Thursday, 31 December 2015

Bea-ing Resolved

I have a story in the current edition of The People’s Friend set on 31st December, the end of one year and the beginning of the next. It is the perfect time for reviewing the last 12 months and wondering what the next 12 will bring. And making resolutions in the hope that they will affect the outcome of the year ahead. My story involves teenage angst, schoolgirl crushes, growing up and finding that the future is often not what you have planned it to be.

The People's Friend, 02 January 2016


This is a good time for me to review my 2015 writing year. I have just completed the tally and find that I have had a total of 41 pieces of writing published. They range through a variety of styles and formats: short stories and non-fiction articles; flash fiction and poetry; news items and readers’ letters. I would like there to have been more short stories and articles but on the whole I am satisfied with what I have achieved.

So, what about 2016? No specifics as to number of submissions, or hours per day at my desk, but generally:

The following are within my control, therefore I resolve to:

·         write and submit regularly. Nothing can be published if it is not first submitted.

·         take gentle exercise each day, even if only a fifteen minute walk with Henry, the arthritic spaniel.

Not within my power to achieve, but nevertheless none of these will happen without input from me, I would like:

·         to sell my first short story to Take A Break Fiction Feast

·         to sell my children’s book, “The ABC Playgroup”

·         to find and join a local writing group

So there you have it. I am resolved!

Happy New Year to everyone!

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Bea-ing Quizzical



I’ve just finished compiling a quiz for the family to do on Boxing Day while we wait for our main course to digest and before we start on pudding. Mine is in the form of an acrostic and uses my youngest granddaughter’s name as the key. It will be her 9th birthday on 26 December. The year she was born proved to be a very exciting Christmas for the whole family, particularly because she was not expected for another three weeks.



“A Child is Born” is the title of my short story published in the current edition of The Weekly News. It is unashamedly a Christmas story, a reworking of the traditional nativity story transposed to 2015. Doctor Inman (see what I did there?) struggles to find room for a young pregnant mother at the busy A&E hospital. The baby is then visited by night watchmen, and by rich dignitaries in chauffeur driven limousines. My story ends with a quizzical Dr Inman shaking his head in bewilderment.

I wish you a wonderful Christmas in whatever you do.

Monday, 14 December 2015

Bea-ing Poetic


If we met at a party and you asked me what I do, I would reply, “I’m a writer. I write short stories and non-fiction articles.” I haven’t always been so bold. It took a long time for me to have the confidence to call myself a writer. It was my first sale that gave me the courage to do so, the affirmation that comes from an editor saying, ‘We like this and will pay you - please send an invoice”.

Apparently I am also a poet. It says so here in Mslexia so it must be true.

From Mslexia, Issue 68 (Dec 2015)
 
I don’t write poetry very often. When I do it is invariably short and often best described as doggerel. What Mslexia have published here in the current edition was written with my tongue firmly pressed against the inside of my cheek. It is of course undisguised plagiarism and unashamed fawning. I certainly didn’t expect to be described as “a poet” on the basis of those 4 lines!

Although I won £20 once for a haiku, which must surely reveal some poetic literary merit:

She writes in stillness
The better to feel the words
Dancing in her head

How do you describe yourself to strangers? Novelist, writer, poet, journalist? Do you answer confidently or hesitate?

So as it’s Christmas and I’m feeling frivolous, let’s have some fun. Comment on this blog (or favourite / retweet / like on social media) and I will endeavour to reply to you poetically here.

Bea-ing Ordinary

Most days of our lives are mundane. Nothing unusual happens. I'm glad that is so and hope that I have many boring days ahead of me. You see, there is an old Chinese curse: "May you live in interesting times". At first hearing it sounds a pleasant thing to wish someone, but on reflection, not so.

As writers we have to plunge our characters into interesting situations. It is unnecessary, boring even, to write about the ordinary except briefly and then only to provide a contrast to the main event. Good fiction requires action, inciting incidents, emotional extremes and crises to which the characters react and ultimately overcome.

Of the more disappointing rejections I and other WOMAG writers receive are the ones that read "sweet but no surprises", or "the story was too weak to hold the reader's interest". Too ordinary. Not enough going on for our characters to fight against and the reader to engage with.

Falling in love is the most natural thing, unremarkable and ordinary and yet - it is also the most wonderful. Today is the 15th anniversary of the day that my husband and I were married.


