New Blog Schedule


Ok, so you all know I take on too much. You also all know that I’m a glutton for punishment and that I’m doing the A-Z Challenge again this year *snigger* but hell, I’m not superwoman! Lol

Soooo, during the month of April I won’t be doing my Must Do posts or Faber (we’ve only one class during April anyway) or the IWSG post. I will need my Sundays during April to research the writers I’ll be highlighting during the week ;)

I’ve also decided that as from May I will only be blogging 3 days a week. Monday will be a catch up post, what I’ve been up to, where I am with the WIP and my plans for the week. The other 2 days will be Wednesday and Fridays. Wednesdays will be random stuff along the lines that I post now and Fridays I’ll post some fiction, as I really miss writing from prompts :)

At the moment I’m feeling a bit…

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and a touch…

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and possibly a bit…

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I know you’ll all understand, and I will still be around on the other days, reading your posts and commenting (when I’m able to).

Im also considering having a break, possibly in June when I go on holiday :)

I hope you’ll stick around?

Have you ever had or considered having a break from blogging?

Fun With The Liebster


This is a loooong post….but I did have to answer 22 questions! ;)

I’ve been nominated for the Liebster Award, twice. There seems to be different versions of this floating about, so I’ll combine the two when it comes to nominating :)

Firstly, by Blackrooster for this version:

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And then by Mandy Webster at Write on The World for this version:

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Thank you soooo much, both of you! :)

So I’m sure most of you know the rules by now of these things, listing facts about yourself, but this one involves asking specific questions. I do like questions, and here I get to answer 22! Lol

Blackrooster asked me:
1. Your favorite book is… I have a couple. The first would be Wuthering Heights and my second would be Emotional Geology by Linda Gillard

2. What bugs you the most about the times we live in? Hmmm, that’s a hard one! Probably that people don’t care about each other anymore. Everyone seems to be thinking of number one, what’s in it for me :(

3. What do you love the most about the times we live in? The Internet! Although The Hubster will be shaking his head lol. Look at the people who are now part of my life who would never have been so 20 years ago. It’s brought people together!

4. Do you have a nickname, if yes, what it is? No, I’ve never really had one to be honest. Boring I know.

5. Do you have a pen name, if yes, what it is? Ahhhhh, well, I have this dream, that me and The Hubster will write a book together and then we’ll be Vikki Roberts *sniggers*

6. When did you start writing? Fiction, in 2010, when I joined a creative writing class in the September. But I’ve been journal writing for years.

7. Is the computer your friend? My iPad and my Mac are my friends ;)

8. What’s your most pronounced personality trait? Oh gawd, naivety? Trying to see the good in people when sometimes there really isn’t any. I’m too trusting and end up getting hurt.

9. When do you think robots will be “smart” enough to do our dirty work for us? Ha ha ha, I hope not, not ever!

10. Who’s the funniest person you know? Probably my daughter, her wit is so quick and sharp…I don’t know where she gets it from lol.

11. Horror or comedy? Comedy, definitely!

Mandy asked me:
1. What made you start blogging? I think I started blogging in 2004 on LiveJournal. I used it like a diary, all personal stuff, but then I stopped in 2008 and haven’t been back to it. There’s lots of stuff on there that isn’t for public consumption lol (it was friends only). One day i’ll go back and read it all then delete it. I started again in 2011 when I did an online writing course. It was their suggestion.

2. You have one month, unlimited funds, and zero repercussions; what do you do? Oh wow, now that’s hard! Lol. I would probably spend it on eating at the finest restaurants! I love food, especially gourmet stuff and of course, there would be no weight gain ;)

3. What is your Spirit Animal? (Hint: does not have to be a REAL animal). Not sure, but I’ve always been drawn to foxes. When I was a child and came face to face with my first one I was scared but fascinated. Then, about 2007 I killed two. It was awful :( I had a huge 4 wheel drive at the time and they ran out in the road. I was on my own. A woman stopped to help me, or rather comfort me as I was hyperventilating and then 2 young guys stopped and moved them out of the road. It was awful :( I guess I’ve been trying to make up for that ever since, I feed them when I can.

