Friday, 7 December 2012

Submissions: Get Your Writing Read!

There is a great satisfaction in submitting your writing and to be honest, I don't do submissions as often as I'd like.  However, the latest call for narrative non-fiction submissions in the form of memoir for the New Writing section - a substantial section of poetry and prose on a particular theme - of the March 2013 issue of Mslexia Magazine caught my attention as it's a genre I've been experimenting on this year.

I took advantage of this opportunity by submitting two pieces (of up to 2,200 words); one I'd already written, which needed some re-writing and editing and another one I reworked.  I'm not sure what gives me the most satisfaction, the actual writing process or completing the pieces...both call for creative choices and despite the outcome of whether any of my submissions are selected/published, the journey is as important as the destination.

It's the fact that there is a purpose to the writing that has a positive effect on what you end up writing; the awareness that my submissions will be judged by a high-profile guest judge who introduces and comments on each piece, all play a part and that is what makes the writing of value - regardless of whether it is selected or not.

I would definitely recommend submitting your writing out there to magazines, journals, books as it will force you to develop your writing skills.  I would also suggest you're selective, choosing a well-known magazine, etc, and write for the experience.  Who knows your work may be selected - an invaluable addition to any writer's CV.

Monday, 5 November 2012

To Self Publish or Not?

Writers' block is something that I've denied and kept at bay in my creative writing journey.  That's not to say there haven't been those times when the thought of putting pen to paper hasn't materialised to the act of writing.  Most days, I'll write - something - a journal entry, a poem maybe, even just free-write to keep the fluency and the creative flow moving.  But over the last few days, I've felt stuck and although I'm now seeing some light at the end of the tunnel, I've felt the frustration of that writers'block for real now.
     Why does writers' block rear its ugly head?  I'm going along with the analysis that it can serve a purpose. If you're stuck on your writing, especially a novel, it's part of the writing process; the deal when you take up the challenge of your writing project.
     I am slowly realising that my children's novel by the end of chapter two needs a much more detailed plot, despite how the narrative is developing naturally.  Somehow, I liked the unknown; the surprises that made the writing sweet and although I've written character sketches and a draft synopsis, more of this type of work is required so that I know more - the bare bones of the story needs some flesh.
     So back to my original question - bare with me as there is a link to the writers' block issue. At the back of my mind while I put down those words is this entity out there - the publisher.  And I hear you say, "But, you've only just got chapter two sorted!"  Well, yes, I know but if you claim to be a writer there is always some form of homework to do - the research that is.  I've done the children's writing course, browsed the Internet at the mass of children's book publishers, which alone is particularly revealing as I observe the range of children's books out there in the shops, on Kindle, etc.  It's important to keep in the loop.
     Last night I did some more of this research lark and stumbled across a site where a children's writer in the US shared his story of why he chose the self-publishing route. (see Link below)  I soon realised after just a short read that I need to feel more free to be - free to just get on with the writing, rather than allow the thought of a publishing deal to come into play.  Who am I kidding anyway?  The real deal is that I may never find a publisher and I'm not being pessimistic here.
     As I've independently edited and produced three anthologies of creative writing (poetry, personal essays), the experience of self-publishing my novel on say Amazon's Kindle seems a rather more attractive and feasible option and in some ways could be seen as experimenting with the E-Book market.
     So, on that note, I'm going to pull myself out of the writers' block zone and get on with the joy (and pain) of writing my children's story without that haunting feeling of a publisher out there which really is an unknown.


Thursday, 1 November 2012

Enchantment - a poem


Words dance in delight at my feet
tapping a wild rhythm
zig-zagging this way and that
shoe shuffling, a top hat
spinning in a trance
to a word dance
maybe in a while
a lighter, open-space
will pave the way
and I'll play these words
weaving textured multi-layers
beneath and between the lines

© Nicole Moore 2012

Saturday, 20 October 2012

New Characters Stop Sleep!

