7 Things I’d Like To Do

7 Things I'd Like To do

This is not a ‘Should Do’ list, it’s not a ‘Need To Do’ list, it’s not even a ‘To Do’ list. It’s an ‘I’d Like To Do’ list. There is a difference. A huge difference, I’m sure you’ll agree.

As I write, and as you read my list, I invite you to start one of your own. There are probably lots of things you’d like to find time to do too. Maybe mine will prompt you to think about them and do what I intend to do, which is, having listed them, I’m hoping to prioritise them – not making the top priority the thing that should be done, but making it the thing I want most to do. For me, that means the thing that will be most fun.  For you, that may mean the thing that will be most productive, most cost effective, most efficient, most useful. You decide your priority. Mine is always fun-related in this sphere.

The method I plan to use to decide priority will be to ask myself questions. Please feel free to adapt those questions to similar ones that will be useful to you.

I’m writing things in the order they come to mind, so my list is bound to change in priority as I write. Yours probably will too.

As a writer, my list is about writing-related activities. Yours might be about something else. Your gardening activities, artistic endeavours, cooking projects, craft projects, whatever. What I invite you to do is to think about projects related to your work or hobby that you haven’t been getting around to doing but you’ve been thinking you’d like to try sometime.

So here goes:

Number One: The project that triggered this whole chain of thought.

I downloaded Scrivener ages ago, but have never taken the time to learn how to use it. For those of you unfamiliar with Scrivener, it is designed to make a writer’s work easier, to keep research, notes, ideas, notions, and drafts of work all in one place and easily accessible – once you know how to use it. By all accounts, it is not particularly simple to learn.

So, am I willing to take time out from other projects to become familiar with the program? Will the time spent doing that be offset by the time saved later? Since the way I write now is comfortable, how much discomfort am I willing to endure to reap any presumed benefits from the program?

The answers lead me to think, ‘No.’ At the moment, although at the top, Scrivener is going to the bottom of my list. It could be rescued by your comments and observations on the subject, should you choose to share your experiences with the program.

Number Two: There is a menu bar that runs along the top of this blog, with different categories for my writing, crafting and other exploits. It has been far too long since I updated any of the categories there. Far too long, and I’d love to take the time to do that updating.

Why have I not kept it updated as I needed to? Too late to worry about the answer to that question now. I try not to think in terms of ‘should haves’. It will now be time-consuming to do the updating. Am I willing to take that time out from other projects?

Yes, I do believe I am, but not as a high priority. I think I’ll slip it just above Scrivener.

Number Three: I wrote a series of invitation blogposts a few years ago. It was about Food in Fiction. I also wrote a series about Music in Fiction. I would like to develop them into a series of ebooks to share on Amazon Kindle.

Am I willing to give them research time to enrich and complete them? Am I willing to take time out from my other projects?

Again, the answer is, ‘Yes.’ Higher priority than the menu project.

Number Four: NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is fast approaching. I love participating: love the discipline of pushing myself to write 50,000 words in the month of November, the first draft of a brand new novel. That means taking time in October to decide on a project, do any necessary research, plot and plan the novel and be prepared to write like a steam train through November.

Am I willing to set aside that time for the next two months? Can I be at a stage with my present WIP where I will not mind putting it aside for November? Will I be willing to put the other projects on this list aside for that time too?

The answer is, ‘Yes.’ And because of it’s time-sensitivity, NaNoWriMo has to move into first place – for the moment.

Number Five: I’d like to write another in my Reluctant Detective Series. I love writing about Mirabelle and her friends and family. I already have a few half written Mirabelle stories that spring from the series so it would be a good idea to get to work on them and finish them – one at a time, of course 🙂

The completing of the unfinished stories will slot in nicely to number three, behind NaNo, the ‘in Fiction’ series, but ahead of ‘menu update’ – with the proviso that I might bump a new Mirabelle story up as joint Number One if I decide to write one for my NaNo novel.

Number Six: My present WIP, working title Makeshift Memories. I’ve almost completed the third, or is it the fourth draft of this novel. It’s been a challenging but a fun one. This is the first time I’ve written anything with a historical strand running through it. It has required heaps of research and a lot of editing, but I do believe I’m on the home straight.

