Life Cycle Of A Writer: A Spark Of An Idea

As Baby Number Two has gone off to the New Writers’ Scheme, I’m enjoying a few weeks of blissful ignorance of how much more work there is to come. I’ve been able to read, something which has been lacking these last few months when evenings and nap times have been dedicated to writing.

My mind is already toying with the next project. Looking back, Baby Number Two arrived after two light bulb moments. One was at a dinner party with friends when we were discussing the number of children we’d like to have. It created a What If? question in my head and I realised it would make a good story. The second light bulb moment was when I was at the London Paralympics where I realised it would be good to make the story into a documentary and it gave me the hero I needed. There were lots of smaller moments of inspiration along the way, but those were the main two.

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Currently, for my next project, I have half an idea and I need a spark to come along to complete the idea. Personally, I find sitting at a keyboard is not the way to find the next eureka moment, so I tend to get out in the sunshine and seek the answers there. Although, as this project will involve some research, I might have to start reading up and hope there is inspiration amongst the pages.

Over the next few weeks I will be doing a further revision of Baby Number Two before sending it out to publishers and agents. And whilst I wait, I’m planning to make a start on my next project. So let’s hope the other half of the story comes to mind.

Where do you find your sparks of inspiration? Or is there no telling when they might pop up?

 

Catherine x

 

#ReadOnGetOn

We’re joining in with Read On Get On and Southampton City Libraries with their campaign to encourage reading. They’re asking everyone to share photos of where they read and to share those pictures on facebook and twitter using the hashtag #ReadOnGetOn. All the details can be found on their website here. So here are some of the places we read:

This is me(Laura) reading in my conservatory. It's south-facing, and is the perfect place to read while I warm up. Daisy thinks so, too.

This is me(Laura) reading in my conservatory. It’s south-facing, and is the perfect place to read while I warm up.
Daisy thinks so, too.

The chair is a recliner, and I have a table and lamp next to it, with a space for a mug. I often come in here to write, as well.

The chair is a recliner, and I have a table and lamp next to it, with a space for a mug. I often come in here to write, as well.

Sue: When travelling; land, sea or air. Was handy today when I had to take a 20 minute bus ride.

Sue: When travelling; land, sea or air. Was handy today when I had to take a 20 minute bus ride.

Sue: Reading in the garden - such a treat after the winter

Sue: Reading in the garden – such a treat after the winter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My girls enjoying our local library!

Catherine: My girls enjoying our local library!

 

Who needs a reading snug when you can have a basket?

Who needs a reading snug when you can have a basket?

 

Catherine: My couch, where i collapse at the end of the day and where most of my reading and writing happens. It's moulded to my shape!

Catherine: My couch, where i collapse at the end of the day and where most of my reading and writing happens. It’s moulded to my shape!

 

So please join in on Facebook and twitter showing us where you read using the hashtag #ReadOnGetOn.

 

Life Cycle Of A Writer: Crossing the Finishing Line

Never has there been a more glorious moment than writing these two short, little words:

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It is not the first time I’ve reached THE END of a manuscript, but this one has been something of a HERCULEAN effort. I had the idea for Baby Number Two in 2012 and after mulling it over for a while, I wrote the first chapter to enter into the New Talent Award at the Festival of Romance. Much to my surprise, the first chapter was shortlisted and I was invited to attend the New Talent Reception prior to the Awards dinner. Looking back on my iPhone pictures these two photos are next to each other:

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My lunatic grin at finding I was shortlisted

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The reason I look quite so crazed in that photo?

I took this test on the day I was heading up to the New Talent Award Reception, so no champagne for me then. It also put a stop to any writing for some while, because that faint little line turned out to be twins and throughout pregnancy I was a) not able to write because my brain was mush and b) I didn’t want to jinx anything, which was silly and irrational, but that pretty much sums up emotions during pregnancy.

It was only once the twins arrived safely that I managed to consider writing again. This story that I’d created over a year ago needed to be written. But how, with twins? I talked about that on my last vlog and turning to the traditional pen and paper route worked for me. Gradually, at every given opportunity, I have scribbled away and have managed to get those 3,000 words to roughly 80,000 words.

It’s taken me nearly 3 years and I managed to produce two children quicker, but at long last I can say I’ve reached THE END.

