thewritersbarn

Writing because words are the essence of my life.


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The Fine Art of Gazumping

Buying a business: A risky game of chance

Buying a business: A risky game of chance

I’ve been a bit quiet again, haven’t I? Oh, if only I had my feet up in the sunshine with a cocktail! No, instead I have been standing as a Green Party candidate in my local Ward and I have been busy achieving and losing my dream.

Does that sound confusing? Sorry about that!

Twelve months, when it was becoming apparent that my days in my old ‘career’ were becoming seriously numbered, my husband and I fell in love with a little post office and convenience shop in Somerset. We decided we would like to pursue it so we put our house on the market. Unfortunately someone else bought it before we could. Boo!

By August I knew I was leaving my old job and I was pretty poorly, so we started looking for something else. We found a Post Office and Convenience store in Devon this time (where I hail from). What sold it to me, apart from the glorious rural and seaside location, was that it had accommodation and part of that accommodation included a barn.

A barn! My very own barn! To write in! It was then that The Writer’s Barn was born. Oh I wanted that space very badly. We were confident our house would sell. We made our offer through Kings Business Transfer, had it agreed, paid £6000 for the deposit, and started discussions with the Post Office. It was all in hand. Surely it was just a matter of time?

Well no. I took redundancy at the end of September. I wrote and wrote through October. I started work at the grotto in November to eke my redundancy payment out. Christmas came and went. I was unemployed. Still the house didn’t sell.

The Somerset PO came back on the market after its sale fell through. We had first refusal but felt that now we had agreed to a sale with the Devon PO we should remain loyal and continue on with that. But we still had to sell our house!

People came to see the house and moaned about ‘not being able to see what size the rooms were’ or that ‘it needed a new kitchen’ or that there was ‘only one parking space’ etc. etc. Crazy things. It got to the stage where I actually hated anyone coming around because it felt a bit personal having someone moaning about my house.

The winter dragged on. We seemed to have a lot of lingering snow and not many people viewed at all between January and March. Occasionally, our Estate gents would phone up and expect someone to see the house within the next 10 minutes, invariably when we were out or away!

Out of Reach

Out of Reach

The nice man at Kings Business Transfer would keep phoning me up to check on progress, and I felt guilty, both for him and for the seller of the Devon PO for keeping them waiting. Every viewing that didn’t pan out was a kick in the stomach. But he was very nice. Kept saying he was ‘rooting for us’ and would keep ‘everything crossed’ etc. I was genuinely touched. That’s how bloody naïve I am!

Then miracle of miracle, we had two young couples within two weeks of each other who asked for second viewings! The second couple came for the first time on the Tuesday evening and then came back on the Wednesday. By Thursday we had an offer and started negotiating. Alleluia!

I instantly phoned Kings Business Transfer to give them the news. I was so excited! Finally! Our dream was actually about to come true. The man at Kings seemed a little underwhelmed which surprised me rather. He said he would speak to the seller and get back to me. Oh. I nibbled my thumb nail. Twiddled with my hair.

I waited and waited for the phone to ring. It didn’t. Twelve hours passed and nothing. Now it doesn’t really take a sixth sense to know when something has gone wrong, does it? And I think I knew something was up when I spoke to the man at Kings. Meanwhile, I was completely on tenterhooks. Climbing the walls. I couldn’t believe it was Friday and I wasn’t going to hear anything until after the weekend possibly. I was ready to hit the valium!

Finally 25 hours after I phoned Kings Business transfer, the agent got back to me. ‘A bit of bad news’ apparently. He had not been able to get hold of the seller on the Thursday and had kept trying. That day, that VERY day, someone had WRITTEN to him and offered a higher amount than us. He had to give the two offers to the seller for her to choose ‘when’ he could get hold of her. Could I up my offer? Well, no. We accepted a lower offer so that we could get moving with the PO. That was all of our money.

Tears and tribulations

Tears and tribulations

If it had been a verbal offer from the new buyer, he explained, he might have been able to swing it. My, my. A higher written offer on the day we were set to actually do the deal. What a coincidence. I can just imagine the flurry of phone calls along the lines of , ‘if you want it, you hve to move fast and you have to write to me’ that got the higher offer on the table in writing. Pah! Supposition on my part of course but … really? Of course the seller chose the higher offer. And with that, my bubble was well and truly popped.

All that effort. All those months of trying, of waiting and praying. To add insult to injury I had to wait nearly a fortnight to get my deposit back, and it came back as a cheque that I then had to wait to clear, even though I had sent it via BACS in the first place. They didn’t offer any interest on it either, even though they had had a big wad of my cash for 7 months.

So I expect my next few blogs will be looking at house moving, buying a business and finding somewhere new to live … keep reading!

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Why do Americans have sex with their clothes on?

