Friday, 31 December 2010

My top recycleables over Christmas

As most of you know I am a keen recyclist, and am giving you my top tips for recycling over the holiday.

1. Stamps - there are various charities/organisation that collect these. I collect them all year round for the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association. Check their website for your nearest fund raising office.
2. Xmas cards - don't just chuck them in your green bin. Stores such as WHSmiths, and Sainsbury's will have recycling boxes for the Woodland Trust for them, so take them along when you do your weekly shopping and drop them off. You will be helping to preserve our trees.
3.Foil - from your turkey and mince pies (make sure they're clean). Most councils collect these from your house.
4. Wrapping paper - make sure it's not the shiny or metallic type and the sellotape is off. Only non shiny paper is accepted for the green bins. I spent a while Boxing Day taking off the sellotape and sorting out the paper for which bins.
5. Crisp packets - I know most of you probably do put these in the bins but there is one organisation that collects these to send overseas for work for poor people. This is the Philippine Community Fund. Check out their website for the address.
6. Plastic and glass bottles - most councils collect these from your kerbside.
7. And same for cans.

They are my top recycleables for the holiday.

Check out my website. Have now put on workshops and puzzles.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Natural v Chemical smells

I have probably said something like this before but I will say it again. As someone who has been using natural toiletries for the last couple of years, whenever I smell something that has chemicals in it always smells so strong to me, almost overpowering. This has been brought home to me again this Christmas with a present from my brother. He bought me a hand cream selection, and feeling that I couldn't well say sorry but I don't use these as they have chemicals in , I said thank you and am reluctantly using them. The first one is rose and honeysuckle and my is the smell strong to me, and to my mum who uses natural products like me. We will say something to my brother next Christmas. I hate using things with chemicals in as I feel it goes against what I have been doing for the last years. Oh well.

Next post will be about my top things to reycle at Christmas (and sometimes all year round).

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

More Allie

Still working hard on Allie. Now that I have got back into it again (I hadn't for a couple of days) I am keen to get on with it. Just typed up additions to another chapter and Allie is now just under 28,000. Allie has a new enemy now who is playing with her mind, and has got partners for her team by the way of teachers. She thinks that magic can help her enemy stop playing with her mind. That will be next chapter to work on tomorrow.

As Allie is all about helping the environment here is some recycling news from home. I have found out that hopefully by the end of next year, we can recycle mixed plastics at home. I have been doing this at a local Sainsbury's and it has a notice to say that this is only a trial to the end of January. I thought this was run by the council so emailed them and they replied it wasn't run by them but the store but they hoped to have mixed plastics recycled by the kerbsides by the end of next year. I really hope so as it will mean more recycleables in our green bin. So watch this space as I will find out next year....

Well, this is all for now. Next blog will be after Xmas so have a great one everyone who reads this.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Dreams and ideas

Have you had ideas for scenes or books in your dreams? I have had many and it was one such that started me on the road to writing years ago. I had one in the early hours of this morning, actually I had two, but one stayed in my mind that I had to write it down. (Point to learn when you're a writer - always have pen and paper to hand). This idea was about a group of men and a group of superwomen who are enemies but fall in love, so adult romantic suspense. I am so keen on this idea that I might start work on it very shortly as I love the idea of it all, esp the superwomen. I loved it so much that there I was at 2am in bed, writing down notes about this idea and more of the series in my notepad with the lamp on. I had to write it down, otherwise I wouldn't have been able to get to sleep with the idea going round my head, or I would have got to sleep, forgotten what I had thought about and in the morning regretted not writing it down.
So watch this space to see what happens about this idea.

Meanwhile am working on Allie and now have teachers and school machines being affected by someone. Am thinking of notching up the magic by getting a teacher and a pupil affected at the same time so Allie has to work harder with her magic. We shall see. Worked on what was Chapter 6 today and turned it into Chapters 8 and 9. Might do the same with the next chapter. I have come to the conclusion that a chapter can be just a few pages long. I have just read The Ring of Earth by Chris Bradford (the latest instalment of his Young Samurai series) and some of his chapters were a few pages long. Could be a good thing as children don't have the mind span of adults so shorter chapters can keep their interest in reading the book going.

More on Allie and magic next time.

Friday, 10 December 2010

Magical stuff

I typed up changes to chapter 5 of Allie earlier. Now have food that decays on its own and fast, as well as rubbish that goes into bins itself, water and electricity that work on its own. Now to put that to use for Allie to work with against the teachers. She also has more helpers in her team against them, so more fighting talk. Next is to work on developing Mr Potter, the art teacher.

I think all this writing about magical happenings is rubbing off on me. This morning I got up early to go to the toilet and I passed my mum's bedroom. Mum said that she had her lamp on dim but when I went passed the room, the light went brighter. Ooer. Magical stuff all round.

Well, more on Allie's world later next time.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Allie and recycling

Well, I am back to working hard on Allie. Have just added a scene from version 2 to version 13, where the art teacher is acting odd and bad. Allie is now wondering what is going on as she doesn't think it is part of the tests the teachers are giving her. So what is going on? It has given me an idea that the teacher can be seen coming out of a classroom just before another teacher acts strangely. I am having fun with this rewrite and will have more making the art teacher act even stranger. Watch this space.

Recycling news (Allie is about helping the environment). We have recently been given a plastic bag to fill up with used batteries and can put them on top of our green bins when full. So we no longer have to take batteries to Sainsbury's or other shops, but recycle them at home. Good news. Now for the council to do this for mixed plastics. Whether this will happen or not I don't with all these cuts happening. We shall have to see.

Well, this is my news for now. More on Allie next time, with teacher antics.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Library Closures

I am one of thousands who is in uproar about closure of our libraries. In my borough, Lewisham, they are planning to close 5 out of the 12 libraries we have, a few of them which are in areas that only have one, and if they close then the residents will have to travel further to get to a library. I have already written a letter to my local paper earlier in the year about this in the form of a children's author. And I have just signed up with Alan Gibbons campaign about it on Facebook and given him permission to put my name on his open letter to the ministers. Everyone, esp children's authors, are blogging about this to keep up our voices against this and the momentum. So here is my piece about it.

I used our local libraries a lot years ago, taking out a few books at a time and loved it, but the last few years I have been buying books and not going to the libraries. Saying this, libaries have been useful to get books on various things for research and for photocopying, both by my mum and me. And when I run out of books to read, then I will go back to taking books from libraries. As a children's author, as Nick Green said in his blog, they are very handy for getting word of mouth out to our relevant audience, the children, and I have found this out this year by getting involved with Chatterbooks groups. I have sold a few of my book there, and hope to do more so in the near future. Whenever I have been to the library to do these talks, I have seen lots of children either taking books out or using the computers and attending activites there. So libaries are useful for various things, and I think they are very important resources for our future generation, esp for families who don't have money to keep buying books or don't have computers. So let's keep up shouting about this and get those ministers to rethink their decisions. I am sure there are other ways to make cuts without closing important buildings that our future generation need.


Wednesday, 1 December 2010

More Allie

I have now added to what was the old chapter one of Allie and with putting more magic in it, inc Allie finding out and working out how to use her magical powers, it is now two chapters. I have a feeling that this will happen to lots of other chapters when I add more magic and more conflict to it, but never mind. At the start of this change, it was just over 24,000 now it's just over 25,500. I don't really want it to reach over 30,000 as that is the ideal word count for 8-12s, what Cornerstones says. We shall have to wait and see. I am having fun adding more fun and magic to Allie's life, and will do the same when I get to revise Georgina. So far I have had disobedient cans, bottles and paper, and need to find magical electricity, water and food. Don't we have fun writing for children!

On another note. I hate this white cold weather. At least, like February, I don't have to go to work in it, but I do have to attend a job seeker training session tomorrow. I am stuck indoors in the warm wrapping up presents and writing cards out. Friday will be the day for putting up the tree and decorations. Hurrah. Will feel more Xmasy then. What I don't want is a white Christmas, esp as my brother and family have said they are coming for dinner that day. Just seen the weather forecast and hopefully snow will be going away from London by the weekend. Good, so I can go to the RNA SE Xmas buffet on Saturday. Let's hope.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Birthday meal

Last night I went to Garfunkel's at the Strand for a birthday meal with family and a friend. I had steak, chips with veg and spicy onion rings (and they were spicy), followed by a delicious blackberry and apple crumble. It tasted like a true blackberry and apple crumble and ones that my mum used to make years ago, esp the blackberries. Nowadays, shop bought blackberries don't taste like the ones you can grow on hedges. I had a really nice time chatting to my friend and ignoring one of my guests, who kept on moaning about the food that the place had. I decided to ignore her rather than create a scene like I did at my mum's meal last year. I had a really nice time and wouldn't mind going there again for food as I enjoyed it and it was reasonably priced.

All celebrations are well and truly over, although I did buy some Free From shortbread biccies this morning. They are dairy free and made from rice flour and very light to eat, and tasty. I did want a special free from choc cake but they didn't have any. Maybe at Xmas.

Well, this is it for today. Will let you know what progress is with Allie later on or keep an eye on FB.

