And, on a positive note …

I’ve gone to ground on the writing front lately due, in part, to another pesky bout of ill health; I seem to have been smitten with a plague, this year.Star Letter

However, I do have some good news to report. My contribution to the ‘Letters To The Editor’ page — Writing Magazine, January 2016 edition — was awarded the accolade of ‘Star Letter’, so, although it isn’t officially the new year yet, it’s a good start, wouldn’t you agree? I was thrilled! Star Letter 2For my efforts I received a copy of the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook 2016, pictured here in my conservatory and just itching to impart oodles of invaluable writing tips and information on the plethora of marketing opportunities for all would-be writers. YearbookIt’s unfortunate that the supply far exceeds the demand, but we can’t let that put us off if we want to succeed, can we now?

I was also lucky enough to be shortlisted — as was my blogging buddy Rosemary Johnson, aka Charlie Britten of Write on fame — in the The 2015 Alfie Dog Fiction International Short Story Competition, (Phew! What a mouthful!) which for a first time entry isn’t at all bad, methinks. Congrats to the winners!

There are a few unfinished stories still sitting in files on my laptop; not sure when my mojo will return to complete them, but I’m trying not to stress out about it because as Scarlett O’Hara likes to teach us: After all, tomorrow is another day.

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NaNowriMo copyNaNoWriMo is now a week in and although I’ve earned a badge for writing 5,000 words, if I continue at my current rate, it will take me until January 3, 2016 to complete 50,000. The reason for this is that I can’t seem to break the habit of editing everything as I go along; that, and failing to prioritise my writing above other activities demanding my attention.

As NaNo is an exercise in writing — a stream of consciousness almost, with time later to spend editing — the idea is to get the words down as a draft, so you have something to edit. When you are continually editing, it is easy to lose momentum and become disheartened, not only with the content but also with your progress or, should that be, lack of it? Continue reading

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Another Short Story Review

Magic Christmas TreeA recent survey concluded that October 24th was the day many early birds would start their Christmas shopping, ahead of the festive season. Not to brag, but mine is almost complete and to jolly all of you along who haven’t even started yet (and to have an opportunity to use the sparkly picture above again) here is another short story, published by Alfie Dog Fiction, to boost the Yuletide spirit:

Adam’s First Case is an uplifting and often humorous story, by Patsy Collins, with the familiar theme of good overcoming evil. It highlights a young boy, Adam, who dreams of becoming a policeman when he grows up. Until then, he has promised the community bobby that he’ll keep a lookout to help track down a prolific burglar, operating in his area.

When Adam, inadvertently, comes across his mum and dad in the garden with a new bike bought as a Christmas present for his brother, Adam is sworn to secrecy. His parents explain that they are ‘helping’ Father Christmas because he is busy taking care of ‘the magic’ of the season, which enables the innocent lad to fill in a few blanks of his own concerning the genial man’s existence.

However, the scene is now set for confusion and doubt to abound after a series of events leaves him turning detective to question his newfound beliefs, unsure as to which direction to take. An inspiring Christmas tale!

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A Trifling Success

TV Times 1Any writing achievements have been thin on the ground for me this year, so I was pleased to see my letter commending River, the new BBC crime drama, published in next week’s edition of the TV Times. This is about the TV Times scansixth letter I’ve had printed in this particular magazine, and whilst it’s only a nominal fee and I’ve had to hold off the retirement plans to the South of France for a little longer, I reckon once I’ve cracked the Letter of the Week — always seems to elude me somehow — my plans will be back on track. Of course, at this rate of pay the budget won’t run to a grand villa; instead it’ll more likely find me sleeping on the beach, underneath an old newspaper and rifling through rubbish bins for my dinner.

Continue reading

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Tilly — Our Temperamental Cat

TillyTo say that our remaining cat, Tilly, has come in to her own since the loss of our other cat in the summer would be an understatement, to say the least. After years of finding herself the underdog — pardon the pun — and kowtowing to two older and more dominant felines, she’s evolved into somewhat of a prima donna with exacting requirements as to the standard of care she expects, now she’s the sole proprietor.

At 15 plus, she’s still sprightly enough to charge down the stairs like an arachnophobe being chased by a three-foot spider to advise us that her litter tray has been sullied and needs immediate attention. Continue reading

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Short Story Reviews for Alfie Dog Fiction

Magic Christmas TreeFairly recently, I decided to chance my arm at submitting an entry to the Alfie Dog Fiction International Short Story Competition. Part of the criteria for entry was to pay for five short stories from the Alfie Dog site, in lieu of a fee. Most of the downloads I made had a Christmas theme — bit early, I know — but as I’ve already made good headway into this year’s presents, I decided it would be a good way to get me in the mood for the season. Here are the reviews for two of the stories: Continue reading

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Eclectic Moments

Eclectic Momentsby Vanessa J. Horn

Eclectic Moments is appropriately titled when considering this latest short story collection by Vanessa J. Horn and published by Alfie Dog Fiction. There is evidence throughout of the author’s love and extensive knowledge of music as illustrated by the stories that are beautifully lyrical in their representation of musical pieces. The book certainly is a mixed bag, with a few tales giving fictionalised accounts of actual events. Personally, I found the diversity of subject matter interesting given that it included the perceived final thoughts of Ruth Ellis, the last woman in Britain to be hanged; the total immersion of a music student intent on winning a coveted prize; the weaving together of scenes from great literary works to show how the imagination can provide a virtual reality mini-break, and the devastation of Pompeii, to name but a few. However, reading the completed story doesn’t always match up to its promise. Continue reading

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The Mslexia Survey and How Women Can Help Redress the Literary Balance

MslexiaIn the latest issue of Mslexia, my interest was piqued by the results of a survey that asked: The big question: Why don’t women submit their writing? The conclusion was enlightening, albeit a little depressing.

I remembered completing this survey online, and although I do submit some of my work, I often leave other projects unfinished believing them to be sub-standard and not polished enough for publication. To add insult to injury, with each rejection, my self-doubt increases and my submission output diminishes. A vicious circle, you might say and, judging by the outcome of the survey, it would seem I’m not alone. Continue reading

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Chatsworth Country Fair

Chatsworth HouseLast Sunday we visited Chatsworth Country Fair in Bakewell, along with what felt like the rest of the United Kingdom. It was a three-day event held in the grounds of Chatsworth Estate, which accommodates the magnificent Chatsworth House — the seat of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, one of the most influential aristocratic families in England. Continue reading

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What attracts you to a social media site?

Social mediaI am not on Facebook; I don’t like it. But, I’m also savvy enough to realise that I’ll probably open a page eventually, given the emphasis on self-promotion via social media sites. Facebook has many merits: fast and effective communication to a worldwide audience and free connectivity between a widespread network of family and friends, being just a couple of these. Unfortunately, like Twitter, it isn’t always used in the spirit in which it was intended, allowing individuals to subject the world to the minutiae of their humdrum lives and recreate reality, to the bewilderment of those closest to them. Continue reading

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