Category Archives: writing tips

WLF – Worcester Lit Fest & Fringe 2015 – A Wrap!

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WLF&F logo concepts

Worcester Lit Fest 2015 has been an awesome 10 day festival! I loved it even more than last year, as last year was my first WLF I was boundless in energy and enthusiasm – so to say I have enjoyed this year even more is a BIG thing!

The programme had a great combination of events, some of which I was lucky enough to attend, others I participated in and a few I missed completely due to work and the fact that I live away from the city and don’t have unlimited funds!

 

DAY 1

As you know, as I was a finalist, the launch night was also a night of awards and celebration, for young writers, students of the university, Flash Fiction Competitors and the six poets brave enough to compete for the Poet Laureate position 2015/16.

This link takes you to my post:

WLF 2015 The Launch & Poet Laureate Final

WLF PL

The Launch Of The Festival – Poet Laureate Competition
And Young Writers’ Awards
The Guildhall, High Street, Worcester WR1 2EY
Friday 12 June – 18:30 for a 19:00 start
Join us for the launch of the Festival and watch 6 poets go head to head as
they compete for the title of Worcestershire Poet Laureate 2015.
Judges include: current Worcestershire Poet Laureate Fergus McGonigal,
Poet Laureate Emeritus Maggie Doyle, County Arts Officer Steve Wilson,
Young Poet Laureate Chloe Clarke and the Secretary of LitFest.
To open the event, we will present the prizes for the Young Writer
competition and the winners of the Flash Fiction competition will be
announced.

WLF Team – WLF Programme © 2015

Day 2

There was lots of activity on Day 2, most of which I missed as I was working for Writing West Midlands.

A wonderful workshop by Alison May – who has a new book out – details COMING SOON. We weren’t in the same library or I would have attempted to pop in.

Writing Workshop With Alison May
From Idea To Draft–
–Developing Character And Plot To Make Your Novel Work
St John’s Library, Glebe Close, St John’s, Worcester WR2 5AX
Saturday 13 June 13:45-15:45

Award-winning writer, Alison May, is a Worcester-based novelist and short
story writer. She ran a popular series of workshops for LitFest last year and returns this year for a workshop on Using Character and Plot to develop
your novel. The workshop is aimed at anyone who is working on a novel, or
has a strong idea for a novel they would like to write.
Alison’s debut novel, ‘Sweet Nothing’ was published by Choc Lit in
November 2013, followed by her first novella, ‘Holly’s Christmas Kiss’, in
December 2013 and a second novella ‘Cora’s Christmas Kiss’ in 2014. Her
short stories have appeared in Romantic Novelists’ Association, Harlequin,
Choc Lit and Black Pear Press anthologies, and she is former winner of the
RNA’s Elizabeth Goudge Trophy. Her fourth book, ‘Midsummer Dreams’,
was released this spring.  www.alison-may.co.uk

WLF Team – WLF Programme © 2015

I was fortunate enough to attend the evening event at Royal Worcester Porcelain Museum. Here is the link to my blogpost Poetry Wrap 6 scroll to the end of the wrap to find out about my night at the museum.BP Royal Worc

‘A Night At The Museum’
Ben Parker & Todd Swift – Poetry Book Launch
The Museum of Royal Worcester, Severn Street, Worcester WR1 2ND
Saturday 13 June – 19:00 for a 19:30 start
 Ben Parker From Porcelein
This book launch marks the conclusion of Ben Parker’s tenure as poet-in
residence at The Museum of Royal Worcester. Ben Parker will be reading
from a collection of poems produced during his residency, which will be
available for purchase for the first time. This event also marks the beginning
of Todd Swift’s residency at The Museum, and Todd will be reading from
his highly acclaimed poetry.
Ben’s poetry has appeared in a number of magazines, including The White
Review, Under the Radar and Oxford Poetry, as well as Lung Jazz: Young
British Poets for Oxfam. His debut pamphlet, The Escape Artists, was
published by tall-lighthouse in October 2012 and shortlisted for the 2013
Michael Marks Award.

Todd is a British-Canadian poet, publisher, critic and editor. He is the editor
of numerous anthologies; and has published eight full poetry collections. His
poems have appeared widely, including in Poetry Review, and Poetry
(Chicago). In 2004 Todd was the Oxfam Poet-in-residence. He blogs at
Eyewear and runs the indie press Eyewear Publishing. Todd’s PhD in Creative
and Critical Writing is from The University of East Anglia (UEA). He was
born in Montreal, Quebec.

WLF Team – WLF Programme © 2015

 

Day 3

Our Illustrious Crime Panel
St John’s Library, Glebe Close, St John’s, Worcester WR2 5AX
Sunday 14 June 18:00-20:00

Cally Taylor
“I know your name’s not really Jane Hughes…” (‘The Lie’ C.L. Taylor)
Cally Taylor loves a dark, twisted tale. She lives in Bristol with her partner
and young son. Born in Worcester, she studied for a degree in Psychology at
the University of Northumbria then moved to London to work in medical
publishing.

