Tag Archives: inspiration

Looking back to look forward…

…You can’t know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been…

 

I am back and hoping to inspire (or possibly bore you) with my writerly ramblings in 2019… hopefully the former!

Something has always excited me about turning the pages of a new diary and hanging a new calendar. It’s a time for looking ahead, for goal setting, for dreaming, but also for remembering.

Last night we did something we have never done on New Year’s Eve. It’s a new tradition we have started. We walked Rosie later than usual (in the dark with her flashing collar, no less), along a peaceful Canvey sea wall. The sea was so calm, the tide was in and it softly lapped against the shoreline. I love that sound. Lights twinkled across in Kent and the occasional firework fizzed along the edges of the year. Perfect ❤ We then walked to our local church (where incidentally we get married in nineteen days’ time!) and we lit candles in the chapel. We remembered those long passed… as well as those we lost in 2018. We sat in the reflective tranquility of the church and looked at the beautiful St Nicholas Christmas tree. We listened to the soft music, with those candles burning in the chapel, and we thought about how far we have come and how much there is to look forward to.

There was a big party next door for the church in the hall (where we will also party on the night of our wedding) but there was something special about being on the outside of all of that noise. At the same time, the joy in the laughter and the singing crowned the moment and filled us with good energy as we sat in peaceful contemplation. Actually, we sat and worked out our wedding vows 🙂

We have always kind of lived on the periphery and in many ways like being a bit different. So, for us, this was perfect ❤

Then we walked home,  he meditated a while, and I drank hot chocolate in bed with a book. We were both asleep by midnight. The fireworks woke us so we said Happy New Year and We get married THIS year! Then we went to sleep. Perfect end to a lovely year ❤

So…I have BIG plans this year, some short story writing to kick off the year (for some BIG competitions I’d like to win 😉 )  before I make a few changes to Chutney for Irina and start my search for a new agent. And… good news… DRUM ROLL IF YOU PLEASE…

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I am finally publishing my short story collection through Bridge House this year!

Yes, you heard me correctly! These will be previously published alongside never before published ‘competition-winning stories’ alongside some new ones: OUT in JULY 2019! Since it is my 50th birthday next week (yikes!) then this will be in celebration of turning 50 this year as well as the year I get married!

It is going to be a big year and my January calendar has never looked so busy.

Excitement for me comes not from things but from plans  That’s why Christmas Eve is my favourite day of the year because it is a day of sparkle: a day of heightened expectation. And that for me weaves a special kind of magic. You know, when my work is out there sat on some editor’s desk awaiting its fate, that same sense of hope lives in every moment: will it get accepted? Will it win even? Is this it, the breakthrough moment? If we give ourselves things to look forward to, be it something small like that sugary treat later, a nice dinner, a book you’re enjoying, or something HUGE like a wedding, no matter how big or small it’s having things to look forward that makes life worth living, right? This year there is SO much, but let’s not forget that it has not always been that way. Maybe this year it is not that way for you, maybe it has lost its sparkle. When my Lee died in 2005, it was hard to look forward to anything, I’d say for a couple of years. And trust me I am like a child who looks forward to everything! It took something really HUGE to change that: meeting my idol Barry Manilow was what did it! I counted down the days to that trip to Vegas from 100 days to go!

So, I will leave you reflecting on what you have to look forward to and if it has been a difficult year, I promise you it will get better. Start with the small things.

 

I will be back and telling you all about my experiences at City Uni on their ten-week screenwriting course.

Have a beautiful day folks! Thanks for reading 🙂

Us New Year's EveDebz and Mal at St Nicholas Church, Canvey Island, New Year’s Eve 2018/2019

 

Ps if you wish to do something for my birthday, I have set up this Facebook fundraising page. As some of you know, I am a great supporter of The Born Free Foundation ❤ so if you wanted to help, even if only £1 it would mean a lot, thank you… LINK

 

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Book or Ornament?

