Saturday, 14 May 2011

Versatile Blogger Award

A big thank you to Janice Horton for passing me the Versatile Blogger Award - the rules of acceptance are to tell you seven things about myself that you might not already know. I've had a problem thinking of 7 things that might make me sound vaguely interesting but anyway here goes 7 bits of trivia about me:

1. My first job, aged 14 and a bit (I lied and said I was 16 and the boss never checked) was stacking shelves in a local supermarket two nights a week and all day Saturday for the princely sum of £2 8sh and 6d. Even in the late 60's this was lousy pay! My co-workers and I deliberately damaged packets of biscuits (KitKats were favourite) so we could buy them cheap. Can you blame us?

2. After leaving school I worked for an engineering firm making conveyor belts for the mining industry. What I mean is, I was a secretary there. I wasn't hands-on with tangential chain rollers and integrated pneumatics. My first task was to type out a tender for a million pound contract with British Coal. I only had Stage One RSA in shorthand and typing and it took me half the afternoon. The company didn't get the contract and later went bust. I've definitely used this experience more than once in a short story.

3. I'm related to Willy Shakespeare. Yes, I know it sounds unlikely. Go take it up with, okay!

4. I can complete a Rubik's cube.

5. I can't spell.

6. This morning I sat down with my laptop to complete a 15 minute test for early signs of dementia....and forgot why I'd opened the laptop. Absolutely true, I swear!

7. I can butcher. Not in the serial killer sense. Husband and I have owned our own business for almost 30 years. The Press had a great time taking the Mick here.

And now I'll pass on the award to seven wonderfully versatile bloggers. Please accept your awards by copying the logo above and listing seven things about yourselves before passing the award on.

And remember, if you want anything spatchcocked, I'm your girl!

Sally Quilford - A View From The Shed
Diane Parkin - Tales of Baggins Bottom
Teresa Ashby - A Likely Story
Alcoholic Daze
Lynne Hackles - I Should Be Writing
Olivia Ryan - Olivia's Place
Rambles From My Chair

Monday, 28 March 2011

Interview with Janice Horton, author of Bagpipes and Bullshot

Well, folks, here it is as promised - a Q&A interview with my novelist chum, Janice Horton (drum roll, please!)

Janice, your ebook Bagpipes & Bullshot is out on Kindle but until today you’ve been asking people NOT to buy it – is that right?
Yes, you may think it’s a strange tactic, but I wanted to ask those who might consider buying Bagpipes & Bullshot to do so on Friday 1st April (it is priced at £1.38 or $2.24) or to tell other people about it on that particular day through their social networks. It’s very difficult to get a new e-book noticed by potential readers on Amazon unless it features on one or more of Top 100 charts, but because of the way Amazon calculates its sales, just a few consolidated sales on one day can make all the difference in pushing it up through the charts!
I’ll be blogging and tweeting all day on Friday 1st April, so for direction to all of the places I’ll be appearing on my Blog Tour throughout the day please visit my blog.
I’ll also be running a Prize Draw on my blog to win some fantastic Kindle Beach Protectors (an essential and stylish accessory for every Kindle owner - but alternatively you could always use it to protect your camera or phone!) All you have to do to be in with a chance to win one is go to my blog and simply leave a comment or RT one of my tweets on Twitter using the hashtag #bagpipes. (Friday 1st April only).

Tell us a bit more about Bagpipes & Bullshot.
It’s a humorous contemporary novel which twists an everyday love story with a whole cast of village eccentrics into an entertaining play on Scottish rural life. When handsome Scottish Laird Innes Buchanan meets beautiful Texan cowgirl Orley McKenna and brings her over to his impoverished estate in Scotland, it’s for more than her expertise with cattle. But before their romance can properly begin, Orley has to contend with a run-down country mansion, a frosty Lady of the manor, and a vengeful ex-girlfriend who puts Lady Macbeth to the shade. I’ll leave it for the reader to tell me if it’s a love story with elements of humour or a humorous novel with elements of love story!

Where did the idea to write about a Texan cowgirl and a Scottish laird come from?

Well, you may be thinking that in a contemporary novel, a cowgirl and a laird are far removed examples of what it is to be American or Scottish today, and you would be right. However, the premise of the story is about opposites attracting and exploring the emotional, cultural, and geographical differences between two people who come from opposite sides of an ocean. It is intentionally larger than life and that’s what makes it entertaining and fun. I’m told there are many laugh out loud moments in Bagpipes & Bullshot!

