Showing posts from August, 2010


Writing.Com will be ten years old tomorrow and will be celebrating from 1st to 10th September with birthday themed writing contests and special activities.

There'll be prizes and giveaways of over 10 million Gift Points and if  you're already a member, you'll be gifted 1,000 points per day just for logging into your account. is an online community for writers of all interests and skill levels.

Summer waves goodbye

This last week of the summer holidays has taken me away from my writing as I prepare for my children's return to school. Already, autumn whispers in with it's cool breezes but before the holiday season is over, I thought I'd share some old summer photographs with you and a poem (not written by me) too.

See you in the autumn.

Joy Is Measured
Joy is touched through that we touch daily. golden light stripes the wall in morning as apparition appearing (though no false god this!) to silently nudge slumber with a most gentle alarm of holiday dream. was it a dream? - no matter. to heat, to water! to the green depths of lake that curtain summer stage. a dive, then first breath, the slow  blurring of edges, the lack of form between things. soon a plot unfolds. cloud and shadow scheme, draw plans on distant hills while breeze, waiting in the wing, rehearse with wave their entrance and exit, the tricky part, all the while whistling vaguely in the manner of summer. ah yes, summer. the season meant to rem…

Calling all scriptwriters - a competition for you

The people at Scripped are holding a scriptwriting contest in partnership with They're looking for a tennis related low budget script.

For further details and how to enter, follow this link.

Writing about where you live

Image by EraPhernalia Vintage via Flickr This links back to 'drawing from your life experience'. The block of flats you walk by on the way to the bus stop or the railway station you use on a morning can all provide locations in your writing.

I've lived in various areas of England and Wales, and beyond that family connections have leant further familiarity to places in Yorkshire and Scotland. I can picture my home town with great detail, even though I don't live there anymore and have used that city for one of my novels (as yet unpublished).

The first few murder mystery plays written for Murdering The Text were based in and around an imaginary market town called Dedleigh. Dedleigh is based on several similar towns in Yorkshire.

A children's novel that I wrote a few years ago (again, unpublished) used a house and area where I lived near Croydon, Surrey.

In the novel I'm currently writing, the future set, modern city is completely imagined but the old town where th…

Progress with my novel

Actual writing of my novel has slowed down as the rest of my life seems to have taken over during the summer holidays. However, I've come to the conclusion that the title 'Split' isn't the right one for my novel so I'm thinking on that one. The title 'Dark Divide' keeps coming to mind but I'm not 100% sold on that either. I think the novel itself will probably supply a title from the words of one of the characters. Fingers crossed.

The second development has been a realisation of the arc of my story and how it will expand into the other two books in the trilogy. A seemingly minor character in the first book will crop up again and a storyline mentioned in passing in book one will carry us through to the final instalment. A second minor character from book one will provide a large part of the storyline in book two and this will involve a new magic user who uses jewellery and stones to influence people.

That all sounds quite vague but I'm pleased that …

Another competition for you

As a writer, I always look forward to getting my yearly copy of the Writers and Artists Yearbook. An incredibly useful resource of listings for publishers and agents, it also includes an excellent range of articles on different areas of writing.

You can win a copy of the Writers and Artists Yearbook 2011 or the Children's Writers and Artists Yearbook 2011 by visiting this link. I've entered already. Good luck!

Win a book!

Image via Wikipedia Fans of sci fi, fantasy and the writer, Peter F Hamilton should get over to the Pan Macmillan site where they're holding a competition to win a signed copy of Peter F Hamilton's novel, The Evolutionary Void.

The Evolutionary Void is the concluding volume in the Void Trilogy. It is tentatively scheduled for a worldwide release in September 2010.

Peter also has a blog if you'd like to keep up with the latest news about his writing.

Here's the link to the competition page.

Do you back up?

I trusted my laptop computer completely, until one day it died. As it happened, I was mid-write, working on a murder mystery play. I was on the final straight, approaching the finish line and *puff* the screen went blank. I quietly cursed my laptop as I tried to remember whether I'd saved recently. What I'd written was still fresh in my mind though so past the initial annoyance, it wasn't a disaster.

I pressed the 'On' button. Nothing happened. I checked the power supply which was fine and pressed the 'On' button again. The laptop remained lifeless on my lap. Fighting the rising panic, I tried again. Still, there was no response. My laptop was dead.

At that time, I was not in the habit of backing up but thankfully everything was not lost as my husband, an IT bod, managed to strip down my laptop and rescue the hard drive. Still, it taught me a particularly important lesson - back up your files.

I now back up on a regular basis onto a separate hard disk. It m…

Drawing from your life experience

Write what you know. That phrase comes up time and time again in creative writing tutorials. For many years I dismissed this piece of advice, not through disrespect but because the story ideas I had required me to write about things I didn't know. I didn't know about living in a Tolkien-esque world. I didn't know about fighting in a battle. I certainly didn't know about grieving the death of a loved one.

In my early twenties, I attended a writing class run by a very talented poet called Pat Borthwick. Pat placed great value on life experience and encouraged us to use our memories and every day lives to enrich our writing.

Most of my class members were older than me and it seemed at the time that they had so much more 'life' to write from compared to my own twenty or so years. There was a wonderful American lady in her sixties or seventies who had lived in Burma for many years. If I remember rightly, her husband was a diplomat connected with the American Embassy…

Photo Inspiration

Taken from old slides that I recently scanned in.

