Have a lovely Easter

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Enjoy Easter weekend, whichever way you’re going to. We’re still on painting the fence, in-between relaxing, reading, chatting to family who will be popping in. Also, I want to plant the garden with something from the local farm shop. The doughnut man is hoping to be busy, but I’m busy at the gym now, so I’ll be having one of my chocolate cornflake cakes instead. I do realise, they’re not diet food, but I’m not on a diet, only eating less. So instead of 5 cornflake cakes, I’ll have 2, and they’re small.

My on-line writing group who have helped enormously with my fiction writing over the last couple of years have now got a website. You can check us out here.

It’s great fun, and I know I’ll be telling you about my latest story published soon, thanks to all the help from my friends. And if I don’t, it’s good to be having fun along the way.

Woman’s Weekly have changed the magazine quite a lot lately. This weeks is great with a page on fiction editor Gaynor Davies, who writes in such a funny style, I’d like her to have a column of her own. Maybe I’ll write and let her know. I love the bit where she says her Gran looked back at her in the mirror. Mine has been doing that for ages, but luckily I longed to be like her one day, so be careful what you wish for. Also, the stories are brilliant as usual. Me and hubby are going to do the crossword, it’s a good excuse to sit down with a coffee. (Not that we need one:)

I’m reading ‘We that are Left’ Juliet Greenwood. And, ‘Call it Pretending’ Frances Di Plino, so I know I’m in for a treat.

Whether it’s gardening, knitting, reading or writing, or good old fashioned sitting around doing nothing….. Have a great weekend.

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Welcome Teresa Ashby

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It is my greatest pleasure to welcome our all time favorite People’s Friend writer – Teresa Ashby to my blog.

For quite a few years, I’ve been following Teresa’s stories, and I always used to think, ‘I’m sure she’s a bit like me,’ or does she even exist? Now, through following Teresa’s blog, it’s lovely to know more about the person behind all the wonderful stories, and having her as a guest is a great moment for me and my blog. Over to Teresa…

 
Teresa.     I’m very happy to be here at your lovely, happy, positive blog, Susan. I think this is one place we’re always guaranteed a smile – thank you for inviting me.

 
S/    I’ve been reading and enjoying your stories for a long time. Did you always plan to be a short story writer?

T/   Thank you, you say the nicest things. I didn’t set out to be a short story writer at all, although I don’t know why because I always loved reading them. I wanted to write novels, but once I started writing short stories, it became almost an obsession and I loved it!

S/     What was the title of the first story you had accepted by the ‘People’s Friend,’ and how did you celebrate?

T/    My first story in the People’s Friend was called “Happy Father’s Day” and that was in 1991. My son, who had just turned four, used to catch the mail as it came through the letterbox and sometimes our post lady would grab his hand and make him giggle. So we were already laughing when he brought me the letters. Well, I was over the moon when I realised I’d got an acceptance and I got straight on the phone to my mum. My husband arrived home from work that evening with a bottle of wine and we had a glass or three to celebrate.

S/      I like that you often have either a dog or cat, also, a loving family at the heart of some of your stories. Now, it’s great to know you through your blog and twitter/face-book etc. How do you fit the story writing into your busy day?

T/    If I can’t get to the computer, then I write in a notebook. But I find it really hard to get started if there’s something else that needs doing. I don’t have any sort of writing routine these days. But dogs, cats, family – they’re all brilliant for inspiration!

S/     How long does it take for you to get a story exactly how you want it, ready for sending to People’s Friend?

T/   The last story I wrote for the People’s Friend took me almost two weeks before I felt I’d got it right and it was nothing like the original by the time I’d finished twiddling. Sometimes I can write a story over a couple of days if I’m lucky! So it varies from one story to the next.

S/     What advice would you give, to someone like me, who feels as if they’re close to getting an acceptance with People’s Friend, but still waiting for that first one?

T/    I did a blog post a few years ago called Recognise Your Reader because I think there is a misconception about People’s Friend readers. http://teresaashby.blogspot.co.uk/2009/05/recognise-your-reader.html
My advice would be to write from the heart, use your own experiences and emotions and focus on your main characters. Use your feelings to describe their feelings. Have something change by the end of the story so that your reader feels they’ve gone on a journey with your main character and reached a satisfying conclusion. Respect your reader and of course most importantly, read the magazine – I can’t stress that enough. And if you’re close to getting an acceptance, just keep trying and take note of any advice or comments.

