Monday, 12 December 2011

Query letters

The only thundercloud that masks the sunshine and light of writing a novel is the bit when you actually begin to make marks on the page. The conclusion may therefore be drawn that the sunshine and light part is the thinking about writing a novel - the research and sketching of a tetchy skeleton idea. The rest of it sends your stomach into plunging knots, your hopes on a roller-coaster ride, and your clutching, grasping fingers to the nearest biscuit barrel, or coffee-jar. Or alcoholic beverage.

Yes, I’m writing a query letter. (Again, she whispers. The other one didn’t count.)

Now, my problem is this: I had a query letter. The two paragraphs in it that described my novel worked really well. They won a prize. People liked it. Everything in query letter world was massively happy. Apart from...

... the novel rewrite has meant my paragraphs are redundant. They are now ex-paragraphs. Oh, they work at a push, and I’m sure if agent folk read them and thought hm! (in a happy hm! sort of way) that they would then go on to read the synopsis and chapters and probably think even more happy hm! type thoughts. But they might not. They might instead think 'why doesn’t that synopsis quite match the query letter?' Most terrifyingly they might think 'do I want to work with an author that doesn’t spot her query and novel don’t quite match?' My inner editor is cringing as it knows I should rewrite the golden paragraphs to make them fit. But I don’t wanna! I just don’t. I’d rather lick the road. (In fact, we have been through this horror list before.)

Even worse than rewriting those two paragraphs is re-doing the paragraph writing about me. Me on me – now you’d think, surely, that I could do that one, and be convincing about it. If anyone knows me, it’d be...well... me. But because query letters are so butt-achingly important my fingers seem to jam up on the keyboard. Remember the glorious mess you could get into with typewriters when you banged all the keys at once and everything jammed? Yes, exactly that. I feel like I am constantly reaching for mental Tippex (and the delete button).

The annoying thing is I know I can do this. I know that agents will like to work with me, if we ever get that far. But until I can un-jam my fingers it’s just not going to happen. I did hear a rumour that cupcakes do wonders for unjamming, so am off to find a few at lunch-time to eat after dinner and then we’ll see what happens. But since the next chance I’ll have to think about query letters, novel, and my life in general is a whole eight hours away (yay, full-time work, she says weakly) then perhaps a miracle will happen in-between times and it'll work itself out. Or, maybe and more likely, this evening I’ll sit at the computer with my brain lolling in my lap and only have the nodes connected enough to think ‘must find 80s music on YouTube’. Sadly, that is how some evenings roll. It is too early as yet to tell which way this Monday will jump.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Toys from 1976

An artist has uploaded the entire contents of an Argos catalogue from 1976. Let’s explore the toys...and prices!

Electric Washer and Cash Register

I love the description of this cash register: ‘Decimal currency price flags raised by 13 button control.’

Thirteen button control!  My friend had one of these. It was great fun pushing those thirteen buttons, I seem to recall. What a shame it didn't come with real money.

I am gutted I didn’t have the washing machine. I could have played The Game of the Missing Sock and Who Dyed My White Shirt Red?

 
Toy Electric Washer. Tumble washes and spins. Operated by batteries. £3.45
Cash Register. Spring release drawer and paper reel. £2.75


Scooter and Bike

This was my scooter. There were no brakes. You just held on for dear life when going down a slope – in fact, I don’t think its wheels could cope with slopes. I seem to remember I always fell off, usually because I was attempting An Ill-Advised Stunt.

I may have also had this bike, which is described as a ‘Pony’ Pavement Cycle. Pony is British slang for rubbish... but I liked my bike! It was certainly not rubbish. It got me from A (the school driveway) to B (the alley behind my house) by way of C (the brook). ‘C’ wasn’t meant to happen. I was cycling down a slope which led to the brook and wondered what would happen if I cycled with my eyes shut. The result of my experiment was my 8-year old self went straight into the brook, and then the bike fell on my head.

Bantel 3-wheel scooter. £4.25
'Pony' Pavement Cycle. Detachable stabilizers. Front wheel cable brake. £17.95


Kojak board game

I didn’t have the Kojak game with its ‘Beretta’ type plastic gun. (Yikes!) Nor did my brother, which was probably a good thing as I just know those sucker darts would not have been aimed at that board.

Chad Valley 'Kojak' Target Game. 'Beretta' type plastic gun and sucker darts. £1.99







Tiny Tears doll
I did have Tiny Tears, the doll that wouldn’t stop weeing. You fed the doll water and then it would drip out of the other end, so to speak. Everywhere you put the doll would be damp. If only I had the washing machine toy. Missed opportunity there, mum.

Casdon 'Bernie and Bath' set. Soft vinyl doll with rooted hair and accessories. £2.99
Palitoy 'Tiny Tears' Baby Doll. Drinks, cries and wets her nappy. £4.75 


The entire catalogue can be found by following this link

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Kindle glee

Oh happy days! I have won a kindle. Picture me grinning ear-to-ear like a Cheshire Cat in a cardigan.

The lovely (and amazingly generous!) author DJ Kirkby was having a competition on her blog to win a kindle. Blimey, I thought, I’ll have a pop at that. (Translation: I’ll enter that swiftly, fine fellows.)

You could have knocked me down with a well-washed pigeon feather when DJ sent me a message via Twitter to let me know I had won. Seriously?! I tweeted back, just before I sailed underground on the good ship Victoria (line). Everything was delayed so I then spent an hour without signal wondering whether I’d imagined it. But no! Up I popped into signal-land and DJ confirmed it was real. WHOOOP!

Well. Isn’t that just the best Christmas present before Christmas ever? I am chuffed to mega bits. (Translation: One is rather happy.) In fact I have been doing virtual star jumps ever since.

So I’d like to say thank you, DJ Kirkby, for being so wonderful and thank you to the Random Generator Thing, which selected my name, and thank you to the authors Rebecca Emin, Stephanie Parker, and Kevin Mahoney, who have donated free copies of their novels to add to the kindle. I am really looking forward to reading your books.


Some links for you

DJ Kirkby - if she isn't there already, add this lady to your blog roll / Twitter right now! She is inspiring (she gets up very early to write before her day job); her blog posts range from thoughtful and informative to downright fun, and she is a lovely person as well. Her first novel is Without Alice - insightful, thought-provoking, and very moving. My signed copy is already on my book shelf!

Rebecca Emin -  at the moment Rebecca has a series on her blog about her self-publishing adventures - very interesting and helpful to all authors. Her first novel is New Beginnings.

Stephanie Parker - I'm new to Stephanie's blog but am looking forward to getting better acquainted! Her debut book is called The Green King.

