Inspiring Objects


I’m a huge fan of writing prompts (as you probably know) and one of my favourites is using photos (which ive been using a lot recently). But, Ive stumbled across 2 websites that made me think, actually, objects are pretty damn good to inspire stories.

The first one is The Museum of Broken Relationships which I found on Sally Jenkins Blog a while back. Do click on the picture of the axe under exhibits. What a brilliant story! πŸ˜‰

Then I came across 26 Treasures which was a project run by museums in Wales, Scotland and Ireland. They invited writers to use 26 objects from the museums collections to inspire a piece of writing. Over 100 writers took part and a book was produced.

So here are some inspiring objects I’ve come across recently that I intend to use for prompts:

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Do you ever use “objects” to inspire stories?

The Value of Stars


I read a great post recently on Peter Germany’s blog where he talked about the star system used to review books. I often do reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, but I haven’t really analysed what the stars really mean to me, and I guess everyone’s interpretation is different. So here’s what I’m thinking when I give a book a star:

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5 stars ***** I loved it…unputdownable.

4 stars **** Really enjoyed it, but….(I’m probably just being picky but there was at least one thing that annoyed me, I found a bit unbelievable or didn’t like etc).

3 stars *** It was ok but I’m disappointed. I had a major problem with a particular aspect, but for some unknown reason decided to read to the end lol

2 stars ** Hmmmm, not for me. It really didn’t work or was just plain boring.

1 star * Well, that’s a part of my life I’ll never get back! Hated it!

So how many stars would I give a book that I hadn’t been able to finish? And why would I want to spend my time reading a book that I didn’t like? I don’t think I’ve ever given a 1 or 2 star review on Amazon or Goodreads, because if it was that bad I would have chucked the book across the room by page 100 lol

Go check out Anne R Allens excellent guide to leaving a review on Amazon and also a brillant post from Lisa Jewell reviewing her reviews.

So my question to you dear reader is….. do you ever give 1 or 2 star reviews? And if so, how do you decide what constitutes a 1 star and why would you continue reading a book if you thought it was that bad?

Monday Interview with Vikki Thompson


My guest post on The Write Romantics blog where I talk about the Romantic Novelists Association’s New Writers Scheme πŸ™‚

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Vikki Thompson lives in Kent with her husband, 3 adult children (who refuse to leave home) and 2 cats. She blogs, (or should that be rambles?) at The View Outside (http://www.the.view.outside.com) and spends her time fantasising about being the next EL James but isn’t too keen on having to write Erotica to achieve that (unless Robert Downey Jnr is available for research). She enjoys writing courses and workshops and can be found yearly at Swanwick (http://www.swanwickwritersschool.co.uk)

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We know that, like us, you are a member of the NWS but we wondered if you could tell us a bit about how you came to join, how long you have been a member, the genre you write in and what inspired you to start writing?

I heard about the New Writers Scheme early last year, so was determined to try to get a place for 2013. So this is my first year…

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Must Do’s Monday 27th to 2nd June


I’ve had a hectic week, not helped by a few days of feeling rough. But I didn’t do too badly all told on the ‘To Do List’ which was…

1. Work on the synopsis for Tangled Ummm, ok, well this didn’t happen lol. I have a rough one that I did a couple of weeks ago, but it sounds like a blurb at the moment.
2. Edit first two chapters of Tangled Ok, I did the first chapter, but as I need to submit the whole novel to the RNA New Writers Scheme before the end of July I really need to step up a gear lol
3. Start planning some blog posts Done πŸ™‚
4. Start going to the gym Didn’t happen, but as The Hubster’s chess is winding down now we’ve agreed to start going next week.
5. Plan my week every Sunday Yep, did that last week and used my new Paperchase pad. Really useful having my whole week on one sheet divided into AM’s and PM’s. I’ll be doing next weeks one after I finish this post.
6. Do at least 1 writing exercise every day Ahhhh, now this has been great, I’ve really enjoyed it! And at the moment I’m using Natalie Goldberg’s Wild Mind πŸ™‚

So next weeks another busy one, but I’m looking forward to writing (thank gawd!). I’ve got a couple of opportunities for writing in coffee shops and then there’s Happy Club. The sun has been shining today and I’m feeling pretty goddam good πŸ™‚

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I’m loving filling in my ‘Experiences’ book, but I think I need to carry it around with me because I keep remembering things when I’m out and forgetting them by the time I get home lol.

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What are your plans for the week?

Turn Your Experiences Into A Novel


I came across a brilliant idea in The Daily Writer a few days ago.

There’s the old saying isn’t there, write what you know. Yeah, ok, that’s boring and I don’t know much anyway. Well, actually…I’ve discovered I do! What about the 45 years of experience I have? All those little events throughout my life that I can use in my stories and novels? All I need to do is embellish the truth a bit, use my imagination πŸ˜‰

So lets do a little experiment….what do I know about?

