Wednesday, 21 December 2011

ROW 80 check-in 21st December Wrapping up the year!

It has been a great year in terms of my writing. I feel I have achieved so much mainly because I actually have been writing! I started my blog in June and in the six months I have been blogging and writing I have learnt so much and written....80,000+ words on various projects. Not bad for half a year!

I took part in Round 3 and 4 of ROW 80 although round 4 didn't go quite to plan. Me and my boyfriend broke up at the start of September and while we sorted things out (which took the best part of 3 months) I didn't want to say what had happened. I think I thinly veiled it as 'something in my personal life' that put me off chick-lit and most of you probably guessed what was going on. We are going our separate ways which makes me sad but at least I know where I stand.

The reason I bring this up is I am looking forward. New year, new start and all that. New goals for writing and life in general. It has been a sad few months but I now know where I stand and I hope me and him can remain friends in some form. In the meantime I will make my goals and decide what I want from 2012. It is scary to be making decisions by myself again but in a way it is liberating.

Here is to a happy, healthy 2012! Merry Christmas everyone :)

Sunday, 18 December 2011

ROW80 Check-in 18th December

Not a huge amount to report again this end. I am now finished for our Christmas holidays which is a big relief as it has been a long, busy, stressful term. So for now, I want to try and switch off my brain and sleep!

On the reading front I am now on my 65th book of the year. Will try for 70 since I am not at work but with lots of lovely times with family and friends it might not happen but I can but try. 100 next year will be a tall order...will have to keep my eyes open for some shorter books!

Newtowritinggirl asked if I am going to review any of the books I am going to try and read. I have never written a book review but I think this is something I might try. I am going to think about the frequency, maybe one a month as that is 12 in the year (aren't I good at Maths!) but will think on it more before I finalise my goals.

I did bring the print outs of some of my chick-lit book To my parents so I might cast my eyes over that I. Find time amongst the festivities!

Hope everyone is having a great week. One week till Christmas!!!

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

ROW80 Check-in 14th December

More musings this end and some as a result of helpful comments made by newtowritinggirl (thank you!). If I focus on my chick-lit what about my NaNo murder mystery? Even if I don't 'do' anything with it surely editing and revising is something I need to learn and I would feel a great sense of achievement if I knew I had gone back and made it better.

With this in mind maybe my ROW80 goal in January will be to write or revise an hour a day. Then I can go between the two and focus on what I want as my mood arises. As a plan it might be ok and I guess I can tweak this goal as needed!!

Things are crazy this end and we had our nativity play today, so proud of all my little ones but will be ready for bed early tonight!

Hope everyone is having a great week even though it is FREEZING here!

Sunday, 11 December 2011

ROW80 Check-in 11th December 2011

Should be short but sweet today.

Still pleased I have signed up for the 100 books in a year reading challenge. Two books a week will be tough but I will try my best.

I am 99% sure next year I am going to continue writing my chick-lit story that I was writing in the summer. There are 30,000 words already although I know there needs to be some heavy editing but I think this will be how I start my writing year for 2012. I feel excited by this!!!

I am also going to add in exercise goals as lets say.....things have slipped recently on the food and exercise front.

Feel like I know where I am heading so fingers crossed I get my head in gear for the start of 2012 (and also make an amazing sticker chart to motivate me like newtowritinggirl!)

Hope everyone has had a great week and two weeks today it will be Christmas!

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

ROW80 Check-in 7th December

To kick off this weeks post I am going to announce the reading challenge I am going to take part in next year.

Yes that is right. I am going attempt to read 100 books or more in 2012!!! I am currently on my 62nd book of the year so it would be a big challenge but that is the point of challenges isn't it? They are meant to be a CHALLENGE!!

Here are the rules:
Challenge Details
Timeline: 01 Jan 2012 - 31 Dec 2012
Rules: Read 100+ books in 2012 (any genre)
You don't have to select your books ahead of time, you can just add them as you go. Also if you do list them upfront you can change them, nothing is set in stone! The books you choose can crossover into other challenges you have on the go.
You can join at anytime. All books read in 2012 count towards the challenge regardless of when you sign up.
At the beginning of Jan 2012, you will find a link to specific month to add your reviews.
Audiobooks do not count, but all other formats are accepted.
Only fiction, no non-fiction.
This challenge can crossover to other challenges.
I am really excited about this challenge, maybe because I have finally made a decision about the year ahead. No writing decisions yet, still thinking.
Now, I have been pondering and musing about NaNo and everything I learned during the process and it is about time I posted my thoughts. Here are some of the main things I discovered in the month of November.
1) Writing in chunks works for me. Especially when I have a target word count in mind. I wrote for a short period most mornings even though mornings aren't necessarily my best time. I liked having some of my word count under my belt and it helped me mull over my story as I went through the day. The rest of my words were in the evening between 7 and 8pm. I liked having a writing routine.
2) Writing with others helps. In my case this was writing during sprints with other ROW80ers/NaNoers coordinated on Twitter. Knowing other people where sitting and writing made me want to write and importantly KEEP UP with them! It was so great and seeing people's half time scores made me want to keep going so I could be up there with the biggest word counts. Next NaNo I would like to write at write ins etc. as I didn't do this during this NaNo this time. I may be more ready to come out of my writing closet next year!
3) Telling people helps. I told some of my close friends and family I was taking part in NaNo and they were so supportive. It made it alot easier to slope off and write because they knew what I was doing and also it gave me an added incentive to win.
4) Plan, plan, plan. I planned my outline, my plot and my characters complete with photos of famous people who looked like them. I planned my time and my food. I went off course at times but I was glad I had a course to try to stick to.
5) I can do it. I doubted myself a lot in the build up and during NaNo. Could I make myself write when I was tired, hungry, poorly, stressed? Yes I could and I did. Could I really write everyday? Yes. I have only been blogging and writing since June this year and I worried it was too early for NaNo but it turns out, it wasn't!
6) Think ahead. I never left my desk without knowing the next thing I would write. I was going to try the technique of stopping mid paragraph or sentence but this didn't work for me. I did think of the next scene and made a note of it so I never sat staring at an empty page. This was invaluable especially in the morning when me coffee hadn't done its magic yet.
So there are my discoveries. I loved NaNo and had been looking forward to it since I started blogging and actually writing. Now I have CampNaNo in my sights!
I hope everyone is having a wonderful week!

Sunday, 4 December 2011

ROW80 Check-in 4th December

Well this check-in won't be long because I have nothing really to check-in about! It was my friend's wedding yesterday and put simply, it was an amazing day! I loved being her bridesmaid and helping her with the preparations but seeing her married to such an amazing man, well that was wonderful. So I am on a bit of a post wedding come down at the moment and it seems strange that yesterday I spent most of my day at a gorgeous country hotel and tomorrow I will be back at work as normal.Well not quite normal as I seem to have developed a really sore throat so my voice is somewhat husky and has no power, not great for a teacher but I will do what I can!

In terms of writing, no plans have been made. I am just not sure what I want or where I am heading. Lena and myself wrote a post NaNo check-in over at our Fun not fear blog on Friday and Nadja asked a simple question about whether either of us planned on publishing next year and I couldn't help but think I don't have any idea what I am planning for the future.

I wrote my murder mystery for NaNo because things in my personal life were stopping me wanting to write chick-lit, the genre I had always wanted to write and had started writing. I finished my murder mystery and it would need lots of editing but what would I do with it then? Would I self-publish? Send it to agents? Do I even want to take this story forward? If I put something to agents would I want it to be a murder mystery or hold out until I have completed a chick-lit novel as this is the genre I see myself writing in? I don't know where I stand with any of these things. I am not sure my writing is strong enough to publish at all at the moment and to be honest I have never seen myself go the indie route. Never say  never but for now I don't think it is going to happen.

So I am still battling with the where I am heading next question. I am not going to make rash decisions, I am going to take my time and see what I think is the best plan. I tell you what I am enjoying since the end of NaNo though, reading! I hadn't read much at all during November as I just didn't have the time and when I got into bed at night I wanted to sleep not read so I am just enjoying that and since finishing NaNo I have read 2 books. On my 'Books I have read' page for this year there are 61 books. I want to see if I can get to 65 books atleast by December 31st. 65 books in a year sounds good. I like a round number but 70 seems to be quite far out of reach. I suppose I could try. Maybe for now my ROW80 goal should be recreational reading each day.

