Showing posts with label Christmas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Christmas. Show all posts

Thursday 24 December 2020

Review of 2020 - What I Did Achieve...

 I'm totally behind schedule this Christmas, but I'm sure many are with all the changes that have been happening...

My little tree...

Usually I review my year, revisiting the fun things I've taken part in since January, plus my word count to date, and a final total at the end of the month.

I have done lots of reading, gardening, and making cakes. I've also completed some writing, but my word count is way down on previous years.

March- at the start of the month there was book related news, Prompts Can Help. I had ten Christmas related story prompts included in the Chapeltown Books ebook of Prompts 2020.

My prompts were originally put together for an exercise for Nottingham Writers' Club members, that didn't happen. They sat on my computer (waiting for another Christmas) until I submitted them last year, and they were accepted for the book.

Then Corona virus took over the world and normal life changed...

Like many writers, I thought the time would be spent working on the novel, but my characters thought otherwise and they went into lockdown too. I tried but the novel wouldn't progress.

My family had the virus, and there was a daily cleaning routine, and ensuring the food was rationed so we had enough to get us through the isolation, until it was safe for someone to go shopping- we couldn't get an online delivery.

April- my trusty Kindle e-reader finally stopped working, and I decided to replace it with a Paperwhite, but like online delivery slots, kindles were out of stock too. I eventually got my new device about six weeks later, in May.

I spent most of my time out in the garden, reorganising, pruning, and nurturing seeds and plants- all good exercise. When I wasn't doing that I was baking.

The last time I made Scones, I was a teenager. They hadn't worked then, so I'd never attempted them again.

Fortunately, there were plenty of recipes online, so I did try again.

(Image on the right: A pot of Salad Leaves grown from seed)

(Image on the left: Home-made Raisin Scones)

I'm amazed I lost any weight with the amount of baking that was done this year!

And yes, Banana Bread did feature in this year's repertoire...

(Image on the right: First attempt at Banana Bread- it did improve)

I made progress with my research reading, and making notes.

And of course, I was submitting my lockdown updates for the NWC (digital) club magazine. Along with photos.

June into July- I had to make a decision on what I'd submit to the RNA New Writers' Scheme. Whichever one I submitted it would be a partial with a synopsis, but that was better than not submitting anything.

Although I had five chapters and half of the sixth by the end of July, I chose to work on editing the first five. Plus writing a new synopsis...

Not having allowed enough time for editing in 2019's entry, I'd set August aside for this year's. It wasn't perfect, but it was done in time, and I'm now aware of my editing weaknesses. 

At least this year, I submitted it four hours earlier than last year. 

I was happy with the report I received back later in September.

I've not had enough quiet at home to do more, but I know where I'm going with the story and I'm creating a schedule for resuming the novel in January.

My new website is working okay, and I'll be adding to it.

Meanwhile, I've been jotting down ideas, dialogue and character insights for two of the secondary characters in the current WIP. I knew earlier this year, they'd eventually have their own story- after the other novel...

Like many families, we're having a quiet Christmas, and I hope to use some of the time to increase my word count before the end of the year.

To date my 2020 word count is: 22,460.

That's better than I expected...

I'm keeping next year's aims flexible.

I've renewed my New Writers' Scheme membership for another year, and fingers crossed for the RNA Conference in July. 

My hope is that by next Christmas we'll all be celebrating it with our friends and family- in person...

Am I satisfied with what I've achieved in 2020?

Considering how this year has gone, yes I am... 

Sunday 22 December 2019

Merry Christmas...

The next few days will be even busier than they have been so far- Muffins, and Fairy Cakes are done, but the fruit cake is still to do.

On the present side I'm trailing behind; at least I have the wrapping paper and labels ready...

Whatever you may have planned, I hope you enjoy the Christmas break. And for anyone suffering from the winter bugs that emerge at this time of the year, I hope you feel better soon.

Merry Christmas...

Christmas message postcard via

Sunday 23 December 2018

Seasons Greetings and Merry Christmas...

Christmas Day is almost here and all that needs to be done is get a few last minute fruit and vegetables. Although the shops are only closed for one day, I prefer to have the week between Christmas and New Year without the need to go food shopping again...

I'll update my annual word count at the end of the month as I'm hoping to get some writing done later this week.

Meanwhile, however you celebrate (or don't) I wish you all peace and goodwill...

