Sometimes we take things for granted. I think I have had enough lessons in my life not to do that, but sometimes it’s hard not to. I think the pandemic has been an opportunity for some to sit back and take stock of what really matters. Do you like your job? Are you happy in your life? Are you where you want to be?
Since I was young I always thought about work as something I wanted to do and enjoy and not something I had to do but it is not always possible to think that way, I appreciate that. I feel blessed to have found the thing in life that makes me truly happy. To be a writer; to get up every day and do what I love is truly a blessing.
While at the moment that is not paying the bills; writing still is, in that I get to enjoy working with other writers… until the day comes when I can just write 🙂
We have to enjoy life; I took a big wage cut many years ago now for the dream and I have never looked back and never regretted a single day of it. Sure, I seek more financial freedom but I know it will come, and I also count every blessing and enjoy every day of the ride.
If something is not working for you in your life, change it. Do it now.
As some of you know I set up some mentoring bubbles at the start of 2021. I felt, with the never-ending lockdown, we writers all needed something. We needed interaction and some of us needed something to kick-start our writing, and to be accountable. A new year is always a perfect time for setting goals. As such, the programme (which I made a super low price) filled up with ten lovely writers and was so successful, in fact, over half of the people carried on with some mentoring once it was done. Now six months on, and I still work with three of them. As the world opened up it seemed fewer people wanted to join but we still had five for the one that soon comes to a close, and at least one of those plans to continue.
So it’s been successful and reflects the need for us all to adapt to the changing demands of our lives, especially at this odd time!
Zoom has changed the way I work, although I run my other editing and of course my own writing alongside it. I now offer a Zoom call to all editing clients post-edit and I think it works better than simply emailing over the answers to their questions. I am a ‘people’ person and so that interaction seems to work very well.
What I have come to realise is how useful it is to work together in this way. Zoom allows for screen share and getting up close and personal to identify both strengths and weaknesses. I look at style but also at the character development, story arc, plotting and so on.
I had planned a week dedicated to the short story with daily group sessions as well as a one-to-one critique but since no one has signed up and we only have a week to go, then I think it must be the way the world is at the moment. But I do have a short story week planned for December and I have a feeling that will be a better time, in fact I already have someone signed up for it.
What I want to focus on right now is ‘The novel bubble’ which NOW seeks writers. This starts in July and is for six novel writers who are working on and have some of or a full draft of a novel, be it first, second, even tenth draft and is stuck. What do they do now? They could come to someone like me for a full critique… or they could consider signing up for some intensive mentoring over 10 weeks. It’s a similar price, in fact, to a full critique on a 100K manuscript but the difference is we look at 10K a week (or thereabouts), with a Zoom call (up to 2 hours weekly) to look at what is working and what is not, with suggestions and guidance. Also weekly group sessions on all aspects of writing and I have a special guest for one of those sessions 🙂 My lovely agent can also offer her advice to you. The cost, up front for this bubble is £599… but you do get a lot for that. If you are interested I do want to know more about YOU, the project, see a SAMPLE and you need to be able to commit to the sessions and the work. It runs JULY 11th to SEPTEMBER 19TH. Group and one-to-one sessions will be at a time and day to suit you all and we can work that out before we get started.
Please email me if you want to do this: firstname.lastname@example.org
My hope is that this is the beginning of a productive and an enduring relationship.
So what qualifies me to help you? Firstly, I am one of you. I am a working writer, with a literary agent, and I know how hard it is to get work out there. My agent is working so hard for me now to sell one of my novels… it’s tough out there. But what I do know, from over eleven years of editing for writers and small presses, from mentoring writers, working as a small publisher, core editor for Cornerstones and being a published novelist and short story writer myself, is that it has to come from the heart. It’s about the PASSION. And that passion is what drives us to be better writers. We are all on a learning curve, just at different places. It is tough but what I can assure you is that the learning is reward in itself, and the people who make it, are the ones who NEVER GIVE UP.
If that’s you, get in touch and let’s begin our journey together.
Late blog this morning as was busy early, but just popping in to say have a great weekend all! The countdown begins and next week I will be posting short extracts of some of my published short stories and maybe novel extracts too on here in my own countdown until Friday!
I love that I have a lot of work, although my own writing has to wait when that happens. I suddenly have a lot of work this side of Christmas; from both private clients and Cornerstones, but that is all fab! It is, after all,an expensive time of year!
Tomorrow I finally get to meet my Cornerstones colleagues when I am off to London for a little drinks evening; although I have a consult with a client first! As you do. So tomorrow I will not be in the office even though I have a lot of work to get through! Anyone would think it’s Christmas! But when I think about having colleagues who do what I do for a job I can’t help thinking about how I created the ideal job. I think back to when I would sit in the open office at work; all discussing pharmaceutical technical things and wishing we were talking about character motivation and the like! And now, well it is only me in the office, but I do have phone calls and I do spend my afternoons doing just that! I have indeed created the perfect job! And I will forever be grateful because I am quite sure I could never go back now! How could I do anything else or work for anyone but me? I couldn’t!
