To write a novel, don’t write a short story instead!

 

This month, I have mostly been side-tracked by the Commonwealth Writers Short Story Prize, which is a huge international competition that I’ve entered for the past couple of years.

Normally, I’ve had a story that I can refresh for this, and send off without too much fuss. But this year I had nothing. At the beginning of the month, I decided to write a new story for the 1 November deadline.

I sat with my pen in my hand, and an 82 year old woman who lives in a caravan, and who’s been in my head for a few months (I thought she might be a novel, at first), fought herself onto the page. And then a 16 year old boy walked past her van and they started talking.

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Celebrating the first draft…

I’m now editing. I have little notes, as I always do, littering the page that say More Here, and I’m trying really hard to describe the sound of helicopter rotor blades.

Scarily, it doesn’t have a title, yet. On the whole, the title comes first for me, and the story wraps itself into it. Because my octogenarian came first, the title was overlooked. And now I’m floundering a little. What if it never comes? What if I have to send it off with the title ‘Story’?

Deep breath, eat chocolate… ahh, that’s better.

By November, I’ll be back on my novel, which will at that point be officially not a novel in a year, because it began life during last year’s National Novel Writing Month… Where’s that chocolate?


 

Congratulations to George Saunders who has won this year’s Man Booker Prize, with his first full length novel, Lincoln in the Bardo. See, short story writers are awesome!

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Just a quick update, while I wait…

It’s been almost four weeks since I finished my novel and sent it to my beta readers. I’ve had one come back, and one giving intriguing updates. As hard as it is, I haven’t looked at those first comments, and I haven’t opened the ms at all in that time. I’m quite proud of myself for giving it so much space… and a little terrified at what I might find when I look at it again.

In the meantime, #1 son did this…

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… and, to be honest, I found it a bit of a struggle on the day. But I’m over it now, and looking forward to watching the next stage of his life unfold.

I planned to write some brand new short stories this summer, but in fact I refreshed a couple and sent them off to competitions, and I have another couple to work through to do the same with. Every time I tried to write something new, nothing happened – my pen froze above the page and refused to make contact.

On Saturday morning, however, very early and after my second mug of tea, I managed to write a new character. I have no idea where the story is going, but I’ve been doing some pretty interesting research into premonitions and Count St Germain, neither of which may go anywhere, but it’s been really interesting and a little chilling.

I haven’t managed as much cake or chocolate as I planned, but there’s still a few more weeks of August left!

Where Words Fail, Music Speaks

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Two lovely author friends – Kyra Lennon and Clare Dugmore – are editing an anthology, Where Words Fail, Music Speaks, in aid of research into cluster headaches, a debilitating condition suffered by more people than you’d think. Kyra knows at least a couple of people who suffer which inspired her to create the anthology.

And one my of stories is going to be included!

The cover reveal is scheduled for 14 March, and we would be so grateful if you are able to share it on your blog/website. The sign up form is right here!

Thank you!

 

 

My nemesis and I…

January! Argh! Can anyone think of a worse month? It’s dull, boring, dreary, and so dark in the mornings. It taunts me, it hates me. And somehow, those 31 days seem to blossom into 64!

But, recently, I’ve been thinking about it more objectively. How many times have you wished you had more hours in a day, more days in a week or a month…? I actually have those extra days, this month. I have 64 of them.

So instead of wishing the month over, I’m going to embrace it. My plans for this year are:

  1. Writing a short story for an anthology
  2. Writing a second draft of a novel
  3. Re-writing a novella and stripping it back to the story I really want to tell.

I should be able to do all that, now that I have an extra month, surely?

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When outside looks like this, I really should be inside with a hot chocolate and all the left-over Christmas goodies.

What’s your favourite and worst thing about January?