4. Remember that one thing you did that you hoped nobody would ever find out about? Go ahead and tell that story now? I’m pretty much an open book and believe that when making decisions, don’t do anything you’d be ashamed of later. I try to live by that. It’s really not worth the guilt is it? Ok, nearly beating (note I said nearly) my son over the head with a remote control because he’d got me so angry (he was about 12 at the time). But, like I said, I knew it was wrong, I knew I’d hate myself (not to mention how it would affect him), I knew how I’d feel so I stopped, and apologised. I just snapped. It had never happened before and never happened again.

5. If you could have dinner with any 3 people, living or dead, who would you choose?
I watched Midnight in Paris for the first time recently. Oh wow!!! So it would have to be Ernest Hemingway, F Scott Fitzgerald and Gertrude Stein!

6. When was the last time you tried something new, and what did you do? Last week I started Fasting. It was a lot easier than I thought it would be lol

7. What is your favorite film of all time? My Fair Lady

8. Favorite book(s) of all time? See above :)

9. If you could go 10 years into the past and tell yourself one thing, what would it be?
Oooooo, that’s a good one. To not take things for granted, your life can change dramatically in just one day! Oh, and warn myself about things that were gunna happen.

10. I’m thinking of taking a vacation; where should I go? Anywhere in Italy!

11. Best reason you called in sick to work, when you weren’t actually sick at all? I’ve pulled sickies, occasionally, but not for any really good reason. Usually to go to job interviews for another job lol

So my nominations are (and please choose whichever logo you want):

Janet at Postcard Fiction
Catherine Johnson
Pauline Conolly
Rebecca Bradley
Cara Thereon
Sara Flower
Mel at Feather Pens Tartan Dreams
Pam at RoughWighting
Lori at Poetry Patio
Peter Germany
Marina at findingtimetowrite

And here are my 11 questions for you lovely bloggers:

1. If you could choose a new name for yourself, what would it be?
2. What is your favourite form of exercise?
3. What is your favourite smell?
4. What is your guilty pleasure?
5. What do you wish you were better at?
6. If you had a choice (but only one), would you rather have a cleaner, a personal shopper or a personal trainer?
7. What 3 things would you take to a desert island?
8. If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?
9. If money was no object what would be the first thing you’d buy?
10. What was the last meal you ate?
11. Milk or plain chocolate?

Can’t wait to read your answers, I’m nosey like that ;)

Faber Session 28 – Notes and Thoughts


Apologies if you’ve received this post twice! In my excitement I mucked up the scheduling…. This one is the live link :)

I had a lovely day yesterday…..I went to a new cafe I’d never been to before and had a Cream Egg Brownie!

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Wandered through Covent Garden and then accidentally stumbled across the HUGEST Paperchase I’d ever seen! Three whole floors of goodies!!!!

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Well, as you can imagine, I was so overwhelmed that I came out with nothing, but, if The Hubsters reading this, I’d like a Paperchase voucher for my birthday please! Lol ;)

So last nights Faber class was the last one *all say awwwwww* Seriously, I’m quite sad :( But I can’t make up my mind if I’m a really good advert for their courses or a really bad one. I started the course with 65,000 words, by the middle of the course I had 24,000 and now I have 500! LMAO! Yeah, ok, this 500 are probably far better than the previous 89,000! My novel has gone from But Not Forgotten to The Last Word Cafe to Still and my structure has changed from 3rd person, to 1st person to both! ;)

Part of Saturdays session and most of last nights was about synopsis and pitch. We were given some examples of bad intro letters, bad synopsise and good ones. There aren’t really many tips I can pass on to you to be honest. I know, you’re disappointed right? The reason being is that our synopsises (spelling ??) are tailored to our Faber submission which will be going into the Anthology, which is then given to the agents. Last night we had to read them out and the feedback on mine was that it was too “facty” (is there such a word? Lol). I didn’t give enough information on how the past will affect the present and how my characters actually feel. Yeah, I can get that, but gawd only knows how I’m going to do it! ;)

So we ended up at the pub for a quick drink :)

I’ve got one more session at the Faber offices, a guest tutor and then we’re all meeting up (the students) a couple of times before we have to do our pitches in June.

