Going to Great (or Minimal) Lengths

When I first got serious about turning my writing into more than just a hobby, there was some confusion as to what constituted a “novel.” Or a novella, a novelette, a short story, and – oh what in the world is flash? About this time last year, I took a couple of online classes on writing, and, curious if any of my WIPs were long enough, I asked my instructors.

I never got a clear answer. The common answer was “as long as it needs to be to be told properly.” Or a paraphrased version of that anyway. So what is a novel?

A novel, according to Wikipedia, is a written work 40,000 words or longer. What? Not defined in pages? Uh-oh. Okay, well… how many words fit on a page? I’ve gotten answers anywhere from 250 words per page, all the way up to 450 words per page (and just recently saw somewhere that it was 200.) I pulled a few books off my shelf – standard paperback romance size and a couple of espionage thrillers (since that’s what’s on my shelf) and came up with about 300 words per page on average, and that was averaging ten random pages from ten random books. (To clarify, that’s 100 pages of counting.)

I opened up one of my WIPs and checked the word count. Then I did some math. 37,113 words turned into 124 pages. Well now, that’s a little shorter than I was expecting.

This information deflated me a little bit. I wanted to be a novelist. How could I be a novelist if I didn’t have enough words to create a novel? But that brings me back to that general comment about “how long should it be.” “As long as it needs to be to be told properly.”

Now that we’ve got the technical length of a novel defined, each genre has its own standards. So let’s discuss those.

According to a post by Chuck Sambuchino on Writer’s Digest, where I found this information, if you’re writing a novel in basically any genre except Sci-Fi/Fantasy, YA and under, and westerns, your butter zone is in that 80,000-90,000 word range.

Ignoring science fiction and fantasy for a moment, typical lengths for the remaining genres are going to be shorter, and range anywhere from 500-600 words for a children’s story book, all the way up to 80,000 for a western.

Back to SF/F, and then I’m down off my soap box. These two genres tend to run into the six-digit range. But that’s because we’re building worlds that don’t actually exist. Chuck says the optimal range is from 100,000-115,000 words. We have to define the inhabitants of those worlds, how they travel, what kinds of medicine and religions are practiced, the government system and laws, the currency system, their weaponry, what their level of technology is, and is magic involved? For a detailed list of questions every science-fiction or fantasy writer should ask – and answer – before they embark on a journey through their new world, you can click here.

But wait! There’s more! Out of curiosity, I looked up the lengths of the other “sizes” and checked those out too. So here it is, just for you! This information was gleaned from the depths of Wikipedia.

Novella: a written work between 17,500 and 40,000 words.

Novelette: 7,500 up to 17,500 words.

Short story: under 7,500 words.

Flash fiction is 100 to 500 words.

Hopefully, this eases some of the pain of trying to figure out where your story falls, or what you need to do to get it into the butter zone for your genre. But whatever you’re writing, don’t worry about the number of words you’re putting down on the page. Worry instead about telling your story the best that you can, and focus on your vision for the story. Write it for yourself first, and let the paper-pushers worry about counting words.

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Storytelling and Everyday Communication

STORYTELLING and EVERYDAY COMMUNICATION

An important aspect of communication—whether oral, written, fact or fiction, whether a speech, a memo, a novel, or any type of communication—is delivering our message logically; that is, presenting events and facts in a logical order.

The presenter or writer must consider two things in determining logical order: the desired effect of the message and the audience.

If the recipients of our communications don’t follow or agree with our logic, there can be dire results: everything from confusion to mild irritation to frustration to anger.

This is an example of an everyday communication gone wrong.

A phone call from your sister:

“Hi Beth, this is Julie. I wanted to call and tell you I tried to call Mom all morning and she didn’t answer. I was frantic, so I finally went over there and we found her on the floor.”

[You gasp and hold your breath.]

