Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Behind Again!

It's half term this week, so normal service has been disrupted. I'm so behind with everything.

I still have to read another twenty or so Yellow Room competition entries, then I can put the shortlist up on the website. I have two pieces to comment on on the Wannabe site. I also have a rather large pile of submissions to read and give feedback on.

My printer has run out of ink yet again. I'm sure there's something wrong with it. You wouldn't believe how quickly it gets through ink cartridges and I don't do that much printing!
For this reason, please could writers submitting work to The Yellow Room not send an SAE, but an email address I can reply to instead?

The photo here is 'Underneath Southwold Pier' by Dave Derrick. The lighthouse photo was also by Dave Derrick. I keep getting into trouble for not crediting him!

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Salt Publishing

I know only too well how difficult it is to keep a small press going. We rely on sales and on subscriptions to keep afloat. The Yellow Room Magazine is also funded by competition entry fees.

Sally Zigmond and Jane Smith have brought to my attention the difficulties Salt Publishing is having keeping the wolf from the door due to the economic downturn. Salt publishes beautiful books - both novels and short story collections. Can you help them stay afloat by purchasing just one book? Please read the following:

As many of you will know, Chris and I have been struggling to keep Salt moving since June last year when the economic downturn began to affect our press. Our three year funding ends this year: we've £4,000 due from Arts Council England in a final payment, but cannot apply through Grants for the Arts for further funding for Salt's operations. Spring sales were down nearly 80% on the previous year, and despite April's much improved trading, the past twelve months has left us with a budget deficit of over £55,000.It's proving to be a very big hole and we're having to take some drastic measures to save our business.Here's how you can help us to save Salt and all our work with hundreds of authors around the world.JUST ONE BOOK1. Please buy just one book, right now. We don't mind from where, you can buy it from us or from Amazon, your local shop or megastore, online or offline. If you buy just one book now, you'll help to save Salt. Timing is absolutely everything here. We need cash now to stay afloat. If you love literature, help keep it alive. All it takes is just one book sale. Go to our online store and help us keep going.2. Share this note on your profile. Tell your friends. If we can spread the word about our cash crisis, we can hopefully find more sales and save our literary publishing. Remember it's just one book, that's all it takes to save us. Please do it now.With my best wishes to youJenDirectorSalt Publishing

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

A New Chapter

Life feels good today. It's one of those rare moments when I feel everything is in balance. I'm going to savour the moment, because it doesn't happen very often.

I've been working on my novel this week and for the first time I really feel as if I'm getting somewhere. The turning point came when I realised how much I love reading crime fiction and that it's my favourite genre. I'm afraid I'm one of those people who regularly tune into those serial killer documentaries on TV. My characters have been trying to steer me into murder territory for some time and at first I resisted. Now I've allowed them to go their own way, the writing is flowing much more easily.

I've discovered I'm one of those writers who can keep almost a whole novel in their head. I develop ideas and flesh out my characters in my mind well before I write anything down. It's all 'up there' and just needs transferring onto paper. That's the hard bit, I find!

The exercise is still going well and physically I feel great too. I ran round the local reservoir again on Monday evening, was faster and it felt more comfortable. I'm now alternating running days with toning exercises, which feels about right. I've also got the food thing back under control, thank goodness, and the pounds are dropping off again. This all adds to my sense of well being. Why I can't be like this all the time, I don't know! I guess we all need periods of rest and reflection to get to a better place. Those duvet days served a purpose.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Duvet Day

Those graze boxes couldn't have been that healthy, as I've had a stinking cold for the past two days. Yesterday was Matthew's fourteenth birthday, so I tried hard to get into the spirit of it and celebrate in the usual way. However, today I've spent most of the time underneath the duvet on the settee with the TV and a good book. I haven't had a bad cold for over year, so I guess I'm well overdue for one. I don't like the enforced disruption being ill entails. I can't exercise, can't concentrate enough to even read submissions or competition entries or to write. Boo hoo! Megan has a friend round to play this evening, so I'm hoping they'll be good and I won't have to do very much apart from put some chicken nuggets in the oven. There are times when I just have to resort to junk food for the kids' tea!

