Saturday, 27 August 2011

Tasting the Grass

I'm taking down the story that was published here, because I hope to include it in a collection of short stories.

I am not deleting the post entirely because I had some lovely comments that I selfishly want to keep.

Apologies if this isn't the post you were expecting.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Things that scare me...

Are books dead, and can authors survive? - Guardian 22/8/11

This scares me. It scared me on the 4th October 2010, when I wrote about something similar, and actually I haven't really got anything new to add. But the above article did remind me how much I hate the idea.

Thinking back to the way there has been so much uproar over libraries closing, the majority of people feel the same way as me. You don't need a building to house ebooks; therefore, if you want the building, you want the books that are inside them.

When I was younger, imagining my life (in a freezing attic, wearing fingerless gloves) as a writer, I never pictured myself uploading files to a computer. I imagined opening a big box full of first editions. I imagined hardbacked books, with crisp white paper, with a beautifully illustrated front cover. (Do front covers exist in ebook format?) I imagined being able to give my friends and family complimentary, signed copies. (How do you sign an ebook?)

I have not yet had any form of book published. The longer it takes, the less likely my mother will ever get that signed copy - unless something drastic happens.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

Once again, I'm reviewing - loosely - a book that's been around for a while. Since 1983, in this case. I'm currently writing a ghostly short story, so I think I was drawn to this book because of that. The actual ghostly occurrences in The Woman in Black are few and far between (I think there are probably more in my short story - perhaps I've overdone it), but it's a great example of building atmosphere and tension. I read it in one sitting, because I couldn't bear to put it down.

Although it was published in 1983, the setting is much earlier, and the style even earlier than that. It works because the roundabout style sucks you in, so you're slap bang in the middle before you even realise it, much like - I assume - if you were actually being haunted. The comparison I want to use is on the tip of my tongue, but I can't remember (I've just scanned my book shelves, and it still won't come).

Anyway, moving on...

My own story is also quite a traditional ghost story, albeit told by the point of view of the ghost. I don't know how that happened, sometimes the voice is fully formed before I work out how to convey it. Now that I've read The Woman in Black I'm re-reading what I've already done, just to make sure I'm pacing the action correctly rather than holding back too much, or dropping everything onto the page at once.

Sometimes, I really feel as though I've left trying to get my work published far too late. Sometimes I have the idea that I'm just a little, tiny, weeny bit .... ssshhh .... old-fashioned...

Sunday, 14 August 2011

... and also my Year 7 English teacher and my cat!

Aw shucks! I just got over the thrill of being awarded the Liebster award when my friend and fellow blogger Amy at Stuff and Nonsense, who I awarded with a Liebster award on Saturday, awarded me a Stylish Blogger Award.

The premise of this award is that to accept it, I must tell you ten things about myself that you don't already know, and then nominate further bloggers. Ummmmm..... As I'm quite an open person, so I'm not sure all of these revelations will come as any kind of surprise, but I'll do my best:

1) I'm somewhat superstitious, but not in the normal ways. I never kiss anyone over a threshold, I have to be on the same side of the door, and if I go out but have to return to the house - forgotten keys, umbrella etc - I have to sit down for the count of 10. Admittedly I don't walk under ladders, but that's not for superstitious purposes, I'm just so clumsy I'm afraid I'll bump into it and cause havoc.

2) I fully expect one day to be walking down the road and for a full Grease finale-style song-and-dance routine to spring up around me. The rise of iPods has gone some way to making me even more hopeful.

3) The first single I bought was Chesney Hawkes' I am the one and only.

4) My first crush was David Essex.

5) My second published short story was basically a sex scene with a bit of plot tacked on the beginning and end. I was 19. My mum read it, said it was good, then wrapped it in cling film. She did the same to a Beatrix Potter book. I'm still not sure what this says about me, my mum or Beatrix Potter.

6) I am proud to say I have never watched a single episode of Sex and the City, nor either of the films.

7) I haven't eaten any chocolate for two - possibly three - days, which is a minor miracle for me. And now I've realised, guess what I'm thinking about?

8) I cannot sing a single note in tune, but that doesn't stop me singing in the car while my singer husband drives. I think he's learnt how to tune me out now.

9) Everything else I could write here is too embarrassing, so I'm going to stop here and leave you wondering!

And now, it's time to nominate my bloggers (which will be different to the last selection, of course):

Rebecca Bradley at Life in Clarity for always having a friendly word to say, being positive, finding time to comment on blog posts, and therefore showing me how to be a great blogger.

Sally at Quiller's Place - View From the Shed for organising the MYWYN challange and being incredibly supportive and encouraging to new bloggers and writers.

Sarah at Empty White Pages especially nominated for her dedication to her current series of literary musical references.


Saturday, 13 August 2011

I'd like to thank my mother, my husband and my teddy bear...

Rebecca at Life in Clarity has given me and my blog a 'Liebster' award, which I'm so excited about. When I'm sat here babbling away, I never know how many people will ever read it. To know someone thinks my blog is great, and great enough for an award, is lovely and warming. Rebecca's blog is also a great one, which I love reading, so check her out too.

Here are the rules of the award:

The Liebster Award (meaning “friend” in German) is meant to connect us even more and spotlight new bloggers who have less than 200 followers – but hopefully not for long. The rules are:

1. Show your thanks to the blogger who gave you the award by linking back to them.
2. Reveal your top 5 picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
3. Post the award on your blog.
4. Bask in the love from the most supportive people on the Internet – other writers.
5. And best of all – have fun and spread the karma!

Here are my choices:

Jen Campbell at This is not the six word novel who probably has far more than 200 followers now on account that she writes, within her blog, a very successful list of 'Weird thing people say in bookshops'. She works in a shop and people say weird things to her.

Amy Cockram at Stuff and Nonsense who uses her blog to review books in a very warm and witty way. We studied A-Level English together, although she remembers so much more than me!

Maria Perry Mohan at Gaelikaa's Diary has a wonderful way with words. She is part of a group of bloggers who choose a weekly topic to write about. As a result, her blog is varied and interesting.

Valerie O'Riordan at Not Exactly True who won the 2010 Bristol Short Story Prize.

Linda K at Excuse Me While I Note That Down who started her blog in May and notes all the ups and downs of writing - rejections and good ideas all in the same post!

Monday, 8 August 2011

Handing over my baby

Tomorrow I will be handing my novel in progress over to my lovely reader. (But don't let flattery sway you, Helen!)

I know this is important, especially with a novel. So far, from the very first germ of the idea around the middle of February, it's taken me six months to get to this stage (which is actually the shortest time I've ever taken to write anything over 10,000 words, so I'm quietly impressed with myself). Because a novel is a huge investment of time and energy - there are so many drafts and read-throughs still to complete - I need a reader to make sure I'm on the right track.

I know this is important, but I hate it. And I have no idea why. It really is like passing your precious new-born baby to a friend. You know he's in safe hands, but you're edgy until he's back in your arms.

To distract myself, I've given myself an impossible deadline to have a collection of stories ready to submit for a competition at the beginning of September. I thought they were pretty much complete, but now I've decided to rewrite the majority of them. There might not be a lot of blogging going on for a couple of weeks - instead I'll be battling inner demons, talking to ghosts and committing the odd - literary - murder!