We've had some very ordinary times together. We've also endured some horrendously 'interesting' ones. I'm pleased to say that he stood by me through them all. And the happy consequence of our worst time is that I gave up the boringly ordinary office job and became a writer. Now that is interesting, but in a very good way.
 

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Bea-ing Nurseried*

In an earlier post Bea-ing Kidded I mentioned that I had entered a competition to write a book for children. More specifically the brief was to write an original ABC book for young children of nursery school age. I’m delighted to say that I won! You can read my winning entry in the December 2015 edition of Writers’ Forum, issue #170.  

  


It sounded so easy. Words beginning with the 26 letters of the alphabet are not difficult to find. The real challenge was to come up with an original concept, to ensure the text was age-appropriate and to conform to a strict 260 words and 24 page layout.

Learning to count is equally important. Keeping within strict word counts is important when writing for certain markets. Competitions are good grounding for this. As also is one of my favourite websites Paragraph Planet which every day publishes a new short story or piece of prose of exactly 75 words.

You will find my latest entry ‘Per ardua ad astra’ on Wednesday 02 December 2015 (one day only, miss it and it's gone!). It relates a fictional violent reaction to a Latin teacher. I feel guilty as the lady who taught me Latin was one of the gentlest characters I have ever met. Despite a shamefully low grade at O level, I enjoyed classical studies and credit them with my love of words.

Any Latin nerds prepared to declare themselves?


PS * nurseried is not a proper word. I made it up! What would my teachers say about that?

Monday, 23 November 2015

Bea-ing Musical

I invite you to remember family parties. Christmas parties in particular. Back when Downton Abbey wasn’t even a spark in Julian Fellowes’ creative eye, before Only Fools and Horses was penned, before Christmas television specials. In fact, before television became a household necessity.

I know some of you reading are too young to remember such a time. Others will, but perhaps will not want to admit to it. But believe me, there was such a time when after Christmas dinner and the monarch’s radio address to the Commonwealth but before turkey sandwiches and trifle, the family would make their own Christmas entertainment.

The People's Friend Christmas Edition 21 Nov 2015
I have an article in The People’s Friend Christmas Special which recounts memories of Christmas Day. Members of the family (some more talented than others, although talent wasn’t a pre-requisite) each performed their party piece. Some would sing, others play the piano, tell jokes, recite monologues and perform sketches.

Sadly we no longer entertain ourselves this way. I’m sure that on 25th December I, along with millions of others, will find myself slumped in front of the one-eyed TV monster. But if the electricity failed and I was required to stand up and perform, I wonder what I would do? Probably recite one of the poems I learned at school and still remember. What about you? What would be your party piece?

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Bea-ing Lackduster

lackduster (adj.) the state of choosing to ignore domestic work in favour of creative activity

Don’t worry if you’ve not heard of it before. It’s a new word. I made it up. You’ll find it in the Mslexicon, a dictionary of new words compiled by Mslexia and printed in this month’s littlems, the regular email they send to subscribers.
To dust or not to dust...
Writing is a good excuse not to do any housework. But there are times when writing is such a struggle I have resorted to housework as an excuse not to write. Or shopping. Or sewing. Or gardening.
But, and this is the magic of creativity, inspiration can occur when I am distracted by the mundane activities of life. One of my favourite stories was one that occurred to me while I was ironing. I called it “Dashing Away” and it was published in The Weekly News.
What virtuous distractions do you use as an excuse to avoid the tyranny of the empty page?

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Bea-ing Kidded

I kid you not: my eight year old granddaughter likes telling jokes. She also likes playing tricks on the adults in her life. Kids do enjoy trying to catch us out, don’t they?

My daughter (when much younger!) feeding the kids
Writing for children is not as straight forward as it seems. I won a competition a few years ago with a short story for children. I didn’t find it easy to write.

Last weekend I asked my granddaughter Scarlett for help with another competition entry I was working on. The brief was to draft a book for very young children. Although older than the target age, Scarlett was very helpful and we spent a happy couple of hours exchanging ideas, with her sharing some of her favourite books with me. So fingers crossed for this one.

Writing about children is not easy either, trying to capture their speech and the speed with which they can switch from one topic to another. The story I am writing at the moment involves an eight year old who plays a trick on her grandfather. I wonder where I got my inspiration?

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Bea-ing Jaded

Jaded, tired, weary, fed-up. We all feel that way from time to time.

