Monday, 31 December 2012

Celebrating a year of small successes

I have spent most of 2012 working on my first novel 'Red Kite' and getting it ready to publish as an ebook on Kindle but during the year I have also tried to explore other markets and branch out into different things.

I was thrilled to finally get my article published in Dogs Monthly, discovered the exciting world of letter writing and fillers for magazines which I had never previously enjoyed any success for. I also had a small article published in my own parish magazine which although I was not paid for, I felt that people appreciated what I had written and that is sometimes reward enough.

I had a letter from Hodder and Stoughton in late November and was asked if I wanted  my book 'One Hundred Ways For A Chicken To Train Its Human' to be re-released as an ebook.  That was a lovely surprise and one that I didn't even plan for. So far that little book about chickens has sold 36,293 copies which is amazing to me.  I love the fact that many people love chickens ( or of course it may be that the chickens are buying it!)

My successes are small compared to some writers but I feel very pleased that I have done something related to writing every month including the crazy Nanowrimo which I entered for the first time this November and managed to get the first draft of a possible sequel to Red Kite.

I hope that in 2013 I can at least double my successes.  I plan to market the paper back version of Red Kite, work on a non-fiction children's book and write more articles.

I also have a very odd self imposed challenge which I will blog about on New Years Day 2013.

Thanks to all of you that have read and commented on this blog during 2012.  It gives me such motivation and confidence to carry on and believing that I can call myself a writer.

Happy New Year to you all and hope you have a great 2013. 

Monday, 3 December 2012

Third time lucky - not quite!

Never let it be said that taking the self publishing route is an easy one.  After years of trying to get  my book 'Red Kite' published with a proper book publisher and getting so many rejections, I decided to go down this route instead with Lulu Self Publishing

The trouble is, unless you are confident with all the technical side of self publishing, it can be very daunting, as it has been for me.  I am not too hot on the I.T side of things and despite help from many wonderful writing friends, I am still alone when I come to actually doing it.  I have to click on all the right things to get my book looking like it's worth reading.

I found  that  producing it as an ebook was not so difficult for some reason but when I started to get the hard copy published, I was met with so many problems and that was only because I didn't read  ALL the instructions given. I have learned this after receiving my third copy which is nearly there - but still not good enough.

The first copy was a crazy attempt as I just pressed every button due to the shear excitement of publishing something on the same day as I released my ebook. I loved having an actual copy of it but it was dreadful and as you can see by the photo on the left it had double titles, looked very odd, the font was tiny and it had no page numbers.

The second copy was slightly better as I managed to sort out the front and back cover. It was at this point that I found out that if you don't choose the correct size for your book it will still keep coming out with a reduced font so you get tiny words throughout your book resulting in a very thin spine. If I had bothered to read  all this information from the start, maybe I would have my paperback right now to sell but I didn't.

Today I received the third copy and it's much better.  The page numbers are there, the font is ok but I still need to so some tweeking with the margins.

So, maybe number four copy which is on it's way to me right now to view before releasing it maybe the one that finally gets out there for sale.

We are all different, some people are just able to read instructions first before plunging in. I admit I got caught up with the excitement of publishing my book after such a long time. I would definatley reccomend to anyone who is embarking on a future project similar to mine, if you are not that hot on I.T, read as much as you can, ask whoever you can, be patient and make sure that everything is right before you press the publish button and eventually you will get that book out there.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

'Red Kite' Book Launch

I finally launched my children's novel ' Red Kite' this week on Amazon Kindle.  It's been a long time but I am so glad that now it's out there and doing something positive.  I hope to have a hard copy soon too as I am working on the Lulu self publishing site to get it printed and ready for sale.

I started writing it ten years ago and tried desperately to get it published in the conventional way, or at least get an agent but it was so difficult.  Most of the places I sent it to took around six months to reply and only wanted it in isolation, so I couldn't send it anywhere else. Then finally after months of waiting it would come back rejected.  There is so much competition out there and it seems in Children's fiction, unless you are already very famous or destined to be the next J K Rowling, it will be very hard to get published in this way.

I did have many good comments though from major publishing houses which is rare as many only send a standard response, I think that is why I refused to give up as some of the comments were very encouraging.

The story is about a teenager who is trying to cope with the death of his identical twin brother, it shows his journey through bereavement, while trying to cope with being bullied at school, his only pleasure is Birdwatching.  I will not say anymore, just in case you wish to download it and read it at the very reasonable price of  £0.77 pence.  (Well I had to get a plug in somewhere)

It will probably never be a best seller but at least I did something with it and now I can concentrate on other projects like the sequel and I want to do some more article writing.  I got fresh inspiration for writing magazine articles just this week when one of my articles was published in the December issue of Dogs Monthly.

So, it may have taken ten years but at last 'Red Kite' has flown the nest and I can move on to other things.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

A speedy sequel with NaNoWriMo

After weeks of consideration, I finally decided to have a go at Nanowrimo this year. National Novel Writing Month (  is certainly a great way of making you write instead of putting it off until the housework is done, the dog is walked or any other tasks that stop you from writing.

I felt terrified when I opened up a blank screen today  but as soon as I started I couldn't stop.  It was amazing not to worry about spelling or grammar or how it reads.  I simply let it flow out of my head and onto the keyboard and computer screen. Within 30 minutes I had nearly 900 words which spurred me on further so now on day one, I am slightly ahead.