So I guess I’ve got lots of work to do…..have to submit everything by the 19th April! *gulp*

I can highly recommend the course and Tim Lott has been a great tutor. But, it’s the guys on the course that have made it all worth while. Their advice, suggestions and support has been invaluable. I shall miss them so much.

So when I finally have my book published (notice I said when, not if) Anna, David, Gareth, Hannah, Janet, Jason, Linda, Marci, Michelle, Ros, Sam and of course, Tim, will all be in the acknowledgements :)

I hope you’ve enjoyed my little piece of Faber each week? I’ve enjoyed sharing :)
It’s been a ride, and I soooo, need a holiday! Lol….but first, there’s work to be done :)

Must Do’s 25th to 31st March


Sorry for the lateness of this post….I’m having Internet problems *mutter grumble* which should be sorted tomorrow….yeah, we’ll see!

Well, last week was a bit up and down. A mixture of highly productive and complete procrastination. On the plus side I now know all about the first ever legal brothel in America and what the expression “Bugger Bognor” means lol….don’t ask!

Highlight of the week was a luncheon on Friday with some RNA ladies :)

So last weeks list looked like this:

1. Continue to work on Still. I’ve been using prompts fairly successfully recently. To get me back into writing as I was really struggling. What I’ve been doing is using the prompts to prompt (lol) scenes for the novel, some of which will never actually appear in it. But I’ve found it good practice and its got me back in the mood. So no official word count as such, but I’ve probably written 5000 words that are fragmented scenes. I’m pleased with that :)

2. Finish 250 word Synopsis for Faber. Done, but it still needs work (thank you Jane!).

3. Do some work on the A-Z Challenge – Research. Nope, I must confess, I didn’t. No, actually that’s not true, I did have a look at some web sites, and bought a book, but that was as far as I got.

4. Catch up with blogs I haven’t read yet. I did, but I’m behind again :(

Before I forget, thank you so much to everyone who’s commented on my character sketches. It’s been really helpful to hear other people’s opinions about Laura, Ruby, Ronnie & Daniel. I’m going to print them all off and stick in my “Still Bible” :)

So this week is looking like this:

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I’m going to work on a timetable, but rather than dividing my day up, I’m going to have specific days for specific things, and see if that works lol. I’m finding that reading is taking a huge back seat and I don’t want it to :( So perhaps if I can allocate different days for different things….that might work eh? Lol….wish me luck!

So what are your writing plans for the week?

Faber Session 27 – A Sense Of Time and Place


Firstly, HUGE apologies that I’m so behind with e mails and blog comments. I was out all day Friday, then my Internet went down Friday night, and I’ve been out all day today. We’ve luckily got 2 Internet connections in the house so I’m using the boys one at the moment….Engineer coming tomorrow, but in the meantime it’s a bit up and down so please bare with me :)

I’m not even gunna begin to tell you how cold it was in London today. When I arrived at 9.10 it was snowing, and it continued to snow until about 4pm. I’m just relieved it didn’t settle, especially as The Hubster was meeting me in Covent Garden after class for dinner.

So today’s class was about “time” and “place” but we also did some work on pitching & synopsis, but I’ll save that for another day :) a really interesting session, especially with all the time frame/structure problems I’ve had with Still.

Some of my notes:

If you can, walk around the place your novel is set. Look for things you normally don’t notice, the tiny details, for example, what’s in the gutters.

Establish how important the setting is in your novel. Is it a minor character, or a major one? The bigger the part it plays, the more detail you need to add.

Don’t forget to remind the reader every so often where they are.

Use all the senses to describe a place. Even if its just a room, that room will have a smell.

