It’s been a week of ups and downs. The Colchester Christmas Fayre was fairly unproductive – I learnt that people wanted cheap and cheerful, but not hand made things with precious stones; all of my children’s things went very well, but the adult bits were nearly untouched. Ah well, there’s always the Oyster Fayre.
To cheer things up, I went out to dinner with friends, only to have the worst dining experience since Denny’s in Hawaii didn’t serve what I ordered (and I got old rubber chicken). All I’ll say is don’t waste your time at Pasha’s in Colchester – even the olives were dire and more chewy than that rubber chicken previously mentioned. We left the restaurant hungry and went to finish our meal in Manningtree (the chocolate monster saves the day again – thank you Julie at The Crown for such a yummy invention).
Yet, with every cloud…
I’m now very proud to say that I’m part of the on-line sensation knowonder! magazine (www.knowonder.com). Part of the permanent writing team, I’ll be sending them three children’s stories a month – I’ve got a few in the pipeline, but I’m very happy that my writing will reach a wider audience.
Must dash, have some writing to do :)
Saturday, 17 December 2011
Sunday, 4 December 2011
Or should I say Saturnalia? Or perhaps Yule? I love a good celebration, especially when food is involved, so I do think it’s important to celebrate them all… Ah, the feasts of Saturnalia!
It has been a while since my last blog… too long in fact, but I have been busy. No information on the upcoming book by Cold Moon Press, or even a contract yet, but I know they’ll get around to it as soon as they can. Meanwhile, I’m trying not to get too itchy with impatience as I am more thrilled about that anthology than I have been about all the others put together. Maybe it’s because I’ll be featured with one of my favourite authors AND one of my favourite poets.
No word as of yet from agent or publisher over my historical teen novel, Blood Tide. I think I’ll whack the book up on Create Space and have a copy printed off for my grandmother for Christmas (this is the time when I should have heard back if it were to be an acceptance) and one for me on my bookshelf and then move on to something new.
I do keep thinking that I’ll give writing a rest and just focus on making jewellery, but then I end up typing something out. My friend and assistant editor for Wyvern threw me a line for a new outlet for my writing and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that my work will be accepted. It’s a part-time writer’s post (one story a week) for the e-zine Knowonder! and for the application I needed to whack out a few more stories for younger children. It was good fun and I got a chance to write about dragons, winged bunnies, Vikings and chocolate cake.
Anyway, my first experience as a market trader is coming up soon – on the same day I make a public debut as a Tudor dancer. Gulp! My dress is just needing some very fine tuning and my jewellery is priced up and packed away for the day. December 14th is the day – Colchester Castle Park 3-8:30 (dancing is at 7pm in the castle and then again at 7:45).
Saturday, 22 October 2011
Walking Down the Moon is the working title of the anthology by Cold Moon Press that I was so eager to get into. I’d prepped a short story – one that had been a flash fiction inspired on a full moon’s night – but something shouted at me POEM! I still can’t believe it was accepted :)
The Fangtales launch was last night. Our numbers were low, but with the arrival of chocolate cake, that wasn’t really a bad thing. Three authors gave beautiful readings and then David Turnbull asked if I was going to do one (gasp!). So I gave my first reading of one of my short stories (well, the beginning of it) and I tried not to let my voice quaver. No heckling thank goodness, but that could have been because I was armed with condiments and could have fought back in a very messy way.
If anyone is interested in copies, I have a few in stock or have a peep at amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Fangtales-Berni-Stevens/dp/0956036368/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1319342681&sr=1-1
I’ve still got to sort it out on the sidebar here, but I’m conserving time and energy so I can upload Fangtales, the moon anthology, and the angel anthology all at the same time.
On another scribble, I’ve had my second rejection of Blood Tide – well, it was more of a ‘we’re not taking on any more people, despite claiming we were on our website, but hey, don’t blame us, the tekkie’s didn’t update it in time’ rejection. I have one more agent to hear from and also one last publisher to hear from (who states I should know one way or another within ten weeks) before I put the story to rest for a while and work on something new.
I’ve found the best time to write is at four AM before anybody else wakes up. So if my words seem a bit more jumbled than usual, that’s why. But perhaps it will allow for more creativity…
Thursday, 18 August 2011
We’ve been in our house for nearly nine years. We expected perhaps three – it was too small for us when we moved in, but it was all we could afford. We’ve been here so long that when the market crashed, we’d still make a fab profit if it sold. Which, of course, it didn’t when we put it up for sale last year (we had a baby on the way and she wouldn’t fit under my writing desk no matter how many times I tried to visualise it).
‘Oh, nice,’ said the buyers when they were here. The words in their expressions said, ‘Holy CR*P, when was the last time this was redecorated?’
‘Nine years,’ was my wordless expression. One man even patted me on the back after I told him – ‘Well done.’ As if living in the same home for more than a season was warrant to some medal of honour. Well, we had outstayed three sets of neighbours on each side of us.
