Friday, 26 December 2008

A very merry christmas to all

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Latest news

More and more books are appearing in the lists of online retailers from the pens of members. It is very exciting and a thrill to see. Especially books that I have reviewed and enjoyed.

Congratulations to all who have been published so far and happy selling.

I am still eagerly awaiting mine, but due to the massive volume of books it will take time.

So watch this space folks, hopefully this blog owner will be a published author very soon.

In the meantime, do check out the other authors on my list at the top and my growing 'book shop' on my website.

Monday, 8 December 2008

Excitement mounts as D-Day approaches for members of

Excitement and tension is rising for all of the writers who have taken part in the Arts Council sponsored publishing deal. We should start hearing about our books tomorrow.

This is a colossal task for Edward Smith and his team and the people of Legend Press, who have worked around the clock to fulfil 5000 authors dreams.

It is also going to be very beneficial, too, as 10% of profits will be donated to charity. The first of which is Sightsavers International. A very worthy cause indeed. Sight is so precious and considering that 75% of the 37 Million men, women and children who are blind, needn't be.

Many celebrities are ambassadors and supporters of this vital charity, including Joanna Lumley, Gordon Ramsay, Graham Le Saux and Debra Winger.

You will have noticed that I have a list of our authors at the top of my blog. I am also going to have a showcase on my website of as many of the books that will be on sale as I can. I will be a wee bit busy if I manage to locate all of them!

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Allan Mayer's blog. Check it out!

For anyone who's self publishing, including the 5000, Allan Mayer's blog is full of support, information and lovely bunnies! Click the title and check it out.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Keeper of the Enchanted Pool – A journey from Maine, New England, USA to Devon, Old England, UK!

My children's fantasy novel came as quite a surprise to me, having been more interested in writing and reading crime and thrillers. It was born in Maine, home of my hero Stephen King, in Dysarts Truck Stop.

My husband and I went to live in Prince Edward Island, Canada, for a while. Where he worked for a trucking company. I went out on the road with him as he could be gone for as long as eight days and he needed the company, (looking after). It was a really great experience. We travelled from the Island to many places in America and Canada. As far south as North Carolina, and west to Ontario and north to Quebec, Brrrr!

The most thrilling sight for me, was seeing the Amish in Pennsylvania. They stood by the side of the road complete with long hair and beards, black clothes and straw hats, men that is, no women about. We even saw them in their horse drawn buggies.

So, back to my children's book and the truck stop. I... had a dream... I did honest, and when I woke up I wrote as much as I could remember. I then began to start writing a few ideas in my notebook and transferring them to my laptop when we stopped. Before I knew it, I had a 16,000 word story that was growing fast and almost completely out of my control. The characters had taken over! This was a first for me, I had read that it can happen in Stephen Kings, On Writing, (a very amusing and informative must read for aspiring writers), but thus far it hadn't happened to me. Things happened I didn't plan. it was a very weird but satisfying feeling.

I finished writing the last few pages in England. A complete 45,000 word children's story. I did leave it alone to 'prove' for a while whilst I carried on with other work. When I did read through it again, it was so weird. 'Did I write this?' I couldn't remember writing much of it. Such a strange experience. I then did what I considered to be a thorough redraft. Then sent it out to various agents and a couple of publishers, with a firm 'No,' response from all.

The one good thing that came out of it was a referral to YouWriteOn.Com from Chicken House I didn't look at their website straight away, mores the pity, as I was wallowing in self pity about my poor rejected baby. It was a couple of months later that I was going through my little pile of rejects that I read the letter from Chicken House again, and thought I'd take a look at YWO. That was a big turning point in my writing career. Lottie – my pet name for Keeper of the Enchanted Pool– was praised, ripped to shreds, criticised, lambasted in every way and loved. It was a metamorphic journey that has turned my very rough draft into what I, and many other think, is a lovely book for children.

But for the help of all the reviewers on, my book would probably still be 'unpublishable rubbish', as one unsolicited reviewer told me at the start.

Yes, it was hard work getting the textblock and cover ready to send to the printer. I learned many new things, postscript files, pre-flight checks, distilling etc. Using my printer, Lightning Source's template for my book cover. It's a wonder I have any hair left! But, although I didn't get much sleep and my nerves went through the grinder, I can actually say that I loved every minute of it.

My daughter, Emma Hogan,BA, did a sterling job on a picture for the cover for me. It was as much stress for her, too, as she knows how important the cover is.

