Showing posts with label fun. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fun. Show all posts

Tuesday 27 November 2018

The 2018 Diagram Prize Winner is Boiling H2O...

As I assumed a few weeks ago the Joy of Water Boiling did well, so well in fact that it won this year's Diagram Prize for the Oddest Book Title of the Year.
The Winning Title...

It garnered 56% of the votes.

If you have title suggestions for next year's Diagram prize you will find the details of how to do so at the end of this Bookseller article.

Don't forget you can nominate your own odd book title- if you think it has that much oddity... :D

Thursday 22 February 2018

Competitions and Romance Writing...

I'm catching up and getting back into a routine- slowly.

Last week was very busy, as I was 50% of a talk given at Nottingham Writers' Club (on Valentines Day) about Competitions:Do's and Don'ts, along with the club's magazine co-editor Jill Walmsley.
Ready to talk about

While Jill covered the technical side of getting a competition entry ready, I did the "business" side as Jill described it.

The where to find competitions handout with bullet points filled an A4 page ; also rights ( I substituted the term, 'earning potential') in terms and conditions/rules, so they could see how specific terms were worded and what it could mean (in some cases) for reusing their entry elsewhere; free entry versus pay to enter was definitely a thorny issue.

All the topics created lively discussion...

*   *   *
Three days later, it was Saturday afternoon writing Romance with local author Clare Harvey. Her books are WW2 Drama.

Clare Harvey & her

There was a mix of discussion, writing prompts and reading extracts from Clare's books for each topic.

I found the 'first scene' writing exercise really useful, and it's given me a few possible new openings for my WIP. I've not been totally happy with it as it stands, but it wasn't totally hopeless, I just needed a slightly different starting point, bringing my hero into the scene much sooner.

Getting characters together was a bit of a struggle. It's definitely easier in a contemporary novel, but writing with an historical setting you need to work harder to manipulate the possibilities against the the social behaviour of the time and situation.

Writing sex scenes are about more than part A slots into part B... We all agreed using the 5 senses was important, but between us all we came up with enough to fill the flip-pad.

What everyone came
up with...
Clare had read out a couple of extracts from books by other writers to show how different sex scenes could be and the impression each gives...

There was a phrase used in the sex scene in Clare's book, The Night Raid, that only a couple of the writers attending had ever heard of before.

It was "don't go all the way to Blackpool!"  (One of those bits of research that the writer discovered along the way...)

All the writing prompts for the afternoon were simple, but effective, just keep the pen moving for 5 minutes, write and don't stop to think.

I will try that again, perhaps with a short story.

It was a fun afternoon, and I know I wasn't the only one who went away inspired and with a buzzing brain.

If you ever get the opportunity to go along to an event with Clare, you will enjoy it...

Monday 31 July 2017

Oddest Book Title Time Again...

Like me, you may have thought the annual Diagram Prize for the Oddest Book Title of the Year wasn't taking place this year.

Usually it's in the spring, and the chosen titles get coverage in the national press as well as on The Bookseller website.

As it's been run later this year it could have easily been missed.

So here's the contenders- and the result below that.

  • The Commuter Pig Keeper: A Comprehensive Guide to Keeping Pigs when Time is your Most Precious Commodity by Michaela Giles.

  •  Renniks Australian Pre-Decimal & Decimal Coin Errors.

  • Nipples on my Knee by Graham and Debra Robertson.

  • An Ape’s View of Human Evolution by Peter Andrews.

  • Love Your Lady Landscape: Trust Your Gut, Care for “Down There” and Reclaim Your Fierce and Feminine SHE by Lisa Lister.

Now none of those titles really grabs me, but as I missed the shortlist announcement I haven't really considered how odd they are!

The Pig one, and the Lady Landscape seem the most bizarre...

Anyway with many of the previous winners having something to do with animals - "The Joy of Chickens (1980), The Big Book of Lesbian Horse Stories (2003) and Goblinproofing One’s Chicken Coop (2012)"; it really does suggest any vaguely odd title with an animal in will score highly.

So this year's winner was of course The Commuter Pig Keeper... with 40% of the votes. 