Yesterday, I started writing chapter two of my mystery novel for young adults (yes, it's official!) and that led to a rather restless night.  My two new characters who surface in chapter two played havoc with my sleep.  They obviously were excited at their forthcoming arrival on the page and oblivious to the time.  I even made a few notes just before dropping off, thinking that would keep them quiet for a while but no, throughout the early hours, they squatted in that part of my brain, you know the part that never sleeps!

So today I will get them out and get to know them better and that should I hope keep them quiet while I get on with my other life tasks of the day.  I will of course be writing down the bones of the story...

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Ode to my Grandfather

Ode to my Grandfather

As a child, alone
in a world of my own
sitting at my grandfather’s piano
making connections with tomorrow

Vivid memories faded
jaded, as aged thirteen my
musical journey
was brought to an abrupt end

The passage of time
doesn’t stand still
only life’s reality
of continued disruptions filter through

Now the year is 2009
and I recall those vivid memories
as I sit at my piano
in my own studio

This time with guidance
this time my musical journey
and this ‘new’ beginning
has no abrupt end

And I settle comfortably in
and although I will always dream
of what might have been
then; I know my journey now

The keys are mine for the taking;
music is mine for the making.

© Nicole Moore 2009

Monday, 6 August 2012

Youthful Dreams - a poem

Youthful dreams

Youthful dreams
of a knight in shining armour
were short-lived,
as soon as I showed up in
the world of young men,

Whose smiles seemed to
mean a different scene
to the one played out in my head,
where I'd tell myself
he must like you.

“What's your name?”
Would be quickly followed by
“Where do you live; do you live on your own?”
My air of independence
oozing out of every pore.

His game became apparent
as irritation slipped through
“One kiss just won't do” he'd say
when a loving kiss was
all I needed, wanted.

I withdrew a little
and guarded I tried something new.
My love search became an afterthought;
first came affection
followed by sexual connections.

Occasionally love surprised me,
surfacing when he wanted more
and I felt a kind of light-heartedness,
laughter set in,
a self consciousness would capture us

And then as we grew familiar
we would take each other
for granted; jealousy would
creep in and rattle our world.
Trusting became the new challenge.

Love, fun, faded.

©Nicole Moore 2012

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Writers' Groups

Whether you're an experienced writer or just starting out, a Writers' Group is a great way to support your writing journey, especially as writing is such a solitary exercise.

In March 2012, I set up a Writers' Group. There were four of us at the beginning, until a bit of networking and we are now five.  Our format has been tried and tested before and it works really well.  We meet fortnightly for two hours and each of us have a platform of  about 20 minutes to share where we are at with our writing.  This may include discussing works in progress, a poem or two written, or an extract from a short story.  There are no rules about the genre of writing.  It is a truly liberating experience to share your writing, and yes, it does sometimes feel a little vulnerable bearing your soul, although there is absolutely no pressure to do so.

What follows is constructive feedback, e.g. suggestions on how to move a story forward, on how to use different writing techniques, i.e. photo poems, clustering (brainstorming) to inspire and evoke ideas.  The greatest value is in airing work that may have been sitting for some time as a computer file or as a piece of writing in your journal.

Since the Writers' Group, I have set down some goals and completed quite a few assignments that I know I may not have even felt inspired enough to complete on my own.  Just saying out-loud what I'd like to get done before each session, is enough discipline for me to make sure I get the work done.  I have gained lots of support too as this group of like-minded individuals are a joy to link up with; I really look forward to each session.

If you're finding it a bit of a struggle writing on your own, I would strongly recommend either joining a Writers' Group or starting one up of your own.

