Wednesday 27 February 2013

Reaching for Targets...

Word count targets...
Well my mini target of a minimum 500 words a week on my work in progress - which I started in January - has been working really well and even on difficult weeks I'm exceeding that target.
In fact this month I almost managed 5,000 words, but have fallen a little short by less than 250 words.

I'll be continuing the minimum word count each week, but my new challenge will be to write 5,000 words in March.

I'm now at a stage where not only am I discovering information about my heroine that I didn't foresee when I was doing my character sheets last year, but elements within specific chapters (that I had outlined) have needed shifting around a little too.

When the idea for the novella first came to me all those years ago, I wrote two different scenes, both involving my heroine Sarah, and having written one of those two scenes earlier this month, and reached the other scene today, I know I must find those original pieces- they captured something that I can't grasp now, but know is needed for these scenes.

So I'll be looking through old floppy disks this weekend- I have a plug-in floppy drive fortunately- and searching DVDs for the elusive words...

There's no more school/college holidays until Easter, so I have just under 4 undisturbed weeks to reach my new target...

Do you find setting yourself targets a help, or a hindrance?

Image courtesy of Vaximilian and

Friday 22 February 2013

Characters That Start Talking to You...

It's very useful when your characters talk to you; reveal information about themselves, or other people, even tell you what they thought about the behaviour of another character.

 As long as they don't do it at the wrong time...

The wrong time being: when you're in a room full of people; it's noisy; you don't have a pen or pencil, or any paper; without a recording device you can spill their burst of thoughts into...

Then there's when you're in the shower and you're washing your hair- yes, Jago did that- he's my very attractive support character from my Dorset novel- then he waited until I was almost dressed and had started cleaning my teeth... :-)

A couple of writer friends confirmed this issue the other day. One mentioned the bathroom scenario, while the other despaired over characters talking at her while she was trying to concentrate on cooking a meal.

Now mine used to interrupt during cooking, but I just went and got a pen and notebook and started writing. I think that annoyed them...

So whether relaxing or creating, a character will grab the opportunity to break through and start whispering in your ear, or looking over your shoulder as they can't wait any longer to give you the details of something that happened in their past, which explains something else that didn't make sense previously, but now you know why you wrote it into the story...

Then they'll slip back into the mists, or in my case behind the wispy curtain, without so much as a see you later...

It's all to do with the writer's subconscious of course.

Everything under construction goes there. The ideas that have been triggered by an image, or an over- heard conversation. An incident observed, or noticed without consciously being aware of it.

It will synergise while normal everyday life goes on, and then when you sit down at the keyboard it all comes together. The plot problem that you thought couldn't be resolved, turns out to have a solution after all.

And most importantly the subconscious keeps the writer sane- well sort of... :-)

So, do your characters choose inconvenient moments to pop in to your conscious, or is it a specific place that brings them out?

Thursday 21 February 2013


I'm at the stage in the novella where I need to use a flashback.

I've always been ambivalent about flashbacks. Done well they can help a story; done badly, they will ruin it.

As I'm only on the first draft, it doesn't matter if I don't get it right the first time- that's what further drafts and editing are for... :-)

I'm sure I'm not the only writer who has weak spots, so yes, flashbacks are one of mine.

Now fortunately I know a writer, A J Humpage, who is good at explaining how to use flashbacks effectively, so I looked up her blog 'All Write - Fiction Advice' for the post on the subject. Read it here.

Found some useful pointers in avoiding getting flashbacks wrong, here, at Fiction Notes.

So next week I will be attempting the short flashback scene that leads to secrets being revealed...

Any advice on successful flashbacks?

Or any thoughts on the subject?

Then please leave a comment. I enjoy reading, and responding to them. :-) 

Sunday 17 February 2013


This week is half term in the UK, so that means my writing time will be severely eaten into, but I hope to keep to my minimum writing target anyway.

Today I had one of those moments when a whole scene started playing in my head and there was no quiet to concentrate, the computer was in use by another family member, and everyone kept asking questions as I was desperately trying to hold onto the scene and stop it fading away, until I could get to my pen and notebook.

I lost some of the first bits of dialogue, but the important elements of the scene hung around long enough for me to write the basics...

