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Sunday, 22 February 2015

Goal List - Week Commencing 22nd February 2015

Image Credit - Pixabay
Another week has zipped by in a flash! Did I complete my goals? Well slightly held back with this horrid virus which I can't seem to shake off.

I said I'd write a couple of blog posts - Never got done I'm afraid, I got side tracked. I haven't made my mind up about doing the  Blogging from A to Z Challenge either. I did take part in #writingchat on Twitter, and that is just going from strength to strength, proving there are writers out there that want to interact on Twitter.

Extra stuff I did on the writing front was a plenty, so I don't feel bad about not getting stuff done. I actually got a lot of planning done on the current novel. I know much more about my characters now, as well as having introduced a new problem which will give the story more depth. I've sketched out the entire story summary, and written quite a bit of stuff that will never be in the finished novel, but is necessary for me to write the story. I did it all with a pen and a notebook, curled up in an armchair, and I really enjoyed it!

Also rose to the challenge set by a writing buddy, a little piece about setting up your own political party, and what would you do for the country. That was fun! Although I don't think my take on how we should run the country will ever come to be...

I finished my audio novel, and read two romantic novellas I purchased a while ago, so a great week for reading too.

Onto this week then.

Writing - More on the novel, hopefully meet up with some writing buddies for a brew if I'm better, and I'll do whatever challenge I receive from my buddy. #writingchat will be on Wednesday 8pm UK time so I'll certainly be available for that too.

Reading - Choose a new book, please recommend? I like crime, horror, romance or anything in- between. Have been known to read cornflake packets when nothing else is available.

Shiatsu - Book myself a session.

Water Therapy - Get to the pool for rehabilitation

Ring someone and have a catch up.

How are you going to spend your week?

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Goal List - Week Commencing 15th February 2015

Image Credit - Pixabay

Last week was odd, it passed in a blink and I'm not sure what I achieved. Ever had one of those weeks? Nothing bad happened, I even had a birthday, hence the cake above. Another year older, and hopefully wiser. Just a few irritations, as sometimes happen. So how did I do? I started a new audio book, Crash & Burn by Lisa Gardner, lots of suspense and mystery so far. I'm really enjoying reading this year.

I met my writing challenge, you may recall I had to write about a 'punishment to fit the crime' well in the end, I did a factual piece about a dreadful writers workshop I went to in December last year. Unfortunately, the tutor was ill prepared, swore a lot, had no idea what he was doing and made himself look a complete idiot much to the shock of the participants. After an hour and a half I walked out, along with several other writers. The event had been organised by a professional organisation, and it was a  shock that they hadn't vetted the tutor. Anyway, I wrote and complained, and eventually received a response to say that the person who would deal with my complaint had gone on leave, and would sort things out upon their return in the new year. Nothing has happened since. I'm spitting feathers, and have asked for an explanation and a refund or at the very least some recompense. As I said there has been no response, and the darker side of me thinks I should name and shame, and should of used my Twitter account at the time to air my views, or I should of blogged about it. However, good manners and sensibility  prevented me from lowering myself to their standard.

I shall continue to pursue matters. In the meantime, I wrote all about it, yet couldn't decide a punishment to fit the crime, bar never going to another one of their workshops or events again. But it helped me to let off steam, and realise that there are organisation out there who like to sweep things under the carpet. Of course it won't be going anywhere, but has given me an idea for an article on 'How Not To Do A Workshop' so at least something positive has come out of it, and if I ever get it published, perhaps said writing tutor, and organisation may recognise themselves and hang their heads in shame! Or at the very least, vet their tutors.

I blogged twice last week, and took part in another wild hour of #writingchat on Twitter, where lots of other writerly folk shared an hour on talking about the craft.

The week ahead looks like this...

Writing - Two more blog posts, and decide if I'm going to do the Blogging From A to Z Challenge 2015  apart from that, I'll take part in #writingchat on Wednesday 18th February at 8pm UK time. Do join me.