(image from

Thursday 20 December 2018

Review of 2018 - July to December...

Welcome to part two of my 2018 review. In part one it was January to June, and now the busy exciting aspects start with July...

July to December 2018...

This was the busiest month of the year and consequently wrote the most blog posts!

The month began with a guest visit from Leicester RNA Chapter member, Madalyn Morgan with her latest book release Chasing Ghosts.

Quickly followed by another mini-workshop for NWC, along with the deadline for my article for Writing Magazine the day after. Then the weekend of the RNA Conference starting the day after my article went in...

My Writing Magazine article...
Then on the 30th the article was published, a double-page spread in Writing Magazine; Womag Rightscame out and gave the new 'all rights' contract at Woman's Weekly wider attention on social media.

(I even get a mention on Wikipedia.)


My office was (unexpectedly) decorated.


A much needed weekend away in Scarborough. Attended a dialogue workshop at NWC. And whenever possible took photos of the #Hoodwinked statues around Nottingham before they went off to be auctioned for charity. One of the pictures was used on the back cover of NWC's Autumn issue of the club magazine 'Scribe'.


Trying out using file cards for keeping consistency with the characters in my WIP.


Taking care of my eye health and moving to a new monitor screen with low blue light- it has really made a difference to my eyes.


Fantastic way to end the year, Christmas parties and the NWC Awards Night all in one week.

I won the Mary Street Memorial Shield for a romance novel. One of those ideas that get in the way of what you're working on so you write it down to get it out of the way- for later. Well the 1920's story idea (the vintage fair earlier in the year) became the first three chapters and synopsis for this year's entry.

As I've won this trophy three times now I'm meant to judge the next time it runs in 2020...

My recent trophy win...
Had a fantastic time with the Belmont Belles RNA Chapter at the Christmas party. The guest was Sunday Times bestselling author Carole Matthews.

All of the Belmont Belles are a fantastic fount of knowledge, advice and support; I value their friendship and look forward to our regular meetings knowing I will go home inspired and encouraged to keep working.

So my final word count last year was 36, 444.
My 2018 total still has time to increase and I'll update it for an end of the year total in a few weeks, but I have exceeded last year's total...

Plans for 2019

Keep on with draft two.
Take up opportunities that may come along.
Apply for the RNA's New Writer Scheme in January (there's a limited number of places).

I always think I haven't done much, but when I look back I find I've achieved far more than I realised.

I'm still aiming to get a book out in 2019 under my Serena Lake pseudonym.

As long as I keep moving forward, I'm happy...

Saturday 23 December 2017

Merry Christmas One and All...

Goodness, where have the days gone.

(image courtesy
of Dennis Apple)
I'm still not sorted as there's presents still to wrap, and sadly a few friends won't be getting their cards until after Christmas- not enough hours to get everything done this year.

 We're almost done in the sorting and boxing department- fortunate as the Electrician starts work in 2 weeks!

Christmas Eve I'll be cooking and preparing as much as possible, so I don't have to get up early to put the turkey in the oven on Christmas Day...

Merry Christmas to all...

To all my friends and readers, I wish you a peaceful and enjoyable Christmas...

Christmas image from Pixabay.

Thursday 2 March 2017

Reading is Essential...

It's been a busy few weeks, so having time to think ahead for writing blog posts has been like wading through a room full of individual macrame strands hanging from the ceiling. You get through one set and can breathe for a moment before tackling the next set...

Despite the disruptions I've been able to do some writing- my 1920's based story- and I've finally started reading a few of the many books in my digital to-be-read list on my Kindle.

Every year I buy a few books that are set against a Christmas backdrop, and I always intend to read them over the Christmas holiday, but I never do. Now it's almost Spring, and I'm reading an historical romance set at- you guessed it- Christmas.

Actually I'm also reading a couple of Simon Whaley's books too, one chapter at a time when I have a spare ten minutes; The Positively Productive Writer, and Volume 1 of his latest book, The Business of Writing.

Books and Bath...
I've signed up to, so I can read a number of different magazines each month- and back copies too. When many of the magazines are £3 and upward an issue, a monthly charge of £7.99 isn't bad. And it's a good way of finding filler opportunities.

The latest issue of Writing Magazine arrived today, and it has the first of the two competition specials they produce each year.

Next week isn't as busy as the second half of February was, so I'll be getting back to the keyboard and raising my word count.

