Thursday, 31 October 2013

Don't Be Afraid To Throw Your Hat In The Ring

Throw Your Hat In The Ring - Maria A Smith

A quick post folks, two competitions worth a look.

Erewash Writers' Group bring you their  'Full Stop' Short Story Competition closing November 7th 2013, so get your skates on and enter, you'll have to think outside the box for this one, well worth a go, and its FREE to enter!


Thynks Publications Ltd bring you Mysterious Moments - Fiction  a short story competition closing November 30th 2013, who knows, it might just be the right competition for your masterpiece. 

Remember, you have to be in it to win it, so go on, get your entries in NOW!

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Goal List Week Commencing 27th October 2013

What You Looking At?  - Maria A Smith

All Change! The clocks have gone back, and for me that heralds change. Not only is it darker in the evenings, which curtails some of my pastimes like walking after the evening meal, its also a good productive time for my writing. I seem to get far more done.

I won't be doing NaNo WriMo though this year, instead I'll be rewriting my novel. After a really productive meeting with a fellow writer on Saturday, I have a new restructured plan. Strange how two heads are better than one when it comes to sorting out worries about plot and character.

My emphasis for the next month will be to rewrite one chapter a week. It is doable. I have roughed out a schedule in my diary, and although I know this will probably alter on a week to week basis, I am going to try and do my best to stick to regular slots.

I am now in the Chair at Phoenix Writers for the next month, which means I'll have a little extra administrative work to do, as well as setting the weekly writing challenge. Lots of fun to be had there!

Last week, I got out for a few short walks, both of them in daylight, I'm not sure how I'll fit walking in now, but I'll definitely try out some new times if I can, or perhaps think about visiting a gym. Ugh! Perish the thought...did I really write that? The weather is dodgy too, as I type, Britain is being battered by heavy storms. Do you think the animals in the picture above knew something? I couldn't resist snapping them. They looked so strange in their field, just standing there like statues.

What else? Its that time of year to bring out the stewpot, and I must say I'm really looking forward to some delicious soups and stews. I'm enjoying the veggie boxes I've recently ordered, and so far, have managed to use everything up. I hate wasting food. Its also the porridge season officially! Although I'm an all year round fan.

My youngest will turn eighteen at the end of the week. Thats truly frightening. Where have the years gone? They'll be a family celebration at some point, when she can fit us in-between friends and birthday outings. Oh to be young again! Err no...I'm not sure I'd survive.

Do share what you've been up to? Or what your plan is over the next week? I love hearing your news, and if you are doing NaNoWriMo, good luck, its fun and frenzied, and you'll feel so good when you hit the magic 50k!

Porridge, Pears and Blueberries - Maria A Smith

Monday, 21 October 2013

Goal List Week Commencing 20th October 2013

Bare Trees - Maria A Smith

Here we are again. Another week gone, so did I make it count?

Where I've been - Its been a mad whirlwind week, my time has mostly been spent keeping on top of my day job, I needed to get up to date with lots of paper work, which is the least enjoyable part of work as far as I'm concerned! All done now, so I am smiling, and feeling rather smug.

Apart from that, I spent a lovely day yesterday with my writing buddies. Exciting times ahead as we embark on a new project. More news on that in a later post.

What I've seen - The Telegraph newspaper every day this week. I decided to take a paper again after a lengthy break, mainly because the news depressed me, and I really had no time to read daily. Okay so what has changed? I am nervously thinking I may have the same experience again, so I've swapped from The Times, for better or worse I don't know? Also I am making the time to read. It makes me sit down, it slows my much too fast pace of life, and I relax, which I need to do - but also, I must read a constant supply of well written articles if I am to pursue the idea of writing non fiction. The content has been varied, and interesting so far.

The good thing, is that I paid for a one year digital subscription with my Tesco Club Card vouchers, so it doesn't feel like I've spent any money on such a luxury! Its delivered every day to my iPad and once downloaded can be read off line anywhere. I'm impressed so far.

What I've bought - Perfume! Purchased on  impulse when I saw my favourite scent heavily reduced in one of those fragrance shops in the city, I couldn't resist. And breakfast, a proper treat. A lovely feast at Cafe Rouge, I can definitely recommend their omelettes, and the service was also outstanding. It set me up for the day.

In the last week I've not been able to get very much done on my novel, I will this week though as I'll be presenting my new outline on Saturday. I am very much looking forward to it.

I did the brief for the writing project and it was very well received by the group. Their enthusiasm was refreshing, and going forward it feels good to know everyone is onboard.

I sent a letter off to a magazine in the hopes of it getting published. It took ten minutes to write, and who knows it might earn me some pennies too. Unfortunately, I didn't get the flash fiction challenge done this week, I must try harder to get back in the swing of short pieces as they really do help with the longer writing projects.

Remember I said I'd keep a sleep diary, well, I did and I was horrified at how bad I am at getting a good nights rest, adjustments to my diet and lifestyle will have to be made, and I'm thinking its so close to changing the clocks that I may as well begin then.

How did your week go?

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Goal List Week Commencing 13th October 2013

View Through My Window - Maria A Smith

The above image was the view I had through my car window on Tuesday afternoon, as I sat in a horrendous traffic jam which seemed endless, although luckily I was only caught up in it for fifty minutes. A beautiful autumn day in progress, is now a distant memory, its been lashing it down here for the last forty eight hours, and there is no sign of any let up if the weather forecasters are to be believed. The weekend weather has truly been miserable and grey, and has reminded me, that sadly there are probably going to be a lot more days like it, before we see the sunshine again.

