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Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Goal List - Week Commencing 29th January 2012

Update on last week first.

Prepare a 100 word piece of flash fiction for my writers' group meeting - Done, written on the bus on the way to the meeting on Saturday morning. Went down well! And I really should find somewhere to submit it! (read previous post)

Read Write a Great Synopsis by Nicola Morgan  - What a fabulous book, read in a single sitting, the advice is so easy to understand, I now feel I can, at last attempt my synopsis without it striking the fear of God into me.

Write something every other day - Yes! Some days it was no more than fifteen minutes, over a mug of tea, amazed at what I got done.

Prepare a piece of writing to take into the Saturday group for critique - I did, however, there were a lot of lovely new members, so I decided not to put it forward to be read out. I was eager to hear their work.

Find a new recipe - Yes, Yummy new chicken dish Very quick and easy to make, just the ticket for the busy writer.

More tea and cake - I'm becoming  a regular at the farm tea room I mentioned last week. Enticed by an individual hazelnut tart with pouring cream. Small pleasures.

The week ahead then...

  • Continue reading, and revising my second draft
  • Arrange future dates to meet up with other writers to help each other 
  • Send a piece of work out!
  • Read Writing Magazine
Lots to keep me busy as January rolls over into February.

Monday, 30 January 2012

Finding Markets For Your Writing

I haven't sent anything out for a long time. Certainly not since I've been writing my novel. However, I understand the importance of getting your stuff out there, so when an email arrived from my critique group, asking for suggestions on where to send their short stories, poems and articles, I wanted to help my fellow writers, and contribute.

I subscribe to Writing Magazine which has Writers' News, incorporated, its the best magazine around I know of for paying markets, and opportunities to get into print. Crammed with all sorts of information of value to writers, if you haven't seen or read it, I urge you to beg, borrow or steal a copy. Well, perhaps don't steal one. Seriously, there are many submission requests, competitions as well as other outlets for our talents.

Here are just a few.

  • The First Line - A quarterly magazine providing a first line to kick-start writers imagination for short story submissions. Stories should be 300 - 3,000 words long, all genres will be considered. There will be payment for accepted work. More information can be found here.

  • Strange Chemistry - Angry Robot will launch a YA sister imprint in September, called Strange Chemistry. There is opportunity for YA speculative fiction writers who have an unagented novel, it can be submitted if it meets the criteria here.

  • Kent & Sussex Poetry Society - An open poetry competition with a first prize of £800, second £300 and a third of £150. as well as four runner -up prizes of £75 Details here.

  • The Bristol Short Story Prize - This competition is open to International entries, and 20 short listed stories will be published in an Anthology. There is also a first prize of £1000, plus a Waterstone's gift card worth £150. There are additional prizes and all the details can be found here.

  • Park Publications UK - Are looking for articles themed around the countryside, up to 1,500 words could win £50, £25 or £15 in their quarterly competitions from Countryside Tales Magazine. The next deadline is 1st February 2012 so you'll have to be quick! Details are here.

  • Lightship Publishing - Lightship Literary Prizes, include short stories, poems and a flash fiction prize. Read all about it here.
I've highlighted some ideas above, there are many more, Writing Magazine is one resource, there are others which I will report on over the months. I hope you'll find something to whet your appetite.

Oh, and in case you're wondering why I've chosen the picture of a post box above - its to remind me, you can submit your writing via email these days. So I can't use the excuse of not making it to the post box any more, and neither can you. Start getting it out there!





Saturday, 28 January 2012

Happy Saturday - Pearl Harbour - Tennessee

I promised you music, and Tennessee is one of the finest pieces you'll hear from Hans Zimmer in my opinion.
The theme was produced for the movie Pearl Harbour, one of my all time favourites. If you haven't seen it - its a great movie, it has everything. Action, drama, and lots of romance, but be warned, it WILL make you cry too.
Every time I listen it evokes memories, and emotions from the story. Its a truly wonderful piece to listen to, when you want to empty your mind, and relax. I'll be posting more here for you to enjoy soon.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Goal List - Week Commencing 22nd January 2012

A quick update then.
Last week.

