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competitions to enter, and hear from authors of all levels, from beginners to
Warners Group Publications plc,
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information, as well as bonus material created specially for the website. This THE EDITOR
Publisher: Janet Davison month were putting special focus on e-publishing, and if you havent visited
recently, you might have missed our month of daily writing prompts in June,
Editor: Jonathan Telfer so youll have thirty days of mini-exercises and prompts to inspire you.
Email: Bookmark it now, at
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Tel: 01354 818012
Sarah Plater is the co-author of Sophie Beal always wanted to Judith Spelman worked in
Advertising copy email:
two reference books, Foundation write features. For a long time, publishing before moving into
Portrait Photography and she assumed shed have to do newspaper and magazine
Subscriptions: Collette Smith Mastering Portrait Photography, time as a war zone reporter journalism. Now mainly
both published by Ammonite first. With children to get to freelance, Judith has contributed
Creative Writing Courses: Press. Mastering Portrait school, that was a no-go. Then to numerous publications.
Photography has remained in last year, her obsession with She has written and compiled
Competitions: the Amazon Photography top ten the writing process bore fruit several books and is currently since publication in November. with her first published article working on a biography. She
Competitions Department, Warners
Group Publications plc, 5th Floor, 31-32 Search for Ammonite Press on for Writing Magazine. Shes founded Sherborne Literary
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Warners Group Publications plc, Wilkinson created to promote blogs at http://sophiebeal. stepping down to concentrate
5th Floor, 31-32 Park Row, Leeds LS1 5JD
Mastering Portrait Photography. on her own writing.
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Cover Image Nick Cunard/ Writer Pictures AUGUST 2016 3

p3 Editor's letter.indd 3 23/06/2016 09:49

In this issue ...
15 From the other side of the desk
COVER STORY The publishing landscape from a literary agents perspective
16 Star interview: Kei Miller
From the hills above Jamaicas August 33 Grumpy Old Bookman: Submit, dont give up
Town to London academia, the Getting to grips with modern submission protocol
award-winning poet and novelists
voice resonates across boundaries 78 Publishing: Proof perfect Improve your
proofreading skills and increase your earning opportunities
26 On writing: Winston Churchill

26 How I got published:

Psychological crime writer Jenny Blackhurst

30 Beat the bestsellers

The techniques and style of Beatrix Potter COVER STORY 10 Be yourself
Discover your inner writer by writing just 500 words
42 Shelf life
Biographer Tom Bower picks his top five reads 34 Ten top tips: A world of opportunity
Whether youre looking for writing topics or markets, theres a lot to
74 Crime file: Emma Kavanagh be said for considering other countries

COVER STORY 44 Talk it over: Game on?

86 New author A reader asks whether a TV game show appearance might be good
profile: publicity for his writing
Peter Breakspear
The winner of the WM 45 Novel ideas
and Matador Books
competition for a debut novel explains COVER STORY 46 The business of writing:
how it feels to be a published author Social engagement
Is social media for writers just of frittering time, or a way
108 My writing day: Jemma Wayne of legitimately working?
The writer and journalist sits at her
grandfathers desk and explores complex COVER STORY 52 Subscriber spotlight
issues of love and identity WM subscribers share their publishing success stories

58 Circles roundup
Writing groups profile their
OUT AND ABOUT interests and activities

25 Away from your 59 Writers circles:

desk Get out of your
garret for some upcoming
Back soon! All ears
Manage dominant
activities and places to visit personalities and shrinking
violets to ensure your
writing group runs fairly

WRITERS NEWS 110 Notes from the

88 Your essential margin: Finding the
monthly round-up of right words
competitions, paying Lorraine Mace is lost for
markets, opportunities words when she reads her
to get into print and friends first attempt at
publishing industry news writing a novel

4 AUGUST 2016

p4 contents.indd 4 21/06/2016 12:07


COVER STORY 50 Fiction focus:
20 Whats it all about? Tales retold
Get to the heart of good Writers have always reimagined
writing and uncover the essence stories and retold classic tales
of your novel
70 Writing for children
24 Beginners: Trust your Newly confident readers love 66 Poetry workshop: Time to write
inner editor Writers tend to animal stories as much as Alison Chisholm explores a poem that celebrates
be perfectionists, but sometimes younger readers, as two popular discovering the creative process
youve just got to let it go authors explain
67 Poetry in practice
28 True lies 76 Fantastic realms: Advice on toying with line length
What is reality? In fiction, its not Thats magic!
actually real life and that isnt Magical elements pepper 68 Poetry primer: Poetry from A-Z
what readers really want anyway fantasy fiction, An alphabetic guide through the language of poetry
but consider
48 Under the microscope carefully how
The first 300 words of a readers youre going to
novel go under our forensic lens wield the wand
6 Miscellany

8 Letters

27 Editorial calendar

74 Behind the tape

Your legal procedure
queries answered

80 Writers web watch

AND EXERCISES Your writing problems solved

36 Train your brain: Pen pushers Outlining a novel

Creating an outline for a novel isnt a one-size-fits-all job. Try these
exercises to find the outline that works best for you

37 Train your brain: Red editing pen COVER STORY

12 Non-fiction: Ten steps to get your reference
39 Win cash prizes and publication in our book published and promoted
love story competition
72 Features desk: In their own words
40 Humour short story competition winner Conducting strong interviews and presenting them
in the best way possible are essential skills for non-
61 Win cash and publication in our subscriber-only fiction writers of all kinds
competition launch
83 Going to market
62 Dialogue-only short story competition winner
85 Research tips: Unobtrusive research
64 Read the winning entries in our holiday You can discover a lot about human behaviour by
poetry competition discreet observation

69 Enter our annual love poetry competition 103 Travel writing know-how AUGUST 2016 5

p4 contents.indd 5 21/06/2016 12:07


WRITING Rugs, drugs, ties, reads and laughs...
all that really matters is to keep writing

Sticking to the facts

on the carpet
book, said: We knew we had to publish Kits Philippa Gregory was asked by Stephanie
brilliantly eccentric celebration of the Great Nayor,, Do you read other
British pub, craft and design immediately. historical fiction novels?
The story of these unique Spoons carpets is No, I never. I find that it can too easily
marvellous and the book will be designed become fact in my mind. I only read
Spoons Carpets: An Appreciation by Kit and produced with care, attention and historical fact. One of my favorite authors
Caless is based on his popular blog http:// suitable trimmings: a fitting tribute to the is Alison Weir. She is wonderful because carpets themselves. she does not get intimidated by, or ignore,
Kit discovered that Wetherspoons 950-plus Kit Caless said: I am delighted to be women of power in history. There is a
UK pubs all have a unique carpet, inspired working to produce a beautiful book on the traditional prejudice against ambitious
either by the building or the name of the pub. glorious world of threaded wonders Ive been or successful women, but Weir simply
His blog poses the crucial question are any sent and collected onmy blog. reports fact. I also read modern fiction
two Wetherspoon carpets the same? Kit, a London-based writer and and classic literature. Some of my favorite
More than fifty of Spoons carpets are broadcaster works for publications authors for classic literature are George
featured, along with Kits text on the includingVICE, Architectural DigestandThe Eliot, Jane Austin
inspiration for each carpets design, the history Quietus. He is also co-founder of Influx and EM Forster.
of the pub and key facts and statistics about Press, a small independent publisher of
the branch and its regulars. fiction and creative non-fiction.
Rosemary Davidson, of Square Peg at Spoons Carpets: An Appreciation will be
Penguin Random House, who bought the published by Square Peg in October.

Figures of speech The USAs Scripps Natio

nal Spelling Bee

Winning ways with

Janga, 11, spelled
resulted in a tie as Nihar
the final stages, and
gesellschaft correctly, in
Feldenkrais to
Feldenkrais and Jairam Hathwar, 13, spe lled
draw level.
row there have
gesellschaft This is the third year in a
been co-champions. Before
that, the last
co-championship was in
As thi s yea rs com pet itio n progressed words
ges , including
derived from rarer langua
h Ga elic , Maori and
Afrikaans, Danish, Iris
uce d, larg ely because all top
Mayan were introd
about words with
spellers are knowledgeable
Greek or Latin roots.
denkrais, from
Jairams winning word Fel
tem of body
a trademark, means a sys
eas e ten sion.
movements intended to
t me ans a me chanistic type
Nirars gesellschaf
of social relationship.
ht about included
Other words they were rig
enedael, Hohenzollern,
euchologion, Kjeldahl, gro
juamave and zindi.

p6 Miscellany.indd 6 21/06/2016 12:13


Prescribing the comical cure-all Everythings

There can be no
escaping the message
It really is true:laughter is the best medicine. Not only does having a giggle improve from US writer
your mood, it also boasts a variety of actual health benefits, wrote Adrian Conti in the Melodie Ramone, who
Daily Telegraph. was quoted on the
So, to make everybody feel better, Adrian repeated some of the top jokes by British Goodreads website:
comedians, including: Write it. Just write it.
I went to my doctor and asked for something for persistent wind. He gave me a kite. Write it on receipts in the
Les Dawson, fromLes Dawsons Joke Book car while you wait for your kid to finish their
What do you call an alsatian in a grey jumper? A plain-clothes police dog. piano lessons, scribble on napkins at lunch with
Harry Hill, from Harry Hills Whopping Great Joke Book friends. Type on crappy typewriters or borrow
I said, Its serious doctor, Ive broken my arm in 20 places. He said: Well stop going computers if you have to.
to those places. Tommy Cooper, on his TV show Fill notebooks with ink. Write inside your
A cement mixer has collided with a prison van. Motorists are asked to look out for 16 head while youre in traffic and when youre
hardened criminals. Ronnie Corbett, fromThe Two Ronnies: The Complete Collection DVD sitting in the doctors office. Write the truth,
My husband can do the work of two men. Unfortunately those men are Laurel and write lies. Write the perfect spouse. Write your
Hardy. Jo Brand, during a live stand-up show dreams. Write your nightmares.
Write while you cry about what youre
writing, write while you laugh out loud at your
Pot book wows the joint own words. Write until your fingers hurt, then
keep writing more. Dont ever stop writing.
A pot-growing manual has won a major His book was one of 1,400 entrants in Dont ever give up on your story, no matter
book prize, reported David Downs in the 54 categories of the Benjamin Franklin what they say. Dont ever let anybody take
San Francisco Chronicle, an achievement Book Awards, one of the oldest and away your voice. You have something to say,
which he described as a new milestone for most respected book award programmes your soul has a story to tell. Write it. There is
cannabis legitimacy. in the USA. never any reason to be afraid. Just write it and
Cannabis Encyclopedia,, by George Van George Van Patten said at the awards then put it out there for the world. Shove it up
Patten (aka Jorge Cervantes) ceremony in Salt Lake City: a flag pole and see who salutes it. Somebody
won the Reference Category in After 33 years publishing will say its crap. So what? Somebody else will
Americas Independent Book cannabis books, Van Patten love it. And thats what writings about. Love.
Publishers Associations Benjamin Publishing is proud to receive Love of the art, love of the story, and love for
Franklin Awards, beating books this award from the IBPA, the and from the people who really understand
on the geology of southwestern first association to recognise a your work. Nobody else matters. Love yourself.
Maine, and Korean slang. cannabis book with an award. Love your work. Be brave. Just write. SEPTEMBER
2015 7

p6 Miscellany.indd 7 21/06/2016 12:12



We want to hear your news and views on the writing world, your advice for fellow writers
and dont forget to tell us what you would like to see featured in a future issue... a

Write to: Letters to the editor, Writing Magazine, Warners letters, a maximum of 250 words, are exclusive to Writing
Group Publications plc, 5th Floor, 31-32 Park Row, Leeds Magazine. Letters may be edited.) ri
LS1 5JD; email: (Include your When referring to previous articles/letters, please state
name and address when emailing letters. Ensure all month of publication and page number.


In reply to Catherine Smaridges letter (WM, July), I too struggle with
finding good books to read. I think a lot of publishers want fiction written
WRITE WHAT YOU WANT? to a formula, to repeat previous success. I think this makes some bestselling
authors lazy: because they have a contract and an audience already, they
Arent we a sensitive bunch? dont have to try as hard.
I recently received my manuscript after assessment by a I much prefer to read books in the young adult category. Although these
renowned and respected service. Like all writers, I hoped are aimed at young people, I usually find these stories start with a bang and
for a warm and rewarding critique. pull me in. That is what many adult books lack, I feel.
Do many of us, after reading a substantial and If you like scifi and detective fiction then read that Theres no shame in
informative report, actually wonder if we really possess reading what you enjoy. And if what you like does not exist then theres
sufficient aptitude for writing as a profession? your opening, put your ideas down on paper!
I pose the question: what do we do when our voice is LORNA SUGDEN
at odds with the accepted practices of publishing houses? March, Cambridgeshire
Do we go our own way (with no intent of thumbing our
nose to the respected critic) and risk not being published,

but still retain pride in our work? Or, do we conform for
the sake of better prospects and forsake the very art that
we have cultivated and nurtured?
PAIGE ELIZABETH TURNER Having retired three years ago, I bought paints and canvas to try out in
Evesham, Worcestershire my spare time its still sitting here; I started writing instead.
Now Im on my way to completing my first novel, it has been hard
A very good question, Paige. Write for the market or write work, but the achievement in getting this far is great.
for yourself? If publication is your aim, you need to at least bear With Writing Magazine, which I subscribe to, and the local writers
some basic considerations in mind (length, credibility...) but all group I attend, I have even managed to win my first short story
successful writers have styles that are in some way distinctive, so competition in my citys bookfest contest.
you shouldnt abandon the quirks that make your writing yours. I cant believe the enjoyment this has given me and the wonderful
Perhaps the trick is actually to find the right balance? people involved in all manner of writing that I have met along the way.
That said, Id still question when our voice is at odds with Just putting pen to paper, and it is you that is doing it, is a terrific
the accepted practices of publishing houses. Try to step back feeling. I only wish I had started years ago.
and deeply analyse your style and that critique again. Are you Who knows what could be around the corner, even at my age?
absolutely sure its your voice that was questioned? Honestly, DAVE FLINT
with no one else looking, are there no improvements to be made Portsmouth, Hampshire
without compromising your style, thereby actually strengthening
your voice? A warm and rewarding critique would not do its
job of pointing out improvements, and rare is the writer with
nothing left to learn! Ed

The star letter each month earns a copy

of the Writers & Artists Yearbook 2016,
courtesy of Bloomsbury,

8 AUGUST 2016

p8 Letters.indd 8 21/06/2016 11:13

They say you must learn the rules before you can break them.
Its very good advice, dont give up (Star Letter, WM, July). However, there is a rule that we are actively encouraged not to break.
I note the number of rejections the writer has received. This feels like The long sentence. Do whatever you have to do to make your writing
a success! The norm for a submission to agents and publishers (and in zing; rub a lucky rabbits foot, pray to James Joyce, deny yourself
many competition entries) is no response at all. access to social media, yet keep those sentences crisp and short. If not
A rejection would be preferable to being left hanging on for weeks then doom will be upon you! Come editing its full stops at the ready
or months. After all, we are told that rejection letters are an absolute and away you go, snip, snip, snip.
rite of passage. A personal response from an agent should be treated like But I do love a well-written long sentence. Recently Ive re-read Meg
winning the lottery. Rosoff s How I Live Now, with many long sentences that take you by
When I was involved in non-fiction (under a pseudonym) and the hand and carry you away, leaving you breathless by the end.
became well known the situation was different, as agents and The art of writing a long sentence seems to be a secret art known
publishers responded immediately. Meanwhile, as a relative only to the special few. Having read many articles that help my
newbie to the fiction world, its tough, but I look forward writing I find one article lacking. I would love to read one extolling
to actually receiving many rejections! the virtues of the long sentence, the pitfall and rewards, not just for
CHARLES KNIGHTLEY the writer but the reader as well.
Christchurch, Dorset


work. We put so much of ourselves into it, that it feels deeply personal
if its rejected. Its like being dumped, with no explanation, not even a
text saying, Its me, not you.
I dont think any of us expect to get shortlisted, never mind hired, for
every job we apply for, yet when I receive a rejection for something Ive
submitted, or no feedback at all, itll undoubtedly knock my resolve far
more than a thanks, but no thanks from a recruiting manager.
I only hope that I can draw on my experience in HR, to understand
that sometimes youre just not in the right place at the right time. But
next time, I might just be.
Great Barr, Birmingham
As a novice writer, Im not yet ready to submit stories or articles, but
having read Piers Blofelds From the Other Side Of The Desk (WM,
July), as well as letters from fellow writers bemoaning rejections or
lack of feedback from agents and publishers, I saw parallels with my
day job in human resources.
I sympathise with agents and publishers; they must get thousands
of unsolicited stories and articles on subjects theyre not currently
looking for. Itd be like receiving an application for an accountant
when Im looking to hire a chef. I wouldnt have time to provide
in-depth feedback to the accountant; Id be too busy recruiting a chef.
However, as writers, our hopes and dreams are wrapped up in our

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CWC Listing.indd 1 17/06/2016 09:44 The Writers Academy June.indd 1 20/04/2016 11:12
p8 Letters.indd 9 21/06/2016 11:13

yo u r
Write just 500 words to help you discover
your inner writer. Author and lecturer
James McCreet introduces a practical
exercise and considers why it works

s part of my MA Novel me more than it taught the students. Be yourself
course, I often ask the I found that these 500-word pieces The most persuasive explanation
students to do a short were, in every case, superior to the is that the exercise encourages
writing exercise that nominally creative work students writers to be nothing more or less
always has interesting were submitting for discussion in than themselves. Not authors or
results. Its quite simple. workshops. The voices were more writers or students. Such labels are
All they have to do is write 500 confident. The prose rhythms were awkward costumes we sometimes
words about a book from the wider- more natural and more innovative. wear when we sit down to the
reading list, explaining why they Even the least confident and least blank page. Too often, we write in
love it as a piece of writing. technically proficient students were character, stiffly attempting to be
I am clear on one very important producing highly readable work. something we cant quite define
point: this shouldnt be a review. I In short, each writers natural and it shows in the writing.
dont want to read a summary of personality was more clearly and Bad writing is often bad because
the story. I dont want to enter into powerfully expressed, regardless of its source is compromised. We write
value judgements or star ratings. The what they had to say about their in a fog of too-powerful influences
piece is intended for an audience of chosen book. or of urgent expectation. We strain
one me and has no other purpose Why did this happen? Why to express what should express itself
than to show me how the reader has did this short writing exercise clearly and naturally through the
engaged with the book as a piece of produce better quality writing chosen characters or situations. We
writing. I dont want to know about than the creative pieces the stand in the way of our own work,
the author or the books history or students had laboured over? It casting an obfuscating shadow.
the reputation of the title. I just want was an interesting conundrum This exercise absolves the writer
to know how the reader felt and why. that needed solving. Here, I offer of having to be anything else.
No mark is given. It counts not a jot some of my interpretations. Theres no trick, no tripwire. Just
towards the final degree.
I first gave this exercise to check

that my students were in fact Bad writing is often bad because its source is
reading some of the books on the
wider-reading list (some dont!) and
compromised. We write in a fog of too-powerful

to gauge the level of their reading inuences or of urgent expectation. We strain to express
engagement. Such things help me what should express itself clearly and naturally through
to understand the class and set
a teaching level. But the results the chosen characters or situations.
surprised me and probably taught

10 AUGUST 2016

p10 be yourself.indd 10 21/06/2016 11:18


relax and say what you really want Clarity of purpose is a wonderful many words we need to narrate
to say. Thats one of the keys to thing. Simply: what do I want to a scene or fill a chapter, so we
good writing. achieve with my 500 words? What can impose rough structures on
is its measure of success? How do everything we write. The problem
No consequences I show my reader what I want her comes when some people tend to
Its very important that I give no to see? Theres almost an element write into a void, not perceiving
grade for this exercise. Too often, of writing sales copy. You have to where a scene will end. In such
MA students become obsessed with persuade and prove and infect an cases, the narrative often loses
grades rather than with becoming audience with your contagious shape or consistency.
better writers. There are no enthusiasm. This is a basic drive
distinctions conferred in the world behind all good writing. Deadlines are good
of publishing no certificates given. Hugely successful writers such
You get published or you dont. Knowing your audience as Douglas Adams or George
Thats the only pass mark. The second part of the challenge is RR Martin are allowed to miss
So the students have nothing to knowing your audience. Vladimir deadlines, but the rest of us need to
lose in this exercise, and having Nabokov claimed that he wrote find fame before we earn that right.
nothing to lose makes them free. for an audience of one: the man Deadlines make us professional
They dont need to second-guess he saw in the shaving mirror each and can help to structure our
me or worry about the right way morning. It helps to have a sense development as writers. Eventually,
to complete the task. They can be of who youre writing for. Thats we must impose and adhere to our
irreverent, often revealing levels of why letters are so easy to write (for own. In the meantime, a relatively
humour that have never appeared in those of us who still do). When short deadline is a good prompt and
their creative work. In other words, you know your audience, you settle a positive sign of progress.
there is nothing to fear. We write into a tone. Its when writers dont
better with such liberty. conceive an audience that they drift Trees/wood separation
into such bad habits as over-telling All of these ideas may seem
No rules or haemorrhaging plot detail too obvious, and yet many writers
Liberty is also a result of there early in a novel. fail persistently to put them into
being no rules. This is not a piece In this case, my students know practice when working on creative
of academic writing, so formality enough about me to hold me in pieces. Its a paradox that stems
goes out of the window. Balanced mind as they write. Perhaps they from the urge to be a writer and
argument is not required only seek to please me. Perhaps they to produce writing when whats
persuasiveness. Its not a review, and seek to antagonise me. Perhaps they really required is to be yourself,
so there is no particular format or simply dont care what I think (a understand the purpose and write
layout to be followed. The piece sets healthy attitude, within reason). without fear for a known audience.
its own rules for itself with the tone Whatever, their approach, they write However simple that sounds, it is a
it chooses to adopt. as if they are speaking directly to frightening thing to embrace such
Such freedom in a creative piece me and their voices flow fluently. freedom. Its a risk. But its also
often leads to the familiar blank-page Almost always, I can hear their hugely liberating.
paralysis, but here the gaping page is spoken voice as I read the exercise. When I point out to my students
an enticement, an invitation to make how good their exercise pieces are,
a Rorschach blot of your own. Word limit theyre often surprised. How can it be
Another limitation is the 500- so good? they say. They werent even
Writing with purpose word maximum. Its good to have trying. It wasnt even difficult. They
With all this talk of liberty, its worth a specified word-count because it were just saying what they thought.
remembering the few limitations allows you to establish a structural Thats why it was so good, I say
imposed on the exercise. The first of framework. You know how much (no doubt a little smugly).
these is the requirement to express or how little needs to be said. In Good writing isnt difficult. You
your enjoyment of a favoured book. this case, were talking about a shouldnt have to try. You simply use
Its a question that naturally asks page of single-spaced text. the requisite tools and techniques to
you to think in terms of examples, That allows you to split the express yourself, or your characters,
but also to make your pleasure clear. space notionally into thirds or your story. Take off the writers
Often as writers, we can become or quarters or fifths so you costume and drop the authorial
confused with the clamouring know roughly where the voice. Relax. Just be yourself.
voices inside our heads as we try to intro will be, how it develops,
narrate a scene. There are story, tone, where examples might be used
pace, character, structure and the and how much space is available for
innumerable stylistic opportunities to the sign-off. For an example of James 500-word exercise,
hand. Theres so much to think about In practice, this is no different an exploration of Vladimir Nabokovs Lolita,
that our focus can become hazy. The to any piece of creative work. see his own example at
writing suffers. Experience tells us roughly how AUGUST 2016 11

p10 be yourself.indd 11 21/06/2016 11:18

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p012_wmagaug16.indd 12 17/06/2016 09:34


to get your reference book

published and promoted
Sarah Platers Mastering Portrait Photography hasnt left the Amazon
photography top ten since publication last November. Here she explains how
to get a specialist reference book accepted for publication and keep it selling

ave you considered combining your writing skills with another
interest or area of expertise? If you are passionate about a topic
and can help others learn about it, you could be the ideal person to
write a reference book.
Although it may seem less glamorous than a fiction debut, theres
a healthy demand for how-to books and guides which educate or entertain, and
youll experience the same swell of pride when you see your book on the shelf
in shops and online. Follow these ten steps to get you started.

websites and note similar titles they have

SECTION 1: released as well as the date of publication.
PLANNING While it might be tempting to send a
proposal to every single publisher on your
initial list, a generic approach is less likely
1 Research the market to be effective, and the rejections (or lack
for your book of response entirely) can be dejecting. Mastering Portrait network of contacts?
Publishers are commercially minded. Instead, narrow down the publishers Photography, Sarah See samples of their work and check
They commission titles that they to those whose other books you were Plater & Paul Wilkinson whether they are able to commit the
believe will sell sufficiently to recoup most impressed with. Bear in mind that (Ammonite Press) necessary time to both producing the
their costs and return a profit. Thats publishers who have recently released book and promoting it.
why your first step is to research a title that is similar to your idea are
the subject area of interest and the unlikely to commission new work that
publishers that operate within it. might cannibalise sales of a current book.
Go into bookstores and libraries to HOW TO SUBMIT
see whats currently available on similar 3 You dont have to do it
topics. Flick through as many books alone collaborate 4 Chapter lists and
as possible, noting down their format, Reference books often feature high- sample chapters
length, number of images/graphs/tables quality images. You may wish to team up As part of your proposal, prepare a
used, print quality and publisher. with someone who specialises in creating chapter list to show exactly what topics
Then research online. What are the illustrations or photographs, preferably you anticipate covering in your book.
top-selling books on Amazon in the within the subject area of interest, in Select one of the most compelling
same category, and who published order to strengthen your proposal. chapters and draft it in full. This will
them? What do customer reviews praise Alternatively, you may want a show the style, length and format of
and criticise about them? co-author who can share the graft of the chapters, including any elements
Your research will give you an idea of hitting the word count with you. By such as tables, summary sections,
the likely demand for your book and adding their expertise and providing discussion questions and so on.
the competition it will face, as well as an alternative viewpoint or source If your book will need to use images
prompting ideas for making your book of experience into the text, you are that are owned by a third party (eg
different from, and better than, others. likely to end up creating a more archive photographs, photographs
comprehensive reference book. taken on private property or copyright
2 Shortlist your If you are considering working with illustrations, for example), then contact
potential publishers someone else, research them carefully and the copyright holder to find out their
Buy a copy of the Writers & Artists meet them face-to-face. Do they offer any terms, costs and whether they would
Yearbook and highlight all the publishers advantages, such as a high profile in the consider granting permission for use
that cover your niche. Look on their area that the book relates to or a strong of the images in return for a credit. AUGUST 2016 13

p13 Publish your ref book.indd 13 21/06/2016 11:14

Photography News Issue


BaBies (012 Mo nths


Light fantastic
Portrait shooting )

s (012 mont
think about when and where
s will be to have your shoot.
the benefit in your picture its in a flash the most successful time
g is easy to get into and
tends to be in the morning,
Studio-style portrait lightinfollow our guide and youll be shooting better
immediately after theyve
been fed. shoot indoors
Just you can control the ambient
immediately obvious. bright room with plenty
temperature, and choose
Paul Wilkinson and Gill
McGowan of natural lightflash will
Pictures by Sarah Plater, atmosphere and possibly kill the
Words by Kingsley Singleton wake the baby. Bear in

Lesson BaBie
newborn shoots can take mind that
between four and six hours,
Good portraits rely
on good lighting, and if you start the shoot too so
most of the time that
comes from working late in the day (particular
possible to take the winter months), you ly during
with flash. Yes, its certainly available light, can quickly run out of natural
great people pictures
Beanbags, beds, and large light.
has its restrictions. sofa cushions placed on
but that method always worse, natural
For better or (frequently) and often low in floor can all work as places the
light is inconsistent, fleeting
to lay the baby. Cover whatever
intensity. Its also hard
to modify; you might soft surface you choose
from where you to use with a large, clean
have to move the subject Blankets enable you to blanket.
certainly cant move have a variety of colors
want them, because you in the
unwieldy diffusers final set of shots and also
the sun, or use large,
the light is low you create a seamless studio-sty
and reflectors. And if le
walk the tightrope of
using slower shutter background. remembe Above
or raising the ISO r that the baby wont be
speeds than youd like, issue youre nappy, so anything you wearing a theres been nine months
of nervous excitement and
and losing quality. Whichever to adapt or use may get dirty. up to the new arrival. While
the baby is feeding, use
preparation leading
and forced use a hot water bottle filled
constantly challenged details around the house the time to capture
means, although many with warm (not boiling) that tell the story of the
compromise. All that water has led to this moment. love and anticipation that
the opposite, that its to heat the blankets slightly
people would assume so the chill of the fabric
and natural light
actually flash thats easy initial contact doesnt wake on
thats difficult.
into realising that
the baby. for shots from
But pushing yourself create a hollow in the blankets above,
convince you its time to cradle the baby; for shots
can be difficult. So, to
or to work on honing from the sides, a firmer,
to give flash a go flatter surface normally
have this month we works best.
the skills you already start by laying the baby
and flash lighting
caught up with two studio on their back and then
and Paul Wilkinson, slowly
experts, Sarah Plater and gently tidy up the pose
Portrait Photography. so that the hands and feet
co-authors of Mastering there are few things that
is the big draw of are where you need them
So what, for them, compare to being asked
For Sarah, its the to to be. for nude shots, bend
using flash for portraits? photograph a proud parent Above knees and cross the legs the
appeals; Being able s new arrival. Babies change
consistency of flash that studio light full-length shots of newborn to hide the babys private
to set up predictable, controllable and develop so quickly babies are perfectly complement each time you press a limb parts.
that I can shoot all year that the photos you take ups of their tiny features, ed by close- into place, hold it there
anywhere I go means
results. If I was soon be the only record today will which change rapidly over
the first few weeks. for a
round and get consistent of how they looked at that few seconds until you feel
solely reliant on natural
light, Id be limited time. NewborNs the baby relax into the pose.
and forever trying to
however, you will need afterward, gently move
to slow shutter speeds, to consider the babys abilities the baby onto his or her
windows! But isnt it milestones at each age and the best time to get a shot side,
push subjects closer to when planning a shoot. changing the blanket at
more effort, in terms of the amount of gear,
Patience of a sleepy, curled-up newborn the same time for maximum
On this Sarah is
than using natural light? kit packs down
and confidence are crucial: is when the baby is between Change your angle and variety.
my you will need to work around one and two weeks old. experiment with the distance
unequivocal. No way the babys feeds and moods, most cases, the baby will in and
car, which makes it while also exuding calm be settled and feeding direction of the light falling
and fits into my Smart properly, on to the babyhaving
easy for me to transport
to clients homes, that both the baby and so but will allow you to adjust the baby
his or her parents will relax their pose while theyre parallel to a window will
where they feel most relaxed. while asleep. mean the light is flatter,
Photography is all about
light. How it falls you work. excited new parents often shadows, which works for with fewer Above
shapes and defines want to capture their son some shots but not others.
on the subject, how it almost infinite daughter just as nature or for many moms, one of
and studio lighting provides created themnaked. in getting newborn shots the most precious memories
this even with one ensure the baby is comfortab order to perfect takes lots of time time spent cuddling up
to their new son or daughter,
of parenthood is the
possibilities to change patience. if the baby wakes, and inhaling the scent
Paul. You can easily le you need to warm the of their skin and falling
or two lights, enthuses hard, contrasty to about 86f (30C). room take photos of details in in love with them. Lifestyle
shots like this capture
get silhouettes to profiles; room or focus your attention the those moments perfectly.
gradings; high-key to low-key; on any siblings while the
light, to soft 78
lighting; dramatic to foundatio n Course is settled again. baby
rim lighting, cheek can do in the
is so much you
gentle. There

studio, its always exciting!
learn how to do
But even Paul had to like most
it, because his background,
rs starting out, was shooting in
Portrait Photogra
Phy 79

Studio lighting
provides almost infinite means that you can make
creative portraits that
would be

possibilities to change Above Studio lighting

is all about control, and
the freedom it supplies
light modified with a beauty
dish is all that was required.
light even with one
light alone. Here, a single
impossible with natural

two lights 140922 Book Launch

invite.indd 1
Foundation Course:
25/09/2014 08:59

Portrait Photography,
The publisher will need to take any credentials to write it, then they might Sarah Plater & Hannah BUILD YOUR SALES
additional costs into consideration when just offer you a contract. MacGregor (Ammonite
forecasting whether they will make a Its worth getting a legal expert to go Press) 8 Launching your book
return on your book. through this document with you and Give your book the best possible start
you may wish to query or renegotiate in the world by holding a launch
5 Submitting your proposal certain elements. One part which event. This is likely to be at your own
What will be different about your book needs careful consideration is the expense, but you dont need to spend
that means people will choose it over a agreed deadline for your content. The much and its an opportunity for you
similar title from another publisher? Why publisher may have a date in mind: to to sell copies of your book, which will
is now the right time to publish it? Why tie in with Christmas sales or release hopefully more than cover the costs.
are you the right person to write it? dates of other titles in a series, or You could arrange to host it in a
Your initial contact with potential to coincide with a day that has PR section of a pub, restaurant or library,
publishers will need to answer these potential (eg Blue Monday for a book or hire a conference room. If there is
questions, succinctly and professionally. on happiness). Alternatively, they may a location that would be relevant to
Your research from Step 1 will support ask you to suggest a deadline. Either the theme of your book eg a local
your answers to the first two questions, way, take time to calculate whats museum for a local history title, for
so now consider your credibility as realistic for you. If you work full-time example then thats even better.
an author. or have other commitments, how many If the event will be open to the
Have you had magazine articles on the hours can you commit to writing per public, promote it as widely as
topic published? Do you write a popular week? How many words can you write possible: on social media, through
blog about it? Do you have qualifications, per hour? Think back to the sample friends and family, in the local press
experience or awards on the topic? These chapter you did for Step 4. and any specialist press relevant to the
will help to reassure the publisher that Things usually take longer than books topics. If there are local clubs
you have the necessary expertise. expected, so be generous in your or groups whose members would be
Look on the publishers website for calculations. After drafting and editing interested in your book, make contact
contact details and preferred submission your work, youll also need time to with the organisers and attend a
processes or refer to the directory in the draft image captions and read through meeting where you can talk about your
Writers & Artists Yearbook. everything once more with fresh eyes. book and invite them to attend the
Contact one publisher at a time, launch. Are there local shops where
working through your shortlist from Step 7 Proofing and authors copies your prospective readers might shop?
2. If theres no response, wait at least a Your text will be edited by the publisher, For example, if your book is about
fortnight before approaching the next then laid out by a designer. Youll receive gardening, approach local garden
publisher. Persevere: expect rejection as a digital copy for checking through centres and ask them to put leaflets
part of the process, ask for feedback and before it goes to print, and the publisher about the event at their tills.
amend your proposal as appropriate. will usually commission a professional
proofreader, too. 9 Promoting your book
Make time to read through the whole Your book launch is a newsworthy
SECTION 3: book where you wont be disturbed and event immediately after it happens.
PREPARING TO dont rush it otherwise the first thing Contact local and specialist media

youll see when you receive your authors again, focusing each time on the most
copy might be a mistake (when its too relevant angle, eg that youre a local
late to fix it). Dont be tempted to leave author for the local press; that the
6 Contracts and deadlines anything until the printed proofs, as book addresses a specific need which
If a publisher agrees that demand for doing so means you wont get a chance to will be of interest to readers for the
your book exists and that you have the double check the correction. specialist press. Include images of

14 AUGUST 2016

p13 Publish your ref book.indd 14 21/06/2016 11:14


From the

Even though its party season the

publishing lifestyle isnt as glam as people
TN think, says literary agent Piers Blofeld
hen I tell people that I am a literary agent, one
of the most common reactions (other than I
know someone who is/am writing a book) is
some sort of rib-nudging remark about all those good,
boozy lunches I must have.
Sadly that is now a myth. Not only are the lunches
less frequent, but they are greatly less boozy than they
were. There was a generation of agents and publishers,
prematurely gathered into the great slushpile in the sky, for

Book launch and flyer

RRP 19.99 whom lunch wasnt lunch without at least a couple of bottles
of claret. Now it is much more likely to be a couple of
OS. glasses of mineral water.
your book cover and your launch CREATE THEM. We live in a more corporate, healthier and, it must be
event to encourage them to devote admitted, faintly duller world. However the one time of year
more space to it. when these out-of-date stereotypes do get at least partially
Liaise with your publisher to get of its cover in every video you create. dusted off is the summer party season which is now upon us.
copies of your book sent to specialist Return to those clubs and groups Across London swish locations are being decorated and
print and online media for review. Then, that you invited to the launch and bottles of just about passable white wine and prosecco
after the reviews have been published, ask to speak or host a workshop, are being uncorked. But while it is easy to imagine that
contact the editorial teams and offer bringing copies for you to sell and these are terribly glam affairs, I am afraid to say the reality
to write exclusive content for the two sign. Offer local book and specialist is somewhat more prosaic and in truth these parties are
or three magazines or blogs most read stores signed copies and approach neither very wild or very glamorous.
by your target readers. Maybe this organisers of festivals which your There tends to be an inverse rule whereby the bigger
content could explain the behind-the- target market might attend whether the company the less fun the party. They are all really just
scenes process for the book, or offer an you can talk there. an opportunity for agents and editors who have in many
additional set of tips. For the editors to instances known and worked with each other for years to
accept the content, it will need to be of 10 Following up with chat and gossip over a few glasses of wine.
value to their readers; in return, you and a second proposal The people I often feel get the worst deal are authors. The
your book will get credited. Have you got a second idea? As household names are of course greatly lionised and fussed
Promote the book (and engage with youve established your credibility over, but the newer, less successful authors who still perhaps
readers) using social media. This is also and built a relationship with your cant quite believe they have a publishing contract will often
a great channel for sharing additional publisher, nows the time to ask. First only know their agent, editor and perhaps a publicist.
content that may be relevant to target however, you need to return to Step The skill set and approach to life that makes for a good
readers, especially video, which is 1 and complete the research again, author is often (but by no means always) not what makes for
becoming easier to record and edit for so you can demonstrate to them that someone who is a natural party animal and I always worry
little or no cost. You could record an demand for a second title exists. that some authors feel they really have to make the effort, so
interview, answer common questions, The publisher is more likely to they book the train tickets and the hotel room and turn up
rebuff common misconceptions, read be interested in another proposal to have a not terribly good evening.
out excerpts from your book or offer from you if theyve seen you are Making a good impression on your publisher is hugely
additional content on the theme. pro-active in promoting the book, important and something I will write about in the next
Offer some videos as exclusive content and sales are strong. This is an column, but if you are ever in the situation of wondering
for magazines and blogs so they can ongoing process. If you launch your whether you should go to your publishers party, only if
promote them on their social media book and market it feverishly then your really think youll have a good time otherwise it
channels. Make sure you include a abandon your efforts two months really doesnt matter if you dont. You certainly wont be
reason to buy your book and a picture later, sales will drop off. missing some wild bacchanal! AUGUST 2016 15

p13 Publish your ref book.indd 15 21/06/2016 11:14


f e r
dif view

From the hills above Jamaicas August Town to London

academia, award-winning poet and novelist Kei Millers voice
resonates across boundaries. Interview by Tina Jackson

Keis Augustown is a shanty town a two-stage process. One thing, then

in Jamaica where old, blind Ma Taffy, a second thing, came together. Kamau
sitting on her porch, senses that a Brathwaite is a poet in the Caribbean
terrible danger is coming. When her that I very much look up to, and years
grandson Kaia comes home from ago I was a student at the University
school, his Rastafarian dreadlocks shorn of the West Indies and he said: It is
by his teacher, Ma Taffy knows that the time to write about Bedward. And I
Autoclaps is on its way. thought, yeah. And, when can you write
Augustown is a slim novel it but that story in a different kind of way?
the involved stories it tells, including A conversation with a friend gave him

that of the real-life Jamaican preacher, the beginnings of an answer.
f you only read one new novel Alexander Bedward, who believed that And not long after that, another
this summer, WM recommends he would fly to heaven and who paved Caribbean poet, younger than me,
the spell-binding Augustown, by the way for Rastafarianism, have had a Ishion Hutchinson, and me were
Jamaican poet and author Kei slow genesis. This novel took forever talking, recounts Kei. And he is very
Miller, winner of the 2014 Forward because I was so interested in story. I in the thrall of vocabulary and uses
Prize for Poetry. Its 223 pages are didnt want the beauty of language to elevated language, but he was telling
crammed with narratives, ideas, detract from the story. Augustown is me this story, this horrific story about
politics, love, tragedy and marvels, all purposely stripped down, to focus on how his teacher at school cut off his
conveyed with deep humanity, searing the story and whats happening, Kei dreadlocks and his mother went to
insight and lyrical clarity. says. The beginnings of Augustown was school and punched the teacher. Id

16 AUGUST 2016

p16 interview.indd 16 21/06/2016 10:43


You write what
you want to write in
the way you want
to write it. You make
up the writing
as you go along.

never heard him slip into Jamaican was a time when he was one of the most on myself it wouldnt be there at all. Being
Creole before... and it was the important preachers in the Caribbean, a novelist and an academic, Im always
language he used, to describe this and Rastafarianism is impossible thinking who is telling the story, what are
trauma. To tell the story about this without Bedward. the politics of the story? That criticism
boy, and the story of Bedward. These Its a story that Kei, who has an comes very easily and naturally to me.
are the two kinds of beginnings, and academic PhD and teaches creative One of the most famous names in
years later I thought them over and writing at Royal Holloway, wanted post-colonial literary fiction provided
connected between the two stories. to reclaim and repurpose with his Kei with his lightbulb moment. Salman
Keis Augustown is a real place. characteristic blend of social justice and Rushdies Shame was the book that
Where I grew up in Jamaica is on a compassion. I wanted to tell it exploded my world it has a wonderful
hill that looks over August Town, he not from the perspective of middle moment where he stops the narrative
says. Simply by making it one word is class people committed to mock completely and says; lets just pause
my nod to fictionalising it. Its a place the people who need to believe they and tells you the whole story of how the
thats not far from where I grew up in can fly. What does that flight mean book came about, and how he weaves
some ways scary and violent but a place for people who are so constantly the story into the rest of the novel. And I
I knew was full of history. Its a book oppressed? The flight in Augustown is thought, how do you get away with that?
about place and I very much know the what lies at the heart of a lot of what It has informed all of his work since,
people from those worlds. Houses I Ive been writing what a lot of people including his teaching. When you teach
know, my own family. consider magic realism but the people creative writing you talk about authorial
The story of Bedward, and his who live there would never consider intrusion and I think, how can an
attempted flight is one that, he says, magic realism. How do we privilege author intrude on himself? Its authorial
is still told and used as to diminish one system of belief over another? inclusion you are allowed into your
people. Its a story you could hear. A Like Keis other works, Augustown is own book. It pisses some people off,
story of this stupid preacher who said post-colonial metafiction, layered with though. For a long while Ive simply
he was going to fly. A story that middle meanings that transcend straightforward been trying to get away with it.
class people would laugh at. The poet narrative and ask questions about whose He is too aware of the nuances of
Linton Kwesi Johnson said that if you story is being told and who is telling language not to be wary of his own
were stupid at school, people would it. The meta-fiction is probably always technique. I have to temper myself
say: Stop being a Bedward. Its still there, he admits. I think its something I from moments of authorial inclusion
there about how could the folk believe fall back on very easily. Its obviously there to suddenly stop the story and
in something so ridiculous but there in this book but if I was even more strict accuse the reader of reading it wrongly. AUGUST 2016 17

p16 interview.indd 17 21/06/2016 10:44


Thats very much the post-colonial the spiritual language of Rastafarianism Very literally, Id known these writers,
critic bursting out from the seams of to examine the way territories have wed read together at festivals and I
the fiction and wagging its finger at been understood and controlled through understood myself as a young writer in
the reader. It can get in the way, but history. He wrote it as a diversion this tradition. I was never aware of me
hopefully it works if its done right. from Augustown. It was completely a fighting to be a part of British literature,
He is also profoundly aware that one distraction from writing this novel, he I was always a part of the literature of
of his greatest skills as a writer his poets smiles. I was on sabbatical and meant to where I came from.
gift for conjuring image and metaphor finish Augustown and I thought Id write Kei became a writer because: I cant
might disguise, but will not help poems and a Rasta was in my head. do anything else! He laughs deeply.
him solve, the problems that he comes When it became a prizewinning Im really shit at everything. Despite
up against as a novelist. In my career success, Kei found himself adopted by being a nominal academic now and
as a writer, poetry has been the more British literary culture in a way that he having a PhD (stupidly, I decided to do
prominent thing, or at least the thing hadnt imagined. Then I was embraced an academic one), I dont have a first
Ive been most known for, and theres as a black British poet and Id never degree I dropped out and all this came
something I have to teach myself, because conceived myself as British, or black after. But when I was at university, Errol
I write across so many genres: theres a British, or part of British literature. Hill, a Trinidadian playwright, came
kind of description that disappoints me. Im not disdaining it Id just never and gave a lecture. I knew by then I
When theres a problem in a novel, if thought of it until then, he says. was dropping out. He said, take this
youre a poet you can throw every kind of Kei came to the UK from Jamaica with all the kindness, a career in the
beautiful language at a scene, you lard it in 2004, first to Manchester University arts is something you can only do if you
with metaphors about the post-colonial where he did an MA and supported cant do anything else. And I thought,
condition, you throw in 1,000 yellow himself as a slam poet, and then to thats why Im going to be a writer. I
butterflies but it doesnt solve the Glasgow to do his PhD. He had already remember thinking, very possibly Im
problems of plot, and character. dropped out of a degree course at the not going to earn the kinds of money
Augustown is Keis tenth book: since University of the West Indies, but my friends who will be doctors and
2006 he has published two other novels, was making a name for himself as an lawyers might make. And thats okay.
four poetry collections, a book of short emerging Caribbean writer by the time He thinks hes still discovering what
stories, a book of essays, and edited the he arrived in the UK, and his writing he wants to write, but he knows his great
2007 anthology New Caribbean Poetry. identity had been formed. subject is the Caribbean. There can never
The book for which he is best known, By the time Id moved to Scotland Id be enough stories about that world. It
at least in the UK, is his Forward Prize- written three books and I knew the kind could be ambition, it could be arrogance,
winning collection, The Cartographer of literature I was writing. It gave me but it should be possible to write large
Maps His Way to Zion, which contrasts a security Id always been conscious literature about a small island.
two systems of knowledge the logical, that there was a great literature from After ten years of prolific publication,
scientific voice of the cartographer and the place where I was from, he says. he knows quickly which category

