At One With Our Dreams

Sorry for the lack of post yesterday. After a busy weekend and then starting the new programme super early in the morning at the gym I decided to give it a miss, but here I am this morning!

So I was thrilled to be one of the speakers/workshoppers at the Montage Anglesey Writing Festival this past weekend. I still feel a very strong connection to North Wales, having lived there for some years. In fact, I started my writing ‘journey’ proper there, i.e. the one that led to publication 🙂 I ran Bangor Cellar Writers for some years, studied for my MA in Creative Writing at Bangor and indeed found a Welsh publisher, Parthian, for While No One Was Watching! It is a place very dear to my heart and even though I have sold my house there now; it’s a place I will always feel a deep spiritual connection with.

It’s a very creative place and so unsurprising that there were so many talented writers I connected with. I love speaking with fellow writers and hopefully, people got a lot out of the sessions — one with more writing and less of me talking, and one more of an interactive discussion.

For the first time of running it, I thought the organisers did a great job. Everything seemed to run smoothly and from what I gleaned from snatched conversations and from those I asked, all seem to find it a positive experience. It is a writing festival rather than a literary one; so aimed at writers and the tools we need to arm ourselves with rather than aimed at readers meeting their heroes.

They hope to run it every two years and so fingers crossed they do and they have me back!

I will post some pics and things from their website later in the week but just wanted to say what a great weekend it was and how much I loved meeting new people and old friends as well.

Nurture that talent folks… and above all, NEVER GIVE UP!

WalesTalking to myself again? Before class…

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Getting Ready

So this is the last blog until Monday as tomorrow I am up and off to Wales for the Montage Festival.

So I will be running two sessions: the first is more about writing itself, how to add pace and keep the page turning and is part way between workshops I have hosted on editing in general, and the kinds of things to look for and one I have on how to write thrillers. So it looks at the ways to inject energy into our work amongst other things. So this will involve writing, sharing work etc. I better get some handouts sorted!

And the second is more of a talk with some workshopping towards the end. So this is a talk I have done at a festival before but also for people who do not write but read, so at the U3A for example about blurring the lines between fact and fiction. I have my Powerpoint ready for that one which in this case I will aim at writers 🙂

So this is a day of getting things ready.

I am a firm believer in being prepared for whatever we do, just as I will be making lists for the man who has sole care of the animals for the two days I will not be here!

So no editing tips this morning as I thought it more useful to do this next week when I can talk to you about what we did in Wales 🙂

So more then!

Dream it and it will be

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Monday Editing Tip

Exposition

 

When we write the first draft, and to paraphrase the words of the great Terry Pratchett, we are really only telling ourselves the story.

 

While some of you might be great plotters and everything is planned right out, I am not so much (not initially anyway) a lot of the real magic happens unexpectedly and so any first draft tends to suffer from the curse of the ‘filler’. This is information that is not functional for the flow of the narrative but you need to know it as the writer to understand the story. But here’s the thing: what the writer needs to know and what the reader needs to know is not always the same thing. 

The trick and skill of the writer is in just how much to show or not to show the reader, and, in fact, it’s in the way information is imparted we can create the teases and the intrigue to spur the reader on. So anyone who gives us back story that fulfills the by the way to get this story you need to know … is taking a lazy short cut. Slap wrist!

To understand or ‘buy into’ what motivates the actions of key characters we naturally need to know things from their past. However, telling the reader this is blocks, even quite small blocks, can still feel like an ‘information dump’.

We want to feel as if we have come to a slow understanding of key facts, some implied, some shown, not necessarily spelled right out. So maybe show us the pertinent moments in a character’s past that explain key motivations but on a need to know basis.

So let’s say a character puts his or her life in grave danger, almost too much danger, through her actions to a rescue a kitten. We might ask why? Is being an animal lover enough to put one’s own life in such danger, especially since we know this is a new mother with a baby? So why such measures? Do you tell the reader per se she loves cats or are you showing something more here? If this is here then it needs to be functional (or it’s filler) so this has to mean more than just showing our young mother has morals and loves kittens.

So can you use teases that show us a key event when her wicked mother did something really terrible to the character’s childhood pet? No guesses what the pet was! Something she had nightmares about for years…? Now see how it now becomes more functional. What you do is hint at this terrible thing no one wants to remember, and in doing so tease the reader to want to know more. The action and the explanations (drip fed memories of a cruel mother and that terrible thing they must not talk about) now has a wider function. It is showing the ways this has affected this character,  which is all part of the journey the novel is taking us on. If it’s not then it’s filler and has no function… right?

 

The trick is to explain key their actions so they seem more plausible but not overtly stating the back story that explains it. This way you will be making the reader intrigued. Now the exposition becomes more of a narrative device for page-turnability.

So by all means information dump if you must in that first draft, but when you come to edit, lose it and think of ways to slowly drip that information in a revealing but intriguing way.

Any more editing tips you need? Anything you have always wondered about? Ask and I will talk about it here!

 

Have a great week everyone!

editing

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Stepping It Up

I am stepping it up in two very important ways this month.

 

The gym, as you all know, has become a very important and significant part of my life. I made a promise to myself almost three years ago … that I have kept. But now I feel the need to step that up, to finally lose the remaining fat and to take that training a step further.

Challenge = Change. 

If we carry on doing the same things we carry on being the same person. Hence from September 11th, I will be doing a 12-week Body Transformation Programme at Lifestyle Fitness that changes my training and also looks seriously at my diet. It includes measuring and weighing, to keep me on track. Bring. It. On.