Tomorrow morning I also have to be at the gym early to be put through my paces by my lovely friend and one of the trainers as she has her final assessment to become a fully qualified personal trainer. So later I get to be trained by the man and then in for another session tomorrow for her and him again Thursday! I will feel it! I will not blog in the morning as I need to be up and editing at 5 so at least I get some work done before my busy day! But I will be back on Thursday to report on meeting my Cornerstones’ colleagues!
Have a fantastic day folks, whatever you’re doing!
Today sees the 53rd anniversary of the assassination of John F Kennedy. Three years ago I had the official launch of While No One Was Watching, my debut novel. And what a three years it has been.
The same year I won the inaugural Bath Short Story Award, was shortlisted in the prestigious Commonwealth Short Story Prize and my story, The Theory of Circles, was also nominated for the highly acclaimed Pushcart Prize! It was hard to top that in a year!
The following year also saw successes, the biggest of which was finding an agent.
Since then I have had something published each year to keep that short story momentum going and had numerous signings and events along the way. I also moved to Essex, joined a gym and met a lovely man. So personally and professionally my life has changed.
Give me a WHOOP!
Novel wise, I have still got the other three novels and been working on at least two new novels but am waiting for something to happen. My agent is so incredibly busy and she has now joined a much larger agency where her focus has changed more towards non-fiction. She still represents… me for the time being, but I am now making plans for 2017. I need to have another novel out there now!
I talked about my novel, and this whole idea of using a real event, such as the Kennedy assassination, woven into the fabric of fiction at the U3A event last Friday. Aptly timed of course for the anniversary. We used examples from film and talked about the historical novelists like Philippa Gregory and Sharon K Penman and where the historical novel sits (although mine is not a historical novel per se) in terms of representation of history. Can fiction change what we believe and is that a good thing? It went down really well and I sold 14 books which isn’t bad for an event like that!
I will share links to the U3A site as they also took photos when that is live.
So on this special day, I am sharing links to my novel again (sorry!) for anyone who has not read it! Give it a go! Christmas presents?
I am so blessed that from the day I started to work with writers on critiques and edits, I have never been without a steady stream of work. I also work with Cornerstones and so take work from them, at the moment I mentor three lovely writers. I arrange my day so I write in the mornings and then some days, like today, I just work, but it’s great and I am so grateful I get to do what I love every day.
On my wall is a plaque that reads ‘Create The Life You Love’ and I can’t actually believe I did.
I plan to introduce a couple of day-long workshops next year; one will be local to where I live, another might be in London if we have enough interest; a day workshop on writing and where to take your edits. If anyone is interested in the London one please let me know as I will need to look into venues. I also would like to offer some more mentoring with novels or short story collections as I feel this works really well so might open a couple of spots initially for people with serious intentions of making 2017 their year. So if interested in this, please let me know.
If you are simply looking to hire an editor or someone to really critique your work then please do check out my website. It gets busy but I am happy to pencil you in for edits — a couple of spots still available for 2016 but then I am booking for 2017.
So I wish you all an amazing weekend whatever you do… and remember if you want to give an unusual Christmas presie to a writer friend why not give them a gift card for a critique of a short story (2- 5000 words) £50 including follow-up… or for shorter pieces up to 2000 £25 and I will send a certificate and they can use it any time in 2017.
I keep out of political discussion; I never expressed my Brexit view all over social media nor will I blog about Trump and what’s happening over in the US. While I live in Britain I have a deep connection to the US and hence my debut novel about Kennedy and my many trips over there and my many special friends. But what I will say is in this time of unrest and hate, stay focussed on what matters to you.
Yesterday I did not blog as I, like so many across the world, watched how the events of the election panned out and then, well did what I always do, I wrote and then I went for my yoga class, which is a great way of keeping grounded. And then I had lunch with the man and then edited all afternoon.
Keep in mind what matters and let’s see what happens next. Yes it might be scary, and yes I am with you all on that one… but try to remain focussed and calm, if you can. That is all; please no political responses; that is not the purpose of this blog.
Love one another ❤ Do what you love ❤ Be with people you love. ❤ LOVE.
That is all.
And anyone wanting to read my novel who hasn’t yet… here it is! American flag and all!
And I will leave you with some lovely images from a Halloween Party I went to at the weekend. Mal says he has never dressed up before so we had planned to go to a party at a local pub until Dave at the gym invited to his house party which was much more fun!