Just life, Writing journey

Writing, Lockdown and June Update

I have written June update in the title but it should read 2020 update because this poor blog has remained largely untouched since the RNA Afternoon tea last year. Why, when I have exciting good news to tell you? The answer may not be what you expect. 2020 has been a dystopian year throwing life unimaginable challenges but the main reason I have been missing is I have been writing. Yes, writing, editing and The End has been typed on the last page of A Blend of Magic.

But first, a catch up of the year.

This Year’s News

  • Last year I won a free six-month mentorship with Alison May, which started in January. This has been a turning point in my writing, confidence and determination to finish A Blend of Magic and not hide it away in a drawer but send it out in the world. I just need to keep my fear of failure under control. Her advice and support has been invaluable.
  • I was given another bursary for the New writer’s Scheme at the Romantic Novelist’s Association. If you write any form of novel with a romantic thread, check it out. As with my mentorship, the warmth and support of the Association has had a massive influence in my writing. Or check out the speech from the Queen of Romantic Fiction Milly Johnson speech. She says it all.

 

 

  • Lockdown happened and I was placed in the shielding category. As I am usually at home not much changed except, I can not see my aunt or meet up with my local writing group on a Friday. It is amazing how much two hours a week of human company can be missed. Thank heavens for WhatsApp. As doom and gloom raged outside the bubble around me, I decided to hide in my imagination. I have surfaced to catch up with my writing friends and drink tea. This was the best decision as I have been productive and words have been written (except on here – oops).
  • I finished umpteen drafts of A Blend of Magic and sent it off to be critiqued with the NWS and within 3 weeks it was returned. The reader liked it and only a few tweaks are needed to improve it – phew!
  • For the first time I sent it off to an agent  (eek) and I have entered more competitions.
  • I have started a new project which I am so excited about. I wake in the morning wanting to connect with the characters and write their stories. Where they will take me? I don’t know and it is exciting to find out. I hope the enthusiasm lasts and does not dwindle the further I am into the manuscript as I am only 6000 words in. It is a step away from magic into the world of dance.
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All about the dance

The question is should Willow and Vincent make a fleeting cameo appearance or should it be set in a completely different world?

I hope you are all staying safe and as lockdown is easing you remain so. I have chosen to remain in my creative bubble a while longer and am grateful I am able to do so while others can not.

Take care

Love

Kate Kenzie's Blog

 

 

Book review, Writing journey

Book Review: 52 Weeks of Writing – Author Journal and Planner by Mariëlle S.Smith

It has been ages since I last posted and I will update you soon but today I am excited to share with you a review for a journal I have had the pleasure of using, 52 Weeks of Writing Author: journal and Planner by Mariëlle S. Smith.

Book Review: 52 Weeks of Writing – Author Journal and Planner by Mariëlle S.Smith

52 Weeks - cover-image
52 Weeks of Writing – Author Journal and Planner by Mariëlle S.Smith

Title: Book Review: 52 Weeks of Writing – Author Journal and Planner

Author:  Mariëlle S.Smith

Publisher: Independent

Release date: 25th Nov 2019

Genre: Writing Non-fiction

Blurb:

Are you ready to become the writer you were always meant to be?

52 Weeks of Writing will get you cracking by making you plan, track, reflect on, and check in with your progress and goals an entire year long.

52 Weeks of Writing will help you dig deep by offering questions and writing prompts designed to unravel whatever truths about your writing you’re ready for.

52 Weeks of Writing will keep you inspired by delivering a thought-provoking writing quote every week.

 

  • Do you struggle with setting goals that reflect your daily reality?
  • Do you want to practise breaking goals down into manageable chunks?
  • Would you like more insight into your writing habit(s) and figure out why you keep getting in your own way?
  • And do you want to create a sustainable writing practice that honours your needs and desires as a writer?

 

Then the 52 Weeks of Writing: Author Journal and Planner is for you.

52 Weeks of Writing brings together every lesson Mariëlle S. Smith has learned as a writing coach and writer. Wary as she is of comparisonitis and unhealthy competition, this author journal and planner was designed to help writers develop and fine-tune a practice that works for them.

If you’re ready to get out of your own way and become the writer you’re meant to be, pick up your copy of 52 Weeks of Writing today.

Purchase Link

https://mswordsmith.nl/journal/

My Thoughts.

I love writing. It is an ideal way to escape reality and I love exploring my imagination, meeting new characters and world building but I struggle constantly with self-doubt, motivation and organisation so the blurb attracted my attention. It offered to tackle my issues.