Now truth be told, I should take this opportunity to recline on the sofa for a very long time. I’m pretty sure I need to, but as parenthood doesn’t allow that, and certainly not in the day time then I’m continuing to fill every spare minute and am already 100 pages into editing. Because crossing the finish line is a great feeling, but I’m still chasing the dream that everyone gets the chance to read this story.

Catherine x

Life Cycle Of A Writer: Sparkle Round-Up

Here at Romaniac HQ, we believe in positivity. The reason we started the Life Cycle Of A Writer posts was so that we can share the lows and highs of our journeys. It is a mighty tough business for which you need a thick skin, but we go by the philosophy if you work hard and believe in yourself great things will happen. Give yourself the chance to sparkle, and if you don’t mind indulging us for a few minutes, we wanted to share our moments of triumph with you and together raise a glass to all the highs.

December

It all started in the middle of December at the Romaniac Sparkle WeekendEn route to our get together we found we had good reason to celebrate when Vanessa Savage learned she’d won the Flash500 Novel Opening Competition for Missing Grace. The report from the judge, Steph Patterson, provides some very encouraging words for Vanessa:

“The introduction to Missing Grace just pulls you in. Straight away, it raises a number of questions and you quickly read on. A mere sprinkling of back story, told in a way that links the past to the present, introduces us to another important character, and then we’re heading straight into the plot. The tension grows as the mystery unravels. My congratulations to the two finalists! I’m sure both will go far.”

If that wasn’t enough reason to raise a glass, during our sparkle weekend Catherine Miller learned she’d won the Just Write Monthly Masterpiece competition for Miles Between Us. With the judges saying they were gripped from the very start. The first three chapters are now available to read on their website.

January

2015 got off to a great start when Vanessa received news she’d won a Writers Forum competition for her short story No Such Thing As Monsters. The magazine should be out in March!

To add to our early 2015 cheer, Catherine was highly commended runner-up in the Accent Press and Woman magazine writing competition for her work-in-progress Baby Number Two.

February

Laura E. James carried out her first Waterstones book signing at the Dorchester branch, selling and signing copies of Follow Me Follow You

Laura and Sharon Goodwin (Jera's Jamboree) at Dorchester's Waterstones.

Laura and Sharon Goodwin (Jera’s Jamboree) at Dorchester’s Waterstones.

Vanessa received double good news in February – Her current work-in-progress The Murder House made the final four in the Caledonia Novel Award and she came third in the Flash500 flash fiction competition with her story Pretty Maids All In A Row

March

March has been mega for good news, and we’re only part way through the month.

Catherine went up to London to receive the Katie Fforde bursary award. This is for someone on the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writers’ Scheme who has great potential. Katie presented Catherine with a trophy at the RNA March meeting.

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Laura carried out her first talk with a fellow Dorset writer, Kathy Sharp. The Preston Friendship Club were fantastic audience, and Laura hopes to do similar events in the future.

In a celebration of Mother’s Day, Celia J Anderson’s letter to her mother was included in The Guardian. It’s the first letter and has a lovely picture of Celia in a bonnet.

As if all these bits of excitement weren’t enough, Romaniac HQ celebrations went into overdrive when we learned our wonderful Jan Brigden won the Choc Lit and Whole Audiobooks Search for a Star competition. Her novel As Weekends Go will be published later this year.

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We’re absolutely delighted for Jan and so glad to have our first life cycle transition from aspiring to published writer.

We’ve also finished putting a considerable number of words together with The Murder House by Vanessa Savage, Baby Number Two by Catherine Miller, Fractured Love by Lucie Wheeler, What Doesn’t Kill You by Laura E.James and Living The Dream by Celia J. Anderson reaching completion in one stage or another and the very hard-working Sue Fortin has been getting The Half-Truth into its final version ready for publication in two days time!

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Time to upgrade Romaniac HQ’s mini-bar. There’s no way we can stock enough champagne in there if the good news keeps coming in at this rate. Now if you’ve all got a filled glass, please raise it to the wonder of sparkle and positivity!

CHEERS!

CHEERS!

 

#libstory with Southampton City Libraries: The Story So Far

As part of the National Library Day celebrations, Southampton City Libraries have started a story on twitter, and they want you to join in and help finish it. As their writer in residence, I provided the first line, now they want people to join in to see where the story goes. It is open to everyone, and Southampton Library chooses the winner out of the lines provided via twitter. Taking part is easy, just use the hashtag #libstory so we can see your sentence, and use @SotonLibraries if you want to be doubly sure they spot you! Here is the story so far. The next winning line will be selected on Mon 30th March at 10am. I’ll update the winning lines here and the next deadline. There is no limit to the number of times you enter. Good luck if you are taking part!

