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Having Some Fun with WordPress

For those of you still finding your way around WordPress, like me, check out something quite fun.

If you click on ‘My Blogs’, then select the blog you want to find out about (if you write more than one).  Scroll across to ‘Stats’.  Not only does this page show you lots of cool info, including your total Page Views ever (not including your own views of your blog), and your Best Day ever, in terms of page views, but there is also a rather cool section called ‘Search Engine Terms’.

Click on ‘This Week‘ which is in blue on the right hand side of the ‘Search Engine Terms’ header, midway down the Stats Page.

Then, when the page changes to a page devoted to Search Engine Terms, click on the ‘All Time’ option – also in underlined blue.

I realise that all sounds a bit complicated, but hopefully what it’s brought up for you, is a rather cool list of all the terms people have entered into Search Engines, to then get to your site.  You’ll probably be rather amused by some of the more random ones –

For example, on my list of searches which led to The Elementary Circle , there are some common ones I might expect to end up at the site – ‘navigator of dreams’, ‘cosmopolitan ultimate woman of the year 2007’, ‘cc lester’, ‘charly lester blog’, and ‘dream navigator’, ‘the elementary circle word press‘ are all things several people have tried to Google.

However, here are some entries I wouldn’t necessarily expect to lead people to my blog!

(NB – All searches are as typed originally and word for word)

  • superman name
  • woman to ski
  • loner writer (NICE!)
  • penis (that one hit my site twice …. pretty sure this is the first time I’ve ever mentioned that particular word on the blog!)
  • bungee
  • ‘i crossing my fingers you get a chance to’ …. (hoping this one means I get some luck!)
  • mercury childs wagon (???? what is this? some kind of pushchair/stroller??? – for anyone reading who doesn’t know, the book I’m currently writing is called Mercury’s Child)
  • similarlymercury wagon child’s (what is this all about??)
  • unspoken words of need of closure (does this make sense to anyone?)
  • sex.girls.xxx.falling i if m singleton (seriously HOW did this bring up my blog???!!)
  • work for free otherwise known as (Haha! kind of sums up my life at the mo!)
  • how do i an 2 above a m (can anyone translate this??)
  • am sikis (DITTO)
  • fat back women maken usen ditto rate xxx (SIC …. what is with these searches.  Are they literally just entering random words?)
  • some time i an read an i cannot
  • weight loss diary (um??? wrong blog me thinks!)
  • +post something anonymously on facebook
  • would sending letters of recommendations help i an immigration case
  • dream interpretation; cant hear me warning her (this one scares me a bit – sounds rather nightmarish!)
  • http://www.thewriter’slife.com/earnaliving (haven’t personally worked that one out myself yet!)
  • literary grandmother names
  • my 18 tens
  • cool names for shields
  • female christian writers blogssorry, defo got the wrong blog here
  • woman 40+ glam shots (I REALLY hope this didnt bring up my front page pic! I was 24 in that picture for frack’s sake!!!!)
  • do not reply email address (why is someone even searching this in the first place?)
  • how to write someone elses thoughts (pretty sure that’s a major part of fiction, and not necessarily something you’ll find cliff notes on!)
  • what english writer used the pen name ella? (was someone at a pub quiz by any chance?!)
  • bored written loads of times in different writing (not too impressed this brings up my blog, if I’m honest!)
  • heels muddy or mud (um WTF?!)
  • swearing screaming sex (coz obviously my blog is full of it! Though possibly slightly more accurate than the Christian writer search!)
There are also a couple of cool, but unexpected ones
  • ЩИТ И МЕЧ ПЕРО И БУМАГА –  Which Babblefish handily tells me means ‘Sword and Shield, Pen and Paper’ in Russian!
  • Flicker Lester (I like!)
  • Felicity Firestone (um AWESOME!!!!! who Googled her?! Now I want to Google her and see what comes up!)
  • Ellody Rose (is someone Google-stalking my heroines?!)
  • my life in ten years (not sure what that person was looking for, probably not my novel ‘My Ten Future Lives’ but I guess you never  know, it might have helped him or her!)
  • glorified slavery (this blatantly came up because it’s the phrase I use to describe unpaid work experience!)
  • i’m the author of my life (um, BOSH!)
  • facebook.com/cclester (eek, someone’s trying to stalk me!)
  • lucy lester flicker (this one made me grin – like a combo of me and my agent all in one – i guess that sums up a year of my life!)
  • elliwrites boyfriendLiz of Elli Writes – SOMEONE FANCIES YOU!!!

