Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Money, Money, Money

With the recession biting I eagerly received my April copy of the Writer’s News, to see if there are any paid writing jobs out there.  Opening story was Tina Jackson excellent article ‘Woman’s Own backs down on no-cash comp prize.’  For those unfamiliar with the story, Woman’s Own who usually pays for its fiction organised a short story competition.  The prize - ‘to see your work in print!’  She goes on to ask why we writers are expected to write for free?

I’ve sold pieces of non fiction, but I’ve also done incredible amounts of work for free. I sometimes wonder if I am adding to the problem. Are people ever going to pay writers if we continually undercut each other and write for nothing except the pleasure of seeing our work out there and the possibility of being discovered?

For a moment I’m determined to write for free no more!

Until I turn the page of my Writers News and see a tantalising fun paid writing job.  Green Gecko Publishing ( refuses to murder trees and produce only ebooks.    I’m glad they can’t see my stack of first draft note books!  In their Passion series they’re asking for essays, stories and poetry about things like Spam and Ketchup.  Fab!  With a theme like Spam I can feel the inner poet in me. Payment no less than …wait for it…I know you want to know ¼ cent a word, minimum payment $5. 

On the other hand, I’ve always had a passion for Spam!

Monday, February 27, 2012

GUEST BLOG by Leslie Tate & Sue Hampton

About authors Leslie Tate and Sue Hampton, visiting The Writers @ Lovedean 10.00, March 16th.

Leslie writes:

As Authors in Love, who read each other’s work, revise constantly, and keep writing every day (except when we’re at schools, universities, libraries, bookshops, festivals or reading or writing groups), we’ll turn up on Friday March 16th after discussing music, books or friends’ relationships in the car, on the drive south from Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire.
   We’ll bring with us large laminated reproductions of artworks, all about people. We’ll hold up our copies – Van Gogh’s chair, a self-portrait by Gauguin, Manet’s Bar at the Folies-Bergère, a Rembrandt, a Frida Kahlo – and discuss how writers can use the same techniques to animate their own characters. We’ll bring metaphor cards, describing each other, plus quotes about writing and extracts from our work, and use them to illustrate the choice of playful and imaginative language in children’s writing as well as tone and register in adult novels/poems.
   We’ll also bring, of course, all twelve of Sue’s 12 children’s novels for 6 - 16, three of them praised by Michael Morpurgo, and my two character-led adult novels about relationships, plus CDs, for those interested in buying signed copies, and hand-outs about our e-books for anyone wishing to to download them.
   We’ll also bring our story: how we fell in love and how we inspire and support each other as live-in editors.  and

Sunday, February 26, 2012


Yuk I hate editing my own work. I read it read it and read it again, but the moment I print it out – I just find one more mistake.  It’s been a while since I sent a story out to one of the woman magazines.  Sadly, My Weekly is still only accepting work from authors they’ve published before. 

I’ve just finished a story called Fields of Gold, ready for Woman’s Weekly.  I have posted the guidelines below for anyone interested – although I stress that you always need to check for the most recent up date.

So fingers crossed in the post tomorrow.

Woman’s Weekly are looking for

For the weekly magazine:
Short stories of 1,000 and 2,000 words
Serials in 3 or 4 parts of 3,300 words each
For Fiction Special (At least 20 stories 10 times a year):
Stories of 1,000 to 8,000 words

Their General tips are

° We read only typescripts. Handwritten work can't be considered.
° Double line spacing on one side of the paper only and wide margins.
° Number each page and make sure your name is at the top of each page.
° If sending stories from abroad, please enclose an international reply coupon.
° If you would like us to acknowledge receipt of your manuscript, enclose a stamped, addressed postcard.
° Please note that it can take up to sixteen weeks for manuscripts to be considered, and that we are unable to enter into any correspondence by email.
Please send stories/serials to:
Fiction Department, Woman's Weekly, IPC Media, Blue Fin Building,

110 Southwark Street, London, SE1 0SU

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Claim the Day

I put the kids school uniform on to wash last night.  2.30 Saturday afternoon and it’s still in the washing machine!  I’ve ruthless decided that I’ve my own personal agenda today.  I’ve just asked my hubby to remove damp clothes and I wonder if his support is starting to wane.  Especially since I have done no housework, plus he as already made lunch, taken the dog for a walk, and drove the girls to the Brownies and Guides.  On the other hand, I’ve been doing that sort of things all by myself for years…still I may have to eat some chocolate soon to take away that nasty guilty feeling.

