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.