The ramblings of aspiring author, Madeleine Sara, her dreams to become published and her trials and tribulations along the way. Plus other writerly nuggets of wisdom!
Apologies for my typos, I get very cold hands with Raynauds and sometimes there's a persistent kittie on my lap, nudging my hand as I type.
I've been creative writing all my life, though with various haitus(es) along the way. IFrom 2010 I started this blog and enjoyed sharing writing and other information with everyone. illness and bereavement supplied the more recent hiatus.
I submitted an article to Writer’s Forum NewsFront, emailing a news item that was of National interest to writers in order to get a byline in the magazine. The topic of my news item is very close to my heart and something I touched on in my blog postWith Due Reference that I also feel is quite tragic.
The BONUS for me, however, was that my news item was chosen as this month’swinner for a one year subscription of the magazine. Thank you, once again, Writer's Forum.
My thanks also toRachel MorganandAlison Stevens who have both awarded me this wonderful peer validation award on their blog sites.
I'm thrilled.Can you smell those rose petals?
Many of you will remember that I signed up for a Crime Writing Workshop
‘The Body in the Library’and I have to say I was not disappointed. It was run by the lovely Myfanwy Cook who has written commissioned articles on the craft of writing and has had over 90 short stories published in the UK and Australia, including romantic and historical fiction. She has also been a reviewer for the Historical Novel Society.
Her workshop inspired me to write the piece below, which I thought would work in the Bad News Blogfest
Submissions should have emotional impact, where the character receives bad news. It can be written in any genre, any POV, any means of delivery up to 1,000 words:
So, whadja think?
The Body in the Library Workshop covered:
The Vocabulary Of Murder
Setting Crime Scenes: Place and Setting
The Victim: Clinical vs. Emotional
Red Herrings & Clues
Era/ Transformation: Past or Present
Useful References and Resources
I enjoyed all of the writing exercises Vanni set and met some very talented, lovely people. At the risk of sounding boastful, amusingly while many of the others on the day managed to write 36-50 words,I scribbled down a staggering 125! My point being that daily writing practice makes all the difference.
I chose Magda Mort or maybe Mortimer for my pen name on the day. (Tongue-in-cheek here) What would your pen name be?
Susan from Stony River, set us another great
picture for this Monday's Microfiction Challenge
"Where a picture paints 140 characters, or even fewer." This is my no 5 of 50.
Lost in the serenity of the sea, Mary Lou watched the scudding clouds beyond the distant hills and forgot all the troubles in her world.(137 characters with spaces)
Ripples in the breeze,
Wide open expanse of sea,
Micro Fiction is provocative fiction that requires tight analysis and editing. Taking an idea and distilling it into a microcosm of its original self is the challenge. The form is strictly prose. I regard it as the prose equivalent of a Haiku in poetry, (traditionally 5, 7, 5 syllables)
In our Novel Blogfest you can tell us which books are your top 10 to 0.
Classic favourites or new authors?You decide. Please visit others who have signed up for this Novel Blogfest. (see linkey below) You’re bound to remember a few classics you may have forgotten or find something new to enjoy. Remember to leave a comment, too.
I look forward to seeing everyone's Novel choices. Don't worry if you can't manage 10.
Just let us know the seminal works that affected you in some way.
Here's my 10 to 0 count down to get things started.
My choices are stories with the ability to enfold their language around their reader, hooking them in and sending them on amazing journeys from the very first word to the very last sentence with drama, humour, psychology and humanity.
I was a terribly slow reader even though I loved books and writing. Then I came across ‘The Millstone’ (at age 17yrs) which I read in 4 hours. James Herriot was the first author who made me laugh out loud. I adore novels with rich language and a pace that keeps up all the way through. I love characterisations that show psychological insights and characters who although may have faults also show kindness and humanity and stories where the characters overcome adversity.
AUTHORS: Margaret Drabble; Bernice Rubens; Marian Keyes; Alexander McCall Smith; James Herriot; Andrea Levy; Lori Lansen; Frank Cottrell Boyce; Patrick Ness; J K Rowling*; J.R. Tolkien
(* YA fiction)
Complete a story in 55 words:Flash Fiction is fiction of extreme brevity. In a few words the story thread must hold the plot together. There is no widely accepted definition of the length of the category.
Geoff and Gillian were Cyberspace Lurkers surfing Blogland and Internet Forums. Never commenting, they were happy to let someone else say what was on their mind. Then one day they caught one another’s eye. It was love at first sight. Unable to resist sharing their news and views, they never looked back from then on.
