Monday 31 December 2012

New Year Resolution

We made it to the end of 2012 and survived the end of the world.  It's an ideal time to reassess whether we have achieved our goals for this year and draw up a new plan for 2013.

Last year my resolution was very cryptic "Make Lemonade".  Basically it was just to stay strong despite anything life threw at me.  I didn't set off to a good start but I'm definitely in a better place emotionally now.  In fact, I am feeling more focused and more determined to achieve my goals so my resolutions this year will be more SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-sensitive)

My plan it to improve Mind, Body, Soul & Writing.  It sounds a bit hippy but I think they are all things that are healthy and will make my life more positive.  There is no harm in that.

There are so many resources online that I can read but often when I have the urge I over do it.  I read so much that by the end I've forgotten it all and becomes a waste of time.  I shall set aside time and this will include time for editing and critiquing - honing the craft. It also includes working on my blog.

Measure:  At least two blog entries a month, five critiques a month, edited at least one chapter and read a resource  

We all need to exercise and keep fit.  I'm going to try and do something every other day.  I have a skipping rope, a hula hoop and Wii Fit - they are all fun things so it shouldn't feel too hard.  I have a Pilates DVD I've never used and would like to learn yoga, Tai Chi, Belly Dancing or some other dance craze.  I will start with my Pilates DVD and to keep it fresh get a new DVD each month.  My friend does teaches a fitness class on Friday's that I will stop skiving off.  

Measure:  Managed to turn up to at least 2 classes a month, the Wii is out (and been used) and the Pilates DVD has been introduced to the DVD player.

I need to relax - people who know me deep down will know that's an understatement.   It's mainly my minds fault, it just won't switch off.  I over think things and my imagination can be a curse.  My plan is to enjoy more long baths, do my nails (got a gel kit for Christmas), perhaps do a face pack, snuggle up in bed with a book, watch TV and do nothing but chill.  Seeing my friends is good for my soul so I'll definitely make time for them.  

Measure:  My nails look good, I'm smiling and I've seen at least one friend every week

I will make sure I spend at least 15 minutes a day writing and make sure time is spent on my novels.  I write snippets all the time, throughout the day.   My novels are taking the real punch. I'm so distracted with improving my writing (editing) that I've lost time for what I enjoy.  I love my imagination and it needs to be watered regularly otherwise it will wilt and die.  

Measure:  A daily Opuss and I should be able to easily produce a whole chapter in a month (ideally 4 but I don't want to get over ambitious when I'm still struggling to switch off my internal editor).


Monday:  A random mini-workout followed by writing (body & write)
Tuesday:  Write for 15 minutes, then, an hour of research followed by an hour of editing or critiquing (write & mind) 
Wednesday:  Wii Fit workout, then relaxing long bath, followed by TV (body & soul)
Thursday:  Write for 15 to 30 minutes before seeing best friend (write & soul)
Friday:  Go to fitness class, hang out with  best friend afterwards. (body & soul)
Saturday:  Some type of pampering, then work on whatever area I feel like, i.e writing or mind (soul)
Sunday:  Work on the blog/website and then work on novel (mind & write)

To make my resolution smarter, I will also evaluate and reevaluate.  

I'm going to assess how I am getting on at the end of January and then adjust my schedule accordingly.  I don't want the scheduled to hinder me but structure my life enough to maintain my focus.  I don't want to feel unmotivated if I can't keep to it (life happens) and I haven't forgotten how to make lemonade.    

Target Date:  31 December 2013
Target Goal:  I will have a schedule that works for me even if I re-write it every month.  I will have a sense of achievement and success that I am moving in the direction that ideally will take me closer to publication.  

Sunday 23 December 2012

Swoon Reads

In Spring 2013, MacMillan Children's Publishing Group will be opening their new website Swoon Reads. Swoon Reads is to be run by Feiwel and Friends, a division of MacMillian.
Swoon Reads will be a crowd source publishing venture. In 2014, they will publish 10 to 12 Novels (e-format and paper). Winning authors will get $10,000 advance and standard royalty terms. 
They are looking for:
  • unpublished romance novels
  • aimed at readers age 14 and up
  • 50,000 to 70,000 word manuscript
  • 140 character Twitter keynote (one or two sentences that'll capture the essence of your story and entice others to read it)
  • 125 word synopsis - this will be the real challenge!

The rest of the story is up to you as they welcome almost any type of romance novel.  Whether your story is gay or straight romance, realistic or supernatural - it doesn't matter.  The story can be set in any time era and doesn't have to have a happilly ever after. 

You will need to make it unforgettable and make your readers swoon to win those votes.   Winners are chosen by the community of readers. That is what crowd sourced publishing is all about. 
They'd like it posted exclusively to their website, however, it will not be disqualified for being on other sites. It just must be unpublished!
You can enter whether you have any agent or not.
Make sure your novel is to the best standard it can be because once it is entered it cannot be edited.

My reaction:

This is the competition that I've been waiting for.  I love writing YA fiction and I am so soppy for love.  I can't wait for Spring 2013!
I plan to enter Drift as I've editted that so many times that I feel it is ready for public consumption. 
I'm going to ask if its just one entry per writer as I have lots of other stories but I will need to edit them to be ready for this competition as they aren't as polished as Drift.
My only concern is that this could turn into a populartiy spamming contest.  I'm hoping that strong writing will prevail and win overall. 
Wish me luck and good luck to you!



