Mick’s Musings

Mick’s Musings: Remembered How To Write

rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x30011.jpgAt last, I’ve picked up my metaphorical pen and started writing again. After a couple of months of reading some very good books, especially some nice proofs (thank you Rosie Marguessen), I decided that it was about time I picked up my writing hat again. This was helped by the results of an online Pitch Event in the USA that I attended back in February.

The results were as good as could be hoped for, a couple of agents after mixed bags of both my current books; including two who asked for the complete manuscript!

Can anyone guess the problem there? Though one is as finished as it can get, the one’s that wanted the complete m/s for wasn’t. Or rather it was but only up to the second draft. Very clever bod that I am. So, I’ve spent the last couple of weeks going through two more drafts until it’s at such a state I felt I could send it off. Fortunately, both agents in their replies state that it’s ok to say if I’m a first time author and seeing as I’m not published, I took that as an okay to say I was; so I did. What will happen from these, who can tell, but nothing ventured, nothing gained.

These two weeks of hectic writing, reading, re-writing, re-reading (you get the picture) has also reminded me to send this latest off to the RNA’s NWS scheme. I didn’t last year, which is kind of a waste, but as I didn’t feel it was worth sending off a half-finished effort, I didn’t trouble the readers. However, the bug is BACK!!!! So that’s going to go off shortly, today if I get my finger out.

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Mick’s Musings: Felicitous Yuletide Greetings to you all!

rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x30011.jpgWell, here’s my final blog post of the year and it’s been a strange last couple of months. My personal writing has kind of ground to an unwilling halt for the last two months and I know the exact reason. I’ve transferred back to my old position at work and am often not getting home until nearly half seven in the evening and am simply too tired to pick up my laptop and write. I’m perfectly aware of what everyone, including myself, always tells anyone who wants to write – write at every opportunity etc… – but sometimes, that’s just not possible; especially when you don’t ‘like’ your day job that much

Which brings me onto my New Year’s Resolution; ignore the feelings above and WRITE!! Simple as that and I’ll do my best to hold myself to it. I was doing quite well with my writing for the first ten months of this year and I want to get back to how I was then. Here’s hoping for a better year at work.

So, what have I been doing if I haven’t been writing? Since I last wrote, I’ve devoted quite a lot of time to my reading specifically that of two FRC’s I’ve been fortunate enough to be invited to read.

The first was the smash hit on Amazon by the wonderful Sue Moorcroft ‘The Christmas Promise.’ I’m fortunate enough to be a member of her Facebook Group #TeamSueMoorcroft and because of my participation in the promotion of her through Twitter and Facebook, I was given the opportunity to read a preview copy of this fantastic novel. In the weeks leading up to its release on Kindle, I sent out daily ‘Twitter-Teases’ about it and enjoyed myself immensely. If I’m lucky, perhaps I should now consider myself friends with Sue? I wouldn’t be presumptuous enough to assume that, but I would be honoured if this were true.

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Mick’s Musings: Time Flies When You…

rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x30011.jpgTime flies when you’re having fun – and writing can be fun, though time flies in this case even if you’re not having fun. Of course, it can also behave as if you’ve got both feet stuck in quicksand.

This has actually got nothing to do with what I’m going to talk about today, it’s just something that’s been flitting around my mind for a while and I’m hoping that by laying it down on paper (so to speak) I’ll be able to get this wind-worm out of my head. Sorry if you’ve now got it.

Right, so what have I been up to since the last time I wrote?

For a start, there was the RNA Conference in Lancaster, probably the highlight of the writing year for me at the moment (at least until such a time as I get ‘that’ call) and as much fun as ever. My heartfelt, and belated, thanks to all who gave their time to present to everyone, word cannot be enough to express my thanks – quite ironic considering the purpose of the conference. Especially to Imogen Howsen for her ‘Speed Dating’ session. No, you did read correctly, though we didn’t come away with partners in that respect, but rather it was utilising the format to find Critique Buddies. I’ve come away with some terrific ladies – Lisa Hill, Elaina James, April Hardy, Sue Mackender, Samantha Bentall; Imogen has also foolishly looking at various attempts at my writing too and thanks out to Bernadette O’Dwyer as well for ‘being there’.

