Saturday, 27 June 2009

Seen Reading

Taken from the Seen Reading website:

Julie Wilson is the creator and author of the literary voyeurism blog, Seen Reading. She has appeared on CBC Radio’s “Here and Now” to discuss the reading habits of Torontonians.
Here's what she says:

What is Seen Reading?

1.I see you reading.
2.I remember what page you’re on in the book.
3.I head to the bookstore, and make a note of the text.
4.I let my imagination rip.
5.Readers become celebrities.
6.People get giddy and buy more books.

Interesting, huh?

Don't know about you but I also have a quick nosey at what others are reading when I'm out and about. Especially on holiday. Love to see what people have in their beach bags.

Talking of holidays, I went into Tesco's this afternoon for a few last minute holiday essentials - you know the sort of thing: Antidote for snake venom, mini fan combined with a handy torch(?!), sewing kit...all the stuff you very rarely need but take 'in case' - anyway, while passing the paperback shelves I noticed most of the best-sellers had been picked over leaving only a few dog-eared thrillers and a few oldies re-issued with new covers.

But, wait a minute...there was one chick-lit lurking behind an Ian Rankin - Sophie Kinsella's Shopaholic Abroad. Perfect beach read. So I nabbed it. I'll also be taking along Paul O'Grady's autobiography, At My Mother's Knee, and Take A Break's summer puzzle book.

And I just remembered...while in Rhodes year before last, I was stretched out on a sun lounger taking in the rays, when a woman yelled that I should take a look in my beach bag. The way she was panicking I thought maybe a scorpion (do they have them in Rhodes?) had crept inside. But no, it was only one of the island's cats curled up for a snooze.

Hasta La Vista

I'll be catching an early flight tomorrow morning. Meanwhile here's a joke, I'm posting in response to negative remarks about where I've chosen to holiday this year - not that we're going to Rome, we're off to Marsa Alam, Red Sea coast, but you get the idea!

A woman was at her hairdresser's getting her hair styled for a trip to Rome with her husband. She mentioned the trip to the hairdresser, who responded:
“Rome? Why would anyone want to go there? It's crowded and dirty. You're crazy to go to Rome. So,how are you getting there?”
“We're going Thomas Cook,” was the reply. “We got a great rate.”
“Thomas Cook?” exclaimed the hairdresser. “That’s a terrible airline. Their flight attendants are ugly, and they're always late. So, where are you staying in Rome?”
“We'll be at this exclusive little place over on Rome 's Tiber River called Teste.”
“Don't go any further. I know that place. Everybody thinks it’s going to be something special and exclusive, but it's really a dump.”
“We're going to go to see the Vatican and maybe get to see the Pope.”
“That's rich,” laughed the hairdresser. “You and a million other people. He'll look the size of an ant. Boy, good luck on this lousy trip of yours. You're going to need it."
A month later, the woman again came in for a hairdo. The hairdresser asked her about her trip to Rome .
“It was wonderful,” said the woman. “Not only were we on time in one of Thomas Cook’s brand new planes, but it was overbooked, and they bumped us up to first class. The food and wine were wonderful, and I had a handsome 28-year-old steward who waited on me hand and foot. And the hotel was great! They'd just finished a £5 million re-modelling job, and now it's a jewel, the finest hotel in the city. They, too, were overbooked, so they apologized and gave us their owner's suite at no extra charge!"
“That's all well and good," muttered the hairdresser. "But I bet you didn't get to see the Pope.”
“Actually, we were quite lucky, because as we toured the Vatican , a Swiss Guard tapped me on the shoulder, and explained that the Pope likes to meet some of the visitors, and if I'd be so kind as to step into his private room and wait, the Pope would personally greet me. Sure enough, five minutes later, the Pope walked through the door and shook my hand! I knelt down and he spoke a few words to me."
“Oh, really! What'd he say?”
He said: “ Oh, goodness me, my dear, whoever messed up your hair?"

Don't get hung up about it

Any excuse not to write!

