Wednesday 28 May 2014

Breaking into Serials

Most of you who are regular readers of my blog will know that I have written a serial for The People's Friend (waiting to be published) and have another that has been passed by Shirley, the Fiction Editor, and is now awaiting final approval by Angela, the magazine editor (bites nails).

If anyone fancies having a go at breaking into this type of magazine writing, I, along with fellow serial writers Cara Cooper and Jennie Bohnet am featured in an article in this month's Writers' Forum giving advice on how to do just that.

Rather than reinvent the wheel, I would thoroughly recommend a read of Cara's two blog posts on the subject here and here. In her posts she writes in great detail about her own experiences of writing a serial.

When I first decided to try my hand at writing one, I read previous posts that Cara had written on the subject and subsequently had success with my own serial - thanks Cara! So I am proof that her advice is worth reading.

Friday 23 May 2014

Makes You Think...

We have just got back from a fabulous weekend in Bruges. The weather was perfect and we spent a lot of time meandering the streets, soaking up the atmosphere and then stopping for Belgium beer in the market square. I have been to this wonderful city before, but it was the first time for my husband - and it's a city I never tire of.

We stayed in a small hotel near the centre and this was the view from our hotel window - it was where we ate our breakfast each morning.

And this is the belfry in the market square. To see the amazing view from the top, you have to climb 366 steps up a narrow winding staircase. Those of you who read my post on our Lake District holiday will know what happens when I try to do anything that involves heights and so does my husband... it involves shaking and crying. so why did I do it?
... because of this view of course!
Obviously I had to visit this sweet shop to recover from the experience.
While we were there, we decided to spend a day touring the Flanders Field battlefields as it is the centenary of WW1 and I have written a few magazine stories about it )which will be published later in the year.) I urge anyone who hasn't done a visit like this to do so. We visited both British and German cemeteries along with important places associated with the war such as the Menin Gate at Ypres and Hill 60. We also saw the grave of a fifteen year old soldier who lied about his age.

 He was the same age as my step-son... very sobering.

Tuesday 13 May 2014

Making Friends Through 'The People's Friend'

Not only is The People's Friend a lovely magazine to write for, it also brings people together. Recently, I found out that I share an editor at The Friend with a writer who lives near me. If you are a reader of (or writer for) this magazine, her name will be familiar to you.

Alison Carter has been writing stories for magazines for the last ten years and her name crops up regularly in many of the magazines. As you can imagine, being a relatively new writer (in comparison) I had many questions I wanted to ask. Lots of information was swapped, lots of coffee was drunk and lots of cake was eaten. One thing I found out was that Alison writes twice as much in a day as I do. I gasped when she told me she had written four thousand words in a few hours yesterday (I had felt pleased with one and a half) but she did assure me that my writing would get quicker over the years - I certainly hope so!

Most of you know about my writing buddy Tracy Fells (competition queen and owner of a large rucksack) and when we get together over teacakes once a month, we talk about a huge range of writerly things. With Alison, we spent two and a half hours just talking about womag writing. Imagine how boring that must have sounded to the people on the other tables... but not to us!

As luck would have it, both Alison and I are in this month's People's Friend Fiction Special. My story, Spanish Idyll is a holiday read and Alison's story The House of Silence is historical.

After a lovely morning, Alison and I eventually went our separate ways and allowed the queue of customers to sit down (recognise this Tracy!)

I was going to end this post by shouting about the fact that I recently sold my 70th story but after hearing that Alison has sold over 400 I might just whisper it instead!

Sunday 4 May 2014

Bonnie's Lakeland Holiday

Every year, Bonnie takes us on holiday somewhere in England. This year, it was to the Lake District - she chose well, don't you think?

We are now back home and already I am thinking about our next visit to this absolute gem of a place. It was our fourth visit to the Langdale area (three times to Chapel Stile and once to Troutbeck) and it was only on our way home that we realised we are in danger of becoming the type of people we like to scoff at - those who go back to the same place, time after time. We've tried other parts of England, we really have - Devon, Somerset, Derbyshire in recent years, but after a while we get that itch to go back to the lakes again... just like we do when we haven't been on a canal boat for a while or to Greece.

This was the view for our window - it doesn't get much better than that.

I think it did me good to be away from the computer for a week and even mobile reception was sporadic. I had the idea that I wouldn't connect to the wifi at all for a week but after a couple of days I did succumb I'm afraid - in the same way that I succumbed to the chocolate Easter eggs we'd brought with us (is that why I put on weight despite walking 8 miles every day?)

The only bad thing that happened, while we were away, was when the path we were following, beside a waterfall, petered out leaving me scrabbling on a hillside of scree. I was not amused - in fact it's safe to say I cried (I don't like heights) when I found myself unable to go either up or down with the wind picking up and the vertigo setting in. Sometimes I wish I was braver.

Here is one of the fells we walked on. We didn't know what it was called, so we named it Tracy Fells after my very clever writing friend whose short story 'Household Gods' made the short-list of 2014 Commonwealth Writers Short Story Prize. The link is here.

I found I had sold a story to PF while I was away but, most importantly, the fresh air, exercise and peace recharged my batteries and I have come home with a head full of new stories just waiting to be written.