Cally worked as a graphic designer, web developer and
instructional designer over the course of 13 years and now writes full time.
Her first psychological thriller ‘The Accident’ has sold over 150,000 copies
in the UK alone and was one of the top 10 debut bestsellers of 2014
according to The Bookseller. She credits Roald Dahl’s ‘Tales of the
Unexpected’ for her love of dark tales.
“Claustrophobic, tense and thrilling, a thrill-ride of a novel that keeps
you guessing.”
Elizabeth Haynes
“An enjoyable rollercoaster of a suspense novel with multiple twists.”

Daily  Mail
“This dark and creepy book is a must read.”
The Sun
Sarah Hilary
Sarah Hilary has worked as a bookseller, and with the Royal Navy. Her
debut novel, ‘Someone Else’s Skin’ was the Observer’s Book of the Month
(“superbly disturbing”), a Richard & Judy Book Club bestseller, and has
been published worldwide. ‘No Other Darkness’, the second in the Marnie
Rome series, is out in 2015. The series is being developed for television by
the BBC.
“Impressive”
Times

“Stunning”
Mark Billingham

“An extraordinarily good debut”
Observer

Alex Marwood
Alex Marwood is the pseudonym of Serena Mackesy, a journalist who has
worked extensively across the British press. Her first book, ‘The Wicked
Girls’, was a word-of-mouth sensation, won the prestigious Edgar Award
for Best Paperback Original in 2014, and was nominated for an
International Thriller Writers Award in 2013. Alex lives in south London.

“A modern-day ‘Rebecca’, mixed with a suspense-filled Gothic novel and
served up with generous helping of wit – a real treat.”
Associated Press
“Fresh, sparky, funny and sadly poignant.”
The Big Issue

“Brilliantly observed … a gripping read.”
The Times

Clare Mackintosh
Clare Mackintosh is an author, feature writer and columnist. She has
written for The Guardian, Sainsbury’s Magazine, and many other
national publications, and is a columnist for Cotswold Life and Writing
Magazine.

Clare spent 12 years in the police, including time on CID, in custody and as a public order commander. Her debut novel ‘I Let You Go’ is a tense, emotionally compelling psychological thriller perfect for readers of ‘Gone Girl’ and ‘The Girl on the Train’.
“A terrific, compelling read with an astonishing twist that floored me. I
loved it and did not want it to end” ‘
Peter James
“A hugely assured and gripping debut and a twist that made me green
with envy”
Mark Billingham
“Absorbing, authentic and deeply unsettling: a stellar achievement, and
so deliciously clever”
Elizabeth Haynes
Following the Romantic Novelists’ Panel last year, this year we go into a
world of darkness and psychological chills and thrills from four crime
writers who look like butter wouldn’t melt…

WLF Team – WLF Programme © 2015

This event was well attended and received lots of rave reviews. It is one I would have liked to attend and a real bargain for a whole panel of experts. Shame I am human and had to pace myself!

Day 4

‘Sport and Spice’
Chris & Teresa Green    Anita Sharma-James
Bindles upper room, 55 Sidbury, Worcester WR1 2HU
Monday 15 June – 19:00 for a 19:30 start
Get sporty and spice up your life! Award-winning author and broadcaster
Chris Green accompanies his wife and business partner Teresa – one of the
first women sports editors in the UK. Teresa’s roles have included sports
editor at the Bromsgrove Advertiser, assistant editor at the Kidderminster
Shuttle and sports reporter/sub editor at the Sunday Mercury. Chris is the
author of five highly acclaimed sports books, including ‘Every Boy’s Dream
– England’s Football Future on the Line’, which was nominated for the
2010 British Sports Book of the Year.
Anita will give a live Indian cookery demonstration. Our fabulous local
expert will invite you to enjoy a mouth-watering Indian finger buffet made
to her authentic recipes from her wonderful cookery book ‘A Life of Spice:
Raksha’s Story’.

WLF Team – WLF Programme © 2015

I saw Anita Sharma-James at an event in my hometown a few years ago and only have interest in tennis and world cup football! This was a SELL OUT event though, they had to turn people away.

Meanwhile I was over the hills at another SELL OUT event with John Hegley and the Confab Cabaret team, who provided the FRINGE part of the Festival (Geographically) – definitely not with the billing or event – it was one of my festival highlights. CONFAB j2 Myfanwy Fox © 2015

John Hegley at Confab Cabaret – WLF & Fringe

Festival Fringe Events with ‘ConFab Cabaret’
John Hegley
John Hegley – ConFab Cabaret Special
Monday 15th June 20.00-22.30 (Doors Open 19.30)
Tickets £10 online (address below) or £12 on the door
A fun packed variety night with lashings of Spoken Word.
John Hegley will be headlining an extra-special ConFab
Cabaret. John performed on the streets of London in the early eighties,
fronting the Popticians, with whom he also recorded two sessions for John
Peel, and has since been a frequent performer of his words, sung and
spoken, on both local and national radio and television.
Tip top support will be provided by luscious lovely local Malvern muses –
Adrian Mealing, Amy Rainbow, Catherine Crosswell, Clive Dee, Myfanwy
Fox and Sue Thompson. With a fabulous audience poem and
added merriment from international circus performer Steve Kaos!

WLF Team – WLF Programme © 2015

 

Day 5

John Hegley did a workshop – which I missed because I was working and also because I am seeing him again in Ludlow and have booked the workshop there as it is on the same day as the event.