One thing I know is I want to take part in some kind of reading challenge next year and I will start to hunt around for different ones in the coming weeks. Sorry my check-ins have been streams of consciousness ones rather than goal acheivement ones but that is just where I am at the moment.

Fingers crossed I will make some decisions soon and on Wednesday I plan to post my reflections on NaNo in my check-in along with any developments. Hope everyone has had a brilliant start to December and I look forward to reading some check-ins to see how people are getting on.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

ROW80 Check-in 30th November

I cannot tell you how glad I am that I am not sprinting to the finish of NaNo today! Having said that I can't wait for next year and am considering CampNaNo as I am not at work for the month of August. I have been riding high on my 'win' and told my parents and friends who knew about I was doing it. One friend sent me a Congratulations ecard which was lovely. I have to say I didn't explain the concept of 'winning' that well to my mum because when I said 'I've won NaNo!' she thought it meant I was first place, the only winner and it meant I would be published! Even though it made me laugh it was nice she had such faith that what I have been toiling away at for the last month might actually be good! Was lovely.

I am going to post about all the things I learnt during NaNo but will save that for another day when I have reflected more. I want to say thank you to everyone who sprinted with me for being part of my daily routine and constantly pushing me to write more and more in that hour. One day maybe I will beat Gene in a sprint! Thank you to Gene and other sprinty sprinters newtowritinggirl, Nicole, Lena, Wendy Jane and Lauren how brought us all together and kept us on track! Thank you to everyone else who left encouraging comments, they really spurned me on especially when the tiredness was really kicking in!

Now on Sunday I mentioned I am not sure what I am going to do next. I am 100% sure I am not going to look at my NaNo murder mystery until January and I hope I will be pleasantly surprised by what I find. I am seriously considering returning to the chick-lit book I was writing in the summer as I have 30,000 plus words already but I seem to remember my MC was getting on my nerves, crying all the time so she would need alot of work but I loved the story idea. I have a hazy idea for another chick-lit book but not sure I want to pursue that at the moment. Oh decisions decisions.

newtowritinggirl suggested using writing prompts and possibly posting them here which makes me shudder but might be good for the busy month of December as it will keep me writing but I don't have to decide on a bigger project. So basically I am still in decision mode and this weekend is the weekend of my friend's wedding so I will be rocking my bridesmaid dress and having an amazing time. I will think about writing and mull things over but hold off making any firm goals at the moment.

I hope everyone who is still busy with NaNo has a brilliant last day and well done to everyone who has 'won'! We should all be published....after some careful editing of course!

Sunday, 27 November 2011

She shoots she scores!!! ROW80 Check-in 27th November

The last few days have been eventful in many ways. Mainly because I crossed the 50,000 word line for NaNoWriMo which makes me a winner!

I have to say it is an amazing feeling to complete such an intense challenge. I will no doubt post about what I have learned during the process but my brain needs a rest and to re-group before I attempt that!

My last days of NaNo were not as I expected. Quick summary of word counts:

Lots of my lovely sprinting friends were busy eating Turkey so I sat down at the usual time and wrote 770 words.


2,379 words over several hours.

Grand total - 50,006 words!!!

You see on Thursday it all went a bit wrong. Or right. I can't decide. I happily wrote and finished my story but I was only at 47,627 words. I always knew this was going to be a novella length piece (a la Agatha Christie) and that the intensity of NaNo was probably making me race through my story quicker than I would have otherwise but I still found myself at a bit of a loss.

I made some notes on things I had wanted to add in and decided I would do that on Saturday. I had plans Friday night so I was going to try and do some morning writing but I knew the adding in of bit would take lots of brain power and by friday morning, that was lacking. So Saturday night saw me sitting for several hours adding in bits and pieces that I feel added to the story. There was one bit between two minor characters that I love and am so glad I added in. I didn't want to add in for adding sake.

I added in all the bits I wanted and checked my scrivener word count and it was 50,014. Word made it 50,006 so I validated and won!!!!

I guess I had expected a frantic race to the finish on Wednesday with copious amounts of coffee and my hair getting wilder and wilder as my brain got hotter and hotter. But it wasn't like that. It was quite calm. I finished, tweeted that I had finished, text a couple of my friends that I had won and went to bed.

So what now? No I am seriously asking all of you. I need to think over the next couple of days what I want to do now. I feel like I want to leave my murder mystery to one side before I go back and edit it. I hope that isn't a big mistake. I just want some space from it as it has been consuming my thoughts for the last month and I want to approach it fresh. I really want to print some of it out as I like to scribble all over things rather than change them on the computer. Also, I am fed up of staring at a computer!

I have two children's stories in first draft stage and over 30,000 words of a chick-lit book that I stopped working on a while ago. So plan is to think about my next step. Another murder mystery? Although I found it ever so hard and I am not sure it is that 'clever' a plot or back to my first love chick-lit if I can get my head around it. Hmmm...time to think. I will check-in on Wednesday as usual and hopefully I will have decided on my next step.

This week is manic at work so I am so pleased I have won NaNo early so I can focus on what needs to be done for the inspection we have this week. And next saturday is the day I am being a bridesmaid for my lovely friend so this week needs to have lots of opportunities for rest too!

I hope everyone is doing well with their goals, NaNo related or not.

Thank you to everyone for your encouraging words, they really do help and mean alot.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

ROW80 Check-in 23rd November

I briefly looked back at my ROW80 Round 4 goals today and on the 1st November my goal became to write 1,666 words a day or 11,662 a week to keep on track for NaNo. I have succeeded at this and actually done better most days! Yay! I also wanted to check-in on both Wednesdays and Sundays and I have done this each week too. Need to think about what my goals will be after NaNo. Life after NaNo....what will that be like?!

To the word counts of the last few days:

1,887 words during one hour sprint
Day 21 total - 1,887

229 words when in from work
1,821 during one hour sprint
Day 22 total - 2,050

1,799 words during one hour sprint
Day 23 total - 1,799

So my grand total is now 46,857 words!!!

I have eased off the morning writing and actually think my sprint word counts have been better as a result. Whether that is because I am getting an extra 30 minutes in bed each morning or because I know I have to do all my days words in the evening I don't know. I am pleased with my word count today as I have had the first inspection at school and the preparation was exhausting. Next one is next week....oh the joy!

Not alot to report apart from my murderer has just been arrested! I am going to wrap things up with my detective and then I think I am going to insert some first person bits from the mind of the murderer earlier in the book. If I don't get to 50,000 by the time I have done this I don't know what I will do!!! With less than 4,000 words (squeal!) to write it is probably silly to worry about running out of story but I do. Fingers crossed it will all be well.

Then I have the fun of trying to compile it all in scrivener....might come asking for help with that nearer the time!

Hope everyone is doing well and will aim to get around to some check-ins over the coming days. Me and my burning eyes are off to bed soon.

ps. Don't forget Lena will be checking in over at Fun not fear on Friday for the final push through to the finish line!!!

Sunday, 20 November 2011

ROW80 Check-in Sunday 20th November

My software has behaved itself so I have had a happy few days of writing. I am still backing up daily though!

To the word counts -

656 words before work
1,488 in one hour sprint
Day 17 total - 2,144

1,114 words during one hour sprint
Day 18 total - 1,114

908 words in 45 minutes in the afternoon
518 in 30 minutes early evening
Day 19 total - 1,426

429 words in 30 minutes in the afternoon
1,630 words in one hour sprint
Day 20 total - 2,122

So my grand total is now 41,121!!!!

It felt so good to break the 40,000 word barrier today and I feel like things are on the right track. I think I will actually get to the end of my story in the 50k (if not a little bit more) as we are closing in on the murderer! Fun times!!! Less than 9,000 words to go....what a three weeks it has been!!

