Must Do’s 29th July to 4th August


Well, it’s been a hectic week. I met up with the Faber gang, my writing group and attended my sons graduation. Lasts weeks To Do List was fairly successful ;)

1. Sort out rewards post. Nope lol…it’s still sitting in my draft folder, I just need to do some nominations and then it will be ready to go.
2. Print out and finish critiques. Done
3. Do Artists Way stuff. I did most of what I was supposed to, but there will be some things carried forward.
4. Sort out stuff for dog training class. Done
5. Enrol on a drawing class. Ok, I’ve narrowed it down to 2 classes, but I can’t make up my mind which one to enrol on lol
6. Find out about an auction to attend. Again, I’ve done some research, found a place that looks good, now I just need to arrange a day to go lol

So this week is looking pretty ok. A couple of writing type thingys and a Boxing Day :)

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Today is the last day of the 10 Day Writing Blogger Challenge (all say awwwwww). I’ve really enjoyed it, I hope you have too :)

So what are your writing plans for the week?

Must Do’s 15th to 21st July


Well here in the UK summer has finally arrived, and as we’re all sweating our nuts off, being typical Brits it won’t be long until we’re all moaning about it *snigger* ;)

Sticking to my To Do List this week has been difficult…who wants to follow a stupid old list of stuff to do when you can sit in the garden and read? Plus, Albie’s arrival has kinda turned my world upside down and I smell of “dog” ;)

So last week this is what I was supposed to do…

1. Finish reading/critiquing Faber work for meet. Did that and had a lovely evening catching up :)
2. Decluttering/sort out hallway. Done, I had to, for Albie.
3. Take Tangled to the post office. *sighs* It’s still sitting in its envelope at the bottom of my bed…but…I’m going TODAY!
4. Clear up desk and writing stuff. Nooooo, fraid not, it was too nice outside to sit at my desk in the corner of my stuffy bedroom ;)

I started doing The Artists Way at the weekend. Spent all day Saturday having a major catch up session so I can take part in the FaceBook group I’ve been invited to join. This will be my 3rd time of doing it now and I’ve gone back to Morning Pages. Just gotta make sure it’s not a 3 page rant every morning lol ;)

So this weeks list looks like this, but I also have some Artist Way stuff to do…

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What are your writing plans for the week?

My Faber Reading


A HUGE thank you to everyone who commented on my IWSG post a couple of days ago. I will continue to write, but I’m not going to make it the entire focus of my life anymore. I need to step back, chill about it, and if I don’t write for a week not stress about it.

Ok, I’m gunna share with you the piece I read out at the Faber event. Be gentle with me, I know it’s not brilliant lol. In the anthology there is a synopsis and a 1500 extract from Laura’s journal, the one that arrives in this scene…

Ruby knew the handwriting, but didn’t recognise the post mark. As she tore open the large manilla envelope her hands shook. Inside were a black Moleskin notebook and a folded piece of pink paper, a similar shade to the fluffy slippers she was wearing. Her chest tightened as she unfolded the letter.

Dear Ruby,

I know this has probably come as a huge shock, did you secretly hope that you’d never hear from me again? I pray that’s not the case. We are so alike, you and I, stubborn to the bone and we have wasted so much time. Regardless of what you think of me, I love you, and not a day has gone by that I haven’t thought about you, worried where you were.

You’ll be pleased to know I finally summoned the courage to do what you’d been telling me to do for years. I’ve left Daniel. I walked out with a small holdall, my passport and our joint savings. I managed to find a room in a house share, which is where I’ve been for the last ten months.

I know you said when you left that you felt I had chosen him over you. That is something I’ve had to live with these past years. At first I was angry with you for saying that, but now, I think you were probably right, and it breaks my heart to admit it. How could I have chosen my husband over my daughter? I’ve been an awful mother. I don’t deserve your forgiveness, but please accept this notebook. I’ve been writing in it these last few weeks. There is so much I want to tell you.

I don’t expect your sympathy, I’m not asking you to come and see me, pretend nothing’s happened and pick up where we left off. I know it’s too late for that. But always remember that regardless of what you think of me I have always loved you and I’m so sorry for all the hurt I’ve caused. It will haunt me for the rest of my life.

I hope you are happy and having the wonderful life that you deserve.