The girls are doing a sponsored walk today and I decided to claim this day.  I literally came down stairs, turned on the laptop and started work on my writing projects.

First thing on the agenda, doing the final polish to a story called ‘Don’t Break My Heart.’  A friend gave it the once over yesterday and I’ve made the changes and submitted it to Chuffed Buff Books, a new independent publisher.  They are looking for a collection of shorts that explores writing in the first and second person, flash fiction (under 1000 words) and short stories (2000 – 2500 words).  All themes are welcome.  Stories may be written in either singular or plural points of view, but must be written in first or second person.  Deadline for the first person stories, You, Me & a Bit of We is 3rd of April.

Next thing to do was try and sort out something for Flash Fiction Day on the 16th of May .  I just think it would be a wonderful thing for The Writers @ Lovedean to do.  So I have tried to contact Callum Kerr who came up with this marvelous idea.

I also intend to do my least favourite aspect of writing today – editing.  And get another short story polished and ready to go.  The dust can wait.

And I have just noticed that the time is wrong on my blog!  How did that happen?

Friday, February 24, 2012

What a day!

Ouch!  Broken car cost £440 to fix.   

But I denied the temptation to hide under the duvet.  I decided to push on with the dream to improve my writing.  First step send some of my work to Ether Books a new mobile publisher.


I have just tried to register on the website to submit some of my work.  I think I followed the instructions carefully, but when I logged into submit work, the submission page it said 'Dear Ian'.  I thought this was just an advertisement to get me to upgrade to silver membership, so I submitted a piece of work call 'The Investment'.  However, when I submitted the work the website read 'Well Done Ian' for submitting....

I'm totally confused, have I just submitted my work under someone else's account and name?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A Funny Sort Of A Day

 I woke up early and determined.  I wanted to do the ironing before I took daughter to school in the hopes of having this evening free for writing.  Wednesday tends to be the day I drive to Worthing Council to get my search information. 

But the day was eaten away gradually. I didn’t finish the ironing before school.  The dog decided to paddle in mud, so I washed him before I drove to Worthing.  When I got there some of the information wasn’t ready so I had a lovely lunch in the Lime café while I waited and sent business emails.  Next thing I know its 2pm. A quick run to Staples because we needed more paper.  Then I remembered my daughter as cookery tomorrow so quick dash to supermarket for chocolate chips. 

Get home finish ironing, eat tea, I still haven’t washed up and its 8pm! Hubby is typing up the reports, I’m exhausted and I have only written my blog.  Hopefully the fairy liquid will give me a second wind but in reality I’m not hopeful.  I should sweep up and mop before I go to bed…but I don’t it is going to happen.  Surely most other female writers run homes, businesses/work and write.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Write Out Days

The joys of running a writing group are many and diverse, but… there is nothing like the 45 minute wait while you wonder if anyone is going to turn up.  Luckily, nine people came along today at Cineworld in Chichester and we had a great time.  A lovely chappie, Matt the Operations Manager gave us a great tour.  Our generous tour guide even upgraded our tickets so we could experience how the other half lives in the VIP box while we watched the film.

I’m sorry Daniel Radcliffe but every time I see you, I see little Harry Potter, especially when he was asleep on the train, talk about Deja Vu!

The problem is that you just want to make sure everyone is having a good time.  Plus the quiet little buzz from husband’s trousers, not from passion but from the phone on vibrate letting us know more work was coming in, was a little distracting.  Tuesday a quiet day in February, I was sure we were safe but three personal searches today, yippee.

and then out again to my Explorers club.  No rest for the wicked.  

