About Me

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I am a 68-year-old gay disabled amateur part-time writer living in Slough, Berkshire UK. I have published around 50 articles in 20 leisure and lifestyle magazines. I live with a range of health issues including heart disease, chronic kidney disease, Type 2 diabetes, depression, atrial fibrillation and restless leg syndrome. (I'm working my way through the medical dictionary!). I'm a member of Slough Writer's Group which is interesting and informative. Latest News. 10th July 2023 Awarded 'The Sandy Lee-Guard Award for Endeavour' by the Slough Writers Group. 6th December 2023 Completed studying 'Writing for Magazines' with CityLit University. January 2nd 2024. Fell over in the lounge and fractured my left femur (whilst recovering from fracturing my right femur in July 2023). Recovery expected to take 6 - 8 months. May 2024. Completed studying ' National Centre for Writing' course 'Creative Non-Fiction - An Introduction'. You can see the articles that have been published in the 'LATEST WORK' section of my website.

Saturday 30 December 2023


A fairly quiet day today. I'm reading my new book 'Photography for Writers' by Simon Whaley (see yesterday).

Received photos from Wayne, and forwarded them to the editor.

Friday 29 December 2023


Another bad night. I've had a series of short naps throughout the night, but no proper sleep. I've had a number of nightmares, most of which are very unpleasant. That's why I'm 'working' at ridiculous hour in the morning.

NOTE: The time displayed below is incorrect. The UK time as I write this is 06:34.

I bought some items from Amazon yesterday. Among three types of wound dressings, I purchased a book 'Photography for Writers' by Simon Whaley. I have a number of other books by Simon, and they're really good

Simon Whaley is a writer, author, and photographer.

Like many writers, he's had a few proper jobs along the way (high street bank, local government, civil service) but found that life as a writer suits him better. Since his first book hit the UK bestseller lists in December 2003, he's authored and contributed to several books, written hundreds of articles and seen several of his short stories published across the world.

Check out his new British Cozy Crime series, the Marquess of Mortiforde Mysteries, set in the stunningly beautiful Welsh Borders. The first book in the series, Blooming Murder, is out now!

To find out more about Simon, visit his website at www.simonwhaley.co.uk.

© Simon Whaley

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Thursday 28 December 2023

Thursday Troubles

I had a bad night last night. I slept for no more than an hour. As I couldn't sleep, I began writing the Wayne May article for Dogs Today magazine at around 6am. I finished and submitted it at around 11am after only a couple of rewrites. Here's an extract:

Wayne May was a victim of theft years ago. “I used to show my dogs and they (criminals) followed me home from a dog show and stole my dogs”. Wayne had six dogs stolen. “We got home from the dog show and we bathed the dogs and we fed them and we were sitting down in our living room having our tea.”, says Wayne, “It was later in the year so it was getting dark early and the dogs started barking and when I went out into the back yard to see why the dogs were barking, they were already in the process of stealing my dogs.”

 The editor liked it.

Tonight, I've been trying to find a very simple audio editor so that I can put a few seconds of the interview on here. But to no avail.

Wednesday 27 December 2023

Wednesday Writing

This evening, I watched the 'Royal Institution Christmas Lectures' followed by 'Inside the Factory - Yorkshire Puddings'. Before I 'turn in' for the night, I'm going to review today's transcription of the interview I recorded with Wayne May on Friday. The interview itself lasted around 30 minutes which took 2 hours to transcribe into 2,200 words.

Tomorrow I plan to write the first draft of my article on Wayne May. I estimate that with the material that I have, it will make an article of between 1,000 and 1,200 words.

I'm also going to try and upload the transcript word document to my 'Cloud Storage'. Wish me luck!

Tuesday 26 December 2023

Boxing Day (Tuesday)

I have to start with a 'rant' - about fireworks...

Should they be banned? I think so except for properly arranged displays on designated dates e.g. Bonfire night, Christmas night, New Year's night, etc. And organisers should hold an officially recognized safety certificate.

The reason I say this is because of the disturbances that they impose on young children, pets (dogs in particular), and other animals.

Last night we suffered dozens of fireworks being let off, in a garden just yards from our bedroom window. Lottie kept barking at them even though she's blind. She barked and barked incessantly whilst running around the flat.

Last night, while all this was going on, I began the 'Week 4' section of my OpenLearn course 'Understanding autism'. I'd been reasonably successful with weeks 1 - 3, the lowest score being 62%. I think that I'd been lulled into a false sense of security.

