Sunday, 19 October 2014

Can't Stop Buzzing - LSF Nearly Here!!!!

Only 5 sleeps until LSF. It will be a busy weekend.

I am going to Pitching Thursday hosted by Pilar Alessandra so she can knock my pitches into shape. I wanted to pitch everything but common-sense kicked in. Better to do a few well than loads poorly.

Next will be Advanced Mentoring Scriptlabs. I am one of six selected for "Creating Fantastical TV" with Steve La Rue. The others are Alexandru Ruchelaru, Amy Amani, Cera-Rose Pickering, David Young and Keith Storrier. We are already chatting to each other. Well they told us to bond. Their projects look really awesome!

I managed to get a Script Surgery session with Euroscript. It is a shared slot with two others but I don't mind that. More input. I need help on my Famous 5 meets Shameless project to make sure my tone is OK for a family slot.

By some miracle I got the pitching slot I wanted. Amazed the LSF servers didn't crash with all those hits but they worked their hearts out to keep it going.  My slot is one of the busiest but I aim to avoid the long queues that can happen when everyone goes to one table. After all everyone is going to be interesting to talk to. Plus, as my kids say, "Mum doesn't do queues."

Oh and I am going for the Elevator Pitch. You have only got the time from when you enter the lift to getting out to pitch to someone interesting. You don't know who they are until you step inside but new people are always interesting.

Squeezed between all of that there are a whole bunch of presentations and discussions. There will be some difficult choices on which to go for. I also need to remember to rest and eat. I still get tired very easily. It won't be wasted time because there will be even more people to chat to there. Yes I do love to chat.

If you are going then I'll see you there, somewhere in the crowd of 800.  I will be the mad hair lady wielding a stick. If you are not going then I will let you know on here what happens and make sure you go NEXT YEAR!!!

Monday, 6 October 2014

LSF is nearly here.

Hmm. Been a while since my last post. So what have I been doing?

Well I have a new profile photo.  I am using it on all my social media sites so you will know when you have found me. I was going to do a fancy pose but that really isn't me so I went for the natural look.

If you haven't noticed there is a list on the left of Sages and Sinners.  Take a look to find a bunch of friendly writing bloggers. Blogging went very quiet for a few years with people moving to Facebook, Twitter, etc.  The lively debates still tend to be on those sites but people are returning to blogging when they have something to say. So do take a look at the interesting people to your left.

Unsure whether I should put my one page pitches up on this site. Some people worry that the ideas would be stolen. Others think it is an easy way for people to find out what you write and if they are interested. Hmmm.  Maybe I will just put up a logline and people can contact me for more details. I shall have a think.

The script reading session at TBTL was last month. This was organised by NCS and Mary Papadima (Assistant Director at TBTL) and the theatre's resident Summer actors.  I submitted the first act of a film script and got lots of feedback from that. Take note, if you ask actors to let rip on feedback they will. It was brutal but constructive. Just as well I am not a delicate flower.

I knew my characters in my head but wanted to see how they came across on the page and their relationships. They clearly needed some more work. However I came away with lots of ideas for developing the script. Really worth getting a script-in-hand reading of your work if you can.

Planned to put a nice picture here but the internet is currently slower than dial-up and won't play ball.  So imagine your favourite image tucked in just about here.  No naughty stuff mind. I will know.

Now to the LSF. I didn't make the final 5 for the scriptangel mentoring scheme but chuffed I got to the final 20. I didn't mope. I got it submitted for a different feedback scheme.

There was a lovely gathering of Them There Northerners in Liverpool. It was wonderful to meet them all in the real world. A really supportive crowd.  Yvonne Grace and Lisa Holdsworth helped us knock our pitches into shape ready for LSF.  They had really helpful advice which I have implemented in my pitches and scripts.

Business cards are sorted and I am narrowing down which PitchFest session I will be trying for. Now it is a case of tidying up my top three scripts and making my pitches as efficient as possible. But they still need to be chatty. I prefer to chat than recite.

Really excited about the event. I am not going expecting to sell a script or get an agent. I going to learn and to network with a lot of lovely people. So. I'd better get some writing done now.

Friday, 5 September 2014

London Screenwriting Festival is drawing near.

Like my new logo? My son designed it for me. Just got to remind him to finish designing my business cards.

Well I have been keeping busy getting ready for LSF, when I am not being my alter-ego. There are still tickets available so get there if you can.

