Blog Entries
This Week: 5th June, 2017
Category: Site News
Tags: this week writers abroad expat writing community

Can't believe we're into June already! It's hard to maintain some kind of sense of perspective with all the atrocities that have gone on in Manchester and London but I watched the concert last night which was filled with positivity... so 'Don't Look Back in Anger' (hard to put into practice).

So, what's happening in the dizzy world of Writers Abroad?

Jill has posted the Monday Muses, some fabulous writing quotes that can be used to inspire anything you like; a poem, short story or even a piece of fiction. Some words used by famous authors are pulling me in.

Vanessa has written the Blog talking about using all our senses and a simple, short exercise to help you connect back with them... more time spent away from the screen cannot be a bad thing.

There are plenty of opportunities for submitting your writing in June Challenges, so if you want some feedback please post up and encourage us all to have a go. There is one that is only 25 words which Alyson suggested we should all have a go at. Anyone up for the challenge? † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † †

The Bragging Stool is hot this week: 5 (yes five!) members appearing in Ad Hoc - Sue, Crilly, Laura, Angela and Chris!, we have Alyson snuggling in with a †short story selected as runner up. And Sue also has a letter published in Writing Magazine. †

We need a chair for the June Chat as Chris N will be away, this is a 4pm meeting and if no-one can swap or attend, we will cancel so please let us know if anyone is planning to be there. † † †

Finally, the Writing Vision forum is now open... hoping to see more writing aspirations shared this week!

Hope you all have a productive writing week...

Coming to your senses Tags: Writers Abroad writing senses in writing

I find it hard enough to think of a topic when itís my turn to write the weekly blog post. Itís even harder today in the aftermath of yet more terrorist attacks in London and Kabul. In the end, I decided to focus on something very close to home: using our senses in writing.†

When I first wrote fiction, I described my storiesí settings using only sights and sounds. I portrayed what I fancied my characters could see or hear in their settings. But, of course, in real life we experience our environments with the other three senses, too, even if we donít consciously acknowledge it.

I had a light bulb moment when I read an article (which I canít now find) about describing what all the senses could experience in a fictional setting. Character and plot are the most important elements in fiction, but the setting and how your characters experience it are significant, too. Your readers get a more complete view of the space in which the story takes place and your characters are more rounded if you can evoke what they smell, touch and taste.

Itís not always easy to remember to do this, but a seminar by the novelist Tracey Warr at our local writing group a while ago has helped. One of her exercises particularly resonated with me.

Tracey got us to stroll around the village for 10 minutes, noting everything about the environment and how we experienced it. I noticed the sights and sounds first: the yellow French post van, children shouting and screaming in the school playground, two elderly ladies chatting in the middle of the road, a cat rolling in the dust.

As I focused more deeply, the other senses tuned in. And so I perceived the rough gravel under my sandals, the warmth of the stone bench I sat on, the scent of cut grass, the cool touch of the village fountain and the slight smell of chlorine in the water. I almost picked up and licked one of the pebbles that line the fountain but then I remembered the chlorine.

This exercise reinforced for me the sensorial aspect of writing. Moreover, it sparked off ideas to use in my stories.

So try the wandering about exercise sometime. You can do it alone or with someone else so that you can compare what you found. Itís inspirational and Ö it gets you away from the computer, the internet and too many mugs of coffee!

Organisation of writing

Superbly Safe Storage System?

From the moment I understood the alphabet I loved books. At school English was my favourite subject and I was ranked in the top three out of the class.

As a child, at bedtime I was expected to go straight to sleep.† I never did. Summer nights were wonderful, I could read in bed without getting caught, but in the winter I had to put the light on and my bedroom overlooked the street.† (At the time my dearest wish was to own a torch.)† My father often returned home late at night, reporting my lit bedroom to my mother. She would come into my room and give me a ticking off. It made no difference. I would return to my book at the earliest opportunity, sometimes the same night.† This intransigent dedication to literature founded my passion for language, so itís quite surprising that I only began writing seriously about eight years ago. On the point of re-locating to France I decided that it would be an enjoyable way to earn money working from home. Judging from what Iíve earned from writing since moving here itís fortunate that I have no aspirations to purchase a French chateau.† No matter, the enjoyment of writing and contact with fellow writers has more than made up for lack of a lucrative income.