This is a blog hop so do visit others at: Angela McCallister's having a BLOGFEASTtoday September 23, 2010! Her theme, is something we've all loved and hated at some point in our lives. Something we indulge in on a daily basis. Something we cannot live without. Not only is it a blogfest of food, but it's also a feast of blogs. Please join us in sharing a post regarding anything *food.* It can be a scene where food is central or just happens to be in the scene. It could be a poem about food. Heck, it could even be about a character named after food.
Here's my offering:
You can click on above image and then click to enlarge it for reading. ;O)
I hope people find this format acceptable, please let me know what you think.
COMPELLING CHARACTERS: When I submitted part of this piece to a critiquing website I received feedback that said of my character Suzanne: 'I really wouldn't want to meet her and after the first few sentences really couldn't care what happened to her'. Oh dear!
My feeling is that we should be able to identify with the characters as plausible people whether or not you actually like them, unless you like the fact that they are really bad etc. (which I do with one of mine). They should have some faults and not be uber-perfect. Describing them so that we can imagine knowing them is important because if they appear two dimensional it will be like a person who never talks about themselves or shares with others, so that you never feel comfortable with them.
My Grandma had a weather house and as a little girl it really excited my creative imagination. I loved the idea of those little people living inside their house and coming outto tell us about the weather. My vivid imagination conjured up their comfortable home with pictures on the walls and smart, clean furniture all spic and span inside.
Since there was a wooden bar across the bottom of the weather house I could not see inside, but one day I found that if I stood on tiptoe I could just about peer inside.
BUT What a letdown!
Instead of the wonderful doll’s house style interior, my active imagination had created, complete with comfy armchairs and potted plants etc. it was just a empty narrow, rectangular wooden box.
Of course, if I made a weather house the interior would be very different, even if it had to be a tromp l’oeil mural on the walls or I’d replace the people with a shaggy dog for the wet days and a sleek cat for the dry days or children with swimming cosi, a bucket and spade and waterproofs and wellies.
What things sparked your writer's imagination as a child?
It’s today! Time to share MY ten favourite TV programmes, old and new. Please visit others who have signed up for the blogfest. I bet you find a TV treasure you’d long since forgotten about or something new to find out about…
Some great writing with humour, drama and humanity and sometimes a little love!
Counting down from 10 to 0:Star Trek Generations, Bewitched, Ballykissangel, Takin' Over the Asylym, Sleepers, Cold Feet, Desperate Housewives, The Missing Postman, Poldark, Rotter's Club, See You Friday
Of course, I should also have added Preston Front, Onedin Line, Porridge, Red Dwarf, Flambards, Only Fools & Horses and The New Adventures of Superman (with Dean Cain & Terri Hatcher)
Mostly British TV Choices
WOW I’ve been nominated for a Creative Blogger Award: 'For those who bring unique and creative elements to their blogs. For those who incorporate art, music, creative writing, photo's, and other beautiful visual effects into their website. For those who put a unique spin on things and come up with new ideas. This award is for the artsy, the funky, the inventor, and even the rebel. This award is for those creative individuals who stand out from the crowd'.How fabulous!
Someone asked me recently: ‘Why do you like to blog? What do you get from it?’
I thought, Good Question!
I am very new to the blogging world and having seen the film ‘Julie & Julia’ plus reading articles in writing mags about the benefits of blogging, I decided to have a go. I’ve now been blogging for roughly a month.
Having researched tips for blogging (Jen in her blog Unedited gives some great advice) I then discovered Eric Kintz’ blog post, which also has some interesting points.
Very importantly, of course, I enjoy the interaction from others through Comments and links and 'Following'. I blog almost specifically about my writing endeavours. It helps me to focus on new ideas and themes or new ways of presenting common themes. And I tell myself it is good writing experience and good PR as a potential author, so it must be time well spent away from my novel, mustn’t it?;O)
I love the desktop publishing element: designing, composing and presenting each post as well as my whole BlogSpot site andI would love someone to give me a job that would enable me to do this all day long and get paid for it, too! ;O)
I've inserted my brainstorming list. I wonder how many of my reasons match yours and whether you have any different reasons to share?
Did you know the word blog was formed by squashing the words web and log together. Initially called weblogs, people soon began to drop the first syllable.
You can picture the metaphor can’t you? The reviewer-mechanic who looks into the engine of your story, scratches his head, tuts and sighs before offering a verdict:
“It’s not good. It’s going to need a lot of work and the cost of repair is prohibitive. You might as well scrap it and start again”.Oh and he adds“I’d say your driving was pretty atrocious!”
Now picture a different reviewer-mechanic, who makes encouraging noises. He smiles and says:
“The engine block is pretty sound, as is the Carburettor and with a little oil on the Timing Gears and replacing the Manifolds it should run more smoothly. It'll be on the road in no time!”
