Writing Update: Feb 2017

“We found it very compelling and well-written” but…

In August 2013, I signed up for Misha’s 5 year project. My goal was to finish writing a novel and to get it published.

Ruth Livingstone, writer, author and bloggerFirst, some positive news. I’ve been editing my second novel, a sci-fi adventure story for young adults, and enjoyed whipping the text into excellent shape. Only another 6,500 words to go… yippee.

Ruth Livingstone, writer, author and bloggerMore positive news: I’ve also been editing my short stories (a selection of the ones I wrote during my NaNoWriMo challenge #30days30shorts) and started submitting them to competitions. No news to report yet… fingers crossed.

Ruth Livingstone, writer, author and bloggerAnd more good news: These little signs of recognition mean a great deal.

  • The Ramblers contacted me last week, and asked me to write a blog post for their site, on the theme of footpaths. Done.
  • Last month my coastalwalker.co.uk blog was listed by Winfields as one of the best outdoor blogs of 2017.

Ruth Livingstone, writer, author and bloggerNow back to my main goal: I’m still trying to find a home for my first novel, a story set in 6th century China. Last month, I came up with a sub-goal: submit to 30 agents. I’d already submitted to 20, but people advised me to try harder before giving up.

typing-header-for-wordpressSubmitting is hard work. I’ve moaned about this before, but you have to:

  1. research the agencies,
  2. pick a suitable one,
  3. search that agency’s website for agents,
  4. look at their individual interests,
  5. work out if they are taking on new clients,
  6. look at the submission guidance,
  7. decide if they want a one-page synopsis or a two-page synopsis, or whatever,
  8. work out if they want three chapters, first 10,000 words, or whatever,
  9. check if they’re fussy about fonts (although why anybody chooses to read Times New Roman script on screen is beyond me!)
  10. write an enticing, personally tailored, and irresistible query letter,
  11. check everything (again) for typos and spelling mistakes,
  12. finally, shove everything into an email addressed to the RIGHT person,
  13. and hit SEND!

Sometimes it’s difficult to remember that agents are supposed to be working for the writer, and not the other way round.

Anyway, I’ve achieved my goal of 30 submissions. I’ve had 17 rejections, including some very nice ones with encouraging comments, and a few requests to see the whole manuscript. Now waiting to see if any more responses trickle in.

Writing Successes: celebration

cheering on Ruth Livingstone writerTwo little successes this week.

You must forgive me for some moderate boasting, but it seems I have been trudging through a writing desert recently. When I come across the occasional waterhole, please don’t blame me for wanting to linger in its shade and enjoy the view.

This week I had both a letter published and, much more importantly, a short story chosen to appear on a website.

1. A letter published

I had a letter published in Writing Magazine. Yes, it is only a letter, but it is my letter, written by me, and something the editor thinks other people might enjoy reading. Continue reading “Writing Successes: celebration”


Clichés are all around us. They may slip by unnoticed – but once you tune-in to clichés, you find them everywhere. And the more you notice them, the more irritating they become.

Clichés - Just say no!Do you speak in clichés and, worse still, do you use them in your writing?

A cliché is a well-worn phrase that has become meaningless through overuse. Clichés are all around us. They may slip by unnoticed – in our speech, in our reading or in our writing. But once you tune-in to clichés, you find them everywhere. And the more you notice them, the more irritating they become.

In my everyday language, here are the clichés I find myself using: