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 :)

The Daily Writer & A New Challenge


Firstly, my apologies…..I am so behind with blog reading (about 3 days) but I will catch up over the weekend, I promise :)

On the 31st December I am due to finish using Judy Reeves book, A Writers Book Of Days which has been my companion throughout 2012. I’m a firm believer in a daily writing practice and I have no hesitation in saying that using Judy’s book has improved my writing ten fold. Yes, it’s been hard work at times. There have been days when I really haven’t felt like writing, there have been days when the prompt given didn’t really inspire me. But I still did it, and have written a piece for every single prompt in the book (well, ok, it’s not the 31st yet, but do you honestly think I’ll give up now? Lol). There are about 400 prompts in the book (the 365 plus bonus ones) and if you average it out as 500 words per prompt, plus my Nano work I reckon that in 2012 I wrote, approximately….220,000 words! :)

It was only after Nano that I realised that the book was actually coming to an end. When I turned that page and saw December. Now, I could just start all over again on January the 1st, but that’s not really a challenge is it? I want something new, something different. So, I’ve decided that during 2013 I will be working with this.

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The Daily Writer by Fred White looks brilliant! I’m so excited to be starting another year round challenge (I don’t make life easy for myself do I?). I’m hoping there will be lots of inspiring ideas in this one that I can share :)

But to keep me on track with the WIP (The Last Word Cafe) I’ve joined Sally Quilfords 100K in 100 Days challenge. Which is to write 1000 words a day every day…piece of cake after Nano right? ;) I did it last year but didn’t keep track of how many words I wrote every day, (and this year Sallys set up a FaceBook group!) so I’ll be more aware of my word count :) It’s so hard when you hand write a lot though….so 2013 will see me using the MacBook Air for all my writing. I will kind of miss my notebooks, but I’m sure I’ll be able to fill them with lots of other stuff :)

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Fancy joining me this year? committing to writing daily?

Faber Session 11 – Guest Tutor Jill Dawson


I’ve had a real hectic few days so I am behind with blog reading….I will catch up today I promise, so bear with me. :)

It was bloody freezing yesterday morning as I made my way to central London at 8am. I don’t normally have breakfast, but yesterday, I was desperate ;)

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Today our guest tutor was Jill Dawson who’s book, Lucky Bunny I’m reading at the moment (and really enjoying!).

We all agreed that Jill’s passion and enthusiasm for writing was infectious and inspiring. A thoroughly enjoyable session where I made lots of notes (you know me! Lol). Here’s a few snippets that I wrote down that I found interesting and helpful :)

The best way to be motivated to write is to be in love with it!

How to deal with rejection: Don’t dwell on it, it will infect your writing and the feeling of failure will go into your work.

Have a monthly goal (word count) rather than a daily or weekly one. Make your goals manageable.

Time your ideal writing session then duplicate it. Find what works for you.

Jeanette Winterson told Jill that her first novel was crap, she’s grateful for that now. Peter Carey had written 4 or 5 novels before his first that was published. Jill beleives that ALL writers have at least written 1 book that will never be published. The book you’re working on now may not be THE ONE, it might be your training ground.

Jill keeps a journal while shes writing a novel, where she reflects on how she feels and works out problems.

Learn to tolerate chaos. Get the writing done first then worry about the other things you have to do in your life!

Ask yourself when you read through your first draft – Is it alive? (Something interesting or exciting) or Is it dead? (Something boring or flat).

And finally, my favourite (and also that of my tutors!)

“Know the rules but have none.”

I made 8 pages of notes! Lol….I just couldn’t help it, she was brilliant! :)

I love this whole idea of keeping a writing journal! Jill says it helps her work out her own processes and is like talking to herself. I’m a huge fan of journal keeping, but I’ve never tried using it just for my novel writing. Have you ever used a journal to work out problems with your writing? I’d be interested to hear if anyone has. I think I might just give it a go ;)

After NaNoWrimo – Editing Part 1


So how we all feeling this morning? Any Wrimo’s take it to the wire last night? We had one lady on the Kent FaceBook group who finally hit the 50k at just before 11.30pm (UK time). I couldn’t go to bed before she’d finished and validated.

