Sunday 21 December 2014

Making Lists
I'm definitely a list person. Writing a blog post has been on one of my lists for a while! Over the last week or so, I've made:

  • a Christmas card list - all ticked and posted
  • a present list - all bought and many have been packed
  • a general to-do list 
It's always good to see the list of things to-do get shorter and items get ticked off but this time of year as soon as one thing is done, another gets added! I'm looking forward to all the family arriving tomorrow and can't wait to share our grandsons' excitement in the build up to Christmas Day itself.

Recently, I've made a couple of other types of lists too. 

On November 30th, I travelled to Worcester for the launch of the Fifty Flashes of Fiction. This is the new anthology of entries in the Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe’s Flash Fiction competition in which I made the long-list. Congratulations to the winner, Linda Daunter I recognised Linda's name from her blog and Alfie Dog Fiction so it was lovely to meet her in person. It was the first literary event I'd been to and I was surprised how nervous I was when I read out my story.

On the same day, the winner of the Alfie Dog Fiction Short Story Competition was announced. Congratulations to the winner, Lori Windsor Mohr, and to Vanessa Horn and Veronica Bright who came joint 2nd. Their stories may be downloaded from Alfie Dog from today. I was very pleased that my story 'Missing Without Trace' made the long-list in that competition too. 

You-know-who makes lists as well! I'm just hoping my name's on the right list......

Wishing you all a very happy Christmas! Thank you for your support throughout the year and see you in 2015.

You may follow me on Twitter @JanBayLit and on Jan Baynham Writer Facebook page.

Friday 28 November 2014

Was NaNo a No-no?
This afternoon, I wrote my fifty thousand, two hundred and eighty fourth word for NaNo. Yeah! 

This was my very first experience of NaNoWriMo and because I have a busy weekend coming up, I've reached the target three days early. When I think back to the start on November 1st, I could not have envisaged doing that so no, NaNo was not a no-no for me! 

I realise that all the really hard work starts now but taking part in the project has proved to me that I can:

  • produce an extended piece of writing. Up until now, both my college dissertations were only 10,000 words each and my children's novel was around 13,000 words.
  • sustain an idea and work through a plot and sub-plots
  • get to know characters by immersing myself in their company. As I wrote, I found out things about them that I could never have imagined when I met them first.
  • keep to the target word count and even exceed it. On the few occasions when I couldn't write, I made sure I made up for it by writing more the next time I came back to writing.
Here is what my stats chart looks like today:

Your Average Per Day
Words Written Today
Target Word Count
Target Average Words Per Day
Total Words Written
50,284 WINNER!
Words Remaining
Current Day
Days Remaining
Goal Achieved On
November 28, 2014

What were the drawbacks?
  • a lot of my time has been taken up writing. I'm retired so have the luxury of doing what I want each day. I can imagine that writers with full time jobs or young children to look after would have to find the time from their already busy lives. 
  • I didn't edit. I just wrote....and wrote. I can see that I have most likely made the editing and redrafting of the novel much harder. 
  • I don't know if the writing is good enough. By concentrating on getting the words down and keeping to the word count target, I didn't reflect on what I had written.
  • I hadn't done enough research so there are gaps in the story where accurate details will need to be added to give the novel authenticity.
  • I've neglected my on-line critique group. I've managed to attend all the writing group meetings locally and sent the odd message of congratulations or encouragement but I haven't taken the time to actually download a story and critique it. Sorry!
Thanks to these people for their support:
What next?
  • Make and decorate a Man City football cake for Isaac, my grandson, who's going to be seven next Friday.
  • And maybe....start my Christmas shopping! 
All our circumstances will have been different and so will our goals. I hope that NaNoWriMo 2014 was a good experience for you. Please leave a comment and share your experience if you took part this year.
Thank you for reading my blog.
You may also follow me @JanBayLit on Twitter and on my Jan Baynham Writer Face Book page.

    Friday 21 November 2014

    NaNoWriMo Progress

    Your Average Per Day
    Words Written Today
    Target Word Count
    Target Average Words Per Day
    Total Words Written
    Words Remaining
    Current Day
    Days Remaining
    At This Rate You Will Finish On
    December 3, 2014
    These are my stats so far and as you can see I have some catching up to do. I'm hoping that today's writing will improve the situation so this is will be a short blog post. Good luck to fellow NaNo writers as we go into the last lap! 

    Thanks to CAFE LIT for publishing my WW2 story this week. The editor, Debz-Hobbs Wyatt said it was '..dedicated to all those who lost their lives fighting to give us the lives we have.' It was inspired by this photograph of my lovely Mum. I hope you will enjoy reading it.
    Photographs are often used by writers to inspire their stories. What picture has inspired you?

    Thank you for reading my blog.
    You may follow me @JanBayLit on Twitter and on my Jan Baynham Writer Facebook page.

