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Uni Update: The last one for this year

That’s it, the term has finished. I should be relieved, it has been tiring and stressful at times, but I’m not. I’m anxious that I won’t see anything of the people I’ve met on the course now that it’s over. I’ve got half an assignment to finish writing and hand in on 26th, when I’ll see everyone again – we’re going for lunch. After that, who knows?

I’ll be back at uni in September to re-enrol, and then I have to wait until next January to start my final module before I do my dissertation. In the months between now and then I will be researching background information for my dissertation novel, and having a trial run at producing a booklet, which is the final assignment I’ll need to hand in, in a year from now before starting my dissertation.

Talking of assignments, I got 70% for my life-writing assignment. If I can get that or more for my ghost story, I’ll be very happy. I’m trying to get my assignment average results above 70%.

I’ve learnt some useful things this year. I’m better at prose than poetry, for a start. I have learnt to write reflexive essays, which were a complete mystery to me at the start. I have a vague understanding of how to write a script now. I got my highest mark in drama, although my 5000 word short story wasn’t far behind. Now it’s in third place after life-writing. I’ve had some useful feedback on my writing and I feel slightly more confident about it.

The next few months will be busy, as well as research for my dissertation, I will be finishing work on Hidden Fire, Fire Betrayed and Fire Awakened, and making progress on Fire Storm. I want to try to self-publish them. I made the decision based on a couple of things:

  • It’s hard to sell a series to an agent or publisher, and if I do sell the first book they might interfere with the rest of them
  • It can take years to get published the traditional way and I want these books out of my head and out of the way so I can get on with the other ones currently living in my head and demanding my attention. It’s very hard to focus on Fire Storm  when Thane of Lindsey, The Three Ladies, Wool Thief, Killer Granny and When the Fat Ladies Sing are demanding I write them, this instant. These are all provisional titles/nicknames, by the way. The first three are historical fiction and the final two are contemporary crime novels.
  • I want to share the stories with people

Probably not the best reasons but they are good enough for me. Right, there will be a book review, and three short stories later today, but first, it’s dinner time.

 

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Uni Update: The end is in sight

For this year at least.

I’ve been ill, am still ill, with an awful cold. Today has been the first day since Saturday that I’ve felt like doing anything much beyond napping. I missed university yesterday because I just wasn’t up to it. Next week is our final seminar before the Easter holiday. We have to go back in in late April to hand in an assignment, and for the majority there will be meetings with dissertation advisers, but not for me. I have another year to wait before that happens.

Last week was fairly quiet. We read through each other’s work and gave feedback. My tutor suggested I try reworking the first ghost story I wrote as it was better than the second. It meant I had to double the length of the original story but I managed it on Wednesday afternoon and evening. Before the cold from hell felled me, I managed to get some feedback on the re-write and make some changes. It’s been really helpful having the support and feedback of other writers. I just have to write my reflexive piece now, but that can wait for the Easter break, when, hopefully, I’ll be back up to snuff, health-wise.

Next week, will be a symposium rather than seminars and workshops. Everyone else will be telling us what their dissertation project is, and then in the afternoon there will be a poetry performance. The uni are providing food and alcohol. After that, we’re all off to the pub for a proper buffet a la Erika.

Apparently, people got their life-writing assignments back yesterday. I’ll have to wait until next week to get mine, but I’m not too worried. Sam would have said something if I’d messed up completely.

Due to being half dead for the last week I haven’t been up to reading much so no reviews at the minute, although I have been making progress with a book about 19th century Russia called ‘Who’s To Blame?’, so with any luck I might have a review for you in the next week.

Sorry about being a bad reviewer; the last month hasn’t been great, what with going from one infection to the next and the new anxiety/depression medication. Which is beginning to work, by the way. I’m mostly having good days, except for the random anxiety days, and my usual ‘argh I’m doing something tomorrow, must panic about everything that could possibly go wrong’ anxiety and sleepless nights. It’s progress. And I’ve heard from the ASD assessment centre in Grimsby. I have a form to fill in, which I need my sisters to help me with, because forms scare me, and on a practical level, they notice the things I do that aren’t considered ‘normal’ when I have a sensory response to a stimulus. I’ve noticed, now I have my tentative diagnosis,  and people have been told about it, if I need to react to an over stimulating event I will, whereas in the past I’ve forced myself not to and become more distressed in the process.

So, apart from the review of ‘Who’s To Blame?’, what do I have coming up?

Later today there will be a report from the East Midlands Writer’s Conference that I attended last Saturday. I was half-dead and failed to network at all.

Next month, I will be hosting two author spotlight posts and two novel extract posts, thanks to Rachel Gilbey at Authoright Marketing and Publishing, who contacted me to see if I would be interested in taking part in their ‘Spring Reading Week’. The posts will be up at noon on the 14th and 16th April, with my reviews of the books. I am still waiting for the review books to arrive, but hopefully they will get here in plenty of time.

Other than that, there will be the usual reviews and one final uni update for the year.

Right, I’m off to get an ice lolly out of the freezer and go back to bed.

 

Uni update: Week ?

I haven’t done a uni update for a few weeks, have I?

Sorry about that. I changed my medication during reading week and I’m still adjusting. Since then I’ve had two days at university. In week six(?) we started talking about ghost stories; what makes a ghost story, why people read them, etc. and watched a bit of ‘Spirited Away’.