So that’s it, my official ML duties are over! Awwwww, it’s been fun, but now this is where the real work starts. We have our 50,000 words, so now what? The theme this month on the old blog will be editing, and to start us off, a guest post by Bridget Whelan who teaches Creative Writing. I think this will be very handy ;)

After NaNoWriMo
Three bite-size guides to editing and revising your NaNoWriMo novel.

PART ONE

Write drunk, edit sober – Ernest Hemingway

The relief is wonderful. Nanowrimo is over, done and dusted for another year. You have so much freedom and so much time to do other things. Some of you may even have a NanNoWriMo certificate to prove you took the challenge and won and – as long as you didn’t write your name over and over again – you should be proud of yourself. Very proud.
​Of course, some of us didn’t mange 50,000 words, but as long as you have more words written now than you did on November 1st you’ve made an important step in your development as a writer. And you know that yourself until a small steely voice sounds in your head and says, it’s all rubbish. And the bits that aren’t rubbish have been done before.
​That’s the voice that stops you writing. That’s the voice that NaNoWriMo silences with a frenzy of activity. That’s the voice of an editor. It’s a mean-spirited companion, dismissive of hard work and effort. It won’t offer any rewards for sticking with it, reaching goals and staying up late. All it cares about is what’s on the page and when you come to look at what you’ve written during NaNoWriMo, that’s all you should be care about too. Even when it means blood on the floor.

Three things to do before you pick up a red pen or press delete

1) Rest and Recover. You wrote in a fever. You need the story to settle in your mind and you also need to create some distance if you’re going to listen to that editor’s voice. How long? At least two weeks.
2) Read. Anything except your NaNoWriMo novel. Read poetry for the language. Read cheap trashy novels you hate to learn what not to do. Read cheap trashy novels you love to learn how they captured you. Read action novels for pace and crime fiction for suspense. Read horror and speculative fiction for imagination and fairy tales for permission to push the boundaries (A brother and sister abandoned by their parents and enslaved by a female cannibal? Did you go as wild during NaNoWriMo as Hansel and Gretel?)
3) Watch the video of Kurt Vonnegut describing how to plot a best seller. It will have you laughing and thinking.

Four things to do when you read your NaNoWriMo novel again

1) Breath deeply. Dive in. If you can, try to read all the way through in one sitting. Ignore your emotions: horror, embarrassment, mild pleasure, surprise. Read with a pen in your hand and summarise every chapter (or five thousands words if it isn’t broken down into chapters yet). No one will see these notes so they can be as clunky as you like. Stick to about 100 words for each summary – these are working notes and shouldn’t take up too much of your writing time
2) Imagine you are being interviewed on radio. How would you describe your main character? What does your main character want? No waffle: be specific. The radio audience won’t like vague phrases about rites of passage or someone finding themselves.
3) Even if you have written The End in big bold letters and drawn a line underneath it, consider possible alternative ways of resolving the issues in your NaNoWriMo novel.
4) Ask yourself if you want to spend a lot of time living with this story and the people who inhabit it. Vikki described herself as being haunted by the story she was trying to tell in first Nanowrimo writing. That’s a very good place for a writer to be.

Coming up in PART TWO (tomorrow) five ways of editing that first rough draft.

A great article Bridget, I will definitely be following your advice :)

Please leave a comment for Bridget with your thoughts and opinions, or pop over to Bridget’s Blog to say Hi

NaNoWriMo – The Last Day


Today is the last day of Nano (so should that be YAY or SOB ? lol) So if you haven’t hit the 50,000 words by now you have approximately 22 hours (in the UK from the time this post went live) to pull your finger out and write!

