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THE UK?S BESTSELLING WRITING MAGAZINE FOR OVER 25 YEARS
SEPTEMBER 2017
!
WI,N
910
�
G
IN WRITIN
PRIZES
5
SECRETS OF
WRITING A
BESTSELLER
INCLUDING
Growing little
seeds into
BIG
IDEAS
20 PACKED PAGES OF
NEWS YOU CAN USE
3 31 competitions to enter
3 44 opportunities to get published
3 Insider know-how and more?
NOW WITH
EASY-READ
ARTICLE VIEWER
PLUS
BONUS AUDIO
AND BOOK
EXTRACTS
GOOD METADATA
SELLS BOOKS?
Titles carrying descriptive
metadata: descriptions,
author biogs and reviews,
see average sales increases
of 65% higher than titles
without enriched data.
Want to know how?
Visit the Nielsen ISBN Store:
www.nielsenisbnstore.com
2
SEPTEMBER 2017
p002_wmseptember17.indd 2
www.writers-online.co.uk
24/07/2017 10:50
E D I TO R ? S L E T T E R
Welcome...
THE UK?S BESTSELLING WRITING MAGAZINE FOR OVER 25 YEARS
SEPTEMBER 2017
WIN!
�,910
G
IN WRITIN
PRIZES
09
9 770964 916259
5
�10
SECRETS OF
WRITING A
BESTSELLER
Growing little
seeds into
BIG
IDEAS
INCLUDING
20 PACKED PAGES OF
NEWS YOU CAN USE
? 31 competitions to enter
? 44 opportunities to get published
? Insider know-how and more?
WITH FEELING
How author Laura Barnett and songwriter Kathryn Williams
created a unique novel/album collaboration
p001_wmagSept.indd 1
25/07/2017 14:55
Published by
Warners Group Publications plc,
5th Floor, 31-32 Park Row, Leeds,
LS1 5JD, UK
Main office: 0113 200 2929
Fax: 0113 200 2928
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Website: www.writers-online.co.uk
Publisher: Collette Smith
Email:
collette.smith@warnersgroup.co.uk
Editor: Jonathan Telfer
Email: jtelfer@writersnews.co.uk
Dear Reader
Say yes. That?s one of the most striking pieces of advice in this month?s
packed issue, and it comes from a perhaps unexpected source, singersongwriter Kathryn Williams. Say yes to things beyond your skillset; say
yes to things you might not yet know how to do; say yes to creative
ideas even though you don?t know how they?ll turn out. Start writing, says
Kathryn, and you?ll find a way. I couldn?t agree more. Without wishing to be
overly fanciful about it, the best art in any medium, the most memorable,
the most affecting, doesn?t come from a safe space. It comes from artists
stepping outside their comfort zone. It comes, most importantly, from
trying something new.
We don?t, of course, expect you to go it completely alone. We?ve got
a trio of great special features this month aiming to fire you up, whether
you?re a first-timer or an old hand: on nurturing and making the most
of your ideas, choosing the right creative path for your project and your
writing style, and shaping your novel into a bestseller. And of course our
regular advice on everything from poetry to picture books.
So dive in, be inspired, throw off your shackles and get writing. And you
are going to try something new this month, aren?t you? Hint: say yes.
Assistant editor: Tina Jackson
Email: tjackson@warnersgroup.co.uk
TAP HERE
TO WATCH
A WELCOME FROM
THE EDITOR
Jonathan Telfer
Editor
Senior designer: Nathan Ward
Email: nathanw@warnersgroup.co.uk
Editorial designer: Mary Ward
Email: maryw@warnersgroup.co.uk
Editorial designer: Rajneet Gill
Email: rajneetg@warnersgroup.co.uk
Marketing: Lauren Beharrell
lauren.beharrell@warnersgroup.co.uk
Advertising sales: Daniel Batten
Email: danielb@media-shed.co.uk
Tel: 01354 818010
Advertising copy email:
writersproduction@warnersgroup.co.uk
Subscriptions:
writingmagazine@warnersgroup.co.uk
Creative Writing Courses:
writingcourses@warnersgroup.co.uk
Competitions:
writingcourses@warnersgroup.co.uk
Competitions Department, Warners
Group Publications plc, 5th Floor, 31-32
Park Row, Leeds, LS1 5JD, UK
Typeset by:
Warners Group Publications plc,
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When you have finished with
this magazine please recycle it
KATHY GALE
ALEX DAVIS
Kathy Gale was editorial director
of Pan Macmillan, marketing
director of Simon & Schuster
and joint managing director
of The Women?s Press. For
seven years she was project
director of the Quick Reads
charity, which encouraged more
widespread reading across the
UK and Ireland. She is now a
psychotherapist, executive coach
and writing coach and recently
launched Writers? Studio:
Coaching Groups for Authors,
which is currently looking for
submissions.
www.kgpublishingservices.co.uk
Alex Davis is literature officer
for QUAD in Derby, a freelance
author, events organiser, tutor,
proof-reader and copy editor
specialising in science-fiction,
fantasy and horror fiction. He
teaches writing courses and
workshops, and co-ordinates
the Derby festivals Edge-Lit
and Sledge-Lit. His debut
novel The Last War was
released in 2016 and he has
a range of short stories due
for publication soon. Contact
Alex at alexdavisevents@
hotmail.co.uk or follow
@AlexDavis1981 on Twitter.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying,
recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of Warners Group Publications plc. No responsibility can be taken for artwork and photographs in postage. Whilst every care is taken
of material submitted to the editor for publication, no responsibility can be accepted for loss or damage.
Email submissions preferred. All mss must be typewritten and accompanied by a sae for return.
� Copyright Warners Group Publications plc. ISSN 0964-9166
Warners Group Publications plc are not able to investigate the products or services provided by the advertisers in Writing Magazine nor to make recommendations about them. Readers
should make sensible enquiries themselves before sending money or incurring substantial costs in sending manuscripts or other material. Take particular care when responding to
advertisers offering to publish manuscripts. While few conventional publishers seek a financial contribution from authors, many such advertisers do seek a payment (sometimes
thousands of pounds) and readers should remember there can be no guarantees such publishing arrangements will prove profitable. There have been cases in which subsidy publishers
have provided unduly optimistic reports on manuscripts to encourage authors to commit themselves to financial contribution. Readers should be aware of this and should not allow their
judgment to be blurred by optimism. Manuscript advisory services do normally charge for their time, but agents normally do not (although some agents do quote a reading fee). While
Warners Group Publications plc cannot act as a licensing or accreditation authority, they will investigate complaints against advertisers. Complainants must, however, send complete
documentation and be willing for their names to be disclosed.
www.writers-online.co.uk
p3 Editor's letter.indd 3
MARGARET JAMES
Margaret James is the author
of the Charton Minster novels
featuring the Denham family.
Girl in Red Velvet is the sixth
in the series. She writes the
Fiction Focus pages and some
of the author profiles for Writing
Magazine. Margaret, Cathie
Hartigan and Sophie Duffy
are CreativeWritingMatters,
a company that organises
several international literary
competitions including the
Exeter Novel Prize, which is
currently open for entries.
www.creativewritingmatters.
co.uk
SEPTEMBER 2017
3
28/07/2017 10:28
IN THIS ISSUE
36 42
16
WRITERS? NEWS
80 Your essential monthly roundup
INTERVIEWS AND PROFILES
of competitions, paying markets,
opportunities to get into print and
publishing industry news
ON THE COVER 16 Star interview: Hitting the right notes
The story of a musician looking back over her career
prompted an inspiring creative collaboration between
bestselling novelist Laura Barnett and Mercury-nominated
singer-songwriter Kathryn Williams
PUBLISHING
10 Grumpy Old Bookman: Play money
Author earnings aren?t always great, but we don?t have
it so bad
20 On writing: Evelyn Waugh
26 How I got published: Emelie Schepp
The Swedish crime author self-published her debut
20 Agent opinion: From the other side of the desk
Literary agent Piers Blofeld looks forward to reading for
pleasure this summer
28 Beat the bestsellers
The style and technique of Edna O?Brien
34 Design: Get it covered
Judge these books by their covers in our guide to making
sure your book cover is the best it can be
36 Shelf life: Michael Connelly
The crime writer shares his top five reads
48 Subscriber spotlight
WM subscribers share their writing success stories
WRITING LIFE
54 Circles? roundup
Writing groups share their interests and activities
25 Beginners: Lift your chances
Be ready for your sixty-second chance to shine with
Adrian Magson?s pitch correction
66 Crimefile: Linwood Barclay
The bestseller discusses his writing process and latest
novel, Parting Shot
78 New author profile: Nigel May
The celebrity world provides the writer with fact and
fiction fodder
100 My writing day: John Marrs
It?s a hectic writing day for the magazine journalist and
novelist
4
SEPTEMBER 2017
p4 contents.indd 4
45 Novel ideas
70 The business of writing: Fees paid, pain free!
Problems getting paid? Simon Whaley courts the idea of
legal action
102 Notes from the margin: Brand beware
Lorraine Mace seeks help from the experts on building
her brand
www.writers-online.co.uk
25/07/2017 14:12
CONTENTS
FICTION
NON-FICTION
ON THE COVER 12 Fiction: Growing the acorn
Author James McCreet considers how to proceed when
inspiration first strikes
73 Research tips: Picture perfect
How to find just the right images for your projects
75 Going to market
ON THE COVER 14 The 5 secrets of writing a bestseller
Publisher and writing coach Kathy Gale shares the insider
insight that has helped her authors write bestsellers
21 Fiction: Ask a literary consultant
Helen Corner-Bryant weighs up using autobiographical
elements to bring authenticity to fiction
22 Fiction: Choose your own adventure
Creative writing is all about decisions, but which are the
right ones for you? Gary Dalkin helps you find your path
30 Beat the bestsellers: Ten top tips
Tony Rossiter looks back at some of the bestselling
authors featured in his new book, and gives his top tips
for aspiring writers
95 Travel writing know-how
POETRY
60 Poetry workshop: Sonnets from the Greek
Alison Chisholm explores verses using a sonnet form to
explore the theme of poetry itself
61 Poetry in practice
Creating rhythm and lyricism in free verse
62 Poetry form A to Z
An alphabetic guide through the language of poetry
40 Under the microscope
James McCreet explores the magic realist opening of a
reader?s thriller
COMPETITIONS AND EXERCISES
31 & 57 Win cash prizes and publication in our latest
creative writing competitions
42 Fiction focus: The magic number
Margaret James explores the power of three in
your writing
32 & 58 Read the winning entries in our latest short story
competitions
44 Talk it over: The long and the short of it
Advice on strategies for making the leap from plotting
short stories to a novel
46 Masterclass: Keeping the faith
An object lesson in sensitive characterisation by Joanne
Harris, explored by Helen M Walters
64 Writing for children: How do they do it?
In the first of a two-part feature on what makes a
successful children?s book work, we look at picture books
68 Fantastic realms: The bloody lands
How much should fantasy fiction show? Alex Davis checks
his armoury
55 Circles? roundup: Give us a clue
Exploit your writers? natural curiosity with this writing
group exercise
72 Train your brain: Red editing pen
REGULARS
6 Miscellany
8 Letters
12 Away from your desk: Upcoming writing events
38 Editorial calendar
67 Behind the tape: Expert advice on crime writing
74 Helpline: Your writing problems solved
76 Writers? web watch
77 Computer clinic
68
70
www.writers-online.co.uk
p4 contents.indd 5
SEPTEMBER 2017
5
25/07/2017 14:12
MISCELLANY
THE WORLD OF
WRITING
This month?s wide world of writing includes ghostly goings on, punny
names and short story vending machines
Ghostwriter Andrew Croft has been explaining the code
which should be followed by those penning words for others.
Writing in the Times Literary Supplement, Andrew declared:
?However much we ghosts may regret having agreed to apply
lipstick to a client who turns out to be a pig, the deal has
been done and we must stick to it.?
He said that those who are ghosted ?know that their
reputations are going to be channelled through our eyes, and they are eager to make the
right impression while at the same time maintaining the upper hand.?
They like meeting in their palatial homes or in hotels that they think will reflect
well on them. ?The darkly polished Bulgari Hotel in Knightsbridge, equidistant from
Harrods and Harvey Nichols, is particularly popular with Russians, Middle Easterners
and Africans as a venue for brief meetings. For more lingering lunches, they usually
favour the Rib Room in Sloane Street?s Jumeirah Carlton Tower, owned by the grandees
of Dubai, or China Tang, in the bowels of the Dorchester.?
His rules include: Remember that you may receive no recognition at all for writing
the book, should it come to fruition.
Once the job is over, so is your relationship.
You don?t argue with your clients, or challenge their statements, however
repulsive you may find them personally, unless they are contradicting themselves
or saying something that either the publishers or the eventual readers are going to
find hard to swallow.
? Andrew?s Secrets of the Italian Gardener (Red Door) is now out in paperback
6
SEPTEMBER 2017
p6 Miscellany.indd 6
Reading and writing
Prolific writer Susan Sontag
(1933-2004) once told the
New York Times that ?to write
is to practise, with particular
intensity and attentiveness, the
art of reading.?
She said: ?You write in
order to read what you?ve
written and see if it?s okay,
and, since of course it never
is, to rewrite it ? once,
twice, as many times as
it takes to get it to be
something you can bear
to reread. You are your
own first, maybe severest, reader. ?To write is to
sit in judgment on oneself,? Ibsen inscribed on
the flyleaf of one of his books. Hard to imagine
writing without rereading.
?But is what you?ve written straight off never all
right? Yes, sometimes even better than all right.
And that only suggests, to this novelist at any rate,
that with a closer look, or voicing aloud ? that is,
another reading ? it might be better still.?
� Geraint Lewis, Writer Pictures
� Toby Phillips
Ghostwriters? rules
and their posh haunts
www.writers-online.co.uk
25/07/2017 09:47
MISCELLANY
Short stories go print on demand
Free vending machines issuing short stories for passengers to read on their journeys are being
provided in French railways stations.
Gabriel Samuels, writing in The Independent, said that more than 5,000 anonymous
authors submitted stories to be included in the machines, and 35 stations were having the
yellow boxes fitted following a successful trial in Grenoble.
?The machines have numbered buttons, allowing passengers to choose whether they want
their story to take one, three or five minutes to read. The stories cover a range of topics,
including narratives from classical literature, lyrical poetry and fairy tales, according to the
publishers who conceived the project,燬hort Edition.?�
Short Edition director Christophe Sibieude told� French cultural Telerama: ?Our ambition
is to see distributors pop up everywhere to encourage reading� and writing, and promote our
artists. Brief stories have a place in our lives.?
Gabriel added: ?Film director Francis Ford Coppola is said to be a fan of the machines and
has installed one in the bar he owns in San Francisco.?
Figures of speech
Return of the Planet of the Grapes
Puns can be profitable.
Having a funny name ensures likely customers remember the company which is
using humour as a sales pitch.
Bizarre British business names identified during a survey by Vistaprint included a
carpet cleaner called Spruce Springclean, a locksmith known as Surelock Homes, a
wine bar, Planet of the Grapes, florists Floral and Hardy and a fish-and-chip shop,
A Fish Called Rhondda.
UK head of Vistaprint, Oliver Harcourt said: ?Some of the shops from our poll
are businesses that are generations old, showing that a catchy name can stand the
test of time.? Others on the list of UK odd shop names爓ere solicitors WrightHassall and a female-led tiling and plumbing company, Bonnie Tiler.
Children?s champion has a wish list
focused, allowing yourself to meander
along and observe things.?
Lauren also told The Bookseller that
another area of interest is ?elevating the
art form of children?s books?, which she
feels are ?often seen as the poor relation
to adult novels and fine art?.
She believes� in libraries, particularly
in schools. ?Libraries are tremendously
important, not just because it is
perhaps a child?s first access to a book,
but because of the community aspect.
I will continue to support them in
any way I can.?
www.writers-online.co.uk
p6 Miscellany.indd 7
� Sheila Masson/Writer Pictures
Children?s Laureate Lauren Child, author and illustrator of
Charlie and Lola, told The Bookseller?s Heloise Wood in a wideranging interview that she came to her career in children?s books
?in a very strange, roundabout way?.
Lauren said: ?I had a few attempts at writing children?s picture
books over the course of several years and each one was rejected
for perfectly good reasons, so I gave up trying. I did various other
things and finally I wrote an idea for a film which I illustrated and
wrote and that became my first book,燙larice Bean, That?s Me.?
Now, she is keen to champion creativity and individuality in
young people. ?I really want to talk about the need for children
to be allowed and encouraged to be creative. I wish we had a
bit more time to explore. We all need that, because it?s how
we discover things. So many ideas come out of not being too
SEPTEMBER 2017
7
25/07/2017 09:48
TITLE
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
We want to hear your news and views on the writing world, your advice for fellow writers
? and don?t forget to tell us what you would like to see featured in a future issue...
Write to: Letters to the editor, Writing Magazine, Warners
Group Publications plc, 5th Floor, 31-32 Park Row, Leeds
LS1 5JD; email: letters@writersnews.co.uk. (Include your
name and address when emailing letters. Ensure all
letters, a maximum of 250 words, are exclusive to Writing
Magazine. Letters may be edited.)
When referring to previous articles/letters, please state
month of publication and page number.
STAR LETTER
DON?T BLAME US
Star power
I recently paid a visit to the wonderful and inspiring Hay Festival. Having
been a regular attender for many years, this year I was able to take my
children who are of an age when they can fully appreciate it. We chose two
workshops, one by the talented and very entertaining Kristina Stephenson
and the other by the genius that is Michael Rosen.
The workshops of about an hour each were engaging, lively, funny and
awe inspiring. As an aspiring children?s writer the visit was two-fold; first to
introduce my children to this wonderful new experience and second to check
out how they presented themselves if I should ever get the chance to stand up
in front of any audience (for me I?m thinking village hall, supportive friends
and family and perhaps the odd walker who has lost their way and stumbled
upon my debut as a speaker by accident!).
The two authors were slick, confident and pitched their presentation/
reading/singing in just the right way to keep an audience of ?shuffly? bums
engaged for a length of time. I was entertained, I joined in, I was amazed
and enthralled by these talented people. I had a brilliant time too and
came away just as my children did thinking that that was a brilliant way
to spend time together.
It was after that that the doubts set in. How could I hope to reach that
level? I?m never going to be as good as them. I haven?t even had anything
published (except perhaps this letter!). Having said that I wasn?t ready to
throw in the towel, I still have half a writers? course to finish, but it did knock
my confidence a bit.
I then received my latest edition of Writing Magazine and sat down to
enjoy its pages. Reading of others struggles, successes, and experiences made
me realise this isn?t a sprint, it?s a marathon. One where you have to prepare
and gain experience, keep going, pick yourself up occasionally and get to the
end. The many and talented writers, subscribers and contributors, you have
inspired me and put me back on track.
FIONA HARDING
Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire
The star letter each month earns a copy of the Writers?
& Artists? Yearbook 2017, courtesy of Bloomsbury,
www.writersandartists.co.uk
8
SEPTEMBER 2017
p8 Letters.indd 8
I just had to write to tell you that the ?10 things
that really are just procrastination? (WM, June)
made me laugh out loud. I am nearing the end
of writing my second novel and I giggled guiltily
as I ticked off almost every item on the list. Yes,
I do check my grammar and punctuation on my
Facebook posts; yes, I do Google famous writers
to check out how many rejections their first
novels received and I have liked and commented
on many kitten videos.
My only suggestion to complete the list would
be the one of writing a letter to WM to say how
the ?10 things that really are just procrastination?
made me laugh out loud?
Okay, okay, I?m going back to the writing.
MAXINE SINCLAIR
Norwich
GREEN OVER GREEN
Now, I do, on the whole, prefer a physical magazine or
book, but I had to laugh when I read Michael Fisher?s
letter (WM, July): He?s earning $2,000 a month
and unpaid amateurs consider him not to be a real
writer because it?s online? Jealousy, definitely jealousy.
Especially when you consider that income is coming
from readers who get the stories for free and choose to
donate as an expression of their appreciation. Compare
that to the writer whose story, appearing in print,
may be the only one in an anthology none of the
readers particularly liked or the author whose novel
was bought because the premise sounded great only
for the buyer to regret their decision halfway through.
Michael Fisher very definitely is a real writer and one
whose readers clearly love his writing. Whichever
medium your work appears in, that?s really all a
writer wants. That it pays so well is an added bonus.
Congratulations to him.
DJ TYRER
Southend-on-Sea, Essex
www.writers-online.co.uk
25/07/2017 09:49
L E T T E R S TO T H E E D I TO R
LETTER TO AN
EXPERIENCED WRITER
I raced to my manuscript and read my first line. Did it open
up my rib cage? Did it reach in and twist my heart backwards?
Fast forward and pictured myself in a large book stop where a
line of people all had a copy of my (as yet unpublished) book in
their hands. I looked around to see if there was a trail of blood
leading to the tills, suggesting that hearts had been wrenched out
and rib cages thrust open.
Colum McCann?s article ?Dear Writer? (WM, August) had so
much energy and vibrancy that I felt I needed a lie down after
reading it. But not before I checked my manuscript?s beginning
and end to see if they met with the requirements laid out by
Colum. I have a lot of work to do, so I rushed to the website
to get a copy of his book, Letters to a Young Writer, hoping
he wasn?t excluding people of a ?certain age? and just meant
someone newly on their writing journey.
All the articles in Writing Magazine are good, without
exception, but Colum just raised the bar. Thank you, Colum,
for giving me renewed vigour and hope that I can now deliver a
manuscript that will leave my readers breathless.
PAULINE DEWBERRY
Erith, Kent
Jane?s fame explained
I avidly read Sophie Beal?s article on Jane Austen (WM, July) and whilst
thoroughly enjoying Ms Beal?s analysis of the possible standing of her
literature if written in the present day, I was left a little confused as to
why her publishing success in this day and age was questionable. If Jane
Austen were writing in the present day then presumably her plot lines and
characters would be illustrative of her current society (following the widely
known fact that she wrote about the society she knew), and the strength
of her storytelling would inevitably carry her through.
Even if the argument is that had the novels had been written today but
set in 18th century England they would not appeal to publishing agents
because of the substance, values and writing style used by the author,
DISCOVERING THE
NEW WORLD
Having grown weary of a previous pastime, I found myself searching for
something else to occupy a few hours a week. I wasn?t looking for anything
too serious but did want something to get my teeth into. Nothing really
appealed until I noticed a copy of Writing Magazine in Sainsbury?s. Okay, I
thought, maybe I could try writing a short story, that?ll pass a little time.
Six months later a tiny portion of me would like my life back, but the
rest of me is blissfully lost in this whole new world. A new world filled
with so much to explore and learn. I?ve rediscovered the simple pleasure of
reading for reading?s sake, something I seemed to have mislaid as the years
have gone by. My grammar and punctuation had deteriorated since school
lessons over three decades ago, but now they are slowly improving. And as
for writing itself, well I feel like that kid in the sweet shop. (I know clich閟
are generally avoided, but until I have made myself sick in that very sweet
shop, please forgive me.)
I should do a writing-course, and will ? soon. But at the moment I am
still overwhelmed by this exciting new world, and a little saddened that I
didn?t discover it long ago.
GUY HINTON
Dudley, West Midlands
For what it?s worth, Guy, I find that particular clich� usage ? dropping in
the over-familiar image and honing it in the next line ? more than acceptable.
I look forward to more of your writing in the future ? Ed.
then again I remain unconvinced. I am sure there will be readers who,
like me, greatly enjoy history entwined with fiction, and Jane Austen?s
novels vividly bring to life the high class society that dominated
18th/19th-century England in a way that historical books could not
do. Even though the characters are from two centuries ago we feel
we know Emma Woodhouse and Elizabeth Bennett. 200 years on
these books remain unputdownable and I wonder whether 200 years
hence there will be a writer from today who will be as universally
celebrated as Austen is for illustrating our times with such vivacity
to the coming generations.
SAADIYA ALAM,
Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire
THE LAST WORD
Andrea Sarginson?s remarkable story Draw
what you see (WM, Feb 2017) deserves special
mention. She may be a late beginner but her
work exudes brilliance.
Her short story starts simply with a scene but
what follows seems like a journey through one?s
life. It ends with a tingling sensation that brings
back memories, even to the reader?s mind.
Her eye for details, seamless transition
between reality, past and thoughts are
noteworthy. Use of repetitive sentences evoke
questions about norms.
I have read and reread it with much pleasure.
Just like her protagonist she draws not what she
sees but what she thinks she sees.
Way to go, Andrea!
SUCHETA DUTTA
India
I just want to say how much I love watching
the editor of WM explain each issue on
the first page of the digital edition. I think
that the paper subscribers are missing out!
Sitting in front of the magazine?s office
desks, in his stripy jumper or shirt, he is
the friendly face I need. I like that he is
not a slick TV presenter and sometimes
stumbles over his words, but is genuine
and encouraging. I have the sense of him
beavering away editing and then pausing to
give us his guidance. I wonder if the digital
edition could include more writers speaking
to camera?
RUTH CULLEN
Culmore, Lampeter
Thank you Ruth, I?m glad somebody likes
them! (And shopping for new shirts.) ? Ed
www.writers-online.co.uk
p8 Letters.indd 9
While I am a very tall chap, I like my
fiction short. The different shapes of
stories, and the wonderful variety you
find in anthologies never cease to amaze
me. When writing too, I find it more
satisfying to play around with different
scenarios and characters rather than
getting lumbered with the same lot
for 120,000 words. With most authors
aspiring to publish their novel, us short
story writers are often overlooked ? as
if we are in training for the ?real task? to
come. I certainly respect novelists, and
wouldn?t rule out writing one later in life,
but for now, I?ll keep it short.
PHILIP CHARTER
Pamplona, Spain
SEPTEMBER 2017
9
25/07/2017 09:49
GRUMPY OLD BOOKMAN
Play money
Author earnings aren?t always great, but we don?t
have it so bad, says Michael Allen
A
few weeks ago I had
an email from the
accounts office of a
publisher. This message
said that a payment for
royalties would shortly be made into
my bank account.
Oh, I thought, that?s nice. So,
when the due date for payment
arrived, I had a look to see how
much I was getting.
It was �12.
This sad little payment did cause
me to think ? not for the first
time ? that one of the most useful
things I can do in this column is
try to explain to younger and less
experienced writers some of the
brutal facts of the writing life.
Where writers? earnings are
concerned, most of us tend to believe
what we read in the newspapers. And
most of that information is simply
misleading. Nevertheless, we continue
to believe, and remember, the gossipcolumn items about the six-figure
deals for first novels. And they do
happen occasionally ? eg Londonstani
(see Wikipedia). But most writers
struggle for years without making any
serious money at all.
In 2016 a European Commission
report showed that the average
annual income of ?professional?
writers in the UK was �,500.
That?s just 55% of UK average
earnings, and it?s 29% down, in real
terms, over a ten-year period.
Speaking as an amateur
statistician, I have doubts about
the validity and reliability of even
these payment data. The figures are
depressing as they stand, but in my
view they are serious over-estimates.
Writers who are not doing well do
not volunteer to take part in surveys
of income. Yes, JK Rowling and a
few others earn substantial sums, but
the truth is that most writers earn
less than your local church mice.
There were times when I felt a bit
10
JULY 2015
p010 Grumpy.indd 10
directors are semi-professional, but
hard treated by the publishing world
we just don?t talk about it.?
myself ? but then I began to dabble in
Some actors, on the other hand,
the world of theatre. And what
do talk about it. Online, Jonathan
I discovered there is that
Harden interviews apparently
many ?full-time? actors and
successful actors who reveal
directors have an even
how precarious their careers
harder life than writers.
In the theatre the general
actually are. (To find
Moonlighting is almost
Harden?s web site, search
standard practice.
rule of thumb is this: don?t
Google for The Honest
During a period
get too excited, because
Actors? Podcast).
of over thirty years,
Theoretically there?s an
I had two plays for
in the end it probably
Equity minimum rate for
the stage professionally
won?t happen
acting in a professional play;
produced: ie people paid
but it?s often ignored. Several
money for tickets. I had
years ago I was told about a
several more plays which
production of three new full-length
reached an advanced point in
plays in a well-known London
the production process ? but then,
fringe theatre. The actors in each
at the last moment, the plans all
play were expected to complete
collapsed. So I learnt the hard way
three weeks of full-time rehearsal,
that in the theatre the general rule
followed by three weeks of nightly
of thumb is this: don?t get too excited,
performances. And in return for
because in the end it probably
their six weeks? labour (reviewed
won?t happen.
in the Times, Guardian, etc), each
An actor who was in one play of
actor was paid �.
mine told me how he had managed
That?s � total. Not � a day, or
to pursue a thirty-year career without
a week. Just � full stop.
losing heart. First, he was lucky enough
As for writers being paid in the
to have a modest private income,
theatre? Oh dear, oh dear. Once
which kept him going through the
again, playwrights are supposed to be
blank spots when he couldn?t get a job
paid certain minimum rates. And if
to save his life. Second, he had another
your play is put on by the National,
source of income, besides acting: in
you will be; currently �,554, with a
his case he painted portraits, and was
contract written on calfskin vellum, I
rather good at it.
dare say. But, if my experience is any
This same actor?s agent once
guide, and if your play is offered in a
remarked to him, ?Jonathan, I?ve got
fringe theatre in a spare room above
some very talented actors and directors
a public bar, then you won?t be paid
on my books, and quite frankly I don?t
anything. Much. You will pay out
know how two thirds of them keep
more in expenses than you carry home
body and soul together.?
in royalties, and contracts will take the
Neither do I, but where theatre
form of a smile and a handshake.
directors are concerned I can
However? We writers may be
offer a few hints. Derek Bond is a
badly treated, but we are far better off
prize-winning director who works
than actors in one respect at least. We
when he can. But, in a June 2016
can always can get on with writing the
article for the Guardian, he freely
next book or play while we?re waiting
admitted that he needs another job
for our talent to be recognised. Actors,
to survive. Half of theatre directors
meanwhile, just have to wait for the
in Britain earn less than �000
phone to ring.
a year, he says, and ?most theatre
??
www.writers-online.co.uk
25/07/2017 09:50
Away from your desk
Get out of your garret for some upcoming activities and places to visit
Back soon!
Writing and mindfulness
Jo Bisseker Barr will be running Write Your Mind self
development through creative writing workshops in the
New Forest on 15 and 28 September.
Website: http://writeyourmind.co.uk/
French leave
Author and teacher Maria Barrett
is leading a new residential creative
writing retreat at Maison du Guit
in South West France between 3
and 9 September
Website: www.maisonduguit.
com/writing-courses
Hare over to Harrogate
The genteel Yorkshire town of Harrogate is the
charming setting for the Raworths Harrogate
Literature Festival from 19 to 22 October, with
speakers including Joanna Cannon, Miranda
Sawyer, Cathy Rentzenbrick and Gail Honeyman.
Website: http://harrogateinternationalfestivals.
com/raworths-literature-festival/
A festival for writers
The Festival of Writing
in York from 8 to 10
September gives writers the
chance to meet agents and
publishers and get advice
from published authors.
Website: www.
writersworkshop.co.uk/
events.html
Can?t beat the Bront雜
Getting Yourself Out There: Self Publishing
and Self Promotion, a discussion on 22
September about publishing alternatives
between academic Laurie Garrison and
novelists Sarah Dunnakey, Jane Davis and
Helen Taylor that is part of the Bront�
Festival of Women?s Writing.
Website: http://writ.rs/
brontefestivalwomenswriting
p011 What's on.indd 26
Hilary headlines
Hilary Mantel tops the bill at Budleigh
Salterton Literary Festival (13 to
16 September), which also includes
Richard Coles, Michael Morpurgo and
Sarah Perry.
Website: www.budlitfest.org.uk
25/07/2017 09:52
GROWING THE ACORN
Author James McCreet considers how to proceed when inspiration first strikes
S
ome authors describe it as
the initial itch. For others,
it?s a kind intuition or
series of connections ? as
when you notice the same
word some days in a row. Often, it?s
so vague that you?re barely aware
of it as a thought. It drifts in and
out of your consciousness like the
forgotten name of a childhood
friend or that word you?ve been
trying to remember for days. It?s
that magical and precious thing: an
idea for a novel.
Ideas are rare enough. We can?t
force them and we can?t actively
search them out. We can only
be receptive to them and expose
ourselves to the kind of stimuli
that invite them. But when they
begin to hover at the edges of our
mind, we need to know how best to
handle them. Even the most perfect
acorn is going to rot and die if its
soil is too dry, too wet, too acidic,
too thin. Ideas take time to nurture
and we need to prepare the ground
to encourage them.
I?ve been the grateful recipient
of an idea in the last month or so.
I recognised it as an idea when
? after a week or so of fluttering
thoughts ? I bought a notebook
12
SEPTEMBER 2017
p012 Grow a story.indd 12
and wrote a provisional title. But
now is the most dangerous time ?
the time when the idea is most frail
and tenuous. I need to start giving
it the things it needs to grow. Here
are some of them.
Will it sell?
The most vulgar and demoralising
of questions to assail the nascent
idea. Yes, we should be guided
primarily by passion and creativity,
but readers and publishers want a
story. It?s my responsibility as the
author to consider whether my idea
is something I?ll be able to pitch to
a market. Much as I love writing, I
don?t want to spend a few months
working on something nobody is ever
going to see.
It?s not ?selling out? ? it?s being
professional. However abstract and
arty my idea may be, I need to think
about how I can impose upon it the
structures and themes that readers can
work with. A book has to be readable.
It has to be sellable. I?m already
playing with one-sentence pitches that
summarise what the book is about:
the kind of easy encapsulations that
marketing departments like. These
will help guide any future work I do
on structure.
The balance is in developing an
idea that?s true to my vision and
interests, but which is also a book
written to sit on a shelf. I?m writing it
for me and according to my standards
of what?s good, but I?m also hoping a
lot of people will read it. That means
a base minimum of commerciality. It
means applying the professional craft
to an artistic concept.
Who?s telling the story?
Perhaps the most critical question
of all ? and the one that many
first-time novelists don?t ask until
they?ve already started (or finished!)
The decision about first-person or
third-person has a massive effect on
how the book will be written and
perceived. It affects how characters
will be understood and even how
many characters there can be. Thirdperson omniscience allows multiple
viewpoints and narrative richochets,
whereas first-person anchors the
reader to a perspectival centre. Which
approach best suits the idea?
The choice of narrative perspective
will affect everything else: thematic
development, structure, pace,
chronology, intensity of immersion,
reliability... I need to think very
carefully about the spectrum
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25/07/2017 09:53
FICTION
through which I?m going to project
my idea and how that idea is going
to strike the reader.
Story or character?
What is going to drive the eventual
book? Will it be a journey of
events and discoveries? Will it be a
thematic exploration? Will it be the
study of a relationship with all of its
complex geographies? It might be
all three. Such questions are critical
because they will dictate how the
idea begins to gather momentum.
For example, a story-based
novel is going to require a specific
superstructure on the vague thematic
foundations I already have. What
kind of story might I want to tell?
Will it move slowly or quickly?
What are its stages? What might
its conclusion be? Where will the
journey take the reader? Is the story
in danger of drowning out the theme
I want to explore? How can I design
a story that explores the theme?
Or perhaps I shouldn?t think in
terms of story just yet. Maybe I
should do more work on character.
At present, I have ideas for only
three very amorphous characters
who are stronger than any sense of
story. It might be a good idea to
think in terms of character arcs for
each of these and use those as the
basis for an eventual structure.
At this stage, there?s no pressure.
I?m barely writing anything in my
notebook. The key is to let these
things roll around my mind for
weeks or months until they begin to
take on more weight and persuasion.
You can?t rush it or force it. You can
only interrogate it gently.
and revelations, a chronological
flow would be best. I think, though,
that it?s going to be a story about
confusion and distraction and being
lost. The reader will need to feel this,
and so I?m already thinking that the
narrative will have to unfold as a kind
of temporal jigsaw in which past and
present collide simultaneously.
This immediately makes the book
less commercial, so I need to think
about how I retain the complexity
while also signposting structure for
the reader. Will chapters be dated or
titled? Could the story be pinned to
specific character perspectives so the
reader doesn?t get lost? I have no idea.
These are the questions I must roll
around my head in the coming weeks.
Themes and motifs
The idea has grown out of a
theme, but that theme needs much
more work. I need to explore its
various levels and how they might
be represented through story or
character. Readers may be interested
in themes, but they tend to see
theme as a background to story.
How can I make my theme a story?
This is one of the most useful
things to think about once you?ve
had the initial itch. Take your
theme and begin to tease it out.
How might a location or a person
represent an element of that theme?
What are the stages or key moments
that define the theme? What are the
smells or tastes or sounds that are
connected somehow to the theme?
Structure and time
It?s far, far too early to
think about structure.
That will come
later with plotting.
However, my idea
dictates that the
action of the
story will take
place over a
fortnight in spring.
Knowing this, I need
to think about whether
the story will be told
chronologically or not.
If this was a story of twists
www.writers-online.co.uk
p012 Grow a story.indd 13
Such questions begin the process
of slow coalescence that see an idea
become a workable proposition.
They lead to more questions, and
soon the notebook begins to fill
with jottings.
Research
Research is the true preliminary to a
new novel. It?s when you know you?re
actually committed. Prior to research,
all is supposition and thoughtexperiment. Research comes when you
have enough dimension to your idea
to start building it.
Even so, it pays to be tentative.
You don?t want to frighten your idea
away. Your thoughts so far will have
thrown up more questions and more
ideas. Some of them may be entirely
factual (what time is sunset in Madrid
at the end of March?) and others mere
whimsy (what?s the etymology of the
Spanish word cadera?) The answers
to such queries feed the idea and
help it grow. As information accrues,
you develop the confidence and the
excitement that perhaps this is a novel
you might actually start.
Next steps
This is what happens before you
write anything ? even before you
begin to think about plot and
structure. These are the very first
steps of a novel. It?s the most
exciting period and arguably the
easiest. There are no tortuous
storyline decisions or grinding
daily word counts. There?s no
editing. It?s just pure creation:
playing with possibilities.
At the same time, this is how
novels are made. We take the
acorn of an idea and we handle it
carefully. It?s going to take a long,
long time to become something
bigger. Patience is necessary.
Resist the urge to start
writing immediately. Let
the idea roll around
in the whorls of
your brain until it
finds a comfortable
spot. Feed it some of the
answers it needs. Test its
strength now and then
with some questions. One day,
a shoot will appear. Then it?s time
to start thinking about plotting ? a
whole different matter.
SEPTEMBER 2017
13
25/07/2017 09:53
The
5
secrets
of writing
a bestseller
Publisher and writing coach Kathy Gale shares the insider
insight that has helped her authors write bestsellers
I
have worked in the book
business for over thirty years
and been a director of three
leading book publishers. Since
then, I have worked closely
with writers as a writing coach,
with a successful track record in
enabling new authors to write to a
very high standard and to achieve
representation and publication. I am
also a psychotherapist and, while I
don?t suddenly become a therapist
with my authors ? most of them
would head for the hills at the very
thought ? this way of looking at life
has been extraordinarily helpful in
my work with writers.
Over the years, authors have
consistently asked me for my top
tips to becoming a successful writer
and so ? informed by both areas of
my work ? here they are:
1 Put in the practice
I once watched the comedian Ardal
O?Hanlan advising comic writers
how to write a successful sketch.
He said you should have a great
joke at the beginning, a great joke
at the end ? and great jokes in the
middle. He?s right, of course, there?s
no way out of it, if you want to be a
writer of any kind you need to write
consistently brilliantly. And it goes
14
SEPTEMBER 2017
p14 bestseller.indd 14
without saying that it?s never been
harder for book authors to get a deal
? the days when writers could hone
their craft on the job while earning
a living are looooooong gone. Books
now have to absolutely knock the
socks off agents and publishers at
the first glance if you are to succeed.
So learn the skills and techniques.
Really, really thoroughly. There are
more of them than we could hope
to count ? and you need to know
and practice them all. It matters not
how you learn them ? many authors
are self-taught and many now get
professional help ? but learn those
multiple skills you must.
2 Study the greats
Learn from the great women and men
who have gone before you. Scrutinise
the bestseller lists and find the most
successful recently published books
that are closest to your writing style.
Do direct, detailed comparisons. Ask
yourself what the purpose is of each
page of your book and take a similar
section of a bestselling book. Is yours
as good? If not, why not? I would
bet my last fiver that you haven?t
got as much on the page. Most new
authors do FAR less than published
authors do. There is a widespread
belief that the fewer words the pacier
the book, but in fact the opposite
is most often true. Readers need to
be drawn into the book, completely
absorbed in it. To do that, they need
atmosphere; description; and detailed,
sophisticated characterisation. That?s
a lot of words.
By far the most common problem
I encounter in the work of new
writers is that it is two-dimensional
? it can skate over the surface and
read thinly. Where that is the case,
the reader can?t get absorbed and the
book becomes a slow and painful
effort to read. So, don?t move too
fast in the mistaken belief that this
will improve the pace.
Follow the same method of
checking your work against the
work of a contemporary bestseller
for every single skill or technique.
Is my plotting as exciting? Are my
characters as clearly delineated?
Is this passage as atmospheric as
an equivalent passage in a new
bestseller? Don?t stop until you
believe your book is of the same
high standard. And if you can see
it isn?t but can?t work out why, seek
out someone really good to look at
this with you.
3 Know the market inside out
Get as much information about
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25/07/2017 10:02
FICTION
publishers and agents as you can.
Really educate yourself about their
world. It?s incredibly insular and
complex, but knowledge is power.
The more you know about them,
the more effectively you will pitch
yourself to them.
Remember that agents are very
successful businesspeople. It is a
common mistake to think their
primary job is to read scripts and
send them to editors. Many agents
spend most of their lives travelling
internationally, making massive
deals, negotiating at a very high
level. You need to approach them as
if you want a director-level post at
Microsoft and they are Bill Gates.
And do remember to analyse
bestseller lists if you want
publication. Ask yourself what
kind of writing is working in your
field right now? Does yours feel as
contemporary? If not, think again.
But don?t misunderstand me ?
publishers don?t just want you to
write to a formula. They want your
take in an area they know they can
sell. Or they want something totally
original and fresh. But they don?t
want anything that feels out of date.
And yet ? there?s always an ?and
yet?; this is a very complex world
? there will always be the sudden
nostalgic revivals of an aged genre.
For years, publishers wouldn?t have
looked at a spy thriller, but then
suddenly stylish, literary spy thrillers
were all the rage. You can never
know what the next big thing will
be. But do give it some thought. Is
what you are doing a stylish homage
to something past that is ripe for a
revival? Or will no publisher on earth
be convinced by that right now?
4 Be emotional
Yep, you read that right. A successful
book ? fiction or non-fiction ? is
all about engendering feeling in the
reader. Excitement, fear, comfort,
amusement: these are the things
we want from a book. Human
beings connect through empathy
? the sharing and understanding
of feelings ? and we want to feel
connected when we read. So focus
on what you want your readers to
be feeling and make everything you
do service that aim. Ask yourselves,
constantly and repeatedly, how is my
reader feeling? Is this as scary as I
want it to be? Are they really on the
edge of their seats? Are they feeling
as sad as I want them to be right
now? If not, what can I do?
What creates that feeling? The
events of the book. The vocabulary.
The sentence structure and length.
The choices you make in every
aspect of your book ? large or small
? will either support or undermine
its emotional impact.
5 Look at your own
emotional issues and blocks.
Eek, really? Yep. You can?t engender
feeling in your reader unless you
are feeling yourself. There?s a phrase
as-yet-unpublished authors often
hear from editors ? ?it doesn?t quite
lift off the page?. That happens a
lot. And, in my years of experience
as an editor and writing coach, that
happens when the author is holding
something back or holding feelings
in. If your writing seems stilted,
what are you inhibiting and why?
It is my belief that if you are doing
anything creative, you have to be
emotionally alive ? and I?ve seen
authors? work transform when they
recognise a flatness on the page and
then realise there is something they
have been trying not to feel. Often,
all it takes is to recognise this ?
somehow, then, the block dissolves
and the writing flourishes.
It is very common for people to
feel uneasy about some aspect of
themselves. We live in an emotionphobic society and we label emotions
?good? or ?bad?. That?s just nonsense.
All our feelings are helpful to us.
Anger is brilliant ? it tells us when
there is something we don?t like and
when we need to address something
or make a change. Without anger
we?d stay in situations that don?t work
for us for ever. Jealousy? Also fab. It
tells us what we want and it provides
social glue. No, you cannot steal
my partner. If I see you flirting with
them I will step in. Guilt? Excellent.
It encourages us to stop if we have
done something out of accordance
with our values. But many of us feel
bad about these perfectly natural
feelings and beat ourselves up when
we have them. Then we hide. We
www.writers-online.co.uk
p14 bestseller.indd 15
start pretending we are something we
are not. Never angry, never jealous,
never in the wrong. And that is a
great shame. Because there is nothing
that communicates better than
authenticity combined with a sense of
emotional openness and freedom. So,
if your book or any passage of your
book feels phoney, if it doesn?t reflect
your own voice, ask yourself if you
are hiding; if there is anything you
need to own and accept.
This is not to suggest that we
should never hold ourselves to
account for aspects of our behaviour
? of course, we should. But it is
behaviour not feelings that can
be right or wrong. To feel angry?
Absolutely fine. To shout at someone
or hit them? Absolutely not. To
feel jealous? Perfectly fine. To bitch
about someone? Not fine. But
when we do act badly, it is worth
remembering that this is a piece of
behaviour, not the whole of who
we are. We can be a generally kind
person who sometimes loses it
and shouts, and we can regret the
shouting without going into total
internal character assassination. We
can learn to recognise all aspects of
ourselves ? the good and the not-sogood ? and accept the unique mix of
attributes and qualities that we have,
perhaps with a desire to change
some behaviours or patterns, but
being fundamentally constructive
and supportive to ourselves as we
do so. I believe that this process can
combine beautifully with creativity
? freeing us to express that creativity
very powerfully indeed.
6 Don?t believe people when
they say there are five secrets
to writing a bestseller.
Rules like these can only take you
so far. Now go and forge your own
path ? and write the book only you
can write.
Kathy Gale recently launched
Writers? Studio: Coaching Groups for
Authors and is welcoming submissions now.
You can contact her on
kathy.gale@kgpublishingservices.co.uk
or 07944 137248
SEPTEMBER 2017
15
25/07/2017 12:46
HITTING THE
RIGHT
NOTES
The story of a musician looking back over her career prompted an
inspiring creative collaboration between bestselling novelist Laura Barnett and
Mercury-nominated singer songwriter Kathryn Williams, as Tina Jackson discovers
G
reatest Hits, Laura Barnett?s
follow-up to 2015?s The
Versions of Us, is not just a
terrific novel in its own right.
Telling the story of fictional
singer-songwriter Cass as she looks back
over her life, it has also been the basis
of an exceptional collaborative project
exploring the relationship between
words and music with real-life singersongwriter Kathryn Williams, whose
album Songs from the Novel Greatest Hits
features sixteen songs, ostensibly written
by Cass, one for each of the sixteen
chapters in the book.
?I wanted to write a novel about
someone looking back over their whole
life and it also came out of frustration
that there aren?t many good novels about
rock music,? says Laura. ?So if you want
to read that book you have to write it
yourself. And I had this crazy idea about
wanting a soundtrack for the book.?
In 2015, with Laura deep in the
writing of Greatest Hits, Mercurynominated Kathryn Williams released
Hypoxia, an album of songs inspired
by Sylvia Plath?s The Bell Jar. ?I heard
Kathryn on the Cerys Matthews show
on the radio, with Hypoxia, and she
was obviously thinking about words
and music,? said Laura. ?So I emailed
16
SEPTEMBER 2017
p016 Interview.indd 16
her record company.?
?As she was explaining the project, I
thought, this is completely impossible, to
write a fictional greatest hits for a fictional
singer-songwriter,? laughs Kathryn. ?And I
thought, what would people think of her,
writing a greatest hits album when she
hasn?t had hits herself??
But twelve albums into a career
characterised by captivating artistry that
has seen her described as one of the UK?s
finest singer-songwriters, Kathryn was
wide open to the creative possibilities of
what Laura was suggesting. ?I?d begun to
say yes to things that felt way out of my
comfort zone and skill set, and just do
that. I?m not half as articulate as Picasso
but I?ve got a quote by him on my studio
wall that says, if you know exactly what
you?re going to do, what?s the point of
doing it? Instead of feeling the fear, if I
start writing, I?ll find a way.?
Kathryn has a recent history not only
of working with a writer?s words and
ideas, but of writing collaboratively. ?I
was a very solitary songwriter for a lot of
years and then I started to go on writing
retreats with Chris Difford from Squeeze,
and then putting together my own
writing retreats. It is the most freeing and
wonderful thing and I?ve learned so much
from collaborating and finding out how
TAP HERE
to watch
Kathryn and
Laura in
conversation
TAP HERE
To read the
first chapter
of Laura
Barnett?s
novel
other people work. And later, you realise
you have different pathways to how you
can think.? Last year she did a songwriting
retreat with New Writing North with
poets and songwriters. ?Over the three
days we wrote fifteen songs. Collaboration
can be a fantastic thing, a combination of
putting your own ego down and listening
to someone else?s take? but it also firms
up what you actually feel. If you don?t have
a strong opinion you can let a point go.
And it exercises a muscle for your creativity
for when you are on your own.?
So Kathryn once more prepared to
take a creative leap in the dark. ?Saying
yes before you know you can do
something is one of the best lessons I?ve
learned in twenty years of making music.
You?ve already jumped on the bus and
you?re on the journey.? She played a gig
in South London, packed up her kit in
her car and drove in the middle of the
night to see someone she?d never met
to discuss a project that sounded crazy.
And something clicked. ?We went to her
writing room and she got the manuscript
out and we had to work out very quickly
what we were going to do.?
By this point, Laura had written the
book, and versions of the song lyrics. ?I
had to write the lyrics as I went along but
I always knew that I?d hand the lyrics over
www.writers-online.co.uk
28/07/2017 10:18
S TA R I N T E RV I E W
and give Kath the freedom of reframing
them,? says Laura. ?I?d been in a band when
I was a teenager so it wasn?t completely new
to me. So I?d give her these embryonic ideas
and let her make them what she had to be.?
?I read the lyrics Laura had written and
she?d feed me information about Cass?s life
and the music she was listening to at that
time ? it was so I could see Cass at that
point in time,? says Kathryn. ?I was drip-fed
information. It wasn?t until the sixteen songs
were written that I read the book.?
Each set of lyrics was interpreted on a
song-by-song basis. ?She handed me the
lyrics to the first song, Common Ground, and
I could see where it needed to be changed
for format and shape,? says Kathryn. ?They?re
really good lyrics and some haven?t been
changed very much. The songs span fifteen
years, so there?s decades of styles.?
Laura acknowledges that there are
pitfalls included in writing about rock
music. ?Many artforms have fantastic
novels written about them ? art, classical
music ? there?s less of an obvious clich閐
narrative arc. With rock there?s this real
clich� pedalled by? everybody, really:
success, drugs, rock?n?roll. You think you
know the story before you?ve read it. And
so many musicians are so much larger than
life. I wanted to prioritise the character of
Cass as a person first, before being a rock
star. It?s about a woman who was a person
who happens to have been successful in
music. The music is central to the novel but
incidental to her character.?
The book was drafted, and Cass
developed as a character, but just as working
with Kathryn meant that the lyrics changed
as they were turned into songs, Laura?s
??
I?d got used to working on my
own ? and novel writing is an
exercise in control freakery, it?s
your vision, you?re playing God.
This is a real exercise for me
about being open and listening
to other points of view.
LISTEN
TAP HERE
to listen to the
accompanying
song
work was influenced by the insights of
working with Kathryn. ?Working with
Kath did influence me, particularly
in terms of the descriptions of the
songs, which have changed to reflect
the way the songs themselves changed.
One song, Edge of the World, I always
imagined on guitar, and I came to the
studio, and Kath had re-recorded it on
piano, not guitar ? and I was open to it,
and it blew me away, so I went back and
rewrote the scene so it?s done on piano,
not guitar. And it turned out that Kath
was also doing her own retrospective, so
she was able to talk about what it was
like to look back.?
Each of the sixteen songs reflects a
different point in Cass?s life. ?Cass is her
own person but she?s come out of a lot
of research I did with women of that
era, so a lot of stuff fed in: Kate Bush,
Carly Simon, Stevie Nicks,? says Laura.
?And Joni Mitchell of course. I?m
fascinated by questions of possibility:
why, how and what would? ? What
would she have been like, if we?d had a
female version of Joni Mitchell in this
country, and what challenges would she
have faced??
