Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Blogging to Schedule.

Following the crazy month that was the A to Z challenge, where I aimed to write every day other than Sundays and complete each post to compliment the next alphabetic letter I began thinking of where I would go from here with the blog. 

One of my thoughts is regarding whether I should make the blog more formal and have a schedule for the days of the week when I would definitely be putting a blog post out. 

The pro for this is people would know when the posts would be up and makes the whole blogging platform look that much more organised and professional. 

The con is that sometimes life gets in the way. In fact its got a bloody awful habit of getting in the way. I'd hate to announce that a schedule was going to start running and then miss one of the days it's supposed to be on. That would definitely defeat the object of organised and professional. 

What are your thoughts? What would you like to see from this blog in terms of a fixed schedule or my usual posting as and when I can manage it? 

If the consensus is for a schedule, I would do my best to write the posts in advance and have them scheduled to go out for the correct days. 

Let me know your thoughts on the concept. I'd probably look at doing three scheduled posts a week on set days and the odd one thrown in if something occurred out of the blue I felt I needed to tell you about. 

What do you think? 

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Ehlers Danlos Syndrome Diagnosis

Wednesday 18th May 2011, 09.00 am. Waiting room in the genetics clinic with my little boy, specifically the Ehlers Danlos Syndrome diagnostic clinic. A date that I will always remember. It was early. There was one other person in the waiting area. It turned out he was a Doctor. Didn't seem to know where he was going, so I presumed he was a locum. Not ours though. Little man and I saw the specialist along with the genetic counsellor.

For the past year following a tentative diagnosis of EDS by little mans paediatric consultant I've been adamant that it also answered a lot of questions in relation to my own health issues as well as his.

Wednesday 18th May I had that confirmed. I was given the official diagnosis of Hypermobile Ehlers Danlos Syndrome and little man has inherited this from me.

Ironically enough, May is Ehlers Danlos awareness month, so I can tell you a little about this syndrome and what it means to my little man and I.

Ehlers Danlos is a connective tissue disorder where your body creates defective collagen.

Collagen is required for every part of your body, internally and externally. Depending on the defective part of the gene depends on the type of syndrome you have and how you will be effected.

For me, I have generalised hypermobilty. My joints stretch more than they should. Therefore in return, my joints hurt more than they should. My body generally hurts from trying to hold itself together. The two other main symptoms that I struggle with are; fatigue and migraines. Other than those three things, there are a multitude of things to cope with but they are bearable.

Between us we have been referred to three different hospitals for further tests and support. We have to have our hearts tested, we both have to see a rhuematologist and I have to have a tilt table test for symptoms that could suggest Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome.

It's a strange feeling having the diagnosis. It's one thing to think you have it, but another altogether to be told you definitely do have it. It's going to take some adjusting to but I know we can do it.

You will find further information on Ehlers Danlos syndrome on the UK Ehlers Danlos Support Group and the US Ehlers Danlos National Foundation 

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Author Interview - Vanessa Lafaye

Today's post is an interview with author Vanessa Lafaye. I'm absolutely thrilled to welcome her to Life in Clarity.

Thank you for agreeing to this interview Vanessa. I have read one of your stories on the ether books app, An Eye for an Eye and I have to say, I absolutely loved it. As well as short stories on the ether
books app, where else can we find your work?

So glad that you enjoyed the story. It was based on the life of an amazing 90 year-old woman who I met on a long plane flight. I added the violence and some other elements, but a lot of it is based on fact. She was typical of women who gained some independence during WWII, with the men away, and found life very difficult when they came back. I hadn't written a period piece before, but it was an interesting exercise, having to make the dialogue historically authentic, and avoid modern expressions. That's what I love so much about writing short stories - the author can explore an infinite variety of settings, characters, genres, and periods. Having
written novels previously (which are with my hard-working but so far unsuccessful agent), it was so liberating to write stories. I've done a fair bit of journalism, which can be found on the Guardian and Times websites, but my life took a strange turn 2 years ago when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, having already written a novel where all the characters have the disease (based on a friend's experience). I lost the ability to write anything at all, for about 18 months, during my treatment and after. Although I owed my agent another novel, I couldn't face it, it was too much. Writing stories got me back into it, and only last weekend I wrote the first chapter of a new novel.

