Thursday 22 May 2014

Holiday Reading
Next Tuesday, I'm flying to Crete for a two week holiday and today I am deciding what I shall take to read. It's the one time when I don't feel guilty about spending hours with my head in a book or reading my Kindle! Many a time, pre- Kindle, did I have to take books out of my case as I'd gone over the weight allowance only to 'run' out of novels towards the end of the holiday. 

Hotels often have a swap-a-book scheme though, where you can leave a finished book in return for a fresh one to read. This is how I came across Ferney by James Long.  This is a beautifully written book and has all the elements that I enjoy -  a love story, historical content, mystery and suspense so that I couldn't put it down, as well as warm and credible characters. 

I do like the feel of a traditionally printed book and being able to flick back through the pages to check or re-read parts.  But now, I can download as many novels as I want so there will be no worries about overloading my case, no greasy suncream finger marks on my precious books and even the thickest saga will appear light in my hand. So what do I choose?

I haven't written much more of my novel lately so I'm hoping that reading a lot on holiday will get me back writing on my return. My dual narrative story is about a family which holds secrets - whose family doesn't, you may ask? - and is set in 1947 and 1965. I'm trying to read as many family saga type novels set just after the war or in the 1960s. I seem to be drawn to novels where there are two POVs or two time settings. One such book that I enjoyed was The Hand That First Held Mine by Maggie O'Farrell. The story tells the stories of two women, separated by fifty years but connected in ways that neither could ever have expected. Thank you Lynne for the recommendation.

Of course, not all the books I'm buying are in the style of the novel I'm trying to write. Here are a few that I'm looking forward to reading:

- We That Are Left by Juliet Greenwood
- When No One Was Watching by Debz Hobbs Wyatt
- Father Unknown by Lesley Pearse

Have you read any books about family secrets? Are any of those set just after WW2 or in the 60s? What do you think about dual narrative stories? What novel have you recently enjoyed and would recommend? (I haven't finished my list yet so am open to suggestions!) 

Thank you for reading. I'd love it if you left a comment. 

You may also follow me on Twitter @JanBayLit 

PS I have just finished reading The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. The different layers of mystery meant that I couldn't put it down. I highly recommend it!

Sunday 11 May 2014

Creative Frontiers

Creative Frontiers is an on-line site which is a '... meeting place for everyone who writes fact or fiction.' 

'Creative Frontiers aims to interest, entertain and to stimulate writers of all sorts: those who have still to finish their first composition; those who have created and sold many pieces.  The site is for those who write to live and those who live to write.

We want visitors to find ideas and methods that will enable them to push their writing right up to and maybe even across a creative frontier.'
This week it features my on-line critique group, 'Write-critical'. 'It's all Sheila's fault!'
As well as reading about the group, why not have a look at the Accumulator competition and other writers' stories which are published on the site? 

Friday 9 May 2014

The Liebster Award
The first I heard about the Liebster Award was when I read a post on my blog from Teagan Kearney saying that she had nominated me. I have been following her on her excellent blog, Writing My Novel - No Working Title Yet for almost as long as I have been writing my own blog. In Teagan's words, I've been 'Liebstered!'

The Liebster Award is given to up and coming bloggers who have a following of between 200 and 3000 – depending on which resource you read. You can just accept the award as an honorary one if you don’t wish to pass it on, but I’d like to accept it in the spirit it was given and hand the baton over to other bloggers. 

Here are the Liebster Award rules:

Thank and link back to the person who nominated you.
A big thank you to Teagan for nominating me. If you are writing a novel and haven't found her blog yet, just click on You will find lots of useful information about all aspects of novel writing.
You can also follow her on Twitter @modhaiku. I particularly love the fact that each of her blog posts contains a haiku that she has written.

Answer the questions posed.
Here are the questions that Teagan set for me to answer
  • What is your earliest childhood memory?
Now this answer gives away my age! When I was very young, we lived a few doors away from my grandad and I spent a lot of time at his house. One day, I found an old HMV gramophone and lots of 78 rpm records tucked away in his shed. From then on, I loved winding it up and playing the records. It would keep me quiet for hours.
  • What was the first story/poem you ever wrote?
I can't remember any of the stories or poems I wrote as a child but I started writing fiction for the first time when I retired. I joined a local writing group and the first story I wrote had to open with the words 'She peered closer inside the church.....' It was about a newborn baby being abandoned on the chancel steps.
  •  Post a link to your favourite poem.
Those of you who follow my Jan Baynham Writer page on Face Book will know how much I love the work of Dylan Thomas. His centenary is being celebrated this year and I have been reminded of his wonderful command of language. It was hard to choose a favourite but I think it has to be 'Fern Hill'. Here it is, read by Richard Burton
  • Who do you admire, in terms of style, as a writer? 
My work-in-progress novel has a dual narrative, Clara's story set in 1965 and Rose's story set in 1947. My tutor, Lynne, suggested that I read Maggie O'Farrell's novel 'The Hand That First Held Mine' to see how two narratives can work alongside each other. Since then I have read and enjoyed two more of Maggie O'Farrell's novels.
  • What is your current writing goal?
My main goal is to finish the first draft of my novel. I keep getting distracted by writing short stories!
  • Who is your celebrity crush?
No contest here - it has to be George Clooney!
  • Post a link to your favourite painting.
Again, it was difficult to pick a favourite but I love this one entitled 'Snowdon From Ty Obri' by Kyffin Williams.

