Bad news…

Basically my funding application has been refused for my PhD. Which means that even if I am given a place I can’t go, unless there is a sudden influx of money or some other funding comes available.

Oh! Look! A flying pig and it’s wearing a purple cardigan with pink spots…

Okay – I’m being sarcastic – which, according to my brother, is the lowest form of wit. So I apologize. Still, it was a long shot for the funding.

So… What now?

Well, I had been using the possibility of doing  PhD as a buffer. ‘If the writing didn’t work then there was always the university.’ Except that is no longer the case so I have got to make the writing work.

I really ought to just write. If I don’t write then I find myself worried and depressed. Some people go to yoga, I write. So maybe I ought to not think so hard and just… well… write.

Writing for kids…

I have finished the adult novel. Well, I’ve finished the first draft and have started on the research for the next book. This one is for kids. I have written a couple of books for kids, but none have been published yet.

In fact, my dissertation for the masters was a kids book. Yet that hasn’t found a home. So this time, as I sat with my idea, I decided to start at the beginning – the age group. Okay, maybe I had some preconceived ideas about the age of the books. I mean I remember when I read…

Hold up! That won’t work. I didn’t learn to read until I was 11. I’ve got to do this research properly.

My dissertation is for ‘Middle Grade’ kids – so from 8 to 13 years. Except it isn’t.

This is what I found…

Children from 6-8 years old will read between 10,000 to 20,000 words. Some examples are:

  • The Enchanted Wood
  • Paddington
  • The Famous Five
  • BFG
  • Winnie the Pooh
  • The Worst Witch
  • Charlotte’s Web

At this point I’m panicking. My dissertation sits right in this group. If you had been there you would have seen me to a face plant. I wasn’t going to get it published because it was aimed at too old an age group. Duh! My book ought to be for 6-8 years.

The next age range, from 8 to 11 years, will read 30,000 to 60,000 words. And examples include:

  • The Wolves of Willoughby Chase
  • Skellig
  • Artemis Fowl
  • The Witches
  • Matilda
  • TinTin
  • The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe
  • Goodnight Mister Tom
  • The Borrowers
  • Truckers
  • Swallows and Amazons
  • Harry Potter
  • Holes
  • The Hobbit

Some of these I would have thought were for older children, and my dissertation does not fit, in the least.

The teen group is from 11 to 14 years old. They will read between 30,000 to 70,000 words, and examples include:

  • Watership Down
  • The Boy in Striped Pyjamas
  • The Hunger Games
  • The Graveyard Book
  • Stormbreaker
  • Northern Lights
  • Ruby in the Smoke
  • The fellowship of the Ring

Okay, most of these I have read as an adult…

So, what have I learnt? Well, that kids are better at reading than I thought. That you have to be careful where you place your book and that you have to be aware that the age range you write for in your head, may not be the one you target to get it published.

Research! And then maybe you won’t end up like me, looking at six months of wasted time because you sent it to the wrong people with the wrong cover letter… Doh!

It’s an easy fix though, so maybe this time it might work. Everything is crossed. And the next project?

Well, that will be written for 6 to 8 year olds. :-)

Blood and Oranges…

Although I haven’t bought any oranges today… But the title looks and sounds good. Might even be a short story there.

Today was/is Thursday… I am not keen on Thursdays. On these days I have to shop for my Nan, but this time there was some added stress. You may remember that last year I was affected by ZOMBIE DAYS… basically I was:

And the doctors found that I was anemic. So today, after 6 months of iron tablets and 2 months off I have been told that my levels are holding!

Yay! But I had to go shopping for my Nan before this news. All I managed to do was make myself worried and tense. By the time I walked into the doctors my smile had become a grimace. Luckily my doctor knows me well and he was able to put me at ease.

So as of today I am officially well; a normal, if over-weight, adult. I am so happy!

The only thing that has made me a little down is that I haven’t got around to writing. I’m just too tired now. It’s as if I have been living in a stress bubble and it has been burst. I feel happy but a little numb.

Still, tomorrow is another day.

I smell smoke….

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Burning Down the House.”

I have never been in a house fire and I hope I never will. But I have stood and watched a house burn. Last year the local farm house burnt down. It is was our closest neighbour, but it went up like a bunch of dry wood.

I ought to say that it was empty at the time. The residence having built themselves a bungalow. So the house was really just used as a storage. It had a couple of antiques in there: a beautiful orange vase, a silver-point sketch, a rocking horse, and a large semi-circular cabinet. Not to mention the history.

That farm had been in the same family for hundreds of years and as it burnt I mourned its loss.

