Thursday, March 31, 2011

Good deal at Smiths

I need more books to read like I need the proverbial hole in the head, but yesterday I found a deal that was hard to resist. WHSmith were offering the latest novel by Carlos Ruis Zafon (of 'Shadow of the Wind' fame) for only £2.99 if you bought a copy of The Times.

I've read a couple of books by Zafon ('Shadow' and its follow-on) and enjoyed them, and although I don't usually read The Times (I'm a Guardian girl at heart) it seemed too good an offer to miss. Newspaper and book were soon in a bag, swinging along at my side ready to be devoured at home.

As far as I know the offer's still on, and I think other books may also have been included. So if you want a cheap paperback, hurry along to your nearest branch of Smiths!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Now here's a challenge

Yesterday I had a migraine and couldn't concentrate on any of my longer stories. A few days ago I came across a new challenge, courtesty of 5x5 Fiction, which involves writing a story in only 25 words, using five sentences of exactly five words each. Even your bio has to be exactly five words long! I settled down to have a play with words.

My goodness. I thought writing a 75 word story for Paragraph Planet was hard enough but this proved a real tussle. I found I could cope with the structure reasonably well (the five sentences) but what I struggled with was fitting a proper story into that structure, rather than just a series of sentences. My first few efforts were terribly lame and there were a lot of screwed up pieces of paper in the waste paper basket. Eventually, though, I managed to cudgel my brain into producing two different 25 word stories that weren't, at first glance, too bad. I'll give them another polish in a day or two and then hope to submit them to 5x5 for their next anthology.

I'm not sure the exercise helped my migraine much, but it was surprisingly good fun!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Photo opportunity

Just a quick reminder that my new little ficlet, Photo Opportunity, is available right now at Paragraph Planet.

Miss it today and you'll have to wait till the end of the month to find it again in the archives!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

New paragraph

Paragraph Planet have just accepted another of my 75 word ficlets, this one called Photo Opportunity. It's based on a real life event and I still have the photo to prove it!

Check out the site tomorrow (Wednesday 23rd March) to see the paragraph for yourselves.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Authors for Japan

If like me you've been scouring the internet looking desperately for ways to help the people of Japan after last week's earthquake, then this might be just what you need.

The Authors for Japan group have got together to organise an online auction of 'writerly things' with all proceeds going to the Japanese Red Cross. Lots you can bid for include donated books, mentorships, editing sessions, and even your name as a character in a forthcoming Doctor Who novel!!

To take part follow the 'index' link at top right of the main page. This will take you to a full list of all the goodies on offer; to bid you leave a comment on the relevant post about the item you're interested in.

Happy bidding!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Radgepacket 5 launch party

Good news for fans of industrial strength fiction - the next volume in the Radgepacket series is due imminently from Byker Books. Radgepacket 5 is the same mix of the dark, the weird and the shocking from writers billed as 'unsigned and unhinged', plus a novella from published author Danny King. And still all for only £5.99, which works out at about 30p per story!

To celebrate the launch, Byker's editor is organising a launch party on Saturday 19th March, from 3.00-5.00 pm, at The Back Page sports book shop in Newcastle upon Tyne. There'll be wine, there'll be nibbles, there'll be a guest speaker, there'll be the chance to mingle with the authors and get a copy of the book signed. There'll also be the chance to browse the shelves of The Back Page, which is rather like a sports enthusiasts' version of Aladdin's Cave. (I know, I was there last year.)

If it's anything like the Radgepacket 4 launch party then it'll be a fun, friendly, relaxed event and well worth an afternoon in Newcastle - and a Brown Ale or two.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Pun fun

I couldn't resist, I just couldn't. It's dreadful, and will no doubt make readers everywhere groan. But my latest story is about a man taking revenge for the theft of a Faberge egg. And I just had to call it 'My Own Eggsecutioner'.

Sorry! You can queue up to hit me later...