Friday, 26 November 2010

My week so far

This week so far I have done the following:

Been shopping and bought the last of the Xmas presents (the last one being for my mum from my dad) and books.
Finished current draft of Georgina, and jotted more notes on how to improve Allie, which I will start rewriting today.
Oh and yesterday I celebrated my 40th birthday. In the morning I went to the Teapot cafe for herbal tea and carrot cake and met two writer friends, Sue Hyams and Jo Franklin (Hi ladies). We had a good old chat about writing, agents and rewriting. All three of us have rewrites to do on our current wips, and all from comments made by agents. Oh yes, I paid a deposit to go to a writer's retreat in Sussex next May. I can't wait to go there as it will be with the same people I met at the conference a couple of weeks ago. Children's authors and that is the area I'd like to concentrate on the next coming year. In the afternoon I didn't do a lot cos I was tired, so had a nap then went on the internet to read emails and check out Facebook. I do love FB, esp when it comes to your birthday. If you put your whole birth date on it, it will remind others that someone has a birthday and they can put a birthday message on FB for you. Yesterday I had 13 messages in all and I was happy. I had a couple more cakey things in the afternoon, and needless to say have put on more weight today. Back to more exercise next week me thinks.

Well, that's my news. Let's hope that the saying life begins at 40 proves to be right for me as I have things happening that could change my life shortly.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Conference photos

I have just finally transferred my photos I took at the conference to this machine so here are some of them:

This is Wolvesey Castle, which I saw from my b&b window.

Marcus Sedgwick doing his funny and inspiring talk.

Some of Linda Chapman's books, which I went and bought at the book stall.

THE birthday cake. Isn't it gorgeous looking?

Lee Weatherley and Linda Chapman. Two v nice and inspiring authors.

Lynne Chapman, a very funny and clever illustrator giving her funny and inspiring talk about how she got published.

And that was the end of the conference, and can't wait to go next year.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Ideas galore!

I forgot to say last time that the meeting with the agent wasn't all bad. She did say to me that if and when I rewrite Allie with her comments in mind, which I will do, I can email it to her again for feedback and if she's not interested still she could point me in the direction of an agent that might be. So that is what I intend doing.

Ever since I had the meeting on Tuesday, I have had lots of ideas how to improve Allie, esp on scenes showing Allie practicing her magic. I am going to work on that when I finish the current draft of Georgina. I wrote a couple of pages from a note pad when I went to bed last night on scenes showing Allie practicing, and what came to mind was scenes reminiscent of Mickey Mouse in Fantasia. Things don't go right to start off with then after practicing and with help from a techer and parents, they get better, esp when she has to fight the art teacher all through the book along with another girl. I am getting rather excited about this again now and want to finish Georgina, which I am having similar ideas for too. That too will get a change of title.

Meantime, still thinking of ways to promote Rosie. Have decided that from now and up until the end of the year, will work on fun things to put on my website, so I can email people in the new year about them. Have just typed up what I call The Letter Game workshop I do in libraries, and will put a few more workshops on with quizzes and fun facts. Watch this space...

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Meeting with the agent

So Tuesday I found my way to Camden/Mornington Crescent to the office of the agent. I got there early, as I left really early to give myself plenty of time to find it. The agent was really nice and friendly. She gave me lots of comments about Allie and here is what she has suggested and what I have learnt. I should set the scene for the first vision Allie has, and I said that I had suggests for that, which included either a prologue or inserting something that I had put in an earlier draft about Allie overhearing her mum on the phone to the headmistress about testing her. She felt that it needed more magic and more obstacles for it to be fun and entertaining esp for 8-12 year olds, so I should let Allie practice her magic more and recruit more girls to her team to battle against the teachers. I should develop the character of the art teacher more so he is against Allie most of the time, so she has more obstacles and more drama. I need to give Allie more emotional reactions, make her more vulnerable. I need more strands to the story as it is too linear at the moment, more magic and more involvement with the parents and teachers. And a change of title. Allie and the Messy School isn't that appealing to that age. This is something which I have already decided I think I will do. It was near the start of the feedback that the agent asked me what age range it was for and I told her middle grade, and she told me that she was only interested in YA fiction. Oh yes, she also suggested that maybe I could find a child that could read my work to find out what works and doesn't.
Here is what I have thought about doing - a change of title, something on the lines of Allie, Queen of Green. I am going to put more magic in it, and get Allie practicing the magic at school and home, as she becomes aware she needs to hone her powers. I will develop the art teacher and get him to go against Allie, inc inserting a scence that I'd taken out, and make him be manipulated first remotely then by touch by the new girl. I will give Allie more team members, so more magical powers. I am now getting rather excited about going back to working on Allie again, and this time I shall have a critique buddy to help me along the way, and I might try to find a young girl to read my work to see if it works for children or not, once I get revising/rewriting again.

All in all, I came out quite disappointed not having an agent and a bit despondent about writing for children, but now I am excited with full of ideas (which I started writing during the night) about how I can add magic and fun and drama to Allie, with a new title that goes to the current market. So watch this space.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Sunday speaker

I forgot to mention last post that before the farewell speech on Sunday we had a keynote speaker, who was Lynne Chapman, who illustrates picture books. Lynne gave a talk about how she got published over the years, up and until her most recent success. Lynne gave a funny and inspiring talk, and she is funny just like her drawings. I liked her laugh, which was a kind of dirty laugh, because it made me smile. She sounded such a warm and friendly person to know, and I wish I could draw animals like she does. It was a great way to end the conference.

Tomorrow I shall blog about the meeting with the agent yesterday. Gist - still no agent for me.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Conference Sunday

Sunday got off to a good start for me as I sold a book at the b&b. We had just finished breakfast when the host introduced us to 2 new guests. We got chatting about writing and our books, and I told the other guests about my book. They said they were interested and I replied that I had a couple of copies if anyone was interested. A sale ! I signed the book to their daughter. Jon, the author and fellow b&b mate, drove us all to the campus for our first talk. Mine was by Keren David. She talked about how she wrote her first book, which is about a teenage boy who has to go into witness protection. Keren is a journalist and any interesting news catches her eye, and it was one particular one about a family with a boy who were victims of a crime and had to go into witness protection that caught her eye, esp about the boy and how he'd feel about living a lie. We had a break before going onto a second part where we chose a few paper features in a group. My group had two pieces about unemployment (I thought how very appropriate for me) and a young boy who marched on Armistice Day for his great uncle. We came up with lots of ideas, some crazy and mad - those were chosen by Candy Gourlay (hi Candy). It was interesting and gave me an idea for a possible book.
Then it was a talk all about social networking, Candy being one of the talkers. Candy is an experimentalist and has tried nearly all the social media going, then it was Sarah McIntyre who chooses her media carefully. She has a Livejournal blog as well as another blog. Then came Keren David who likes using Twitter and has found she likes social networking, The advice I wrote down was to have words on your blog that people will find you on and is relevant to you.
Then came lunch. After waiting half an hour the day before for my lunch, I made sure I was one of the first. I had new potatoes, a roll with spread, and some salad. Very healthy. I had time then to go and buy some more books, which I did. You can't go to a conference and not buy books is what I say. Most of the ones I bought were written by Linda Chapman, so I can read and see how she puts her magical elements into her stories.
Then it was a workshop about how to make your characters stand out and we did some writing for this. It got me thinking about my characters. What I learnt about characters is that the two most important tools we have for them are dialogue and action, so we can make them do and say things. Because Miriam, who did the workshop, knew we were tired, she ended early and we had time to breathe before the farewell talk.
Then it was home and I left with Sue Hyams and a few others, driven to the station by Bekki Hill (Thanks Bekki). We had to stand most of the way home on the train. By the time I got home I was hungry and tired and did some essential unpacking.

I came home tired but inspired from it and so pleased I went and met lots of others that I only knew my name.

Now to go and pack to meet the agent this afternoon.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Conference - Friday/Saturday

Well, I am back from the conference, where I had a brill but tiring time. I got to Winchester in the pouring rain and was greeted at the b&b by the host with one of his cats. I settled in and got chatting to the host, who was really nice and friendly. I had a double room with its own wash basin, which I really liked because I could wash in my own room with privacy. Unfortunately I found out it was only for that night. Later on I went to the critique night and that was really helpful. The others in the group gave me feedback on Chapter 1 of Georgina, and a lot of it they said I hadn't even thought about, and I will work on during the next draft. After that we all went to the pizza place in the drenching rain, and I did get soaked. I couldn't find my umbrella, it had fallen down in my backpack and right at the bottom, so was dripping wet when I sat down. I had to dry my hair with tissues and a napkin. By the time I left, it had stopped thank goodness, because I walked back to the b&B with one of my fellow b&b mates. I didn't sleep very well that night, I never do in a strange place.