Plus, it’s quite cool being able to tell my lovely agent Lucy Dundas, at PFD (and a couple of other friends who have commented on my blog!!) , just how many times her name has been googled in the past few months 😉

Ah the power of the Search Engine Terms!  Give it a go, and let me know if you come up with any particularly funny ones!!!
C-C xxx
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A Change of Approach

Last week I hit a bit of a brick wall with the book I’m writing.  I’ve realised that,  rather ironically considering how much I enjoy travelling, I really don’t enjoy writing the ‘travel’ sections of stories – how characters A and B get to C. Something which you can in some circumstances simply skip altogether.  However, when the story is one about a series of interlinked worlds, it seems rather important to describe those links.  I just get rather impatient and can’t wait to get to the main story again … and that leads me to a bout of good old Writer’s Block.

However, I think I found a solution … or at least it did in my case!  Two week’s (of unemployment!) in, and I’ve now hit 30,000 words.  Obviously, their calibre is still to be decided, but they are words, on a page, and for that I’m proud/

In fact, it was actually words on a page which got me past the infamous Block, because I decided to change my approach to writing for a few days.

I write in  Word documents.  Each chapter is a simple Word document, and then sections are compiled as folders on my laptop.  I spent my life writing on a computer screen.  And so I mixed it up a bit.  I printed out my chapters.

For a start, actually being able to physically touch the pages of my work reminded me of what I had achieved.  30,000 words is about 76 pages of print.  That’s a pretty hefty weight in your palms … even more so if you print it out double-spaced (which is actually something I would recommend if you have a lot of editing to do!)

But also, seeing the writing in a different way – as printed pages, as opposed to a never-ending scrolling computer screen really helped me look at it in a fresh light.  I ended up editing everything I had written, and being inspired enough to go straight to writing another three chapters.

So if you’re struggling with a writing hurdle of some kind – whether it’s a travel section of your novel, or just simply a scene that you still can’t get to sound quite right – why don’t you try looking at it in a different way?  Print it out, type it up, or simply copy it out again … You never know what the results might be!

C-C xxx

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Getting Over The Writing Hurdle

I’m constantly thinking up stories.  As in literally every day.  If I’m working on a book, then that story plays out in my head throughout my day.  It’s there in the background, so that whenever I have a solitary moment – working out at the gym, or walking for the bus – the story picks back up in my head, and I carry it on.

If I’m not working on a project at the time, I find my head filling with new ideas.  I’ll toy with an idea for an hour or two, a day maybe … and if it sticks, write it down … if not, I start again.

So the stories are always there … and yet that doesn’t mean they automatically translate onto my computer screen.  Because sometimes I take my stories too far …

This has been my writing hurdle with my current book ‘Mercury’s Child‘.

I spent too much time thinking about the story before I began to write.  And I got too far along the story!

You see, I write books in the same way I read them.  I want to know what happens next.  I invest in my characters, and want to know where they’re going … and so the problem with thinking up too much of a story before you get it down on paper, is that you don’t want to be writing the first part of the story.  You want to be writing the later parts!

With Mercury’s Child I laid all the groundwork in my head, and couldn’t bring myself to write it all down, because I was worried that my impatience to get to the newer parts of the story – they parts I didn’t know yet – would translate into my written word.

And so for months and months I dawdled.  At first I had excuses – it was the end of my ski season in Whistler, and I wanted to make the most of the skiing and socialising.  Then I returned home, and there was the obvious excuse of catching up with friends and family who I hadn’t seen for years.

But now I have no excuse.  I’ve been back home exactly 1 month, and I’m still yet to start work.  I’m spending weekday after weekday waiting for my grown-up friends with their grown-up adult jobs, to leave work and come and play with me, and I’m getting bored.  Now, if I’m really an author, I ought to be using all this spare time productively.  And there are only so many magazine writing competitions I can enter in one month!

So I finally got started.  I’m happy to admit that the first couple of days were a struggle – trying to make sure the start of my book remained as exciting and full of promise as the idea had when I first came up with it, despite my desire to fast-forward through the story until I got to a point where I felt like I was still being creative.

But the reason I’m writing is that I got over my hump!  I got over the writing hurdle, and I’m back in a zone where I feel like I’m using my imagination again.  And once I got the first three chapters of Mercury’s Child down, I could go back over them with fresh eyes, and actually add in new snippets.  New ideas, which made me feel like I was actually using my imagination, and that I was injecting those things that I had been worried would no longer be present in the first parts of my story – excitement and intrigue – properly into it.