For more tips, visit:

Friday, 13 July 2012

Writing for Children - Dialogue

Assignment 5 of my Academy of Children's Writing Course covered dialogue.  Here is one of my writing tasks intended for 'a boy who is about 9 years' old:

 “Do you know Kev, you’ve always got your head stuck in a book, you need to be careful it doesn’t stay there forever,” said Robert.
“What do you mean, don’t be daft,” said Kevin, smiling.
“I’m serious Kev,” said Robert. “It’s just not cool, all this book stuff.”
“What do you know, you haven’t even got a book in your house,” said Kevin.
“Exactly, there are no books, because I don’t need to read them,” said Robert.
“Look,” said Kevin. “You’re missing out on some great stories and you can learn lots of new words too.”
“Yeah, whatever,” said Robert.
“I’m serious, OK, do you know what vocabulary means? asked Kevin.
“Vocabu what?” said Robert.
“Vocabulary you idiot,” said Kevin.
“Oh, vocabulary, yes of course I know,” said Robert. “Why?”
“So, Rob, what does it mean? asked Kevin.
Suddenly, Robert stood up and made for Kevin’s bedroom door.
“I’m out of here,” said Robert.
“Hang on a minute, you don’t know do you? said Kevin.
Robert looked down at his trainers and shifted his feet.
“Listen, Kev, just get your head back into your book,” said Robert.
“Rob, it’s OK, it’s just that words are so cool,” said Kevin.
“For you maybe, but I’m not into them; maths is my subject, you know where you are, one and one is two, easy,” said Robert.
“Yeah, but it sounds like you’re scared of words,” said Kevin.
“Yeah right, you’re the scary one – Mr Walking Dictionary,” said Robert.
“Sticks and stones may hurt my bones, but words will never hurt me, Rob, stop ducking and diving,” said Kevin. “I can help you.”
“I don’t need your help,” said Robert.
“Really, look I used to find English lessons hard, until my mum got me a tutor and now I have a vocabulary book, where I write new words and their meaning so I don’t forget,” said Kevin.
“What, so that worked eh, sounds like magic,” said Robert. “You sure you don’t fancy your tutor?”
“No way, she’s well old, at least twenty five,” said Kevin.
Robert burst out laughing. Kevin then reached into his bookcase and showed Robert his vocabulary notebook.
“Take a look,” said Kevin.
Robert hesitated for a few seconds and then took hold of the small red coloured pocket size note book.
“Wow, there are non-stop words in here,” said Robert. You can’t seriously know them all.
“I sure do and I didn’t swallow a dictionary either – you can test me on any word you like,” said Kevin.
“OK, what does accommodation mean?” asked Robert, slowly sounding out the word.
“It means a place to live or work,” said Kevin.
“Yeah, but, wouldn’t it be easier to just use the word home or office?” asked Robert.
“Well, no, smarty pants, because you might be in a hotel room,” said Kevin.
“OK, you win,” Robert said, flicking through more of Kevin’s vocabulary book. “I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I think words aren’t so bad after all.”

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Journal Writing

I started to keep a journal in 1995 as a requirement of a writing course I was studying and I haven’t stopped since. My first journal was a small notebook, which soon had to increase to A4 size notebooks, a much preferred landscape, which enhanced my writing process.  I alternate between A5 and A4 size journals.
There are no rules with journal writing; all you need is a blank canvas, a pen and you’re on your way. Sometimes I will cut out magazine or press articles and paste them in my journal along with my reflections. Sometimes I will write poetry, small reviews of films, books, and travel experiences that I find inspiring.  Lately, I find that I record spiritual moments, which often arise out of the blue or from a challenging life experience, the writing of which is often revealing.
I have found it useful to experiment with my journaling, e.g. writing with different coloured pens, depending on my mood. It’s the process of writing, the physical feeling of the pen creating the words on the page – allowing the creative artist in me to bring forth language and string and blend words together to form sentences, paragraphs, pages, chapters, articles, books and so on.
I love the freedom of writing my thoughts and feelings, of choosing when to write, how much to write, or not. I have found journal writing to be a form of self-discovery since until you allow yourself the luxury and indulge your creative self i.e. the writer within, you don’t know what may come up and face you, confront you, challenge you. This can be positive and negative – even that process creates realism, harmony and balance in your writing.
In September 2009, I started a Music Journal to record thoughts and feelings about how my piano lessons, playing and practice are progressing. I used to keep a Dream Journal so as to capture those rare premonition dreams along with lucid and recurrent dreams that can so easily be forgotten. A few months ago, I signed up for a free private online journal at and I am enjoying this new experience.

