Thursday, 31 December 2015

Happy New Year To All...

I hope your Christmas went well, and if you were in countries where severe damage was done by flooding or tornado's I wish you a better 2016.
Happy New Year

The town where my mum-in-law lives was flooded too, but fortunately she was further away so stayed dry. The hotel we sometimes stay at was flooded and will be closed for a few months...

With the fast approaching new year I'm eager to get back to writing, but it won't be until next week when family members are back at work, or college, before I'll have enough quiet.

Besides working on my 2nd draft, I've also promised Patsy Collins that I will submit a short story to a woman's magazine.

I did write a story for a competition at the writers' club a few years ago, and intended to revise it to send off to Woman's Weekly- as it would fit their style, but as I've been concentrating on my longer works it never got done. So that will be on my agenda this year.

So to my 2015 word count total: 28,795. There's probably another 2,000 words from various pieces that I've written for the writers' club quarterly magazine, which I didn't include in my total, and must do in 2016.

(In 2014 I managed 26,043 words, excluding my blog posts.)

I need to improve on that total in 2016, and get more work sent out.

At least the word count continues to be going in the right direction-up. I need to get more organised and prioritise more.

Well that's it, my last blog post for 2015. I'll be back to normal routine next week.

Happy New Year.





Image courtesy of franky242 & www.freedigitalphotos.net


Monday, 21 December 2015

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year...

I've finally grabbed a few minutes to write this post before Christmas arrives.

Every year I tell myself I'll get my Christmas cards written and posted early, and of course it never happens. :(

Actually it's been a month of things breaking and needing replacing- fortunately some were under guarantee, but it takes time getting everything sorted out. So I'm further behind than usual.

I hope 2015 has been good for you, but if it hasn't then I wish you a much better 2016.

Hopefully I'll post before the New Year, but if I don't then have a wonderful Christmas...


Have a wonderful time...











image courtesy of digitalart and www.freedigitalphotos.net



Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Fun and Traffic...

Well I've finally got my brain into gear to post.

Life has been a bit hectic since the NWC Awards night and Christmas party last Wednesday.

There was a major traffic snarl up that evening and despite setting off earlier than usual, it took me an hour to get under three miles! As a result of everyone being late we couldn't start on time, so had to cut out the party games that usually happen post awards and food- writers are so competitive.

Despite that, the table quiz was fiendish- I think Pat (who writes them) knew we'd have studied the major events of the year in preparation so changed tack. :D
At NWC...

The questions were designed to have corny answers, and points were given for originality, but I only started to see the obvious by the time we were going through the 'real' answers.

For example:

How does Good King Wenceslas like his pizza?

My answer: deep and crisp and even- though I missed out the crust bit, as in deep crust... (groan).

And this one is obvious once you're told the answer: Why did no one bid for Rudolph and Blitzen on eBay?

Answer: they were two deer (too dear - groan groan).

I suspect they came from Christmas Cracker Jokes.

Thank goodness I don't try to tell jokes- at least not intentionally...

A few of the NWC trophies...







Monday, 30 November 2015

Full Speed to Christmas...

Only 25 days to go...

Despite saying last year I'd start my Christmas shopping and card writing early, I haven't.

Honestly, the last months creeps up on you, and you wake up one Monday morning (today) and realise the countdown to Christmas has begun!!!

Though every time I cross something off my to do list, another task gets added.

My shredder has stopped working- so I've got to chase up the manufacturer- as it's not a year old yet. But of course, it happens when there's old, old paperwork to be cleared out.

I have a final few things to do for Awards Night on Wednesday. There's competition entries to be returned to members, along with the comments from the judges. So I have to sort them out.

It's always pleasing to look around the meeting room and notice a writer motionless, their head bent over their manuscript reading the comments, while around them there's noise and movement that they're oblivious to. Then when they look up there's a smile of pleasant surprise, that even though they didn't win they can work on improving the piece.

Until the New Year I'll be posting weekly- as I need to fit in all those regular Christmas tasks over the next 3 weeks.

If you've been doing NaNoWriMo, congratulations. Even if you didn't reach the target amount by today, 30th November, you'll still have learnt a lot from it, and have a story with potential waiting to be discovered.

Right, I'm off to get on with that list... :D




Monday, 23 November 2015

My Review of 2015...

Where has this year gone?

In just over a month it will be Christmas again. I'm now a year older, but let's forget about that...:D

Looking back at my 2014 review, I've checked what I intended for 2015.

I did complete the first draft of my contemporary romance, but it hasn't yet been revised and submitted.

I have now got back to my 'historical' first draft so I've started the second draft a month ahead of last year's plan.

So what have I done in 2015?

January: The presentation of the NWC, Mary Street Romance Shield- from my win that was announced at the 2014 Awards Night (December 2014). Plus booking a few future events.

February: Attended the online virtual romance festival #Romance2015- in early February across Facebook, and Twitter, though I didn't get to the Google Hangouts option.

March: I finally got busy, getting Pinterest organised. I bought my domain name and applied it to the blog, and also bought the domain name for Serena (though I wasn't using it straight away). Then the last weekend was the Writing East Midlands Conference; that was a busy and very interesting Saturday.

April: After a temporary health setback I made progress with my contemporary story (the one I'd won with in December 2014).

May: Mid-May I guest posted on the Womag writers blog discussing joining the ALCS. The payment is a great boost to writers even if they only have a few qualifying items. I also became one of the co-hosts for #writingchat on a Wednesday evening on Twitter (8-9 pm each week).

June: That means The Lowdham Book Festival, and fortunately I had volunteers to help me with the writers' club stall. I was also able to meet writer friend Ana Salote in person too.

July: This was Serena month. I took the big step of setting up a website/blog for my pseudonym, and as I already had a domain name waiting for me- bought back in March- it didn't take too long to get up and running. (It's still an ongoing project.)

August: This was my wonderful trip over to visit the Pickford's House Museum of Georgian Life and Historic Costume, in Derby. I had a few moments where I saw-in reality- images that my mind had conjured up some months before for my Nottinghamshire story.

September: I finally got to visit The Bromley House Subscription Library, during the annual Heritage Open Day weekend. Like my August visit, it provided useful answers to my research questions.

October: Submitted my entry into the Love Stories New Talent competition. I didn't give myself enough time for this, as I was working on getting my contemporary romance first draft finished, and as a consequence I didn't get anywhere with the New Talent competition. A lot of the remainder of the month was taken up by the Sci-fi night at the writers' club. But I did write 'the end' on my contemporary romance first draft on the 29th October. :-)

November: Birthdays- and yes I do mean plural. :D I've also been getting the final results in ready for this year's awards night at the writers' club; plus doing some of the organising for the Christmas party afterwards. Most importantly I've started the second draft of the Nottinghamshire story.

