Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The 5 Stages of Grief

Today I went from stage 1 - denial - to stage 2 - anger and skipped stage 3 (bargaining) to stage 4 - Depression. Checked my emails on my mobile today. Had 26 - all spam.
I miss my laptop. Whaaaaaaa......

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A Tale of Woe

First of all teaching was difficult this morning. I have performances for my classes in two weeks and rehearsals were terrible but, as a friend reminded me, things have to get worse before they can get better. In the afternoon I went to the library to check my emails but for some reason every time I logged onto my account the window would close. While I was there I decided to check out some books. I looked up the catalogue for the first Wheel of Time book by Robert Jordan, The Wolves in the Walls by Neil Gaiman and On Writing by Stephen King. The computer said they had all those books, but could I find them? No. I even asked the Librarian but he couldn't find them either. News on my laptop is not good. I showed it to my brother and he thinks the hard drive is kaput. I hope he is wrong.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Italian Infection

I don't know if it was the trip to Venice or my mishandling of it, but my laptop is not well. It hasn't been starting up properly the last few days so when it didn't start up fully this morning I rebooted it but then windows wouldn't start so now I am without my laptop or my work (foolishly I don't have a backup) and the even greater challenge of having to get it fixed. Hoofpot kindly let me use her laptop to write this update. Feeling rather depressed about it today.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Pushing Daisies

Apparently there was a song in the Eurovision last night entitled 'You're nobody until someone loves you'. Someone drew my attention to it this morning and spoke about the nature of love and the truth of the song title. It made me think of last nights episode of Pushing Daisies entitled Bitter Sweet. I think Pushing Daisies has a lot to say on the nature of love. Ned is totally devoted to Chuck - you only need to take one look at his goofy grin when he looks at Chuck to know he will love her til his dying breath - and the fact that they can never have a physical relationship makes their love even more poignant and pure. I also really love Olive and her love/crush on Ned. I would love to see them get together but I know that it is never going to happen because it would destroy Ned's undying love for (the undead) Chuck and I couldn't bear to see that happen. I love characters who have such precious fragile loyalty and fidelity. They are rare precious jewels that are so easily shattered and should be cherished in this world of mud and stones.
Chuck, played by Anna Friel

Anyway, this leads me to one of the nicest speeches I have heard on (romantic) love which was spoken by Alfredo the travelling salesman to Olive. You see, he loves Olive, but she doesn't notice him because she loves Ned. She asked him if he thought love could persist if you couldn't touch, hoping that he would say no because then she would have a chance that Ned would stop loving Chuck and realise he loved Olive. However, Alfredo thought this was the perfect time to declare how he felt about Olive and gave the following response:-
Alfredo played by Raul Esparza
If I loved you … then I would love you in any way I could. And if we could not touch, then I would draw strength from your beauty, and if I went blind then I would fill my soul with the sound of your voice and the contents of your thoughts until the last spark of my love for you lit the shabby darkness of my dying mind *
Olive Snook played by Kristin Chenoweth

I think it is a beautiful piece of writing on what love - real love - should be. A devoted force of the will that is not dependant upon lust, physical attraction, pleasure, or self gratification. Love that lasts hardships and time, disease decay and death. Love the way it should be and so seldom is. It is nice to see real love still being celebrated on tv.
Ned (aka the pie maker) played by Lee Pace

*Quote thanks to Give Me My Remote

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Congratulations VT

Congratulations to Valinora Troy whose micro fiction, 'Last', will appear in the August edition of Apollo's Lyre. I'm sorry I missed your call VT, but I will call tomorrow to squeal with delight over the phone and jump up and down (although you won't be able to see me do that as we don't have video phones). I should have known you would get another acceptance when I heard the good news from Invisible Ink! :)

Acceptance Tally:- VT: 6
Inks: 4

Friday, May 23, 2008

Arrivederci Venice

Well the holiday has come to an end and I'm back in Ireland after spending hours travelling - first dragging the bags from the hotel, then wandering about on the water bus, waiting in line to pass through security in the airport (where the woman in front of me turned and said 'You have beautiful eyes') on the airport and then getting back to the car in Dublin. It was late when we got home, but our trip went smoothly. I feel as if we never left Ireland at all and just spent a really long day at the airport. Our last morning in Venice was good, if wet. I fed the pigeons again and our favourite restaurant once more tried to ply us with free drink to thank us for our patronage. Pity neither the Mater or I drink alcohol. Anyway, now that I am home again I can up load my photos of the city on the lagoon, so here they are.

