Thursday, 17 January 2019

Library Humour

The stereotype of a Librarian as staid, dour and frowning upon noise of any kind is a classic trope of film and fiction.

Display at Tavistock Library
Photo: Stephen Lloyd
But follow various libraries on Twitter and you will find that is far from the truth. Accounts such as @OrkneyLibrary will soon alter your view and convince you that librarians have a very good sense of humour.

I particularly look forward to their Bookface photographs, always intending to create one of my own. Tales of Booky McBookface, their travelling library van, are the stuff of legend. And the song lyrics they replicate using various book titles are ingenious.

In stark contrast to such levity, Tavistock Library is embracing the darker side. In October 2019 they are playing host to Tavistock’s ‘first Gothic and Neo-Gothic Celebration, including Literature, Art, Architecture, Theatre, Film and Creative Fun.’ As part of that event there is to be a short story and poetry competition which I thought I might enter.

Later today I am travelling to Devon to visit my brother. While there I hope to do some research into local mythology to provide me with suitable background knowledge.

Thanks to Tavistock Library for letting me use this
photograph of their bodice-ripper display.
Mind you, when not embroiled in the gothic, the folks @tavilibrary have a keen sense of humour too. Having had fun with their “Have you seen my shirt?” display, they promised a similar collection of bodice-ripper fiction under the title “Anyone know a good seamstress?”. 

Does anyone have more examples of library humour?

Monday, 7 January 2019

Keep it up!

Photo: The People’s Friend, used with my article
“A History of Women’s Football” published Nov 2014
2019 has only just begun, the ink on the New Year Resolutions barely dry. It is too soon to celebrate the long-term successes, or bewail the failure, of those good intentions. 

In general terms my resolutions for the year are: to blog regularly; write everyday; aim to have something published every month; to join a critique group.

A philosophical take on the prompt “swing”
Let me share what I have begun.

Blog regularly: Well, here I am, blogging! Week one achieved.

Write everyday: #vss365 Each morning I have written a tweet-length very short story using the daily prompt. It’s a good warm-up exercise. Six days achieved, only 359 to go.

Paragraph Planet, 4th January 2019.
Publication: Paragraph Planet publishes a different 75 word story every day. In the past I aimed for one per month, and for a while was successful but then let my submissions slip. My first submission of 2019, made on 1st January, was published on the 4th. Eleven more needed.

Critique group - I have reconnected with some experienced writing buddies and have already shared my first story, and received some helpful suggestions. Achieved!

Now all I need to do is keep up the good work.

Monday, 31 December 2018

Just in time

Just in time...
It is the last day of December: time to reflect on 2018 before the midnight chimes sound the death knell of the old year and a new year begins. 
I’ve not written as much as I had planned this time last year. But I have written. And I have started to submit my work again. I count that as a good thing. 

I have seen stories published in Woman’s Weekly Fiction Special and the Yours 2019 Annual.
Several of my letters have been printed in various magazines.
I have had a couple of shoutouts in the Mslexia subscribers’ newsletter, littlems.
I was a runner-up in a competition run by Writers’ Forum which resulted in a sale.

Writing friends:
In June I visited Helen and Mike Walters at their glorious Solus Or Writing Retreat.
In August I went to the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School where I met several writing buddies, both old and new.

My desk at Solus Or with its incredible view
New Year plans:
I hesitate to state in a public forum exactly what I hope to achieve in 2019. Real life too often intervenes to knock us off our chartered course. I have though privately committed some intentions to paper to give me a focus.

I definitely want to write more, submit more, enter more competitions, and be published more often. 

I intend to return to Solus Or.

I hope also to return to Swanwick.

Happy New Year to all and may all your writing dreams come true in 2019.

Saturday, 22 December 2018

I’m Hired!

As a writer we become accustomed to rejections. They still bite, but over time the feeling is more of an annoying nip rather than feeling as though your lovingly crafted work has been chewed up and spat out.

