Thursday, 29 December 2011

A free experiment

This is something else that I have learnt from WG2EP. They called it the Freeway Experiment. I originally priced The Railway Angel at 99c as it is a short story. This was to see what interest I got in it and how many bought it. Here are the results to date:

Up to now December 29: Amazon - 2 bought; Smashwords 12 downloaded with only 1 bought.

It made me happy then that at least people were reading my work but I got thinking. A lot of other indie authors who have written series have put their first book as free whilst pricing the rest. So this is what I have done. I have now changed the price to free on Smashwords, and Amazon will catch up shortly I believe. I have already put this news on FB and Twitter. And emailed all the Yahoo groups I belong to. We shall see what happens.

I shall bring the results in a month's time (will put this on my new calendar block) to do for then.
I am interested to know what happens.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Starting as an indie author

Earlier this year I found the Writers' Guide to EPublishing blog and am so pleased I did. (Don't ask me how I found it cos I can't remember - prob via another blog). This was my intro to epublishing. Reading this and other stuff about epublishing, I began my journey of becoming an indie author. Last month on WG2Epub blog, there was a list of things to do for a new indie author. Here is my take on this:

1. Read everything you can about epublishing. Well, WG2EP was my start. I have read about it in writing magazines, and have recently bought John Locke's ebook about how he earnt so much in so many days.
2. Have an avatar image. I have now. It used to be a photo of me, but now it is the cover of The Railway Angel. I have been told this is good, cos when you see it you know it is me.
3. Decide what skills you are going to use. Eg I have decided to try to format all my works into ebooks myself and pay for a cover designer.
4. Hire a professional editor. I did this for Railway Angel and will do this for all my indie books. I feel this is essential, because you are too close to your own writing to see for real errors.
5. Treat epublishing as a business. I am now going to do that. I shall try to do some work on my wips each day.
6. Have a website. I have two. One of my angel series ( and one for my other writings (
7. Read all Author Agreements. I didn't before but will do on my next ebooks.
8. Write a fab blurb. I feel I did this for Angel book 1 and have to do the same for Angel 2 and my romance series.
9. Join Kindle and Nook boards. I have done this and introduced myself. Need to chat not just about my books now.
10. Write and read, write and read. I do this all the time anyway. Esp read. I read both children's and adult books. And have recently bought indie authors ebooks who write for WG2EP to see how they write.

Well, that was my take. Next post will be about my writing goals for next year.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Sydenham Xmas Fayre

On Saturday I went back to Sydenham Community Library to try to drum up some more interest in my angel ebook. It wasn't what I expected it to be. There was a story time for children up to 10 y-o but no other children. Anyway, I listened to the storytime, while searching for customers. I met a man who is from the Friends of Sydenham, who recognised me from the Save the Libraries day in February when I did a reading from Rosie. He was in charge of organising the fayre. He mentioned that during the break I could always go and give out my cards etc. So in the end that is what I did. I went up to the parents and their children and offered them a free pen and bookmark. They were all interested and happy to get one. Hopefully they will keep them and know my name for future reference. I later got talking to the organiser man, who was waiting for the next guest to arrive. He asked me if I'd be interested in story telling if this man didn't arrive. I wasn't sure, although I did tell him that I do write short stories for children that age. We got to talking and I gave him my card. He said that they were arranging another event for the Spring and he'd contact me to find out if I was interested then. This could be another bow to my string I thought. Who knows where it might lead to. Then near the end, when I packed up, a teenager came to me. We got talking about writing and I gave her my card and a pen. She writes too, and said that she wants to write when she leaves college. I said that to be a writer, she will have to make sure she finds the time to do it, as lots of people say they want to write but never bother to find the time. All in all, although I didn't sell anything, I did make myself known and get interest in me and my books. And possibly get future events happening with this new contact. Watch this space...

Friday, 16 December 2011

Ebook launch

Yesterday afternoon, at my local library where I once volunteered, I had a launch celebration for The Railway Angel. It wasn't a huge success. No one downloaded the ebook or bought Rosie, which I took with me for a special offer. My friend Heather came with her little boy. He ran round the library, dropping books all over the place. A right pickle, he is, but a cheeky one with it. He took to me a few times by taking me by the hand and leading me to places around the room. Sweet. It was half way through that I decided to do something myself. I saw a young girl on the floor playing with a toy and picked up a pen and a bookmark and went to her. I asked her if she wanted a free pen and bookmark, and she said yes, so I gave her them. I then did the same to two other girls she was with. One of them then saw my Angel postcards and I told her to take one, which she did. They were with her mum. I saw them read the cards and the mum told the girls, that is Julie Day and she wrote the book. You can say you've met a real author now. Yay, I thought. I'm a real author. I packed up at 4.30pm, and as I did, fellow children's writer, Heather Kilgour, arrived. My other friend Heather then packed up, put her boy in his buggy and left. I then talked to Heather K about writing and that. So not a huge success but who knows what comes from giving out those freebies.
I was told that there will be a Xmas fayre tomorrow at the library. So have decided to try my luck again then, as have been told there will be chidren's activities going on in the morning. We shall see.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Exciting news

In one of my posts before, I mentioned that I had a new digital publisher (owned by a fellow romance writer friend) interested in a romance story I had planned. Well, I emailed it to her a couple of weeks ago and she read it last week. She likes the theme, the way I write and she wants to publish it as an estory. Hurrah! I will be finally published as a romance author. My friend also wants an outline of the rest of the stories for the series, so will have to get working on that. We also need to work out a title for the series. I would like the words 'Aunt Geraldine' or just 'Geraldine' in the title somewhere. My first thought was 'Aunt Geraldine says' because she says the title of the book as a phrase. Watch this space for more about this. My friend is back from a break today and maybe hear from her again tomorrow. She said in her last email that if I wanted to go ahead, which I replied I do, then she will start drawing up a contract for me. Yay. I can't wait. Already have a couple of ideas for two more stories, one of which I have already got the basic story typed up. Been scouring the agony aunt pages in my paper for ideas. As I know more about this and what happens, I will blog here. So again, watch this space...

Friday, 2 December 2011

SCBWI-BI Conference - Part 4

We had lunch. My non-dairy lunch was chicken and roasted veg with rice, which I really liked. Then it was off to the final chosen talk. The author checklist by Candy, Jon Mayhew and Judy Hindley. They posed questions to ask your publisher about: budget, prizes, press, festivals, book tours and merchandise. It was suggested that you have a meeting with publicity team, and find out if you are going to meet people who are passionate about your books. What kind of author do you want to be? Decide what events you want to do. Who are you aiming your book at? Really engage with children. Know who your gatekeepers and influences are. Booksellers, esp indies. Librarians. The school library service was mentioned as a good place to start. Teachers are best way to contact in schools. IBBY was mentioned. They have an annual congress, and call for papers which means proposals for talks. Think of who will be attending and aim your talk at them. Have an angle. (Eg Jon is gothic horror). UK Lit Agency was mentioned too as a place to contact. Parents - a good way is via Mumsnet. Reviewers: fan blogs can be influential. Carousel, Armadillo mags. It was mentioned by someone for free PR,
Blogs - Candy uses long titles in hers, so there are various items that can crop up when searching.
Have a memorable book lauch. Always have family and friends. Invite local teachers and librarians.
School visits - Getting events. Jon has an info sheet to give to schools about his guidelines. When it comes to your act, don't talk about yourself. Take time to plan and care what you plan to do.
Book sales - The publisher usually has a profile of you online. Frontpage Extra was mentioned. Candy uses blogger. Author's Place, Amazon Public Notes (in US and for Kindle). Your notes on Kindle goes on there. Make lists eg Vinevoice. Youtube and Google+ are also good.
Then we ran out of time because it was over time and half way into tea time. I managed to grab a piece of fruit cake, but no drink.
After teatime, was Chris Riddell. He talked about how he became an illustrator - used to draw when he listened to his father's sermons and swap his drawings for wine gums with an old lady. Still likes wine gums. Did art at school, although it was a subject for losers, then went to art school where his mentor was Raymond Briggs. After some years, he met Paul Stewart at a Xmas party, where both of them were feeling dejected and partnered up. Paul lived one end of the road and Chris the other and they met in the pub in the middle for their meetings. Now Paul lives nearer Chris and can see from upstairs into Chris' garden. We were shown lots of his political cartoons.
After that was the prize presentation but I left near the end as I didn't want to miss my train, having wanted to get a taxi. I bumped into Janet Foxley, who offered to share a cab, so we went to the station together. I had a headache and neckache by the end of the day, prob due to not drinking enough in the afternoon, and the way I was sitting.
All in all, a good but exhausting time.

