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.