When Suzy met Patsy.

The travelling writer came to the N.E.C. and that’s in my radar, so how lovely that I was able to pop along and meet

my lovely blog buddy, writing buddy and critique buddy. Alright, you get the gist, I was thrilled to have a coffee and cake with Patsy.

Suzy and PatsyWhen we met, it felt like meeting a family member, and as if we’d been friends for a lifetime. I was looking around, and heard Patsy’s voice, then we went, ‘yahayyyy,,,,, ‘ like on long lost family. Great fun.

I call Patsy the Travelling Writer, because that’s what she does, and is. How glad am I that she and Gary were at the show up the road. I thought perhaps we’d have a little chat for a while, and before you know it, two hours had passed, and they were almost closing.

Great respect for Gary, who didn’t moan that I’d hijacked Patsy when they were checking out motor homes. And we didn’t really sprout flowers out of our head with happiness…

Patsy’s blog…..

Our site……

Read Patsy’s latest story here….

Welcome, Lynne Hackles.

Lynne Hackles booksLynne newLynne spell

It’s a real pleasure to welcome our writing treasure on to my blog. I have Lynne’s book, ‘writing from life,’ on my bookshelf – and if I ever need inspiration it’s one I reach for. The other two, ‘ghost writing’ and Handy hints for Writers’ are also books of mine, that I treasure, and I’d recommend them all.

Lynne’s writing career began when she had a letter published in ‘Woman’s Realm,’ the same as me. Now she has a regular column in Writing magazine, and this month, for Halloween, she tells us how to cast a writing spell, which I will be doing of course. Over to Lynne:-

Q1. S/ Lynne, I’m a massive fan of yours because I like your style, and mostly your humour. What was the title of the first fiction story that was accepted by a Woman’s magazine, and which magazine was it?

L/I’d been writing humorous articles on family life for My Weekly but was desperate to get some fiction accepted and now I can’t remember what it was. (Actually, the articles were 50% fiction) I can be excused for the lapse in memory as it was over 30 years ago (and probably written in my school exercise book and illustrated using wax crayons as I was such a baby back then). What I can tell you was that My Weekly bought it. I had followed the pattern of a published story. The main character had a problem at the beginning of the day and solved it, through her own efforts, before bedtime. My first dozen published stories all had that day-long time-span. I’ve had over 400 published now and am currently all story-ed out and working on other things.

 

S/ How long would you say it takes you to write a typical woman’s magazine story?

 
L/ Anything from an hour to twenty years. Yes, some arrive fully formed and others sit patiently in my In Progress folder and have been moved from old computer to new, several times, and eventually the bit that was missing arrives and the story gets completed.

 
S/  I enjoy your column in writing magazine each month, for the variety of topics you cover, and the common sense advice. If anyone was thinking of becoming a columnist, what advice would you give?

 
L/ Don’t! Only joking. I enjoy writing my regular features. I do five each month under different names but I sometimes get nightmares. I dream of opening up a magazine and my regular page/column is blank because I didn’t get around to writing it. So, if you want a regular column and are lucky enough to get one then be prepared to work hard, think ahead and never miss a deadline.

 
S/  I think you’d make a great agony aunt. Is that something you would do, if the opportunity came your way?

 

L/ I would LOVE it. Not sure if the troubled people writing in would though. I tend to be one of the ‘shut up moaning and get on with it’ brigade. There’s so much to be grateful for in everyone’s life. My cousin once told me I’d led a Charmed Life which goes to prove that no-one knows what goes on in anyone’s life. I never forget that. Everyone has problems and some people can’t cope with theirs while I’m like a terrier and shake mine until they’re resolved, though some can’t be and I’ve learned and am learning to live with those. If I was to be an agony aunt I’d have to remember three things – 1. To be kind 2. To be sympathetic and 3. Not everyone is as strong as I am.

 
S/  Recently, you were the writer in residence at Creative Frontiers. Did they provide you with your own writing room, or did you mingle, and what’s the food like over there?

 
L/ They put me in a padded cell and force-fed me chocolate.

 

S/  Am I right in thinking you are a tutor for writing magazine? If so, what’s the most common mistake you see in fiction stories that would stop an editor buying that story?