Just have to keep this up for another 29 days and I may just have a very rough draft of my next novel.  I hope this will be the sequel to my novel Red Kite which I hope to publish this month on Kindle.  Red Kite took my almost ten years to complete so this has to be a better option.  I think if I can at least get the bare bones of  the novel down I can add the flesh at a later date.  Sounds a bit like a horror story but I am certainly not scared of having a go.    

Sunday, 21 October 2012

The recipe for laughter

I attended a wonderful workshop yesterday which was part of the Wellington Literary Festival.  My own writing group Wrekin Writers invited Dr Paul McDonald from the University of Wolverhampton to give a talk on how to write humour.  As you can see by the picture above, it's a serious business.  I never realised that there are so many tools that can be used to create a piece of work that is funny.  Paul went through several of these to give us a real insight into how to write humour.

Re-incorporation was one of them, just like when a stand up comedian will keep returning to a particular subject, maybe they have picked on someone in the audience and each time they do it, it seems to get funnier.  Exaggeration was a major one too as in comedy you can get away with a lot more than when you are writing  in different genres. Some of the other terms we looked at were repetition, contrasts, incongruity, obsessions, irony and even a characters name.  Some names just sound funny, it's the same with some words.  'Stinky' and 'Plop' make me smile, I don't know why, perhaps it's the child in me but that is useful as I write mainly for children so that could come in useful some day. 

By using these tools it is possible to create something that will make people laugh.  Several members of the group did this in just a 15 minute exercise so it shows it really is possible.  None of us are comedians but within minutes we were genuinely laughing at the work that had been produced in a very short time scale.  

I would really like have a go at writing a humorous novel one day.  I have had a go at writing humour before with my chicken book which is is classed as gentle humour I guess but I didn't even think about trying to be funny when  I was writing that as the subject itself ( my chickens) gave me all the material in just watching them so it seemed to flow quite easily.  It was more about observing them and their comical personalities.  I made them superior to me which is also another ingredient in writing comedy as someone always has to be the butt of the joke, in the example of my book I suppose that was me!

I certainly want to have a go in the future of writing something funny, now I have my comedy tool kit, I am ready to go forth and have a giggle.  

Dr Paul McDonald 

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Meet the Author and their marketing ideas

I spent a wonderful morning at the new Wellington Library on Saturday. It was part of the Wellington Literary Festival which is held every October and is an amazing programme of literary events to suit everyone. I was lucky enough to be invited to sell my book 'One Hundred Ways For A Chicken to Train Its Human' and promote my new novel 'Red Kite' which will be out soon. Although I didn't sell any books on this occasion, I still had a fantastic time meeting some wonderful fellow authors and having a chat to the general public who unfortunately for me were just not interested in Chickens!

I also attended with my Mom, Phyllis Blakemore, author of 'Gentlemen of the River' and as always her book went down very well.  She made quite a few sales and loved chatting to people about the old days in Ironbridge where her book is set.

I met a lovey lady pictured above who really inspired me. At the young age of only 24, Carys Jones has written several books and getting great reviews for her current book 'Not All Stars Sparkle'. It was great to chat to her and we shared many similar experiences in the journey of trying to get a book published. Carys had some great promotional material that her publisher did for her and I noticed people were picking them up as I did. She also has a great website which made me start thinking  when I need to market my own book. Have a look at

I have shared many events with R H Stewart who also writes young adult fiction.  He had a mass of young adults around his display most of the morning, something I really wish for when Red Kite is finally on sale.  I loved his stand and again I think that having props and a great visual display is so important.  His website is great too, see

I have to also mention Ken Ballantyne who was also present  and writes Real life/Military books. Unfortunately I never got to talk to him but he had another great visual display with music too.

Although I didn't get any sales, I certainly came away a lot richer with the knowledge that I picked up while I was there.  Getting out to events like this is a great opportunity to talk to other writers and see how they go about marketing their book once it's written and that is something I can bank for the future when I am promoting Red Kite.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Dinolympics - first edition

The first copy of my non-fiction book 'Dinolympics' came today. I have done it through Lulu Publishing and I am very happy with the quality and price.  This one is just the test copy but it's a thrilling experience to see it in a real book form after so long.  I need to re-arrange the illustrations as on the first run I have them all at the back, rather than with the text. 

This has been a great learning project too as in the next few weeks I will be publishing my novel 'Red Kite' with Lulu as well so hopefully when it comes to loading my novel on, I may know what I am doing.

I started this little book in October 2010 with the hope that I may find a publisher.  I wanted to tie it in with the London 2012 Olympics and hoped that someone may take an interest but it still got rejected on the grounds that they already had enough olympic related material.  I never guessed that I should have planned even earlier than two years ahead but I do now.

I had spent so long working on it I had to do something positive.  I set about trying to illustrate it myself.

They are only simple sketches but at least I can say I did something with it and I have learnt so much as a result.

I didn't put it for sale as I truly believe it's not really good enough to charge money for but it has been great fun to produce it.  I have spent so many lovely hours researching and sketching my sporting dinosaurs so I will never see it as a waste of time.

Below is one of my sketches, the tiny Compsognathus, one of my favourite dinosaurs, not much bigger than a chicken but very fast and agile.

I think the biggest thing I will take from this is planning well ahead, maybe I should send it out again now ready for the 2016 Olympics in Rio!    