Am I happy to put all other projects aside in order to get this draft completed before NaNoWriMo – without rushing the process and thereby not doing it justice?

The answer is not a difficult one. It’s a resounding, ‘YES!’  If I can stick in with it for a few more weeks, it will be ready to send off for a second round of beta reads, then I can give it a final edit during December and hopefully publish it in the new year. 🙂 So that one has to go top of the list, at least until November, when the time-sensitivity issue arises for NaNoWriMo. Interestingly, Makeshift Memories  was my NaNoWriMo novel for November 2017.

Gold Plated, my latest release, was my NaNo novel in 2016 and is now available both as paperback and ebook here. It hasn’t been out terribly long, yet already it’s garnering some lovely reviews and comments. Makes my heart sing when I know I’ve written something that brings other people pleasure.

And Number Seven: Blogposts, FaceBook posts and other Social Media posts. These not only play a necessary part in promoting and marketing my novels, they are also FUN! And, as I said at the outset, my criteria for prioritising is FUN.

I enjoy writing blogposts here, love posting in my Facebook group here, my Instagram account here, and following others on Social Media.

How much time am I happy to spend doing these things? Can I cut the time I browse just for entertainment? Can I ignore the distractions and maximise the use of my time on Social Media in order to make good progress with all my other projects?

This is a more difficult answer, a more difficult one to prioritise. It’s a ‘Yes,’ and a ‘No.’ It has to be high on my list because it’s fun, and it doesn’t require as much time and energy as the other projects on my list. But can I stop being distracted by interesting and fun posts while I’m on Social Media? No. And why would I want to be? It’s fun. I could cut down on distraction and browsing time, I suppose, but realistically, knowing who I’m talking about here – me – time will be happily spent there, not always productively, but hey! why do I do any of these projects if not for pleasure?

So my decision is to take this one off the list altogether and run it alongside all the others on a day to day basis.

So how does my list look now? Well, for starters, it’s now a list of six, instead of seven 🙂

1. WIP, Makeshift Memories, first until November when

2. NaNoWriMo will take over pole position.

3. The ‘in Fiction’ books

4. New Mirabelle books – with the proviso if I start a new one, it goes to 1. in November

5. Menu bar

6. Scrivener

How does your list look? Has the order of yours changed from how they came into your head? How happy are you with the prioritising of your list?

In fact, what I’m going to aim to do is a little of this and a little of that, working in order of priority in that I’ll make sure the ones high on my list receive most of my writing time. Believe it or not, I do have other fun things I take time for 🙂

I’d love to hear what your list is about, how you feel about it now you’ve examined it with a view to prioritising the items, and how you plan to implement it. If you need any help with the exercise, do let me know and I’d be happy to be your sounding board.

If you’re looking for an enjoyable read, all my books are available in paperback and ebook format here.

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Oh, and please don’t be put off by Amazon telling you the paperback is out of stock. Of course it’s out of stock – it’s Print on Demand. Amazon never keep a stock of any POD books. Click to buy it and they order a print copy. That’s the process they always use.

Don’t forget to have fun with your list.

