Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Book 2 - 70% of Book 2 and Musing About Book 3


Much of the same this week, with some good writing days and some bad. On Thursday and Friday I didn't write anything at all as my head was not in a writing place at all. It wasn't just one of my 'can't be arsed writing tonight. I'd rather watch Coronation Street' as I have those all the time but plough on. This was different and due to specific circumstances that played heavily on my mind. I had no choice but to let it pass and pick up when I felt able.

I seem to be back in my stride now and have reached 70%, which is crazy as it feels like I've only just started. In a few days I should be 3/4 of the way through the first draft. With this in mind, I've found myself musing about Book 3 and have decided what it will be (and it even has a title already - bonus). I haven't noted anything down yet as I'll do all that when I've finished the first draft of Book 2 but I have decided on the central characters (and named them). I have a vague idea of what the beginning is and an even vaguer idea of the end so it's those pesky details I need now.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

In February...




... I read:




... I reached over 50% of Book 2 (yay)

... but Book 1 was rejected twice (boo)

... It was The Jellyfish's 9th birthday so I made her a Moshi Monster cake and we went to Frankie & Benny's for tea


... I became a Great Aunt (great way to make me feel ancient, dear nephew) to a gorgeous little girl called Jasmine

... And we watched The Muppets, which I enjoyed much more than a I thought I would.


The most popular posts at the month are:


Monday, 27 February 2012

Youtube of the Month - Raggy Dolls



I've picked The Raggy Dolls theme tune for two reasons: February has seen a couple of rejections for me so I thought it was fitting. I don't mind being a Raggy Doll.

Secondly, I bought Boo a Raggy Dolls DVD for Christmas and she loves it. So much so that I have to sing the song to her every time I brush her teeth (she went through a phase of refusing to brush them and singing while we do it helps. If you hear dogs howling at around 7pm, you know why). So if I have to have the song constantly stuck in my head, you can all have it too. It's nice to share after all.

Friday, 24 February 2012

The Ice Cream Girls by Dorothy Koomson


At only eighteen years of age, Poppy and Serena were the only witnesses to a tragic event. Amid heated public debate and scrutiny, the two glamorous teens were dubbed 'The Ice Cream Girls' by the press and forced to go their separate ways and to lead very different lives. Twenty years later, Poppy is keen to set the record straight about what really happened, while married mother-of-two Serena wants no one in her present to find out about her past. But some secrets will not stay buried - and if theirs is revealed, their lives will start to unravel all over again ...


I read Dorothy Koomson's The Woman He Loved Before last year and didn't want to put it down so I decided to read another of her books and chose The Ice Cream Girls.

Like The Woman He Loved Before, I couldn't stop reading as I was compelled to keep going to see what really happened that night. I love the way Dorothy Koomson writes, so beautifully and touching. I'm not one for crying at films or books but I have to admit to having a bit of a sniffle at times. The subject matter of The Ice Cream Girls can be tough to read at times and it is definitely not chick lit but I enjoyed it and I'll be catching up with Dorothy Koomson's older books in the future.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Book 2 - The Good, The Bad & The Yummy


The Good:

I have reached 50%! Wahoo! I'm very pleased to have reached (over) the half way mark but I suspect I'm not as far on as it looks. I set my progress bar to 80,000 words because that is what I aimed for with Book 1. I finished the first draft at around 78,000 but finished the second at 90,000 and doing it this way worked for me (though it didn't feel like that second draft was working at the time). I thought I'd do the same this time round but, the way this draft is going, it wouldn't surprise me if I finished the first draft nearer 90,000 words. We'll have to wait and see.

The Bad:

I've had a bit of a mixed week again and there have been a couple of 'bad' days (of the teeth-pulling kind). The worst was Friday. I managed to force out around 4-500 words (and I mean force). In the end I decided to stop where I was and I watched Hustle instead. I don't feel guilty that I 'gave up' because sitting at the computer wasn't doing me - or the book - any good. I picked it up again on Monday and sorted out what I had attempted to write on Friday. To be fair, what I had down wasn't so bad - there just wasn't much of it.