December: It will be busy and fun I'm sure.

There's quite a few other bits and pieces across the year, and I always learn from them.

As 2016 is the next Mary Street competition, my brain has an idea bubbling, but I'm not going to allow it to take over like the contemporary romance did.

I need to give some time to Serena's website and blog.

As in previous years, I'm going to be open to writing opportunities that may appear, and any research possibilities. I think my trip to Dorchester will be put off until 2017.


Meanwhile I'll keep writing and reading...







image courtesy of Ventrilock and www.freedigitalphotos.net




Thursday, 19 November 2015

This Year's Bad Sex in Fiction Shortlist- 2015...

Yes it's that time of year when the shortlist of the Literary Review's Bad Sex in Fiction shortlist is revealed.

Now I have to admit that I thought Morrissey's 'List of the Lost' was guaranteed to win, as it was so excruciating- and he did make the final cut, so he's in the running.

But now, having read the other shortlisted entries, I don't think he has much to be concerned about...

I do wonder (just for a few mad moments) if editors of literary fiction ever have a conversation with their writers about making a mediocre sex scene awful instead, just in the hope of getting a bad sex nomination.

Many will have heard the saying: There is no such thing as bad publicity.

We all know how difficult it can be to get a book noticed among the myriad of other books. So how better to boost sales than by getting onto this shortlist- and even winning.

(No, of course not,  I was just letting my imagination get the better of my common sense.) :D

So this year's contenders are:


  • Morrissey - List of the Lost

  • Aleksandar Hemon - The Making of Zombie Wars.

  • Richard Bausch - Before, During, After.

  • Joshua Cohen - Book of Numbers. 

  • Erica Jong - Fear of Dying. 

  • Lauren Groff - Fates and Furies.

  • George Pelecanos - The Martini Shot. 

  • Tomas Espedal - Against Nature.

If you have a strong enough constitution you can read the extracts in this Daily Telegraph (books section) article.

If I had to choose it would be either, Fates and Furies, or Book of Numbers.

The winner is announced early December.


















Monday, 16 November 2015

Making Progress...

Though it may not seem like it, I have been making progress on the writing front, amongst all the deadlines- not all of them writing related.

I have found that a few of the organisational changes that I've made over the summer and autumn have been helpful.

There's still a lot to do. I know there's one or two small boxes of writing related materials sitting waiting (in a currently inaccessible position) and in one of those boxes is likely to be the items I'm looking for- early research material for my Nottinghamshire story.

(Think there may be some heavy furniture lifting going on at my place over the Christmas holidays!)

Even without the missing items, I'm finding the second draft much harder than the first draft. There's detail to add, characters to add in or change, and new scenes to be written.

Story #4 in the queue decided to emerge from the mists as I sat waiting to collect a prescription at the pharmacy. I'm not certain what the time period will be. I thought it might be somewhere in the first half of the 20th century, but now I'm not sure...

Fortunately I had a spare lidded A4 box waiting. So I just need half hour to type out my notes from the quick scrawl in my notebook, and it can go to the bottom of the boxes pile.

As long as I can jot down notes on the new ideas I can keep them from interfering with my current work in progress. I'm just grateful the other ones are still dormant.

I have to concentrate on one at a time and not let the others distract me.

Actually I need 36 hours in a day... :(














Sunday, 8 November 2015

A Little Help from Your Friends...

The great thing about writers is that they are not only fun friends to have, but they are willing to share their knowledge to new and developing writers.

I know I wouldn't have improved without the generosity of experience of many current writers, and those who are no longer with us.

One of my roles at the writers' club is Prose Secretary; I find judges for our assorted competitions held throughout the year. The valuable comments each entry receives back helps the writers continue to develop their skills, and highlight where they may be going wrong- as well as what they are doing right.

So when I was tasked with finding a judge for the 2016 Nottingham Writers' Club, National Short Story Competition, I had a few potential people in mind.

I'm very glad to say that my first choice, a successful short story writer and novelist agreed to the job.

Admittedly, Patsy Collins sprung to mind due to her short story pedigree, plus the 2016 theme which is 'Fire'. Patsy just so happens to have released a new book- a few days ago- called 'Firestarter'. I have it ready to read on my Kindle.

I'm assured there's a hunky fireman involved... :D

You can find out more about Patsy's latest novel over on her blog Words about writing...

The club's national competition usually opens on the first day of the New Year, but for 2016 we're holding the submission period during February. And as next year is a leap year, there will be 29 days to submit entries, either online or by post.

PLEASE NOTE that only entries from writers residing in the UK can be accepted.

There are a few rules of course, so do read and follow them. Often newer and less experienced writers are put off entering competitions by the thought of competing against 'professionals'.

So the main criteria for anyone considering entry: if you've earned £300 or more from short story writing during 2015 please don't enter.

For more details about the 2016 competition, pop along to the page on the Nottingham Writers' Club website.

Firestarter- the new novel
from Patsy Collins







Thursday, 5 November 2015

Once you Start Writing...

writing can be like a
dripping tap...
Once you start writing it's like a dripping tap, it never stops...

I really shouldn't have said I'm going to do chapter two this week, as the inevitable other problems and demands disrupted my days- not helped by over-sleeping.

Plus I had to write a 250 word story for Wednesday night's annual Manuscript of the Year competition at the writers' club (yesterday, 4th). Plus I was one of the two readers for the event.

I've had months to write it, but nothing I considered developed. Then Tuesday night reading a post on Facebook, I had one of those lightning moments of inspiration for this year's theme, 'slippery when wet'.

So Wednesday lunchtime I settled down and began to write. The words just poured out without thinking about it. I stopped at 400 plus words.

Of course it was much too long, so I started editing. I reduced the start, cut the middle and still had 342 words.

More cutting and changing left me with 262, so a bit more jiggling and I finally lost those 12 extra words.

I knew I'd lost too much of the story, and it was only humorous at the end, but it was an entry, and every entry helps make the competition.

My character, Valerie, finally decides to leave her demanding but dense partner Derek (apologies to any Derek's out there). He really should have got that tree in the front garden sorted out when she originally asked earlier in the year- one of his many faults. But of course, he hadn't and along comes autumn, lots of fallen leaves and rain.

I think you can guess what happens...

The club chairman said she thought Valerie had been out with a broom earlier piling up the leaves. :D

I really must give Valerie a new future somewhere now I know her- she deserves it.

Ten years ago managing to write a 1,000 word story was tough; but over the years the length of my stories rose naturally: 1200, 1600, 2,000.

