Saturday, 25 July 2009

New Template

Do you like my new template? Hope so as it's taken me the best part of today to get it right...well, almost right. It still needs a little faffing with and tweaks here and there but on the whole I'm quite taken with it.

I think everything I need has been brought over from the old site. If anything's missing I'll find it and add it later.

Still having problems getting the 'followers' pane to appear but I understand it has something to do with an incompatibilty between Google Friends (or was it Google Contacts?) and the old 'followers' format. I'm probably wrong but hey-ho!

Friday, 24 July 2009

Sent to Coventry?

Where have all my followers gone? I thought it was just me who'd been deserted, but I've looked on a few of my favourite blogs and their gadget seems to have disappeared completely, too.

I visited The Real Blogger Status and there're lots of disgruntled bloggers with similar problems. According to Google Support the problem is resolved but obviously it isn't. What's going on? Hackers? A simple glitch?

And now my anti-virus has kicked in so that'll slow things up for the next few hours! Don't you just love computers?

PS to Twenties Girl Post

Okay, 2 rejections dropped into my in-box this morning so I'm feeling about as bright and creative a dimly lit uncreative...thing. In an effort to cheer myself up I've baked a carrot cake and I nipped out to the shop to buy a hardback copy of Sophie's Twenties Girl. I got it half price so don't whine on at me about waiting for the cheaper paperback and anyway, my depression calls for chuckles Sophie-style so there!

And if any of my kids are reading this (I doubt it, I bullied them into being 'followers' but I suspect they haven't paid a visit since) sorry, if you were planning on getting a copy for my birthday. You'll have to think of something another book.

Oh and Mum texted me from Bulgaria this morning. She's in her 70's and though she's had a mobile phone for ages, she only learned to text a couple of days ago. So, this morning I get a text from her that goes like this: HANBAGS!(sic) Guchi, Dolchi, jimmy choo, prada - small or large - choose.
From this I'm assuming she's met some dodgy geezer in a back street selling knock-off/fake stuff. Honestly!

PS - I chose Jimmy Choo.

It's all Swedish to me

I received my contributor's copy of Allas in the post today. Page 22 carries the story I submitted to them on May 28th and they purchased on 6th June. The issue is dated 23rd July, so a fairly quick turnaround in mag terms!

I can't read it to see if they've changed anything, because of course, it's in Swedish. I tried an on-line Swedish to English translator but it wasn't much help handling huge chunks of text. My original title was Love Hurts but according to the translator their title 'Smartsam Karlek' means something like Shrewd Fellow. Bit odd as my male character was anything but shrewd.

I can see they've kept my characters' names but then I did got out of my way to provide them with suitably Scandinavian-sounding ones. No illustration to accompany it this time but it's only 1000 words or as they call it '5 min novellen'.

There's a by-line beside the title with my name as the author but there's also a line that says 'Overs och Bearb: Ulla Hening.' I wonder if that's the translator's name? When I tried it in the translator it told me it was Dutch and not Swedish. No idea what's going on there!

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Twenties Girl

I'm a big fan of Sophie Kinsella so can't wait to get my hands on this new book. Love the trailer!
There're some fun pages here

What the critics say:

Sophie's latest tome is a wise, funny ghost story that will have you gripped from the first page. Perfect summer reading.
- Heat

Wonderfully witty tale...You'll love this quirky read - it's just as girly, exciting and fabulously funny as Sophie's other gems *****
- Heat

Best read with a cold glass of wine at sunset (with tissues).
- The Times

PS - when I get my novel published I'm going to call on everyone I've publicised to do the same for me! So watch out Sophie!

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Never Give Up

Argh and I had such high hopes for Never Give Up, the story I submitted to Woman's Weekly back in May. I know Clare Cooper can take up to 8/12 weeks these days as there's only two staff and one part-time assistant in the office, so I wasn't unduly worried. Sometimes, if a story doesn't come winging back within that time, it can mean it's in with a good chance and stupidly, that's what I thought might be happening. After all, weren't they short of the longer mystery?

Anyway, when a writing friend got a 'yes' this morning for something she subbed quite a while after me, I did what I loathe to do(and editors dislike, too)and chased it up. Clare got back to me within minutes to say it'd been declined (so much nicer than 'rejected') on July 13th. I'd either missed it in my in-box or it got lost in cyber space. I do like the people at WW. Unlike some editors, Clare will always answer a 'chase' even though I know she must be drowning under piles of mss.

So, what to do with it now? It's around 4000 words and has already been declined by Take A Break. I could try My Weekly but I'll have to wait until next month as they're only allowing one sub per month these days and I've already got my July one in. It's def not suitable for The People's Friend...the story has suggestions of s-e-x before marriage, shock, horror!

It's not really competition material so that isn't an option. And it's far too long for a BBC radio script - they want 1900 to 2000 words which runs to around 14 minutes.

Never Give Up is based loosely on a script I wrote during a TV drama writing course tutored by Chrissie Hall who's written for the BBC's Doctors series. That was a couple of years ago now and it still hasn't sold. Is it time to give up on it? Certainly not! Even if it has to undergo some massive editing, it will eventually sell. As the title says, Never Give Up!

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

The Yellow Room

Jo Derrick now has her new website The Yellow Room up and running. Jo, former owner and editor of QWF, publishes stories up to 5,000 words by UK writers, in a twice-yearly magazine. The new site contains guidelines, writers' checklists, tips and competitions.

PS - I wish I hade a fabulous sitting room as sunny and bright as the one displayed on her homepage!