Monday, February 20, 2012

Drum Roll Please

Does anyone else have that strange sad little feeling when they send their work out?

I’m very proud of myself as I have finally sent a story to the ‘Are You Sitting Comfortably?’ Story Cabaret.  It’s an opportunity for local writers work to be showcased and read aloud.  I'm not sure what it will be like.  I have done some script writing for radio, but to see a performance?  My kids aren’t impressed because it’s for ages 16+.

And… drum roll please, I've sent off my application to ReAuthoring South East as well.  I’m pretty sure that the competition will be fierce.  Lots of writers logged into the webinar.  But why shouldn’t I have a crack at it?

On another note I carefully proof read both pieces, but nipped round to a fellow writer to ask her to give them a once over.  I don’t mind reading my work out loud, but it is a nerve racking experience letting someone loose with the red pen.  Despite checking, checking and checking again, she found 18 typos on one story and 9 on the other! 

Anyway, off they go and now it’s just waiting for the response hoping that the muses will be kind.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

New Things

Well Sunday at six I banished my children upstairs and did my first webinar.  A very strange experience for technophobes but incredibly easy.  You just click on the link, make sure the sound is on and its Thunderbirds are go.  You can see all the participants’ names, see the links the hosts shows you and write little comments in a box at the side.  I was seriously impressed.  Not just with the technology but the fact that around tea time when I would usually be consumed by family life I took time to myself.  Hubby made a lovely tea, kids played happily I explored an exciting opportunity. Why did I panic about it?

ReAuthoring South East  is a new way of getting your work to new audiences.  Six lucky writers will get an opportunity to get a place on a residential programme to develop a piece of work.  That work will then be taken to festivals or a stand alone event.  It’s the kind of chance that makes you feel anticipation, fear and excitement all at the same time. I had written a sketelon outline of a ‘bio’ and ‘why do I want to apply’ piece but after listening to Katherine May on the seminar I’ve decided to rethink it. 

I’m going to visit a fellow writer tomorrow so she can have a little proof read of the story I’m going to send.     

Saturday, February 18, 2012


Technology, it gives with one hand and takes away with the other.  I get my blog online and work out how to post a comment but then can’t I figure out which setting to put my blog in so that comments are shown and readers don’t have to click on them?  I finally managed to get the Ether Books app, but can’t find the two authors work who come to my writing group?  ARRGH

Anyway, I’m looking forward to my first webinar for the South East Reauthoring event at 6p.m. tomorrow, which is exactly the same time my youngest daughter is due home from her play date.  I’m pretty sure that all I have to do is click on the link and make sure the sound is on.  But of course computers do have their own agenda’s.  Of course it would be easier without the back drop of general family life, dog barking, meeting and greeting another mother and the polite small talk involved in passing small children back and forth.  It is surprising how guilty I feel about even the thought of suggesting to another parent if it would be okay to drop her off 30 minutes earlier or later. 

I’ve also sent a link to members of The Writers @ Lovedean to see if they would be interested in The Pint Pot of Fire, an annual story telling competition that brings writers' groups, including classes and workshops, together with speaking clubs and oral tradition story tellers. Each group puts forward one or two champions to represent them with a ten minute story.  Sounds fun.

I got a very exciting about a lead another lady from the writing group found, it’s definitely worth a look.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Winner Takes it All


Yippee won the valentine competition at The Writers @ Lovedean this morning, and even though I run the group, what the hell I’m pleased.  I actually used an exercise I learnt on the Della Galton workshop in Fareham to write the winning story.  I listed all the permutations of the love story, boy meets girls, girl meets boy, girl meets girl and then tried to think of an original angle.

I’m writing this with my heart happy and lifted.  After a harrowing evening of throwing a birthday party for my ten year old child, crafts games and of course karaoke, which was a strange ten year old mix of ABBA and 'That’s not my name' in the style of the Ting Tings and 'Single Ladies' in the style of Beyonce.  Am I the only person to notice that when you actually read some of the lyrics to some of the teen pop songs they’re a bit dodgy...

