Posts Tagged Christmas

Christmas Presents for Readers and Writers

According to the latest Tesco magazine, October 24th is the date that most of us start our Christmas present-buying frenzy. Christmas Tree

So, to get us (slightly) ahead of the crowd I’ve come up with a few budget suggestions for readers and writers. Buy them now and you’ll have November free for a successful attempt at NaNoWriMo.

For the book lover who adores keeping records or who (like me) easily forgets what he’s read and what he thought of it : A Moleskine Book Journal
It features “alphabetically organised sections to personalise, 6 blank sections to be filled in as desired, blank pages, a complimentary bookmark and 202 adhesive labels to further personalise the notebook. It also features acid-free paper and a double expandable inner pocket.

For the longhand writer who’s bored of blue and black ink, or who likes to write different characters in different colours : A Set of Rainbow Ball Pens
There are ten assorted colours and the pens have “ergonomic triangular barrels for effortless, fatigue-free writing and a particularly smooth writing performance.”

For anyone who needs inspiring or motivating : An Inspirational Life Quotes Colouring Book
This book is full of positive quotes and designs that will help you to relax and ease any anxiety that you may have. Forget any stress in your life and have some fun.

And if you fancy treating yourself now, have a look at Chris Baty’s book, No Plot, No Problem. Chris is the founder of National Novel Writing Month and shares his secret for knocking out a novel in no time. This could be useful if you’re tackling NaNo for the first time and feeling nervous.

Happy shopping and a successful NaNo!

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Christmas Round Robin Letters plus a Competition

Christmas Round Robin Letters – do you love them or loathe them?

English: Robin at Stover Park This bird kept f...

I don’t usually write one but this year I did and it’s currently winging its way to those I rarely see. The cost of postage drove me to include the letter with my cards. I begrudge paying 50p (second class postage) just to stick a card in an envelope so I decided that people were going to hear what my family did in 2012 – whether they wanted to or not. After all, I’m supposed to be a writer so it shouldn’t be difficult to make a round-up of the last 12 months sound interesting.

It was a lot harder than I expected!

I tried to be mindful of the fact that no-one wants to read a list of my daughters’ achievements and their plans for the future. I’ve received letters like that and they leave me feeling totally inadequate. So I skirted over that and moved onto how the recession has impacted the working lives of my husband and me.   Then I decided that talk of redundancies was too depressing so I moved on to the interesting things we’ve done in our spare time – and came up with nothing!

Writing a round robin letter is like trying to have a one-sided conversation in the dark. It’s impossible to gauge whether you are boring people because there’s no facial expressions to read and no feedback in the way of comments. So I did my best and sent it out . It’s up to the recipients whether they read it or bin it and from now on I’ll be much less dismissive of the letters I receive because I know how difficult they are to write!


If you’ve had any letters printed in a newspaper or magazine during 2012 you might be interested in a competition run by the Association of Christian Writers. ACW’s UK letter writing competition is looking for the best letters published in any national, regional or local magazine or newspaper during 2012. There is a prize of £50 for the best single letter published and prizes of £100, £50 and £25 for collections of 6 letters published in 6 different publications. Closing date is 31/12/2012. Full details are here.

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Every little helps…

Writing is a frustrating occupation with little reward. It’s easy to get fed up with the rejections, the publications thatScented Candle don’t bother to reply at all and that blank piece of paper which refuses to be filled with wonderful prose.

So why do any of us keep writing? Why do we pick up a pen or drag ourselves to the keyboard day after day? Is it the pleasure of losing ourselves in another world (in which case it would be easier to just pick up a book written by somebody else)?

Hope is what keeps me going. Hope that the editor might like this article pitch, hope that this story might win the competition or this reader’s letter might bag me the star prize.

This hope is fired by small incidents and minor successes along the way – things that cheer me up when the bigger prizes are eluding me.

One of these was my writing group’s Christmas meeting last week. Our new program secretary, Moira, organised a fun competition for a piece of writing containing the phrase ‘It happened every Christmas’ – with prizes from her attic store cupboard. We all took some food (there was way too much food!) and listened to everyone’s entries. We had fiction, poems, memoir and articles. Moira had the unenviable task of awarding the prizes. I received a scented candle in a pretty box (pictured). It may not be an award to add to my CV but it gave me a boost.

A couple of days ago I met up with my writing buddy, Helen. She didn’t award me any prizes but I did get inspired from our chat about plans for 2012. I came away knowing that I have to produce a certain amount of finished work otherwise I’ll let the side down.

Finally, I’ve been shortlisted in the latest Emerald Writing Workshops competition.  It’s good to see a couple of other familiar names on the list – fellow blogger, Susan Jones and Sharon Bee who runs the Fiction Addiction website. Fingers crossed for us all!

So, maybe I haven’t won the Booker this month but there have been plenty of little things to keep me going!



Are you ready for Christmas 2011?

Flashing Christmas Tree

Image via Wikipedia

No, there isn’t a mistake in the title of this post – I really do mean Christmas 2011.

Magazines and newspapers use lots of Christmas themed features and stories but it’s very hard to sit down in the middle of summer and write a tale featuring Father Christmas and snowmen. And how do you motivate yourself to do that article on Christmas Traditions when you’re buying suncream and bikinis? Don’t think you can put these pieces off until the nights start drawing in – by then Christmas issues will have been finalised and will be almost ready to hit the shelves.

If you want to be published during Christmas 2011 you need to start preparing now.

  • Cut out and file festive features from magazines and newspapers. The same Christmas topics come round year after year – you need to give them a fresh angle, a different viewpoint or add some fresh research of your own. Use the cuttings as an ideas springboard to go off on your own tangent – don’t copy them!
  • Study the short stories in magazines. Make a note of which publications go for the cute and cosy stories and which like something a little bit more realistic. Look at the types of characters in the stories and the settings.
  • Start a new notebook and label it Christmas ideas. Put one idea on the top of each page and work forwards through the book for fiction ideas and start at the back for articles. In the lead up to Christmas flesh out each of these ideas as much as you can with bullet points about what you might include in the article or how the story plot might develop.
  • In those lazy days between Christmas and New Year, push the Quality Streets to one side, turn off the television and write a couple of those stories or articles. It will be much easier to do it now whilst the tree is still up, the weather is cold and the radio is playing Slade.
  • Get out your new calendar, diary or phone and make a note to revisit these finished pieces in the summer. Proof read them and then get them submitted in good time.

If you’re really stuck for ideas here a few links to get you going:

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