Wednesday 31 October 2012

Comment is Free...

Comment is free. Not sure who said that originally, but I'm sure someone did...

Happy Halloween - if you're reading this on Wednesday; otherwise hello and thank you for
visiting. :-)

Now two delightful bloggers, Patsy and Rosemary have awarded me the top commenters award, thank you ladies.

I enjoy reading the comments you leave me, and I like to read those left by other bloggers (on posts by those I follow - in a non-creepy way of course) as it's good to get other viewpoints on the same subject.

And if you leave a comment here, I know I'm not just talking to the ether...

As those who know me, or have known me for many years will confirm, I usually have an opinion on most things, but I'm getting better at not commenting when it's probably a good idea to keep quiet...

As my top commenters have already been awarded this I'm not sure I have anyone left to mention. But if I look through past posts and find a few, I'll add their names in- so watch out!

The phrase 'comment is free' comes from C P Scott- a British journalist, publisher and politician. He was the editor of the Manchester Guardian (now the Guardian, which has a column, Comment is free ).

The full quote is: "Comment is free, but facts are sacred."

A worthy quote...

Monday 29 October 2012

Is the Random/Penguin Merger Just the Start?

Over the weekend there were a few media discussions about the potential merger between Random House and Penguin Group.

Early today (Monday) the merger was confirmed, read the details from Random House here.

"The new name will be Penguin Random House. Until the closing, the companies will maintain their current separate operations and continue conducting business independently."

 (If only they'd gone for Random Penguin :-) )

While they've agreed, the regulatory authorities will be sure to look at whether there is any competition conflict. If they decide to look into it, that will delay the completion of the merger; but no doubt the owners of the two groups (Bertelsmann, and Pearson) knew it was likely and will no doubt progress with the rest of their plans in the meantime.

Though I can understand why they've chosen this route.

Apart they are not only competing again Amazon and Apple, but also against each other. While books are selling, the digital side of the market is going full steam and they're still playing catch up...

Like any company (whatever the industry) mergers mean changes. There are bound to be areas where downsizing will happen, so it's going to create worry for some employees.

Marjorie Scardino, chief executive of Pearson, said " "... Together, the two publishers will be able to share a large part of their costs, to invest more for their author and reader constituencies and to be more adventurous in trying new models in this exciting, fast-moving world of digital books and digital readers.” "

(author and reader constituencies?) I'm always suspicious when any executive starts talking shorthand, it makes me think they're glossing over less than pleasant facts- but that's just my personal opinion.

There's been years of small publishing companies being bought up and merged to form these big publishing groups, now they're cannibalising themselves.

Small independent presses are flourishing and getting authors nominated for high profile awards. So perhaps they are where new authors should be aiming their submissions?

I wonder how long it will be before the big six become the big three? And from there, two, or even perhaps one, so they can compete size wise with Amazon?

2013 will certainly be interesting...

Friday 26 October 2012

Changes for the Better...

As you may have noticed I've made a few changes with the blog.

I know the new blogger interface hasn't been popular, but I've discovered it does have some advantages- more variety in the background wallpapers to start with.

(I was changed over quite early on- within a few weeks of them warning they would start converting blogs automatically- bit of a shock, but I've got used to it.)

Also I've changed to a more recent profile photo. It was taken at the writers club Awards Night last year. I cropped off the antlers and bells- it really wouldn't give the impression of a serious writer if I'd kept them visible... :-)

I've still got a few things to change and sort out, but I have to use an alternative browser to do that.

Previously I could edit the side bar gadgets in the layout, but now all that happens is the gadget box opens and tells me the page can't be found, or just brings up the Chesil picture from the top of the page and a message telling me I can't access that page.

So if you've had this type of problem, try another browser and access the gadgets just as you did previously...

The other change is with the anthology.

I've been able to include two other pieces of micro fiction (to add to the existing two). I'd originally had to choose between these four pieces, so I'm really pleased to have been given the opportunity to add them.

This means I will have two entries under each name, my own and my Serena Lake pseudonym.

I'm finally getting excited about the anthology, and making plans for promoting it both individually and as part of the group- the group's exciting news will have to remain hush-hush for the moment, as there are deadlines to hit first.

I'm sure 2013 will bring a lot more changes, but these are enough for now... :-)


Wednesday 24 October 2012

My New E-Reader...

Over the summer my Sony Pocket e-reader began needing the battery charging before I could open the reader, even when it was still three quarters charged- it was clearly malfunctioning.

So I accepted that I either paid a horrible amount of money to get it working again, or buy a new e-reader. Well there really wasn't a contest. I could buy a brand new reader and a few books for what it would cost to repair. And I needed more storage too.

I'd been considering a Kindle but didn't want to be locked into only buying e-books from Amazon, so I was interested by a display of kobo's in WH Smith (when I'd only popped in to look for a plastic box).

