Tuesday 3 December 2013

The Gift

I’m halfway through draft 4 of The Gift.  While working on this draft I realised that I was missing some scene setting for example, I could clearly see Villa Rosario in my mind and I knew this was the home of the Garcia family, but I hadn’t described it for the reader.  I managed to find some photos of the places I had imagined to help me set the scene.  Rather than have a description of all the characters on a word document I have drawn a plan for each main character on an A3 sheet of paper with their physical description and the important events/people in their life.  I’ve found this has been a great help, especially with the tying up of dates.  It is amazing what one spots when doing a re-draft for example the colour of one of my character’s eyes seems to have changed from blue to brown!     I am wondering if I will ever feel this will be ready!  

Saturday 9 November 2013

Short-list Success!

I have just found out that my Au Revoir short story, which I entered into the Global Short Story Competition back in September, was one of six short-listed.    This story grew from a creative writing exercise I did with my creative writing group where we wrote a short story using the following prompts:- moving house, a funeral, starting a new job and the end of an affair.  In my usual gloomy style I chose “a funeral” as my prompt.    They patiently listened to me read it out and gave me valuable feedback so thanks!  The story can be found under the short story section of this blog.    

Friday 1 November 2013

November is National Novel Writing Month

November is National NovelWriting Month (Nanowrimo).   It is an annual internet-based project.  It challenges participants to write 50,000 words of a new novel in the month of November.  The focus is about quantity not quality and the idea is just to get the words on the page and not worry about anything else, such as editing.   I participated two years ago and found it a liberating experience.  The Gift was the result - I can’t believe I’m still working on it!  I’m tempted to have another go this year as I have an idea bubbling away, but tempting though it is I’m going to crack on and with The Gift.  

Good luck to those of you who are participating in Nanowrimo this year.

Tuesday 29 October 2013

Draft 3

I’ve just finished draft 3 of The Gift.  It is now 59,000 words long so a little on the short side for a novel.  While working on draft 3 I realised I wanted to hear more from one of my subsidiary characters, Pilar.  I've portrayed her as an embittered old woman, but now feel the reader needs to know why she is this way and so I want to give her a voice.  My only concern is that too many narrators may confuse the story - at the moment I have three.  I have decided to keep draft 3 as it is and to re-work another version, which will include some narration from Pilar.  It will also increase my word-count. So now on to draft 4!     

Monday 21 October 2013


Back in July, I wrote a short story for a competition being run by the online writing group, WritersAbroad.  

I’m pleased to report that my piece was accepted for publication in their anthology, Foreign and Far Away!  The anthology, the fourth published by Writers Abroad, is out today and contains a selection of fiction, non-fiction and poetry.  It is available from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.

Book Aid International will benefit from the proceeds of the anthology.  This charity increases access to books and supports literacy, education and development in sub-Saharan Africa. 

You can find out more and see a complete list of contributions and authors on the Writers Abroad website, www.writersabroad.com.

Thursday 17 October 2013

The Parisot Literary Festival

I’m feeling inspired as a result of going to the ParisotLiterary Festival at the weekend.  I managed to attend the sessions by Maree Giles, Amanda Hodgkinson, Martin Walker and Victoria Corby.   I can’t imagine the amount of organisation it took to make this event a success.  It is a real tribute to the organisers – thank you.  I’m already looking forward to next year’s festival! 

The talks by Amanda and Martin were back to back and it was interesting to hear how differently each author went about their writing.  For Amanda her story, 22 Britannia Road, began with hearing about a woman living in a forest.  This image stayed with her.  She wrote a poem, but the image refused to go away.   Martin writes the Bruno Chief of Police series.  He explained that he writes a detailed synopsis for each chapter and knows exactly where his story is going, although Bruno does, at times, have a will of his own. 

Victoria’s talk was about gaining confidence as a writer and it was refreshing to hear an author admit to being nervous at times.   Anyway, enough procrastinating – today I have a free day stretching out before me so I’m going to get down to doing some writing!

Wednesday 18 September 2013

Generating ideas

I find it difficult to get ideas for new stories when dealing with every-day “stuff.”  Ideas usually come to me when I’m either walking or driving long distances – not sure why, but it is something I have recently discovered.  Having just come back from a walking holiday I now have three ideas that I’m hoping to develop.  Two are for short stories and the other is for a longer story.  One of the ideas came as a direct result from meeting someone on the trail and then bumping into them again and seeing them in a completely different light and asking the “what if” question.  The other one came when we were in a desolate fishing town and I happened to notice two red roses floating in the sea, which seemed to be a good prompt for a story - so watch this space!

