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2009 recap

Writing:
SHAMEFUL. I only submitted to agents at the end of the year and they were all rejections. I didn't write anything new and only did a wee bit of editing. Bad, bad, bad Elle. I have my brilliant 2010 writing strategy though, which should make up for 2009's lack of progress and also curb my reading(!).

Reading:
I read 321 books in a variety of genres. Hi, I'm a bookaholic. I also hosted Jane Austen January.

Career:
I started the year unemployed, but thankfully had a telephone call in the first week of January offering me a job interview. I was offered the job the same afternoon and started in February, though I missed my first day due to the Blighty-halting snow. I'm still there now; it's my longest job to-date!

My work highlight was profiling Brawn GP's Andrew Shovlin (Jenson Button's senior race engineer) for the magazine - he's a lovely man.

On stage:
I saw Thriller: Live, Billy Elliot, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Avenue Q and Jersey Boys on the West End, and also Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials at the West Yorkshire Playhouse.

On screen:
My DVD find was Across the Universe and I enjoyed watching Glee and the F1 races on the tellybox (I was *incredibly* happy that Jenson won the World Championship).

At the cinema, I saw *many* films; New Moon and The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus were probably my most-anticipated ... though they then disappointed me. Go figure. From what I recall, in 2009 I enjoyed Bronson, District 9, Role Models, I Love You Man, The Hangover, Zombieland, In the Loop, The Young Victoria, Slumdog Millionaire and Confessions of a Shopaholic.

Blogging:
I re-launched on a new URL mid-year, but I was a bad blogger and commenter in 2009... I was a fab tweeter though! I took part in a competition to win a trip to Sydney - I didn't win - but I was very pleased with my children's story and 'criminal' guide for two of the challenges.

Travel:
In May I jetted off to the Middle East to visit Egypt and Jordan; in September I went to Turkey. UK-wise, I spent many weekends in London, went to Newcastle for a hen do, and spent Christmas in Dorset with the family. It was very nice to be able to go to the beach on Christmas Day, even if it was freezing!

The Noughties in numbers

Numbers are not my thing - I admit, I'm one of those people who uses their fingers to work out sums - but I have decided to sum up the Noughties in numbers, just to be different. {^_^}


  • 67 qualification-gaining exams --> 12 GCSEs, 5 A-Levels and 1 M.A (Hons) degree



  • 9 countries visited (6 visa stamps)



  • 2 countries lived in


  • 1 car (Sulley)



  • 2 lawsuits



  • 1 death



  • 2 weddings



  • 3 family additions (Sister-in-law, nephew, niece)



  • 150 pairs of jeans bought



  • 1,500 books read (probably a good guesstimate!)



  • 3 books written



  • 18 West End musicals seen



  • 9 jobs (2 internships)



  • 18,250 cups of tea drank (probably accurate!)

    I think that's covered everything! Tomorrow I'll be reviewing 2009, but what's your decade been like? x
  • 2010 writing goal #8

    8. Enter at least 3 writing competitions.

    Forward planning is required for this goal; if I looked at it next year, I would have no doubt missed the deadlines! My goal is to enter at least three writing competitions, but I think I'll be entering these five (I'm being very ambitious in 2010!):

    • The Bristol Short Story Prize

    Deadline: March 31st
    Word-count and content: 3,000 words maximum, no minimum. Any theme/subject/style.
    Fee: £7
    Prize(s): 1st = £500 and £150 Waterstone’s Gift Card; 2nd = £350 and £100 Waterstone’s Gift Card; 3rd = £200 and £100 Waterstone’s Gift Card. The next 17 shortlisted finalists receive £50; the top 20 entries will be published in the Bristol Short Story Prize Anthology Volume 3.

    Vogue Talent Contest - under 25's only

    Deadline: TBC for 2010 (was announced February 2009, with an April deadline).
    Word-count and content: TBC. (Last year two 800 word pieces were required. The first on a personal memory, the second either a contemporary arts review, a fashion trend piece or a piece of social observation).
    Fee: Free
    Prize(s): First prize is £1,000 and a month's paid work experience at Vogue(!). The runner-up gets £500.

    • Guardian Short Story Competition

    Deadline: TBC (10th July in 2009).
    Word-count and content: 2,000 words. Any subject/style.
    Fee: Free.
    Prize(s): Winning story published in the Guardian Weekend magazine. Five runners-up published on website.