For those who’ve been kind enough to read my previous entries, you’ll know that we didn’t move in the end – we built a conservatory (now my writing room, café, and library; aka, the junk room, albeit a lovely junk room). But that still leaves lemon coloured walls on the landing and entry hall – we didn’t paint it, but inherited the overly cheerful colour which is now looking a bit worn and marked. Not to mention the bathroom (groan) and kitchen (not too bad if you ignore the blue painted doors and stars and moon motif – one of the things which endeared me to the house when we moved in was that it reminded me of a beach hut).
We need to address these problems. My writing income over the past few months has been more than a little sad. Even with suite101 still paying me royalties for the articles I stopped writing over a year ago – the bestseller has still yet to find an agent. Jewellery making is all well and good, but the Christmas Faire still has many months to wait before I can sell my wares at it. Not that we’re hurting, but the yellow walls are starting to hurt my eyes and the bathroom… well, let’s not talk about what needs doing there.
I’ve been scrolling through B&Q bathroom suites to get some ideas – and cringing. It all looks so cheap – even the posh websites. Made to last until the next resident want to ‘do it over’. The house that my mum uses as her art studio in California has the same fittings from when it was built (or re-built after it was knocked to bits during ‘the big quake’). Things from the Arts and Crafts Movement were really meant to last and in my opinion, never go out of style. No disposable income or lifestyle back then!
Which begs the question: now that people are hard hit with recession belt tightening, will rubbish disposable kitchens and bathrooms be a thing of the past? Probably not as it involves a real investment of money. ‘Put in rubbish and let the next tenant deal with it when it breaks’ seems to be the motto of home renovation. But I’m itching to put real wood cabinets up in the kitchen (rather than particle/chipboard that soaks up moisture, sags and grows mould) and a roll top bath in the bathroom.
Maybe when the book reaches the six figure contract. One can dream…
Monday, 18 July 2011
Ah, it’s sunny, no, it’s stormy, wait… it’s changing again… Okay, so the weather seems to be mimicking my to-do list this week. I’ve only finished about a third of my short story for cold moon press. I’m loving writing it, but I keep getting distracted by things like jewellery making, weaning babies, new chickens, press releases for Wyvern, and the other random distraction like going into Tindalls craft shop and deciding that I really can gold leaf items professionally even though the last time I tried, the end result was appalling.
So I need to focus. I will finish the short story… But first, I’ll submit my poem to them. Yes, I broke down and really did it. After years of not doing poetry I was struck with the muse – it attacked with vigour and the end result is probably very laughable, but it’s going to get sent out anyway. Then I’ll finish my story. Really.
Not that finishing the story means it will get accepted. I’d been spoilt last year with so many yeses from anthologies that I’m still trying to take in not being accepted into Pill Hill’s Holiday Horror Massacre. Was it not bloody enough? Were the scenes of blood and flaying of humans not dark enough to secure my place in the bloody anthology (not cursing, just describing). I’ve not heard back so I assume it’s a no if they say they’ll get back to authors by the 15th of July.
At least things are going smoothly with the little Vlad impersonator. She still tries to suck my neck, but the fangs have not yet come out, despite the constant hand-chewing and saliva dripping. And we went to the St Botolph’s event in Colchester and got a Victorian photo done. I did try not to laugh, but the curatorial team were all bouncing behind the camera, trying to get her to look at them and smile.
Other than that, it’s been chickens this and chickens that. Poppy is being a real terror to the newbies and getting Ruby (head chick) to chase them. Star hides in the corner and because Gemima puts on a bold face, they go for her every time. Poppy is in a separate pen now and just watches as the other three get along like a girl group. Hopefully she’ll calm down in a couple of days and we can re-integrate her with the rest.
My medieval dress is nearly finished but what I’m really excited about is my Elizabethan posh dress that should be finished in August. I’ve already made the pearl necklace which has passed the authenticity test (hoorah). Once my dresses are finished, I’ll post dates and venues of events I’ll be doing. Should be fun as long as the weather behaves…
Wednesday, 22 June 2011
Sadly, I've had to remove one of my 'published in' books as it was supposed to be released last year and due to illness on the team, the book has not only been postponed, but possibly cancelled. I'm gutted about this because it was my first ever acceptance for a short fiction.
On an upper note, I'll be finding a new home for the tale after some re-edits and sending it out this week to new publishers.
Speaking of publishers, I've fallen in love. With Cold Moon Press and I am definately submitting something to their upcoming anthology: http://coldmoonpress.com/walkingdowntheskyv1.html
I'm not sure what yet... I may attempt a poem - something I used to be told I was good at but never believed. I was published in a poem anthology when I was a teen but for some reason, I didn't take it seriously!
I've popped up a photo of one of my recent creations - and I'll be selling this sort of strangeness at the Norwich Christmas Fayre if anyone is interested.
