Sunday, 28 October 2012

Goal List Week Commencing 28th October 2012

Last week was tough, for lots of reasons, and I have no idea how I've managed to keep sane.

My intentions were good, however, the best laid plans can soon be bulldozed! The walking started well on Sunday, and ended well yesterday with a five mile urban walk, but apart from that I didn't get out through the week as planned.

Work has been very busy, and I've been playing catch up for the last five days. I had dental and doctors appointments, and then someone ran into my car on Wednesday. Its been very stressful trying to sort things out. Consequently, I didn't get very much writing done at all other than a few blog posts, and a piece of flash fiction.

The 'Me' time I promised myself didn't turn out too badly. On Sunday I spent time in the jacuzzi pool at the gym (I do not go in the gym - just so you know) following up with a short session in the steam room. Afterwards, I had a lovely long massage, it was bliss!

Wednesday, I changed my hair colour, its gone darker for the Autumn, and I'll post a new profile picture soon. I always feel so much better after a good cut, and colour, it gives me a boost.

Tuesday I read a magazine for half and hour, it might not sound much to you, but believe me, I don't get much reading time these days.

I had tea and cake on Friday afternoon, and managed to get to my writers group yesterday. So all in all, I managed to achieve time for myself in the midst of a hectic life!

On the downside, I forgot to write what I'd done in my writing journal...And we won't talk about sleep, or the lack of it! I am learning to get used to inhalers for allergic asthma.

All change this week. As the clocks alter and we embrace November, I shall be using the month to 'put my writing first' I'm not going to do NaNoWriMo, this year, but I want to spend everyday on a re-draft of my novel. I have daily targets mapped out, and am in the process of clearing the decks in readiness.

This will have a huge impact on everything else, including blogging, therefore I have decided to blog as and when I can for November, and hope you'll stick with me as I try and achieve my November goal.

Maybe you have something you want to concentrate on for the next month? Or perhaps you are doing NaNoWriMo this year? Do let me know, I love receiving your comments, its good to know we are in this writerly life together.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Flash Fiction - Thought for Thursday

Ever thought about writing Flash Fiction?

Flash fiction, short-short stories, minute tales, or whatever you want to call them, they are all mini chopped down stories. As a writer of such, it means you don't use any words that don't speak the story. Easier said than done.

Much must be revealed in a very short piece of prose so there is no time to set up a scene, or build a character, and don't have too many of them either. Your character should have one compelling need only. Focus is everything when you have so few words to tell the story.

Take us straight to the heart of whats happening, and show us the conflict straight away, don't fret about the reader, they'll adjust and work it out.

Make best use of dialogue. Show, don't tell. Every word needs to justify its place.

With such an economy of words you need to focus on one scene, choose it well. Use shorter choppier sentences, they'll raise the tempo, and keep the story moving forward.

There are lots of competitions calling for flash fiction. Word counts vary, and as a rough guide, up to 100 words is called micro fiction, and 100 to 1000 is known as flash fiction, although I class 1000 words as a short story myself! Here are a few competitions to whet your appetite.

Book Week Scotland 2012 Flash Fiction Competition

Cazart Flash Fiction Competition

Flash 500

If you haven't tried your hand at writing Flash Fiction before, then why not give it a whirl, its quite addictive once you get the hang of it, I love it! And you might too.

Now here's a different type of Flash for you.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

The Next Big Thing

I've been tagged! Who did it? It was both Elizabeth and Patsy and now I have to answer questions about my current work in progress.

1. What is the working title of your book?


2. Where did the idea for the book come from?

Somewhere deep within my sub conscious, and that is all I know because I'm a total panster, and I had no idea when I began where I was going to go. Why? Because my novel was written as part of NaNoWriMo last year, and I was roped in to take part at very short notice. I think I had just under twenty-four hours before it began.

3. What genre does the book come under?

Supernatural Crime, or Supernatural Crime with elements of Romance. That sounds better. I hate having to choose a genre.

4. What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie of your book?

Difficult one, I'm glad I won't have to think about that...I'll leave it to the Casting Director.

5. What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger.

6. Will your book be self published or represented by an agency?

I hope it will be represented by an agency.

7. What other books would you compare the story to in your genre?

I haven't come across a similar story.

8. How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

Thirty days. The novel was written as part of NaNoWriMo last year, and no I won't be taking part this year. There is still much to do on this novel.

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I haven't got a clue, it was in my head, but I had no idea it was there until it was unleashed during NaNoWriMo, and I have no idea how it got in there.

10. What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?

The story is dark, and set in both Victorian and present day Leicester, hopefully it will appeal to the locals, as well as a worldwide audience.  

And now its my turn to tag someone, this is the difficult part, its hard to choose, and I know you're all so busy scribbling away, and some of you have already been tagged, so I'm not going to pick on any one of you. If you would like to take part, drop me a comment, and if you don't, drop me a comment anyway. No pressure.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Goal List Week Commencing 21st October 2012

The past week has been tiring, lots of unexpected stuff happened, as does in life, and it threw my good intentions out a little.