Runners-up were Renniks Australian Coins title with 32.7%, and Nipples on... with 13.9%.

Disappointingly the Lady Landscape title only received 2.8% of the vote. It was certainly odd, but perhaps the title could have done with a bit more work to improve its lucidity.

You may or may not want to read more, but if you do then follow this link over to the Bookseller website, or even better read the amusing views of diarist and administrator of the Diagram Prize, Horace Bent.

Odd titles just aren't as odd as they once were...

the winner...

image from Pixabay.

Sunday 21 May 2017

The Pirate Ghost Meets Readers...

Do you recall me mentioning I'd won one of the annual competitions at the writers' club late last year? Yes the ghost story one with my entry 'The Wishful Spirit'.

Well today it joins the short stories available on Alfie Dog Fiction and it's now live...

(Honestly, my profile was harder to write than the story! :D )

Photographer Jack Sawyer doesn't believe in ghosts, but when he escapes to the little seaside village of a pirate ancestor, he meets archaeologist Lizzie Gibson, and discovers he's arrived at the perfect moment to help save their museum- with a little help from a mischievous ghost.

You can download it for a an inexpensive 39p, and in a choice of formats to suit your chosen reading device, just follow this link... You pay using PayPal, and there's information on the website if you're not sure which version you need...

I have a soft spot for this feel-good ghost story, which was why I persisted with revising it-despite earlier rejections elsewhere. The fact it was accepted this time proves I finally got it right.

Although the little coastal town in the story is fictional, I had images of places and buildings from holidays, more recent and long ago, in my mind, along with memories of my many visits to the Kent coast as a child.

If you have ever visited Lyme Regis in Dorset, you'll be familiar with the Marine Parade that runs along the beach. Just before that there was a small car park. The bus stop where the park and ride bus stopped (overlooked this car park) just as the road begins to climb uphill to the shops.
In the rigging...

I've no idea if that small car park is still there, as the last time I visited Lyme Regis was 2010. But a little car park just like that was where I imagined Jack listening to the tour guide and being accosted by the ghost of 'Bold Jack'...

Looking in my submissions book I realised that the story was a little older than I thought. The first version- a 1,000 word short story- was written in 2008.

I'm glad I persevered in finding a home for it...

I hope you enjoy reading it.

(Alfie Dog Fiction is celebrating its 5th birthday and they have lots of celebratory offers, so do pop over to the site and find out more.)

Sunday 7 May 2017

Celebrating 90 Years...

No, I'm not 90 years old, but Nottingham Writers' Club is this year. Which is why I was out celebrating on the 4th May.

We attended a reception at the Nottingham Council House in the Market Square, with club members and their guests, plus a few members of the City of Literature board.

There was a short speech by the Lord Mayor (who was previously the Sheriff of Nottingham), and then by our President of 10 years, Roy Bainton.

The Lord Mayor and NWC President
Roy Bainton cutting the cake
One of our Vice Presidents, Pat, arranged and paid for the cake- it was an open book shaped sponge with jam filling and iced - it was delicious.

The club committee provided the wine and non-alcoholic drinks.

Tea and coffee courtesy of the Council.

There were about 35 - 40 people at the reception, but not everyone was going on to the nearby restaurant, George's, for dinner.

We had part of the cake at the reception, and rather than ordering any puddings after our dinner (don't think any of us had room for pudding anyway) we had another slice of cake to finish...

It was a wonderful evening all round, with lots of talking, as well as the eating and drinking.

Me and my own personal hero...
Just as 10 years ago at the 80th anniversary celebrations, I got a picture taken of me with my own personal hero- my husband - who much prefers to be behind the camera than in front of it.

It may look like we're doing head contortions and looking in the wrong place, but the room lights were reflecting off the lenses of our glasses, so we had to keep making adjustments until we eradicated the light problem.

The club's celebrations continue for the rest of the year, but they'll be low-key...

Only 10 more years until the 100th anniversary...

Sunday 2 April 2017

As it's Sunday it's the Museum of Bath Architecture...

