Thursday, 31 March 2011

Am I Being A Grumpy No-So-Old Writer?

Today was productive in the writing sense. I finished my first fiction assignment and sent it off to my (new) tutor and I even sent off a letter to Writing Magazine.   But to be honest this letter, and the article it was related to, also prompted me to want to blog.

This morning I had some time to read through April's issue of Writing Magazine - yes I know, May Issue will probably arrive tomorrow and I still haven't finished this one yet. I fail at reading magazines!

I read the Grumpy Old Bookman column (p35 Writer's News) by Michael Allan, and funnily enough, after all the commotion over the past couple of days of self-published Jacqueline Howett and her unprofessional approach to critiques, the subject was on self-publishing and those making money from it.

He discusses how self-publishing is working for some, and the potential money writer's are making.  He then goes on to talk about Ms Vianka van Bokkem who has 15 books published, but actually they are short stories, ranging from around 5,000 to 13,500 words and the prices are between $2.99-$3.99.  She's sold around 2,500 ebooks in December alone!  Vianka has had reviews such as "The worst book I've ever read", to the other end of the scale giving praise.  I assume she hasn't acted like Ms Howett when given negative feedback or we may have heard about it

Then Allan quotes some of her text, proving she isn't a polished writer - and that some readers (considering the reviews) simply can't care, it hasn't bothered them in this new digital age.  I'm an easy going reader, but I really do care about good presentation of the written word, especially as it's something I'm striving for in my own writing.  (Whether I'm achieving it is another matter!) 

He ends on a note of good luck to her, she's having fun, making friends and money.  However, although yes, in someways I don't want to scoff at someone else's success - yes, good luck to her, if people are prepared to buy her stories, and she's not doing anything deceitful to sell them.  But is she improving her skill?  Is she another writer giving self-publishing a bad name?  Has it become too easy to get published (and sell) with the likes of eBooks?

I've been trying to think up a suitable analogy, because as usual I fear I'm not getting my point across in the way I want - something as a writer I need to work on, but I've always been like it in life - I really do have trouble spitting my words out at times!  So here goes;

Imagine I turn up on X-Factor, singing badly (because I can't sing - I only sound good in the car, on my own) something like "I Will Survive," and I have no intentions of trying to improve.  In fact I think I'm brilliant! Simon Cowell says I can use his recording studio to get my stuff out there (for a small fee).  I then put it on Amazon and make money by selling my badly sung song.  (I imagine there could be a lot of con-artists in the record industry preying on wannabe-singers, yet we never actually get to hear the music.)

Is it happening in the record industry?  I'm not in that line, so I haven't heard about it.  The thing is, everyone can actually write, or type, but it's not necessarily good.  I imagine it's a lot harder to get a song on iTunes and actually make money from it than it is to get an eBook out there.  The equipment you need to record a song is a little bit harder to come by than what you need to write - that's what I'm trying to say!

Writing is a craft, a talent, a skill, an art, like singing - isn't it?

Yes, I do see the need for self-publishing, even if thanks to the likes of Ms Howett who give it a bad name, and the vanity press that prey on wannabe writers.  But I suppose what niggles me now is that there seems to be readers out there that don't mind this slack approach to writing.  Part of me is annoyed that society is getting lazy in all sorts of ways, and now it seems we're getting lazy in what we expect in good writing.  Or am I wrong?

I've tried to write this as diplomatically as I can, and not sound out of turn - I apologise now if it seems that way.  I don't want to sound like some snobby writer - I'm not.  As an unpublished writer trying to find my way, I'm interested to know what others think.  Are you frustrated that people actually can make money out of bad writing?  Who are the con-artists really?  Are readers being duped?

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Changed My Blog Name

After much deliberation I've decided to change the title of my blog.  Luckily, I'd always made the URL "teresamorgan" ( - so that's not changed.  It's just my title for the blog.

When I first set about creating the blog title, I am unsure if in my subconscious I'd read a 'Ramblings' blog but it sounded great at the time and hence it was created.  However, I came across a few "Ramblings" as a got more familiar with blogging.  So, have now decided to change it, to make it more distinctive against others and more personal to me. 

My link on your blog lists will still work, however your list will probably still say "Ramblings Of A Mad Woman..." unless you update it.  For those of you that have me on your blog list, I would be grateful if you could (might be just a case of updating it, by unclicking then clicking it), but it's not the end of the world if you don't.