Things I did

The walking went well until Wednesday, I got out every other day, then I didn't get another opportunity until Saturday, on the whole though I'm happy with my progress.

Writing wise, I wrote and entered a piece of flash fiction to 'The Times Short Story Competition', edited a  story I want to send to The People's Friend magazine, wrote two of the three blog posts I had planned, attended my writers group, and judged a flash fiction competition. I didn't have time or energy to write the novel outline.

I had cake twice! Coffee and Walnut on Wednesday, and Chocolate Truffle cake on Friday. I call that an excellent result!

A complete fail on the sleep front though...

Things I did better over the last seven days

I spent less time on Twitter

I remembered to write what I've done in my writing journal

Things I want to do this week

Continue with my walking, I can't add anymore time, so perhaps I can quicken my pace.

Take some 'Me Time' at least an hour a day, for the next seven days. This is a tall order, but I'm going to try. Walking doesn't count, I see that as keeping fit and well!

On the writing front, I really need to get started on the revised outline. As well as doing some research, and doing my piece for the writers group meeting. Oh, and I'm setting up a 'Subs Club' at the writers group, (specifically for members who want to submit work for publication, or competition) once a month, beginning in November, so I need to do some groundwork for that too!

Sleep. Maybe I can combine this with 'Me' time. You would think all the walking and writing late at night would tire me, wouldn't you?

Things that might get in the way

Procrastination, it creeps up on me and sets in if I don't watch it, so I'll have to keep moving forward with the list, and putting a cross through what I've done. That usually weakens it!

Work! The day job keeps spilling over into my time. Not good, I shall have to be very strict there, and start taking control. Saying 'No' to stuff would be a good start.

What have you been successful at this week? What makes you feel happy that you got it done, and what does the week ahead hold? Do let me know...

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Writing Competitions

Maria A Smith

A few competitions I'd like to share with you over breakfast. I'm treating myself to a bacon sandwich this morning, washed down with a brew of tea. Yum!

Ink Tears are looking for short stories between 1000 and 3000 words on any theme, so lots of scope, and all the details are here. The closing date is 30 November 2012, giving you plenty of time to get one sorted out.

The Write Place are looking for entries to their short story competition, in support of the participants of an extreme fund raising event, 'Arctic Survival Challenge' in Sweden next year. Monies raised will be given to EllenorLions Hospices and the Children's and Young People's Service (ChYps) who are very much in need of funds.

You do have to write to the theme of 'Survival' and in no more than 1500 words. Again the closing date for this one is also 30 November 2012 allowing plenty of time to write and submit your story. Details here.

Two to think about for all of you writerly ( I just made that word up) types out there on this bright, blustery Tuesday morning. Have a good day.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Goal List Week Commencing 14th October 2012

Image Credit

I'm a bit late posting my list because my feet haven't touched the ground much this last week.

Things I liked about the last seven days

I managed to get out and do  my walking. How? I made the time. Mostly immediately after my evening meal, sometimes later. Once again, it proves, if you really want to do something you will!

I did more writing than I expected. I know this, because I have kept a journal over the las seven days. I've entered everything I've done that is related to writing. It has stacked up, everything from editing a short story for a competition, reading other writers manuscripts, writing three blog posts, chatting with other writers about writing relevant topics, everything from e-publishing to running workshops, and more!

Eating out. Lovely Italian food.

New clothes!

Watching my daughter graduate and pick up her certificate from the National Citizen Service. Teenagers deserve more credit than they are given.

Things I didn't like about the last seven days

Not managing to get out and take some pictures with my camera. I was simply too short of daylight hours. When I had time, the weather was against me.

Cake wasn't on the menu very much, and this was a hugely disappointing state of affairs.

Time spent on Twitter. I kept a record, and added it all up, I'm shocked at how all those minutes add up into hours I could of spent them being more productive elsewhere.

And now I want to tell you about the week ahead. 

There will be cake! There will be writing, there will be lots of walking, and there will be fun! I also hope there will be sleep...the tea hasn't been as successful as I hoped, but I don't give up easily.

I'm going to enter The Times Ghost Story Competition  which will test my metal, as its a story in only 50 words! Why not join me?

I'll be judging a flash fiction competition for a writers group.

I have a story ready to send out, so I need to find a suitable place to submit it to, that matches the word count etc

I need to write a new up to date outline of my novel chapters, so I can see where I'm up to, and where I'm going with it.

What are your plans?

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Don't Edit As You Write - Thought for Thursday

Image Credit
Don't edit as you go. This is something you hear a lot in writing circles, but do you follow this advice? I'll hold my hand up and tell you its something I've found very difficult to master.

I'm much better these days, but its taken years to get here, and sometimes I slip back into the habit of tweaking things here and there as I write.

