Beautiful Blogger = Beautiful Books


Happy Halloween by the way :)

I’ve been nominated by Pat Wood and by Marina at Writing is Hard Work for the Beautiful Blogger Award :) Thank you both, so much! :)

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So the rules are that I share 7 things about myself and then pass this award on…. Ok, well, you know me, I do like to break the rules, so, I’m going to recommend 7 books that I think should be on every writers book shelf :)

I apologise now that all these links are for the UK.

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The Artists Way by Julia Cameron is the book that started me on my writing journey.

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The Writers Book of Days has been brilliant. I can’t tell you how much I’ve loved this book! It’s been my bible and constant companion since the 1st January of this year. It has encouraged me to write every single day and I will feel bereft without it come the 1st January 2013

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The 5 Minute Writer by Margaret Geraghty was the first ever “writing” book I used. I loved all the exercises, and the concept that you only need 5 minutes.

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The Writers Treasury of Ideas by Linda Lewis is fabulous for generating story ideas. Trust me, if you have this book, you will never be stumped for a story idea, ever again!

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Writing Down The Bones by Natalie Goldberg. I’m reading it now and loving it! Actually, any Natalie Goldberg you can get your hands on is a great investment.

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If you’re into writing romance you can’t go far wrong with Mary Wibberly’s To Writers With Love which, unfortunately is out of print now. It’s a little bit dated, but still very valuable. I love it! We said to Mary at Swanwick in August that she should urge the publishers to republish it. We’ll work on her next year ;)

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Last, but by no means least (and for all you Kindle lovers) The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi. What can I say about this book….BRILLIANT! I am almost tempted to tell you to buy a Kindle for this book alone! But it’s fine on an iPad, or PC/Laptop. An invaluable guide for all fiction writers :)

So there we have it. My top 7 writing books :) I’m sure there are many other great books out there, but these are the ones I own and love :) If you have a favourite writing book that’s not on my list please let me know, I’m always open to recommendations. *whispers* I can hear hubby grinding his teeth and thinking more books…more money he he he ;)

Now, onto the nominations! :)

I’m going to nominate…..
Heather James
Marina at Finding Time To Write
Bridget Whelan
Bel Anderson
Debbie at The Wicked Queens Mirror
Katherine at The Intrinsic Writer
Lanise at The Timekeepers Journal

Please check out all these lovely bloggers :)

Sooooo, tomorrow is the 1st of November *gulp* and the start of Nano!!!!! Good luck to everyone who’s participating! :)

Faber Session 4 – The Psychology of Writing


Just got back from a cold, wet and dark Bloomsbury.

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I took shelter in the BM but eventually had to resort to getting the brolley out lol. Standing at the entrance watching the rain pour down I looked up….

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What a fabulous building The British Museum is….but I wonder how many people actually notice as they rush in and out, intent on seeing the Mummies or the Rosetta Stone ;)

Anyway, where was I? Ahhhh, yes, tonight’s class :)

Ok, tonight’s session was taken up with Psychology. Interesting stuff about our writing coming from the unconscious mind. We talked about motivation, guilt, support, endurance, confidence, fear and patience.

I guess the two that struck a cord with me most were “guilt” and “support” really, as they kind of go hand in hand IMO.

Support: I feel incredibly lucky that I have the support of my other half with my writing. Now, that maybe because he wants me to hurry up and write a best seller so he can give up work, but we won’t dwell on that ;) Seriously, does he have a choice? I guess so, he could sulk, make life difficult, moan at me….But perhaps he just knows that for a peaceful life he has to accept my writing time? I’m not the sort of girlie who will stop doing something I love because hubby don’t like it. But then again, he ain’t the kind of guy to stop me doing something I love. Give and take? Definitely! Mutual respect? Oh gawd yes! Our tutor was saying that most writers lack support. That’s sad :( And if that’s you…. (((((hugs))))) but, he then went on to say, that if that is you……BE TOUGH! DEFEND YOUR TERRITORY! :)