Kevin Mahoney - his first novel is called A Fame of Two Halves. Joanne Harris, author of Chocolat, is quoted as saying: "A tremendous first novel - wry, funny and clever. I hope it's the first of many." Sounds good!

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

I want to live in John Lewis

I scuttled into the large department store John Lewis after work last night. Well, when I say ‘scuttle’, I was bounced along the Metropolitan line, ejected at Baker Street, squooshed down towards the Bakerloo line, trundled on the tube, and then splashed out as part of a giant wave of people at Oxford Street, straight into another giant wave of people trying to rush back down into the station.

After a bit of confused ebbing and flowing I finally escaped into the shop. There is something about department stores that picks me up and cuddles me in rich soft duvets. I waft around pretending I can afford this and that, and look at things like fabric for my imaginary house. Within the store’s well-lit walls anything can be possible, and I’ve decided I want to live there.

I didn’t make this decision lightly. There are four department stores worthy of consideration within a walk of Oxford Circus. These are Debenhams, Selfridges, John Lewis and Liberty’s.

If Lived in Debenhams

I wouldn’t be able to resist the makeup and beauty department. I’d sparkle with glitter gloss and super shine. I’d have huge false eyelashes and would swan around in tons of reasonably priced bling. In fact, I’d bling and shine so much that I’d cause the national grid to do a Matrix like surge of power and cut all the lights in the west end. It’s probably not a wise move to let me live in Debenhams.

If I lived in Selfridges

I’d be no good at living in Selfridges. I’d be too tempted to clear all the stock out and just sell fridges. I’d employ traders with plenty of chat to sell them as if they’re flogging a job lot down Hackney Market, and every buyer would get a yellow Selfridges bag with spare fridge parts and egg racks. And then when all the fridges had gone I'd rename the store 'Sodfridges' and sell flowers instead.

If I lived in John Lewis

I would write novels about the hunt for the perfect kitchen utensil in the style of Moby Dick - 'Chief among these motives was the overwhelming idea of the great whisk itself.'  You can picture its majesty I'm sure. It would be a publishing sensation, and while I was writing, I'd be an elegant addition (perhaps) to the sofas. I’d even be willing to point people in the right direction if they were lost and needing new moleskine notebooks. I’d create fabulous artwork out of the contents of the haberdashery department, and cry tears of joy to be John Lewis’ new Barbara Hepworth with buttons.

If I lived in Liberty’s

If I lived in Liberty’s I’m afraid it would go straight to my head. I’d hole up in the Grand Scarf Hall and the next time you see me I will be doing the dance of the seven sheer silk and bloody expensive veils. I might bolt the doors to shoppers and stalk the store in various velvet cloaks, gloating at my incredible fortune. People will look up at the candle-lit windows to watch me waltz past, occasionally reappearing on a different floor in a new hat. I’d throw petals down into the street, yell ‘ahoy’ in honour of Liberty’s sea-faring connection, and cause debate in the House of Commons about whether I’m a wonderfully eccentric tourist attraction or just a ruddy nuisance. I feel my residence may be rather short-lived.

So there you have it. John Lewis it is. Me and my button-sculpturing and Moby Dick parodying skills are poised to move in immediately!

Friday, 11 November 2011

Rewrite Update

What to say
when life gets in the way?
Sometimes there are quiet times
and I retreat off stage
to let another person take centre place
and speak my lines.


Every time I click on my blog I feel horrendously guilty for not being here, tremendously happy to see none of you have gone away, and touchingly thrilled to see more people have joined. I’m sorry for being so quiet of late. The Grand Novel Rewrite alongside the Annoying Three-Hour-a-Day Commute and the Stupidly Busy Full-time Work tipped me screaming over the edge.

I’m back now, though. Imagine me striding from the jungle with the novel in a knap-sack, the triumphant tune from Indiana Jones playing in the background.

Some of you asked why I decided to do the rewrite. The easiest explanation is that I felt ‘something’ wasn’t right, but at the same time had a total belief in the actual story. So in July I pieced together feedback and advice, considered what would happen to the plot if I made some drastic changes, and decided that it would work rather nicely. So August was spent writing a whole new beginning, and then September and October I worked through the rest of novel, finally finishing up just before Halloween.

Auspicious, maybe? Bwahahaha.

After that I was completely knackered! I needed to resettle myself in the world, spend time with friends, tidy up, and just breathe. The new-look novel needed to breathe as well. So it’s been in a metaphorical drawer for the last two weeks but this weekend it’ll come out and I’ll work on it anew. Looking forward to it! The synopsis is mainly done too, so now all that is left is a fresh look at my query letter, and then away she goes. I’m pondering the wisdom of querying so close to Christmas but it all goes into a pile to be read eventually, and I don’t think my manuscript will be mistaken for a mince pie, so I’m sure all will be fine.

However, I did have one last little burst of creativity at the end of October – I managed to enter the National Poetry Contest by the skin of my teeth. (Eugh – I’ve always hated that saying. Whose monstrous teeth have skin?!) I’ve always loved poetry – writing, reading, listening, speaking – but it’s the first time I’ve sent a poem away anywhere. It’s new ground for me in the way the poem is put together but that’s the whole point of poetry – reaching and stretching to see where words can go. The contest shortlist / winners will be announced in spring 2012. Oh so long to wait!

Monday, 31 October 2011

Halloween

It is time to hunker down and embrace the dark half of the year. Happy Samhain everyone!

Drink from Goblets of Cheery Doom

Eat devilish fairy cakes
Carve a wicked Jack
I am so glad my Art degree hasn't gone to waste! Did you dress up or do anything special for Halloween?

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Synopsis secrets

You may have guessed from my last post that I find conjuring a good synopsis out of blank paper rather tricky. But, now the painful part is over and I have finished howling at the moon, I thought I’d share some secrets that worked for me.

(When I say worked, only time will tell of course.)

  1. Make a list of yucky things that seem preferable to writing a synopsis. Decide that writing a synopsis is infinitely better than, say, licking cat vomit.
  2. Read each chapter of your novel and write one paragraph describing the main events. I did this in long-hand and came up with three or four pages of scribble. (Scribble being my default best handwriting.)
  3. Type this up and edit where necessary.
  4. Read it over. Does your synopsis mention:
    - Main characters (only the protagonists that move the story forward are needed)
    - Setting, including year
    - Main plot and sub-plot
    - The ending (very important. Don’t be coy!)
  5. Take out anything superfluous  - think plot; think the simplest terms for someone else to understand that plot
  6. Make sure the synopsis tone of voice reflects the novel tone of voice
  7. Edit, edit, edit! Edit until you’re sick! Edit some more!
  8. Read it aloud. Tweak if needed.
  9. And breathe...
As for practicalities – unless the agency / publisher you are submitting to have specific guidelines (and most do), I use Times New Roman, point size 11, single-spaced typing. I might increase the font size to 12 when actually sending it out - cheers Giles! (see comments). I wouldn’t go over two pages, perhaps three at a push. Think of it as a CV – everyone has a CV but most companies don’t want you to send it in as they have their own forms. So say some agencies want a one-page synopsis - if you have something you are happy with you'll be able to prune it to what's needed.

