Achieving your goals.

 

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For the Love of Writing: Making your goals realistic

 

Now you are sitting comfortably and have an idea where you will be working, you will be eager to start writing. If you are a hobby writer, then fitting it in around other commitments is not a problem. However, if you are trying to make a profession from it, then here are some practical tips. Having your own workspace is a luxury but, if it is not possible, then have one where you can ‘hot desk’ for set times. For a change of scene I sometimes use a large coffee shop or a library.

Once you know where you will write and when, set realistic deadlines to train yourself to work in a professional way for the day when those deadlines have to be contractually met. This can be fun as it is like setting a personal challenge.

You might write only 500 or 1500 words a day. That does not matter. Whatever your output is you can easily work out a schedule as a guide for your project to be completed.

For example, if you are setting out to write a 50,000 word manuscript and produce (on average) 1,000 words per day, then you will need 50 days to complete a first draft.

If you work 5 days a week, then you will have your finished first draft in 10 weeks.

Add a couple of weeks for editing and polishing it. So your realistic target would be a 50,000 word novella in 3 months!

These figures are a simple guide to illustrate how easy it is to set a credible target for whatever your project is. Be committed to your work, revising the schedule as you go along. Keep the goals achievable and be determined to succeed, and you will!

A Stolen Heart – Download it for Free!

A special promotion for my readers!

If you love the adventure with mystery combined then download A Stolen Heart from Amazon today.

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Miss Ruth Grainger’s coach jolts to an abrupt halt when it is stopped by a highwayman.

Fearing for her life she is surprised when this highwayman seeks only to retrieve papers carried by a fellow traveller, her guardian, Mr Robert Grentham’s business associate, Mr Archibald Upton.

Ruth abhors thievery, but she is even more disgusted by the cowardice of the man, Upton, as he uses her as a shield.

Released unharmed, she is haunted by the dark blue eyes of the stranger.

What is his connection to Upton? And what is in the papers he was so intent on stealing?

Ruth returns to Grentham’s home, and along with his silly, young wife Eliza, prepares for an upcoming ball.

Little does she know that Grentham is orchestrating events so that the despicable Upton will become her husband.

As Ruth starts to suspect the truth, another stranger steps into her life, and once more she is bewitched by a pair of blue eyes …

Headstrong and independent Ruth is determined to marry for love, and on her own terms.

But everyone around her has other ideas …

Will Ruth be forced into a match she doesn’t desire?

Or will she end up with the man who has stolen her heart …?

A Stolen Heart is a charming regency romance about mistaken identities, and following your heart’s true path.

Promotion ends Sunday!

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Writing: In the beginning!

For the Love of Writing

From years of writing experience I have discovered that one aspect that should never be undervalued is how the process of writing will affect your health. So before we actually discuss what is going to be written or how in future blog posts – be it a short story, novella, or novel – you need to think a bit about the practicalities.
Writing even a few thousand words requires sitting down for hours and this does, or can, impact on your health mainly because of bad posture. I am not medically qualified to give specific advice but I find considering the following helps.

  • Investing in a good chair that can be adjusted for height and back support. I have written whilst perched on a chair in a shed, the kitchen, or whilst travelling. This is fine for short bursts.
  • Try not to cross your legs. I am terrible at taking this advice as the more absorbed I am in what I am doing my legs will automatically gravitate under my chair. However, it is better not to do this.
  • Take breaks. When a plot is working well and you are in there with your protagonist, time can slip away. RSI is no joke, your body is not a machine, shoulders get hunched and tense. So change posture. Stand, walk, literally take a break and do a completely different set of activities that are the opposite of the static writing activity.
  • Give your eyes a break from the screen too.
    Feed the brain and body. I have lost track of how many hot drinks I have made only for them to be left half full (or half empty! ) and cold, because I was too involved in what I was doing.
  • You want to enjoy the whole process preferably when you’re sitting comfortably.

