Friday, 7 August 2009

Today I am mostly...

...clearing up as I spent most of yesterday away from the pooter doing a spot of decorating in the sitting room. We're having a new fireplace fitted soon and I needed to freshen up the paintwork where the old one's been ripped out. Except once I started touching up I realised just how many shades of magnolia there are and ended up doing the whole room.

We'd had an idea the old gas fire was faulty. The pilot light would spark but wouldn't stay lit - a safety feature I think. The man who came to disconnect it said it was leaking but strangely our carbon monoxide detector hadn't gone off. Maybe not leaking enough? Dunno.

Anyway, we decided we'd replace it with an ultra-modern electric one. It's high gloss black, with coals and 3D Enviraflame technology (I'm copyng from the brochure here). Course, being modern, it didnt suit the old pine surround so we're changing that too, to a Sandstone one, blocky-looking, no mantle. I think we got a bargain but as with all DIY jobs, it's the little 'add-ons' you don't expect that hike up the cost.

First there's the emulsion, new paint rollers and tray.

'We don't need new, there's a stack of 'em in the shed' - Himself.
'But there're spiders in the shed' - Me.

The new hearth has rounded corners whereas the last one was square so it'll leave an unsightly gap in the flooring hence we'll need someone to come out and give us a quote for patching in and I'm guessing our particular wood veneer is now discontinued etc etc.

Himself has always hated the mirror (I it bought second-hand about 15 years ago)which hung above the fireplace so he's suggested now would be a good time to replace it, 'With some art'. Well, we've argued about this 'art' for some time now and I'm no nearer to agreeing that a 4x4 canvas of stampeding horses would look tasteful.

Thing is, I can't come up with an alternative. I've trawled eBay and nothing jumps out at me. I'd like a watercolour, pastel colours, maybe something to remind me of a past holiday. Nothing floral, or abstract and definitely no nudes please! Having said that, on the opposite wall I have a sepia artwork of a Roman lady in a diaphanous frock, boobies on show and her arms flung with abandon above her head! Maybe it's time for that to go too.

Top Tip: Don't decorate with doors and windows flung wide when fields are being harvested close by. A swarm of those tiny bugs descended and unable to swat them away I'm afraid I had no choice but to paint over them. Brings a whole new meaning to textured walls.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Community mags - a possible outlet for the writer.

Every home-owner complains about the amount of junk mail they receive each week. I know we do Chez Houghton. Himself is threatening to buy one of those paper briquette makers (seen in the Lakeland catalogue - itself unwanted mail) to turn it into cheap fuel...except we have an electric fire so maybe not such a good idea after all.

It's only Wednesday and already Postie has delivered: 1 shoe catalogue, 4 offers to update my fascias, 2 offers on Pizzas, 2 charity leaflets and a holiday brochure for luxury cruises. Annoying.

Why did I start this post?...Oh yes, community magazines. Before you confine them to the bin as junk mail, think again. Not only are they useful for 'what's On' ask yourself if they're a possible outlet for your articles/short stories?

I've seen a few community mags come and go in my area. Most carried info on church fetes, school football league tables and a plethora of adverts for double glazing and plumbing services. Not much chance of placing my work, albeit for free.

Then a copy of Worksop Life dropped through my door. Of course it carries adverts and lots of them - it wouldn't be viable without them - but it seemed a bit more 'grown up'. The August issue (A5 and glossy colour by the way) has book reviews, an article on E-Readers, computer advice, puzzles, a fashion page, even a recipe for BBQ bananas and...a short story by me!

All it took was a brief email to the editors to ask if they were interested and hey presto...a couple of weeks later I get a double spread of 800 words plus pic and bio. Before you writers out there hold up your hands in horror at the 'write for free' ethic, this was a story that had come Highly Commended in a recent on-line writing competition but didn't seem to 'fit' anywhere else and I hate to see a story languish on the hard-drive. IMO, better to showcase it for free than not at all. Plus, I enjoyed taking part in something close to home and if it raises my profile locally, then that's all to the good.

In case you were wondering - I submitted A Bit Of A Do to My Weekly and though they liked the humour the editor didn't want the mother dead at the, that was the whole point of the twist so I declined to change it - something I wouldn't normally do.

Worksop Life - Community magazine and business directory is delivered free in Bassetlaw every month. Edited by Leanne Lodge and Julian Broadhead. Email: or Tel: 01472881104

Monday, 3 August 2009

You Have Reached Your Destination...or have you?

Did you hear the story about the Swedish couple who fancied a road trip to the Isle of Capri but set their sat nav co-ordinates wrong and ended up in Carpi, an industrial town in Italy some 400 miles off destination?

Maybe the analogy is stretching it somewhat, but as with that couple, I was so keen to get a recently written short story to its destination asap I made mistakes. I grant you, unlike Capri, Norah McGrath's desk at Take A Break is hardly a place of natural beauty and busy glitz (well, it might be, who knows?) but had I let my manuscript get to her in its present form I'd have regretted it.

Why? Because it wasn't right - it needed 'something'. The resolution came too easily, for one thing, I could see that immediately on re-read. The plot was a good one and hopefully it's as original as it can be considering every idea seems to have been done to death, but just by letting it drop out of my thoughts and coming to it fresh a day later, I could see how I could make it better. Hopefully, that's what I've done and it's now on its way to Norah who still may reject it for any number of reasons but hopefully not because it's poorly written.

I'll let you know in about 3 month's time!

PS. I make no excuses for my blog posts being poorly written but I'm not getting paid for them, so I don't care.

PPS.I've never seen a photo of Norah. Seen pics of most eds but never one of her.