Friday 30 September 2011

It Started With A Kiss - Miranda Dickinson Flash Fiction Competition

Miranda Dickinson's publishers, Avon, are running a competition for the chance for you have the first 20,000 words of your novel reviewed by Miranda's editor.

To enter, you must send a piece of flash fiction, 416 words in length with the title 'It Started With A Kiss'.

Closing date is 16th October

Full details here

Good luck x

The Christmas Jigsaw Part 2

A couple of weeks ago, I posted about my nemesis, The Christmas Jigsaw, which is approaching its third Christmas without being completed. I am posting an update, more to humiliate myself into action than anything.

In two weeks there hasn't been much improvement but I WILL get there by Christmas 2011.

Wednesday 28 September 2011

Book 1 - I'm Dreaming of Chapters One to Three

Last week I thought the editing process was going slowly as I had only edited three chapters. So how do you think I fell this week when I have only just dipped the very tip of my big toe into chapter four?

Granted, the chapters are slightly different now as I have added a whole new chapter one but still, a week on and I'm pretty much in the same place. Saying that, I am quite content with the way those first three chapters are (high praise from a self-doubter). I'm sure I could find yet more improvements but for my own sanity, I must move on for now. I've spent enough time tweaking and tweaking at those chapters. If they were eyebrows, they'd be long gone by now.

My head will explode if see chapters one to three again in the next few of weeks.

Tuesday 27 September 2011

Marian Keyes & Mercy Close

Good news for 2012!

Not only is Marian Keyes back (and hopefully doing well), her new book will be released next year. And if that isn't fantastic enough, it will be another Walsh family book - woo!

At 34, Helen Walsh’s life has hit a speed bump. Her flat has been repossessed, her work as a private investigator has dried up and her lovely boyfriend is insisting on remaining friendly with his ex-wife.

So when Helen’s dangerous-but-sexy ex Jay Parker calls with a case for her, she’s intrigued. When it turns out the case involves the disappearance of Wayne Diffney, one-fourth of Ireland’s biggest-ever boy band, she’s hooked. As the Laddz reunion tour looms, Helen is drawn into a world of big hair, big mansions and even bigger egos, where everyone has an ulterior motive. But there’s still no sign of Wayne, time is running out and clues are thin on the ground...

Will she be able to crack the case and jumpstart her career? Will Jay manage to wheedle his way back into her life? And will the black dog of depression that’s been stalking her catch up with her once again?

Updated info here

Monday 26 September 2011

Amazing Grace by Clare Dowling

Grace Tynan's life is a perfect schedule of selling houses and looking after her three boys; husband, Ewan and ten year old twins, Neil and Jamie. But is Grace happy with this arrangement? The test comes when she meets Adam, a twenty year old anti-nuclear protester. With her boys in Florida, Grace is free to explore a new way of life but will she want to go back to her old life after a month away?

Amazing Grace was released a few years ago but I only discovered Clare Dowling last year so I am gradually making my way through her other books. Although Amazing Grace isn't my favourite Clare Dowling book I did find it an enjoyable and amusing read.

My favourite character was Julia as she was at an age where she could say and do as she pleased and she was also stubborn, even when she should have relented and accepted help.

My only problem is I will have to find a place to squeeze it onto my overcrowded bookcase.

Verdict: Good read

Wednesday 21 September 2011

Book 1 - Going Slowly

So the editing has begun and is proving to be a very slow process. Seriously. I've only managed to get through three chapters. How can it take longer to edit than write the bloody thing? Baffling.

I've also cut over 5,000 words already, including over 2,000 which made up the prologue. How much crap did I ram into three chapters??? There'll be nothing left by the time I've finished. Having said that, I am happy with the way it is going so far (or as happy as a self-doubting person can be). I feel I know my main character much better now than I did when I started out so can judge better how she would react to certain situations, how she would speak etc.

It was quite difficult to get back into the swing of things after our break but it has got easier over the past couple of days. Who knows, I might even pick up the pace now and get it edited by 2020!

Tuesday 20 September 2011

Newspaper Clippings

Do you collect newspaper clippings to help you with your writing? I have a few that I've squirelled away for future use. I usually spot them when I already have a story in mind rather than using them for inspiration. For example, I once cut out a house that was perfect for one of my future characters. I had an idea of the type of house she lived in and then one day I saw it sat in my newspaper.