I have to say I am feeling the tiredness now though but I guess that is natural for day 20?! On Friday I was absolutely shattered and knew I had a big day at work so decided not to write early in the morning. Before work writing might be something I drop over the next week as I have some pretty big things going on at work (inspections which mean lesson observations, even more detailed planning etc.) and I need to be a functioning human being, not a tired zombie shell of a girl I have felt some days! I feel ok about this as I am well ahead of schedule at the moment. Although I felt weird stopping before reaching 2,000 words on some days as that is what I have been aiming for.

I also had a think about what I will do if I hit 50,00 words over the next week (all being well and if I manage to continue as I have been). I am not 100% sure but I think if I can 'win' before the 30th November I might ease off rather than seeing how much I can write if I go full pelt the whole way. When I first thought of this I felt uneasy, like I am giving up but reaching 50,000 was my goal and if I manage that early, I manage that early. I knew that the end of the month would be busier than the start so I did try to write more at the start in case the end of the month was tough. If I didn't have these unexpected (grr!) important things going on at work I might carry on and I still might. I am also bearing in mind that I am being a bridesmaid on the 3rd of December and I want to be rested for that day as much as I can be with said work things going on. Does anyone know if you try to 'win' NaNo before the 30th and manage it can you add a higher word count before the end of the 30th November?

Ok, am off to check out some check-ins before I go goggly eyed from staring at the computer for so long! Hope everyone is having great weeks!

ps. Don't forget we had a check-in over at Fun not fear! on Friday and Lena and I would love to hear how you are getting on!

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Wednesday 16th November ROW80 Check-in

Since NaNo began I usually go to my word counts straight away but if you have seen any of my recent tweets you will know I have been having some issues in this area. Not with the writing, oh no, with my software moving my writing and then missing words! I started using Scrivener a few days before NaNo and I really like lots of features but over the last 24 hours it has stressed me out!!! I am sure half of it is my inexperience coupled with my tiredness but yesterday it all went a bit...barmy! Lauren make sure you use this in a sentence this week!
It was all going beautifully and I wrote 2,201 words yesterday. I know this because I painstakingly write all my word counts down in my little NaNo notebook and even on an A4 NaNo word count grid so I can keep track. Yesterday randomly one of my sections seemed to be moved to another section. Well, I didn't want this so my tired brain logically made a new file (with the same name) copied the words from the weirdly moved file and pasted them in the new one. Now I deleted the old file and as soon as I pressed the button I realised I may have made a mistake. The deleting was entirely my fault as it deleted the contents of both files (I am guessing because they were named the same thing?). Now in my tired state of mind I got in a flap, sent SOS tweets specifically to Lauren as she often helps me with computer related things.

Then I remembered, I had backed everything up on Word the night before so I went and retrieved the missing section and thought all would be fine. However when I added up my word counts they didn't tally. My totals were 30,012 on Monday and 30,914 on Tuesday but I KNOW I had written over 2000 words on Tuesday. After crunching the numbers over and over again I just accepted (with a sulk on my face) that some of my words had been lost and I just needed to get on with it. As Lyndsay reminded me 'Fun not fear!' so I went to bed and decided today was a new day.

This morning I woke up and decided to go over my word counts again (I know, glutton for punishment) but miraculously they were reading a total of 32,116. HOW? WHAT? HOW? I didn't manage to do any writing before work as I was too busy checking this and double checking this but I have managed to be productive tonight.

Just because I love them here are my word counts since Monday but without the messed up daily totals.

752 words before work
1,324 during hour sprint
218 words after sprint

713 words before work
1,490 words during hour sprint

1,675 words during hour sprint
523 in 20 minutes after sprint

So, my grand total (with missing words now back) is 34,313!!!!

The last days have been tainted with my word count issues as the whole thing about NaNo is trying to reach a certain word count. The number is important to stay on track, to be motivated and most importantly to count down! Since reaching 30,000 I haven't celebrated too much but I hope to make over 35,000 tomorrow and then I will have less than 15,000 to go!!!

On Friday me and Lena will check-in over at Fun not Fear! and we would love to know how you are doing.

From here on out the plan is write, back up, write, back up!

Hope everyone is having a great week!

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Sunday 13th November ROW80 Check-in

I will try and make sense in this post but I think NaNo brain is setting in and I seem to use up all my focus on my writing so everything else is a bit random!

Word counts:

333 words before work
1,093 during one hour sprint in evening
614 in 40 minutes after sprint
Day 10 total - 2,040

538 words before work
510 words in 30 minutes in afternoon
1,046 words in 50 minutes in evening
Day 11 total - 2,094

Adding few sentence to a previous scene 128 words
625 words in afternoon
1,301 words in hour sprint in evening
Day 12 total - 2,054

So grand total so far is 25, 030!!!!

Or so I thought!

I was so pleased to pass the 25,000 word mark I updated my word count, looked at the pretty graph and went to bed. This morning I decided to check the word counts I have written down against the word counts of all the ages of Scrivener and they don't match up! I hate numbers (ok hate might be too strong a word!) and was worried the number element of this would drive me crazy but the good news is when I add up my totals on scrivener it comes to 25,188. I spent a good half an hour checking my numbers, scratching my head and throwing my arms in the air but have decided not to worry and just plough on. My plan is to add up the scrivener word counts everyday instead of rely on my notes because I have been going back and popping a sentence or two in when I have thought of something I want to add so maybe I have just missed some numbers in my calculations. And....deep breath!

I am at my friends and it is true what they say, a change is as good as a rest. Is nice to write and not have my pile of dishes scowling at me. I was hoping for lots more words yesterday but I had lots of paperwork from school to bring home and it took three times as long as I was expecting but atleast it is done and today is all about the writing. Although unexpectedly I am going to the cinema with my sister and brother-in-law later and for a drink wtih them so while I won't have so long to write it hopefully will motivate me to get a wriggle on and then I can enjoy an evening off. and see them.

So far today I have written 1,357 words in 45 minutes. newtowritinggirl tweeted asking if anyone was up for a sprint this morning but she had started by the time I saw it so she tweeted me the challenge of beating her word count. I did manage it, I think I only got ten words more or something but it kick started me this morning!

I had a bit of a crisis of confidence on Thursday night which seemed to come out of nowhere. I have been really pleased with my word count each day and am amazed I am actually a couple of days ahead of schedule. Sitting down and writing hasn't been a problem. Knowing what to write hasn't been a problem as I had outlined and planned lots. I am thankful that I haven't had any staring at a blank screen moments. Getting up in the morning hasn't been a problem for the most part (although I struggled by Friday!). I just feel like I am further through my story than I should be for 25,000 words. I had assumed I wouldn't reach the end of my story at the end of NaNo but it is looking like I might. I started to worry lots about the plot but then I realised lots of Agatha Christie books are fairly short, almost novellas. So a quick google later and I found out her book 'The Mysterious Affair of Styles' was only 59,885 words so I decided to cast these thoughts from my mind and just crack on!

I have thought about bits I want to add in and I have some interviews, the pathologists feedback, the Inspectors deliberations, the reveal and the murderers reasons etc all to come to lots to write about.

Before I go me and Lena checked in at Fun not fear on Friday and both of us aren't finding week two as straightforward as week one. We would love to hear how you are getting on!

Hope you have had a great week and the next one is even better than the last!

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

ROW80 Check-in 9th November

As we enter week 2 I am still feeling optimistic and most importantly, I am still enjoying my story! I was worried that I would start to hate it and writing would be a chore but so far, so good. I know there is always time but at the moment I am loving it!

Word counts for the last few days:

638 words before work.
1,270 words during 1 hour sprint with usual crew!
108 words after sprint.
Day 7 total - 2016

701 words before work
1,464 words during hour sprint
Day 8 total - 2165

892 words before work
1,236 words during hour sprint
Day 9 total - 2,128

So grand total so far is 18,842!!!

I am still keeping my weekly routine of writing before work for as long as I can and then taking part in an hour sprint in the evening wth fellow #ROW80ers. I am pleased I have managed over 2000 words a day as work is getting more hectic and I may (just may) have a day off at some point!

One thing I noticed was that I wasn't reading anything at all at the start of NaNo. In the lead up I was reading PD James to get in the right mindset but once I started writing my murder mystery I kept worrying I would just regurgitate what I was reading into my book so I stopped reading. But I miss it. I need the escapism. So I have started an Adele Parks book called 'Tell me something' and I am enjoying reading a bit each day when time allows.

