Jo Macklin:

World of Writing

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My Blog

Welcome to my blog! Here I will talk about some of the things that I am working on as well as my general thoughts about writing. I hope you enjoy!

Take a look at my new blog where I get to the bottom of the cultural differences between the US and the UK by looking at our history:

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I've done it!

Posted on August 14, 2015 at 4:25 PM Comments comments (0)

Yesterday was the deadline for festival submissions, and I got mine in ahead of time. I am so happy to leave the first few chapters and carry on with the rest of the book. I do feel that there is only so many times you can go over something, before you start to make it worse not better! So, in the spirit of moving on with the book, I am going on a ‘date night’ tonight. Not a normal date night, and I’m sure that my husband would rather have a regular date night that involves beer! But instead we are off to the late night opening of the Metropolitan museum to have a look at their ancient Egyptian artefacts. As you know, my book is half set in ancient Egypt, so I know that being surrounded by the objects from that time will inspire me to get the historical aspects in the story absolutely perfect. I can describe the bracelets, makeup boxes and thick black wigs until the cows come home, but until I have actually seen them with my own eyes, I would feel as though I am a little bit of a hypocrite! I am obsessed with the period, and have loved learning about it. I really want to make sure that everything is as historically correct as it can be – down to the last hieroglyph. I have to say, when this is finished, I will miss ancient Egypt. Maybe I will have to visit modern day Egypt again – that’s as close as I’m ever going to get to the real thing!

Deadlines are no festival ... or are they?

Posted on July 29, 2015 at 12:05 AM Comments comments (0)

In September, I’m going to the York Festival of Writing. As soon as I secured my place there, I knew that this festival is what I have been working towards. It is the next step that I have been needing – and a useful deadline that actually means something to me. So far, my deadlines have been self-made and vaguely effective, although I have to admit that the most effective ones have offered a reward at the end…money for a shopping trip has proved to work the best! It makes me quite embarrassed to admit that actually, like a child needs a reward to remember their ABC’s correctly. But never the less, if it works, it works. At the moment, it’s a different kind of deadline. As I have finished writing my book and am on my second edit, my task is to get the book to a point in which I am happy enough with it to send it to agents and publishers. I’m a perfectionist so I don’t think I will ever be completely happy with it – but I want to feel as though it’s as ready as it will ever be.

At the festival, I will be meeting with two agents for ten minutes each, to talk about my book. They will have received the first chapter before the meeting. To me – this is the most terrifying thing ever! The only people that have read my book so far are my husband (who I read the first chapter to) and my Mum (who is on chapter 14!). As with any serious writer, my book is my baby and the idea of sending it out into the world is petrifying. And, equally scary, is the idea of sitting in front of someone whose opinion and knowledge of the industry is vital and really means so much. What if they hate it? What if they think that I am the worst writer that ever lived? It’s like someone telling you that you are ugly – there is something that you can do about it (you know, makeup, plastic surgery) but it still hurts like hell hearing it. My mum loves it, and so does my husband, but I have been told by every writing blog, article and interview I have ever seen that the word of your loved ones can’t be relied on because they love you – they might be seeing your book through rosy sunglasses.

I love my story, I think my characters are interesting and fun. I have loved every minute of having it in my life and truly think, after reading countless books in the same genre, that my book is something that would go well in the “Young Adult” section of your local bookstore. I really believe in it – which is very unusual for me because I am rarely this confident with things in my life. I feel as though this is what I am supposed to be doing, writing stories like this one is part of why I am on the earth, and I know that it will work out for me if I put my whole being into it and try hard enough. In September, I will put it through the ultimate test. I just hope that whatever they have to say will be something that I can take away with me and change – so that I can come back to them in the future with a better, stronger and publishable manuscript. So, as you can imagine, the fear of being unprepared is much stronger than the need for a shopping trip, so it actually works just as well for a deadline technique! Right … back to getting this chapter up to scratch … come on Jo!


Of Mice and Blow-Up Beds

Posted on July 2, 2015 at 3:25 PM Comments comments (0)

(If you enjoy the company of mice, then you might want to give this post a miss!)

It is our fifth day of living in Manhattan and I am exhausted. Not because the city is too much for me – although that is still to be determined – but because sleeping on a blow-up bed isn’t really getting the job done.

