Thursday, 22 September 2011

I Got A Kindle For My Birthday!

I received a Kindle for my birthday yesterday. I love it! Much more than I thought I would. So far the biggest advantage over a book is that you can lie it flat, so that you can read while eating, typing at the computer or peeling the veg! I also like the fact that some books are a lot cheaper to buy and all your fiction is in one place. Like Rosemary, it's great to read a Kindle in bed (I recommend getting a case with a light fitted). So good on holiday, when you may not take the 'real' books you're in the mood for. With the Kindle you can browse and buy while you're away. Of course, the Kindle takes up much less space in a bag or suitcase than several books would. I also like the fact you can transfer your own work-in-progress on to it. 

I will continue to read and buy 'real' books, because I love the way they look, smell and feel. I have hundreds of books on my shelves, many unread, and I'm not going to abandon them.

And the first thing I downloaded on to my Kindle? A novel by Penny Feeny, who is a regular contributor to The Yellow Room and who also wrote many stories for QWF. It's a good read so far!

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this wonderful little gadget!

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Clifton Hall and The Novel!

Clifton Hall After Restoration
Clifton Hall Before Restoration
Interior of Clifton Hall Before Restoration
Interior of Clifton Hall After Restoration

Clifton Hall (see photos above) has always fascinated me. As a child, I could see it from my bedroom window at the top of Chestnut Lane in Clifton Campville. It had been a ruin for many years, so it was wonderful to see it restored to its former glory at the beginning of this century! Richard Blunt has done an amazing job. He very kindly emailed me a stack of photos of Clifton Hall before and after the renovation work. 

The Hall features in my novel, under a slightly different name. I had no idea what it looked like inside, having never even got close to the building. I simply used my imagination. So, it was rather spooky to see the photos of the interior yesterday and realising that the rooms were just how I imagined them to be! 

I'm now working on the final draft of the novel and want to try and secure an agent for it by Christmas (ever the optimist!). 

The new Short Story Clinic is going well and I have lots of paid editing work to do. I’m just about to start proofreading stories for Issue 7 of The Yellow Room.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Lacking Focus

Do you ever get those days when you can't settle to anything for very long and you can't decide what it is you need to do first? I can't stand those sort of days and I get them often.

My mind is jabbering away in the background, nagging me and reminding me of all those jobs that need to be done. I just want to put my hands over my ears and yell, Stop!

I made sure I did some writing first thing, however. Once the children had got off to school, I printed off a list of flash prompts and wrote straight onto screen for about half an hour, using most of the prompts on the page. It felt very much like joining the dots. I enjoyed it, though, and produced just over 1,000 words of reasonable prose. Quite what its use will be, who knows?

I did a little bit of Yellow Room admin (the competition entries are gradually trickling in), but was niggled by the thought of having to go to town and do some grocery shopping (boo, hiss!). I thought I'd get this over and done with, and really wish I'd sat at my computer for longer.

I have several writing projects on the go, as well as some paid editing work to do (four short stories), competition entries to read, the next Yellow Room to prepare for typesetting and some reading for research (we won't mention the massive ironing pile and the general state of the house and garden!). The writing projects are bothering me, as I feel I really should be focusing on one thing at a time instead of hopping about between the novel, the pocket novel, stories for competitions, preparing stories for The Scott Prize anthology competition and writing stories for the women's magazines. I flit between each project like a demented butterfly and don't feel as if I'm giving any of them my best shot.

And breathe.......

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Back to School!

It felt good waving my children off to school this morning. Both of them seemed rather excited at the prospect of a new school year. Megan starts Year 5 at primary and Matt starts Sixth Form.

It was bliss to walk back into an empty house! I love solitude, I have to confess. I went straight to the Mac and began thrashing out a new short story aimed at the women's magazine market. I've recently been encouraged by the Fiction Editor at People's Friend, after she wanted to see a rewrite of a story of mine she was very keen on. I've also been plugging away at my pocket novel set during The Blitz in London. Thank goodness I've almost finished it!

I tend to write in short sharp bursts. I can manage about 1,000 words in half an hour before I stall and need a break. I envy those writers who can keep ploughing on regardless and who can sit at their computers for a 12 hour stretch. I get restless after about an hour.

I've noticed that I get stuck in a scene very easily. With the pocket novel, I've learned that I have to make a character walk out or switch to a new scene when this happens. I somehow feel I have to resolve each scene before moving on, but of course fiction doesn't work like that. I can leave two characters in a room without any resolution being reached. I think I'm finally learning how to leave a scene 'hanging' or 'suspended in the ether'.

On the running front, things aren't too dire. I managed to do just over 4 miles today. My foot hurt at the beginning and I felt I was hobbling a bit towards the end, but the middle bit was fine! I've been doing my plantar fascia exercises and they do seem to help.

Oh look, it's nearly school pick-up time. Where did the hours go? Oh well, I can do it all again tomorrow and the day after that, and the day after that. Phew!