A new sunrise

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Greetings from the great beyond!

Firstly can I apologise for the non-existent posts over the last year or so. My life has taken a dramatic twist and I am still running to keep up with it all.

After many years of crying and stalking publishers on the net, I had my first short story published. More details on that to follow.

I am now a single parent, and as such I am finding new meaning in the word ‘tired’.

I’ve gone from employed to, ‘oh my god is that beans down your shirt, and please not another episode of Paw Patrol’.

And for the most recent, I am embarking on a business idea with my friend and co-writer Heidi Busby Brown. It could be something extraordinary, or send us into a obliterating despair spiral leading to diabetes and drinking in the day.

All in all, it’s working out to be an interesting and fun-filled year so far.

So now I’m finally able to return and take up the mantle that is my blog. I look forward reacquainting myself with you all and hopefully having some fun along the way.

Please watch this space for all the magnificence and absolute (guaranteed) train wrecks to come. Can’t wait to throw myself back into the writing world and feel like me again.

Happy Writing!

 

 

 

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Friday Fictioneers – A day in the Life

It’s been a while.

This will be my last post of 2015. I hope everyone’s had a fabulous Christmas and gearing up for an even better New Year.

If you’d like to join in the latest Friday Fictioneers run by the lovely Rochelle, please find the latest photo prompt and rules here. Just write to 100 words then stop!

Add your link to the blue frog when you’re done.

Happy New Year everyone. See you in 2016!

Copyright Jean L. Hays

Image courtesy of Jean L. Hays

A Day in the Life

Sunlight shines through the stained glass window. I study the list of names, tracing my finger over the first.

It disappears.

A form appears in the chair opposite me.

‘It’s a little disorientating at first,’ I say.

He spins round, scanning left and right. ‘Where am I?’  Panic stings his eyes.

‘I’d like to collect everyone personally, but with population numbers this is more…convenient.’ I smile, touching his head.

His mind fills with his final moments.

I hand him a note, two words – ‘Rebirth or Serve’, written on it.

‘Choose,’ I say.

He points and disappears.

I move onto the next name.

102 words

Five for Friday – Interview with Pleasant Street

Welcome to Five for Friday!

I’ve decided it’s time for a regular spot on my blog. So every Friday (or at least every other Friday) I will write a post.  It can be anything from 5 tips to sell your novel or 5 reasons you should eat as much cake as you can.

So to kick off my new spot I am beginning with an Interview from the lovely Pleasant Street. You can find her blog here – In My Parlour – which I love. Full of beautiful poetry and fantastic prose, take a look if you get chance, you won’t regret it.

Pleasant Street is undertaking NaNoWriMo for the third time and as you probably know, I am joining for the first time. So I asked her some questions on her experiences to help newbies like me get acquainted.

So here we go:

  1. Had you ever completed a novel before joining NaNoWriMo?

No I hadn’t.

In fact I never wrote anything longer than a poem prior to NaNoWriMo, not even a short story. I don’t think I considered it. I’ve written poetry since childhood. Much of my reading consisted of biographies and history. I usually missed the popular novels, opting to read classics.

The great thing about the classics is that many of them give you a good model for what a great novel is. I think the first year I tried it, 2013, it was more of a lark. It was a gimmick online that others were doing and it sounded fun.

Could I really do it? I had to try!

  1. Did you decide on a process before you started, i.e. a certain word count per day/write at the same time every day? Or did you develop this as you went along?

No way, I had no idea of any process at all. I had a title and a basic idea.

In 2012, I started NaNo but never even got half way. I lost that manuscript, so I started over in ’13 with the basic concept. I mean I had a goal, the goal that NaNo puts out- 50k words in 30 days, which amounts to 1667 words/day. But the writing just came naturally and organically. I had no plan other than keep the coffee pot full and write my ass off.

  1. You say that you’ve done NaNo a couple of times before. What are your reasons for coming back this year?

I’ve come back because even though now I’m writing every day, it offers an incentive to finish. There is a great feeling at the end finishing with your buddies, and of course, your own good feeling of accomplishment.

Speaking of buddies, I do visit the forums some and sometimes participate in discussions, especially the ones that involve sharing snippets of our work and getting/ giving feedback. This is enormously helpful, getting that kind of response, good or bad.

Also the folks at NaNoWriMo have v-logs on youtube, sometimes with a live feed and interaction with us, asking questions, etc. A big part of NaNo for some people are the word sprints, you can find these on twitter at @NaNoWriMo. Someone sets a time and everyone writes until the time is up and says how many words they wrote. This can be fun and exhilarating. It can also help you not to give up.

  1. Is there anything that didn’t work for you, being on such a tight schedule?

That’s a good question.  I’d say reaching back to the last question, though the social aspect of it is fun, I find too much social interaction is distracting.  If I interact with others on a daily basis, it is before I start writing, maybe a stroll through one of the discussions, reading and offering replies. Occasionally I’ll join in a word sprint on Twitter. I think the interaction is great but if I get too involved socially I don’t write as much and I lose my train of thought where I am going in the story.