Monday, 28 November 2011

SCBWI-BI conference - Part 3

I shall blog about the party, with photos, later on. Here is Sunday, the last exhausting day.
First I went to a talk by 'The Edge' authors. A group of authors who write gritty books. They were Sara Grant, Bryony Pearce, Dave Cousins, Paula Rawsthorne and Miriam Halahmy. They introduced themselves by impersonating each other, which was a laugh as Dave donned a black wig to do Miriam. Photo to come. They answered questions that had been written on their board. Edgy = issue orientated/controversial. Tell with truth and authenticity. Is language worth taking? Important to story. Miriam said you have to be comfortable to write it. You have to be able to stand up for what you've written. Prepared to talk/blog about it. Are there reservations? If you get too passionate, you can forget the story. Story has to drive it. Reader has to connect to the story.
Hooking teen readers - Getting them to pick up the books. It has to be entertaining, thought-provoking, engaging and page-turning. Great story with engaging characters. Teens at heart of story. Reader can engage with character, who can be flawed. Paula likes to develop the characters and says the openers can be grabby.
Swearing/slang - Miriam doesn't use it. Says that hell, and damn it can sound like a sad, old teenager. Do you want to use the words? Use actions to show not using swear words. Slang has to earn its place in book. Cool is OK to use.
Brands - be generic. Eg don't use Nokia, use mobile phone
Sara says she gets completely emotionally involved in her work.
What attracts the panel to teen fiction - Dave: the blurb, front page. If the author is honest, then he reads the whole book. Bryony: by her lifestyle. Paula: likes girls with flaws and who are complex. Miriam: wants to read what she writes. Situation can be in and what to do. Sara: Be moved and in tears. Powerful and think of it when finished.
Do teens feel books are edgy? Sara says no. Miriam says it's not her problem.What teen boys read, she writes. Dave writes what he wants. Maybe find different ways to get them reading. School libraries are good as they have to go there. Sara just wants to get children reading.
Age-range on books - Miriam doesn't like it. Feels that children are different to one another. Bryony: Likes it but not 12+ as some kids might be put off. Likes the content used inside comment.
Then came the question I put on the board and someone asked for me. Do teens read from ereaders? Sara said she did a Skype interview to the US and all the children there had Kindle. Feels that they could be good for teens as they can read things that other people can't see. Hopes that this will come to the UK like US. Dave says his 12 y-o has an iPad. Miriam says that kids might like the privacy.
Then came recommended reads: Miriam - Being Billy by Phil Earle and Bali Rai's Kid Honour (might have title wrong), Paula - Pigeon English by Steve Calman; Bryony = Skin Hunger by K Dury; Dave - Stolen by Lucy Christopher and Sara's is Nothing by J Teller.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

SCBWI-BI Conference - Part 2

Saturday cont...
Then came lunch. I was one of the last in the queue. As I have a dairy intolerance, I was able to go to another queue and I got jacket potato with roasted veg in a tomato sauce. It was really nice.
Then came Anthony McGowan about plots. They have to have a beginning (consequences), a middle (reactions) and an end (what's gone on before with no end). Plot is what happens that is plausibly connected. Then he talked about the freytag pyramid, which he has used once. (I think Laura Atkins has shown this better than I can). He told a true story about him, a dog and a crossbow, and this upset and offended a few of the audience. I know I was a bit shocked with it. Basically you have to ask yourself four questions. Who is the main character? What are they trying to achieve? Who is trying to stop them? What happens if they fail? With characters, they can be more sympathetic and accepting. So being nice and have unreserved suffering - something happening that's not their fault. Achieve - stop baddie, badder the better. Failure - death, real or figuratively. The main character can have a particular feature eg H Potter is an orphan. So his journey can be: is a wanderer, who needs help and skills, find them and becomes warrior. Fights battle with baddie. If he fails, he becomes a martyr, as he has sacrificed himself to help others.
You can change the structure of the story chronologically by inc flashback. Have differeny pov with same action or narrative. Tension - baddie makes life misery. More at stake. Makes better story.
After that was state of the nation panel. There is now a kidsbook review section on the Guardian website. Neil said to approach publishers early with your concept. Use photoshop and work in layers. See the screen/scene. Think outside page spread and papers. Explore narrative ideas that are different than print. The story drives the technology. Tales of the Moon say. Look inside yourself and find something that matters and resonates. Go and speak to local bookshops and ask about events and what best to do. Make yourself known to your local librarian. If they have seen book and like it, will review it, but if don't like it then won't review it. They were asked if digital will affect print? The Kindle is going down in price. Digital has ignited discussions. Important that story continues with different medias.
How can libraries/indie bookshops survive? Indie - ebook sales growth, not huge threat. Library, no. Only if profession doesn't survive. If able to connect with someone passionate about books, then good. Then social media was brought up, esp FB. People want to know what writers do, not publishers. You can use voice of character with this. With Twitter, you can base relationships with people who sell books. Storycloud was mentioned. With digital storytelling, use the community (social media). Think of your connection with your readers.
Libraries buy their books online from superstore of library supplier.
Don't jump on to new trends.
Neil (for illustrators) - Simplicity.
I asked how can someone who has published an ebook do an event. The indie bookshop said that make sure you have facilities to buy book at the end of event. Have technology to show the reader your book for sale. Neil said, he 's done event on how digital can be done. Book place where all forms of books can be seen, and where family can be together. Bookplace can be what to look for.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

SCBWI-BI Conference - Part 1

Last weekend I went to Winchester to the SCBWI-BI Conference, and had a great time meeting others and listening and learning. Friday night was the crit night then the pizza place. I got a lot of comments on Georgina, some good (like the idea of the story) and some not so good (found a bit confusing). It has made me think about what I can change about it, and have decided that maybe I should concentrate more on making the magic tell the story of how chemicals can react with you. Then we all went to the pizza place. 60 of us. I had a good chat about epubbing and my ebook. Donna Vann, who has already bought Angel, said she'd read it, liked it and was surprised how short it was because she wanted more. Yay. I had linguine Bolognese with dough balls - I was hungry by then, and none of the desserts I could eat because they all had milk in. I didn't eat all the Bolognese as it filled me up. Discovered that the place was only a couple of mins walk from my hotel.
Saturday. First was the welcome, then Frank Cottrell-Boyce told us about his writing. Then came a talk by Frank on young fiction. His fave author is E Nesbit, and he read out sections of her ebook The New Treasurers, which was funny. He believes she had an eye for detail, made the world big and mixed magic with reality. Eg when the children were buying the ingredients for a cake, they mentioned the price. He was asked about drama, and he replied it is the gap between who the children they they aren and what they are doing. Think Just William. He said to define the world then put in the details. He was asked about the middle. Make it what's enjoyable and what people want to take out of the story. Was asked about dangerous situations in books. Frank said if children in danger then make it from their pov. If you want a light touch with it, you can do it. He also said that he is insecure about his writing, and doesn't plot his novels, although he used to. It was a great and funny talk.
Then came the Industry Panel. Sarah Odedina who used to work for Bloomsbury but has now set up her own company called Bonnier, who are looking for children's novels. Accepts email submissions of an outline of book and first 2/3 chapters. Likes crossovers. Feels the ms has to have strong narrative. Likes humour, paranormal and ghost. Next was Amber from Orion. She works with author to build profile. No longer accepts unagented mss because they receive too many to do so now. Then Rachel from MacMillan. They print 50 titles a year. Loves YA. Then Sharon Chai, a senior cover designer (can't remember what publisher). The cover has to capture the eye and be intriguing. Websites/blogs etc are important to have. Then was David from Walker. Printing more digital than print n ow. Print books have to be special now to be on shelves. Amber said that the first book not brilliant she won't say goodbye as a client. Work with an author if feel they are a good writer and have merit, as knows that first book isn't always the best one.
All authors are proactive finding authors via competitions, conferences etc.
Rejection isn't bad. Don't lose faith in your book. Keep yourself open to things. One publisher might not like your book, another will. Or the agent might like your writing and want something else from you. Classic themes eg Pooh, is selling well. A good sales figure per year is 10,000 copies a year.
Their 3 top tips are: Sarah - Read as many authors as you can. Don't look at what's selling now to write it. Keep reading your own work and how you speak. Amber: Read. Visit shops etc. Rmember the publisher is on your side and not the only gatekeeper. Sharon: Push yourself. Don't be afraid to ask people about your work. David: Have your own voice. Leave out work you're not sure of. ( the last one was for illustrators).
Will write about the rest of Saturday later on .

Thursday, 17 November 2011

My current wip

I am currently working on an adult romance ebook that has magical elements in. Yep, I just cant resist putting in magic in this one either. I think it brings the humour and fun side out in my writing, and hope readers like it too. This is a first in a series I have planned about a photo of a dead aunt that comes alive to help her relatives in romantic situations. I plan to have sayings in the titles eg the first one I plan to call 'Plenty more fish in the sea.' I have been reading the agony aunt page in my newspaper to get ideas for more stories. I am on track with this one as it is nearly 6000 words, which is ideal for the market I am aiming for. I was going to go indie with this one, like the angel series for teens, but then came the last RNA chapter meeting last month. After the main meeting, one of the members announced that she is planning to open a digital publishing company for romance books and will be after submissions from new authors as well as authors who have got books out of print and want to republish them. One of the items she calls movellas, short stories to go on mobiles and this was where I was interested. I had a chat with her about what I was planning and she said she is interested. So once I have finished the first of the series, I call the Aunt Geraldine series, and have had it edited a few times, I will submit it to my fellow romance writer and publishing founder. Can't wait.
Other news and exciting this is: I have been put on a list with other indie authors to write a story for various anthologies set to be e-published in 2013. I can't wait. I mentioned my USP of magical elements and they liked that idea, so maybe I will be writing a story with magic in it. Hurrah.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

My ebook journey

Sorry I've not been here for a while but have been v busy working on my ebook, and it now out. Here is my story. Once I had finished the story and was happy with it, I then formatted it according to Smashwords Style Guide. I then went onto their website and uploaded it with all the details for it, inc blurb, synopsis, cover etc. Great, it's done I thought. Then I remembered I hadn't assigned it an ISBN no, so back to the site, assign it a number and upload it again. Good, that is that. No, I was wrong. Later that day I suddenlty thought, oh no, I have uploaded the wrong version. I'd put on the unformatted version. So back to Smashwords I went, and put the right one on. Hurrah. That was last Tuesday and you can find it on Smashwords here: I checked all the formats and they are fine. Next stop was Amazon, although you can download to a Kindle from Smashwords. I wanted full exposure of it to everyone.
So yesterday I went on Amazon and followed Freda Lightfoot's guide (thanks Freda), on how to do it. All was going well until I got to uploading the cover. It wouldn't recognise it. I went out of Amazon and when I went into it again a third time, the cover was there. Hurrah. Next was the book file, but I couldn't work out how I could save the prc file which Freda had mentioned. Puzzled, I went away. I came back with an idea - to save the copy I'd downloaded to check the mobi format. It worked. I then went on to put on the price of it, the royalties and all the other stuff they need to know. I have read that it takes 24 hours to go live on the website but it's not on there yet. Shall look again either later today or tomorrow. I am so excited about this. Have been round and about, putting postcards on buses and trains and at events I've been to, advertising my ebook The Railway Angel. Shall be reading more on how I can promote myself online. Watch this space.
I'm now working hard on my next ebook, this one a romance with a touch of magic.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

SCBWI Agent's Party 2011

A bit late in blogging about this, but here we are. On 29 Sept I went to the SCBWI agent's party. I was determined to speak to an agent, even if I didn't win the raffle, which I knew I wouldn't, not for the second time. (I didn't).

