Friday, August 29, 2008


Mentioned during tea break at work that I’d sold a story to a weekly magazine. As you do. Well. I’m excited.

‘Oh dear,’ chortled a colleague. ‘Should you be admitting that out loud?’ Chortle, chortle. ‘You’ve obviously got the common touch! We’ll have to pretend we don’t know you in future!’ Chortle, chortle.

Reader, I was genuinely bemused.

‘What do you mean?’ I said.

‘Well. Come on. Surely anyone could write one of those stories?’

‘Have you?’

‘No. But then again I wouldn’t want to!’ Chortle, chortle. (I’m assuming the chortling was to take out the sting, but I could tell she meant it.) ‘I'm sure it's very good and I don't mean to be disrespectful (why do people always say that when they're about to be disrespectful?) but do you think anyone even reads them apart from the writers and their families?’ Chortle. 'I'm pleased for you though, don't get me wrong.' ???

Well. I was stumped. Everyone else was supportive but I couldn’t help wondering if they secretly agreed with her.

We’ve touched on literary snobbishness on here before. I’m sure it’s all been said and, to a large extent, I’ve developed a thick(ish) skin on the subject, but what annoyed me more than anything was the fact that I couldn’t for the life of me think of a decent comeback. Something cutting, but dignified. Witty but charged. It’s not as if I haven’t been here before, for heaven’s sake. I need to be able to whip out something I prepared earlier, Blue Peter stylee, for next time. With sticky-back plastic, if necessary. If there is a next time.

I’ll probably just keep my big trap shut in future.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Blackberry madness

Got distracted from writing today and went blackberry mad. I'm not talking about the wireless handheld device either. I'm talking about the plump, juicy variety prevalent in the fields where I walk Molly-dog.

It started in earnest last year. Ooh, I thought. Shame not to pick some to fling in a crumble. Ten thousand kilos and forty eight crumbles later it had turned into a full-blown obsession. My eyes started gleaming whenever I happened upon a particularly plumptious beast and I would willingly fight my way through a bed of nettles to reach it. It got so that I could sniff out a fresh crop if the wind was in the east, and I'd happily tromp miles out of my way clutching what became fondly known as my Blackberry Jar. Oh happy days.

I thought the novelty might have worn off, but no. Last week I became aware that there was something a-ripening in the hedgerows, and my mouth started watering. I could hardly wait to get out there this afternoon, although Molly got a bit fed-up. She doesn't like all the stopping and starting. It confuses her.

Trouble is, the children don't like home-made puddings of the crumble variety (I know. What are they like?) or any other variety for that matter, and even Lovely Husband's going to start feigning illness if I keep wheeling them out, but I'm buggered if I know what else to do with the blighters.

Any suggestions? Don't tell me to wean myself off picking them. I'm addicted.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

On a roll

At the risk of sounding like a big brag-monster (nobody likes a show-off, Clarkey) I've sold another story - to Take a Break magazine this time. Must be something in the water. Or maybe it's just that I'm Knuckling Down and taking this writing lark seriously at last. P'raps I'll chuck in the towel with the novel and concentrate on the shorties. (It's the euphoria'll wear off soon.)

Doris isn't too happy, but I've assured her there's room for more than one muse...

The thing that's really helped is feedback from the Story a Fortnight group - constructive criticism really helps you see where improvements can be made, and a fresh pair of eyes picking up things you've missed makes a world of difference.

Talk about teaching your grandmother to suck eggs.* You already knew that didn't you?

*Has anyone ever tried sucking eggs? Doesn't sound like the most attractive party trick. Probably not recommended on a first date.

By the way, that's not a photo of me at the top.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Doris strikes again

Seems I'm still in touch with my inner pensioner - I've decided to call her Doris as she's so keen to be heard - as Yours magazine have been in touch to say they'd like to publish one of my stories in their November issue. Yay!

