This picture is to remind us that summer isn’t far away, time to make plans for what colours and flowers you’re having this year. I’m definitely going to get some purple petunias for tubs and baskets. Sweet peas are another favourite of mine and a flower every garden should have as they can easily be grown in tubs. They’re worth having for that delicate smell that’s better than any air freshner.
The job on the building site has come to an end now and the sparkly new site is complete. I’m having a bit of a break, and then something lovely will turn up. As one door closes another one opens, and I know that’s a cliche, but what I believe.
Now time to get a cup of tea on and go to watch the voice. Whatever you’re creating this week, have fun.
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.
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.
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.
How lovely to hear that I’ve won Lynne Hackles book – Ghost writing. Thanks to her daughter Leanne who has a new website. http://www.lingerlongerlingerie.co.uk That’s the tamer version, so good luck with it Leanne. I’m sure with Valentine’s Day on the horizon you’ll get off to a good start. Glad to hear you’re always on the look out for a money spinner. I am too, but I’m not a millionth of a way to being a millionaire yet, except for the shortbread version.
I already have Writing from Life on my bookshelf which is a fantastic book, so really looking forward to the ghost writing one.
As our little shop of inspirations is closing down, due to the Council knocking the buildings down, we have to be out by the end of March. One family asked me if they can have a souveneir to remember us by. I asked ‘what did you have in mind?’ They said, ‘Anything.’ Being lost for words, which is most unusual for me I said, ‘Leave it with me.’ Quite a mistake as they then said. ‘Oh we won’t have to pay for it will we?’ My goodness. We’re already selling things off at half price…… Her Sister said, ‘Daffodils, or something like that.’ Massive coincidence that there’s a pot of artificial daffs on the counter. Today, she was eyeing our clock, saying. ‘I like your clock’ I’m busy writing all these things down of course.
Another lady who never bought much came in today and filled her boots, and left saying. ‘I’d rather give you the money than any other shop.’ Well, yes, I’m sure you would dear at half price. Isn’t life the funniest thing?