Luckily not all the days have been bad. They've been mostly good it's just the bad ones that seem to stick in my mind.

More Bad:

I received Rejection Number Two yesterday. But, I'm pleased to report, I wasn't such a sulky baby this time and it never even entered my head, even fleetingly, to give up. I filed away the rejection letter in my Book 1 file and submitted to the next agent on my list.

The Yummy:



Pancakes! I hope you all had one (or two or three) yesterday. The Partner made ours (because I'm useless as making pancakes). I had mine with strawberry jam and sliced banana and it was yummy.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Saved by Cake Challenge




My copy of Marian Keyes' Saved by Cake arrived last week and I have decided to challenge myself to bake a different cake/biscuit from the book each month, between March and December. I am a beginner at baking and use the same recipes over and over again so it'll be nice to try something new. I will take photos and post them on here each month - the good, the bad and the ugly.

Now all I have to do is choose which recipes to try. And bake them of course...



The Challenges:

Monday, 20 February 2012

Half Term

Due to teacher training, we have one more day left of half term but I thought I would share what we have been up to for the last week (and so I can look back and wonder how I survived).



It was The Jellyfish's birthday on 11th. I'm not sure how it happened so fast but she is now nine. Nine.
I baked her a cake and decorated it with pink icing and sprinkles before adding a heart made out of chocolate beans and two Moshi Monsters figures (I cheated with this bit and bought a pack from the shop). I'd already made a banner for around the middle using Paint and google and printed out and voila! a Moshi Monsters cake.

In the evening, we went to Frankie & Benny's for a birthday tea.

The three of us did some more baking during the week. We made banana muffins and ate them when they were still warm.




On Tuesday I braved the train with the kids to visit my mum. We used to see her twice a week but she moved to Wirral just over a year ago so we don't see her so often anymore. The kids had a great time, though I'm not sure my mum's poor neighbours or the people in the downstairs flat would have.

On Saturday, The Partner took the kids to the museum, giving me some much needed peace and quiet. I went shopping and then returned home to a lovely silent house so I made the most of it and started reading Dorothy Koomson's The Ice Cream Girls.

We've watched a couple of films this week. The first was Lady and the Tramp which we watched at home with popcorn. The second was The Muppets which I enjoyed more than I thought I would.




We've had a great (and sometimes stressful - particular the train journeys) week but tomorrow we will be back to the usual routine. And the school run. Boo!

Friday, 17 February 2012

I Heart Hustle


I've watched Hustle since the first series and loved it straight away but tonight we have to say farewell as it is the last ever episode. Stacie is back to help her old grifter friends so it'll be nice to see her again (it's just a pity Danny "phwoar"* Blue won't be back as well).

Although I love Hustle, I don't feel sad that it is coming to an end. It has had a fantastic run but the latter series haven't been as good as the first ones. I still enjoyed them but it was missing something so it's better to bow out now than stretch it out until there is no magic left at all.



* Just my view and not his actual name

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Novelicious Undiscovered 2012