When it came to the assessment, in none of the sections I completed did I score anything? However, I this week considered clues to autism in early childhood, highlighting subtle differences from typical development that parents tend to notice. 

After introducing the diagnostic criteria and diagnostic process, the focus moved to parents’ and individuals’ experiences of diagnosis, considering both the positives and the negatives.

Finally, the week considered the likelihood that girls are being underdiagnosed because their behaviour does not match autism stereotypes and the challenges of diagnosis in cross-cultural settings.

As I reached further difficulty, I realised that as I'm going to be writing from a 'general audience' point of view, I think that I should be directing my questions towards, and using the replies from my subject Bodie and organisations such as the 'National Autistic Society', etc. when it comes to it.

I was being asked questions such as "Describe the dsm-5 set of diagnostic criteria outlines social communication difficulties and restrictions." This and all the other questions are too much for me.

I have clearly bit off more than I can chew.


I didn't do much this afternoon. I watched some 80's hits which took me back to my early years together with Simon.

21:30 and I'm not really interested with anything on television, so I've come online to update this blog and catch up with emails, WhatsApp messages and MSN Messenger.

This week I plan on 'writing up' the recording of my interview with Wayne May, and writing the article.

That's all for tonight.

Monday 25 December 2023

Merry Christmas Monday

 It's arrived!

It's Christmas Day!

Did you get everything you wanted from Father Christmas?

I slept in until around 10am, yet years ago, when I was a young boy, I would wake up around 5am. I'd excitedly go downstairs to retrieve the presents that the big man would have left me in front of the fireplace. I'd 'heave' the (real) stocking upstairs back to bed and unwrap everything carefully.

Father Christmas had a funny sense of humour! Some of the presents I unwrapped were mine already! But there was always something that I really wanted. One year, he left me a wrapped shoebox marked 'DIY KIT' which contained all manner of things. For example colored pencils and paper, safety scissors, sticky tape, paper glue, balsa wood, etc.

 Breakfast was served after milking and after church, we'd come home and open our presents. This year I'd been given money by Simon to spend on 'reference' and 'how to write so and so' books.

I've had a 'messenger' chat just with my friend Bodie. It's 17:12 now, and I'm going to 'publish' this now and come back to it later.

Sunday 24 December 2023

Merry Chrismas Eve


Simon & Richard

Outwardly, it seems an ordinary Sunday, yet it isn't. It's Christmas Eve.

I slept all morning, but I didn't wake up until 13:30 with Simon waking me up with a cup of coffee. I must have slept with my arm beneath me and I'm now suffering with a 'dead' arm!

I had planned to do some writing 'work' today, but that's flown out of the window. The first thing that I had to do was to take Lottie out into the garden. I then went to the shop and got him some cigarettes and me some 'Vuse' vapes. I've since had my lunch of ham, carrots, Yorkshire puddings, mash, and apple sauce (I know that what I had for lunch is of the most interest to readers!)

It's 15:28 and I don't plan to do any writing or studying this afternoon. Simon's in the lounge watching something about ancient civilizations and I'm in the bedroom doing this!

A few days ago, I bought a camera from Amazon, but the card wasn't fitted and I broke the card trying to fit it into the slot.

I had to buy a new one, and this wouldn't fit either, so I read the instruction manual, and it turns out that I had been trying to fit (and the previous one) in the wrong 'slot', the 'slot' meant for the HDMI cable connector. Once I'd found the correct 'slot', it fitted and worked! As Simon's mum said: "That's typical of a man!"

I think that I'm getting clothes for Christmas, so no need for 'instructions' apart from washing instructions/directions!

The last of all to choose to buy Christmas pressies for is Lottie. Unlike some of the previous dogs we've owned, Lottie doesn't see much in Christmas as long as she gets fed, so she'll probably get cooked liver (her favourite), but it won't get wrapped up. Unlike Danny, who used to like and rip his presents apart, Lottie will just stand there sniffing the parcel.

I'm a little concerned for myself. A few years ago, the landlord, Slough Borough Council, removed the gas fire and fitted a 'flue' to draw out the household fumes. The fireplace was bricked up and we fitted an electric flame-effect 'stove'. So how will Santa get in to deliver our presents?

I'll try a little ingenuity!

