22/3/2018

Back in the blogges-sphere then now that my latest MA submission has left the building. This one has been the hardest so far. A critical reflection/literary essay on a piece of work that has impacted my own writing. Not creative writing at all, more academic discourse, and very brain wearing to boot. This is the piece of work that I’ve found the most challenging and the most eye opening. My work under discussion was a collection of short stories called Dinosaurs on Other Planets by Danielle McLaughlin which, when I first read it in 2016, took my breath away. I’ve read and re-read it since, taken inspiration from it, borrowed techniques from it, such as telling stories in two narrative voices, and become cowed by it because its so flaming good it makes you wonder why you’re bothering…but it wasn’t until I wrote this essay that I actually ‘saw’ some of the techniques at work and really understood what was going on. I think its called deconstructing something and I would recommend it to aspiring writers. Its weird what’s hiding right under your nose until you really lean in and look.

Whist I was doing this essay, I researched McLaughlin and was very gratified to find out that she is both an instinctive writer who starts with an image or an idea and just starts writing and sees where the story takes her (like me), who then will do up to fifty drafts to sort of chip the story out of the stone until its fine and sharp and startling ( a bit like me though fifty drafts is more like 20 for me). She also has a band of writer friends who beta read for her, so she gets her disclosure just right. Researching her made me feel a writerly connection with her style and method, she too came to writing later on in life so I take great inspiration from her as a role model.

Very weirdly, when I was doing my research (which felt a bit like online stalking), I looked at her webpage and twitter profile etc., and I found another connection between us. In 2011, she was a prize winner in the  InkTears Short Story Competition where she got Highly commended. Just as I was doing all this research I won the very same award.

I’m so proper pleased with this, and my story, A Walk in the Park will be published by them in summer. Here’s the link to the announcement. http://www.inktears.com/contests-i/#winners-ss

 

 

1/3/2018

Ah the first day of the month in which spring shall, well…spring…and I’m at home due to a snow day. The ring village where I live is sheet ice and the temperature outside is -4 which is actually two degrees warmer than yesterday…and I am so not complaining. This simply all goes to reinforce my theory that The Open University is the best place to study when you live in the middle of nowhere. Here is the pastoral idyll beyond the confines of my writing shed and my stove on full draw, and me with my happy face on, in my warmest dressing gown just about to start serious full-on research for my Tutor Marked Assessment 3, re-reading the amazing Dinosaurs on Other Planets, by Danielle McLaughlin. On-line study is so the new going to lectures. Its the way forward.

24/2/2018

Much has happened on the writing front since I last blogged, vis a vis:

I’ve got a wee story up in issue 5 of the brilliant Cabinet of Heed E-zine. Here’s the link https://cabinetofheed.wordpress.com/2018/02/13/exorcisms-jan-kaneen/ Just love the illustration and I’ve had some fab feedback about the story via Twitter.

I did the Kathy Fish Fast Flash course which was wonderful and soooo productive. You write a flash everyday in the company of twelve brilliant writers from all over the world and feedback on each other’s writing. Its a mega positive space and Kathy feeds back on everything you post. She is such a positive energy source that’s its impossible not to pour stories out. You do ten exercises and each results in a first draft. The pointers and exercises are designed to get your ideas flowing and they really, really do.

I got a distinction for tutor marked assessment 3, edited it after brill feedback from Kath (my totally excellent OU tutor not Kathy Fish) and submitted it off to two venues, one suggested by Kath. Will report back if it gets accepted in either place.

I was longlisted then short listed at Ink Tears Short story competition – here’s the link to the listing, which I’m so pleased about.

http://www.inktears.com/news-b/2018/2/22/shortlist-for-inktears-short-story-contest

The results are out next Friday.

I’ve submitted a story to the National Flash Fiction Anthology this year, something I’ve not done before and I’ve also entered the 100 word National Flash Fiction Day CoWIN_20180127_20_54_24_Prompetition, which again I’ve not done before so it’ll be interesting to see how I do. I’ve also booked myself to attend the Flash Festival again which will be in July 2018. It was soooo good last year I’m keen to do it all over again  And finally….here’s a pic of me with my monster mug which I won last month for writing a horrible story inspired by the twelve days of Christmas. I have to say its makes tea, coffee, hot chocolate, gin, all taste wonderful.