It was actually the end of the novella, which has only been a vague point in the future. I knew there was a happy ending, and the big revelation that leads up to it, but hadn't been too concerned about it.

But clearly my brain has been working in the background anyway, and the content feels right.

Now I just have to get on with the bit in the middle... :-)

Now Blogger seems to have sorted out the accessing the elements, of the layout in my browser, issue. I am going to finish updating the blog.

So you may see some different styles being tried out in the coming week, while I decide what I like and what works for me.

Then I will have to start getting Serena's site sorted out...

Thursday 14 February 2013

It's Love-ly Thursday...

Happy Valentine's Day.

Happy Valentine's Day
My lovely other half bought me some 'Sweetheart' red roses last night at the supermarket, and this morning I got up to find
a lovely card and a box of Thorntons Classic Collection chocolates waiting for me... :-)

(He has a card and a hardback book awaiting
him when he gets home.)

I mentioned in my last post that I was still reading Erica James's 'The Real Katie Lavender'; now I've finished reading it, I can safely say there was a happy ending for her...

And if you want some freebie romance/romance intrigue e-books today (Thursday)
then Sally Quilford is your lady. Pop over to her blog to find out the specifics- and remember you don't need a Kindle to read them, you can download an app for your computer so you can read them that way.

As to the novella, progress is still being made. This week I've written the scene where Hugh and Sarah share their first kiss...

(You can track my weekly progress in the side bar, as I update it soon after my writing sessions.)

Have a great day...

image courtesy of Renjith Krishnan and

Tuesday 12 February 2013

I've Been Reading...

This post should have been done yesterday, but I was out clothes shopping with one of my younger sons- the fashion aware one at that too. Needless to say I was exhausted by the time I got home, so the blog is being done today instead.

It did cross my mind that it would have been much easier in the 19th century; I could have just sent him along to the tailor to measure him up and make the clothes he needed...

So I thought I'd share with you a couple of the books I've been reading- both have been keeping me up until midnight just to finish the next chapter.

I've read a few of Trisha Ashley's books over the last two years, so when I was trawling through the kobo bookstore and saw 'A Winter's Tale' and read the brief description, I wasn't too sure if I'd enjoy it, so I downloaded the preview to read, and I was hooked.

Sophy Winter is a single mother who has just lost her job, but finds out she's unexpectedly inherited her childhood family home 'Winters End'. With family squabbles, a ghost ancestress and two men to deal with, as well as trying to come up with a plan to make the stately home pay its way, she's going to be busy.

The book was fun to read, and kept me guessing until the end whether Sophy would get her happy ending. I'd recommend it if you want an entertaining feel-good read.

Immediately after I finished 'A Winter's Tale' I started reading Erica James's 'The Real Katie Lavender'. Another book that I downloaded a preview of and then decided to buy.

I'm enjoying the book, but it's a bit more intense on the family dynamics front. I think Erica James is an author I might read again, but not without downloading a preview of the story first.

30 year old Katie Lavender is made redundant. At the same time she receives a letter from a solicitor who has instructions to give Katie a letter. The letter is from her mother who died a year previously. The contents lead her on a journey that will change her future...

I haven't quite finished reading it yet, but it's a, must just read the next chapter before I go to bed, type of book.

I'm hoping for a happy ending for a few of the characters at least...

By the time I finish this book, I will have read about 8 books so far this year. Well I did say to writer friends last year, that I was going to try and read more books in 2013, and try authors I haven't read before...

Have you read any books so far this year that you'd recommend?

Saturday 9 February 2013

Some Research is Bonkers...

The research a writer does is never bonkers. It's often quite inspirational, in fact it can be downright distracting.

No, the research I'm talking about is the rubbish I read about today Chick-lit 'lowers women's self-esteem' in the Telegraph online - and in the Women's section too.

"The study, published by Virginia Tech (Virginia’s Polytechnic Institute and State University), found that chick-lit books, in which the main character worries about her weight, made female readers more uneasy about their own body image." (Telegraph)

Well when you read on and discover how the test was carried out- they used two books where the central characters were healthy body weights but had low self-esteem (don't we all at some time, especially in winter?) and passages "were selected and nine different versions of the respective texts were produced in which the protagonists’ perception of their body was distorted."