Friday, 6 July 2012

My Mind is an Oak Tree

My mind is an oak tree, solid, stable with far-reaching roots that are unseen by the naked eye and yet travel deep throughout the earth’s core, reaching, searching for more depth and understanding. Above the surface, the oak tree’s unmovable trunk ascends and transforms and moves into numerous upward directions and scans and hovers giving shade below to anyone or anything that sits or walks by, offering a peaceful landscape when looked at from a distance. And let’s not forget those all unique oak tree branches, some strong enough to support the occasional cat, and squirrel who will use them as a transport system, strong enough too for a child and adult to climb up in their exploration journey through childhood and adulthood – reasons for climbing can be many. 

Last but not least are the oak trees’ leaves which sound and look beautiful when the soft breezes create a dance; and then the summer’s blossom of pink or white flowers take control, famous for a while and worth standing back to absorb the view. The leaves are set free and take on a new existence once they fall in autumn; they become a garden’s carpet for us to leave alone until a sweeping of the dead leaves comes into play. Their shedding abandons the oak tree, leaving it lighter so as to restore energy for the next season’s demands.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Jamaica Reflections

With time-watching now a thing of the past and no work commitments, time didn't stand still – it was mine to do as I pleased with. Ironically, I didn't lie-in. The sun rises early every morning in Jamaica - no clocks going back or forward – real time sets in and the best and the least hottest time of the day was early morning.
        I'd wake up to the sounds of a cock crowing and dogs barking mostly as hunger was calling. Days ran into night and nights kept fulfilling their promise of relieving the day's heat, just like the ocean's tide coming in and out.
        Not being a good swimmer, I wasn't keen to get into the ocean, although I didn't mind getting my feet wet on occasions. Maybe it was genetic? But I wasn't all that interested in plunging/swimming in the sea. My mother never swam; she 'didn't like the water,' she said. I never asked why.
        I became a sun-worshipper but not the kind that would lay for hours in the sun; I didn't need to go to such extreme measures. All that was required was for me to sit watching the ocean, usually on a stocky tree trunk, and the sun's rays would subtly tinge my skin so that after a period of three months I'd develop a deep brown-skinned tone, which meant I too was not only at peace spiritually, I was blending into the colourful landscapes.
        Of course this was nothing new; millions of people all over the world travel to see other countries and continents, modern cities and the ruins of ancient towns, they travel to enjoy picturesque places, or just for a change of scene. But why did I keep returning to Jamaica? What was it about this small island, which hosted thousands of holidaymakers for a couple of weeks a year and yet for me, called me back again and again?
        I guess I was one of those 'tourists' during my first visit in 1996 when, seeking a budget holiday with a lively night-life and shops and craft markets packed with bargains, I felt right at home. Mo'Bay as the locals call it, is the second largest city on the island and by far Jamaica's most important tourist resort. More than 30% of the country's hotel rooms are there. However, the resort town of Montego Bay is as far from the 'real' Jamaica as you can get, which is why it is essential to hire a car so you can discover and immerse yourself in country-life. If you're seeking authentic offbeat Jamaica, move on.
        Luckily my first two-week introduction into Jamaica gave me an opportunity to move on. The first week my friend Anne and I did the usual tourist activities, including a visit to one of the city's three 'public' beaches – Doctor's Cave – which I was taken aback by as there was an entrance fee, something I'd never heard of or ever experienced on holiday. The beach was surrounded in an ugly fashion by wire fences and tall concrete walls. There's no doubt this unattractive beach meant my visit was a one-off.
        The only time I revisited Montego Bay, apart from landing at its Donald Sangster International Airport, was in August 2000, specifically for Reggae Sumfest to see world-class reggae artists. However, I have to say although I wasn't disappointed, by far the most authentic reggae festival was 'Rebel Salute,' held in January at St. Elizabeth. I was lucky enough to meet a Rastafarian called Larry who invited me along; in fact that was the reason for my second visit to Jamaica that year. I'd become so hooked after my first reggae concert experience, I wanted more.
        Having never been to a reggae concert in Jamaica, I didn't know what to expect and was almost hypnotised by the sheer magnificence of it. Even before I arrived, I witnessed a 3-4 mile roadblock like you've never seen. I walked a few of those miles passing parked cars all the way along the route to the concert. People were chatting, laughing, selling food and drinks. The venue itself, a sports arena, was just the right size as there must have been 3,000 of us. My first priority on arrival was to go to the toilet, which was a good thing as it became out of bounds later on. My friend Larry and his four 'colleagues' as he liked to call them, decided on a space. Our driver slept in readiness for the car drive home.
        By now it was around 10pm and the all-night-er concert was just getting started since it would go on until around 8am. Larry had thoughtfully put a chair in the car for me to sit on as he rightly said, “Standing for long hours will get you mashed up.” The concert's atmosphere was trouble-free, friendly and exciting with loud cheers of 'More Fire', flags of red, green and gold waving majestically throughout the sky. Fire crackers were set off individually to demonstrate appreciation of an act. Lighters and fuel cannisters were used to lighten ascended streaks of yellow throughout the sky sending massive clouds of smoke and smells of fire burning. Most importantly, I witnessed brilliant music, professionally presented using top quality sounding speakers. It was impossible not to enjoy this; I felt as though I'd gone to heaven. The cool, somewhat strong winds were keeping me from drifting mentally to another dimension. The whole experience was just electric; full of wonder and magic.
        During all of this, mobile vendors paraded selling cigarettes, chewing gum, lighters, peanuts, biscuits, drinks and of course marijuana. I was surprised that this was the one and only occasion that the police relaxed their powers!
        At about 3am, people gradually began to rise up. “What's happening?” I asked Larry.
        “The main artists are coming on stage,” he said.
        For the next two hours, we were blessed with performances from Luciana, Capelton and Beanie Man; the best was definitely saved for last.

