Thursday 29 January 2015

Solutions then Snow...

Today's post won't be very long, nor writing related.

Our house has had a very bad case of Water Hammer recently- so whenever anyone turns on/off the hot taps there's a horrid noise.

Fortunately the heating was okay- I don't work well in cold.

The heating Engineer visited today and the solution is a valve being inserted into the pipework - seems we have a water pressure issue.

It will be a couple of days before it can be done, but it's not going to be too costly a job - thankfully. But it has limited writing time. :(

I thought I'd share a few of my snow pictures from today with you.

At lunchtime we had a sudden downfall and the snow settled quite quickly, but now most of it has turned to slush and the sun is shining again.

It's Snowing

One minute it was just cold with a dull sky - I was in the process of refilling the bird food containers when the phone rang just as I was about to go back out, and in the 30 seconds it took to go from the kitchen door to the phone, the sky's opened...

Blue Sky Arriving...

After about half an hour the snow eased up and started to melt.

I just caught the back edge of the snow cloud as blue sky appeared again...

Turned to Slush...
We often miss the snow in the lower areas of Nottinghamshire, so when it does arrive, even half an hour's fall is interesting to watch.

Though I know it can also be very hazardous for others, so if you're deluged with snow at the moment, stay safe...

Strangely enough there's a light snow flurry just started outside...

Sunday 25 January 2015

Digging Out Those Forgotten Stories...

Today I was thinking about my old stories, and how none of my teenage attempts survived- I do regret that.

When I started writing again in 1999 (after many years of not touching a keyboard of any sort)  I began using a Brother Word Processor - much better than a typewriter as I could move words around and carry on without having to retype the whole page.

Recently I retrieved a number of my old floppy disks whilst I was sorting through some old boxes. They were from the time I got my first computer that was running XP.

(Fortunately I can still read them as I have a floppy disk drive that just plugs into a USB port.)

They didn't have any full length stories on them, but there were ideas, and on one a copy of the articles I wrote for a (now defunct) online magazine. I even became their 'Lifestyle correspondent'. :-)

Despite no stories on these disks, I know that I have another set somewhere in the house, including half of the first novel I tried to write- I got to 40,000 words. Along with these are all my printed pages, research notes and images.

No doubt they're all in a box somewhere in a cupboard probably behind other boxes. I didn't have my office area then, so they got packed away in one of our major move rounds...

Meanwhile I do have a couple of short stories that I need to do something with, and I do have those on my computer, plus on memory sticks, a disc, and there's also a printed copy - okay that's overkill, but I won't lose them completely like those earlier efforts in an unreadable language.

Looking back at my old writing is strange. I can see how much I still had to learn then, but also, there were glimmers of the writer I've become, and there were also the first hints of my 'voice'.

I'm still learning, and quite honestly it's important to do so...

Have you ever lost your early writing, or do you still have it?

Wednesday 21 January 2015

Virtual Romance Festival Back...

Just seen the news that the HarperCollins Virtual Romance Festival is returning for a second year- save the weekend dates of the 7th and 8th February in your diary.

I've just registered for the event- it's free.

As last year, one day will be aimed at writers, and the other for readers.

Again events will take place on Facebook, Twitter, the Festival's Wordpress site, and Google Hangouts.

Last year the Wordpress site got temporarily shut down, so hopefully that won't happen this time, as it kept everyone up to the moment on who was where...

Most of the 2014 writers day I spent on Facebook; as there was a different person/subject every hour, and I found it very useful. Lots of writers asking questions and sharing their experiences and thoughts.

And experts generously sharing their expertise and answering the barrage of questions.

Twitter was a bit too fast paced for me to keep up with that as well, but I was able to access many of the other events I missed from the links in the emails sent, and the Wordpress site when it was back up and running.

This announcement on the Bookseller website will give you some general information, and includes the link to the Eventbrite page to register.

Bookseller article with Eventbrite link, here.

If you're on Facebook you can like their RomanceFestival page.

So often it can be difficult for writers to get to Festivals and Conferences in person, so this virtual event is a fantastic opportunity to take part without leaving home.

If you missed last year's festival in June, then here's my blog post from last year sharing my experience of the writers day.

If you go, enjoy every busy minute. :-)

Friday 16 January 2015

When Characters Talk to You...

I've had a busy week so my Thursday post is being written today instead.

And just because other essential appointments get in the way, it doesn't mean I'm not thinking about writing, just that the writing pot is being stirred in the background.

