Wednesday, 7 October 2015

What's next?

It's the first Wednesday of the month, so time for the Insecure Writer's Support Group. If you're a writer who's insecure, do join up. (If you're a totally secure writer, please tell us how you managed that)

My current insecurities are over what to do next. My new novel is finished and waiting for its official launch. All that's left for me to do now is some promotion. Then what?

Do I start a new one? NaNo is coming up, so I could do that again. Or maybe I should try to finish one of those I've stalled on? Perhaps I'd be better off taking a break from longer works and concentrating on articles, or short stories or competitions?

I could even try some poetry. I won't, but I could.

How do you decide what to focus your time and attention on?

Monday, 5 October 2015


Today I'm interviewing my friend, editing guru Anne Rainbow, to learn more about the madness which is NaNo.

Anne, rumour has it that you, and loads of other people, are going to try to write a novel in November - not just start it, but actually write it. Is this true?
Spot on, Patsy. Hundreds of thousands of Wrimos – writers from all over the world – take part in this annual extravaganza called NaNoWriMo. I can’t wait!

I know you can write and I’m sure lots of the other participants can too, but if you write a whole novel in just one month, isn’t it going to be a bit … um… rubbish?
By the end of November, I'll have 50K words – maybe as many as 100K – and that’s a great start. During those thirty days, I’ll have writing lows but I know from experience that these will be eclipsed by many more writing highs. When I'm in the 'zone’ - which comes from writing every day and having a daily target - my mind races and my fingers fly. For me, no matter how many words I accumulate, it’s never a finished-perfect-polished novel. It’s the best I can manage though, in those 30 days.

Why the heck would anyone do it then?
NANO is the perfect motivator. It’s like doing a marathon. If you’ve never run one before, taking the first step is the challenge: signing up for it. Committing yourself to the journey takes more courage than putting one foot after the other. Same with NANO. Step 1, Register. Before you know, you’re being swept along! Step 2: join a region. Step 3: turn up at a Kick Off meeting. Step 4: start planning. Come midnight on 31 October – yes, we start as soon as the clock finishes chiming midnight and it’s officially 1 November - bang goes the gun and you’re off.
Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month
For me, the thirty days of November are more fun than Christmas or my birthday or any holiday jaunt. Normally, I fit my writing in around other responsibilities: running a house, new husband, family and friends. During NANO, I turn my world upside down. It’s the annual opportunity to express myself in novel form – and to give my creative writing priority over everything else. Everything!

Have you started any planning or anything like that?
Usually, I’m what’s called a pantser; the big day arrives and I pray for inspiration. Earlier this year, I discovered Scrivener and realised how writing with this magnificent software tool would result in a better organised draft. Everything in one place. Easier to write in November. Easier to edit, whenever that happens! So, I am adopting a different approach for NANO 2015. I already have a story idea and I’m all geared up to writing my 'Safari Supper' novel, using Scrivener. My ScrivenerVirgin blog reports on my progress. Anyone else new to Scrivener, or to NANO is welcome to tag along. No charge!

What tips do you have for anyone who’s tempted to join in with NaNo?
Go for it! Nothing to lose. Although perhaps I should add a health warning. NANO is addictive; I have the T-shirt, literally  - and I’m hooked on doing NANO each year. I first took part in 2009. Having burst through the 50K barrier with that draft novel, I then wore the mantle of  ML for Devon and Cornwall for a while. MLs – that’s short for Municipal Liaison - look after a region. This year, I’m not an ML, but I am supporting fellow Wrimos through free online webinars. You don’t need to live near me; you could be anywhere in the world and it’ll cost nothing but your time. My KickOff Webinar will be on 26 October – and other webinars will be scheduled during November and early December.

And afterwards? Do we just delete the whole thing, or is there any chance it could become a book worth reading?
Delete? Never! My advice is to spend December chilling out and reconnecting with your world, outside of writing. For me, January is all about completing my tax return and then the year slips by. At some point, May, June, July, I make myself a cup of coffee and read my NANO draft. Having created distance through time, I can look at it objectively. Then, the editing starts. Out with my Red Pen!

I know you and your Red Pen - you don’t just mean a biro of that colour, do you?
No, although there’s nothing to stop anyone using one for the purpose! No, Red Pen is the editing system I devised some ten years ago. Anyone can sign up for the free weekly Red Pen newsletter for editing tips, and there’s also an option to invest in training opportunities and mentoring.

