Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Pig Baby Weekend

If any of you live down in East Sussex, here's something for you:
Pig Baby Weekend - is a fantastic weekend of poetry, short stories and literary fun in the Sussex countryside at Beechwood Hall, Cooksbridge, Near Lewes, East Sussex, BN7 3QG.

Good Vibrations

Spring has sprung, summer's just around the corner so in anticipation I spent yesterday evening changing my wardrobe around. By that I mean storing away the coats, scarves and boots etc that kept me cosy throughout one of the coldest winters I can remember and replacing them with cool linen trousers and summery tops that I'd stuffed un-ironed in a drawer after last year's holiday.

Happily I've dropped a dress size or two since last September but as we don't have a holiday planned for this year (new central heating boiler ate our spends) I'm not going to buy too many new clothes. I should be able to pull in the waistband drawstrings and add a belt to any baggy tops. If I look like a badly stuffed cushion, so be it!

There is one thing I am spending money on, however. After lots of research, I've bought a power plate exerciser from the shopping channel. The hope is I can tone up the dinner lady arms and get the rest of this old bod in shape, because losing the weight's one thing, tightening the flab to fit neatly back on the bones is another!

Surprisingly, Himself didn't remind me that the cross-trainer, air-walker and sit-up ball I owned all ended up on eBay or that there's still a training-bench in the cupboard under the stairs and several dumb bells clattering about under the spare bed.

Anyway, my Vibrapower Max Trainer with *6 free bottles of Bio Energy Fitness Water arrived this morning. I was at home but didn't hear the courier knock. Luckily I saw him pulling away in his van and eager not to miss my delivery slot, ran to flag him down. He'd left it somewhere safe, he shouted. In the wheelie bin! Luckily the blue one (paper only) and not the green bin (household waste) or I would've been scraping last night's curry off it.

So, after lots of puffing to get the thing inside, more puffing and cussing putting it together, I got my first go at power plate exercise. Seriously, I can't begin to describe what it's like to stand/squat/perch/lean and lunge on a rubber mat that's being vibrated/oscillated at over 35-50 times per second. Thank heavens each routine is only for 3 sets of 3 mins per session, every other day. And hey, it doesn't involve breathlessness or sweating...amazing!

It promises a host of benefits, ranging from an immediate improvement in blood circulation, to a variety of other measurable outcomes such as increased muscle strength and flexibility, improved range of motion, decreased cellulite (woop, woop), increased bone mineral density and reduced arthritic pain. I think they omitted to mention it can loosen teeth, too!

I'm not expecting miracles and nor am I fooled into thinking *Bio Energy Fitness Drink is anything but sweetened water, but I'm giving it a go. Who knows, It might rattle my brain cells enough to let a few story ideas fall out.

Monday, 26 April 2010


Pop over to Sue Moorcroft's blog for some wise words on epilogues.

The last few books I've read (currently half-way through and loving Number Ten by Sue Townsend) there's been a prologue and an epilogue. My own novel has both, though they're quite short.

I wish I could recall which agent it was who said he liked neither and most agents he knew felt the same. Bit of a sweeping statement and probably just a passing trend as with all things literary. Anyway, whatever the current trend, I'm sticking with mine. One agent I sent my novel to remarked that he liked my epilogue and the fact that it's title is 'The Beginning'. Pity he didn't like the preceeding 300 odd pages as much!

Sunday, 25 April 2010

RIP Alan Sillitoe

Sad to hear the news that Nottingham-born novelist Alan Sillitoe has died aged 82 in Charing Cross Hospital. His novels marked him out as one of the Angry Young Men of British fiction.

Saturday Night And Sunday Morning was made into a successful film starring Albert Finney after the novel was published in 1958. Then came The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner starring Tom Courteney. Both films were seen as classic examples of kitchen sink dramas reflecting the reality of life in Britain.

He also published several volumes of poetry, children's books and plays.

A Million Womag Writers

Amanda Brittany has started to compile a list of womag writers on her blog. Boy does she have her work cut out! There must be thousands of us out there, all scribbling away hoping to please an editor. Which got me to thinking about when I first started out submitting back in 2001.

A sub to People's Friend would take approx a week to 10 days for a yay or nay answer. A sub to Woman's Weekly or My Weekly maybe three to four weeks. Take A Break usually got back to me within 4 to 5 weeks, 6 at the most. How times have changed!

The People's Friend still remains the quickest, with all the other mags taking up to 6 months and in some cases over a year for a decision. That's if they bother to answer at all. Increasingly, some are adopting the 'if you don't hear from us assume it's a rejection' attitude, which I find irksome (a bloody liberty). Yes, I know you're busy but how difficult would it be to hit the reply button on an email? If any editors who've adopted this stance are reading this then...um...ignore my comments - I don't want to be black-listed! Which, I suppose is exactly why they get away with it.

My pet hate is editors who don't EVER get in touch. Not even to say 'Stop sending me your pathetic drivel'. A certain overseas mag editor hasn't replied to me in years, though she accepted the first thing I ever sent her so she must like my writing. Maybe I should take it as a sign she's not interested but until she actually says so I'll keep sending. No, I wont get tired and disheartened, Missy. I'm made of sterner stuff! You don't get rid of me that easily.

Maybe she needs to take a leaf out of Fast Fiction Oz who have an automated reply system to acknowledge receipt of a submission which I think is a brilliant idea - but even that's hit and miss, especially following their (frequent) editor changes.

The nice people at My Weekly generally send a brief 'Got it, Sue' email as does Woman's Weekly. They may then take months and months to give a definitive answer, but at least I'm not left wondering if it ever arrived in their in-box.

But then never having been an editor I can't imagine what it must be like to open my in-box on a Monday morning to find it crammed to busting point with submissions. And not all of publishable quality at that!