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I’m not sure if I’ve used this picture before but if I have it’s long enough ago for everyone to have forgotten, I hope!

Passion

 

For those of you who don’t recognise this, it’s a passion flower.

This particular plant is a tenacious little thing. I had it in a pot, it got ripped out by small children and left like a handful of twigs on the edge of my garden – and from that scrubby bit of half-dead birds-nest material a bushy climber began colonising a corner of my house.

I have had to cut it back many times but it returns, year after year, to take back its place.  Even when I’ve cut it back, the coils of its tendrils still hang on to wires and other plants.  Its glossy leaves and inside-out flowers are beautiful and I wish I could let it grow as vast and luxurious as it would like.

That plant behaves exactly like I should behave.  It never gave up, it strove for a place in the world.  It absorbed whatever material it could to make a difference and improve its lot.  It held on even when it seemed hopeless.  And it bloomed: no matter how many obstacles were put in its way it found a way to succeed.

I need to be a force of nature.  I need to write with determination, to fight for my place in the writing world, and hold on to whatever gives me strength so I can build on that position.

I need passion for writing – and I have it.  If you want to make writing a key part of your life, you need to have it too.

Happy writing,

EJ

🙂

 

 

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This week I’ve struggled to find writing time – with family events including a big birthday party for my partner, helping arrange an event for the local charity I support, and illness (my own this time!), writing has slipped down the list of priorities.

Getting ready for my partner’s party, I was looking out a list of songs that were #1 singles on this date going back as far as I could, and I found this.  I love a bit of Bowie and clearly I am an 80’s girl at heart as that’s what I nearly always share!

Back to writing – I do have a new idea for the current novel but I’m going to scope that out during my retreat when I can give full attention to it; I was inspired by one of the books I’ll be talking about on Tuesday to think about the book in a more flexible way…

I’m also preparing to contact more agents which I want to do before I go away; my target is another 2 this week.  As I am going to be in rehearsals for a play every day the week after I might not get any more done before retreat but hopefully when I come back I’ll find out I won the competition I entered and I’ll have an agent.

I may as well keep the faith, after all!!

In other news – This week we’re on book 29, Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy on the 100 novels list. This is one of those I can’t remember if I read or not, back in my studious student days; I know I’ve read some Hardy prose and am not convinced I enjoyed it but it may have been Tess.  Oh, for a better memory…

And finally – I’ve been looking into writing competitions; one I saw might be of interest to some of you guys.  It’s The Bridport Prize, and is an annual competition across various categories.  The closing date is 31 May so have a look if you’re thinking of sending work off and don’t know where to start.

Until next time, happy writing,

EJ

🙂

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This week, I’ve tried to fill in some blanks in my to-do list; it goes back a while so am feeling a little better for it, but I am a bit frustrated not to have finished off more!

Firstly, I chased my outstanding responses from agents.  It’s always a bit unnerving – there’s a comfort in not knowing – but I also want to make sure I have explored the options in full.

Then I prepared some more submissions to go out – I had intended to hold off due to the competition but decided that the likelihood of winning was so small that waiting was simply a way to waste a few months.

Unfortunately the requirements are a little different so I have had to re-work my synopsis, but at least it’s done!

I’ve also been revisiting some early writing exercises.  This might seem a bit weird when I’m supposed to be planning my next book, but I wanted to try freewriting my story line to see if it would help me answer a few questions I have.  It’s a work in progress but if it works I’m going to try this approach for my characters too.  I know who they are and what they want but I need to make them live a little.

This idea came about when I was looking for exercises for the next writing group; I hope the group find the exercise as useful as I always have…

So that’s a start of my to-do list being done; here’s hoping for another few ticks next week!

In other news – I missed book 25 (Jerome K Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat) of the list – I haven’t read it but it sounds light enough to try after the one I’m just finishing off so I’ll see if I can download it.  We’ve now reached book 26, The Sign of Four, by Arthur Conan Doyle.  Again, I haven’t read it and I’m not convinced I’ll enjoy a full-length Sherlock story but I have got it and I will give it a go sometime soon.