Where is your favourite place to write?

Living in Scotland that very much depends on how warm it is: for the past six months, I seem to have been glued to the sofa next to the wood burning stove or sat at the kitchen table in front of the Aga with my laptop. This winter has been a particularly long cold one with weeks of temperatures less than -16 degrees C. Roll on the days where I can once again sit under the shade of the trees and write with the sun shining on the garden and the hills around the cottage. I do, incidentally, have a perfectly good study with a desk, but as I share it with my self-employed husband, somehow sitting there seems more conducive to practical work than creative writing.
I guess I’m happy to write anywhere, as long as I’ve actually got some time to immerse myself in what I’m writing.

Can you tell us something of your work in progress?
Yes, I’m hoping to finish writing my next novel by this summer. It has been a long haul job writing this one - not through lack of enthusiasm on my part but simply through real life distractions. Other commitments have quite rightly taken priority over my writing, but that’s not to say writing will have to take a backseat in future. Reaching for the Stars is the story of a disillusioned celebrity chef, who gives up his hard won accolades - three Golden Stars - and goes into self imposed exile in a castle on a Scottish country estate. The heroine of the tale is a rising star in the culinary world, an ambitious chef determined to be the first woman in the UK to get three Golden Stars. As this novel is set against a backdrop of fine food and steamy kitchens - you can imagine all the fun I had researching this book!

What made you decide to go indie and publish Bagpipes & Bullshot on Kindle?
Two reasons: the first was that having been previously published in paperback by both traditional and self publishing methods, I couldn’t resist the challenge of having a go at e-publishing, especially on Kindle, because distribution and marketing on Amazon are all well established. The second reason was that I unexpectedly fell in love with the Kindle my husband bought me for Christmas and wanted to have my books available for it.

But what about people who don’t have a Kindle? Can they download Bagpipes & Bullshot for their PC, Mac, IPhone, IPad etc?
Yes, absolutely. Go to Amazon and download there. I’ll be forever grateful.

About The Author: Janice Horton lives in Scotland and writes entertaining and humorous contemporary women's fiction novels which are, for the most part, inspired by the romantic beauty of the heather-filled glens around her country cottage. When she’s not writing novels she writes lifestyle articles and has had work published in national magazines and regional newspapers. She’s also been involved in BBC Scotland's ‘Write Here Write Now’ project. Her next novel Reaching For The Stars will be available soon on Kindle.
Her blog can be found here and you can follow her on Twitter
Her website is

Bagpipes & Bullshot Launch and Blog Tour - Friday 1st April 2011

My lovely writing friend Janice Horton (different spelling so no, not related in case you were wondering) is getting very excited about the launch of her new ebook Bagpipes and Bullshot which:
"Twists an everyday love story into an entertaining play on rural life:it's Monarch of The Glen meets Miss Read!"

And it's available now at the fabulous (fabulous? It's a bargain, Janice!) price of £1.38 or $2.24 but I'm going to ask you NOT to buy it. Why you ask? Well that's because Janice is planning a mini-onslaught on the Kindle mountain of Amazon and she wants you to buy it / blog it / tweet it / and recommend it to all your friends on the official launch day Friday, 1st April 2011!

No Kindle? No problem. You can read the book on your PC, Mac, IPad, IPod or other mobile devices by downloading the free Kindle App.

Watch out for an interview with her right here on the 1st April. Oh, and you'll be able to enter a comp to win a Kindle Beach Protector if you visit her blog on the 1st April. All you have to do to be in the prize draw (which will be independently adjudicated) is leave a comment on HER blog on Friday 1st April or ReTweet one of her Tweets on Twitter with the hashtag #bagpipes.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Payment on acceptance or publication?

There's a good topic for conversation going on at womag's blog : should writers receive payment on publication or on acceptance? Personally, I expect to be paid on acceptance...or do I? How many other products or services would you not expect to pay for until you've used it?