And the best thing about writing a synopsis?

It really, really helps your novel. At least, it did for me. I started working on my synopsis earlier this year, and it identified a problem with my novel. Each time I began the synopsis I started it at a certain point - but this wasn't the point where my novel started. This discrepancy revealed a lurking fear that I'd started my novel in the wrong place - buried the poor thing in back story - and finally this set me on the path of the gigantic rewrite.

So, if things work out, I'll have to shake that synopsis by the hand and buy it a drink. It probably won't stop me writing lists about awful things I'd rather do than write one, but at least now I understand. A synopsis is your novel's best friend.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Things I would rather do than write a synopsis

1.      Lick cat vomit
2.      Drink a roadside puddle
3.      Eat whatever’s lurking at the back of the office fridge
4.      Ride a rail replacement bus through London at the weekend holding a bag of thawing fish
5.      Write a 20-page report on the varying nuances of beige, complete with chemistry compound tied in to theories of depression
6.      Get pooped on by a pigeon with chronic diarrhoea
7.      Wear pale trousers, sit on chocolate, and walk around all day oblivious of suspicious stain
8.      De-clog a railway station toilet with my bare hands
9.      Root around scary storage centres on my own at night for obscure pieces of stage equipment
10.  Watch daytime chat show programmes on a continual loop until my mind bleeds out of my nose
11.  Sit a three-hour exam on Advanced Maths
12.  Enter the Guinness World Record cracker eating contest
13.  Drop and smash a priceless antique in a shop with a sign that says ‘Nice to see, Lovely to hold, If you break it, Consider it sold’
14.  Sew my fingers together and then pull the thread out very, very slowly
15.  Go mud larking in bare feet along the Thames in central London
16.  Ask the most gorgeous man in the world on a date
17.  Walk around all day in towering heels
18.  Go for colonic irrigation
19.  Wear butt-skimming hot-pants to a work conference
20.  Eat a raw onion as if it’s an apple

I have done #9, #14 and #17. As for #16... maybe one day.  *grins*

Just to clarify  #14. It was a textiles lesson at school. I was thirteen and bored. We were supposed to be sewing something dull and one of the boys instead sewed the thread through the pads of his fingers and was trying to gross us out. He dared one of us to do it. I took him up on the challenge and realised it didn't really hurt if you used shallow stitches; it just looked awful and freaked out the teacher. Then to get the thread out you pulled it slowly from one side, trying not to break the skin - and this felt really weird and icky. It wasn't a clever thing to do as it can make your fingers very sore, so please don't try it! Not that you would, of course. You have brains.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Quelle horreur!

So. As you know (or if you are new here - hello! Take a seat! I'm about to start flailing!) I am on a mission with the rewrite of the novel. A complete and utter mission. This little puppy has to be done and dusted by the end of October or my name's not Jayne Ferst. (Ah. Bad example.)

There are a lot of changes to make.

1. Main character is forty years younger.
2. This means the setting (for a bit) is now 1962 instead of 2002.
3. It's now first person narration, instead of third person.
4. It's present tense intead of past.

So there's a lot to do, but whereas I thought the rewrite would be like lifting up the rug of my Word document and gently flapping it, watching it settle down and glow with magic and promise, instead I notice the rotten rug is sewn together with 'suddenly' and 'just' and 'quite'. Also what is with my characters 'looking' everywhere, all the time? They look up, they look down, they look all-a-sodding-round. I've also noticed they constantly bite their lips.

My poor characters - I've inadvertantly given them neck-ache and an addiction to lip balm.

So the rewrite is keeping me very busy indeed and apologies for not blogging as much or getting around to visit as many blogs as I would like (although if you comment I will pop by at some point). Here, have a picture of some autumn leaves:

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Lines Thought beneath an Elm at Lunchtime on the way back to the Office of Harrow


Spot of my thirties! whose wistful ambition sighs
Swept by the breeze that fans thy cloudless sky
Where now alone I muse, who oft have trod
The path of these thoughts before, as I plod
Like those who, scatter'd far, perchance deplore,
The time they spent in full-time jobs before:
Oh! That glorious day! An author I'll be
Mine eyes admire books, my heart adores thee
Thou glorious words! Within you I lay
And frequent scribble'd procrastination away;
Where, as it once were wont, to the sock drawer I'd stumble
And tidy and pair and sort and grumble
How do thy stories, alive underneath my fingers
Invite me to remember and smile and linger
And seem to whisper, gently and sincere
"Your time will come, keep going, persevere!"


Author: Jayne and Lord Byron
Real poem can be found here

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

As the world falls down

Caught in a trap
I can’t walk out
Because I worry too much, baby


It’s agonising when decisions feel too hard to make. The result is paralysis – you neither move forward nor back. Everything feels so heavy – giant boulders that only I can balance and all my attention is on them so I miss seeing the flowers around the edges. Sometimes I look away and the world sparkles but dem boulders are just so big, they demand dominance.

Depression is an awful thing. The problem is it doesn’t allow for any perspective – thoughts fracture and scurry around in tiny circles. There are no solutions in that darkness; it’s very claustrophobic. There's a feeling of separation from others, like living in a bubble - the partition is there but no one else can see it.

I can only write about it when it’s not with me (although if you are prone to depression it never exactly goes away – it circles your perimeter fence and waits for an unwary sentry). But I still can’t make any decisions – and I really need to, soon, at any rate. I’ve sequestered myself away for too long and need to start living a life again.

I had some time out recently – I had the house to myself and booked time off the day job to enjoy the peace and quiet in the hope that it would be productive. It took a little while to change the swing of my thoughts from day job to writing, but once I was in the zone, so to speak, it was fantastic. I was up at 6am each day and tapping furiously on the keyboard. The rewrite didn’t know what hit it. I forged ahead and fell in love with words again – that magic moment when the writing wheels seem to turn on their own. At the end of each day I looked back and thought gosh! I did that! I wrote that! It was a feeling that had been a long time missing.