Afterwards I just crashed.  But despite being lovely and warm in bed I decided to get up and write my blog and I’m glad I did.  While writing, my lovely shy husband is singing Wonderful World with the Karaoke.  Just when you think the family is going to drive you crazy, the children do something wonderful and thoughtful and you remember why you fell in love with your other half.  

Thursday, February 16, 2012

More quality time needed

Yes I work. I’m currently trying to organise two more Free CPD seminars for the business in the hopes of increasing our customer base.  Plus I do have a lot to do on the general office management. I won’t mention housework since I haven’t done any today.  But really! Why did I wait until 9 pm on the eve of the writing competition to start my first draft?

The annoying thing is that if anyone asks me what I love to do I say – write.  So why do I have to self discipline myself to do something I love?  Surely people should be dragging me away from the laptop.  Am I the only person who as lots of wonderful and exciting ideas bubbling away in their minds, but finds it difficult to actually put them down on paper?

Yet once I finally stopped messing around looking for an Eskimo/Inuit Indian costume for World Book Day.  My daughter wants to goes as Renn from the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness Books by Michelle Paver, which are breathtakingly brilliant, and finally started writing, I felt a thrill of pure pleasure.

By the way – I know Renn isn’t an Eskimo. But since the stories are set just after the Stone Age and I’ve limited funds, plus Greenland is bloody cold.  I’ve convinced my daughter that Renn would be dressed like an Eskimo.  I forbid anyone to put her right until after World Book Day unless you want to kill and skin a reindeer to make an authentic costume.   Also in a mad moment I promised that we would sew real raven feathers on her shoulders.

Michelle Paver spent time in northern Sweden to research her books, wandering around forests listening to elks and looking at stone carvings.  When she wanted to write about wolves she spent time watching them at the UK Wolf Conservation Trust.  When she started to write about snakes she went to Longleat.  And the research, time and effort leap off the page when you read her work.  Yet I grab an hour in the evening when the kids are in bed and expect a master piece. 

My self assessment of my own writing:

More quality time needed!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Must do

X-Press Legal Services Conference, brilliant but I’m absolutely exhausted and haven’t slept since Thursday because of a mixture of hotel beds and too much on my mind.  I could have gone down stairs and turned on the laptop and done some writing, but it was cold and a bit scary so tossed and turned a lot.

I met Chrissie Lightfoot author of The Naked Lawyer, a very inspirational business woman with lots of good advice for using social media to support our business. But she also got me thinking about my writing.

Good news is that I have worked out what I want to write for the competition on Friday at The Writers @ Lovedean. 

Bad news is that with trips to council, school holidays and writing up the personal searches I haven’t had the time to write the story up. 

Met up with another writer today with the kids in the Play Planet – I was embarrassed to find that the reason I couldn’t get the Ether Books Apps is because I was trying to do it on my laptop instead of the phone. So embarrassed, it is obvious when you know how! Still it was nice to meet up with another Mum and well worth the lost writing time. 

My list of things I must do for myself is growing!

Get the Ether Book App and send some of my work there.

Buy the Chrissie Lightfoot e-book or even better get husband to buy it for the business and just read it for free!

Deadline for ‘Are You Sitting Comfortably?’ Story Cabaret is 25th February.
Deadline for the Re authoring event 24th February. 

Hubby is finally feeling up beat and ready to make another marketing push with the business.  Thiswill be a lot of extra work for me. I don’t mind helping but wish he would push me forward in my plans and dreams.

Completely forgot – write the story for the competition on Friday!

Friday, February 10, 2012


Nine o clock, we have left the girls for one night at their grandparents and are spending the night alone together in an hotel. First night alone since Brownie Pack holiday when the girls went away together. This won't ever happen again because now one girl is in Brownies and the other is in Guides. Hubby is watching Hustle and I'm writing blog - need I say more.

