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Sunday, 20 March 2016

First Day of Spring

Pixabay Image 
Hurrah! Today is the first day of Spring, and what a beautiful day it's been here in Leicestershire. The sun shone brightly for most of today, and it's whet my appetite for lighter evenings and milder weather. I can't wait until we alter the clocks at the weekend.

Last week, I wrote a 500 word story, and did my writing club challenge. Apart from that, I thought out how to continue with the novel, and I've made a start on that this afternoon. I'm feeling highly motivated.

I need your help novelists.  When you go back checking scenes or chapters, do you have a check list? It's what I'm doing this coming week, and I'm at the stage where I'm asking,

1. Does this scene move the story forward? Something has to change, and when it does it's time to move on.

2. Does it offer some new information? Give the reader more detail about the character, or the situation, some back story, or new knowledge?

3. Are there any disconnects? Have I lost the plot? Do I leave things hanging?  And never go back to resolve at least some of them?

4. Is there anything I need to cut?  Everything has to earn it's place in this story, otherwise it distracts or bores the reader.

5. Does it hang together, is anything missing?

6. Are the scenes in the correct order?

What other 'big stuff' do I need to sort now?

Other news...

The diet ISN'T going well, I was seduced by the cake on more than one occasion last week. My body is craving sweet things and carbohydrates. I'm telling myself it knows what it's doing, it's repairing my sprained ankle and I'll be back on the healthy eating soon.

After Easter.

What have you been up to?

Part of my five a day - Maria A Smith 

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Our Feathered Friends


March Snowdrops - Maria A Smith

In the last week I've noticed the birds are singing again, a sure sign that Spring is almost sprung! 
I went out for a short walk this afternoon - it was lovely. The air was fresh and clean, and I took my time looking up into the bare branches to see if I could spot any of our feathered friends. 

I wasn't disappointed.  I saw a couple of Moor hens exploring around the sides of a pond, a robin sitting high above me, basking in the afternoon sunshine, and a pair of blue tits too, as well as a very fine blackbird. 

It gladdened my heart to see the birds, and made me feel very lucky to be able to get out and about without too much difficulty. 

Blackbird - Pixabay 

I couldn't get close enough with my camera to shoot the birds, but I'm allowed to use these great images from Pixabay on my blog to tell the story of my afternoon. If you aren't familiar with  Pixabay, all their images are free of copyright, as they are creative commons in the public domain. They are supplied free of charge because people like myself, who take pictures, but also use images have donated them.  

You can donate money each time you download an image, but it's not compulsory. I do every now and again. They suggest the price of a cup of coffee. 

It's very easy to upload your own images, should you wish to contribute and they are all vetted for quality and suitability before they are put onto the site for download. Not all of mine get through, as they aren't good enough, or perhaps it is because they are overrun with certain topics.

Interestingly, one of my tea and cake images has been downloaded over three hundred and fifty times!

Coloured Bark - Maria A Smith

The image above is mine, and I'll offer to share it with Pixabay if it's good enough, because who knows they might be short of images of coloured bark and if I can help someone who needs such a picture on their blog, or for an article, then that makes me happy, and I'm giving back.

My walk ended with a pot of tea and a slice of cake, and I was going to snap a picture, but I was so hungry I forgot, and had licked up every crumb before I remembered.


Blue Tit - Pixabay
Last week  - A bit of an odd week, the ankle slowed me down but I managed to do some flash fiction and I went to my writing group on Saturday, and offered feedback on the other writers manuscripts.

The Week Ahead - I need to step it up a gear as I've a few things I really need to get done.
Such as putting together a new revised plan for working on my novel. A flash fiction piece and a new 500 word short story, which MUST be ready to read on Saturday morning.
No pressure then.

Do stop by and leave me a comment - I love to hear what you've all been doing. Catch you soon...

Monday, 7 March 2016

Things I Learnt Last Week

Maria A Smith
Last week was busy, chocked full of good and bad things.

# I'm beginning to enjoy Pilates - It's taken me a while to feel confident in what I'm doing, and I've had several one to one sessions, on top of weekly pilates classes. I'm really impressed with how much more I'm getting out of this mind-body exercise. It's a safe sensible exercise, and I've become more body aware since starting it.  What I really like is that, no matter what your age, or condition, you can get something out of pilates.