I’m back at work now and still have that time-off energy – I can feel it as I make lists of work things to do, hum a tune on the way to the office kitchen, catch up with colleagues. It is prompting me to chip little bits off those boulders, to tackle small decisions that are easier to digest. It calls my attention to everything I love about autumn and tells me that the world is wonderful and good things are ahead for me. Maybe all I needed was a little break, after all.


Image from the film poster for Labyrinth; title also from the film

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

If I could be anyone I'd be...


Belle loves books and lives in a little town where everyone sings in tune. She is independent and confident enough to rebuff the charms of the local lothario. She takes control of the situations she finds herself in and actively seeks a solution. Belle is kind and thinks always of others, with a smile for everyone. She sees beyond superficial appearances and is calm in the face of tragedy. She falls in love with a person's mind, and it just happens to be a bonus that he is really a handsome Prince with a castle and a fantastic library.

Belle is definitely the person I'd like to be!


Today's post is in honour of it being the actual launch day of the lovely Talli Roland's new book, Watching Willow Watts.

In the novel, Willow becomes Marilyn Monroe, and Talli invited everyone to share who they would be if they could be anyone! Hence Belle. :)

I have had the privilege of reading a preview copy of Watching Willow Watts and it is very funny, very readable, and a lovely story. As you can guess from the title, Talli has a great eye for playful language and rhythm, and there are some cracking names throughout the book. Willow is a very likeable character - you are rooting for her from the start - and I won't spoil what happens but really enjoyed the story.

Want to read it yourself? Excellent! You can go to Amazon UK and Amazon.com to get a copy for your kindle or e-reader. The paperback launch is coming up in November.

Fancy joining in the fun? Fab! Write a blog post titled 'If I could be anyone, I'd be...' and let Talli know so she can add you to this list. Then pop about and visit some new people - and hopefully they'll pay you a visit back again!

Talli's blog: talliroland.blogspot.com

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Distracted

1.    Hooray! Time to write.
2.    I’ll just make a coffee
3.    I’ll just check Twitter
4.    And Blogger
5.    Ooo that looks interesting – I’ll read that link
6.    I’ll comment. Best sign in
7.    Now I’m in I’ll visit some other blogs and comment
8.    I’ll update my own blog while I’m here
9.    Best update Twitter
10.    Have I checked my email?
11.    Ah. Just got to reply to that one. And that other one.
12.    Best check my work email just in case
13.    Hooray! Now I can start writing
14.    I’ll just go and make another coffee
15.    I really fancy listening to some music
16.    Love that video. Oh, I remember that song
17.    What are the lyrics to that song?
18.    I really need to sing along to this
19.    Found them! Let’s play and sing.
20.    I can sing a different song SO much better
21.    Found other song. Sing that instead
22.    Where are the cats?
23.    I’m hungry
24.    I really need to eat something sweet
25.    Biscuits are marvellous
26.    Where is my notebook?
27.    My notebook was under that really interesting book
28.    Might just read that page
29.    Will google that author and see what else they have written
30.    Will buy that on Amazon
31.    Where is my credit card?
32.    Marvellous. Oh, I might buy that DVD as well.
33.    Must back away from Amazon.
34.    I really need to write something
35.    I’m cold – need to find a jumper
36.    Hooray! I’m at my desk
37.    Where are my glasses?
38.    Wonder if I’ve had an interesting email yet?
39.    Wonder if the postman has been?
40.    Seriously, where are the cats?
41.    I’ll just go and make a cup of tea
42.    Wonder if anyone has commented on my blog?
43.    What can I see outside the window?
44.    I need to water that plant
45.    Who eats the pens in this house?
46.    Oh – the tumble dryer is beeping
47.    Might just cuddle the cats for a bit
48.    A snooze might help my creativity
49.    Is it time for lunch?
50.    I love days at home writing

Friday, 9 September 2011

Happiness

Sometimes I get confused and think happiness is all about the big chunks – the large events, the all-singing and all-dancing milestones. A conversation with a friend last night made me think again. 


Happiness is also found in the quiet hours – contemplating the flowers in the garden, watching the cats at play, hearing the raindrops patter on the roof and knowing you are cosy inside. I get so focused on the big picture that I forget all the little pictures that are part of me. So here are some little things recently that have made me happy…

  • The two girls I sit with at work also have creative ambitions outside of the day job – one is an actress and the other a singer – so we share each-other’s triumphs and root for each-other to succeed, which is rather lovely. And chocolate mini rolls were given out at tea-time in honour of my upcoming birthday (sh!).
  • Throwing myself into weird shapes at Zumba aerobics class and being pleasantly surprised at my fitness level. I still have one! I thought we'd have to send in Time Team to excavate it.
  • Last week at Jitterbugs (lindy hop dance club) I had a great time dancing and remembered my lindy turn, swing out and circle. We styled out our own moves and had tons of fun. It was also nice that so many people came up to say hello to me, considering I hadn't been for ages.
  • The line ‘touched down in the land of the delta blues in the middle of the pouring rain’ in the song 'Walking in Memphis'. Also the sax in Gerry Rafferty’s 'Baker Street'.
  • Far-flung friends remembering my upcoming birthday (sh!) and looking forward to celebrating next week by combining a love for hidden history, London, cupcakes, cycling, walking, fab food, and possibly a glass of wine (or two).
  • Having time off the day job to hopefully do tons of writing!
  • Wearing my ‘Knights of Good’ T-shirt. Do you watch The Guild? If so you will know what I mean. 
  • Watching Hi-de-Hi. This was a BBC sitcom that ran in the 1980s and was filmed in a real holiday camp during the off-season. My family used to go there on holiday so I love watching the show (which is very funny) and recognising the situations and surroundings.
  • Meeting up with a good friend for dinner - we laughed and swapped thoughts over white chocolate and raspberry ripple swirl cheesecake. Yes, I did savour typing that sentence! (As well as the eating. Mmm.)
  • The instagram photography app. Beautiful filters that just make every single photograph stunning. As used on this post!
  • Being able to jump in my car and drive... (drive, drive, drive... *sings Rihanna*)
  • A cuddle with my cats. Cuddling Ginger is like holding a purring warm furry sunbeam. Cuddling Abigail is like holding a curious little fur-baby.  You can probably guess which one is which!

What little things have made you happy recently?

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Words

Do you remember vocabulary books? These were slim exercise books given out at school in which we would write new words. I only recall them for a brief period of time; perhaps they were superseded by changes in curriculum and chaotic lessons. But I rather liked them, so I have decided to resurrect the idea.

Every time I discover a new word it gets recorded in my notebook. I have a guess what I think the words means and then look it up later when I get a chance. Here are a selection for your amusement!