Four and a half hour drive and time to mull over the events of the morning at The Writers @ Lovedean. We have a wide range of different type of writers. So as the group leader how do you deal with the rising talent in the group? Because this morning I heard some really talented stuff!

Luckily I had time for a think in the car. In life you are always going to come up against people with more talent and drive. It's how you deal with it. So, do I throw away what I'm writing at the moment, give in? Or do I see it as a challenge to keep upping my game. Certainly listening and talking to other writers who are having their own successes, large and small is inspiring.

The other advantage of having a guy who doesn't talk when driving is that I have finally got an idea for the valentine writing competition next week at Lovedean, theme 'Don't Break My Heart?' And another advantage of getting talented members in the group is one of the ladies has taken a childrens book I want to send off to agents to read and give me feedback. Great.

Thursday, February 9, 2012


Horrible day today, spent most of the day in tears due to arguments with husband, and youngest daughter, not two mention the trip to Southampton Council and the struggle to buy Moshi Monsters for my youngest daughter’s birthday.  Feeling the lack of TLC from other people I weakened and had a Big Mac Meal plus the Apple and Blackberry hot pie.  We are attending a conference in Manchester on Saturday and leaving for the four hour drive after work tomorrow.  Packing needs to be done, for me and husband, the girls, and bizarrely for the dog because he is staying in someone else’s house. 

I am very proud of myself for posting the entry for the Make ‘Em Laugh competition.

When I checked my emails I was pleased to see one of the group members have been published on Ether Books a mobile publisher producing ‘byte size reads’.  I hadn’t heard of them before but I will definitely be checking out their guidelines.

Next objective is to give my story ‘Love Bites’ a good edit before sending it of to a story cabaret.

Hubby didn’t say much about the early arguments but made one of his amazing stir fry’s with his egg fried rice that you could die for.  And I’m hoping that me and youngest daughter will have a kiss and cuddle before she goes to bed. 

I have read so many articles about women writers with five children who get up at six in the morning to write, and then they run, prepare organic meals and make their own curtains.  Arrrrrgh…..

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


Wednesday is always our busiest day with the business, so off to Worthing Council today.  But I am aware that the deadline for the “Make ‘em Laugh” competition in the February edition of the Writing Magazine is the 15th of February, I’m cutting it fine.  I hoped to have a couple of hours in the afternoon but then I get the call from the junior school - Jessica is ill.  Why didn’t I let her take her party invitations in today!  Party crikes forgot about that, so I order some party supplies online, and take way too much time checking out all the different sites for the pretend savings that p&p will destroy.

Abigail has brought home lots of homework and I maintain a strict same day policy which is tough but means that she gets weekends free.  I take pity on her and weigh out her ingredients for home economics, I mean food tech. (What a stupid name. There are lots of things technical in this world food isn’t one of them, you put it in your mouth and eat it.)   Then I listen to her read her homework ‘Do all heroes have to be good?’ using quotes from the Bugsy Malone play.  I’m tempted to write the homework myself, but I think it’s an assessed piece and I use to hate it when parents did their child’s homework.

Add the fact that I’m arranging a Write Out Day to watch The Woman in Black at Cineworld in Chichester for my writers group The Writers @ Lovedean and trying to get a rough idea of numbers.  Ideally I would like us to go in before it’s open to look in the empty screens. I think buildings, schools, shops factories have a different feel without people and hopefully it will inspire us all to think about atmosphere in our writing.  Yeah right!  We tend to get a bit silly when we go out.   

It would be so easy now to slide into watching TV for the rest of the evening.  I have to accept that I probably don’t have time to tweak my story as much as I would like.  I will never put my writing before my children’s welfare but seriously is bringing a sick child a glass of juice and paracetamol while they strain their neck to watch telly and ordering a bit of party ware online a reason not to push forward your dream?  How many times have I pulled an all nighter for work or to get a child’s costume ready?  I’m not saying that writing is my number one priority – but how do I at least keep it a priority with work and family commitments?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

No More Excuses

Yipee won first prize at The Live Short Story Evening at Rosie’s Wine Bar in Portsmouth!  £50 prize money, lots of lovely feedback, some writing leads and yummy nibbles.