Over the years, I've tried a range of websites and blogs. This is my most current and most up-to-date blog.  Over the past two years I have had various different blogs & websites. These are listed below:
Mar 2012 to Current Blogger
Jan 2012 to Feb 2013 Webpage
Dec 2011 to Jan 2012 Webs
Mar 2011 to Dec 2011 Wordpress
Jan 2010 to Mar 2011 Weebly

Blogging Advice

Tip 1: Write about what interests you, that way if nobody else wants to read it then you've at least enjoyed writing it. In addition, if you are writing about what interests you then when you do get followers it'll be easier to maintain their interest as it'll be the same as yours.
Tip 2: Blog frequently to show that your blog is maintained and up-to-date. This also provides your readers with fresh news and will encourage them to check back more frequently.
Tip 3: When relevant, promote your blog. For example, you could direct someone to an article in your blog that you think they'll find of interest. This will be recieved much better than if you spam forums or social sites. You could tweet when you have a new post and what the post about to enable people to find you.
Tip 4: If you find another blog that is of intererst then share it. Bloggers tend to be supportive of each other so by promoting someone else there is a good chance that they'll promote you back to their readers.
Tip 5: Take you're time to check that your blog is well written. Check and amend any spelling, grammar or punctuation mistakes. If it doesn't make sense then people will be instantly turned off and not take your seriously.

Blog Site Reviews

Blogger: I currently use this site and would recommend it. It alows a wide range of sharing options for your readers (email, facebook, twitter, blogger, google+). There is a mobile app so you can blog on the go and you are able to email posts to your blog. It is very easy to use and shows you how many views you've had.
Tumblr:I currently use this site for personal use and would recommend it. Tumblr has a strong community of "follow back" so you can obtain a good number of readers and find people with similar interests. The site allows people to share posts (reblog) meaning your article can be read by their followers. There is a mobile app so you can blog on the go and you are able to email your posts to your blog. It is very easy to use and very social.
Webpage: Writing a blog as a webpage is very cumbersome, I would not recommend it. It basically meant I had to edit the website. This did mean the blog was nicely intergrated into my website, however, it was not easy to keep up-to-date. It did allow RSS feeds.
Webs:I created this as a free website after Weebly. However, I did not like the appearance and the free ads all over my site. The ads were part of the freeservice but seemed to take over. It also wasn't very user friendly either.
Weebly: I loved this website and it was free too (the ads were not that bad). The blog was easy to use, update and I like the way it looked. The only problem is that I got a few hits from "robots" placing odd comments on my posts. Otherwise, I would have happily stayed here forever.

Saturday 1 December 2012

Write Yourself Into This Heroic Book

United Press and Operation Shoebox are hosting a competition where you can win £100.

The short stories/poems entered will be selected for use in a book for Operation Shoebox UK.

The idea for the book was by Operations Director Ian Whiteway, who in 2005, set up the scheme. Ian said, “With the help of United Press we are putting together a book, funds from which will go directly to help our forces. We are looking for poems and short stories from people all over the UK . You don’t have to be directly connected to the services and your entry does not have to be on a military subject.“

Operation Shoebox UK is an entirely voluntary organisation, with a UK wide network of over 40 regional co-ordinators, they have over 22,000 supporters all making and helping to provide goodie boxes to be shipped out to Afghanistan.

“The boxes contain treats and gifts the troops could never get out there,” said Ian. “It is a huge morale boost to our boys and girls, the general public probably don’t even realise how amazing it is to receive a shoebox from a stranger, someone who cares enough to take the time to make up a shoebox.”

There will be three age categories (under 12s; under 18s; over 18s) open to all UK Residents. The winner of each category will get a prize to the value of £100 donated by the sponsors.

Under 12s prize is £100 Argos Voucher
Under 18s prize is £100 Primark Voucher
Over 18s prize is £100 Marks & Spencer Vouchers

All winning entries will be published in the book, planned for Christmas 2013.

Full terms and conditions with details of how to enter can be found on: or

If you want to enter now, e-mail your short story or poem (any length) to Please put "Shoebox Book" at the top of your entry and you must specify which category you are entering. Or post your entry to United Press, Admail 3735, London , EC1B 1JB .

You must include your full name and postal address (including postcode).

The closing date is February 28th 2013.

Thoughts In The Night

My best ideas always seem to run into my mind just as my head hits the pillow.  There has been many times that I've woke and picked up my mobile to quickly record an idea.

It's not a good experience for my husband who is soundly asleep beside me and suddenly feels the bright light glare of the electronic screen shining in the dark on his face.  He usually makes a strange grumbling noise which signals  that I need to go back to sleep.  My husband has suffered a lot as a result of my writing but I tolerate his obsession for online gaming so it seems a fair compromise.

My dreams have always been very vivid.  Sometimes they are so real that I wake in tears or the other end of the spectrum, which isn't sexy when you are doing it alone and looks more like I'm being possessed than... you know.  If you don't "you know" what the other end of the spectrum is then you'll need to read 50 Shades of Grey because I'm not sharing.  Sometimes my dreams actually make sense and its like watching my own personal Blockbuster movie.

As I wake, I feel all the emotions, characters and locations wash out of me.  No matter how good the idea, like water I can't grasp them and pull them back.  Then they are lost in the pool of my imagination which is a shame because the small snippets I have are a great source of inspiration for my stories.

I read that when we first wake we can only recall half of our dream, then after 5 minutes its almost completely forgotten.  I feel blessed that often get flashes or reminders about my dreams - it feels a bit like Dejavu.

I wish there was an easy way to remember the ideas that I have when I'm meant to be sleeping.  Perhaps one day there will be be a way of recording our dreams so we can play them back.  For now, I will just have to try to note them down without disrupting my husband or my sleep too much.

Next time I get writers block, I'm going to just sleep it off.