 

 

 

26/01/2018

I’m meant to be writing the references list for my Tutor Marked Assessment – a task I find in the same irksomeness continuum as cleaning the toilet, taking the wheelie bins out or pigging out the car after the teenagers have been hogging Macdonald’s in the back, thus I am here blogging by way of avoidance. Last night I went out with my friend Carol for outing number one of her 50th birthday celebrations. She’s planning to really break the arse out of celebrating this august event by doing something different every month for a year. Proceedings kicked off yesterday by six of us going into Cambridge to do a role-play adventure game where we had to cypher our way out of a crumbling pyramid. It carolsbirthdaywas quite good. Here’s a pic of us after we’d escaped but before we went to the pub. Later, at the pizza place, we  planned what to do next i.e. a trip up the Shard in London. It occurred to me that this would be a great theme for a collection of flash fictions. So when I’ve finally finished referencing and eventually submitted my TMA02, I’m going to start on that. Writing-wise, since I last blogged, I won Horror Scribes Flash fiction 12 Days of Christmas Comp. Here’s the link to my winning flash https://horrorscribes.com/2018/01/05/the-twelfth-day-of-christmas-and-overall-winner/#more-1157

and here’s a pic of my story on a mug which I’m dead chuffed with.horrorscribes It only came yesterday so I haven’t yet had a brew in it. Will get grumpy husband to take a photo of me tomorrow having tea and biccies then I can put it on my next post. What could be better than flash fiction and a brew? Right better press on for this is buttering no parsnips nor referencing no influences. Oh yes one last thing. Next week I’m doing Fast Flash with Kathy Fish. Will blog anon. Soooooo excited.

 

4/1/2018

roadsariverAs its been 2018 for four days, and as this is the view from my liminal front door, I thought I’d better post a blog to commemorate the occasion. The road is often a river as I live on the Cambridgeshire flood plain, but I never worry because my 400 year old cottage has flooded only once according to local tradition and that was in the big flood of 1947. Even then we came off least wet as we sit quite high on an ancient bank. The nearest it ever came to coming in, in my time, was in 2004 when it lapped the edge of the top tarmac path. I almost bought sandbags that year. Anyway, back to more mundane ramblings. I was sick over the festive season and mostly chucked up when the family festivities were underway in my kitchen. Never-the-less, I got to see the family and some friends which was lovely. To link clumsily to the image above, I find myself in a liminal headspace at the moment. Its my birthday next week and though I’m proper fed up with eating and drinking (despite the norovirus incident) I know that I’ll have to give it another fling when the birthday comes along. We’re planning a trip to a local carvery which is more for the family than me as I’m veggie. Anyway, the prospect of yet another blow-out hovering on the horizon, has me Hoovering up (by which I mean eating) leftover dark chocolate brazils and sad unwanted edible tree decorations and the like because there’s no point in starting the inevitable January diet until the carvery’s done and dusted. I know, lazy self-indulgent, contradictory thinking, but at least I’m making myself walk/swim off the hogged choccies.

Writing-wise, I’m on a threshold too. I am so excited I could barely withhold the revelation to here but..flashfestival.drumroll/big tah dah, I’ve booked myself on Kathy Fish’s Fast Flash on-line course. (Its my birthday present from grumpy husband and starts on the 22nd Jan.) Will blog about it in the fullness of time. I am so excitied. I just love her work and several of the on-line flash fictionistas have recommended it in such glowing terms, I just had to. Also I’ve been very lazy with flash fiction since I started my MA and it will get me kick-started for the year to come. I’m currently writing Tutor Marked Assessment 2 (only a working title) for my course, which is in the workshop for peer feedback until 10th January, so a wee bit liminal re that too at the moment.

One thing that’s not borderline or in any way marginal, is the Flash Fiction Festival Anthology pictured above on top of one of the fireplaces, (where is matches the décor.) I’ve read it now and it is so very good. The contributors read like a who’s who of the flash fiction world (even despite my inclusion.) I feel very blessed to be included amongst writer who I so admire.

I was going to finish with some aims and objective for the coming year, but quite frankly such unexpected stuff occurred last year that I think I’ll just hold on tight and hope for the best. Happy New Year peeps of the bloggis-sphere, hope its not going to be too much of a rocky ride, or that if it is, I hope its good rocky, not pants rocky.