Thinking back I am so pleased with how my writing at my parents went. It felt good that they knew what I was doing and as I was only there for a couple of days I didn't feel I could lock myself in my room so I set up camp on their dining room table. They were really supportive offering to make me a coffee and saying how impressed they were with my dedication. Made me feel like I really want to achieve this and win NaNo!

This weekend I am staying at my friends and she will be away for the saturday night so I will have lots of time to write so I hope to write more than 2,000 words a day. She knows about the challenge and is hugely supportive so I am looking forward to it. And I get to spend time with her! A change is as good as a rest and I might try and find out if there are any write ins in Exeter that I could maybe attend.

Lena and I will be checking in over at Fun not fear! on Friday so make sure you check it out and let us know how your NaNo is going.

Hope everyone's week is going well!

Sunday, 6 November 2011

ROW80 Check-in 6th November

The first week of NaNo is still going well for me, I can't believe it hasn't yet been a full week! Right, let's go to the word counts first!

712 words before work
1,159 in one hour sprint
279 in 20 minutes after sprint
Day 3 total - 2150

312 words before work
1,488 words later in afternoon
Day 4 total - 1,800

2,313 words in just over two hours
Day 5 total - 2,313

1,269 words in one hour in afternoon
928 words in 50 minutes in the evening
Day 6 total - 2,197

So grand total so far is 12,533 words!!!!

I was slightly disappointed with Friday's word count as I have been secretly aiming for 2,000 a day to start with to give me a bit of breathing space if needed when work gets busier in the coming weeks but it was my first day out of my 'NaNo routine' so I did expect to not hit my secret target. On Saturday I had a big family celebration so I got up and just poured out my words. I have to say it was odd doing all my words that day in one chunk. Even though my friday morning word count wasn't as high (mainly due to sheer tiredness!) I like having a bit done in the morning and then I enjoy going back to it later that day and mull it over whilst at work throughout the day.

Before NaNo started I thought I would write when I get in from work before a make some food but I haven't been able to do that, I have been too hungry! From getting in from work to my sprint date I have just over an hour so I have time to refresh before I sit down and write! The sprints are still great and anyone is welcome to join us on the #ROW8 hashtag, check out Lauren's check-in for all the time details, I get so confused with the time differences! All I know is it is 7pm UK time! I seem to do a 20 to 30 minutes 'cool down' after the sprints where I finish off the scene or paragraph I have been writing.

It is interesting looking at tweets on the #nanowrimo stream as lots of people talk about not particularly liking the words they are writing. Whilst I know there will be A LOT of editing I don't think I have written any sentences that I hate. Remind me of this when I start the editing process! I am happy with the level of planning I have done so far and am writing through my story in order. They have just found the body so we are now having the police interviews. I am loving my detective who is based on Andrew Lincoln.


On related news Lena and I posted our first Fun not Fear! check-in on Friday with a little mash up of links. It had been great to hear how people have been getting on.

Ok, off to check out some check-ins and then get an early night before the week starts all over again!

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

ROW80 Check-in 2nd November

My first NaNo has got off to a good start! Do you like the way I say first like it won't be my last? I really don't think it will be as I am loving the buzz and motivation and excitement I am feeling as a result of taking part. Whilst I can't keep up with the #nanowrimo twitter stream as there are SO MANY people taking part it is constantly updating I feel like I am not alone in this mad challenge! I also wonder why I didn't take part in CampNano as I was not at work during August and it would have made this a lot easier!

On Monday after my brilliant weekend away I was easy on myself and simply read through my outline and plot to refresh my brain. I also did some practical jobs so that I would be able to focus solely on writing atleast for the next few evenings. I did not sleep well as I was so excited though! This was not great as I was tired when I woke up on Tuesday.

Here is how the last few days have gone:

584 words before leaving for work.
1,112 words during an hour sprint with newtowritinggirl and laurengarafalo
352 words in 30 mins after sprint.
Day 1 total - 2048

611 words before leaving for work.
1,194 words during an hour sprint with the same lovely ladies as above.
220 minutes in 20 minutes after sprint.
Day 2 total - 2025

So grand total so far is 4073!!!!

Not bad for two days work! The sprints have been great motivation and we are planning on doing them on weekdays if our schedules allow. I have written a little bit after each sprint because we stop dead to count our numbers and I have wanted to finish a paragraph or scene before I stop.

I do feel I could write more tonight but I am very tired and I don't want to push too hard as I am already over my goal for both days. Morning writing has not been as hard as I thought it would be but I do plan the night before where I am going to start so I know straight away where to start.

I checked out some check-ins earlier and it seems like everyone is doing great at NaNo or their ROW80 goals....keep at it everyone!!!

Don't forget to check out our first Fun not Fear! check-ins on Friday with a few links thrown in!

Sunday, 30 October 2011

ROW80 Check-in 30th October

It has been a good week and even though I haven't been able to do any preparation towards NaNo over the last few days (apart from the constant thinking and musing before I go to sleep!) I feel as prepared as I can be for Tuesday!

On Wednesday after check-in I did several hours of preparation including downloading Scrivener and having a play with a plot cork board on that. On the train on Thursday I worked on my character notes (including alibi's) for atleast two hours and made notes on some twists and turns.

Since Friday I have been on a Hen weekend for my lovely friend I am being bridesmaid for on the 3rd of December....yes, I know, 3 days after the finish of NaNo! I am determined to use the first two weekends to get extra writing in so the last few days of NaNo aren't too horrendous! Lauren tweeted me asking what a Hen Weekend was and I am not sure if there is an American version? It is basically a celebration of the bride or 'hen' getting married and it can be an evening out, a day at a spa, a weekend away, anything really that suits the bride and lets the bride have a good time with her friends (and sometimes family) to celebrate her upcoming wedding. The men have a stag party to celebrate too. For my friend's we went to London and amongst other things we learnt the dance routine to Beyonce's Single Ladies at Pineapple Dance was amazing! Early night tonight though, thank goodness the clocks went back and we got an extra hour in bed today!

I knew I would not be able to do anything towards NaNo and I have to say I really enjoyed taking a bit of a step back from planning and knowing the weekend would be busy I was more motivated to work harder earlier in the week. As this is my first NaNo I don't necessarily know what I need to do personally in order to be ready but I hope I have done enough. I am accountable here as from Tuesday my ROW80 goal will be to write 1,667 words a day. My family and some friends know I am doing NaNo which is great accountability and also working with Lena on our Fun not Fear support group means hopefully I have all the accountability and support I will need to get my through.

I will aim to check-in briefly (with word counts) here on a Sunday and a Wednesday and we will check-in briefly at Fun not fear on a Friday!

Good luck everyone who is taking part in NaNo and hope every ROW80er out there has a great week!

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

ROW80 Check-in 26th October

Things are moving along nicely this end, I think! I am still quite new to plotting and outlining so I am doing what I can before Tuesday and the start of NaNo but whether I am doing enough and everything I will need, that remains to be seen!

As I am off work this week I have definately done a couple of hours preparation a day for the last few days and will do that after posting this check-in. Today is all about writing my scenes on post-its and identifying what needs to happen in each scene e.g. making some people look suspicious, information that needs to be revealed, character traits that need to be shown. At times I think I have bitten off more than I can chew writing a murder mystery but then I think, why not? Might as well give it a go!

I have been checking out my regional NaNo forums and hope to meet up with some people during November for local write ins. I have been reading lots of blog posts about NaNo, some of which will appear on mine and Lena's NaNo support group Fun not fear! link mash up on Friday. There are some tips I really like such as writing throughout the day in small chunks, not necessarily sitting down to write 1,667 words in one chunk. For me, on a work day this will look like some writing in the morning before work (shudder!), some when I get home from work and some after dinner. For some reason thinking that I don't have to write my daily amount in one lot makes me feel better. I also like the idea of stopping mid sentence or paragraph so I know where to start the next time I sit down to write. Time will be of the essence so I won't want to sit staring at the screen for 20 minutes before writing a word. I know this might happen but I want to do what I can to try and prevent it!!!

