Monday, June 29, 2009

WHS: What's going on?

What's going on with WHSmith? For sometime now, I have noticed the one in my local town is on the decline. First of all, they closed the upstairs. It used to house quite a large music and video/CD department. Then I noticed a few months ago that they were bulking out the CDs and DVDs downstairs with empty cases to make it look as though there were more for sale than there were. They were also photocopying covers in black and white to insert in the cases.

On Saturday, I went in there to see if they had any Michael Jackson CDs and was astonished that the wall of CDs downstairs had disappeared. I asked a young man where they were and he pointed to a very small stand behind me. Then he informed me that they were going to stop selling them altogether in the near future.

This is like the end of an era. When I was a growing up, it was usually WHSmith or Woolies I went to look for my music [cassettes, singles and LPs back then of course.] In those days there was a special counter with someone serving just on the music department.

I don't know if this phenomenon of a decline is only happening in towns like mine where a big Tesco has been erected just yards away or if other WHSmiths in other towns are going the same way. The problem is that Tesco stocks practically all the same things that Smiths does and probably for a lot cheaper. It even sells some of the more specialist magazines.

Smiths was the place I used to go for my 'back to school/ or college' pens and papers, my weekly magazines and my music. Tesco isn't the same for me. It's a souless place. A giant engulfing the town and putting little businesses, well, out of business.

Dorothy Perkins left the town a couple of weeks ago and I hear that Burtons has either already gone or is on its way out. Of course we have them at the retail park, but again, that's not the same.

How long will it be before we see a piece of tumbleweed blowing down the High Street?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Death of a Legend

I was so sorry to hear of the death, late last night UK time, of Michael Jackson. He played the song track to my youth and beyond. One of his songs that really gets me is 'Ben'. They played it as a slow dance at the school disco of my first year at comp when I was almost 12. Chokes me up that song.

I don't know why, but I wasn't so surprised about his death as I have been when other legends such as Elvis and Princess Diana died. Maybe it's because he became reclusive in his latter years, and of course, we didn't seem to hear of any new releases from him for a long time.

It has been suggested that next month's concerts were a trigger for his death, insomuch as he might have been taking painkillers and maybe some sort of uppers. But at this point in time, it's all speculation. His concert dates were originally for 10 days but this increased to a whopping 50! Which would be gruelling for any performer no matter what their age or physical condition.

Of course, the sad thing is that even in death, there are still issues brought back up in the media. Yet, he was cleared of those, so the slate should have been wiped clean. I never believed those allegations. Who knows what effect the traumatic events had on his health? I think he was naive and childlike. A person who wanted to bring about peace in the world. A genuine good guy. I hope the doubters will get to see that in time.

The King of Pop has left behind a wonderful legacy by leaving us his music to enjoy for many years to come. I wouldn't be surprised if one of his former hits goes back to number one, in the album and singles charts.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Killed by cows

I was upset to read a news item posted at Yahoo this morning, entitled:

"Dog Walker Is Killed By Stampeding Cattle"

Upset, but not surprised. On more than one occasion I have walked my dogs and come across a herd of cows who have been more than a little intimidating when they have their calves with them. Sometimes, I have been taken by surprise when the herd have been where they aren't supposed to be. They seem to signal to one another by making a strange sound and give me the evil eye.

I have hoped and prayed as I walked by they didn't charge at us. Luckily the dogs were on their leads but I felt it best to walk at a normal pace and avoid eye contact when close up.

People have laughed at me when I've said I've felt threatened by them and asked, how could a cow possibly kill you? I replied, "Well if one fell on top of you, their weight would kill you for a start." I didn't know for certain then that they could stampede someone to death.

I notice in the article it said the same thing happened to another woman the year before.

The main thing to remember when out walking, particularly with dogs, is to respect the countryside. And to particularly respect the cows when they have their young offspring with them.

You just never know what could happen otherwise...

Friday, June 19, 2009

Crafting the Romance Novel

The latest edition of my e-book, Crafting the Romance Story, is now available from Lulu. There is a bonus chapter on 'Crafting the Love Scene' and it's available to you at a reduced cost of £4.00.

Here are the contents which include worksheets and character charts:

~ Chapters~

1. The Hero

2. The Heroine

3. Complimentary Characters

4. Where can I get my ideas from?

5. Conflict/Obstacles

6. Dialogue

7. Plot

8. Crafting the Love Scene

9. Beginnings, Middles and Endings

10. The Black Moment

11. Happily Ever After?

12. Marketing Your Submission

13. Useful Books and Websites

All the links have been updated and new writing markets added. This is only an 86 page book but it's packed with relevant, easy to digest information.

Click here to download now:

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Me the Super Hero

I don't know what this image says about me...I popped over to read Liz Fielding's blog this morning and discovered she had turned herself into a comic super hero. So, I thought I'd try it too. If you want to have a go, click here:

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Writing for free or for payment?

I usually advocate that it's best for a writer to write for payment. Now by this I'm not saying that a writer needs to be paid for every word he or she writes. After all, I'm not getting paid to write this blog, although of course there are ways of being paid to blog. What I'm saying is there are times when it's only right for a writer to be paid. An example of this would be if a writer is asked to write a column for a magazine on a regular basis, if that publisher is being paid for advertising and is paying other members of staff, then that would only appear fair for the writer in question to be paid.