I'm so sorry to hear about your diagnosis Vanessa. Its strange how life imitates art at times. I can only imagine how difficult that time was for you. Can I ask how you're doing now?

I'm fine now, thanks for asking. Treatment finished a year ago and while I couldn't write, I trained as a choir leader, which I really love.

It's great to hear you are writing again. What's the premise of the new novel?

My new novel is going to be a series of interwoven stories inspired by items for sale in classified ads. I love reading classified ads, all of life is there. I used to wonder about the stories behind the items and just decided to build a book around a collection of them. The first is a Moses basket, used once, with one torn corner.

That sounds a wonderful idea for a book. Everyday things can be the centre of so many memories. I'd love to hear how you get on with that. Do you class yourself as a full time writer or something you do as and when you get chance?

I'm not even a half-time writer! I work for a publisher which is fairly demanding, although I work from home half the time. Sometimes I'll book time off work to concentrate on writing, but usually it's a case of fitting it in. I'm a very badly behaved writer. I don’t have a routine, I can’t write every day. I used to think that I needed a good chunk of time, several hours at least, to do any serious writing, but that was really a delaying tactic, as in, 'I'll just see if the roof needs re-felting, then if there's time, I'll write.' Eventually I realised that I needed to grab whatever I could, 20 minutes, half an hour, or I would never make progress. It can be hard to change gears so much, but possible with enough determination.

Where is your writing space - and can we have a photograph?

This is tricky for me, as I like to wander around the house with my laptop to write, sometimes in the dining room, or the living room, or in bed. I have a desk but I use it to do my job, so it's nice to move to a different location to write.

How difficult was it getting an agent and what advice would you give writers who are querying agents now? That's something I'm sure will interest a lot of readers.

I wish I had a special trick to pass on, but I just followed the protocol: got my manuscript into the best shape possible (with the help of a professional editorial advice service), and sent my query letter with 1 chapter and a 1-page synopsis to all the agents who could possibly be appropriate for my style of book (commercial women's fiction). I emphasised my journalism and publishing experience, and informed them that I had sought professional help with polishing the manuscript. I got a batch of rejections straight away, and no reply from a bunch of others. Then, miracle of miracles, Tina Betts of Andrew Mann wrote that she liked the first chapter and could I please send the rest. I fell off my chair.

When you're not writing what do you like to do in your spare time?

During the time when I couldn't write, after my treatment, I trained as a choir leader and now run a community choir where I live. I’ve sung in groups for years but have no musical education, so it's been a big learning curve. It's extremely creative, using a different part of my brain. And it's immensely satisfying to see the members enjoying themselves - not to mention the oodles of material to be found there! A choir will definitely find its way into a story or book at some point. And I like photography, especially underwater. My perfect life would be part writing, part music,
with regular diving trips.

What genre do you love to read?

I have favourite authors rather than genres: Pat Barker, Douglas Coupland, Kate Atkinson, John Irving, Carl Hiassen, Louis de Bernières, David Sedaris, Alice Hoffman. I like the idea that there could be extraordinary things happening all around us, which we fail to notice. My stories sometimes have that dimension, starting off with an apparently mundane setting and characters, and then comes something totally unexpected. In fact, the whole reason I started writing short stories was a bit spooky. I had a dream that I bought a sandwich from a shop and found a short story tucked inside the packaging, just the right length for reading over lunch. The next day, I wrote my first 'Sandwich Story', which was small, dark and twisted, very different from the novel I had just finished. I wrote 10 more quickly, then put them in a drawer because my agent wasn’t interested. Thanks to Ether, they’re out of the drawer.

If a film was to be made of your life who would you like to play you?

The actress who plays Roz on Frasier

Thank you so much for taking the time for the interview. I've enjoyed having you here.

Thank you, Rebecca, it’s been a pleasure.