But what do you do with your newspaper clippings? I envision pinning them to a board above my desk when I am a 'real' writer but it doesn't feel right to do that now. I don't have a desk for a start... At the moment my newspaper clippings are either stapled in my ideas book on their relevant page or stored in the pocket at the front. The clippings for my more recent projects are kept with my notes.

For me, the clippings help solidify the images in my head. Using the house again for example, I could sort of see the house before but it was a bit blurry and fuzzy in detail but now I can look at my clipping and see it properly.

Monday 19 September 2011

Pirate Cake

As it is International Talk Like a Pirate Day I have made a pirate cake. It's also my partner's birthday so that may have also been a factor in the baking...

I'm a beginner at cake-making. In fact, I haven't made a 'big' cake since the compulsary cooking classes at school. But I am proud enough to show off my cake as it turned out well (and edible).

I used Delia's recipe for the sponge.

Sift 175g self-raising flour and add 1 rounded teaspoon of baking powder, 175g caster sugar, and 3 large eggs. Add 175g of butter (at room temperature) and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla essence.

Using an electric whisk, beat it all together for around 1 minute.

Divide the mixture between two tins and bake in a preheated oven at 170 degrees for 30-35 minutes. Don't open the oven until 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven and leave in the tins for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Leave to completely cool before adding filling/decorating.

I then made a buttercream filling by beating 85g softened butter and gradually adding 175g icing sugar. Once it was beaten well, I added a few drops of vanilla essence and stirred.

I spread raspberry jam on the bottom of one cake and spread the buttercream on the top of the second and sandwiched them together.

Next I made raspberry frosting to go on top.

Beat 75g butter until fluffy and gradually add 260g icing sugar (the recipe told me much more but I found this was enough). Beat well and add 2 tablespoons of milk and any flavouring and colouring. I added raspberry flavouring and yellow colouring.

If you need to, add more icing sugar and milk.

I then added honeycomb pieces to form a 'beach'.

Lastly, I added some pirate decorations I made while the cakes were cooling. I drew a pirate, a treasure chest and palm trees, coloured them in and cut them out before cellotaping toothpicks to the back and sticking them into the cake.

It turned out really well and was yummy. Yarr!

Friday 16 September 2011

The Christmas Jigsaw

Meet my nemesis

I suck at jigsaws. Really suck. I bought this Christmas jigsaw in 2009 and started it that December. This is the progress so far. Now, i must stress that I have only attempted the jigsaw at Christmas and not continually for the past two years.

Who am I kidding? It's a rubbish effort (I told you I suck at jigsaws) but this is the year I will finish it. I have restarted in September this year to give me a good number of weeks to get it done. I even tried to rope in The Jellyfish but after a couple of sessions she asked,

"Would you mind if i said it's boring and I did something else?"

Boring? It's a Christmas jigsaw. There's nothing boring about Christmas! Even when this will be the third Christmas doing the same jigsaw...

So I have set myself the challenge. I WILL finish this jigsaw by Christmas 2011 and you will be my witnesses.

Wednesday 14 September 2011

Book 1 & Cornerstones Competition

Has it been a month already? Time has flown by since I finished the first draft of my current project and now the time has come for me to dust it off and begin the edit. Eeek! So much work ahead of me but I'm excited and it'll be great to reacquaint myself with Kate again. Not that she's been up to much in the last month.

I have to wait until tonight, when the girls are in bed, which is the only time I can write. I'll begin the baby steps again so the task ahead doesn't seem so daunting. I'm going to aim to get the first chapter done in time for this competition. The prize is a £500 General Critique of your novel from Cornerstones Literary Consultancy.

The closing date is 5th November 2011 so I've got plenty of time to work on the first chapter.

Monday 12 September 2011

Backing Up

How often do you back up your work? I'd like to say I copy over my files onto my memory stick after every writing session but that would be lying. I don't even do it after every other session. There have even been times when I have placed the memory stick next to me, ready to back up and it's only as I'm packing away my things that I see it and remember. I would like to say I switch the laptop back on and back up but that would be lying again.

The thing is, I know how important backing up is. A long time ago, I lost my work. The whole lot. I'd saved it to disk - and I mean a floppy disk - that's how long ago it was. I didn't save my work to the computer back then so the floppy disk was my only copy. One day I popped the disk into the computer but my document wouldn't open. The disk had corrupted and I had lost everything.

A floppy disk for all you
whippersnappers out there

Even remembering how devastated I'd been, I still forget to back up on a regular basis. So, from now on, I will try harder to back up. It only takes a few seconds and saves a lot of tears should anything happen to my main copy.

