Saturday, December 31, 2011
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Saturday, December 24, 2011
I love me some Last Christmas by Wham!, and Fairytale of New York by The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl is probably my favourite Christmas song of all time, but I've gone for two songs that, in my opinion, aren't played enough, and a third that I heard for the first time only this morning and knew I had to share. It was hard deciding which one to push out to make room for it, I can tell you :-)
The first song has been covered by many many people, and I spent a lot of time listening to various versions with the intention of bringing you something different. In the end though, I had to admit defeat. Nobody sings it quite as well as this woman!
I've loved the second song since I first heard it as a little girl. At that time, it never struck me as an odd pairing - I was about eight - I'd never heard of either of the singers. Since then, I've decided that whoever thought of putting these two together was a genius.
The last song was one I heard for the first time this morning on Sarah Wesson's blog, Earful of Cider. I think it struck a chord with me instantly, because my parents live abroad, along with my brother and his wife and three children. I feel the distance especially at this time of year. I wish I could be there with them, drinking white wine in the sun!
Whatever you celebrate, have a wonderful holiday. I truly hope that all of you can be with people you want to be with, doing things you want to.
Saturday, December 17, 2011
Friday, December 16, 2011
This week's Musical Stories will be posted tonight, but today you get an extra post. This is my contribution to the Deja Vu blogfest. Click here for details.
I chose this post because I've decided that I might start entering competitions next year. This is my reminder of what not to do. Yes, this post is absolutely true. It's the story of my one and only entry to a writing comptetion :-)
First posted May 4 2011
How not to win a writing competition
20 easy steps to guarantee failure
1. Find out about a competition ten days before the closing date and convince yourself that you can produce something of a high enough standard to enter, even though you rarely write short stories because you have trouble with the 'short' part.
2. Spend the next five days writing your story, even though you're not one hundred percent sure that you've managed to interpret one of the required elements correctly. Edit and re-edit until you've made it as tight as you possibly can.
3. Congratulate yourself on being 1000 words below the required maximum word length.
4. Re-read the rules and discover that you're 1500 words over the maximum word length.
5. Spend four days trying to reduce the word-count without destroying the original story.
6. Read the finished story immediately because you don't have time to let it sit like you'd planned.
Realise that you now have something so flat that it reads like an example on a 'how not to write' blog.
7. Read it to your beloved partner, even though he has a history of sending you back to the drawing board, because you need another opinion and he's the only one around.
8. Listen to, and agree with, his suggestions which involve you going back to the drawing board.
9. Struggle with writing a new opening. Write a rubbish one for now just so you can continue. Realise 1000 words into your new effort that you're boring yourself. Screw up latest effort and throw it across the room.
10. Go to bed.
11. Wake up the day before the competition deadline determined to get this right. Spend the day making some progress, realise that you're going to be working late into the night.
12. Spend the evening watching DVDs with your daughters because they came home a day early after being away for a week and they want to spend time with you. Go to bed late.
13. Set your alarm clock for 9am. Dream that your competition entry should have been posted instead of submitted online so that when your alarm goes off you think you've missed the deadline. Go back to sleep.
14. Jump out of bed in a panic at 10.30am, realise that you have no time to finish your rewrite.
15. Have a quick read through of your original entry. Decide that it would sound better in present tense. Rewrite and do a quick spell check. Realise you have 15 minutes to deadline, so submit story without even a read through.
16. Be too ashamed to even read it back once it's been submitted as you know there are formatting errors, and probably a ton of typos and it's too late to do anything about it.
17. Resolve never ever to submit anything to a competition again that you are not proud of, and thank the writing deity of your choice that no-one, except the judges, will ever know what you did.
18. Hope that the judges of a competition for a TV station will never judge any other writing competitions and be glad that you don't have an unusual name that would stick in a judge's mind.
19. Make a note to check the competition website on June 1st to read the three that did actually make the short-list.
20. Go and work on your novel.
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Friday, December 9, 2011
Thank you all for your kind comments and suggestions on my last post. It really meant a lot, and stopped me feeling sorry for myself. Things are moving on in the editing department, but more about that some other time! Tomorrow, Techno and I are off to visit an Art College with Diva to see if it will be a good fit for her next year, so wish us luck!