It would have been great fun – what I heard was all fabulous but I had asked people NOT TO TELL ME ANYTHING about it as he may repeat the same ideas in Ludlow.

I had Tuesday off from the festival, I was working and trying to write some new material and work on my editing too.

CONFAB J Myfanwy Fox © 2015

John Hegley – Workshop
Tuesday 16th June 10:00-12:00 (Doors Open 09:45)
Tickets £12.50 in advance online (address below)
After a night of ConFab Cabaret jollity, John will be up bright and early
delivering a 2 hour workshop.
This will be an opportunity to work closely with Mr Hegley using drawing,
poetry and gesture. John has produced ten books of verse and prose pieces,
two CD’s and one mug. An Edinburgh Festival regular, he is noted for his
exploration of such diverse topics as dog hair, potatoes, handkerchiefs and
the misery of human existence.
Places are limited. Please book now to avoid disappointment.
Both John Hegley events to be held at: The Harcourt Room, The Mount
Pleasant Hotel, Belle Vue Terrace, Great Malvern WR14 4PZ

WLF Team – WLF Programme © 2015

 

In the evening – Worcester Writers’ Circle took over with a Rubber Swordplay Event – where Mogs was awarded the Rubber Sword for his performance.

Worcester Writers’ Circle And Friends Present: ‘Rubber Swordplay’
St Swithun’s Institute, The Trinity, Worcester WR1 2PN
Tuesday 16 June – 19:00 for a 19:30 start
The gifted and humble members of Worcester Writers’ Circle and Friends
present a selection of their humorous stories and poems in an evening that
is sure to leave your sides aching. Mein host, Tony Judge, has once more
successfully brought together performers who are out to give you a laugh.

WLF Team – WLF Programme © 2015

Another event happening Tuesday evening was at The Commandery.

An Event Organised By The Battle Of Worcester Society
As Part Of THE CIVIL WAR NIGHTS At The Commandery
Anita Seymour – Civil War Novelist
Anita Seymour
Tuesday 16 June
19:00 at The Commandery, Sidbury, Worcester WR1 2HU
Tickets: £7 (From The Commandery Shop)
Anita’s first novels are ‘The Woulfes of Loxsbeare’, a 17th Century historical
family saga, the first two titles of which are, ‘The Rebel’s Daughter’ and ‘The
Goldsmith’s Wife’. Followed by ‘Royalist Rebel’, a biographical novel based
on the early life of Elizabeth Murray, Countess Dysart. Her latest release due in June 2015 is Murder On The Minneapolis, a Cozy Mystery set on an
Atlantic Steamship in 1900.

WLF Team – WLF Programme © 2015

Day 6

I was back in it, to see Adam Millard at 42 WLF Special – read all about it here

WLF 42 Special with Adam Millard

WLF 42 me1WLF 42 Adam

WLF © 2015

42 Worcester Festival Special
Drummonds Bar, The Swan With Two Nicks,
28 New Street, Worcester WR1 2DP
Wednesday 17 June – 19:00 for a 19:30 start
42 Worcester’s Festival Special this year sees the welcome return of Adam
Millard. A writer, mainly fantasy and horror, Adam’s whole life consists of
movies, books, and writing. He’s 31 and lives with his beautiful wife Zoe,
and son, Phoenix Justice. Adam has over fifty tattoos and smells of rich
Mahogany.
Who can resist?

WLF Team – WLF Programme © 2015

Wednesday night also saw another event at The Commandery.

‘The Crimson Ribbon’
19:00 at The Commandery, Sidbury, Worcester WR1 2HU
Tickets: £7 (From The Commandery Shop)
‘The Crimson Ribbon’ is a tale set during the English Civil War, exploring
the developing roles of women in an era of turmoil and change. The novel
deals with superstitious fear, injustice and persecution. Her central character,
Ruth Flowers, is torn between her desire for liberty and the need for utter
secrecy, for if people find out about the events of her past she is in mortal
danger.

WLF Team – WLF Programme © 2015

Day 7 – One week in!

What better way to mark it than a performance at SpeakEasy.

Read all about it here WLF – SpeakEasy with SPOZ & Brenda-Read Brown

SpeakEasy Festival Special
Thursday 18 June – 19:00 for a 19:30 start at The Old Rectifying House,
North Parade, Worcester WR1 3NN
Here’s your chance to read your short stories, poems, prose, try out your
performance poetry or music that tells a story. This evening is for you!