It’s been a funny old month for me. Full of highs and lows. My first year as an official ML has been great fun. Elizabeth asked me a couple of days ago if I’d do it again next year, of course I would! :)

I’ve met a few Wrimo’s I didn’t know before who have now become FaceBook friends and learnt that I can write 9,000 words in a day. I went on a writing retreat (which was fantastic) and discovered that Mills & Boon books are much harder to write than you think they’ll be. I also learnt that my netbook cannot be trusted and have decided that he will retire from service before next year ;)

So what’s next? What do we now do with all those words? You have to edit *shudders* ;)

The lovely Bridget Whelan who teaches Creative Writing, has written a series of 3 blog posts for me, all about editing. See me, I never really know where to start when it comes to editing, so I’m hoping Bridget can sort me out. You’ll find part 1 and part 2 here over the next couple of days and then part 3 will be posted to Bridget’s blog, but I’ll give you the link ;)

So all that remains is for me to say CONGRATULATIONS! it doesn’t matter if you only wrote 10 words or 75,000 (yes, I do know someone who wrote that much and she has a baby and toddler!). Everyone who takes part in Nano and wrote something is a winner as far as I’m concerned.

So now it’s time to Party!

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Courtesy of Simon Howden freedigitalphotos.net

Do try to get to a TGIO Party if you can. We have ours tomorrow, I’m looking forward to it :)

Me? I finished up with just over 55,000 words which is more than 2011 but less than 2010…..and the less said about those 65,000 words the better ;)

The To Do List 19th to 25th November


I’m exhausted! Lol…..what with Nano, Write In’s and Faber, it’s all beginning to take its toll….I’m constantly yawning! ;)

So how did I do last week?

1. Edit, the piece for Faber & hand in *gulp* Done! It will be handed out to my fellow students tonight!

2. Keep up with Nano word count – try to get ahead a bit more. Done! Not too bad. As of last night I’m at 40,019 so aiming for another 2000 today. Need to finish by Friday as I’ve got a heavy weekend coming up.

3. Finish current read – Don Delillo Done! gave it 2 stars.

4. Finish Richard Skinners book. Not done, will continue with it this week.

5. Print out and read Faber Guest Tutor stuff – FOR MONDAY! Done!

6. Clear inbox – which means catching up with all your blog posts from the weekend. Kind of done! Got it down to about 20, so if I owe you an e mail I WILL get to it over the next couple of days :)

So what’s on my list for this week?

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1. Finish Nano by Friday (23rd)

2. upload words to Nano.

3. Print off Sorrento Sunrise and start padding lol.

4. Start new book….an eBook.

5. Continue reading Richard Skinners book.

6. Print off But Not Forgotten and READ IT!

That shouldn’t be too bad should it? ;)

So what are you up to this week?

It’s Donation Day!


Today is Nanowrimo Donation Day :)

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Not sure what that means?

Ok, well, if you’re taking part in Nano, and changing your word count on your profile, visiting the forums, chatting to your fellow buddies, and going to Write Ins, then really, you should be donating :)

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Look at that pretty little halo that looks beautiful on your Nano profile picture :)

Ok, I’m not going to bang on about it, bully you or withhold my blog posts until I see the stats on the Nano homepage go up. But what I will say is this…..Nano is free! You get all that support, sense of community, word counter and winners certificate for nowt, nada, nuffin! I think it’s sad to see that as of yesterday only 5.254% of people taking part have donated. I know times are tough, I really do….but, a quid, a dollar, a euro? Someone gave me 70p the other day and I thanked her….because every single penny helps :)

Visit the Nano site today as they’ll be running special deals and offering prizes all day long. So if you were thinking about donating, today would be a good day to do it. Failing that, you can give me or Elizabeth 50p to put in our tin (the Kent Wrimo’s amongst you).