Also – Recently one of my cousins posted a link about speed-reading, and then I saw this article, and I felt obliged to talk about it!  The purpose of the various bits of software is to get you through a book as quickly as possible. Now, I generally read pretty fast, but the speed of these things is ridiculous and I don’t understand the purpose for most people – why rush a good book and finish in an hour or two, and not have taken on board the ideas, concepts, motifs etc…  It might be useful for people behind on their deadlines I guess – but maybe not for people who read for pleasure and like to linger in a comfy chair with a packet of biscuits and their latest tome!

And finally – I’d like to say hi to all my new followers – well, all my followers actually!  I really appreciate your support and encouragement as the blog undergoes another round of changes 🙂

I hope you are all enjoying the new Thursday posts and the more in-depth challenge updates on Tuesdays – please do let me know what you think!

Until Tuesday,

Happy writing,

EJ

🙂

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The last two weeks have been quite productive: I’ve finished reading the guide to the paranormal book (well, the relevant parts anyway!), I’ve sent my manuscript to a writing contest, I’ve done some multi-purpose research (I’m researching for a quiz but have been able to use the experience to weave an idea into my story), and I’ve started my next stage of research.

All in all, I’m ready to start planning out the next novel!

I’m keeping an open mind about how the idea will progress, but I’m going to be strict about cutting superfluous themes and scenes this time – any ideas I have that don’t fit will be recorded somewhere else for future use or reference only.

I’m keen to get going, but I’m trying to be really methodical and make sure I don’t make the mistakes I did on the woods book – which is now calling out for me to work on it even though I’m not sure what the fix will be yet!

The next step will be a short synopsis of the whole thing, of about a page, and from there I can identify other areas I need to research, as well as start planning how I get from the beginning to the end…

In other news – We’ve reached books 21 and 22 in the 100 books list.  Book 21 was Middlemarch, by George Eliot which I have read and actually enjoyed a lot; I found it much more interesting than some of the contemporaneous books.  I wanted to read it after seeing the BBC adaption with Rufus Sewell – can’t think why he drew me in!

Book 22 is The Way We Live Now, by Anthony Trollope which I haven’t read but I have put on my reading list – hopefully I’ll get to him in the course of the reading challenge!

And finally – I read a very interesting, and thought-provoking, article this week about earnings for self-publishers and the relationship between publishers and writers.  I haven’t analysed the original data yet – although I’m very grateful that data has been provided so freely!  Until I do I don’t know how easy it is to extrapolate  from it in a wider sense, because the source of the data is Amazon and therefore already has an in-built skew towards e-books, but it makes a lot of sense to me that earnings % is higher per unit for self-published books.  My own experience of looking at publishers shows that with all the various steps (from me through an agent through a publisher through a physical manufacture through to the point of sale) each one diminishes the end payment I will receive. The other point to consider here is that many e-books from traditional publishers are similar or the same in price to a physical version whereas a lot of self-published are cheaper than a physical book, which (to me) seems unreasonable.

A higher earnings % doesn’t mean higher earnings though, and it doesn’t mean all self-publishing will lead to a living wage!  But most writers know that writing isn’t a big earner for the most part, and there is a debate to be had about what is a reasonable amount to make, 5 wise, per book.

This debate will continue, and there will be more data analysed in the future; if you’re considering what way to go with your own book this issue is an important factor to consider.

I’ll leave it there for today – it’s been a busy day and I’m exhausted!

Happy writing,

EJ

🙂

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I said a couple of weeks ago that I was looking into a competition. The details were given to me by a friend in my writing group and it’s a first novel competition for unpublished writers.

The prize is incredibly good and worth a great deal to any writer; it is however only open to unpublished writers which makes it even more amazing! It’s so good, in fact, I would be an idiot not to do it.

To enter, I have to send my work, a mini biography and a synopsis, all things I have ready to go.  But when I was preparing the paperwork to print off and send, I started thinking about ways to improve the submission.  I haven’t really read any of it for months, I just print it or attach it and send it whenever I need to do so.  This time, I’ve had a break from it, and I can see it in a more detached way.