Guilt: Ok, so I have support…..so why do i still feel guilty? Guilt if the washing piles up, guilt if I’ve not been shopping and not cooked dinner, guilt if the house is a mess (and beleive me, the house is a total mess at the moment)….But the major guilt for me is the fact that i don’t work, don’t bring any income into the house :( Our tutor talked about writing feeling “indulgent” and I knew exactly what he meant. I can kind of justify my writing time, but what I can’t justify is sitting and reading. How can I do that when I know we’re down to our last toilet roll and that hubby will be home soon hungry and tired? I hate it, I really do, and that’s why I don’t read other than when I go to bed and I’m exhausted, and then I don’t benefit from it anyway *deep sigh* :(

I don’t know what the answer is. Tim (our tutor) says its one of those parts of writing that we have to get use to, deal with. And I’m trying, I really am….. Perhaps I’ll feel better when my writing actually brings in an income? ;)

How’s support & guilt for you? Is it more relevant to female writers? Especially those with children? Would love to hear your views.

The To Do List 29th October to 4th November


I’m not too sure how these “to do lists” will work during November, so I guess we’ll just have to see.

How did I do with last weeks list?

1. Continue with Faber homework. Done! Although I didn’t do the 5000 words, but more on that later.

2. Do synopsis for writing group. Ummmmm, pass…..I’m not sure you can do one if you don’t know how the story will end lol.

3. Change Faber piece from 1st person to 3rd person. Done! Still don’t like it! Lol

4. Finish current read. Nope, not read much fiction this week :(

5. Make some decisions. Done! And feeling much calmer lol

So this week see’s the start of Nano *gulp* and I’m not exactly practising what I preach ;) I’m still not 100% sure which WIP I’ll be working on lol. I don’t want to end up one of those writers who has a drawer (metaphorically) full of unfinished manuscripts, if you know what I mean lol.

So the options are:
A rewrite of But Not Forgotten
Continue with The View Outside
Start Sorrento Sunrise

I’ll probably decide the night before *snigger*

So on to this weeks list…..

1. Faber homework etc Always takes priority!

2. Look at But Not Forgotten and decide which 5,000 words to submit.

3. Start Christmas shopping. Yes, I know it’s not writing related, but the quicker I get it done the better ;)

4. Stock freezer for bad weather. Apparently, we’re due some major snow this year in the UK….great :( Let’s hope it doesn’t affect my retreat or my write ins!

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Good luck to all my fellow Wrimo’s. I’m afraid, those of you not taking part might find this months blog a bit boring (lots of Nano talk). So I apologise in advance :) I might get a bit behind with commenting on your blogs too….perhaps I can just give up sleeping ;)

Off to Faber tonight!

So what are your plans for the week?

Targets and Goal Setting


No Six Sentence Sunday this week as I’m doing a blog swap with Jane Ayres. Jane had her first short story published at the age of 14. Her 30 books for children and teenagers have been translated into 7 different languages, and she has just released 3 of her popular titles as e-books to raise money for Redwings Horse Sanctuary.

Her trilogy of Matty Horse and Pony Adventures books for pre-teens and teen (and nostalgic older readers) are available for Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk. To find out more go to Jane’s Blog

In light of Nano next week (and you know how passionate I am about my Monday To Do List), Jane has written an article for me about Goal Setting…..enjoy :)

Targets and Goal Setting

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Setting unrealistic targets and then beating yourself up when you don’t achieve them. Does that sound like you? That’s what I do. I wouldn’t recommend it, but it seems to be ingrained into my thinking. Especially when it comes to writing.

Whether it is the number of tasks I want to complete or simply achieving a daily word count, I always veer towards a challenging target. I sometimes wonder if being so hard on ourselves is the bane of writers and creatives, because we often have perfectionist tendencies when it comes to our work.