 
L/ I’ve been a tutor for Writers’ News Home Study courses for 20 years now. Once I realised how long it was I started hinting about a gold clock. No-one’s taken it on board so far. I enjoy teaching students and have had many successes but some make the same mistakes over and over. I’d say the most common are Telling instead of Showing (if you’re not sure, go to my writer in residence workshops on Creative Frontiers and read all about it) and what I call Cinderella syndrome. That’s where the main character does nothing about their problems and someone else steps in (fairy-godmother) and does the solving for them. If I’d written Cinderella she’d had got off her backside, ripped down some curtains, made a dress for herself and hopped on a bus to get to the ball.

 
Thanks, Lynne for taking the time to answer these questions.
Thank you for asking me and giving me the opportunity to leave my WIP and do something different and frivolous. I like frivolous.

You can read more about Lynne and what she gets up to from the links below. She also has a monthly slot on Creative Frontiers.

www.lynnehackles.com
www.lynnehackles.blogspot.com
Racing Start – a Kindle best-seller. Fast paced cycling fiction for 8-12 yr olds
Handy Hints for Writers – Compass Books
Writing From Life – How To Books
Ghostwriting – Aber Publishing
http://creative-frontiers.com/blog/writing-desk/fiction/

Thank you Lynne for a great interview. And glad you’re a fellow giggle blogger as well…

October giggle blog.

At work the other day, it came to the time of cleaning the canteen in a factory where we have to enter a code to get through the door. Most places have codes now, and it’s a task in itself to remember them all.

On this particular morning, I marched up to the door, hoover in hand and hose wrapped round my neck, confident I’d remembered the order of numbers. Plonking Henry down, I said to my friend from Sunderland; “I know this code,” tapped it in, then added, “The door is really stiff.” Another time, I had the right code, and couldn’t open it, and a chap had told me it was stiff, and you have to give it a really good shove.

So I leaned back, and threw all my weight behind it and shoved. Now somebody must have oiled the door, because I shot through it like Peter Sellers and Kato in one of the Pink Panther films, and almost fell up the stairs that are a good ten feet on from the door. Good job nobody was on the other side, and I wish they’d let you know when they oil the doors.

Peter Sellers charging through a door….

I fancied eating a gingerbread man, so after looking in my recipe books, (I’m old fashioned like that) I googled a recipe, and found a good one on the bbc website. It made 16, though the recipe said 20. Mine were slightly thicker than they should have been, but I won’t hold that against them, I made them that way. So a few days later, I had a dream that I was in one of the places we clean, another factory, different from the above, and a giant gingerbread man came walking out of the gents toilets. He said to me, “Do you think it’s right, what you’re doing?” I said, “What do you mean?” He said, “You’re eating all of my friends.” I said, “Well, I fancied one.” Then he plodded off into the factory. It wasn’t easy eating all the rest after that.

gingermenLittle gingerbread chaps, tasty and soft.

Do you want to join the growing list of gigglers? All you have to do is post at the beginning of each month, something that’s made you laugh lately. If nothing has, then you’re not looking hard enough.

Here are the other lovely gigglers, and welcome Jacqueline King to the giggle list.

Lynne Hackles, and on Lynne’s blog you get a giggle from Sue Blackburn.

Teresa Ashby, who always has something to make us giggle.

A lady who joined the gigglers from Teresa’s blog is also a giggler. I need to find her and add her link here.

Jacqueline King. Who gave me the idea for giggle blog, as she said I made her giggle.

Mrs Teapot on the busy teapot blog. Hope the kettle’s on.

 

Coming soon, Author interview with writing treasure, Lynne Hackles.

 

Scarecrow Weekend.

It’s been a weekend of scarecrows in our local village. Here’s some pictures of the wide variety there were. Some would make great book covers wouldn’t they? And some were very real, like the lady in blue in the church. I was having a conversation with someone sitting down, and I thought, ‘blimey, this woman’s getting a bit close’ she was a scarecrow of course.

The wedding party in the church won. I only popped in for a cup of tea, and ended up with a lovely cushion, and cakes, and a book on the history of the church.

One day, years ago, me and our son, while out walking dogs, came across a hidden grave-yard. Turns out that two hundred years ago, the church was there, where the old stones were.