Novelicious.com launches writing competition in association with Avon (HarperCollins), Books and the City (Simon & Schuster UK), and Literary Agent, Diane Banks
Popular Chick Lit and Women’s Fiction website Novelicious has launched a writing competition in association with Avon Books, Simon & Schuster UK’s Books and the City initiative and Literary Agent, Diane Banks.
Novelicious Undiscovered, which kicked off on February 14th, invites aspiring commercial women’s fiction writers to submit the first 3000 words of their novel to undiscovered@novelicious.com before April 3rd.
The top twenty entries, as chosen by the Novelicious.com team, will be showcased on the site during May and put to a public vote in June. From these top twenty entries two winners will be chosen.
The People’s Choice award winner (the entry with the highest amount of public votes) will win:
  • A full manuscript critique with Avon Commissioning Editor Caroline Hogg over tea and cake in their London offices
  • A £50 voucher for writersgifts.co.uk
  • An introduction to and entry critique from Literary Agent Diane Banks of Diane Banks Associates Ltd
  • A selection of 10 Avon Titles
  • A Kindle
The Books and the City Choice award winner (chosen from the top 20 entries by the Fiction Editorial department at Simon & Schuster UK) will win:
  • A full manuscript critique from a member of the Fiction Editorial team at Simon & Schuster UK
  • Author Mentoring and meeting with Sunday Times Bestselling author of RSVP, Helen Warner
  • A £50 voucher from writersgifts.co.uk
  • A Selection of 10 Books and the City Titles

Maxine Hitchcock, Fiction Editorial Director at Simon & Schuster UK says:
“We're thrilled to play a part in the brilliant Novelicious Undiscovered competition. Simon & Schuster / Books and the City prides itself on finding new talent and in recent years has discovered wonderful new voices such as Jane Costello, Milly Johnson, Helen Warner and Ali Harris who have gone on to hit the bestseller lists. We're honoured to be working with Novelicious, such a supporter and champion of female fiction, to find potential new stars.”
Diane Banks of Diane Banks Associates Ltd says:
"I'm delighted to have the opportunity to critique the winner of Undiscovered and the option to offer them representation. A competition which is judged by readers is a promising way to discover new talent and I'm excited about seeing the shortlist"
Caroline Hogg, Commissioning editor at Avon says:
“It’s such a pleasure to be involved with the Novelicious Undiscovered competition. For years Novelicious has been championing fantastic women’s fiction and the team there sum up everything that’s best about publishing: a genuine love of good writing and the boundless energy and good humour it takes to keep trying new things. At Avon we’re always on the look-out for brilliant new voices to add to our list of stellar authors – among them bestsellers Miranda Dickinson, Trisha Ashley and Claudia Carroll – so who knows what we might find through Novelicious Undiscovered!”
Kirsty Greenwood, Founding Editor of Novelicious.com
“I am so excited to able to extend such an amazing opportunity to Britain’s aspiring writers. Novelicious is passionate about women’s fiction, and we are hopeful that the ‘Undiscovered’ competition will unearth some sparkling new talent in the genre.”
The Winner of Novelicious Undiscovered will be announced on 26th June. For full entry details and terms and conditions please visit http://www.novelicious.com/noveliciousundiscovered2012.html

For all further enquiries about Novelicious Undiscovered 2012 please contact kirsty@novelicious.com

Book 2 - Ex Husbands & Chores (or lack of)



Ooh, I am so close to reaching 50%. My writing is still going well and I've been surprised by how much I've enjoyed the scenes involving my main character's ex husband. He isn't a huge part of the book but I've loved writing the couple of scenes he's been in so far. Phil is an arsehole. He is selfish and a bit of a buffoon but he's fun to write. Wouldn't want to be married to him though.

I didn't get the chance to write anything last night as I was out all day and didn't get back until around 10pm (and went to bed pretty much as soon as I'd put my girls to bed - 4 train journeys with a 3 year old is exhausting). I couldn't help feeling disappointed. Writing can be a chore sometimes but at the moment, it is far from it. I actually look forward to 8pm when I can get the laptop out and carry on with my book.


Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Short Story: Roses Are Pink



The toaster popped, followed a millisecond later by the rattle of the letterbox. Grace hesitated for a second, butter knife in hand, as her head bobbed from the golden toast peeping out from the top of the toaster to the open kitchen door. Her eyes quickly returned to the toast. The bills could wait another minute. Her grumbling stomach was not so patient.
            She carried the plate of buttered toast through to the sitting room and settled herself on the sofa to watch a few minutes of breakfast television while she ate. Grace became so engrossed in the story of a man proposing to his girlfriend live from his sitting room that she didn’t notice the minutes ticking by. The girlfriend burst into tears as her boyfriend dropped to one knee and produced a tiny box. Grace found herself smiling as the girlfriend accepted and threw her arms around her new fiancĂ©. Despite her divorce finalising a matter of weeks ago and the hurt and misery that had been her marriage in its final few years, Grace could still feel the warmth in her chest at the romance of it all.
            The crying, hugging couple disappeared as the camera returned to the studio and Grace noticed the time in the bottom right hand corner. With a yelp, she scurried into the kitchen to dump her plate in the sink before throwing her arms into her coat sleeves. She would be late for work if she didn’t hurry.
            Without bothering to button her coat, she scuttled to the front door but had to stop to pick up the post from the mat. She would have tossed the envelopes onto the side table in the hall had the baby pink envelope not caught her eye. Grace’s brow furrowed as she abandoned the rest of the post on the table before running a finger under the flap of the pink envelope. It hadn’t dawned on her what the date was – even the live proposal hadn’t given it away – until she pulled the Valentine’s Day card out of the envelope. On the front was a little brown bear holding a bouquet of flowers at least five times his size. Grace was convinced it had been sent to the wrong address until she saw her name inside. Unfortunately it didn’t say who it was from. 
Was somebody taking the piss?
            Grace hadn’t received a Valentine’s card for years. She’d been married to Kev for twelve years and he hadn’t bothered with cards since their third or fourth year of marriage. Or romance of any description.
            Intrigued, but still running late, Grace shoved the card into her handbag and flew out of the house, half power walking, half jogging to the newsagents on the corner. She popped into the shop every morning before work and usually stopped for a chat but that morning she only had time to grab her bag of Maltesers before she half jogged, half ran like hell for the bus that was approaching her stop. Once settled on the bus, Grace slipped the card out of her handbag and felt her cheeks burn as she reread it. Did the other passengers know she had been given the card as a joke? She shoved it back into her handbag and tried to figure out who had sent it.
            Her mother? She’d sent Grace an unsigned card before, years ago, back when Grace was a teenager. Too chubby and introverted for the boys to fancy, her mother had sent the card to make Grace feel better about herself. It hadn’t worked. Grace had recognised the handwriting immediately and promptly burst into tears, feeling like the fattest loser on the planet.      
            No, it couldn’t have been her mum. Grace didn’t recognise the handwriting and her mother had promised to never, ever do it again.
            Maybe it was one of her friends trying to cheer her up after the divorce. And Grace could have done with a bit of cheering up. At thirty two, Grace was divorced from the only boyfriend she had ever had, still working in the clothes shop she had worked in since leaving school and she was still chubby.
            It had to be one of her friends. But which one? Grace discounted a couple straight away. Leah, her best friend, knew the story of her mother’s Valentine’s disaster and had witnessed the devastation for herself. Leah wouldn’t have risked upsetting her like that.  One of her other friends was on holiday in Cyprus so it couldn’t have been her as the post mark was local. Which left Annie, her neighbour, or Jade from work.
            The bus hissed into the station and its passengers spilled out. Grace hurried through the ghostly town centre, deserted apart from a couple of delivery vans. The shutters were still down on most of the shops, including the one where Grace worked. She shrugged off her coat in the staff room before racing out to the shop floor with only minutes to spare. She spotted Jade in the footwear department, dusting the shelves and ensuring the shoes were paired. When she glanced around and spotted Grace, she gave a cheery wave and tossed the duster onto one of the shelves before wandering over.
            “He didn’t get me a card,” she said as she reached Grace, folding her arms across her chest. “Can you believe it? I thought he was only pretending to have forgotten at first. I thought he must have got me something really special to go through all that ‘oops I forgot’ nonsense but he really had forgotten.” Jade paused to take a breath before continuing her rant. “Eighteen months we’ve been together. Eighteen months and he’s already forgetting Valentine’s Day. Doesn’t say much for the future, does it? What next, forgetting my birthday and our anniversary?”
