April 2nd 2021

It’s Camp Nanowrimo, and I am doing it my way since I’ve already missed a day. Yesterday, we had a long beneficial zoom session with Bearsden Writers on ‘Page to Stage’ by Neet Neilson. All about the creation of a five-minute stage play. We agreed that the writing process was quite similar to other areas of writing. The method of taking your written work onto the stage seemed to include a lot of other people with the potential of fighting for your words and ideas. That was scary.
I should be editing the words I wrote in November, but I might be more productive if I try to fit those into my work in progress. I don’t think I can write a memoir (too many tangled tales in my past), so it will have to be a work of fiction with some stories from my life included, which is how my novel ‘Finding Takri’ came into being. It works that way for me.
What did I do since November? I have been busy but not writing, not submitting, although I have been keeping in touch with my writing community. I have been reading, doing jigsaws, knitting and baking flapjacks.

Our only visitors were our neighbours’ hens, who would tap on the patio doors for food. Unfortunately, our local fox got a hold of them on a dark March night when the wind had blown their coop door shut before they could get in. Two children next door were distraught, but so were we adults. Only one of six hens survived, Rosie, who hid in a tight space near a shed. Oh well, the fox and her babies had a feast! My neighbour bought four more hens to keep Rosie company, but they are not allowed out of the coop yet.


November 4th

1922 words today. My fourth day total is 7337 words.
My writing friend, Leela Soma, who has an online book launch tonight for her novel, ‘Murder at the Mela’, asked me for more details of how I was finding writing every day. My eyes become gritty if I look at the computer screen for too long. I stand to type, this means I tire quickly, so I write for short periods. Half-an-hour to forty-five minutes at the most. We should only look at a screen for twenty minutes before looking away, but I’m not looking up the whole time. I change the page to fit width and height and make no changes to the text. When I finish a section and leave my laptop, I place the word count at the end of that piece of writing. On a card, I write down the next sentence to set me writing when I return. That’s it. The writing must flow, and preparation is the key.
Now, that I’ve completed my word count for the day, I can go back to my knitting (it’s a poncho) and the television which is all about Trump v Biden today. When Trump won four years ago, I was shocked as I had expected Hillary to win. The United States was not able to vote a woman into power then, and this may be repeated with Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. I am disappointed.

Thoughts on Feedback and Marketing

This post started when I researched the costs of receiving feedback.

Curtis Brown = £35.00 for feedback of 200 words on 500words of writing! (7p per word)

Strathclyde University mentoring = £79 initial submission + £273 for 20k; £515 for 40k; £630 for 60k; £924 for 80k (approx 1p per word,although my calculation may be wrong). A group of us paid £168 for Strathclyde Blaze Inferno in which we wrote 8300 words and gained feedback from five writers = 10p per word plus all the inspirational ideas and notes from the course.

A course with Write Here costs £99 but there is not as much feedback.

It seems that giving feedback makes writers money. Then, I searched for ‘how to make money from writing’ and up came this:


It’s a great article. My attention was drawn to the websites that writers could use.

CafePress, Zazzle and Etsy will sell your T-shirts, coffee mugs and other promotional items linked to your book. I have bought something from a seller on Etsy. Zazzle looks like an amazing site.

You could offer travelling tours (especially non-fiction writers) and take your readers through the places that inspired your book. Vayable might help.

You could set up a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo to raise money for expenses.

To earn advertising income you could sell ads based on your book on Wattpad Futures or Amazon Affiliates.

You could develop a writing workshop. Use Udemy or Skillshare.

How about creating a video trailer for your book? Adobe Spark, Animoto, Magisto.

Or a virtual book tour: podcasts, tweet chats and Facebook live sessions.

And while you are on Facebook, create a Group or Fan page.

Why not build a website for your book and give away free content such as a couple of chapters? Or create a series of downloadable tools for your audience. (I don’t understand that).

You should believe that you are in the money-making business. (Oh?)

Gosh, and I thought my friends who used Pinterest to post photos of their characters were doing so well!

To write or not in the time of Covid-19

I had applied to join a Blaze Creative Writing online course with Strathclyde University last November, so I knew that I would be writing in the ten weeks beginning 20 April. There are thirteen of us and our tutor, David Pettigrew, estimated our total word count for the course would be 9000. Therefore, I will have at least written that number of polished, not draft, words of my novel in progress. I am now at the final assignment, and the problem is I must write the ending. The deadline is next Monday. Without an end date, I would dither endlessly. Still, I am consoled by the thought that thinking is a vital part of the process of writing. I do a lot of it.

