Feedback: gives you ulcers

I received feedback from the publishers exactly a month ago. They are not publishing my novel. (I’m not so hot at describing emotion so I’ll skip what I felt.)


However they kindly sent a page and a half of feedback. I believe you can pay around £500 for this type of feedback from a literary agency.

I read it over and have to agree with everything they said. There is ONE paragraph on what is good about the novel – pacing (that’s a biggy) and the protagonist and a few other things. Then the rest is taken up with suggested improvements: mainly plot and relationships (and the emotions therein). That’s a lot of rewriting to do which is why I have been hard at work penning, planning and editing… anything else. Anything but my novel. I can’t bare to look at the thing. It’s offensive. But as a friend said to me the other day, Stay strong and carry on. I have paraphrased this as, Stop being a wuss and just get it done.

The slog starts here…


Patience Means Waiting

When my son was young, about 5 or 6, I asked him if he knew what patience meant (he was agitated about his tea taking more than a few seconds to arrive at the dinner table). He mumped out, ‘Waiting.’ Perfect one-word answer.

I entered the first chapter of my novel in a competition recently and a couple of weeks later the publisher asked for the full ms. Heck, it was only two drafts in which meant it was rough and unready. Fortunately I had told them this. No problem, they said, you have a week to polish it up. Polish it up? Polish? What a terrible week I had. When I wasn’t at work I was at the pc, trying to ‘polish’ my sandpaper effort into marble-smooth quality.

I failed. The task was too big. And so here I wait and wait, impatiently, to hear what they think of it, hoping they give me the perfect one-word answer.

Let’s Drink to Drink

When thinking of the recurring themes in my stories I have to say drink features a lot. My first short story win was about a drunk being forced to see the light. There is barely a story of mine that doesn’t mention booze – even in a cursory way, such as, ‘…said Tom, waving a glass of gin.’ It’s like the backbone of my plots. Should I be worried?

I was short-listed in June for my short story Mrs Punch’s Last Stand in the Belfast Book Festival and it’s set in a hotel with, yes, a bar where one of the characters gets wellied after her husband’s funeral.

All our soaps from Eastenders to Emmerdale have life (and plots) centred round the pub. You didn’t find Miss Ellie getting blootered in a downtown Dallas bar or Krystal Carrington getting the heave from her local for dancing on the table. Think it must be a British thing – the backbone of our society, perhaps.

Frankly, if booze didn’t exist I think my writing output would be miniscule. And if booze didn’t exist that would certainly be something to worry about.

Saying all that, I had a flash published on-line you can read here which does not feature drink in any form whatsoever.

Exposing Myself

Not completely, of course, but in a sort-of way. I read a flash fiction piece for the Vernal Equinox comp through in Glasgow a couple of nights ago. It was my second time in front of the mike and just like the previous time I was first up. That’s good, I thought, get it over and done with; sit back and listen to everyone else. There was no relaxing – only churning over the reading’s post-mortem. Was my voice audible/well-paced/non-squeaky? The story can be read here

Does speaking in public get any easier? Does speaking your very own crafted words in public get easier?

*idea* – perhaps competition organisers should have us reading one another’s work? I quite fancied the story about the woman with the continuously-growing hair.


Photo blurred, probably owing to me shoving my phone into my (unknown) neighbour’s hands and asking her to take a photo just before I went up.


p.s. happy Summer Solstice


You can buy this – I was given mine free.


My flash story, Boulder, features in this anthology that is available to buy through the Brighton/Rattles Tales website: Lots of excellent tales.

Things have been quiet on the writing front. Although I’ve finished the first draft of a novel I can’t face looking at it and have been dithering about, doing anything but sort through the mess of 60,000 wandering words.

After someone (the lovely Maisie Chan) heard me read out a story (the one time I’ve done so) I was invited to join the SCWBI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators). I’ve been along to two meetings and have learnt the usefulness of being critiqued. Unseen errors, rotten grammar and wavering plot lines blare out to fresh eyes so I’ve grown a thicker skin during those meetings – and a fixed smile.

Snow, Glorious Snow

The first day of spring brought snow moans from around the country. No milk and bread was the cry that went up from a thousand Co-ops. A few more days and folks would have started scavenging one another’s food compost bins and looting garden sheds, thus highlighting our total patheticness.

– But excellent fodder for a plot on how the country manages (or not) at these times.

And a wee continuation about the curse of being called Sharon:

Where Have all the Sharons Gone?

Fact – we are in our forties, possibly late forties, and now mothers to children with exotic names that will never be parodied in a BBC sitcom or considered trashy by those blessed with the normal names of Cathy or Lorraine.

Fact – no new Sharons are being born. We are a dying breed; the focus of a potential country and western song; an endangered species.

On a completely different and less maudlin note, my flash story, Porkin’ in Heaven, can be read here as one of the entries long listed on the Reflex Fiction website.

Resolutions are Made to be Broken – and Badly

My flash story ‘Nos’ was posted 1/1/18 on the Reflex Fiction website. It didn’t make the longlist but they said they liked it enough to publish which was decent of them and a good way to start the new year. The other flash story I submitted has made it to their longlist and so begins the wait to see if it progresses. Reflex Fiction posts a flash every day and worth taking a gander at.

Came second in the current edition of Writers’ Forum, which was lovely. I don’t have a link to this story as it’s printed, but proof, should it be needed, is in this badly-lit photo:


On the resolution front – none made this year as the disappointment of not fulfilling them is just too great and damaging to a precious soul like myself. Even the one to stop procrastinating, social-surfing and gazing out of windows when I should be writing. No, especially that one.