Now I'm writing longer stories it's harder to write short ones!





image courtesy of Mister GC.& www.freedigitalphotos.net






Thursday, 29 October 2015

'The End'...

Yes, that's it, today I was able to write THE END at the bottom of chapter eighteen. I know there's still a lot to do, but that's for the future now.

I've enjoyed the break writing a contemporary romance, but I've not been interrupted with ideas as I am when I'm working on a historical.

Yes, I'm looking forward to getting on with the Nottinghamshire story now; it's been calling to me, demanding attention. Entering the first chapter in the New Talent competition only confirmed the feeling I wanted to get back to it.

My aim is to work steadily through the second draft making changes, adding the missing characters, and scenes that I knew I needed -because my mind was blank about what I was aiming for at that point.

Over the weekend I'll be changing the images over on my big cork board.

The big board was really helpful with the contemporary story- so I hope it will work with my Nottinghamshire story too.

Even if I had a couple of days- or even a week- when I couldn't add to my word count, my characters and settings were by my desk, always at the corner of my vision, remaining in my thoughts. I never lost contact with them, so I was able to pick the story back up quicker from where I'd stopped at the end of the previous writing session.

Here are the lessons I've personally learnt from writing these two first drafts:


  • Even a couple of hundred words a time soon adds up to a chapter, and then another.
  • Just because a character says or does something unusual, there will be a reason later on.
  • If a scene isn't working, make a note what it should be about and move on to the next bit.
The End is just The Beginning...
  • Don't worry about chapter length; end it when it feels right.
  • Some scenes/chapters will be easier to write than others.
  • The middle will always feel like you're climbing a mountain.
  • When you see the end approaching, don't slacken the pace.


I'm going to catch up on reading a few new books on my Kindle too, while my mind is clear.







image courtesy of njaj and www.freedigitalphotos.net







Sunday, 25 October 2015

First Draft- Last Chapter...

I'm late posting today because I was grabbing some uninterrupted time to get on with finishing the last couple of chapters of my contemporary romance.

Pleased to report I'm now on the last chapter, so I'll hopefully finish it this week or next.

Still working...
It is only the skeleton of the story with a few muscles and veins added here and there, but it will give me plenty to work on. There's still a few research areas to follow up on too.

I'm already feeling the tug of disappointment that I'll be temporarily saying goodbye to my hero and heroine from this story.

But the good news is I'll be getting back to one of my Serena Lake historicals. Serena has been a little neglected while I've been so busy this past couple of months.

I'll be able to return to my Nottinghamshire based story with renewed enthusiasm, despite my first chapter not making the shortlist of the New Talent Award.

Yes, it's disappointing, but that chapter does need more work. Plus I won't have the constraints of a set word count to conform to.

I'll be leaving chapter one as it is, for the moment, while I start with chapter two for the second draft.

Draft two is going to be a lot of work as I'll be making changes, adding and removing scenes, and developing a few of the minor characters- now I know what they're doing.

The last two years have been a big learning process, but I now know what works for me. I'm no longer allowing myself to get held up because something isn't working. I make a note about it and carry on with the scene beyond it.

I've learnt to listen to my characters, but interfere when they're getting out of hand.

Now I just need to keep putting in as much time as I can on the rewrite.






Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Sci-fi Night Review...

If you saw my recent post about the Sci-fi night that was taking place at the writers club I attend, last night (21st), then you might be interested in a few things I learnt.

I haven't yet downloaded the photos I took- that's a job for the weekend when I have the time to go through and check each one- usually it's just a case of cropping parts of people or objects caught on the edges of the picture. And I promised a couple of the authors I'd send them a copy of those they appear in.

I found out:

That there is hard sci-fi and soft sci-fi; the former is the really technical stuff that requires a lot of research (and probably a lot of technical understanding). While the latter, soft version, is more about the story/characters, often using the issues of the current time on a futuristic scenario, but usually not needing research. 

(I'm working from memory here...)

World building; be consistent, even if you bend the laws of actual science. You can make your world do whatever you want, but you must be consistent.

Stephen Palmer (one of the guest authors) emphasised that for the mid-teen reader, plot and character were the things that mattered.

The good news is that sci-fi is no longer just male authors- as it was in the last century, and there are a few popular female authors in the genre.

Coincidentally 21st October 2015 was Back to the Future Day- the first film of the 'Back to the Future' trio.

There were lots of books for sale, and attendees had time to talk to the many authors who set up their table with their books. And every ticket holder got a goodie bag which included a couple of books.

Even though sci-fi isn't my thing, it was a good evening and I enjoyed it...


Sunday, 18 October 2015

Reading to an Audience - Start with the Basics...

Recently I shared an article from Stylist magazine on my Facebook account, and it had quite a number of views. It was a top ten tips for speaking in public.

It's not surprising that the subject is popular, as writers need to do a lot more promotion now than they needed to ten years ago.

Though some writers may be more confident from past experience, or they have a daytime job that requires them to stand up in front of an audience- whatever their ages may be...

I have to admit that I had a head start, so it wasn't such a shock.

When I was in secondary school x number of years ago, I was part of the drama group, and it was a great way to learn basic skills, breathing correctly, standing up straight and projecting your voice, and taking on the voice of characters- but in my case the biggest problem I had to overcome was talking too fast.

All those are the same skills writers need to learn, or develop. But you don't need to practise in front of an audience, you can do it by yourself at home.

I'm a firm believer in reading my work aloud during the editing phase, as you can hear when text doesn't flow, phrasing is awkward, or you've changed tense/viewpoint, but you need to read slower to pick out the issues, so try recording yourself reading out a passage, then play it back, or ask a trusted friend to listen to you.

Is every word distinct, or are you chopping off the ends of words, and rolling them together? When you're conscious of what you are doing, you can pick it up, slow down and try again until you get the right pace for you.

Practise and eventually it will become automatic.

Breathing: stand up straight and breathe in slowly until your lungs are filled- if you put your hand flat just below your rib cage you can feel the rise as you breathe in. Then let your breath out slowly- you do need to concentrate.

When you have that under control then the next time you breathe out use that to propel your voice- choose a simple short word, 'pop' for example. So often, it seems, we're not aware of how much our voices are capable of until we try- this will.

If you are reading your own work out you can of course add reminders to your manuscript. Apart from printing in a larger font, you can add spaces between paragraphs, insert (PAUSE) at appropriate points, and underline anything you need to put emphasis on. Practise your pace.

Microphones seem scary, but you just need a quick test to find the right distance between you and it using your regular reading voice. If the microphone is not on a stand then get someone to hold it, as juggling a microphone and turning pages it not a good image and will get you flustered- not what you want or need.

