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 &

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 &

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...