We passed this memorial bench on the way round Linacres the other day. I've seen such dedications before, of course, notably in Bakewell, Derbyshire. There're quite a few benches down by the riverside. I expect most parks have them. But this one, I thought was special since it's hand-made and the words simple, yet moving.

In my novel, The Cuckoo Club, the hero, Alex, decides to honour his late father, William, in such a way by donating a bench complete with brass plaque to William's beloved bowls club. What happens next is one of the major turning points in the plot. Maybe that's why coming across the bench on Sunday had such significance for me. Or maybe I'm reading too much into it. Probably.

Mr Darcy,Vampyre!

An immortal sequel to Pride and Prejudice by Amanda Grange OUT AUGUST 2009, published by Sourcebooks - ISBN 9781402236976 The cover opposite is the UK cover.

Wow - this sounds interesting, doesn't it? Quite a different take on Darcy! I haven't read a good horror in ages.

This is the US cover and the one I prefer. Amanda Grange is also the author of Mr Darcy's Diary, Captain Wentworth's Diary, Mr Knightley's Diary, Edmund Bertram's Diary, Colonel Brandon's Diary and Mr Darcy, Vampyre. Visit her website here

Or click here to enter her competition.

Monday, 20 July 2009


Having a writer's inquisitive mind, I couldn't help but do some digging about on the Web to see if I could find out more on the reservoirs we visited yesterday. The walk inspired a few plot ideas I wanted to scribble up before I forgot them.

There was lots of info on the building/architecture of the reservoirs etc but what I found fascinating was that the middle car park where we left our car, was on the former site of two great buildings, one of which was Linacre Hall and the other, I believe, was Linacre House. The latter was a three-storey mansion belonging to Dr Thomas Linacre (1460-1524), who was founder and first president of the Royal College of Surgeons and...wait for it...physician to both Henry VIII and the young Mary Queen of Scots.

I found a photo and more on him
here from when he was portrayed by Clive Geraghty on the TV series The Tudors. I'd have paid more attention had I known about the association.

Known for his intellectual fastidiousness and minute accuracy, he sounds a good sort, doesn't he? And he managed to escape having his head separated from his shoulders by Henry so he must've had a decent bedside manner too!

He was born in Brampton, Chesterfield, home of the Parish Church of St. Mary & All Saints' twisted church spire. There's evidence to support this in the Doomsday book, yet many websites quote Linacre as being born in Canterbury. From what I can gather, this is wrong. He was educated at Canterbury Cathedral under the direction of William Tilly of Selling (or William Selling of Tilly, depending on which website you fall on though I'm sure it must be the former)so maybe this is where the mix up about his birthplace comes?

From Canterbury, Linacre went on to Oxford in around 1480 to study Greek, and from there he accompanied Tilly to Italy where he took his degree of doctor of medicine. He was later called to court to tutor Arthur, Prince of Wales. Which is how, when Henry succeeded the throne in 1509, Linacre came to be Henry's surgeon. A case of better the devil you know as far as Henry was concerned, I shouldn't wonder.

I'm glad I don't write historical fiction because just researching for fun threw up so many conflicting facts. It took a while to pull out any bits that could be confirmed. It seems that incorrect text and dates get copied between websites which makes it difficult. On that note, please, don't take my ramblings as correct either...though I honestly do believe Linacre was born in Brampton Chesterfield. There's too much evidence to back it up for it to be incorrect.

If there're any historians out there reading this who think I'm way off beam, I'm sure you'll put me right!

Photo of St Mary's taken from Peak District Online website in an article by Tom Bates.

Linacre reservoirs

Spent an enjoyable afternoon on Sunday walking round Linacre reservoirs near Chesterfield, the rain, though it was sunny when we set off. We piled in the car - Me, Jeff, daughter Amy and her boyfriend Tom and my son Adam and set off thinking we'd maybe just walk down the steps to the middle reservoir - there're 3 of them split over 3 tiers covering around 200 acres. However, we got carried away with the healthy outdoorsiness of it all and ended up walking for hours.

This is a pic of the steps going down. They were wet and a bit slippery and not once did I think 'How the heck am I going to get back up them'! Fortunately there's an alternative route back to the car park.
Anyway, the views were worth it.

They were built between 1855 and 1904 and between them hold 240 million gallons of water.

As I said, we did it in drizzly weather with thunder rumbling in the distance, but we had some shelter under the trees. Though when Adam told me there were lots of adders lurking un the undergrowth I was happy to hurry on and get wet!

Tom took the above photo using the camera's panoramic setting.

We completely forgot about the weather when we came across the tree sculptures dotted about. As always happens, the photos don't do them justice. This one was made to look like a little castle with a door ajar at the bottom and a guard on top of it looking over the battlements. Very Wind In The Willows!

In case you're wondering, all these sculptures have been done on dead tree stumps.

I think the owl had to be my favourite. Pity the sculptors haven't put their name to them. Or maybe I missed a signature? The Linacre Woodland Festival is coming up in August so we plan to go back then. Hopefully it'll be sunny!

Thought this one was a bit on the spooky side.

As for this large acorn, I fully expected Scrat the sabre-toothed squirrel from the movie Ice Age to come running out of the undergrowth in pursuit of it.

We also saw robins, finches, tits, squirrels, grebes and coots.

If you want to visit the address is:
Linacre Reservoirs, Woodnook Lane, Cutthorpe, Chesterfield, Derbyshire, S42 7JW
And you can read more on historic Chesterfield here