Monday, 23 March 2015

Out of the Mouths .......

Now, what is she doing with a photograph of a potato masher on her blog – has she gone completely insane?  I hear you ask.

Well no, not quite, not yet anyway.

Recently I’ve put together a rota for household chores for my boys.  They want money and I would much rather be writing than cleaning, so each job has a price and each day they tick off the jobs they have done. Sunday is payday.

It’s not always a qualifying success and more often than not I have to nag to make sure the jobs are done.  Last week my youngest wasn’t too happy with the amount of money he received at the end of the week and vowed to try harder.  I’m still waiting.  But I console myself that at least I’m trying to impart some kind of work ethos to the next generation.  Maybe their future partners will thank me one day even if the boys don’t.

I also have to turn a blind eye to things not being done quite how I would like them and spend a lot of time hunting around the kitchen as the contents of the dishwasher have been secreted in unusual places.

But the funniest thing out of all this was my youngest’s response when he went to put the potato masher away.  He came running in to me saying, “Mum! This got bent in the dishwasher!” 

Well you have to laugh.  Perhaps I need to add a few cooking lessons too.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

A Bad Day At The Office

Not only was yesterday indeed a bad day at the office, sorting out the mess other people had made, but when I arrived home the bad news continued.

When I opened the door I was greeted by the ominous sight of an A4 envelope at my feet.

At first I thought it was The People's Friend returning my story, but it wasn't, it was my novel which I only sent out last week.

Sure enough attached to it was a standard rejection letter.  Whilst I'm pleased that they didn't keep me hanging around before giving me a no, I was slightly wounded by the speed at which it had been rejected.  

And then lo and behold, when I opened up my emails it was to receive a rejection for my story too.  And although it was a nice rejection, as always from The Friend, the result was still the same.

A double whammy you might say.

Oh well, these things happen and now I will have to send them both on elsewhere.  At least I've done the groundwork so it will be a simpler task this time round.

Onwards and upwards - I think I need to buy some more stamps before they go up in price at the end of the month.

Thursday, 12 March 2015


This week I finally sent of my first novel, Balancing The Scales to an agent!

Its been a long time in coming.  The original spark came when my boys were small (I did say it was a long time) and after dropping them off at nursery I would arrive at my full time job feeling as though I had already done a day's work.

From there I fleshed out the characters, gave my main character some obstacles, and then threw a few more at her for good measure.

I joined a correspondence course with Writing Magazine and my lovely tutor, Sue Johnson, guided me through the first few chapters and eventually I completed the first draft.  Then I edited, once twice and several times more for good measure.

After receiving a critique from the Romantic Novelist's Association New Writer's scheme, I redrafted again and sent to my writer's group. And yes, you guessed it, edited it again (who said writing was easy).

Now my novel is as good as I think I can get it - for now at least.  So I researched likely agents, wrote my letter, synopsis and CV and finally sent it winging on its way.

So now I'm keeping my fingers crossed. I doubt that my first arrow with hit the target but you never now, and its certainly got more chance out there in the big bad world than languishing on my hard drive.  And in the meantime I've got plenty more projects to be getting on with.

Here's a blurb:

To the outside world Alison Williams has it all: a successful career; handsome husband; two adorable children and a large house in a leafy suburban village just outside Manchester. But Ali is a woman on the edge, trying to hold everything together and failing miserably. When her husband, Rob, chucked in his job and become a student, he also abdicated all his other responsibilities. Now, no matter how much she tries, Ali just can’t get through to him.

If her home life isn’t complicated enough, Ali has the boss from hell who is trying to push her out. When Graham refuses to let her bid on a project which would be good for her career, she goes over his head and sets off a potentially devastating chain of events.

Ali begins to wonder if things can possibly get any worse. And then, one day, they do.  Somehow Ali has to dodge the obstacles that life seems to be throwing her and learn how to balance the scales of her life.  

Fingers crossed!