Keeper of the Enchanted Pool is published by Arts Council sponsored and Legend Press.



Monday, 7 July 2008

Something queer has happened!

Yes, you've guessed it, I've just started reading one of Enid Blyton's Famous Five books, with all those lovely old words and phrases that we don't, or can't use any more. Well, as the title suggests, something jolly queer has happened. A very nice fellow in Chicago, wants to read my book Green Eyes, Black Heart, with a view to writing a screenplay for a film. And, he works for The Leo Burnett Agency, one of the biggest companies in the world! (Jeremy Clerkson impression). How jolly spiffing is that? (spellchecker didn't like spiffing!)

It was a jolly fine fellow, telling another jolly fine fellow, all about it. ENOUGH of the 1940's prose; it's too long winded and tiresome. Needless to say, I'm quite excited at the prospect, should it come to fruition, and if it doesn't? That's for another day, and another blog. In the meantime, however, I have all these thoughts buzzing around in my head, beginning with what if...? I haven't got the foggiest idea what happens in such a case. Who does what, to whom and when. It's another puzzle to be solved. But for now, I'm off back to Kirrin Island to see what that queer fellow, Uncle Quentin, is up to in the glass tower with all those wires waving around queerily! Ahh, research! I love it. Toodle pip.

Sunday, 22 June 2008

YouWriteOn and a whole new world!

I have been very lax of late with writing blogs; I think it has been over a month now! So I thought it was about time I wrote one.

Since the last entry, I have been extremely busy with writing and all the usual, and unusual, day-to-day stuff, and most of all the world has opened up to me. Since becoming a member of YouWriteOn I have been in contact with people from all over the world, and have made a lovely new friend too. It is a lot like the old days when we had pen friends, usually instigated by the school, only better, as you don't have to wait for letters by air mail. Ah the wonders of modern technology!

I have been truly amazed at how much I have learned from others on the site, we are all at varying stages with our writing abilities, but everyone has something to contribute in one way or another. It helps that there is such a high membership of excellent writers to impart their wisdom.

Aside from learning new aspects of the craft, there is the feeling of not being alone. As every writer knows how solitary the life is, so it is nice to share ones frustrations, and up's and down's with people who know exactly how you feel.

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

It’s raining words... Hallelujah!

Well, who wants it to rain men when you have the perfect man, yes I know that's a mythical beast, but he's close enough for jazz. Besides, all those hulking great males falling out of the sky, there's bound to be a fatality.

I have often wondered about the writer's block, that is the bane of many fellow writers, and wondered why I don't get it. Completely the opposite in fact, hell, even writing a simple email can turn into a short story. I have what can be loosely described as, writer's keyboard runs. There is so much in my head that wants to come out; I can hardly keep up with it.

Many authors' talk about their Muse, and in particular Stephen King talks about it running over, taking a bite and then running away, well mine takes a ruddy great bite out of my butt, and hangs on. Take for instance my book about Lottie, The Keeper of the Enchanted Pool. I sat down in the motel on Prince Edward Island, and wrote solidly for almost a week and ended up with over sixteen thousand words. All the time my muse had his whip out. Even on the plane coming back home it wouldn't shut up.

I am not complaining, even though it may sound like I am, I hate to think how I'd feel or what I'd do if my ideas suddenly dried up and the words wouldn't come. Until that time, if it comes, I have so many ideas for other books, scribbled in notebooks, and others clamouring in my head to get out. Even my dreams are full of ideas.

So I guess it's back to the men analogy... So many ideas, so little time.

Friday, 25 April 2008

Sister with hidden talent

My sister has been hiding her light under a bushel, well in her loft really, but that doesn't have quite the same impact. I had no idea she had such a treasure trove of beautiful glass, vases, pots and many other things that she has painted. She lives in America, and I haven't seen any of it, nor indeed did I know about it.

I knew she could paint, as she did a beautiful painting for her GCE, but this. She has goldmine in her hands and I am going to help prospect it! I am going to help her sell her art. It's such a shame for beautiful objects to be hiding away from view. It won't be without its difficulties given the distances involved but we will manage.

No I am not bored, as I have plenty of writing to be keeping myself busy until the Grim Reaper shakes his scythe at me. It is just so nice to be able to tell someone how genuinely good their work is, in any field, and to encourage them to go on doing something they love. Besides we have to shift it, or she will have to move to a bigger house!