“We banged on the door and then finally pulled out the flowerpot key. I went through the house calling for her. Doug stuck his head into the kitchen. She wasn’t there, so I ran up to her bedroom and she wasn’t there either. Her car was in the drive so we knew she had to be home.”

[Your heart pounds as you wait to learn the condition of Mother. She could be dead, but you don’t dare interrupt because you might miss something—something like how idiot Doug forgot to wipe his shoes at the door.]

“So I finally found her in the downstairs bathroom, you know, the one with the hideous brown and yellow tiles? Well anyway, there she was asleep on the floor with a bath towel rolled up under her head and her favorite book laying there next to her. It’s that new one by that Hungerford lady, “How to Moderate a Scribophile Group and Maintain Sanity.” It’s a hoot.

“Well anyway, apparently she fell asleep reading and was just too sleepy to go up to her room, so she just pulled down a bath towel and curled up on that germ-infested furry rug she’s got, with the radio blasting so loudly she wouldn’t have heard the toilet flush next to her head. What she was doing on the floor in the first place I don’t know, but I just thought I’d call and tell you about it. Beth? Beth, are you there?”

[You’ve counted to ten, then to two hundred and taken a deep breath.] “Yeah I’m here. So Mom’s okay.”

“Yah, you can’t imagine what I went through before I found…”

“Julie? Julie?” you interrupt. “I want to say something…because I love you, Hon. Don’t ever call me again.”

If Julie’s desired effect was to give her sister a near heart attack or tick her off, she probably succeeded. Clearly she did not consider Beth’s (her audience’s) perspective; she seemed more concerned in telling the story the way she wanted to tell it. If we don’t consider the perspectives of our audience—readers or listeners—they’ll likely ask us not to call again.

This second example could also be quite agonizing if one very important piece of information isn’t provided immediately.

Since I empathize with all animal lovers, I’ll impart that information now: the cat is perfectly fine, entirely unharmed in this story of How a Cat Set Herself on Fire.

***

Jill was reasonably sure she had checked everything before she left that day, but when she came through the door about an hour later, the stench of burned fur assailed her nostrils and she immediately knew otherwise. Something was very wrong.

Though miserably frightened at what she might find, she began hollering accusations into the quiet.

“What have you done? What HAVE you done?” On her way to the counter as she dropped packages, she looked this way and that for the culprits, the damage, any sign of where the odor was coming from.

Knowing each of the four little monsters well, it had to be one of her two known firebugs. She saw immediately that Maggie was lounging on the back of a stuffed chair and Annie was curled up on the video recorder. Relief!

She hurried over to Maggie. The fur ball looked up and yawned.

Reaching around to pull Maggie’s tail out from under her—expecting to find a hairless, limp appendage—her hand passed over singed, shriveled fur on her entire side.

“Oh my God, Maggie.” As sooty, wiry stuff came off in her fingers, Jill quickly parted the fur to make sure Maggie’s skin wasn’t any pinker than it should be.

In a strained voice, she continued bombarding the disinterested cat with questions. “How did this happen? What to hell is wrong with you?”

Well Maggie didn’t answer because she knew full well that Jill already knew the answer.

She had mistakenly left a lit candle on the counter, exactly where Maggie was NOT supposed to be.

Jill tried not to imagine Maggie there alone with one whole side of her going up in flames, but she chalked it up to Maggie’s drop-and-roll training, made necessary by a prior incident when she’d lit her tail up like a Roman candle. Fortunately Jill had been there to clap it out.

Cats simply take all the joy out of candles.

***

Again, the logical way to present this story is determined by the audience and the desired effect. If Jill told this story to her husband, she would wisely start with the results: the cat is unhurt. But if her audience are the readers of her short story, and her desired affect is suspense (sadistic suspense), she might withhold that information for some time.

So before we utter the first syllable, type the first letter, we ask ourselves who our audience is and what our desired effect is? Do I want a family member to hate me or do I want to give a reader suspenseful entertainment?

“Mom’s not dead but the cat will be bald for a while.”

