13,000 words into my new project and I’m starting to get to know my characters better. I heard David Mitchell speak once at a meet the author type event and he said one of the ways he gets to know his characters before he even writes a word is to write them letters, and get them to write to him. I chat to mine in my head, and sort of see the world through their eyes whilst I’m writing them, but it takes me a good chunk of writing them in before they properly take shape. Once they do, the story kind of takes off itself and I struggle to keep up, my typos getting more and more frequent. (I type with four fingers and the P on my keyboard doesn’t work very well. So it’s not great typing. I always promised myself I’d learn properly but never have – I’m fast, but sketchy as hell. And my four fingers get sore – a sort of keyboard hammering injury.) Once I’ve done that, I go back and read the beginning again once I know them better, and often things have changed, so big chunks get rewritten. But not until it’s all finished! It’s the bit of advice I read most often. FINISH IT FIRST. And I think it’s the best piece of advice I’ve ever been given.

Nice comments on the latest shortlist, which made me smile 🙂




Waiting is the Hardest Part

It’s a tricky one – on the one hand I want to savour life and live each moment and enjoy every second. On the other I want to fast forward it to get results! I’ve currently got 13 subs out there: a novel, a collection of short stories, a story to a magazine and the rest to competitions. I was really happy last week to hear I’ve got on the Grindstone flash fiction shortlist and will be published in their anthology. This makes me very happy! It makes my dream of being a fully fledged writing writer just a little more real when I get picked to be in an anthology. I call myself a writer all the time, but I still feel I am a writer-in-training.

How does one live with this balance? The only way is to forget you’re waiting for results, but this is hard as I am meticulous about keeping track of where my stories have gone. It’s the only part of life I’m organised about – the rest of it is a huge colourful chaotic blur – one that annoys me at times as it can be toooooo chaotic, but one that is also rich and fun and exciting. The writer me, the part that has a middle initial, my all important J, is incredibly organised, remembers everything, takes note of everything and keeps track. Which means I know exactly the dates when results are likely to be announced. I’d be better forgetting about it but how can I when the list sits by my computer, to spur me on and remind me how often  I’ve been published? I’m going to have to hide the list (which is in an out of date old Mslexia diary, my second, carried on in the blank page section when I ran out of room in the subs section). But if I hide the list, I’ll never see it again. Our house literally is that messy that things get lost FOREVER. So, losing my list, or having it sitting there…

Like I said, tricky.

I’ve been writing today since 9.45am. It’s been bliss. It’s now 2.45pm and I have to stop,  shower, bring myself back to reality and out of my characters’ heads, and go to pick up the children from school, cook dinner and do the activity run around. All the while not thinking about results…

Happy scribbling, wherever/whoever you are.

I’ve had this idea for years and years

Like many ideas, it’s grown and shrunk in proportion to my courage. I think many other writers in training, published writers, hobby writers have had this happen: you get an idea, you read a book someone else has written with the sameish idea which means you can’t write it because it’ll look like you copied it…

I decided to get this idea out into the world because I think it’s a) rather good and b) rather stubborn and c) I want to be first with it!

Morphic Resonance. Something my father used to talk about. Google it. It’s quite bonkers but there are examples of it all over the place…

Starting a new project means my last one is finished for now and being looked at by my mentor. This is really exciting – hopefully it’ll lead to me getting it published somehow and somewhere. If I self-publish, I know it’ll be the best it can possibly be, having been checked and edited by someone who knows their stuff. And if it stays on the back burner, it’ll be staying on the back burner in its best incarnation and is a collection of all my best stuff that’s mostly not been published anywhere else. I’ve loved working on it but am really happy to be doing something new, too.



A Drizzly Day

Which is fine by me because I can sit in my tiny officeporch, and write, look for places to submit, work on my collection, stop by ad hoc fiction’s weekly slot, flit around on twitter for a bit, dig out stories I’d thought I’d lost… I just found the very first piece of fiction I wrote that was accepted somewhere. It was called The Thinking Place, although the magazine changed the title to something I didn’t like. It was published in Feb 2008 in Take a Break’s Fiction Feast and I was paid £250! I was the most chuffed person ever. At the time I was travelling on the back of a motorbike with my now husband, then HTB. Anyway I want to add this story to my collection so I searched all my old e mail addresses and eventually found it. I read it as I’ve not read it for ages and I’d completely forgotten the ending, which I loved. I laughed out loud for surprising myself! Sometimes endings are hard – this is about my most favourite ever.