I was trying to work out how to get from one page on the reader screen to the next, when a child of no more than 8 years old, out with her grandparents, proceeded to whizz through the pages on the nearest device with a few slides of her fingers.

Yes, I hadn't understood that the idea of touch-screens was sweeping movements...I'm a simple basic phone person, nothing that needs sliding. :-)

Resorting to the tactic of all technology bemused adults, I got an assistant to help me.

The three latest readers, mini, touch, and glo were on stands and connected up so I got a demonstration of how they worked, and was able to ask the 'kobo' assistant questions and get an answer immediately-great customer service (if only other stores had staff like this).

My only question was which one did I choose?

Should I pay £59.99 for the mini- ideal for fitting in the pocket, 1GB storage, with built in wi-fi for downloading ease; or spend a bit more on the glo (£99.99) and have the added advantage of an integrated front-light with adjustable brightness, the 1GB storage, but with the ability to use a Micro SD card for extra storage if needed...

Now if you read in bed, or are travelling as a passenger in a car when it's dark outside, then the light option is essential, though using the light will drain the battery quicker.

I decided to buy the glo and the assistant even helped set it up while I was in store, so when I got home all I needed to do was sign into and download my kobo desktop, plug in my reader and synchronise it.

It was then an enjoyable hour (or two) browsing through the book categories, and then downloading a few free previews of books I'm interested in buying. Some are books by authors I've read before, others are new to me.

I'm sure there will be elements that confuse me, but I can pop in store and ask the assistant if I need to, which is great.

I'm mastering the sweeping motion, and not accidentally opening the dictionary too often now.

And best of all, I should be able to load the One Word Challenge Anthology onto it, when it's published in early December, so I can show relatives and friends my stories. :-)

My only problem now is resisting reading, so I can get on with writing...

Monday 22 October 2012

Delays and Competition Reminders...

I had hoped to have completed the redesign of my blog by this week, but technology and the new Blogger interface have decided otherwise. It isn't as simple anymore...

So I think the changes will be occurring slowly.

Now for the competition reminders- just in case you missed them the first time round.

These are free to enter:

You only have until tomorrow ( 23rd) to get your 50 word ghost story competition entry submitted to The Times. Details here.

The competition closes at 5pm, and even though e-mails should be instant, they don't always arrive a moment later, so don't leave it to the last minute to press send.

A little longer for submission is the Mail on Sunday Novel Competition with a deadline of 29th October- but this is a postal entry only.

50-150 words of a novel opening using Train in it somewhere. Details here.

(You'll also find details of the Erewash Writers current competitions on the link above too.)

Entry fee competitions:

And finally the current Words with Jam competitions, closing on the 31st October. These can be entered online. You can find the details here.

Friday 19 October 2012

Looking at the Pocket Novel Replacement...

The Pocket Novel replacement Easy Read is now available in stores, and it really is a different item in appearance as well as texture.

It's also being sold in places that it didn't previously appear for sale, as I found today.

Popping into the Marks and Spencer food hall in the city centre (for my favourite bottle of wine and four in a pack chocolate √©clairs) I passed the magazine display and there were the new reads. And yes they do stand out against the magazines behind them.

Knowing Sally Quilford was going to be one of the first authors in the new line I immediately reached  for her name before looking at the other offerings.

Romance with Liaison and Crime with Intrigue
Not only do they look like a book, but the cover feels like a paperback too.

(excuse the lack of correct colour in my picture, but I'm an amateur at Photoshop.)

The earlier change in cover design- which was an improvement- which had the thicker covers too, just didn't give the feeling of a book, unlike these new

Yes, they do make you think Mills and Boon when you look at them, but that
can't be all bad when you consider how well M&B books sell.

And with the current trend in black based covers for the latest trend- erotica- it's bound to get potential readers stopping to look at them.

These books certainly won't get their front covers damaged or creased as easily as the old paper pocket novels did.

In fact these could sit quite happily on a bookshelf alongside regular paperbacks.

The only complaint I do have, is that these new issues don't have the title/author name on the spine, so however you store them, you'll have to remember the number of your favourite for re-reading or be prepared to go through them all to find the one you want...

I haven't started reading either of my purchases yet, so how big a change there's been in substance I can't tell you.

But I do think they will be very popular, and with four to choose from each time, I'm sure everyone will find the one or ones they like.

If you pop over to Sally Quilford's blog you have the chance to win a signed copy of her Easy Read story, 'Bonfire Memories', the first in the Intrigue option.

If you've seen the new design in your local stores, how well displayed was it? Does it stand out against the products around it? Where has it actually been placed?

And if you've read any of the new stories what did you think of them?

I'm looking forward to reading your comments... :-)

Monday 15 October 2012

A Very Short Ghost Story Competition...