The first talker was Marcus Sedgwick and he was really good and funny. Talking about how he got writer's block because he wasn't happy with what he was writing at the time, so went away to an island, where he got an idea for his next book. He talked about how he wrote that. A very good talker.
The first workshop/talk I chose of the day was 'How to sell your book'. The gist of it was make use of your publicisit, your local community and booksellers and experiment with social media. Make more use of your social networks such as Facebook. Reviewing is a good idea to get yourself known. Follow your interests and make use of those when you are published. Make yourself known to people and try to sell your book wherever you go. (Saying that the author who said that, when it came to a possible buy of his book didn't have a copy to sell! and I did).
Next was the industry panel with various people who deal with books. They told us what they were interested in now, what they thought of the new digital era (census was that picture books are better for the much younger children, and there is a place for the older children readers).
Then it was lunch. I had beef stir fry with rice, which was dry and went cold quickly.
Then I went to a talk by author Linda Chapman (Hi Linda) about writing books with magical elements (my thing completely). This talk was really helpful to me and the one thing that stood out for me after it was that I have to know what happens and why. I think I will end up typing up the notes from this session as it is relevant to what I am writing right now. The reason that advice stands out is that is what the editor said to me about Georgina at the one-to-one meeting I had after the magical talk. It really got me thinking about what I am writing about and what happens in my book, so much so, that I ended up jotting down notes during the night when I woke up at 4am Sunday morning. I will work on Georgina a lot now after these two talks.
Then it was the last talk of the day about the state of the nation. Basically you need to be a good performer to connect to your readers and have good events. Get people to think that your book is good and then you will too.
Then it was a break where I rested at the b&b before going on to the party. I met lots of authors, inc Linda Chapman again, and Lee Weatherley. The food was better this time. It was a buffet and I had spring rolls, chicken on sticks, and a bit of salad. Later I had a piece of the wonderful looking cake, which I will put a photo of on here shortly (need to transfer photos). It was another late night and I went back to the single room this time, where I slept better.

Will write about Sunday tomorrow morning, before I go to see the agent.

Thursday, 11 November 2010


Yesterday I started sniffling and sneezing and thought, oh no I'm getting a cold just want I don't need in time for the conference on Friday. So I started taking zinc lozenges and have been indoors for most of the time and today...I don't feel so bad. I am wondering if it is staying indoors a lot of the time. When I was working I was out in the cold, into the warmth then back out in the cold again, then in the warmth again, which couldn't have done my body much good, so ended up with cold lasting a few days, but now hardly a sniffle. I hope it doesn't decide to come out over the weekend when I am in the conference. I can't wait to go to Winchester, as it's my first time there, both seeing the place and going to the conference. I will be staying in a B&B, something I don't think I've done before, so something different for me to do this year.

Tomorrow night is the critique night and I have managed to crit all four mss that were emailed to me. I am interested to hear what my group think of the first chapter of Georgina, and even more interested to find out what the editor at the one-t0-one on Saturday thinks of it. I shall blog about what I have done and learnt when I come back from the weekend, prob Monday or even Wednesday.

See everyone in the British SCBWI there tomorrow.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Going down

The word count for Georgina that is. I am now up to the 6th day in the book and so far I have managed to cut it down to just over 30,000. I have been cutting out sentences and paragraphs that I now feel don't mean anything to the story, which is coming to a lot already. The next draft will be about my characters and making them believable, by working out why they do what they do.

Only a few days to go now until I go to the British SCBWI conference. I am really looking forward to it. I have my train tickets, the programme etc all ready to go. I am this week critiquing other people's mss for the critique night, something I've not done before and am finding it enjoyable. I am trying to pass on what I have learnt from the Cornerstones report, namely show not tell and not breaking up action with mundane things in the chapter. I am doing one a day then the day before will go through them all again to see if I've missed anything. A bit nervous as to what the others in my group will make of my work, as from what I've read so far, my work is aimed for an older audience than theirs. We shall see. Let you know next week.

Will be on Facebook next.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Counting the words for Georgina

I did some more typing rewrites of Georgina yesterday and it is now down to just over 32,000. Just 7000 to go until I reach 25,000 words, which is what Allie ended up being. I think this is the ideal word count for 8-12 year olds. Will be working on the fourth day of the novel this afternoon, and I think it will have to be split into two chapters as it is now 15 pages long, which is far too long for a chapter. I did that for the last chapter, so shorter chapters and quicker pacing.

Also yesterday I wrote to Woman and Home magazine, but don't know if that will be published or not. Had no luck so far with the magazines I have written to. Will keep looking and trying. Am still working on what quizzes etc to put on my website, definitely revised workshops to what I do in libraries. Instead of asking to take a square from an envelope, I will either give a letter or colour.

Well, this is all for now. Gearing up now to go to the conference on the 12th, and can't wait it being my first one there.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Allie done, now Georgina.

I finished Allie the other day, for now until the agent sees it. I know there are things I still have to change but that will happen then. Meanwhile, I have started rewriting Georgina and already the word count is more than it was when I stopped working on it a couple of months ago. Lots of work to do to make sure the world is believable and the characters are too, and Georgina's motivations to get the school to use natural products are real. So far so good, and that's chapter one.

I have decided to create a magazine for children based on Rosie. It's working title is Rosie's guide to being healthy. It will have facts and fun quizzes in it and I am including the workshops I do at the libraries. When I have finalised everything, I think I will download it to my website, and email libraries and schools letting them know about it, and see what reaction I get. So far one author has said that download is best and parents might like to see it. I think this could be a good idea so readers/children and their parents can see what sort of writing I do and who knows what will come from it. We shall see. Watch this space...

Now to have some fruit and read something about writing.

Monday, 25 October 2010

First 100 words workshop

On Saturday I went to the London RNA chapter meeting, where Julie Cohen (Hi Julie) did a workshop on the first 100 words of our current wip. First she gave us the first 100 words of her recent novel out next week, and asked us what it told us about the character and where we thought the story was going. It brought up a lot of comments, some that surprised Julie. Then Julie read out each of our first 100 words and we gave comments about those. Some of them were really good and you could tell what genre they were and who the character was, and a few of them had telling not showing. Julie's idea to get rid of telling is to circle all the 'to be' words such as was and replace them with emotion eg describe the person feeling scared. Then it came to mine. I gave the first 100 words of Allie and it was good. Everyone seemed to get who the character was, what it was about and where the story was going but it was also said that it needed more action taking out the mundane bit. It starts with Allie having a vision then is interrupted with her mum talking and her walking to school thinking about it. It was suggested that I either have Allie having the vision at the school gates or in a lesson. It put me in a quandary. And after talking to my mum about it, I have decided to leave it as it in until I see the agent next month and then mention it to her and see what she says. I might actually suggest that Allie has the vision in the lesson and is brought out of her thoughts with others laughing at her then she has the vision for real. Watch this space. It was a very useful exercise, and I will bear this comment in mind when I get to work on Georgina again tomorrow.

This afternoon I shall finish Allie, for now.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

I have a date!

Following emailing amended version of several chapters of Allie to the agent, she has now contacted me to say that she has got the book, knows she is meeting me soon and wants to read Allie before that. She has now set the date of our meeting for the afternoon of 16 November, after the conference. I shall now be going to the conference on a high and all a buzz with my news. I am working hard on Allie still. Have just amended one more chapter, have two more to reread/write then I will read aloud, if I can, the chapters I have redone and amend again if necessary and it will be done. I am really happy with what I have done with Allie now, and have learnt so much from the Cornerstones report and doing this rewrite. I now know what I have to do to Georgina, when I hope to get back to doing that, hopefully next week.

Meantime, I have also just emailed off another story to the anthology I sent one to the other week. Am waiting to hear about a couple of stories I have already sent to anthologies with deadline of end of September....

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Gas vs electricity

When it comes to cookers, it has to be gas. We have a small electric cooker, and it takes ages to heat up before it start boiling, whereas with gas it doesn't. We have been using the hotplates for our breakfasts so far and Mum wants to try to use the oven part for our dinner today instead of the microwave. It is all so different at the moment and I can't wait to get back to normal home life again. I described the situation to Mum like being at a conference when you are staying at a different place, finding where all the things are and washing in a different place and room. The bathroom has no heating on now as the radiator is off the wall due to needing to be plasterered then tiled, and we have a new bath. So in the mornings I end up having a wash downstairs in the downstairs toilet/utility room as the heating is on there, then going up to my bedroom to get creamed and dressed. We only have temporary kitchen sink on a wooden frame, which you can't lean heavily on because it rocks, and I am afraid it will collapse soon. Thankfully they are coming on Tuesday to refit the kitchen with new units and hopefully new sinks. Can't wait for it to be completely finished. Roll on a couple of weeks time.

Meantime am getting on with Allie and a short story, which I hope to finalise this coming week and email off to the publisher's anthology.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Writing with noise

I am typing this among noise at home. We have just been taken over by a new landlord and they have started to put a new kitchen, bathroom and toilets in, so much noise. Yesterday was rip out of the kitchen units and tiles, bathroom and toilet tiles, today is the plumber who has already replaced upstairs toilet (now have one with push button flush instead of a hanging flusher and looks so neater), new bath with new mixer flip taps. Now he's doing the downstairs basin and toilet and has to do the kitchen sink by 4pm. Not sure if he will do it, as he's on his own. We shall see.

Meantime, yesterday I met up with my friend Sue Hyams (Hi Sue), and we talked writing and conference, which was great. I love talking writing esp about my own work as I get animated about it. Sue has given me the name of a publisher that I will be matched up with at the conference in November, which will be my third ms Georgina. I shall mention my first and my second. Allie is now 24,700 words long or short now, and I have just amened another chapter cutting a couple of scenes that I didn't think were necessary. Shall type those up tomorrow. This morning I went shopping for my mum and did a bit of Xmas shopping while there. Do some more next week on my own as Mum can't leave the workers on their own here at home.

