Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Looking back and looking forward

Bit of a long post today, so grab a cuppa and settle in for an update!

Looking back...

I told you about my birthday, didn't I? Well, one of my presents was to go on an evening of glass working with the lovely Judith of The Creation Station. (I'd done some stained glass work - gosh! FOUR years ago! - and fancied trying my hand at making glass coasters this time)

Making glass and firing it in the kiln is very different to stained glass work; Judith explained that you can never tell 100% how a piece will turn out after firing, and that you have to learn to love bubbles in your finished work. There are many ways to make the coaster - we used bullseye glass, and you could sandwich other glass fragments, snipped rods, powders, flit or thin sheet copper between two layers of glass which, when fired in the kiln, would blend together as they melted and make the final piece.

To begin with, we practised cutting float glass. As you can see, it was a bit hit and miss as to whether I got a straight line or not!


Once I managed to do it fairly consistently, I was excited to get going on the coloured stuff - but my first problem was deciding on a colour theme. Just look at what we had to choose from...




There were so many colours - I tried to put together a rainbow, but apparently you don't get purple glass very often because it's very expensive: contains gold. So I ditched that idea and looked at shades of green, but still wasn't happy. Eventually I plumped for aqua and white, selecting a mixture of opaque and transparent fragments with the aim of cutting simple stripes.


Second problem. Could I cut the glass? Could I heck! There were a variety of different tools on offer, and I must've tried each one, but I couldn't seem to make the scratchy noise that told you you'd scored the glass well enough to snap it. I had felt reasonably confident on the float glass, but the coloured glass is slightly thicker and Judith also said that some glasses are harder to cut. (Made me feel better - could blame the glass, not my ability with the tools!) Anyway, eventually I had prepped my first coaster.


It took me so long to prep the first one, I panicked and did my second coaster in a terrible hurry. I found some iridescent glass fragments - the blue had textured ridges in it, too - and chopped them into little squares and strips and triangles.



Everyone did something different - here are all the designs laid out on kiln paper on the transporting boards.



The coasters were fired over the next few days, and returned to us. The results were not too bad at all.
Bubbles and stripes!
The striped one is my favourite - pretty square, not too many bubbles, good blend of colours. The slight wibble in the outside edge is because I wasn't too good at getting the strips to cut exactly the same length. The other is good for different reasons - it has a serious bubble issue! This makes it impossible to use as a coaster, but makes it beautifully tactile. Apparently it could have been because I used too much glue (we secured the pieces for transport with teensy dobs of PVA), or I'd not cleaned the glass properly (grease from fingers can have this effect) or it may have been just too big an air gap, that would not have happened if I'd added some chunks of clear glass in the gaps. Whatever happened, I like it! It sits by the TV and the iridescence catches the sun...

I realised two things about myself as a crafter at this session. One; I like immediate results. By which I mean that sending the coasters away to be fired and not knowing exactly how they would end up was not a pleasant feeling for me. Something to do with controlling the result, maybe? Perhaps that's why I knit or crochet or draw - you can see the piece building up, albeit slowly, and know what you're going to get at the end. Two; I'm a bit anal about patterns! I love to see random colourways and blends of patterns, but I am incapable of doing that myself and feeling comfortable about it. There has to be a certain amount of symmetry or balance in what I create...maybe that's why I wasn't entirely happy with the placement for the bubbly one.

I'd have loved a longer session, trying out the different effects you can get on coasters or jewellery pieces. Perhaps I'll try to persuade Judith to do a whole day? It'll give me a chance to get to grips with those tools and learn to cut properly.

So that's glass working. Next - the garden room. Last time I wrote about it, it was weather tight. Now, it has cladding, insulation, ventilation, and a floor. Still not completely finished - internal walls, electricity, some landscaping and finishing touches required - but it IS useable. 

We've also treated ourselves to a new patio set (the old one was about ten years or more old and very, very broken!) which goes really well colourwise with the cedar cladding on the front. Best bit of it though is that it's a collapsible table, which means it won't take up much space for storage when it's folded down, but we can have just half of it up and push it against a wall inside the garden room to give me a table for typing on. Assuming I ever get in there to write...