I hope everyone is having great weeks and for those of you taking part in NaNo, hope your preparations are going well!!! Less than a week to go!!!

Sunday, 23 October 2011

ROW 80 Check-in 23rd October

Very quick check-in today as I am just in from an amazing weekend at a University friend's wedding and I need to quickly pack as I am heading to my sister's house for a few days.

This week has gone well with my cast list written and thanks to a productive train ride on Friday every character has a brief description and I am trying the technique of finding a famous person who looks like each character to help me with descriptions. I am fairly daunted as the chick-lit piece I was working on before had three main characters and a handful of secondary characters but this piece has 21 characters (not all major characters obviously) so I am concern about keeping track of them all!

I have definately done 30 minutes a day and probably exceeded it as I am constantly scribbling bits down and saving notes to my phone. I can pretty much guarantee whenever I get in my car to drive somewhere a brilliant idea strikes.

I am not at work this week so the next three days especially are all about the NaNo prep. I need to create a fictional village, flesh out character profiles and work out my sequence of events. Oh and also work out everyone's alibis and break the murderers so they can actually commit the murder! SO MUCH TO DO! But am grateful we have a school holiday so for a few days atleast I am not confined to evening hours only. Next weekend I am away (well from Thursday) and I might be able to grab bits of time but really I want to crack on over the next three days.

The end of November seems to be filling up quickly with work things so I want to try and get a good start to NaNo and really use my weekends to get some extra words in. I am so excited to start writing and loving reading tips and hints other writers are blogging about. Don't forget to check out mine and Lena's NaNo Fun not fear website if you are taking part in NaNo or can offer some support and encouragement to those who are if you are not!

I will be around checking out check-ins tomorrow morning as now I am running late and not packed! Hope everyone has had a great week!

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Wednesday 19th October ROW80 Check-in

So far this week has gone well and I did an hour of character work/plotting/reading for NaNo/researching on both Monday and Tuesday. On Monday I made a list of all the characters I wanted and gave them all names and ages. Then I woke up on Tuesday and crossed two of the hotel staff off....I just didn't think I needed them! Still a long way to go and am hoping to complete some character profiles tonight but have had a hectic day and am sooooo tired. We will see. Feels good to be an hour over my goal of half an hour a day.

However I may need to call on this hour this weekend. I have a friends wedding and I am away from Friday till Sunday. I hope to do some work on the train but on Saturday there is no chance and I am ok with this. I am off work next week as it is half term so hopefully when I am a bit rested and have some daylight time on my hands I will really crack on with plotting and sequencing the scenes of my story.

NaNo has been on my mind alot and when I have days like today when I have not stopped between 7am and 7pm it makes me think how on earth am I going to NaNo? Think I have mentioned before I am hoping to get some words done before work in the morning (eeek!) and I think the weekends will be key.

I also will be able to get through it because Lena and I have our NaNo support group blog up and running! I must say here that Lena never ceases to amaze me with what she achieves and she has definately done most of the work to our site. You can find it here Fun not fear! The name fun not fear came from several online conversations Lena and myself had about wanting to take part in NaNo but wanting it to be as fun as possible. Our plan is to post a small post on a Friday (a NaNo check-in if you will) with short updates of how we are getting on and we will also link other blogs that we have read relating to NaNo aswell. We would love it if people stop by and let us know how they are getting on or to cheer on others if you aren't taking part yourself. We won't post apart from this as we don't want to distract ourselves from our writing too much! There is also a linky page where you can add your NaNo profile so people can buddy you.

Please do stop by and read the welcome and introduction and if you want to know more about us you can click on the 'About us' in the top right hand corner. The preparation for the site has got me so excited for NaNo itself and I love a bit of accountability!

Ok, off to look at some people's check-ins and to hopefully do some character work.....hope everyone is having a good week!

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Sunday 16th October ROW80 Check-in

Goals met and I am feeling so so positive about my writing today! I can't put my finger on why but I guess it is because things are coming together in my head. After the 'lost' writing month of September I am loving the fact I am back to scribbling on post its, having ideas when I am driving and catching myself day dreaming about my NaNo murder mystery. Sigh. It feels so good!

The end of this week saw me finish watching the episodes of Upstairs, Downstairs and I have even more pages of scribbled ideas. I have been online researching which has thrown up some lovely details I hope to weave in to my story and also just things that make me smile. Did I mention I am setting my story at Christmas time? I am, because I love Christmas! Look at this vintage 1930s Christmas china I saw on Ebay.
Item image

This is definately going to feature!

I have some more bits and pieces to look up but I need, need, NEED to start plotting, planning, developing characters and everything else that needs to be done before November hits.

I followed a link retweeted by Gene today (whilst procrastinating I admit it!) and read this brilliant post by Larry Brooks about what to try when you get stuck in your NaNo prep. I found on this site a post from each day of October so far (and am assuming they will continue until November 1st) about NaNo and the preparation involved. They are great reads and are really helpful at identifying what you have already achieved in your prep and what you need to do. Todays as mentioned is about what to do when you get stuck in your prep. Larry suggests watching a movie and looking at each scene and literally plotting the story. Identifying plot points, focusing on what the scene means to the story. Guess what I will be doing later today?! He explains it much better than me so look here.

Ok, off now to check out some check-ins, do some more research and try out the activity above.

Before I go though can I just ask NaNo people that it is ok to write my NaNo on Microsoft Word Starter 2010? There are no rules about the software you write on are there?

Also IMPORTANT NEWS! Me and Lena have been working on our NaNo support group blog so hopefully it will be up this week! We will announce on both our blogs and on twitter when we are up and running! So exciting!

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Wednesday 12th October 2011

Well this week has thrown up time challenges but I am managing to stay on track. On Monday I had a list of things to do as long as my arm and with unexpected phone calls I only managed 15 minutes of research into hotels in the 1930s. I made up for this before work yesterday with a further 15 minutes research on the same topic. Last night I had a friend to stay (who knows nothing of my writing) so I got nothing done. Therefore today I spent an hour watching one of the episodes of Upstairs, Downstairs and I now have 3 pages of notes on dress and language with little detail ideas scattered amongst it. Whilst this seems like loose research I actually feel like I am starting to understand the time period and feel like I can imagine my characters and location more.

Whilst I am on track I am struggling time wise. My workload for my job can be a bit relentless and I also am blessed to have a lovely social life so I am not getting as much done as I would like. But I have a lot of this weekend free so I am planning on tackling my plot and starting to put my story ideas down. I was rubbish at getting around to other people's check-ins and I want to do better at this whilst not using my writing time to do so. I guess it is all a balancing act.

One thing I am considering in my NaNo prep is early morning/before work writing. I think this may be crucial to my success. I figure even if I only manage 10 or 15 minutes before work (I am not great in the morning) then this will lessen my evening word count. I guess it is something I can try when November is here!

I am off to check out some check-ins and I hope everyone is doing well with their goals!

Sunday, 9 October 2011

ROW80 Check-in 9th October

Well week one has been great in many different ways. I have met all my goals (30 mins a day on NaNo preparation and two check-ins).

On Thursday I spent time researching murder, hanging and arsenic. It is amazing what you can find by simply googling things as I starting point.

On Friday I spent time goggling events of my chosen year (1936) and also read lots of cases of poison from the 1930s.

Now the weekend I have been staying with some of my friends and we watched all 4 Scream movies in an early Halloween kind of extravaganza! Even though I technically need to do half an hour of something today I am going to count watching these as research as it did get me thinking about red herrings, motives and back storys. Also I had a good chat about writing with one of my friends which I loved as I so rarely talk about writing in my 'real' life. Also she has offered me her flat one weekend during NaNo as a bit of an escape as she will be away the saturday till sunday. I know I live alone so technically can lock the door, turn off my phone and settle in but there is something so inviting about a change of scene. I can't wait.

So time wise, I have done really well if I do say so myself! My Upstairs, Downstairs DVD arrived on Friday so I think watching an episode of that and taking notes seems like a great plan for tomorrow night.

Another lovely thing is that Nicole has asked me to be her ROWsista! I felt so touched that she thought of me and I look forward to getting to know her better as we drag carefully nudge each other in the right direction.