More at the weekend.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

A possible sale

Yesterday I had another Chatterbooks session. I didn't think I was going to get anyone taking part because the librarians weren't having luck with getting any children to come to me, they were either interested in working on computers or swimming (the library is in the same building as the swimming pools). Then one girl came along and sat with me and I started talking to her. I waited about half an hour before I began then someone else came and joined in (although the girl was only 5 - too young to understand what I was talking about), then I really began. I was just finishing getting the others to use their imaginations and someone else came along with 2 children so I got them working. It was the mother of one of those girls that said she was interested in buying my book but didn't have the money at the time. We have arranged to meet up at the library next Saturday, and hopefully I will sell a book. Yay. I did sign lots of postcards for one of the girls, and the other girl asked me if she could take her signed card to her school and tell her teacher about me. I said very welcome as I was trying to get schools interested in taking me up for talks. Although I am not sure what primary schools are like in Deptford, which is where the library was. We shall see. I did enjoy doing it in the end, esp if they know all about fruit and veg and healthy eating, which most of them did.

Next time here will talk about working on Allie.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

I'm there

Well, I have managed it. With several more cuts and amendments to what it was when I sent it to the agent, Allie is now under 25,000 words. I am so pleased. I am now working on making the world of Allie's school more believable to readers, so that Allie and the girl whom she chooses to help are the only ones who see the visions and her magic. It makes for some more changes but if it makes it more believable all the better.

On another note I found out this week that a story I'd emailed for a competition was only for children so hope to get refunded for that, but have found another competition for children's stories which I will send off next week. Am also working on two more stories, both children's, for a competition and an anthology.

If you aren't on Facebook then it's worth it to, as I found it this week. One of my 'friends' on there is So Organic and I found out on FB that I had won a prize from them. Yay. Should get it in the post sometime this coming week.

Well, this is all for now. Might have some news next week, you never know.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Getting there

I am getting there with my word targent for Allie. I am just about to type up the edits to the last chapter and so far the count is now down to just over 26,000. Only 1000 to go to reach my target, which I put in my query letter to the agent. I will find out tomorrow how many more I might have to cut to reach the full mark, when I've done the typing.

No typing, apart from this, today as it's my mum's birthday and my brother and his partner are coming round later. We have cake, as my mum bought a Me to You cake from Sainsbury's, which looks rather yummy. Well deserved after having done some exercise.

Well, now off to read the Professional Planning Development book to see where I can go next with my writing.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Allie update

I have just typed up Chapter 6 of Allie rewritten and it is now down to 27,626 words. Not bad. Only 2,500 to go to reach my target of 25,000, which is what I put the book as to my letter to the agent. Will be busy rewriting more chapters next week. The partial of Allie went to the agent on Wednesday and I now have a wait to do. I have been told that agents can take ages to reply to you but to email her in a couple of weeks politely asking if she has received it. I will do that. In the meantime I will keep checking my emails anyway.

Been out and about at writing events all week. Monday was my library event, Thursday was the British SCBWI Prof Series talk, where 2 authors answered questions about writing. I stayed behind for a while to chat and network, which I don't normally do. Now that I am home full-time I don't have to rush out so soon after the event, like I did when I was at work. Friday morning I met 2 other authors for tea at a local coffee shop/deli, and I had a pot of mint tea and a fruit bar. Very nice and great to talk about writing privately like that, which you can't do at a talk. Then yesterday I went to the local RNA chapter meeting where we listened to Hilary Johnson talking about uses of criticism. It was very good and she has a lot to say and know what she is talking about because she has been running her advisory service for 25 years. I only wrote down a para of her advice which I will use when I get to rereading my RNA NWS writeup. Next week is still busy but no writing events happening. Well I will be finding a libary I have an event at in October so I know where to go when I go on my own.

Next time will be another update on Allie.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Another event gone

Yesterday I had my book reading and quiz at a library and I think it went very well. I did my reading then gave a quiz based on what I'd read. The children were keen to answer the questions and although they didn't come up with the exact answers I was looking for, I gave them a chance and awarded them a prize. A couple of children swapped their prizes. Then I did a Q&A session. The librarian is going to email me the questions and answers as he wrote them down. They included Am I famous? I wish was my reply. How long did it take to write? What inspired me to write the book? Did I choose to write the book myself? I think I will put them up on my website when I get them. After that, the children went and did their homework not buying any books from me, but my friend Maureen Oakley, who came with her children, did and we had a chat about writing. I also had a chat with the librarian, who was really nice and he said that he'd email the other libraries in the borough and maybe send on some of my bookmarks and postcards to other libraries letting them know what I do etc. He was also going to mention to his boss, whom I organised the session with and had to be elsewhere at the time, that he thought it was a success. I gave him an order form in case any children could want a book later on and to let me know if they did.

Next event is on 9 October at Wavelenghts Library in Deptford.

Next time I will write about Allie and how I'm getting on with rewrites and the agent. Hope to email it all to her tomorrow as will be reading chapters through this afternoon.

Friday, 10 September 2010

V Exciting News

Last night I went to the SCBWI-BI agent's party and met lots of people. First there was the panel of agents who told us about what they do and what they like, then they answered questions from the audience. Then the food came out and I had a plateful of chicken, samosa and potato wedges, which was very nice and filled me up. Then they remembered to do the raffle to see who got a one-on-one meeting with an agent. First there was the agents for the illustrators then came one for the writers. I had put my name in it and didn't think for a minute that anything would come of it but....guess whose name was the first out of the bag? Yep, mine and you should have seen my face. I was totally shocked as I never win anything. Anyway, I went and introduced myself to the agent I liked best, who is from Watson Little, and told her what I do and write and where I was. She said it sounded interesting and she would email me today and I should send her the synopsis and first three chapters. So this afternoon I am getting to work on Chapter 3 and the synopsis of Allie, and over the weekend will get Chapters 1 and 2 up to scratch with more amendments I have in mind. I want to get it to her well in advance of any meeting so she can read it before we meet again. I still can't believe that it happened to me and had a very restless night thinking about it all. So all I can say is, watch this space and I will let you know what the outcome is. Ooer.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010


I have been doing quite a bit of exercise lately. Not only have my mum and I started doing the DVD exercises again but have been doing lots of walking. Yesterday was walking around Lewisham shopping, and today I walked to and from the station twice. First to get the Metro for jobs and secondly to get an Evening Standard, again for jobs. It makes me feel good about myself and exhilerated that I have done it. I esp feel good when I walk to the station in the morning because it builds an appetite and when I get back I can't wait to have breakfast. Walking again tomorrow and Thursday and prob Friday. Saturday will be shopping. We shall see what my weight is tomorrow. It goes up and down all the time. My mum and I have given each other weight targets to reach and I am not sure I can get to mine, we shall see. Watch this space.

Back later this week with how I am going rewriting Allie.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

The writing life

Yesterday I did another Chatterbooks session and it was successful. I did my fruit and veg alphabetical game and the children loved it. They actually drew their ideas on the paper instead of just writing it down and it looked very imaginative. I took home the ideas the librarian had and one of the girls. I didn't sell any books but they were interested in buying it, so may order it from the librarian, who said that if they do then she will phone me so I can go up there with the books and sign them. They also liked my website site name with moonfruit, believing it to be cool. I do so enjoy doing those and want to do more.

I am now back to working on Allie. I read most of the Cornerstones' report before I started, and have made lots of cuts and changes to Chapter One already. I've changed one power of Allies, cut out dead sentences, ones that didn't move the story forward and didn't mean anything, and cut out all references to what happened to Rosie. Most of these were suggestions in the report and I already feel that I've made the story faster and a bit more humorous. Way to go. I might take Allie to the next talk which is about how to revise your work with help of two other children's authors and see what they say about my changes against the report. Watch this space.

Back later on with news on how my exercise is going.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

The end of an era

Yesterday was the end of an era and my mum and I went out for a meal at our local Chinese to either celebrate or commiserate, depends on how you see it. As from yesterday I was no longer an employee of King's College London and now unemployed. Not sure how I feel really about it as in a way I still feel it's like a v long holiday. Will feel more real tomorrow when I go to the job centre to sign on and then even more real when I only get the seeker's allowance into my bank instead of a monthly wage. I am going to tell the job centre that I do want to go to work again but not just yet and shall see what they say to me. I will show them the statement of fitness work that my dr gave me and see what they say about that.

Now that I am not at work I will have to watch my weight. It has gone up and up this week despite doing lots of walking. I walked to the train station this morning to get a Metro and back again. I think I shall have to do 2 lots of exercise a day for the next week and cut down on nibbling foods such as nuts and dates. I will let you know how it goes next week.

This is all for now. Next time will be about writing.