Speaking of hidden grave-yards, I’m working on my next Redington tale, which will be a Halloween story. ‘Midnight on Colley Hill, or it might be, Midnight on Colley Heath, as Norfolk is flat…… Haven’t a clue how it’s going to go yet, but I have my quote at the beginning, so that’s a start.

scarecrowscarecrwo scarebinscarfamilybillyscar

Imagine if you were visiting the village on a dark night, could be scary. They were bad enough in the bright light of day. Good fun though.

The wedding party won the prize. humptypilotdad's armydracula

The Ghost of Windmill Walk.

windmillMy latest story in the Redington collection is published this week on Creative Frontiers.

Hope you enjoy the story if you read it, and thanks to my writing buddies for their help as well.

The accumulator competition is ending at the end of this month, so be quick and good luck if you’re having a go. Scroll down

the page, and follow instructions for part 3 of the Riggins story.

Speaking of competitions, the Alfie dog short story one is closing soon as well, with a fab prize, so good luck if you’re

trying that one as well.

Happy Equinox, now excuse me, hot cakes are out of the oven, and a cup of tea waiting as well.

ghostWatch out for the ghost of the windmill…

RNA Award Ceremony.

On Saturday, we went to Leighton Buzzard so that I could attend the Award Ceremony. Here’s the list for the new talent section.

Jan in a hatTo celebrate me getting on to the shortlist of 11, here’s my writing buddy Jan, modeling her stylish hat, in support for Hats off to Love… Click on the picture to go to Jan’s blog.

New Talent Award Shortlist
An Infamous Seduction by Glenda Cooper

Country Strife by Debbie Fuller-White

Fancy Cakes and Skinny Lattes by Melanie Griffiths

For One Last Time by Louise Hall

The Gossamer Trail by Brenda Hawkey

Who Does He Think He Is? by Emily Kerr

Hats Off To Love by Susan Jones

Meeting Halfway by Mairibeth MacMillan

The Perfect Blend by Catherine Meadows

True Colours by Caroline Rayner

Maggie’s Child by Glynis Smy

It was lovely to meet the others on the shortlist. Brenda had traveled all the way from Cornwall, and I thought we’d had quite a journey. Her story sounded interesting, and so did lots of others, like Louise’s One Last TIme, and Glynis’s Maggie’s Child. Then I met Debbie Fuller White, who told me about Country Strife.

Congratulations to Caroline Rayner who won with True Colours. She told me it’s a story about second chances, because everyone deserves a second chance. Look forward to reading that.

The children dancing before and in between the awards were a real treat, and some brought a tear to the eye. I especially liked the lad dancing to ‘why do fools fall in love’ and the little girl singing ‘where is love’ from Oliver Twist, and dressed in rags.

Click on Samantha’s photo to go to her website.

4d63252a5b54e0538456e6c551e5f1e4_400x400

I met Samantha Tonge, who was also shortlisted for her e-book, and two lovely Irish ladies, Carmel Harrington who won last years e-book category, she was presenting an award; and Louise Hall who was on the same shortlist as me. The editors from Carina are lovely as well. They won their section.

Sophie, in the middle of the two lovely Irish ladies, Carmel and Louise, won the blogger award for reviewedthebook blog.

shortlisted pals

So now I’m busy getting the novel finished, edited, polished and up to scratch to send in… also I’m working on The Ghost of Windmill Walk for Creative Frontiers.

Right after the award ceremony, we had a visit to Wales to visit Alan’s mum. She was her usual welcoming self, and more about that on my giggle blog in a week or so…

Even though I didn’t win, (in some ways I’m glad as I’d have been a nervous wreck going up on the stage) I know now that the story of Denise will be published one day. She is waiting for me to get fingers on keyboard, and put the whole thing together…..

One thing that stayed in my mind from the weekend, is that the lady who won, Caroline, had a lovely smile and she turned to me and said, ‘what lovely friendly people romantic novelists are.’ She is truly smashing, and looking forward to reading her story.

Welcome, Keith Havers.

It’s time for the September People’s Friend Author interview, and I’m pleased to welcome Keith Havers on to my blog this month.

Keith Havers.                              Digital imageWP_20140909_16_34_34_Pro

 

He’s the first male author to feature on here since I began doing this back in the springtime. And, hot off the press, I hear that he has recently had an email from People’s Friend editor Shirley Blair accepting another story, so that’s good timing for the interview.

