Posts Tagged ‘news’

I try to read the newspaper on a regular basis, both to keep up to date with the world and also to spur on my imagination, and for long term readers you might even remember the original post of this name, which I wrote nearly 3 years ago!

It seemed time to revisit the idea but this time, it’s more about the impact on my world view than how those stories can shape our writing.

In the newspaper today…

I read about David Cameron’s attempts to convince the rest of Europe to agree with him so we in the UK vote to stay in the EU when we have our referendum. As so much of the discussion seems to be about how much we’re prepared to give migrants in benefits I think it misses the entire point of closer integration, but there you go.

I’ve read about unaccompanied child refugees in the Jungle in Calais, and the squalour and desperate misery of life there, as we complain we are being ‘overrun’

I’ve seen the Pope’s view on Donald Trump’s Mexican border wall, as Trump leads the polls for Republican presidential nominee.

I’ve read about war, murder, the Zika virus, abusive ‘grooming’ of a young woman by a rich and successful sportsman.

I’ve read about a pretty crappy world, to be frank. So here’s a counterbalance:

The Good News Network where the stories include a New Zealand crowdfunding effort to buy a beach for public use and students designing a portable, wearable, shelter for refugees.

Huffpost Good News where there is a focus on love – romantic, familial and friendly.

Dailygood.org where it’s about how we each live our lives to the best.

I need to know what is happening in the world, but sometimes I forget that the media set the agenda.  I only see what a newspaper editor considers newsworthy.

I need to search wider, and these three sites are a good starting point to get a picture of the positive in the world, to hear stories that focus on the positive effects we can have on each other.

I want to read the good news for a bit.

Happy writing,



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This week I’ve started working on the second Family Tree story. This has involved starting to plan a timeframe, individual circumstances and storylines, mapping out what has happened in the intervening period between the end of the last story and the beginning of the new.

It is far from a finished plan, but it feels as though it is slotting together quite naturally and I am looking forward to building up the storyline. I need to finish re-reading the original story to make sure I have all details correct but I have a good idea of where I’ll be going and that’s a real pleasure.

I have also arranged to go to a crime writer’s convention with a couple of other members of my writing group. This came about from a twitter post I saw from a recently published crime writer; I thought it was a great opportunity to develop what I have done with the whodunnit and get a feel for a wider writing experience.

My next step with that story is to pick up on the police procedural side and start to get that right. If you like, I have the bones of the story now, and it’s time to make sure those bones form a proper skeleton!

I also think going to a writing convention in and of itself is a great opportunity to hear how other writer approach difficulties, how they plan, what they have learnt in their journey towards publication… As a genre I am still getting to grips with, I am really excited to see what I can learn.

So this has been a good week. I am really buzzing about building contacts and enjoying my writing again; I have a little more time to write over the next few weeks, and I have a plan for what I want, and need, to do.

If only I felt this buoyant every week!

Happy writing,

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This is going to be a short post as I have a lot to sort out tonight.  It’s been that kind of week, actually – bits going on all over the place, and everything seemingly last-minute.  It’s as though everything just catches up with me when I’m not concentrating!

I guess that some of you will have had the same week – even if not this week.  So here’s a quick look at what’s been happening, without any of the extraneous talking I normally do!

  • The whodunnit is progressing nicely – I’d prefer a little more speed but at least it’s moving onwards
  • The new plan is as done as it’s going to be – I know where I need to put my energies now
  • I got some reading done – big books are a bind and after this one I’m going for something quick and breezy
  • I’ve been busy at work – my new role is fun but quite demanding
  • I have become obsessed with Strictly Come Dancing once again – it’s my annual tv love-in and we’re even planning our Halloween party around watching it!
  • It’s less than 10 weeks until Christmas!!! (I just added this one for fun :-))

And, as we all have busy weeks that sometimes feel like they’re getting away from us, here’s a quote from Marty Rubin:

In the midst of a busy life don’t forget to live

Happy writing,



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This week, I got a lot of words written, and a big step closer to the end of the whodunnit, but I still won’t finish it before I meander off on my trip to Germany as I’d hoped.