And I still need to sort out the dates and bookings for my trip to Bath.

All that will keep me out of mischief... :D

Thursday 29 December 2016

Happy New Year...

Happy 2017...
I hope your Christmas went well.

Today is very foggy and cold, so apart from a brief trip outside I've been indoors in the warm, relaxing, catching up with friends online and reading.

I've also being making a few definite plans for the first few months of 2017.

With Take A Break Fiction Feast moving to only accepting fiction from those writers on their preferred list, it means that the remaining markets are going to be getting even more submissions, so I need to get on with writing and sending out the stories that I have ideas for (that fit their requirements).

But first I want to get on with adding to and revising my epistolary story (that I got second place for in the writers' club winter quarterly prose competition 2015/16), as there's currently a subscribers only competition in Writing Magazine for this form. The deadline for this is mid February, so my personal deadline will be the end of January.

Having not looked at it since the spring, my subconscious has developed the idea a bit more.

Of course I also need to get back to the second draft too.

Finally there's my annual word total that I reveal at the end of the year- to remind myself what I've done, and that I can do more the next year...

In 2015 I wasn't including my blog posts, which I did include this year. And of course when I'm editing something I'm usually taking away not adding words so that will drop the 2016 total a bit.

2015 total: 28,795

2016 total: 34,612

That's an increase of  5,826 words on last year.

So that's it, my last blog post of 2016.

It's been another year of surprises, learning and improving.

See you in 2017...

image: pixabay

Monday 19 December 2016

Merry Christmas to All...

This is my last post before Christmas as I'll be busy this week with the final preparations for the big day, now all my family are home...

I don't have room for a proper Christmas Tree at the moment, so I have a little fold-out paper one that sits on my office window-sill; and there's purple, red and blue tinsel around the doors, while the Christmas cards get stuck to the wall with Blu-Tack. :-)

However you may celebrate this time of year...

image from Pixabay

Thursday 15 December 2016

Guess What I Won?

Well it's the day after the night before and I can now reveal what I've been keeping quiet about since late October...

I won one of the annual competitions at Nottingham Writers' Club, the Rosemary Robb trophy for a ghost story titled, 'The Wishful Spirit'.

Winning the Rosemary
Robb Ghost Story
Writers are told to persevere and never throw anything away. Well the story that won this competition proves that statement...

In 2008 it was the first year the ghost story trophy competition ran; it was for a 1,000 word story (that year). I'd never written a ghost story before, but I tried anyway, and received some useful comments from the judge- the writer whom the trophy was named after, and who died a few years later.

The story was filed away and over the years I'd revised it and then put it away again. You see my ghost wasn't the scary type and most markets wanted the creepy sort...

In 2013 I rewrote it and entered it into a national competition, but didn't get anywhere again. Honestly I think it was really just the wrong competition for it.

So back in the box it went until late 2015 when I began to rewrite it yet again making some major changes and eventually submitting it to Woman's Weekly, as they mentioned in their guidelines at that time, 'quirky', and my ghost certainly fitted that description.

Sadly it was rejected.

Meanwhile, as Prose Secretary for the writers' club, I'd asked writer Wendy Clark to judge this year's Rosemary Robb Competition this autumn ( after reading her blog post about writing ghost stories) and she agreed. 

Having received the story back from the magazine I decided I'd enter it into our club competition to get some feedback, and hopefully find out what wasn't working.

I'd already decided a couple of things needed a slight adjustment, and one bit removed. As the maximum word count was 2,000 words I needed to lose about 500 words while still making the changes I needed. After a number of intense revisions I reached the maximum word count and entered it into the club competition.

As writers can have lots of contacts both online and off, the club has always asked members to use a pseudonym on their entry's cover sheet. 
We know our judges would never be influenced by already knowing an entrant, and as Prose Secretary I'm careful not to inadvertently write or say something that one of our judges might see- if I know them, and I intend entering.

So I was absolutely amazed when the results were returned. I'd won! I actually read the email twice to ensure I hadn't misread it.

One of the comments in the judge's feedback that made me smile was, "I found myself chuckling at the phantom, Bold Jack's, asides and imagined him dressed in full 'Captain Jack Sparrow' pirate regalia!" 