WLF Team – WLF Programme © 2015

WLF Brenda2 WLF © 2015

There were other events again at The Commandery

An Event Organised By The Battle Of Worcester Society
As Part Of THE CIVIL WAR NIGHTS At The Commandery
Chris Bryant MP – The Biography of Parliament

Following his election as Rhondda’s MP in June 2001 Chris Bryant has
served on the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee of the House of
Commons, as well as the Joint Committee of the Lords and Commons on
Reform of the House of Lords. From November 2002 to May 2007 he was
Chair of the Labour Movement for Europe. He is an Associate of the
National Youth Theatre of Great Britain and a member of the Coop Party,
Amnesty International, Amicus and the Fabians. Chris speaks fluent Spanish
and good French, lives in Porth in the Rhondda Fach, and famously
corresponded with James Blunt. His book ‘Parliament: The Biography
(Volume 1 – Ancestral Voices)’ was published in December 2014.
Thursday 18 June
19:00 at The Commandery, Sidbury, Worcester WR1 2HU
Tickets: £7 (From The Commandery Shop)

WLF Programme © 2015

Day 8

On Friday I took a day off from work and WLF to go to a workshop with Candy Royalle in Birmingham, which was magic! Meanwhile back in WLF the events continued.
ThreezAcrowd
Bindles, 55 Sidbury, Worcester WR1 2HU
Friday 19 June 14:00-16:00
Jan and Campbell Perry and Mike Thomas’s band will entertain in the upper
room at Bindles…don’t miss it, or you won’t be there!!

WLF Programme © 2015

Another exciting event on offer, that received lots of positive feedback was this talk and Q& A

Covert Operations! Cameron Addicott
Friday 19 June 19:30 at St John’s Library, Glebe Close, St John’s,
Worcester WR2 5AX

An undercover story…covert operator, Cameron Addicott, talks about his
contact with customs and the serious organised crime agency.
Cameron Addicott
An undercover story…covert operator, Cameron Addicott, talks about his
contact with customs and the serious organised crime agency.
Cameron Addicott is a former undercover officer with H.M. Customs and
the Serious Organised Crime Agency. In 2008 he left SOCA to travel the
world and write the first part of his memoirs. The Interceptor was published
by Penguin in July 2010 and went straight to number 1 in the Amazon True
Crime Bestseller list. The BBC purchased the rights to the book and has
been turned into a BBC1 crime drama series. Directed by BAFTA award
winning director Farren Blackburn. Starring OT Fagbenle, Robert Lonsdale,
Charlie de Melo and Anna Skellern star, with Trevor Eve playing the leading
‘Villain’. It is due to be broadcast on BBC1 in April 2015.
Cameron’s media work includes appearing as technical expert on Chris
Atkins’ C4 Dispatches documentary about the sale of personal data and
playing the ‘Spymaster’ who taught Jared Murillo on Strictly Come Dancing’s
‘It Takes Two’. His radio work includes Radio 4’s Midweek with Libby
Purves and Five Live with Richard Bacon. In addition Cameron has advised
on numerous other TV docs and has been interviewed on many local and
European Radio shows.
Fighting on the frontline of the war against crime, ‘Cammo’  was one of the
very few hard-boiled and highly-experienced surveillance operatives to get
called up to the secretive and elite Alpha Projects unit – a group of
dedicated undercover Customs officers who hunted the UK’s most
dangerous criminals by extraordinary means – starting with the interception
and decoding of their phone calls.
This talk will give an entertaining and informative insight into working
against organised crime. Topics covered include criminal motivation,
methods of intelligence gathering, cocaine production, plus smuggling and
money-laundering.
The talk will be followed by a lively Q&A session and a book signing.

WLF Programme © 2015

Day 9

Was my final day in the WLF and one I had been looking forward to – nothing to do with Jonny Fluffypunk! Oh, no! WLF – Jonny Fluffypunk & Offa Press Poets

Offa’s Poets And Jonny Fluffypunk
St Swithun’s Institute, The Trinity, Worcester WR1 2PN
Saturday 20 June – 19:00 for a 19:30 start

‘Thought-Apples’ is a collection of 25 poems by Staffordshire poet Bert
Flitcroft. They are philosophical, occasionally piquant, always accessible and
pleasing to the ear. Bert was born in 1946 and grew up in Lancashire.
Nowadays he lives near Lichfield, a retired English teacher.
David Bingham’s debut collection from Offa’s Press, ‘The Chatter of
Crows’, includes impressive Japanese-influenced haibun and haiku, which
amuse and intrigue in equal measure. David lives in Ironbridge, Telford, is a
retired Humanities teacher and has a Diploma in Creative Writing from
Birmingham University. He’s currently editor of Blithe Spirit magazine.
‘Good on the page and good on stage’ are Offa’s Poets’ watchwords.
Jonny Fluffypunk
And…the unforgettable ‘economic refugee’ from the Home Counties
returns to LitFest. Stand-up poet, sit-up storyteller and give-up musician

Jonny Fluffypunk has been dragging his art around the poetry, comedy and
alternative cabaret circuits for over 10 years. A multiple slam champion who
hates competition in the arts and an outspoken voice for anarchy, peace and
bicycles, Jonny’s a favourite with LitFest audiences. His ‘Sustainable
Nihilists’ Handbook’ is published by Burning Eye, and he is currently
touring his no-fi stand-up spoken word show ‘Man Up, Jonny Fluffypunk –
One Man’s Struggle with Late-Onset Responsibility’ to rousing acclaim.
An evening not to be missed!