What tips work for you?

 

 

An interview with Imogen Howson

imogenhowsonauthorphoto2I would like to welcome award winning YA/adult author, Imogen Howson as my guest. I was intrigued by her story when she spoke at the RNA’s September meeting at The Royal Over-Seas League club, London.

Thanks for giving up some of your precious time to answer my questions.

You were the winner in the young adult category of the Romantic Novel of the Year Award, 2014, and previously of the Elizabeth Goudge Award, 2008, but where did your love of fiction and the desire to write your own begin?

I was really slow learning to read–I remember all the adults around me having despairing conversations about it! Finally I discovered Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books, and, faced with something I actually wanted to read, I just took off. I started telling myself my own stories around the same time, and later on (when I learned to write, another slow process), I started writing them down.

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Your YA Sci-Fi titles ‘Linked’ and its sequel ‘Unravel’ are based on a high stakes chase for the survival of telepathic twins. What sparked the idea for this series?

I read a real-life article in a teen magazine belonging to my daughters about twins who had a kind of psychic link. One of them was in a car accident and the other knew about it even though she was miles away at home. I said to my daughters that I wanted to write about telepathic twins, so I did. And I made it science fiction just so I could have spaceships and cool futuristic techie gadgets.

By contrast your titles ‘Heart of the Volcano’ and ‘Blood of the Volcano’ are adult fantasy romance. Do you like to have different projects and genres on the go at any one time?

I started off in adult fantasy, because I love reading it, but I realized that I wanted to write about younger characters than the romance market generally looks for. My ideal heroine is 17, which is a bit too young for romance in general. In terms of different projects, I don’t like having them, to be honest, because I get confused and distracted, but sometimes this great new idea lands in your head and you just have to follow it up, even if you’re halfway through another book!

I greatly value the RNA’s New Writers Scheme, as organiser what advice would you pass on to as yet unpublished writers?

Keep writing, and keep reading (especially in the market you’re interested in publishing in). And don’t be discouraged by the almost-inevitable rejections! It only takes one editor to love your book, and I believe if you keep working to get better, and keep trying, you will find that editor. (Or sometimes, such is the weird nature of publishing, several editors all at once, but that’s a fun dilemma to have!)

How organised are you in your writing routine?

I have to be extremely organised otherwise I get exactly nothing done! The morning is my writing (and coffee!) time; in the afternoon I do less mentally taxing stuff, like housework, and organising spreadsheets for my “day job”, my work as a freelance editorial assistant for Samhain Publishing.

What do you do to relax away from the computer?

Running and baking. Running is great, because it’s so different from sitting at the computer using nothing but my brain and fingers, and because of the fresh air. Baking is for when I want to do something creative, but not as hugely creative as writing. Also, cookies always turn out well and people say nice things about them. Writing is a much trickier process!

What is next for Imogen Howson?

Right now, I’m writing on a YA contemporary, plus a YA horror book that I’m really enjoying working on! Plus a top-secret project that, if it works out, will be really fun too.

Thanks for taking the time to share your writing news and good luck with the top-secret project – sounds intriguing!

 

Potting Sheds and Pondering

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In a very picturesque North Yorkshire village called Hutton-le-hole there is an amazing museum of rural life.
http://www.ryedalefolkmuseum.co.uk/

The buildings link the lifestyle of people in the region throughout the centuries. Folklore, husbandry, social history and crafts, such as: rope making, wheel hooping, saddlery, woodturning and hayrake making are demonstrated to name but a few.

The atmospheric buildings span history from Iron Age to the 1950’s showing the way of life of their inhabitants. It is a great place to take children to show them how we arrived at the lifestyle we have today. By going back to basics they, and adults, can see how labour intensive surviving day to day was. Food had to be grown, harvested or killed and prepared. Clothes had to be made from cloth that was woven or leather that was skinned and tanned. Food was prepared in advance of harsher seasons and had to be safely stored.