I have, however, got a plan.  When I am away, I will be spending a lot of time travelling, and I had intended to use this time to read and catch up on the 52 book challenge.  However, if I split the time 50:50 between reading and writing, I should still be able to get plenty of reading done, and keep up my writing momentum.  Win-win, I hope…

I do feel a little bit more positive about my writing this week for other reasons, though.  A chance discussion with a friend at work led to a discovery that his father is a poet, who has published his own anthology after many years of his work appearing on the radio.  Not only did I get a copy o said anthology as a gift, which was lovely, but I also passed him a couple of my favourite poems for some feedback.   I feel ludicrously brave!  I also shared them with another work colleague who said very  kind things indeed.  I think she was surprised how much she liked them.

I want to get back to my poetry sooner rather than later.  I have so many thoughts and feelings about the world right now that the best thing I can do is write it out – that’s one of the ways I process things I am unable to verbalise.  I’ll definitely be taking a notebook to carry about when I am away.  I might even try to work in some German words, which are often perfectly precise although rather hard-sounding.

I read an article today which discussed the formation of German words but due to the nature of the article I have decided not to link to it; still, it’s given me something else to think about over the next week.

I’m pretty sure there will be a lot of thinking when I am away.

In other news – following on from the 100 novels list is the start of an alternative list for me to look through, although I also have a number of borrowed books to read plus this week’s lazy one to finish off first.

And finally – due to the travels this week I won’t be doing my normal update-type blogs but hopefully will at least have a chance to get something written before I go.  No promises though – I haven’t even started sorting myself out yet!

Happy writing,








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It’s the last week before I go on retreat, so naturally it has been busier than I intended. I worked extra hours to get (nearly) everything done in the office, have been out more than I’ve been in, celebrated a very special 16th birthday, had a champagne cream tea for my own birthday (it was May but who’s worried about that?!) and been to my first aerial hoop class.  In fact, it’s been exhausting.

But – drum roll please – I had a writing success.  Hurrah!!

I got the whodunnit plan finished this morning, and I am really pleased with it. I’ve worked out how to twist the next phase to make things seem to fit together when they don’t, and how to deflect attention from the killer. I’ve defined how to push another character into the spotlight and make them realistically a suspect, using the set-up I’ve already put in place and adding a surprise element to that.

I’ve even worked out what finally gives the game away and how to close the last scene.

I’m really happy to get it all on paper. This story needs to be completed, it’s a personal test of my determination to write at this point – the reasons I started it are almost irrelevant now, although I think I’ve learnt a lot to take back to the previous novel. This has become a test of whether I am a prose writer or not: it’s no good having just one good idea in me if I want to do this for my whole life, after all!

So next week, I will focus entirely on getting the story down on paper, so to speak – my intention is to complete it before I come home from retreat. Once that’s done, I can print it off and start filling the gaps, cutting the unnecessary bits, and get it ready for a formal proofread. Phew – sounds so easy, doesn’t it?

As I am on retreat, I will be keeping my connection to the outside world as small as I can make it when doing all the things I want to do.  That means I may not post on Tuesday, and probably won’t on Thursday unless it’s something like a picture of where I am! Hopefully, Sunday’s post will be filled with fabulous success stories though 🙂

I am going to leave it there for today and get my packing finished so we can head off early tomorrow.  I hope you all have a great writing week and I’ll catch up with you soon!



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I am so close to my stay at the retreat in Wales that I can almost touch it, and yet in these last few days of getting up to a sensible point in the whodunnit I have been about as useful as a chocolate teapot, as they say in these parts.

If I had a chocolate teapot I would eat it before putting revolting tea in it anyway, but that’s another matter!

So I have started planning instead – planning how to get from where I am to the end of the story, how to find the missing clues etc. I’ll carry this on into next week with the aim of having a full map to build on in Wales. Alongside some reading, some poetry and a day off exploring the mythological sites (I love the Arthurian legends and I always want to explore the Welsh links more) I want to finish the blimming thing and tick it off!

I have noticed that about two thirds to three quarters of the way into any of my stories I hit a wall and I want to break this one down, to prove to myself I can do it.

So that’s the plan for the week to come, in between everything else… I have to find the time, and wake up every morning feeling that I can do it…

In other news – It’s book 94 in the 100 books list – An Artist of the Floating World, by Kazuo Ishiguro this week.  I like the sound of this one, for some reason – I guess partly because I have an interest in the Japanese culture, which seems so different to my own.  There’s something about it that draws me in as a reader.  In part I think it’s the use of allegory and imagery which is so intensely different to the language I grew up with.  There’s a poetic element to it.  Anyway, to get to the point, I think I’ll add this one to my list!