I've  finished 'Before I Go to Sleep' by SJ Watson, and I really enjoyed it - I didn't guess the ending. I kept thinking I would, but didn't manage it. Its definitely worth a read.

Draft 2 - Slow! Still in the reading it through stage, and hating it! Did I write that drivel? Although I have been told its normal to feel this way about ones WIP at this  stage. It doesn't make me feel any better. This meant I never got to polish five pages or write a synopsis.

Novel Booster Writing Workshop - Really enjoyed the day away, met lots of lovely new writers and picked up lots of tips from the tutor.

Second Yoga Class -  Hopeless! Can't find one that fits in with my hectic schedule. Think I'll have to try Pilate's instead.

Tea and Cake - Lovely chocolate cake and proper leaf tea in a pot at a farm tearoom in Leicestershire. Very lovely, and felt like a proper treat. I watched the world go by slowly, and took advantage of doing nothing for an hour.

Now this week. I am very tired. My back is aching as well, so I need the goals to be attainable. Here we go.


  • Prepare a 100 word piece of flash fiction for my writers' group meeting on Saturday morning
  • Read Write a Great Synopsis by Nicola Morgan I've downloaded it onto my Kindle, and I'm really looking forward to picking up lots of good advice on the ghastly, but necessary task of writing a synopsis.
  • Try to write something every other day. I have made a date with myself at different times over the next seven days so I can pull this in. I will report back soon.
  • Prepare a piece of writing to take into the Saturday group for critique
  • Find a new recipe, did I mention I like to cook?
  • More tea and cake.
 An early night is required now I think.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Word Sprints

In case you don't know what a word sprint is, its when two or more people get together usually via twitter, and agree to do a set amount of writing time together. In my experience it can be anything from thirty minutes to an hour.

I first discovered word sprints last year when I took part in NaNoWriMo. Don't underestimate the power of these things. Using twitter to put a shout out for a sprint partner, or many partners, as the case was during November, means you can virtually work at any time of the day or night, its worldwide! Distance is no obstacle, and there are no worries about sharing your work. Its not an expected requirement.

It's a fantastic tool to deal with writers block, or just to get you off the block, and putting words on the screen or page. There is no doubt that regular writing gets you where you want to go, so we all need to persist, and free up our brain so we can get the words down. Once I'm in the flow, I feel energised and it becomes a habit.

Afterwards, its custom, but not compulsory, to let the other sprinters know your word count, again via twitter. One things for sure, you'll have done more writing than if you hadn't of took part in the race.

Another way, is to find a buddy,someone to hook up to write together with, either in person, in which case you'll have to be strict, and not get sidetracked by 'other news' etc which I know from experience is very easily done. Or you could do it via email, on a certain day of the week, that suits both of you, and at a certain hour. Sending your work over to each other afterwards makes it a definite arrangement. You can agree to offer each other feedback or not, depending on what your relationship is, not everyone wants critique.

So whether sprinting is your thing, or not, I guess I'm trying to say, eliminate all your excuses, make a list of what they are, decide what you can drop, or what you can move around to free up a slot in your busy week. Make a date with yourself, and stick to it! This is serious. Clear the decks, sit down and begin. Write. Do not pause, do not look back or stop! Keep writing. You'll be amazed at the result!

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Happy Saturday - Black Eyed Peas - One Tribe



From now on, every week, on a Saturday, I'll be posting a song or a piece of music that appeals to me.
Why? Because music is uplifting, it makes us feel good. It can evoke a memory or a feeling, and scientists say it causes the brain to release a chemical called dopamine, which is a feel good chemical.

This song, One Tribe, by the Black Eyed Peas makes me feel really happy, I have it stored on my Ipod under 'Good Music for Walking' I play it loud when I'm striding out in the fresh air.

Happy Saturday

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Goal List - Week Commencing January 15th 2012

Last week's update first.

Got stuck into reading 'Before I go to Sleep' by S J Watson, what a great book it is. I'm a slow reader, Kindle tells me I am 69% through the story. Really enjoying it so far, and haven't managed to work it out yet!