When I look at my submissions summary it’s easy to see why I may be feeling a little down in the mouth at present. I have submitted nothing new during October. Of the 16 submissions outstanding from August and September only one has sold whilst seven have been rejected.

Too many rejections; only one story 'Sold'.
I don’t feel guilty at not having written anything new this month. We have been camping and then had friends to stay, then more friends to stay, then been away again to visit family. Sometimes writing takes a back seat. But if I go too long without writing I start to get twitchy. So it’s time I picked up my pen.
I always think of jaded as an adjective. I hadn’t realised that jade is a noun too. A jade is a bad-tempered or disreputable woman. I have no wish to be considered as either of those.
So I shall pick myself up and smile. Being positive, I still have eight pieces of work under consideration. One of the rejections came with some suggestions and an invitation to resubmit.
So no more excuses. I shall return to my writing desk. It’s time for me to get some more stories out there.

Monday, 12 October 2015

Bea-ing Impatient

As a child I spent Saturday mornings listening to ‘Children’s Favourites’ (later known as ‘Junior Choice’) on the radio. Many of the records played then are fine examples of flash fiction, telling a complete story in very few words, songs such as: ‘Grandfather’s Clock’ (The Radio Revellers); ‘Nelly the Elephant’ (Mandy Miller); ‘El Paso’ (Marty Robbins); ‘Copacabana’ (Barry Manilow).

One of my early favourites was Bernard Cribbins’ song-cum-monologue, ‘Right said, Fred’. It tells the tale of an impatient removal man. Fred doesn’t want to wait while his colleagues have a cup of tea and plan how best to move a piano from an upstairs landing. Fred is too hasty and things end badly for him.
My daughter's dog Freddie waiting impatiently for his mistress to return
Patience is an important part of a writer’s life. It is tempting to write a story then send it off straight away, then bash on with the next one. But as Fred learned, it doesn’t do to be hasty. I am learning the importance of waiting before I submit, to put the story aside for a few days and visit it again. There are inevitably mistakes I’ve failed to spot and plot weaknesses that need to be addressed. 

Then there is the long wait between submission and acceptance (hopefully) or rejection. Of course that is out of my hands. I have stories that I submitted 5 months earlier on which I am still awaiting a response. However I’m pleased to say that a story I submitted 4 weeks’ ago has today been sold.

Sometimes it’s hard not to be impatient, isn’t it?

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Bea-ing Hopeful

I received some good news yesterday. My story “Sing it Loud” was awarded the Editor’s Choice prize in the quarterly competition run by writers’ e-zine Kishboo.

Whenever you enter a competition you hope that your story will be successful. It’s a wonderful feeling when those hopes are fulfilled. So yesterday evening, had you peeked through my blinds, you would have seen me dancing around the kitchen table.
 
 
 
Even before I won my prize, I was a fan of Kishboo. It was started last year by a husband and wife team in Yorkshire and will celebrate its first birthday when Issue 5 is published on 28 October 2015. It's been wonderful watching it develop.  It’s full of interesting articles, good fiction (15 stories per quarter), book reviews and quizzes.
 
Submissions are still open for Issue 5 which will be published on 28th October. The last date to enter a short story into the competition is 20th October.
 
The editor Sharon is also looking for entertaining articles about writing, book reviews and, new to edition 5, poetry. All guidelines are available on the Kishboo site.
 
If you’ve not read it yet, then do pop across to www.kishboo.co.uk where it is available free of charge. Or you can download a copy to your Kindle for just 99p.

 

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Bea-ing Genteel (or not)

Last November I used the NaNoWriMo challenge to write a new story on each day of the month.

One such had the working title ‘The Joy of Dunking.’ It was inspired by one of my less genteel habits of dipping biscuits into my coffee or tea. It’s a practice which many people consider to be unladylike.


The published story that started life as 'The Joy of Dunking'

In my story the main character is an artist who is fascinated by the colour and texture changes that dunking brings about. That is where it began. I didn’t know where it was going to end but as often happens, the character took over. By the time I had finished the story I discovered she was a widow who describes life without her husband as being a dry biscuit without the warm infusion of coffee.
It is published in this week’s edition of The People’s Friend (26 September) with a beautiful illustration by Mandy Dixon. The editor describes it as an emotional and touching story.

