Sunday, 30 September 2012

Goal List Week Commencing September 30th

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October is a day away. I have no idea where September went, I just know it disappeared. After much deliberation, I am having to make some harsh decisions about my writing. I can't do everything. Therefore I must choose carefully what I spend time on, and when I do it.

More about that in another post, lets see how the last seven days went...

Writing - 

Send the short story out - I am stalled, I did a final edit, but need to run over it again as I am not quite happy with it.
Write two blog posts - I wrote four altogether.
Do some work on my novel draft - Yes, but not on the novel I was working on this month. Instead I dragged my first novel out, and reworked the prologue.
Flash fiction - 100 words for Saturday- Yes, done. Not as well received as I had hoped though, so I will look at it again.
Phoenix Writers Saturday session - A fun session, very busy, lots of prose to get through, and lots of lovely talented writers. Critique was fast and fierce but always constructive and fair.

Additionally, I've purchased Scrivener, an amazing piece of software for writers, and I hope to learn how to use it over the next few weeks. I'll be asking you all for tips, and tricks.

I've also researched a magazine I am targeting to write an article for in the near future. Yes, really. Article writing appeals to me, and its something I'd like to explore further.

Relaxation - 

A massage, because its long overdue - Oh yes, see here to read all about my lovely midweek break. Its a distant memory now, but I very much enjoyed it!
An evening out - I went to the pictures, and saw The Dark Knight Rises, I've been looking forward to going to see this movie for a long time. It didn't disappoint me. Very dark, and Gothic in a strange sort of way.
Discover a new recipe - Nope! Didn't get time this week. Although I noticed Jamie Oliver has another new book out this week. I'll be checking it out soon.
Tea and cake. Yum! - A very good week on the cake front. Coffee & Walnut, a cherry scone, and a Bakewell slice. Not all at the same time.

Boring but necessary - 

De-junking - Take a carload of stuff to the charity shop - I didn't get around to this one. I simply ran out of time.

Really pleased with the balance this last week, it seemed to work out much better.

The plan for the week ahead looks like this

Writing - 

Submissions - I will be sending something out this week.

Blog Posts - Planning and writing three posts.

Monologue - My homework from the writers group, and its going to be entertaining, the brief being, I have to write from the POV of an object that I share my early mornings with...something to do with breakfast. I will have to have a think about this one. Usually, I write very much on the hoof, however I can't see me pulling this one off if I leave it last minute.

Relaxation - 

Walking - I have planned two sessions as a minimum.

Music - Something new. No idea what, but I am going to do it.

Something to entertain me - Working on this one.

New recipe - Good Food Magazine arrived a few days ago, I'll pick something to whip up for tea.

Boring but necessary - 

That'll be the de-junking I skipped last week.

Household paperwork - Ugh!

That is the list for the week ahead. What are your plans?

Friday, 28 September 2012

Competition News

A quick post to let you know about a competition doing the rounds, and also an opportunity to write fiction  for the Women's Magazine market.

First off a very topical genre, a competition suited to anyone that thinks they can write steamy sex scenes. The Daily Mail is running an Erotic short story competition. See here where you'll find lots of tips to help you pen a spicy story.

And in complete contrast, (seriously) 'The People's Friend' magazine is having a revamp, and they have  changed their short story submission guidelines. Do have a look here and see if you might be able to write either a short story, or even a serial for them. They are one of the few women's magazines accepting short stories from new contributors.

That's it folks, until Sunday when I'll share more of my week in writing, and what I've been up to out in the real world. Have a good weekend, and if you have any news of competitions to share, do let me know by leaving a comment - I love hearing from you all.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Don't Pick Dull Titles - Thought For Thursday

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How do you come up with a title for your short story, or your novel? Do they come to you easily?

Sometimes it can be difficult to choose a really good title. Like puzzles they should provide clues or hints to what lies ahead.