Benjamin introduced the agents one by one, then got them to tell us about who they were, what they do and want.

Zoe King from The Blair Partnership said they'd only been open for 3 months. Her wish list was: space (evolution), new frontier, historical romance for younger readers, futuristic settings and trolls. She wants new writers. To submit: the first 10 pages of the ms and intro of the book (the blurb). They do editorial help for 6-12 months with writers. They like brand development, esp websites for commercial writers.

Julian Friedman of Blake Friedman said he wants YA only and 9+ with strong TV settings in mind. He gave an example a writer he'd accepted who had ideas for spin offs and other things tying in with the book. Prefers email submissions. He's unlikely to take on complete unpublished writers, unless developed eg has great world of characters mapped out.

Alice Wiliams from David Higham works with Caroline Walsh. Wants mss for 9-12, teen and YA. Open to new writers and illustrators. Keen to have humour for boys, literary authors. Prefers email submissions. When you email, put that you have met her at the party and she will read it herself.

Vicki from Bright Agency wants chidren focussed mss. Is v keen on brands. Wants writers and illustrators who are proactive with new environment of social media. Works with authors taking them through the development process. Wants to make it happen and match them with publishers. Vicki has been growing the agency. To submit: address to Laura. Ms has to have good strong character.

Gillie Russell from Aitken Alexander says voice is all important, so is great storytelling. She has to be able work out them out. Likes humour for boys. Feels there is too much fantasy. Email her is fine, with short synopsis, short bio and first three chapters.

Claire Wilson from RCW works with Pat White. Likes fantasy, scifi and humour. Voice is important, and has to make ms stand out and be unique. Don't patronise the reader and overestimate their intelligence. See website for email address. Submit to reader.

Then came questions. Julian wanted to know how important Nielson data was for YA. Gillie replied that publishers do look at the data but only trade publishers analyse it.

Asked, what do they do in a day. They all said that they do the communication side of work. Checking emails, contacting authors, publishers etc. Gillie said nurturing authors. Tracking trends, eg checking what's going on on FB and Twitter.

Next question was what do readers look at first? Zoe said she reads them herself and reads the not-sure pile first. Goes by instinct. So does Gillie, who then gets a back up reading. Julian said that most mss are sent too soon and aren't polished enough. Approves of crit groups. Looks at first, letter and first 3 pages then asks others. Alice says her reader likes the ms then talks to agent best suited for the ms. Vicki asked is there a place, a need for it? She says that she can make it happen. Have to be mindful that you can deliver.

Zoe then said, you have to ask why are you writing it? What do you want to achieve? What can you offer? Start with a great relationship with agent.

Julian said that they have suggested story line for author if the writer writes good but not got good story. Claire said that chemistry with agent is important. Is conscious of right book to publish.

It then went on to talk about social media and was said that online presence is crucial. Author must have website, blog etc. Publishers ask how promotable authors are. Have to have edge over others. Zoe says you can't underestimate online connection with readers. Worth to have a strategy. Explore online presence. You have to be 20% professional writer. Comment on other blogs. Mentioned Tumblr. Gillie said good idea to spend time where children do.

It doesn't get harder with age to get published. Then they said how many clients they have. Claire = 9-30, Gillie=6, Vicki=6, Alice=10, Julian=6/7 and Zoe=3.

After that was food. I had ham and tomato sandwich with sticky chicken bits and somasas. The chicken had orange sauce on it which got all over the napkin and I ended up with orange nails. Then I joined the queue to talk to Zoe. Seemed interested in my mss Allie.

Result = Zoe and Gillie have so far rejected Allie. Two more agents to write to. Have a plan B if that fails.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Writing for the US

I am sorry but have been rather lapse with this blog recently. Have been busy working on my teen ebook and not been well. I have a cold now but here I am.

Last time I said that I'd write why writing for the US excites me. There are two reasons: series and paranormal.

Once I have finally finished Georgina (have another two drafts to complete first), I am going to start writing a series of paranormal romances. This is why I am excited about what I learnt at Janet's talk in July. Paranormal adult romances aren't really that known over here but in the US they are, and Janet has told us that the US prefer series rather than stand-alones. I have drafted an outline of each book I plan to write in the series but need more research, such as looking for pictures of the characters so I can describe them more in the books.

The other reason I got excited was the mention of ebooks. The US like ebooks, and this is where my new teen ebooks can help me. I am thinking that if I start off slow with publishing short ebooks about paranormal/angel teen ebooks, then who knows who might get to see them and pay attention to me and my writing. We can but hope.

So I now have a plan for this: Plan A - once I have finished submit it through the RNA's NWS scheme and try for a UK publisher (have a few in mind). Plan B - if not successful then, try for a US publisher, and there are lots more there than here. If still not successful (I'm not giving up), I am going the ebook route again myself.

So watch this space...

Thursday, 15 September 2011

The US Writing Experience

This comes two months later but here it is now. In July I listened to Janet Gover talk about the US Writing Experience. Janet has lived in the UK until last year when she moved to the US as her husband had a job there. She gave a talk about what writing in the US is like compared to here. Here is her take on it:

Mainstream = 90,000 words
Romance must be sexy, if not then it is classed as Women's Fiction
Genre definitions are different.
Some genres are missing
Some genres are US centred only
More publishers (bigger country)
Ebooks are critical
Covers are v different.

They do paranormal/fantasy, which is v sexy and sensual
Vampires and shapeshifters
All these have kick-ass heroines with magical elements (my sort of book)

Romantic Suspense
Women in jeopary who become stronger. Has to be sensual with alpha heroes. Fast paced. Heroine has to ask can I trust the hero?

US women's fiction instead of saga. This is mass market women's fiction, which inc families with sub-plots, contemporary. Small town books and settings can be outside of US. Usually series with new characters and settings in each one.
If you are unpubbed you sell with whole book but if you are pubbed then you sell with only partial and synopsis which is more detailed and series outlined.

Trade women's fiction
Again families and sub-plots. Contemporary historical. Bigger books in all genres (as in 100,000)

Protagonist must be 17-19 y-o.
Paranormal, steam punk, sci-fi, distopia, coming of age. Magic phase. Has romance with sexual tension.

Publisher's want: Paranormal (yay for me), YA, women's fiction (small town series), cowboy, RS (series with ongoing characters).

When submitting: Make sure your genre is current, some prefer agents, outline series.

The state of industry is positive and they are actively seeking new authors, and new imprints are popping up all the time (Avon Impulse is one). Ebooks can expand readership (yay for me again), publishers are active with social media. Self-publishing is moving the balance of power. So royalties for ebooks are moving.

This really heartened me, esp the paranormal part and ebooks. To read why, visit my next post.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

August roundup

So what did I get up to and do in August. Well, first off I had a letter in Full House magazine, which I have yet to be paid for. I eagerly await cheque so I can put it in my bank account.

I did two library events: the first one was a failure as only my friend and her son turned up and they had given me a lift to the library. The second one I waited an hour and a half before two children joined me to do a collage. Pictures will soon appear on my website.

As well as working on Allie, now on Chapter 6, I have been working on the first of a series of supernatural and magical ebooks for teenagers about a team of teenage ghosts called 'The Guardian Angels.' That is currently with a copyeditor/proofreader and I wait her comments on the revisions of it. I had to make it into one pov and change the age of the person the main character, Lizzie, is tested on. It was a man but now a teenage boy. I have been drafting the layout of the school and rooms there and have in mind to do a website esp for this. I've been researching other teen authors to see what theirs look like and what is on it.

Last night I had a brainwave in bed. I thought of another series of ebooks connected to the Angels - what happened to the teenagers that they saved from ending their lives? So that is what I wrote down. I can't wait.

Next week I will be posting about writing romance in the US, as I went to a talk in July from an author who lived over here and has gone to live there recently and how she has found it there.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Epublishing opportunties

Every writing magazine I now read mentions that epublishing is the future and it can offer more opportunites for writers, and I so agree. This is why I have started a series of stories for teenagers, as I don't think there are many magazines/ezines out there that will take them, so I want to expand my readership and try and get paid for it. I have decided that this series I will publish on Amazon as well as Smashwords as I think that most people have Kindles rather than the other ereaders - expanding my readership again. I have found a cover I like for the ebook and photos of the character in it to go on a special website for the series. I am currently working on the layout of the classrooms in the school, which will also have magical properties to them.
I have sent it off for a second copyedit and proofread, making notes of what I did wrong for the rest of the series. The cover design won't be done for a few weeks as the designer I have chosen to help me is busy on her own book right now until 12 Sept. Meantime I will wait for the edit to come back, amend anything and format the book.