So I looked at what I was sending.  I won’t change the novel much, although I have decided not to submit the prologue.  It hasn’t necessarily been cut forever, just left off this submission due to word count limitations.

The synopsis is being properly, and carefully, reviewed.  I need it to grab the judges so they engage with the potential of the story as well as enjoying my writing – I need them to see there is a market for this work and that it is the kind of market that makes taking a risk worthwhile.

I’m also trying to make the biography more dynamic – I’m trying to sell my ideas and the better I explain myself, the more the judges will understand my vision.  That’s the theory anyway…

In the meantime, research on the next novel continues – but this’ll be a boring blog if I just say that every week until the end of April!

I did have a little burst of inspiration this week, heading home from an eye appointment.  This idea needs me to collaborate with someone – I have an idea who, but I haven’t approached them yet.  It feels exciting and like I have a great secret, just thinking about the story, so that’s got to be a good sign, right?

In other news – we’re up to Book 18 in the best novels list – Alice in Wonderland.  I’m reading it now; I can’t remember ever having read it before though.  I won’t say too much here as I’m going to comment on it on Thursday, but I’m enjoying it!

And finally – I’ve told you before that I set up a writing group as I couldn’t find one I was happy with – well, after a few months getting everyone to have a go at different styles of writing, we are now up and running.  It’s been great so far; positive, supportive and rewarding, and I really recommend that for any of you who can’t find a group you like, to set one up yourself.  You can meet in pubs, cafes, libraries – wherever suits you and keeps costs down.

I’ll tell you how it’s progressing another time, but for today it’s time to pack up and relax!

Until next time, happy writing,

EJ

🙂

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With barely more than 48 hours left of 2013, I have been looking at this year’s progress and where I need to get to in the next few weeks.

This time last year, I was still working on the family tree novel.  Now, after the waiting game I’ve played with agents, I have decided to speed up the agent approaches and work out a timetable for possible self-publishing.  It’s still not my preference but I didn’t write the book to let it sit in a drawer for the rest of my life!

I now want to give some attention to increasing my public profile. My blog merrily flows onwards but I really need to gain more followers; I should sort out a Facebook and twitter account. This is all possible outside of my personal pages so I’ll target those things for January.

As part of that, I’ll add more of my own prose to the blog for feedback and comments to see what I need to improve, and what works well.

Alongside that I want to do more poetry performances and perhaps make them a regular event – say once a quarter so I have time to write new material. As the poetry exists under my own name and not my writing name, I can keep the two separate which will please any agent I do eventually secure!

But all good things must end, and I think I’ll have to start looking for paid work in the new year too – it’ll mean less time for writing but looking on the positive side, it’ll give me new things to write about!  Besides, I am saving up for something important and it’ll all be worth it!

In other news – Book number 14 on the 100 best novels list is Vanity Fair.  I think I’ve read it, and I’ve certainly watched both tv and film versions of it!  I can’t remember much about it though so I think it might be one I go back to.

And finally – I’d like to wish you all a happy, peaceful and creative 2014.  This year has been difficult at times, but there has also been love, laughter and happiness – and a great sense of camaraderie, including on WordPress.  I want to thank you all for commenting, reading and liking posts, and following the blog 🙂

Until next year – happy writing!

EJ

🙂

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This week an agency response got me thinking about my writing future.

The agent has decided not to take fiction submissions any more. She was very kind and apologetic but she explained that, due to the difficulties in the fiction market at the moment, she was concentrating on non fiction works.

After mulling it over for a couple of days I responded very politely and with a couple of questions. Long story short, she gave me the name of another agent today, who I contacted this evening.

But the exchange left me with the distinct impression that now is a bad time to enter the market, at least via traditional routes.  Typical of my timing, really…

From an agent’s point of view, it seems there is a risk in taking on new authors; from a publisher’s point of view the more reliable sales are known names; the book-buying public would rather get an e-book for 30p than a paperback for £7.99.

All these things make sense, because of the financial position we are in.  But books still sell, and writers are still making a living from what they do.  So what do the bestsellers have going for them?