After our recent special editions, it's time to begin the third series of Musical Stories. As usual we're starting with SciFi. Enjoy :-)
I'm almost certain that somebody recommended the first song to me. Unfortunately I didn't make a note, so if it was you could you please let me know so I can credit you? On the surface, this is a cheerful, cheesy song but, listen closer, and you will realise it's actually very sad. (It's also a retelling of another, very famous, SciFi song).
If you watch Breaking Bad, I have two words for you: Gale Boetticher.
The second story comes at the usual 'humans meet aliens' idea from a slightly different angle. The reaction our visitor has, after seeing how people on Earth behave towards one another, is one that I think we would all have now and then if we had the choice.
This week's final song is a boy's fears that he is no longer exciting enough for his love when she returns from an amazing journey. He points out some of the good things there are on Earth too. I'm not sure I'd include fried chicken but, hey, whatever works!
Next week it's the turn of YA literature. Have a wonderful weekend :-)
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
So, what am I thinking about this month? If you read my last post, you already know my feelings about editing. This is kind of an extension of that.
I'm not sure I actually have a full length novel in me.
Before I started my first novel, I assumed I would write long and have to delete thousands of words. At school, my stories were always longer than everyone else's. At uni, my essays were double the length they needed to be. I used to cut and paste them. I mean, literally. I would cut paragraphs up, move them around and stick them onto paper. My dissertation, which had a 16k limit, started life at 40k words. So I resigned myself to having to kill a lot of darlings.
I wish. I've written four stories, (I can't bring myself to call them novels), ranging from 36,000 to 55,000 words. I know there is stuff that needs to be added, but there's stuff that needs to be removed too. I think my problem is that, whilst I have good ideas for main plots, I don't have sub-plots. I tell myself to concentrate on the stories and not to worry about the length, but if I do that then I feel like I'm giving up on publication. Which isn't so bad, publication still seems like pie in the sky to me right now anyway, but then I feel like a fraud, being here with all of you, having this blog.
Perhaps these are just not the right stories, but I love them. In the right hands, I think they could be really good. If only they were longer.
Monday, December 5, 2011
Now that NaNoWriMo is finished, it's time to turn my mind back to editing. I had just started to edit one of my stories at the end of October, and I thought that I would continue that whilst writing something else. I realised very quickly that it wasn't going to happen. Still, another month of leaving it to sit won't have hurt it at all.
I'm after some recommendations, if any of you have any, as to some good books that might help with the editing process. I've got a ton of posts from around the web, saved in my editing folder but, faced with a mass of my words, I'm really struggling to know how to do this. I know that you should leave the small stuff until last. What's the use of correcting punctuation and deleting adjectives if you're going to rewrite great swathes of the story? Still, it's those little things that I find myself focusing on because I'm not exactly sure how to go about fixing the big picture.
What's frustrating me is that sometimes I'm sure there's a good story buried among the rubble, I'm just not sure how to find it. I'm scared I'm going to end up as one of those people who just write story after story, and never edit any of them. I have four now, and not one of them has had a proper edit. To steal someone else's analogy, I've painted all the bedrooms before I've built the staircases. Can anyone help me with a good carpenter?
Saturday, December 3, 2011
Sorry I've not been around this week. It's mostly due to the end of NaNo and joining the beta test of a new online game, Star Wars, The Old Republic (WoW in space and absolutely amazing). I'm hoping to catch up with your blogs over the weekend and, from next week, I'll be blogging three times a week for the foreseeable future.
This week is the last special edition of Musical Stories before we start series three. I know that 'he's just not that into you' is not a genre but the title was too good to pass up! I'm not sure there's a category for broken romance, but perhaps someone could put me right on that score.
I've broken my own most rigid rule this week. The last of these songs is over eight minutes long. I had to include it though, as it is one of the best examples of this kind of story I have ever heard. I've tried to balance it out by choosing two other songs that are shorter than usual. I hope you enjoy them.
My first choice has to be the ultimate demonstration to a woman that yes, it really is over and he's not going to change his mind. And, even if he does, girl you really don't want him back!
For the second song, you just know he still loves her, but he's going to keep telling himself he doesn't until he believes it. I actually wanted to give you Elvis Costello's version of this song, which is incredible, but I couldn't find it anywhere online. So you get another singer who I love instead.
The final choice is a truly epic tale. If you get the time to watch the video, you should. The interaction between the singers is great. A true cautionary tale for loved-up (or 'lusted-up') teens everywhere!
That's it for this week. Have a great weekend. I'm looking forward to catching up with you all soon.