Emily Barr: Final Writing Workshop

Today marked the last day of the incredible writing workshops I’ve been a part of with many talented writers at Falmouth University. The writing workshops were taught by the fabulous Emily Barr, who is a bestselling (and very skilled) thriller novelist.

Even more exciting, she has a new YA book coming out early next year which is published by none other than Penguin, so watch this space!

These workshops have been amazing and a real gift to be a part of. I’ve learnt so much, from writing about sense of place through to writing about characters with amnesia and how to deal with that. Emily was also kind enough to bring her husband – also a writer! – to these workshops and having him there too was a huge insight into the children’s publishing world, as he’s also a children’s writer.

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The workshops were held over a period of five or six weeks and, inbetween this, I was lucky enough to have two focused individual sessions with Emily, where we talked about novel writing, what it’s like to be signed by a top publisher like Penguin and copy edits. What was even cooler was how she persuaded me to bite the bullet and follow my own writing dream, which is to travel out to Texas and do some research on the novel I’m writing – a YA novel set against the backdrops of the rural South.

I’m planning to go during Easter break but if that doesn’t happen then there’s always the summer. I’ve already saved up some money for the trip (I have been saving since the first year of my undergraduate degree: that’s three years). I just need to take someone with me, if only to make sure I come home and don’t run off with a cowboy, which is an actual true danger.

These writing workshops have made my writing stronger, they’ve made me listen to other people’s writing with more precision and clarity, and to be more confident about reading my work aloud. I always struggled with this before, so it’s great to have a balance between reading your work on the page and reading it out loud to other people.

To be a part of such a great writing community every single week has been really special and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I’m sad that it’s over but feel so lucky to have been a part of it all. But it’s not over yet! We have one more last personal session with her on Wednesday and I’m excited about this. Afterwards, we’re all meeting for drinks, so now I guess I can say I’ve shared a few drinks with Emily Barr! Yay!

But, seriously, it’s been so wonderful. Even better, I feel like I’ve made some new friends as a result of this great workshop and gotten some awesome new skills!

Until next time.

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Cat Recipe: Tuna Fish a la Biscuits

I got a writing brief this week.

It was to come up with a cook book idea that’s original and one which you could potentially market to the publishing industry.

I seriously love cats, so I thought what better way to write about something when I can write about food for cats?

Warning: crazy cat lady mode about to be unleashed. If you don’t like cats, I suggest you check out another blog.

(Below, you’ll see the intro and the actual recipe I created. Hopefully it’ll be good enough to make you go try it. Recipe and ideas thought up entirely by me.)

Intro:

Welcome! This is a cook book for just you and your fuzzy feline friend. In this book you will find a variety of meals that will keep your cat happy, purring and deliciously fed. We know that keeping you and your cat content is the most important thing and, inside, these recipes offer just that.

It’s a book of luxury for you both once you delve into these pages and find such sweet treats that are so heavenly you might find that even you might want to try them! As a book of purrfect variety and splendour, sit back and let this book teach you the best culinary tricks and you will soon be on your way to finding complete harmony and happiness with your cat.

Tuna fish a la biscuits

This dish is perfect for when your cat needs a quick and balanced meal that’s easy to prepare, yet still makes a bold statement. As a very popular dish, it’s been known to raise a few paws. Simply serve it in a bowl with a saucer of fresh milk and voila – it’s ready to eat!

What you will need:

Tuna fish, either fresh or tinned

Cat biscuits, such as Dreamies or Felix Crispies

Milk (optional)

Recipe:

Make a pyramid of tuna in a bowl, making sure to keep it fairly wide. Once this is done and you’re happy with it, gently shake a pouch of cat biscuits over the top. (If your cat isn’t already gazing up at you lovingly then, trust us, they will be now once you shake the biscuits) For extra effect, place a single biscuit on top of the pyramid. Set aside a saucer and fill it with milk.

Serve it to your cat and enjoy!

Writing a Novel: Almost There!

Okay. Some of you may know that this summer I decided to embark on the huge task of writing a novel. I’ve always wanted to do it but never thought I would actually make it. Not unless I kicked my silly ass into gear anyway.

So this summer I did just that. I super kicked my ass into gear and I got through it.

I wrote almost an entire fricken novel.

I’m still writing it so I’m not even finished yet but to say that I’ve written 51,200 words over the space of this year is stupid crazy. Like I don’t even wanna mention how crazy. I seriously never thought I’d get this far.

Before, I only ever did things like this:

  1. Start a new novel idea
  2. Completely fall in love with it
  3. Never finish it
  4. Or worse, throw it away.

Talk about killing your darlings.

But I’m on the way to the end now and – Oh my God – I am loving it.

In July, I wrote over 20,000 words through signing up with Camp NaNoWriMo. I don’t think I would’ve made it without fellow campers cheering me on – virtually – until I got to the finish line. They were so helpful!

Now, it’s officially NaNoWriMo 2015 and although I haven’t been writing everyday like most talented people, I’m getting back to it after a bunch of uni deadlines and the flow is finally kicking back in. Get the kettle boiling and the teacups ready because this girl is on it!

As a writer and a reader, my heart lies in teen fiction so this is mainly what I write about. The characters I’ve created have stayed with me this long that I feel like I’m totally discrediting them if I don’t finish this story. Their voices need to be heard. So by Christmas I will have finished it.

This is both a promise to myself and to them. I think I definitely owe them that (not to mention myself!)

(On a side note, God knows how many cups of tea I’ve had while doing this project. My guess is in the hundreds.)

So, basically, my message to you is this. If you want to write a novel – even if the tiniest part of you thinks that you might – then go for it. Because your dreams are tangible.

You can create something out of nothing and, more importantly, only you can tell this story that’s in your head. I guess that’s what makes it so fun. Plus the feeling you get afterwards is amazing.