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(I do love a mind map lol)

But what about one off experiences? What about the evening I spent at London Zoo with a picnic? Or the day I spent in Hay On Wye going round the book shops?

In The Daily Writer they suggest that I keep a file/folder/notebook of “experiences” that I can then draw on for use in my writing. What a great idea! Fred White recommends that you list them chronologically, ie:

“Childhood Experiences”
“Adolescent Experiences”
“Adult Experiences”

And then divide those into sub sections such as:

“Experiences in Nature”
“Holiday Experiences”
“Religious Experiences”

I’d like to add a couple of my own to that list, but when I sit down to mull this over I’m sure I’ll be able to think of loads lol

Food Experiences
Places of Interest Experiences

We all think our lives are so boring, but they’re not. If you were brought up on a farm you will have a wealth of info to draw on. Me, I was brought up in an inner city, and just thinking about it now I can list a handful of experiences that might, at some stage come in handy πŸ˜‰

Oh dear, so that’s another notebook to add to the collection of the 10+ that I’m already using *snigger* πŸ˜‰

So tell me, what’s a recent experience you’ve had that you could use to inspire a story?

A Very British Blog Post


I was tagged back in March by Jane Wenham Jones to take part in this Blog Hop….but what with the A-Z Challenge, it’s only now I’ve been able to post my answers! Lol…. Sorry Jane and thank you πŸ™‚

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Courtesy of Salvatore Vuono at freedigitalphotos

Q. Where were you born and where do you live at the moment?
I was born in Catford, South East London, well, Lewisham hospital to be precise which is on the outskirts. But I spent my childhood and early years of my marriage in Catford, moving to Kidbrooke, then Eltham until in 1997 when we decided to move out of London and set up home in Kent. Now, I live in Rochester πŸ™‚

Q. Have you always lived and worked in Britain or are you based elsewhere at present? I’m a Brit through and through, but I’m not opposed to working from Italy if someone would buy me a villa with a pool?

Q. Which is your favourite part of Britain?
I LOVE London. What can I say *snigger* It’s funny because when you live there you don’t tend to do the touristy stuff, so I’ve seen more of London since I moved to Kent. I go back on a regular basis.

Q. Have you β€˜highlighted’ or β€˜showcased’ any particular part of Britain in your books? For example, a town or city; a county, a monument or some well-known place or event?
The book I’m currently working on is set in Blackheath (South East London) and Rochester where I live. My heroine lives here now but was brought up in London. Write what you know I say. All my characters come from “Sowf Eas Lunden” πŸ˜‰

Q. There is an illusion – or myth if you wish – about British people that I would like you to discuss. Many see the β€˜Brits’ as β€˜stiff upper lip’. Is that correct?
Ha ha ha, damn right it is! My gran would say “it’s what won us the war!” Lol πŸ˜‰ No, seriously, the thing about the Brits is we’re determined, steadfast, proud and patriotic. Now, if that makes us stiff upper lipped, so be it πŸ™‚



Q. Do any of the characters in your books carry the β€˜stiff upper lip’? Or are they all β€˜British Bulldog’ and unique in their own way?
All my characters are South East Londoners, so I hope that comes across. One of my female characters is very stiff upper lipped I guess, because in the era it’s set women didn’t really complain. It was very much a case of “you make your bed you lie in it” (another of my grans favourite sayings). It’s only probably the last, what, 20 years, that women in general have had more choices. When I went to school in the 70’s & 80’s we got taught ‘Needlecraft’ and “Home Economics” where I was taught to iron a shirt (The Hubster will say “well, that didn’t sink in then!” Lol). My male characters are very British Bull Dog! Lol

Q. Tell us about one of your recent books
The one I’m working on at the moment is called “Still” πŸ™‚ It’s a novel about love, regret, competition between friends and the consequences of past decisions. Set in South East London and Kent it’s the story of a mother (Laura) and her daughter (Ruby) who have been estranged for five years, and the journey each of them must now take.

Q. What are you currently working on?
See above….I’m on rewrite number 4 as I’m struggling with the structure 😦 But I’m also editing my 2nd novel called “Tangled” which is about a woman who has an affair and the repercussions of that.

Q. How do you spend your leisure time?
What leisure time? Lol πŸ˜‰ Ok, at weekends me and The Hubster like to get out and about. Museums, art galleries, historic houses and castles, that kind of thing. I find it very inspiring.

Q. Do you write for a local audience or a global audience?
Local definitely. Although, I’m very aware that nowadays you should write for a global audience. So if I ever get published in the States there will need to be a lot of changes lol

Q. Can you provide links to your work?
See above link for my ‘online’ work, but there’s not much. I keep meaning to upload more stuff, but never get around to it lol.