18 AUGUST 2016

p16 interview.indd 18 21/06/2016 10:44


a piece of his writing will fall into. end of the day these are the stories you and their way of knowing that is
Its easy for me to tell, these days, if want to tell, and you tell it with what completely dismissed. The Rasta way
something will be a story or a poem. you bring to it. And as much as what of knowing is scorned and completely
If something occurs to me as language, he writes is generous and humane, it dismissed. I give credit to people
like Cartographer, that potential was is fuelled by a deep sense of injustice whose beliefs have been dismissed. I
there. I had the voice of a Rasta and the and a desire to understand, through know this sounds earnest but I am
voice of a cartographer, and when you language, the profound, complex and constantly thinking of people who
put the two together that created a kind difficult history of colonialism that is dont get the credit they deserve: gay
of dissonance. How do you make central to his work. Poetry for me people, women, religious people
something lyrical out of this is about language and story is even though these people might not

clash between scientific and about event, and essays are see eye to eye so I see the ways in
spiritual? Its a problem of about things Im angry which different people are overlooked.
language, and that means about. I use stories but For me this is tempered by a critical
a poem. This old, black there is always a point. mind that wants to speak for people
Kei does not use woman got up and Often Im trying to who dont have that agency but realises
poems as a vehicle disguise my anger, so theres a tension in doing so.
for telling stories, but said: Thank you I say, let me tell you Keis writing is fiction but the
for exploring language for telling my story a story to illuminate stories he tells could not be more
and ideas. I mistrust the point. What I am raw, or real. The novel he published
narrative poems. My fundamentally is an before Augustown, The Last Warner
students sometimes do them, essayist. The Cartographer Woman, tells the story of one of those
and its not about language, works everything through overlooked people: a woman who
how it moves and leaps, but language but there is a point. My comes to the UK from a Caribbean
about something that happens. If fiction has an essay at the heart of it. Revival community and is sectioned
Im writing about something that Im an essayist who disguises his essays when she tries to give a prophecy.
happens, or happened, it is never as fiction and sometimes as poetry. And, It was launched at a bookshop in
going to be a poem. If Im teaching, a occasionally, writes essays. Islington, and this old, black woman
poem cannot be about an event, it has Although he writes in a variety of got up and said: Thank you for
to be the events, it has to happen in forms and a multiplicity of voices, there telling my story. This inspirational,
the language. are themes he returns to over and over. questioning, vibrantly eloquent writer
He is a firm believer that a writer For some reason religion and belief is was stopped in his tracks then, and still
should find their own, unique voice. something I keep returning to. What do is as he retells the story. The warner
You write what you want to write in people believe? Trying to give credit to woman had come to see me to say
the way you want to write it. You make different belief systems. Different ways thank you. It was one of the few times
up the writing as you go along. At the of knowing the world. The Bedwardites when I was actually speechless. AUGUST 2016 19

p16 interview.indd 19 21/06/2016 10:44


Whats it all
writers last resort, and the dullards
Get to the heart of good first choice. It is certainly the case that
King sometimes starts with no more
writing and uncover the
than some characters and a situation,
essence of your novel with and writes to see what happens. Once
advice from Gary Dalkin Stopping he put two characters in a room and
to think let them battle it out, and the result

about what was one of his best novels, Misery.
hats it all about? Not the that something is Yet a novella like Rita Hayworth and
meaning of life, but your (and it may be more Shawshank Redemption depended on a
novel (which of course than one something) certain degree of advance plotting to
might just be about the enables us to bring it out, make the mechanics of the story fall
meaning of life). It sounds and at the same time helps into place.
like a big question. Subtext, theme, the you, the writer, decide just what should Most novelists really work
heroines journey. Or is it just about be included in your novel, and what somewhere between the two extremes
542 pages? Or perhaps its 30,000 is unnecessary. What might even be of fully planning every detail and
words too long and something has to hindering the book, dragging it down, flying by the seat of their pants. Its a
go and you dont know where to begin? killing the pace, distracting from what sliding scale. You may have characters
Wondering what your novel is you are really trying to say, do or and know what is going to happen to
really about can sound pompous, achieve. What should be cut. them, at least roughly. You probably
pretentious. Especially if it is a book have significant plot developments,
designed purely as an entertainment Know your style and know the sort of atmosphere you
with no thought to being a literary It is famously argued that there are two are trying to create, the emotions you
award winner. But the question of sorts of writers. Plotters and Pantsers. are aiming for, the ideas you intend
about, of theme or subtext in any The former plan meticulously and to test. And yet... and yet... first drafts
fiction, is not necessarily a matter know every last detail of their story tend to be big, messy sprawling things.
of profundity. Rather, it is about before they ever write a word of it, Especially if you write fast, trying to
discovering the essence of the book so while the latter fly by the seat of their get it done, get everything down before
that everything can be focused to bring pants, pouncing on a character or idea you forget about it or the inspiration
out that essence to full advantage. and following down the rabbit hole and enthusiasm dies. The tendency is
And that applies whether that means and along the yellow brick road to to write now, sort it later. But what a
making a cosy romantic comedy as see where he, she or it will go, only tangled mess we can weave.
funny and heartwarming as possible, or discovering the story as they tell it.
ensuring a subtle exploration of a soul The reality is more complicated than First draft blues
in torment gets unerringly to the heart that, as some writers will adopt one Often early versions of a novel can
of the matter. approach on one project, and the other feel like throwing paint at the wall
Whether the lightest read or the on a different book. Nevertheless, in to see what sticks. Sometimes it is
most demanding experimental novel, his landmark book On Writing Stephen as if the author has introduced new
all stories are about something. King writes: Plot is, I think, the good elements because they seemed too

20 AUGUST 2016

p20 SUBPLOT.indd 20 21/06/2016 10:11


good an idea not to try out, and the the lines, destroys the form, just as a Kill your darlings
writer probably had the intention of sculptor works in ever greater detail But what if youve written an
making everything fit together better the closer they come to the finished adventure story which simply gets
afterwards. Making it up as you go article. And this is just as true whether bogged down? What if the plot is
can give rise to electrifying drama, we are talking about a rollicking good too complicated and has stopped
and it can also result in extraneous adventure yarn written with no deeper making even the sort of sense we
new characters, pointless scenes spun intention than to entertain, or a literary accept from a good thriller? What if
on the fly, reams of woolly stream- novel with aspirations to significance. characters do things for no reason
of-consciousness dialogue, copious other than because you need them
descriptions, lengthy flashbacks and Step back to so as to make the plot gears turn?
often unnecessary subplots. So stop and take a good, long hard What if you introduced characters
All too often these features simply look at your book. Ask yourself: what who are left hanging, with no
detract from the central thrust of is this really about? Not the story, but resolution, their part of the story
the book. So how does this happen? the intent. Perhaps the question would simply being left in midair?
Sometimes its because we dont have be better phrased as: what is this novel Some streamlining is going to be
an entirely clear idea of where we are for? What is it meant to do? It then necessary. This is where Sir Arthur
going with a story. Creativity is not an becomes easier to read it with a more Quiller-Couchs excellent advice
exact science. Sometimes we have to do objective eye and see if what you have in his 1916 book On The Art of
something in order to find out why we written fulfils your goals. Writing about murdering your
shouldnt have. Why it doesnt work, is Lets take the above mentioned darlings pays off. Couch was talking
a bad idea, or simply doesnt fit in this rollicking adventure story as an specifically about style, but the
particular place. A good idea which example. We could think of James principle applies to any aspect of a
doesnt fit can always be saved to use Bond, Allan Quatermain, any number manuscript which doesnt enhance
elsewhere later. of war stories about men on a mission. the whole but of which the author
Sometimes writing a novel can In these sort of stories it is fairly easy has become enamoured.
be like stone carving, but in reverse. to see what is necessary and what is You may find you have included
Sculptors have been known to say that not. First we must have a protagonist things in your book because you like
it feels like the statue is already in the (lets say James Bond), or perhaps a them, because they mean far more
stone, and their job is to liberate it. group of them (lets pick the Mission: to you than they do to anyone in
They start with a lot more material Impossible team). Our hero(s) have to the novel. Consider each scene and
than they end up with, and in that have a purpose. This is provided by a each character. What is that scene
block of raw stone, if they are good, villain, or antagonist. Our hero(s) have there for? What function does the
they will find a beautiful work of art. to foil some sort of dastardly plot: to hairdresser introduced on p76 really
The book obviously isnt already stop someone starting WWIII, stealing play? So the protagonist needed
on the page, or in a file on your state secrets, ruining the economy, someone non-judgmental to talk
computer. But the words already exist, assassinating the president. Things to? Is this hairdresser needed as a
the characters and the stories are there, will happen to get in the way. Our character in their own right?
somewhere, deep in your imagination, hero may get distracted most Is it necessary to then have

some already thought through, others likely by a beautiful woman a sequence from the
still to emerge from your subconscious or disarmingly charming hairdressers point of
as you write. So instead of cutting rogue. He may be view, perhaps in which
away from the stone like a sculptor, betrayed, either by the she worries about
we do the reverse, pile up words on love interest or by a The tendency is to something unrelated to
the page where previously there were trusted colleague. He write now, sort it later. the plot of the novel,
none, building our work up word or she will meet people such as her inability
by word, character by character, idea who will help or hinder But what a tangled to communicate with
by idea, story development by story them. In the end, against mess we can weave. her mother? Could
development, until it is done. But it overwhelming odds, and the same information
can seem like a ragged, unfinished at the last moment, our your protagonist told the
work of sculpting. Just as after the protagonist will triumph. Yes, hairdresser be conveyed in
heavy cutting the artist has to refine its a formula, but it has worked a more direct way, without
and hone down the stone to the finest over and over for centuries, and a having to introduce a new minor
detail, so we need to stand back, look good writer is an expert at disguising character, or location or plot
at the half-formed thing we have the mechanics of the story with development, into the story?
created, and wonder what on earth compelling characters and fascinating If, for instance, your detective
to do with it. How to turn it into a incident. Note, I didnt say anything hero is tracking a serial killer, it is
publishable novel. about real world believability the likely they will need to explore the
And to do that we have to get to the adventure story demands a certain first crime scene, and the second.
heart of the matter. Discover what we suspension of disbelief, and the reader For the second will perhaps offer
have really being writing about. Then happily plays along if everything is well contradictory evidence, deepening
trim away the excess, that which mars enough done. the mystery. But if it is the same AUGUST 2016 21

p20 SUBPLOT.indd 21 21/06/2016 10:12


killer being sought, is there a good Needed more

reason for an in-depth investigation murdering?
of the third, and the fourth, and the The Godfather Part II
fifth murder sites? The same point Paramount Pictures
does not usually need to be made
over and over again. So examine your
scenes. Do you have more than one
sequence making the same point in
different ways? Perhaps it would be
as well to focus on the core point of
these scenes, on what they say about
character, how they drive the story,
and combine the different scenes
into one more powerful passage
which makes the same points with
more impact than several separate
sequences ever could.

Whats Alfie all about?

Take Bill Naughtons play Alfie (now
the opening words of this article fall
into place), made into the Michael began and ended at exactly the right one vast novel, as indeed it started,
Caine comedy drama feature film of places. There was nothing else to where should the cuts come? What is
the same name. If each woman that say. The Godfather was the story of necessary in order to say everything
Alfie became involved with had the Michael Corleones degeneration about these characters that needs to
same sort of character then the story from war hero to murderous mafia be said? One might argue that while
would fail. The story works because we boss. Part II mostly continues there are plenty of murders in the
see various aspects of Alfies character Michaels story, but has nothing to Godfather saga there are far too many
through his relationships with several add because he just carries on being darlings left alive.
very different women. If the same a murderous mafia boss, having more
situation simply repeated itself we people killed to protect his family Know your story
would have a short story stretched or further his aims. The already So, get to the heart of the matter.
to novel, or feature-film length. The lengthy film also includes around an Be clear who your story is about,
best reason to repeat a situation is to hour of scenes following Michaels and what they are trying to achieve.
show how the character themselves father, Vito (nominally the titular What is your purpose in telling this
has changed by reacting differently character of the original film) particular story? Then with those

between the beginning and end as a young man. Now ideas clear you can focus on making
of a story. consider, are these scenes your novel as good as possible,
Now here is an exercise. necessary? Do they tell removing anything which does not
Something to think Consider each scene us anything we do fit with the characters, the mood,
about. The film The not already know, the theme. Remember, a good idea
Godfather Part II and each character. especially given the which doesnt fit can only make the
was one of the first What is that scene first film shows
us exactly what
book worse. If the idea, or character,
sequels to be more or whatever it is really is that good,
highly acclaimed than there for? What function the older Vito will save it and repurpose it later in
an already massively
lauded original. The
does the hairdresser become? Do we
need to see selected
something else.
All novels, all stories, are about
Godfather won three introduced on p76 highlights of how he something. So take some distance,
Oscars, including Best
Picture and Best Adapted
really play? got there?
This argument goes
untangle the thicket of plot and
character and see what needs to be
Screenplay for Francis Ford against the grain we are said, then cut, shape, rework and
Coppola and Mario Puzo jointly tearing apart about one of the refine away anything which is not
adapting the latters novel. Part most acclaimed films ever made useful until your novel does exactly
II won six Oscars, including but are the flashback scenes with Vito what you want it to, whether that
Best Picture and Best Writing, Corleone needed? Or do they make is thrill like no other thriller on the
Screenplay Adapted From Other a long and slow drama already even market, or to the explore deepest
Material, again by Coppola and longer and more protracted, yet to recesses of the human heart, or
Puzo. Except one can argue that The no good purpose? Do even the scenes investigate the most challenging
Godfather Part II is a film without a in Part II with Michael add anything of all moral or philosophical
story worth telling. to the story told about him in The conundrums. Cut, refine, polish that
Like all great films The Godfather Godfather? If it were all one work, about... to perfection.

22 AUGUST 2016

p20 SUBPLOT.indd 22 21/06/2016 10:12

Faber Academy
Manuscript Assessments
Just nished a rst draft? Gearing up to submit to
a literary agent? Or just looking for an honest &
professional steer on your work-in-progress? We
have a manuscript assessment for you.
Pick your perfect report today. AUGUST 2016 23

p023_wmagaug16.indd 23 17/06/2016 09:35

Trust your
Inner editor As writers, we tend to be perfectionists
but sometimes, youve just got to let it go,
says Adrian Magson

heres nothing more likely to put the offending piece before anybody than when it started out is what we do.
a serious dent in your day than else notices just wont work. Most of us, anyway. Sure there are writers
spotting a typo after youve It aint gonna happen. out there who can produce a good read
sent off your pristine submission With an ebook, theres a good chance at the drop of a hat, and never look
letter and manuscript to an that the publisher (or you, if youve back because it simply never occurs to
agent or editor. Even after all the re-reads done it yourself ), can go in and amend them. But most of us have doubts, big
and edits, endless scans to spot any errant it. On Kindle Direct, for example, you or small, and thats what makes us the
commas or bloopers, you missed the simply go to your original draft, make writers we are. We write, edit, rewrite and
blighter. And there it sits, taunting you the changes and reload the manuscript. re-edit. We chop and change and move
with a big, fat grin on its face. Easy peasy. on, gradually stitching the idea together.
I know the feeling, dear reader; The thing is, nobody outside your Its all part of the craft. Ask your family,
been there, felt the shame wash over head will know what youre thinking friends and partners; they will know. Its
me like a wave of hot tar and gone for unless youre a social media fanatic who the reason for the thousand-yard stare
a lie-down in a dark corner until the likes putting every dot, comma and they see so often (or as my wife describes
feeling has passed. waking moment of your life out there for it, the blank gaze of a dumb rabbit
The fact is, it happens and you do the world to read and dwell on. Then, caught in the headlights).
get over it. Its something you learn to well a twinge of sympathy aside, But eventually we have to grit our
watch out for and correct at the earliest perhaps, will they even care? Probably teeth, stop fiddling and send the
opportunity. All you can do is hope the not. And why should they? damned thing off to await judgement by
editor or agent isnt so callous that theyll Remember, its your book and those Higher Beings known as agents or
dismisses the manuscript out of hand. nobody else could have written it. It editors. Thats the only acid test we have
A similar situation, but a great deal started out as your idea, with your to worry about at this point. Readers
more difficult to deal with, is after setting, characters and plot. You come later. Theyre important, yes. Very
publication in paperback or hardback, constructed it from nothing more than important in fact, even Higher Beings
seeing something you wish youd written a glimmer and built it into a complete than the others, because writers need
differently in the first place. It could be a story. You laboured over it for months, readers. Without them were like actors
simple question of style over substance, possibly years, ground it through the without an audience, models without a
a word which, in retrospect reads a editing and proof-reading stages and catwalk, celebrities without whatever
little clunky maybe even a minor sent it off, all the time convinced that it is they have.
character you wished youd killed at birth this was the best you could do. If But once the first part is done and
when that little editing gnome on your you hadnt been, youd never have got dusted and the book is published, you
shoulder was screaming Step away from beyond It was a dark and stormy night have to throw off those niggling doubts
the keyboard, moron! or whatever is your opening line. and resolve to be happy with what
By then, of course, its too late. So who on earth out there, bar youve created. Learn what you didnt
Coulda, woulda, shoulda; the three pedants, are you going to hear say on like with the last one and soldier on, and
levels of pointless regret. The book is reading it, Sheesh I bet this author your next book will be even better.
out there where you always wanted it to wishes theyd made a better fist of this
be, so you might as well buck up and paragraph; contextually speaking, dude,
get on with the next project, because
those words are now the equivalent of
its a bit of a mare, imho.
Instead of worrying about such TOP TIPS
being set in stone. Like, for ever. an unlikely event, you have to trust Write the best book you can. Until youve finished.
I doubt there are many authors who in your inner editor. Be confident of
havent noticed something similar while what youve done and accept it. Shrug Edit, read and rewrite. Repeat as required.
flicking through their first comp copy. A off your doubts and put them down Trust your own inner editor. Accept outside guidance
word or sentence leaps off the page and to experience and maybe a writers
as necessary later.
its enough to send a cold chill through natural urge to never being quite 100%
the vitals. And wishing you could turn happy with every single word. Be happy with the finished product. Its all yours.
back the clock and do a quick rewrite of Wanting to make something better

24 AUGUST 2016

p24 beginners.indd 24 21/06/2016 10:45

Away from your desk
Get out of your garret for some upcoming activities and places to visit

Back soon!

(2 to 4 September) is the
worlds biggest professional
screenwriting event, with
Get your boots on!
pitching opportunities and over Richmond WALKING AND BOOK
150 speakers including Fight FESTIVAL will take place from 24
Club screenwriter Jim Uhls, and September to 2 October. During the
1,000 delegates over three days. day there will be guided walks in the
Website: www.londonscreen beautiful Northern Yorkshire Dales, and the evenings will feature author events
including Celebrating Charlotte Bront
with historian Juliet Barker.

Probation officer turned award-
winning author MARI HANNAH
Wuthering arts
will be headlining at Getting Constella OperaBallet are bringing
residential crime writing course their new theatre-dance productions
in the Lake District, between about the Bront family, to Grimeborn
Festival between 9 and 14 August as part
31 October and 4 November.
of the Bront Society and Parsonage
Image: Alexander James
Museum 200 Celebration.

Sign up for summer school CONNECTIONS:
With Joanna MacGregor as its artistic director, is a new display running until 6
DARTINGTON INTERNATIONAL SUMMER September at the National Portrait
SCHOOL AND FESTIVAL starts on 30 July with a Gallery of inspirational people who
programme of music and creative writing workshops have lived or worked in Lambeth
and evening concerts that goes through to 27 August. and Southwark. It includes David
Website: Bowie, Vivienne Westwood, Adele
and author Malorie Blackman.

p25 What's on.indd 33 21/06/2016 10:46


How I got
On writing
Tony Rossiter explores great
words from great writers Jenny Blackhurst used to read this column and
swore one day shed be the featured author.
Interview by Dolores Gordon-Smith

lutching my fresh copy of Writing Magazine
I threw myself down on the sofa and flicked
through the glossy pages until I found it.
This is the sort of How I Got Published.
English up with which A different story every month, inspirational tales
I will not put of bravery and hard work. And always in the back
of my mind one day that will be me.
Fast forward eighteen months. My first
WINSTON completed novel is I think ready for submission. Ive had my
CHURCHILL opening chapters torn apart by the good folk at YouWriteOn and
put back together again. Ive spent hours, days even, crafting perfect
individual query letters to agents looking for crime submissions. So
out goes my first query and less than 48 hours later I get the call. The
agent loves the submission. This is it! I have an agent on the first try.

hurchills comment was written in the margins of an Everyone was wrong, this isnt hard work, its easy.
official paper that clumsily avoided ending a sentence So obviously the first rejection hit me hard. And the second. All
with a preposition. In cases like this, the ear is a pretty were encouraging but made me realise my work just wasnt ready.
safe guide. Its far better to end with a preposition than to So I revised and revised. I sought the advice of a few trusted friends
construct an ugly sentence that avoids a prepositional ending and went back to YouWriteOn. While I was working on it a friend
but grates on the ear. recommended The Wicked Girls by Alex Marwood. I read it in two
Churchill was a great advocate of plain English. In 1940 he sent nights. And as always I flicked to the acknowledgements to see who
a memo to his War Cabinet asking his colleagues and their officials she credited for her success I wanted that agent.
to make their reports shorter, and to set out the main points in a My book had been through the mill. It had been cut, tightened,
series of short, crisp paragraphs. Phrases such as it is important to pulled apart and sewn back together. She was ready.
bear in mind the following considerations or consideration should Laetitia Rutherford read the book in a night. After a breathless phone
be given to carrying into effect could, he said, be replaced by a call in the corridor at work back in my real world we arranged a
single word or left out altogether. Let us not shrink, he added, meeting and more work on the book. Yes,
from using the short, expressive phrase, even if it is conversational. more work. But this time I wasnt alone.
What exactly do we mean by plain English? I think there are The rest is a bit fairytale ending. My real
four main precepts. life was punctuated by calls from my dream
First, cut out all superfluous words. For example, instead of life with offers and negotiations and within a
writing In actual fact, we discussed the issue of IT, we can month wed accepted deals in three countries.
simply write We discussed IT. At that moment it felt as though it had been
Second, use short, everyday words. Instead of concerning or the easiest journey in the world, the hard
regarding, we can probably write about; try is often better than work and rejections forgotten. That was
endeavour; and we may be able to replace consequently with so. when the hard work really began!
Third, avoid clichs and jargon. If youre tempted to use
acronyms, abbreviations or jargon, put yourself in the shoes Psychological crime novel How I Lost You,
of the reader and ask yourself whether he or she is likely to published by Hodder Headline, is Jenny
understand them. Blackhursts debut novel
Finally, wherever possible use the active rather than the passive.
The Board will decide future strategy is better than Future
strategy will be decided by the Board.
Theres nothing new about plain English. In 1550 the future JENNYS TOP TIPS:
Edward VI said: I would wish that the superfluous and tedious
Research the agents you are submitting to. It will impress them
statutes were made more plain and short, to the intent that men
and you will end up with a better fit for your book.
might better understand them. Over 400 years later, in 1978,
President Carter signed a memorandum requiring regulations to Make sure your work is ready. It will save you time in the long run
be written in plain English. And in 1998 President Clinton sent if its the best it can be.
out a memo urging officials to use common, everyday words Appreciate what youve achieved before you move the goalposts.
(except for necessary technical terms), you and other pronouns, Finishing a book is a big deal so bask in that before you get upset
the active voice, and short sentences. about any rejections.

26 AUGUST 2016

p26 on writing HIGP.indd 26 21/06/2016 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.

2 November
The BBC Television Service
1 November was founded 80 years ago,
The rst DVD player,
created by Sony, in 1936. It was renamed
went on sale in BBC1 in 1964
Japan 20 years ago

15 November
Elvis Presley made his
11 November acting debut in Love Me
NASA launched Gemi
ni Tender, released 60 years ago
Xll, the nal Ge mi ni
manned spaceight, 50
years ago. The Gemini
programme paved the
way for the Apollo
moon landings
19 November
100 years ago, motion
picture company
Goldwyn Pictures
Corporation (from 1924
major studio Metro
20 November Goldwyn Mayer)
The musical Cabaret opened was formed
on Broadway 50 years ago

23 November
26 November The rst Tamagotchi
The Sex Pistols rst single,
Anarchy in the UK, was released digital pet went on sale in
in the UK 40 years ago Japan 20 years ago

Looking ahead: Sport in 2018

Winter Olympics from 9 to 25
February in South Korea
The Commonwealth Games will take
Big birthdays place on the Gold Coast, Queensland,
Loud-mouthed celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey will be 50 on 8 November, Australia, from 4 to 15 April
Singer Jeff Buckley would have been 50 on 17 November (died 1997), FIFA World Cup takes place between
US author Don DeLillo will be 80 on 20 November. His latest novel, 14 June and 15 July in Russia
Zero K, was published in May.

p27 Editorial calendar.indd 77 21/06/2016 09:30


T lu
ies What is reality? In fiction, realism is not
necessarily real life, and that isnt what readers
really want anyway, argues Sophie Beal

ilm director Richard else had dared to describe how
Curtis summed it up: difficult it was for single women in
If you write a story their thirties to figure out the career/
about a soldier going dating/babies issues no one has fixed
AWOL and kidnapping the biological clock yet. She portrayed
a pregnant woman and single women in their thirties as
finally shooting her in the head, its something other than tragic spinsters often seem to recommend books
called searingly realistic, even though or bunny boilers. Meanwhile, she set in a barren landscape, or among
its never happened in the history of made us laugh at tactless comments Colombian street children, then
mankind. Whereas if you write from smug marrieds, and celebrate say they read to escape into another
about two people falling in love, the Singleton Urban Family. It was world. I understand reading to inform
which happens about a million times ground-breaking comedy that created yourself, to increase your empathy,
a day all over the world, for some a new genre. It wasnt truly realistic, but why would you escape anywhere
reason or another, youre accused but still rang true with audiences. And so depressing?
of writing something unrealistic among the broadsheet critics, it had In December 1915, War Illustrated
and sentimental. more detractors than fans. explained to those at home, that
In fiction, whatever the medium, Curtis and Fielding might be What was wanted [in the trenches,
writers strive to achieve realism. But comforted knowing Jane Austen had was] the friendly companionship of
that notion of reality the kind the same problem in her day. Of a good and kindly book to take the
that keeps viewers gripped, and Austens work, Charlotte Bront (who mind away from the contemplation
glued to their screens doesnt really wrote of a governess unaware her of the terrible environment. Many
correspond to real life. master was keeping his mad wife in men enjoyed romance, particularly
Curtis was talking to the BBC the attic) said in a letter to critic GH Jane Austen, but had little interest in
about his time-travel romance About Lewes: Why do you like Jane Austen adventure novels.
Time. Watching the film, I waited for so very much? I am puzzled on that Jane Austens exclusion of gritty
the fight. Surely the female lead would point... I had not seen Pride and reality, including war, from her
find out about her partner Tims time Prejudice till I read that sentence of stories appears deliberate. She wrote
travel, or hear hed almost cheated on yours, and then I got the book. And during the Napoleonic Wars. One
her with his first love. Shed feel either what did I find?... a commonplace of her brothers was in the Navy, and
manipulated or betrayed. But the film face; a carefully fenced, highly her sisters fianc, an army chaplain
finished before any of this happened. cultivated garden, with neat borders died in the Caribbean. However,
There were plenty of tears but the and delicate flowers; but no glance of although many of her male characters
conflict came from events outside their a bright vivid physiognomy, no open are involved with the military, there
control. These stimulated the character country, no fresh air, no blue hill, no is little if any mention of fighting,
growth and by the end Tim learnt to bonny beck. wounds and those killed in action.
savour everyday life, whether or not he You cant tell the importance of Her comments about the things she
could change what was ahead. someones work by how difficult did choose to observe class structure
Curtiss ambition was to tackle a it is to understand, or how miserable and family life stand 300 years later.
big, real life, question with no simple you feel by the end. Richard Curtis and Helen Fielding
answer How do we find happiness? So what is it that readers look for in have both witnessed international
but the film was critically dismissed this fictional approximation of reality? suffering first hand through their
as another romcom. work with Comic Relief. Yet the
Helen Fielding didnt set out to Escapism comedies they are known for are
speak for a section of the population I listen religiously to A Good Read and based in the UK and their characters
in Bridget Joness Diary. But nobody Open Book on Radio 4. The guests are relatively privileged. Is this

28 AUGUST 2016

p28 Reality in fiction.indd 28 21/06/2016 09:46


co-incidence? Has exposure to these First World War, the ineptitude of pointless, dismisses two entire genres,
things driven them towards escapism? the commanders and the incredible science fiction and fantasy, and
Are they sugaring serious purpose tragedy (Richard Curtis again). elements of most others.
with comedy and nicely painted Joe Wright said of his Pride and
kitchens? Or are they simply writing Realism versus reality Prejudice adaptation: Before [it],
about what they understand best? Theres a difference between realism I naively thought they were a
Readers use their mental energy and reality. No one, hopefully, is cop-out, but now Ive come to
to meet the challenges set by a book going to write a film based on my believe that happy endings and
or film. The easier a novel is to read, life, but if they did, theyd probably wish fulfilment are an incredibly
the less energy is expended coping cut out the Facebook sessions and important part of cultural life...
with understanding a new world. The trips to Tesco, and skip to the Fairytales to me are never happy,

more palatable its made by humour or part where I have children. sweet stories. Theyre moral stories
human interest, the more likely they They might include about overcoming the dark side
are to notice themes and ideas. me shouting at these and the bad. I find it ironic that

Finding the lighter side

children to get dressed
and eating too many
No-one is ever going happy endings now are called
fairytale endings because
Nora Ephrons motto was cherry bakewells to make a film based theres nothing happy about
Everything is copy. She discovered for a little character on my life, but if they most fairytale endings.
her husband, Carl Bernstein, was development.
having an affair when she was eight Good dialogue did theyd cut out the Privileged suffering
months into her second pregnancy. is far from realistic. Facebook sessions and All the writers Ive mentioned
Her response was to write a funny One of my standard so far, from Austen to
novel about it. Heartburn barely conversations taken
trips to Tesco. Ephron, focus on privileged
disguises her inspiration. down verbatim would sections of society. When their
In the story, someone asks the include a lot of ums, ers, characters suffer, they usually do so
heroine why she feels she has to turn and at least one Sorry! What was in pleasant settings. Few minorities
everything into a story. She replies: I going on about? Fortunately I are represented. (Comedian Junior
Because if I tell the story, I control dont walk round with a reporter, Simpson earned a role in Curtis next
the version. Because if I tell the story, so I dont feel all my conversations film after marvelling in his stand-up
I can make you laugh, and I would should advance the plot of my life or at the special effects in Notting Hill
rather have you laugh at me than feel they should have a natural rhythm that removed all the black people
sorry for me. Because if I tell the story, as well as new information for a in the area.) But money, race or
it doesnt hurt as much. Because if I reader. (Although I do find myself class dont insulate from pain. These
tell the story, I can get on with it. correcting my own grammar.) writers works contain affairs, failure,
Jane Shilling said in The Telegraph: US author John LHeureux heartbreak and death.
What makes Heartburn a great novel said: Dialogue is a construct; it is Domestic fiction is often used as a
rather than simply a great revenge artificial; it is much more efficient euphemism for trivial. But you dont
novel are the instances of grievous and believable than real conversation. have to escape the British home to
pain spun into comedy. Just as fiction itself distorts reality find gritty reality. 35% of children
In the best comedy there are in order to achieve a larger truth, in an area close to me live below the
elements of tragedy. My favourite so dialogue eliminates all the false poverty line. It is estimated one in
part of the first Bridget Jones film is starts and irrelevant intrusions of four women experience domestic
the opening credit sequence. Drunk real life in order to reveal character violence during their lifetime.
Bridget lip-syncs All By Myself. Her and move the encounter toward a Elderly people struggle with extreme
reactions throughout the book and dramatic conclusion. loneliness. These are realities.
film are comic, but the loneliness
itself is serious. Wish fulfilment and Light and shade
Comedians will tell you comedy is fairytale endings Good fiction relays truth about the
tragedy turned on its head. How any A guy can travel back in time to world. Overly cheerful writing is
individual sees their circumstances improve his life; a bookseller spills therefore often unsatisfying. But sheer
is often down to attitude and a drink on a film star in the street quantity of and reverence for the dark
upon which events they focus. and ends up marrying her; a prime doesnt work either. Most real peoples
Using different tones, one novelist minister has a public relationship lives are a mixture.
may produce a miserable Booker- with his coffee girl. After Pride and Prejudice was
winning epic and another something Im not arguing these scenarios are published, Jane Austen wrote, It
much lighter with the same story. realistic, but Curtis has used these is rather too light, and bright, and
The most successful TV comedies conceits to make his points. Fame sparkling. It wants shade. I think the
usually mix darkness and humour. is empty. Kindness is important. opposite can also be true. Perhaps
Porridge, for instance, is set in a Happiness involves connecting books and film are like drawing a
high-security prison. Blackadder Goes properly to those around you. mix of light and shade enhances the
Forth emphasises the stupidity of the And to say the highly unlikely is perception of depth. AUGUST 2016 29

p28 Reality in fiction.indd 29 21/06/2016 09:47


The techniques and style of

BEATRIX POT TER The pioneer of modern childrens picture book writing, Beatrix Potter,
was born 150 years ago. Underpinning her work was a seamless harmony
between animal and human nature, says Tony Rossiter

ou may go into the home in Hertfordshire. From an early Beatrix: Edward Lears Book of
fields or down the lane,
age she observed what was around Nonsense and Lewis Carrolls Alices
but dont go into Mr her and loved to draw and paint. Her Adventures in Wonderland. She was
McGregors garden: earliest sketchbook, Dalguise 1875, also entranced by books read to her
your Father had an includes a careful watercolour study by her Scottish nurse at Dalguise.
accident there; he was put into a pie by of caterpillars, as well as scenes These were full of folklore, rhyme,
Mrs McGregor. depicting what she observed adventure and fantasy (she
But Peter is a naughty rabbit who around her: a farmer with a especially liked fantasy). Her
does not do as he is told, and he does cow, a bridge over the river, favourites included Aesops
not follow Mrs Rabbits instructions. the house at the foot of Fables, the Grimm Fairy
His behaviour mirrors that of a naughty the mountain. Another Tales, the Fairy Tales of
child. No wonder The Tale of Peter sketchbook of the same Hans Christian Andersen,
Rabbit (1902) was such a success. period shows rabbits Charles Kingsleys The
Beatrix Potter went on to write and on ice-skates, wearing Water Babies and the
illustrate a further 23 bestselling books jackets, hats and Waverley novels of
of animal tales. scarves. By 1880 she Sir Walter Scott.
was drawing serious, At the age of
ARTIST AND NATURALIST anatomically perfect, fourteen, inspired by her
From an early age Beatrix was fascinated studies of rabbits. admiration of Boswell and
by natural history, science and art. Born From an early age Pepys, she began to keep a
in 1866 into a well-to-do, upper-middle- she demonstrated an diary. This was her literary
class Victorian household, she was exceptional gift for apprenticeship, as she
brought up by nannies and governesses; drawing and painting, experimented and imitated
but on the third floor of the house in encouraged between the styles of admired writers
Bolton Gardens, Kensington, she and the ages of twelve and such as Edward Lear, Lewis
her brother were allowed to keep a seventeen by the tutelage of her Carroll, Jane Austen and her
menagerie which included, at various art teacher, Miss Cameron. special heroine, Fanny Burney.
times, rabbits, a green frog, lizards, Close observation of animals Her first published illustrations, at
newts, bats, snails, guinea pigs, canary, was the basis of her artistic the age of 24, were animal designs,
budgerigar, duck, tortoise and hedgehog. realism. Millais, the famous based on one of her pet rabbits, used
She observed these animals closely and painter who was a friend of her fathers, in Christmas and New Year cards.
drew them endlessly. said: Plenty of people can draw but Three years later, on 4 September
Her interest in natural history was you have observation. 1893, she wrote a picture letter
also stimulated by long holidays spent to Noel Moore (son of one of her
at Dalguise House, Dunkeld, the HOW SHE BEGAN governesses), who was sick in bed,
familys second home in Perthshire, and Before the age of eight, two books about a disobedient young rabbit
at Camfield Place, her grandparents made a particular impression on called Peter; and she followed this

30 AUGUST 2016

p30 beat the best.indd 30 21/06/2016 09:31


up, the next day, with a picture letter be coloured throughout.

to Noels younger brother, five-year- Beatrix thereupon decided
old Eric, about a frog called Jeremy to self-publish. She adopted
Fisher. In 1894 she sold nine frog the small-size picture-book
drawings to a publisher of fine art format of Helen Bannermans
printers who had bought a few of her Little Black Sambo, believing
earlier drawings. At this time she was that this size was ideal for
absorbed in mycology, the study of small children, who could
fungi, and wrote a scientific paper on handle the book easily and
the subject. Between 1892 and 1896 that it would sell. Beatrix sent
she produced fantasy illustrations Warne a copy of her privately
of favourite stories and rhymes, printed edition and at last
including Cinderella, Alices Adventures accepting the publishers views
in Wonderland and Edward Lears included more coloured
The Owl and the Pussycat. She also illustrations. She insisted on a
produced drawings for Sleeping Beauty low price and on the small-size
and Puss in Boots and illustrations for format. Warne agreed, and the
stories from The Arabian Nights and book was published in October
Aesops Fables. Most significant of all, 1902, priced 1s 6d.
perhaps, were eight illustrations of Joel
Chandler Harriss Nights with Uncle ANIMAL TALES the collie, Kep. The Roly-Poly Pudding
Remus; his stories about Brer Rabbit With The Tale of Peter Rabbit an (1908) was inspired by an invasion
were to influence her own writing. immediate success, Warne were keen of rats at Hill Top and Beatrixs
Her picture letters to the Moore for Beatrix to produce more books in ongoing battles against them; it
children were pivotal in her the same style. By Christmas 1902 incorporates details of the house and
development both as illustrator and she had proposed at least three new its furnishings.
writer. We can see how she handled books Squirrel Nutkin, Mr Jeremy The Tale of Mr Tod (1912) is a
the transition between natural science Fisher and The Tailor of Gloucester. longer, darker and more violent story,
and fantasy, and developed her art Before these stories were submitted and she was particularly proud of her
of illustrated storytelling. She built for publication, she tried them out opening paragraph: I am quite tired
on Harriss sense of the absurd and on children she knew. Around the of making goody goody books about
his technique of embellishing the time of Nutkins publication, she also nice people. I will make a story about
ordinary, but incorporated her own began sending little letters to some two disagreeable people, called Tommy
observations and experiences. She of her young friends anecdotes Brock and Mr Tod. At the insistence
knew that the Moore children were about her animal characters or of her publisher, however, she had to
interested in nature and in how things conversations between them. One drop goody goody, and to substitute
worked, and that they liked a story early, charming example is from well-behaved for nice. Tommy Brock
with adventure and humour. These Squirrel Nutkin to Old Brown (the is a badger and Mr Tod a fox. The
were to be the main ingredients of her owl): Dear Sir, I should esteem it a Tale of Pigling Bland (1913), which
books, the best of which were based favour if you will let me have back came directly out of her farming
on her picture letters. my tail, as I miss it very much. I experiences, has several biographical
In January 1900 Annie Moore, would pay postage. Yrs truly Squirrel touches and Beatrix herself appears in
Beatrixs former governess, suggested Nutkin. An answer will oblige. the story. It was stimulated partly by
that some of her picture letters could In 1905, at the age of 39, she the little black pig she bought soon
be made into interesting books for purchased Hill Top Farm at Sawrey, a after her arrival at the farm.
little children. Beatrix borrowed them small village near Hawkshead in the In 1913 she tried to capture some of
back so that she could make copies Lake District. This was followed by the qualities of ordinary folk life, and
and consider which one would be a remarkable outburst of creativity: experimented using local dialect, in a
most suitable for a book. She decided over the next eight years she produced short story, Fairy Clogs, published in
upon her very first picture letter thirteen stories set in Hill Top Farm Country Life magazine. Four years later
the Peter Rabbit story of 1893. She and the surrounding countryside, a collection of nursery rhymes she had
added new text and new black and and these included much of her best written and illustrated was published:
white illustrations, and sent it to at work. The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck Appley Dapplys Nursery Rhymes (1917),
least six publishers. They all rejected (1908), written for the children of which she had first proposed to
it mainly on the grounds that her farm manager, was inspired by Warne following the release of Peter
the market required not black and his wifes habit of giving ducks eggs Rabbit in 1902, helped to stave off the
white, but coloured, illustrations. to Hill Top hens to incubate, as well companys ruin following a financial
Among the publishers who rejected as by her own amusement at her scandal. The following year the most
the book was Frederick Warne & farmyard ducks. The children and autobiographical of all her stories,
Co, who said that it was absolutely their mother appear in the story, as The Tale of Johnny Town-Mouse, was
necessary that the pictures should do some Hill Top animals, including published. This story, put together AUGUST 2016 31

p30 beat the best.indd 31 21/06/2016 09:31

to listen to an extract
from The Tale of
Jemima Puddle-Duck

TAP HERE to buy the

book from Audible

of Little Pig Robinson (1930). cats and owls, little frogs can be
Unlike her earlier books, this gobbled up by big fish, and rabbits
had more fantasy than reality are on the lookout for gardeners. She
and lacked their concentrated appreciated nature, but respected
interest. However, she was its ruthlessness. With her lifelong
particularly pleased with one interest in artistic realism, her
of the drawings: she wrote to drawings of animals were set in real
the books American publisher, backgrounds: the gardens, houses,
saying: I think Pig Robinson and landscapes which she knew and
looking into a shop window is the lived in.
during the war years, showed her best black and white I ever did. But Beatrixs straightforward, humorous
deep understanding of animal nature by this time she was at the end of her tone is perfectly pitched to capture
and reflected her own happiness career as writer and illustrator. I am the interest and sympathy of her
as a country-mouse. By this time, written out for story books, and my young readers. She paid great
however, her eyesight was beginning eyes are tired for painting, she wrote attention to her choice of language:
to fail and the drawings, though in 1934. rhythm, cadence and the sound of
charming, are not up to the standard the word were very important. And
of her best work. HOW SHE WORKED she always took enormous trouble
Beatrix Potter had an intuitive sense over the beginnings and endings of
LATER LIFE about what children liked. In The her books. She usually wrote out
In 1923 Beatrix Potter became a Tale of Peter Rabbit, Peters reckless the story in a paper-covered exercise
significant Lake District landowner bravado, deciding to do something book and then pasted her drawings
with her purchase of the 2,000-acre (going into Mr McGregors garden) into a dummy book. She was always
Troutbeck Park Farm. The previous which has been expressly forbidden, extremely particular about look of the
year had seen the publication of is recognisable not only as something finished product.
Cecily Parsleys Nursery Rhymes, a a very naughty young rabbit might She never wrote down to
satirical collection full of local colour well do, but also as the behaviour children, as we can see from the
(it included a caricature one of of a naughty child. That seamless first sentence of The Tailor of
her husbands golfing partners, Dr harmony between animal and human Gloucester: In the time of swords and
Parsons). Thereafter, the breeding of nature is at the heart of Beatrix periwigs and full-skirted coats with
Herdwick sheep, together with the Potters books, and goes a long flowered lappets when gentlemen
restoration and preservation way towards explaining their wore ruffles, and gold-laced
of the surrounding Lake enduring popularity. waistcoats of paduasoy and taffeta
District landscape, largely Her starting point was the there lived a tailor in Gloucester.
replaced her interest in physiognomy and natural That vocabulary, in a childrens book,
writing and illustrating books behaviour of animals: she studied seems quite extraordinary, though
for children. their behaviours, and built their we must remember that this book
A meeting with an characters around those. Her was written for children a little
American publisher, who portraits of animals are never older (perhaps eleven or twelve) than
visited her in Sawrey, resulted sentimental. She recognised her earlier readers. This is my own
in some stories and one book, that nature had a hard edge favourite amongst my little books,
The Fairy Caravan (1929), and could be cruel, and she she wrote on a presentation copy, and
being published in the US. knew that violence could be her opinion never wavered. The Tailor
Her last illustrated animal popular with children. So mice of Gloucester always remained her
book for children was The Tale are always in danger from personal favourite.