The delivery of our things, although packed up and loaded nearly a week ago, are not going to be delivered until Tuesday – twelve days after being taken - because of some stupid reason that the shipping company have come up with. Something to do with not having enough weight in the shipment. You would think that this would make it easier for them to deliver? Basically we are being punished for not having many possessions. Go figure!

Anyway, on the first night I hardly slept at all because every time either one of us moved, the plastic bed rubbing against the wooden floor made a rubbery scratchy noise that became impossible to ignore. The next day I bought a rug which I put underneath the bed – which coupled up with one of our towels made a nice anti-friction layer. That worked for a little while in terms of the noise waking us up, but did nothing for the aching that has been developing all over my body. Then, just to make things more challenging, last night we were awoken by yet another issue – a mouse had found a way into our apartment and was munching away on some leftover food in the kitchen. It was making such a noise trying to get into the brown bag that we genuinely shot up out of bed thinking that someone had broken into the apartment. I don’t think either of us was in any way relieved when we found a horrible little mouse that darted under the oven when it saw us coming. Needless to say, neither of us slept much after that – being only a few inches from the floor.

So, when I sat down to edit my book today, my eyes glazed over. I have been procrastinating all day. Luckily, my husband’s company have agreed to pay for a hotel for us from tonight onwards, until we get our things delivered. By which time we will not only have a bed to sleep on but also Mr Mouse will hopefully be out of here. I have put my faith in the rat poison that is scattered behind the oven and the two mouse traps smothered in peanut butter. Although I have no idea what I will do with Mr Mouse once he gets caught in the trap. Well, I guess that’s what husbands are for.


Can I call myself a New Yorker?

Posted on June 30, 2015 at 2:25 PM Comments comments (0)

Oh my word, what a whirlwind of a few months it has been! As you will have noticed, I have had to shy away from my website for a little while because I have been moving around the country – and as much as I love writing to you all in the abyss of my computer, my novel must always come first. So, whatever little time I have had over the past few months, I have spent on that. Editing – packing – flying (on a plane…although the alternate prospects are so much more exciting!) – apartment hunting – sleeping on blow up beds --- this has been my life since I last wrote to you.

If the original plan was carried out, I would currently be somewhere in Tennessee right now, a few days into a road trip from the east coast to the west coast of America. We planned to pack the car to the brim with everything that we could fit in it, have everything else shipped and make our way across the states towards a new life in San Francisco. That was the plan. So around two weeks ago, we took a short trip to California to carry out the dreaded apartment hunt, and whilst we were there our plans got turned upside down. My husband got an offer with the same company to work on a different job, a great job that would be based in New York. If any of you are like me and watch Sex And The City like a religion, then you will understand my complete willingness to be open minded about it – even though we were at the point in the apartment hunting trip in San Francisco where our pen was hovering over the dotted line. After hearing everything, we both agreed that there would be no way that we could pass this job up – not even for California. So, two days later we were apartment hunting yet again, only this time we were on the opposite side of the country. After a stiflingly hot and agonizingly energetic few days, we signed a lease with an apartment in the Upper West Side and travelled back to Delaware for the last time to pack up our things.

Less than a week later, here I am writing to you from my bay window seat in a beautiful brownstone building situated a few blocks from central park, with an iced caramel latte on one side of my laptop and a USA lonely planet guide on the other. I am having one of those strange moments in life where you know that everything around you can’t possibly be real – but yet, here you are and you’re not waking up with drool hanging from your lip like you usually would when your life gets this epic.

So, whoever is out there and has taken the time to read this post, I think my blog is going to get significantly more exciting from now on. If you want to see what being a writer in the city is really like – stay tuned!


The end is just the beginning!

Posted on March 17, 2015 at 9:45 AM Comments comments (0)

A few weeks ago, the exciting moment finally came – I finished writing my novel! I celebrated well, and walked around for a while feeling very pleased with myself. And so I should be, I have written a whole book – plucked from absolutely nothing and made into a 95,000 word story. But, getting the story down is only a small part of getting this book ready to go. I always knew that there would be a lot of work to do after I finished the writing, but after a few weeks of research, I am now astonished at the enormity of what I now know is in store for me in the editing process.