Our view from the hotel. We were on the fourth floor but our room number was 301! This photo was taken on our first day when it was lashing with rain, but of course it doesn't show up on the camera! I would have to have added milk to the rain so you could see it - like in Singing in the Rain. As I didn't do this, you have to take my word for it.
Here is St. Mark's Square on Tuesday when it flooded. The water is partly the rain and partly the high tide, but it is all wet. As you can see people have shed shoes and rolled up trousers to get through the deluge. Some people even had to lug luggage (just saw the connection there!) from the water bus (or vaperetto) terminus all the way through the wet to get to their hotels. Venice is a beautiful city, but I was so cold and wet on Tuesday that I don't think I would have enjoyed the trip so much if the bad weather had kept up. Also, it is very hard trying to hold an umbrella for two while walking down the narrow venetian streets. A mack in a sack will be with me on all future trips.
Here is the Mater outside St. Mark's on Wednesday. That funny thing she appears to be wearing on her head is in fact a street vendors stall in the background.
Here I am striking a pose in the piazza.
Wednesday turned out to be really warm and sunny. St. Mark's Square still flooded at high tide, but it actually was quite nice paddling through it to get to the gondola. This pic was taken from the gondola (aka scary form of transport) as we pulled out of the gondola station. The Mater beside the stone lions that guard St. Mark's Basilica.
The Mater again posing in front of one of the massive doors into St. Marks. Note the beautiful decoration over the door.One of the many beautiful views in the city. This is just one of the little canals that wind through Venice. I took this photo from a bridge on the way to Rialto. Note the gondola.A view of the Grand Canal from Rialto. Think of this as Venice's high street. I would have liked to have spent more time exploring the Rialto market and the streets along the Grand Canal. Here I am feeding the pigeons for the second time. I look very worried, I don't know why. It certainly wasn't because of the birds. It is a pity I didn't get a picture of the pigeons sitting on my shoulder (I so felt like Long John Silver) or when I had them in both hands. There were too girls taking pictures of me with them so maybe I should have asked them for a copy? There were street vendors selling bread to feed the pigeons (think Mary Poppins' bird lady in Italian) and there was a man (he looked like he was in a kilt but I think it was just tartan trousers) sitting on the ground covered in pigeons. He had two birds clasped in his hands and he was throwing them at his friends. This was all in the rain. It is a hard life for a venetian pigeon.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

What's Your Superpower?

