The Magic Of Swanwick


Firstly i must apologise for my blog absence recently. Health issues, along with an overwhelming sense of “i Just Don’t Know What To Say” Syndrome have hit me hard. Thanks to the 100k Challenge, I’m still writing, daily, and hoping that some of it, at some stage, might make it into the novel.

But why I’m really here today is to record/share my thoughts on Swanwick 2014…

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RNA NWS Feedback


I was absolutely thrilled when I returned home from Swanwick to discover a large envelope had arrived which The Hubster left on my desk. He hadn’t let on during the week that it had arrived, but only because he didn’t realise what it was. I’m glad he didn’t tell me as I would have been begging him to open it lol.

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Sorry, for those of you new to my blog I’m a member of the Romantic Novelists New Writers Scheme. You send them an MS and then an anonymous reader gives you feedback. The readers are all full Romantic Novelist Association Members.

In my cover letter to my anonymous reader I explained that “Tangled” was in first draft form (I haven’t even reread it all the way through since I wrote it) and that I really didn’t have a clue where to start editing. Also, that I needed guidance on whether it was too “thrillery” to be considered “Contemporary Women’s Fiction” and I got my answers on both those questions….

The first sentence of the feedback cheered me up! My reader said “This has an interesting story line with a good twist at the end so that it possibly has the potential to become an exciting novel.” So far so good I think ;)

As regarding genre, my reader said “…the opening is exciting and shocking and quickly draws the reader in, leading to the expectation that some kind of thriller will follow. It would be worth considering therefore that the whole book should be developed as more of a thriller, by adding more suspense, intrigue and tension…. Hmmmm, ok, so it’s not a romance lol… I suspected as much.

She went on to write at least 1 paragraph of feedback under each of the following headings:
Genre
Beginning
Setting
Characterisation
Show not Tell
Meaningful Scenes/Dialogue
Pace
Emotional Tension and Suspense
Presentation – Layout/Punctuation
Synopsis
5 pages in all of feedback, mainly consisting of details where I could expand, scenes that don’t work, areas to work on and a good luck message at the end.

There was one thing that my reader said that I’d like your opinion on (I’m going to be asking everyone and his dog about this now lol). She suggested that i get in early details of the ages of my main characters because she thought the names Anna and Tim could suggest much younger characters (in my mind Anna is 48 and Tim 10 years older).What do you think? I don’t know anyone under the age of 50 called Tim. Would love your views.

On the whole I’m really pleased and would like to say a HUGE THANK YOU to my anonymous reader. Her feedback will be invaluable when I start editing :)

I can highly recommend joining the New Writers Scheme if you’re thinking about writing romance. Perhaps I should find out if there is a “thriller” scheme I could join instead now ;)

The 30 Day Writing Challenge


Well, I’m still recovering from Swanwick and have lots to think about over the coming week. What way to go with my novel “Still” and exactly how to go about implementing all the suggestions given to me on “Tangled” by the RNA.

You may remember recently I said I was bored with my blog? Well I did lol….but I’ve stumbled across Chrys Fey’s 30 Day Writing Challenge and I’m going to give it a go :) I won’t be doing the whole thing over 30 Days though, I’ll probably post a couple a week and in the meantime there won’t be a To Do List on Mondays…all say awwww.

Speaking to Kate McCormick last week she was telling me about her daily writing schedule. Kate works on different projects throughout the day and allocates time slots for each one. Even if shes really getting into something and comes to the end of the time slot, she stops.

I’m not sure my weekly to do list is working for me anymore. I think I need to do one every evening, plan what needs to be done the following day, as I’ve been finding that I’m crossing less and less off the list lol.

These are the things I need to do every day and that’s not including the food shopping, laundry, errands and general ‘housey’ stuff!

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Perhaps I’ll have to split the week up and work on the novels on separate days?

Today I’m off up to London to meet a fellow Blogger for lunch (very exciting!) and then I’m off to a Faber group meet. As usual, it’s all go ;)

Any tips/suggestions on a daily writing schedule would be much appreciated! I just don’t seem to be able to focus these days.

Reflections on Swanwick #Swanwick65


Well I’m home! Lol

As you can imagine this past week has given me a lot to think about, and when I got home my feedback on “Tangled” from the RNA New Writers scheme was sitting on my desk. I haven’t had time to go through it all yet, so I’ll post about that next week :)

So where do I start?

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I love Swanwick, but it’s always nice to get back. I’m a real homebird at heart and I feel incredibly lucky when I hear writers at the school say its so nice to be around people who they can talk to about their writing. The Hubster is very supportive and I realise that there are many writers out there who don’t have someone who is prepared to read their work out loud to them (for example) to help edit it.

I really do value every moment I’m there, but, it is incredibly exhausting and it’s only a couple of days before I start falling asleep in lessons :( (my apologies to any tutors who may be reading this who noticed me dropping off). I’m ok if I have to participate, but if I’m listening to a talk, it doesn’t matter how interesting it is, I’m dropping off (this is what happens when you only have 5 hours sleep a night!). I think the only night I was up past 11pm was on the Buskers night! :( Even if I do stay up, I’m still up between 5 and 6 so even more nodding goes on the next day *sighs*

Being a Steward the past couple of years I find myself talking to lots of newbies, aka “white badgers” and I was amazed to hear this year the amount of people say they will be back next year but will only do 2 or 3 days, because…..it’s exhausting. One lady said to me that she couldn’t afford Swanwick and a holiday, so this was her holiday this year. She was disappointed that she didn’t get any free time, and felt a complete wreck! Yes, I know we always say…. “you don’t have to do everything on the programme.” But, unfortunately, there is always so much great stuff to do you can’t help yourself.