I’m so excited to finish this writing project.

So go write.

Telltales & Such Things

Hey, everyone. Hope the sun is shining your way. It is currently down here in Cornwall!

Just an update to notify you of new features I’ve written recently. They’ve taken a while to air on the website so there’s a few all in one go! One is a feature on my best friend who recently completed her Duke of Edinburgh award and advice she has to give, so if you’re into doing the award or even just thinking about it then make sure you check it out!

Another is a feature on a course mate of mine who I met whilst working on the Lionel Shriver author workshops. I really wanted to document the experience and get another point of view on how exciting and precious the time we spent with Lionel was, so I decided to interview her on the experience we shared. Her feedback was brilliant!

The other is on a sweet little writing group I’ve recently discovered under the name of Telltales based in Cornwall, largely Falmouth which is my student home town. Details about the group can all be found via the link!

Please give them a read if you’re interested!

 

Telltales Writing Group: http://www.hercampus.com/school/falmouth/telltales-writers-group-based-falmouth

Campus Celebrity: http://www.hercampus.com/school/falmouth/campus-celebrity-aysha-bryant

Last week’s Campus Celebrity: http://www.hercampus.com/school/falmouth/campus-celebrity-ashleigh-fox

 

Writerly Reflections

Why did I want to be come a writer? It’s a fairly simple question to ask but rather a difficult one to answer.

I suppose first of all I wanted to write because I loved reading. My story isn’t one of reading J.K Rowling and desperately wanting to be the way she is as a writer, which is odd because I love the world of Harry Potter a lot more than anything else. The world of Harry Potter comes up fairly frequently in my blogposts. My story came from being twelve years old and desperately wanting to be the girlfriend of famous boyband members. In particular, members of McFly. I could gush on about them for hours in my little notepad I kept hidden in my wardrobe.

What they looked like when I thought I could be their girlfriend. That’s right. All of them.

In order for that to come true, I started writing fanfiction in little diaries I bought from Clintons. I wrote so many stories, and they were all filled with bad writing, bad romance, and probably some really bad dialogue. I still have them, but they’re far too embarrassing to read. But without them I wouldn’t have gotten this far! I would stay in my room for hours every single day of the summer, endlessly spilling my pen into the pages that I kept private. Because nobody was allowed to read it.

Bad writing = good writing!
(Eventually!)

 

Gradually, I moved onto writing from paper to Microsoft Word but still in secret. I would wait until my whole family had gone to bed before I could start tapping erratically on the keys of our shared computer keyboard. I don’t know why it all had to be kept in such secrecy. It just felt so private. I’d never done it before.

When I started to grow older, I realised that – yes – I wanted to become a writer, an author, unconditionally. And all I did in my spare time was fantasise about how incredibly amazing that would be. I have drawings in my old collected notepads of book covers with my name on them, that one day I could actually be a published author. I still have that dream today and am not going to stop writing, ever. Now, I am pursuing a writing course at university. People say it’s a waste of time, choosing Creative Writing as a degree, but I would never have come across the writing opportunities I’ve been given without enrolling onto this course.

Since September, I’ve started a new novel in my own time, written short stories almost every single week during term to submit, become a weekly feature writer for a worldwide online magazine, submitted to a number of different writing competitions, gotten the chance to meet famous writers and poets, and next week I get to be in a workshop with an award winning author!

Really, I don’t think I decided at any point – yes I want to be a writer. I kind of fell into it, and as I got better at it, I then just grew into it.

Writing is awesome.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/03/24/writing-challenge-reflections/

Marietta

    I knew a girl who had gotten dumped. I say knew. She hovered around the floating edges of my break times, my classes, my petulant walks through corridors. She’d never mattered to us much before. But now she was always on my mind.
Her skin, it etched in the name of the boy who had done and got her heart broke, and the blood ran off her fingertips. Marietta. She looked like a corpse dressed for Halloween. Her skin was so pale. The lace from the dresses that seemed embroidered onto her skin, her arms, became bumpy with bloodstain. It trailed all the way up to her elbow. People stared. Even the teachers stared. Too nervous, they never said anything to her. I could never work out whether they were scared of hurting her mutated feelings, or simply just her. She had an aura about her that rendered people strange. A sickly, pasty kind of feeling that sweeps over you when you walk past her in the corridor, or catch her watery blue stare as you look up.
The boy’s name was Todd Bow. Everybody knew him, so as a result everybody then knew her. Before him, I guess you could say she was normal.  She seemed so anyway. Like your average, functioning girl. But love has its way of ruining
the best of us. If we let it fester, it turns us inside out, upside down, and bent over double in pain. Blood poured from her heart, and now it poured from her arms too.
A mathematic compass was her tool. Her art for punching holes into her veins. You know the ones. We’ve all
purposely pricked our fat, fleshy fingertips with one just so we can see it hurt. Its pinprick point like a poised and ready needle. It digs in and burrows itself beneath our skin, if it should like.
Marietta took it too far. God knows what her mother thought. Perhaps she never told. Yet we all knew; we could all
see the faded lines beneath the white lace, and the fresh ones too. We could all see the quiet disdain she held in her voice when she spoke, like every boy she addressed was guilty of breaking her heart. We could all see the fresh
etchings of a T … then an O … a deep, stinging D … and finally one more. It wasn’t like she was hiding it, like she faded into the background like some old piece of furniture. She was there everyday, on everybody’s minds.
I think she knew it.
The boy hardly knew what to do. They’d lasted six months; he’d never realised how hard she’d fallen. She avoided him like the plague, yet he remained on her arms, his name a hideous inscription, like she was bound to him forever. And she liked it that way.
She shamelessly strapped his identity to her skin like it was the only thing she had.
In the end, I suppose it was.