  1. Finally, what is the one piece of advice you would give to anyone taking on NaNo for the first time?

This is a good one. My advice is this- ignore the constant criticism of NaNo and the people that want to drag it down. They have their reasons and they will tell you that it isn’t good for writing a good completed novel; it is too fast with no editing, etc.

They have some good points but even NaNo doesn’t claim that the manuscript you have after 30 days is going to be a finished novel. But you will have a first draft. Without the second-guessing and constant editing, your creativity really flows. Oh, there will be typos and you’ll want to delete some of the crap, but I find it very satisfying once a year to write like mad and form a first draft this way.

Do talk to others and see how they run it. Do they write an outline? Do they write by the seat of their pants and let the story unfold? But ultimately you should run it how it works for you, and you’ll pretty much know in the first week if it is working. Don’t worry about the naysayers. It is 30 days of your life and you’ll have 50,000+ words that did not exist before, which I think is an astounding feeling. I love that accomplishment.

Thank you so much to Pleasant Street for giving up her time to answer my questions.

I’ve found them very helpful, especially the information about the social aspect, which I knew very little about. And I have to admit, I’ve heard a lot of negative things said too and I was starting to worry whether I’d made the right decision, so it was good to put my mind at rest about these issues.

To anyone looking at joining NaNo this year, I hope you  find this post helpful and I wish you the best of luck. Maybe we’ll see each other in the forums at some point.

Thank you so much for reading and Happy Writing!

If anyone would like more information on NaNoWriMo, visit their website here.

I don’t like Coffee!!!

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Well, actually I don’t mind it every now and then. But a good cup of tea is the way to go, for me.

You have to make it right though, ‘as it comes’ is definitely not an option!

I like mine milky, but not anaemic, dark enough to tell its tea but if you’ve hit the colour of David Dickinson’s tan, you’ve gone too far.

It’s been a while since I wrote an update…mostly because I spent the summer working on the same sentence. (Don’t worry, it will be a kick arse sentence when its done!).

The kids are back at school. I now only have ‘the wakey one’ home in the day, whom I’ve decided to rename ‘the bitey one’ after a number of incidents leaving me resembling Jasper from the Twilight books.

So I’m ready and raring to go.

I’ve begun clearing out old notes for my novel. It’s taken on so many changes over the years, I’ve literally got pages and pages of stuff that’s no longer relevant. I’ve also just changed from Writeway Pro to Scrivener so I want to get everything organised before I begin transferring.

I’m in the process of converting a sci-fi short story into a radio play. I think the format will serve the idea well and will get it across better.

I’m doing the ‘Writing 101’ course with Blogging University. They give you prompts each day to get you writing. I’m two weeks in, incredibly behind, but enjoying every minute of it.

Whenever I do anything like this I’m always taken aback by the sheer amount of talent on here. So many great writers, phenomenal sites and wonderful posts that either lift you up or make you think…or make me hungry and dream of cake.

And finally, I have signed up for NaNoWriMo. I’m both excited and scared about this. As many of you know, I’m not the best when it comes to focus. So I thought I’d change it up this year and try something different…lets be honest, it can’t get any worse, I’ve already been working on my book for the past six/seven years.

Anyways, that’s what I’ve been up to.

So, how are you?

How do you do it?

With pen and paper?

Straight to screen?

With a sparkler…or perhaps an Enigma machine for the extremely paranoid?

Each writer has their own preferred method of working.

Stephen King writes longhand onto yellow legal pads. J K Rowling writes longhand then transfers it to screen – editing as she goes. George R. R. Martin writes straight to computer using an old DOS machine.

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When you first start out, the writing process can be a little daunting. So I thought I’d talk about how I do it and hopefully some of you will weigh in on the comments later about your favourite ways too 🙂

I write with a good ol’ pen and paper. A biro suits me best, although I’m partial to the Parker fountain pen when I want to pretend I’m a really real writer.

I used to work straight onto the computer, but my children have been fitted with an alarm system that only they can hear. So if I go near a computer, open a book, or try to stuff a chocolate bar in my mouth before they make it to the kitchen, THEY KNOW.

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I also feel I’m a little less creative using a computer. It’s great for editing. I can sit there, nose pressed up to the screen with a slightly desperate expression, and most people know to keep a safe distance.

But when I’m in the first stages of a story or script I prefer the pen and paper. It feels more natural to me and I’m likely to think more about what I’m writing as it takes me longer to write than it does to type.

I write in fifteen minute bursts. It roughly adds up to about an hour and a half per day. I set the timer on my phone and I get as much down as I can. When the time is up. I put down my pen and do something else.

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I think writing this way keeps it fresh. I come up with all sorts of ideas I would never have thought of if I was doing one long stint. Plus if I can’t think of anything, I’m only staring at the page for fifteen minutes…This drastically reduces the time I sit crying, leaving more time to console myself with cake.

So that’s how I do it. How do you? Would love to know your thoughts, especially if you do it with a sparkler.

In the meantime, Happy Writing 🙂