I'm not pushing myself hard this week, I've succumbed to the latest cold virus going around, and I'm feeling tired and jaded. I've got an physiotherapy consultation at last! As well as a session at the osteopath. Oh the joy!

Have a good week.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Handwritten Letters - Have They Drifted From Our Lives?

Image Credit

In the company of a friend, I noticed she was busy scribbling words down onto paper, nothing unusual with that, except she is not a writer. So I asked her what she was doing? 'I'm writing a letter to my daughter,' she said. Taken aback, I replied, 'don't you text, or send emails?' 'Oh yes,' she replied, 'but at Christmas, when she was home from University, she mentioned, she had never received a letter, so I thought I'd surprise her.' I immediately remembered how special it had been to receive a handwritten letter, and the joy it had brought me.

Our conversation turned to how as girls, we'd written to pen pals in far away lands, and my friend confided how she had written to her parents weekly whilst overseas training to be a nurse, and of the joy and pleasure it gave them, to be able to read her letters to family members. Their letters kept her going, reminding her of family and home. Her mother wrote about what was going on in the village, who was doing what, and how well the vegetable patch was doing, or what she was baking that day. My friend's mother passed away some years ago, and she treasures those letters today.

To my shame, I couldn't remember the last time I'd sent a handwritten letter, cards and notes yes, but not a letter. I'm guessing I'm typical of a lot of people and this makes me sad. Have we lost our love of letter writing? Or is there a chance we can spark a revival? Can you still buy quality writing paper and fountain pens? Who can remember using one? And the distinctive smell of the ink?

Letters are so personal, when written in your own hand, on paper you've chosen, you are revealing something of yourself to the recipient. Its rewarding to receive a letter in the post, there is something intimate about it, and you can keep letters forever, cherishing and re-discovering them in the years to come, re-living the memories held within them. I can't imagine that happening with an email, or a text messages, can you?

If you've ever received a handwritten letter you'll know the pleasure it brings. If not then you're yet to receive that pleasure. Why not write a letter to someone today? It will bring enormous joy and surprise to them, and a sense of satisfaction to you when you put it in the post box, but don't forget to put a stamp on it.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Goal list - Week Commencing 8th February 2015

Spring Blooms - Maria A Smith
The last week has been productive on many fronts. I'm making good progress health-wise, and at last,  beginning to feel more like my old self.

Because I haven't been outside for six weeks, I'm not aware of what is happening in the garden, and beyond. Feeling a bit institutionalised, I ordered some flowers on my weekly internet shop to cheer myself up. When the daffodils turned up on Wednesday evening their buds were tightly closed, and much to my surprise, and delight, when I walked into the kitchen the following morning, the sight that met my eyes, made me smile. Just look at those blooms!

Usually I prefer my daffodils in the garden, or in a woodland setting, they herald  the beginning of spring is just around the corner. They've been making the news this week too. Apparently, supermarkets have had to move them away from the fruit and vegetable aisles, where they traditionally sit with the flowers. The reason given is that people are mistaking them for food! Public Health England has warned that they may be mistaken for onions or Chinese vegetables. I'm very surprised, however daffodils contain toxic alkaloids which cause severe vomiting.

Writing  - Did the monologue from my protagonist's POV, and learnt some interesting new information about her character. A writing buddy also sent over several questions via email, and told me not to think about them too much, and just to answer them off the cuff. I did, and that has also helped with fleshing her out. Luckily for me this weeks writing challenge was to write a monologue, so it was a case of two birds with one stone.

Reading - I'm loving my latest book choice. I've almost finished The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins definitely compulsive, gripping and a first class read! K.M. Weiland's book, Outlining Your Novel is proving a hit too. Tons of good writerly advice to take forward.