I'm going backwards for this visit to Bath, and sharing the smaller less well-known museums in Bath first.

Last Sunday we (husband and I) visited the Museum of Bath Architecture (which appears on some tourist brochures/maps as the Buildings of Bath) and it was well worth the visit.

The exhibition is located in the Countess of Huntingdon's Chapel along the raised pavement of The Paragon, The Vineyards. It's owned by The Bath Preservation Trust who are also involved with No.1 The Royal Crescent (I visited there on my last trip to Bath in 2014).

It's all raised pavement...

(You'll see a cape belonging to the Countess in a later post.)

Acorn Finials at The Circus
If you don't know anything about the architecture of Bath there's a very helpful video to start you off, before you go on to discover the various crafts and the tools used by the men who built the distinctive houses from the lower to the upper end of the city.

(When I'd been waiting for the Fashion Museum to open the previous day, we'd wandered into The Circus, and one of the pictures I took was of the stone acorns finials that run around the roof line, and we both assumed they had some symbolism.)

So it was a surprise to turn the corner of the first display cabinet and there was a large stone acorn, similar to those in the Circus, though this one was from The Royal Crescent. [1]

Stone Acorn Finial
from the Royal
Yes, it is symbolic.

John Wood (the Elder) who designed The Circus, sadly died three months after the foundation stone was laid, and the building work continued under the Younger John Wood. The elder Wood was strongly influenced by Stonehenge ( he studied and wrote about it) and other stone circles- the Druids were in there too...

On a previous visit to the Circus it was a very sunny May day, the sun was almost in alignment with Gay Street (that leads up to the centre) and it's easy to see the stone circle influence with his design.

The acorns reference Bladud- who is supposed to have discovered the healing hot waters of Bath; his pigs- suffering from a skin disease- were looking for acorns to eat and were cured by the hot spring.

There were a few items that I particularly enjoyed seeing; the Mason's Level with a lead plumb weight. [2]

Mason's Level

Model of 26 Great
Pultney Street...
But the most impressive item has to be the model display of the city, and you can press buttons that lights up the best known locations. (see image at the bottom of this post) [3]

By the time we'd worked our way around the displays you could really appreciate the skills of the men who did the actual building work, they brought the architects designs and visions to reality, using many of the tools that craftsmen today would still recognise.

Even the little models required skill and are interesting too. [4]

You can see a few of the other items from the Trust's collection, here.

I've only mentioned a few things, but there is so much more to see and learn.

It's a small museum, and like many smaller places across the country, they like (and welcome) visitors. So if you get the opportunity do go, you won't be disappointed...

The Royal Crescent and The Circus
lit up in the Bath city model...

Images 1,2,3,4 taken with permission.

Raised pavement image courtesy of RP Bevitt.

Thursday 16 March 2017

Busy Ducks...

The good news is my trip to Bath is booked, so I'm hoping the weather will be dry even if it's not warm when I eventually go.

The first batch of manuscripts (for the writers' club's national competition) are on my desk waiting for me to start reading and giving a few lines of feedback on each one.

And my diary for the next few months is filling up quickly, so I'm glad I got my weekend away booked before these other appointments came in.

The other good news- well it is to me- is that I have a small payment from ALCS this year, so that will be saved up toward funding a future research trip to who-knows-where...

Passing visitors...
It's also getting time to tidy up the garden, now that the buds are opening on the trees and bushes; and the small birds are becoming regular visitors.

So it was quite unexpected last week when a pair of Ducks flew into the garden for a quick snack and wander round.

Of course they chose the least photogenic area of the garden to land on...

The female did the sensible thing and pecked up any bird seed that she could find, while the male Mallard went for a short stroll.

Obviously the garden didn't meet his requirements and he flew off, quickly followed by the female- they synchronised flying too.

This pair make regular appearances around the area: from walking across the road, to settling down for a rest on the front lawn of someone's house.

They're not that far from a number of ponds and water channels so they can easily fly from place to place.

Waiting for the other half...
They're obviously an adventurous pair that like to get away from the crowds...

Monday 13 February 2017

Planning Research Trips...