However,  on a positive note, there will be more time for writing, as outdoor activities will be curtailed. Already I've spent more time on writing related activities this last week. I've done more on my novel, have written a new short story which I need to send off somewhere. As well as attended a writers workshop on inspiration, not that I really need any! But its good to network, and get out and about once in a while. The tutor was Linda Lewis, and she set us lots of writing tasks, which were fun to do, the day passed very quickly, although I was glad to get home and put my feet up beside the fire.

What else have I done in the last seven days? 

Received my first organic Riverford vegbox, in an attempt to eat more vegetables, and cut down on the chemicals we are all digesting. I'd promised myself I'd give them a go this autumn, as I generally eat out less often in winter, and have a little more time for meal planning, and cooking. I'm hoping I'll get in the habit over the next few months. So far so good, I chose the smallest box, so I could see exactly what I was going to receive, and I also ordered a salad bag too.

Both arrived before 8am on Wednesday morning, and were stuffed to the brim with lovely colourful vegetables. The quality is fantastic, although I'm not used to being faced with fresh from the field produce, so I need to get into a better routine of cleaning and storing the different vegetables for the week. Cooking from a vegbox is different, and personally I'm the sort that needs lots of inspirational recipes. Riverford are really good, there are loads online, and I've downloaded their App for my phone too, so hopefully I'll get into the swing of it quickly.

Anything that hasn't been cooked by Monday night, is going into making soup. I'm not too worried as we all absolutely love soup, and I've been hounded by the family to get back to making some, although there isn't  much left from the box.

I did get around to swimming, and resting, and even managed one early night. I need to work on that though as I have also had three very late evenings.

The week ahead then...

Writing - 

I need to send something off, be it a short story for a competition, or a letter to the pages of a magazine.
Do more on my novel
Prepare a brief for a writing project
Do the weekly flash fiction challenge for Phoenix Writers

Reading - 

Finish the novel I'm reading

Sleep - 

I'm going to keep a diary this week, and hopefully that will help me to form a good habit of getting to bed earlier! 

Has the last week been good or bad for you? What are your plans for this one?

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Goal List Week Commencing 6th October 2013

Maria A Smith

Revision and editing has dominated my writing time in the last week, finally I feel the mist is beginning to clear and I can go forward with my novel. I'm going to do a complete re-write, I know I'm not alone in having to do this, major rewriting seems to be common, it just feels that way when you're in the thick of it, and you begin to doubt yourself, and what you've done before.

I'll be making huge changes, every chapter and scene will need work. This last week, I've been churning things over in my mind, and I'm feeling more positive to take the story to the next level. Even though it means characters will be cut, and entire scenes will be shifted. I've been looking at character, plot, and setting, each area needs lots of work, but I'll just give my thoughts on character for the moment.

Shall I cut anyone out? - I'm going to lose one or two who don't have major parts, for the sake of my plot, they aren't needed, and I feel they are now distracting me. So they'll be cut out. Maybe I'll reincarnate them in another story one day, but for now, they are redundant.

I'm desperate to write more backstory for each of my main characters, its important readers know what has led them to the situation thats occurring, I need to convey what each one desires, what they fear, its going to be tricky weaving it in, in such a way that I don't give too much away when I raise the stakes.  I'm wary of flashbacks too, but there are some key past events that need to be told.

Daft as it sounds, I might interview each of my characters, starting with easy stuff, like where were you born? How old are you? Then work my way round to the harder stuff, like, what are you scared of? Bizarrely, I feel I need to sneak up on them, let them feel comfortable, while I interrogate them. I'll get a deeper understanding of what motivates them, and of their emotional issues, which are critical to the way the story plays out on the page. I've done it before in my previous novel and it worked really well.

This writing game is hard don't you think? I keep asking myself, why have I chosen to write such a complicated story? Ugh! Then I think, if only I can get this story told. Its so frustrating. Deep down I know I'm not alone, I'm not am I? Theres lots of you fighting to get it written? But it has certainly felt like it for most of the last year.

So whats changed to make me feel I can go forward? I've made a new plan, beginning with arranging to meet up with a writing buddy who is also struggling with a novel. We've arranged a date to pitch our outlines to each other, and this has given me a new focus. I need to be prepared. I never go into a business meeting unprepared, so I'm treating this meeting the same. This week I'm going through whats left of the novel, making myself a chapter plan. Numbering each one and writing two sentences about it on a piece of A4, I'm keeping it as simple as I can at this stage.

When thats done, I'll print two copies, and cut one up so I have a strip for each chapter, that way, I can move them about, so maybe chapter one, fits better at chapter six, and later chapters need to come forward. I find this is a good visual way of brainstorming if I need a prologue, or to see if I am starting in the wrong place. Often I need to start further into the story.

The rest of my writing week will be blogging, here, and over at Phoenix Writers Subs Club and that is definitely enough. Otherwise, I'll be reading my manuscript in order to do the rewrite.

I'll definitely be making time for relaxation too, maybe a walk in the local park, the trees are changing magnificently, I want to capture them with my camera. I might swim too, I suppose it depends on what else life throws at me...

What will you be up to?

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...