Friday 9 September 2011

Losing the Plot

Have you ever been mid-project and picked up a book in the shops, glanced at the blurb and thought it sounded familiar?

This happened to me earlier in the year with my previous Current Project. I'd been plodding along with my book until a trip to Asda when I'd stopped by the books section (which should be a rule of food shopping).

I slected a book, flipped it over and there was my plot; similar main character in the same marital situation, embarking on the same career change that my main character was. I couldn't believe it.

Now, I know there are only so many situations to write about and so some points will always be covered but this was ridiculous in the amount of similarity. It was practically the same book.

I was a bit gutted. There was no way I could continue without looking like a copy cat but do you know what the worse bit was? It had the perfect title, which I had been struggling with. It was simple and yet suited the story down to the ground. Why hadn't I thought of it?

I left it a couple of days, dusted myself down and got on with my current Current Project.

Has this ever happened to anybody else?

Wednesday 7 September 2011

Book Lovers Blog Hop & Book 1

Create your own banner at!

As part of the Book Lovers Blog Hop, I thought I would talk about my current project. It is currently waiting patiently on my hard drive (and memory stick, just in case) after I finished the first draft almost a month ago.

The main character is Kate and she is about to go off on a bit of an adventure after her nan accidentally drops a bombshell. She'll fall in love along the way because what would chick lit be without a bit of lust?

During the (almost) month, I have come to realise a few changes that need to be made. I am sure I will discover more when I go back to it but these have wafted into my conciousness during our break.

First of all the prologue has to go. There must have been a reason to have it, otherwise it wouldn't be there but I don't have the slightest inkling what that reason was. There is nothing in that prologue that couldn't be told in the main story. It serves no purpose so will be hoofed out (or rather recycled and used in a better way).

Secondly, Kate is supposed to be 34 but, having got to know her, I realise she is more like 28.

Ooh, she likes that. Did you hear her? No? Just me then.

Swiftly moving on, Kate is definitely not in her thirties. It means having to change a few things but it'll be worth it in the end.

There will also be less emphasis on the ex boyfriend. We're not interested in him as much as the current hunk so let's not waste our time on him. He had his time with Kate and he blew it.

So those are the main things that have popped into my mind during the break. As I said, there will be more. There is a mountain of work to do still but the bare bones of the story are there so at least I've got my hiking boots on.

Monday 5 September 2011


Today I am a proud Mama J as I have been given my first ever blogging award by PT_Writer. I haven't prepared a speech but many thanks to you. You're a star.

  1. Show your appreciation to the blogger who gave you the award by linking back to them.
  2. Reveal your top five picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
  3. Post the award on your blog.
  4. Bask in the camaraderie of the most supportive people on the internet—other writers.
  5. And best of all—have bloggity fun and spread the love.
My top five are as follows:

Debs Carr - Another writer who gives fantastic book reviews and introduced me to the wonderful Dorothy Koomson

Sarah Duncan - A published writer who takes the time to give out brilliant advice for wannabe writers on her blog

PT_Writer - Not only does she have great taste in blogs by giving me an award (I assure you I am kidding), she has a great blog and I love following her on Twitter

Virginia Jewel - The first person to follow my blog and fellow member of ChickLitters. It's great having someone else to discuss writer type stuff with

Cally Taylor - Another published writer who provides inspiration and advice to us wannabes. Even when she has a maimed thumb

Can you feel the blogging love? I feel good now. Keep blogging and writing ladies x

Friday 2 September 2011

Week 6 of the Summer Holidays

Goodbye summer. See you next year

Last post about the summer holidays. Where has August gone? And why doesn't winter pass so quickly?

Been a pretty quiet week. We did our usual monthly swim, followed by a bit of shopping. Bought the Jellyfish new shoes for school and her PE kit so that's school stuff sorted. Just need to iron and label it all now - fun times!

Bought hats and gloves for the mini ones for our holiday at Christmas.

The Jellyfish chose the Hello Kitty ones (she has good taste) while I chose Boo's because she's 2 and doesn't give a monkeys about choosing things to wear. Can't wait until our holiday - makes the onset of winter a bit less crappy.

Met my mum in Manchester on Wednesday with The Jellyfish and Boo and my sister and three of her kids. Had lunch and yummy doughnuts and the younger ones chased pigeons in Picadilly Gardens. Had a wander in the shops before stopping for a drink in a cafe.

So, I guess it's goodbye to the summer holidays and hello school. Time to adjust to our old routine again.