Do you see the common word now? Yes, it's practise.

I've been fortunate to have generous writer friends who have shared their advice over the years, and I've put it into practise when I've been on the local BBC radio station (promoting a book I was in with another local writer), as well as other literature events like the Lowdham Fringe.

There's a lot more you can do, wear bright colours so you aren't lost against pale walls or furnishings for example.

 You may be an introvert, but you can pretend you aren't. Master the basics and build upon them...

My first public reading as a writer
in 2012 at the Lowdham Fringe











Sunday, 11 October 2015

Discovering Sci-fi in Nottingham this October...

Now I have to admit that the nearest I've ever gotten to sci-fi is watching Star Trek and it's many incarnations, Stargate - and versions of, plus Farscape and the occasional film.

Well I'm fairly sure I'm going to be learning a lot, later this month, as the writers club I attend (Nottingham Writers' Club) are holding a Sci-fi Night on the 21st October, 6-9.30 pm.

If you're in the UK you might be familiar with the annual Edge-Lit event held in Derby each year, and Alex Davis who is the mastermind behind it.

Alex is involved in the sci-fi night in Nottingham too, as both publisher- of Boo Books- and a master of ceremonies during the evening.

There will be discussions with authors, a Q&A, readings, time to meet the authors, buy books- and get them signed. There's a bar at the venue, so even if alcohol isn't your tipple, you can get tea or coffee, as well as soft drinks.

So far the authors appearing and taking part are:

Ian Douglas - website.

Sophie Sparham - website.

Gav Thorpe - website.

Roy Bainton - Amazon.

Stephen Palmer - website.

Alex Davis - blog.


If you know anyone who is into sci-fi, do mention this event to them.

The venue (The Nottingham Mechanics) is close to public transport links, and the nearest tram stop is a few minutes walk away, so there's quick and easy access straight to Nottingham Railway Station.

Tickets are available in advance via Eventbrite: here. £5 in advance, or £7 on the night. But whichever option is chosen, all ticket holders will be receiving a goodie bag at the event...

This is a one-off event, so don't miss it...














Sunday, 4 October 2015

Setting New Targets...

After a couple of days relaxing- well sort of- I'm planning the week ahead so that I can get back to writing those last couple of chapters.

As much as I've enjoyed writing the contemporary romance, it will never be my first preference- unless an idea could only work in the present.

I'm really looking forward to getting back to my Nottinghamshire story before the end of the year; the competition entry reminded me why I enjoy it so much.

October is usually when I start considering my goals for next year.

Having put in the intensive work revising and editing the first chapter I learnt a few things about myself.


  • I can too easily procrastinate and end up wasting the day. So I'm going to set myself mini-targets for each day. No dawdling...


Of course there will be days when less will get done than others, as real life does still have to be taken into account: appointments, shopping for food, collecting medicines, get-together's with writer friends and those unexpected crisis etc.


  • Do those elements that can be classed under 'professional development'.


In some ways I've been doing this a while. Attending writers' conferences, online events, workshops, talks, and other opportunities.

I'm part of the Wednesday evening #writingchat sessions on Twitter for one hour- it's fun, but I've also picked up helpful information from the other writers taking part.

Recently I've joined Anne Rainbow's RedPen (thanks to a link provided by Patsy Collins).


  • Be more open to opportunities that occur and not be scared to take them on. 



  • Most of all I'm going to believe in myself. Entering the recent new talent competition has definitely contributed toward that.


I think that's enough to keep me going for the next twelve months... :-)



My Targets...




















Image courtesy of Vaximilian and www.freedigitalphotos.net

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Hitting the Deadline...

I did it!

My entry into the New Talent Award was emailed to the competition address this afternoon, and the small entry fee paid.

The competition is part of the Love Stories Awards, and administered by the Kate Nash Literary Agency.

For anyone who may have missed the details, the competition was part of this year's Festival of Romance, but when the festival weekend was cancelled, the new talent competition carried on under the Love Stories banner.

This year's competition is looking for writers of the future, so I really couldn't ignore it...

I've learnt a lot from the experience of editing the first chapter for my entry, which will help me in the future when I'm editing my other stories.

A couple of weeks ago when I gave up on my first choice and opted for my Nottinghamshire story, I didn't think there was too much to do. But I was so wrong.

I hadn't realised how much I've learnt since I finished that first draft, nor how the characters had continued to develop while I was away from them.

All that was needed was an opening chapter, nothing else, and as I was almost ready to start the revisions on the Nottinghamshire story anyway, I had nothing to lose by trying.

Well four versions later I was ready to do the final checks this morning (Thursday). The maximum word count was 2,500 words, though I was a couple of hundred under that by the time I finished.

After every set of changes I made, I read the chapter aloud, so five hours later, when it was ready to send, I think I'd gone through it vocally ten times...

It won't be perfect, but it was as good as I could get it for now.

Of course I'd like to make the shortlist, but if I don't, it won't be the end of the world. I still have the rest of the story to revise and edit, and as I've learnt over the past fortnight, change can be good.

I'm looking forward to a restful weekend, then I can get back to creating the happy ending for the couple in my contemporary romance. Once that first draft is complete and put aside, I'll be back to the historical and chapter 2... :-)


Sunday, 27 September 2015

Getting On With It - Editing...

After my down spell last week I'm pleased to say equilibrium has been restored and I'm getting on with the first chapter rewrite.

Keeping Balanced...
The deadline for the competition is Thursday night, and I honestly don't know if I will have it ready in time. It's fortunate entry is by email so I don't have to take the post into the equation.

I experienced one of those editing moments where I cut a phrase-well actually a couple of lines that I thought were good. But looking at them closer, they just didn't work.

When I stop worrying about the editing and just go with it, I find the analytical editing side of my brain switches in, but not to the exclusion of the creative part.

The longer you are away from a writing project, the clearer you can see it when you come back to it.

As the weekend rarely gives me quiet time to write I've started to use that noisy time to do all the other things that lurk around the edges of my conscious, as it helps clear my mind for the editing.

I've created a 20th century Fashion and Beauty board on Pinterest. One of the ideas that has been lurking in my head for years but wasn't fitting into my usual time periods, finally started to make connections once I moved it into the 1920's.

While the majority of pins on the board are 1920's, it also covers 1900 to the late 1950's.

It will be some time before I can give the idea proper attention, but I think it may turn out to be a longer short story...

I've also discovered some of the new changes in Blogger which have made a few things easier.

I now have all my Social Media links showing under a tab- much tidier than being in the side bar.

There's now a tab for My Writing. I still have one thing to add yet, so it's half done.

So, now that's all done it will be back to the chapter one rewrite Monday morning...