And then there was Mountfest. This is the annual PSA (Parents and Staff, as opposed to the more usual Parents and Teachers) Garden Party, which is one of the biggest fundraisers for Mountfields School, where I used to work and still help out as a volunteer librarian. the school. I was given the opportunity of having a table for my books, which seemed like a good idea, because the children know me through my work in the library and my love of stories already. Perhaps there'd be a few sales, though from past experience I know that people don't come to these garden parties with lots of money.

Anyway, I set up the stall (old sari bunting rather than the rainbow flags because I've obviously put my rainbow bunting somewhere really safe - I couldn't find it!) with my books and a Granny Rainbow treasure map game;


For the game, basically, Granny had lost her potions and if you chose the same square that Mr Squidge had (answer in a sealed envelope which I didn't see beforehand!) then you won a jar of rainbow sweets. If you look closely, you'll see all the pictures had something to do with a Granny Rainbow story...although as one eagle-eyed Phoebe told ma "The frog should be pink!" Put that down to colouring too late at night. There's one thing that WASN'T in a story; the squirrel is the school's logo. You can also see why I didn't illustrate the books - my violin is shocking, and apparently I draw 'angry cats'!


I only sold four books, but there were some interesting conversations with members of staff who didn't realise I wrote, and with children who'd moved on from Mountfields but still remembered Granny Rainbow. It's all about being seen, isn't it? I raised a little bit of money for the school, too, so it was all good.

So all of that's stuff which has happened. Looking forward, then...

On Friday, I will be at the launch of the Leicester Writes Short Story Prize Anthology, reading from my longlisted story 'The Pink Feather Boa Incident.' The anthology has twenty stories in it, and there are some real corkers. You can buy copies of the book here on Dahlia Publishing's site.


Then it'll be a family holiday, followed by The Kitchen. After twenty five years in this house, we are having a new kitchen! Which is all very exciting, but at the moment I'm having a minor panic because I'd set my heart on having pale grey unit doors, but all the colours we've received as samples so far are brown and way too dark...

Blog posts may be few and far between over the next month or so, but I'll do my best to keep in touch! 

Monday, 26 June 2017

Kingstone, out in the wild

I am prepping a blog for the Scribbles, and it's going to be a big one! In the meantime, here's a link to Bedazzled Ink's blog post, where they hunted out copies of Kingstone in the wild...

Think Casey and Claudia did a bit of sneaky 'face-out' rearranging!

Looks to be in some good company...

For fellow authors, it makes for interesting reading when finding out why Barnes and Noble have chosen the apparently random stores across the US to stock the book in...

And while you read that, I'll carry on prepping my blogabout the garden room, glasswork, a garden party...and anything else I can think of!

Catch you later.

Squidge x

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Half a century old

Last week, I was fifty.

I wasn't bothered by it - age is just a number, after all - but it was a funny old day.

For a start, I had hormones. Yes, I know we all have them, but at a certain time in a lady's life, we get even more of the little blighters. So a fair chunk of my birthday was spent tearful and emotional, which made everyone think I was upset about the big 5-0, when it was simply my body choosing the worst possible moment for an outbreak of hormonal angst.

Secondly, it's exam season here and both Squidgelings are in the thick of it, so no huge celebratory get-togethers planned for the sake of revision. Squidgeling T had an exam in the morning, so all presents were delayed until he got home just before lunch. In the meantime I went shopping, made a couple of appointments, and opened some cards.

I had suggested that it would be perfectly okay for folks not to buy me anything, because I am very blessed and didn't need anything. But, as is the way, I was treated to lots of goodies from various friends and family who decided to spoil me on my 'big' birthday;


Basket of rainbow flowers, supplied by the lovely
Madeline's Gifts and Flowers

Gardening featured...and yes, that is a basket of chocolate frogs

Of course there were books...to read and to write in

New cycling gloves after the old ones perished (only lasted me twenty seven years)
a personalised bracelet with my name - spelled correctly!
rainbow mat, and my super startled sheep.