Word: Lexical
I think: Correct terminology
Actual meaning: A dictionary term or definition
How close was I? Not bad

Word: Inchoate
I think: Incoherent
Actual meaning: Just begun, not fully formed, rudimentary
How close was I? Not even vaguely! Although I can see my thought pattern – same word family, right? (Wrong!)

Word: Coterie
I think: Group
Actual meaning: Small group with shared interests, exclusive to others
How close was I? Spot on

Word: Amanuensis
I think: Some sort of teacher
Actual meaning: Performing a function by hand, i.e. writing down the words of another. In Latin a  manual labourer / secretary
How close was I? Way out

Word: Simony
I think: Traitor or treachery
Actual meaning: Paying for a position within church, trafficking for money within spiritual things
How close was I? Close but no biscuit

I love discovering new words and am always rather thrilled when I am reading and a word leaps out that I've never seen before. I like reading around it, trying to guess, seeing if there are any clues. Sometimes these guesses can put an interesting slant on sentences, one the author had not foreseen. Hence the notebook!

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Flurry of Things

That sounds like a title that should be used by speech therapists. However, a thlurry of fings have been happening on the writing-front, despite August hitting me with a slumber stick. Here is a mini round-up:

1. I attended a brilliant short story workshop in Northampton run by the writer Helen Hunt. It was called Insight to the Women’s Magazine Fiction Market – and she delivered a cracking workshop, packed full of information, as well as lunch! Met some lovely people and chatted about writing all day. Sadly I have no time at present to get going on ideas for that field but at least now I know more for when I do!
Find out about Helen's next workshop on her blog: fictionisstrangerthanfact.blogspot.com

2. I submitted some blog posts to the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook website and three have gone online all at once! This is amazingly exciting for me – if you have time, please do pop over and leave me a comment – it would be wonderful to hear from you. Swing by and find out about:
- My thoughts on Page Fright – be gone,Writer's Block!
- What it felt like to do to work experience later in life - Gaining Writing Experience
- What I think about the big R – Rejection (it may be an evil blighter, but there are lessons to learn.)
Hope you like them!

3. I am rewriting my novel. This is both hugely exciting and deadly, excruciatingly, terrifying. I’m feeling quite energised about it at the moment though, so am back to writing as much as I can around the full-time job, and utilising lunch-times and saved holiday allowance.
I have a whole six days off soon to write - whoop!

4. I bought Nicola Morgan’s book 'Write to be Published' and highly recommend it. If you have Nicola's book, Stephen King’s 'On Writing', and literary agent Carole Blake's 'From Pitch to Publication' on your bookshelf then I don't think you can go too far wrong. I also went to Nicola's book launch at Foyle’s in Charing Cross, met up with fab friends made via this blog, and even won a Crabbit bag. I am chuffed.
Find out more about Nicola Morgan, and her books, via her blog: helpineedapublisher.blogspot.com

5. I have started the OCD social media checking regarding any news on certain short story competitions. I can’t say which competitions as I fear a giant Jinx will smash down from on-high with its hairy foot. Both competitions do not even announce their shortlist until October. I am, ooo, about thirty days way too early.
Perhaps I have OCOD (obsessive compulsive online disorder).

6. I am going to mention Nicola Morgan again and I hope she doesn’t think I am being too gushing, but as well as being a busy fab author lady, she runs a writing consultancy called Pen2Publication. If you are at the stage where you need guidance or direction with your novel / writing, and are ready to accept criticism in order to find out how to be a better writer, then do check out what the consultancy can offer you. I did, and it is probably one of the best things I have ever done for my writing career to date.
Find out more about Pen2Publication here: pen2publication.co.uk

So that’s me in a Technicolor writing nutshell. And now it's time to welcome September with cosy knitted jumpers, warm scarves, glorious colours and crisp fresh air. As well as hiding my birthday, I always feel this is a magical month, full of promise. Good wishes for your own writing!

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Writing, writing, writing – rawhide!

I really should get a cushion for this chair. *winks*

This August I have been doing my best imitation of a pinball. Pow – I spring from my home and shoot towards the other side of London. There I sit staring at the computer puzzling over websites until the buzzers ring and shazam – off I slam back towards home to sit in front of another computer puzzling over my story. My poor eyes hate me. I keep having to squirt them with Moist Eye Stuff. When I become an author (not if, when) I shall revert to a typewriter and tippex. I shall write every morning and garden every afternoon (and drink like a fish every evening.)

If I were an author... a-yadda-yadda-yadda-ya...

In-between all this powing and shazaming I have been watching the signs of approaching autumn. I spotted a conker (horse chestnut) on the floor the other day. The trees are poised to reveal their autumn/winter collection 2011. The morning air is fresh and smells of leaves and earth. The temperature is beginning to dip either end of the day. The dawn is stirring out of bed later, yawning and slightly rumpled. I’m already snuggled in jumpers and striding to work in boots, dreaming of scarves and gloves. I am autumn girl. Hear me roar!

Despite not being at school, my thoughts always turn to stationery. New pencil cases, crisp notebooks, shiny folders. There is something very pleasing about fresh stationery. You shall fill me with wonderful things, it says. You shall not disappoint, it says, and that is where me and It sometimes have a parting of the ways, as I am a scribbler. I’m also a doodler. I still scrawl spirals and flowers and ‘HELP!’ signs in notebooks, although now during Meetings of Officialdom.

Maybe one day I’ll have a minion. I could send my minion to Meetings of Officialdom and I could be elsewhere stomping in puddles instead. It’d be rather nice if my minion liked ironing as well. And cupcake eating. Tuesday shall be declared Cupcake Day for both of us. Gosh, maybe I’d have to get my minion a minion. The life of a benevolent dictator seems so tricky all of a sudden.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Driving Miss Jayne

A while back I got a car. This is my car:


I first took a driving test in 1993. Yikes! My mum crashed her car (with me in it) the previous day. I should have cancelled my test but didn’t, which, considering I’d spent the previous evening in hospital, was really, really stupid. Needless to say I failed (rather miserably) and then I gave up driving as couldn’t afford any more lessons. There was no need, I told myself, cars were expensive, other people drove, my work was easier to get to by trains and tubes.

But I always wanted to be The Jayne That Drives! I could see myself being the Jayne that drives – she zips around in classic cars with picnic baskets in the boot and goes on day trips to the beach. The Jayne that drives is a confident, go-getter sort of person, someone who makes things happen. The Jayne that doesn’t drive isn’t any of these things.

A conversational door closes when you don’t drive. It is hard to join in with talk on cars – petrol, makes, driving, distances. It depends whether you are someone who notices such things, but I am, and while it didn’t bother me at first, slowly I felt the distance lengthen.

