Thursday, 22 December 2011

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!



'Well,' I hear you say, 'where the devil have you been?’ Actually I’m not sure anyone is saying anything, as you’ve probably all lost faith in me as a blogger by now.

But 2012 will be different. I promise. It's on my list of New Year's Resolutions to blog more regularly - and I never break a resolution - well only sometimes.

In the mean time have a great Christmas and a very happy 2012!

X

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Non-smoker: Looking to share a novel with suitable voice and genre.


When I studied Creative Writing a few years back, my tutor emphatically told the class that to write you need to find your own voice and decide on a genre. Well I’ve found my voice twenty-seven times. Yes, I have multiple writing-personality disorder. And I’ve had more genres than hot dinners. (My tutor also said avoid clich├ęs – so pretend I didn’t say that)

The thing is, I’ve written ghost stories, murder mysteries, comedy (well attempts at), love stories, chick-lit, tear-jerkers, factual articles, a children’s novel – oh, and now I’ve completed a thriller novel - but I still can’t find my voice or my genre.

Plus, I’m continually drawn to writing in first person. I pop myself right there in the protagonist’s head, and, well, talk like them. A thousand voices – but which one’s mine? Ooh, I feel like Rory Bremner.

So this whole 'voice' thing is a bit complex then, isn’t it? If you write in first person, then you are that person, that character – they can’t all be you, can they?

I suppose, then, I’m still experimenting. And if, by some sort of miracle one of my VERY different novels are ever snapped up – I would develop that voice and run with it.

In the mean time, I'll continue to have fun experimenting with different styles and voices. In fact, I’ve got a comedy, tear-jerker with lashings of ghosts, a dollop of murder mystery and a smidgen of love interest - written through twenty different first person viewpoints, on the go right this minute. You think I'm joking. :-)

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

21 TODAY


No, not me! I’m a wee bit older than that. I’m talking about Womag Short Story SALES! Yes, yippee yo-yos I sold my 21st story TODAY. Actually, that’s not quite true – it was a couple of weeks ago to be exact, but it's taken me this long to get my posterior into gear and get around to blogging about it.

But I’ve got a huge excuse. My eldest son got married at the end of August. How exciting is that? I’ve yet to come down from it all. My daughter-in-law is wonderfully creative, and the wedding had an Alice in Wonderland theme. It was fantastic. Below are just a tiny sample of the designs she created.





So what else? Well, I’m going to enter a few competitions. I’ve never really tried the world of competitions but a few have tickled my fancy.

The Mslexia Novel Competition – details can be found HERE.

The Mail on Sunday – Start-of-novel competition. Details can be found HERE on Womag’s blog. Thank you Womag!

The Best Short Story Competition. Thanks to Suz for her help voucher gathering!

SUCH FUN!

Ooh, and do help yourself to cake!

X

Thursday, 4 August 2011

I believe in FAIRIES

Okay, I admit it! I believe in FAIRIES - well doesn't everyone?

Those who have been following my blog for some time, thank you, and you may remember here how I promised myself a fairy ornament each time I was lucky enough to sell a story.

Well I didn’t keep it up...and I won’t deny it, just lately short story sales have become a bit of a rarity - a sign of the shrinking market, I keep telling myself. But what if it's down to something more magical? Like the lack of fairy wishes.

So, with this in mind - no I'm not completely barking - well perhaps a bit - I went on a fairy hunt and came across the above very lovely ‘Good Luck Fairy’. And I bought her not only because my lounge is lilac, and she's rather pretty, but because I knew she would bring me some much needed good luck.

Within a day, I had my first spark of luck. My short story jointly won first place in my lovely on-line writing group, Womag2Weekly.

NEXT – I PASSED my English Literature exam for OU A210 – oh yes indeed. Final year, here I come!

And FINALLY (and I’m assuming finally, as luck normally only comes in threes, well so they say - the fairies that is -okay so I am mad.) The Best of British Magazine have said they are going to publish my article on my father’s childhood in London during World War 2. He’s going to be so THRILLED!

