Blowing Off The Cobwebs

It seems somewhat ironic that my last blog post was about how being aimless is dangerous to productivity. I would have sworn it was only a couple of years ago, but apparently it was 7. Clearly I never found that to-do list again.

2021 seems like the time to get back on the horse, but also a strange time to be doing a retrospective. After a year of enforced strangeness, we’re finally starting to creep back to normality and either going back to how things were or trying to start afresh. Personally, I’m hoping to try something a bit different to before. Lockdown brought with it so many opportunities and a different way of living that I’m reluctant to give up now.

At the time of my last blog entry I was looking for a job, but also looking at an office for self-employment, planning a trip to South East Asia and discovering the joys of RPF. I had an amazing trip, did get the office but barely ever used it, and ended up back in full time work a year later. That set me off on a somewhat unexpected journey – I started in customer service and moved rapidly into quality assurance and from there into data analysis, which I still do now. Working full time and commuting by public transport killed my writing though. It wasn’t until lockdown, when we moved abruptly to working from home, that I finally got back into the swing of it. It’s good to be back.

Never forget, writing should be fun

I’ve just signed up for a Big Bang challenge. One of my LiveJournal friends runs, it seems like, hundreds of these, and the one I’ve just signed up for is one I suggested a couple of years ago. It’s called Journey Story, and the themes of the stories are, well, journeys. This is the fourth challenge, and I’ve failed at it twice. This time, though, victory will be mine.

I love doing Big Bangs because it’s a nice length for me. Journey Story is 10000 words, although I normally reach up to about 15k, which used to take me about a week to write. How long it will take me this time, I have no idea, but I’ve broken out a new notebook for it.

Fannish writing is still my favourite thing to do. Fanfiction is so many things; it’s a craft you can share despite thousands of miles, it’s getting involved with your favourite show or book even when there will be no more canon, it’s getting to mess about in a story without any actual intentions. It’s magic, in short.

This story has been waiting for a long time. A while back I wrote a story based on a series of prompts, in which Ianto Jones was actually a Timelord called the Archivist who ended up trapped at Torchwood. He fell in love with Jack, of course, and I fell in love with the whole story. I had so many sequels planned… and I’ve not got around to writing any of them. That is about to change, at last, because this story is going to be the one where they go hopping through the universe in search of lost libraries, Jack goes hopping into bed with other people, and Ianto goes running from his own emotions. It makes sense in my head, and now I need to make it make sense on paper, or on screen.

Quite frankly, I just want to go and sit in a pub and write for days.

So you have finished your first draft…

Suffolk Scribblings


As with writing a novel, there is no single correct way to edit your book. If you are working with an agent or publisher, they will help you through the process and give you access to invaluable support from creative editors, copy editors, line editors and the like. Life is not so simple for us self-publishing authors. So, having gone through this process once, I thought I’d share my learnings by explaining the process I will use for the sequel to Second Chance. This doesn’t mean it will be the right process for everybody, but hopefully all of you will see at least one or two things that will be of help.

1 First read through

So you’ve left your manuscript to lie for a few weeks, haven’t you? You haven’t? Then go away and come back in a few weeks.

Stephen King in his book, On Writing, suggests your first act should…

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Timing is Everything

A few days ago I ordered some photos so I could do some scrapbook pages for my stories. Locations, characters, events, that sort of thing. They arrived this morning, and I’d love to get started, except that I’m leaving for a weekend of morris dancing in an hour and a half.

They’ll hav to wait for next week.

What I’m Working On

It’s Summer, so life has turned up to 11. There’s been morris dancing, I’ve joined a gym, I’ve been doing lots of things to do with Creativity In The Box, I’ve had a job interview…

And not done a lot of writing, I have to confess. I’ve been filling page after page in my journals, but in terms of actual fiction there’s not been that much. I have teased out a plot line in Eyes Down, which is what the Bingo story has become. Temporarily, I insist, because that’s a bit… obvious. Continue reading

A Gardener’s Guide to a Weed-Free Narrative

Live to Write - Write to Live

The new fence, with a purple gate! The new fence, with a purple gate!

Last year, I worked a small garden in small pieces and wrote about how that was a good metaphor for writing a novel – or tackling any long project, for that matter: a little bit at a time. [Six Writing Lessons From the Garden]. Because my garden was so small, I protected it with a

Wire & Ski-pole fence, 2013 Wire & Ski-pole fence, 2013

makeshift fence of wire held upright by ski poles.

My small plot was highly successful, yielding leeks, shallots, lettuce, fennel, endive, cherry and heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers both sweet and hot, green beans, Brussels sprouts and assorted herbs. It gave me confidence to expand, but to do so would require more than a makeshift fence. I needed a sturdy and reliable fence to keep our grazing chickens out.

Other years, my gardens have sprawled across the landscape, often resulting in more…

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Scrapbooking Novels


I’ve had a fun evening putting together a couple of scrapbook pages, and it got me thinking. If I were to do one for my novels, which I will now I’ve thought of it, what would be on them?

The current novel would have stuff about WW2-era starlets, bingo, Art Deco, cocktails and London apartments. The other one would have beer and cider, ghosts and students, pubs and the history of York. My longest running story, and fanfiction that Will Not End, would need several pages of London and Cardiff and Weddings and the Doctor and long distance conversations.

What would be in your story’s scrapbook, or your character’s journal? Should we do an exchange of scrapbook pages?