Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Stepping back to get a wider picture

I want to begin this post by thanking Julie Phillips who has really inspired me to work in a different way with my writing.

She started a forum where writers can analyse a piece of writing and give comments such as title, word length, structure, main character, pace etc, whatever you want to comment on really.

I read several short stories and found one that I particularly liked so had a go and found that I really enjoyed the exercise. Julie then posted my feed back onto her new private blog called 'Analyse this'. (see 'Julie's Quest' for details.)

The wonderful thing is that it made me take a step back and look at my own writing by using the same method. I now feel inspired to dig out some of my rejected stories, re-work them and send them off again.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

The right place

I discovered this the other day, and thought it was a real work of art.

An uninvited wasp had decided to make a home by nesting in my bathroom!

It was an unsolicited visit to my house, without any research of what I can offer, or if I would accept it turning up. What a cheek I thought!

However, I did recognise what an amazing work of art it had produced.
Being so busy, I didn't act straight away, I took some time and just closed the doors and windows so it could not get back in, but I had already decided, it was not welcome in my house.

Eventually, I took action by removing the nest. I did not give any feedback on why it was not welcome in my bathroom, despite the talent that may be there.

We all realise, it's not easy to gain success in writing. But if you do the research, choose the right place, at the right time and make some enquiries first, you may be half way there.

Research is vital, along with determination, motivation and some hard work, it could be that you are buzzing with success. (sorry, couldn't resist that one!)

I am sure that the wasp just went away and built another nest somewhere else, despite the knock back of me rejecting the amazing work it had put in. It didn't mean it's work was not good enough, it just didn't fit in.

I shall be sending my entire novel off next week to a publisher, who said they want to read the whole thing, just hope I have found the right place, if not, just like the wasp, I will start again.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Blood, sweat and tears

I had some wonderful news today that 'Dogs Monthly' magazine have accepted an article I submitted in February.

Although I submitted the article in 2010, this article has taken nearly two years to write as I had to travel to so many corners of the country in order to get the material. I wanted to visit each site that I was writing about in order to take my own photographs.

The article is about our ever lasting bond with our dogs, and how even after death, we want an ever lasting memory of them by erecting statues and monuments.

The blood was my blood. It came from a trip to Cardiff when I walked for miles in the most uncomfortable boots that gave me blood blisters. But I got my picture which is part of a lovely sculpture in Cardiff bay of a ordinary dog ( who is very special) with his family.

The sweat and tears came in Cornwall last year. I made it my mission to find the statue of little 'Chalky' who belonged to Rick Stein the famous chef.

I walked through Padstow in the midday sun, it was packed with people looking for his seafood restaurant or his fish and chip shop and it was boiling hot.

When I saw the little bronze statue of the famous Jack Russel outside the restaurant, I burst into tears, it was so moving.

The relationship with our dogs and other animals have touched the human soul throughout the centuries. We seem to have this need to remember them in our own way.

The little grey dog in the picture at the top of this post is Oscar, he was my dog. He does not have a massive monument in his memory, just a tiny Celtic cross in the garden where nature thrives, so to me that is special.

I know I had to wait for this one, but it was worth it because I can share on a smaller scale how people have loved and lost their dogs, but will never forget them.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

The magical month of May

I always feel that the month of May is such a magical time.

I went to the Green Man festival in Clun over the Bank Holiday. The Morris Dancers were fantastic, although the male dancers can be a little bit scary sometimes. I was right at the front when one chap who was at least eight foot tall ran straight at me! (OK perhaps not eight foot, but he was tall!)

A fire eater swallowed his flames then blew them out again like a dragon. He was then followed by a Jester on stilts who entertained the crowds as he marched up and down over the bridge, building on the excitement of the audience of what was coming next - The Green Man!

Every year the Green Man has to banish winter by fighting the Ice Queen.

It was so exciting as I waited on the river bank for him to appear. My heart was thumping as I sat next to some modern day Pagans who shared the magical moment with me.

Then from a distance somewhere behind, the crowd started to boo and hiss as the Ice Queen came from the opposite direction. The Green Man joined her as they met on the bridge. The fight began as he battled with the Ice Queen who was determined to keep her icy hold, but he continued to fight and he won!

The crowd screamed with joy as he was joined by the beautiful May Queen to welcome the end of winter. Children danced around the Maypole (so did my hens - see my other blog Inside the chicken coop) and everyone started to celebrate the magical month of May.

It really is a magical time. A time of re-birth, as the garden starts to come alive again. Animals emerge with their young, and everything feels new as the environment springs to life again.

That applies to my writing too. In the last few days I have felt incredibly creative and despite being at work, I made myself do a little bit of writing every day. Even a few notes scribbled here and there have made a difference, in fact I even came up with the title of my next novel while driving to work!

Just hope every coming month has the same effect on me!

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

A shared passion

The new look Shropshire Review is full of articles and things that are going on around the county.

I contacted the Editor back in January about a possible feature on me and my Mum, and our shared passion for writing, and was thrilled when they informed me that it would be in the May edition.

I have to thank Mike White from Wrekin Writers who got a copy before I did to confirm it was in, and he even gave me a copy as I have difficulty getting one where I live. I also have to thank Simon Whaley for taking the picture of us both when I thrust my camera at him during a break at a monthly writers meeting.

It's been a lovely confidence booster for us both and as a result we have made a few more book sales, and had some lovely conversations with people who have seen it.

I would certainly recommend contacting the magazine if you have any ideas for future features.

Good luck!

Monday, 3 May 2010

Another door opens

I attended the Attingham book fair yesterday and met up with some of the most wonderful writers in Shropshire.

The fairy door above was given to me by Catherine Cooper, author of 'The Golden Acorn'. Her next book 'Glasruhen Gate' will be out very soon, and well worth a read if you are into magical,fantasy type novels.

I am sure her little pixie door will bring me more luck as it when I attended this this event

Above , Me trying to sell my books, I bought more than I sold, but that is the fun of event like this, just meeting other writers who are doing the same.

The second hand book sale was amazing too, so I had to spoil myself a little by purchasing a few items. It's an excellent and very cheap way of doing research. I found five children's books at 50 pence each, and as that's the genre I am trying to get into, I found it a real bargain to give me some material to study.

Molly and Bev above and Sue below with Fee behind on our Wrekin Writers stand. Our anthology was on sale. These were the previous years issues, but we have a new one every year and is so worth buying, we have a wonderful diversity of writing styles in the group. See the Wrekin Writers website for more details

Simon Whaley, below, fellow member of Wrekin Writers and Author of nine books! I think he was willing all the Dog lovers to walk past his stand and buy one of his books especially 'One Hundred Ways For A Dog To Train Its Human'

My Mom, Phyllis Blakemore, author of Gentlemen of the River - Last Coracle men of the Severn Gorge.

This is what it is all about. A handful of writers getting together to sell their work and talk to each other.

But as I said in the opening of this post, I had another door opened by just attending an event such as, and shows even if you do not sell any books on the day, it is still worth attending these venues.

On our way out, me and Mum asked if we could leave our marketing cards with the shop manager, as we wanted to ask if they would consider stocking our books on a permanent basis in the shop.

We had a wonderful discussion with the Manager who took our details and will be hopefully doing just that in the near future.

Well worth attending and very pleased to have yet another open door.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

A bit of a challenge

Here's a little challenge for you. Yesterday when I spotted this cat on my coal house roof, I thought it may be fun to try and capture images from famous fiction or film.

I was going to do 'Chicken Run' but that would be too easy, so I went with
Cat on a hot tin roof ( Tenessee Williams)