Sunday, 11 September 2016

Some Fields Will Blossom While Others Lay Brown Beneath The August Sun

Well, August turned out to be a pretty good month for me.

I had a total of five stories published – two in The People's Friend 2017 Annual, one in the PF weekly mag, one in the PF Special and one in The Weekly News.

I didn't even know about The Weekly News one until Suzanne Ross Jones @sj_suz kindly informed me via Twitter. Just goes to show the usefulness of Twitter and the power of the writers' network.

I've just attended one of the Woman's Weekly writers' workshops in Manchester. This was run by editor Gaynor Davies and prolific writer Della Galton. The event was attended by writers of all abilities and we all came away with some very useful feedback. I was particularly impressed by the interest that was shown for everybody's writing attempts and the patience they showed when assessing our work. I was also pleased to meet up with fellow magazine writers Margaret Skipworth and Joanne Duncan.

It's back to the writers' clubs this month after the Summer recess. I get some great ideas and inspiration from both of my groups. I wish you all the best in whatever endeavours you're engaged in at this time.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

More Excuses

I know I say this every time but I've been very busy.

It's over two months since I last posted on here. After the A levels at the sixth form college finished there were still quite a few exams I was called in to supervise at the NVQ college where I work. But now there won't be many until it picks up again in September. So no more excuses. (Maybe).

Not only that, I've also neglected to comment on other blogs. The list of blogs I follow has mysteriously disappeared from my profile page. I think the list is still somewhere in my account but I can't seem to get it back on my profile. Has anyone else had this problem?

I had two stories in The People's Friend in July and another two this month. The People's Friend 2017 Annual has also come out this month and I have two stories in that. I'm trying to keep up the submissions for other magazines but when you're having success in one area you tend to concentrate all your energy that way don't you?

I'm booked in for the Woman's Weekly Story Telling Workshop in Manchester on September 8th. I've never had any success with Woman's Weekly so I'm hoping to find out why this is. Is anyone else going?

Anyway I'm off to listen to the Test Match get some writing done.

Thursday, 2 June 2016

A Roll Of The Dice

I have The People's Friend themselves to thank for the inspiration for my latest story When In Rome in the June 4th edition. I'm still going to claim the payment though. After all, I did all the hard work.

I attended their workshop in York last October and one of the exercises involved the use of story cubes. For those of you who don't know what these are – they consist of a set of dice which have symbols on each face. The images include a magnet, a keyhole, a bee, a set of scales etc and, with 9 dice, have a total of 54 little pictures. I threw one die and it came up with a depiction of a water fountain. I scribbled down a few ideas and came up with a scenario that I worked on back home. The final story takes place in Rome and features a famous fountain which was also the backdrop for a 1960s film.

I've had a set of these cubes for a while so I was familiar with the concept. You can throw just one or a number of them and then try to fashion a story from the images that finish face up. They can also be used to amuse children either at home or while travelling. You can get them from Amazon and they only cost a few pounds.

I also have a story coming up in the June 18th edition and there are about another ten in the pipeline so it's all going pretty well so far.

Friday, 22 April 2016

Still Going

Sorry I've neglected this blog for a while. I don't how some of you find the time to post two or three times a week.

My two colleges have been keeping me busy and it's going to get even busier when the A Level exams start next month. I'm even supervising some International Baccalaureate exams on bank holiday Monday.

Despite all this I've still managed to keep the momentum going since the excellent start to the New Year. I've surpassed the fifty total sales mark with a few more to The People's Friend. One story actually started off life at the PF workshop in York last October. Another was a revamp of a piece of flash fiction I did for a Nottingham Writers competition. So you never know where the next bit of inspiration is going to come from.

At Nottingham Writers' Club we're currently adjudicating entries to our national short story competition. We're pretty excited that the final judging will be done by Patsy Collins.
My other club, Trowell Writers, have now got their own Twitter feed @TrowellWriters so please Follow us, give us a Retweet or two and send us a comment.

It's grandchildren time at the weekend, the cricket season has started and it will soon be time for the cycling Grand Tours. So more distractions. Ho hum. Must get on. See you soon.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Keeping It Going

It's not been a bad start to the year.

I found out that I've had a story published in the Indian magazine Woman's Era. They sent me a PDF copy.

I had a story in The People's Friend Special No.117.

I've had a story accepted by Yours magazine.

After a two year gap I've had a story accepted by Take A Break.

On the first meeting of the year for Nottingham Writers' Club I ran a workshop about scene setting. It seemed to go down well.

I just need to keep the momentum going. I hope you can too.

Sunday, 20 December 2015

The Greatest Woman On Two Wheels

A few weeks ago I went to see a play about cyclist Beryl Burton written by Maxine Peake. Being a keen cyclist myself I already knew the story of Beryl and wondered if the performance would do it justice. I was not disappointed. Read this and be inspired.

Beryl Burton (1937 – 1996) dominated the sport of cycling from the late 1950s. Having won numerous world championships, her last domestic title was won in 1986 at the age of 49. She did this despite suffering chronic health problems as a child. She set several national and world records; one of them even beating the men's record.
 
The story of how she broke the 12 hour record in 1967 has gone down in cycling legend. The race began on open roads with the women starting two minutes behind the men. Despite calls of nature and problems with her bike she caught the leading man, Britain's best all-rounder Mike McNamara, and cycled alongside him. As is the habit of most long-distance cyclists, she carried a bag of sweets in her back pocket in order to keep up her energy levels. She offered Mike a liquorice allsort, which he is said to have accepted with good grace. Beryl then pulled away to set a record of 277.25 miles beating McNamara by three quarters of a mile. It was another two years before a man beat her record. Nearly fifty years later that distance still stands today as the women's record, despite new bike technology, modern nutrition and professionalism.
 
On May 5th 1996 Beryl went out to deliver party invitations for her upcoming 59th birthday. On her bike of course. She collapsed and died of heart failure, possibly due to cardiac arrhythmia with which she had been diagnosed at an early age.

These days, if a man achieves a fraction of the things Beryl did, he is awarded a knighthood.

Friday, 23 October 2015

Shock Horror! Editors Have A Sense Of Humour

It's been a bit of a busy week.

Last Sunday was awards day at Trowell Writers' Club. We don't have many members but the turnout was excellent and it seems like I made some popular choices as the prose judge. So I'm relieved about that.

I sold my 40th story a few weeks ago and my latest is in the October 24th edition of People's Friend. Pleased with that too.

On Thursday October 22nd I went up to York to attend a People's Friend short story writing workshop. This was run by the magazine's commissioning fiction editor Shirley Blair with the assistance of prolific writer Kate Blackadder. As writers it's sometimes easy to believe that editors are grim people whose only purpose in life is to make our existence miserable by criticizing our work and rejecting our submissions. Well, either we're all wrong or Shirley is a remarkable exception. The talks were upbeat, the exercises were fun and she even threw in a few jokes. There were 25 attendees whose age range must have spanned around 6 decades, the oldest being a sprightly 92 year old. I met a fellow writer who I had already met on a couple of previous events at Nottingham Writers' Club and another lady who works as an extra on Emmerdale. Some, like myself, had already had successes with a few magazines while others had not yet submitted anything. The event was really useful to me and I'm really glad I didn't miss out. If you want to submit to People's Friend it's essential that you keep up to date with their guidelines which can be found on the PF website.