S/     How far in advance would you send a seasonal story, like Christmas for example?

T/     I think with the Friend, it’s a good idea to be thinking about six months in advance. It can help focus your mind and give you a theme if you’re writing for a particular date. But if you have say a Christmas story idea at Christmas, then get it written up!

S/     Thank you Teresa, for taking time to pop over.

T/     Thank you for having me! It’s been lovely!

Have a look here for some great reading. I recommend them all…….

Teresa’s Blog.  http://www.teresaashby.blogspot.com

https://twitter.com/TeresaAshby

 

Look out for another favorite ‘Friend’ writer around the middle of next month.

 

 

 

 

From shabby chic, to sleek teak.

 

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Here’s the before and after pictures of our garden fence. It’s cedar red to be precise, but that doesn’t rhyme with shabby chic. I was wondering what that white thing like a mushroom was in the picture, it’s a bit of washing that popped in there.

As we sat having a cup of tea, looking at the shabby version, we agreed that it looked quite rustic. Along the lines of faded Levi jeans. We almost wanted to leave it, but the fence paint will protect it for a while, hopefully. The red one is going to have another coat, when the weather picks up again. Too cold today.

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If you had lovely flowers last weekend, a tip to keep them looking fresh, is to add a teaspoon of sugar to the water, when you

change it every two or three days. Keep doing that, and they’ll last ages.

I’m going over some old stories that need re-writing. It’s amazing even a few months later, you can spot the flaws immediately. So hopefully with a bit of re-writing, they will appear fresher and be accepted somewhere else.

One of my stories has been accepted on Alfie dog, short story website, that will be published on 23rd April and there’s a new cosy crime  by Susan Wright published on Alfie dog for you to download, if like me, that’s your cup of tea.

Job hunting this week… I don’t mind if they ask you properly. What I can’t stand is when you read a job advert, and they say. ‘We expect you to hit the ground running, and give more than a hundred percent, be focused and a team player, by now I’ve logged off. I’m not an aeroplane I’m a human. Also, there are lots of apprentice jobs where the pay is peanuts, and I’m not a monkey either. Another annoying thing is when a twenty something fresh faced, lovely person asks me, ‘how would you react in a crisis?’ I’d love to say, ‘my children knew how to react is a crisis before you were born.’ But I don’t. There are two jobs (at the same place) I’m waiting to hear from quite near home, and my temp girl is good at finding jobs I like, so fingers crossed something will turn up.

In the meantime, I’m enjoying the time to write and read my books and People’s Friend magazines. Which leads me on to the good news that coming soon, exclusive to this blog…

An interview with everyone’s favorite People’s Friend writer, Teresa Ashby. Look out for that around the twelfth of April, it’s good.

 

Giggle blog, April.

Time for giggle blog, and this month the giggle is on me. You may remember, that I had a major surprise on the go for someone special who was having a big birthday, that isn’t for a few weeks yet? Well, it’s tricky keeping secrets when normally you tell each other everything, and I’m told, I whisper louder than I talk.

So, the surprise was underway, all the family agreed, it was a good idea, all going to share in the present, and that person in question would absolutely love it. Well, yesterday, I went on a mission, zipping along the motorway, in the red dragon, (son’s car). Hubby was out at work in our car, and I didn’t want to arouse suspicion. So off I went, not zipping, more tootling around the lanes of Leicestershire, noticing how the hedgerows were beginning to look lush, and how green and yellow finches were nestling on the hedgerows. I told our son, ‘don’t worry, I won’t drive fast in your car.’ He replied, ‘that’s the trouble, you drive too slow!’ I got lost along the way, but eventually found my destination.

I was in springer spaniel heaven. Black and white dogs to the right in a pen, lots of them. As the lady greeted me, she shouted, that brown and white one is puppy’s mum. She was gorgeous, with that look, ‘what have you brought me, anything, surely, something?’ Then going through the gate, was the one that was booked for the surprise present. He was too cute for words. He was cuddly, and decided my jumper was tasty, and my necklaces were quite good to chew on as well. She asked what we were going to call him. We’d all agreed that as he was to be hubby’s pressie, he could name him. I’d call him Bramble, or Sweep. His dad’s name is Bentley, and his mum is called malteser. ‘He’s ready to go at the weekend,’ she told me. Now it’s a bit early, but he’s the one we/I wanted.

