Saturday, 30 March 2013

Easter Treats

Hope you’re all having a good bank holiday weekend, so far.

I can’t believe the change in the weather from last week, today was positively glorious here, although it was quite cold when you were out of the sun.

I’ve been out the last two nights, with family, and so am looking forward to a quiet night in tonight!

Today we went to Chester’s food and drink festival at the racecourse.  It was absolutely packed but an enjoyable few hours.  It really surprised me how many enterprising people there are out there.  I didn’t realise how many little companies were busy pickling chutneys, making cheese, cupcakes, fudge and all sorts of others foods.  We came away with some great pizza making kits, the most delicious Cheshire cheese and some melt in the mouth biscuits.

I did draw the line at Kangaroo burgers though!

Clocks go forward tonight don’t forget – even though we’ll be losing an hour, I can’t wait for the lighter nights.  Let’s just hope the weather warms up too.

Have a good weekend.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Phantom Nasties

I mentioned in an earlier blog that we had a family outing to see The Phantom of the Opera at the Liverpool Empire.

Phantom is a family thing. I took my husband to see it years ago at Manchester and he fell in love with it. I must admit it was more of a slow burn for me, but when the DVD came out, after several viewings I found that I loved it too as did my boys.

Three years ago, me and my husband went down to London for the weekend to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary (sans children). We had a wonderful weekend, stayed in a fab hotel by the Tower of London, had a champagne ride on the London Eye and revisited some of my old haunts from when I used to live in the city.

But the highlight for me was going to see Phantom there. I
d booked seats four rows back from the front of the stalls. I had wondered whether wed get neck ache like you do when you are too close to the front at the cinema, but it was completely the opposite. We were so close to the drama on stage we actually felt as we were part of it, especially as the massive chandelier spent most of the show hanging right above our heads.

Last year Phantom came back to Manchester and I wanted to take the whole family to see it, but in the end I couldnt get tickets. Well I could have, but the seats cost a fortune for the four of us, and they were so far back, it would like have been sitting outside the theatre.
Then it went on to Liverpool, and although the tickets werent cheap, they were at least in the circle with a half decent view, and the boys were really excited about going, which really made the night for me.

Whilst the production was fantastic, because we had been spoilt the last time we saw it, this time I did feel rather removed from the action. But what really let it down, for me, were the three noisy people sitting right behind us. They chatted and laughed all the way through the first half, so that I could barely hear the speaking parts.

I began to get really annoyed and did a few hard stares behind me which worked for a while, but soon the annoyance returned. I really wanted to say something but kept remembering a time when my friend had spoken out at something similar, and ended up having to leave the theatre herself half way through the show when the people causing the disturbance turned nasty.

Eventually though I couldnt stand it any more and turned round and politely but firmly asked them to be quiet.

It didnt go down too well, and apparently they were making nasty gestures behind me, but at least they shut up.

I raced out to the bar at the interval and wasnt looking forward to going back afterwards. But when we got back to our seats they were gone. And other people around me thanked me for being so outspoken and wished they had done the same.

The second half was much more enjoyable, especially as I was buoyed up by the fact that I had stuck up for what I believed was right.

Not sure I would have had the guts to do it though if I had been on my own.

Theatre tickets arent cheap though, we had been looking forward to it for weeks, and I cant understand why people would pay that price for tickets and then completely disregard, not only the production they were going to see, but also the feelings of others around them.

Perhaps its just me, but I was brought up to have respect and consider other peoples feelings.

Shame other people arent the same.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Times They Won't Be Changing

Or at least not in the near future.

No, I didn’t get the job, but in many ways I’m rather glad.

Yes, the money would have come in very handy, and the routine of going out to work most days of the week would be more within my normal comfort zone, but when the phonecall came, my gut instinct was, Please don’t say I’ve got the job.

At the interview I realised that there was a lot of restructuring going on in the workplace, a few redundancies too, and that there would be quite a lot of ruffled feathers to smooth over.