27/12/2017

Sitting in my hotel room at 10.24am in Bolton, waiting for the boys to get ready for checking out at eleven, then off to dad’s for breakfast, then the long drive home. Thought I’d take these free fifteen minutes to blog as I haven’t done so in such a long time.

We had the traditional Boxing Day family gathering last night and it was lovely to see my brothers and sister; aunties and uncles, nephews and nieces. Grumpy husband phoned earlier to say that its snowing at home and I saw on the news that the A14 is shut due to lorries stuck in the snow. He reckons it will be better to set off later rather than earlier so we’re going to go to dads for brekkie and a weather check.

Writing wise I’ve not done any submissions as I’ve been studying hard and doing my Tutor Marked Assessments (TMAs) for my Master’s course. I had my best ever mark for TMA01 which I was really pleased with. It was for a short story written ‘in flash’ i.e. four resolved flashes linked by subject matter into a ‘bigger’ narrative arc that tells a more global story. Its about migraine, on one level and self-delusion on another. My tutor also gave me really helpful feedback for a final edit, which I’ll do when TMA02 is done dusted and submitted on 23rd January.

Started my teaching at the Community Education Centre in St Ives, just after my last blog, and iIMG_1491t went really well. I got five star feedback and one of my learners had a story published at Ad Hoc fiction which was totally brilliant. I get a new set of learners in the third week of January and so it starts all over again.

Here’s the cover of Ellipses ‘One’ in which I had a wee tale. There really are some wonderful stories in here and I felt so proud to be amongst some of my  favourite writers of tiny tales.. Right better go and check out.

29/10/2017

Life struck again then, as it has a habit of doing. It started when Grumpy Husband had to go to Toronto for work. On his return, he was taken seriously ill, though he had been unwell for weeks before he went – with a virus that had floored him and a tooth infection that he needed two lots of antibiotics to get rid of.

After his flight home, he walked through the front door,  looking terrible and tired, went to bed with suspected jetlag and slept for a couple of hours. By the time I got back home, in the evening, he was struggling to breathe, a struggle that worsened through the night.

He dozed on and off taking my Ventolin almost hourly to get through, and called the doctor at eight a.m.  (as soon as possible). An appointment was made for ten which he attended by car. The doc sent him straight to the hossie with a suspected pulmonary embolism. They admitted him though he tried to discharge himself, then after  days of tests,  treatments, fall-outs with consultants (husband was still grumpy despite brush with death and first consultant was an imperious dolt) he was diagnosed with heart failure and pneumonia and he may or may not have had a pulmonary embolism.

As luck would have it, all this happened at half term and so was easy to manage logistically and lovely step daughter came to stay. He’s home now but things will be different from now on as we will have to learn a new ‘normal’  geared to make husband more healthy because his heart will never go back to what it was.

Have decided to make this an opportunity not a threat and have removed all his cigars and packets of full fat butter. He was fortunate to be given a chance to change I reckon, some people have a massive heart attack with no forewarning. At least we have been warned. Its back to school tomorrow and I think we’re good to go brave new world wise, and a whole new chapter is about to unfold.

Studying wise I’m two weeks behind and am likely to lag another week as hubby cannot drive for several weeks as part of his rehabilitation. Have organised an extension for my next project though so am hoping that will be okay.

Since I last wrote I’ve had a piece of CNF published in Salome Magazine (cover below) under the pseudonym Jane Kermode. It was a TMA from last year and I’m glad its found such a wIssue+3+Cover_Final_150dpionderful home. (Salome is my new fave litzine). Here’s the link  https://www.salomelit.com/salom-issue-3-october/ but you have to pay for a subscription or a single issue – you can’t read it for free. They’re dead good and pay writers fifty quid a pop.

I’ve also got a story in ‘One’ an anthology from Ellipsis Litzine – here’s the link http://www.ellipsiszine.com/one/ which again is not free. I’ll post a copy of the cover when the complimentary issue comes. Can’t wait to read it!

I’ve also got a story in the Flash Festival Anthology which will be ready in time for Chrimbo and I’ve got two teeny tales on the longlist for Ink Tear’s Annual Flash Fiction Competition. Here the link to them –  http://www.inktears.com/news-b/2017/10/25/longlist-for-flash-fiction-contest-2017

That’s about it. Off to take George to work now and make a very healthy dinner.