Wednesday, 17 December 2008

A busy week!

It has been one of those weeks when housework, shopping and present wrapping have taken precedence. I've done a tiny bit of writing in that I've started a new womag story inspired by a comment a friend made on Monday night. I still haven't finished the story I started last week. I am very good at starting stories, but hopeless at writing endings!
I've been exercising a fair bit and will continue to do so over Christmas, as my jeans are already tighter than they were in the summer! Tonight I'm off out for a meal at a local bistro with my two 'walking' friends. I'm just hoping I'm not too hungover tomorrow, as I have to be at the Farmers' Market for 9am to collect my meat order and then have to be at my Cardio Box class by 10.30am.
I've been doing cleaning and housework this week. A bit anyway. More than I usually do, which is to just put the vacuum round. This is in preparation for any visitors who might call in. My friend has already said she's coming for lunch on Friday, so that's given me a bit more incentive. I keep promising myself I'll give the bedrooms a good clear out but never seem to get round to it. Megan's room is so full of toys I really don't know how we'll fit any more in.
We've spent far too much on the children this year, mainly because Matthew said he wanted a long leather coat. A mere snip at £143.95! And I couldn't just give him that and nothing else, could I? Then I felt I had to spend as much on Megan to make things fair. Oh well, at least Christmas Day will be fun. The best bit for me is watching the children opening their presents.
There are still a few copies of The Yellow Room #1 left. I haven't received many votes on the stories, which is a shame. In fact, I haven't had much feedback in general, which is a bit worrying! Once January is here, I must get started on Issue 2. Very exciting!
Wishing you all a very Happy Christmas and all the best for 2009. I may not have chance to blog again now before the new year.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

More positive news!

I'm feeling slightly more cheerful today, despite being very busy wrapping and posting several presents for relatives and friends who live further afield.

This afternoon I found out that my story, Lady Killers, had been shortlisted in the WriteLink Xmas Chillers Competition. There were 100 entries and 27 were shortlisted (includes the winning stories).

My writing hasn't gone well this week, as I've just been too busy. I still haven't finished the 3,000 word story I started on Tuesday and I doubt whether I'll have a spare moment tomorrow. There's always next week! In the meantime I must finish writing my Christmas cards!

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

A Day Of Disappointments

You know I mentioned my absent-mindedness/foggy brain yesterday? Erm, yes, well, it led to a big disappointment today. It was Megan's Christmas play at school. She was Cow 1 and had a speaking part. Nige couldn't go, so he asked me to video the play for prosperity. All well and good, except that I hate filming and I'm not used to the camcorder or whatever it's called these days. I took my mother-in-law along and she suggested we sit on the back row so that I could stand up to get the best view to film. Megan was on the stage and I got a perfect view of her in the lovely cow costume her nanna had made. The play began and I started to film. Then I went to zoom in and pressed the wrong button. Something odd happened. I carried on filming, then my arm got stiff, so I sat down, having switched off the camcorder. After a minute's break I stood up and started filming again. By the end of the performance my vision was blurry from staring at the little screen on the camcorder and my arm felt as if it was about to drop off. Still, I felt I had some good shots of Megan and her classmates. Megan was word perfect, spoke up loudly and clearly, and I successfully zoomed in this time when it was her turn to speak.
My mother-in-law came back for tea and we all looked forward to watching the performance on the TV afterwards. It all looked great on film... for two minutes, then nothing! Blue screen. End of film. What had gone wrong? Nige fiddled around and said, 'Nope, there's no more.' He thinks I'd probably pressed the 'pause' button by mistake, so the majority of the performance was lost. I was gutted. I overreacted, of course. Nige told me not to make such a big thing of it. Easier said than done. This was Megan's last nativity, as she goes into the Juniors in September. It was one of those 'memorable childhood milestones' and I'd missed it. Well, I hadn't really, but it felt as if I had. The one reason I don't like filming these things is that you can't sit down, relax and enjoy the performance. I was there, but I didn't really see or hear what was going on, because I was staring at a little screen, trying to capture the moment. Except I didn't. Aargh! Yes, I'm beating myself up about it and I know I shouldn't. I'm sick of hearing, 'It can't be helped,' and 'We all make mistakes'.
I guess I'm a bit edgy just lately. I feel as if I'm teetering on the edge. Menopausal maybe? I am prone to depression and it's been a battle to remain positive the past few months. Silly things like failing to record the school play, losing Megan's sweatshirt (which has since turned up, by the way) and losing the padlock for my gym locker (the new one I bought didn't fit either!!) add up to make me feel like one big loser in life. Daft, I know, but negative feelings have a habit of snowballing. I know I just have to pick myself up and get on with it, but it's not easy.
I had two further disappointments today. The big brown envelope with my own handwriting on the address label came through the letter box causing me to mutter, 'Not already!'. Yes, it was my story dutifully returned by Park Publications along with the results of their Debut Magazine Competition. I wasn't even shortlisted. Feeling in a more positive mood this morning, I thought, oh well, that's another story I can send out. I don't feel quite the same about it this evening. Then I downloaded my emails and there was one entitled, 'Southport Writers Competition'. In a fit of optimism I thought they were letting me know I'd won a prize, having entered their comp in October. No such luck! Again, it was a list of results and I hadn't even been shortlisted. Oh well, another story free to send elsewhere. Except of course I now have my doubts about both those stories and all day I've been mulling over radical rewrites.
Tomorrow is another day. I hope I'll be in a more positive frame of mind, unless I'm hungover, which I probably will be! I think one of my new year's resolutions will have to be (again) to stop attempting to drown my sorrows. Actually, I feel better just having sat down and written this blog!

