Gardening is like Editing

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After days of being locked in my writing dungeon busy editing, I’m taking the day off and spending a few hours in my garden. I feel I need this to clear my mind and give my eyes a break too. The weather is supposed to be warming up next week here in England. We’ve had a few very cold nights and days which has held back the growth of my vegetables. I’ve planted potatoes, beans, butternuts out already and they’ve been undercover. I have more to go in, but held back in case I lost the ones in the garden to the frost. These have been growing in my kitchen. I’ve noticed too some of the trees and shrubs have shed some of their leaves as my patio is littered with leaves. In my cold frame, I’ve been growing tomato plants and they are doing very well.

Gardening and Editing has a lot in Common.

The rest of my garden especially the flower borders now need tidying. As the spring bulbs have finished flowering and shrubs have put on growth which needs to be kept in check otherwise they will smother the other plants. Gardening is like editing. You begin to recognise good gardening from lazy gardening. With good gardening you know that cutting back and taking out the dead wood allows the real beauty to shine through. The hard work in the beginning gives the best results in the end. By doing the hard work in the autumn and before winter sets in improves the garden and creates less work in the future, but the real key to success is keeping it all in check. As one season finishes a quick tidy throughout keeps everything under control.

Like editing, gardening is about cutting back and making space for the good stuff. A visitor to my garden may comment on its beauty but they don’t see the real work that has gone into it with all the planning and the pruning. That’s the same with your editing. Readers will only see the end result.

After being so busy with editing my single collection and my crime novel I’d forgotten all about my Dark Moment, You Came To Me which can be read on the Black Hare Press site Dark Moments. These stories are drabbles. If you have time please check out mine. Right, now I’m off for a day pruning. Hmm, not much difference between yesterday’s editing 😂🤣 Have a wonderful day all.

Just because I love the twinkle in his eyes, mmm.

London Waterloo Art Festival

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For three year in a row my story has made it into the Waterloo Festival Short Story Anthology. This year’s theme was Transforming Communities. I had read an article about cobalt which is a silver-White magnetic metal that is used in our phones, cars and anything that uses a rechargeable battery. Cobalt is as precious as gold. It is only found in a small area of Africa and is sometimes mined by children and women. The area is so wealthy, but the people are so poor because they aren’t paid a living wage for the dirty, dangerous job they do.

Waterloo Art Festival 2018

A few days ago Gill James of Bridge House Publishing sent all the winners an email asking for a short video with us reading an extract from our piece. I spent most of this morning trying to make the video. Goodness knows how many retakes I did. Then when I finally made one I was happy with, I ran out of memory on my iPad. After clearing enough memory space I tried several more times to get one right. But this time I found I couldn’t send the file via email because it was too big. So once again, I had to cut out all the book promoting I hoped to include and reduce it down to just reading my extract of Cobalt Blues.

Waterloo Art Festival 2019

Then I had to try many times until I reduced the file small enough to send via the email. By this point I was getting fed up with the sound of my voice. I just hope Gill feels its good enough to use. I shall share the link with you when it’s available to see. Now it’s back to editing my novel Stone Angels. Have a wonderful day.. Keep Safe.

Doubts and Fears Revisited

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When fears strike I lash out. I know it’s a weakness I have. After years of putting up walls, I let my husband Russell in. He’s a good man, and with a smile and a hugs he lets me know it is time to calm down. Most others would either walk away, or add fuel to the flames. Not Russell, he understand it is just my frustrations at my lack of confidence after years of being held back and negative comments from others.

All writers feel the same when doubts come uninvited.

Today, I’m back in my dungeon working on the first lots of Stone Angels edits that have come back from my Darkstroke publisher. After having a panic attack and allowing my old frustrations to scramble my brain, I took a deep breath and focused on what I got right and not what was wrong. In the publisher’s email, the line I should have focused on was, ‘In general I found the story to be told to a very high standard indeed’.
Now I need to focus on my placement of commas. I find them to be tricky little sods, unlike a full stop who knows its place.

Being self-taught my doubts creep in, and I find that I’m allowing the negative voices from my past to have head space rather than focus on my achievements. I must believe I’m good enough otherwise the demons will win. Stone Angels more than anything else I’ve written, so far, means a lot to me. It is the first piece of writing I felt said all I wanted it to say. After it suffered so many rejections, I felt I had got it so wrong.

This morning I’m feeling much better and I’m more focused. DarkStroke’s publishers are being very understanding and I’m sure many other writers feel the same fears, too. So if you feel doubt creeping in remember, you are not alone. I’m here and I understand what you are going through. We can be stronger together.

