Category Archives: Plotting

The Stay at Home! Literary Festival – Week 2 – Part 4 – The 2nd Weekend #SAHLF 2021

Saturday 8th

Poems for the Planet

Julian Bishop, Maggie Butt, Sarah Doyle and Cheryl Moskowitz are four well-published and prize-winning members of Poets for the Planet, who have come together to perform climate emergency poems and publish a pamphlet ‘Poems for the Planet’ (2020) with all profits to eco-charities.

Author Bio

Julian Bishop

Julian Bishop is a former television journalist living in North London. He was longlisted in this year’s National Poetry Competition and won the 2021 Poets and Players Competition. He’s also a former runner-up in the Ginkgo Prize for Eco Poetry.

Maggie Butt

Maggie Butt’s sixth poetry collection is everlove (The London Magazine Editions 2021) and a novel, The Prisoner’s Wife, under the name Maggie Brookes was published internationally in 2020.

Sarah Doyle

Sarah Doyle is a poet and PhD researcher. She is widely placed and published, with a pamphlet of collage poems inspired by Dorothy Wordsworth’s journals – Something so wild and new in this feeling – published by V. Press in March 2021.

Cheryl Moskowitz

Cheryl Moskowitz is a poet, novelist and creative translator. Together with composer Alastair Gavin she runs the poetry and electronics performance series, All Saints Sessions, Her recent pamphlet, Maternal Impression, is published by Against the Grain Poetry Press.

© Stay-at-Home! Festival

This was a great reading from a book which got swallowed a bit by the pandemic, like my pamphlet ‘Patience’, this collective of poets also saw the readings they had lined up for the promotion of this publication cancelled. This is an important book – as all books are- but the message here is even more believed from the year we have all just experienced.

Sunday 9th

Write a Book in 10 Easy Steps!

Blank page and no idea how to begin? This practical hour-long workshop is guaranteed to kickstart your inspiration. We will explore the nuts and bolts of what a satisfying story needs. If you want to write commercial fiction that readers will adore this workshop is perfect for you!

Author Bio

Cesca Major is a novelist and screenwriter. She writes books based on mysterious events and The Thin Place is based around the sinister happenings at Overtoun Bridge in Scotland – a place where dogs have been known to leap to their deaths. Cesca has presented shows for ITV West and Sky Channels in the past. She enjoys hosting or speaking on festival panels and films vlogs about the writing process. She runs writing retreats twice a year in the West Country and teaches creative writing courses for the Henley School of Art. She writes uplifting books under other names and currently has a TV series in development. Cesca lives in Berkshire with her husband, son and twin girls.

© Stay-at-Home! Festival

This was an incredible workshop to finish my festival experience and a true lesson in how much can be packed into a one hour session. Busily scribbled notes throughout and it was a delight to hear a truthful, honest account of a career writer. Lots of insight into the process of simplifying the big obstacles that stop people from completing projects.

Huge gratitude to the SAHLF team for making Spring 2021 slightly less of a weight to bear. This has been pure escapism and I have enjoyed every session I managed to attend.

Pulling off online festivals is no mean feat and you have, once again, been incredible.

Photo by on

5th Annual Writing Retreat INKSPILL


Copy of Event Flyer (1)

INKSPILL 2017 Coming Soon Celebrate Our 5th Year

Book yourself some time off and treat yourself to a FREE online writing retreat this Autumn. Join us in real time, or wander around the posts at your leisure.
Easy links to previous years will also be available.


INKSPILL – A Video From a Master – Stephen King


As the first shot of the video suggests there is language which may not be appropriate in this video. It lasts for just under an hour and mentions lots of modern literature. Enjoy!



Submissions, Picnics (Poetry ones!), Missed Events and New Ventures


The Week Off

Mr G took last week off work so we could do some work on the house and garden together and spend some time enjoying ourselves, I don’t think we will be going away on a proper summer holiday, fortunately the weather has been amazing and I won’t moan when it turns overcast as I have a ton of things INSIDE to be getting on with over the summer break.