So, being that the puppy needed to be named by the weekend, for his papers, I decided now was a good time to reveal the big birthday surprise, I couldn’t keep quiet any longer. Now, I don’t think I’ve ever seen such an adverse reaction to a surprise pressie.

‘We can’t afford a dog!’ was the first statement, and then ‘I’m getting more hours at work now.’ True, the part time job has gone to double hours as people are off sick. ‘You’re looking for a job,’ next statement. Then complete silence for a while. ‘How would it be fair to bring a dog home and not be here to look after him?’ There comes a point when you begin to realise that all these are true…. ‘We’re in the middle of doing the house up. Had you forgotten?’ No, that had crossed my mind somewhere along the line. It was beginning to come to my attention, that my big surprise was definitely that, but in a bad way. And, if I’m honest, as I was cuddling Bramble (I’ll call him now, because he’s my dog for the day) I was a bit worried about what would happen if the temping agency sent me out for a full time job. So, there goes the big birthday surprise. I have something else up my sleeve, maybe on reflection, it’s best kept there.

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Puppy for a day....

Puppy for a day….

On a serious note, even though it’s a giggle blog, goes to show you should never buy a dog for anyone. It’s something you have to do for yourself, and only if you can be home all the time with him. And, I’ve got my puppy for the day pictures to keep. Just like my black and white hubby, he has no grey areas, (except on his head) he says, at least you know where you are with him. And, if I’m honest, the fun was in the finding the cutest puppy, a day out in the red dragon, and cuddles for a while. Blimey, I’m turning into one of those crazy old ladies, who drives around the countryside picking out puppy’s and then ringing up the next day to say, ‘ssssooooorryyy,,,, but you seeee…..’ honestly, I put it down to menopausal madness… The lady had had someone the week before me, ring to say she’d call, and she didn’t. Oh, well, at least I called for a cuddle. I’ll now enjoy springer stories on Teresa’s blog.

Now we have more gigglers. If you want to be one, all you have to do is post what’s made you giggle lately, at the start of each month.

Lynne.   Teresa.   The Busy Teapot.   Debbie..

Until next time….. a puppy is for life, and never buy one as a present.

Tempting temping.

Temping week is over, and I had a great time. Really friendly people, and my own little office to answer the phone, and sort the post, tick off a register of who’s in, who’s out on business, and who’s on holidays.  Felt a bit like being the teacher, for a week. I’ve just got to know who is who, and I’ve left.

It made me quite hungry, as talk of food goes on all over the place. And, samples of food, piles of bacon sandwiches into the board room today, while I was at the coffee machine. The lady in the next office has foodie conversations all day long. A jolly, bubbly person, who laughs nearly all day as well, what a job! It was only by day 2 I realised I was putting my wooden spoons in the shredder, thinking it was a bin. It worked alright though, I know that as I had to go and shred a wad of paper today. Trouble is, when I’d finished, the machine didn’t want to stop. Someone passing didn’t know either, so he just switched it off…

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????So when I came home, me and Alan had bacon egg and chips, with some nice fresh bread from the bakery, there’s no hope for the diet much is there?

I’ve published a book of 20 poems here. Hope you enjoy reading them if you decide to download it. Some of them, you may have already seen, others you might not have.

Looks like the weather is going to be nice for the weekend, time for the garden again, hopefully.

photo_9864_20091114[1]Have a great weekend, whichever way you spend it.

 

 

Scrubbers in the garden.

No, not me and Nellie Aldridge, and if you’re reading this Nellie, you know I don’t mean it. And, I’m not going to google you, because I’m sure you’re sitting there, eating your sweets, and saying ‘who cares.’

The sun was out in Warwickshire today, so it was great to get in the garden. Me and Alan were scrubbing down the fence panels, that were green, and faded, with a solution that takes the panels back to the wood, ready for painting. They look like new, but will be better when they’re harvest gold, which is the colour we’re planning to paint them. The solution was strong, so when the gloves got soaking wet, we used carrier bags on our hands. Looked funny, but effective.

Next week, I’m a temp. Working as the receptionist in a local factory, answering the phone, and sorting the post and ad hoc, duties. Looking forward to that. I went for an induction day last week, and the people are friendly. Especially the lady who I’m covering for, as she’s off on holiday. As long as I press the right buttons, and don’t cut anyone off, it should be alright. I’ll let you know.