I usually keep things simple, for flash fiction and short stories, a single word, or two at most. It isn't often I'll go for anything lengthy, and I definitely don't feel comfortable using whole sentences.

I'll try for something relevant to the storyline, a keyword is often enough to spark an idea.

When writing a longer WIP, I'm a bit quirky, I need a working title to begin. Doesn't matter if its not exactly right but I must have one in place. Something meaningful to the theme of the story, which will create a tone, the title needs to communicate something to the reader.

How do you select yours?

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Time Out Tuesday

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I am having a delightful time, full of treats and self indulgence, total me time. How you may ask, have I managed that in my mad world? Well, I’m at Ragdale Hall, away from the stresses and strains of everyday life. I only arrived at 2pm this afternoon, its barely teatime, and already I feel totally chilled out.

The wonderful people of Ragdale greeted me with a warm welcome on a blustery wet afternoon, and while I sipped Earl Grey, my overnight bag was despatched to the most gorgeously decorated room - purple and lilac, my two favorite colours. And so I was off to a very good start on my Overnight Reviver break.

After a quick visit to the jacuzzi I had the most amazingly relaxing body massage. I asked the therapist if she could give me a scalp massage too, as I’ve had an irritating tension headache for the last few days. ‘No trouble at all,’ she replied, ‘I’ll do your pressure points for you too.’ And she did! Wow...truly the best massage I’ve had in years.

I felt so good afterwards, and still do! Not only did my head feel better, but Bev, my therapist managed to undo some of the stresses in my lower back. I am pain free.

Afterwards, there had to be cake. To celebrate a lovely self indulgent afternoon. 

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Goal List Week Commencing 23rd September 2012

The Way I See It - Maria A Smith

Autumn is here, and its time for me to make changes to how I spend my time. As the evenings get darker, much earlier, its likely I'll not do as much walking after my evening meal. Therefore I'll be looking for ways to pull some walking into my day.

I want to settle to writing earlier in the evenings too, allowing me to get to bed at a reasonable hour. I think I will function better if I get a decent nights sleep.

For these plans to work, I must get organised. As part of that organisation, I've decided to make a few changes to when I post on my blog, as well as what I post. Its also time for a change. Therefore, from now until further notice, I intend to post to the blog as follows.

Sunday - Goal List - To keep myself on track.

Tuesday - Catch Up Post - I'll be putting the kettle on, and over a brew, I'll converse about whatever is topical in my world, as well as a little progress on whats been happening, or not as the case may be.

Thursday - Thought for Thursday - Mainly about writing.

And that is how I'll proceed until December, when I'll review how things are going.

Now a recap on the goals I set myself last week.

Writing - I have edited and honed the new short story. I haven't sent it out yet.

Reading - Whatever I fancied I said, so it was mainly magazines, and newspapers, and blogs. It felt good to chill out and read. I even managed a few short stories too.

Cake - I have said cake is therapy, and it is...I had a a lovely cream tea, and then a walk through ancient woodland with my camera.

De - Clutter - More de-junking has been done from around the house. I even managed to throw some stuff out of my wardrobe.

The week ahead.

Writing - 

Send the short story out
Write two blog posts
Do some work on my novel draft
Flash fiction - 100 words for Saturday
Phoenix Writers Saturday session

Relaxation - 

A massage, because its long overdue
An evening out
Discover a new recipe
Tea and cake. Yum!

Boring but necessary - 

De-junking - Take a carload of stuff to the charity shop

That is how my week looks, what about yours? 

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Find Your Autumn Motivation - Thought for Thursday

Here in the UK, it will officially be Autumn on Saturday - my favourite season of the year. There is a distinct nip in the air already, temperatures have dropped, and evenings are much cooler.

Very soon the foliage on the trees will turn shades of yellow, orange and red, before fading to brown. Leaves will flutter to the ground, creating a rich woodland carpet with that deliciously distinct scent of pine and damp earth.