So week one, goals met and a happy me. It feels so good to be doing something productive towards my writing even though I get terrified when I think of plotting my NaNo murder mystery....better start soon in case I struggle. Off to check out some check-ins before bed.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

ROW 80 Check-in 5th October

The start of this round has gone well for me and I think I am slowly getting my head back into this writing game. Thank goodness!

On Monday I sat down and realised that I know very little about the time period I have selected - 1936. This was a bit of a random selection but it was inspired by my Uncle's 75th birthday as he got lots of cards with info about the year 1936 and it just made sense to me. Can't really explain it! I knew bits and pieces like the Berin Olympics etc but I couldn't tell you exact fashions and I also wanted to find out if household staff were a big part of everyday life as this is integral to the loose plot I have in my head. So you guessed it, I googled. Actually, I tried to go to the library but due to government cuts the hours of opening of my town library have been cut so instead of being open till 7 it shut at 5 and I got there at 6 so that was a no go.

On Tuesday I was online again following up bits of information and found that the 3 episodes of Upstairs, Downstairs that the BBC aired last year were set in 1936. Guess what I was busy buying on Amazon last night! Love that watching them can be filed under research!

Tonight I have focused on language and common phrases used in 1936 and also at common names for the 5 decades before 1936 to get a feel for names. Think it is going to be fun to play with these characters.

So a positive start even though it is hard to get out of the word count mode I was in before but as I said October is all about the planning!

Hope everyone else is having a great first week!

Sunday, 2 October 2011

ROW80 Round 4 Goals 2nd October

I know round 4 of ROW80 officially starts tomorrow but in keeping with my wed/sun posts I thought I would post my goals today.

I am going to keep it simple but hopefully effective to help myself get into the flow of things after nearly a month of no writing....can't believe it has been that long.

October Goals:
Goal 1 - 30 minutes a day of preparation for NaNo. This can be research, plotting, developing characters, anything to help me prepare for November and my first attempt at writing a murder mystery.

Goal 2 - Check-in every Wednesday and Sunday. I need this to keep me motivated and I love the support I get from others and the motivation I get from reading others check-ins.

From November 1st:
Goal 1 - Write 1,666 words a day as part of NaNo. I know this will be hard some days so will slot in a weekly word count goal - 11, 662 to help me try and stay on track. Wow that looks like a lot! I am not going to put a time goal on this but if I write at the speed I did in the summer it will be an hour to an hour a half a day. Eeek!

Goal 2 - Check-in every Wednesday and Sunday

Simple but effective. October is to prepare, November is to write.

I look forward to seeing everyone elses goals! Here we go....

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Wednesday 28th September - Miniscule update

I have nothing to report today. Nothing. But I am here because I said I would be.

I have had more murderous thoughts (mwha ha ha) and a few ideas which are dotted here and there on post its but I haven't actually done anything.

I know that I have had lots going on and work and my weekends have been very busy but I was hoping I would be back in the swing of things a bit by now. The recent change in my personal life has thrown me completely and I know it is going to be hard for a while longer yet. I just need to ride it out, distract myself (hopefully with writing!) as this too shall pass.

I have settled on my ROW 80 Round 4 goals which I will post on Sunday but I really hope I start to get my plot etc. for my NaNo mystery down on paper soon. Maybe I need to accept that it might not happen before the start of round 4.

Hope you are all ok and those ROW80 goals are forming themselves beautifully!

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Sunday 25th September - Tiny little update

I said I would continue to check-in on sundays and wednesdays between ROW 80 rounds so I keep the habit. What astonishes me is that I am so out of it in terms of dates I didn't realise there is only a week between rounds! Ha! I thought there was atleast two or three! Oh well...atleast I noticed!

In terms of writing I haven't written anything but have been reading murder mysteries and also watching murder mystery programmes/films to inspire me. I have been away all weekend on a hen weekend and had an amazing time and even managed to have some clever thoughts about my characters on the train on the way home today which I have stored in my phone. I hope they still seem clever after some sleep!

This week is going to be all about settling on my round 4 goals and also thinking about how I can incorporate NaNo into them. I think for the month of October my goals need to be research/plotting based and once November 1st hits I need to change my goal to simply writing 1,666 (or more!) words a day!

Hopefully by Wednesday I will have done some work on getting my initial plot ideas down as at the moment they are in my head and saved on my blackberry!

Hope everyone is enjoying the mini 'break' between rounds and have great weeks!

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

ROW 80 Check-in 21st September

I can't believe this is the final check-in of Round 3 of ROW 80! It has been such a great 80 days with highs (and lows) and I have learnt so much. Here is a recap of my goals.

* Complete the weekly Fiction Friday prompts from (on 'our writing prompts' page).

* Spend 30 minutes a day on writing or writing related activities (e.g. planning, researching, revising). So in a week I am aiming for 3 and a half hours of dedicated time. If I miss a day I will try and make up that 30 mins elsewhere in the week.

* Post ROW80 check-ins on Sunday and Wednesdays and also one additional post a week. So three posts a week.

*Goal added in week 5 - Exercise atleast two times a week.

When I look at my geeky tracker I realised for the first 9 weeks of the round I achieved all my goals with the exception of a fail for my exercise goal in week 7. I am so proud of myself for achieving all my goals for the first 9 weeks even though these last three weeks have been terrible in terms of progress.

Even though my personal life threw me a curve ball in week 10 which saw my writing stop dead I am not going to focus on that but I am going to focus on the brilliant, happy things that have happened.

* I have written drafts of two children's stories which I hope I will return to at some point.

* I have written 33,141 words of my chick lit WIP that I WILL return to once I feel in the chick lit frame of mind.

* I have made many online writing friends who cheer me on and look out for me when things are tough.

* I have found the confidence to sign up for NaNo in November.

* I have shared my desire to write with some people close to me.

* I have found time in my day to day life to write and have started to take my writing seriously.

* I have recieved 3 blog awards.


I will most certainly be around for Round 4 and my time between now and the 3rd of October will be spent deciding on goals and hopefully making some headway in my NaNo murder mystery plotting. I plan to post small posts (famous last words!) on Wednesdays and Sundays as it is habit for me now so please stop by if you want to know what I am up to!

Also it is in these posts that I will share any NaNo build up/panic and Lena and I will hopefully have some news about a NaNo support group for ROW80ers soon too!

Thank you to everyone who has read, commented, tweeted a friendly word and I look forward to seeing you in Round 4!

Sunday, 18 September 2011

ROW 80 Check-in 18th September

Another check-in with not alot to report I am afraid but onewards and upwards. I can't believe there is only one more check-in after this before the end of the round! I also can't believe how derailed I have got after doing so well initially but don't we constantly say to each other sometimes life gets in the way?

Ok, lets find some positives because even though I haven't been writing I have been reading and thinking about writing. I went to my book club for the second time on Friday and again enjoyed the informal discussions. We picked the next book and do you want to hear something freaky? Later that day my friend gave me a copy of the book we have picked. Isn't that freaky? That someone completely unconnected gives me the book we have decided to read? Spooked me anyway. So I look forward to reading that.

I finished reading a PD James book this morning and read it with an eye on how good mysteries are written. I am ploughing tiptoeing through my idea to write a murder mystery. I read somewhere that Agatha Christie started her books by outlining all the characters alibis and then fixed one so that it could be broken and they could commit the murder. This seems like a good place to start! My biggest concern is still not being able to write quickly (which NaNo is all about) but I think I need to crack on with research and the plot outline so I have lots to go from. I have a week off at the end of October for half term and even though I am busy at the weekends I will have atleast 3 or 4 days in which I can work on it.

Oh and huge breakthrough! I told my parents and my sister and brother-in-law about my plan to write a murder mystery for NaNo. They know nothing about my blog or the fact I was writing all Summer but I always intended to let them know about NaNo. I am at my parents for the weekend and randomly blurted it out and they have been very supportive. I think they think it is a whimsical fancy which has appeared because of my recent personal upheaval but hey, atleast I have told them!

So plan forward is to start working out my characters and do some period research. I already have a murder in mind and a killer so I just need to work out the rest!

Hope you all have lovely weeks and thank you for all your supportive comments. Again, if anyone stumbles across any articles/tips for murder mystery writing they would be gratefully recieved!

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

ROW 80 Check-in 14th September

Since Sunday I don't have a lot to report. It is amazing to me how I was steaming along and now my head is completely out of the writing game. Well not completely out because I have been checking in, have been thinking about NaNo and today I even did something writing related!

I read two chapters in two books about writing to do with writing murder mysteries. I still really like the idea of writing one for NaNo but I do have some concerns. One is that I will accidently end up re-writing an Agatha Christie plot but simply change the names and my other fear is I will scare myself! I think if I write in a different period (say the 1920s or 1940s) I won't get so spooked. My other fear is the amount of plotting it will require and also NaNo is all about the word counts and I do find I can 'babble' on when writing chick-lit but mystery writing might need to be more considered. So I need to do more thinking.

Lovely news is that Karen gave me a blog award *blush* I can't say enough how much these awards have meant to me (and yes I am aware I sound like I am accepting an Oscar). I have hit such a bump in my writing road that I have had fleeting moments when I have just wanted to give up but the idea that someone thinks of me when they are deciding who to pass the awards on to makes me acknowledge the amazing support and community I have found on here and how much I have enjoyed the last few months since I started writing. Ok, I am babbling.

The rules are as follows:
Anyone who accepts this is asked by the person selecting them to do three things:

1. Thank the person who gave you the award and link back to them in your post.

2. Share 7 things about yourself

3. Pass this Award along up to15 recently discovered blogs and let them know about it!

So, thank you Karen!

When I recieved the Kreativ Blogger Award I had to tell you 7 bits of information but I am not one to shirk away from a challenge so here are 7 more things about me off the top of my head that I don't mind sharing.

1) When I was small I wanted to break an arm or a leg just for the plaster cast. I even used to roll down stairs trying to do so.

2) I am very, very fussy about food. I need to see someone about it because I know it is psychological. For example I won't eat ham because it is slimy and rice is too many little bits in my mouth. Dont judge me.

3) I love Beyonce. Like properly love her. I think she is beautiful and inspiring and I went to her concert a few years ago and she is AMAZING! Me and a friend live our lives by the motto - What would Beyonce do? It helps, trust me.

4) I hate change in all forms. At work, home, anywhere. Hate it. But am working on it.

5) I am a crier. Whether my emotion is happy, sad or angry I cry. Is very frustrating at times.

6) I will read books or watch shows or films over and over again and never get bored of them.

7) I take on other people's accents when I talk to them. I have been mistaken for being American, Australian and South African and was once asked if English was my first language BY A COMPLETE STRANGER!

Ok, hope random facts are random enough for you.

Now the third bit of passing on the award I am really looking forward to! I have found so much support from so many people and below are a list of the people whose blogs I love to read. Thank goodness I finally learnt how to 'link' people!

I am hereby passing the award on to......

lenacorazon (nice new pen name! ;) )

Marie Andrews

Nadja Notariani


Lauren Garafalo

Gene Lempp

Wendy Jane

Claudia Lefeve

I am off to let these lovely people know and to check out some check-ins. I hope you all have a great last week!

Sunday, 11 September 2011

ROW 80 Check-in 11th September

Firstly, thank you for the lovely comments/tweets after my last check-in. I really did appreciate them. I have found it comforting that whilst other aspects of my life are not turning out how I expected that I still have an urge to check-in and even though I haven't written since Monday I don't want to lose touch with the wonderful community I have found by taking part in ROW 80.

It is strange as I don't want to splash my personal life all over here but I feel like I need to justify my complete goal failure this week....guess that is the double edged sword of accountability! It is probably enough just to say that my writing stopped dead as I had reached the part in my book where two characters are madly in love and truly I cannot write about that right now.

Whilst I haven't been writing I have been reading and have updated my 'Books I have read' page. Reading took a slight backseat to writing but I have been very glad to distract myself with books.

I have also been thinking about NaNo and if my aversion to chick-lit continues for a while then my NaNo idea may be no good. I have been thinking about writing a murder mystery a la Agatha Christie (might as well aim high and I do live in Devon after all!) so this is a request for any links/tips people have for writing a murder mystery. Any advice would be very gratefully recieved!

Before I go I had some lovely news this week just when I needed it. Tia over at Depression Cookies awarded me the Kreativ Blogger Award. Thank you so much Tia, you have no idea how wonderful it was to hear you had given me this award especially as you gave it to people you feel reach out and support other writers.


Now the rules are to thank the person who gave it to you, write seven things about yourself and to pass it on to other bloggers. Thank you again Tia and now for the seven things about me. Oh dear. Like Tia I will write the first seven things that pop into my head that I am willing to share.

1) I am 28 years old and have only lived in 5 different houses throughout my life so far. My parents still live in the house I grew up in.

2) I studied Psychology at University.

3) I am a practically a professional people watcher....almost to the point of it being inappropriate.

4) When I was younger I used to swim and represented my town in competitions in the South West and once went to France to compete in a gala. This is as sporty as I get.

5) I have visited 12 European countries outside of the UK. They are Ireland, Spain, France, Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary, Belgium, Croatia, Greece, Poland and Switzerland.

6) I have had the same hairstyle for pretty much the last ten years. Don't get me wrong, it is more of just having long hair rather than a style.

7) This December I am being a bridesmaid for the 4th time. It will be the second time my bridesmaid dress will be green which I love.

Not the most intelligent things about me but I hope there is something there for everyone!

Now to pass the award on. There has been lots of talk in our ROW 80 community about awards and I want to pass them on not because the 'rules' say I should but because so many people inspire me. I have picked four bloggers who I read come rain or shine and they always make me excited to write.

I am going to pass the award on to:

* Jamila Jamison
* Marie Andrews
* Nadja Notariani
* newtowritinggirl

Thank you ladies for all your encouragement, support and for being so damn inspiring!

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Very quick ROW 80 Check-in 7th September

Cards on the table, I am having a shocking writing week. On Monday I had a really long day at work but wanted to try and write something so I managed to write 1,035 words which I was happy with.

Then life has gone a bit off course personally so I am having to take a step back from writing for a few days. I saw Nadja's comment earlier on my last post saying that she had checked to see if I had checked in and it made me think I should do a mini check-in even if there is nothing much to say.

I may not be around much for the rest of the week and I will try to catch some of your check-ins. I hope you have all had great weeks and I hope next check-in is a bit better.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

ROW 80 Check-in 4th September

This week all goals completed!

I managed two other walks (when usually I would have driven) so my exercise goal is met.

After this is posted I will have completed my three posts this week. My post yesterday was simply called Fear and thank you to the people who have left brilliant comments. I feel I am not alone!!

The Write Anything Fiction Friday was to write a scene of pure dialogue, no attributions, narration, description or scene setting. It was so, so hard but interesting to have a go at.

I set myself the goal of reaching 30,000 words before I had to go back to work on Friday. I had 1794 words to go and on Thursday I wrote for an hour and managed 1,937 words taking my WIP total to 30,143 words! I felt AMAZING after achieving this mini-goal. I realised that I started writing my WIP on the 28th of July so in 36 days I had written 30,143 words. I am thrilled with this but very aware that I did this during my Summer holidays. NaNo will be more words and I will be trying to fit them around work but I am looking forward to the challenge!

On Saturday I wrote for 40 minutes and managed 989 words and today I wrote for just over an hour and managed 2009 words. So my WIP now stands at 33,141 words! Plan for the coming week is to keep writing. I am really enjoying my writing and I have been reading some chick-lit recently (the genre I am writing) and I have found the words are flowing easier than when I was reading other books over the summer. Not sure if this is just coincidence!

Lovely news this week is that Jamila and Marie both awarded me the Liebster blog award. I felt so happy to get an award and to get it from two people was somewhat overwhelming! 