I have also got in mind a series of romantic ghost stories, the first of which was published in Crystal magazine. The second was rejected. Can you see my writing has a theme to it? All ghosts and magic. I have planned to reread the first story next week whilst I wait for the designer to finish her own work and am working on the website pages for the teen series.

So watch this space...

Monday, 8 August 2011

More epublishing

The more and more I read about authors self-publishing ebooks either on Kindle or Smashwords, the more and more I feel that I am doing the right thing. And esp after I read a couple of articles/interviews in the recent Writing Magazine/Writers' News. The first article was by crime writer Stephen Leather. He is printed in mainstream but decided to self-publish ebooks to increase his readership. It has worked because the report read that he has sold 7000 (yes, that is thousand) ebooks in one day (yes, one day). The way he did this is to price his ebooks at the minimum price of 99cents (about 85p in UK).

The other interview was by US author John Locke who is published in ebook only. He decided to do this because, I think by the look of his books, they don't fit into one specific genre, and I know that agents and publishers do like to take on books that fit one genre because it is easier for booksellers to place them in the shops. He said that he did this mainly because he was an first time author with no record of sales, and it has worked. He has just released a non-fiction ebook called 'How I made 1 million sales in 5 months'. Yes, you read that right. I want this book to come out in print as I don't have a Kindle. The way he did this, yes, you guessed he priced his books that same as Stephen did at 99cents and that is the result.

So when I have finished and got my short story out there published, I will do the same and price it at the minimum of 99c and see what happens. I know that others have read this same article and have done this to see what results they get in selling their ebook faster. Meantime, I have rewrites to do on my ebook. I sent it off for a copyedit and proofread and got back a proper critique of it. Thanks Hilary. The spelling, punctuation and grammar are all fine, it was just the way that I worded and structured things and multiple vops, which aren't the done thing normally in a short story. So I have changed it now to be just Lizzie's vop and tried to make it more upbeat. Shall do the typing up of changes tomorrow. Then be working on Hilary's other changes after that.

Will be writing about the process of it here but when it is up and running out there, I shall switch to Netlog blog to post about it there as I have decided to have that blog just for promoting my books, leaving this one to write about the writing process and events.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Embracing new technology

Well, I have decided to embrace new technology and will be soon publishing my first ebook on Smashwords. I wrote a teen story about a girl who had died and was sent to earth to stop a man from suicide last year and entered it for a ghost and angel story competition, but got nowhere. I still liked the idea, and had even thought of a few more to make a series but didn't do anything about it, until now. I had been reading 'The Grumpy Old Bookman's' page in Writing Magazine who had been talking about self-publishing on Smashwords and getting success there, and reading email loops about other authors self-publishing on Kindle. How about giving it a go myself, I thought, it is short to start with and teenagers are bound to be more prone to reading ebooks than younger children. So I went on Smashwords and printed out their Style and Marketing Guides (both free). I have now completed the ebook and sent it for a professional copyedit and proofread, and meanwhile have started formatting the story for ebook. Hope to finish that tomorrow. I am quite excited about it as it's a new venture for me. I am thinking that when it is published and out there for all to buy, to do the round at the local libraries to promote it with either booking signings or just put out some promo material for it - I have in mind postcards or business type cards that I can sign instead of an ebook. I have heard that this is what romance writers in the US do, they call them romance trading cards. I have yet to put this out on my website and once I have worked out a blurb for it then I will, as well as a cover, which I have in mind already. Watch this space...

Saturday, 9 July 2011


I am more than ever now determined to get Allie published mainstream and conventional. Why? The way I got Rosie published wasn't, and it has come back to haunt me time and again, and most recently this week. I had been guest blogging on the Scattered Authors' Society blog once a month and recently they decided to take a look at my publisher, I think because my blogs weren't deemed professional enough to go out to the wide reading public which incs libraries etc. They had a look and felt that the publisher was a vanity publisher. I replied saying they weren't, not quite. Because of this they feel that it isn't fair for the readers to have me on the schedule as I am not mainstream. It is such a disappointment but it is not the first time I have been said no to because of this. I do understand that they have standards. Now I am more than ever to be get Allie and all my other big book ideas published conventionally and mainstream. All I have to do is find an agent who likes my work. So far no luck. Had another rejection this week. Will be sending it out to a publisher whom I met at the retreat in May, which I will mention in the letter. There are other agents out there, and I have been looking in the Yearbook to see who might like my work and have published authros who have had books out similar to what I write. There are a few so will write to them. When I do get published mainstream, and I will, I will be back with all those who have said no to me. So watch this space...

Monday, 4 July 2011

June news

So what happened in June? Lots. At the start of the month I was in the latest issue of Writers' News (in the middle of Writing Magazine) all about my children's story success. Then I had a talk to a library coffee group in Pett's Wood about writing what you know and interests. The same day I picked up a copy of Best of British mag and saw that I had a letter in there so bought it and took it to show the coffee ladies. The talk went very well and they said it was interesting and I sold 2 copies of Rosie. Then a week or so later I got an email from the editor of magazine Your Healthy Living, a free mag from local health stores, to say that I had won prize 2. So my mum went shopping, popped into our local health store and got the magazine, and there was my letter. I got my prize a couple of weeks later of a set of Weleda natural toiletries. More added to my collection. I look forward to using them as this set is for sensitive skin.

This coming week is the 3rd birthday of the Scattered Author's Society blog - awfullybigblogadventure and they are holding an online literature festival for it and I am taking part. It starts on Saturday with different authors doing things every half hour be it blogging, contests, giveaways, videos. My blog appears at 7pm on Sunday so come and join us celebrate.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Mental Health appointment

Yesterday I had an appointment with a Mental Health team, in fact it was a social worker who assessed me, although she didn't introduce herself until a few minutes in to the interview and my mum had to ask her who she was. Anyway, I wasn't sure what it was going to be about and the social worker said that they only deal with mental health issues not Asperger's. She was going to talk about my generalised anxiety disorder which is a mental health issue. GAD is associated with Asperger's I have read. She talked about whether I wanted to go on medication for it and I said no, I wasn't that bad with it and I didn't want to become dependent on them. She then mentioned cognitive behavourial therapy (CBT) where you have a counsellor and over a number of sessions you explore how you feel and why you feel that way. Both my mum and I believe that this could be beneficial to me and we wait and see what happens about it. They said that either they can offer it to me or they can refer me back to Maudsley where I was diagnosed with Asperger's. It was also mentioned about whether I would get a social worker and the answer was probably not because I think it was down to how serious my problems were, and we also brought up benefits, again the answer was no, because of the amount of savings I have got. The social worker said that because of that they wouldn't even consider me. So unfair. One thing we did learn about this interview was that my GP referred me to them originally last year, they had a meeting and decided that because it was all about Asperger's then they weren't the right people for me so wrote back to my GP to refer me to Maudsley. We didn't know this and had thought at the time that nothing was happening because we hadn't heard anything.

On to Asperger's, the social worker phoned the Autistic Society for me to find out about their services and what Asperger's is classed as. She came back after a while and said that they are only a phone service but have walk-in advisory centre local to us and was going to put it in her report to me next week. She had found out though that Asperger's is a Pervasive Development Disorder, so now my mum tells people I have a PDD. It sounds more serious that way.

Now it is back to more waiting. We feel that the Mental Health team we saw won't be seeing me again and it will be all down to going to the Autistic Society for help and support. Financially there is another avenue that might be happening soon. Watch this space...

Monday, 27 June 2011

Adults with autism

Here is an interesting fact I have read in the latest Healthy magazine. In a UK survey 600,000 (yes that thousands) adults have undiagnosed autism. It was suggested that in 13,000 household 1 per cent of older people had signs of social awkwardness (a sign of Asperger's). I am not surprised by this finding as I remember when I first went to my GP to try to get referred he said that lots of people have a variety of it. If I hadn't been made redundant last year then I would be one of those 600,000 but thankfully I'm not now I've been diagnosed and can get help.

It also mentioned that there is a focus more on children with autism rather than adults. I can believe this as I feel that it is easier to diagnose children with autism than adults. I first asked the GP for referral last September and got an assessment for diagnosis in March this year. It takes a long while for the process to go through as you have to get approval from your Primary Care Trust.

I found this little bit of news very interesting and inspiring. Inspiring because I have decided to do what a member of my crit group first said to me when I told her I had Asperger's - write about it. I have ideas for a few articles which I might target for disabled magazines or even healthy magazines. We shall see, so watch this space. On Thursday I have a meeting with a duty worker for an assessment, so shall blog about that on Friday. See you then.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Allie and libraries

I am cracking on with Allie now as I want to start resending her out to publishers and agents next week. I have decided to centre the headings because it looks much nicer like that and I think most children's books have the chapter headings like that. Also I am going to put a picture of a planet above the headings because I think it will look more engaging to read. I am catching up with myself though as I have only 2 chapters left that I've revised that need typing up and only half way through the book. Plan to do 2 more chapters this afternoon as well as reading through Sammi story. I have added more magic to the story by making her jumper glow when she passes her tests but need to read through the book again to make sure that I have this all the time, which I don't think I have.

