From Me To You – Love Sunday

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My short story From Me To You has been published today in Love Sunday magazine (comes with The Sunday People) and I am overjoyed!

It is set in the present day, and in the sixties, and has a musical theme (no surprise there). The theme is GRATITUDE which is very suitable for Mother’s Day.

The story began life as just the sixties section but after a couple of rejections and useful feedback, I decided to add the section in the present day, to give the story more purpose.

Hope you enjoy!

No blog on my website is complete without a plug for my novels, so here goes:

Make a Joyful Noise A musical romantic comedy

The Funny Business of Life  Mozart, Messiah and Murder

Oh, and there’s a Pocket Novel out now, The People’s Friend number 883, full of romance, humour, mystery and music…just in case you’re interested!

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‘Pardon My French’ – how it was published.

I am thrilled my story ‘Pardon My French’ has been published today in Love Sunday (the magazine that comes with The Sunday People). Thank you Love Sunday magazine!

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Quite a few people have asked me how this has come about, so I thought I would share the story’s journey.

It started life as a 2,000 word story, sent to The People’s Friend. They said this:

“Many thanks for letting us see your short story… I’m afraid we’re going to pass on it at this time as overall we felt it was just too over the top.”

Anyone who has worked with The PF before will know that their feedback in invaluable; most magazines don’t have the time (or inclination!) to give feedback, but PF is really keen to encourage and help writers. So, another thank you, this time to The People’s Friend, for making me think and for being so polite.

Pardon My French went off to Woman’s Weekly next, after indenting some paragraphs (PF prefer no formatting, Woman’s Weekly like some paragraphs). They said this:

“We enjoyed reading it, though I’m afraid we won’t be proceeding with a commission on this occasion.”

More useful feedback – they enjoyed reading it. Thank you Woman’s Weekly!

While I was trying to find another market for the story, which was tricky because so many magazines are closed to unsolicited submissions and prefer to work with writers all ready known to them (how do they expect anyone to get started?), I read an article on the fabulous Womag website. For those of you who don’t know, Patsy Collins runs the Womagwriter’s Blog, and it is an absolute mine of useful information about everything to do with Women’s magazines and a great place to hang out if you need cheering up after a rejection. Thank you Patsy!

The article that caught my attention was this:

Sharon Boothroyd on ‘Love Sunday’

Thank you, Sharon! Through you I discovered a new market for short stories and thought I would give it a go.

I cut down Pardon My French to 1,500 words and tweaked it a bit, then sent it off to Flavia Bertolini at Love Sunday (see Sharon’s article for all the details). Flavia acknowledged receipt by email the very next day, then accepted the story the next week. It was published eleven weeks later, that’s today. Thank you Flavia!

I am delighted with the illustration chosen and over-the-moon that Love Sunday put a line about my People’s Friend Pocket Novel at the end of the story (did I mention the lovely PF are publishing my novel as PF Pocket Novel Number 883 on 21st March 2019?).

I have compared the story I sent to Love Sunday with the one printed today and learnt a couple of things for next time which I am happy to share:

Love Sunday like single quotation marks.

Love Sunday use less semi-colons than I do (most people use less semi-colons than I do). They prefer the dash.

To end up, I thought I would take the chance to shamelessly promote my own two self-published novels, Make a Joyful Noise and The Funny Business of Life, because if you can’t do that on your own blog, where can you do it? Both the novels are half-price (99p) to download for your kindle at the moment; they are also available in paperback. I can guarantee they are quite ‘over the top’ but hopefully not too much and only in a good way!

My Amazon Author Profile

From Slugs to Frizzy Hair: Edward Burne-Jones at Tate Britain

I knew my visit to the Burne-Jones exhibition was going to be fun when I was greeted by two giant festive slugs, complete with sparkly cables of lights, on our arrival at the Tate. It was a totally unexpected sight! Here is one of the magnificent gastropods:

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The drawings and paintings were as beautiful as ever and I wished, not for the first time, that it was still fashionable to have wild hair, hair that does its own thing, even, dare I say it, frizzy hair? These beauties hadn’t spent their time straightening their locks or taming their tresses with Frizz-Ease. They could just be themselves. Sigh.