I write using Microsoft Word. Eventually, my separate writings developed to the point where I needed to set up a system of keeping track of each piece. I created a system where I could quickly assess the status of any given piece of my writing, as follows:

Anything Iím working on I keep on my PC desktop until finished. Only when having polished and edited a piece of work to completion do I print a hard copy and file it in one of a number of Lever Arch files divided into articles, blogs, flash fiction, short stories, book reviews and miscellaneous, keeping poetry printouts in a separate file.†

On my PC I have a heading folder named Creative Writing containing sub folders similarly named as for my hard copies, each sub folder containing more folders labelled with year dates. I file my completed work here.† Therefore, to find a particular short story previously filed on my pc, I click on Creative writing Ė short stories Ė 2016 and a list of Word documents by story title I wrote in in 2016 appear on screen.† Each story title also shows the word count.† For example a particular story title on my 2016 list appears as The Road to Nowhere 794. Therefore if considering the story for a competition I can see without opening the file whether or not the word count is suitable for the competition.

In my Word documents, each story, article, blog etc begins on page 2.† The first page is reserved for the history of the work.† This is an example of the first page of one of my stories.† Velvet is the story title.


05/08/09†††††††††† Entered town Village Mag comp (no win)

03/05/10†††††††††† Published in the anthology ĎShadowsí

If I wish to email a story to a competition/publication, I simply delete the first page, attach the document to the email and donít save the changes. When I close the document the history is retained.

On my PC I also have a couple of extra folders for work unfinished/in progress, (not printed out as hard copies.)† My system doesnít end here.

An unfortunate person I know suffered her computer to die at the point she was giving a final edit to her first and only novel.† She was devastated.† Determined not to suffer the same fate, after much thought, I decided to use Hotmail as a place to store my work.† On my Hotmail account I created folders labelled with the titles as my Lever Arch and pc files, plus two others for unfinished work and work in progress.† At the same time as I print out and file my hard copy, on my PC, I attach the document for my story/blog etc and send it to my Hotmail address (every document in a separate email) using the story title as the subject. I then go into Hotmail and move the email from my inbox to the relevant folder thus creating a list of titles in each folder. I store them as unread which also gives me tally of how many stories, blogs etc I have written. This system is also convenient should I wish to access or send out my work if Iím away from home, particularly as each piece of work contains its own history.† I send unfinished and in progress work to Hotmail as and when I deem necessary.†

For my novel, (working title Hitman Lema, one document in Word,) each time I work on it I send the document as an attachment to my Hotmail as I do for stories etc.† On the subject line I type Hitman Lema and the date.

I then go to Hotmail and move it to the ĎHitman Lemaí folder, creating a list of dated document updates.† Storing older updates is useful. If I make changes to previously written text I still have a copy of the original wording should I need to refer to it.† Also I donít clutter the space on my PC and I can access and work on my novel from wherever I happen to be when away from home.†

Finally, I keep a spreadsheet with two lists, side by side.† The first lists stories sent to competitions/magazines with any relevant info, which I check periodically, moving non-win/rejected pieces to the second list - work available to be sent to competitions, magazines or other publication outlets.

In short: I am satisfied with a piece of work and deem it completed. I print it out, file the hard copy, file the document on my pc, send a copy of the document to Hotmail, moving it unread to the appropriate folder and log it on the spreadsheet as available to send.

Using this system, should my pc suddenly explode into smithereens, I havenít lost my work.† I figure my precious writing is fairly safe excepting a worldwide internet breakdown.† Should that happen many fundamental entities we consider important would become worthless and I would have a whole new scenario of concerns - my writing being the least of them.



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The House at Zaronza
tagged: writers, abroad, vanessa, couchman, historical, and fiction
Love is All You Need: Ten tales of love from The Sophie King Prize
tagged: writers, abroad, sophie, king, prize, alyson, and hillbourne
Out of Control
tagged: writers, abroad, nina, croft, members, and publications
The Duke's Shadow
tagged: the, duke-s, shadow, louise, charles, debut, and novel
Foreign & Far Away
tagged: writers, abroad, amanda, hodkinson, books, charity, anthology, 2013...
Losing Control
tagged: writers, abroad, nina, and croft
tagged: nina, croft, writes, and abroad
Conversations with S. Teri O'Type
tagged: writers, abroad, christopher, and allen
Break Out
tagged: writers, abroad, ninca, and croft
Deadly Pursuit
tagged: writers, abroad, nina, and croft
The Calling
tagged: writers, abroad, nina, and croft
Big Book of New Short Horror
tagged: featuring, wa, member, alyson, and hillbourne
Tiger of Talmare
tagged: writers, abroad, nina, and croft
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