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Why I’m not doing NaNoWriMo this year

I usually weigh up the amount of time I have and the key ideas I have for a story then decide I can complete NaNoWriMo, even if it means neglecting my family. However this year I have decided to be a bit more pragmatic. I will not being taking part in NaNoWriMo, but not due to time available or lack of ideas. I have come to realise that I cannot keep starting new projects and leave myself with a pile of unfinished and unedited work. This year, instead of starting a new novel, I will be passing ‘A Close Shave with Destiny’ through ProWritingAid as my final piece of editing for the novella. That should mean that I can get it realised for Christmas or just after. Unfortunately it will not be beta read as my beta readers all lead busy lives and have not managed to have a look at the book. At least, though, it should be one project I can tick off. I will still be writing ‘Islands of Hope’ so expect weekly updates to continue. All in all then, although I am not competing in NaNoWriMo this year, something good will come out of it.

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Why Moana is the Disney princess our daughters should want to be

Moana

Moana is the role model I would like my daughter to look up to, not a princess with pretty dresses and no brain

Well this is a strange post for me, I am not a massive Disney fan and I shy away from any of their princess stuff. Maybe I am heading into that territory as I have a daughter now.

Anyhow, on with the post. We recently went to Granny and Grandad’s house where we found that Granny had recorded Moana to watch with the kids. After having seen parts of Frozen and being left very cold (pun most definitely intended!) I was not exactly excited at the prospect. My only other knowledge of Disney princesses had been the twee loved up sort who seem happy to be subservient as long as they get to marry the handsome prince, live in a big castle and be supplied with beautiful dresses. The sort of rubbish that stereotypes little girls and almost tells them that material goods are the most important thing. Strangely the only Disney princess movie I have every really wanted to watch is Mulan and I have never seen that one. I am guessing it is different to the others.

Basically I ducked out of the viewing of Moana and was then bombarded with how brilliant it was. I had to watch it so I could at least make jokes at the movie’s expense. However, when I watched it I actually thought it was pretty good. Yeah it is cutsie in parts and there is a lot of singing but it was fun and the songs are actually quite good. The thing that struck me most was the lack of a love story. Moana is not there to marry a pretty man, she is there to save her people. She is more like batman than a princesses (which is awesome!). She is strong, determined and intelligent as well as having a heart by caring for her family and friends. These are the attributes I would like my daughter to have not just a wardrobe of pretty clothes (although she can have that as well if she can afford it).

Moana is also not overpowered, her strength and speed are in balance with how it would be in real life. She just uses her intelligence and determination to get jobs done. Apart from the fact she is a cartoon, she is a real female and a positive role model for girls. I think the thing that makes the writing of her so strong is that Disney have thought about what makes a good character and not a stereotypical girl. She is not full of the classic princesses but also is not all girl power. In fact, if you got the two main characters of Moana and Maui and changed their genders it would not change the story one bit. In my opinion that is great writing. Yes there are some nuances that only males and females have but I would rather see well written characters in general rather then a well written man or well written women.

So, something I do not say very often, well done Disney. Moana is the princess that young girls need to show they can do whatever they want, not with flitting eyelids and feminine charms but with intelligence and determination. I get the feeling that Disney’s response to this would be, “you’re welcome!”

Finally, a film can’t be bad if it has the line, “oh I see what she did, she covered a barnacle in bio-luminescent algae,” in it! I seriously laughed for about ten minutes after that one!

 

 

 

 

Rejection doesn’t hurt when you’re a pessimist

I final submitted a short story to an online and print based magazine. It is a strange story that is a little sci-fi but not really and a little fantasy but not really. It moves away from character and focuses on implied mysticism. Safe to say that finding an appropriate magazine to submit it to was a challenge. The one I found focused on left field sci-fi. I suppose I really did not expect it to get in so when it was rejected I was not surprised, even when it got rejected for the reasons I thought it would. However, I thought I would be hurt when that happened but I am really not. Maybe it is because I know other people get rejected all the time or the fact that there are more magazines out there I can submit to. It could even be that I know I can independently release it through Smashwords or Kindle and it won’t cost me a penny (although it may also not get read). The thing that did frustrate me, though, is that many places that want short stories like ones that are about people and are a bit quirky. They call it contemporary but I call it things I don’t want to write about! That is why it is so hard to find a place for some of my writing. It is almost a little too mainstream whilst being not mainstream enough. So the search for my place in the market goes on.