Right, best go .... I need to buy another FAIRY!


Monday, 11 July 2011

Exams, Sales and Wanderings

I've been on my travels, oh yes indeed. Visiting America and Canada - searching out magazines. Well not only searching out magazines because that would have made my hubby a wee bit cross – but I did pick up two copies of Woman’s World and I'm very tempted to send them a story at some point. Although they don't take email submissions which is a bit of a shame. They have Woman's World in Canada too, and I also saw our very own home-grown People’s Friend there, which made me rather proud.

On my return I received a lovely email from Liz Smith at My Weekly wanting to buy one of my stories – the sixth they've bought of mine - YAY! So my supermarket trips over the next little while will be rather exciting as I scan the mags for my stories - I'm waiting for two to appear in Take a Break Fiction Feast too. It certainly make up for those rejections.

Oh, and I’ve finally finished my A210 course with the Open University. The three hour exam took a lot of revising for - but I can honestly say, with pride, I gave it my best shot! However, it was so hard– and if I’ve passed it will be some kind of miracle. I won’t know until the middle of August, but I'll let you know - one way or the other - and then it’s on to my FINAL year – EA300 Children’s Literature. Not going to be easy, but I will get there - well if sheer determination has anything to do with it. :-))

My latest novel is chugging along nicely. I'm halfway through, and hoping to get it finished and out there to agents before the end of the year. So watch this space!

Bye for now.




Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Woman's Weekly


It’s like *Rejection City* around these parts. Three stories that had been with Woman’s Weekly for over three months all winged their way back over the last few days. That’s a grand total of 17 rejections.

My road to Woman’s Weekly has been bumpy. It was around my eighth submission I got my hopes up. On the 17th March 2010 at 11.23 a.m precisely, after four months with Woman’s Weekly, one of my stories came back with a lovely letter saying they liked my writing and would like to see more of it. Although they added that –sorry, it’s a ‘NO’ this time, I still danced a little. Well wiggled my head in excitement. I thought I’d finally got somewhere. But since then it’s been rejection after rejection.

I was even more frustrated this time, as the stories came back in a different order than how I sent them out. Talk about give a girl false hope.

I refuse to give up, though. They don’t get rid of me that easily! Perseverance and determination is the key. I just wish I could find the blinking door.

In other news:


Novel: I’m galloping along with my new novel and loving it; hovering presently at 25,000 words. I’m convinced I learnt a lot from writing FMIAB and I’m hopefully not making the same mistakes with my new novel, although time will tell. The biggest difference is I have my plot summarized chapter by chapter, whereas I let FMIAB lead me. It’s making a huge difference.

A210 Open University: My Approaching Literature course is drawing to an end. I've completed my assignments and have a 3 hour exam to do. I should be revising right this minute, but seem to be continually finding things to do to avert it – hence the blog post! Next year is my final year – and then I’ll be in proud possession of an English Literature Degree – well that’s if I pass the scary exam!

Bye for now x

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

I've Cracked Take a Break!


I haven’t been about much, have I? I'm so sorry! But it’s mainly because I haven’t had much to say for myself! But guess what? I finally have! Oh yes, indeed! After seventeen rejections – yes, seventeen, I’ve sold two stories (both in the same email!) to Take A Break! I feel like I’ve won the lottery, frankly - As it was one of my goals, you see - To crack this seemingly unbreakable magazine! So today I've got to whiz my agreement with Bauer Publishing over – ooh, get me - and send through my stories as attachments. (Thank goodness I saved a copy of each, named 'copy I sent to TAB' or I'd be in a right ol' pickle.)

In other news, I’ve had two stories in That’s Life! Australia – with fantastic illustrations. And if you’re reading lovely Australian Womag Writer – thanks again for sending both stories to me!

I’ve also had a story in My Weekly since we last spoke – with the most beautiful illustration of a mother and baby I ever did see.

Plus, I’ve reached dizzy heights with stories ‘out there’. Thirty, in fact – so I’m a one-woman- story-producing-machine, just lately!