Right, time for bed.  I managed to finish my assignment, but will read it all through tomorrow before posting.  Then it's on with editing The Wedding Favour - I'm quite excited actually!

Oh and currently I've changed it to no anonymous postings... to see if this helps with the spamming. 

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Right, I've Had Enough Now Of Spammers!

I've had two comments posted on my blog now, and each provide a link to an online pharmacy, selling viagra no doubt!

I have it set up so that you have to enter a code to post a comment. (Don't I?) I may have change this for a bit and put it that I authorise comments and see if that gets rid of this annoyance.  In a minute I will go look at my options.

Why, oh why is the internet riddled with these bloody people! No I don't want viagra, and if I did, I wouldn't buy it from you.

Ha! Just noticed they used a LJ account, so I've gone and reported them as a bot.  Take that! (Imagine me ninja chopping - not helping I'm reading The Scarlet Kimono which is obviously set in Japan - not that the books mention ninjas or anything... just me having a rambling moment, or witter (that's for Morton S Gray).

As a side note, I was thinking of changing the name of my blog, to Witterings of a Mad Woman (as I've noticed a lot of Ramblings) or Mad Woman Witters...  Would that automatically update everyone's blogs that have it on their blog lists?  Or should I keep it as Ramblings... ? Undecided.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Is It Me Or Is Time Flying?

Where has March gone?  Seriously.  Friday is the 1st of April.

April is when I said I'd start editing The Wedding Favour!

This week I've got to pull my finger out and get that first fiction assignment off.  I only have the second exercise to do, which I started but I think I've done the wrong way around.  I've just used the POV of someone to look at the characteristics of other people in a restaurant, where I think I'm actually supposed to do it from inside those characters' heads.  Show a brash, confident character.  I only have three characters to do, and 150 words to do it for each character - easy, right?

I've been thinking about my second novel, and looking forward to starting that.  I do think I need something else to concentrate on, to make me sit down and write.  Though, I should be concentrating on smaller projects i.e. short stories, to see if I can generate some income... so that I can give up my stifling weekend job.  (I'd rather be around my kids arguing than go there to work!)  Editing should get me working hard again - once I start focussing on something, then it's hard for me to stop.  Currently, I've been ambling around my study. 

I'm wondering whether to enter The Wedding Favour into the Yeovil Prize which was advertised in Writing Magazine (March issue).  I have until the 31st May to have polished the first three chapters and a synopsis.  I've been reading like crazy - 13/40 books so far - so ahead of schedule there, which will mean I have lots of time for editing and reading The Wedding Favour.

I still haven't heard from Woman's Weekly about a short story I sent to them in January.  It was called Life After Death, about a young woman in labour who has lost her husband.  I saw on Womagwriter's Blog that they wanted 'risky' stories, so that's what I sent them.  I'd like to think it's an emotional piece, which does end happily.  I anxiously await the post every day now for news of rejection or acceptance ... 

Now taking a leaf out of Rachel Lyndhurt's blog, I'm going to share with you Adam.  He started off inspired by the likes of Bradley Cooper (he's my new obsession) and Dirk Benedict (he's my old one) but I found this wonderful picture of Josh Holloway.  I'd described, or should I say, Sophie had described Adam with sandy blond hair.  One of my writing pals couldn't picture it, till they googled and come up with Sawyer.  Adam is a lot 'cleaner' than Sawyer, and far from a rogue but this picture really is spot on with Josh there in a suit - shame it's not in colour.

And just for those who need their Sawyer fix ... ah hem, I thank you! (see, sandy blond hair -->).

Really must make more of a habit of putting hot male inspirational pictures on my blog.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Book Review: The Wedding Date by Ally Blake

The Wedding Date (Mills & Boon Riva)The Wedding Date by Ally Blake

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book and again, I will try to write a review without spoilers. 

This Riva story contained sexy and sensual scenes, not behind closed bedroom doors!

The story starts off slowly, the relationship side of things, but this wasn't a bad thing, it felt realistic, letting the pressure build up between the two of them - and that doesn't mean it 'read' slowly.  But initially the hero doesn't reveal too much his motives.  Though reading between the lines, you kind of guess it - why else would he gate crash his assistant's holiday, her sister's wedding?  Hannah is teased to frustration, unsure of why her boss is acting the way he is - and so are we!

There's some wonderful dialogue; Hannah Gillespie is no pushover, she's feisty, which keeps their relationship interesting and creates great chemistry between these two characters, but you just know her heart is in trouble.