32 MAY 20162016

p30 beat the best.indd 32 23/06/2016 10:01


Submit, dont give up

Michael Allen attempts to get to grips with modern submission protocol

ts a funny old world is publishing. to accept direct submissions from traditional publication, please dont
For the past fifteen years Ive authors because we dont have the give up. Remember that all books
mostly been publishing my own resources to evaluate them. Really? have a potentially long life, even if
work so I havent needed to deal That doesnt say much for the quality theyre not big hits to begin with.
with traditional publishers. Recently, of their staff, does it? Example: in 1955 Alan Hunter
however, Ive been trying to help a And publisher number three (then a secondhand bookseller in
friend to get a book published in has an almost identical statement. Norwich) wrote the first of his
the old-fashioned way; and Ive been Paraphrased, what it says to new series of 46 crime novels featuring
surprised to discover how difficult authors is: Push off and stop Inspector Gently. Hunter died in
this has become: difficult, that is, wasting our time. Adding, for 2005, but two years later BBC

even to get a traditional firm to good measure, We dont Television broadcast the first of
consider a book, let alone make an return any of the rubbish what is so far seven series
offer to publish it. you send us. Publishing contains a of adaptations of the
Choosing a suitable publisher to If you repeat my books. And in 2016
approach, for any book, is not too research yourself you
mixture of people, and in the Mystery Writers of
difficult in principle. One way is will find that there your own search for an America has awarded
to go to Amazon and select a book are a few exceptions agent you may nd one the Edgar for Best
which is similar to the one youre among the smaller TV Episode to Peter
marketing. That way identifies one publishers some will
who is a perfect gentleman, Flannery for Gently
publisher. Then you scroll down that accept submissions or lady, and is absolutely with the Women. So
books Amazon page and you come direct from authors delighted to read your Gently book sales will,
across a feature which lists books but most firms tell the I suspect, continue to
that are frequently bought together. same story. Work through
submission. But dont benefit Hunters estate.
And below that there is normally an agent, they say, or you wont bet on it. In my March and April
a list of books which Customers get a spark of interest from us. columns I wrote about the recent
who bought this item also bought. Yes, yes, of course, I can hear you fashion for republishing in digital
Clicking among these links will muttering. But nowadays we all format many relatively minor books
usually be enough to give you a few know that you have to work through from the post-war period. And
publishers to start with. an agent so what did you expect? having noticed this, I began to think
Then you google your way to the Well, I expected a bit more respect about offering some of my own work
web page for one of your prospective for the creators of the publishers in this market. Obviously I could
publishers and look for the name of stock in trade, for a start. choose to republish my early, out-of-
someone suitable to write to. And Trying not to be discouraged, print work myself; but if I dont have
thats where the fun starts. Particularly you next start to look at agents. As a digital file I would have to go to a
if youre trying to sell a novel. samples, I visited the websites of two lot of trouble to create one.
To research this situation from the large, well established literary agents So, long story short, I wrote a
point of view of an as yet unpublished and one small one. All three promised full description of five crime-fiction
writer, I began to investigate a few nothing, not even to read three pages. books of mine, first published in
firms which published some of my They may not even acknowledge 1975-85, and sent an email about
own early books. One such firm, receipt of your work. And two said them to one of the new digital
which fifty years ago was reasonably that if you dont get a reply within republishers. I sent it at 7pm one
approachable, now says bluntly: eight weeks it just means youre a Sunday. By 9.15pm I had a reply. Yes,
We do not accept any unsolicited loser. Or words to that effect. thank you, said the publisher. Would
material. And they dont list any staff Well, publishing contains a mixture like to do these. Will get my man
other than the CEO, so you cant of people, and in your own search to send you a contract tomorrow
identify a suitable editor. for an agent you may find one who morning. And he did.
Publisher number two is now a is a perfect gentleman, or lady, and No great money is attached of
minor imprint of a much bigger firm is absolutely delighted to read your course, but my old books will now
which bought it thirty years ago. Like submission. But dont bet on it. live on. Publishing is, as I said at the
most publishers, it says, were unable However If you are looking for beginning, a funny old business. JULY 2015 33

p33 Grumpy.indd 33 21/06/2016 09:45

world of
Whether youre looking for topics to inspire your writing or potential
markets for publication, theres a lot to be said for looking a little
further afield and considering other countries. Liz Gregory helps
you get started on foreign shores

print opportunities
Making the most of tetrue to say that the world
irely The ubiquity of email also makes it possible to
Its a bit of a clich but its ent
the se days, thanks to the ease with tap into opportunities for publication in other countries
feels a much smaller place
h others all around the globe. print media. The first short story I ever had published was
which we can communicate wit
rseas via social media sites, in a Canadian magazine I saw it listed in Writers News (yes, I
We can chat to other writers ove
s and opportunities this way. was a reader of this publication LONG before they let me write for
and perhaps pick up new contact
particular country, and the them), emailed my story to the editor, made a couple of changes that
Hashtags are not limited to one
ldw ide makes it possible for us he requested (again via email) and then saw it published in a copy of
number of English speakers wor
world of writing far beyond our the magazine that he kindly sent to me. Obviously not all pieces written
to see what is going on in the
there are millions of English-
immediate location. Likewise, by a UK author will be suitable for publication overseas, but a good
just provide opportunities for
language websites that might story (or novel, or article etc) is a good story, and being alert to overseas
ak your language where
publication, remembering to twe possibilities opens up a much wider market for your work.
or other audience. Keep an eye
necessary to suit an American
for a heads-up on some of the
on Writers News every month
international sites accepting sub

Other cultures
One of the best things about travellin
g abroad is exposure to other
ways of life besides our own and of
course, the further you travel
the more likely you are to have your
different world. If youre lucky enou
eyes opened to a completely Holiday hotspots
gh to travel regularly either
for work or pleasure then theres plen Travel writing can be a very tricky market to break into
ty of scope here for exploring
other ways of living new customs most publications will use staff writers for overseas trips,
, traditions, religions, foods,
music, clothing could all be of interest and the days of freelancers being able to pitch successfully
to readers back home.
Another interesting area to consider for an expenses-paid travel article are all but gone.
is history. Here in the UK we
have plenty of history of our own, of However, if you would be going to a certain place anyway,
course, but certain periods
are very well-known now and many theres no reason you shouldnt write about it when you
publishers will feel they have
reached saturation point (it would be get home just dont expect publication fees to cover the
hard for a new writer to
convince an editor that they have anyt cost of your holiday. Your chances of success are obviously
hing original to say about
the Tudor period, for example). Luc higher if youve been to a less well-known spot, or can
kily, there are plenty of other
countries out there who have fascinati
ng histories that are less offer a new angle on a popular destination and be aware
familiar to UK readers. Get research
ing and you might just have the that you might have to wait until next year as editors will
basis for a novel or short stor y. have most likely got all the material they need for this
summer by the time you get back.

34 AUGUST 2016

p34 ten top tips.indd 34 21/06/2016 09:52

Political writing
Learning the language International politics are very much on
the radar at the moment as I write,
As a nation, we are not renowned for our ability to talk ld remain
referendum on whether Britain shou
fluently in languages other than our own; Im sure weve ing (and
in the European Union is loom
all felt the embarrassment of stumbling over a few words should have just taken place by the time
of Spanish in conversation with someone whose English gee crisi s is wors enin g,
read this), the refu
is probably better than ours is. If you do have a talent for and terrorist events worldwide continue
languages though, you could turn this to your advantage ern amo ngst the inter natio nal
provoke conc
in a number of ways articles teaching the reader some community. Some of these are highly
grea t care,
essential holiday phrases, regular blog posts where we learn topics that should be handled with
enes s of worl d
about a different aspect of the language every week, vlogs or but there is a growing awar
ide idea s and insp iration
YouTube videos showing us how to master the pronunciation agendas that may prov
polit ical know ledg e
of trickier words and phrases there are all kinds of for UK writers with
possibilities. And even if youre something less than a natural, and an interesting angle, or those who
expe rien ce of even ts and can com e up
theres always scope for a humorous piece about your failed personal
lead s me
attempts to become a skilled linguist (and any amusing faux with a human interest story. Which
pas you committed along the way). on to

Key events worldwide

Overseas writing holidays One of the most interesting conversat
ions Ive had
spen t twenty years
What could be nicer than a whole week
to relax, write and recently was with a taxi driver whod
e whe n the wall came
mingle with other writers? Well, doin
g all of these things living in Berlin and had been ther
know all abou t it (the mood,
somewhere hot and sunny, for one thin down in 1989. I wanted to
g, surrounded by Dav id Has selho ff reall y DID try to
interesting new scenery (and maybe a
pool. And a cocktail the atmosphere, whether
someone who actually
bar). If youve been lucky enough to take steal the show) from the perspective of
part in a writing writing and journalism
holiday, either as a guest or as a visiting experienced it all. The same is true of
speaker, then youve t of a significant event
got the basis for an interesting piece righ if you can offer an insiders viewpoin
t there or even ys be interested in what
several pieces: one telling people how
to prepare for the then people who werent there will alwa
cant go back in time and
course in order to get the most from
it, one about the course you have to say. Obviously you
ts in the man ner of a Photoshop
itself, and then a follow-up piece with
ideas for further insert yourself into key even
do have any first -han d experiences of
writing projects stemming from the holid
ay. enthusiast, but if you
worth delving into
interesting things then it might just be
your memories, particularly if you have
Writing for the expats from the event to accompany your piece.

There are millions of Britons living abroad, with the most popular
countries for expatriates being Australia, the US, Canada, Spain and
New Zealand. It is perhaps unsurprising that four of the top five are
English-speaking countries, a fact that opens up opportunities for
a UK-based writer who can tap into this potential audience. When
youre living abroad, it can be very comforting to be reminded of
home sometimes (as the fact that shops are forced to stock British
favourites like Baked Beans, PG Tips and Rich Tea biscuits amply
demonstrates); again, search online or keep an eye on Writers News
for publications aimed at Brits living overseas.

Writing as an expat So, if youre lucky

Maybe you are one of those expatriates who has chosen enough to be going
to up sticks and move abroad and if so, you are abroad this month for
ideally placed to write both for the UK market and your summer holidays,
for that in which you live. Essentially, you are in the take the chance to lie
fortunate position of having insider knowledge of two back on your sunbed
different cultures you can write for your adopted and come up with a
country (expats or otherwise), and technology also allows few international ideas
you to access all the opportunities in the country you to pursue on your
have left behind. Just keep an eye on your deadlines return home.
as anything that needs to be dealt with by post will
obviously take longer from overseas.
AUGUST 2016 35

p34 ten top tips.indd 35 21/06/2016 09:52


Outlining a novel
Creating an outline for your novel isnt a one-size-ts-all job.
Try these exercises from Lizzie Eneld to help you nd the outline that works best for you

m at that stage. Im starting a new novel. Actually, Ive already made
tline method
a start and am about 25K words in, the stage at which I always The skeleton ou to lay out your basic
s you
realise that its all very well starting off and seeing where you end up This method allow for
ke y po ints but leaves room
but that this novel actually needs a bit of careful forethought. structure and iti ng
begin wr
manoeuvre as you the story
Writers tend to divide into two camps: planners, who meticulously
t yo ur ex po sition. Where does
1Lay ou What
plot every twist and turn of the story and splurgers who spit it all you main chara rs?cte
take place? Who are tin g th em from
out before trying to get it into shape. I fall into the latter camp. I hate at is preven
planning but I am aware that all writing, even a short story, benefits do they want and wh
getting it? What is
from some form of basic outlining. inciting incident.
2Think about your ts that
Even in minimal form, it will reduce the amount of work, pinpoint e sequence of even
going to kick off th
potential roadblocks and plot holes and get the creative process going. ugh the novel?
will take you thro it unfold?
The following methods are useful ways of trying to focus your thoughts g action. How does
3Lay out your risin ev er yt hing to
and plan your work before you begin getting it all onto the page. . What brings
4State your climax
a head? it all up?
e you going to tie
5Resolve. How ar

The snowflake t ie boy meets
wi th th e ve ry ba sic outline of the plo The flashlight method
1Start won round.
sli ke s bo y, eventually she is nes. This lights the way as you go along but you only really
gir l, gir l di e girl is Bridget Jo
that basic plot. Th get to think about the story in any detail as you write
2Then expand on own ea ch ot he r
arcy. They have kn
The boy is Mark D t in ha bi t ve ry different worlds your way through it
we re ch ild ren bu 1Think about what your story is and how you are
since they
as adults. while Marks going to start then write the first chapter.
th is fu rth er. Br idgets life is a mess 2Ask how you will move on from this to the next
3Expa nd rsuing other
pe ars to be pe rfe ct. They are both pu chapter and write that.
people, etc. until every single 3Continue to do the same, moving from scene to
panding the details
4Keep going and ex scene and progressing your story as you go along.
is covered.
aspect of the story 4Plan a few chapters ahead but not the whole story.
This will help you progress and shape your story a
little more consciously than if you just sit and write.

The summary method

1Write the story from beginning to end
but omitting all the
scenes, character outlines and plot deta
ils, creating what is The free writing method
essentially a synopsis of your novel.
2Try to include as much of what is goin This last is just writing and writing and seeing where the
g to happen as possible process takes you. A lot of writers prefer this as it allows for
but in very basic from.
3Allow the structure of the story to unfo spontaneous creation and for the characters themselves to
ld and the summary take them in unexpected directions, but the writing tends to
to take you thought the action from begi
nning to end. require more shaping and editing later.

36 AUGUST 2016

p36 pen pushers.indd 36 21/06/2016 09:55


Red Editing Pen

Each month, we give you a few sentences which would all benet 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 difcult. But if you would welcome
a little help, you can always check out Richard Bells suggested solutions below.
Here are this months examples:

1 Amanda was sat at her desk which contained drawersful of unfinished

manuscripts which she and her cohort Maureen had written during the
last few years.

2 Jean said she should call before ten next morning but she, as well as her
manager, were now running late and her making the call would depend
whether she could catch up.

3 Robert bought a present especially for Catherine which, in his judgment,

was something she would really want.

1 Th



1 The past continuous tense of a verb (such as to sit) is

formed by the verb was and the present participle (as in:
was sitting) not the past participle (as in: was sat). So our
suggests that should call would be appropriate.
Another little rule we meet in this sentence is that when
two nouns (in this case Jean/manager) are joined by and
the Ro
to a g
refer t
sentence two should open with Amanda was sitting. they require a plural verb, so we would have: Jean and her
Now let us touch on the noun drawersful. When we use
-ful nouns (such as bagfuls, drawerfuls, sackfuls) we should
form the plural by adding a final s not by inserting the s
manager were late. However, when we have two nouns
joined by a phrase introduced by as well as then they require
a singular verb, so our sentence should therefore read: Jean
2 T
Jean sa
mid-word. So Amandas desk would not have drawersful of as well as her manager was running late. By
manuscripts but drawerfuls, or alternatively, drawers full. Finally in this sentence, we should remember that depend meani
Finally here, the use of cohort to describe Amandas friend should always be followed by on (or upon which means call (s
and co-writer. A cohort was originally a part of the Roman exactly the same thing). Our sentence should therefore finish Ano
army comprising one-tenth of a legion. It now has a much with: making the call would depend on (or upon) whether she by and
wider meaning, but it is still used to refer to a group of could catch up. two n
people rather than a single person (you can certainly have a theref
cohort of writers) and we should not refer to Amandas friend
by a noun indicating a whole group. 3 In our final sentence we have some confusion, which
often occurs, about the use of specially or especially.
When something is done specifically for a particular person

2 The first question posed by our sentence two is whether

we should be using should or would. The basic rule is
that we use should with the first person pronouns I or we.
or thing, we say that it is done specially for them (or it). So
we should say that Roberts present was bought specially for
Catherine. On the other hand, especially carries the meaning
3 In
(or it)
And on this basis our sentence should read: Jean said that of being above all; we would therefore say that: baseball is carries
she would call. It is when we are using he/she/you/it that very popular, especially in America. Som
we employ should. Something else that occurs in North America is that they the fir
By way of a rule, this is simple enough but it is breaking spell the word judgment without an e at the end of the legal c
down nowadays because should can carry the meaning first syllable, whereas in standard British English we usually
of ought to so if the writer of our first sentence meant to include the e to give us judgement. However, in legal
suggest that Jean hoped to be in a position to call (she contexts, even in Britain, we usually have the non-e version
ought to be able to manage it) then present-day usage to give us judgment. AUGUST 2016 37

p37 Red ed pen.indd 37 21/06/2016 09:56

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38 AUGUST 2016

p038_wmagaug16.indd 38 17/06/2016 09:49




Love Story 250

Competition TO BE
Boy meets girl is perhaps the most popular
theme in fiction although today youre just as
likely to be writing about same-sex couples or
eighty-something lovers. Whoever you choose to
write about, how they meet, the challenges they
encounter and how their affair pans out are all for
you to decide. Will they live happily ever after or
will it all end in tears?

Your story should be the usual 1,500-1,700 words

and the closing date is 14 September.

The winner will receive 200,

with 50 for the runner-up, and
both stories will be published
in Writing Magazine.
See p107 for entry details, full rules
and entry forms. HERE


With its closing date of 15 August, theres still time to enter last months competition
for a story of up to 1,000 words, on any subject or theme. Prizes are as above.
See p107 for more details.

p39 open comp.indd 39 23/06/2016 09:52

Humouor y
s t
short tition

by Thomas Everley Thomas Everley is a writer and filmmaker based in the East

Midlands. He typically writes comedy, fantasy and science fiction.
m sorry, sir, Gabrielle called, as softly He has written for a number of anthologies, including Tales of the
Mouse and Minotaur and Evil Genius Guide from Fox Spirit Books
as a librarian would permit herself to.
(due for release in 2016).
Were actually just about to close.
He spun round. She saw a flash of
panic in his eyes. Hadrian rang the bell. Waiting for a response, Okay, where do the books get returned?
Yeah, kind of an emergency, he blurted out. I he started peering in through windows and If its after weve closed, they can drop it through
need a book. Have to have it tonight. frosted glass panels in the door. that slot there.
She walked round the desk and logged onto Wait a minute, Gabrielle objected. What am Well, come on Enid Blyton, open it up.
the database. Which book is it? I doing here? Gabrielle unlocked the late night book deposit
Its called The Fifth Wall by Hadrian Page. You agreed to come with me. box and checked inside. I dont see it-
Doesnt ring a bell, she said as she typed into Why? Oh no! No! We have had three text breaks in
the relevant fields. Whats it about? I convinced you. as many pages and we have just changed location
Its about a character breaking out of their How did you do that? again! I am not embarking on another subplot!
own book. It was long and convoluted. I dont really want The narrative structure simply cant take it.
The search completed. It turns out we to go into it again. It all happened during the Im sorry, but if its not-
do have one copy, but it appears to be out first text break anyway, so it doesnt really matter. Hold on. I want to try something.
at the moment. I dont understand. Thank God its there, Hadrian thought.
No no no, it cant be! You dont understand? Imagine how the What did you just do?
Please, sir, there no need to get- reader feels; were not even 500 words in yet and Is it there?
Who has the book? this storylines already getting pretty thin. Yes, it just appeared. How did-?
I cant reveal that, Mr er?... The door opened to reveal a young woman in Its my POV, my internal monologue; that
Page. Hadrian Page. her late teens. makes it prose. If its prose, it has to happen.
Oh? As in- Hello? She looked at the pair, a puzzled Gabrielle picked up the book and inspected
Yes, that one. Now, please. I need my book! expression across her face. Miss Angel? she said, it. It was a hardback. The cover was bound in
recognising the librarian. a deep burgundy leather, with golden lettering
Hadrian stormed out of the library, the confused Hi Stephanie. This is Mr Page. He was deeply embossed. It had the design of a book
librarian in toe. He stopped, clutched his head. hoping- that belonged in museum of magical tomes. And
Ow! He dropped to one knee. God that hurt! Really? Hadrian interrupted. Your names yet, it almost looked brand new. As if it had been
Whats wrong? Gabrielle asked. Gabrielle Angel? I can see why you started out made only this morning.
POV shift. as the protagonist. So, she ran her hand across the cover.
Im sorry? Excuse me? You wrote this book?
The stuff before the text break was all in your Never mind. He turned toward Stephanie. Yes and no.
head, now its all in mine. The Fifth Wall. Hand it over. I dont understand.
I dont understand. Erm. I havent got it. The books about me.
Hurts like hell when they change it. What do you mean you havent got it? You wrote a book about yourself?
Really, theres no need to swear. Well, I took it out because I thought it was Someone else wrote me into it. When I finally
He shot a look at her. Hell isnt a Oh no, a sequel to Stanislavsky. But its just some weird realised I was a character in it, I started looking
youre from a kids book, arent you? gibberish. So I returned it. for a way out.
What? You returned it? He looked at Gabrielle. A way out? Of a book that you wrote
Never mind. Look, we need to get my book. Audrey Sunburn here says she returned it. about yourself?
Who did you say it was with? Its stage make up. There is a way for fictional characters to break
She looked at a printout of the loan record. Its fake tan. How did you not remember free from the restraints of their pages if they
Stephanie White. Shes a drama student. she had returned it? know how to do it.
Right. We need to get a move on then. But it wasnt returned. And you think thats what you did?
Should we take my car? It wasnt? I tried, but something went wrong. Instead
Not quick enough. Another text break should No. of leaving the book, I got pulled deeper into
do it. He looked at Stephanie. You didnt return it! the fabula.
Another what? Well, my mum was going that way so she The what?
said shed drop it off. Shes probably doing it The story world. When the experiment
Told you! right now. backfired, I ended up getting sucked into the
That felt weird. Hadrian brought his fingers to his temples. world of a fictitious story within the world of the
Well, it will if you pay attention. Ignore them His forehead wrinkled as he attempted to fictitious story that I was originally written into.
and youll be fine. massage the headache away. And now if I dont figure out what I did wrong
The pair walked up the steps to the front door. Fine, he sighed. Lets go back to the library. and how to undo what I did, Ill be permanently

40 AUGUST 2016

p40 comp winner.indd 40 21/06/2016 10:51


trapped within the made up story within a Fine, he submitted. EDITORS COMMENTS
made up story instead of leaving a made up Gabrielle released the page she was
story in order to reach the real world where holding hostage. So, she asked. Whats our Meta-fiction that is,
my author currently resides. next move? writing about writing, or
My head hurts. Its essentially a spell. With a very specific playing with story structure
So does mine. Works of fiction arent ritual. Were going to need ingredients. is tricky to get right, but
supposed to have an awareness of their own Text break? Thomas Everley does a fine
creative origins. It feels like the Encyclopaedia Text break! job in his playful Humour
Britannica is doing a Bavarian folk dance in Competition winning entry, The Fifth Wall.
my brain, and I was written as fairly intelligent. Gabrielle and Hadrian mixed the ingredients In longer form, devices such as addressing
I can only imagine how difficult it must be into a paste. With it they drew an intricate the reader directly or having the author
for someone who was written for the under- diagram on the floor inside the library. Lines appear in the work herself, can seem
twelves market, like yourself. intersected within a dodecagonal sigil. As gimmicky and run out of steam, but the
What does that mean? they completed the diagram, it lit up. A confines of this 1,700 word story are just
It means that if the Mr Men knew about brilliant white light filled the room. about right to tease the concept, get the
the real world, they probably wouldve Hadrian dropped to his knees. reader onside and then deliver a narrative
stayed in bed. Gabrielle looked down. Hadrian? What is it? that satisfies its own, albeit twisted,
So, hang on. Youre not real? Whats wrong? internal logic.
Thats right. Argh! My head! Of all the times for a Much of The Fifth Walls impact comes
Am I real? POV shift. from the piling on of further layers of
No. What do you mean? literary contrivance. Beyond the character
But I think Im real. Think something; youll see. made real, Thomas adds progressively
Because youre supposed to. Nobody I am, she said. Nothings happening. more disorienting depths of detail,
wants to read about a character with an He looked up at her. Its not your playing on elements that writers ought
existential identity crisis. Except speculative POV either. to be especially aware of: the effect of a
fiction fans, but thats a whole other thing. No, the voice spilled out of the light. POV shift on the affected characters, the
The point is, that on a scale of reality, Its mine. usefulness of text breaks to skip potentially
youre actually less real than me. I stepped forward into the library. Around boring exposition, the awareness that
Somewhere between Bilbo Baggins and me, the smells of the room flooded my Hadrians break out of one fiction into the
an honest politician. nostrils: books, sweat, fear, even the strange real world is itself happening in another
You expect me to believe that Im nothing occultish paste. They barraged my senses fictional construct.
more than a childs bedtime story? typical of an unseasoned author. And On another level, Thomas also
Well on the bright side, youre still more yet, within this world, every scent had an demonstrates another key comedy-writing
likely than the politician. underlying hint of ink. technique: rather than peppering the
My whole life has been a lie. Gabrielle You? Hadrian said. He looked into my narrative with authorial one-liners, the
looked down at the book in her hands. eyes, his wide with terror and confusion. storys humour comes from the mouths of
Hadrian reached out to take the book. She You were there last time. its characters. Moreover, Hadrians jokes
pulled it back, out of his grasp. Of course I was! What did you expect? illustrate and derive from his character.
Take me with you, she demanded. I dont understand. This was supposed to His snippy attitude and snappy answers
Take you what? free me. highlight his impatience with the fictional
When you figure out how to leave your No, you fool. It summons your author! constructs that surround him, and his
story, I want you to take me with you. I gripped my pen tightly. I pointed it fondness for barbed nicknames (Audrey
No, thats not how this works. at my creation. Youre going back in that Sunburn, Enid Blyton, etc) provides a nice
Gabrielle opened the cover of the book and drawer where you belong. running joke without trumpeting itself as
ripped out the first page. A great weight clung to my arm. I looked here comes the gag.
WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?! over to see Gabrielle trying to wrestle the pen And the judge stepped away from his PC.
I want to be my own person. out of my hand.
Give me the book! Go! she shouted.
She ripped out another page. What about you? asked Hadrian. RUNNER-UP AND SHORTLISTED
I dont want my life, my decisions to all be I have my own author to face. Now get Runner-up in the Humour Short Story
decided by some sweaty unshaven novelist. out of here. Competition, whose story is published on
You do know your author can read this, I pushed her back. Her grip was surprisingly, was Andrew
dont you? strong. I twisted my hand free and slashed the Hutchcraft, Peterborough, Cambridgeshire.
I want to be free! pen across her. She sprayed into a splash of ink Also shortlisted were: Lou Armstrong,
And Ive a feeling she wont like that across the bookcases. Norton, North Yorkshire; Hazel Bagley,
description of her. I turned just in time to watch Hadrian run Chippenham, Wiltshire; Tony Domaille,
She took hold of the next page. Either we into the light. Thornbury, Bristol; Gary Dring, Birmingham;
leave together or you dont leave at all. No! Ann Elliott, Framlingham, Suffolk; Kay
Hadrian attempted to edge closer. Gabrielle Sprinting after him, my stomach churned. Stead, Copmanthorpe, York; David
tightened her grip. The paper crumpled audibly A villain of my own creation was now loose Woodfine, South Milford, Leeds.
between her fingers. upon the world. AUGUST 2016 41

p40 comp winner.indd 41 21/06/2016 10:51


Shelf life:
The unauthorised biographer of gures including Tony Blair,
Robert Maxwell and Mohamed Al-Fayed, and former producer of
Panorama, shares his top ve books with Judith Spelman

om Bower writes unauthorised biographies of rich and
powerful people. He delves deeply into their lives to find
parts that have usually been left out of earlier biographies or
deliberately concealed. Whenever I find a detail which shows
that a powerful and rich person can be exposed as dishonest or
a liar, that is always a great pleasure, he says.
He studied law the London School of Economics and worked as a
barrister for the National Council of Civil Liberties before joining the
BBC as a researcher and becoming a reporter on Panorama. He went on
to produce the programme for twelve years.
Tom has written books covering football, the oil industry, World
War II and Nazi Germany. His subjects include Klaus Barbie, Robert
Maxwell, Simon Cowell, Bernie Ecclestone, Richard Branson, Mohamed
Al-Fayed, Conrad Black and Gordon Brown. He pulls no punches
and has been sued many times to no avail because he deals with
substantiated facts, His latest book, Broken Vows: Tony Blair The
Tragedy of Power was published in March 2016.

Arthur Koestler His second book is Beware of Pity by Stefan
Zweig, an Austrian novelist, playwright,
The first book Tom has chosen is journalist and biographer. The novel, which
Darkness at Noon by Arthur Koestler. I was written over a number of years, was
read it every year because it is the most published in 1939 and is his only work
superb introduction and explanation of of fiction. It is the story of a man who
the human condition, he says. I just falls in love with a handicapped woman
find it a piece of simple writing that is and why it is so important is that its all about, again, the human
so evocative. This is a book about the condition and the frailties of human beings. I chose this because
arrest of a senior communist official in my mother loved it very much and I read it when I was very young
Stalins Russia who has been through the whole revolution and and have re-read it many times since, he says. You see I write
is persuaded that he should plead guilty although he is innocent about human beings and their vulnerabilities and their vanity
because that is what the party needs. The twist, says Tom, is and their self-deceit and this book, again, is about the exercise of
that his original interrogator sympathises with him and that he power and self-deceit. Like Koestler, Zweig understands how people
is not guilty. Then the interrogator himself is executed by a new become either corrupted or have the strength to resist corruption
vanguard of apparatchiks. Its a fascinating story of the era in and whether they actually can withstand the temptations to do
which I grew up and which is at the heart of tyranny. wrong. I find that very interesting.

42 AUGUST 2016

p42 SHELF LIFE.indd 42 21/06/2016 10:07


lthough he is currently working on his next book,
Tom refused to talk about it as the subject and title
JOHN LE CARRE had not been announced. Instead he talked about his
Toms third choice is Le Carrs Smileys People. This is a writing in general and his last published book, Broken Vows -
book that was published in 1979 featuring the British Tony Blair; The Tragedy of Power.
master spy, George Smiley, who is called out of retirement On the whole, I believe people unless I am disappointed, he
to investigate the death of one of his former agents. It is the says. Its one thing not to believe, for example, a Donald Trump
third book of the Karla Trilogy. figure, or the spokesman for Putin, but I think with Blair in the
Le Carr, again, studies human beings and treachery. He is so profound beginning it was quite right to believe him. I believed him. I
in his understanding, says Tom. I have written quite a lot about spies, believed him when he said there were WMDs and it justified the
the Cold War and Nazi and post-war Germany. Le Carr is an absolute Iraq war because the Prime Minister would tell the truth.
genius, especially in that book, in telling the story of treachery but also on a I think if you go through life not believing, you just miss so
personal and a political level. much. My writing depends on cynicism. I write about people
He has a remarkable insight into the human condition and you have to who have lied. There are no professional reasons for me to
often re-read passages to fully understand. He has a terrific vocabulary to disbelieve them but if I have a vested interest in discovering the
evoke happiness and misery and disappointment. If I need inspiration I can truth, my job is invariably to expose the lies of these famous
just read a few pages and be inspired. I always find when I do my writing and rich people. The reason I wrote about Branson, who really
the question is always what motivated someone to do wrong and what is a bte noir of mine, is because when he won a libel action, he
repercussions they feared. So often people are so blinded by their egos and stood on the steps of the Law Courts in the Strand and said, I
reckless because of their ambition that they dont think of the consequences. always tell the truth. Then I discovered he often doesnt.
With Blair, he said that in 1997 he warned Diana not to
continue her affair with Dodi but the date that Blair met her
was three weeks before she actually met Dodi.
If you read Toms books you will see that they are soundly
OF SHAKESPEARE researched. He does much of that research himself. I have
Tom choose The Complete Works of Shakespeare as a team and they are carefully directed, he says. In All the
his fourth book. That has everything, he says. Presidents Men, Deep Throat tells Bob Woodward to follow
We read quite a lot of Shakespeare at school but the money: my criteria is to find the victim. Invariably, all the
because I was too young I didnt understand it. I victims of Blair, or Branson, or Fayed or Maxwell are the
have just read this marvellous book called 1606: people who can tell you where the bodies are buried because
William Shakespeare and the Year of Lear by James they are the ones who suffered. Usually you find people who,
Shapiro. That was the year that Shakespeare very often, are decent people who have suffered.
completed King Lear and wrote two other tragedies Usually, an author says that the book he has most enjoyed
Antony and Cleopatra and Macbeth. It was a difficult year following the writing is his latest. Not Tom Bower. Fayed, he immediately
failure of the Gunpowder Plot, the outbreak of plague and increasing replies. It was just an extraordinary story and astonishing, what I
religious divisions. discovered. Each book has its highs and lows and then you find
There is so much which I didnt realise in Shakespeare and it is just something where people dont want to tell you the truth and you
fascinating to understand the twists and turns of why he wrote it and how can show them what they have said. The great pleasure about
he wrote it and what it all means. You have to understand the rhythm of writing Blair was that so much has been written about him,
Shakespeare. Shapiro wrote another book published in 2005 and called not least by the Blairites, and there was so much more to say. I
1599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare. interviewed over 200 people and they all contributed something
that hadnt been said before or hadnt been explained.
I spoke to so many people who were close to Blair and they
THE OXFORD COMPANION just disclosed things that they have never talked about before
TO WORLD WAR II so I felt amazingly privileged and excited. I was about halfway
through when I realised I had a whole new original and much
Toms non-fiction book and his final choice is more truthful account of the decade. Thats what is so exciting.
The Oxford Companion to World War II, edited The pleasure really is hammering it into a narrative. I have on
by Ian Dear, which brings together a team of my wall Ten Rules of Writing. One of them is re-writing is the
140 international experts covering military and key to writing. All the time, re-write.
political areas and showing how the war affected When you read the books I have mentioned, which are
so many people. The book emphasises the social about the human condition, human beings and personal
history and how people coped in their daily relationships, I find it so much easier to talk to people
lives. I have always been fascinated by the Second World War, explains because I am always sympathetic, even to mass murderers. I
Tom, and this book has so much in it that I dont know. It will be a used to write about Nazi war criminals and I always got on
marvellous way of actually finding out. I wrote quite a lot about the war well with them because I just knew what it was that would
and post-war Germany. My first book is about post-war Germany and trigger them to speak.
the de-Nazified Germany. The Oxford Companion is just one of those I think the whole role of the interviewer must be to focus
books I look into to remind myself of characters or wars and politics of on the person you are speaking to. Its not about you, its about
that era in the post war period. them. In the end they are human beings. AUGUST 2016 43

p42 SHELF LIFE.indd 43 21/06/2016 10:07


Game on?
our letter made me
smile, Roger, but I fear
Jane Wenham Jones helps a reader decide if a TV game it should have been sent
to my good friend and
show might be a good publicity vehicle for his writing colleague, Lynne Hackles.
The nearest I have come to a game

show is appearing on Ready, Steady,
am considering applying to go on a well-known game show Cook many years ago a few months
as a means of publicity for my novels (I am self-published). before my first novel came out, as it
I think I have a pretty good chance of getting on as I have a happens where I grated cheese and
friend who has done it and he has been helpful with advice chopped broccoli with what I like to
on the application process, but I must say the thought scares think was aplomb, but Lynne had me
me stiff. Another friend said I wouldnt be allowed to mention the watching from behind a cushion when
titles and so it would have little effect, although she pointed out that she appeared on Deal or No Deal.
I might win some money I could then use for advertising. You have And not just because she was standing
written in the past about appearing on television. Do you think it opposite Noel Edmonds.
made a difference to your books sales? Prolific author Lynne got through
ROGER WOULD-BE-STAR to the very end of the contest and
Chepstow was faced with choosing between two
boxes one containing 10p and the
other 75,000. (You can get quite a
lot of advertising for that!)
Im pleased to tell you the tale
has a happy ending. I was having
palpitations but Lynne who
remained sublimely calm throughout

44 AUGUST 2016

p45 Talk it over /novel ideas.indd 44 21/06/2016 10:09


walked away with the seventy-five Linda Lewis, too, found that her TV
grand, and earned a whole lot more appearance reaped rewards. She took
money and publicity as a result. on the challenge of braving Anne
You are probably right to be Robinson on The Weakest Link a few
confident about getting on your years ago and feels it raised her profile,
chosen show, as Lynne says being a thereby gaining her writing jobs as a
writer definitely helped. Both in the result. Like you, she was apprehensive.
filling out of the original application I didnt know if Id die of fright or

form and the many more questions, not, she said at the time. I didnt. It
on her opinions and attitudes to life was great fun.
that she had to answer when she was Another friend, Judy Astley, was part
invited to audition.
While those around me chewed the
ends of their pens and gazed into the
distance, I scribbled away happily, she
of a team from the Romantic Novelists
Association that went on Eggheads.
The idea was to get publicity for
the RNA but the opportunity for
says. At the next stage, sitting in front
of a camera and told to talk about
personal publicity wasnt to be missed
either as far as I was concerned, she Same time,
herself, Lynne says her work as a tutor
and speaker came into its own. In
fact, she says, the whole day could be
recalls. Always say yes, I reckon,
however scary the gig.
The RNA was mentioned and
same place
related to writing experience. talked about briefly on the show but
Your friend is right in that you although all the team managed to It doesnt matter where and when,
may not be allowed to mention the get in plugs for their books, these
just write, says Lynne Hackles
title of your latest novel. It depends were all cut at the editing stage. And
very much on the channel but I have their surnames werent mentioned,

been expressly forbidden to mention so, as Judy says, you might think that he definition of insanity is doing the same
books at all on some programmes publicity-wise on an individual basis, thing over and over again, but expecting
Ive been on. On others Kilroy it wasnt that productive. different results, is a saying attributed to
(remember him?) for example it She was, however, surprised by Albert Einstein. But was he right?
was captioned underneath my name just how many people had seen the New writers are told to get a routine to write at
every time I spoke. programme. Some years on, she says, the same time every day. Better still, to find a place
I was going to advise that ones Im still meeting people who say, Oh, where they can write and go there. So, day after
occupation is normally given or I saw you on Eggheads... day, you go to the same spot at the same time and
requested at which point you shriek Will it increase your book sales? attempt to write. Nothing happens but youve been
novelist and if you are interesting Has popping up on TV ever helped given this advice on good authority so the problem
and entertaining enough, viewers may mine? The honest answer is, I dont must be you, and not the experts advice. Or maybe
well Google you afterwards to see what know. I like to think so but publicity you go to your chosen place at exactly your chosen
youve written. But on reflection, I is a strange animal. And nothing if not time and the words pour out of you. If the latter
realise that on some shows only the unpredictable. Sometimes a review in happens, stick with it. It works for you.
first name is used, so your surname a national newspaper seems to make Now, for you poor souls who have discovered
even your real one! may not get no difference at all, while a small same time, same place does nothing for you. I
aired. Lynnes clearly was. Although mention on an obscure blog sends must be in the wrong place, you may wail. Try
no actual book titles were mentioned, the Amazon ratings soaring. Ive been somewhere else but it might be that you are lucky
they made much of the fact that Lynne on radio programmes that have led and can write anywhere. I had always written in
was a writer, and she says: to brisk sales for the next hour and my room, at my desk. Then when travelling around
My website crashed because others where nothing has happened at Britain in a motorhome I thought I couldnt write
it received so many hits. Several all. There hasnt always been a sure-fire no writing room, no desk. Finally I told myself
magazines ran stories on my win and way to monitor success but I take the to get over it and began writing on campsites, on
I sold several articles about it. Work view that whatever you do on the PR beaches, on the top of hills. It was a sort of picnic
came rolling in, especially when I said front can only help in the long run. writing. If you can eat anywhere, as in a picnic, then
wed spent the money on a motor So I would say: apply for the theres no reason why you cant write anywhere.
home and would be travelling around game show because it will be fun, it What about the same time every day? So many
the coast of Britain. I was asked to is good to conquer ones fears, you writers say that mornings are their best time. I
write about it and writers groups might, as you say, earn a couple of wonder if theyve ever tried any other. If you find
from all areas asked me to speak or bob, and because when you are a that the words arent flowing then experiment. Try
give workshops to them. Deal Or No writer, no experience is ever wasted. writing in your lunch break, tomorrow afternoon,
Deal did far more than keep the bank Book sales or not, it will give you tonight, just before you go to bed or as soon as
manager happy. one more thing to write about. you wake. Try a different time of the day and see if
Womens Magazine short story writer Good luck! something amazing happens. AUGUST
JULY 2016 45

p45 Talk it over /novel ideas.indd 45 21/06/2016 10:09


Social Engagement
Frittering time on Twitter, or legitimately working?
Simon Whaley dodges the cute kittens to find out.

