Congratulations Kate Rawding

I’m pleased to announce that one of the members of The Writers at Lovedean, Kate Rawding first novel, The Unlikely Rescuers is now available for pre-order. Kate has attended my writing group for many years, and I have heard so many snippets from the novel that I am pretty excited to read the whole thing. It is interesting to be in a position where you witness a creative project from those first early days of a concept to a beautifully finished and polished version.

The main protagonist, Bravol, is a traveller boy, bullied in mainstream education. The Unlikely Rescuers is the first book in a trilogy and is out Christmas 2016.

You can contact Kate for more details via her website: http://kjrawding.com/home
kate-rawding

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How positive people aid success!

It’s been an exciting week on the writing front, requests for full MS, one of my short stories appearing in The News, and lots of support for The Writers at Lovedean writing competition. However, as delighted as I am with the input of good news, I am aware that I couldn’t have done it alone.

Since Tessa Ditner took over running Portsmouth Writing Hub, there has been a flurry of opportunities for creatives. If you suggest something to Tessa, she does her best to make your idea a reality; I believe a member made a comment about collaborating with The News, and now hub member’s stories are in print. All writers understand the thrill of seeing your words in front of an audience, but there is always behind the scenes hard graft to any printed piece of work. Portsmouth Writing Hub is a fantastic resource for artists, but you get what you put into the group. Although there is support for book launches and writers angst, it is mainly a home for positivity, a spot where creatives can discuss plans for creating art and liaising with others to make something new and awesome. You only have to look at the projects that are supported by the hub to see that, Darkfest, Day of the Dead, Dark Cities, and the Edward King Cityscape Project. These aren’t the activities of naval gazing writers lamenting how hard it is to get published; it is an energetic and vibrant mix of creatives wanting to push the boundaries of their work. My advice, don’t sit on the sidelines jump in and see where the opportunities take you!

I was delighted that Solent TV invited two members of The Writers at Lovedean into their studio to discuss our first charity short story competition. Long-time member Lynne Stone and relatively new member Jackie Green bravely stepped in front of the cameras. These two ladies are examples of what real creatives can do; they are delightful members of the group with such an inspiring ‘what can we do to help’ attitude. I know they were both terrified at the prospect of appearing live on TV, but they did a fantastic job.

You can read my story in the news here:
Short Story Punkat By Charlotte Comley in the Portsmouth News

Check out Portsmouth Writing Hub:
Portsmouth Writing Hub Facebook Page

The Short Story Competition:
The Writers @ Lovedean Short Story Competition

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Damon L Wakes:
Writers – Why you should blow up a dog


 

Today, I was lucky enough to get an incredibly talented young writer to come and give a writing session at The Writers at Lovedean. Damon L Wakes novella is looking for pledges on the Unbound scheme. Not sure what that is? Well, Unbound is a crowd funding project, where writers have the opportunity to get published by Penguin. Damon came to the group to explain how the scheme works and to ask for pledges for his novella, Ten Little Astronauts, an Agatha Christie-inspired murder mystery novella set on board an interstellar spacecraft. He also explained why it is a good idea to blow up dogs in his five great writing tips!

I do hope you will check out his page on the Unbound and think about pledging!.

unbound.com/authors/damon-l-wakes

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The List Writer

So in a moment of madness, I decided to have a go at Vlogging!

I am a list writer. Over the last few weeks, I’ve received one or two negative comments about my list and actions plans. But I’ve decided that they are part of who I am. Everyone has their own writing process, in fact, I sometimes find that different projects need different approaches. And it’s easy to worry that perhaps you are not using the right approach – but instead I’ve decided to celebrate the way I do things.

Also, I made what I now think may have been a rash decision. I’ve decided to stop using Nutella for emotional support.

On the up side, it was a fun way to connect to my tech fan youngest daughter during the holidays!