Image courtesy of Vlado & www.freedigitalphotos.net

Monday, 21 September 2015

One of Those Down Spells...

I've been having a down day on my writing.

You know those times when you think your writing is awful and you can never improve it? Well that was me today.

Having had some time away from my Nottinghamshire story I can see so many possibilities just in the first chapter.

Should I start with dialogue or leave it with the current opening description and narrative? I've started to wonder if actually shifting the position of some elements would work better...

With other stories I've written it's been a 50/50 split, though I know that on one project I'll be changing the start.

Once I get into rewriting the chapter I don't feel as bad, but now that nagging feeling that the start is wrong won't go. I have to seriously consider that may be right...

It's been some time since I've had one of these down spells, and I know it will pass, but I think having a deadline is making it worse.

Such are the trials and tribulations of the writer...






Thursday, 17 September 2015

The Snakes & Ladders of Writing...

I realised today that writing can be a bit like snakes and ladders. You work your way along the board and sometimes everything goes well, or you get a good moment so up the ladder you go.

Then the bad spells are the snakes. You hit them and end up at the bottom of the snake; sometimes the slide back is short, other times it can be a long way down.

When you finally get to the end- whether you win or not- you can walk away, but the next time you want to play, you have to start all again.

That's what writing a novel of any length feels like to me, snakes and ladders.

I'd decided earlier in the year that if the opportunity came along to enter a romance new talent competition, I should go for it. I've learnt so much the past two years, and finally felt I was ready to try.

Although the Harlequin competition So You Think You Can Write was interesting, I didn't have anything fully complete, and I'm a slow typer...

The next opportunity was The Festival of Romance, New Talent Award. This required a first chapter, maximum 2,500 words. Then when the festival weekend was cancelled I did wonder whether the competition would run. Well it is, but as part of the Love Stories Awards instead,

The New Talent Award "is intended to shine a spotlight on the authors of tomorrow."

Now I have had a week of snakes and ladders as a result...

I have three different projects, so three first chapters all in different stages. The Dorset one needs too much work, as much as I love my current work in progress, it isn't what I want to concentrate on- though I have the last two chapters of draft one still to finish, rumbling around in my mind.

So the 1802 based story it is. I already had some revision notes made, but where to start?

After a number of snake moments from which I picked myself up, I got into a method that seemed to work for me.

The deadline for submitting by email is midnight BST 1st October. There's a £3.50 entry fee (to fund a trophy and presentation to the winner and shortlisted writers).

If I don't feel the chapter is good enough, then I won't enter it- and my contemporary romance first chapter may get an unexpected outing (the first three chapters had a lot of work done to get them ready for last year's romance trophy competition at the writers' club).

The aspect that hit me hard today was starting again.

I'd completed the historical first draft a year ago. I'd taken my characters through meeting again, the difficulties, falling in love and eventually gaining their happy ever after (HEA). Now I had to go back to the start of the relationship and put aside all those moments and revelations I'd written about, and get my mindset back to that initial meeting.

It was slow progress, but then everything clicked into place. I've climbed a short ladder today. I just need to keep climbing...

Making progress...








Image courtesy of ddpavumba &www.freedigitalphotos.net









Sunday, 13 September 2015

History, Books, Cotton Wool and Tights...

If you wonder what cotton wool and tights have to do with books and history then you may be surprised.

But first...

Saturday 12th September was the Heritage open day for Bromley House Library- originally called Nottingham Subscription Library. They take part in the events every year, but previously it's been necessary to book, and I've always missed out; so I was determined to go this year, and was pleased to see that there was no booking this time. The queues to enter started after I arrived...

The house is a Grade II* listed Georgian townhouse, that was built in 1752, and the entrance door is easy to miss bordered by shops on both sides- where originally there would have been rooms. But once inside, and looking at the back of the building from the garden, you can see how large Bromley House once was...

In the garden...
This is one of two Georgian gardens in the city centre- though the other one is not open to the public. There are three huge Plane trees- of six that were originally planted in the late 19th century. As now, they were planted to absorb the pollution in the air- the bark absorbs the toxins and peels off, though these trees were extremely knobbly.

A very old Plane tree...




Considering the amount of traffic that passes in front of the house (all buses going south and west) and a little beyond the back of the garden, one of the main roads, the noise was very muted, protected by the high walls of the buildings alongside.

There were lots of volunteers guiding people and providing information, and who wouldn't enjoy visiting a library that retains the wood and architectural features of the past.

I forget to mention the 40,000+ books... Every available space has bookshelves and lots of book collections- it reassures me that my eight Billy bookcases full, at home, is quite restrained. :D

There's local history, numerous biographies, and they have the library of the British Sundial Society. The sundial that used to be in the garden was stolen many years ago, and all that was left behind was the metal style (the sticking up pointy bit) which was on display in the Neville Hoskins Reading Room - it has a plaster Rococo style ceiling.

Every room I went into- and there were lots of them- I noticed books I'd want to read, and you could see other books awaiting repair and cleaning - they were bound up.

Books in need of repair
So now I'll tell you what cotton wool and tights have to do with old books...

Cleaning cloth-bound book covers.

If you've ever bought old books from the early part of the 20th century then you'll know how dull they have got over time.

Obviously you wouldn't do this to extremely valuable books, but dusting and careful gentle cleaning shouldn't be a problem for standard works.

The tools for cleaning...
A piece of cotton wool placed in a cut up piece of tights or a stocking- gives a slight abrasive effect- dipped into Vaseline, and then dabbed off onto the lid, so there's hardly any left on the pad, and then the cover is gently cleaned, and finally gone over with a cloth- the sort that doesn't shed fibres.

The ladies were all volunteers, and kindly answered my questions about repairing and cleaning the books (writing research, and advice for my own cloth-bound books that need a bit of help).

Saturday's volunteers were one of four sets, so one week a month there will be one day when they are in conserving...

I did make the spiral staircase wobble for a moment when I went down the first turn, which is why people are only allowed to go up or down one person at a time (on Saturday it was the down route from the gallery).

You can see the staircase in one of the rolling home page pictures on their website (link at the top of the post). It was added in 1857, and does not have a supporting column like most spiral staircases,

The library is certainly a delight for any writer and/or reader, and I'm sure that on a warm sunny day the garden is a haven.

I'm seriously considering applying for membership in the future...

(You can now see a couple more images from the day, along with a little more history over on my website at Serena's blog.)









Friday, 11 September 2015

Heritage Open Days- This Weekend...

A quick post about a nationwide visiting opportunity this weekend, Heritage Open Days- UK.

I mentioned this to a few writer friends and it was a 50/50 split between those who knew about it and visited place, and those who had not heard about it, so I thought I'd mention it.