Now, someone not far away has a big birthday coming up in the next few weeks. He likes surprises, so I have a couple lined up, but can’t say anymore as walls have ears as Mrs Brown says. Our Son tells me, ‘you won’t keep it a secret, I’ll bet’ he also tells me that I whisper even louder than I talk. He swears he can hear me two rooms away. So my lips are sealed for the moment.

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Welcome Suzanne Ross Jones.

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Hi Susan – and thank you so much for inviting me to visit your blog today.

Q1.  When did your first story appear in People’s Friend?

Suzanne.     My first People’s Friend story appeared in the issue dated 6th October 2010. As I’m sure you can imagine, I was thrilled – especially as a lot of luck was involved in that first acceptance.

I don’t generally enter writing competitions, but a series of editor interviews appeared in Writers’ Forum – these were written by Sue Moorcroft and were each accompanied by a competition, with the winning entries being published in the relevant magazines. I felt The People’s Friend competition was too good to miss – not because I expected to win, but because each entrant could request a critique from Sue.

My entry, The Baby of the Family, made it to the final ten – which was a lovely shock. As a result, I was invited to submit future stories directly to Shirley Blair – and my next submission, Home Comforts, was accepted. Shortly after that, Baby was also accepted.

Q2.  Did you send many in to them before you had your first acceptance?

Suzanne.    I’d been writing off and on since I was 16 and, while I’d mainly concentrated on writing novels, I did have the odd attempt at a short story. I’ve always been fond of The People’s Friend – it was always my gran’s favourite magazine and she’d introduced me to it when I was a child – so it seemed natural to submit some of my stories to them. My first People’s Friend submission was in 1994 – and I continued to send them a story or two most years until they accepted Home Comforts for publication.

Q3.  I know you write pocket novels. Roughly, how long does it take to write one?

Suzanne.    I fit my writing in around my family and a day job, so my writing time’s limited. It usually takes me around three months to write a People’s Friend pocket novel from idea to submission.

It takes me a while to write my way into a story, so the beginning is always slower than the middle and the end – and there don’t seem to be any exceptions to this, even if I already know the setting and who’s involved.

The pocket novel I’m working on at the moment is the last in a trilogy (Kinbrae Kisses) about the McGregor brothers. The setting was already there, so you’d think it would have been a faster start – but it wasn’t.

Q4. How far in advance do you send a seasonal story for example, I know you like stories with snow scenes.

Suzanne.    I do like snow scenes very much. I think they’re handy for writers, as they can force characters to stay together in one place.

For seasonal stories, I try to submit at least three months in advance. I’d like to work further in advance, but I never seem to get organised in time.

When I post out a seasonal story, I always write a note on the envelope to highlight that the submission is time sensitive.

Q5. How many characters would you say was enough for a people’s friend story?

Suzanne.    Three or four named characters are probably more than enough for most short stories. As with all things, there will be exceptions and more characters will sometimes work their way in, but I try to keep characters to the minimum absolutely necessary for the story.

Q6. When you visited People’s Friend headquarters recently, what was it like to meet the people who say ‘yes’ to so many of your stories.

Suzanne.     Meeting the editors at The People’s Friend was fantastic. They were all so welcoming and every bit as lovely in real life as they’ve always seemed. I so appreciate that the editors I’ve worked with, Shirley Blair and Tracey Steel, took time out of their busy schedules to speak to me. I still can’t believe I was lucky enough to be invited to visit.

Newly available for Kindle:

It Had To Be You – originally published as a People’s Friend Pocket Novel.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Had-Be-You-Kinbrae-Kisses-ebook/dp/B00I6NKI78/

The Housewarming & Other Stories – a second collection of 12 short stories, all previously published in The People’s Friend.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Housewarming-Other-Stories-Short-ebook/dp/B00I7C5AN0/

Published in Large Print on 1st April – available in libraries soon:

Your Secret Smile

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Your-Secret-Smile-Montcraig-Sweethearts-ebook/dp/B00E0FET4E/

The second McGregor Brothers Pocket Novel will be on the shelves in newsagents and supermarkets in May.

Facebook writer page: https://www.facebook.com/suzannerossjoneswriting

Twitter: @sj_suz

Blog: http://www.suzanne-sj.blogspot.co.uk/

Thank you Suzanne for popping by for a chat, and great to know that you have more stories in the pipeline.

More from People’s Friend writers soon.