Today I discovered what my super power was. Everyone has one. Some people can climb walls like a spider or balance on narrow ledges like Lara Croft. Some people can cook beautiful meals and bewitch people with their food. Mine is being able to find my way around places. Ok, so it isn't a very flashy super power, but it is mine. I never realised that it was my super power before because I thought everyone had that ability, but being here in Venice has made me realise that it is a gift only some people pocess. I've heard so many people complaining about how Venice is a maze and not knowing where they are, and I always know where I am and how to get back to places and where I am in relation to the hotel. It used to come in handy when playing computer games too. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not saying I am fabulous at reading maps or that I can give brilliant directions. I'm just good at knowing where I am, so the next time I see someone leaping effortlessly from a boat or singing beautifully I can smile because I know I can do something that they probably can't.
I fed the pigeons in St. Marks Square today. That has been the highlight of Venice for me. I kept some bread from breakfast this morning and as soon as I produced it in the square the pigeons flocked over. I held out my hand and they flew up and perched on it to eat the bread. One big pigeon claimed my hand, pushing the other pigeons off and strutting around on my arm and chest while I reached into the bag to extract more crumbs. He also sat on my shoulder for a while and cooed. I felt like a pirate, it was magic! The majority of the pigeons clustered around my feet and pecked my toes. At one time I had a pigeon in each hand. I loved it. Their feet are warm and rough and their beaks are tickly. I asked the Mater to take a photo of me festooned with birds, but it was very sunny and she isn't used to my camera so none of them came out. I'll just have to feed them again tomorrow. Yeah! I think I'll save two rolls from breakfast.
Walked to Rialto this morning. What a fantasic bridge and what a great view of the Grand Canal. It is some sight. There are loads of shops on the bridge and (for those in the know) it reminded me of a smaller version of Citybridge. I liked the thought of maybe bumping into Hans or Luxur.
Found a shop I would like to take home to Ireland with me. It was full of leather notebooks and other beautiful writing things. I asked the shop keeper if he would ship to Ireland and he said normally no but he would for me (whether he remembers me is another thing) then he said that the Mater and me were Irish angels and gave us free book marks! I was chuffed.
Found a golden lion pendant in another jewellery shop. The shops in Venice are fab - if you are a millionaire. I've been looking for a lion pendant for ages and haven't found any so I was pleased when I saw this one. It was perfect. About the size of a two euro coin with a lions head in relief. 18 carat gold. Venice is the place of the lion, they are everywhere. I expected it to be expensive but not quite as dear as it turned out to be. Five hundred and eighty euro, so no lion pendant for me. Ah well, I'll just have to keep looking.
That's about all for my last full day in Venice. Weather was lovely again today and no flooding of St. Mark's Square, which is a change.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Just One Gondola

The man at the hotel reception told us this morning that he had 2 guests interested in a Gondola ride this afternoon and asked if we would like to join them. Having no sense between us, we agreed. Our companions turned out to be a couple of Australians and were very pleasant. We paddled through the high tide that had flooded St. Mark's Square and trudged down to the Gondolier stand. Thankfully it was dry, warm and sunny today. What a difference it made! The sea was very choppy and I found it really hard to get into the Gondola. It rocked a lot in the water and at times I felt it was going to tip over. Things wouldn't have been so bad if one of the men from Oz hadn't said 'Only one in five capsizes' as we got into the boat. The trip was well worth it and we got a lovely view of Venice, but I was absolutely terrified and very shaken when it was time to get out of the boat (I needed a lot of help getting out. The Australians guys helped me on the dock while the Gondolier shouted at me to get out 'Now lady, now'). I was going to suggest we go to Murano tomorrow but I don't think I'll be up to another boat til Friday. The Mater managed very well and she isn't as spry as I am. We browsed the shops in the afternoon and chilled out in St. Mark's Square for a while. Saw a very large seagull snacking on a pigeon and some pigeons snacking on little girls (or the food they had in their hands). Watched a man proposing to his girlfriend (I knew he was proposing because he went down on one knee). I think she said yes because she cried and hugged him. Saw a newly married couple getting their wedding photos taken. There was an orchestra in the square playing some lovely chamber music. Saw lots of lovely dogs and some nuns eating ice cream.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Sightseeing in the rain

Venice is a lovely city. I don't have any pictures to post because a) it was so wet today I didn't take many pics and b) I don't have my camera connection to the laptop with me. We were served breakfast in our room this morning, which was lovely. Not so lovely was the fact that it was cold and extremely wet. It was raining, but not just some drizzling weakling rain but true heavy rain. We left the hotel and headed out to St. Mark's Square. We had an umbrella from the hotel but I hadn't even brought a cardigan with me! I took my rain coat and cardigans to Madeira and didn't need them once (apart from the Sunday when it was so cold and we had left them in the hotel!) so I deliberately didn't them to Venice and boy do I need them! The square was probably very empty - for St. Mark's square - but there was a very large cue for the church. The Mater and I got totally soaked while we waited. The church was partially flooded so we had to walk over raised wooden boards. The church was magnificent. They had a treasury with some truly amazing chalices and artifacts from as far back as the 1st century (and some things even older). When we finally left the church we found the square was knee deep in water! I couldn't believe it had flooded. We waded into a side street (where it was only ankle deep) and got something to eat in a little restaurant near the hotel. I hoped the weather would clear up in the afternoon, but it continued to rain all day with only short relief from the showers. Apparently it is to continue wet for the rest of the week. It is so disappointing.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Greetings from Venice