Ok, lecture over people….but it is something I feel very strongly about. After all….we’d all moan next year if the site wasn’t there anymore wouldn’t we? ;)

so how are my fellow Wrimo’s getting on? Tell me your word counts….. Mine is 26,875 (but I haven’t had today’s writing session yet).

The To Do List 12th to 18th November


What a fabulous end to the week, a writing retreat! I can’t really say much more lol. Great place, great food, great people…..I can’t wait to go back! :)

So how did I get on with last weeks list?

1. Faber homework (inc reading fellow students work). I haven’t had chance to read the handouts, and as I’m going today I think I better lol

2. Keep up with daily Nano word count. Done! And I’m actually ahead ;)

3. Catch up with prompts…..3 days behind *groan* Done, but on,y because I’m using them for Nano, don’t ask, see previous moaning lol

4. Write article for Faber *EXCITING* Done, and they liked it! :)

5. Print out and read But Not Forgotten extract (Faber sub) and take to West Dean for editing/fiddling.Done!

So now, for this weeks lists…..ooooo, it’s a busy one!

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1. Edit, the piece for Faber & hand in *gulp*

2. Keep up with Nano word count – try to get ahead a bit more.

3. Finish current read – Don Delillo

4. Finish Richard Skinners book.

5. Print out and read Faber Guest Tutor stuff – FOR MONDAY!

6. Clear inbox – which means catching up with all your blog posts from the weekend. I’m so sorry I’m so behind :(

I think that’s it ;)

What are your writing plans for the week?

Writing Retreat Day 3 – Going Home


Our 3rd and final day came and went all too quickly! My word count total now stands at 22,647 which is kind of disappointing, because I’d hoped to reach the 25,000, but, I’m still ahead on what I should be for the 11th of the month.

We gave out some prizes this morning, for word counts and by the time we had left, collectively, as a group, we had written just under 100,000 words! One of us hit the 50,000 at 10 to 11 last night. Amazing! Congratulations go to Richard for being the first “winner” in our region :)

A huge thank you to Elizabeth for setting it all up, to Trevor the smoking night security guy for keeping me company outside in the darkness, and to West Dean College for having us. A beautiful location for a writing retreat and OMFG!!!!! Dali’s Lobster Telephone!!!! Who knew that was there :)

Sunrise this morning.

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The entrance hall.

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Small staircase.

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I will now spend the evening unpacking and sorting out next weeks to do list. I did manage to spend yesterday afternoon editing my Faber piece that I’ll be submitting, so I guess I’ll be working on that tomorrow, plus trying to keep up with the Nano word count….wish me luck! ;)

Writing Retreat Day 2


An early start this morning, as breakfast was at 8…..but I found myself outside at 7.45 having my first cigarette of the day with the security guard. A lovely man who told me all about the wildlife on the estate….seee, I’m learning stuff too! Lol

It’s now 3pm and I’ve just crossed the 20,000 threshold. 20,172 to be exact! Sorrento Sunrise still stands at just over 18,000 and the new words are on a couple of short stories using my writing prompts that I do every day. I’m kind of looking at this years Nano as being a disaster, but I guess it isn’t really. I’m still gunna hit the 50,000, but I’ll probably have lots of unfinished stuff lol. And there was me saying I didn’t want to be one of those writers who had a drawer full of unfinished manuscripts! Whoops! ;)

So what excuse do I have? Well, apart from the fact that the “T” has rubbed off my netbook key (this is it’s 3rd Nano), none what so ever! I don’t regret going for the Mills & Boon….the object of the exercise was to see if I could write one. Perhaps the answer to that question is…..I can’t *snigger*

I had a wander around the grounds today….wow!

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And this is the view from my bedroom window.

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And this is the room where the magic happens.

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All 14 of us were sitting at this table last night tapping away at laptops/netbooks….I wish I’d taken a photo! :)

Right, better get back to it….think I’ll have a reading break first though ;)

How are my fellow Wrimo’s doing?