Sunday, 1 November 2020

My New Website...

 Last week I began to put together the new website. And yesterday, the last day of October, I pressed launch. 

I know minor adjustments need to be made, so that's on this week's to do list.

The most difficult part was the About page. What was I comfortable with sharing? Which insights into my writing and my values would a reader want to discover? 

I'm not sure whether I achieved that, but if not, it can be rewritten.

For now, I've gone with a simple design on WordPress, easy to navigate and read. Plus, it's good viewed on a tablet or phone.

The design of the theme has helped with my current eyesight difficulties. I had changes to my vision over the summer and needed new glasses. They're ordered, so I'm hoping the latest lockdown, announced yesterday, won't interfere in the production of the lenses, or lengthens the time it takes before I can collect them.

Once I've got my new glasses I'll be able to update my profile pictures. 

Meanwhile, it's back to the novel after my thinking time...

If you haven't seen my new website, do please pop over and take a look. I love the logo created from this initial letter image.

Image: mr1313-4924314

In this shaken up world we're living in, be kind to yourselves and stay safe...

Thursday, 22 October 2020

Past, Present and Future...

Way back...

In September 2010 I posted my first ever blog post, Hello.

Where have those years gone?


Looking back at the decade, I've learnt how to be a better writer- though I have plenty yet to learn. There's been attendances at workshops and conferences, research trips and exhibitions, along with numerous photos.

Published pieces from trying different types of writing; while other selections have been performed in front of an audience, or heard online via audio (sadly, no longer available).

Not that long ago...

One of my proudest moments (to date) was seeing my Womag rights article published in Writing Magazine, two years ago.

Working on...

Now, the focus of my writing time will be getting the novel finished and up to publishable standard. Then onto the next first draft that's been waiting some time.

I've also less time to put into regular blog posts, hence the future change...

Under Construction...

A basic website.

I've been considering this move for two years and decided now was the time to get on with it- while there are fewer outside of home commitments.

Plenty to do yet- reviewing potential templates is the main hurdle for this week.

I have a new domain for the website, waiting in the wings. 


Carol's Corner will continue for now with it's current domain, and there'll be blog posts up to the end of the year.

Clocks and computer screen images courtesy of

Monday, 21 September 2020

Good News...

The good news arrived too late for Sunday's post, so I'm sharing it today...

I have received the report from this year's RNA New Writers' Scheme submission.

It was a partial of 12,000 words and a two-page synopsis (as it wasn't the full draft). 

After last year's experience I was a little apprehensive. 

Fortified by wine and chocolate, I downloaded and opened the report; and discovered encouraging, supportive, and insightful feedback. 

As expected it identified the areas I knew would likely be picked up and need further working on, but other things I'd missed. 

There was nothing I disagreed with, and the suggestions on possible avenues to consider has been most helpful. 

My working title is okay for now, but I'll need to give some thought to a better one. 

I don't know who the reader was- and never will, but I'm grateful for their comprehensive report, and encouragement. I hope they won't mind me quoting a couple of lines from their conclusion:

You write well, and I think you have made an excellent start, capturing the feel and style of a light contemporary romance with a bit of suspense thrown into the mix very well. 

When I submitted the first 12,000 words of this second draft (or 1.5 as I think of it) I wasn't sure if I would go beyond that, but reading the report again, I'm determined to complete the draft. 

I'll be going through the report with the highlighters this week...

Image by Alexas_Fotos from

Sunday, 20 September 2020

The Next Quarter...

 September is passing swiftly, and I need to get on with one of the novels.

I'm making a list...

There's a handful of outstanding items on my should have been done by now list, so next week I'll dive in and get them done. 

I've also been spending extra time in the garden, enjoying the sunshine and warm air while it's here. That may be why my to-do list hasn't receded... :D

One of my (now) grown-up children went off to university in the north-west, last weekend. Unfortunately it's in an area with additional restrictions put in place due to rising Covid positive test results. 

For now, meetings at the Writers' Club remain cancelled. I miss the regular get-togethers and while Zoom is useful, I'm not totally comfortable using it. 

