Diary of a Writer – Writing Prompt January – the Door to the Year

The Door of the Year

The Door of the Year

The Door to the Year is Georgian and I found it while walking around Dublin’s beautiful Georgian streets. As many readers know, I focus my own Regency and early nineteenth century fiction in Edinburgh and London. On the other hand who wouldn’t wonder what’s behind this lovely door and its equally tempting neighbour?

Early January is the time for handing in entries to the Scottish Association of Writers annual conference competitions. I have at least a short story – can’t give any clues what that’s about – and you may be going along and have entries, too. Headline speaker is Helen Lederer and you’ll find the Conference Schedule by typing September into the search box. Day delegates are welcome. The Westerwood Hotel and Sports complex is welcoming, comfortable and easily accessible from the train to Croy or by car.

Occasionally competitions excite my creative imagination, but more and more, they’ve become a distraction from the main work. Of course, as with the People’s Friend serial writing competition, sometimes the distraction pays off. Shortlisted and published, together with two subsequent short story sales, it was a profitable distraction.

So, what is The Door to the Year opening up for your writing.? Will you share a few hopes with us?

Diary of a Writer – Start in Time

Wise Owl

Wise Owl

Start in Time

Time management has never been one of my stronger character traits. I greedily gather in brochures and leaflets. I note deadlines for Edinburgh Writers’ Club, founded 1947, competitions and for comps or challenges being run by other organisations I belong to and they approach steadily. They approach so steadily that I often reel with astonishment to see a closing date is now tomorrow.

Why is this? I do know, and in fact live with, people who are capable of starting in time. whether it be planning a holiday, whittling down the purchase of Christmas presents or writing a paper, they do it bit by carefully timetabled bit.

I have tried it and while it was great last year when I knew I needed to lose some weight and achieved my goal with three weeks in hand, it sometimes leads to duplication of effort. I cannot ever believe that I can leave the house for three weeks unless I’m in a lather of organisation and waist deep in lists, lists, lists. So I start re-checking. Yes, I did cancel the milk and the paper delivery. Yes, I have emptied the fridge. Yes, I did ask someone to water the house plants.

It unnerves me more than a little and perversely I head off sure that I’ve forgotten something.

But in some walks of life, I am getting better. For example, today I’ll be decorating large boxes for the local church’s Gift Services. Every year, I collect 7 or 8, strengthen them with parcel tape and cover them with Christmas wrap. This year I have all the boxes, I have the parcel tape and the wrap. Ready to go without having to stop and buy extra – provided no one has ‘borrowed’ my stanley knife. There’s no doubt it makes the job feel less stressful.

If you would like to donate a new and unwrapped Christmas Gift to someone who might otherwise receive nothing, check out The Salvation Army’s local appeals here.

Writing the next novel..

Well, it’s on the stocks and I have two lovely central characters, a setting and I’ve made enquiries of an editor. What’s holding me back? Thinking I might enter those competitions. Is it maybe over-programming rather than lack of planning that gets in my way?

Naw! I don’t really do time-management. How about you?

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KATE BLACKADDER The Family At Farrshore Ulverscroft Linford Romance Library

Kate B at Penrith

Kate B at Penrith

Kate Blackadder, Edinburgh based author of Family at Farrshore, is a well known writer of short stories and her name will be familiar to many readers of large circulation mags such as People’s Friend and Woman’s Weekly. In 2011 Kate’s first serial for People’s Friend, The Family At Farrshore was published in seven weekly instalments. It has now been produced by large print label Ulverscroft in their Linford Romance Library and is available from April the first.

Kate and I are both members of the Edinburgh Writers’ Club.Together with a third member, Jane Riddell, we have our first novels coming out this Spring. Novels Now may refer to this as the Edinburgh Three, but only while editorial sense is switched off. An interview with Jane, author of Waters’ Edge will appear later this month.

I took the chance to ask Kate Blackadder a few questions about this exciting future for Family At Farrshore. I’m sharing her answers here.

You’re a well established short story writer, Kate, with People’s Friend and Woman’s Weekly among others. How challenging was it to write so many more words about your characters?

It was certainly a learning curve. The serial came about because I won The People’s Friend First Instalment of a Serial competition at the Scottish Association of Writers Annual Conference. But that’s all I had written – the first instalment. So when The People’s Friend asked me to write a scene-by-scene synopsis before they gave me the go-ahead, it was like walking into a roomful of people I’d barely met. But in writing that synopsis (which took me weeks …) I got to know them all very well, especially the five characters who had viewpoints. Each of their stories had to be interwoven and I ended up with seven instalments rather than the six I thought I’d have.

I know you read widely. How does the magazine serial differ from a ‘normal’ novel?

In a People’s Friend serial each weekly instalment of around 5000 words is divided into ‘chapters’ with headings.

This is how it looks in the large-print edition too. And of course the end of every instalment has a cliff-hanger!

The writing process though, in my experience, was certainly different from ‘normal’ writing because I submitted each instalment to The People’s Friend and waited for their comments before proceeding with the next one. This meant that I couldn’t go back and change anything I’d written earlier – which might sound an impossible way to work but, in fact, it was great and I really enjoyed it.  The People’s Friend staff were very supportive and encouraging.

Are you working on anything at present?

I’m very good at starting things … so, yes – a pocket-novel-length story, a longer novel which will involve lots of research, and short stories.

How about a short extract to tempt readers along to their local library?

Kate's First book

Kate’s First book

This is how The Family at Farrshore begins:

“Cathryn’s hands tightened on the steering wheel. She could hardly see through the windscreen although the wipers were working overtime.

It had been fine in Lancaster when she left just after lunch, anxious to put the miles between herself and Daniel, but the weather had got steadily worse and the road more narrow. She’d hoped to get to Farrshore by six but the dashboard clock told her it was almost eight when all of a sudden a figure loomed up at the side of the road, an arm held out.

At home she wouldn’t dream of stopping for a stranger, and the May evening was still light, but she couldn’t leave someone standing in all this rain. It might be hours before another car passed.

As she came nearer she could see that it was a man, tall and fair-haired. He bent down and wiped the window with his hand and smiled. Just for a moment she was reminded of Daniel and her heart jumped.

She pressed the button to open the window a fraction and leaned over to hear him.”

Well…

Actually, I know what happens next, but for those of you who don’t, I highly recommend The Family At Farrshore and local libraries.

Thanks for dropping in, Kate, Novels Now wishes you every success with your first book and all those projects.

Kate is Membership secretary of Edinburgh Writers’ club. edinburghwritersclub/