lthough the first needed daily office banter, which is be floundering in a dark pool. It
tweet was sent on 21 the only thing I really miss from my seems most writers enjoy the support
March 2006, it was old banking days. and friendship offered through
four months later, on Its possible for some writers to go social media. I think it is particularly
15 July, when Twitter a whole day, if not longer, without invaluable for the new writer.
became publicly available. Since then, seeing another soul. Social media
writers all over the world have been provides us with those water-cooler Emphasis on the network
tweeting about their latest blockbuster, moments, where we can moan about It doesnt matter what stage your
the joy of edits, and the cutest cat the latest rejection, or share the writing business is at, networking
photos they can find. joyful acceptance. But, perhaps more with other writers, even virtually, can
Social media and writers are not importantly, social media offers a take your writing business to the next
always happy bedfellows. At worst it place to meet other like-minded types level. Catherine Miller, whose debut
can swallow several hours that would who can put those rejections into novel Waiting For You was published
have been better spent writing, or perspective and motivate us to get on in March, uses social media for
it becomes nothing more than a with our work in progress. networking with her support group.
continuous sales platform of Buy my When I posted a query on a writers Ive always used it as a way of meeting
latest book! because thats what our Facebook group asking members why people and keeping in touch. I met
publishers tell us to do. they used social media, Awen Thorber my closest friends, The Romaniacs,
And when one survey suggests wrote: The writer friends I have found initially via social media and we keep
writers who regularly use social on Facebook have been invaluable. in touch mostly via Facebook.
media sell more copies of their They spur me on to write when it all Those writer friends kept
books, irrespective of whether they feels useless and pointless. They Catherine motivated through her

are traditionally published or self- give me a laugh with humorous most challenging days (shes the
published, another study reveals the posts and, when it is a lonely mother of twin girls) to
click-through rate from social media world writing in the study finish her novel. Without
to authors websites is woefully low at home, provide sanity Use social media to that help and support she
and therefore a complete waste of and friendship. may never have signed
time. So when it comes to our writing, Carol Wareham added: interact with people, as with her publisher, Carina,
is there a business case for using social It has truly been an opposed to constantly and be busy editing novel
media platforms? education in more ways number two.
than one. I have gained
lling timelines with
Office support friendship, support, advice adverts. Engaging opportunities
Peter Jones, who used social media and information. I have Many writers moan about the
to engage with his readers about been pointed in the direction of marketing expectation publishers
his latest novel, The Truth About various groups that could help. Every put on their writers, particularly when
This Charming Man, finds these writer I have met through Facebook Catherine Miller it comes to social media. However,
platforms replace something from and eventually in the flesh has been Twitter: @katylittlelady marketing isnt just about promoting
his employed life. These days, social unstinting in their generosity with Facebook: our writing. As Peter Jones points out,
media primarily takes the place of advice, help and friendship. Without its about engaging with our readers,
work colleagues, providing that much- the help and support given I would rather than selling to them. I estimate
46 AUGUST 2016

p46 Business of Writing.indd 46 21/06/2016 10:13


that half of my friends are actually had a page that would be confusing
people who came to me by reading for both my readers and people who
one of my books, so in that sense know me. I can sort of understand
its a really good way to engage with why an author might have a page if
If youre going to
my readers. Talk about something, they write under a pen name, but promote something,
anything, other than your latest because of the way Facebook treats find a way to make it
book. Seriously. What did you have pages, I think theyd be better off
for lunch today? Tweet that! Youll creating a second Facebook account interactive. My last book
be stunned how much interaction or profile. launch encouraged
you get. Catherine Miller set up an author
That mundanity is what many page because she felt this solution
readers to send me
readers are interested in. Before social worked best for her personal pictures of celebrities
media, fan clubs shared interesting circumstances. I have a separate that they thought I might
snippets about a writers life with its author page on Facebook and a
members. Today, social media is that personal page, as I often share pictures be impersonating.
fan club. Its immediate, accessible of my children on my personal page,
and flexible. Its a direct relationship and they are not something I want
between the reader and the author, everyone to see. Peter Jones:
which is something those original fan
clubs couldnt always deliver. Research resource Twitter: @peterjonesauth
Deciding which social media Social media is also a fantastic Facebook: peterjonesauthor
platforms to use can be daunting, resource, offering great opportunities
but its worth considering how to get in touch with people wed
you prefer engaging with people. never normally meet. Commenting ENGAGEMENT ETIQUETTE
Facebook is by far my social media on my Facebook post, Writing
medium of choice, says Peter. It just Magazine columnist Julie Phillips, Think of social media as a friendly writing business tool
seems to make more sense than any whos currently researching about What do you like seeing from people you follow, or are
of the others. I can post videos (like Birmingham during the Second friends with? If you hate being sold to, then dont sell to
YouTube), one liners (like Twitter), World War for her next book, wrote, your followers and friends. Find a balance. Engaging with
and pictures (like Instagram), yet its I use it more and more these days for readers doesnt mean revealing your innermost private
far easier to use than Google+ and research. There are some wonderful secrets or discussing the finer details of the last argument
LinkedIn, which most of the time groups on social media and its a you had with your other half. Share the title of the book
leave me utterly perplexed. Keeping up way of linking with those groups youve just finished reading, or mention somewhere youve
with replies and comments is a breeze and finding people to talk to with visited recently that you found inspiring. Be positive and
and, once youve got the hang of it, its knowledge and experience on the upbeat, but dont hold back from mentioning those difficult
possible to figure out whats actually subjects youre researching. days we writers have. Matt Haig (@matthaig1, www.
working and what isnt, whereas on Its always worth remembering, author of Reasons To Stay
other social media sites it feels like that social media puts you in touch Alive, does this well.
youre in the dark. with people, not just dry facts.
Catherine Miller agrees. These When I needed to determine the Post regularly on your accounts
days I would say I prefer Facebook as official opening date of a long That doesnt mean every two minutes. It could be once a
it allows a bit more interaction. The distance footpath for an article in day, or every couple of days. But if youre quiet for several
way it is formatted means if I dont The Countryman, it was contacts weeks without an explanation, potential followers may
get there as often, I still manage to made via social media who resolved think youve abandoned the platform. Update your profile
catch up with news whereas I find that my issue, not the relevant tourist image occasionally. When Catherine Millers debut novel
harder to do with Twitter. board, local authority and newspaper was published she treated herself to some professionally
However, Peter doesnt exclusively archives Id been liaising with captured author photos, one of which became her new
use Facebook. I also use Twitter for several weeks. Not only did I profile picture.
and Instagram but only because discover when the path opened but
theres a small, but significant, social media also connected me with Social media doesnt have to be the procrastination
amount of people who wont go someone who was at the official tool it is frequently portrayed as
anywhere near Facebook. opening ceremony itself. Think of it as social engagement instead. We need people:
This then raises the question about If internet search engines return readers, fellow writers and those fantastically-informed
profiles. Should you have a personal uninspiring results for your interviewees we connect with for research purposes. Start
profile or an author profile, or both? keywords and specialist subject engaging with them. Tell them what you had for breakfast.
How much do you really want your matter, repeat the search again You never know where it may lead. When an Icelandic
readers to know about you? using social media websites. While publisher approached me about the Icelandic rights to my
Peters view is to keep things simple. blogs and websites are potential book One Hundred Ways For A Dog To Train Its Human,
So far as I see it, Facebook is divided information resources for writers, one of the first things he did was share a photo of his dog.
into people and things; people have social media offers an opportunity to So, contrary to what many believe, social media is not just
profiles and things have pages. If I also connect directly with experts. about fluffy kitten photos.
AUGUST 2016 47

p46 Business of Writing.indd 47 21/06/2016 10:14


Under the
Author and lecturer James McCreet puts a readers first
300 words under his forensic lens

CE McVey is a former journalist, now copywriter from

Cheltenham. Shes working on her first novel and is
finishing this month on the Curtis Brown Creative
novel writing course.
February 19881 The novel is a character-driven, coming-of-age tale

set in the 1980s involving a group of pupils thrown
is hopes for a day off school had been together to make their way home in a blizzard.
raised2 when hed gone down for breakfast
and found his mother listening to Radio
Oxford in the kitchen.3 This only ever happened
during emergencies such as extreme weather and
well, barring the four-minute warning, it was the
only type of emergency situation which seemed 1 Im a long-term grumbler about
date headings in books. I cease
looking at them after a few pages only
from the board rather than the iron
itself? See also 18 below.
likely to occur.4 But without looking up from the
squeak and hiss of the iron,5 she told him theyd
already read out the school closures and Sir Henry
to discover at some point that Ive
missed something important in the
chronology and have to go back to
6 Why is this handled as reported
speech? Why not have the
mother just say these words? True, we
Grangers wasnt among them.6
Bollocks!7 reconstruct the timeline. I dont like seem to be inside the characters head,
How you feeling? she asked.8 to do maths while reading. But thats but active speech would be more
Oh. Alright, he said, immediately regretting this just me. I suppose its handy to know immediate here and be a more rapid
answer.9 He should have feigned a terrible headache that this is February 1988, but both hook into the scene.
which could be a sign of something potentially of these facts could be subtly alluded
serious.10 Was it possible to have concussion two
days after being kicked in the head?11
to in the text.
7 Why is this in italics? My
impression is that weve been

Good, well.12 Back to school today, then. She Its good that we start with a in his head so far so are the italics
indicated two pieces of cold white toast waiting for gender but not a name. This purely for emphasis, or to show a
him on the small formica table.13 gives us something to read for. Im less switch into free-indirect voice? Was
But .14 enamoured of the clichd phrase to the previous voice actually that of the
She glanced up, eyebrows raised to fend off raise hopes. author? Its a question that may cause
the protest.15 the reader to over-read, or to become
He decided she needed to know:16Theyre
saying theres going to be more snow, though! A
weather front coming in from the East blizzard
3 Nevertheless, this is a good first
line. It shows how the character
thinks and theres humour in the
confused. Simple solution: dont use
italics and well assume its the same
voice as before.
conditions. The AA are saying not to make journeys
causal link between Radio Oxford and
unless absolutely necessary.17 His voice had gone
high and squeaky18 making him seem childish
and whiney instead of fifteen and worthy of being
no school.
8 Its good that her phrasing is
not grammatical. Thats how
listened to.19 He cleared this throat.20
His mother looked pointedly out of the 4 At this stage, Im starting
to wonder about narrative
perspective. Id assumed from the start
people really speak. On the other
hand, why state that she asked when
the question mark makes it clear. Just
window as a car swished effortlessly past in the
slush:21 Sorry, kiddo. If schools open, youre that were inside the characters head have her say it.
going in like everyone else. Your dads gone to but now I wonder if this four-minute-
work and look theres Emma on her way now,
she nodded over the road.22
Rob followed her gaze as Emma,23 swathed24 in a
warning thought is his or not. Its
exaggerated and unrealistic enough to
be, but also a little too grammatically
9 This interjection directly after
his spoken words is problematic.
It sets up a duality between him as
cream snood and hugging her folders to her chest structured. Though a minor quibble at character and the way hes narrated.
like an American college girl,25 picked her way this stage, it remains a useful pointer In short, it fractures the storytelling
through the patchy snow, down the driveway.26 to the concerns of the late eighties. illusion. Moreover, it causes us to ask
Even Emma wasnt enough to make him want where the interjection comes from:

to go in today.27 I love the sound of the iron, but the character or the author. You need
I have a nagging sense that creak to show the reader his regret, not tell
might be better. Does the sound come us about it. This can be done through

p48 microscope.indd 48 21/06/2016 10:15


behaviour and/or dialogue, eg, Oh.

Alright... he said. Well, I mean... 17 This is all good and
credible. Hes heard it on TAP HERE
He held his hand tentatively to his the radio and is repeating it more To read James McCreets
head, watching for her reaction. Was it or less verbatim. suggested rewrite of this extract
possible to... etc
on our website

10 Again, is this his internal

voice or the authors? Did
18 Another nice touch.
Squeak is much better
here, and clearly a very different
fifteen-year-olds in the eighties talk of noise to the iron.
feigning headaches?

11 This is a deft bit of exposition, 19 Whos telling us this about

his being worthy? Is it from
however. It subtly evokes the him? If so, it sounds a tad mature. In summary
bullying without spelling it out. Not convincingly his voice.

12 My preference would be for a

full stop after good. Is there a
clause here, or is it two separate words?
20 A good short sentence,
but I think we could have
a little more. Hes not just clearing
It has been really quite
difficult to find much
wrong with this. Ive had to
his throat; hes reasserting his age turn the pedantometer up

13 The cold toast is a nice

touch. Theres something
about indicated that isnt quite right,
and masculinity. How about adding
an adverb? Gruffly?
to eleven to get this much.
The only real concern is
the narrative perspective,
though. A little too formal? Couldnt
she just point or gesture at it? There
are quite a few adjectives in this
21 Pointedly is good. So
is swished. Not so sure
about effortlessly. Its not an
which appears to be
divided between character
and author. This is quite
sentence and I wonder how many adverb that seems to go with a car. permissible, but should
of them we need. For example, we Maybe its more a case of being avoid confusion or conflict
know that the table is small and unimpeded or unhindered. wherever possible. Its
Formica (note capital), but we have usually a case of tone and
no idea where it is in the kitchen.
Its difficult to visualise. How
small is it? If this is not important,
22 A paragraph break
before this sentence is
not strictly necessary, but I think
vocabulary: who would say
or think what.
I wonder vaguely about
dispense with the detail and put the it would add a nice beat between the target audience for
toast on the worktop. the mothers look outside and her the novel. If it begins
utterance. A full stop is required with the perspective of

14 Lovely bit of interrupted

dialogue, but close the space
before she. a fifteen-year-old boy,
does that mean its a
after But and get rid of the full stop.
Its an incomplete sentence. 23 Is the mother literally
gazing? I think this
is a clich trap: following the
young adult book? If so,
how should the character
viewpoint and concerns

15 Id argue that a glance is

a completed action, ie she
looked up and then down again.
gaze. Really, hes looking where
shes looking.
appeal specifically to that
Narrative perspective
Rather, shes looked up and remains
looking at him. The raised eyebrows
are great, but I think fend off
24 Swathed is an
overstatement. Its not as if
shes bodily wrapped like a mummy.
is key to answering
such questions. It must
sound natural as a young
could be better. Thats more suitable This again makes me wonder who is persons voice.
for a physical rather than a verbal using the word: character or author.
advance. Neutralise? Nullify?
Counteract? Trying to select the
right word causes me to wonder
again who is narrating all of this and
25 A nice observation about
the college girl. Whose
observation? Robs?
If you would like to submit an
what tone they might adopt.
extract of your work in progress,

16 Seems to me this is redundant.

Its clear as soon as he starts
26 Id omit the comma
after snow.
send it by email, with synopsis
and a brief biog, to:
speaking. Why spell it out? Doing
so again causes me to wonder whos
telling me this.
27 A lovely concluding
line that gives us some
necessary information. AUGUST 2016 49

p48 microscope.indd 49 23/06/2016 09:54


Writers have always reimagined stories, and retold classic
tales in their own way, says author Margaret James

an fiction as a literary a 20th-century reinterpretation
definition is of course of Shakespeares Romeo and Juliet,
a comparatively recent which is itself a reworking of a Classic plays and novels
phenomenon. poem called The Tragicall Historye
become classics because
But fan fiction itself has been of Romeus and Juliet by the
around for a very long time, otherwise forgotten Arthur Brooke. they speak to us as
probably ever since people first Obviously, good stories never die. human beings
started telling stories thousands of They merely get re-imagined
years ago. again and again and again.
Youll be aware that novelists, So, although a novel is certainly a
playwrights and movie makers work of invention, sometimes its a
have reworked Shakespeares more work of reinvention, too.
popular plays over and over again. But is a work of reinvention
But Shakespeare himself often likely to be an enrichment or
reworked older stories, turning a rip-off? The novel and now the if you havent been the kindest and
a tale from Giovanni Bocaccios movie Pride and Prejudice and most loving of parents yourself.
Decameron (this was reinvented Zombies would Jane Austen have Misguided parents, ill-treated
as Alls Well That Ends Well) and loved it or hated it? Its such a children, whether biological or
Giraldi Cinthios novella Gli shame we cant ask! adopted they are all damaged
Hecatommithi (which was reworked The Pulitzer Prize winner A and conflicted, so they all make
to become Othello) into the now- Thousand Acres, by Jane Smiley, great subjects for stories. Wuthering
classic plays. repeats Shakespeares original advice Heights reveals the havoc a vengeful
The movie Clueless is a in King Lear: dont renege on your adopted son can cause in an already
contemporary reworking of Jane responsibilities, and definitely dont messed-up family, a scenario that
Austens Emma. give everything to your children seems to fascinate us all.
The musical West Side Story is while youre still alive, particularly Kate Bushs iconic Wuthering Heights

50 AUGUST 2016

p50 Fiction Focus.indd 50 21/06/2016 10:16


is a great example of fan songdom, time, so fiction that merely reflects I wish
telling the story from Catherine
Earnshaws point of view, but it still
doesnt have a happy ending.
What about anti-fan fiction?
contemporary attitudes also risks
going out of fashion. A novel about
a mnage trois that might have
seemed daring and controversial
Id known
Cold Comfort Farm is a delicious fifty years ago probably wouldnt
parody that was inspired by seem anything out of the ordinary Novelists tell us what they wished theyd
Mary Webbs Precious Bane and now, when adultery is commonplace known right at the start of their careers.
(although it is probably heresy to and people have affairs as a matter
say this), I would suggest the more of course. But how it feels to be with Matt Hilton
melodramatic work of Thomas betrayed, hurt, forced to share
Hardy, too. those feelings wont go out of If youre anything
What about the more recent fashion because hurt and confusion like me, you
Barry Trotter and the Shameless stay the same whoever and wherever probably got
Parody by Michael Gerber: is that we might be. into books and
novel a cynical attempt to cash in We novelists are all influenced especially into
on the Harry Potter phenomenon? by other writers. We cant help writing because
Or is it a work of fan fiction that it. We read a lot. We think a lot. by nature you are
pays a fitting tribute to the original We imagine a lot, what-iffing all inward-thinking,
in a generous and jokey way? the time. So perhaps its almost and not exactly an extrovert when
Do you have a classic story in inevitable that some of our own it comes to being the life and soul at parties. I
your head that has been with you characters will turn out to be partial was the shy kid who preferred to stay slightly
for a long time and shows no sign reincarnations of for example in the background, listening and weighing up
of going away? Maybe its telling Tess Durbeyfield, Sydney Carton, situations before getting involved. When my
you to rewrite it for a contemporary Jane Eyre or Emma Woodhouse, mates were out playing football or making
readership? But, before you do, youll and thats fine. nuisances of themselves around town, I would
need to work out what its about. So, But, if you decide to re-imagine be reading a good book. Therefore, something I
see if you can come up with a phrase specific characters whose creators wish Id known before I was published was that
or sentence that sums it up. are still alive and whose books I was going to have to put aside my reluctance
What is Shakespeares Macbeth, are still in print, I suggest that at to being seen and heard in public.
re-imagined by Scott Smith as first you play safe and do this on a Unless youre very lucky (in that your book
the novel and later the movie A recognised fan fiction website for takes off like wildfire, becoming the latest
Simple Plan, about? The folly of the fun of it and with no intention must-read on everyones list), its a fact that
listening to your wife, the dangers of making any financial gain. youre going to have to do most of your own
of greed or is it a morality tale Maybe its impossible for a writer marketing and publicity because sadly
and a warning to us all, pointing of fiction to produce work that is marketing budgets in publishing houses tend
out that under the right (or rather completely original, and perhaps to be spent primarily on the mega-sellers,
the wrong) circumstances, almost its inevitable that we novelists of while midlist authors books are left to fend for
nobody is incorruptible? Perhaps the 21st century will always stand themselves. These midlist authors must do their
your own Macbeth could be a on the shoulders of the giants of best to spread the word about their books and
company CEO who cant resist literature. to build their own platforms.
getting involved in a corporate Lets allow the late Umberto Eco Ill write quite happily from daylight to dark
fraud that spirals out of control? have the last word. This comment writing is what I enjoy doing most but these
The classic plays and novels is from the postscript to his days a lot of my time is spent doing the rounds
become classics because they speak international bestseller The Name of of the social networks, or guest blogging, or
to us as human beings, rather the Rose. writing pieces and interviews, coupled with
than as smartphone-carrying, I rediscovered what writers have personal appearances at bookshops, libraries and
tablet-using, combustion-engine- always known (and have told us crime fiction conventions. Talking about my
dependent citizens of the 21st again and again): books always speak books and myself isnt something that comes
century. Customs, attitudes, gadgets of other books, and every story tells a naturally to me, and it will be the same for
and fashions are changing all the story that has already been told. some of you reading this. But its something we
authors all have to get used to doing.

Now try this Theres a saying up north, which is where I

come from shy bairns get nowt and, in case
of authors, its true.
Tribute to or parody of a classic movie or novel are you inspired to
give it a go?
Matt Hilton worked for 22 years in private
Who is your favourite fictional character and what has this person
security and the police force in Cumbria. He is
been up to outside the novel or the movie? When happened when
a 4th dan blackbelt and coach in ju-jitsu. He
he/she grew up or grew old?
is the author of ten thrillers in the Joe Hunter
series, and one previous Tess and Po thriller:
Blood Tracks. Tess and Po 2 Painted Skins is
published this month by Severn House. AUGUST 2015 51

p50 Fiction Focus.indd 51 21/06/2016 10:16


O Y Share your writing success stories. If you subscribe to Writing Magazine and

U R STO would like to feature here, email Tina Jackson,

Words in the bank

Space fulfilled
I live in the city of Im delighted to say that I
Worcester with my have completed my first novel,
beautiful wife and A Material Harvest, under my
children, working as a pseudonym, Paul Cranwell, writes
chef and writing whenever subscriber Paul Budd.
possible, writes subscriber Having worked in banking
Kieran Davis. through the financial crash, I
Ive been published wanted to write a story that
in more than thirty captured that world. My protagonist, Michael Turner, is a
anthologies and magazines senior banker who, on the face of it, has everything. Michael
(including Carillon disappears and it becomes clear that all is not what it seems. It
magazine, in which Ive made many appearances). is a scenario that gave me the opportunity to look behind the
Im a keen advocate for writers and the written word in faade of wealth and privilege in the City and to consider the
any form, supporting local events when able. Im a proud reasons why things go wrong.
member of the Worcester Writers Circle, a diverse group of I wrote as a teenager, but, after I started work, priorities
highly talented individuals, who have helped hone my craft. inevitably changed. Eight years ago my wife suggested that we
Im a poet who is also a writer of fantasy fiction, with go on a writing weekend and my enthusiasm for writing was
short stories appearing in publications such as The Top-hat rekindled. Since then we have
Raven and Orcs & Aliens, and Im currently editing my first attended many wonderful creative
novel. My first love has always been poetry, though, and Id writing courses and conferences that
like to think my poetry blog, Baldypoems, reflects this. taught us a great deal about the art
As a self-professed nerd (claiming to have been a geek of writing. We also belong to a writing
before it was cool to be one) I collect books, bookmarks group, Stratford Scribes. Having an
and numerous other treasures that drive my wife nuts. I informed audience for my writing and
also claim to be the luckiest man alive, proof that luck and the chance to practice my skills on a
fortune are not related (because I am skint). regular basis has been an important
Im having a super start to 2016, enjoying further element in my writing world. For the
publication in Carillon, being invited to perform at a last few years I have also been actively
poetry walk and talk for the Evesham Festival of Words involved in the Writers Summer
and getting involved with the Worcestershire Literary School at Swanwick. The opportunity
Festival. Im delighted to have been shortlisted for to mix with many writers in friendly
the Theatre Clouds Loneliness surroundings has been both helpful
Project and having a poem and inspirational. Three years ago, after thirty years in accountancy
read by actor, Ben Stott. and banking, I was fortunate enough to be able to concentrate on
My debut collection writing full time. My wife and I enrolled for an MA in creative writing
of poetry, Lacuna, will be at Oxford Brookes University. A Material Harvest was conceived as
published this summer by part of my masters degree programme.
Black Pear Press. I am most My background in business made the decision as to how
excited about the book launch, to bring the book to market an easy one. I set up a publishing
which will take place at company, Speart House Publishing. The company has published
Drummonds in Worcester my novel in ebook, paperback and hardback form. The company
on 14 August. I hope to is considering a range of other titles for publication, but is not
see you all there! open for submissions at the moment. One of the pleasures of
Website: completing A Material Harvest has been the opportunity to
https://kdavisfanclub. learn about the publishing industry. Website:

52 AUGUST 2016

p52 Subscriber news.indd 52 21/06/2016 10:41


Definitely articles
Fighting fatigue with food If it hadnt been for a friend in our writers
In 2009 I was diagnosed with ME/ circle becoming ill, I would never have thought
chronic fatigue syndrome, writes of writing an article, let alone taking photos
subscriber Amanda Staples. to go with it and submitting it to a magazine,
I had just gone fully self employed writes subscriber Wendy Turner.
as a Pilates instructor and co-owner of a She was a successful article-writer but
therapy centre, working part time as a felt she was going downhill and had lost
clinical hypnotherapist and massage motivation. She had undertaken to write an
therapist. I did not have the luxury article for Hertfordshire Countryside magazine on
of paid holidays or sick days. I was Duke Humphrey, younger brother of King Henry
terrified. I had to find a way to keep V. His remains rest in a vault in the depths of St
going against the odds. Albans Cathedral.
Cutting a long and tantrum-filled story short, I discovered that I thought of offering to help but did not want
what I ate exacerbated or helped my symptoms so I began researching to appear pushy. Finally, she simply asked me as a
nutrition, seeking advice and using myself as a guinea pig. Over the friend and of course I agreed. Would you really?
years through my work I have met many people who have fatigue- she said. Thank you, I was in such a panic.
related conditions and/or common food intolerances and I spoke to Of course I had no idea what I was taking
them about how I use my diet to manage my condition. I am living on. But I soon found out when the postman delivered a package
proof eating the way I do works. After typing up recipes so I could containing all her research papers with a cheerful thank you for
email suggestions to clients I decided to put them in a book. taking over the project.
I work part-time at the centre and teach six Pilates classes a Now it was my turn to panic! But I gave myself a good talking to.
week. I run a home, do paperwork, walk the dogs, read and write in If you are serious about writing, this is a golden opportunity. But was I
between. I have no children, but two anthropomorphised dogs and a up to it? I didnt even know what had been agreed with the editor.
husband with a childlike personality. I write because my brain gives I leafed through some back issues of the magazine to ascertain
me no option. I cannot not write. I have tried. It hunts me down. the approximate word count, the favoured style and the ratio of
I self-published Eating for Energy photos to text.
and the book went Eating
on Amazon on 14 I approached the Cathedral for permission to look round and take
April. The first boxforI had delivered sold some photos, something I had never done before.

within five days. It Energy

has been a journey Eventually I had to call my article done. Off it went with the photos

of crossroads and hurdles, but I want

This is food to get you going and keep you going; fabulous flavours,
free from refined sugar, dairy, wheat and meat.
to the editor with a note explaining what had happened. It made my day
to encourage anyone who ever feels like to receive a letter of thanks, also asking if I would like to write another
Adaptable to add chicken and fish.

quitting (and lets face it, who doesnt) Eatin

EatinggforforEnergy one. And even better was the enclosed cheque for 40.
to keep going. I class myself as a Energy Recipes free from refined sugar, dairy, wheat and meat.
Adaptable to add chicken and fish.
Since then I have become addicted to article-writing. Research
recovering fatiguer. I still have very is amazing. It leads to undreamed-of places and brings contact with
difficult days, if I can find the energy many interesting and helpful people. Over the years I have had articles
Amanda Staples

to keep going, so can you. No excuses! published in four national magazines. Topics range from walks, churches,
Website: Amanda Staples local people and events, pets and scarecrows to personal reflection,
eatingforenergy humour, travel, nature, war stories and Remembrance Day.
Article writing soon becomes an obsession of the best kind.


Dont miss your exclusive chance
Showcase your book to over 14,000 readers each month in the
to feature on our website, Writers Online Subscribers Showcase. Well give your book its own page, with blurb, cover and a direct link to your website or an online
store. And if youre a WM subscriber, the service is completely FREE.
See p81 for more details

When youre sending in submissions to appear on those pages, feel free
to send us any additional content you have available. Whether its an
interview video, book trailer, podcast, audio extract or anything else,
well give you as much exposure as we can through our digital edition
and website. As ever, send your details to AUGUST 2016 53

p52 Subscriber news.indd 53 21/06/2016 10:41


Takes two to chase a tiger A story that wouldnt go away

When I was nine my parents got me
The genesis behind Chasing a Petite typewriter, probably because
Tigers was a short story written by I was always writing stories, writes
myself some five years ago, writes subscriber Janice Nye.
subscriber Mike Philips. It rapidly became my favourite
Upon reviewing the piece I toy, one I didnt want to put down at
realised that there was more to bedtime. When it came to exams, the
be written and began to develop ones I preferred involved essays. So,
it into a book. However, after I got about five chapters into the book, I when I graduated it seemed logical that
started to literally lose the plot! I decided to shelve the project and move I should write. The only question was what.
onto something else. Whilst out one day I saw a mini van
I have a friend Danny who I have been collaborating with on various parked at the end of a lifeboat pier. The
writing projects over the years (sitcoms, comedy sketches etc). One day he image stuck in my mind, morphing to
muttered the words we should write a book together to me. I delved into someone sitting in their car beside a beach
my laptop to find the five lost chapters of Chasing Tigers and literally threw watching the sun set, trying to work out
it at him, telling him to pick the bones out of it. Danny came right back what to do next. I wrote a short story around
at me with a restructured plot, and so we began to move on with it. It has this, but it wasnt enough, the character
been a hugely enjoyable experience throughout. demanded more, nothing less than a book. That was thirty
Chasing Tigers is a tale of revenge in the name of love. Gritty at years ago, when the only thing to do with a book was to find
times, Danny and I have to admit that the character development of a traditional publisher or to spend a lot of money on vanity
the main villain Jack Holte was one of the more enjoyable parts of the publishing. So I started posting chapters to publishers and
process. I certainly consider his character as waiting. After a few attempts the book was put to one side
evil personified. Then again, if it wasnt for whilst I concentrated on short stories and a diary.
bad guys there wouldnt be any good ones! When my husband told me that he had written a book, I read
We decided to e-publish Chasing Tigers it and suggested that and that self-publishing seemed the best
ourselves on Amazon Kindle as we wanted way to go. This inspired me to return to the book I had written
to get the book to market quickly and in a all those years ago. I re-read it and started on editing and adding
cost-effective way. description, to set it in a time and place. I designed the cover and
Chasing Tigers is the first in a trilogy that once the book was the best I could make it, The Poly and Anna
Danny and I have planned. The next book is was self-published. My son helped me create a website which has
currently in the planning stages. If the process links to my book on Amazon. The character didnt want to be left
is half as much fun as second time around there so her story continues in another book.
well be more than happy. Website:

Grabbers, cannibals and coma

In 2011, I was over my dad who sadly passed away from cancer, I
the moon to win the worked on Vile City to get it as good as I could
Scottish Association because I knew something was missing to make
of Writers Pitlochry it my breakout novel.
Quaich Award for a One voice wouldnt get out of my head. He
crime novel, writes was called DC Stevie Campbell and since being
subscriber Jennifer attacked by a suspect wielding a broken bottle
Thomson. hed been in a coma. Initially he was a small one of my all-time favourite authors Shaun
The novel in character in the book. Hutson, so I couldnt be happier.
question was Vile City, featuring DI Waddell The more Stevie talked to me the more I Im currently halfway through writing
and was set in Glasgow where a man dubbed realised that itd be great if he started talking Cannibal City, book 2 in the Detective in a
the Glasgow Grabber was abducting women to his pal and colleague DI Waddell but to Coma series. Im also writing a short story
off the streets. everyone else he was still in a coma unable to featuring DI Waddell and his team. Its a great
Vile City has two parallel narratives communicate. Thatd leave Waddell to wonder way to get to know your own character and
kidnapped Shelley and Waddell, the cop wholl if he was going crazy. It also gave me the to introduce him to readers too. As the book
leave no door unrattled to find her. Detective in a Coma tagline. is set in real places in the city of Glasgow, Ive
Over the years in between other projects Im delighted to announce that Vile City been able to take photographs of the actual
and four other books being published by will be published by Caffeine Nights in 2017. places where the crimes take place.
commercial publishers and helping to nurse Its an exciting publisher and it published Website:

54 AUGUST 2016

p52 Subscriber news.indd 54 21/06/2016 10:41


Success mounts year on year

What a start to 2016! writes headstone to the civilian victims.

subscriber Lorna Windham. In March 2016, Lilly and I
My historical romantic novel The visited the Royalty Theatre in
Jacobites Daughter, the first of a trilogy Sunderland to watch a reading
set in 1745, has been published as of Rule 55, which had been
an ebook, the first in Tyne Bridge adapted for the stage.
Publishings catalogue of fiction. In a So far this year Ive completed
gripping tale full of passion, intrigue the first draft of audio drama
and adventure, heroine, Morag, To Better Times for CAP
defies her fianc, Euan, and joins (Community Arts Project)
the Jacobite baggage train to become a spy. North East and in June the Rule
I thought 2015 had been exciting as Lilly Moon had asked me 55 team delivered a presentation
to co-write a play, Rule 55, set in 1915 and based on the St Bedes at South Shields Central
Junction railway disaster in Jarrow. The play would be part of a Library. Im also co-writing two
community project at Bedes World. After recruiting a cast of over contemporary plays and editing
twenty, ranging in age from fourteen to sixty-plus, many of whom The Rebel and the Redcoat and Rebel Road, the last two novels in
had never acted before, we recorded the play and added sound my Jacobite Trilogy.
effects. The result: a wonderful experience for all involved and the Though Ive always wanted to write, its only in the last ten years
CD on sale in Newcastle Central Library. that Ive been able to concentrate on doing just that and have had
Several of the Rule 55 team were then invited to talk about the several short stories, flash fiction, poems and local history books
play at Newcastles Book Festival. The drama, broadcast on Hive published. Yes, Ive certainly caught the writing bug and my tip to
Radio in December 2015, commemorated the centenary of the everyone is, Never give up!
accident and led to the local business community dedicating a Website:

competitive price!
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Critique Half August.indd 1 20/06/2016 10:47 AUGUST 2016 55

p52 Subscriber news.indd 55 21/06/2016 10:42


Fate takes a hand Shared

in publishing knowledge
My newly published first book
After writing a variety of fiction books, Creating Your Classic Career is now
short stories, poetry and childrens available from Amazon, writes
stories over the last twenty years it Alison Spencer.
is with great pleasure that I announce You can also get it from my own
the publication of my first novel: The company, The Write Career, which is
Brindavan Chronicle: Genesis, writes a career development consultancy that
subscriber John Thompson. I run, assisting people in writing CVs/application forms, cover
This novel the first of two books letters and LinkedIn profiles, as well as giving career coaching;
has a story behind it. I started writing it either on a one-to-one basis or in a group capacity in the form
back in the nineties on an old PC, and of workshops. As well as being an avid writer, having had various
eventually printed my first draft. When articles published in magazines and winning Writing Magazines
I upgraded the computer, I decided it Ghost Story Competition in 2011, I am also a columnist in my
was time to get down to the second local newspaper, writing on career development topics.
draft, which as time progressed became It was whilst writing for the paper that I thought about
significantly different from the first. amalgamating what I wrote and turning it into a self-help guide
Finally it was completed, but I delayed for people who are either at a crossroads in their career, are just
printing it as I felt that a lot more starting out or who simply want to know how to write a perfect
tinkering was required. CV/application form or practise their interview skills.
At Christmas 2009 my wife and I took a holiday in India, I believe everyone should have a career they are passionate about
and it just so happened that the UK winter was one of the it took me long enough to find mine! At 42 years old Ive finally
hardest for years. Our water pipes burst in several places, got my career balance right; Ive got what is known as a portfolio
flooding the house, and as I discovered on our return career. I run my consultancy, am a part-time classroom assistant in
destroying my computer. my local college which I love, and do background artist work in
Fate, I decided, was against my ever finishing this novel. I local films and TV series. Im also mum to my two children, Kara
took the old first draft into the garden and burnt it. That was and Ross, aged nine and six.
that! No more writing for me! I am a great believer in shared knowledge and want to provide
Unbeknown to me, my daughter who had loyally read my insight to others on how they too can change their work life if they
book chapter by chapter as I had written the story, took the are unhappy. The book gives useful tips and
PC to a computer whizz friend of hers who retrieved all that he techniques on how to do this, along with real-
could. Apparently it had been no mean feat everything was life case studies from three completely different
jumbled and according to my daughter she spent hours going people on how their career paths took an entirely
through the manuscript rearranging it back into order. new direction to what they had planned.
I came down one morning to find a hard copy of my novel I am confident this book will provide
with a note on it saying: Please do not burn me again, I am a you with help to look at your career options
great story and I WILL be published. objectively and hopefully find a new path to
In June 2015 my book was published. happiness in the workplace.
Website: Website:

The gang show

From a start of ten-minute plays via longer seemingly unwanted. From these toys the gang
scripts, short stories and a longer novel my new gradually formed. The link to the trains started
book for children emerged, writes subscriber when my partner opened Wroxham Miniature
Sarah Booker. Worlds in 2014 in Wroxham, Norfolk. With
The Wroxton Station Gang is a collection some of the largest train layouts in the country
of nine short stories about a gang of toys lost and positioned opposite Wroxham & Hoveton
many years ago on a train trip. They have been station (hence the shortening to Wroxton) the version is available on Amazon.
found in lost property and take pride of place on gangs adventures were devised. I am currently visiting local schools with
Wroxton Station, helping out when no one is I self-published this book in February 2016 the toys and reading some of stories to children
looking, and trying to avoid the grumpy station and was lucky to find a very talented illustrator, which is very rewarding
cat. Each story has the minor peril element but Liz Monahan, at my place of work. The gang I have previously self-published two short
everything is always resolved in the end. have their own website and have a Facebook stories and a novel on but this
The book started life with those toys left page. As well as Wroxham Miniature Worlds the is my first foray into a bigger print run.
behind after Christmas, on clearance and books can be ordered via the website or a Kindle Website:

56 AUGUST 2016

p52 Subscriber news.indd 56 21/06/2016 10:42

SKYROS Adventure Creativity Joy


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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,

SPOTLIGHT ON Writing in the sun

LiterEight I started the Lanzarote Creative

LiterEight is a group (as you can probably guess) of eight Writing Group in 2005, in a
writers, writes Fiona Atchison. bar in Puerto del Carmen,
We are as they say, ladies of a certain age who initially writes Sue Almond.
met through Ayr Writers Club and are all award-winning Finding premises was difficult.
and published authors in a variety of genres, but it wasnt There are no little rooms above
until the lure of e-publishing that we formed our offshoot shops. The library we approached seemed amazed at our idea.
group. Founder member Helena Sheridan arranged for One of the sociodads (social clubs) was interested but sent us
novelist and playwright Catherine Czerkowska, an already off to the local Town Hall; Spain is famous for its red tape and
accomplished online self-publisher, to run an informal we were refused permission!
workshop back in 2012. So began the first of what are, to Undaunted we found a bar and were delighted when six people
date, three short story and poetry anthologies for adults: A turned up to the first meeting. I have lost count of the members who
Literary Confection, Dark Twists and New Horizons. have come and gone over the years but two original members are still
We were fortunate to have several very useful skill sets with us. Some of our members are swallows. They spend part of
already within our ranks. Maggie Bolton is an experienced the year here and then disappear for months back to the UK. Some
artist and illustrator, Catherine Lang, who previously worked have joined us just to give their brains a bit of exercise, and for the
in publishing, makes the perfect editor, and we have used social aspect. One or two are serious wannabe writers and some have
two of her husband Ronalds photographs as book covers. seen their name in print for the first time since joining the group. We
Janice Johnston uses her accountancy skills on the business have had German, Canarian and Dutch members as well as British
side and my husband John created our LiterEight website. and firm friendships have been made along the way. Weve had a few
Fiona McFadzean, Greta Yorke, Lesley Deschner and myself different venues too but we currently meet in Dickens Bar (a great
chip in with proofreading and other publishing tasks. Helena name for a writers group) in Costa Teguise.
Sheridan uses her indomitable networking and promotional We have had visiting speakers to share their experience and advice,
skills to good advantage, which recently culminated in our poetry evenings and whole-day workshops. Last year we had a great
new childrens story book, published by Alfie Dog Fiction. party to celebrate ten years of creative writing in the sun.
As only six of us decided to take part in this new book, we Somehow I have always managed to find ideas for activities for
invited a guest author, Pam Ramage to contribute. The result, us to do and I enjoy it as much as ever. Usually I devise a writing
Stomping Good Stories for Children, is a collection for children exercise. After doing the writing task we share and discuss the
ages 5-8, beautifully illustrated by Maggie Bolton. outcomes. I encourage everyone to submit stories and poems and
We have been interviewed by My Weekly magazine, appeared enter writing competitions, with some success.
in the Kilmarnock Standard, Ayr Advertiser, the WORD on the If you are on holiday in Lanzarote and you would like to join us
streets and also in Writing Magazines Writers Round-up (in for a session or two you would be most welcome. The atmosphere is
2013). We also enjoy performing readings from our books at friendly and informal and there is always the chance of a great cup of
Womens Guilds, library author events and schools etc. coffee or even a nice glass of local wine.
Website: Website:

58 AUGUST 2016

p58-59 Circles/Roundup.indd 58 21/06/2016 10:17


All ears
Manage dominant personalities and shrinking violets to ensure
your writing group runs fairly, says Julie Phillips

n a room full of people it can be so feel vary of contributing again. It may also line or find another group. This is important
difficult to get your voice heard. If your be that some members prefer just to listen for the unity and cohesion of the group.
writing group meetings are busy or even and take it all in. Allowing everyone the same amount of time
if youre a small group it can be hard to speak gives the group a greater variety of
to get your point of view across. It only takes Break into smaller groups insights and experiences too, instead of one
one member to dominate proceedings and Once you find out why some members arent or two dominating the conversation. This
other members can feel as though they and keen to take part in group discussions you can leads to a greater pool of ideas and creativity.
their opinions are being side-lined. But should take steps to make the environment better for
it be the case that he/she who shouts loudest them so they feel comfortable to speak. If the Listening exercises
gets heard? Do you worry that some of your size of the group is the problem twenty or As the objective of the exercise is to encourage
less vocal or less confident group members more voices trying to be heard can be quite greater listening, activities that help members
sometimes get left behind in the wake of intimidating to some people breaking the to hone their listening skills are helpful. You
more expressive members enthusiasm? Maybe large group into smaller sub-groups for some might like, at the beginning of the meeting,
youre a member of a writing discussions and activities might help. People to try playing a few minutes of dialogue or
group where this happens on may well feel more able to contribute instructions, even a description of something
a regular basis and would in a smaller group. or somewhere. Members are not allowed to
like to know how to
break the cycle?