It's a controversial issue. I believe in writing for free if it's to benefit a cause like a charity or to help someone out, but in the main I believe writers should be paid like any other profession.

Over the years, these are the kinds of things I have been paid for [not always large amounts mind you, but as the Tesco ad goes: Every little helps!]

1. Non fiction articles published online and in magazines

2. Short stories online and in magazines

3. Running online writing workshops

4. Running writing therapy groups

5. Royalties from my novels

I can even remember a time one month when I earned as much from writing as I do from my day job. However, post 911 a lot of online writing markets dried up or paid less. I had had a regular writing column but the website in question suddenly decided to stop paying writers. Their argument was "If you want to play a round of golf, you have to pay a fee!" To this day, I have no idea what was meant by it. Lots of writers pulled out of that website. I might have stayed but they also took away our free e-mail addresses.

So, along with lots of other writers, I left.

Not so long afterwards they began paying writers but in a different way. It was all about keywords and getting hits to the site. I think the money writers earned was probably a pittance for a lot of work. I don't think that site has the same feel to it anymore, somewhere along the line it lost it's energy, outlook and what it stood for.

There was another time when a new Canadian women's magazine was due to launch. I was offered a stint to write a regular column on personal development. However, the downside was I wouldn't be paid for it. The editor said I could write for it to 'make a name for myself' and then perhaps she would pay me!!!

Now, I wasn't that hard up to get my name in print. And I told her so. I also told her that as her magazine ran paid advertisements, and all the regular staff got paid, then so should their freelancers. Later on, after I had opted out, I found out she did indeed pay freelancers, but it was a pittance, but still, better than nothing.

I have witnessed online flame wars over the writing for pay issue, mainly from the people who think it's acceptable to write for publications like the one above, for free. How can a writer gain respect if all they do is write for nothing and maybe even put another freelancer out of a job by doing so?

Write for free on your website, in your journal, or to help a cause or someone out. But don't do it for the sake of it, especially, if it costs you dear in the long run.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Good old paper and pen!

Well, I have to say after my last post about my ailing novel, I went back to good old paper and pen today and it worked a treat. I had a break at work and my hand flew over the page. I managed around 1,500 words in quite a short space of time. Now the vicar is out of the bath and I have discovered something new about one of my characters.

I may try this a lot more in the future.

When I first started writing seriously about ten years ago, I always used pen and paper in the first instance and then typed it up. Over the years though I thought it was quicker and easier to go straight to the keyboard. It makes me wonder if in the process I lost some of my creativity that way. Does one use a different side of the brain or something when typing as opposed to writing, do you think?

It definitely cleared the cobwebs for me today!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Why am I so slow writing this novel?

This really is a mystery to me. I started writing a follow up to A Taste of Honey, my romantic comedy, more than two years ago. That particular book was a pleasure to write and practically wrote itself. However, its follow up, A Spoonful of Sugar, is hard work. I wrote a follow up to one of my other novels, using two of the secondary characters from the first book as the heroine and heroine in the second. I am doing the same thing now but it's crawling along at a snail's pace.

It's not that I'm not happy with what I've written either or that the plotline so far has holes in it. I just seem to work on it in fits and starts. Yet, with everyone of my previous novels I have got them finished within months if not sooner.

I managed 1000 words the other day, which was great for me on this novel. My record is up to 6000 a day on my others.

At the moment I have left a funky motorbike and sidecar driving female vicar with her toe stuck up the tap whilst she's taking a bath! The hero, Antonio Santini and heroine, Suzie Frampton, have just arrived to rescue her.

Got to get the rev out of there soon. I can't leave her in a cold bath for months!

Does anyone have any idea why I am lagging behind with this book when the story reads quite well and I am enjoying the process but have to keep stopping and starting again?

This is a new one for me.

I want to finish it as one of my fans [yes, I do actually have some!] as just purchased A Taste of Honey and is asking about further publications.

I may have to try going back to pen and paper to see how that goes, instead of sitting in front of the keyboard.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Let down and letting it go

If there's one thing I really hate, it's being let down. It's happened to me a couple of times during this past week. One of the people who let me down is a family member that I love dearly. I could see it coming, and to be honest, I believe there is something behind it that I won't go into here.

I think the reason I take issues like this badly is because I go out of my way not to let people down myself, even though there are times like when I'm ill or have a specific need myself, I put them first.

I seem to spend my time thinking more about others than I do about myself.

It's got me thinking though that perhaps it's time I started to think about myself and my own needs more and then I wouldn't feel so bad when people let me down.

I haven't been on holiday for five years, apart from the odd couple of days here and there. So, I am going to book a holiday, hopefully for July, with my mother to somewhere on the coast, maybe Bournemouth or Torquay. I need to go away with someone who has similar values to myself. Someone who enjoys eating out and not penny pinching, someone who will try new things and experiences. The last thing I need is to go away with someone who is going to wind me up and stress me out.

My well is running dry and I need to top it up. I've given about all I can give, there's very little left. At least I recognise that.