Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Litro accept a story

Yesterday I got back from a few days away to the great news that Litro Magazine, a well-regarded British literary magazine distributed free to libraries and the like, have accepted a story of mine for their (relatively new) online 'Ones to Watch' section.

The story, called Spark to a Flame, is a topical little piece about an arson attack on a school. I originally wrote it for the revenge anthology since the twist in the tail contains definite overtones of vengeance. But I can easily replace it with something else and I'm delighted to be part of Litro's new venture. Look out for more news of when the story is likely to appear in the next few days.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Scribbling again

Little by little, now that the intense hard work of preparing the house for sale is over, I'm starting to write again.

I can never concentrate when there's too much going on. I need to be able to hear my characters' voices in my head, and if I can't hear myself think then I certainly can't hear them think.

But although there's still work to be done it's more of a 'holding action' now, of keeping everything clean and tidy while the agent brings potential buyers round. I can actually stop to draw breath again, and there's even time to sit and just think. All of which means progress on the story front. I've finished one more very short one for the revenge anthology (remember that from earlier in the year?) and am rattling through a second as I type.

It's a huge relief not to have all those words bottled up inside me with no way of getting them out.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Psst! Wanna buy a house?

The hard work is finally over and we signed contracts with an estate agent on Monday to put our Birmingham house on the market. He braved a howling gale (ex Hurricane Katia...) to take photos of the place, but in spite of that has managed some stunning shots which we're delighted with. I never realised how tidy everything looked!

We had a couple of viewings yesterday; no offers yet but it's still very early days - it hasn't even been advertised in the local papers yet. We're expecting a quietish weekend, and then for all hell to break loose later on next week.

If anyone is interested, either in buying a 5-bed Victorian house in Birmingham or just in being nosy (grin), then you can find all the details here. And anyone who's seen references to our 'pointy' house in my biography can perhaps see what I meant...

Saturday, September 10, 2011

No more hurricanes, thanks

America is being a tad too generous with its ex-hurricanes at the moment. So far we've had the tail-end of Irene (gales, rain); Katia is expected on Sunday night (more gales); and Lee is hovering in the wings and looking far too likely to cruise across the Atlantic in the other storms' wake.

This is Not Good if you're about to put your house up for sale. We're eyeing the nearby trees nervously and wondering if they're going to chuck nasty big branches all over the garden, or even worse, topple over on the roof. It's a nerve-wracking time.

The rain, on the other hand, is welcome. We heard on the local news last week that this summer has been the driest in the West Midlands since the long hot summer of 1976. Pretty much everywhere else has had a damp and depressing summer but every time it rained somewhere else, Birmingham missed it. The end result is a garden that looks as thought someone poisoned it, since so many plants are either losing their leaves to conserve moisture, or dying. We've been watering but there's only so much you can do with a hosepipe; what we really need is several days of good, heavy, non-stop rain.

Perhaps we need those hurricanes after all...

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

A bit of Shakespearean fun

Oxford Dictionaries online are running a fun little app that you can use to find out how 'Shakespearean' your writing is.

Simply copy a paragraph of your writing, paste it into the box and hit the button at the bottom. It calculates how much like the Bard you are by comparing the number of words you use that he also used. I got 85%, which is pretty good going in a small paragraph about a swimming lesson!

Mind you, the calculation was so incredibly fast (really, almost instantaneous) that the cynical part of me wonders if it just plucks a number out of the air at random.

It's still a bit of fun, though.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Quiet but crazy

Things have been a little quiet on the writing front the last few weeks. Partly, I think, this is due to so many people being away on holiday. Partly it's my own fault, because in the strange world of Real Life (TM) things have been anything but quiet as we prepare to put our Birmingham house on the market.

This entails a huge amount of work. Finishing off all those irritating little jobs that we started and never 'got around to'. Redecorating to tone down any colours that aren't neutral enough. Decluttering. Cleaning on top of and behind all those large pieces of furniture that you can't normally be bothered to move. Taking bag after bag of excess clutter to charity shops or (if beyond repair) to the tip. And endless tidying, snipping and sweeping up in the garden.

We've been at it, on and off, since April, but the last two to three weeks have just been non-stop. I ache in places I didn't know I had, I seem to be permanently sneezing, and as for work, I've hardly even looked at it let alone written anything new.

Never mind, we're down to the last few tasks now and hoping the house will be on the market sometime next week. After that we settle down to wait for viewings, buyers and the like, and to catch our breath. And after that, I'm hoping to get scribbling again. It's been too long without and I'm starting to get irritable. Never a good sign.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Missed it?

If you missed reading my latest 75-word story Early to Bed, don't worry. There's another chance to catch it at the Paragraph Planet archives, which have just been updated for August. Simply follow this link and select 21st August from the drop-down box. Hope you like it!