I'm good with flash fiction, most pieces I write call for no more than 200 words, so I'll set my timer and just keep writing until I get to the end of the story, or the alarm sounds. I've usually overwritten by 150 words, so I'll take a hatchet to my work, and par the story down to the required length. This takes two, maybe three edits until I am satisfied.

Longer works prove more tricky, I have to summon up the willpower not to start fiddling. Re-reading, changing a sentence here and there. Realising I need to add another two sentences to get things to make sense now, because I've changed something crucial. So I add a clue, remove a character, change tense, delete dialogue and before you know it I'm screaming and pulling my hair out, three hours have passed and I've only written fifty words!  Sound familiar?

If you are constantly worrying about spelling, syntax or tense, then you're interrupting the flow.  Stop it, and worry about revisions in the editing stage later. Just get the story out on the page.

What do you think? Can you resist the urge? Or do you get along fine editing as you go?

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Finding Neverland

Curve Theatre Leicester - Maria A Smith

Last week I went to see Finding Neverland at the Curve Theatre in Leicester. It was a wonderful performance, entertaining young and old alike. The Curve is a fantastic venue, and I feel quite proud that Harvey Weinstein decided to bring the £7 million musical to Leicester.

The show is based on the hit film by the same name, and follows the story of playwright James Barrie, and his relationship with the family that inspired him to write Peter Pan. Sylvia is an Edwardian widow with four young sons, whom James meets in Kensington Gardens not long after the failure of his new play The Wedding Guest. 

A longing develops between James and Sylvia, which is frowned upon by society, and there are many sad, as well as funny heart warming moments which stay with you long after the performance has finished.

Finding Neverland is quality stuff with a strong cast, performances from Julian Ovendene who plays James Barrie, and Oliver Boot who plays Hook were particularly good I thought. As were those from the children.

There is talk that the show will move to the West End, and then onto Broadway. I do hope that happens   and more people can enjoy the magic of Finding Neverland.


Sunday, 7 October 2012

Goal List Week Commencing 7th October 2012

Another busy week has passed, and I've struggled to get any quality sleep again. I've tried not to worry about getting by on only a few hours. Instead I've brought some delicious tea to soothe my busy mind. It tastes rather lovely, and is almost refreshing, I'm not sure if it will help, but I shall try it each evening this week in the hope it make a difference.

Maria A Smith
This is what I did over the last seven days.

Writing - 

Submissions - Sent a short story out for consideration

Met up with a writing buddy for lunch.

Blog - Wrote three posts.

Wrote a very short monologue.

Went along to the writers group and offered critique on prose.

Relaxation - 

Walking - I managed to get out a couple of times.

Music - Listened to Mozart

Something to entertain me - I went to the theatre to see Finding Neverland!

New Recipe - Made a speedy chicken dish

Boring but necessary - 

Household paperwork - I cleared a huge tray of stuff.

The next seven days will mainly be about getting organised to increase my writing output, blogging, and getting out to do more walking. If time permits, I'm going to take some pictures too.

How did you get on last week, and  what do you plan to do this week?

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Writing Competitions - Thought for Thursday

Thursday again. Work has been hectic, I'm not sleeping well, and as usual, I'm behind with everything! Never mind, I'm upbeat and happy, and there is still enough of the week left for me to get on with my 'to do' list.

While I remember, have you got a good personal story to tell? The story of your life could win you a small fortune. A £10,000 advance, and a publishing deal is up for grabs in a writing competition run by Woman & Home Magazine. The closing date is 31 October so get your skates on, and have a go. All the details are here.

Another competition I spotted yesterday made me smile. Take a look here, I'm sure the theme of 'Bingo' will inspire some funny stories.

Right, I'm off to check out the new cookery book I brought yesterday. 'Jamie's 15 Minute Meals', in the hope I can actually make them in 15 minutes! Jamie Oliver has challenged the nation to cook one of the recipes from his new book, send him a video of you or a friend, making it, and if he likes it enough, he'll wine and dine you and a guest at one of his Italian restaurants as a prize. Wow! All the information is here.

Time for a brew now.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Downton Abbey

I don't watch very much TV, but one programme that keeps me coming back every week is Downton Abbey. First aired back in September 2010, the drama has become hugely popular. It is reported that 10 million of us tuned in to watch the third episode of series 3 on Sunday evening.

We simply can't can't get enough of it. The period drama has won many awards and accolades, and has been shown all over the world. Set in the fictional Yorkshire country estate of Downton Abbey we follow the lives, and antics of the Crawley family.

I think its wonderful and heartwarming to see that people still appreciate good stories and interesting characters, and now there is talk of a prequel to the show.

The writer, and co-creater Julian Fellowes has revealed he is working on a prequel telling the story of the courtship of Lord and Lady Grantham. I can't wait!

What do you think? Do you enjoy period drama? Or are you riveted to something else on the TV?

Making Things Happen

Bluebells in the grounds of Chatsworth, Derbyshire - Maria A Smith Nearly two months ago I made this list of goals - See how I've g...