Love, always.

Mum x

Ruby closed her eyes and slid down the hallway wall to the cold ceramic tiles, her head spinning, her breathing erratic. And that was where Sam found her, twenty minutes later, clutching her knees to her chest, the notebook on the glossy floor at her feet.

I really don’t know how I managed to read it with all the crossing outs lol

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The general consensus from my writing group was that it was a bit too “tell” which is fair enough. But how do you stop a letter being all tell, because that’s what a letter is isn’t it? Any ideas on another way I could have done it would be much appreciated :)

Time Off From The Must Do’s


There is no To Do list this week, for 2 reasons:

1. I deserve time off!

And

2. I thought you’d all want to hear about my reading at the Faber Event last Friday ;)

I was still editing my piece on the train journey up to London!

When i arrived we were offered the chance to have a practice reading with Richard Reeves (who tutored SJ Watson). So after watching a few of my fellow students go up to the podium, read, be timed, and then given tips on how to improve their readings I gave it a go. I was nervous, but it was only to be in front of a dozen students.

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My reading came in at 1.50 seconds (our time slots were for 2 minutes) and Richard said my volume was fine (he could hear me perfectly at the back). He said that I could probably afford to pause for slightly longer in a few places, but other than that it was clear and understandable. When I made my way back to my seat my hands were shaking lol.

By 1.30 the room was packed and we took our seats. The readings were in alphabetical order, so of course, I was 21st out of 23 lol….if I’d had known that I would have changed my name! I managed to take this pic before everyone arrived lol.

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I didnt hear a word the guy before me read, all i could hear was my heart pounding and then when they were clapping i knew i had to get up. I was terrified but, everyone else had done so well overcoming their nerves that i was determined to do it. I went up to the podium and said “Hello, my name is Vikki Thompson and this is the opening scene of my novel Still.” It was the only time I looked around the room until I’d finished reading lol. I wasn’t shaking when I finished, but I felt the practice run had been better lol.

After everyone was thanked for coming we got up and seriously, some of the agents made a bee line for certain students, who’d obviously impressed them. They just had to get in first!

We all congregated in another room for drinks and it was then that agents had the full opportunity to approach the students whose work they were interested in. Five people from my class were approached, two of them by two agents.

My tutor Tim came up to me and said I’d done really well, and at that moment I could have burst into tears, the relief, the build up of 6 months was just so overwhelming. He must have seen my face because he asked if I was ok and all I could do was nod lol

I don’t know exactly which agents were there, although I did see one of my class approached by a lady from Curtis Brown.

I wasn’t disappointed that no one approached me and that i didnt get the opportunity to do my “pitch”. I wasn’t expecting anyone to. My fellow students work was so much better, seriously. The ones who went away Friday with requests to submit truly deserved it….I didn’t, and I accept that.

We were given 2 copies of the Anthology. One, I got all my fellow class mates to sign (so that when they’re famous I can flog it for thousands! Just kidding, I’ll treasure it) and the other I signed and wrote a small thank you note to The Hubster, who, has been very supportive with the course and as a taxi service (Thank You!).

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The Anthology will be available on Kindle soon, so I’ll give you the link to that when I have it….just in case you’d like to download it and see my submission. My reading isn’t in there though….I may share that with you at some stage, when I’ve recovered lol

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So now what? I guess I’ll just plod on, keep learning, keep writing….it wasn’t my time, maybe it never will be (and noooo, this isn’t a self pity post, really, I’m fine about it, I’m not even upset, just proud of myself and relieved its over lol). I learnt a lot, had some great experiences, met some fantastic people and can now put on my CV Faber Graduate :)

But now, i deserve a rest, don’t you agree? ;)

Inspiring? Moi?


Firstly, a HUGE apology….I’m behind with blog reading (haven’t read any this week. But, at the moment I just can’t focus). Today, as you read this, I’ll be in London, doingl my pitch at Faber & Faber to a room full of agents. I’ve been a nervous wreck all week! Will catch up with what you’ve all been up to over the weekend, I promise :)

The lovely Katie over at The Intrinsic Writer has nominated me for the Inspiring Blog Award. Thank you so much honey :)

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The rules are:
1. Display award image on your blog page
2. Link back to the person who nominated you
3. State what inspires you
4. Nominate 5 others for this award
5. Notify said bloggers

So what inspires me?
Talking to other writers.
Art galleries & museums.
Sitting on the sand/pebbles at the beach and staring out to sea.
Walking in the woods surrounded by trees.
Using brightly coloured pens in my notebooks.
YouTube!
Visiting historic houses.
Sunny days.
Natalie Goldberg, Judy Reeves & Julia Cameron.
Reading great books/writers.
New experiences.
People watching in coffee shops.
Great cpnversation.