It proves that inspiration can be found in the most mundane of actions. I shall have to consider what other of my less genteel habits I can use as the springboard for a new short story.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Bea-ing Friendly

I had a good weekend. I visited Harrogate which is a treat at any time of the year and of course included a trip to Betty’s famous coffee shop. I was there with my mother to attend the Women’s Institute Centennial Fair.

What made my trip special was the workshop I attended hosted by Shirley Blair, the commissioning fiction editor of The People’s Friend, aka “The Friend”.
Workshop Notes from The People's Friend

Did you know?
  1. Over 100 stories a week are received at the Friend and all of them are read, and responded to, by a team of just 4 people
  2. It can take up to 16 weeks for an acceptance, sometimes longer - so learn to be patient
  3. She is currently buying Christmas seasonal stories
  4. They receive far too many stories about:
·         Retired husbands getting under their wives’ feet
·         Retired women working in charity shops (Why only charity shops? Let them do something else, was Shirley’s plea.)
·         People trying to put aged parents into residential care
·         Empty nesters wondering what to do now the children have left home

Overall Shirley looks for stories that entertain. Don’t just reflect readers’ lives back: rather give them something to lift the spirits or something to smile about. Even if the story is sad or brings a lump to the throat, make it one that leaves the reader with some hope, a sense of being glad they’d read it.
My next story to be published in The People’s Friend will be in two weeks on 26 September 2015, called “Of Coffee Cups and Cream”. I hope you will feel glad when you read it.

In the meantime, I have a very short story (75 words) published on Thursday 10th September 2015 on www.paragraphplanet.com. You only have 24 hours to read this one. If you caught it in time, I hope you enjoyed it too.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Bea-ing Educated

My father left school at the age of just 14. It seems unbelievable now that his official education finished when he was so young. I say ‘official education’ for the good reason that he found other ways to continue learning. 

My father bought The Wizard and The Hotspur every week. These were not cartoon comics, but rather short story magazines filled with tales of fictional heroes. In fact, he continued to subscribe to these comics until they ceased circulation, so as a child I too got to read the stories of ‘Wilson, the wonder athlete’.

Throughout his life he continued to read voraciously. I grew up in a house full of books, from cheap paperbacks to travel guides to encyclopaedias, and every other genre imaginable. In those pre-internet days, they provided a wealth of written information to aid my school work.

My father was also a collector, of anything and everything. This included stamps, coins, records, model cars and with each collection came reference books and guides, all conscientiously studied. He was definitely the man to have as your ‘phone a friend’ companion!

It is thanks to my father’s collection of postcards that I have an article published today in The People’s Friend Special, issue 111. My piece references just some of the many cards he owned.

Selection of postcards from my father's collection

There is a happy co-incidence that it is DC Thomson who have published my writing, for it is that company who were the publishers of my father’s early favourites, The Wizard and The Hotspur.

It is to my father’s memory I dedicate the article, ‘Send Me a Postcard!’

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Bea-ing Dramatic

I enjoy going to the theatre, although it has been a while since I was last at a live performance. (Note to self: print off copy of this blog and leave where hubby can find it.)
Me, being dramatic
Script writing is different to writing short stories. The audience doesn’t need to be told what is happening: they can see the stage set; look at the actors; assess their age and social standing from what they wear; witness their tears; hear their laughter. Conversation on stage or screen has no need for descriptive prose.

In writing stories, it is for the author to create the scene with words, to describe and identify the characters, to give each one a distinctive voice. Show not tell, is the maxim often repeated to student writers. Through the skill of words alone, we must show the emotions being experienced by the character, rather than simply to relate what they are feeling. 

The aim of both script and prose writing is to enable the watchers / readers to immerse themselves in the story being portrayed. Without the intervention of an actor, dialogue in prose has to work harder. If we keep it realistic and allow emotions to show through, the reader will forge a direct link to the character. 

When it is done well, the reader will not notice the words or the page upon which they are written. They will become the character, see what they witness, experience what they feel. But overdramatise a scene and it can descend into farce. 

Well written dialogue, whether on stage or in a novel, is a thing of beauty. I no longer take it for granted.

Friday, 7 August 2015

Bea-ing Critical

My Mum is my greatest fan. If I give her a new story to read her comment is invariably, “That’s lovely, dear”. Perhaps my story is indeed perfect. More likely it means that she’s too nice to say it isn’t, or she genuinely thinks that whatever I do is brilliant.