Happy blogging.

Bea

Cinderella in Reverse

The last post by Emily Cooper described annoying tropes in romance. Everyone hates them, and yet many readers lap up what others detest. There is a reason there are so many billionaires and dukes among romance heroes, while the female leads tend to come from far more modest backgrounds.

But how happy are such unions likely to be in the long run? Realistically, the bride is going to face resistance and disdain from her in-laws and her man’s social circle. Unless she is extremely adaptable and astute, she will be considered a social climber for a long time. For all we know, even Cinderella may have endured snubs by fellow royals after wedding her prince.

Looking back on the series of seven historical novels I have written over the past year (five published, the other two currently on pre-order), I find that I have played around quite a bit with variations of the Cinderella trope:

In The Impostor Debutante the hero’s social standing is far superior to that of Charlotte, even though James is is only the younger brother of an earl –  her birth is illegitimate. His mother’s outrage at this misalliance is still unabated six volumes and three children later in the series.

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In His Last Marchioness there are two couples – in one, the lady is of higher birth and elects to wed a man from the professional classes when she could have married a duke’s heir.  (How realistic is that? Well, sometimes love does win out.)

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The Sister Quest features the traditional rich man – poor woman trope, but my hero is a mere commoner, without even a baronet in his family tree. After amassing a large fortune Jonathan is hoping to marry up, into the aristocracy. It would have been logical, for in a class-ridden society, not only women harboured such ambitions. Cherry does not even know her parentage, she was adopted as a baby.  Jonathan renounces his social climbing for her sake, and finds himself richly rewarded.

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From the author’s perspective it is great fun to play around with social status, confounding both the reader’s expectations and my characters’ ambitions.

Catching a Rook presents a rare inversion – a duke’s heir is yoked against his will to a lady of yet higher rank, a foreign princess. The social gulf between the aristocracy and royalty was enormous in the 19th century. My story illustrates that matches across such large divides are inevitably problematic, especially when neither side feels  love or desire.  In the end, both find happiness with partners closer to their own status.

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Lady Susan’s Bargain returns to the theme of a rich, well-born lady marrying “down”. Nobody in her family can understand why she would want to do so. The reason is unusual, but she gets her way through daring manipulation.

As the cover shows, this book is not part of the Amberley series. It has more sex, and darker themes.

Some reviewers have objected to the mercenary motives of particular characters. I contend that such motives are highly realistic, especially in people who have known want and neglect, and crave security at any cost. (Remember how quickly Mr. Collins in Pride and Prejudice gets Charlotte Lucas to accept him, and how money and inheritance issues colour everyone’s attitudes and status in Emma.)

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The heroine of Lady Anthea’s Choice is also well-born and well dowered, but needs to learn to stand up to social and family pressure. Her choice is between a rich, handsome lord who is also a selfish bully, and a slightly less aristocratic but kind and supportive young man. Abysmal ignorance (euphemistically called “innocence” at the time) further complicates her situation.

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And after all that, in The Perils of Lord Pell, to be published at the end of February, I go back to the traditional Cinderella story – my young heroine marries through necessity, and her man turns out to be a fabulously rich marquis intent on spoiling her. What’s not to like? (I do show the reception she gets from his family, and her misgivings at this drastic change in status.)

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Yet wealth and social class are just one element of a good romance.  Mutual compatibility, sympathy, and especially a good measure of sexual attraction are also essential.

Most women consider wealth and power attractive attributes, but for my heroines honour, loyalty and kindness trump every other consideration when it comes to the crunch.  They learn to understand that rank without love and friendship can only be considered a consolation prize. Some lucky girls get it all – but the others still get what will make them happy in the long run.

Now, if only it worked like that in real life…

Romancing the Trope

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Disclaimer: I know that there are exceptions to every rule, and I’m not calling anyone out. I just want to discuss common tropes, some of which I think are overwrought.