            Grace waited for Jade to ask if she’d received a card while trying to keep the smirk off her face but she didn’t and the conversation moved on to last night’s telly until their supervisor barked orders at them, sending them to opposite ends of the shop. With Jade on the tills and Grace stuck supervising the changing rooms, the shop opened and Grace started to forget about the card tucked inside her handbag.
            “Any luck?” Grace asked as the curtain on one of the changing rooms swished open and a customer wandered towards her. She shook her head as she handed Grace the pair of jeans. Grace knew that look. The look when the zip had refused to move even a millimetre on the largest size the shop stocked. Grace’s heart sank almost as much as the customer’s.
            “Excuse me, Grace?”
            Grace placed the jeans on the rail behind her as her supervisor approached. She wondered what she had done to offend Lisa this time but when she turned around, her supervisor was smiling at her. Smiling. Grace had worked there for sixteen years and she couldn’t recall ever seeing Lisa’s lips upturned. It was an eerie sight.
            “This gentleman would like to see you,” Lisa said. She stepped aside with a flourish, revealing the biggest bouquet of flowers Grace had ever seen in real life. The bouquet was made up of mainly roses but there were lilies, gerberas and tulips interspersed too and each flower was pink, Grace’s favourite colour.
            Wow. They must have cost a fortune. Could it really have been one of her friends winding her up?
            Grace held her breath as the bouquet shifted to reveal a man’s face. Her stomach fizzled with the excitement of coming face to face with her secret admirer, to see who had gone to so much trouble for her. But her smile faded as a clipboard was thrust at her. It was just the delivery man.
            “Sign here, love.” His voice was gruff and he couldn’t have sounded less interested if he’d tried. He saw romance every day and had grown accustomed to it.
            Grace took the clipboard and scribbled her name. “Who are they from?”
            The delivery guy shrugged his shoulders. “It’s probably on the card.”
            Grace handed the clipboard back, exchanging it for the oversized bouquet. As soon as the delivery guy had turned his back, she snatched the little card nestled among the blooms.
            Your favourite colour
            Scent with love x
            So the pink hadn’t been a fluke. The flowers and the card had been sent by somebody who knew her well enough to know her favourite colour. She looked across the shop at Jade but her friend’s jaw had dropped to the counter as she stared at the bouquet. She was as shocked as Grace was.
            “Well? Who are they from?” Grace hadn’t realised Lisa was still hovering by the changing rooms.
            Grace shrugged her shoulders. “It doesn’t say.”
            “Oh.” Lisa’s interest visibly deflated. She wanted gossip, not a mystery. “Put them away in the staff room and hurry. I’ll supervise the changing rooms until you get back.”
            Grace filled the sink in the little kitchen area of the staff room and placed the bouquet inside with such care they could have been a new born baby having its first bath. The little card had been tucked away safely in her handbag.
            The staff room door creaked open and Grace assumed it would be Lisa, hurrying her along because she was bored of being on changing room duty already but it was Jade’s face peeking back at her.
            “Chocolate break?” she suggested.
            Grace and Jade had both given up smoking six weeks ago and had replaced their cigarette break with a chocolate one. Grace doubted substituting cigarettes with chocolate was doing their health much good but who was she to argue? They weren’t supposed to take their breaks at the same time but they usually got away with it. Grabbing the bag of Maltesers from her handbag, Grace followed Jade out onto the fire escape. It was chilly outside but not enough to drive them back indoors.
            “So?”
            Grace crunched the Malteser in her mouth as slowly as possible before looking her friend in the eye. “What?”
            “What?” Jade spluttered. “What? The flowers, that’s what. Who are they from?”
            “I don’t know. It didn’t say.”
            Jade gasped. The action caused her to choke on her chocolate but she recovered quickly. “Ooh, a secret admirer. You lucky girl. Whoever it is must like you a lot.”
            “Do you think?”
            Jade popped the final piece of her Galaxy Caramel into her mouth as she nodded. “You only have to look at the size of the bouquet to know that. They’re no four quid bunch from the supermarket. You know what they say. Size matters.”
            “Isn’t it size doesn’t matter?” That’s what Grace had always assured Kev, as though she’d know the difference.
            “I’m pretty sure it’s size does matter.” Jade winked. “It does to me, anyway.” She wrapped her goose-pimpled arms around herself. “Who do you think it could be?”
            “No idea.” Grace didn’t tell Jade she’d suspected it was one of her friends and that she had been on the list.
            “You don’t think they’re from Kev, do you?”
            Grace wrinkled her nose. “I hope not.” She shook her head. “Nah, he wouldn’t do something so thoughtful.”
            “Even if he wanted you back?”
            Grace shuddered at the thought. “Kev does not want me back.”
            “Maybe he’s run out of clean socks,” Jade suggested and they both laughed. “Seriously though. Have you been flirting with anyone recently?”
            Grace popped her last Malteser in her mouth, scrunching up the empty bag while she raised her eyebrows at Jade. “No. I have not been flirting with anyone.”