View all my reviews

Also, with this book - I'll post here, rather than on Goodreads - I was intrigued to read it because it's titled The Wedding Date, which is the title of the film that inspired The Wedding Favour - at least the 'wedding' part of it, anyway. 

I was worried that maybe my story wouldn't be original, someone had beaten me to it - but phew!  The story, although revolving around a wedding, has Hannah's boss as her date for totally different reasons.  There was even a lift scene - but again, luckily different.  So for the record, the things I've put in The Wedding Favour were wrote before I read this book!  However, they were inspired by the film.  And it just goes to show that no ideas can really be copyrighted, because it is likely someone will have the similar thoughts, or get inspired by something they've read or watched - just luckily will write them differently.

Yay - and 13 books down! Way ahead of schedule.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Anti-Conning Writers Day

Sally Quilford has posted a blog today: Anti-Conning Writers Day.  I'm doing my bit to spread the word.

I've been lucky not to be conned - yet.  I did sign up with the Writer's Bureau in 2009, and before I did so, I did ask the opinion of others.  To be honest, the fees for the Comprehensive Writing Course were affordable, and I could pay by monthly direct debit.  They even give the guarantee that if you don't make any money in writing by the time you finish the course, they'll refund the course fees.  They also reassured me that if I didn't have a writing bone in my body they would tell me, and I'd be able to cancel the course, and be refunded.  Admittedly they haven't told me that, in fact I had a very reassuring email from my tutor before Christmas, which occasionally I read, to remind myself I need more confidence in me!

To be honest, I've got quite a lot from this course already, even though I haven't sold anything yet, that I doubt I'd go through the hassle of trying to my fees back!  I haven't finished the course yet... so there is still time for me to sell something!  But it's opened my eyes on how to approach publishers, magazine editors etc. which is what I needed. It also covered Vanity Press in the early modules.

Unfortunately in life, there is always someone trying to make money out of innocent people.  If it's too good to be true, it probably is.  Nothing in life is free.  And unless entering a competition, I want the editor to pay me for my writing, not the other way around.  So I know I've got to work harder at it...

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Four Years On

This time, four years ago, I was in hospital about to give birth to Kieran.  I'd gone into labour in the early-ish hours of the morning.  I can't remember now, but the contractions woke me up.

Unlike the first time, I didn't eat a thing, but showered and got dressed.  We'd called hubby's parents to come over and look after Ben.  I very quickly became desperate to want to get to the hospital, although I thought I was in for the long haul.  It was a Saturday, so maybe the baby would be here by Monday, Sunday if I was lucky - going on first time round experience.

8.30am we arrived at St Michaels in Bristol, and I tried to stay on my feet as much as possible, remembering my NCT antenatal class from when carrying Ben.  I wasn't able to do that with Ben as he'd been back on back.  Nothing had been comfortable with Ben.

When I could stand no more, I got onto the bed, and in a foetus position sucked on the gas and air.  At some stage I started getting this urge to push, which actually felt surreal as I never had that feeling with Ben - two epidurals may have been the reason!  I couldn't possibly be fully dilated - I'd only been in hospital a couple of hours!  So I puffed, and my midwife said if I needed to push, to push, that I would be fully dilated, my body wouldn't do it otherwise.

They decided they'd take a look (oh the joys of being in labour!), and as I turned onto my back, I could feel a prickling sensation - the head.  Everything else happened so quickly and at 10.44am Kieran George was born weighing a mighty 8lb 12ozs but not as big as his brother - though I was so sure he'd be heavier.

By the afternoon I was up on my feet, feeling quite human.  Even hubby commented how different I was.  But I hadn't endured 33 hours of labour and I'd had a good nights sleep beforehand, too.  What a difference!  Also, no spinal block, no tree trunk legs.

It was the most unobtrusive, natural labour I think I could have had in a hospital - I almost cried (emotionally with happiness that is - I had just given birth).  There were only two midwives - it didn't feel like I had the whole hospital looking up there (telling me how much hair my baby had), and I felt quite human.  I stayed over night as Kieran had been born in his waters, (luckily it was quiet in St Michaels for a change, too) and there was meconium in them.  I had good intentions of staying in Weston a couple of nights, as their maternity ward is fab, but Sunday I was ready to go home.  Breastfeeding was a doddle, my new baby took to me like a duckling to water.

