Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Woman's Weekly Workshops 2014

Woman's Weekly have announced a whole series of workshops for both short story writers and serial writers to take place during 2014 in London.

Go here for details.

I have never tried to write a serial but must admit I'd quite like to try one, so I think I might go to one of the serial writing workshops. Now then, where's my diary?

Many thanks to Sam Tonge for alerting me. By the way if you haven't read her book, Doubting Abbey yet, you're missing out. I absolutely loved it. Currently it's selling on Amazon for just 59p (or 96c on the US Amazon site). And no, it's not one of the badly formatted ones I was having a moan about a week or so ago.

This will be my last post before Christmas unless something really urgent comes up in the next two days, so let me wish you all a very merry Christmas. Hope you get everything you dreamed of, and have a fun time whatever you are doing. I'm off on our annual Christmas skiing trip (yahoo! wahey! and other exclamations of deep joy!) this weekend. I'll be back before New Year so see you all then.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Wonderful winter reading

Some of the most prolific womag writers have published short story anthologies recently. So over the Christmas break, why not treat yourself to a few and see how the best writers do it? Most of the following are sitting waiting patiently on my Kindle, along with about 60 other To Be Read books. So many books, so little time!

Karen Clarke's collection of twist-ending stories is a bargain at £2.99 because it contains 55 stories - a very generous collection!
Karen's a wonderful writer who has sold hundreds of stories over the last 3 or 4 years.

Behind Closed Doors and other tales with a twist

Teresa Ashby is a writer who appears in UK women's magazines most weeks. She's certainly one to learn from.Here's her latest collection, more twist enders.

The Painting & other stories

Let's stick to the theme of twist enders for a while longer. Della Galton has published a whole series of her short stories, in her Daily Della collections. This is one of the range which contains several twist in the tale stories.

One Step Ahead (and other twist in the tale short stories)

If you're a regular reader of Take A Break's Fiction Feast you will know the name of Jo Styles, who sometimes seems to monopolise its pages. I adore her stories. And now she's published a collection. What a great no-nonsense title - does what it says on the tin!

Jo Styles Short Story Collection No.1

And finally, if your aim next year is to try to win writing competitions, why not take a look at Jo Derrick's collection of prize-winning stories, and see if you can work out why the judges chose them?

Twisted Sheets

There, that little lot should keep you going. All links are to the Kindle editions on but the ebooks are also available on other Amazon websites - easiest way to find them is to search on the author name.

If you enjoy these books please leave an Amazon review. We do love Amazon reviews. They make us feel all loved and appreciated.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

ebook quality

I've read a lot of Kindle ebooks recently, many of them self-published, others published by digital-only publishers, most of them by writer-friends. (They advertise on Facebook, and I just have to go and buy their books!) Without exception I've enjoyed reading every single one of them.

But, and it's a bit of a ranty but.

Some of them are full of errors. Typos, spelling mistakes, incorrect grammar and punctuation, and endless formatting problems. I do find this very off-putting. In most cases these errors could have been spotted and corrected by a careful final proof-read. The formatting problems can be avoided by doing a bit of research on how to publish on Kindle, and formatting can easily be checked after an initial upload. I do feel that if you are trying to sell a product, you should make it the very best it can be. You've slaved over your plot, characterisation, dialogue and description so why not also ensure your manuscript is pristine, error-free and perfectly formatted? Don't you owe it to your reader?

I've self-published a couple of books as you know, and perhaps some of you are reading this and tutting, saying 'people in glass houses....etc'. There may be a few errors in my own books, and if there are, I do apologise (if you spotted any, email me and I'll correct them and re-upload the books). But I know I made a huge effort to ensure they were as error-free as possible. I proof-read on screen, then printed them out, read through and corrected more errors, emailed them to my Kindle and read through again to check formatting, corrected more errors and only when I could find nothing more did I publish them.

Some of the ebooks I've read this year cannot have been proof-read, they're simply too full of problems. In one, the name of a story changed between the contents page and the start of the story. In another, the first page on my Kindle alone contained about 4 errors. In a third, the formatting was so poor there were paragraph breaks half way through sentences. These books have received some great Amazon reviews, and rightly so because they are good books with fabulous plots. But the formatting and punctuation errors feel like the elephant in the room - the big problem that no one is talking about. I could bear it no longer, hence this post.

I should also point out that some of the ebooks I've read this year have been perfectly formatted, with not a single mistake throughout the book. And those are an absolute joy to read.

So this is a bit of a plea to all self-publishers and small ebook-only publishers out there. Spend the time and get it right. Or if you don't feel you have the skills yourself, get someone else to do it for you. If you don't know anyone who can proof-read and format it for you, pay someone to do it, for instance offer very reasonably priced services for formatting, cover design and uploading (though they don't proof-read).

A beautifully-presented book is so much more professional than an error-ridden book. People are much more likely to review it, recommend it, and buy your next book if your first book was a quality product.