Friday, 19 November 2010

It's been two months since my last post...

Sounds like something I should be saying in the confession box!
Sometimes life just seems to get in the way of catching up on those little jobs you know you really should be doing - like updating this blog. It all comes down to having to work for a living. Without my day job I could afford the luxury of thinking, writing and blogging all day every day - unfortunately the thing I would not be able to afford to do would be to eat! And, of course, going out to work gives me the chance to meet and interview people and get ideas for the articles.
I have written on some really interesting subjects in recent weeks and the end results are popping up in Nov and Dec issues of several nursery mags - taking kids to the panto, making music with bottles, left-handedness, simple science with magnets, Road Safety Week, activities involving moving backwards and sideways, child bereavement, and hairdresser role play (for the under 5s, not something kinky that adults do with the straighteners!)
And I have been trying to sell copies of my great little granny book - about 25% of them have gone now, and the others are languishing in their box like moody teenagers reluctant to get out of bed, let alone leave home! But it's still early days.
Had a go at some more poetry for children in response to a request from MacMillan to send in stuff for a new Key Stage 1 anthology for schools.I have sent them five, on various subjects, so hopefully one or two might get into the book.
Oh, but I do miss the fiction - it's been taking a backseat to the commissioned non-fiction that pays the bills. I did win the Saturday challenge at Write Invite again last week though - my fourth win this year, and I am nestling nicely in the top 5 or 6 in their winners' league table. And Peoples Friend have sent me two more illustrations they need stories for, so these are now pinned to my wall and constantly staring at me in a menacing way until the inspiration arrives and I give them a suitable plot to make them go away.
If only I had the time to write the wonderful bestselling novel that's knocking away inside my head. It's all in there bursting to get out but... Of course, I have to make the time - just as soon as Strictly Come Dancing is over, Corrie have had the tram crash and I know for sure who dies (can't trust the rumours!), and I have done my Christmas shopping. Like I said, life sure does get in the way...

Friday, 17 September 2010

The book is ready!

My granny project has taken over my life in recent weeks, but it's finally ready. Some great little drawings by my daughter have finished it off beautifully. The book is small A5 handbag-size, with 40 pages crammed with stories and poems in celebration of grandmothers, and costs just £3. Orders happily taken now - just email me!

Sunday, 29 August 2010

In praise of Grannies!

Coming back home from another great writers holiday at Caerleon, I felt I was missing out - others there had their own books and pamphlets for sale, even if only self-published or self-produced. I want one! But not just a general one. I needed a theme to hold it together. So I have gathered together all my previously published stories about grandmas (grans seem to pop up a lot in my fiction), added a few poems, some written specially for this project, and I have compiled a little A5 size book, to be professionally printed, and for me to sell - hopefully a great Xmas present for people/kids to give to their grannies, as it's small, sentimental, and only costs £3. I took the cover photo myself, and my daughter is doing all the illustrations - a real family affair. And the theme is timeless, so I can take my time selling them, and hopefully will be able to take a few (the last few!) copies to next year's Welsh holiday.
On the more usual commercial front, I have had several more fiction successes with submissions to the Peoples Friend and Womans Weekly, so more stories are due for publication soon. And all my recent ideas for articles in my specialist area of pre-school and childcare (everything from magnets, hoops, 'walking backward' games, and road safety, to the history of panto) have been accepted, so I have a steady stream of paid pieces to work on right up to Xmas.
I am also still loving the regular Saturday half-hour challenge that is Write- - and, having won it three times this year already, I have settled in at a fairly constant 3rd in their league table of entrants' successes. This competition really does challenge the brain to think, plan and write quickly, with no time to dither or change your mind, and hardly even time to check for spelling mistakes! If you haven't tried it yet, give it a go. It only costs £3 to enter, with 3 new themes to pick from every Saturday at 5.30pm.
The Mail on Sunday announced their annual opening to a novel winner today, plus details of the next competition, to write the opening 50-150 words of a novel to include the word SET. I didn't make the final 6 this year, but it's free to enter, and great publicity and a wonderful confidence/ego boost if you win (which I did , way back in 1993/4), so I will be having another try. There's nothing to lose, but then that's true of so many writing opportunities - you can't get published if you don't send stuff out there! I just can't understand those writers who are too scared to give it a go. Fear of rejection? We've all had them, and still do - but the first success makes all the earlier disappointments worthwhile, and every career has to start with those first few nervously placed faltering steps. I am so glad I never gave up! My Granny would have been proud of me - so my little book is dedicated to her memory.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Here comes Summer!

Despite the weather being so changeable, I am all geared up for Summer. Lots of commissioned childcare articles to work on right up to Christmas (including such diverse topics as learning with buttons, playing with ice, dressing up races, and children's poems). I'm getting lots of new fiction ideas too and have submitted a few finished stories in recent weeks. My Weekly used a story of mine in the 22 May issue, and PF have a few yet to appear in print. And I won the Saturday Write Invite competition again a couple of weeks back, and have been sitting comfortably in the top 4 in their weekly winners league tables for months!

My article about writing, perfecting and selling short fiction and poems made it into Writing Magazine for June, and I am still getting away with the very flattering pic of me they have on file. One day I will have to send a more recent one - proving I am getting older and wider (yes, I do mean wider, and not necessarily wiser!)

Got commended in the annual poetry comp run by the Society of Women Writers and Journalists, which I am pleased about as the entrants are all professonals so standards are high. The 'poem a day' challenge idea just didn't work - for me anyway. The one thing it did achieve was to get me writing a poem - yes, just one - on Day one, but it was a good one, and I edited and tweaked for several days until I had produced what I think is one of my best ever. It's gone into a competition. And I managed one other poem which I quite liked, and which won me the monthly challenge on the Writers News members talkback site for June, so mission more or less accomplished! I hosted another poetry evening in a library last week too, which went well. And am taking part in the annual Poetic Republic onlne competition again, where all entrants are the judges. Just waiting for mid-June to come around to see if I have made the final shortlist and if not whether I like any of those that have -last year produced some excellent finalists.

I will be attending the SWWJ summer lunch/AGM tomorrow, so lots of writer friends to catch up with. And then off to Caerleon in July for some great entertainment, enlightenment, fun and food!!

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Joined the challenge to write a poem a month in April!

Give it a try. Just join up and take the pledge at
Some (or most)of my 30 poems may turn out to be rubbish but you never know until you try - and I just might make myself write at least one gem!

Friday, 12 March 2010

Spring is coming!

Well, it's March already and the weather is definitely getting warmer. Everything seems more positive and fun when the sun shines!

Fiction: I have just had a story accepted by Liz Smith at My Weekly - the first one I have sent them since their new rules came in a few years back. To be honest, I had almot forgotten I'd submitted it, the response was so slow, but it's a yes, so all is forgiven! It's good to be getting back into successful short story writing. I even won the Write Invite Saturday 30-minute competition last week, with another £40 prize on its way. At the fiction editor's request, I am also having a go at writing some stories for The People's Friend to go with some illustrations -they have a few in stock and need stories to match. One already done, and I'm pleased with it. Using short phrases/themes (as in Write Invite) or pictures as prompts certainly makes me think up some original ideas I would not otherwise have come up with.

Poetry: I hosted my second poetry evening in a local library last month - great fun and surprisingly well supported by people of all ages - from 10 to 80. Poetry is alive and well in Ruislip! I came second in the Writing Magazine ghost poem competition, and the poem is in the April issue with some incredibly flattering comments from the judge - worth more than the £50 prize, in self-esteem alone.

Non-fiction: This area of my work just grows and grows, with 2 or 3 of my articles in every issue of Child Care at the moment, one sold to Nursery World to celebrate 100 years in June since the first ever Fathers Day, and I have been asked to write some practical activities pages for another magazine called Practical Preschool. I enjoy non-fiction more than I ever expected to. It's very structured, needs thought and research, and is just as creative as other forms of writing in its own way... and it brings in a good regular income.

Looking ahead: to the next Writers Holiday in caerleon in July. Paid my deposit, booked my courses, and looking forward to seeing old friends and meeting new ones. Can't wait!!

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

January 2010 A new year a new start!

Happy New Year!
Having put my 'failed' novel behind me, things can only get better! And I do have an idea for another. I'm just waiting for it to reach the point where it will grab me by the throat and tell me to start writing! Another writer has now taken up the Writers Forum Book Deal or Bust challenge, with a monthly column following her progress, so good luck to her.
My 'choosing your writing name' article is in January's Writing Magazine, and I have just heard that I am the runner up in their ghost poem competition (to be published in a few months). Lots of non-fiction commissions to work on, including one about using puppets and another celebrating Fathers Day, so I am keeping busy.
Write Invite continues to provide the weekly timed challenge I need to make me write fiction, and I finished the year 7th in their league table with one win and five second places, so quite pleased with that. I will certainly keep doing it every Saturday for a while yet.
The radio interview was great - I missed its broadcast (I live in the wrong area and nobody told me a date!) but I was able to hear it online. It may even still be there (express fm). They changed some of my music choices, but the interview itself sounded good. And the poetry cafe in the library was a great success with people aged ten to eighty taking part, many reading their own work for the first time. I have been asked to compere another in a different local library in February. I do love my poetry - if only it paid more!!!