The arrival of the latest newsletter from the Fashion Museum in Bath reminded me that I'd planned to go back this year so I could see A History of Fashion in 100 Objects. It runs until 1st January 2019.

Alongside the main exhibition there's always a second. Recently opened is  Lace in Fashion, which features items from the 16th century up to the 21st, and  runs until the 1st January 2018.

I hope to go in May for a long weekend, but it's not guaranteed, it depends if I can fit it in around other events and some major work at home.

There were a few other museums that I didn't have time to get to on my last visit, The Holburne Museum- you can walk the length of Great Pultney Street and admire the Georgian architecture as you pass by, then you reach Sydney Place and see the Museum across the road- very impressive.

Also the Bath Postal Museum was missed out last time.

If you're going on a research trip, near or far, do you do any specific planning ahead, so you make the best use of your time? Or do you take a more easy-going pace?

If I'm travelling any distance and need to stay overnight then checking rail fares and hotel availability- within budget- is the first task after deciding I'm going.

If you're travelling by car, parking can be an issue in popular locations, and another cost you need to take into account. On our York trip last year we chose a hotel with its own parking, and walked everywhere...

Many places put on festivals and events during the year, which almost guarantees limited hotel choice- plus more people who may be visiting the places you are, so I try to work around these if I can.

Of course there may be a particular occasion/festival taking place that you're interested in so plan and book well in advance.

The websites of the places I intend visiting will usually have a lot of relevant information- especially if it's a large city that gets a lot of tourists and visitors. Other smaller places are sometimes run by councils so may have limited details.

So it's always a good idea to see what available, opening times, entry charges, and directions. There are less well-known gems around the country...

If you have any difficulty walking it's important to know if there's any areas you can't access, or if there's any lift access- many museums have done work to make as many places as accessible as they can, but that's not always been possible.

Likewise photography can be another issue, so I either ring or email the place via their contact details and ask what their policy is.
I'll also check when I get to the venue as sometimes there can be a few areas within an exhibition that are a no-no for cameras, even if the rest of the place it's okay.

Print off a street map of the central area where museums and places of interest are located if there's one available online. You may even be able to buy a small fold-up map when you get to your destination.

Last summer in York, the hotel had photocopies of the map for city layout at the reception desk, making it easy to find which way to go if you got lost, or were aiming for a particular venue.

Weather you can't do much about, but be prepared for it when you pack (unless you're going hiking in the hills or the wild of somewhere when extra precaution are needed) a waterproof jacket that can be folded up into its own bag is ideal.

Don't forget the chargers for your various essential devices (camera, mobile phone, laptop or tablet) or if applicable, spare batteries.

Plus the ever trusty notebook and pens, and something you can put your receipts and leaflets/brochures into for referring back to later, or for recording in your accounts.

Over the years I've learnt to take a photo of information boards connected with the other images I'm taking pictures off.

Information on stonework
being restored at York
You think you'll remember but you won't, and you might just need to confirm something when you're writing.

But most of all, leave time to just take in the atmosphere and enjoy the place you're visiting. It shouldn't all be work...

A lazy Sunday morning in York...

Is there anything you always do when you're planning a visit somewhere, or do you go with the flow?

Perhaps I plan too much... :-)

Monday 3 October 2016

When Writers Meet...

It's always fun to get-together with other writers and talk about the highs, and sometimes lows, of writing. It's even better when there's coffee and cake involved somewhere.

Over the weekend I finally got to meet (in person) a couple of my writing buddies (and fellow bloggers) Patsy Collins and Maria Smith. The three of us are also involved with #writingchat on Twitter on Wednesday evenings.

Carol, Maria and Patsy
A big thank you must be said to Patsy's very patient husband Gary, who took photos of the three of us together, with our cameras, before departing for the peace of the campervan.

The weather was not good; cool and threatening to rain, so we went for a walk first to burn up the calories, before we retreated to the warmth of the cafe for coffee and cake- and more talking.

Fortunately we were inside when the heavy rainfall started, and were only momentarily distracted by the thump from nearby thunder, and an impressive flash of lightning.