Autumn at Calke Park - Maria A Smith

Thoughts turn to spending cosy evenings in, and outdoor activities will be put on hold until Spring.  The lure of a roaring fire in the log burner, and a steaming mug of hot chocolate is already conjured up in my writers mind.

As we hibernate in our homes, how will you look at your work with renewed energy and interest?

I've learnt over time that its very hard to constantly find ways of staying motivated. We must refuel regularly and not let the tank run dry.

I'm assuming you already have the desire to achieve your chosen goal, write more short stories, get on with the novel, enter competitions, or maybe pitch some articles, whatever, but maybe you're a little like me, you can't take the right actions for a consistent enough time, and therefore you aren't completing your goals? So before you do anything perhaps what you need to do is recharge.

If you've found your motivation has faded, its probably your bodies way of telling you to take it easy. Have a break from writing. Stop pushing yourself so hard, and get a good nights sleep, or better still get two or three.

Book a day away. Go for a picnic in the park, a long walk, and enjoy the changing season, or enrol on a workshop for the day, do something totally different. Learn to knit, make chocolates, bake a cake, or paint with watercolours. Whatever, you chose, make a day out of it.

Afterwards, come back to your desk, sit down, and write your goal down. Next, write down the reason why you want to Then make sure you connect with your reasons often. Look at the reason daily and commit it to mind.

How will you find your motivation to go into Autumn?

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Goal List Week Commencing 16th September 2012

Making the Transition  by Maria A Smith

Why did I even bother making a list? Looking back over the last week it has become clear to me that I am veering further and further off track.

The plan I had has gone off course, and I feel jaded. And annoyed with myself.

This time last week I said I'd do a lot of stuff, lets recap...

Writing - I said I was going to carry on with my WIP. I didn't. This has got to me more than anything else.

I did write a new short story, and a couple of blog posts. I do enjoy the blog, especially when I get comments from you dear readers. Thank you.

Reading - Writing Magazine did turn up, and I started to read it.

Cake - I said I needed my fix! I got it...

Walking - I did very little walking, only a couple of very short walks, but I did go to yoga.


I said I'd submit a piece of work. I didn't, because its the new short story I've written, and it needs a final edit.

I'm finding it hard to get back into regular writing. As we move into Autumn I like to prepare. Get ready for the months ahead. For some reason this year its much harder, and I don't know why.

Maybe, because we haven't had a decent summer I feel its not time to move towards dark evenings.

Anyway, I will try and get back on track this week. I hope to do the following...

Writing - Edit the new short story and get it sent off.

Reading - Whatever I fancy.

Cake - Its therapy.

De - Clutter - Its time to continue with this necessary task. There is still a lot of junk to shift to the charity shops.

I'll be busy. How does your week look?

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Happy Saturday - The Searchers - Sweets For My Sweet (1966)

Hands up who can remember  'The Searchers' then? Formed in 1959, this beat band were around at the same time as the Beatles, Gerry and the Pacemakers, and the Merseybeats. It is said that they took their name from the film The Searchers, a western starring John Wayne.

Here's a bonus track for you, Don't Throw Your Love Away, one of my personal favourites from this group. Released in 1964 it went straight to No.1 in the UK and Ireland single charts.

Enjoy the music - Happy Saturday!

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Are You A Happy Writer? - Thought for Thursday

Maria A Smith
Have you got a happy writing habit?

I've overheard many writers talk about what they think they need to make them happy. A lot believe they won't be happy until they find an agent, and then when they do, they won't be happy until they get a publisher.

If and when they get a publisher, they realise they are under pressure to not only write frantically to produce another book, but they must promote it themselves. Join Twitter, Facebook, keep a blog, do book launches, set up a web site etc.

That's all fine if its what you want?

Alternatively, I have writing buddies who will always write regardless of if they are ever published. For some it is simply fun, for others its therapy. And then there are the totally crazy writers I know. But then that is another post topic entirely.

Its important to find a writing habit that suits your goals and style, whatever is motivating you to write.

Here are a few essentials.

