Monday, 23 May 2016

Me, Asperger's and primary school

Following on from my last post about a workshop on group dynamics, I thought I would write about what the group I was in at primary school was like. I told the interview group in the workshop this, and I think I might include this in a memoir as part of my Asperkids series of books. Here goes:

At primary school I was very quiet. I went round with two other girls, whom I shall called J and K. One was white, the other black. The white girl I felt was the leader of the two. When I was with them, they wanted me to do things with them, their way, and it included some not nice things. Wanting to be friends with them I went along and did them. When I was on my own, I used to either be on my own and do other things such as dance or play recorder, or play with the younger children. Looking back now, I don't think they liked me doing things on my own without them, so they made me stop going do barn dancing, which I liked, and stopped me playing recorder, which again I liked and was good at. (I remember playing the theme tune to Match of the Day).

I only saw the white girl only once or twice after we left primary school as she went to another secondary school as me, but the black girl went to the same secondary school but was in another group.

The above incidences I still remember all these years later, and I will put them in my children's series 'The Rainbow School' as things to happen to the main characters but something good will come out of it for them.

So, there you have one group dynamic I belonged to. Because of my Asperger's, I just tagged along with others, wanting to be friends with them.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Finding your inner child workshop with Melvin Burgess

I can't believe it was 2 weekends ago that I went to the retreat. One of the talks I went to by Melvin Burgess was 'Finding your inner child'. Here is what we did:

We talked about group dynamics and the different types there are. There are the ones with a leader, a star, a sidekick, a topper (who's top at everything), the one with a leader who likes to be in competition, the star who wants to be in all the groups, one that has a third wheel (that was what I was in), dropkick group with no friends by default and go together (another I belonged to).

Then we had to write down about a group you belonged to, write the characters, their appearances and group dynamics. This made me think about a group of girls I went around with at secondary school. There were 3 girls (2 Asian and 1 white) belonging to one tutor group, and a group of 2 (Asian and 1 white) in another group. The latter white girl was slightly on the edge of the group, and there was me - the invisible wheel. We had to write in the pov of the leader and what you thought they had thought about you at the time. Interesting exercise.

We had to write a couple of incidences at school.

The last exercise was a group of 3 exercise. We had to interview each other and get a story about their childhood days. One member of mine talked about moving schools so found it hard to get on until later years, the other talked about coaching younger ones. Both these stories I made a note of for my Rainbow School characters and what they could do in the books. I talked about my primary school days and how I felt about that being shy and quiet with my Asperger's, which I didn't know it was back then.

All in all, I found it a very useful and interesting workshop. So, thank you, Melvin.

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Writing retreat - Writing and thinking



Last weekend just gone I went to a writing retreat in W Sussex. It was the annual SCBWI retreat. I always find it v productive and I did this time, as well as a lot of thinking about what I want to write for children. Over the weekend I wrote the first three chapters of the third in the Rainbow School series, which is Susie's story, and a short story for a competition and the prequel to Susie. I don't know how many words I wrote as I didn't count them, but I reckon it must be at least 3-4000. That was what I wrote. So what thinking did I do? Well, it was all about my fiction for children and the books about children with Asperger's. I mentioned what I was writing to my new friend, Anna (Hi, Anna) who I met at Waterloo station to go to the retreat and she suggested putting all this fiction under a brand. It got me thinking. Then over the weekend, I talked to a few people about what I was currently writing and planning and got loads of encouragement, and someone said that it was a good idea to help children learn about Asperger's and cope with their own diagnosis. This made me realise that what I am doing can be really good, both for children and me. I started thinking about all the other books I have planned, and thought, yes I can make the children autistic by remembering my own childhood and use those memories. As well as buying books about Asperger's for children and families and biographies (have planned to buy Chris Packham's book). So, I have decided that is what I am going to do, starting with the Rainbow School series. I will have one big name called The Asperkids books, which I will put on my website, and under that have the title of each series. I am looking forward to doing this, and maybe do talks about it, too.

The other encouragement I got was from YA author Melvin Burgess. I had a one-to-one with him and he had read the first two chapters of Billy, and he said he really liked Billy, felt for him and enjoyed the story. He gave me a suggestion to put at the end of the story which I will do.

So, watch this space...

Monday, 2 May 2016

Change in my writing goals

If you have been reading my recent FB posts, you will see that my writing goals have changed over the last week. One of my new year goals was to write pocket novels for My Weekly, and I have now decided that this isn't what I really want to do and what I can't really write, after all. Here is why:

Earlier this year I finished the pocket novel I had been writing and had sent a partial of to the RNA's New writing scheme for feedback. I sent it to my editor, who I know is v honest and truthful about my writing. It came back last week via email with lots of comments in the email itself. I've not read the actual edits yet. What the email said was that the ms was too flimsy and not good enough for a pocket novel, which I knew deep down myself. I emailed my editor to ask this of her, and she replied, yes, it's not good enough, but don't waste it. It made me realise that I can't write proper romance, only magical realism with a hint of romance. So, that writing goal has been deleted from my plans. I am going to continue writing the Geraldine's Gems and Singleton stories which are all magical realism with a touch of romance in, as I feel I can write those and I enjoy writing them. Just writing those last few words has also made me realise that I didn't really enjoy writing the romantic part of the pocket novel but I did enjoy writing the mystery bit.

