Monday, 16 April 2018

Nose to the Grindstone

Many of you will already know about Grindstone. For a while now, I've been entering writing comps on its site, because they are reasonably priced, they don't go on for ever and the results are posted promptly. Best of all, though, everyone who enters gets feedback on what they submitted. I've yet to be a winner, but I have received some very useful comments on my submissions.

I'm mentioning this because Grindstone has had a face lift and has a new website that makes it easier to enter competitions and promises to offer all sorts of other useful stuff for writers. If you're interested, you can find the site here.

I have a story that's been sitting around for a while that I'm going to refresh and enter into Grindstone's next comp. It's a tale I'm rather fond of, but as yet I haven't been able to find a home for it. I hope there's nothing fundamentally wrong with it - but no doubt the team at Grindstone will tell me if there is.

How old is too old for a story, do you think? When is it time to accept that it's never going to appear in print and simply let go of it?

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Work and research

Where I'll be this afternoon
Mr Thorley was on holiday last week, so my normal routine was set aside in favour of lunches out and general skiving. The weather made it very easy to sit about. We both wondered, though: is this what life will be like when he retires? Ground rules will need to be set, or nothing will get done!

Back to work with gusto this week. I covered an extra class at the gym yesterday - 22 people in the group! It was interesting for me, because it was a fresh audience, and, I hope, for them, because they were expecting Pilates and I gave them yoga. Nobody left; I'll take that as a win.

Last night I made my debut as a speaker for the Northants Authors group, when I gave a talk on research for writers to a small but appreciative audience. My main tip was that you need to set a time limit or you could spend the whole day faffing about. Start looking for background information on scullery maids and before you know where you are you're watching Downton Abbey on YouTube.

There were two other speakers. One gave a chilling account of having his fingers burned twice by publishers going out of business; the other spoke about marketing. I thought I was pretty clued up about this, but it seems there are things I'm missing - for instance, I haven't linked this blog to Tumblr.

Today promises editing at home this morning, an in-house meeting with one of my long-term clients this afternoon, then teaching yoga this evening. Never a dull moment!

Friday, 30 March 2018

Breathing space

When you're self-employed, Bank Holidays can be a good time to catch up with admin, secure in the knowledge that any clients with 'proper jobs' won't be interrupting you. That's what I'm doing this morning, pottering about and shuffling papers; but the rest of the weekend will be dedicated to relaxation and restoration, whatever the weather throws at me.

Mr Thorley has reported sorrowfully that according to his allotment spreadsheet (don't judge), we are already a month behind compared to last year's planting schedule. The old adage about watching the weather not the calendar has never been truer. The lack of onion sets in the ground is the talk of the field, I can tell you! Nevertheless, he has gone off this morning, with his spade over his shoulder, to do 'something'.

So while it's peaceful at home, I'm going to take a look at some short stories I have lurking. I was one of the short-listed writers in the Words Magazine Short Story, so that tale needs moving from the 'can't be used' file to the 'needs a home' file. Then I shall return to my Lee Child book. I can't get enough of this writer.

Have a lovely weekend, folks.

Friday, 23 March 2018

Strutting and fretting again

Image copyright Pamula Furness
I mentioned briefly on Monday that this evening I shall be involved in a performance. We're calling it a 'sharing', because that's what it is. We (that is, Deep Roots Tall Trees Dancetheatre) have been working on a piece we have devised ourselves under the guidance of our choreographer Neil Paris and we have invited friends and family to come and see what we've been up to all this time.

The project began in September when we visited a local redundant church. We explored the space (as we say in showbusiness), and devised movements and storylines based on the architecture and the history of the building. We also created some fictional characters. I was intrigued by the harmonium in the corner of the church and wondered if the person who played it realised that the church was going to close. One thing led to another and some of this woman's tale has been incorporated into the performance.

'Harmonium' will be performed at the Rooftop Arts Centre in Corby for one night only. I have written a little about the background to the project and an extended version of Catherine's story and popped it up as an e-booklet in the Amazon store here.

Tomorrow I shall be mostly lying in a darkened room.

Monday, 19 March 2018

One week on

I try not to leave it a week between posts, but the last seven days have been a bit of a blur, what with household admin and chores, trying to earn a living and, you know, stuff. I did a bit of extra teaching last week, which took a big chunk of my time and rehearsals for a performance this Friday are picking up. Have I told you about this? Can't remember: more anon.

Anyway, there were a couple of happy publication results last week. I have an article in the current issue of Country Smallholding and I've had a short story accepted by You magazine. This latter is particularly pleasing, as it's been with them nearly a year! I also had a productive meeting with the publisher I'm working with on my yoga book.

I had a good day on Saturday at a yoga workshop (details here), then on Sunday I was privileged to be a judge at the Performance Awards of the Open Stage Performing Arts Company in Northampton. Students from age three to adult took part in dancing, singing and drama. The drama students performed monologues, which as you know are dear to my heart. It was a lovely do, and I came home with a splendid goody-bag that included the items above - and some chocolate that is no longer available to be photographed.

I wonder what this week will bring?

Monday, 12 March 2018

Gather round, ladies and gents!

I had a curious response to an email last week. Someone asked me to send them my CV, something I've not done for ages. Assuming that this person didn't want to know where I went to school or how many GCSEs I had, I compiled a note of my editorial and writing experience and achievements and sent it off.

My email was acknowledged, but its sender said: 'I call that pushy.' Is it me, or is that a bit odd? Mr Thorley said the sender had probably been in a hurry and had inadvertently clicked 'Reply' and sent me a message intended for someone else. Perhaps, but I'm bemused by the whole thing. I shan't be responding, but will wait and see.

It's a fine line between acceptable marketing and blatant self-promotion. That notwithstanding, I feel moved to say I now have my own page on the Northants Authors website, here. Do take a look, if you have a moment, not just at my page, but also the whole site. I'd be interested to know your thoughts and to learn if any of you are involved in such collective-style promotion, writers or otherwise.

Monday, 5 March 2018

Changing my point of view


One of the benefits of being snowbound is that I've been able to be aimless without feeling as though I should be doing something constructive with my time. I'm not a great artist, but I am quite partial to a spot of colouring. I always have been: I'm not one of those Jill-come-latelys who has jumped on the recent adult colouring book bandwagon. (There's more on this on my yoga blog here.)

My current book is a collection of Magnificent Creatures from The Works, and I've just started on what I'm quite sure is a stylised giraffe (left). However, Mr Thorley, looking at the image from the other way round, declared it to be of a mournful crayfish, with what were originally nostrils now becoming sad eyes - and I have to concede he might have a point (right).

Now I'm wondering if perhaps I should have turned the picture upside-down. At the very least, The Mournful Crayfish will make a great name for a fictional pub in one of my short stories.