To be continued...

Friday, 29 June 2012

Why Do You Write?

Why do you write?

I write for several reasons; for artistic self expression, to share some important social and/or political issue, because I feel compelled to put pen to paper, because not to write would mean I'd feel deprived on a spiritual, psychic and emotional level, because it's become part of who I am and because I feel a sense of freedom during and after the writing process.

I cannot imagine not writing. I cannot imagine keeping all those ideas, thoughts, and observations circling around in my head and not letting them reach the paper, so as to explore what they can be made into, how they may evolve.

How do I write?


I write in my journal, which is where I collect thoughts, opinions, ideas, poems, observations. Recently, I started an on-line private journal ( Journalling satisfies my need to write and as it isn't going to be viewed, I can feel more free with this kind of writing than any other. Sometimes its emotional stuff and can include responses to everyday life, but more recently I write when I'm inspired/motivated/effected in some way.

Creative flow is something I have to work hard on so as to not let my inner critic have its say. I try to write freely and spend less time on rewriting. I'm aiming for a natural rhythm and momentum. I try to connect with my writing everyday, even if it is a journal entry. 

Current work includes studying children's writing through an Academy of Children's Writing correspondence course; Assignment 7 (there are 10) is a tough one as I have the challenge of writing a synopsis for a non-fiction book along with a chapter by chapter outline and then the first 1000 words of the book.  

I'd really like to hear from fellow writers so please do let me know why you write!

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Home contd...

The term 'home' is highly complicated in a complex and multicultural world like ours and means different things to us.  For me, I've just scratched the surface; home can incorporate family, comfort, friends etc.  I've still more questions to consider.  Is home the place in which you were born, raised and live, or is it a space that gives you a feeling of belonging?  What happens when the two are different?

For many multicultural people our ancestors brought their country through memories, stories, traditions and large physical numbers of family and community from home.  I have some idea of that migration process even though I learned fragments about it later on in my life through my Guyanese father, who had already spent twenty years in England before we met.