Monday, 30 August 2010

Writing Goals - the action

Now I have the typed up session notes from the NAWE member, I can let you know what the goals and their objectives really are. I already mentioned about being a more well-known children's author, and esp one known for writing themes of today's topics eg health, environment with a magical twist, and the one way I can do that is to try to get more work in libraries and schools and their clubs. One other goal to tie in with that is to try to earn more money from these activities and other writing-related topics eg competitions, anthologies etc. That I am already working on as I've recently sent off one short story for an anthology and am working on another story for a competition and two more for one anthology.

Another goal was to find a part-time job, maybe not just yet. I have to phone up the job centre on Wednesday to get an interview but I will say that I do want to go back to work but not yet. I was given the idea of perhaps working as a secretary in a school. That idea has been growing on me, as a way to get in contact with children and the staff of a school. We shall see. I phoned up another library the other day but they no longer do a Chatterbooks group there, so I am going to start concentrating on another borough soon. Meantime, I have one this Saturday and an event on the 13 Sept.

Be published by a traditional publisher and get an agent. Well these I will work on once I have finished Allie again and have work to offer. I will approach both at the same time, and the agents esp at the party in a couple of weeks and at the conference in November.

Have to develop a clearer sense of focus and priorities around my writing. Well. This is more or less how to plan my writing time. I think I will go with what was said in the current issue of Writer's Forum. See if I can work out a timetable of 2-hourly slots per day over a week and stick to it. Be it one hour in the morning and one hour in the afternoon, esp if I feel tired and want to nap.

The last one is to get an adult novel published. As said before that I will work on once I have completed this trilogy of mine, and then will work on future ones when I feel like it, in between children's writing. I would like to make my career mainly based on writing for children.

And there you have it. My goals and their objectives to do over the next three years. Will update you all when I get them done. One by one.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Allie's report

So yes, I have now got the Cornerstones report on Allie and there was a lot of it. There's a lot I need to do to make it a publishable standard inc the setting, show not tell (I'd been told that already by a publisher and had that in mind when I got back to it), world building, why Allie wants the school to help the environment. Have been given an idea which I will go with. There are a lot of dead sentences - sentences that don't move the story forward and I will go through all of those and cut if needed. It was suggested that I change it to third person but I am not going to do that. I tried it last month with a short story and it didn't read right to me but when I changed the story to first pov it sounded right and a lot better, so I'm sticking to first pov. I can't remember the rest of the report, I think they were the main points to change and I will do those when I get back to Allie. I have decided that I will do that when I have finished this current draft of Georgina, as I am itching to get back to working on Allie now, esp as there is an agent's party coming up in a few weeks. You never know I might be brave enough to approach one with a query about Allie, or I might get lucky and win the one-to-one raffle.

Will be working on Georgina this afternoon as well as a children's short story for a competition. The winners get prize money as well as being included in an anthology.

This is my news for now. Next post will be about the Planning Session again as I've got my notes emailed to me by NAWE now and will be going through them to work out what I can do. See you then.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Professional Planning

I had my professional planning session on Wednesday and it was very interesting and useful to do, well worth the money that I am going to pay for it. We went through where I am now, what I've done, what I'd like to do and where I see myself in three years. My answer was to be a more known children's writer, writing adult romance as a side line. Those were two of my three year goals. I was given a lot of reading material and resources to look at, some of which I've got and some I will look into. It really made me think where I want to go with my writing esp writing for children and possibly make some sort of career out of it. My goals for the next three years are:

1. Get a higher profile as a children's writer. Action-get myself out there personally and online. It could also entail another goal I mentioned about working more with children and doing workshops. Also, finding more markets to write for. Eg letters, stories etc.

2. Get a part-time job. Either in office or with children. That I will start in 2 weeks time by signing on at the local job centre and looking at job websites.

3. Get traditionally published. Action - research publishers who would like my work.
4. Get a literary agent. Action the same as for publishers.

5. Get an adult romance published. This I said I'd do when I've finished my three children's books, which should be about three years time.

I think that was all. I will get the full report in a couple of weeks time and will go through it again then. In November I will be contacted to see how my goals are going.

Next post will be about Allie and Georgina - I have got the Cornerstones report back!

Tuesday, 17 August 2010


Now on the what I hope to be penultimate draft of Georgina. I am on the what I call moving scenes forward draft. Yesterday I moved the ending of Chapter 3 to the end of Chapter 2 and changed the name of the second girl with allergic reactions, from another chapter. Now that I've done that it is down to over 36,000 words. Still 6000 to go to reach my target length. Have a lot of working and thinking to do. Won't be doing any tomorrow because it's my planning day tomorrow which I can't wait to work on with someone professional.

I am excited. For the first time this year I will be going to the SCBWI BI conference in Winchester, in November. I booked my accommodation yesterday and today I completed the booking form, which I am sending with part of Georgina for an ms review at the conference. This is with a professional/publisher so hope to get some good feedback on it. I am also taking it too the critique on the first night there to get feedback from other writers. All is good for it.

That is my news. Will be back later to let you know how the planning session went and some news about jobs.

Saturday, 14 August 2010


Thursday was my research day this week. My mum and I went to Horniman's Museum to see the Myths and Monsters exhibition. It had various life-like moving models of mythical creatures such as a dragon, a chimera (a lion with a lion's head, serpent and goat head) and Cyclops. The last one was rather gruesome looking. It had mentions of lots more mythical creatures like kraken, harpies and Nessie. It was quite interesting research for future children's novels. I bought a book that had all these creatures in which I can use later for children's books. I have yet to read it properly but I will. Some of the creatures my Mum hadn't heard of but I had after reading Julia Golding's Companion Quartet books, which have these and more in, so it was interesting to hear about them there.

The day also made me exercise. We got a bus there but walked back home, and I tell you my shins are still hurting now because the way back is all downhill, and it does pull on your shinbones. They will get better.

Well, this is my news for now. Later will be more about writing and Georgina.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

2nd August writing update

Still working hard on Georgina. Now down to just over 38,000 words. Have come up with an idea to change something I've put in it so will do that next draft. Should finish this draft coming week. Also working hard on the story for the anthology. It's a twisted fairy tale anthology and I am twisting the tale of Little Red Riding Hood. I still have nearly 700 words to add to it so a lot of thinking how I can do that. From what I've read of the book, there's a lot of tell and now show, so might have to change that side of things to add to it. After I have done that and am happy, have another competition in mind to work for. Another children's one which I have a good idea what to write about for. Deadline for that is the same as the fairy tales, end of October. So get my writing hat on me thinks and get to work.

Also will be researching ideas for puzzles for children's magazines. Need to find a book on animals in different countries for my next proposal. Also need to start looking at magazine websites in the US for ideas to send to them. A lot I have in mind, just need to make a proper plan, which I will do at the planning session in a couple of weeks time. Can't wait.

Well, this is all for now.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

August writing

So I am still working hard on Georgina. I have now got it down to just over 38,500 words so still quite a way to go. This isn't the last draft as I have more ideas how to improve chapters I've already revised, then there will be the read aloud draft, which is usually the last one. Meantime, am waiting now to get the critique on Allie so I can work on that again. Am working on a short story for an anthology with a deadline of end of October. I have sent a query about a proposal to do a puzzle page to a magazine and have another magazine in mind to send another query to with a different proposal. I got my last competition entry returned today so that was a no no. Not giving up though. Oh yes, have sent a children's story to another anthology, to be published next year. Won't hear until September about that one.

I have now got booked a professional planning development session in 2 weeks time, and it's taking place in a cafe at the Royal Festival Hall. I am so pleased it's somewhere I know how to get to and easy to get to. I am really looking forward to it as I feel as though I am just drifting along with my writing at the moment, not having a proper plan for the future.

Well this is all my writing news for now. Back at the weekend with more news.

Friday, 30 July 2010

London Walking Tour

As mentioned last Saturday I went on a walking tour of London with four other romance writers. We met up in Jermyn Street and from there went up Piccadilly, to St James' Park. I am not quite sure where we went from there but I know we saw I think Marlborough House. We went to Pall Mall, Mayfair, Berkely Square and Marylebone. On the way I took lots of photos of places and houses I never knew existed. The architecture of some of the houses was amazing and certainly not like you see today. I saw Spencer House and other houses that belonged to past aristocrats. We stopped off at a pub for lunch where I had a nice chicken and bacon sandwich made with flat bread and some peanuts. Then on for more walks. I saw lots of houses with windows bricked up, which meant that they were built before the window tax. Some years ago houses were taxed for the number of windows, so people who lived then if they couldn't afford all the taxes bricked their windows up. Something I learnt that day. We walked and walked. Saw Locks the Milliner's who made hats for the rich and famous, a pub which was either the oldest and second oldest pub in the West End. Saw the Saudi Arabian Embassy and other embassies. Saw Connaught Hotel, after we stopped off in a near gardens where I was chased by a wasp. Pesky things. We ended up in Marylebone, in a cafe where we all had cold drinks, which we were gasping for by that time. All in all I had a great time. As I said to Mum I am not normally interested in history but enjoyed the day as I found out and saw things I had no idea of knowing before. I can tell you that by the time I got home my feet were tingling after walking for miles. My legs started hurting the next day. I might do it again if one is arranged.

