A productive Autumn


I am manufacturing more time for writing this Autumn. Sometimes I’ll be making it out of thin air, other occasions I’ll be borrowing from chores and the boring bits of life and frequently it’ll be snatched back from Facebook and other ways of being social. 

If you’re looking for tips on planning and productivity, check out tonight’s #geaqa discussion. Children’s writers, but lots of good stuff on there to help all of us. 

Still at it

Get on with it, Uncategorized

Yeah, that’s right. Still plugging away at the same middle grade novel.   And now blogging about that while rocking a nine-month-old baby. Ah, children. So conducive to writing, said nobody ever, but to be fair my four year old has started coming out with fabulous nonsense which could turn into a picture book or three. Of course I’m not going to give him credit, all writers steal. I’ll keep him in Smarties though. 

I just renewed my SCBWI membership and am still part of my phenomenal Crit group (oh my but that lot are doing IMPRESSIVE things, more on that to come) and still learning. Oh god so much to learn. 

When I get the chance/make the time to write it’s still fun though. That’s the point, right? 

The small issue of logic


Hands up who else gets ‘synopsis dread’? Writing a pitch line is one thing. “It’s Vanity Fair meets Fight Club in East Grinstead.” I’ve tried so hard to be a plotter – and I believe it’s improved my writing and my process – but still I can’t help veering off on tangents. When you need to write a synopsis for something that still in draft, you start to realise what a big hoary mess it’s become and stripping it back for a coherent synopsis is a terrifying prospect.

In a recent #ukmgchat with Sarah Odedina from Hotkey books, she said the most important thing to remember in writing for a Middle Grade (MG) audience is LOGIC.


I have become reasonably obsessed with this, as I think it’s true. As converted pantser, no matter how hard I try to stick to an outline, it tends to veer off when OOH A PLOT BUNNY crosses my path and I just throw him into the mix regardless.

I’ve realised it’s important to make sure that each scene advances each participating character’s “wants” – that their actions propel them towards whatever it is that they want (to be left alone, to climb Everest, to rob the convenience store, to make the perfect cannoli) every time, regardless of plot bunnies. And I need to see that in front of me.

Scrivener is a great tool but I’d love if it had some sort of timeline (and also an iPad version) so I’m going analog. As suggested by some other SCWBI members, I’ve got a roll of wallpaper, and I’m adding some name labels. Going to make the mother of all timelines, check that the logic and ‘wants’ are king, work out what character ‘knows what when’, as Rachel Aaron suggests in 2k to 10k, and note the plot bunnies that need to be shot and boiled. 

I’ve got Sharpies and I’m not afraid to use them.

Chained to the desk





Where else would I be today. 

I’m lucky enough to have a writing day so it doesn’t matter if it’s bloody tropical outside. Truth is, I burn quicker than plastic white bread anyway so I’d probably be in the shade or whining if I was outside.

Instead I am inside, and whining, because I’m stuck. I’m on a six-month (online) novel writing course and it’s kind of a crunch time – midway through the writing and I haven’t written enough; my outline is problematic and I don’t want to just feck time away writing towards no likely end point; and I guess I am just generally having a panic.

The current solution is that the sloping office ceiling above my head is getting covered in post-its and I’m trying to see past all the bits of ‘story’ I’ve written and make them into some sort of ‘plot’. 

There’s going to be a tree’s worth of post-its up there soon. 

Banished by Liz de Jager


Saw on Twitter earlier this evening that there is an excerpt  of Liz de Jager’s debut novel Banished up on Tor’s website. I’ve been looking forward to this, Liz was one of SCBWI’s Undiscovered Voices and I think was picked up really quickly as a result. Go read for yourself – can’t wait to get my hands on this one! You can preorder it, I just found out on her blog. Go!

Writing for Teenagers online course


The very lovely Keris Stainton is running an online course in August, Writing For Teenagers: It’s not all OMG and LOL. She’s written three very successful novels, Della Says: OMG, Emma Hearts LA and Jessie Hearts NYC, the lady really knows her stuff. And you should follow her on Twitter, she’s funny. 

It’s six weeks and sounds fab. Off to reserve a spot now! 

November is for No


Ah yes, it’s that time of year. The days draw in, I get aggrieved at the park closing fifteen minutes earlier each week, and I start to get the Guilts for not committing myself to one of the various creative marathons that the last thirty-day month of the year offers.

There’s NaNoWriMo.

Or NaBloPoMo.

For the boys, or the hirsute girls I guess, Movember.

As I haven’t written a word of fiction this year – I tell a lie, there was a single dashed-off entry for a short story competition – I think it’s probably unwise to want to throw myself into Nano this year. Except, of course, that now I’ve sensibly told myself that, I really really really want to. Ironically I even have an idea, once that’s been festering building for a while. It’s timely and will be redundant by next year.

I’ll make a decision – oh, probably late on Sunday evening.   Instead I have definitely committed to one Nano task – I am making cake and/or caramel popcorn for two able and willing participants, at the intervals of their choosing. Sugar powered wordsmiths! Meanwhile, go and read all about To Hell With Publishing. Admire their chutzpah, their drive and their brilliant determination to get back to basics and the bones of a good story. Bottom line bedamned, and best of luck to them. (I don’t doubt they’ve actually able to be profitable actually – they’re just playing the game differently.)