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Mick’s Musings: RNA Conference 2016 is coming!

rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x30011.jpgIt’s rapidly approaching one of my favourite times of the year, and if Coke can have their own tune and felt of glittery trucks as it comes to theirs, then why can’t we RNA’ers have the same? Instead of trucks, why not a line of sparkly shoes dancing across a vista of wine bars, to the accompaniment of ‘These Boots Were Made for Walking? Devil in Your Shoes? Diamonds in the Soles of Her Shoes – that’s probably the best one and the one least likely to get me murdered in my sleep at the conference.

I hasten to add that this doesn’t apply to me – I just couldn’t find a pair to match my eyes!

Now I’ve completely alienated myself for the weekend…yes, it’s that time of year again. The Annual Romantic Novelist’s Association Conference is being held in Lancaster this weekend 9/10th July. A time to catch-up with people we probably haven’t seen since last year’s. Gossip will abound, congratulations will ensue to those who’ve secured a Publishing Deal and/or an Agent and those of us still endeavouring to get the same will bite our ‘stiff upper’ lips and come away all the more determined to be amongst this group by the next year.

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Mick’s Musings: And It’s Goodnight From Him….

rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x30011.jpgAnd it’s good night from him.

A simple line, but by gum, I wish I could have written it! So, another of the great entertainers takes their final curtain call in a year that so far, I for one wish we could do without. We’ve lost so many already this year. You’ll be missed Ronnie Corbett.

As writers, we’re always hoping to come up with that ‘killer’ line, those few words that, on their own don’t mean anything, but put them together in the right order and bam! Of course, it’s the 400th anniversary of a certain gentleman’s birth this year who’s become the go-to writer for killer lines. Yes, I am taking about the Bard of Avon, William Shakespeare, but don’t worry, this isn’t going to be another half-baked celebration, for a start, and please don’t tar and feather me, I’m not a huge fan. I can just about take some of his comedies, but any of his serious plays usually send me to sleep – sorry.

My point is simply that we use his killer lines in our everyday speech, most of the time without knowing it, and wouldn’t we all love to be quoted! In the good way of course. It’s only six words, ‘And it’s good night from him’, but so memorable. I think we could all quote scenes from our favourite novels, but most of us wouldn’t be able to quote a favourite line, or perhaps rather one that would stand out for longer than a few months in our minds.

Which brings me onto the update on my present WIP. I talked in my last Blog update about how hearing a radio interview had interrupted the flow of what I was writing at that time, if you recall. The new one, tentatively entitled ‘Three Little Words’ (but very likely to change. Not because I don’t like it, but because it’s already been taken a number of times), and as of the last few days, I have finished the first draft with the word count standing at 81,986 words. Deciding that I’d like to get about 10,000 words done from Monday to Friday kept me on track.

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Mick’s Musings: Strange and exciting things are a happening!

rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x30011.jpgYou may recall my telling you about my ‘current WIP’ and a certain feline that was in the process of taking over the story? That’s still ongoing, but I haven’t actually added to the word count since the middle of January – naughty Mick. But, I have an excuse and it’s a good one, but not so good in that I’ve had to put a temporary halt to this story. So, please put on your ‘understanding-type’ hats.

In the middle of January, I was driving back from a hospital appointment, the radio was on and as I hadn’t dropped dead from the tests, it was turning out to be a pretty good day. Then IT happened again. There was an interview being broadcast and two lines embedded themselves in my mind. Ah! There’s a good idea for a short story, I thought. So, quickly pulling over, I entered the lines into my phone and set off back for home.

Upon arrival, I kissed the Lady Wife hello, snaffled a hug off her and then, upon doing the husbandly checks to see if there was anything I could do, booted up the laptop, brought up a fresh page in Word, and scribbled down the two lines. They were perfect for the opening hook (well, in my humble opinion anyway) and then, I started to hammer out what I envisioned as a short story of about 2,000 words…and typed…and typed…and…you get the picture.

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Mick’s Musings: Authors Meet Up

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(L-R) Georgia Hill, Mick Arnold, Linn B Halton and Tora Williams

I went to an author/blogger meet up in Birmingham recently and I’d like to start by thanking the wonderful Kim Nash for not only taking the trouble to arrange it, but also for being such a gracious host; thank you Kim.