Though for sheer volume, for really wild hair, I refer you to this picture, ‘The Bridesmaid’, by John Everett Millais:

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Or maybe this one, ‘The Lady Of Shalott’, by Holman Hunt:

The Lady of Shalott, c.1886-1905 (oil on panel) (see also 495754)

 

All this has reminded me of one of my stories: ‘The Woman with the Funny Hair’ from Miss Peach’s Dream.

Here it is:

What was I doing, head back, screaming at full throttle, clinging to a total stranger on the Dragon Ride at Legoland?

The day had started peacefully enough.
“Mum! Where’s my school jumper?”
“Mum! Tina’s pinched my tights again.”
“Mum! Have you ordered that stuff from the internet yet? I need it for tomorrow…”
“Jane! Where’s my tie? Keys?”
“Hang on,” I bleated. “Listen! Isn’t that the phone?”
“Hello, Jane? It’s me. Are you coming to visit today? Why not? You know they’re not looking after me properly, don’t you? I can’t think why you dumped me in this home… and ‘home’ is too good a word for it, why, the tales I could tell you about what goes on in this place, they’d make your hair curl…”
“Sorry Mum, sorry everyone,” I whimpered. “I’ll sort it, I promise. Whatever it is you all want, I’ll do it. Yes, Tina, yes, today, of course, I won’t forget.”
I had just five blissful minutes to myself once they had all left – time to slap on some anti-ageing serum. My God! I averted my eyes from the mirror quickly. When would this stuff begin to take action? And it’s costing me a small fortune, I thought guiltily. I ran my fingers through still damp hair to give a bit of root lift. Should I use that conditioning spray I had bought? Where was it anyway?

I managed to get to work looking vaguely respectable, although the house was a bomb site.
“Hi Miss!” called Darren cheerfully as I passed him in the corridor.
“Hello Darren,” I whispered. I had noticed a couple of mothers waiting for me by the coat hooks outside my classroom and so quickly pressed myself against the wall, beside a cupboard, hoping they would give up and drift out to the playground.
“She’s late again, I expect.”
“But I really need to speak to her – Jacintha wasn’t happy in class yesterday – bless her, she’s such a special child.”
“Everyone’s unique, no one’s special,” I muttered from my hiding place.
“There you are Mrs Worm,” boomed the Headmistress. “I need you to go on the trip today with Miss Kirby and Mr Grip – we need a mature member of staff present – so I’ve covered your class for the day to make you free.”
“Thank you,” I gulped, “I think.”

Once on the coach, I soon fell asleep. I was on holiday in the south of France with George Clooney, I was sailing across an azure sea, fluted champagne glass in one hand, my eyes sparkling attractively with the merest hint of intriguing laughter lines…
“Miss! Miss Worm! Me and Daisy have eaten our packed lunches and now we don’t feel so good…”
“Could you stop the coach?” I begged the driver.
“Not on the motorway, no,” he barked. “Deal with it.”

The day passed in a blur of queuing – for entry, for toilet stops, for rides and for snacks. We worked our way across the park until we arrived in front of the Dragon Roller Coaster, next to the Castle.
“No,” I said firmly to the row of imploring faces in front of me. “You’re too small to go on this. Well, some of you are, so it wouldn’t be right for anyone to go on it.”
“Not fair,” sulked Darren. “Never get to do what we want.”
“I wanna go on the Dragon Ride,” whined Daisy. “Why can’t I?”
“Not fair, not fair,” chorused the children. “Dra-gon Ride, Dra-gon Ride, not fair, not fair…”