Had another library meeting on Thursday and again quite successful. V keen to help me promote my books in there so that it can promote them too. Said they want to do themes now and then and healthy living can be one of them. Gave them posters of Rosie and of my new blog to post, which they said will put up with the Summer Reading posters. Hopefully will get some interest. They did try to get hold of the people who are holding the local arts festival to see if I can have a table there to sell my book but no luck as they were busy so said they'd email me with news, so wait for that. Next stop on 2nd July is Grove Park library. All three libraries are now run by EcoComputer Systems and I do want to get involved with them. We shall see.

Tomorrow will be result of paper throwing away and what comes in so watch Naturally Greeny.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Library meeting

Yesterday I had a meeting with a local library manager at a library that has recently been taken over by an Eco company. I wanted to do work both as an author and as a volunteer and this is what we talked about. I said I wanted to do occasional work with children as a children's author which she noted and as a volunteer. I mentioned the chatterbooks groups which is run by the Reading Agency, and she said she'll get in touch with them to find out what needs to be done and how it's run, as I said I wanted to work with chatterbooks groups of 8-12 y-olds as I've had experience with them. She will get back to me once she's spoken to them. Also about volunteering she is keen for me to work there. I gave her posters and cards promoting my book and my new blog and she said there's no problem advertising them and could help me out more with this as she knew people in advertising and would talk to them how to advertise my work and let me know what they say and when she will be promoting it in the library. Said it was unfair on me if she put it up without my knowledge and I thought this was so nice. I mentioned about linking with schools and she said that again she could help me on this as she had spoken to a teacher and would I like her to mention me to her and see what she said. I said yes please. Any mention that could help me would be great, I thought. It was back to talking about volunteering again. She is going to email me a form to complete, which I will do when I get it and take it back there. Also she said that there is a thing called time banking when you volunteer where you clock up hours volunteering and the hours you earn you can use up paying for something you need to pay for eg if I wanted to rent out their room for author events, I could exchange hours for payment. I thought this is a good idea and can't wait to start as I have a few ideas on how to get children working and involved in creative writing and arts already. Something I have to mention to her tomorrow when I phone her.

All in all it was successful esp I as met with the man who has taken over the libraries himself. A v busy and friendly man and I admire him for what he wants to do. He wants to raise money to put solar panels on the library and put in a cafe like his other library I have seen. Make it more community minded, which is good. I really am looking forward to working there. I want to work as an author in his other libraries and have yet to speak to people, which I will do tomorrow. So watch this space....

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Allie and Georgina

Well, where am I with these? I have just added more description and emotion to chapter 12 of Allie and checked another chapter of Georgina. I want to read through chapter 3 of Allie too later because I don't think I have put the walls turning blue when her magic works and need to be consistent with that as I plan to write to more agents and publishers next week. Now that I have started with revision to Allie again (there was a few days break after the retreat) I feel I am now on a roll and want to get to the end as I am enjoying adding description and emotion and shimmering walls and floors. I shall do all this in Georgina in the next draft, for now I am reading through adding more magical things to it. But when I start the next draft I have to write down descriptions of all the characters in it, so I know what to put when I come to them in the writing.

Speaking of agents. I have had a couple more rejections. One agent no longer does childrens' submissions as the agent that did works elsewhere, a publisher said they didn't think it was strong enough for the competitive market (it might be now with the changes) and the other was a standard rejection. One more publisher to reply to me though, but other agents to send to in mind, inc one publisher. Shall let you know what I will do and what I find out later on. Watch this space...

Monday, 6 June 2011

May news

Well, May got off to a v good start. I had a letter published in Amateur Gardening magazine, winning me a prize of a £5 garden voucher. My mum gave me the money for that, and she used the voucher at our local garden centre buying some flowers for our front garden. Then later in the month I found out that a romantic short story had been accepted for a new forthcoming website for short stories, which pays half to the author and half to a charity. I shall keep you informed when this website comes live.

Also in May I went to a workshop and discovered a new way to revise your work - with highlighters. You highlight different parts of your work in different colours, say I use red for emotion and pink for dialogue. I have found this v useful so far in revising Allie, and seeing what I have put too much of and what I need to add (normally emotion and description), and amend accordingly. Because I do this now, whenever I read a book, I am analysing it saying to myself, that's emotion, that's action etc... Then at the end of May I went to a retreat for the first time, and had a wonderful and productive time. The last 2 posts are all about what I learnt and did there.

I shall try to put my June news at the end of this month, and I do have some news already, which I have put on Facebook. Success so far. Next post will be about Allie and Georgina.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Retreat Day 2 & 3

On the Saturday, the second day, the first session was writing time. Now I don't normally write in the morning but at lunch time, but I think because I had already worked out what I wanted to work on over the weekend (description) I knew what I wanted to do and I did it. I worked on 2 chapters of Allie over an hour and a half, writing descriptions of Allie, her friends and teachers. Then describing the magic the school can do - shimmering walls and floors and bins. Had great fun doing that. Then it was coffee, and I had herbal tea, then it was Candy talking about exposition. What it is (explanation), and ways of how to turn it into story. We learnt that a story is designed to interest and amuse, it's never about you but your audience. How to unfold and set-up and reveal in the story. The different acts in the story - act 1 is to pose a question that'll keep the reader reading. How you pose it is the craft of the story. Act 2 is tension risiing. High point of story, and the rug-pulling momement, the climax. How you reveal the answers is the secret to taming exposition, which is story in the wrong place. So you have to find out where the right place is. Act 3 is the inevitable and unexpected. Give the audience what it wants but not the way they expect it.
Then she gave us exercises which we all wrote down. One of them I used later on in a second writing session: Description into action. Where you describe something by either action, reaction or sensation. I am now describing things with feelings or reaction from Allie in the way of questions. There were other exercises such as Rules of Magic, The world's flat.
Then she gave us a check list of things to think about when you have done the first draft. What do you want to say? Is something happening? Do we need to know this now? (is there a better place later on) Are my characters explaining their world? were some.
During this talk I made several notes to change things in Allie later on, which I did and will still do in later chapters.

We had lunch, then came a talk by author Tommy Donbavand, who is really funny. He talked about how horror came into his life at the age of 12 reading a horror book which scared him to bits. How he came to be a clown, then an actor then realising he could entertain children he started writing children's book about a spooky street, which has been v successful. Then came the fun stuff. One of his main characters is a girl mummy, and he got 2 teams of 3 up the front, and 2 people had to wrap the other in toilet paper like a mummy in one minute. What a laugh.

After that was more writing time and I got another 2 chapters revised. Then dinner and socialising. I didn't sleep well and I never do in a strange place.

Sunday we had more writing time, then a talk by Janetta Otter-Barry of Frances Lincoln Books. She talked about what books they do from pre-school to teens, showing us slides of what they were like. She answered questions, and yes she'd like to see middle-grade with magical elements (that was from me). She had lots of her books there, and I bought 4 in the end. I asked her later on if she'd be interested in what I was writing and she said yes. So once I am happy with the first 3 chapters of Allie I will send it to her.
Lunch was next with a nice roast chicken and more writing time and another 2 chapters revised. Not everyone stayed until the end but I did to get more writing done. All in all I got 8 chapters revised over the weekend, and now I need to keep the momentum up. More writing tomorrow I think, well typing up what I've revised anyway.

I had a great time and love the combination of talks, socialising and writing time. It was very productive for me. Thanks Sue.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Writers' Retreat 2011

Last weekend I went to my first Writers' Retreat in a place called Dunford House in W Sussex, in the heart of the country surrouded by woodlands. For those who don't know a retreat is a combination of talks and time to write, and boy I wrote lots.
The first talk was on the Friday evening about marketing headed by Nick Cross. He talked about what marketing is, what marketing you can do and what works. There are two different sorts of marketing: above the line, which is usually tv and radio etc and more generalised and broadcast, and below the line, which is targeted like Twitter, FB, websites. It was said that these two are fast becoming one now.
Next question was how much publicity does a publisher do? Tommy Donbavand said that in his experience if your publisher sees you do most of the legwork to get publicised then they will chip in.
Then it came to media. Youtube is more for teens and your book and video have to be very good to get up to the top ranks, esp if you have a common name. Candy Gourlay said that she feels that websites are better than trailers esp for middle-grade as that age look at websites more.
Then it went onto public appearances. It was mentioned that the school library services are crying out for authors, which you approach through authorities (I might have a look into that although my authority had told me before that I have to approach schools myself). As to visits to other places, people do think that authors are in contest with each other, so like to have authors in panels.
It went back to media again and blogs. It was said that group blogs are the thing now and the way forward, which I like as I belong to a group blog which I submit to. I made a note of a name of one which is all about fantasy. Candy said that her prepublished blog helped her get a publisher, and this was raised later that people out there do look at what you are writing on the web with blogs and websites, so keep it professional (Julie do check spelling here, and sort out your website). You need a creative edge to have voice and be a good author. Make yourself look approachable and interesting. (I made a note here to add a page to my site).
Amazon - review of this, and put that you are 'Author of....'. When your book is out Tweet and FB. Timing is of the essence ast they say.
Platform is the audiene you build before you are published. Your message is echoed, not your sales.
By the end it was 10pm and I was tired out and so ready for my bed.