You can find Vanessa at the following places;

Malborough Community Choir
Singing for Wellbeing

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Writing Space

I'm currently halfway through my first draft and have set myself a target of completing it by mid July - with the help of the 80k in 80 days challenge. 

My problem with staying on target is, I don't have a proper writing space. I have a very narrow computer table downstairs that is not much wider than the keyboard that graces it so is hopeless for my need to spread out multiple notebooks. This computer is also shared by the family which isn't ideal if I decide creativity is kicking in as my little boy is sat using it. 

I tend to use my laptop but find the best place to use it is on my bed so I can spread out all my notes. As you can imagine, this isn't an ideal working space so I've decided that if I plan on sticking to the time scales I have set myself, I need a real writing space. A space that is mine where I can put notebooks, pencils and writing magazines in proper places and I can work in relative peace. 

We have a spare bedroom, but as with most spare bedrooms it is filled with "stuff". Stuff I'm sure can be found homes elsewhere, even if that new home is the bin.

I've ordered a desk from Ikea which is being delivered on Saturday. I just need to clear out our much needed (rolls eyes) worldly possessions, get myself a comfortable chair, at which point I will be all set and raring to go. 

With a desk, a chair and space to work I will positively steam through the rest of this first draft. (that's the plan anyway!) And I can't wait.

Where is your writing space and what makes you more productive? 

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Rapture and Regret

I've had a long tiring week, so haven't really got a blog post prepared for today but a thought did come to me while tweeting this morning. According to some Christian leader in the United States, the world was supposed to end today. The given time for this world ending event called Rapture has now passed. My thought though, is this;

If you had one regret of something you didn't do in life at this exact moment in time, what would it be? And why haven't you done or started it?

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Book Review - Blacklands

Today I'm reviewing the book, Blacklands by Debut Dagger winning author, Belinda Bauer.

Goodreads blurb

EIGHTEEN YEARS AGO, Billy Peters disappeared. Everyone in town believes Billy was murdered—after all, serial killer Arnold Avery later admitted killing six other children and burying them on the same desolate moor that surrounds their small English village. Only Billy’s mother is convinced he is alive. She still stands lonely guard at the front window of her home, waiting for her son to return, while her remaining family fragments around her.

But her twelve-year-old grandson Steven is determined to heal the cracks that gape between his nan, his mother, his brother, and himself. Steven desperately wants to bring his family closure, and if that means personally finding his uncle’s corpse, he’ll do it.

Spending his spare time digging holes all over the moor in the hope of turning up a body is a long shot, but at least it gives his life purpose.

Then at school, when the lesson turns to letter writing, Steven has a flash of inspiration . . . Careful to hide his identity, he secretly pens a letter to Avery in jail asking for help in finding the body of "W.P."—William "Billy" Peters.

So begins a dangerous cat-and-mouse game.

Just as Steven tries to use Avery to pinpoint the gravesite, so Avery misdirects and teases his mysterious correspondent in order to relive his heinous crimes. And when Avery finally realizes that the letters he’s receiving are from a twelve-year-old boy, suddenly his life has purpose too.

Although his is far more dangerous . . .

Blacklands is a taut and chillingly brilliant debut that signals the arrival of a bright new voice in psychological suspense.


This book won the coveted Crime Writers Association Debut Dagger award in 2010 and Belinda Bauer had her first novel published. Blacklands is the result. It's not a crime novel as you may expect it to be. There's no cops chasing bad guys. It's a more settled pace, exploratory of relationships carved through the horrifying circumstance of the murder of a child.

Blacklands explores the fractured lives of those left behind and in particular, a child living with the remnants of the past. The poor economic standard of the family has a dark seventies feel about it and this is added to with vivid descriptions of the openness and danger of the local moors.

The unexpected twist is the connection made between child killer and child. It's not fast and thrill a minute but it is well written and slightly dark. If that sounds like your kind of book then I'd say definitely pick it up.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

New Release - Book Giveaway

To celebrate the launch of her latest urban fantasy novel, Blood Faerie, author India Drummond will give away five Kindle copies of her book on its release day, June 1, 2011.

Blood Faerie is the first in India Drummond’s new series, Caledonia Fae.