Anyway, I can't say a mag's preference for payment has ever influenced who I send my work to. According to comments, Bauer seems to be at the top of folks' list for complaints when it comes to late payment, but I've never been kept waiting too long after publication and maybe it's just me but I quite like wondering whether my 2000 words have been stretched over 4 pages with the accompanying larger fee.
And before you ask, I am not a *hobby writer. I do this for a living...well, hardly a living wage but you know what I mean. I have bills to pay (on time) like most of you.

As for upsetting an editor and being black-listed if I should complain, I doubt this would happen, unless I was awfully rude and then I've only myself to blame.

I've been sending to the womags for more than 10 years and have always found editors to be great people, if sometimes haphazard with their slushpile, but with tight deadlines and thousands of submissions to plough through each week, you can't blame them for sometimes getting it wrong. On the whole my experience with editors has been a very positive one and I've only come across one (overseas) editor in all that time who I'd gladly slap on the nose with a rolled up copy of her own magazine if I ever met her/him! And no, I ain't spilling!

Or maybe I will....see, she/he bought the first story I ever sent for consideration. Great! A new market for me!
So I sent more over the coming months. I was asked to edit 4 of these stories she/he wanted to buy. Yes, she/he did say 'buy', not 'interested in'. Without question, I did as asked, sent them off quickly and efficiently, then sat back and heard nothing for over 9 mths.

I don't generally like chasing stories as I know if I've heard nothing it's a 'no' but as he/she'd asked for re-writes I emailed and politely asked did she/he approve of my edit? Nothing.

A year later I decided they weren't going to be used after all, so I sent a completely different story for consideration. Again, nothing. And still nothing to this day. Not an acceptance or a rejection. Ever the optimist, I still send stuff. And yes, I do send to the correct email address etc. Maybe my address is in her Spam filter, who knows?

You think there's more to this story? Why would an editor behave in this way? Well, yes, there is a little more. See, I was so frustrated with her/him, I sent my stories a 'Happy Birthday' email at one point BUT WITH a note saying I meant it in fun but obviously he/she has no sense of humour so, yes, editors do black-list you if you get up their nose!

Oh, I just remembered, an American editor once told me I wasn't up to womag writing standard. This after I'd just had my 200th sale. I've blacklisted her!

*Hobby writer - I suspect some will take offence at the term. Feel free to black-list me ;0)

PS. Photo of wad of money used in this article is not indicative of any womag writer's fee. If you know different, please leave me your editor's number.

PPS. If the editor in question recognises herself in this post, I promise not to carry out my threat of physical abuse. Call me. Lets meet for coffee and maybe you can cast your eye over my recent manuscript. You can pay me on publication, I don't mind.

PPPS. (Sorry this will def be the last)
Since writing this post Dianne Parkin ,editor and freelancer, has had her say on the matter and its well worth a view. Thank you Dianne for writing it up.

Friday, 14 January 2011

Festival of Writing

Here are a few details about the Festival of Writing at York University 25--27 March.
Sue Moorcroft has blogged about it but the highlights are:

Breaking news:
- US agent Marcy Posner is joining from over the pond and taking one-to-ones
- Writers Workshop will be offering “next steps” free to three
writers at the Festival who are talent spotted. The writers will be
offered a free manuscript critique, free coaching or a free manuscript
appraisal from Harry Bingham.
- Harper Collins Authonomy are supporting Authonomy Live talent
contest on Friday evening, with editor Patrick Janson-Smith on the
panel. Last years winner, Shelley Harris was offered representation by
4 literary agents in the room, and then went on to achieve a 5 figure
book deal.

For more details look on the Festival of Writing website

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Queensland Floods

You must've seen the terrible newsreels of the Queensland Floods on TV. Horrific, and no doubt they haven't seen the worst of it yet according to the experts. Several lives have been lost already and though not on the scale of some recent disasters (I'm thinking of Haiti here), imagine the heartbreak of losing your home and possessions. Of course, it's easy to sit back and do nothing. You may think 'Oh well, Australia's a wealthy country. They'll recover just fine.' Maybe they are more equipped to deal with the disaster and maybe as we're all feeling the recession pinch we might not want to contribute cold hard cash. Well, there is another way you can help.

100 Stories for Queensland is a charity anthology to assist the victims of the floods. Stories are donated by writers from across the globe and proceeds from the sale of the book will go to the Queensland Premier's Flood Relief appeal.

The anthology will be available in digital and print form, and is expected to be ready for release late February/early March.

Details of submission guidelines can be found on the website