That wasn't too far off my mental image of 'Bold Jack' too, although older than the movie pirate... :D

So there we are full circle; the story first written for this trophy competition in 2008, finally won it in 2016. Even though it had rejections and all those revisions, the core of the story never changed.

Have you ever had any stories which took a long time to succeed?


Thursday 31 December 2015

Happy New Year To All...

I hope your Christmas went well, and if you were in countries where severe damage was done by flooding or tornado's I wish you a better 2016.
Happy New Year

The town where my mum-in-law lives was flooded too, but fortunately she was further away so stayed dry. The hotel we sometimes stay at was flooded and will be closed for a few months...

With the fast approaching new year I'm eager to get back to writing, but it won't be until next week when family members are back at work, or college, before I'll have enough quiet.

Besides working on my 2nd draft, I've also promised Patsy Collins that I will submit a short story to a woman's magazine.

I did write a story for a competition at the writers' club a few years ago, and intended to revise it to send off to Woman's Weekly- as it would fit their style, but as I've been concentrating on my longer works it never got done. So that will be on my agenda this year.

So to my 2015 word count total: 28,795. There's probably another 2,000 words from various pieces that I've written for the writers' club quarterly magazine, which I didn't include in my total, and must do in 2016.

(In 2014 I managed 26,043 words, excluding my blog posts.)

I need to improve on that total in 2016, and get more work sent out.

At least the word count continues to be going in the right direction-up. I need to get more organised and prioritise more.

Well that's it, my last blog post for 2015. I'll be back to normal routine next week.

Happy New Year.

Image courtesy of franky242 &

Monday 21 December 2015

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year...

I've finally grabbed a few minutes to write this post before Christmas arrives.

Every year I tell myself I'll get my Christmas cards written and posted early, and of course it never happens. :(

Actually it's been a month of things breaking and needing replacing- fortunately some were under guarantee, but it takes time getting everything sorted out. So I'm further behind than usual.

I hope 2015 has been good for you, but if it hasn't then I wish you a much better 2016.

Hopefully I'll post before the New Year, but if I don't then have a wonderful Christmas...

Have a wonderful time...

image courtesy of digitalart and

Wednesday 9 December 2015

Fun and Traffic...

Well I've finally got my brain into gear to post.

Life has been a bit hectic since the NWC Awards night and Christmas party last Wednesday.

There was a major traffic snarl up that evening and despite setting off earlier than usual, it took me an hour to get under three miles! As a result of everyone being late we couldn't start on time, so had to cut out the party games that usually happen post awards and food- writers are so competitive.

Despite that, the table quiz was fiendish- I think Pat (who writes them) knew we'd have studied the major events of the year in preparation so changed tack. :D
At NWC...

The questions were designed to have corny answers, and points were given for originality, but I only started to see the obvious by the time we were going through the 'real' answers.

For example:

How does Good King Wenceslas like his pizza?

My answer: deep and crisp and even- though I missed out the crust bit, as in deep crust... (groan).

And this one is obvious once you're told the answer: Why did no one bid for Rudolph and Blitzen on eBay?

Answer: they were two deer (too dear - groan groan).

I suspect they came from Christmas Cracker Jokes.

Thank goodness I don't try to tell jokes- at least not intentionally...

A few of the NWC trophies...

Monday 30 November 2015

Full Speed to Christmas...

Only 25 days to go...

Despite saying last year I'd start my Christmas shopping and card writing early, I haven't.

Honestly, the last months creeps up on you, and you wake up one Monday morning (today) and realise the countdown to Christmas has begun!!!

Though every time I cross something off my to do list, another task gets added.

My shredder has stopped working- so I've got to chase up the manufacturer- as it's not a year old yet. But of course, it happens when there's old, old paperwork to be cleared out.

I have a final few things to do for Awards Night on Wednesday. There's competition entries to be returned to members, along with the comments from the judges. So I have to sort them out.

It's always pleasing to look around the meeting room and notice a writer motionless, their head bent over their manuscript reading the comments, while around them there's noise and movement that they're oblivious to. Then when they look up there's a smile of pleasant surprise, that even though they didn't win they can work on improving the piece.

Until the New Year I'll be posting weekly- as I need to fit in all those regular Christmas tasks over the next 3 weeks.

If you've been doing NaNoWriMo, congratulations. Even if you didn't reach the target amount by today, 30th November, you'll still have learnt a lot from it, and have a story with potential waiting to be discovered.