I wonder how many Things You Would Like To Do.

~~~

 

Oops, I’ve done it again!

In August, I wrote about Tunnel Vision, about emerging from a tunnel and seeing all the things that had been hidden from view. If you read the post before or if you have followed the link and have just read it, you will know that I was talking about how engrossed I get when writing a new novel.

Well, I’ve done it again!

I couldn’t resist taking part in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in November. Once again, that meant writing a new novel – well, the first draft of one, anyway. The target is to write 50,000 words in the month of November, a daily average of 1,667 words for thirty days. ‘Since I’ve managed to adopt the habit of writing every day since February, how hard could it be?’ I asked myself. The answer? Only as hard as I make it. So I decided to plan this new novel out and get to know my characters pretty well before I embarked on the actual writing on November 1st. That really helped. Throughout the month, I was never lost. I always knew where my story was headed – or I thought I did.

Right at the end of the month, my main character seemed to develop a mind of her own and she decided to take me in another direction. I guess she didn’t like the ending I’d planned, and in one pivotal conversation with another character, the story swung off my carefully plotted route.

Now, remembering I’m already in that tunnel, already have tunnel vision, but the pinpoint of light at the end of the tunnel has been growing bigger and brighter for days. Suddenly, the light felt like an oncoming vehicle instead of the way out of the tunnel. Could I avoid crashing? Would this be the end of the road for my novel?

Don’t be silly. Of course not. We writers can’t let our characters totally take over. They need us to guide them. They may think they’re in charge. We may even talk about them as though they are. But they are not. They are our creations. We are in charge.

I hope you heard the stern tone in my voice there, because that’s the tone I took when I sat down with Rosanna – yes, that’s her name, this wayward character in my latest novel, Gold Plated. We sat down with a mug of hot chocolate and a piece of cake and sorted this thing out. Okay, she wasn’t comfortable with the original plan, but I wasn’t happy with the direction she looked like taking. It couldn’t lead to the destination I’d had in mind from the outset. One of us had to give, didn’t we? Or could we compromise? Could Rosanna have her say, speak her mind as she just had and still get back on track?

Of course she can. I’m in charge, remember. It’s up to me to bring her round by carefully constructing a wee diversion that allows us both to feel happy with the outcome. And that’s what I did, bringing in the first draft of Gold Plated at 59,000 words by the 30th November, just as I emerged from the tunnel.

It’s only the 1st of December, so I’m still blinking in the light, but I see I have neglected this poor old blog again. I owe it an apology. I’d love to think someone might have missed me.

So, back on track. Still fleshing out Gold Plated, but with a little less intensity so there’s time and energy for all the other writing-related projects I delight in, including the final edit of For What it’s Worth the spin-off of The Reluctant Detective Series I was writing. My lovely daughter-in-law, Michelle, has almost finished painting a gorgeous cover for it and soon I hope it will be all systems go for publication.

What fun we writers have 🙂

Did you have a go with NaNoWriMo this year? Do tell me in the comments how you got on.

Or have you read any good books lately? Ones that take you off into that glorious tunnel of trees, where everything is beautiful but you can hardly see anything outside it – the dishes, the ironing, the cat’s empty saucer …

~~~

You can read Christine Campbell’s books for FREE with Kindle Unlimited, or buy them in eBook or paperback format here on Amazon.

2014 NaNoWriMo Winner

Winner-2014-Web-Banner

It’s December and the weather has turned wintry and cold here in Scotland, but I have that warm and fuzzy feeling inside left over from November’s marathon writing sprint. Now, I know the marathon and the sprint are two different races, so it may seem as though I am mixing my metaphors, but it’s what NaNoWriMo is for me. It’s a marathon in that it continues right through the month, but it’s also a sprint in that at the end of that month I have a first draft and that used to take me months, if not years, to accomplish before I cottoned on to NaNo.
NaNO has not changed how much hard work I put into writing a novel, but it has revolutionised how long it takes me to do that work.
Declaring a daily word-count is such a strong impetus to keep me writing every day. And, yes, I have tried just setting myself a daily target. It doesn’t do it for me. NaNoWriMo does: it just works for me. I know it wouldn’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but it certainly is mine. I have completed three NaNos, coming out of each with that precious first draft, that invaluable something to get my editing teeth into.

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My first NaNo novel was Here At The Gatea Contemporary Women’s Novel. If you haven’t read it, you can get your copy right now by clicking on the title, which will take you straight to Amazon, if I’ve managed the link correctly.

Here is a brief synopsis of Here At The Gate

Mhairi had worked hard to build herself a normal, stable life, but there had always been a dark fear inside her. No matter how happy she was, it was always there.

It followed her about like a black bat, haunting her nights, hiding in a corner during her days, flapping out at odd moments, scaring the wits out of her.

It was as though she was standing outside a high-walled garden, barred from the secret of her past by the wrought-iron gate. She could see all the bushes and trees, the rhododendron and hydrangea. She could even smell the roses and the honeysuckle, but then the gate would swing shut and she was outside and it was dark.

