The boy in the Painting

A  few things have happened this week with my writing.  First, I’ve decided to change the title of my book The Muse, because unfortunately, in  2016,  Jessie Burton got in ahead of me and stole the title.  I think of a muse as being the inspiration to an artist/painter, but unfortunately, Jessie Burton’s The Muse isn’t about an artist or a muse from what I can tell from the blurb.  Such a waste, because it’s such a great title.  Oh well.

Image result
My fabulous editor, Mia, came up with  new title, The Artist and the Muse, but a few days later I thought of The Boy in the Painting.
Book 1- The Boy in the Painting
Book 2- The Painted Lawn
Book 3- The Artist and the Muse
Also, I have decided to redo the story using first person rather than third person, as it currently is.  I’ve updated the excerpt in the menu above so you can have a read of the new and improved first chapter.
It’s amazing how much my writing has improved in 2 years, and in going back over The Artist and the Muse in fine detail, I can see now why I wasn’t able to get an agent to take it on.  lol. I don’t blame them.  But now I think it is definitely sellable (except that’s what I thought before, so…), and in a few weeks I plan to try again for an agent for it.
What do you think of the new title?
Do you prefer reading 1st person or 3rd person?
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Next book


While writing The Quadrants, I spent months getting into the fantasy genre.  I had never been a fan of X-men, Lord of the rings, the Avengers or any fantasy-type book at all.  I wrote the first draft as a blank slate, never having seen or read anything in the fantasy realm (except Harry Potter, of course), just so I wouldn’t be influenced, and only then did I go all out.  Since then I have seen and read dozens of stories I would never have considered before ( like Avatar, which I loved) and the surprising thing is, I liked it.  Though I do have to admit, the whole time I’m watching, I’m constantly taking careful note of scenes, dialogue, plots etc, for dos and don’ts in my own story.  But if nothing else, it has given me a whole new potential topic of conversation with my brother, lol.

Now that I have completed and moved on from the Quadrants, for now at least (until I begin the edits on book #2 The Demidium), I have begun the edits for The Muse, and as a result, I’ve entered into a whole new type of movie and book to get my mind in the right place.  Tonight I watched Angus, thongs and Perfect Snogging.  It’s a 2008 British teen-movie, and it was really good.  Will have to go back over A Fault in Our Stars, A room with a View etc and find some YA books to get started on.  I’m thinking Jasper Jones first of all, and I read bits of Twilight randomly if I need to get in the mood after having cooked tea (which I consider a most unpleasant task), for example.

If you have any young adult romance films or books to recommend, feel free to leave them in the comments below.

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It’s finally happened! No not publication, sadly, but The Muse has finally reached 30,000 reads on Wattpad! –

Although it still needs a serious edit, my readers seem to really like it, and regularly write me flattering messages about how much they love the series.


I very much enjoyed your first book. Have to say it was great, 
every chapter was more and more entertaining :) I really do 
hope you carry on writing the sequel!! 


Just read the muse and what's finished of the sequel- Both are 
really really great, and I love how relatable winter is- how 
you manage to portray the thoughts and feelings, the wanting 
to be desired and being pulled into multiple directions at once.
I am her age and she is probably the first fictional girl I read 
about who actually thinks similarly to me- I would live to hear 
the rest of the story!

I also regularly get requests for me to hurry up and post the next chapter of book 2.  I am reluctant to post the entire book 2 though, because I’d like to finish the editing of it and put The Muse and The Cafeteria Lawn for sale on Amazon.  If only there were more hours in the day, I would have them both ready quicker.

Anyway, still writing…


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Real life distractions

So I’m sitting here trying to write, listening to my two youngest kids arguing over whether or not the curtains should be opened in the kids’ lounge.  It’s like a gamers’ dungeon down there and our 2 pet rats, whose cage is there too, haven’t seen the sunlight since yesterday.

I remember in an interview with J.K. Rowling, at the time she was coming to the end of writing The Deathly Hallows, she said she was trying to write but there was the constant noise of her kids coming from downstairs.  At that point she realised she now had enough money to solve the problem by going away to stay in a hotel for a few weeks until it was finished.


I have neither enough money nor a husband (to take over the children) to solve my noise and interruptions problem, though I can imagine how wonderful it would be one day if I had.

I am entering the Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition today:

So I have to have my entire manuscript ready and perfect.  I know I’ve reread The Quadrants a million times, but I just didn’t feel right about sending it off without reading through it one more time.  I just wanted to check, after having a break from it, that it flows well and the balance and pacing of it are perfect.

Grrr! But right now I need to go and play and sing Let It Be on the piano with my daughter (I can hear her singing it at the top of her voice from the other room).  She’s doing this on purpose!!

The next phase of my nearly non-existant literary career will be to finally do the major edit of The Muse.  The Muse is continuing to draw in tons of readers on Wattpad and is approaching the 30,000 reads mark, despite being a fairly rough draft.