            “Are you sure? Because men don’t send flowers like that for no reason.” Jade pulled a face. “Some men don’t even bother with flowers when they’re in a relationship.”
            “I’m sure,” Grace said. “I’m useless at flirting so I don’t bother. I’d only make a tit of myself.” She shivered with the cold of being out on the fire escape in a thin blouse. The cold wasn’t worth it now the chocolate had gone. “Let’s go inside and have a quick cup of tea.”
            The day dragged by but in all the time she was at the shop, Grace couldn’t figure out who had sent her the card and flowers. She was now certain Jade wasn’t the culprit (unless she had been taking acting lessons on the sly) but that only left Annie but Grace couldn’t imagine her forking out so much money on flowers. A card was one thing but Annie was a single mum with three kids to feed.
            Grace felt all eyes were on her as she dragged the huge bouquet onto the bus. It was so big it needed a seat all to itself. She didn’t have a vase big enough to the house the bouquet so she had to split them into two vases and an empty plastic bottle with the top portion cut off. After cleaning up the snipped off stems and cellophane, she filled the kettle and popped a tea bag into a cup. Typically, it was after she had poured the boiling water into the cup that she discovered she had run out of milk. Grabbing her coat and purse, she headed to the newsagents on the corner to pick up a bottle.
            “We don’t usually see you in at this time,” the bloke behind the counter said as she headed for the fridge. Grace would pop into the shop every morning before work to pick up her break-time chocolate, stopping to chat to Joel or his niece, Olivia, when she had the time.
            “I ran out of milk and I’m desperate for a cuppa,” she told Joel.
            “Hectic day?” he asked as he scanned the pint of milk.
            “Weird day,” Grace said but she didn’t tell him about the flowers, fearing Joel would think she’d made the whole thing up. Because girls like her didn’t receive mysterious bouquets.
            She handed over the money and said goodbye before turning towards the door but Joel spoke before she had the chance to leave the shop.
            “Did you like your flowers?”
            Grace froze. Had he spotted her lugging them home from the bus stop? She assumed he must have but when she turned around, Joel’s cheeks were as pink as her own.
            “Did you send them to me?” Her cheeks burned brighter as the words left her mouth. Of course Joel hadn’t sent her the sodding flowers. Joel was gorgeous with dark, curling brown hair, navy blue eyes and a wide smile that made him look like he was constantly up to mischief. The deep lines in the corners of his eyes only added to his cheekiness and charm. Grace had developed a bit of a crush on Joel when he’d taken over the newsagents four years ago but she’d been married at the time. Besides, Joel was gorgeous and she was, well, Grace. Men didn’t fancy her, which was why she had always felt so incredibly grateful when Kev had taken her off the shelf.
            “I hope you don’t mind,” Joel said instead of laughing her out of the shop. For once, the cheeky grin had been wiped off his face. He looked nervous, almost scared.
            Mind? Why would she mind?” But why?”
            Joel’s nervous look transformed to one of confusion. “Because I like you, Grace.”
            Oh. Was he being serious? Surely not. “Really?”
            Joel gave a laugh but it wasn’t of the malicious or piss-taking variety. “Yes, really. I’ve liked you for ages but you were with Kev and then it was all a bit messy with the divorce and everything. It didn’t feel right to go wading in with romantic declarations and flowers. Until now.” His cheeky grin put in a brief appearance before Joel dropped his eyes to the piles of newspapers before him on the counter. “I thought you might like me too.”
            Wow. What to do? Should she leap across the counter and snog the life out of the gorgeous man or play it cool? Grace had never been in a situation like this before and she wondered if it would look odd if she whipped out her mobile to text Jade for advice. Yes, she concluded. It would seem very odd, especially as Joel was now watching her, waiting for some sort of response.
            “Erm, yes. I like you too.”
            The smile was back on Joel’s face but it wasn’t cheeky this time. It was… stunning, Grace thought. Could it really be true that he fancied her? Her? Grace Portman?
            “Really?” Joel asked and they both burst out laughing, breaking the tension in the room. The nerves were still bouncing around Grace’s stomach but there was also excitement and possibility thrown in there too.
            “Would you like to go out? Tonight? We could go for a drink,” Joel suggested. “I finish here in half an hour.”
            “I’d like that,” Grace replied, her stomach a cauldron of anticipation. She’d known Joel for years but she’d barely seen him on her side of the counter and never out of the shop. After agreeing that Joel would pick her up in an hour, Grace hurried home and the first thing she saw as she opened the front door, sat on the little side table in the hall amongst the junk mail and bills, was one third of the pink bouquet, which she now knew had come from Joel. She didn’t have time to text Jade to let her know her secret admirer’s identity or to ask for advice. She didn't really have time to allow her nerves to get the better of her. She had a date to get ready for.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Origins Blogfest


