Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Couple of Things . . .

First of all you may already know that the People’s Friend is no longer sending out contributor copies, but contributors can buy a subscription at a reduced rate. If you’re serious about writing for the magazine, you should be buying it anyway and if you’re a contributor then the sale of one story will easily cover the cost of a subscription.

I have heard grumbles from contributors about having to go out and buy a copy of the magazine, but I feel if you want to write for a particular magazine and you want that magazine to buy your stories, the least you can do is buy it!

There, that’s my piece said. I shall now step down from my soap box and carry on . . .

Having had my little rant, I’ll move on to something more exciting.

My daughter had a scan last week which revealed that the baby due in December is a boy. I got so excited when I heard the news, had a bit of a cry and went round with a big smile on my face for the rest of the day.

It occurred to me later that I would have had that reaction whatever the sex of the baby.

And finally – oh this means there is more than a couple of things doesn’t it. Hey ho, isn’t that what we do? Start writing something and then go with the flow?

I am up to page 685 of The Dome and I am happy to say all that breathless anticipation was not in vain. And that big list of characters in the front – well I now know all those people and anyone familiar with the work of Stephen King will know and understand that I know them well.

I was going to wait till I’d finished to write about it, but something happened yesterday that made me want to write about it NOW!

We took the dogs for a walk along the Essex Way. The crops are pale yellow, ripe and ready and you can hear them popping in the heat. I looked up the hill across one of the fields and “Look at the sky!” I said with rather more wonder and surprise than it deserved.

My beloved looked and his expression said “What of it?” I got all excited about the colour, the beautiful clear blue, the cleanness of it and his expression changed to “My god she’s finally lost it.” It is after all the same sky we always see.

But then I came to my senses. I have been so immersed in The Dome, so involved in it, that I have been In The Dome seeing the sky as the residents of the Mill see it. In my mind anyway. That book is so inside me that I feel as if I am living in Chester’s Mill, Maine and I would not be surprised to bump into Julia Shumway walking her Corgi Horace.

It is Stephen King at his best. It reminds me why at one time I read his books over and over again with the occasional visit with Dean Koontz, Richard Laymon, Robert Holdstock or Graham Masterton. It reminds me why I have kept all his books and will never part with any of them. Why I am a Constant Reader.

I read a lot more widely now I am pleased to say, but for me Stephen King remains the master.

Anyway, something I have noticed in this book. Characters with similar names. Ginny and Gina, Rennie and Rommie, Andy, Andi and Audi – something we are told not to do for fear of confusing the reader (in fact some advocate that we shouldn’t even use the same initial letters for characters) and something I would agree with up to a point but Not In This Case. The characters are so well drawn, so distinctive; you couldn’t possibly read about one and mistake them for another.

I’ve read the reviews on Amazon. Some (not many!) people say it is too long, that the ending is too far fetched. Well, deep breath, it isn’t too long for me and as I’m less than 200 pages from the end I’m getting that sinking feeling that it will soon be over and I don’t want it to be – I’d be happy if it went on for another 800 pages.

As for the ending, well, I’ll know when I get there and then the book will go on my shelf to be read again . . . and again . . .


  1. Well now, 2 points from me.

    1. The character naming - we are advised to avoid similar sounding names or even names with the same initial in case we are not so good at character definition/creation as someone like Stephen King. But I'd like to say that if our characters are too alike and readers can't tell them apart, then we need to do more character work anyway rather than just change their names. When we can do that, then we're getting good at it. Meanwhile, if we're happy to be slack, lazy, not work so hard, and be satisfied with poor characterisation, then yes, by all means, avoid giving them similar sounding names. :o)

    2. DC Thomson for too long spoiled the lot of us, and I think that is where the shock factor is setting in. Okay, so maybe they don't pay as highly as others, but they paid on acceptance (oh, joy!), only bought first rights (deeper joy!), were nice to work for, we loved working for them, have always been friendly, and they looked after us. Now they're looking after themselves for a while to maybe ensure we have somewhere to send our work in the future. I admit I've dragged my own soapbox around about what disappointment we've suffered recently, but I've grown to realise that if they hadn't spoiled us in the first place, we wouldn't notice it these days, and we'd certainly not be moaning about it. So I'm going to stop moaning about them NOW. I hope they forgive me.

    3. (Diane can't count) I don't think we should be sending material to a publication we've not even read anyway, but it would be nice if they told us exactly when it would appear (Thomson do) so we could dash out an buy a copy. I always bought a copy when I was in anyway, regardless of whether or not I also got a comp copy.

    I'm taking my soap box back to my place now ...

  2. The Dome sounds enthralling. I noticed it on special offer somewhere this week, so maybe I should give it a go after your enthusiastic report! When Stephen King is at his best I think no-one can compare with his ability to maintain suspense.