The blurb:

Unjustly sentenced to death, Eilidh ran—away from faerie lands, to the streets of Perth, Scotland. Just when she has grown accustomed to exile, local police discover a mutilated body outside the abandoned church where she lives. Recognising the murder as the work of one of her own kind, Eilidh must choose: flee, or learn to tap into the forbidden magic that cost her everything.
To enter to win a Kindle copy of the new book, all you have to do is sign up for her email newsletter. The email list is only used to announce book releases and important events, and emails are sent out infrequently. (It’s free, and it’s easy to unsubscribe after the contest date if you find it’s not for you.) Sign up here.

Five winners’ names will be announced on the India Drummond newsletter on June 1st, along with instructions for how winners can claim their free Kindle books. Only subscribers are eligible to win.

No Kindle? No problem! Anyone with a PC, Mac, or smart-device (iPhone, Blackberry, Android phone, etc) can read a Kindle book. Download free reading software here 

Want to quadruple your chances of winning? Simply tweet about the contest with a link to any participating blog post and include @IndiaDrummond in your tweet. Or, share the link on Facebook. (But be sure to add @India Drummond to tag her on the link so she will see it! – You can add her to your friend list here  And finally, add another entry to the list by posting about the contest on your blog.-- Tweet and share the link as much as you like, but only one additional entry per method, per person.

Good luck, everyone!

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Hospital Appointment

So let me tell you where we are in the process of the nhs deciding if my little man and I have Ehlers Danlos Syndrome 

In March I saw the consultant rheumatologist who stated he was unable to diagnose me as that was the role of the geneticist, but he said I scored a five on the beighton test which is a test of flexibility and a five or over puts you in the EDS camp. He referred me. 

Last month my little man saw his consultant paediatrician who originally came up with the EDS diagnosis last April. He again said little man is far too stetchy and states he thinks it's EDS. Another referral made. 

Quite surprisingly the EDS clinic have married up these two referrals and we have a joint appointment next Wednesday. I'm now anxious about it. 

Little man has twice been told he has EDS. A haematologist also suggested it was a collagen issue causing his capillaries to leak. My pain and exhaustion issues have gradually been getting worse over the last couple of years and my sister has similar and other issues. Having done my own research, listening to other consultants and discussing things with diagnosed EDS sufferers I am certain this is the issue but I'm worried we will be brushed off as we have been in the past simply because our bendyness abilities aren't in the extreme. 

On Wednesday I will be unhappy if its diagnosed and unhappy if they don't. Wednesday is pretty much going to be a crappy day. 

Friday, 13 May 2011

The Debut Dagger and Rejection

In February I entered the Crime Writers Association
debut dagger competition. The competition required you to send in the first 3,000 words of your novel and a synopsis.

I had more than 3,000 words already down, so thought, yes, I can do that. I spent an incredible amount of time editing, having not realised what the editing process would be like and practically rewrote every sentence.

I sat and completed pages of character sheets and wrote the synopsis, happy that I knew the people living in it and where they would be going. I knew that after only starting writing in October 2010 it was against the odds that I would come anywhere near obtaining this coveted prize, but you know how you get in your own little writing world. This book is great! I held an inner hope.

Yesterday that hope was crushed as I read on the website that the shortlisted entrants have been notified by post. I haven't received any post. So, it's either got lost (that's a Possibilty right?) or they didn't shortlist me.

I am surprised to hear myself saying this but I'm actually a little hurt. A serious rejection, without a rejection letter. My work wasn't good enough, not polished enough or just a rubbish idea.

I'm in the middle of my work in progress at the minute and I'm already struggling with feelings of uselessness. Feelings that whatever I create is just a great idea and a great plot in my own deluded head and no one in their right mind is ever going to want to take it on and take it out there to eager readers. I've read on blogs that writing the middle section of the novel is the difficult bit but I took that information with a pinch of salt. Now that salt is burning the back of my throat and I can't swallow because I just failed at the debut dagger.

I failed. I'm useless. I have to try and find it within myself to get back on the keyboard and ride it again.