Monday, 13 August 2012

I'm seeing red

I have been totally engrossed with the Olympics over the last two weeks and still have the excitement of the Paralympics to come. I have loved every single moment of it from the opening ceremony to the grand finale where our wonderful Olympians from all over the world had their moment. Although I have neglected my writing quite a lot due to being glued to the television to watch every event  I could.

There have been so many successes but I did feel that the media have been a little obsessed with gaining gold medals, sometimes overlooking our wonderful people still winning silver and bronze. I think that even those who did not win anything still deserve some recognition. The fact that they had made it to the Olympics is an amazing achievement.

It really struck me though that these talented people only have one chance every four years to win an Olympic medal. They have other competitions in the meantime of course but it must be such a  mental struggle for them to think that the next time they can try for that treasured Gold will not be for another four years!

A Writer has much more luck on their side. Every day for 365 days of the year, we have the chance to achieve our writing dreams. Every day we can write and we can send work off in the hope that we get something published. I feel very lucky that I have never had to wait four years before I get a publication or to try again if I am rejected. Although I do have an article that is pending a definite publication from over a year ago!

I loved the closing ceremony for the 2012 Olympics and thought last night that I may feel a little deflated now it's over.  I joined in the party with the whole country, probably had too much wine and thought I would feel terrible but instead I woke and felt so inspired with the fact that I have so many chances to get my dreams and goals underway every day of the year.

I have been working on my novel Red Kite and thanks to Suki White - Artist who painted the beautiful cover for my book and Richard Varley - Graphic Artist who designed the wording, I nearly have my dream. It is a little more simple and not so grand as an Olympic medal and it's not gold - it's Red.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Fate and writing opportunities

I just got back from an unexpected break to the lovely seaside town of Barmouth in Wales. I say unexpected as I was meant to go on Saturday but we had horrendous flooding in Shropshire which initially prevented the trip.  However, after several more incidents with our cars which were eventually resolved, I still did not want to miss out on the opportunity.  Later in the day I rang the hotel who were prepared to switch the booking to the following day when the floods had subsided and the roads were open again.

It was incredible as from the moment we parked up in Barmouth, we saw this  wonderful display of kites and balloons on the beach.  It was amazing and the child in me could not be dragged away for some time.  

The wonderful thing was that in that short space of time I was so inspired by what I had seen, I had to run to the car and start writing ideas down straight away. 

It was a very short break away but I came back with an idea for a book and several ideas for magazine articles.

Sometimes, I believe that fate does come into our writing opportunities.  These balloons disappeared very soon after I had seen them as the weather started to turn and people were going home. If I hadn't got there when I did, I would never of seen them.

It really is about grabbing every opportunity that comes along. Whether it's planned or unexpected, fate can play a part in what we see and how it inspires us to get writing. 

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Finding inspiration within your own family

I have just been for a short break to Oxford. I love visiting the colleges where all the great writers have been, it's so inspiring. Above is Merton College where TS Elliot attended for a while. I walked past the stunning park area and wondered if he got inspiration for his writing here.

The picture to the right is inside the stunning Magdalen College. CS Lewis taught here. I could almost imagine him sitting at the top table at meal times, perhaps thinking about Narnia while they were tucking into their lunch!

Below is the passage that contains the song room.  Andrew Lloyd Webber also attended Magdalen for a while. I stood here and wondered if he gained inspiration for any of his work right here?


( Emma and Herbert Partridge with my great uncle George and aunt Dolly)

On the way down to Oxford I wanted to visit one of my ancestral homes.

 In the beautiful village of Church Hanborough I found the cottage where my great grandmother and grandfather Emma and Herbert Partridge lived.  When I found it I couldn't believe that I was actually standing outside this same cottage which has hardly changed in over 100 years.

It was the most amazing experience and one that has inspired me the moment I got back to research even more into my family history, talk to people and write it down.

I find it so wonderful  that it does not always have to be the famous places or people that inspire us, sometimes we may find something a little closer to home within our own family history that can spark the desire and inspiration to write. 

Monday, 11 June 2012

Keep it flowing

The spring in our village flows constantly every hour of every day.  Throughout the whole year it gushes out of the earth and provides us with fresh water. It amazes me sometimes in the winter when everything else is frozen solid the spring still continues to flow.

I have really tried to do that with my writing over the last few months and it certainly seems to be working. I have found in the past if I don't do any writing for a period of time, it's so much harder to get back into it again so just recently I have kept up the flow by writing something on a regular basis.

Editing my novel has taken up a lot of time but in between that, I have been pitching articles and sending letters and fillers to magazines. With all this constant flow of output I have started to get some results too. So far I have had a letter and a tip published which I will actually be paid for!

The photo below was published in Take a Break magazine. I was thrilled to get the top tip for my suggestion which only took me 30 minutes to write and then email it to the magazine.

It doesn't matter how long you spend writing or how much you write. You may only have time to scribble a few words down in a lunch break, perhaps while on a train journey or even waiting for a bus. If you have more time set a regular slot every week when you can sit down and write. The important thing is to try and do something on a regular basis and not stop for too long.  Even though it can't always be possible, try to  keep a steady flow and that way the results will come flowing in too.


Saturday, 19 May 2012

Keeping track of submissions

It's so important to keep track of submissions and stay organised with any writing work in progress.