Now I’m spose to tag fellow Brits, but I don’t know which of you to choose lol. So I’m just gunna say, if you fancy giving it a go, please do, and leave a link to your post in the comments πŸ™‚

Hope you enjoyed that? I did πŸ™‚

Monday Must Do’s 20th to 26th May


Good morning! (or afternoon/evening depending on where you are and when you’re reading this πŸ˜‰

I’m BACK! Did ya miss me? I’ve missed you guys πŸ™‚

Ok, that’s enough lol….I guess I better tell you what I’ve been up to. I’ve had a pretty good 2 weeks to be honest. It was my birthday and i went stationery shopping, i went to the Romantic Novelists Summer Party (click the link for the photos including one which featured my red shoes! lol) and went to see RJ Ellory read from his new novel which isnt out for a few months (must buy that one!). I haven’t touched the WIP (Still), haven’t done much writing at all, although I did do a few prompts which was fun. Most of you know, I’m a huge fan of prompts and writing exercises to get the old creative juices flowing. I stumbled across Bonnie Neubauer’s website last week (she’s the lady who wrote The Right Brain Workbook) and here’s what she has to say about prompts:

“Because exercises (also known as prompts) remove the expectations and judgments you have about your own writing. The goal of an exercise is get you to write for the sake of writing so you can discover or rediscover the joy of writing. Exercises are all about filling the pre-allotted time or the pre-allotted space on the page. Do that, and you have met your goal. Nothing else matters. Not content, not plot, not characters, not spelling. And, to exceed your goal all you have to do is write one extra sentence.”

“Do enough exercises (The number is different for everyone; for me, it happens to be 2 exercises a day for 3 to 6 days), and you will find yourself excited about doing your ‘real’ writing. When this happens (and don’t force it), it’s totally okay to abandon the world of exercises and write what you want to write. Just remember that if you ever find yourself stalled, immediately put your regular writing aside and do some exercises. The exercises will relieve you of the pressure to produce and will once again, get your right brain primed to spew onto the paper without letting your left brain (the nasty editor) get in the way and stop you.”

And that’s what happened see….I fell out of love with writing, so I’ve been trying to claw my way back….and I think it’s working. I’ve missed doing prompts and I should never have stopped. As from today I’m taking Bonnie’s advice, and going back to committing to daily writing πŸ™‚

So the coming week looks like this:

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And how I’ve missed the structure of a ‘to do list’ because when I haven’t got one, nothing gets done.

You’ll see I’m working on another project. My second novel, entitled “Tangled” is what I’ve decided to submit to the RNA New Writers Scheme for critique, but it still needs some work. It’s complete, has a beginning, a middle and an end (go me!) but is only 52,000 words lol. The first novel (Still) is such a bloody mess that I really don’t know where to go next, so I’m putting it to one side (for the moment). There’s only so many times you can bash your head against that wall πŸ˜‰

So I’m feeling pretty good, pretty confident and actually raring to get suck in! I’m hoping that my new pad from Paperchase will help.

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Great post about self doubt here on Mandy Websters blog. Struck a nerve with me as its just how I’ve been feeling lately. Now, I’m off to turn a prompt into a ghost story πŸ™‚

So what are your writing plans for the week?

How To Be Happy In 5 Easy Steps


Ok, I know, I shouldn’t be here right? But I just had to get involved in Rebecca’s Meme, because I’ve been feeling a bit down (what? On a lovely relaxing break?) which I think has been induced by the looming birthday next week. It’s not that I’m scared of age, just that birthdays are bittersweet nowadays and the whole stressy writing business has taken its toll.

Anyway, back to being tagged by Rebecca in her “How To Be Happy Meme” πŸ™‚

I’d been thinking about this recently, after a session at Happy Club with Peter Jones (if you’ve not read How To Do Everything and Be Happy I highly recommend it!!!!) where we were making lists of things that made us happy and trying to find ways to incorporate those moments into our lives.

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I went straight home, opened a brand new journal and wrote this on the first page.
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I now have a journal dedicated to living the best life i can. So far I’ve written about 20 pages!

So thank you Rebecca, this is exactly what I needed right now.

Vikki’s How To Be Happy in 5 Easy Steps

1. Eat cake! Things are always better after cake πŸ˜‰

2. Have hobbies and interests! Do things you enjoy – make the most of every moment!

3. Make sure there is ALWAYS someone who is pleased to see you! Friends and family are important.

4. Buy a new pair of shoes! Gorgeous new shoes always make us girlies happy πŸ˜‰

5. Own a pet! Unconditional love, from a furry friend is just the best!!!!!!

Just writing those down has made me smile πŸ™‚

So those are my 5 top tips on how to be happy, or what makes me happy. Now it’s your turn. Give me your 5 in the comments box…make me smile πŸ™‚ And if you want to post this on your own blog, please link back to Rebecca’s and feel free to tag.

