Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Back to reality!

I seem to have been away from the blog for ages. Well, I've been away from everything for ages!
Ten days in Northern Cyprus - and it felt like I was away for ever. It was such a relaxing place, and there were no computers at the hotel (they had WiFi, but I don't take my laptop on holiday with me - a notebook and pen is all I allow myself!). So I decided to be brave, stay away from internet cafes etc, and NOT check my e-mails, Facebook or anything else for ten whole days. It felt quite strange. How on earth did we manage before the internet, mobile phones, etc?

When I got home and looked at the hundreds of e-mails that had accumulated while I was away, I found one offering me a date to speak on a panel of local authors at the Essex Book Festival next year. Luckily my writer friends who are also going to be on the panel knew that I was on holiday and not just ignoring this fantastic opportunity! And luckily the date looks fine - well, it's not till next March, and I don't tend to be that much in demand! Last time I was booked to do a talk at the Essex Book Festival, a couple of years ago, the event was cancelled due to lack of support. I was pretty mortified, although I know this is just the sort of thing we not-well-known authors have to expect. So this time, having the support of a group of friends on the panel, I'm hoping we'll attract more of an audience! We all write different types of books so I think it should be fun. I'll tell you more, a lot nearer the time. (Fingers crossed!).

Since then I've been invited to talk at a local Rotary Club meeting next month, and am already booked to talk at a U3A meeting in January. Makes me think that maybe I'm more popular for giving talks than I am for writing books!!

Of course, by now the holiday seems like ages ago. It didn't help that when we got back, we found out that my mum-in-law, who was staying here while we were away (she likes to have a change of scenery from her little flat, and also cat-sits for us), had a fall almost as soon as we left, and broke her arm! What with Eldest Daughter breaking her wrist just before her wedding - I hope we're not making a habit of this as a family! Luckily, Middle Daughter and son-in-law were kind enough to come and stay, with baby Noah, the whole time we were away, to look after poor Mum-in-Law. She'll now be with us for some time, as she can't manage on her own, one-handed.

Fortunately Eldest Daughter's wrist seems to be mending well and she & New son-in-law had a wonderful honeymoon in Mauritius. Meanwhile Youngest Daughter & other son-in-law (keep up!!) went to Turkey for a week to celebrate their first anniversary - and all of us had beautiful weather and stayed in lovely places.

And the nicest thing about coming home from holiday - apart from seeing the family of course! -
is that NOW, I don't have that sinking feeling any more, about going back to work. My work is my hobby, my hobby is my work, and I know I'm so lucky. All I need is to earn a little money from it now (please!) to make it perfect! So - back to work. A book to finish, more short stories to write, and a talk to prepare soon. In between visiting my gorgeous grandson!

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Re-writes - and a welcome break

We're off for a quick holiday in Cyprus on Tuesday and I'll be taking with me, for 'relaxation', two short stories recently rejected by one magazine, printed out so that I can take my red pen to them, chop them about and re-write them sufficiently to re-submit elsewhere when I get back. Am I a bit strange for actually enjoying this process? Of course, it goes without saying that I'd prefer every short story I submit to be accepted by the first editor I send it to! But as that's unrealistic, the next best thing is to have a rejection accompanied, as these two both were, by a nice letter from a lovely editor who has taken the time to explain why the story wasn't quite suitable for them. Even better, a letter (or e-mail) saying that they liked the story but would like a few changes made before reconsidering it. This, too, has happened to me twice recently, and I've spent most of the past week doing the necessary re-writes. I think the reason this is enjoyable is that the actual creative work has been done, and this editing and re-writing is improving the story or giving it another shot at acceptance - so it's a hopeful situation and takes the dejection out of rejection!

I'd intended to work on my new novel this week, as I'm at a nice stage (80,000 words plus), where I can see the ending in my mind, know the main 'happenings' I want to include on the way, and can't wait to get there - but the short story re-writes seemed an easier job to get done before going on holiday. Of course, finishing the novel won't actually be the finish of it at all - I'll then be going back to the beginning, reading, editing, hopefully improving - before presuming to send it out to be read by anyone. And yes, if I get to the stage where any agent or editor wants me to re-write it, just as with the short stories, I'll be very willing to do so. (I've done it before, it was a huge undertaking, but it was definitely worth it to get the book published!).

This holiday will be a welcome break after all the excitement of our baby grandson's arrival and our daughter's lovely wedding last week. I don't know whether it's all part of getting older, but even happy, exciting occasions seem to leave me feeling shattered these days! I know I'll be anxious to get home again, though, to see how much baby Noah has grown while we're away - at one month old now, he's already a big bouncy boy! and I'm looking forward to his first smiles!

Here he is sleeping his way through the wedding reception!

The wedding was just perfect. We haven't got any 'proper' photos yet of course, but here are a couple of our own.

I know all brides look lovely and I might be slightly biased (!) but my daughter did look stunning. I only cried a little bit! Should be getting used to it by now - the third and final wedding! The bridesmaids - our other two lovely daughters and the bride's best friend - looked beautiful too in lovely shade of royal blue. So that's it now - all three happily married, job done! Cyprus, here we come!

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Fame at last!

One of the stories I sold earlier this year to Woman's Weekly ('Nothing To Wear') has just been published in the October/November Fiction Special - and to my surprise, I'm mentioned in big green letters on the front cover! (along with Simon Brett, a great and very funny writer who I heard speaking a few years back at a writing event and who also has a story in the same issue). In case you should see a copy of it, it's my own name (Sheila Norton) you need to look out for by the way - I write my short stories as myself rather than Olivia!

Simon and I are described on the cover as 'This Month's Big Names'! - wow! I've been called a lot of things in my time, but never before have I been called a big name! I did a lot of whooping and exclaiming about it while unpacking the shopping this morning and heating up soup for lunch, and then nearly spilled the soup when I looked inside the magazine to see my story and Simon's described in the index as the 'Bestsellers Collection'. Well, this is really very nice of Gaynor and Clare at WW, in fact I feel like kissing them both, as I'm not exactly a bestseller, but just for the little while that this issue of the Fiction Special sits proudly on my desk, I can pretend and dream that I am!

It's nice to see that I'm also sharing this issue with Teresa Ashby of 'A Likely Story' blog, whose story 'Always' is in there too. I feel very privileged! This has taken the sting, a little, out of yet another rejection that also arrived today - hey, can't be a big name and a bestseller ALL the time! Wouldn't want to get too used to it, would I! (or would I?)!

I'll write another post very soon about the wedding, with some pictures - it was fabulous. But meanwhile here's the picture of my Waterstones book-signing that I couldn't download before.