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See what I mean?

A couple of people suggested to me that dinner should be an hour earlier (at 6) and hence all the evening events an hour earlier. One lady said she was disappointed that she hadn’t been able to take part in the Buskers night because it was just too late after a full days worth of dashing about. I’m wondering if we could just have 1 lesson in the morning and 1 in the afternoon? I know a lot of people want to get the most out of their time there, but, if it means newbies aren’t coming back because they know how rough they will feel for a week afterwards, is it worth it? Another lady said to me she would have liked to see “Time for you” on every single day, for at least an hour. Perhaps getting rid of the 1 hour workshops at 4pm is the answer? Is there only so much information you can take in before you start to go brain dead?

I dunno, I’m not a committee member, so who knows what next year will bring. I just hope all the people I spoke to will write their thoughts on the feedback questionnaire that we hand in at the end of the week. It will be interesting to see what transpires….

As for me, I’m slowly recovering (it usually takes me about a week) and the weekend will be spent unpacking and wading through the washing (mine and the stuff the family didn’t get around to doing) and catching up with your comments, e mails, Twitter and Facebook. I’ll start wading through the backlog of Blogs I need to read starting Monday :)

So a HUGE thank you to this years committee, who work tirelessly to make Swanwick – The Writers Summer School what it is. It was great to meet up with people I haven’t seen for a year, and meet others who I hope to see next year. I can’t imagine not attending Swanwick and now begins the 11 month count down *sniggers*

Swanwick Day 6 – #Swanwick65


What can I say about last nights speaker, Curtis Jobling?That guy has so much energy it wore me out just listening to him!

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If you’re into YA and fantasy you have got to check out his Wereworld series of books, but, if you just like to be tickled, perhaps Curious Cow is more up your street ;)

Today has been a lovely day….the last part of my novel writing course with Alexa, dregs party on the lawn, tea with friends and some writing :)

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Jayne, Lorraine & Maddie.

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Dregs party.

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Me and Rae.

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Curtis drew some of his characters which were auctioned off to raise funds for the school.

And then to top everything off tonight’s speaker was Deborah Moggach who was fabulous!

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One thing Deborah did say was that she has to have a title for a novel before she starts, because she feels that it focuses her. I totally agree! Do you like to have a title before you start?

Right, I’m off to bed….early start tomorrow….back to reality! :)

Swanwick Day 5 – #Swanwick65


The plays put on last night were absolutely brilliant! I especially liked Michael’s astronaut costume. Can’t wait to find out which play won!

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I don’t know if it’s because I was awake at 5.55 this morning, or whether it’s just everything on top of that, but I’m beginning to wane…I’m falling asleep left right and center lol

This morning I was going to go to the Blogging lesson but decided to do some writing instead. So the hour I would have been there was spent doing a couple of characterisations (and you know how much I love to do those) which kept me awake.

Then mid morning it was off to the Literary fiction class. Alexa is very good, she takes time to make sure everyone understands, and the class ended up running over. Today we worked on setting and Alexa shared with us a great resource…..

Katy Darby’s Place Mind Map

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Oh how I love a mind map. For more info on how to use this one click the link above. So that was fun :)

I skipped the afternoon session (which was the 2nd part of the Blogging class I missed this morning) and actually ended up reading a book *shock horror gasp* in one of my favourite Swanwick spots…

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I hope you can see in the photo what it says carved into the roof? PERFECT!

Ahhhh, yes, that brings me onto books…I’ve visited the book room 3 times, and here are my purchases…

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If The Hubsters reading this, darling, I’m supporting my fellow writers ;)

Right, need to get ready for dinner and tonight’s speaker (Curtis Jobling) but I’ll tell you all about that tomorrow, it’ll be an early night for me tonight that’s for sure!

Swanwick Day 4 – #swanwick65


After breakfast this morning we were treated to Michael O’Byrne interviewing Jon Wood, Editorial Director at publishers Orion. He gave us lots of interesting information, but one of the things I was really pleased to hear was that Orion have employed an editor specifically to search out new indie authors who have published via Kindle. They read the extracts and download the books….ooooooo ;)

Someone then asked him why they should switch from being self published via e books to signing with Orion if they were approached. His answer…. “A 100 thousand pound cheque!” wouldn’t that be nice?

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So today was supposed to be a “chillin” day, and I’d intended to catch up with my blog comments and FaceBook. But when the lovely Rae suggested a shopping spree, I jumped at the chance. We spent a few hours at the local outlet centre where I bought a few bits *coughs* and when we got back there was a nice cup of tea waiting for us courtesy of the Hayes staff :)

Then it was off to my meeting with Meg *gulp*

I wasn’t nervous until about 20 minutes before hand, but then my stomach began to churn.

What can I tell you? I can’t really remember what she said myself lol ;) Ok, she doesn’t think I should give up on it and take up crochet, but she did say, and I quote, “it’s going to be a bastard to write!” I laughed and said don’t I know it! She hinted at which version she liked and asked me why i want to write this novel…an interesting question and made me realise that what im actually doing is trying to rewrite my own history with a happy ending. the trouble is, my real story hasn’t ended yet…..

I’m feeling a bit more positive about it now, but I need to think….I’ll share more when I get home as my heads still realing a bit.

Tonight’s speaker is short story writer Zoe Lambert but I’m not attending. I’m going to go and find a quiet corner and do some brainstorming about the novel (I always end up missing 1 of the speakers each year, and usually regret it!).

Later we’ll be watching the plays written by fellow students in Write, Camera, Action. Looking forward to that :)

Have you ever asked yourself WHY you’re writing the novel/story?