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.


5 Year Writing Project: 2016 round-up

Round up of 2016’s writing achievements, and a quick look ahead.

In August 2013, I signed up for Misha and Beth’s 5 year project. The idea was to set yourself a writing goal and then stick with it for 5 years until you achieved your aim. In my case, my goal was to get a novel finished and published.

3 years and 4 months later and I have:

bullet-30 Achieved the first part of my goal. Yes, my novel is written. It’s called The Reluctant Scribe and is a historical novel set in the Tang Dynasty, 7th century China. I’ve had feedback from various people, including a professor of literature, and it has all been positive. Continue reading “5 Year Writing Project: 2016 round-up”

Desperately seeking a final story

Yesterday was the last day of NaNoWriMo

desperately-gif-500

Apart from one day of panic, when I thought I might have sucked my brain dry of inspiration, I’ve done pretty well during this NaNo month.

30 short stories in 30 days is no mean feat.

Yesterday, it was time to come up with my final story and I turned to a wisp of an idea that’s been gentle wafting through my mind for some time.

It involved a woman searching for her tortoise. And finding love instead.

Anyway, that’s it. #30days30shorts over and done with. Now follows the most important part of any writing spree: the dreaded editing!


Illustrating the stories

Somebody asked me where I found the illustrations I used in this series of NaNo posts.

  1. I searched for Creative Commons Zero images (CC0) on sites such as Unsplash, Pixabay and Pexels,
  2. opened them in my Corel PaintShop Pro programme,
  3. modified them with line drawings on my Wacom pad,
  4. and experimented with various photo manipulation tricks.

It’s been great fun finding suitable images and converting them for each piece.

Creating the illustrations took almost as much effort as writing the stories themselves. Should have really called this project #30days30shorts30pics Anyway, here’s a gallery of them all:


Are fortune-tellers really con artists?

Or simply excellent interpreters of psychological ‘tells’?

fortune-teller-gif-500 What if a fake fortune-teller suddenly discovered her fortune-telling wasn’t a trick after all? What if she discovered she really could see into the future?

That was the starting point for yesterday’s NaNoWriMo short story.

But… as usual, the story ran away from me and insisted on becoming something different. So, instead of my fortune-teller being in possession of a supernatural talent, she turns out to be just really, really good at sniffing out the truth.

Sigh. I do my best to write about magic and the paranormal. But I guess this proves you can take the woman away from the science, but you can never take the science away from the woman. Or something!

Anyway, only one more day of NaNo left and one more story to go in my #30days30shorts challenge.

Day 24 and Day 25 of NaNo and I’m a winner!

NaNoWriMo 2016 is done and dusted. Or is it?

I’ve written 54,493 words and a few hours ago I pasted my text into the NaNoWriMo word count goblin, and he chewed it up, spat it out, and said ‘YES, you’re a winner!‘. Then the NaNo crew appeared, yelled their congratulations and gave me a round of applause.

This is my 6th NaNoWriMo win, and it’s still a great thrill to have finished.

But, wait, it isn’t over yet. As a NaNo rebel, my self-inflicted challenge was to write 30 short stories during the 30 days of November. One story per day. #30days30shorts

a short story by Ruth Livingstone, authorDay 24: Goodbye Cruel World

The prompt for this story was another Writing Magazine competition.

The theme?   “Goodbye.”

I got the idea for this story some time ago, but it didn’t turn out exactly as I planned. That’s been happening with many of my stories this month. They’ve been running feral and tearing off in new directions. Continue reading “Day 24 and Day 25 of NaNo and I’m a winner!”