  1. Show your appreciation to the blogger who gave you the award by linking back to them.
  2. Reveal your top five picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
  3. Post the award on your blog.
  4. Bask in the camaraderie of the most supportive people on the internet—other writers.
  5. And best of all—have bloggity fun and spread the love.
Ok. First job is to link back to Jamila and Marie.
Jamila can be found at and @jamilajamison
Marie can be found at and @Marie_Andrews

Stop by and check them out if you haven't already. They are fun and inspiring and constantly encouraging and supportive. Thank you ladies!

So now for my picks. Jamila and Marie would be on my list but in the spirit of paying things forward and spreading the liebster love further they get an honourable mention and I will pick 5 different bloggers to pass the award on to.

1) @laurengarafalo

2) @Newtowritinggirl

3) @Tia_Bach_Author

4) @PT_Writer

5) @NicoleBasaraba

I hope everyone has had a great week and the next week is even better!

Saturday, 3 September 2011


The other day I was reading Nadja Notariani's ROW 80 Check-in and she threw out a simple question which really struck a cord with me - 'What is your biggest apprehension in the writing/publishing process?'

My immediate answer which I actually spoke a loud was EVERYTHING.

Absolutely everything about this process terrifies me. Let me list some of my fears off the top of my head.

1) What if the plot is awful?
2) Are my characters wooden/unlikeable/annoying?
3) Will my dialogue make people cringe?
4) My grammar is appalling.
5) I will never finish my WIP.
6) I am going about this whole writing thing the wrong way.
7) If I finish my WIP no one will want to read it.
8) If they do read it they will hate it.

I don't think I am alone in having 'am I any good at writing/is there any point in trying?' thoughts. Surely it is natural to have these worries as we as writers are pouring out part of ourselves into every sentence we write. Our stories are our babies and sending them out in to the world is terrifying. When I have these thoughts I take a deep breath and reassure myself that I am doing something I always wanted to do. If it comes to nothing, at least I will have tried it. At least I (and you guys!) will know I tried and that is better than never attempting to fulfil a dream.
Even if my writing comes to nothing and is simply something I do for me I will have gained so much. I will have gained a sense of achievement. I will gained a way to switch off from my day job that lets me express myself. Most importantly I will have gained new friends from all over the world. Friends who support me and encourage me, who make me laugh and make my well up with their kindness (yep, I'm a crier!). Friends who understand me and I think that is pretty amazing.
So from now on I am not going to focus on the fear. I am going to focus on writing, fun and the people I am meeting in this crazy writing/blogging world. What will be will be.
You can see Nadja's blog with the question that sent me off into a spiral of contemplation here -
Also, Nadja's debut novel 'Claiming the Prize' was released yesterday and on her blog there is a coupon so you can buy it FREE this weekend at Smashwords! Go get it! I have and I look forward to reading it!

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

ROW 80 Check-in 31st August

A simple but effective three days since last check-in. Plan was to add words to my WIP with my mini-goal of reaching 30,000 words before I return to work on Friday.

Now for the word counts.

Monday - 2269 (an hour and a half of writing)

Tuesday - 828 (50 minutes of writing)

Wednesday - 1215 (57 minutes of writing)

So that is 4312 words in three days! So my WIP wordcount is 28,206 words which means today/tomorrow I need to write 1794 words which seems achievable I hope.

I have also done a walk instead of drive journey so that is one exercise done this week.

Hope everyone has had successful weeks! I am off to work on my non check-in post for this week.

3 weeks to go!!!

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Row 80 Check-in 28th August

This week all goals met! Yay!

Last week I failed on my exercise goal but I have been to aqua aerobics and have walked to and from two places I would usually drive to so I am going to count them as exercise. Feels good to be moving my body so going to try and keep this up.

On Thursday I wrote for 55 minutes and hammered out 1,242 words. I wanted to do extra on the Thursday as on the Friday it was my Dad's 60th and we had a big family day planned. I managed another 40 minutes and wrote 853 words. Again the Write Anything prompt could fit in my WIP so I used it as part of a scene. This made a total word count of 2095 words that day which is my highest EVER! It did make me think at the rate I seem to write when November comes and I am aiming for 1,666 words a day for NaNo I will need to find atleast an hour if not an hour and a half each day. It is going to be tough! But I am so excited to give it a go!

On Saturday I wrote for 45 minutes and managed 845 words and today I wrote for 30 minutes and wrote 825 words. I also spent 5 minutes jotting down future plot plans as I have had lots of moments when I think of something I want to happen but with all the ideas bouncing around my head I was worried I would lose one.

So quick calculation and my WIP word count is 23, 894!! I have set myself a mini-goal of getting to 30,000 words before I start back to work on Friday. It is a bit of a steep goal but I hope to do it. 6106 words in just over 4 days...seems like a lot when I write it like that!

Plan moving forward is still to add words to my WIP and also to make a list of all the ideas I have for non check-in blog posts. I really enjoyed writing last weeks post 'Do you remember your first lines?' and thank you to everyone who commented. Not sure what this weeks will be about.

With 4 weeks left of this round of ROW 80 I hope to just keep adding words to my WIP. Knowing that for November I will be putting it to one side to start a NaNo story motivates me to write as much as I can before then.

I hope everyone has had brilliant weeks and I am looking forward to reading some check-ins!

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Do you remember your first lines?

I am hopeless at remembering quotes and first lines from books. The only first line I half remember is "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife." From Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Even though I struggle to remember them I know first lines are paramount. I am guilty of opening a book in a shop, reading the first line and putting the book back. It is important that you get it right else people might not read on. First lines can suck you in or turn you off a book.

Even though I am writing my WIP and have decided to go back and edit it once the first draft is finished I am on the look out for a dazzling first line (and a title but that is a different post!). I know off the top of my head that first lines are meant to grab you, interest you, make you curious to know more. They can set the scene, throw you straight into the story or in some cases shock you. I know I like being shocked by a first line.

I stood in front of my book shelves and picked up some books I know I really enjoyed reading. I looked at the first lines of these books to help me understand what draws me in as a reader. Below I have quoted them (often quoted the first paragraph) and offered a comment on why I like them.

The Lighthouse by PD James
"Commander Adam Dalgliesh was not unused to being urgently summoned to non-scheduled meetings with unspecified people at inconvenient times, but usually with one purpose in common: he could be confident that somewhere there lay a dead body awaiting his attention."

I like a murder mystery. Straight away this tells me that there is going to be a body and also shows me that a first line doesn't have to be short and snappy to grab my attention.

Watermelon by Marian Keyes
"February the fifteenth is a very special day for me. It is the day I gave birth to my first child. It is also the day my husband left me. As he was present at the birth I can only assume the two events weren't entirely unrelated."

The first line makes me want to know why the date is special but it is the following paragraph that shocked me slightly (that someone would leave someone the day they gave birth to your baby) and sucked me in. This and the following quote from The Help show me that actually the first paragraph is possibly as important as the first line. If your first line is short and snappy but your first paragraph doesn't back it up, you still might lose me as a reader.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett
"Mae Mobley was born on a early Sunday morning in August, 1960. A church baby we like to call it. Taking care a white babies, that's what I do, along with all the cooking and the cleaning. I done raised seventeen kids in my lifetime. I know how to get them babies to sleep, stop crying, and go in the toilet bowl before they mamas even get out a bed in the morning."

The last quote is simple but it intrigued me. I wanted to know that 'harami' means so it made me read on.

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
"Mariam was five years old the first time she heard the word harami."

After looking at actual books I did what I always do. I googled 'first lines in novels'. I uncovered articles devoted to discussing first lines and also lists of the 100 best first lines from novels.

This is a link to one of the lists of 100 best first lines from novels.
Some of the decisions I agree with, some first lines I don't rate that much but maybe if I could read the first paragraph I would.

I like this quote from one of the articles.
"Introducing a story to a reader is a lot like dropping a pickup line on someone: do it the wrong way and they’ll wind up under the covers with a different… book."

After spending some time thinking about my first line I know that even though the first line is important, I need to back it up with a strong first paragraph. I am sure a first line will come to me in my editing stage (or maybe before) and I look forward to having a eureka moment at some point, hopefully in the near future!

This link offers another list of the 100 best opening lines and has nice pictures of book covers that you move your mouse over to see the first line.
Above the list it mentions that it is often said that the first line often sells the book, the last line often sells the authors next book. Just something to mull over....