Today I am taking part in the Origins Blogfest in which participants blog about when their dream to become a writer began.

I've scribbled down bits of stories from as far back as I can remember. In fact, my dad once did a (now very embarrassing) video recording of the family and on one clip I am tracing and copying the words from a book I had brought home from school when I was around 5. I can remember the book - it was about a bear who puts his clothes on the wrong parts of his body.

I wrote my little stories and hid them away so my brothers wouldn't laugh at them. They did find the stories. And they did laugh. But it wasn't until I was around ten when it occured to me that I could be an actual author when I grew up.

One of the teachers at my school (Mr Perrin - best teacher EVER) took his class and the class I was in to our local library to listen to a talk a children's author was giving. I sat there, listening to this man talk about his ideas book and how he based one of his characters on a boy he had listened to in the dentist's waiting room and I thought this is it. This is what I want to do. I got myself an ideas book of my own (an old school notebook) and it has been my dream ever since. I haven't actually reached that dream yet as the only work I've had published is a poem about a fox in an anthology where pretty much everyone who sent a poem in made it into the book. But I'll keep trying.

Friday, 10 February 2012

A Kindle Romance


Amazon have a collection of Kindle Valentine's Day Reads from 99p on their website now.

Dreams Can Come True

I love reading the acknowlegements in a book. I find them inspiring as a wannabe writer but none more so than the acknowledgements in Miranda Dickinson's Fairytale of New York.
Right at the end it says:

'Dreams can come true - you're holding one in your hands right now.'

It just goes to show that writers once had a dream to be published and it can happen. Sometimes us wannabe writers need to remind ourselves of that.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Book 2 - Keep Going


After my first rejection for Book 1 on Friday, I had the fleeting thought of giving up. I think that will happen every time I receive a rejection but the important thing is to get past it and keep going. So that is what I am doing.