Right, I'm off to get on with that list... :D

Monday 23 November 2015

My Review of 2015...

Where has this year gone?

In just over a month it will be Christmas again. I'm now a year older, but let's forget about that...:D

Looking back at my 2014 review, I've checked what I intended for 2015.

I did complete the first draft of my contemporary romance, but it hasn't yet been revised and submitted.

I have now got back to my 'historical' first draft so I've started the second draft a month ahead of last year's plan.

So what have I done in 2015?

January: The presentation of the NWC, Mary Street Romance Shield- from my win that was announced at the 2014 Awards Night (December 2014). Plus booking a few future events.

February: Attended the online virtual romance festival #Romance2015- in early February across Facebook, and Twitter, though I didn't get to the Google Hangouts option.

March: I finally got busy, getting Pinterest organised. I bought my domain name and applied it to the blog, and also bought the domain name for Serena (though I wasn't using it straight away). Then the last weekend was the Writing East Midlands Conference; that was a busy and very interesting Saturday.

April: After a temporary health setback I made progress with my contemporary story (the one I'd won with in December 2014).

May: Mid-May I guest posted on the Womag writers blog discussing joining the ALCS. The payment is a great boost to writers even if they only have a few qualifying items. I also became one of the co-hosts for #writingchat on a Wednesday evening on Twitter (8-9 pm each week).

June: That means The Lowdham Book Festival, and fortunately I had volunteers to help me with the writers' club stall. I was also able to meet writer friend Ana Salote in person too.

July: This was Serena month. I took the big step of setting up a website/blog for my pseudonym, and as I already had a domain name waiting for me- bought back in March- it didn't take too long to get up and running. (It's still an ongoing project.)

August: This was my wonderful trip over to visit the Pickford's House Museum of Georgian Life and Historic Costume, in Derby. I had a few moments where I saw-in reality- images that my mind had conjured up some months before for my Nottinghamshire story.

September: I finally got to visit The Bromley House Subscription Library, during the annual Heritage Open Day weekend. Like my August visit, it provided useful answers to my research questions.

October: Submitted my entry into the Love Stories New Talent competition. I didn't give myself enough time for this, as I was working on getting my contemporary romance first draft finished, and as a consequence I didn't get anywhere with the New Talent competition. A lot of the remainder of the month was taken up by the Sci-fi night at the writers' club. But I did write 'the end' on my contemporary romance first draft on the 29th October. :-)

November: Birthdays- and yes I do mean plural. :D I've also been getting the final results in ready for this year's awards night at the writers' club; plus doing some of the organising for the Christmas party afterwards. Most importantly I've started the second draft of the Nottinghamshire story.

December: It will be busy and fun I'm sure.

There's quite a few other bits and pieces across the year, and I always learn from them.

As 2016 is the next Mary Street competition, my brain has an idea bubbling, but I'm not going to allow it to take over like the contemporary romance did.

I need to give some time to Serena's website and blog.

As in previous years, I'm going to be open to writing opportunities that may appear, and any research possibilities. I think my trip to Dorchester will be put off until 2017.

Meanwhile I'll keep writing and reading...

image courtesy of Ventrilock and

Wednesday 31 December 2014

Happy New Year!!!

While I haven't been writing my brain has been providing scenes for three of my longer works. All I can say is thank goodness for notebooks and pens...

Among my Christmas presents I had a couple very suitable for a writer; a lovely small paperblanks lined notebook- a Blue Cats and Butterflies design, and very elegant, which will be perfect for putting in my handbag when I go out in the evenings (I have different sized notebooks for different handbags :D).

Also a book, 'How to Be a Victorian' by Ruth Goodman (the historian from the BBC Victorian Farm, the Edwardian, and Tudor versions too).

My 1st. January tradition is to watch the New Year's Day Concert from Vienna on TV. It's usually on the radio too, but you don't see the dancers in their beautiful costumes as you do on television. The music certainly conjures up images of the past...

Well that's it until next week when normal blogging resumes.

Meanwhile I wish you all a happy and successful 2015.

Image courtesy of krishna arts/

Friday 19 December 2014

Merry Christmas and a Wonderful New Year...

My last post before Christmas is finally here.

I've still got things to do before Thursday- as usual- and there's never enough time to do everything of course, but I'll somehow manage most of it.

My son returns from university this weekend, so I'm back to cooking for the full complement of six...

