Tuesday, 4 December 2012

How to publish an ebook in a day

Last Saturday, I attended an amazing workshop on 'How to publish your ebook in a day' at the Writing School in Leicester. It was a very hands-on computer workshop using Sigil a freeware eformatting program and Calibre another freeware program, this time for ebook management. Fascinating stuff! As Calibre can send my work direct to Kindle, I'm hoping to download a short story to my Kindle to see how it looks in print. If it's ok, I'm hoping to publish it via Kindle Direct Publishing. My book 'Save The Last Dance For Me' may well follow.

I'm still working on the rewrite and hope to get it finished in the early part of 2013 but progress has been slow for a variety of reasons, too lengthy to relate here.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Update on novel rewrite

Way back in June, I posted about receiving a critique of my novel Save The Last Dance For Me from the Romantic Novelists Association under their New Writers Scheme. I mentioned that on the whole the critique was most encouraging but that the reader had suggested some fairly major modifications which would have thrown my carefully managed timeline. At that time, I didn't feel I could face up to yet another rewrite.

Now, though, after an interval of several months during which time, for various reasons, I didn't get much writing done at all, I've taken another look at the critique. I've listed all the modifications on a separate piece of paper and suddenly could see the sense in it. The upshot of this has been that I have started the rewrite and have so far written three new chapters and amended several others to fit in with the revised timeline. And it works! 

Any novice writer will tell you, and possibly some published writers, that at times one wonders if it is worthwhile carrying on and whether you really have got what it takes to succeed. I'm so thrilled that I decided to take another look at the critique and now feel that I have got my writing voice back in shape.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Tom Jones

My OH and I watched a small, intimate concert of Tom Jones on BBC4 a couple of weeks ago and really enjoyed the music. It was Tom in a refective mood. With maturity, his voice has taken on a deeper, velvety note entirely suited to the bluesy music he was singing. A couple of the songs were outstanding, namely 'Tower of Song' and 'Gotta be Me'. The outcome to our enjoyment was that we bought the CD. It's called 'Spirit in the Room' and it's fantastic. I would recommend this to anyone who likes the blues and/or Tom Jones. The two go well together.

Incidentally, I'm a longtime fan of Tom and have seen him in all sorts of venues.  Last time I saw him live was in the grounds of Chatsworth House a few years ago. If anything, I think he's more handsome now with grey hair and beard than he was then.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

J K Rowling's new novel

A couple of weeks ago, my OH came home with a present for me (he's like that!). It was J K Rowling's new novel, 'The Casual Vacancy'. For anyone who doesn't know, this is her first offering of an adult novel. Now that I've read it, what do I think of it?

Well, adult it certainly is, with mention of drug addiction, rape, domestic violence and self-harming among other themes. The swearing is frequent and explicit. Personally, I found the characters a pretty unsympathetic bunch though they do sort of redeem themselves somewhat towards the end. The only really sympathetic character dies in the first couple of pages, hence creating the Casual Vacancy on the local parish council, leading to much conflict in the town. Rowling's great strength is her portrayal of the teenagers in her novel. Perhaps she should consider a Young Adult novel next time?

Having said all that, it was an absorbing read and I enjoyed it. I love how she she builds up the story layer by layer - it was what I admired most about the Harry Potter novels. And yes, I read them all!

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Writing Workshop

This morning, I attended a writing workshop given by Joanna Fulford concerned with writing that essential first chapter and the pitch. Joanna writes for the Harlequin Historical Romance series for Mills and Boon so the the workshop was mainly geared towards writers wanting to write for Mills and Boon. And, with 7m worth of sales a year, that's a goal not to be sneered at! 

Having said that, what she had to say could definitely be applied to writing in whichever genre or publisher one is aiming for. I found writing the proposed pitch for an idea I'd only just come up very challenging and, having to write in just 100 words, definitely concentrated the mind!

Monday, 24 September 2012

Holiday Blues

It was the last day of our week's holiday in Northumberland, an area we both love. 'Let's make a day of it,' hubby had said, 'rather than going straight home.' The idea was to head towards Darlington then wend out way towards the East coast. Good idea in theory; shame it didn't work out as planned. The idea was to lunch in Recar except that it took longer than we thought so we stopped for lunch on the A68. Unfortunately, it took us nearly an hour to order, wait for our two toasted sandwiches, then eat them! Once on the A1(M), there was no exit southbound for Darlington (unless we missed it!) and we ended up driving through a couple of small villages before reaching the road round Darlington.

