Time.

At the beginning of the year it felt like I had loads of time. I set myself some tasks that were a little ambitious, especially if you consider the problems I have with words in the first place. I do have a bad case of the dyslexia…

It even hit last night while I was out socialising. I mean I work with words but when it gets bad I can find myself swapping names for things.

“Can you pass me the chair cup?”

And calling random guys by my boyfriends name because their name starts with the same two letters and has a similar sound. I think he got a little annoyed at that. It was unintentional but I do feel bad.

It isn’t the first time either. Why? I hear you cry. Well, I was trying to explain it to a friend. Basically, I use coping strategies but they only work if I am up-tight and on-edge. If I relax then I slip. And I relax once I know people really well, which I do with my fella and friends, my brain relaxes and, voilà, my dyslexia comes out to play…

I digress though. So, my list of dos… Well, I am falling behind. Due to a bad case of stomach flu and life getting in the way I need another month!

Unfortunately, I can’t make time, despite trying, so I will have to just get my skates on and apologise to my editor. The faster my writing gets the worse my spelling and grammar. Never mind though, I’m sure she won’t mind.

Well, not much.

I just hope I can catch up.

 

Over-writing vs not

The last story I wrote I found that I had written far more than I needed. The result was that I cut huge areas of the story and submitted it to the competition.

It was turned down and they sent feedback. Some of the problems stemmed from the names I had given my characters (an easy fix but in a competition it was enough to get me refused) and that there were parts of the story that were irrelevant.

Huh? Was my reaction.

But I have gone back and looked at the story and they were right. There is a huge chunk that could have been cut. It isn’t needed.

That shocked me. You see, normally my writing is fairly under-written. Basically I have to add bits into the story rather than take it away. I’m comfortable with that way of writing. In fact, the book I am writing at the moment is a similar technique. I think it has more to do with the fact I am a slow writer. If I could write 100k words and then cut back 20k I would but in the same time as others take to do that I will only complete 50k. It doesn’t bother me. I am my own boss.

But sometimes I can find it frustrating. But not as bad as cutting those hard earned words from a story. As me and my editor started to take the red pen to my story I felt as if we were slashing into me. It was hard and it showed as I left a chunk in. I don’t think I can work like that. Not at the moment.

Maybe if I get faster in the future, but, for now, I shall continue to plod through my books and write the words that I seem to know automatically are needed. I just can’t afford the time to over-write.

Well, that’s a surprise…

Yesterday Dad staggered into the kitchen after feeding the chickens and he was as white as a sheet, which, considering he is half Indian, was an achievement.

“What’s up?” I asked.

“We just got new stock…”

“Huh?” I was completely confused but he led us all outside, Mum, Me and my sister’s kids, who we were babysitting at the time.

There in the field were our two sheep and another…

I know what you are thinking – that a sheep had pushed its way through our fence and we have got to go catch it and send it back.

Nope…

It is the weather’s fault. Every year we get two lambs that we keep until they are just under a year old. They are then slaughtered and we have a freezer full of meat. This year the field was muddy and the weather too warm. The sheep weren’t killed as we don’t have a fridge big enough to hang two adult sized sheep in. We waited.

We should have known.

You see our two lambs were a ‘barren’ ewe and a ram.

Our ewe is not so barren. Say hello to Lucky.

Lucky was born during the night and is a lovely black lamb. The mum is the black Welsh mountain and dad is the white Welsh mountain.

I suppose calling the lamb Lucky is bad because the lamb will have to go for slaughter once he is big enough, but his parents have been given a complete stay of execution. We have decided to keep them. They work as a unit to protect and look after little Lucky. And, as we say in our family, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

So our herd of two is going to stay and produce lambs for us. I’m just completely glad that our ewe was able to take care of it all herself. Because we hadn’t got a clue how to help if anything had gone wrong. I mean we have people we can call, but this is our first lamb to be born on the land.

And Lucky is fine. The three of them are currently in one of the field shelters with a deep bed of straw.

And Dad is no longer shocked at the new arrival.

A Customer Review!

I’m bad at marketing… In fact, I’m probably the worst. I log onto author central at Amazon maybe a few times a year.

I know… It’s terrible. I ought to be pushing my books and writing more about them. Posting them on my blog and tweeting them. Only when other writers do it I find it annoying. I suppose I ought to find a balance between loads and nothing, but it is always on a back burner. There is always something else I want to do. Something more important.

And that is bad.

So today I logged onto authors central and there was a little blip in the otherwise downward slide of one of my books. ‘The Gone’ had jumped a couple of rankings! It was up so I checked the reviews and I have one! My first on the book, and guess what… It’s 5 stars!

customer reviewSo if you fancy a good read please have a look. And remember that it is free on Kindle Unlimited.

I can’t believe I have a review! Thank you so much Kindle Customer!

The Rescue…

“It’s going down to minus seven tonight,” Dad says.

“What?” I ask. I’ve just opened my laptop to start work on a monologue for a scriptwriting competition.

