March 2021

As we slowly rise out of the darkness, (I hope), I am looking forward to my birthday when I reach, at last, retirement age. With that comes freedom – an income that I don’t have to work for, and a bus pass. Bliss. I can hardly wait. To be able to jump on a bus whenever I feel fed up bored or lonely will be such a boon and having a pension means I won’t have to write for money anymore. I’ll finally be able to write what I want and when I want.

I have gone back to writing the odd filler, short, often silly little pieces you find in magazines like My Weekly and Take a Break. Why? Because they are easy and fun to write.

I also have videos on YouTube aimed at helpng writers. These links lead to a free, basic short stry course. PART ONE https://youtu.be/8oBtWGrxIgw
Part 2 https://youtu.be/gUAFMSYnC1E

My website is www.lindalewiswrites.co.uk and I can be contacted by email on lindatorbay@yahoo.co.uk or via Twitter @writingiseasy. I also have a Facebook page – writingiseasy

What 2021 will mean for me as a short story writer

In 2019, I sold 87 stories.

In 2020, I sold exactly the same number which I did not expect. So how many sales do I predict for 2021? Less than half that number.

Many of  last year’s ‘sales’ haven’t been published. Some are unlikely to be scheduled for publication until much later this year, October onwards. Of course, that means I won’t get paid as that happens after publication.

It was with a heavy heart that I realised my long career, writing only short stories, was coming to an end. Fortunately, I reach retirement age in June 2021 so I don’t have long to wait before I can try other things. To that end, I have already taken a big first step and gone back to working as a tutor for The Writers Bureau, having worked for them a number of years ago,

I have to say I’m enjoying it so much. I never tire of the joy of being able to help a new writer or one who simply lacks confidence, to take those first steps along the writing road.

If you would like my help, why not send me a story for feedback? It will only cost you £10, payable by Paypal.

That’s all for now.

Keep well, keep safe and remember, this will ALL be over one day, so keep smiling. .

DEATH OF CREATIVITY

As this pandemic continues, I’m finding i have less and less energy. Not just to write, even walking for half an hour exhausts me.

Having suffered with depression in the past, every day feels liek a battle NOT to fall back into that oddly comfortable deep dark pit.

If you have a story that you’d like feedback on, why not send it to me for feedback? It only costs £10 (up to 2000 words) and will give me something useful to do while I wait for my creative spark to reignite itself.

Second lockdown

I don’t know about anyone else, but I wasn’t ready for a second lockdown. Even when restrictions were briefly lifted, it didn’t have much impact on me. My social life revolves around things like singing and drama that have stayed banned since March.

The only way I’m coping right now is by taking one moment at a time. I had grand schemes and plans – writing books, painting pictures, writing a song., but none of them have come to pass. I have realised that none of that matters. It’s not a failure. Right now, the only thing any of us can do is get through this, using whatever means works for us.

Last month, the UK short story market had another major setback with the loss of Woman’s Weekly’s monthly fiction special. At the time of wiritng, the last ever issue, December 2020,  is on sale. I’m lucky to have 2 stories inside, one as Linda Lewis, the other as Catherine Howard so I bought  a copy as a sad souvenir. I can only hope that one day, the circle witll turn and people will remember how short stories can help, encourage, and inspire people to find the happiness we all deserve.

A light hearted story follows. I hope you enjoy it.

 

MARRIAGE TROUBLES by Linda Lewis

 

“So, is it all right if I use your first names?”  The couple nod in unison. I smile to myself. A good sign. At least they’re doing something together. “Welcome to Relate. The  fact you’ve chosen to come to us is a positive step.”

“It wasn’t easy, getting him to agree,” Mary says.

“I’m here aren’t I”, replies her husband.

“That’s good enough for now,”  I say. “Perhaps you could start, Nicholas. Tell me why you’ve come.”

“She told me to.”

“I see. Why was that do you think?”

“I don’t know, but she’s always complaining. She says I’m a useless husband..”

“And do you think you’re  a bad husband.?”

“Of course not. I work hard.  What more does she want?”

“That’s what we’re here to find out. “ I turn to his wife. “What  brings you to Relate, Mary?”

She fidgets in her chair. With a glance at her husband she begins talking.  “It’s his job. That’s the problem. He’s either working flat out or he’s doing practically nothing.”

“I see. Go on.”

“Well. When he’s busy, I don’t see him, for weeks on end.”

“Except at mealtimes,” pipes in Nicholas.

She quiets him with a glare. “Then everything  stops and he’s under my feet all day.”

“I can’t help it Mary. My work’s seasonal. You knew that when we got married.”

“Of course, I knew, but can’t you do something else the rest of the time? Take up a hobby. Get a temporary job?”