  • Trope V: She’s a virgin (very sexually inexperienced) he, however, is a legend of sexual prowess (Dick Slinger of the West)Jane_the_Virgin

**Let me also exclude historical romances at this moment because I get that it is based on a time when society had different views and women did not have many rights.**

Let me get to the brass of why this one peeves me, at the heart it is the inequality.  I don’t fancy myself to be an expert, and I don’t think that I only know loose women. I have a myriad of friends of each sex and orientation. I feel like trope V continues the thought line that women have to be pure and men can f*** whoever into our romance.

I’m not here to slut shame or virgin shame, I’m here to shine a light on the fact that I think a lot of what I read today does that.

Why are there never inexperienced men? Cause let me tell you, in real life they are out there. Just bumping along with no one ever telling them “two inches down” or for that matter the virginal male? I guess that might not be sexy to some, but I why is the men teaching the women any better? Eroticism to me is an individualized thing between each couple, and part of that is learning each other. Not “Baby let me show you what your clit can do”

Why do some writers shy away from letting their women be real women? Or for that matter, men be real men? Cause the philandering dick slinger is not one of the guys I’d put in my cart. And the only semi interesting thing about him would be meeting the woman that informed him he’d been two inches off this entire time.

  • Trope A: Your MC is an asshole (ladies can be assholes too, equality, remember?)

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Let me start this portion off by saying, I’m the kind of audience who likes my villains with some substance. Yes, he’s evil, but WHY does he want to take over the world/slice off his victims noses? That aside, the winning asshole is just too much for me. He gets the girl, the money, the world. Her love heals all the broken bits inside of him.

  • Side Note: Love does not equal MEDICATION images (4)

It might be just me, but I need some character development, I need people fixing themselves not relying on others. It’s one of the reasons I loved The Scale and Need You Now, Mika made her characters become self-aware and then move from there to becoming people worthy of being in love. Falling in love was not a cure all, only lithium can do that. 😉

I don’t like characters that are jerks and the reader/other characters have to dig to find any redemption inside of them. I’m going to call this character trope The Grinch: his heart grew ten sizes when *insert inciting incident happened*

It takes effort, awareness, and dedication to change something about yourself. If your heart is going to grow ten sizes (seek a doctor outside of this metaphor) then you’re going to have to build it up over years of hard work. I’ll take this growth in a montage, but I need to know it happened.

  • Trope F: We hate each other, then we love each other

The F is for fickle

I’ll admit, the very first time I met my husband, I thought he was kind of an asshole. I was like “F*** this dude” and not in a fun I might sleep with him later kind of way. However, it only took one actual interaction for me to realize that while yes, he was a sarcastic kind of guy that can be taken as an asshole out of context; it was something that complimented my own personality. I still think he’s kind of an asshole sometimes, but it’s the kind I can live with. I would like to note, that until I got to know him better, sexual attraction did not commence. I cannot feel things for people I think are douche-y. I can’t overlook personality fails to get my freak on.Heigl_Butler_Romancing_The_Stone_featured_photo_gallery

So, I find it very hard to relate to characters who f***ing hate each other for like 6 chapters, but there is this sexual tension that they don’t realize/admit to, and then they fall in love. Sure, initially we get false impressions of people, but not for 6 to 12 bloody chapters.

And sure, maybe some people find hate to be an aphrodisiac, but what’s with all the denial? Fickle much? I guess after reading it so many times, I feel like it’s a ploy to build tension, to fatten out the story.

Before I go, I just want to mention:images (9)

  • Trope T: for Too Freaking Late

MC realizes at the WORST possible moment that the love is real and they have to go for it. It would be selfish to keep something so monumental to themselves right? True love is the most important thing, and it can bloom no matter the circumstances. Marrying someone else? Whatevs, you don’t truly love them cause I’m your soulmate and I was just unavailable.