I bought myself a mentorship with Cornerstones for Christmas. My lovely mentor, Debz Hobbs-Wyatt is full of great advice and encouraging words. We’re working on my collection of short stories, half of which are a bit magical and half of which are mostly based in reality. I’m learning a lot already, two weeks into the mentorship. My goal at the end is to get it published as a stand alone collection – I know this will be difficult. If I can’t attract a publisher – even a  very very small one – I’ll self publish, but I’ll self publish knowing the collection is the best it can be and has had an expert eye passed over it.

Life continues to be extremely full, which is the way I write best. And nowadays, who isn’t busy? If I get over-busy though, I head to the sofa and read (though I can’t remember doing that since NY). At the mo all the reading I do is in bed before sleep.

This week I’ve heard I’ll be in the next Monkey Collection and for the next month I’ll be on tenterhooks with 10 submissions winging their way around cyberspace, hopefully getting somewhere.

And in other news, the P on my keyboard isn’t working very well. Makes writing on sites like Hour of Writes, where I only ever write ‘live’ on the site, very difficult! I usually manage 1700-the full 2000 words in the hour allotted. I never manage it typo-free, I often end up with something I wasn’t expecting. Sometimes it’s even quite good.

Shout out to all the fellow scribblers out there… keep those words coming…


A book launch, and other things…

Being asked to a book launch makes me feel like a writer. It makes me believe it just a little more. I’m not meant to say anything about it yet but it’s in Edinburgh, in a week and I am very excited, especially when I heard about one or two of the other authors who are going to be in the anthology. More soon.

I’m on the flash500 longlist which is great – even if it gets no further it’s a buzz simply getting that far.

And a new venture, The Monkey Collective is about to publish volume two of The Monkey Collection and I’m in it! It’s been an exciting time and, as I’ve had very little time to write recently, I’m extra specially pleased.

If I believe in a story and it gets rejected, I simply read it through again, perhaps tweak it, perhaps leave it as it is, and send it out to the big wide world again as soon as I can. This is the case with both the stories for flash500 and The Monkey Collective – I love both the stories and was always sad they’d never found their home.


Busyness and Publication

I’ve been busy. I’m always busy, but two weeks ago I got married and it was a large, three day wedding that needed a lot of work to make it happen. Fortunately I had lots of help but there has been a lot to do. It was wonderful – beginning on Friday night in our local and ending on Monday morning, when we put the stopper back in the single malt at 6.30 am, after a marathon putting the world to rights session with my brand new husband and my brother.

We got married on Sept 9th, 18 years to the day after our first date. Life went back to ‘normal’ on Monday, three days ago and I’ve spent every possible minute since then writing.

A couple of weeks ago I got the great news that I am in the Scottish Book Trust’s anthology again for this year. I’m not supposed to say anything just yet so I’ll keep it at that!

I’m currently polishing my novel for a competition that closes soon; I’m writing a piece for an anthology that I was in last year and would really like to be included in again; I’ve just entered Ad Hoc fiction’s wee weekly 150 word flash fiction comp and I’m thinking about an entry for Hour Of Writes. On Monday I went back to my writing group after a long absence and really enjoyed being back there. It’s great to be with like-minded people and spend two hours talking writing. I’m also collecting together all my published stories to put in a collection – I’m thinking about self-publishing them…

I’ve made a tiny office in what was our porch. It’s crammed with books and pictures but it’s a place mine all mine, a place my thoughts can go free. And when there’s a pause in my thoughts I watch birds on the honeysuckle just outside. This morning a robin, Mrs blackbird, eating fuschia seeds, two great tits picking green caterpillars off the cabbages, and a teeny wren, eyeing up the pretty spider that’s far too big for her on my window, spinning her web.