Sunday, 31 October 2010


Where I was last week with my family - yes we had a fab time!

Came home to the latest issue of Writers' Forum which contains some juicy articles, including an interview with Maggie Seed who is the My Weekly Pocket Novels editor, which is a must-read for anyone considering writing a pocket novel. The guidelines for them are available on this blog. Once you've sold a pocket novel, you can often sell it again to a large-print publisher such as Ulverscroft, who supply books to libraries so then you'll earn PLR (public lending rights) payments for years afterwards. So don't let the low fee from My Weekly put you off writing them!

Also in the magazine is Sheila Norton aka Olivia Ryan's article on short story writers who become novelists, or vice versa. She polled dozens of writers to find out whether people tended to start with shorts or go straight to novels. The results are fascinating, and the consensus seems to be that shorts will help you refine your technique and getting them published is a more attainable objective, so they're worth a try even if your main aim is a novel.

And I was delighted to see that Linda Lewis gives this blog a plug in her column this month. Thanks Linda!

I was at Della Galton's book launch for The Dog With Nine Lives yesterday - here's the cover image:

Got my signed copy, of course! which I shall read next. I also met and chatted with several other writers I hadn't previously met - hi Linda, hi David, hi Sue! I love events like this. It's so nice to chat with other people who share your passion for writing. David reminded me of Amanda's List of Womag Writers. Go and take a look if you've not already seen it. If you've had a good year you might want to contact Amanda to have a star added to your tally!

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Woman's Weekly Guidelines

With thanks to Kath John for this -

Woman's Weekly guidelines are now online, here. Check out the comments at the end - Gaynor Davies herself is replying to queries about submitting.

Well that's me out of a job, then!

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Book news

Della Galton's new book is about to be released - yours truly is invited to the book launch in just over a week's time!

The Dog With Nine Lives is non-fiction, the true story of a very special animal Della rescued from a beach in Greece. One for animal lovers everywhere.

I'm also delighted to be able to tell you about a forthcoming charity anthology - Diamonds and Pearls. It won't be out until next February, but rest assured I'll remind you again nearer the time! Sold in aid of Against Breast Cancer and full of stories by your favourite womag writers, including Della, Sally, and me!

Friday, 15 October 2010


Good grief, I hear you cry. The woman hardly ever blogs at all these days apart from posting links, then three posts come along at once. What's she on? (Pinot, is the answer btw.)

I'm just on a bit of a roll. A mini roll, I was going to put, but I've given up chocolate for the moment. The novel was progressing slowly but surely, at a pace of about 3000 words a week. It came to a halt about 2 weeks ago on account of pressure at work - the pesky day job, which has become an evening job, a weekend job and a middle-of-the-night-on-callout job, as well.

Yesterday evening at my writing class, we decided on the theme for the end of term competition. Last night, during a bout of insomnia, an entire story came to me, and this evening I have written it in about an hour. Wow that feels so good, and having been novelling exclusively for months it's amazing to have completed something again. It just needs a little edit, and as its under 1000 words that won't take long.

And I also decided, last night, on the next scene for my novel. There should be time tomorrow or Sunday to make a start on that. The great thing about novel writing, I've found, is that I can write in smaller slots of time than I need for short stories. For stories, I need time to write at least half of a story at a time, preferably the whole thing. Which means a couple of hours solid, assuming I already have the idea, the characters, the beginning and the ending firmly fixed in my head.

Whereas with the novel, the characters are known, many scenes are mapped out, I know where I need to get to, and I can leave a scene part written, mid-sentence, and come back to it next time I have ten minutes to spare. I can also write in the sitting room with the TV on, which makes the auld fella think I'm keeping him company (bless). Short stories I need to go hide away in another room. So I leave the novel document open on my laptop, I don't shutdown (just close laptop lid) and therefore can pick up a part written section in seconds.

This is turning into a Friday night ramble. I'll stop there before I lose my way.

Can anyone help Merry?

An appeal for help from a blog reader:


I am wondering if you can help me.

I sold a story to That's Life! Magazine that appeared in Issue #19 (or so I was told). I was told I would receive a copy of the magazine, in addition to my check.

I received the check, but have never received the magazine.

I have contacted the editor twice and the magazine contact email twice - and no one responds.