Hi everyone, greetings from Venice. As it turns out, the hotel has (limited) internet access. We arrived in Italy this evening. The flight was good and much shorter than I thought it would be. The Mater found it very tiring and was exhausted and near the end of her tether as we walked down to the dock to get the vaperetto into the city. It didn't help that we arrived just as it pulled out from the dock. It costs €12 on the vapertto but we decided not to wait for the next one and went with a water taxi instead, which cost €105. The water taxis are little speed boats and while they are expensive, the drivers are very nice. Three Italian men helped the Mater and me into the taxi. The water was very choppy and was the biggest challenge to my boat phobia to date. I couldn't have got into it if I hadn't already made such big steps with the Monster in New Zealand and Madeira. The first view of Venice all lit up in the dusk was truly magnificant. You see the pictures of the city and you never believe that it really looks like that, but it does. As we reached the city and moved through the canals I was reminded of Tomb Raider and the hours I spent guiding Lara Croft through the narrow canals in a speed boat before jumping out and shooting down some men and dogs! The taxi took us to Campo Della Guerra, which is a dock just a few metres from the Hotel San Zulian's door, however because it was high tide there was a massive jump from the boat down to the dock. He checked with us that this was too big a leap and then took us to another dock that we could actually disembark from and gave us directions to the hotel. We were pulling our bags over the beautiful little bridges and down the narrow streets when a man stopped to see if he could help us with our bags. He had a beer can in his hand and at first I was afraid he was looking for money, but he was not at all pushy and I think he was a genuine good samaratin. I thanked him and said we were fine, but he persisted and because he couldn't speak English, he asked a Gondolier (and yes, they really do wear those stripey shirts and hats!) to give us directions and made sure we were ok getting to the hotel. The hotel is nice, basic but clean and comfortable and a very short from good restaurants and St. Mark's Square. We left our bags and got something to eat. I don't think the Mater likes her first taste of Venice, but I know how hard it is to enjoy things when you are really tired. Things will be better in the morning.


Oh, by the way, I'm away off out of the country again today, taking my mum on holidays to Venice. It was a Christmas present to her from all the family and I got a sweet deal in being chosen to accompany her. I'm really looking forward to it as I've never been to Venice before and Italy is lovely. I'll take the trusty laptop with me to do some writing if possible, but I don't know if there will be Internet access in the hotel so blogging may be sporadic. I'll be back Friday (late Friday) and if I don't see you before then (to quote Truman) Good Afternoon, Good Evening and Good Night!

Good News Everyone!

Yes, I have donned my Professor Farnsworth hat once again (for those of you who love Futurama. I am even wearing my dressing gown and slippers, but not the thick glasses) to bring you more good news about my writing (of course, the Prof's good news is never good. It's like - Good news everyone, you are all going to die). Anyway, back to my writing. The good people at Invisible Ink selected my short story competition entry 'All in the Family' to be included in their next anthology, Invisible Ink 2! That means I'm going to be in a very real print anthology! The way it works is that everyone who reads the book has a chance to vote online on which story they consider to be the best and the winning author gets a cash prize. I'll post details on how to buy the book and vote later on when they come available (remember my story is called 'All in the Family' so you can vote for it anyway! muhahahaha)

Sunday, May 18, 2008

International Day of Books Website

The International Day of Books now has its own website, blog, myspace and facebook pages. Check them out and join up!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