Saturday 23 December 2023

Saturday Synopsis

Not a very inspiring title I know, but I can't think of anything else!

I started looking for free online courses on 'Public Speaking', and I mean FREE! I can't afford anything to study this subject. But while I was searching, I came across an OU OpenLearn free course in 'Understanding Autism'.

The subject* of my 1,500-word 'feature article' is going to be about a lovely 18-year-old non-binary person, Bodie Best, who lives with autism and other complex mental medical issues so I concluded that it would be useful to study and write about him.

The course is recommended to take 3 hours a day for 8 days, making a total of 24 hours of study which I can easily 'slot' into my other work, and probably complete in 2 - 3 days.

Mid-morning, I received an Amazon packet. It was the Oxford Dictionary for Writers & Editors. It cost me just £3, and was advertised as 'used' so I was expecting a bedraggled second-hand paperback edition. I was pleasantly surprised, it was brand new (or as close as it could be to 'brand new') with a price on the jacket of £14.99! Brilliant!


Friday 22 December 2023

Friday Feature

This afternoon, I interviewed Wayne May, a 'pet detective' from Kent who is involved in the rescue and care of hundreds of various threatened domestic animals. He is an interesting character and should make a fascinating feature article for 'Dogs Today' magazine. I'll post a link here when it's published in the magazine's March issue.

© Photo: Kent Online

Wednesday 20 December 2023


I've been researching material for feature articles for 'Dogs Today' magazine. One is about dogs on narrowboats, and the other is about dogs that travel with their 'trucker' owners. I've put messages appealing to contributors on various sites.

My right heel hurts, making my limp worse than it really is. I'm not sure what's causing it.

I used Instagram today, for the first time in a long time, and found that I had over 30 pornographic messages that I had to delete one by one. Nightmare!

Tuesday 19 December 2023


I've been accepted into 'Authors with Disabilities and Chronic Illnesses' as part of the 'Society of Authors'.

If you're looking for useful resources for writers, check out Simon Whaley. He is a talented writer of a host of books that you can find on his Amazon collection, Books by Simon Whaley.

I'm preparing to interview (over the phone) a 'pet detective' on Thursday or Friday. I've been checking my digital voice recorder, but can't find the information pamphlet.

Still - I think I've cracked it (not literally)!

Monday 18 December 2023


Although feeling unwell, I've continued to work on my autobiography. 'Cut and pasting' copy from my earlier work, has now reached 16,300 words. Here is another extract:

One of the ‘dens’ I had was an attic room at the back of the house. One year I had a chemistry set for Christmas and set up a laboratory in the attic. I can’t remember what concoctions I created, but one gave off the most horrendous stink. I had a book on making and creating various electrical and electronic devices. One was a simple crystal radio which I made out of parts from old broken televisions and radios, but it never worked. It involved making a simple aerial which I made by stretching a wire, from an electric fence, from the attic window to a tree some 100 feet away.

Sometime later my cousin Steve’s grandfather, Mr Pullan, came to stay. He had been an electrical engineer during a long career in the industry. He was very interested in my attempt at building a simple radio receiver and came up to the attic to cast his eye over it. He saw a flaw in the tuning coil and rewound it. Then, when we connected it to the aerial and tuned it, lo and behold, it came to life and received an overseas radio station. It worked for a few minutes, but never did again!

This is it for today. Check back soon!

No it isn't - here's a bit more:-

Spent hours trying to find the hi-res version of myself for a mag. Eventually found it. Here's the web version:-

That is definitely it for today. Goodnight!

Sunday 17 December 2023

Seasonal Sunday

I haven't felt too good today so have spent most of the day in bed. I've been working on my autobiography which now exceeds 7,000 words. Here's another excerpt:

In 1965, the Welsh National Eisteddfod came to Dolerw Park in Newtown (Drenewydd) some 18 miles from Bont and although I hadn’t qualified to compete, I still went and enjoyed the occasion. I also remember the stone circle erected especially for the druidic Gorsedd ceremonies and the ceremony of crowning the Bard. The stones can be found throughout Wales to signify that the National Eisteddfod has visited the town. It’s still there.

Every now and again we had bizarre visitors. Each year, at around the same time of year, a tramp would call on us and offer his services helping on the farm in exchange for food and/or money. A stranger visitor to the front door was a Sheikh selling various items out of a suitcase. I think mum bought a couple of items. A welcome annual visitor was Mr. Tipper who sold various items for the home and farm. He sold long bars of red soap for washing and bathing and white soap for laundry. He also sold mineral blocks to supplement the cattle’s diet.