    Monday 10 November 2014

    ** STOP PRESS**

    Have you ever wanted something so badly that you were tempted to do something drastic to get it? My story, 'I want' Gets Nothing, starts as a serial on Creative Frontiers today. Please click here for PART 1 if you'd like to read it. 

    Why not pop in each day to see what happens?

    PART 2
    PART 3
    PART 4

    Thanks to everyone who has followed the story all week. :-)

    Thursday 6 November 2014

    Just a Quick Update
    Six days into NaNoWriMo, how is everyone doing? 

    This is my first attempt at taking part so I didn't really know how it would be. However, I've managed to write every day but each day has been different as you would expect. I got off to a flying start at the weekend as there was a lot of football on the television (!!) but Monday wasn't so good. I had my usual writing group meeting in the afternoon and my first attendance at a new monthly critique group Write Fiction in the evening. I wasn't at the first meeting due to holidays so I didn't want to miss it. There, I met another NaNoWriMo newbie, Sue McDonagh, and she is now one of my NaNo writing buddies so that was good. It just meant that I had to make up by writing more words on the following days.

    Here are some facts about my week:

    • Total number of words written so far:                       10,994
    • Average number of words written per day:                1,832
    • Number of days left:                                                        25
    • If I keep up the same average daily average, I should complete my 50,000 words on November 28th - 2 days early!
    So, have I kept to my pledges that I posted last week? Let me remind you what they were:

    1. FB comments, Tweets and blog posts must be kept to an absolute minimum (...if at all!)
    2. I must just write and not edit.
    3. If I get stuck on one particular part of the story, I must move on and write another part.
    4. I must try to write every day.
    YES to 2. and 4. 
    • Not editing has been hard. I'm itching to get back in there and improve the writing but apart from correcting the odd word her and there, I haven't edited.
    • Writing every day has been good as I have immersed myself in the story and am getting to know my characters better.
    N/A to 3. as yet
    • At the moment, the story is flowing quite well but I know this will change as I get further into the novel. I'm concentrating on the 1965 story to start with. Having a rough plan was definitely as good idea.
    And then there's 1. - PARTLY
    • I don't think I have been on Facebook, Twitter or reading Blogs as much as usual but I have been on, especially when I have finished writing for the day and updated my NaNo word count.
    Thank you to everyone who has sent me encouraging comments to keep going. Writers are just the most supportive group, aren't they?

    Thank you for reading my blog. Please leave a comment especially if you are or have been a NaNoWriMo participant. How have you got on this week? What have been the stumbling blocks for you? What has helped you stay on track?

    Friday 31 October 2014

    10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1...We're Off!
    Well, that's it. No more prep. - I haven't done nearly enough! - so I'll know better if ever I do it again. In six hours time, NaNoWriMo 2014 will begin. My intentions are good so feel free to nag me! 

    I have told myself that:

    • FB comments, Tweets and blog posts must be kept to an absolute minimum (...if at all!)
    • I must just write and not edit.
    • If I get stuck on one particular part of the story, I must move on and write another part.
    • I must try to write every day.
    If anyone is looking for a NaNo buddy, my name is JanBayLit1 but I think you pick the names up from commenting on the forums. 

    Here is a helpful blog post from Susanna Bavin today. She interviews Heidi-Jo Swain who gives her advice on how to keep up your word count. 

    Finally, good luck to all  writers taking part in NaNoWriMo 2014!

    Bye! See you in December!

    Thursday 30 October 2014

    Be Afraid....Be Very Afraid!
    With Hallowe'en approaching tomorrow, there has been a wealth of posts and tweets about ghost stories and collections being published around this time. My author copies of 'The Day Death Wore Boots', the anthology in which I have my story, 'Rock-a-Bye Baby', published by Alfie Dog Fiction, are being dispatched today and will hopefully arrive on October 31st itself. For me, the cover superbly evokes a spooky atmosphere just right for Hallowe'en by containing images of a full moon, gravestones, a bat, the silhouette of a bird - maybe a crow - and tree branches in silhouette.

    All this week, you may read another of Susan Jones's Redington serials on Creative Frontiers entitled 'Midnight on Colley Hill'. Tomorrow's instalment will end with a witch-watch at the top of the hill. 

    On her blog this week, Evonne Wareham has detailed 'A Little Something for Hallowe'en?' where she and other ChocLit authors have produced a round-robin story. The result involves spells, musketeers, magic..

    The Write Romantics have produced this collection of thirteen tales, each with a spooky twist. It has been described as creepy rather than gory which is what I prefer. For me, creating atmosphere and suspense can be more frightening than detailed bloody scenes. There's even a Hocus Pocus '14 Facebook party tomorrow from 10 am until 9 pm and the e-book is free until 1st November.