Other presents arrived over the course of the day - a writer's toolkit, a hamper from our financial consultant, potful of cornflowers, a pottery heart, beautifully scented lavender and bay candle, and a 'vintage' t-shirt which states '1967 - all original parts' on the front!

Family Squidge went out for lunch at The Griffin Inn, Swithland. I don't usually take pictures of my food, but I ate the best lamb dish I have ever tasted. I swear there was half a sheep on my plate... Lunch was definitely the highlight of my day. So nice to spend time with my family, eating good food and having a laugh in lovely surroundings.

Birthday drinks - the wine glass isn't really THAT ginormous!

Half a rather delicious lamb...

Family Squidge

All told, it was a pretty low key day, really. I don't feel any different - in fact I feel a lot better than I did, because the hormones have made themselves scarce for the moment! - I don't look any different, (I'm already grey!) and life isn't any different to what it was before.

Except that I'm fifty.

Or - as one person put it - twenty five for the second time.

Hey ho. Here's to my Fabulous Fifties, and whatever comes next.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Supporting Stories for Homes 2

Just to say that my short story - Potato Soup - written in support of the second Stories for Homes anthology (due to be published later this year) is now LIVE on the SfH website.

Follow this link to find it with the rest of the online anthology. There will be more to follow in time...

If it makes you feel all homey and warm, why not try making your own potato soup? There's a good recipe here, on BBC Food.

Picture from the recipe on the BBC site.

And please, support Shelter too, the housing and homelessness charity who are the reason SfH came into being...




Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Giveaway of Kingstone

If you haven't already ordered a copy of Kingstone, then how's about entering the goodreads giveaway for a chance to win one of three signed copies?

Just follow the link...




Goodreads Book Giveaway


Kingstone by Katherine Hetzel

Kingstone

by Katherine Hetzel


Giveaway ends June 14, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.


Enter Giveaway

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Aaaand...Publish!

Happy Publication Day to you,
Happy Publication Day to you,
Happy Publication Day, dear Kiiiingstoooone
Happy Publication Day to you!





Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Reunited... and a blast from the past

Yesterday, I met up with some friends from my schooldays, who I had not seen since I was eighteen.

That was thirty two years ago. Eeek!

We had a great time catching up with each others' lives and reminiscing about our time at Limehurst High School and Burleigh Community College. And we're going to have to do it all again soon, as one of our little group had to cancel at the last minute because of poorly offspring.

The best thing about meeting up after so long was that I was forced to look through my keepsake boxes for photos and momentos from that time; my mum always carefully clipped articles out of the local rag if we were in them, and saved programmes from school events, reports etc etc.

Here's a newspaper cutting of the Limehurst Award winners of 1981...


I'm the one on the front row with her head helpfully circled (!); Muninder is on the second row, directly over my right shoulder; Helen is on the far right of the second row, and Penny is on the third row back, fourth in from the left.

We sat trying to put names to faces on this picture - I can remember a lot of them, but not all...Reman, Sally, Adrienne, Elizabeth, Pauline, Stephanie, Michelle, Lyn, another Helen, Bridget...

Helen and I were both at primary school together too, as demonstrated in this rather wonderful pic from a school production, where we were beggars. (We worked out it wasn't the one where we sang Beatles' songs, but I cannot for the life of me remember what this one was about!)



Back row (L to R): Tracey, Deborah, Mark, Samantha, Anne
Front row (L to R): Helen, Helen, yours truly and Alex

Then there was this one. 



I can only assume it was a music group or choir-y photo, because some of the folks have recorders. Goodness only knows why I was pulling the face I am... third in from the right on the front row (again). Helen's third in from the left on the same row. This one also has lots of my neighbours and friends too - Marianne, Rebecca, Catharine, Steve, Elizabeth, Mark. Wonder where they all are now?

There's also a rather fetching pic of me in a wimple, singing. I seem to recall I had to sing Greensleeves in the local park. Heaven alone knows why.