Don’t use descriptive comparisons that the reader won’t understand, ie, not everyone knows what a Peony smells like, but will be able to relate to a Rose.

Compare the landscape to emotion but don’t forget if a character is describing a place, the way they feel, and the way they feel about the place will influence the words you use.

When setting your story in the past think about how society was. What they believed in, their morals. For example, someone in the 70’s wouldn’t care about the environment.

WHY is your novel set in the era it is? Do you have a good enough reason?

Be careful when using different time zones that it doesn’t end up too fragmented.

Cloud Atlas and The Hours are good examples of different time frames used successfully.

Read books, newspapers & magazines that were published the year your novel is set in.

Don’t forget that people don’t think in the present, our internal thoughts jump about between past, present and future. Use that when writing from a characters POV.

When writing a chronological story you don’t need to include every day. Jump days, months or weeks if need be.

This gave me a lot to think about….but I’d be especially interested if you guys know of any other examples of novels that use different time frames successfully?

Only a couple more classes left….I’m really gunna miss it :(

Here’s the view from my class room window today of the British Museum….

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Oh, and of course, I bought a couple of books in my lunch hour ;)

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Desperate Dan


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Photo from Wikipedia

So here’s the final character from Still, Daniel…and no, he looks nothing like Desperate above ;)

Daniel was born in November 1953 to middle class parents who lived in a semi-detached house they owned on the outskirts of Blackheath in South East London. Daniels father was an accountant, his mother a housewife. He had a younger sister who his father adored. The Hopwood’s happy family home looked from the outside perfection itself, but Daniels father was cold towards his son. He often became violent when he was drunk and used a belt to punish Daniel, often for no reason, on a regular basis.

Intelligent but introverted, Daniel didn’t mix well at school, and was often bullied. At secondary school he met Ronnie, who intervened when an older boy was picking on him and the two struck up a friendship. As an adult Daniel had convinced himself that the only reason Ronnie had rescued him was to make himself look good. Daniel would often do Ronnies homework and in return Daniel spent most of his time at Ronnies house, preferring that to being at home around his father.

With mousy hair and grey eyes he was rugged in his looks and awkward around girls. He lacked social skills and preferred his own company to that of others.

After leaving school he trained under his father as an accountant, his father’s choice, not his, and when he was 16 he was with Ronnie when they met Laura. Daniel thought at the time she was beautiful, but unfortunately, it was Ronnie who had the guts to ask her out. Daniel prayed that their relationship wouldn’t last and during the year that it did he found himself falling in love with Laura, trying to keep his distance and his feelings from Ronnie.

When Laura and Ronnie broke up Daniel began to start visiting Laura, as a shoulder to cry on, and it was Daniel she confided in when she discovered she was pregnant. With no hope of reconciliation between Laura and Ronnie, Daniel began to worm his way into Laura’s affections, and became her rock. He stood by her when she gave birth to her daughter and when he finally found the courage to ask Laura to marry him she accepted. He promised that he would treat Laura’s daughter Ruby as if she was his own, and at the time, he meant it.

When Laura became pregnant with Daniels child he began to resent Ruby’s presence. As far as he was concerned Ruby was ruining the happy life he wanted with Laura and taking up Laura’s time…time that she should be spending with him, and of course, she looked so like Ronnie. A huge argument resulted in Daniel lashing out and Laura losing the baby. They were later told that Laura would be unable to have more children. Daniel was ashamed and wracked with guilt but became even angrier with Laura, believing that she was still in love with Ronnie.

He became spiteful, aggressive and domineering, to the point where even though he knew the way he was behaving was wrong he couldn’t help himself.

Laura had a break down and was sent to hospital. Daniel was relieved that Ruby had gone to stay with Laura’s mother and during Laura’s absence he started drinking heavily and sleeping with other women. When Laura returned he tried to make amends but then his father died and all the hurt and pain of his childhood came crashing down on is shoulders.