Yet I was so close to not bothering going.  I’m convinced it’s because we sabotage ourselves.   I felt so uncomfortable picking where I wanted to go on his birthday. 

I hate being late.  Hubby picked up the babysitter and then we sat for forty five minutes in the living room making small talk while Simon tapped on his computer.  Every ten minutes I suggested that we should leave now and my husband ignored me.  Finally we got in the car at 6.55, it’s a thirty minute journey into Portsmouth.   The parking is horrendous and doors open at 7.30.  What if I was suppose to read first?  I would have no time to calm down and relax.

The nerves started kicking in when he cheerfully asked if I had any cash.  But, not to worry, we would call at a cash point.  The orange empty fuel light blinked menacingly.  I silently fumed, well actually I complained loudly and vigorously, but you get the general idea. So when the SAT nav had taken us to the wrong address I was ready for a row.  It was obvious in my mind that my husband instead of telling me he didn’t want to go to Rosie’s had masterminded a plan to ruin the evening.

In the past I would have shouted forget it – an argument would start, and somehow we would have ended up at the cinema.

But this experiment is about breaking the pattern.  I say I want to be a writer.  Rosie’s is a fabulous place to go to practice that skill.  My husband is always late, never as cash on him and when he drives the orange light is always on.

It was time to admit that if I didn’t go to Rosie’s it would have been because I had chickened out and I was using him as an excuse.

Best part of the evening, listening to my husband rave about how good my story was and how proud he was of me.

Monday, February 6, 2012

A writer must make sacrifices

First act of supreme selfishness and I’m already feeling guilty.  It’s my husband’s birthday today.  I made him a cup of tea in bed, but since he opened his present on Sunday – a huge plastic tub that looks like it’s full of emulsion paint but is actually protein power.  And he’s had his birthday meal, a Chinese in Fareham on Saturday.  It felt like a bit of a non event, I didn’t put early as much effort in or go OTT like I usually do. 

So with a sitter booked we should be going to watch A Man on a Ledge at the cinema.  It wouldn’t be such a hardship, I fancy seeing it myself.  But a writer must make sacrifices, and why should they be their own?

My husband’s birthday treat is going to The Live Short Story Evening at Rosie’s Wine Bar in Portsmouth.  You get six minutes to read your story and the top three stories win a cash prize.  My writers group went last year and I came second.  I’m not a gracious winner and I was doing my victory dance and demanding someone take a picture of me and my loot, when one of the ladies from the group suggested I only won because the group voted for me.  So although members of my writing group know and have been invited along to Rosie’s tonight, I haven’t pushed the event. 

Plus I also know that Margaret who is an amazing writer will be there, so it will be harsh competition tonight.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Turning Worm

The big 4 – 0, this is my year.  The year I’m going to put myself first.  My short term goal to get my work in print again, long term goal get a publishing deal.  It is forty five days since my birthday and I have only just started on my blog.

Today’s excuses include my youngest child wanting to have her friend over.  In fact both nine years old behaved beautifully and I didn’t hear a peep out of them all day. 

But instead of writing myself I spent the afternoon listening to my oldest child read her stories out so she could enter the children’s writing competition on Chris Evans Breakfast Show on Radio 2.  The second competition she was desperate to enter was for child writers on the Tesco’s Goodness Range.  Again I listened to what she read, waited while she edited her work again and again and then listened some more.  Once again I knew exactly how Mrs Large felt in Five Minutes Peace! Now my eleven year is sitting in a self righteous aura watching Flash Gordon, after doing something to put her dreams into action.  Oh and now she’s decided she isn’t feeling well.

I want to enter a story in The Writers Magazine, deadline 15th of February and it’s not nearly edited well enough.  But the worm is going to turn.