All I would say is that when I hear women talking about taking all the pain killers they can get in labour, don't do it! I had gas and air, and used a Tens machine.  It was enough.  I was in so much control with my second labour.  The first, well, it's almost always difficult first time around, and my contractions had started slowing, so they wanted to induce me further, and recommended the epidural.  It wasn't something I wanted, (initially I cried thinking I was a failure) but went with the midwives decisions.  I was extremely tired, and had been going at it for nearly a whole day!  Some how, mind over matter, and a spinal block, I still managed to push Ben out, with some help of Forceps and Episiotomy. He was 9lb 3oz and everyone says 'ouch', but I never felt a thing... not till after the drugs wore off.

Both labours were worth their reward, (though sometimes I forget this when I'm pulling my hair out while they argue) but if I had to do it again (and I won't!), I'd choose Kieran's way ...

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Book Review: Her Not-So-Secret Diary by Anne Oliver

Her Not So Secret Diary (Riva)Her Not So Secret Diary by Anne Oliver

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My first ever Riva book and I was surprised how 'hot' it was.  Not quite Blaze, but I think Riva is Modern Romance (I can't see on their website).  Basically, there is sex, and it's not behind a closed door!

The story was nicely original, set in Australia, though sending your dream diary to your boss is a little contrived - but Sophie was tired so I'll let her off.  But it's a nice idea that Jared then tries to please Sophie and her fantasies.  He's one hot hero really ::sigh:: 

Jared has attractive qualities.  Business shell (Alpha Male) on the outside, but firm family commitments on the inside.  He's a hero that takes control, without controlling the heroine - if that makes sense?

This book provides some nice ups and downs emotionally, with a lovely romantic ending, too.

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Inspiration From Strange Places

This morning I managed a run, all 3.11 miles/5kms, but I struggled, having my son's cold.  I wanted to give up after two miles.

I do find now that I run, I don't suffer with colds like I used to (touches wood) - watch me now, I'll be struck down and bedridden! This cold hasn't made me feel too miserable, put it this way.

Not only does it keep me fit, running does give me just over thirty minutes of brainstorming.  In fact so much so I can be thinking about my hero or heroine my pace slows. Not so good when trying to race myself.

Today, I decided on a name for a character who's brewing up. I already had the idea of him being an ex-fireman (due to an idea of him giving a fireman's carry), suffering with post traumatic stress - or something like that, and that's why he had to leave the profession.  (Don't worry, I will do my research, but at this point, it's just about getting ideas out there, whether they're realistic or not can come later).  I had this idea that it would be because he couldn't save someone who was involved in a terrible car accident or something.  Well, today I came up with that the 'woman' would be his lover - to give him the extra angst he needs.  So five years down the line (or something) he's built up a business of his own, bit of a ladies man, not really interested in finding Mrs Right, she died five years ago ... when bam! His really annoying neighbour catches his eye.  (I want them to bicker at one another - sort of a sign of attraction without admitting it).

So a successful run; he's got a name (Jack, but it might change - he was Jason), and I've worked out why he's no longer a fireman, with some extra angst. Hurrah!

I also get my inspiration when I'm in the shower - maybe those ten minutes on my own, just allows my mind to drift - or when I'm doing the washing up.  There's not really a lot to think about while doing that, is there?  I'm trying to convince hubby that me having a lie in at the weekends I don't work IS brainstorming ...

So when does your inspiration strike, or when do you get your brainstorming sessions in?  Any weird ones?

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Busy Day ...

... but sadly no writing - yet. 

I did actually manage to sit down and read some of my Writing Magazine (April issue) and a little bit of my coursework.  (And while hubby was bathing the boys I read my book).  That's all classed as WRA (Writing Related Activities). But otherwise, I've been a busy bee making a birthday cake and doing the chores.  I really haven't stopped today.  After I've posted this blog, my aim is to finish reading my module and crack on with my ghost story.

If you want a giggle, my sister has updated her blog too. There is a funny Vlog of the weekend they spent with us - the boys are the stars of the show, obviously.  Just ignore me and mum in the background gassing away!

Typical, the boys were ill over the weekend.  It didn't stop us having fun, yet, I did worry with them being around Katie.  She's not supposed to be around sick people! Kieran even spent today off preschool, and a good job too, because he was crashed out on the sofa asleep by 1pm.  Hoping he's going to be well enough for his big day on Thursday! And especially Saturday, as he's got a party to host.