New Work

The good news this week is I have already secured 1 job for the new term, it doesn’t offer many hours but will cover my part of the mortgage payment at least, as far as bills, food shopping, car expenses and spending money go, I will have to pick up a few more days work every week. But having that 1st contract means I won’t end up with a month of no work. September is not a particularly busy month for us.


4 Day Run of Events – Picnics (Poetry ones)

At the tail end of the week before I went to Coventry for Antony Owen’s book launch, then Birmingham to promote Restless Bones Poetry Anthology (published and launching in 3 weeks!), then took a drive up to Shropshire to go to Poetry on The Farm – an event organised by Jean Atkin to celebrate the end of her 3 month residency at Acton Scott Farm. Then on the Sunday I had an EPIC day – I have not had time to blog post it yet and I cannot wait to do so. Jo Bell was poet in residence at Hall’s Croft for Stratford-Upon-Avon’s Literature Festival, she also started ’52’, you will remember me posting about it in the New Year, we all met up for a picnic – over 52 of us, she has over 500 members in 52 now. It was an amazing day that involved picnics, raffle prizes, poets, reading 52 poems at The Shakespeare Centre to a festival audience, flash mobbing outside Shakespeare’s Birthplace (a sonnet of course!) and then not getting drunk in The Dirty Duck pub, by the river.


Watch Out for the 52 Post

I WILL write about it in a separate post, the Acton Scott post has just taken a couple of hours to write and put together, it is now getting late (past midnight) and I have some ACTUAL writing to do. Look out for the 52 post.

During the next week mainly because I was exhausted from the adrenalin of a 4 day run and also because Mr G had booked time off to be together, I didn’t go to any poetry events.


Missed Events

On Monday I missed Shindig in Leicester, I was invited and originally began performance poetry in Leicester in the 90s. I will go another time when I haven’t already covered 100s of miles the previous few days.

Tuesday (and I am still gutted about this) I was very tired and had actually fallen asleep when I should have been hitting the road. I missed Poetry Bites in Birmingham, always a great night, organised and hosted by Jacqui Rowe. Anthony and Joseph were there headlining and promoting ‘The Year I Loved England’, (I had already seen them in Coventry), Matt Windle  was the other headliner, always a pleasure (I am seeing him in Kidderminster in a few weeks) and Sammy Joe, who I have seen before, but it would have been good to see her again, plus all the floor spots, it was a cracking night by all accounts and I missed it.

Friday there was a night write event hosted by Jo Bell as part of the Stratford festival that I would have loved to have parted money for, my concern was staying awake 10pm to 6 am – I have spent months attempting to regulate my sleep, to make sure I am awake during the day and the knock on situation after breaking this pattern would be equivalent to jet lag. The decision was made for me when we went up to the garden in the afternoon and enjoyed some cold, crisp wine. Another year maybe.

Saturday there was a performance in the Stratford that I wanted to see.

Sunday there was Sunday Xpress in Birmingham and Al Barz facilitated a one off Poetry in the Park in Walsall. There was also a showing of ‘Tales of the Tat Man’ David Calcutt’s latest venture in Birmingham at tea time.

Phew! A week of activities and I didn’t manage any of them.


A week of Work- Gardens – Sun – Gas Men, Shopping, Theatre, Reading & Writing

I was still working at the beginning of the week, we spent some time running errands and whilst I was at work Mr G bravely tackled the back garden, completely transformed by the time I came home. We had a fire that evening and the neighbour sat out with us in the garden, although he went in about 3 hours before we did.

On Tuesday after I had tutored we spent time sunbathing on our new sun loungers in the garden and then watched a box set that we haven’t seen for ages, we managed to get onto the next season.

Midweek, we had the excitement of a house full of Gas Men changing meters and discovering holes we shouldn’t have had! The oven works better and poor Mr G spent the whole time out in the baking sun tidying up the front garden – which now looks amazing! A warm welcome. Again once the house was empty we went to sit outside.