Complete Red Hot Article Fail

Complete Red Hot Article Fail

This is a question that has been puzzling me this week. If there is a more repressed nation than the Americans I don’t know which it is. Their attitude to sex is a real puzzle to me. I don’t think they’ve moved on that much since the days when Hollywood insisted you had to have one foot on the floor if you were filming a bedroom scene. Doris Day was always filmed in pyjamas and even Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City only had sex with her bra on. Where’s the fun in that? What’s the point of sex if you have your bra on?

The earth might move if you get nekkid

The earth might move if you get nekkid

I’m not suggesting I was desperate to see Sarah Jessica Parker’s boobs by any means. I just hate the false representation on an entirely normal act. The show screams SEX from every pore and orifice and yet gets all coy when anyone tries to get down and dirty.

I mention this because I have been completely perturbed this week when some of the writing I did for a US client, who shall remain nameless to spare their blushes (and boy they must have died of embarrassment) returned some writing to me for being too racy. The brief was to write an article about ‘scoring a date’ (their words) for an interview and link in with Valentine’s Day and lovers. In my proposal I sent some suggestions through and was really thrilled to be hired. Great job! A company I have a lot of respect for. Perfect. I love getting creative. Here’s a little clip of what I wrote.

The whole point of sending a covering letter with a resume is that it entices the hiring manager to look you up and down and appraise your attributes. The cover letter is the working-world version of the love letter. It needs to be easy on the eye so that your employer-to-be can register interest in the bumps and swells of your experience and the curves your career has taken. Their eye should be drawn inwards, to your resume, to further explore what you have to offer.

It stands out and gets the point across I think, about what the point of a covering letter actually is. That’s what they wanted, right? Wrong. Unfortunately I sent something through that was not even remotely to their taste. Oops. The article came back to me sanitised beyond my comprehension. The sort of bland, generic, well-written writing that causes nary a ripple of interest.

It was changed to this

Like a dating profile, your resume is a place to list your recent job experience, your likes or dislikes, or even certifications that make you enticing to a potential employer. It must be accurate, well-written, and organized. A cover letter is your opportunity to break free from the traditional resume; it is your opportunity to talk about why you are a great fit for a particular company, and to discuss your best attributes.

Keep it clean!

Keep it clean!

A pair of washed out grey knickers I feel. But what was interesting was that I instantly felt like a complete failure. Here was something I had loved putting together, I’d really crafted the words lovingly (passionately?) and they were being binned. So when I had recovered from my initial sense of being both gob smacked and disappointed I felt guilty for letting the client down and for misinterpreting the brief. To her credit, the woman that was dealing with me was lovely and quite generous but still… I guess I have to chalk this one up to experience. *hangs my head in shame*

I think maybe we British do this kind of smutty innuendo really well. I’m not a great Carry On fan and I absolutely loathed Benny Hill but we do sex better. It’s out in the open. We like a snigger and a chortle at double entendres. Maybe it’s us. Maybe we’re the crazy ones. We don’t take it seriously. It’s fun.

Anyway. *sigh* You’ll be pleased to know, dear reader, that my other writing work has gone well this week. I haven’t stopped! I haven’t made any money either, but I have had some really interesting gigs on. Besides the one above that I rally loved doing, I wrote an article on de-stressing, something I can’t seem do for toffee. My husband asked me this morning how long it had been since I had actually relaxed and we worked out it was 18 months ago when we spent three weeks camping in my beloved Devon. But I know the theory of how to de-stress, so that’s what I wrote about.

Ride Free

Ride Free

I’ve also written some tattoo articles which I loved doing the research for. I don’t have any tattoos myself. I don’t think they’d look great on my pale skin, but I very much enjoyed finding out about the meaning and symbolism of prison tattoos, biker tattoos and in memoriam tattoos. Great stuff.

Why would you NOT stop for this man? Guaranteed entertainment on tap!

Why would you NOT stop for this man? Guaranteed entertainment on tap!

Finally this week I wrote an article for a travel website which you can see here http://www.excitingworldtravels.com/thumbs-up-for-hitchhiking/ Again I really enjoyed writing this and I’m hoping to do some more writing for this website because I love travelling and I love writing so what could be better? This one is about hitchhiking. Given that we hardly do any in the UK, I was amazed how prevalent it is elsewhere, especially in Europe.

This is me keeping warm

This is me keeping warm

Sadly it won’t go out with my by-line. Most of the writing I do is ghost writing. I wrote a short horror story that went to its new owner on Monday. It was probably the best short story I’ve ever written but I had to wave goodbye! *sob* It will be in my heart, and my nightmares probably, forever!

Hopefully I will be able to sell my own stuff with my own name on soon. Keep reading!


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The Next Big Thing … or… currently a small thing that fits in a matchbox

Tree womanWhen the rather lovely Simon Bestwick (who is a proper writer, published and everything, eminently readable, humorous and supportive and general all round bundle of loveliness) was looking for authors to link to for this brilliant series of blogs, The Next Big Thing, he very generously asked me and other people I attended a horror writing weekend with if we would be interested. Sadly, there was only me that hadn’t been ‘got’. There are probably reasons for that but as today is my birthday WE ARE NOT GOING THERE and we are BEING KIND!