Kieran really wants Jesse, and wanted her on his cake. Unfortunately I couldn't find a miniature one, only Buzz and Woody.  But I have bought a 'shop' cake, which has all of the Toy Story 3 gang on it, including Jesse - that's for Saturday to be cut and put into the goodie bags.

Just realised, got some presents to wrap ... so maybe the writing will be on hold.  There is always something to do!

Monday, 21 March 2011

Treated Myself!

At last! I've bought a new chair.

Where I write
My RSI really has been quite testing lately. And I've even had a weekend off, really, with my mum and sister visiting. Yet, the slightest fiddle, and my elbow and wrist would ache, so I still can't over do it.

Today, I needed a trip to Staples to get some labels as I've been ebaying (that's been my main cause over the weekend to use the PC) - wanting to get some money together as I'm failing with my writing.  It's been a while since I set foot in Staples, and it's all been changed around - almost felt like I was walking around Curry's yet, not only were there PCs, Laptops, Printers, and Kindles (yes! even Kindles) there was STATIONERY!  But I resisted.  I really do have enough notebooks to be getting on with, and until I clear my study (of my nappy stockpile), I don't have room yet for another bookshelf.  Anyway, the chairs were to the left, just as I walked in ...

Was going to blog about my Kindle, but failed miserably.
This year I really want to sort out my study.  It's a nice sized room but it is abused!  The dumping ground for items we're not sure where to put, or want to keep the lounge/dining room clutter free.

As you can see under the desk to the right is my old PC which I need to start up again (if it will), and delete all files from it.  Then it can go off to recycling or something. The other end of my study, needs a bloody good clear out - including the nappy stock pile I mentioned earlier - and then it might feel more like a workspace and not a dumping ground.  Though I do fear the ironing and washing will have to remain.  Not so bad in the summer, the airer can be put away.   But the winter it's a study/laundry room.

I want to put a chair in the corner by the window for reading - might have to share that with the cat, as this is her room too.

So, sorted out my mouse and got my wireless one working again.  Foot stool and new chair bought.  And my Kindle. What other gadgets does a writer need, or am I all set?

Oh and still haven't found my favourite pen, either.  I'm sure the bloody cat has swiped it off my desk, but where the hell it's gone I've not the foggiest ...

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Book Review: The Bride's Baby by Liz Fielding

The Bride's BabyThe Bride's Baby by Liz Fielding

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Unfortunately this book didn't really have the same sensual sizzle factor that I know Liz Fielding can achieve. 

Its plot was also frustrating.  If the two of them had just been honest in the first place and talked to one another, the misunderstanding would have been resolved a lot early on.  If you're not a lover of these sorts of plot lines, then this book might not be for you.

That said, still a nice read - albeit frustrating at times. I wanted to clonk the two character's heads together!

I always like the character's Liz creates and these were no different.  Whereas Liz's heroes are normally compassionate, I'd say Tom McFarlane is possibly a harder, more alpha male character, but shows a softer side later in the book - which was good, because I'm not always a lover of the hard, ruthless Alpha types. 

I did get to download this book for free through my Kindle, so I have no complaints really - it is still an enjoyable read.   

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Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Proud Mummy Moments

They really do get on well - most of the time!
Because I have two sons, rather than daughters, they do Stars in Training at The Jacqueline Fox School of Dance, instead of Ballet!

Ben has already done a show at the Playhouse in Weston, where he stood gazing out to the audience, trying to look for mummy and daddy - he was four (nearly five).  He did do some of the dance, but he was overwhelmed by the stage.

This time, he performed his two dance acts brilliantly - for a six-year-old!  (I did have a little chat back stage and said don't look for daddy, but he is out there!)

Sunday (13 March 2011) was a mini show to raise money for the main event that's taking place in October, again at the Playhouse.

High School Musical meets Monke
Kieran was a real star in this mini show, having to sing on his own with his other little friend, Elizabeth, singing Old Mac Donald.  They both - although quiet at times - sang, did the actions, and kept looking up and out to the audience, rather than stare at the floor (which Jackie was worried they might do).  Both of them aren't even four yet.  Hubby said they did get the biggest applause!

They did two performances each. One in costume, the other in their dance 'uniform'.  I was helping back stage, but was allowed to stand and watch the performances of my two, so I didn't miss the important parts of the show.

Have I got stars in the making?  Who knows?  But I remember doing tap and ballet as a kid, and I did a couple of shows, and always think these things are lovely for their memory banks.  If it gives them nothing else, it will give them confidence.  (I am hoping they'll both be great dancers later - nothing more attractive than a man who can dance.... gosh, must make sure I add that to my 'hero' attributions list.)