© National Theatre 2014

© National Theatre 2014

In the evening my mum and I went to the Arts Centre to see the National Theatre production of Skylight. I have never watched a theatrical performance on a screen before (wonders of the digital world) but with the cuts to Arts funding this allows people who don’t live in London to see the shows. It was more like watching it live on stage than a cinematic experience would be. I loved it. (And the Arts Centre has Air con.- most places, including our home, don’t – because it is rarely this hot or dry for this length of time in the UK. So that was a real treat!)

I also took a couple of shopping trips for summer clothes and caught up reading my writing magazine, I have been an issue behind pretty much the whole of 2014, one day I read the July issue and then over the weekend read the August issue, freeing my time up to write now for a couple of weeks before the next issue arrives!

I also had submissions to make – one for a project very close to me, I wrote three pieces for that in the end and the other was 3 poems, 1 written especially and the other 2 heavily rewritten to a publication I have previously been rejected from, fingers crossed – we will see.

We discovered a new garden centre and spent an afternoon choosing plants for the garden display. We will be going back there soon.

We have frogs in our pond and the plants are establishing themselves well around it.

We have eaten lovely home-grown salad potatoes and beans, we are waiting on the tomatoes – they won’t be long. We have had strawberries & pak choi already, the cucumbers are growing and we have decided we need to give the allotment up. We have done it for 5 years and it was good when we had no garden of our own, but now we have the house project and a garden that needs constant TLC and I am gallivanting off into the world of words all the time, we just cannot find regular time to go and tend the plot. We never had the right tools, as we were very ‘natural’ harvesters, this meant jobs done in no time with machinery were taking forever with tools not fit for purpose. It has been a big decision, but there is room to grow some stuff in the garden and at least this way there will be less waste.

I had a brilliant time with Mr G, lovely to have the company, much missed today when he went back to work… (although my mum popped in for a catch up), Mr G is off again soon, although the poetry schedule won’t be abandoned next time, we are hoping to make a start on the house.


Current Submissions

I am currently working on submissions that have a tight deadline (of a few days) – a one act play/ monologue and a short story. Fingers crossed I planned and mapped out plot/action and characters today. I am hoping to write them tomorrow, edit and redraft/ proof and submit on Wednesday! Not ideal, but having been so far behind on magazine issues, have only just discovered the opportunities.


This week I have a Poetry Party tomorrow, Drummonds 42 event on Wednesday (performing), a possible road-trip to Wales, hoping to finish the week off with a workshop.

If the road-trip works out – I will miss OXJAM Slam which is a charity fundraiser (OXFAM) and a night celebrating the life and words of Maya Angelou.

Hope you will understand now why my posts have been infrequent this month – will try harder to regularly post in August as my writing life will be getting very exciting!


Happy writing x


Day 13 NaNoWriMo – 13 Unlucky for Some (NOT ME!)


I owe my Nano Manuscript over 2200 words (from the past 2 days) and 1667 today – let’s just call it 4K! Over the marathon weekend I only managed 5K ….

However I knew what the problem was;

Exhaustion and the need for SLEEP – I have fallen asleep by 9pm for the past 2 night writes -resulting in SMALL word counts, Tuesday I produced 800+ and just 309 words last night.

Both writes were tough… why? I HAD NO PLOT!

I didn’t mean to be a pantster this Nano (one who flies by their seats of their pants with no plan and free writes through 50K!) It just happened this way as I was far too busy in October with work, poetry, performances, Literature Festivals and organising the Inkspill Writing retreat to complete any planning and preparation for NaNoWriMo.

Last night when I finished my measley 309 words I decided I needed a plan!

Today I was home and ready to write at about 2pm – I have spent the past 40minutes, drinking coffee, planning and researching.

Here is where today’s NaNo started;

1 nb 1 nb nan (excuse the 70’s carpet we haven’t yet replaced… it is warm and deep and I intentionally took a distance shot – not that anyone would want to steal my story arc planning – but it keeps the story a bit of a mystery!)

In my notebook with a story arc plan for each character followed by a list of chapters and main events.

Of course the 50 000 words is only half the story and I plan to use the spring and summer camps to finish it if I can. footer-camp

Right off to start writing in stages.

2:45 pm Stage 1

POST TO BE UPDATED – pop back and find out how I have done!

