Writing

Heritage: The Anthology…


Each year students on the MA course at the University of Gloucestershire create an anthology of the university’s best new writing. The search for new stars has just been launched! The only restriction on authors is that they should be either present or past students of the University of Gloucestershire. Here’s the call for submissions—please pass the word on to any qualifying writers you may know…

Selling ideas as well as words…

Heritage. What does it mean to you? Family, identity, history… or something more?

The 2019 UOG Creative Writing Anthology – Heritage: New Writing VIII – is inviting submissions from Monday 4th February to Friday 8th March 2019. Prose, poetry and creative non-fiction pieces on the theme of ‘Heritage’ will be considered from all students and alumni of the University of Gloucestershire.

Stratford—full of heritage, especially for writers! (Pic via Pixabay)

For more info and details, visit https://uniofglos.blog/creativewri…/anthology/2019-heritage/ and email submissions to heritageanthology@gmail.com

Good luck!

A ripe lemon
Blog, Food

Oranges and Lemons…

I use home-grown lemons in cooking all the time

This has been a great year for fruit. One Mothering Sunday, my daughter presented me with a little Meyer lemon tree. That was the start of an ever-growing collection of citrus trees, all grown in pots.

My collection isn’t keen on English weather, so I keep them in the greenhouse between September and May. Each summer, I wheel them outside in their tubs and line them up in the fresh air and sunshine.

We had some good crops from my first lemon tree until a cold, soggy winter finished it off. The atmosphere inside the greenhouse made it rot. Its successor had almost sixty fruits on it this year. Lemon curd made with eggs from our hens is a lovely deep yellow colour, and much better than the so-called lemon curd sold in shops.

As well as a lemon tree, I have a Tahiti lime, and a Seville orange. I bought a small yuzu bush earlier this year, but that’s still got some growing to do before it produces fruit.
There’s only one ripe orange on my tree, so I’ll have to buy some more Sevilles this year if I want to make marmalade!

Our Tahiti lime is fruiting for the first time. Like all the other citrus family it’s worth growing for its fragrant flowers but we’re getting plenty of fruit, too. I used some to make  Key Lime Pie from Tesco’s recipe, although as our plant isn’t a Key Lime, I called ours Tahiti Lime Pie. It was very easy to make, absolutely delicious but it did my post-Christmas diet no good at all. 

Here’s a Pixabay shot of Key Lime Pie. My effort looked the same, but the presentation here is so pretty I used this photo instead. 

Have you ever grown anything exotic?


Blog, New Year's Resolutions

My New Year’s Resolution…

…is to get down to 9 stone 7lb by my next birthday, which is in May.

Sad to say, those fine words were 2018’s New Year Resolution, too. And 2017, and….well, you can guess the rest. 

Each year I make the same vow. I always fall off the wagon, on or around January 12th. But in 2019 things are going to be different.

All that’s missing is the cake…

It’s easy to be optimistic when the New Year is still a few days away, but I have an extra weapon in my armoury for my next attempt. I’ll be playing mind games.

Back in February, I reviewed Paul McKenna’s Instant Confidence system (you can read more about that here).

I was very sceptical, but McKenna’s method worked so well for me that within a few months I’d stopped wishing and wondering, and signed up for a university course. As you’ll know if you’ve been following my blog, I’m now having a great time as a student at the University of Gloucestershire.

After that big success, I decided to try another of Paul McKenna’s systems. I’ve been trying (and failing) to lose baby weight since the beginning of this century. As Son Number One is now at university too, you’ll realise I haven’t had much success. If anything, I’ve been gradually putting on weight.

In hope rather than expectation, yesterday I bought McKenna’s I Can Make You Thin. I wondered about waiting until January 1st to try it out, because all the party food would have been eaten by then. There wouldn’t be so much temptation lying around. Then I thought about all the weight I’d put on in the rush to finish the post-Christmas leftovers by midnight on 31st December.

It would be a miracle if this book could stop me hoovering up food at this time of year. I decided to give it a try.