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First lines in literature

I entered a pitch slam competition recently where 3 judges each read your work and gave feedback on your 35-word pitch and the first page of your novel.  One of these judges suggested I add a prologue to place the reader right in the middle of the intrigue and action, right from the start.  So, after having had no agents rushing up to me, so far, demanding that I allow them to represent me, I’ve decided to take their advise and add a prologue to The Quadrants.

In The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare, the prologue takes place around the time of the dramatic events that occurred when the main character was a baby.  And in Miss Peregrine’s home for peculiar children, the prologue is just a brief overview of the MC’s relationship with his grandfather and his telling of unusual tales.

Also, I have had it pointed out to me this week, the importance of an awesome first line.  So I’ve decided to try to come up with one of these too.

Here are some first lines from famous books:

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (1813)


“Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show.”

David Copperfield by Charles Dickens (1850)



“Call me Ishmael.”

Moby-Dick by Herman Melville (1851)



“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”

A Tale of Two Cities Charles Dickens (1859)



“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

Anna Karenina Leo Tolstoy (1877)



“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.”
The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien (1937)

“I am an invisible man.”
Invisible man by Ralph Ellison (1952)

“It was a dark and stormy night.”
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle (1962)


“I’ve watched through his eyes, I’ve listened through his ears, and I tell you he’s the one. Or at least as close as we’re going to get.”

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card (1985)


“Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.”
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by JK Rowling (1997)



“There once was a young man who wished to gain his Heart’s Desire.”

Stardust by Neil Gaiman (1999)


He began his new life standing up, surrounded by cold darkness and stale, dusty air.”

The Maze Runner by James Dashner (2009)



“There is one mirror in my house. It is behind a sliding panel in the hallway upstairs. Our faction allows me to stand in front of it on the second day of every third month, the day my mother cuts my hair.”

Divergent by Veronica Roth (2011)



“I had just come to accept that my life would be ordinary when extraordinary things began to happen.”
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs (2011)



“Late in the winter of my seventeenth year, my mother decided I was depressed, presumably because I rarely left the house, spent quite a lot of time in bed, read the same book over and over, ate infrequently, and devoted quite a bit of my abundant free time to thinking about death.”

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (2012)



I really like the one from Stardust, Pride and Prejudice and Anna Karenina.  I’ll post what I come up with soon.



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Encouragement from J.K. Rowling

I found a blog this week on what it was like for J.K. Rowling when she was writing the Harry Potter series.  I’ll just post part of it here, but for the rest follow this link to the original site:

What It Was Really Like to Write Harry Potter

First, we need to appreciate how disciplined Rowling had to be to develop her story nugget into seven hefty books. We have to know that she wasn’t lazily sipping mochas for two decades while jotting down a continuous stream of words like the literary Fountain of Youth.

All too often we convince ourselves that we would write more if only we were well-known, or had more money, or could find more time. But none of that is what makes a writer. It’s simply that a writer writes.

Below I’ve compiled the oft-forgotten, non-fairy-tale version of the story behind Harry Potter.

A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper. —E. B. White Tweet

Book One: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Even though Harry Potter strolled into Rowling’s head fully formed, she still spent several years mapping out the seven books, and then she spent another year writing the first one, Harry Potter and Sorcerer’s Stone. Rowling rewrote Chapter One so many times (upwards of fifteen discarded drafts) that her first attempts “bear no resemblance to anything in the finished book”—which was especially frustrating since Rowling was a single parent and her writing time was entirely contingent on her infant daughter, Jessica.

Whenever Jessica fell asleep in her [stroller], I would dash to the nearest café and write like mad. I wrote nearly every evening. Then I had to type the whole thing out myself. Sometimes I actually hated the book, even while I loved it.

Rowling also had to waste her already limited time on nuisances like re-typing an entire chapter because she changed a paragraph or, even worse, re-typing the entire manuscript because she hadn’t double-spaced it.

Besides writing, Rowling struggled with many personal problems: the death of her mother, estrangement from her father, a volatile and short-lived marriage, a newborn child, life on welfare, and a battle with clinical depression. Unfortunately, Rowling’s support system was nearly nonexistent. She once told a friend about Harry Potter and her friend’s response was typical.

I think she thought I was deluding myself, that I was in a nasty situation and had sat down one day and thought, I know, I’ll write a novel. She probably thought it was a get-rich-quick scheme.

Rowling grappled with suicidal thoughts and eventually turned to therapy for help.

Once the manuscript was finally finished, Rowling collected a dozen rejection letters over a full year before Bloomsbury Publishing picked it up. Even then, Rowling was warned by her literary agent to find a job because her story wasn’t commercial enough to be successful. (“You do realize, you will never make a fortune out of writing children’s books?”)