Well, look at this list of the bestselling books in the UK for last week.  Bridget Jones is on twice for some reason (which I will ignore), and is the continuation of a popular series.  Michael Connelly’s book is also the continuation of a series.  There are three autobiographies appealing to different groups of fans – music, sport, television. David Walliams is a very well-known TV name in the UK; he has written 6 books for children, and already had one televised (in which he also played a character), with another coming along.  Josephine Cox has written a number of books, over at least a decade.  Liane Moriaty has been published since 2004.

None of these people are starting from scratch – they are either established writers, or well-known celebrities.  The second group will always find it easier to get an agent and to get published than the ‘average’ writer – they have less hoops to jump through.

With both groups the marketing has expanded over a period of years; no new writer can hope to achieve that level of goodwill straight away.

You could argue that there are new writers doing extremely well – EL James for example.  Remember that her work was on the back of the Twilight series, which in itself gave her a head start.

There’s no easy way into the market.  E-books are an option for the frustrated writer, but being seen in a sea of books is hard. Besides, there are still many e-books that are released when they are not quite ready for publication, which has a negative impact on the perception of some self-published work.  Prejudices may change – but not quickly.

All you can do is persist.  Keep sending your work to agents, keep trying to get it seen.  Keep trying to make it the best it can be so if you do opt for self publishing its quality will stand out.  Don’t take rejection personally, and raise your profile so that an agent will see your commitment and joy in writing.   Keep working for it and thinking positively and who knows, one day you could get the ‘yes’ you desire.

There is a problem with publishing now, but that doesn’t mean you should give up on your dreams.  You just need to work a little harder to get there.

Good luck

EJ

🙂

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I knew it would happen one day – I forgot completely that it was Sunday and just as Midnight came and Monday rolled in, I realised I should have written a blog post for you.

So I did what any self-respecting writer would do, and I scrabbled around trying to make 400 words out of thin air.  And I give you – the week that was…

  • I did some editing of the novel (hurrah!) and some more poetry (yee ha!)
  • I went to open mike night (cool!) and got an agency rejection (boo!)
  • I missed the start of my new course (hmm!) and got some boring paperwork done (phew!)

There was lots more to it, of course – but these were the writing-related things that I can remember.

Editing was fine, although I haven’t looked at the manuscript for longer than I thought so it was a bit hard to get back into the flow.  The poetry was and will be fine – I am comfortable with the idea that it’ll change over time and that’s quite exciting to me actually, to see changes in my life blend with my older poetry to give it a different tone.

I won’t say much about the open mike as I spoke about it on Thursday – except to say it was a good night out regardless of my own readings!

The agency rejection wasn’t upsetting – I have zoned out in a way, as there’s nothing I can do to change minds.  I do need to send the book out to another couple of agents this week though.  Meanwhile, the poetry gives me my own little lifestyle and I quite enjoy that.  As it’s not something I expect to publish, I am considering self-publishing a small pamphlet to sell at any performances; I’ve seen it done before and I think it’ll be a sensible thing to do for a small expenditure.  I’ll be setting up a separate blog for that too, eventually.

The course will be a loss if I don’t do it, as it’s about writing historical fiction; it’s a way back into my first NaNo piece or my book 4 (was 3) which is set in 1950s, I think…

And the paperwork was paperwork.  There’s not a lot more to say about it than that!

So there you go – a mixed bag of a week but the next one starts here!

In other news – My travels through the 100 best novels has reached number 4 – ‘Clarissa’.  So far I have read none of the books, but I do remember seeing this on TV in my youth: it must have affected me more than I realised as so much of the story came to mind when I saw this book on the list.  To be honest, I am extremely unlikely to read this one.  Better luck next time, I hope…

As it’s so very, very late I’ll leave it there for tonight – let me know if you’ve read the book though, I’ll be interested to know if my memory of the story is as accurate as I think.  Or, indeed, if it was a good adaptation.

Happy writing,

EJ

🙂

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Today’s post is shorter than normal as I hosted a dinner party tonight so I’m running late!

This week was quite bitty and unstructured, but I got a fair bit done.