A big thank you to Jenny who passed the information on about this Times competition.

Can you write a ghost story in 50 words? Well if you can then this competition is for you.

Susan Hill has launched the prize and you can find her suggestions for how to write a good ghost story here.

"Write your own ghost story in 50 words. The best entry will win £200-worth of selected books chosen by Random House and Profile, plus a signed set of Susan Hill’s ghost stories. Three runners-up will also win signed copies of Hill’s ghost stories."

And of course the essential information about terms and conditions, here. (They cover two pages, so don't miss the 'next' link at the bottom.)

"Send your entry to with Ghost Story in the subject line or post it to Ghost Story, Books, The Times, 3 Thomas More Square, London E98 1TT. Include your name, address and daytime telephone number."

Don't send it as an attachment- it's easy to forget rules like this when you can enter online.

Entries must be received by 5pm on Tuesday 23rd October.

"Winners will be notified by October 29 and their names and answers printed in The Times on October 27. There will be one winner and three runners-up. One entry per person. UK and Republic of Ireland only."

Good luck.

Image courtesy of Simon Howden

Saturday 13 October 2012

Further Organisation is Needed...

A box arrived this morning with 50 coloured cardboard wallets- and even with postage, cheaper than getting my OH to drive me to the retail park for numerous packs that would have cost a lot more.

I just have to find a slot for the box now... :-)      

The shelves in the office area are filling up and I'm going to have to shift a few things around, but I need to make a little bit more room for my works in progress folders/files.

As I've been gathering everything from the various points in the living room, I've started to find the big wads of research notes and clippings (that I gather before I start any longer writing project).

So I decided that if they were in folders I could keep them on the shelf with the box-type files that hold the printed manuscript pages of each project.

Eventually I'll scan all these notes and images and put them on a disc, but probably not until I've finished the novel/novella completely. I much prefer to have the pages at hand than having to keep opening and then reducing a document to the bottom of my screen each time I need to clarify something...

So how do you deal with your research notes? Are you a paper or digital storage, writer?

Image: Salvatore Vuono,

Thursday 11 October 2012

I Try to be a Sweetie in Chocolate Week...

Thank you to the wonderful Patsy Collins- a real sweetie- for passing me the Super Sweet Blogging Award.

Now remember it is Chocolate Week. And if you've ever wondered about it's history, then you'll find some interesting facts here.

Now to answering the questions...

1. Cookies or cake?
    Has to be cake- love the smell of chocolate cake as it's cooking.

2. Chocolate or Vanilla?
    Chocolate, most certainly chocolate...

3. What is you favourite sweet treat?
    Choices, choices... A little bit of dark chocolate, preferably with a glass of Ros√©.

4. When do you crave sweet things most?
    When I settle down to start writing.

5. If you had a sweet nickname what would it be?
    I don't think I dare answer that one... :-)

Now to pass this on to other sweet things. If you accept the mission then answer these same questions on your blog and pass it on.

(Patsy mentioned something about a Bakers dozen, but I think that's an unlucky number. And actually, one of my Grandfather's was a Baker...)

So I pass the sweet tray onto: Rosemary, Maxi, Angela -sorry I couldn't let you know, the captcha was not accepting me, Keith, Rosalie, Seaview, Alan and Lizy and finally, Fiona.

Now you may not want to take part, or do the post, so you can leave your answers in the comments form if you prefer.
Don't forget to collect the picture to add it to your blog. :-)

(I'd hoped to post this yesterday (Wednesday) but Blogger was refusing to let the links I'd put in, stay there. Glad to say it seems to have worked today...)

Monday 8 October 2012

Monday Thoughts...

Latest anthology news (see the details on my previous blog post) - it's looking like it will be out for December, when it will be available in pdf, epub and .mobi formats.

As another (local) writer/friend is also included in the anthology, we're going to get together and discuss what we can do to advertise our contributions and hopefully drum up sales in our area.

Looking forward to 2013, I'm going to concentrate on my longer length projects, and try a few more short stories when I need a break or change of perspective.

I've noticed a few mini workshops advertised so I'm going to see if I can book a place on them. I've decided to update a few skills relating to social media first.

Another writer on the Talkback forum posted a link this morning, it's a good reminder about planning ahead. (Thanks SilverLinings.)

While the agency is in the USA, and some aspects will be more relevant there, it has some good points; so if you've not taken the time to think ahead to 2013 this piece may make you reconsider. Read Mary Keeley's post here.

"Set your own pace and be comfortable with it." I think that first piece of advice is the most valuable, at least it is for me.

Life gets in the way sometimes, and pushing yourself to do more than is practical- or healthy- is a sure way of making life harder for yourself. The accident last year, and the asthma diagnosis this year made me re-evaluate everything in my life, but especially my writing.