In September each year, various museums, private homes and other buildings open their doors to allow the public to visit heritage gems that are not always available to be accessed and seen. Find out how it's brought about.

If you pop along to the website you can search for all the FREE events either by region, county, town or local council, and then print out the details.

Personally I'm hoping to get to see Bromley House Library in Nottingham. It's actually a few doors away from the modern Central Library in the city.

Hopefully I can then get to the places I'd intended to go to last weekend before my plans changed...

I hope to be able to take a few photos for mine and Serena's blog, though they will be different places of course.

So if you get to events near you, have fun...




Monday, 7 September 2015

Changes to Plans...

Lots of berries on the Hawthorn...
The past week has seen a lot of plans for the last quarter of the year change - but as the saying goes, when one door closes, another opens.

I'd planned to go and take some photos in Nottingham to go with a blog post on my website on Saturday.

Just as I was getting ready to go out the door, the Saturday post arrived with an important letter I'd been waiting for, and I needed to get it sent on asap.

So by the time I'd got all that sorted and ready for the post office- then to get it recorded delivery, I didn't have time for taking the pictures I needed :( so that's on my list of things to do soon.

Sadly, the Festival of Romance weekend in November, over at Stratford-Upon-Avon, has been cancelled. Though the New Talent Competition is apparently going ahead, and the book Awards section that would have taken place at the Saturday night dinner event will be held later in November- as far as the most recent message explained.

Hopefully 2016 will be another opportunity.

There's lots of preparations going on at the writers' club for October- we have a Sci-fi night with Alex Davis and a few authors who will be there to talk books and sign copies, among other things.

And I'm determined to put in as much time as I can to finish the last couple of chapters of the first draft of the contemporary romance. It's all sat in my head, waiting.

If the berries on the hawthorn are indicative of a bad winter as folklore suggests (my OH claims the bad winter is a result of the ideal weather earlier in the year, that gave fruit everything is needed to prosper) I'll be spending a lot of time indoors tapping away at the keyboard.

I bought a delightful A4 lidded box in Paperchase, so everything I need for my Nottinghamshire historical romance can be kept together, ready for the first revision. I'm eager to get on with it...

Next weekend my son returns to University, so we'll be getting everything packed up this week. This time last year we were getting organised for his first move away from home, and now he's going back for year 2.

A new routine is about to be set-up too so I don't procrastinate, and endeavour to make the most of my free time, though some weeks will be better than others I'm sure...




















Saturday, 29 August 2015

Fun and Learning at the Museum...

This past week I finally got over to Derby and visited not only Pickford's House Museum of Georgian Life and Historic Costume, but also the Derby Museum and Art Gallery.

I was surprised how much there was to see at Pickford's House, and even more amazing were the unexpected answers to a few research queries,. like sort of objects that might be found in the rectory kitchen in my Nottinghamshire story.

But the biggest surprise was walking into the display bedroom and seeing the four poster with curtaining.

Apart from the colour of the drapes, this was how I imagined my hero Hugh's bed. The bed in the museum is a reproduction but was made to the original 1797 design, so it would fit time-wise.
The four-poster... 

There was a lovely and restful Georgian Garden.

Though this garden was from a design plan for a formal Georgian garden in Lincolnshire. It was in the style of the 1830's, with species planted that would have been available at the time.

Sadly some plants died, and others were planted in their place, but not quite right to the time, so when the garden was refurbished in 2005-2006, they used plants around and up to 1800- as the house was built in 1769-70.

Though there were a few plants of later dates that had happily established themselves since they were originally planted, so they stayed in place.
Part of the Georgian Garden...
For fun I did the 'put your head in the cut out stand-up scene' and have your photo taken. I did take my glasses off to fit the time-period.
Fun time...

The painting that was used as the basis for the cut out scene is actually on display in the museum for a while as part of their Georgian Children exhibition.

There was also a small display of historic costume for both men and women.

mid-18th century brocade dress, hat
and pocket
The Pickford family could afford to have the house built for them, and include fashionable features.

The Hallway is a perfect example. It has neo-classical motifs on the walls and ceiling.

Though I took a picture of the ceiling, it is worth seeing in person if you get the opportunity. It was definitely intended to impress.

The hall ceiling- designed to impress...






The couple of hours I spent wandering around the displays was extremely enjoyable, and the museum staff were knowledgeable and clearly cared about the House-and being able to share its delights with visitors. But like many council funded museums their future is always under review, and it is footfall and feedback that holds sway.

You can find out more about Pickford's House in Derby on their website.

If you pop over to my other blog on my Serena Lake website you will find some alternative information on the house, and a few more photos.

Just want to say hello to the charming American lady who I met in the kitchen and gave my blog details to. Like me, she was taking lots of pictures. If you're reading this I hope the rest of your short trip to England has gone well, and you got to visit some of the other places we were able to suggest.










Sunday, 23 August 2015

Diversions...

As I haven't been able to write, I've been gathering remaining research material ready for returning to the Nottinghamshire story.

My own personal hero- my husband- has taken a couple of weeks off. Unfortunately we haven't been able to go on holiday as we intended, so we've been busy reorganising at home instead, so that's why there's been little writing this month.

Though admittedly the furniture shifting did result in my getting access to some of my useful reference books, so it was worth it. :-)

We're not finished with the sorting yet, as the changeable weather has made it difficult to move some things around. You fill up a few boxes so you can move one piece, but then the boxes take up the spare room- unless you can temporarily put them outside, but then there's dark clouds building...

So there may not be another blog post until next weekend.

The time away from writing has also been giving my brain time to play with ideas for my other stories, and watch the clouds while I'm thinking.

In the past the clouds were a good indicator of approaching rain and storms, and I'm sure modern farmers have become attuned to their appearance too, just as those farming a couple of hundred years ago would have been.

Sadly I only see the standard types of clouds, but if you stand watching for a few minutes, not only do they move but they change shape and reveal and conceal light as they go- if the weather conditions are right.

Layers of light and shade...
Rain is on the way...
A burst of grey...
         

A Turtle or a Pigeon?










As a child I remember lying down on the floor of the roundabout and watching the sky revolve above my head, and the clouds wisp by like candy floss being twirled around a stick.

If you're really interested in clouds and the study of them, there's a society you can join, The Cloud Appreciation Society.

Sometimes we just need to stop and take a breath, and look up at the clouds...



(Photos taken 22nd August 2015)





Thursday, 20 August 2015

Label Your Photos Whilst You Remember...

Having two blogs to run, this one and Serena's, I thought I'd have a look through some of my old (back-up) CD/DVDs to choose a few of my archived pictures to accompany the next few posts.