This might seem an odd dilemma but the question is prompted by something that happened yesterday on a rare day out of the office. Mum had asked me to ‘be her’ for the day (interesting!) as she had booked a trip with the U3A with a close friend and neighbour but in the end was unable to attend. Despite mounting workloads and waning energy levels on my new gym programme, I had of course agreed and we had a really fun day at Hatfield House in Herts!  Great company 🙂

One of the rooms in this stately home I loved was, of course, the library, pictured below. Rows and rows of ancient books and despite knowing they would not like greasy fingers on the covers, I knew I had to… some compulsion that said inside my head: touch the book. My friend did too of course! We only touched one, but don’t you just love the feel of a real book? So many of them, from fiction to psychology although hard to read the authors or the titles on them, shame, they all look the same! So, of course, poking fingers got reprimanded with a ‘don’t touch the book’ which I ignored, almost touching another in protest but I am aware these are priceless artefacts and if we all poked the books would not live another 500 years. I get it, but that voice inside did not! See, the thing is, these are books. They were born to be opened and read and enjoyed and now they are nothing more than ornaments and somehow I find that sad… what do you think?

 

Hatfield House Library

The Library, Hatfield House, Herts, taken September 13th, 2017

I think it was a day of rebellion because there was also a dog groomers on site where they had the stable doors flung wide open so you could watch, an invite to see the doggies get clipped.  So, when an Airedale looked at me from where he was being pampered and wagged his tail I naturally said hello there. So then the woman who was in there reprimanded with a don’t talk to the dog. I ignored that too, … don’t open the door and invite us to look in if that is the case! Books are made to be read just as dogs are made to be social!

Later, in part of the old house, we walked around what had been a massive kitchen, read the sign that said ‘Do not touch the kitchen utensils’ and guess what we saw? The gong. Oh yeah… a gong for announcing that dinner was served. We looked at one another and seriously, seriously wanted to pick it up, I mean, to apply the same philosophy, and allow it to be what it was made to be… oh how much we wanted to do that… but even we (rebels that we are) thought that might have finally been a step too far! But imagine giving it a lease of life once more… 🙂 I so wish my inner rebel had done it now! Darn that self-control!

But seriously, I am all for rules and preserving history etc… but a book is made to be read, is it not? It’s a library but not a functional one so is it really a library if no one reads? Is it really a book if simply on a shelf? History needs to be living and breathing and even if greasy fingers spoil books at least they get to be books and not ornaments! There resteth my case!

I will leave that for you to ponder and for me to wish I had taken that gong now and made my protest to the world! Pick up the books, smell the books, read the books!!!

A collage for you all…

 

Some pics of Hatfield House, including me in hat to tame the frizz, and very cheesy grin… Knight in shining armour anyone?

 

 

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Settling into Life

How lovely it is settling into my new life in this lovely little house. The house has so many windows and I love the light.

Yesterday a very talented musician friend was here with her hubby; I think I have known her longer than any of my friends, we go back to infant school in fact and I introduced her to her husband when we were both doing our A’Levels! They have now been married twenty-seven years! Wow! Anyway, Nic is the one who wrote and recorded the music that goes with the book trailer for While No One Was Watching, the one Dad and my best friend sang on… shared again below as it’s been a while! Anyhow, she is releasing a very special album and yesterday we turned our living room into a recording studio and I gave a reading as Lydia, the whole of Chapter 16 of the novel as it happens!

Once this is released I will share. I think she will use some of it as it’s ten minutes long, but there will be a link to hear it all, so that’s me talking in my African-American accent. Hope it sounds okay. How bloody exciting is that!

So what fun! And then we had a Chinese meal sat on our patio, so the house has had its first social gathering 🙂 How lovely 🙂

The garden is a work in progress but we are getting there! What do I look like? Don’t answer that!

 

Here is the book trailer :)CLICK  https://youtu.be/yu-FEliJflA

 

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When Patience is What we Need… but is Hard to Find

It’s Tuesday. Take a deep breath and look ahead. 🙂

The weekend (and the start to the week) brought a few challenges and now I feel as if everything is a waiting game — but I have to rise above that see what lies ahead; climb the tree to see the view… stunning isn’t it.

My little house is Wales has once again had to have the price lowered, so now it is well below its true value but I need it to sell, more so than ever. It’s time.Fingers crossed that things pick up with the market. Renting it out is not an option now, I need to sell to release funds for our happy future! Patience is something I have in oodles (we need it as writers, don’t we!) but when it seems people think I am not doing enough to sell it (I am!!! Really really I am!) and so start laying down ultimatums on time frames then it just puts me under even more pressure! HELP! Yikes… I might just explode. Let’s be hopeful! The problem with something like an auction (something else I have considered)  is it will sell for far less that its value and so I have also to be realistic if I want us to move on here and have money for a life! So I am resisting this option; also with the advice of my estate agent. He says, ‘Hold fire, the market will pick up.’