I shall blog tomorrow about the rest of the retreat.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

The Writing Life

This week I have been out and about listening to talks and critiques. On Tuesday night I went to a Professional Series talk by Nicolette Jones, reviewer of children's book for the Sunday Times. She says that she finds it hard to get her weekly column published at times because people don't think writing for children is as worthy as writing for adults. This was totally agreed with by the audience when someone mentioned that they'd been asked when they were going to write a real book after saying they write for children. Grrr. Nicolette receives lots of books but only has 4 slots to write so can't review them all, and she always ends up praising so there is no space for hostility. She says that she has H Potter books to thank for making editors realise that children's books can be worthy of reviewing and interesting. The internet has expanded the chance to recommend children's fiction but on the other hand so many blogs and review sites are running that it could put paper critics in jeopardy. Cross-over books are hard to review as don't know who should review them - children or adult book reviewer. And the snag is where to put them in shops. Although in Australia they have sections for 15-25 y-olds. Booksellers should find ways to put them in the right place. Puffin is putting out books with penguin on spine for children of 15 upwards.
She said that in an ideal world, there should be blogs that let you know what books are coming out, like they do films. Candy said that paper reviews generated more interest in her book than online ones.
When asked Nicolette thought that publishers aren't overpublishing children's books as there are fewer picture books being published but that is being rectified with the Big Picture Campaign. She likes Indies and thinks that bookshops should have a broader stock, and likes to see people in chains showing real interest and expertise with children's books. Doesn't want blackmail to get your book reviewed by her. Looks at most of the books she's sent but can't do all of them. Suggests that you start your book strong, so reader wants to read more and is interested in reading more.
Believes that hype with books doesn't work all the time. But if you can excite her with your work and make her laugh, she will read on. Has read self-published books which have to be on Amazon, but doens't recommend this route unless you have sold lots and then can go to an agent or publisher with them saying this - this has happened.
Very fond of children's poetry, which is popular in schools and Miriam said best to start with magazines then into anthologies as this has more child appeal.
She has a fantasy of having a best and worst book column. Says lots of boys do read, and others need to read, some don't admit reading but read magazines etc. Thin, snappy books are ideal for these boys. Believes that some books are packaged wrong eg the target is for boys but the cover is designed with girls in mind.
It was brought up about prizes for series fiction. Nicolette thought that she wasn't keen on this as this is tricky when there is a series of books that are written by different authors but seen to be by one.
She would like to see a children's TV programme on books/prizes and inspirations behind books. A channel that would make families believe that reading books is a part of family life.
She finished saying that literary editors have to do books with interesting angles, and Nicolette unless it is news worthy, and most commercial books aren't.

Then on Wednesday I had my second crit group meeting. There were only 3 of us this time so it went quicker. It was mentioned they like my book and feel that is child friendly as Tanya said that most children's books she has read the children try to work things out on their own instead of going to adults whereas mine, Georgina talks to her teachers and family. Kathryne likes the ideas of having magical powers about passions, so I was well chuffed about, of course there were lots of other comments that I have to work on and will do later on. They liked the idea of rooms and walls shimmering when Georgina does her magic so I will def put that in next time. Can't wait for the next group meeting.
I was due to go to a talk today but not feeling well so here I am instead.

Next time will let you know how Georgina is getting on and more news.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

SCBWI Masterclass

On Saturday I went to a SCBWI Masterclass called The Revision Game led by Sara Grant, who works for Working Partners and is an author too, her book Dark Parties is out later this year, and I can't wait to read it.

Before we even went to the workshop, Sara set us homework. She asked us to write about why we are writing the novel we are, what is keeping us interested in it, the premise of it, its controlling idea, a one-line and paragraph pitch, and a movie pitch (which I found hard to work out). I found this really good to do and will do this for each of my future novels in time to come. It helps you to work out what your book is all about and how you can pitch it to everyone.

Here is what I learnt at the workshop. Do macro editing first before the nitty gritting of checking spelling etc. Write the blurb and controlling idea etc first - I will do.

Then we got to writing about our novels - we had to take copies of the first 2 chapters with us. Going through them we had to write: the actions, the importance of the chapter, the length of the chapter and the timeline to each one.

Then Sara said that she had heard that 10% of a novel should read as the who, what, when and where and the other 90% be the how. The journey of the hero/heroine should be shown by the first 10 pages.
The beginning of the novel should be connected to the climax, and the climax should be in by 85-90% of the novel. Does the climax inc the best character? Is the climax making the point you want to make of the novel? Does it reveal points you want to make about the novel to the reader? (Here I made a note to change something in my book Georgina).

Then wordcloud was mentioned. I don't think I will be doing this unless I have time for procrastination.

Then it was work time. We got our highlighters and pencils out. Sara circles her characters' names and then goes through them asking, do the sound the same and look the same? Eg do they have the same colour eyes the whole way through. Ask yourself why do the need to be there? Why are they important? Are they compelling? Write down a list of what you learn about the characters in 2 pages. Is it enough for the reader to continue reading about them>

What is the emotional story of the character?

Highlighting time - we had to highlight different aspects of the novel eg. green for setting and description, pink for dialogue, box each scene, circle names, purple for flashback/background etc. I found this very useful and have decided to do this for all my other novels before I even get to revision and have one draft. For Georgina I am going to do all my revisions than do this.
You then need to ask yourselves, do the scenes build on each other? Are they changing? Do they push forward the theme and story?
You should start scene at first poss moment and end early as poss. Don't give info but experience. Are you orienting your reader to each scene? Is there enough action? (You can find this out once you have highlighted these bits).
You must have good reason to use flashback.
Does your chapter endings leave the reader thinking? Do they have a cliff hanger? Give the reader a question?
Try to leave out bits that readers skip? I think this means the exposition, which I found out means bits telling the story. Let the reader connect the dots.
Don't say that he/she is starting something, make them do it.

Oh and one thing I did learn which has bugged me for ages - the difference between lie and lay. These I found out are Sara's common mistakes. Lie is for person and lay is for object, so you lie down on the bed, and you lay the table.

All in all, I really enjoyed the day and learnt lots, despite having a stomach upset during the day. Thanks Sara.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

April News

I can't believe that it's May already. Where does the time go?

Here is my news for April now it's May. I had a letter published in the local paper South London Press praising Lambeth council for making recycling compulsory for their residents. I wish it was the same for all councils. No payment for that. Then yesterday I got a letter from Amateur Gardening magazine to say that my letter will be printed in the next issue out on Tuesday and I won a £5 National Garden voucher. Took Mum over to the local garden centre earlier and she bought some flowers to put in the front garden with the voucher and gave me the money in exchange. Those are my successes for April.

On another writing front, I had my first critique group meeting on Wednesday and it was great. It is so helpful to have other people look at your work because you are so close to it when working on it that you can't see problems that other people can. I found this out and now have a lot more drafts to work on for Georgina. I think it will end up more like 35,000 words than 32,000 that it's now heading for. Was told by the group that it doesn't matter. I have decided to describe the classrooms and teachers more, just like Harry Potter (which I have been reading and thoroughly enjoying). This was one of the things that came up about my first three chapters, that I need to be more visual. I will now. I think I am going to have fun describing the rooms and teachers. Haven't thought about what the teachers look like yet apart from the Headmistress Mrs Zabberwol, she is stern normally but friendly and helpful to the girls when she is needed. Our next meeting is on 18 May and we'll be meeting at the National Theatre. Can't wait.

Will be buying Amateur Gardening on Tuesday for my letter.

Monday, 25 April 2011

Recycling coaching buddy

I went out for a meal with my friend Heather last Thursday at a local Chinese (mainly a takeaway so not nice and won't go there again). Anyway over the meal we got talking about things and I asked Heather if she would become my coaching buddy for when I start up my business. She said she'd be honoured. A coaching buddy is someone who encourages you when you feel down and rejected and cheers you on when you have something good to say or have just had something published. They help you along the way with smiles and happiness. I was so pleased. I then told Heather about my idea of a business plan and she said it was a very good one as I am passionate about recycling, and it turns out so is she. She lives in borough of Bromley where residents can recycle a lot of different plastics at home rather then take them to a recycling bank. I am so envious. I was so pleased to hear that she recycles a lot, even bringing it back from holidays. She is up for helping me with my idea and will let her know how I am going as I go along. Today I started working on my business plan, drafting out what I want my business to do for people and how I see it coming along in the near future. Next to work on is costs, competitors and suppliers.

Be back later in the week with how I am getting on with revisions for Georgina. Probably after Wednesday when I've met my crit group for the first time.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