I have been spending so much time editing my novel over the last  few months that I have neglected all the other work I had sent out earlier in the year.

What didn't help was that I had even lost my year planner under a pile of paperwork!

On finding it again I discovered  that I had sent off one of my stories during February this year to more than one  publisher. I am usually very organised and mark my planner with a great big 'S' to remind me when I have done it. But what's the use of a planner if gets lost and forgotten about?

I had to give myself a good telling off for letting things slip.

I had even allowed myself to get despondent as I had not received a reply for both submissions but on revisiting the original guidelines for both publishers, it stated that they can take at least six months to reply.
This is not unusual but if I had kept track of my submissions in the first place and checked my year planner, I would not even expected a reply yet, as in both cases I still have another four months to get a positive response.

If I don't get a positive response, I shall send them out again to somewhere else but this time I will keep track of  them!

Monday, 7 May 2012

Writing a sequel

I have considered writing a sequel to my novel Red Kite for a while but it was only the other day that I gained inspiration from the landscape and started penning a few ideas for the next story.

It may sound a little adventurous when I haven't even got the first book out there yet but by walking in this incredible environment, I couldn't stop getting ideas for a sequel and had to grab my notebook to write something down.    

The photo above is Catherton Common near to the Clee Hill. Catherton is a wild, rugged landscape covered with mysterious bogs and pools that only the dragonflies can negotiate with ease.  

I kept seeing my main character here, perhaps a few years later on from Red Kite. I haven't made my mind up yet how I would do it but it was so exciting, like he had followed me to explore this wilderness for a while, testing the water as to whether he wants to spend time here or not. 

I know I must concentrate on my first novel right now as I am still a long way of getting it published on kindle but it feels great to think I may just have another story growing out there on the Common.     

Monday, 30 April 2012

Finding the right font

I have spent the last month or so editing my novel 'Red Kite.'  I finished my third edit yesterday and although I will be going over it again, I felt like I needed a break, so started looking at the font for the book title that will go on the front cover. 

It's amazing when you start thinking about it as some fonts, as this photo shows, stand out as a possibility and some scream Nooooo!

Every time I have been to a bookshop  just lately, I have focused on the front cover of every book to see how other writers do it. There are so many different styles.  Some of the big authors have their name in a large font with the title smaller,  Some have equal size for both. JK Rowling had something completely different as it was 'Harry Potter' himself that was prominent on all the front covers of her books.

I am enjoying just testing out different fonts and styles at the moment but realise it's so important to get it right and  find one that will work with my front cover.   That means plenty more visits to WH Smiths to stare at the front cover of every book until I find a font that is right for me.

Monday, 23 April 2012

The Magnificant Seven Challenge

I have just accepted a challenge set by Simon Whaley who suggested that we post seven lines from the seventh line on the seventh page of whatever we are working on at the moment.

In my case, it's my novel.  I enjoy things like this, as firstly it does make you look at your own work in a different way. The snippet was in isolation so I was able to concentrate just on those seven lines. Secondly, as Simon says, it's also a great way of seeing different styles. So here goes my seventh page challenge:   

I know they have to go somewhere, but why my haven? Nature and wildlife are constantly disturbed. Every weekend the riders rip up and down, scaring the sheep and leaving deep tracks all over the place. The constant buzzing and revving of the bikes’ tiny engines drives me mad, and the smell from their exhausts fills the air.
 My mind drifted from the classroom and up to the quarry – this was my space where I can enjoy my hobby, with no one to bother me. I can watch buzzards soar as they catch the warm thermal air currents to gain height.

So there you go, seven lines from  the seventh page of  my novel Red Kite.  This was such a useful excercise as just by doing this today, before posting it I noticed something I needed to change.

Cheers Simon, this was a useful way of looking at our work.   

Monday, 16 April 2012

No escape.

I have spent nearly the whole day editing my novel 'Red Kite'

It's hard work reading over and over again the very same words that I have written over and over again. I think the editing process is one of the most difficult parts of producing a novel because sometimes you have to be brutal and get rid of a few thousand words and sometimes you may need another thousand words to make a scene work.

After three hours I got to the point when I needed a break from it. I needed a walk, so I took myself off to the Clee Hills. They are very close to where I live and it is also where my novel is set.

Within minutes of starting my walk, I looked up to see these two tiny figures walking across the quarry. You can hardly see them and may not even think that so unusual, but in fact that is an image from my novel and one that I hope to use on the back cover. The only difference is they are not flying a red kite as my characters would be in the book.

I carried on and enjoyed the fresh air. I felt the wind on my face and watched buzzards and crows fly over the summit while the sheep grazed contentedly on the slopes of the hill.

On my way back down I saw a man carrying something to the edge of the hill. It was one of those small model aeroplanes, the same size as a kite. It was also red!

He launched it into the air and it soared for a moment just like a life sized glider would do, then the wind got hold and it crashed onto the ground - just like the kite does in my story.

Today my novel literally came to life while I was trying to escape it. I loved every moment of it and was glad that I hadn't just left it sitting there on my computer. It had followed me somehow in my mind, locked into my thoughts and imagination and when I came back I couldn't wait to start writing again.

I am not suggesting that this is the right way for everyone, sometimes you really do need to escape from your work and take a break away from it but today this worked for me.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Oh no, I'm knitting when I should be writing!