If you know who Mr. Tipper was, or the (small) business he ran in mid-Wales, do let me know.

I've been delving inner-depths of my memory to recall the events of my childhood. Fortunately, I've already made notes on other occasions.

Friday 15 December 2023

Friday Evening


I've spent hours upon hours, decorating the 'post room'! Each new email despatched has this 'Christmas Garland' adorning its' first page. Camp or Pretty? 🌝 Richard.



Stand in front of the magazine shelves in any large store and the chances are you’ll see hundreds, if not thousands, of publications, ranging from quarterlies, monthlies, weeklies, and even the daily newspapers. 

...there are hundreds of thousands of publications, ranging from freebie magazines given away in supermarkets, banks, and other retailers to in-house publications produced to keep staff informed in companies up and down the country.

Now, take a step back... and reconfigure what you see before you. Don’t think of them as individual publications. Instead, think of them as collections of articles. Every single article was written by someone. And tomorrow the daily newspapers need another batch of articles, next week the weeklies will need filling with new material, next month the monthlies will need a complete change of articles, and in three months the quarterlies will need new features too.


Wednesday 13 December 2023


The week's just flying by. I've spent a day and a half rewriting my basic autobiography. So far, I've covered 1955 - 1964.

Here's an extract:-

My first primary school was Bont Primary School. I was taught a range of subjects predominately in Welsh. One of the ‘subjects’ that I excelled at was singing and I became an accomplished boy soprano. I learned Welsh hymns such as ‘Cwm Rhondda’, the most famous version of which is the English version ‘Bread of Heaven’.

Each spring there was an annual singing and recitation competition at Cwmllinau village, near Machynlleth. I was usually entered in a few categories including those for boy sopranos. I am proud to say (boast!) that I often came first, second or third and was awarded a coloured ribbon for each award. I also sang in duets, usually with my good friend Alwyn Pryce. I was also entered into classes in recitation, but didn’t succeed as well in that. One matter that concerned Mum and Dad was that other parents, whose native language was Welsh, might have felt aggrieved that their own children may have ‘lost out’ to an English-speaking competitor. Well, if they were, they never showed it and usually congratulated me on my success.

So far, I've written around 2150 words and I've covered less than ten years of my life. That's approximately 240 words per year and, looking ahead, a prediction of 16,250 words for my life so far (I don't think so!). I'm going to have to write it in 'stages' indispersing it with writing articles for magazines.

I found a brilliant image of a dog and boy on board a narrowboat in 1954. I would have liked to have used it in my article on dogs who lived aboard boats but the copyright owners would not release it without a fee, which was too high.

However, onwards and upwards. The article has to be written, so I'll continue my research.

Watch this space!

Monday 11 December 2023


The day's started out badly. My right (bad) leg is extremely painful, at rest, and more so, so when I'm trying to walk, I can only manage a few slow, small steps over short distances (a few metres or so). I had a fitful night's sleep, waking at regular intervals needing to take painkillers. I went to sleep around midnight and didn't wake-up (proper) until 9am.

I've been reading and researching material from (and exploring) the syllabus from the 'National Centre of Writing' webpages 'Creative Non-Fiction: An introduction'. This morning, I'm about to start reading 'Freelance Writing for magazines and newspapers.'.

I spent last night researching resources for: 'Dogs and truckers' and 'Dogs and narrowboats' amongst other things. I now have to sit and wait, checking back to the forums and Facebook groups every couple of days.

I've been going back through my 'archive'. Here is my very first article in print from 1996: 'Chocolate on the Shroppie'. And here is one of the most recent from 2023: 'Newfs in Action'.

Saturday 9 December 2023

Saturday Sides

It's been a busy day today. I've been coming up with ideas.

If I get funding for my 'National Centre for Writing' course 'Creative non-fiction', the 'blurb' says 'For the final module, you will pull together everything you’ve learned to produce a 1,500-word piece of non-fiction on a topic of your choice.'

I've already been thinking of a topic, and I'd like to explore 'autism' and other mental health issues (and how they affect my good friend Bodie Best). Even if I'm not able to get on the course, I'd nevertheless like to write it (as a magazine article). Bodie is such an interesting person.