That was 24 hours ago. Since opening I Can Make You Thin, I’ve spring-cleaned the kitchen without stopping for a snack (or two, or three…). Last night, I ate only two-thirds of my home-made pizza. The weirdest thing of all is that I binned some of my porridge and fresh-fruit at breakfast this morning.

The ultimate temptation…

Me? Leaving some breakfast? That has never been known in my lifetime.

There are only two possible reasons for this. I’m either coming down with the bug that’s going round the village…or Paul McKenna is heading for another success.

It’s too early to say which it is, but there’s plenty of time for the novelty of McKenna’s system to wear off before New Year has even begun. Whatever happens I’ll keep you updated, so come back soon to see how I’m getting on!

Blog, Christmas

Six Ways To Beat Loneliness This Christmas…

1. Donate your time

Take a bag of non-perishable items to your local homeless shelter or food bank. Scented soap and other simple toiletries are a luxury when you’re in need.

2. Visit a neighbour

Invite them into your home if they would otherwise be alone. The worst that can happen is that they say ‘no’—and they may have been waiting for someone like you to make the first move.

3. Go for a walk 

Fresh air and exercise makes everyone feel better. And you never know who you might meet when you’re out and about. This is Alex!

4. Take up a craft 

Keeping your hands and mind busy with baking or other crafts produces useful results. One of the trees in our Christmas tree festival was decorated from top to bottom with delicate snowflakes crocheted in fine thread. It looked stunning.

5. Gardening

Even in mid-winter you can grow micro greens, cress and sprouting seeds on your windowsill. Within a week or two you’ll be harvesting your own salads and sandwich fillings

6. Feed the Birds

A windowsill feeder will bring life and movement close. Commercial feed mixes, fat balls, small amounts of finely grated cheese and well soaked, chopped raisins are all good.

Whether you are spending Christmas alone or with family and friends, I hope you have a lovely time. What will you be doing this year? Let me know by leaving a comment below!


Blog, non-fiction

Finding A Publisher For Your Non-Fiction Project

In a perfect world you’d have a signed contract for your work before you started writing. The life of a writer isn’t usually that simple. Novels need to be finished before you approach a publisher. I didn’t know this when I wrote my first published contemporary romance, The Italian Billionaire’s Virgin. I sent the publisher my first three chapters and a synopsis as soon as I’d finished writing them. When they replied asking to see the complete manuscript, I still had half a dozen chapters to write! 

It’s a bit different if you want to write non-fiction. You can pitch your idea before you’ve finished the book—you can find out more about the process here. It means planning down to the last detail to produce what is in effect a business plan, but there’s nothing like a publisher showing some interest to give a project wings. 

Photo by energepic.com on Pexels.com

Start by studying the type of book you want to write. Read as many as you can to get a feel for the style and content. Make a note of how many words are in each book, and how many chapters. Publishers like submissions that are close in size and style to the work they already publish. They want more of the same…but different. If you ask them what this means, they’ll say, “We know what we want when we see it.” That great catch-all statement allows them to snap up both the obscure and lengthy and the short and snappy, but for a first attempt play it safe. Make sure your manuscript conforms.

For further clues, get hold of a current copy of The Writer’s and Artist’s Yearbook. It’s the writer’s bible, listing the details of literary agents and publishers throughout the UK.

It has helpful articles about the writing business, too. There are pieces in the 2019 edition about crowdfunding your novel, how to become a poet and writing a cook book, so there’s something for everyone.

If you don’t have an agent, make a list of publishers who will accept submissions from unagented authors. Visit their websites, and narrow down your list to include only those who publish books like your prospective project. There’s no point sending your self-help manual to a company that only deals with botanical text books.

Once you’ve produced a shortlist, study their requirements for submission. You can get a good idea of what the individual editors like to see by following their posts on Facebook and Twitter. Give them exactly what they want, and if your idea hits the spot, you’ll be a winner!

Publishers are deluged with manuscripts. After the holiday break I’ll be showing you how to make your manuscript stand out from the crowd. To find out how to automatically give your submission the edge over 90% of other writers, follow this blog!