Working on Greatest Hits brought up
issues for both women about the way
women artists are perceived. ?Cass is
an autobiographical singer-songwriter
but as a female songwriter myself I?ve
been incredulous that people think
www.writers-online.co.uk
p016 Interview.indd 17
I?ve just ripped out a page of my diary,?
says Kathryn. ?The idea is that I can?t
possibly have an imagination ? but I
love character writing and enjoy writing
different characters. But as a woman
the question you get asked is who is
this, is it your boyfriend??
Laura, whose first novel offered three
different versions of a relationship, has
also experienced stereotyping. ?My first
novel, which is really quite playful and
experimental, has been referred to as
chicklit, just because it?s about love.
It?s all part of the general belittling of
female artists of all kinds.?
But these two women artists have
grown creatively, through collaborating
on Greatest Hits. ?As a journalist and a
fiction writer I?d got used to working
on my own ? and novel writing is an
exercise in control freakery, it?s your
vision, you?re playing God. This is a
real exercise for me about being open
and listening to other points of view,?
says Laura.
They?ve also made a deep emotional
connection as artists. ?It?s amazing the
bond we have now,? smiles Kathryn. ?It
isn?t just about the creative process but
we?ve made this leap of faith together,
trusting and honesty, baring our souls
and showing our creative underbellies.
It?s been a shortcut ? I feel like we?ve
been friends for fifteen years ? and the
novel looks back fifteen years.?
SEPTEMBER 2017
17
28/07/2017 10:18
LAURA?S SOLO
A #1 smash and Richard and Judy Book Club winner, The
Versions of Us was no one-hit wonder for Laura Barnett
A
succcesful journalist
struggling to realise her
lifelong ambition to become
a novelist, Laura Barnett
knew she had to make some
hard decisions, writes Tina Jackson.
?I wrote two novels before The
Versions of Us ? they still exist, on
my hard drive, which is the modern
equivalent of a drawer. And large
segments of other books. It was
always my dream and ambition to
be a novelist, so I started writing
when I was about five. I got a job
in journalism and I guess a really
difficult moment came when I got
to thirty, and I?d shown my work
to agents and they?d say, you write
really well, but they?d have qualms
about the whole book. And nothing
was published. I?d had to accept the
second novel wasn?t going anywhere.
It was starting to feel more serious.?
Laura knew she had to think hard
about what it was she really wanted
to say. ?I had this realisation that
the novels I?d been writing had been
written for readers instead of myself.
But a novel that?s successful for the
author?s intentions needs to say
something from the author?s psyche.
That sort of authenticity from the
writer makes it more rewarding for
the reader. So when I asked myself
very harsh questions like, why do I
want to do this? what do I want to
say? the idea that came out of those
big decisions was the way life draws
us down these different pathways.?
The result was her debut,
2015?s The Versions of Us, a clever,
concept-driven novel about chance
and possibility that offered three
alternative versions of the same
relationship, played out over the
course of a lifetime. Written with
warmth and emotional intelligence,
it went on to become a Sunday
Times bestseller and won the Richard
and Judy Spring 2016 Book Club.
TV rights have been optioned by
Trademark Films.
?The one story I came up with was
this idea ? to tell the story of a couple?s
18
SEPTEMBER 2017
p016 Interview.indd 18
relationship, three different ways, across
sixty years. And add the element of what
if?,? says Laura. The three versions of
Eva and Jim?s relationship are the result
of imaginative, intelligent storytelling
where the structure creates the form of
the storylines but never detracts from
the readers? involvement in the
characters? lives. Laura?s
new novel, Greatest
Hits, also relies
on an conceptled structure:
the chapters
are based on
songs from her
character Cass?s
Greatest Hits
album.
?I?ve got
experimental
structures with
both novels, which
is a response to
criticisms I had of the first
two novels. I?ve always hated
plotting, but I planned the first two.
And with The Versions of Us, I let
the structure draw me through the
novel. It?s a restriction in which I
found great freedom. I?m interested
in the form of the novel and
pushing boundaries, but doing it
in a covert way. It?s not showing off
or playing a postmodern game, but
encouraging readers to think about
what a novel can do.?
Because of the careful
consideration Laura puts into the
form as well as content of her books,
it came as a shock to find herself
pigeonholed as a writer because of
her age, gender and theme.
?I had a review in the Guardian
? very good, very warm ? by Jenny
Colgan. But the first comment was
?it?s only chicklit anyway.? I was really
surprised that a book I considered
quite structurally challenging and
innovative was being dismissed out
of hand because I?m a young woman
and it?s about love. It?s a way of
putting us in our place, almost, that
someone was looking to dismiss
??
fiction that takes the stuff of everyday
life as being less substantial.
Laura is drawn to realism. ?I?m a
writer in the realist tradition. If I?ve
got a mission it?s to pin down the
moments before they disappear. To
take how life feels in the moment
and capture it, without showy camera
angles, to create something that feels
true to the reader.?
Like The Versions of Us, Greatest
Hits is a whole-life novel. ?I want to
look back over the whole of a person?s
story, and the whole-life novel
provides a chronology. Trying
to give a life the structure of
a narrative.?
Laura is 35, and has
had people query
how she can know
what it?s like to get
into the mindset of
a seventy-year-old.
?But any writing is an
act of shapeshifting,?
she says. ?If you have
empathy and interest
and curiosity, you should
be able to write anyone,
anywhere.?
She creates her characters
slowly and carefully. ?I?d compare it
to getting to know a person in real
life ? it?s a process of deepening a
relationship. I let them talk, and
listen to them ? and sometimes they
surprise me. Humans are flawed, and
I want readers to inhabit them and
feel involved with them when they
make mistakes? they?re just people
trying to get on.?
Cass in Greatest Hits is more
extroverted than The Versions of Us?s
Eva, who is a writer. ?But they?re
both creative, ambitious and driven.
They?re women who have a strong
sense of themselves and what they
want. In their eras, they?re even
pioneers. They?re brave. I think to be
a woman in the world is to be brave.
They?re strong, independent, forceful,
creative women.? Like her mum, she
says. A bit like her, as well.
Laura worked in arts and features
journalism before becoming a
novelist, writing for the Guardian
Observer, Telegraph and Time Out.
The characters in both her novels are
drawn from the arts world.
?As an arts journalist I
If I?ve got a mission it?s to pin
down the moments before they
disappear.To take how life feels
in the moment and capture it,
without showy camera angles,
to create something that feels
true to the reader.
www.writers-online.co.uk
25/07/2017 10:11
S TA R I N T E RV I E W
GIVEAWAY!
For your
chance to win
a signed copy
of Greatest
Hits, see
/
http://writ.rs
17
p
wmse
a really keen eye, not just for what
interviewed artists? I?m drawn
someone?s saying, but how they say
to artists... and I?m interested in
it. You have to be shrewd and focus
the challenges of maintaining a
on a few key details. And look for the
relationship when you lead an
colour, the funny little fact.?
unconventional life. My husband?s
The downside is that she can get
a musician, so it?s something we
too hung up on factual research. ?The
talk about. He?s a sound engineer
bad side is, I find it difficult to give
and producer, and songwriter with
myself permission to make things
Northern Light Exposure.?
up. I find myself looking up the
She doesn?t plan to write fiction
most random things, like what kind
exclusively about the arts , but will
of toilet basin would have been in a
continue to explore characters who
hotel in New York in the 1970s??
lead unconventional lifestyles.
Her writing process is evolving.
?The novel I?m working on
?I?ve only been a full-time novelist
now is called Salvage, it?s about
for about four years so I?m kind
a fifty-year relationship and the
of learning! I?m not a meticulous
characters work in industrial
planner so I take quite a lot of time
salvage. I suppose I?m drawn to
before I put finger to keyboard. I
unconventional people, but my
use Scrivener, write a synopsis, get
project as an author is to map the
a basic idea for the arc of the story.
details of everyday life.?
And then, because my books involve
As well as immersing her in
characters who are older than me, I
the arts world, journalism
e
have quite a lot of research to do. I
provided transferable skills
iv
s
Exclu
!
tend to read a lot of non-fiction,
for novel-writing.
s
a
extr
o
immerse myself in online
?Journalism has given
de
vi
i
in
Watch a m
and
a
ur
photographs, books, films,
me so much as a writer,?
La
ith
w
interview
chapter
st
fir
e
music. I have a mood-board,
she says. ?The necessity
th
ad
Kathryn, re
d listen to the I have a Scrivener folder
an
,
of detail: the more
its
H
t
es
of Great
g song, all at
with the research. And once I
specific you are, the more
accompanyin
/
http://writ.rs
feel the characters are coming
resonant it becomes in
wmsep17
into focus, I?ll sit down and
the reader?s mind. A good
start writing. I?ll plan a couple of
journalistic feature requires
www.writers-online.co.uk
p016 Interview.indd 19
sections ahead, and put the characters
in a situation and kind of go with it.
I do redraft, but I?m quite slow and
meticulous.?
Finding time is key, she thinks. ?Find
a time to write every day. Find fifteen,
twenty minutes and be strict with
yourself. Versions got written when I was
working as a freelancer. The discipline
of doing that was invaluable.
Her advice to other writers comes
from the soul-searching that led to
The Versions of Us. ?Ask yourself truly
and honestly what you want to say.
Write for yourself. Be brave. If your
idea sounds scary and impossible, you
should probably do it. It may break new
ground. Be curious. Don?t shut yourself
off. Be open to fascinating stories in
everyday life. And enjoy it. Not all the
time, because sometimes it?s really hard,
but there is nothing more wonderful
and fulfilling than writing fiction.?
SEPTEMBER 2017
19
25/07/2017 10:11
AGENT OPINIO
N
I N S P I R I N G WO R D S
From the
On Writing
OTHE R SIDE
OF THE DESK
Tony Rossiter explores great words from
great writers
??
?Revision is just as
important as any other
part of writing.?
EVELYN WAUGH
Rue Des Archives/Writer Pictures
A
willingness to revise and rewrite, over and over again, is one
characteristic that separates the professional writer from the
amateur. The professional writer rarely believes that he or
she has got it right the first time.
Revision can cover a multitude of things. It could mean checking
out some fact you?re not sure about. It might mean revisiting your
choice of vocabulary, and perhaps changing a word or two. Often the
word that comes immediately to mind is the best one, and there?s no
need to change it. But now and again you may have second thoughts
and come up with a better alternative. For most writers, revision is
likely to mean deleting superfluous words and changing the order of
what they have written. Shuffling words and sentences around can
often improve a piece of writing.
Reading a passage aloud can help you to see whether or not it
works. Is it easy to read and does it sound right? Sometimes the ear
is a better analytical tool than the eye. It can help you to identify an
ugly construction or a word that is not quite right.
Let me give an example ? a famous sentence that benefitted from
revision. This is how George Orwell originally began Nineteen Eighty
Four: ?It was a cold, blowy day in early April, and innumerable clocks
were striking thirteen.? It?s a simple enough sentence, but doesn?t that
?innumerable? strike you as rather clumsy? By deleting three words
and adding one, Orwell turned that sentence into one of the most
memorable opening lines in English literature: ?It was a cold bright
day in April and the clocks were striking thirteen.? Now he had a
clean, uncluttered sentence ? one he could not have achieved had he
not realised the obtrusive clumsiness of that ?innumerable?.
Let me conclude with an old, well-proven tip about revision; in my
experience, this always works. When you have completed any piece
of writing, put it away for a day or two ? and only then look at it
again. Put yourself in the shoes of the reader and look at the words in
front of you as if you?re seeing them for the first time. You?re bound
to spot something ? perhaps something quite obvious ? that you did
not see the first time around.
20
Literary agent Piers Blofeld
relishes reading for pleasure
this summer
N
ext week I take my first proper holiday of the year. It can?t
come soon enough, not least because it is one of the few
times in the year when I can really reconnect with my love
of reading.
I try my best to read for pleasure, but the pile of things I need
to read for work is always higher than I feel comfortable with,
whether it is submissions, or new works by existing clients or,
most time consumingly, second or third drafts of books I am
working on.
And however much I try to make that work a pleasure ? and
sometimes it really is ? I am reading with my professional head on
and that brings with it all sorts of anxieties and questions: is it any
good? Is it too good? (A real question when dealing with genre
fiction.) Is the structure adequate? Does the protagonist have what
it takes to appeal to the market? Is the writer promotable? Etc etc.
In short a litany of questions that are a million miles from the
reason I got into this job ? which is because I love reading.
It is one of the mantras of the modern age that one should follow
one?s dreams, but I sometimes wonder if there?s a more misleading
piece of advice than ?do a job you love and you?ll never do a day?s
work in your life?.
I do a job I love ? and it is a tremendous privilege, but I
do also sometimes take a look round some of my more senior
agenting colleagues and think that they are not necessarily the best
advertisements for the job.
The trouble is that the meat and drink of an agent?s life is
rejection: we spend our lives rejecting the deeply precious work of
hundreds of people every year. I?ve been in that position ? I know
what it is like to wake up every single day and think ?this could
be the day the world says yes!? ? it?s exhausting to contemplate
and one of the reasons agents can be so bad about responding to
submissions is that they shrink from the continual rejection.
In part because when not rejecting others, they are constantly
being rejected themselves. The majority of the work that agents
take out to publishers ? work that they will have fallen in love with,
edited and bundled up into a carefully crafted pitch ? will fall on
stony ground and that too takes its toll. Not just because the agent
feels the rejection too, which they do, but also because it is their
job to rally the author, find the gleam of light in the darkness and
the way forward.
All of which is coming perilously close to seeming like an
appeal for pity and if there is one class of people in this world
who (quite rightly) do not command much in the way of pity it
is agents! But as I skip out of the office at the end of next week I
will be facing the blissful prospect of two weeks where I can read
as a fan and I don?t have to disappoint anybody.
Now I?ve just got to choose the books I take on holiday. Any
suggestions?
SEPTEMBER 2017
p020 on writing / piers.indd 20
25/07/2017 10:14
?
? ?
?
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?
?
?
? ??
?
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?
?
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?
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Ask a ?Literary
Consultant
?
?
?
? ? ? ?? ? ? ? ? ?
?
?
? ? ? ? ? ? ?? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?
?
Literary consultant Helen Corner-Bryant weighs up
using autobiographical elements to bring authenticity to fiction
?
Q
We know a lot of
first novels are semiautobiographical but
is that a good or a bad thing, or
somewhere in between? While
we?re always told to write about
what we know, I can see how that
might be limiting to the plot in
some ways because of a loyalty
to the past. It could also get in
the way of imaginative free
rein. 燨n the other hand,
truth is stranger than fiction!
I would love to hear you
opinion on this.�
A
If you write a novel to
explore a burning theme
? love, freedom, betrayal
or any kind of moral dilemma ?
then you may find that it has an
autobiographical element and a
certain amount of yourself will
inevitably be weaved into the
narrative. For instance, a while back
I wanted to write an adventure that
would send chills down my spine
and have me turning the page in a
whirlwind of adrenaline. So I set
about writing the bare bones of a
cowgirl adventure with wild horses,
cattle driving, romantic heroes from
a bygone era. I grew up riding so
the horse aspect wasn?t too difficult.
However, in order for the story to
be authentic I needed to go and be
a cowgirl, which I did in Patagonia
for two months. I had the time of
my life and wrote 60,000 words.
Five years later I?m ready to pick it
up again and I?m thinking that as
I?ve grown as a writer I may rewrite
it from scratch as I want to make it
more gothic but I digress! My point
is, part of the novel was based on a
character that I identified with and
u
If yo
y
er
u
the world-building detail I had
q
a
e
av
h
,
lp
to experience for myself so in a
he
to
re
he
We?re
n about
way it?s a made-up story that
on any questio
d publishing
the writing an
will mostly likely have a lot of
:
ail
em
se
process. Plea
snews.co.uk
my self in it.
er
rit
w
r@
lfe
jte
e
ritingmagazin
Ayisha Malik, my managing
or tweet @w
lt
su
on
with #askalitc
editor for many years, wrote
#wmcorner
Sofia Khan is Not Obliged,
published by Bonnier. When she
first started at Cornerstones it was
a non-fiction project about Muslim
girls dating. I suggested she turned
it into a novel and within that novel
she used bits of her original nonfiction. Having been a publicist in
the past and as a Muslim she weaved
in parts of her own experiences to
provide a sense of authenticity.
My new managing editor, Natalie
Young (who wrote Season to
Taste爋r燞ow to Eat Your Husband,
published by Tinder Press in the
UK and Little Brown in the US)
has this to say:
?We draw on the爑nconscious爐o
write fiction. Or we could say that
the unconscious presents itself in
the sorting house of the mind and
comes out directly on the page or in
disguise. It might be a爉emory爋f
turning the pedals on a bike when
you were a child that forms the
basis of your character. It might be
something someone said that you
forgot but that comes out whole in
a new voice.燦ovelists experience
life on a sensual level; somehow
everything爐hey?ve seen and heard,
tasted and felt is used in the story.
?We do sometimes come across
a story that has elements that we
question and the author says, but it
really happened! That?s fine, truth
can be stranger than fiction. But has
the author relayed something in a
way that has a logic and believability
in a make-believe world? The trick
is to draw on one?s own experiences
but to create something that is
entirely fictional. We all write
to experiment with feelings and
experiences that are larger than
ourselves from the safety of our
writing desk. If it carries the writer
along it should hopefully tap into
something that the reader can relate
to and wishes to explore as well. F
Scott Fitzgerald says, ?you?ve got to
sell your heart? so a little bit if not a
major part of the writer will always
find its way into their novel even if
it?s in disguise.?
The UK?s leading literary consultancy
?
Want to know if your manuscript is good enough to attract an agent?
Has your plot come to a standstill and you need a professional editor?s opinion?
Looking to publish and want to make your manuscript print-ready?
Cornerstones took my writing by the scruff of its neck and pointed
the way forward. Invaluable, no-nonsense, warm-spirited advice.
I now have an agent and a publishing deal.
Harriet Goodwin, The Boy Who Fell Down Exit 43, Stripes
?
Structural editing, copyediting
and proofreading
Scouts for literary agents
Listed by the
Society of Authors
Call Helen Corner-Bryant 01308 897374 ? www.cornerstones.co.uk
www.writers-online.co.uk
Cornerstones 1/4 landscape.indd 1
p21 Helen Cornerstones.indd 21
MARCH 2017
21
14/07/2017 11:26
25/07/2017 10:14
FICTION
CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE
Creative writing is all about decisions, but which are the right ones for you?
Gary Dalkin helps you find your path.
H
ow many stories are
there? According to
Christopher Booker?s
monumental volume
on the nature of
story, Seven Basic Plots... well, he sort
of gives it away in the title. Booker
argues that there are, essentially, only
seven archetypal stories (for example,
Rags to Riches, or, Voyage and
Return), and that writers rework them
through endless variations. As Robert
McKee writes in Story ? Substance,
Structure, Style and the Principles
of Screenwriting: ?The archetypal
story unearths a universally human
experience, then wraps itself inside a
unique, culture-specific pattern.?
Or to put it another way, there
may only be seven plots, but there are
countless possible variations on them.
And this is where you might get stuck.
It is not that your choices as a writer
are too few, but too many. You have
22
SEPTEMBER 2017
p22 CHOICES.indd 22
notebooks or computer files bursting
with character sketches and potential
scenes and sizzling bits of dialogue.
You know the sort of book you want
to write, at least in the abstract, but
the exact approach you should take
just won?t fall into place. You can
get paralysed by choices you have to
make before you even start writing,
overwhelmed by the blank page. In
principle you have your story, but you
just can?t be certain of the best way,
the very best way to tell it.
Every decision you make about
how to tell your story rules out several
others. It?s easy to think, ?As long as
I don?t write anything I can?t mess
it up.? So how do you know you?ve
made the best creative decisions? This
is when procrastination can set in. By
being too afraid of making the wrong
choices you put off making any at all.
Well, what if you think less in
terms of ?right? and ?wrong? choices,
and more about making the creative
decisions most appropriate to the story
you want to tell? It will make things
easier if we break those choices down
into a series of questions. By the end
of the process you will hopefully have
a stronger understanding of how to
make the best choices needed to tell
any particular story.
1 Whose story is it?
The first question to ask yourself is,
whose story is it? Most novels tell a
story involving a small number of main
characters, often no more than four or
five, with a wider range of supporting
characters. It?s a great first step to be
really clear in your mind which of
these people is the main character, the
protagonist. You might say that all the
characters are important, and that?s true.
The story needs them all. But look hard
enough and you will usually see that it
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25/07/2017 10:15
is ?about? one character in particular.
Take, for instance, a simple story like
the original Star Wars. Half-a-dozen
of the characters have become cultural
icons, but whose story is it?
Some people, given the way the
later Star Wars saga came to focus so
much on the villain, might argue that
Darth Vader is the protagonist. Others
find Han Solo a more charismatic
and entertaining character than Luke
Skywalker. But nevertheless, Luke
is the protagonist. After a prologue
which introduces Vader, Princess Leia
and the robot duo R2-D2 and C3PO,
everything revolves around Luke and
his journey towards saving the Rebel
Alliance. Obi-Wan Kenobi and Han
Solo only become part of the story
because of Luke?s quest to rescue Leia,
who, like Vader, would never be seen
again if Luke hadn?t managed to view
an SOS message secreted in R2-D2.
And so it goes on. Everything unfolds
in relation to Luke?s adventures, which
makes him the protagonist.
All of which is to say that, once you
are certain who your lead protagonist
is, then many other creative decisions
fall into place automatically, because
now the choices you make about the
other characters should be in regard
to the telling of your story about
your protagonist.
Of course, it?s not always that
simple. Take, for example, Scott
F Fitzgerald?s The Great Gatsby, as
close a candidate for the title of
Great American Novel as has yet
been written. It is easy to assume
the protagonist is Jay Gatsby.
After all, his name is there in the
title. In the film versions he has
been played by superstars Robert
Redford and Leonardo DiCaprio.
But a consideration of the text
will reveal that The Great Gatsby
is Nick Carraway?s story. Nick
who? Carraway is Jay Gatsby?s less
charismatic, less rich, less famous
friend and neighbour. We know The
Great Gatsby is Nick Carraway?s story
because he is the narrator. He tells
us the tale, and a close examination
of the story reveals that it is less
about Gatsby himself, than about
Nick?s relationship with Gatsby, and
Nick?s understanding of how that
relationship has impacted on his life,
leaving an indelible scar on it forever.
To complicate matters further,
some novels follow several main
characters, cutting between them,
perhaps following a handful of
different characters in alternating
chapters, their adventures sooner
or later intertwining. An example
of this sort of novel are the epics
penned by James A Michener, which
usually followed the lives of many
characters all linked by a particular
place ? Chesapeake or Texas. Such
novels more or less treat each
character equally, though still some
will be given more prominence than
others. There may be no central
character, but several leads, while
other novels might alternate chapters
between two protagonists, or a
protagonist and antagonist. For a
novel like this you will still need to
chose which are your lead characters,
and the narrative will then become
subservient to their stories.
Once we have decided whose
story we are telling we have made
some real progress, for all further
decisions must be consistent with
this first, key decision. Which is to
say, once you have your protagonist,
(or perhaps protagonists) defined,
you know you will only tell the
stories of other characters in relation
to them. You don?t need to show or
tell the reader anything about them
which doesn?t directly or indirectly
affect your lead character. For
instance, if your protagonist falls
in love with a man who, due to a
past false accusation of wrongdoing
is so wary of any contact with the
authorities that he has largely cut
himself off from society, then how
this situation came about may be
very significant to your story. But if
this wariness were instead an aspect
of the love interest?s half-brother
who now lives in another country
and whose life has only tangential
bearing on the story, then a lengthy
digression to explain all this would
almost certainly be very much to the
detriment of your novel.
Now that you have a clear vision
of your protagonist and his/her story,
the next question is...
2 Do I tell the story in
a past or present tense?
Writing a novel as if the action is
happening now has become more
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p22 CHOICES.indd 23
popular in recent years. It can lend a
great sense of immediacy and intimacy
to a story, but it requires more
suspension of disbelief on the part of
the reader. Yes, the reader knows with
any novel that it didn?t really happen,
that they are making a deal with the
author to accept a fiction in return
for being entertained, but there is an
extra layer of unreality in accepting a
story somehow told by a disembodied
authorial voice as if it is happening
right now. Implicit is the denial of the
questions of how can this have been
narrated, written down, turned into a
book and printed and fallen into my
hands so that I can then read it while
it is happening? Done badly, a novel
told in the present tense can grate and
seem pretentious. It can, nevertheless,
suit genres such as thrillers, mysteries
and science fiction, where the author
wants to disorientate the reader as
much as the protagonist, who may find
themselves in strange situations where
they don?t know what is going on.
Against this, writing a novel in
a past tense immediately evokes a
sense of the novelistic tradition and
can seem more authoritative. That
someone is telling you, yes, this is
what happened, it was this way. It
works well for stories set in the past,
for more formal stories, and of course
for reminiscences and nostalgic tales.
Writing in a past tense can more
successfully evoke a sense of times
lost, never to be recaptured. It is
perfect for the coming-of-age story
which necessitates a wistful reflection,
and simply could not work if told in
the present. Past tense allows a sense
of distance from the events being
chronicled, a distance which can be
heartbreaking. LP Hartley convinced
us in The Go-Between that ?The
past is a foreign country: they do
things differently there.? That novel
could never have been written in the
present tense.
3 Where, and when,
do I set my story?
A good story can be told in many
settings. Screenwriters Hideo Oguni
and Shinobu Hashimoto relocated
Macbeth to feudal Japan for Throne
of Blood, while Craig Pearce and Baz
Luhrmann updated Romeo and Juliet
to 90s America, and Cyril Hume and
SEPTEMBER 2017
23
25/07/2017 10:16
Irving Block successfully transformed
the fantasy of The Tempest into the
science fiction of Forbidden Planet.
You might have a great idea for a
crime novel, but should you set it in
the here and now, or ten years ago,
or twenty, or fifty? Think through
your reasons for setting your story
in a different time to the present,
consider how changes both in social
mores and in technology might affect
your characters and the development
of your plot. Take, for example,
any crime novel written more than
25 years ago. Think how that story
would have to be told differently if
it was reworked now in the present,
with ubiquitous mobile phones and
instant access to all kinds of data
through the internet. Of course some
stories have to be set at a particular
time because they involve specific
historical events ? perhaps WWII
? but many stories can be told in
various eras. Equally they can be told
in many different locations ? The
Tempest works as well as a story on
an alien planet as on a desert island.
But each alternative choice creates
for that variation, as McKee says, a
unique, culture-specific pattern. Ask
yourself how changing the location
of your story will affect its outcome.
Even with the essentially the same
characters an inter-racial love story
will have a very different dynamic
told in the London of 2017 to a
small English town in the 1970s. And
then consider the old adage about
writing what you know. Setting your
story in the past, or in a place you
don?t know, will involve significant
research to get right. Consider if that
is a challenge you want to take on. If
not you might be best served sticking
with the familiar.
have your protagonist recount events
as they experienced or heard about
them, and they can only reveal things
as they knew them. This can work
very well for a crime or mystery novel,
where the reader essentially solves
the crime along with the protagonist,
knowing no more or less than they do
at any given moment.
One downside to a first-person
narrative particularly applies to
stories filled with risk and danger,
action and adventure. By definition,
by the very fact that the protagonist
is telling the story, the reader knows
she must survive.
When it comes to choosing a thirdperson voice there are some distinct
advantages. You potentially have a
wider perspective, being able to move
the story between a range of different
characters. Third person is often
better therefore for telling a large-scale
story, an epic. Third person feels more
objective and authoritative. For that
reason it can seem more convincing.
4 Do I tell the story
in first or third person?
6 Should I use epistolary
texts to tell my story?
There are pros and cons to both
approaches. It has become very
fashionable for novels to be told in
first person. It establishes an intimate
sense of connection with the reader,
as if the character is talking directly to
them. It is also a great way of refining
your creative process. If you chose
to tell your novel from a first-person
perspective then instantly many more
decisions fall into place: you can only
Many authors include fictional
documents as part of a story or novel.
To include fake diary extracts or letters
or newspaper articles can be a great
way of both giving a story a sense
of being grounded in reality and of
imparting to the reader ?objective?
information which your characters
themselves don?t know but which you
want your readers to be aware of.
Alternatively, Christopher Priest?s
24
SEPTEMBER 2017
p22 CHOICES.indd 24
5 Should I have an
unreliable narrator?
A first-person narrative leaves the
possibility for an ?unreliable narrator?,
an increasingly common device in all
kinds of fiction. While you might use
a third-person voice to tell the story of
a character who is deceptive, perhaps
self-deceiving, letting that character
tell the story themselves, the first
person gives you the creative option
of effectively lying directly to the
reader in such a way that they must
read between the lines. If you want
to explore the world of an unreliable
narrator you probably need to tell
your story directly in their voice, in
the first person.
World Fantasy Award winning novel
The Prestige is largely told through two
conflicting journals written by rival
stage magicians, forcing the reader to
question just what the truth of the
story really is. Thus using fictional
documents to tell all or part of your
story can, depending on your aims,
be a great way of either making your
work seem more real, or of completely
bamboozling your readers. The choice
is yours.
7 Should I use dialect or
historical speech in dialogue?
Get dialect right and it can add a
tremendous sense of authenticity to
a narrative. Get it wrong and it can
seem awkward on the page, hard work
to read and understand, and even
risk accusations of being patronising,
culturally insensitive or racist. If you
chose to write dialogue in dialect be
very careful not to stereotype, pastiche,
parody or use clich閐 imaginings of
the way various groups of people really
talk. If you want to write about a
person from a particular culture and
capture their voice do your research,
listen to the way people speak, consider
doing some interviews with speakers
from the culture you want to represent.
And if you can?t, or don?t want to do
that, remember that there is nothing
wrong with simply telling your reader
about the cultural background of your
characters and conveying their dialogue
in standard English.
Similar considerations apply when
writing historical fiction, except that
you can?t go back and interview people
from history to really know how
they spoke. Writing your dialogue in
modern English is perfectly acceptable
? though avoid anachronisms ? and
is usually a better choice than codhistorical dialogue. Nothing jars more
than pseudo-Shakespearean dialogue,
unless it is in a spoof.
There we have it. Seven questions
to consider to go along with seven
basic plots, which once you have
worked your way through them and
considered you possible choices, will
hopefully help you come to a clear
understanding of the best possible way
for you to tell whatever story you are
going to write.
www.writers-online.co.uk
25/07/2017 10:16
BEGINNERS
Lift your
chances
Be ready for your sixty-second chance to shine
with Adrian Magson?s pitch correction
T
he ?elevator pitch? is not a
myth. Well, not entirely.
Originating in the film
industry, it probably now
consists of an electronic
bombardment rather than accosting a
producer in the street? although I?m
sure there are some industry professionals
who might correct me on this after
having been stalked by a desperate writer.
The elevator or sidewalk pitch
derives from the time it takes to
sell the idea of a project between a
producer exiting their cab, crossing
the pavement/sidewalk and into an
elevator, leaving the luckless writer
talking to a pair of closing doors.
If we assume said producer is (a)
fit, (b) in a hurry or (c) terminally
disinterested, let?s also assume it takes
less than a minute. Not much time to
talk the talk, is it?
You might think this situation applies
solely to the film world. After all, writers
of books aren?t that pushy, are they? (Stifle
your scepticism.) The concept, however,
is pretty much the same. All writers have
something to sell, and being able to talk
clearly about your book is a must if you
wish to take it further than your desktop.
Let?s assume you take the nonconfrontational route and submit
your work to an agent or editor at a
pre-arranged ?pitch? session. You?ll have
to describe what your book is about,
because right now it?s either a pile of
paper or a file on your PC, with no
cover image for instant identification
and only your synopsis to explain
it for you. It?s basically just you and
your ability to talk a good tune while
remaining calm in the face of a total
stranger ? among a roomful of other
hopefuls all doing the same.
Some of the elements to cover
are the genre; who you see as your
target audience; whether the book
is a standalone or the first of a series
(if they ask this, it could be a buying
signal so be ready for it); and whether
you have another project in the works.
In fact, you might subconsciously ask
yourself similar questions browsing
in a bookshop. You want to know
what the book?s about; has the author
written other titles; is it a standalone
or a series. The main difference for an
agent or editor is, does your book have
legs and can they build on it? Can
they build on you?
Other points to consider are
background, writing experience,
preferred reading, how you see yourself
developing as a writer. Incidentally, it?s
probably best to avoid saying you write
like author A (insert famous name),
because you?re probably not the best
judge of that. As any sales professional
will tell you, why mention the
opposition anyway? This is you and your
book you?re selling, so focus on that.
In terms of timing, you?re unlikely
to be restricted to a sixty-second slot
at one of these pitch sessions. They?re
usually a little more generous than that.
But the time will zip by on rails as you
focus on nailing your book in a calm,
cogent fashion, while trying not to go all
floppy-lipped in front of a total stranger
and bawl your eyes out.
Personally, having been on both
sides of the table, the pitchee end is a
lot easier. Listening to an eager writer
describing their book can always be
backed up by reading the manuscript
afterwards. For the pitcher (you), there
is no afterwards, no opportunity to step
back and say, ?Oh, and something else
I should mention? ? because that will
be it. There are others waiting to take
your place.
If the session goes well, they might ask
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p025 Beginners.indd 25
you for a ?full? ? the complete manuscript.
At this juncture your jaw might hit the
floor and you?ll assume you?ve hit the
jackpot. Calm down; this is just the
beginning of a process.
You might in any case not have one
to send them. Some people don?t, and
have only a ?partial? in existence. In my
experience, in what is a fast-moving
industry, where people move on and ideas
and fashions change, I?d recommend having
a completed manuscript ready to go.
Think about it: if you have an editor or
agent sitting in front of you who comes
across as hot to trot and wants to read your
book, you?re already streets ahead of where
you were just a couple of minutes ago. They
want to read and assess whether your work
is worthy of publication. Cool or what?
In this situation, with only a few wellthumbed pages and an incomplete story in
mind, which could take weeks or months
to finish, the potential could easily slip
away. This is a golden opportunity to catch
them while they?re keen and interested.
The other point is, always have another
idea in mind for the next project. This
business is about long hauls, not one-offs.
Either way, you want to leave them
with an impression they can carry with
them. And that doesn?t include telling
them that they?ll die in poverty and
ignorance if they pass up this golden
opportunity of signing you up. They?ve
heard that before and it doesn?t work.
TOP TIPS
? Practise describing the outline of your story in just
a few words.
? Be professional and treat them as such.
? Be honest ? don?t make promises you know you
cannot keep.
? This is a rare opportunity to sell your idea and
yourself. Don?t waste it.
? Always have future ideas to talk about.
SEPTEMBER 2017
25
25/07/2017 12:53
I N S P I R I N G WO R D S
How I got
published
Swedish crime author Emelie Schepp,
who self-published her debut, Marked for Life, is now
published around the world and in the UK by MIRA.
?I have always loved writing. As a child, I wrote a lot and often, made up my
own stories and wrote dozens of dairies. In 1998, I participated in a drama
writing contest sponsored by a big theatre. I won first prize and my play was
produced in two different cities the same year.
?After working as a project manager in the advertising industry for ten years,
I came to a point where I was tired of the profession, I wanted to do something
different and I wanted to write again.
?I decided to write a novel. But I didn?t want to take a course. I thought that
the best, and only way was to learn from the authors themselves. So I began to
study a lot of novels - looking at the characters, the dialogues, the settings - and
after about two months of intensive reading, I was eager to get started on my
own book. Since I still worked full-time, I had to make time for writing at
night. Every evening at 8pm I sat down in front of my computer and wrote.
?I am very fortunate to have good friends that work as forensic investigators.
They have helped me portray the process of an investigation, eg what could
happen, what might happen and what would probably happen.
?After six months of writing I sent my first draft to the biggest publishing
houses in Sweden.
?In Sweden it takes at least three months before you can expect an answer
from the publishers, but after only two weeks I received an envelope. I wasn?t
home, but my husband called and shouted how incredible it was I had received
an envelope from one of Sweden?s biggest publishing houses. He did not open
the envelope, but he was already thinking of buying champagne and investing
in a house in France. I wasn?t as excited because I knew that if it only takes two
weeks to hear back, there is a good chance the response is, ?Thank you, but no
thank you.? And it was.
?I waited the full three months and during that time no other publisher had
gotten back to me. And what would I do if every publisher said no? Would I
give up? No. I knew there had to be some way to get my book published.
?I started searching for alternative publishing methods. Sure enough, I found
the world of indie publishing. When I called the publishing houses three
months later and learned they still had yet to read my script, I decided to take
action. I told them to throw away my script, because I would publish my book
on my own. I would make my own success!�
?Today, my books have sold more than 500,000 copies in 29 countries
around the world. I do hope that readers in the UK will enjoy Marked for Life
and the series about Jana Berzelius.?
TOP TIPS:
?
If you want to be a writer - write!
?
Marketing is essential, sign your book, attend bookfairs,
conferences, etc.
?
?
Use an outline. An outline allows me to write better and faster. It?s
especially useful when I?m in the process of discussing the story
with my husband and my editor. It helps us think through the topic.
26
In Lind�, on the Swedish coast, a man has been found
brutally murdered in his own home.
Public prosecutor Jana Berzelius steps in to lead the
investigation. Young and brilliant but emotionally cold,
Berzelius, like her famous prosecutor father, won?t be
swayed by the hysterical widow or intimidated by the
threatening letters the victim had tried to hide. Jana is
steely, aloof, impenetrable. That is, until the next body
is found?
A few days later on a nearby deserted shoreline, the
body of a pre-teen boy is discovered, and with him,
the murder weapon that killed him and the original
victim. Berzelius is drawn more deeply into the case
for as she attends his autopsy, she recognises something
strangely familiar in his small, scarred, heroin-riddled
body. Cut deep into his flesh are initials that scream
child trafficking and trigger in her a flash of memory of
her own dark, fear-ridden past. Her connection to this
boy has been carved with deliberation and malice that
penetrate to her very core.
Now, to protect her own hidden past, she must find
the suspect behind these murders, before the police do.
What appealed to Clio Cornish,
editor, HQ
?I am so excited to be publishing
Emelie in the UK. Scandinavian
crime has become such a popular
genre and when I read Marked For
Life, I knew that we had a winner.
?Emelie?s writing grabs you from
the first page and she has created
an intriguing and complex main
character in Jana Berzelius. The
fact that she triumphed over some
heavyweight competition to be named Swedish Crime
Writer of the Year demonstrates just how good her
writing is.?
AUGUST 2016
p026 HIGP.indd 26
25/07/2017 10:23
NJ 297 x 210 2017_Layout 1 27/06/2017 14:52 Page 1
Writing ? A Job with All
Sorts of Opportunities
for All Kinds of People
by Phil Busby
Well then, writing might be just up your street.
People have some funny ideas about writing.
As a profession, it?s not just for ?special? folk.
Anyone can do it. If you love words, and
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that?s all you need.
For the last 27 years ?My tutor was lovely,
The Writers Bureau encouraging and
has been helping
offered me great
new writers get
constructive criticism.?
started in the
business. Writers like Louise Kennedy, who
struck gold when she started blogging about
her life on a boat from the viewpoint of ... her
cat. Baily Boat Cat was picked up by a major
publisher and turned into a book which now
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Louise says. ?My tutor was lovely, encouraging
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One of the perks of this membership is a press
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Those new avenues led to a travel website
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24/07/2017 10:49
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The sty
Geraint Lewis/Writer Pictures
EDNA
O?BRIEN
Tony Rossiter looks at a writer whose creative
imagination is rooted in her Irish childhood
LISTEN
TAP HERE
to listen to an
extract from
The Little
Red Chairs
TAP HERE
to buy the
book from
Audible
F
ew first novels have made as
big a splash as Edna O?Brien?s
The Country Girls (1960). A
huge critical and popular hit in
London and New York, it was banned
in Ireland, where her family?s parish
priest publicly burned copies of the
book. She has written short stories,
plays, biographies of Joyce and Byron,
and an acclaimed memoir, but she is
known, above all, for novels which
draw on her Irish roots.
Beginnings
Edna O?Brien grew up in a farming
community in County Clare, in the
west of Ireland. In her memoir Country
Girl (2012) she describes her childhood
as ?at once beautiful and frightening,
tender and savage?. Her family had
once had money, but her father had
spent it on drink and horses, with
28
SEPTEMBER 2017
intermittent cycles of binge-drinking
followed by remorse. In an interview
for the Observer in 2011 she said:
?Money troubles, drink troubles, all sorts
of troubles? There were the relics of
riches. It was a life full of contradictions.
We had an avenue, but it was full of
potholes; there was a gatehouse, but
another couple lived there; we had lots
of fields, but they weren?t all stocked
or tilled. I remember fields high with
ragwort. I remember my father giving
them to other people. There was a
prodigality? People?s lives were so
hard. My mother worked like a demon:
feeding animals, carrying buckets.?
She described her small village as
?enclosed, fervid and bigoted?. Her
mother was suspicious of literature, and
neither she nor the Sisters of Mercy,
the Catholic Order of nuns where she
was educated from the age of eleven to
sixteen, gave her any encouragement to
write. She has said that her formative
years were dominated by ?graphic
descriptions of hell and purgatory?.
She yearned to get away, and at
sixteen escaped to Dublin and a job
behind the counter of a pharmacy; she
studied and obtained a pharmacist?s
licence. She discovered the writing
of Tolstoy, Thackeray and F Scott
Fitzgerald. Then, breaking with her
parents, she became the runaway
bride of a writer, Ernest G閎ler, and
they fled to London; the marriage was
dissolved in 1964.
In London, two things changed her
life. First, she bought Introducing James
Joyce, a selection of Joyce?s prose; it had
an introduction by TS Eliot which
explained that A燩ortrait of the Artist as
a Young Man爓as an autobiographical
story. This opened her eyes to the path
that she could follow if she herself
www.writers-online.co.uk
decided to write. She came to realise
that ?unhappy houses are a very good
incubation for stories?, and later said,
?That is the mystery about writing.
It comes out of afflictions, out of the
gouged times when the heart is cut
open.? Secondly, she started work as a
reader of manuscripts for Hutchinson.
Her reports must have impressed
the publisher because, solely on the
basis of these, she was offered a �
commission to write a novel.
The Country Girls
O?Brien?s first novel, written in just
three weeks, made her famous, and
for a time in the 1960s she rubbed
shoulders with Hollywood stars such
as Robert Mitchum, Marlon Brando
and Jane Fonda. But The Country
Girls, an account of sexual awakening
and coming of age in Ireland in the
years following the Second World War,
mortified and embarrassed her mother,
and O?Brien was widely vilified in
Ireland. How times change. In 2001
she won the Irish PEN Award, and in
2015 the Irish President, Michael D
Higgins, made an official apology for
the pious scorn heaped on her and for
the banning of her books, and praised
her as a ?fearless teller of truth?.
The Country Girls is the story of
Caithleen Brady (the first-person
narrator), a dreamy, romantic girl,
and her friend Baba Brennan ? two
young country girls who have grown
up together in the west of Ireland.
They rebel against the repression of
their convent school life by writing a
dirty note which, as they had hoped
and intended, results in their expulsion.
They move to Dublin where Cate yearns
for true love, while Baba just wants
to experience life as a single girl. The
B E AT T H E B E S T S E L L E R S
novel ends with Caithleen, in Dublin,
abandoned by the married man with
whom she had intended to elope.
The writing is fresh and vigorous.
O?Brien paints a convincing picture of
the broken-down farm of Caithleen?s
childhood, a father who drank and a
mother who held things together before
drowning in a boat accident, along
with appealing and credible minor
characters such as the farm worker
Hickey and the publican Jack Holland.
The influence of Joyce (who, along
with Beckett, is one of O?Brien?s two
great literary heroes) can be seen in
the descriptive detail, the portrayal of
Caithleen?s inner thoughts, the lyrical
prose and the careful choice of words.
In The Country Girls and its two
sequels, The Lonely Girl (1962) and
Girls in Their Married Bliss (1964),
Cate and Baba are frustrated in their
search for passion by unreliable,
unsatisfactory men, usually with wives.
However, it?s not carefree sex that Cate
is after, but lifelong, limitless love,
a much harder thing to find. As we
have seen, The Country Girls drew on
elements of O?Brien?s own life, and
all three books have been described as
semi-autobiographical.
The Little Red Chairs
A conversation in the garden of a
Dublin hotel gave Edna O?Brien
the idea for her most recent novel.
The hotel?s director, asking what she
was going to write next, had quoted
Tolstoy?s belief that there were only
two great stories in the world: A Man
on a Journey and A Stranger Comes to
Town. Seizing on the latter, O?Brien
thought: ?I?m going to bring a stranger
with a past ? not just a romantic
stranger, but a stranger with a political
past ? to a small Irish town.?
Described by Philip Roth as ?her
masterpiece?, The Little Red Chairs
(2015) begins with Vladimir Dragan
walking into a pub in Cloonoila, a
village 70 miles from Galway. Dr Vlad,
as he becomes known, is ? or professes
to be ? a poet and intellectual from
Montenegro who practises alternative
medicine and sex therapy. He?s a
charismatic but deeply flawed character,
a fugitive war criminal who is hiding out
in rural Ireland. O?Brien has called him
?a composite of generic, warring despots?,
but Dr Vlad will remind most readers
of the Bosnian Serb leader Radovan
Karad?ic. Vlad, like Karad?ic, ends up
being arrested for war crimes committed
during the Siege of Sarajevo and put
on trial in The Hague for genocide.
The book?s main theme is Fidelma
McBride?s relationship with Vlad and
her unsuccessful attempt to reconcile his
dignity and his gentleness as a lover with
the horrific deeds of his past.
Research for the book took O?Brien
to The Hague, where she witnessed
tribunals, and to a refugee centre
in Paddington, where she heard
devastating accounts of escapes from
war, rape and torture. She has said
that she wanted to tell a story rooted
in place ? Ireland, England, The
Hague ? that at the same time took
in something of the suffering, the
violations and the monstrousness of
what is happening in the world. One
focal scene (a brutal assault that leaves
Fidelma close to death) took her several
months to get right, and she has said
that The Little Red Chairs is the hardest
thing she has ever done.
How she writes
?I write with a pen, by hand,? she said
in an interview for the Guardian in
2013. She uses distinctive violet pens
which she bulk-buys in New York. ?Of
course, I make endless cups of rooibos
tea. Then I write a paragraph and read
it aloud to see if it stands up in any
way. Usually, out of ten lines there
might be three words that are okay. So
it?s a question of rewriting, rewriting,
rewriting.? She has always supported
herself by writing and, now in her
eighties and with an arthritic writing
hand, she still works for several hours
each day, but admits that it?s getting
harder on the eyes.
Before she begins writing she always
goes through the same two little rituals.
First, she says a prayer, ?not always
forgiving my enemies, but hoping that
the bit of work to be written will get
written?. Second, she reads something
? either a short passage from the Bible
or Shakespeare, a poem by Ted Hughes,
or a page or two of燱uthering Heights.
Then she settles down to write.
To work, she needs silence. ?Writing
is a monastic activity,? she says. ?There
are the odd moments; parties, public
readings, but that?s just the dew drop?
one of the ingredients most essential for
writing is that you have to be solitary.
You can?t be gregarious.?
Once she begins a book, she stays
with it: ?You can?t work on a book
one day a week,? she says. ?It?s like a
toddler off out into the street: you can?t
find it again.? Writing for her is an allembracing way of life: ?All my waking
thoughts are consumed by the work in
hand. One is obsessed and truly riven
by the necessity of doing it and the fear
of not doing it and the longing and
hope to make it have some worth.?
It?s more than fifty years since she
began writing, and her pre-eminent
subject is still Ireland, because ?a
writer?s imaginative life commences in
childhood; all one?s associations and
feelings are steeped in it. When you?re
young, everything is seen in wonder
and detail.? In an interview for the
Daily Telegraph in 2010, she said, ?For
better or worse I would say I am a very
emotional being, something that is out
of fashion and mocked. Too bad. It?s
a powerhouse in terms of creativity.
Of course the emotional current has
to be watched and tempered with the
discipline of thought. That?s where the
words and the artistry come in ? to
convey emotion without it becoming
bathos.? She believes that ?any book that
is any good must be, to some extent,
autobiographical, because one cannot
and should not fabricate emotions.? �
www.writers-online.co.uk
p28 beat the best.indd 29
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TOP 10 TIPS
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On the eighth anniversary of our Beat the Bestsellers series,
Tony Rossiter looks back at some of the bestselling authors he?s featured,
collected in his new book, and gives his top tips for aspiring writers
here?s no magic formula
for writing a bestseller, but
imitating the methods ? not
the content ? of a favourite
writer can be a good starting point.
That?s how many of the most
successful authors began.
The advice successful authors give
to aspiring writers can sometimes be
contradictory. Writing is a personal,
individual thing and what works for
one author does not necessarily work
for another. However, looking at the
Beat the Bestsellers pieces that have
appeared over the years, there are a
number of common themes:
? Read as much and as widely as you can.
? Establish a disciplined writing
regime, ideally achieving a
minimum word count every day.
? Rewrite and rewrite and rewrite
again until you are satisfied.
? Grab the reader?s attention with
your first sentence.
? Read a passage aloud to see whether
it sounds natural and easy on the ear.
? Cut out words you don?t need.
? Write what you know and waste no
scrap of your own experience.
? Put yourself in the shoes of the reader.
? Seek constructive criticism.
? Persevere in the face of repeated
rejections.
The stimulus for my first Beat the
Bestsellers piece was George Orwell?s
writing. He?s best known for two
extraordinary novels, Animal Farm
and Nineteen Eighty Four. Big Brother,
Room 101, Doublethink, Newspeak
? all Orwell?s inventions ? have
become part of popular culture. But
he also wrote an enormous amount of
non-fiction. He had strong political
views, but his essays, journalism and
letters are a testimony, above all, to
30
SEPTEMBER 2017
p30 beat the best special.indd 30
his sense of Englishness and to his
craftsmanship as a writer. He had a
lot to say about the English language
and the writing of good English, and
I was particularly struck by his six
elementary rules, that inspired the first
Beat the Bestsellers:
? Never use a metaphor, simile or
other figure of speech which you
are used to seeing in print.
? Never use a long word where a short
one will do.
? If it is possible to cut a word out,
always cut it out.
? Never use the passive where you can
use the active.
? Never use a foreign phrase, a
scientific word or a jargon word
if you can think of an everyday
English equivalent.
? Break any of these rules rather than
write anything outright barbarous.
The WM editor agreed that,
having explored what aspiring writers
could learn from Orwell, other wellknown writers could be considered
in a similar way. We agreed from the
outset that the column should cover
an eclectic mix of writers ? everything
from classics to chick-lit.
So how do I go about producing a
Beat the Bestsellers column? The first
step is pretty obvious ? reading a few
of the author?s books. Secondly, I have
to find out a bit about the author?s
life ? typically, a combination of book
and online research. Finally, I try to
find out as much as I can about the
author?s approach to writing. For
some (such as Stephen King, who has
written a whole book about it) that?s
relatively straightforward, but for
others it?s not always easy. Newspaper
and magazine interviews are often a
useful source, together with broadcasts
such as Desert Island Discs.
Most of this is desk research, but
some pieces have benefitted from
site visits, such as that to the Bront�
Parsonage Museum in Haworth.
Seeing the room where Emily and
Charlotte sat and wrote and discussed
their work, and then looking at
the minute books containing their
early juvenilia, was a good starting
point for writing about them. At
the Roald Dahl Museum in Great
Missenden I was allowed to examine
Dahl?s notebooks and early drafts not
available to the public. This gave me a
real insight into his thought processes
and helped me to understand how he
went about inventing a story. At James
Herriot?s former veterinary practice
in Kirkgate, Thirsk (now the World
of James Herriot Museum), I had the
great good fortune to meet Jim Wight,
the author?s son, who talked to me
about his father?s writing ? most of it
done sitting in front of the television
with his family around him.
For me, Beat the Bestsellers has been
a personal self-improvement course.
Every month I?m obliged to tackle a
new author ? some already familiar, but
many new to me ? and the looming
WM deadline is a persuasive stimulus.
I?ve had to read some genres I?m not
naturally attracted to and some authors
I would not otherwise have read. I?ve
always been suspicious of the way
critics and bookshops tend to divide
fiction into popular genre novels and
literary works. The more I read, the
more I?m convinced that great writing
is not confined to the classics and to
so-called literary fiction.
? Tony Rossiter?s How to Write
Like a Bestselling Author is
published on 10 August by
Summersdale, price �.99
www.writers-online.co.uk
25/07/2017 10:26
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IN CAS
�0
TO BE
WON
Adult
Fairytale
COMPETITION
GIVE US GRIMM!