“Is money a problem?” It’s a question I always ask.  I’ve been counselling for many years. I know money is  often the cause of difficulties in a marriage.

“No. We manage quite well,” says Nicholas.

“A little extra wouldn’t hurt mind. We haven’t had a holiday for years.”

“ It’s hard to find someone to look after the animals. We’re not easy to get to. “

“And we can’t afford it,” says Mary.

Nicholas sighs and turns to his wife. “All right. I’ll get another job if that’s you want. You know I’d do anything for you.  You mean the world to me.”

Mary looks at me. “I feel so guilty about dragging him here. Look at him. Great fat useless lump, but you can’t help loving him can you?”

I nod and smile because what she says is true. There’s something about Nicholas that  makes you feel warm and happy inside, just looking at him.

Mary continues. “I don’t want him to get a different job. He loves his work, and let’s face it, no-one could do it as well as he does, it’s just that,” she takes a deep breath, “ I  get fed up with him lying about half asleep for months on end. I  talk to him and he nods off in the middle of a sentence.  I get lonely.”

I take a moment to think. The couple sitting in front of me  could hardly be more different. Mary is small, and slender, and looks much younger than her fifty years. Nicholas is a great hairy mountain beside her. He must weigh more than  twenty stone. I decide to risk a straight question. “ Have you thought of  going on a diet,  Nicholas? It might make you less sleepy. “

He looks at me, a look so heart rending, I almost cry. It’s the kind of  look you’d get from a three year old if you were about to throw their favourite teddy bear on the bonfire. “I can’t lose weight. I love eating too much. “

“Too true he does. He’s a marvellous  cook. Wasted on me, mind. I don’t have much of an appetite.”

Nicholas reaches out a chubby hand and pats his wife’s slender one. Then he looks at me and smiles. “Always been a bit of a stick insect has Mary.”

“Stick insect! How dare you? You, you… great tub of lard!”

“Beanpole,” says Nicholas.

“Beach ball.”

“Skinny ribs!”

I’m getting worried. I can’t let the session  degenerate into a brawl, but then I see they’re both grinning. “Don’t you mind being insulted like that, Mary?”

“Course not. He doesn’t mean anything by it.”

“She knows I love her, and she loves me, don’t you, old girl?”

She nods then  turns to me and asks, “So,  can you help us?”

I try not to feel any pressure but my head still whirls. I know they’re expecting me to come up with a solution. “I’m not sure. Can I ask you a few more questions?”

“Go ahead,” says Nicholas.

“Have you got any spare room at home?”

“Yes, we’ve got loads. More now, since the children all  left home.”

“Six empty bedrooms in fact,” says Mary with a wistful smile.  “That’s why the place is so quiet. I miss them all so much. “

I breathe a sigh of relief. This is such an important interview for me. We don’t  often see celebrities. When the boss told me who was coming  I panicked. What if I couldn’t help them ? No one would ever forgive me? But now I could relax. The solution was simple.

“Mary, Nicholas, I think I have the answer. “

The atmosphere is tense. I feel their anxiety. “Diversification, “ I say.

“Diversification, “ they echo.

“Yes. It’s all the rage. Now, this is my idea. Turn part of your house into a guest house for three or four months of the year. Nicholas can do the cooking. It’ll keep him busy and it’s bound to be  a real money spinner too.” I know I’m talking faster and faster but I can’t help it. I can see by Mary’s face that I’ve done it. I’ve saved one of the world’s most important marriages. “ You’ll be able to afford to pay someone to live in. They can help look after  the animals and answer some of your mail. You’ll be able to  leave them in charge while you take a  holiday. “

Nicholas turns to his wife, smiles and picks up her hand. They’re both grinning. “It’s a great idea, isn’t it Mary? We’ll be swamped with enquiries.”

“It’ll be wonderful to have people around, and children, lots of children.”

“Rudolph and the others will love it. They can give sleigh rides.  It’ll keep them fit. “

“Why didn’t we think of it years  ago?” asks Mary, her eyes shining.  “After all, who could resist

it? A holiday with Father Christmas and his reindeer.”

 

Update

It’s almost September and we are still living with fear.

SInce my birthday, many people have gone back to their ‘normal’ lives. This is great and worth celebrating but at the moment, the effects aren’t reaching some of us, including me. Until places like community centres, and theatres open, my social life is still non existent.

Work has grouand to a halt. With more than fifty stories still pending, waiting for editors to accept or reject them, it’s not worth writing loads more as they can only buy so many. I have FIVE stories again in the September issue of Take a Break’s Fiction Feast and expect to have two more in the following issue. After that, I have no idea as sales have completely vanished.

