Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Write to be Published - review

Write to be Published by Nicola Morgan

Along with every other English-speaking writer with a smidgen of sense I've been a fan of Nicola Morgan ever since I discovered her wonderful blog. When I first found it, I was busy writing womag stories and doing ok at getting them published, so much of her advice on writing novels and approaching agents or publishers was not so relevant to me. But I loved the blog anyway and kept going back.

And now, just when I'm embarking on editing my first completed novel, with a view to sending it out into the big scary world in a few months time, the wonderful woman distils her blog's advice into a handy paperback which you can read in the bath.

It's simple - all you have to do is "write the right book in the right way, send it to the right publisher in the right way and at the right time." Then they'll publish you. Nicola takes you through all the steps of this process. There's no guarantee - you do have to be able to write, and there's a mention of some necessary fairy dust which I believe you need to sprinkle into your submission envelope - but if you follow the advice in this book you'll definitely increase your chances.

I've just read it cover to cover - including the acknowledgements at the end which includes womagwriter! Cheers, Nicola! I'm going to re-read the bits on editing your book soon when I get going with the edits. And I'll re-read the bits about submission when I get to that stage.

A very helpful, easy to read, no-nonsense, enjoyable book for anyone who likes to write and wants to be published. Thoroughly recommended.

Monday, 23 May 2011

I hate to be the bearer of bad news...

... but we've lost another market.

From Gill Hook at Candis magazine:

"Due to exciting developments for the magazine, although we will still carry short stories, we will no longer be accepting unsolicited submissions.

Instead we will be commissioning short stories from established authors and from a shortlist of our most popular writers."

With thanks to Patsy for passing this on.

I can't say it sounds like an exciting development for the magazine to me. Last time I heard of a magazine changing to take commissioned stories from famous authors only, it was not long before they dropped the fiction slot altogether.

All together now, BOOOOOOO!

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

The Edits Await!

I'm pleased and proud to announce I've now completed the first draft of my novel! You know, the one I started nearly a year ago, which made me give up writing womag stories and almost made me drop this blog? (Phew, that was close!)

My aim at the start of this year was to complete the first draft by the end of June (easy!) and the edits by the end of the year (we'll see...) This is the first time I've completed a novel although I've started a couple before. Got to 17,000 and 55,000 words with earlier attempts - this one's ended up at a respectable 81,500.

It's full of gaps and boring bits, but I hope there's a few gems and that the whole thing is salvageable.

Here's my Plan of Attack:

1. Copy all the sections into one big document. For some reason I wrote every section in a new Word document. Now they all need putting together in the right order.

2. Buy a lot of printer paper. I've found this at £20 for 5 reams on Amazon which I'd guess is about as cheap as it comes.

3. Print off and read novel, scribbling thoughts in a notebook as I go.

4. Edit 1: Make decision whether I should keep the story told in a chronological order, or play around with the structure and sequence of events. Will probably make use of techniques such as Sarah Duncan's cards-all-over-the-bed at this stage. Construct novel in the chosen sequence.

5. Edit 2: Starting from the outside in (see link to Sarah's blog above), first I'll tackle the major problems. Cut the boring bits, add some extra scenes (there are already a few in my head!) I'll also need to do a few bits of research - every now and again there are instructions to self written in capitals eg CHECK WHEN RAILWAY CAME TO WORTHING. I never wanted to break the flow of my writing, so didn't stop to check these facts as I went (1845, by the way).

6. Edit 3: The novel is written in several view points. Each section is a different view point, headed up with the POV character's name and the date. Most are third person except for one main character whose sections are in first person in a distinctive (I hope!) voice. So now I need to go through all sections for each character and ensure their voices are consistent and distinct from each other.

7. Edit 4: Add pretty details, setting, atmosphere, use all the senses etc. When writing short fiction, this would normally be my first edit.

8. Add the prologue and some appendices I have in mind - historical facts etc.

9. Edit 5: Check for readability. Tweak sentences, cut repetition etc.

10. Write synopsis and covering letter.

11. Edit 6: Final read through.

12. Edit synopsis and covering letter. Agonise over them. Wring hands and agonise some more.

13. Research online and in Writers' and Artists' Yearbook and decide on agents to submit to.

14. Post submissions. Drink large bottle of wine. Start new writing project in a futile attempt to forget all about this one.

I'll no doubt ask writing buddies for help with bits I'm not sure about, and will read bits out at my writing class if I'm feeling brave enough. I'll also read the best How To books around, including Nicola Morgan's Write to be Published which I've already begun.

So - wish me luck! Also for those of you who've written novels, does this sound like a reasonable plan? The novel at the moment feels like a big shapeless lump of unproven, unbaked dough. I need to turn it into a beautiful crusty sliced loaf, light but satisfying to eat.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Three Good Things for a Monday

1. With thanks to Pat for forwarding this link - interesting blog on writing for the US magazine, Woman's World (guidelines here), which analyses lots of recently published stories.

2. Excellent post on dialogue tags, she enthused, here.

3. Guardian short story competition - get published in a broadsheet alongside famous names. Details here.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Helen Hunt on writing for the womags

My buddy Helen Hunt is a guest blogger over at The Literary Project, where she talks about writing for the women's magazines. I well remember Helen announcing her first womag publication which was only two years ago, but since then she has sold dozens of stories! She's planning to run some writing courses on short story writing, which will be well worth attending, so do get in touch with her or keep a watch on her blog.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Blog for Girls

Here's an interesting and worthwhile competition, for all you bloggers out there. Write a blog entry designed to provoke discussion about breaking the barriers to girls' education in the developing world, and enter it into the competition here. The prize is a 5-day trip to Ethiopia to witness some of Plan's aid projects at first hand.

Blog entry should be 400-600 words, deadline is 30th May. For full details click the link above.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Linen Press

Linen Press, my favourite small publisher, now has a facebook page. If you're a facebooker please go take a look and 'like' them. Right now there's an offer on - buy two of their latest releases and get £4 off, when bought through their website. I've read one of the books in the offer - White Lies - and it's a stunner (see little review on my books blog).

Monday, 2 May 2011

May - it's all happening!

Right then, now we've got that wedding out of the way and there are no more pesky bank holidays to ruin our routines, it's time to knuckle down and get back to writing. My poor novel's been totally neglected for a fortnight, and I'm only about 5000 words away from writing The End. One last push and I'll have a first draft.

Here are two ideas to get you writing in case you're needing some inspiration.

1. Write 150 words inspired by a picture of a fountain-pen and spilt red ink to win a critique from Nicola Morgan, as part of the run up to the launch of her book Write to be Published. Details and a taster of the book here.

2. Join Sally Quilford's challenge to write 80,000 words in 80 days. The actual start date was yesterday but it's not too late to join. Just think, write 1000 words a day and by late July you could have a full-length novel all ready for editing...

Whatever you're writing, enjoy yourself writing it, and good luck!