WLF Programme © 2015

WLF jonny WLF © 2015

My final event was to celebrate Summer Solstice/ Midsummer’s Eve – with poets, bugs and torchlight! WLF – Summer Solstice Walk

LitFest Solstice Walk – a fabulous freebie
Starting around 10:30pm Saturday 20 June
Join us for a spookily fun walk around Worcester’s famous waterside for the
Summer Solstice – this year we’re keeping it local – the walk will be along
the banks of the River Severn. Starting outside Cripplegate Park gates on the
St John’s side of Worcester Bridge at 10:30(ish) Saturday 20 June, following
the Jonny Fluffypunk / Offa’s Poet gig. We’ll bear health and safety in mind
and ask everyone to bring a torch and wear stout shoes / boots and warm
clothing.
The route will be along the riverside to Diglis Lock and encompass the
Diglis basin marina area. There will be poetry and prose performances along
the route to entertain you.
Start time 10.30pm – finish anticipated just after midnight.

WLF Programme © 2015

This was a fabulous, magical event, unique.

Day 10

The end of the Festival – marked with the traditional (now in it’s 5th year) Double Whammy Slammy

LitFest ‘Double Whammy Slammy’! and end of fest party
PLUS The BIG FAT RAFFLE Draw!
Sunday 21 June
Drummonds Bar, The Swan With Two Nicks,
28 New Street, Worcester WR1 2DP
Flash Fiction Slam: 18:00-18:30
Poetry Slam: 19:00-21:30     
Come, watch and vote for flash fiction aficionados who will perform their
short, short stories. Last year’s winner Rod Griffiths may be competing
again! You could be the second Worcestershire Flash Fiction Slam
Champion. To take part in the flash fiction slam write your flash fiction (a
short, short story, up to 300 words) and turn up on the night to read it!
And…the grand finale! Come, watch and vote for competing poets in the
final event of the 2015 Worcestershire Literary Festival in the legendary
poetry slam championship.  Participants will vie for the chance to become
the fifth Worcestershire Poetry Slam Champion. Previous champions:
Fergus McGonigal, James Dolton, Alison Absolute and, last year Brenda
Read-Brown.

WLF Programme © 2015

The Poetry Slam winner this year is Peter Wyton, who will perform at next year’s Worcester Lit Fest SpeakEasy as a headliner, Math Jones came 2nd (for the 3rd year) and congratulations to Suz Winspear (runner up Poet Laureate) and 3rd in the Poetry Slam and Leena Bachelor who was trying out slamming for the first time!

Andrew Owens won the Flash Fiction Slam. Well done to everyone who was brave enough to take part and for those strong performers who did BOTH slams.

WLF Heather WPL WLF © 2015

Last but not least congratulations to the small and mighty WLF team! Superb festival WLF 2015 – thank you!

Plot Block – 6 TIPS to Reboot Your Writing

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photo_9658_landscape_large Planning events in your plot and knowing your characters inside out is not always enough to keep writing block at bay. You know how it is, you have been working hard, the novel has behaved, the draft is going well and then… you get stuck, your characters need to help you out.

These suggestions may get your pen moving/ fingers tapping again. I would use them as a free writing exercise, rather than committing to it being a scene in your story – but if it fits and helps you drive your plot forward these are broad enough ideas to work or at least spark a similar idea which suits your novel better.

RULE 1: DO NOT BE AFRAID

Remember fear doesn’t exist and the worst that can happen is you throw another few hundred words in the bin.

RULE 2: JUMP

Choose one  – write.

Someone knocks on the door

A text message beep

There’s a power cut

A sensor / alarm goes off

 

RULE 3 YOU CAN MAKE ANYTHING HAPPEN

But be clear on what your character wants, what’s their drive? Aim?

RULE 4 PLOT GROWS FROM CHARACTER

Think about your main character, what do they want more than anything in the world?

RULE 5 EXAMINE GOALS AND HURDLES

Why can’t the character achieve this ambition? What stands in the way?

Can the other characters help? What are their goals?

These ideas should help you develop your story.

RULE 6: KEEP WRITING, IT WILL ALWAYS GET BETTER

pencil paper freestock

 

INKSPILL – How to Get Rejected – Guest Writer William Gallagher

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AWF circle

How to Get Rejected

Write badly. Thatll do it. But of all the reasons you will get rejected and you will, you know you will writing badly is the best of them. Its the most embarrassing, perhaps, and it may well shut more doors than anything else ever will, but its also the best for one key reason.

You can do something about it.

You can write better.

Now, it would be good if that were as easy as it sounds but your writing is under your control, or at least it is more than anything else. Focus on your writing and dont be thrown by things you cannot know. That sounds a bit Hallmark Card-like and we are all cut and bloodied by rejection but do this: control what you can control and bollocks to everything you cant.

Let me give you a fast example. I spent a couple of years as features editor on a computer magazine and I needed writers. I really needed them, I had money to pay them, I would search for them. And at the same time, I mustve got around 200 completely unsolicited submissions. Writers writing to me out of the blue pitching me articles. They should have been a godsend to me but they werent.

Of the 200, I commissioned 1. He was fine, Id have used him again if Id ever needed to go back to the same topic. Thats not the key fact here. The key is that of the 200, I read 7.

And not only would I do the same today, so would you.

Of the other 193, a surprising number were about fashion. I was on a computer magazine. Many were handwritten and, again, hello, computer magazine. Plus you can tell me youve got years of experience but if youre not typing your articles, no, you havent.