Now her happy, settled life was being threatened by her own daughter and she knew she had to force through the darkness. She needed to remember what she had spent a lifetime forgetting.

~~~

My July Camp NaNoWriMo 2014 novel and my November NaNoWriMo novel? Well they are both in the editing phase and are due to be released very soon, as parts one and two of a series about Mirabelle, who becomes a very reluctant detective when her daughter goes missing.

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Meeting Mirabelle

As promised yesterday, I’d like to introduce you to Mirabelle Milligan, the main protagonist in the series of novels I am currently working on. I have written the first one, half of the second, and am about to embark on writing the first draft of the third during the month of July at Camp NaNoWriMo.

But, let me take you back to the beginning…

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The letter had finally come and Mirabelle suggested they should go out for a meal and to the cinema to celebrate.
She gave Summer a quick one-armed hug while shoving her bare feet into floppy sheepskin boots and preparing to rush out the door to work. “After all, not every day a girl gets accepted into Uni,” she said, giving her daughter a kiss. “But you know I’ve never been much for throwing a party. Love them! Think it’s the Jamaican in me. Always up for a bit of carnival.” Hands in the air, bracelets scurrying down plump brown arms into the folds of loose sleeves, she gyrated her large hips to an internal rhythm of the Caribbean. “Love, love, love a party!” The rows of beads trailing from her neck bobbed and swung, a colourful waterfall of sound. “Just no use at organising them.” One last shimmy in defiance of the look of disgust directed at her wobbling boobs, and she handed Summer her schoolbag and urged her towards the door. “But we absolutely have to celebrate somehow!”
“You’ll definitely be home from work in time?” Summer asked with a sigh.
“Of course I will!”
Summer stood her ground, blocking the doorway. “There’s no ‘Of course!’ about it, Mum. You’re never home before eight o’clock. The film starts at seven thirty. If we’re to get something to eat, you need to be home six at the latest.”
“Okay! Okay! I can do it! Don’t get your knickers in a twist!”
Summer gave her a scathing look. “Ugh! That’s so yesterday, Mum!”
“Well, I’m a ‘yesterday girl’. Could’ve been a great flower person in the sixties.” She held out her long, multi-coloured skirt and spun around on the spot. Her many rings and bangles sparkled in the light cast by the ornate, crystal-encrusted chandelier in the tiny, over-bright hallway. “Being a teenager in the nineties just didn’t have the same cachet.”
“You didn’t need the sixties.” Summer scowled.
“True! Ohhh,” she cooed, stroking her daughter’s cheek. “Look at your pretty wee freckled nose all scrunched up there.” She tapped it gently. “Do I embarrass you, my petal?”
“All the time, Mother.”
Mirabelle shrugged. “Well, get used to it, kiddo! I’m unlikely to change!”—words tossed behind her with the kiss she blew as she grabbed a shawl from the back of the door. Draping the material round her shoulders, she picked up her big floppy bag and danced past Summer, out the door and down the communal stairs. ‘Unlikely to change!’—words she’d later long to take back.
To rewind that day: push herself away from her desk, away from the stack of papers. Step crazily backwards, her shawl flying from the back of her chair into her hand, draping itself round her shoulders. Retreat through the office door, pulling it closed in front of her, her feet faultlessly finding the flight of stairs behind. She’d back down them, seeming to sink into each step, her knees straightening and flexing, straightening and flexing. Then walking backwards out into the street, her head bobbing as she took back morning greetings from colleagues and strangers.
Press rewind again to speed it up. The bus rushing in reverse, passengers embarking: flying effortlessly up the step, their backs to the open door, ignoring the ticket machine, ringing the bell as they sat in their seats. Passengers alighting, seeing only what they were leaving: strange knee-bent drops from the opened doors, taking their money from the ticket machine, catching it as it was spewed up from the top of columns of coins to jump into their palms. Mirabelle herself: taking the leap behind her, leaving go of the handrail as her feet found the pavement.
Back, back: a reverse salsa at the bus stop, taking back the sharing of her joy at the good news of her daughter’s acceptance to Edinburgh University, smiles disappearing into closed, reserved stranger’s faces.
Backwards: backwards dancing down the street and up the stairs, rushing, rushing, unusual lightness in the retroflexive ascent. Up the stairs and through the door and, there and then, standing beside her daughter, “I’ll change!” she’d say. “If you want me to, I’ll change.”
But, with no rewind facility available, no benefit of hindsight in play, Mirabelle neglected to change old habits. She came back from the office, late as usual, with the customary flustered apology ready on her lips and a placatory tub of ice cream in her hands as she laboriously climbed the stairs to their flat. She had got lost in the clutter that was her desk at work, writing reports about the safety or otherwise of other people’s children.
“Sorry, pal,” she said as she pushed through the door. “Not too late, are we?” She didn’t shrug out of her thick woollen shawl, though it was damp from the drizzle she’d hurried through. “Ready to go?” She pushed open the living-room door. “Summer? You there?” she said to the empty room.
Still holding the ice-cream, a possible cause of the shivering tinkle her bangles made, she stuck her head round the door of her daughter’s bedroom. “Summer?”
Expecting to find her lolling across the bed or sitting at her desk tapping away on her computer, Mirabelle walked in, the ice-cream held out before her as a peace offering. But the bed, duvet neatly pulled up as Summer left it every morning, was untouched, the computer unopened. Summer wasn’t home.