Oh dear...

In (the past) my inexperience of digital photography I never individually labelled the images. So whatever was on the memory card at the start was what it was labelled.

It's not that I don't know the year they were taken, or where, I do, although I'll need to search the exact names of buildings shown in them.

But it's the odd ones that are the issue. Specifically this one.
Postcard image, source unknown...

It's a picture of a postcard of Weymouth Harbour, unknown date.

I've no idea where the postcard was on display, I just know the photo of it was taken on holiday in the summer of 2008.

It may be the detail is written down somewhere, but it wasn't on the photo information, nor on the back-up disc. Then about a year after that my old computer had to be wiped after a damaging virus got onto my machine- despite a security package. So a couple of documents and photos not backed up were lost forever... :(

Since then I've learnt a lot about correct labelling and adding tags to my images, so I don't have this issue now. And I always make a back-up copy too.

So I've now got a lot of pictures that need sorting out and relabelling-including numerous images of my (now grown-up) sons, buried in sand on Weymouth and Lyme Regis beaches, and in pebbles on Chesil Beach. :D

If anyone can enlighten me on the postcard, do get in touch; I want to credit the original source location of the postcard too.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

The Fruits of Summer...

It's fortunate you can't see the traces of purple on my fingers, but if you could then you might realise I've been picking Blackberries.

Blackberry season...
As I grew up in the Garden of England- Kent, I was used to seeing hop-fields and fruit being grown and picked, especially in the summer when it was common to go and pick Strawberries when the farmers had fruit crops to get in.

Wild brambles grew in lots of overgrown places and country roads, and it was common to pick the ripe fruit on a country walk. It was then made into a pie when we got home, or if there was enough, jam.

This was probably being done for centuries...

This year has been very good for fruit, and this winter our garden will need sorting as we've got self-seeded Redcurrants and a Holly growing up among the Tayberries- a raspberry/blackberry cross.

Of course we're growing cultivated varieties of the fruit, rather than the wilder fruit that would have grown in hedgerows a couple of centuries ago.

One of my research points for my Nottinghamshire story, is what would be growing in the rectory's kitchen garden in 1802?

My heroine, Sarah, defends herself with her spade when confronted by the hero's unpleasant cousin, and I immediately thought what would it have looked like, and could she have hefted the spade in the way I describe?

I found some images for American garden tools of the time and also have a history of country house gardens- somewhere- that I can search; but I realised that living in a village attached to a smallish estate, there would likely have been a carpenter, and even if not there, then there would be a blacksmith in another village who could make a suitable sized spade section to attach to a shaft and handle just right for my heroine's needs...

There may perhaps be a small rose somewhere, grown from a cutting given to the previous occupant of the rectory as a kind gesture.

But it certainly won't look like the scented roses in my garden that seem to have gone crazy this year- these were opening when we got the heavy rain Friday night...

blown Roses...



And the Hawthorn has
ripening berries...





Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Competition- 500 Words for Write for Elle...

Thanks to the Facebook page of the Romantic Novelists Association, I saw the link for the write for Elle competition.

Elle is a glossy monthly magazine you're guaranteed to find on the shelves of your local newsagents and supermarkets. Like many of its competitors it has a strong online and social media presence too.

So for the seventh year of this competition, they want a 500 word piece inspired by the hashtag  #RelationshipGoals so who the relationship is with that matters to you, and what you want from it, all that is up to you.

The competition opened 6th August and closes just before midnight on the 10th September.

Submission is by email and you'll find the link for the address to send it to on the competition information page, here.

Entries will be judged by an editorial team from Elle, and the remainder of the judging panel will be made up by author Jessie Burton (The Miniaturist), and novelist Kate Mosse.

Now to the prizes. The winner's piece will be published in the January 2016 issue of Elle under your own name, and you also win a Smythson monogrammed Dukes manuscript book (worth £135) - as do the remaining four finalists. There's no actual cash involved...

As with any writing competition there are terms and conditions you need to be aware of.

The winning entry may be edited "at the sole discretion of the ELLE editorial team" and "by entering this competition you consent to this and grant Hearst an exclusive licence in and to your work, in perpetuity."

The wordage is a little unclear, and I'd want clarification of whether the exclusivity is just with the winning entry, or every entry submitted (I'd suspect the latter, but I'd like to be surprised).

And whether they're 'in and to your work, in perpetuity' ONLY applies to the 500 word piece, and not any other potential articles for the magazine?

Don't forget to read the full competitions on the blue highlighted link further down the instructions page too.

Finally, you need to be over 18, resident of the UK and Ireland, not had material published by Elle or on elleuk.com and the piece submitted must not have been previously published.

If you enter, good luck...




Thursday, 6 August 2015

Making Plans for 2016...

A couple of years ago I bought an academic style diary because I started to have a list of dates for appointments and school/college dates for the next year, but only the back of the current year's diary to note them down - and my writing is not small!

So now as soon as I see them in the shops I make my choice, and at the first opportunity I transfer details over. 2016 is not going to be quiet.

Today I was booking my appointment dates for the rest of this year with my hairdresser (as the bookings for December were starting already). I have no intention of having my grey roots showing for the Festival of Romance weekend in November. :D

But this got me thinking about next year's events- yes I know it's only August...

I definitely want to go to the Writers' Conference again- this year it was the end of March, then June is always Lowdham Book Festival and a busy time generally. So if I want to get away for a research trip I'm going to have to aim for May again.

I'm thinking about a visit to Dorchester as there's some research details I need for my Dorset novel before I get back to writing it (at some point next year). On my previous visits time was limited and the family impatient to go, so like my trip to Bath last year, I need time to myself for visits.

There's still a couple of small research areas that I noted down in my Nottinghamshire novella/short novel, so I need to resolve those, but they don't require me to travel away from home, just sit down, read and look at pictures...

And write of course.

My resolution for next year will definitely be better time management. I'm getting there, but I still have to work on procrastination in the morning.

Meanwhile I've got between now and the end of November to get as much done as possible.














Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net



Thursday, 30 July 2015

Planning Museum and Gallery Visits...

Now that Serena's website is complete with it's own domain name, I'm considering a few visits to museums and galleries within the East Midlands so I'll have some interesting items to share here and on Serena's blog. And of course they will be research trips too.

I need to be able to complete the visit in a day, either by bus or train - I may even need to use both!

Locally, Nottingham Contemporary has an exhibition called The Grand Tour; this currently has loans of fine and decorative art from Chatsworth (the popular stately home in Derbyshire) but set among work by contemporary artist Pablo Bronstein, with Baroque inspirations.