Hopefully, I'll stop feeling sorry for myself soon and normal service will be resumed next week.

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Graze Boxes

If you're into healthy eating, then you may like to try a FREE graze box from:
You can order a weekly box to be delivered to your door or office on the day you request. It contains a portion of fresh fruit, a portion of dried fruit and a portion of nuts. You can browse the assortments available and state your preferences. I love these boxes and it's always a surprise to find out what's in them. I haven't been disappointed yet. To try your first box for free, then simply go to the website, log in and quote this code: TBF93Y1

Happy snacking!

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Second Hand Books

Over the past few days I've been trying to sort out my books. After my first husband died back in 1997, I developed a bit of a book buying obsession. I went into overdrive when home educating the children, buying all kinds of reference books and fiction for them, as well as myself. As a result, our house is bursting at the seams with books, many of which have never even been read. My tastes have changed over the years and I know I'll just never read some of them. There are also the impulse buys; those books which I thought would either come in handy or someone else had recommended, but to be truthful weren't really my thing. Yes, I did buy books for the sake of it! So, I decided to list a great many of them on readitswapit. I don't know whether you've come across this website, but it's very user-friendly. You list the books you no longer want, then you search through a huge library of other members' books to see which ones you'd like to swap with. The site is free, and you simply pay postage on the book you send. I want to build up a little crime fiction library, as I feel this is the genre my novel is leaning towards. I've also enjoyed reading crime fiction and want to study the genre in more detail. Readitswapit is ideal for my purposes.

I've also listed a stack of books about how to teach your children at home on Amazon Marketplace this morning. It's much easier than taking the books to the second-hand bookshop. If, after a few weeks, I'm still left with the books I listed either on readitswapit or Amazon Marketplace, then I'll take them to the charity shop.

I made the mistake of mentioning the above in a post on a writers' forum recently. Didn't it open up a can of worms? One writer was very put out. She pointed out to me that I'm doing writers a disservice by getting rid of my unwanted books in this way. She said that she never gives books away or sells them second-hand. Instead, if she doesn't want them, she tears them up and puts them in the recycling. Why? Because that way other people will be forced to go out and buy new books, and that way the authors will receive the royalties. Authors receive no royalties from second-hand books. She also said we should use libraries rather than buy second-hand because at least then the authors receive a token payment from PLR. She said she resents second-hand booksellers and charities benefitting from book sales when the money should be going to the authors.

Mmm.. interesting. So should Ford be paid money when we sell on a Mondeo second-hand to the local car dealer or to someone answering our ad in Exchange and Mart?

I want to make it clear that I will always buy brand new books. I love browsing in bookshops and love the feel, smell and the very newness of new books. It doesn't get any better on the book front, as far as I'm concerned. I'm very particular about the state of the books I read. If they're battered or the spine heavily creased, then I don't want to know. That's why I'm not keen on library books. You don't know where they've been, do you? I hate it when you find cigarette ash in the pages or bits of orange. At least on readitswapit the owner can describe the condition of the book. I always go for the books described as 'like new' or 'excellent'. They're usually pretty clean. I'm confident that the books I pass on to others are clean and in excellent condition (I always use bookmarks). One lady recently enclosed a brand new bookmark with the book she sent me via readitswapit and a lovely personalised card.

Relatives and friends know how much I love books and reading, so either buy me books as presents or book tokens. I also collect Persephone books and wouldn't part with those, always buying new.

So, it's over to you. What do you think about the whole second-hand book debacle? Do you agree with writer on the forum? I must add that the whole debate then ventured into the territory of writing for pleasure or profit. I was told I was bonkers for thinking writers write purely for the love of writing. We've had an interesting debate on this on the QWF Forum (yes, it's still running, even though the magazine is now out of my hands). The general concensus is that we write because we love it, not because there's money in it, because often there isn't.

Anyway, I'd love to hear your views. Just off for a long run to blow away the cobwebs.