Things are hotting up as labs, script readings and mentoring schemes come on line. I want to make the most of my time there so am applying for as much as I can. This means getting loglines, one page pitches and scripts up to scratch.

I heard yesterday that I got through the first stage for a mentoring programme. Delighted to see I knew quite a few of the others that got through too. Next week the group of 20 gets reduced to a group of 5. So that is 20 writers holding their breath. Does it seem quieter?

I won't have a fully developed script for all my projects but I aim to have good pitches ready for all of them. Them There Northerners, one of the LSF groups are having a gathering in just over a week.  We will be helping each other get ready with the assistance of some lovely mentors.

That is the nice thing about the writing community.  You pull each other up rather than pushing each other down. I am just as chuffed at a friend getting an opportunity as when I do. Well maybe a little less but only a little.

This will be my first time at the festival. I have wanted to go since it started but my day job always clashed with it. This year, no clash. Yay.

Like a lot of writers there I will be hoping to write a post on each day. From what I have seen for previous years I may be too exhausted to do it.  But I will try.

And what am I doing right now? Well I have the first act of a horror film, Symbiosis, being workshopped at the Theatre by the Lakes. I do enjoy seeing what directors and actors do with a script. Quite excited. I'll let you know how it goes.

Friday, 29 August 2014

Something Medical

Well I posted this on fb but a couple of friends though I aught to make it public. This is my public area so here it is.  Yes I will get back to writing posts.

The post was inspired by this BBC article

I am here today because of a very expensive drug. When it first came out the NHS would not provide it because of the expense. There was a long campaign and, a couple of years before I was diagnosed, they relented.

This drug, Herceptin, is vital for the 1 in 5 of of breast and stomach cancer sufferers who are HER2+. This is an extremely aggressive form of cancer.

When my Mum got breast cancer 27yrs ago the drug did not exist. She didn't make it. She had the same form and presentation of the Cancer as me.

Thanks to the drug I am still here.

I understand that the NHS has a limited budget and is further hampered by the Government's insistence it acts like a business rather than a service.

I also understand that drug companies need to recover the cost of years of research and only have the time until the patent expires to do this.

However they all need to think more about people and less about profit. Let the share holders and Government go hang. We are talking about people, not numbers.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Something Different 2

Did you enjoy my last post?  Well here is one on the joy of trusting Satnav in a county full of lanes. 
The advantage of teenage kids is you can sometimes escape and do things on your own. There is a huge independent bookshop here so I had to investigate. Once we had emptied the place of books we got in the car and turned on the Satnav.
Only 15mins to home. Goody. It was telling us to drive away from where we'd come from but why should that worry us? Satnav knows best. We drove on.
And on and on and on down a lane that got narrow and steeper.
Then the Satnav screeched. We had missed a turning. Well I say a turning but it was more a slight dent in the grass heading across a field.
The Satnav then gleefully pointed out we had no way to turn back and it would now be 30mins to get home. What could we do? We drove on.
Driving over Glutton Bridge (yes really) was the nicest part of what happened next. I swear I heard banjos at one point. We went down and down then, goody, up and up.
"Welcome to Staffordshire" said the sign. But we didn't want to leave bleeding "Derbyshire" we wailed. Still no turning points.
We imagined our poor bairns starving, alone, while we went from county to county looking for a turning point.
I know. Starving? Them? Fat chance. They would be raiding my chocolate!
Now we were driving along a single track with traffic lights to stop two cars trying to get cosy and inch past. Just as well because there was a flimsy fence then a sheer drop. Aaaaaaalllll the way down to the valley bottom.
I told Hubby not to look to his left and keep his eyes on the road. "What do you think I was bloody doing?" He retorted. I think we were both a bit stressed by then. Well my fingertips were buried in the dashboard.
At last we reached the top.
"Well done" said the satnav. Now you have to take that teeny, weeny branch off the road and back down the cliff face (well it looked it to me) to get home.
This time we did not argue and bit our lips as we inched down in what was now monsoon weather.
At last. We made it home. Shaken, tired and hungry. 

Did we get met with loving embraces? Kids wiping a tear in relief? Did we sod. We got "When's tea?"

Moral of that story? Remember the bleedin' map!

Monday, 11 August 2014

Something Different 1

I have been a bit quiet again, haven't I?  Well for a good reason. I have been busy writing.