Or maybe this one!


Monday 2 September 2013

I've added another story to the "short story" tab.  This is a recent one and is 1,000 words long.  I'm currently undecided on the ending!

Saturday 17 August 2013

I've added another story to the short story section and also inserted a tab on life writing where I have included two stories.  I find "life writing" particularly difficult.  Happy reading!

Wednesday 14 August 2013

The Gift

I have inserted a new tab called The Gift, which is my first novel in progress.  Here you can read a summary of the story.   The Gift started life as a 4,000 word short story for my final OU assignment, but I always wanted to make it into a longer story.  Although finished, I am editing, editing and editing, which I am not enjoying!  At the moment it stands at 58,000 words, which I feel may be a little on the light side.  Two friends (thank you Fran and Tanya) have kindly read it through and I am incorporating their comments. On the 31st July I took the plunge and sent the first 6,000 words off to a debut novel competition so we will see what happens.  In the meantime I will explore other publishing options.       

Wednesday 7 August 2013

Fame at last!

Hey my six word story competition entries at  Inscribemedia got a mention (see below).  Now I've just got to translate the success to a story that's longer than six words!

The team at Inscribe have now judged our free six-word competition. The set-up was ‘It’s the year 2013, add 2, 1 and 3 and you get six, six is the number of words in supposedly the finest flash fiction story ever written For Sale. Baby Shoes. Never Worn (attributed to Hemingway but probably not by him). The challenge is a short story in six words.”
The standard was high but in the end the £50 prize goes to Mark Shadwell for
‘Facebook - daughter found. Friend request rejected’ (because it made us cry)
We also particularly liked
‘Sale. Coffin . Due to time waster’ by Amanda Huggins (because it made us smile)
‘She waits patiently at his grave’ by Erin Gaven (because it made us wonder)
and two from Anita Goodfellow. ‘Congratulations, Mrs Kray. Healthy twin boys’ (because it made us laugh even though we should not have) and ‘Doesn’t Hannah look like her uncle’ (because it‘s naughty!).

Thursday 11 July 2013

Summer is here!

I find it difficult to get down to writing when the sun is shining!  There always seems to be so many other things I would rather be doing and it seems a shame to be cooped up indoors.  While flicking through the July edition of Writing magazine I spotted a useful article on preparing a story for publication.  They suggest that, if you write fiction, you need a literary agent.   The article goes on to list various methods of finding a suitable agent.  One of which is to think of an author you feel is a good match for your work, and find out who their agent is by doing a basic search on the internet.  From here you should find out if they accept unsolicited submissions, who to approach, etc.  So this is what I have started to do.  If I can’t get down to the writing at least I feel I’m doing something constructive!  

Sunday 23 June 2013

The Gift

I know I haven’t posted anything on here recently, that's because I’ve been working on draft two of my first novel, The Gift.  Thanks Fran for reading and giving me feedback on draft two - I really appreciate it!  I’ve got one new section to write and some serious editing to do and then I will have a ponder about what to do with it.  I may try to publish it on the You Write On Website/Feed A Read website or enter the first few chapters into a competition or maybe I should try the self-publish route. If anyone has any suggestions I would love to hear them.  In the meantime, I’ll take a break from it and concentrate on writing some short stories.

Wednesday 29 May 2013

The Salvesen Sisters - Work in Progress!

During the last week I have found myself thinking about my story of The Salvesen Sisters no doubt as a result of your encouraging comments. 

The story is fictional, but it will revolve around Agnes Salvesen who was my husband's great Aunt.  In 1913 Agnes travelled to Asia on board the Nord and Trans-Siberian Express.  She kept a travel journal of her journey and it makes fascinating reading.    

I have decided to post the whole opening chapter (see new tab above entitled The Salvesen Sisters).  

My original plan was to set the story in the present day, written from the point of view of the elderly Agnes, who is putting her affairs in order and, in doing so, having flashbacks to 1913.  I then wrote a second version in third person, with just an opening paragraph set in the present day and plan to set the rest of the story in the 1913s.   

At the moment I am torn between the two so I have posted both versions (roughly 2,500 words long). I would be interested to hear which version works best for you.  Either way, I know I've got a lot of work ahead of me! 

