Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Quiet Weekend

We are faced with the luxury of a whole w/end with no fixed plans. How shall we spend these precious hours? Last minute city break? Educational museum visit? Impromptu party for friends?
No. Of course not. We have a mini clear of the garage. Not a proper one, just a mini one. We, you see, know how to live.

It went as well as could be expected, we have managed to forge another path through the detritus of our lives. Between the bikes and the water-pressure cleaner (that you know, we probably WILL actually use. Probably soon.) and the car boot sale pile (not sure how it is that no matter how many I do, the pile never actually gets smaller) we can now have a clear run through to the freezer. We don't need an extra freezer. Being a veggie household means there is little call for massive freezing space. We don't have any dead carcasses to hold, but we inherited it with the house and so we keep it. Full of ice and ice packs and 1 packet of samosas from a kids party some time ago. It's main role is as a shelf for our booze. I like to have a backstock of prosecco to call on in times of need (you know; parties, barbecues, fridays). We lodge them on the freezer along with the real ale (brother-in-law), sparkling water (kids) and alcopops (sister).

I'm not sure who had the bright idea of storing bottles (breakable, glass bottles) of alcohol on top of the highest surface in the garage but it was not their finest hour. Almost inevitably one of the bacardi breezers breezed on down to the floor and smashed everywhere. This helped marital relations considerably. Stretching the final threads of goodwill that the 'squashing all the tent equipment back into it's case' hadn't already snapped. Still, we have a nice clean garage now. With the slightest hint of teenager. Yes, thats right, our garage smells like teen spirit.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Another week, another plan

Writing my to-do list today (yes, an everyday occurrence without which I would possibly slump on the sofa all day watching Ellen. Ok even with which, I sometime slump on the sofa all day watching Ellen. But then I tick it off my list which makes it better somehow) I notice that for something like the 12th week running I have the entry 'plan schedule - writing/gym/house etc'

I have tried many systems this year:

a) Writing solidly for 3 days (didn't really happen)
b) Doing all jobs/gym etc in the morning and then writing from 1pm-3pm - good in theory but often interrupted
c) Committing to x amount of hours writing a week and then trying to fit it in as and when - this was perhaps the most spectacularly unsuccessful method to date

So, here I am, almost halfway through the year and still without a weekly rota that works for me. I am wondering if any of you have any top tips? I basically need to fit in cleaning the house (about 4 hours), 3 or 4 gym sessions and the writing (which I can split into course, comps and blog). I have all day free between 9 and 3 so really have no excuses. I should be on top of everything - any tips or systems that have worked for you would be greatly appreciated.  Just for info, I waste a great deal of time on my emails, facebook and twitter accounts - I suspect that my schedule should include built in time for these. And perhaps I may need to surrender my iphone??

Friday, 10 June 2011


I really cannot keep my eyes open today. Not sure I could even read anything let alone write it!! This doesn't happen to me often but I actually wish I drank caffeine today!  Nothing exciting happened yesterday I just went to bed a little late and then woke up really early.  I blame twitter. And wine.
I'm either going to have to grab a nap or a herbal tea. Or maybe both.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Orange and Grazia Writer's Evening

Big excitement in my life last night (well, it delayed the ironing for an extra evening) when I won tickets to the above event at the Southbank Centre.

I am following both @OrangePrize and @Grazia_Live on twitter since entering their first chapter competition last month, and they both offered free tickets to people who retweeted the event. A click later and I had two tickets waiting for me at the desk. The only problem was I couldn't find anyone to go with me at such short notice so one ticket went spare - in fact, I nearly didn't go myself as I don't live in central London and the logistics of sorting travel, child care & the aforementioned ironing nearly put me off but I'm so glad they didn't!

Kate Mosse (Labyrinth, Sepulchre etc) was hosting and for the first part of the evening she interviewed Sadie Jones (The Outcast & Small Wars).  The audience was quite small but a show of hands showed that of those attending around 90% claimed to be writers (I kind of hovered my hand half up around my shoulder embarrassingly). Kate was an amazing host - I wasn't a great fan of the book of hers that I read but she was articulate and succinct, funny and definitely inspiring. I think I might try another of her books after all. Sadie was honest and informative but didn't look as if interviews were her favourite choice of evening activity. In fact, she looked like a dinner guest wondering how the hell they ended up on Come Dine With me, but being far too polite to say so.

They were joined for the second half by an agent, publisher & another author Jean Kwok who is Waterstones featured new writer for June (Girl In Translation). She was amazing, and had a great story. She had some short story success when younger and had an agent in New York. She relocated to Holland and took 10 years to write this book - sent it to her agent, and he passed on it! She said it was such a shock, but she put the book away for a month, got it out again and re-read it and realised she believed in it. She then made a list of the TOP agents in the US, emailed the first one a query letter and had a reply within 20 minutes asking for the MS.

The main message of the evening that I took away was the product has to be good. It was fascinating to hear from the agent and publisher their perspective.  As one of them put it "I'm not looking to fall in love, but it's worth it when I do." The final section was a question and answer session which the audience made great use of! Again, they reiterated the importance of the talent, the agent stated that her job was to look after the clients she already had - finding new blood was what happened at evenings and weekends!

It was such a rewarding evening, I bought Sadie and Jean's new books and came home on the train clutching these signed copies and my copious notes! As I tweeted to Orange & Grazia in my thank you - I felt in equal parts inspired and inadequate!

Monday, 6 June 2011

Update Grazia Comp

If any of you entered the Grazia / Orange first chapter competition then look out tomorrow as they are apparently announcing the winners and the short list. Over 1000 entrants and a shortlist of 13 so well done to the lucky ones whoever they are. Especially the overall winner who will be receiving her prize (£1k) at the actual Orange Book Awards on Weds night. Imagine! :-)