The hours passed quickly, and I'm sure anyone looking at us chatting away would never have known it was the first time we'd actually met. We've known each other online for some time, so we weren't really total strangers.

It's made me determined to get out and attend more events in the next twelve months, and hopefully meet a few more of the many writers I know from blogging and Facebook/Twitter...

Look out for Patsy's Tuesday blog post for some #writingchat news.

Horse on a diet

Across the gravel pit the clouds approach

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...

Thursday 6 August 2015

Making Plans for 2016...

A couple of years ago I bought an academic style diary because I started to have a list of dates for appointments and school/college dates for the next year, but only the back of the current year's diary to note them down - and my writing is not small!

So now as soon as I see them in the shops I make my choice, and at the first opportunity I transfer details over. 2016 is not going to be quiet.

Today I was booking my appointment dates for the rest of this year with my hairdresser (as the bookings for December were starting already). I have no intention of having my grey roots showing for the Festival of Romance weekend in November. :D

But this got me thinking about next year's events- yes I know it's only August...

I definitely want to go to the Writers' Conference again- this year it was the end of March, then June is always Lowdham Book Festival and a busy time generally. So if I want to get away for a research trip I'm going to have to aim for May again.

I'm thinking about a visit to Dorchester as there's some research details I need for my Dorset novel before I get back to writing it (at some point next year). On my previous visits time was limited and the family impatient to go, so like my trip to Bath last year, I need time to myself for visits.

There's still a couple of small research areas that I noted down in my Nottinghamshire novella/short novel, so I need to resolve those, but they don't require me to travel away from home, just sit down, read and look at pictures...

And write of course.

My resolution for next year will definitely be better time management. I'm getting there, but I still have to work on procrastination in the morning.

Meanwhile I've got between now and the end of November to get as much done as possible.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

Thursday 5 March 2015

Pinterest at Last...

Hope everyone is well.

It's been taking me longer than usual to get over this latest bug, and actually I think it was a slight bout of flu - considering how worn-out it's left me.

Having lost a couple of weeks writing time I now need to catch up, so I'm going to have to be very strict with getting back to the work in progress.

The end of last week wasn't totally wasted though, as I finally got around to doing something with Pinterest.

I'd actually signed up toward the end of last year, but hadn't had time to actually learn how to do anything. Once I understood the mechanics of it, it isn't that difficult.

(Though there's a lot I haven't yet explored.)

I've created a few boards, begun to follow boards, and other writers I know. Pop over to look at my boards if you are interested.

If you've not looked into Pinterest before, I'd describe it as an online scrapbook, but you aren't restricted to just looking at your own version...

My creative mind does work better with visual stimuli, but of course if I saved every link that triggered something it would be pages and pages long. :D

So now I can assign it to one of my boards- or create a new one.

You can even put together a private board that only you can see, or allow certain people to see it too.

My favourite is my Costume board. There are so many sources of costume and accessories around, so I'm probably adding to that every day because I see something in passing. I haven't just limited it to 18th or 19th century items, but included early 20th century pieces too.

No doubt I will eventually discover why I felt the need to make a board about chocolate; types of, the history of and pictures of chocolate in lots of forms. :D

A couple of weeks ago, on her blog, Rosemary Gemmell was talking about how she uses Pinterest, and how her works in progress benefit from its use. Read her recent post over on her Reading and Writing blog.

Pinterest seems to have developed quite a bit since it first started, and it now has a useful place in social media.

If you're on Pinterest do let me know, and I'd enjoy hearing what you like about it...

Friday 27 February 2015

Time for Voting for the Oddest Book Title of the Year again...

I'm slowly recovering from the nasty bug, and my brain is no longer stuffed like a thick duvet!

My characters have been quiet - plotting their next moves I suspect.

It's also given me time to catch up on some reading, and looking into various things I need to get on with this month.

Yes, I know I was meant to be resting, but I could sit still at my desk and catch up - it's only moving around or standing up for more than a few minutes that gets me!

So to this year's oddest titles (Diagram Prize)- there's some obvious contenders to win this year.