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

That Cheered Me Up!

I won a book!

Luckily, I was checking my junkmail folder last night and I saw an email from Choc Lit saying congratulations, I'd won their Flavour Of The Month competition.  (Look at the right hand column! I'm at the top).

The idea is to describe your favourite Choc Lit hero in terms of chocolate.  I'd described Ratty from Starting Over by Sue Moorcroft. 

"Dark bitter chocolate on the outside, but gives you a lovely surprise when you bite into him, revealing his true nutty, can’t get enough of him flavours." 

So Ratty.  He was seriously addictive.  He's been my favourite hero so far this year.  Every girl needs a guy like Ratty.

The reason I entered, I thought I'd put my Goodreads review for this book over on the site, and while I was at it decided to attempt describing Ratty as chocolate.  So it does pay to do a book review!

The book I've won is Christina Courtenay's The Scarlet Kimono - which is her latest release.  It's a historical, and I was indecisive about buying it.  Now I'm going to get to read it anyway (so watch out for a review).

I really needed cheering up, and this certainly did it yesterday.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Book Review: Good At Games by Jill Mansell

Good at GamesGood at Games by Jill Mansell

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I did enjoy this book, and I'm going to find it hard to review without giving away spoilers, however, there are a few reasons why this book didn't get four stars from me.

The first one, and this might be completely me and my preference, was the jumping of viewpoints in the same scene.  And although funny, (this book did have me laughing out loud), at times it was hard to follow, especially early on when I wasn't used to it and thought the character's head I was supposed to be in had become a mind reader, then I realised the viewpoints had actually switched to another character.

Maybe it's because I don't write like that; I try to stick inside one character's head per scene, and don't really go in too many heads.  (Jill Mansell even gave us point of view of minor characters, including the dog at one stage - though it worked for the joke). 

With this book, I just felt I wasn't firmly in the head of the main characters, therefore didn't feel so deeply involved to want to root them on.  I've read a lot of books that stick to limited third person too, so my brain automatically was thinking this author's made a mistake - until I realised it was her style.  So this book is very omniscient in viewpoints - if I've got that right? - and I'm not sure it's something I like constantly.  I've read Mills and Boon where it slips, but usually only once in a scene, and can be subtly done.

You do get used to it - eventually - but I did find it jarring.

The second thing I wasn't sure about was who the hero was supposed to be.  It's a toss up between the two brothers where Suzy is concerned (who is the main heroine), and to be honest, at one point, I didn't want Suzy falling for either of them.  Later it gets cleared up a bit, but even so, I don't know if the confusion was deliberate on the author or not, but I'm in doubts whether I liked it.

The third thing; I had a very mixed image of Suzy.  I got the impression she was supposed to be a very attractive, curvy woman - to appeal to us all, and to imply men don't just go for skin and bone.  Suzy mentions (in her head) she's a a size 14 (which is absolutely fine by the way, too!) - then a few chapters later, she's comparing her 9-and-a-half-stone self against waif like Celeste.  Then later, it IS reiterated she's a size 14.

I'm 10 stone, about 5'6" and I'm a size 12 - is Suzy barely 5" or something?  I imagined her tall, and beautifully voluptuous - basically a normal girl really not worried about what she ate - therefore at her weight, she'd be no bigger than a 12, gosh she might even squeeze into a 10 depending on her height!  Even as a 12 the comments about super slim/skinny Celeste and Gaby would still work.  So this minor detail about weight irked me I'm afraid.  Fine, if the size 14 was to appeal to the female readers, but don't make her 9 and a half stone - was that a typo missed?  Should she have been 10 and a half stone?

One thing I did like was the setting... only up the road from me, Bristol.  It's making me wonder if I should keep a town name in my own novel... however Jill Mansell is an established author, I am a mere wannabe...

The style of writing, or voice, took a while to get used to.  Extremely sharp and witty, yet with the point of view changing it sometimes became hard to follow - almost scatty.

This is the first Jill Mansell book I've read, and I'd definitely give her another go as once I got used to the book, I enjoyed her sense of humour.  I'll just be prepared for the viewpoint changes next time.

View all my reviews

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Now What Do I Do With It?

It may be a bit premature, but I bought a domain name; - don't even try going there, as I've got nothing up, not paying any hosting or anything.  I just thought I'd reserve it.  It cost me just over £7 (including the VAT) for two years.