When we reached Redcar, the ticket machine at the beach car park wasn't working so we decided to head out of the town. However, there had been an accident further along the Promenade and we were diverted  into the centre of town. Being a reasonable sort of day, everywhere was busy and it took ages to find our way out of town. We consoled ourselves with the thought of a cup of tea at a log cabin cafe on the coast road at Sandsend only to find that double yellow lines now decorated the road where we had always parked before. The car park was full and although there was parking further long the road, it was too far to walk back.

By the time we reached Whitby further along the coast, it was 3.15 pm so we decided to write the plan off and head for home. After a much needed cuppa, of course! It was about 8 pm when we got home but we did stop for a carvery en route. Hubby's last words on the day were, 'If I get any more bright ideas, remind me of today!' Good job we can laugh about it!

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

RNA Birmingham Chapter Meeting

Last Saturday, I travelled to Birmingham to meet up with the Birmingham Chapter Meeting of the Romantic Novelists' Association. It's the first time I've been for over a year and I really enjoyed it. With ten of us, it was difficult to join in the conversation at the other end of the table but somehow we managed between us. The lunch wasn't without incident as I knocked my milk jug all over my tray and had to mop up what I could with napkins. Fortunately, my sandwiches were well wrapped and didn't suffer any damage. Then someone else knocked over a bottle (non alcoholic!) which soaked the trousers of our co-ordinator. More napkins needed to soak up the contents of the bottle.

I haven't been doing any writing for the past month or so having a lingering virus, plus I've been compiling a porfolio of the work I've been doing over the summer for a short course on 'Historic Landscapes' . Thankfully, that's now almost complete and hopefully I can get back to some productive writing. I'll hopefully have something more to add next time I post.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

A Eureka! moment

I had one of these the other day while watching a TV programme. It was a dramatised version of how Tony Warren, the Manchester lad who first thought up the idea of 'Coronation Street' overcame enormous obstacles to get his series shown on Granada TV. The Granada bosses shook their heads, 'No one,' they said, 'would want to watch a programme about Northern working class people. There's that accent, for a start.' Tony and his supporters (and there were a few) proved them wrong by showing the pilot show to the ordinary employees of Granada who, for the most part, enjoyed it. 

I have been told, too, that no-one wants to read about ordinary people's lives, which is mostly what my novel Save The Last Dance For Me is about. I do believe, like Tony Warren did, that they do, I think because they can relate to the story. Is this why 'Coronation Street' has been so successful for the past 52 years?

Incidentally, I learned that the series had originally been called 'Florizel Street'. That had to be changed when the Granada tea lady said that Florizel sounded like a disinfectant!

So, I've decided that I'm going to concentrate on small independent publishers, preferably in Lancashire, where my novel is set.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Romantic Writers' Conference 2012

I had a fantastic time at the Romantic Novelists Association Conference 2012 in Penrith, Cumbria, absorbing myself in the atmosphere, meeting published an unpublished authors, attending various workshops, chatting about writing, meeting and making new friends. I'm a moderate wine drinker but I was amused at the copious amounts of wine being drunk. Apparently the 'kitchen parties', where members of the shared accommodation meet late at night, drink even more wine, are legendary. Say it almost in a whisper for to admit it would be met with looks of horror, but there were only three of us sharing a student house and we were all most circumspect. Suited me though. Perhaps it's my age.

The Conference is noted too for its display of shoes, the more exotic the better.  Lamentably, I can no longer wear high heels so in that respect I am a disgrace to the Association. Despite a nightmarish trip up to Penrith (necessitating three changes), I wouldn't have missed it for anything. I came away so inspired, encouraged and motivated, all fired up to get back to the writing. What happened? I came down with a nasty virus that has laid me low for the past two weeks.

Just to cheer myself up, I'm posting a pic of our table at the Gala Dinner on the Saturday evening. The woman on the right of the picture is Marilyn Rodwell, a friend from the Birmingham Chapter of the RNA. Thanks for a great time, Marilyn. That's me in the middle.