Last week you may recall, Patsy Collins and I decided to try an experiment on Twitter. Using the hashtag #writingchat we agreed a time of 8pm on Wednesday evening, and put the word out that we would show up and chat about writerly matters for an hour. Wow! What a turn out we had, and lots of writerly chatter too. So we're going to do it again soon. I'll keep you updated.

The week ahead looks like this...

Healthwise - Gentle stretching. Very gentle stretching, and I have been warned NOT to overdo it. The osteopath is giving me a week off so that everything can settle, and so that he can see if I can make any progress on my own.

Reading - I'll finish the current book and look for my next read...I welcome suggestions. Writing Magazine has arrived so I'll be having a catch up with that too.

Writing - Although time consuming, I'm enjoying bringing more depth to my novel. This week I'm hoping to re-write some pages. I'll also get another blog post out, and complete the writing challenge as set by a writing buddy. The brief is, 'A Punishment To Fit The Crime' which I was given this morning, and I'll have one hour to work on this theme. Mmm, will have to see what I can come up with...we both work to the same brief, and then swap work via email for critique. We've been doing this for many years, and from these small beginnings have created some great writing, a lot of which has gone on to bigger things.

How did last week go for you? Did things pan out the way you expected?

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Goal List - Week Commencing 1st February 2015

Take a Breath - Maria A Smith

I'm happy to report I actually achieved ALL of the goals I set myself last week! Honestly, I'm shocked, but its true, and I managed to do a little extra too.

I've written a short non-fiction piece, and finished the audio book Listen to the Moon by Michael Morpurgo which I thoroughly enjoyed. A World War 1 story with a difference, it tells the tale of a young girl found injured, and unable to speak, on an isolated island in the Scillies. Worth a read. I also finished reading last months Writing Magazine too.

My biggest and best achievment of the week is being able to sit up. I'm so happy, and feel like Ive turned a corner at last. The osteopath is pleased with my progress, and although I'm a bit battered and bruised from my last session, I'm definitely happier!

As its the beginning of February, I need to do a quick review of the goals I set for the year. To be honest I thought this was going to look pathetic given the start I've had, however, I'm really pleased, as I've already made some headway. So far, I've done the following:

Health
Lose weight - a stone  by December 31st 2015 - I've lost 10lbs! 

Home Life
De-clutter  - Get rid of something every week during 2015 - Yep, I've managed to do this too. 

Writing
Produce a goal list weekly - Done.
Blog regularly, at least once a week - Done.

Reading 
Listen to fifteen audio books by December 31st 2015 - One down, fourteen to go. 

Some things haven't got off the ground because I'm not mobile, and some haven't because I need to set some definite targets to reach the end goal. For instance the novel re-write. I'll be breaking it down into smaller steps, which will enable me to go forward without it looking like a mammoth task.

I'm going into February with enthusiasm, and have set these goals for the week ahead.

Reading and Writing
Start a new book - On the recommendation of a friend, I'll be listening to The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins. I'll also be reading Photography for Writers By Simon Whaley and I'll be dipping into Structuring Your Novel by K.M. Weiland

On the writing front, I'm going to spend time fleshing out my main character, I'll attempt a monologue, or I may do an interview which has worked well for me in the past. Apart from that, I plan only to do my Sunday writing session which will be a short challenge piece on a theme, yet to be set.

Health
Rest and Recover will be my mantra, therefore I'll continue to try and better my steps around the house, and weather permitting, I may get out in the garden for a walk.

One final thing, if you're on Twitter, perhaps you'd like to join Patsy Collins  and I on Wednesday 4th February at 8pm, where we'll be tweeting about writerly things for an hour. We'll be using the hashtag  #writingchat We've decided to do this because we're both fed up with the lack of 'real' people on Twitter which seems to have become a wasteland of bots auto-tweeting. Its experimental and we don't know if it'll work or not, but we're out to prove there is more to tweeting than shameless promotion, and that there are still some writers willing to interact with each other.
Find us here @mariaAsmith and @PatsyCollins

I hope your week is productive, do leave a comment and let me know how you got on?