. Seriously, prove me wrong by standing alone all night and I’ll buy you a bottle champagne!
Bella Osborne and I testing the mojitos - photo courtesy of John Jackson
For further details about the fabulous Romantic Novelists' Association please visit the link.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

RNA girlfriends - thank you x

Ever snorted aloud during the world’s dullest meeting because the character is your head said something funny? Or stared and was caught trying to describe the walk of the hip wiggling woman trotting in front of you? Just two of my many gaffs made in real life as my fictional world swirls about my brain. Seriously, they are all in the interest of writing. What I do mind or struggle with is their occurrence being witnessed by a Wruggle (similar to JKR’s Muggle but a none writing person – copyright applied for) who has no idea what I’m doing and why. An awkward silence usually occurs, before they begin joking about my antics, at which point I feel the need to explain… which usually falls flat because of their Wruggle status. In some cases my explanation makes the situation far worse in a ‘you freak, you write, you never said!’ kind of fashion. This is why I love, and I mean that in the deepest chickmance kind of way, my RNA girlfriends… I don’t need to explain my gaffs to them, they get it, they do it too… much worse in some cases!

Yesterday was one such RNA afternoon, where I got to spend a couple of hours with the ones that truly understand: RNA Birmingham Chapter. Thank God they get it, do it and willingly share their own gaffs which renew and boost my energy tanks on a Saturday afternoon at Birmingham Museum’s Edwardian tearoom.
In a space of two hours we laughed about living with a dashing young cavalier (imagery, of course), heard an abundance of good news from members and all swooned at The bath scene* in a member’s recent publication - which had its very own hashtag by the end of the day!

I came home, as always, bursting with writing energy and eager for Thursday’s RNA Summer party in London so I can fill my boots with even more of their hilarious tales and vibrant personalities.
And how did I come by such support and girlfriends? That’s simple, three years ago I vowed to take my writing seriously,  so I joined the association dedicated to my genre ‘The Romantic Novelists’ Association’. I’d advise any writer to seek out their genre association and join - the benefits are immediate and far exceed any membership fee, honestly.

If I hadn’t joined the RNA – I’d still be writing (I wouldn’t have given up) but I wouldn’t be at the stage I am now, that’s for sure. And the added bonus, I certainly wouldn’t have the writing girlfriends that I have and the countless writing friends gained through the association. In truth, excluding my family, my daily world wouldn’t be as lovely as it is.

*For a full description of The bathroom scene – you need to read Janice Preston's latest release 'From wallflower to countess' 

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Those two little words

Every wondered if you'd ever reach the summit of that personal mountain and be able to rejoice at the achievement? I have, on many occasions in life... and Thursday 7th May was my latest celebration. No, this has no connection to the recent General Election in the UK but to my own agenda: my writing.

On Thursday morning having struggled out of bed at 5am, which has become my regular writing routine in recent weeks, I was delighted to finish writing a specific chapter which I knew signalled the moment for those two little words every writing project dreams of containing: 'The End'. Not a moment I had planned or even realised would occur during that early morning session but the fingers had danced about the keyboard in such a productive manner that I reached the summit before my planned time. I was as surprised as anyone, though everyone else was still snoring at 6am. I had indeed finished, so took much delight in typing them. My delight was extended on sending a text to my sleeping husband containing a photo of the manuscripts final page and his unexpected cry of 'bloody hell, well done!' filtered from our bedroom where slumber was ruling until his wife's text arrived.

And so yes, I have finally after many months of ripping apart, rebuilding and hours of rewriting can announce I have finished this project. As we all know this isn't the ultimate finishing line but it is a momentous one.

The project was immediately printed and placed in hibernation before any further tinkering could occur. I know I won't be able to go much past seven days so plan to wake her up on Friday, 15th May. I'd love the luxury of a month of hibernation (like my tortoise has) but I can't do that!

So, there you have it, my latest celebration. In the meantime, my muse is being put to work plotting and planning a novella in preparation for the long seven week school holiday - which is fast approaching. 

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Ten out of ten - effort and progress

Following my delightful weekend at Live, Breathe, LOVE writing! with the talented trio Tamsyn Murray, Miranda Dickinson and Julie Cohen - I pledged I'd restart my early morning writing session. The 5am wake-up call that had been long forgotten in favour of the lunchtime slot at the day-job plus the evening session. Anyway, Sunday night I set the alarm before going to sleep and damn it, the device is accurate to the second: it rang at 5am!