Obviously whether I’ve been successful is a subjective judgment, but in just four days, I’ve managed to pen twelve thousand, five hundred words.  The first of my six chapters is on the blog – have a read, and let me know what you think.  And if you want to read more, let me know, and I’ll post another chapter 🙂

So I guess my message today is that everyone has their hurdles, and for every writer, the challenges present themselves in different ways.  But from my experience, the only way you get over a hurdle is by gritting your teeth, and hitting it face on.  At first it might be tough, but once you’ve got something on the page, you’ve created a framework that you can go back and tweak.  And trust me, the tweaking stage is far easier, and far more fun, than the initial ‘laying the framework’ phase – so just get that first part over and done with!

C-C xx

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Feature on Elli Writes

Thanks to journalist, author, and fellow blogger Liz Carlton for this lovely feature on her blog ‘Elli Writes‘.

And wow! – only just saw the front page of her blog, and I’m everywhere … thank you so much Liz, I feel very honoured!!

C-C xx

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I’m Bored!!!

Those of you who regularly read my blog will know that I recently returned home to England after two and a half years of travelling.  I’ve been back for almost four weeks now … and I have to admit to being rather bored.  Whilst that might sound silly, when I’m always talking about writing, I have to admit that one of the things that gives me writer’s block seems to be having lots of time on my hands!

I write best in certain circumstances.

1) When I’m physically travelling – on a train or a bus.  Probably because that means I can’t distract myself with the internet!

2) When I’m really really busy – because somehow then I’ll actually find time to write in my few spare hours!  Give me too many spare hours, and I’m the queen of procrastination!

The thing is, over the past few weeks, I’ve realised there is one type of writing that I’ve been able to commit to, and that’s short stories.  Lack of work has driven me to entering writing competitions with big cash prizes!  So far I’ve finished off a story written by a best-selling author … in a genre I would never normally write.  And then I was asked to use my imagination and write a story based on ‘a secret’ for woman&home magazine.  Because of the average age of the magazine’s subscriber’s, I decided to write a story from the perspective of a middle-aged mother – again a very different tale to the ones I normally write.  And both of the stories were short stories, a genre I haven’t experimented with since I did my GCSEs.

I promise to post both these competition entries up on the site, as soon as I know I’m allowed to.  (Both entries are contingent on the stories never having been published before).  However, I wondered if anyone fancies helping me relieve some boredom and exercise my ‘writing muscle’ …

I noticed a suggestion on another blog to write a story about a ‘strong female lead in a vampire situation.’  I’m not gonna lie, I’m rather over vampires and teen fiction, but could be persuaded to write a short story, or a scene.  And I recently really enjoyed Elli Writes’ competition to write an entry based on ‘Rebirth’.

So I was wondering if anyone had any suggestions for a short story.  Literally name your parameters – maybe you’ve got a couple of things you want to be included in it, or a paragraph you want me to carry on, or a situation you want me to write about …

Whatever it is, post your story prompt below, and I will endeavour to write a response to it!  And if you’d rather write a whole story than post a story idea, then take on some of these story ideas, and then when you’ve finished your story, post a link to it below, and everyone can read it!

If you need somewhere to start, we could all try our hand at Maria Kelly’s writing prompt –  ‘to write a strong character in a vampire situation’?

Make sure you let her know if you use her idea, and also add a link on this post so the blog readers can check it out too 🙂

So come on … get me out of my bored grump, and give me something to sink my writing teeth into … or give some of the other blog readers something to think about.  Let’s make the most of our big community of ‘nearly-there’ authors!

C-C xx

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In the Spirit of Competition …

Ok, so I have a couple of excuses as to why I’ve been AWOL from the world of blogging for the past two weeks.  The first is that I’m finally back in England, after two and a half years travelling, so things are a little ‘abnormal’ to say the least.  The second is that, after two and a half years of dragging my poor old MacBook around the world, I figured it was time it got a bit of TLC, so my laptop has been in the Apple Store for the past fortnight.

But my main excuse is that my writing has been concentrated elsewhere.  Because I’m revelling in the phenomenon that is being a citizen of the country you are living in (quite a novelty for me) … and entering competitions!

Now, I know the world is for the most part computerised, however you’ll notice in the small print of most competitions, that even if they appear to be simply online, they normally require you to be a citizen or resident of the country where the competition originated.  This is especially prevalent in magazine competitions, where even if a magazine is global, like Marie Claire, the competitions are only local.

So now that I’m back HOME, I’ve been making the most of being British and entering a ton of writing competitions!!!

I’ve talked in the past about using writing exercises, particularly when you’re feeling a bit stuck.  I have to admit to having been brainstorming an idea for a new book for the past month, and feeling like not all the pieces have clicked in place yet.  So it’s great to have a diversion which exercises my good old ‘writing muscle’. 