Have a great day. Keep safe

Just Keep On Editing

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Let the fun begin ✒📚

After days of editing, tightening and quite a few bits of rewriting my crime novel, Stone Angels is winging its way back to the publisher at Darkstroke. Now it’s time to start work on my next project. I shall set to work editing my vampire novel, ‘Seeking the Dark’ for the Australian publisher, Black Hare Press.

The edits for my single collection ‘ Days Pass Like A Shadow’ of short stories are back with the Bridge House Publishers so I’m just waiting for the launch date for the book. The cover is beautiful and I can’t wait to share it with you.

Have a wonderful week and I look forward to catching up with you soon

CafeLit writer tells a wonderful tale

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This amazing tale is told by a new writer. In memory of V.E Day.

Please take a look and I hope you enjoy it. Of course you will notice that the surname is the same as mine, but that’s because he’s my big brother 😂

CafeLit author, Mark Readman V.E Day tale link:

A Day to Remember

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75 years ago the world changed. Once again the guns fell silent and people took to the streets to celebrate peace across Europe. It is only right we should remember the sacrifice made by others to change the course of history and to bring around peace once more. It is important to remember to that all countries in Europe worked side by side, including those who were the aggressors, to bring everlasting peace and freedom to us all.

As we work together to free the world from this terrible virus, we find ourselves working towards the same goals as that generation before us did in 1945. It is only when nations work as one, can we hope to bring about lasting changes for everyone.

Wherever you are in the world today. I wish to send you my blessings of hope, peace and above all happiness. Have a wonderful day.

Waterloo Art Festival Writing Competition

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What a wonderful start to the day. I’m delighted to find my name and story Cobalt Blue in the list of winners of the Waterloo Art Festival Writing Competition this morning. My only disappointment is my husband, friends and cousin won’t be able to join the other winners for a wonderful get together in London.

Mehreen Ahmed: Dolly

Gail Aldwin: The Price of Firewood 

Christopher Bowles: Chroma

Maxine Churchman: Pulling Together

Jeanne Davies: Utopian Dream

Jo Dearden: A Small Clay Vase

Linda Flynn: Fishing in Troubled Waters 

Anne Forrest: Number Twenty-seven

Dawn Knox: Rising from the Ashes

Roz Lyn: Circle Time

Paula R C Readman: Cobalt Blues

Hannah Retallick: Bookclub for the Elderly

Theresa Sainsbury: Transforming Teenagers

Allison Symes: Books and Barbarians

This will be my third winning story, so I’m feeling pretty pleased with myself. Thank you so much, Gill James and the Bridge House Publishing team. Now I’m off to do more editing. Another busy day ahead of me.

CafeLit 9

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A publisher I write for has a site called CafeLit. The site posts a story every day from a wide range of writers. Whether that be a new writer just set out on their writing career or an established writer with writing awards under their belt. So if you’re a new or established writer looking for a place to send your work then try CafeLit

Here’s a list of writers and their story titles that have made it into the collection for publication this year.

Paula R C Readman: No Laughing matter.
Jim Bates: Sirrico peak
Hannah Retallick: Think Pink
Dawn Knox: The Stag Do
Paula Readman: Rear View Mirror
Mason Bushell: The Heart Shaped Carving In Old Oak Tree
Yasmine Lever: Papier mache dreams
Luke S: The Front Lines
Wendie Lovell: The Purple Scarf
Pauline Howard: Hot Stones
Matthew Roy Davey: The Butterfly Hook
Mark Readman: The King’s Shilling
Janet Howson: The Trial Run
Ray Daley : Two Tickets to the End of the World
Hannah Retallick: Unspoken Unheard
Dawn De Braal: Eii’s Worms
Allison Symes: Humourless
Debz Hobbs-Wyatt: Looking for Graceland
Robin Wrigley: Milly and her Iridescent Pantyhose
Mason Bushell: The Magician and The Jinn
Penny Rogers: The Saving of Banerjee
Jim Bates: Was it just my imagination?
Alex Womack: A Summer Morning in 1976
Maxine Churchman: Schadenfrende
Sally Zigmond: The Perfection of Hopelessness
Hannah Retallick: They Want
Wendy Pike: Bonzo the Dog
Allison Symes: The Green Door
Kim Martins: The Trapper’s Torment
Dawn Kentish Knox: Christmas Echoes
Jim Bates: Was it Just My Imagination?
Gill James: The Yellow Bus
Gill James: Three’s a Crowd

I made it into last year’s collection. The sad thing is this year we may miss out on meeting up for the book launch in December. It’s lovely to meet the other writers face to face over a meal and a glass of wine. Though we all belong to an online Facebook group aka The Clubhouse where we chat, it not the same as meet socially.