1. Advanced Pavement Research:... (and more about concrete, design and construction. I'm a bit concerned why pavements need rehabilitation.) It's a Souvenir guide to a two-day pavement symposium.

2. Divorcing a Real Witch: For Pagans and the People That Used to Love Them.

3. The Madwoman in the Volvo: My Year of Raging Hormones.

4. Nature's Nether Regions.

5. Strangers Have the Best Candy.

6. The Ugly Wife is a Treasure at Home.

7. Where Do Camels Belong.

The titles in the last few years haven't had as much variety as those in earlier years of the prize, so it's good to have more choice this time.

I'm trying to decide between voting for no. 2 or no. 3.

You can read more over on the Bookseller website, and see the covers - they look quite good together.

But if you want to vote- and remember your vote can decide the winner- you need to pop over to the We Love This Book website to do so. Just click on the vote box to go to the form.

Voting ends one minute into 21st March 2015, and the winner is announced on 27th March.

The winning title doesn't receive a prize, but the publicity that inclusion in the competition brings the book, probably increases sales that otherwise might not have happened.

I couldn't resist opting for 'The Madwoman in the Volvo'. That title just appealed to me, with the image it suggested. :D

Sunday 8 February 2015

Virtual Romance...

No, not online dating... :D This weekend is #Romance2015.

(Though if you're reading this later in the week it will be last weekend.)

I've  spent about five hours this afternoon at my desk, logged into Facebook to benefit from the sessions arranged for this year's virtual Romance Festival; it's been taking place on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Hangouts, as well as regular updates on their wordpress blog.

You can find all the details and links to the social media pages hosting this weekend's sessions. So go along to this page, here.

Each session was 30 minutes, but the discussions and answers to the numerous questions writers were asking, carried on beyond that.

Everything started at 2pm with marketers from both HarperCollins and Mills and Boon, helping out with answers to marketing and social media.Obviously this is an important subject for self-publishers, but also those with publishers.

Building social profile, and engaging with your audience was important, but not to spread yourself too thinly by trying to use too many channels.

And building your mailing list enables you to get to your readers- Sam Missingham said that readers 'engage on social media, but buy from emails'. Mailchimp was one suggestion for newsletters to send to your list.

Pinterest seemed to be another useful media to develop. I'm signed up, but just need to do something with it! :-) But this subject was covered later on.

Then it was on to Book Bloggers, and if you want to know how to approach them to review your book, then you really should read that session. Did you know they had review policies?

Moving on through a Fern Britton video, and the interesting Jill Mansell, there was writing support groups and friends- everyone who commented valued these highly.

Lots of interest in Phillipa Ashley's tips on writing 'steamy' scenes. Some great advice. I liked the answer to someone's question about the right words for 'bits and bobs' in steamy scenes; it was suggested writing out a list of words and crossing out 'any that make you shudder'.

There was time for Goodreads, another area I've dipped my toe in, but not done much with. I'll be venturing into that again soon...

From Historical tips- I needed a break by this point, too many cups of coffee, don't think I need to say more.

Design and marketing was very popular and well worth reading through. These were answered by Katie Roden, co-founder of Fixabook.

The writers were very aware of the importance of cover design, and a few of Katie's suggestions, beside getting a very good cover design, was giving the designer as much information as possible in the cover brief you provide; create a mood board/playlist for the book which reflects how you want the reader to feel.

I just managed to last out through the 6.30pm session on Pinterest, with The Literary Shed. This will probably be an area I try to concentrate on developing over the year. 'It's less about direct marketing' I was told, and more about how 'your potential readership view you' and your books, and the genre you write in.

Sunday has lots of opportunities for readers, and you can find out what's scheduled on their blog post.

I enjoyed the writers day; learnt a lot, and have to say that it was even better than last year. Perhaps knowing what to expect this time helped.

Hope this will be back in 2016...

Sunday 20 July 2014

Seven Things...

I've been nominated for a Versatile Blogger award by two lovely talented
I try to be versatile...
 ladies, Teresa Ashby, and Patsy Collins.