So why do we do it? Do we enjoy putting ourselves under pressure? Does it reap better results?
Some writers do indeed thrive under pressure, so writing to a deadline can be beneficial. Until recently, I was one of those writers, but as I get older, I find this approach doesn’t always succeed. I wonder if this is part of the ageing process? Or maybe I’m rebelling against my self-imposed work ethic? Why not just meander through the day and see what happens? The idea appeals but I’ve never actually put it into practice. And like most writers, I’ve always had a salaried job that writing has had to fit around, so a disciplined routine is essential.

I’ve always been goal oriented, and it’s hard to switch off learned behaviour reinforced over time and by repetition. I like to have lists and work my way through them (or not). It is satisfying ticking off a task completed. I usually start the day checking my multi-coloured post-it notes, which are distributed all over the house. But by the time I have ploughed through one list, I am already creating another and the process becomes an eternal quest.

Having a target to work towards can definitely be a helpful focus for your writing. Whether this is a personal goal to complete a novel or short story for your own satisfaction, or to meet a deadline for a publication, or a competition entry, or to write a regular blog or daily diary entry, what matters is that the target is realistic and achievable, because if not, it can be very de-motivating. This might sound like common sense but I think we can all be so influenced by images and perceptions of what other writers are doing and achieving, that we judge ourselves harshly if we “fail” to meet these standards. Be inspired by other writers but don’t use their success to beat yourself up. Writing is a personal pursuit and what’s right for one writer may not be effective or productive for another.
Know what you need to work on – with me, when I set a target I usually underestimate how long it will take me to complete the task and get over-ambitious, then end up rushing to finish something. (Vikki will testify to this – she had her blog post done and sent to me well before our deadline, whereas mine took longer than I anticipated!) You need to build in time for reflection and editing, so decide how much time you need and double it. Then set your target.

I remember from a business course I did once that goals should be SMART, which, if I recall correctly, stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-based. This does make sense, and is helpful when we set targets. I do try to apply this to my writing goals. Try being the operative word here! So for a novel, your target might be to complete the first draft of a chapter, which might comprise 4000 words, in a day. But remember this has to be achievable and realistic. In my twenties, I could easily write 2 chapters a day and on a good weekend, I managed 15,000 words. Now I struggle with 1000 words a day. I think targets should be reviewable, and flexible. If the novel writing isn’t going well, then take a break and work on something else, like an article, a blog post, forward planning or marketing. That way you will still feel you have achieved something substantial, even if it wasn’t what you originally planned.

It would be interesting to know how other writers use goals and target setting to increase their output effectively. If you have found a technique that works well, or you have useful tips to share, or if you simply work better without goals and just go with the flow, I would love to hear from you. In the meantime, I will continue to litter the house with pretty-coloured post-it notes…..

Please pop over to Janes Blog to see my Article – 10 Places to Find Nano Inspiration

Faber Session 3 – Kidnapping A Character (or permission to stalk)


I never thought when I arrived at class this morning that I’d be asked to do some stalking lol

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The ground floor Faber hallway.

But that’s exactly what Tim asked us to do today. We had an hour and a half this morning to go out, find a character (somebody we found interesting), and follow them. We had to make notes on their clothing, the way they walked, talked (which meant if we had to resort to asking them directions so be it!), what they looked like…. Everything we could possibly observe about them, to build up a picture.

I found a guy in the British Museum who walked in a very distinctive way. I followed him and his family around the museum, out to a book shop, and then through the streets until he got into a taxi. I learnt his name, who the other members of the family were, plus got most of the physical details Tim was looking for.

When we got back to Faber everyone admitted they had initially been apprehensive about the task, but most of us had loved it. It was really good fun! One girl even got on a tube to follow her character! There’s dedication!

Tims advice had been “try not to get busted” ha ha ha! And there was me wearing a bight red coat! Lol. I’m sure my guy was thinking “why is that woman in the red coat everywhere I go?” ;)

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My classroom

The afternoon was spent doing work on our characters, including pairing up and creating scenes where our characters met for the first time.