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Seriously, it’s no biggie, the only thing of merit is that you know my love is the real love. And even though you have shown zero signs of being anything but happy, let me just shit on your contentment. o-LOVE-ACTUALLY-2-facebook

Let us all transcend the tropes or give them a new life with meaning. Let us douse our characters in substance and purpose. Let’s forget one true love and embrace the love that is right for me at this point in my life.

I also started my own writing blog for in between my spotlights on this beautiful one here. And I have a facebook, so connect with me!

Naming a fictional character

So what’s the big deal about naming a character in a fictional novel? I mean, a name is a name, right?

Naming a fictional character can be a fun but daunting experience, each name could reflect major personality traits, or the character’s role in the story. Those who know me and my writing process are well familiar with my quest for the perfect names because I can’t start writing until I reach a point where I feel the title of the book and character names are perfectly match for the story. Crazy, I know. But hey (shrugs) I’m a writer.

Two years ago, when I started to outline the Martha’s Way series, I needed names that at least to me, reflect each personality and have significance in the story. To my surprise, for Claire’s mother, I kept thinking of one person…Rosa Parks. Yep. Rosa Louise McCauley Parks the beautiful resilient African-American Civil Rights activist, whom the United States Congress called “the first lady of civil rights” and “the mother of the freedom movement”.

I knew Claire’s mother’s character would be critical in her daughter’s growth, and I wanted a name that captures her strength. As I am writing Claire and Forrest’s story and getting more familiar with Rosa, I couldn’t have picked a better name.

Remember, there are a myriad of places to find names for your characters. If you’re struggling to come up with just the right one for your character, try these:

  • Phonebook – Your local phonebook (if they still exist) is sure to provide you with a thousand of names.
  • Biblical Names – Many names from the Bible are unique. Just keep in mind that some are difficult (if not impossible) to pronounce.
  • Internet – Do a google search for “baby names” or “random name generator” to help you along. As a note, I always stay away from popular names.
  • Soap operas – There is no doubt the soaps are loaded with interesting characters. A few well-known soap names include: Victor Newman, Erica Kane, and Bo Buchanan. Try mixing them up to come up with names like, Erica Newman or Erica Buchanan. You get the idea.

I keep a running list of names. When I hear or see one I like, I jot it down. I may never use some of them but here and there they do come in handy when I am introducing a new character in a novel. It’s a great reference list.

Remember, a name is the first thing your reader will encounter in the story to help him or her identify with your character. Make an effort to choose names that not only are identifiable but memorable, too.

Happy Writing!

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Thanks, but no thanks

I had a bunch of ideas for my blog post this week. First it was going to be about eeking out time to write between being a mommy and working a stressful full-time job. Then I was going to write something funny about euphemisms for private parts in romance novels.

Then my first rejection from a publisher came, and that’s all I could think about.

no-68481_640Back in December I submitted an excerpt from a short for consideration in an anthology. I was ecstatic a couple weeks ago when they asked to see the rest of the story. The refresh button on my email was getting a major workout as I waited for a response. Then I was disappointed this weekend when I got the email saying they were passing on the story.

I’m not ashamed to admit I indulged in a bit of wallowing. I’ve probably read the rejection email two dozen times. At least. It was short and sweet, so there really wasn’t much to analyze. It said they liked my main male character, but the story wasn’t what they were looking for. Good luck. Bye-bye.

Now I’m tasked with getting over it. Being a person that endlessly dwells over my mistakes, this isn’t the easiest task.

The first step was figuring out what I did wrong, and how I could improve for next time. Easier said than done since the rejection email didn’t give a lot of information. Simply that my story wasn’t right for them. Cue over analyzing a three sentence email and trying to read between the lines. They said they liked my male main character, Luke. Maybe I need to work on my female characters? They said the story as a whole wasn’t right, perhaps the pacing was too slow? The sex not hot enough? Too hot? The truth is I may never know. I have to deal with that uncertainty. I won’t be the first writer to be given a vague rejection, and I’m it won’t be the last I receive either. I archived the email for my own posterity and tried to forget about it.