~~~

 

The Countdown is On!

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It’s almost time to pack my bags and head to camp.

Last November, I joined NaNoWriMo for the first time and enjoyed it enormously! I could not have imagined how much I was going to enjoy it when I embarked on the crazy idea of writing 50,000 words in the month. I had been struggling to discipline myself to write something, anything, every day, forget about the idea of writing around 1,665 words every day. In the event, I averaged 2,000 and came in a NaNoWriMo Winner with 60,000 words and a complete first draft of a novel.

That first draft became a second, a third and so on until it became my fourth published novel, HERE AT THE GATE.

Here at the gate 3

http://a-fwd.com/asin-uk=B00KIW95OW

This July, I’ve decided to go for it again. Although I have written something every day since that glorious stint in November, I have not been writing anywhere near so much and most of it has been editing and marketing. I am ready to feel the excitement and exhilaration of letting words flow untrammelled from my mind to my fingers, leaving a story in their wake.

Bring it on!

Camp NaNoWriMo, here I come!

This time round, I’m a little more prepared. I hope that doesn’t spoil the fun. I have planned and plotted this novel, and it will be the third in a series I’ve been writing for some time. Some l-0-n-g time. The series is about Mirabelle, a lady whose daughter goes missing. While searching for her daughter, Mirabelle picks up the habit of finding other people. Not a habit she wanted.

July’s novel will partially be set on the Island of Skye, so next week, the first week in July, guess where I’ll be?

Yes, my bags will be packed in reality and I am off to the Island of Skye to do my research as I write my novel.

My Camp NaNoWriMo cabin will be a cottage, and my cabin mate will be my better half, but I feel confident I’ll get my writing done because there’s plenty of football on the television these evenings. Don’t know what that’s about!

Doubt I’ll have much internet connection, so I’ll save the gorgeous photos I’m bound to take till the following weeks, but, prepare yourself, as long as the rain stays away, there is some spectacular scenery on Skye and Mirabelle is bound to notice.

Just to whet your appetite, tomorrow I’ll introduce you to Mirabelle and her daughter, Summer.

~~~

#Novelicious #NaNoWriMo #IslandofSkye #ReadaNovel #MissingPeople

The First Time

They say, ‘There’s a first time for everything.’ and I guess that’s a truism if ever there was one. But, self-evident or not, it may come as a surprise sometimes to find yourself doing something for the first time. Having stood up in the circle and declared, ‘I’m a writer!’ it shouldn’t really have surprised me that, at some point in  my career, I’d be asked to give a talk about writing…but it did…surprise me, I mean. It delighted me too.

Asked to read excerpts from my latest novel, Here At The Gate, my fourth published novel, and to talk about my writing process and getting published the indie way, I felt excited, but nervous too.

I’m passionate about writing, delighted with how Here At The Gate, my #NaNoWriMo 2013 novel, turned out, and passionate too about indie publishing, I knew I could do it. But could I do it well? Well enough to not let down myself and my good friend, Jane, and her boss, who organised the event?

Well, I got through it and it seemed to go well. I’ve had lots of good feedback,

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I signed and sold some books,

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and I had some lovely chats with new-found friends.

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So, yes, this was my first ‘Author Event’ and I hope it will not be my last.

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FINAL Front Cover

Available on Amazon:

http://a-fwd.com/asin-uk=B00KIW95OW

FeedaRead.com:

http://www.feedaread.com/books/Here-at-the-Gate-9781784077211.aspx

Barnes & Noble, Waterstones

and can be ordered from bookstores.

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#HereAtTheGate #NaNoWriMo #FeedARead #AuthorEvent #BookSigning

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The Birds Have Flown: A Book Is Born

Here in Scotland

Spring has washed into Summer

Summer hangs days out to dry

With a wary eye on the weather

Not sure of that azure sky.

Pheasants chicks have grown gangly

Teenagers already it seems

The doves have flown free

With no thoughts for me

And the stuff of my

Hopes and my dreams.