A-Z Reflections


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Well, that went quick didn’t it! A HUGE thank you to Alex Cavanaugh for hosting again this year. I know he had lots of little helpers, so thank you to them too! They all did a marvellous job! πŸ™‚

So now it’s time to reflect…..

If you didn’t follow my A-Z posts let me just explain the concept. I decided, mad woman that I am, to showcase 26 writers, authors who I, as a novice unpublished writer, felt I could learn from. So each post consisted of a short bio (that was the hardest bit….I was pulling my hair out trying to condense Hemingway’s life down into a few short paragraphs! Lol), quotes about writing, and a video from YouTube. I hope anyone who read the posts took away something πŸ™‚

What were the highlights of my April Challenge?
Everyday was a highlight really. I had a lot of new people visit my blog this year, first timers, bloggers who I had never encountered before. That was nice πŸ™‚

What I learned?
Oh gawd…. LOADS! How could I not! Doing the research on each author was hard work, time consuming, but really interesting. I learnt so much! I also learnt that there are some authors that I haven’t read who I really need to lol, and I’ve added about 30 books to my wish list lol.

What changes I might make next time?
Next year (ha ha ha) I want to try to pick a subject that I don’t need to research so much. It’s been very time consuming.

What surprised me the most?
How many great books I hadn’t read lol, but also, the authors who I found most inspiring. It wasn’t Hemingway or Woolf, not Orwell or Steinbeck, no, the two authors who I most want to read, who most inspire me to write were John Updike and Richard Yates πŸ™‚

Special bloggers I met or a post/posts that impressed me?
Ahhhhh, now this is easy! There was a certain blogger who must now be more worn out than I am lol…. Hunter Emkay’s posts about Writing were absolutely incredible! Interesting, visually as well as information wise, full of links and great writerly advice! I highly recommend that you go and check out her archive. I will be going back and reading them all again when I get chance πŸ™‚

So that’s it! Another year over….I didn’t manage to read as many of the participants blogs as I should have done, there were just far too many this year 😦 But I did manage to visit about 500. Met some lovely new bloggers and had some great engaging comments. So a huge thank you to everyone who took the time to read my posts and comment, it was a fun month!

So if you didn’t take part this year will you be joining us next year? πŸ˜‰

If you missed any of my ‘Author’ posts, click the A-Z 2013 Tab above where they will all be listed.

See you in a couple of weeks when I’ve recovered!

Insecure Writers Support Day – May 2013


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Thanks, as always, to Alex Cavanaugh for hosting the group. Please go and check out the blogs listed who participate πŸ™‚

So the A-Z Challenge for 2013 ended yesterday and I am absolutely exhausted! Lol…in a nice way of course πŸ˜‰ I’ll be doing a reflection post in a couple of days….. I’ve tried to keep on top of all the comments, so if I’ve missed one I’ll apologise now.

It’s good to get back to normal, but what is normal? I’m afraid I’ll only be posting 3 days a week from now on. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. I did have it in mind that I would have set days for set things, but, I’m not sure now, things might chop and change a bit πŸ˜‰

The one thing that will be coming back is my Mondays To Do List….and that brings me on very nicely to this IWSG post. Since starting the A-Z challenge I have written virtually nothing…zilch! Yes, I know, these posts are writing but I mean fiction. Is it because I’ve not had a list to work to every week? Or is there more to it?

I submitted my Faber Synopsis and 1500 words for the Agent/Publishers event, but still have to decide what piece I’m going to read for the 2minute pitch. So no new words have been added to Still and I’ve got the deadline for the RNA New Writers Scheme looming. I feel like my heads spinning and at one stage I was seriously thinking about jacking it all in! Luckily, the words of a fellow NWS Member (thanks Jo) gave me the kick I needed, to stop wallowing in self pity and sort myself out.

And thats what i need to do…..SORT IT OUT! I think I’m just mentally worn out! Constant reworking/rewrites of the novel, trying to keep up with everything.

Sooooo, what I need right now is to gather my thoughts, make some decisions, and, actually, put my feet up for a while. Write for enjoyment, not because i have to, does that make sense? Somewhere along the way I’ve lost that. Now, it just seems like a chore 😦

So I’m taking a break. I’ll be gone for 2 weeks, well, just over, as that would mean I’d be back on my birthday lol….so we’ll say Monday the 20th. I’m hoping that taking a step back, reevaluating why i enjoy writing (or don’t) will mean that I’ll be back with a more positive attitude, or at least feeling refreshed πŸ™‚

Take care you lot, I’ll try to keep up with your blogs if I can. I have about half a dozen awards to sort out so if you’ve given me one recently I promise I’ll sort that out when I return (I have them all part way started in my Drafts folder).

Have you ever got to the stage where writing has felt like a chore more than a pleasure? I’d be interested to hear your experiences and what you did to resolve it.