Draft 2 - I seem to be going at a snails pace, because I've been away, I've managed very little this last week. I can only claim a read through of the first eleven pages.

Stills Pictures - Done! Passed onto my buddy. Very pleased with the results. They took time but well worth it.

Walking - Yes! Lots done, including a Nordic Walking lesson, which I really enjoyed.

Now for this weeks goals. Keeping them simple seems to work for me so here goes.


  • Continue reading 'Before I go to Sleep' by S J Watson
  • Polish first five pages of my novel & write the synopsis for it
  • Attend  a one day creative writing workshop
  • Attempt to find a second yoga class 
  • Take time out for tea & cake



Monday, 16 January 2012

The Making of "Double Booked"


Mal Dewhirst
     Just over a week ago, I was lucky enough to be invited to capture the Stills photography for the short film, "Double Booked" written and produced by my friend Keith Large. The Filmmaker on this project is Mal Dewhirst, and he kindly agreed to answer a few questions for me about the project.

     Tell us a little bit about your background Mal, and how you came to be involved with directing and making the short film “Double Booked”?

I am primarily a poet and writer, and have been published in various magazines and anthologies; I have had several plays produced, mainly through community projects. I also wrote two tourist guides for North Warwickshire Borough Council which resulted in the project to build The Polesworth Poets Trail which I have been working on since 2008 and am about to complete in 2012. It was through this project that I was asked to write a film script to tell the history of Polesworth Abbey, which was to be used as an interpretive film for tourists.

They could not pay me for producing the script, but offered me some free training with the film maker, Peter Ralley, on the basics of film making. I jumped at the chance and after the first day I was hooked and decided to add film making to my portfolio of activities. The films I have made to date have been short poetry films using landscapes, music and the poetry as the narrative. My first completed film was Yell! in 2009 – it is available on YouTube here. Since then I have made a couple of documentaries, Pollysworda which documented the making of the poetry trail and Wallpapered which documented a mix of art and theatre in empty shops, a project funded by Derby City Council.

My involvement in “Double Booked” happened purely by chance, I first met Keith Large a couple of years ago and we met again at a meeting of writing groups at the Grace Dieu Writers in November 2011 when we had a chat about writing projects, I gave him my business card and he became interested in discussing a film project which a few days later resulted in the commission for “Double Booked”.

Take us through the planning that went into the project before the actual evening of filming?

The process started with the script, which Keith had already written, with discussions on how it could be realised. I added the shots and scenes to the script, adding in a few establishing shots before the dialogue begins. The script is a dialogue driven piece, delivered in one scene and therefore we had to be careful not to overdo the establishing scenes.
The next step was to find a location, which Keith did, he looked at various possible places, mainly existing hotels that would have the set up so that we did not have to create a set. However, we ended up back in the room where we had met in November at the Constitutional Club in Coalville, who were not only happy to host us, but were very accommodating in what would be some disruption for them.

We used their DJ console with a slight, temporary, modification as the reception desk which was the main set dressing.
I took some photos which I used to create the story board and started a planning document with the plan, a resources list (props, set dressings, sound effects etc) and technical equipment list (Camera, sound equipment, lighting etc).
The Story board was spilt in scenes and shots they were mapped back to the script and also to the camera positions on the floor plans which I had also produced.

I normally work with a small crew, and so I had to engage them for the shoot and to brief them on what we would be doing and how we would go about it.
Keith and I met several times; I was keen that Keith agreed to everything that was proposed.

We went through who could provide what, between us we gathered the props and set dressings, borrowing where ever we could.
The Crew - Mal Dewhirst, Jimi Dewhirst and Jack Heathcote
I also needed to upgrade some of my equipment and bought a new camera for the shoot, lighting was also something that needed to be purchased, all this was happening in the run up to Christmas.

Testing and practice with the new equipment was essential which was all completed over the Christmas period. During this time, I also made various set dressings and props, signs and the key fob that Helen used as a prop.

Check lists became an obsession – checking and rechecking.
So it was a very busy time but very worthwhile as all this planning paid off on the night.