I think another area that helps me is that I see myself as a hobbyist author. I have a full-time job and only write because I enjoy it, therefore if writing gets me nowhere it is no skin off my nose. As long as one person reads and likes my stories then I have an audience. Plus I will subject my children to my writing when they are older! So, being a pessimist has not always helped me but I do feel with writing it does. Robin McKinley said ‘Write what you want to read. The person you know best in this world is you.’ I write stories that I want to read so as long as I keep doing that I will be happy.

So what next for my short story? I will submit it to a few more magazines and if it goes nowhere expect it on Smashwords for free in the near future.

Helping in a Library

Love_the_Library_logo_3[1]Maybe it is because I am now an avid reader, maybe it is because I write, maybe it is just because I have grown up but recently I have found helping in a library to be quite therapeutic. It is coming to the end of the year at the school I am teaching at and, as per usual with a set of children not understanding the intricacies of library systems, the books are a mess on the shelves. There are Rs in the B section, junior fiction in the senior section and some children do not realise that RAN comes before REB! I decided to help organise the books, helping to work out what was missing and putting them back in the right places. Apart from the fact that I have now found a few more books I would like to read (not good as I already have a massive book pile!), I found that I enjoyed putting them in order. Maybe it is actually the authoritarian in me! As a child I would have found the monotonous task a little soul-destroying but now I am having fun. I tried to think about why and I feel that as a writer I am helping other writers by doing this work. I am also giving a little back to the readers (the few I have!). It almost feels like I am doing the dirty work again, the first step on a longer journey as if I am now some sort of apprentice. It is almost like the first stage is to organise the books, next is to scan them out, then I can read them and finally I can move on to writing my own. It is a strange and weird feeling. In many ways this is a bit of a pointless post but I would really like to promote helping out in a library, even just for one day. As a writer let’s give a little back to the readers and the general community. Oh yeah, another good reason is that there is a sense of power in using the scanner as well, like I am lord of the books. “Why is this late?” “Have you tried this book?” “Where are you going, that book has not been scanned?” Right, I will get of my high horse now and attempt to finish my editing so I can release one of the many manuscripts I have sitting in Google Docs, just as soon as I have moved Tolkien before Tolstov!

Writing – where I’m at!

It is about half way through the year so I thought I would do an update on where I am with writing, not that it is really interesting. It may seem like I am not releasing much other than the odd poem or piece of flash fiction, probably because that is true. However, despite my apparent lack of writing I am actually working harder than ever to get things ready. Yes work is hectic and yes I do have two small children but I have my phone at my side and a lot of the time it is in my hand so I can edit. This is really starting to annoy my wife who just wants to have a conversation with me! That and the fact I have recently got a Nintendo Switch and Call of the Wild means I am no more than an enigma at the moment!

Right, on to specifics. Firstly, if you did not know already, I have finished editing ‘A Close Shave with Destiny.’ It is now with my beta readers, I have three but they are not professional editors or beta readers for a living so are doing me a favour. They also have busy lives so feedback is coming in slowly. When they have read it and final changes made it will be published through CreateSpace and on Kindle.

The novel I wrote for NaNoWriMo, ‘The Fifth Coin,’ is at the editing stage. I am about two-thirds through my first pass and am pretty happy at the moment. My new plan is to finish the editing then send it to a few publishers. When I get the obligatory rejection letters I will go ahead and publish it myself.

I have an idea for a children’s novel too but at the moment I am using all my willpower not to start it. Too many of my projects are half done before I flit onto the next thing. I am determined to get some writing finished so am focusing on editing before moving on. That said I do have ideas for more flash fiction to be included in ‘The First Flash of Hope.’ I am holding off on those as well until my first pass of ‘The Fifth Coin’ is complete then I can do a flash fiction or two before going on to stage 2 of editing my novel.

So there you go, I am still writing and I am being productive. With summer holidays coming soon I may even become more productive (although I will be spending most of it with the kids!). Just hang in there, I will be releasing stuff soon enough, I promise.

End of year review 2016 (here we go again!)

So here we are again, at the end of another year and once more, like nearly all writers, I am doing a look back at the year blog post and, in terms of writing, what a year it has been. Right, after that  really long sentence let’s begin.