Monday morning 5am isn't my most glamorous but I prised myself from beneath the duvet and walked to my writing room. I was greeted by a beautiful dawn chorus and a sultry sky. Within seconds the time of day was irrelevant and I was editing. I worked until six o'clock then readied for the day-job. I'd done it, it felt good and for the rest of the day, I metaphorically patted myself on the back. So I managed three writing* sessions per day, Monday to Friday - I say writing I'm actually not at the writing stage but you get my drift.

Each day was a delight, a real pleasure to do, accompanied by the dawn chorus and a sultry sky - the difficult part is that shrill alarm and rising to a vertical stance. So... my plan for this week is to repeat as last week: Monday to Friday 5am, lunchtime and evening sessions.

Friday afternoon I rewarded my efforts by visiting my favourite shop: the stationers, arriving home with a bounty of goodies for my writing room.

Saturday morning began with the instruction to self 'to tidy that room' and I did, armed with bin liners, Mr Pledge polish and my faithful Dyson. I was shocked by the amount of wasted paper I had lying about in piles around my writing room but I did manage to find two poems that I'd written but never typed. I also found two scribbled ideas for novels - double bonus!

With a little shufty about regards furniture and reading books, I have created more space and more places to balance the new pile of waste paper for the up-coming six months. All in all, one cracking day of organisation and later writing.

A tiny addition to my writing arsenal is the countdown date/clock that I've downloaded to my Ipad. Boy, oh boy, a visual shock seeing how many days I given myself to finish this project.

For this week, I've awarded myself 10/10 for effort and progress :-)

* writing - anything to do with my current project be it planning, editing or musing.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Live, Breathe and LOVE writing – confirmed!

Ever needed an extra boost of writing inspiration? As I near the end of my current project I felt I needed a little something to refill my ‘inspiration tank’ guaranteeing I reach the finishing line. I chose Tamsyn Murray’s fabulous ‘Live, Breathe and Love writing day’ held at the Theobald’s Park hotel, near Cheshunt, London. Her guest speakers for the day were Miranda Dickinson and Julie Cohen - what more could a girl want to boost her flagging creativity?
Eleven other writers, a mixture of experience and genres, arrived fresh faced and bushy tailed to participate in the day long course. Tamsyn began by expelling negative thoughts with a smashing talk filled with inspirational quotes and anecdotes of success.  I won’t go into detail as I wouldn’t wish to ruin the day for you, should you wish to book and attend, but one particular quote hit a chord with me.
Miranda Dickinson provided us with the all-important writers’ survival kit – piece by piece. Again this was a very thought provoking session which gave me a boot up the ass regards certain aspects of my routine that I have possibly neglected or abandoned in recent months. That will be rectified!

Julie Cohen’s session was a practical delight as she filled the room with post-it notes which immediate made my stationery loving heart sing. I know, sad isn’t it? Anyway, she showed me yet more ways that I can use the little blighters to help regards planning and even synopsis writing.

My immediate tasks following the course:

1. Delete my ‘epilogue’ and create chapter ninety

2. Purchase yet more coloured post-it notes

3. Revise my personal writer’s survival kit

4. Complete the final stretch of my project

5. Re-watch the film ‘The Jerk’ – such a funny movie.

I highly recommend booking yourself on any of these writers’ courses – not only do you receive much needed knowledge and a motivational boost but the trio revitalise your creative spirit with  humour, humility and their genuine friendship.
For further details please visit their websites - you won't be disappointed...

Miranda Dickinson

Julie Cohen

In addition to this fabulous course, I was given the very best start to my creative weekend by Late who arranged for a surprise envelope to arrive at the hotel prior to my arrival. Imagine my confusion whilst checking in when the reception lady said 'You've got mail' - I don't think so, sweetie. She was right. Marvellous Mary of  the 'make magic department' belonging to Late had sent me lovely new fountain pen... with a little note saying 'isn't this a novel way to start a great weekend' - Mary, you were so right! It just shows the simplest of gestures in our busy lives can truly delight.
It made my two night stay a delight enhancing the one day course into a mini writing retreat for myself - it would have been rude not too.

