Archive | January 2013

Unfogging my Head…

Huge thanks to Martin Stuart for letting me use this lovely photo :-)

Huge thanks to Martin Stuart for letting me use this lovely, misty photo 🙂

Oh dear, I’ve rather neglected this blog, haven’t I?… Well, a big part of that has been due to me being struck by a particularly nasty virus in the past couple of weeks and it still hasn’t completely gone away… Aside from a heavy cough and cold, a dense fog  was also hanging over my head and seemed to be clogging up my brain – I found it really hard to concentrate on anything!

Not surprisingly then, very little writing got done and this poor blog has suffered too. Everytime I sat at my laptop, I just couldn’t find the motivation or inspiration to write more than a few lines and anything I did manage, felt laboured and clunky.

So bearing in mind that my imagination was experiencing what can only be described as a famine (sooo melodramatic!), deciding to become properly acquainted with Write Invite, may not have been the best idea. For those of you who don’t know, is a website which runs weekly competitions. Every Saturday at 5.30pm, members can log in from home, and write a story of their choice inspired by one of three given topics which change each week. You get thirty minutes, then you have to submit!

Each entry costs £4 (you can see the topics before you ‘commit’) and the prize for first place is £50. Three stories a week are shortlisted by the judge and everyone who’s joined in votes for their favourite and the one with the most votes takes the prize. The nice thing is that it’s all anonymous until after the voting is over.

I’ve known about these competitions for a while now as many of my friends in the writing community regularly take part. Always believing that I was too much of a ‘slow burner’ to do well in them, I was quite reluctant to have a try myself. But having done it twice in a row now, I have to say that I’m not only converted, but quite addicted too! And, guess what, doing Write Invite last Saturday helped clear the fog!

Something about the half hour timeslot quick-started my lagging inspiration and before I knew it, my fingers just wouldn’t stop typing! As it was my second try, I knew what to expect and was able to just write without feeling too self-conscious and worrying that every sentence was a load of rubbish. Since then, my brain has been teaming with ideas and I’ve also managed to get on with my novel. In fact, it’s hard to know what to do next!

And, the best thing is, that I got some recognition for my story this time too. Rob, who runs Write Invite sends an email out to everyone who has entered every Wednesday with a Judge’s Report and the three shortlisted stories. He also talks about what he liked in the top twenty stories and whilst I didn’t get a mention last week, tonight I learnt that my story came sixth! I’m delighted with this, and in a profession/hobby where feedback is often scarce and a long time coming, this fast turn around is especially welcome.

I can see I need some practice with putting a piece together so quickly. Both times I’ve tried it, I’ve realised too late that my stories have had a couple of typos (ouch!) but I think it’s a really good excercise to try. As a result of doing Write Invite, I now have two new ideas for flash fiction or possibly longer stories once they’re fleshed out. And of course I’m eternally grateful for being ‘unfogged!’

Good luck if you decide to have a go too 🙂

This entry was posted on January 30, 2013. 4 Comments

A Year in Books


Happy New Year! Hope you all had a really good festive season 🙂 Mine was spent with family, friends and a lot of food and drink!

Did you read any good books over Christmas? Throughout the year, I like to keep a log of all the books I’ve read. I do this partly because I’ll forget what I’ve read if I don’t and because I like to make sure that I read at least thirty books a year. As an aspiring writer, it’s very important that I keep reading a wide variety of fiction plus it’s a huge passion of mine too (always has been!).

Anyway, I thought I’d share my 2012 booklist here, with my favourites in bold type.

1. The Sirens of Baghdad by Yasmina Khadra

2. The Aspern Papers by Henry James

3. The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

4. The Running Vixen by Elizabeth Chadwick

5. Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier

6. Breathing Lessons by Anne Tyler

7. Mrs. Dewinter by Susan Hill

8. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon

9. Billy the Kid by Michael Morpurgo

10. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

11. She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb

12. Sister by Rosamund Lupton

13. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson

14. The Rose of Sebastopol by Katharine McMahon

15. The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai

16. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K Rowling (reread)

17. Jamrach’s Menargarie by Carol Birch

18. The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom

19. Stormswept by Helen Dunmore

20. The Little Friend by Donna Tartt

21. White by Rosie Thomas

22. Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman

23. Possession by A.S Byatt

24. The Casual Vacancy by J.K Rowling

25. Dark Matter by Michelle Paver

26. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

27. A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

28. After Dark by Haruki Murakami

29. Solar by Ian McEwan

30. The Edible Woman by Margaret Atwood

31. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K Rowling (reread)

(Plus many, many magazine short stories and a few very short children’s books for research.)

So, there you go! Here’s to a whole new year of reading 🙂 And writing of course. I’ve been having a good think about some writing resolutions – I’m going to keep them quite quick, simple, and hopefully realistic too…

1. To write more short stories and have at least twenty stories ‘out there’ at any one time.

2. To enter more short story competitions.

3. To have a first draft of my children’s book finished by the end of the year (that’s the big one…)

4. To read more ‘How to Write’ books.

Anyway, I wish everyone a peaceful and prosperous new year – hope it brings good things to us all 🙂

This entry was posted on January 1, 2013. 4 Comments