Where do people go for all that?

Check out my ScrivenerVirgin blog at … where you can sign up for all the webinars and newsletters mentioned. The ScrivenerVirgin blog posting which is coming soon, will have all the details for NANO.

Anne's talked me into having a go (though I may 'cheat' and work on a novel I've already started). Anyone else tempted?

Saturday, 3 October 2015

A visit from Mac

Mac Wheeler has just published his 28th novel. Twenty-eigth!!! Just hearing that means I have to go for a lie down, so I'll leave him to tell you about his latest and the other books in his 6 ways series.

Book 3 of the 6 Ways Series

At eighteen it’s tough to decide a life path when the threat of pandemic hangs over the world, your brother is the genius who engineered the plague, and you’re repeatedly drawn into the fight against the terrorists spreading it. Plenty of people would kill an Abernathy on sight so it would be wise for Mar to visit the dojo, otherwise play invisible, but her brother is manipulating her into another adventure.

If you haven't read Book 1 or 2, and like to start at the beginning...

Alcoholic parents treated Margarite as an unwelcome stranger, then left her at fourteen with her thirty year old autistic brother. At sixteen, things really sour, thanks to her brother. A medical researcher, Reggie engineers the ultimate plague. Fanatics seek to control him. The government pursues them as terrorists. Margarite witnesses ruthlessness, compassion, and competence she couldn't imagine from her brother, but the world needs a miracle. The best she and Reggie can do is wing it.

Nightmares. Panic attacks. Depression. Margarite is hammered by the typical issues of a seventeen year old loner, whose parents sympathized with insane people intending to collapse civilization. The few who care about Mar have more concerns. Her drinking. Fighting. Jumping out of airplanes.

Her brother engineered the plague that’s breaking out across the globe and she holds a little guilt for not stopping it. Or being one of the first to die. Still, conspirators behind what they call The Correction are not done with her.

The Author
R. Mac Wheeler writes about characters with a lot of baggage, men who make many men look like wimps, tough chicks that can whip most men...puts them in situations that push them to the worlds that don’t overly stretch the imagination.

A former IT professional,  he now focuses full time on suspense, paranormal, science fiction, and fantasy  that leverages the quirkiness and baggage of real life more often than the far fetched.

Visit his Home Page: WWW.RMACWHEELER.COM

Friday, 2 October 2015

Have a word

Words mag offer regular free to enter writing competitions. (I was shortlisted in the June 'murder' one.)

The next one has an open theme and a deadline of the end of the year. First prize £50.

Wednesday, 30 September 2015


Rich means having lots of money, or other items of value. It can mean splendid, costly or elaborate eg richly decorated or patterned. Alternatively it's used to describe abundance. eg My mind contains a rich supply of story ideas.

Soil which is rich contains plenty of nutrients and is very fertile. Richness in our own food comes from fat or spices. Engines can have too rich a fuel and air mix.

Sounds, scents and colours are often described as rich when they're heavy, full or deep.

The phrase that's rich is sometimes used to convey the idea something is considered outrageous, ludicrous or extremely amusing.

Do you have any riches?

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Fattening up

No not me (like I'd tell you anyway) I'm referring to my article in the November issue of Writing Magazine, which will be in the shops any day now.

As well as my, not entirely serious, piece there's lots of good advice in this issue, especially for those who're considering trying NaNo.

There are loads of writing competitions listed too.

Sunday, 27 September 2015


If you're interested in learning to edit your own writing, take a look at my friend Anne Rainbow's new website.

I've been using her RedPen system for about ten years and find it very helpful.

Friday, 25 September 2015


This competition is for a first crime novel and has a $10,000 advance as the prize. It's a mystery how I've managed it, but I've given you lots of notice for this one. You have until mid December to get your story polished and submitted.

This is St Catherine's oratory in the Isle of Wight. It was built as penance for a crime.

Yep, it does seem almost criminal the way I sneak my holiday pictures into almost every post, but there's nothing you can do to stop me. Mwa ha ha ha ha!

Wednesday, 23 September 2015


An idyll is a simple, happy and peaceful situation or period of time, or picturesque scene or incident. Often they're rustic, rural or romantic (or all three). It can also mean a poem or other artwork which describes something so idyllic. Some of the places we visit with our van are idyllically suited to my becoming an idyllist.