Bloomsbury’s expectations of Harry Potter were so low that its initial print was only five hundred copies—three hundred of which were donated to public libraries.

Rowling’s first royalty check was six hundred pounds. A year later, she was a millionaire.

You’d fail only if you stop writing. —Ray Bradbury Tweet

Book Two: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Both Rowling’s agent and Bloomsbury Publishing had to (happily) eat their words. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was so popular in the U.K. that Scholastica paid an unprecedented $105,000 for the American rights to the series. Rowling, however, still faced major frustrations.

For one, Rowling didn’t believe her success would stick. While writing Chamber of Secrets, she worked as a full-time French teacher (while still caring for her now-toddler daughter).

Rowling also suffered from her first and only debilitating bout of writer’s block.

I had my first burst of publicity about the first book and it paralysed me. I was scared the second book wouldn’t measure up . . .

Other lucrative contracts rolled in after Scholastica, which pulled Rowling out of poverty but also forced incredible pressure on her “to fulfill expectations.” Furthermore, the sudden deluge of money brought on a “tsunami of requests.” Everyone was asking Rowling for a financial leg up, and she panicked.

I was completely overwhelmed. I suddenly felt responsible in many different ways. . . . I was downright paranoid that I would do something stupid . . .

A professional writer is an amateur writer who did not quit. —Richard Bach Tweet


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Waiting and waiting and…


I hate waiting.  Waiting without any hint of an end date is painful, agonising.  Even worse if there’s no promise that there will ever be one.  Another time I remember the waiting being frustratingly drawn out was when I was pregnant.  The last few weeks seemed to take an eternity to pass but at least with that waiting I was guaranteed of an end point.  There had to be a final date, and even if I didn’t know exactly when that would be it was unlikely I would still be waiting around a month after my due date.

But with this… well, this type of waiting could go on for ever and ever and ever…waiting

I could still be waiting for a positive response from an agent in 1, 2 or even 10 years from now. *sigh*

Therefore, so I don’t go mad, I’m continuing to edit The Muse.  I’m up to chapter 4 out of 25 so far.  It’s possible I’ll start a painting tomorrow (and video it on time-lapse), so the going might be a bit slow.  There definitely aren’t enough hours in the day. When The Muse has had its major overhaul I then get to start submitting it.  Yay, more waiting!

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Submissions = 60

Rejections = 24

MS request (partial) = 0

MS request (full) = 0

Offers of representation = 0


So, now I’ve started on a big edit of my first book The Muse.


I think I submitted the old version of it to about 25 agents, about a year ago, and now, reading over it again, I see why none of them took it.  Some of it’s really bad.  I always found the start a bit awkward but never knew how to fix it, and since the start is the main part manuscripts are judged on, it was never going to do any good until it was fixed.  I think I’ve done that now.  I think I’ve got the mood right, as well as the pace and the voice.  I’ll post the first chapter in the book section as an excerpt soon.

Even despite the fact that it’s this terrible, awkward unedited version of The Muse that’s posted on Wattpad, it’s readership is still rising, and is just about to click over to 24,000 reads!!  Plus it’s also still attracting some very passionate comments from readers.  I even got my first abusive comment last week, as the young lady seemed to be upset that the direction the story took wasn’t to her liking, lol.  I’d like to post the comment here, but I don’t think I should, sorry.  I’ll probably update Wattpad with the edited version of chapter 1, but then the rest I’ll keep to myself and have another go at agents.

Although The Muse might possibly be destined to follow the same path as The Quadrants, ie. a festival of rejections, on the other hand, it might not.  And if I don’t keep trying, the agents won’t get the chance to say yes, will they?

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Top Ten Books Set In College

This gallery contains 11 photos.

Originally posted on Hardcovers and Heroines:
Ten … or maybe eleven (???) years ago, I moved to Northampton, Massachusetts to become a first year (not a freshman …b/c no men) at Smith College. The night before starting my mother held…

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Waiting, but moving on…

Submissions = 55

Rejections = 23

MS request (partial) = 0

MS request (full) = 0

Offers of representation = 0


Ok, now I’m at the stage where I’m pretty sure I’m going to be one of those people I mentioned in my previous post (, like Meg Cabot and her book The Princess Diaries, which was rejected for 3 years before finally being picked up and going on to sell 15 million copies.  *Sigh* Do I seriously need to wait that long.  Come on people (agents), The Quadrants is awesome, don’t deny the world of its greatness!

Well, in the mean time I finished a painting, begun an edit of The Muse (which incidentally is up to 22.6k reads on Wattpad 🙂 )and have begun a new book (not the adult fantasy one previously mentioned, another one).  I suppose I’ll do a few more submissions for the Quadrants in a few days when I can muster some hope and force some more enthusiasm.



(above) My latest painting drying on the wall.

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