The introduction is an encouraging pep talk and gives you an understanding of how to use the journal and why. It made me eager to grab my favourite pen to get started.

Each week begins with a writing related quote and then split into sections of clarity, which encourages you to delve into your views on your writing, goals, planning and a writing prompt. The layout is clear, and easy to understand.

I loved this journal and one day would love to own the physical copy rather than the digital. By making me sit for a few moments weekly to answer the questions it helped me focus on my writing, reignite my passion when it was flagging or doubts crept in and made me more accountable to myself. There is a Facebook group to join for added accountability. Obviously  to work you have to be motivated to use it but I hope in a few weeks opening it up at the beginning of the week will be part of my routine.

Author Biography

52 Weeks - Author Photo
Enter Mariëlle S. Smith

Mariëlle S. Smith is a coach for writers and other creatives, an editor, (ghost) writer, and custom retreat organiser. In 2019, she moved to Cyprus, and island in the Mediterranean Sea, where she organises private writer’s retreats, is inspired 24/7, and feeds more stray cats than she can count.

Social Media Links 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mswordsmith

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mariellessmith/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtnYOpjmj83mvMM2L348F1w

Giveaway

I am thrilled to share this opportunity to win in this wonderful giveaway. Prizes available are:

Click here to enter.

52 Weeks - Giveaway

Thank you Rachel’s Random Resources and Mariëlle S. Smith for an advanced copy so I could give my honest, unbiased opinion.

Happy writing!

Love

Kate Kenzie's Blog

 

Just life, Writing journey

Awards, Afternoon Tea and Friends

As many of you know, I am on the New Writer’s Scheme (NWS) with the Romantic Novelists Association (RNA) and it has been an invaluable experience this year. Last Saturday was the annual York Afternoon Tea with the announcement of the winner of the Joan Hessayon Award at the stunning Merchant Taylor Hall. After meeting new friends at the conference in July, I had been looking forward to this event for weeks. There was a moment when it looked as if I would not be able to attend but to my surprise offers of lifts soon arrived. This is the kindest organisation I have come across. Everyone is warm, friendly and supportive. Many are willing to step out of the box to help. Going to one of those events is like coming home, you are greeted with hugs, wonderful food, encouraged to tell your news, and achievements, however small they are in the scheme of things, are celebrated and any falls commiserated. You also want to spend longer there than planned to soak up the love. I truly have found my tribe.

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Food Glorious Food

 

The spread of food was amazing and the macaroons were divine. While drinking lots of cups of tea I caught up with all the positive news from friends old and new. I am proud of all of them and excited that the conference and RNA has boosted their work and confidence too. Watch this space as I believe they will be up for the Joan Hessayon Award in the next couple of years.

The author’s of one of my favourite books, The Hopes and Dreams of Lucy Baker was nominated for the award. The Joan Hessayon Award is for published books by new writers. Jenni Keer’s books always make me smile with the subtle strands of magic running through them. Her warmth shines on the page making them ideal snuggling under the duvet. The mutual love of teacups is also a draw. My review for this is here.

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Alison May, Lorna Cooke and Hannah Begbie

There were fifteen contenders and more books have been added to my TBR list.  The worthy winner was Lorna Cook with The Forgotten Village. I am looking forward to reading this as soon as I can. The speech from last year’s winner Hannah Begbie with her novel, Mother, was inspiring and emotional making me more determined to write.

Other News

My NWS report from the RNA is back; it was positive and my novel, A Blend of Magic has promise. The readers comments were upbeat and encouraging so along with the weekend’s event I have a boost of energy to finish this latest draft.

Researching A Blend of Magic has reignited my interest in the paranormal, magic and witchcraft. What better way to learn more on these subjects than to enrol as an apprentice at my own The Enchanted Emporium. My journey as a rookie witch can be found here.

NanoWriMo is fast approaching and I have plans if A Blend of Magic can be rested in a drawer. Watch this space!

Thank you John Jackson for the use of the photos.

Happy writing!

Love

Kate Kenzie's Blog

All about Books, Just life, Writing journey

Hello September or Where the heck did Summer go?

