Tuesday, 27 March 2012

The sun has worked its magic...

My cherry blossom tree is alive with activity, its positively humming with excitement…over the past few days the sun’s warmth has encouraged blooms to develop from tight buds to big blousy flower heads that have enticed flying insects that drone in their droves. The business of their buzz is displayed with back legs that bulge and hang heavy nectar sacks that weigh them down; they dangle at precarious angles despite being overwhelmed for choice. The sky is radiant blue again, cloudless and the sun beams encourage the blossoms to bloom more gorgeousness than imaginable.

Saturday morning dawning sunny and bright...

A Little more sun and the blooms unwind...

And this morning it looks like this:

Over the coming days, as this wondrous warmer than usual spring weather continues, the petals will loose their pink hue and become tinged with white as the colour fades and then the blossom will fall as confetti a pretty dusting of gorgeousness.

And to think it looked like this back in 2008!

If you click on the images/photo's they should expand to full screen size.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Are we nearly there yet?

Word counts. And why they are important.

Do you find as an author and/or writer that you need at some stages of your writing to feel as if you have moved forward?

I know I do.

I remember sitting on the back seat of my dad’s car, (no seat belts back then, free to cannon and roll around in the back,) shouting are we nearly there yet? It always seemed to take forever to get to the seaside…the woods…the fun park. And bless him my dad would do his level best to equate how much farther had to be travelled by a measure I could evaluate.

So I know what the industry standard is for a first novel, less than 80,000 words may not be up to muster and beyond 120,000 words could be too risky to be a commercial success, so if I pitch in at 100,000 I’m probably in with a chance.

And from my initial concept through to completion how long will that take?

Sadly there is no industry standard for an author’s timeline. Some books take a lifetime to produce and others can be knocked out quite quickly by a disciplined author who has a shrewd idea of what is expected. For the rest of us it’s somewhere in between.

Each author and writer, as an individual will hopefully have established ways that work for them, and for me most of the time I’m just content with the fact that ideas form in my head that I do my very best to capture and commit to paper.

But honestly… no one can tell me how long it will take me to write my novel and vice versa I can’t tell them when I anticipate being finished, either.

The current work started out as a ‘what if scenario,’ that struck me while I washed the dishes! What would I do in a given situation? I had to find out. I threw down the initial concept last summer and then allowed it to stew. I went off and focused on other projects. Kept myself busy, with short stories and an upcoming anthology.

To reach my target discipline has to play a part and back in February I made myself block out one week to focus on the stewed idea and see where it took me. The word count at the end of that specific task was +37K. Not bad I thought.

But then I got distracted. Life has a habit of doing that…

This week I decided I should get back on the writing horse (so to speak) and set myself a word count of 5,000 words this week. I publicly committed to this task on Twitter on Monday morning. And signed off Twitter and ignored it. (Sobs in the corner.)

It’s funny what motivates me. By Tuesday I had smashed through the target! Now I could have stopped but I decided while my luck ran in my favour I would keep going, even though real life gets in the way occasionally.

Once I’m in character I find it easy to evaluate where the plot should go next because this novel is being written without an outline. Yikes! I’m panster-ing it!

Therefore the word count is important to me, it tells me I have moved the plot forward and developed my storyline, significantly. And I’m gaining momentum. The more I write while I’m in character the ideas develop and I can see how the interplay between the characters helps them to evolve.

It fascinates me that I can think I have stopped writing for the day and as I’m driving along, I’ll have a light bulb moment that usually goes along the lines of resolving an issue for one of the situations that I’ve left hanging.

Today I’m feeling confident that this novel has legs and could go the full distance. By the end of the week I’ll let you know my word count. It will help to keep me on track.

What do you do to keep you on track? I’d love to know…

Monday, 12 March 2012

Declaring an unhealthy obsession

I think it may be time to declare this obsession, as I have just carried 45 hard back Recipe books upstairs!

The cookery books had to be moved as part of my spring cleaning effort and having just made six or seven trips upstairs carrying them; I can declare that they are mighty heavy tomes, so I’ve been healthy, weight lifting combined with a natural cardio vascular work out!

I love books!

I love reading recipe books!