By slowing down and accepting that I couldn't do all the things I wanted to, meant I made choices in what I concentrated on. And surprisingly I actually got more done, as I submitted a few things rather than none at all, and won the trophy at the writers' club last December (which was a morale booster).

Now I'm looking forward to my contribution in the anthology.

What has been the best advice you've received that helped you progress?

Saturday 6 October 2012

Say Hello to Serena Lake...

I've mentioned Serena before, so I thought it was time to introduce her properly- more of why now, later...

Serena writes historical romances, and she does include intimate love scenes in them- sex scenes suggests that there's no emotional connection between the characters and she insists that there has to be an emotional tie between the couple involved, not just lust- even if one, or both of them haven't recognised/admitted it by that point.

Her heroes have responsibilities that they often don't want to take on, but will because they believe in justice, family honour and duty. Though it won't stop some of them rebelling along the way...

Her heroines don't simper. They know what they want, and some resent that they can't grab the object of their desire openly - without public disgrace.

You may have guessed already that Serena Lake is my pseudonym for the historical romances I'm writing, these stories are set between the mid 18th to early 19th Century.

I've submitted competition entries (when it's historical) with this name for a few years now, but finally Serena will be published in an e-book-hopefully before the end of the year, if not sooner.

The One Word Challenge Anthology is a collection of micro fiction and poems inspired by different words. Serena and I, each have a story in the anthology.

Members of the Talkback forum on the Writers Online website, have been writing these stories and poems with a new word each month for many years; now e-book publishing has made it possible to put a collection of them together.

It's getting very exciting, as each stage of the process takes us closer to a publication date.

Serena will eventually have her own site, but for the moment she'll be getting her own page on here.

When more news is available I'll let you know...

Thursday 4 October 2012

A Quick Whizz Round...

So much to do and so little spare time to do it...
That seems to be my life at the moment, but I'm sure it's the same for everyone else too.

Over the next week or so I'll be updating Carol's Corner. Some things may go and others appear in their place. But I won't be changing the purpose of my blog; there will still be posts about competitions, events I've attended and the trials of this writer's life. :-)

Now to some good news.

Writer and blogger, Patsy Collins, is sharing the news that her book 'Escape to the Country' is going to be free to download on Kindle on the 4th and 5th October.

I read Patsy's book on the Kindle for PC app, and it's an easy way to read a Kindle book if you don't happen to have a Kindle e-reader.

It's a great book. I bought it when it was released, it's fun and heart-warming. When I got to the end of the story I was still smiling- a real feel good ending. It doesn't matter whether you're 16, 76, or any age between, you will enjoy it.

Meanwhile, I've decided on the future of my rejected short story. After I've looked it over again and made any changes, it will be winging it's way to Alfie Dog Fiction, the short story download website.

It may not make the grade of course, but if it doesn't, the editor will at least tell me why-and if it's not beyond salvaging, make suggestions for improvement.

I still believe it has potential and don't want to give up on it. But as a writer who hasn't sold a short story to any of the women's magazine markets before, my choices are restricted. I've been looking at those that remain open to me and the story wouldn't fit without major changes or cutting.

The idea for the Mail on Sunday Novel Competition is coming together, so I'll be starting to work on that next week.

Progress with the novella is ongoing. It's working much better with concentrating on getting the story down first and not worrying about description that can be applied as appropriate in the first revision stage.

Blog post done, another item on my list can be crossed off...

Monday 1 October 2012

October is Here and It Starts Getting Busy...

The remainder of the year is going to be busy. So I'm glad I've got the organisation in place before I start.

Not only is there all the normal planning for Christmas (sorry, I know that word is forbidden by many until the beginning of December :-) ) but I have five birthdays in one month, so I have to start present choosing and buying early to get it all done.

On the writing front I have a couple of competition entries to get on with.

The Mail on Sunday Novel Competition- that needs to be sent at least a week before the 29th October closing date (I always allow 7-8 days for anything that has to go by post). I have a scene in my head and a few ideas germinating, but no flowing words...yet.

Then there's the annual Manuscript of the Year competition at Nottingham Writers' Club (NWC) in early November. Members deciding to take part need to write a story in 250 words on the theme 'Coming Out'. The entries (using a pseudonym) are read by a panel of readers, and the audience on the night vote for the entry they judge the best, or they like the most.

An original slant will be needed with that theme...

On the publishing front there's news.

I've been fortunate enough to have a sneak preview of the cover for the One Word Challenge Anthology ( I have two pieces in ) and it's a wonderful design.

It will be an e-book first, and fingers crossed it will be available before Christmas. There's hopes of a print copy in 2013, but nothings confirmed yet.

And finally I'm involved in co-organising the 2013 NWC workshops. We hope to do three, but depending on availability and cost of tutors we might have to limit this to two.

Meanwhile I'll be getting on with writing the novella.

I'm so glad I have my 'office'...