Then I became the Jayne That Drives and the distance disappeared as if it was never there. My first foray was to the supermarket and coffee shop – I swung my car keys and bought my take-out coffee and suddenly felt part of something new. It felt good.

So far I have made only short forays, and have grinned with each new accomplishment. I parked in a car park! I found my windscreen-wipers! I put petrol in! I drove the cats to the vet! I made up a very silly driving song! (‘This is the driving song / You can sing along / But you can’t because you’re a cat / And that’s the end of that!’)

Tonight I’m off to see a friend and it will be the longest car journey yet. (Ten whole miles!) I have no sat-nav (or map) so have printed out large text directions to glance at if stuck. Although all will be fine, today has been spent needlessly worrying along the lines of:

1. Being in the wrong lane and ending up on the M25
2. Not being able to get off the M25 and ending up in a giant circle vortex
3. Getting totally lost
4. Breaking down
5. Not being able to change lanes on the A10
6. Changing lanes badly thus causing an accident
7. Not being able to see due to Sweat of Fear
8. Driving back in the dark
9. Missing the turn for A10 and getting stuck on the roundabout
10. Drivers beeping at me and road raging

That’s about it so far. Give me another hour and I’ll prob be able to write ten more!

When did you start driving? Where did you go on your first journey?

Update: Did the journey! All went very well. Yeay!

Friday, 12 August 2011

Greta Garble and the Great Cupcake Incident

I am Greta Garble at the moment. I can’t write! I just can’t. Every sentence I try looks at me as if I’m having a laugh. Read that back to yourself and weep, it says smugly, and when I do I realise I have spent an hour crafting a load of baloney.

If my novel was a pencil-top eraser it would now be worn to a sad sorry little stump. I can’t seem to stop revising and editing. It’s because I have decided to make some hefty changes and the very idea makes me want to howl at the moon. So it’s all an uphill struggle at the moment, but there are some things that make a difference.

1. Even if you only have time to write 200 words a day, that is 200 more than nothing
2. When everything is failing, say to yourself that you will only write to the end of the page. Taking off the pressure sometimes encourages creativity.
3. Remember that writing is what we choose to do and as much as it makes us want to tear our hair out, it’s also kind of lovely as well

Even writing a blog post feels kind of tricksy, like I am expecting it to lay in wait a paragraph down and trip up my fingers. Will I get over this strange feeling? It doesn't help that I have given up chocolate since the Great Cupcake Incident.

'What's that?' you say. 'The great cupcake whatta? Spill.'

Well. It was the other day. I was being Healthy and Good. I decided to go on a three-mile stride, as I rather like walking and thinking and plotting and admiring other people's gardens. I set out... and, despite good intentions, the only real place to walk around my area is away out of the borough towards a nice little tea shop.

I may have mentioned this nice little tea-shop before.

So I got there, Woman's Weekly Fiction Special magazine in hand, pen and notebook ready, determined that I was just going to have a coffee. I was lying to myself at this point as I knew full well I was going to have a chocolate cupcake and in fact all my plotting for the last 15 minutes of my walk had been completely cupcake orientated.

'We're having a sale,' chirruped the nice tea-shop lady. She wasn't a bird by the way. But she did chirrup somewhat. In a minute she'll carroll.

'All cakes half-price!' she carrolled.

Blogger buddies, I don't know what came over me. It was like the red velvet mist descended. Next thing I knew; I walked out of the tea shop with a box.

Yes. A box. A box of cupcakes.

I even did that thing in the shop where I pretended I was buying cakes for the family - 'oh mum will like this one and little brother Toby can have that one...'

(There is no little brother Toby. Toby was, in fact, a teddy-bear.)

Bad Jayne. However, my mum did get a cupcake eventually as even I, sugar fiend extraordinaire, can't eat a whole box of cupcakes.

There is a motto here and it probably should say something like if you are being Good and Healthy, avoid the chirrupy happy tea-shop lady. As for me? I'm now on a diet.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

London

It is heart-breaking to see what is happening in London recently. Be under no illusion that this wanton destruction is about protest; this is about theft. The people doing this don’t want to talk or bargain; they don’t wish to lobby for answers, better employment or less cuts. They just want free trainers. They really don’t care if they burn down a person’s business or home, damage communities or historical buildings, and destroy trust. None of that seems to matter if you can get a free, slightly cracked, plasma TV. They think it’s a game with no consequences.

Sadly, the consequences for a community and London as a whole go much further than an individual person being arrested for their crimes. Shops that once had pretty glass fronts may be tempted to put up ugly metal shutters. Barriers could be raised where once there were none; restrictions might be in place where once movement was free. That’s what they don’t realise, these silly people.

There is pride in being a responsible person in the world. With pride comes respect – respect for yourself and respect for those around you, for the natural world and how amazing it is to be alive. Being kind costs nothing and yet the dividend is priceless – far higher than anything they can steal.

I hope one day these people looting realise this.


PS - This post is opinion only, not an analysis.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

August by the wayside

August is thought to be the high season of holidays but really it is the month of unseen magic. Turn your face to sun! Relax and enjoy! It says. And while we play on the sand and splash in the sea Nature is readying the stage for autumn. Can you spot the magician at work?

I spy with my little eye...











Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Today I’m over there

Just when I was about to Unleash the Gloom, I’ve discovered my next blog post is up on the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook website! In it I talk about OARS (Over-Active Research Syndrome). If you have time do pop over and leave me a comment – be great to hear your thoughts.

Click here to read about Over-Active Research Syndrome/

As for the Gloom… oh dear. There are a few reasons for the Gloom, mainly circling around living arrangements that need to be better arranged, not winning the lottery (which would greatly help the first reason), commuting in hot weather and general work / life balance doing its best Jedi mind trick - ‘There is no balance. Move along.’

But it’s cool (well, apart from if you are a commuter. Then it’s freakin’ hot.) I just have to keep focused on The Grand Plan. There is a new Grand Plan, y’see, and this one supersedes the other grand plan, which turned out not to be as grand as once thought. This new one rocks socks, it really does.

And because I have just heard from the vet that my Ginger boy is recovering nicely after having some dental work done, here’s a picture of him enjoying the sunshine.



Ps. Have changed my blog template slightly in the hope that it will sort out the annoying backlink problem. Here's hoping!

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Apologies about Backlinks

It seems that my blog posts are popping up a gadzillion times on other people’s blogs, under their posts. I have no idea why this is happening, and have asked Blogger HQ to look into it.

