Monday, 11 February 2019

Let thy speech be better than silence...*

I was in Northampton on Thursday evening for the presentation of the H E Bates Short Story Competition prizes. It was a lovely evening, but unfortunately only one of the four winners was there, which meant the other three top stories were read out by members of the organising committee. They did a fine job, but I couldn't help wondering how much better it would have been to hear from the writers themselves.

It's not easy to read someone else's words (unless you're a proper actor, of course); nor is it easy to hear someone else read yours. In the introduction to Nine Lives, my book of monologues, I invite people to perform them wherever they like and say: 'You will see I have included a note with each to describe the person I had in mind as I wrote the story; but if you hear a different voice, that's fine with me.' As it turns out, I find it quite hard to sit and watch someone perform as one of 'my' characters in the 'wrong' voice!

What do you think? Have you ever had your words performed by someone else? If so, how did it feel? Do you guard your characters jealously?


*... or be silent (Dionysius of Halicarnassus)

Friday, 1 February 2019

Bad news for some writers; good news for me!

This is just a quick post, because today has been set aside to get on with writing that book.

Many of my writer friends will have seen that Spirit & Destiny mag is now taking all rights from its fiction contributors. There are, of course, plenty of people who will still submit and be happy with a one-off reward, whether this be through naivety or conscious decision-making. The only story I ever submitted to S&D was rejected, but I'm still sad that it's following Woman's Weekly down this path. Who's next, I wonder.

A bit of good news for me (she says, full of her own importance) is that my winning entry in the Senior Travel Expert 'heritage' competition is now online here. Do take a look, if you have a mo.

Stay warm, folks!


Friday, 25 January 2019

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the bookshop...

Cinderella, as portrayed by Disney in 1950
... E L James has a new book coming out, The Mister, which she describes as a '21st-century Cinderella - a passionate, erotic love story'. The lead characters are aristocrat Maxim Trevelyan and and young Englishwoman Alessia Demachi. Of course they are.

I read a bit of 50 Shades: enough to know it wasn't for me. I saw a bit of the film, too: again, enough to know it wasn't for me - but oh, how it made me laugh. I don't get it. Who buys this stuff? I can understand buying the first one out of curiosity, but to go back for the other two? Like I said: I don't get it.

You've got to hand it to ELJ, though. She had an idea and ran with it. She timed it right, got lucky and hasn't let up since. She's probably a perfectly nice woman - and she certainly won't give a damn what I think.

I'm just envious of her success, aren't I?


Thursday, 17 January 2019

Cover notes

Back in 2012, I published a small e-book on Amazon, partly because I had something to say, but partly because I wanted to see how easy/difficult it was. The Little Guide to Teaching Yoga in a Gym served the purpose and sold reasonably well, too, so it was a useful exercise.

At time time, because I didn't know any better, I designed - and I use the word loosely - the cover myself, thus:


Now, I've revised and updated the content and republished it, again as an e-book, but this time I've used the services of Shar at www.fiverr.com. She also did the cover for Nine Lives and she is really quick and great to work with. I'm sure you'll agree that what she has produced is much better than my humble effort:


So that's it: I'm not a cover designer, but fortunately I know someone who is, and it's worth paying for a job well done.

The Little Guide to Teaching Yoga in a Gym is available from Amazon for just 99p.



Friday, 11 January 2019

Making up my mind

I've spent a lot of time this week reading other people's short stories in my role as a competition judge. I've done this before and it's always a privilege, but it's also very difficult.

How do I compare, sci-fi with romance, humour with horror? How do I stop myself choosing a story that is to my taste, but not necessarily the best written? Indeed, should I?

Then there is the question of entries that are beautifully written, but not, to my mind, stories: that is to say, they read more like extracts from a bigger piece of work. Am I judging the quality of the writing from a technical point of view or is the tale itself the most important element?

The answer to all these questions is, of course, that it's up to me. I've been asked to judge, but that only means to give my opinion; and this is the case with all competitions. So if you're slogging away submitting entries and rarely or never walking away with the prize, this doesn't mean you're not a good writer. Judging is subjective. Another panel might have picked you - and may well do so next time.


Thursday, 3 January 2019

Best foot forward

Inspired by my fellow blogger Maria over at First Draft Cafe and my real-life friend Debs, I have signed up to walk 1,000 miles this year. Not all in one go, obviously. It averages out at just under 3 miles a day, which is an hour-ish. It should be feasible, shouldn't it?

Should you wish to join me, there's lots of information on the website here. The project is in association with Country Walking magazine and is, of course, a nifty way to get us all reading it (though you don't have to buy a copy to join in).

I see, too, that the adverts have started to encourage us to whip out our binoculars and join in the Big Garden Birdwatch at the end of the month;  I've started a 30-day online yoga programme, too. There really is no excuse for sitting about.

Well, I don't know about you, but I could do with some of these motivational opportunities at the end of February, after I've endured all those cold winter days when it barely seems to get light and it's as much as I can do to get out of bed! If you'd all be kind enough to make a note in your diaries to give me a virtual kick up the backside in eight weeks' time it would be much appreciated.

Tuesday, 1 January 2019

A puzzling time

Well, it's New Year's Day, so, in keeping with Thorley tradition, the decorations are down and the hostess trolley has gone back in the loft for another year. Order has been restored, so that can only mean one thing: it's time to start the new jigsaw.

Guidelines for successful and harmonious jigsaw completing

  1. Measure the table before you start, and allow generous margins all round for elbows.
  2. No dangly sleeves allowed. Woe betide he who lifts an interlocking section from the table with his cuff.
  3. No food or drink allowed on the table.
  4. On opening the box, any pieces that are already joined together must be separated and returned to the pool to be rediscovered individually at the appropriate time.There are those people who celebrate pre-connected pieces. These people are wrong. These same delinquents will pause the TV to give themselves longer to solve the Countdown Conundrum and Google the answers to a cryptic crossword.
  5. The search for pieces must begin with edges and, especially, corners. Note that Rule 4 applies. 
  6. Only the owner of the puzzle may insert the final piece. NB It is never funny to hide this and then reveal it with feigned surprise at its discovery after everyone else has spent an hour on their hands and knees looking for it.
 Have fun!