Friday, 28 August 2009

Clear As Mud

We write the posts, and when we enable post titles, we choose the post titles. When we enable post pages and post titles, the URLs of the posts are a function of the dates, and the titles, of the posts.

I'm sure the paragraph above, lifted from The Real Blogger Status , makes perfect sense to the more technical-minded among us, but to me it's about as clear as mud!

About as clear as the 3,000 word crime story I've been struggling to edit. The plot has posed no problem and neither have the clues or the resolution. But I've got myself in a right (write!) tizz over my characters.

'on set' are:
2 policemen - 1 a Detective Constable and the other a Detective Inspector
1 Medical examiner
1 dead guy
1 dead guy's wife

Then there're others 'off set' that play a big part in the crime but don't need to be present. Well, one of them, Dickie The Diamond, can't because he's doing a long stretch for armed robbery.

The Medical Examiner has a minor role, the dead guy well he just lies there with a knife sticking out of his throat. His wife is there purely to bounce the clues off.
No, it all got complicated when I realised my DI had taken on the lead role when I wanted his DC to be the main man. I'm all for the under-dog coming good, aren't you?

So I did a mass edit, giving my DC all the best lines and turning my DI into a bit of a misogynistic swine - he lacks a drink problem and an aged sports car as I thought that too stereotyped.

By the way, I typed 'sports scar' just then. Was it a typo? Or is my character taking over as I believe him to be doing? Maybe he went to a private school and sustained it playing rugby? Or did he have a cow-bag of a House Mistress who beat him on a regular basis with a copy of DeBretts, hence his hatred of women? See what I mean? He wont stay in the background.

So, this is what I've decided. I'll write the story giving my DC the lead role...I like him, he's blond, kind of scruffy (but def not whiffy!)with a penchant for Smarties and then I'll give my DI a whole new story to himself.

Clear as mud?

PS I just re-read this post and realise what a complete nutter I must seem. hey-ho!

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Slam-dunkin' the Too Many Chasing Too Few Theory

My sales to the womags are definitely down this year. I used to sell 2 a month, now it's about 1 a month. I'm forever being asked how many stories I've sold recently (mainly by Himself who would like me to get a 'proper job'). My staple, and rather defensive, reply has been,

"Oh, well, there are just too many writers chasing too few slots."

But is that true?

Would it be more honest to say, "There're better writers than me out there and that's why my sales are down" or "I haven't written as many."?

I was talking with a writing tutor the other day and she came back with some interesting thoughts on the matter. And I have to say, after giving it some thought, I agree.

The 'Too Many Newbies Writing' theory:

Yes, creative writing classes are everywhere now and available for anyone to join. People are clamoring for places. Are they turning out great mag stories the editors are lapping up in favour of us old hacks? Is this fresh blood full of exciting new plot lines and imaginative twists?

Er no. In her experience (and mine from the little tutoring I've done)some students are there only because they bought into the idea that womag publication is easy. They've read Take A Break - Pah! Should be a doddle to scribble something like that! They've seen that advert on the telly/in the writing mags about the writer who joined a class and now has a turnover rivaling JKR. Great! A quick way to make a few quid.

I can guarantee that these students, who make up most of any class, will drop out after a few months. Of course, a few will trudge on relentless, but they'll never quite make it. Well, good on them for sticking with it.
The rest of the class will be the ambitious, truly creative sort who'll improve and go on to publication.

The 1000 or so submissions made per month to Woman's Weekly will be made up of a mixture of these three groups. My point? The percentage of publishable material being sent to mag editors is only marginally greater than it was a few years back. I'll wait for an editor to contradict me on this!

As for the 'Too few slots' theory:
Let's knock this one on the head, shall we? Okay, some mags have closed their doors to fiction. Bella, Woman, Chat to name 3, but how many did they publish a week? One? Maybe 2? And did you ever sell to them?

The good news is, the remaining mags have actually increased their slots. Take Woman's Weekly, as an example. There's the weekly, the bi-monthly and the seasonal specials.