~~~

Forgive me while I sing my little ditty

Forgive if I scream and I shout

The work of the springtime is over

And I have a novel just out!

~~~

Yes, the first draft I completed in November for NaNoWriMo has been nurtured and nourished, polished and preened and is ready to fly off to meet you.

~~~

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***NEW RELEASE***

HERE AT THE GATE

Available in both paperback and ebook format.

FINAL Front Cover

Contemporary Popular Fiction, Here At The Gate is a relationship novel, with a touch of romance, a sprinkling of humour, a lot about family, a wee bit about Scotland, and a mystery to be unravelled…and all for the price of a cup of coffee and a cream bun.

~~~

Here’s what Here At The Gate is about:

Mhairi had worked hard to build herself a normal, stable life, but there had always been a dark fear inside her. No matter how happy she was, it was always there.
It followed her about like a black bat, haunting her nights, hiding in a corner during her days, flapping out at odd moments, scaring the wits out of her.
It was as though she was standing outside a high-walled garden, barred from the secret of her past by the wrought-iron gate. She could see all the bushes and trees, the rhododendron and hydrangea. She could even smell the roses and the honeysuckle, but then the gate would swing shut and she was outside and it was dark.
Now her happy, settled life was being threatened and she knew she had to force through the darkness. She needed to remember what she had spent a lifetime forgetting.

~~~

Available on Amazon:

http://a-fwd.com/asin-uk=B00KIW95OW

FeedaRead.com:

http://www.feedaread.com/books/Here-at-the-Gate-9781784077211.aspx

Barnes & Noble, Waterstones, and can be ordered from bookstores.

~~~

Here At The Gate is ready now for you to enjoywith that cup of coffee and cream bun, if you’re feeling flush!

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On The Run

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I’ve been reading a lot about beginnings, watching one too.

The reason for my choice of reading material is that I’ve done the ‘slash and burn’ of my last post, brutally editing my WIP, and now I’m on to the tweaking and fussing. Having cut the beginning drastically, it gets into the story quicker, but does it hook the reader? Thanks to Kristen Lamb’s Blog, http://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/2014/04/25/the-single-best-way-to-sell-books-or-lose-a-sale/ , I bought Les Edgerton’s Hooked, a book about beginnings, and it’s got me thinking — and running.

I seem to be spending an inordinate amount of time running up and down our stairs, figuratively speaking of course 🙂 — I’m not allowed to run. Every task is punctuated by sudden flashes of insight into a better word, a better phrase, a better sentence, all to try to hook the reader, and I have to dash to the computer keyboard to ‘tweak.’ It’s such fun — but exhausting.

The beginning I’ve been watching is this:

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Now this has had me running as well, figuratively, of course 🙂 and it has a lot to do with ‘slash and burn.’

At the end of last summer, our son helped my hubby drastically ‘slash’ the height of the high hedge at the bottom of our garden, in order for us to better enjoy the view when sitting on the patio. This was not accomplished without a lot of nonsense, I have to add.

After the ‘slash’ came the ‘burn,’ but not until the wood dried out sufficiently to burn. This took time and several bonfires, so there was still a pile of old hedge trimmings waiting to be burnt this spring.

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Meanwhile, we noticed a regular visitor to our garden. Every day, we could hear and/or see a female pheasant in the garden and she kept disappearing somewhere up the back of it. We wondered if there might be a nest, but couldn’t see it. Then, one day a few weeks ago, we noticed a courting couple strolling in the field behind the garden. The male looked magnificent in all his colours and he fair strutted.

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His modest companion began to scurry across the last few yards of the field then flew up and over the hedge and into our garden.

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Pheasant photos courtesy of Wikipedia

His strutting now took purpose and, for quite a time, he patrolled the perimeter of our garden, strutting and marching to and fro, checking the boundary was safe.

When he decided all was in order, he strutted off and we went to search out the nest. So much for ‘burn!’ There’ll be no more bonfires in our garden for a while, for there, deep in the middle of the old, dried-out cuttings we found Phyllis the pheasant:

IMG_1757You have to look close; she is amazingly well camouflaged, but she’s there all right, ‘cooried doon’ and ready to sit it out till her eggs hatch. I run in and out several times each day in the hopes of sneaking a photo when she leaves the nest to feed — which she doesn’t seem to do very often. But, patience is rewarded. I got my photo of the ten eggs nestled there.

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And what a beginning her chicks will have.

The fox who used to steal the farmer’s chickens seems to have moved on from the nearby woods

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The neighbour with all the cats has moved away, leaving our garden free of their stalking presence, and me free of the frights I used to get as they jumped out at me from their favourite hiding place behind our hut

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and our next-door neighbour has decided she is too old to cope with the dog walking/dog sitting service she used to provide for her family’s dogs. So all is quiet in our garden and Phyllis can get on with her ‘tweaking’ undisturbed, and trust me, she can ‘tweak.’ Every time I check things are okay up in that corner of paradise, she has changed position, facing another few degrees round from the last time.

So I can get on with my ‘tweaking.’ A word here, a sentence there.

I looked up how long the incubation period is for pheasants. It’s 23-26 days. The incubation period for my novel will have been somewhat longer, but the race is on. I wonder which will hatch first, fly first, leave the nest first.

I’m on the run, hoping ‘Here at the Gate’ will be first to venture out of the garden.