I have to tell you 7 things about myself...

I'm a closet sci-fi fan. My current addictions are Farscape and Stargate: SG1. 
Every weekday evening I turn on the digital channel Pick, and from 7-9 pm I'll be watching...

In the scones debate and the butter/cream and jam order, I do have butter on mine, then jam, followed by a big dollop of clotted cream. That
was how I was taught as a child during summer holidays...

I collect postcards.
Not the black and white type, but of places I've visited, museums and old stately homes, and castles.
I especially like those showing fashion- dresses, shoes, hats etc. I have a few that I bought at exhibitions in my twenties when I lived within easy travelling distance of London. And of course I added a few more during my weekend in Bath.

A few of the postcards
 in my collection
Some people are coffee drinkers, and others prefer tea. I haven't drunk tea since I was a teenager.
When I was about 15, I went on a school trip to Switzerland, and we stayed in a hotel beside Lake Lucerne- well there was a steep path down to the lakeside. And that was when I started drinking coffee. When I came home a week later, the taste of tea was horrid, and although I've tried tea in the years since, it still tastes horrible...

My favourite flowers are roses and pinks.
I'm fortunate to have some scented red roses in my garden, and I love the scent on a warm evening. Sadly I've lost a couple of the rose plants that were in the garden when we moved into our house, so I'm happy to see my pruning is encouraging new stems, and lots of buds on the surviving ones....

I don't like scary/horror films.
It could just be I let my imagination run off into horrible possibilities, but I have never been the same since I saw 'The Fog'. My (now) husband and I were visiting my brother, and while there we watched the film without any problem. It was only when we finally got home- after a drive through dark country lanes- that I couldn't cope with the bedroom light being turned off!
I now never watch a scary film just before I go to bed...

I have a lot of long scarves.
Now this is a new habit I've developed over the past year. Although my muscles have finally healed after the accident I was involved in three years ago, I've discovered my neck and shoulder muscles give me issues if they get cold, or I lift anything too heavy- just covering the back of my neck makes all the difference. So I'm building up a selection of colours, patterns and weights for different times of the year.

So that's seven things. Now I need to nominate 15 people, and as with any of these awards no doubt quite a few will have been nominated before.

Here's 10 for now...





Wednesday 2 July 2014

A Fun Competition...

Words with JAM are running a fun Genre Spoof Competition in association with Bookmuse, and best of all, it's FREE.

Your entry needs to be a condensed spoof of your favourite genre, up to 1,000 words- plenty of space for creativity there...

Their favourite entries will be published in a Bookmuse Reader's Journal later this year; and all published entrants will get a copy of the journal. The overall winner gets a £30 Amazon voucher.

Entries close on the 30th September, and the winners will be announced 31st October, this year.

There's online entry, but your entry must not have been previously published, either online or print, nor accepted for publication elsewhere (though these are unlikely to be relevant in this case). You can enter stories that have been on a critique forum, or if currently submitted to another competition.

You keep copyright, but must be 16+ to enter.

If you're not sure what writing a spoof in your favourite genre entails, they Words with JAM have helpfully included a couple of examples...

For full details of the competition, and the address for submitting your entry, follow this link.

Have fun. :D

Monday 19 May 2014

I'm Back from Bath...

I had a great weekend, and did a lot of walking- lots of it uphill and down again.

Now I have to get back to reality; unpack, sort out my various purchases- postcards and books. Then download and label my photos- I'll have to get my little pocket map out for that.

My hotel was a Georgian house, so every time I went out, or returned back in the evening, I had the delight of walking past a parade of houses that have been there for hundreds of years...

I've probably got enough for a few blog posts plus the photos. :)

My arrival on the Friday afternoon coincided with the Evening at the Museums event, so I managed to fit in a couple of extra events beyond my original plans- Friday evening had a literary event; history and writing together...

And I will have to take a picture of my new mouse mat, from The Jane Austin Centre, as it's not shown in their shop- you'll like it. :D

More to come soon...

Friday 6 December 2013

Awards Night at the Writers' Club...

Another Awards Night has been and gone.