I have always wanted to learn how to knit. My Grandma tried to teach me when I was a child but I was too much of a tomboy to be interested, preferring to be outside making mud pies and riding horses.

A recent offer from a work colleague to teach me got me inspired enough to go and buy some cheap wool and some knitting needles. Over the weekend I have spent quite a bit of time trying to learn this craft. I really do admire people who can knit, it's almost like alchemy where out of a simple ball of wool and two needles, amazing things can be produced.

Then I started to feel guilty that I was neglecting my writing. I have so many writing projects on that were left in favour of my knitting. Why was I wasting time trying to do something I know nothing about when I should be writing? I even spent money on knitting magazines but to my surprise it gave me a different angle of looking at it.

I quickly realised that this had opened up a whole new writing market too. I am learning something new and being creative in a different way. Who knows, one day I may be pitching article ideas to knitting magazines, something I would never have imagined if I had not had a go at trying something new. I think I may have a long way to go, as you can see by the photo above but it's still an achievement to try and as with any craft, practice is required to improve.

Why not give it a go, it can be something simple or if you are brave enough try something incredibly difficult, you never know, one day you could become an expert and then you have a whole new market to write about.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Make hay while the sun shines - or the rain is pouring down!

Many may of heard the old saying ' Make hay while the sun shines' Today although it's pouring with rain and the weather forecast has seemed very negative, I still seized the day and feel so motivated by it. So what? The weather isn't great, I didn't want to spend hours outside so I retreated to my attic den and haven't stopped doing writerly things for the last four hours.

I have signed up to a Writers event in the autumn which is always great fun. Although I may not sell many books, it's a great opportunity to get out there and meet readers and as this years event is in a library, it may be a good opportunity to sell my novel which I hope will be published by then.

I have also sent a letter and photo to 'TAB' magazine, sent a pitch to 'Yours' Magazine and written two mini articles, one for my parish magazine and another for the Battery Hen Welfare Trust.

I am now going to work on a short story and when that is completed I shall get my wellies on and go for a walk, may even have a splash in that puddle as it is getting larger by the minute.

So whatever the weather is doing, get on with things you can do. Seize the day rain or shine!

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Inspired Landscapes

I spent Good Friday up on the beautiful Malvern Hills. It was so magical to walk the stunning countryside that seems untouched by modern life in some areas.

When I go to places, I love to connect in every way with what is there and what has been there in the past. A few days before visiting, I started to read Piers the Ploughman by William Langland, a poet who lived in the 14th century.

The story is set around the very same Malvern Hills that I roamed and tells the tale of the poet who fell asleep on the side of one of the hills and saw in his dreams a crowd of people. He describes experiencing the tower of truth (God) set on the hill and the dungeon of Wrong (the Devil) in the valley below and all the classes of people, some good and some evil and corrupt. He also sees Piers the Ploughman who wants to guide the people to a better way of life.

Even though this book has been translated, his words give a real account of what life was like during the 14th century. That was what made it so fascinating, it brought the story to life. To walk the footsteps of a real writer from centuries ago was an incredible experience and as I walked, I started to imagine what life must have been like then. I wanted to know where Langland had seen these visions.

Could this be the spot that Langland saw his vision?

It's a wonderful thing to think that now even modern day writers are still achieving that. By setting a scene in a real place, it can still capture the imagination of a reader who may walk one day in the very setting that the Author has written about.

Langland never became famous as a writer but he gave a real account of life in another time. With any piece of work, characters are vital but so is the setting. A good story that sets the scene so the reader can imagine it or actually experience one day is a massive contribution to the literary world that may last for centuries as this one did.

Saturday, 31 March 2012

My first. . .

One of my first books, as you can see my spelling has not improved!

One of my first attempts at writing. I know, it's very embarrassing, the spelling again and how I kept joining up all my words as though I just had to get them all out in one go. As for the end, well that is just so weired but perhaps I was thinking about being a writer!

One of my first paintings. This is Dick Turpin with Black Bess, who the heck is holding those reins?

My first little writing desk. I walked into the room one Christmas morning and my Mom had bought this for me. She had sat a beautiful fluffy panda toy up to it which was also a present. I feel a little guilty that I booted the Panda from his position and immediately fell in love with my little desk. Now after such a long time it is back with me and I may even write on it again - I never grew much taller since then so this will not be too difficult!

My first diary. This is very interesting reading. I read the whole thing again the other day and at this point of time I must have been obsessed with Horses, Skateboarding, a game called Scarper and managed to come second in the 200 metres race on sports day. I recorded it all.

All these first things in my life were and still are are very important. It's odd, as when I was a child I never thought that I wanted to be a writer. I know some people know from an early age exactly what they want to be and strive to do just that. I was obsessed with horses and mermaids, dinosaurs and the great outdoors and every day whatever I was doing, I would write about it. I even recorded when I got my ears pierced and if I fell out with my best friend (who I am very glad to say is still my best friend). I didn't even think about it, I just did it. I wrote in my diary every day. I kept things in my little desk and I imagined different worlds that I could escape to.

The diary was a very small pocket one. It only had a few spaces for an entry every day which I filled and now over 30 years later, I have a real glimpse back to the past of things I may have forgotten, if had not written them down.