3:00 pm

  • I have already beaten last night’s word count – in just 15 minutes,  321 words!

3:45 pm

  • An hour after starting and I have 1342 *nearly finished today’s word count and then to catch up! It is so much easier when you have a plan.

BREAK – Caffeine and much needed cake – the sugar will keep me awake now that day light is fading… and the best thing – I would usually still be at work and in the past 2 hours I have managed all this, as well as a mini-food shop on the way home and lunch!

4:15 pm Stage 2

  • Slippers on and 5 minutes into the write I have accomplished today’s word count: 1670

Off to update NaNo Stats and then I will carry on catching up the missing words from this week!

Words Written Today
Total Words Written
Words Remaining
I love it when the words written and the words remaining get closer to the same number 🙂
I have been writing for about an hour – I have researched medical facts and treatments for injuries – Mr G is also home from work.
I have written another 1293words.
nano ame
Here comes the stats update!
Words Written Today
Total Words Written
Words Remaining
Imagination Rain.eps
I think I can make the 4K!
nano 25000
6:30pm Stage 3 
I think…. therefore I am (Descartes) and now I finally understand it…. after a 40 minute write at 7:10 pm I smashed through 25000! WOW! Having a plot really helps!
2012 brighton 625
There are an unbelievable

2013 Novelists

2 9 8 , 5 9 7 Wrimos taking part – that’s 298, 596 other people as mad as me! 🙂

Words Written Today
Target Word Count
Target Average Words Per Day
Total Words Written
25,853 nano voice in a million 25
Words Remaining
24,147 (whoahoo LESS than those I have written!)
Over half way – less than 50% to go! Yipeeeeeee!
  • If you are ahead of the word count, try to stay ahead.
  • DO NOT feel guilty for occasionally not making the word count. I haven’t managed the past 2 nights, the important thing is I turned up and wrote… even if it was only a few hundred words.
  • So turn up.
  • Turn up and WRITE!
  • Plan – have a plot no matter how flimsy or flexible.
  • Have in mind what you want to achieve each day, as far as the content – what you will write and even a target number of words if that works for you.
  • BITE SIZE chunks – it works for revision and it works for creating too. Tonight I had 3 sittings and managed over 4000 words.
  • In the words of Nike – JUST DO IT!

My 1st NaNoWriMo


Starts tomorrow. I have the whole plot mapped out now in my notebook and the setting of the opening scene and some of the main characters experiences all mapped out ready to roll my first write (of at least 1667 words) tomorrow.

Delighted! Just half an hour ago I still had no idea what I would write.

I will be posting trials and tips throughout NaNoWriMo and will do my best to link posts together. If you want to jump on board and be a personal cheerleader I would appreciate that and if you are crazy enough to think it’s a good idea and want to join many professional and hobby writers check out and sign in!


Nano The Real Reason Writers Keep Notebooks

Nano Posts Begin

The Real Reason Writers Keep Notebooks – Pre NaNoWriMo #1


I decided to take part in this year’s NaNoWriMo back in February – when I first discovered it… I practised with the 2 NaNoWriMo Camps they have in Spring and Summer – so you would think that by now I had an idea?!

Well… ahem…. er….

Now NaNo is brilliant for any writer who has the ideas and needs the time to get the book down – it will generate at least half a manuscript or nearly a full one if you are going for a Novella….

For a writer with no ideas, it could be over before it has begun!

And so I turn to the copious notes I have taken all year in my handbag sized writers notebook. 1 med

And hurrah! Inspiration struck almost immediately and I turned to that section (September) and have now made several pages of notes on initial ideas in my A4 Notebook (which I started in 2013) 2013 and has a ton of inspirational and essential workshop notes and tips.


This year Mr G and I made no plans for Halloween, other than carving our homegrown allotment pumpkins later and making pumpkin curry from the insides!

And yet here I find myself – feeling like a witch over her precious concoction in the cauldron, adding just the right amount. Tonight I am cooking up a brew – a witches brew – a story plan for NaNoWriMo and it’s going to be magic!