I always start off by reviewing my targets from the year. I specifically kept them simple in 2016 to avoid disappointment and another year of failure, simply put all I planned to do was ‘do some writing’ and I certainly did that. It is probably clearer to look at my three successes…

 

Poetry – as you may know I am bad at poetry, but that has never stopped me writing it! I managed a whopping six new poems that included topics such as Nintendo, love, Star Wars and not being able to write well. I have never had a repository for my poetry so decided to make one rather that it just sitting on this blog. That meant that ‘Bad Poetry you probably never want to read’ was born. I popped in my older poems that were on this site along with the new ones. As it is a work in progress it is only available on wattpad at the moment. You can read it here. There was to be a seventh poem for the year but nanowrimo took over and it was abandoned. Please feel free to ignore my poetry but if you do read it can you leave a review? It can be good or confirm my belief that I am terrible at the medium.

A Close Shave with Destiny – I finally finished my first draft of the story I started in October 2015 for Movember. It turned from a 5000 word short story to a nearly 40,000 word novelette. I finished it just before the start of nanowrimo so it still needs a proofread and a cover created. Expect it out in paperback and ebook format in 2017.

The Fifth Coin – this was my story for nanowrimo, which I am happy to say I won thanks to sticking very close to the target daily word count. I really like the story and have pushed myself to keep writing it in December, although not at nano pace. I am now on 60,000ish words and only have three chapters to write to finish the first draft, two of which I am already half way through. I hope to have it out next year as well.

 

So overall nothing published but a lot of words down, the most in any one year. This is largely thanks to Google docs which allows me to write from anywhere. I often sit for five minutes and add the odd hundred words which does add a little to a novel and keeps you in the flow. In fact I am writing this blog post on Google docs on my phone whilst my daughter is asleep in my arms.

Right on to next year, there is a lot I would like to do but the ‘just write something’ idea worked really well this year so I am keeping it. That said, in an ideal work ‘A Close Shave with Destiny’ and ‘The Fifth Coin’ would be published and I would have started work on something else as well as a few more poems being released. We will see though!

Thank you to everyone who has supported me this year, I look forward to 2017 in the hope that it is good for writing. Thank you to new followers through the media hop set up by Raimey Gallant, I do look at your posts even if I rarely comment. I do hope you enjoy this blog and find it useful. Anyway, to every out there good luck in whatever you do next year, unless it involves hurting kittens, then I am afraid I cannot condone it!

I found inspiration in a bear!

first-dreams-bear

The bear that gave me inspiration. But what is the song called?

I love the fact that people find inspiration in the strangest of places. Recently I won NaNoWriMo (as if you could not tell!) and in the dark times my inspiration came from the strangest place. I headed back to my homeland of Guernsey to visit family just before NaNo started. As it was the first time some of my family were meeting my six month old daughter I got showered with gifts, well they were all for her or her three year old brother! One of the gifts was a pink bear that played music, I have since searched on the Internet to find out is it the Chicco First Dreams Baby Bear. There is a blue and pink version, we have pink but that adds nothing to the story! The bear projects stars, that change colour, onto the ceiling and plays classical music. We put it on each night when we rock my daughter to sleep. Not that inspirational at the moment but something magical happened and I did not realise it at first. There was one tune, a soft melody that made me think of sadness but with hope. It was not until about a week into NaNo that I realised it was creating images in my head, these images were ones from the novel I was writing but it was more than that, it was like I was sat waiting for my wife to start a DVD. There was the main menu playing this tune and on the screen were parts of my story playing out like a move. Each night it seemed to be about what I had just written or what I was about to write. That bear, that melodic tune got me out of a few sticky situations, when I did not know how to link two sections of the book together or how a certain character would react to a situation. As soon as it came on, and still now as I finish the novel I started for NaNoWriMo, I wanted to write, I had the itch, I had the ideas. I just had to get my daughter to sleep first!

The only frustrating thing is that I do not know what the song is called and I can not find anywhere on the web that tells you. I am not going to sift through every classic song to find it. One thing I do know is that if my novel ever becomes a film and we are about to release a DVD (probably will all be blu-ray by then!) I will want that song as the tune on the menu. I can see it now, sat in a meeting about the movie with a child’s pink bear blurting out songs till we get to the right one. “That one,” I’ll shout, “that’s the menu song!” Suppose I better stop dreaming and finish writing the novel then!