There’s always a bit of bad news when you write, it goes with the territory. And mine is that Lovely Agent turned down my novel for the third time, with more helpful hints on what I’m doing wrong. I think I’ve now edited it to death. It’s a poor shadow of its formal self, and clearly needs bed rest. So I've started a BRAND NEW novel. It’s grittier and not at all chick-lit, and I’m really enjoying it to be honest – and almost 20,000 words in.


Oh, and I must say, I was thrilled to receive this gorgeous award. So a HUGE thank you to Maria and Suzy.





And to end on a HIGH I met up with some of the members of my Womag2Weekly group a couple of weeks ago, in Peterborough. It was so LOVELY putting faces to names of fellow short story writers, and gossiping about the various magazines. I’m sure a few editors’ ears were burning – we only said lovely things – honest!

Added 7.4.11: I must admit I'm constantly overwhelmed by how lovely fellow womag writers are. And I've suddenly realised I never mentioned how thrilled I was when Bernadette sent me her TL! Summer fiction special, with my story in it (hangs head in shame)- so thanks again Bernadette - much appreciated!


Saturday, 12 February 2011

The Short Story Rejection System


My fourth rejection from People’s Friend landed on my doormat today. I posted it Wednesday, and it was back with me this morning (Saturday) with a brief letter telling me the storyline was too weak.

This got me thinking about my experiences with short story rejections - and there's been a fair few, I can tell you!

I considered how rejection letters and emails are worded, and the length of time the magazines took to respond. Crumbs, it sounds like a science experiment. Well here are the results...

People’s Friend
People’s Friend, as I’ve said above, are pretty quick off the mark with their rejections – often by return. I’ve never sold to them so have no experience of an acceptance – but I know they can take several months before an acceptance is finally received.

They tend to send a standard reply with their quick rejections, often saying the story is too weak for their readers.

Out of all the magazines, they are probably the only one to let people know about a rejection at such a fast speed – which is great in lots of ways. The only thing I find with such a quick rejection is it doesn't give us time to forget the hours and hours we've spent on the story, so can sting when it plops back through our letterbox.


Woman’s Weekly
Again, I’ve never had any success with Woman’s Weekly. I’ve had an *almost* letter after four months, which I treasure and cling to. But boy can I report on rejections. Always standard, in my experience, and can take as long as 7 months to come through. My average rejection time is around 90 days. (Once you've cracked Woman's Weekly, acceptances and rejections are dealt with by email, I believe)

That’s Life! Australia
I’ve never had a rejection from That’s Life Australia – which isn’t as GREAT as it sounds. It’s because they don’t send any. It’s simply a case of waiting six months, and then assuming they don’t want your story. I actually like this – which may make me a little odd – but I don’t feel quite so rejected if nobody’s actually said I am.

The Weekly News
Now Jill Finley sends emails – lovely rejection emails that almost make you feel like you’ve been accepted. I’ve actually received rejections from Jill after four weeks and four months.

My Weekly
Just like Jill Finley, Liz Smith at My Weekly words her rejection emails in such a way, you feel quite uplifted after reading them. She does take a fair while to respond, but she is on her own, and gives all her writers heaps of attention once she gets to them. Sadly, she still only buys from those who have already sold, and only one a month.

Take A Break, Fiction Feast
I’ve only ever received standard rejections letters on especially lovely paper from TAB. The rejections have ranged from 15 – 85 days. I’d like to think the one that took 85 days to wing its way back was getting close. But you can’t really tell, as all replies are the same. I have sent a fair few stories to TAB that have gone on to sell elsewhere, which implies, for me, TAB are a really hard nut to crack.

Yours
Yours respond by email, which is always nicely worded. I’ve only ever submitted two stories to them. One was rejected after 3 months the other 6 weeks.