Applying for jobs also brings its share of rejections. Over the last nine years I’ve been turned down more than a hundred times. As time has gone by I’ve become more sanguine at accepting the ‘nos’ and apart from a couple of temporary positions got on with enjoying my life in less structured ways.

Yesterday I received three emails that all began “I write with reference to your application for the above post and regret to inform you that your application has been unsuccessful on this occasion”.

But then I received a fourth email that read “(Redacted) has advised me that she would like to offer you a position at the (redacted) Library”. 

So there you have it. I have been offered a part-time job on a permanent contract. It’s perfect for me - just two days a week, working in a library, and being paid for the privilege.

But how will this affect my writing? I hope it will impact in a good way. I certainly wrote more often during the time I worked full-time in Boots four Christmases ago. Having only a limited time in which to write can concentrate the mind.

And as an extra encouragement I can report that two stories ‘wot I wrote’ are in the Yours 2019 Annual currently on sale. It’s good to be in print again.

Monday, 10 December 2018

Hi Ho, Silver Linings

Nine years ago my life changed overnight. The firm I was working for closed suddenly. My daily routine and purpose for getting up in the morning was taken away.
But there was a plus side. Forced redundancy meant I had more time to spend with my husband who had already retired. 

I applied for many jobs but, apart from the occasional temping opportunity and Christmas season retail positions, nobody wanted to employ me. 
But I signed up to a creative writing course and found that I loved it.

I missed daily camaraderie with my office colleagues.
But I discovered the welcoming world of the writing community.

The very first story I wrote during that course was published last year. It is in ‘Paws for Thought’, an ebook anthology which includes many excellent stories from some of my new friends in the writing community, many of whom are well-known and much respected authors. I am humbled to be in such good company.

And what is even better, all proceeds from the sale of the book are in support of the RSPCA, Halifax and Huddersfield branch. It costs only £2.99. You can buy a copy here. Please do. You will help our furry friends going through hard times find their silver lining.

Thursday, 8 November 2018

Grammar Grump

Look away now if you are of a sensitive disposition. You may find these photographs disturbing.

A gift for that special someone you really want to annoy?
Like many of my writerly friends, using correct spelling and grammar is important to me.

The office joke was to warn folks not to leave their shopping lists lying about as I would amend them. I’m sure I wasn’t really that bad (was I?) but I admit to rubbing errant apostrophes off chalk boards in caf├ęs.

M&Co making sure your stationery
never leaves the desk.
I try very hard not to make mistakes in my own writing although sometimes I fail. Inevitably I spot one 10 minutes after hitting ‘send’ on a submission.

But when I come across glaring errors on commercial products and posters it does upset me. Words are the tools with which we communicate. Surely those involved in the signwriting, graphics and advertising businesses should get it right?

Sunday, 21 October 2018

Fairy Tales

Fairytale toadstool
(Amanita Muscaria,
Fly Agaric - highly toxic)
I have a story published in the November edition of Woman’s Weekly Fiction Special. It’s the tale of Ashley, a lowly gardener who finally wins the heart of the college girl who he had thought was too good for him.

It is based on the classic Cinderella tale. With a change of gender Cinders became Ash, a change of occupation kitchen skivvy became gardener, the good fairy became his best mate who thinks of a way for Ash to gatecrash the masked ball, the midnight chimes became a call on Ashley’s mobile and the glass slipper became a scrap of card dropped from his pocket as he ran away. 

(Photograph by Readly)
Last Wednesday on the Twitter #writingchat discussion (8pm every week, all writers welcome) we talked about rewriting stories. Tweaking our own stories is something that many short story writers do, adapting a rejected story to meet the guidelines of a different publication. 

Rewriting someone else’s story is another matter entirely. There is of course no copyright to a storyline and on the basis that there are only a limited number of plots some similarities are inevitable. But how much has to be changed before it becomes a different story - names, gender, setting, era? 

I would hesitate to rewrite someone else’s story. But fairy tales are fair game.