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Fat and Running

Fact: I’m fat.
Fact: I run.
I started running not because I wanted to lose weight but help combat the depression. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)recommends that people with mild to moderate depression take part in about three sessions a week, lasting about 45 minutes to one hour, over 10 to 14 weeks. But if you want to get the chemicals you need to battle the blues, you need to break into a sweat.
Despite all the advertisements claiming that you can go from couch to 5k in 12 weeks, I knew that was an unrealistic goal. So with the help of a trainer called Alec, we set out on a twice-weekly programme. For the first few weeks, we walked a lot and ran a little. It took twelve months, but now I run 5k twice a week. I haven’t lost a lot of weight, but I haven’t dieted.
But my mood has improved. When I do hit a bump in the road, I recover faster. I’m fitter, and a few other health problems have improved.
So here are a few points should you decide to get your trainers on and go for a run.
Start small and make yourself some realistic goals to get back into shape.
If you are a fat woman and running alone there is a chance you may hear, ‘who ate all the pies,’ or ‘fatty.’ Ignore it. If you can look in the car, you may be surprised at how fat the driver is! Don’t pay any attention, if they knew then pain you had to run through they may hesitate. But people who hurl abuse aren’t the sort who can walk a mile in someone else’s trainers.
Which brings me to the point of trainers, you need a decent, but not massively expensive pair. After all, if you keep it up, you’ll have to replace them often.
Fat makes running harder, but not impossible. A good sports bra is an incredible asset.
Over the last few years, I have tried everything to keep the depression in check, and this has hands down been the most successful.

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Photo Phobia

I’ve been working as a professional storyteller in Hampshire since 2008. Over the last few years, I have been getting regular bookings, and I have already a few events booked for September, which gives me a lovely warm and fuzzy feeling. But I’m aware that I have changed my storytelling website for years.

It’s a difficult decision to make when your original system is getting results. But with a sad heart, I’ve decided that my Charlotte Comley Storyteller site news some love, and I’m also aware that I seem to have developed a fault. One minute it’s working and the next time you follow the link you get a message saying the site is under construction, so frustrating!

http://www.charlottecomleystoryteller.co.uk/AboutMe.htm

The only thing I’m nervous about is that it is also time to have a new headshot. It amazes me how some people can just smile at the camera and come away with the perfect shot. And others, well me, feel I need a lot of soft focus.

If I’m honest, the reason while I’ve waited so long in updating the site is the publicity shot.

We hates it.

 

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Five ways to find time to write during school holidays.

IMG_2648It’s the school holidays – yeah!

Love them or hate them, if you have school aged kids you can’t avoid the six-week stretch. I love the kind of parent I am during the holidays. The tension lifts. The constant need to check on homework status, remembering signed forms, and packed lunches disappear.

For the last few years, I have been privileged enough to be able to work from home, which means, that even if I’m juggling and distracted – I am around. Many writers’ friends are stressed at the thought of losing their few precious writing hours when their kids are at home. Now my kids are teens I would say ‘be kind to yourself.’ It’s six weeks, and as children get older, they may learn to understand your need to have a laptop on their knee or pen and paper in their hands and will give you that time. In fact, you may find that they need their own quiet time to work on their projects.

But if you can’t face the summer without a creative fix there are a few things you can do.

  1. Sign your kids up for an activity in a place which as a café. That way while you kids have a go archery, you can write a few words with coffee.
  2. When my kids were younger, I would walk them. In fact, my dear friend Raymond often asked if I had children or dogs. Long walk around the park. Picnic. Another walk around the park. Then home, early bath, pj’s Disney film, and while the kids watch Belle, I enjoyed a bit of novel planning.
  3. Play dates. The theory is that you have a friend’s child round to play at your house, and then they have yours. Watch out, I’ve had my fingers burnt. Lots of friend coming here and no invites back. In fact, my youngest daughter is 14 and on Tuesday she had eight, yes EIGHT, friends round to make a Youtube video. The problem is if you have several children of different ages. Still, I know some who swear by it.
  4. Get the kids writing too! This one was a success for me. For the last few years, each summer has started with the kids starting their novels. Then you can all write together quietly. Top tip, give them your smart phone and get them to ask Siri.
  5. Use this time for plotting. Just jot down your ideas, and don’t worry about getting all the words down.

 

I didn’t get much done when my kids were small, and I did find it frustrating. But hang in their writers with young kids, your time will return.

 

 

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A little thought about time.

I never seem to have enough time; I always want to cram more into my day. But my dog, Watson, a rather difficult West Highland Terrier has his personal schedule.

Humans value time about as much as we value money, but rarely stop to think that both of these things only exist because we agree they do. The natural world does not run on my strict schedule, but according to the natural rhythms and cues of the planet. There is no rushing an animal, well Watson, to do anything they aren’t ready to do. Watson will go on a walk when he wants to, come back to me only when he’s finished sniffing the last message and sleeps when he’s tired.