Writers who listen to
Limit speaking time
If there is a particularly
vocal member of the
take notes but must then write down what
they remember about what was played earlier
at the end of the meeting.
Other activities include members partnering
approaches group who doesnt tend up with members they dont know particularly
Writing groups
what is going on around to take any prisoners in well and each taking it in turns to tell them
have to operate them often write better, group discussions and about themselves. The group then come back
within a two- more informed stories. monopolises the time, it together and each person tells the group
way process. The might be worth imposing about what their partner said to them. Not
management or a general rule that members only does this improve listening skills, it gives
committee can only are only permitted to speak for members the chance to talk to each other and
do so much to make a specified number of minutes and then hold the floor to feedback to the group
the group as interesting and that it must be on the topic in hand which helps with self-confidence and getting
inspirational for their members as their no straying. This will make it clear to the to know each other better.
members allow. If you, as a member, often group that everyone has equal chance to speak
feel unable to contribute to group discussions and equal value is placed on their opinions. Everybody wins
you could sit down and write what you feel The above solution requires a strong There is plenty to be done to help people
is stopping you. There are many reasons why chairperson with clear objectives. If your find their voice within the group but
members feel uneasy with sharing their views chair isnt robust and able to stand up to being willing and able to take a step back
within a group setting. Shyness is probably those who might try and rebel against the and instead of speaking, listening to those
one of the main ones, particularly if they are imposed time limit then this strategy might group members who dont usually have a
new to the group. Another reason might be not work. There is also safety in numbers. If lot to say, is as important for the individual
that they feel intimidated by other members. the chairperson appears to be struggling to group members as it is for the group as a
Perhaps they perceive that other members keep control then the committee should be whole. Writers who listen to what is going
have more knowledge and experience than prepared to step in. If the rule is explained on around them often write better, more
them or maybe they have spoken out before fully, most people will be happy to oblige. informed stories so practising that skill has
and been shot down by another member and Those who dont will just have to toe the benefits all round. AUGUST 2016 59

p58-59 Circles/Roundup.indd 59 21/06/2016 10:17

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60 AUGUST 2016

p060_wmagaug16.indd 60 15/06/2016 15:36

I N ! 250


Short Story Competition
Get your character into or out of
a sticky situation or both for this months
subscriber-only competition. Take the brief
literally or figuratively, just make sure that
somebodys in a bind.

Your word limit is the usual 1,500-1,700

words and the closing date is 14 September.

The winner will receive 100 and publication

in Writing Magazine, with 25 and
publication on
for the runner-up.

See p107 for entry details, full rules and entry forms

With its closing date of 15 August,
theres still time to enter last months
competition for stories involving an
element of travel. Length and prize
details are as above.
See p107 for more details

p61 subs comps.indd 61 23/06/2016 09:53

Waiting for Gertie Dialogue-on
short sto ly

by Eileen OReilly

Eileen OReilly has just completed the second
swear that walk from the she never turned up when she year of a three-year degree in English and
bus stop gets longer each said she would. creative writing. She began her studies at
time we come here. Sure, werent we always waiting Wrexham Glyndwr University in September
My feet hurt. for her? 2014, exactly forty years after leaving school
with a handful of O-levels; proving that its never
Well sit down on this bench and And wasnt she always late?
too late to take on a new challenge. Waiting for
take your shoes off for a while. Weve She was. Gertie is her first competition win.
plenty of time. I remember her mother saying
I only wear them for funerals she was born three days late.
these days. There you are then. Shush. You dont want them my mobile phone.
Not many weddings at our age. Where? to hear. So we really are early?
I cant think of the last wedding What? Who? And Gerties not late?
I went to. Where am I? Those people who just got off Yes, and no.
Wasnt it your Sandras girl? Here. Waiting for Gertie. the bus. Theyre nearly here. Well wed better be going. Put
Melody? No. You said There you are Hello. Are you here for the your shoes back on. We should
Melanie. Ooh, thats better. then, when I said her mother had funeral too? make the next bus if we leave now.
Do you want a sweet? Ive got some said she was three days late. We are. Shes late though. What about Gertie?
in my bag. Oh, I see. I meant she obviously She? Shes not coming.
What are they? started off as she intended to go on. Gertie. Shes always late. Not coming?
Toffees, I think. Go on with what? Whos Gertie? Not today. We were too early.
You know I cant have toffees. Being late. She started off being Its her funeral. Are you sure. You know she was
Not since that time I nearly late and then she made a habit of it. Here? Now? I dont think so. always late.
swallowed my filling. She got set in her ways. It is so. Not this time.
Ill check. Well we all did, in those days. You are mistaken. This funeral Should we wait?
Its all right. Theyll be here soon The good old days. is certainly not for someone No. Shes not coming today.
and then we can go in. Look someones coming. called Bertie. What shall we do then?
Ive found a barley-sugar. You Two someones. Gertie. I said Gertie. Well have to come back
can pick the fluff off; its only bits of Is it her? Bertie. Gertie. Its all the same to tomorrow.
tissue from the bottom of my bag. Dont be silly. Theyve just got me. But its not her funeral. Come back tomorrow?
I think Ill give it a miss. off the bus. She wont be arriving It is so. Eleven oclock. Thursday. What for?
Therell be hymns at the service. by bus. And here we are, waiting. For the funeral.
You cant sing hymns with a We could have caught that bus, And shes late. Ah so. Do you want a sweet? Ive
mouth full of barley-sugar, with instead of the early one. You are early. got some toffees in here somewhere?
or without the fluff. But then you wouldnt have had We were always early. I told you I cant eat toffees.
Please yourself. Ill put it back, time to sit and take your shoes off. And she was always late. Ill see what else Ive got. There
in case you want it later; after all I only wear them at funerals now. You are both too early. might be something in the bottom
that singing. You said. Its nearly eleven. Were not of my bag. Im sure I remember
Shes late. What? early now. seeing a barley-sugar.
Were early. You already said you only wear You are. Keep it for tomorrow.
Are you sure it was today? those shoes for funerals. I tell you we are not. Whats happening tomorrow?
What? I used to wear them for weddings You. Are. Too. Early. Its Gerties funeral.
Are you sure it was today? too. And the odd christening. Prove it. Is it? I bet you anything shell
Was what today? All your familys christenings I bet she cant. be late.
The funeral. were odd. I know she cant. She was always late.
What funeral? What do you mean odd? She can you know. Or we were early.
The one were waiting for. Unusual. What do you mean? Sometimes she wouldnt even
Of course Im sure. What In what way? Shes right. Shes always right. bother turning up.
day is it? Well theres not many who can Well shes not right today. And wed be waiting.
Thursday. say theyve been to a Hells Thursday. Eleven oclock. Always waiting.
Ah, thats the right day all right. Angels christening. Im sorry but she is right. You see, My feet hurt.
Shes late. They werent Hells Angels. today isnt Thursday. Its Wednesday. Its those shoes.
I told you were early. Were They were friends from Denzils Wednesday? Will you wait while I take them
always early when we get that bus. vintage motorbike club. He works Are you sure? off for a while?
Even when we were young, in finance. Yes. See its got the date on You can take them off when we

62 AUGUST 2016

p62 comp winner.indd 62 21/06/2016 10:20


get on the bus. Ah right. Well your feet havent shrunk. go up a size. She wore one of those
I could murder a nice cup of If were early, I can take them off I used to have lovely feet. insoles in the other shoe.
tea. Would there have been tea? while were waiting. Delicate. But how did you get them?
After the funeral? You can. We all used to have lovely feet. After we had tea yesterday, I
Probably. Well have time. Ill bring Whatever happened to them? called in at the chapel of rest on
And sandwiches? I like a ham some sweets. Life happened I expect. my way home.
sandwich. Nothing fancy. None of Youve got some in your bag. And shoes. Shoes happened. Whatever for?
your quiches or mini sausage rolls. So I have. Do you want one? A lot of shoes in your case. Just to see her. Thats all. I didnt
Just a plain ham sandwich. Save them for tomorrow. True. Ive had some gorgeous mean to do anything.
I cant eat quiche or sausage I bet shes late. shoes over the years. What have you done?
rolls. The pastry gets stuck when I expect she will be. She You always went for style Nothing that matters to
I swallow. always was. over comfort. anyone else.
And fruit cake. You cant beat a Didnt we always say shed be late I did. And you always went Tell me.
nice slice of fruit cake. for her own funeral? for comfort. The undertaker took me into the
Well well find out tomorrow. We did. Well soon see if we were Which is probably why my feet chapel of rest, and there she was,
After the funeral. right. Tomorrow. dont hurt and yours do. just lying there. She looked ever so
What funeral? You still havent guessed why smart. She was wearing the dress she
Gerties funeral. Thursday at *** theyre not hurting today though. had for her nephews graduation.
eleven oclock. I give up. It suited her.
Were late. Thats the first time Ive known the Sure you wont have a guess? Still does. And her best shoes
What do you mean were late? bus to be late. Im sure. We havent got time were just standing there, on a table
Were not late; were too early. See, thats why I always insist we for guessing. Theyre going to be at the side.
Its Thursday today. catch the early bus. Then it doesnt here soon. You didnt?
Its Wednesday. matter if hes late. These arent my shoes. I did. The undertaker had to Tina Ja
Says who? Because well still be early? What do you mean theyre not go out and take a phone call. I
That woman. Exactly. Whereas if wed waited your shoes? could hear him on the phone
Which woman? for the later bus and hed been What I said. and it sounded like he would be
The one who got off the bus running late too Well whose are they. sometime, so I just did it. Took
with that other woman. Wed have been too late. Gerties. mine off and swapped them, then
I remember now. We would. How can they be Gerties? I left before he came back.
Good. Now lets hurry to catch And Ive still got time for a little You remember we always took And they dont hurt your feet?
the bus and Ill make you a cup of sit down. the same size in shoes? Perfect fit, and years of wear
tea when we get home. You have. But maybe not to take You used to borrow from left in them too.
Will we call and see Gertie? your shoes off this time. each other. Sure and she wouldnt have
No. Well see her tomorrow. I dont need to take them off. We did. Thats why you minded anyway. Probably
If she turns up. But you always have to take them thought I owned more shoes than would have given them to you
I dont think shell have any off. Its become a ritual. By the time I actually did. if youd asked.
choice about it. weve walked from the bus stop, you Because some of them were hers? I expect so.
Why not? have to take your shoes off because Correct. Looks like theyre here.
Its her funeral. your feet are hurting. But if you were the same size, Right on time.
Well have to get there early. Well theyre not today. how can you wear her shoes First time ever.
We will. Why not? Whats so different without your feet hurting? Its a miracle,
Ill wear those shoes. about today? Remember she had that fall and so it is.
Which ones? Guess. broke her ankle? Well when the
The ones I always wear What do you mean guess? swelling went down, one foot was
for funerals. Guess. bigger than the other and she had to

EDITORS COMMENTS carefully all too many entries were RUNNER-UP AND SHORTLISTED
The challenge in this months rejected for unnatural expository dialogue Runner-up in the Dialogue-only Short
short story competition allowed but she pulls a neat trick. Her old dears Story Competition, whose story is
no authorial intrusion whatsoever. Only repeat themselves, lose their conversation published on, was
dialogue was permitted, and its a restriction thread and need to explain things to each Carol Homer, Farnborough, Hampshire.
that Eileen OReilly wholeheartedly other, and the reader, conveying their Also shortlisted were: Dianne Bown-
embraces here, painting a warm portrait characters and plot under the guise of an Wilson, Drewsteignton, Exeter; Sarah
of two doddering senior citizens in their apparently natural conversational flow. Franlin, Redditch, Worcestershire; Sarah
circuitous discussion of the absent Gertie, She also has a natural ear for dialogue, Harbour, Ashbourne, Derbyshire; Gill
like Samuel Beckett reimagined by Alan capturing the cadences and mannerisms Hoare, Tonbridge, Kent; Anne Rogers,
Bennett. Without names or scene-setting, of a conversation we could easily be Banff, Aberdeenshire; Mary Waters,
Eileen has to fill in the readers blanks eavesdropping on ourselves. Calne, Wiltshire. AUGUST 2016 63

p62 comp winner.indd 63 21/06/2016 10:20

Poetr y
getting away
1st prize Judge Meg Marsden highlights the winning entries from
our subscriber-only Holiday Poetry Competition

We went to see the Book of Kells veryone loves a holiday those who have not come across this
but it was closed and the Guinness dont they? Or do they? word, the dictionary definition is a
and the craic had left us lightheaded. It would seem not mythical creature that resembles a seal
judging from the many in the water but assumes human form
All night in a grubby B&B in Lower Gardiner St, and varied submissions on land. The word has Celtic origins
we heard the plaints of the gulls to the subscriber-only holiday poetry and having just read a wonderful book
from the black Liffey competition. It is so easy for us all set on the Orkneys I know that this is
insistently cry vengeance and old wrongs. to make assumptions based on our their word for seal.
own feelings and experiences. It never Recognisable almost instantly
We put our fingers in the bullet holes in the GPO. ceases to fascinate how very different upon reading this poem, what
We looked at the brass bosomed tart and her barrow we all are. makes it an enduring work is the
of brass cockles and mussels, alive alive o; Amongst the entries were those readers desire to revisit the poem,
Oscar resplendent in granite and green jade, who detested the very idea of moving and, because of its subject matter,
lounging in Merrion St away from the security of their to maybe visit the location. Having
and black James, jaw jutting. everyday working pattern. Many been to Dublin, upon reading Selkie
wrote of glorious childhood trips there was a yearning to get back
To Howth then. Midsummer to the seaside; some wrote sadly of there very soon and explore the
in the driving rain. leave when in the forces and then places so vividly written about.
From the jogging train window I searched in vain being parted from a loved one as Selkie has pretty much everything
for the bird girl war intervened. And Venice featured one could want from a poem and its
bosom soft and slight fondly in several submissions. very much a poets poem. There is
as the breast of some dark-plumaged dove. It was disappointing that a musicality and song within its content
amid a waste of wild air and brackish waters. number had to be put aside as their and form and the reader is taken
memories, though often interesting on an educational but entertaining
But the smoky rain obscured the sea in content, became an unformed tour of Dublin and its surrounding
and there was only and everywhere seawrack narrative more prose than poetry. areas. We are told at the outset that
and the scream of gulls. The other problem encountered the Book of Kells at Trinity College
was that of an oh-so-easy trap too is closed but nothing daunted as the
On the shivering pier, damp dispirited children; many adjectives. I mention this as its local Guinness brewery had created
moored fishing boats, butting and fretting in the tide. something that can easily be remedied a happiness and light-headedness
in any future poetry. It is not difficult otherwise known in Ireland as that
And there - when enthusiastic about a topic to great word, craic.
an old man seal upright in the swell, gush and spoil what could have been a As we read on we are given a very
skin atwitch with lice. super piece kill your darlings. good example of a poem showing
Joanna Fahey of Greater Auckland, rather than telling; we see the black
Huge eyes looked at me and I at him. New Zealand, has come first with her Liffey, the bullet holes from the 1916
And he knew all about it: poem Selkie, Dublin July 2013. For Easter Uprising, Molly Malone, Oscar
the brawling, keening days,
the fields of Athenry,
the priests and the prayers, Shortlisted: Shirley Anne Cook, Denham, Bucks; Elizabeth De Winter,
the tears, the fears. Wilsford, Lincs; Richard Hough, Ringwood, Hampshire; Eunice Lorrimer-
The whisky in the jar. Roberts, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk; Sarah Mitchell, Bournemouth,
Drinking and dispossession, Dorset; Lucy Nankivell, Ferndown, Dorset; Betty Norton, Bamber
and all that stuff. Bridge, Lancashire; Joyce Reed, Marple, Stockport; Christine Savage, Ely,
Cambridgeshire; Julie Shackman, Milngavie, East Dunbartonshire.
I waved.
And he waved back, a leathery flipper
breaking the brackish swell.
64 AUGUST 2016

p64 Poetry winner.indd 64 21/06/2016 10:20


Wilde and James Joyce in the writers the insects and inclement weather. 2nd prize
wonderful third stanza. Its either cruises with Jacuzzis or
As we journey on, towards the end camping with midges. Winner
is the short verse And there - / an old But although this is a young girl THE HOLIDAY SHOW,
man seal upright in the swell, / skin we can tell from her attitude that BY HEATHER COOK
atwitch with lice. Now there are not she feels as though her life is over
many insects in the ocean but seal do and that there is no more fun to be The sad, pale girl on the cruise liner stall
carry a certain complex lice and the had such as in Tunisia and that she has been smiling all day at nothing at all.
words used here do give us a perfect no longer feels attractive or that life Surrounded by posters of blue seas and skies,
picture of the seal alert and vital. This holds any amusement for her. she smiles but the smile never reaches her eyes.
was so necessary to get across to us The apparent simplicity of the Young couples entwined ask questions and gather
through the seal its knowingness of work aids its heart-breaking power. brochures and pens, then say that theyd rather
all that previous history the famine The device used of the almost go camping in Scotland and suffer the weather,
sung about in the ballad Fields of identical first two and last two lines the midges, the bogs, the bees in the heather.
Athenry, religion and all that stuff. gives not only a terrific poignancy The old ones have money, but are very choosy,
Yes, so very good economic but but also a claustrophobic and demanding a cabin with fridge and Jacuzzi.
containing so much. somewhat trapped feeling for this
Heather Cook of Woking, Surrey, is sad, pale girl on the cruise liner stall. She looks at the man on the wine tasting stand,
our runner-up with The Holiday Show. I for one feel drawn to give her a relaxed and quite attractively tanned,
There are two verses in aabb rhyming big hug as she makes her way home and thinks of those nights she spent in Tunisia
pattern with ten lines to each and this to what the reader would imagine when life was amusing and she felt much prettier.
poem encapsulates the emptiness felt to be her lonely, empty flat. As the crowd melts away, she stretches and yawns,
by The sad, pale girl on the cruise liner As is so very often the case, then packs up the brochures, the books and the forms.
stall; she is in the business of attempting this was a difficult one to judge Her muscles are aching from standing all day,
to sell posh cruiser holidays and her as there was really some super listening to people with so much to say
feelings are portrayed and magnified by poetry submitted and great praise to the sad, pale girl on the cruise liner stall,
the behaviour of the senior, moneyed goes not only to the two writers who has smiled all day long at nothing at all.
folk and the younger couples who are above but also to those worthy
quite happy to go camping and suffer shortlisted winners.
0191 204 8860

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or, AUGUST 2016 65

Writer's Retreat Normandy.indd 1 12/05/2016 10:02

p64 Poetry winner.indd 65 21/06/2016 10:20

e to
Tim write
Alison Chisholm explores a subscribers poem that
celebrates discovering the creative process

or each of us there is a time Author John Hill of Durham versions have arisen, all conveying the
of discovery when we realise mentions that he is enjoying same core message but using different
that writing is the path to spending his retirement writing wording to communicate it. Its always
follow. It may be a lightbulb poetry, fiction and non-fiction, and good to see a writers openness to
moment, a flash of inspiration that that he actually came to writing re-drafting an assurance that the
reveals the truth in an instant. It may later on in life, following illness poet can see beyond the joy of the
be a growing realisation. It may be a and eyesight problems. He gets first version and accept that there is
decision to try something new, with around the latter with the help of a more work to be done. In fact, the
the accompanying revelation that the large-screen computer and an iPad, most valuable tool in the poets kit
new activity should be writing. demonstrating that the determined is the revision that can be repeated
The poem we are looking at this writer will always find a way. It was time and time again until every detail
month acknowledges the time in the gift of a book by Alan Bennett of the piece is working as well as it
his life when its author started to Perfect your that sparked the interest in possibly can. By alternating periods
write, and also looks at the time poetry with a WM writing, and John Hill admits to of working on the poem and periods
of day when the writing stimulus Creative Writing writing something every day. of rest in between the revision
begins. On another level, as the course. This regular approach, either exercises, the poet has the best chance
title hints, this is a celebration of daily or at least frequently, keeps of creating an amazing piece.
grasping the perfect moment and the writing muscle supple and is Although Time to Create has had
taking possession of it. recommended by many professional rewrites, the current version would
writers. Whether it involves adding still benefit from some further
TIME TO CREATE material to a manuscript, re-drafting attention. While the message is clear
and revision, researching, note-making and follows a logical path, the use
Abstracted nights touched with words or even just concentrating the mind on of language could be enhanced with
An unqualified mind thats full of life writing activities, little and often is an more consideration for the sentence
Not too sure if theyre nouns or verbs approach that works for many of us. structuring. The grammar of poetry
Sensitive thoughts for a sleeping wife. Time to Create starts with an can take occasional leaps denied to
explanation of the urge to write, looks the grammar of prose, but some
My priceless time unreserved of sleep back with regret over a frustrated past conventions produce more vibrant and
In surreal trances that could never last and resolves to move forward and immediate communication.
Allow careless moments time to weep learn more of the craft. It continues In almost every case, the inclusion
In guilty thoughts of a frustrated past. with the assertion that visual of a subject and main verb animates a
impairment should be no barrier to sentence, and punctuation helps with
The past has gone, I welcome the now moving onward, and ends with a look the phrasing. The first stanza illustrates
An adventurous mind deserves no less at how, when day matters intervene, this. If the simple device I know were
A branch of pros with unbending brow there is always the night to come with added at the beginning, a much livelier
The chance to learn, I must now caress. its opportunity to fill the blank page line would appear, while a comma
or work on the written one. at the end of the opening line would
Creating poetry with hopeful ambition All this indicates a clearly planned allow the same subject/main verb
Macular degeneration no more a plight route through the subject matter, combination to spark the next image
In this perfect place there is only vision a design for the way in which the too. The sense of the stanza suggests
Im on my own stage of Northern light. poem will convey material from the a full stop at the end of the third line,
heart of the poet via the written before a change in mood for the fourth.
Unpopular rhyme bring forth the dawn word into the mind of the reader. Again, a subject and main verb are
The reality of life opens to stir this day This poem is a work in progress. needed. Something like I try not to
An awakened mind ideas alone forlorn In e-correspondence regarding its disturb a sleeping wife would work.
I welcome the night to rewrite my play. inclusion on this page, three different Applying the same technique to

66 AUGUST 2016

p66 poetry workshop.indd 66 23/06/2016 09:56


the other stanzas would both enliven quatrain, alongside the single use of An extra bonus for the reader of
them and make them easier for the slant rhyme in words / verbs. There is poetry is the little hoard of phrases
reader to absorb. If the grammar and only one moment when the rhyming that have a powerful effect and linger
punctuation of the sentences are in might be adjusted advantageously, in the memory. Time to Create gives
place, they are scarcely noticeable to the and that is at the end of the third Abstract nights, surreal trances,
reader, but they do have the effect of stanza, where an inversion has hopeful ambition, and my own
making the reading more fluent. You been included a device that was stage of Northern light.

can concentrate on the message acceptable historically, but is Poetry is the one branch of
being conveyed instead of trying now rather archaic. The line writing in which every participant
to work out the mechanics Its always good to should read I must now is involved purely for the love of it.
of the phrasing. So helpful caress the chance to learn to Very few people make a living from
structuring helps to get your
see a writers openness follow normal syntax, but it, and only a deranged optimist
message across and supports to re-drafting an of course this would skew would set out to do so. John Hill
the words you have selected. assurance that the poet the rhyme pattern. adds this comment to the end of his
When working on the can accept that there There is some lovely message: this is all new to me, and
grammar, its always worth internal slant rhyming I am loving it all. No matter how
checking for any possible
is more work through the poem as well, new or experienced we are in the
cuts you can make. Pruning to be done. with the assonance of priceless world of poetry, that loving it all is
individual words or phrases the / time and branch / chance, the perfect reaction. To read, write,
poem can live without strengthens the repetition of past / past and alliteration and above all to love poetry makes
piece as a whole, and trims and tidies. of perfect / place as well as the full for true contentment.
The poet exhibits a flair for accurate internal rhyme of night / rewrite. These
rhyming, with perfect full rhymes add to the overall poetic feel of the If you would like Alison to consider
fixed at the ends of the first and third piece, and complement the line-end workshopping your poetry, please email:
and the second and fourth lines of each full rhymes.

Poetry in practice
Advice on toying with line length from poet Doris Corti

he lines in a poem are way you will shape your poems as arriving for you by the use of a rhyme?
building blocks. well as showing readers how a poem You can place this rhyme within lines
Lines written in prose depend should be read. How you break lines rather than on line endings to avoid
on font and paper size as well as margins. in a poem can imbue the contents creating a block pattern. There is a
In poetry the length of lines and line with an intensity that would not be pattern which is known as the three-step
breaks will affect a readers experience of the same if it was written in a solid arrangement. This is where the first line
any poem. In traditional forms the length block. For instance: is written straight across the page, the
of each line is to some extent controlled second line indented to almost middle
by the metre used and the rhyme pattern. I heard the sound of water running over pebbles of first line and the third line is indented
In other styles, where the poet has more like a muttered echo. I listened, waiting halfway under the second line. In
freedom over lines and line endings, care and seemed to hear the invocation of some rhythm. contemporary poetry this form is often
should be taken as to how you use them. extended and written in more lines.
Short lines can create a rapid pace and If the lineation of these lines is This means that you might write
emphasise the statement-like quality in changed, the imagery and intensity of three lines as the set arrangement then
some poems. The way you break a line the theme will be highlighted: followed by a fourth and longer line.
can signal a change of movement or
I heard the sound of water
highlight a certain part of the poem, as in Exercise
running over pebbles, like a muttered echo.
the following example.
I listened, waiting l W
 rite fourteen lines in one
The white shore curves and seemed to hear block on the theme of a walk
gleaming the invocation of some rhythm.
under the harsh sun 2 Divide these lines into stanzas
Shape your poems by making lines thin
Here the poet is enhancing the image. or wide whichever relates best to the 3C
 hange the lines making them
In free verse, lines can be irregular. This subject matter. Perhaps a new poem is irregular AUGUST 2016 67

p66 poetry workshop.indd 67 21/06/2016 10:17


Poetry from A to Z
Poet Alison Chisholm guides you through the language of poetry

In IRONY, words are used to convey an Any number of these stanzas may be REINDEER KENNING
opposite meaning from the literal one, used to create a poem.
such as lovely weather! when its pouring carrot cruncher
with rain. EXERCISE: Using Italian envelope sweet hay muncher
quatrains, write a poem that either narrates antler wearer
IRREGULAR METRE occurs when some aspect of a traditional story or tells a Santa bearer
the expected metrical pattern in a line of new one.
swoop and soarer
poetry has been changed, usually with the
sky explorer
purpose of breaking up the regular beat JAPANESE FORMS of poetry are usually
so that it does not become monotonous. based on a syllable count. Patterns such red-nosed racer
The two most common variants that adjust as the haiku and senryu, tanka and the moonbeam chaser
the metre of blank verse, the unrhymed collaborative renga, as well as the extended sleighbell ringer
iambic pentameters used in so much of nagauta, do not have a rhyming or big sack bringer
English poetry such as Shakespeares metrical requirement, but work around roof tile clatterer
plays, Miltons Paradise Lost and Tennysons counts of five or seven syllables to the line. stardust scatterer
Ulysses are feminine endings and initial
trochaic substitution. JAZZ POETRY demonstrates facets of
This example of a line of pure iambic jazz music, featuring improvisation and EXERCISE: Try writing a kenning in
pentameter demonstrates the five feet, each syncopated rhythms. Jazz music itself is a rhyming couplets, using this example
foot consisting of an unstressed followed by a recurring subject. The genre developed in the as a template.
stressed syllable: 1920s and was adopted by the Beat poets of
You followed where my footsteps went before. the 1950s, who often performed it against a Japanese syllabic poems, both in the
With a feminine ending, an additional background of piano or drum rhythms. original and in Western versions,
unstressed syllable is added at the end of usually feature the KIGO, a word that
the line: A JINGLE is a little verse or chant, implies a particular season, and may
You followed where my footsteps went spoken or sung, essentially memorable, even be as specific as indicating early,
beforehand and therefore used a lot in advertising. mid or late season. They relate to natural
Initial trochaic substitution twists the stress Dating back to the start of commercial phenomena, human activities and
pattern of the lines opening foot, so that radio in America in the 1920s, it became special occasions. The words may have
we have a trochee stressed followed by an an easy way to fix a slogan in the public an obvious implication, such as blossom
unstressed syllable and then revert in the consciousness. Examples include the (indicating spring) or midsummer,
next foot to the standard iambic pattern: vintage rhymed Youll wonder where the or something a little more obscure,
Following where my footsteps went before. yellow went / When you brush your teeth like jacaranda (a tree that flowers in
with Pepsodent, the prose Go to work springtime), surfing (a summer activity)
ITALIAN ENVELOPE QUATRAINS on an egg and the taut compression of or Halloween (autumn).
are four-line stanzas in iambic pentameter, poetry techniques that makes up Beanz
where two rhyming lines are enfolded in the meanz Heinz. EXERCISE: Make a list of the seasons,
envelope of two lines with a different rhyme. including the three time divisions to
The KENNING is a Norse/Icelandic give twelve distinct periods of the year.
A fairy needs big magic to exchange verse form, its name deriving from For each, find a non-living natural
a pumpkin for a carriage, six white mice
the old Norse verb kenna meaning to state, such as weather conditions, an
for horses; must pass on the right advice
know. Although there were complicated appropriate animal and plant reference,
for when to leave a ball, and then arrange
rules regarding the formation of some human facet and a special occasion
that nobody in town should have the feet early kennings, the term has come to reference. The results should be a lively
to fit inside glass slippers but one girl. mean simply a poem that describes hoard on which you can draw to provide
No wonder that her mind is in a whirl, something without actually naming it, as seasonal background, as well as material
her wand arm aches, her spells are incomplete. demonstrated in this example. for your syllabic poetry.

68 AUGUST 2016

p68 Poetry know-how/alphabet.indd 68 21/06/2016 10:15


Share the
love Improve your chances in our popular annual love poetry competition
with advice from adjudicator Alison Chisholm

he word love is bandied three different approaches to see which originality is to confirm whether any
about all over the place. works best for you. If you are not drawn phrases might have been penned
We love a parent, child or to one route immediately, leave your before by using the internet. Put the
partner, but we also love preliminary notes on one side, preferably words into a search engine and most
burgers, films, sunshine and football. for a few days. When you come back to importantly put the double quotation
The next Writing Magazine poetry them, there is usually a preferred path marks symbol before and after the
competition gives you the opportunity beckoning to you, and helping you to phrase. If that complete phrase has
to share the love by writing about it. fix on the best choice of poem. already appeared in print, the search
For the purposes of this competition This is the time to let yourself go with engine will seek it out. As an example,
the object of the love can be anyone or the poems first draft. Let all the words if you put my love is like into Google,
anything. The one area of subject matter tumble onto the page. Because you have you get 488,000 results in under two
that might not be too successful is to already been thinking about your subject seconds, including numerous pop songs,
take an overview of the general theme of and making initial notes, this part of the the Burns poem and the Shakespeare
love. The most powerful poems tend to process may be easier than you expect. sonnet. If you had thought the phrase
be those with close focus, giving you the While you are spilling out all your might be a good addition to your poem,
opportunity to write in clear, concrete thoughts, watch for any emerging pattern, such a result would give you a clear
terms rather than the abstractions in terms of the phrasing, length of the indicator of its originality, or lack of it.
resulting from the overview. treatment, your urge to use or avoid While your subject and approach
When you have decided on the rhyme, or a natural inclination for the need to be handled with flair and
subject matter you wish to cover, work to divide itself into lines and stanzas. freshness, dont forget that the most
consider your subject from every At the same time, bear in mind that fascinating theme on earth will fall flat if
possible angle. You might simply want love has been the theme for countless the quality of the writing is not superb.
to write a description of the beloved poems in the past, and originality is Make sure that the building blocks of
person or thing; but before you opt for essential if you want your poem to the poem, everything from grammar
this, think about how your descriptive
poem could be enriched, and about the
stand out from the crowd. During both
writing and revision, the question: have
TAP and sentence structuring to accuracy
of metre and precision of full or slant
potential in other approaches. There I ever seen or written anything like this HERE rhyme, are in place. It is worth spending
could be a list poem of your subjects
attributes, a dialogue of love this, dont
before? should be uppermost in your
mind. If theres the tiniest scrap of
TO ENTER extra revision time concentrating on
all these technicalities. It would be
love that, a sustained metaphor, a link doubt, a feeling that you might have disappointing to submit a brilliant
with a different element to complement seen a similar phrase or image, its worth poem let down by a flaw that could be
the main strand of material or create going back over the work repeatedly corrected in seconds.
a surprise. You might wish to write in until you come up with a completely When you know your amazing idea
a different voice, in the persona of a fresh thought. Always remember that, has been constructed perfectly, your
character or object, taking a direct or no matter how many other poems poem has the potential to be the winner.
a more oblique approach, or using the have been written about love, nobody Good luck.
format of letters or diary entries. has ever viewed the theme with your
At this stage, before you have invested unique combination of imagination
a lot of time and energy in the poem, and experience. If you are true to these, To enter, submit a single love poem, up to forty lines
its easy to explore a range of routes you will be able to find fresh words to long, by 14 September. The winner will receive 100,
through your material. When you start communicate your message. with 50 for the runner-up. See p107 for more details
making notes, make them for two or One little trick that can help with AUGUST 2016 69

p69 Poetry launch.indd 69 23/06/2016 09:55


Newly confident readers love animal stories just as much as younger children, says author
Amy Sparkes, concluding her look at creating animal magic in your stories

nimals have a special place in our One way this can happen is magic. Being Stories from the animals perspective
hearts and our stories. Animal books removed from the limits of human nature, These stories embrace a broad spectrum of
in young fiction (age 5-9) or middle- animals are sometimes portrayed as magical, styles, from the realistic (such as the Animals
grade fiction (age 9-12) tend to fall into one of especially in young fiction. Can you create an of Farthing Wood series by Colin Dann) to
two categories: stories focusing on the relationship animal character with a magical element? How the fantastic (such as the Redwall series by
between animals and humans; or stories which would the magic work? How could it help Brian Jacques).
view the world from the animals perspective. solve a problem? There is more emotional distance when
Animals are also special friends for children animals are the characters instead of children,
Animals and humans who are in same way alienated or struggling yet children can still identify with them. This
The relationship between humans and animals with emotional difficulties. This friendship can help children to feel safe as they explore
is special, whether it concerns a cherished isnt restricted to domestic pets. Think of an difficult issues, such as displacement or death.
pet, a rescued animal or an encounter in unusual (but in some way appealing) animal. Have you got an animal story in you waiting
the wild. This interaction usually facilitates How could a child befriend this animal? What to come out? Read widely, visit animals and
the resolution of the protagonists conflict conflicts in the childs life could the animal watch documentaries for inspiration. And see
(internal, external or both). help to solve? where your imagination takes you.

Nigel Bird

Which animal books have you written? But I think theres something very comforting for younger readers in a
Animal Stories age range 6-8; Magic Molly, 5-7ish (magical element); sense of familiarity within a series.
My Naughty Little Puppy 5-7ish.
Whats coming next from you?
Why did you decide to write about animals? My latest animal story is The Seaside Puppy, which was out in April.
Because Id always had lots of pets and Id enjoyed writing about I have a new series about guinea pigs publishing in August with
animals as part of my Triplets series. More specific animal books were Scholastic, tentatively called Sophies Furry Friends Im really loving
a natural next step. working on it.
Why are animal books important?
My Animal Stories series is particularly framed to represent the animal
characters POV and story as well as the child characters. I love doing
this, and I think its really important to engage children with the concept HOLLYS TOP TIPS
that pets arent just toys animals have their own feelings and rights. 1 Your own experience is really helpful!
2 Research can trip you up sometimes you find out so much
Where do you get your inspiration from? interesting stuff that you want to put it all in, which doesnt help
My own animals, but also stories from friends, and some even from the story.
children at events. The magical stories with talking animals have a 3 But having said that, its easy to almost get things wrong silly
direct connection to my childhood reading love, the Narnia books. things like tortoiseshell cats almost always being female
4 People will expect you to be an animal behaviour expert. I am
Do animal books work particularly well in series? not, and we seem to have owned the worlds worst-behaved
I never actually intended to create a series with the animal stories animals, always.

70 JULY 20162016

p70 children.indd 70 21/06/2016 10:13



Which books have you written? early readers and those who still need support and a story read to them.
A Dog Called Homeless, A Horse For Angel, The Forever Whale, Hero Tiger Days is a girl reluctant to engage in the world around her
and the most recent, Harry and Hope, which features a donkey. until her grandmother returns from the wildlife reserve where she
The books are aimed at 9-12 year-olds. Although the stories feature worked in Africa. May Days has bought a big old house in need of
animals, theyre really about a child who doesnt speak; two children renovation. Tigers adventures are about the friends she makes there.
who find something in common despite their differences; a child Sometimes they take the form of neighbours and local wildlife,
trying to understand her grandfathers Alzheimers; a child who sometimes its an orphan or sick animal from the zoo. They are small
mistakes fame for heroism; and a child who learns to rely on herself. adventures made large by discovery and play, with humour and some
It is the action and interaction with the animals that reveals and draws emotional tugs. The beautiful illustrations are by Anna Currey.
out the strengths of the child characters through their adventures, The next novel for 9-12 year olds will be published in July
trials and triumphs. The Last Snow Leopard. An imaginary snow leopard leads
Emma, her brother and father to Bhutan. The family is falling
Why do you enjoy writing stories with animals? apart and while searching for their own kind of peace, the past
When I was a child we werent allowed pets, although I longed for a comes back to haunt them when they find a real snow leopard
cat. One day a cat walked in the back door and adopted me. There in need of their help.
were difficulties with other children at school and the cat stood in for Website:
the friend that I needed at the time. I guess that some things start in
childhood and have a deep significance for us. SARAHS TOP TIPS
Ive always been fascinated by animals. My main interest is with 1 Watch the animal you want to write about. Keep watching the
language and communication. Im captivated by their wordless world tails twitching, the tension in the shoulders when they crouch,
that communicates so much. wary. Its often the smallest of behaviours that bring out the
unique particularities of the character of the animal, and its these
Why are animal stories important? that need precision in the writing, especially the verbs and nouns.
Many of us consider animals in a similar way to children we know 2 Speak to experts theyre usually quite willing to help. Ive
we have a responsibility towards their care. In Harry and Hope the helped train a donkey with an animal psychologist and met the
donkey is rescued from carrying bricks to a building site in India. team from India who support donkey welfare. You dont have to
But without the donkey to carry the load, his owner cant earn use everything you learn, but the more you learn the richer the
enough money to feed his family. In stories, both adults and children picture you can portray.
have the opportunity to consider situations outside our usual field 3 Consider who needs to tell the story. The character, the
of knowledge. This makes stories powerful tools to highlight and narrator, or the animal itself? Will you tell it from the animals
enrich our relationship with people, nature and the animal kingdom. viewpoint, from a humans viewpoint? I think there are triumphs
Reading a story enables the reader to consider the importance of a to be discovered in finding the right way to tell the story. Id
subject and can awaken and ignite their thinking and emotions about recommend reading The One and Only Ivan by Katherine
the world and how we are living in it. Applegate for a masterclass in a gorillas voice.
4 Dont feel limited by thinking an animal story has to be either
Do you have a favourite animal moment in your books? contemporary or historical, fiction or factual. Animal stories arent
My favourite are the moments of triumph. All the stories make me necessarily a genre in themselves. Ask yourself, whats the
cry at one point or another whilst I am writing as I am completely best environment in which this story can emerge? Animals can
invested in the characters story. I cannot read out loud the moment enhance any genre.
when the silent child speaks in A Dog Called Homeless, when, through 5 Read around the subject but keep reading books that have
the thundering rain, the dog and her father come to the rescue. Many nothing to do with animals. Sometimes you need to put
adult readers have told me they have a similar reaction. seemingly disparate elements together to create something new.
Once, I read out loud a chapter from The Forever Whale at Hay Youre aiming for the wonderfully unique but seemingly real.
Festival and had to pause, sip water and distract the audience for a
moment in order to gather myself to read on without a crack in my
voice. Stories told aloud are immensely powerful and I wasnt prepared
for the emotional reaction from the listeners. FURTHER READING
Squishy McFluff series by Pip Jones (Faber & Faber)
Whats next? Animal Ark series by Lucy Daniels (Hodder Childrens Books)
Im very excited about my new projects. Two chapter books from my new Magic Kitten / Magic Puppy series by Sue Bentley (Puffin)
series Tiger Days are being published this year, aimed at 6-8 year olds, War Horse by Michael Morpurgo (Egmont) AUGUST
JULY 2016 71

p70 children.indd 71 21/06/2016 10:13

F E A T U R E S In their
own words
Conducting strong interviews and presenting them in the best
way possible are essential skills for non-fiction writers of all kinds.
Tina Jackson talks you through the options

G ood journalists need

more than writing
skills, particularly
when it comes to
interviews. People skills are essential
too: talking, and listening. At the
heart of all good journalism is the
study? Thats a clinical phrase, isnt
it case study? Very often it actually
means a human being with a set of
possibly difficult experiences that
you need them to reveal. Are
you writing about peoples
hobbies, or interests? Do
bashing out five reviews a day and
burning the midnight oil. Im really
sorry but I havent read it, I wailed.
Fortunately for me, the world-
famous foreign correspondent
was a total gent and with
great kindness, took
ability to engage with a stranger and you need to get factual The better armed you pity on his ragged,
persuade them to communicate. quotes to reinforce a are with information hungover, incompetent
Whatever kind of interview youre story? Human interest interviewer and pretty
conducting, you are after one thing: quotes to add colour?
about your subject, the much conducted an
quotes. These are more than the meat Are you talking to a better the questions you interview with himself.
on the bones of your story: in many celebrity, who is used will be able to ask. You can never rely on this
cases a profile interview, for instance to being interviewed, or happening. Do not busk
they are the story itself. The stranger someone who might never it. Never assume anything
who will provide the material for your have talked to a journalist the golden rule of journalism
feature article may come in many guises before and who needs, applies here, too. Be sure of your
celebrity, expert, case study, to name gently, drawing out? facts. The better armed you are with
just three possibilities but in each Be clear in your mind about why information about your subject, the
instance, the success of your piece is you are interviewing your subject better the questions you will be able
totally dependent on your ability to get and what you hope to gain from the to ask. Its that simple.
them to provide you with good quotes. interview. This will help you to focus
Then, of course, you have to shape on getting the best quotes for your Be prepared
your material into a feature. But first particular purpose. Its always a good idea to make notes
lets look at how to make sure you get of the key points for your interview.
the good stuff. Do your research They will act as useful prompt as
Good interviewers will always be well you are talking and will ensure that
What kind of interview prepared, and will make sure they you cover the essentials. Its best,
are you doing? know their subjects background. though, not to have a list and insist
Are you doing an in-depth piece about Its good manners, it means you on sticking to it an interview means
a particular person? If so, why are you dont waste questions and most of having a conversation, not conducting
doing it (the hook) and is there any all, it means you will have a good an interrogation. Think what you
particular focus to it (the angle)? For idea of what you want to get out want to get out of the interview, and
instance, look at WMs star interview of the interview. Never be like this be realistic. Do you need quotes to
this month with prize-winning author writer, who was once, covering the provide the bulk of a 1,800-word
Kei Miller. The hook is his new novel, Edinburgh Festival, tasked with a interview? Or do you only need
Augustown. The focus, for a specialist telephone interview with one of the answers to five questions? In each
magazine with a readership of writers, worlds greatest foreign correspondents, case, make sure that what you want to
is his writing life (the angle). whose latest book was featured in the ask is pertinent and relevant, and that
Are you writing a human interest Edinburgh Book Festival. It had been you stay on topic, or dont stray so far
story where you are speaking to a case a long week of back-to-back shows, from it that you waste time and lose