Walking is something I have to do more of. As I am not at work now I am not doing the walking and have no real reason to walk to the station now. So from this morning I decided that I shall walk to the station each morning to get a Metro, unless I am going shopping that morning and walking then. Watch this space to see how I go. I need the excercise as I have already put on a few pounds since being at home.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Another writing update

So where am I with my writing now? Well, I am still working hard, as I can, on Georgina's story and will be revising Chapter 5 later today. I have just sent Allie off for a critique so now wait to find out what a consultant editor thinks of it. I have already had ideas on how to change things, so will merge those with whatever they come up with. I have possibly sold a mini article via an agency to an online content provider, and have sent another one off to the editor so wait to hear about that one. I have also emailed a story for an anthology, with a deadline of end of September so a while to wait for that one. I have another story in mind for another competition but don't know if I will get it there in time as the deadline is 12th August, which isn't that far away now. Will start writing that this afternoon. And that is where my writing is at now. Oh yes, I have decided to see if I can develop plans for my writing while I can and have booked in for a professional development planning service session and wait for a date for that, as I have said I'm free all of August, except one day.

I think that's it. Next time I will talk about the walking tour of London I did at the weekend.

Monday, 19 July 2010

Conference - Day Three

Well back I went to Greenwich on the Sunday, the third and final day, in the hot sun.

The first talk I went to was by US author Rosemary Laurey who talked about what paranormal is and how to write it, then she answered questions which were mainly about her own books. Then came Adele Geras talking about young love, and what it is and involves. She also answered questions, one of which was what age range reads what. She said that 8-12s like to read teen books and teens YA books. Now I was pleased to hear that because a local library has recently told me that they believe Rosie is too old for 8-12s. It wasn't the first time that I'd heard that children like to read about characters that are older than themselves.
Then came lunch which was Lancashire hotpot, which was very nice.
I then went to the extra talks. I listened to Jane Wenham-Jones talk about getting yourself known and out there and her advice is when you are first starting out to say yes to most talks offered and to smile. It was interesting as she is a good speaker. I then went home after that and relaxed after the exhausting but inspiring weekend. Can't wait for next year.

Well, that was my conference weekend. Next time here will be about where I am at with my writing.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Conference - Day Two

Off I went back to Greenwich last Saturday for the second day. The first talk I went to was by Dee Williams. She talked about her 20 years of being published and the changes she's seen during that time. A full report will be on the RNA website soon. Next was Kate Harrison who talked about managing your writing career. She read fictional letters from fairy tale characters about writing and being published and got us to write answers about our own writing and what we want from it. Made me think about what I really want out of mine. Then was the ladies from Mira about their new teen paranormal range. I was v interested as it might be something I could do and gave me ideas. Then was lunch.

Then I listened to Janet Gover talking about researching areas you don't know or live in. I learnt a lot from that. Then was Samhain and I am definitely going to target my romantic suspense novels, when I write them, to them as they are friendly and accept new authors. A definite must for me. Then came all about social media. I am still unsure about going on Twitter and might stay with Facebook for now.

Then came the BBQ and I preferred that to the Friday dinner, and it was on time. A nice time I had and I left early so I could get home at a reasonable time to get up early the next morning.

Day three will be here over the weekend.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

RNA Conference - Day One

I think I have now got over the tiredness from the conference last week, esp the travelling to and from Greenwich each day. So now I am reporting what I heard and learnt starting on the Friday, Day one. As a day visitor I was there all day the first day. The first talk was by publisher Random House. The gist of their talk I got was that Radio 4 was good for short stories, you should know your market and write for your market, which makes it easier for them to sell the books to supermarkets. Eg Katie Fforde knows who she is writing for so they do too, so they know whom to sell her books to. For promotion, work hard on your website and social network sites such as Facebook and Twitter. When you are writing your book, you should make it catch their eye by making it easy to sell with a great hook/concept. Also, when you query one way to find out which other authors are like your books is to look on Amazon where they have the words If you like this, you will like this book too. I might do that with Rosie and see if anyone else is there.

The next talk was by David Shelley of Little Brown. I didn't take many notes from his talk but he was one of the first speakers to say that digital is going to be great for authors in the future, as he said that by 2012 ebooks could be up to 10% of sales in the UK. He also mentioned he likes Romantic Suspense but he said they can be called psychological suspense because the woman can be in jeopardy.

The third talk was by Tom Holland of the Society of Authors and he also said that digital could be good for authors in the future. He said that they are currently pushing the press to up the royalty rates for digital for authors as they don't think it's fair at the moment. He advised that authors look on their website for the recommendate rate. He also said that authors could use snippets from Amazon reviews for promotion.

Then it was lunch and then it was the start of the main conference, where Katie Fforde and Jan Jones congratulated everyone with news of sales for books and writing works. I wish I had emailed her about all my letters this year. Never mind. Maybe next year.

After that I went to a talk about writing for the US market, with a panel of authors who do and an agent. The Americans it was said are far less secular and have a funny attitude to sex. They do a lot of promo and the agent said that sometimes if publishers/agents have a choice of seeing an ms from an unpublished author and one has more online presence than the other then they might go for the author with more promo. US readers like a mixture of character nationalities, and write from the heart. The settings doesn't have be in the US. Us readers also like justice to be done and the villains published. YA is huge at the moment as well as fantasy and steampunk. Hot at the moment is paranormal, ghosts, werewolves, straight romance, RS. Readers also like futuristic by the publishers aren't buying. It didn't put me off wanting to write for the US.

Then it was romance through the ages with four novelists published in each decade answering questions. Then it was to the bar and the meal. The food was OK but it took too long to be served up and I left early and I believe so did a lot of others who were frustrated at the time it took.

Tomorrow I will write about Day Two.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Rubbish Diet

As mentioned last time I am going to talk about the rubbish diet, which now that I am not working has gone downhill. I had been taking mixed plastics to work to recycle but now I'm home full-time I can't and have had to throw away a few already, which annoys me. So I have tried to make up for it by recycling as much foil as I can and keeping shiny wrappers to send off as much as I can. It's hard going and all I can do is wait for my council to come up with a plan for plastics. Someone else wrote up to the local paper the other day about it, so hopefully they will get the idea that it's more than one person who wants it.

Well, my Oxfam book event yesterday was a flop. We didn't know until the last minute that the day clashed with schools' sports days, and so no one turned up. The manager bought a copy from me though, which was good, so at least I had one sale in the end. She came up with the idea that next year if children's authors are to be involved then perhaps it should start a week before so that it doesn't clash with school events. So maybe next year it will be better.

Next time I will talk about the conference and what went on there. Nothing naughty when it is me, I can assure you. But others...

Friday, 2 July 2010

A new writing regime

Now that I am home full-time, I have made up a new writing regime. During the week I work on my current novel and short stories, Saturdays are my research days, where I research magazines and publishers for potential things to write to them about/for. This idea I got from a reference book I've previously mentioned here by Nancy I Sanders. She gave me the idea that I could do more than stories and have decided to try my hand at puzzles. I have found a couple of children's magazines to aim for and will probably write to one of them next week, as I have ideas for puzzles in mind already. That is one thing I am now doing. I bought an expanding file this morning for the magazines and ideas I have now, also mentioned in the reference book.

Work on Georgina is taking pace now and it's now at just under 44,000. A lot to go to reach 30,000 but I now have the time to take my time doing this. I also have two stories on the go and hope to finalise these for sending out next week, along with a piece about recycling at work.

Meantime, next Monday I have the book event at my local Oxfam in Bromley. Am looking forward to that, and have been practicing reading an extract for the quiz. The manager is friendly to me and has said that they will reimburse me the money I've spent for the prizes if I take the receipt with me. Which I will do and won't forget. Then at the end of that week I have the RNA conference which I can't wait to go to and chat with my fellow romance authors.

This is my news for now and the next post will be about rubbish diet.

Friday, 25 June 2010

A very sad day

Wednesday was a very sad day for me. As those of you know who follow this blog, I have been made redundant. I was finding it hard to carry on working knowing I had to leave there so it was agreed that I could leave early and Wednesday was my last day working in a job I've been doing for just over 20 years. I had a leaving do on Tuesday, because of the football on Wednesday. My line manager gave a speech which was well researched in that she mentioned all about my writing letters, getting prizes for them and my novels, and also mentioned how many students I'd seen over the years. Too many to count I think. We had nibbles and drinks and I enjoyed it. Also, my dear colleague and friend Michelle, gave a talk too, describing our working relationship like an ideal marriage, with my loyalty and letting her do the work her way. I will miss you Michelle. Wednesday I handed over to the temp, did a major declutter of desk and drawers and cleared out lots of paper, which went for recycling. I was taken out to lunch by two colleagues to the London Hilton and had a very nice time and a very full stomach at the end of it. In the afternoon I got another presentation, with music, where I was given 2 gift cards (for WHS and House of Fraser), a bouquet of flowers and a big card. Here is the card:

I read the messages that night and I have to say I did have tears in my eyes at all the well wishes for me and my writing, and esp Michelle's. I gave some of the others hugs near the end of the day to say farewell.
At the moment it feels like I am on holiday and will be going back in a couple of weeks time. Then it will probably hit me that I am not going back to work. I have promised to keep in touch with some of them at work and that I will do starting today.
My next post will be about writing and my new writing regime now that I am a lady of leisure.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Books I loved as a child

I've been tagged by Nell Dixon (thanks Nell) to name the book I loved most as a child. So here we go.