So I had a good day, which included Sushi from Wasabi mmmmmmmm :)

Back home relaxing now….I’m shattered :)

I just can’t wait to go stalking again :)

Would you do it?

Want To Be A Productive Writer?


Would you consider yourself a productive writer?

I know I’m not! :(

A productive writer has to tip the scales towards being selfish. OUCH! That hurts doesn’t it. Selfish? Moi? No way! Yep, I’m afraid its the only way you’re gunna up your word count. You need to discover all those things that prevent you from writing and try to figure out how you can turn your writing enemies into your writing allies :)

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Courtesy of kittisak/freedigitalphotos

In the first session of my Faber class we were asked to write down two lists. A list of our writing enemies (those things that stop us writing) and a list of our writing allies (those things that help us write). Here’s my list…

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It was all going well until my pen hovered over the paper when I thought about my blog. I still can’t make up my mind what side of the list it should go on lol ;)

So now I have to figure out exactly how I get all those things removed from my enemies list and the only thing I can think of is to move into a hotel with no WiFi connection. Not really a practical solution is it? ;)

I guess identifying the problem areas is a start. Knowledge is power right?

But the question remains….what side does my blog go on? Who are your allies and enemies?

ps…..tomorrows blog post will be a little later than usual as I’ll be at Faber :)

What Sacrifices Do Writers Have To Make To Succeed?

Super Sweet Blogger!


Yep, that’s me, or so says the lovely Patsy Collins whos nominated me for the Super Sweet Blogging Award! Thank you so much Patsy :)

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I get to answer some nice questions (my mouth is watering) and then pass it on, so here goes:

1. Cookies or cake? Cake, definitely!

2. Chocolate or vanilla? Vanilla

3. What is your favourite sweet treat? Ooooo, Curly Wurly’s or chocolate coated peanuts lol

4. When do you crave sweet things most? In the evening after dinner ;)

5. If you had a sweet nickname what would it be? That’s a hard one….It has to be “Plum” because I use to have my hair that colour and I love Christmas Pudding. Of course, there is the Victoria Plum connection too ;)

So now I’m going to tag 5 sweet bloggers :)

LouAnn at On The Homefront
Sabrina at Creativity or Crazy
Bridget Straub
Ava at Journey of Jordanna East
Sara Flower

The Secret to Generating New Ideas is Streetcombing


An e mail recently from Daring to Live Fully had me jumping up and down! Ok, not literally but you get the gist ;)

The post talks about “Streetcombing” a system created/developed by Richard Stomp which is based on beach combing. Remember beach combing? You must have done that when you were a kid, hell, I still do it now! ;)

Anyway, it’s aimed at the business world, but in my opinion, it works very well for us writers. But I’m afraid you will need to actually go out. That’s right, leave your desk! Yeah, I see ya, looking out of the window and shivering (well, thats you and me both here in the UK!). I wish I’d stumbled across this in the summer, sorry about that, but, if I’m game, I hope you are :)

So once you’ve put your jumper on, got your brolley, get your camera and we’ll begin :)

1. Go for a walk. Find an interesting street, preferably one with shops on.

2. Watch for anything that catches your eye. Have the mind of a child, be curious in everything.

3. Take photos of things you find interesting. Take lots of photos. Don’t ask yourself why you’re attracted to taking the photo of that old milk crate, not yet.

4. Go home, have a nice warm drink and upload your photos to your PC.

5. Look through the photos and ask yourself the following questions of each one:
What is the concept behind this photo?
Why did I take it?
What makes it interesting?

6. Take the concept you found and use it to start generating ideas, orrrrr for us writers, use the photo itself to generate a story/character idea.

If you’re not too sure what Mr Stomp means about concept, watch this video. It’s only 7 minutes long. I found the sound to be very quiet so you might have to max your volume.

Mr Stomp suggests you do this once a week, but I’m thinking once a month would be better for me :)

Right at the end Mr Stomp says that the idea could be adapted into “Museumcombing” or “Supermarketcombing” etc. I’m just loving those ideas, the possibilities are endless!