I've also put a few ideas to Beverley Cuddy, the editor of 'Dogs Today' magazine. Here are the ones that were accepted:


·        1) Narrowboat Dog – A dog and their owner who lives aboard narrowboats.

·        2) Urban Dog – A dog and their owners who live in towns or cities. What additional challenges and/or joys do they face?

·        3) Long-distance 'trucker' dog. – A dog that travels in the cab of big trucks with their owners (day and/or overnight).

·        4) Commuting Dog – A dog that travels to and from their owner's place of work (by car, bus, or train)

·        5) Dog at owner's workplace – A dog that spends their days (and/or nights) with their owner at their place of work. Office/Building site/factory etc.

That's all for today. Plenty to be getting on with!

Thursday 7 December 2023

Smartphone entry

 I'm writing this on my smartphone to see if it works.

I've enrolled on the course 'Creative writing non-fiction articles' with the 'National Centre for Writing' at the 'University of East Anglia'. It starts in February and lasts for 12 weeks. At least 5 hours a week. 

Today I've been researching possible sources for funding. £475. Fingers crossed! 

Wednesday 6 December 2023

Website Wednesday

I've spent today, tweaking, redesigning, editing, and uploading my revised website. I've added the 'OTHER STUFF' and 'LINKS' sections which have been redesigned.

I've also added my inclusion statement as it's 'National Inclusion Week':-

"I aim to create a safe and welcoming atmosphere for everyone. I want to challenge all forms of oppression including those based on race, ethnicity, nationality, creed, gender, sex, class, sexuality, gender reassignment, learning ability, physical impairment, mental illness, HIV status, age, occupation, income, wealth and unrelated criminal conviction. I aim to design my activities, services, and decision-making processes specifically to encourage and support participation from people who face disadvantage in society, including women, BME people, disabled people, LGBTQ+ people, and people on low incomes."

I've also included links and logos for 'Society of Authors' and 'Gay Authors Workshop'.

I'm quite pleased with it. I don't use any software to build/edit my website. I write it myself in raw HTML. i think there's a bit more tweaking needed but, like my writing, I need to leave it alone for a couple of days and come back to it with fresh eyes at the weekend.

I read a new book this afternoon: '50 things to know about writing non-fiction articles for magazines'. Although It didn't take too long to read, it's a really good book.

I'm going to leave it at that for today. I'm now going to settle down and watch some c**p television.

Monday 4 December 2023

Busy beginning!

It's been quite a busy beginning to the week. I thought I'd got a CityLit session tonight so I cancelled my visit to Slough Writers Group. So I told Mark (my friend, group member, and 'chauffeur') that he needn't pick me up, but he couldn't go either; problem solved. I'm still not allowed to drive myself, so I can only go when Mark's able to give me a lift. The irony is, that there's no CityLit session this evening after all!
I've been sorting out my 'virtual' office (i.e. the laptop and PC's desktop). They really were a 'virtual' mess! I've also been filing my CityLit paper documents (complete with my handwritten scribbles!) I tidied up my email signature text and graphics.
It's the last session of my CityLit 'Writing for Magazines' course tomorrow night. I've completed this week's assignment but couldn't complete the session where we were supposed to write about food. I read (as we were encouraged to do) examples of food writing in a range of magazines, which I did, but it didn't help! I'm obviously not cut out to be a food writer.
I did some work on my website content. In my last 'edit' of it, I left off two sections: 'OTHER STUFF' and 'LINKS'. I'm planning on reinstating them, but not until I've tightened and tidied them up. I'm planning to do them on Wednesday and/or Thursday.
My leg's really bad today. I've used the last of my morphine this morning, but am expecting another bottle to be delivered tomorrow, so until then, I'm going to lie here in pain.
I've got nothing I really want to do for the rest of the day so, at the end of the next sentence, I'm going to 'log-off', have something to eat and drink, and watch TV.

Saturday 2 December 2023

Society of Authors

Yesterday, I became a member of the Society of Authors at https://www.societyofauthors.org

Empowering authors since 1884.

The SoA is the UK’s largest trade union for all types of writers, illustrators, and literary translators, at all stages of their careers. We have been advising individuals and speaking out for the profession for more than a century.

'Our aim is that individuals of every background, age, location, career stage, and professional focus should have equal access to the opportunities, knowledge, support, and community they need while working across industries and in creative spaces where they are genuinely valued and rewarded for what they do.'