Just a thought, but it's never too late to start a little diary, you don't have to write loads but in years to come, when you read them back or pass them on to someone else, it's a very special way to share a moment of time that will last forever because it happened to you and you wrote it down.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Can I ask you a few questions?

Simon Whaley and Julie Phillips

I attended my Wrekin Writers meeting today and Julie Phillips gave a great talk and demonstration on how, or how not to interview people when you want a story. She brought it home about paying attention to people you are talking to, researching and thinking about suitable questions before you go ahead and interview someone.

Simon Whaley pictured above with Julie was a willing interviewee and showed how interviews can go very wrong if you do not plan and take an interest in the person you are talking to.

This is something I still struggle with. I have spent years writing my novel which has been a very solitary experience and I kept the story to myself for years before sharing it with anyone else. Most of the articles I have had published did not require any input from another party so I have not had much experience in interviewing other people.

Julie's workshop gave me a boost of confidence to try other ways of approaching people for an interview, new angles and how to conduct a successful interview so now I have to go out and try it for myself.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

A new toy!

I finally got my Kindle this week. It was a great way of celebrating the end of my Fabulous February theme where I made a promise to do something connected to my writing every day. I had a great month and put a lot of work out so now waiting to see if I get any results.

March the 1st was World Book Day so I decided to buy my Kindle then to celebrate. Of course I have not given up on paper books, in fact I also bought War Horse by Michael Morpurgo in paperback on the same day. I love reading proper books too but this is a great way of having some reading material wherever I am without having to carry too much. I was thrilled to see it even has a dictionary on it which is great as I would not like to carry my huge dictionary/thesaurus around with me everywhere I go.

The second reason for getting one is because I want to publish my own novel in the autumn so I thought it would be useful to see how it reads on a proper Kindle machine. For the next few months I hope to be reading my own novel on my own machine. I hope it will help with the editing process as reading it in a different format may make some obvious problems stand out.

I am also hoping to publish a small non-fiction book shortly which has illustrations so it will be useful to see how they look.

I shall still continue to try and get my work published in the normal way but I see the world of publishing ebooks as an exciting new alternative and I have nothing to lose by trying.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Time to grow some new ideas

This is a really special post for me as today is my 100th blog posting for Working 2 Write. I am also celebrating the final week of my 'Fabulous February' theme.

I had another wonderful week, even during my working hours as on Wednesday I had to go to a meeting in Birmingham. I went by car and then train and certainly got the most out of my journey by using it as a research opportunity. I love to listen to people and observe things. I saw so much when pulling in at all the different stations with everyone going about their own lives. It's so interesting and useful as I may need a station scene one day in one of my stories, so now I have some real experiences and feelings in that environment.

I also had my membership through for the Society of Civil & Public Service Writers, it's great to be part of something like this and I hope to submit work in the future to the quarterly magazine they produce.

The last few days I dug out a short story that was rejected by one publication and worked on it all weekend to send off to a different publisher. It's amazing when you start to edit work. I changed so much from the original, even the title, which is hopefully more fitting for my next possible market. So off that goes in the post tomorrow.

The highlight of the week was receiving some royalties from the ALCS. ( Authors Licensing and Collecting Society) It wasn't a huge amount but I was thrilled to receive anything. They are a wonderful society who collect royalties on the writers behalf. I even received payment for articles that were published a year ago! Such an incentive to get cracking and write some more.

I am in a real planting and growing mood at the moment. Just as the seeds and bulbs will be planted today in my greenhouse, I will also be growing more writing ideas over the next month.

Perhaps I shall name that marvelous March!

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

If you don't ask, you don't get

I wanted to follow on from my last posting 'Your message was undeliverable' as since then I have tried sending a pitch over and over again for a feature to a major magazine.

Time after time I got the email back saying their inbox was full. I tried so many times until today, after it failed for the sixth time, I decided I had contact them in person.

I have always been so nervous at doing this. I feel comfortable with an email or a letter, as if they wish to reject my idea, I feel able to deal with it easier.

So, with butterflies in my stomach, I did contact them. I am so glad I did as although I was terrified at being put straight through to the editor who asked what the article was about, I was thrilled to find that they are very approachable in situations like this. After a short discussion on my idea , I was given another email address to send my pitch to.

Their are no promises of publication for my idea but I am a step closer than if I had just left it and not bothered to follow it up. This one may not be successful but this approach may work for me in the future.

So I have learned a great lesson today, although it may be a cliche, if you don't ask, you don't get, I hope I may be a step closer to publication in the future.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Your message was undeliverable

Isn't it dreadful when you find the courage to pitch an idea to a big magazine, you spend hours just working on the pitch but when you hit the send button it comes back as undeliverable.

I just sent an email to the editor of a very big magazine to pitch an idea for an article. I got butterflies as I was writing it. I could hardly press the send key. I had to print it off and take a break before I did send it and when I did, the flipping thing bounced back saying it was undelivered. Apparently their inbox is full - Ughhh!!

Nevermind, now I have done it once, I shall try again.. and again... and again..

Positive thinking I tell myself, it hasn't been rejected yet (well not by the editor, just cyberspace having some fun )

Look who's talking ( Week 3 - Fabulous February)

I have had another fun and productive writing week. This is all part of my 'Fabulous February' theme where I am trying to do something every day connected to my writing. I am pleased to say that I have managed to do just that. The highlight of the week was receiving a CD from Talking Newspaper for the blind. They produce CD's and cassettes for the blind or partially sighted and a while ago myself and Mom were interviewed by Robert Green from ESTN about our books.