But I'm not going to tell you about that.  Here is something I put on fb which caused amusement so I thought you might like to share in my suffering too. Holidays can be hard work. Especially if you are still recovering from an 18month illness.

Went to the Heights of Abraham. You get there using a car on a wire thingy. Sorry, brain not cooperating. You can see my picrture of it on the right.
The bloody things don't stop for you to get on and off. Just slow down. I kind of toppled forward onto it.
We then decided to go into one of the two mines on a tour. When I say we... well they weren't deciding so I did.
"Right," said the guide in her broad Peak District accent. "It's a 15 minute walk and there are 178 steps. The good news is some are down. The bad news is only three of them. Anyone want to back out."
The family look at me. I stand firm. Done the Whitby Steps. I can do this.
"And the roof goes as low as 5ft in places. Anyone backing out?"
They give me another worried look. "I'm 5ft 5. I can do this."
"And it is as cold as a fridge."
"Oh goody. That will make it easier. And look at all those little kids going in."
"There is a video of the tour instead or 5 minute cave walk in another part of the park?"
Family shake their heads in exasperation. I ignore them and enter the tunnel.
So the steep, wet slope down wasn't too bad. I had the freezing handles on each side to hold onto. Good.
And the long, low tunnel wasn't too bad. Belly made breathing harder when I was bent over but I got there. Still good. Still good.
Lovely first cave. No problems.
Then the first set of steps. Varying heights and a low roof.
"Is she counting? Stop counting." from one of the family.
"Shut up". I mutter. 10...11...12...
The group ahead disappear from sight. Don't panic. It is a straight tunnel. You can't get lost. ...28...29..30...
At 41 the steps stop and so do I. Doubled over trying not to be sick. The family behind us ask if I am OK. "Yep." I gasp. They hurry on.
We slowly go up the slope to be met by the guide. She tells me not to worry because lots of others struggled too. I look around at the wall of sympathetic looks. Not a single wheeze amongst them.
Dave props me against the wall while the guide does her stuff. By now I am trying to imagine how they will get a stretcher down to me, let alone get me out. I also remember I did Whitby steps BEFORE I fell ill.
I realised how much I had slowed them when the next group, supposed to be 15minutes behind us, entered the cave as we headed up the next set of steps.
Thankfully these steps were all the same height, 30 odd and a high roof. The others in the tour group raced ahead but the guide was waiting for me at the top to encourage me.
Another nice cave that they all admired while I tried to pretend the flashing lights were crystals.
Then the final long, winding steps to the top. Well I did it with lots of stops. Over the moon when I saw the light at the end of the tunnel. All the others were out by then except the family.
I staggered out the top and got a well done from the guide and a few of the group who had waited to see if I made it. They had saved a place on a bench for me to recover.
After a few hours I suggested the easy mine tour. Easy? It was at the bottom of the hill! The steep hill! The near vertical hill!!! 

We started down. A third of the way I saw super fit walking types practically crawling to get up the hill. If it was going to do that to them, what would it do to me?
Common sense finally hit and I chickened out. Just as well because family had to practically pull me up the hill again. Chocolate Fudge Cake helped me recover.

There. Did you enjoy that?  Got another one for tomorrow if I remember.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Seven Secrets

OK. Nearly a month ago Wendy nominated me for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award!

Wendy and I met sooo long ago when we both attended our first screenwriting course.  She writes brilliant YA novels and is tackling an adult one at the moment.  Click on her link above to find out more.

Anyway, it has been a few weeks and I am well overdue. Wendy is stalking me with her favourite weapon. A ball and chain improvised from an old Remington and a Victorian toilet chain. I'd better get it done.

Can you hear her?

Grunt, scrape, gasp.

Wendy. I'm doing it! Stop dragging that thing about.

Now the Very Inspiring Blogger Award is given by bloggers to bloggers and here are the rules:

1. Link back to the person nominating you for the award -done
2. Display the Very Inspiring Blogger logo -done
3. Reveal seven things about yourself (see below) but these are secret, just between us. OK?
4. Nominate seven others to receive the award (see below) though I can't promise I will manage seven.

Okay.  So seven things about me that you won't find on my profile:

1)  I can make my knees bend backwards. Yep. I must have some alien genes buried in there. Not a party trick to demonstrate at meal times because people do get queasy.

2) On that theme, I once threw up in the ballroom of Charlottenburg Palace. They were renovating the floor and we all had to wear special felt shoes to protect it. Unfortunately they also had all the windows shut to stop dust getting in. A wall of glass in a heatwave with toasty toes was never going to end well.