Monday, 30 March 2015

Holidays and birthday challenges

Finally my holiday has arrived, two weeks of bliss started last Friday. So far, I have indulged myself with my writing work managing to correct the entire manuscript and even reworking a few chapters. My aim is to have a finished manuscript by the time I return to work, fingers crossed, so the plan is mapped out with military precision including a mini break in Wales, thrown in for good measure.

Our mini break revolves about my birthday celebrations on 1st April where I have opted to experience the thrilling zip wire, weather permitting. As the gales are howling here in the Midlands I'm expecting my zip wire to be cancelled and rescheduled for another time. But, if my prayers are answered and I do get to complete I'll let you know.

In the meantime, whilst we wait to hear the weather forecast for Wednesday at 11am - I'd best return to slicing adjectives from my manuscript.

Enjoy x

Update: I did it! On my 44th birthday I went head first down a mile long zip wire in Snowdonia from 152 meters up a mountain. It took less than a minute for me to slide from top to bottom. I really is the nearest thing to flying and I would love to do it again. Was I scared? No actually, I was as excited as a child.

Afterwards we took the mountain train up Snowdon, where I was thrilled to play in the snow. All in all, I had a fabulous birthday x

Monday, 16 February 2015

The desire to write - where does it come from?

Ever wondered where the desire to write started? I do, all the time. What makes my brain germinate ideas, characters and events which take over my mind and force me to write for hours? How come my friend can't conjure a single imaginative comment or phrase for a leaving card? Yet, I have too many for the tiny space allocated to me.

If you've followed this blog for a while you'll know that my love of books grew from circumstance - where I chose to escape within the pages of fiction. The phase prior to that escapism was Lego. 
Seriously, as a young child I was a Lego kid - I could (and still can) make anything out of  a big tub of Lego: houses, cars, even a stand-up Santa Claus! The true beauty of Lego is the appliance of imagination, without it you just have a coloured brick of various size - with a thriving imagination those bricks can be anything. I believe my initial phase of creativity nurtured by tiny bricks was my starting block to writing.

Knowing how the brain works in creating dendrites, I believe the network of my brain was formed and forged with that early imaginative play. The problem with the brain is the old 'use it or lose it' regime - it has been pure chance that since childhood I have always nurtured the creative juices - whether it be painting, crafting or music. All of which have kept those dendrite beauties alive and strong... ever eager to do more. My love of books kicked in at the age of eight which bolstered the budding imagination and eventually I out grew the books I was reading to fire the need to produce my own stories.

In hindsight it appears such a simple realisation, but I wonder if my parents understood the true potential of their gift when purchasing my first box of Lego? I doubt it.  

Sunday, 8 February 2015

I'm back!

Hello. Remember me?  I wouldn't be surprised if you'd forgotten! Given the month that I've just survived, I can assure you I am so glad to be back. January 2015 is going into my memory as the strangest, most stressful, time zapping month of my life, so far. It was a horrible month and now that I'm sitting safely in February, I can call it every name under the sun. But it taught me one thing - I have to write.

Without my normal writing pattern I feel ill. I feel mentally and physically unbalanced, I feel stressed, I have migraines, I don't sleep, I don't feel grounded - in short, I am not me! For so long I have had this amazing creative outlet which I take for granted and yet when it is decreased or diminished to the bare minimum I literally feel like another person. A stranger. Gone is the song in the morning, gone is the smile, even my laughter sounded different. A non-creative impostor has walked in my shoes.

January happened for a hundred and one different reasons; one or two were my fault, the thousand other faults belonged to other people - but having had a weekend of creative tasks and writing I can honestly say I've returned to me. My fingers simply wish to dance upon the keyboards and spy the line of characters spreading across the white page. I'm back, and if feels great.

So, my plans for this week - to polish a short story competition piece, to catch up on social media and to prepare my W.I.P for my full attention come Friday night onwards when I start my holiday. Boy, am I going to spend some serious time in my writing room.

In the interim, I am eagerly awaiting the arrival of Bella Osborne's debut novel It started at sunset cottage which is published on Thursday, as well as Jo Thomas' The Olive Branch.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

'Rhinestone Cowboy'

Have you ever been transported back in time by a song? I'm sure we all have at some point in our lives... I'd feel a little sorry for you if you hadn't. Well, it happened to me this week having taken a phone call to inform me that my grandmother had died. I was seated in the Library of Birmingham, currently my favourite building, waiting to attend my writers' group when the sad news came through. I was expecting the news so it wasn't such a shock but I wasn't where I'd imagined I might be taking such a phone call but given the nature and circumstance of her death - it was a pretty good place to be.

