Wednesday, 31 December 2014

What have I done this year?

It's that time again, the breath before the final leap into the new year. It's that chance to take a moment to look back before we shut the door on the old year, to check over our intentions for then and our wishes for the future.

Back in January, I talked about what I had accomplished in 2013 and how I wanted to approach 2014. I think I managed to maintain that wish to see my life, good and bad, with new, refreshed eyes.

Later that month, and again in February, I set myself a reading list. I got around halfway through that list, reading some wonderful novels and poetry. The rest are for next year's reading list.

Towards the end of February, I began a new series of blog posts - Something Useful for 2014 - that provided my readers with monthly writing exercises. That's something I'll be continuing in 2015, along with my monthly photo inspiration posts.

In the first half of the year, I took customer commissions for three separate murder mystery plays which I managed to write in record time. All three productions, Dead Fit, The Pecking Order and Festive Reapings went ahead successfully in 2014.

In April, my article on deadlines was featured on the Work from Home Wisdom website whom I also wrote for in 2013.

In May, I took on the 100 Happy Days challenge, taking a photo of something that made me happy for one hundred days. You can see my photographs on my Tumblr blog, What I See, What I Hear, What I Am.

In June, I reviewed Suzanna William's YA sci fi novel, Ninety-Five Percent Human, and in September, I reviewed A is for Angelica by Iain Broome. Then in November, I reviewed and announced the release of the YA paranormal novel Dark is the Sea by Heather Blanchard.

In November, I took part in NaNoWriMo and while I didn't accomplish the 50,000 word target, I did make it halfway through the first draft of my second novel in the Haven series. I'll take that up again in January.

Throughout the year, I rewrote my novel for the 12+ age group and gave it a new title. The final draft of Haven: Shadowbinder was submitted to the Writers Workshop for a manuscript assessment in December.

So that's it for this blog and my writing for 2014. On a personal note, I lost more weight (down to a small size 14) and maintained my healthy eating plan. It's been a good year, despite several health scares and niggles, and 2015 looks to be even better.

The new year is peering round the corner. Here's to a good one that is kind to us all.

Friday, 26 December 2014

Festive Reapings


Yes, you did read that right. Festive Reapings is the third of the customer commissioned murder mystery plays that I wrote this year. With a cast of three men and five women, this murder mystery has a Christmas theme.

Things aren't going well in the Grotto at Fairman's department store. The fairy has been sacked, Santa is drunk in the gents toilet, and to top it all, there are hardly any customers. What else could go wrong?


Festive Reapings had its first outing in November this year and you can find more photos of the Purley Players' production here.

Find more details about this murder mystery on the Murdering the Text website.

Thursday, 25 December 2014

The big day is here


And I just wanted to say 'Merry Christmas' to you all. Thank you for visiting my blog this year and leaving all your lovely comments.

Wherever you are and whoever you spend it with, have a wonderful time. May the festive break bring you peace, joy and just what you need.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

A Writerly Advent Calendar - Window No. 24

I thought I'd leave this one until last because it's the best one of all. It's also free. You don't need to spend any money to buy this gift for your writerly friend.

As writers, what we often need is someone to listen, not necessarily to our work (although on occasion we would love to read aloud to you) but rather to have someone to throw ideas around with. Your opinion as a reader is incredibly valuable but your outlook on life can also be a lifesaver. Will this storyline work? Is this a good place to start? Would jelly actually do that in zero gravity?

Writing is mainly a solitary business. We writers can become blinkered to life out there in the real world and whether the words we're planting on the page actually work. We need outside input and interaction.

So next time you see your writerly friend, or speak to them on the phone, why not ask if there's anything you can do to help? It could be as simple as a cup of tea to chat. Whatever it is, it's sure to be appreciated.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

A Writerly Advent Calendar - Window No. 23


I generally have a cup of coffee to hand when I write but on occasion, a cup of tea is better. I found this set of Novel Teas on the Writers Gifts website. It contains twenty five tea bags, each one bearing a tag with a literary quote from writers such as C S Lewis and Alice Hoffman. Writers Gifts is a British website but I found an American website called Bag Ladies Tea that sells this item too. It also comes in a smaller pouch size.

If your writerly friend is a tea drinker, this one could be an ideal gift.