It's such an honour to be part of something like this and although I cringe when hearing myself, (I tend to laugh a lot which could have been nerves) I do feel very proud to have done it.

I was very proud of my mother, Phyllis Blakemore too, she talks about her memories of Ironbridge and her book Gentlemen of the River - The last Coracle men of the Severn Gorge. She has a wonderful way of putting the listener right there. This CD is something I shall treasure as we are both on the same one.

I was also thrilled to learn that I had won one of the challenges from my Writing group Wrekin Writers. Every month we have a set challenge to write about a subject using only 100 words. To my amazement I won last months challenge and got a bit of prize money too. I never feel like my offering is good enough so it's great to have a boost in this way. Small things like this can be such an incentive and it keeps my motivation levels up. Sometimes it can be easy to give up, especially when you get rejections. I got another two this week but I didn't let it get to me and just re-pitched the idea to another editor.

I have lots of plans for the next few weeks. I want to pitch a few more articles, look at some competitions and study some fresh markets to approach. Here's hoping that by the end of February I will have a few more positive results to show for it.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Fabulous February - Week 2

I have had a really productive week. Although some of the things I have done may seem small, it's great to tick things of my 'Things to do list' and at the end of the week I now feel that I have achieved something.

Monday - I sent a sample of my novel to Neil Fein. He is a free lance editor. I heard about his free offer to read a small sample of a manuscript from Carole Anne Carr's wonderful blog which is well worth a visit. Carole has been working with Neil and is very pleased with the results.

I was thrilled, as I only sent it on Monday and received some feedback today. I have only just started being brave enough to get my work out there and read by other people. I have always felt embarrassed that it will not be good enough but have now reached the point where I want to accept every offer of help out there so that hopefully one day, it will be good enough. So far it seems to be working.

Tuesday - I was back at work but spent a lot of my lunch and break time 'People Watching' It's fascinating what you can pick up when watching other people in the form of body language or phrases that they use often. This is a great exercise for character building so watch out, next time I appear to be staring at you, I may just be plotting a character around you!

Wednesday - I pitched an article at 6.00 am before going to work and received a rejection for it by the time I got home from work. It was another good rejection though and the editor urged me to send other material in the future. I was just pleased that they were so prompt in replying so at least I could do something with it straight away.

Thursday - I pitched the very same article again to another editor. I am still waiting to hear back from this one so there is always some hope.

Friday - I went to the newsagents and browsed the racks of magazines for future markets that I may try. It's a great way to research what is popular at the moment and I didn't spend a penny.

Saturday - Enjoyed a lovely walk in the woods and wrote another 300 words of my novel. I also did loads of reading and worked on some more illustrations for my children's book.

Sunday - Well here I am blogging about my week again. Today I plan to send one of my stories out to several publishers, so will be trawling through the Artists and Writers year book for places to send it. I hope to be sending it to at least three per week until someone says YES!

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Fabulous February - Week 1

I mentioned in my post of February 1st that I had taken up a challenge set by Julie Phillips that I will do something positive connected to my writing every day through the month. I officially named it Fabulous February.

It really has been a great week as I have planned what I wanted to do each day and feel that I have done so much in a short space of time. I think this is because it was planned, realistic to my time constraints and I enjoyed every moment of what I was doing, that is an important factor as none of it felt like a chore that had to be done. I wanted to spend the time doing what I enjoy and that is writing.

Friday I had a nice surprise as even though I was at work, I managed to get some legitimate time in work hours for being creative.

I am the official Newshound for my office which means I have to sniff out the good news stories, write them up and send them in. I was delighted to find out on Friday that one I had sent had been published in our regional newsletter.

Saturday, we got snow. It started around 11.00 am and continued all day. For once it had worked in my favour as I didn't have to get anywhere. I took myself up to my little writing den and did some more illustrations for my non-fiction book, worked on a short story and did a lot of reading - absolute heaven!

Sunday, here I am writing on my own blog and reading other fellow blogger's posts. It's a great time to catch up and see what other people are doing. I also want to research some possible markets for an article that was rejected a few days ago. I refuse to give up on this particular feature but as it is time bound I have to work fast if I want to get it published this year.

So that was my first week of Fabulous February. I plan to be just as productive every day for the rest of the month and hope to achieve some positive results.

What an honour

I was thrilled to hear yesterday that I received this award from Penny the Jack Russell. Penny quite often makes an appearance on a wonderful blog by Klahanie, this is well worth a visit for a very thought provoking blog along with Penny who regularly does a guest blog on his site.

Actually I think he has trouble taking back control as I did with my other blog Inside the Chicken Coop. Our wonderful animals seem to love the limelight and so they should, they deserve it. I think that it is why I am honoured to receive such an award from a gorgeous little four legged very modest internet star.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Mobile Poetry

I bought this 'Fridge Poetry' years ago. I never put it on my fridge as my fridge is covered with fridge magnets from all over the places I have been to, so I stuck it on a metal tray ( my poetry tray) which works even better for me. It's mobile, so I can move it around the house, take it to a secret place and have my own little word game.

I love to move the words around the tray and see what comes up as a result.