Do you suppose any of your readers would have a copy of that issue so I can add it to my portfolio? I'd be happy to pay for it and the postage.

My story was called THREE WISHES and was supposed to be the middle 3 page spread.

Thank you!

Merry Stahel

I'd suggest contacting Merry via her blog, linked above, if you can help. There are some very cute cat pictures on her blog too...

Circalit/Literary Consultancy Novelists competition

Had this press release from Circalit - could be of interest to aspiring novelists out there. Hey, that's me. Well, maybe when my novel's a little nearer completion perhaps....

Circalit and The Literary Consultancy Launch Free Competition for Writers

Today Circalit launched a free competition in partnership with The Literary Consultancy aimed at aspiring novelists who are looking for the opportunity to get a book deal. The Literacy Consultancy will assess the winning scripts' suitability for publication and fast-track work it deems marketable on to agents and publishers. The winning writers will also receive an in depth editorial report from The Literary Consultancy as well as an invitation to a publishing industry event at the Free Word Centre.

Recommended by The Arts Council England and all major publishing houses, The Literary Consultancy was started 14 years ago by Rebecca Swift and Hannah Griffiths, who is now an editor at Faber & Faber. The company has since made its name as the UK’s leading manuscript assessment service, providing expert, market-aware editorial advice to writers of all kinds. The company holds a strong track record of helping writers get into print, and has helped writers secure book deals with top publishers including Penguin, Orion, Macmillan, Random House and Bloomsbury.

Rebecca Swift, Director of TLC said, “We’re pleased to be launching a competition with Circalit which is encouraging a vibrant online community. Their competitions get participants involved as they review each other's work, and vote for their favourites. We hope that this competition will uncover talented new writers.'

Circalit, which started life as a site where screenwriters could showcase their work to film studios, has already hosted free competitions with companies such as the BBC and Hollywood producer, Julie Richardson. It’s social networking features make it an invaluable resource for writers looking to make industry contacts and it is integrated with Facebook, giving talented writers the means to spread their wings and go viral across the internet.

“The idea behind this competition is to help those up and coming writers who’ve yet to make their mark in the industry or who are unsure where to take their work and need some impartial advice,” adds Raoul Tawadey, CEO and Founder of Circalit, “That’s why we’re incredibly pleased to be doing this competition with The Literary Consultancy, who share the same ethos of helping writers through objective, independent critique. '

The competition will open on the 1st October and will take place quarterly over the next year. The first winner will be announced on 31st December 2010. For more information or to enter your work, please visit

Monday, 11 October 2010

How To - regular competition

Remember this comp for a How-To article I posted about back in the summer? Well, it was a great success and now the website is planning to run the competition monthly, with prizes of £50-£100 each month. See here for the press release, and here for the full entry rules. You need to write a How To article, on any topic. Check out the links on the left for articles already published on the site, so you don't duplicate any. Hope lots of you enter - let me know if you do, especially if you win!

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Dialogue and dialect

I'm progressing well with my novel - the one I began in June and which made me stop writing womag stories and woefully neglect this poor blog (please keep sending me any news and articles related to womag writing!) In the novel, I want one of the characters to speak in a distinctive voice, and her accent is nineteenth century Sussex. So I've been delighted to find a whole raft of recent blog posts related to writing dialogue and dialect! I also found on the internet a book of Sussex dialect compiled in Victorian times. Fantastic!

Thought I should share these with you all - so here's a bunch of links.

Verily I say unto ye, here's how not to write historical or fantasy dialect courtesy of MD Lachlan
One for the Wurzels, from Sarah Duncan, and another from the same blog.
Um, er, the trick is don't write how you speak, innit, from Nicola Morgan
And the Dictionary of Sussex Dialect I mentioned, online here or to purchase as a proper book here.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

The new New Writer

The New Writer is having a bit of a makeover starting with the next issue - it'll be longer, it'll be sent out every 3 months (subscriptions are 6 issues spread over 18 months), it'll include micro-fiction, book reviews, workshop exercises and other new features, and will have an improved page design.

All for no change to the subscription price! And you can now subscribe and pay by credit card online.

Friday, 1 October 2010

A Worship of Writers?

The things I've got saved in my favourites folder. Just came across this one, which I thought might be useful or at least amusing - a list of collective nouns.