I have had a big thumbs up from my Dad and my sister, which is quite something, as a qualified teacher he would not give false praise, and a lovely comment from an Australian and an American too. So at present there aren't enough hours in the day/night, jeeze this is full of clich├ęs, but busy is happy, and I am that.

So all you writers and artists, or whatever you do in life, keep at it and... Be Happy. That's a title of another of my books, but that's another story. Ouch!

Thursday, 17 April 2008

A new book to add to my collection

I have just managed to get hold of The Dean Koontz Companion! It has an in depth interview with him, his first published short story, and a complete annotated guide to all his novels up to 1994, when the book was published. Best of all, there are a couple of chapters about writing too. Well worth a read if you can get a copy.

I had a brilliant review from one of the members of YouWriteOn for my book about Lottie today. The feeling I get isn't one of, 'I'm a great and it's about time someone noticed.' It's a tingly thrill and pep to keep writing, as maybe it's working.

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Sweet and Sour

Yesterday my day started perfectly.  I had an email from the agent who requested my book on cd informing me that it had arrived safely.  It was a relief as I hadn't posted it registered, having read in various sources that it is not the done thing.  He will give me a reply within four weeks. 

I am hoping he has overlooked my senior moment, as, in my haste to get it on disc and off in the post, I had forgotten to write an accompanying letter to pop in.  With the pressure of the imminent closure of the Post Office, I hastily ran off a short letter.  Happy with the fact that I had made the PO deadline, I set about occupying myself with various activities to keep my mind off it.  Then quelle horreur!!  My hubby noticed I had written the title wrong in the letter!  I wrote forest, instead of pool.   Heaven only knows where that came from, as I have never even considered the word in my long search for the right title.  Hubby tells me not to be so paranoid, and that it won't matter.  It doesn't stop me from feeling an incompetent idiot.Nerd

Well, back to yesterday.  I had a nice parcel in the post, my pressure cooker.  What fun, now I can make the stews I love, where even the toughest bit of beef is perfectly tender.  I can also make marmalade, and ensure all the peel is tender, and won't be scraped to one side by any of my sprogs.

Then, a phone call, some very sad news.  I will not go into personal family details on here though.

I hope you check out my new website. I haven't quite finished adding content yet, and it is live immediately!  I am not a computer whizz, but I'll give anything a try.  Anyone is free to email me with advice on the content, layout etc.

Saturday, 5 April 2008

Words of wisdom from Stephen King in The Washington Post

I just found an article by Stephen King today. Although the date is 1st October 2006, it is timeless. I thought I would pop the link on and share it with whoever is interested in the man, his work and writing. Sound pearls of wisdom from the King! Good picture on there too. No, I am not an old groupie, it's just a good shot!

I have removed the url and popped it on my list of favourite websites. Now you only have to click on it.

Friday, 4 April 2008

What an amazing week!

I have had such an amazing week. First of all, one of my daughters found my sister and family, who we lost contact with over six years ago. She found them on Facebook, so I guess it does have its uses. I am delighted they are all alive and well, and as you can imagine there has been much to talk about. Some very happy events, like the birth of two beautiful babies to my Niece. A little brother and sister for my handsome Great Nephew, and a couple of adorable puppies that my sister's dog produced. There was also the awful sadness of telling them about my son's death. They all live 3884.47 miles away in Chicago, and I can't wait to see them all again.

Then the next exciting thing to happen was an email from an agent that I had sent my book about Lottie to, asking for the whole book on a cd! I know it doesn't mean it's time to get the champers out yet, but oh boy it's such a thrill. Even if he decides against it, it's a big step up from total rejection, and it gives me hope.

And I bought another copy of Stephen King's On Writing, (my bible) that I found on eBay, while my other copy is lazing about in a box in Charlottetown, Canada. Oh, and an old pressure cooker with the three baskets, much better than the modern version. (Little things...!)

So all in all, it's been a grand week. Now all I have to do, is try and distract myself from worrying about whether or not the book I gave birth to in a truck in Maine, will be printed on paper other than my 80gsm A4!!!

Thursday, 27 March 2008

Messed up Laptop

I haven't posted for a while for several reasons, one of which is due to pure stupidity!

Tea and laptops don't mix. I was giving my hubby his morning cuppa and spilt some of mine on his keyboard. Well I was trying to help him retrieve something from the top draw of his bedside cabinet that he couldn't find. 'I was only trying to help,' she wailed, before running for tissues.