I know this feeling will pass but it's a strange place to be sitting, only halfway through the novel, knowing I have so much work left to do, yet not knowing if my work will ever make it.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Author Interview - Talli Roland

Today's blog post is an interview with the author of The Hating Game, Talli Roland.

Welcome to Life in Clarity Talli and thank you for popping by to answer a few questions.
I believe that The Hating Game was your first mainstream novel but not your first step in the published world. Tell me who Talli Roland was before she was Talli, what did you write? and why did you create Talli?

The Hating Game is my first novel, but I have two other non-fiction books published: 24 Hours London and 24 Hours Paris, hour-by-hour travel guides. They’re under my real name, Marsha Moore. Since I’m with the same publisher (Prospera Publishing) for both my fiction and non-fiction, they asked if I’d think about writing under a different name, to differentiate the two. I’ve always wanted the chance to choose my name, so I agreed! Roland is my mum’s maiden name. For my first name, I wanted something fun and a bit sassy – and that, when you Googled it, wouldn’t come back with a zillion results. Talli Roland it was!

Thanks Talli. I love the name! I'm sure half of us had wished we could choose our own name from the start of life!

Where did the idea for The Hating Game come about and how did it grow?

Dare I admit my inspiration came from reality TV andThe Daily Mail? I’ve always been fascinated by what happens behind the scenes of ‘reality TV’ and whether editors manipulate the audience towards certain voting outcomes. So, I asked myself: what would happen if you put one highly ambitious, tough woman desperate for money on a show run by a team of producers whose only interest is getting the highest ratings possible – and The Hating Game was born!

There is a lot of talk in the blogosphere of building a writers platform. I'm a follower of your blog and love it. How long have you been blogging and having just experienced blogging and releasing a novel what are your thoughts on how social media impacts on the release of a novel?

Thank you for following my blog! I’ve been blogging as Talli Roland for just over year, but I also had another blog under my real name (it’s currently on hiatus). Blogging is such a big part of my writing life – it provides invaluable information but, more importantly, has enabled me to meet lots of friendly, supportive writers. Having a blog has definitely helped me spread the word about. The Hating Game– for the release of my ebook, I organized a Web Splash and had over 400 bloggers signed up to post about my book on release day. But I have to stress that blogging is an interactive thing. To really get the most out of it, you need to visit other blogs and comment, too.

I absolutely love blogging and meeting people with similar interests, especially when you're working alone as a writer. Who would you say inspired you to keep going when you start to lose ground?

Guilt! Whenever I feel my motivation flagging – which, to be honest, is quite often – I tell myself I have the opportunity right now to do something I really love, and I shouldn’t waste that chance. So… get on with it!

The Hating Game is a great book and I'm looking forward to your next novel. Can I ask what you're working on at the minute?

Thank you! I’m working on Watching Willow Watts, the story of a small-town girl who is catapulted to stardom when a YouTube video of her one-off Marilyn Monroe impersonation gets millions of hits. Instantly, Willow’s small English village is overrun with fans flocking to see the ‘new Marilyn’. Egged on by the villagers — whose shops and businesses are cashing in — Willow decides to embrace her new identity, dying her hair platinum and ramming herself full of cakes to achieve Marilyn’s legendary curves. But when a former flame returns seeking the old Willow, Willow must decide: can she risk her stardom and her village’s new-found fortune on love, or is being Marilyn her ticket to happiness? The novel is due out in November from Prospera Publishing.

When you're not writing, what genres do you like to read?

I love chick lit – reading authors like Sophie Kinsella really turned me on to the genre – but I have a real soft spot for non-fiction. I guess it’s because reading fiction when I’m in the throes of writing stresses me out. I’m constantly comparing myself! With non-fiction, I can relax and enjoy it. I’m a big fan of travelogues.

Where's your writing space that you find you can be most creative in and what does it look like? (can we have a photo?!)

I love my office. I have a large corner desk overlooking a busy London street, where I can watch the buses zooming by and see all the local crazies (amazingly, there are quite a few, including a man who runs down the street each day, bellowing at the top of his lungs). The office itself is quite bland, but I like that. I have enough going on in my head!