Fairytales have been around for centuries,
and only recently have become associated
with children?s literature, so for this competition
we?re asking you to go back to their roots,
or bring fairytales into new territory, by
writing one suitable for an adult audience.
The closing date is 15 October.
The winner will receive �0
and publication in Writing Magazine,
with � and publication
online for the runner-up.
SEE P99
FOR ENTRY
LL
DETAILS, FU
RULES AND
MS
ENTRY FOR
�0
STILL TIME TO ENTER
TO BE
WON
With its closing date of 15
September, there?s still time to
enter last month?s competition,
for love stories.
Prizes are as above.
See p99 for entry details.
p31 comp.indd 39
25/07/2017 10:27
Short story winners
1st prize
Winner
Airborne
by Jean Lumby
I
t was a balloon. A bright pink
balloon bobbing through the trees,
occasionally ducking under branches
then rising again.
Judy was taking her usual post-work
stroll through the local woods. It helped
free her mind from the day?s problems. She
was a newly qualified solicitor in a smalltown practice. Late home, she hadn?t time to
change out of her office suit other than pull
on her wellingtons. A cool breeze blew under
her coat and around her knees. The clocks
would spring forward soon. Smatterings of
green flecked the trees, ready to burst out
and surprise. Perhaps, she thought, it was not
such a good idea to come out so late. Dusk
was falling, filling in the last remnants of
light between black branches, like ink soaking
into blotting paper.
Judy peered. Yes, it was a balloon. Its vivid
pinkness reduced the wood to an umber
backdrop. She watched the balloon floating
closer and as she concentrated a tree stepped
out in front of her. Judy shrieked.
?I?m sorry ? did I scare you?? The balloon?s
owner appeared before her. Tall and broad
shouldered and with dark brown hair. He
wore black trousers and a dark greasy wax
jacket. No wonder she hadn?t seen him.
Judy flushed and felt foolish, even though
she was not the one clutching a pink
balloon on a string. Her heart was racing
from the scare but she managed to keep
her voice even. ?No,? she lied, ?I was a little
surprised that?s all.? Judy nodded at the man
and went to walk by him, aware he was
watching her.
He shifted towards her, blocking her way
along the path. ?Ah? I haven?t seen you
here before.?
Judy had to stop to avoid walking into
32
SEPTEMBER 2017
p32 ss comp winner.indd 32
him but did not reply. She was unsure of
the stranger. His clothes were muddy all
down his left side as if he had been lying
down in dirt. Had he been sleeping rough?
She was conscious of the darkening woods
and being alone with him. Then she noticed
his shirt collar, clean against the collar of
his grimy jacket. There was a scent in the
air, not the expected smell of damp earth
but something fresh and light. She realised
it was his aftershave. Judy glanced at his
face and looked away, but not before she
had noticed his blue eyes. How had she not
registered them earlier? Again, she moved to
pass by him.
This time he stepped aside, ?I?m? Alan.
Here, you can take it.? He held out the
balloon to her.
?What? I don?t want it.? Judy was confused
and feeling foolish again. Was he laughing
at her?
?Ah, why not?? Alan asked, his arm
remained outstretched to her with the
pink balloon above his head, swaying in
the breeze.
Despite herself Judy responded, ?What
would I do with a balloon??
?Float away over the treetops.? He smiled
at her, his blue eyes creasing at the corners.
Judy?s stomach fluttered. ?Ah, imagine,? he
continued, ?Drifting over the fields with
the sun on your back and the whole world
below disappearing ? just like your troubles.?
?What troubles?? Judy demanded and
realised that now she was engaged in
conversation with him.
?Ah, I don?t know.? He shrugged his
broad shoulders which made him look
like a schoolboy being questioned by his
headmaster. ?Doesn?t everyone have troubles??
The blue eyes smiled at Judy and she
Originally from
Birmingham, Jean
Lumby moved to
Worcestershire five years
ago and retired in 2014.
She was a member of
Bold Writers in Sutton
Coldfield until relocating.
In 2010 She gained the OU Diploma in
Creative Writing. She enjoys writing
short stories and poetry as well as
the ongoing challenge of completing
a first novel. Jean is ?over the moon?
with this, her first win.
smiled back. ?Yes, I suppose everyone
does, at some time, but you can?t always
run away from them.?
?Run?? Alan?s eyes widened, ?Ah, why you?d
be flying away!?
Judy wanted to keep this silly conversation
going. She wanted to stay in this moment.
She was no longer defensive or concerned by
the dark wood, simply aware of blue eyes and
a pink balloon. ?But I would have to return
to the world sometime, and my troubles
would still be waiting.?
Alan?s voice softened and his gaze
dropped, ?Ah? but so would I.? There was
silence between them before Alan broke it,
?Perhaps we could share them, you know,
troubles halved and all that.?
Twenty years and three children later Judy
and Alan are still sharing.
That first evening, as they walked home
together through the wood, Judy finally asked
him, ?What are you doing with a balloon??
?Ah,? said Alan, ?I found it blowing along
in a ditch and pulled it out so no little
creature could get caught by it.?
?Ah,? she whispered,
?But one did.?
EXPERT
analysis
Read the judge?s
comments at
http://writ.rs/
wmsep17
www.writers-online.co.uk
25/07/2017 12:42
750-word competition
2nd prize
Winner
D
Family
Secretsby JJ Steven
eep down, Faith had always
known there were family
secrets. Wilkins? Magic
Emporium was her father?s
other baby, a wonderful
building with spell books on the tables,
bottled dreams on the shelves, jars of every
weather condition at the counter. Faith adored
it. It was a warmth in her chest, a home for
her heart. So, when her father offered her a
graduation gift, she longed for one thing only:
the chance to finally work in the Emporium.
Eventually, her father relented, and granted
his daughter?s wish. There was, however, one
condition. Faith was only to work dayshifts,
and was to leave before dark.
The days were just as Faith had imagined:
magnificent, riveting, a learning curve she
mastered quickly. She sold potions and
charms, met witches, warlocks, dabblers
and beginners alike. In quiet moments, she
poured herself a thunderstorm vial and tied
it around her neck. She tried, to no avail,
to teach herself to float pencils. Summer
stretched out before her, and every day in the
Emporium was a joy, a gift.
And there were the nights. More
specifically, there was Alexander.
Alexander was an unnerving creature,
and from the moment she saw him, she
considered him more of a creature than a
person. Dark eyes, pale skin, slim as a blade,
Alexander was made of angles and almost
mechanical movements. And he watched.
In the brief moments between dayshift and
night, his eyes were almost always on her, and
even when they weren?t, she felt that he could
see her too closely.
?What?s nightshift like?? she asked him once.
?Your father was very clear,? he said, ?You?re
dayshift only, and only until he returns from
his business trip.?
It was the longest conversation they?d had,
and Faith grew accustomed to the routine.
She?d sail the store through its daylight hours,
and would be ready to leave by the time
Alexander appeared. The less time he had to
watch her, the better.
After a week, she?d had enough.
The next day, Faith left at nightfall as
usual, but crept back to the Emporium hours
later, and crouched by a window at the back.
Cloaked in darkness, she peered inside at the
nothing much. Same old storeroom, same old
store beyond it, the door sitting ajar.
But then, movement. Alexander?s figure
between dim lights and thick shadows,
somehow belonging to neither. Faith looked
harder and saw a second figure. The two of
them moved towards the storeroom and Faith
ducked down, listened hard, and only stole
glances occasionally.
The man, older than Alexander, sat upon
a rickety chair. He said things like ?It won?t
hurt?? and ?They definitely won?t come back??
Alexander asked if he?d ever had blood taken.
?It?ll feel like that,? he said, ?but
everywhere.? The man fell silent.
Faith saw Alexander?s back to her, his long
fingers meticulously laying syringes upon the
table, producing a jar from a briefcase. She
couldn?t see the man?s face, but he shifted
Jamie Steven has
been a writer since
he learned how to
hold a pencil. He
adores worlds that
include magic, secrets
and mysterious
characters, and when
he?s not writing he?s
almost certainly thinking about writing.
This is his first entry to a writing
competition and he is delighted with
his place as runner-up.
nervously in the chair. He said things like
?Did the money reach your account okay??
and Alexander said nothing.
Faith watched Alexander plunge the
needle into the man, heard his cries of pain,
his awful, broken voice. The needle filled
slowly. She couldn?t see clearly, but was it?
black? That couldn?t be his blood. Alexander
transferred the substance from syringe to jar,
and there it was ? thick black sludge that
writhed. He trapped it inside the jar.
Moments later, the man left, dazed but
grateful. He knew there was something to be
grateful for, but he couldn?t remember what.
What had Alexander done to this man, to
his memory? She had to alert her father. She
fumbled for her phone, but the window shot
open above her. Alexander grabbed her, pulled
her roughly through it. She tried to punch, to
kick, but Alexander was swift and nimble.
?Did you take his memory?? Faith demanded
at last, ?I saw it! I saw what you did!?
?We don?t take,? Alexander said, ?We
remove. And we don?t remove the memories
people like to keep.?
?Who?s ?we??? Faith asked, but she never
got her answer. Alexander lunged at her,
needle in hand, those awful eyes, those
skeletal fingers. It happened too fast, and she
felt the sting of it in her neck.
Faith had always known there were family
secrets. Wilkins? Magic Emporium was her
father?s other baby, and Faith adored it. But
no matter how much she pleaded, her father
never let her work there. Not even once.
Also shortlisted in the 750-word Short Story Competition were: Rosie Canning, London N12; Jen Hodesdon, Weymouth, Dorset;
Steven Holding, Abington, Northamptonshire; Mark Kleinman, Cambridge; Charles Maciejewski, Loch Flemington, Inverness;
Linda Mallinson, Hagley, West Midlands; Lois Maulkin, Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex; Charlotte McCormac, Shrewsbury; Joanna Rubery,
Stafford; Inga Vesper, London W13; David Woodfine, Sherburn-in-Elmet, North Yorkshire; Tim Worth, Newton Abbot, Devon.
www.writers-online.co.uk
p32 ss comp winner.indd 33
SEPTEMBER 2017
33
25/07/2017 12:42
Publishing
Get it
covered
Despite the old adage, the first thing anyone judges a book on is its cover... and many readers
won?t go much further if it doesn?t appeal. Ensure your cover makes the first impression
your book deserves with advice from SilverWood Publishing
A
n outstanding cover makes a vital contribution to your book?s
success in an increasingly competitive marketplace. But what
constitutes outstanding when it comes to cover design?
Professional cover designers use their years of experience,
along with knowledge of the marketplace and current
trends, to inform their work. At SilverWood, our three book cover design
keywords are:
? Attract
? Inform
? Sell
Attract the book browser. Inform the potential reader. Sell to your
target readership.
A trained cover designer is a specialist in making books impactful
while ensuring they conform to current market trends. They will select
the right images and make the right typographic (fonts, spacing and
style) choices to clearly communicate the tone and flavour of your
book. Usually they will present a strong and simple design that suits
your book?s genre while avoiding clich�.
Realities of the marketplace
Many indie and self-publishing authors request a book cover
design that re-defines a genre. However, it doesn?t always work to
be too experimental and innovative unless you are a known brand
or have a massive author platform. At SilverWood, our experience
tells us that self-published books must fit within a genre and meet
reader?s expectations.
Our cover design team advises against anything too experimental.
A successful cover design for a self-published book treads a careful
line between being bold and avoiding a formulaic appearance.
A self-published cover that is too quirky or unusual can be
unappealing to the book buyer because it strikes an odd note
compared to what they?re used to seeing within a particular genre.
Titles released by mainstream and traditional publishers can break
the mould or blaze a trail, and the self-publisher can quickly follow.
However racing too far ahead of current trends and expectations can
lead to a self-published author looking out of step or amateurish, and
this will almost certainly affect book sales.
The cover design essentials
34
The front
Strong typography
With books increasingly being
browsed online, the front cover must
work in isolation ? not only at actual
size, but also as a thumbnail. Your
book is in competition with around 44
million other titles online, and many
readers will make a judgment about it
within a few seconds.
So what kind of treatment should your
front cover receive? Renowned cover
designer Peter Mendelsund, formerly
associate art director at distinguished New
York publishing house Alfred A Knopf,
says a cover expresses the point of the
book and suggests some of the story?s
major themes.
SilverWood cover designers ensure book
covers convey a strong simple message that
visually captures the essence of the story,
rather than shoehorning every element
of the plot into the design. Our aim is to
communicate what a story is about, and to
generate a sense of excitement in the reader
? a ?must read? factor. The colour palette
is appropriate for the genre. The colours
work well together and communicate a
tone that attracts the reader.
Fonts matter, inside your book and on
the cover, but in different ways. Inside a
book, the typesetting shouldn?t detract
from the content ? whereas on the cover
the font should draw attention and
visually appeal to the reader.
Your book cover is the place to be bold.
A good designer will understand the
impact an individual font will have, the
relative sizes to use, and how to position
the text on the cover so that it works
with the chosen images, or even the space
around and within the text.
Use fonts that suit the genre of your
book, for example a smudgy lipstick font
might be perfect for chick-lit but could
be misleading on the cover of a thriller.
Ensure your title is big and easy to read,
so that the text is legible even when a
cover is seen at a reduced size. Some
authors feel shy about their name and
insist on it being small on the cover, but
this has the potential to look unbalanced.
SEPTEMBER 2017
p034 Cover design.indd 34
Spine
A printed book will generally spend most
of its life spine-out on a shelf, so the look
of the spine is as important as the look of
the cover, especially if you plan to use a
3D marketing image (which will include
the spine) on social media and in your
off-line marketing.
A book?s spine should be consistent
with the style and overall design of the
cover, whilst maintaining a simplicity
that means the title and author name
is legible. It?s also vital to get the aspect
right. For example, in the UK, we read
down the spine with our head tilted to
the right; in France, it?s the opposite.
Back cover
Although the back cover of your book
is likely to play a less important role
in appealing to online browsers, it still
needs to look professional. A good back
cover will continue the colours and visual
appeal established by the front (and
continued on the spine). The text must
be legible, and the sides of the text block
not too close to the cropped edges. The
overall design should accommodate a
barcode box, although the exact position
may be determined by the printer you
plan to use.
www.writers-online.co.uk
25/07/2017 13:40
How can you tell a
good cover from bad?
Covers, judged!
WM and SilverWood came together to run an online poll on three potential covers
for a (hypothetical) upcoming chick-lit novel. A whopping 84% of you agreed with
our chosen design, 1, 10% opted for the not unappealing but not quite right 2,
and 6% of you thought option 3 would be appropriate.
Read on for our design notes on what works, and doesn?t, in each case.
Cover 1
? The colours and floral elements fit in with current romantic
fiction, making this design appropriate for the genre and
marketplace.
? The colour palette reflects the passion and warmth of love by
using various tones of pink.
? The light pastel tones indicate the genre.
? The woman and location on the cover indicates to the reader
the type of lifestyle, and the setting of the novel.
? The woman on the cover also creates a focal point of interest,
prompting the reader to consider who is she, what she may be
doing/waiting for, where she is, etc.
? The font used for the author name establishes a brand for the author. This can
carry through to subsequent books, and create an instantly recognisable marque
for this author. It can also feed into her marketing and social media activities.
? The treatment of the title emphasises the word ?True?, as the main character has
dealt with deceit.
Research, study, and talk to experts. There will be an
almost endless supply of inspirational covers on your
own bookshelf, in your local bookshop, and online.
Evaluate current trends and note subtle changes to your
genre in the past year. Has the colour palette changed
in crime fiction? Do romances still feature illustrations
rather than photos? Has the cover design of historical
novels moved on from the ubiquitous ?headless woman
in period dress? of a few years ago?
Analyse good covers and figure out what makes them
work. Equally, look at the poorly designed ones so you
know how to spot them. Social media is packed with
useful cover design competitions, polls, debates, picture
galleries, and links to material. Use this visual cornucopia
as a resource for the great? and the not so great.
Train your own eye, not so that you can design your
own cover (sadly, that rarely works out well), but so
that you can recognise outstanding design when you
see it, and commission the right professionals to create
your book?s cover.
A compelling cover design will:
Make the reader feel what the book is about.
Suit the genre, but avoid clich�.
Use a maximum of two fonts on the cover,
occasionally three.
Reflect the font cover typographic treatment
on the spine.
Convey a strong, simple message ? less
is more.
Cover 2
? The colour palette is bright, bold and brash ? the colours for
the romantic fiction genre are usually pastels or soft tones.
? The imagery is a cartoon and does not suit the genre or reflect
current market trends for romantic fiction.
? The typography is out of date, and colours clash, the cover
does not fit the romantic fiction genre in any way.
? The style and composition of the typography (treatment of
the text) is ill-considered.
? The author name is too small and fails to establish a brand
for the author that she can use across all her promotional
materials and social media platforms.
? The title is too close to the cropped edge at the top
of the book.
? The title is left aligned, but with an indent on the second line which is confusing
to the eye, while the author name is centred. Consistency of alignment would be
better ? all left aligned, or all centred.
? Overall this cover looks amateurish, unbalanced, and probably would be offputting for most book browsers, negatively affecting sales.
X
X
X
X
X
Use unsuitable fonts that have been stretched,
distorted, or poorly spaced.
Feature garish colours for the book title, with
clashing drop shadows.
Try to communicate every aspect of a story,
resulting in a confused message.
Use templates featuring generic images and a
layout that does not differentiate your book
from others using the same template.
Use cheap clip art.
Want to know more?
Cover 3
? The image and colour scheme are more suitable for crime
fiction or a thriller, which is misleading and will not attract the
right target readership.
? For a thriller, the title hidden between the trees would
be a good touch. It adds detail and a sense of fear or
menace. However this does not work in the context of
romantic fiction.
? The cover isn?t descriptive enough, and expresses little
about the story.
? The use of bold upper case throughout is too heavy, and
inappropriate for romantic fiction.
www.writers-online.co.uk
p034 Cover design.indd 35
A bad cover design will:
SilverWood Books is a team of friendly and
approachable professionals. Our cover designs are
regularly nominated for indie and self-published
cover design competitions. We?re always happy
to chat about our cover design service and other
publishing processes.
If you?d like to talk about your book and find out
how we can help you to publish it to a high standard,
please contact editorial assistant Claire Maguire:
office@silverwoodbooks.co.uk / 0117 910 5829.
SEPTEMBER 2017
35
25/07/2017 13:40
I N T E RV I E W
Shelf life:
LISTEN
TAP HERE
to listen to an
extract from
The Late Show
TAP HERE
to buy the
book from
Audible
MICHAEL
CONNELLY
The creator of Harry Bosch, crimewriter
Michael Connelly, shares his five favourite
reads with Judith Spelman
� Mirco Toniolo/AGF/Writer Pictures
M
THE LITTLE SISTER
Raymond Chandler
ichael Connelly is an American
author who was a police reporter
for the Los Angeles Times before
he became a thriller writer.
Since his first book, The Black Echo, was
published in 1992, he has written a further
35 books, including five ebooks, one nonfiction collection of his journalism and three
collections of short stories. Sixty million copies
of his books are sold worldwide and they have
been translated into 39 languages.
THE LONG
GOODBYE
Raymond Chandler
?It would be difficult but I could
cut my library down to five books if
necessary. I would start with keeping
The Long Goodbye by Raymond
Chandler because it is the classic
private eye story and the book that
made me want to be a writer. It was
published in 1953 and is his sixth
book with Private Investigator Philip
Marlowe. To me it is the definitive
Los Angeles novel and of course I will
always toil in its shadow. It?s good to
set your goals high.?
36
SEPTEMBER 2017
?For the next book I think I would go back to
Raymond Chandler and take The Little Sister with
me. Of all the books in my library I think it is the
one I have read the most times. I go to chapter 11
often to be inspired. It is not about the mystery; it
is purely about the character Philip Marlowe and the
relationship between a protagonist and his city. It is
a major writing lesson in one succinct chapter.?
THE ONION FIELD
Joseph Wambaugh
?I started out as a journalist so I would
need to take at least one book of nonfiction and reportage. I thought about
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote but I
think I would have to take The Onion
Field by Joseph Wambaugh. This is the
riveting true account of two LAPD cops
who were abducted off the streets of
Hollywood by two criminals and taken
to the titular onion field for execution.
One was murdered, one got away.
Wambaugh, a former LAPD cop himself,
tells the story in gripping detail and
emotion, laying out how the four men came to the intersection of
their lives and what happened after.?
www.writers-online.co.uk
WRITER?S BOOKSHELF
TO KILL A
MOCKINGBIRD
Harper Lee
?Next would be To Kill a
Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
A librarian made me read
it when I was thirteen and
I think it?s the book that
made me a reader, which
of course is prerequisite
to wanting to be a writer.
It?s also the book that
showed me the power
of the novel in terms
of reflecting on social
issues and injustices.
The specific copy of the
book I would keep is a fiftieth anniversary copy of the book
that was signed to me by Harper Lee, and that makes it the
treasure of my library.?
TAP HERE
To read the first chapter of
Michael?s novel The Late Show
RAGTIME
EL Doctorow
?The first hardcover book
I ever bought was EL
Doctorow?s Ragtime.. I love
it because of its mix of
fiction with historical fact
in a story about America
at the turn of the last
century. It taught me a lot
about storytelling. Like
To Kill A Mockingbird
there is a legal drama at
the heart of it and I learned from
these books when decades later I would write my own
legal dramas. I bought my copy of Ragtime just at the
time I was figuring out that I wanted to be a writer and
it was part of that process. I still have the copy I bought
back then and could not part with it. It would have to
come with me.?
M
ichael has used various protagonists in his thrillers
including criminal defence attorney Mickey Haller,
Terry McCaleb, Rachel Watling and Jack McEvoy
but his most popular character must be LAPD
Detective Hieronymus ?Harry? Bosch who features in
twenty of his books. Many of his characters reappear and ?fictional
crossovers? are not unusual in Michael Connelly?s writing.
He has won many awards and his acclaimed legal thriller, The
Lincoln Lawyer, was chosen for the Richard & Judy Book Club.
Several of his books have been made into films.
In his new book, The Late Show, he introduces Renee Ballard,
his first new protagonist since Harry Bosch in The Lincoln Lawyer
ten years ago. She is feisty, driven and determined to prove
herself in LAPD. She works the night shift in Hollywood, known
colloquially by LAPD officers as ?the late show.? It?s a shift she
was given as a punishment after filing a sexual harassment
complaint against a supervisor. It?s fascinating to see how she
copes ? and succeeds.
But the question on the lips of all his millions of readers must
still be, what made him ditch Harry Bosch, Mickey Haller, Jack
McEvoy for a new detective? ?My new book, The Late Show,
features a new, female protagonist, Renee Ballard and this is the
first time I have used a new detective since I introduced Harry
Bosch in The Lincoln Lawyer ten years ago,? he explains. ?Maybe it
had something to do with turning sixty but I felt it was time to do
something new in terms of character. Renee Ballard is graceful yet
fierce. She is also compassionate. It?s a combination that is rare in
my experience and really drew me to her.?
His books are filled with exquisitely drawn villains and he once
said that villains were the easiest characters to create. Does he
still believe this? ?Yes, villains are the easiest characters to create.
You can go to all levels of extremes with villains and that?s okay
because the reader isn?t riding with the villain. The reader is
riding with the protagonist, the good guy, and must connect on
an empathic level for the book to work. That?s hard to do. It?s not
hard to create the character no one needs to connect with.?
Successful crime novels and thrillers need to encourage tension
and page-turning and he explains the major elements爕ou need to
have in a story to build up that tension. ?I think you have to have a
character that the reader has to connect with on an empathic level
? yes, I get him or her. You put that person at risk ? physically or
emotionally or both ? and throw in some ?what happens next??
and things should go well.?
He talks about his approach to
writing. ?I am still very disciplined as
a writer, I think. I work on a television
show and am publishing two novels
this year. I know how to keep my
head down and write. My writing day
is simple. Cut out distractions, turn
the phone off, have plenty of iced
tea handy, and just write. Starting
a book for me is the most difficult
part of writing. It?s like standing at
the bottom of Mount Everest and
knowing you have to make it to the
top. And it?s just you. No sherpas. I
always give the same advice to new
writers. If you?re going to be a writer
then keep your head down and write
every day.?
www.writers-online.co.uk
p036 SHELF LIFE.indd 37
APRIL 2017
37
28/07/2017 10:23
Editorial calendar
Strong forward planning will greatly improve your chances with freelance submissions.
Here are some themes to consider for the coming months.
9 December
5 December
The Great Smog of
London, the worst air
pollution event in
UK history, began 65
years ago
The formal separation of Prince Charles and
Princess Diana was announced 25 years ago
3 December
The first human heart
transplant was performed
by surgeon Christiaan
Barnard 50 years ago
16 December
Saturday Night Fever, starring
John Travolta and Olivia
Newton John, made the
world go disco following its
release 40 years ago
14 December
45 years ago, US astronaut
Eugene Cernan was the
last man to walk on the
moon... will anyone follow
in his footsteps?
23 December
The newly invented transistor radio was
first demonstrated by Bell Labs 70 years ago
18 December
The BBC first transmitted
children?s TV programme
The Flowerpot Men 65 years
ago
19 December
Blockbuster film Titanic,
starring Kate Winslet
and Leonardo DiCaprio,
premiered 20 years ago
31 December
Anthony Hopkins, best
known as Hannibal
Lector from Silence of the
Lambs, will be 80
Looking ahead
The 2020 Summer Olympics
will take place in Tokyo
between 24 July and 9 August sportswriters and commentators
and travel writers, start
planning and pitching!
PICS: Christiaan Barnard, Eric Koch/Anefo, CC ASA3; transistor radio, NT Stobbs, CC BY-SA 2.0; Anthony Hopkins, gdcgraphics, CC BTY-SA 2.0.
p038 Editorial calendar.indd 78
25/07/2017 10:34
WWW.MCCRIT.COM
Feedback that works
I edited following your
suggestions, won a competition
then quickly found an agent. I
soon had a UK and a German
publisher, a TV option and was
shortlisted for a Debut Dagger.
So thanks!
?
?
Roz Watkins, The Devil?s Dice
(Harper Collins)
?
?
?
Critiques and mentoring by
James McCreet
Professional
Book Cover Design
Advertising space.indd 1
13/07/2017 15:07
As an experienced graphic designer and indie-author myself,
I understand how scary self-publishing can be. So I will guide you through
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and well-formatted book that you?ll love.
Meet agents | Get feedback | Be inspired
A weekend of discovery dedicated to taking
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www.writers-online.co.uk
p039_wmseptember17.indd 39
www.writersworkshop.co.uk
SEPTEMBER 2017
39
25/07/2017 09:03
UNDER THE MICROSCOPE
Under the
microscope
James McCreet explores the opening passage
of a reader?s magic realist thriller opening
Fallible Justice
I am running.1 The foot that touches the ground
is a deer?s hoof, the foot that propels me forward a
wolf ?s paw.2 With each stride, the wings of a seagull
hold me aloft.3 Running along the sandy hill,4 the
wide paws of a lynx ensure my passing is silent.5
The wind is against me,6 whipping through a
horse?s mane that is my hair.7 With the wind comes
the smells of the land and the sea and I sift through
9
them with the nose of a badger.8 In the distance,
a magpie takes flight and the ears of a dormouse
pinpoint the source of the sound with ease.10 My
foot hits a depression on the ground,11 but with the
balance of a squirrel I change the direction of my
momentum and keep going.12
I am running through the wilderness and the
wilderness runs through me.13
1
A good start ? right in the middle
of the action and with a short
sentence that grabs the attention.
2
But we?re into potentially
confusing territory with this
second sentence. The first question is
whether our narrator is literally some
bizarre chimeric beast or whether
this is an extended metaphor. Either
way, there?s some vagueness. If one
foot (paw) is propelling, then surely
it?s the one touching the ground? Are
both feet touching the ground?
3
But the next sentence tells us
the creature is aloft and that,
presumably, no foot/paw/hoof is
touching the ground. If this is a
hybrid beast, it?s truly an odd-looking
one. If it?s a human channelling the
spirit of the wild, it?s not an entirely
coherent perspective. Beginning the
sentence with a subordinate clause
slows the pace. Switch it: ?The wings
of a seagull... with each stride.?
The hills follow the curves of the coast14 and
from a sheltered cove,15 I catch a whiff of decay.
My stomach growls and it is the hunger of a vixen
sneaking16 towards a chicken coop, a pine marten
tossing a shrew in the air,17 a striped dolphin
chasing a school of cod.18 As soon as the thought
registers, the smell is gone.19
4
A hound bays in the distance.20 It is downwind
from me and has recognised my scent.21 I bay back.
Kin recognises kin.22
5
Although I run with the strength of a red deer,23
the speed of a swift and the grace of a pond skater,
there comes a point when I have to stop.24 I brace
my hands against my knees, breath coming in
gulps. In that moment, I am all human, only
human.25 There is no sorrow in the change26; the
wilderness hovers on the edge of my consciousness,
ready to immerse me with its power.27
40
SEPTEMBER 2017
p040 microscope.indd 40
Another subordinate clause. I see
no purpose for it. Begin with the
main clause: ?The wide paws...?
However, we?ve just been told
that one foot is actually a hoof.
How many legs are we looking at?
Whether this is metaphorical or literal,
it doesn?t make sufficient sense at the
start of the story.
6
I?d start a new paragraph here
because the focus has changed
and because it improves pace.
7
By now, we must be assuming
that this seagull-wolf-horse is
not literal. Even so, the number of
animals used for comparison threatens
to become inadvertently comical. I?d
prefer a definite article (the horse?s
mane) because it?s not just any mane;
it?s the one that is your hair.
Laura Laakso is
originally from
Finland but now
lives in Hertfordshire.
When she is not completing
tax returns to pay the bills,
she trains dogs and writes.
Fallible Justice is her third
novel and is currently short
listed for the Retreat West First
Chapter novel competition. It
is a paranormal detective story
in which an infallible justice
system has decreed a man
guilty of murder for which
he has an alibi. Only one PI
in London is willing to take
on the challenge of proving a
guilty man innocent.
8
I like the rhythmical
repetition of ?and?. It suits the
running. But the addition of yet
another animal introduces that
note of comedy I feared... and
potential pedantry. Is a badger?s
nose truly the most sensitive of
any animal? How about a shark?
Or a bloodhound?
9
This rather disrupts the
immediate focus on the runner
by asking us to look away.
10
Moreover, how can the
narrator know this... unless
they truly are the complicated
chimera or have a sixth sense?
11
12
Does a foot go into a depression
rather than hitting it?
More animals. Like a horse
but also like a squirrel or
a seagull. Physicists might argue
whether momentum can be changed.
It?s not the same as speed and nor is it
necessarily a direction.
www.writers-online.co.uk
25/07/2017 10:35
UNDER THE MICROSCOPE
13
A nice punctuating sentence,
but it risks becoming too
obvious a clich� in its pseudoBuddhist earnestness. The animal
metaphor itself should be sufficient
without needing to be underlined
like this.
14
The contours or the coastline?
It?s not entirely clear.
Specificity would help us to gauge
the speed.
15
Put a comma before ?from?
just to make clear where the
clause is.
16
Is it me ? or is ?sneaking? a
verb more naturally associated
with humans? ?Stalking towards??
17
If the marten was hungry,
wouldn?t he just eat the shrew
rather than playing with it? There?s
a danger here of making this more
zoological than it wants to be.
18
Until now, the cast of
animals has been roughly
within the genre of ?English
countryside? but now we?ve gone full
aquatic. It jars.
19
Not entirely true. The
paragraph is an extended
thought triggered by the smell.
20
An oddly antiquated
language register here.
?Hound? and ?bay? have an archaic
tone that doesn?t quite match the rest.
21
Recognised in the sense of
knowing exactly who it is?
Or more generally ?picked up on? an
alien scent on the wind? It could be
an important distinction.
22
Some confusion again. If
this is a person, would they
really bay? Wouldn?t that be a bit
weird? Whether human or seagulllynx-badger hybrid, they?re no kin to
a hound. It doesn?t quite make sense.
23
I feel the David
Attenborough in me
coming out with each new animal
comparison. Is a red deer really the
acme of running power? If we?ve
had a dolphin, a leopard would be
better than a red deer, surely? The
pond skater, coming straight after the
weight and power of the deer ? not to
mention the aquatic environment ?
strikes a note of unwanted absurdity.
24
The tone of the piece so
far has been quite lyrical
and fantastical, but the quotidian
phrasing of ?there comes a point? is
a dull note. Perhaps it works for just
this reason: dragging us from the
fantasy back to the real world.
25
This sentence needs
repunctuating for more
impact. You could use a full stop or a
dash before ?only human?. The reader
has already guessed that the narrator
must be human, but it?s only here
that it?s overtly stated.
26
Still, we must wonder at
the nature of this ?change?.
Has there been a physical change,
or only a mental one? We don?t
necessarily need to know at this
point in the book and the question is
something to make us read on.
27
Another question. Has the
wilderness imposed its power
on the narrator, or has the narrator?s
perspective configured a relationship
or alternative identification with
the wilderness? It appears to be the
latter ? the mind is what triggers
the change. Nature remains itself. In
terms of prepositions, the wilderness
might immerse the narrator ?in? its
power rather than ?with? its power.
Read James McCreet?s
suggested rewrite of this
extract at
http://writ.rs/wmsep17
? If you would like to submit
an extract of your work in
progress, send it by email,
with synopsis and a brief biog,
to: jtelfer@writersnews.co.uk
www.writers-online.co.uk
p040 microscope.indd 41
IN SUMMARY
This is a bold experiment in
narrative perspective and should
be applauded as such. It takes
risks, and risks are what lead us to
better writing. It?s also an attentiongrabbing start to a novel ? a
compelling perspective that draws
the reader immediately into a way
of seeing and understanding the
narrative world. It asks the reader
to make judgements on what?s real
or perceived.
Unfortunately, this kind of thing
is very hard to do well and the
attempt is not wholly successful.
The number of animals, body parts
and traits becomes confusing,
potentially contradictory and
inadvertently comic. The more
zoological information that?s given,
the more rope there is to strangle
the verisimilitude and set the reader
off on a pedantic track that distracts
from the action.
Fantastic writing (or magic
realism, or whatever we want to
call it) is difficult because it has to
blur lines between the magical and
the real. It has to make us believe.
Simultaneously, it has to avoid
being too ponderous or meaningful.
The reader needs to feel the
altered states without having them
explained or underlined. It?s enough
to feel what the character is feeling.
Other issues here include
specificity of language, precision of
punctuation and careful handling of
grammar to keep the focus sharp.
Fancy writing like this must be
entirely consistent and watertight.
The slightest blip in focus or register
or meaning can trip up the reader
and throw them out of the fictional
world into their own thoughts. At no
point do you want the reader to stop
and think whether the right word is
?recognise? or ?register?, or whether
momentum can be changed.
On the whole, there?s promise
here in the confidence at work.
When the craft catches up, the
chimera will be complete.
SEPTEMBER 2017
41
25/07/2017 10:35
FICTION FOCUS
THE MAGIC NUMBER
A
few months ago
in this column, I
discussed myths
and legends and
mentioned the Rule
of Three: three brothers, three
sisters, three friends, three choices,
three challenges, three parts to every
story ? three just about everything.
This got me thinking about all kinds
of threesomes in fiction, particularly
in traditional fiction.
Why are storytellers so endlessly
fascinated by situations that come
in threes?
As writers, we all know stories
need a beginning, a middle and
an end ? or, if you like, a conflict,
a catastrophe and a conclusion
? not necessarily in that precise
chronological order, but certainly in
that emotional order. We?ll want all
our stories to ask a big, potentially
42
SEPTEMBER 2017
p042 Fiction Focus.indd 42
Margaret James explores the power of three in fiction
complicated question, we?ll hope
to find it?s even bigger and more
complicated than we first thought,
and we?ll also want to offer our
readers some answers, preferably
satisfying ones.
As readers, it doesn?t always matter
if we know at least some of these
answers before we even start reading
a story. After all, we know that in a
romantic comedy the lovers aren?t
going to end up dead or separated,
even if they take some mind-boggling
risks with each other and with life.
We know that in a crime novel the
murderer will be identified and
invariably caught, even if by the time
he or she is caught this person is also
a corpse. We read the stories in order
to find out how and when and why
(yes, there?s that number three again)
certain things happened, not because
we don?t believe they ever did.
Two?s company, three?s a crowd,
or so the age-old clich� goes. But
it?s often a very interesting crowd.
Two or ? even better ? three
suspects in a murder mystery keep
?Two?s company, three?s a
crowd, or so the age-old
clich� goes. But it?s often a
very interesting crowd.?
the reader guessing and hunting
down those elusive clues. Still on
the subject of lovers, there are
plenty of romantic and relationship
www.writers-online.co.uk
25/07/2017 10:39
R
FICTION FOCUS
novels about threesomes in which
a central character needs to make
a difficult choice, often about
whom to marry. Who will Christine
choose in The Phantom of the Opera
? the conflicted but fascinating
Phantom or the conventional but
boring Raoul? Who will Catherine
choose in Wuthering Heights ? the
cruel but charismatic Heathcliff
or the loving but tedious Edgar
Linton? Who will Bella choose in
the Twilight series ? the vampire
Edward or the werewolf Jacob? This
kind of set-up invites the reader
to choose, too ? and even to get
the T-shirt. Yes, there are plenty
of Team Edward and Team Jacob
T-shirts and hoodies for sale on
eBay and elsewhere online.
Offering a character three choices
helps to keep the tension in any
story tight.
Gold, silver or lead ? in The
Merchant of Venice, in which casket
will Portia?s picture be?
At a moral or literal crossroads on
a journey, which of three possible
ways will your adventurer go?
Many longer stories tend to fall
naturally into three parts and are
published as trilogies, often as threegenerational family sagas featuring
three characters from successive
generations, or as the individual
stories of three friends or siblings,
or as adventures or quests that
inevitably become tripartite in the
telling as the heroes are tested three
times before they get (or fail to get)
their hearts? desires.
Dante?s The Divine Comedy shows
Dante himself making his way first
through hell, then through purgatory
and finally through paradise as his
soul journeys towards God: who,
in most Christian traditions, is of
course not one single entity, but
three in one ? the Holy Trinity.
Three wishes, three chances to
toss a coin in a fountain, three days
in which to guess Rumpelstiltskin?s
name ? we human beings seem to
like giving ourselves at least three
goes at many things in life and
hoping it will be third time lucky.
We don?t often marry our
childhood sweethearts and live
happily ever after. We?re much more
likely to consider marrying these
people, then to find circumstances
separate us and to marry other
people, but in later life (perhaps)
to hook up with our childhood
sweethearts again and to try to
get it right this time. Retirement
and social networking, particularly
Facebook, offer many of us the
chance to track down people who
are blasts from our pasts and to find
out if we should have stuck with
them after all.
Cue a great storyline for a novel,
as Jane Austen realised when she
wrote Persuasion, which is all about
giving up the right person and
wondering what to do when he
turns up again: should you allow
all those old feelings to resurface
and should you try to rekindle an
old flame? Or should you accept
he went off you for good after you
dumped him the first time, as Flora
Finching discovers when she tries
to vamp her rejected lover Arthur
Clennam many years later, in
Charles Dickens?s Little Dorrit?
Marry the right person, marry
the wrong person, stay single ? a
(sometimes impossible) threefold
choice that?s offered to most of us in
our lifetimes and the central conflict
situation in more stories than any
reader could possibly count.
NOW Try this
Dream up a story featuring two people ? lovers, rivals,
co-conspirators, business partners, you choose ? then add a
third. How does the introduction of this third person help to rack
up the tension in your story?
www.writers-online.co.uk
p042 Fiction Focus.indd 43
I wish
I?d known?
Teresa Driscoll shares the secrets she wishes
she?d known at the start of her career
?I
t is two years since I held
my first novel Recipes for
Melissa in my hand. I now
have a new two book deal
in a different genre, so
my first thought here is: I wish I had
known this was allowed. Two voices.
Two genres?
?I also wish that before I was published I had known
about needing to have a split personality: that I?d have to
be a writer and an editor who would need to meet the
challenge of writing one book while editing another.
?Oh, and that getting published is a beginning and
not an end.
?Nowadays, I liken being a novelist to planning a big
wedding and getting so caught up in the dress and the cake
and the flowers that you might forget that you have to live
with him afterwards. Oh, you want me to write another
book? What ? immediately?
?I do remember other writers warning me about the
challenges of juggling two books, but on my long journey
to publication (it took the best part of a decade), I only
thought about the prize: the deal.
?So I found that editing my first book while frantically
writing my second was difficult. But I got there in the end
and so now I carry that experience forward.
?As for the double genres? I?ve always had two voices: one
warmer, one darker. This is the result of being a journalist,
covering the light and shade of life and switching styles to
fit. But, way-back-when, some people in fiction circles told
me experimenting in two genres was bad. ?Go darker,? said
one. ?Go warmer,? another cried.
?And now? With wonderful deals for both my voices, I
really wish I had known this was not a pipedream after all.
?And finally? I wish I had known that hanging out with
other authors would be the icing on this literary cake: so
my heartfelt thanks to my literary friends for the warmth,
the wisdom, and ? of course ? the wine. All this means the
world to me!?
Teresa Driscoll is a journalist and former
BBC TV news presenter whose debut
psychological suspense novel I Am
Watching You is published in October by
Thomas and Mercer. She has also written
two contemporary women?s fiction titles,
published in six languages: Recipes for
Melissa and Last Kiss Goodnight.
Website: www.teresadriscoll.com
SEPTEMBER
AUGUST 2017
43
25/07/2017 10:39
TA L K I T OV E R
THE LONG AND
THE SHORT OF IT
How do you make the leap from plotting short stories to a novel?
Different strategies work for different writers, advises Jane Wenham-Jones
I
have had some success with short stories ? both in women?s magazines and competitions
?� and I really enjoy writing them, but my dream is to finish a novel. I can create characters
easily enough and have a theme and an outcome for the 爏tory but I find the detail of actual
plotting almost impossible. When I read about authors spending a month ?planning? or hear
someone say they always write a detailed synopsis first, before they begin, I think: ?How?? I
have all these ideas swirling around in my head but I cannot get them into any sort of order or
begin to make ?a chart? (so frequently recommended in how-to books) of the way the tale will
unfold over thirty or forty chapters. I am close to despair!
SUZY BODDINGTON
Norwich
T
he problem with howto books, Suzy ? and
I speak as the author
of more than one
? is they are going
to naturally reflect the writer?s
preferred method of working and
some of them can be somewhat
trenchant about that to boot.
44
SEPTEMBER 2017
p044 - p045 Talk it over /novel ideas.indd 44
Over the years I have
interviewed hundreds of
authors ? both for those
same how-to books, for features
and on stage at festivals, and the
one thing I have learnt categorically
from all of them is that every writer
is different and there is no ?right?
way of doing anything.
Some authors work on their
outlines for months before typing
a word, others sit down and gaily
start without a clue what they are
going to be writing. Many fall
somewhere between the two.
I recently had the pleasure of
being ?in conversation? with Louise
Doughty and Clare Mackintosh at
the Buckingham Literary Festival.
Louise revealed that she has quite a
chaotic way of working, involving
lots of notes and bits of paper, and
often writes chapters in the wrong
order, causing Clare ? a devotee
of Excel spreadsheets and colourcoding ? to gasp and turn pale.
Both have written hugely successful
bestsellers and have chalked up
millions of sales under their very
different belts.
So firstly, do not despair. You
clearly can plot as you have had
success with short stories. But I
think it can be hard to make that
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25/07/2017 10:49
TA L K I T OV E R
transition from short to long ? I
came up that way too ? and it may
take some time to settle into your
ideal way of working. It may also be
that when it comes to novels, you are
not designed to be a ?plotter? at all.
Jennifer Bohnet has just published
her fourth novel ? The Little Kiosk by
the Sea (HQ) ? but she too started
out with short stories, selling some
200 of them in the UK and abroad.
She describes herself as a ?life-long
pantser? (one who writes by the seat
of her pants rather than by planning
in advance) and says she finds it
?impossible? to write a synopsis before
she begins a new novel. ?Until I?ve
written it, I don?t know the story.?
Jennifer typically has a beginning and
an idea for the end but not ?the road
in between.? She is relaxed about this,
explaining: ?I find knowing too much
before I begin stifles my creativity.?
Refreshingly, she also flies in the
face of much of the standard advice
beloved of writing tutors and declares
cheerfully: ?I rarely know the theme
either when I start but by the end it
has made itself known.?
Jennifer?s advice to you is simple:
?Don?t even try to plan. Write the way
it suits you and just begin.? She suggests
that you start with your characters.
?Jot down some notes about your
main character and the setting, get
to know them, work out what their
conflict is going to be and how you?ll
resolve it,? she says.
Jennifer?s recommended approach
is organic. ?Write a scene ? it doesn?t
even have to be the first scene,
just one you know the story needs.
Characters have a wonderful way
of influencing things in unexpected
ways as you write.?
I would agree about the importance
of getting going. It is all too easy to
get stuck in a bind where you don?t
know what to write so you write
nothing. And the longer this goes on,
the more frozen you feel.
You probably have some ideas
for the big dramatic events in your
book. Write one of these. Perhaps the
chapter where your heroine first claps
eyes on the love of her life, your hero
discovers the body in the library or
one of the children reads the email
that reveals her father is up to no
good. When you?ve done that, have
a think about what would happen
before or just after.
This can be a basic plotting
strategy too. Write down all the ideas
you have, or what might happen in
your story ? on Post-it notes or small
pieces of card ? and then lay them
out in front of you.
Sometimes, just seeing them there
can kick-start one?s imagination and
as you start moving them around
into an order that would work,
you may find the inspiration for
the linking material between them,
starts coming. If you stick the Postits to a larger piece of card you
can put it up on the wall, or keep
it somewhere you will see it often,
and insert new chapters, add ideas,
swap the order around, as your story
begins to emerge.
Jennifer Bohnet also offers this
idea: ?Perhaps one way of easing
you into writing a longer story
without plotting, would be to take
say, a family heirloom, or a certain
house, and write short stories about
individual characters whose lives are
touched by the heirloom or live in
the house at various times.? As she
points out: ?Twelve short stories of
3,000 words linked together like that
would give you a novella.?
Most of all, have faith. ?Trust
in the process,? as someone much
wiser than me once said. If you
keep writing, the plot will come.
And whether that is in chart form,
or simply the result of a lightbulb moment halfway round the
supermarket really doesn?t matter.
You can do it. Good luck!
A selection of Jane?s previous Talk It Over
columns are now available as an ebook.
A Problem Shared Volume One is free to
download on Kindle via Amazon.
www.writers-online.co.uk
p044 - p045 Talk it over /novel ideas.indd 45
Novel
Ideas
Creative
differences
Thoughts on prostitution, from
Lynne Hackles
T
here?s ten minutes before my
rendezvous. It sounds the right sort
of word. I am meeting a stranger,
another writer. Ten-thirty at The
Bluebird Tea-rooms.
My suggestion was that one of us wore a
carnation, the other carried a copy of Writing
Magazine. She wasn?t up for it and said she?d
recognise me from my website picture. I checked
her website for a photo. It turned out that her
picture was at least ten years out of date and
that?s my excuse for accosting a very pleasant
lady who was intrigued about my blind date.
Afterwards I wish I?d stayed chatting to her. She
was more interesting.
When the lady I was expecting turned up we
ordered a pot of tea and she told me all about
her unpublished novel. She didn?t want payment
for it, she said. It was a labour of love. ?What do
you write?? she asked. I told her about my stories,
articles and books. ?And when are you creative??
she asked.
That?s when I took a deep breath and searched
for a polite response. ?All of my writing is creative,?
I eventually said. She didn?t seem to think that
writing for money was a very nice thing to do.
Apparently writing is an art form and I?ve been
prostituting mine. Nice one, Lynne!
This lady and I made no plans to meet again.
Once home I settled down to a little more
whoredom and knocked out the first draft of a
short story. Then I sent an invoice for an article I?d
written. Oh goodie! More prostitution.
Some of you may remember the Moli鑢e
quote I used in a previous piece. ?Writing is like
prostitution. First you do it for the love of it, then
you do it for a few friends, and finally you do it
for money.?
I love Moli鑢e.
SEPTEMBER
JANUARY 2017
45
25/07/2017 13:00
TITLE
Keeping
the Faith
An object lesson in sensitive characterisation from Joanne Harris, explored by Helen M Walters
J
oanne Harris is perhaps
best known for her
novels, including
Chocolat, The Gospel
of Loki and Blackberry
Wine but she has also written many
short stories, and it is one of these that
I?d like to look at this month. Faith
And Hope Go Shopping is a touching
tale of two elderly women in a care
home who decide to make a break for
freedom. The story has lots to show
us about how the use of humour, an
engaging voice, and perfectly chosen
language in a story can produce a
magical effect. As usual, there are
spoilers ahead and you?ll get the most
from this masterclass if you read the
story for yourself first. It?s in Joanne?s
2005 collection Jigs and Reels.
The story of Hope, who is blind,
and Faith, who is in a wheelchair,
could have been a downbeat one
in the wrong hands, but Joanne
Harris has turned it into anything
but. The story is told in first person
from Faith?s point of view, and her
personality, her insights and her
unique take on life shine through.
Real issues are being tackled here
? loneliness, isolation and the
frustrations of old age ? but the
46
SEPTEMBER 2017
p046 Masterclass.indd 46
lightness of touch and humour
prevent it from being too cloying
or depressing.
This is a story of people overcoming
their circumstances, and even being
able to make those circumstances
work in their favour. Notice how, by
working as a team, the duo combat
the limitations of Hope?s lack of
sight and Faith?s lack of mobility.
And although Hope can?t see, she can
replicate the key strokes needed to get
past the security coded door by the
use of exceptionally good hearing.
Humour is all important in
transforming Faith and Hope?s
situation into something uplifting
and positive. Note the little touches
of self-deprecating humour, such as
where Faith refers to her wardrobe
as ?nursing-home chic? and explains
that the staff consider her to be
?nicely lucid?.
One of the appealing things
about this story is the little
vignettes that we are given of
some of the minor characters.
Faith?s observations of the staff at
the home are full of the sort of
well-observed detail that lifts the
story out of the ordinary. One
staff member has ?exaggerated lip
liner?, one wears tight T-shirts and
calls the duo of elderly ladies ?Butch
and Sundance? and one is sulky
and always chewing gum. Notice
also how carefully Faith and Hope
choose who the best member of staff
to be on reception at the time of
their breakout is. Lucy is too clever,
Claire is too thick, but Kelly can be
relied on to behave in just the way
they need.
Although there are a lot of
characters in the story who only
appear briefly, each one is beautifully
brought to life. As well as the care
staff and residents of the home, we
meet the people Faith and Hope
encounter on their journey into the
outside world. The train guard, the
grumpy taxi driver who tells them
they belong in the British Museum
and the shop assistant with smiley
eyes are all vividly drawn.
Faith and Hope are prompted to
go on their adventure by something
that starts as a bit of a fantasy ? a
pair of shoes in a magazine. The
fantasy prompted by the shoes, in
their fabulous, enticing high-heeled
redness, starts to impose itself on
Faith?s reality. Note what the shoes
symbolise for Faith; freedom,
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25/07/2017 15:28
MASTERCLASS
mobility, speed. And how they
contrast with her current situation
as she sits in a wheelchair wearing
sensible beige care-home slip-ons.
There are also little touches of
the fairy tale when Faith and Hope
arrive in London on their quest to
find the shoes that Faith has set
her heart on. Notice the beautifully
lush description of Fortnum and
Mason?s, which is referred to as an
antechamber of heaven, and how
Faith describes herself and Hope
as being changed in appearance,
appearing gilded, when they see
themselves in the bathroom mirror.
Note how Joanne Harris?s
descriptions transport the reader by
calling on all the senses, not just
what the characters can see and hear.
You can smell the vanilla, taste the
chocolate and feel the fluffy towels.
There?s also a great use of language
in the scene where Faith finally
tries on the shoes. Notice how the
string of words all beginning with
the letter S sound in your mind as
you read them. The onomatopoeia
of the repeated S evokes the effect
of movement and the feeling of feet
moving across the ground.
The moment when Faith, having
tried on the beautiful red shoes
and finding they weren?t suitable,
is presented with a flower by the
male assistant in the shop offers a
perfect bittersweet ending to this
story of faith and hope. Learn from
Joanne Harris the techniques of
using perfectly chosen language and
humour to produce a story that is
heartwarming and life affirming with
some very special touches of magic.
It?s a sensitive issue
You can add warmth and poignancy
to your own stories by tackling
sensitive issues and difficult situations
in an empathetic and imaginative
way. Don?t shy away from writing
about people who have experienced
difficulties such as bereavement,
miscarriage or divorce, or who are
living with illnesses and disabilities.