Anyway... You know I mentioned Mum kept all our school reports? I found my Holywell junior ones (that's Y3-6 in modern terms) and had a laugh over what the teachers had written - especially about my creative writing. Take a look...

1975:

'Her creative writing is imaginative and carefully expressed with colourful descriptions and good vocabulary.'

'Katherine works hard but fairly slowly.' (in Maths)

'She works hard and responds well in PE and seems to enjoy herself.'

1976:

'Her spelling and vocabulary are extremely good. She puts these to good use in her creative writing, which is always lively and interesting, and sustained at length.' (Teacher speak for 'she doesn't half go on!?)

'Katherine has a very fine singing voice, and a good sense of rhythm, and thoroughly enjoys music.'

1977:

'Creative English has been outstanding...She is able to express feelings and details and shows a sympathy for her characters. She writes lengthy stories...and her work is most enjoyable to read.'

'PE is more difficult for her. She is slight and has no great strength, but she does well in gymnastics. Games lessons she does not enjoy.' (I hated PE with a vengeance!)

'She enjoys making dramatic statements which produce a howl of protest from the class and enjoys tantalising them with some of the roles she assumes!' (I honestly have no idea what on earth I used to do to deserve this!)

1978:

'Katherine has worked carefully and methodically, if a little slowly, at Mathematics...'

'In her creative English work, Katherine is highly imaginative...Her stories are lengthy and follow a well developed plot. The excitement generated by the dialogue and the action shows that Katherine derives much pleasure from writing her stories...Her extensive vocabulary reflects her love of words and the depth of her reading.'

'She sang and danced with energy and flair in the Christmas play.' (Wonder if that was the wizard and beggar one?)

'...always works to the best of her limited ability in PE and games.'


It made me laugh that, all the way through, maths is slow and methodical. Still is, if I'm honest.  Music and drama feature a fair bit - I loved performing. PE certainly went downhill over the four years, though - I remember taking part in the Five Star Awards, scraping a one star award in my third year and being so terrible in the fourth year, I didn't even get that. On Sports Day, I was always the egg-and-spooner or sack race candidate...

But in writing - my word. I would be extremely pleased to get this kind of feedback now! I hadn't realised that I was considered quite so good at writing back then. I remember enjoying it, and using my imagination, but good? It seems a shame that I lost all of that excitement and skill during my further studies and working life and only rediscovered - and to some extent, re-learned - the love of reading and writing when my own children came along.

But thank goodness I did. Belated thanks to Miss Cartlidge, Mrs Johnson, Mrs Bennett and Mrs Creasey for their kind words back then. I wonder if, when they read my 'lengthy stories' all thoses years ago, they had any idea that one day, I'd be a published author?

I'm off to look for some of my Limehurst and Burleigh reports now, see whether the trends in certain subjects continued!

Friday, 26 May 2017

A bit of unexpected promotion

It's always nice to know that there's some promotion of your books which you didn't expect...

I've had a couple of people in the last week tell me they've had emails from Amazon about the publication of Kingstone.

My dad was the first - he phoned me up specially, to tell me he'd had the email and he'd looked me up on Amazon's site. Sure enough, there was Kingstone. And the other evening, a friend asked whether I'd got a new book coming out, because she'd had an email too...

So thank you, Amazon. Let's hope that those who bought StarMark and enjoyed it will also take a punt on Kingstone...

One of the questions I've been asked quite a lot is whether Kingstone is a follow-on from StarMark? No, they are both stand-alone titles, ie complete stories in their own right. There may be potential in both to write more in these worlds, but I enjoy writing complete stories rather than series at the moment.

If you don't like to purchase via the Big A, there are other places stocking the book: Wordery, Barnes and Noble, Blackwells, and Waterstones will order if you ask. If you don't own a kindle, you can get the ebook via Kobo.

Let me know when your copy arrives...and even better, let me - and other people - know what you think of the story!



Wednesday, 17 May 2017

The day no-one came

Remember I said I was doing a talk about being an author for the Nanpantan Festival? It was today.

I was all set. Books to sell alongside other craft items; a display of publications; speaking podium, props, and presentation all lined up ready to go...