  3. i've heard great reviews of the dome, must read it!
    congratulations on the boy, such a blessingx

  4. I've never read any Stephen King, but you've made me think I really must.

  5. Elizabeth McKay3 August 2010 at 15:46

    Congratulations on the new baby boy about to make his appearance in the not too distant future, Teresa. I agree that DCT have always been great to work with and even now, they're taking the trouble to keep writers informed of when our stories will be published so we don't miss them. My 90 year old mother gets the PF every week and she always felt she was one up on her friends when I got my comp copy before anyone else did. Apart from On Writing, which is excellent, I have to confess I've never read any of SK's books. I might add him to my ever growing list, but there just never seems to be enough time to read everything I want to!

  6. I usually love Stephen King, but I wasn't that keen on Lisey's Story so haven't bought The Dome yet.

    But I did receive a Waterstone's voucher for my birthday, so maybe I'll think again, given your comments!

  7. It's true you should buy and read a magazine, Teresa, if you want to write for it. There's another side to it, though. There are, what, six? stories in each week's magazine. I don't know how much People's Friend costs these days but say it's one pound. That's six pounds a week, yes? It's hardly going to impact on their economic survival so they are using it as an excuse. So far as I am concerned it's professional courtesy to send a contributor a complimentary copy when their piece is published and I am disappointed DCC is going down that road.

  8. I used to love Stephen King but I haven't read one of his books for years - will have to try the dome though.

    I gave up submitting stories to People's Friend after many, many rejections. Yes I know I should have kept going but there's only so much rejection a woman can take at one time! But having had a couple published in Australia I will start again with People's Friend soon. You don't get a contributor's copy with That's Life over there either so that doesn't bother me!

    Julie xx

  9. So, are you a Stephen King fan, then? I was picking up a few subtle clues that you might be.

  10. Diane – you put it all so much better than me. I owe so much to D C Thomson – I still have the encouraging rejections they sent me when I first started out.

    Yes give it a go, Joanne.

    Thank you, Jenny.

    I envy you, Helen. I sometimes wish I’d only just discovered him so I’d have all those books he’d written to yet discover!

    Thank you, Elizabeth. My mum used to get very excited about seeing the comp copies in advance too. I always gave them to her and bought my own. On Writing is brilliant isn’t it.

    Bernadette – it’s funny you should mention Lisey’s Story because that’s the one SK book that I didn’t enjoy.

    I don’t know how many comp copies they would have to send out, Marian, but it would be for the serials, series and articles as well. I seem to remember they used to send out 6 copies of each issue to the serial writers. I always looked on the comp copies as a nice little added bonus and I think a lot of people have to give up bonuses these days. And as Diane says, they’ve been good to us over the years.

    Julie, don’t give up! You must get so much good material to use for PF stories with working at the school – heart warming stories as they say!

    Oops - Does it show, Patsy?

  11. Sorry, it's me again ...

    My Weekly used to send out comp copies to everyone. Even the letter writers. So, using this week's issue as a guide, that's 16 from the letters page, 2 from real life, 5 for short stories, 4 from bright ideas, 5 columnists, 2 articles, and an astrologer. There were also 4 items written by staffers this time, but which have and can also be provided by freelances, plus another 4 regulars that had no credit. So that's at least 35 comp copies + extra when there's a serial + extra when more articles come from outside. Multiply that by how many issues per year, including the specials, and it's a lot of comp copies.

    There aren't many magazines that automatically send a comp copy. As I said before, Thomsons have spoiled us in the past.

    Right, really hanging my soap box up now ...

  12. Just been to the library to get my first Stephen King.

  13. I know all about giving up bonuses, Teresa; the magaszine I sold most of my stories to over the years - we both know which one it is - cut my usual fee by almost a third last year because of the economic situation. Sending complimentary copies for publishing firms is a drop in the ocean compared to other outgoings. However, having said all that, I would hate to fall out about it. We'll just have to agree to differ on this one.

  14. Thanks for those figures - it works out even more than I realised, Diane. I didn't know they sent copies to letter writers as well.

    Which one did you get, Keith?

    We won't fall out, Marian - much nicer to agree to differ. Everyone is entitled to their opinions and I can see your point :-)

  15. I got The Dome for Christmas and I couldn't put it down - it was as good as The Stand in my opinion, although, like The Stand, I was a little disappointed with the way the ending worked out...

  16. I thought it was as good as The Stand too, Jenn. The ending was okay, but I think I may have to read it all again soon. Classic King though wasn't it.

  17. How exciting - a little Chirstmas grandson. I know what you mean about being excited whatever the sex, but I think finding out makes it all seem so much more real.

    I adore everyone I've ever dealt with at DC Thomson (all three of them). Knowing the company have recently announced 350 job cuts I think we should all take the loss of the contributor copies on the chin. And, as you rightly said, Teresa, we should be buying our own copies in any case.


  18. I'm ridiculously excited, Suzanne :-)
    They are lovely at DCT aren't they. So very nice to deal with and I owe them such a lot.
    I was shocked when I heard about the job cuts, so sad.