That lasted five minutes.

Next I tried to look on the bright side of things. I hear from some fellow authors getting a personalized rejection is actually a good sign and doesn’t always happen. Heck some said they never got a response. So, yay! I got a response, and they mention my MMC by name, that shows they at least read part of it, that’s a start!

Sharing my rejection with my fellow writers was the best thing I could have done. I found that commiserating with friends who knew where I was coming from gave me a new perspective on the situation. This is part of the process of becoming a writer! Everyone has been there.

After deciding this was not a sign I’m a horrible writer and should give it up altogether, I tried looking for success after rejection stories. Back in my basketball days my Dad always reminded me, after spending another game on the bench, that Michael Jordan got cut from his high school team (turns out that isn’t true, but my Dad said it was, so it was). I typed into Google “famous authors rejected by publishers” and hundreds of articles popped up. I clicked on one from Buzzfeed (knower of all). Whoa, Robert M. Pirsig was rejected 121 times before getting Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance published. There’s a guy that knows how to take rejection and keep going. One publisher told JK Rowling not to quit her day job. And it turns out Beatrix Potter self-published The Tale of Peter Rabbit after several rejections.
It appears those of us to get rejection letters are in good company. All was not lost. I’m not saying I’m on the same level as those authors, but if they can roll with the punches, so can I.
One article I read said to keep writing, don’t let the rejection get you down. But when I opened the document for my work in progress I got dismayed. All I saw were the problems with my story. I wasn’t ready to be optimistic yet.
Instead I pampered myself a little. I went shopping, bought a great new dress, and walked around sipping a latte. Then I came home and played with my toddler. Because there’s nothing that can boost your confidence like hanging out with someone who thinks you’re the greatest thing since Nutella.

The next night I was ready to work. I finished a new short for another anthology and made some serious headway with my novel.

I don’t know what will happen with the rejected story. The idea of expanding it into a novella and self-publishing is playing in the back of my mind. Or maybe I will stick it in a drawer for a while and decide later.

I do know the next time I get rejected, and there will be a next time, I’ll be okay. There’s a weird sense of accomplishment that comes with getting your hopes dashed and moving on with your head held high. Sure, for now I may be an unpublished author, but I stuck my neck out there. That’s saying something.

I swear, next time I’ll write about pocket rockets.

Novel Structure and The Human Body

This concept is wonderful! Great idea and great analogy.

Louise Redmann - Unpenned

Musings Of How A Novel Works.

I always think of a novel as being like a human body

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and just as the human body has many different elements that make it a whole, so does a novel. At least, that’s the way I see it. The body has a skeleton, ligaments, muscles and various systems. Veins. Blood. Then we have the outside. Skin, hair, bodily characteristics and genetic quirks.

A human body could not work without the skeleton. We would flop all over the place, ooze around like jelly. Or like a piece of liver crawls towards milk. What’s with that, anyway? Check this out from BBC Radio 2.

A novel cannot work without its basic skeleton – the story structure and plot. If the bones of the plot do not extend throughout the parts of the novel, then that part flops. Literally.

So what is a plot?

The Oxford…

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Those Naughty Words

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How do you refer to sex organs when talking to your close friends? What about when you’re talking with your partner? Do you use the same words with your friends that you use to get your partner in the mood?

I’ve been struggling for several months trying to decide which words the characters in my novel will use. There are several options of course, but it has to be just right. I have to consider the period of time in which the story takes place as well as the personalities of my characters. Words used in a historical romance, for instance, will be different than words used in a contemporary romance.