Equally, you can tell me that you studied my magazine but if you spell the title wrong or if you send me a 300-word article when we only ever ran 5,000-word pieces, I dont need to read your piece to know you cant do the job.

Writing is not a competition. Also, writing is not for you: it is for the reader. My job was not to read every piece and pat heads, it was to fill blank pages each month. Realise that, keep that in mind, and youll avoid rejections.

And when you are rejected, take it. You can grind your teeth all you like at home, just dont ever show it. Let it go because its already gone. Nobody ever convinced an editor that they have made a wrong choice by arguing about it. If that sounds unfair, compare it to this: nobody ever successfully used wailing to convince a lover not to dump them.

This ridiculous writing life we have chosen might be art, I hope it is, but it is also a job and it is also real. Youre not playing. And the sometimes great, sometimes deeply depressing fact is that most people are. So small things like being a pro when youre rejected really help you stand out.

William

©2014 Lee Allen Photography

©2014 Lee Allen Photography

 

William Gallagher’s Books on Amazon

See William Gallaghers scribbles books, Doctor Who radio dramas and the rest on Amazon

 

INKSPILL – Editing By Nina Lewis

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AWF Edit

This year I asked what you would like INKSPILL to support, editing was the focus.

EDITING

Good editing takes your writing beyond mediocre. A challenging skill to learn and as with writing, some people are better at it than others. If you have decided to self publish, a good editor can make a real difference to your manuscript. Proofreaders are skilled but editors know when the shape or feel of something is wrong or right and that equals sales for the writer.

Not everyone is working on writing projects with editors though and it’s hard to learn how to edit your work. Many of us spend more time editing than writing, it is essential to leave time in your writing schedule for the edit. Your writing, as you probably know, needs a few days (or even weeks) to rest and marinate before the edit!

 

TOP 10 TIPS

1) Finish Writing First

Now you may think this is an insane piece of advice as it breaks a natural pattern for many. Many of us edit as we go, I am doing it now. What this tip really means is keep it simple, deleting a typo or changing a few words as you get to the end of the sentence. It is natural (and good practise) to re-read as you write and you may see something you want to delete completely. Finish writing first and then go back to it. I sometimes use bold, italic or font colours to remind me where to look.

It is worth noting, I am not suggesting you attempt to write an entire novel without editing – although events like NaNoWriMo (you are not too late to sign up for 2014) encourage just that. To produce half a novel with no editing at all. A write or die approach. It is actually quite liberating, although the quality of the 50,000 words can vary.

 

2) Let the work rest

You should schedule time for the writing to be left as it is, with shorter pieces this may only be a few hours and with poetry I tend to write and re-write several drafts before the resting process. Saving all of them to file. Then leave it a day or two before starting the editing the process. With short stories this could be a week and novels longer.

The idea is it will allow you to see work through fresh eyes and should make the first level of editing (the slash and cull – yes you are going to be BRUTAL) a lot easier. Plus you will have strength to wield that sword now, unless like most of us, whilst your manuscript rested you carried on writing something else.

 

3) Slash and Cull

Become the slayer…. Costume on? Ready? Of course, a different wardrobe isn’t necessary, (although you could dress up as an editor if it makes you feel better). This first edit should be the easiest, you are looking for the big monsters.

The character that doesn’t quite fit, the chapter that is 7 pages too long, the description which needs to be tighter, plot holes, loose characterisation. You will be eager and fresh and should be able to tackle the manuscript with new ideas.

You may even enjoy this edit. I would advise with larger projects you do this chapter by chapter and even though you may have written in a different order it is paramount to edit in a linear way, chapter by chapter for chronology and continuity and also the reader experience.

As great writers have advised me – save each edit as new copy so you have the other versions to refer back to. Sometimes (especially beginner writers) can over edit and having copy saved may just keep the hair on your head!

 

4) Paper Wins

It is often easier to edit with a printed copy, physically reading and scribbling than to edit on the screen, even with new fangled editing programmes on the market. I know some writers who never use paper copy in this way, preferring e-readers or other tech. I find that I can spot things quicker on paper, it is how my brain was trained to read.

It can be useful to read it in its published form, which is why blogging platforms and emails often have a preview function. It is a good way to spot glaring errors including how the text will look on screen.

 

5) Have a PLAN!

You need an editing plan, just as you had one for writing. Section the manuscript, decide what to look for first, start with structure and content. What is known as ‘big picture’ editing. Find the chapters and paragraphs that need to be cut out, slash immediately. Find what works, have you missed whole areas of importance out? Do you need to write a whole section, chapter? Are there scenes that just don’t work, feel wrong, need a re-write?

Major cuts, rewrites and additions need to happen BEFORE you start polishing and editing sentences and changing words.

 

6) The bottom line is 10%!

Most of us are guilty of over-writing (this article was originally 1430 words)! We use more words than we need and our writing becomes weaker.

Do a word count and try to cut back 10%

Sounds impossible?

Look for these mistakes;

Repetition- trust your reader to get it the first time.

Un-necessary phrases, usually sentence starters such as I believe that… these can be cut and the writing will be stronger.

Despite everything we were taught at school, bin the adjectives. You needn’t use a whole string of them and if you have told us a character is shouting do we need to know how loudly?