Monday 20 May 2013


I first saw this photo several years ago when doing some ancestry research on my husband’s family.  It is a photo of his grandmother and two of her sisters – the Salvesen sisters.  The photo is faded with age and unfortunately someone has cut off the fourth sister.  As far as my husband remembers it has always looked like this.  I found the photo intriguing and used it to write an opening chapter as part of my second Open University course a couple of years ago.  My aunt asked me the other day how my "Salvesen" story was going.  I had to admit it wasn’t, but having looked again at this photo, I’m going to revisit it with the hope of developing it further so watch this space!  Here is the opening paragraph:

The old woman struggles to sit up and, with a shaking hand, she reaches for the picture.  Her gnarled hand claws thin air and frustrated she tries again.  She pulls the solid silver frame towards her, the edge scraping along the surface of the bedside table, like fingernails down a blackboard.  Three sepia faces stared back at her.  The right-hand side of the picture is tattered where it has been cut and, along this jagged line, the wispy remains of a fourth person can just be seen, like a shadow or ghost.  The women are beautiful, but that was a long time ago.

Tuesday 7 May 2013

Six Word Stories

Ernest Hemingway once wrote a story in just six words “For Sale: baby shoes, never worn.”

I found myself doing this exercise at the weekend to pass some time while I was in the car.   Here are some of the ones I came up with:

Congratulations Mrs Kray, healthy twin boys. 

She is twenty. I am forty.

The consultant looked at me sadly.

Doesn’t Hannah look like her uncle?

I can’t be pregnant, he’s sterile.

The sign had said keep out.

He said he would marry me.

My wife does not understand me.

She told me she was sixteen.

Monday 29 April 2013


Unfortunately my competition entry for the Bath Short Story Award was unsuccessful.  Della Galton in her book, How to Write and Sell Short Stories says  "........not winning a competition isn't exactly a rejection, but it can still feel as though you've failed......".   She goes on to say that whatever we do, we cannot avoid getting rejections - the only sure way to guarantee you won't get a rejection is not to have a go in the first place.  So with that in mind I now have my eye on a competition in Writers' Forum.

Monday 22 April 2013

The Gift

My friend kindly offered to read the first draft of my novel (The Gift), all 55,000 words of it – thanks Tanya.  I handed it over and promptly stopped looking/thinking about it for a few weeks and instead wrote a short story.  Tanya’s comments are now back so I guess I should stop procrastinating and get on with draft number 2!  

Friday 19 April 2013


You will see that I have added a Haiku tab.  A Haiku is a Japanese lyric form, which encapsulates a single impression of a natural object or scene in seventeen syllables arranged in three unrhymed lines of five, seven and five syllables.  Writing a daily Haiku can be helpful in developing a writing habit.  It trains your attention and your ability to capture a moment in a concise way.  One of the advantages is that it can be practised anywhere!  So, why not give it a go?

Tuesday 2 April 2013

The Writer's Toolshed

I've just finished reading the Writer's Toolshed an ebook by Della Galton.  It had lots of useful tips on Creative Writing aimed specifically at writing short stories.  It was good value too at only £1.88.

Monday 1 April 2013


This weekend I entered the Bath Short Story Award Competition my first short story competition for over a year.  The long list will be announced the end of April so fingers crossed.  I'm also going to send a couple of stories into the Writers' Forum Competition.  After all, what have I got to lose?

Thursday 21 March 2013

Deep Divisions

I have added another story, Deep Divisions, to the short story tab.  This story is set against the backdrop of the 1984-85 miners strike.  It was a story I submitted as part of my last OU course.  It arose from an exercise we were asked to do by our tutor.  In the exercise we given an opening paragraph to use as an introduction to a story of our own.  I liked the piece I wrote so I decided to build on it.   I have put some reading notes at the end of the story.

Wednesday 20 March 2013

What do you think?

Check out the "What do you think?" tab to see the same story written from three different points of view.    Warning:- it's a gloomy story.  Which version do you think works the best and why?  Thanks in advance for taking the time to read and comment!

Thursday 28 February 2013


I first began writing when I started to travel as it was a great way of recording the adventures I was having.  In 2007 I entered a travel writing competition in Holiday Which? about a trip my husband and I had taken to Australia.  To my surprise I won.  I thought to myself "ah this seems easy," but alas, several competition entries later, it remains the only travel writing competition I have won - so far!  I decided to explore various online courses to improve my writing and came across A Start Writing Fiction Course run by the Open University.  This was a three month taster course, which I thoroughly enjoyed so I went on to enroll on the A215 Creative Writing Course.  This course was nine months long and, although harder, I enjoyed it even more and passed with a distinction.  This led to the A363 Advanced Creative Writing Course, which I finished in 2011 and I now have a Diploma in Literature and Creative Writing.

At the moment I am finishing my first novel, which I began as part of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) so watch this space!