Or Top-Hole! as Doris might say. I imagine her as a feisty old broad with ideas above her station. Married 'up' and had tea with the Queen once, but doesn't talk about it out of respect for 'er Madge. She's rubbed shoulders with celebrities and once borrowed a book off Barbara Windsor that she never gave back. It was rumoured she had a fling with Tommy Steele back in the day - something she fiercely denies - but she does imply a familiarity with Bruce Forsyth bordering on the fanciful. Used to breed poodles, but stopped after one escaped, boarded a plane to Brazil and was never seen again, and she can often be seen in Waitrose buying sherry and shortbread for get-togethers with Avril and Bob next door.

Where was I?

Oh yes...the short story was one I wrote from a prompt on my sister blog A Story a Fortnight, and would never have been written otherwise - or sent off without the helpful comments from the other Story a Fortnighters, so it's all their fault really. And Doris's, of course.

It seems you can't keep a good pensioner down.

Nurse...I think it's time for my medication.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Lost in translation

My mum (or mam as we say "oop North") has been staying for the past week and in that time I've heard the Teens ask her :-

"What's poompwatta?" Pump water

"What's dooityersen?" Do it yourself

"What does nesh mean?" Nippy "What's nippee?" Chilly "Chilli that you eat?" Cold for...heaven's sake. It means COLD

"What's a barmpot?" A silly person. One who doesn't know what "chilly" means, for instance

"What's an a'peth? As in, you daft a'peth?" Erm, a half-penny worth. A silly person.

"What's bawk mean?" To gag, or heave

"What's a bonnybairn?" An attractive child

"What's cackanded?" Clumsy

"What's bagsey?" (Bagsey me first) I want to go first.

Her answers were generally followed by a cry of, 'well why didn't you just say that in the first place??' Closely followed by them talking in cod Northern accents and rolling around in fits of hysterical laughter. I don't think they completely understand the intricacies of dialect, but it did make me think that there may be a gap in the market for a book translating Yorkshire into English.

One thing they DON'T say in Scarborough though, as far as I can remember, is the oft mis-quoted, "eeh bah gum."

But don't quote me on that. I'm "as daft as a brush I'll 'ave thee know."

Monday, August 11, 2008


Read in the paper today that author Lorna Page (left) has had her first novel, Dangerous Weaknesses, published at the grand old age of 93!! Yay, there's hope for me yet. The best bit is, she's spent all the proceeds on a house large enough for her elderly mates to move out of their care homes and come and live with her.
Altogether now.... Awwwwwwwwwww! Warms your cockles it does. Not to mention your heart.

Mum's here 'til Sunday so I'm posting this Surreptitiously. Not that she'd mind in the least, but you know what it's like when you've got visitors. You can't possibly sidle off to sit in front of the PC for eight hours straight.

Can you?

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


Got family staying at the moment, and for the next week or so. Couldn't get this week off work, so I'm seriously strapped for time. I'm having blog-reading withdrawal symptoms. When I eventually get round to it (and I will - oh yes) it'll be like butting into a conversation that's carried on without me. Everyone will be chucking me filthy looks and wondering who the hell I am. Not that I'm insecure or anything...

Lovely brother and family have gone to a Dr Who exhibition in London this afternoon, and when I got back from the library I fell on the PC like a hungry woman on a Twix. (I had one of those as well.) I've been writing LOADS, weirdly, in between everything else (what's that saying about asking a busy person if you want something doing? Well, actually I think that is the saying...) so my progress bar will be making a comeback soon and I can hold my head up in the writing community again, instead of scuffing my shoes like a naughty child when I see everyone else's shooting towards the million mark.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, my sixteen year old neice asked if I'd have a look at some writing she's done. It's a fantasy type story, she said and I thought 'uh-oh, not my genre,' but naturally I said - rather patronisingly probably - that of course I'd take a peek. She's done six little chapters so I sat down with a coffee at 7.30 this morning, wondering what I was going to say if I didn't like it, and in seconds was hooked. BLOODY HELL, I thought enviously. She's Good. Too many lovely adjectives, naturally (see what I did there) but she has a flair for a story as well as a way with language and I'm not going to have to fib at all when I tell her later, it's Fab!

OBVIOUSLY she takes after her auntie...