# Bad stuff happens  - Unfortunately, I stumbled and sprained my ankle on Friday. It wasn't pretty, made worse by the fact that I was on my own in London at an event. It happened as I arrived. Fortunately I managed to conduct my business, but when I stood up to leave, four hours later and could barely walk! I realised I had to get across London in rush hour traffic late on a Friday afternoon to catch my train back to the Midlands, and then drive my car the short distance home.

The pain was excruciating! I had no chance of hailing a taxi, and I thought, 'please don't let this impact on my back' those who know me, through the pages of this blog, will remember I fell in 2014, sprained my left ankle badly, and although I didn't know it then, I'd put my back out. I was on crutches for two months, and had severe pain which eventually subsided. However, I was left with a niggling ache in my lower back which just got worse and worse as the year progressed. This led to me being incapacitated for the first four months of 2015. Hell! I was scared! And yes I'm using too many exclamation marks in this post.

I limped down Park Lane to Marble Arch tube station, took a deep breath and told myself I could do this. I had lots of time.

Oddly, on my journey to the venue, I'd thought how anonymous you are in London. How you could go about your business all day without speaking to another soul. No one smiles. Everyone scurries around under ground or through the packed streets. Eyes are averted everywhere. It's what it is.

I was glad to reach St Pancras International, although you are just as anonymous there too, but at least I felt that if I fell over, there would be some first aid available somewhere nearby. Everywhere was heaving with people all trying to get to their destinations. I managed to get a seat and spent an hour people watching whilst the throbbing continued in my right ankle.

I made it home, dosed up with pain killers and put my jumbo foot up to relieve the pressure.

#RNA Chapter Birmingham - My motto in life, is NEVER, NEVER, GIVE UP! I was up early on Saturday morning, it was the day of the RNA workshop. Should I go? Could I make it? I'd got home from London hadn't I?

Mind over matter. If you think you can, you will, same as if you think you can't you probably can't.
I decided I was going to Birmingham.

Back on the trains, I made it to the second biggest city in England, having spent the previous day in largest, I reckoned if I managed London, I should be able to get to my writing day, and as I'd be sitting down all day, I knew I could rest my foot up for hours before I needed to get back home again.

It helped that the venue, the Radison Blu hotel was just three minutes from the station. It took me ten minutes, but I got there in good time and was made welcome immediately by Marilyn Rodwell who runs the Birmingham chapter.

After tea, pastries and some introductions our day was split into five specific sessions.

The first, a workshop on how to plan your novel, led by Bella Osborne  an expert in project management, showed us how to arrange a plan using post-it notes, and I have to say, I was impressed. Now remember, I'm a complete panster! But, I could see sense in her charts, and methods.

The second workshop led by Indie author Lizzie Lamb  told us about her journey to publishing her first novel, and subsequent ones, and how she markets herself. Her brand, and her books. It was a talk packed with tips and tricks Lizzie has learnt on the journey. It was interesting to listen to what worked and what didn't, and how everything is a gamble.

Lunch was good. There was plenty of time to mingle and chat with other writers. There were people there from three chapters. Birmingham, The Marchers and Leicester. You can read more about the Romantic Novelists Association (RNA)  here.

The afternoon began with Editing Your Novel with Alison May which I'd been looking forward to as I've signed onto one of her novel workshops later in the year - I wasn't disappointed. Alison showed us how she tackles editing, and demonstrated some savvy ideas on how to drag your way out of the treacle when you're stuck fast.

Sally Jenkins followed Alison with an interesting session on Writing for the Weekly News, and discussed writing twist in the tale stories. We were put to work, and had to come up with our own twist in the tale scenario which was quite challenging.
I've known Sally for a while through her blog and on Twitter, so it was great to get to meet her on Saturday.

Our last session was with Helen Barrell who advised us on all the different social media options available to authors, and the differences between them. It was insightful, I never realised we had so many options.

The writers day ended with an opportunity to buy books written by those present. It had been an enjoyable day, and as I hobbled out of the venue and around the corner to the train station, I was glad I'd gone along.

The week ahead... 

Honestly, I'm unsure. I need to take it easy. I'll let you know how it pans out. Have a good productive week.