The only thing I think it ‘could’ relate to is that I follow a lot of blogs via the Blog List widget, which refreshes when people publish a new post on their blog. This blog list is in the frame of the template I use for my blog, so appears on every individual post page, and this seems to be what is throwing up tons of misleading ‘backlinks’ on blogs. But I’m not the only person to use the Blog List widget, so have no idea why it is just my blog that is showing up under ‘Links to this post’’. Why me?!

I have checked the settings of this blog and nowhere does it say ‘tick here for creating numerous annoying backlinks’.

As far as I can see, backlinks obviously don’t work the way they should, and I deselect them on here for that reason. They should only show actual links relevant to the post i.e. when someone had read a fab post, gone back to their blog, created a post about that person’s fab post, and published it saying ‘go read this person’s fabulous post!’ They should not be picking up everyone who links / follows a blog.

Is anyone else having this problem?

So until Blogger fixes it, I can only apologise. It is awfully embarrassing, but probably not as embarrassing as yesterday when I only realised in the evening that the zip on my dress was undone, which meant all day I was wandering around work flashing my underwear. Nice.

PS. While waiting for a reply from Blogger, I have decided to delete my Blog List and create a new one in the hope that the problem resolves itself!

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Identity Crisis

M’problem, m’Lord, is that my real first name is easy to shorten. So although I have the longer, formal name; I also have its friendly diminutive as well. Growing up everyone used the latter and the former was only uttered In Times of Dire Peril (e.g. by teachers when I was in trouble).

As I got older, it became completely associated with formality – banks and the like – and I tended to forget I had this longer name. Once, in an early job, someone rang for me using the full name and a colleague asked me if I knew a ‘__’, to which I gave a blank stare until recognition washed back a brain cell. ‘Oh – that’s me!’ I said, sheepishly taking the call.

It’s not like the real name is a fantastical name, like Petronella or Eglantine. It’s a nice, ordinary, name. But somehow I never associated it with me. I picture owners of that name as very confident, power-suit dressed females, who wear court heels every day and tap blackberries (phones. Not fruit. That would be wrong). They don’t wear paint splattered jeans, carry a Tabby cat on their shoulders, get lost in bookshops or trawl London in search of a cupcake. (And admittedly I don’t do all these things at once.)

However, there is a slight problem with the diminutive name. The worst problem at first was that other people with the name tended to sign off with an ‘ie’ and draw a little heart over the ‘i’. I do not sign off with an ‘ie’ or draw little hearts over my ‘i’s. One is not six. (Of course one is not six. One is one. But you get the gist.) The other problem, which grew into the worst problem over time, is that hardly anyone takes that name seriously. My diminutive name gets put on hold, gets lost in call queues, gets fobbed off by secretaries. My power-suit wearing name gets put through to the boss. It’s the same thing with email. Power-suit goes straight to your Inbox. Diminutive gets to play with Viagra in your spam box.

And in-between both these names, is Jayne. Jayne is, fittingly, my middle name, and was created purely to frolic online, un-tethered by power-suits and fwuffy puppies. There are reasons, boring self-esteem-ish reasons why I came here as Jayne, but here she is... I am, rather. And here be my problem.

Who the hell am I?!

Am I power-suit? Am I fwuffy pup? Am I Jayne? None feel quite right, yet somehow, inexplicitly, I am all three.

(Ferst is not my surname either. Oh how complicated I make things for myself!)

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Isle of Wight

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside



Oh I do like to be beside the sea



I do like to stroll upon the cliffs and take pictures of things



And then play silly machines until I win, win, win



So let me be beside the sepia seaside



I’ll be beside myself with glee!

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Limbo land

Thank you for bearing with me over the last month of sporadic blogging (apart from the Two Lost Followers. Oh dear. *waves*). I now have a computer that doesn’t crash, although I fear the bad old computer has led me into nasty habits, such as:

  • Turning computer on and wandering off to do something else while it slowly rumbles into life
  • Watching computer freeze on the Internet/Word/Everything and wandering off to do something else
  • Looking at computer, sighing, and wandering off to do something else

You can see there’s a pattern emerging here and it’s not congruent with writing (straight onto the computer, at any rate). It also doesn’t help that I’m living in the land of limbo.

For various reasons, this and that, la-la-la, limbo land has been a nice place for me to be. Och (she says, reverting inexplicitly to Scottish), it’s hard to explain. I’d have to sit you down with a glass of wine and flail my hands for a while. But the easiest explanation is that nothing changes (very much) in limbo land and there can be times in life when this feels attractive. The sun rises; the rain falls. The train is early; the train is late. You go to work; you come home. It is a place to regroup energy, a safe haven, a retreat. But stay too long and that energy will sap, the haven will suffocate and the retreat will pull up its mossy time-heavy drawbridge and dim the exit signs.

I need to get out of limbo land. It’s time for bold decisions – decisions about where to live, what to do. Ever read those Choose Your Own Adventure books? The ones where page 16 leads to happy-ever-after and page 20 leads to being eaten by a Minotaur? That is exactly what I need to do. (But not the Minotaur bit. I’m done with Minotaurs.) I need to start choosing my own adventure again.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Automated Service

Hello readers of Jayne’s blog. Jayne would like to apologise for her absence, which she blames on a spongy home computer. Usual fixes of defragging, masking tape, a swift kick, imploring to the sky, and The Slow Silent Wail of Despair are no longer working. All the home PC (computer, not policeman) can do at the moment is open Word, and occasionally it unleashes Jayne on Twitter. Sometimes she can open other websites, and when that happens her joy is unconfined, until Blogger crashes and joy is once again locked away in a deep dark box.

However, there is a small glimmer of shining hope on the horizon, and this is called Payday. Payday (sing it like a gospel choir - Oh Glorious Day!) will mean funds for a new computer, and then this Giant Heap of Sticklebricks Jayne types upon can be laid to rest. It would work so much better as an ornament. Or perhaps a cat perch.

Until then, you may see Jayne having a Tweet. Her twitter ID is here – do say hello and sympathise on Computer Woe. (Kraftwerk had it all wrong – it’s not Love at all.)

From, Jayne’s Blog.

This automated service comes to you direct from Jayne’s Work Computer while Jayne is studiously and diligently working very, very hard.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Summer solstice

My ancestors would have no doubt rejoiced and spent today skipping merrily around a field before drinking some dodgy crushed-buttercup beverage. They would probably have regretted it the next day, but would have licked a toad believing that was the latest remedy to cure buttercup hangovers. I know my people.

I’d rather like to be skipping around a field but it’s a work day. Skipping is most definitely frowned upon within the office, although I was caught dancing in the ladies bathroom. I’m always a little out of sync with the corporate world. Some days it shows more than others.

