Friday, 20 October 2017

Celebrating the small things again

Today I'm celebrating the end of my pastels course. Not because I'm glad it's over: just the contrary. I'm celebrating that I managed to stick with it and produce something reasonable. I'm planning to keep going at home and try to refine my skills.

Seeking inspiration
The other thing I'm celebrating is learning a new way of working. The choreographer we've been working with at the dance-theatre group sessions has introduced us to the idea of moving, then writing, then moving again. To explain: we visited a disused church, which we explored in our own time and plotted a route around, connecting elements that struck a  chord. Later, we re-created our route in the school hall where we rehearse. Next we had to write down a list of words that came to mind when we followed that route, then we took some of those key words and turned them back into movement. Honestly: I've never felt such a luvvie!

My task for the weekend is to review the proofs for Nine Lives. What are you up to? I'd love to hear from you.

If you would like to join this bloghop, send your details to  and she will do the necessary.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Small isn't always beautiful

The first of two workshops I went to on Saturday as part of Birmingham Lit Fest was hosted by Mslexia's editor Debbie Taylor, who I'm afraid didn't make a very good impression on me. She wanted to postpone the start in case anyone arrived late (a suggestion that was firmly quashed by the organisers!); she had rushed to get there and told us she hadn't had time to read through her notes: and when she did start talking she realised she was using the wrong notes! And she didn't know how long the session was supposed to last. Most unprofessional, I thought.

Anyway, the theme was: Meet the editors - specifically, the brains behind a selection of small press publishers. The panel comprised:
What was clear was that running a small press is a labour of love. All the speakers were keen to point out that they don't make any money. In particular, Carlotta said that despite not taking any advertising and not charging for the online edition, she still pays her contributors. OK, only a fiver a time, but still. That's just crazy!

Nor should you think that you stand a better chance of being accepted by a small publisher. Each was oversubscribed, whether operating a submissions window or an open-door policy.

Certainly the books on show were lovely, but I came away thinking that if you can't get a deal with a mainstream publisher, why not simply self-publish?

Does anyone have any experience of these or other small press publishers?

Friday, 13 October 2017

Celebrations for Friday The Thirteenth

Actually, I'm not superstitious about the date. It's just another day, (she says with her fingers crossed).

After the flurry of booty last week there have been no prizes or surprises this week. I've worked hard to clear the decks, though, because tomorrow I'm off to Birmingham Literature Festival for a couple of workshops in the Library.

Coming soon!
One of the main jobs today has been to deliver a manuscript to the printers. After a lot of to-ing and fro-ing and coming painfully close to getting a short story collection accepted by a conventional publisher, I have decided to go it alone. You can be sure I'll let you know when it's available.

Right, that's it. I'm off for an evening of mindless TV. Have a good weekend, folks.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

This should have been posted on Friday...

... but time got away from me. I've had several reasons to celebrate in the last week or so. First off, it was number two son's birthday, which we celebrated with champagne and apple crumble. Odd, do you think?

I am Star Letter in the November issue of Writing Magazine, for which I am to receive a copy of the WAYB, which is definitely worth having.

I was highly commended in the Birmingham Lit Fest flash fiction comp, for which I receive nothing, but my story will be online in due course. I'm going to the festival on Saturday, as it happens.

Most astonishing of all, those of you who have been following my staggering steps as a fledgling artist will be as surprised as I was to learn that my Pollock piece (details here) was judged to be the best in the exhibition. I know! I went along to the Rooftop Gallery on Thursday for tea and cake, where I was given a potted rose and a certificate. I'm that chuffed!

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Distance lends enchantment to the view - sometimes

Talent takes time to develop
At art class yesterday, we were pondering about meaning in pictures and whether the artist had in mind all those subtleties that we pick up on. Was he really thinking about eternity, say, or did he just want to paint a nice view? Was the symbolism intentional or is it just our interpretation, based on learned responses? What does it all mean, if anything?

We wondered if any of the greats ever looked at their old sketchbooks and thought, 'Wow, I really couldn't draw hands back then!' Or at some of their finished works and couldn't remember what inspired them, or why they'd felt so gloomy that day.

I've been looking over some of the stories and articles I've written over the years with the idea of reusing them in a couple of books and other projects. Some have stood the test of time and will need little attention. Others have made me think, 'That's better than I remember it.' Others still, 'What was I thinking!'

Growing up isn't about getting older, it's about learning and developing.

Friday, 29 September 2017

Celebrating the small things: goodbye, September

Despite the dire warnings from the weatherman, today has been a lovely autumn day with light winds and bright sunshine - what you'd call a 'good drying day' if you were a proper housewife.

It has been an uneventful week. It's always worth acknowledging it when nothing has gone wrong! I ventured back to a dance fitness class on Monday for the first time in many, many weeks. Same teacher, but a new venue and a new style. Goodbye, Zumba: hello, SOSA! Have you come across this? It loosely means solo samba, but I'd describe it more as Zumba Lite. It's got all the lovely Latin beats, but it's low impact. To be honest, it was a bit tame, but it no doubt did me more good than sitting on the settee.

I went for a routine midlife MOT with the practice nurse this morning, where I was pleased to learn  that my BMI, waist measurement and blood pressure are spot on. I might celebrate this evening with a glass of wine, which I'm sure is beneficial to my wellbeing.

As always, I'd love it if you could leave me a comment. Have a great weekend, folks.

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

We can't be good at everything - or can we?

Today, I posted on Facebook:

Well, I've just had my second art class and can say with confidence that I can't draw roses. On the plus side, though, the teacher has put me in charge of the tea and coffee, so I shall have to go back next week.

I was immediately chastised by my artist friend Lorraine for saying can't, to which I replied that what I should have said was that I haven't managed to draw one yet. I've also had some supportive comments about hanging on in there, and I shall stick it out - it's only a five-week course - but it's a real challenge. You know that place in the distance, that place so far away you can hardly see it? Well, just beyond that is my comfort zone.

Why do I put myself through these things? Because I can, that's why. Because unless I try, I'll never know. Do think my timid eight-year-old self struggling to play 'Home Sweet Home' on the piano would have thought it possible that she'd one day play Chopin's 'Raindrop Prelude', with its five-flats key signature? Hell, no! And yet, eventually, she did - and still can.

Theodore Roosevelt said, 'It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed.' I'm still not going to post a picture of my rose, though! These are Van Gogh's - but I bet he couldn't play in D-flat.

Pic: National Gallery of Art, Washington