If you weren't a writer what would your dream occupation be?

I know it sounds horribly clichéd, but I really can’t think of anything else I’d rather do. Writing is my dream occupation – I should know; I’ve certainly had enough of them!

If you meet someone, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

I would love to meet my ancestors (originally from Manchester) who decided to emigrate to the New World, and ask them how they felt about me reversing the trend!

Thank you Talli for such a great interview and for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk to us. I'm looking forward to reading more from you.

You can find Talli at the following places;

Friday, 6 May 2011

Guest Post - Querying

Today's post has kindly been written by Patti Larsen. Patti is a writer and independent filmmaker on the East Coast of Canada. She has a passion for Young Adult and Middle Grade fiction that drives her to write full time and sometimes even through the night. Her YA novel Fresco (Etopia Press) is due for release this summer and her Middle Grade novel (Acorn Press) is due for publication Spring 2012. You can find Patti all over the Internet (at least it feels that way to her):

It’s Nothing Personal

I tried my hand at querying for the first time when I was in my fresh-faced twenties, all innocence and naiveté. I had a fantasy novel I was certain was The One every publisher would just die for. Knowing nothing and without much in the way of internet support on the ins and outs of the process, I managed to pull together a list of agents and dutifully sent off my letters to them.

Needless to say, I was crushed. Absolutely shattered. Not one nibble. Only endless rejection. And it did me in for years. In fact, until my early thirties. I kid you not.

The second time I was no wiser. In fact by that point I had internet access to lots of information, but did I do my homework? Not so much. Instead, I set myself up yet again for heartbreak and the conviction that I would never, ever, be a published author.


Worse, I came to believe agents and publishers were heartless jerks who not only didn’t recognize great talent when they read it but neither did they care one little bit about writers. I took every single ‘not what we’re looking for’ to heart and quit with the taste of defeat in my mouth.

This time, I stopped writing all together. That’s how horrible I felt about myself and my work. And no amount of encouragement from my friends and family could convince me otherwise. I was a deluded failure.

Fast forward to two years ago (um… late thirties, let’s leave it at that). I simply couldn’t shut off the compulsion forever. The agony of defeat faded to a soft memory. Inevitably, I started writing again. My new novel was my first stab at Young Adult. Nervous, I shared it with people around me because I loved it. To my delight, everyone who read it loved it. And I knew it was time to try again.

It’s amazing what time can do to help you forget the pain.

This time I was smart. I did my homework. Read up on the process. Researched agents rather than randomly sending out to whomever I could find. Got betas to read and critique my book. Did my proofreading. Wrote and rewrote my query until it shone like a sparkling star. Then, I slowly and carefully built a list of agents who not only represent what I write but whose philosophies and character I admired.

Breath bated, I copied and pasted my queries and hit send.

For the first time ever, I got nibbles. Then bites. And while that book has yet to sell, the encouragement I felt from the attention was groundbreaking. I kept writing, new books, new series, and I kept querying. Now, every time I tackle the job, I refine my process even further. I have my favorite agents (who may or may not be sick of seeing my name attached to yet another book and yet another query email), as well as a secondary and tertiary list. I’m organized. I have a spreadsheet. Imagine.

Do the no’s hurt? They did at first. I suffered from the excited pitter-pat of full manuscript request and the plunging stomach when a bite turned into a no. Still, I managed to work it out so I wasn’t so emotionally attached.

My most recent attempt means the most to me because I’ve committed myself to writing for a living. Which means I have to sell something. So, rather than treat personally, I’ve instead chosen to look at it like a business. While the writing of the books is still intimately creative, the process of finding an agent and a publisher has turned into work. It’s actually made it easier to hear the rejections; first because I want to be sure whomever I partner with loves my writing as much as I do. I don’t want to be attached to someone who is only half-hearted. And second, because it’s not so much about my books anymore as it is about my job. It makes the no’s less personal and more professional.

Which, by the way, is exactly the truth. It’s just business, folks. Nothing against my work or anyone else’s. And I’ve accepted that at last. It’s pretty liberating.