So, if we value time so much why do we waste it, feel guilty about it and expect everything to be done in a shorter time than actually possible?

We think we should get everything the moment we need it. I’m reading Looking for Alaska, and this quote just jumped out at me.

 

“What the hell is instant? Nothing is instant. Instant rice takes five minutes, instant pudding an hour. I doubt that an instant of blinding pain feels particularly instantaneous.”

― John Green, Looking for Alaska

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Writers embrace your jealousy!

So you’re melting in the heat, thinking about your to-do list, and a friend turns up and tells you she’s just signed a three book deal.

How do you feel?  Pleased, yes of course, next a massive wave of jealousy followed by a brief wave of self-doubt. My advice, chocolate! It’s not just good for a dementors attack.

This scenerio not an uncommon phenomenon in my life. In the writing community, I have often been the bridesmaid, but never the bride. I am fond of an American Comedy called The Middle; my favourite character is Sue Heck. She tries and fails, but that doesn’t stop her putting all her effort into every project. If you are a person who gives your best, you understand why jealousy is fleeting. I’ve never regretted putting all my effort into a project, and if it doesn’t turn out the way you wanted, you know you gave it a shot. Strangely, I have often found that unexpected opportunities are the reward.

And when confronted with someone else’s success at nine in the morning, when you know you’re doing your best on your projects you discover that jealousy is a GOOD thing. I remember being told jealousy becomes problematic when we act out in jealousy, or we wallow in it. I admitted my feelings, ate some chocolate, had a cup of tea and then pulled out my latest to do list with a critical eye. By 12:30 all negative feelings had gone and like Baldrick ‘I had a plan.’ In fact, I had lots of plans. One of which is to blog more regularly *waves hello*.

Imagine if J.K. Rowling had said to herself, “J.R.R. Tolkien already wrote a whole bunch of wizard-y books, years ago, and he’s a much better writer than me. He already has masses of adoring fans. I have none. Jill Murphy set her school for witches in a boarding school; I’ll better not do the same. 12 publishers have rejected my manuscript for Harry Potter. I’ll just quit now.”

We need to take the fear and negativity out of the word JEALOUSY and focus on the power it has to motivate, inspire and act as a call to action.  There is no faster or clearer tool for showing you exactly what you want. When you feel jealous of someone that is a clear indication that something missing in your life that has yet to be fulfilled.

Take a moment to look at your achievements; you tend to forget your moments of awesomeness when feeling jealous. Already I’m feeling less like a failure.

Next look at any limitations you have, lack of cash, time or energy. Is there any way round these problems?

What is it that I think I’m missing? Write it done and then work on an action plan. Now I’m feeling motivated. So be like a dog, live in the moment!

The people you feel envious of are people who are getting things done and working hard. I dislike the attitude that they have been given something you haven’t. If my mate turned up and told me that someone had given her an enormous wad of cash for doing nothing – I can understand the logic. But all writers know the work that goes into writing the novel. Instead of associating their success with things they’ve been given that you haven’t, associate it with a level of work, drive and talent.  Next, throw yourself into your action plan.

 

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Portsmouth Plugged In

Portsmouth Festivities’ 2016, the theme was Electricity, and for ten days the city celebrated Arts, Culture and Heritage. This year was a special event because my idea was in the programme, Portsmouth Plugged In, a collaboratIMG_3473ion between writers and filmmakers.

It was the first time I have ran a creative project of such size, eleven writers used film footage as a writing prompt and then produced monologues which were performed and filmed. You may want to check some of them out.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aptl2TWtMi8

I thought it would be useful to write list of some of the things I have taken away from working on a project of this size.

  • Procrastination does not work. After assimilating the relevant information, decisions need to be made. Wrong decisions can be salvaged, if discovered early; but right decisions cannot be postponed.
  • When things go wrong, know who you can turn to for help.
  • The success of a project is largely dependent on the skills and strengths of the people involved. Therefore, a project needs to have a dedicated, talented set of individuals working towards a common goal. I was extremely lucky to have a fabulous team around me. http://www.portsmouthpluggedin.uk/our-team/
  • Some people are difficult, but most are fabulous, don’t sit in difficult peoples shadows.
  • Celebrate – things may not have turned out the way I imagined when I put the concept together, but I was extremely proud of the finished project.
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