My two favourites this past week have been the Grazia writing competition, called ‘The Deadline’, and a scheme by Marie Claire to pair young aspiring women up with successful role models in their chosen business.

The first competition centred around a pre-written paragraph, by the writer Kate Mosse, which you were required to transform into an entire first chapter.  The paragraph was very different to my normal style of writing, and required me to think out of the box I’ve become most comfortable in, which was a great challenge, and something which kept me scribbling for a good couple of days.

The second competition is of a different nature.  The Inspire & Mentor scheme could provide me with a best-selling author as a mentor, which is pretty damn exciting!  The scheme is an extension of the successful Prince’s Trust scheme which aims to help underprivileged women survive and succeed in life. However readers of the magazine Marie Claire can also benefit from the guidance of a professional mentor.

As a young woman still very much trying to find her feet in the world of writing and publishing, I think initiatives like this one are brilliant.

Right … I’m off to find some more fun competitions 😉 And speaking of competitions, if you haven’t already, check out yesterday’s post about Elli Write’s April Competition.

Cheers,

C-C xxx

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The Ladder to the Top

Following on from my post about The Author Brand, I thought it might be an inspiration to others to collate some information about some of the world’s most famous authors, and their paths to success.   Today I’ve focussed on rejections by agents and publishers.

The ladder to the top can be a long and treacherous one, and it seems not even the most successful authors made it to the summit unscathed!

J.K. Rowling

‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’ was rejected by twelve different publishers before Bloomsbury finally took it on, and only then on the advice of the CEO’s eight-year old daughter!

John Grisham

Grisham penned his first novel, the iconic ‘A Time to Kill’ whilst legally representing a 12 year-old rape victim.  After three years writing the famous tale, Grisham was rejected by over thirty publishing houses before Wynwood Press finally cut him a break.

Stephen King

Stephen King took the rejection of his first novel ‘The Long Walk’ so badly, even though he only submitted it to one publisher, that he gave up on the story all together.

Meg Cabot

The bestselling author of ‘The Princess Diaries’ faced rejection after rejection for three years before finding a publisher.   She admits to having kept every single rejection letter in a giant U.S. postal bag which is so heavy she can’t even lift it!   And editors didn’t hold back with their criticism… one particularly scathing review stated that ‘The Princess Diaries’ wasn’t suitable for children.  Try telling that to the millions of children who have since bought the books and watched the movies!

William Golding

‘Lord of The Flies’ was rejected twenty times before being published.  One editor actually described it as ‘an absurd and uninteresting fantasy which was rubbish and dull’!  Oops!

(The Diary of )Anne Frank

One publisher rejected the iconic journal because ‘The girl doesn’t, it seems to me, have a special perception or feeling which would lift the book above the ‘curiosity’ level.’

Joseph Heller

Apparently Catch-22 was originally entitled ‘Catch-18’ but Heller increased the number with each rejection letter! One of the ‘best rejection’ it received said ‘Apparently the author intends it to be funny – possibly even satire – but it is really not funny on any intellectual level …’

George Orwell

Four publishers rejected the iconic ‘Animal Farm’, including famous poet T.S. Elliot.  Elliot criticised Orwell’s ‘Trotskyite politics’, whilst another editor simply stated ‘It is impossible to sell animal stories in the USA’!

Harper Lee

‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, one of my favourite novels, was rejected by J.B. Lippincott Company because it ‘had too many short stories strung together, and needed to be rewritten’.

On a similar note, a few years ago the director of the Jane Austen Festival decided to find out what sort of reception Jane herself might get, had she been an author in this day and age.  With only a few minor changes, David Lassman submitted the opening chapters and plot synopses to three of Austen’s most famous books – Pride and Prejudice, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion – to publishers and agents. He submitted the books under early titles which Austen had once considered, and used the pen name ‘Alison Laydee’, a play on Austen’s nom de plume ‘ A Lady’.

Despite not even changing the opening line of Pride & Prejudice – one of the most famous lines in literature – only one editor noticed the plagiarism!  And EVERYONE else rejected ALL of Austen’s work.

I realise that possibly says more about the lack of education of those we’re pinning our hopes to at the moment, than anything else … but it also shows that even literary genius can go unnoticed in today’s harsh market!  So don’t get too disheartened by the rejection emails … we’ll get there in the end 😉

As another of my favourite childhood authors, C.S. Lewis, once said … ‘Failures are fingerposts on the road to achievement.’

C-C xx

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