Afterwards as I quietly sat watching the world go by and absorbing the news a song burst into head - without warning, manners and no apparent thought. It simply appeared. Not a song my grandmother would sing or have chosen as it doesn't represents her personality in anyway, but it did signify a specific moment in time for me: Glen Campbell's 'Rhinestone Cowboy'. Any relative reading this has just grimaced and is still staring in horror at the screen at such an unlikely association. Hey, I'm just being honest, I can't help how my creative brain stores memories and images!  Anyhow the track burst onto my head transporting me back to being 6 years old, seated in Nan's 1970s lounge, where I'd sat mesmerised by the words/images on hearing this track for the first time in my life - on vinyl, I may add. The images and sensations were so, so vivid - as if I were actually back there. Anyway, for the rest of Wednesday evening the song was like a backing track swirling about my mind until sleep arrived.

Thursday morning after that initial 'eyes open and brain remembers the event of yesterday' shock - it started up again. I taught five lessons, conducted detentions and attended another writers' meeting with 'Rhinestone cowboy' blaring in my head.

Friday wasn't as bad, but still I simply had to silence Glen Campbell crooning in my head.

Music has always been a powerful stimulus in my life that I consciously use to my advantage while writing to create moods, situations and visual reminders... and sometimes it takes over of its own accord.

So, having no choice but to submit and welcome Glen Campbell as the new addition to my song box of memories I thought it best to reorganise my list of 'Desert Island discs'.

1. 'We love to boogie' - T Rex
2. 'Town Called malice' - The Jam
3. 'Dancing Queen' - Abba
4. 'Bring me sunshine' - Morcombe and Wise
5. 'I vow to be thy country' - a traditional hymn
6. 'Let it be me' - Everly Brothers
7. 'I want to hold your hand' - Beatles
8. Rhinestone Cowboy  - Glen Campbell (should you wish to hear the inside of my head for the last four days!)

Having regained silence, I'll return to my desk and begin my writing - chuckling every now and then because this surprise musical experience really hasn't been the memories of my nan that I'd have banked on!

Apologies to anyone that has spoken to me since Wednesday but now you know what was occurring in my head!

Saturday, 3 January 2015

My writing room - one year anniversary

Ever wondered how productive having you own writing space would be? For numerous years whilst pitched in the corner of the dining room, with more traffic than Piccadilly Circus, it was a question I regularly pondered. I spent hours longing for my own space. Frequently, I'd moan about household distractions, constant interruptions or even the lack of respect that my creative corner received from others. Was it an excuse to avoid knuckling down to write? An excuse for my lack of focus? Or simply the truth expressed by Ms Woolfe - I needed my own room.

Today 3rd January 2015, I can answer those question honestly, with evidence to support*. Ms Woolfe was correct, I simply needed my own room. It wasn't plain moaning and griping but an honest desire that I knew would enhance my productivity.

Today is the anniversary of my writing room, the single spare bedroom that I emptied then quickly refilled with writing paraphernalia. A room that I have visited each day since taking ownership, a room that has become my creative space where I've managed to produce 213,704 words. I'll type that again, if felt good - 213,704 words. OMG! Who would have thought it? Those 213,704 words have been shared between novels, short stories, poems and blog updates but each and every one has sprung from my muse and my fingertips.

I always knew a writing room was going to be a significant advantage to me but having experienced the last year... I would suggest all would-be-writers start fighting for 'your space'.

I feel there is a psychology regards the writing room:
  • I flip straight into writing mode on every visit.
  • My work notes scatter the floor - on returning I pick up the idea thread as if I'd never left.
  • A validation has emerged regards my work and efforts.
  • Others have developed a recognition regards my efforts.
  • Everything I need to write is in one space making the task feel easier.
  • A level of professionalism has developed  - no longer my hobby.
Subconsciously I knew what I was missing, I needed a 'Narnia' - that special place where the magic could happen. In short, taking ownership of my writing room has possibly been the most significant step I've taken towards my writing goals.

Here's to a fresh writing year - fingers crossed that by 3rd January 2016 I'll have a lot more to celebrate!

* Yes, I'm a spreadsheet freak who writes down her daily output... but hey, it comes in handy for knowing your productivity x

My writing room...