 

7) Never Trust The Tech

By tech I mean our dear friend, the spellchecker. It will correct your mistakes but it is not a reader and will have no idea that when you wrote ‘she picked up the blank pen….’ you actually meant black pen. A grammar check won’t see this one either, but you can, so remember to use your eyes.

Other common mistakes our spell-check may miss are;

homophones, missing words. Sometimes your tech will have its own strange ideas about words, so make sure you are using the correct language setting and don’t just click OK to every suggestion.

 

8) Read Slower or from a different place

By now you will have edited this draft several times, you will know it. You will read what you think you see. It is so familiar it’s hard to spot any mistakes. Reading your manuscript out of order (providing you have numbered the pages) is a good proof-reading trick.

If reading out of order isn’t possible then remember how slowly beginner readers read. Read slowly. A good trick is to enlarge the font – you won’t see as many words on the screen or be able to scan read on.

 

9) Know when to LET GO!

When do you stop editing?

The time to let go is when you find yourself changing the manuscript, then changing it back again.

Most of us have ghost gremlins, even after we have submitted a piece of writing we feel ourselves filled with nagging feelings. Not feeling entirely confident until the work has been accepted.

Get used to this feeling.

Our perception of perfection may be different to the editor, market, it is something fictional, unobtainable… subjective… so let – it – go!

 

10) Pay

someone else to do it!

 

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One Day Away! INKSPILL 2014

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I am sooooooooo excited now! Like a child on Christmas Eve! This year’s writing retreat is going to be even better than the first event I ran last year.

The initial idea came when I found out about Iyanla_Vanzant’s Wonder Woman Weekend.

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I couldn’t afford to go, although it would have been a great event to attend, I decided I could facilitate my own special weekend in place of this and Inkspill was born.

This year, you not only have me but also three very special Guest Writers who have prepared all sorts for you to enjoy and DO! Yes INKSPILL is your chance to write and we hope that you will accept the challenge and join us over the weekend.

Thanks again to William Gallagher, Charlie Jordan and Heather Wastie, who all accepted my invitation in February to be part of this year’s INKSPILL Writing Retreat.

©2014 Lee Allen Photography charlie jordanHeather Wastie headshot

© Lee Allen Photography

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For those of you who simply can’t wait until tomorrow here are some links to INKSPILL 2013: Go play!

How to Write Short Stories

Getting Organised How to be a Productive Writer

Writing Comedy

Ideas for Writing Everyday

And much more – use the menu TABS at the bottom of the Blog – Find INKSPILL and then click 25th October 2013 on the sidebar calendar to begin!

INKSPILL Writing Retreat – Your Ideas Please!

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inkspill who what Last year I discovered a phenomenal weekend retreat that took place in the USA at the end of October – it was pricey even without the added airfare – so I decided to create an annual event of our own… something to build on each year.

INKSPILL was born! Inkspill tiny

One day you may even have to pay but for now it is FREE and just for fun. That is not to say I haven’t improved the programme from last year…. because I have – firstly I have other artists/ writers involved.

Last year I opened requests up to followers of my blog – so now *IT IS OVER TO YOU!*

  • What do you want to learn about writing? 
  • Which elements are weaker, where could you use a little support?
  • What have you always wanted to know (but been too afraid to ask)?

THIS IS YOUR CHANCE FOR SOME TAILOR MADE SUPPORT

Some of last year’s retreat posts are the most popular posts hit on this site each month and some have even been linked on academic websites.

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We will run the retreat over 2 days – you can join in real time GMT – or dip in and out as you wish. The posts will be pinned for the weekend and then available through using INKSPILL in the tag search.

 

INKSPILL – NOT THIS WEEKEND, BUT THE WEEKEND AFTER! 25TH & 26TH OCTOBER – WITH

NINA LEWIS

WILLIAM GALLAGHER

CHARLIE JORDAN

HEATHER WASTIE

I will posts their BIOs later in the week.

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FOR NOW LEAVE A MESSAGE ON THIS THREAD – WHAT DO YOU WANT TO KNOW ABOUT?

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Here Comes INKSPILL 2014

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For the 2nd year we are offering a FREE Online Writing Retreat at the end of October, 25th & 26th.

Please comment to register interest, it was helpful and fun for many writers who participated last year and some of the TOP POSTS each month come from INKSPILL 2013.

This year I also have some exceptional Guest Writers lined up for you all and it may be the final time we can offer this retreat as 100% FREE. Each year we cover different aspects of writing and also add a selection of Free-writing and observational activities of the workshop variety.

You can participate in real time (GMT) and follow the whole process over the weekend or just dip in and out of posts. You can link back to your own blogs if you think some of your followers may be interested and people can join in at any point over the weekend.

SO SAVE THE DATE – 25th/26th OCTOBER and come and join the fun.

Leave a comment or a LIKE if you feel you may be interested. This is by no means a commitment on your behalf, just gives me some idea of preparation.

INKSPILL 2014 will be posting requests soon.

Have a think: if there is a gap in your knowledge, something confusing you, a direction needed? You can ask us to look into it – after all it is YOUR retreat!

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25th & 26th OCTOBER 2014

 

Leave Time for Admin and Research

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Hopefully one day, you can add ‘marketing’ to the title listed.