I can't remember one particular book but I did love reading Enid Blyton's Famous Five books and the school books such as Malory Towers. I loved the mystery and adventure side of Famous Five and think maybe that's why I like reading adult romance suspense and write children's books with a bit of magic and mystery to them. I loved the midnight feasts in the school books and wanted to do that myself. Again maybe liking that sort of book is why I've written my current children's books in a school, and plan to write more in either a school or college.

I now tag Janet Gover and Julie Cohen.

Talking of children's books, I have got a rejection for Allie from the publisher. She said that I did a good job paring it down but it read too fast and needed to keep the lessons to a minimum, there were too many references to Rosie for people who've not read it before and too much telling rather than showing. I think I might send it off to be critiqued to give it a good go again, whilst I continue with Georgina's story.

Back to work.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Loving writing

Whilst I was writing a story for a competition last week it came to me that I really love writing. It is something that I really enjoy doing, and something I want to continue doing and hopefully make a career of. I also love talking about writing to other writers, something I found out last week when I went to a social get together of children's writers. We got talking about our writing and what we were doing currently, and whilst listening to another author, I came up with ideas to help her (which I think she'd done anyway) but I enjoyed the chit chat. I had great fun and can't wait to meet up with more authors again.

Today I am going to revise Chapter 4 of Georgina, and try to cut at least three pages from it. The first page and a half I have in mind to cut anyway as I have decided that each chapter will either start as her journey to school or be at school, to make the action start immediately, as that is where the things happen to her. I typed up revisions to chapter 2 at the weekend and it's now down to just under 51,500 words. A lot to go. Tomorrow I will revise Chapter 4.

Back to work now.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Latest rubbish diet challenge

I have decided to do a gradual no zero waste week by starting with one room and gradually reducing waste in all other rooms at my house. This week I am doing no waste in my bedroom and so far so good. All I have put in there is a bit of fluff, no tissues or wipes which usually go in there during the week. If I reduce waste in one room then there will be less in the bag at the end of the week that goes in the bin. Next week I plan to try to reduce the waste in the bathroom, and I have ideas how to go about doing that.

Well, must get on with work now. Be back later this week about writing.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Revising Georgina

I am now hard at work revising/cutting Georgina's story. The first draft typed up came to 54,242 words and now after cutting both chapters 1 and 2, it is down to 52, 445 words. Still a lot to do. Chapter 3 is I've counted currently 20 pages long, and ideally I want it that halved, so lots of work to do. I have decided to do it in two stages. Stage 1 is cutting the number of pages in each chapter down to hopefully 10; then stage 2 is moving scenes about, probably forward, like I had to do in Allie. Hopefully by the end of stage 1 I will know how many more words I will need to cut to get it down to either 30,000 or maybe even less at 25,000. I have calculated that if each page is 250 words (standard length), and I have 10 pages in 10 chapters, then it might work out about 25,000 in the end. 10x250 = 2500 x 10 = 25000. I shall put down each stage of revisions and word counts here when I have done revisions as I either do each chapter or two chapters in a week. We shall see how it goes.

I think later on in the week I shall put here my latest rubbish diet challenge.

Saturday, 5 June 2010


I had my third Chatterbooks session this morning and believe it went well. I gave my talk about how Rosie got published, from first idea to being published, which included showing drafts, proofs, contracts and cover agreement. Then I answered questions on being a writer, and lastly I did my colour foods workshop, which I hadn't done before. It's pretty similar to my letter one I did at Manor House last month, in that instead of letters I had colours that everyone had to write foods that colour. I then asked them to write down if they had magical powers, how they'd get the foods to get people better. The two boys (brothers) both were fixated about germs and killing them. All in all I really enjoyed it and managed to sell one book, to the library.

My next talk/session will be at Bromley Oxfam for the Oxfam Bookfest in July, where I'll be doing a book reading, quiz with prizes for the children who have signed up for it, answering questions and a book signing.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

It's gone.

Allie is now complete and on her way to a publisher. I managed to finish printing it all off with the query letter at the weekend (it helped having the Bank Holiday off). While I wait to hear about that book, I am working hard on Georgina. And I do have a lot of work to do on that. Whilst typing up the chapters last week, I found scenes that aren't relevant to the story, so I need to change or cut those out. I had mixed up one lesson with another so have to rewrite that. And then when printing out chapters over the weekend, found that they were at least 20 pages long, which is twice the length they should be, esp when I heard Sophie McKenzie say that her chapters are no longer than 6 pages. A lot of cutting and moving around text to do to come for me, me thinks. I don't mind, it's half the fun the revisions.

Must get on with some work now.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010


I have just started reading 'A Curious Incident...' by Mark Haddon, and yes, I know it's years after everyone else has probably read it but there is a reason why I am reading it now. The reason is that the character in the book has Asperger's (a type of autism) and I wasn't originally going to broadcast this but thought it might help people I am in contact with understand me better - it is that I believe I have Asperger's too. It all came about following the failed interview I had a few weeks ago and the feedback I got as to why I failed it. It was down to communication, lack of understanding questions, quickness to get information and these all relate to Asperger's. I read a few articles that my mum had taken out of magazines before the interview, and those were mentioned plus difficulty to make eye contact, social interaction, tone of voice (saying something that other people think is rude but it's not meant to). Well, following this, I saw my gp, who wasn't that helpful at the time, then I saw here at work a disability officer, whom after talking to her said that I definitely had signs of Asperger's and I had to get my gp to give me a referral for an assessment. So back I went to the gp, and saw a different one this time, who was more helpful asking me various questions. Having had these chats, it has made me realise that there was definitely something different about me during my childhoold. I definitely had difficulty fitting in with other children, I still do with adults, which again is related to Asperger's. I have mentioned this to work, esp HR, who will pass the message on to people who might offer me jobs in the near future (I am being made redundant from the job I've been doing for 20 years). So if you meet me and I appear shy and wont' talk then you can understand me and who I am.

Friday, 21 May 2010

Writing Update May

I went to a talk last night organised by British SCBWI and it was great. I always love to hear how other authors write and hear what advice they can give to us other authors. Last night's talk was by Sophie McKenzie who writes teen thrillers. She has had published Girl, Missing, whcih is all about a girl who discovers that she might have been abducted as a child and goes to find the truth, putting herself in danger. I got this book for Xmas and it was good. She has just started a series called the Medusa Project about 4 teenagers with psychic abilities. This really interested me because of the powers I am giving my characters. So I bought the first book in the series, signed. Sophie gave us tips on how to write for teens, and I can't recall all she said except it spelt out as DISCIPLINE, which she said was the word Malorie Blackman gave her as the difference between her last book that was rejected and the first that was taken on.

Other news. I hope to type up the rest of the amendments for Allie this weekend and start printing it out to send to the publisher. Meantime, I have already started revising Georgina and continuing typing up the first draft.

I had a school turn me down for a visit the other day as they said they had one author already give a talk, for free. Disappointed I was but then the next day I got an email from another school who are interested in me visiting them. They did want me to visit next month but I said I can't due to ongoing things happening with me but could do from Sept onwards, even though I don't know if I'll be working or not then, and were they still interested. They said yes and will get back to me in a few weeks time. I might suggest the first full week in October as that is National Book Week so would be a good thing for both of us. Watch this space...

Back to work now..

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Rubbish Diet Week 7

Well, this week is an on-going week for me at the moment. Week 7 is all about decluttering and clearing things out and I have been doing that on and off since the new year. Over the last couple of weeks I have started to sort out one cupboard of all my things, which has most of my writerly things in such as folders with research in from mags and papers. I have so far sorted out 3 drawers and have chucked out lots of papers I didn't know I had but now don't want, so they went for recycling. Have also found 2 big scrap books (one half used and one new), and tore out the used pages and put those for recycling. The books are now upstairs in another cupboard where I keep my spare writers pads and pens. I also found a pen that I didn't know I had so will use that very soon. I have one more drawer and the cupboard space to sort out, then I want to do the other cupboard and my little cabinet by my computer desk.

So you see what I mean about it being on-going.

Week 8 won't be for a while yet because it is no waste week and that is impossible at the moment due to a health problem I'm experiencing and the hay fever season (I think my mum might have it too).

Back to work now.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Rubbish Diet Week 6

Well, Mum and I learnt some things we can compost from week 5 - Mum uses latex gloves in the garden but then throws them away after using both sides, but now she can compost them. I now compost hair from when I've washed mine. Week 6 was all about what you use in the bathroom. I now and then flush wipes down the toilet but it says not to so I won't. Also I have decided to now use bars of soap instead of soap pumps in bathroom, esp soaps in boxes and not in plastic. That way I won't be putting things in the landfill, whereas I can only recycle the bottle part and not the pumps. Mum has written down the amount and cost of the pumps compared to the soaps and written down when we started using one, to see how long it lasts, then will probably do the same with the soap to see which lasts longer. Cost wise though, soaps are cheaper than the pumps, and that is something we need to look at now considering that I am facing redundancy.