So I will be Streetcombing at some stage when this rain stops (and after Nano lol) How about you? Fancy it?

Faber – Session 2 Creating Ideas/Planning


I arrived in Bloomsbury with plenty of time to go to the London Review Bookshop. I discovered last week that they have a cafe (oooooo), but as I started the diet (again) today, it was just a Latte and a writing session. The cakes looked amazing though, I have to say *pouts*

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A quick butchers around the shop (oh dear, how did that Philip Roth find its way into my bag?) and it was off to class :)

Really enjoyed last nights session/class :) We talked about planning, our concerns (mine was/is endings lol) and we were sent away with the first piece of work (by a fellow student) that needs critiquing :) Ive got a date for mine now…. 26th November, which means I have to actually submit it the week before *gulp*

We talked about different methods people use to plan their novels. Tim is in favour of index cards, but also gave us some tips on what files he uses on his computer.

We did a couple of writing exercises (a quick synopsis and a descriptive piece) and some free writing. I was shocked that some of my fellow class members had never done free writing before.

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So in the way of homework this week i have to read and critique my fellow class mates work, read the 2 handouts, and do a bit of research on some of the books that came up in the discussions (fiction and writing guides).

Ok, but I bet what you really wanna know is what exactly I’ll be submitting?

Well, I spoke to a fellow student in the break who gave me a bit of advice (on whether to use a new novel or one I’ve got further on with) and then I collared Tim as we were packing up. And the news is….. Tim advised me to compromise lol (actually I had to twist his arm up his back because initially, he refused to comment saying that he couldn’t make that decision for me….but i persisted lol). The plan is to submit 5000 words, 1000 of those being a synopsis, of……But Not Forgotten, and let my class mates give me an opinion, on whether they think I should continue with it…scary huh? If they think its a no goer, as my second piece, submit The View Outside. I told him that But Not Forgotten is a mess, not finished and that I’ve lost heart. He said that all that can be sorted, and that after the critique, I’ll have a much better idea of where I’m going.

So I guess I’m feeling relieved :) But, still a little anxious. I’m going to change The View Outside into 3rd person, see how that feels and then quietly work on the synopsis for But Not Forgotten.

The question is…. Do I write the synopsis using the exact same messy plot that it has now? Orrrrrr come up with a new one?

I dunno, I don’t make things easy for myself do I? Lol

The To Do List 22nd to 28th October


Last week was a stressful week. Have I ever said writing is easy? I hope not, because, trust me, it isn’t lol. I’m always as honest and open with my readers, so can I just say that this week sucked! lol.

I needed to start writing my piece for the Faber course, I asked everyone’s advice, made a start, got to 2321 words then had a major melt down :( I’ve written it in 1st person and I’m just not gelling with it. Perhaps I’m a 3rd person kind of girl? Perhaps it’s the wrong thing to write? Perhaps I’m over thinking? Lol. I dunno….but what I do know is that this writing malarkey is hard work! :)

So, how did I get on with last weeks list?

1. Faber homework. Well, I’ve made a start, but, it’s not going well :( I read all the handouts and made some notes. I’m beginning to wonder if starting a new novel from scratch was a big mistake.

2. Finish reading current book. Nope, in fact I haven’t done much reading at all this week :(

3. Get out winter clothes and boots. Done! But I’ve not put the summer stuff away lol

This weeks list…

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1. Continue with Faber homework. We’ll probably get more handouts tonight.

2. Do synopsis for writing group. For which novel? I seem to have 4 now lol

3. Change Faber piece from 1st person to 3rd person.

4. Finish current read.

5. Make some decisions. Yeah, my brain aches. I seem to have two WIPS, Nano looming, and it seems my tutor liked the piece I submitted to Faber in the first place.

Going tonight, so might have a chat to him, see what he thinks :)

What are your writing plans for the week?