****

Yikes! All this talk of rejection is making me miserable. Let's end on a positive, shall we? I have a story in this week’s The Weekly News. It’s my first sale to them – so I’m especially chuffed.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

A SHORT STORY CHALLENGE


This is something all short story writers can play at home. All you need, in true Blue Peter style, is an empty washing-up bottle, a wire coat hanger and - this is the important bit - a LONG list of rejected stories. If you haven’t got any you’re lucky. And I was going to say you can borrow one of mine as I’ve got hundreds of the little demons – well 38 to be exact. But it could get complicated, turn nasty, even. ‘I wrote that bit’ *punch* ‘No you didn’t, I wrote that bit’ *punch*.

And you don’t actually need the washing-up bottle or wire coat hanger either, unless you want to make a...a...well you decide.

I digress. Back to the challenge, then...

It’s so easy to think once a story has been rejected by one magazine it’s a no-go. You can feel totally deflated and, yes, upset. I admit, I cried when my early rejections came through. But I don’t anymore – because, to paraphrase somebody who says clever stuff, it’s all part of the rich pattern of writing. But, and it’s a big BUT, it isn’t always the end for our rejected tales. Sometimes it only needs a few tweaks, sometimes nothing at all, for it to get snapped up by another magazine or even a competition.

So here it is...

THE CHALLENGE

1. Type a table of your rejected stories. This shouldn’t include stories you haven’t attempted to send out there.

2. Add columns headers with various outlets e.g. Take A Break, Competition. The Weekly News...you catch my drift. This should be different to the excel spreadsheet, or paper records you normally keep – you do keep a record, right? This is different, it’s your ‘CHALLENGE TABLE’

3. Now take your stories – (one at a time, or your head will whirr) and read them through carefully. You may decide the twist (if there is a twist) is too obvious – well worn (ooh, get me) – and it would be better to go with a more obscure idea. E.g. It isn’t his mother after all, it’s Mrs Jones from number six with the six poodles (I’m being silly). Or perhaps you’ve got far too many unnecessary words, or too many characters. Or the setting is all wrong. Or you need to give more explanation, or less explanation. Going back to a story after some time often highlights things that you didn’t spot first time round.

4. And now, GET THOSE STORIES OUT THERE!

Right... I hereby announce MY challenge is to SELL at least one of my 38 rejected stories before the end of the year. I’ll keep you posted – or I may never blog again because I look darn silly.

Friday, 14 January 2011

A Writerly Roller Coaster


For me, writing’s a bit of a roller-coaster ride – much like life really.

On the up, just after saying I'd sold 11 short stories in 2010 – That’s Life! bought one, making 12 sales for 2010 - who'd have thought it? (And on the subject of Australia, I would like to add here that my thoughts are with my lovely relatives in Brisbane and everyone affected by the floods – keep safe all!)

On the down, on Monday I received three short story rejections in one day, making it a total of five rejections for 2011 already. I hope I’m not setting a trend.

On the up, a lovely agent who showed an interest in my novel last year has agreed to look at my chapters again.

On the down – I can’t get to see stories I’ve sold to That’s Life! Australia. So, just in case there’s anyone out there with a scanner and back copies, I’m sending out a HUGE plea on behalf of myself and lovely fellow womag writer, Susan Wright. We both have stories in the Summer edition of That’s Life! Fiction Feast (out November 29th 2010), I have a story in the weekly magazine issue 41, 2010. Susan’s in issue 9, 2011, and I’m in issue 8 and issue 13, 2011, plus Susan’s in their Autumn edition (out February 2011). If anyone out there has any of these copies and would be prepared to scan our stories for us we would be eternally grateful. Alternatively, we would both be prepared to do a magazine swap or something similar. (My email is on my profile if you can help us at all) I don’t know about you, but seeing our stories in print is definitely the best bit.

Ooh, and I’d best end on the up,. I know it’s not writing, as such, but I’ve just sent off my third assignment for this year’s Open University course. I’m studying Approaching Literature and finding it, shall we say, challenging. But I keep telling myself I’m half way through my fifth year and almost there.

Okay, I'm off to compare William Wordsworth’s The Prelude with William Blake’s 'The Schoolboy'. Gawd, cup of tea first though, methinks.

Keep well all!