My greatest fan
Seeing the errors in your own writing is difficult. Generally I have a feel for whether or not a story is working. The proof is of course in the eating, whether it gets snapped up instantly or is returned several weeks later with a standard rejection email or letter.
 
I am fortunate to be part of an online group of writers who provide a mutual critiquing service. If I’m not sure whether one of my stories is right, or which market it will best suit, I email it to the group. It is never wise to be precious about your writing. If you can’t take criticism, don’t ask for comments. If you can’t cope with rejection, then do not submit your work. Ever.
 
Recently the group’s facilitator asked that we let her know if we were ever offended by the feedback received. My response was echoed by the other group members. I need to know what is working and what is not. Robust but fair criticism is better than polite niceties which don’t help me improve my writing skills. So bring it on!
 
Otherwise the first inkling I have that a story has not worked is when the rejection letter drops on the doormat.

Monday, 3 August 2015

Bea-ing Baffled

I have already admitted to technophobia in an earlier blog here.

Actually it’s not so much fear of technology that afflicts me, it is a lack of understanding.

They say that we accept without question anything which exists or is discovered in our youth. In our middle years new inventions are met with the attitude of ‘that’s interesting, let me find out more’. But in our later years innovations are considered the work of the devil and to be shunned at all cost.

I hope I am still in those middle years, interested in learning and applying new discoveries.

Things I would like to do through my blog include:

·         Attach photographs such as this carrot, the shape of which is somewhat baffling. (Woo hoo! I think I've done it!)



·         I would love to follow the blogs of many of my fellow writers but at times I find the link does not work.

·         Include guest postings

·         Attract new followers

What I need is a Fairy Techno-mother (or Techno-father, it’s not a gender specific rĂ´le) to appear at my request to help me with the trickier tasks. Oh for that magic wand! In the meantime I shall carry on with my fumbling attempts until I work it out for myself.

Please bear with me while I carry on experimenting.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Bea-ing Active

Writing is not the healthiest of careers, involving as it does so much time sitting down. I know that to get fit I need to be more active. To do so I need to begin slowly: run some, walk some.

To write well also requires regular mental exercise. When not used, the creative muscle can become flabby. It’s not always about the bigger enterprises; sometimes the little things help. Short pieces, longer pieces.

This last month I have had four pieces of writing published, two of them short, two longer:

·         80 word rant in Mslexia,

·         4 line poem in littlems (Mslexia’s baby sister).

·         Story “Violets” in the August edition of Woman’s Weekly Fiction Special

·         Story “Sing it loud” in Issue 4 of Kishboo.co.uk

From a writing point of view, 80 words, or 4 lines, is not much. But from a writing fitness point of view, it has proved invaluable in keeping me going during my extended holiday. Now I have to build up my writing fitness again.

Perhaps I should also take some gentle physical exercise, maybe by walking more often? It may even help my creative thought processes.

Monday, 13 July 2015

Bea Z...?


When I began my blog in February 2015, I wanted a structure to help me focus and prevent me simply rambling.  I decided that my posts would be brief and each would be alphabetical. (I should explain here that I had not at that time heard of the A-Z Blogging Challenge before I began. What I thought was an original structure turns out not to be so. Sigh. Originality is so hard to achieve.)

The title would be my name followed by a single adjective or adverb to explain something about me, my writing journey, my successes and failures. Hence I began with ‘Bea Afraid’ and progressed steadily through the alphabet to ‘Bea Yearning’. Today I reach the letter Z and find myself, uncharacteristically, lost for words. For a writer that’s an uncomfortable position.

There aren’t many suitable descriptive words beginning with the letter Z: zany; zealous; zoological?  But none of them are appropriate to me today.

So instead I am reflecting on my first five months of blogging. I have appreciated the discipline of writing regularly. I have enjoyed occasions when readers have been kind enough to leave a comment. Even when postings have been without comment they have sometimes been shared on Twitter which is gratifying. But above all I have found the process worthwhile.

Now I have reached my 26th post I have decided to carry on blogging alphabetically. But perhaps next time I shall not limit myself to adjectives. It may make titles easier to find!

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Bea Yearning

There is much to be said for being happy: comfortable with oneself; accepting of our position; content with our achievements. Yet this same state of self-satisfaction has a negative connotation. It can stifle creativity. Why settle for what we have when we can strive for better?