International Day of Books 27th July 2008

This year I want to publish a book - by any means possible. Because I consider myself to be an unselfish person (or perhaps because I don't want to go about this venture on my own) I want to take as many not yet famous unpublished writers with me as possible. Inspired by World Book Day, I plan on going about this process by publishing a novella of roughly 15,000 words and using Lulu to print it up. But Inkpot, I hear you say, what has this got to do with me? I'll tell you what...
If you are a writer and and want to get into print this year, this is the opportunity you have been waiting for. It is not going to be easy, it is not going to make you rich and famous, it will be hard work but it will be fun and it will get your work out to more people.
Ok, so if you are now interested, this is what you have to do...
1. Contact me and let me know
2. Write a novella of 15,000 words in any genre
3. Publicise the event in your country
4. Organise a book launch for July 27th and push all the International Day of Books books to as many people, venues and bookshops off and online as possible.
What I will do is give you as much help as possible with your book - proof reading, formatting, art work etc. and I will have the book launch in Ireland on the 27th July and push your book with mine throughout Ireland.
Interested? You should be! If not, please pass on the word and send people in my direction. I want to get as many authors from as many countries as possible involved in this.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Thursday, May 15, 2008

At the last minute - again!

I finally sent off my short story submission to From The Asylum's anthology, 'Things aren't what they seem' today - the last day they are accepting entries. I'm glad I got it in and thanks to Madeira for giving me the idea for the story (it was a long one coming) but once again I've scrapped in at the last minute of a deadline. I wonder what publishers/editors think of these last minute stories popping into their in boxes. Does it prejudice them against the author or is that what deadlines are there for. As long as you are on the right side of the closing date, what does it matter?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Aqua Aerobics

Emboldened by my swimming in Madeira, I decided to take the bull by the horns and go to a aquafit class at my local pool. Now, to anyone who doesn't know me, the last time I was in a public swimming pool (or any water apart from a shower or bath prior to Madeira) was when there was still an Olympic size pool in Blackrock and I was about 3 or 4 years old. Even then I felt really self conscious in a swim suit and I never got the hang of the swimming thing. Hanging onto the side and floating was about as far as I got - no change really. The Mater wanted to get her hair done so I had a few hours free before our weekly shopping. I looked up the class times in the pool. They have them at 11am and 8pm every Monday Wednesday and Friday. I would have time to leave my mum into the hair dressers and then head down to the pool for 11. I was terrified as I drove to the pool, but I knew I would feel worse if I didn't go than if I did. I got to the pool, was totally ignorant of pool etiquette, changed into my cozzie and ran into the pool as quickly as possible. And, do you know what? No one recoiled and fell down in fits of revulsion at sight of my blobby body. In fact, no one seemed to pay any attention to me at all. It was great, and once in the water I felt securely covered up. In the class were about 15 older ladies, who were all very welcoming and friendly and were much better than me at all the exercises. We did jogging, lunges, squats and lots of other leg and arm exercises that were HARD! I always thought my arm strength was ok - well, apparently not so much. We were given these Styrofoam floating tubes (like the ones in the picture. This isn't a photo of my class by the way, but thanks to for the free online stock photo) and had to force them under the water for arm exercises. I could hardly get them under the water with both my arms and leaning forward, let alone with one hand. The other ladies in the class seemed to have no problem whatsoever, but it has given me an incentive to try harder next time. I had a few moments of discomfort with the water - most notably when I went too far towards the deeper end and suddenly was on my tip toes and didn't know what to do - but all in all I was much more comfortable than before and I was doing things I couldn't even have dreamt of doing two weeks ago. I'm looking forward to my next class. This water thing is addictive. I might be getting swimming lessons next!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

