Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Goal List Week Commencing 25th November 2012

The Cultural Quarter Leicester - Maria A Smith
November is drawing to a close...and December is almost upon us. I can't believe there is just one month left of this year. I'm starting to think about the next twelve months already. 

Making plans is good. I don't know about you, but I have lots to think about, I've got lots of ideas for future projects. I'll talk more on this topic next month.

Last week, I took things easier, I edited another scene from the novel, and got some critique on it, just a few more tweaks and I'll be happy with it. 

I did my last stint as the Chair at the Phoenix Writers group on Saturday, its been a busy month, and attendance has been very good. There are some very talented writers in the group, and its been a pleasure to hear their words. 

Saturday was busy, and wet, I took the picture above at 4pm, on my way home out of Leicester. The city was glistening with rain. It steadily got worse as the evening wore on, and many rivers around about burst their banks causing a spate of flooding through the county.

This week, I'm mainly resting, and recovering. I may just do the 200 word challenge set by Phoneix Writers group, and leave it at that!

What are you up to?

Monday, 19 November 2012

Goal List Week Commencing 18th November 2012

A Walk Around Hardwick Hall Parkland  - Maria A Smith

What a week! It started badly, and ended well.

For a while now I've been having allergic reactions to a variety of different food and drinks, things I can normally take without any problems cause me to wheeze, and gasp for breath. I've been quite unwell, as the symptoms have been steadily getting more severe. I'm undergoing tests, and have been advised I've 'probably' got asthma. The Doctor has given me an inhaler, but I'm not convinced, I expect time will tell who is right.

Consequently, my plans to continue with my WIP got put on hold for a few days, while I recovered, and excluded different things from my diet. I'm doing this off my own back, I'm learning what triggers the attacks.

I really didn't think I'd get much done, as its been tough trying to juggle work, family and with feeling under the weather too, its been tough! Amazingly, when I sat and listed everything  last night, I decided to cut myself some slack.

In the last seven days, I have...

  • Re-written a chapter 
  • Prepared for, and chaired a writers group meeting
  • Read a book
  • Ate cake twice!
  • Met up with writing buddies
  • Edited a scene
  • Been for a walk
  • Juggled a full time job
  • Dealt with family stuff
  • Ran the home (not quite so well) 

How have I done these things? I made a deal with myself, I said I'd do stuff  for just five minutes. I decided that I'd try and make some progress, rather than no progress. Five minutes is still action after all, and sometimes I got carried away, and did fifteen, or twenty minutes. 

I need accountability, otherwise I'm aimless, I have to motivate myself. We all do! But I celebrate my small victories too with treats, cake usually, although this week I rewarded myself with some new music, Ellie Goulding's new album Halcyon. Its amazing by the way.

Yesterday, I spent time with my writing buddies after our meeting, it was lovely to catch up with them all, taking time out over a coffee to chat and relax, without having to rush off to work, or meet a deadline. A nice way to end the week.

And so to the week ahead...

I'll be concentrating on my novel. I'm going to continue working in the same way, breaking the novel down into scenes, and working on it that way is working for me. 

Apart from that, I want to get out walking, and I've already made a start today, as you can see from my pictures above. The weather was lovely and sunny all day, and I couldn't resist making a run for the hills in Derbyshire, Hardwick Hall is a National Trust property, and although the house is closed now for the winter months, the gardens and parkland are open.

The trees were amazing today, really beautiful colours, and although it was very muddy in parts, the walk was well worth the effort. 

How will you fill your time this week?

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Goal List Week Commencing 11th November 2012

Today I woke late, after a disturbed night spent wheezing, and coughing. I stayed in bed until mid-day listening to the local radio station who were covering the Remembrance Day service in Leicester.

I thought about the lost souls of war. The families left behind, without their loved ones, and it made me feel sad.

 It is right and fitting that we should honour the men and women who have given the ultimate sacrifice, so that the rest of us may live freely today.

I sincerely hope we never forget.


Last week passed in a flash, and I got quite a bit done on the WIP, especially after I watched a documentary which followed the best selling crime writer, Ian Rankin as he wrote his latest novel. If you missed it you can read, about it here where you'll find a link to the programme on BBC iPlayer, its well worth a view. You will be motivated.

I've split my novel into scenes, I'm re-working each one. Its a more manageable way for me. Mainly because I'm so time poor, and I can focus on one scene more easily, instead of trying to wrestle huge chunks of the story.

In other writing news, I've started  a Competitions and Submissions club, and on Saturday I held the first meeting which was well received. I was pleasantly surprised at the turn out, a very enthusiastic bunch of writers set to and made plans, it'll be interesting to see in a month how they have each got on in their quest to be published. 