Ever suffered writer's block? I know I have. I've got it now.
There're a number of websites giving advice on how to get over it. Some writers don't believe it exists...lucky them, is all I can say. I even spouted about how to get over it on my own blog back in 2006. A lot has happened since then and these days when it strikes I simply close the laptop lid, go shopping, walk the dog, bake a cake, get out the ironing board - actually scratch that last one, I suffer ironer's block on a grand scale!

I used to get hung up about this 'orrid brain fog that strikes out the blue because, after all, selling short stories is my main source of income. If I don't write, I can't submit and hence make a sale. Experience shows I need to have at least 30 - 40 pieces of work out there at any one time to keep the turnover of acceptances at a decent level. I just checked and I have around 25 submissions with editors at the moment. That's way down on what it should be. So what to do about it? Well, here's what I won't do...

Firstly, I won't beat myself up about it like I used to do. So what if I haven't written anything new in ages? It doesn't mean I'm lazy and telling myself I'm useless or have lost my Mojo wont help either. I'm my own boss and as such I can award myself a little break can't I?

I won't try setting myself goals. Write anything that comes to mind, was my advice, Free writing it's called. 500 words a day - doesn't matter if it's rubbish. Well, it does matter and if I'm honest, it always did. See, what if I can't make the 500 words? I'll resent it even more. Which brings me on to the main thing I won't do...

I WON'T QUIT! I'll give in to all those distractions knowing that the next thing I do write will be worth waiting for. It will sell first time out. Oh yes, it will!

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Martin Lewis on punctuation

I've long been a fan of Martin Lewis, the money saving expert off the telly. I follow his blog, subscribe to his newsletters and watch him whenever he appears on GMTV. I've taken his advice on a couple of occasions the last time being over getting insurance for my new mobile phone...I did mention my new Nokia 5800 whizz-bang didn't I?

Anyway, found this post on his blog regarding that naughty little apostrophe and I have to say I agree with him on its use in this instance ie when a word ends in an 's'. What are your views?

Just a minute my hard drive is making funny noises - I'm installing Nokia Music for my new Nokia 5800 - I did mention my new phone didn't I? ;0)

Tuesday, 23 June 2009


I sent my allowed monthly story off to My Weekly today. The editors have put a 'one a month' restriction on submissions until they make some headway through their slushpile. The one I chose to send is a 1600 word twist with a touch of romance. Trouble is, by the time they get to reading it, they'll have changed their requirements!

I've also took a risk and sent a spooky one off to a market that I don't think runs this type. It does have a romantic undertone so maybe they'll make an exception.

Ireland's Own's editor, Sean Nolan, hasn't bought anything from me recently despite having said he'd short-listed a bunch...then nothing. I know he's inundated with submissions so maybe something better came up he preferred to publish. Anyway, today I've sent him a story I think he might like, but I won't hold my breath!

Confession time

It's perhaps a bit of an embarrassing statement for a writer but the truth is, I haven't been in a public library in over 10 years. I think my last visit would've been with my youngest two (twins) to borrow a book for a school project. I was always in and out the revolving doors when the kids were at school, by the way.

Other than that I've not felt the need to get in the car, drive the 2 miles only to find they haven't got the info I need. I say 'info' referring to research for work in progress. Why? Because it's much easier for me to go on-line.

Okay, I know some of you will say that not everyone has access to the Internet or the luxury of Broadband. Not everyone can afford to buy paperbacks - though with such heavily discounted prices in the supermarkets I doubt the validity of that argument! And, yes, I know that libraries have come on a lot since my last visit. And yes, I know libraries do not only serve as storehouses for hundreds of books, they also contribute to the community.

I've local library offers computer classes with free Internet access and hosts weekly book-club meetings, they have a monthly Weight Watcher's group and after-school programmes and much more. As I write this, a new library and community centre is being built on land beside the old building in Worksop, where I live. And, oh, my days, I just read this:

The existing library was built in the late 1930s and the accommodation it provides does not allow for the delivery of a modern library service.

At present there are 211,000 books issued each year and this is predicted to rise to over 265,000. Similarly the number of visitors at present is 143,000 a year and this is predicted to rise by a maximum of 30 percent to over 186,000.