This was the first story I read, and enjoyed with your name on…granny at bus stop
S/  I read about the lady at the bus stop story, and enjoyed it. There was no idea of the twist coming. What gave you the idea for this story?
K/ I can’t remember exactly where the original idea came from but it started out as a very different story. My first attempt had the old lady as a slightly confused individual who absent-mindedly collected various items from the people she spoke to at the bus stop. I think it was a scarf from the young woman, the business man’s mobile phone and the little girl’s doll. Although the main character was acting in all innocence, the idea of a befuddled old lady didn’t go down very well at The People’s Friend. Editor Shirley Blair liked the writing though and suggested I give it another try. So I changed it to the old lady recruiting people to help out in the village.
S/  Was that your first People’s Friend submission, and how long had you been sending them stories before your first acceptance?
K/ It certainly wasn’t my first submission. On looking through my records I see that I tried twice in 2008 followed by another three attempts in 2011 before achieving success in March 2012. I think I was having trouble hitting the right tone for People’s Friend so I was concentrating on other markets.
S/  I know you write for several other magazines, how does writing for People’s Friend differ from say, Yours or Woman’s Weekly?
K/ The Friend stories have to be upbeat and have a happy ending. You need a conflict, of course, in order to create a story but you have to tread a fine line. Yours magazine are very clear on the sort of thing they like. They’re not very far removed from People’s Friend in that they like nostalgia stories and those that involve relationships across the generations. I’ve had a few successes with them with ‘grandson’ stories similar to The Rainbow Baby.
Take A Break are very different. Their stories can be edgier and themes can include romance, the paranormal and even murder.
With their readership split between the sexes, The Weekly News also accepts a wide range of stories.
I’ve submitted to Woman’s Weekly several times with no success so I’ve obviously not figured out their exact requirements yet.

 

S/  Does your Grandson know he’s an inspiration for your writing, I loved the knitting story, and what does he think of his Grandad, the storyteller?
K/ Finlay is eight years old and he’s well aware of his influence. In fact I used his real name in one of my stories that appeared in Yours magazine. He’s pretty blasé about it though. He’s more interested in playing football with me.
S/  Do you have a set time for People’s Friend writing, and a target number for submissions; or do you write when you feel the mood?
K/ I have a part-time ‘proper’ job which means I can be called out at a day’s notice so I’m never sure when I’m going to have time for writing. I try to maintain a situation where I have several submissions to various magazines out there. However, since I have now accumulated the grand total of five successes with People’s Friend I’m thinking of concentrating a little more of my time in that direction.
S/  How does it feel to be a male People’s Friend writer in a world that is quite strongly female dominated; (not with dominating females, I hasten to add) And have you ever been tempted to write under a female pen-name?
K/ While The Friend readership may be predominantly female the stories can be about men. Also, many of my stories would work just as well with either a male or a female protagonist so I don’t really have a problem. I have found the womag community very helpful and the fact that I am a man doesn’t appear to matter.

 

I attended a workshop at Nottingham Writers’ Club where I am a member. The tutor was Bead Roberts, a name which I’m sure will be familiar to many of your readers. I asked her about using a pseudonym and she had no hesitation in advising me to use my real name. Soon after that workshop I had my first acceptance and I keep Bead regularly informed of all my successes.
It was quite a struggle to get accepted for People’s Friend but once I had made the breakthrough I found Shirley Blair to be extremely helpful. If your submission is good but not quite acceptable she will e-mail you and let you know where you’ve gone wrong. She allowed me to have three attempts at one of my submissions before it was accepted. In fact, she made a special point of congratulating me that The Rainbow Baby was the first time I got through at the first attempt. None of the other magazines have done this.
I think that the one strength I do have is perseverance. If I had been less determined I would have given up a long time ago. So my advice for those still struggling is to keep sending in those submissions.
Take a look at Keith’s Blog here – Dream it, then do it

You can find him on Twitter here @KeithHavers
Thanks Keith for agreeing to this, and since I put these questions together, I notice from the People’s Friend blog, that Shirley Blair is asking for more male writers. So, hope to see a lot more of your stories in our favourite story magazine Keith, and maybe I should be Steven instead of Susan…