The greatest lesson I have learnt since I relaunched into writing is that Admin and research take a lot of time and both are necessary. I have spent the past few days researching markets and scheduling writing through the diary around life and performing.

It has taken days… I tried an old trick I used to push myself with back in the days of a pile of office work. I worked out that in an hour I had (on average) covered about 5 websites, I basically tried to cover what I needed to find out in less than 20 mins a site, then less than 15, I couldn’t shave any time off this as I was also copying information into files on my computer.

I am only part way through my list and have, as yet, not actually worked on any new writing, which I am champing at the bit to do (eager).

I can now post a review of ‘A Night With Maya Angelou’ with links to Jordan’s review (organiser). I am also dropping in a post about ‘Off the Page’, Jan Watt’s official book launch, attended on Tuesday.

Go read, enjoy! jan benches

The Emotional Spectrum of Writing

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The Emotional Spectrum of Writing: Highs and Lows

People often comment about my energy, how I am able to attend and perform at so many events a month, how I write often, they see the shine, the sparkle, the bits you take out to share.

This blog is a writing blog, it is truth, it is highs and lows, rejection and success. Recently I have hit the kind of low with mental mirages, the times when the gremlins get in and you start to believe you are no good. Confidence sky dives and you begin to question whether anything you are doing has any value or worth.

I am not posting this to gain sympathy or to accept kindly a barrage of it will get better messages, feel free to respond, my intention is just this –

to SHARE THE TRUTH.

Part of the writing journey is to accept these lows and ride the waves through them, back into days when you are your own best friend and not your own worst enemy, when you believe in your full potential and recognise your talent and gifts. You will find higher ground again – so don’t give up.

Take a break but don’t give up.

journey This is a photo of traffic from our bank holiday weekend in Somerset. We did get there, it took 5 hours, much longer than it should have, we got there – because we just kept going.

Just keep going.

grayson_perry_vanity_spread1 This is a photograph of the Grayson Perry book I bought earlier this year, his tapestries took a long time to complete – they are incredible works of art for the content but also the act of creating the content.

If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well.

I had this quote on a tin as a child and I never really understood what it meant. I do now. It took many authors we know 15 or more attempts before successful publishing deals. The best tool is persistence, repeat, repeat, repeat.

Allow yourself time to feel down, then get back up and carry on. Keep doing what you do best and learn from it. Acknowledge the possibility that improvement can be made, if not send it elsewhere, you need to find a fitting home for your work. If it is rejected more than three times then it may be an idea to submit some different work.

Plan it – Map it – See it – Be it 

Make a new plan.

What will you do next?

Work out your writing schedule.

Do it!

Enjoy the results and if they weren’t the right results and you can’t enjoy it – repeat the above list, until you can!

© Sarah Wilkinson 2014

© Sarah Wilkinson 2014

Writing 101 – Day 8 Death to Adverbs

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Go to a local café, park, or public place and report on what you see. Get detailed: leave no nuance behind.

Thoughtful writers create meaning by choosing precise words to create vivid pictures in the reader’s mind. As you strive to create strong imagery, show your readers what’s going on; avoid telling them.

Today’s twist: write an adverb-free post. If you’d rather not write a new post, revisit and edit a previous one: excise your adverbs and replace them with strong, precise verbs.

The sin of telling often begins with adverbs. Author Stephen King says that, for writers, the road to hell is paved with adverbs:

The adverb is not your friend.

Adverbs…are words that modify verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs. They’re the ones that usually end in -ly. Adverbs, like the passive voice, seem to have been created with the timid writer in mind….With adverbs, the writer usually tells us he or she is afraid he/she isn’t expressing himself/herself clearly, that he or she is not getting the point or the picture across.

Instead of using adverbs as a crutch, rely on strong verbs to convey emotional qualities that imbue your writing with nuance, allowing the reader to fire up their imagination. Consider, for example:

“She walked proudly out the door.”

Remove the adverb “proudly” and replace it with a strong verb to denote how she walked:

She strutted out the door.

She sashayed out the door.

She flounced out the door.

Each example connotes the emotion with which “she” moved, creating a more vivid picture than “proudly” ever could.

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The restaurant was busy, only we could decide to go for steak on Father’s Day, of course neither one of us marks this day, so it was only by chance I realised. The plan was to do the Garden Centre shopping first and miss the lunchtime rush. It worked, well we got a table, the restaurant was still packed!

The man sitting on the table behind us was mid-sixties, his skin was the colour of tan leather and he had some fading old blue tattoos, the sorts you see sailors with in fiction. He didn’t look that impressed by either the food or the company, his wife (I presume) and daughter. His wife spent the first ten minutes jumping up to go and read the specials board to him as he frowned over the top of his glasses, perhaps he was ill or in pain and not just a grumpy old man forced out of his armchair on Sunday afternoon.

He hadn’t dressed up for the occasion, wearing an old, worn out, faded polo short and khaki coloured trousers, the sort you find in mail order catalogues, he had scuffed brown shoes on and nylon socks. He shuffled his legs under the table and then sat with his knees bent, his feet by the legs of the chair. His hair was fine and thinning on top, it was mousey brown.