“Minus seven,” he repeats.

“Damn!” I slam the laptop closed and jump to my feet.

“What?” Dad asks.

“The tomatoes!”

Now in any other house that would be an unusual statement but here Dad just nods and continues to watch telly.

I run to the back door and freeze. It’s fine to run a rescue operation as long as there is somewhere for them to go. I dash back to the airing cupboard and clean off a side. I suppose I ought to mention that the airing cupboard is actually a room with a boiler in. The room is tiny, only about 6 feet by 4 feet, but it has a massive window. We live in an old stone cottage which has window ledges about 2 feet deep, so I clear this off and get ready for the seed trays from the greenhouse.

The vegetable patch is about 150 yards away from the house. When we first moved in it was the only bit of land that wasn’t completely waterlogged. So I trundle down with a wheelbarrow. The orchard is still young and at this time of year the trees are nothing more than barren twigs. The grass is sparse and the ground semi-frozen. It is a classic winters day. The gateway into the veg patch is through a hedge of cherry trees and privet. I guess it must look like a secret garden but the reality is a walk downward. The slope isn’t steep but at this time of year I walk slowly.

Good job really. My dog, a huntaway who tops 22kg, runs past me and is followed by my mum’s ancient Westie. I push the wheelbarrow over the rise and freeze. There was my dog staring at our large Texel ram. Oh hell…

“Away!” I call out to my dog. She looks at me… She looks at the sheep and then she runs away. My sheepdog. I know I don’t work her but I had expected more than the flash of black and tan that ran past me. “Meg!” It didn’t work. She was gone.

The Westie though… He squares his tiny body to the sheep and gives a small growl. The Texel ram lowers his head and eyeballs him.

“Charlie! Heel!” I yell but there is no point, the little dog has been deaf for a while now. Instead I have to watch as the ram rushes forward and flips the small dog so he does a roll.

I’d like to say I was brave and ran down, but I didn’t.

“Dad!” I yell, and sprint back to the house. Next minute Dad is out and I have got Meg, who was hiding in the living room. This time I practically yell it. “Away!”

The odd thing is that this time she obeys. She shoots past me and I run after her. In the veg patch Meg runs toward the ram. But instead of squaring off to her he runs and jumps through the gap in the fence. Meg stops at the hole and sniffs as if to say good riddance. I slowly trundle the wheelbarrow down and fill it with the seed trays.

I sneer at the ram who is now fenced into the far paddock. I can’t wait till we eat him. Charlie gives me a look that agrees. Meg just rushes around like a loon. Shaking my head I carry on with the rescue of the tomatoes.

This is a true story… Charlie, Meg or the ram where not harmed, although Charlie did get his confidence knocked.

Research or not to research

Normally I research as I write. When a tricky subject comes up I hit the books and Google and find out what I can. Except that this slows up my writing.

A lot.

So this time I have started an experiment. I took two weeks out before I began the book, and I researched the hell out of it. I have plans of yachts and maps… I have house plans and I have visited places that I’m going to write about (the Welsh bit not the Caribbean, unfortunately) and I made a file. Then I started writing.

And I made a pact:

No more research

I don’t care what tangent my writing takes I am not to work it out. If I hit something that I don’t know then I highlight it so I can go back, but I don’t research.

What has this meant?

Well, I’m just over 20k words in and writing about 1000 words a day or more. That is faster than I normally write. So it does appear to be working. My editor looked at the first 10k words and said it was good. She even went as far as to say it was the best I’d written.

I’m not sure about that but I think it is okay. I’m enjoying writing it and I’m going to continue writing without any more researching.

The experiment continues…

Writing – is it a job?

Most of the time I think that writing is a great thing to do. I love it, but I do fight the constant worry that it isn’t a ‘real’ job. I mean, I don’t get a regular wage and I don’t have to work 9-5 every week.

I should mention that my week can actually work out with longer hours and pulling a full 7-day week.

But I still can’t think of it as a ‘real’ job.

Why?

I was chatting to a random lady yesterday (I do that) and it turns out that she is a costume designer and creator. She says to me that she has to do all the family bits and bobs, like taking the cat to the vet and picking up kids, because she doesn’t have a ‘real’ job.

This sounded like writing.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“Well, you know,” she said, “It’s because I work from home.” Then she grimaced. “But when I have a tight deadline on it can feel like I have too much to do. I’ve even had to say no to my family before now…”

She’d looked guilty then and I realised that I have felt the same. It isn’t often when I say no to having to do some kind of outing for friends or family. I just do it, no questions. No matter where I am with a book or how much work I have on.

Why?

Well, because in my own mind, I don’t have a real job. I work from home…

I thought that this feeling was because I write but it turns out that it is due to the fact that my office is in the back garden. There are loads of other cottage industries that feel the same.

Well, I have decided. Writing is a real job and I love what I do… Now if I can just stick to my guns and show everyone that it is…

That’s the tricky part.