So, the countdown to Christmas has begun. My blog header’s changed to the good old snowman, the SNOW has magically appeared, as it does every year from 1st December and the Bonnie calendars have just arrived from Vistaprint…
Yes, it’s sad but true, that every year we have a dozen or so calendars made, featuring a different photo of our dog for every month (chosen with so much care you’d think we were putting the Pirelli calendar together!) and they are distributed to ‘lucky’ friends, family and neighbours. They probably hate them (actually we know our neighbours don’t because they were the ones who urged us to do it again, after the inaugural one, which we did for a bit of a joke…) but never mind, it’s a tradition now and we can’t stop!
I’ve also got a couple of stories out – in the Christmas issue of Woman’s Weekly (double issue dated 29th Nov) and Take a Break’s Fiction Feast.
The Take a Break story, which I called ‘Donkey Work’ but they’ve changed to ‘Stage Fright’ is about a school nativity play. Not the most original of settings, you might think and certainly it’s taken a few years to find this story a home.
Shh, don’t tell anyone but I actually wrote it back in 2008! It was one of the first stories I sent to my (then new) writing buddy Sally Jenkins, when we used to swap our work fortnightly.
It was turned down by Take a Break in 2013 (and probably by other magazines before that but I’ve lost track) but accepted this year, after I jazzed it up a bit. Which just goes to show, never give up on a story that you like!
The WW story, on the other hand, was only written this year and was snapped up by WW (if that doesn’t sound too boasty boasty) just over a week after I sent it to them. The inspiration came from a headline I saw somewhere last Christmas – ‘Gold, Frankincense and Fur’. I loved that. And it gave me the idea for a story featuring a wedding ring, a character called Frank and a reluctant mum who’s landed with the school pets over the Christmas holiday.
Of course, it’s too late to submit Christmas stories to the magazines now but there’s nothing to stop you gathering ideas and inspiration for next year, with a view to submitting them from the summer onwards.
Linda Lewis (who’s had 51 womag stories accepted this year – so far! Amazing achievement), recommends watching lots of Christmas films (Channel 5 has a couple on every day at the moment) and – little tip from me – I have a file on my computer ‘Christmas Story Ideas’ into which I bung anything that I spot – half-formed ideas, puns and headlines, anecdotes, things that happen to me and friends.
Talking of which (not that this is necessarily a Christmas story idea but it is something that happened to me), on Thursday I went out for a few hours to the new writing group that I’m involved with (more about that soon) and forgot my mobile phones. (I have a work one and a personal one and they were both left on the side in the kitchen, where I’d been charging them).
Never mind, I thought, it’ll be fine… and guess what? Sod’s law and all that, I got a puncture! Those lovely men at KwikFit in Stratford helped me out again, by fitting a new tyre. This time there were no deer parts involved (only, ahem ‘dear parts’ because this time, of course, I paid them!).
Hope your Christmas is starting to rev up gently..…