Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Writing books and riding bikes - April in Palma

Writing Process - Submitting the novel

It's been less than 24 hours since I sent my novel off to my agent. DUN DUN DUN! Let's hope it passes the test. 

It doesn't always. During the 8 long months it took to sell Spray Painted Bananas (published as The Temp), I wrote 70,000 words of a novel set in a storage facility. A few days after submitting it, my agent rung to say, "the thing is... we don't really like it."

That was that. Months of work gone up in smoke. Nothing's wasted though. Like anything, the more you practice, the better you get!

Travel  - Cycling Tour in Palma

While my novel waits to be clicked open in an inbox in London, I've got plenty to do for SeeMallorca magazine. Last week I joined a Palma On Bike Tour. If you're visiting Palma soon, I really recommend it. It takes the pressure off you having to prove your map reading skills. The tour involves a leisurely cycle ride around the historic centre with a friendly guide dishing out interesting facts.  

For instance: Did you know the island of Cabrera is nicknamed Cannibal Island? It's because during the Spanish War of Independence they used it as a prison for over 9,000 French prisoners, and due to storms and arguments, the Spanish didn't send over food for three months... you can guess the rest.  

Any historical horror writers out there looking for an idea? You're welcome! 

You can read my full review of the tour.

Entertainment - Time Travel TV show

I'm currently in love with a Spanish series called El Ministerio del Tiempo. It's about a secret department of the Spanish government whose job is to make sure the past doesn't get altered. There are three main characters from different centuries who go back and forth in time sorting out problems created by agents who make mistakes and by illegal time travelers not following the rules.

In one episode El Cid gets killed 20 years too early, when agents from the 60s distract him while filming him. The silly agents had been tasked with getting footage of the famous Spanish knight fighting, to help Charlton Heston prepare for his role as 'El Cid' the 1961 movie, starring himself and Sophia Loren. 

I love shows that remind me how many different ways you can tell a story and how many thousands of stories there are to be told! I'm getting excited about what my next novel will be about... although I'm afraid I doubt it will involve time travel!

My New Tuesday Blogging Habit

In my blog workshops I've always emphasised the importance of sticking to a theme and writing consistent and valuable content. If you want to grow a blog following, then that's what you've got to go! 

However after a fall out with blogging and a long break, I've decided to simply write what I feel like every Tuesday. Perhaps I should call it Diary of a Writer in Mallorca? I don't know. For now I'm just going to with the flow!

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Mallorca Living: Restoring the Balance

One week back in Mallorca and I'm starting to feel myself again. I might even take back what I said about not wanting to travel. I'd consider flying to Ibiza. Maybe. If you twisted my arm.

To assuage my fury about Carrefour's despicable packaging (four sausages, four styrofoam trays), I went on my first coastal cleanup of the year. It has to be one of my favourite forms of volunteering because I love being outside and walking with a purpose.  

The views along the coast south of Palma are breathtaking. Rugged grey rock contrasted against this mesmerising turquoise sea, with dozens of white yachts dazzling in the sunshine. 

Picking up rubbish doesn't feel much of a hardship with such a backdrop. Added to that, we had a musical duo playing a bagpipe, drum and flute accompanying us. It was very uplifting. 

Less uplifting was finding heavy bottles of cava tucked into bushes so early on in the walk. Celebrate people, by all means, but take your rubbish home with you! Same goes for all those leaving balls of aluminium foil everywhere. You've eaten the weight of your sandwich guys, it's not much to take the wrapper! I wrote a short report for SeeMallorca

I also feel more myself because I've been writing every day. I've completed the 2nd draft of my novel about a hen party that goes missing in Mallorca. At 77,000 words it's still too short, but there will plenty more editing to come. 

I've nicknamed it The Last Straw, after my first three failed attempts to write it. The moment of truth has come. I now have to read it and see if it makes any sense. Fingers crossed!

My Twitter feeds is so busy with tips, quotes and blog posts that sometimes it's hard to see what's good and what's fluff. But the other day this article by writer Jeff Goins popped out at me with its clever title: Why Quitting Your Job and Chasing Your Dreams is a Terrible Idea. It's all about creating good habits and working steadily towards what you want rather than hoping for this miraculous, over-night success. I found it reaffirming so I thought I'd share it in case you do too! 

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Happy New Year in April Packaging

Happy New Year! Yes, it's a little late, or early, what with it being April. However after a stream of rubbish events, I've made an executive decision to right off this year so far and start again from now.

So here we are. A brand new year. What are your hopes and dreams for it?

One of my dreams is that Carrefour changes their ruling on packaging sausages individually like this:

No, they wouldn't put them in one bag and put four stickers on them. They had to house them individually because if you put sausages altogether they start fighting...Yes, that must be it. And then if you get caught up in the fight while you're trying to separate the angry sausages, and one of them lashes out and breaks your nose, then you might sue Carrefour. 

FFS Carrefour, think about the whales!!! And the future generations who won't be swimming with dolphins but with rubbish up to their necks!!!

But I don't want to begin the year with a rant... 

One of the things I am truly excited about this year is that I don't have any trips booked anywhere.

Unlike my usual hopes for the future, I have absolutely no desire to go on any adventures in far off lands or aspire to have any exotic holidays. Those tickets you got me to the Caribbean, you can keep them. The furthest I'd like to travel is my local supermarket*. (*Thankfully my local supermarket isn't Carrefour but somewhere that doesn't feel the need to wrap a carrot in tarpaulin). 

Why do I shudder at the thought of voyaging afar?

Because I've been on 11 flights in 6 weeks and I still feel that parts of my body are in different countries. Only one of those was a long haul so I'm probably not justified in feeling this way. But that's how I feel. Frankly, I think my health has suffered. Enough is enough.

I'm thrilled to be back in Mallorca and relishing the thought of having my working routine again. I want to type so much my fingerprints get wiped off (Ha! That would stop me travelling very far!) 

(Damn it. Now I feel guilty because I'm lucky to be able to travel so extensively with my EU passport!) (Please vote for Britain to stay in the EU!!)

Anyway, whether this new novel I'm writing is any good or not, I can't be sure. But earlier I read a quote from Lionel Shriver which said: Finish it. There is nothing more depressing than an abandoned manuscript.  

So I will.  

I'm also going to be continuing to explore the island for SeeMallorca and learning to drive so I can be a more efficient reporter. Rather frustratingly I'm still studying my theory which is more baffling that everyone promised. Take rules on seat belt wearing for instance. My question for them is: 

If the 'banda abdominal' is dangerous when worn across the 'abdomen', why is it called a banda ABDOMINAL? ... really, at the rate I'm going I'll be retired before I learn to drive.

However, it's a new year, so I'm going to be very positive. Lalalalala. 

As ever, one step at a time...