Friday 31 May 2013

What Have I Let Myself in For? - Read My Story in Fiction Feast

Another 'Inspiration Behind the Story'.

First I need to make one thing clear - I hate camping!

In my story 'What Have I let Myself in For' which has just been published in this months Take a Break Fiction Feast, my heroine is still in the stage of her relationship where she will do almost anything in order to prove her worth to her boyfriend. I tried to put myself in her shoes and think of what I would hate to do but would go through in order to please someone I liked at the beginning of a relationship and came up with two answers - camping and horse riding.

What don't I like about camping?

  • Wet tarpaulin
  • Toilet blocks
  • No hair dryer
  • No privacy

I could go on, but I won't bore you. Having decided that my heroine was going to have to endure a camping expedition, I though about what would make this experience even worse and that's where the horse riding came in. Don't get me wrong, horses are lovely as long as I they are behind a fence and I don't have to sit on one.

The experience my heroine has while on a trek, is a real experience that happened to me - one of the most terrifying of my life. It was something that happened when I was a student in Plymouth. The only difference is that unlike the girl in the story, I didn't actually fall off my horse after it jumped the ditch but got off and refused to get back on... I was in the middle of Dartmoor. It was only after the trek leader attached my horse to his with a leading rein that I agreed to get back on!

It's has been a good week with two sales to Fiction Feast and one to The People's Friend - this will probably signal a fallow period, so I shall celebrate while I can.

Monday 27 May 2013

Eight Go Wild in Broadchurch

It's funny because when I organised the annual girls walking weekend in Dorset, I had no idea that the place where we were based - West Bay- was the setting for the fantastic drama series Broadchurch, starring the lovely David Tennant. If you missed it, you missed a treat.
This is the cute little harbour at West Bay.
Here is the police station which featured in the series.
 Was this where the murder took place?
I think the body is still there underneath the cliffs! (see guy in blue top)
On Saturday we managed the coastal walk from Charmouth to West Bay.
And we managed the climb up Golden Cap - just!
No writing done but we had a lot of laughs along the way and I have a wealth of material for stories. I can relax now and let someone else organise next year's trip.

Tuesday 21 May 2013

Read my Story Ida's Bench in The People's Friend

 My short story Ida's Bench is in this month's People's Friend Fiction Special. Usually I have a tale to tell you about the inspiration behind it but with this one the story just told itself.

Around the beautiful West Sussex countryside, you will see many benches dedicated to the people who have loved a particular view or who in their lifetime enjoyed walking that particular path. Ida's bench is one such bench on the Sussex downs. I shall direct you to Tracy's blog post where she has posted a photograph of one such bench and unbeknownst to her, it may even have been Ida's bench.
I knew I wanted to write about Ida's story and why she loved to sit on her bench, but decided to place her bench overlooking the sea instead of the Downs. It was one of those stories that was written in a sitting, the ideas tumbling out. It doesn't happen very often, but when it does it is a wonderful feeling. Luckily the fiction editor liked it.
The only disappointing thing is that the illustration in The Friend didn't show a bench, which I think was a great shame as it is, after all, the title of the story. Still, the story is one of my favourites and I am thrilled to have had it published.
These are the pigs that I pass on my walk to Ida's bench. The pig farm covers quite a large area of the South Downs. Some think it an eyesore but I love it, especially when there are hundreds of piglets.
You can just see the town where I live in the distance.

Wednesday 15 May 2013

Nine Months Gestation

Before anyone gets any ideas, I haven't got something to tell you! (especially having just spent the day at Butlins with my three grandchildren). I just wanted to say that I have gone against the norm and I am still here blogging. 

Apparently 95% of all bloggers give up - the average blogging life being 9 months.

I am pleased to have just reached that milestone - I am still nurturing my baby but it is growing nicely. I want to thank all my lovely readers and followers for making it all worthwhile. It has been an adventure and your kind comments have been gratefully received.

I am looking forward to my blogs first birthday in three months time.

Friday 10 May 2013

Writing That Great First Line

Over at Womag Writer's Blog, I found a link to a great recording on the BBC website. It's by Tim Key and is called Suspended Sentence. Basically it is the dos and don'ts of how to write a great first sentence. I won't go into details today as you can hear the recording yourself and I want to wait and maybe do a longer post after I have been to the Woman's Weekly Workshop with Tracy on June 7 where one of the workshops will be on how to create a great first line.

If you don't manage to hear the broadcast, I would like to share with you some of the lovely quotes about first lines. Here are a few: 

A first sentence is a tiny taste of what might be in store; t is the pistol shot at the beginning of a sprint race.

Knowing you've written a good first sentence is the moment when the words come together in the right order in the right place.

If you get the first sentence right, you have 95% of your author's job finished.

Finally my favourite from Tim Key - A bad first line is like bad breath!

After listening to the broadcast, I had another look at the first sentence of the story I was writing and realised it did everything it was supposed NOT to do! It was too long, had too much description and contained no action or dialogue - needless to say, it is now changed.

I then had a look at the opening sentences of a small selection of my published stories to see whether a pattern emerged. This is what I found:

Only three days to go and this was the most excited Theresa had been since, well if she was quite honest with herself, she wasn’t sure when.
“You’re always so negative.” Cara said tossing the magazine at her friend.

“What can you see?” Ruby said, peering through the frosting of the door’s glass panel.

“What a tangled mess!”
The word appears slowly.
Val sat on the bar stool and watched her husband at the hob.


“I’m worried about Mum.”

June smoothed out the small, crumpled piece of paper onto the table in front of her with her index finger.
I found it interesting to look back at my stories like this. I had thought that I usually started with speech but in fact found that there was no real pattern to my first lines - it didn't really tell me anything!
I would love you to share any first lines that you've been particularly pleased with.

Sunday 5 May 2013

Have You Beaten Biggins!

It was mentioned on my local radio this week that Christopher Biggins has sold under 3000 copies of his latest autobiography Just Biggins.

I am rather fond of the chap, having seen him win I'm a Celebrity and having had the pleasure of him sitting behind me during a performance of Les Miserables in London and hearing him laugh his way rather loudly through both acts.

In an age where you expect the celebrity (be it A or C list) to have the edge over unknowns, I was surprised to hear of the poor sales..

Anyway, I was just wondering if any of you have managed to beat Biggins in traditional print or digital format. If you have, you can be an honorary wearer of an imaginary 'I Beat Biggins' T-shirt. (I'm afraid those who are current holders of my 'I've Been Rejected' T-shirt won't be eligible (as it will be hard to get one over the top of the other!)