Last Year Collection

Learning Somethings New

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Either I’m suffering from lockdown madness or my tinnitus has learnt how to play the didgeridoo. Hopefully it’s just the musician who lives at the bottom of my garden. Maybe he’s either learning to play one or teaching his children. It sounds amazing, and quite haunting. Much better than the sound of traffic and planes.
Are you teaching yourself and your children something new during this lockdown?

Jibbernocky & Education

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I grew up in a poor household. University was a place where wealth and clever people went. Both my parents had a basic education, though my mother had learning difficulties, and could hardly write. So education has always been very important to me even though I did badly at school.

I’ve always been in awe of third world countries where their children are willing to walk miles to go to school and work in classes that are no more that a shed, or outside under trees. What’s important to them is they know education will give them freedom, freedom from poverty. When Black Hare Press gave a call out for their Books in Homes charity anthology, Jibbernocky a Lewis Carroll’ themed submission, I jumped at the chance. I really wanted to get my story into this collection for young readers aged 8 to 12.

All profits to Books in Homes (Australia and USA)
Books in Homes is a charitable foundation that provides books-of-choice to children living in remote, disadvantaged and low socio-economic circumstances, ensuring crucial early literacy engagement and the development of reading skills needed for lifelong achievement.

My story Jelly and Ice Cream is the retelling of the mad hatter’s tea party from a boy’s point of view. I was overjoyed by its selection and to find it has been illustrated by Amy Cunningham, adds to my excitement.

My novella, The Funeral Birds is doing well too. I now have 12 reviews on it. All positive so far. I discovered another new one today. Thank you, Gail It was a lovely surprise and I’m so pleased you enjoyed it.

Best wishes all and keep safe. ❤

Snapshot of Publishing in North America

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Author CaptionI’ve been curious to learn how the publishing world has been coping since the pandemic began. It doesn’t seem sufficient to say, “probably not well”, but a recent survey by the Authors Guild answered some of my questions.

Only 940 authors responded to the survey and, as you can imagine, many have seen their incomes drop, mainly by the loss of speaking/performance engagements. The drop wasn’t as high a percentage as I’d assumed it would be. In fact, about 45% of respondents said their income hadn’t changed very much.

Not surprising, although disheartening, is that 52 respondents had their book contracts and/or royalty payments delayed. Most authors with books about to be released are understandably worried about lower sales, yet just over half of them are not doing more marketing than usual. Unfortunately, the survey didn’t indicate why this is so and I’m not sure the question was even asked. You can read the full version HERE.

For my American friends, the survey also includes a link to details about economic relief for authors. It’s important to note that a number of surveyed authors couldn’t work right now because of their own health issues or the health of a family member. You can learn more about the economic relief HERE.

Here in Canada, Prime Minister Trudeau announced that he’s earmarked $500 million to assist the arts, sports, and culture sectors. To date, I’ve heard no further details on who will quality for aid or how the money will be dispersed, but you can read what little information there is HERE.

Obviously, this is by no means a complete look at the writing and publishing world, but just a quick snapshot. I wonder how many small and medium Canadian publishing houses will survive after all this is over. You see, almost all of Canadian publishers are government subsidized in some way and have been for decades. It’s the only way small and mid-sized publishers (and possibly some larger ones) in a large country with a relatively small population have survived. Even with grant money, many established publishers still operate on shoestring budgets. But the government is spending an awful lot of money these days to help out many sectors. While the grants and aid money will be there during the pandemic, what happens down the road after the federal government has depleted its rainy day fund? Will grants eventually be cut so the government can begin to replenish again? Time will tell.

On a personal note, the cancellation of four writing events I was to take part in this spring, plus a large craft fair in June that usually results in $600-$700 in print sales will definitely hurt income. Do I expect to be compensated for that? No, and I learned a long time ago not to depend on writing and marketing events as my only income stream. Still, it’s a downer not to get together with colleagues and readers and discuss books and the biz. But opportunities to get together on Zoom etc. are out there, and book marketing means finding new ways to reach readers.

Meanwhile, I figure it’s best to keep working and looking forward to a less restrictive future. I’m doing whatever writing, editing, and promo work I can from home. When the gates open and we all run out of our houses to gather together again, I plan to be ready!

Art on the Vine-5