Thursday, 26 April 2012

Drawing your characters

One piece of advice I've heard several times is that to help visualise your characters it is a good idea to find a picture, either online or in a magazine, of someone who looks roughly as you imagine your character to be. I know Sally Q's male heros all tend to look like Sean Bean...

Womag writer and Pocket Novels author Douglas McPherson goes a step further. He's a talented artist, and likes to sketch his characters to help bring them to life when he's writing.  Here's his sketch of the main character of one of his recent pocket novels - this is Natty Smalls, who's obsessed with vintage 50s clothing:

Wish I could draw like that! And here's how My Weekly pictured Natty, on the final published pocket novel:

Does anyone else do this? Or have other tips for how to visualise your characters?

Incidently, Douglas has a book entitled Closer! just out with Linford Romance Library - under the name Julia Douglas. He says: "There's a belief in the publishing world that women prefer to by books by women and men prefer books by men. It's why JK Rowling used her initials, so boys wouldn't be put off buying books by a woman. Closer! is a romance, so I thought, if it's good enough JK, it's good enough for me!"

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Womag-writing article series

I've just come across this useful series of articles by womag writer, Lydia Jones.

Well worth a read for anyone wanting to break into the women's magazine fiction market. She says it all much better than I could!

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

World Book Night and Complementary World Book Night

World Book Night is on 23rd April. It's a lovely idea, but as Nicola Morgan points out here there is a better, simpler way of promoting books and readership, benefitting authors, publishers and bookshops alike.

She suggests that those who love reading (obviously, that's all of you lot) buy a book to give away to a friend, family member or acquaintance, in the spirit of WBN. Buy a book you've loved yourself, and pass it on to someone you think might love it too. Ideally, buy the book from an independent bookshop, then everyone's a winner.

I'm going to buy my lovely neighbour a copy of Before She Was Mine by Kate Long. Because I think she'd like it. Hope you'll all join in, too!

Monday, 16 April 2012

Some womaggy news and a charity competition

1. Over at Take A Break Towers, they have a new lady Claudia Woodward in charge of sending out payments for stories, and she appears to be super-efficient. Sarah England and I have both received payment for stories, which then sent us scurrying off to the newsagents to see if we were in the current Fiction Feast. But we're not -we're due to be in the next issue (out later this month).

This is great news - there is nothing worse than having to wait ages for payment. Now you know that when you receive notification of payment, your story will be in the next issue, and you haven't missed its publication. Well done TAB!

2. Woman's Weekly HQ have sent a letter out to their regular contributors, pleading for more 1 and 2-page stories. 1-page stories should be 900-1000 words, and 2-pagers should be 1800-2000 words. Don't send odd length stories as they are harder to fit into the magazine. Longer stories are ok for the fiction specials.

They're also asking for more unusual stories, and especially humour. Avoid relationship break-up stories and present tense as they've had a glut of those recently. Read the latest issues (and remember the Fiction Special is available on Kindle these days) to keep up to date.

3. And a charity competition - take a look at this great competition which aims to raise money for a cancer charity. It's being run by writer Kath Kilburn who is a regular name in both the womags and writing mags. Entry fee £2.50, stories may range from 50 to 1000 words, and must include the phrase 'knock on effect'. Deadline 14th May, top prize is £100 or half the entry fees. The rest of the entry fees goes to the charity, The Knock On Effect which aims to break the taboo of cancer, and get people talking about it. It's about survival not suffering.

I bet we've all been touched by cancer in one way or another. What a brilliant charity, and a really great competition supporting it. Hope you all enter it. I'm going to.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Apologies for lack of posts

I was away last week in the Lake District, experiencing all four seasons in four days and very nearly spending the night stuck in a blizzard on the Kirkstone Pass.
I'm deeply immersed in writing my new novel at the moment, so blog posts may be few and far between, for which I apologise. Do keep sending me news snippets relating to the world of womag writing though, and I'll post them up as and when.
Meanwhile, pop over to Karen's blog, where Helen Hunt is talking about how to turn your marvellous short story beginnings into complete stories, ready to submit. Check out Helen's forthcoming day retreat for writers, too.
And Della Galton is talking about flash fiction. She's running a day course on it later this month which will be well worth attending if you enjoy writing the shorter pieces.