The new library needs to be nearly twice the existing floor area to accommodate the projected increase.

Hmm...maybe it's time I re-joined. I might be missing out!

Monday, 22 June 2009

Publication Day...

...must be close for a story I sold recently, because the fee dropped into my bank account this morning. This mag pays on acceptance but also publishes shortly afterwards. Hope they'll send me a copy.

Story Titles

Do you fret over your magazine story titles? It isn't often I get stuck for one, though members of my writing group might disagree the number of times I've called on them for their help! Sometimes a title drops into my lap before I've even written the story. Other times I don't know what it'll be until I write the final sentence. Browse through any women's mag and you might be struck by how cliched they can be. Rocket science it ain't!
Here are a few of my blander ones, all kept by the eds:

Food For Thought - sold to Best
Filthy Rich - sold to Take A Break
Wish Me Luck - sold to Fast Fiction (Aus) & Ireland's Own
Driving Me Crazy - sold to My Weekly & That's Life

Hardly original, huh? But then I've had the more intriguing ones:

An Angel In The Freezer - sold to My Weekly, Ireland's Own and Fast Fiction(Aus)
Can I Smell Ectoplasm? - sold to Fast Fiction(Aus) & Take A Break
Life Without An Undo Button - sold to Woman's Weekly.

So should we spend hours over our titles? My advice (others may disagee) is choose wisely to give it the best possible chance of standing out from the slushpile, but don't beat yourself up about it because eds often change them anyway. And remember, an intriguing title probably raises expectations as to the content. Don't make the mistake of thinking you can wow an ed with a flashy title then follow it up with a bland story.

If you're having touble deciding on a title you might try this random title generator Some will appear plain bonkers, but it is only throwing up random words, after all. Try it, ocassionally it comes up with a corker.

Want something more? Try this plot generator, designed by Cally Taylor.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

New Phone

I've been using the kids' cast off phones for the past 5 years or so and was desperate to get something new. I love the iPhone but the monthly contract fee is well out of my pocket-money range. However, came across this today and snapped it up at only £15 per month. For a limited period, it also comes with the 2nd series of Gavin & Stacey installed. Great!


I'm not a political beast by any means but between our own political unrest and that going on in Tehran as the presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi released details of a letter sent to the Guardian Council insisting that the results of the election be annulled...I get this sent to me:

When you re-arrange the words ELECTION RESULTS they spell.....LIES - LET'S RECOUNT.

JBWB Summer Comps

Only ten days left to enter the JBWB Summer 2009 Competitions
New this time is the 'chuckle bonus' for poetry entries…

We all need a lift in these depressing times, and this quarter, JBWB will add a £20 bonus to your prize, whether you come first, second or third, if your poem also provides us with the broadest smile, longest chuckle or deepest belly laugh. So consider this when you write, and see if you can add some humour to brighten up our days.

First Prize: £150 - Second Prize: £50 - Third Prize: £25


The rules are simple and straightforward (no entry form required):

1) All work must be unpublished and should not have been previously submitted to JBWB for critique.

2) Length: 2,500 words maximum (submissions exceeding this length will be disqualified).

3) Closing Date: 30 June 2009.

4) Entry Fee: £4 per entry. Cheques to be made payable to J C Hewitt, please. Or click here to pay by credit card. And remember, if you would like professional constructive feedback on your entry at any time after the competition, fees and further details are listed HERE.

5) Entries should be sent as an email attachment (or in the body of the email itself) to: Please confirm in your email that the entry fee is on its way or that you have paid by credit card. Alternatively, send hard copy of your story, plus entry fee, to: 87 Home Orchard, Yate, South Gloucestershire BS37 5XH England. Please note that feedback is not available on hard copy entries, only on entries emailed as a Microsoft Word attachment.

6) The winners and runners-up will be announced by the end of July 2009 and will receive the appropriate prize money. The winning entries will be published on the JBWB website. Further runners-up prizes may be awarded at my discretion. Good luck!