To those of you whom I didn’t get around to meeting, I’m sorry and, if like me, you’re down to go to the next one in London, I hope to at least be able to say hello and maybe share bookish experiences with you. I’ll be the one in the corner, looking not unlike a startled rabbit (but with slightly less hair).

Swift hello’s to a few that I did manage to meet, starting with the lovely Sue Moorcroft (always great to catch up) and the other members of her Facebook Team Moorcroft whose names I can recall. Louise Styles, hi and very good to meet and talk to you; Mark West, Sue told me about a short story you wrote (think it was yourself?) about someone with a foot fetish, thanks for the nightmares; Kim Nash, thanks again and very nice to put a person to the face. Bookaholic Holly, Georgia Hill, Janice Preston, Linn B Halton and undoubtedly others whose names I can only apologise for forgetting. Just think of a goldfish with amnesia and that’s me with names.

This was my first meet up of this kind and there are already two others this year that I’ve accepted the kind invitations to go to. If you’ve never been to one of these and you find an invite drop into your Facebook account, then I can honestly say that (assuming you’re either an author or blogger, or for that matter a keen reader) you won’t be in the company of such a warm and welcoming group of people – ever!

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Mick’s Musings: Fun! Fun! Fun!

rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x30011.jpgDoesn’t time fly when you’re having fun…now I need to find the time to have that fun.

When I’m writing, after the first few hundred words, so long as it’s flowing, it is fun. Characters I’ve created/am in the process of creating, stand up and wave their little paws at me (I like cats, heck knows why half the time, but my latest WIP has a quite prominent feline who seems to be making a bid for freedom) for attention and sit down to share a metaphorical cup of tea with me. Then there’s the (mostly) welcome appearance of a new character that I hadn’t even considered when the idea for the story first came to mind, and even after I’d actually done some planning!

With this WIP, it looks very much like it’ll now be starting at chapter three. So, what does that mean for the Prologue and the first two chapters? Well, not really wanting to throw anything away, I do believe that quite a bit can be incorporated into forthcoming chapters and I also have to admit, it does start off the story a lot better. It’s straight into mini-crisis, always a good way to start.

Thank you Kate T for the suggestion.

As far as these new characters? It’s a welcome to Tippy’s Posse. Okay, so she’s currently called Poppy, but I have a few too many characters whose names begin with the letter ‘p’, but I still like ‘Poppy’ so it’s really a case of watch this space.

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Mick’s Musings: Time is an Abstract Concept

rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x30011.jpgTime is an abstract concept, and I don’t even know where I was going to go with that, only that I was going to point out that when you have too much of it, you tend to waste it, and when there’s not enough, we moan that we don’t have enough. I guess what I’m trying to say, in a very roundabout way, is that I wish I could go back in time this year and start it off by writing what I’m currently writing about.

As (in my case still a ‘would-be-writer’ – I refuse to assign myself the title Author until such a time as I manage to get myself published) this year, I’m now on my third ‘Work-in-progress’ and so ran out of that precious commodity to be able to submit a completed, not even first draft, to the New Writers Scheme for the first time since I was fortunate enough to join the hallowed ranks of the Romantic Novelists Association. I’ve been metaphorically smacking myself over the head ever since the realisation that I’d ran out of time hit me as I left this year’s conference.

Slight aside – thank you to all who put together this year’s conference (if they may be reading) particularly Jan and John (hope that’s right), a now expected highlight of my year that well lived up to hopes and expectations.

So, back to my subject for this long overdue new blog entry, what caused me to make such a foobar? You know how it is when you get that light bulb moment, that idea pops into your head and you go, ‘I must write about that. There’s a story that’ll knock your socks off!’ I had that three times this year.

The first came in about January and was a pure children’s story, a bit like The Animals of Farthing Wood meets Harry Potter – damn, that’s a good elevator pitch! The trouble was, about three chapters in, it wasn’t flowing as nicely as it needs to and I decided to leave it before I got too bogged down. But I still intend returning to it, the title alone keeps coming back to me, especially when I’m skimming through my writing folders on the pc; The Four Hedgehogs of the Apocalypse shall ride again!