Would my main character refer to her sex as a “love cave” or “honey pot”? Would she refer to her boyfriend’s penis as his “manhood”? His “member”? It was one of my critiquers who pointed that I need to decide exactly which words I’m going to use. She reminded me that my main character is no Victorian Miss.  She wouldn’t send a sexy text message to her guy that reads, “My quivering love mound has been aching for your throbbing member.” My characters just don’t talk like that. They’re in their twenties and they’re in the Navy for goodness sakes!  They could just be straight forward and use “penis” and “vagina” but let’s face it, when they’re in the bedroom, whispering erotic words to each other, the words, “vagina” and “penis” just aren’t sexy.

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I don’t use c**k, d***, p****, c**t, or even a**. I’m not judging anyone who uses such words in their ordinary language. It’s just not my style. They hurt my eyes as well as my ears.

Since those words don’t come naturally to me, I didn’t plan on using them in my novel. But just because the sound of the word p**** makes me cringe does not mean my characters can’t use them. After all, they are younger and hipper than I am.

I posted a question about this in one of forums on a Scribophile. Many responded that they use p**** when being intimate with their partners but found c**t to be too derogatory. Many of the men said they use c**k with their partners because it felt sexier to them.

About a week ago – several months after beginning work on my novel – I realized why the thought of using those words in my novel was such a turn off for me. When my book is published, I’m pretty sure I’m going to go right to my mother’s house and say’ “Mommy, Mommy, look what I did!” I feel like it will be a huge disrespect to my mother if I present my novel to her with those words laced throughout.

When I told my mother what I’m writing and that there will be content that’s inappropriate for her to see she implied that she would read it and then spank me.

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But there isn’t just my characters to consider, I also have to consider my audience. I want my readers to devour my book and when they get to the racy parts I want them to be fanning themselves while they read (or whatever else they choose to do to themselves while they read).

So after many months agonizing over which words to use, I’ve decided to let my characters speak in the way that is natural to them. If it’s feasible, I’ll consider having a few copies of a PG-13 version available for my mother, they younger kids in my family and anyone else who may be offended by those naughty words.

Happy New Year!!!

Happy New Year to all you Happy Authors Guild Readers – and a big THANKYOU to reading and responding, and making this the wonderful Blog it is!

I was debating on whether to make this post about the New Year and what plans we may have, what we want to achieve, but then I thought, no. Let’s look back instead. Let’s take a moment to consider the past year and what we have already achieved.

What is your favourite memory of this past year?

What achievement are you most proud of? It can be big or small; sometimes it’s the smallest achievements that can have the biggest impact.

What book/s have you read that left a lasting impression?

What is the best/favourite line you have written? What’s the best line you have read? Post it in the comments below and maybe we can have a vote!
Sometimes thinking about a New Year and resolutions and all that stuff can make us feel inadequate, put pressure on us to out-perform ourselves in an unrealistic manner. Maybe this is why so many resolutions fall by the wayside; the burdens we lay on ourselves can be too heavy to carry. Of course there are things we want to achieve, but sometimes life happens and we don’t quite get there.

My general aim, for the last few years, was to be published by aged 40. Well, this past year I turned 40. I didn’t get published, and neither did I self-publish. I was very disappointed, and spent some time wallowing in misery about how crap a writer I am and how I’ll never be published. Then I thought, instead of looking at what I haven’t managed to do, I should look at what I did achieve. Boost my self-esteem instead of poking great fat holes in it and listening to the air whistle out until it lands on the floor ready to be stepped on.

So. I wrote several short pieces, edited my first novel and got half way through my second, all the while managing a family, giving English lessons and working on a copy-editing course. I have learned a lot about writing this year, and hope to learn much more next year. I set up a website all by myself, yay! Ok, I used wordpress templates, but I learned about widgets and all kinds of stuff. There were one or two hiccups, but overall I am proud of that achievement. I managed to keep the house from deteriorating into a rat-infested, dust bunnie, spider haven. I may not be living where I would like to live, I may be lonely a great deal, but I have two fabulous boys and a supportive husband.

So roll on 2015, I want to see if I can build on last year’s achievements and maybe, just maybe, get something published.

Happy New Year! Louise