Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Changing regimes – and changing back again

Since 2003 I’ve spent the first two hours of every day writing. Yes, even weekends and when on holiday. However, I don’t beat myself up if I don’t manage it. I count the weekends and holidays as extra and set them against the days when I don’t manage to write.
I also try to write 2000 words. I don’t always manage it but often come close – say 1750.
This can actually be quite productive and has led to a novel every eighteen months or so, and several short stories, articles and academic papers.
Then this academic year for the first time, it all seemed to go to pot. I just couldn’t seem to fit it in. Work seemed to make more demands.  

Monday, 8 December 2014

A belated November newsletter

It’s that time of year again and we’re on the run into that festival. Yes, Christmas is a time when I traditionally do a lot of reading and a lot of thinking. I watch a lot TV – some of the cheesy variety and some other, more serious material, often some of that good old British drama. Lots of ideas bubble away.
I always see this time of year as a type of hibernation – we feed ourselves – physically, intellectually and emotionally, we stay indoors and keep ourselves warm – and we writers hope that lots of people will read our books. Perhaps they’ll have a new Kindle for Christmas and download some of our works.              
I have a birthday just before Christmas and though I used to curse it as a child I now welcome it: it’s the day our hemisphere starts titling back towards the light and I’ve only ever been to school once on my birthday. I’ve never been to work – though I may do a little writing.  The end of the gloom seems a good time to welcome a new year and new plans for new works.
Of course also, there are lots of celebrations and yesterday we held a gathering of Bridge House and CafeLit authors. More about this below!  

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Postcards over Ramsbottom or Don’t ever cross a novelist – you might get put into a novel or How novelists make use of just about everything

So, I go to my study to look at my phone, just like I do every morning. To find out what the weather’s going to be like and how I should therefore dress.
Except that my handbag isn’t its usual place by the desk in my study. Perhaps I left it somewhere else. I did have rather a lot of luggage to bring in from the car last night.

It’s not downstairs by the lounge door. Did I leave it in the car? I go to the spare room to look out onto the drive to see if I can see it on the passenger seat of my car. My car is not there. Neither is my husband’s.

We panic a little. I must have done something really stupid like left the handbag on the front door step. Oh Gawd.   
Then I notice a cupboard open in our lounge. My husband notices the curtains are open a little. He opens them fully and we can see that they forced their way through a window – a window that has four locks on it, into a house that is alarmed. I’ve walked past that window four times already today and not noticed anything. 
Later still I find that they did indeed go upstairs. My Kindle, which was next to my computer in my study, is also gone. At the weekend we discover that we are also missing a bath towel. Our newest one, in fact.     
At least now I am relieved that I didn’t do something stupid with my handbag. We contact the Police, my banks, my phone provider and the insurance companies for my phone and our cars. Then I phone work. 
(No, this isn’t the beginning of a crime novel. This really happened to us last Tuesday. But you never know …)

Sunday, 9 November 2014

October 2014 Newsletter, slightly belated

I guess my biggest news at the moment is that I’ve been promoted to Senior lecturer at the University of Salford. It’s a nice feeling. It sort of confirms that I’ve been doing a few things right. Not that the pressure goes away – if anything there’s more. Current challenges: improve NSS scores, retention, continuation, completion and recruit more students. Oh, and fit in a little research and writing!   
We’ve just had Reading / Writing Week and I’ve been out and about doing some unusual things: school visits, visit to Ireland, where I’ve made one or two interesting connections, and a conference.
I’ve managed to do a little more research towards my book on Children’s Literature. Some of the material at Trinity College, Dublin was extremely interesting, especially to do with the connection to myths. This also feeds nicely into a lecture I’m delivering next week.     

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Worth it?

I don’t get to as many events for authors as I used to. I don’t get quite as excited about them either. It’s sometimes the case that it’s the “same old, same old” and sometimes it could be that I could have perhaps delivered the session myself. In a way, I do deliver such sessions: they’re part of my day job as a Senior Lecturer in English and Creative Writing.        
Some events are still worth it, though. 

Monday, 6 October 2014

On the cusp - ending and beginning

Letting go

I am at that delightful transition stage. I have finished the second of my Schellberg cycle books, Clara’s Story. I’ve got it as good as I can. It’s edited and polished. Now it’s resting a while and I’m gaining some distance from it. I’ll be sending it off to the publisher soon. There will be a reaction. I hope it will be that they’ll agree to publish it. Then there will be an editor’s reaction. No doubt there will be changes. If I get some distance now, though, any suggestions from the editor will be easier to digest.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

September Newsletter

The new academic year has started and we’re very busy pointing students to where they need to be. Several of our new first years are making a point of coming to my office or stopping me in the street to tell me how much they’re enjoying their course. This is fabulous. Let’s hope we can keep on working in such a way that they will be able to keep on enjoying their study. We’re watching with some excitement too the new building that we hope to move into in January 2016.