As Joanne Harris has shown, writing
about people who are experiencing
these challenges doesn?t have to be
depressing or downbeat. If handled
with the right level of understanding
and warmth they can be uplifting.
There are of course, some things
you need to be careful of if you
are going to do this. You need
to write about sensitive
To read
issues in such a way that
Faith And Hope Go
you don?t invite negative
Shopping by Joanne
reactions or offend
people with glibness
Harris, see
or lack of insight. One
http://writ.rs/
way to do this is to make
wmsep17
sure that you understand
and empathise fully with the
situation you are writing about.
Try to put yourself fully in that
person?s shoes.
How might you do this? Well, if
you have a particular situation in
mind, you could try reading some
non-fiction accounts of people
experiencing it. Or if you know
someone who has experienced the
issue you want to cover you could
talk to them about it.
Failing that, try to think about a
situation you may have been in that
has similarities to the one you are
trying to describe. Then use your
awareness of your own emotions
and reactions to extrapolate. For
example, you may never have
experienced being in a wheelchair,
but you may have had a broken limb
or some other temporary reduction
of mobility. Ask yourself how that
experience is similar, and also how it
is different. Equally, you may never
have experienced being bereaved of
a parent, but you may have lost a
grandparent or a much-loved uncle
or aunt. Use the experiences you have
had to help fill in the gaps of the
ones you haven?t.
You also need to make sure you
are not stereotyping people in
your writing. Don?t assume that
all elderly ladies behave in the
same way, that all blind people
have the same characteristics,
or that everyone with mobility
issues feels the same way about
it. Two elderly ladies in a story
could easily have become
cardboard cut out caricatures.
Faith and Hope in the story by
Joanne Harris aren?t because of the
delightful details we are given about
them that makes them stand out as
sparkling and interesting individuals.
Another powerful ingredient to
use in stories on sensitive subjects is
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p046 Masterclass.indd 47
humour. Let your characters laugh at
themselves as Faith does. Someone
who can see the humour in their own
situation is much less likely to be seen
as pitiful. And if you can make your
reader laugh, you?ll leave them with
an upbeat feeling as well as having
given them something important to
think about.
The other thing you need to be
aware of is if there are any taboos in
the market you are writing for. How
sensitive is too sensitive?
Obviously, this varies hugely
depending on the nature of the
market. In order to find out what
the potential no-go areas are for the
market you are targeting, you need
to do two things. One is to look at
the guidelines, and another is to read
the kind of stories they are already
publishing and consider what topics
they cover.
The women?s magazine short story
market has moved on a lot in the last
few years in terms of what subjects
it is prepared to cover. In fact few
things are completely taboo. These
days you would still struggle to write
about recreational drug use or child
abuse in a way that was acceptable to
the market but you could probably
get away with a story about, for
example, rape or alcoholism. It?s
all about how you write it. Many
guidelines will still say things like
?avoid sex and violence? or ?nothing
too dark and depressing?, but more
subjects than you might think are
acceptable as long as they are handled
sensitively and tastefully.
If you?re writing stories to enter
into competitions or anthologies,
the range of subject areas you
could write about is wider. But
there will still be some provisos.
In competition rules I often see
stipulations like ?no graphic sex or
gratuitous violence?. So do check
guidelines and judges? reports
before submitting.
Don?t be afraid to tackle
potentially sensitive subjects in your
stories. Just remember to check
your audience, and make sure you
write about them in a way that does
them justice. That way you can
write a story that really makes your
readers think, as well as delivering a
thoroughly engaging read.
SEPTEMBER 2017
47
25/07/2017 15:28
SAU B S C R I B E R S P OT L I G H T
R
Y
O
Y
SH A RE
U R STO
SUBSCRIBER
SPOTLIGHT
Share your writing success stories. If you subscribe to Writing Magazine and
would like to feature here, email Tina Jackson, tjackson@warnersgroup.co.uk
Memory, guilt,
and hope
?By genre it?s a psychological thriller, but it
was only when I?d almost finished writing
my novel Where There Is Darkness, which
is partly set in the 1980s, that I realised it
was really a story about memory,? writes
subscriber Richard Waters.
?The novel?s protagonist is haunted by a guilty secret from his
past, and the gradual descent through the layers of his memory
and the drama that is unleashed when his past finally catches up
with him form the central narrative. But also, the act of writing the
book was itself a process of unpicking my own memories of a faroff time and place.
?I grew up in Birmingham but have lived in Sydney, Australia,
for over twenty years. Somehow, the longer I have stayed away,
the more powerful my memories of 1980s urban Britain have
grown. Eventually I had to get something down on paper, and a
chance encounter with an old acquaintance who turned out to be
harbouring a very nasty secret provided the catalyst for my story,
which alternates between Birmingham in November 1981 and
modern day Australia.
?Where There Is Darkness is not a political novel. But the early
Thatcher years ? a time characterised by violence, social unrest and
youth disenfranchisement ? provided the perfect background in
which to set the crimes of my protagonist, as well as prompting the
novel?s title.
?A one-time chartered surveyor, I migrated to Australia in 1996
and became a freelance travel writer and marketing copywriter.
But for years, writing fiction felt like something I had no right to
do; something ?other people? did. That finally changed when I
was accepted onto the MA Creative
Writing Programme at the University
of Technology Sydney, the output of
which, six years later, was my novel.
?A combination of impatience
and rejections from the first few
publishers I approached led me to
self-publish Where There Is Darkness
in print and ebook. But only now
am I realising that writing the book
was the easy part: the world of selfpublishing is a whole new challenge,
but a fun one.?
Website: www.richardwaters.com
48
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Playing out
?Although I write poetry and prose
my greatest love is theatre and many
of my one act plays are available on
Amazon and at www.scripts4stage.
com,? writes subscriber Bev Clark.
?In 2015 I was delighted to win
the Roister Doister one act play
competition for young people. The
Black Eyes is a spooky, urban myth
using elements of physical theatre
and was an award winner at national
drama festivals in 2016, available on Amazon and from www.
roisterdoister.com
?In 2016 RIP Mr Shakespeare, a clown-theatre cavalcade of
the Bard?s characters, co-written with Keith Hill for the RSC
open stages won a vast collection of awards and continues to
be performed.
?My target audience is amateur groups, youth theatres and
schools and have many short plays in different genres?- drama,
comedy, mystery and youth plays. Writing for the stage is not
as lucrative as other forms of writing can be. It?s not just about
selling the scripts, revenue comes from the licence royalty when
they are performed. Getting a company to put on a production
not only brings in a small royalty but it?s the best way to
advertise your play. Especially if they appear in festivals.
I have published a book of poetry but still trying to finish
the novel ? ideas for plays keep getting in the way.?
www.writers-online.co.uk
25/07/2017 11:02
S U B S C R I B E R S P OT L I G H T
Blood and
box sets
Bad girls let loose
?Box sets appear to be very popular with
readers at the moment, which is why I
decided to put together the first three
Fiona Mason Mysteries, in one volume,?
writes subscriber Judith Cranswick.
?Fiona Mason takes up a new career as
a tour manager for a coach company. Her new role provides her
with plenty of unexpected challenges to test her abilities, including
tracking down murderers and terrorists before they can harm any
more of her passengers.
?In Blood on the Bulb Fields, Fiona?s first assignment is fraught
with problems. Murder and mayhem break out on the Dutch
bulb fields when diamond smugglers fall out with one another.
Murder, kidnap and terrorists bring chaos and confusion to what
should have been a peaceful tour of the Rhine Valley in Blood in
the Wine, and in Blood and Chocolate, Fiona?s tour of Belgium goes
horribly awry when one of her passengers is found dead soon after
the assassination of a British MP at a rally outside the European
Parliament building. Could there be a link between the two deaths?
?Travel is the inspiration for all my books and I have recently
returned from a research trip (a wonderful holiday) to the Rhone
Valley which is the setting for the sixth Fiona Mason Mystery. I
always visit all of the places I describe in each book ? often on
an actual coach holiday ? and it?s
surprising how many of the minor
things that happen find their way
into the finished novel. A painful,
twisted ankle on our coach tour
to the Rhine Valley, a missing
passenger who got lost in maze
of tunnels below a wine cellar
and, on our visit to Keukenhof,
I spotted a closed caf� that made
a perfect hiding place for a dead
body in Blood on the Bulb Fields.?
Website: judithcranswick.co.uk
?After writing the novel I had to write (My
Little Brother, My Little Life) inspired by my
autistic son, I have learned that publishers
are not willing to spend money on marketing
?unknown? novelists,? writes
subscriber Dee Gordon.
?So I have returned to my
?known? genre, with the publication
of Bad Girls from History, Wicked
or Misunderstood coming up in
September from Pen & Sword
Books. It is still a bit of a change
for me, not being local history, with
the book featuring 100 mini bios of women that are well known
(e.g. Cleopatra, Boudicca, Mae West) and women less so (eg Cora
Pearl, Edith Thompson, Damaris Page). This will be my eighteenth
published book, meaning I have managed to stay on track with one
book a year since retiring a tad early nearly eighteen years ago.
?Although I have a number of novels in my head, I am not
tempted to spend many months writing a book which may not
find a publisher, although I do see that it is possible to build up a
fan base who will then buy earlier novels and boost sales that way.
For me, a commissioned non-fiction book with focused marketing
and good distribution is the way to go. And non-fiction has a wider
market than you might think ? I have sold copies of The Little Book
of The East End in Australia and America, and of Essex Land Girls in
Spain (all those ex-pats?).
?Moral of this story? Stick to what you know!?
Website: www.deegordon-writer.com
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we?ll give you as much exposure as we can through our digital edition and
website. As ever, send your details to tjackson@warnersgroup.co.uk
www.writers-online.co.uk
p048 Subscriber news.indd 49
SEPTEMBER 2017
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S U B S C R I B E R S P OT L I G H T
Write a book in a year
?It took longer than a year
but that was the title of
the course I attended, run
by published author and
teacher of creative writing,
Jackie Buxton,? writes
subscriber Hazel Goss.
?Until then I had no
burning ambition to
write a book and no story
festering in my mind for
years. I belonged to a
creative writing group called The Next Chapter,
meeting once a fortnight in Harrogate, and we
were used to writing short stories and poems.
This would be a huge challenge.
?Before retirement I was a primary school
teacher and an idea for a novel came into my
head when I remembered a young boy coming
into my class, for just a few weeks. He was a
refugee from Kosovo who told me about the
bombing in Pristina. His family fled from the
wreckage of their house through burning streets.
The boy was ten years old and his English was
excellent. He became my main character, Davud,
and narrator of the story.
?I began to research and the plot quickly
developed. Serbia wanted to absorb Kosovo.
The majority of the population of Kosovo at
that time were Albanian, the minority Serbian.
It could only be achieved if the Albanians were
?persuaded? to leave.
?Professional Albanians were told they had to
sign an allegiance to Serbia, or lose their jobs.
Davud?s father, a surgeon, decided to sign and stay,
even though he felt no allegiance to Serbia. His
close friend, Fadil Dhomi, refused to sign and had
to leave the country.
?Fadil Dhomi led his family to England and the
reader follows their difficulties both during the
journey and on arrival in London and eventual
settlement in Leeds. At the same time Davud?s
family suffered loss and degradation as the Serbs
made life almost impossible for them. Finally they
also had to leave Kosovo
when their apartment
was bombed.
?Forced to Flee is a
book about facing and
conquering adversity
but also about the love
and support of family
and friends.
?Forced to Flee is
available from www.
yps-publishing.co.uk
and also from Amazon.?
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Always the next story
?When did I start writing fiction?? writes subscriber Glenn
McGoldrick.
?I had the idea in 2012. Read a ?how to? book and thought,
this is something I can do.
?I enrolled on a course: Creative Writing Flying Start. Different
assignments and exercises. The last assignment was to write a
story. So I wrote my first story. It was okay, good marks.
?Then I wasted six months trying to live in Argentina,
eventually accepting the fact that I didn?t want to be with the
woman I was with. So I returned to England. I started another writing course with Writer?s
College. I got plenty of work done, happy to have something to throw myself into, and my
marks were good.
?Then I had a few successes, had stories published in Scribble magazine, won a competition
or two. I also had plenty of rejections and disappointments. So what. It?s all part of the game.
?In February 2017 I published a collection of some of my stories on Amazon Kindle.
Researched for a couple of months, did all the work, even the
cover photo. I wanted to be able to say that I?d done absolutely
every part of the process myself. It turned out quite well, I think;
it was stressful at times, but very rewarding, and it?s great to see
my book on Amazon. Then I went and did it all again with my
second collection!
?I promote the books on social media, and I?ve set up my own
website, joined Goodreads and Twitter, trying to spread the word,
get reviews, all that jazz. I?ve sold some books already, but it?s not
enough. It?s never enough.
?But, to me, there?s no hurry. The sales will pick up, I think, as
I learn how to better promote my work, and until then, well ? I?ll
just get the hell on with the next story.?
Who are you going to call?
?I often write about the supernatural ? I think it?s because I grew
up in a rather spooky house,? writes subscriber Lucy Banks.
?However, I never wanted to write a frightening book. Instead,
I wanted to create a story that normalised spooky goings-on and
made people laugh. Dare I say it? fear can be funny, sometimes!
?I?ve actually been writing since I was nineteen, but it?s only fairly
recently that I dared to start sending it out to publishers. I found
Amberjack Publishing in a Writing Magazine feature, and after looking at their website,
really hoped they?d consider me, as I loved their enthusiasm (and taste in books).
?To be honest, I presumed it wouldn?t stand a chance. So, as you might imagine, I
was stunned when they requested to see the full manuscript, and even more shocked
when they said they wanted to publish it!
?The Case of the Green-Dressed Ghost came out in March 2017, and was described by
Publisher?s Weekly as ?Ghostbusters with a British accent?, which sums it up better than I
ever could have done. Kester, a plump academic type, goes in search of the mysterious
Dr Ribero after the death of his mother ? and ends up
inadvertently joining a supernatural agency. This wouldn?t
be so problematic, were he not completely terrified of
anything remotely ghostly.
?So far, the book?s been well received by readers both sides
of the Atlantic, and it really is lovely that people have read
it and enjoyed it ? after all, that?s why we do it, isn?t it? The
second in the series, The Case of the Deadly Doppelganger, is
coming out next February.
?I?m so glad I summoned up the courage to send it off ?
it?s been a rollercoaster ride, and it?s so exciting to finally be
doing what I love best.?
Website: www.lucy-banks.co.uk
www.writers-online.co.uk
25/07/2017 11:03
S U B S C R I B E R S P OT L I G H T
Waiting
Finding the right style
?I first started writing seriously in my early twenties after
having previously tried in my late teens,? writes subscriber
Rebecca Perkin. ?Looking back, I now know why I didn?t
continue with my first novel ? it wasn?t the genre for me.
I realised my style was more for young adults and my
favoured genre was fantasy/sci-fi, a little different to the
chick-lit I?d attempted previously!
?Once I?d found my favoured genre and target audience,
and developed an idea that had been going round in my
head, I wrote a first draft, then sent it out to be edited. I learnt a lot from the first few
re-drafts and was helped by courses/lectures I attended. I continued to re-draft my
novel and let others read it, both friends and professionals. It took a few years, but after
winning a free read with The Literary Consultancy, I felt spurred on and sent my novel
out to agents. Whilst I got positive feedback I didn?t get
requests for the full manuscript.
?After careful consideration I decided to self-publish
and enrolled in an online self-publishing course. I wrote
a thorough checklist for everything I needed to do, and
whilst I waited for final proofreads and formatting, I
signed up to the sites I wished to publish on and set
myself a deadline, hitting it when I published my debut
novel, White Plains, on Amazon and Kobo. Since then,
I have worked hard to spread the word about and was
excited when the first sale was on Amazon.com (I know
no one in America!). Sales have been steady and I look
forward to more marketing and publication of my next
novel!? Website: www.rebeccaperkinauthor.com
?Could I have done anything different that might have made
my life with him more acceptable, always? It comes down to
? what ifs,? writes subscriber Sara Adams.
?I will never know, after three years of the beatings and my
perseverance, thinking it was all my fault as he told me so. I
gave up the struggle and fled.
?I have been nurturing, and developing this book, it has
been my precious baby since 1997. It is my masterpiece, it is
also, to a greater extent, the story of my troubled past.
?After years of building a new life, putting pen to paper and
writing this creation, which is mostly truth and with a little
twist of fiction. It has been my salvation from the prolonged
bad dreams and night terrors. For which, I have given thanks
that they have now faded into a distant bad memory.
?Perhaps, after all the rewriting and editing it might be just
right at last.
?Perhaps, one day I will get an acceptance slip instead of
the pile of rejections ones I have received.
?Perhaps, one day a big fat cheque will plop onto my
doormat.
?Perhaps, one day pigs might fly.
?Now is the time of being patient and waiting for a
publisher to wake up and decide my blockbuster is a
masterpiece of the century.
?I always seem to be waiting for something or someone, the
postman, a telephone call, a text, an email.
?It is a waiting game.?
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www.writers-online.co.uk
25/07/2017 10:53
SEPTEMBER 2017
51
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S U B S C R I B E R S P OT L I G H T
Writing and
recovery
?I have always loved writing,
from schooldays with
a fabulous teacher who
encouraged my imagination,
to writing lectures and
workshops for my work
as an addiction therapist,? writes subscriber
Sarina Wheatman.
?I have long kept journals and notebooks with
various jottings, a moving ideas board with poems,
and ideas that could maybe someday develop into
something more substantial. My career however
kept me very occupied with little time to spare.
This dream of writing a book for publication was
just that, a lovely dream.
?The dream would have remained until I
happened upon Writing Magazine. Reading about
other people who had similar dreams, and learning
about different aspects of writing and publishing
served to whet my appetite.
?The idea for my book Twisted Wires comes
from my long years of working in addictions and
encountering so much misunderstanding about
the subject from the people that have it, as well as
the public at large. What to talk about in this huge
subject was the first question, yet once I started, the
ideas just flowed.
?My desire is for people with this illness to be
able to find some answers quickly and to also
challenge the public perception about addiction.
Most of the subjects covered in the book are
subjects we encounter in treatment every day. The
most difficult challenge was to be brave enough
to talk publicly about my beliefs. As a recovering
addict and someone who still has vestiges of social
phobia the prospect of being publicly visible was/
is hugely scary.
?The path to publication was not plain sailing.
I finished it, and polished it, and sent it off to
various publishing houses, luckily, I had read
in Writing Magazine that rejections were not
necessarily a bad thing, or meant the work was not
worth printing, so I persisted. Austin Macauley
offered me a hybrid contract where I would pay
a contribution towards the cost of publishing. As
a first-time author and a subject that may not be
popular, and no particular
skills in technology to
enable going down the
self-publishing route I felt
this would be a perfect
compromise. Of course,
I want the book to be
successful, however even
if just one person who
has the illness reads it and
accesses the help they need
I will consider it a success.?
52
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p048 Subscriber news.indd 52
Finding a new way
?Gradually losing one?s sight is a writer?s worst nightmare,?
writes subscriber Stella Whitelaw.
?Newspapers only yield headlines; you keep making typing
errors; you can?t read large-print books.
?But miracles can happen. After two years in the
wilderness, this month I have had two books published.
They have both had long journeys since my hardback
publisher sent me a sad email just before Christmas 2015. She had already accepted
one of the books but the ink was not dry on the contract.
?Now Dangerous Shadows is published by Endeavour Press as an ebook and A
Rose Named Vengeance is published by Tirgearr Publishing, also an ebook.
?During the two years I tried numerous publishers but they did not want an
author with my track record. ?Get an agent?, they advised. I approached many
agents. Mostly they did not even answer.
?Then I spotted that Endeavour Press were having
a one-month window for submissions. It was a last
chance because by then I could hardly read any of
Writers? News without several magnifying glasses
and LED lights. They liked the story. The cover for
Dangerous Shadows is brilliant. I?m having it framed to
hang on my wall.
?A Rose Named Vengeance includes explicit scenes of
marital abuse and reveals what often goes on behind
drawn curtains. Tirgearr had the courage to publish it.
?So I?ve learned never to give up even when the
world is growing dark and I make lots of mistakes. I
can still see my covers on the wall.?
A story journey
?The Girl Who Travelled the World by Accident happened, well, by
accident,? writes subscriber Tom J Perrin.
?At the time I was writing short stories exclusively. Horror, romance,
thriller? you name it and I was trying to write it. Having short
stories published was a great feeling, but I felt that a novel was the
next step for me as a writer. However, at 24, I knew I had time to
write it. It all came about when a colleague and her family were getting ready to jet off
with their little one for the first time. Voil�, that simple conversation about a family trip
to Lanzarote sparked it all off.
?The research that went into making the novel was really fun (and educational),
and the writing even more so! Savannah grew on the writing journey and by the end
of it I had something I was genuinely proud of. Fast forward six months and another
dozen or so short stories, and small Canadian-based publishing outfit Gnome on Pig
Productions took a leap of faith with the story.
?And then it was out and I was still disbelieving that I had written a children?s novel. I
stood in front of primary school children and read my work,
I taught writing workshops, and more and more people were
asking me what Savannah was going to get up to next. It felt
like I have started something.
?Well, long story short, she is coming back with a new
adventure but before then there is going to be another
little character to introduce to you all by the name of Alex
Hancock. My next children?s novel The Boy Who Wears Red
Trousers is in editing stage right now, and should be with you
in the near future.?
Website: www.facebook.com/tomjperrinwriting
www.writers-online.co.uk
25/07/2017 11:03
S U B S C R I B E R S P OT L I G H T
See you on
the darker side
North versus
south
?I wrote ?stuff? personally for ages and have to
write professionally during my job, which has to be
considered strictly non-fiction R&D reports, position
papers, etc,? writes subscriber Martin Rothaemel.
?I played with the idea of writing screenplays
(but never finished anything, and also realised
that the chances of breaking in are minuscule to non-existing) but turned
back to fiction. To finally finish something I switched to short stories/novellas.
Next problem: I wanted to control all aspects of the story, including layout,
font, cover and so on? So I said goodbye to ebooks and went down the selfpublishing road (using Pages for the text and Photoshop for the cover).
?Now two of my novellas are available (based on the self-publishing Lulu
platform) and also available via all branches of Amazon.
?The Darker Side of the Moon is the second in the series. The year: 2044.
Due to advances in fusion technology, the Earth has solved its energy problem.
But it all relies on 3He, an invaluable energy source that can only be harvested
on the surface of Moon. When a series of accidents threatens the supply, it
is up to one woman to find the root cause ? and save
Earth itself!
?It shares the basic premise of having a countdown
structure to drive the action forward until the boiling
point. Also each novella takes place in a specific time
and place and involves different nationalities (Issue
1 takes place basically in the present and features a
Chinese protagonist, Issue 2 (the one linked to above)
takes place in the near future in a French-dominated
company and Issue 3 (WIP) will takes place in WW2
past and German protagonist.) and deal with a
vaguely (or obvious) sci-fi trope.?
Website: http://writ.rs/thedarkersideofthemoon
Without borders
?I never intended to write a story set in Syria,? writes subscriber Susanne Burge.
?The catastrophe engulfing that country is too upsetting to contemplate
and writing about it would have to do justice somehow, to those people
it sought to represent. But then, in January 2013, two news items hit the
headlines that I could not ignore. The fate of Dr Abbas Khan was particularly
shocking and struck a personal chord. He was a British hand surgeon,
married with young children, whose punishment for going back to help his
people in Syria was imprisonment and death by torture and starvation.
?As a doctor, I too, have considered offering my services in places where it
is most needed. The fate of Dr Khan could have been mine if I had had the
courage to act on my convictions as he did.
?Not long after this, we were presented with evidence that Assad?s machine had
systematically murdered thousands of his citizens in the same way and I have to
remind myself with shame, that President Assad is also a qualified doctor.
?Without Borders is inspired by heroes who rise above depravity,
demonstrating the power of the human spirit to overcome adversity and the
redeeming power of love. It is based on the testaments of survivors. As Karen
Blixon once said ?All sorrows can be borne if you put them into a story or
tell a story about them.?
?All proceeds from all sales of Without Borders will go to the Save the
Children Syria appeal.?
Website: www.susanneburge.com
www.writers-online.co.uk
p048 Subscriber news.indd 53
?Whilst living in Namibia?s
Kalahari, where I wrote two
non-fiction books and gave
birth to my first child, my
partner and I chatted about
which part of England we
would return to, after our
African years had come to
an end,? writes subscriber
Chris Longden.
?With me being a proud
northerner ? and him
preferring to return to the
Isle of Wight ? we were
bound to have some friendly
disagreements about the geography of it all.
?Of course, ?the gobby northern girl? got
her own way and as an act of penance, I began
to scribble a humorous storyline that centres
on the polarity of perceptions that many of us
have, about northern versus southern prejudices.
This book became Mind Games and Ministers,
and I?m now happy to announce the follow-up
novel, Cuckoo in the Chocolate, which is available
via Amazon.
?Basing the storylines on my own previous
career in social housing and politics, I also
wanted to address the question of whether every
politician is indeed, a lying, cheating toe-rag.
The protagonist in both books, former Whitehall
advisor Rachael Russell, has every good reason to
feel cynical about the world, especially after being
catapulted into lone parenthood, following the
death of her husband. But in Cuckoo, the latest
developments in her life finally begin to chip
away at her long-held biases about love and life.
?Cuckoo is the sequel to Mind Games and
Ministers but I was determined to ensure that
it had a standalone storyline. The book is full
of comedy moments, but at the same time it
examines important social issues such as domestic
violence, bereavement and class consciousness.
?I?d love fellow devotees of Writing Magazine to
read this book and have a lot of laughs. It always
means more to me somehow, if a fellow writer
enjoys my work.?
SEPTEMBER 2017
53
25/07/2017 11:03
WRITERS? CIRCLES
CIRCLES? ROUNDUP
If your writing group would like to feature here, whether you need new members, have an event
to publicise or to suggest tips for other groups, email Tina Jackson, tjackson@warnersgroup.co.uk
ASA
SPOTLIGHT ON?
White Peak Writers,
Derbyshire
Roz and I met on a creative writing course in 2013
writes Rebecca Bagnall. When it ended we couldn?t
find a suitable writing group so we started our own.
We wanted to continue to meet to support each other,
provide feedback and encouragement and retain focus.
We advertised in the hope of attracting another two
or three writers to join us to cover the cost of the room
hire (we meet at Strutts Community Centre in Belper).
Two and a half years later we have a regular contingent
of sixteen, meeting on the second and fourth Tuesday of
the month for a couple of hours.
We take it in turns to lead the sessions with writing
prompts and exercises and people often go on to
work on these after our meeting. We always read
out our efforts to each other and find inspiration in
listening and sharing. We find that writing to a time
pressure produces some excellent results. We also have
a ?feedback? session three times a year where we look
beforehand at pieces people are working on and give
detailed responses.
We sometimes invite authors to join us to speak
about their writing process and have found these to be
both stimulating and fun.
We?re working towards producing our first anthology;
we?ve all submitted pieces for it and two of our
members are working on getting this published.
One of the greatest inspirations we find from
being part of our writing group is learning of, and
supporting, each other?s successes. Roz has secured
a book deal and her first novel will be published in
2018. Other members have had stories and articles
published in magazines, poems in anthologies and
have won competitions.
We love hearing of each other?s achievements and
wouldn?t be without the mutual support and enjoyment
the group provides.
Website: https://whitepeakwriters.wordpress.com
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A Writing Festival ? the first
to be held on Anglesey
?This year, on 9
September, a Writing
Festival will be held in
David Hughes School in
Menai Bridge, Anglesey,
writes Angie Gliddon.
It will consist of
workshops for writers
in English and also for
learners of Welsh. Visitors will be able
to choose to attend up to three of twelve workshops that will be held
throughout the day, with tutors all being published writers. Topics
include poetry, drama, e-publishing and well-being.
In addition, there will be an evening concert featuring
composer/musician John Hywel and poet/playwright John Gorman
(remember The Scaffold?) and performances of poems by some of
M鬾tage Writers.
This event is the latest venture of a committee formed from local
creative writing groups, M鬾tage Writers, whose original aim was to
publish a book of stories and poems written by people currently living
on Anglesey. They accomplished that very successfully with their first
anthology M鬾tage: Writings from a Welsh Island, which was baptised
with red wine at its launch in 2013 by David Crystal (pictured).
(?M鬾tage? is a play on M鬾, the Welsh name for Anglesey).
A second book was published in 2015.
Now the M鬾tage group has decided to be even more ambitious
and host this writing festival.
To find out more about the writing festival, visit
www.angleseywritingfestival.co.uk
For about the M鬾tage books see:
www.montagewritersanglesey.webeden.co.uk
www.writers-online.co.uk
25/07/2017 11:10
WRITERS? CIRCLES
W
GIVE US A CLUE
Exploit your writers? natural curiosity with an exercise from Julie Phillips
riters are a nosy lot. It
goes with the territory.
We need to observe and
look at the finer details
of life if we are to portray
our characters, scenery and situations in a fully
rounded way. This month it?s time for your
writing group to turn detective and follow their
noses where the leads will take them.
It?s not always easy, when we have finished
a piece of writing, to look at it objectively. We
are too close to it and this is where your writing
group steps in. The standard advice for anyone
trying to get their work published is to read
in the genre that you want to get published
in but how do you know if the work you are
producing is of a good enough standard to be
published? Comparing your work to work that
has already been published can be intimidating
and daunting but it?s a necessary exercise if you
want to be published.
It?s not always easy to see why a piece of
writing got published yet yours didn?t, or
doesn?t flow like a published piece, but if you
look closely enough the clues are all there, so
tell your writing group to put their detective
skills to good use and winkle out the truth
about your writing.
Ask group members to bring in a piece of
their work they are currently working on, or a
piece they have already submitted but has been
rejected. If it is a novel they should write a brief
synopsis and bring in a short sample chapter, or
a poem or a short story. Ask them also to bring
in another author?s published work that inspires
them or is in the same genre they wish to be
published in. The length of work permissible
that you can realistically hope to get through
will depend on how big your group is and
the time you have in the meeting to devote to
the task. You could split the group and have a
quarter or half of the group bringing work in
to one meeting and the others taking turns in
subsequent meetings.
It?s important that there are ground rules
and that no group member has the monopoly
on time. If you have to, use the alarm clock
facility on your mobile phone so there can be
no quibble over the allocated time slots.
Group members can then either work in pairs
or smaller sub-groups and read each other?s work
alongside the published authors?.
Interesting things to compare:
? Language and tone used
? Use of devices
? Subject matter
? Length of sentences and punctuation used
? Dialogue
? The structure of the piece
It?s beneficial if the writer of the piece can
explain to the reviewer what they think might
be the problems with the piece and what they
struggled with whilst writing it as well as what
they like about the piece and what they think
works well.
It?s important that group members don?t
compare their own work as a fresh pair of eyes
and viewpoint is needed in order to throw up any
points the author, because they are too close to it,
might have missed or not considered.
www.writers-online.co.uk
p054 - 055 Circles/Roundup.indd 55
Perhaps group members have had their work
rejected recently and don?t quite understand
why. This would be the ideal opportunity to let
other group members read the rejected work
and offer pointers on how the work could be
improved and what they could do to increase
their chances of success next time.
When giving feedback it?s good idea to make
a sandwich; start and end on a positive note
with a negative filling in the middle. It can be
painful to hear something negative about our
work and things can sometimes get heated, but
being gracious and listening to any criticism
without shutting it out and becoming defensive
is key. Take the criticism home with you and
take time to digest it before responding. Your
reviewer might just have a point or two ? no
shooting of the messenger.
Once group members have completed this
task, the group could reconvene and have a
general discussion about what the group found
helpful whilst undertaking the exercise and
compile a group check list for future reference.
This workshop can be run over a few
meetings if required and group members wish
to look at longer pieces of work. It might be
convenient to email members the piece of
work to be reviewed prior to the meeting, with
everyone?s permission, to allow a more detailed
analysis of the work ready for the next meeting.
Deerstalker hat and magnifying glass are
optional but it will be a case of elementary my
dear writing group when your group members
take on board the advice and find themselves
a step closer to publication.
SEPTEMBER 2017
55
25/07/2017 11:10
SKYROS
THE SKYROS WRITERS? LAB
Inspiration
Creativity
Joy
?Number 1 of the World?s
Five Best Writing Holidays?
Featuring:
Steve Attridge
Nick Barlay
Julia Bell
DJ Connell
Phil Gladwin
Alison Habens
Tiana Harper
Claire McGowan
Crysse Morrison
Logan Murray
Lisa O?Donnell
Mez Packer
Monique Roffey
THE GUARDIAN
SPECIAL OFFER FOR WRITING MAGAZINE READERS:
5% DISCOUNT ON ANY SKYROS HOLIDAY THIS SUMMER - ENTER CODE WM5%
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SEPTEMBER 2017
104
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E: HOLIDAYS@SKYROS.COM
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T: +44 (0)1983 865566
24/07/2017 10:48
0
5
2
�
!
N
WI
SUBSCRIBER-ONLY COMPETITIONS
N
O
I
T
A
C
I
L
B
U
P
IN CASH PRIZES &
FOOD SHORT STORY
COMPETITION
�25
TO BE
WON
Cook up a storm this month, as we ask you for
stories in any genre, in which food plays a central role.
Your entry should be 1,500-1,700 words
and the closing date is 15 October.
The winner will receive �0 and publication in
Writing Magazine, with � and publication on
www.writers-online.co.uk for the runner-up.
SEE P99
FOR ENTRY
DETAILS, FULL
RULES AND
ENTRY FORMS
STILL TIME TO ENTER
With its closing date of
15 September, there?s still
time to enter last month?s
competition, for a story
featuring a single character.
Prize and word limits
are as above.
See p99 for entry details..
p57 comp.indd 39
�5
TO BE
WON
Don?t forget
If you took out, or take, a new subscription
to Writing Magazine any time during 2017,
you?re eligible for our 2017 New Subscribers
Competitions. Unthemed, free to enter and
with our usual prizes and lengths ? 40 lines
for poetry, 1,500-1,700 words for short stories
? these are your chance to make a splash
with your very best writing of the year. There
is no entry fee, and the closing date for both
categories is 31 January 2018.
See p99 for entry details
25/07/2017 11:12
Competition winners
UNRELIABLE NARRATOR
TALK TO CAITLIN
by Michael Callaghan
Michael Callaghan is a lawyer living and working in
Glasgow. This is his second WM win, having previously
been successful in the Ghost Story competition, and
shortlistings in several others, including twice in the
Crime Story competition. Other successes include
first place爄n the Chorley & District Writers National
Competition in 2015 and being shortlisted in the most
recent HE Bates competition. He is working on other
short fiction and the draft of a novel.
I
know what everyone is saying.
What they?re thinking. But they?ve
got it all wrong. If you just knew
the truth you would understand.
Can I have some tea? Water
then? Okay, doesn?t matter. I?ll start at
the beginning. This started last February.
I had been mail man at Turnbull Frank
for 23 years. Still think of it as my new
job. Funny how fast time flies. The
job was fine. I kept myself to myself in
the mail room. Most of the folk there
don?t even notice me. I?m part of the
wallpaper. They moan if the mail is late
but that?s the only attention they give
me. Suits me. I like my own space ?
nothing worse than people yammering
at you. Sometimes the teams go for
lunch or for drinks after work. They
know better than to ask me. They know
I?d refuse. I hate having to go to those
things. I can do my own thing in the
mail room ? eat my Pot Noodle, play
games on the PC. Be myself.
Then Caitlin started working for us.
First morning, she came in, smiling
that smile of hers. ?Hi!? she says. ?Sorry to
trouble you ? is it okay if I use the copier
here? The one in our section is broken.?
58
SEPTEMBER 2017
p058 comp winner.indd 58
I was surprised she even bothered
asking. Everyone else just barges in and
uses the copier all the time. I watched
her as she did her copying. She had
long curly brown hair down to her
shoulders, and was wearing a pleated
skirt and charcoal wool jacket. She had
a sort of poise, an elegance, about her;
in the way she stood, even in the way
she absently brushed back her hair.
When she finished, she smiled at me
again as she left. I noticed faint freckles
around her nose and how her eyes
crinkled at the sides when she smiled.
And I felt it ? a connection. I know she
did too. And I was lost.
Do you remember that advert, years
back, that showed a paperboy delivering
newspapers to a street? It was a cartoon,
and the houses were all in black and
white. But as the boy delivers the papers
the cartoon turns to colour. That?s how
it was with Caitlin and me. Our worlds
were in black and white and when we
met they turned to colour.
A spark had been lit, that started a
slow burning fire inside me. I?ve not had
too many girlfriends, I admit. Plenty of
girls would have liked to, don?t get me
wrong. I?m too choosy maybe. And I?m
not one of those guys who just want to
use women. I like to think I?m a better
person than that. Got more respect.
Over the next few weeks, for the first
time, I found myself looking forward to
coming into work. Caitlin would start
at eight o?clock. That suited me ? gives
you a good start on the day ? so I came
in then too. We would sit sat in the
canteen, drinking coffee and chatting.
She told me all about herself. She was
six months out of university, this was
her first proper job and she was ?super
excited? about it. I was able to open
up to her like I had never been able
to before. And I would walk her back
to her desk, still chatting. Sometimes
it would be after nine and we hadn?t
noticed. We were just so caught up in
our own world.
We couldn?t say much expressly.
Neither of us wanted the hassle of
everyone knowing how close we were
getting. But the connection between us
grew stronger. I brought her little presents
? a necklace with a half-moon on it. She
was so happy when I gave it to her. She
said it was beautiful! We started hanging
www.writers-online.co.uk
25/07/2017 11:21
S H O R T S TO RY C O M P E T I T I O N W I N N E R
about at lunch time, and after work I
would walk her to the underground.
So everything was going great. Really
great. But I should have known that life
just isn?t that kind.
Last week Colin Rutherford emailed
me and told me to come into his office.
I sensed something was up. Rutherford?s
only thirty or something but he?s
manager and always acted like he knew
everything. Everyone seemed to love
him and sucked up to him. I didn?t ?
can?t be bothered with that game. Maybe
that?s why he didn?t like me.
He smiled his smarmy I?m much
smarter than you smile when I went in
? the smile you would give if you were
talking to a toddler.
?Hi Harry, take a seat,? he said gesturing
in front of him.
?I?m okay standing,? I said.
?Yeah, but I said take a seat so take a
seat,? he said, putting on his Big Boss
voice.
For a quiet life I sat down.
?Things okay with you Harry??
?Yes,? I said, playing it straight.
?Great. Well, here?s the thing. I?ve had
some concerns expressed to me.?
I felt my neck prickle.
?Concerns??
?Yes, about how you?ve been to
Caitlin.?
I almost laughed! I was relieved really.
If there was one thing I didn?t have to
worry about it was Caitlin.
?No, Caitlin and I are friends,? I said.
I didn?t want him to know that we were
more than that. I didn?t want to betray
the understanding I had with Caitlin.
?Friends?? He looked? amused. ?She?s
22 and you?re what ? fifty??
?46,? I said. Thinking: what?s age go to
do with anything?
?Okay. Well that?s fine being friends.
But I?ve heard that you?ve been waiting
for her in the mornings. Following her
around at lunchtime. Sitting with her
at her desk when she?s trying to work. I
heard you?ve followed her after work??
I turned cold. Then furious. That
anyone could try and turn what
Caitlin and I had into something
sordid and nasty.
?That?s not true.?
?No?? He smiled his patronising smile
again ?Well okay. You?re being friendly ?
maybe overstepped. No harm, no foul.
Just, maybe, back off, okay??
I nodded. I couldn?t speak. But after
I left his office I realised the problem.
People were jealous of what Caitlin and
I had. It?s a sad thing about people, but
true. Misery loves company my grandma
used to say. I decided I would discuss
everything with Caitlin next time she was
in the mail room.
But Caitlin didn?t come in for the mail
that afternoon. Malcolm McColl arrived
with his ?Hoi Tumshy, give us the mail.?
Normally it annoys me when McColl
calls me Tumshy. I?m not even fat. But
this time I hardly noticed.
?Where?s Caitlin?? I couldn?t stop
myself
His eyes narrowed. ?I got told to get
the mail Tumshy. Don?t ask questions,
just hand over, good doggy.?
I was more anxious now. I arrived at
eight the next morning, anxious to speak
to her. But Caitlin wasn?t in the kitchen. I
watched out. At five to nine, she arrived
but she went straight to her desk.
I watched her, willing her to turn
To read the
round and see me, smile at me, make
judge?s
comments
everything okay. But she didn?t.
go
http://writ. to:
At lunch time I took an early
rs
wmsep17 /
lunch and headed to Hannah?s, the
nearby overpriced caf�. Caitlin often
goes there. I got myself a table near
the window and pretended to read the
Metro while waiting for her. And I saw
her come in. I looked up, smiling, and
she looked straight at me. Then she
turned and walked straight out again.
I try to convince myself that that?s
not what happened. But it did. She saw
me, and walked out.
And I thought ? why would she do
that? After everything we?d had, we?d
shared? But back in the office I saw what
the problem was. I played it too cool. I
should have told her straight out how
much she meant to me. She wanted the
grand gesture. And I didn?t give it.
And now she was teaching me a
lesson. Playing mind games.
So I had to work out how to respond.
EXPERT
analysis
I went into the staff profiles on the
intranet. These are password protected
but the mail guy knows all those. I found
her address no problem. Decided to give
her the grand gesture.
I buy the flowers at Tesco ? nice ones,
the ones that cost fifteen pounds ? and
the Green & Black chocolates. Then I
get the underground along to the west
end where Caitlin stays. My cold empty
feeling is gone. I?m excited now. Taking
action. Feeling alive.
I find her street, counting down the
numbers until I get to hers. And I see it her flat. It?s on the ground floor and I?m
so buzzed that I?m just feet away from her
and I imagine the look on her face when
she sees me.
And then I look through the window.
And I see them.
Rutherford? with his smarmy
hands all over her.
Their faces pressed together.
And now I realise what?s been
happening. It was him all along.
Rutherford saw the two of us and was
jealous. Decided to get her for himself.
Poisoned her against me. And because
he?s the boss she listens to him. In fact,
maybe she feels she has to. Because I
know that the Caitlin I know would
never betray me like this.
I push open the door and walk
straight in, through her hallway, into
that room. I see the looks of shock on
their faces when they turn round. Like
I?m at fault ? even though it?s me that?s
been betrayed, me that?s been wronged.
I don?t remember too much
about what happened next. But I
defended myself. He came at me and
I remember putting my arms over his
face and squeezing, squeezing until
his face went blue and he went limp.
Then I?m listening to her screaming,
screaming and those sirens getting
louder and louder.
Then you arrived.
I?ve told you what I know. But now
you have to speak to Caitlin. She?ll tell
you the truth ? what we had, how he
manipulated her, how he forced her.
You just have to talk to her.
You just have to talk to Caitlin.
Runner-up in the Unreliable Narrator Competition, whose story is published on www.writers-online.co.uk, was Ben Howels,
Pennsylvania, Devon. Also shortlisted were: Claire Buckle, Hornchurch, Essex; Ellen Evers, Congleton; Kathryn Goddard, Spalding,
Lincolnshire; Jonathan Herbert, Leyburn, North Yorkshire; Andrew Hutchcraft, Peterborough, Cambridgeshire; Pauline Massey,
Oxford; Jennifer Moore, Ivybridge, Devon; Pamela Scott, Glasgow.
www.writers-online.co.uk
p058 comp winner.indd 59
SEPTEMBER 2017
59
25/07/2017 11:21
P O E T RY A D J U D I CAT I O N
SONNETS FROM THE GREEK
A sonnet referencing ancient myth is explored by Alison Chisholm
O
ne of the joys of
writing poetry is the
vast array of forms from
which to choose the
perfect vehicle for the
message we want to communicate.
If none of the hundreds of set forms
available is suitable, we can always
create a new one.
With so much choice, it might
seem strange that poets gravitate,
time and again, to a few favourite
patterns; but these become the
favourites because they work so
well. As Chris Huck puts it: ?I try to
write sonnets because the sonnet is
a lovely form.? It is indeed, and his
sonnet Now Poetry demonstrates this.
NOW POETRY
Now Poetry, you many-handed maid,
in what nook do you hide your lovely face?
I?d chase you through the gardens of the world
if I could find your secret hiding place.
I think the leas of Helicon are where
among sparse ruins of your temple site
I?d find the hint of you in scented air
still lingering in our literary night.
Then, if I wet my lips at Hippocrene,
perhaps you?d deign to speak a word to me
and breathe into my being that serene
intensity of knowing that I need,
like Hesiod I?d tend my lowing herds
and form into a well of flowing words.
60
SEPTEMBER 2017
p060 poetry workshop.indd 60
Of the form, the poet goes on to
say: ?The sonnet is a very durable
form, and justifiably so as it is
an excellent framework for poetic
expression.? There?s something
about the length that fits so many
themes. The fourteen lines give the
writer an opportunity to explore a
thought in a little detail, but not
enough time to expand at tangents
or wallow. Sonnets have the brevity
to demand strict control over the
wording and a carefully thoughtout balance of material, so they
represent a fascinating challenge.
Elizabethan sonnets offer the poet
a choice of presentation. While they
are often shown as a single block
of text, sometimes with the final
couplet indented, there is also the
option to present them as three
quatrains and a couplet, separated
by white space. This division into
stanzas gives a different dynamic
to the poem, and generates a more
languorous feel. The choice of
presentation should be guided by
the content of the poem. Does the
idea split naturally into stanzas?
In this case the answer is yes, and
the layout produces a more readerfriendly appearance on the page.
This poem looks at the theme
of poetry itself from a standpoint
of ancient Greek writing and
traditions, and incorporates
references that may not be too
familiar to all readers; but the piece
is written with a logical route and
clarity of expression that make the
overall meaning plain to everyone.
Chris Huck points out that his
sonnet ?has references to things
that interest me in poetry, like
inspiration and the history of the
sort of verse we write today.?
The sonnet is a direct address
to poetry, personified as a manyhanded maid, and expresses a
longing for her gift. The longing is
tied in with the Grecian imagery,
so we see the leas of Helicon, sparse
ruins of your temple site, and the
spring of inspiration, Hippocrene.
The poet explains his ?take? on this.
?Here I have blended the Muses
into Poetry itself. Hesiod, a very
early Greek poet, described meeting
the Muses while he tended his herd
on Mount Helicon. He inhaled
(in-spired) poetry and knowledge
which the Muses blew into his
nostrils. This sonnet concerns me,
2,700 years later, wishing and
seeking for a similar experience
so that I might call myself, and I
might be, a poet. Hippocrene is the
well of the Muses, near the summit
of Mount Helicon.?
The powerful references to the
past are buttressed by a classical
quality to the wording. The maid
and nook of the opening lines have
a dated ?feel? that is not normally
welcomed in today?s poetry, but
is entirely in keeping with the
historical aura of this particular
piece. The poet demonstrates here
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25/07/2017 11:24
P O E T RY WO R K S H O P
the value of making the writing
voice fit the poem?s subject. In
fact, that opening line was the first
inkling that came to Chris Huck.
He says ?I began with the first line
which just appeared in my mind?
and comments that the classical
inspiration it suggested ?gave me the
subject and guided the flow of the
idea as the lines appeared.?
The comment that the poem
began with the first line is not,
of course, as obvious as it may
appear. Poems so often start with
the germ of an idea that ends up
buried deeply within the writing,
or may not even appear at all in
the finished piece. When that first
spark is the opening line, it?s a
bonus, and reveals the route that
will guide the rest of the poem, in
this case with a different thrust of
information in each of the quatrains
and a neat summing-up at the end.
Whenever a set form is used, part
of the pleasure of the poem is in
the way its rules have been applied.
Sonnets require iambic pentameters
If you would like
your poem to be
considered for
Poetry Workshop,
send it by email
to: jtelfer@
writersnews.co.uk
to be used throughout, with their
easy flow of the five feet each
consisting of an unstressed then
a stressed syllable. In Now Poetry
the metre is used with accuracy
and subtlety. It underlies the text
without drawing attention to itself,
and helps to urge the poem forward.
The rhyme scheme is another
essential component of the piece,
and in the Elizabethan sonnet every
line rhymes with just one other. Each
of the quatrains has two rhymes,
one in its first and third lines, and
the other, more dominant rhyme, in
its second and fourth. Chris Huck
has used full rhyme, as required by
the form, in most instances, but
has also included two slant rhymes.
With a slant rhyme, the closer the
sounds are to full rhyme, the more
convincing they are. The closeness
of me and need in lines 10 and 12 is
near enough to work as compellingly
as full rhyme. The slightly greater
variant of maid and world, with its
consonance, has been placed ? wisely
? in the first and third lines of the
opening stanza, as the less dominant
rhyme sound. That, too, works for
the reader.
One of the most effective devices
for enhancing the communication of
a poem is the inclusion of imagery.
Anything that evokes sensory reaction
helps to bring the poem to life.
In this brief poem we find plenty
of visual images in the first two
quatrains, and sound images in the
hinting at speech in the third and
lowing herds in the couplet. There are
also images of smell implied in the
gardens of the world and stated in the
hint of you in scented air. Both taste
and touch are evoked in if I wet my
lips at Hippocrene.
The Greek mythology of poetry
permeates the sonnet; so the
invocation to the Muse is perfectly
set in context.
Now Poetry is daring in the
way it stands apart from current
poetic trends, beautifully wrought,
richly referenced and worded with
precision. This is a poem to read,
relish and return to.
Poetry in practice
How do you create rhythm and lyricism in free verse? Doris Corti explains
A question often raised at poetry
workshops and other events is whether
free verse can be lyrical. If there are no
regular rhymes used in this form and
therefore no defining rhythms, how can
any music be created in lines?
There is no denying that when read
aloud music can still be heard in a great
deal of free verse.
Certain words and vowels are repeated
and there are often alliteration and lines
containing monosyllabic words. These
create rhythms that differ from those
used in rhyme endings and the strict
use of units of measure. Rhythmical,
flowing movement is often created by the
device known as anaphora, which is the
repetition of words and phrases,as in the
example: ?Here is the quarter moon / Here
are the clouds / Here is the Northern star.?
While full rhyme is not used in free
verse poetry, slant rhyme is a major
technique used in this form. A general
idea to follow is if any sound in one
word matches any sound in another, slant
rhyme is in evidence. Slant rhymes, as
when using full rhymes, can be used on
line endings. They can also be scattered
throughout the lines to create a pleasing
and lyrical effect.
The use of repetitive phrases can bring
the similarity of rhyme to a poem. Vowel
sounds scattered skilfully can develop
something lyrical within lines.
Consider the following short lines.
I will walk
lightly
over small stones.
Thin vowel sounds have been used, as
in the words ?will? and ?lightly?. If similar
?thin? vowel sounds are placed throughout
a poem combined with harder sounds
like the letter ?k? and ?t? a slight rhythmic
effect is achieved.
Another method of introducing a
www.writers-online.co.uk
p060 poetry workshop.indd 61
lyrical touch to a free verse poem is to use
unaccented rhyme with final unstressed
syllables rhyming, although previous
syllables that bear the stress do not, as in
?arriving? and ?contriving?.
Other sounds within lines can
produce a small rhythmic effect and
alliteration is another way such rhythm
can be introduced. This is where the
same consonant sound is used to begin
consecutive or nearby words as in ?break?
and ?babble?. A poet needs to have a
sensitivity to such sound similarities
and as you write using the techniques
described this sensitivity will develop.
Exercises
1 Write a poem in 14 lines on the subject
of ?visiting a park?. Do not use any rhymes
other than slant rhymes.
2 Write another poem using assonance where
vowels sounds match but consonants do not.
SEPTEMBER 2017
61
25/07/2017 11:24
P O E T RY P R I M E R
Perfect your
poetry with
a WM Creative
Writing course.
See http://writ.rs/
cwcourses
Poetry from A
to
Z
Poet Alison Chisholm guides you through the language of poetry
PATHETIC FALLACY is a term
first used by Ruskin to ascribe
human emotions and feelings to
things in nature or inanimate
objects, such as a stubborn lock, a
cheerful brook, or an angry storm.
PATHOS is the quality in a work
of literature ? or music, rhetoric or
art ? that appeals to the emotions
of the reader/audience.
PATTERN POETRY is a blanket
term for the different styles of poem
that rely on physical appearance
on the page to supplement the
message in the words. The works of
American poet May Swenson include
excellent examples of the technique.
PEASANT POETRY, often dealing
with rustic subjects, was written
by poorer poets, such as the farm
labourer and gardener John Clare.
A line of PENTAMETER has five
metrical feet. It is usually qualified
by an adjective describing the
nature of the foot, such as iambic
pentameter meaning five iambi in
the line, or dactyllic pentameter
where there are five dactyls.