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Mick’s Musings: Would You Call This ‘Procrastination’?

rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x30011.jpgArguably the most important part of any book written is the first chapter, in particular, the first page. Get this wrong, not only would you lose the reader, but more likely, you wouldn’t have had the novel published in the first place.

Now, for the latest story I’m writing I’m on the third different opening/prologue/first chapter. What this says about me as a prospective writer, I don’t know, but I suspect that it’s more of a common problem than I’m making it out to be. Have I hit on the opening? I don’t know. Two of my lead characters though are suddenly opening the book whereas before it was looking like they wouldn’t be making an appearance until at least the third chapter. But it feels right!

Does it read right though? Actually, yes and even more surprising since I had to decipher the scribbled notes I made before going to bed on Friday night! My Lady Wife is always saying I should have been a doctor, the state of my hand-writing. It’s short, just shy of 1,200 words, but just because it’s short, doesn’t mean to say it isn’t right. But, this is only a first draft, so undoubtedly there will be changes as the story progresses. At least it’s nice to meet these guys sooner rather than later.

So why did I bring up the dreaded ‘P’ word? Because it’s taken me a while to start up writing again. Yes, I know the old adage that you should write at each and every opportunity, no matter how rubbish it may come out. Continue reading

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Mick’s Musings: Looking for an Agent!

rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x30011.jpgOkay, first things first, let’s be polite. May I wish each and every one of you a very Happy New Year and I hope you had a great Christmas too. So far as my Lady Wife and I are concerned, we’re still ploughing through the store of Christmas chocolate – it’s a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it! As for writing, 2015 for me is going to begin with unashamed ‘pleas’ (right word/expression?) as I am now stepping up my search for an Agent.

So, to refresh thy memories, I’m now in my 3rd year as member of the Romantic Novelist’s Association, New Writer’s Scheme (blurb just arrived to confirm in the post) and the tome I sent off to the Reader last year was deemed ready to send out to Agents, once the few amendments were made. It’s currently with 4 of these wonderful people and I did mean to send out for a few more prior to Christmas, but then I thought it wasn’t the best time at which to send it off, holidays on the way, parties etc., but now it’s time to hit the ‘Send’ button on my email and also get some ink for my printer. In the meantime, I’m going to put in the Synopsis below (resulting in a slightly longer blog post than normal.) Continue reading

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Mick’s Musings: Jealous?

rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x30011.jpgJealous? Nope, not the right word. Envy? Getting closer, if I’m being honest, but certainly very happy and proud are correct words to describe what I’d like to chat with you about today. If you’re a regular, or even if you’re not, on this wonderful site, then you may be aware of my good friend Bella’s column, Bella’s Scribblings-http://www.novelkicks.co.uk/bellas-scribblings-christmas-shopping/  – click the link for updates folks! But the reason for my kind of cryptic start to this column is the wonderful news that she’s got a two book contract with Harper Collins and the first, ‘It Started at Sunset Cottage’ is set to go on sale in February next year. I first met Bella at the Romantic Novelist’s Association Convention in Sheffield last year. Two newbies to the New Writer’s Scheme, both nervous and not sure what was going on, nor what to do, but she’s become a good friend and now, if I may say, an inspiration to those of us still hoping to get published. She’s worked very hard on this novel and without giving anything away, I would put it on your wish lists for a nice Valentine’s Day (yes, I’m fully aware that Christmas hasn’t even come along yet) present to yourself. So, where does that leave me? Well, I’ve submitted to just seven Agents/Publishing companies so far and, sniff, the first rejection came through this week. I slightly surprised myself but not cracking up completely when that email came through; though it was tempting, but I didn’t think my boss would understand a teary bloke at work. It’s actually made me more determined to approach others. I still have a couple on the list I was given by the RNA, so will have to print (yep, I did say ‘print’) out a couple and see if I can get those off shortly. Continue reading

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Mick’s Musings: Time Flies?

rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x30011.jpgTime flies…

But does it? Well, yes it does, but whether that means it crawls or streaks along is open to debate. I promised the good lady who lets me post on her Blog much more regular updates when I sent in my last entry and – goes down on bended knee – I haven’t lived up to that promise. I am very, very sorry Laura and hope that you’ll forgive me. I do have a good excuse, or at least, not a made up one, that I’ll let you judge me on.