Yep… I know this stuff is not directly writing-related, but it is in that challenges all muck about with creativity, right? And all this comes at a time when everything feels a little mixed up for me; broken foot, so no gym… the other half has some health issues… we want our own place so much… for both our wellbeing… and so I can refocus my writing in a new creative space. That’s what it’s really all about and at the moment … you know the ‘stuff’ of life seems to get in the way. But know this, good friends out there: I post this because being a writer always does bring many challenges and sometimes, even for me, ever the happy optimist, I must face such hurdles. But I will win because I always do! I will regain my positive mojo. And some people, after all, face far worse challenges.

It’s not an option to move back to Wales, much as I love it… although maybe we need a little trip there to recharge a few batteries? Or even a little trip somewhere closer? But I can’t move back even though it has been ‘suggested’. Firstly I have sold some furniture now, I would have the costs and upheaval of moving, but it’s not that. I do truly love that house, but my life and my partner is here now. I can’t walk away from that. The gym I love and the new friends I love are here. You can’t go back to move forwards, not with something like this.

So after a bad day yesterday… it’s time to look ahead again, breathe in, be thankful, write, edit and love.

Because without love, we have nothing.

Here is the link:

House in Snowdonia

Make me an offer!!!

Thanks for reading!

Have a peaceful and inspiring day!

 

 

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Workshopping: Canvey Island, March 25th 2017

I know I have plugged this before but if you have any writing friends in Essex then I am still filling my workshop on Canvey Island, still a few places left for later this month.

One of the problems with workshops I have found is no matter how you dress it up, the workshop is the same thing, covers the same topics and there can come a point when you feel you are not gaining enough new information. I hear you.

When I ran a workshop like this in Wales, shortly before I moved, I tried to make it as hands-on as I could. By this I mean that it’s about how you apply all these terms like ‘showing and telling’; ‘too much exposition’; ‘clunky phrasing’; ‘motivation for action’ directly to our own work. How do you start an edit when you are pleased with your finished novel? We faff with commas and spellings and whether a semi-colon would be better here when really the place to start is to look at the shape of your story first.

I found that time writing, discussing, looking at new work produced in class as well as works in progress, helped empower writers with more idea of how to approach their edit. So while they might feel they understand what telling is, they cannot always identify it in their own work. So it will me more hands on, more practical I hope. It was successful before so I am running it again. So far it’s mostly members of the two writing groups on Canvey… but it is open to all. Even beginners will benefit and I do offer a fiction clinic that looks the most common ‘errors’ or better, ‘weaknesses’.

So do share this post as there are spots left. It will be fun too, serious but fun and a chance to meet with other writers!

Book online with PayPal: http://www.debzhobbs-wyatt.co.uk/Pages/Events.aspx

Or email me: writer@debzhobbs-wyatt.co.uk for more information!

workshop

Thanks everyone! Have a great Thursday!

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Write Away

Here I am with apologies for the lack of posts last week; apart from a cough and cold and swollen glands that have haunted me for a month (everyone seems to have something, right?!) and a bit of foot injury from stepping funny (don’t ask) I have actually had some time off… well kind of as I have still had deadlines for edits and this morning am working on a story I have been commissioned to write! Not liking not being able to go to the gym, give me a kettlebell someone! How much does the cat weigh? Kidding! … no room to swing a cat?!

So here I am at my desk. Last week I looked at all my short stories and subbed 11 to competitions, some old ones and some that had yet to do the rounds. I feel as if I need work out there. I urge you all to do the same.

Next week for World Book Day I will be in a local school talking about stories and so I need to get my skates on and prepare for that. Year 7s get ready! And I have my workshop, poster below. Anyone in Essex who would like to come along then there is a PayPal button on my website or if you’re local then you can arrange to meet to pay for this. I did one like it before and it was really successful, but not one in Essex yet.I try to make it a little different from other workshops I have been to, so writers feel empowered with the tools they need to edit their work. But at the same time, I have been asked if new writers would gain from this and yes…. absolutely! I will be talking about editing, but also how to write a piece with voice, how to plot, what kinds of questions to ask. Writing time, discussion time, and eating time all allowed!

