Sunday, 12 July 2015


I hate Marmite! Nasty smelly brown stuff. But I know full well that others love it. We all have different tastes when it comes to food, and so it is with writing. Sometimes I love what I do and others (editors and readers) love it too, and sometimes not!

My non-fiction articles July 2015
Take my non-fiction work, for example. This month I have had two articles published in pre-school professional magazines: The first one, for Practical Pre-School, was all about eggs, helping very young children to explore what they are, where they come from and what’s inside them. Now, I can honestly say that I hate eggs even more than I hate Marmite (Boiled, scrambled, poached, fried… I haven’t eaten one for well over fifty years), but the editor wanted 1500 words about them, so that’s what she got. At least I didn’t have to taste any!

The other article, for Child Care magazine, was about books. Now, what writer doesn’t want to write about books? This one was all about the fantastic annual Summer Reading Challenge, encouraging kids to go to their local library, pick up books and read them all through the long school holidays, with all sorts of rewards to collect and exciting activities to join in with at the same time. This year’s theme is record breakers, so there should be plenty of fun involved. If that article gets just one young family through the library doors who haven’t been there before, it’s been worth it.

My Peoples Friend story
Something else I love to write about is young romance, and my latest published short story, in The People’s Friend Special 109, is all about a girl who falls in love – not only with a young man but also with a house! I’d had to make a few changes to get this one accepted, and was a bit surprised to see that a few more had been made to the finished version without my knowledge, but the illustration fits the story perfectly and nobody but me will ever realise the story’s been tampered with, so no harm done.

This month’s ‘Marmite’ moments for me, when things have not gone quite so well, have been the rejections from editors – several for magazine short stories that didn’t quite make the grade, and a couple from publishing houses who had their reasons (each having a different reason, unfortunately) for not wanting to take on my latest novel. Of course, rejections are par for the course, and they haven’t stopped me banging out more words in the hope of a better outcome. Not as many as I had planned, with babysitting duties and lots of lovely sunny garden weather getting in the way, but any words are better than none, and the next novel is slowly and surely nearing completion.

Now to the good stuff: One of the really nice things about becoming a full-time writer is having the time and opportunity to meet others in the same boat and to learn more about the writing life, and during the last few weeks there have been three wonderful occasions for me to do just that.

At the London Chapter meeting of the Romantic Novelists Association on 20th June, after a lovely pub lunch, novelist Jean Fullerton gave a talk about nursing history and daily life in the East End in the 1950s, the backdrop to her successful Call Nurse Millie series, giving us insight into all the meticulous research that’s necessary to create an authentic historical novel, especially when it covers a 20th century period which readers can still remember - and will be sure to moan about if the author gets anything wrong!

Council members at the SWWJ AGM and Summer tea
Next on the agenda was the summer get-together and AGM of the SWWJ, held one sunny afternoon at the National Liberal Club in London, where a fine tea was on offer, along with the prize presentations to the winners of the Society’s recent poetry competition, and an interesting speech from the Deputy Editor of the old and much respected magazine Good Housekeeping. So nice to see so many members from all over the country in their finery, getting together for a chat and enjoying a very special social occasion.

Last, but far from least, was a visit to the House of Commons last week for a drinks reception on the terrace overlooking the Thames. By invitation of the All Party Parliamentary Writers Group, lots of writers, famous and not so famous, rubbed shoulders with others involved in and supportive of the writing life, including agents, MPs, and several Lords! Wine, delicious canap├ęs, inspiring speeches, glorious river views, and a sneaky nose around Parliament, from grand hall to gift shop, made for a very enjoyable afternoon.

There would have been a fourth writerly trip, to the annual RNA Conference, being held in London for the first time in several years, but I decided not to go in favour of staying at home to celebrate my husband’s birthday. Well, I can go to London any day of the week, and get there within the hour, so staying for a whole weekend wasn’t quite the draw it was for others. Nevertheless, I hear everyone had a fantastic time, and for me there’s always next year – when the Conference moves to Lancaster, a place I have never visited before. By then I may even be a fully-fledged published novelist!




Dr Henry Tegner said...

Just a quick one about your hatred of Marmite: Well, I don't think it's so bad, but I'll tell you something: if you have a cat, and if you move house, just rub some into his paws. He'll sit there a-licking them all day, and never a thought to trying to get back to his old pals back where you've moved from.

But maybe you don't have a cat. I like cats but would never have one as my small garden is full of song birds. Our neighbours have cats, but no birds. They come to our garden and sing to us because the feel safe here. If the neighbours cats come across our fence they get a squirt with the hose pipe. Just a little one mind. They soon get the message.

By the way, I had a piece published in People's Friend once. It was almost 60 years ago, when I won one of their children's competitions. The prize was a clockwork adding up machine, but it couldn't add for nuts!

Viv said...

Thanks for the response, Henry. Yes I do have 2 cats, but no immediate plans to move house. Thanks for the tip anyway! I write regularly for The People's Friend and am glad to say I get paid in real money these days, not clockwork toys!

Dr. kold_kadavr_flatliner, MD, the sub/dude said...
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