What was it like working with Keith Large, the Producer, who is also the writer?    
Keith is fantastic to work with, we got on straight away, we are both doers with a massive amount of enthusiasm for what we are doing.  He has a vast amount of experience in producing films and therefore knows what is required. I was honest up front with him, that I had never filmed a drama or directed actors before, my previous films all being landscape based. So he took a risk with me, which I much appreciated. He also let me drive the process forward and was very open to some of the ideas that I bought to the project.

If he didn’t agree with something he said so and we looked for a different approach, when potential problems were aired we worked on them together to overcome them. It was good to have a producer/director team approach, I really appreciated the support.

Keith had written a very strong script, there were very few dialogue changes made from the original, only things to make sense of the establishing shots and any potential noise in the location.  This was great for me as it meant I could focus on the visualisation. I would really like to work with him again; he has so many fantastic ideas for projects.
Helen Bolitho, Keith Large and Mal Dewhirst

       
    Who did you have on your team on the night?

For my film crew, I like keep it in the family, I had my son Jimi Dewhirst who produces all the music and sound for my films and my nephew, Jack Heathcote, who is a student, as the production assistant. Harriet Warner was also invited to help out on the production.

     And the actors, was it easy directing them?

This, as I said was my first experience of directing with actors, so was a big learning curve for me. Helen Bolitho and Kim Joyce were both wonderful and very patient with me, they were very accommodating, and did what was asked from them. Both of them are very professional. I could not have asked for anyone better to work with on my directing debut.
Kim Joyce and Helen Bolitho


     Were there any mishaps, or funny incidents on set?

When I work, I tend to become very focussed on the job in hand and can often miss the funny incident, so others may well have other stories, probably about me.

My main memory on this score was the shelf on the reception desk moving – it was taped to the disco unit from the underneath and this wore loose as Helen lent on it during the filming. The whole unit began to creak which was picked up in the sound track. Nothing major that could not be fixed, but it meant we had to shoot it again.    

      What happens now the filming is done?

The Post Production activities, which in the main is the edit, taking the footage and creating the finished film using the editing software.  This involves sorting the footage into the correct order adding in music and sound effects that were not captured on the day.

The film will be broken down into sub-films each of which will be edited and rendered before being put together in the master for the final render.

Kim Joyce and Helen Bolitho


I will initially produce a draft cut which I can show to Keith and we can discuss changes which will be made to the appropriate sub-film before being put back into the master.

     Is there anything you wished you could go back and do again, or anything you would do differently next time? 

Lighting –  I like to understand the equipment that I am using so that I can instinctively place it in position at the right angle to get the result I want. With a small crew people have to double up on jobs, this can sometimes be a Jack of all trades and master of none.

Lighting was down to me, no excuses. Film lighting is an art and science in itself. I previously have only used natural light most of my film being shot out in the landscape. It was clear to me on the shoot that although I had researched this element of the shooting process, my knowledge was not what it should be.

     When do you think we might have a sneak preview?

I should have the first draft cut ready by the end of January – with the plan to get the final film completed by the end of February. As to when you can have a sneak preview that will be up to Keith, when he is happy for people to see, then I am sure we can arrange for it to be shown.

     And your next project?

As a film maker – I have three poetry films to produce to be shown at the Polesworth International Poetry Film Festival in September.

As a writer – I have a commission to write and edit an interpretation of place with poetry for Pooley Country Park from Warwickshire County Council.
I will be recording a series on lost poets for Radio Wildfire in February, taken from my blog over the last year.
I am also about to start the role of poet in residence on a historical research project and later in the year I will be poet in residence at Dig the Abbey – during the Archaeological excavations at Polesworth Abbey.

Thank you Mal, you have certainly given us an insight into film making. It sounds as if you are going to be very busy during 2012. Exciting times ahead! Good luck with your projects, and I look forward to seeing a clip of Keith’s film, “Double Booked” soon.

If you would like to keep up with Mal, here are the places you'll find him.

