Tuesday, 25 October 2011

A 'People's Friend' kind of day.

Hello - how are you all? Just thought I'd tell you about my day today, because it really sums up the life of a short story writer!

This morning I was sitting working on my writing when an e-mail came through from 'my' editor at PF, rejecting a recent story I'd sent her. So far, so all-too depressingly ordinary ... I've had several other rejections recently from other mags.

About half an hour later, another e-mail came through from PF. This time it was one of their routine ones to advise me that a previously-accepted story is going to be in this week's issue. Ah well, that cheered me up!

Went out for a couple of hours, came back - and there was yet another e-mail, from the editor again - but this time it was an acceptance! Yay! A story they'd had since March has made the grade. I'm really pleased about this one, too, as it's about someone whose whole family are producing grandchildren at the same time. Does that sound familiar? No, I haven't just written my own life story, but I can't deny my own situation was the inspiration!

Here are some recent pics of our two gorgeous granddaughters - while we're still waiting for the next baby to arrive - and one of Big Cousin Noah - taken on his second birthday last month - because I think it's such a happy picture of him.

Caitlin at 3 months - Alice at 2 months - Noah at 2 years

Monday, 17 October 2011

Just not meant to be?

Have you ever resigned yourself to something not happening, deciding that the best way of looking at it is that it 'just wasn't meant to be'? That's just happened to me, with a competition I was going to enter.

I think, actually, I was kidding myself a bit, even thinking of entering it. It's the The Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Short Story Award 2012 - which is only open to published writers, so you can imagine how high the standard must be. OK, I'm published, and I write a lot of short stories too, but normally my stories are specifically geared to the womag market and not really the sort that I'd enter for what sounds like quite a 'literary' competition. But it just so happens I've got one story that might 'fit' ... I wrote it just because it was a story I wanted to write, not for any particular market, and I only ever submitted it to one magazine. I wasn't surprised it was rejected as 'unsuitable', and I didn't try it with any others as it just isn't a typical womag story (and at just under 3000 words, it's also too long for most of them).

So I downloaded the entry form and instructions, etc, and then (typically) put them to one side and spent more than a month dithering about it. But for some reason, today, I suddenly decided I was going to enter it. I told myself it was being a bit ridiculous, that with all the Very Clever Writers obviously entering (it's a big prize), I had absolutely no chance ... but equally, absolutely nothing to lose.

I read the list of formatting requirements, and started making a few necessary amendments to my text (no indenting, no page numbers, that kind of thing) ... and then read the rules. Oh yes, I should have done that first! One of them states that by entering the competition, you agree to make yourself available to attend any events you may be asked to, during the lead-up to the awards ceremony, which is part of the Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival. And the dates are ... when I'll be in Australia next spring, visiting my brother!

Now, I must admit I hesitated. After all, the only people who'll be required to attend those events will be those who are at least long-listed, if not short-listed. And that's never going to be me! But ... after all, what would be the point in entering, if I was so certain of having no chance whatsoever of coming anywhere, that I was prepared to turn a blind eye to that requirement? And it is one of the rules. Supposing they decided to invite the writer of the worst entry in the competition to go along - a bit like the worst performers on X-Factor are publicly humiliated! Not that the Sunday Times are likely to behave like that, of course!

So, needless to say, only a couple of hours after deciding to give it a go, I've had to abandon the whole idea. Being contrary by nature, I'm now feeling disappointed that I'm not entering after all! But of course, the trip to Australia will more than make up for it! And ... maybe next year, I'll dig that story out again and actually enter it.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

The Big Red Read - the result!

Just wanted to share my excitement with you ... and also my thanks if you voted for me! ... my book 'Sweet Nothings' came second in the Big Red Read fiction awards! Huge congrats to Juliet Archer whose book 'The Importance of Being Emma' came first! I noticed there were some very well received new-release titles on the short list, so the fact that a book from my backlist has enjoyed this little comeback is a real thrill for me.

I was sad to miss the awards ceremony, and wish now that I'd gone! But I understand it was a great evening. I think thanks are due not only to all of you - friends and followers - who might have kindly voted, but also to the library readers who must have made up the majority of the votes.

I think you all know by now how strongly I feel about the library service. As a mid-list author, I rely on PLR for the biggest chunk of my income from writing. My books seem to do well in the libraries and I really appreciate the support I get from them. It's a two-way relationship of course, and I (and most writers I know) do our bit to support them too, by doing author talks and events and waiving our fees.

And by the way, the feature I wrote, quite a while back, on writers & libraries, has now been accepted for publication in 'Writers' Forum' - so I'll let you all know when it's going to be published!

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

The best and worst things - and East London events.

I took part at a library event at East Ham in East London last night - I was part of an author panel chaired by my good friend Jean Fullerton and comprising of myself, Julie Cohen and Catherine Jones (Kate Lace).

The event was supposed to be about 'chick lit' but I must admit, we ended up discussing all sorts of things about our writing, answering very varied questions including what we consider to be the best - and worst - things about being a writer. I didn't find that one too tricky! For me, the best thing is definitely being able to spend my time doing my favourite thing! OK, getting published is the icing on the cake but how many people are lucky enough to be able to spend as much time as they like, doing the thing they enjoy most? (I suppose that's just because I'm retired, of course - but I enjoyed it just as much when it was my relaxation after a hard day at the day-job!).

The other girls came up with some good answers too. Julie said the best thing for her was that feeling you get when the writing's going really well, it flows like magic and the characters just seem to take over. I think we can all agree with that - although sadly it doesn't happen all the time, does it! Catherine said the best feeling is when you hold your published book in your hands for the first time. Oh yes, I agree with that one too! The thrill never wears off. (But sadly that doesn't happen as often as we'd like, either!)

And the worst thing? For me, it has to be the fact that we never stop getting the rejections and disappointments, however many stories or books we've had published. The waiting, the endless waiting, only to be told it's 'no' again!

Because I'd already agreed to take part in the event last night, I regretfully turned down an invitation to go back to East London tonight, for the Awards ceremony of the Big Red Read - which my book 'Short Nothings' was shortlisted for. It's a pity as I'd like to have gone - but I'm sure I'll hear all about it from some of the other RNA authors who were shortlisted, and who I think are going to be there. I'll let you know as soon as I hear the results.