I am continuing writing short stories for womags as I enjoy writing those. My main writing goal now is to be known as an indie children's author, esp about hope and Asperger's.

So, that is the change in my writing goals. The mss I still have upstairs in the cupboards I am keeping and will read them at a later time to see if they can be either made into children's books or serials for womags. So, not wasted.

My motto now is: write what you enjoy doing and what you know you can do.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

My writing goals - an update

So, how are you getting on with your writing goals? I think I am coming along well with mine. Here is my progress so far:

Have almost finished the last mermaid story. Have printed it out and reading it out loud to find any errors. Have found a few already. Once I have done that, I shall email it to my editor.

Have finished the pocket novel and my editor is hopefully editing it for me now. Once I get that back, shall read any comments and suggestions for the first 3 chapters, do those and then email it off with a synopsis to the editor of My Weekly Pocket Novels.

Have begun reading and editing the first two books in the Asperkids series called 'The Rainbow School'. Am sticking with that title because someone suggested it corresponds with the autism spectrum, and a week later I saw a rainbow showing as the spectrum in a magazine. Have edited the first one which is about Billy, and have sent off the first two chapters of it for an author to comment on at the retreat. Started editing the second one about Charlie fainting, today. Have plotted out the third one about Susie and her heart problem, to work on at the retreat. All these books are loosely based on my primary school memories as a child with Asperger's and other health problems.

Still writing short stories for womags. Have two still with Take a Break's Fiction Feast, and one with Woman's Weekly which was rejected by TaBFF. Have been rewriting another for WW, from comments I got on the story blog, which were v helpful and it now reads like a story not a set of thoughts.

My client's picture book is finished and with the illustrator to work on again. Should hopefully be ready to publish for end of May. He is excited and so am I.

So, that is how I am getting on. Am v excited about publishing my Asperkids series as they are close to my heart.

Next post will be about having Asperger's, a way to promote my new series before I have published them.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Me, Asperger's and birthday parties (or not)

I thought I'd start posting about how Asperger's Syndrome has affected me over the years. There are two reasons: 1. There has been a drama series on BBC1 about a family with an autistic boy called The a word and the first episode made me think of a post to blog about, and 2) I have started working on my Asperkids series called The Rainbow School, so these posts can be the start of promoting it.

In the first episode of The a Word, the family have a birthday party for their boy, Joe who is now 5. He hated being the centre of attention and laid on the floor. When I was that age, I didn't have any birthday parties. For two reasons, 1. I was too shy because of my Asperger's, and 2 because of my Asperger's I found it difficult to make friends of my own (one of the social impairments of AS). I also didn't go to any parties myself, again because of the reasons above.

It was only later on in life, when I was an adult and went to work, that I really started celebrating my birthday with others. I did have a party for my 18th, but I didn't mingle with my guests. I made myself in charge of the music in a corner and wanted to stay there the rest of the time.

So, there you have what I was like with birthday parties when I was younger.

If you have ASD, did you have birthday parties? If so, what were you like at them?

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

My Writing Diary - so far

So what have I been writing and how far have I got? Here is my writing news:

I have now emailed the pocket novel to my editor to edit for me. The plan is that when I get it back, if there are changes to make in the first three chapters, I will do those first then email those with the synopsis to the My Weekly Pocket Novel editor. Then I will start on the rest of the ms.

The quirky short story went out to Take a Break's Fiction Feast. Meanwhile, I got a rejection for the story I sent them in December. This has now gone to another magazine.

I have finished the ghost story for the Writing Magazine short story competition. Seems I might have sent it to them for another competition a few years ago, but I am still going to send it and see what happens. It is all printed out, ready to fill in the form and cheque to put with it.

I have finally got round to writing the story I started at the Women's Weekly workshop last month. It is now over 600 words, so getting near to the count of 1000, which is what I want it to be.

I have finished the current draft of the mermaid story and am now highlighting verbs. Lots of smiling going on. Lol. I shall go through those and either change or cut them out. Then I shall highlight all repeated words such as 'and'. Then the final edit will be to read through it.

I have also emailed the first 2 chapters and synopsis to the organiser of the SCBWI retreat, for the one to one with Melvin Burgess. Yes, he of 'Junk' fame. Can't wait for that, as those books are close to my heart.

In my author client world, I met my client yesterday and he has given me a few changes, inc the title of the book to do, which I will work on tomorrow. I shall then post them to him to check, he will do that and post back to me, so I can email them to the illustrator.

So, that is what has been happening in my writing world. I mainly have 2 of my own projects on the go, and my author client's.