It certainly applies to me and my writing. For any writer we are only as good as our last story, book or article. We have to move on to the next project or we become a one-hit wonder. Only a few can afford to rest on their laurels: consider Harper Lee (To Kill a Mockingbird), JD Salinger (The Catcher in the Rye) and Emily Bronte (Wuthering Heights).

For the rest of us, we keep on writing, keep on creating, keep on keeping on. But what if I were to write a story tomorrow that met with great critical acclaim and the movie rights were sold for some obscene amount? Would I stop there? I think not, for the desire to write is not something that can be switched off at the sight of a healthy bank balance or a prestigious award.

Having said that, I would be very happy to sell my writing for big money. So I had better get on with creating and stop wittering about it. Better earning than yearning.

Friday, 5 June 2015

Bea Xenodochial

Words are wonderful, aren’t they? I do so enjoy a casual browse through the dictionary: it’s a relaxing pastime as well as being educational. It was on one such meander that I came across xenodochial, meaning friendly to strangers.

Sometimes words can be deliberately misused. Erik the Red was an ancient Icelandic warrior who called the arctic land to which he was exiled ‘Greenland’. It was an early instance of false advertising. It is said that his intention in so naming it was to encourage other settlers to come.

Another example is the naming of the long bay in south east Devon ‘Slapton Sands’: the beach is formed entirely of pebbles and is impossible to walk on in bare feet. Nevertheless it is very beautiful.

I am going to Slapton on Monday for two weeks holiday. I do hope the locals will be xenodochial.

Monday, 1 June 2015

Bea Watchful

It’s always exciting to have a shout-out from an editor. My article in The People’s Friend on 6th June has been singled out for such an honour.

It is a nostalgia piece about newsreel cinemas. In my childhood, a visit to the pictures on a Saturday morning was essential. Before the main film came the British Pathe News. At the time I no doubt declared such an interruption to my viewing pleasure boring, but now I am surprised at how much the newsreels remain in my memory.

In fact British Pathe News and Gaumont News has become part of our collective memory. Any documentary of historical events will feature such extracts. In Newcastle upon Tyne we are fortunate to have the Tyneside Cinema which features a free daily screening of archived film. If you’re in the area, do make time for a visit. It is a fascinating piece of history.

Do you remember watching newsreel screenings at your local cinema?

Friday, 29 May 2015

Bea Virulent

I have a problem creating characters with whom my female leads may fall in love. No man is perfect (sorry, guys) so I aim to introduce a few flaws to make him real. The trick is enough to add to the tension (will he change? should she forgive him?) against not enough (what’s holding her back? He’s gorgeous, nab him now!)

Here are just some of the reasons given for rejection. Some are rather harsh, virulent even.

we neither like nor trust Ben to the extent that we can’t stand him - he must see the error of his ways and change

Ted is an unsympathetic character - his begging for a second chance and saying he's had a change of heart doesn't ring true

the problem for us is that Dave sounds too pushy and tiresome

the stumbling block here is that Henry is so unpleasant - not an engaging character - his later climb down isn’t really convincing

Creating realistic characters isn’t easy. Do you have any hints as to how it should be done?

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Bea Unique

Writers are often advised to find their own ‘voice’, to write as only they can and not to imitate others.

As a regular contributor to the womag market that is not always easy. Constrained by editors’ guidelines, by the magazine’s ethos and house style, it is necessary to adjust one’s work to suit the target market.

Entering work for competitions enables more freedom although even that imposes restraints. It is essential to observe the rules and conditions and follow the theme (if one is given). Is it necessary to have regard to the judge’s known preferences? Maybe not. We belittle their literary skills if we stereotype them within a specific genre.

It is liberating to write without limiting factors. Sometimes I will write for no other purpose than freewriting, placing words on the page to see where they take me. And they do indeed take me on a journey to some strange and unexpected places. One such example is the 75 word challenge of Paragraph Planet.

On Monday 25 May 2015, for one day only, my latest piece will be on their site. If you are reading this blog on Bank Holiday Monday you can catch it here. (If you miss it on the day, it will be available on the archive after 1st June.)

And despite writing within guidelines and to competition specifications, over time we do each develop our own writing style, that which makes our work unique.

Monday, 18 May 2015

Bea Technophobic

I’m not so much afraid of computers as wary of them. They are mystical beings with powers I can barely comprehend. I suspect the piece of technology on which I am typing this blogpost has a brain the size of a planet. I belittle it by using it as nothing more than a typewriter. But a glorious one, which corrects my spelling and files away what I have written. And if I push the correct buttons my ramblings may be shared with the world.