I hadn't looked at my poetry tray for months. The words stuck there at the moment are the same as I left them over 6 months ago but on seeing them again I feel inspired. It's so great to play round with words.

Do these words inspire you? Perhaps you could add a few of your own to the mix? Have a go and see what you get.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Inspirational Imbolc ( Day 1 - Fab Feb)

I recently agreed to challenge set by Julie Phillips in her great blog Julie's Quest.

As February is the month of love, it was all about falling in love with your writing again.

I am guilty of not always making time to write. Today my pledge is that I will to do something every day that is connected to my writing. Some days it may be something very small, some days I may do something bigger but I will do something every day through February.

I am celebrating Imbolc today, the ancient Celtic festival of new beginnings, when things start to grow and light returns slowly after the cold and dark days of winter. As the lambs are born and snow drops peer their heads out of the frozen earth, you start to see new life appearing. It is a gradual process but it is the start of things warming up.

I see it like lighting a fire. At first, the flames are cool but then as you add to it, they start to grow, they respond to any attention such as more fuel or the odd poker to stir it up.

I think writing can be a bit like that. You may have a small flame of an idea in your head. You add a little kindling to it with a few scribbled notes, then suddenly it catches fire. You start to work on it, adding fuel in the form of words or illustrations and very soon you have something that one day may just set the world on fire ( well hopefully not literally)

So this is the start of my Fabulous February. I plan to make every day count and it's great that this year I have one an extra day to make things happen.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

What a dilemma!

I have spent most of the day clearing out my rat infested summer house. It was one of the most unpleasant things I have done for ages. It stunk, they had built a huge soil nest in the corner and everything was covered in rat poo!

However, as I started to clear things into piles for burning or the council tip I found some old books. One of the first I picked out was 'Lair' by James Herbert, very apt given the environment. We must have seen four of the horrid little things scurrying away as we cleared the place and disturbed their nest.

I was left with a dilemma though. I couldn't bear to burn the books as I did not feel right about destroying other people's work. I felt I couldn't take them to a council tip either, that would be an insult to the writer too. I couldn't take them to a charity shop as they are covered in rat poo and I couldn't bring them into my own house as they really do stink.

After pondering for hours I finally decided that I shall bury them in a sort of time capsule. I thought if I wrapped them up in completely sealed package, one day, they may be found, when books like this no longer exist. I hope that people may talk about how writers once put pen to paper (or computer) to produce a book and realise how special that is.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

For once I am feeling SMART

I attended a wonderful workshop yesterday run by Simon Whaley. . Simon was launching his tenth book - The Positively Productive Writer and so the work shop was based around being positive in your writing goals.

The 'S.M.A.R.T' tool he was using on the flip chart is one I am very familiar with as I have to use this every day with my work but it was so refreshing to apply it to my writing goals.

Simon mentioned that we should see our goals as a journey with several stops on the way. This means it never seems so daunting when we set a goal for the future as by taking little steps it makes it a more comfortable and achievable ride.

I have mentioned in previous posts that I have set myself a few goals this year, mainly of trying to publish two of my books onto kindle. When I first said that I would do this I was a little scared but by applying the SMART technique to both of my goals below, I feel a lot more confident in starting off and working towards them.

S. Are my goals specific? Yes - I want to publish two books on kindle.

M. Are they measurable? Yes, I use my year planner and check list to see where I am.

A. Are they achievable? Yes, if I focus on these two things and research what I need to do.

The only stumbling block is that I have to try and illustrate the non-fiction book myself. This feels a bit daunting but I want to give it a go.

R. Are they realistic? Yes, It is possible to publish a book onto kindle fairly easily. I have left enough time in between each project so feel it is possible.

T. Are they timely? Yes, I need to get one out before the summer Olympics and the novel out by mid autumn. The books have strict time bound subjects, especially the non-fiction book.

So there you have it, for once I do feel smart. I will give both of these goals a go. I do not expect them to be a massive success but I will feel that I have been positive for aiming for them in the first place.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Inspiration right under my nose

I spent a beautiful morning visiting all the villages and churches within the parish where I live and took so much inspiration for my writing from the most simple things.

The snowdrops above were taken at Clee St. Margaret Churchyard. They made me think that whatever happens during the year, they still come back even stronger. They face all kinds of conditions, as we do in our writing but every year they still come back.

The second place I visited was Stoke St. Milborough where the Holy Well flows to this day. I saw this as having faith. If we don't believe in what we are writing about or have faith in anything we are doing, it will not happen because we will give up after the first hurdle we come to.

The third is a picture of the bell at Middleton church. It may seem like any other bell tower but here a bird had made a nest. Birds seem to see opportunities everywhere and by doing so they succeed. That is so important with writing. It's about seeing every possible place to get your work out there. Some times it may be in the most unlikely places that you may succeed.

The final picture is of a stained glass window in the beautiful Caynham Church. This made me think to look closer at everything. The mare and foal was a tiny detail in a huge scene but I focused on it because I love horses. Details like this could lead to all sorts of ideas for writing - it's just taking time to seek them out.

All these small things in a quiet rural parish have given me so much thought to how I feel about my own writing:-

1) Coming back time and time again after long spells of hard work and rejection.

2) Having faith in what I am writing about and what I want to achieve.

3) Looking for opportunities everywhere, even if they seem unlikely.

4) Focus on detail and look in every place possible, zoom in on detail and it may bring amazing results.