An interview with Christina Katz

Christina Katz is the author of Get Known Before the Book Deal, Use Your Personal Strengths to Grow an Author Platform and Writer Mama, how to Raise a Writing Career Alongside Your Kids for Writer's Digest Books. She has written hundreds of articles for national, regional, and online publications, presents at literary and publishing events around the country, and is a monthly columnist for the Williamette Writer. Katz publishes a weekly e-zine, The Prosperous Writer, and hosts The Northwest Author Series. She holds an MFA in writing from Columbia College Chicago and a BA from Dartmouth College. A "gentle taskmaster" to her hundred or so students each year, Katz channels over a decade of professional writing experience into success strategies that help writers get on track and get published.
Q: What is a platform?
CK: Long story short. Your platform communicates your expertise to others, and it works all the time so you don't have to. Your platform includes your Web pre…

7 ways to boost your creativity

1. Be a child
One of the biggest lessons my children have taught me is how to play. To them, there is a world of magic and adventure in our garden. They look at a fallen leaf and see a fairy boat to be floated on our pond. The space behind a tree, hidden from the path, is a hiding place for mythical beasties. Even an oddly shaped cloud is a dragon flying in for a visit.
As adults going through the daily grind, we often spend so much time concentrating on the tasks ahead of us that we forget to look at the possibilities around us. Next time you have a moment to spare, take a look at the world through the eyes of the child that you once were.
2. Turn your hand to a different artistic skill
If you're a writer, try drawing or painting. If you're a painter, try singing or playing a musical instrument. If you're a musician, try to sculpt with clay. Just because you seek success in one artistic area, doesn't mean that you can't try your hand at another. I love writing but whe…

Is your story an ugly duckling?

Sometimes you can look at a seed and know exactly what it will grow into. Other times it's more a case of the ugly duckling who grows into a beautiful swan - who knew? Either scenario is fine as long as you allow your youngling idea a little room to grow.
The idea for my novel is an excellent example of the duckling and swan scenario. What started out as a Tolkien-esque fantasy novel took several turns before I moved it to a new setting - a version of our future. As soon as I made that change, the novel took on a new, refreshed identity.
One of my favourite characters, Born started out as a bit part - an assassin who would fail and die quite early in the novel. From that, her character developed emotionally, falling in love with another villain and ultimately being destroyed by his death. In the current version of the novel, in it's future setting, she's different again.
Don't be afraid to let your story and characters change if they're not working. It's all part …

The Sitcom Skirmish

You can now find the sitcom writing journey of my husband and me on a new blog called 'The Sitcom Skirmish'.
"This blog is all about the journey - the journey from a writer's perspective of having a written pilot in front of them (which they themselves think is a potential hit) to taking it through to its naural conclusion.
The best case scenario is obviously international renown, BAFTA awards, a knighthood, winning the Nobel Peace Prize, bronze statues being erected in the nation's capital etc. The worst case is a simple journey of experience and the script lining the floor of our guinea pig cage..."

The script for the pilot is almost finished. Follow 'The Sitcom Skirmish' to find out what we do next.

Books on this Blog

When I started listing books that I had mentioned on this blog via two widgets on the right hand column of this page, I didn't realise quite how long and unwieldy that list would become.
I have now replaced the widget with a link which leads to a page that I've set up on Amazon. I'm not selling the books myself but Amazon may just pay me a small tip, should you like my list sufficiently to make a purchase. Alternatively, use the information on there to find out about the book and then go borrow it from your local library. The choice is yours.
Happy reading.

The Power of Three

All good things come in threes, or so they say. But when three bad things happen, people often say, "Well, that's your three over with now".
Three is a number that appears to permeate almost every area of human culture. In the world of mathematics, three is a prime number (divisible only by one and itself). Three sides and three angles form a triangle, often seen by mathematicians as the 'perfect shape'. Scientifically, three is the number of constituents of an atom and we perceive our world through three dimensions. In religion, there is the Christian Trinity, the Hindu Trimerti and the Three Jewels of Buddhism.
The list goes on and on. We seem to love, fear and sometimes worship the concept of 'three'. Storytellers are no different. Where would the Greek tale-spinners have been without their Three Fates? Shakespeare chose to feature three witches in his Scottish Play (oh, all right then, Macbeth). There are Three Musketeers and three books in the Lord of…

The Prosperous Writer

I mentioned Christina Katz's website and newsletter, The Prosperous Writer earlier this year. Since the beginning of January, she has been providing a weekly article on the qualities of prosperous writers. I thought you might be interested to hear what she has mentioned so far.
1. Dedication 2. Self Respect 3. Focus 4. Service 5. Perseverance 6. Passion 7. Containment 8. Humility 9. Saleable 10. Accountability 11. Good Health 12. Balance 13. Creativity 14. Experience 15. Bravery 16. Groundedness 17. Happiness 18. Self Producing 19. Strong Boundaries 20. Clarity 21. Authenticity 22. Commitment 23. Vision 24. Slightly Dissatisfied (my personal favourite so far) 25. Rhythmic 26. Joyful 27. Integrated 28. Empowerment 29. Polite 30. Busy
If you'd like to subscribe to this helpful and informative newsletter, visit her website.


Today is not only the first day of August but also Lammas, pagan celebration of the first harvest of the year, the early crop.
As the plants in your garden are still growing, so your plans are continuing and ongoing. This is the time to take pleasure in what you've achieved so far this year and look ahead with happy expectation to continuing that journey.
My children and I will be making bread loaves today to eat with our Sunday roast. My daughter wants to shape hers into a doll and my son's will probably end up being an alien from Ben 10. I think I'll make some plaited bread loaves myself. If you decide to make bread today too, then don't forget to leave the crumbs out for the birds.
Have a wonderful day.