I've booked my first writing related event of 2015. The Writers' Conference at the University of Nottingham is very local for me, and I've wanted to go in earlier years, but never got there; so when I received the email with the details I decided to buy my ticket straight away.

Enjoy yourselves over the holidays and I'll see you in 2015...

Christmas photo: Christmas Merry-Christmas.gif

Image courtesy of HDcafe68 from

Thursday 4 December 2014

Winning is Great...

Now that Awards Night is over I can finally reveal that I won the Nottingham Writers' Club, Mary Street Memorial Shield for Romance Writing for 2014.

The Mary Street Shield is a bi-annual award that alternates with the Gwladys Bungay Rose Bowl for a Novel (any genre/subject); both require a synopsis and the first three chapters.

(The latter of the two ladies was published by Mills and Boon as Gwladys Duke in the 1960's.)

My winning story is actually a contemporary romance for a change- and my current work in progress.

The synopsis and first three chapters were written in just over six weeks, after my intended entry just wasn't working and it got temporarily shelved.

The contemporary idea had been lurking in my brain for some time, inspired by a book purchase, the cover instantly created a visual image in my mind, my heroine Felicity is stood looking up at a painting, and she's wearing an identical outfit to the woman in the portrait- and that moment eventually turns up in chapter four.

This competition was judged by Suzanne Ross Jones, who also writes as Suzanna Ross, and has had five My Weekly Pocket Novels published, (four now on Kindle), and lots of other published stories.

I'll admit now, there were a few minor points that would need a little work, but I agree with Suzanne's remarks regarding them.

Here's a bit of the feedback:

"I adore stories about writers and about libraries - and this has the best of both of those subjects. This is a traditional romantic set up and you've met my expectations of the genre with characters and situation. The writing is polished and assured and I was thoroughly entertained as I read the three chapters."

Now I have to admit that my hero is a little bit older than you usually get in romances, he's forty, but an attractive forty; Felicity is a thirty-two year old librarian, and has recently been made redundant from her job. Life is about to change for both of them...

"I was actually quite sad when I got to the end of chapter 3 - this is the sort of book that I'd like to read through at one sitting."

Now normally I'd have a picture of me with the trophy, but the shield got left behind when the other trophies were transported to the venue earlier in the day. It was only realised when we collected the silverware from the locked cupboard. So I'll be getting the actual shield in the New Year.

As it was also the Christmas party I dressed up in a seasonal colour.

NWC Awards Night 2014

And if you wondered what the book was that inspired the story, and the item that appears in it, well it's this...

Inspiration for my
winning story

I'm not going to tell you more, you'll just have to wait until I finish writing it, and it gets published. But this is the priority project for early 2015...

Saturday 8 November 2014

Learning from Feedback...

Finally had time to grab a moment to blog.

November is always a busy month with family birthdays, organising for Christmas, and the run up to Awards Night and Christmas Party at the writers' club.

I took on the role of Prose Secretary around this time last year just as a stop-gap, but I decided to carry on with the job, as next April I complete my three year stint as Chairman and have to hand over to whomever is standing for election to the role.

Occasionally I also get an opportunity to judge a competition- which I've just done.

Feedback is a vital tool in enabling writers to improve, and it was while I was typing up my notes that I realised how much I've learnt, not just from reading and writing, but from the generosity of other writers giving their time and experience- whether as a competition judge, during workshops, or even informative blog/website posts.

When I think back to my manuscripts 12 years ago, I can now see how much I've learnt- and still continue to learn of course.

I don't think we can ever have a total disconnection from our stories and characters, having lived with them so closely during the writing process. So a competition judge will be reading our work with a fresh perspective and will pick up the faults we might have missed. Because we know that's what our characters are thinking, it's easy to miss getting that over to our readers...

So in just under a month I'll be handing back a number of manuscripts from the club's annual competitions- ghost stories, romance, radio, and this year's non-fiction, article writing- and the first thing the majority of the writers will do is read the comments.

Admittedly we don't need to follow the judge's feedback completely, as there's bound to be things that we don't agree with- I was devastated one year when a judge said that one of my character's who was dead was the most interesting, and then the next judge who read it liked it, and awarded it first place.

My current work in progress was entered in this year's bi-annual Romance Novel competition, so the judge's comments on the synopsis and first 3 chapters will be very helpful when I get to the revision stages.