As for ‘not writing’ I don’t include reading in that. Reading helps our writing except that is doesn’t get the words on to the paper (or the screen). This course talks a lot about our reading, and we have all added to our reading lists.

First of all, we posted, discussed and wrote our novel first page, which was very interesting, as, within the group, we have a wide range of settings, historical and modern.

Then, we posted our favourite first pages. Our tutor’s choice was Enduring Love by Ian McEwan. Find it here: http://www.nytimes.com/books/first/m/mcewan-love.html

Other good novel beginnings and titles (important) which we mentioned are below.

The Trick is to Keep Breathing by Janice Galloway

The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom

Washington Black by Esi Edugyan

The Lies of Lock Lamora by Scott Lynch

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Clare North

Two classic books on our craft are Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg and On Writing by Stephen King. I have read these early on in my writing life. Perhaps I should revisit them but do I have the time? I used to be very busy, out and about, talking to people. Now, I spend much time online responding to other people’s writing. Note to self – I must make progress with my novel.

What did I do when I was not writing? I started by tidying everything. The house first, but that didn’t take long because I don’t accumulate stuff. Then, my clothes. I took all the elastic out, sewed new waistbands for cords. My trousers are more comfortable now. I found lots of wool and unfinished projects and completed a crocheted stool cover and two bags. I knitted one sock, one glove and a pink balaclava (to show that I could).

I left Facebook because it seemed that there was a lot more there now that I found annoying. On a Zoom (I know what that is now) meeting with friends, I admitted that in the first two weeks I hadn’t gone out at all. They insisted that it was lovely around where I live, and I should be out walking. My husband agreed as he was walking regularly in the field tracks behind the house.

I put on the shoes I have in my car for wearing at the gym, took sweets and a bottle of water and followed Bob along the road (very noisy, cars are moving faster in the lockdown). We turned right on to the farm track and up the hill. At the top, we turned right again and made our way to the end where we climbed over a fence into Balmore golf course. And that’s where the birds are happy and in full song. Amazing. Birds call from one tree to another, and we hear them because there are no other people. The sky is blue, the air is clear, and the Branziet Burn trickles through the empty course and the fields towards our house. In this part of the walk we don’t talk, we let nature make all the noise it wants. We listen. We make a circle around Baldernock Primary School and climb the hill back to Branziet.

This daily walk has me in its grasp now. It’s over an hour long. I become more energetic and leave the sweets and the drink and concentrate on the walk rather than the stopping.

Time moves on, Nicola Sturgeon’s daily death count report shows a decrease and an end looks nearer.

However, I now like being in the lockdown. I don’t rush to my mother’s house, hoping she is well. I do not have to make her lunch. She is a stoic 93-year-old and does not want anyone to visit her in this pandemic. My brother lives closest and does her shopping, and that’s all she needs.

My granddaughter is not at school and doesn’t need me to take her home to her house. It was great to see her every weekday, but life is so much simpler when it’s my husband and me. This changes when the golf courses open. He is out every day, but I am still happy not to go out unless for essential purposes. I shop fortnightly because Bob now takes a turn at the weekly shop. I realise I have been doing this by myself for too many years. He has also started to clear up after our evening meal. That’s fine too.

I look ahead and re-open my Amazon seller account. I sell two books in four days. I go to Milngavie Post Office where they charge more than Amazon would have for postage. I am now always going to buy postage from Amazon, which is a bad idea because it is a not-enough-tax and employee paying conglomerate, but during this lockdown one thing I’ve learned is to look after myself.

Wednesday 28 May 2014 Writing

I have four pieces of writing (works in progress, I should say) on the go, at this time.

First, there is ‘Moon River’, which is the story of how Alana McLean, from Largs took control of her life and moved from the West of Scotland to Turkey. This work began as the final assessment for the Diploma in Creative Writing with the Open University. Today I emailed it to my editor Farhana Sheikh at Dahlia Publishing. Then there is a short story called ‘My Brother Vrinder’ for Farhana’s latest anthology which progressed from using various strategies to promote our own writing output. The group of writers who are contributing worked on Google plus. It was an experiment begun by Farhana.

Third, a short story for an anthology with my e-buddies (from the previously mentioned OU course), one of whom has a blog called cassandra writes. This story is called ‘A Childhood Memory’, and actually came from the strategies for the above group. I have a couple of poems ready for this anthology too.

And fourth, is my sequel to ‘Finding Takri’; the first scene is set at the Memorial to Sikh Soldiers of the First World War which is in Brighton. As I’d told myself I must begin a new book every new year, I wrote this on 1 January.

Excerpts from the above writing to follow ….