The laptop worked fine for about half an hour after it's mopping up session, then the letters went do– lally, constant speeding ccccccccccccccccccc. Not wishing to put him out of action, heaven forbid, I gave him mine to use.

After dashing out in the rush hour traffic to buy a special screw driver, and taking the laptop to bits, I find I only had to undo two screws to get the keyboard out. That was one evening gone. Still it's a damn good screw driver and has served me well as I have done other things to our laptops...

After taking out the keyboard I dried it properly, took off all the keys and washed and dried them, put it back together, and it was worse. Totally useless, I now needed a new one, or...

I had once thought it might be an idea to get a wireless keyboard. Yes, for my laptop. Do I hear you cry 'Nutter.' Ah ha there is a valid reason, or two. I only have little hands and the keyboard can be quite a reach with the touch pad in the way, and as I do a lot of writing I thought a wireless keyboard would be a good idea. Then there is the heat. My laptop gets hot on my lap, I mean it's bad enough trying to control hot flushes without having a mini radiator on your knees.

Thinking it would be cheaper to get said wireless keyboard, hubby and I went to shop and found a wireless bundle. Oh joy... I wanted a wireless mouse too. Get back home eager to use my laptop. Yes I have it back but minus a working keyboard, as I put it in hubbies. Getting quite good at electrical stuff aren't I? Anyway I digress, the mouse worked like a dream, and it was in a little reachargeable thingy with pretty flashing lights. But... the keyboard didn't work! Back to the shop, with the Mall emptying out, exchanged for new box of tricks, then back into the queue of traffic that had deliberately changed direction and swapped to our side of the road. Like it does. Open up box, connect everything, and... the wireless keyboard works like a dream, but... the mouse? Not a b****y flicker.

I now have a new keyboard for my laptop, American version, so some keys are different, but my fingers know what I want. I also have a new mini wired mouse and am quite happy. After discovering the insides of my laptop and found I could do things to it without breaking anything, I have upgraded the memory on both. Now I think I had better leave well alone.

Since then I have been very busy with a wonderful site a publisher told me about, where you review other peoples work and vice versa. It has helped me a great deal, and I hope I am being useful too. If your work is rated high enough, agents and publishers review it too. Fingers crossed. Off to do another review now. Toodle Pip.

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Writing Interrupted By Earthquake!

Well that was a bit of excitement, wasn't it? Are there any other writers out there who write at night and felt it?

It was a bit like being in the Exorcist, as my bed shook, and if the house hadn't been having a noisy shimmy at the same time, I would have suspected Old Nick himself.

Although somewhat unsettling at first, I found it quite exciting, as I have always said I wanted to be in an earthquake. My passion for Geology began when I was studying the Earth Sciences section of my Science Foundation course with the Open University, so much so, that I went on to take a degree in Geology at the University of Bristol. Sadly due to personal problems I couldn't finish the course, but still have a passion for it.

The Earth is such a fascinating thing, and when you think that nearly every thing you see, or have, has been through the rock cycle. Even Flora and Fauna rely on the minerals in the soil for life. It is so powerful, that man will never be able to control it. It makes me laugh when I see such things as helicopters dumping water on a lava flow.

When you consider that the quake we had in the early hours of this morning, was more powerful than the atomic bomb in Hiroshima, and was quite small in the scheme of things, it certainly makes you, well me anyway, full of respect for such power. We may well obliterate the life on this magnificent planet, but we will never tame it.

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Writers Beware

I am so glad that I have regularly backed up all my precious files, including sending copies of my work to myself and my husband in emails, as my hard drive is on the blink.

I have already had to replace my husband's hard drive after it expired, and although this was before we went to Canada, I can still remember how it started to behave before it finally popped its clogs. Even though I still have 40% of space and have used the defragmenter, it keeps jamming and running slow. The screen didn't work this morning and panic set in, but I managed to sort it out – for now – and have bought a new one from the Bay.

Although most of us now couldn't be without our computers, and the time they save, there is something to be said for the good old typewriter. So back up everything, no matter what, you never know when disaster may strike. Whether it be a deceased hard drive, a stolen laptop, a flood or a fire, you just never know when lightening will strike.

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

The X Factor?