72 AUGUST 2016

p72 Features.indd 72 21/06/2016 10:06


the opportunity to get the answers an interviewee to put the questions you Dont overwrite. In particular,
you need for your piece. should have asked in the first place. dont scour the thesaurus for colourful
Make sure you have planned your time verbs to describe the act of speaking.
Make sure your tech works well enough to cover all the necessary Explains and describes are possibly
If you are recording the interview, make points within your allocated time. okay if not used to excess but reveals
sure your recording equipment is fully Perfect your and confides really? To you and
functional and that you know how to Listen as well as talk article writing 30,000 readers? Says will do just
work it properly. Tell the interviewee A good interviewer will be aware with a WM Creative fine. If it worked for Elmore Leonard
that you are recording the interview. of every nuance of what his and Raymond Carver, it is more than
Writing course.
If you are taking notes, have a back- subject is saying. Dont force an good enough for the rest of us. Also,
up pen and ensure there are sufficient agenda, and be prepared to go off- TAP HERE! please dont put laughs in brackets.
pages in your notebook. If you are piste. Your interviewee might tell you You are writing a feature article, not
phoning the interviewee, make sure something you arent expecting, a screenplay with directions. And
you have the right number. and it might be better than what particularly if you are a fan of your
you thought you wanted. interviewee, no gushing. Your readers
Be polite want balanced coverage, not fanboy/
Although there are some people who Be professional girl slavering.
take the Paxman route and believe Although you, and your interviewee,
in a confrontational interview style, are both there to do a job, not to make
most interview subjects do not require, a new friend, there is no reason why TYPES OF INTERVIEW YOU MAY
or respond well to, an antagonistic the whole process should not be an BE ASKED TO CONDUCT
interviewer. Leave the hard-nosed entirely pleasant exchange for both of
techniques to the hard-bitten news you. Be on time, be well-informed, be
reporters whose job it is to ask difficult courteous, and remember that they are PROFILE INTERVIEW
questions about topical subjects. sparing you their time (yes, even if they In-depth, will entail careful research and thought-out
Rather than barking out questions need you to promote their book/show,/ questions. Likely to be with a person used to the media
and demanding answers, you will in TV programme/whatever) and you are who is in the news or has a new product they want to
general get much better results if you not the focus of attention. promote, ie talk about/around.
ask your questions courteously. Some
interviewees will be more revealing/ Writing up your piece HUMAN INTEREST STORY
engaging/informative than others, but An interview feature is a feature article May be with a person unused to media attention who
even if talking to them is like getting like any other, only with the emphasis has a sensitive or topical story to tell, and requires a
blood out of a stone, remember to on a person or people as your subject. particularly skilled and sensitive interviewer to put them
thank them for their time. And if The usual feature-writing techniques at ease so that they feel comfortable talking.
youve got the interview through a PR, apply (see last months WM): grab
thank them too. your readers attention with a vivid Q&A INTERVIEW
opener, let them know early on what Short and snappy: you ask the question, they provide
Ask good questions the piece is about and why theyre the answer. With the emphasis on the questions, you
By which we mean, ask questions that reading it, keep a thread going, stay on need to do your research to make sure theyre spot-on.
invite the interviewee to talk, rather topic, intersperse quotes with relevant
than closed questions that could be information, provide some colour, wrap CASE STUDIES
answered with a yes or a no. The it all up with a satisfying conclusion. For a news feature or a trend piece you may need to
basic questions who? why? what? There are a few specific things to interview case studies. In each case you should know
how? when? where? will all serve you think about avoiding: the direction you want the interview to go, and have
well. Your in-depth research will enable Try not to be part of the piece, a brief number of questions (approx five) designed to
you to ask intelligent questions, so keep and definitely avoid giving the elicit the response you require. If youre interviewing
them short and easily comprehensible. impression that the interviewee is for a trend piece, you dont want all the interviewees
Ask one question at a time, and dont your new best friend. This means to say exactly the same thing, so you need to tailor the
be afraid to ask the interviewee to not saying he told me or she questions to each interviewee.
clarify anything that isnt perfectly clear. confided to me, which is twee, coy
Ask a couple of warm up questions to and ingratiating. The reader wants RESEARCH INTERVIEW
put your subject at their ease, then ask to know about your interviewee and You need to get the background to a story, so you talk
the really important questions. Dont their opinions, but they are not the to the key people who can provide you with necessary
be afraid, if its what the job requires, slightest bit interested in you, or information. Or you need an expert to explain their
to ask the pointed or even difficult yours. Some brilliant interviewers area of expertise.
questions that are what readers will Simon Hattenstone in the Guardian,
really want to have answers to. Editors for instance can get away with NEWS INTERVIEW
will not take kindly to you if you file putting themselves in an interview Something has happened and you are talking to the
an interview feature that fails to address story, but most of us cant, and it person it happened to. Ask who, where, what, why,
what readers want to know, and it isnt nearly always sounds either amateurish when and how.
always possible for you to go back to or just plain embarrassing. AUGUST 2016 73

p72 Features.indd 73 23/06/2016 09:56



A psychology background informs the
thrilling realism of Emma Kavanagh, she tells
Chris High

After completing a PhD in Psychology from

Cardiff University, Emma Kavanagh spent seven
years working as a police and military psychologist,
Crimewriter and lawyer training firearms officers, command staff and
Neil White answers your military personnel to deal with the most extreme
legal procedure queries situations. An expert in her field, she now applies
her knowledge to her writing, creating realistic
and incredibly tense stories and her latest novel,
The Missing Hours (Century), has attracted rave
How do I find out whether someone is likely to be let out reviews from fans and critics alike.
on bail after being charged? I want this character under Although Emma appears to have had a career filled with large team
suspicion but out of prison so they can be involved in engagement and thereby a far cry from the solitary nature of writing
the action. a novel, this is not the case at all. I have always worked alone, from
doing my PhD to developing my training courses, Emma explains. Of
To answer your question, you need to resolve the first part of the course, those periods of solitude were interspersed with times of intense
equation: suspicion. interaction I think the biggest group I ever taught was around 300
A person is charged when there is enough evidence to convict, ie, people, including a three-star general but Im comfortable in my own
that the person is no longer a suspect but is firmly believed to be the company. That said though, the thing I miss most is the laughter. Police
actual offender, and is required to attend court. and military personnel have an amusingly dark sense of humour and I do
If the person is still under suspicion, its more likely that the very much miss that aspect of my former role.
person hasnt been charged. This may be because he has been In The Missing Hours, one moment Selena Cole is in the playground
interviewed but has raised other lines of enquiry. For instance, if with her children and the next, she has vanished without a trace. Twenty
the evidence isnt forensic but recognition evidence, but the suspect hours later, Selena is found safe and well, but with no memory of where
states that he was in John Lewiss fifty miles away. The police might she has been. What took place in those missing hours, and are they linked
bail him to come back at a later date to check out alibis, to chase to the discovery of a nearby murder? The novel uses multiple first-person
forensic results, to look at the CCTV in John Lewis. That is one viewpoints, a difficult technique to get right and maintain, but Emma has
way to have the character out in the wider world. it spot on. Id love to tell you that this was a strategic choice and I think
If the person has been charged and the case is a murder (Ill this is one of the things that is most dominated by the characters Im
assume your novel isnt about a shoplifter), bail is less likely to be writing. I often try a number of different narrative styles before I decide
given, as there may be reasonable grounds to believe that he will which one works best for any particular character and The Missing Hours
kill again, or intimidate witnesses, or flee the country. It is not was no different.
impossible, and murderers do get bail, but the person would have to A similar consideration was the creation of the association between the
be someone with no prior police involvement or properties abroad, main two investigating police officers, DC Leah Mackay and DS Finn
and with a stable address, etc. Hale. This one took me a while to figure out. I think that the brother-
The first thing to remember about someone charged with sister dynamic worked better because it allows for a close relationship
murder is that bail cannot be granted by a magistrates court. It which nonetheless can sometimes be competitive, adversarial, even. It also
can only be granted by a Crown Court judge, and then within 48 allowed them to have a very easy bantering interplay between them, which
hours. For example, murderer appears blinking from the dark cells I thoroughly enjoyed writing.
into the magistrates court on Monday. All cases start there. The What does Emma feel are the most difficult and most rewarding aspects
case will be sent to the Crown Court and there will be a hearing of taking up writing as a career? I think the most difficult part is the fear.
possibly on Tuesday, but most definitely on Wednesday, when the What if Ive somehow lost my abilities and cannot write another book?
judge will consider bail. What if no-one buys the books? What if they
Each consideration of bail is fact-specific: on the type of murder, buy it and hate it? The fear is ever present
the background of the offender, so it is impossible to say yes or no. and has to be battered down before anything
What I can say is that only a really regular clean-living guy with productive can be achieved. The most
strong local ties is going to have a sniff at getting bail. rewarding aspect is simply that I get to tell
If you want your suspect out in the wide world, keep him as myself stories for a living, that living within
that, a suspect; ie, not yet charged. The police might believe he is my own fantasy world is an integral part of
the murderer, but if they havent persuaded a prosecutor to charge my job. I am currently and inevitably
murder, hes at liberty. working on book four, whilst attempting
to reassure myself that I havent entirely
If you have a procedural query for Neil, or our other forgotten how to write. I also have a couple
criminal justice expert, serving officer Lisa Cutts, of other writing challenges ongoing, which
email is allowing me to really flex my creative
muscles. Watch this space, as they say.
74 AUGUST 2016

p74 Crimefile/ex.indd 74 21/06/2016 10:05


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p075_wmagaug16.indd 75 20/06/2016 15:51


Spells, wizards, sorcery, enchanted amulets... magical elements
pepper fantasy fiction, but be cautious about how youre going to
wield the wand, says Alex Davis

F antasy fiction is a genre that

is often rich in tropes and
archetypes, and as much as
the genre has been expanding
its horizons of late many of
these classic characters and concepts
alone. But if it is something you want
to include in your stories within the
genre you need to consider how to
go about it. Done well it can, quite
simply, be magic.
that would be viewed with suspicion,
jealousy, open hostility?
Considering who has the powers
of magic is going to be crucial to the
society within your story, and is an
important stage of the world-building
remain at its heart. But they remain
there for a reason their enduring
Something process. It can either be a force the
unites people, or something that divides
popularity with readers for one, and the for everyone? the inhabitants of your world.

fact that it is the continuation of a fine There are many important
tradition of storytelling. Theyre also decisions to be made on
Back to
things that are key to the development
of any area of fiction, and fantasy would
the magical front. One
of the first is whether
Keeping within the the source
not be here without it. it is something that boundaries that you As with so many matters
One of those best-loved and can be harnessed and in fantasy fiction, its
traditional features is the idea of magic used by most people
establish is vital to building important that you
seen so many times and often wielded or something that up a suspension of disbelief establish a set of rules before
by some of the most iconic characters is far more elite and you get started. One of the
in literature. Who hasnt somewhere uncommon. Each decision
and the rich world you great joys of fantasy fiction is
heard of Merlin, or Gandalf a couple will of course lead to its own need to create. that you have the chance to set
of those rare characters whose names questions and challenges. your own rules, but its anything
are universally known in their reading For example, if it is accessible to other than a form without rules.
or viewing? all, how do people use it? What sort of If you establish something in chapter
Magic is an element of unreality world of spells and counter-spells would one, its important to be sure that you
that can be drawn from any number we encounter? Would people tend to use follow it throughout the book and
of different sources and employed by it for good, or would it be largely used indeed the series, as is so often the case
either the very skilled and long-trained for evil purposes? Would some people in fantasy fiction. We can say in a sense
or passed on as a sort of genetic gift, be able to use it better than others? that there are no rules when you begin,
or even curse. It can be something Then again, what if magic was but rules quickly come into place.
destructive, something healing, but something for the elite, the well-trained, As mentioned previously, where the
undoubtedly in many fantasy tales it and learned in the craft? How would magic fits into your society and who
is a thing of huge power. It can be key it play into the class system? Would can access it is an important factor.
to worldbuilding as well as being very magic only be for the wealthy, or would But probably equally important is to
much story-shaping. Its by no means it be something that was passed down be sure of where exactly the magic is
an essential any number of great as a sort of birthright, an inheritance coming from. There are many different
stories do without, and entire subgenres from one generation to the next? In ways to play this, of course, and none
of fantasy that simply leave this aspect this instance, would it be something of them are explicitly right or wrong.

76 AUGUST 2016

p76 Fantasy.indd 76 21/06/2016 10:01


However, it is a rule that you need to deeper price be it psychological or within the mind, and the mental
establish up front and once youve done physical that your magic users will and psychological effects can be very
that its going to be hard to break away have to pay for the privilege? The much felt by the wizards or warlocks
from. Keeping within the boundaries battle to control the immense forces (or whatever else you may choose to
that you establish is vital to building up of magic for a character can without title your magic users) in many stories.
a suspension of disbelief and the rich a doubt make for some fascinating However, many magic users do also
world that you need to create. reading. Is the person in that position come to feel the effects of their gift
So what could be the root of this a liability or an asset? in a physical sense the use of these
awesome power? Is your magic something phenomenal powers can also cause pain,
that floats in the air, an etheric and hurt and long-term damage, and indeed
otherworldly force? Is it a sort of power Secrets and lies a character who has to choose carefully
that exists within people, something One of the reasons that magic can be how and when to allow their powers
special for the chosen to draw upon? Is so effective in fantasy is because it plays out can be very compelling. Could it be
it something that comes from special or into the epic feel that the genre often obvious just from looking at a character
sacred objects, the possessor of which has has. These are so often tales set over whether they have these powers within
access to a great well of power? huge spans of time, stories that can them or not, and what would the
The above are probably fairly tried explore the entirety of a world and take reaction to that knowledge be?
and true in fantasy fiction, and theres in the adventures and challenges faced
plenty of scope to try other things and by a wide range of characters. These
in fact make your book stand out by are so often focused on events that not The easy option?
doing so. Peter V Bretts Demon Cycle just change the city, or the country, One of the downsides of magic and the
series used runes as the source of its but often the entire world. And many reason some of the concepts above are so
magic, for example, something seen fantasy authors do take the extra time important is that it shouldnt simply
much less often within the genre. A bit to build history and backstory into their become a fallback for storylines that
of experimentation and thinking beyond setting and this is where magic can simply dont function in their own right.
the obvious can often yield good results. come in once again. You dont want magic to become a deus
The attitudes towards magic and ex machina in your plots, something
means of using it are rarely simple that is there only to dig your characters
Staying in control in fantasy fiction, and this is very out of the many holes they may get into.
Once you have a sense of where you much something that you can use in When their backs are against the wall,
magic emerges from, and who might the mythology and history of your magic shouldnt always be the solution
be able to employ it, then you have setting. Has the purpose of the magic thats why a system for your magic
a further decision to make is magic become misappropriated over the becomes so important.
actually something that can be used years? Are there legends surrounding If it can only be brought about by
safely? It appears in many stories as it that are true or indeed not true? certain means, or if it takes a
something that can be used in many What can your characters uncover kind of toll on the characters,
very impressive and powerful ways, in their exploits that might make us or if there is a limited pool
be it a way to swing combat in one think differently about the roots of the to draw upon, then your
sides favour, influence peoples minds magic in their world? characters will have
and emotions and even raise the dead. As an idea that is very much borne to come up with
In a sense, the limits of magic can be from our own mythologies around the different ways to
practically unlimited if you decide world, the power of magic can be a get themselves out
it should be. huge driving influence in your of trouble.
The power of magic itself can be own story. Making sure its
something unstable though, and even not just an escape
something that can take over its users. route but something
So thats one question to ask yourself: is Lets get physical absolutely intrinsic to
the magic within my world something Magic is often considered the plot is probably the best
that people can harness and use without something that is cerebral, way to sprinkle a bit of magic
damaging themselves, or is there a something that lives principally on your fantasy fiction. JULY 2015 77

p76 Fantasy.indd 77 21/06/2016 10:02


PERFECT Improve your proofreading
skills and increase your earning
opportunities, with advice from
Chris Glithero

ll writers must also be What do proofreaders check? Proofreading your own work
conscientious proofreaders A proofreader is responsible for ensuring Much of the above will only apply to
with an eye for the smallest that the nuts and bolts of a manuscript proofreading your own work if you are
details. Once youve are in the right place and used properly, self-publishing and handling all aspects of
hammered out your epic novel, potential just as manufactured items are checked the publication process by yourself. But all
non-fiction bestseller, short story, article for quality before heading from the writers will benefit from developing their
or anything else, you need to proofread production line to peoples homes. This proofreading abilities when it comes to
it to within an inch of its life. may involve a wider remit than you spelling, grammar, punctuation, typos and
But honing your proofreading skills might expect though, and incorporates basic consistency.
can also open up the door to a lucrative checking the following copy aspects: If youre submitting a manuscript for
side income, or even a rewarding full- Spelling, grammar, punctuation and publication it will most likely be subjected
time career. This month were going to typos (though most of these errors may to professional proofreading at a later
explore some of these opportunities, have already been taken care of in the stage. BUT, appearances and accuracy are
and also look at how you can utilise copyediting stage, depending on the everything when it comes to getting your
proofreading skills to improve your own type of publication) writing in front of an editor for the first
writing projects. Style consistencies (eg hyphenations, time. If your submitted copy contains
spelling variants, title formatting) numerous errors of any kind then this will
The roll role of the proofreader Page numbers and headings immediately mark you out as an amateur,
From JK Rowling to JD Salinger, no Typographic and layout consistency and if theyre early on in your book or
author produces an impeccable and Awkward page and column breaks article, its likely that the editor will not
error-free manuscript first time. Even Widows and orphans (short lines finish reading your manuscript. As well
after many iterations and redrafts to at the end of paragraphs, or single as appearing sloppy, editors dislike copy
iron out thorny plot issues and character words or short lines appearing at packed with errors because it takes longer
motivations, its likely that errors remain. the start of a page). to edit and proof.
In fact, even once it reaches the stage of Picture and caption matches So, you should make it a habit to
having been copy-edited by a publisher, Table of contents accuracy proofread every piece of writing that you
its incredibly unlikely that the words This checking may be done using submit for publication or consideration.
and their arrangement are perfect. This a printed proof, or, as is becoming Even the best writers make errors in the
is where the professional proofreader more common, an electronic proof. heat of the moment, so embrace the chance
enters the picture. This proof will generally be typeset it to correct them and enhance your writing
In the publishing industry, the is set out ready to be printed, so any towards its greatest potential.
version of the text that is produced major changes beyond those discussed
after all final copy-edits have taken above are avoided wherever possible. Whats it like to be a professional
place, and before printing, is called The proofreader will mark any errors, proofreader?
the proof. This is the almost-ready inconsistencies or omissions on the Proofreaders work for many different
version of the text, and it is the role of proof, so that they can be corrected organisations, including dedicating
the proofreader to identify and mark before printing and publication. proofreading agencies, publishing houses,
any errors or inconsistencies before it In some circumstances, the print and digital media outlets, academic
goes to print. Well look more at the proofreader will also be given a copy- and scientific organisations. Many
job itself and career opportunities for edited manuscript which they must proofreaders work from home, and some
proofreaders in a moment, but first lets check against the proof, but often this are freelancers.
define exactly what is covered within is not the case, and the proofreading is As to what kind of things youll be
the remit of proofreading. carried out blind or cold. proofreading, this will vary depending
78 AUGUST 2016

p78 Publishing.indd 78 21/06/2016 11:07


on the organisation you work for, Chapterhouse who have short-term proofreading
but may include fiction and non- Specialists in publishing-related training, requirements. These include other
fiction books, textbooks, magazines, Chapterhouse offers a proofreading writers, and small commercial brands
newspapers, mail order/digital correspondence course (http://www. which are launching a new marketing
catalogues, ebooks, web pages, campaign or catalogue.
academic papers, journals and proofreader-plus/), which includes As a freelancer it can be hard-
business publications. support from tutors, marked assessments going, particularly in the early days,
The job itself can be highly flexible and a certificate of competence upon but you are also presented with the
with regards to working times and completion. It also offers a combined opportunity to effectively create
locations, but it can also be a solitary course in proofreading and editorial your own job with your own hours
pursuit. To succeed as a professional skills ( and style of working. Having an
proofreader you will need an exceptional College of Media and Publishing impeccable and error-free website is
eye for detail, strong spelling skills, Covering proofreading skills and a necessary first step in embarking as
a comprehensive understanding of competencies across a range of a freelance proofreader, and clearly
the English language, the ability to documents, the College of Media and any qualifications and experience that
follow instructions to the letter and to Publishings online proofreading and you can demonstrate here will weigh
communicate effectively. You will also editing course ( heavily in your favour.
need to be a relatively fast reader in provides tutor support, assignment At first, you are unlikely to be able
order to complete assigned proofreading feedback and an accredited diploma to make a full-time income solely from
tasks to potentially tight deadlines. upon completion. your proofreading work, but its flexible
nature means that its easy to combine
Training and qualifications Where to get a proofreading job with other employment while you build
for proofreading Once youre satisfied that you have the up your reputation and client list. If
If the above sounds like you, you may skills and the knowledge to proofread youre already making a living from your
well be wondering how you go about documents on a professional basis, the own writing meanwhile, proofreading
getting into proofreading. As with many next step is to find somewhere that you can be a good way to supplement your
jobs, that journey starts with training can put them to use. There are number income, at least until you publish that
and qualifications. of routes you can take. world-changing global bestseller.
There are no set requirements in Proofreading agencies Once youve got your proofreading
terms of training or qualifications as Getting a first job in a crowded website up, its unlikely that people
such for becoming a proofreader, but marketplace can be difficult, but there are going to flock to it (though you
many organisations will strongly lean are a number of proofreading agencies may want to consider advertising via
towards working with those who have which can do much of the legwork Google Adwords and other channels),
undertaken specialist proofreading for you, including The Proofreading so you need to proactively look for
training courses. Agency (http://proofreadingagency. proofreading work. Here are a few
Having a degree in English, writing, and Scribendi places to start:
publishing or a related subject will ( Please note that
of course also help your chances at we cannot vouch for these agencies, A global online marketplace where
getting a start in the industry, but and provide their names only for freelancers and businesses come together.
is by no means essential. Having informative purposes. You can get started by simply posting
demonstrable experience of writing for In-house staff jobs a profile as a freelance proofreader,
publication or employment will also At any given time, there are many including details such as your rates and
put you in good stead. different organisations which are in your experience and qualifications. You
There are a number of respected need of skilled proofreaders either on can also apply for freelance jobs posted
organisations offering proofreading a full-time permanent or contractual by potential clients.
course and certifications in the UK. basis. These include publishing
These include: houses, marketing agencies and media This is a similar UK-based freelancing
The Society for Editors and organisations. To locate these jobs, community where you can promote
Proofreaders (SfEP) simply use one of the popular job your services a proofreader and apply
Established since the late 1980s, the search websites like, and for jobs posted by the community.
SfEP provides training and professional search using the keyword proofreader
qualifications for proofreaders, with a or proofreading. You may also want Proofing makes perfect
choice between online and workshop- to check industry-specific sites such Even if you decide that
based learning. Courses (http://writ. as the Bookseller (http://jobs. working as a proofreader
rs/sfepwm) include an introduction is not for you, by honing
to proofreading, and a more advanced your proofreading skills you
course which will teach you to use Going freelance can become a better writer,
BSI (British Standard Institution) In addition to large organisations producing polished, perfect
proofreading symbols. The final step with high volumes of copy that need prose every time.
is a mentoring scheme taught by proofreading, there are also many
experienced members of the society. smaller businesses and individuals
AUGUST 2016 79

p78 Publishing.indd 79 21/06/2016 11:07


very so often a listicle appears rs/smsbooks). Rare and out-of-print
in our social media feeds or childrens books? Stella & Roses Books
timelines about must-visit (
bookshops. And yes, of Books that have been signed and
course these physical shops are places doodled in by their authors? Doodled
of wonder; treasure troves full of rich Books (
pickings for bibliophiles. But what about For anyone interesting in obtaining
the best bookshops online? Because lets official and government publications,
face it if there is something you really The Stationery Office (TSO) Shop
want to find, the internet is going to offers a bibliographic database of over
help you more than a determined rootle 700,000 in-print titles (www.tsoshop.
through physical book stacks. If you are writing non-fiction
Were not talking giant e-tailers here, in any relevant areas, you can arm
although if youre looking for a cheap yourself with the official information.
copy of a book and can bear trawling And although these are specialist You want really niche? We lay at

through the behemoths massive titles, use your writerly your feet The Calypso Online
marketing platform for itself, Amazon imagination... Dangerous Fish Bookshop (www.calypso.
is everyones first port of call this was Goods Emergency Action, which
its first function and is arguably still its Code List 2015? Might Its glorious to know that supports The Fish Orphans
best one. Even better, WM has tracked
down rare titles through Amazon
prompt (and certainly
give credibility to) a
these shops, where the Relocation and Rehoming
Scheme and offers specialist
subsidiary Abebooks Create A Want thriller. Food Industry stock is collected and titles and fish, ichthyology
feature, where you can be alerted when Guide to Good Hygiene curated by passionate and aquaria books and a
a particular title comes into stock and is Practice: Sandwich Bars and print-on-demand service
entered by a seller on the database. Similar Food Service Outlets? specialists, exist. for rare titles.
Abebooks (www.abebooks. Surely theres a comedy sketch Medical titles? Theres, which gathers together the lurking between the guidelines? Wisepress (
stock inventories of thousands of Love the randomness of a charity- Road transport history? Look up
booksellers, is a goldmine. Like every shop find but cant be bothered to Nynehead Books (www.nynehead-
good bibliophile, we love the Rare go out? Oxfam Books (http://www. Music and railways? Bob
Book Room, with its curated lists has an Pearman of Pearman Books in Norfolk
of oddities and niche subjects. Go online catalogue of more than 60,000 ( is your
a little further into it, though, and new, antique and second-hand books Speaking of man. Its glorious to know that these
youll find the Directory (http://writ. to browse. WM had a very happy curated book shops, where the stock is collected
rs/rarebookroomdirectory), which look through the art, architecture and collections, keep and curated by knowledgeable and
catalogues dealers and sellers of rare photography and music, stage and an eye out passionate specialists, exist. Thanks to
and specialist titles. Want an online screen books and found tempting for WMs the internet, we can search out these
bookstore devoted to books by, about offerings including a small press recommended places in the virtual world and visit
and connected with 39 Steps author anthology of rocknroll writing and reads of 2016 them freely. Our high streets may
John Buchan? Got one right here: Trumpet and Bugle Sounds for the Army supplement, with be increasingly generic but the back
50% of the stock of small online-only with Words also Bugle Marches worth our December alleys of the world wide web offer
seller SMS Books (more than 1,900 9.99 of anyones money wed say, issue. rich pickings to book lovers happy to
titles) is Buchan-related (http://writ. especially for a good cause. browse off the beaten track.

80 AUGUST 2016

p80 Webbo.indd 80 21/06/2016 09:44

Well help you
sell your book
news from

Showcase and sell your book to Subscriber

Writers Online readers showcase
Whether traditionally, electronically or self-published, one of the most
difficult tasks facing the modern writer is How do I market and sell my
book. The team at Writing Magazine have now got the answer. Recently added
We are now giving you the opportunity, FREE to subscribers, to share
to the website
and sell your book through the nations favourite writers website. Each The Darkness
month, Writing Magazines website receives over 14,000 unique visitors, of Love,
all sharing one passion books. No longer will you have to rely on by Catherine
potential readers trawling through the myriad of books on other websites Green
to find your work.

But we havent closed the door on non-subscribers. For a fee of 50, your
book can also be included in the showcase. Tip: a years subscription to
Writing Magazine is cheaper see p57 for details. Cross Killer,
by LE Willetts
Please send an image of your cover, with a teaser sentence (10-15 words),
brief synopsis of your book (approx. 200 words) and a link to where
buyers can purchase it, to, with a
subject line of WM showcase. Please include your subscriber number, or
if unsure of that, your postcode.

We will feature your book on our website for two months. If you want The Highland
your book to appear longer, WM subscribers are charged a small monthly Lass,
administration fee of 5. Non-subscribers will be charged at the standard by Rosemary
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To view the books already featured, visit
book.indd 84 21/06/2016 11:22

Helpline Your writing problems

solved with advice from
Diana Cambridge

Email your queries to Diana (please include home-town details) at: 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 How different does a story (or an article) have to be before it can be

submitted to a new market or competition? Ive had a story shortlisted
in a competition (hooray!). As a result it will be published in an anthology in
December. I understand the rights Ive assigned for this version of the story
but what about different versions of it? The story I submitted was a much
reduced version of a longer story (8,000 rather than 10,000 words). If I
identify a market or competition that the longer version would be suitable for
could I still submit it?
CHLOE WILLIAMS, Llanidloes, Powys

A Its quite possible to re-work a story, using the same theme. But it would
be unwise to import chunks of the text into the new version. Youd
need to find different words, different expressions and if possible different plot
devices. A reduction of 2,000 words isnt really that much in story terms. If your
longer version is just 2,000 words added on to the existing 8,000 words, it will
Q I worked on a short story until the last minute, but
allowed myself an afternoon to upload it to their website
and pay the entry fee. Then I ran into problems with the
still read more or less as the same story. But check the wording of the rights you website, which first would not accept my card details (although
have assigned to the anthology and also the rules of any new competition to they were correct, and an hour later were accepted) and then
which you submit. Err on the side of caution. This advice also applies to articles. would not accept my story. Re-reading the rules, I saw it had to
be in a pdf format which I am unable to do. I tried to ring the
competition organisers, but there was only a box to send them

Q I sent off an opinion piece to a national newspaper, and heard nothing from
them. But a couple of days later they did put it on their website without
consulting me. They were not in touch over payment: when I emailed them I had
an email message which they would reply to within 48 hours.
In the end I had to give up.
Why isnt there a help number which you can ring?
a computer-generated reply saying that submissions were automatically considered When everything is done electronically, theres so much
for their website, and may be used. While I am, of course, pleased that they used room for problems!
my piece, I feel a bit short changed seeing it on the website was not as satisfying as OLIVIA STURTON
seeing it in print. They did use my name thats one thing. But it seems there is no Lacock, Wiltshire
question of payment. Is this usual?
JOE PLATTS, Leigh on Sea, Essex
A This will come too late for you for that particular
competition, but my advice is always to get your

A Yes, I would say it is. And I have heard from other writers who found that their
submission had been used on a website, some did not even see it themselves
but were told of this from friends. I think writers have to accept that a website now
work in well before the deadline at least a week. Deadline
entrants often do seem to run into trouble one way or
another. Even if sending by post, a deadline entry may be
carries as much weight as a print version to the people who run them, and to sabotaged by delivery problems, loss or damage. So rule one
younger readers. Print newspapers are losing circulation, and will continue to do so. get that entry in early!
You can look on this as helpful to your profile. Some writers would be delighted to Many competitions are international and often run by
have their work published on a national newspaper site, but payment seems unlikely volunteers running the competition isnt their main job,
where newspaper websites are concerned. so they have to deal with entries as and when. A website
helps their workload. If a payment portal is used and
the entrant confuses his card numbers the portal usually

Q I started a correspondence course in feature writing but gave it up about

three years ago. I still have the course book and would like to re-start the
course, which I have paid for in full. Will distance writing schools let you do this?
allows you back in after a period of time has elapsed. If
you do enter well ahead of deadline, there may be a postal
address for cheques and even entries.
DOREEN NASH, Daventry, Northamptonshire But the most important thing is to read the rules
carefully. There may be twenty or more rules, but buried

A You will need to look at your original records or simply ring them up,
and ask, as a new student, whether you can take up your course at any time
after a break. Some schools will allow this, while others wish you to complete your
within them may be a line telling you only to enter in pdf.
Start with the rules and print them out if possible. Then
set your own personal deadline for entry, make a list of
course in two or five years. all you need to do (format: card details: etc.) and take it
slowly and carefully.

82 AUGUST 2016

p82 helpline.indd 82 21/06/2016 09:41


Q Do you have to submit play and film

scripts in a special computer programme?
I have heard mixed opinions on this. I am on
a limited budget and dont want to pay for
something I dont need.
Tonypandy, South Glamorgan

A Read the rules or submissions guidelines. Some competitions ask for

scripts in a programme called Final Draft the industry standard for
scripts. It costs around 179, but you can buy special offers. Most general
writing competitions want your entry in 12pt Times New Roman as a doc file,
but scripts are nearly always required in Courier. Some require your entry in
pdf format. Final Draft is useful in helping you format your script correctly, as
there are strict layout rules that are not intuitive to the fledgling scriptwriter,
Away day
but you can still achieve the correct layout manually. For details on format,
Getting out more can be
and more general guidance, see Euroscript:
an important part of a writers
quest to be effective says
Q r
Patrick Forsyth
pect as a fee fo
What can I ex
an article of 75
I sent to the lo
0 words whi
cal newspaper
hi st

W riting is essentially a solitary activity.
Even given an idea, getting the words
ct of local down takes time and it can become, or certainly
Its on an aspe E R S aspects of it can become, a chore. Dont mistake
Rye, Sussex me. I like writing, actually I particularly like
stopping. Getting up from the computer with

A cal papers
(perhaps finally) a feeling that I am content with
something I have done is assuredly satisfying.
thing! Most lo But writers benefit from getting out and
Practically no no budget for
az in es ha ve little or about too and its summer so maybe this is
and m ag that do
ee la nc e su bm ission. Those the time to think about this more. Writing
fr nd
g at up to arou
youd be lookin pt an ce . Magazine now has a page called Away from
35-ish on ac Your Desk (p25). A recent issue listed a variety
of events: a literary festival in Richmond, a
Screenwriters Festival in London, a crime

Q When a book club was started by my local bookshop, I thought this was a good
idea they give us a discount on the chosen books and also free coffee and biscuits,
sometimes a glass of wine. However, there is one member of the group who is very vocal
writing course coming up in the autumn and
a Summer School in Dartington. This is, I
believe, merely the tip of the iceberg. There
and always takes over. The girl running the book club doesnt seem to be able to handle are many such events and some of them are
this very well. What would you suggest? small, local and inexpensive; for example
MOIRA JONES, Cathays, Cardiff Brentwood Writers Circle, to which I belong,
has a full-day meeting each year open to

A If there are several of you feeling the same way, I suggest having a discreet word with
the book club organiser. Explain that you feel that not all views are being heard, and
that this is spoiling the pleasure of the event. You could suggest to her that she makes a
everyone which only costs 25 to attend (see meeting on
1 October).
gentle rule everyone who wants to speak gets an equal time. Or, the person who spoke I enjoy discussing writing too. Attending
last cant speak again until others have had their say. The offender would, of course, not be such events is an opportunity to network, cross-
named! Its not so difficult to put this into practice. check queries with others and form alliances (for
instance for co-writing). Its useful. In a busy
life it is perhaps easy to put off attendance at
such events, but maybe you need a firm plan
and commitment to attend something like this a
few times each year. Find something convenient,
book up and put it in your diary. It could prove
a significant help in your
quest to write well and get
published in both the short
term and the long. JUNE 2016 83

p82 helpline.indd 83 21/06/2016 09:42


Serious Self-Publishing

Seeking reliable and realistic advice about your

self-publishing project from approachable and Matador exhibiting at the
experienced professionals? 2015 London Book Fair

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Recommended by writers services like The WritersWorkshop,The Writers Advice Centre for Children, Oxford Literary Consultancy, Fiction Feedback, Bubblecow,Words Worth Reading,
and PR agencies like Midas PR, Literally PR, Cameron Publicity, Booked PR and Startup PR.

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23-25 September The Palace Hotel Torquay

Cup of tea and a chat! 'Structure your Mystery Novel' - with Eileen Robertson

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4 - 6 November The Hayes Swanwick Derbyshire
York Publishing Services Ltd 'Poets' and Writers' Retreat - with Alison Chisholm
tel. 01904 431213 Please note that numbers are restricted on Retreats - please book early. 2017 Weekend Courses to be announced soon. For further details of these and other courses please contact Lois on 01454 773579

84 AUGUST 2016

Malaga Workshop July.indd 1 12/05/2016 10:05

p084_wmagaug16.indd 84 20/06/2016 09:29


Unobtrusive research
You can discover a lot about human behaviour by discreet observation, says research specialist Tarja Moles

nobtrusive research refers to sources), the secondary analysis of data something other than you think. For
data collection methods where relies on secondary sources, that is, sources example, the degree of worn paths may
researchers do not have direct that have already been compiled, analysed not indicate that one section of a nature
contact with the people they and presented by someone else. Examples reserve is a beauty spot, but it could
are studying. In other words, these methods include various textual sources that bring merely mean that other paths have been
are not obtrusive and therefore they do not together previous research findings, such flooded and therefore people have used a
affect the research subjects behaviour. as biographies and obituaries, as well as particular path more.
It may seem strange that you might study different kinds of statistical databases.
individuals or groups of people without Secondary analysis is advantageous in Ethical considerations
interacting with them in any way, but that you dont have to collect information There are ethical issues that you need to
people actually leave behind evidence of yourself but can take advantage of someone consider when conducting unobtrusive
their behaviour and thoughts all the time: elses data gathering. You can also extend the research: although you are not in contact
just think about the letters to the editor scope of your research easily to cover larger with people as such, you are still using
published in local newspapers, social media groups of people, such as whole nations or information about them.
updates that are visible for everyone online even the world population, without having With national statistics this isnt really
or peoples spending habits recorded by to interview every person individually. an issue, but if you start using indirect
market researchers. These are all traces that Indeed, any topic requiring quantitative measures, things can get trickier. For
can be treated as potential sources of data. analysis, large datasets and statistics can instance, if you want to find out how much
Unobtrusive methods are ideal when you benefit from this technique. alcohol the people in your neighbourhood
want to know what people actually do, not If you are after statistics, just visiting the really drink as opposed to what they say
what they say they do which can be two website of the Office for National Statistics they do, rummaging through their recycling
completely different things. Such methods ( will give you access to bins to seek evidence will leave you on thin
are also great for historical research as you a wide range of statistical information on ice. Its best to avoid doing anything that
cant contact people directly, but can only UK business, economy, employment and breaches peoples privacy.
go by traces that remain available. population. Statista (, When you are planning your research, its
So, how can you find these traces? The World Bank (http://data.worldbank. good to think of unobtrusive measures as
org), OECD ( complementary to other types of research
Content analysis statistics) and YouGov (www.yougov. methods. Each method and technique has
A common type of unobtrusive research also provide large datasets. its own strengths and weaknesses, and by
method is content analysis. This means combining a number of methods, youre
studying communications in any format Indirect measures likely to get more accurate findings.
and trying to figure out their meanings. The If you cant find any primary or secondary
communications are often, but not always, sources that can help you with your
texts and could include books, magazines, unobtrusive research, you could consider
newspapers, speeches, letters, diaries, using indirect measures to find answers:
historical records, TV and radio shows, analysing traces and/or material artefacts
adverts and online content. that people leave behind can tell a lot about
The proliferation of digital media on the their behaviour, thoughts and emotions.
internet over the past two decades has been For instance, if youre writing an article
a real gold mine for unobtrusive research. about a show garden or a nature reserve,
Exploring traces that people leave behind you could observe where the most worn
in the online world, for example through paths lead and use these to give you clues
peoples social media accounts or online about the popularity of the different areas.
forums, can give you a huge amount of An early Saturday morning walk in your
information about someone. local area, in turn, might reveal where the
When analysing any kind of content, previous nights party spots have been. And
its helpful to search for answers to the an exploration of mementos left in the
following questions: Who says what? To graveyard could give you glimpses into the If youd like to study
whom? Why? How? With what effect? If people who have passed away and what unobtrusive research
you can find answers to these questions, you their loved ones thought of them. Ways methods in more detail,
can start to build a picture of the individual to indirectly measure something and get Raymond M Lee has
or a group of people you are studying. insights into it are limited only by your written a comprehensive
imagination and inventiveness. guide titled Unobtrusive
Secondary analysis of data If you decide to indirectly measure Methods in Social
While content analysis generally refers something, be aware that your Research.
to exploring primary sources (ie original interpretation of the situation may be AUGUST 2016 8585

p85 research.indd 85 21/06/2016 09:40


Winning a competition organised by WM and Matador Books led to
publication for Peter Breakspears debut novel. He explains the feeling of
becoming an author and his approach to writing, to Adrian Magson

ts fair to say that the majority competition run by WM in association
of debut authors follow the with publishers Matador last year.
same route to publication, Well, thats not so different, you might TAP HERE
and the stops along the way say. Plenty of other writers enter to read an
are now familiar territory to competitions, too. extract of
most aspiring writers: develop the Very true. However, Peters writing
idea, write the book, edit and revise, talent coupled with the theme and
End Point
submit to agents and/or editors, storyline got him to the shortlist of
receive an offer of representation and/ six. Then he won.
or publication, say yes, please and But his win got him more
soak up the feeling of becoming a than merely the standard offer of
published author. Simples. publication with the book available in
But not every author does that. ebook and paperback formats. With
As regular readers of Writing WMs help, Peter also gets to follow
Magazines Publishing Behind every stage of production and design
the Scenes series in recent issues something most authors do not see,
will know, Peter Breakspear, from and which goes on behind the scenes.
Weymouth in Dorset, did things a (This process can be found described The story first. It follows the main
little differently. He followed the in the May-July issues of WM and protagonist, Tom, who is leading
writing and submission part of interesting reading it makes, too). a four-man team on a search for
the route, but then found himself However, Peters journey, like all an object that has fallen to Earth.
experiencing a process that most authors, begins earlier than this. He Locating it takes some of the team
writers dont even begin to see. didnt just write it in the middle of the halfway across the world from a
For a start, he submitted End night and see it magically produced. windswept Welsh valley to Aksum in
Point, his science fiction novel, to a Well, not quite. Ethiopia, reputedly the location of the
fabled Ark of the Covenant. Along
the way they encounter evidence,
PETERS TOP TIPS from missions to Mars and Venus,
showing that the world has long been
a subject of interest to other beings
Think about your story when youre not writing; ideas come at the
oddest times. Just remember to write them down. and that the environment on Earth
has been manipulated over several
millennia by them.
Dont worry about layout, grammar, and spelling as you are writing. The middle of the book required a
Just get the story onto paper
lot of revisits, Peter admits, and I had
to do a fair bit of research to make
Let others read the book, or parts of the book, as you write. They will sure I wasnt talking rubbish. The
pick up many inconsistencies that you will not see. main difficulty for me was getting the
story right in a sensible time, and that
Be careful about names, relationships and places, etc, as its easy it was received well.
to start contradicting yourself if you dont keep an exact records of Which it clearly was. Where did the
the plot. idea come from?
Ive always followed science fiction,
Do the necessary research; make sure the things youre presenting he says, so the idea really sprang
as fact are real. from that interest. But this is the first
work of mine that Ive seen in print
other than some technical articles for
Dont be put off by criticism. And dont give up.
military and maritime magazines.

86 AUGUST 2016

p86 Author Profile.indd 86 23/06/2016 09:58


The production process
of End Point is fascinating,
and much more involved
than I thought it would
be. The team have been
amazing and Im
impressed by their EXCLUSIVE COMPETITION!

And the physical writing itself? How was that accomplished? RELISH YOUR WRITING
I had to do it part-time, as I have a full time job. But even at
weekends I dont seem to be able to write for simply hours on
end. Where I do find it easier is in short periods, with perhaps a
maximum of a thousand words in one go. That works for me.
But where does the storytelling come from?

Writing Magazine
Basically, it stems from telling stories to our sons and
grandchildren. I thought I should write them down and it and Rhodia
are offering three WO
(the writing) grew from there.
Maybe circumstances and an interesting background helped lucky readers RTH 80!
a bit, too. Born in Nottingham, Peter left school at sixteen
an array of Includes mini,
and went to sea, and subsequently spent time in the Army A5 and A4 book
before working with various engineering companies until he premium-quality s
reached his present position where hes a facilities manager. notepads and
and pads
with two runner
His interests, in his own words, include military history, books for every prizes worth 4-up
science fiction and anything to do with tanks! 0!
End Point was first submitted to three literary agents and once occasion
to a publisher. All said the idea was interesting but it wasnt for
Classic French brand Rhodia, is best known for its iconic
them. Then he saw the WM/Matador competition details and
the rest, as they say, is history. orange and black colours. All Rhodia notebooks and pads
How has he found it so far? come with premium quality, satin-finish paper that really
The production process of End Point is fascinating, he says, is a pleasure to use. Features include leatherette covers,
and much more involved than I thought it would be. The team expandable pockets, ribbon markers and elastic closures.
have been amazing and Im impressed by their professionalism.
His next book (as yet untitled) is about halfway done. Its still in
the science fiction genre but involving criminals conspiring to control To enter, simply answer the following question:
the worlds population. Im not sure when it will be ready.
Rhodias colour palette has diversified
in recent years, but which were
its original colours?
End Point by Peter
Breakspear won a.) Purple & Blue b.) Orange & Black
the WM/Matador c.) Green & Red
Novel Competition
in December 2015.


