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?