There can be no more despicable crime than the abuse and neglect of a child. The NSPCC performs a vital service in our society and, like many other charities is perenially in need of funds. Your fellow Cloudies have answered Vanessa Wester's call to rally round and have written a number of children's stories which have just been published in the anthology, 'Reading is Magic'. All the proceeds from the sales will go to the NSPCC.
I would humbly ask you to plunge your hands into your pockets and, discarding the fluff, buttons, fag-butts and bits of cheese, stump up a few pounds to purchase it. One can only imagine the value this superb work will accrue in the future. A real investment!
Available in both e-form and hardcopy at the following Amazon link.
Note: I shall be immensely boring and bang on about this until every one of the 8000-odd Cloudies have bought at least one copy. A HUGE thank you!
Over the last six months I’ve been pushing myself to be more out there with my writing. To let it stand or fail on its own merits and learn from the good and the bad (and possibly even the ugly.) At this point my good friend Woolleybeans deserves an honorable mention; without my writing buddy I very much doubt I’d have got this far in six months or even ten years.
Writing over such a long period of time as I have means that you build up a fair sized back catalogue of work. Some of mine will never see the light of day. It’s kept to remind me of how far I’ve come. But what was I going to do with the rest of it? Let it sit on the hard drive forever? It came to a head two weeks ago. I was feeling anxious (and excited, but particularly anxious) as I was due to start Debi and Emma’s self editing course. How exactly was I going to lay out pieces of my novel which only I and WB had ever seen, when I’d never tried laying anything I’d written before a larger adult audience?
In equal parts panic and fatalistic glee I selected a bunch of short stories from my back catalogue and polished them up before sending them off for consideration by a selection of sci-fi and fantasy anthologies. I had a few gulpy, can’t breathe moments afterwards and then I felt better. It was done. No calling it back. The hurdle, which I’d turned into a mountain range in my mind, was leaped. I’d crossed my Rubicon. I then did my best to forget all about it other than the fact that I thought I might now be able to approach the self edit course with a bit more composure.
Four days after I had sent the batch out I received two 'yeses'. I was in shock. Heart pounding, that- can’t- be- what- the- letter says type shock. Of course there was excitement too. The standard issue happy dance of good news was enacted. But below it was the thought ‘oh hell, now loads of people will potentially be able to read it.’ I decided to man up. I’d been in brace position for rejection. It was ridiculous to be worried about success, especially such a small victory.
The following day (five days after sending the batch out) I received another letter. This essentially said yes, subject to final approval by the chief editor. They’d let me know in two weeks. I was starting to feel a bit winded. It’s nowhere near the success that other Cloudies have enjoyed. CJ’s news recently was a highlight for everyone I think. But I could understand why she might feel a bit daunted. I did and it was only three short stories.
So when I received my first rejection I was actually pleased. No. Not because I secretly don’t want to succeed. Or because as a control freak the world was now behaving normally so I could relax. It was because my first rejection wasn’t a template letter but a kindly worded personal note saying how much the editor had enjoyed reading my story and that while it wasn’t quite what they were looking for this time, they would like to see more of my work in future. The second rejection was very similar in content to the first – another personal note.
Am I insane to find it really reassuring that I was rejected in this way? That even though I hadn’t made the cut because the stories weren’t what they wanted for those anthologies, nevertheless they had been read with apparent enjoyment, then the editors had taken the trouble to write this and that they hoped I’d submit more in the future?
Throwing it open, especially to those with more experience with this sort of thing, have I completely misread this? Is it wrong to find this to be so positive? Perhaps I wouldn’t have if the rejection hadn’t already been ameliorated with a greater amount of success. I honestly don’t know. I do think I still would have found it encouraging that I didn’t receive a generalized rejection. So I’m feeling pretty good about the whole debacle. Yes I hope for more successes but ultimately the important thing is that I won’t feel so anxious about sharing my work in future. The worst thing that can happen is that it won’t be up to scratch. That’s something I can work with.
Some years ago, I was chatting with a colleague who’d had over a month off work. I knew she’d been in hospital and didn’t think she’d mind me asking why. She pointed to her not-insignificant sized breasts, for one so small, and smiled. “These little buggers,” she said. “Wouldn’t have bothered if I’d known I’d get Pleurisy and nearly die but,” - her glass was always half full - “at least they managed to save them, cost me five grand.”
It upset me that this gutsy lady had spent all her savings, and some more, on a ‘boob job’. It wasn’t on a personal level; I have no interest in what people do and don’t do with their own money. But, as a society, I wondered how we’d managed to become a country where this was so important?
Then I read that the most requested birthday present for American 18 year olds that year had been breast augmentation and my story, A Change of Mind, was the result.
I stashed the story away, it was only ever something I wanted to, ahem, get off my chest, but when I was skulking around my old directories recently, searching for inspiration, I decided to dust it off and enter it in a competition. It was a very little competition and the story won. Great!
