Tuesday, 4 December 2012

A Toast to Success

Those of you who have been following So You Think You Can Write will know that the winner was announced last week. Seeing someone achieve their dream is great, but to know that person and to have been with them on at least part of their journey just makes it all the more wonderful.

Jennifer and I met two years ago in The Watermill whislt on a Romance Writing course run by Sharon Kendrick. It was one of the best weeks ever, the group was fantastic - and of course we were in Tuscany!

Here's Jen's call.

So all that's left for me to say is..

 Good Luck Jen!

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Lots of Writing News

So far this month it has been busy and not just on the farm, but with writing. At the beginning of the month, myself and two friends stayed in an old cottage in the heart of the Welsh countryside. The weather ranged from sunshine, to mist and to heavy rain, but whilst the sun shone we walked out up the hills - the only place to get a mobile signal!

Most of the time we were warm and cosy inside, brainstorming ideas and reading over our writing. We also ate lovely food and drank good wine.

The next bit of news is that Cwrtnewydd Scribblers has just released its latest anthology, Teapots and Tiaras, and its available from the website or on kindle.

Finally, I'm really excited to be able to say that a friend of mine, Jennifer Drogell, is in the top three of So You Think You Can Write Competition. Her story, The Divorce Party, can be viewed and voted for here

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Autumn's Arrival

Well, summer really is over, the swallows and house martins have gone and the pesky starlings are arriving in big numbers each day. Blackberries in the hedgerows are passing over and the leaves fall the the ground, carpeting everything in shades of golden brown. Autumn is here and we didn't see much of summer!

On the writing front I'm in the middle of a new story and enjoying my characters and trying to dig ever deeper.
It's also competition time with the So You Think You Can Write competition entering its next stage and I'm thrilled to know several of the top 28! Good luck to you all.
The Romance Writers of Australia's competition season started in August with the High Five and goes on into April next year when it ends with the Valerie Parv Award. These competitions are worth entering as each entrant receives score sheets with feedback from the judges. Brilliant to find out what you got right - as well as wrong.

My local writing group, Cwrtnewydd Scribblers, is also preparing to publish its next anthology, which this year again includes winners from our short story competition.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Back through the ages

Last week I went to Dinefwr Park with historical author Judith Arnopp. Even though this magnificent park is near to where I live I'd never been. So on a beautifully sunny day, armed with a picnic and our cameras we set off. Even the entrance to the park is grand, a long road through the park where White Park cattle graze. We also caught a glimpse of one of the deer, roaming amid the ferns in the Medieval Deer Park, but he was too quick for us to get a photo of him!

The castle dates back to the 12th century and offered spectacular views. We climbed narrow spiral steps to reach the top of the towers and spent several hours exploring all the small passageways and corners, wondering what it must have once been like.

In the afternoon we went to Newton House, originally built in the 1660's, but now displaying the Victorian stone facade after extensive remodelling.
Inside the house was a WWII exhibition, with rooms set out as they would have been when the house was used as a hospital. One of my favourite rooms was the Drawing room, complete with 1940's music.

It was a great day out and a fantastic place to draw inspiration from. I shall definitely be going back for another visit.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

A Way With Words

Each Monday I meet with writing friends and together we are known as Cwrtnewydd Scribblers. Our latest collection of short stories has just been published on Kindle.

Our latest competition closed at the end of July and judging is taking place now, with the winners to be included in a next collection, due out later this year. If you missed this look out for our next competition in the new collection.

So if you are a short story reader why not give our collection a try?It's free to download at the moment. Get it here.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

RNA Conference

It's hard to believe that this time last week I was in Penrith for the Romantic Novelists' Association annual conference. The weather was kind to us and the sun shone for most of the weekend. This was the view from my room on the day I arrived and the sky looked as blue nearly all weekend.