The blogs I nominate for this award are:
Sarah Potter
Linda King
Edith at In A Room Of My Own
Sara Kjeldsen
The Write Romantics

Then the wonderful Rustic Recluse nominated me for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award….thank you :)

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This one is where I have to state 7 things about myself, but, I’m gunna ask you guys to do the work…..Ask me a question…if there’s more than 7 I’ll still answer, promise ;)

And the 7 bloggers I nominate for this one are:

Rose Anderson
Magdalena Vandenberg
Nicky Wells
Karen at Karcherry
Catherine Johnson
Debbie at The Wicked Queens Mirror
Sue at Sassy Speaks

Please take a moment to check out all these wonderful bloggers. Now, who has the first question? Ooooo, I’m nervous lol

The Power Of Knowledge


When I finished my Faber course back in April one of the last things our tutor said was, don’t enrol on anymore writing classes, just get on with it now, and WRITE!

Initially I thought, yeah, great advice….like Nike says “Just Do It!

But then a couple of weeks ago I heard an interview on the radio with Tracy Chevalier (who wrote Girl With A Pearl Earring) where the interviewer asked her why she had decided to go down the Creative Writing MA route rather than just write. She responded by saying that she felt she needed the structure and instruction that a course like that gave her.

I was already thinking what the hell was I was going to do after Faber and Tracy’s words really struck home. I think I’m quite a lazy writer, no, perhaps not lazy, oh what’s the word? I’m the type of writer who needs a push. When it comes to a choice between the carrot and the stick I probably respond better to the stick, that’s for sure. I suffer from huge motivation issues.

Sooooo, after hearing what Tracy said I went straight online and looked up writing courses. I still have so much to learn (I feel) and as I’m a member of 2 writing groups I don’t feel that I’m lacking in contact with fellow writers, so I was looking for something I could do at my own pace, at home.

I’d seen adverts for The Writers Bureau in all the writing magazines. I know people who have done the course, and I even know a couple of writers who tutor for them. So I signed up for the Comprehensive Writing Course and my pack arrived last week :)

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I’m a big believer in learning as much as I can about writing, but I know at some stage my Faber tutor is right, but I don’t feel I’m ready to let go of learning, just yet….So when will I know I am?

Must Do’s 10th to 16th June


This past week has been hectic. I’ve got a couple of things going on at the moment that are rather exciting, but I can’t say much more, now, because I don’t want to jinx it ;) Will tell you soon though, I promise!

The problem is, I’ve had so much on my mind this past week, and because of that I’ve found it really hard to focus. Still been writing everyday, just not doing the things I should have been doing *frowns*

So the list last week looked like this:

1. Submit 1st assignment to Writers Bureau & start 2nd. Nope *deep sigh* but I did work on it.

2. Continue to work on Faber 25 word pitch & reading. Yep, but it’s still not finished.

3. Edit at least 1 chapter of Tangled. Nope, but I’ve decided to send it off to the RNA in first draft form.

4. Declutter the dining room. Started….it looks even worse now than before I started lol

5. Sort out outfit for Faber event. I have decided what I’m going to wear. I don’t want to look too posh lol….so I’m just going to go as me! I will need a new pair of shoes though.

6. Look at Adult Ed classes for September. Nope, but, there is a good reason why I didn’t do that….I just can’t tell you about that at the moment lol

Sooooo, a disappointing week, but I guess I should have known that I wouldn’t be able to focus. The Faber event where I have to read in front of 30 agents is this coming Friday (14th) and the nerves have set in already. I’m feeling a bit stressed and looking at my diary for next week it’s no wonder lol

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I’ve tried to keep my To Do List very simple this week because I feel that anything I add won’t get done anyway lol

So what are your writing plans for the week?

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 :)

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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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 :)