I’m still seeking the right agent, the one who understands my vision. The sting of ‘no thanks’ doesn’t really bother me anymore. In fact, I’m so used to it I think a ‘yes’ will take a while to process. The biggest difference this time is that I refuse to quit. Refuse. I know that I’m a great writer. Two publishers agree with me. But I have plans for world literary domination and I can’t do that without an agent.

You can find Patti in the following places;

Thank you Patti for your time and your insight into the world of querying. I wish you all the luck in the world with it. 

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

May - You Write Your Novel

OK, so now the A - Z blog challenge is out of the way and I don't have to post daily or wrack my brains for alphabet related posts you'd think I'd take a step back, have a breather, gather my thoughts and see what I have and what needs to be done. Ha! You thought wrong. Or maybe I'm thinking wrong. That's always up for debate.

No, Instead of putting my feet up for a couple of weeks I'm now rushing headlong into another challenge. The, May - you write your novel challenge. It's a challenge that starts in May where we have 80 days to write 80,000 words and hopefully complete a novel. You will find Quillers, the creator of this challenge over at the May - you write your novel, blog.

It seems like a good idea. I was trundling along at my own pace with my novel and this looks like a great opportunity to give myself a kick up the backside. I was about 28,000 words in when it started a couple of days ago. 80,000 words in 80 days is obviously equivalent to 1,000 words a day. That may seem like a reasonable figure, but actually finding time and energy to sit down and create isn't always an easy task. I get tired through the week. Throwing most of my low reserves of energy into work because that's what pays the bills. So coming home and putting on my creative head isn't always what I want to do.

I am going to give this a bash though. By the end of the challenge I should have completed my first draft. I can't wait for that point. To see I have a story from beginning to end and including a middle! I know I will have a lot of work from there on in, but the novel will be there. The bare bones. A full manuscript to work with.

Will I make this challenge? I don't know. I love writing. I love the novel and the characters within that novel but I'm not sure I have that pace in me. Even if it's not completed by then it will be well on it way so it's worth attempting. I will try to let you know how I'm getting on with it as time progresses.

Is anyone joining me? If you write, at what pace do you manage it?

Sunday, 1 May 2011

X Y Z and Reflections

Today is the first of May and a post of reflection on the April A to Z blog challenge hosted by Arlee at Tossing it Out. You can find the blog award over at Elizabeth Muellers blog, so go get yourself one!

The challenge was supposed to be a post for every letter of the alphabet during the month of April. As you can see, I very very nearly completed it, posting right up to the end of the month in an effort to complete the challenge, but failing by just three letters X,Y and Z.

The reason for the failure was life. It comes at the most inopportune moments. Family members hospitalised and my own general feelings of ill health on some of the days. Taking these things into consideration I don't think I did badly.

I usually post about 14 posts a month  which equates to approximately 3 and a bit a week. I found the challenge...challenging. Surprisingly. Advice given prior to the start was to make some posts in advance and while I did this, I still didn't have the time to participate daily. The challenge isn't just about making posts. I mean, why write them if no-one is going to read them? To get the most out of the challenge you needed to visit fellow A to Z-ers and comment on blogs, find new blogs that interest you and interact with them. This in itself was time consuming. So, even if you managed to write up some posts in advance, it's not the end of the story.

Did I enjoy the challenge? Absolutely yes. I found some great new blogs to follow. I raised my own follower count and I found that I do have a blogging voice within me. I have something to say and people are actually interested in that. I may not have visited all 1200 blogs listed as participating but I did visit and follow new blogs. I may not have made all 26 posts, but I made 23. I am happy with that.

Will I do it again? Absolutely yes. I loved it. I have found a new passion for blogging and fully intend to continue following old and new blogs. It's given me a new feel for blogging and I now have to assess my blog and look at what I need to be doing to keep it active. Blogging is all about the interaction, not just about getting your own thoughts out and what better way than to interact than with a whole group of people who want exactly the same thing. To communicate with fellow bloggers.

What were your thoughts on the challenge, either as a participant or a reader?

To add your A-Z reflection post, please visit Arlee's blog where you will find the linky.