    The Manchester Fiction Prize

    Deadline: TBC (2009 deadline was 7th August 2009).
    Word-count and content: Short story <5,000 words. Any subject/style.
    Fee: £15
    Prize(s): £10,000 first prize. Those aged 18-25, can also be entered in the Jeffrey Wainwright Manchester Young Writer of the Year Award to win a bursary to study Creative Writing at MMU.

    • The Dundee International Book Prize

    Deadline: TBC for 2010 (Opened July 1st in 2009; deadline November 30th).
    Word-count and content: An original work of fiction from unpublished authors, around 80,000 words in length. A <500 words synopsis is also required. No children's novels.
    Fee: Free
    Prize(s): £10,000 royalty advance and publication of novel.


    I'll keep you posted with my progress, but does anyone know any other writing competitions I should also enter? -x-

    2009 Soundtrack

    These are the songs which will always remind me of 2009:

    1. The Killers - For Reasons Unknown
    This was the song that started the New Year for me.

    2. Lady GaGa - Poker Face
    Awesome tune by the Gaga, which just happened to be released when I started my first grown-up job in February.

    3. The Communards - Don't Leave Me This Way
    This song is featured in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, which is the West End musical I saw on my 24th birthday in April.

    4. Tinchy Stryder feat N-Dubz - Number One
    This is the tune I'll always associate with my trip to Egypt and Jordan in May.

    5. Freemasons feat. Sophie Ellis Bextor - Heartbreak (Make Me a Dancer)
    The summer song, which represents my many weekends in London and my trip to Turkey in September.

    6. The Four Seasons - Beggin'
    This is Christmas in London and Dorset. It may seem random and old, but it's because I saw Jersey Boys on the West End and this song stuck in my head!


    What songs will always remind you of 2009? xoxo

    If you're stuck remembering them, here's a fab mash-up of 2009 pop from DJ Earworm (spotted on Perez, but I found where you can download the song for free):


    Top chick lit reads of 2009

    In no particular order, here are my top ten chick lit reads of 2009:

    * Wives v. Girlfriends - Katie Agnew
    * Luxury - Jessica Ruston
    * Heiresses - Lulu Taylor
    * Johnny Be Good - Paige Toon
    * Valley of the Dolls - Jacqueline Susann
    * Gossip Girl - Cecily von Ziegesar
    * Remember Me? - Sophie Kinsella
    * Sex, Lies and Fairytales - Kate Thompson
    * A Vintage Affair - Isabel Wolff
    * Something Blue - Emily Giffin

    My top ten overall reads can be found here. What are your favourite reads of 2009?

    2010 goals

    Writing goals:

    1. Finish the first draft of Tabitha and edit.
    2. Re-work Lottie alongside Tabitha edits (Tabitha is a spin-off of Lottie).
    3. Package Lottie and Tabitha for submission.
    4. Re-work TROG submission package.
    5. Tweak Geli and Geli submission package.
    6. Write crime/thriller book - I really want to try my hand at a new genre and I started writing a crime/thriller called Boudica's Attic set in 1920s New York. Must finish it!
    7. Write chick-lit book #5 - possibly TROG #2.
    8. Enter at least 3 writing competitions.
    9. Freelance work for newspapers/magazines to build-up writing credentials.
    10. Get agent and book deal.
    11. Keep a personal journal for 2010 - up until 2005 I used to write in a journal most days; have bought a Moleskine diary to revive this!

    Other goals:

    1. Limit myself to 12 reads a month (144 reads a year is still respectable; 322 reads for 2009 was a wee bit excessive!).
    2. Blog online at least 5 times a month.
    3. Visit 2 new countries.
    4. See 2 West End musicals.


    What are your 2010 goals? -x-

    Top reads of 2009

    In no particular order, here are my top ten reads of 2009:

    * My Father's Notebook - Kader Abdolah
    * The Gift of Rain - Tan Twan Eng
    * Sookie Stackhouse - Charlaine Harris
    * Valley of the Dolls - Jacqueline Susann
    * The Nightingale - Morganna Gallaway
    * The Host - Stephenie Meyer
    * The Mozart Conspiracy - Scott Mariani
    * Johnny Be Good - Paige Toon
    * Moth Smoke - Mohsin Hamid
    * Revolutionary Road - Richard Yates

    What have been your favourite reads this year? xoxo

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