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Yellow Room Competition Results

I've finally got round to the final judging of The Yellow Room Competition. I found it very hard to choose between the stories which came second and third. So much so, that I awarded a joint third prize. I hope to publish at least some of these stories in a future issue of The Yellow Room. The winning story will be published in the second issue. It really stood out from the crowd for me.
1st Prize - At The Launderette by Sarah Barr
2nd Prize - Let's Change Loving by Amanda Field
Joint 3rd Prize - Colouring In by Suzie Lockhart-Smith
Such Terrible Devotion by Dorothy Schwarz
I've been busy writing again today. I started a new story this morning and had managed over 2,000 words by lunchtime. This has made me feel much better because yesterday I didn't achieve very much at all, writing or editing-wise. I think I'm going to miss my target of submitting four stories this week, but if I can get two new ones written, then I'll be happy.
Christmas is interfering with so much already. I must go into town tomorrow and buy the last of the presents. I also need to finish writing the Christmas cards this week. I haven't even thought about buying a tree and decorating it yet. We usually leave that until the last minute. It's also Megan's Christmas play tomorrow. A nativity-type thing again. She's a cow this year (she was a donkey last year). She also has a speaking part, bizarrely enough! My dear mother-in-law made her costume, which looks great. It cost me slightly less than last year's, which was £16. I spent £10 on material and a bit of elastic. I'm sure the school could recycle last year's costumes, so we didn't have to fork out every year. Okay, just call me Scrooge!
I've had a week of losing things, which is so annoying. Last week it was the padlock to the locker at the gym (which cost me a fiver!!) and this week we've lost Megan's school sweatshirt. I'm sure I was carrying it when we came out of school yesterday, but must have dropped it, as I can't find it anywhere. I'm berating myself that I didn't notice. My only excuse for my absent-mindedness is that I'm so busy thinking about plots and characters, that there's little room for anything else!
Wasn't it icy this morning? Some of the roads round here were lethal. The gritters hadn't gone out last night and certainly hadn't gritted the main road on the estate where Megan's school is. It was like an ice rink. Fortunately, Nige phoned me to warn me how bad it was, so I left the car at home and we walked. Lots of vehicles were skidding and swerving, including the service bus, which hit the kerb. I think I made the right decision to do the 40 minute walk to school and back! What with cardio box as well this morning, I've done quite well on the exercise front again today.
Right, I'm off to finish that story!

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Four stories per week.

I’m still writing up a storm this week! I’m trying to treat my writing as a ‘proper job’. My aim is to send out four stories per week, either to competitions or women’s magazines. I have to give myself a deadline otherwise I’ve had it!

Last week I entered four competitions: Debut Magazine Comp; Lichfield and District Writers; ‘On the Edge’ Competition and Writersdock Short Story Competition. Wish me luck! There are two I want to enter closing in December and I really must research a few more. I do prefer writing more literary stories for the competitions when there are no taboos regarding theme and language!

I’m finding the women’s magazine stories harder to write. I feel more restricted and can’t write as freely. However, I was editing two stories I’d earmarked for literary competitions when it occurred to me that they’d also sit quite comfortably in Woman’s Weekly. Again, word length is a problem. I just found out today that Take A Break feature stories of 1,100 words and I’ve just shaved off 100 words to fit what I thought was a 1,000 word limit. Damn!

As for The Yellow Room Short Story Competition judging…..I’ve almost finished. I’m trying to decide on first, second and third. Unusually, there isn’t a clear winner for me this time. Nothing stands out and grabs me as an out-and-out winner. Perhaps it’s just me.

Finally, I’ve had very little feedback on The Yellow Room Magazine. The feedback I’ve had has been very general and only three people have voted on the stories, which makes it hard to justify paying the winning author £20! So come on, if you’ve read the magazine, get voting!