@katylittlelady The fumes clinging to the back of his throat told him he was home. He let the motorbike’s engine run as he took his helmet off.

@Briggy44 What sort of welcome could he expect, given the chaos he’d left behind, when he’d roared off that day?

@suefortin1 He cut the engine. Mind made up. He turned to the house. As if expecting him, the door opened and there stood …

@Laura_E_James a young girl, six, maybe seven years old, her hair the shade of summer corn, her dark eyes…

@Briggy44 so like those of the woman standing behind her, challenging him to step over the threshold …

@Laura_E_James “You couldn’t help yourself, could you?”

@lucie_wheeler His shoulders drooped as he exhaled, the guilt burning deep.’I had no choice,’ he pleaded, ‘you have to believe me’

@Briggy44 ‘What, like the last time and the time before that, you mean?’ said the woman. ‘Where on earth have you been …?’

@suefortin1 ‘That doesn’t matter. What matters now is us. I have just one question and I need an honest answer.’

@lorrainehossing Looking at the child, he asked. “Am I the girls father? And I want the truth this time.

@jjackson42 “Just look at her! Look at her properly. Could she be anyone elses? Every time I look at her I see you so clearly!”

@ros_rendle With that, the child stepped forward. “Are you going to be my daddy? I’ve always wanted one,” Her eyes, large and pleading.

@suefortin1 What the hell was he supposed to say? His head said one thing, his heart another. “Well, sweetie, it’s like this”

@suefortin1 It’s not as easy as just turning up and you calling me Dad. There’s something us growns up need to sort out first.

@VvSavage He looked at the mother of his child, the love of his life. “Are you going to tell her the truth or should I?”

@Laura_E_James The woman laid her hands on her daughter’s shoulders. ‘This man is called Cain,’ she said. ‘He..

@suefortin1 Was once my best friend. We were inseparable. Then one day, something happened which changed everything. We …

What happens next? You decide!

If you are not on twitter, but want to take part, please add your sentence below and I can add it to twitter for the judges to see. It needs to be 130 characters or less so it can fit into a tweet.

Best of luck,

Catherine x

Roving Romaniac: Mumsnet’s Get Published Day

It’s not often I get out and have to form comprehensive sentences. To be honest, I think I may well have lost the ability, having been allowed out and managing to boom ‘hello’ a few times without anything else following.

Yes, I’m a mum. I have twin toddlers who’ve created a made up language. I talk to myself. I answer back. I go occasional days without any other adult interaction. So an entire day with other human beings in the same situation was comforting. Also mind-blowing. The setting was enough to make me happy.

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Having been supplied with tea, coffee, biscuits, fresh fruit (all of which we could eat and drink unhindered), we were treated to a day covering the work of the Janklow & Nesbit Agency, how to make the right impression in covering letters, a panel of editors, an editorial masterclass, an author panel and a one-to-one.

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Photo courtesy of Hellie Ogden

 

Much was covered during the day, but I came away with these impressions:

  • The Janklow & Nesbit Agency works hard on behalf of their authors
  • Having a foreign rights agent can be the making of an author’s career
  • They’re eager to find new talent as part of the Mumsnet competition
  • It’s important to keep on writing
  • There are a lot of mums/nans out there with considerable talent and drive
  • That my laugh is ridiculously staccato and loud, given high enough ceilings

On the way home, I saw this slogan on a poster and thought, yes, that’s exactly what today was about…

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And because I am a mum of twins, and rarely get to eat all of my own food this also happened…

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The wine glass is out of shot and mostly empty!

I’ve no doubt, in the two Get Published days that have taken place, someone who has attended will be shortlisted in the Mumsnet competition. Whilst everyone waits to hear, I’ll be looking up words like Linear and Exposition. They obviously hadn’t factored in that I’ve been teaching the girls that cows ‘moo’ for the past month.

Catherine xx

 

 

Life Cycle Of A Writer: Finding time to write

Catherine is often asked how she finds time to write now she has toddler twins. Here she lets you into her secrets, but this video comes with a warning: It is not suitable for those with an aversion to dust. Or brightly coloured toys in an unspeakable mess.

How about you? How do you find time to add to your word count?

Catherine x