3) I won a limerick competition when I was 10. It was a class competition and submitted more entries than the rest of the class combined.
         There once was a fine Hampshire Hog
         Who noticed her old writing Blog
         Was feeling bereft
         Of her postings most deft
         So she dragged her Muse out of the Bog.
I know. Not wonderful. But it is late.

4) I can't drink alcohol. It makes me sick. Yes. I know it makes everyone sick eventually but it only takes a couple of sips for me. It is an intolerance rather than an allergy. On the plus side - never had a hangover. On the minus side - guess who is always the designated driver.

5) My family is HUUUUUUGE!!!!  Twice a year my Nan, Aunts, Uncles and Cousins would all gather. In the summer this meant a convoy of cars heading somewhere green.  Of course it had to stop regularly so the cousins could play musical cars. One of the sprogs was asked to do a family tree, just three generations.  We had to get the wallpaper out.

6) My favourite Christmas as a kid was when my Mum and Dad invited friends round and we had a multi-religious day.  It was a mix of Christians, Muslims and Hindus. Each brought traditional food and showed how they celebrated that time of year.  Moussa brought a Hookah but Mum said I couldn't have a go.  He gave me some Sesame Halva instead. Yum.

7) I have just won a battle against Breast Cancer.  It took nearly 2yrs, I am still recovering from side effect, but I kicked its butt.  I now have a cyber-boob too.

Right.  Now for my victims nominees. Don't worry folks.  I won't hold you to it.

Elinor, Lucy, Northern Scribbler (your identity is safe with me), Adaddinsane (also hush hush), Rob (yes this is revenge), Connie and Emma.  Phew.  Done.

Now put that typewriter down Wendy!

Saturday, 24 May 2014

What a Horror!

Artwork by Matthew Howard

Well I have been busy working on a horror script.  Wanted to write a good horror for a long time. Or even a bad horror. Finally I decided to stop wondering and just do it.

It is based on a nightmare I had but I don't know if that is a good thing or a bad thing. I like creature features but prefer suspense to gore.  More Alien/Thing than Saw/Hostel.  Yes, I know Alien and Thing has gore too but it is quick and only one part of the plot. It wasn't the core of the film.

Anyway, I have recently been using a different approach to writing.  Before I would write a quick outline then dive in.  Trying really hard to not do that now. Instead I have been knocking outlines, characters and background into good shape first.  Sometimes this is a slog but in this case everything seems to be dropping into place nicely.

Something else that has changed.  I used to try and keep the budget low. However the sad reality is that few speculative scripts get made. They are more a showcase.

Therefore I have split my scripts in two. Some are low budget and hopefully stand a chance of being made. Some are high budget and show what I can do without limitations.  This horror falls into the second camp and I am loving working on it.

So now I have to discover whether all that work was actually useful or if I was just procrastinating. Time to write Draft 1.

Monday, 31 March 2014

A Blog Tour is underway.

In case you haven't noticed there is a blog tour going on.  You are introduced in someone's blog then a week later you thank them and introduce three more.

Well the lovely Rob Stickler introduced me last Monday.  He has now been informed that I also love The Thing, not a euphemism folk. Want that reference explained then you will have to go here.

I think he started out blogging a bit before me.  We both lapsed for a while, dazzled by the bright lights of Facebook and Twitter. However the glitz is looking tarnished so we are back to our old faithful blogs. Did you miss us?

So now it is my turn. I have to answer a few questions.

1) What am I working on? Currently the 1st complete rewrite of a YA novel is underway. It is Enid Blyton meets Shameless and I am enjoying the process. Considering how much I hate editing that must be a good sign.
I have also been putting together detailed outlines for a set of Film and TV scripts.
Film wise it is one surreal, one thriller, on action and a romcom.  I have also got a trapped in a box idea knocking around too but I think I have more than enough to deal with at the moment.
The TV stuff all appears to be sitcom at the moment.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre? I write UK based, mostly rural, dark humour with a surreal edge. If I try to stay strictly drama I fail because that humour just sneaks in again. Why rural?  So many stories cover the urban angst.  I like to remind people that it is not all chocolate box outside the city walls either. Take a look when it is slurry spreading time.