    Samantha Bacchus has a story in 'Out Of Darkness', an anthology by The Short Story Group, where you can 'escape from reality and plunge into a dark world...' Download it FREE on Amazon.

    Ghost stories have been defined as 'having supernatural or frightening elements' often featuring 'ghosts or spirits of the dead'. Throughout the history of literature there have been echoes of haunted houses, family curses, physical disturbances such as loud noises or objects being moved around without explanation. 

    Have you written a ghost story recently? What was it about and what inspired you to write the story? Please leave a comment about what makes a good ghost story for you. 

    Thank your for reading my blog. You may also follow me on Twitter @ JanBayLit and on my Jan Baynham Writer Facebook page.

    P.S. I may be very quiet on here for the next four Thursdays when I attempt to participate in NaNoWriMo. Will keep you updated!

    Thursday 23 October 2014

    Eight Days to Go...and Counting!
    Well I've done it. Last night, I registered for NaNoWriMo! I've got eight days before it starts so what should I be doing to prepare? The NaNoWriMo Website gives good advice on this.

    The first thing I've done is I've committed myself to do this so I need to shout this far and wide so that you can all nag me to keep on track. So here's my banner telling everyone.

    The next thing I have to do is decide if I'm a planner or a panster

    Do I like to plan my story, know who my characters are and know what is going to happen?  

         Or am I more spontaneous? Will I have a blank document and just let my imagination take over?

    I'm definitely more of a planner so the advice is to work on an outline, having made plenty of notes. I think that knowing roughly where the story is going will help me to keep writing and I know I would waste so much time if I waited 'for inspiration'!

    There appears to be a lot of support on the website so I'll let you know how I get on. Must dash! Have got a meeting with my characters to find out more about them, starting with 

    NaNo Prep: The Official NaNoWriMo Character Questionnaire.

    Are you taking part in NaNoWriMo this year? If you've done it in past years, what advice do you have for a newbie like me? What was the hardest part about staying on track? I'd love to hear what you have to say.

    Thank you for reading and, hopefully, commenting on my blog. You may also follow me on Twitter @JanBayLit and my Jan Baynham Writer Facebook page.

    Thursday 16 October 2014

    Shall I Or Shan't I?
    When I started this blog in January, one of my goals was to complete the first draft of my novel. Progress has been slow to say the least and I can see the end of the year looming with not a lot to show apart from lots of thinking about it. With November in sight, I am considering registering for NaNoWriMo. I'm sure you're all familiar with National Novel Writing Month. It is an annual novel writing project that brings professional and amateur writers together and is founded on the idea that everyone has at least one novel in them that's needs to be written.

    'On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 PM on November 30.' NaNoWriMo

    In this month's 'Writing Magazine', there is advice from Sally Jenkins in her excellent article, NaNoWriMo Make It Social. She acknowledges that finding an extra two hours a day can be difficult and recommends making NaNoWriMo 'your social life as well as your writing challenge.' Apparently, when you sign up at NaNoWriMo , you are allocated or may choose a geographical region where participants are brought together. This could be a problem for me as there doesn't seem to be a group in South Wales and my nearest group is Bristol and Bath.

    Can I do it? Should I do it? I'd like to hear from any of you who have participated in the past. Do you have any tips for me? Please comment and help me decide.


    A collection of ghost stories, entitled 'The Day Death Wore Boots', has been published today by Alfie Dog Fiction  and I'm pleased to tell you that my story, 'Rock-A-Bye Baby'is one of them. 

    The collection will 'leave you looking...and wondering...'

    'From Pompeii to the Wild West, from Australia to the shores of the United Kingdom, the spirit world may be closer than you think!'

    Thank you for reading my blog. You may also follow me on Twitter @JanBayLit and on my Jan Baynham Writer Facebook page.

    Thursday 2 October 2014

    National Poetry Day
    I expect that many of you know that I love poetry. I'm not very good at writing it but love reading it.

    National Poetry Day is one of the nation's biggest celebrations of poetry and when I wore my Teacher Adviser hat before I retired, I loved this day sharing and celebrating poetry with teachers and pupils. As well as reading lots of wonderful poetry, many poems were written too. It is the day when events are planned in schools, colleges, pubs and libraries.  

    What is poetry?
    Many people have tried to define exactly what poetry is and this is how a dictionary defines it:
    For me it's the concentrated language that appeals.Which of these definitions from famous poets appeal most to you? 