Before the Internet and our technological ways information was rarer and precious. News travelled slowly and superstition was rife. Ignorance was not bliss when it came to accusing people out of fear. However, people knew far more about the land and what it gave us that we could use for survival than we generally know today.

I find history fascinating. I love seeing a snippet of yesteryear within various different ages. I imagine characters and the adventures they could have had, set within my favourite periods in time. However, I am rarely nostalgic. When asked I have to say that I would never want to live in a time before antibiotics, washing machines, cars and computers. I love learning from history, but one thing I have learnt is that life was harsh but unfortunately wars still happen. Some lessons are never learnt it seems.

On a lighter note, I found the medieval hall, cottages and herb garden fascinating, but it was the simple potting shed that inspired a tranquil setting for a scene from Thomas’ father’s recovery in Stolen Treasure.

Extract from Stolen Treasure:

Thomas put down the bag and stepped into the half-light inside.
His father was sitting, just as he used to, on a stool with a chisel in one hand and a small mallet in the other as he worked at fixing a broken gate latch.
“Well, doctor, put your potions aside, for I’ll take none. Say your business and leave!” He looked up. “I am not in need of a doctor of body nor mind, so you have had a wasted journey. Whoever sent you will have to be disappointed.”
Thomas slowly removed his hat and propped it on top of the discarded bag. He then stepped a pace nearer to his father. “Pa… Pa what happened? Tell me the truth of it for it is I, Tom?”
His father’s tired eyes squinted and focused on his son’s face. He looked shocked, the chisel fell from his hand, but the mallet was still raised. “Tom, is it really you?” his voice cracked with emotion as he uttered the words.
Thomas stepped forward. “Yes, it is! I sent letters…”
The man stood. “You!” he muttered as he rushed forward.
Thomas opened his arms, but the mallet was still raised high.

 

Congratulations, Sally!

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Congratulations, Sally, for hitting the target!

Now you have reached your goal are you happy with what you have achieved as a result of your Wordathon?

I am very happy to have achieved my 50,000 words in 24 hours goal, and to have had the experience of doing it (although I don’t think I would repeat it – no-one should ever try and do just one thing for 24 hours straight!). It has also meant that I have achieved another part of my purpose in doing it, which was to reach a lot of people and tell them about my writing. At least none of my friends is going to forget that I’m a writer now… :)
I am even quite happy with the product of the Wordathon – you can view the raw manuscript here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Xswhvv4W9ty7FCXMOXmncH6T0Ge2SOlm6XE8O6SpPcc/pub. It got a lot more messy than I expected – since I disabled the backspace key (which you can do in ‘Typewriter mode’ in the Write or Die program I was using), the typos and the gibberish words and the strings of letters increased exponentially around the 18-hour mark. Even so, I think it has helped me a lot to get a fair way into my plot and start to get to know where the story feels like its going.

What have you learned from doing this challenge?

I have learnt that I can really get a long way in a day, and I hope that I won’t find goals of 3,000 words a day quite as intimidating as I used to. I have also learnt in the aftermath that it took about three days for my brain to stop feeling tired (even with plenty of sleep), and my will-power to get anything done has taken even longer to return! In the end, doing something extreme and pushing my limits is fun (as long as it is a rare occurrence), but I can’t expect it to have a direct effect on my everyday habits or anything.

What is next for Sally?

Next – there is still the rest of the Newbie to Novelist challenge to complete! I set this up in two parts: first, the Wordathon, but second and more importantly, I want to get the rest of my first draft at least roughly sketched out and written by the end of the month. Since I just finished plotting the skeleton of the rest of the story yesterday, I think I have only done about a quarter of the plot so far… so in theory, I could be looking at about another 150,000 words by the 30th November! I doubt I’ll manage that, but I still need to get writing again, and I am still encouraging people to follow me and sponsor me. My website is http://www.sallybridgewater.com/blog.