I haven’t actually stepped out of the office today. I have looked at the natural world from the window (the sky, the clouds, a tree) and watched a discarded plastic bag sail beyond the buildings. It’s not much of a homage to nature, is it?

But still, here I am, sharing a story, enjoying your fellowship. Our hearth may be virtual but the symbolism is the same. The solstice is all about creativity, about story-telling and companionship. It is a day for giving thanks and making provisions for the season to come. So if you are hoarding stories like a squirrel, today is the day to check your stores!

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Those Rejection Blues

One of my short stories didn’t make it in a competition recently, and all it seems to take is one teensy weeny rejection for me to think everything I write is utter crap. Writing is such a strange thing – there are no laurels on which to rest; you are only as good as the last thing you wrote, and if that was rejected then forget past success – everything in the entire world is rubbish.

Rejection reverts me into my sulky teenage self – I want to paint the walls black and listen to Pink Floyd.

When I’m in this mood, I am desperate for distractions. I tweet; I youtube old music videos; I research into the tiniest thing; I read. And then when I have nothing written, it is not ‘my’ fault that I didn’t write – it was the distractions what did it! They are to blame, those pesky shiny things just a click away, not me. It’s funny how the subconscious works.

The worst thing about rejection is how everything crashes down, the fragile house of cards that I seem to construct around each story, and then reality whacks me in the face with a soggy slipper. Everything in my life suddenly seems crystal clear, and not in a good way. It paves the way for the inner critic, the Aunt Aggie’s of the world, and hands them a free license and a mega-phone. For a few days I listen in stupefied silence – yes, I can’t write; no, I don’t know what I’m doing with my life; yes, I agree that’s rubbish; no, I don’t have a clue how I’m going to change things. The inner critic will take this chance to have a pop about everything – not just my writing, but the way I look, what I wear – it’s a sort of horribly gleeful internal scourging that is as painful as it sounds.

But then I’ll wake up and look at the world outside the window, the sun and the trees, and think, oh well. That was yesterday. Today is brand new. Anything can happen. And so my first card will be erected, and then another and another, and eventually I’ll have a new house of cards, and a new bit of writing.

Remind me next time to use superglue!

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Any previous, guv’nor?

On my blog profile I had put that I was working on my first novel while ‘ignoring the previous three hiding in disgrace under the bed.’ But this was, in fact, wrong. I just didn’t realise it.

Part of my learning process of writing a novel has been appreciating just what such an undertaking actually means. I had a serious think about my fiction writing the other day, and this is the grand tally over the years:
  • One complete adult novel - 2007 onwards
  • Three complete short stories currently ‘out in the field’- 2010 onwards
  • Three adult ideas that each only made it as far as three chapters, with not even a chapter plan between them. - 2002 - 2006
  • Two complete illustrated children’s picture books (one too short) - 1997 - 2000
  • One first draft of a finished mid-grade children’s novel (although also short in actual word-count, I think) - 1990 - 1991
  • Umpteen fun and false starts in all sizes and guises. - 1982 onwards

So really the current novel is the first – the first that I have planned, plotted, sweated, slaved and whooshed its way to creation and back again. (I did work bloody hard on the children’s picture book stories though.)

I’m grateful to all the other ideas as they have each helped me get this far, but I am deluding myself to think that any were actual finished novels – not in the grand novelly scheme of things.

So this is an interesting thought to have, and I’ll only whisper it once in case it gives me indigestion.

This current novel might not be the first one that gets published. It could be the practice novel for the better one I have yet to write.

Of course, I will cry buckets if that happens. I will declaim life is not fair; I will stare tragically into space ‘at all times’, and I will adopt a pathetic sigh. But thinking about it, as much as I love and adore this novel, it is unusual for a ‘first’ novel to get published. And as much as I hope my novel may be an exception, it may not, to be honest with you.

I’m not at this stage giving up on it. In fact, I am about to give it the best chance of its life.

*cue dramatic pause*

*cue annoying change of subject*

Funnily enough, there is something rather liberating about thinking that the next novel – the one that takes all these lessons and graduates with a PHD - could be the idea that makes it. But maybe that's because I'm close to sending this one off again (end of June, I am thinking) and the thought of it makes me feel slightly sick.

Perhaps we need to adapt that old saying – 'every day and in every way our writing is getting better and better.' Say it with me!

Do you have any full-length novels hiding away in a drawer?

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Exciting Thing! (Revisited)

My second blog post is up on the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook website!

For those that don’t know, the Yearbook is like the industry bible – full of advice and contact details – and I’ve been buying a copy since I was sixteen. My blog post muses upon 'Pantsers and Plotters' and explains which method I use when writing.

(Edit: My third blog post is also up today! I called it 'Music While You Work' but it has been renamed 'What music do you write to?', which explains the post much better. Hope you enjoy!)

It would be absolutely wonderful if you could leave me a comment over there – I’ll reply to all. Come and say hi!

Here is the link to the Pantsers and Plotters post (and picture of me – yikes!)

Here is the link to the What music do you write to? post


Hooray - happy sunny Thursday to you! Have a picture of my cat Abigail laying claim to a tissue box. That one paw means business.


Edit: Thank you to everyone who left a comment! Much appreciated.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Classic cars

Every May bank holiday, classic cars purr and roar into town for a pageant. This year, although there were other cars there, the spotlight was on America in the 1950s – think Cadillac; think Thunderbird and Mustang; think Giant Beasts of Power. I donned my best rock-out fifties swirl dress (in my head only as it was bloody freezing) and set off to admire the chrome.




I've decided 'just roam in your chrome' might be my new favourite saying in times of stress, replacing the usual coping tactic of quoting dodgy lines from the film Predator.

I was also over-excited to realise that 'hydra-matic' is a real word, and not just made up to rhyme with 'automatic' by the film Grease. But what is a hydra-matic drive? Is it one stage better than a dramatic drive? Is it somehow powered by hydrogen? Is it... *runs to google*... Ah. Automatic transmission. That was the next thing I was going to guess, of course...


At these events I nearly always get stopped by somebody (local press, organisers, old blokes with beards) who will tell me that it's quite unusual for a girl to be into classic cars. It’s true - you don't often see females wandering around admiring the dashboards. But they are so pretty!



It's the shapes, the styles, the throaty roar of engines – all the glamour and romance of an era long-past. For me this is the attraction with classic cars – these vehicles tell stories.





I am also rather fond of pondering over which classic car best suits a wicker picnic basket. I've now decided it may be this E-type Jag. Let's see it from the front...



Yup, that wins my Wicker Picnic Basket medal for this year. I bet the owner is well pleased. What better accolade could there be?

The other car that caught my eye was this bad boy below. Just what on earth is it? And where can I drive one? :)