So I have to apologise to anyone who reads this and thinks, ‘but you’re not a proper writer.’ You’re quite right. I write somewhere in the region of 5-10,000 words most days but about 80% of that is for other people. What can I say. It pays the bills.

In actual fact however, as of yesterday I am a proper writer really. Yesterday I had my first rejection letter albeit by email!! Whooo hooo!! Now I’m getting somewhere! I happen to think it’s a good short story… it’s just erm … rather perverted and so has a limited readership. Well, it would probably have a wide readership among the kinky, the depraved and the weird. But hey, that’s what Kindles are for, right?

So I haven’t written a novel and I only have one short story published, but believe me, on my precious purple laptop there are enough short stories for several anthologies. I’m using this blog to tell you about the novel I am writing. It’s not quite halfway there and I am currently stuck, so this really won’t take very long will it? Just perch on a chair with half a cup of tea; that should do us.

1) What is the working title of your current/next book?

It’s tentatively called Hollowbank.

2) Where did the idea come from?

As you drive from West Hallam in Derbyshire to Bakewell (also in Derbyshire and home of the famous tart, and I don’t mean Katie Price, I mean an edible and non-plastic variety) there is a fabulous hill that rises like a giant breast on the landscape. The bottom half of the hill is covered in trees. The top is grassed. It just looks like a Bronze Age burial mound to me and I am bewitched by it every time I go past. It kind of got my creative juices flowing a few years ago. I had to wait for redundancy before I had the time to put finger to keyboard however.

3) What genre does your book fall under?

It’s a chiller, fantasy, mystery, horror kind of thingie. It has motorcyclists in it. And a demon or two. There is some nudity. And sex. It seems very grand to label it with it a genre when it hasn’t quite decided itself yet! Haha!hell's_angels

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

  • Ooooh. Now there’s a thought .. erm. Grip is a kind of Daniel Craig’ish type figure (yummy) from his days in The Mother. Needs to be fit, capable, intelligent, devilish and yet oddly vulnerable.
  • Shone would be one of the guys from ZZ Top. Or the fabulously sexy Ken Stott with a long beard and younger. Sorry Ken. I think you’re hot anyway.
  • Meredith somebody like Nicole Scherzinger (if she could act) or an evil Liv Tyler.
  • Jason – maybe the guy who played Speedle in CSI Miami. Dave Grohl. Does he act?

I have to say this is reading like my own sexual fantasy list.

This touches on a problem because one of my main issues is the lead character Evie. I just don’t get her yet and so I don’t know who she is or who could play her. So this is an interesting exercise isn’t it? *scribbles in notebook*

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Evie’s husband Jason is missing presumed dead after a motorcycle accident, but she and his biker mates are not convinced he is dead and after a series of weird events on the hill that towers over the town where they live, they take on the weird village of Hollowbank in an effort to free Jason from the ancient powers that hold him, although they also have to do battle with their own emotions and demons before they can succeed.

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Obviously it’s going to be optioned by the biggest publishing house in the world and I will be able to afford a hot tub. And my mortgage …

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft?

I haven’t finished the first draft mainly because of the issues I’m having with the Evie character but hang tight friends. I will!

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I think reading Tana French’s book In the Woods (2007) has given me the courage to write this. I didn’t love this book by any means but it did haunt me for a long time and I thought that her next book The Likeness was just phenomenal. If I would write half as well as that I’d be a happy lady!

There was a sense of mystery in In the Woods that I was really hopeful would go somewhere and it never quite did. Ms French is writing a different style of book to mine of course, but I want to have that feel that she had in the first half of In the Woods.

Also Alan Garner. An astounding writer. I love his work and I like the way he grounds reality with the magical, the fantastical and the downright weird.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I’ve always wanted to write and Shone and Grip are demanding to be written about. They are great characters and are coming from my heart. Walks in Shipley Park with the dogs really help the atmosphere too, as so much of this novel is set in a forest that’s misty and dripping with moisture. But that’s Derbyshire and actually many of the settings have been stolen from my time living on the Isle of Wight when I rode motorcycles myself. The fabulous winding roads and the dripping trees and that sense of isolation, and, I hate to say it, some VERY odd people.

There is also a strong sense within what I’m writing of finding an inner strength, getting in touch with the feminine self and vanquishing jealousy and that hideous competitiveness women sometimes have. Evie is supposed to be doing that … and maybe we’re doing it together but it’s not easy!

I can’t help but write this story. It pours out of me and makes my fingers tap the keyboard.

10) What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

There are tree spirits, hollow hills, a crazy character who is more like a jester, one angry bitch of a goddess and because I am The Writer’s Barn there will be an owl.Blue Owl

So that’s it. I may not be a real writer but I am a good apprentice. Thanks to Simon Bestwick for tagging me. I haven’t found anyone else to tag so I will give a shout out to The Urban Writers Forum and Charlie Haynes particularly for being such a big part of what has helped me write over the past six months. And if you are a writer and would like to be tagged give me a shout 🙂