It got me thinking though. We have always had an escape route. I’ve always known where to go. What direction to run in…

I think this is odd, but my parents have always taken us through ‘The Plan’ in case of emergencies like a fire or crazed burglars.

I don’t think this is normal, but you know what? It makes me feel safe. Our fire alarms were updated by the fire brigade and we ran through the ‘way out’.

But I know what I’d grab if there was a fire in the house… Nothing. Because I would have maybe five minutes before my lungs would become strained from the smoke. Then the coughing would start and then I would be fighting to get enough oxygen. Instead, I would crack the window that is designed to be an escape hatch and slide down the kitchen roof and lower myself to the ground. Then I would open the doors and try to find my parents. But they have their own window, luckily on the ground floor. But as long as my family and the animals were out I wouldn’t grab anything else. I can replace the rest.

The picture below is after just five minutes of visible smoke… Don’t stop for anything – just run!

The Writer’s Blues

I don’t get depressed that often but today I am… Some things have not only gone wrong but the wheels have fallen off the cart. My references for my PhD haven’t arrived at the university. Now this could be an email that has got into the spam folder or it never arrived or I wrote the email down wrong… It could be anything or a variation of them. It doesn’t really matter. The result is the same…

My application can’t be processed. Now this wouldn’t be a problem but I am trying for funding. I am hoping that my references will send the forms in soon (but if this is the first time they’ve heard from the university it may take some time) and that I haven’t missed any deadlines for the funding. But still I find myself completely disheartened, and no one to blame.

Then there is the government. Like most small businesses I rely on working tax credits for a little money (and it really is a little being less than jobseeker’s allowance). But they have opened a case about my claim because there is another adult living with me!

Shock! Horror!

“Yes,” I said the the woman on the phone. “There are two. My parents.”

“Oh…”

But that simple mistake means I have to send a copy of my birth certificate and a bill to the company who are working on behalf of the government in order to continue to get working tax credits. I realise I am old to be living with my mum and dad but it isn’t completely unheard of. And then it would have been nice to have got a pleasant enquiry letter rather than an aggressive one says that I now owed them money and a fee. I mean it’s an easy fix but has left me feeling like a crook.

Never mind. By Monday all the emails and letters will be sent and, hopefully, everything will be sorted and my life back on track. Until then I may sulk.

Research is the pits… but I love it…

I really do. When I get an idea I sit down and write a plan. It normally starts as one sentence which I expand to a paragraph and then I start to think about semantics. How does this world exist?

Sometimes that is an easy ask, like the WIP which is set completely in one house over one day, but this new idea has been one that I’m having to create a world for. A world that has been stuck in the time of the Stuarts… That doesn’t sound too odd except that I don’t know anything about the Stuarts.

I remember during my A-levels (an awful long time ago) I studied the Tudors, but I failed the A-level, so I can’t rely on that. And anyway I need the era 50 years later, which in the lives of the people who lived there, one and a half generations would have passed. Can you imagine talking about modern life, but in terms of what our grandparents were like? It just doesn’t work. So I need to know what happened then and there, in that year if possible.

Then there is the other problem. It’s based in Scotland. I love Scotland, but the history I’m looking at is very different to what was happening in England and Wales. Even the belief system was different. So I’m having to start from the top…

Which takes time.

Which means that I’m being taken away from writing.

Yet I really love the research. So I’m having to balance it. And at the moment that isn’t working. I’m either doing the WIP or drawing. The new idea is languishing in its folder. The new idea is a kids book so not as big, but full of little details. I have to get them right.

So at the moment research is the pits because I have a very large and steep mountain to climb, yet with every sentence I read, I can’t help but love it. I just love to learn. But I must remember that I’m creating a story, not writing a history book. I need to learn enough but not too much.

MIA

I have been missing. Yep, you guessed it. The internet was down… again…

But enough about that, more about the WIP! I have done about 10,000 words since the net went down, baked 3 loaves of bread, done 5 large illustrations, 12 rolls, 2 cakes, 15 biscuits, done some gardening and walked the dog 4 times. And all that is only in 8 days! I didn’t know social media took so much time…

I missed the blog. I missed writing to all my readers and saying what has been happening.

I didn’t miss Facebook. Although I could have done with some access to messenger just to keep in contact with my family. We are spread far and wide. But I didn’t miss the compulsion to keep refreshing the news feed. That was a good miss.

But I’m back now. Hopefully the WIP will be finished soon and then ‘The Gone’ can be completed. All in all though I am in a happy place. Despite the snow and ice. :)