Monday, 9 July 2012

D H Lawrence

Last week, our small book club (we only have five members!) went on our summer outing to the D H Lawrence Heritage Centre and Birthplace Museum in Eastwood, Nottingham. Despite all the rain we've had here in the UK this summer, last Thursday was a rare warm and occasionally sunny day so we were well blessed. Personally, I'm not that keen on D H Lawrence but it was interesting so see how a miner's son, born in relative poverty, became such an esteemed writer. Many of his books, such as 'Lady Chatterley's Lover,' were banned for being too obscene. Reading extracts from the book now, it all seems rather tame, but I remember the furore at the time the book went to trial under obscenity laws. The judge apparently asked the question, 'Would you want your wife to read this? Or your servants?' Even then in 1960, there weren't that many servants around! I wonder what that judge would make of the current best seller, 'Fifty Shades of Grey.'

Monday, 18 June 2012

Good critique

After a period of only about three weeks, I have received my critique of my novel, Save The Last Dance For Me, from the New Writers' Scheme of the Romantic Novelists' Association and it's left me all fired up with hope and enthusiasm! The reader, who remains anonymous for obvious reasons, has given me an encouraging and complimentary report, all five pages of it. Understandably, I was thrilled by this. Of course, there's a drawback. She has suggested changing the plot as my original was 'cliched.' To follow her suggestions would throw my carefully planned timings out. So, as they say in Lancashire, 'I'm going to give it a coat of looking at.' Still, there's light at the end of this particular tunnel.

I read in a magazine this weekend that there is a new musical out based on songs from the early 1960s. Guess what it's going to be called! Yup! Save The Last Dance For Me. Not sure if this is a good or a bad thing ....

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Belated Blog

Many apologies for not blogging for such a long time. I had been busy editing my latest rewrite (seven so far plus numerous edits) of Save The Last Dance For Me in preparation for resubmitting to the New Writers' Scheme of the Romantic Novelists' Association. On 18th May, with huge sighs of relief, I sent off the finished manuscript and am now awaiting a reader's critique. I fully intended taking a break of a few days before tackling anything else but a short holiday in the Cotswolds and catching up with garden tasks and, most recently, the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations, means that I have not yet done so. But, back to normal now, and I am resolved to start again tomorrow!

A few weeks ago, in the May issue of Writing Magazine, I read an article by Adrian Magson on what it takes to be a writer. One of the things he said really struck a chord with me and, I guess, with many of my fellow writers. I quote: "A hunger to write. Not to be confused with an obsession for compiling lists, but that innate passion to be a writer, in whatever form. This usually manifests itself early in life, leading to a relentless haunting of bookshops and libraries, or a deep attraction to writing materials. And writing, of course. Goes without saying." Sums me up in a paragraph! I can't resist bookshops (especially second-hand ones), libraries (all those books promising a good read) and stationery shops (to buy notebooks, of course!).

Friday, 30 March 2012

Some good news

I've been asked to write a short review of one of Elizabeth Chadwick's novels, 'Lady of the English' for a national geneaolgy magazine, Your Family Tree. I'm chuffed to bits about this because it gives me the opportunity to promote Elizabeth to a wider audience. Not that I think she needs any help from me!

Elizabeth is the queen of the medieval novel and writes comprehensively of how people lived their lives at that time. Originally, she wrote novels about fictional people but now she bases her books on real people who lived at the time. 'Lady of the English' is about the Empress Matilda, widow of the Emperor of Germany, daughter of Henry I, mother of Henry II and who is famous for the civil war between her and her cousin King Stephen for the crown of England. She is currently writing the first in a trilogy about Eleanor of Aquitaine.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Update on progress on two counts

I'm half way through yet another rewrite of Save The Last Dance For Me. A Facebook friend and follower of this blog pointed me in the direction of some excellent notes on self-editing and it has been a great help. I'm finding I keep referring to them to remind myself what I'm striving for. I've been working on a pivotal chapter today and although it's taken me a few hours to do, I feel reasonably happy with it.

I had good news in my search for any Buttolph cousins in that I was contacted by someone who is descended from the brother of my great-grandmother, Anna Maria Buttolph. She has traced their ancestry back as far as 1640! That's great going, only possible because the family stayed in more or less the same area for the whole of that time. 

Thursday, 1 March 2012

To be published - or not!

The quarterly journal of the Norfolk Family History Society arrived today. It included an article on an aspect of my family history that had been perplexing me for a long time, that of not being able to find a birth certificate for my maternal grandfather, for without that, I was unable to ascertain who my great-grandmother was. I wrote the article in the hope that some descendants of what was quite a large family, the Buttolphs in Wymondham, will still be around. That would be nice.