Wednesday, March 09, 2011


It's been a truly hectic day today, with trips out to a charity jumble sale and to the supermarket. We've also had a visit from the local Planning Officer to discuss our plans for an extension to the kitchen, and I'm busy packing. So I wasn't expecting to get anything much done in the way of writing, but how wrong I was.

Just before tea I typed the last full-stop in the last story for my crime anthology - a dark little piece about a stolen Faberge egg. I'll need to let it lie fallow for a few days and then re-read it, and I might want to rewrite the ending (always the bit I have most difficulty with). After that there's one more story that needs some serious TLC; but after *that*, all that's left is a general polish and tidy up to make sure all the formatting is consistent and that everything makes sense. And then I can start sending out query letters.

It's all really exciting and I still can't quite believe that I've finished the whole thing after all this time. I first started collecting dark, crime-themed stories together some time last year and it's taken the best part of a year to write enough to fill an anthology. Stories have popped on and off the contents list as the overall theme changed, and as I wrote better or more appropriate work. But now I have fifteen stories of varying lengths and varying shades of noir - and I'm feeling quite pleased with myself. All I need now is to find an interested publisher. Wish me luck!

Monday, March 07, 2011

Poking about

On Saturday we were hoping to get out walking but the weather gods must have heard me after all (see below) because it's back to cold, grey gloom. For something indoorsy to do we decided to head for Kendal's museum which we've never been in before, mainly because it hardly ever seems to be open. Just lately, though, they've amended the opening times to include Saturday mornings from 10.30.

We arrived a little early so parked up and trotted round the corner to the Sleddal Hall antiques centre, which we'd seen on a recent episode of Antiques Road Trip. It's based in a higgledy-piggledy seventeenth century building and isn't so much quirky as completely bonkers. Room after room opens up, each one stuffed to the rafters with, well, stuff. Stuff in boxes, stuff on shelves, stuff dangling from the ceiling, stuff piled on the floor. In some rooms it was a job to actually move about, without turning sideways and breathing in. But it was all, without exception, fascinating and just the sort of place you might find buried treasure, or at the very least that one antique something you've been looking for for years.

By now the museum was open so we headed back and spent the next hour poking happily round that. Like many small town museums it's a complete hodge-podge of local exhibits: everything from pots and altars from the local Roman fort to a whole window from the booking office of the local hotel. There's a bit about Kendal castle behind a mock castellated wall, and a whole section on Alfred Wainwright, the celebrated guidebook writer and illustrator. Upstairs there was a room full of wildlife panoramas which made good use of a collection of stuffed fluffy animals and birds. I hate these when they're presented in glass cases with labels left over from Victorian times, but at least here they've shown some imagination in displaying them in their natural habitats.

Considering the museum is free, it's exceptionally good value and a great place to spend a bitter March morning.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Er, boing?

Wow, what a gorgeous day yesterday was. The sun shone more or less from start to finish, there was hardly any breeze, and although the air temperature wasn't all that high the sun, for the first time, felt really warm.

Dave and I gave up on work mid-afternoon and went out for a walk. Only round the streets because he needed the post office, but it was still wonderful to see all the spring flowers emerging and listen to the birds cheeping in the trees. Everyone we met was cheerful and people were even sitting out in deck chairs in their front gardens, faces turned up to the sun.

I'm whispering because I don't want the weather gods to hear me, but it rather looks as though spring might, at long long last, be on its way...

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Senior moment

I'm cross with myself this morning. I've been so immersed in my anthology that I've been neglecting other projects, and had completely forgotten that the deadline for pattinase's 'Scarry Night' noir short story contest was the end of February. And... I missed it. Rats! It's particularly annoying as the idea - writing a story based on a snippet of overheard conversation - was something I really wanted to have a go at.

Luckily lots of other people weren't as daft as me and she's had a great response to her challenge. You can read the stories at pattinase's blog. I'm looking forward to trawling through them myself, even though mine isn't one of them.