Book 2 is coming along nicely. I've written 32% now and I feel like I am truly in the swing of things. It all seemed a bit bland to begin with but I'm getting to know my characters better now. I can always fix the first few chapters in the second draft (I don't edit as I go along but wait until I've finished and then go back as this seems to work for me).

As well as writing Book 2, I have typed up my short story that I'll be posting on Valentine's Day. I felt guilty when I didn't open Book 2 last night so that's a sign that I've connected with it. At times, I'll use any excuse not to write!

Monday, 6 February 2012

Rejection Number One



So it happened on Friday; my first rejection. I'd been expecting it because that's what happens, isn't it? You send your synopsis and sample chapters off, you get rejected, you give up. Well, that is what used to happen to me but not this time. I made a New Year's Writing Goal to not give up. And I'm not going to.

When I first read the rejection, I had a wobble. I asked myself why I was bothering. Do I seriously think it will ever happen? I may as well just forget the whole thing.

But then I realised I was being a big baby and having a sulky strop. People get rejected every day. Even published writers were wannabe writers once upon a time and they were probably rejected along the way (it always help to remind yourself that J K Rowling was rejected numerous times before Harry Potter was published).

So I picked my chin up (and it was bloody heavy too - when I sulk, I sulk) and got my laptop and notes out. I also logged onto Twitter, which I don't normally do while writing as it's too much of a distraction but the people on Twitter were lovely and helped spur me on. I wrote 1300 words that night, which is brilliant considering a) Earlier that day I thought about never writing again b) I was also on Twitter and c) it was a Friday night.

So, sulk over, I am continuing with both finding an agent for Book 1 and the first draft of Book 2. As I promised in my New Year Writing Goals, I will submit Book 1 to the next agency on my list (I only sent a few off initially as 15 rejections all at once would be too much) this afternoon.

Yesterday I read that The Help by Kathryn Stockett was rejected 60 times. Kathryn Stockett didn't sulk and give up - she kept going until she reached her dream.

Friday, 3 February 2012

The Help by Kathryn Stockett



I heard the trailers for the film The Help on the radio a few months ago and thought it sounded like an interesting film. I was going to watch it but then I realised it was based on a book. I decided to wait and read the book first (it's best that way, in my opinion).

So I bought the book and it had been waiting very patiently on my to-be-read tower ever since. I have only just got round to reading it and I'm glad I did. Even though I didn't devour it with quite so much desperation as Afterwards, I enjoyed it just as much in a more gentle manner.

The blurb:

ENTER A VANISHED WORLD:
JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI, 1962.
WHERE BLACK MAIDS RAISE WHITE CHILDREN,
BUT AREN'T TRUSTED NOT TO STEAL THE SILVER

There's Aibileen, raising her seventeenth white child and nursing the hurt caused by her own son's tragic death; Minny, whose cooking is nearly as sassy as her tongue; and white Miss Skeeter, home from college, who wants to know why her beloved maid has disappeared.

Skeeter, Aibileen and Minny. No one would believe they'd be friends; fewer still would tolerate it. But as each woman finds the courage to cross boundaries, they come to depend and relay upon one another. Each is in search of a truth. And together they have an extraordinary story to tell...


Again, this wasn't my usual chick lit but I found it compelling. At times it was amusing, others it was heartbreaking. Other times it made me angry that such attitudes existed (and still do in some cases, unfortunately). There were three distinct voices telling the story - Skeeter, Aibileen and Minny but the changing of perspective never interrupted the flow.

As well as a great book, it was also a good tool for opening up a discussion about segregation with my 8 year old. She asked what I was reading and I explained and while it may not be a pleasant topic, I feel it's an important one.

I thought The Help was a moving and powerful book and I can't wait to see if the film.