At the beginning of the year, one of my crit groups decided to write down some things we wanted to achieve this year. One of mine was to be braver and put my writing out in the public eye. I have started to enter more competitions and had some small successes, but I have decided to go a step further. There is now a new page on my blog where I will put up some of the pieces I submitted for competition. That feels VERY brave to me!
I was absolutely delighted to receive a Highly Commended from Beverley Birch with my first entry into a Hampshire Writers Society competition. It’s the last story on the page, but please read all the others before you scroll down to my piece. There are some great stories here. I have also added it to the Writing page of my blog, so you can look here if you would prefer.
Beverley Birch was shortlisted three times for the Branford Boase Award in recognition of the editor’s role in nurturing new talent and, as a prolific author, she was also nominated for the Carnegie medal. Hampshire Writers’ Society is most appreciative to Beverley, who graciously came to our rescue by agreeing to be our April adjudicator as well as our speaker. In return, our members managed to supply entries that made it difficult for her to choose the usual two highly commended places. The competition, ‘Write a children’s story, inspired by a well-known story for children’, meant that after choosing 1st, 2nd and 3rd place, Beverley was unable to decide and ended up choosing four additional pieces to praise.
1st Place: Cass Morgan – Mrs Bilious
2nd Place: Kristin Tridimas – A Koala Named Sydney
3rd Place: Matthew Cross – George and the Dragon
Highly Commended: Annie…
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If I spent less time on the internet, scrolling through Twitter to find links to fabulous blog posts like this one from Catherine Ryan Howard (no relation, to the best of my knowledge) maybe I’d have a better chance to do this. I’m just too good at procrastination!
There are some really useful, practical, sensible tips in this article from Kimberly Willis Holt. Now I just have to (a) remember them and (b) try to put them into practice. Why do I think it’s not going to be as easy as it sounds?
I like a quiet life. There – I’ve confessed. I’m not much of an adventurer or a party animal. I enjoy the occasional concert, movie or trip to the theatre. I like going for walks, curling up with a book, eating nice food, listening to music, snuggling and cuddling. I DO NOT LIKE FIREWORKS … OR BALLOONS … OR ANYTHING THAT GOES BANG.
My plan this evening was to sit at the dining room table with my laptop and catch up with some outstanding assignments on the Blogging 101 course I’m doing. Instead I’m sat on the floor, tapping one-handed on the keyboard, trying to calm to dogs who are shaking and drooling with fear because some (insert your expletive of choice here) is setting off fireworks at 6:30 on a Saturday night.
My dogs are usually pretty chilled (check the picture of Tucker) but fireworks send them to pieces. On the evenings when you usually expect fireworks (Bonfire Night, New Year) we make sure all the blinds and curtains are drawn, have the TV on extra loud and even give them some medication to try to help them relax. I’ve not found anything that works totally, but it does take the edge off things for them. Events like tonight when the bangs and flashes are unexpected and unannounced give me, other pet owners, parents of nervous children and anxious people who are spooked by loud noises no chance to prepare or protect ourselves or our loved ones.
Our Blogging 101 assignment was to include a ‘new to you’ element and to address it to your ideal audience. In the ordinary scheme of things, my ideal audience would have been agents, editors and publishers of books for children but, today, my ideal audience is anyone who sends up fireworks and my ‘new’ thing is a plea to you to think twice before sending up a rocket or lighting a Catherine Wheel. They look pretty, but to lots of people and creatures they can be terrifying.
If you have read any of my previous posts you will know that I am not an experienced blogger. Nor am I confident in my ability to maintain a steady flow of reasonable content without (a) losing interest — mine and my followers, and (b) finding myself spending so much time on this and other social media that my writing and home life get pushed to one side. Now add to that list of real and imagined shortcomings one hard fact – I DON’T KNOW WHAT I’M DOING!
The timing of an invitation from WordPress to join Blogging 101 couldn’t have come at a better time. As far as I can see it is formed of a week of supported challenges which will teach me many of the basics of blogging whilst also giving some suggestions for content – so here I am on Day 1. It’s actually Day 2, but I was busy yesterday so I’m only just getting round to taking up the challenge, which was to write a “who am I and why am I here” blog. That sounded very deep and philosophical and a bit beyond my capabilities. Fortunately, further down the email, there were some suggestions as to the sort of thing we might include.
1. Why are you blogging publicly rather than keeping a personal journal?
Well, that’s easy – if I did it privately no-one would know when I wimped out and abandoned the project. I’m studying for an MA in Writing for Children with the hope that I will, one day, become a published author. We have been told by tutors, agents, editors and publishers that a strong on-line presence is an important tool in promoting our books and ourselves as a brand, so I’m starting early.
2. What topics do you think you’ll write about?
Anything and everything that takes my fancy, but probably with a bias towards reading and writing – and possibly pets, food, and people who have been to the moon.
3. Who would you love to connect with via your blog?
People who are interested in similar things and can introduce me to books and ideas I’m not familiar with. People who will comment on what I have to say. Someone who will fall in love with my writing style and long to publish my writing.
4. If you blog successfully throughout the year, what would you hope to have accomplished?
A record that family, friends and future fans can look back at – a public memoir, if you like. A habit of recording thoughts and events and an established daily writing routine. Maybe some new friends.
I think I’ve finished my first assignment on Blogging 101. Time to go and find today’s assignment – and if there’s time before I go to work and then to college – to do some of my own writing.
We have met men who stood on the moon’s surface and people who worked to help get them there and bring them home. We have met artists who recorded the events and writers who interviewed the participants. We have photographs and ephemera, artefacts and autographs, books and DVDs. You might say our house has been touched by moon madness.
I am now at that stage of my MA Writing for Children where we have to consider our dissertation. I have a story in mind about a young girl and a magical transformation by (you’ve guessed it!) moonlight. To accompany the story I need to write a rationale and include a bibliography of children’s stories on a similar theme. I know there are hundreds of children’s stories where the moon has magical qualities, but at the moment I am struggling to think of any titles, apart from The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge.
If you have a favourite children’s story where the moon has magical properties or influences, can you let me know? My story will be for a ‘middle grade’ audience, but I’m interested in anything from picture books through to YA. Please add your suggestions in the comments, or send me a Tweet. In the meantime, I’m off to search the library catalogue.