London Book Fair

Well, on Wednesday I made my way on my own (something I've not done before) to the London Book Fair at Earl's Court. My was it big or what. It was held in both courts but the children's publishing was in no 1. Of course, trust me, I went in the wrong entrance and ended up walking round and round trying to find the room for the first talk. I managed to get there just in time before it started and got a seat at the front. It was a talk about school libraries with a panel of the school librarian of 2010, Gillian Harris, who helped Alan Gibbons with the Campaign for the Book, and authors Francesca Simon (Horrid Henry fame) and MG Harris (Joshua Files fame). The general gist I got is that school libraries should be a safe, fun, welcoming, educational and creative place for pupils to go to and value books. MG Harris said that she'd been in a library where the library was like a cupboard or a small room with mainly computers in. School libraries can only be creative with a creative librarian but this is difficult as it costs money and in this economic climate, well... After that talk I got talking to a librarian from Suffolk who mentioned that she was planning to do author events with her groups of primary and secondary pupils and would I be interested. I wasn't sure and said it could be challenging. I gave her my card and don't know if I hear from her. I now know that I need to expand my repertoire of talks/workshops. Have been thinking of this. Then I made my way back downstairs to the toilet (didn't have time when I arrived) and to the next talk which was a chat with Anthony Browne and Lauren Child. They were asked questions by Nicolette Jones. They both like each others' work as they are so different with Anthony working with pad and pencils and Lauren on computer. Lauren's work is minimalist and Anthony as a lot of detail in his. Anthony was inspired to draw by surrealism paintings and Lauren by house arrangements like Habitat. Lauren is inspired by TV as she watches more whereas Anthony is inspired by movies as he went every week as a child. Lauen said that what she draws is everything to do with her whereas Anthony said the voice of the author is just as important as the illustrator. Neither intended to be illustrators to start with but Lauren said she applied to do illustration at college, but didn't work out so went for something else. Then she saw Edward Scissorhands and got interested in film. Drew something and gave it a friend's mother who was in fashion and got a reply that she should draw and write. She did Clarice Bean to stop her imitating others. Anthony did graphic design as he wanted to be a painter. Then he became a medical illustrator and drew a picture book, which part of was taken to be his first book about a magic mirror. Lauren tries not to think about her audience as it interferes with her judgement of her work. She only draws things that she loves. She keeps her eye on the market and said that you have to understand what publishers want. If you look about too much you could get too intimated so take a moment to think and your chance may come. Anthony had no sense of market just painted then did it. Said don't aim your work at anyone if you want to try to please someone as you may get lost what you want to do. Lauren writes what she thinks is funny and Anthony does what comes out. Lauren said let go of listening to everyone and be yourself, unless you get a comment the same from a few people and you know you are going wrong. Don't study the market too much. Go on what you feel is right and don't take on all that has been said to you. Anthony said that he was influenced by surrealism, read others books and saw what was being read and knew what was needed. So gist of what they say is never compromise your work if it makes you unhappy and be true to yourself and your instincts. I had lunch then and wandered round and round up and down the children's section before going to the other court to listen to Julia Donaldson and Axel Shaffler talk about their partnership. I couldn't see them that well as it was crowded and I had to sit on a chair at the side. All in all a good but tiring day. Now I know what to expect I can plan better next time.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Undiscovered Voices 2012 launch

On Tuesday night I went to the SCBWI-BI anthology launch, where they had a panel of agents, editors, bookseller and literary scout. To put the panel at ease Sara O'Connor asked them a set of fun questions which included favourite childhood book ( this ranged from Goodnight Mr Tom to the Little Wooden Horse), recommended books (Graveyard Book and Julia Churchill said to read broadly). Then more serious questions such as what are you looking for. Now here was where I seriously made notes. Rachel Boden of Egmont doesn't want straight history or high fantasy (Tolkien), but does want 8-10 y/o boys and girls adventures, with humour. Survival stories (Dsytopia) and learning to survive in life. Dagmar, the literary scout said the same, but doesn't want humour like Horrid Henry Amber Caraveo of Orion said no high fantasy, and there is a gap for middle-grade adventure, and they want YA still as they had just started a new YA imprint called Indigo. Then asked what makes books stand out for them. Rachel said good characters (can't read what I put), when you read it you want to be on the journey with the character. Writing that hooks you. Strong voice that draws you in. Plots that stand out and has hook. Catherine Pellegrino said, good voice and character, writing that stands out. Then what are the author pitfalls. Jasmine Richards of OUP said a slow start. If not interested by page 10 then won't be. You've got to show what you've got as writter, and give the best shot at what you write. Ideas done before and aren't fresh. Jenny Savill said too many words or not enough, and not right words. Mss that has actions starting on page 3, too little sense what story is about, has to be told in an interesting way. Julia said entering scene too later or too early. Ie no alarm clocks or having breakfast. Show don't tell. Then it went online and they were asked what they meant by high fantasy - goblins, wizards and quests etc. I sighed with relief as I deem Allie low fantasy. Then it was to the bar. I went all brave (considering I have Asperger's and find it hard to communicate and socialise) and asked Rachel if she'd be interested in a low fantasy. She asked me what I wrote and I told her and she said yes. I gave her my card and she said that she'd mention my novel to her colleague whom I said I'd send it to. Then I went in search of Amber and I said the same thing with what the premise of my story was, and she replied the same to send it to her, so that is what I am going to do today. It's all printed out ready to be put in an envelope. So that was Tuesday evening and I came home on a high having spoken to 2 publishers who said send me my ms. It's a shame I can't enter the anthology as I am already published. It is a great chance for anyone not published to do so.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

March news

I can't believe April is here already, where did those months go that I've been out of work? Anyway I had my fair share of sucesses and rejections in March. At the beginning of the month I had letter of the month in Green Parent magazine and have still yet to receive the prize of a set of JASON toiletries. Then last Sunday I got an email from the editor of a children's ezine whom I sent a story to in Feb and hadn't heard about it. I was nearly giving up on it when I got the email to say that she was accepting it and wanted to publish it in the January 2012 issue. I shouted yes. I was so pleased. I get the contract a month before and payment goes in via Paypal 10 days after she receives the contract. I can't wait for it to go out there in public. It is the story of a boy who finds a button that looks like a clock and turns back time to make the boy see the error of his ways. It's called 'The Clock Button - The Chosen One'. I think I will write more stories about this button. The rejections were from the agent I met last year. She rejected Allie saying that although she likes it and thinks the story and Allie is stronger than before she doesn't think she can sell it within the competitive market. The other rejection was for an adult short story. I am not giving up on these two and have already sent Allie to other agents and will send the story to other magazines and see what happens. From now on I will be doing a monthly newsletter here with all my successes and failures.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Vitality Show Part 2

Well after we had lunch, we wandered round and bought a few natural products, then we headed back to the stage we were at before to listen to a life coach give a talk about making changes to your life. Her name is Louise Presley-Turner and has been a life coach for some years. Her job is to help people apsire to live their dreams and achieve their goals in life. First she asked us several questions which were: 1. Did you have a childhood dream and what was it? I couldn't think of one. 2. I can't remember what this was but I had wrote down, comes easy and writing about my interests. 3. What do you like doing in your spare time? Read. 4. What are your passions in life? Green/environment, natural health and beauty 5. If you had no limits with time or money what would you do? I put travel to write. 6. What is your long-lost dream you've had the last few years? Mine is to write full-time. 7. Is there something missing in your life? I put purpose. At the moment I feel as though I am just plodding on with my life writing what I want with no purpose. 8,. What have you either/seen heard that sparked interest recently? I didn't know then but now I think about it, it's being zero waste and how to do it. 9. What is your goal? To become a known author. 10. What is your goal to change your life? To get known for what I write and with help to promote myself. This is an exercise from her book The Game of Life. Then she talked about some of her clients and how she helped them reach out to achieve their dreams and goals. Then she gave us rules about our goal (again in her book). Rule 1:When you set your goal, it has to make you shout yes, want to tell people and make you scared about it. Rule 2:Needs to be achievable. If you set it for say 3 years time, bring it nearer to you. Rule 3: Be measurable. You can visualise it happening and what it'll be like when it does. Rule 4:Have to be committed to it. Rule 5:Has to be your goal and make you happier. Again this is from her book, which I bought and am reading through it doing the exercises. After that we wandered round and bought a couple of goodies, and I met the editor of a magazine that I'd sent a letter to. But although I'd told her I'd sent a letter and what I do, I didn't introduce myself and give her my card, which I had with me. Shall have to email her now. All in all I had a good time, which was tiring, found out I needed to get my BMI down and listened to inspiring talks that have made me think about changing my life. Can't wait to go next year.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Vitality Show Part 1

Last Friday my mum and I did our annual trip to the Vitality Show at Earl's Court. After refreshing ourselves and getting a map of the court, our first port of call was to the Rosemary Conley stand where they can weigh you for your body fat etc. Now I know that I have put on weight since last year due to not exercising as much as then but I was shocked to find out what I did. Because my weight has gone up, so has everything else bodywise, esp my BMI. My BMI is now just over the top of what it should be so I need to exercise more and am trying hard to do so as I don't want to go overweight. The amount of calories I have to eat to keep a steady weight has also gone up. After that I bought an exercise DVD and pedometer (which I have yet to get ready to use). Then we found our way to another area where I listened to a talk by a man called John Whiteman, who is a life coach. He talked about being happy and living your dream and how to do it. There are 3 main elements to do this: Balance, Momentum and Presence, and in those are 9 elements to work on. They are: Balance: Exercise. If you exercise you'll feel more energetic and so will all around you. I know I felt like that earlier after doing 40 mins of exercise. Personal space: Make sure you give yourself some me time and just be. Sleep : Sleep well and you will feel better. I know I do when I sleep so much better than other nights Nutrition: If you put in good food then you will feel good, but feed yourself junk food and you will feel bad. I can attest to this as on Saturday I ate half a bar of dark choc and afterwards I felt really low and down, it didn't help feeling v tired and I ended up feeling sorry for myself. So now I shall feed myself good fodd most of the time with a treat now and then. Environment: If you work with nice people you work better but if you work with people that are horrible, then you will feel that way too and stressed. I know a lot about this as a colleague I worked with was not nice and her attitude stressed both myself and our supervisor. Momentum: Achieve things and complete them. Learn new things every day and get some social connection. All will give you momentum and keep you going. Presence: Concentrate on the here and now. Focus on what you are doing or listening to and don't wander off to other thoughts. Focus on your feelings and senses. I found this talk quite inspiring and it has made me think what I need to do to be calmer in my life. Next time I will talk about another life coach talk and how she has inpsired me.

Sunday, 20 March 2011


Yesterday I went to the RNA chapter meeting in Holborn and Jean Fullerton (Hi Jean) did a round table discussion about getting publicity for your novel. I won't get into details I just want to mention one thing that was said and what I mean. It was said that you need to get an angle or hook to your novel to get more publicity, and by this I took they meant a theme to your book. Now this is where I talk about a meeting I had on Wednesday to discuss publicity for Rosie. (Yes, I'm still promoting it).

