Not sure if Fashion Circles is the kind of book you’d enjoy? Wondering if it would make a suitable present for that difficult-to-buy-for person on your Christmas list? Here’s a short question and answer session to explain a little more about it.
No, of course I didn’t forget our wedding anniversary. Yes, I did have to do a quick bit of mental arithmetic to work out what number it was! But who’s counting? The important thing is that we’re still together – and still want to be.
The secret of a happy marriage? I don’t consider myself an expert, but I’m sure tolerance and not having unrealistic expectations of the other person play a big part.
Here’s a slightly edited version of a post I wrote on the subject for my old blog. It’s still true today.
When I first tried to get a story published in a women’s magazine, my husband was completely supportive.
Good idea! Why not? Yes, go for it!
So I did. And when the rejections arrived he was very encouraging.
Never mind, don’t give up. Send it to someone else.
And when I received my first acceptance he seemed as pleased as me.
Well done! I knew you could do it!
But when that first story appeared in print I was puzzled by his non-reaction. He glanced at my name in the magazine when I pointed it out, but made no attempt to read the story. I was a bit disappointed but assumed he would read it later when he had time to give it his full attention. I left the magazine on the coffee table and waited … and waited …
The same thing happened with my next published story, and the next. He was enthusiastic enough about me writing, but clearly wasn’t interested in reading the finished product. I began to suspect he had secretly read some of my work and didn’t think it was any good. Was he keeping quiet to spare my feelings?
The penny finally dropped one evening when he came home from work and started telling me how he’d solved a problem with some sub-standard concrete. (He was a materials engineer in road construction.)
Gosh, that was clever of you! How fascinating!
I did listen to what he was saying, and tried to nod in the right places, but he might as well have been speaking double Dutch with a bit of Chinese thrown in.
It was only then that I understood he had the same problem with my writing. He knew it was important to me, so tried to take an interest, but he rarely read fiction of any kind and the world of women’s magazines was completely alien to him. If a magazine accepted one of my stories that proved it was good, didn’t it? There was nothing else he could say.
When he – very reluctantly – retired, I wondered what he would do all day. Would he expect me to retire too, and spend all my time with him? What on earth would we find to talk about?
I needn’t have worried. Although we’re both at home all day, we still ‘go to work’ separately, and when we meet up we have plenty to discuss. I tell him how my writing or art is progressing, and he explains how he helped a friend with their computer problem or spent all afternoon tinkering with his beloved sports car.
He does know more about writing now (he’s even read some of my stories!) and I’ve learnt at least the basics of how computer viruses and car engines work, but the main thing we have in common is that we’re both happy knowing the other person is happy doing their own thing. Which is probably why we’ve made it through another year.
Are you and your significant other like peas in a pod, or as different as chalk and cheese?
Have you ever learned poetry by heart? Was it a pleasure, or a pain?
A very belated Happy New Year to you!
Yes, I know I should have posted this nearly a whole month ago but I’ve had lots of other demands on my time - mostly good, exciting things I’m happy to report.
In the real world, husband and I have been busy ticking off items on our ideal home and garden wish list. So far we’ve got a lovely, new kitchen, have redecorated some of the other rooms, put lots of shelves in the garage for ‘his’ workshop, added a small greenhouse and shed to ‘my’ back garden, and re-designed the front garden. Still lots to do but we aren’t giving ourselves any deadlines.
It hasn’t been all work. We’ve also allowed ourselves plenty of days off to explore some of the towns, villages and beautiful countryside in this part of the world.
In my writing life, I decided to have a go at NaNoWriMo in November after giving it a miss for the past three years. As expected, I didn’t manage anything near the magic 50,000 words target but I did end up with some interesting new characters and a very rough outline of a story that might have the makings of a novella, so I’m hoping it wasn’t a completely wasted month of frantically scribbling nonsense.
2018 ended on an encouraging note with one of my short stories being long-listed for the Bedford Writing Competition. It’s one I’m particularly fond of so I gave it a few little tweaks and sent it straight off to another competition. Fingers crossed again!
I’ve also dusted off an abandoned children’s novel, decided it’s not all as bad as I thought, and have nearly finished a revised first draft. It still needs some ruthless editing before I even think of showing it to anyone, but I’m quietly pleased with it – so far.
And this year?
Lots of things I would like to do but my only firm New Year resolution is not to have an impossibly long to-do list. It's too stressful! Instead, I’ve adopted a new motto:
Let’s just see what happens, shall we?
How do you write a book cover blurb? When I needed one for Fashion Circles I made the mistake of looking through my bookshelves for inspiration - and cringed at some of the exaggerated claims I found there.
This book will make you laugh and cry, one novel promised. Really? I remembered some amusing scenes that might have raised a smile but I hadn’t shed a single tear.
A crime story assured me it would keep me guessing right to the last devious twist, so how had I managed to work out whodunnit by the end of the third chapter? Historical sagas would sweep me away (they didn’t), every thriller was terrifying (nope), and as for the sensational masterpiece by a famous author - well, I’d found it so boring that I gave up halfway through.
Of course I want people to read my little book, but how to attract readers without actually lying to them? My first attempt at an honest blurb went something like this:
That’s not going to sell many copies, is it?
In the end I decided not to make any claims - false or modest - about the quality of the book. Instead, I tried to give a rough idea of what the stories are about so potential readers can decide if they're the kind of tales they might like.
All I have to do now is wait and see if it works.
What’s the most outrageous book blurb you’ve ever read?
writer, reader, dreamer,
wildlife watcher, walker, gardener,
optimist, lover of life,
I wouldn't dream of stealing your words or pictures so please don't take mine.
But I'm happy to share if you ask first!