Laura left him but he persuaded her to come back, truly believing that he would, could, change and that Laura was the only person who understood him. He tried to be kind, gentle and loving. The man he had been all those years ago, but the strain was too great. Believing that Laura didn’t love him, and wondering why she had come back, he found himself attracted to a woman at work and was making plans to leave. But Laura found out and by the time Daniel realized what a huge mistake he was making it was too late.

Laura packed her bags and Daniel knew it was the final straw and that Laura meant it. In his anger he told her that he didn’t need her and had never loved her as she left, but inside his heart was breaking and he knew that he didn’t deserve the woman he had destroyed.

So now you’ve seen all 4 sides of the story. These 4 characters have been part of my life for 2.5 years, and I just can’t let go of them. They don’t talk to me like I know some writers say their characters do, but I’m so attached to them lol

For some reason The Hubster isn’t gelling with our Daniel, but can’t say why. Is there something missing? Should he be more dislikable?

Tomorrows post will be a little bit late….as I’m up at Faber all day :)

Fruition and Why I Blog


As you know, I don’t normally post on a Wednesday, but, I have a very special reason today. It just so happens that two guest posts I’ve done recently have both gone live at the same time.

Firstly, I’m over at Mandy Eve Barnett’s blog being interviewed about my writing (she’s put me under fruition, but I can’t think why lol).

AND

I’m over at Sydney Aaliyah’s blog telling her followers Why I Blog.

Thank you so much ladies, it was fun!

A few days back Patsy Collins nominated me (thank you so much honey!) for The Reality Blog Award. The rules are, acknowledge acceptance, answer the questions and pass it on….simples :)

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The questions:

If you could change one thing, what would it be?
 Ooooo, only one? Lol ;) I wish I’d never started smoking.

If you could repeat an age, what would it be?
 Thats hard….Probably my late teens, happy days :)

What one thing really scares you?
 Dying! Not because of the pain or illness, because of leaving people I love behind :(

If you could be someone else for a day, who would it be?
 The Queen….just to see what it’s really like ;)

So I’m going to nominate:

Mandy Eve Barnett
AND
Sydney Aaliyah

Keep it real ladies ;)

Faber Session 26 – Agent & Editor Q&A


I had such a mare of a journey getting to class yesterday, you would not believe it even if I could be bothered to go into the ins and outs. But let’s just say, everything that could go wrong….did! So I ended up being trapped in St Pancras station for a while. Still, it wasn’t all bad…I managed to have my cake fix in Peynton & Byrne ;)

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An orange and plum cake that was very nice! Just a shame it didn’t come with a dollop of Mascapone on the side, but anyway, back to class.

I finally made it, having to walk about 2 miles and with drenched feet *sighs* but it was worth the struggle. Today’s guests were Mary Morris, Fiction Editor at Faber & Faber and Claire Conville from Literary Agency Conville & Walsh.

Now, you know me, I took 10 pages of notes, so I’ll just try to give you the gist of it:

Agents have become more proactive in recent years especially with editing.

At Conville & Walsh they have 1 guy who manages the slush pile and goes through all the submissions.

If a MS has a strong voice, everything else about the novel can be fixed.

It’s not unknown for Claire to work with an author for up to 10 drafts of an MS to get it right before submitting to a publisher.

The Agent will come up with the “one sell line” for the publisher. A Tagline for the book that helps with Marketing.

Claire will read 3 chapters only. If she likes it she’ll continue, if she doesn’t, she won’t read on.

When searching for an agent, look in the acknowledgements section of books you think may be a similar genre to your own.

If a writer hasn’t got it by the 4th edit, they probably never will. Agent edit suggestions are meant to inspire and trigger ideas to make the book better.

What works? How do I bag that agent? …..A wonderful MS! A strong title helps.

Have your work professionally edited, and mention that in the cover letter….it shows you’re serious about your novel.

And finally, something that I’d never heard of…..
Mary mentioned “Literary Scouts” so I couldn’t wait to get home and Google it and i found THIS! Literary Scouts let publishers know the gossip on interesting MS’s that are doing the rounds.