And I am also thinking seriously about next steps with my writing since not a lot has happened since the first novel was published… lots of successes yes… but not novel wise, so I need to refocus. I have therefore decided to work with an ‘industry’ editor so that I can re-examine my writing and see how to take the next step. Sadly my agent is focussing on nonfiction so little is happening on that front so I do need to step it up.

I think we all need to stand back from our lives, to take stock from time to time and look closely at our goals. If it’s not quite working then change it.

Always always move forward in a positive direction.

My other half works as a personal trainer, and as you know is a champion, he understands mindset more than anyone I know. I remember a conversation some time ago with a friend about being with someone with a goal. That someone who lacks drive and doesn’t want to change for the better is not the kind of person to be around. I wholeheartedly agree. He might have qualified many years ago and his experience with people is amazing, he helps people achieve, but it hasn’t stopped him redoing his qualification to ensure he is as good as he can be and that he keeps that up to date. He is coming to the last stage of that now. Then he has other plans to study for an advanced yoga certificate and an advanced nutrition one and I still plan on doing that screenwriting course in January.

For me, self-improvement is part of a rich life, be a good person but strive to be the best you can be.

That is all folks. Have an amazing weekend being a greater version of yourself and I will be back n blogging Tuesday morning!

 

Self

 

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Odd Days and Great Days

I am pretty much a what you see is what you get kind of gal so it was most odd to me that yesterday I was so tired and just seemed to have lost my oomph! I mean I wake up every morning bright and early and it’s there! So I got up later (well if 6.40 is that late!) and in the end, since I was just was not blogging or writing, I had a long bath. I could not face a ‘pump it up’ class but I did manage some yoga, Mal’s class, and since he spotted my odd mood he took me to lunch. My sweetie.

I did manage to work on some editing in the afternoon but it was an odd kind of day and I have no idea why, like my hormones were out of synch or something!

But today is another day and it was two years ago on this very day, I had my first date with the lovely Mal. It was bank holiday Monday as it happens, and how happy I am ❤

We are off to meet up with old friends in Liverpool this weekend where I lived for many happy years, a little celebration for us, on the train and nice hotel. There is so much to look forward to but I guess even someone like me loses their oomph once in a while!!!

But I am back!!!

More tomorrow and then back next Tuesday blogging. We might have some editing tips as not had some in a while. I have been busy, editing for Bridge House (two collections), putting together and editing the new anthology for Canvey Writers that Bridge House is also publishing, have work on my white board right up to mid to late November, so getting 8-10 weeks ahead! Wow! I also have some lovely mentees, some privately and a few now with Cornerstones and I have some prep for the Montage Festival next weekend. Busy life 🙂 But I love it…

And I love this gorgeous man! Here’s to many more years!

Debz and Mal at the ball close up

 

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So who’s coming along to my workshops?

Sorry, no blog yesterday as it was bank hols and I had a bit of a lazy day… well, with some work!

I am excited that in just under two weeks’ time I will wending my way back to the delightful North Wales to take part in the inaugural Montage Anglesey Lit Festival! I will be hosting a creative writing workshop that will be writing, discussion, and in particular looking at device to augment page-turnability and then after that my talk on blurring the lines between fact and fiction. This is less workshop but more an interactive talk on our obligation to truth in fiction. This is something I have talked about before and was the subject of my MA dissertation since While No One Was Watching deals with the interplay between a fictional missing child and the iconic moment Kennedy was assassinated. When I did this talk before we had a lot of interesting discussions, not just about books but also movies 🙂

I think the deadline for booking was Friday but there might still be the chance if you get in touch. My workshop is full but still spaces on other ones and my talk!

 

It is lovely to be part of this and to be invited to talk. I will also be selling copies of my novel for just a fiver 🙂

http://www.angleseywritingfestival.co.uk/

So I wish you a fab day and more tomorrow!

happy-writer

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Looking forward

Looking forward to something is a wonderful feeling. I think it’s what’s missing in those times we’re sad or grieving but once you can create that life with all those things to look forward to, it makes everything worthwhile.

Next weekend, in celebration of two years together, Mal and I will be in Liverpool for the weekend, catching up with old friends and making new ones. I am so excited 🙂

The following weekend I will be in Wales making new memories at the inaugural Montage Anglesey Writing Festival where I’ll be hosting a writing workshop as well as giving a talk 🙂

The day after I come back I begin a ‘body transformation programme’ at the gym as I feel I really want to step things up another level since I do ten classes a week but I need something else 🙂 I also need to lose the belly once and for all and that means addressing diet too which this programme tackles. Bring. It. On.

I think as soon as we are in September we get that sense of the nights drawing in and that wonderful feeling that Christmas is on the horizon, talking of which would you believe I am waiting for my new tree to arrive, a lovely 7-foot pre-lit one. Not cheap but since this week was the last splurge before we knuckle down and no more spending on ‘housey’ things, we have it all now, I ordered the tree. A posh pricey one but half price (and still pricey I might add). So here I am in August waiting for my Christmas tree to arrive from Christmas Tree World and an email that says thanks for your purchase and Merry Christmas! How bizarre! But it will be here before we know it.

Today when the man is working in London I will knuckle down and finish an edit, do some writing, some more editing and perhaps catch up with some reading before I see a friend later for a slap up meal of some kind 🙂

So all I can say is make sure you create a life that is all the things you need and above all all the things that truly make you happy.

That is all, I wish you all an amazing weekend and I will back in the blogging seat Monday bright and early.

Looking ahead always...

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