Then suddenly, unexpectedly, something in me exploded and I turned, turned to face the children and staff.
“You don’t get to do what you want? You don’t? What about me? When does anyone even ask what I want? Maybe I want to go on the Dragon Ride. Have you ever thought of that? Maybe I will go on the Dragon Ride!”
With a hysterical cackle, I ran to the tunnel where the last passengers were getting into green plastic carriages, pushed a couple of startled people aside and leapt onto the train.
I had the time of my life, shrieking and wailing with the best of them, chugging up the narrow rail and plunging down, down to the depths, all with twenty five beady-eyed children and a couple of bemused colleagues amongst the audience. It was only when the ride stopped I realised I was attached like a barnacle to the man next to me in the carriage.
“You’ve made a bit of a show of yourself, haven’t you?” said the man’s girlfriend sitting opposite. “Put him down now. He’s spoken for.”
“Don’t know why you care,” I replied loftily. “He’s not exactly George Clooney, is he?”
With that, I jumped out of the carriage pretty smartly and fled. It was a shame I had to slink back a few minutes later to retrieve my bag.
“That’s her, the lady with the funny hair!” shouted a little girl to her mother.
“It’s rude to point – don’t they teach you manners?” I retorted, fleeing the scene for a second time.

On the way home, Miss Kirby gave me a picture from the photo booth next to the ride; it showed a red-faced woman, frizzy hair streaming in the wind and eyes mad with fear, reaching out to a man who was shrinking away in obvious terror.
“Mr Grip and I bought this for you,” she explained. “It’s already on the internet, along with a few other action shots.”
I glanced behind me and saw that every child on the coach was bent over a mobile phone.
“What made you do it?” asked Miss Kirby. “It was so out of character.”
“No idea,” I laughed, looking proudly at the picture, “but it was fantastic, fabulous fun!”

 

miss peach's dream

 

Miss Peach’s Dream is available from all Amazon sites.

Rain by Barney Campbell – book review written on Remembrance Day.

I have recently finished reading this beautifully written novel by Barney Campbell. There is much technical information to absorb about the life of a young soldier on active duty in Afghanistan, but this is cleverly woven into a heartfelt story that sweeps the reader along. By turns savage and tender, this is a truly uplifting read that will live on in your mind.

Review written on 11.11.2018

My review of Lynne Shelby’s fabulous new book ‘The One That I Want’

Lynne Shelby has given us a glamorous, fun and compulsive read in her fabulous ‘The One That I Want’. I was rooting for the heroine Lucy all the way through and enjoyed every twist and turn of the plot, hoping she would be able to choose the right man.
I thoroughly recommend this fresh, sparkling book – it’s the one that you want!

The One That I Want by [Shelby, Lynne]

‘A Day Out In London’ by Jenny Worstall #ThePeoplesFriend

My story ‘A Day Out In London’ appears today in ‘The People’s Friend’. It was inspired by the wartime experience of my grandfather as a doctor during the Birmingham air raids.

The picture below shows my grandfather (left) with his wife and father after receiving the George Medal.

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I have changed some names and details for the story and relied heavily on my imagination to fill in the blanks but the bit about my grandfather helping someone who had fainted after having the pin of his medal stuck in him by the King is true, according to a very reliable source, my mother; I owe her a great debt of gratitude for answering my endless questions about her father and about the War, furnishing me with material for this story and many others.

I am thrilled that ‘The People’s Friend’ chose this story, which is very close to my heart, for their 11th November Remembrance edition of the magazine.

Review of Silent Night (a Christmas Story Collection) by Wendy Clarke #RBRT #TuesdayBookBlog

Silent Night: A Christmas Story Collection by [Clarke, Wendy]

 

 

Reviewed by me as a member of Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team.
I have long been an admirer of Wendy Clarke’s short stories; she writes with great delicacy about the deep emotional truths found at the heart of seemingly everyday lives.
Christmas is a time of heightened emotion and this collection explores themes of loneliness, loss and love, all with the constant thread of the real meaning of Christmas running through.
In ‘Finding Santa’ we sympathise with a family stranded at Gatwick Airport as the festive season starts and in ‘All I Want for Christmas’ we feel for the new step-father desperately searching the shops for the elusive must-have-toy late on Christmas Eve.
The most original story of the collection in my opinion is ‘Silent Night’, but my favourite is ‘Christmas Strike’, for its humour and for the tenderness of its resolution.
So, enjoy this wonderful collection, with a mince pie and a cup of tea at your elbow!
WARNING: keep a tissue at the ready too, as Wendy Clarke really knows how to pull at the heart-strings.

 

Link to Silent Night on Amazon UK