It will be published
on 28 August, but
the paperback is now
available for pre-order
from http://writ.
rs/breakspear at an
Closing date: 3 August 2016
exclusive pre-order
price for Writing
Magazine readers of
6.99. Just enter the
code: WRITINGMAG To view the full range and find out more about what Rhodia
has to offer, please visit AUGUST 2016 87

Rhodia vertical USE.indd 1 21/06/2016 09:15

p86 Author Profile.indd 87 21/06/2016 09:38


Your essential monthly round-up of competitions, paying markets,

opportunities to get into print and publishing industry news.

Discovery tales Best poems forward for

this competition
for Dragonfly The Poetry Society has launched this years National Poetry
Competition, and is inviting entries.
The Dragonfly Tea Short Story Competition, which launched last With a first prize of 5,000, the National Poetry Competition is
year, is running again this year in partnership with the Henley one of the biggest and most prestigious single-poem competitions
Literature Festival. in the world. The second prize is 2,000, the third prize is 1,000
The adult section of the competition is for short stories up to and seven commended poets will each win 200. All winners will
3,000 words with the theme of discovery. There is no minimum be published in a Poetry Society anthology and the top three will
word count. There is a first prize of 1,500, a second prize of be published in Poetry Review. This years judges are Moniza Alvi,
750 and a third prize of 250. Entry is free. Gerry Cambridge and Jack Underwood.
The childrens section has three age categories (4-7, 8-11, The competition is for original, unpublished poems of up to
12-15) and the theme is adventure. Enter 500-word short forty lines by poets anywhere in the world. The poets name must
stories. The prizes in each category are a 50 voucher and not appear on the manuscript. All entries should be typed in
100 school voucher. black ink in 12pt font on single sides of A4. Poets may enter as
To be eligible to enter, writers must be non-professional many poems as they like, by post or online. Postal entrants should
fiction writers, ie those who have never received a fee for download and complete an entry form.
their work (fiction or non-fiction). All entries must be original The entry fee is 6.50 for the first poem and then 3.50 per poem
and unpublished. for any subsequent poems in the same submission. Poetry Society
Submit online, a doc file through the website submission members get a free second entry. Pay the fees by credit/debit card or
system, or by post. There are no specific formatting requirements cheques payable to The Poetry Society.
but the authors name must not appear on the manuscript. Postal The closing date is 31 October.
entries should be on single sides of A4 with numbered pages and Details: National Poetry Competition, The Poetry Society,
include a separate cover sheet with contact details. 22 Betterton Street, London WC2H 9BX;
Writers may enter up to three stories. email:;
The closing date is 29 August. website:
Details: Dragonfly Tea Short Story Competition,
PO Box 125, Newbury, Berkshire RG20 9LY;
New pay rates for plays
Theatre negotiators of the WBBB (Writers Guild of Great Britain)
have agreed above-inflation increases on minimum fees for
playwrights: rates for a full-length play commissioned by either the
Royal Court, National Theatre or Royal Shakespeare Company rise
to a minimum of 12,308.
Independent Theatre Council (ITC) minimum rates for a full-
length play (70 minutes or over) rise to 8,500. The minimum
rate of 5,660 applies for a play between 30 and 69 minutes, and
2,830 for a play under 30 minutes.

Novelists, take note of this grand award

Now in its third year, the Caledonia Novel who is a literary agent at Curtis Brown. a 200-word synopsis. The authors name
Award is open for entries to the 2017 prize. Entries can be novels in any genre for must not appear on the manuscript. In the
The international award, worth 1,000, adults or young adults. All entries must submission email, note name, novel title,
is for unpublished and self-published be original and at least 50,000 words. and full contact details.
novelists. This year there is an additional Shortlisted authors will be asked to submit There is an entry fee of 20, payable
prize, which will be awarded to the best their full novel manuscript by 6 December by PayPal.
novel submitted by a writer from the UK 2016. Entrants may be agented, but must The closing date is 1 November.
and Ireland, of a free place on a creative not be agented by Curtis Brown. Details: email:
writing course at Moniack Mhor during To enter, submit the first 20 pages of;
2017. This years judge is Richard Pike, the novel, double-spaced in 12pt font, and website:

88 AUGUST 2016

p88 News.indd 88 21/06/2016 09:36


is often broken into sections

UK MAGAZINE MARKET and boxouts. The key word
for All About Historys content
Gripping tales from history is accessibility. We are not
looking for academic essays
but rather stories that bring
BY TINA JACKSON history to life. A good article
for All About History will have
All About History, edited by Alicea Francis, is a gripping, almost novel-like
an illustrated history magazine aimed at readers opening paragraph, and a
ranging from schoolchildren to casual historians. reasonable amount of creative
Its key aim is to tell the exciting, shocking licence is allowed. Language
and surprising stories that make up the worlds should be dramatic, but
history in an accessible way, inspiring new lighthearted almost chatty.
interest in a subject that is so often presented as Alicea is happy for freelancers
dry and stuffy, said Alicea. It features bespoke to pitch ideas for both regular
illustrations and infographics throughout, features and for bespoke
allowing for a magazine that is both mentally ones. Imagery is important
and visually stimulating. for us, so before pitching the freelancer should look at the artwork
All About History covers all areas of social history, from the currently available, or think about how we might commission new
ancient to the modern day. Each issue contains monthly themed illustrations, and include this in their pitch. Topics shouldnt be
features (ie aviation, piracy or food and drink), and includes single too obscure, and our cover features need to be big, core curriculum
and two-page articles including a Timeline, Hall of Fame, Day in topics. Think along the lines of what you regularly see being made
the Life, How To, Anatomy of and 5 Facts). Within this front into TV docu-dramas or History Channel documentaries, and
section, we aim to cover the entire history of the topic in question, consider which historical films or TV shows are coming up.
from the ancient to the modern day, said Alicea. Prospective writers should demonstrate a passion for the subject
There are also regular monthly features. Each issue we try that translates into engaging copy. In your pitch, show me that
and cover a wide spread of time and place, with a variety of you can write in an accessible, entertaining way. Let your passion
photography and illustration-led articles. These include Greatest and enthusiasm shine through! If youre stuck for ideas, see what
Battles (featuring an illustrated battle map), Hero or Villain? (with anniversaries are coming up and work from there.
a focus on a morally ambiguous figure from history), a Bluffers Contact Alicea via email. Include a gripping header and standfirst,
Guide, a Time Travellers Handbook, a Through History (exploring a paragraph summarising the content, a list of possible boxouts and
the development of a single object through history) and What If?, suggestions for imagery.
in which we explore how the world would be different had an event Payment is at industry-standard rates.
not happened or had a different outcome. Details: email:;
Features generally range from 2,000 to 3,500 words, although this website:

Poets of the future Beeb boob

BBC Films is making a new adaptation of Arthur Ransomes childrens
The Foyle Young Poets classic Swallows and Amazons for cinema release this year. If successful
of the Year Award is it will be the first of a series of films based on Ransomes twelve novels.
for poems written by However, a change of the name of the character Titty Walker, who was
any young poet aged based on the real Mavis Titty Altounyan, to Tatty, has incensed Barbara
11-17. Having started Altounyan, her niece. Altounyan told The Telegraph, I would absolutely
fifteen years ago, the wring someones neck if I could only find out whose neck I could wring.
competition, run by Its just the most disgustingly pompous thing to do, to feel you can
the Poetry Society with change somebodys identity without any permission or discussion. She
the Foyle Foundation also commented that the real Titty would be turning in her grave and
and support from Arts that the alteration runs the risk of leaving audiences ignorant of the
Council England, is innocence and charm of Arthur Ransomes childrens novel.
now the biggest of its kind in the country. Winners will have The BBC have form in this crime against literature, previously
their work published in an anthology and enjoy the profile changing Titty to Kitty for the 1963 TV serial. By contrast a
boost of following in the footsteps of previous winners shockingly controversial 1974 U certificate cinema film, in which
including Helen Mort. Titty was played by Sophie Neville, now president of the Arthur
Submissions must be original and previously unpublished. Ransome Society, left the name proudly uncensored.
Enter no more than a maximum of six poems. The
competition is free to enter. Poems can be on any theme but
must be written in English. The deadline is noon, 31 July.
Entries must be made via the online submission form at:
This years judges Malika Booker and WN Herbert will
select five winners and give 85 Commendations, with the
prizes being presented on National Poetry Day, 6 October.
Follow the full rules at: AUGUST 2016 89

p88 News.indd 89 21/06/2016 09:36



Church Times weekly
newspaper is edited
by Paul Handley.
Feed Buzzfeed
Short articles up BY GARY DALKIN
to 1,000 words on
religious topics,
Anglican events and Buzzfeed is one of the most popular websites on
personalities are the internet. It is currently the 49th most popular
welcomed. Payment site in the US, and ranked 138th in the world. It
averages 100 per takes a general purpose magazine-like approach
1,000 words. to content, covering everything from news, sport While the subjects are serious the approach does
Details: Church and entertainment, to sections on an A-Z of topics not have to be. No strict word count, though most
Times, 3rd Floor, from animals and audio to the weddings and the successful Buzzfeed posts tend to be between 800-
Invicta House,
world. There are specific sites for UK, Australian 1,200 words. Graphic and photo essays and audio
108-114 Golden
Lane, London EC17
and Canadian readers though most content is shared pieces will also be considered. Payment varies, but for
0TG; email: news@ across all the English-language versions of Buzzfeed. essays Buzzfeed pays around 13 per word, with fees; Culture executive editor Doree Shafrir is looking rising to 50 per word for feature articles requiring
website: www. for unique, well-told personal essays. She is interested extensive research. in stories about extraordinary experiences, personal Buzzfeed is open to submissions year round and
accounts of big ideas, and biographical accounts of is particularly interested in pitches from women,
Scottish Book taboo issues to which many people can relate. non-white, and LGBT writers, as well as previously
Trust announced Subjects can cover, but are not limited to, sex and unpublished writers. Do not send your complete
that its four Robert dating/relationships, debt/money, disability, mental article, but pitch your idea in the body of an email to
Louis Stevenson
illness, or the experience of being sick and living with with the subject line
involving a month- an invisible illness, parenting and parents (including the IDEAS PITCH. Response time is around two weeks.
long writing experience of parents aging), drugs and addiction, race, Simultaneous submissions are acceptable.
residency in work and workplace issues. Full guidelines at:
France, have been
awarded to author
Lucy Ribchester,
journalist and non- Tongue tried
fiction writer Claire A new writers collective based in needs bold writing, that challenges
Prentice, poet and
Pakistan, Zabaan has the goal of our notions of form, tradition,
performer Rachel
McCrum and poet
promoting writers across South Asia, and convention, but also, of race,
Stewart Sanderson. and globally. As well as running class, gender, sexuality, identity,
courses, workshops, and interactive psychology, philosophy and the art permissions have been obtained.
A new bimonthly learning programs, the group will of writing itself . Wait up to two months for a
business magazine, publish an online journal of fiction, Submit: fiction, up to 4,000 response. Payment is a substantive
Business Cloud is poetry, translations, and critical essays words, no more than five poems in critique of work submitted.
being edited by by new and established writers. a single attachment; critical essays Submit a doc or docx file by email
Chris Maguire, This collective is stroppy: We and creative non-fiction, up to 4,000 to,
former editor, believe in tongue-lashing. We believe words; literary translations of poetry following the guidelines at http://
Chorley and Leyland
Guardian, and the
in catharsis through writing. Zabaan and short stories for which copyright
North West
Business Insider.

A study carried out

for ebook retailer
Explore a collision of opinions Have a laugh with
Kobo suggests that
women represent
The 2016 Benjamin Franklin House Literary Prize is inviting this contest
entries by writers aged 18-25 exploring the relevance in our
75% of the most time of a quote from Franklin. The Verbolatry Laugh-a-Riot Contest is inviting
active ereaders
The winning writer will receive 750, and the runner-up will entries of funny stories of writers most hilarious
defined as readers
who spend at least
receive 500. Both winning entries will be posted online by moments in the writing/publishing industry.
thirty minutes a day media partner The Telegraph and Benjamin Franklin House. There are two categories: free and paid. The
using electronic This years quote is: Light often arises from a collision of winner of the paid category will receive 100
books, the Guardian opinions, as fire from flint and steel. and the free category winner will get 50.
reported. Both fiction and non-fiction are accepted. All entries Both winning entries will be published in the
should be between 1,000 and 1,500 words. Entry is free, and Verbolatry newsletter.
I always assume each entrant may submit only one entry. Entries may be fiction or non-fiction,
that a good book Enter by email. Provide details of name, email, postal between 100 and 500 words. Entries must be
is more intelligent address, telephone number, age and place of study (if original and unpublished, and should be sent
than its author.
It can say things
applicable) in the submission email. If entrants are not in the body of an email, with the category and
that the writer isnt students, they should include a brief biographical note title in the subject line.
aware of. explaining their current activities. Paid entries cost 5 each, payable by PayPal.
Umberto Eco, The closing date is 31 October. The closing date is 31 August.
quoted in The Details: email:; Details: email:;
Sunday Telegraph website: website: http://devyaniborade.blogspot.

90 AUGUST 2016

p90 News/FOW.indd 90 21/06/2016 11:09


Curl up with a feline friend
Your Cat, edited by Chloe
Holland, is for everyone who
Old World
loves cats and wants to be the achel Halliwell had fun in the Daily Telegraph, offering
best possible cat owner. readers brilliant lines from films. She had a selection of
Its mainly a practical one-liners, including these three:
magazine, with lots of advice
for people on cat health and You cant fool me! There aint no Sanity Clause!
behaviour, said Chloe. We Chico Marx as Fiorello in A Night at the Opera (1935)
have a lifestyle section, with,
for instance, stories of cats who Gentlemen, you cant fight in here. This is the War Room.
have overcome adversity. Its for Peter Sellers as President Merkin Muffley in Dr Strangelove (1963)
anyone who has a cat who wants
to better themselves as an owner. Water polo isnt that terribly dangerous?
We support various cat charities Ill say. I had two ponies drowned under me.
pretty much any charity that Tony Curtis as Junior in Some Like It Hot (1959)
works with cats and thats quite
a big focus of the magazine. Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy
The magazine was redesigned has been writing a poem in praise of
a couple of years ago. Its traditional electricity and gas meters as
much more fresh and modern, they are phased out, explaining that she
said Chloe. The magazine readership is what it always has been, with wants to preserve memories of these
middle-aged to older ladies with one or two cats, and a lot of retired fixtures in British homes, which will all
readers, but the website readership is a completely different thing. Its Poetic meter? be replaced by 2020.
doing so well the internet is crazy for cats and it has much younger Carol Ann said: Gas and electricity meters have been a
users, who look at it for advice but also for fun things, though we do fixture under stairs and in cupboards for more than a hundred
position ourselves as the top place for cat advice. years, so it felt fitting to preserve their place in household
Topics covered in Your Cat are: Anything to do with cats! The history with a poem. It is definitely one of my most unusual
practical side, the veterinary side and the behavioural side, and then we projects, but hopefully Im able to produce a piece that
have real-life features there are some amazing tales that you wouldnt captures the last whirs of these spinning machines before they
think a cat could have come back from. We also do short stories every make way for their digital counterparts.
month, and lots of reader stories. There are practical stories, anything
thats relevant. We do try to keep it heartwarming. Two Michigan, USA, librarians, Mary
At the heart of Your Cat is the mission of promoting responsible Kelly and Holly Hibner blog about their
cat ownership. The welfare aspect is really important to me, and that ruthless book culls on Awful Library
educational aspect. And being a nice, curl-up read get a cat on your Books (
lap, curl up and read Your Cat! The books they sort out from the
Chloe is always happy to hear from prospective writers who can offer shelves often feature some strange titles,
new angles. Im always looking for something different that spreads like Little Corpuscle, a childrens book
the message of responsible cat ownership we regularly cover the same starring a dancing red blood cell and
subjects but look for different ways of doing it. Send me ideas with a Wax in Our World, a nonfiction book for
fantastic angle and nice pic, or a contact for them. young adults.
Chloe likes writers who are open and flexible, and are willing to Daniel A Gross, writing in New Yorker magazine, said
adhere to Your Cats house style of responsible cat ownership. Send Mary and Holly came to value weeding when working at a
me something I havent thought of. Or something we cant do from library in Detroit, in 2008. The librarys career and medical
here were in Lincolnshire so we cant get to Japan to write about shelves were cluttered with outdated material.
cats living in a railway station. Holly keeps a bag of her favourite weeded books under her
Feature lengths vary from single page (between 600-800 words) desk: Vans: The Personality Vehicle, Be Bold with Bananas and
to four pages (between 2,000 and 2,200 words with pictures). The Psychic Sasquatch and Their UFO Connection. The two
Send an email pitch with as much detail as possible. Samples of librarians maintain that public libraries were not designed to
previous work (cat or pet-related if possible), relevant to the writing in preserve unusual texts, adding: There are places where you
Your Cat, are welcomed. Come to us with an idea, no idea want to hang on to the weird stuff of our culture museums
is a bad idea with us, give us as much detail as possible, and consider and archives.
our style and the responsible ownership message.
Chloe will also accept submissions of fiction. We work with Groan corner
publishers but we do sometimes have space to include fictional short This girl said she recognized me from the vegetarian club,
stories. These should be cat-themed, never written from the cats but Id never met herbivore.
point of view, and between 800 and 1,000 words. Im reading a book about anti-gravity. I cant put it down.
Payment varies. I did a theatrical performance about puns. It was
Details: email:; a play on words.
website: I didnt like my beard at first. Then it grew on me. AUGUST 2016 91

p90 News/FOW.indd 91 21/06/2016 09:35


FLASHES Tales for

David Linkie edits
Fishing News, a night owls
weekly newspaper Strigidae Publishing
for the commercial
fishing industry.
has a motto, Well
He will always keep you up at night.
consider illustrated which nicely sums up
news stories and its attitude to genre
pays 25 per fiction. It publishes in print, electronic
picture. and audiobook formats and needs fiction
Details: Fishing from new and established authors.
News, Kelsey
Media, Cudham
GLOBAL CHILDRENS MARKET Strigidae always needs novel and
novella submissions in the genres
Tithe Barn,
of horror, science fiction, fantasy,
Cudham, Kent
TN16 3AG; tel:
Wednesday window for kids books paranormal, paranormal romance, and
01434 607375; speculative fiction.
email: dave@linkie.
BY PDR LINDSAY-SALMON It has a current call for ocean-; website: themed horror, dark fantasy and horror
http://fishingnews. Harper Collins Australia is currently open to unsolicited erotica short stories, 5,000-12,000 childrens books. Follow their Wednesday Post rules and words, for the anthology Cetos Brine,
send in email queries on Wednesdays (Australian time) only. which will be published in print,
Audiobooks In the subject line of the email put writers name and the epub, and audiobook formats. Avoid
continue to title of the manuscript. In the body include your name, full mermaids, but selkies, doorways to
become ever more
popular, with sales
contact details, the manuscript title and word count. Then other dimensions, ghost ships, curses,
rising last year by write a cover letter with writers CV and any writing awards madness, mythical beasts from beyond,
over 20% in the received, plus a brief bio. Lovecraftian horrors, and demonic
US. The American Include the target reading market, target age and genre and forbidden love are just a few of the
market is now how the proposed book appeals to that market. Dont forget a tales were looking for. The deadline
worth $1.77 billion, blurb or synopsis of under one page. is 31 July. Payment is $30 plus a copy
while the number Attach a copy of the full manuscript as a doc, docx, rtf of print, electronic, and audiobook
of titles released or txt file in standard publishing format. That means use formats. Submit a rtf, odt, doc, or
in 2015 rose 37% a plain, easily readable font such as Times New Roman or docx file by email:
to 35,000.
Arial, double space the text, and number all pages. Previously
Meanwhile the
old abridged
published childrens authors are especially welcome to submit. Payment for novels is through
audiobook appears Submitted manuscripts are considered by one or more royalties, 50% of the publishers gross
to be rapidly of our publishers or editors. It may also be read by other receipts from online sales of print and
heading for the people in-house, including (but not limited to) sales, electronic versions of the novel, 50%
history books, marketing and publicity staff. Submissions are treated as of the publishers net receipts from
with only 3.7% of confidential material. physical sales of print and electronic
titles sold being Responses are only to manuscripts of interest and take three versions of the novel, and 50% of the
abridged versions. months. Royalties and rights are discussed at contract time. publishers net receipts from audiobook
Details: email:; sales of the novel.
Steve Davidson,
publisher of
website: Website:
the relaunched
online version of
classic science
fiction magazine
Amazing Stories, Big in Bedford
has announced
that the title is The Bedford International Writing Competition is open The poetry competition is for original,
about to return to for entries in two categories: short story and poetry. unpublished poems up to 40 lines, on any theme.
print. Later this
The short story category is for short stories up to There are prizes of 200, 100 and 50. Winning
year there will be
a relaunch issue 3,000 words on any theme. There is a first prize of and shortlisted poems will be published in an
featuring the 200, a second prize of 100, a third prize of 50, anthology. Type poems in a clear 12pt font on
winners of last and a special Bedford prize of 50 for the best story single sides of A4 with the poem title at the top
years Gernsback written by a resident of Bedford. The winners and of each page. The poets name must not appear on
Science Fiction shortlisted stories will be published in an anthology. All the manuscript. Poems may be entered online or by
Short Story stories must be original and unpublished. Format stories post. The entry fee is 5 per poem, or three poems
Writing Contest, with double spacing and a 12pt font, on numbered for 10, payable by PayPal or cheques made out to
then the title will single sides of A4. Put the story title at the top of Bedford Writing Competition. Postal entries must be
return to regular
each page. The writers name must not appear on the accompanied by a completed entry form.
print publication
from April 2017.
manuscript. Stories may be entered online or by post. The closing date is 30 September.
There is an entry fee of 5 per story, or 10 for three Details: The Administrator, Bedford
Keep cutting stories. Postal entrants should download and complete Writing Competition, 28 Miller Road,
out Prune an entry form and pay be cheques made out to Bedford Bedford MK42 9NZ; website:
unessentials. Writing Competition. Online entrants pay by PayPal.
Evelyn Waugh

92 AUGUST 2016

p92 News.indd 92 21/06/2016 09:34



Why not take Liberties?

Liberties Press is Irelands leading independent publisher of A good Liberties Press fit would be a well-written, original
high-quality non-fiction on a wide range of subjects, and piece of work, and a hard-working, professional author.
fiction, particularly literary and crime fiction. Liberties also looks for international potential as titles are
The company was established in 2003, in the Liberties distributed into the UK and North America, and translation
area of Dublin, and moved to Terenure, in the south of the rights sold in foreign-language territories. Liberties Press
city, five years ago. currently publishes around 25 new titles a year, with
Our first book was More Than A Game, a collection of the primary focus on the Irish market, and Sen accepts
sports writing by legendary Kerry journalist Con Houlihan. submissions from international as well as Irish writers.
The book was launched by Ireland and Munster rugby star In the case of fiction, were looking for the high literary
Mick Galwey in Doheny & Nesbitts pub in Dublin. More quality of the work; for non-fiction, the expertise and
Than a Game was reprinted twice before Christmas that year, public profile of the author, as well as the originality of the
and we were on our way, said publisher Sen OKeeffe. material, said Sen. A clear covering letter is vital, and if the
Liberties has developed steadily since then. Liberties author is not well known, endorsements from other writers
started as a classic kitchen-table operation, and has been or other public figures can make a difference. Ultimately,
built up over the years; we now have a staff of nine, said though, the submission has to grab the editors attention
Sen. Five years ago, we started publishing fiction in earnest, from the first page.
and it now accounts for around half of our list. We have an Prospective authors should submit in hard copy, with a
active publishing programme focused on Northern Ireland covering letter (including a biographical note) and three
authors, and are continuing to develop in this area. sample chapters.
Future plans include more of the same: Working along Having a book published is only the first stage in
the same lines: publishing the best non-fiction and fiction the process, said Sen. It certainly helps if an author
to the highest editorial, design and production standards, has strong social media experience, or good media
in Ireland and internationally, and promoting our books contacts in general.
vigorously via online, print and broadcast media. After years Liberties Press publishes in print and ebook, and
of challenging economic times in Ireland, the market for pays royalties.
printed books is expanding fairly rapidly, and the challenge Details: Submissions, Liberties Press, 140 Terenure Road
posed by digital is receding. There are still plenty of people, North, Terenure, Dublin 6W, Ireland; email: info@
ourselves included, putting ink on paper!; website:

Enter the Dark City

The time for Irish writers The Dark City Crime & Mystery Magazine is the
Short stories and poetry are published in the culture product of a community of crime and mystery writers
section of The Irish Times on the last Saturday of the and fans by anthology publisher Dark City Books.
month and all work published here will be eligible for the Chief editor Steve Oliver loves stories set in
annual Hennessey Literary Awards. the rough and tumble of the world of crime and
Open to Irish writers around the world the New Irish violence. Submit stories, 1,000-7,500 words, in the
Writing section of The Irish Times is edited by Ciaran Carty body of an email.
and submissions should consist of a story of a maximum Response time is reasonable. Payment is $25 on
2,200 words or up to six poems. The writers of published publication, for first rights and archival rights (for back issues).
stories receive 130 and poets 65. Details:
The Hennessey Literary Awards has three categories: First email:; website:
Fiction for writers publishing their first story, Emerging
Fiction for writers still to publish their first book and
Emerging Poetry for first time poets or those who have not
yet published a collection. The winner of each category will
receive a trophy and 2,500. Both these prizes will double Amazon launches
up for a winner, chosen from the three category winners,
who will also gain the title of Hennessey New Irish Writer comics subscription
of the Year.
Submissions will be accepted by both email and post In the US Amazon is launching a subscription service which will make
and should contain your name and phone number and if available thousands of digital comics. Comixology Unlimited will cost
posting, your email address if you have one. $5.99, and actually be very limited, featuring selections, not complete runs,
Details: Ciaran Carty, Hennessey New Irish Writing, from the catalogues of major independent comicbook publishers such as
The Irish Times, 24-28 Tara Street, Dublin 2; email: Dark Horse Comics and Fantagraphics Books. There will be nothing from; website: the two big comics publishers, DC and Marvel, who both have their own digital distribution. Despite these limitations Amazon intend Comixology to
be the equivilient of a Netflix for comicbooks. AUGUST 2016 93

p92 News.indd 93 21/06/2016 09:34



France monthly Make your words count
magazine for
francophiles will
be appointing PDR LINDSAY-SALMON
a new editor to
succeed Carolyn
Boyd, who is going The Binge-Watching Cure 4,500, 6,000, 7,000, 8,000, 10,000, 15,000,
freelance. Illustrated is a forthcoming anthology 20,000, 25,000 words are sought.
features (approx proposed and edited by Bill No fan fiction, erotica, gratuitous gore, violence
1,200 words) will Adler Jr. He is publishing or sex. Avoid anything too literary, experimental or
be considered. an anthology of short plotless fiction. No sim subs or multiple subs but
Payment is stories of increasing size. reprints are allowed.
negotiable. The first story will be 100 Email your story as a doc, docx, rtf, or pdf formatted
Details: France words. The second story file. In the body of your email and on the first page
magazine, Archant of the manuscript put the exact word count, and full
will be 200 words. The
Specialist Ltd,
Archant House, Oriel
final story will be a novella contact details. In the cover letter in the body of the
Road, Cheltenham of 25,000 words. The aim email include a brief bio. Also include a short synopsis
GL50 1BB; is to persuade readers that of the story, and its genre. Put your storys title and
email: editorial@ reading is fun and a long word count in your emails subject line.; story is just as great as a Deadline is 31 December, 2016, or as soon as the
website: www. 100 word story. The Binge-Watching Cure will reignite story slots are filled. Response time is short. Payment your love for reading; it will better your life. is $200 for stories under 5,000 words and $500 for
Bill is seeking stories from around the world. Check stories 5,000 words and longer. Contributors also
Down Under the guidelines at the website and if a number is crossed receive a paper copy of the book.
outlet Melbournes
out that story slot has been filled. Stories of 100, 200, Details: email:;
Readings won
the Australian 500, 750, 1,000, 1,500, 2,000, 2,500, 3,500, 4,000, website:
bookstore of the
year award.

An abridged version The chrysalis of a contest

of Dan Browns The Caterpillar Story for Children All three winning stories will appear The Moth Magazine Ltd.
The Da Vinci Code Prize 2016, run by Irish literary in The Caterpillar, The Moths Enter online or by post.
aimed at a young magazine The Moth, is open for literary magazine for children. The closing date is 30 September.
adult readership
entries to this years competition. Entries may be on any theme or Details: The Caterpillar Short
has been roundly
ridiculed. The new
The competition is for short subject, and must be original and Story Prize, c/o The Moth,
version, not the stories up to 1,500 words that are unpublished. The authors name Ardan Grange, Belturbet,
most challenging suitable for children between 7 and must not appear on the manuscript. Co Cavan, Ireland;
of reads in its 11. The first prize is 500 and a Writers may enter as many email: enquiries@
original 359 two-week stay at The Moth Artists stories as they like. There is a 12 thecaterpillarmagazine.
pages, will come Residence. The second prize is entry fee per story, payable by com; website: www.
out in paperback 300 and the third prize is 200. PayPal or cheques made out to
and ebook on 8
September. In
comparison, the
607-page Harry

Poets on fire
Potter and the
Deathly Hallows
sold over 44 Creative escape
million copies, Fire River Poets Competition 2016 is open for entries.
many of them to There is a first prize of 200, a second prize of 100 in Cornwall
young readers. and a third prize of 75.
Poems may be in any style and on any subject. Poems may Two bursaries are available for writers
Why is it that be up to 40 lines and should be printed on single sides of residencies at Brisons Veor residential
some people feel
A4. The poets name must not appear on the manuscript. studios at Cape Cornwall.
proud to be called
a grammar snob?
Each entrant may submit up to six poems. The bursaries are worth 275 each and are
Mona Chalabi The entry fee is 4 for one poem, 7 for two, 10 to cover a weeks residency at Brisons Veor
argues that those for three, 3 for each additional poem. Postal entrants in 2017. They are open to low-waged writers
who correct should include a cover sheet with poem titles and full working towards a collection of short stories,
others language contact details, and pay the entry fee by cheques made out a novel or a play.
are clinging to to Fire River Poets. Email entrants should include the To apply, download and complete an
conventions that poem titles and full contact details in the body of the application form and send it by email
are unimportant. submission email, send entries as doc, rft or pdf files, pay with writers bursary in the subject line.
She says grammar by PayPal via the online entry system and put the PayPal Applicants should explain their financial
snobbery is often
transaction number in the subject line. circumstances and need for a bursary in
used to silence
those who have The closing date is 31 October. under 100 words.
less of a voice Details: Fire River Poets Poetry Competition 2016, The closing date to apply is 26 August.
in society. 2 Deane View, Bishops Hull Road, Taunton TA1 5EG; Details: email:;
The Guardian email:; website: website:

94 AUGUST 2016

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Keeping up with a changing world

Aiming to explain the ideas and innovations

that are changing our lives, from business
to science to design, and pop to technology
Wired UK edition needs writing that is
ambitious, revelatory and agenda setting.
The basic themes for the magazine are
change and the future and the aim is to
identify the next big thing, whatever that may When I was writing my first book, my
be. There is an online archive giving a good editor advised me to put everything I
idea of the tone and style of the magazine. wanted the review-reading public to know
When submitting, editors will be looking in the first and last chapters, because those
to see that you show passion and engagement are the only chapters that most reviewers
with your topic and that you can tell a fresh read. In the years since then, I have
story vividly, accurately and tightly whilst discovered that indeed most of the quotes
also providing solid evidenced data, first hand reportage, quotes that are pulled by reviewers from my books have come
direct and active from people significant to the story. It is important you from the first and last sections. In non-fiction books at least,
provide the source of all factual information and contact details of people reviewers tend to skim the middle section and read only the
interviewed as this will be checked as part of the editing process. summaries of the argument at beginning and end.
You should first pitch an idea, on specific rather than general themes, Michael Lind, The Smart Set website, Drexel
and there are several sections you can pitch to: University, USA
Start is 21 pages of technology, science, architecture, engineering
and start-ups stories of 300-400 words.
Play is the culture section with 300-400 word pieces covering film, TV, Plenty of writers balked at the joys of word
music, art, books, gaming, fashion and sport. This also includes Q&A processing, for a host of reasons. Overwriting,
pieces of 600-1,200 words, and concise, smart sidebars of 150-250 words. in their view, became too easy; the labour
Ideas Bank is a space for short powerful arguments of 700-900 words of revision became undervalued, and noisy
from writers, thinkers and innovators inviting readers to think about a printers and plugged-in gadgets the norm.
topic in a different way and encourage debate. When Gore Vidal wrote in the mid-1980s
R&D section covers hard science and academic research and showcases that the word processor is erasing literature,
breakthroughs and debate. There is an in-depth read of 1,000 words and he expressed an uneasiness about technologys proximity
a Q&A of 1,200 words with a prominent scientist. to creative writing (and the wider field of publishing) that
Features can be in excess of 6,000 words and should tell a story with a persists. This too is the literary history of word processing,
narrative arc, conflict and actual people with a snapshot of dread about gadget love, the seduction of the
driving emotions and real ideas. screen, and automation and the threats they pose to writers.
The magazine also has online content across Eric Banks, Book Forum, USA
website, podcast, social media and video.
This is the place for breaking news with
12-20 articles of around 500-800 words being The technology that has made it easier
published each day. Pieces should be relevant than ever to tell a story and get it out
to readers of Apple News, Twitter, Facebook to the world cuts two ways. Its made
and other channels. it possible for a handful of authors to
The response time to pitches is usually hit a global jackpot of unprecedented,
under ten days. Himalayan, proportions, while at the same
Details: email:; time making it so much tougher for many
website: authors to be seen or heard in the vast sea of information
contributor-guidelines in which we now live.
Gail Rebuck, Penguin Random House UK publisher

Infamous five He writes the worst English that I have ever

encountered. It reminds me of a string of wet
Following the unexpected success of spoof Ladybird sponges; it reminds me of tattered washing
books for adults last year, four new titles taking on the line; it reminds me of stale bean soup,
Enid Blytons classic Famous Five into adulthood are of college yells, of dogs barking idiotically
to be published by Quercus Books. The new novels, through endless nights. It is so bad that a sort
written by Bruno Vincent, will be published for the of grandeur creeps into it. It drags itself out of the
Christmas market in hardcover on 3 November. dark abysm of pish, and crawls insanely up the topmost
The titles are Five Give Up the Booze, Five Go On pinnacle of tosh. It is rumble and bumble. It is flap and
A Strategy Away Day, Five Go Gluten Free and Five doodle. It is balder and dash.
Go Parenting. The new adventures of Anne, Dick, HL Mencken, destroying the prose of Warren G
George, Julian and Timmy the dog (who must be Harding in Farnsworths Classical English Metaphor
getting on a bit now) are described by the publisher
as gentle parody. AUGUST 2016 95

p94 News/ And another thing.indd 95 21/06/2016 09:33



Romsey & Dark matters
Wellow Gazette
is a free local BY GARY DALKIN
magazine for that Post Mortem Press is a US Additionally, fantasy may be
area of Hampshire. independent press specialising in heroic, urban or low. SF can
Editor Angela dark science fiction and fantasy. cross over into horror and/or
Long welcomes Founded in 2010 by publishers Eric military science fiction, but there
feedback and and Stephanie Beebe, the company should be more menace than
relevant articles. has published over 100 books and anything requiring a hard science degree to understand.
Details: is an officially approved publisher No space opera, dragons, superheroes, hobbits, sword and
email: angela@ by the Mystery Writers of America. sandals, zombies, werewolves or vampires. No previously
Recent titles include Barlow After published works and no series if previous volumes have; website:
Dark by Brad Carter and Ophelia been published elsewhere. Post-apocalyptic fiction will Alive by Luke R Harrington, while have to be extraordinary to be accepted, and absolutely
anthologies have featured stories by Clive Barker, Joe must not, under any circumstances, contain zombies.
Destinies: Concerto Hill and Harlan Ellison. Use standard manuscript formatting and submit in doc,
of the Holocaust Editor Elizabeth Jenike is currently considering docx or rtf format. Follow the complete guidelines at:
and the Nakba, by unagented novels between 50,000 and 120,000 words,
Rabai al-Madhoun, with an ideal length of 80,000-100,000. This open Details: Post Mortem Press, 1172 West Galbraith
a Palestinian-born reading period ends at midnight on 31 August. Road - Suite 203, Cincinnati OH 45231, USA;
British citizen was Both science fiction and fantasy novels may be email:;
announced as
the winner of
inventive and contemporary, or set in dark, dying worlds. website:
the ninth
International Prize
for Arabic Fiction
(IPAF) worth
Remote places, enticing entries
$50,000. is running com voucher worth 10. is aimed at
Off the Beaten Track, a free-to- Entries on the theme are invited up over 55s, but entries are invited from
George Orwells enter travel writing competition. to 750 words. Entries may be factual writers of all ages.
Animal Farm is There is a first prize of 100. The or fictional, and must be original and The closing date is 30 September.
the nations
winning entry will be published on unpublished. Upload entries through Website: http://seniortravel
favourite book
read at school,
the website. Ten highly commended the website, marking whether the
with 27 percent of writers will each receive a firstwriter. story is factual or fictional. writing-competition/
2,000 adults having
enjoyed reading it
in the classroom,
according to A truly international
research carried
out by Oxford competition Game to write about
Home Schooling.
the beautiful game?
Future Publishing
The Oxford Brookes International
is expanding after Poetry Competition is open for entries. editor and head coach Matt Tutt is
acquiring music The competition, which will be looking for avid football fan writers to contribute to
and shooting judged by Daljit Nagra, is in two the blog on a freelance basis.
magazines from categories. The ESL category is FootyBlog was one of the biggest football blogs
Blaze Publishing. for poets who write in English as in the UK with a massive readership of footy
These are a second language. The open category is for any poet, fans all across the world, and with your help Im
Acoustic, Drummer, published or unpublished. In each category the winner will looking to build it back up to its former size! he
Bass Guitar receive 1,000 and the runner up will receive 200. said. The site is mainly about the Premier League
Magazine, Clay
The competition is for original, unpublished poems up but were also looking for writers to cover some of
Shooting, Sporting
Rifle, Airgun, to fifty lines on any subject. Poems should be primarily the other big leagues around the world (the MLS,
Shooter and in English but may include words and phrases in another A League and so on).
Gun Trade News. language. ESL poems will be considered for inclusion in the Matt is interested in hearing from football writers
open category. All poets should include OPEN or ESL in who can write up ideas on his list, and would also
Poetry doesnt the top right-hand corner of their submission. be pleased to look at idea pitches.
have to be about Poems should be entered as doc, docx, pdf or rtf files. Each Payment packages may be negotiable.
daffodils. It isnt poem should be in a separate document. The poets name Details: email:;
all wild surmises, must not appear on the manuscript. Submit entries by email. website:
heavenly muses
The first three poems submitted cost 5 per poem.
or even the black
night that covers
Subsequent entries (up to ten poems) cost 4 each. Pay
me. Its the world, via the online payment system using debit/credit cards.
and everything Submit poems by email after registering and paying via the
thats in it. Brookes online shop.
Tom Payne, The closing date is 31 August.
Daily Telegraph Details: email:;

96 AUGUST 2016

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INTRODUCTIONSWriting Magazine presents a selection of county magazines currently

accepting contributions. We strongly recommend that you familiarise yourself with
their publications before submitting and check websites, where given, for submission guidelines.

One of the UKs highest- Edited by Mike Lowe, Dorset Life, edited by
selling county magazines Cotswold Life is an Jol Lacey, has a
is the Dalesman, edited upmarket county passionate focus on
by Adrian Braddy. The magazine for an affluent, topics of Dorset interest
monthly A5 publication largely female readership. and a readership of
is a celebration of the All feature coverage 50-plus men and
county of Yorkshire, in has a strong Cotswold women with a deep
particular its countryside, connection and includes interest in Dorsets
but is not a lifestyle character pieces, town people, places, flora,
magazine. It has readers guides, interiors, fauna, geology, history
worldwide. Adrian heritage, gardens, and produce. Jol runs
is always happy to hear from new writers fashion, health, food and drink and events. 950-word features on Dorset-specific people
with ideas for quirky, unusual and humorous Features tend to be two or four pages, and are and personalities (not celebrities) and 1,450-
Yorkshire-themed feature articles with the written in an accessible, conversational style word place-specific features. He doesnt run
emphasis on the positive. Feature lengths are that doesnt talk down to readers. Pitches are property, tourism or lifestyle features. It is
usually 800 and 1,000 words, but sometimes up welcomed from Costwold-based writers who appreciated if freelance contributors help
to 1,800. Adrian prefers a words-and-pictures know the magazines readership and platforms. with sourcing images for their pieces. Jol is
package. Send him an outline of ideas and Send ideas by email with samples of work. happy to send out contributor guidelines to
samples of work. Payment is 70 per 1,000 Payment varies but averages 100 for a DPS interested writers, and accepts pitches from
words and the picture rate varies. and 140 for a town feature. readers who are familiar with Dorset Life and
Details: email:; Details: email:; its ethos. Payment is 50 per page.
website: website: Details: email:;
Norfolk Magazine, edited Kent Life, edited by
by Angi Kennedy, is Sarah Sturt, launched Lincolnshire Today,
a county and lifestyle in 1962 and provides edited by Steve
magazine with a wide- inspirational, feel- Fisher, is a prestigious
ranging appeal for good coverage of county title with a
readers throughout county-wide matters. readership of affluent
Norfolk. Feature topics The editorial content over-35s. Feature
include people, places is all related to key coverage includes
and property, gardens events or things of fashion, beauty, places
and local food and drink interest in the county, of interest, health,
stories as well as fashion, from historical gardening, motor
family, recipes and style. Feature lengths range anniversaries to places and personalities. sports, homes and
from 400 words for a one-page feature to 1,000- The usual feature length is 1,000 words and gardens and history.
1,200 words, and the magazine is highly visual. Sarah works with writers to supply photo Steve is interested in receiving pitches for
Angi accepts pitches of relevant ideas, and details. Kent Life prides itself on excellent articles on local heritage stories, local
commissions at least three months in advance. writing and production values. Sarah interest stories, celebrity interviews, local
Contact her by email with suggestions of ideas accepts pitches of county-wide stories from personality interviews, and local home
plus samples of work. Images are appreciated writers with an awareness of the magazine. decor and garden features.
where possible. Payments vary between 50 Send ideas by email with a succinct subject Suggest ideas by email in the first instance.
and 150 per feature. line. Payment varies. Payment varies.
Details: email: Angela.kennedy@archant. Details: email:; Details: email:;; website: website: website:

Ebook options diminishing that the closure of Blinkbox Books and the Sony Reader Store.
Overall sales of ebooks fell slightly last year, the Bookseller
Waterstones closed its digital download store in June, transferring reporting by 2.4%. Given the total UK market in 2015 was
customer accounts and ebook libraries to Canadian ebook still worth an estimated 381.5 million, this alone is not
company Kobo, itself a subsidiary of the Japanese e-commerce enough to account for the closure of successive ebook stores.
conglomerate Rakuten. Waterstones also stopped selling Rather the closures appear to be a consequence of the extremely
audiobook downloads at the same time. low selling point of many, often self-published, ebooks,
Waterstones withdrawal from the ebook market follows the together with seemingly unassailable
closure of Barnes and Nobles UK Nook store in April, and before dominance of the ebook market. AUGUST 2016 97

p96 News/Introductions.indd 97 21/06/2016 09:32


Natures Home
is the quarterly
Join the satire team
magazine of
the RSPB, the
Royal Society
for the Protection Previously compiled by a small for entertainment purposes.
of Birds. Editor team calling themselves moderately It is essential that any material
Mark Ward talented funny people NewsThump submitted is original and the
welcomes readers is a UK news spoof and satire first step to joining the team is to
thoughts on site now looking for others to join submit an example article of 250-
the magazine, the team. 300 words using the submission
wildlife stories, The site takes a daily swipe at form on the website.
nature photos and
news from the UK and everywhere Everything submitted is read and
gardening tips.
There are prizes
else and has no particular affiliation if your piece shows promise or is to
for star letters. or political preference as the aim is be used on the website you will be
Details: to eventually mock everybody and contacted. You will be given a byline
Natures Home, everything indiscriminately. for anything that is used and receive
The RSPB, UK We never let the truth ruin a funny 60% of any advertising revenue
Headquarters, story, its much easier to fabricate it, generated by your article after the
The Lodge, Sandy, say editors, You are NOT supposed sites running costs have been met.
Bedfordshire to believe stories you read here. They Website:
SG19 2DL; email: have been completely made up purely writing-for-newsthump/
website: www.