Some of my book is set in a historic time. I wanted to keep some of the aspects of it true to history, but this has created quite a task for me now. There are (annoyingly) a few things that I have found in research that couldn’t have possibly happened, and time frames that I planned in my first research session don’t add up anymore. The main problem has been that the historical period that I have chosen has so many different ‘facts’ by the different historians that specialise in it. So it is hard to tell what the actual agreed upon facts are. But, as complicated as it has all been, I have managed to wiggle my mind through it and come up with a plan for the story that works with the historical elements, but also works with my made up story and characters. The great thing about basing it in a period that was so long ago, is that there are so many gaps in our knowledge of it that I can insert my story and characters into it quite easily. It has been quite fun to take a real person or place that actually existed, but that we don’t know much about, and putting my own spin on what they were really like. Don’t get me wrong, my book is completely and utterly a work of fiction. I am just setting my fictional story amongst a real historical period, and I’m using some real characters and places in there too.

So now that I have made a brilliant plan for editing – it’s time to get down to it! I am so excited to see it all come together into a complete and exciting story.


A Cup of Earl Grey and a Slice of Buttered Toast

Posted on January 19, 2015 at 11:40 AM Comments comments (0)

Well, it’s the New Year again – the time that everyone considers their life and makes plans to change it! I fell into form and made several great resolutions, and after my sterling performance of keeping my resolutions last year (it was the first year ever that I actually kept them up past February!) I have faith that I will be keeping my resolutions just as well this year. However, something a good friend said in her blog recently stuck with me. She blogged about how she wants to take more time to appreciate the here and now. It got me thinking: the New Year is all about looking ahead, planning for change and bettering yourself. Don’t I do that enough every other time of year? Shouldn’t I use the New Year to take time to think about what I have and appreciate the little things? For example, I got up this morning and felt in a writing mood – so I poured myself a lovely cup of Earl Grey tea, buttered some hot toast and went back to my bedroom with my laptop. I opened the blinds and the beautiful winter sun streamed through, lighting up my room with a gorgeous morning glow. I then lay on my bed, pattering away on the computer. I looked up for a minute and realised how wonderful this moment was. Those of you who know me well will know that I am going through a bit of a tough time at the moment - living in the middle of nowhere with no friends, family or anything to keep me entertained other than my writing, and I don’t see my husband much because he is having a rough time at work and puts in very long hours. We are moving soon and I am looking forward to it so much. We also have a few little exciting trips planned before that, so I am constantly thinking forward. But in that moment, I wondered if I would ever have this opportunity again to lie in bed in my pyjamas to write, bask in the sun with a lovely cup of Earl Grey and a perfect slice of toast – no time constraint, no one to pressure me, no worrying. So I decided to take the time to appreciate it and it felt so good to just think about now. Is it a contradiction to say that I want to plan ahead to think about now more often?

40,000 words and counting!

Posted on October 30, 2014 at 5:15 PM Comments comments (0)

As everyone that knows me will attest to, I have been having awful problems with getting this book written. There is always one excuse or anothernone of them are good enough to ease the guilt of being distracted.

So, on my honeymoon with my lovely new husband, we came up with a plan. Something good that has come out of his obsession with psychology books, is that he always has the best suggestions to combat the things that you don’t like about yourself. When I went to him with my little writing problem, he suggested that we use one of the best techniques out there for persuasion. He told me about an experiment that proves that to get someone to do something, it is always more effective if they have a positive or negative endorsement. So, essentially, if I want to get myself to sit down and write, I have to either have a reward for doing it, or a punishment for not doing it. We decided that I would have both. I would make a project plan, which states exactly how many words I need to complete each month. Then, if I achieve the goal, I will get an amount of money deposited into a savings account for me to spend on travel. If I were to fail, however, the same money goes into a separate account for my wonderful husband to spend on a lad’s holiday – something that I see as a terrible punishment for me!

I have to say, as random as the whole plan might seem, so far it is really working! Just simply having a deadline makes such a difference – but then adding a great reward if I succeed or a bad consequence if I fail, makes it almost impossible for me to not work my typing fingers to the bone to get those words down.