Macolm Dewhirst
Poet - Writer - Film Maker
Blog - Pollysworda
Twitter - @MalDewhirst

And Keith’s website, Carrot Napper Productions is here, where you will find information about all his past, present and future projects. Keith is also on Twitter @KeithLarge3 


Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Goal List - Week Commencing January 8th 2012

Before I set any Goals for this week, I'll do a quick report on last week.

I started Draft 2 of my novel, to be honest its been horrendous. Its been like walking through treacle. I printed the whole thing out, but before I read a page, I decided I would write out a synopsis to see what I remembered. I hadn't seen my WIP since the end of November, having taken advice from other writers, to let it rest.

I don't think I did too badly on the recall, but I am really going to have to get some help doing a synopsis! I've spoken to a writing buddy who has done a few in his time, so I have a fair idea of what is expected now.

I managed the blog post, the 100 word challenge to take to my writers group on Saturday, and later that evening went out to take the Stills for a friends short film too. I hope to tell you more about that later on this week.

I dipped in and out of Writing Magazine, enjoying several of their articles, but I do have more to read. All this was interspersed wit lots of walking. So all in all it was a good week.

Onto this week then. As my previous post informs, you'll see I'm away from home chilling out at the moment.
I'm keeping the Goal list brief.


  • Start reading a novel (Before I go to Sleep by S J Watson)
  • Continue with Draft 2
  • Work on Stills pictures
  • Lots of Walking
Catch you later. 

Monday, 9 January 2012

Time Out

I'm a day late posting, but I do have good reason. Technically, I'm away from my desk, that is, the one at home, where I usually do my writing from. I have however managed to connect my laptop, be it a weak  Internet connection so I'd best get on with it.

I'm spending time out with old friends at the fabulous Ragdale Hall, Health Hydro and Thermal Spa for a few days, so this post will be brief.

I've had a lovely few days doing nothing much at all! Relaxing has been the order of today, the facilities are wonderful, and I've been sleeping! Its been brilliant, and its also given me plenty of time to get  this weeks Goal list sorted out in my head too, so I'll post that separately, with an update on what I've achieved last week.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Goal List

Each week I'll be posting my goals for the week ahead, running Sunday, through to Saturday.


  • Write a blog post
  • Begin work on draft 2 of my novel
  • Draft a synopsis 
  • Read Writing Magazine
  • Do the 100 word challenge set by my writing group
  • Go to my critique group
  • Do Stills photography for a friend
  • Go for a walk every other day (thinking time)

What Keeps Me Going?

January 1st 2012 has arrived, and all day I've been thinking about how to write down my goals for the coming year. I know what I need to do.

The year ahead will be about getting draft 2 of my novel completed, taking stock afterwards, and seeing if its good enough to progress any further. I'm a realist. I'll do what I need to do to get there.

That led me on to thinking what do I need to get me there? Ultimately, the only way I'll do it is by motivating myself, I'm the only one who can make it happen. Regardless of it being a new year, a fresh start, a clean sheet or whatever you want to call it. Only I can make anything happen. I'm also the person holding me back.

The things I need along the way to help me get here are quite simple really. Of course I'll need some sort of structure. I'm going with the weekly 'to do' list because I think it'll work best for me. Bite size chunks are more my way of doing anything. Its after all the way I approached NaNoWriMo, and that seemed to work out, so I'll begin with that path. If necessary I will change things around.

I'll need to alter my lifestyle in that I shall have to get up earlier a few days a week. Let me explain, I write best at night. Very late at night, into the early hours of the morning. I've tried writing when I get up. I can't hack it. But I can do boring chores. I reckon if I can get these out of the way early, go off and do my day job knowing they aren't waiting for me upon my return, then I'll feel better mentally, and hopefully have less to do before I settle down to write.

I'll need caffeine. Why? Because I drink coffee with friends. People who make me happy, people who motivate me, and people who inspire me. So caffeine is good for the soul.

Yoga is something I do. Regular readers will know I am plagued with back problems. Yoga keeps me aligned. I would like to do more yoga. Watch this space.

Lastly, I need thinking time. Lots of thinking time. I get mine when I'm out and about. Walking, taking pictures, observing life. I intend to continue with my walking at least every other day.

This is my plan. How will you get to your goals this year?