That was the good news. The bad news is that Family History Monthly, who were to print an article of mine in the May issue is to close down. This is such a shame as in my opinion it was one of the best family history magazines around and excellent value for money.

The other good news is that I've nearly finished amending Save The Last Dance For Me. It still needs a bit more work but I shall keep trying. Ever the optimist!

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Berlie Doherty - author

Our small reading group, Bolsover Townswomen's Guild Book Club, was lucky enough to be picked from a draw of reading groups in Derbyshire, to received a visit from Berlie Doherty a local Derbyshire author. She came to our meeting today and we really enjoyed her visit. She talked about books in general and her own in particular, giving a reading from one of her books, a children's novel called 'Street Child.' She has published around 60 books from all genres but concentrating mainly on children's books. She is currently Derbyshire County Council's Reading Champion, encouraging reading from primary schools into old age. Unfortunately, her tenure ends this month and no funds are available to renew the post. On a more personal level, as an as yet unpublished fiction writer, I found her totally inspiring and most encouraging. She has given me new heart to continue.

I have now submitted my social history article, Working in t'Mill, and sourced some suitable photographs. It is due to appear, I think, in the May issue of Family History Monthly. I will post on here any further news.

A most satisfactory day all round, especially as I managed to cut back my hellebore leaves to show the coming flowers to more advantage. I know we will have more cold weather to come but I thought there was a definite hint of spring in the air today...

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Progress to date

I've been working hard on the rewrite and so far, so good. I do feel it's coming along well, still more work to do though. There's plenty of external conflict in Save The Last Dance For Me but I need to work in more internal conflict. That I don't find easy but I keep trying. 

Facebook has been keeping me busy, trying to find my way round the site. I bought a second hand copy of 'Facebook for Dummies' but unfortunately, my version of Facebook doesn't tally with their version! Still, there's one or two useful pointers so it's not been  a waste of time. One of the results of being on Facebook is that I know have more communication with my brother who lives in France and whom I haven't seen for over two years. Also, an American friend who I hadn't heard from for several years got in touch through Facebook. I can quite see that playing around on it could be addictive.....

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Writing News

Since the New Year, I've been doing a rewrite of Save The Last Dance For Me, to make it shorter, tighter and, hopefully, better. Already I've cut three chapters that I didn't feel were contributing much to the plot. Any sections that I felt were necessary, I've included as flashbacks in another chapter. Already it seems to be working better with a smooth transition between chapters. I have rejoined the New Writers' Scheme of the Romantic Novelists Association and will resubmit the typescript for a further opinion.

A lengthy letter based on some family history research I have done has appeared in the February issue of Family History Monthly. I haven't seen it myself yet, but someone has told me it's there. Hopefully, the same magazine will be printing a short article of mine this summer based on my experience of working in a cotton mill. Now I just have to write the article ...

Friday, 13 January 2012

Facebook - and some good news

I've been struggling with Facebook for the past week or so as the 'Facebook for Dummies' book that I bought second hand doesn't seem to bear any relation to what's on the computer screen before me. I will sort it but I guess it will take time.

I had two bits of good news today. A couple of months ago, I submitted a letter about a breakthrough that I'd had in my family history and I learned today that it is to be featured in the February issue of Family History Monthly, a national genealogy magazine. While submitting that, I mentioned a couple of ideas for articles to the editor. She didn't want either of those because they had more more less been covered in previous issues but she did ask me if I could put together a social history article on my experiences working as a weaver in a Lancashire cotton mill in the distant past. Today, I received confirmation that she definitely wants the article and that it will be  in the May issue. These two bits of good news have boosted me no end. The fiction market is a harder nut to crack!

Friday, 6 January 2012

I'm on Facebook!

Hey, I'm on Facebook! I always swore I would keep clear of Facebook and Twitter but having read that these are essential tools in 'getting your name out there', I decided sign up, first of all for Facebook. I'll try Twitter later. Just now, I'm still finding my way round the site.

Had a quiet Christmas, just the two of us, but enjoyable just the same. That's how it's been for the last four Christmases, since my elderly mother died in 2008. We'd always spent Christmases with first, in the first place, my Dad, then after he died, just with my Mum. Even after three years (she died just before Christmas), we still miss her and the Advocaat doesn't taste the same without her! Neither of my children live close by but I spoke to both of them on Christmas Day. Having said that, I don't think I could cope with a noisy Christmas!