It could be argued that every
public reading is an example of
PERFORMANCE POETRY, but
the term has come to mean an
exaggerated reading or recital, with
highly dramatic voice work, and
sometimes gesture and movement.
Often a form of delivery for
humorous subject matter, it was
popularised in the UK in the 1960s,
particularly by the Liverpool poets.
PERIPHRASIS comes from the
Greek for ?talking around?, and
indicates the use of an indirect,
62
SEPTEMBER 2017
p062 Poetry know-how/alphabet.indd 62
wordy or overblown phrase instead
of a simpler alternative, such
as Let?s indulge in an open air
perambulation instead of Let?s go out
for a walk.
A PERSONA POEM is another
name for a dramatic monologue,
a first person poem ? in any form
and of any length ? that examines a
familiar scenario from an unexpected
angle, taking the viewpoint of one
of the participants or onlookers, an
animal, plant or object.
Art, life and literature are all
suitable areas to explore in persona
poems. The identity of the narrator
should be obvious to the reader,
but the insights revealed can
shed new light on the situation.
Imagine the Christmas story from
the Bible narrated by the donkey,
an assessment of his wife by Mr
Bennet from Jane Austen?s Pride
and Prejudice, a daffodil?s-eye-view
of a Lake poet trampling its leaves,
or the account of the shipwreck in
Shakespeare?s The Tempest told by
the ship?s mast. Any of these would
work as a persona poem.
EXERCISE: Select a historical event
and describe what happened in
a persona poem, using a mixture
of research and imagination. For
example, you could describe the
Great Fire of London from the
viewpoint of a mouse in a sack of
grain in the baker?s, or the signing
of the Magna Carta by the boy sent
to fetch the ink, or the Boston tea
party by a teacup.
PERSONIFICATION is the device
of seeing concepts or inanimate
objects as human beings. It has
a wider definition than pathetic
fallacy, as it is not just connected
with emotions and feelings. It?s the
figure of speech that allows a ship
or a car to be referred to as she, or
produces the old song The sun has
got his hat on, or allows Macbeth
to refer to the hallucination of the
dagger saying I have thee not and yet
I see thee still.
EXERCISE: Write a short poem in
any form about a machine, giving it
human characteristics. Try making
the tone of the poem observational,
humorous or menacing.
PHANOPOEIA is one of Ezra
Pound?s three terms for working
extra meaning into language. It
indicates casting something onto
visual imagination, and Pound
refers to this as ?imagism?.
PLEONASM is the use of unnecessary
words, as in the description a huge
great big giant, when the single
word giant implies the rest. With
poetry relying on compression of the
language rather than expansion of
it, pleonasm is seldom useful except,
perhaps, for comic effect.
It may seem strange to be defining
a POEM, but there are probably as
many shades of definition as there
are people reading and writing
poems. Basically, a poem is a piece
of literature, complete in itself,
that is written in a pattern of lines
and/or stanzas. It uses language
figuratively and dynamically, and
may be constructed in rhyme and/
or metre, as free verse with slant
rhyme, or with a specific word
or syllable count. It usually has
a message, slight or massive, to
communicate with its reader; and
according to Robert Frost, It begins
in delight and ends in wisdom.
www.writers-online.co.uk
25/07/2017 11:25
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p063_wmseptember17.indd 63
MAY 2017
63
24/07/2017 10:49
How do they do it?
Improve your chances in our new Picture Book Prize with a look at what makes a successful
picture book from author Amy Sparkes
?I
f you want to write,
first you need to read.?
You?ve probably heard
this advice a lot ? it?s the
best advice you can get.
When you read, you observe, you absorb
and you learn. This month is the start of
a two-part series, looking at published
books by successful children?s authors
and working out why the stories work
and how you can use that information
to develop your own writing. In part one
we?re going to look at picture books.
are currently popular with publishers.
Picture books can have a short shelf-life
in bookshops, allowing room for new
stock, so check publication dates and
note older books which are still stocked
? these have stood the test of time. Read
picture book reviews by professionals and
readers (eg on Amazon) ? what do they
particularly enjoy or appreciate?
Picture books
Character
Aimed at 0-6 year olds, these are usually
under 1,000 words. Although some
authors illustrate their books, most are
assigned an illustrator by the publisher.
In Tracey Corderoy?s Spells-A-Popping
Granny?s Shopping, illustrated by Joe
Berger, the narrator is a little girl, with a
lovable witch for a granny. The opening
lines, ?My granny?s rather? different?,
is accompanied by a picture of granny
with a pointy black hat, beetle-buttoned
coat and cauldron-shaped handbag
containing frogs. Straight away, this
spread explains the granny character?s
USP (unique selling point). The
Research
Visit your local library and browse
through picture books. Search
publisher catalogues online and visit
bookshops for new releases ? this will
demonstrate the kind of books which
Analysis
Here?s a brief example from each category,
taken from a variety of picture books.
relationship between the granny and
the child is interesting. Sometimes
the child helps Granny out, such as
when Granny?s magic becomes a bit
unruly at the supermarket:
?Oh, Granny, what a mess!?
I cried.
She?d gone too far again.
I shook my head and Granny
blushed,
?I?ll clean it up.? But then?
But at other times, Granny
helps out the child, by thwarting a
pair of shoplifting robbers.
Plot
Spaghetti with the Yeti by
Adam and Charlotte Guillain,
illustrated by Lee Wildish, has a
clear story arc. George is a little
boy whose quest is described in
the opening lines:
?A boy called George had an
excellent plan
To go and discover the Yeti.
He put in his backpack a
Picture book analysis
Try thoroughly analysing each book using a checklist.
Note the title, author, illustrator, publisher and publication date.
Character: Who or what is the main character? Why does this character work perfectly in this story instead of a
different type of character? How is this character distinctive? Who are the supporting characters? Why do these characters
work perfectly instead of other character types? (eg a monster instead of a human child). What?s the relationship between
the main and supporting characters? Do any characters grow or change by the end?
Plot: Is there a clear story arc? A problem which needs solving? On which spread (double-page) is the problem
introduced? On which spread is the problem solved? Does the book explore a topic? If so, how is it done in an
interesting way?
How does the book end? Does it affect you emotionally? Make you laugh? Is there a twist? How does this work? Does
the illustration help communicate this? Does the story feel successfully wrapped up? If you were asked ?read it again!?
straight away, would you want to? Why? Could the story have a sequel or another in the series?
Themes: What are the themes (eg friendship, sharing, standing up for yourself, etc)? Which key phrases in the story
express these themes? How does the relationship between the characters help explore these themes?
Language: What is the word count? Is the language poetic? Playful? Is there onomatopoeia? Are there ?nonsense?
words? How does the rhythm of the story work? Is there repetition?
Voice: Does the author?s voice come through? Do you think you would recognise another story by this author? If it?s a
funny book, how does the humour come through? If it?s a dreamy or gentle book, which phrases communicate the tone?
Is there any ?message? the child or adult reader takes away from the book?
Rhyming: Does it rhyme? Does it scan when you read it or are there places you trip up?
Pace: Do you want to turn the page to find out the next part of the story? How has the author achieved this? What
hooks are there in the story? Over how many spreads is the story wrapped up at the end? How is text split across the
spreads? Does that help with pacing?
64
SEPTEMBER 2017
p064 children.indd 64
www.writers-online.co.uk
25/07/2017 13:06
WRITING FOR CHILDREN
warm woolly hat,
A map and a tin of spaghetti.?
It?s a ?power of three? story, where
George meets three other characters along
the way (monsters called Betty, Hetty and
Netty) before finally finding the real yeti.
Ending
Daddy?s Sandwich by Pip Jones and
illustrated by Laura Hughes is a funny
story about a little girl making a special
sandwich for Daddy, containing his
favourite things. It starts off sensibly with
cheese and tomato, progressing to things
like Daddy?s banjo and deckchair, until
the final funny twist:
?I know! More than anything,
Daddy loves? ME!
?DADDY! Your sandwich is ready!? ?
The final illustration shows the
narrator sitting on top of the crazy
sandwich fillings, with a slice of bread
on her head. This also exemplifies how
pictures can do the talking.
Themes
Dogs Don?t Do Ballet by Anna Kemp
and Sara Ogilvie is about following
your dreams despite what the world
says. Here, it?s about Biff the dog who
wants to do ballet. As the owner/
little girl narrator tells us: My dog
thinks he?s a ballerina? I just know
he is dreaming of his name in lights,
but the other characters insist, Dogs
don?t do ballet. When Biff saves a
ballet show by dancing on stage, the
characters acknowledge that ?Biff IS a
ballerina after all!? In the closing lines,
the narrator says, ?See,? I say proudly?
?dogs DO do ballet.? The inclusion of
the word ?proudly? is very important
? one word which highlights the little
girls? feelings towards the dog and his
determination to be true to himself.
Language
Matty Long?s Super Happy Magic
Forest is a cross between a picture book
and a comic book. It?s also a brilliant
example of effective language. The
story works on different levels, which
appeals to a wide range of ages
(including grown-up Tolkien
fans!). The story uses traditional,
going-on-an-epic-quest language
to narrate the story, with around
15-25 words on each spread:
At last our heroes arrived at the
very doorstep of evil: Goblin Tower.
The fate of the Super Happy Magic
Forest was in their hands? and
hooves. (Spread 8).
Then there are various speech
bubbles through the book, spoken by
the characters. These snippets use
informal and humorous language
to contrast with the narration. For
example, underneath the words above
on spread 8, there is an illustration of
a map-bearing faun and the speech
bubble: Here we are: Number 13 Doom
Mountain Lane. Is everybody ready?
Voice
Tell Me A Dragon by Jackie Morris is a
beautiful book. Wistful and poetic, the
author?s voice comes through clearly
with lines like: My dragon is made
from the sun and the stars. Sparkled
with stardust, all night he follows the silver
moon-path across the sky. And, My dragon
eats sweet, perfumed flowers. When she
laughs, petals ride on her breath. This
soft, lyrical book is a joy to read aloud.
It introduces the reader to beautiful,
effective language which, along with
Morris? soft, realistic illustrations,
creates the dreamy mood of the book.
Rhyming
The Snatchabook by Helen and
Thomas Docherty scans beautifully.
Study the effortless rhythm of this story.
Rhyme helps engage readers as they
expect and predict the rhythm. It can
also make dramatic pauses effective
? ideal when you want to draw the
reader?s attention to something, as on
the opening spread:
One dark, dark night in
Burrow Down,
A rabbit called Eliza Brown
Found a book and settled down?
When a Snatchabook flew
into town.
Pace
Picture books tend to have
fourteen spreads (although this
particular book has some extra
fold out pages inside). Ideally,
you should present your ?problem?
for the story by spread three, but
earlier is fine. Sir Charlie Stinky
Socks and the Really Dreadful Spell
by Kristina Stephenson presents
on spread one:
It was the day after a little
Princess?s party and everyone was
happy there, when, suddenly ?
without any warning ? someone?
cast a spell!
Later, on the same spread, the
stakes are raised:
Now? only a power mightier
than magic could break this
dreadful spell (if such a power
could reach the tower before the
sands of time ran out!)
Our hero is up against two
enemies: the person who cast
the dreadful spell and the sands
of time. This works as a great
hook. Will Sir Charlie Stinky
Socks save the day?
The author creates a pageturning plot as we follow the
quest, often heightened by
ellipses (?) at the end of a page:
The knight ignored the worrying
signs and the anxious wiggly
woos and followed the lead of the
mysterious stranger who guided
them thoughtfully through that
burbling bog and the murky mist
to the middle of?
After using the picture book
analysis questions on other people?s
books, try using it on your own
stories. Are there any areas which
could be more effective?
Next month we look at older
fiction, studying texts and working
out, ?How do they do it??
Enter our new Picture Book Prize
For your chance to win an exclusive consultation with top children?s
fiction agent Julia Churchill or a critique from Amy Sparkes, please
submit: a finished picture book text (without illustrations) of up to
800 words, by the closing date of 29 September, 2017.
Enter online at http://writ.rs/picturebookprize or by post to
Picture Book Prize, Writing Magazine, Fifth Floor, 31-32 Park
Row, Leeds LS1 5JD.
See http://writ.rs/picturebookprize for full terms and conditions.
www.writers-online.co.uk
p064 children.indd 65
SEPTEMBER 2017
65
25/07/2017 13:07
CRIME FILE
Crime bestseller Linwood Barclay discusses his writing process
and latest novel Parting Shot with Chris High
L
ike all authors,
bestselling,
internationally acclaimed
and award winning
author Linwood Barclay
had to start writing somewhere.
Although he got his ?career break?
when he began work with the small
Ontario daily The Peterborough
Examiner, the will to write had
been evident from an early age,
with the encouragement to continue
being more or less self-driven. ?I
was a child of the 1960s, and loved
TV, particularly shows like The
Man from UNCLE and Mission:
Impossible,? the Connecticut-born
writer explains.
?An episode a week was not
enough for me. I needed more
stories about those characters, so I
started writing them on my own.
By the time I was twelve, I was
writing novellas of thirty to forty
typed pages ? my father taught me
how to type when I was ten. Later,
however, I had at least one teacher
who encouraged me, and I was
lucky to have two established writers
? Canada?s Margaret Laurence
and famed crime novelist Ross
Macdonald ? take an interest in
me. I started writing stories around
age ten and I can?t say that anyone
encouraged me, at least not at that
age, and my greatest motivator back
then was television.?
Linwood?s latest novel, Parting Shot
(Orion) sees the author return to the
fictional town of Promise Falls, the
setting for his successful trilogy of
novels that concluded last year with
The Twenty Three. Returning to the
town and private investigator Cal
Weaver, however, proved surprisingly
easy. ?I already knew, going in, my
characters and the town and what they
had all been through in the previous
books, so that made this book easier to
get into than some others. I think that?s
often true with a series. The people and
the setting are established. All you need
is a terrific story to put them into, and
that can be the challenge.?
66
SEPTEMBER 2017
LISTEN
TAP HERE
to listen to an
extract from
The Twenty
Three
TAP HERE
to buy the
book from
Audible
Trial by social media is very much
a theme of Parting Shot, with one
particular case that instigated the
writing of the intense novel.
?The novel was inspired, in part,
by the ?affluenza? case in the US,
about the young man whose crime
was largely excused because he?d
led such a pampered life, he didn?t
understand the consequences of his
actions. I coupled that with the kind
of shaming that goes on across the
internet, where the entire world can
pile on to an individual who?s done
something objectionable. Keeping
the tension at a high level comes
??
I started writing stories
around age ten and I
can?t say that anyone
encouraged me, and
my greatest motivator
was television.
www.writers-online.co.uk
from my not getting bored while I?m
writing it. That means always tossing
in surprises, raising the stakes,
ending a chapter in a way that one
would not expect. I?ll be writing and
think, what?s the most logical way
to end this chapter and is there a
way for that not to happen? When
I am in the thick of writing a book,
I am often thinking about it even
when I am not at my desk. I find
myself popping into the study to
write down half a sentence that will
jog my memory when I sit down to
work the following day.?
Landscapes of all scales play an
important part in Linwood?s novels,
but particularly in Parting Shot, where
the settings almost become additional
characters. The novel?s protagonists,
Barry Duckworth and Cal Weaver,
are on the right side of the law but
crafted from very different moulds.
Both are characters you would think
the author knows well. ?Even if the
places are not real ? there is no place
called Promise Falls ? I picture real
locations when I write about them.
And Parting Shot also features Cape
Cod, where we rented a place three
years ago. I didn?t have to imagine
anything there. As to Duckworth
and Weaver, the assumption that I know them well suggests
I have some kind of conscious process to create them and
their make-up. When I write about these two characters, I
suppose I have some innate sense of who they are and simply
let that come out in what they say and do. I have, of course,
created back stories for them, and internalise what those are
so that how they conduct themselves ends up on the page in
a very natural way. I don?t feel that explains it very well, but
it?s a bit like when people ask where the ideas come from.
I don?t often know how to answer that either. Sometimes,
they?re just there.?
Once Linwood has finished his initial draft of a novel,
who gets to read what he?s written first? ?My literary agent
is usually the first one to read my initial draft when I?ve
finished it. Sometimes I will send my agent and editor the
first third of a novel to see if they think I am on the right
track. If the novel is running off the rails, best to know
early. When I wrote my two thrillers for young readers ?
the first comes out this summer ? I gave them first to my
wife, a former teacher, to read.?
Writing for young readers has thrown up one particular
challenge. ?Holding back on the profanity! I approached
the writing of this book just as I would a novel for adult
readers: keep it moving, keep the reader engaged, make
it fun. Holding back on the profanity though proved the
biggest challenge.?
Linwood?s bestselling 2011 novel Never Saw It Coming
is currently being filmed and he is heavily involved in the
process. ?I wrote the screenplay, which was tremendous fun.
The director, Gail Harvey, is a friend, and any time there
was a problem with the script, she asked for my input. It
was a wonderful process. Fingers crossed the public likes it
when it comes out in the autumn.?
Busy times then but, as always, what?s next? ?Chase,
my novel for young readers is out in the summer and its
sequel, which is due out in a year, is written. The same is
true of next year?s adult thriller, a non-Promise Falls book
that does not yet have a title. And, in the UK, my first
four novels, featuring a character named Zack Walker, are
finally coming out between September and November.
These books were first published in North America
between 2004 and 2007, but have never seen a UK release.
They?re thrillers, but they are lighter in tone than the
books UK readers know me for. I love these books ? the
first one is Bad Move ? and have my fingers crossed UK
readers will, too.?
Website: www.linwoodbarclay.com
p066 Crimefile.indd 67
BEHIND THE TAPE
Expert advice to get
the details right in
your crime novel,
from serving police
officer Lisa Cutts
W
hen writing about the police in novels, particularly in
police procedurals, getting the exact details correct can
be difficult. Even writers who have gone to the trouble of
visiting their local police station to carry out research might not get
all the answers they want. If you have a query on crime, the police, or
procedure, email: jtelfer@writersnews.co.uk
Arrival at a crime scene
The preservation of life is always the number one priority. If saving
a life or administering first aid gets in the way of securing forensic
evidence, then so be it. A useful acronym for police officers, and of
course, crime writers, is VOWS. This stands for Victim, Offender(s),
Witnesses, Scene.
Don?t forget that when your fictional officers arrive at the crime
scene, first of all, they need to take care of the victims. Then locate and
arrest those responsible, check on the welfare of witnesses and find out
what they saw and heard, and finally, not trample all over the evidence.
Sometimes the last part causes practical issues, but can be useful if
your plot requires the removal of fingerprints or the destruction of
DNA. The addition of frantic medical assistance takes care of forensics
that might have taken the detectives straight to the discovery of the
murderer. It has the advantage of being as flexible as you need it to be.
Interviews
When a person is arrested for murder, the interview process is usually
a very long and slow one. Under the right circumstances, the police
can detain someone for a number of days, so again, if it fits your plot,
one or more of your characters can be detained and out of the way
for some time. Similarly, if it keeps the pace moving to have your
characters at liberty once more, the police must release them if there
are no further grounds to keep them.
Interviews for a person under arrest are conducted in an interview
room with DVDs recording everything that goes on.
Depending on the age and mental health of your fictional murder
suspect, a number of people would be in the interview room. Apart
from the suspect, two police officers would be needed to carry out the
interview, a solicitor or legal representative and possibly an appropriate
adult to facilitate the suspect?s understanding of the questions.
If the interviews are conducted incorrectly, whatever the suspect says,
even if it?s a full confession, they won?t be admissible in court. No one
will ever get to know the content of them.
Please never include a uniformed police officer who stands at the
back of the interview room and does nothing. It?s something I?ve
seen on television numerous times and have no idea where this has
originated from.
25/07/2017 11:46
THE
BLOODY
LANDS
How much should fantasy fiction show?
Alex Davis checks his armoury
I
NTRODUCTION ?
WELCOME TO THE
BATTLEFIELD
While there are many key facets
and tropes that distinguish fantasy
fiction from other genres ? and there?s
plenty of debate to be had on what
exactly that list is ? one of the things
that tends to feature in some capacity is
a battle or combat element. That could
be large-scale conflicts with hundreds or
thousands of opponents taking to the
field for either side, or lighter, smallerscale skirmishes between individuals or
tight-knit groups. And one thing fantasy
writers often debate is how much these
combative aspects should be truly
attempting to capture the doubtless
horrible realities of hand-to-hand or
weapon-based conflict, and how much
is it simply about action and pace? As
an author, should you be looking to
let the blood flow freely, or focus your
efforts in conveying the physical action
of the battle in other ways?
QUESTION 1:
HOW SQUEAMISH ARE YOU?
It?s important to remember that, when
you break it right down, you have to
write something that you ultimately
feel happy and comfortable with. The
same goes for stories in any genre that
could feature elements that are more
unpleasant ? probably most relevant
for horror, crime and thrillers, but also
potentially elsewhere.
With that in mind, if the thought
of any element of gore or the idea of
giving a true flavour of the bloodshed
of the battlefield sits badly with you,
then just don?t do it! The fact is if
68
SEPTEMBER 2017
p068 Fantastic Realm.indd 68
you are particularly uneasy with that
aspect, you?re not likely to do a great or
persuasive job of writing it anyway. Any
author has to have their heart in what
they are putting on the page and give
it full commitment, otherwise how can
any reader truly invest in it?
Besides, it?s certainly not mandatory
? many very fine fantasy books have
been delivered without it, after all. The
initial question really has to be ? am I
comfortable with exploring that area?
And if the answer is no, that gives you
your answer.
QUESTION 2:
DOES THE STORY NEED IT?
As someone who does have a strong
connection with the world of extreme
horror, one of the questions I find
myself grappling with a great deal is
that of gratuity. There?s often a lot that
gets shown in those books and movies
? sometimes for the better, sometimes
for the worse. As a writer, it?s crucial to
consider whether any more shocking
content in your story is really necessary,
or is really adding anything ? and the
same goes for any gore and viscera in a
battle scene. Readers are very quick to
pick up on gratuity and content that is
there just to try to stand out from the
crowd for all the wrong reasons. It can
be jarring and rattle a reader?s suspension
of disbelief if something feels distinctly
out of place. If the content matches
the context, and achieves something in
storytelling terms, I would say you can
push pretty far.
To give an example, one case in which
I would consider showing more in the
arena of war is if you had a character
entering a battle for the first time. For
them to see a battle for the first time and
all the violence and bloodshed that can
go with it could be a really impactful
scene, making an impression on both
character and reader. If your character
were much more hardened to warfare,
then maybe you wouldn?t show it in the
same detail, as the impact would be far
less on that individual.
Of course that?s a pretty basic
example, but if it?s just bloodshed for the
sake of bloodshed than I would say try
and avoid it if possible.
QUESTION 3: DARK OR EPIC?
One of the most important
developments in fantasy fiction in
recent times has been the emergence
of ?grimdark? fantasy, which takes in
many classical elements of fantasy but
gives a much darker and more realistic
view. Some of the old facets of heroism
are whittled away into far more moral
ambiguity, and anti-heroes are more
often in the spotlight as part of this
subgenre. If this is the kind of fantasy
story you are telling, then it might well
be more suitable to deliver more realistic
conflicts, taking in all the injury and
death that comes along with it. That
will be significantly more in keeping
with an overall darker tone. If the tale
is more about old-fashioned heroism,
courage and determination in the face
of extraordinary circumstances, maybe
you feel the focus should be more on the
action than the damage wrought by the
action itself.
It?s also an important distinction
because it?s likely your choice will impact
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25/07/2017 11:30
FA N TA S T I C R E A L M S
the kind of character you have, and how
they will feel about entering the fray
themselves. A traditional hero may be
extremely capable on the battlefield, and
relish the challenge of defeating a worthy
foe, but may not like the more visceral
qualities of any skirmish ? meaning less
injury detail is likely to be shown. A
more morally ambiguous hero, or a flatout anti-hero, might simply love to go
onto the battlefield and hurt his enemies
? likely resulting in a scene that gives
you far more unpleasant detail as they
cut swathes through their adversaries.
QUESTION 4: EARLY OR LATE?
As with many things in story, there is
a habit for things to build over time
and develop towards a crescendo as
the tale wears on. As such, when the
conflict itself takes place in the story
could also have an impact on how much
bloodshed you are going to depict. If
you launch into your first skirmish with
buckets of ?claret?, then you almost set
an expectation and a standard that you
are going to have to at least match, if
not surpass, as you progress the story.
It?s hard to bring the level of things
down as the levels of tension, drama and
amount of action will often intensify the
deeper you get into a book. With that in
mind, an initial battle may be presented
slightly more softly, with less focus on
the less palatable elements, while those
conflict scenes later in the book might
be presented with a harder focus as a
way to raise the stakes and give a feeling
of increased risk to the scene. If a host
of people around the characters are
being killed, or badly injured, then why
couldn?t or shouldn?t it happen to our
lead characters? If the scene and action
is more brutal, surely the reader will feel
things have stepped up another gear?
And what is there to make those lead
protagonists immune to the danger of
the war going on around them?
QUESTION 5:
WHAT?S THE TIMEFRAME OR
TIMEFRAME EQUIVALENT?
One thing that you also have to bear
in mind is the world in which the
story is set, and what sort of timeframe
you see the story being set in. Many
fantasy settings will have some sort of
historical analogy, which will in turn
have an impact on the technological
development of the world and the
weaponry that might be at play on the
battlefield. A stone age setting will be
nothing more than sticks and clubs,
producing a bloody and blunt sort
of warfare. Many settings might have
medieval weaponry such as swords and
maces, which can still do plenty of
damage but have a little more grace and
sophistication. ?Flintlock fantasy? is a
newer subgenre in which firearms and
even heavier artillery are commonplace.
The significance of this is that
whatever weaponry is brought to the
battlefield will determine just how
much gore is shown. Are you going to
be close-quarters, hand-to-hand, brutal
and bloody, or fighting from a distance
and less able to see the violence truly
unfolding? If your characters are in the
trenches within feet and yards of their
enemies, it might be harder to duck
the bloodshed ? if it?s a long-distance
rifleman then the scene could be
extremely differently presented.
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p068 Fantastic Realm.indd 69
CONCLUSION
It can certainly be tricky to write a
fantasy story without any kind of
physical conflict involved, be that a
one-on-one duel or huge swathes of
enemies marching to battle with one
another on a grand scale. So many great
fantasy tales have done it in extremely
strong and memorable fashion, some of
which have taken in the true horrors of
war whilst others have been more about
the glory and honour of the conflict,
presenting a slightly softer and more
palatable version of warfare. Ultimately
there?s no absolute right and wrong,
and there will always be an element of
gut instinct ? as a writer you?ll have
a sense of when to show things in
all their horrible detail and when to
metaphorically turn the camera away.
But there are many other factors that
will play into your decision ? how
capable you feel of writing that sort of
thing, who the characters inhabiting
your story are, how they feel about
entering the fray themselves, what
point at the story the scene itself occurs
and what your own intentions for the
story are.
The ultimate question is about
fit ? does it have a place within the
story, and does it feel suitable to you
as a writer and to readers also? If you?re
not sure yourself, it might be worth
thinking about some beta readers or
even checking out some other relevant
recent fantasy fiction. Reading is crucial
to any writer, and reading in your field
even more so. You may well find extra
inspiration and insight there to help
make the kind of decision we?ve been
talking about.
SEPTEMBER 2017
69
25/07/2017 11:31
Nothing arrived. At the beginning
of January I called the accounts
department, who apologised for the
delay, due to a change in accounting
software (yeah, right) and payment
would be issued in the BACS run at
the end of the week. Guess what? It
didn?t arrive.
It?s times like this when we feel
isolated and powerless as individual
writers. Was court action my next step?
Group support
FEES PAID,
pain f?ee!
Problems getting paid? Simon Whaley courts the idea of legal action.
B
eing commissioned is
one of the best feelings
a writer can have. One
of the few feelings to
better that is getting
paid for that commissioned work.
However, occasionally, getting paid
for those hard-crafted words isn?t as
straightforward as it should be. In the
business of writing, there is such a
thing as a payment procrastinator: a
supplier who?ll seemingly do anything
to avoid paying up.
Seven years ago I had problems
extracting payment from a magazine
for some commissioned work. I?d
pitched an idea in March for the
publication?s October issue. Despite
several follow-up emails I had no
response, so assumed the idea was not
of interest. Then, six months later,
on 14 September, the editor got in
touch. He liked my pitch, but needed
the finished text and images within
48 hours.
70
SEPTEMBER 2017
p070 Business of Writing.indd 70
Perhaps a planned feature had
been pulled at the last minute, or
another writer had let him down.
His problem was my good fortune,
or so I thought. He offered me a fee,
payable thirty days after publication.
I agreed. This was all in an email, so
what could possibly go wrong?
I delivered the text and images on
time. On 7 October the feature was
published, and I invoiced, expecting
payment around the beginning of
November. It didn?t arrive. Towards
the end of November I issued a
statement of account, showing the
outstanding invoice. Two weeks later
I rang the accounts department. They
confirmed they?d received my invoice
and statement, and advised me that
the payment would be in the next
BACS run at the end of the week. It
didn?t arrive.
In mid-December I issued another
statement of account, insisting that
payment was issued immediately.
I?m a member of the Outdoor
Writers? and Photographers? Guild, so
I raised the issue with them. As luck
would have it for me, two committee
members were meeting with the
editor of that publication the
following week, because several other
guild members were experiencing
payment issues with this particular
magazine. They added my name to
their list.
Following the meeting, the Guild
advised us payment would be
forthcoming within two weeks. It
finally arrived four weeks later, by
BACS, ironically a year to the day of
when I first pitched the editor with
my idea.
Have I worked for the publication
since? No. Avoid the poor payers
and concentrate of working with
the professional companies who do
respect your work.
Incidentally, the publishing
company behind the magazine went
into liquidation a few months after
that, although the magazine survived
with new owners.
So if you?re having difficulties
extracting payment from a publisher,
and you?re a member of a professional
guild or society (such as the National
Union of Journalists, Society of
Authors, Writers Guild), then get in
touch with them first. They may take
up your case for you.
But what if you?re not? What if
you?ve got to take action alone?
Court case
Carolyn Henderson, a qualified
journalist and author of 38 nonfiction books and two novels, the
latest of which is Beside Me (Forelock
Books), found herself in this position
a few years ago.
?I took a small claims action when
a publishing company, which had
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25/07/2017 11:35
T H E BU S I N E S S O F W R I T I N G
commissioned me to write two
articles for a fee of �0, didn?t pay
and ignored all communications.?
At that time it was necessary for
claimants to file a claim and then
attend a hearing at the small claims
division of a county court. Scary stuff,
but when you?ve tried all other avenues,
sometimes it?s the only option.
?Doing the paperwork was easy,?
Carolyn explains. ?I was very nervous
going to the actual court, although
people don?t have to do this now. The
company I took action against sent
in a written claim that the articles
weren?t good enough and gave this
as the reason for non-payment.
As they?d published them, word
for word, that didn?t hold water.
I?d wondered if they would send a
representative, but they didn?t. The
registrar said their reply was absolute
rubbish and awarded me the claim
and the costs straight away.?
Sadly, Carolyn didn?t get her
money. The company failed to meet
the court deadline for payment, and
shortly after went into liquidation.
However, in Carolyn?s opinion, it
wasn?t a wasted effort. ?I don?t regret
doing it, because I learned a lot. I?m not
a confrontational type of person and,
looking back, organising and seeing this
claim through gave me confidence.?
Payment protocols
It?s worth bearing in mind that
the vast majority of publishers are
prompt payers. In both mine and
Carolyn?s experiences the publishers
clearly had bigger financial issues,
resulting in their liquidation. I?ve
been writing articles since 1991, and
this is the only time I?ve had to call
on others? help to get paid.
It?s best to have a clear
understanding right from the start
of a project, of how much you
should be paid and when you can
expect payment.
?Always get commissions in writing,?
says Carolyn. ?An email is fine, but
all commissions must include a brief,
the number of words required, the
delivery date and the fee.?
Most briefs state when payment
can be expected. If you sign a
contract with a publishing company,
even as an occasional contributor,
payment terms are usually clearly
stated here. Make a note of
them. These days, payment after
publication is common practice.
Some writers invoice at the time of
submitting their material, others
invoice when they spot their work
has been published. Payment is
typically due thirty days after
publication or the date of the
invoice, whichever is the later date.
Some publishing companies insist
that a purchase order reference is
quoted on all invoices as proof that
you were commissioned to do the
work. Always quote this information.
If not, payment will be delayed.
As Carolyn says, usually a late
payment is down to an administrative
issue rather than anything more
sinister. ?You catch more flies with
honey than vinegar, so I play nicely
to start with ? after all, payments
can get lost within a big publishing
system. It helps if you can talk to
someone in an accounts department.?
Don?t badger the editor, in the
early stages, with payment queries.
Always direct your queries to the
accounts department. The editor?s job
is to put the magazine together, not
to pay company suppliers.
If payment does not arrive when
you expect it to, send a Statement
of Account to the accounts
department. This shows your
invoice as outstanding, and when
it was due. Common practice is
to issue one thirty days after the
invoice was due, and then to issue
another thirty days later, if payment
is still not forthcoming.
Once the issue has reached this
stage, then it?s time to think about
your next move. A polite, but calm,
enquiry with the editor to see if
they can help may be useful. If
you?ve provided high quality work
in the past, the editor may try to
resolve the issue in the hope that
you?ll want to continue working for
them in the future.
Court cash claims
Court action should be the last
resort, and the process begins by
completing an online claim (see
Business Directory). You can use
this service for fixed amounts below
�0,000.
There is a variable fee for this
service, depending upon the amount
being claimed. Claims of up to �0
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p070 Business of Writing.indd 71
cost �, those up to �0 are �
and any up to �000 cost �, with
higher claims costing more.
You can also claim interest on
the money you?re owed, and this
forms part of your court claim too.
It?s calculated automatically when
claiming online, at an interest rate of
8% above the Bank of England base
rate, for the number of days since
your original invoice was first due.
The publisher (the defendant)
has fourteen days to respond, and
may make payment at this stage. If
they fail to respond then you can
order the court to issue a judgment.
If the publisher responds, perhaps
claiming they don?t owe you the
money, or disputing the amount,
then the case may go to court, for
which there will be additional costs.
This hearing, which you?ll need to
attend, may occur in a judge?s room
or a courtroom in a county court.
The decision is made on that day.
If you win, the court will order the
defendant to pay.
It?s rare for payments to be this
problematic, but if you still have
something the publishers need then
you could use it as a bargaining
chip. ?The only time I?ve been really
devious,? says Carolyn, ?was when
I freelance edited a magazine for a
group which was selling that division.
There was a long delay over payment
for the penultimate issue and they
were waiting for all the copy for
the final one. So when they started
shouting for it, I told them that the
copy would be with them within 24
hours of the money being in my bank
account. It was there the next day.?
As long as you?ve delivered your
side of the commission, you are
entitled to be paid. The law is on
your side, so don?t be afraid of using
the court system if you need to. You
don?t have to put up with payment
procrastinators. Show them you mean
business, even if they don?t!
For more information and to start online court
proceedings: http://writ.rs/courtclaim
Charging late payment interest:
http://writ.rs/interestcharge
A Guide to Chasing Payment by the Society of Authors
(free for members, � for non-members):
http://writ.rs/soafees
SEPTEMBER 2017
71
25/07/2017 11:36
T R A I N YO U R B R A I N
Red Editing Pen
Each month, we give you a few sentences which would all bene?t from
some careful use of your red editing pen. As writers, and regular readers
of Writing Magazine, you should not ?nd any of these too dif?cult. But if
you would welcome a little help, you can always check out Richard Bell?s
suggested solutions below:
Here are this month?s examples:
1
2
3
If she were speaking maniacally it was because she wanted to enthuse her
audience with her ideas even though they may have been impracticable.
He saw England as a safe haven even though he still espoused ideas that
had been unpopular at home whilst his distinct accent proclaimed his
country of origin.
It was six months ago since Eric built an annex at the side of his home in
order to house his one-man publishing company.
SUGGESTED SOLUTIONS
1
We start our first sentence with an awkward ?if? clause: If
she were speaking. So we are looking at the past subjunctive
mood ? not a usage that occurs very often ? but it does apply
when we introduce a verb with if. In that situation, the correct
verb will depend on whether the idea we are introducing is true
(or possibly true) or whether it is not true (or unlikely to be true).
If it is true, then our verb should be in the present tense (in this
case: if she was speaking and not if she were speaking.)
Then we go on to suggest that she was speaking maniacally.
This adverb stems from the noun maniac which we use to
describe someone who behaves wildly.
We also have the adjective manic to mean very frantic, from
which we can form the adjective manically. So maniacally and
manically both have meanings very close to each other, and in
most cases we can choose between the two. It would arguably
be best in our example sentence to opt for manically rather
than maniacally, if only because the former is a shorter and less
clumsy word.
At the end of the sentence we should also consider our
use of impracticable. This word is most often used to describe
procedures that are impossible, or near-impossible to carry out.
In our example we would arguably be better to prefer the more
general word impractical.
2
There are words that are commonly used together, even
though they form a tautology. The term safe haven is a
good example; most times we use the word haven we use
safe with it (as in the first part of our example sentence two).
However, it does indeed form a tautology because the word
haven means a place of safety and we are effectively saying
a safe place of safety. We would do better simply to omit the
72
SEPTEMBER 2017
p072 Red ed pen.indd 72
word safe here.
Later in the sentence we use whilst as a conjunction, and there
is nothing wrong with that. However, whilst means exactly the
same thing as while but whilst has become old-fashioned usage
and most of us would now opt for while in this context.
Finally in example 2 we refer to our subject?s distinct
accent. It is often difficult to distinguish between distinct and
distinctive ? but the former should be used to mean clear and
unmistakeable, while the latter means easily recognisable. It is
this last meaning that is more appropriate in our context and
should therefore be preferred.
3
When (as in our example sentence 3) we use ago we run
into one of those odd rules which many of us disregard but
which careful writers should still bear in mind.
The word ago is an adverb and, if we have a clause following
our use of ago we should not introduce it with since ? which is
another adverb.
It is not a difficult problem to deal with, and we have two
ways in which we can do this. The more simple option (and
probably therefore the best) is to omit the ago and just to have
it was six months since Eric? An alternative would be to retain
the ago but to replace the since with that which would give us:
it was six months ago that Eric built an annex.
Finally, let us also look at that word annex. It is a verb that
means to add something as an extra part. So we could say: A
bibliography was annexed to the document. This, however is
not the meaning that fits the context of our sentence. Here we
are talking about an additional part of a building put onto the
original. And the word for that is annexe. So we need to add a
final e to that annex.
www.writers-online.co.uk
25/07/2017 11:38
RESEARCH TIPS
Picture perfect
I
Find just the right images for your projects with advice from Tarja Moles
mages ? whether photographs, drawings,
diagrams or paintings ? can be helpful during
your research process as they can illuminate
an object, place or person in a way that?s not
possible by using words alone. Images are
everywhere these days, yet they are not always
easy to find. There is no single source to go to,
and therefore you may need to be inventive and
look for them in a variety of places. Let?s look at
some potential options:
Sources for reproduced images
several sources, such as Europeana (www.
europeana.eu), the European digital platform
for cultural heritage. Or you could browse
through lists of museums (http://writ.rs/
ukmuseumslist), archives (http://writ.rs/
ukarchiveslist) and libraries (http://writ.rs/
librarieslist) and follow the links to explore
each organisation?s collections in more detail.
If you want to buy images to use in some
way (ie use them for more than just for private
research), there are stock photography sites that
allow you to do that. For example, Dreamstime
(www.dreamstime.com), iStock (www.istock.
com), Shutterstock (www.shutterstock.com)
and 123RF (www.123rf.com) have huge image
banks, they are reasonably priced and you can
download the images instantly. If you can?t find
what you?re looking for, you can see more image
suppliers listed on the British Association of
Picture Libraries and Agencies? website (www.
bapla.org).
If you?re not after any specific original works,
you could decide to find sources that reproduce
original images. These sources include printed
materials, such as books, journals, magazines
and newspapers, as well as various websites (eg
magazine and news sites). For instance, if you
wanted to compare different kinds of butterflies,
you could go to your local library and consult an
illustrated butterfly encyclopaedia or you could
switch on your computer and see if you can find
an online equivalent.
Although tracing images may be tricky
at times, don?t give up too soon: putting
in some detective work can actually be fun
and rewarding!
wanted to see buildings created by Zaha Hadid
Architects, you could find their website (www.
zaha-hadid.com) and see what it contains. As it
happens, the site has an interactive visual archive
and includes architectural illustrations, drawings
and photographs.
Image search engines
Before you start your research, be clear about
what you?re after and for what purpose you want
to use the images. If you plan to use them purely
for personal research, a straightforward online
search is a good place to start. Google (http://
images.google.co.uk), Yahoo! (http://uk.images.
search.yahoo.com) and Bing (www.bing.com/
images) all have image search functions. Also try
specialised image search engines, such as Picsearch
(www.picsearch.com) which covers over 3
billion images.
If you want to copy, distribute or display
any images for commercial or non-commercial
purposes, you need permission to do so. CC
Search (https://search.creativecommons.
org) provides access to search services that link
to images licensed under Creative Commons.
Creative Commons is a non-profit organisation
that provides free copyright licenses and allows
the image creators to decide how their work
can be used by others: for example, you may
be allowed to use images for non-commercial
purposes only or you may not be allowed to
make any derivative works from the original.
When you find an image via CC Search and
want to use it in some way, always double-check
that you are legally allowed to do so and what
the exact parameters are. To find out more about
image use and Creative Commons licenses, visit
http://creativecommons.org
Image creators? original sources
If you?re looking for original images and you
know the creator?s name, you could start by
exploring his or her website. For instance, if you
To search for original images online, try
using a combination of keywords that include
the creator?s name, the name of the object/
place/person, the date and location of the
creation. If you don?t know all the details, try
with any pieces of information that you have.
Organisations that collate images
Google and other search engines are not
capable of finding every image that?s online
because many organisations make their images
available only via licensed collections. If you
only use a search engine, you?re bound to miss
out on some potentially useful pictures.
Numerous organisations collate images.
In addition to their actual collections, many
museums, archives, larger libraries and
galleries have image libraries you can access
online. For example, the National Archives
has its Image Library at http://writ.rs/
nationalarchivesimagelibrary while the
National Gallery?s Picture Library can be
explored at www.nationalgalleryimages.
co.uk. To find organisations that allow you to
see their images online, do an online search
and couple your topic area with the keywords
?picture library? or ?image library?. Alternatively,
check out image portals that bring together
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p073 research.indd 73
SOCIAL MEDIA
Social media can be a useful place to find
themed image collections. Pinterest (www.
pinterest.com) in particular is handy for
exploring other people?s image collections.
Whether you want to see food photography,
house renovation ideas, craft projects,
fashion shoots or book covers, it?s all there
on Pinterest.
If you?re researching celebrities or want to
know more about your fellow human beings?
lifestyles, social media can also be a great
source for original images. Blogs, Instagram
(www.instagram.com), Twitter (www.
twitter.com) and other social media sites
are full of snapshots from other people?s
lives, where they travel, what they eat and
so on. However, don?t believe everything you
see: people?s lives are not usually as rosy as
they seem ? and these days Photoshopping
is easily done by anyone.
SEPTEMBER 2017
73
25/07/2017 11:42
HELPLINE
Helpline
Your writing problems
solved with advice from
Diana Cambridge
Email your queries to Diana (please include home-town details) at: diana@dianacambridge.co.uk or send them to: Helpline,
Writing Magazine, Warners Group Publications plc, 5th Floor, 31-32 Park Row, Leeds LS1 5JD. She will answer as many letters as
she can on the page, but regrets that she cannot enter into individual correspondence. Publication of answers may take several months. Helpline
cannot personally answer queries such as where to offer work, or comment on manuscripts, which you are asked not to send.
Q
Q
A
A
I?ve identified a series of events, in real life, that I?d love
to develop into a radio drama. The events first came
to light in 2008; one of the main ?players? died in 2012 but
others are alive and well. Do I need permission, in whatever
form, to work with a story like this? Or is there a way of
telling it that means I can simply say ?based on? in the credits?
And are there any other options I might be missing?
JACQUI SCHOLES-RHODES
Longcot, Oxfordshire
You can?t libel anyone who is dead: so that?s one
worry out of the way! But you?re on shaky ground
with the others ? if they?re around, then you do need
their permission before you mention them in any kind of
writing. But if your story is based on a national or global
event ? for example, an environmental disaster, a crime, a
political scandal ? then you can write about this; much of
the material will be in the public domain.燫ather than use
real characters to tell the story, can you invent some around
this event? If it?s vital that you include actual people, then
you?ll need to approach them first.
Q
Can you please advise me on the project I am working on?
So far I have reached my seventeenth birthday in my life
story. It covers 26 chapters and 56,000 words. However I have
been told it should be at least 80,000 words to be acceptable to a
publisher. I want to end the first book as I get married at the age
of twenty.
ELLA HARRIS
Dunstable, Beds
A
I think that word count is about right. But I wonder if
doing your life story in several books is such a good idea?
Most readers will expect a biography in one go. Can you condense
your story, but complete it up to now, reaching the higher word
count? If that seems difficult, make a timeline on paper with the
major events highlighted. You may not need a whole chapter for
each year. I think it?s good to also think about the theme of your
story ? it could be anything from triumph over tragedy: success
and disillusionment: living through war years or difficult years:
lessons you?ve learned in life. Really think about this ? and make
notes pinning the theme to each chapter of the book.
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SEPTEMBER 2017
p74 helpline.indd 74
I was longlisted for an international writing
competition ? but not shortlisted. This was a memoir
writing competition. Can I submit this elsewhere? It doesn?t
say that you are unable to do this. But I would like to add
this credit to any bio I send to another competition. Will it
put them off that the piece has been longlisted already?
VINCENT MYLES
Oldfield Park, Bath
You could tell them that you were longlisted for
this competition without saying anything about the
content of your entry. Rules usually request that the piece
you enter has never been published ? I have not seen any
rules which prohibit entries which have been long or short
listed: but that doesn?t mean that someone, somewhere, has
decided to include this in their conditions. Re-read the rules
carefully: then add your success in the bio or CV section
without being specific on what the piece was. If you are a
winner with this new competition, your writing CV will
look good ? and that?s all to your advantage.
Q
Do you think it?s possible to be overly reliant on feedback
and critiques?
I?ve returned to writing fiction after a three-year break and feel
I?ve lost sight of the quality of my work. I?m also a little lazier
than I used to be due to time restrictions and sometimes request
feedback on unfinished or poorly finished projects, whereas
previously I would have polished and redrafted a dozen times
before putting anything out.
I can?t decide if it?s okay to carry on like this (I do pay
professionals for the critiques so feel I?m supporting fellow writers
too) or if I should work harder to have more confidence in my
own work and submit without someone else appraising it first.
GAYNOR JONES
Failsworth, Manchester
A
Interesting ? and yes I do! Some students give up part
way through a writing project and submit for criticism in the hope
that the tutor will somehow finish it off. But certainly you should
not be submitting all your work to a paid critic: that?s a bad habit
to get into. Have some of your work critiqued, but begin to follow
her advice and submit some work without an appraisal. Apart from
the cash you?re spending, you?re losing the re-drafting muscle by
working in this way.
www.writers-online.co.uk
25/07/2017 11:41
GGOOI N
I NGGTO
TOMMAARRKKE ET T
Q
A
Given that the magazine will have plenty of writers clamouring to get into
the magazine for free, it seems sensible to take up the opportunity. Sadly
much freelance journalism is unpaid now ? especially at local level. But you?re right,
something may come of it, so make sure you include your own contact details ?
insist on this.
Q
I am attending a scriptwriting workshop at a literary festival. The blurb doesn?t
say anything about bringing a script, or notes, with you. I just want to learn
all I can and don?t have anything ready ? will this be okay? There?s no email to send a
message to, and it does not mention that you need to have a work in progress.
GINNY BAKER
Hay-on-Wye
A
I?d take any brief notes you have ? I?m sure the tutor will at some point ask
students about their own plans. It sounds like a basic workshop, introducing
the elements of the craft. In practice most students want to talk about their own
work. I?m sure there will be an opportunity, so go prepared.
Q
I am running a small (free) writing group at my home. I do supply coffee and
biscuits but think I now need to charge for them ? up to six people come.
Would �each be too much? I am concerned not to make a profit from this.
EDITH HOWARD
Wincanton, Somerset
A
I think �is reasonable:
but what you could do is
save that somewhere, take out your
expenses and if there is any left over
ask the group what they?d like to do
with it ? perhaps buy a writing
book and start a small library,
or if there?s enough buy
food for a meal ?
there are plenty
of options. You
could have a
treat once a
year perhaps.
www.writers-online.co.uk
p74 helpline.indd 75
Not all me, me, me
Patrick Forsyth
recommends putting the
focus of your suggestions
on others
A
letter arrived the other day
trying to sell me computer
maintenance. The approach
was spoiled because every single sentence
began with the word ?we?. It did not
prompt me to read more carefully.
And it reminded me of two rules
worth remembering as you write with
suggestions to editors.
? Avoid an introspective tone.
If every sentence, paragraph or thought
begins with the word ?I? ? I will? I
can? or worse: I want ? it creates a
?catalogue? approach, listing things from
your own point of view. It seems tedious
and is not likely to prompt interest.
Starting with the word ?You? creates
a difference. Thus: I would like to give
you? perhaps becomes: You will find?,
continuing by explaining why readers
will find something interesting (and why
the editor should say ?yes?!).
? Avoid circumspection.
A persuasive letter is no place for ?I think?,
?I hope?, ?probably?, ?maybe? or ?perhaps?.
Ideas and suggestions must reflect your
confidence in them. So phrases like this
will give you? work better. Similarly,
avoid bland description. Your idea is never
just very good. A suggested feature must
never be quite interesting. Use words that
add drama and certitude.
Writing persuasively needs preparation
and care and there are many more
techniques involved than just these two. I
mention these here because they are core
principles. Count the number of times
you use ?I? and ?you? in a proposal and
make sure ?you? predominates. If you set
the tone right, if you have the courage
of your convictions and tell people what
your suggestions mean to them, then you
have a head start on being sufficiently
persuasive to prompt agreement.
?
I live on the Isle of Wight and recently approached a free local glossy
magazine with an idea for an article. They liked my idea and suggested
I submit it to them, but they would not pay me anything for the 2,000 word
article. Should I go ahead and write the article, in the hope it will be published,
with my own photos, in this high-quality free quarterly magazine (circulation
15,000)? Or should I refuse, on the basis that I?ve been told that you shouldn?t
ever write for free?
I?ve had over a dozen articles published in UK magazines previously, for which
I received a fee for every one, so I?m not a complete beginner who is just hoping
to see their name in print. But on the other hand, if I had this article published, it
might lead to greater things...
I wondered what you thought about this?
GEORGIE MOON
Ryde, Isle of Wight
NOVEMBER 2016
75
25/07/2017 13:10
WRITERS? WEB WATCH
I
WM?s resident webcrawler highlights some tools to streamline your social networking
f you have taken your
social media marketing
seriously, chances are you
are running multiple social
media accounts connected
to your life as a writer and getting
your books out there. These will
probably include Facebook, Twitter,
a Wordpress blog and increasingly,
Instagram ? and, depending on the
needs of your platform, may extend
to Linkedin, Google+, Foursquare,
Vimeo, Tumblr, Evernote, Flickr,
Mailchimp and more. Scheduling
posts, responding to followers and
monitoring mentions across all
your networks may feel like a job in
itself. At this point, you may well
want to a one-stop shop to manage
your social media network.
The best-known and most used
social media management tool is
Hootsuite. It allows you to manage
all aspects of your social media
activity through a single dashboard,
letting you publish and schedule
content, respond to followers,
monitor streams, and use analytics
to monitor your progress. A very
basic version of Hootsuite is free
(https://hootsuite.com/plans/
free) and is ideal for individuals
? it supports three social media
profiles, allows content scheduling
and offers basic analytics. If as a
single user you want to upgrade
to the Professional payment plan
(ten social profiles and increased
features), you?re looking at � a
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SEPTEMBER 2017
p076 Webbo.indd 76
month, although a thirty-day free
trial is available if you want to test
it out. From there, Hootsuite?s
plans are aimed at business users,
and the rates reflect this.
What about alternatives? If
scheduling messages across your
networks is your priority, have
a look at Buffer (https://buffer.
com/). It?s simpler, cleaner and
less feature-heavy than Hootsuite,
but that?s the beauty of it: it?s very
user-friendly and its main focus is
allowing you to set a schedule and
post messages across your network.