3) Why do I write what I do? Because I have to.  I get ideas burning in my head and they won't behave unless I write them down.  Most of my work revolves around the loners in the community. With so much inequality and persecution in the world you have to either fight, write or go nuts. I find writing a less painful option than punching walls.

4) How does my writing process work?  An idea will knock about inside my head for quite a while before I put anything on paper.  I used to then just dive in and write. 
Now I prefer to knock it into shape with an outline before writing my first draft.  It gives me an idea whether the story has legs and stops the thing nagging me so I can concentrate on writing.

Overall I think this is faster.  Certainly less sweary than reaching the end and hubby looking over your shoulder and pointing out a gaping plot hole that wants to swallow the whole script.

Now you have delved into my writing soul, how about checking out some other bloggers.  I have mentioned Rob but please also check out the sweary guru Lucy who he mentioned last week. I have learnt soooo much from her.

So for the new bloggers on the list.

I met Wendy YEEEEAAARRRS ago. In fact we met on the first screenwriting course I ever attended.  No, I'm not going to say how long ago that was. I'm a lady so you shouldn't be asking.


Wendy Storer writes novels, mostly for teenagers. She has published two books; Where Bluebirds Fly and Bring Me Sunshine, a finalist in the Mslexia Children’s Novel Competition. Her next YA novel – How to be Lucky – will be published later this year. She’s currently working on her debut women’s novel, teaching writing at The Brewery Arts Centre in Kendal, and working with writers through Magic Beans Literary Services to help them lick their own novels into shape. Find her at, , , or say hello @WendyStorer.


Connie Jensen tried hard to get this bit done but she is juggling managing, directing, writing, publishing, painting.... Don't know how she manages it.  We have known each other for quite a few years now and are both part of the NCS posse.  Anyway I would recommend you pop by her blog   Worth a read. Don't worry Connie, I won't hold you to doing the next bit.


Phew.  Am I done now?  Good.  Off to do some writing.  Speak to you all soon.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Get Your Portfolio Ready

Ooops.  Nearly slipped there with my regular posts. Slapped wrist.

So what have I got planned for the writing year?  Well I have bought my ticket for London Screenwriters Festival. I have wanted to go since it started but there was always something happening.  So I have planned well ahead this year.  Excited already.

Now these events are only of any use if you prepare.  Otherwise it is a glorified trip to the pub to see your mates.  Yes there will be mates there, can't wait to see them all, but it is also to help with writing.

So my New Year's resolution is to get my Portfolio into shape. I have quite a few short film scripts but only one completed feature and one completed TV. Both of which are stretching it to say completed.  They are early drafts and need to be refined.

There are some good suggestions for portfolio content from Lucy (Bang2Write) here

My aim for my portfolio is to have refined scripts, or decent treatments, for:

  1) A Thriller, inspired by  Lucy's book Writing and Selling Thriller Screenplays.  I have all sorts of ideas buzzing through my head.
  2) A Monster feature. Love them so interested in what I can do with one.
  3) Romcom.  I'm an old romantic but want to try something different with it.

  1) Sitcom: I've got a couple of ideas in early development so I will be working on them.
  2) Drama: Need something but the ideas are really rough at the moment.

What are my chances of getting them all finished in time?  Not a hope. I have a full time job too.  However there is no excuse for not having a decent treatment for those I don't finish.

"Yeah, yeah", I hear you say.  "You'll be so embarrassed by this post in 6 months when you have got nothing done."

Well if I don't set targets I won't get anywhere. So what if they aren't hit? I'll still have something.

So what are your plans for 2014?

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

2014 Day 1

Well the closest I get to a New Year's Resolution is this. To get the blog active again.

Why?  Because it has been feeling abandoned for so long and guilt tripping me every time I pop by. Passive Aggressive is its speciality.  All riiiiight. I'll blog something.

So a quick update.

1) Been really poorly for a while, Big C, but on the mend.

2) Too poorly to write for most of the year but did completed one short radio play that was broadcast on Radio Cumbria just before Christmas.

3) Working on a YA Novel which has nearly completed its 2nd draft so still a lot of work to do.

4) Signed up for London Screenwriting Festival 2014.  First forward planning I have been able to do for a long time. So strange after living from day to day for so long.

5) Remembering my Brownie and Guide training, Be Prepared. So will be working on my Portfolio ready for LSF. Trying to forget I got kicked out of Guides for leaping over gravestones. Bad Girl.

Well that's it for now.  Must remember to keep this going.

Any of you still out there?