Friday, 26 August 2016

Writers are yellow cars

Every so often, I have a wobble - you've probably been witness to it once or twice: I wonder why I'm even a writer. Because everyone seems to be a writer. Is there really any room for me? I talk to people online, and discover they're writing a book. Or I'll meet someone new in real life, and - guess what? - they're a writer too.

In fact, there seems to be far more writers than readers these days.

#2 son is a budding actor. Today he was telling me about his friends, and they all seem to be part of one acting group or another. As a child, he's drawn to the people who have the same interests, of course - and perhaps acting groups are more prolific for kids these days than when I was at school. None of my friends were actors, and I didn't want to be one - I can't recall any of my non-friends who were actors either.

My husband's first car was a yellow Metro, and I knew how easy it would be to find that car in a multi-storey car park... it would sparkle like a star from a bed of really dull-coloured cars. Until every car seemed to be yellow. Ugh! They weren't all yellow the day before, when we didn't have a yellow car. They were many colours.

Many years later we had an import car - this time, when we met other drivers of the same car on the road, we'd give them a wave. We seemed to be waving an awful lot!

So, perhaps there aren't a limitless numbers of writers oozing out of gaps in the walls or cracks in the pavement. Perhaps, by being a writer, I just notice them more.

This post is brought to you from a really boring bus journey this morning

Saturday, 20 August 2016

No story goes to waste

Having fun on Seaton Beach, Cornwall with Artoo
After working hard on You. I. Us. and turning a novella into a novel for most of this year, I'm now looking back at some of my older stories and wondering if I can create something amazing out of them.

I do this on a fairly regular basis, with various levels of success. One of the stories from You. I. Us. - Redemption - was based on a story I wrote around 1997. The actual story bore no resemblance by the end of the re-write, but it kick-started me, and allowed me to tell the story I'd wanted to initially. Sometimes I find my own improvements as a writer enable past stories to be revitalised in a way that I could never imagine.

I'm currently attempting this process with two stories at the same time. One is basically a piece of description that I'm hoping to squeeze a plot out of, and the other is the first part of my 2012 NaNoWriMo novel.

But I'm going through the whole spectrum of writing within one page. I'll write a sentence I think is perfect, then another which is rubbish, then I'll decide the whole idea is a waste of time, then I'll sweep right back to writing something brilliant again.

This makes it really hard to know if I'm actually writing anything that's any good. In fact, the original title of this post was "How do you know if you're writing a good story?" but that sounded like I was going to give advice and actually explain, rather than appeal for help myself.

(If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you'll know giving advice isn't my forte!)

As far as I can tell, from my own experience, you know when you get that gut-feeling. I've had it many times, and I'm usually right. Which should mean that when I don't have that feeling I should give up, right?

But I won't. Because I'm stubborn.

How do you decide which projects are worth the effort?
Have you ever shelved a story and gone back to it?


In other news, You. I. Us. has been getting some really great reviews recently. Thank you to everyone who's taken the time to leave a review on Goodreads or Amazon.

Whenever I get a good review, I treat myself to some chocolate - and you should know how much I like chocolate by now, so I really appreciate it on a whole new level.

Friday, 5 August 2016

Me and the Doctor

I've been quiet this week, because I've been away. First we stopped off at a very normal and grown-up National Trust property, then we went to the Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff. If you're ever in Cardiff, it's well worth a visit. We spent almost three hours there.

I thought I'd share some photos, because I know some of you are just as big a fan as I am! (Some of these are blurred, and I'm in a few of them... sorry, on both counts.)

Clara's display and TARDIS tribute
The TARDIS from the 70s and 80s -
with the all-important hat stand

The Silence

Me with Eleven, kinda

The TARDIS of Nine and Ten

Some random baddies and the Face of Bo
I really thought I was acting
nonchalant here. Turns out I was
just smiling a lot!

River Song's outfits

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Man Booker time again

It's Man Booker longlist time again, and it looks like a good one.