You can create images with it and
it works across the most popular
social networks: Facebook, Twitter,
Linkedin, Google+, Pinterest and
Instagram. Buffer?s free plan lets
you connect one social network
per account and schedule ten posts
per account. If this isn?t enough
for you, the Awesome plan costs
$10 per month and gives you ten
networks and 100 posts.
If you want to attract more traffic
and followers to your networks,
Social Booster (www.socialbooster.com) works on the idea
that you manage and automate your
social media content from a single
hub and grow your social media
profiles by keeping them active
even when you?re offline. Joining
Social Booster involves creating an
account, which is free, and then
select a monthly payment plan,
with options for individuals and
businesses. You have to sign up to
see the various pricing plans, but
at the time of writing there was a
90% off promotion ? though here
at WM Towers, we appreciate a bit
of transparency and would have
preferred the information to be
freely available. Social Booster also
offers 500 free Twitter followers
when you sign up to a plan, but we
advise you to remember that you
are better off with one interested
follower than a mass of followers
who are simply there to make the
numbers look impressive.
Some of the best known tools for
managing multiple social networks
are squarely aimed at corporate/
team users, and their payment
plans reflect this. Sprout Social and
Agorapulse don?t offer free plans,
and Viralheat only offers custom
plans. It?s up to you to decide if
you?re going to need the same kind
of social media management as a
busy marketing team, or if a basic
Hootsuite or Buffer plan will suit
your needs. There are other free
options as well ? Social Oomph
and Social Clout for two ? so look
around ? and remember, the most
important thing is to work out
what you want to achieve and find
the social network management
tool that best fits your needs. After
all, the whole point of this is to
streamline your social network
media and make life easier so you
can get on with writing.
www.writers-online.co.uk
25/07/2017 11:47
COMPUTER CLINIC
INDESIGN
EXPLAINED
If you are interested in taking a look
at Adobe InDesign you can either
download a seven-day trial or
purchase a subscription from
www.adobe.com/uk/
Get to grips with Adobe?s design powerhouse InDesign with advice from Greta Powell
U
nlike Microsoft Word, the industry-standard design software
Adobe InDesign gives you the freedom of being able to
accurately position images and text on pages without
worrying about anything moving position or sliding down on
to the next page. This makes it ideal for anyone considering
writing and designing their own self-publishing project or looking to
produce an ebook, whether for export as a pdf, epub or any other format.
It is well worth considering the move to InDesign for anyone looking to
produce professional and elegant looking documents to accompany their
writing. Yes, it does work very differently to Microsoft Word, but after the
initial learning curve it is much easier to produce nice-looking results and
work with.
Q
This may be a really odd question but I have recently moved
from Word to InDesign CS6 for writing. When I worked in
Word I could quite simply adjust the spacing between characters by
playing with the character spacing function in Word but for some
reason I am unable to adjust spacing in InDesign. I have searched
for the character spacing option in the software but it does not seem
to be available. Am I missing something in InDesign?
Q
A
A
It is there but in a different guise. It is probably just the
terminology that is throwing you off. You can easily adjust the
character spacing in InDesign but it is referred to as Kerning and
Tracking. Kerning allows you to adjust the space between two specific
characters whereas tracking lets you adjust the character spacing in a
block of text. Both let you add or subtract spacing between the two
characters for greater readability. You can find out a little more about
their function in typesetting at http://writ.rs/kerntrack
To adjust the text you need to open up the Character panel by first
selecting the text then make the changes from either the Options bar
or from the Character formatting panel in InDesign which is found
under the Type menu >Character formatting. See the tutorial at http://
writ.rs/kerntrackvid, which shows you how to make changes and also
explains a little bit more about this function.
Q
Having written a self-help book comprising both graphics and
text in InDesign I have decided to sell it in pdf format. What
is the best way to save it to pdf and how do I create hyperlinks to
other sources such as other pages?
A
You can add a lot of different interactive elements to a document
in InDesign, including hyperlinks, by going to the Window menu
and selecting the Interactive >Hyperlinks command. Once the panel
is open, highlight the document text then click on the panel menu
and select New Hyperlink from the drop down menu (top right of the
panel). In the box that then opens you can select the type of hyperlink
you want. For example an external link to a webpage, an email address
or an internal page.
There are a couple of ways to send to pdf but probably the most
comprehensive one is to go to the File menu >Export and choose pdf
(Interactive) from the ?Save as type? drop down menu, otherwise your
links will not work in Acrobat.
Note: You can also save to pdf by using the built-in Adobe Presets by
going to the File menu >Adobe PDF Presets.
Working in InDesign has been a liberating
experience after working in Word for many years,
however I do find myself perplexed about working with
graphics. Up until quite recently I was simply copying
and pasting my graphics into InDesign but I have been
told there is a much better way to bring them into the
software. Could you clarify how this is done please?
The best method is to use the Place command, which
you can access from the File menu >Place then locating
the graphic on the hard drive and bringing it into InDesign.
This is because it retains the link to the original file giving a
much greater level of support for functions such as resolution
and colour. It also means that the image can be edited in
original software such as Photoshop directly from inside
InDesign by simply right clicking and selecting ?Edit with?
and choosing the image editor from the list. This also makes
it ideal if the print is going to be packaged and sent across to
a printer. By embedding your image file, it accompanies the
InDesign file to the printer, who, if necessary, can then make
any edits to the original image. When you paste an image
into an InDesign file any links to the original image are
severed which means updating on the fly as described above
is not possible.
Note ? the links to images appear in InDesign?s Links
panel (Window menu >Links) and give you the file path
and image information. It also gives you the option to
embed your image if required. View a short online tutorial
on the Links panel here: http://writ.rs/indlinks or, for a
more general overview of working with graphics and visual
elements in InDesign: http://writ.rs/indgraph
GET CONNECTED!
If you have a technical query for Greta,
contact her by email at info@curveandlearn.
com or through the contact form at
www.curveandlearn.com
www.writers-online.co.uk
p077 computer clinic.indd 77
SEPTEMBER 2017
77
25/07/2017 11:47
AU T H O R P R O F I L E
NIGEL MAY
The celebrity world provides fact and fiction fodder
for Nigel May, he tells Margaret James
O
ver the past few
years, novelist,
journalist and
television presenter
Nigel May has made
a big success of writing stories about
the three things that really fascinate
him ? glamour and glitz and the
world of celebrity.
But what made him want to go
down this particular route?
?I worked for many years as a
showbiz journalist before I turned
to writing novels, and writing
has always been a huge passion of
mine,? Nigel says. ?While I was in
junior school ? I must have been
develop some characters and a basic
storyline for a novel. I thought that
if I wasn?t interviewing the real rich
and famous I would create some
rich and famous people of my own
and write about them. That was
how I started writing Trinity, my
first novel.?
But Trinity didn?t have an easy
journey to publication. ?I sent the
first three chapters off to agents and
received nothing but rejections,? says
Nigel. ?But I was enjoying finding out
what would happen to the characters
and wondering where I could take
them, so I carried on writing. Then,
just as I was finishing the first draft
?People sometimes assume glam ?ction is
all ?uff and nonsense and full of sex, but in
my work there is also murder, mystery, deceit,
betrayal, love, lust and in my sixth novel,
Revenge, plenty of revenge and revelation.?
about ten ? I wrote a mini-novel
about a man being stranded on
a desert island, which I proudly
read out to the class. I studied
journalism at college in London
and then moved into the world of
magazines. I am fairly obsessed with
celebrity, so I was very happy to
spend my days interviewing stars
of television and film and also pop
stars galore.
?I started writing fiction in about
2009. I had been pretty much out
of print journalism for almost a
decade and to be honest I missed
writing. As I was now living out
of London it wasn?t easy to be
a feature writer, so I decided to
78
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p078 Author Profile.indd 78
of the novel, I received
a letter from an agent
asking to see the finished
book. The agent sent
Trinity and a second book
Addicted to publishers,
but sadly there were no
takers. Two years later,
a new agent took me
on but again I was met
with rejection. So I selfpublished both Trinity
and Addicted. The books
flew up the Amazon
charts, garnered good
reviews and in 2015 I was
signed by Bookouture and
given a contract.
?What draws me to writing sexy
novels about glamorous lifestyles?
Basically, it was my love of showbiz
and celebrity and my work as a
journalist. I had lots of stories
from working on magazines like
more!, Live & Kicking and New
Woman that I could alter slightly
and then use in my stories. There?s
an element of truth and there are
things that have actually happened
to me in all of my novels. Also, I
love the work of the novelists Jackie
Collins, Harold Robbins, Shirley
Conran and Jacqueline Susann,
who all write about celebrities and
their lifestyles.
?My latest novel is Revenge which
I believe is a really good murder
mystery. People sometimes assume
glam fiction is all fluff and nonsense
and full of sex, but in my work
there is also murder, mystery, deceit,
betrayal, love, lust and, in my sixth
novel Revenge, plenty of revenge
and revelation.
?The story opens with the murder
of a burlesque showgirl at a charity
event in Brazil. Nobody knows
who killed the girl. Five years later,
celebrity chef Dexter Franklin is
opening the doors of his brand new
restaurant in St Tropez. He invites
a specific list of people to the event
because he believes that maybe one
of them, or perhaps all of them,
are connected to the murder.
Secrets are revealed, so perhaps the
mystery behind the tragic murder
will finally be solved? As is the
case with all my work, the women
are the strongest characters. I
particularly like writing the divas!
?I normally give myself six
months to write a novel. Some
take less time and some slightly
more, but if my publishers
give me a submission deadline
I always stick to it. At the
www.writers-online.co.uk
25/07/2017 11:49
WRITERS? NEWS
Your essential monthly round-up of competitions, paying markets,
opportunities to get into print and publishing industry news.
Enter the world?s
richest short
story prize
BY TINA JACKSON
The 2018 Sunday
Times/EFG Short
Story Award, the
richest award for a
single short story in
the English language,
is open for entries.
The international
award, open to any novelist or short story
writer published in the UK, offers �,000
to the winner. Five shortlisted authors each
receive �000.
To enter, authors must have a record of
prior publication in creative writing, ie had
works of prose, drama or poetry published by
an established publisher or established printed
magazine, or broadcast by an established radio
station, in the UK or Ireland.
Past winners include Bret Anthony
Johnston, Yiyun Li, Anthony Doerr, Junot
Diaz, Kevin Barry and Jonathan Tel, while the
likes of Hilary Mantel, Graham Swift, Sarah
Hall, Ali Smith, Colum McCann and Mark
Haddon have been shortlisted.
Entry is free. Authors may submit directly
and agents and publishers may submit on
behalf of the author with their consent. Only
one entry per author is permitted.
To enter, send original, short stories up to
6,000 words, either unpublished or scheduled for
publication after 1 January 2017. Type stories in
12pt Arial, double spaced, with no page numbers.
The author?s name must not appear on the
manuscript. Include a front sheet with the story
title and word count only. Documents should be
doc or docx file, with the author name and short
story title as the filename.
To enter by email, complete the online
entry form and then submit the short story by
email. To enter by post, send eleven printed
copies and a completed entry form.
The closing date is 28 September.
Details: The Sunday Times EFG Short
Story Award 2018, The Society of Authors,
84 Drayton Gardens, London SW10 9SB;
email: sundaytimesEFG@societyofauthors.
com; website: http://shortstoryaward.co.uk/
80
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p80 News.indd 80
Make a splash
with children?s fiction
The Bath Children?s Novel Award is open for entries to the 2017 competition.
The prize, which awards �000 to the winner, is for unsigned authors
of middle grade or YA fiction. There is a runner-up prize of �0 in
Cornerstones vouchers. This year?s judge is Sallyanne Sweeney of Mulcahy
Associates Literary Agency.
To enter, writers should never have been traditionally published (in this
context, this is defined as a publishing deal for a novel that includes an
advance payment). Self-published writers are eligible to enter.
To enter, send the first 5,000 words of a novel, double-spaced in 12pt font,
and a one-page synopsis, single-spaced in 12pt font. The writer?s name must
not appear on the manuscript. Email entrants should include the 5,000 words
and synopsis in a single doc or pdf file, titled with the novel title. Include name,
address, telephone number, novel title, genre, word counts for the extract and
the competed novel and method of payment in the submission email. Postal
entrants should include this information on a separate front sheet.
Longlisted writers will be asked to produce their completed manuscript
in December.
There is a � entry fee per novel, payable by PayPal, credit/debit card or
cheques made out to The Bath Novel Award. Writers may enter as many times
as they like.
The closing date is 19 November.
Details: The Bath Novel Award, PO Box 5223, Bath BA1 0UR; email:
entries@bathnovelaward.co.uk; website: https://bathnovelaward.co.uk/
childrens-novel-award/
A new dawn for female novelists
Aurora Metro?s biennial Virginia Prize for Fiction
is open for entries to the 2017 competition.
The winner of the international prize, which
is to find new women fiction writers, receives
�000 and a conditional offer of publication
from Aurora Metro Books.
The competition is for novels in any genre
that have not been previously published or self
published. The 2015 winner was Shambala
Junction, by Dipika Mukherjee.
Send complete, unpublished novels as Word
docs or pdfs. If submitting a hard copy, pages
should be numbered on single sides of A4 and
securely fastened. Include a completed entry
form, which may be downloaded from the
website. If submitting by email, put ?Virginia Prize? and your
name and the book?s title in the subject line.
The entry fee is �. Pay this by PayPal or cheques made out to Aurora
Metro Arts and Media Ltd.
The closing date is 1 October.
Details: The Virginia Prize, 67 Grove Avenue, Twickenham TW1 4HX;
email: submissions@aurorametro.co.uk; website: http://aurorametro.com/
newsite/
www.writers-online.co.uk
25/07/2017 13:17
WRITERS? NEWS
New frontiers of sound
UK MAGAZINE MARKET
Ace this pitch
BY TINA JACKSON
District of Wonders has three podcasts which provide
markets for speculative fiction reprints including
translations from other languages.
StarShipSofa will consider any science fiction story, in
any sub-genre, from anywhere in the world. Editor Jeremy
Szal says the SF element must be the backbone of the
story. Stories in the second person, or which are preachy,
will be a tough sell. Length should be 2,000-13,000
words. Full guidelines: www.starshipsofa.com/submissions/
Tales to Terrify will consider any horror story in any
sub-genre up to 10,000 words. Editor Stephen Kilpatrick
welcomes well-crafted genre stories as well as those that
challenge the definition of horror. Guidelines: http://
talestoterrify.com/submission-guidelines/
Far Fetched Fables editor Gary Dowell purchases fantasy
stories in any sub-genre between 2,000-7,500 words,
but at the time of writing was closed to submissions.
Check the guidelines for future reading periods: http://
farfetchedfables.com/submissions/ You can send enquiries,
but not submissions, to farfetchedfables@gmail.com
Submission forms for all three podcasts can be accessed
via: https://districtofwonders.moksha.io
Include a bio mentioning where your story was first
published and attach as a doc or rtf file.
For all three podcasts, if it?s done right, nothing is
taboo, but these are not markets for erotica or tortureporn and the editors aren?t impressed by blatant attempts
to shock. Payment is $50 for non-exclusive rights to make
the first audio adaptation of your story. No multiple
submissions. Simultaneous submissions are okay, except to
other audio markets.
Arty appeal
Fifth Wednesday Journal is a biannual US
literary print journal ?committed to the idea
that contemporary literary and photographic
arts are essential components of a vibrant and
enduring culture?.
The editors want writing and art that
is ?both entertaining and intellectually
meaningful?. The magazine, and its online
version, Fifth Wednesday Plus, publish short
fiction, poetry, essays, interviews, book reviews,
and black and white photography.
All submissions must be unpublished. Simultaneous submissions are
accepted, reprints and multiple subs are not. The editorial team looks
for fiction with bite, thought and a way with words, 1,000-12,000
words, and standalone novel excerpts. For creative non-fiction, book
excerpts, and essays are allowed as long as they too stand alone.
Poems can be traditional or experimental, any length, but
preferably under four pages. Send no more than five per submission,
in a single doc file, formatted as you would want them to appear.
Submit all manuscripts in doc or docx files, without name or
contact details. Response time is ?within six months?. Payment is
two copies, a year?s subscription and, for the best submission each
issue only, $150.
Website: www.fifthwednesdayjournal.com
Today?s Golfer is all about helping its readers to play
better golf.
?We?re a ?how to? magazine with the regular golfer
at its heart. Our reader is the average golfer who just
wants to play better,? said editor Chris Jones. ?He?s
about 45, is a member at a golf club, plays once a
week (would love to play more), and has a handicap
of about 14? but he?d love it to be less.?
The pillars of the brand are ?Play Better, Buy
Better, Choose Better?, and Today?s Golfer tends
to associate those with golf instruction, golf
equipment and golf courses. ?We?re not about
interviews with stars, and we don?t worry too
much about the history of golf. We?re about
helping people shoot lower scores,? said Chris.
A typical reader wants to up his game. ?He?s a
keen golfer who likes to know about tour starts,
equipment, courses? but more than that they want
to play better golf,? said Chris. ?If Today?s Golfer can help these guys save a
couple of shots when they play this weekend, or help them choose a new
driver, or help them find a great course they?ve never played, the magazine
has done its job.?
Roughly a quarter of the magazine is based on golf instruction covering
every part of the game. A quarter is equipment-related: new gear, the latest
clubs reader tests, product showcases and Top 10 listings of favourite clubs.
Just less than a quarter is about courses and travel: UK course reviews,
foreign destination guides, new courses, great deals. The content ratio is the
same for the website, which also includes a lot of video.
The final quarter of the magazine is for features, and that can be
anything, from an in-depth feature with a tour player to a behindthe-scenes look at a big brand in golf, an issue in the game, an event,
something fun or quirky. ?We regularly do big ?specials? on big events like
the Masters, the Open and the Ryder Cup, and we?ve got a ?tech special?
coming up where we look at the future of golf, some cool gadgets,
invention that could change the game. I try to give every issue something
memorable, which stands out from the normal mix of instruction,
equipment and courses. There?s a huge breadth of content, as long as
much of it relates to helping people play better golf,? said Chris.
Ensuring content works across various platforms is key for Chris.
?In this day and age, when you?re asking people to pay �70 for your
content, it?s got to be exciting, interesting, useful, compelling? You
can?t get away with dull, dreary, easy. We need to try harder to get the
best content, new and exclusive pictures, the social media angle, the
video angle; they?re the ideas, out of the dozens we get every month,
that stand out.?
His priorities are: ?Selling copies of the magazine, growing market
share and driving traffic to our website! Ultimately that?s what we?re
judged on. And we can only do that through compelling, exciting,
useful content that represents the fundamental thing TG?s all about;
helping people play better golf.?
Chris is happy to hear from freelances with great ideas that his team
can?t do/haven?t thought of themselves. He?s also looking for exclusivity,
bespoke photography to back up the words and potential for online
content. ?If I?m going to spend on freelance contributions, it will need
to help sell copies of the magazine of drive traffic to the website. So
any idea has to be relevant to the audience, ideally exclusive and, most
importantly, our readers will really want to know about it.?
Contact Chris with a synopsis of ideas by email. Payment varies.
Details: email: chris.jones@bauermedia.uk; website: www.
todaysgolfer.co.uk
www.writers-online.co.uk
p80 News.indd 81
SEPTEMBER 2017
81
25/07/2017 11:50
WRITERS? NEWS
FLASHES
Scribble writing
magazine?s article
writing competition
has the theme of
?my writing day?.
Prizes are �, �
and �. Send up to
1,500 words by 31
August. The entry
fee is �(cheques
payable to Park
Publications).
Details: 14 The
Park, Stow on the
Wold, Cheltenham,
Glos GL54 1DX;
tel: 01451 831053;
website: www.
parkpublications.
co.uk
Bournemouth
Herald is a new
weekly newspaper
from the daily
Echo after the
success of the
recently launched
Christchurch
Times. Feedback
is welcomed by
deputy editor Neil
Meldrum.
Details: email:
letters@
bournemouthherald.co.uk;
website: www.
bournemouthecho.
co.uk
Cats Protection
Coffee Table News is
a recently launched
eight-page booklet
with stories of the
charity?s work. It
exists alongside the
quarterly magazine
The Cats, available
on subscription for
� per year.
Details: email:
editorial@cats.org.
uk; website: www.
cats.org.uk
Money Observer
personal finance
magazine is
published by
Moneywise
Publishing. Feedback
is welcomed.
Website: www.
moneyobserver.com
?Twenty five years
ago the novel had a
swagger; it wore a
leather jacket.?
Will Self
82
SEPTEMBER 2017
p82 News/FOW.indd 82
GLOBAL SF MARKET
AE bounces back after cyber attack
BY GARY DALKIN
Debuting in 2011, AE: The Canadian Science Fiction
Review established itself as a significant outlet for
original SF, reviews and SF-related essays. In September
last year a cyber attack brought the site down with farreaching consequences. Now AE is relaunching and is
interested in stories between 500-3,000 words.
Stories must be original, previously unpublished
science fiction ? the editors have an inclusive
interpretation of the genre. No poetry, screenplays,
novel extracts or multiple submissions. Simultaneous
submissions are okay, but notify right away if the
work is accepted elsewhere.
Preference is given to Canadian citizens and
residents, but international submissions are accepted.
Making crime pay
Where Roses Never Die by Gunnar Staalesen,
translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett
(Orenda Books) was announced at Bristol
CrimeFest as winner of the Petrona Award for
Best Scandinavian Crime Novel of the Year.
Other winners were:
Audible Sounds of Crime Award: Clare
Mackintosh, I See You, read by Rachel Atkins;
eDunnit Award: Laura Lippman, Wilde Lake;
HRF Keating Award: Barry Forshaw, Brit Noir;
Last Laugh Award: Mick Herron, Real Tigers;
Best Crime Novel for Children (8-12): Robin
Stevens, Murder Most Unladylike: Mistletoe and
Murder; Best Crime Novel for Young Adults
(12-16): Simon Mason, Kid Got Shot.
Understand the ethics
of using others?
experiences
Using people?s real-life
stories for such as a book,
film or performance or
working with life stories
from vulnerable people has
certain ethical considerations
and the Village Storytelling
Centre in Glasgow is
running a training session,
Whose Story? The Ethics of Story Gathering, to
explore these sensitivities. Gathering, keeping and
using other people?s stories will be discussed along
with the key issues of consent, honesty and the
implications of publication.
The session is on 28 September and costs �
full price, � for third sector participants and �
for freelancers and individuals.
The Centre offers a range of storytelling activities
and training. See website for full details: www.
villagestorytelling.org.uk
For this reason your subject line of your email should
indicate ?INT Sub? or ?CDN Sub? as applicable. Then
include the title of your story and word count. Eg:
?INT Sub: Story Title, 2,800 words?. Include a cover
letter in your email with your name, byline and a brief
bio of around fifty words max. Finally paste your story
into the body of your email, preferably in plain text,
and send to submissions@aescifi.ca. No attachments
will be opened.
Payment is Can10� per word, payable within sixty
days of acceptance, for first serial and first electronic
rights and non-exclusive audio rights. Full guidelines:
http://aescifi.ca/#submit
Enquiries to editors@aescifi.ca
Impress Salome
Salom� is a British online and print
literary magazine for emerging
female writers. It invites all women
to contribute, ?of any age, race,
sexuality, skin colour, disability and
belief system? and is ?particularly
encouraging to new writers?.
The second issue came out in July,
and the team are looking for work to
fill their next issues.
Currently needed are submissions
of fiction, non-fiction, flash-fiction
and poetry. Work should be original,
unpublished, and written with courage
and verve. No sim subs but writers
may submit up to ?three submissions
of any genre, including poetry, per issue?. Each piece
should be submitted separately with full contact details,
Twitter handle and bio.
Submissions for flash fiction should be 100 to 500
words, prose, both fiction and non-fiction should be
500 to 3,500 words, poems should be up to two pages.
Submit doc files online. Response time is ?reasonable?.
Payment is � for ?the usual rights?.
Website: www.salomelit.com
A taste of things to come
Ouen Press is inviting submissions for Taste, its Short
Story Competition 2017.
There is a first prize of �0 and two runners-up prizes
of �0. Winners and highly commended entries may be
published in an anthology.
All submissions should be original, unpublished short
stories between 3,000 and 10,000 words that explore the
theme of ?taste?.
All submissions should be pasted into the body of the
submission email. Include information about title, word
count, author name, contact telephone number, postal address,
previously published works, prizes, and current employment.
Entry is free. Only one entry is admitted per person.
The closing date is 31 December.
Details: email: competition@ouenpress.com; website:
www.ouenpress.com
www.writers-online.co.uk
25/07/2017 11:51
WRITERS? NEWS
GLOBAL LITERARY MARKET
Slug here
PDR LINDSAY-SALMON
Going Down Swinging calls itself ?one of
Australia?s longest-running and most respected
literary journals?. The magazine team has been
publishing digital as well as print and audio
anthologies since 1979, as well as producing
?sensational, sold-out live events?. The editors,
Katia Pase and Matt Harnett and their team,
believe in ?fostering a community of writers
and artists dedicated to their craft and the ideas
behind it?. New writers are encouraged and
supported with editorial feedback.
The editorial team seeks ?fierce, fresh writing?
and offers, in the magazine, opinion columns,
feature pieces, discussions and debates. And
there is regular content about writing and literature. Explore the website,
read the archives and follow the submission guidelines.
Submit ?fiction, non-fiction, poetry, comics, visual art, creative collabs,
spoken word?, anything a writer can create within the magazine?s brief. Prose
pieces under 5,000 words are preferred but the team will read ?anything
up to 15,000 words; similarly, poems up to 100 lines in length?; no sim
subs, multiple subs or reprints. Audio recordings, be they spoken word,
storytelling or poetry, are welcomed.
Submit written pieces as doc or docx format, through the online submission
system. Don?t forget full contact details. Payment is usually Aus$100-$250
depending on form, length and the number of pieces published.
Website: http://goingdownswinging.org.au
Write interactive with
New Media Prize
The New Media Writing Prize 2017 is open for entries.
Now in its eighth year, the New Media Writing Prize is for work
written specifically for a digital readership that integrates a variety of
formats, platforms and digital media. There are four categories in this
year?s competition.
? The if:book New Media Writing Prize and the Unicorn Student Prize
are given for good storytelling (fiction or non-fiction) written specifically
for delivery on a PC/Mac/online/on a handheld device, ie tablet or
smartphone. Work may be a short story, novel, poem, or transmedia work,
but should be interactive. Judges will be looking for innovative use of new
media to deliver the story. The winner of the New Media Writing Prize
will receive �000 and the winner of the Unicorn Prize will be offered a
three-month internship at Unicorn Training in Bournemouth, or �0
if they can?t undertake the placement. Email entries to entries2017@
newmediawritingprize.co.uk
? The Dot Prize is for a project idea that creates exciting literary work
inspired by the opportunities afforded by the web. blogs, apps, social media
etc. The winner will receive �0 to develop their project. Email entries to
chris@ifbook.co.uk
? The Gorkana Journalism Awards. There are two awards, UK and
international, both worth �0, for innovative use of new media to create
fact-based narratives. Work should adhere to journalistic standards and
demonstrate how new media can deliver things that traditional media can?t.
Email entries to gorkana@newmediawritingprize.co.uk
Entries in all categories must be original work. To submit, send a valid
URL or information on how the judges can access entries that can only be
viewed on a device. Include the title of the work in the submission email,
full contact details and a brief (50-100 words) biography.
Entry is free.
The closing date is 24 November, except for student entries, which
should be submitted by 15 December.
Website: http://newmediawritingprize.co.uk/
It?s a Funny
Old World
BY DEREK HUDSON
? Times associate editor and columnist and
life peer Daniel Finkelstein expressed his
delight that local newspapers were enjoying
a comeback.
He recalled that when living in East
Finchley, he enjoyed reading The Archer.
They once ran the following comment:
?We must apologise that there is no
gardening column in this copy of The
Archer. This is because the Lauradale Road
neighbour of our gardening editor has refused to provide her
with information following the failure in our last edition to spell
chrysanthemum correctly.??
? Writing tips from Canadian author
Margaret Atwood:
?1 Take a pencil to write with on aeroplanes.
Pens leak. But if the pencil breaks, you can?t
sharpen it on the plane, because you can?t take
knives with you. Therefore: take two pencils.
?2 If both pencils break, you can do a rough sharpening job
with a nail file of the metal or glass type.
?3 Take something to write on. Paper is good. In a pinch,
pieces of wood or your arm will do.?
? Proofreaders? oversights were highlighted with relish by Danuta
Kean in the Guardian.
One of the best literary malapropisms in print, she reported,
appears in Theodore Dreiser?s 1925 classic An American Tragedy.
?In one passage two characters dance ?harmoniously abandoning
themselves to the rhythm of the music ? like two small chips
being tossed about on a rough but friendly sea?? Dreiser omits
to say whether those chips were served with curry sauce.?
The most notorious error in the Good Book, Danuta added,
appeared in a 1631 edition, known since as the Wicked Bible
because the typesetters failed to add the word ?not? to the 10
Commandments, ?leaving the pious free to steal, murder and
commit adultery?.
? From Reader?s Digest?s collection of funny headlines: ?We all
make mistakes. Some are just more public than others, like these
real newspaper typos:
?Here the bridal couple stood, facing the floral setting, and
exchanged cows.? Modesto News-Herald (California)
?It took many rabbits many years to write the Talmud.?
Holland Evening Sentinel (Michigan)
?Mrs. ____ fell down stairs at her home this morning,
breaking her myhodudududududududosy, and suffered painful
injuries.? Ohio paper
?A headline in an item in the Feb. 15th edition incorrectly
stated ?Stolen Groceries.? It should have read: ?Homicide.??
Enquirer-Bulletin
? A man walks into a book shop and says, ?Can I have a book
by Shakespeare?? ?Of course, sir,? says the salesman. ?Which one??
The man replies, ?William.?
www.writers-online.co.uk
p82 News/FOW.indd 83
JUNE 2017
83
25/07/2017 11:52
WRITERS? NEWS
FLASHES
Neil Thomas edits
Shropshire Magazine
and will consider
articles up to 1,500
words on history,
legend, countryside,
education, food,
home, garden and
characters.
Details: email:
neil.thomas@
shropshirestar.co.uk;
website: www.
shropshiremagazine.
co.uk
The Quarterly
Journal of
Forestry is the
official publication
of the Royal
Forestry Society.
Commissioning
editor Dr Freia
Bladon welcomes
letters.
Details: email: qjf@
rfs.org.uk; website:
www.rfs.org.uk
Retired
businessman Tod
Benjamin, from
Bournemouth,
has published
his debut novel,
The Supervisor,
a mystery thriller
inspired by his own
experiences as a
branch manager,
at the age of
81. His book is
published by New
Haven Publishing,
originally set up by
Teddie Dahlin in
2012 to publish Sid
Vicious: A Vicious
Love Story, her
memoir about her
friendship with the
Sex Pistol.
Ullage is the branch
magazine of the
West Berkshire
Camra (Campaign
for Real Ale).
Details: email:
editor1@
westberkscamra.
org.uk;
website: www.
westberkscamra.
org.uk
?Many a book is like
a key to unknown
chambers within the
castle of one?s own
self.?
Franz Kafka
84
SEPTEMBER 2017
p84 News.indd 84
GLOBAL LITERARY MARKET
Head for Arkansas
Beastly
submissions for Bradt
BY PDR LINDSAY-SALMON
Bradt Travel Guides is running a competition
to find travellers? tales for Beastly Journeys, an
anthology of travel writing about true-life journeys
with animals.
The book, which is the third of a trilogy of
themed travel-writing anthologies, will include some
extracts by well-known writers focusing on travelling
with animals, but the bulk of the content will come
from this competition.
Tales should be between 1,000 and 2,000 words
and the focus should be on travelling with an animal
(ie, not just a wildlife encounter). Stories featuring
unusual animals and where the presence of the
animal is unexpected or uninvited are particularly
welcome. All submissions must be true stories, and
written in the first person.
Send entries as doc attachments by email with
?Beastly Journeys competition? in the subject line.
Include name, address and a daytime telephone
number in the body of the email.
Writers whose stories are selected will receive a
small fee and two copies of Beastly Journeys.
There is no entry fee.
The closing date is 28 August.
Details: email: Competitions@bradtguides.com;
website: www.bradtguides.com
The Arkansas International is a new
biannual print magazine seeking ?to
publish the best literature from the
United States and abroad?. It?s part of
the University of Arkansas Program
in Creative Writing & Translation
and publishes ?fiction, poetry, essays,
comics, and works in translation?.
Unsolicited submissions are welcome
during September, October, January, and
February; submissions are open during
the rest of the year but entail a fee to submit, of $3. See the
website for full guidelines: www.arkint.org/submissions/
The editors are committed ?to promoting both
established and emerging voices? and are seeking quality
submissions of original unpublished works. Simultaneous
submissions are welcome, with the usual proviso; no
reprints or multiple subs.
Prose submissions should be no more than 10,000
words, poems may sent in ?packets of up to six poems?,
and do put all the poems in one submission. Payment is
?re-evaluated based on the budget of each issue.? The last
issue paid $20 per printed page, maximum $250, and in
copies of the journal.
Website: www.arkint.org
Reveal yourself for
Bare Fiction
Mentoring for Scottish
bright not-so-young things
The Bare Fiction Prize 2017 is open
for entries.
Now in its fourth year, the Bare
Fiction Prize is in three categories:
poetry, flash fiction and short stories.
In each category there is a first prize
of �0, a second prize of �0 and
a third of �0. Two further highly
commendeds in each category will win �. Winning
entries will appear in Bare Fiction.
? The poetry category will be judged by Wayne
Holloway-Smith and is for poems up to forty lines. The
entry fee is �per poem.
? The flash fiction category will be judged by Naomi
Booth and is for fiction up to 500 words. The entry fee
is �per flash fiction.
? The short story category will be judged by Adam
O?Riordan and is for short stories up to 3,000 words.
The entry fee is �per short story.
All entries must be original and unpublished. The
writer?s name must not appear on the manuscript.
Postal entries should be clearly typed on single sides
of A4. Include a completed entry form, which may
be downloaded from the website. Online entries may
be doc, docx, pdf or rtf files. The file name should be
Your-name-Entry-Title.format. Pay the entry fee by
PayPal or cheques made out to Bare Fiction.
The closing date is 31 October.
Details: Bare Fiction Prize, 77 Copthorne
Road, Shrewsbury, Shropshire SY3 8NA;
email: info@barefiction.co.uk; website: www.
barefictionmagazine.co.uk
Scottish Book Trust?s Next Chapter
Award, which supports a talented,
unpublished Scottish writer over
forty, is inviting entries.
The winning writer will
receive nine month?s mentoring,
arranged by Scottish Book Trust.
They will also get a two-week writing retreat at Moniack
Mhor and a bursary of �000.
Gail Honeyman (above), who won the inaugural
Next Chapter Award in 2014, received a seven-figure
publishing deal for her debut novel, Eleanor Oliphant is
Completely Fine, which was published by HarperCollins
in May. It is a Sunday Times bestseller, a BBC Radio
Two Book Club Choice and film rights have been sold
to Reese Witherspoon?s production company, Hello
Sunshine.
?I was delighted to be selected as the first recipient of
the Next Chapter Award. I received lots of incredibly
useful, practical support and advice throughout the year,
for which I?m very grateful. It was a fantastic experience,?
said Gail.
The award is open to poets, novelists, authors of
narrative non-fiction and children?s authors who are over
forty and based in Scotland. Submitting writers should
have a specific piece of work they want to develop to
publication standard.
To submit, send personal details, a list of your writing
experience to date (500 words), a personal statement (300
words) plus a project statement (200 words) and a writing
sample (up to 2,500 words or 140 lines of poetry).
The closing date is 27 September.
Website: www.scottishbooktrust.com
www.writers-online.co.uk
25/07/2017 12:00
WRITERS? NEWS
UK FICTION MARKET
Newly afloat fiction
BY TINA JACKSON
Manatee Books is a new, independent, digital-first
publishing company.
?We publish crime fiction and women?s fiction primarily,
because that is what we love, including speculative crime,
historical fiction and romance,? said publisher Lisa Hall, who is
also a bestselling crime writer.
Lisa set up Manatee Books with publishing professional
Liz Barnsley, author of the influential Liz Loves Books blog.
?It?s something I?ve wanted to do for a long time, and we set
up officially in May this year,? said Lisa. ?Liz and I are both
passionate about books, and I wanted to set up something that
gives every author a five-star experience. It?s very easy to get a little bit lost with a big
publisher, purely because of the number of brilliant manuscripts that are published
every year, so we wanted to offer something that is very author-focused.?
Lisa and Liz are looking to publish between five and ten books each year, and
would like to build up a really strong list of brilliant fiction. ?We are both in it for
the long haul so we?re looking forward to building our authors? brands, and working
with them to make sure that their books become a success.?
Manatee Books is looking for top-notch, high quality fiction. ?We want stories
that will stay with us long after we?ve turned the last page,? said Lisa. ?Liz is in charge
of crime fiction, and I know that she?s very keen to get some speculative crime on
her list, and I?m in charge of women?s fiction ? I?m looking for books that will make
me laugh til I cry, or cry til I?m a hot mess. After writing crime fiction all day I need
some good old-fashioned escapism!?
Lisa is hoping to discover engrossing, imaginative new writing for Manatee. ?As I
said, for us it?s a story that doesn?t leave us after the final page ? a book that gets us
excited. Something that bends the genre in some way and offers something a little
bit unusual or unexpected. We always know when we have something potentially
brilliant because as soon as one of us finishes it, she?s straight on the phone to the
other urging her to read it immediately!?
She encourages writers to submit. ?Just go for it! Submitting can be very daunting,
and I remember the first time I submitted a manuscript ? my hands were shaking and
I had to have a glass of wine? and try to remember that rejection is not the end of
the world ? your manuscript just needs to land on the right desk at the right time.?
Prospective authors of women?s fiction and crime fiction should submit via the
website, sending the first twenty pages of the manuscript (12pt font, double spaced),
a synopsis up to 1,500 words and a cover letter. Remember to include the synopsis
and cover letter ? ?we want to know about you!? said Lisa.
Manatee Books publishes in ebook and paperback and pays 40% royalties on
ebooks and 20% on paperbacks.
Website: www.manateebooks.co.uk
Stretch your comedy
writing muscles
There are � cash prizes and performance and publication
opportunities for two first prize winners in the Women in
Comedy Festival International Comedy Writing Competition
plus two second and third prizes of comedy-related goodies
and a Women in Comedy Festival memory stick for all
winners. The competition is open to entries from both men
and women over the age of eighteen, but all entries must
feature women as the main character/s.
There are two categories. The first is for a sketch or
monologue, maximum three minutes, and the second is for
a humorous short story of less then 1,000 words. All entries
must not have been previously performed or broadcast in any
format or medium or have been performed in public.
Judges for the competition are: arts journalist Marissa Burgess,
who specialises in writing about comedy; Katy Matthews,
producer and co-ordinator for the monthly topical Brightonbased Treason Show, and Emma Taylor, artistic director for the
weekly London-based topical News Revue show.
The closing date is 12 October. Entry fee is � there are
no restrictions on the number of entries you may submit.
The Women in Comedy Festival, now in its fifth year, is
the only festival of its kind in Europe and will take place
19-29 October in venues in Manchester and Salford.
Website: www.womenincomedy.co.uk
Stories for children come
out of their chrysalis
Now in its third year, the Caterpillar Story Prize for Children is inviting
entries for the 2017 award.
The competition is for stories written by adults for children aged 7-11. The
winner will spend a two-week retreat at The Moth Artists? Residence, and receive
?500. The runner up will win ?300 and the third prize winner, ?200.
Enter original, unpublished stories up to 1,500 words. There are no
formatting requirements, but the writer?s name must not appear on the
manuscript. Writers may enter by post (downloading and completing an
entry form) or online.
There is an entry fee of ?12 per story. Postal entrants should pay this by
cheques made out to The Moth Magazine Ltd, and online entrants by PayPal.
The closing date is 30 September.
Details: The Caterpillar Short Story Prize, c/o The Moth,
Ardan Grange, Belturbet, Co Cavan, Ireland; email: enquiries@
thecaterpillarmagazine.com; website: www.thecaterpillarmagazine.com
www.writers-online.co.uk
p84 News.indd 85
Spread your theatre
writing wings
Red Dragonfly Productions has
announced the Taking Flight
Festival Competition 2018 is
open for entries of new stage
plays from new and emerging
writers from East Asian, South Asian and South East
Asian communities.
Each writer whose play is performed at the Taking
Flight Festival in 2018 will receive a �000 fee.
The competition is for stage plays between thirty and
sixty minutes. Plays may be on any subject, traditional
or contemporary, and must be able to be enjoyed by
the whole family. Plays should be for a cast of up to five
actors, who may double up on characters, and with a
minimal set.
In the first instance, send a full description of the idea
(on one A4 page) including a beginning, middle and end,
and details of name, ethnicity, location, contact email and
telephone number and any access requirements.
There is no submission fee.
The closing date for submissions is 1 October.
Details: email: submissions@gristtheatre.co.uk;
website: www.reddragonflyproductions.co.uk
SEPTEMBER 2017
85
25/07/2017 12:00
WRITERS? NEWS
FLASHES
NinaTucknott
edits the quarterly
Flora International
Magazine for flower
arranging and
floristry. Contact Nina
with suggestions for
related features.
Details: enquiries@
flora-magazine.co.uk;
website: www.floramagazine.co.uk
Emap has sold eleven
business media
titles ? Drapers,
NursingTimes,
Local Government
Chronicle,
Construction News,
New Civil Engineer,
Ground Engineering,
H&V News/RAC, Retail
Jeweller, Materials
Recycling World,
Architects? Journal
and The Architectural
Review ? to Croydonbased publisher
Metropolis for �.5M.
Romsey & Wellow
Gazette, a free
community magazine
in Hampshire, is
edited byTracey
Preston.
Details: tracey@
mlgpublishing.co.uk;
website: www.
mlggazettes.co.uk
Into the Unknown:
A Journey through
Science Fiction is at
the Barbican Centre
in London until 1
September is.The
exhibition promises
a ?genre-defining
exhibition of art,
design, film and
literature? from Jules
Verne to Margaret
Atwood.
West Berkshire
Lifestyle is a free bimonthly published by
Minerva Publications
that covers Newbury,
Hungerford and
Pangbourne.
Website: www.
westberkshirelifestyle.
co.uk
?Life is infinitely
stranger than anything
which the mind of
man could invent.?
Arthur Conan Doyle,
A Case of Identity
86
SEPTEMBER 2017
p86 News/ And another thing.indd 86
GLOBAL SMALL PRESS MARKET
Loss lead
BY GARY DALKIN
Aftermath: Explorations of Loss & Grief is a new print
anthology in preparation from Brooklyn-based Radix
Media. The theme is deliberately wide open, but stories
should address the aftermath of loss or tragedy in some
way. Write fast though: the deadline is 15 August.
Reprints will be considered but original submissions
are much preferred. Pieces can be poetry, fiction (in
any genre) or personal essays. Comics, illustration and
photography which will reproduce well in black and
white are also acceptable. The limit is 500-3,000 words.
Payment for fiction and non-fiction is 6� per word, $35
per poem. Comics, illustrations and photography earn
$10 per page or $50 per work, whichever is greater.
Paste your submission directly into the body of an
Eternal stories of the
creative mind
Blue sky theming
The annual US-based Futurescapes short story
competition for non-professional writers is this
year based around the theme of ?Blue Sky Cities?.
The judging panel is ?seeking stories set in a
near-future city where significant strides have
been made toward improving air quality, climate
adaptation, or even net positive impacts on
climate and air quality?.
The winning entry will be a compelling story
no longer than 8,000 words which explores the
competition theme with a nuanced approach
to technology, science, politics and/or policy, all
without forgetting about plot and character. The
best entries will present the positives and negatives
of a particular future, imagining a rich and full
world but showing a single city, neighbourhood
or life, and offering a roadmap for cities, states
and nations to follow. No excessive or gratuitous
violence, language, or sexual content.
First prize is $2,000, with $500 for five
runners-up. The winning stories will be
published in an anthology alongside multiple
professional authors, including lead author Paolo
Bacigalupi. The prize money is in return for
exclusive print and electronic rights for one year
from the date of publication.
A professional author is defined as someone
who has sold at least four short stories receiving
compensation of over $1,000, or a single work
of fiction over 40,000 words, being paid at
least $2,500.
It is free to enter once, but subsequent entries
cost $24. The closing date is 13 October.
Submit through the website:
www.futurescapescontest.com/
email to: submissions@radixmedia.org.
If your story is accepted you will be notified by midSeptember, with payment on signing the contract.
Website: http://radixmedia.org/call-for-submissions
Hammond House is inviting entries on the theme ?eternal? for its
2017 competitions.
The competition, which is run by non-for-profit publishing
organisation Hammond House, has three strands:
? The University Centre Grimsby 2017 International Literary
Prize is for original, unpublished short stories between 2,000 and
7,000 words. The winner will receive �0, with runner-up prizes
of �0 and �. Send stories as doc or docx files, double-spaced
in Arial 12pt font on numbered pages. The story title should
be on the first page. The writer?s name must not appear on the
manuscript.
? The Hammond House International Poetry Prize is for
original, unpublished poems up to forty lines. The first prize
is �0, with � and � in runner-up prizes. Send poems as
docs/docx with 12pt font and the title on the first page. The
poet?s name must not appear on the manuscript.
? The Scriptwriting Contest is for fifteen-minute scripts. The
winner will receive �0 and a recorded production before a live
audience. Six runner-up scripts will have a recorded rehearsed
reading. Send scripts as pdfs in correct industry format.
Submit all entries through the website. The entry fee in each
competition is �, and the closing date is 31 August.
Website: www.hammondhousepublishing.com
Content for the Grist
Grist is the online and print journal run by
the graduate students in the Creative Writing
Program at the University of Tennessee. An
annual publication and website updated all
year round, it publishes ?fiction, nonfiction,
poetry, interviews, and craft essays?.
All styles and aesthetic approaches are welcome.
The 2017 submission period is open until 15 September.
Submit through the website: http://gristjournal.com
Simultaneous submissions are acceptable, but not multiple
subs or reprints. Don?t mix poetry subs with fiction subs. All
submissions are considered for both the print issue or Grist
Online. There is a $4 reading fee, and payment is $10 per
poem or 1� per word for prose, maximum $50. Response time
is 2-4 months.
www.writers-online.co.uk
25/07/2017 12:02
WRITERS? NEWS
UK CHILDREN?S MARKET
Picture books from a BAME persepective
BY TINA JACKSON
Lantana Publishing, which featured in Writers? News last
year, have a call out for submissions of picture books by
BAME authors.
?We are dedicated to developing a children?s book
landscape that is diverse and inclusive and as part of this we would like to
commission and develop work from BAME writers,? said Lantana?s Katrina Gutierrez.
Lantana is interested in submissions of picture books for 4-8 year olds, with text
no longer than 500 words, and ideally between 200 and 400 words. Stories with
modern-day settings and BAME families are particularly welcomed. Narrative nonfiction stories are also welcomed.
Picture book authors should submit the complete text of their work with a
covering letter including information about previous writing history and why this
story is important to them. Send work as a doc or pdf by email. Author/illustrators
should send a dummy of the complete picture book.
Illustrators who are interested in working with Lantana Publishing on picture
book commissions should send up to three illustration samples aimed at children.
Picture book authors whose work is accepted for publication will receive an
advance and royalties.
Details: email: submissions@lantanapublishing.com; website: www.
lantanapublishing.com
And
another
thing...
?The history of literature is well
populated with women who either
used men?s names or fudged it with
some androgynous initials. Even some
female authors that are household names
today were first published under masculine
pseudonyms: the Bront� sisters, Charlotte, Emily, and
Anne, were first published as Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell.
Others continue to be recognised by their pen names, like
Middlemarch author George Eliot, known to her friends as
Mary Ann Evans. These women chose male pseudonyms
because it was felt they could not otherwise be taken
seriously by readers? It?s a sad reality that while women
generally don?t discriminate in their reading, men are more
prone to foolishly pass female writers by.?
Haylen Beck (a pseudonym), PowellsBooksBlog
Poems for Clochoderick
?I once asked a talented and fairly famous
colleague how he managed to regularly
produce such highly regarded 8,000-word
features. ?Well,? he said, ?first, I put it off
for two or three weeks. Then I sit down
to write. That?s when I get up and go clean
the garage. After that, I go upstairs, and then
I come back downstairs and complain to my wife for a
couple of hours. Finally, but only after a couple more days
have passed and I?m really freaking out about missing my
deadline, I ultimately sit down and write.??
Megan McArdle, The Atlantic
Clochoderick Press is inviting entries for the Clochoderick Poetry Competition.
Clochoderick is a literary organisation based in Paisley that published a biannual
journal, Laldy, and individual collections, and puts on live poetry events.
The competition is for original, unpublished poems up to 35 lines, in any style
or form and on any subject.
There is a first prize of �0, a second prize of �0, a third of �0 and a
fourth of �. The judge will be Magi Gibson.
The poet?s name must not appear on the manuscript. Put all poems submitted
in one document and include a front sheet with your name on it. There are no
specific formatting requirements. Submit entries by email.
The entry fee is �for one poem, �50 for three and � for five.
The closing date is 25 January 2018.
Details: email: clochoderickpress.competition@gmail.com; website: www.
clochoderickpress.co.uk
?Avoid prologues: they can be annoying,
especially a prologue following an
introduction that comes燼fter a foreword.
But these are ordinarily found in
non-fiction. A prologue in a novel
is backstory, and you can drop it in
anywhere you want. There is a prologue in
John Steinbeck?s燬weet Thursday, but it?s okay
because a character in the book makes the point of what
my rules are all about. He says: ?I like a lot of talk in a
book and I don?t like to have nobody tell me what the guy
that?s talking looks like. I want to figure out爓hat he爈ooks
like from the way he talks.??
Elmore Leonard
Get flash for The Fiction Desk
The Fiction Desk Flash Fiction Competition is inviting entries.
The competition is for stories between 250 and 1,000 words. The winner will
get �0, and two runners-up will each get �0. The winners will be published
in a Fiction Desk anthology, and will receive two copies.
All stories must be original and unpublished. Send stories as docs or docx
files, double-spaced in 12pt Times New Roman. The document should include
your name, the story title and your email address, either on the first page or in a
header. Upload all entries through the online submission system.
There is an entry fee of �for one story and �for two.
The closing date is 29 September.
Website: www.thefictiondesk.com
www.writers-online.co.uk
p86 News/ And another thing.indd 87
?I have a love-hate relationship with writing.
First the hate. It?s difficult. Finding
language for ideas, then finding better
language. During my years as a
probation officer I occasionally heard
colleagues joke (sort of) that the job
would be great if it weren?t for the clients.
I sometimes feel the same way about writing
and language. Some writers swoon over language: ?It?s
my muse, my lover?, and so on. Well, it?s my enemy, and
I seem to spend all my life arguing and battling with it.
Also, sitting down at a desk aggravates my sacroiliac joint,
so by the end of a week of solid writing I?m pretty much
bed-bound or crawling around on all fours.
Simon Armitage, the Guardian
SEPTEMBER 2017
87
25/07/2017 12:02
WRITERS? NEWS
FLASHES
The Chartered
Institution of Water
and Environmental
Management
(CIWEM)
Photographer of the
Year Competition
closes on 8
September. There
is a �000 overall
prize, a �000
changing climate
prize, a �0 built
environment prize, a
�0 mobile phone
prize and a camera
prize for under-16
environmental
photographer of the
year.
Website: www.
ciwem.org/epoty/
Having thoroughly
modernised Conan
Doyle?s classic
Sherlock Holmes
stories, the writing
team of Mark Gatiss
and Steven Moffat
is to pen a series
of ninety-minute
TV films based
on Bram Stoker?s
Dracula for the
BBC. Sue Vertue
(Sherlock) will
produce.
The Guardian and
Observer look set
to go from Berliner
size to tabloid as
they seek to cut
costs.
Liveright?s Norton
imprint is to publish
the prison letters
of former South
African president
and anti-apartheid
revolutionary
Nelson Mandela in
July 2018.
The North West
Evening Mail,
circulated in south
and west Cumbria,
has changed its
name to The Mail
after some thirty
years with the
current title.
?The man who
does not read
good books has no
advantage over the
man who cannot
read them.?
Mark Twain
88
SEPTEMBER 2017
p88 News/Introductions.indd 88
GLOBAL SMALL PRESS MARKET
Leap into action
BY PDR LINDSAY-SALMON
Leapfrog Press publishes ?paperback originals
of adult and middle-grade fiction and
nonfiction?. Their list is ?eclectic and includes
quality fiction, poetry, and nonfiction; books
that are described by the large commercial
publishers as midlist, and which we regard as
the heart and soul of literature?.