Now this year I was in the running for the Nottingham Writers' Club, Writer of the Year Award. This is for the four winners of the club's quarterly prose competitions (from Autumn last year to Summer this year).

Unfortunately because of unforeseen delays- more than one of them in fact- the judge wasn't able to get the result back in time, so no one yet knows who won.

There are actually only three writers this time, as I won two of the four competitions- still amazed at that.

So it will be January before the winner is announced and the trophy presented. And that will be mid-month, as our regular first meeting in January next year is New Year's Day! So no meeting as the venue is closed due to it being a public holiday.

After the awards are presented, and the food is eaten, the competitive and humorous nature of the writers starts to emerge with the quiz and games.

The social secretary, Pat, puts together a simple, but fiendish quiz of questions about what has been in the news during the year- it is amazing how many things you forget, and how many minor facts get remembered...:-)

All I am going to say is never invite any of us to do Countdown...Not unless you've handed us the rulebook and stood over us while we've read it!

As it was a party I dressed up- I've got to get some use out of my Festival of Romance Ball outfit...

Glammed up...
Despite the delays in the trophy presentation- there were a couple of others who were also away and couldn't receive theirs either- I did receive a gift card for my two first place wins.

Now it's back to reality and the Christmas to do list...

Tuesday 5 November 2013

I'm Back!

Life has been catching up with me this past month.

With my sons new college days, my previously settled writing schedule has been disrupted and I've been finding it difficult to settle, or find a new routine that works for me.

I'm struggling to get used to short writing sessions, rather than longer ones-which is more natural for me and my longer work.

I have added to the novella, but I'm finding the penultimate chapter slow going, as I'm dealing with the final confrontation between the hero and his cousin.

Everything is getting busy at the writers' club too, as we approach the Christmas party and Awards Night at the beginning of December.

This year I'm a contender for the Writer of the Year trophy, alongside two other very good writers- one of whom is fellow blogger and club member Keith Havers.

Only the two Competition Secretaries will know who the judge has chosen (someone from outside the club, who has read the four winning prose competition entries from the past 12 months); and the winner only finds out when their name is announced on the night.

Tomorrow (Wednesday 6th) is the club's annual Manuscript of the Year competition. Members are given a theme and have 250 words to write a story.

Now my mind is in blank mode at the moment, so no 'Why Me' story. This theme was one of the suggestions from club members, on another evening, earlier in the year. For the poets there's a Verse of the Year that happens each March - same formula.

One day I may astound myself- and everyone else - by entering a poem! :D

The Festival of Romance in Bedford happens this weekend. There's still just enough time to buy tickets...

It's going to be a busy information packed, and fun, couple of days.

There are so many things I'm looking forward to - an Irresistible Heroes workshop with Sue Moorcroft and Christina Courtney early Saturday afternoon, and the ball in the evening, among the numerous events on Saturday.

I finally found a suitable outfit for the Ball, last week, after searching for months. I no longer need worry that I'll look like Cinderella before the transformation... :-)

There's a conference on the Sunday, with romance publishers doing one to one sessions- I'm not ready for that this year so didn't apply. But they have editors doing short talks, among lots of useful topics.

I'll also get to meet a few of the writers who I know from Facebook, at some point...

So I'm finally leaving the men in the family at home to look after themselves, while I immerse myself in romance...

I'll review my weekend experience when I post next week. And I'll try and get some photos taken in between events.

And if you're going to the Festival and see me, do say hello.

Image 'Rose Petals and Glass Heart' courtesy of Victor Habbick and

Tuesday 27 August 2013

A News Flash...

Just had an e-mail to tell me my submission to Cafelit is up on the website and blog, so you can read it here.

It's called 'A Tight Squeeze', as you'll see why when you read the story.

It actually started out as a 200 word story for the One Word Challenge competition, on the Talkback forum of the writersonline website. The judge that month gave me some useful comments, so I did a rewrite of the first half of the story- a great improvement.

It's been a long month waiting, but it's wonderful to see even a short piece of my writing out in the world for people to read.

On target
I hope you enjoy reading it...

image courtesy of