I'll tell you how my entry got on after the December 3rd evening...

Meanwhile there's still a lot to do, and writing to get on with. :-)

Thursday 2 May 2013

A Long Wait but Worth It...

Last November I wrote a 500 word flash fiction for the Autumn prose competition at Nottingham Writers' Club.

We'd been fortunate to have the wonderful Sally Quilford setting and judging this flash fiction competition. Sally had done a mini workshop in the summer on the subject, so the competition was an opportunity to show what we'd learnt with our entries.

When the competition opened I had three months before the final submission date, and I had a few ideas rolling around my brain to fit the theme of 'A Christmas Visit'.

My first idea was a parent visiting their baby in a neonatal unit on Christmas morning. That thought was inspired by my own memories of going to see my premature triplets in hospital on Christmas Day- they were only a few weeks old at that point.

But I couldn't write it, the words wouldn't form, the emotions too deep to catch and share with my characters.

The weeks went on and the deadline approached.

Then a vague idea that had been lingering began to demand attention. What if you had to go and deliver the sad news of a death at Christmas? And bad weather hampered the task too (heavy snow).
And because I inevitably write romances, how would the messenger feel if they are giving that bad news to someone they have been in love with for years?

Generally we think of good things happening at Christmas, but we know that isn't reality, and that must have happened in the 19th century too. But the story could still have a positive ending.

I settled down and wrote about 550 words, cutting and changing to get it to the 500 word limit.

Then I realised that it was just an advance snippet of a longer story- this usually happens with my short stories, I just can't keep them small, they all want to be full scale productions... :-)

Then disaster struck, in the New Year we discovered the entries had never reached the judge, so we had to re-run the competition- and a big thank you to Sally for having fitted the new judging dates into her busy writing schedule.

So last night at the May speaker meeting, the results were finally announced, and my entry 'A Second Chance' won.

It will be turned into a longer story.

The judge's comments:

(I chose the pseudonym, Fiona Faddy for my entry)

"I chose the first prize winner, A Second Chance by Fiona Faddy because I’m a sucker for unrequited love! Fiona packed so much emotion in to so few words. The opening lines immediately set the scene and let us know we were in the past. The ending was just sweet!"

If I hadn't been intending to use the piece in future, I would have posted it here. But I hope you'll get the opportunity to read it when the longer story is completed- and hopefully published somewhere...

image courtesy of Stuart Miles

Tuesday 18 December 2012

It's the Office Party-Welcome to My Christmas Past...

As mentioned yesterday, today is the Office Party for all of us who are the only people in the office...

So to my little piece about Christmas- don't worry, I can't access the old photo of me sat on Santa's knee (I was only 5 years old :-) ).

But that did get me thinking about Christmas in the 60's compared to Christmas now.

In fact there was one special day every Christmas when I was little that told me Christmas was on its way. We lived an hour from London (by train) and the adventure started the moment we came out of Charring Cross Station.

Across in Trafalgar Square the big tree would be covered in lights- not on during the daylight of course.

We take for granted that the streets will be decorated with coloured lights in fantastic designs, but when I was little that was a rarity outside of the big cities. But I did get to see the Christmas lights in Regents Street every year.
Christmas Lights
The lights were strung from one side of the street to the other like a bejewelled necklace; and I remember walking along gazing up in delight at the stars and curls of light that filled me with absolute wonder.

There would always be a visit to look around Hamley's. We couldn't afford to buy anything, but it was a joy to see the toys out
and to my imagination at six I thought that this must be what Santa's workshop looked like...

Our next stop would be to look at the different window displays at Selfridges. The big windows were filled with Christmas montages...

As the daylight faded we would walk back along the streets now lit up to full effect in the darkness.

The day would finish off with a trip to the Panto at the London Palladium. I remember seeing Tommy Steele as Dick Whittington, and I've vague recollections of Jack and the Beanstalk too.

One year it was Cilla Black playing Aladdin...

Having found a link about the pantomimes held at the Palladium, I've just realised how many 'names' I saw as a child...This makes interesting reading.

When the panto was over we'd wander back to Trafalgar Square, look at the Christmas tree lights one last time, then go across to the station to get our train home. I certainly slept at the end of the day, dreaming of all the wonderful things I'd seen...

Snowman design courtesy of Feelart/
Christmas Banner courtesy of Simon Howden/