On Monday I had to make a timeline (for the back story) before I could progress with the next scene. I knew roughly when past events occurred, but there were a couple that I needed confirmed.

Those details are for me, and the reader will not need to know the majority of that history...

A character starts talking...
But another aspect on both writing and non-writing time is when characters decide to talk to you; they give you an important snippet of information that makes sense of something else, or they start an exchange of dialogue- or complain about another character.

Now at home going round muttering wildly to yourself, even in front of family members, is viewed with a shake of the head and remarks of ,'there's no point saying anything to her'- at least not until whatever it is, is written somewhere!

Do the muttering out in public and people look at you a bit strangely.

A couple of writer friends revealed the times their characters start talking to them. Ironing is popular, as is cooking. It's a bit inconvenient too if you're in the shower or washing your hair when they start- my historical characters don't understand that the bathroom is not the place to start talking to me.

Today, two of my contemporary characters began holding a conversation- giving me the answer to one of my approaching plot niggles- when I was meant to be thinking food shopping.

I'm sure I had a crazed look on my face as I looked around the busy location for somewhere to stop and write. Seeing a vacant bench I almost sprinted toward it, hoping that no one would suddenly decide to go and sit there before I reached it- that usually happens to me.

Pen and notebook retrieved from my bag I started jotting, and as I was actually writing at an angle-because I was holding onto bags at the same time as the notebook- I hope I can still read it! :D

Satisfied I had the basics of the conversation my two characters quietened down and wandered off to their respective destinations, allowing me to buy food without further distractions.

That conversation will be written up onto the computer next week, when I get onto chapter 10.

I'm just glad that my other lurking characters are polite and wait until it's their story before talking to me...

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /

Sunday 11 January 2015

Being More Productive - Otherwise Known as Stop Wasting Time...

Trying to be more productive is the operative phrase for me at the moment.

I've found a writing system that seems to fit me, and now I just need to improve my word count...

Sadly life- or actually other people, over whom I have no control, can and will get in the way.

So to cut down on the opportunities for procrastination and make the most of the time I do have I'm going to keep a desk diary, not just a bag diary.

My printer gives me access to lots of online templates and they have printable diaries. I know I could set a desktop one, but I wouldn't see that once my browser is open, so I'm going to try a paper one that can be stuck up within my eye line.

No idea how it will work, but it will certainly help by reminding me sooner that I have appointments coming up, and not agreeing to do other things the same week I'm already busy- which is happening at the moment.

And if you need ideas on how to be more productive then I can certainly recommend 'Give Up Ironing - A Writer's Guide to Time Management' by Kathleen McGurl.

I certainly recognised a few elements I could improve on- box sets, in my case NCIS, I will say no more... :(

Anything you can recommend to improve writing output?

Thursday 8 January 2015

Trophy Presentation...

If you read my post about Awards Night early last month, you may recall that it was the announcement that I'd won the Nottingham Writers' Club, Mary Street Shield- the official title is 'The Romantic Novelist of the Year'...

I'm grateful that I was only required to submit a synopsis and first three chapters and not the whole thing- as I'm still writing it!

This is the second time my name has gone onto this trophy, so it looks like writing romance is my strong point... :D

As it's a bi-annual competition I now have time to come up with a few ideas for 2016!

Anyway here's the picture from last night's meeting.

Carol Bevitt- winner of the 2014 Mary Street Memorial
Shield for a Romance Novel

Sunday 4 January 2015

Festival of Romance 2015 - book now...

Hope you all had a great Christmas and New Year.

I'm not quite back into normal routine yet as all the family have been here, but this week a regular schedule will return to the household...

Last year I missed The Festival of Romance as it was in September- it clashed with my son moving into university accommodation. So I'm very pleased that 2015's Festival is back to November.

Details here. Dates: 6th - 8th November 2015.

This year the festival will be held a few miles from Stratford upon Avon (yes, Shakespeare country), and as there is the opportunity to secure exclusive use of the hotel for the festival weekend, the organisers would like people to book with a £50 deposit now- the balance to be paid in September.

The ticket price includes all events, and breakfast and dinner as listed in the programme details. This link gives you the 2015 programme - looks like a great time.

For the history enthusiast, the hotel was converted from a Manor House, but does apparently have the 'mod cons'- free wifi and parking. And a few minutes walk away is Charlecote Park, a National Trust 16th century country house.

If I'd been travelling by train as I did in 2013, I would have taken up the option of the extra Sunday night for an additional charge, but I'm taking the shorter travel route this year - car.

Now I have to start saving... :D