Leapfrog is an inclusive publisher,
welcoming illuminating books of all kinds,
and happy to shatter genre boundaries. Novels
should tend towards the literary. Writers
who have trouble ?placing their books with
the conglomerate-owned publishing houses
because their books are not perceived as
bestseller material will find a home with us?.
Unsolicited submissions are open until 1
December through the website, although there
is a $3 reading fee. Follow the guidelines and
submit at: www.leapfrogpress.com
Response time is ?anywhere from a few days
to a few months?. Payment and rights are
discussed with the contract.
Eye spy a flash
new journal
Eye Flash Journal, a new contemporary poetry magazine that will
be launched in October, is inviting submissions of new work from
poets with a connection to the South of England.
Eye Flash Journal has been set up by Isle of Wight-based Clifford
and Charlotte Begg to raise the profile of poets on the south coast.
It will be published in print and online.
New and established poets are invited to submit poetry, with
a preference for work that will fit onto a single page (ie, no more
than 24 lines). Send no more than three original, unpublished
poems in a single Word document as an email attachment with the
poet?s name and email address in a header.
Submissions for the first issue of Eye Flash Journal are open
until September.
Details: email: eyeflashpoetry@outlook.com; website: http://
eyeflashpoetry.co.uk/
Plot a retreat
Writers & Artists has joined forces with Retreat
West for a free short story competition. The winner
will receive a place on Retreat West?s Plotting
Retreat from 17-21 November, which is led by
Retreat West founder Amanda Saint and novelist Richard Skinner.
The competition is for 1,000-word short stories, which must
have a beach as the setting. All entries must be original and
unpublished. Writers may submit only one story. Stories may be
sent as doc or pdf files, or in the body of the submitting email.
Include name and contact details in the body of the submission
email, and ?Retreat West Short Story Competition? in the subject
line. There are no specific formatting requirements. Entrants must
be registered with www.writersandartists.co.uk
The closing date is 17 September.
Details: email: competition@bloomsbury.com; website:
http://writ.rs/retreatwestcompetition
Ere, wash the
story?
Erewash Writers? Group is inviting
entries for its Open Short Story
Competition 2017.
There are prizes of �0, �, � and
�. Two highly commendeds will each
win a free entry to the 2018 competition.
Writers may enter as ?new writers? (ie who
have not been paid for short stories or
articles, and have not won competitions) or
in the open category.
The competition is for original,
unpublished short stories up to 2,500 words
on any theme. Type stories in 12/14pt font
and double-space them. Number pages,
and include the title on each page. Include
a word count at the end of each entry.
The writer?s name must not appear on the
manuscript. Include a completed entry form,
which may be downloaded from the website.
Enter by post or by email. Email entrants
should use the subject line ?Email entry
(your name)?.
The entry fee is �for one, �for two
and �per entry thereafter. Payment may be
made by cheque payable to D Wilkinson,
PayPal, postal order or bank transfer. The
closing date is 21 September.
Details: EWG Competition, Parkland
Connexion, Stanhope Street, Long Eaton
NG10 4QN; email: erewashwriterscomps@
hotmail.co.uk; website: http://
erewashwriterscompetition.weebly.com/
Novel
recommendations
Leading literary magazine Granta has
published its third, once-a-decade list of
Best Young American Novelists. These are
all writers still in their twenties or thirties
which Granta deems to be the best of their
generation, writers of ?remarkable achievement
and promise?. The 21 chosen writers are:
Jesse Ball, Halle Butler, Emma
Cline, Joshua Cohen, Mark
Doten, Jen George, Rachel
B Glaser, Lauren Groff, Yaa
Gyasi, Garth Risk Hallberg,
Greg Jackson, Sana Krasikov,
Catherine Lacey, Ben Lerner,
Karan Mahajan, Anthony
Marra, Dinaw Mengestu,
Ottessa Moshfegh, Chinelo
Okparanta, Esm� Weijun Wang
and Claire Vaye Watkins. Of
the 2007 selection, Anthony
Doerr has since gone on to
win the Pulitzer Prize for his
bestselling All The Light We
Can Not See, testament to the
Granta list being one to watch.
www.writers-online.co.uk
25/07/2017 13:23
WRITERS? NEWS
INTRODUCTIONS
Writing Magazine presents a selection of parenting magazines currently accepting
contributions. We strongly recommend that you familiarise yourself with their guidelines
before submitting and check websites, where given, for submission details.
Mother & Baby, edited
by Emma Bailey, is
?Britain?s number one
parenting magazine?, and
readers choose it for its
trustworthy advice and
entertaining features.
All features are expertled so the information
they contain is up-todate, informative and reliable. But it?s still
a pleasurable read ? features have a warm
tone and talk directly to mums about their
common experiences. All features are positive
and leave readers feeling ready to take action
? whether that?s following advice contained
in the feature or buying the best new buggy
that has been tested in the shopping pages.
Freelance ideas are welcome, particularly for
longer features. Payment varies.
Details: email: ask@motherandbaby.
co.uk; website: www.motherandbaby.co.uk
Absolutely Mama, edited
by Holly Kirkwood
and published by Zest
Mini Me
Style
Media, is a stylish, glossy,
design-led bimonthly
for millennial mums.
Absolutely Mama?s
readers are affluent,
style-conscious,
discerning consumers interested in breaking
down traditional barriers and changing
perceptions. Article topics cover all aspects
of modern parenthood from pregnancy
through to primary school, including
healthcare, fitness, wellness, education and
fashion, and the magazine is heavily imageled. Features are a maximum of 1,200
words. Contact Holly by email with ideas.
Details: email: holly@zest-media.com;
website: https://absolutely-mama.co.uk/
J U LY / AU G U S T 2 01 7
I S S U E N I N E ? � 3 .9 5
S LE E P S P E C IA L No more tears at bedtime
P E A R L LOW E From rebel to country girl
The Magazine For Stylish Mums
TH E B I G M OV E Life after London
Mama
ISSUE NINE ? JULY / AUGUST 2017
MAMA_June_July17_COVER_UK_2.indd 2
HAVE FUN THIS
SUMMER
T H E M AG A Z I N E F O R ST Y L I S H M U M S
08/06/2017 11:36
Junior is an online family
lifestyle magazine for
parents published by
Immediate Media that
is currently being given
a revamp by new editor
Bonita Turner. Junior?s
content covers life with
children aged from 0 to 12, featuring the best
children?s shopping, fashion, family travel,
food and interiors, and a very popular child
modelling section. There are also sections
covering parenting skills, child development,
relationships, health and education. Bonita
accepts pitches from freelance writers.
Payment varies. Send ideas by email.
Details: email: junior@immediate.co.uk;
website: www.juniormagazine.co.uk
Juno magazine, edited by
Saffia Farr, is a natural
parenting magazine
published six times
a year, in February,
April, June, August,
October and December.
The editorial is broad,
covering all aspects
of family life for all ages in articles that
share personal experiences and reflections.
Offering fresh perspectives in this fast-paced
technological world, and creating a nonjudgemental community for those who are
keen to follow a natural approach to family
life,? there are columns on home-education,
empowered birth, teens and nutrition;
interviews, craft and recipe ideas and a mix of
features that can help readers make informed
choices as they journey through the challenges
of parenting. Contact Saffia with ideas
through the website. Writers receive a sixmonth subscription.
Website: www.junomagazine.com
Family & Parenting is an
online magazine produced
by Sailfin Magazines
and edited by James
Cole. The content covers
anything of interest to
parents, from pregnancy
through to schooling,
and the focus is on
positive, upbeat parenting stories. A lot
of the largely female readership come to
the magazine through Google searches
for specific issues. Stories for Family &
Parenting should be unique content, and
well-written, relevant stories told in a
conversational voice for a human reader,
not an SEO exercise. The word count is
a minimum 600 words. Send completed
articles for consideration.
Details: email: james@
familyandparenting.co.uk; website;
www.familyandparenting.co.uk
We are Family, edited
Hannah Latham and now
an online-only magazine,
is an independent
lifestyle publication
for LGBT families,
offering support, positive
representation and advice through all the
stages of family life, including planning
to start a family, practical parenting
advice and articles aimed at the wider
family and community. Writers interested
in contributing to We are Family are
asked to send a sample 1,000-word article
(this can have been previously published
and ideas/areas of interest, or pitches for
specific articles.
Details: email: editor@
wearefamily.co.uk; website: http://
wearefamilymagazine.co.uk
Write a story for Daniel
A Story for Daniel is a free-to-enter flash fiction
competition with a very good twist, aiming to raise
awareness of blood stem cell donations.
Writers are invited to send flash fiction with an
uplifting theme, inspired by the joy Daniel brought
before his death on 19 June.
There?s no entry fee, but writers are asked to consider checking out
(and perhaps donating to) any of these: DKMS, Demelza Hospice
Care for Children, Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, or
carrying out a good deed of their own.
Send original, unpublished flash fiction up to 500 words. The
winning story will receive �0.
In the submission email, send the story as an email
attachment. The writer?s name must not appear on the
manuscript. Include story title, word count, name, home
city, email and country in the submission email. Also give
information about what you have done to meet the entry
criteria; this will not be checked, but will be passed on to Daniel?s
parents. Put ?A Story for Daniel? in the email subject line.
The closing date is 31 October.
Details: email: Gaynor@jonzey.com; website: https://gaynor69.
wixsite.com/astoryfordaniel
www.writers-online.co.uk
p88 News/Introductions.indd 89
SEPTEMBER 2017
89
25/07/2017 12:03
WRITERS? NEWS
Richard Borrell is the
editor of Lancashire
Life, which also
covers the Lake
District. He accepts
email pitches for
articles on regional
topics.
Details: email:
roger.borrell@
lancashirelife.co.uk;
website: www.
lancashirelife.co.uk
Doubleday released
the book trailer
for Origin, the
next instalment
in Dan Brown?s
series of thrillers
featuring Harvard
symbologist
Robert Langdon.
Earlier entries in
the series include
Inferno,燗ngels &
Demons and燭he Da
Vinci Code.
Members of
the National
Farmers Union
of Scotland?s
Aberdeen branch
raised more than
�300 for charity
in memory of
former farming
editor Joe Watson,
of the city?s Press
& Journal title,
who died aged
43 in March 2014,
Holdthefrontpage
website reported.
Cressida Cowell,
author of the How
to Train Your Dragon
novel series, has
become the first
Foyles Literacy
Ambassador.
Sandeep
Parmar?s Eidolon
(Shearsman) took
the inaugural
�000 Ledbury
Forte Poetry Prize,
dedicated to second
poetry collections.
?The rejections
were discouraging,
I won?t pretend
they weren?t, but I
was always, always
returning to the
page to try to find a
better sentence.?
Elizabeth Strout,
American writer and
Pulitzer Prize winner
90
SEPTEMBER 2017
p90 News.indd 90
GLOBAL SF MARKET
Austen power
Bridging divides
BY GARY DALKIN
Seattle-based Aqueduct Press describes its aim as
?bringing challenging feminist science fiction to
the demanding reader? ? the highly regarded small
press has, among many others, published Suzy
McKee Charnas, Karen Joy Fowler, NK Jemsin,
Ursula K Le Guin, Gwyneth Jones, Tanith Lee,
Maureen McHugh, Nnedi Okorafor, Nisi Shawl
and Lisa Tuttle. Men are welcome to submit as
long as their material relates to feminism in a
positive way. The press has published work by Kim Stanley Robinson,
Geoff Ryman and others.
As well as feminist science fiction Aqueduct publishes works about
feminist SF, and other non-fiction likely to be of particular interest
to readers of the sub-genre. Managing editor Kathryn Wilham is
interested in seeing feminist science fiction novels of any length, as
well as original novellas, poetry, and non-fiction prose ranging from
20,000-35,000 words.
Submissions are strongly preferred as electronic files. Attach your
manuscript in one doc, docx or rtf file with a cover letter as a second
attachment including a brief introduction of yourself and your work
to date, including links to your website and/or other online locations
that showcase your work, and a synopsis, not more than two pages,
single-spaced. Send your submission to editor@aqueductpress.com
Full guidelines are at: www.aqueductpress.com
While you may submit complete novels or novellas, you are
requested to enquire first before sending non-fiction or fiction or
poetry collections. Email enquires to: info@aqueductpress.com
In June the Royal
Society of Literature
had a very special
fundraising auction
with a Jane Austen
theme. Items to bid
for ranged from
handwritten notes
specially penned for the auction ? Kazuo
Ishiguro on Mansfield Park, Sarah
Waters on Northanger Abbey, Jacqueline
Wilson on Pride and Prejudice ? to an
Austen cartoon by Posy Simmonds and
the chance to have Austen expert Claire
Harman or John Mullan as a guest at
your book club. Other items included
a weekend away in the heart of Jane
Austen?s Hampshire, Deborah Moggach?s
screenplay, complete with her own
annotations, for the 2005 feature film
adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, and a
signed first edition of Alexander McCall?s
retelling of Emma. There was also a live
auction with lots including Andrew
Davies? annotated TV script for Pride and
Prejudice, an original, handwritten short
story by Hilary Mantel based on the
same book, and the opportunity to have
tea with Austen expert Lucy Worsley.
Watching Big Brother
The latest stage adaptation of George Orwell?s Nineteen
Eighty-Four, co-written and co-directed by Robert Icke
and Duncan Macmillan, is literally making audiences
sick. The Washington Post headlined its story about
the US production ?Audiences of Broadway?s graphic
portrayal of ?1984? faint and vomit.? Vulture critic
Christopher Bonanos described the torture scenes as
?visceral, ghastly, and hair-raisingly vivid.?
The play stars Tom Sturridge and Olivia Wilde,
who reportedly both broke bones during the previews.
Macmillan told the Hollywood Reporter, ?We?re not trying
to be wilfully assaultive or exploitatively shock people,
but there?s nothing here or in the disturbing novel
that isn?t happening right now, somewhere around the
world: people are being detained without trial, tortured
and executed. We can sanitise that and make people
feel comforted, or we can simply present it without
� Julieta Cervantes, Hudson Theatre
FLASHES
commentary and allow it to speak for itself.?
The adaptation comes with the warning, ?This
production contains flashing lights, strobe effects, loud
noises, gunshots, smoking, and graphic depictions of
violence and torture. It is not suitable for children
under fourteen.?
Be prepared for Backlash
Backlash Press is an indie small press
publishing experimental work loosely
gathered as poetry or fiction, online, and then
in print form.
The editorial team believes that ?Society is
a woolly contrivance? and invites you to ?Take
it off and feel your own skin?. It wants strong,
courageous writing.
An annual collection of poetry, Backlash
Journal, is published quarterly online, then
in print, while Provoke Journal is a single
sequenced narrative in prose, usually fiction.
Submit through the website. No reprints
or multiple or sim subs. Send the first ten
pages of a poetry collection or a novel or
three poems for the editors to consider.
Include a title page and page numbers on the
manuscript. Payment and rights are discussed
on acceptance.
Website: www.backlashpress.com
www.writers-online.co.uk
25/07/2017 12:04
WRITERS? NEWS
UK BOOK MARKET
Be serious about Scribe
BY TINA JACKSON
Independent publisher Scribe Books is a trade publishing
house based in Melbourne and London ? we recently
announced an open submissions window for its children?s
imprint, Scribble (WM, July). It publishes literary fiction and
serious non-fiction; around 65 titles each year in Australia
and forty in the UK.
Scribe Books currently has an open submission window
until the end of September.
Non-fiction writers who are not represented should
have a background in writing for general readers (ie
previous books published by trade publishers, newspaper or
magazine journalism).
Unrepresented fiction writers should have a track record
of publication (ie, books published by trade publishers, short
stories in literary magazines, won prizes or awards for their
writing or have commendations from published authors).
Submissions should be full-length literary fiction or serious
non-fiction titles aimed at adult readers.
To submit, send the manuscript, or sample chapters if you
prefer, an estimate of the final word count and completion
date if it is still a work in progress, and a writer?s CV and/or
summary of your previous publication/awards/ recognition.
Include everything in a single doc or pdf and send it as an
email attachment with the title of the work and whether it is
a fiction or non-fiction submission in the subject line. Only
submissions made by email will be accepted.
Details: email: submissions@scribepub.com.au; website:
https://scribepublications.com.au/
Tales of the city
The London Short Story Prize, run by writer development agency
Spread the Word, is inviting entries for this year?s competition.
The competition is for original, unpublished short stories
up to 5,000 by London writers. The winner will receive
�000 and their story will be published in print and online
by Open Pen. The winner, two highly commended and three
shortlisted stories will be published in the London Short Story
Prize anthology published by Kingston University Press, and
the commended and shortlisted writers paid for publication.
Stories must be original and unpublished, and may be on
any theme. Manuscripts should be double spaced and the
writer?s name must not appear on the manuscript. Writers
may be published or unpublished, but must have a London
postcode to enter.
Stories may be entered by post or through the online submission
system. Postal entrants should download and complete an entry
form There is an entry fee of �per story. Postal entrants, pay this
by cheques made out to Spread the Word.
The closing date is 9 October.
Details: Spread the Word, The Albany, Douglas Way,
London SE8 4AG; website: www.spreadtheword.org.uk/
london-short-story-prize-2017/
Generous benefactor
for new translators
The Society of Authors has announced a new
prize for debut literary translation, the TA First
Translation Prize.
The new award has been established by translator
Daniel Hahn, who donated half his winnings from the
2017 International Dublin Literary Award to endow it.
?Obviously, I?m as broke as the next translator, but the prize pot of
the IDLA is so generous that even half of it is a sizeable amount to
keep; so, I?m giving the other half to support the first few years of a new
prize, which will be run by the Society of Authors,? said Daniel. ?The
translation profession has changed tremendously in the last decade or so,
and to my mind overwhelmingly for the better, but it remains a difficult
one for newcomers to break into, so the new prize will be for a debut
literary translation, and it will be shared between the translator and his/
her editor. So, it?s recognising new talent in the translation profession,
but also those editors who take a chance on a debut and then work
with them to make them better ? a role we all depend on, but don?t
acknowledge often enough.?
The new TA First Translation Prize will be for works first published
between April 2016 and March 2017, and will open to entries in August.
Website: www.societyofauthors.org
Indies unite
Brighton-based independent publisher Myriad Editions has merged with
independent, non-profit media co-operative New Internationalist, based in Oxford.
Myriad Editions will continue to publish under its own imprint, with
Candida Lacey and Corinne Pearlman remaining publishing and creative
directors respectively.
Candida Lacey, Myriad?s publishing director said: ?It is an opportunity
to grow to a new level with partners whose ethos and belief in independent
publishing ties in with ours. New Internationalist supports our mission
to discover and publish exceptional literary and artistic authors and bold,
game-changing books, and will help us reach a wider, more diverse and
global readership for our authors.?
New Internationalist has over forty years? history as a publisher with a
political mission ?to tell the stories that no one else is reporting?. They have
raised over �0,000 through an innovative community share offer.
Myriad?s bestselling authors include crime writers Elizabeth Haynes
and Lesley Thompson, winners of Authors? Club Best First Novel Award
Jonathan Kemp and Ben Johncock, and graphic authors Kate Evans,
Darryl Cunningham and Una.
Myriad supports emerging authors through two work-in-progress
competitions.
Website: www.myriadeditions.com
Hooray for heritage poems
You can win a heritage break in Newark in the Inspired
by Newark & Sherwood Poetry Competition, organised
by Visit Newark & Sherwood.
The poems will be posted on social media. The writer
whose poem receives the most likes, and a guest, will
spend at night at Millgate B&B and have a � voucher
towards the cost of a meal for two at The Ram Bar and
Brasserie. The winner will be given a cruise along the
River Trent and passes for the National Civil War Centre.
To enter, send poems up to sixteen lines inspired by
one of eight historical landmarks. Poems may be emailed
or posted on the Facebook page, @visitnewarksherwood
The closing date is 31 August.
Details: email: tourism.support@newark-sherwooddc.gov.uk; website:
http://writ.rs/newarksherwoodcomp
www.writers-online.co.uk
p90 News.indd 91
SEPTEMBER 2017
91
25/07/2017 12:05
WRITERS? NEWS
FLASHES
In the Moment
magazine is a
new wellbeing,
creativity and
mindfulness
magazine from
the same stable as
Mollie Makes.
Details: email: julie.
taylor@immediate.
co.uk; website:
www.molliemakes.
com
Keeley Rodgers,
former assistant
news editor, Oxford
Mail and Oxford
Times, has become
editor of Group
Leisure & Travel
magazine.
Bestselling crime
author Peter
James accepted an
invitation to guestedit his local daily
newspaper the
Brighton Argus
A survey of nearly
2,000 people
on behalf of the
Royal Society of
Literature found
that despite
81 percent of
respondents
saying they ?liked
literature because
it promotes
empathy?,only
seven percent of
the 400 writers
they cited were
from black, Asian
or minority ethnic
backgrounds, the
Guardian reported.
Bahrain shut
down Al-Wasat,
the country?s
only independent
newspaper, Human
Rights Watch
(HRW)爎eported.
?I was brought up
in an educational
system in which
you were led to
believe that all of
the books had been
written and your
job was to work
through them.?
Bret Anthony
Johnston, director
of creative writing,
Harvard University
92
SEPTEMBER 2017
p92 News/ Zine.indd 92
GLOBAL SPECFIC MARKET
Dive in
GARY DALKIN
Trouble the Waters: Tales from the
Deep Blue is a new anthology
of water-themed speculative
short stories that explore all
kinds of water lore and deities,
ancient and new. The book
will be edited by Sheree Ren閑
Thomas, Pan Morigan, and
Troy L Wiggins for Rosarium
Publishing.
The editors want original
stories with memorable,
engaging characters, great
and small, epic tales and
quieter stories of personal and
communal growth. Science
fiction, fantasy, horror, interstitial, and unclassifiable works
are welcome. Thomas, Morigan and Wiggins say, ?All over
the world, in cultures young and old, water is life and from
this force, great adventures, quests, and legacies begin.
And whether it is still, moves, rises, or falls, water fills us.
Imagine what stories and strange tales can be told from the
depths of its depths.?
Rosarium, founded in 2013, believes that talent does not
inherently have a race, religion, or region; that there is no talent
solely found in X or Y chromosome. They like stories that are
crazy, wild, provocative, but they also like to chill, and there?s
never a moment you won?t find them laughing.
Word count is 2,500-7,000. Payment is 6� per word.
Exceptional reprints may be considered at 2� per word. No
simultaneous submissions. Deadline is 1 November, for
publication November 2018. Submit doc, docx or rtf files to:
TroubletheWaters2018@gmail.com
Full guidelines: http://rosariumpublishing.com/troublethe-waters-submissions.html
Shoot for success
Shooter literary magazine is
inviting entries for the 2017
Shooter Poetry Competition.
The competition is for
arresting, sharply observed
poetry in any theme or style, up
to 125 lines. The winner will
receive �0 and be published
in print and online. The runnerup will receive � and online
publication. All entrants will
receive an e-copy of Shooter?s
winter issue.
To enter, send poems by email
as a doc, docx, rtf or pdf attachment. The poet?s name must
not appear on the manuscript. Include your name and the
poem titles in the body of the submission email.
The entry fee is �per poem, or three poems for � This
is payable by PayPal.
The closing date is 19 November.
Details: email: competition.shooterlitmag@gmail.com;
website: https://shooterlitmag.com/
Take a shot
Buckshot Magazine is a new, soon to be
launched weekly online and print flash
fiction magazine based in Canada but with
an editorial team based around the globe.
International submissions are welcome. It is
looking for stories of 500-2,000 words, in
every style and genre except erotica, with an
emphasis on shorter pieces. Stories should be
vivid, engaging and in good taste; no excessive
gore, sex or crude language, fan fiction or
hate speech.
Payment is Can$35 for non-exclusive digital
rights, first print rights and non-exclusive one
time anthology rights.
Send your submission as a doc, docx,
rtf or pdf file, by email to: submissions@
buckshotmagazine.com with ?SUBMISSION
? (your story name)? in the subject line, or
with links to online storage, Dropbox, Google
Docs, etc. Include your name, story title
and word count in the body of your email.
Response time, around two weeks.
Please make no more than one submission
a week, though each submission can include
up to three stories. Full guidelines: https://
buckshotmagazine.com/submit. Email
enquires to: hello@buckshotmagazine.com
Fairytale quest
FairyTalez.com claims to be the largest
collection of fairy tales, folk tales, and stories
for children online. The site has recently
launched a self-publishing platform and in
conjunction with this is running a competition
to find the ?best new fairy tale?.
Submissions can come from anywhere ?
Fairytalez is very international, being run from
the US and Denmark, developed in Pakistan
and designed in Bulgaria.
Entries should be 300-5,000 words. There
are no entry fees or specific guidelines, other
than that each entry must be a new take on
the fairy tale genre, and must be suitable
for children. The winning story will receive
a $300 gift certificate for Amazon.com and
publication on FairyTalez.com.
To enter you will need to create a free
account then upload your story via the
guidelines page at: http://fairytalez.com
www.writers-online.co.uk
25/07/2017 12:06
WRITERS? NEWS
INTERNATIONAL
ZINE SCENE
Speculative fiction zine markets are
increasing in number, are successful enough
to produce print editions, and they pay.
Speculative fiction for most editors covers
standard SF, fantasy, horror, all the subgenres, and even imaginative stories of the
gods or the little people.
Lyonesse claims not to
be a magazine. It spurns
advertising, essays and
editorials and only
publishes stories, ?good,
fun, science fiction and
fantasy tales?. Stories
should be 3,00020,000 words, on any SF or fantasy topic. It
publishes stories weekly.
Submit work as a doc or
docx email attachment, to:
LyonesseSubmissions@silverempire.org
Response time is ?quick?. Payment is a share of
60% of subscription fees
Website: https://lyonesse.silverempire.org
Unnerving Magazine is
a Canadian magazine of
horror, dark SF, dark fantasy
and dark literary short
stories as well as reviews and
interviews. The editorial
preference is towards horror,
bizarro is okay if not ?too far
gone?, but no hard SF, sword
and sorcery fantasy, erotica,
romance, humour that isn?t
sinister, or nonsensical experiments.
Sim subs are welcome but not multiple
subs or reprints. Story lengths change each
issue but are usually 400-4,000 words. Submit
in docx, doc or odt through the website:
www.unnervingmagazine.com
Response time is up to six months;
payment is Can1� per word, for three
months? exclusivity from publication date
and non-exclusive print-on-demand rights
for five years.
Red Room Magazine
is a new zine
specialising in
horror fiction and
non-fiction, reviews,
articles, interviews.
Fiction should be ?dark, disturbing, extreme
horror and dark crime stories... well plotted,
and not just gore for gore?s sake?, up to 4,000
words. Author interviews and articles about
horror should be no longer than 1,000 words,
reviews 400-600 words.
Submit in rtf or doc format by email:
redroom@cometpress.us
Response times average 2-4 weeks. $30
is the max payment for non-fiction, 3� per
word for fiction, up to $120 max.
Website: http://cometpress.us/redroom/
Albedo Two: Fiction
Showcase is the zine
form of the wellestablished Irish print
magazine, Albedo One.
The editors ?are always
looking for thoughtful,
well written fiction?
for both the print
and online versions.
This team has catholic
tastes where SF,
horror and fantasy are concerned and they
especially ?love to see material which pushes
at the boundaries?.
See the full guidelines on the website.
The zine is usually open to subs ?the first
month of every quarter, ie January, April,
July and October?.
Stories should be 2,500-8,000 words and
will be considered for the print mag and
website. No sim or multiple subs, or reprints.
Submit in rtf format by email: bobn@
yellowbrickroad.ie
Response time is 2-4 months. Payment is
?6 per 1,000 words, up to 8,000 words.
Website: www.albedo1.com
Bracken is a
quarterly of ?lyrical
fiction and poetry,
inspired by the wood
and what lies in
its shadows?, at the
magic realist end of
literary fantasy.
For fiction the
team wants ?lyrical,
character-driven
myths?, under 2,500
words, poems under
100 lines (up to four).
Submit work in the body of an email:
subs@brackenmagazine.com. Response
time is up to two months. Payment is $15
for a poem and 2� a word for fiction for
?first worldwide English-language serial and
electronic rights.?
Website: www.brackenmagazine.com
www.writers-online.co.uk
p92 News/ Zine.indd 93
BY PDR
LINDSAY-SALMON
Eternal Haunted Summer is all about pagan
songs and tales, a biannual ezine of original
poetry and short fiction about ?the Gods and
Goddesses and heroes of the world?s many
Pagan traditions?. It also publishes reviews,
interviews and essays.
Submissions open for the Winter Solstice
issue during October and November. They
accept any poetic form, any length, and all
short story genres, preferably shorter than
5,000 words.
Submit rtf, txt or doc files or pasted into
the body of an email: lyradora@yahoo.com
Response time is ?usually ten days?. Payment
is a flat rate of $5.
Website:
https://eternalhauntedsummer.com
Empyreome is an online
quarterly of SF, fantasy and
other speculative fiction. It
needs original short fiction of
under 10,000 words, preferably
under 7,000 words, and flash
fiction of up to 1,000 words for
the Weekly Flash Series.
Submit rtf, doc or docx files
by email: empyreome@gmail.com
Response time is ?at least four weeks?.
Payment is 1� per four words; stories under
400 words receive $1 for first world English
rights and first electronic rights.
Website: http://empyreome.com
Typewriter
Emergencies is a
new ?journal of
furry literature?
for writers who love animals and
anthropomorphic stories
It publishes short stories, flash fiction,
book reviews, movie reviews, interviews,
articles, poetry.
Submit doc or docx files through the
website. Sim subs are accepted, multiple subs
and reprints are not. Short stories should
be no more than 2,500 words, articles and
reviews 1,000 words. Response time is
?reasonable.? Payment is 1� per word.
Website: www.weaselpress.com/
typewriteremergencies
SEPTEMBER 2017
93
25/07/2017 13:27
WRITERS? NEWS
FLASHES
New Forest Living
Magazine is a
lifestyle publication
edited by Sally
Thomson and
freely distributed
in the area.
Website:
www.newforest
livingmag.co.uk/
LivingEtc is a
leading modern
homes magazine.
The editor is
Suzanne Imre.
Website: www.
idealhome.co.uk/
livingetc
The Bournemouth
Echo revived
historic titles when
it announced
the launch of the
Bournemouth
Herald and the
Poole Herald, last
published in the
1980s, to replace
the Bournemouth
Advertiser and
Poole Advertiser .
The Crime Writers?
Association?s
Dagger Awards
Dinner, when
winners will be
announced, take
place on 26 Oct at
the Grange City
Hotel, London.�
Johnston Press
announced
that that the
Hemel Express,
Berkhamsted &
Tring Gazette and
Hemel Hempstead
Gazette had
merged to form the
Hemel Hempstead
Gazette&燛xpress,
Press Gazette said.
?Books are many
things: lullabies for
the weary, ointment
for the wounded,
armour for the
fearful and nests for
those in need of a
home.?
Glenda Gillard,
quoted on the
Goodwill Librarian
website
94
SEPTEMBER 2017
p94 News/Travel writing.indd 94
UK NON-FICTION MARKET
Get developed with Panoma
BY TINA JACKSON
Panoma Press is a independent publisher of business and
personal development books, as well as some life stories.
?Most of our authors are business professionals and
business owners, and we have published many coaches,
consultants, trainers and speakers, said founder and
managing director Mindy Gibbins-Klein.
?We founded the company in 2005 so that we
could offer a more personal and professional service
to authors. I was running The Book Midwife and I
was sending my graduates to publish their books with
other publishers. Some of them were okay, but some
were not, and my co-founder and I knew we could
do a better job for authors. I have a strong belief that
every book deserves to be written and published, but
I wanted to give more first-time authors the chance to
get it all done to an excellent standard, rather than just
getting the book into print.?
Panoma Press publishes around 30 to 35 titles each
year. ?We tend to publish books that are substantial
yet friendly. We don?t tend to publish books with an
academic style or tone. If the author has written from
the heart about his or her
experience, expertise or life
story, it?s worth a chat.?
There are two publishing
models at Panoma: traditional
and co-publishing. ?Where
we are investing in the book,
we look for authors who are
credible experts in their field,
people who are known, who
Submissions from Scotland
Writers living in Scotland or who are Scots by birth,
upbringing or inclination are invited to submit work to the
New Writing Scotland 36 publication. It does not matter
whether you write poetry, fiction, political and cultural
commentary or satire, drama, screenplays, autobiography
or memoir, creative responses to events and experiences,
non fiction or other creative prose, all submissions will
be welcome and can be written in any of the languages of
Scotland.
Self-contained extracts or novels or other long works are
also welcome but not complete works as the recommended
maximum word length is 3,500 words. No submission
should have been previously published or accepted for
publication.
Submissions must be typed/printed on single sides of
paper marked with your name and stapled in the top left
hand corner. Double space prose submissions and include
a word count. Also include a cover letter with your name
and address.
Submit your work before the closing date of 30
September with a stamped addressed postcard if you would
like acknowledgment of receipt and a SAE if you would
like your work returned.
Details: ASLS, Department of Scottish Literature, 7
University Square, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12
8QH; website: http://asls.gla.ac.uk/NWSsubs.html
have a personal brand of some kind. They should
have a good presence on one or more social media
platforms and a decent following,? said Mindy. ?If we
don?t think we can invest in a project, we may offer
different co-investment options to the author.?
Mindy recently won a bronze award at the
Excellence in Business: Women of the Year awards
for her successful turnaround of Hertfordshirebased Panoma. ?We have already begun to go
global in a big way! We have sales, distribution
and licensing arrangements in over fifty countries
worldwide, and we are starting to attract more
authors outside of the UK.?
Prospective authors should send an initial email with a
one- to two-paragraph pitch (no attachments).
Panoma Press publishes in print and ebook formats,
and in some cases, audiobooks. A traditional publishing
deal with Panoma Press pays royalties.
Details: email: publishing@panomapress.com;
website: www.panomapress.com
Malevolent Soap
A new Australian annual
print and online magazine,
Malevolent Soap is a nonprofit journal of poetry and
fiction edited by Felix Garner
Davis.
Based in Melbourne, Felix
and his team are happy
to publish quality writing
from around the world. In true Australian fashion
?Anything goes,? but the team likes ?imagistic work
that explores intersections of ?high? and ?low? culture.?
It likes to ?champion concrete aesthetics, reference,
fusion and oddity.?
Issue one is due out in September. Submit
up to five pieces of poetry or flash fiction, or
one piece of long fiction. Writers worldwide are
welcome, especially those addressing ?issues from an
underrepresented pocket of society?.
Submit a doc file through the website. Response
time is ?reasonable?. Payment is Aus$20 per published
piece in exchange for exclusive first print and
electronic rights, which revert after two months.?
Details: email: asuh@malevolentsoap.com;
website: https://malevolentsoap.com
www.writers-online.co.uk
25/07/2017 12:08
GLOBAL MEN?S MAGAZINE
G
TR
L W RI
E
T
V
IN
A
WRITERS? NEWS
BY PDR LINDSAY-SALMON
In the footsteps of great writers
A new thirteen-mile trail named The
Writers? Way has been developed by
Hampshire County Council and East
Hampshire District Council. It takes
you around some of the countryside
which would have been familiar to
author Jane Austen, nature and wildlife
writer the Reverend Gilbert White who
is said to have transformed the way
we think about the natural world today, and William Cobbett, who
described the area in his book Rural Rides.
On the trail you can visit the Jane Austen House Museum in
Chawton where the author lived and wrote her six novels, and call in
at the nearby Curtis Museum in Alton, which has a Jane Austen trail
highlighting the sights which might have been familiar to her and
inspired her.
You can also visit Gilbert White?s House in Selborne where in the
1700s the Reverend immersed himself in observing and systematically
recording the birds, animals, plants and weather he encountered and
wrote about in his influential book The Natural History and Antiquities
of Selborne.
William Cobbett lived in nearby Farnham and was an active
campaigner for better living conditions for rural families. As research,
and also inspired by Gilbert White?s book, he took long countryside
rides on horseback, which he wrote about in his book.
Whether taking in the literary or historical connections, the
Watercress Line Steam Railway is also on the route, or whether you are
just walking or cycling for reflective or inspirational reasons that might
lead to writing your next fiction or non fiction piece, the trail could
have much to offer any writer.
For a downloadable leaflet giving full details of the trail see the
website: www.hants.gov.uk/writersway
www.writers-online.co.uk
p94 News/Travel writing.indd 95
N
K
BULL: Men?s Fiction, is an American
print and online magazine edited by men
for men. It is dedicate to ?examining
and discussing modern masculinity:
what works, what doesn?t, what needs to
change and what needs to go?.
It publishes fiction and essays that
?engage that conversation from every
angle?. The essays are quite thought
provoking. For fiction the team seeks
?stories of exemplary masculinity,
cautionary tales, accounts from every
possible perspective and persuasion?.
Read the back issues at the website.
There is a wide selection of reading
matter ranging from the basic jock male
story to some fascinating, different views of masculinity.
The magazine is almost exclusively fiction. Submissions are
considered for both the BULL website and print magazine. Note
that most of all work accepted from general submissions is first
accepted for the web. The annual print selections are ?often picked
from that season?s web acceptances. The website has just as much
audience as the print magazine. Submit fiction, essays, interviews,
and column submissions through the online submission manager.
Follow the instructions and don?t forget full contact details.
Response time is ?typically within three months?. Payment and
rights by agreement.
Website: http://bullmensfiction.com
W
Take Bull by the horns
O W-H O
Another view
Patrick Forsyth links the sayings of others to
the emphasis you might give your writing.
T
here is something about a good, pithy
quotation that appeals to many people. It
is the succinctness of such things that give
them their appeal, the summing up of a
broad thought in a very few words. While
it does not do to overuse them, there are some kinds of
writing in which the occasional quotation adds usefully: ?I
always have a quotation for everything ? it saves original
thinking? ? (Dorothy L Sayers).
They can be useful in other ways too.
Reading an apt quotation can put a particular slant
on something that can help your writing and take
you in a particular, and perhaps different, direction.
So far, so general. How does this affect travel writing?
There is no lack of good quotations linked to travel,
for example I love this: ?She went up the Nile as far
as the first crocodile? ? (Samuel Butler). Indeed it was
seeing this in a lovely book, Off the Beaten Track ? a
traveller?s anthology compiled by Laura Stoddart (Orion
Publishing), which prompted this column. That
quotation set me thinking: avoidance of crocodiles (at
least up close) seems pretty sensible, indeed avoidance
might be a theme that would enliven many a piece of
travel writing, prompting thoughts of raucous children
on flights, Ryanair, and more.
Other examples might be: ?The nasty, damp, dirty,
slippery, boot-destroying, shin breaking, veritable
mountain! Let me recommend my friends to let it
alone.? (Anthony Trollope); this might set you thinking
that however much a place is to be favoured, there may
be some things or places there that deserve a warning.
There is a Chinese proverb which says: ?He who returns
from a journey is not the same as he who left.? Yes, travel
affects us all in a great many ways, but more is written
about reactions felt at the time than later. Stephen Fry
reminds us of the discomforts of travel: ?At my age
travel broadens the behind.? And then there is advice to
travellers, this from 1908: ?Always wear corsets, to leave
off wearing them at any time for the sake of coolness is
a huge mistake: there is nothing so fatiguing as to lose
one?s ordinary support.? (Constance Larymore). Clothes
may sometimes be worth a mention (the outdoor wear
company Rohan emailed me recently about clothes
impregnated with insect repellent; I?m not sure I knew
such a thing existed).
Finally, let me end with a quotation that reminds us
of the people we might meet, and report on and quote,
along the way. I suggested she took a trip around the
world. ?Oh, I know,? returned the lady, yawning with
ennui, ?but there are so many other places I want to see
first.? Moral: wherever you go and whatever you see,
people are always going to surprise, amaze or amuse you.
JUNE 2017
95
25/07/2017 12:08
WRITERS? NEWS
FLASHES
WattsWhat
Magazine, a
new biannual
men?s lifestyle
publication,
will launch in
September with
David M Watts as
editor in chief.
Website: https://
wattswhat
magazine.com
Amnesty
International
York Group is
inviting entries
up to 1,700 words
on the theme
of ?Borders? for
its short story
competition. The
winner will get
� and online
publication.
The entry fee
is �and the
closing date is 10
December.
Website: http://
yorkamnestyuk.
blogspot.co.uk/
The new
Granada Writers
in Residence
Programme is
offering a month?s
stay in Granada
for two writers
aged between
25 and 45 who
have published
at least one book.
Applications close
on 10 September.
Website:
http://writ.rs/
granadawriters
inresidence
Colm T骾b韓 has
been awarded
the Dayton
Literary Peace
Prize?s Richard
C Holbooke
Distinguished
Achievement
Award, given for
literature that
fosters peace,
social justice
and global
understanding.
?There is no friend
as loyal as a book.?
Ernest
Hemingway,
quoted on
Bookish Buzz
website
96
SEPTEMBER 2017
p96 News.indd 96
GLOBAL CHILDREN?S
MARKET
Engaging activities wanted
BY JENNY ROCHE
Features on activities for children
are wanted for the US Spider and
Ladybug magazines. The former is for
children aged 3-6 years and the latter
for children aged 6-9 years. Activities
include crafts, games, science
experiments and recipes. Each
activity should be clearly worded,
have an engaging narrative, playful
step-by-step directions and be 1-4
pages long. ?The strongest activities
will engage a child?s imagination and
creativity, can be done at home and
require little adult supervision,? say
guidelines.
The magazines are also looking for
word games, jokes, tongue twisters,
riddles, picture-based crosswords and
foreign language activities.
Payment rates for activities
and recipes are a flat rate of $75 and vary for other
submissions.
The deadline for submissions is 30 September and
it is recommended you familiarise yourself with the
magazines before submitting. You can check out a
sample issue online. Submit a complete MSS as a doc,
docx, txt or rtf file and include a word count and your
contact information. Submit through the website: www.
cricketmedia.com
Submissions go through several reading stages before
acceptance and writers are involved in all stages of any
editing required. You should gain a response to your
submission within 3-6 months.
Book Talk BY JOHN JENSEN
I believe all humour is based on
aggression. The practical joke is invariably
aggressive. Satire, of course, is always so.
Satire might seek to banish aggression
among nations or local councillors or
whoever, but it uses aggression as part
of its arsenal. Even what used to be
known as ?good humour? is not without
an element of jeering. In the old days
?knobbly knee? competitions encouraged
people to make fools of themseves,
nowadays they are enouraged to do daft
things on public participation shows
nationwide. Even worldwide. Then their
daftness lives forever on Facebook. Radio
and TV comedians are expected to make
jokes that are preferably politically correct,
and even then danger lurks because one
person?s political correctness is another
person?s unforgiveable affront. Worse
though is aggression stripped of all
humour. For the comic or the cartoonist
political correctness is like being lost on
a High Street where all the shops have
closed and everybody has gone home
except, hidden by curtains, on the top
floor of every building violent people are
watching with fingers twitching on triggers
or keyboards. Too many people seek out
comedy acts in order be offended and
once offended they Tweet like mad and a
New lines
trivial so-called offence goes viral out of
all proportion. My first novel was a going
Geometry Literary Journal is a new international
literary endeavour based in New Zealand, wanting
outstanding literature from NZ and worldwide to
publish in print and online.
Work is welcomed from established and emerging
writers. There are no limitations on style or content.
The editors seek ?fresh voices? diversity, and work
which captivates and challenges?.
Geometry publishes literary fiction, nonfiction,
graphic narrative, art and poetry. Work must be
original, unpublished, literary work; no genre stories,
reprints, multiple or sim subs. Stories and creative
non-fiction should be under 8,000 words and poems,
no more than four, should be under fifty lines.
Submit all work online through the submissions
manager. Include your entire submission in one file,
and be sure your name and contact information are
included on the first page of the file. Response time
is 2-4 months. Payment is NZ$10-$50 for poetry and
NZ1-3� per word for fiction and non-fiction, plus
one free copy.
Website: www.geoliterary.com
to be a satire, but I?ve shelved it. In fact
I?ve quit writing. I?ve decidied to take up
nuclear physics instead. It?s safer.
www.writers-online.co.uk
25/07/2017 12:09
WRITERS? NEWS
UK MAGAZINE MARKET
Watch the birdie
BY TINA JACKSON
Bird Watching, edited
by Matt Merritt, is the
UK?s best-selling bird
watching magazine.
?We?re generally
focussed on British
bird watching, aimed
at the beginner end of
the market, rather than
the hardcore twitchers,?
said Matt. ?Our readers
often combine bird
watching with walking or
gardening. We?re kind of
enthusiastic but low-key.?
Readers tend to be
forty-plus, and roughly two thirds male. ?Over the
years it?s become more of an even split ? it?s anyone
with an interest in watching wild birds. What I enjoy
most is that readers tend to see it almost as a club, not
a magazine ? it?s a tight little community,? said Matt.
Bird Watching?s content blends expert advice with
inspirational nature writing. ?We have a regular ?what
to watch this month? section, which is very practical.
And a sightings section, and walks section. Beyond
that we tend to run species profiles, travel content,
scientific and slightly technical stuff as well, with
conservation issues surrounding specific birds.?
A good feature for Bird Watching will include a
personal element. ?Our readers appreciate expert help
and comment, but they like to feel they could find
this bird themselves,? said Matt. ?All of our features
have quite a personal angle, and an inspirational
element ? and good, emotive writing as well as
technical information.?
Bird Watching features include familiar birds as well
as more unusual ones. ?It?s not got to be about rare
birds ? a lot of the best features we have are the ones
that give you a new slant on something quite familiar.
Finding out something you didn?t know about quite
commonplace birds.? Good nature writing is a difficult
balance, says Matt. ?You need technical accuracy but
you want to make people go out and watch birds. It?s
that inspirational aspect we?re looking for.?
Matt?s happy to hear from interested writers. ?We?re
open to pretty much any suggestions for freelance
contributions. The main features and walks ? we?re
always looking for more of them!? In the first
instance, Matt asks people to get in touch by email
with a brief synopsis. ?I?ll get back to them with a
detailed brief if I?m interested.?
Writers who can supply pictures are always
appreciated. Main features are usually between 1,200
and 2,000 words, but can go up to 3,500. ?We also do
little 500-word pieces, which are often conservationrelated, from people on the ground, close to the issue.?
Payment is �0 for a single page, and up to �0
for a multi-page feature.
Details: email: matthew.merritt@bauermedia.
co.uk; website: www.birdwatching.co.uk
The Wolf?s call
US micro-press WolfSinger publishes an online magazine,
The Lorelei Signal, short novels and anthologies.
For novels the preferred genres are science fiction and
fantasy but other adult fiction genres are accepted. YA is
also accepted but preferably at the older end, aimed at
late teens and young adults. The minimum word count
is 25,000 and the preferred maximum word count is
80,000 words.
Put your full contact details on the first page of
the manuscript and save the file as an rtf document.
Submit by email and in the body of the email include
again full contact details, the title, an approximate word count, the
genre, a brief synopsis of the story and some ideas for marketing and
promoting the book.
WolfSinger anthologies are usually quirky. Currently open for subs is
Tales From the Fluffy Bunny, for ?Fantasy stories that feature your main
character telling a tale about how they or their weapon earned their name.?
Writers are asked to imagine the setting as an
adventurer?s bar where the MC is propped
up enthralling the bar patrons with his yarn.
Humour is welcome and all stories need to
begin with ?This is my tale??. Writers are
encouraged to break the story-writing rules, and
add an original twist to familiar plotlines.
No multiple or sim subs; query for reprints.
Stories, 1,000-7,500 words, plus flash fiction,
must be suitable for a PG-13 rating.
Submit an rtf file by email by 30 September.
The online quarterly The Lorelei Signal
publishes fantasy stories involving threedimensional female characters. Editor Carol
Hightshoe is happy to see complex male
characters as well but ?balance is the key?.
Females should rescue themselves! Stories need
to be under 10,000 words. Submissions reopen
in October.
Response time is slow. The advance is $50 for
print books, $5 for each anthology contributor,
both plus royalties, and a flat $7.50 for Lorelei
Signal contributions.
Details:
email: Editor@wolfsingerpubs.com;
website: www.wolfsingerpubs.com
Writing workshops from Woman?s Weekly
There is a wider selection of one day writing workshops being introduced
this year by Woman?s Weekly magazine, where you can ?learn to write in a fun,
friendly and supportive atmosphere? with knowledgeable and experienced tutors.
All workshops will be held in London and cost � each with places being
available on a first-come-first-served basis.
Novelist, short story writer and journalist Della Galton will be tutoring
workshops on How to Make Your Characters Come Alive on 4 September and
How To Write a Novel on 2 October and 6 November.
Writing Magazine?s own Alison Chisholm will be showing you how to Write
Poetry for Competitions on 23 November. Woman?s Weekly serial writer Suzanne
Aherne will be tutoring a Creating Characters workshop on 9 October and
writer of over eighty books Anita Loughrey will be tutoring workshops in
Writing for Children on 16 October and Writing Picture Books on 23 October.
Website: http://writ.rs/womansweeklyfictionworkshops
www.writers-online.co.uk
p96 News.indd 97
SEPTEMBER 2017
97
25/07/2017 13:29
CLASSIFIED
ADVERTISE HERE Contact Daniel Batten
Tel: 01354 818010 or email: danielb@media-shed.co.uk
Box (min 3cm): � per single column cm for subscribers;
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Short Stories always required for
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Critique & Advisory
03/06/2015 16:31
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p098_wmseptember17.indd 98
www.writers-online.co.uk/register
www.writers-online.co.uk
25/07/2017 10:07
Competition rules and forms
To enter:
Enter online at www.writers-online.co.uk or by post, with the ref code in the address, to: Writing Magazine Competitions
(Ref Code xxxxx), Warners Group Publications, West Street, Bourne, Lincolnshire PE10 9PH. Remember to add a front sheet
with full contact details and the name of the competition you are entering (see Rule 3)
? Adult Fairytale Competition (see p31)
For fairytales for adult readers, 1,500-1,700 words; entry fee � �for subscribers; closing date, 15 October; Ref Code: Sep17/Fairytale
? Love Story Competition (see p31)
For love stories, 1,500-1,700 words; entry fee � �for subscribers; closing date, 15 September; Ref Code: Aug17/Love
? Ballad Poetry Competition
Any theme, ballad form; forty-line limit; entry fee � �for subscribers; closing date, 15 September; Ref Code: Aug17/BalladPoetry
? Subscriber-only Single Character Short Story Competition (see p57)
Short stories with only one character, 1,500-1,700 words; free entry, subscribers only; closing date, 15 Sept; Ref Code: Aug17/SingleCharacter
? Subscriber-only Food Short Story Competition (see p57)
Fiction, 1,500-1,700 words, any genre, in which food plays a key role; free entry; subscribers only; closing date, 15 October; Ref Code: Sep17/Food
? New Subscribers Competitions (see p57)
For fiction, 1,500-1,700 words, or poems, up to 40 lines, or one of each, any genre or theme, by a new subscriber to Writing Magazine; free entry;
subscribers only; closing date, 31 January 2018; Ref Code: Jan17/SSNewSub or Jan17/PoetryNewSub
How to enter
Competition Rules
Poetry Competition
Short Story Competition
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......................................................... .............................
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1 Eligibility
All entries must be the original and unpublished work of the
entrant, and not currently submitted for publication nor for any other
competition or award. Each entry must be accompanied by an entry
form, printed here (photocopies are acceptable), unless stated.
Open Competitions are open to any writer, who can submit as many
entries as they choose. Entry fees are � �for subscribers.
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per competition.
New Subscribers? Competitions are open only to those whose
subscriptions start during 2017. No entry form or fee is required.
Ref code .....................................and agree to be bound
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bound by the competition rules
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3 Manuscripts
Short stories: Entries must be typed in double spacing on single
sides of A4 paper with a front page stating your name, address, phone
number and email address, your story title and word count and the
name of the competition. Entries will be returned if accompanied by
sae. Electronic entries should be a single doc, docx, txt, rtf or pdf file
with the contact details, etc, on p1, and your story commencing on the
second page.
Poetry manuscripts: Entries must be typed in single spacing with
double spacing between stanzas on single sides of A4. Entrant?s name,
address, telephone number and email address must be typed on a
separate A4 sheet. Entries to poetry competitions cannot be returned.
Electronic entries should be a single doc, docx, txt, rtf or pdf file with
the contact details, etc, on p1, and your poem on the second page.
All manuscripts: Receipt of entries will be acknowledged if
accompanied by a suitably worded stamped and addressed postcard.
Entrants retain copyright in their manuscripts. You are advised not to
send the only copy of your manuscript. Enclose an sae if you want your
manuscript to be returned.