I happened to see a book mentioned online, last month, one that many writer would find interesting; The Writer's Guide to Psychology: How to Write Accurately About Psychological Disorders, Clinical Treatment and Human Behaviour, by Carolyn Kaufman, Psy.D. 

While it is American and was published ten years ago it's a helpful starting point to then go on to the latest information. The chapter on Common Myths and Mistakes is a must read...

There is a kindle version available.

Now my eyes have been tested and the optician has confirmed my vision has changed, I need new glasses. I will be venturing back in to the city centre sometime this week to choose them.

(Currently, if I want to read anything I need to take my glasses off and hold the book or paper closer.)

I'll get a new academic diary while I'm out too- I'm lost without one (the weekend no longer feels like the old weekends did).

(The Sunflowers in the picture have now gone-over and laying on the ground to dry out.)

Have a good week...

Monday, 31 August 2020

Deadlines are Hard Work...

The last day of August is here. For me that's the deadline for submitting my entry to the RNA's New Writers' Scheme.

Last year I put in my submission in at 4.30 am on the last day. Well I'm pleased to say this year it was only eight minutes into the last day when I clicked save and finalise.

I've submitted a partial this year; five chapters and the synopsis. 

I decided not to edit and submit the first half of chapter six. That turned out to be sensible with the deadline looming.

Giving myself the the whole of August to edit the chapters was important- I didn't do that last year.  It's given me a better idea of how much time I need in future...

2020's manuscript has a contemporary, rather than a historical setting. Not a sub-genre I've tried before.

As to the synopsis... I'm not good with them. Suspect I'd have needed the whole of August to edit it and still wouldn't have been right. The only positive from writing it out, I can see what might be better to cut, and potential plot holes.

There's outstanding research to do before I move on to the next chapters, so I'll get on with that meanwhile.

My family will be glad to get meals without chips. As the end of the month deadline approaches they get fed up of take-away's. Been no time for baking either...

Time in the garden has been helpful too. Colour and textures reminded me to be aware of the senses. 

So much has changed while I've been working on the manuscript. The berries on the Hawthorn have gone from orange to red...

Wonder what progress will be made by next spring when the blossom returns.

Wednesday, 29 July 2020

Here and Now...

The Present

Yes, I'm back. Four months since I last posted and you may have forgotten I exist...

I'm into a routine and writing again; important as the the RNA New Writers' Scheme deadline draws ever nearer...

The last four months have been busy.

The Past

The Covid-19 virus hit my family as the country went into lockdown. Writing stopped and the priority was dealing with the resulting health issues- those were scary days.

Putting up the
I did read, in fact I read so much that the battery on my Kindle e-reader finally died! As I discovered when I ordered a replacement, there weren't any and I'd have to wait for an unknown time. It took about a month, but it arrived.

There's been lots of research reading, baking and gardening going on too- though that's probably obvious from the pictures...

Making Fruit Scones...

Growing Salad Leaves
from seed...
Reading for Research,,,

The Future?

I've also been thinking about the future of this blog, and my Serena Lake website/ blog. No final decision has been made yet as I need to research further options, and the practicalities may mean compromises.

There's lots of catching up to do...

Sunday, 22 March 2020

Staying Positive...

We all know what's going on in the world at the moment, and it's turned all our lives upside down.

But writers are a resilient bunch, and they've been coming up with ideas to help us all get through the coming months.

Spring is on the way...
You might feel too distracted to write for the moment, but there's plenty you can do meanwhile.

If you're on social media platforms, look out for book promotions; many writers have reduced their ebooks down to 99p or doing a free promotion. Would be good if you return the favour with a review when you've finished.

Indie authors need our support as their print on demand copies are being delayed or listed as not available (on Amazon), which equals no money coming in from them. Meanwhile, their ebooks can generate income and/or reviews. 

Reading time...
If you enjoy reading short stories, then join a new Facebook group, Uplifting stories for crazy times. Follow the link on the Womagwriter blog.

Do you have saved links on your browser or elsewhere on your computer? Now may be the best time to organise them while distractions are reduced.

