Sunday, 26 July 2015

I’m a dot com

Well, that’s not strictly true …

 I’m actually a dot uk.

That’s right, folks, I finally have a website. I began one with Weebly way back in 2012, but I didn’t make it public then because I didn’t think it would be of the slightest interest to anyone else.

There’s not a great deal on it now but, looking ahead to the day when I send out my completed (and utterly brilliant) novel, I thought it would seem more professional to add a link to my website rather than a link to my blog.

(There are links to my blogs from the website of course, but I’m hoping I’ll make such a good first impression that a busy editor or agent won’t bother to delve too deeply …)

Anyway, on the subject of good impressions, if you can spare a few minutes to take a look at the site and you notice a spelling mistake or a sentence that doesn't make sense – please let me know! I've checked it about a zillion times but I have a horrible feeling I might have missed something. I promise I won’t be offended and I’ll gladly return the favour if you want me to check your website or blog.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Tricks - and a treat!

I was, of course, very pleased when my short story Tricks of the Trade was accepted for publication as an Alfie Dog Fiction ebook. But the thing that had me jigging with joy was this comment about the story from the person behind Alfie Dog, Rosemary Kind:

'I didn't work out the ending in advance which always tells me it's a good twist.'

For a writer, the trickiest thing about a twist in the tale story is that you know what the twist is going to be right from the start. It’s very difficult – if not impossible – to judge if a reader will guess the ending too soon, or will find the twist too contrived.

With Alfie Dog now offering over 1,700 short stories, I thought Rosemary must know every trick in the book when it comes to twisty tales, so I was very surprised that I’d managed to surprise her!

If you want to try surprising the Alfie Dog editors, and win £200 plus the opportunity to have a story collection published, you’ve got until 30th September to enter their 2015 short story competition. Click here for full details.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Word of the week (25)

The writer frowned at the advert for retro mobile phones. Wasn’t it only yesterday that a mobile was the latest thing? How could they be retro already? Perhaps the advertiser was trying to sell last year’s model; something fashionable young people wouldn’t be seen dead with unless it could be flaunted as being retro.

The writer’s frown deepened. If last year’s mobile was now retro, what did that make her? Vintage? Or just plain old? If she didn’t stop frowning she’d soon be a wrinkly.

Are you young enough to think retro is cool?

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Not looking!

We all know a watched pot never boils, but far more frustrating is the fact that important email never arrives in your inbox if you keep checking for it.

I’m going away next week (a trip ‘up north’ to visit family) so I’ve been busy this week tidying my writing room, getting rid of clutter, putting papers I want to keep into physical files, reorganizing and backing up computer files, and drastically pruning my to-do lists so I can get off to a fresh start when I come back.

I checked my writing records and realized I haven’t heard anything about five submissions I’ve made: three short stories entered into competitions, a children’s picture book story sent to a publisher, and the first three chapters of a children’s novel with another publisher.

I’m hoping that no response from the publishers might be a good sign – I’m happy for them to take as long as they like – but I'm puzzled as to why the competition results haven't been announced yet. The organizers have had plenty of time to come to a decision.

I will have access to the Internet while I’m away but I’ve decided, no, I’m going to be on holiday. I’m going to resist the temptation to check my emails every day. But I’m keeping my fingers crossed that when I get home I might find something interesting amongst all the spam clogging up my inbox!

P.S. Just received a very quick response to a submission I made to Alfie Dog Fiction. I’ll tell you about it when I get back.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Opposites attract

When I first wondered aloud if I could get a story published in a women’s magazine, my husband was completely supportive.

Good idea! Why not? Yes, go for it!

So I did. And when the rejections arrived he was very encouraging.

Never mind, don’t give up. Send it to someone else.

And when I received my first acceptance he seemed as pleased as me.

Well done! I knew you could do it!

But when that first story appeared in print I was puzzled by his non-reaction. He glanced at my name in the magazine when I pointed it out, but he made no attempt to read the story. I was a bit disappointed but assumed he would read it later when he had time to give it his full attention. I left the magazine on the coffee table and waited … and waited …

The same thing happened with my next published story – and the next. He was enthusiastic enough while I was writing and trying to get published, but he clearly wasn’t interested in reading the finished product. I began to suspect that he had secretly read some of my work and didn’t think it was any good. Was he keeping quiet to spare my feelings?

The penny finally dropped one evening when he came home from work and started telling me how he’d solved a problem with some sub-standard concrete. (He was a materials engineer in road construction).

Gosh, that was clever of you! How fascinating! 

I did listen to what he was saying, and tried to nod in the right places, but he might just as well have been speaking double Dutch with a bit of Chinese thrown in.

Then I understood that he had the same problem with my writing. He knew it was important to me, so he tried to take an interest, but he didn’t read fiction of any kind and the world of women’s magazines was completely alien to him. If one of my stories was published that meant it was good, didn’t it? There was nothing else he could say about it.    

When he – very reluctantly – retired, I wondered what he would find to do all day. Would he expect me to retire too, and spend all my time with him? What on earth would we talk about?

I needn’t have worried. Although we’re both at home all day, we still  ‘go to work’ separately. And when we meet up at mealtimes and in the evenings, or agree to take some time off to go for a walk, or to enjoy an outing together, we find plenty to discuss. I tell him about my writing and art, and he explains how he’s helped a friend with a computer problem and spent all morning tinkering with his beloved sports car …

And we both pretend to be really interested, and we both know the other person is just pretending …

But it works. Which is probably why we’ve made it through another year.

Are you and your significant other like peas in a pod, or as different as chalk and cheese?


Thursday, 7 May 2015

Dream on …

I always feel a bit disappointed if I wake up in the morning and can’t remember my dreams. Aren’t dreams the main reason for sleep? A dreamless night feels like a wasted night.

Mind you, most of the dreams I do recall are of the nonsensical variety. I have no idea where they’ve come from, and I certainly don’t want them to come true.

For example, there was the one in which I was standing on a house roof in the pouring rain. Someone shouted at me to come down but I calmly explained I was testing a new umbrella and the roof was the best place because the rain was harder up there than on the ground. Crazy! In my waking life I don’t like heights, so I’d need a much better reason than umbrella testing to get up on the roof!

In another dream, I had to guide an airplane that was trying to land in a small, suburban garden. Left a bit, right a bit, mind the rose bushes … Luckily, I woke up before the plane reached the ground!

But last night, I had the strangest dream of all. I was sitting in a posh office – lots of wood panelling and shelves of leather-bound books – and someone gave me a document to sign. It was a book-publishing contract. I was just about to sign it when the door was flung open and a man rushed in shouting, ‘Noooo!’ He slammed another document down in front of me and told me it was a contract for the film rights to my story. Book or film? Film or book? I had to choose one or the other – but I was still dithering when I woke up.

I wonder what it meant?

Have you had any good/ weird/ inexplicable dreams lately?

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Word of the week (24)

The writer was singing along to the old songs on the car radio:

                    Wild thing
                    You make my heart sing
                    You make everything

‘That’s what the world needs today,’ she said. ‘More grooviness! (I wonder if I’ve still got my embroidered flares?)’

What outdated word or phrase would you like to bring back?