I love pawing over the perfect pictures of cakes, and sumptuous meals!

And some the cookery authors write with a mouth watering temptation that casts me under their spell.

What’s even worse is there are more recipe books that I lust after, to own… what is a girl to do?

So maybe I am going to be brave and cull some of them from my collection. Did I really just type those words here?

My hearts skips, runs into an irregular rhythm just at the thought of this shocking idea, as it is none too pleasing a prospect! But I have a plan as I have an e-reader too.

I do not think my e-reader will ever replace my unhealthy obsession with owning books but maybe some of the recipe books that work more like reference books I could check out if there is a kindle version.

Dispose of the hard copy (suddenly I feel faint!) and utilise the space on my iPad as a library for the books I’ve read & loved but no longer need to own a physical copy. (I recover from my fainting fit.)

Do you think this would work? Allow me the benefit of both options: adopting the electronic age whilst hanging on to the old hard back and paper back versions too?

The bookshelf is quite naturally groaning under the weight of these volumes and they have released a significant space on the kitchen work surface… but then I have books in every room of the house except one!

Friday, 9 March 2012

Twitter – why bother?

Just over a year ago I was recommended to join Twitter. I corpsed (with laughter) at the suggestion. You had to be there to understand that this comment tickled me pink because I mean, ‘who would want to follow me?’

Now I’m very glad that I did not make some stupid comment like ‘I’ll eat my hat’ seeing as I have to say that Twitter has been a huge success as far as I’m concerned. I’ve met some very nice like minded people who are usually only to happy to assist with enquiries, queries or generally give moral support, when required.

Why would that be important?

For those of you who like me, write… and have chosen to share your writing with a wider audience, will know that it can a be a lonely experience, filled with niggling doubts about how good or bad your writing is at a given moment of uncertainity.

The encouragement that I receive from people who follow me on Twitter means that I get feedback and for me I intereprt this as a reassurance that I am on the right path, because other people reading my tweets get me and this helps to bolster my self confidence when it and if it flags.

I have always known that I can’t please all the people at the time, which would be an impossible task. However if I can please some of the people some to the time then I think I’m on to a winning formula.

To those of you who have not yet ventured out in to this internet world of Twitter and would like to give it a whirl - I have these recommendations:

1. Decide what you want to achieve before entering the Twitterverse.
2. Be present frequently enough to gain confidence.
3. Talk to like minded folk and make a connection.
4. If you don’t try you won’t know what can be gained from this Internet relationship.
5. Follow people who you find intersting and like.
6. Don’t follow back people you don’t like. (Check out the tone of their tweets.)
7. It’s not about how many followers you gain.
8. It’s about following the people you enjoy, those that offer something you want.
9. If there is something you don’t understand, then ask you will be surprised how many people may stop by and offer assistance.
10. Think pink and fluffy thoughts.
11. Be kind and play nice.
12. Enjoy it! (And if you don’t find it addictive, then this isn’t the social media platform for you.)

There are others platforms you may adapt to better than this fast interactive environment.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Second Campaigner Challenge (of my Fourth Campaign, February 2012)

This my entry for Rachael’s second campaigner challenge: it is tough!

Writing outside my comfort zone here… less than 200 words just

I would love to have it critiqued…

False promises

Illegal immigrants they call us. I dread each day. It’s cold and dank here. But once night falls it feels safer. We sleep side by side under the remains of this concrete bridge. There is no comfort here. Last night I lay amongst the beer cans and unforgiving cold cement tried to remember what is was like to be a boy, chasing a football, playing with water bombs, having fun.

Dawn breaks, mayhem ensues. Another fight. Over who knows what. I didn’t see it start. Avoid contact. Step outside into the rain. Get wet. Water splashes down makes me feel clean, cleaner than where I live. But Anjit is fighting over rubbish.

He came to Britain to get work, to stop being poor. He used to live on a rubbish dump, scavenge a living, looking for useful items. Like me he was tricked, we have worthless false papers. Our dreams turned sour. But he and I are family. Sat together, we rest our backs against rusting metal bridge supports; I shake my head but can’t dry my hair. Anjit checks his leg, the cut is not deep. Later we will wander, is it too late to look for work?