It occurred to me today, that sending your precious work to a publisher is akin to being in front of the panel on the X factor. They have so many people to sift through, many of whom can't sing for toffee; indeed many are too embarrassing to watch they are so bad.
The sad thing is most of them think they really are good!

It must be the same with writing, as we all think our stories are wonderful pieces of prose or poetry, or we wouldn't submit them to an agent or publisher. The awful truth is that most unpublished writers have only their family and friends opinion about their work. They are bound to be kind and supportive about any work presented by a very proud writer, even if it's really bad. Which is just the same as angry relatives yelling at Simon Cowell et al, because they won't put through their totally tone deaf, screeching little darling.

So the work gets sent to a publisher or agent who sends it back, wishing them well elsewhere, and the writer thinks, Never mind, all the best authors have loads of rejection letters, and gaily sets about getting another presentation together to send to the next on the list. How long will it take to realise, if ever, that they don't have a scrap of talent, or if they do they need to take a course.

Contrary to popular belief, it is not a soft option to attempt to make a living from the craft that you love, it is damned hard work. So please, if you are one of those people who think you have a book in you, (one isn't enough though, unless you're famous for something like kicking a ball about or getting your kit off in Big Brother), but haven't got the foggiest idea how to write it, either get some help, or in the words of my idol Stephen King, do yourself a favour and – forgeddaboudit!!

It might be a good idea if agents and publishers had more than the one standard rejection letter on their comps to print off. The, 'it's not for us etc.', letter, and a special one for total illiterates telling them to seek help or forget it, and take up something nice like knitting. Still, maybe I'd get one of those, who knows?!!

Monday, 4 February 2008

Homeless Guy in the Bronx

Click on the pic to enlarge it. It is a pic I took when things were moving slow on the freeway through the Bronx. It was on one of our many trips from the Island to Willmington Docks, New Jersey. The Flying J at Carney's Point was one of our favourite stops.
His placard reads, Homeless with aids pleas hlep. So I'm not the only one who can't spell!
He has a little cat poking out of his coat too. Wonder what this poor guy's story is
Well I better stop messing about with my blog and get on with some real work. I think I've found a template that I like now, and it reminds me of New England.

The secret work of the brain.

Something wonderful happened in bed on Saturday Night. No I'm not lowering the tone of my blog... how could you think that! I'm surprised at you. Wot appened woz, I had an idea about the start of my novel about Lottie. The beginning had been nagging me, even though I had changed it following advice from other writers, I didn't think it had that 'hook' of a promise of exciting things to come.

I was laying there at three in the morning listening to the dulcit sounds of my husband snoring, and wondering if I would get to sleep before the sun came up, when out of the blue an opening scene popped into my head. I made notes quickly before I forgot, pushed my hubby over to lay on his side, and finally managed to get to sleep.

The next day I was able to write the new opening and am now satisfied with it, and hope this will be the missing something that was needed to keep Lottie from ending up in the reject pile.

'Why are you telling me all this drivel,' I hear you ask?

I think that our brains, on a consious level don't like to be pressured into finding an answer to a problem. The more one thinks about about the problem, e.g. an all important idea for a scene, the more you think about it, the worse it gets and you end up totally confused, and think you will never make it in the literary world. When you leave it alone and think, sod it, I'll get on with something else, then a part of your subconcious carries on in seclusion without your nagging and when you least expect it...'Hey bone head, I worked it out for you, better get it down before you forget. Quit with the pressure in future, it gives me a headache.'

In other words. don't tie yourself up in knots over your work, if you can't work something out without too much angst and time wasting, leave it alone and work on something else, it'll come to you when you least expect it.

The other reason is to let all you victims of snoring partners know you are not alone!!!

Thursday, 31 January 2008

One more to add to the pile

Well, talk of the devil and he shall appear. Had another big brown envelope this morning. You know what it means before you open it, but there is always that irrational hope that they have run out of the nice little white envelopes they use to ask for the rest of your mss and have had to use yours.
I left it till last to open in the hope something magical is happening inside while I read the other post, Readers Digest draw for someone who lived in my house years ago, water bill final demand. Oh what the hell, am I bovvered, all par for the course, and all great writers have a mile high stack of rejection slips to look back at and laugh over don't they?
This time it's a standard letter with the title and my details written in ink in the spaces left in the text, on top of my pristine first three chapters. Did they read it all through I wonder?
Hey ho, it's not the end of the world at least I love it. Doesn't a mother love even the ugliest child she has produced!