I was a little uninspired by last year's list, but this year I already had some of the books on my TBR list, so I spent time today adding a couple more.

I hadn't realised it was being announced today until one of my friends on Facebook - the owner of Salt - shared the news that another of his authors had been included, Wyl Menmuir for his book The Many. I wrote about Salt's story in 2012 when Alison Moore made it to the shortlist. You can read my post here - it's an inspiring story in itself.

I love the Man Booker Prize, because I'll be winning it when I'm 56 (it's been a long standing conviction since I was 17, I might have mentioned it once or twice).

Every year, when the prize rolls around, it makes me super focused on my writing. I've been a bit aimless (again... *sigh*) since I finished my WIP at the end of last month, so today I started re-reading a novel I've been submitting to agents, and decided to refresh it. None of the agents have been interested, so it's probably a good time to have another go at it. Beta readers have given it thumbs up, so it might be just a case of jiggling with it and trying again.

It can't hurt, right?

At the moment, I have chopped up/taped back together scenes strewn all over my floor, and I'm fending Artoo off with my foot. So, it's probably time to get back to work.

What have you been up to?
What gets you motivated to write? Do you even need motivating as much as I do?

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Visiting Crystal

I'm over on Crystal Collier's blog today, taking part in her Writerly Wednesday feature. Decide which of my facts is a lie for a chance to win a signed copy of You. I. Us.

In other news, it's hot. The UK is sweltering under a heatwave - although it might already be over by the time you read this. At least I work in an air conditioned gym!

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Laptop woes and holidays

Good morning! It's good to be back. You might not have noticed my absence, but I have been very aware of the lacking of blogging, networking and laptop in my life over the past week.

Such a long week...

Laptop woes

I had grand plans when I finished my blog tour of visiting all the people who'd commented on my blog and replying... But my laptop went away to be serviced. I waved it goodbye last Monday evening and waited. Then I vacuumed, and cleaned the bathroom, and washed the windows, and  gave the box of You. I. Us's a proper home.


Then I went away for the weekend.... Yay! I went on a trip with my dad and sister to Bletchley Park, the Duxford Air Show and Milestones Museum in Basingstoke. I promised myself I'd take lots of photos, and then didn't. So, to illustrate my weekend away here I am, looking very scared, in front of the bar used in The Imitation Game, in a display at Bletchley... Ready?

Even though my New Year's Resolution was to take a selfie a day for the year, I'm obviously still very bad at taking them.

But this is one of the better photos I took, apart from this one, from the air show... Taking photos of planes is really hard. You should have seen the calamity of me trying to catch the F-22 fighter jet!

More laptop woes

We came home on Sunday evening, and I was still without my laptop. On Monday, I wandered the house, watched telly, read a book, wrote some notes for a new flash fiction, and went down into town to buy a mop.

Reader, there was no mop! I bought a duster instead.

My laptop didn't come home until late yesterday - Tuesday - evening. It was a harsh eight days (and I was away for four of them!)

But, I'm back!

And because I've done very little marketing in the past eight days, I'll just leave this here...

Find the book in all these places:

Amazon // Barnes & Noble // Book Depository // Kobo // iBooks // Nook

And add to your TBR list: Goodreads

Friday, 1 July 2016

Blog Tour: Day 15, finishing with Christine

It's been three weeks, ladies and gents, fifteen blog posts and countless comments, (plus three hot chocolate dates with friends and family - including one today!- and a completed round of edits for my WIP) and I've finally reached the end of my tour. Thank you all so much for sticking with me. I've enjoyed every second.

Huge thanks go out to the fifteen bloggers who made the tour a success with their fascinating and thought-provoking questions.

I'm heading to Christine Rain's blog today to discuss the most important element of a short story.

I'll leave you with one final picture of Artoo, and my leg - this is the view I had for most of the England v Wales game (the game we won during our Euro campaign) when he couldn't understand why I was watching telly instead of taking him for a walk.