    • The best words in the best order. Samuel Taylor Coleridge
    • The record of the best and happiest moments of the best and happiest minds. Percy Bysshe Shelley
    • A complete poem is one where the emotion has found its thought and the thought has found its words. Robert Frost
    • Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings. William Wordsworth
    • Poetry is memorable speech. W. H. Auden
    • The shortest way of saying things...It gives room to think and dream. John Betjeman
    One of my favourite poets is Dylan Thomas and 2014 marks the centenary of his birth on October 27th 1914. This short animated version of Dylan's poem 'The Hunchback in the Park' is performed by Michael Sheen. Why not pop over to my Jan Baynham Writer Facebook page to play it? 

    Poems can provide an excellent inspiration for the writing of short stories. Della Galton's blog post on August 4th, 'Ideas - a poem that inspire's a story' shows how this is done beautifully. She explains how one of her stories which was published in Woman's Weekly had been inspired by a wonderful poem by James Nash, entitled 'The Promise'. The emotions of the poem are reflected in the story. If you haven't already done so, this is well worth a read!

    One poem that has stayed with me since school days is this one by Rudyard Kipling.

    The Way Through the Woods

    They shut the road through the woods
    Seventy years ago.
    Weather and rain have undone it again,
    And now you would never know
    There was once a road through the woods
    Before they planted the trees.
    It is underneath the coppice and heath
    And the thin anemones.
    Only the keeper sees

    That, where the ring-dove broods,
    And the badgers roll at ease,
    There was once a road through the woods.

    Yet, if you enter the woods
    Of a summer evening late,
    When the night-air cools on the trout-ringed pools
    Where the otter whistles his mate,
    (They fear not men in the woods,
    Because they see so few.)
    You will hear the beat of the horse's feet,
    And the swish of a skirt in the dew,
    Steadily cantering through
    The misty solitudes
    As though they perfectly knew
    The old lost road through the woods...
    But there is no road through the woods.

    As well as the rhythm and sounds evoked in the poem through the images and internal rhymes, I like the way that Kipling has left it to readers to interpret it in their own way. Whose horse is cantering through the trees? Whose skirt is swishing in the dew? 

    Poem Pigeon is an online site where you can store and share poems. There are regular competitions for members where you can focus your creative skills on various themes. The latest one was 'Haiku' and this was my effort:

    Spider Webs

    Fine sheer gossamer
    Shimmering in morning dew
    Woven in spun silk

    Who is your favourite poet? Which poem has stayed with you?
    Thank you for reading my blog which is my celebration of National Poetry Day. You may also follow me on @JanBayLit on Twitter.

    Monday 15 September 2014

    One Lovely Blog Award

    I have been nominated for the One Lovely Blog Award by Samantha Bacchus. I have been following Samantha's blog since I started writing my own. She was my very first follower and is always very encouraging and supportive. You may also follow her on Twitter @Sammylou37 and her Samantha Bacchus Author page on Facebook.
    Basically I have to give 7 facts about myself.


    • Link back to the blog of the person who nominated you.
    • Share 7 facts about yourself.
    • Nominate 15 blogs that you particularly like, or fewer if you can’t think of 15.
    • If I’ve nominated your blog, please don’t feel obliged to take part if you don’t want to, but if you do, that's great! Thanks.


    When I was a little girl, my dad used to take me with him to watch motorbike scrambling at Hawkstone Park in Shropshire. Even now, I can still smell the fumes of the bikes' engines.

    Before starting my A Levels, I spent the six week summer holiday as an au pair in Cassis, just outside the port of Marseilles. This began my love of France and the French way of life.

    I collect thimbles and now have well over two hundred of them. Each one is a memento of a place visited or holds a memory of someone who has bought it for me. I have learned the word for 'thimble' in a number of languages! 

    I am an official Eddie Stobart Club member and have my own spotter's handbook where I record all the trucks I see on our roads and motorways. It could take another two years but a truck named 'Janet Eleanor', after yours truly, is on its way!

    I love picture books where the illustrations send a powerful message. I used many such books when I was a 'Philosophy for Children' trainer. One of my favourites was 'The Arrival' by Shaun Tan. 

    Confession time - I just adore chocolate! Boxes of it, bars of it, chocolate desserts, chocolate cakes, chocolate sauce...Once, someone even bought me a chocolate smelling candle in a tin and on one occasion, we planted a chocolate perfumed flower, Cosmos atrosanguineus, in the garden.  

    I am a big fan of Welsh rugby. Even though it's usually only on the Big Screen, I enjoy watching the national team play especially in the Six Nations' tournaments. Cardiff on international day comes alive! 

    So there you have it. Seven more random facts about me.

    I have nominated just a few bloggers this time because it's only a few months ago since I did a similar thing for another award. Here are some other interesting blogs that I follow, having found them more recently, and recommend that you pop across and have a look:

    Judith Barrow -
    Kath Eastman
    Juliet Greenwood
    Lynne Hackles -
    Evonne Wareham

    Thank you for reading! You may follow me on Twitter @JanBayLit and on my Jan Baynham Writer Facebook page.