Do you have a record of all your books- whatever the format- and what platform they're on? If it's not up to date, now may be the time to organise them. Then you'll be ready to make changes, update or plan promotions when normality returns.

How about catching up on those blogs and podcasts you keep telling yourself you must read or listen to...

Have a browse on YouTube and discover all those fabulous writers, experts and aficionados who share their knowledge on their own channels.

I'll be using catch-up services for a couple of TV programmes that I've missed.

If you can go outside, there's always the gardening...

I won't be posting again for a few weeks, but will check in, and read comments and other blog posts, even if I'm away from my desk in another room.

In the garden...

What positive activities will you be doing?

#Stay safe. #Stay indoors. And keep up with the #handwashing for 20 seconds...

Sunday, 1 March 2020

Prompts Can Help...

Prompts 2020 by [James, Gill]
You can find
out more 


March has arrived and spring beckons- thankfully. I may get rid of my lingering cold too...

Do you use prompts to get you writing?

They're a good way to get inspiration during those lean spells, but they can also jog the memory and recall those filed away ideas that you said you would do when you had time...

If you find prompts helpful, then I have two recommendations for you. I have bought both books myself.

First, Prompts 2020 from Chapeltown Books. Alongside several prompts there're pieces on writingcraft and editing a completed piece of writing, along with other helpful items. With 366 to choose from, there will always be something to dip into (and it lists all contributors).

It's only available as an ebook for now, but it's great value and less than the price of a cup of coffee in many high street coffee shops.

You'll find my Christmas prompts in July (there is a reason); one each day from the 18th to the 27th.

By Patsy Collins
I created my list of prompts last year for an exercise at the writers' club, but they remained unused. I'm delighted they have found a home in this book.

~ ~ ~

The other book is by Patsy Collins, A Year of Ideas... 365 sets of prompts and exercises. It's available as a paperback and an ebook.

I bought the paperback for myself as I enjoy having a physical copy available to open at random or browse; you can do that or start from page one and work through, or just choose that day's date...

Have you read any other prompt books that you'd recommend?

Tuesday, 25 February 2020

Dropping By...

A quick update.

Making progress on the novel draft for now, which explains the lack of posts currently.

Sadly I've had to remove the contact form as it's being used for spam. But I can still be contacted via Twitter or on my writer page on Facebook.

I'll be back here on Sunday...

This is now...

Sunday, 9 February 2020

Filler Words... What's Yours?

Ask any group of writers what their filler words are and 'just' is certain to appear. They're those words we write without thinking and don't help the clarity.

Those pesky filler
I'm guilty of using filler words, but I'm picking them up better than last year. Now, even stopping mid-sentence and asking myself, do I need to use that word? The answer, no.

There will be others that need removing in the editing process, but if I can reduce known repeat offenders along the way, it saves time later...

We use many of the filler words in everyday conversation, and according to an expert, in this 2017 article from the Independent newspaper online, those words have a purpose- politeness and processing.  (That explains my use of 'well' in conversations...) :D

Perhaps that also fools our brain into giving filler words a pass card when we're writing drafts?

My top three: so, well, and just. I'm working on negating very.

Which filler words do you have to edit out?

Image created with

Thursday, 9 January 2020

The Self-Doubt Gremlin...

The decorations came down on Sunday and a normal regime began on Monday- my snoozing creativity woke up, but the rest of me was failing to keep up.

I've been dealing with the self-doubt gremlin for a few weeks now. It nearly derailed the mini workshop I was putting together for the writers' club meeting (last night), but I got through it and the gremlin has scarpered.

Weeks of disturbed sleep haven't helped; caused by strange disjointed dreams that had no clear meaning or any sense. I assume my brain was deleting unwanted junk in the memory...

Amazing how beneficial eight hours' undisturbed slumber can be.

There's still lots to catch up on, besides getting back to the novel rewrite; I need to make notes on new scenes before I forget why they're needed and get on with finishing the book I'm reading for research.
No Self-Doubt Gremlins

Meanwhile, avoid gremlins...

Image: with additions in