My Writing Journey: tips for writers.

As I came into publication week for my very first published novella, I thought to myself about how my writing journey has gone so far. It started oddly, spurred on by my fortieth birthday and the realisation that I had not yet written a book, despite it being my only real ambition. I recall my English teacher telling me that I would make a great writer when I was sixteen. I studied English at A-Level and loved playing around with words and language in general. It took me a while to actually get around to putting pen to paper (or fingers to ipad) and get down to that first draft. I know now, no matter how successful I am (or not), I am going to be a writer from now on. I love it!

Process

I began by attending a writing group in my home town. It was lovely to meet other people who wanted to write, either for fun or professionally and I learned a lot every time they shared their work and together we unpicked and celebrated each piece with the tutor. I read out a chapter that I had written, dallying with the idea of growing it into a story one day. They liked it and it seemed to flow, so I carried on writing chapters for a bit. At the same time, I toyed with short stories. The first one was called ‘The Oddest of Dates’ so I kept with this theme and wrote a whole collection of stories about dating, love and loss. This was then published on Amazon as my self-pub debut. I enjoyed the feedback and used no marketing. It was wonderful to see about fifty people buy it and explore my little stories and this made me want to present another chapter from my story to the writing class. Again this was well received and so I carried on writing. I knew it would be a novella as the story was clear and crisp and I had no need to stretch it out for hundreds of pages. The story told itself. Writing that novella was the best experience for me. I was surprised by how the story just flowed and how easy it was to convey.

Editing

Then came the editing. By this time, due to timetabling issues, I had not been able to keep going to the writing group but I was very grateful for my time there. I spent a while going over my story and making tweaks and checking that everything fitted together without timelines clashing. One of my biggest issues was I sometimes forgot who was related to whom and I had to double check I had used the right character names throughout. I remember accidentally writing a letter from a character and not noticing that I had put the same name at the top and bottom of it. Essentially, she had written to herself.

When I was happy, I approached a small publishing firm and they agreed to publish it, if on a relatively small scale. It would be mainly available online as an ebook and paperback (print on demand). After having them format it and edit it before proposing what I wanted the cover art to be like, they came up with a lovely design which brought tears to my eyes.

Now, my book is published and out there awaiting book bloggers to examine it and reviewers to sample it. Fingers crossed you like it.

My top tips for writing are:

1) Get someone to read your chapters one at a time and check for fluidity as well as consistency of characters, times and viewpoint.

2) Leave the manuscript alone for a few weeks after you finish it, before beginning the editing process.

3) While you are writing, build up a good rapport with people from the reading community on social media and ensure you develop your network.

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Bag of nerves

As my ebook is published,

I sit by myself,

Wondering if anyone,

Will put it on their kindle shelf.

As my ebook is published,

I bite on my nails,

Thinking what to do next,

Hoping that I don’t fail.

As my ebook is published,

I drink lots of coffee,

Have sleepless nights

And snack on a toffee.

As my ebook is published,

I dream of reviews,

Writing is the future,

That I will now choose.

If

If I were an animal…

I would be a sloth

And slumber the days away,

Hoping that time might stand still.

If I were a plant…

I would be a cactus

And reside in the desert,

Absorbing the sunlight quietly.

If I were an object,

I would be a pillow

Longing for cuddles

Chilling on the bed constantly.

Kylie – still the Queen

Well last night marked the eighth time that I had seen Kylie live in concert since 2001 and it seemed even more special. The open air venue in Manchester was full of 8000 people and yet felt so intimate. Kylie was radiant and full of energy as usual.

Replicating some of the routines from her record breaking Glastonbury performance and adding some personalised bits, she kept a very enthusiastic crowd satisfied. Some inflatable air- Kylies also made their contribution.

Getting a boy on stage to sing Wild Roses a-cappella was a lovely touch. Kylie did her usual fast costume changes and seemed to feed off of the energy in the brilliant venue, Castlefield Bowl. Manchester was rocking and nearby residents were getting a great view from their balconies. So many were singing along to hits as recent as ‘Dancing’ to more fan pleasing oldies such as ‘The One.’

The night ended with confetti being thrown into the crowd lit by rainbow colours.

If you haven’t managed to get tickets for Kylie summer then consider buying her Number One – Step back in time – collection album.

Toy Story 4 – Review

This is just a brief review of the commercially very successful movie, ‘Toy Story 4’.

I knew there was a buzz about this film and because the Toy Story franchise goes back to the early nineties there is also quite a but of nostalgia. I don’t often see animations these days but this one was very intriguing.

I was glad to discover return of the original cast members and from the word go Tom Hanks, Tim Allan and the gang transported me back into that toy box and immersed me into a believable world where toys really do come to life every time their owner goes out.

The story was cleverly threaded together with the main focus being on a brand new toy which was made by their owner using a spork. Forky was entertaining and enabled Woody to go on adventures to keep him safe and stop him heading for the trash.

Some creepy dolls were trying to steal Woody’s voice box and I actually found then quite scary. The heart of this movie was the close bond between the toys, which was drawn out in a situation involving Bo Peep. You can see what happened for yourself.

Overall, this was Disney magic at its best. Slick. Funny. I would definitely say it is well worth going to watch.

Learning a new skill

Well something that has really pulled my attention is a new hobby of mine. I have finally got around to dusting the keyboard that I bought 14 years ago and actually paying someone to teach me how to play the thing.

Luckily reading music soon came back to me. I had about a year’s worth of lessons playing the cello back in the late 1980s but never saw them through, sadly. This time I am more determined as piano is something that really thrills me. I love a soft melody and a traditional musical number.

Right now, as well as practising chords and going over using my left and right hands separately, in turn, I am trying hard to become tuneful with The Greatest Love Of All. Remembering Whitney is motivating me to get to grips with this timeless classic.

I hope that I can keep the motivation, keep attending the classes and remember to devote twenty minutes each day to maintain the practice. I would ask you to consider playing a musical instrument as it is great for stress as well as allowing you to have a sense of achievement.

Writing books and playing melodies are my favourite things to do. What are your hobbies?