Well, this is my rubbish news for this week. I shall write it in more depth for the rubbish diet blog later on when I've finished the challenge.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Another writing update

Well, I had my second Chatterbooks session on Thursday and it was more successful than the first one. We all sat round tables, and I gave my talk, answered questions, then did my new workshop. I call it my alphabetical name game, where I get the children to pick out a bit of paper from an envelope with a letter on it, and they have to name as many fruit and veg they can think of within 5 minutes. Then I ask them to think of magical powers of that fruit and veg to help sick people. The answers I got from that one were very interesting and imaginative. The librarian and parents all either made it into a food that helped cure things such as stomach ulcers, and the children used their imagination to make weird magic powers. We really enjoyed ourselves and I ended up selling three books. One of the parents, whose children were too young for Rosie, said she'd buy it when her children were old enough. A great time was had by all. The librarian said she would talk to the other librarians about the session, so maybe I'd get something more from it. I will definitely do more of these sessions in future and am thinking of contacting other boroughs to see if they are interested in me doing their sessions.

On Friday, after a very bad day at work (another story), I came home to a bit of a surprise. I had received a cheque for £25 from Chat magazines for a letter I had published a couple of weeks ago, and I didn't know. So now I have to phone them up to ask if I can have a copy of that issue.

Allie is well on her way to her target word count. I have it now down to 30,024 words, so not that far to go now. I need to cut more than 24 words because I want to include a letter to readers at the end of the book. I hope to get it done by end of next week as I only have 2 more chapters to reread and amend.

Well, this is all for now. Now to eat some fresh strawberries and jelly.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Writing Part 2

I have been reading a reference book called, Yes! You can learn to write for children, be published and build a successful career (or something like that) by Nancy I Sanders. If you really want to make a career out of your writing then this is the book you need to read. I particularly like her Triple Crown of Success which is the following: Write for Personal Fulfillment, Write to be published and write earn an income. This really got me thinking about how I write. The first one I realise is writing my reader's letter, my blog and writing for other people's blogs, the second is writing for the small press magazines as it's all about writing for no pay/low pay magazines, and the getting that contract. I write 3 days my novel which is the third one, the fourth day I usually either write for publication or personal fulfillment, but mostly the second one. I have just read a chapter on writing for periodicals and it has given me the idea to try to write for magazines (children's) on quizzes. It is worth a go, as my workshops are all about questions. So watch this space.

Allie - I have now got the book down to 30,390 words. Only 390 to go, although I want to add a page at the end of the book to readers about the book, so make that 490. I feel that I can do it now and won't be long before I can reprint it all and send it off to the publisher in mind. Again, watch this space.

Now to have a look at a children's magazine website to see if I can find their guidelines.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Writing - Part 1

Yesterday I had my first Chatterbooks talk and even though I didn't sell any books, I think it went very well and I enjoyed it. I got to the library early and watched the librarians set it up for me with a flip chart. After a few minutes a little boy came up to me and asked for my autograph. I said 'I'm famous' and duly wrote a message to him on a bit of paper. At 4pm I began with a talk about how I wrote Rosie and got it published, also giving them a copy of my winning story 'Red Shoes'. I then got the children to ask me questions, one of which was how long did it take me to get published. Then I did the workshop, where I wrote on the flip chart the first question and got the children and their mums to come up with ideas, which I then wrote down. Then I asked them another question and got them thinking about what magic they'd use. It didn't last as long as I'd planned due to the workshop not turning out like I had planned it. Then I gave out pens and bookmarks to the children and their mums, which the librarian gave out. Whilst she did that, I wrote down the answers to the questions in a notepad of mine for future use. And while I was doing that, some of the children came up to me and asked me to sign their bookmarks, which I did. I then got up and went to find the librarians, whom I gave a card to. One of them asked me if I'd mind giving it to her sister who is also a librarian but in Pett's Wood saying that they always want ideas for things to happen there, and I said fine with me. She is giving my details to her sister so maybe I will get a booking there now. All in all a very enjoyable time I had and look forward to the next one next Thursday.

Part 2 will come tomorrow about a reference book I am reading about writing and how to make a career from it.

Monday, 26 April 2010

My Rubbish Diet Challenge

The weekend was good for my rubbish diet, esp yesterday. I decided to sort out one of my cupboard drawers downstairs and got rid of lots of papers and 2 old natural brochures. Now the drawer is looking very tidy. 3 more drawers to go. Also I took some old clothes and sandals to the textile bank when I went shopping at Sainsbury's. So very good clear out at the weekend. I have been composting tissues still but try not to put too many in, about 2 a day, and a couple in a bin and the rest down the toilet. Although my mum disagrees with that because tissues are a different paper to toilet roll and don't break down easily, so I tear the tissue up first before throwing it in the toilet. I do the same when I put it in the compost.

Well, must get on with work now.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Allie update

So far I have managed to get the words down to just over 32,000 and with the revisions I have recently done I feel quite confident that I am on a roll and can make it to 30,000. I have emailed the publisher I intend sending it to, and she has replied that I can send the whole ms not just the first 3 chapters. So, things are looking up.

Now that I have done these cuts to Allie I know what I need to do for Georgina's story once I have finished typing it up. Can't wait.

If you have seen my comment on Facebook, I have now booked a third Chatterbooks session for 5th June. I have also come up with the idea of a library tour with a group of children's authors, whom I had contacted last year about book signings. I will be contacting them to see what their thoughts are on it and if I get great interest then I will find out how to go about setting it up. So watch this space....

Back to filing now.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Rubbish Diet Week 5

So how am I going with this challenge? OK so far I believe. I am now able to compost more tissues and kitchen roll, because Mum mowed the lawn at the weekend and put tons of grass clippings in the compost bin, so we need more browns in it to mix it up. So have been doing that. I managed to buy most fruit and veggies either loose or in recycleable bags yesterday, apart from the carrots that was.

You can find out how I managed during Weeks 1-4 when I guest blog at later this week. I also hope to be guest blogging at next week about recycling at work, which I have yet to draft out. So watch this space...

Back to work now.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010


On Saturday I had a meeting with the librarian at my local library to go through what I had planned to do with the children on 30th April. The librarian was quite impressed with what I had planned as she said that it was a well thought out programme and she was going to suggest to me that if I didn't know what to do she was going to tell me to do craft activity. No need for that now. It went really well and I came out pleased with myself.

Other news. I have a letter in the current issue of Writer's Forum, which I've not received yet but have received prize notebook that you get when a letter is published.

Allie - have now got it down to 32,905, and doing my hardest to get it down to 30,000. Be doing some more revisions today and tomorrow.

Back to filing now as some of our systems are down.

Monday, 12 April 2010

The Rubbish Diet Challenge

If you have been reading the last few entries here you will know that I have been trying to reduce my rubbish that goes to landfill. I had been doing quite well until yesterday. I had been putting dirty tissues and kitchen roll in the compost but it has proved to been too much and my mum has asked me not to put any more in for the next few weeks. There has to be a good mix of whites, greens and browns to get the compost to break down properly, and there is too much white stuff in there now. So yesterday I tried not to use too many tissues and kitchen roll. Started off OK. Didn't use kitchen roll when I ate a nectarine, and used a plate to put the pitta bread to thaw out and cool down on, and for putting the egg shells on for dinner, before putting them in the compost caddy. We shall see how it goes the next few weeks. I think so far in the bin there is one bag of rubbish and a small dirty cloth, but there maybe another bag put in there today from all our bedroom bins. I still think that we recycle more stuff than we send to landfill. My aim is to get it down to maybe a bag a fortnight.

Watch this space...

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Good news!

I haven't got inflammation of the liver. I saw my consultant yesterday and he was very doubtful about the previous scan results. He said that scans aren't a good way to find out if there is anything wrong with the liver as they are hit and miss and blood tests are better, and my test results were all normal apart from one thing, which meant it was OK. He said that he was doubtful the tablet was causing me any harm after all this time, even if it can happen. I then went to have another scan and it showed that my liver was fine, no inflammation whatsoever. So I left a very happy bunny but confused.

I received my prize for my star letter last week. It wasn't all that I expected. It was meant to be all Manuka Honey products but due to being v popular some of the items were out of stock, so I got some honey, some lavender, some tea tree and one pomegranate. I will use all of them anyway.

I have now managed to get Allie down to just under 34,000 words. Am working hard to get it down to 30,000 and determined to do so.

Back to work now.

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Allie update

I typed up all the revisions on Allie yesterday and now the word count is down to 34,758. I feel that I am now getting there and all it needs is a good push. I have come up with an idea how I can get it down even more, by making the story simpler and have one thing happening to Allie each morning and afternoon. We shall see how that works out. Have the last chapter to do tomorrow, then back to the beginning again.

Also, I have emailed a letter to Writer's Forum and will wait and see if that gets published or not later this year. I have rewritten a short story for a writing for children competition and another for a magazine, which had been rejected for an anthology recently. I took on board the comments I got from that and revised it accordingly. We shall wait and see what happens with that. Both deadlines are for mid April, so I have to get cracking. Thankfully it's Easter next weekend and I have a few more days to write.

Well, this is all for now. Back later in the week with more writing and recycling news.

See you then.