...and no-one came.

Well, actually there were five of us at church; two ladies to serve lunches, a welcomer, the festival organiser, and me. But no-one came to hear the talk.

Don't get me wrong, I wasn't expecting a massive audience.

But not a single person?

Perhaps it was the weather. It has been torrential rain all day here and I don't blame folks for not wanting to go out unless they absolutely had to.

Perhaps it was because it was lunchtime, rather than the evening. Folks do have to work. And eat.

Perhaps people simply weren't interested? Although five minutes before I left the house, I had a phone call asking for an author talk, so maybe they are.

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed - of course I am.

But I'm not about to let a no-show audience knock my confidence. The years of critique and feedback and rejection have thickened my skin so that I don't take things like this personally any more. Instead, I'm philosophical. I now have an author talk - with slides and notes - all prepared and ready for when it's needed.

I'm stronger than this setback.

And I'm going to spend this evening writing.

So there.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Weather tight

The garden room is now weather tight!

Mr Squidge has been working his little socks off in recent weeks, and things are very different now to how they were back at the beginning of April. For once, we've not taken lots of photos during the process, so you'll just have to believe me when I say that Mr Squidge built the skeleton frame; fitted the damp proof membrane for the floor; stapled another breathable DPM to the frame; clad the walls in shiplap; lifted plywood panels up to make the roof; cut the hole for the ENORMOUS skylight; emptied the rainwater out of the groundsheet which he covered said skylight hole with, and then he climbed onto the roof with a friend to glue down the rubber roofing material and fit the skylight.

I've been helping where I can, though that's not a huge amount. My job seemed to be limited to unloading planks from the Moggy (our beloved Morris Traveller) every time Mr Squidge took a trip to the woodyard (and reloading again when he got one lot home and discovered he'd picked the wrong ones up!), making tea, and sticking/stapling the breathable membrane to the frame.

The only thing Mr Squidge hasn't done himself was fit the doors, for the simple reason that it didn't cost too much extra (or take very long on the day) to have the experts fit them. And, if there are any problems, the experts will come back and fix it. Huge thanks to Midland Bi-folds for doing such a brilliant job.

There is still lots to do before the room is finished - insulate the floor, walls, and ceiling; skin the walls; put flooring down; paint the walls; clad what's left either side of the doors; fit guttering; find furniture; fit electrics and a stove - but it is going to be a lovely place for Mr Squidge and I to retreat to ourselves, or to send the kids to if they want time with friends without us oldies gatecrashing.

I have to say, it looks amazing, even at this stage.


The walls either side of the glass panels will be clad in red cedar shiplap to finish them off, and the doors will appear black; the white on them is protective tape.

The view from inside the room, looking back to the house. Do excuse the pile of earth, rubble and offcuts for the moment, and focus on how beautifully the apple and pear trees frame the view...


In the next pic, you can see a bit of the gigantic 8 foot by 4 foot domed skylight - it was chucking it down when I took these next couple of pictures, yet inside is still beautifully light. And the best thing is that the skylight doesn't leak - we were a little worried after some of the torrential showers we've had recently...


When the doors arrived, we'd completely forgotten that the level of our lawn was higher than the bottom of the doors when the doors were fully opened. So a bit of hasty digging by Mr Squidge, and we have a depression with a curved edge for the door end, and a square end for when all three panels are open. The plan is to fill this depression with slabs similar to our patio and fill in any remaining gaps (and the walkways around the sides and back) with pea gravel to help drainage.


The doors fold right back, leaving the whole front open...


I have to say, I was initially reluctant to build a monstrous shed at the bottom of the garden, but now it's here, I'm quite liking the idea.

Not so keen on the idea of it being a party shed and band practise room (for the Squidgelings) or a miniature railway or snooker room (Mr Squidge.) I have visions of using it for early morning Pilates...and a writing den, which is what I was told the room could be used for originally.

I daresay we'll find more uses for it as time goes on, and we'll settle into it. Next update will probably be when it's furnished!

Sunday, 14 May 2017

My author path

This Wednesday, I'm giving a lunchtime talk as part of the Nanpantan Festival.