~~~

Slash and Burn

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Well, the time has come

It has to be done

My story’s too long

I must slash and burn.

The beginning is boring

The ending is weak

Something is needed

Much more than a tweak.

With hindsight, I knew it

My darlings must go

I’m certain without them

My story will flow.

The first draft came easy

The writing was fun

Then came the hard work

The edits I’ve done.

The month of November

My story was written

I’ll try it again

With NaNoWriMo I’m smitten.

But the thing for just now

It has to be done

A last edit is needed

I must slash and burn.

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#Editing #NaNoWriMo #WriteWhereYouAre #Slash and Burn #Writing

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I’ve Been Tagged in a Blog Chain!

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Hello everyone! I was invited to participate in a Blog Chain. Alana Munro a fellow author and blogging buddy was kind enough to tag me.

All I have to do is answer four writing questions, and then tag three other authors. Next week, these three authors will answer the same questions and tag three others and so the chain continues to grow larger. This will enable readers to get to know more authors and their books.

Thanks for tagging me, Alana, and sharing my work with all your followers. :)

Alana’s debut non-fiction novel, Women Behaving Badly, has been receiving outstanding reviews

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This book highlights the strange, controlling and spiteful behaviours that some females specialise in as it seeks to understand what actually drives women to be cruel or bitchy to each other and attempts to make sense of the huge expectations women place on each other. How can we avoid toxic women? What bad behaviours should we be looking out for? This book attempts to understand what is really going on between the females in our life

One reviewer said of Women Behaving Badly, ‘This isn’t a women bashing book, by any means, but it is a frank and truthful look at the relationships women often have with one another. Learning to recognize the behaviors of women who don’t have our best interests at heart will help us to develop healthy, long lasting relationships with the ones that do.’ (By Jaycie D)

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Okay so here are the questions I need to answer:

1) What are you currently working on?

I am busy editing my NaNoWriMo novel. During the last few days of October, the more I learned about NaNoWriMo, the more I wanted to participate, but I didn’t have a novel in mind to write from scratch. I had plenty of first drafts and half-finished ones, but nothing ready to start from scratch.

There is a file I have added to over the years filled with little snippets and scraps: things I’ve overheard; ideas that have come to me in the night; news items I’ve thought would hake a good story, and things like that. Dipping into that, I pulled out the merest sentence or two of a story my step-father used to tell of his sister.

How could I make a story out of it, and write the first draft of a novel, 50,000 words in one month…with absolutely no idea how or where to start? I decided to jump in and just go for it.