I am spending my time trying to get my life bacn in balance. I haven;t allowed myself to do things I enjoy (paint, sing, read and so on) so I’m workign with my Inner Child to find ways to change this. As from today, 25th August 2020, I’ve adopted a new system whereby I loosely plan what I’m going to do each day, the night before. I’ll let you know if it works.

If you want to see my first ever go at stand up, follow this link.

https://studio.youtube.com/video/KLRapQwJDLc/

OTHER NEWS

I’ve been putting videos on youtube aimed at helping writers improve their skills and find ideas. Please have a look and if you are able, please subscibe to my channel as if I reach 100 subscribers, I will get a named channel, rather than a string of characters.

this line takes you to one of the vdieos from where you should be able to find the rest.

Part 12 Video link https://youtu.be/Yh7JHekcRRI

Coping with Covid

It’s funny how when we have loads of time and no place to go, not a lot gets done. I’m a case inpoint. I had lal these grand ideas about writing at least one book and dozens of stories but I’ve done hardly any writing. Instead, I’ve carried on reworking old stories, waiting for  my creative juices to start to flow.

Before al this happened, I’d never heard of Zoom. Now I use it every day, mainly for singing groups. Joining these gives me some kind of structure so that I know, most of the time, what day it is.

I’ve been trying comedy on line too but it’s so hard. I am incredibly introverted, it’s only having an audience that brings the real, confident, funny, me out to play. But the longer this goes on, the closer I get to overcoming the obstacles. On Sunday night, I managed something I really never thught I’d be able to do, I taught my street choir a very simple song. Boy was that scary. I’ve been thinking of starting a singing group for ages but lacked the confidence. Crazy really, because it’s so much harder to teach in a virtual singing group because you can’t hear the other people, so have no idea if they are with you or not. If you want to hear the clip, visit my twitter feed @writingiseasy, or my Facebook page.

At the start of lockdown, I offered a free feedback service to anyoen who’d had a story rejected by one of the women’s magazines I write for. Very few took up the offer so I can only assume other people are also suffering from a lack of creative energy. I’m even feeling weary writing this…..

Hopefully normal service wil be resumed someday, meanwhile, I’ve added a new story to the short story page which I hope you wil enjoy. Take care and do get itn touch if you feel the need.

February seems to be the longest month

February isn’t my favourite month. Even though it’s shorter than January, to me, it seems to go on forever. It’s as though it’s getting in the way of the spring. It doesn’t help that February 14th would be my wedding anniversary if Gareth hadn’t died all those years ago.

I am waiting to hear about so many stories at the moment, the urge to write new ones isn’t very strong. There is, after all, a limit to how many of my stories each magazine can actually use. I have four in the latest Take A Break Fiction Feast and two in the Woman’s Weekly monthly fiction special, so there’s no room for anymore. Observant readers may have noticed that I have resurrected my Catherine Howard.pen name. That happened because WW didn’t want two stories by the same author in the same issue so in the current Fiction Special you will see Happiness by Linda Lewis and another story, by Catherine Howard. .

I’m trying to bring back the fun to my writing life by diversifying. To that end, I sent off a new play to a competition the other day. I have no clue if it’s any good, but it was fun to write so I will looking out for free competitions and other opportunities.

I would very much like to know what you would like to rad about on these pages so if you have any writing related queries, please do get in touch. Meanwhile, I have added a bew story to my short story page if you fancy a quick read.

Valentine’s Day

As February 14th approaches, I’m filled with a mixture of emotions. I married my nice husband, I had others not so nice, on February 14th 1986. He died in 1997. Since then I haven’t had any, even remotely, romantic Valentine’s days yet I can still write Valentine stories. A few years back, I had a conversation with another womag writer who told me that after many years, she’d run out of ideas for Valentine stories. She wondered if that might happen to me. I’m very happy to say that so far, it hasn’t. I started writing fiction as a way to escape the loneliness and grief that resulted from losing Gareth. All these years later, fiction still fulfils that need.

I’ve had a wobbly couple of months. I’ve been selling more stories than ever but hardly writing any new ones. The sales have come from reworking stories that failed to sell and that were written years ago. I figured that if I can help other writers improve their stories, I might be able to do it with my own. Once enough years have gone by, it’s exactly like working on somebody else’s story as the memory of writing them has long gone. That allows me the all important detachment to be able to step back and see what can be done. It’s worked so well that last year I sold 87 stories. I’m doing well so far this year to.

For details of my feedback service, why not visit the short story page?

To date,  I have made fifteen sales including four children’s stories, a genre I’d never really targeted before.

If you have any questions about writing stories ( or anything else that I might be able to cover in these newsletters), do get in touch. And if you want to read my stories, there are FOUR in the latest edition of Take a Break’s Fiction Feast including, you guessed it, a Valentine story.