Do they have Literary Scouts everywhere, or is it just a London thing?

A very interesting session :)

Must Do’s 18th to 24th March


Firstly, thanks to everyone for their comments on Janes Saturday post….personally, I still can’t make my mind up ;)

It’s been a good week, the highlight being meeting up with Pauline Conolly (who was visiting from Australia) and Madalyn Morgan for lunch at The British Museum followed by cake at The Cordon Bleu Cafe :)

So here’s what I managed to achieve last week:
1. Faber homework. There wasn’t any lol. Tonight’s session is with an agent.
2. Add/do 1000 words on Still. Well, I didn’t do 1000 words, but it was about 500.
3. Do the 250 word synopsis. I now have 95 words lol
4. Catch up with blogs and emails. This is such an ongoing thing that I’m not going to add it in future. Just be aware that I am always behind :(
5. Have a play with Scrivener. Well, I did open it, did start reading the guide, all 539 pages of it! *gulp*
6. Finish my book. Epic fail :( But only because I’ve done quite a bit of writing this week. I’ve gone back to basics and been handwriting every day. It’s worked with getting me inspired again. I’ve been using the prompts to write scenes for the novel :)

Must Do’s for this week are:

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I really must make a start on the research for the A-Z challenge!

What are your writing plans for the week?

Jane Ayres Asks What if?


Food for thought from my fellow blogging friend Jane Ayres which I found very interesting considering my WIP is all about the consequences of choices ;)

What if? What then? Problem solving for writers.

Writers are constantly asking “What if?” And after we have answered this question, it then follows, “What then?” This got me thinking about the choices we make, as human beings and as writers. One aspect of writing fiction that I love is that of problem solving. We create a situation for our characters (or vice versa) and as the narrative unfolds, we have to work out how to develop and resolve subsequent events. There will be questions to pose and answer and obstacles to navigate before a satisfactory conclusion is reached. We create a series of problems which we then have to solve.

I’ve been reading a wonderful collection of essays by journalist and screenwriter Nora Ephron (who sadly passed away last year) called I Feel Bad About My Neck and Other Thoughts on Being a Woman and one of the essays, The Story of my Life in 3500 Words or Less, relates a story told by film director Mike Nichols, which he uses to make a point about a conversation they have.
I’m going to do my own version of the story (there will be many versions), but with the same outcome as the original. At the end is a question.

My version of the story:
A couple live in a remote location. The husband goes off to work and his wife takes a bus journey to the nearest town to see her secret lover. (Her husband has the car). After her illicit assignation, it’s late and she misses the last bus home. Desperate to get back before her husband discovers her gone, she pleads with a taxi driver to take her home. Exploiting the situation he demands triple the normal fare, which she doesn’t have. So she starts to walk home and is attacked and killed by a stranger.

The question is, whose fault is it? Who is responsible for her death? The woman, her husband, her lover, the taxi driver or the killer? All of these? None of these?
It’s not a trick question and there is no right or wrong answer. Everyone will respond differently. When I first saw this, my answer was immediate, my judgement instant. Then I began to think about the way choices lead to consequences. How much more information, if any, do we need to consider our response? The process of answering these questions (and the reasons we give for our answers) is both a valuable springboard for our own creative narratives, and offers an insight into how and why we engage with characters in fiction.

If you get stuck writing your short story or novel, go back and see what would have happened if your character/s had made different choices. Which in turn might change another aspect of the story. Why are they motivated to behave the way they do? What would you do if you were them? If the story then ends differently, would it have started at a different place or point in time?
Is that why we write? Because we can’t help asking questions? What if we stopped exercising our imaginations? What then?

Footnote: I’m curious – who do you think was to blame for the woman’s untimely end? Would the response change if the characters and situations of the husband and wife had been reversed?

Jane’s recent e-book, Coming Home, is available from Amazon.co.uk and .com with all author royalties going to the charity Cats Protection.

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