Ever since I received my report back from the RNA New Writer’s Scheme, I’d been trying to get together my Query letter to submit to various Agents and Publishers and was just getting nowhere. I’ve spoken to a lot of people and done a lot of online research on this art and can very much agree that compared to writing the book, this is a much harder task. There are books out there that give you tips on how to write these things, but for me, the hardest part was undoubtedly convincing myself that the 6th, 7th, 8th (probably more) draft of the thing was as good as it was going to get and I should get it out there.

For even getting that far, I can only give my thanks to my fellow RNA members, both published and, like myself, hopeful. You know who you are, but they include Laura and Bella from Novel Kicks, Bernadette for giving me the ass-kicking I really needed and too many others to list here.

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Mick’s Musings: Time To Let The Baby Fly The Nest

rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x30011.jpgNope, we’re not talking a variation on the Immaculate Conception, so don’t all line up wanting to become my manager. No ‘get rich quick’ scheme here. I’m referring to the fact that after getting my report back from the book I submitted to the RNA New Writer’s Scheme, I’ve now completed the changes/followed the advice that I was given and sent it off to the first publishing house yesterday. But it felt like letting my baby fledge and I admit to needing a little bit of a push to hit that ‘send’ button in my email. A little bit of procrastination reared its head. Asking a friend for advice, replying back, replying back, replying back…you get the picture, anything but admitting that I couldn’t quite get the back to finally send it off.

So, that’s the first one on the way. I was fortunate to get what could only be described as a very positive report. Ask my friends, I never ‘blow my own trumpet’, perhaps that’s down to a little lack in self-confidence, but what really made my mind up to crack along was meeting with the lovely ladies of the RNA Birmingham chapter the other week where they were all so enthusiastic after reading the report, and convinced me that it could barely have been any better. A time-line and two different meals were the only things I needed to change, apart from advice on the punctuation. I couldn’t believe my reader took the time to go through the whole manuscript to enter where they thought I needed better punctuation! Who was that ‘masked reader’? Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s wonder reader!!! Sorry, silly hat off.

To say I was choked up when I plucked up the nerve to read the report would be an understatement. I’d worked myself up so much, that I was convinced it would be a couple of lines saying – ‘Step away from the computer. Never darken Word’s doorstep again. You can’t write.’ Okay, you get the picture. See above comment re confidence. Then what it actually said, taken with the lovely ladies of Birmingham RNA reactions and I hunkered down to make said changes. Continue reading

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Mick’s Musings: Torn Between Two Stories.

rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x3001.jpgThere should be a song in there somewhere. Set at some time from the seventies where all the ladies (and gentlemen) had big hair, knew it and weren’t ashamed (I know as I was one). Anyway, today’s story concerns a tale of two stories. Whilst waiting for the critique from the NWS reader – did I mention how wonderful they are? – I allowed myself to be persuaded to start the Children’s story I had the idea for a couple of years ago up in the Yorkshire Dales. I remember the day well, as my lady wife and I were on holiday and she was anxious to get an early start for a trip to (another) castle/ancient town/something else she wanted to see in case it fell down. I was sat at the breakfast bar whilst she was finishing getting ready and this single line came into my head from somewhere:

The Four Hedgehogs of the Apocalypse.

What followed was about thirty minutes of frantic scribbling as what came into my head, was desperately (and slightly illegibly) jotted down in a too small notepad; all the while with my lady wife looking over my shoulder and tapping her watch in a very meaningful way. Then, it got pretty much forgotten about until I’d finished the story that went off to the RNA NWS scheme. In the meantime, as happens, around three or four other ideas came from somewhere and vied for prime-spot in the ‘next to be written’ pile.

My heart and gut actually wants to write another romance, but I’ve decided to allow myself to give this children’s one a go. So far, there are only two and a half chapters written, so much slower than I was hoping for, but I think I’ve just had a minor ‘block’. I do love Walter the Henchtoad and his evil boss Greyback the Squirrel (grey of course), but I’m not exactly enamoured with a couple of the names I’ve given my hero Hedgehogs, but I guess they’ll do to let me keep writing, I can always change them later.

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