I’m so glad that I did, because I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge. It got me writing every day. I couldn’t believe how it flowed from my fingers onto the screen. I finished the month with 60,000 words and my completed first draft, which I am now having a great time editing and getting into shape.

2) How does your work differ from others’ in the same genre?

Really, unless a writer deliberately tries to copy another author’s style or stories, I guess we all differ even within any one genre. And, since I write from my heart it is bound to be different to those written from another’s heart.

3) Why do you write what you do?

I admire ordinary people who find extraordinary strength when faced with adversity. I love writing about them, telling their stories, showing their strength as it grows and triumphs.

4) How does your writing process work?

I am not very good at plotting and planning. I hate having to write a synopsis. I prefer to write the story as it forms in my mind, looking no more than a step or two ahead at any given time. It is helpful if I know the ending though, so I know where I’m heading in general terms, deciding how to get there as the story progresses.

Then I do a whole series of edits and proofreads. Most of my time is spent on the editing and polishing stages. For instance, my NaNo novel…it only took me a month to write the first draft, but it has already taken me more than two months to edit, still writing every day…and I’m nowhere near finished polishing.

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Okay, now that you know a lot more about me, let me introduce you to the three authors I have tagged.

*If you have been tagged, please answer the above questions and introduce your followers to the person who tagged you and three other authors.

 First up, another blogger and internet buddy, Jo Robinson. It was Jo who encouraged me to have a go at NaNoWriMo in November, and I am so grateful to her for that and all the rest of the encouragement she gives me.

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For many years Suzette has managed very well to live her life without actually taking part in it, avoiding any possibility of pain by very carefully ignoring reality. Until something happens. Something so terrible that she has no choice but to abandon her cocoon of safety.
After the brutal beating of an elderly domestic worker, Suzette takes her in, and sets off a chain of events that leads to devastating heartbreak. And an unexpected hero changes everything. Finally finding her voice, she speaks out, and her world explodes, culminating in the death of a very special man.
On her path to make amends, she discovers the story of his life, connects with the people of his past, and finds the chance to fully live her life once again if that’s what she chooses to.

One reviewer said, ‘I can only urge you to read this book, because I reckon only the hardest of hearts could fail to be moved.’ (By Wendy)

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The second author I’d like to tag is Neil Ostroff

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What would you do if you knew you only had days to live? Would you freak out? Would you waste it in self-pity, resentment, or denial? Or would you go and pursue everything you’ve ever wanted to do?

Nearly a decade had passed since Nathan stood inside someone’s home, since that terrible September morning when he lost everything he ever loved. Outside, a hurricane sounded like it was beating palm trees against the siding. Nathan didn’t know the sickly woman who’d rescued him from the throes of the epic storm. Her name is Miriam and she is about to change everything he ever thought about the meaning of life and what lies beyond.

Nathan discovers the strength of love can piece his shattered world back together and heal wounds that cut deep into his soul. With the clock ticking toward the end of Miriam’s life, he never figured the perils he and this dying woman were about to face by knowing the most horrible knowledge one can know.

One reviewer said, ‘Ostroff hits a home run. Drop Out is a truly inspiring story of heartbreaking loss, survivor’s guilt, and the healing power of unconditional love.’ (By Dora Preston)

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And the third author I’d like to introduce to you is Anne Stenhouse. I know Anne personally from the days when I was a member of Edinburgh Writers’ Club. In those days Anne was known as an accomplished playwright. She now writes Historical Romance novels.

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Leaving the chapel in London’s 19th century Thames’ side where she teaches the alphabet to a raggle-taggle of urchins, Mariah Fox is charged by a stray pig. The quick intervention of Tobias Longreach saves her from certain injury. Mariah has always believed her destiny to be teaching. After the early death of her mother, she was brought up by her papa, Jerome, to believe that she could learn anything a boy could. She shares his vision of a future in which everyone, rich or poor, boy or girl, will be taught at least the rudiments of reading, writing, and counting.

One reviewer said, ‘Mariah’s Marriage has a refreshingly intelligent heroine and an engaging hero who recognises her worth. I really enjoyed the background details of Mariah’s aim to educate the ragged children in the early 1820s, while falling for the charms of an Earl almost against her will.’ (By R. Gemmell)

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