Oh goodness me, I have been away for AGES…! Last time I wrote on here it was sweltering and now it’s rainy and quite chilly. Autumn is a-coming…
But, on the plus side, my local swimming pool and tennis club have re-opened and from Monday I’ll be teaching two of my classes, which didn’t run at all last term, on Zoom.
Plus, I’ve got a workshop booked in for later this month. Yes, I’m definitely ‘back to school’!
It’s still not quite ‘normal’ but it’s certainly better than a few months ago. How are things going for you?
The reason for my absence (during which time, the wall was finally finished! It was supposed to take 6 weeks and it took 3 months. But I know all about things taking longer than you think they will!) is that I’ve been beavering away on my submission for the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writers’ Scheme (try saying that when you’ve had a glass of wine).
As you may or may not remember, last year I completely missed the deadline and didn’t send anything, so I was determined not to do that again.
The romance genre is often belittled, even though it’s one of the most popular genres for readers (and probably because it’s mostly written and read by women). The RNA (founded in 1960 and with around 1000 members) was founded to ‘celebrate and demand respect for romantic fiction’ and if you think that means Mills & Boon, think again.
These novels – all by men – are about relationships and love (amongst other things) and would definitely qualify as romantic fiction and I’m sure you can think of many more:
• The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks)
• One Day (David Nicholls)
• About a Boy (Nick Hornby)
• Anna Karenina (Tolstoy)
• Brideshead Revisited (Evelyn Waugh)
• The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)
• The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)
• The Rosie Project (Graeme Simsion)
So… (*gets off soapbox*).. how did I get on, with my 31st August deadline?
Well, I didn’t send a finished manuscript but I did send a ‘partial’ (which is allowed! Hurrah!) of 52,000 words plus a 2-page synopsis.
As I was a last-minuter, it will be a while until I get my critique back (probably November time!) but that’s fine. Now I can catch up with all the things that I haven’t been doing (like hoovering).
If you want to know more about the RNA and specifically the New Writers’ Scheme, have a look here.
On a completely different note, Erewash Writers have some free writing competitions (and one paying competition) which might be of interest. Details here.
There’s a fabulous opportunity for would-be magazine journalists. You’ve got until 6th November to apply, so if you fancy a 2-week paid internship in London, working on one of the top magazines – there are 7 places – take a look. This would have been my dream job once-upon-a-time, so if it’s yours – go for it!
Do you buy too many books? I have got into a terrible habit of buying sooo many 99p Kindle book deals (because you can just download them with a click of the mouse! It’s too easy). When am I ever going to get time to read them all? Eek. It’s stressing me out.
There is a Japanese word for buying more books than you can read: tsundoku. Doku comes from a verb that can be used for “reading,” while tsun “to pile up.” The ol’ piling up of reading things. Are you someone who practises tsundoku?
And finally… I had friends over for (socially-distanced) lunch yesterday and I had planned to make a lemon drizzle cake BUT I ran out of time and this is as far as I got….which for some reason they found hilarious.
Excellent blog post Helen! Sounds like it’s been full on busy for you. I really enjoy catching up with your news.
Regarding your Zoom workshops, are they for anyone or just your local group?
Hi Maria, thanks for your comment. Any one can sign up for the Zoom workshops but you do need to sign up for the whole term (it’s £80 for 10 weeks, so £8 a session). There’s a group from 10.30 – 12.30 or 1pm – 3pm, on Mondays. Have a look on the Chipping Norton Theatre website. I think you can book on-line or via the booking office but if you’ve got any questions, send me a DM on Twitter or email me! Thanks https://www.chippingnortontheatre.com/whats-on/creative-writers-autumn-term
Hello again, Helen! Glad to hear the novel submission went well. As for cake… I’ve had a go at Mug Cakes (long story – oven broken, among other domestic derangements) but the upside is that aforementioned MCs only take about 2 minutes!! Just the thing if pushed for time.
Thanks Penny! I have heard of mug cakes – you reminded me! But I’ve never tried one. I’l have to give it a go!
I take some comfort from your lemon drizzle cake, Helen. We baked our Christmas cake in early November (2019) but didn’t manage to ice it until March 2020.
Ha! That sounds like my kind of cake baking! So you didn’t eat it all over Christmas?!
Good luck with your manuscript!
Lemon Drizzle Cake is vastly over-rated in my opinion. Too sugary!
Rosemary, it IS very sugary and… oh goodness, the stuff it’s got in it. Practically a whole packet of butter and FOUR eggs… as well as sugar and flour. I know cakes aren’t healthy but lemon drizzle cake is, I fear, particularly bad! (delicious though)