I'm embarrassed that it won because, after taking part in the Cloud's very own Self-Editing Course and then casting another eye over it, I realised it was screaming out for a 500 word cut and polish. 'Tale' between my legs (sorry, I couldn't resist) I set to work and then I submitted it to Chase Magazine. It's in this month's issue, I'm delighted to say, and if you have a moment and the inclination, I'd love you to take a look: http://edition.pagesuite-professional.co.uk/Launch.aspx?pbid=29a86ab5-22b2-4522-89b0-acbcbc92b87e
And to Debi, Emma and my wonderful fellow course participants, thank you, in my imaginary acknowledgements, you’re right there at the top.
I found it really hard! But I have been writing to themes for some competitions I have been entering and didn't struggle at all with them. So perhaps it's just the animal element that's thrown me. What do you think?
This is the shoddy piece I came up with...
Max finds the only way to keep warm now the weather has turned is to walk. He often wonders if he should go down south. He’s heard that it’s a different world down there – soft rolling hills, sunshine and exotic foods. But he’s never left the town that he’s from. Besides, the cold didn’t bother him when he had a lovely cosy house to live in. His lady friend hadn’t seemed to mind his unworldly ways either. She wasn’t exactly cosmopolitan herself and had given him the same food every day. He was positive it wasn’t exotic. He’d told her he didn’t like it but she’d carried on giving it to him anyway.
Then one day she stopped giving him any food. She stopped moving and talking too. Just stayed in her chair by the fire. Max didn’t like the smell that started coming off of her. After a while he got hungry and wandered off to find something to eat. He went back later to see if she’d got up but, no, she was in the same place. The smell had got worse too, so he left again.Ever since then he’s been wandering. Eating out of bins, catching some food if he’s lucky, but he’s a bit old and slow for that now. He’s been trying to make friends with another lady - turning on his best purring charm, rubbing against her legs. But so far she’s just stroked him and said hello. He’s beginning to think that she’ll never invite him in.
It definitely wouldn't impress any judges. Especially going by the insights from, Isabel Costello, who's been back on the blog talking about what it was like to judge the April competition. Probably of particular interest to you Cloudies who were on the shortlist and had your stories read by her.
If it feels this good that just a chapter is appearing, I can't imagine how it will feel if the whole thing gets published one day. Pretty mindblowing I should imagine.
So what with finally mastering the art of the short story last week (find out more about that here) and the proofs arriving this week, I'm finding it very hard to get on with the day job. So hard in fact that I have to write six articles this afternoon as I have been just getting on with my fiction writing for the past two days instead. But I have a deadline, so I better crack on if I'm going to meet it. But I just wanted to say...I'm so excited!!!!
Cook & Write Retreat - 6 nights from 8th November to 14th November
A retreat featuring workshops and cooking sessions with writing prompts to help you think about using food in your writing, lots of writing time and opportunities to get ideas and inspiration from other writers.
The lovely Debi Alper will be running a workshop at this
retreat, which will take place at the secluded and
beautiful Voley Farm in Exmoor National Park. As well as
holding a workshop on Psychic Distance, Debi will be staying for
the whole retreat and holding daily 1-1 sessions for writers to
have their work reviewed.
Cathie Hartigan of Creative Writing Matters will also be running a workshop but you will get plenty of time do your own thing as well.
Voley Farm has three holiday cottages set withing 45 acres of
farmland and ancient woodland and the retreat will fill them all.
There is also communal space to get together for workshops and
Find out more here. Hope to see some Cloudies there!
Congratulations to the winners!
I hope you're all feeling inspired by the Cloudies' continued success and thinking of entering your own stories into the competition. The next deadline is June 30th on the theme of a pet. You can find out what the judge, best-selling author, Jane Rusbridge, is looking for here.
I do believe there might be some Cloudies on it again...
Winners will be annouced by the end of May and entries are open for the June comp, which will be judged by author Jane Rusbridge on the theme of 'A Pet'.
Loving all the entries and if you didn't get shortlisted this time then please try again next!
Well, I'm now posting to say that if you are going to submit, please do it sooner rather than later! I am apparently the only author who's submitted anything to date, and the collection is unlikely to go ahead if we can't rustle up a few more stories!
I know there are some very good writers for children out there - I've seen your work - so please, if you can, make sure any stories reach either Vanessa through the short stories group blogspot, or message me on the cloud so you can forward it to me, before 17th May.
Your story has been accepted into the Blood & Roses anthology. Congratulations!"
Some Cloudies helped me knock the story, called 'Magdalene', into shape - so thank you, Squidge, Minx, Ele, Wrath and Kate for all your help! It was a long time ago now (to be honest, I took their silence as a rejection and had moved on), but there you go! So that's two now!
The story will eventually be published in an Anthology called Blood and Roses, published by Scarlett River Press.
So happy! Am feeling the first story was less of a fluke and that I *might* be able to do this writing thingy after all...