I had started my ghost story, I’d already written one but it wasn’t long enough so I’m saving it to enter in to a short story  competition, probably the on-going monthly Writer’s Forum magazine competition. I’m waiting until I have some money though, because I want to pay the extra for a critique. Over the weekend, between weeks 6 and 7, I finished a second ghost story, which I hope to use as my assignment piece, because I don’t have much more in me in the way of ghost stories, not at the minute anyway.

In week 7 we talked about ghost stories we liked, and I borrowed a Dean Koontz book from my tutor. I read it in one sitting. It’s called Odd Apocalypse, and is part of a series. I don’t know if you’ve read it? I quite enjoyed it. I think I’ve tried to read it before and couldn’t get on with it but this time I could. Interesting characters and plot, and a different take on the ghost story/haunted house idea.

Other than giving each other feedback, I think we’ve pretty much finished ghost stories. Half the lesson last week was about what to do next, dissertations, getting published, that sort of thing. I told our tutor I had three complete novels and another five (at least) planned. He asked what I was doing with them. ME: Nothing, because I don’t know what to do next.

I have decided to try to enter more competitions. So far I’ve entered the ‘Writers and Artists Short Story Competition’ which was free – that was in February, and last night I entered the ‘Writer’s Forum Flash Comp 186’, which was also free because I’m a subscriber to the magazine, with a little sci-fi flash I wrote yesterday morning and left to bubble for 12 hours before I edited and sent it off. I’ve started another sci-fi short story that I’m going to enter in the ‘Writing Magazine’ competition later in the year. One of their monthly competitions had a sci-fi theme, so I’m going to try to enter that.

I’m going to enter ‘Hidden Fire’ in some ‘first chapters’ and first novel competitions, once I get my next student loan payment. The entry fees are about £15 – £30 so I’m going to have to be selective.

This week we are supposed to be sharing the first part of our ghost stories in class; since I already have mine written and it’s 3061 words I’ve shared it with my classmates already so I don’t have to read the whole thing out but can still get some feedback on it. I’m hoping to get some decent feedback, and to get more insight into what the hell I’m supposed to do next with my novels.

On Saturday I will be in Nottingham for the East Midlands Writer’s Conference. It will be a long day, as I have to catch the train at 7 a.m. and I won’t be home again until half seven in the evening, at the earliest (depending on whether I can get a lift from the station or not). I am looking forward to it, even if the thought of sitting in a room with a hundred-plus other people is uncomfortable. I have everything planned, down to which tram to get from the university to the train station in Nottingham on Saturday afternoon. The train tickets have been booked and delivered, I have my information pack printed out. I should be okay but I’m prepared. The new medication is definitely helping with the anxiety.

 

Also, awesome writer and course rep, Jo, has started her own book review blog. Go and see her work at https://feedmebooksblog.wordpress.com/. Also, she has a YA romance e-book out on amazon.co.uk, called ‘Hello World’, which she wrote a few years ago. It’s good, and she’s an even better writer now, so look out for more of her work.

In other news, my friend Michelle Conner released the paperback of her new novella ‘The Bound‘ yesterday and the e-book is released tomorrow.

 

Uni: Week 5 – Last week of Life-writing

Yesterday was our last life-writing workshop; I think I’m beginning to get there, and so is everyone else. I’ve made a few changes to my piece and now I’m working through my essay. It’s about half written.

It was a quiet day other than that. I drank a couple of cups of chai latte, had a natter with people before the workshop, nothing exciting happened. I cried a bit during the readings, but then I’ve been a little low and emotional this past week or so. I’m feeling better now and I have a few more ideas for my essay, so I’ll probably work on it tomorrow afternoon.

Next half-term we will be studying ghost stories and have to write one as an assignment. I’m listening to ‘Turn of the Screw’, and I have a few other books to read, including M.R. James’ ghost stories, and a book about critical approached to ghost stories.

Uni: Week 4

Yes, it’s the weekly update about my MA adventures.

I have my results back for the assignments I handed in at the beginning of term. For my radio drama I got 73% and a suggestion that I might consider writing radio drama for my dissertation. Another tutor suggested I’d have got a higher mark with a less restrictive subject, but I enjoyed it, It’s easy writing stories based on reality because once I get all the character traits and background detail, and the timeline sorted out in my head I can just fit it all together. Continue reading

Back to uni…on Wednesday

And I cannot wait!

Apart from anything else I’ll finally have some money. But that is only a minor consideration. I’m really looking forward to getting back to studying, handing in my assignment and being sociable for one day a week.

I had a last minute read-through of my assignments this morning and noticed a few things I’d missed before, so I’ve just spent half an hour fixing them. I’m getting organised for going back on Wednesday. The little laptop is on charge, and I have finally worked out how to use my digital voice recorder. I need to put the spare batteries in my back-pack just in case, and my laptop charger once I finish charging it up.I thought I’d got the little laptop charged up weeks ago, but I must have forgotten to shut it down properly and drained the battery.

I’m as ready as I’ll ever be. I just need to check train times. My ankle is too bad for me to walk to Habrough to catch the train so I’ll have to get the bus to Grimsby instead. I know what time the train leave Habrough, I don’t know what time it leaves Grimsby. And the bus timetable has changed, so I need to check that too.

I’m really excited. Can you tell?

 

Update: I have now checked my bus and train times, all is well. I shall get an early bus, go for a coffee at a local indie cafe, pop in to the wool shop and then catch my train in a nice, relaxed fashion. And I will not stress about any of this anymore. (Well, I keep telling myself that.)