Visiting a museum...
Over in Derby, there's a few museums to visit, but I'll be going to Pickford House as it has the Museum of Georgian Life and Historic Costume- the research side of the trip.

It's always interesting to see the different versions of Georgian life, as so often it's big stately homes that get visited.

The Museum and Art Gallery in Derby also has a Grand Tour event. This is a display of paintings by Joseph Wright, 'The Colosseum by Moonlight' alongside 'The Colosseum, by Daylight' are featured.

The Moonlight painting has apparently had "extensive overpainting by an enthusiastic restorer during the 20th century". It's going to begin a conservation process this autumn, so the next time it's seen by the public it will look more like it once did.

It's easy to miss what's happening locally when you live in a city with so many events, and what's available in other locations within travelling distance.

Do you have a gallery or museum that puts on tours or events you can visit?







Image courtesy of digidreamgrafix &http://freedigitalphotos.net











Monday, 27 July 2015

Almost There...

It was a busy weekend, as I was trying to get everything still to do for Serena's website and remaining social media links completed.

Although I published Serena's first proper blog post on Saturday and it could be read via my links, it wasn't showing up on the blog page I'd created. Clearly I hadn't done something I should have and I couldn't see what it was... :(

After consulting fellow writers: Patsy Collins and poet, Liz Brownlee who both have Wordpress sites, I finally found what I needed to do. It did mean changing pages and moving text, but finally this evening everything went where it should- and worked.

Tomorrow I'll start the domain mapping process to apply Serena's domain name - and pay the annual fee for doing so.

Meanwhile, Serena now has a Facebook page to go with the  existing Twitter account...

My pictures from my trip to Bath last year have begun to be helpful. Beside my lady with a fan, you will probably be seeing the dancing figures- these were on the wall in the Fashion Museum and represent the different positions in a dance- sadly I didn't make a note of what the dance was...

All I need now is to get on with the Nottinghamshire novella/potential short novel.

I've probably got another three to four chapters left of my contemporary romance to write, and as soon as that draft is completed, I'll be returning to Hugh and Sarah's historical romance story.

I'm amazed how much I've managed in a little over a week. And now that's done I can concentrate on writing, knowing the support framework is in place and there when I need it...

How to dance...












Thursday, 23 July 2015

Sorting Our Serena...

I've been busy this week putting together a website for my pseudonym, Serena Lake.

A few months ago when I bought my domain name, I also bought one for Serena. The intention was to create a website for her in the Autumn, but something has been telling me to get it done now.

I've learnt that it's advisable to listen (and action) those instinct alerts, because when I ignore them I quickly find out that it was the wrong thing to do.

I'm going to continue the Carol's Corner blog covering my writing, research and the news about competitions and other literature related items- that I sometimes venture into talking about. But while I may also talk about history related items here, I'll perhaps give a different slant or more detail on Serena's blog.

Serena's blog on the website will concentrate only the historical romance side of my writing- and reading. I may even share opinions of research books and useful websites.

I'm on the final adjustments now, and as soon as I'm happy I will get my domain transferred, and begin blogging. And of course let everyone know it's officially launched.

Making the website has taken a lot of thought as I had to decide what image I wanted to suggest by my choices of design, colour and pages, as well as their content.

Having learnt a few skills over the years with this blog I could at least create pages without any problem, though learning how to get where I want to is still a bit hit and miss. :-)

Serena's Lady with a Fan...

I'm going to let you have a quick look at the website before it is finalised- still trying to work out the contact options so that's still missing, but otherwise it's 90% there.

I'll be expanding pages when needed, and adding social media links.

So if you want a quick peek, then follow this link.




Sunday, 19 July 2015

Novella or Novel- What's the Length?

I doubt there can ever be a truly definitive answer to what it the actual length of a novella or a novel because there are so many variables: market, genre and publisher's requirements (such as Mills and Boon who have set lengths for certain categories).

So I was interested to read an article in this weekend's Arts/Books section of the Independent online, about The Novella Award. Their shortlist was announced on the 17th July, and the entries to this year's competition had to be between 20,000 and 40,000 words.

Perhaps the question is when does a novella become a novel?

The My Weekly Pocket Novels are now 50,000 words, though the version from The People's Friend is only 42,000 words. So both these are higher than the 40,000 mentioned above. But neither would be considered novel length by a mainstream publisher.

Perhaps we need to start using 'mini novel' for those word counts that fit between 40-80,000 words.

The writers of the past didn't have these issues; they went to both extremes.

'Animal Farm' by George Orwell has 29,966 words, so although it is actually novella length everyone thinks of it as a novel- probably because at the time it was written it was a novel!

While Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone With The Wind' was a large novel of 418,053 that could rival some of the Game of Thrones novels now available.

You can find some interesting facts on the wide range of word lengths on the Electric Lit website, in the post titled Infographic: Word Counts of Famous Books. (The figures from the above titles came from here.)

No doubt in a few years these figures will change and we'll still be uncertain about what length is a novella, and the minimum for a novel.

What are your thoughts on the subject?

Which is a novel and which a novella?








Thursday, 16 July 2015

All Went Well With the Names Session...

Pleased to say that the session I organised for yesterday's writers' club meeting went well.

Last month one of the writers had mentioned that they had 'holding names' for their main characters, and a couple of others agreed they did this too.

Personally it's not something I've ever done. I need at least a first name that is right for the man or woman of my imagination before I start writing.

But we all work in different ways, so if a holding name works for you then go with it. Sometimes it will be the right name. The important thing is that the character in the next story doesn't have the same name too...

I'd cut people images from old magazines, flyers and brochures (before they went in the recycling bin) so there was a mixture of ages, even action shots- a runner, and a climber.

I made two tables each for male and female names -  a mixture of traditional, modern, or shortened names. Plus I had two name books, an old one from 1991, and another from 2011 - classic and modern- it also included names from other nationalities. So if anyone wanted to browse for a different name choice they could.

Finally for anyone who wasn't sure of what a character bio was and what sort of things would be included I created a short explanation and half a dozen basic questions (with an example) to get started.

As I've found when doing the bios for my characters, there will often be a statement or remark that leads me to ask, why? It can get an interesting response, or even another direction for the character to go...

It was satisfying to see a room full of writers (of all levels) creating bios and sharing their experiences and views on naming characters with one another. And then hearing the results that the images had inspired was very interesting- a few had the potential to build a story around their new character because they had answers to why their character looked/acted the way they did.

I'll be back to the latest work in progress next week when my OH goes back to work- he's been busy in the garden tidying up, now the nesting birds have gone.

So I took a couple of fruit pictures, and below it's the Gooseberries. Even fruit bushes have names, and this one is 'Careless'.

A Gooseberry bush...