When I was made redundant I saw it as an opportunity to change my life, and going back to my original workplace would be counter productive in terms of what I want to do with my life.

But the application and interview process wasn’t a waste of time either. It just made me realise that I have been procrastinating for a while.

Now I need to get out there and earn some money but by doing something I want to do.

That’s the hard part, so when I’m not putting my bum on my chair and writing, I need to get my bum off the chair and get some work.

Sounds a bit like a workout out to me, maybe I’ll lose some weight at the same time. Sounds like a win / win situation to me.
PS Calamity George is out of plaster and went off to Conway yestearday.  So far no SOS phonecalls - my fingers are crossed so much I've got cramp!

Friday, 22 March 2013

Old Wives' Tales

At the beginning of March, when we were revelling in a rare show of warm spring sunshine, I remember remarking to my husband that we would be in for a sorry time weather-wise at the end of March.
The old saying “In like a lion, out like a lamb” with reference to March weather also works in reverse, and as the beginning of March was lamb-like, I anticipated bad weather towards the end of the month.  But I was thinking in terms of some harsh March winds, not snow and blizzard conditions.
Snow settled overnight here and although it has been snowing all day, it's rather slushy, and so everything is wet underfoot and on the roads rather than icy and frozen.
Lucky us, because I know it’s so much worse in other parts of the country.
Good luck to you wherever you are.
Football training has been cancelled tonight and as I have nowhere else I have to go, I’ve put the fire on and am planning to settle down either in front of the TV or with a good book. 
Hope you’re in a position to do the same.
Take care and have a good weekend.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Lesson 1 - Put Bum on Chair

Last weekend was a bit full on – several birthdays and of course Mother’s Day, so on Monday morning I was feeling a bit jaded (of course it had nothing to do with the wine consumed!).
So this probably wasn’t the best day to try to get to grips with my latest RNA New Writer’s Scheme submission.

I’ve spent a while deliberating on what I’m going to submit this year as I have a couple of unfinished novels that I would like to whip into shape.
The one I’ve decided to work on I started several years ago (more than I care to remember to be honest) so it does need quite a lot of work, and it’s March already.

Of course, on Monday I couldn’t concentrate, especially when I realised that it needs to be completely re-written. But, I need to make the most of whatever time I have left in which to write (in case I do get that job), so I’ve decided to set myself a target of spending at least one hour each day on it. And if I have more time, to spend another hour on writing and subbing short stories.

So far the re-write is going well – I’m feeling re-energised and determined to stick to my routine – well, it’s working while I’m not physically at work, but I’m hoping that if I do get into a routine now, I might be able to stick to it further down the line.

I keep remembering something I read about Carole Matthews and how she used to tie her legs to the chair in the evenings to get herself to write after a day at work. That certainly makes the point that you have to apply your bum to your chair and just get on with it.

So that’s what I’m going to do. 

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Deja Vue

Just spent the last two hours in A&E after Calamity George fell over at school and onto the newly fixed arm.
Guess what? He's back in plaster.  They don't know if it's broken or not because of the recent injury but decided not to take any chances.
We have an appointment with the consultant next Thursday to see what's what.
I hope they will be able to remove the plaster then as the following Monday he is due to go on an outdoor school trip to Conway for three days.  If he's still in plaster I doubt they will want to take him and then he will be devasted.
He does seem to want to keep me on my toes doesn't he?

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Times, They Could Be Changing