And finally – I have read the newspapers a lot in the last few days, trying to keep up with the events in, and affecting, Greece.  I have been so sad to see that ugly nationalistic stereotypes are being used about people from different countries (and there’s not just one victim of this) and as someone who is trying to share and spread friendship and peace it feels as though this is a huge step backwards.

We’ve seen where hate leads, and although people will say things behind a computer they wouldn’t say in reality, once those words have been shared the damage has begun.

Gandhi said 

Anger and intolerance are the enemies of correct understanding

If we want a mutually satisfactory outcome, to any disagreement, we need to understand each other’s viewpoints – and that can’t happen if we’re throwing stones at each other.

Happy writing,






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This week I’ve been very distracted from my writing. Every time I think about sitting down and getting on with it something else grabs my attention and the moment is gone.

Some things are genuine and reasonable – poorly family members, classes, work etc – but sometimes I have to admit I get a little bit of clicker’s remorse because I find an interesting article to read online and that takes me to something else, and something else, and then the evening is gone.

The worst thing is that I know I’m doing it and yet I carry on. Today I read about 15 pages of online comments about a particular news story. They all say the same thing – boo to you, person who doesn’t share my opinion – but I keep reading in the hope that some nugget of understanding will come to me that I didn’t have before.

I think I need a week of no internet, but then I wouldn’t Skype, wouldn’t blog, wouldn’t keep up with the news. So maybe as a compromise I’ll limit myself to an hour a day and try to recoup some of that lost capacity.  Wales is fast approaching and I need to get moving on the whodunnit to make the most of my time away.

In other news – I was looking at the 100 novels list and I haven’t read 89 – Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison , 90 – A Bend in the River by VS Naipaul, 91 – Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie or 92 – Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson.  In fact the closest I’ve got to these four was during a university course on Race and Ethnicity, when I was encouraged to read Toni Morrison’s book Beloved.  There were certain sections we had to read for class and I remember it being pretty hard going; I don’t remember reading the whole book.  Of all these four writers it is Morrison whose subject stirs the most sociological interest – I feel it is important to understand more about the experience other people have of life – but Housekeeping might make my pile of books to read if for no other reason than the almost 50/50 sense of love and outrage its inclusion in the list seems to have caused!

And finally – this is a little embarrassing but I was looking back at old posts and realised that two of the books I’ve read recently – Life of Pi and The Caliph’s House – plus one I need to read in the next week – Gone Girl – were specifically named in a blog last June, with a note saying I wanted to read them in the next month.  I really need to kick the reading up a notch!

Happy writing



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This week I thought about how I can change and improve the blog, bearing in mind my limited time and the lack of Thursday posts – which were my favourites and often the ones you guys seemed to enjoy the most.

I also thought about the sad lack of peace posts. I feel the need to bring these back into my life too; there’s so much bad in the world that a little love and care might remind us all that the bad isn’t the only story.

So I’m going to turn Thursdays into ‘Free Post Thursdays’ – I can write about whatever I fancy, whether it’s books, life, politics, tv, my ongoing obsession with dragons… You can suggest ideas if I look like I’m running out of them, but every Thursday will have something. At worst, a quote, at best, something that changes your perception in a positive way.

I’m not becoming a writer any more, after all – I am one. Now it’s time to stop hiding behind work and sharing a little more of myself.

In other news – I also did some writing this week – as with the last couple it wasn’t as much as I wanted but it was something. I’ve built the foundations, the cellar, the first floor. I’m well into the second floor, with the third to go on from there. The roof may end up being a Welsh project after all…!

The interesting thing with the whodunnit is that it’s the first thing I’ve written in squirreled-away moments – I write onto my phone in lunch breaks, or as a passenger travelling to or from somewhere. I don’t really get much time at home to sit and do it because there’s so much else going on.