Monday, 22 December 2014

A Writerly Advent Calendar - Window No. 22


There was a time when I filled cupboards and shelves with my writing - pads filled with scribbles, folders overflowing with sheets of paper. Nowadays, the majority of my writing is stored on my laptop which is all fine and good if my laptop is healthy. My current laptop is quite new but in the past, laptops have died on me, to quite devastating effect. I learned my lesson though and I now have a memory stick or two, and our household has a couple of separate hard drives too (for all of our computers). I back up religiously, saving my latest writing as often as I write to ensure I never again have to suffer the loss of my creative workings.

Why not help your writerly friend to safeguard their own creations by buying them a memory stick or a separate hard drive. It could be a life saver.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

A Writerly Advent Calendar - Window No. 21

LastKiss - Etsy

I hate doing the food shop. My children get bored going round the supermarket and start to fight. My husband takes too long to peruse all the offers. We always seem to encounter the shoppers who have no idea how to drive a trolley without injuring someone. The list of complaints I have around doing a food shop is rather long.

What always brightens the event is using a shopping bag that a friend had made for me years ago for my business Murdering The Text.

Why not do the same for your writerly friends? Cheer up their shopping trips with writer and book inspired bags.








NinivzCreations - Etsy

LAMarler - Etsy

TheWritersStop - Zazzle
sadbunny - Zazzle

Saturday, 20 December 2014

A Writerly Advent Calendar - Window No. 20


I've mentioned already how I suffer from bad circulation in my hands so when I came across these writer's gloves, I did a little happy dance.

Available in Pride and Prejudice (above), The Secret Garden, A Tale of  Two Cities, Jane Eyre, Romans 12, Wuthering Heights and Little Women, each pair features quotes from your chosen novel or piece of writing.

You can buy them from Etsy store, Storiarts.

Friday, 19 December 2014

A Writerly Advent Calendar - Window No. 19


Another writer that I mention quite a lot on this blog is author, Steven Pressfield. His writing advice is helpful and thoughtful, as is his book, Turning Pro. You can discover more about this book and Steven himself on his website.

I reviewed this excellent read a couple of years ago and you can find that post here. Turning Pro would be a wonderful gift for any writer.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

A Writerly Advent Calendar - Window No. 18


Writers can become so focused on one thing that we forget about everything else. Give them a helping hand  by buying them a wall calendar. A month to a page calendar provides a writer with the chance to record deadlines and reminders. My calendar hangs close to my desk in a place that I can't miss when entering or leaving the room. I check it at least once a day and as soon as I have a deadline or appointment of any kind, I scribble it down on my calendar.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

A Writerly Advent Calendar - Window No. 17


Similar to the writerly jewellery I posted a few days ago, but a lot less subtle, is a writerly t-shirt. I love the one pictured above (find it here on Zazzle) but there's a massive choice available all over the internet.

Out of Print Clothing

The Shirt Dudes

Zazzle

Glamfoxx - Supermarket

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

A Writerly Advent Calendar - Window No. 16

Aqua Notes - www.myaquanotes.com

I don't know about you but the moment I turn on the shower or lie down in the bath, my muse comes knocking, well, splashing or poking, you know what I mean. Of course, I don't have anything to take notes on when I'm in this situation. My children long since outgrew bath letters. I do my best to keep the ideas in my brain but often I forget some details.

Aqua notes must surely be the answer. They're waterproof, to the point that you can use them underwater, and recyclable too.

Monday, 15 December 2014

A Writerly Advent Calendar - Window No. 15

Literary Gift Company

Why not buy your writer friend a writerly magnetic kit for their fridge? They can use it to kill a few minutes while the kettle is boiling, or if they're a tad stumped creatively and need a moment out?

You can find quite a varied selection at the Literary Gift Company.







Sunday, 14 December 2014

A Writerly Advent Calendar - Window No. 14

The Literary Gift Company

I don't know about you but I need caffeine to write and what better way to improve a writer's caffeine supply than with an inspirational or funny mug?

You could even buy them one that will notify people in their vicinity of the writer's busy status, like the one pictured to the left.




Saturday, 13 December 2014

A Writerly Advent Calendar - Window No. 13

There's nothing better than taking a little writerly touch along on an evening out - even if no one notices it apart from me. Why not buy your writerly friend a piece of writing related jewellery or cufflinks.