I couldn't get .com - another Teresa Morgan must have that! Though that's a lot more expensive, and for a unpublished, poor writer like me, it might have been a bit excessive.

So now I'm wondering whether to start on a website. Is it premature to set up a website?  And if not, how do I go about it?

I've noticed where I got the domain name from do packages, so might go with one of those.  At the moment, I don't think my RSI could withstand me fiddling around with a website.  And I have no idea what sort of style I want.  I'm always fiddling with my blog because I'm still not happy with it.

So, what do you think?  Should I try and put a website together, or wait until I'm published... hopefully. 

I haven't the foggiest what I'd put on there yet - I've been struggling trying to put a bio together - though Writing Magazine had some useful hints (hence it was them who suggested buying a domain name in their March issue).

Oh, and if you know of a better package, then let me know.  I need something really easy to use as, well, I'm not great on HTML and all that stuff. 

Hey, it'll be Sods Law if I do get published, and they recommend I use a pseudonym! Ah, well, it's only cost me £7 ...

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Could Be A Sign I'm Crazy

I've just submitted The Wedding Favour into the Tibor Jones Pageturner Prize thanks to Sally Quilford! 

It closes tomorrow - so no, it's not a hasty decision at all. Not. 

It's all Sally's fault because she said they were accepting first drafts, and well, The Wedding Favour is just that.  But it is complete.  The first couple of chapters are maybe more polished than the rest of the novel - which is what they're going to read first at the end of the day.  They'll soon decide after first couple of chapters (or pages), won't they?

My only minor concern is that it's not formatted correctly... i.e. indented paragraphs.  This is because when I format the document like that, then try to post it on something like LJ for my betas to read, it loses all it's formatting and becomes the block of doom!

It was free to enter, and decided I didn't have a lot to lose! So fingers, toes and all that crossed.  They will alert the winner 21st March - so not a long wait.

It Doesn't Help I'm Indecisive!

This morning I received an email from the Students Services at Writer's Bureau.  They're happy for me to switch to the fiction part and have forwarded the first two assignments (numbers 11 & 12).

They look FAB! Still hard work, still challenging, but the first assignment (11), looks like I have to write a short story and say the market I've written it for - I've already bought plenty of magazines to research, so that bits done too.  I've virtually have a short story written already.  I'd only have to do the two exercises, and obviously read the modules!

The thing is, my tutor responded before them and was happy for me to write pieces for assignment sake, even agreeing about using the museum, as she feels the non-fiction assignments will also help with my fiction.  (See previous post) And so I will finish the 7th Assignment now - as we went to the helicopter museum and all three parts are written, just need a polish! 

However, I am wondering if it is a waste of an assignment if I then continue on to number 8, and I'm doing them just for the sake of it, not really studying the market.  My tutors advice is invaluable, and wouldn't it be best used on an article that I'm considering to send off to a publication? Giving it a better chance of being printed?

So should I follow my heart, and go with the fiction assignments - as I really want to get a short story published!  And the fiction modules may help with the editing/writing of my novel. 

Or continue, with my head, and do the non-fiction?

I think one of my worries is that if I give up the non-fiction, I may not get the same tutor back - and I like my tutor, which is why I am hesitant to switch.

Any advice gratefully received!  Because I'm now confused.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Climbed Out Of Limbo Land

Look! Real helicopter we can 'play' in!
Last Friday I received a response from my tutor saying she'd be happy for me to cover a museum (as I'd suggested) instead of a trade fair (as there weren't any for a while that I could attend, and felt it was holding the assignment up).  So yesterday we took the boys to the Helicopter Museum, and I was taking notes (well taking photographs of information I might need - it's easier!) as we walked around.  I only need to write a 500-750 word colour piece, so it's more to grab the sense of atmosphere really.  Have absolutely no idea where I would send this, might try the Mercury for a spot of free publicising for the museum.

The boys loved the trip out!  Already asking when they can go back.  Kieran had to know what every single helicopter was called - and his dad had to tell him, not me!  They were both fascinated and walked around with interest.  Maybe they will become the fourth generation of engineers in the Morgan family?

The hanger was cold, so we warmed up afterwards with lunch in the café and the ticket allows us now to come back for free for a year!