On friday I had the all important meeting with editors from Mills and Boon and was pleased they liked my first chapter. On Saturday the day was started with a talk from Talli Roland about on-line marketing for writers which was extremely useful. Mills and Boon editors also did a talk, again really useful. The weekend passed so fast and so much was packed in. Not to mention the Gala dinner on Saturday evening where we all get dressed up and shoes to wow are a must. See the RNA blog for shoes.

Sadly Sunday arrived and I had a train to catch, for the long journey home. I did have to play the game of 'how many can fit in a carriage' on the way home and wondered briefly if I was on the London underground at rush hour instead of a rural line into Wales.

Last week has been total madness on the farm, due to the sun finally putting in an appearance. All my good intentions of writing, writing, writing had to be put aside, but as the silage harvest catches up I hope to hide away and write - lots!

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Acorns to Oaks

I can't believe that it's been over a month since I last posted anything here, and that it has rained just about every day too. Sometimes excessively!

I have been writing during that time - honestly! It was pointed out at my local writing group, Cwrtnewydd Scribblers, that I need to amend my blog. So I have removed the word 'aspiring' from my blog title. It's true that I'm still aspiring to be published by Mills and Boon, but I have now completed six manuscripts and made three submissions, all with promising feedback. I've also had an article published in farmingscotland.com and with my writing group we have published several anthologies, all of which make me a writer.

'Mighty oaks from little acorns' is a proverb that springs to mind. Becoming a  published writer isn't something that happens overnight, but over the last few years I've been putting down my roots just like this little oak sapling.

This weekend I'll be making the long journey to Penrith for the RNA conference, where I'll be able to fill my whole weekend with writing and being with other writers. Can't wait!

Monday, 28 May 2012

Passing Flame

The picturesque seaside town of Aberaeron yesterday buzzed with excitement as people came to see the Olympic Torch pass through the town.
An hour before the torch itself arrived the entourage of vehicles accompanying it passed through the town, now full of people all waiting for a glimpse of history in the making.

A Welsh Cob was used in the first part of the relay through the town, then it was passed to the runners and finally, as the sun was smothered by clouds and rain began to fall I caught the first glimpse of the flame. In the picture below, between the bus and the lorry, as if protected by the red umbrella, is the flame!

Everyone cheered as the flame passed by and jostled for position to get a photograph of it.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Here Comes Summer.

Well I hope so anyway. It's still a grey and overcast day as I look out of the window, but the signs are all there. The Swallows returned several weeks ago and are busy raising new families in the eaves of the stable. Soon after they were followed by the House Martins who are in total awe of the amount of mud around after all the rain and are building nests everywhere.

Another sign summer is approaching is the day the cows go out after being in all winter. Normally they have all the time in the world to amble along at their own pace, yet the day they go out for summer they buck and frolic like little lambs and gallop along at great speed.

On a writing front I'm looking forward to attending the RNA conference in July, which this year is in Penrith. Then at the end of summer in early October I'll be heading for one of my favourite places - The Watermill, Tuscany.

Just imagine a whole week in such a beautiful location, with fabulous food and the company of other writers. The course tutor is Kate Walker and having attended her weekend courses in Fishguard I'm really looking forward to this course.

I am also preparing my current work in progress for submission to the New Writers' Scheme and then I can start a new story which is just begging to be written.

What are you looking forward to this summer, or as some of my readers are in Australia, what are you looking forward to as winter arrives?

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Busy, busy, busy!

As a writer, I find it difficult when life gets in the way, leaving me very little time to write. All sorts of things crop up that stop me putting words down. Life on the farm has been really busy lately, with far too much paperwork to do, but when animals need attention that has to come first. Thankfully now, the really busy period is passing and I can finally get back to doing something other than scribbling late at night.

Today it's a beautiful day. I do wonder though if summer has come early. I just hope it doesn't disappear and never come back. I took this photo this morning, but it will be such a different view once the trees have their leaves out. Can't wait!

At the beginning of the month I did manage to get away for a weekend with writers I'd met at The Watermill. We all spent the weekend in an old farm house that dated back in parts to the 1600's. It was a brilliant weekend where we discussed our work in progress. It was great fun having brainstorming sessions on new ideas.