Here I think it's time to introduce two significant family members, my mother Sophia Moore and my grandmother Sophia Hunt.  These strong individuals helped shape my start in life in ways I'm truly thankful for and despite the challenges of these relationships, I eventually developed a strong sense of self.
You discover all sorts of unexpectedness when you analyse an old family photo or two.  It has only just dawned on me that the above photo of me and my grandmother taken in the back garden of 29 Grosvenor Avenue, Highbury, North London, meant I had visited the house long before I started to live there; no wonder I loved living there and felt right at home.  

Although I've no memory of the actual day the photo was taken, I have questions like, was this a special occasion since my grandmother is wearing pearls and a nice little black number?  She's smiling, unlike me!  What's with my sleeves rolled up, like I'm ready for 'business'.  Am I lost in thought?  Would I rather not be involved?
There is joy and happiness evident in this photo of me and my mother and if I hazard a guess, I think I may be smiling into a small compact mirror and delighted to see our reflections, although I have no memory, so could be wrong about that.

I loved to play in the garden, which was vertically divided into two and shared with the neighbours upstairs.  Our side was on the right looking out from our back window, with its orderly colourful array of rose bushes, nasturtiums, pansies, crocuses, iris and lavender.  The left side was neglected and unruly with just long wild grass.

Our next door neighbours had chickens and the daily cock crowing, along with trains passing in the distance, were reassuring sounds.  There was a great view of the Canonbury line from the bottom of the garden.  Sometimes I would wave at the passengers and get a wave back.  The slow moving 3am cargo train would make this strange clanking noise and I would feel the vibrations in my dreamy sleepiness.

Friday, 22 June 2012


"...there are places in which we feel at home, even if we don't live there; and people with whom we feel at home; and ideas that feel like home too.  Ultimately, of course, what we hope to find is a way of feeling truly at home in this world, in our own skin, with who we are, with - spiritually speaking - our essential nature.  If we push this far enough, then 'home' means being at peace in every moment, in any place." - Roselle Angwin

The above image, taken in 2008, is of 29 Grosvenor Avenue, a large Victorian terraced house in Highbury, North London, where I lived with my mother and grandparents in the early sixties, from the age of eight years old.

So, here I am going to focus on what I consider my first home, although I lived in other 'homes' before I arrived at this one. I have felt at home in London ever since I can remember, and will always feel that way as it's where I grew up and went to school, and despite a seven year break when I lived in Northamptonshire, it is where I felt the need to return to as soon as I reached my twenties.

I vividly remember my early school days, particularly walking to Highbury Quadrant Primary School along Highbury New Park, (pictured below) a long tree-lined road, with multi-green leaves merged arching all the way along, offering a wood-like quality to a city street, with its large Victorian houses set right back off the road.  On my visit in 2008, it struck me that all roads should be built like this;

wide so as to offer everyone adequate space.  On the day, the weather was perfect, not too hot.  All I heard apart from the occasional car passing, were the sounds of leaves rustling gracefully as they danced in the light warm breeze.  All I saw was a lollipop lady with her dog.  We smiled at each other, commented on the lovely weather and went about our business.  I sat outside my old primary school - the kids were still inside.

The house I grew up in, 29 Grosvenor Aveue, was divided into two storeys, we lived in the basement with its narrow, dark, damp passage leading to a brighter living room and a small parlour, which just about accommodated a table and chair.  The larger back room had built in sideboard-type furniture, a large wooden dining table, always covered with a tablecloth, which would be white on special family dinner occasions, when my cousins, aunts and uncles would visit.  A couple of armchairs surrounded the fireplace.

My mother and I shared the front basement bedroom (as pictured above), which had wooden shutters that made the room pitch black when closed.  We used to burn Night Lights at bedtime and my grandmother would light an oil lamp.  There were two single beds, a couple of small armchairs, a black and white television, a chest of drawers and a wardrobe.

To be continued...