The week ahead will be spent working on the WIP and there definitely be cake! What are you going to do for the next week? 

Friday, 9 November 2012

Ian Rankin - Sharing the Fear

Ian Rankin - Image Credit
The other night I felt really fed up, and insecure about my current WIP, questions kept popping up in my mind, was it any good? Why am I writing it? Will I ever finish it?  I HATE THIS BOOK! Tired and weary with the feeling I was wading through thick treacle were stronger than ever, and if I'm honest, I felt like quitting!

 I'd been working on the manuscript for hours, after a tough shift  at the 'day job' and my mind had decided to go into negative mode. I don't usually watch TV, but because I was feeling so low, I sauntered into the lounge and flicked on the screen. Mindless television was looking attractive.

Instead, I found myself at the beginning of a programme called 'Imagine' and if you have time, do take a look, its here on BBC iPlayer until Christmas day. Its especially valid if you're feeling low about your own writing, because this programme follows, Britain's most successful crime writer, Ian Rankin, as he writes his next novel.

It made me realise, that even someone who writes a 'Best Seller' every time, has the same fears, concerns and doubts as you and me. During the programme you'll learn a lot about Ian Rankin and you'll identify with what he says about the writing process.

I'm back on track now. Its still hard, and hateful, and lonely, and yes, I still have fears, and doubts, but now I know I'm not alone, and it makes all the difference.

Let me know what you think?

P.S. Ian's new book, Standing In Another Man's Grave is out now...

Monday, 5 November 2012

Goal List Week Commencing 4th November 2012

Yesterday, I escaped to Calke Abbey in Derbyshire for an hour. It not too far, only a short thirty minute journey in the car. Why? I wanted to see how the seasons have left the park since my last visit in September. 

It was also the last day the house and gardens will open until March next year. I didn't go in, I've been around the house many times. Instead I walked up to the gardens, and looked back over my shoulder at the Abbey, its one of my my favourite spots, and I've taken a picture each time I've visited this year, so I've almost got a set now - one for each season.

Calke Abbey in Autumn 2012 - Maria A Smith
Last week passed in a flash, I haven't felt at all well. As October came to a close I found myself running around like a headless chicken at work trying to get everything done.

At home, I cleared the decks ready to start in earnest on my novel re-write/mega edit. I even managed to get to Staples for new stationary. Coloured index cards, reporters note pads, and a good supply of decent pens.

I set to, printed my manuscript, and wrote each scene onto a card, and clipped it to the corresponding  chapter. This is good for me, I'm not a planner, yet here I was doing something which passed as a plan of sorts.

I took one of the chapters along to my critique group to read out and receive feedback. I wasn't disappointed, I got encouraging comments, as well as sound advice on the errors I'd made. Its good to have other writers opinions. As  I read aloud, I could hear where it jarred, where it wasn't working, and what I needed to fix!

For those of you who like competitions, here are details of two closing soon.

The Word Hut Short Story Writing Competition

Closing November 18th 2012
First Prize £60.00, Second £30.00, Third £15.00
The winning story will be published on the website.
Entry Fee £4.00
Short stories up to 1000 words on any theme, or in any genre. More details here.

Almond Press Short Story Competition

Closing date November 30th 2012
First Prize £100
Entry FREE
Short stories between 3000 and 5000 on the theme of 'Fall' (in all the meanings of the word)
Read the rules here

I'd better get on now. How was your week?

Friday, 2 November 2012


I need a wake-up call today. Already slipping behind with my 'Putting My Writing First' month. Too many people trying to muscle in on my time.

Lets have some music...I'm going to write during my lunch break. Lets go!

Hit it!


Thursday, 1 November 2012

Putting My Writing First

Usually on November 1st, I'd be embarking upon NaNoWriMo, the month long word marathon which, if you haven't heard about, and frankly I'd be very surprised if you haven't, you can catch up with here.

I'm not taking part, but this doesn't mean I won't be grafting, instead it means I'll be 'putting my writing first' during November, and knuckling down to re-drafting the novel I began twelve months ago today.

The story is written. However,  the characters need more flesh on their bones so to speak, they're a bit flaky, and the back story is lacking in places. One character has to go. There will be lots of changes, and this will be my project for the month. I want to add 20,000 words. Tighten everything, and make sure it has clarity.

I'm apprehensive, but also excited, its like a new project all over again. I'll let you know how I get on throughout the month.

This does mean the blog will be different. Thats as much as I know.

Just before I knuckle down to some writing, check out this competition   but hurry! Its closing soon, and with FREE entry and prizes its surely worth a go?

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...