I contacted the agency I haven’t yet heard from; they confirmed that all submissions get a response but it might take up to 10 weeks.  I’m glad I checked, but I’m also glad I submitted to other agencies.  If I wait 10 weeks every time, it could be 2016 before I get through my list!  I’ll keep an eye out for responses, of course, but will do new submissions every few weeks in the meantime.

It was also my second writing group this week.  The work from our writing to music exercise had gone really well, and everyone had done something original and different, despite all starting with the same piece of music.  We’re on to flash fiction for next time, and heading off to an open mike event in a few days. My piece ended up being nearly 1000 words, and I think will become a short story in time.  We’ll be presenting out progress on them in December (over Christmas drinks!) so I’ve got until then to decide.

I’ve been developing some new skills this week too – I’ve gone a bit vintage and am learning how to knit and crochet!  The crochet is for an event I am supporting in October, and the knitting is something my mum decided to teach me…  They are great for writing breaks; I can completely clear my mind of the story because I have to concentrate so much on what I’m doing.  They are also a timely reminder of the importance of weaving things together!  See – writing is everywhere if you look 🙂

Meanwhile the work continues; I didn’t get as much done as I’d planned this week so have to catch up over the next couple of days but progress is reasonably steady.  I’ve concentrated on book 2 this week for a number of personal reasons, and expect that’ll be the case for the next few weeks.

Due to my lack of time and general organisation, I’ve got no ‘in other news’ for today so I’ll find extra for next time!

There you go – a week in less than 400 words; not bad for me!

Happy writing,

EJ

🙂

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Thank you for your patience – normal services will now be resumed…!

Last Sunday I said I’d be spending this week working on new writing, novel 2 revisions, poetry, the piece for writing group and submissions to agents.  Well, the week didn’t turn out quite like that for a number of reasons, but I did do some work on the two novels and I have sent the family tree novel out to another couple of agents.

Let’s start with the agents as that’s the most important!  I found the submission process far easier this time round; not only because I did on-line submissions (much less stressful!) but also because I know now that I can manage my expectations better than I thought.  I have a plan if no-one picks up the book, but I also know I have a lot of people I can contact before I get to that point.  I still felt the familiar increase in heart rate, but it passed much more quickly.  So anyone who is worrying about doing it – it truly does get easier with time!

I now have to decide if I send it to a couple more or wait the 6-8 weeks for a response…  Not a bad position to be in, really!

The revisions to book two have stepped up a pace – although when I describe what I’m doing it sounds like a step backwards!  Basically, I have re-written the bios with the new info I’m going to include: that means I’ve also written new biogs for the characters who are going to be substantially more important in the new story.  I’ve worked out the new structure too.  Now, I’ve started the book all over again, copying over the sections I want to keep and filling the gaps chronologically.  It sounds complicated and annoying but actually it’s working really well – I’ve retained what I really like and what works, and I’m making sure there are no gaps, irritations or anachronisms.  As I started writing the book up last November, I’m giving myself a deadline of 31 October to get it sorted, ready for a proper edit. What better time to finish off a book with supernatural elements (real or imagined) than Halloween?!

Book 3 has slowed down, and I think I need to go off the freewrite process and sort a complete plan out to keep it going now; I’m so happy where I’ve got to already, but I don’t want to make the same mistakes with that as I have with book 2.  I’ll carry on working on this alongside the revisions as it makes me happy to do new work at the same time as large scale editing – well, it stops me tearing my hair out, anyway!

However, there has been no poetry and no work on the piece for writing group.  I have less than 48 hours until writing group so I’ll get going on that piece next!

All in all, it’s been a reasonably satisfactory week.  Plus I got to go to a country fair, see parachutists, watch a wild bird display, and spend time with my lovely friends and family so not bad going at all!  And I might even have booked a public performance for poetry too – but more on that when I know more 🙂

In other news – as this post is so long, I’ll keep this brief!  If you have a look here, you’ll find details of a number of authors and their favourite words.  Some are funny, some are bonkers and some are beautiful.  Have a look and see if any inspire you.  My favourite word is rude so I won’t write it here, but of the list I rather like plop.  Onomatopoeias rule!

Happy writing

EJ

🙂

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