Tuesday, 21 June 2011
Well, so much for getting writing time – how long has it been since my last entry? Although, I managed to finish my Hacked Up Holiday submission for Pill Hill – my first hack-and-slash short story. I certainly had fun writing it and killing off all the characters. I’m suddenly struck by how much more fun it would have been to use my old schoolyard tormentors as the characters that kick the bucket, but maybe next time. What is writing, after all, other than fabulous therapy for all of life’s wrongs?
Life in general has been surprisingly fun, not least for the reason that my little vampire has begun giggling more and waking in the middle of the night less (hoorah). So the day to day grind is more like: wake up, rush to get food, relax with baby, have a good play with lots of smiles and cheeky grins, naptime for baby (and rush to either write or work on Wyvern… as you can tell, I’ve not had much writing time), then it’s manic again when she wakes.
Aside from writing the hack-and-slash, I’ve started a new novel – something completely different (yes, again. I will settle on a style when I have to, but for now it’s just too much fun to do a bit of everything). This one is… well, it will have to remain secret for now ;)
Time does keep slipping by. We were supposed to get two new chickens for our hen house and run as our egg supplies are dwindling now that Poppy has been suffering from Egg Drop Syndrome (well, ex batts have an excuse). After looking at all the breeds available locally, I’d settled on getting a Sussex White and Speckledy Hen, but the time just doesn’t seem right and I’ve had to re-lay lawn twice already due to the poor turf available at B&Q (keeps being half-dead when we unroll it at home).
To add to more distraction, I’ve joined a new re-enactment group that covers more than one time period, so I get to make several period dresses. My 1350’s dress that I’d used for Barley Hall in York is not about two sizes too small (I can’t believe I was ever that thin!) and luckily, I have the material handy for a new one – it was going to be my Viking outfit for Saebert’s Folk, but as they didn’t ‘do’ Vikings (odd, for a group within Vikings), I never had the chance to make it.
Off to write…
Monday, 18 April 2011
Ah, the chickens are nestled in the grass, sleeping with their wings out to the sun, the cat is snoozing on my bed and the baby is (finally, thank God) asleep. Just what I should be doing. And yet, I’m here at the computer blogging. How tragic :) It’s been a manic few months with very little writing having found its way out of my pen. Any spare moments have been used for keeping on top of my work at Wyvern Publications (the coming together of the anthology Fangtales and sorting out the final texts for the next Pixiefoot Press book, All in the Woods). I have a list of ‘must do’ and, although I’m getting to some of it, the bulk is being left behind. My story for the angel anthology has been edited thanks to some fabulous editing suggestions from the Bridge House editor, Debz – and I’m eternally grateful for being asked to dedicate my story to an angel in my life. Having had no doubts in my mind at all or even a moment’s hesitation, I’ve dedicated my story to my late Grandmother Elizabeth Gunn. I know she would have loved it! Having the angel story accepted was a great boost for this year and also a kick up the rear to get organized and on top of all the writing I’d intended on doing. The words of many friends and family echo back – “You’ll have lots of time with a new baby, all they do is sleep”. Of course, leave it to me to have a vampire baby who likes to be up at night, hates the daylight, garlic, crosses, and actually pulls her hand and arm around her mouth at feeding times in the same way Dracula does in the fabulous old Hammer Horror films. Sleep? Not usually – she’s too busy plotting how to take over the world. Little diva aside, I’ve got a plan (don’t laugh). One that should actually work this time. I’ve also got a new anthology to write for (fingers crossed I get it done in time). All works needing representation are going to be listed on this blog at the bottom of the page, and I’m going to make sure to send out at least one submission a fortnight (yes, not that much, but its all baby steps for now). New fiction may find its way onto the pages, but this year is going to be all about getting an agent (it was sooo close last year, I was even asked to resubmit something before I lost his attention). Wish me luck! And sleep… could really use some sleep right about now.
Wednesday, 12 January 2011
I've finished editing two books for other authors and now I can get back to my own writing (hoorah!). After having started National Picture Book Idea Month, I've got a good file of book outlines and one finished picture book that I really love and would love to see in print. Aside from the fact that picture books are a bit difficult to place (especially when you don't have the artist already finished, but that's a whole different kettle of rejections), I still feel positive about being able to send SOMETHING out.
Not only that, but there are about 3-4 other indy publishers who are taking subs for fabulous anthologies (mainly for adults) and I'm tempted to go back to 'a short story a week'. Or am I just turning into a short story whore? Maybe I should be spending my time submitting my historical teen fiction to agents? I should really balance the two out. Truly. And I will... just as long as I don't get distracted or end up with too much Wyvern Publication edits to do this month, or start making more chainmaille jewellery...
Enough ranting... here's how things have been in my neck of the woods which is just right for sitting indoors and writing (or editing, or updating websites, or making things). Okay, so the image placed itself at the top of the blog. Sigh.