In other words they mucked around with the written words to prove their theories. I won't go on, you can read about it at the above link, but we all get the idea...

I think the researchers should be more worried about the effect of highly paid female celebrities and singers in gaudy barely there clinging outfits in music videos and at high profile events, rather than a book of fiction- the last word does give it away...

And I'm very glad to say that there is a insightful and amusing response from Katy Brand, who echoes the odd thought or two I'd agree with-except the badly written bit... :-)

"The idea that any ‘scholar’ or ‘health official’ should trouble themselves for more than a nanosecond about what some woman thinks about the size of her bottom as a result of reading some badly written piece of fiction they got free with a magazine is a joke. Read and let read, that’s what I say – no book can truly make you feel bad about yourself, and if it does, stop reading it." (Katy Brand )

Of course there are women and young girls who have issues with their bodies, there always have been; I had a school friend who developed anorexia and had to be hospitalised- that was nearly forty years ago- and there was no chick-lit around then.

So researchers, don't claim chick-lit, or women's fiction supports your theories, it doesn't...

Thursday 7 February 2013

One of Those Weeks...

All my plans for progressing with the novella are slipping back this week.

I've got a handful of urgent issues to get resolved or organised. It's not that I mind, but they always happen when it's a week short on free time due to appointments.

Any other week when it's quiet and there's time to deal with additional issues, nothing happens.

I will be writing, but it will be non-fiction, some short fillers needed urgently. But it will add to my weekly writing total...

In the novella I'm about to write a scene with lots of conflict going on, and as what happens in this scene has consequences later on in the story, I need to get it clear in my head first before my fingers touch the keyboard.

I think chapter six is going to be slightly longer than the others...

I haven't even had time to read about the latest happenings in the writing world this week. Hopefully I'll have found something interesting for the weekend blog post.

Well I better get on, I have a long to do list, and words to add.

Monday 4 February 2013

The Hazards of Writing About the Past...

It's Monday so it must be catch-up day.

I really don't know where the weekend went to, but I didn't get my regular blog post done, or my word count totals for the week recorded.

Glad to say I managed to exceed my minimum word count again last week, but it was slightly down on the previous weeks totals- only 815 words this time.

I'm one of those writers who needs quiet, with the minimum of interruptions- if any, when I'm writing.

Sadly my first session last week came to an abrupt end when after two phone calls, I was disturbed by music so loud I could actually hear the lyrics clearly. It was permeating through the walls from my next-door neighbour, and that was enough to drag me out of 1802 completely...

Every writer has their personal writing routine. I need coffee- and often toast- to get me settled.

I keep a log of every writing session I do. So I have one just for the novella, another for short stories, and another for my novel. Before I start any writing I note down the session, date and time started, and the intended work.

Then I read through the previous chapter, make minor adjustment, and make a note of anything major that occurs to me as I go along. So by the time I get to where I left off, from the previous writing session, I'm 'in the zone'... :-)

The best way to describe it, is as if I'm an observer to the scene I'm writing. I can step back a little and decide that, say, a piece of dialogue or an action would be better done this way, rather than that way, but I'm still tied into the scene in my mind, aware that the 21st century world is still going on just over my shoulder, but in the scene in my mind I'm in 1802...

I can get up to look at a reference book to confirm something, or go and make another cup of coffee, but I don't lose that link, an invisible cord between my characters and myself.

Often I don't realise how much time has gone by, until I get to a stage where my concentration wavers, or I start to feel hungry- you can use a lot of energy without realising it. Once I reach that stage my characters start to slip away from me, and I know it's time to stop.

I save my work, and if I've completed a section then I'll print it out. I'll see how many words I've done in the session and make a note on my time sheet, and the time I've finished at.

Within 5-10 minutes all the modern sounds of the surrounding world start to consciously register again and I'm totally back in 2013...

But it really isn't a good idea for anyone to ask me a question about anything, or ring me, until I'm totally back in the present.

If you write about the past, have you found anything that helps you with any stage of the process?

Current Word Count 

Work In Progress
image courtest of Salvatore Vuono and

Total for January: 3,084