It started when I saw an advert for a healthy eating progamme being run locally and Ithought, hey this is a good opportunity to get it out there again. So I phoned up and the lady was interested and she mentioned another centre that could be interested. To cut it short, I emailed the lady and for some reason she didn't get my reply but I emailed the company she mentioned. The man who runs it, Darren Taylor, got in contact with me and we had a meeting on Wednesday. I was very interested in what he does. He owns a company that collects old computers from companies, fixes them up (a team does this) and sells them onto poor people who can'f afford brand new ones. He also helps unemployed people start up as businesses or social enterprises. And this is what he mentioned to me about doing. He was very interested in hearing what I did and write, seeing as it is all about healthy eating and green issues, both which his centre is interested in. One of the ladies there runs home green workshops, and Darren mentioend that I should contact the lady again about the healthy eating programme, who is actually is fiancee. He also mentioned about coming involved with them, maybe volunteering at first then doing talks etc about what I write about. I am thinking about it. I have already contacted his fiancee but not heard anything so maybe phone her tomorrow to see if she did get my email. I am very interested in what they do as it is something that I am passionate about too. What did interest me is that he said he has put in a bid to save the libraries, and if he takes over then he wants to put solar panels on the roofs, and make the staff inside recycle, reduce and reuse more, with green activities and more activities. I so applaud what he wants to do for the community. I am seriously thinking about joining in and having another meeting with him to see what I can do to help, it will raise my profile. Another thing they do is have fairs, where I can sell my books. So we shall see. Watch this space.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Another success

My writing seems to come along very well these days as I had another letter published last week, this time in The Green Parent mag. It was letter of the month and I win some JASON natural toiletries. This rate I won't need to buy anything for myself for the next couple of years! The letter is all about praising a group of schoolchildren who wrote to Yeo Valley asking them to make their yoghurt pots recycleable and I said if they can do so can we as it will make the country more greener. Recycling plastics is one of my passions at the moment and anything that can be recycleable I make sure, at home or at Sainsbury's. I have registered the letter with the ALCS.

I am still hard at work on Georgina, creating more magic, and this afternoon I think I will be making the art teacher do something bad, as his lesson comes into it now. I am also working on a poem for a competition, and have sent another off for another competition. I don't normally write poetry but these days it seems to come to me just like that and feels right. I need another verse or two on the one I'm working on. I also want to start writing a story for another competition, which will be connected to the last children's short story competition that I won in 2005. Have jotted down lots of notes on that one and start later on.

That's my news on writing so far. Maybe next time will be about Asperger's again, if I hear from my GP.

Friday, 11 March 2011

And the diagnosis is...

I do have Asperger's syndrome. I had the assessment on Wednesday, which with a break for lunch, took 2 and a half hours. First I was interviewed by the dr about why I wanted the assessment, then about my family background. Then my mum was taken to another room by the researcher to be asked about my childhood, whilst I was questioned by the dr about that too. I remembered a few things about my childhood, the main one being that as a child I couldn't make friends easily, I rather tagged along with others and went along with what they did. Also I invited other children to my house but never went to theirs. Then I was asked about employment and how I coped with that, so told them about that. And that I was now much calmer and less stressed being at home than at work. They said that I'd get the diagnosis if what my mum said matched what I said, and thankfully most of it did. So they said yes, I do have Asperger's. They told me that they'd be writing to my GP with lots of recommendations for me to see various specialists and teams to have assessments locally to find out what can be done for me locally. The recommendations are for me to see the local mental health team, possibly a cognitive behavourial therapist, an occupational therapist, a clinical geneticist (it's possible that it's genetic and comes from my dad), and contact the National Autistic Society. Also to see a social worker to find out what sort of benefits I can get now I've been diagnosed. At the moment I don't get any money coming in as my job seeker's allowance has stopped and I am not entitled to anything due to having enough savings. So I wait to hear from the GP, and once I do I will make an appointment. A couple of other things cropped up that I may have. I could have Generalised Anxiety Disorder as I do worry and get anxious a lot. Also, my hole-in-the-heart and my female organ problems can be related as I could have a missing chromosome, maybe again due to my dad, I don't know. I think that's why I had a blood test after it all. It wasn't too bad, and the man must've done a very good job as I don't have a bruise just a small red dot where it happened.

So now to wait to see what happens next. Watch this space...

Friday, 4 March 2011

How to give a reading talk

Yesterday I went all the way to South Kensington to the Society of Authors office to hear a talk about how to give a reading, and learnt a lot. Here is what I learnt (from my notes):

If you are a member of the Society of Authors, read the check list for events at the back of the survey before you have an event.

Preparation: When you are giving a reading, always make sure it's agreed the length of time to read. If you feel that it's too long for you, then you can suggest that some of the time, the end, can be made up of questions. It is important that the length of your talk is decided and stick to it.
Access to the venue - Find out what time you can get there. Here I put my hand up and said that I usually do a trial run to a place I've not been to before to find out where it is and how long it takes to get there. When you get there, sort out the mic, a lectern if using one. When you give your talk/reading don''t have your back to a window as it puts you in the shade, and don't have your back to a mirror as the audience can start doing funny things behind your back if they get bored. If you are writing on a flipchart, write, stop then talk.

How to choose what to read:- It depends on the event, and what the organiser asks for. You can have a theme to your talk, or a route map of what you're going to read. Eg my book is about healthy eating, so I will target children and any healthy living programmes going. It is best to choose several extracts to read rather than a whole chapter as it will be more interesting. So read an extract chat about what inspired you to write it, read another extract etc... To make it easier for you, cut and paste your extracts from your ms into the talk document. And practice. Practice gives you confidence, makes you see the difficulty of any words and brings it to life.

Voice production - Be heard. Do relaxation and breathing exercises. We did there and had a giggle. And it gets rid of any tension in the body and releases energy. Be understood and project your voice clearly and have variety in your voice. If you have two characters speaking then give them different voices. Centre yourself when talking, and standing is better than sitting, as you can project your voice better. Be clear and give each word its weight and gives variety into your voice. Here is the 4 Ps Pitch, Pace (which words you want to stress), Pause (before and after words/sentences can emphasise it) and Power.

In the afternoon we all did a reading and most of us were nervous about it and it showed in our voices and stance. Then the speaker helped us make it better by telling and showing us how to improve our speech. Of course, I sped up my reading and knew it so in future I have to slow down.

Questions - if someone asks questions always repeat it. If no questions then say that 'a question I'm normally asked is...' Don't get caught with one person, if you do then try eye contact with another person in the audience, esp if they have their hand up, and you can get out that way. If you are caught in a conversation say that you can continue it after the talk. If you don't know what to say you can say interesting question, what does everyone else think?

To get expression in your voice, read nonsense poems by Loius Caroll.

All in all I had a good time. I gave out a few of my cards inc to the speaker and might be seeing another attendee later this month at the SCBWI social. I thought it was very useful esp as I plan to do lots of talks about my interests to other people in the near future.

Sunday, 27 February 2011


I finally completed Allie yesterday. Until I get any comments from Sue on the next chapter she sees then I won't be doing any more work on it. Until then I will start rewriting Georgina. First off will be revisions from the comments what I got from the conference crit night on Chapter One, then I will type and print that out. Then I will go back and put in the magical stuff I am keen to include, now I know that's what I like writing. Then put in magic in the rest of the book and make more of the art teacher like I did in Allie.

As well as that, I plan to carry on creating my ebook of short stories, and write tips and letters to more magazines, and write another story on Feathered Friends for Creature Features.

So am still a busy bee here.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Busy writing...

I am very near the end of working on Allie. Just a few more chapters to read through, and chapter 5 to delete a scene from and rework the scene after that from Sue's comments last week. Meanwhile, I have emailed the agent I saw last year with the first three chapters and synopsis now revised from when she saw it then. Says she remembers me and looks forward to reading it. It is also with the agent for the slushpile challenge, so that makes 2 agents looking at my work.

I am also working on other things. I am about to print a story off to send to Take a Break's Fiction Feast magazine. I read the column by a short story writer in the last Writer's Forum magazine about what she had read in one issue they had printed and how many words they were. One of the genres was just what I write - ghostly and fantasy, and she said that if you feel you have a story that will fit then send it off, so I am. I also have a story I want to send to a competition to sort out this week, plush I have been invited to blog on the SAS's blog ABBA (An Awfully Big Blog Adventure), so have to draft that, plus there is still my stories about feathered friends I see in the garden for Creature Feature, but might do that next week.

Oh, and I booked to go to the London Book Fair in April. I can't wait as it will be my first time, and maybe the last, I go there.

So busy bee I am right now.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Recycling round up

So what have you recycled and decluttered so far this year? Me a lot. From clothes to manuals for old computers. I have recycled a lot of paper, put more paper for reusage, given a charity shop clothes I've not worn, an air humidifier thing I've not used, lots of books. I've put lots of clothes and other recycleables in textile and recycling banks. And I still need to sort out a drawer full of stuff and file things away.

Also I have emailed the local council about recycling things at home and found out I can recycle the following: can labels, empty stamp books, jam jar lids (they can be removed in the recycling process).

I have also emailed Sainsbury's about my local branches recycling banks, esp their ones for mixed plastics. For 2 weeks running they were overflowing and had to stuff my things in to them or use another one. I got a result in the end. My comments have been forwarded to the store manager who will investigate with his team and make ensure that the bins are emptied regularly.

My next aim is to possibly email companies whose products I use to ask them what their containers are made of and how I can recycle them. Watch this space.