Okay so I'm no mechanic and maybe, unlike me, you've not received the negative kind of criticism about your work? I hope you've only had the positive, constructive kind.
Creative writing, by its very nature, is incredibly exposing and ultimately drives the author into the path of criticism. Self doubt may follow if the feedback isn't suitably constructive. However, good feedback can be deliciously gratifying.
Constructive reviewing makes all the difference between an author developing and improving through specific feedback couched in a positive delivery that doesn’t leave them on the edge of despair and ready to drive over the next available cliff.
I've recently had some really positive, constructive feedback that made my day. It made me ready for my next journey; ready to travel to new horizons.
So, may all of us receive constructive feedback every time! It's so much more fortifying, don't you think?
Goodness doesn’t 30 minutes go by quickly when you’re writing?
I’ve recently purchased a digital timer (set for 30 min intervals), so that I can take a break, stretch, change posture, walk around re-focus the eyes etc. (as my optician, physio and chiropractor have instructed me).
I am astounded how it goes by in a flash! In the past I’d get so absorbed I’d realise that it was past 1pm and I still hadn’t moved to make some lunch. Or I notice that my bladder had been nagging me for ages. I wondered how long everyone else writes for before they take a break?
It really got me thinking about the idea that our first manuscript is likely to be just the warm-up piece for greater things to come and is therefore not destined to get accepted. The next novel, on the other hand, will have benefitted from all the mistakes and brain flexing you did while writing your first MS and is more likely to get published as a result.
Okay, so as Erica says, everyone sights the likes of J.K.Rowling, but didn't she spend 7 years researching and planning her work before she started actually writing the first book?
Then there's Doris Lessing who admitted that after she’d had a few novels successfully published she decided to send in a MS to her publisher and others under a pseudonym and it was rejected? Then she resubmitted it in her own name it was accepted!
I've been writing a chick lit novel and I'm beginning to wonder whether this is only my warm-up piece. Yikes!
I really enjoyed the blog parties this weekend and meeting all you new people. It was great the way everyone dropped by my blog like going on a blog-pub crawl.
At 4pm this afternoon the sunshine and the fresh air beckoned. I'd spent most of the day indoors having challenged myself at the weekend to write a 6,000 word short story. The subject I've chosen is rather a harrowing one and it's quite emotionally draining and so far I've already written 3,000+ words.
It's based on that true story I read in a magazine article at the hairdresser's.
I donned my blue suede walking boots and jacket and set off on my usual 45 minute circular walk through the Devon countryside. I am so glad I did.
I felt so invogorated, as I passed the rushing river at Lydia Bridge. We've had some heavy rain yesterday and today, so the river was high.
I wonder where everyone does their writing.
Is it in a cupboard under the stairs? A vast sunlit room? A café?
Do you have to share, like me, or do you have your own dedicated office?
Okay, I admit I gave my workspace a good tidy round before this photo. Yes, this is tidy! It was the excuse I needed since the dust and detritus was mounting and I’d lost some important papers somewhere (which to my delight I’ve since found, following Operation Photoshoot.)
I admit it looks a little cramped, but once I'm lost in my writing world I barely notice it. And sometimes I sit in our sunlit conservatory with my note books and pen.
The first version of this poem was written last October (my first as an adult) prompted by the sad demise of a beloved cat, Comfrey, of 17½ yrs old and whilst continuing on with 'Living Bereavement' coping with my Dad's Alzheimer condition. Version one represents the initial raw concept of my emotion, (the nasty feeling deep in my chest/throat that sorrow brings which reminded me of a Bouquet Garni sachet) put into words as the ideas flow through the pen.
The second is a revised version after starting the O.U. Creative Writing course. It is slightly more polished and structured, following the rules of poetry, having completed the relevant poetry chapters in the course book.
I expect you could hear squeals of delight, this Bank Holiday, when I reached the Writers' Circle Reader’s Letter’s page in my copy of the October issue of Writer’s Forum.
A few weeks before I had dashed off a passionate letter about how inspiring I found the July issue of the magazine and duly emailed it to the Letters Editor. Then I sat back to imagine what I would do if I were to win one of those lovely notebook prizes.
The words ‘Oh to own a moleskin notebook’ filled my thoughts like a line from a Wordsworth poem and it set me off on a journey of wild imaginings so I quickly wrote it all down. Then, just for fun, I decided to send it off to them as well.
That second letter was staring up at me from the printed page, grinning proudly, which meant I’d won a coveted ‘Moleskine’ notebook. There was even an Editor’s comment.
My notebook has since arrived and as you can see I’m thrilled. It’s just perfect!
It’s rather ironic really considering my August blog post about notebooks
Now I shall have to practice neat, tiny handwriting and in code!