The old farm house, part of the Landmark Trust, was fascinating, with a narrow twisting staircase leading up to the bedrooms, open fires and an old barn that still had stalls for the animals that once lived there.

The views were amazing and the sun shone although it was quite a bit colder then. We even woke to a dusting of snow on Sunday.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

A weekend by the sea.

Last weekend I was in Fishguard attending a romance writing workshop with Kate Walker. As usual it was a brilliant weekend and once I arrived home I became immersed in my latest story, dealing with the areas that needed more work - as well as trying to do my jobs on the farm.

The sun shone after a wet Saturday morning, but ensconced inside, learning all I could to make my writing better, I didn't mind. It was a great group and we all helped and encouraged each other.

So if you fancy a weekend away, immersing yourself in your writing, then Fishguard is the place for you. If romance isn't your genre, then maybe one of the other courses offered like poetry, short stories even painting, might be just right for you. How can you resist a view like this? I know I can't and I'll be there again next February.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

It started with a ....

Valentine's Day. Where did it start?

One of the answers I've come across is that it began in Rome during the third century. Emperor Claudius II wanted to fill his army but many men were unwilling to leave their wives to join the army. So the Emperor decided to ban marriage hoping it would create a whole army of single men willing to join. What he hadn't bargained on was a priest, Valentine, who continued to perform the banned marriages until the day he was caught.
The jailer's daughter visited him often before he was executed for his crime. On the day of his death, 14th February 269AD he is said to have left her a note, signed, love from your Valentine.

Have a Happy Valentine's Day!

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Passionate Flamenco, Culture and Writing

Last week I travelled to Madrid to visit a friend I'd met whilst attending Sharon Kendrick's writing course at The Watermill two years ago. After leaving behind a snowy landscape I was a little surprised to see most people bundled up in scarves and gloves as we headed into the centre of Madrid for Tappas, but believe it or not, it was only marginally warmer there than back at home.
We treated ourselves to a night out at a Flamenco Tablao, where we had a fantastic meal and watched in awe as the dancers performed with passion and unbelievable energy.

We also visited the famous Prada Museum. Here we concentrated on paintings by several of Spain's artists, Bosch, Velazquez and Goya. Also we went to Museum Reina Sofia to see Picasso's Guernica. All of this opening up a whole new world to me.

I enjoyed strolling through Madrid's Retiro park, despite the cold and wished I'd been fast enough to get a photograph of the red squirrels as they scampered up and down the trees. The boating lake behind us looks very cold now, but must be fun in the summer.

In the middle of the week we took a train to Seville, where it was quite a bit warmer. There we saw the city from an open top bus and then visited the majestic Seville Cathedral. My favourite place was the orangery, where workers were trimming the trees, filling the warm sunny air with the beautiful scent of oranges.

It wasn't all play. As both of us are writers working hard towards publication, we settled down each day to some serious work and I was pleased to arrive back in a frosty Britain having written lots.

Friday, 13 January 2012

It's a Beautiful Day!

Finally the dreary wet weather has gone here in Wales and this morning it was a beautiful mix of sunshine and mist.
It is also Friday 13th, a day linked with lots of superstition and bad luck, yet today is crammed full with things I shouldn't be wanting to do on Friday 13th -if I were really superstitious. Our cat is at the moment in the vets with an abscess on her face, the farrier is shoeing the ponies and my daughter is about to leave Austria on a twenty-four hour bus ride after a week of skiing with the school. So I suppose I'm not really superstitious, but I always count magpies and never walk under a ladder?

It's also said a bird leaving a message on you is good luck, and with hundreds of starlings with us at the farm each winter I'm often the recipient of such messages and did in fact receive several whilst walking the dog this morning! With this good luck in mind, I'm reading over my synopsis and first chapter ready for a course with Kate Walker in Fishguard next month and on her blog today are more venues and dates if you want to take a course with Kate.