I'm Back

Hi all, I'm back in sunny Ireland. Our plane arrived in Gatwick last night at about 10.30. We had a long wait in Gatwick airport and the Monster and I passed the time with making lists (the 32 counties, the 12 apostles, things like that) and then watched Dawn of the Dead (the remake) on the Monster's laptop (which I love and want to steal). Valpot very kindly picked us up at the airport and drove the Monster home. I picked up my car and drove back to Blackrock and arrived home about 1am, then with saying hello to Janna and settling in, I didn't get to bed until 3am so I am tired today! Went for a long walk on the beach with Janna in the evening. It was really warm and sunny and the beach was very sandy (unusual for Blackrock beach which is usually very wet). There were loads of people out on the beach with their kids. Janna and I walked down to the sea and paddled for ages. The sea looked horrible - there were big foaming lumps washing into shore as if someone had put washing up powder in the water - but felt wonderful. I will probably die of some mysterious illness in the next few days for paddling in it. If Dr House sees me, tell him about the polluted water, ok? When we crossed the river it got very deep and Janna was afraid to come after me, so she kept running up and down with the ball in her mouth looking anxious. On the other side the sand was very mucky and as I climbed out of the water I started sinking. I kept on thinking it would level out, but when I sank to my knees I began to wonder if I would continue sinking all the way to my neck. Fighting back panic and an uncontrollable urge to laugh (possibly because it reminded me of a similar instance with Hoofpot and I when I was a child) I said a quick prayer and managed to pull myself out. There were loads of people about and I had my phone with me so I wouldn't have been stuck for help, but the indignity of being pulled out of the mud forced me to try and extricate myself. It was a nice walk, despite the adventures, and possibly a bit much for Janna who collapsed as soon as we got home. I even thought it would have been nice to go swimming in the sea today - what has come over me?

Saturday, May 10, 2008

More Photos of Funchal

We spent the day in Funchal today, here are some more photos of what the Monster and I got up to. This is the Marina in Funchal. This was the view from our favourite restaurant on the pier. The town was very busy today - probably because it was Saturday. It was a surprise though because there were other people in our restaurant when we got there! It was a shock, much like the shock when we went down to the hotel gym and pool this morning and found other people there. The Monster and I were outraged! The problem with the restaurant having other people meant that we got a new waiter - a rather bored, surly young man with poor English. However, our very sweet young female waitress happened to be there also and remembered our order and made sure we got the usual.
The Monster striking a pose on the walkway boardering the marina.
This is a restaurant where the tables are on little boats. We never ate there, but I like the concept. Right next door is another restaurant, which is a boat that plays Beatles songs all the time.
We decided to take the cable car that runs from Funchal to the top of Madeira. This is the Monster in the cable car as we zoomed over Funchal. Notice all the red roofs.
At the top of Madeira (or at the cable car anyway) there is a palace and tropical gardens. I don't have the literature with me at the mo, so don't ask me to explain any more than that. This is a thousand year old olive tree in a bed of lavendar that lives in the palace tropical gardens. It also has a granite stone imbedded in its trunk, which it must have grown around as a young tree. Whether it still produces olives, I don't know. Fascinating all the same.There was an exhibit of Africian art at the palace Tropical gardens. Here are some of the birds and animals. They were carved from wood. I really like them.

A view of the tropical gardensAnd another, with a nice red bridge And the Monster showing off in the tropical gardensThey also had an exhibition of geodes and crystals and semi-precious stones. I would have taken more pictures but the lighting was poor and they didn't show up very well. They are amazing though, the forms they can take, and they are so sparkly and pretty. I likes gems.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008


Here are some pics I took of the Monster in Funchal, Madeira's capital. This is a statue of some mermaid creature that resides on the seafront in Funchal. They have a huge marina with a long boardwalk and it is very picturesque. There are loads of little covered bars and eateries dotted along the marina - even a restaurant where the tables are on little boats! The majority of the dishes are fish or meat but there is the occassional italian influence. There were also lots of men fishing from the boardwalk. We watched for a while to see if they caught anything, but no, they didn't (not when we were around anyway).
This is one of the orange flowered trees that can be found on the narrow cobbled streets of Funchal. I don't know what it's called, but it is very pretty. You can see the covered tables of various restaurants in the background. Madeira has been settled for 500 years and once was an important port for ships going to the new world. A lot of Funchal seems to date back to those days as the streets are very narrow, cobbled and wander up and down the mountain in natural fashion. Trees and interesting buildings are dotted along the road.

This is a picture of the blue trees we saw in Funchal. This street led to a main shopping street and was lined by these trees in flower, as well as towers of flowers in bloom. It was lovely to look at. Again, I don't know what this tree is called. Apparently spring (May) is the best time to see Funchal as it is in bloom.