1. You have to write - Just do it! Its as simple as that, but then its not is it? Stop procrastinating.

2. Discipline - You have to focus, make a plan, and finish! We all need structure. Whoever has the answer to this one, please post a comment and share your formula.

3.Support - Don't isolate yourself, you need the support of the writing community. Join a group, get a blog, tweet, whatever, but make that BIG scary step. Share your thoughts, and your writing. Get helpful positive feedback that you can use to move forward and complete your project.

We are creative, we need help with our ideas, and our dreams, so make writing a happy habit!

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Goal List Week Commencing 9th September 2012

I've been way from home since Wednesday last week, and its funny how the change has knocked me out of sync so to speak. I didn't make big plans last week. Its a quick list to review.

Late Summer Poppies - Maria A Smith

Writing I said I was taking a break. I did. Apart from some ideas scribbled in my notebook, I can't claim to have written much beyond a very short post for the blog yesterday.

ReadingI didn't begin the novel. I did catch up on magazines.

Walking - I did loads! Worked very hard and got out and about everyday. A tally of twenty two miles for the week. Mainly because I was away from home.

Getting away gave me time to think about things. I want to try and crack on with the WIP again, its taking me forever to get through draft 2, and its frustrating that I can't get it done.

The week ahead looks like this.

Writing - Carry on with WIP.

Reading - Hopefully Writing Magazine will have turned up, I know they have had some issues with the printers.

Cake - I need my fix!

Walking - After cake, there will have to be exercise, so seeing as I made a good start this last week, I will try my best to continue.


Submit a piece of work - That old chestnut - I am so very lazy about getting my work out there. I am going to force myself to send something out, somewhere. Maybe some flash fiction, or an article, or filler.

I'm interested in what you all think about submitting work. Do you do it? Do you like the idea, but like me, you're, well...lazy? Or do you have a formula, a plan that works to ensure you are submitting work on a regular basis? Do share, and let me know what your plan is for the week ahead too. I love hearing from you.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Happy Saturday - Walking On Broken Glass - Annie Lennox

Walking on Broken Glass was released in 1992 by the Scottish singer-songwriter Annie Lennox, and the music video is based on the film 'Dangerous Liaisons'. The lyrics describe a woman who is anguished over a break up.

The song appeared on her first solo album, 'Diva' in 1992, and went straight to number 1 in the UK album charts, as well as going on to win many awards. A huge success it has since sold 1.2 million copies worldwide.

Happy Saturday!

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Goal List Week Commencing 2nd September 2012

Maria A Smith

Last week was tough going.

I was pleased to see it out - I didn't achieve all my goals. However, I was well chuffed with what I did do.

Writing I managed the flash fiction for my group meeting, and did have a think about where to be heading for the rest of 2012, although I've not fully decided what I want to do next.

Reading -  I flicked through Writers Forum, but didn't get to start the new book! In Too Deep by Portia Da Costa 

De-cluttering Really pleased to report I've cleared a lot of rubbish out of the way! Amazed with myself, as its been a HUGE bug-bear for a long time.

Lots of household paperwork has been dealt with now, as well as a major re-cycling programme. The bins are full!

The week ahead.

Writing - Very little. I'm taking a break this week.

Reading - Begin the novel, In Too Deep, and catch up on magazines

Walking - Time to get back into some regular exercise, the benefits of walking are ten-fold. Not only does it strengthen your heart and lungs, it also boosts your immune system as well as aiding sleep, improving mood and helping with weight loss.

I always feel so much better when I'm walking for short bursts everyday. So this week I'll be trying to get out as often as I can for at least 30 minutes a day.

What are you up to? Do you fit exercise into your daily life?

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Happy Saturday - Berlin - Take my breath away (Top Gun soundtrack)

A great song. And Top Gun was a fabulous movie too. Listening to the song has made me want to watch it all over again. Was it really 1986? My, how time flies...

Happy Saturday - Enjoy!

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...