It’s been five months since my redundancy and I can’t believe how quickly the time has flown.  I send the children off to school each morning and before I know it, it’s time to pick them up again.
I don’t seem to have much writing to show for this time away from work, but on the other hand I have been trying to set up a new business and have had nine year’s worth of clutter to try and dispose of (still working on that one!) Let’s just put it this way I found writing magazines which were only than my sons which just goes to show how long I’ve been at this lark.
Some days I feel as though I get a lot done and then others nothing at all, but on the whole it’s been lovely being out of the rat race for a while.
However, it looks as though my little sojourn might be coming to an end. Out of the other week I had a telephone call from the college I used to work at asking me to apply for a management post to cover a maternity leave. It’s four days a week and could be up to a year. In the other day I will be able to continue with my freelance work.  So, if I do get the job I’ll be back to more or less full time work for the foreseeable future.
I must say I have mixed feelings about this.  On the one hand I’m delighted to be head hunted, and obviously am not going to turn down the opportunity to earn some money, but after five months I am a bit daunted about going back into the real world again.
I’m sure I’ll cope, I’ve done it before after all but it does mean that I will have less time for my writing.  
But you know what they say, if you want something doing, ask a busy woman, so I’ll just have to be better organised.
And besides, I might be counting my chickens etc – I’ve got an interview on Tuesday, so wish me luck.  I think.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

newbooks magazine

A while ago I came across a book review website

I signed up to the website and became a reviewer.

They have a list of books you can choose from. You need to select three and you will receive one of them, although you don't always get your first choice.

All you have to do then is read them and add your review to the website. You don't get paid but you do get a free book!

I've enjoyed reading and reviewing the books, but didn't really think that my reviews were being read by anyone.

Then, out of the blue, newbooks editor, Guy Pringle, emailed me to say that my recent review of Julia Gregson's Jasmine Nights was going to be published in issue 74 of the hard copy magazine.

Up until that point I had thought that it was a subscription only magazine but then I found out that you could buy copies at W H Smith.

In addition, Guy asked me if I would like to submit a list of questions to be put to the author in an interview - would I?

I'm pleased to say that both my questions and the review are published in the edition currently on sale, along with my mugshot - yeuck - must get a better photo done!

Of course I bought a copy and was thrilled to see my name in print, and that several of my other reviews had also been highlighted and one published in an earlier magazine.

I was just as pleased though to read the magazine from cover to cover. Its a glossy magazine and is jam-packed with author interviews, publishing news and reviews of loads of books. Basically anything a reader or writer would be interested in. A thoroughly enjoyable read, and one I will be looking out for again. I might even be tempted to subscribe!

Why not have a look next time you are browsing through the magazines in W H Smith?

Happy reading.


Monday, 4 March 2013

Lightbulb Moments

The other day was I browsing through my favourite blogs when I came across Wendy Clarke's guest post on the wonderful Womag Writer's blog.

In the two years since she was made redundant, Wendy has carved out what appears to be successful career in writing short stories for woman's magazines. You can find her blog here.

When I read her blog, my initial instinct was how lucky she was to have had such success. And then I had a lightbulb moment.........

Luck did have something to do with it. Getting the right manuscript in front of the right editor at the right time does have a certain amount of serendipity, but I suspect that Wendy's success has more to do with hard work, an ability to learn from mistakes and work with editors to give them what they want.

And then of course numbers do come into it. When I read that Wendy had 14 short stories accepted last year, it made me wonder just how many stories she had subbed to get that many yeses.

It made me think about my own submission rate. At the moment I'm only managing to sub about one story a month. Albeit that I am working other projects, but even so, it's pitiful, especially when not all of those submissions are new material, but often re-worked stories. I quickly realised that if I'm ever going to have any success in this field, I need to put an awful lot more effort into it.

Doing some late night reading later that same day I had another lightbulb moment. A. germ of a story idea hit me and instead of shelving it in my mind as I am often tempted to do, I wrote it down. And as I did so a title even came to me - and titles are often the hardest for me.

The next morning I decided to develop the idea. I was just intending to write a plotline but as I did, snippets of text came into my head and I started to write them down.

It's not often that a story writes itself in the first draft, but this one was like a gift. Its just under 1000 words, but there is room for development. I've put it to one side for a few days and then I will type it up, edit it and send it out. Who knows, my own luck might be about to change.

But just to be on the safe side, I've also gone through my back catalogue, identifying which stories can be re-worked for other markets. I have a much clearer idea now of where I'm up to and one thing is for certain - March is going to be a lot more productive than the last few months.

So thank you Wendy for giving me a good kick up the bum and for renewing my enthusiasm.