Link:  http://www.debzhobbs-wyatt.co.uk/Pages/Events.aspx

So all I will say is have a fab day and an amazing week and back tomorrow…

workshop

 

 

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Friday’s Editing Tips [Formatting]

While formatting will be changed for Kindle and the like, it is good practice to get into a submission-ready standardised way of formatting your work as you write. Then change fonts and spacing if required by whoever you are submitting it to but generally most follow the same basic guidelines.

Here are some tips from a handout I like to share:

A Few Simple Tips For Formatting

 

Always check the guidelines for submission with the publisher or agent. Likewise, always check the rules and the submission guidelines when submitting to a competition or anthology. They will have their own in-house styles and rules. However as a rule of thumb the most preferred formatting is:

  • Times New Roman (Ariel sometimes)
  • 12 point
  • Double Spaced (remove extra space between paragraphs)
  • Double speech marks – although some prefer single (some even say if they want straight or curly!)

(Just make sure you are consistent.)

  • Rugged right (justified leaves gaps in the text) and editors usually prefer this as it appears too uniform otherwise. This is using the ‘align left’ tab not the ‘justify’ tab.

 

Paragraphs

The default tabs in Word are usually fine (sometimes they might ask for certain indents but not usually), set for double spacing (sometimes 1.5) and click box – don’t add extra space between paragraphs for the whole document. Start the piece or a new section to the far left, then indent for new paragraphs. Look at books as this will give you the idea:

e.g.

And so it began.

It was the summer of 1974…

 

Use an indent for a new paragraph or speaker (also includes reaction by a speaker so the reader can easily follow the conversation).

If you change scene, extra line space – no indent.

For a large time gap or point of view change also consider using asterisks for a larger scene break.

 

… She never stayed to hear his reaction. She couldn’t watch the man she loved just walk away. Not today. Not ever.

***

Peter drank. Perhaps not always the best answer but today Peter drank to forget.

 

Here we changed point of view. The formatting tells the editor/reader the switch in point of view was intentional. Again look at the way books do it and be consistent in your text. You will find your own style.

 

Dialogue

Always indent when a new person speaks unless it’s after action:

Peter stood and looked along the line of bushes. “What the hell was that?” he said.

Avoid hanging saids like:

Peter stood and looked along the line of bushes. He said,

“What the hell was that?”

(Move it up onto the same line.)

Again look at books. If you’re given another character’s reaction to what a speaker says start like a new paragraph.

e.g.

“It looks nothing like an alien or a lion,” said Joe blushing.

Peter dug his hands into his pockets and shook his head at Joe.

 

Thoughts are sometimes also expressed like dialogue. This is completely unnecessary for a single viewpoint character narrator when it’s clear it’s all his thoughts (so you can also lose expressions like he thought.) But excursions in a third person narrative to direct first person thoughts or with an omniscient third person narrator it is preferable to use italics. These make it clear it’s thoughts and differentiate from dialogue.

e.g.

He heard it again. Only this time followed by a shrill sound, like a bird maybe. It put him in mind of a parrot screeching but longer notes, more persistent. Whatever it was it wasn’t going away – (all character thought)

It’s going to get me – (switch to first person direct thought).

Rather than:

He heard it again. Only this time followed by a shrill sound. “Maybe it’s a bird,” he thought. “Maybe like a parrot but more persistent.” He stood back. “Whatever it was,” he thought, “it wasn’t going away. It’s going to get me.”

 

If you get into the habit of using the correct formatting it makes it easier when you submit and it also tells the editor you do know about writing – it’s far more professional. It also shows them you know how to follow rules which is essential if they decide to publish you. It’s surprising how many writers don’t read. Read as much as can not only do you then pick up the right way to format but you also see what works best.

 

Also make sure you use things like hyphens (-) to connect words and en dashes (–) to separate clauses and em dashes (—) for interruptions

Also for ellipses do not use three or more full stops control-alt-period (…) not (…).

 

Make sure you follow the guidelines, so if it says no identifying marks, remove your name from headers and footers. If it asks for page numbers at the bottom, insert them in the footer. If it asks for Ariel font, no indents (The Costa Prize does this!) and saved as a PDF, then do exactly as it asks.

 

Make sure you follow the rules of competitions: themes, word counts, previous submissions etc.

 

Have a great weekend everyone!

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