It’s September already, another month has gone by without a peep from me on here; I still haven’t told you all about the RNA conference and there was much I could say. My plan was to blog about it while there or at least, give a round up the following week but nope – life had different ideas. My draft box was checked in the hope I could redeem myself by sharing one I had not finished but all that came up was this:

 

Summary of RNA conference

 

It is not quite the detail I had planned but it sums it up. It was an amazing weekend. I highly recommend it to all romance writers; the knowledge, support from speakers, authors and fellow newbies and the friendships made are priceless. The one to one appointments I had with the two agents and editor boosted my confidence, helped mould my proposed ending of A Blend of Magic into something more fitting and encouraged me to keep writing.

I met authors of books I have read and loved, all were lovely and encouraging including magical Jenni Keer and Sarah Painter, and the wonderful Dorothy Koomson. It was hard not to be starstruck when Katie Fforde talked to me, never mind when she bought me and friends a drink.

I also met fellow writers and bloggers I talk to online and they are all as lovely in person as they appear behind the computer screen. Watch this space for when they finish their books and their talent will be available for all to read. They include Kate Baker (https://violableu.com) , Emma Wilson (https://www.glasshousemagazine.com) , Jenny Kennedy (https://jekennedy.co.uk), Sandra Forder and Julie Morris (https://alittlebookproblem.co.uk).

Excuses, Excuses

My excuse for not being active blogging is I have been juggling having my in-laws to stay, frantically writing my manuscript to meet the New Writers Scheme deadline and dystonia flares and fatigue. Dystonia was always going to fight back and  I’m grateful it waited as long as it did.

I only submitted a partial rather than full manuscript to be critiqued by readers for the RNA. My in-laws were supportive at the beginning of their month long holiday but they soon became bored of seeing me type, dream or talk about my fiction. I am happier with my WIP than before I started to edit/rewrite it but I need to know if I am on the right track or if the magic element too much, too boring or the plot is just blurgh. Their advice will gratefully received however devastating it may be. Meanwhile I’ll keep plodding on with the knowledge that at least 3 people at the conference liked my first couple of chapters.

Books, Bookshops and little Gems

Last month, I read some wonderful books including The Lost Daughter by Sylvia Broady, The Unlikely Occultist by Isobel Blackthorn and the phenomenal The Woman in the Photograph by Stephanie Butland. Their reviews can be found on my book blog From under the Duvet.

I also discovered a wonderful new independent book shop,  The Little Book Emporium  in Driffield, East Yorkshire. This tiny store is full of old and new delights, literary surprises and is dangerous for the budget. Who needs to eat if you can have an unusual book? I have found this gem:

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And these:

How wonderful and useful will these be for witch research?

Enough rabbiting for now, it is time to write my next chapter while the house is quiet (apart from 3 Jack Russell snores from under the duvet).

Happy writing!

Love

Writing journey

The Worried Writer and Genre Limbo

I am writing this from Lancashire awkwardly drinking Yorkshire Tea; the War of the Roses may have ended centuries ago but there are still subtle undercurrents of rivalry between the two counties. I have found some Lancashire Tea in the small shop so I will have a guilt free cuppa later.

The Worried Writer and Genre Limbo
Time for Tea

I made it to the RNA conference and it is the last day. What an experience! In the talks I have listened to, people I have met and writing journeys I have heard, I feel invigorated in my creativity and determination to take the leap from writer to author. I did have a wobble of confidence yesterday because there are amazing writers in the group. The stories come alive with emotions and my scribblings about the comings and goings of The Enchanted Emporium appeared childish in comparison. This was impacted by my insecurity of the genre Willow’s and even Amber’s story fit. Too magical for women’s literature, not spooky enough for paranormal and with Amber’s tale it doesn’t sit firmly in the YA fantasy label. My explanations of the genre when asked were long winded “romantic contemporary women’s fiction with a hint of supernatural” felt like a mouthful especially when I struggle to say contemporary. Without a fit I felt no agent, editor would touch it so my mind latched on to the idea of self publishing; whatever A Blend of Magic is determined to be out in the world. Until yesterday. I made the snap decision to attend a lecture The Worried Writer by the delightful Sarah Painter instead of the scheduled one. It was a revelation.

Not only was the talk relevant to my worried mind and procrastinating ways in minutes she introduced her work as magical realism. It was a light bulb moment; that is my genre for both manuscripts. They have important themes, which I hope I can do them portray well, with emotion and depth but there is magic threaded through. It may sound stupid to some but having a name has given my work some value in my head and confidence to admit what I am writing rather than hiding it under a mumble.

I am a magical realism writer.

My tea has long gone and it time to mingle with writers who maybe worse for wear after the Gala dinner last night.

More soon.

Happy writing!

Love