I've called it Wordy Wednesday, and it'll be a chance for me to tell something of the journey I've been on over the last ten years.

It's been interesting to look back over that time and see that in fact, 2013 was the turning point, when I broke with the agent. I think at that point, I had begun to find out who I was as a writer - to be (fairly) fearless in what I wrote and how I was writing it. To not listen to what others were telling me I should be doing, but to beat my own path to publication.

And then, in 2014, I had my validation through publication; only a few short stories in some very good anthologies - novels were a way off still - but my writing was at last of a standard to be chosen for others to read.

So if you fancy hearing about my author path, the ups and downs of writing and what I get up to as an author, do come up to St. Mary in Charnwood Church for midday if you'd like lunch beforehand (£5 for a Ploughman's, cake and tea, I believe) or at 1pm for the talk, which is FREE.

I'll have my books there - £1 from every copy sold will be donated to a church project I'm supporting, the extension and refurbishment of the Rainbow Home in Pudukottai where I visited last year.



There will also be some unique cards designed by Laura Buckland, Granny Rainbow's illustrator.

Rainbow coloured wings for the Rainbow Home

Squirrel! Which is what I was called before it was shortened to Squidge...

There's also a beautiful peacock - a nod to India's national bird - and a couple of huggy hedgehogs, with all designs available as cards printed on elephant poo recycled paper, or as prints. In addition, there will bracelets made by a partially sighted member of our congregation, Georgina, with profits from all sales given to the Rainbow Home fundraising.

I look forward to seeing a few folks and sharing my own personal story with them, as well as maybe raising a few quid for a good cause, too.

Friday, 12 May 2017

The TBR pile

I don't think I've ever had a TBR pile before. (To Be Read, in case you didn't know what I was on about!)

At the moment, I find I'm developing quite a stash, probably because I'm writing lots and I haven't got the time to do both.

So what's in it...?

Trainspotting. I've never seen the film, though Mr Squidge has. He raves about it, so I thought I'd give the book a go.



The Grey Bastards, by Jonathon French. (Kindle) Recently won a self-published fantasy blog off, and has been recommended by Mark Lawrence (of Broken Empire Trilogy and Red Sister fame)


The finalists...

Colonial Compromises by Stephen Terry. (Kindle) I've read chunks of this over the years on the cloud, and I like Stephen's style.



The Magician's Guild, Book 1 by Trudi Canavan, (Kindle) because a reader of StarMark said he thought my style was similar to hers.



The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd (Paperback) a recommendation from my mum!


Introduction to the Old Testament and Introduction to the New Testament, both by John Drane. (Big, brick sized paperbacks!) Background reading for my course with church, and actually quite interesting. I've already dipped into earlier editions for what we've done so far, but I'm finding the historical stuff so fascinating, I bought myself copies to read at my leisure.



Anything else you think I should have on my expanding pile?

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Hacked off

I'd be the first to admit that I am not tec-savvy. When things go wrong with the computer, I get stressed and panicked pretty quickly, because half the time I simply don't know what to do to put things right.

So to discover yesterday morning that my facebook profile had been cloned threw me into a right spin.

I changed my password immediately, then posted on facebook to say what had happened. Then I tried to contact facebook admin to report it.

First stop - the security place in settings. Not a hint of what to do to report problems. I ended up following a link from a friend down-under to find out what I should be doing. It seemed really odd that you have to find the bogus profile before you can report it; I have, as a result, discovered that there are quite a few Katherine Hetzels in the world, but only one had nicked my identity.

Anyway, it's all sorted and the offending profile was taken down within minutes of being reported. Hooray!

But technology hadn't done with me...I have recently had to give up my old phone - a complete brick of a pay-as-you-go Nokia, whose numbers were worn out.



Mr Squidge wanted to add me to one of these packages where you get unlimited texts and calls for the whole family, so it made sense to get a new phone as well.