So here I am, enjoying the last few days of month number two, having already met my deadline – 40,000 words into my novel and I am feeling good about it. It has been hard, especially when I got sick and had to catch up like a madwoman! But I am quite confident that I will finish it in 3 months – then the manic editing begins! That is the stage where I take the mess that I manage to get down at the moment and make it into something that will hopefully catch the eye of publishers! That is my favourite part!

I'm Back and Wearing the Ring!

Posted on September 22, 2014 at 12:40 AM Comments comments (0)

I know, I know – it has been a while. I have taken some time away from my blogging and website duties, but for good reason. I got myself a husband! The wedding was beautiful and the honeymoon was delightful! Everything must come to an end – but due to the fact that I have come back to what I see as being the beginning of the rest of my life, I am feeling good!

So, with that in mind, I have made some big life changes in the interest of starting my married life with a bang. I have started doing early morning yoga and meditation, have started to read more and watch less TV (a huge habit of mine!), and I have started writing my book full time, with the plan of finishing by March next year.

The first two weeks of full time writing has gone better than I could have ever expected. I have already hit the 20,000 word mark. As I am aiming for around 100,000 words, so I have done a huge amount for two weeks’ worth of work. I am loving the story, really getting caught up in the character and the plot. It is a young adult book, and it has everything in it that I love – everything that I would have loved to read when I was a teenager. I am feeling so great about it and I can’t wait to share it with you all. But for now, I promise to keep you updated on my progress, any issues I face and of course, as always, any other random bits and pieces along the way!


Two Ahead!

Posted on May 16, 2014 at 5:55 PM Comments comments (0)

I am currently in the aftermath of a family visit. My mum came to stay with me and I am feeling the separation blues – the apartment is quiet and I can no longer binge with the “taking a week off the diet and exercise and writing in honour of my mum’s visit” mind frame. Yep, this is when life goes back to normal – and I’ve got to get a move on with my writing to make up for the lost time.

So, I decided to kick myself up the bottom and do some writing today, and I am happy to report that it went very well! I am now two posts ahead on both my recipe book and my movie talk, which means I have four posts that are ready to go next week! I also posted two new ones on each today, so I managed to get through six posts in one day – seven if you include this one – which is pretty good for me.

So next week I am free to concentrate on my novel which is really exciting – although there are a few wedding appointments next week that will no doubt take some of my attention. Only two months to go now until the wedding so it is going to be a hard struggle between now and then to focus on my writing. Wish me luck!


Project Fitting Into Wedding Dress Day 1

Posted on April 7, 2014 at 5:25 PM Comments comments (0)

I know what you are thinking. What on earth does this have to do with writing? Well, actually, it has a lot to do with writing.

One of my big issues with my writing at the moment is procrastination. As anyone that has ever had a project will know, procrastination stems from two polar opposites; it can either come from laziness or from busyness. In my case, living in the middle of nowhere, my procrastination stems from the former.

I am at a very peculiar time in my life where I am kind of in no man’s land. I seem to be doing the complete opposite to what I should be doing. Let me give you a few examples.

  • My wedding is in less than four months and there is so much to still do for it, but I can’t do anything more now until I am back in the UK, which will be two and a half weeks before the day.
  • At the moment, I have the opportunity to write full time because I am not currently allowed to work in the US, but I find myself waiting for something.
  • I feel completely stuck in my apartment but I find it so hard to leave.
  • I am heavier right now than I have ever been in my life and currently cannot fit into my wedding dress, yet I have just done three weeks straight without any worthwhile exercise.

To put it bluntly, I am in a rut.

I have been making active changes to get myself into gear, especially because I am in the beginning stages of four amazing writing projects that I am so excited about. Who knows how long I will have all of this time to work on them. I have pushed myself to start reading more, as you will find out soon with my book reviews! I have chosen books that will help me in my writing, books that are in the same genre and have the same target readers so that I can pick up a few hints and tips. I have also actively tried to go outside a little more – granted it is easier now that outside doesn’t freeze my face off. And, today is the first day of my crazy push to lose weight for the wedding. I am going on a diet and am on a strict exercise regime that means I have to get up earlier (no more lye in’s… boo) and do exercise. I am hoping to lose weight to fit into this damn dress, but I am also hoping that all of these changes will give me more energy and drive, to push me to be less lazy when it comes to getting some words down.

Watch this space!