  •  What do you think is your biggest obstacle to achieving your goals?
I need to spend time getting immersed in my novel and getting to know my characters really well. At the moment, I leave too long in between writing sessions so that I have to pick up the thread again when I have left the novel to write other stories.
  • What wish is at the top of your bucket list?
At the very top has to be every writers dream, I'd love to get published and see my novel in print. 
  • Post a link to your most popular post.
The post that appeared to have the most interest is the one I wrote about attending the Woman's Weekly Writing Workshop

Choose a number of bloggers to nominate.
I understand that this varies according to your research. The number you can choose is between three and ten. I’m going to nominate three bloggers because a number of the writers I follow were involved in a chain blog just before Christmas - in fact that was how I got started writing my own blog. I couldn't take part then! 

Here is my choice of three writers: 

Samantha Bacchus is someone who is very supportive of a newby like me. She retweets and replies regularly on Twitter @Sammylou37 and leaves posts on my blog. She is documenting her own writing journey, writing both short stories and a novel, on Samantha's Blog: Living The Write Dream

Mary Papas is another writer I follow. On her blog Mary Papas, you will find interesting posts about books, authors and stories. One of the features on her blog that I particularly enjoy is the Question and Answer section where we can read her interviews with other authors.She lives in Greece, one of my favourite parts of the world. You may follow her on Twitter @MaryPapas2.

Alice Elliott is a writer whose progress I'm following. I first came across Alice's writing on Alfie Dog Fiction where we both have a number of short stories published. She blogs about reading and writing on AliceInWritingLand. She may be followed on Twitter @alice_writing.

Make up more questions for your nominees to answer.
Here are my questions for my nominees:
  1. Who is your favourite author?
  2. When is your favourite time for writing?
  3. What is your current work-in-progress and what inspired you to write it?
  4. Does your writing fit into a particular genre?
  5. If you could invite three people from history to dinner, who would they be?
  6. What book are you reading at the moment?
  7. What book that you've read has successfully been turned into a film? 
  8. Post a link to one of your favourite poems.
  9. What do you like to do when you are not writing?
  10. Whose blog - not already mentioned here - would you recommend for writers to follow?
I look forward to reading the answers from Samantha, Mary and Alice. Look up all three writers on their blogs. I know you will find their posts interesting.

Thank you once again, Teagan,  for the nomination. I can now display this on my blog!

Thank you all for reading. 

Thursday 1 May 2014

A Lonely Writer's Life Or Is It?

About a year ago, it hit me. I'd just completed a novel writing course and suddenly I was on my own - no weekly writing tasks, no sharing of ideas with other writers in the group, just me and the computer. I'd started to send off the odd short story and I continued to write my novel but I knew if I was going to make any progress on my writing journey, it was most definitely up to me. It could be quite a lonely life or so I thought.

So, what has changed to make me think I am now part of the writing community? I still shut myself away and write at my computer alone. I don't attend any writing classes at the moment either. Here are some of the ways that I feel supported as a writer:
  • Meeting regularly with writing buddies A group of us who met in the short story course, 'Telling Tales', meets every three weeks. We share our stories and set writing tasks for our next meeting. I also meet with writing friends in Newport.
  • Alfie Dog Fiction Having the first of my stories published on the short story download site was a milestone for me. Not only is Rosemary, the editor, very supportive with constructive advice about the writing submitted but you feel you are part of a world wide community of writers. There is an Alfie Dog forum where you can communicate with other authors on a whole range of topics. 
  • On-line critique group As I mentioned in a previous post, I am fortunate to be a member of an on-line critique group. Last July, on the Alfie Dog forum, I spotted a post from a writer called Patsy Collins who was asking if anyone was interested in an on-line critique group looking at stories aimed at the Womag market. Our web-site started by another member, Susan Jones - of 'Giggle Blog' fame ;-) -  may be found here at Write-critical. Susan also manages Write a Novel, another critique group which is run along similar lines. 
  • Twitter Having a Twitter account (@JanBayLit) and following other writers is something I would definitely recommend. I have learned so much from articles, recommended books, forthcoming programmes or events in tweets by fellow writers. I like to be proactive and am grateful to my growing band of followers for their support. One writer I follow, Sandra, (@tonisands) got in touch to invite me to a lunch time meeting with the local RNA members. Here we are having lunch at the Barocco in Cardiff this week. Thank you everyone for making me so welcome!
  • Writing Blog As you know, I started this in January and like to post regularly on the same day each week. Yes, it takes time and maybe takes time away from writing my stories or novel but I like the fact I am mapping out my journey as a writer. I also benefit from following other writers' blogs. The list alongside is growing ever longer. Often it's reassuring to know those writers experience the same highs and lows that I do and the ones who don't have many 'lows' are my inspiration!
  • Writer page on Face Book Last weekend, I started a new page Jan Baynham Writer. I'd love it if you 'liked' the page after reading some of the posts. Thanks! 
So you see that in the last twelve months, I have enjoyed so much support from real writing friends and the on-line community that perhaps it's not such a lonely journey after all. A big thank you to you all! :-)

I'd love to hear what you think about your life as a writer. Do you always write alone? Do you like to share your work or do you keep everything to yourself until the story or novel is finished?


Why not submit a short story for this exciting competition? Click on the link above for full details.
  •  1st Prize: £200 plus publication of your short story collection, from which you'll earn royalties, plus 5 printed copies.