Here are the results of yesterday's research for 'Slough Writers' Group:-

 A selection of forthcoming Writing Competitions


Elmbridge Literary Competition 2024


Entry Fee: Adults: £5, Under 18s: free

Prizes: Adults: 1st Place: £250; 2nd: £150; 3rd: £100; Under 18s: £10-£35 in book tokens

Word Limit: Varies

Category: Short Story Competitions/Poetry Competitions

Competition Website:  www.rcsherrifftrust.org.uk/elmbridge-literary-competition/


Bridport Prize – Short Story

DEADLINE: 23.59 (UK TIME) ON 31 MAY 2024

Entry Fee: £14 per entry

Prizes: First prize: £5,000; second prize: £1,000; third prize: £500; highly commended: 10 x £100

Word Limit: 5,000 words (no minimum, title not included in the word count)

Judge: Wendy Erskine

Category: Short Story Competitions

Competition Website: www.bridportprize.org.uk/the-competition/short-story


Bridport Prize – Flash Fiction

DEADLINE: 23.59 (UK TIME) ON 31 MAY 2024

Entry Fee: £11 per entry

Prizes: First prize: £1,000; second prize: £500; third prize: £250; highly commended: 5 x £100

Word Limit: 250 words (no minimum, title not included in the word count)

Judge: Jasmine Sawers

Category: Short Story Competitions

Competition Website: www.bridportprize.org.uk/the-competition/short-story


Oxford Flash Fiction Prize 2024

Write yourself into history and become one of the greats with the Oxford Flash Fiction Prize!

Deadline: 31 January 2024

Word Count: 1000 words / Font: Arial 12pt, single spaced word document or PDF.

Entry Fee: £7 for one flash fiction / £11 for two flash fictions / £15 for three flash / £35 critiques

Prizes: 1st Prize: £1000 – New Voice Prize: £200 – 2nd Prize: £200 – 3rd Prize: £100

*Shortlisted entrants will be offered publication in our end of year anthology.

For further information and how to apply, please visit their website: https://oxfordflashfictionprize.com/


FFF Competition Nineteen


Deadline: 10 pm (UK time) Saturday 23rd December 2023

Entry Fee: £3.80 per entry (PayPal/Stripe) or £2.30 per entry via BSC (UK bank account)

Prizes: Winner: £150.00; 2x Highly Commended: £30.00; 2x Shortlisted: £20.00 (all winners will receive publication)

Word Limit: 300 (excluding title), minimum 100

Judge: S. A. Greene (winner of Competition Eighteen)

Category: Flash Fiction Competitions

Competition Website: www.freeflashfiction.com/current-competition


Henshaw Press Short Story Competition


Entry Fee: £6 per entry

Prizes: First prize: £200; second prize: £150; third prize: £50

Word Limit: 2,000 words

Judge: Four published authors / creative writing academics

Category: Short Story Competitions

Competition Website:  www.henshawpress.co.uk


Writers' & Artists' Short Story Competition 2024

Deadline date 12th February 2024

Enter our free annual short story competition and be in with a chance of winning a place on an Arvon Residential Writing Week (worth £850) as well as seeing your story published on our site. To enter, all you have to do is submit a short story (for adults) of no more than 2,000 words on the theme of risk via our online competition form, and ensure that you have a (free!) account on our website.



 Useful Writing Links (in no particular order)


New Writers



National Centre for Writing



Writers Guild of Great Britain (WGGB)



Creative Future Writers






National Association of Writers and Groups (NAWG)



National Centre for Writing



Writers Digest



Society of Authors



Writers & Artists Yearbook



New Writing South



Shape Arts (for writers with disabilities)



Urban Writers Retreat



Royal Society of Literature






BBC Writers Room



The Writers' Greenhouse


Quite a list!

Finally, it's Friday

So we've survived the week and made it through to Friday 1st December (World Aids Day).

I've been researching various outlets for some of my newest articles.

I also researched some competitions and links for my writers' group 'Slough Writers'.

Wednesday 29 November 2023

Wednesday's Wanderings

It's a strange day today. I've sent a couple of 'pitches' about the 'Station Jim' project to a couple of magazines.

I'm 'clocking off' now and going to take Lottie out in the garden before tidying up and watch television for the evening. I may come back and do some 'work and play' on the laptop.

Watch this space!