The Literary Gift Company

The Literary Gift Company

DoonyAndMoony - Etsy

JezebelCharms - Etsy

charmphilosophy - Etsy

Friday, 12 December 2014

Photo Inspiration for December


This photo was taken in a shopping centre that partly inhabits a much older building in my home town of Chester. Amidst all the festive glitter and sparkle, it caught my eye. It speaks of good will and celebration to me. What about you?

What could this face have seen? What personality does it have? Why was it first created? What does this inspire you to write?

A Writerly Advent Calendar - Window No. 12


I've already mentioned the writer's love for pens but along with that goes a writer's giddiness over a well-formed writing pad. Be it A5 or A4, lined or blank, ringbound or punched, a lovely, fresh pad will make any writer smile.

As with the pens, they don't have to be expensive and they're widely available in stationers, gift shops or supermarkets.

 Here's a selection that I came across.





Pink Blossom Blue Sky Gifts, Zazzle

Strangemoo, Zazzle

W H Smith

Tesco

Paperchase

Thursday, 11 December 2014

A Writerly Advent Calendar - Window No. 11

PAHandmade Journal - Etsy

A journal or diary is always a welcome gift for a writer. It can take the form of an actual diary to record daily thoughts in, or as with the journal pictured to the left, a non diary notebook for recording writing and thoughts in whenever they occur.

Either way, a diary/journal can be an invaluable tool for daily musings and especially handy to have at a writer's bedside as most of us have ideas just before sleep and just after waking.

There are a wide selection of these to be found all over the place, ranging in price from £10 to £50.



Barnes & Noble

Paper High - notonthehighstreet.com

W H Smith

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

A Writerly Advent Calendar - Window No. 10


Books, books, books - we writers can't get enough of them so why not give your writerly friend a book voucher? There are so many places that you could buy a voucher for. There are book chains such as Waterstones, monster retailers like Amazon, and there are even independent book stores that sell vouchers too. If your friend prefers ebooks, then there's the Kindle store, the Kobo store or whichever store sells for the e-reader device your friend has.

Books can be such a personal choice. A book voucher leaves that choice, and the enjoyment of having that choice, up to the gift-receiver.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

A Writerly Advent Calendar - Window No. 9

This is a little different - not an actual, physical gift but something incredibly useful for a writer. Why not set up a blog for your writer friend?


A Blogger blog can be set up for free. There are numerous templates to choose from, also free. Visit www.blogger.com





Using wordpress.org or wordpress.com, you can set up a blog with the downloaded Wordpress software.

Any expense comes in hosting the website, buying a domain name, and if you want to use a template (or in Wordpress-talk, a 'theme') that isn't free, although many of the free themes are perfectly workable.





Again, you can set up a tumblr blog entirely free of charge. Tumblr is what they call a 'microblogging' platform. It suits blog posts that are smaller such as photographs, gifs, quotes etc.

You can find more information here.

Monday, 8 December 2014

A Writerly Advent Calendar - Window No. 8


As you can probably tell from the number of times I mention or quote Stephen King on this blog, I'm a massive fan of his writing and his creative advice. I bought his memoir, On Writing several years ago now and read it in a couple of days. It's a constant on my bookshelf that I dip into every now and then.

It's a mixture of Stephen King's life and anecdotes thereof, and how he came to be the writer he is today. It's less of a 'do this' as 'learn from how I did this, failed, tried again, and eventually got it right'.

On Writing would be a wonderful gift for a writer at any stage of their career. You can purchase it on Amazon or on Stephen King's own website in hard copy or ebook.


Sunday, 7 December 2014

A Writerly Advent Calendar - Window No. 7

Pens. Biro pens. Fountain pens. Wonderfully colourful gel pens (some of them even with glitter - calm down, Fi). Most writers get giddy over pens.

They don't have to be expensive - just a packet of black and blue biros will do. Of course, something a tad more personal (with initials or in favourite colours) could be a wonderful gift to treasure in years to come. You can even get pens that are erasable nowadays. I got some for my last birthday, that mysteriously disappeared into my children's pencil cases.

Any writer will be chuffed with a gift of pens.


Fisher Space Pen - for the writer who likes to write anywhere and at any angle.

Procrastination Pen from Knock Knock

Personalised Gel Pens from W H Smith