Finally I have my material for my 7th Assignment! I've even started a ghost story that was for Writing Magazine competition, but as it's due the 14th March, and my betas have suggested things to take it over the competition's word count, I might just write it and see if I can sell it to a short story magazine. I also started writing the last story of my series in my fan fiction.  It's romance, so will be good practise and at least I'm writing!

I never had writers block as such, I just didn't know what to write, and with this damn assignment, and the feeling of wanting to finish it, hindering me, I wasn't doing any constructive writing.

So, yes, now, I want my RSI to completely disappear and then I can just get on with it.  But it looks like I'll be tackling this stuff in bite size chunks (to manage my RSI), yet at least I now know what I want to be writing about.  I've got some projects to keep me busy until editing The Wedding Favour, which I'm not going to start until April.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Small Ray Of Sunshine

I wished I'd saved my daffodil photo until now!

Thanks to the world of Twitter, a friend tweeted me (@Natalieroberts1 - a fellow Writer's Bureau student) congratulating me on my letter being published in Sainsbury's Magazine.

I'd totally forgotten that in January I'd sent a letter off to them and had even forgot to note it on my spreadsheet.  (I note everything I've sent to keep track of it).  I also keep all of my sent emails, but this one had gone into a different folder.

Anyway, though I am yet to see it for myself - I'll try to wait until Friday when I'm meeting a friend for coffee at Sainsbury's cafe, they do a wicked cappuccino! - apparently I've had my letter published.

I panicked initially too.  What if it was March issue and I'd just missed it? (I know it's March, but magazines like to publish a month ahead - not even sure what that's about).  But phew, it is the April edition.  

After the last couple of days feeling a bit depressed with my writing (or the lack of it) this was a nice little bonus.  Okay, it's not a paid published piece, but it's still a letter, and they're not easy to get published.  I'm assuming this counts to my writing CV?  Well, I'm making it count.

Two letters published and it's only the 2nd March! Whooo hooo!

Oh and I will say, (as they published my letter!) Sainsbury's Magazine is only £1.60 and is a good read, with some smashing recipes.  Considering Good Food or Good Housekeeping is around £3.60, it's an excellent, value for money buy. 

I'll keep trying to get an article in there...

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Pinch Punch

And years ago, when I was a silly teenager, we had the saying, "flea injection, shield all over," before anyone could pinch us!  I wonder if any of my readers (they'll know who they are) remember that.

My daffodils - officially Spring is here!

So yes, it's the first of March. Daffodils are flowering on my front lawn, and I have clusters of mini daffodils (like above) along my front path.  But where did the last two months go?

I swear, having kids, and them being in school, makes time fly.  Before you know it one term is ending, then another beginning. My son is half way through Year 1.  It feels like yesterday he started Reception!  At this rate, Kieran will be off to school in no time (this September), and I have mixed feelings about that.  On the one side, I'm going to get six hours a day, five days a week, to concentrate on writing (plus housework and exercising).  I might even get some of my evenings back to relax a little, not that I don't enjoy writing in the evening.  I enjoy writing full stop.  On the other side of the coin, my baby is growing up!  And although he drove me barmy today, I will actually miss him.

Yesterday was his swimming lesson, even his tutor, Karen, thinks he's going to be a great diver!  (Should I be laughing at him?  He sometimes has me in hysterics).  He sort of swims like he's riding a bike in water.  Too bent kneed.  But he'll get there, eventually.  But he loves going under the water and jumping in.  The boy has no fear.

Tonight I started reading The Freelance Writer's Handbook by Andrew Crofts.  I've been feeling lost and unmotivated the past few days, the 7th assignment hanging over me and failing to write, not sure what to start etc.  In limbo land.  A friend recommened that I just concentreate on something else, so that's what I will do.  After some discussion through Twitter too (if you can do that in 140 characters), I also sorted out my study a little.  Tidy study, tidy mind, or something like that?  And last night I did email Writer's Bureau.  I may swap over to the fiction side of my coursework - still in two minds about that (hate the idea of quitting, yet I will come back to it, just my brain feels hell bent on wanting to write fiction), yet I'll see what they say.  So, I thought I'd start reading this, chapter a night, or every other night, to get it to sink in, maybe help motivate or inspire me.

I've also booked an appointment with my friend (who's a beautician) for a massage.  I think my back is full of knots and tension, which is not helping ease my RSI. 

I think the main reason I'm depressed this week is it's, you know what... I'm always low, ratty, frustrated, and generally on a downer this time of the month.  Next week I'll be full of sunshine and energy - you watch!

Now off to take a look at a ghost story I started...