Get writing for Willesden

The six-day
Big winners
Loogabarooga The 2016 RSL Ondaatje Prize, WM is pleased to hear that the Willesden Herald Short Story
Festival of which is given for a distinguished Prize, which stopped running for a few years, has been
Childrens work of fiction, non-fiction or resurrected. In its new form, the Willesden Herald Short Story
Illustrated poetry that evokes a sense of Prize has returned to the simplicity of its early days, and
place, has been won by Peter the winner will get a specially inscribed mug and a bottle
will return to
Pomerantsev for Nothing is True of Champagne. Ten winning and shortlisted stories will be
from 19-24 and Everything is Possible: The published in Willesden Herald: New Short Stories 9. After 150
October. Surreal Heart of the New Russia. entries, entry fees less Submittable fees will go into a prize
fund that will be shared equally between the ten authors.
Frances Weetman, The Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for The competition is for short stories up to 7,500 words.
of Newcastle, Comic Fiction has this year been shared for the There is no set theme. All stories must be original and
was the first first time by two winners: Hannah Rothschild unpublished. Format entries as Word docs or rtf files in
winner of the for The Improbability of Love and Paul Murray 12pt font with double spacing. Submit through the website:
for The Mark and the Void. Both winners received
award for a new
Gloucester Old Spot pigs, Bollinger Champagne There is a fee of 5 per entry and you can enter as many
woman economic and the complete Everyman Wodehouse collection. times as you choose. The closing date is 31 August.
and political
writer, which gives The 2016 CrimeFest Award winners are: Audible
her a contract Sounds of Crime Award: Paula Hawkins, The
for an essay to
be published as
Girl on the Train; Kobo eDunnit Award: Michael
Connolly, The Crossing; Last Laugh Award:
Best foot forward for Olga
a Virago ebook, Christopher Fowler, Bryant & May and the Norwich Writers Circles Olga Sinclair Open Short Story
and an option for Burning Man; HRF Keating Award: Martin Competition 2016 invites stories that make reference to
publication of a
Edwards, The Golden Age of Murder. shoes somewhere within the text. The first prize is 400
full-length book.
and a 100 voucher from Van-Dal shoes. The second prize
There are Manchester-based poet and short story writer is 175 and a 75 voucher, and third is 50 and a 50
now more than Michelle Green has won New Writing Norths voucher. Winners and runners-up will also receive a signed
340 literary 2,000 Julia Darling Travel Fellowship. She will copy of The Story of the Norwich Boot and Shoe Trade by
festivals held in spend three weeks in Hayling Island off the south Frances and Michael Holmes.
Britain and Ireland, coast of England. The competition is for original, unpublished short
a London Book Fair stories up to 2,000 words that contain a reference to shoes.
report said. Parashar Kulkarni has won Format stories in 12pt Arial or Times New Roman, double
the 5,000 Commonwealth spaced, with a 3cm margin. The entry fee is 8 per story,
It is from
books that wise
Short Story Prize with Cow payable by cheques made out to Norwich Writers Circle
people derive and Company the first story (postal entrants) or by PayPal (email entrants).
consolation in the the assistant professor in social The closing date is 17 July by post and 31 July by email.
troubles of life. sciences at Yale-NUS College has Details: Paul Taylor, 2 Briar Court, Norwich, Norfolk
Victor Hugo ever written. He is the first Indian NR2 8PR; email:;
author to win the prize. website:

98 AUGUST 2016

p98 News.indd 98 21/06/2016 09:30


Funny women
Founded in 2002 by journalist and producer
Lynne Parker, Funny Women has been helping
Direct route to Crooked Lane female comedy writers and performers achieve their
potential with workshops, weekend events and
BY TINA JACKSON conferences. A year after the organisations beginnings
the Funny Women Awards were launched and
Crooked Lane is a crime fiction publisher that recognising that not all funny women want to be
publishes broadly in that category. Everything stand-up comedians, the Comedy Writing Award is
from traditional mysteries and cosies to police for those who prefer to be behind the scenes.
procedurals, suspense, thrillers, and historicals, The winner will receive career development, with
said editorial director Matt Martz. a 500 script option fee and intensive mentoring
Crooked Lane Books was founded in spring from The Comedy Unit, an award-winning comedy
2014 and published its first books last autumn. and entertainment production company delivering
From the very beginning it has been our goal programmes across TV, radio, new media and
to bring the highest quality crime fiction to an theatre, plus 250 of Benefit cosmetics.
outstanding community of readers, said Matt. The award is open to all women, except those
Fans of crime fiction are knowledgeable and who have been employed as a professional TV script
voracious. They are both exacting and editor, and the first step is to submit a 1-2 page
generous. They know all about well-placed clues treatment for a comedy script for television plus three
and unreliable narrators. Theyre also the first to sample scenes of approximately 2-4 pages per scene
pick up a debut authors book and give it a before the closing date of 15 August.
shot. Nothing makes us happier than getting a book that theyll love in Were looking for writing flair and the ability
their hands and introducing them to characters and authors whom they to put together a laugh out loud joke, so let your
can enjoy for years. personality shine through, say guidelines.
Crooked Lane is growing fast. Our goal is to become a standby in the Only one entry per person is permitted and
industry for high-quality crime fiction. Were looking to find talented debut you should include your name, email address and
authors with whom we can work to build careers with successful books for telephone number on your submission and ensure
years to come. In 2016, we will publish 26 original titles, and in 2017 we will your script is formatted correctly. A pdf document is
at least double that number. preferred although doc attachments will be accepted.
Crime fiction submissions in all genres are welcomed. Were looking Scripts will be judged by marks out of five for
for exceptional storytelling that stands out from the crowd, said Matt. He concept, story and structure, character and dialogue
wants stand-out work. All of the various subgenres of crime fiction have very and overall funniness and saleability. A longlist of ten
clear conventions that help create excellent stories. So, at a formal level, its will be selected and will receive detailed feedback.
important that a manuscript satisfy those rules. But writers need to go beyond The eventual winner will be selected by a panel of
simply hitting the marks. Dazzle us with a unique, irresistible voice; knock three industry judges headed by the Comedy Unit.
our socks off with breakneck speed and hairpin plot twists; immerse us in an Email submissions with Comedy Writing Award
intriguing, atmospheric world. Entry in the subject line.
The ideal Crooked Lane book is anchored with a strong, deftly plotted Details: email: writingaward@funnywomen.
mystery. It has a fresh, unique voice and a constellation of compelling com; website:
characters as well as pacing that moves along at a quick clip, said Matt. women-awards/comedy-writing-award/
Authors may be agented or unagented. Submit by email with a query
letter with the first five pages of a manuscript. Crooked Lane will request
follow-up material if necessary.
Crooked Lane publishes in hardcover,
trade paperback and ebook,
and pays advances and royalties.
Details: email: submissions@;

Misjudging talent
Pop impresario Simon Cowell upset authors
and readers alike in May, not by announcing
that he was intending to write a book for
children, but by saying in an interview on US
TV: Ive had to read a lot of these childrens
books and theyre quite boring, I think I could
do it better. Cowell told Terri Seymour for the
news show Extra, And now I think Ill do it,
adding that the book will be about animals.
Presumably it will be better than such famously
boring books as Wind in the Willows and
Watership Down. AUGUST 2016 99

p98 News.indd 99 21/06/2016 09:30



Sally Hampton Take up the challenge
is editor of My
Weekly womens
magazine and
wants feedback.
Share news, Longmead Publishing careers of previously unpublished authors
views and photos is an independent of fiction, said Tony.
that make you publisher of fiction He is interested in shorter fiction. The
smile. Payment if novellas and novels novella is our preferred format (25-30k
published is 25 by new or previously words) although we will look at longer
and 50 for the unpublished authors. manuscripts up to about 60,000, said Tony.
Star Choice. Longmead Publishing Well-crafted prose is preferred to a high
Details: All About
is the brainchild of author Tony Cornish, word count. We also favour challenging
You, My Weekly,
80 Kingsway
who has been involved in publishing for over material, but this isnt a euphemism
East, Dundee thirty years producing teaching materials for overly violent, heavily sexualised
DD4 8SL; email: for Oxford University Press, Prentice Hall text; intriguing, thought-provoking and
allaboutyou@ and others, history books for WH Smith thoughtful are much preferred.; and most recently for Anova Books (The Tony is happy to hear from unagented
website: www. Voyages of Captain Cook). In his early career authors. Initially, we want to hear about he ran a publishing services company, your idea, he said. This doesnt necessarily
edited magazines and established a history mean there has to be a beginning, middle
Library imprint the Ceiriog Press. More recently, and end all mapped out in detail, but a
charity Book Aid
I ventured into the world of fiction, thereby successful outline will show clear signs
International discovering how difficult, even discouraging, of a well-crafted structure and, most
launched its new it is for writers to unlock the help and importantly, some indications of what
website: www. support vital to bring a manuscript to the excites you about the project. Its not point of publication and started working up necessary for a project to be complete
the principles behind Longmead Publishing. were happy to work alongside you as a
Jamie Hill is editor Longmeads first release, the novella project develops.
of The Ocelot, Peachstone Black: the Thirteenth Labour of Send the outline idea, with a sample
a free monthly Aloysius Beade, was published in 2015. section of the work (up to2,000 words) and
guide to theatre,
Longmead will publish three titles an indication of where you see your book
music, wining
and dining and
in 2015/16, eight in 2016/17 and fitting into the marketplace.
events in Oxford rising by between five and ten per year Longmead publishes in dust-jacketed
and Newbury. He thereafter. Most importantly, we hope hardbacks and pays royalties.
welcomes reader that the imprint will develop a reputation Details: email,
feedback. for publishing engaging, thoughtful,;
Details: The Ocelot, challenging literature and supporting the website:
Positive Media
Group, Unit 3,
Century Road,
Arclite House, Get buzzy writing poems Universal appeal
Swindon, Wiltshire
SN5 5YN; email: The Buzzwords Open Poetry Competition, run by Buzzwords Now in its seventh year, Kasma is a Canadian
jamie@theocelot. poetry organisation in Cheltenham, invites entries of poems up online science fiction magazine founded and to seventy lines. Proceeds from the competition will be used to edited by Alex Korovessis. The title publishes one
fund Buzzwords poetry gatherings. new story on the 15th of every month and has
Tom Stroud edits There is a first prize of 600, a second prize of 300 and featured work by leading authors including Ken
Island Business five commended prizes of 50. There is also a special 200 Liu and Robert J Sawyer.
Magazine, Gloucester Prize for Gloucestershire residents only. Submissions should be science fiction, ideally
published by To enter, send original poems on any subject that have not 1,000-5,000 words, though slightly longer or
the Isle of Wight
been published in print or online. Type poems in clear 12pt shorter tales may be considered. Stories must be
Chamber of
Commerce. font on single sides of A4. The poets name must not appear original and previously unpublished, and should
Details: Mill on the manuscript. Include a separate sheet, covering email or surprise the editor. Read some of the published
Court, Furrlongs, entry form, which can be downloaded from the website, with works at to get an
Newport, Isle details of name, address, email, telephone and titles of poems idea of the sort of stories likely to succeed.
of Wight PO30 being entered. Entries for the Gloucester Prize should mark their Korovessis discusses his taste in fiction in an
2AA; email: entries with GL in the top right hand corner. interview available at:
tom.stroud@ Poets many enter online or by email. There is an entry fee of Payment is a flat rate of $25 by PayPal for non- 4 per poem or 10 for three, which can be paid by cheques exclusive electronic rights for one year.
made out to Cheltenham Poetry Cafe or by PayPal (include Submit your story in the body of an email sent
Not a wasted
word. This has
the reference number in the submission email). to
been a main point The closing date is 7 August. See full guidelines at: www.kasmamagazine.
to my literary Details: Buzzwords Open Poetry Competition, Butlers, com/submit.cfm
thinking all my life. Western Road, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire GL50 3RN;
Hunter S email:; website: http://

100 AUGUST 2016

p100 News/ Zine.indd 100 21/06/2016 09:29


Penny is a new zine, Submit fiction, 1-3,000 words, and poetry, fun for us to read it.
providing short fiction that preferably formal, though free verse could It needs courageous writers
is accessible, collaborative, still be accepted, in the body of an email: more concerned with saying
experimental, and something bold than hoping
community-minded. Website: to fit in. Experimentalism and
All stories are illustrated and usually written to most genres are okay, but avoid
a visual or verbal prompt. Synapse is a Canadian zine stark realism, he said/she said,
Work is wanted for issue two: flash publishing poetry and prose relationship narratives, introspective voice,
fiction, creative non-fiction and prose with a unique outlook. Submit and social commentary.
poetry, 500-1,250 words, in response to only unpublished work, up to Submit up to three previously
the Penny Prompt on the website: www. five poems or 2,500 words of unpublished stories by email short fiction or non-fiction. Details: email:
Response time is within a month. Payment Response time is around sixty days.; website:
is $50 for writing and illustrations, or $100 for Details: email:
graphic narratives, for non-exclusive rights to;
use online, in print, and in podcasting. website: etre describes itself not
Details: email:; as a zine but an artistic
website: 50-Word Stories publishes two new fifty-word movement towards a
stories a day. Stories must be exactly fifty words, more self-aware culture. It
The Adroit Journal is a quarterly with a plot and meaning of some sort. encourages introspection
zine journal focusing on the Submit one story only, in the first two weeks through all types of
future of poetry, prose, and art. of any month. The best stories are chosen artistry. It needs poetry,
It needs work that is bizarre, and published the same month. Keep content fiction, essays and works of art/photographs
authentic, subtle, outrageous, appropriate for all ages. Submit in the body of an on topics of existentialism, introspection,
indefinable, raw, paradoxical. email. Response time is a few weeks. The best love, psychology, philosophy, religion and
Submit up to three pieces of prose, each submission each month gets a $10 prize. contemplation of the human condition.
under 2,500 words, or eight poems, through the Website: Stories should be brief, 400-1,000
website. Deadline for the next issue is 11 August. words; non-fiction, 700-1,500; poems
Response time is quick. FewerThan500 150-300 words, not rhyming. Submit by
Website: publishes short, email:
short fiction and creative non-fiction. Its five Website:
editors look for strong, precise language that
creates a story with deep emotional impact. Cultured Vultures was started
Submit an attached file or in the body of an by editor Jimmy Donnellan
Trigger Warnings is a Danish-based zine email: to allow people to rant.
founded by a group of writers frustrated Website: Anything is welcome,
because there seemed to be no markets for poems, stories, articles and,
their darkest of the dark writing. The Airgonaut is a monthly online journal of course, rants, on any
Trigger Warnings happily publishes stories of flash fiction, 250-1,000 words. Flash is a aspect of popular culture, 1,000-3,500 words.
with dark, macabre, themes, the twisted and form that cannot get enough attention, say Details: email:
weird, in any genre. This is not a market for guidelines, and: If you didnt have fun writing;
sensitive writers. your story, its probably not going to be much website:

Unsolicited fiction manuscripts are

GLOBAL FICTION MARKET welcome, providing they conform to the
guidelines. The submission package should
Fight the good fight contain thirty pages or three chapters of the
work plus a cover page with writers CV, and
full contact details. Simultaneous submissions
are accepted but let them know if your work
Belle Lutte Press is a US small press with a mission, to bring is accepted elsewhere. Submit through the
exceptionalism back to the masses. Believing that todays media website:
maximises profits by force-feeding the populace cheap and unoriginal Response time is slow. Rights and
thought the editorial team of Belle Lutte Press is hell-bent on payments discussed at contract time.
publishing original, high-quality novels. The press wants good stories Details: email:;
that stick in the mind and could change society. website: AUGUST 2016 101

p100 News/ Zine.indd 101 21/06/2016 09:29


Womans Own
magazine recently
included an Dont fear Phobos
article entitled
Smart Shopper. BY GARY DALKIN
A footnote stated
tell us how you
save cash and you Phobos is an American semiannual print and electronic stories and poetry should
could win 25. Get weird fiction magazine. Editors and Publishers Robert be up to 2,500 words, flash
in touch via email: Corry and Luke St Germaine describe their title as fiction up to 1,000 words.
womansown@ publishing macabre, astounding, unsettling, thrilling, Submit by email. In the baffling, and terrifying stories in the tradition of Shirley subject line include your
Jackson, Ambrose Bierce, HP Lovecraft, Robert E Howard, story title, word count and
BBC Good Food
and Charlotte Perkins Gilman. issue theme (Deep Black Sea). In the body of
magazine has had
a complete revamp
For Issue 4: Deep Black Sea, Corry and St Germaine your email briefly outline how your story fits the issue theme,
with more pages. want short stories, flash fiction and poetry hauled from a mention of any previous publications and a brief bio,
It now includes the brine of oceans both real and fantastic. That entails which may be as factual or ridiculous as you like. Attach your
more restaurant the meanest, meatiest, most vigorous weird fiction you submission as an rtf or doc file and send to hellophobos@
and travel content. can wrestle to the surface. Enquiries to same address. Full guidelines are
The editor is Payment is 5 per word. Deadline is 31 July. Short at:
Gillian Carter.
Details: BBC

5,000 for ecopoets

Good Food, 44
Vineyard House,
Brook Green,
London W6 7BT; The Resurgence Poetry Prize 2016, the major award will be expected to record their poem for download.
details: enquiries@ for ecopoetry, is open for entries. The competition is Enter by post or online. The entry fee is 8 for the
bbcgood for the best single poem on an ecological theme. Prizes first poem and 3 each subsequent, paid by credit or; are 5,000, 2,000 and 1,000. debit card, or cheques made out to Resurgence Prize.
website: www. All poems must be original, unpublished and not The closing date is 1 October. more than 54 lines. There is no specific theme but Details: The Resurgence Poetry Prize, First Floor,
in some way all entries must address the relationship Fetter Lane, London EC4 4BR; email: info@
Wessex Writers is between humans and the natural world. Winning poets; website:
a small group of
committed writers
who meet on the
third Monday of
every month in Notts Open Win a Torbay stay All write rebellion
a hotel in central
Bournemouth. No The Nottingham Open Poetry Torbay Poetry Festival 2016 competition To commemorate the hundredth
poetry is allowed but Prize has a prize pot totalling is now open, for original, unpublished anniversary of the Easter Rising in
membership is free. 625 for three winners and poems up to fifty lines. First prize is 1916, SaveAsWriters writing group
Details: ten merit prizes for original, 700, plus a free weekend at the Festival in Canterbury is running a creative
email: robin@
previously unpublished poems (27-31 October) including Festival Pass writing competition on the theme;
website: https://
of a maximum forty lines, and accommodation. The second prize is of rebellion. written in English. 400 plus a Festival Pass, and the third Enter original and unpublished
Anyone over the age prize is 200 plus a ticket for two to the poetry up to sixty lines and short
Dame Judi of sixteen can enter the Festival supper. stories up to 3,000 words. There are
Dench, 81, is the competition and there is no Enter online or by post, with an entry prizes of 100, 50 and 25. The
new honorary limit on number of entries. The form downloaded from the website. The entry fee is 4 per short story (10
president of the entry fee is 3, 10 for four. entry fee is 5 per poem, or 20 for five for three) and 3 per poem (8 for
Bront Society, The closing date is 12 August. (postal entry only). Deadline is 28 August. three). The closing date is 3 August.
which is marking Details: The Competition Details: Torbay Festival Poetry Details: Luigi Marchini, c/o
the bicentenary
Secretary, 38 Harrow Road, Competition, The Administrator, Save As Writers, 35 Spillett Close,
of Charlotte
Bronts birth. West Bridgford, Nottingham c/o 6 The Mount, Brixham, South Faversham, Kent ME13 8QP; email:
NG2 7DU; website: www. Devon TQ5 8QY; website:; website:
I recently asked a
senior (publishing)
executive if they
were comfortable
with the way self-
published authors
Elemental poems for Living Museum comp
were slowly taking
Black Country Living Museums Annual Prize Poetry can be downloaded from the website, but entries
over Kindle sales.
The response
Competition 2016 is for poems with the theme must be sent by post. There is no entry fee.
largely unsaid Earth and Air. Prizes are family tickets to the The closing date is 29 July.
revealed to me that museum and publication on the museums website, Details: Black Country Poetry Competition,
they were not. plus 100 for first and 50 for two runners-up. Black Country Living Museum, Tipton Road,
Philip Jones, editor, Submit original, unpublished poems up to forty Dudley DY1 4SQ; website:
The Bookseller lines. Print entries on single sides of A4. Entry forms bclmpoetrycomp

102 AUGUST 2016

p102 News/Travel writing.indd 102 21/06/2016 09:28



Travel insight for Outpost


Travel, adventure and culture are the
content of Toronto-based Outpost
magazine, which aims to cover travel in
a unique and insightful way. Expert tips, Planning with
travel stories and comprehensive guides
to destinations around the world are all
wanted, together with beautiful high-
resolution photographs. It is advised you
read online articles to get a feel for the
magazine and websites style, focus, tone Its worth considering a trip based
and subject matter. on what to do as well as where to go,
Columns and smaller stories range from
1,000 to 1,500 words and feature stories
says Patrick Forsyth
highlighting an adventure travel experience
should be 3,000 to 5,000 words. here shall we go? This is a common enough
Other sections include: Tripping, a space for 300-word profiles or odes
to a person, place or thing that relates to travel; Thrillseeker, for adrenaline-
orientated articles on expeditions, adventure races, thrill seeking and small,
unique off-the-beaten path experiences; Field Notes contains articles and
W question when people are thinking of
holidays. The writing fraternity may well
couple it with another question: where shall
I write about? But this may not be the only
stories with a science connection; Travel Guides/Tips gives concrete and possible starting point.
specific travel info, advice, tips and ideas on a particular subject, theme or Of course, people go on holiday for all sorts of reasons,
travel experience; Gourmet Du Monde, for recipes from around the world. including wanting to see a particular place, or sometimes
It is advised you submit a complete article if you are a new or not to how many people go on holiday and see nothing of
unpublished writer with little publishing history. Other writers can the place they visit, spending all the time by the pool or on
submit a query outlining the story idea, proposed length and availability the beach, or inside a nightclub? But some go not so much
of photos. Include your contact details, samples of previously published to visit a particular place, but to do a particular thing. This
work or links to a website showing previously published work. A full may be at various stages of involvement with an activity: to
or partial piece can be included as a doc attachment. Payment rates for explore or start it, to practice or just to experience a one-off
published work are negotiated. event or cross some activity off their bucket list.
Send queries with Story Query in the subject line by email: The range of activities linked to travel, what the industry calls special-interest holidays, is huge. These can involve
Website: wine tasting, painting, photography, music including
learning an instrument or singing in a choir dancing,
horse riding, golf, fishing, the natural world from safari
to bird watching and more. Some are instructional, like
learning a language or to cook. Some are linked to one-
off events, like viewing an eclipse. And of course the link
Book time to enter this competition to location gives rise to huge variation: people can watch
birds in the Lake District or go and see Darwins finches in
Books Ireland magazine is repeating its short the Galapagos Islands. A good many holidays incorporate
story competition, launched last year, as part of writing workshops of some sort too. There is something for
its fortieth anniversary celebrations. every taste and interest. I would certainly not want to sing
There is a first prize of 400 and a writing on holiday or anywhere else its not a pretty sound. But
course at the Irish Writers Centre. The winning there are other things on offer I would assuredly enjoy.
story will be published in Books Ireland. There Investigating the possibilities here may extend the
are second and third prizes of 200 and 100. prospects of a trip with plenty to write about. Effectively
The competition is for short stories up to you can write about the place, the activity or purpose or
2,600 words by writers anywhere in the world various combinations of the two. Clearly this works best if
who are writing in English. Stories may be you link to an activity that interests you; I made one great
in any style and on any theme, but must be trip that incorporated a scuba diving course (and didnt
original and unpublished. drown) but have still never gone somewhere where I
Send stories by email as double-spaced would see the Northern Lights, which I would love. What
Word attachments, with a front page stating name, address, contact is more, the cost of the diving course was both a business
numbers, story title and wordcount. expense and exceeded by the fees I got paid for writing
To enter, pay the fee of 10 (5 for Books Ireland subscribers and about it. Besides it was enormous fun.
writing group members) through Books Irelands parent company website So maybe a good starting point as you think about
( and then send the story by email, what to write next is to review not just places you might
including the order ID number. travel to, but things you would like to do. Combining the
The closing date is 31 August. two might be arranged in a way that saves money and,
Details: email:; by extending what a trip involves, allow you to pitch to
website: different outlets. At the very least it is an approach that
can take you in a different direction from that suggested
by the simple where shall I go? question. AUGUST 2016 103

p102 News/Travel writing.indd 103 21/06/2016 09:28


GLOBAL MYSTERY to the Editor
West Dorset
Living is a
MARKET and miscellaneous
items. All ideas should
free bimonthly first be queried with
magazine edited
by Sally Thomson
Maintain the mystery the relevant editor. See
featuring website for details.
BY JENNY ROCHE Once an article is
Bridport, commissioned it should
Poundbury and Although it does not publish fiction, Mystery Scene crime be emailed with a one-
Lyme Regis. fiction magazine does publish articles on the literary sentence biography
Details: tel: life, the media industry and especially likes insider of yourself and your
01225343710; information articles. Although a lot of its contributors postal address and contact
email: sally. are experienced writers the magazine is open to, and details. Artwork and photographs are welcome and you
appreciative of, new writers and new viewpoints. should mention if these are available. Payment rates are
Based in New York, the 70-80 page magazine is negotiated for articles and interviews and books and a; website: published five times a year and is said to be the most small payment are made for reviews. Essays on books to
www.westdorset authoritative guide to the crime fiction genre. Its content be published are unpaid. include articles on novels, films, TV shows, audiobooks, The next deadlines, subject to the editors discretion,
childrens mysteries, short stories and reference works. are 1 August for the Fall issue and 1 October for the
Andy Cooper is Articles are wanted of 800-2,000 words, interviews Holiday issue. Make contact as far in advance as you
editor of glossy of the same length, although shorter is preferred, book can for time-sensitive articles.
free community reviews of 100-250 words and essays from authors of Website:
monthly books due to be published. There is also space for Letters writers-guidelines
magazine Exeter
Life. Feedback is
Details: Archant
South West,
Let the public decide
Newbury House, The UK Short Story Competition Reading groups around the spaced. The writers name must
Fair Oak Close, is a new writing prize where the UK will be reading the entries, not appear on the manuscript.
Exeter Airport winners are judged by the public. and members of the public are also To enter, writers must register
Business Park, The competition is for short invited to become judges. Each by 29 July, and put the title and
Clyst Honiton, stories up to 2,500 with a entry will be sent out for judging registration number in the subject
Exeter, Devon
defined beginning, middle and three times. line of the submission email.
EX5 2UL; email:
end. There is a first prize of All submissions must be There is a registration fee of 1,000, a second prize of 500 original and unpublished. 12 (6 for subsequent stories)
and a third prize of 250. The Stories may be in any genre payable by PayPal.
Wantage Poetry winners will be published in except childrens and erotica. Register by 29 July, and
Club meets on an anthology along with 27 Enter stories as doc, docx, rtf enter stories by the closing
alternate Tuesdays shortlisted stories. The writers or pdf files, in 12point Arial or date of 31 July.
at 7pm at the Bear of these will each receive 50. Times New Roman, 1.5 or double Website:
Hotel. Newcomers
are very welcome.
Just turn up or
contact Julian
Higman or Hidden verses GLOBAL LITERARY
Mike Jones.
Details: The Buxton Poetry Competition is open for MARKET
tel: 01235 751656; entries for the 2016 Award.
email: julianhig The theme of this years contest is hidden. The Join the Qu
manwantage5@ first prize winner in the open category will receive; 500, with prizes of 250 and 100 for the second BY PDR LINDSAY-SALMON
mikejones@live. and third-prize winners. In the categories for young
peoples poetry (12 to 17) and childrens poetry (up to Qu is an online literary journal,
Weve all heard 11) the winners will get book tokens. published by the MFA program at
that a million All poems must be original, unpublished and under Queens University of Charlotte,
monkeys forty lines. All entries should be on the theme, and USA. Its a new venture, but there
banging on have a title. The poets name must not appear on the are four back issues to read on the
a million manuscript. A completed entry form must accompany website. The editorial team is catholic
typewriters each entry. Send two copies of each poem entered. in taste, made up of students, and the
will eventually Each entrant may enter up to three poems. poetry is particularly good.
reproduce the Entry in the open category is 5 per poem, and Submit fiction, essays, script
entire works of
should be paid by cheques payable to Buxton Festival. excerpts, all under 8,000 words. Poetry submissions
Now, thanks to
Entry in the young peoples poetry and childrens should be no more than three poems. Submission is
the Internet, categories is free. online at the website using their submittable system.
we know this is The closing date is 26 August. Deadline is 31 August for the next issue. Response
not true. Details: Buxton Festival, 3 The Square, Buxton time is reasonable. Payment is $100 for prose and
Robert Wilensky, SK17 6AZ; email:; $50 for poetry for one-time, non-exclusive rights to
late US professor website: publish your work.

104 AUGUST 2016

p104 News.indd 104 21/06/2016 09:26



Fly back in time

FlyPast, edited by Chris Gilson, is the UKs biggest-

selling monthly aviation magazine.
We cover the heritage aviation sector aviation
history and warbirds [vintage military aircraft now
operated by civilian organisations or individuals
and often found at airshows], said Chris.
FlyPasts coverage starts from WW1 and goes up
to the late 1970s.
Features include a lot of historical subjects,
particularly the history of wars, and also aircraft
restorations, museums and airshows, and theres
a news section as well. Were 60/40 history,
and military history is a big part of that; we are
primarily a military history magazine in that
respect, said Chris. A lot of it is because many of
our readers are ex-service personnel.
Readers range widely. We have hobbyists and professionals the readership is
a very large mix. The bulk of it is men, but not all of it theres no such thing as
a typical reader. They come from all walks of life: ex-service personnel, historians,
general public. The magazines content, though, is accessible to all. A lot of our
readers are experts but the work we publish is accessible to anyone who picks up the
magazine as a casual read. We dont cater just for expert level we strike a happy
medium. Anyone could pick up a copy of Fly Past and understand it.
Chris aims to provide readers with a rich mix of information. A historical
feature has got to have a really interesting feature at its core. In terms of
restorations we look at the different projects on offer. In terms of warbirds we try
to find examples of interest.
He welcomes contact from prospective freelances. Most of our content is
freelance contributions. Normally the best thing is to email me with an idea a
synopsis. Make sure of your sources, make sure of your facts. And try to write
something youd want to read yourself think of yourself as the audience.
We always try to get good pictures as well, so ideally Im looking for a words-and-
picture package.
Features range from 1,000 to 5,000 words and payment is usually 65 per
1,000 words.
Details: email:; website:

High society prizes for playwrights

The free-to-enter The winning playwright will receive
Terence Rattigan 2,500 and their play will be produced
Society Award offers with not less than six performances by
a first prize of 2,500 the Sarah Thorne Theatre Company
and a guaranteed in Broadstairs, Kent. The runner up
theatre production to will be awarded 1,000 and a public
the winner of the best reading of their play will be arranged by
new play written for theatre. the Terence Rattigan Society.
The competition is for original, full- Enter both a print and an electronic
length theatre plays at least 75 minutes copy of the script and include a list
long, preferably with an interval. Plays of characters, a description of the
should be for no more than six actors setting and a one-page summary of the
(doubling is allowed). Plays must not action. A completed entry form must
previously have been performed, or accompany each entry. The playwrights
won another award. Playwrights may name should not appear on the script.
submit up to two entries. The final The closing date is 31 August.
judges will be writer Julian Fellowes, Details: Rattigan Society Award, PO
director Thea Sharrock, drama Box 67787, London W14 4FB; email:
professor Dan Reballato and actor; website:
David Suchet. AUGUST 2016 105

p104 News.indd 105 21/06/2016 09:26

Tel: 01354 818012 or email:
Box (min 3cm): 13 per single column cm for subscribers;
15 per single column cm for non-subscribers

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p106_wmagaug16.indd 106 20/06/2016 12:45


Competition rules and forms

Enter online at or by post, with the ref code in the address, to:
Sally Bridgewater (Ref Code xxxxx), Writing Magazine, Warners Group Publications,
31-32 Park Row, Leeds LS1 5JD. Remember to add a front sheet with full contact details (see Rule 3)
Remember to sign up for our free editors e-newsletter for regular comp news and updates
To enter:
Love Story Competition (see p39)
Love stories, 1,500-1,700 words; entry fee 5, 3 for subscribers; closing date, 14 September; Ref Code: Aug16/Love

1,000-word Short Story Competition (see p39)

No theme; 1,000-word limit; entry fee 5, 3 for subscribers; closing date, 15 August; Ref Code: Jul16/1000words

Love Poem Competition (see p69)

Love poetry; 40-line limit; entry fee, 5, 3 for subscribers; closing date, 14 September; Ref Code: Aug16/LovePoetry

Subscriber-only tight situation Short Story Competition (see p61)

Any theme, but must involve a tight situation; 1,500-1,700 words; free entry, subscribers only; closing date, 14 September;
Ref Code: Aug16/Tightsit

Subscriber-only Travel Story Competition (see p61)

Travel theme; 1,500-1,700 words; free entry; subscribers only; closing date, 15 August; Ref Code: Jul16/Travel

How to enter Poetry Competition

I am enclosing my entry for the .......................................
Short Story Competition
I am enclosing my entry for the .......................................
Competition Rules ......................................................... ............................. .................................................. .....................................
1 Eligibility Ref code .....................................and agree to be bound Ref code ................................................ and agree to be
All entries must be the original and unpublished work of the by the competition rules bound by the competition rules
entrant, and not currently submitted for publication nor for any other
competition or award. Each entry must be accompanied by an entry TITLE.................................................................................. TITLE..................................................................................
form, printed here (photocopies are acceptable), unless stated.
Open Competitions are open to any writer, who can submit as many FORENAME ....................................................................... FORENAME .......................................................................
entries as they choose. Entry fees are 5, 3 for subscribers.
Subscriber-only Competitions are open only to subscribers of SURNAME ......................................................................... SURNAME .........................................................................
Writing Magazine. Entry is free but you can only submit one entry
per competition. ADDRESS........................................................................... ADDRESS...........................................................................
New Subscribers Competitions are open only to those whose
subscriptions start during 2016. No entry form or fee is required. ........................................................................................... ...........................................................................................

2 Entry Fees ........................................................................................... ...........................................................................................

Cheques or postal orders should be payable to Warners Group
Publications or you can pay by credit card (see form). No entry fee is POSTCODE ........................................................................ POSTCODE ........................................................................
required for New Subscribers competitions.
EMAIL................................................................................ EMAIL................................................................................
3 Manuscripts o Im happy to receive special offers via email from Warners Group Publications plc o Im happy to receive special offers via email from Warners Group Publications plc
Short stories: Entries must be typed in double spacing on single
sides of A4 paper with a front page stating your name, address, phone
TELEPHONE (INC. AREA CODE) ............................................... TELEPHONE (INC. AREA CODE) ...............................................
number and email address, your story title and word count. Entries will
be returned if accompanied by sae. Electronic entries should be a single Tick here if you wish to receive our Tick here if you wish to receive our
doc, docx, txt, rtf or pdf file with the contact details, etc, on p1, and your FREE monthly e-newsletter FREE monthly e-newsletter
story commencing on the second page.
Poetry manuscripts: Entries must be typed in single spacing with ENTRY FEE (please tick one) ENTRY FEE (please tick one)
double spacing between stanzas on single sides of A4. Entrants name,
address, telephone number and email address must be typed on a 5 5
separate A4 sheet. Entries to poetry competitions cannot be returned. 3 for subscribers 3 for subscribers
Electronic entries should be a single doc, docx, txt, rtf or pdf file with Free entry (subscriber only competition) Free entry (subscriber only competition)
the contact details, etc, on p1, and your poem on the second page.
I enclose my entry fee (cheques/postal order payable to Warners Group I enclose my entry fee (cheques/postal order payable to Warners Group
All manuscripts: Receipt of entries will be acknowledged if
Publications) OR I wish to pay my entry fee by: Publications) OR I wish to pay my entry fee by:
accompanied by a suitably worded stamped and addressed postcard.
o Maestro o Delta o Visa o Access o Mastercard o Maestro o Delta o Visa o Access o Mastercard
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. CARD NUMBER ................................................................ CARD NUMBER ................................................................

4 Competition Judging VALID FROM........................EXPIRY DATE ..................... VALID FROM........................EXPIRY DATE .....................
Competition judges will be appointed by Writing Magazine and the
judges decision will be final with no correspondence being entered into.
ISSUE NUMBER ................................................................. ISSUE NUMBER .................................................................

SECURITY NUMBER .......................................................... SECURITY NUMBER ..........................................................

5. Notification
Winners will be notified within two months of closing date after which
CARDHOLDER NAME ...................................................... CARDHOLDER NAME ......................................................
date unplaced entries may be submitted elsewhere. Winning entries
may not be submitted elsewhere for twelve months after that date
SIGNATURE ....................................................................... SIGNATURE .......................................................................
without permission of Writing Magazine who retain the right to publish
winning entries in any form during those twelve months
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JULY 2016
2015 107

p107 comp rules.indd 107 21/06/2016 09:25


Writing JEMMA
and my characters and then spend time
on the research before formally plotting

day out the story mapping out key events

or ideas for each chapter, and fleshing
out each character. Its only then, once
Ive inhaled all of this, so to speak, that
I take a breath and put the first words
to paper. Having planned intensively
however, one of things I love most about
The writer and journalist sits the whole process is when
at her grandfathers old desk I am surprised by my own
and explores complex issues characters, or when the story
suddenly takes a tangent
of love and identity, she tells
that wasnt in the original
Lynne Hackles plan. Often that feels like a

moment of revelation, and is
emmas days begin early. Around where the most interesting
5am, she says. When one of the aspects emerge.
kids decides its morning. On a Since After Before was
school day, Im then with them published Ive been involved
until Ive dropped the eldest at in a wide range of events
school (the youngest is only two book signings, literary
and still at home), and I sit down at festivals, talks, and interviews
my desk by 9am. I then write until with press. One of the
3pm, stopping for school pick up highlights was appearing on
and delicious afternoons of family BBC News Meet The Author
time. Very often I pick up again in with Nick Higham. And
the evenings after bedtime and write was my debut as a novelist, and during Jewish Book Week I
for another hour or two. Before I had Chains of Sand was released exactly was on a panel with Ayelet
children, I used to write all day, but two years to the day later. Gundar-Goshen. We spoke about our
now with restricted hours and the Chains of Sand was brewing for a new books which share a number of
imperative to get things done in that very long time and confronts some themes. These bursts of interaction and
limited time, somehow the words come ideas that are important to me. Set collaboration are hugely rewarding and
faster. What is harder, is not having against the backdrop of the 2014 a little strange to shift from thinking
excess time in which to daydream. I conflict between Israel and Gaza, the silently and engaging only inwardly with
used to go to cafes, or on long walks, story traces the parallel journeys of two your characters and ideas, to suddenly
just thinking, or listening in to peoples men: Udi, a 26-year-old Israeli whos LISTEN talking about them with people who
conversations, and often that would been in a combat unit of the IDF and have their own take on what was once
be where the spark of an idea would wants to emigrate to London; and a merely a part of yourself.
to listen to an
begin. These days the spark might similarly aged British Jew who wants extract from
come when Im laden with Lego and to move to Tel Aviv. Alongside this is After Before Website:
paint, and its a challenge to hold those a third strand of the narrative a tale
nuggets in the mind to explore later. of forbidden love set in Jerusalem a TAP HERE Jemma Waynes debut novel,
Ive learned to cope with decade earlier between a Jewish girl and to buy the After Before, was longlisted for the
interruptions through necessity. I like an Arab Israeli. Through many voices book from Baileys Womens Prize for Fiction. Her
my children to see me working, to see and eyes, the book explores notions of Audible latest novel Chains of Sand, published
me being disciplined about it, but also truth, identity, and the struggle of four by Legend Press, is out now
always to feel that they can access me, families dealing with the
that they are my priority. Consequently, prospect of letting their children
they are very often careering in and out sacrifice everything they know, for MY WRITING PLACE
of my office. everything they want.
I usually spend 10-20 minutes I love the research side of the My grandfathers oak desk that was given to me
at the start of a writing session process the reading, interviewing and when I was fifteen is a place of inspiration. Its full
replying to emails, reading articles, observing, filling pads with information, of cubby holes and little drawers. I remember it
looking around the web. Its a kind ideas and vague scribblings that may sitting in his house bedecked with sheets of music,
of transition period and helps switch become key events. For Chains of Sand I manuscripts, and jars of perfectly sharpened pencils.
On a shelf theres a small, china egg, running an
focus from real life to writing. spoke to a number of IDF soldiers, over
ornament given to me by my father when I was a
My first book Bare Necessities was Skype or in person, and interviewed
child and wanted to be in the Olympics. When I see
non-fiction a light-hearted, anecdotal others from varying walks of life. I the eggs determined expression it makes me think:
survival guide to moving out of home scoured the internet and visited Israel. keep going, you can do it, faster.
and being a grown-up. After Before I usually have a rough idea of the plot

108 AUGUST 2016

p108 My Writing Day.indd 108 23/06/2016 10:00

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April 2016 - Writing Magazine 109

p109 next month.indd 109 21/06/2016 09:22


Lost for the right words when she reads a friends rst attempt
at a novel, Lorraine Mace nally nds inspiration

any moons ago I wrote it wasnt. It was poorly written, had
a column about people plot holes so deep its a wonder the anything else, she had achieved what
who would write novels hero never fell into one of them, and many say they will do, but never get
if only they could spare characters so wooden they could have round to: shed written a story. If I
the time. They fall into joined a puppet theatre. was honest with her, that would be
various categories, but the bottom line If her storyline was as good as the end of our long friendship. If I
is always the same. Writing is so easy she claimed, I knew shed ruin any wasnt honest with her, I would be
they could do it with their eyes closed chance of success by sending out doing her a great disservice, even if
whats the big deal? poorly edited work. I also tried she wouldnt see it that way.
One of my close (non-writing) (and failed) to convince her that I wanted to encourage her to
friends often told me she had a unique the big publishers rarely look at continue writing, while also

plot that would make a great novel, but unagented material, but I did pointing out a few rewrites
wouldnt tell me what it was in case I suggest I have a look at it to add conflict and
beat her to it. Why she would think before she sent it off. resolution would greatly
I needed anyone elses ideas when my Well, as long as you How on earth was improve the story.
brain is in danger of exploding because dont change anything, Sighing, I switched
of the plots already in there, I never you could read it, she
I going to tell her it on the television.
could understand. Any offer to help her said. Her tone of voice needed improvements There was a quiz show
get going was met with suspicion. In was wary, but new when she was sure on and they used a
the end, I gave up. So, you can imagine writers are often touchy snippet of an old black
my surprise when she told me shed about their babies. it was already and white film featuring
actually written a book. I took the manuscript a bestseller? Fred Astaire and Ginger
I managed to find a few minutes home and settled down Rogers. The question
here and there, she said, making it red pen to hand, but also