4 Competition Judging
Competition judges will be appointed by Writing Magazine and the
judges? decision will be final with no correspondence being entered into.
5. Notification
Winners will be notified within two months of closing date after which
date unplaced entries may be submitted elsewhere. Winning entries
may not be submitted elsewhere for twelve months after that date
without permission of Writing Magazine who retain the right to publish
winning entries in any form during those twelve months
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www.writers-online.co.uk
JULY 2015
107
25/07/2017 12:12
M Y W R I T I N G DAY
JOHN
MARRS
Writing
My
day
It?s a hectic writing day for the magazine journalist and
novelist, he tells Lynne Hackles
?A
typical writing day
for me isn?t the
calm, collected and
serene experience
many authors
favour,? says John Marrs. ?I live in
Northamptonshire but commute
to London each day where my fulltime job is as a journalist, writing for
publications including S Magazine,
TV Life and OK! Magazine. So I?m
up at 6.20 each weekday and begin
my parallel career as an author once I
grab a seat on the train. Then I have
from 8.05am until 9.10am to type
as much as my brain and fingertips
will allow. With no wi-fi on the train
and my noise-reducing headphones
placed firmly upon my ears, there are
surprisingly few distractions.
?When I embark on a new novel,
I set myself the challenge to write a
minimum of 1,000 words a day. It?s
a very do-able figure and sometimes,
if I?m in the right frame of mind, I?ll
go way beyond that limit. Even on a
bad day, when what I write is utter
drivel, to get that drivel down on a
page is still an accomplishment. The
more interesting side to writing a book
comes with the next draft.
?I?ll be in the office by 9.40, eat a
yoghurt and a blueberry muffin and
sift through my emails. I?ll check
my Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
accounts and try to resist ? but often
fail ? reading reviews of my books
on Amazon.
?My day job is to interview
celebrities. They are from all walks of
showbiz life. For example, last week
I interviewed a The Only Way Is Essex
cast member in the morning and then
Dame Joan Collins in the afternoon.
?I?ve been a journalist since I was
18 (I?m now 46) but I didn?t write
my first book, When You Disappeared,
until four years ago. That and my
100
SEPTEMBER 2017
p100 My Writing Day.indd 100
second novel, Welcome To Wherever
You Are, were self-published, but my
most recent, The One, was picked
by up by Ebury label, Del Rey and
published the traditional way.
?The One is a multi-character
psychological thriller, and two
characters in particular took some
research. One is a psychopath who
falls in love, so I looked into how
a psychopathic mind works when
it comes to relationships. I also
had to research police procedure in
investigating multiple murders and
found a DNA expert to help make the
impossible sound possible.
?I?ll take lunch in the office canteen
around 2pm, where I?ll give myself
another hour to work on my book.
Then, when my journalism day is
over, I?ll be on the 6pm train home for
another hour of writing.
?I try to avoid working during the
evening unless a deadline looms. Even
then, I?ll give myself a cut-off point of
finishing no later than 9pm.
?Many writers will probably find
my way of doing things extremely
disjointed, but I?ve done it this way
for four books now. I also don?t write
methodically. I?ll start in the middle,
jump forwards or backwards or
sometimes write the end before the
beginning. It keeps my interest more
than writing any other way.
?When I do take time off my day job,
I?ll write solidly from around 7.30am
until 7.30pm, the only interruptions
coming from a dog who wants to be
walked and my partner returning home
from work. But I think I?d struggle to
maintain that regime every day of the
week. I?m too easily distracted.
?In an ideal world, my perfect day
of writing would be to begin around
3pm, as I?m a better writer from midafternoon until midnight. But those
kinds of days are a rarity.
?My partner, also called John, and
I married last year so it?s important
to me not to spend my entire life in
front of a keyboard with imaginary
characters running around my head.
I?ll devote two or three hours on a
Saturday and Sunday to writing, and
the rest I?ll spend with him, family
or friends.
?I spend quite a bit of my time
on social media interacting with
readers. Members of online book
clubs like Facebook?s THE Book
Club have been an incredible
support to my second career.
?I?ll go to bed around 10.30pm and
as I drift off to sleep, I?ll think about
whatever book I?m working on. My
fourth, tentatively called The Good
Samaritan, is with my book editor
and won?t be out until next year. Now
I?m plotting out book five. I come
up with some of my best stories just
as I?m falling asleep. Luckily I always
remember them in the morning.?
Twitter: @johnmarrs1
MY WRITING PLACE
?When not stuck on a train, writing, I use the office at
home. It has a desk, custom made from former roof
beams, a pitched ceiling with two velour windows and
floor-to-ceiling shelves which house my books, CDs,
LPs and knick-knacks. My house is around 130 years
old, but my office is in a recently built extension close
enough to the kitchen to keep myself regularly topped
up with snacks. My view from the window is of white
rose bushes, underneath which are lavender plants and
a rockery. In the summer and with the windows open,
it smells wonderful.?
www.writers-online.co.uk
25/07/2017 12:14
Clear a space in your writing diary ? it?s time for the
Writing Magazine Competition Special!
Details of over 200 competitions
to enter, with # of prize money,
right through to June 2018
A sneak peek at Writing Magazine?s
own competition programme, so
you can start planning your entries early
Read the winning
entries from special
Writing Magazine
competitions
DON?T MISS THE
OCTOBER ISSUE OF
ON
SALE
7 SEPT
WRITERS? NEWS
WRITERS? NEW
S
competitions, paying markets,
Your essential monthly round-up of
industry news.
opportunities to get into print and publishing
PLUS
Reflect on that
landscape
BY TINA JACKSON
offers its winner and two
The Alpine Fellowship Writing Prize
Fellowship Annual
runners-up the chance to attend the Alpine will also be presented
winner
Symposium in Venice in August. The
with �000 by poet John Burnside (pictured).writing in response to
of
The prize will be given for the best piece
this is ?Chora: reflections on
the theme of the symposium. In 2017
Plato refers to the Chora as
landscape?. The AF17 website notes that
the event in which things take
??that which gives space? ? the site of
their shape.?
and writers may apply from
All genres of writing may be entered,
be original, and must never
anywhere in the world. All entries must
Send entries by email by 1 May
have been published in any medium.
subject line. Entry is free.
with the name of the prize in the email
in joining the symposium
? AF17 also invites people interested
from all walks of
(scholars, artists, poets, and also non-specialists theme. To apply,
this year?s
life) to send their ideas in response to
setting out how and why you
send a CV and a three-minute video
will cover the food and
would contribute to AF17. The Fellowship and might also be able
accommodation costs of successful applicantsThe deadline to apply
Venice.
to help with travel costs to and from
is 31 June.
Details: email: apply@alpinefellowship.com;
website: http://alpinefellowship.com/
have joined forces
The National Literacy Trust and Bloomsbury
competition for fairy tales
for The Short Story Prize 2017, a new
for children by unpublished writers.
aimed at children
Writers are invited to send short stories
tale a modern twist.
aged 8-12 that give a well-known fairy
by Bloomsbury in an
The winning entries will be published
be donated to the National
ebook anthology whose royalties will
chosen stories will each
Literacy Trust, and the writers of the
win �0.
and 4,000 words.
Short stories should be between 2,000
synopsis themed around
Writers should also include a 350-word
re-imagining fairy tales.
template, which
Submit entries by email, using the official
their submission fee. Type
will be sent to entrants on receipt of
The writer?s name
manuscripts in 12pt Arial, double-spaced.
must not appear on the manuscript.
There is a submission fee of �.
The closing date is 25 June.
website:
Details: email: fundraise@literarytrust.org.uk;
hort-story-prize-2017
www.literacytrust.org.uk/support/s
Penguin-Random House?s
digital-only imprint
of mystery and thriller
control of all electronic
fiction, Alibi, publishes
and print
ebooks which are available
publishing rights.
retailers and compatible from all major
To submit, complete
with all reading devices.
the form on the website
The imprint aims to
with details of your
book, including title,
and up-and-coming offer ?forward thinking
genre, length, a short
authors? a solid platform
description, whether
on which to introduce
have a completed manuscript
you
and why your
audiences. All authors their work to new
book would be right
for this publisher, along
editor and a dedicated will be assigned to an
with a 1,500-word
extract. The form will
will be able to work marketer and publicist,
request a short bio
also
with
about
and offered social media a cover designer
on any publishing/writingyourself, information
tools and training to
history you may
connect directly with
have and if applicable,
readers.
your
Full length works
Authors have an option agent?s details.
of 40,000 words are
to choose a 50-50
wanted. Previously
profit share or more
published manuscripts
traditional model
will be considered
of
advance plus 25%
as long as you have
net.
Website: www.randomhous
ebooks.com/alibi
New comp
for newbies
Win a Virago contract
and �500 advance
Exit earth, enter storgy
Get creative for
Cymru
p88 News.indd 88
www.writers-online.co.uk
p88 News.indd
89
MAY 2017
89
23/03/2017 10:41
THE ONLY MAGAZINE THAT
GIVES YOU ALL THE WRITING
NEWS YOU CAN USE:
One true
sentence
We dig deep to explore what
Hemingway really meant with
one of the most frequently
quoted pieces of writing advice
DON?T MISS THE OCTOBER ISSUE, ON NEWSSTANDS 7 SEPTEMBER
OR SUBSCRIBE NOW AND GET IT EARLY!
Call 01778 392482 or visit
www.writers-online.co.uk
p101 next month.indd 109
BYJENNY ROCHE
The Virago/The Pool
The Michael Terence
New Crime
Publishing Short
Writer Award is inviting
or thriller novel consisting
Story
entries from
of a
debut women crime
5,000-word sample
writers.
and a 500-word
Virago, which has
synopsis of the plot
of the novel.
forefront of women?s been at the
Virago would hope
publishing since
that the prizeits foundation in
winning novel would
1973, has joined
be completed
up
with The Pool, a
within a year of winning.
be fiction, science
digital platform for
Aviator Pamphlet series.
fiction or
non-fiction (ie biography
Marks Publisher?s Award, and 2016?s
women, to find an
As Virago is an imprint
be selected and publishedare
or memoir). There
exceptional new
Twenty limited-edition pamphlets will
female crime writer
authors, the Virago/The for women
are welcome to submit. prizes of �0, �0 and �, and
for
Pool New
the
from this call. All poets working in English unpublished. Upload winning
The winner will be Virago.
Crime Writer Award
all
stories will be published
is only open to
in a print
publishing contract awarded a Virago
Pamphlets should be original and previously
women. Entry is
fee
and online.
system. There is a �anthology
with
free.
advance. The winning a �500
submissions through Eyewear?s Submittable
submit only one entry.Writers may
All entries must be
writer will also
original and unpublished
Double spaced
get two hours of mentoring
to submit.
the proposal and
work by writers who
short story competition
submit it by email.
with
have never been published
author
Exit Earth is the STORGY Magazine
The closing date to submit is15 September. annual Beverley or
Jill
Dawson.
The closing date
self published. Enter
to its
is 21 May.
for 2017.
online, formatting
? Eyewear also has a call for submissions
The competition
Details: email:
to the theme and
work of fiction, non-entries as doc or pdf
is for debut writers.
The competition invites writers to respond
files.
Writers who have
Series, which is for an original, unpublished
viragoandthepoo
a second prize of �0
on style or subject
previously self
appear on the manuscript. Your name must not
l@littlebrown.co
break free. There is a first prize of �000,
published may enter,
fiction, poetry or criticism, with no restrictions the Beverley Series
.uk;
website: www.virago.co.u
for
but
There is a reading
k
and a third prize of �0.
the book being entered
matter. One or more works will be selected
fee of �per story,
be original fiction
be announced early in 2018.
payable by PayPal.
Entries may be up to 5,000 words, should in any genre. Each
must not previously
each year, with the inaugural work to
may be
system. There is a submission
have
The closing date is
inspired by the ?Exit Earth? theme, and
been published in
Submit online through the Submittable
31 May.
any
September.
Website: www.mtp.agency
writer may enter one story.
form. To enter, submit
fee of �, and the closing date is 15
double-spaced in 12pt
its annual award for a
a
Format entries as a Word doc or docx,
? Eyewear?s Melita Hume Poetry Prize,
proposal for a suspenseful,
the story title, author
and under who has not yet
Garamond. Include a front page with
original, intelligent
full-length collection by a poet aged 35
should be the story title and
crime
entries until 31 August. The
name and word count. The filename
published a full collection, is open for
plus �000.
sent as email attachments
author name. Submissions should be
winner receives publication of their collection, 100 pages. Individual
in the subject line.
48 and
with ?EXIT EARTH ? TITLE OF STORY?
Submit original manuscripts between
by PayPal. Include the
published, but not the
There is an entry fee of �, payable
poems in the collection may have been
a Welsh
The is2017
email.
through Submittable. There
Poetry Competition,
PayPal reference number in the submission
collection as a whole. Submit online
which
launched
independently funded,
on St David?s Day,
The closing date is 31 May.
� submission fee.
is international
1 March,
/
invites entries.
in scope, and invites
There is a �entry
Details: email: submit@storgy.com;
Website: https://store.eyewearpublishing.com
entries from poets
fee per poem entered
There is a first prize
anywhere in the world.
by post, payable by
website: https://storgy.com/
of �0, a second
cheques made out
prize of �0 and
to
Entries may be on
The Welsh Poetry
a third prize of �0.
any subject and in
Competition. For online
There will also be seventeen
any style. The maximum
entries the fee is �per poem, payable
runners-up, and
length is fifty
specially commended
by
lines. Each poem must
PayPal. The closing
entries. The judge
be clearly typed in
date is 18 June.
www.writers-online.co.uk
will
be Kathy Miles.
single sides of A4.
Details: The Welsh
The poet?s name must
88 MAY 2017
Poetry
9 The Avenue, Pontypridd,Competition,
The competition, which
not appear on the
manuscript.
is proudly
email: info@welshpoetry CF27 4DF;
entry form must accompany A completed
22/03/2017 12:06
.co.uk; website:
each entry.
www.welshpoetry.
co.uk
with Roddy Doyle,
the Booker Prize
winning author of The
Commitments, on his
new book, Smile
from bestselling author
Sally Gardner
Digital crime on rise
Competition is for
short stories by
Long-sighted new work Series,new authors
who has never
2017 Lorgnette Pamphlet
published or self-published. previously been
Eyewear Publishing has launched the
series builds on the success of The competition
Long-sighted
and is inviting submissions. The new
is for writing up to
which was shortlisted for the Michaelwords, which
3,000
newSeries,
2015?s 20/20 Pamphlet
work
may
STAR INTERVIEW
How to write sex
scenes sensitively
GLOBAL CRIME
MARKET
A new twist on fairy tales
? Opportunities to get
published
? Submission calls for
writing in every genre
? Advice from editors
and publishers
? News and tips from the
publishing industry
? Reader success stories
?and much more
109
25/07/2017 14:42
N OT E S F R O M T H E M A R G I N
I
Lorraine Mace seeks help from the experts on building her brand
?ve always considered myself a
writer, but apparently I shouldn?t.
It appears I have to think of
myself as a brand. Brand? I
hear you ask. Well, you may
not actually ask, but I did when a
marketing guru looked down his nose
and told me I?d failed in my efforts to
such an extent I?d have to work very
hard indeed if I stood any chance at
all of promoting my brand!
Most writers (well, all the authors
I know personally) are pretty bad
when it comes to marketing. We
write and hope that somehow
readers will discover us without us
having to do anything to make it
happen. Unfortunately, this isn?t the
case. I am hopeless at promoting
my books, so decided to bring in an
expert to help me. This is when I
discovered, firstly, that I was a brand
and, secondly, that I had been guilty
of self-destruction.
As I have mentioned many times
over the past few years, I write crime
under the pen name of Frances di
Plino. It seemed to make sense to me
to keep the crime writing separate
from my other work, but apparently
that was a major mistake.
When I mentioned that I?d used
my own name for children?s books
and Frances di Plino for crime
novels the guru?s eyebrows shot up
so high they almost met at the back
of his head. ?How can readers know
you?re the author of a crime series,
Daaarling,? he drawled, ?when you?ve
split your brand in this way? Crime
102
BRAND
BEWARE
SEPTEMBER 2017
p102 Margin.indd 102
readers won?t know who you are!?
The more I tried to convince him
that crime readers wouldn?t be in the
least bit interested in me as Lorraine
Mace, the more he looked at me as if
I was the greatest imbecile it had ever
been his misfortune to encounter.
He asked what else I did,
other than write novels (?under
two separate names?, he said,
shuddering). I explained that I am
a creative writing tutor, columnist,
non-fiction author, run my own
private critique service, and
occasionally pen short stories for the
magazine market.
Each time I mentioned another
aspect of my working life he sighed
and/or tutted. Eventually, feeling
like an idiot, I had to ask what his
problem was with what I was telling
him. ?My problem, Daaarling? My
problem? It is you who has the
problem. You have diluted your
brand. It is almost non-existent, but
don?t worry, I?m here to show you
how to fix your mistakes.?
At this point in the proceedings
I was still under the mistaken
impression that I hadn?t done
anything too disastrous and tried to
make light of the situation by saying
I?d hardly committed a cardinal sin.
But apparently (in marketing terms)
that?s exactly what I had done.
I have to be honest, I didn?t like
him or his attitude, but I?d paid for
his advice, so thought the least I
could do was stick it out and listen
to the bitter end.
It seems all my efforts over the
past few years have been futile.
I?ve wasted hours (when I could
have been writing) promoting two
different people. I should have been
establishing the Lorraine Mace
brand. (That sounds like an inferior
lingerie company to me, but what
do I know?)
By the time the guru found out
I?d even used different photos for my
two online personas, I thought he
was going to have a heart attack. He
didn?t say out loud he thought I was
mad, but his rapidly changing facial
expressions made it quite clear he felt
I should be locked in a padded cell.
I was raised to be polite, so tried
my best to placate him by asking
what I should do to eradicate
past errors. The outcome is that I
now have a Facebook page for my
critique service, which is linked to
my Lorraine Mace website. I have
the same picture across all my social
media outlets and the Frances di
Plino accounts will gradually be
deleted, to be replaced by ones
making it clear who I am.
As he left, looking like a cream
fed cat, I smiled sweetly and
thanked him for his (expensive)
time. Then I shot straight into the
office and wrote a fabulous scene
featuring a psychopath, a marketing
man, restraining straps and a hot
iron. Frances di Plino may have to
take a back seat when it comes to
marketing, but she still knows a
thing or two about branding.
www.writers-online.co.uk
25/07/2017 12:17
www.writers-online.co.uk
p103_wmseptember17.indd 103
MAY 2017
103
24/07/2017 10:49
l daily
newspaper the
Brighton Argus
A survey of nearly
2,000 people
on behalf of the
Royal Society of
Literature found
that despite
81 percent of
respondents
saying they ?liked
literature because
it promotes
empathy?,only
seven percent of
the 400 writers
they cited were
from black, Asian
or minority ethnic
backgrounds, the
Guardian reported.
Bahrain shut
down Al-Wasat,
the country?s
only independent
newspaper, Human
Rights Watch
(HRW)爎eported.
?I was brought up
in an educational
system in which
you were led to
believe that all of
the books had been
written and your
job was to work
through them.?
Bret Anthony
Johnston, director
of creative writing,
Harvard University
92
SEPTEMBER 2017
p92 News/ Zine.indd 92
GLOBAL SPECFIC MARKET
Dive in
GARY DALKIN
Trouble the Waters: Tales from the
Deep Blue is a new anthology
of water-themed speculative
short stories that explore all
kinds of water lore and deities,
ancient and new. The book
will be edited by Sheree Ren閑
Thomas, Pan Morigan, and
Troy L Wiggins for Rosarium
Publishing.
The editors want original
stories with memorable,
engaging characters, great
and small, epic tales and
quieter stories of personal and
communal growth. Science
fiction, fantasy, horror, interstitial, and unclassifiable works
are welcome. Thomas, Morigan and Wiggins say, ?All over
the world, in cultures young and old, water is life and from
this force, great adventures, quests, and legacies begin.
And whether it is still, moves, rises, or falls, water fills us.
Imagine what stories and strange tales can be told from the
depths of its depths.?
Rosarium, founded in 2013, believes that talent does not
inherently have a race, religion, or region; that there is no talent
solely found in X or Y chromosome. They like stories that are
crazy, wild, provocative, but they also like to chill, and there?s
never a moment you won?t find them laughing.
Word count is 2,500-7,000. Payment is 6� per word.
Exceptional reprints may be considered at 2� per word. No
simultaneous submissions. Deadline is 1 November, for
publication November 2018. Submit doc, docx or rtf files to:
TroubletheWaters2018@gmail.com
Full guidelines: http://rosariumpublishing.com/troublethe-waters-submissions.html
Shoot for success
Shooter literary magazine is
inviting entries for the 2017
Shooter Poetry Competition.
The competition is for
arresting, sharply observed
poetry in any theme or style, up
to 125 lines. The winner will
receive �0 and be published
in print and online. The runnerup will receive � and online
publication. All entrants will
receive an e-copy of Shooter?s
winter issue.
To enter, send poems by email
as a doc, docx, rtf or pdf attachment. The poet?s name must
not appear on the manuscript. Include your name and the
poem titles in the body of the submission email.
The entry fee is �per poem, or three poems for � This
is payable by PayPal.
The closing date is 19 November.
Details: email: competition.shooterlitmag@gmail.com;
website: https://shooterlitmag.com/
Take a shot
Buckshot Magazine is a new, soon to be
launched weekly online and print flash
fiction magazine based in Canada but with
an editorial team based around the globe.
International submissions are welcome. It is
looking for stories of 500-2,000 words, in
every style and genre except erotica, with an
emphasis on shorter pieces. Stories should be
vivid, engaging and in good taste; no excessive
gore, sex or crude language, fan fiction or
hate speech.
Payment is Can$35 for non-exclusive digital
rights, first print rights and non-exclusive one
time anthology rights.
Send your submission as a doc, docx,
rtf or pdf file, by email to: submissions@
buckshotmagazine.com with ?SUBMISSION
? (your story name)? in the subject line, or
with links to online storage, Dropbox, Google
Docs, etc. Include your name, story title
and word count in the body of your email.
Response time, around two weeks.
Please make no more than one submission
a week, though each submission can include
up to three stories. Full guidelines: https://
buckshotmagazine.com/submit. Email
enquires to: hello@buckshotmagazine.com
Fairytale quest
FairyTalez.com claims to be the largest
collection of fairy tales, folk tales, and stories
for children online. The site has recently
launched a self-publishing platform and in
conjunction with this is running a competition
to find the ?best new fairy tale?.
Submissions can come from anywhere ?
Fairytalez is very international, being run from
the US and Denmark, developed in Pakistan
and designed in Bulgaria.
Entries should be 300-5,000 words. There
are no entry fees or specific guidelines, other
than that each entry must be a new take on
the fairy tale genre, and must be suitable
for children. The winning story will receive
a $300 gift certificate for Amazon.com and
publication on FairyTalez.com.
To enter you will need to create a free
account then upload your story via the
guidelines page at: http://fairytalez.com
www.writers-online.co.uk
25/07/2017 12:06
WRITERS? NEWS
INTERNATIONAL
ZINE SCENE
Speculative fiction zine markets are
increasing in number, are successful enough
to produce print editions, and they pay.
Speculative fiction for most editors covers
standard SF, fantasy, horror, all the subgenres, and even imaginative stories of the
gods or the little people.
Lyonesse claims not to
be a magazine. It spurns
advertising, essays and
editorials and only
publishes stories, ?good,
fun, science fiction and
fantasy tales?. Stories
should be 3,00020,000 words, on any SF or fantasy topic. It
publishes stories weekly.
Submit work as a doc or
docx email attachment, to:
LyonesseSubmissions@silverempire.org
Response time is ?quick?. Payment is a share of
60% of subscription fees
Website: https://lyonesse.silverempire.org
Unnerving Magazine is
a Canadian magazine of
horror, dark SF, dark fantasy
and dark literary short
stories as well as reviews and
interviews. The editorial
preference is towards horror,
bizarro is okay if not ?too far
gone?, but no hard SF, sword
and sorcery fantasy, erotica,
romance, humour that isn?t
sinister, or nonsensical experiments.
Sim subs are welcome but not multiple
subs or reprints. Story lengths change each
issue but are usually 400-4,000 words. Submit
in docx, doc or odt through the website:
www.unnervingmagazine.com
Response time is up to six months;
payment is Can1� per word, for three
months? exclusivity from publication date
and non-exclusive print-on-demand rights
for five years.
Red Room Magazine
is a new zine
specialising in
horror fiction and
non-fiction, reviews,
articles, interviews.
Fiction should be ?dark, disturbing, extreme
horror and dark crime stories... well plotted,
and not just gore for gore?s sake?, up to 4,000
words. Author interviews and articles about
horror should be no longer than 1,000 words,
reviews 400-600 words.
Submit in rtf or doc format by email:
redroom@cometpress.us
Response times average 2-4 weeks. $30
is the max payment for non-fiction, 3� per
word for fiction, up to $120 max.
Website: http://cometpress.us/redroom/
Albedo Two: Fiction
Showcase is the zine
form of the wellestablished Irish print
magazine, Albedo One.
The editors ?are always
looking for thoughtful,
well written fiction?
for both the print
and online versions.
This team has catholic
tastes where SF,
horror and fantasy are concerned and they
especially ?love to see material which pushes
at the boundaries?.
See the full guidelines on the website.
The zine is usually open to subs ?the first
month of every quarter, ie January, April,
July and October?.
Stories should be 2,500-8,000 words and
will be considered for the print mag and
website. No sim or multiple subs, or reprints.
Submit in rtf format by email: bobn@
yellowbrickroad.ie
Response time is 2-4 months. Payment is
?6 per 1,000 words, up to 8,000 words.
Website: www.albedo1.com
Bracken is a
quarterly of ?lyrical
fiction and poetry,
inspired by the wood
and what lies in
its shadows?, at the
magic realist end of
literary fantasy.
For fiction the
team wants ?lyrical,
character-driven
myths?, under 2,500
words, poems under
100 lines (up to four).
Submit work in the body of an email:
subs@brackenmagazine.com. Response
time is up to two months. Payment is $15
for a poem and 2� a word for fiction for
?first worldwide English-language serial and
electronic rights.?
Website: www.brackenmagazine.com
www.writers-online.co.uk
p92 News/ Zine.indd 93
BY PDR
LINDSAY-SALMON
Eternal Haunted Summer is all about pagan
songs and tales, a biannual ezine of original
poetry and short fiction about ?the Gods and
Goddesses and heroes of the world?s many
Pagan traditions?. It also publishes reviews,
interviews and essays.
Submissions open for the Winter Solstice
issue during October and November. They
accept any poetic form, any length, and all
short story genres, preferably shorter than
5,000 words.
Submit rtf, txt or doc files or pasted into
the body of an email: lyradora@yahoo.com
Response time is ?usually ten days?. Payment
is a flat rate of $5.
Website:
https://eternalhauntedsummer.com
Empyreome is an online
quarterly of SF, fantasy and
other speculative fiction. It
needs original short fiction of
under 10,000 words, preferably
under 7,000 words, and flash
fiction of up to 1,000 words for
the Weekly Flash Series.
Submit rtf, doc or docx files
by email: empyreome@gmail.com
Response time is ?at least four weeks?.
Payment is 1� per four words; stories under
400 words receive $1 for first world English
rights and first electronic rights.
Website: http://empyreome.com
Typewriter
Emergencies is a
new ?journal of
furry literature?
for writers who love animals and
anthropomorphic stories
It publishes short stories, flash fiction,
book reviews, movie reviews, interviews,
articles, poetry.
Submit doc or docx files through the
website. Sim subs are accepted, multiple subs
and reprints are not. Short stories should
be no more than 2,500 words, articles and
reviews 1,000 words. Response time is
?reasonable.? Payment is 1� per word.
Website: www.weaselpress.com/
typewriteremergencies
SEPTEMBER 2017
93
25/07/2017 13:27
WRITERS? NEWS
FLASHES
New Forest Living
Magazine is a
lifestyle publication
edited by Sally
Thomson and
freely distributed
in the area.
Website:
www.newforest
livingmag.co.uk/
LivingEtc is a
leading modern
homes magazine.
The editor is
Suzanne Imre.
Website: www.
idealhome.co.uk/
livingetc
The Bournemouth
Echo revived
historic titles when
it announced
the launch of the
Bournemouth
Herald and the
Poole Herald, last
published in the
1980s, to replace
the Bournemouth
Advertiser and
Poole Advertiser .
The Crime Writers?
Association?s
Dagger Awards
Dinner, when
winners will be
announced, take
place on 26 Oct at
the Grange City
Hotel, London.�
Johnston Press
announced
that that the
Hemel Express,
Berkhamsted &
Tring Gazette and
Hemel Hempstead
Gazette had
merged to form the
Hemel Hempstead
Gazette&燛xpress,
Press Gazette said.
?Books are many
things: lullabies for
the weary, ointment
for the wounded,
armour for the
fearful and nests for
those in need of a
home.?
Glenda Gillard,
quoted on the
Goodwill Librarian
website
94
SEPTEMBER 2017
p94 News/Travel writing.indd 94
UK NON-FICTION MARKET
Get developed with Panoma
BY TINA JACKSON
Panoma Press is a independent publisher of business and
personal development books, as well as some life stories.
?Most of our authors are business professionals and
business owners, and we have published many coaches,
consultants, trainers and speakers, said founder and
managing director Mindy Gibbins-Klein.
?We founded the company in 2005 so that we
could offer a more personal and professional service
to authors. I was running The Book Midwife and I
was sending my graduates to publish their books with
other publishers. Some of them were okay, but some
were not, and my co-founder and I knew we could
do a better job for authors. I have a strong belief that
every book deserves to be written and published, but
I wanted to give more first-time authors the chance to
get it all done to an excellent standard, rather than just
getting the book into print.?
Panoma Press publishes around 30 to 35 titles each
year. ?We tend to publish books that are substantial
yet friendly. We don?t tend to publish books with an
academic style or tone. If the author has written from
the heart about his or her
experience, expertise or life
story, it?s worth a chat.?
There are two publishing
models at Panoma: traditional
and co-publishing. ?Where
we are investing in the book,
we look for authors who are
credible experts in their field,
people who are known, who
Submissions from Scotland
Writers living in Scotland or who are Scots by birth,
upbringing or inclination are invited to submit work to the
New Writing Scotland 36 publication. It does not matter
whether you write poetry, fiction, political and cultural
commentary or satire, drama, screenplays, autobiography
or memoir, creative responses to events and experiences,
non fiction or other creative prose, all submissions will
be welcome and can be written in any of the languages of
Scotland.
Self-contained extracts or novels or other long works are
also welcome but not complete works as the recommended
maximum word length is 3,500 words. No submission
should have been previously published or accepted for
publication.
Submissions must be typed/printed on single sides of
paper marked with your name and stapled in the top left
hand corner. Double space prose submissions and include
a word count. Also include a cover letter with your name
and address.
Submit your work before the closing date of 30
September with a stamped addressed postcard if you would
like acknowledgment of receipt and a SAE if you would
like your work returned.
Details: ASLS, Department of Scottish Literature, 7
University Square, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12
8QH; website: http://asls.gla.ac.uk/NWSsubs.html
have a personal brand of some kind. They should
have a good presence on one or more social media
platforms and a decent following,? said Mindy. ?If we
don?t think we can invest in a project, we may offer
different co-investment options to the author.?
Mindy recently won a bronze award at the
Excellence in Business: Women of the Year awards
for her successful turnaround of Hertfordshirebased Panoma. ?We have already begun to go
global in a big way! We have sales, distribution
and licensing arrangements in over fifty countries
worldwide, and we are starting to attract more
authors outside of the UK.?
Prospective authors should send an initial email with a
one- to two-paragraph pitch (no attachments).
Panoma Press publishes in print and ebook formats,
and in some cases, audiobooks. A traditional publishing
deal with Panoma Press pays royalties.
Details: email: publishing@panomapress.com;
website: www.panomapress.com
Malevolent Soap
A new Australian annual
print and online magazine,
Malevolent Soap is a nonprofit journal of poetry and
fiction edited by Felix Garner
Davis.
Based in Melbourne, Felix
and his team are happy
to publish quality writing
from around the world. In true Australian fashion
?Anything goes,? but the team likes ?imagistic work
that explores intersections of ?high? and ?low? culture.?
It likes to ?champion concrete aesthetics, reference,
fusion and oddity.?
Issue one is due out in September. Submit
up to five pieces of poetry or flash fiction, or
one piece of long fiction. Writers worldwide are
welcome, especially those addressing ?issues from an
underrepresented pocket of society?.
Submit a doc file through the website. Response
time is ?reasonable?. Payment is Aus$20 per published
piece in exchange for exclusive first print and
electronic rights, which revert after two months.?
Details: email: asuh@malevolentsoap.com;
website: https://malevolentsoap.com
www.writers-online.co.uk
25/07/2017 12:08
GLOBAL MEN?S MAGAZINE
G
TR
L W RI
E
T
V
IN
A
WRITERS? NEWS
BY PDR LINDSAY-SALMON
In the footsteps of great writers
A new thirteen-mile trail named The
Writers? Way has been developed by
Hampshire County Council and East
Hampshire District Council. It takes
you around some of the countryside
which would have been familiar to
author Jane Austen, nature and wildlife
writer the Reverend Gilbert White who
is said to have transformed the way
we think about the natural world today, and William Cobbett, who
described the area in his book Rural Rides.
On the trail you can visit the Jane Austen House Museum in
Chawton where the author lived and wrote her six novels, and call in
at the nearby Curtis Museum in Alton, which has a Jane Austen trail
highlighting the sights which might have been familiar to her and
inspired her.
You can also visit Gilbert White?s House in Selborne where in the
1700s the Reverend immersed himself in observing and systematically
recording the birds, animals, plants and weather he encountered and
wrote about in his influential book The Natural History and Antiquities
of Selborne.
William Cobbett lived in nearby Farnham and was an active
campaigner for better living conditions for rural families. As research,
and also inspired by Gilbert White?s book, he took long countryside
rides on horseback, which he wrote about in his book.
Whether taking in the literary or historical connections, the
Watercress Line Steam Railway is also on the route, or whether you are
just walking or cycling for reflective or inspirational reasons that might
lead to writing your next fiction or non fiction piece, the trail could
have much to offer any writer.
For a downloadable leaflet giving full details of the trail see the
website: www.hants.gov.uk/writersway
www.writers-online.co.uk
p94 News/Travel writing.indd 95
N
K
BULL: Men?s Fiction, is an American
print and online magazine edited by men
for men. It is dedicate to ?examining
and discussing modern masculinity:
what works, what doesn?t, what needs to
change and what needs to go?.
It publishes fiction and essays that
?engage that conversation from every
angle?. The essays are quite thought
provoking. For fiction the team seeks
?stories of exemplary masculinity,
cautionary tales, accounts from every
possible perspective and persuasion?.
Read the back issues at the website.
There is a wide selection of reading
matter ranging from the basic jock male
story to some fascinating, different views of masculinity.
The magazine is almost exclusively fiction. Submissions are
considered for both the BULL website and print magazine. Note
that most of all work accepted from general submissions is first
accepted for the web. The annual print selections are ?often picked
from that season?s web acceptances. The website has just as much
audience as the print magazine. Submit fiction, essays, interviews,
and column submissions through the online submission manager.
Follow the instructions and don?t forget full contact details.
Response time is ?typically within three months?. Payment and
rights by agreement.
Website: http://bullmensfiction.com
W
Take Bull by the horns
O W-H O
Another view
Patrick Forsyth links the sayings of others to
the emphasis you might give your writing.
T
here is something about a good, pithy
quotation that appeals to many people. It
is the succinctness of such things that give
them their appeal, the summing up of a
broad thought in a very few words. While
it does not do to overuse them, there are some kinds of
writing in which the occasional quotation adds usefully: ?I
always have a quotation for everything ? it saves original
thinking? ? (Dorothy L Sayers).
They can be useful in other ways too.
Reading an apt quotation can put a particular slant
on something that can help your writing and take
you in a particular, and perhaps different, direction.
So far, so general. How does this affect travel writing?
There is no lack of good quotations linked to travel,
for example I love this: ?She went up the Nile as far
as the first crocodile? ? (Samuel Butler). Indeed it was
seeing this in a lovely book, Off the Beaten Track ? a
traveller?s anthology compiled by Laura Stoddart (Orion
Publishing), which prompted this column. That
quotation set me thinking: avoidance of crocodiles (at
least up close) seems pretty sensible, indeed avoidance
might be a theme that would enliven many a piece of
travel writing, prompting thoughts of raucous children
on flights, Ryanair, and more.
Other examples might be: ?The nasty, damp, dirty,
slippery, boot-destroying, shin breaking, veritable
mountain! Let me recommend my friends to let it
alone.? (Anthony Trollope); this might set you thinking
that however much a place is to be favoured, there may
be some things or places there that deserve a warning.
There is a Chinese proverb which says: ?He who returns
from a journey is not the same as he who left.? Yes, travel
affects us all in a great many ways, but more is written
about reactions felt at the time than later. Stephen Fry
reminds us of the discomforts of travel: ?At my age
travel broadens the behind.? And then there is advice to
travellers, this from 1908: ?Always wear corsets, to leave
off wearing them at any time for the sake of coolness is
a huge mistake: there is nothing so fatiguing as to lose
one?s ordinary support.? (Constance Larymore). Clothes
may sometimes be worth a mention (the outdoor wear
company Rohan emailed me recently about clothes
impregnated with insect repellent; I?m not sure I knew
such a thing existed).
Finally, let me end with a quotation that reminds us
of the people we might meet, and report on and quote,
along the way. I suggested she took a trip around the
world. ?Oh, I know,? returned the lady, yawning with
ennui, ?but there are so many other places I want to see
first.? Moral: wherever you go and whatever you see,
people are always going to surprise, amaze or amuse you.
JUNE 2017
95
25/07/2017 12:08
WRITERS? NEWS
FLASHES
WattsWhat
Magazine, a
new biannual
men?s lifestyle
publication,
will launch in
September with
David M Watts as
editor in chief.
Website: https://
wattswhat
magazine.com
Amnesty
International
York Group is
inviting entries
up to 1,700 words
on the theme
of ?Borders? for
its short story
competition. The
winner will get
� and online
publication.
The entry fee
is �and the
closing date is 10
December.
Website: http://
yorkamnestyuk.
blogspot.co.uk/
The new
Granada Writers
in Residence
Programme is
offering a month?s
stay in Granada
for two writers
aged between
25 and 45 who
have published
at least one book.
Applications close
on 10 September.
Website:
http://writ.rs/
granadawriters
inresidence
Colm T骾b韓 has
been awarded
the Dayton
Literary Peace
Prize?s Richard
C Holbooke
Distinguished
Achievement
Award, given for
literature that
fosters peace,
social justice
and global
understanding.
?There is no friend
as loyal as a book.?
Ernest
Hemingway,
quoted on
Bookish Buzz
website
96
SEPTEMBER 2017
p96 News.indd 96
GLOBAL CHILDREN?S
MARKET
Engaging activities wanted
BY JENNY ROCHE
Features on activities for children
are wanted for the US Spider and
Ladybug magazines. The former is for
children aged 3-6 years and the latter
for children aged 6-9 years. Activities
include crafts, games, science
experiments and recipes. Each
activity should be clearly worded,
have an engaging narrative, playful
step-by-step directions and be 1-4
pages long. ?The strongest activities
will engage a child?s imagination and
creativity, can be done at home and
require little adult supervision,? say
guidelines.
The magazines are also looking for
word games, jokes, tongue twisters,
riddles, picture-based crosswords and
foreign language activities.
Payment rates for activities
and recipes are a flat rate of $75 and vary for other
submissions.
The deadline for submissions is 30 September and
it is recommended you familiarise yourself with the
magazines before submitting. You can check out a
sample issue online. Submit a complete MSS as a doc,
docx, txt or rtf file and include a word count and your
contact information. Submit through the website: www.
cricketmedia.com
Submissions go through several reading stages before
acceptance and writers are involved in all stages of any
editing required. You should gain a response to your
submission within 3-6 months.
Book Talk BY JOHN JENSEN
I believe all humour is based on
aggression. The practical joke is invariably
aggressive. Satire, of course, is always so.
Satire might seek to banish aggression
among nations or local councillors or
whoever, but it uses aggression as part
of its arsenal. Even what used to be
known as ?good humour? is not without
an element of jeering. In the old days
?knobbly knee? competitions encouraged
people to make fools of themseves,
nowadays they are enouraged to do daft
things on public participation shows
nationwide. Even worldwide. Then their
daftness lives forever on Facebook. Radio
and TV comedians are expected to make
jokes that are preferably politically correct,
and even then danger lurks because one
person?s political correctness is another
person?s unforgiveable affront. Worse
though is aggression stripped of all
humour. For the comic or the cartoonist
political correctness is like being lost on
a High Street where all the shops have
closed and everybody has gone home
except, hidden by curtains, on the top
floor of every building violent people are
watching with fingers twitching on triggers
or keyboards. Too many people seek out
comedy acts in order be offended and
once offended they Tweet like mad and a
New lines
trivial so-called offence goes viral out of
all proportion. My first novel was a going
Geometry Literary Journal is a new international
literary endeavour based in New Zealand, wanting
outstanding literature from NZ and worldwide to
publish in print and online.
Work is welcomed from established and emerging
writers. There are no limitations on style or content.
The editors seek ?fresh voices? diversity, and work
which captivates and challenges?.
Geometry publishes literary fiction, nonfiction,
graphic narrative, art and poetry. Work must be
original, unpublished, literary work; no genre stories,
reprints, multiple or sim subs. Stories and creative
non-fiction should be under 8,000 words and poems,
no more than four, should be under fifty lines.
Submit all work online through the submissions
manager. Include your entire submission in one file,
and be sure your name and contact information are
included on the first page of the file. Response time
is 2-4 months. Payment is NZ$10-$50 for poetry and
NZ1-3� per word for fiction and non-fiction, plus
one free copy.
Website: www.geoliterary.com
to be a satire, but I?ve shelved it. In fact
I?ve quit writing. I?ve decidied to take up
nuclear physics instead. It?s safer.
www.writers-online.co.uk
25/07/2017 12:09
WRITERS? NEWS
UK MAGAZINE MARKET
Watch the birdie
BY TINA JACKSON
Bird Watching, edited
by Matt Merritt, is the
UK?s best-selling bird
watching magazine.
?We?re generally
focussed on British
bird watching, aimed
at the beginner end of
the market, rather than
the hardcore twitchers,?
said Matt. ?Our readers
often combine bird
watching with walking or
gardening. We?re kind of
enthusiastic but low-key.?
Readers tend to be
forty-plus, and roughly two thirds male. ?Over the
years it?s become more of an even split ? it?s anyone
with an interest in watching wild birds. What I enjoy
most is that readers tend to see it almost as a club, not
a magazine ? it?s a tight little community,? said Matt.
Bird Watching?s content blends expert advice with
inspirational nature writing. ?We have a regular ?what
to watch this month? section, which is very practical.
And a sightings section, and walks section. Beyond
that we tend to run species profiles, travel content,
scientific and slightly technical stuff as well, with
conservation issues surrounding specific birds.?
A good feature for Bird Watching will include a
personal element. ?Our readers appreciate expert help
and comment, but they like to feel they could find
this bird themselves,? said Matt. ?All of our features
have quite a personal angle, and an inspirational
element ? and good, emotive writing as well as
technical information.?
Bird Watching features include familiar birds as well
as more unusual ones. ?It?s not got to be about rare
birds ? a lot of the best features we have are the ones
that give you a new slant on something quite familiar.
Finding out something you didn?t know about quite
commonplace birds.? Good nature writing is a difficult
balance, says Matt. ?You need technical accuracy but
you want to make people go out and watch birds. It?s
that inspirational aspect we?re looking for.?
Matt?s happy to hear from interested writers. ?We?re
open to pretty much any suggestions for freelance
contributions. The main features and walks ? we?re
always looking for more of them!? In the first
instance, Matt asks people to get in touch by email
with a brief synopsis. ?I?ll get back to them with a
detailed brief if I?m interested.?
Writers who can supply pictures are always
appreciated. Main features are usually between 1,200
and 2,000 words, but can go up to 3,500. ?We also do
little 500-word pieces, which are often conservationrelated, from people on the ground, close to the issue.?
Payment is �0 for a single page, and up to �0
for a multi-page feature.
Details: email: matthew.merritt@bauermedia.
co.uk; website: www.birdwatching.co.uk
The Wolf?s call
US micro-press WolfSinger publishes an online magazine,
The Lorelei Signal, short novels and anthologies.
For novels the preferred genres are science fiction and
fantasy but other adult fiction genres are accepted. YA is
also accepted but preferably at the older end, aimed at
late teens and young adults. The minimum word count
is 25,000 and the preferred maximum word count is
80,000 words.
Put your full contact details on the first page of
the manuscript and save the file as an rtf document.
Submit by email and in the body of the email include
again full contact details, the title, an approximate word count, the
genre, a brief synopsis of the story and some ideas for marketing and
promoting the book.
WolfSinger anthologies are usually quirky. Currently open for subs is
Tales From the Fluffy Bunny, for ?Fantasy stories that feature your main
character telling a tale about how they or their weapon earned their name.?
Writers are asked to imagine the setting as an
adventurer?s bar where the MC is propped
up enthralling the bar patrons with his yarn.
Humour is welcome and all stories need to
begin with ?This is my tale??. Writers are
encouraged to break the story-writing rules, and
add an original twist to familiar plotlines.
No multiple or sim subs; query for reprints.
Stories, 1,000-7,500 words, plus flash fiction,
must be suitable for a PG-13 rating.
Submit an rtf file by email by 30 September.
The online quarterly The Lorelei Signal
publishes fantasy stories involving threedimensional female characters. Editor Carol
Hightshoe is happy to see complex male
characters as well but ?balance is the key?.
Females should rescue themselves! Stories need
to be under 10,000 words. Submissions reopen
in October.
Response time is slow. The advance is $50 for
print books, $5 for each anthology contributor,
both plus royalties, and a flat $7.50 for Lorelei
Signal contributions.
Details:
email: Editor@wolfsingerpubs.com;
website: www.wolfsingerpubs.com
Writing workshops from Woman?s Weekly
There is a wider selection of one day writing workshops being introduced
this year by Woman?s Weekly magazine, where you can ?learn to write in a fun,
friendly and supportive atmosphere? with knowledgeable and experienced tutors.
All workshops will be held in London and cost � each with places being
available on a first-come-first-served basis.
Novelist, short story writer and journalist Della Galton will be tutoring
workshops on How to Make Your Characters Come Alive on 4 September and
How To Write a Novel on 2 October and 6 November.
Writing Magazine?s own Alison Chisholm will be showing you how to Write
Poetry for Competitions on 23 November. Woman?s Weekly serial writer Suzanne
Aherne will be tutoring a Creating Characters workshop on 9 October and
writer of over eighty books Anita Loughrey will be tutoring workshops in
Writing for Children on 16 October and Writing Picture Books on 23 October.
Website: http://writ.rs/womansweeklyfictionworkshops
www.writers-online.co.uk
p96 News.indd 97
SEPTEMBER 2017
97
25/07/2017 13:29
CLASSIFIED
ADVERTISE HERE Contact Daniel Batten
Tel: 01354 818010 or email: danielb@media-shed.co.uk
Box (min 3cm): � per single column cm for subscribers;
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p098_wmseptember17.indd 98
www.writers-online.co.uk/register
www.writers-online.co.uk
25/07/2017 10:07
Competition rules and forms
To enter:
Enter online at www.writers-online.co.uk or by post, with the ref code in the address, to: Writing Magazine Competitions
(Ref Code xxxxx), Warners Group Publications, West Street, Bourne, Lincolnshire PE10 9PH. Remember to add a front sheet
with full contact details and the name of the competition you are entering (see Rule 3)
? Adult Fairytale Competition (see p31)
For fairytales for adult readers, 1,500-1,700 words; entry fee � �for subscribers; closing date, 15 October; Ref Code: Sep17/Fairytale
? Love Story Competition (see p31)
For love stories, 1,500-1,700 words; entry fee � �for subscribers; closing date, 15 September; Ref Code: Aug17/Love
? Ballad Poetry Competition
Any theme, ballad form; forty-line limit; entry fee � �for subscribers; closing date, 15 September; Ref Code: Aug17/BalladPoetry
? Subscriber-only Single Character Short Story Competition (see p57)
Short stories with only one character, 1,500-1,700 words; free entry, subscribers only; closing date, 15 Sept; Ref Code: Aug17/SingleCharacter
? Subscriber-only Food Short Story Competition (see p57)
Fiction, 1,500-1,700 words, any genre, in which food plays a key role; free entry; subscribers only; closing date, 15 October; Ref Code: Sep17/Food
? New Subscribers Competitions (see p57)
For fiction, 1,500-1,700 words, or poems, up to 40 lines, or one of each, any genre or theme, by a new subscriber to Writing Magazine; free entry;
subscribers only; closing date, 31 January 2018; Ref Code: Jan17/SSNewSub or Jan17/PoetryNewSub
How to enter
Competition Rules
Poetry Competition
Short Story Competition
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All entries must be the original and unpublished work of the
entrant, and not currently submitted for publication nor for any other
competition or award. Each entry must be accompanied by an entry
form, printed here (photocopies are acceptable), unless stated.
Open Competitions are open to any writer, who can submit as many
entries as they choose. Entry fees are � �for subscribers.
Subscriber-only Competitions are open only to subscribers of
Writing Magazine. Entry is free but you can only submit one entry
per competition.
New Subscribers? Competitions are open only to those whose
subscriptions start during 2017. No entry form or fee is required.
Ref code .....................................and agree to be bound
by the competition rules
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bound by the competition rules
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Short stories: Entries must be typed in double spacing on single
sides of A4 paper with a front page stating your name, address, phone
number and email address, your story title and word count and the
name of the competition. Entries will be returned if accompanied by
sae. Electronic entries should be a single doc, docx, txt, rtf or pdf file
with the contact details, etc, on p1, and your story commencing on the
second page.
Poetry manuscripts: Entries must be typed in single spacing with
double spacing between stanzas on single sides of A4. Entrant?s name,
address, telephone number and email address must be typed on a
separate A4 sheet. Entries to poetry competitions cannot be returned.
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the contact details, etc, on p1, and your poem on the second page.
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4 Competition Judging
Competition judges will be appointed by Writing Magazine and the
judges? decision will be final with no correspondence being entered into.
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date unplaced entries may be submitted elsewhere. Winning entries
may not be submitted elsewhere for twelve months after that date
without permission of Writing Magazine who retain the right to publish
winning entries in any form during those twelve months
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www.writers-online.co.uk
JULY 2015
107
25/07/2017 12:12
M Y W R I T I N G DAY
JOHN
MARRS
Writing
My
day
It?s a hectic writing day for the magazine journalist and
novelist, he tells Lynne Hackles
?A
typical writing day
for me isn?t the
calm, collected and
serene experience
many authors
favour,? says John Marrs. ?I live in
Northamptonshire but commute
to London each day where my fulltime job is as a journalist, writing for
publications including S Magazine,
TV Life and OK! Magazine. So I?m
up at 6.20 each weekday and begin
my parallel career as an author once I
grab a seat on the train. Then I have
from 8.05am until 9.10am to type
as much as my brain and fingertips
will allow. With no wi-fi on the train
and my noise-reducing headphones
placed firmly upon my ears, there are
surprisingly few distractions.
?When I embark on a new novel,
I set myself the challenge to write a
minimum of 1,000 words a day. It?s
a very do-able figure and sometimes,
if I?m in the right frame of mind, I?ll
go way beyond that limit. Even on a
bad day, when what I write is utter
drivel, to get that drivel down on a
page is still an accomplishment. The
more interesting side to writing a book
comes with the next draft.
?I?ll be in the office by 9.40, eat a
yoghurt and a blueberry muffin and
sift through my emails. I?ll check
my Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
accounts and try to resist ? but often
fail ? reading reviews of my books
on Amazon.
?My day job is to interview
celebrities. They are from all walks of
showbiz life. For example, last week
I interviewed a The Only Way Is Essex
cast member in the morning and then
Dame Joan Collins in the afternoon.
?I?ve been a journalist since I was
18 (I?m now 46) but I didn?t write
my first book, When You Disappeared,
until four years ago. That and my
100
SEPTEMBER 2017
p100 My Writing Day.indd 100
second novel, Welcome To Wherever
You Are, were self-published, but my
most recent, The One, was picked
by up by Ebury label, Del Rey and
published the traditional way.
?The One is a multi-character
psychological thriller, and two
characters in particular took some
research. One is a psychopath who
falls in love, so I looked into how
a psychopathic mind works w
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