Sunday, May 04, 2008


Here are some pictures I took of the Monster in London over the weekend.

On the Thames cruise with the houses of parliment and Big Ben in the background. Never knew before that Big Ben (the name is for the bell, not the clock tower) was named after the man who worked on putting the bell into the clocktower. His name was Ben and he was small and round and was (I guess) 'Little Ben' while the workmen knicknamed the bell Big Ben.
The London Eye, as seen from the Thames. Think of it as a giant, very slow Ferris wheel. It cost 75 million pounds to make and is sponsered by British Airways.
Tower Bridge. In the olden days, people could ascend the towers and walk across the upper walkway to cross from one side of the river to the other when the bridge was raised to allow ships through. However, the walkway was home to theives and prostitutes so most people waited the three minutes that it took for the bridge to raise and lower rather than run the gauntlet of the upper walkway. It is now used as a museum.
The Gerkin (big building in the background). A modern marvel of glass and metal, it is now an iconic part of the London skyscape.Westminister as seen from the London Eye.
The Monster at the Apex of the London Eye (the 'flight' on the eye was a bit of a let down. The cruise was much more exciting)Taking pictures of each other on the Gatwick Express, on our way back to the hotel after a long day. The public transport system in London is fantastic. The underground and the trains to and from Gatwick airport are brilliant. We were a little confused by the tube system at first, but once we figured out how it worked, we were flying. It was fantastic (if crowded, hot and a little scary - those escalators are not for the faint hearted!)
I loved London. The buzz, the people, the places. There was so much to see and do, I wish I had a few more days. It was so cool seeing places I had heard so much about - especially Westminister and along the Thames. They are places I have grown up seeing on the tv so I feel like I know them really well and seeing them in the flesh, so to speak, gave them an unreal quality. Went to the Mousetrap on Satruday night. We were a little late because our plane was over an hour delayed and had to enter the stalls through this tiny little door and then down these funny little stairs, so it worked to our advantage in a way. The theatre - St Martin's theatre on West Street - was really lovely and old fashioned with boxes and curtains and everything. Really enjoyed the play and then had a nice meal at a nearby restaurant. Very good price as well. I couldn't believe how many people were in London, especially around Covent Garden. The street was wall to wall thick with mankind. Everytime I went on the underground I thought of Neverwhere and London below. I'm sure some of the tunnels are quite ancient. It is so hot below ground. I didn't look down at the tracks to see how far the fall was because I was sure if I knew, I wouldn't be able to get on the trains. Sometimes ignorance is bliss. London is certainly a place I want to revisit.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Going on Holidays

Hi all. I'm going on holidays with the Monster tomorrow. We're off to London for two nights and then flying to Madera for a week on Monday. I'm really looking forward to getting away. I've never been to Madera or London before and I'm really excited about going on the London Eye and doing all the fun touristy things you can get up to when you are away. I'm going to take a break from writing over the weekend, but I hope to do some while in Madera and I also hope to update the blog while away, but I may not be able to get on line, so don't be surprised if my blogging is sporadic or non existent.
So, ta-ta for now and I hope everyone has a good weekend and a good week. I'll be back on the 12th with lots of news and photos.

Thursday, May 01, 2008


Being rejected is an inevitable part of being a writer. Here are some tips I have come by to help cope with rejection and to cut down the chances of being 'passed' on.
1. Don't take it personally. Ok, ok, I know everyone says this, but they are right. Getting a rejection letter doesn't mean you are a bad person, or that you can't write and your book/story is rubbish.

2. Line up another market and send it out again. Once the rejection email or letter has come in, line up another market that your story would suit and send it out as quickly as possible. Don't even think about it. Remember, this is a business so act professionally and keep sending your stuff out.

3. Give yourself a time to feel sorry for yourself. You're only human, so of course rejection is going to affect you. You've tried not to let it get you down and you've sent out your story again, but you are still feeling a little low. That's perfectly normal. Give yourself a period of time to be self indulgent - anything from an hour to a day but nothing longer, and have a good wallow for being rejected. Then, when your time is up, put your professional hat back on, forget about your rejection and focus on sending out and writing your work.