And think how many foreign markets have opened up. When I started writing for publication back in 2000, I only submitted to the UK market, mainly because I was unaware I could sell overseas. Now there's Australia, Sweden, South Africa, Norway, Denmark, India, Ireland etc.

Only the other day I found a fresh market...or rather the market found me as the editor saw one of my stories in another mag and wanted it for her own - yes, I know that comes across as a bit of trumpet blowing there but I have an ego to sustain ;0) Anyway, I struck while the iron was hot and sent her more. She's rejected 2 as being too short for her current needs but is considering the others.

So my conclusion is, yes, there are better writers than me out there and always will be. But my recent failings have been entirely my own. I'm not selling as many stories because I'm not writing as many. I KNOW it's true. Think on!

There endeth today's lesson x

Monday, 24 August 2009

Sale surprise

Just when I thought August would pass without a sale I get home to a lovely message from a magazine editor who's read one of my stories in another magazine (different country) and wants to buy it. A good fee too and all for no extra work on my part. I'm thrilled to bits!

Pussycat update

Theo's been able to come home for the night (after a day of Xrays) but is going back to the vets tomorrow when he'll undergo a Temporal Mandibular Condylectomy - in layman's terms, removal of a fused piece of bone in his lower jaw. He will stay at the vets for a few days and will be fed by tube to ensure he keeps up his fluids. They are also going to update his boosters as it's best to do this at the time to keep his immune system at its best.

Thanks to all my lovely, lovely friends for offers of support. Whether it be in the form of a donation or prayers, it's all equally appreciated! I can't thank you enough!xxx

Donations to go directly to the vets at:

Wildbore Veterinary Group
5 Newcastle St
S80 2AS
Tel:01909 472059

If you could please include a little note to say it's towards treatment for Theo Houghton, belonging to Amy Houghton.

Many, many thanks again. xxx

Sunday, 23 August 2009


There's been one uplifting event this weekend - the support of some lovely friends regarding my daughter Amy's cat.

Originally a rescue cat, Theo was knocked down by a car about 6 weeks ago and needed his tail amputated and other treatment which cost Amy £500. The family rallied round to help her settle the bill (she's in a decent job but, like most young people, mortgaged to the hilt)and we all thought he was on the mend but it now seems he must've sustained a broken jaw.

Amy noticed he was making a mess when he ate and on investigation, it seems his lower jaw has fused, so you can imagine that's not a good thing. He's due at the vets for an X-ray tomorrow and then they'll decide what's to be done.

Amy simply doesn't have the cash to fund another expensive op - her insurance won't cover it as it's part of his original condition and she's not on any benefits therefore doesn't qualify for charity help - so she's made an appeal on Facebook for help. So far there's been a steady flow of pledges - all money to be sent direct to the vets that way people know its kosher. If you'd like to help please don't send any cash yet until the out-come of tomorrow's meeting with the vet when she'll post again. She's hoping they'll provide some payment plan...I was going to say 'to take the sting out of the tail'.

Apologies if this seems an awful cheek but we want our little man home and well again.

Home Alone

Himself and son No. 2 took off for a weekend's fishing in Norfolk on Friday afternoon leaving me to the luxury of a quiet few days writing...not to mention slobbing around, catching up on daytime TV and staying in bed until 9am! For someone who's up at around 6.30 five days a week, that was a real treat.

Mind you, son no. 3 did wake me this morning to let me know a Man of War had been spotted on the beach. In case I was in any doubt, he stressed he meant the jellyfish-like creatures that can deliver a potentially deadly sting and not a terrorist stalking the sands with an AK 49. Yes, thanks, Adam but that didn't make it any easier to go back to sleep. Bad enough I worry about my kids every time they get in the car/go for a night out/indulge in extreme sports etc., I now have the added worry of jelly fish attacks!

But back to the writing - I'd posted off 2 re-hashed stories to Take A Break on the Friday morning thinking I'd get at least one complete story done by today but all I've managed are 3 weak beginnings that fizzled out when I realised they were becoming predictable. Never mind, I'll put them aside with the other 100 or so 'started' stories and look at them afresh some other time.