This has changed the style of my writing; it’s much choppier and direct, much more focussed on pace and movement. I’ve made silly continuity mistakes but I can fix them. I’m not sure I want to fix the pacing. Keeping things moving in a whodunnit means the reader doesn’t have time to think about the breadcrumbs you’re laying. It keeps them focussed on what’s happening next, looking forward. I think the pace of it is a big element of the genre that works for me as a writer.

I hope it works when I read it!

And finally – I’ve lost it with the 100 novels list again, but it’s 11.30pm and I have no time to fix that this week, so I’ll get myself sorted out for week 202 🙂

Happy writing,



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First of all, let’s start with the new. Last week, I told you I’d enrolled on a new course, and I had a few people contact me guessing what that might be. No-one did, which is not surprising because I went for something a bit out of my wheelhouse.


Now, this is the kind of course I would never have considered before my holiday.  It wouldn’t even have crossed my mind that I could do it, or should do it, or that it was an option.  It just goes so show that sometimes you can get something totally unexpected from life, if you’re open to it.  I began this year with the idea that I would try to do new things, and get the most from life.  I would tackle my fears and not let them stop me as they have before.  I would make the most of being alive.

I can’t say I live every moment like that – I’m not a motivational poster! I have to go to work and do the laundry and clean the bathroom like before.  But my outlook has definitely changed, and I am hoping this new way of experiencing life will bring a new dimension to my writing.

Which leads me on to my old challenge: the whodunnit (nice segue there, EJ…).  This week I finally got back to it – woo hoo!  I started off by reading a little bit to remind me where I was and despite its limitations, I was actually really pleased with the content.  The phrasing works well, the characters are coming together and the style gives the book some gravitas without being over-dramatic.  I didn’t get another 3000 words completed, in fact I doubt I made 1000, but I’m back on it.  If I can build in an hour 3 times a week, I’ll be able to do that as well as work on the poetry and reading for my writing life, in the time I have available.

As it’s nearing midnight and I need to depart for my bed I’ll leave it there and catch up on the rest of life next time!

Until then – happy writing,



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Ok, so I made a plan last week. If that plan was a road map, I think I took the wrong turning somewhere.

The holiday journal is still a WIP, the whodunnit is still undone, and this week at writing group I admitted I don’t really want to write prose right now. Where that came from – frustration, boredom or an honest-to-goodness preference for poetry – I don’t know, but it’s given me some pause for thought.

If I prefer poetry, and I consider myself a better poet than prose writer, why am I giving myself all sorts of guilt over not completing other works? Why don’t I just write poetry, and be happy?

And if I don’t feel so strongly as I thought I did about writing prose, why can’t I just self publish the novel I have completed, get it out there and see what happens?

I think back, and I think of the dream: a book, on a shelf, in a bookshop. My work, bought by people and perhaps treasured by some readers, as I have treasured some of the books I bought from those shelves.

But reality is reality, and agents are the gatekeepers for traditional publishers, and agents aren’t picking up a lot of unknown writers. The future, I am constantly being told, is self publishing. The future is in hoping to stand out from the hundreds of thousands of other works out there, with no marketing budget and no quality controls…

No decision now though.  I love writing, and I love that I can still focus on it even though my life has changed a lot since this blog began.  That’s the most important thing, and all the rest will become clear in time.

In other news – I said I’d catch up with the 100 novels list this week but this is going to be a quick update as there are quite a few I have missed out!  Book 84 – In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote.  Haven’t read it, and it’s not the kind of work I’d ever choose to read so I am unlikely to do so.  Book 85 – The Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath.  I have read Plath’s poetry and it doesn’t connect with me; I am not sure whether her style or language would draw me into a longer narrative.  The sense of negativity and despair in her work can be overwhelming, and I don’t want to surround myself with that feeling.  Book 86 – Portnoy’s Complaint, by Philip Roth.  This sounds like the most unlikely of all books on the list to ever go onto my reading list. Book 87 – Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont, by Elizabeth Taylor.  I like the sound of this one and will add it to my list for the future.  Book 88 – Rabbit Redux, by John Updike.  I will definitely seek out the Rabbit books, but I have to read things in order so I’ll start at the beginning of the series.

Phew – book lists are exhausting!!

And finally – as this blog is getting very long I’ll just say I have signed up to do a 5 week course in something a little random, starting this Friday coming.   This is, after all, the year of doing stuff.  Will tell you more next week…

Happy writing,



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