4. Listen to any comments and act accordingly. It may not be personal, but there is a reason why your story got rejected. It could be because they already had filled their magazine for that month, or the editor read three stories in a similar theme that day or they simply have an objection to zombies, however it could also be because your story wasn't as good as it could be. If the editor takes the time to give you some feedback, listen to it. It is a positive, not a negative. You don't have to agree with the editor says, but do take it seriously and consider it in regard to your story. Are there changes you could make to improve your story in light of these comments? They didn't have to say anything about your work so the fact that they did means you should listen and learn from that experience.

How to avoid rejection

1. Pick your market carefully. There is no point sending a horror story to a romance magazine or vice versa. You may have written a fantastic story but when it comes to finding a market for it no one seems to be interested because it doesn't fit what any of the magazines are looking for. Sometimes it is easier to pick out your market first and write your story accordingly. You will have a higher chance of getting accepted if you tailor your work to a publication. Reading magazines is a good way to find out what your market is like and what sort of stories they accept. It also supports them and keeps them publishing fiction. Sites like Duotrope and Ralan help as well as they have very informative pages on markets and what type of stories they publish. Duotrope also provide you with the statistics of a markets acceptance rate, so you have an idea of how you might fare. The more research you do on what a market is looking for and what stories are new and original, the more likely you are to be accepted.

2. Follow guidelines. I know every article on writing harps on about this, but it is something so simple and yet seems to be ignored by so many writers. It is so important that your submission follows the market guidelines and looks professional. If it doesn't, no matter how good your work is, it will be rejected. Just because a lot of markets now accept electronic submissions doesn't mean you can relax on your formatting. Make sure you tailor your submission to each magazine's requirements. Some want double spaced attachments, others want single spaced pasted into the body of the email. All have their own way of doing it and won't appreciate a deviation from that rule. Give your story the best chance of being read and make sure it follows the guidelines to the letter.

3. Polish your story. Ok, so you have an idea for a story. You have picked out a market and done your research and written your first draft. Now go through it. Is the story written in the best way possible? Are you giving all the important information and non of the unimportant stuff? Does it start at the write time, not too late or too early? Is there lots of repetition in it? Imelda may be small and pretty but you only have to tell us once, not in every paragraph. When you have checked for these errors in writing, read it a few times for spelling and grammatical errors. Read it out loud as well to hear how it sounds. If you find you can't stand to read your story more than a couple of times, it might be an indication that you need to do more work on it.

4. Be proud of your story. Try to make your work the best possible for that story before you submit it. It is all very well to send something out as soon as the rejection comes in, but that only works as long as you know your story is as good as you can make it. The same with getting feedback. It is wonderful when an editor goes to the time to comment on your work, but the only comments you want are 'I loved it!' and that they want to publish it. Put the work in to make sure you can stand by your story and the choices you made while writing it. Then, if it does get rejected, you can happily send it out to another publication knowing that you have done nothing wrong and the market that rejected you was just full up at the time.

5. Act professionally. Format your story correctly, follow guidelines, include your name and address in your cover letter, write a concise and polite letter with your submission. If you are rejected, let it go and move on to the next. Never contact the editor and try to change their mind. If they ask for a rewrite or say they were interested in a part of your story that wasn't fully explored, do work on your story and resubmit as quickly as possible, don't procrastinate. If you haven't heard back from a market in a long time, query them but remember to keep it professional. Thank them for their correspondence with you. If you always behave professionally and respectfully you are more likely to get acceptances, even if you start off with rejections. There is no better way to get blacklisted than to be rude and aggressive.
Finally, DON'T KEEP A REJECTION FILE. I have learned this the hard way. There is nothing more depressing than to read a pile of rejection letters. Keep focused on the positives. Keep a file of your acceptance letters, make a note of your rejections and then chuck the letters.
Also, I know I focused more on the short story market, but the same advice goes for novels and articles.
Good luck and happy writing!