The replacement was an equal brick of a Samsung (used to be Squidgeling T's until he refused to use it because it wasn't cool enough) and I've had to relearn where all my options are for everything I was used to doing. Hate it. I've lost my 'budink' text alert, my sand dance ringtone, and I'm having to input all my contact numbers again because the transfer only took about a dozen over, in spite of us saving them all to the SIM...and don't get me started on the predictive text spelling options!

The 'new' phone!


To top it all off, Squidgeling T's on my back throughout, telling me I should've got a smartphone. I tell him it's pointless, because all I want to do is make calls and send texts. I can do without all the other gubbins that comes with apps and games and whatever other rubbish smartphones get filled with.

Third thing...I've been really excited writing Effie's story. For almost three weeks, it's been going really well. Then I downloaded a book that had been recommended to me by a reader of StarMark ("Your writing reminds me of said author.") I started to read and was gutted - GUTTED - to discover the premise of this other story is almost exactly the same as what I'm currently writing for Effie.

*sigh*

And it's only Thursday... Things've got to get better, right?

Thursday, 27 April 2017

News and musing

News item, the first.

Remember, back in 2013, I had a story accepted and published in Stories for Homes, the best-selling anthology which has raised over £3,000 to date for the housing and homelessness charity Shelter?



This year, the SfH community began to stir again. Was it time for a sequel, they wondered? A new batch of stories, a new anthology, another opportunity to fund raise for Shelter?

Yes. It was.

256 submissions were received for SfH2. 55 pieces were selected for the book, and another 29 for the website. Mine was one of the latter, so sometime between now and September, you'll be able to read Potato Soup online, in the company of some other flash fiction, short stories, poetry and real life stories about housing and homelessness.

I'll keep dropping links on my facebook page as the project progresses...


News item, the second.

I don't usually enter competitions, because they can be pricey. But the inaugural Leicester Writes Short Story Prize caught my eye - not least because I got a discount for living in Leicestershire!

This week I was delighted to discover - by chance, when the shortlist came out - that one of my stories, The Pink Feather Boa Incident, was longlisted for the prize! That means publication later in the year in the prize anthology...

Unfortunately I didn't make it onto the shortlist, but good luck to everyone who did.


News item, the third.

In an attempt to get a few reviews onto Goodreads in advance of publication of Kingstone, I offered a pdf ARC to a few folk I knew had read StarMark, in exchange for an honest review.



Within 24 hours I had the first one back. (You can read it in full here)

In summary; 'All in all, a highly recommended page-turner suitable for pre-teens upwards.'

*One happy Squidge*


News item, the fourth.

Effie Purse, the new story which has pushed Crystal Keeper's Daughter to the sidelines, is flowing well. I'm hoping to finish the first s***y handwritten draft (I've already used up two biros!) by the end of June, and first type by the autumn. 


Musing.

For the SfH2 publication I needed to update my bio, so I looked to see what I'd written for SfH1. Back in 2013, I was apparently still fine tuning The Ring Seekers (shelved for the time being, having gone through many, many incarnations and edits but never quite making the grade...), had only just started writing these Scribbles, and had only just seen the publication of Granny Rainbow and the Black Shadow in a charity anthology.

It made me realise that most of the 'success' I've had so far in writing has been in the four years since then. In fact, there's so much that I can't really list it all in a bio - and if I did, it would sound like I'm bragging! Probably more accurate to say that most of the advancement in my writing has occurred since then.

This time round, I can include the publication of two Granny Rainbow books, StarMark and (by the time the bio goes live) Kingstone. I can also include the several short stories published in various anthologies (I think there were twelve or so when I added them up) and the visits I've been making to schools to run creative writing sessions. 

It seems almost unreal to think that all of that and more has happened in the last four years. It made me realise it's good to sit back and take stock sometimes, to give yourself a pat on the back for what you've achieved, and then determine to do more of the same. 

So today, I'd encourage each and every one of you to take a minute or two to see what you've achieved in the same time. Don't focus on what's not happened - life can be a pig sometimes and get in the way of our dreams and desires. Instead, look for where you've made progress - even if it seems like it's only baby steps forward - and if you'd like to, share it in the comments below. 

Let's celebrate progress!