I began blogging three months ago. It was a challenge but I got here. And I enjoy it.

The next step for me was to create a website. To do so from scratch required knowledge of a technical language which is as foreign to me as any spoken by the most remote tribe. So I have taken an easier solution and used WordPress. You can see my humble attempts here. 

Any hints or tips as to how you navigate the technical challenges of the modern workplace?

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Bea Sociable

Writing can be a lonely trade. We do have our characters to keep us company and amuse or amaze us with their exploits. Where did that come from? - I never planned for Suzie to storm out on her family. Who killed Archie? – that wasn’t in my mental draft. Sometimes they live so independently of the storyline I had so surely plotted that I almost believe they could be real.

But they’re not real. And in any event, so obsessed are they with their own lives they never take the time out to talk to me!

I’m not currently a member of a writing group or have a writing buddy. But I do value social media. I use Facebook for close interaction with a small circle of family, friends and newly found writer friends. Twitter opens up a much larger world. I like the brevity of the 140 character conversations, listening in to others, joining in a conversation that interests me, seeing what my fellow writers are up to.

But when I really want a chat about writing, I join a group of like-minded writers on Wednesday evenings between 8 – 9pm UK time. We meet online for a general natter, to share ideas, learn from each other and indulge in some light hearted banter. You can find us using the hashtag #writingchat.

Why not be sociable, pop along on a Wednesday evening and say hello?

#writingchat

Monday, 11 May 2015

Bea Ready

There’s nothing like a holiday to lighten the spirits and inspire the mind. I am back at my desk this morning after a week away camping in the Lake District, feeling refreshed and ready for action!

There is a reason why Cumbria has so many lakes. We experienced it as the winds blew with gusto, driving the rain against the tent walls and creating a moat around us through which the ducks enjoyed plodging. Even at its worst, there is something very comforting sitting under cover, nursing a cup of hot mulled wine, whilst displaying a true British stiff upper lip. I even managed to escape election fever, having registered a postal vote a few weeks earlier.

Where do I start? I’ve checked up on Facebook, Twitter and the blogs which I follow. Now for the hard part, trying to capture in words the stories that are racing through my head.

Do you find it difficult to knuckle down again after a few days away?

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Bea Quintessential

This week I consented to do something which goes against every introverted grain in my body. I have agreed to take my place on The People’s Friend website under their “Getting to know you” section.

Apart from the discomfort of talking about myself, there is also a nagging voice whispering that I have no place amongst such prolific and talented authors as Della Galton and Wendy Clarke, to name but two. I silence it by responding that the magazine’s intention is to introduce a variety of writers, both longstanding and newer voices, to their readers.

Then came a decision on the photograph. Oh, horror! Do you dislike looking at pictures of yourself? Seeing ourselves as others see us. My hair doesn’t lie right, with loose strands and sticky up bits; the make-up on closer scrutiny has been badly applied; the double chin is dangerously exposed. But perhaps it is only we who look at ourselves so critically. Other people never notice trivialities but see beyond them: what a lovely smile, you look so happy, etc, etc.

So I did it! I wrote a few paragraphs about me, about my writing journey, my family and my hobbies. If you want to read about the quintessential me, then this is the place to go: www.thepeoplesfriend.co.uk

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Bea Patient

Good news today. I have a short story published in the current edition of The People’s Friend (25 April 2015 edition should you wish to buy it!). I have already had several non-fiction articles and fillers published in this magazine. But “Take a Break” is the first of my fictional tales which they have printed.

It’s been a long time coming. The story was written and submitted in November 2013. Yes, 2013! I waited, as you do, but there was no news. I thought perhaps it had vanished into a black hole of my imagining behind a filing cabinet. After 3 months I chased. ‘No problem,’ they said, ‘your story is still here and is going through our reading process.’ I waited some more.

Finally, 6 months after submission, they said YES. They paid me. Then I waited, eagerly anticipating publication day. And waited. And waited.

Until today! And I love what they have done with it: a few subtle edits, a fun strap line and a beautiful illustration by the talented Jim Dewar. My ‘light hearted story’ is ready for the world to read.

So from submission to sale: 6 months.
From sale to publication: 11 months.
17 months in total. It pays to be patient.