Saturday, 7 March 2015

In Vain

I read with interest Jane Wenham Jones’ column in February’s edition of Writing Magazine. A reader had sent a question in on vanity publishers.  She had received a contract accepting her book to be published but was being asked to provide between £1,000 - £3,500 to do so.  The reader was in a quandary as to whether she should go ahead.  Jane advised her categorically not to.

As I read the article I found myself nodding in agreement.  In an ideal world everyone would love to be published via a traditional route and to be paid for it, but not everyone is going make it.  Who knows why, maybe the timing’s not right, the subject‘s not right, or maybe you’re just not good enough as a writer.

I can certainly understand the frustration of not being able to published in this way, I’m sure most writers’ ultimate aim is to earn money from something we love to do and put a lot of effort into, but as I read this article my thoughts were that I would never part with this kind of money to see my book in print.  (Although the saying never say never springs to mind). I would though consider going down the self-published route if I thought it appropriate.

However, I had an experience a short while ago, which goes to show how far some publishers will go to extract money from people.  And I do mean “extract”.

Towards the end of last year, my youngest son had a piece of homework to write a 200 word piece of fiction.  Naturally, I gave him a bit of help and advice and by the end of the week he had an acceptable piece of writing.   The children’s efforts were entered into a writing competition and we soon forgot about it.

However, over the Christmas holidays I was delighted to receive a letter to say that my son’s piece had been shortlisted and, with my permission would be published in an anthology.  Well actually I was more than delighted, I was puffed up with pride, for a short while at least. 

As well as the permission slip, the letter also contained an order form for the proud parents to buy a copy – well who wouldn’t? And I was certainly tempted.  Until I saw the price that is. 

I don’t wish to sound stingy but I wasn’t expecting a cost of £16 plus post and packaging for what effectively would be 200 words of my child’s writing.  But then again, I didn’t want him to think that I wasn’t proud of him.  So I showed him the letter and asked him whether he would want me to buy the book. Bless him, his response was, “Nah, I didn’t like it anyway.”  So I was relieved to be let off the hook. The letter stated that each school would receive a copy so at least I’ll get to see it.

I later found out that my son wasn’t the only one who had been shortlisted from his class, in fact everyone had.

To me this is taking vanity publishing to another level, guilting parents into making a purchase.  If the book had been a more realistic price I probably would have been persuaded, but at £18, I’m afraid the publisher’s greed has been their downfall and I hope that other parents feel the same.

What do you think?

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Short Stories

I can’t believe that its March already – this year really does seem to be slipping through my fingers.

Despite that I had a reasonably productive month in February.  I carried on the 500 words per day writing challenge until well into the middle of the month, by which time I had four new short stories written, some of a longer length than I usually write. At this point I stopped writing any more as I decided that I needed to do something with them, so I typed them all up and plan to edit them this month.

I also edited a story I had written a while ago and sent it out to my writers’ group for a critique.  As usual they gave me some very constructive feedback and suggestions of things which didn’t quite work.  Some of them were things which had been niggling me, some which I hadn’t thought of but once they were mentioned, were glaringly obvious.  I mulled over how I could make changes to the story to make it better and today have re-edited and sent it out.  Fingers crossed it gets accepted.

It’s a story about a young teacher who takes a class of primary school pupils on an outwards bounds residential.  Rather fittingly today I waved off my youngest on a four day trip – the house is weirdly quiet without him and I’ve had to close his bedroom door tonight, because I can’t bear seeing it open when he is not there.  Even the toothbrush holder with one toothbrush missing is a poignant reminder that he is missing – but I digress, he’s probably having a ball and not missing me at all.

We are told to write about what we know, and although I’m not a teacher, I have been picking my kids brains to work out likely scenarios – they’ll probably want commission if the story does get accepted.  Let’s hope its good luck, sending it out on the day he went on his trip.

It might be a slow start to the year, but I feel like I'm getting back into the short story swing of things.

And now back to the editing.