Tuesday 28 November 2023

Tuesday thoughts

I didn't go to my Slough Writers group last night - my leg's been playing up. I had been making good progress and had gotten as far as being able to walk around the flat, patio, and communal garden without the assistance of a walking stick But over the past few days, I've taken a backward step (forgive the pun!) of having to use said walking stick.

Later, I sorted through my latest emails. Many of them were a load of c**p, but of those that weren't, I actioned (where it was needed).

I receive over 200 emails a day. I even get them after I've clicked the 'unsubscribe' link!

I've been asked why I keep a blog? It's because it keeps me in touch with people who actually want to read my thoughts and activities. And it makes it easy for me to keep abreast of any special issues that I would like to keep those in my 'contacts' lists up to date with.

Finally, I've started to research and collecting potential sources for my 'Volunteering with your dog' feature scheduled for publication in the July 2024 edition of 'Dogs Today' magazine.

Have a good week my friends.

Monday 27 November 2023

Sunday thoughts

 I'ts been a mixture of sorting and storing various tasks today:

I've been:-

  • Catching up on all my unanswered email messages, (and deleting those that are 'spam' - Why does anyone think that I need a box set of lipsticks in various shades?)
  • Collecting and collating material for the Slough Writers latest project 'Station Jim'.
  • Contesting a parking ticket (for parking in my own reserved 'Disabled Parking' space).
  • Writing this blog before I 'log-off' and retire for the evening and start watching s**t television.

So I'll 'speak' again soon.


Saturday 25 November 2023

Weekends Wonderings and Wanderings.

Hi. Sorry about the day delays. I haven't posted anything since Wednesday morning.

Tuesday evening's class was interesting. We studied shape, structure, and interview skills. Since my health deteriorated, I now mainly conduct my interviews, not in a face-to-face format, but over the telephone or via email. I now find that email techniques are my favoured. Please find this example from my Tuesday evening class Copyright © CityLit 2023 & Mark Starkey.

Interviewing Techniques - Strategy:

 Do your research. Pull out anything they have said before or any

interviews they have done

 Choose your location – it is important both to set the tone and for

your writing

 A good interview is a combination of apparent spontaneity and

responsiveness, good research and searching questions

 Plan your strategy carefully. Start with the easy questions first to

get them talking about themselves. Make the interviewee feel

special - strategy, ammunition and weapons are the key to

successkeys to success.

 Listen, engage, interact and make eye contact

 Body language is useful – mirror, pace, lead

 Do not read off a list of questions but allow the interview to flow

 Tick off what has been answered on your list so that you know to

come back to questions later

 Allow for reflection – in doing so your interviewee will feel more

relaxed and engaged

 Ensure your questions illustrate your knowledge about them or

who they represent

 Leave a door open – for contact afterward in case there are further



Here's an example of a recent interview conducted by me via email: (questions in black, responses in red)

Dear (editors name),

1)    How many dog(s) do you have?

1 Dog

2)    What are their names, gender, breed and ages?

Rosco, Male, CockerPoo, 3 years 6 months

3)    Is/are your dog(s) a pedigree or crossbreed?

Cross bread (Poodle/Cocker Spaniel)

4)    How long have you owned your dog(s)?

Since he was 8 weeks old

5)    What activities do you do with your dog(s)? e.g. Walking, running, ball games, dog shows, taking your dog to work etc.

Mostly walking, no shows, he comes to work once a week as I now don’t work from home.

6)    What makes your dog happy?

Being around people and other dogs, he is very social and affectionate.

7)    What does your dog do to make you happy?

Rosco is always there, he gives us as much love and attention as we give him. He snuggles when we feel sad. He knows when we are getting stressed and sits with us all day if needed, just stroking his back, head and belly gives us some much-needed mental release as we feel instantly happier in his presence. He is always happy to see us as we are him. Walking him gives us purpose and meaning for exercise. He is a good dog, a great dog, and we love him.

Great responses, but this doesn't always work. Interviewees can either forget (follow up with a gentle reminder) or just choose not to reply. The above example was sent out to eight recipients, but only four responded, answering all/most of my questions. As mentioned earlier, interviews can also be conducted via telephone or face to face.

You can read a (rough) article 'Writing for Magazines' written by me which you can download by clicking here.

That's all for now - tomorrow I'll cover recording and transcribing your interview(s) - so you've probably had enough by now - back to my homepage.