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Fiction Writing Advice From Crystal Lake Publishing

Joe Mynhardt runs Crystal Lake Publishing in South Africa. He publishes horror and dark fiction in both paperback and e-book format. Fear the Reaper Joe Mynhardt

Joe’s put together some advice for horror writers but it can apply equally well to fiction writers in any genre so I thought  I’d share it with you:

  • Write
  • Read
  • Join a forum and participate in it
  • Read non-fiction books, especially about marketing. You’ll need it eventually.
  • Always be open and ready for opportunities.
  • Have confidence in yourself. Every small step becomes part of the bigger journey.
  • Have a story or two on standby at all times.
  • Write every day, even if it’s only 10 minutes.
  • Learn how to edit your own work.
  • Be as visible as possible on the internet.
  • Be professional in everything you say and do. Growing a tough skin goes a long way in not acting like an emotional roller coaster on social media. Think before you post on impulse!
  • Help others as much as you can, even if you just share or re-tweet/re-blog their stuff. Celebrate their successes with them, and don’t be jealous. One day you may be grateful for their help!
  • Eat, breathe and sleep stories, but take time to rest. Writer’s fatigue is no joke.
  • Take some time to just sit and think about creative things to do, whether they’re story or promotion ideas.
  • Don’t listen to negative thoughts. You’ll have off days when you’ll just have to ignore yourself.
  • Take care of your body, especially your back and wrists. Being an author is not a race, but a marathon that never ends.

If I had to pick out just two of those points as being the most important I’d go for ‘Write every day’ and ‘Don’t listen to negative thoughts’. What about you?

Joe is currently running a competition on the Crystal Lake Publishing website. First prize is e-book copies of the first seven books published by his company so far. Details are here. It closes 31/12/2013.

And do have a look at the brilliant covers on the Crystal Lake books – some of them are quite terrifying!

 

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Reading as a Writer

Last week I went to an event at Birmingham University where the novelist Helen Cross was speaking.

Cover of "Charlotte's Web (paper-over-boa...

Cover of Charlotte’s Web (paper-over-board)

Helen was explaining how becoming a writer had taken away a lot of the ‘magic’ she previously experienced when reading. She told us that the first book she remembers getting utterly enthralled in as a child was Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White. The book made her cry. Even after she’d finished it Helen spent a lot of time musing over the book and wondering what the characters could have done to make things turn out differently and more happily.

But as she’s got older Helen has found such connections with books becoming increasingly rare. She puts this down to the fact that she now ‘reads like a writer’, for example she is looking to see how the book is constructed and what sort of tricks the author has used to withhold information from the reader. Helen finds herself mentally ‘editing’ the book and deciding which passages she would cut or how the dialogue might be changed.

I found this rather sad. To me the joy of reading is escaping into another world – something that can’t be done if you find yourself constantly critiquing the novel. I do admit to being more aware of the difference between good and bad writing since I started to write myself but I can also take off my ‘writer’s hat’ and just enjoy a book for what it is.

But maybe one of the secrets of becoming a good novelist is to analyse everything you read, and thus learn what works and what doesn’t.

What about you? Do you read as a writer or as a reader? Can you still get emotionally involved in a book?

Finally, thanks to Sharon Boothroyd for alerting me to this opportunity at the BBC.  The next window for sending in material to Opening Lines – BBC Radio 4’s showcase for short stories is January 6th – February 14th 2014. They are looking for short stories that work well when read aloud i.e. with the emphasis on the narrative and not too much dialogue or character description. Stories should be between 1,900 and 2,000 words and only one submission per writer will be accepted.

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The Emma Press – Call for Submissions

Here’s something for those of you who are not neck deep in NaNoWriMo.

Emma Wright from the Emma Press has been in touch to tell me that they are currently looking for poetry submissions.

They would like poems on the following subjects:

  • Best friends (female) – closing date 16th December 2013
  • Motherhood/Fatherhood – closing date 16th December 2013
  • Homesickness and exile – closing 5th January 2014

For those who are successful, there is a one-off payment of £20 per poet.

The website contains a lot more information about the type of poem that is required and how to submit.  It’s well worth a look – it might trigger those writing juices. Full details can be found here.

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First World War Centenary 1914 to 2014

A ration party of the Royal Irish Rifles in a ...

A ration party of the Royal Irish Rifles in a communication trench during the Battle of the Somme. The date is believed to be 1 July 1916, the first day on the Somme, and the unit is possibly the 1st Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles (25th Brigade, 8th Division). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As you’re probably all aware, next year is the centenary of the start of the First World War.

I’m sure that as the date gets closer there will be a lot of publicity about the multitude of events arranged to mark the occasion.

There’s going to be plenty of opportunity for us, as writers, to get involved with this anniversary – as long as we don’t leave it too late to get started!

I’ve just done a quick trawl of the internet and found the four writing competitions listed below with a ‘war’ theme.

Also, don’t forget all the opportunities for magazine articles with a nostalgia or unusual factual slant.

Why not pick up your pen and have a go?

Remember all those men who gave their lives in muddy, wet, stinking trenches so that we might live in peace.

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Listverse

We all know that magazines love articles with numbers in the title, for example 5 Easy Ways to Lose Weight or 10 Things to Do in Paris.

Listverse is a website with a similar penchant for numbered lists. It publishes lists of 10 linked items, each article must have a minimum word count of 1000. The site pays $100 by PayPal for each list published.

The lists can be about absolutely anything and range from general knowledge and current affairs to the totally bizarre. Some of the titles I spotted were:

  • 10 Modern-Day Exorcisms
  • 10 Sets of People Who Were Switched at Birth
  • 10 Craziest Things Done by Philosophers
  • 10 Brutal North Korean Secrets
  • 10 Fascinating Facts About Bears

The site is split into the following sections:

  • Bizarre
  • Entertainment
  • General Knowledge
  • Lifestyle
  • Science
  • Society

There is such a wide remit here that I’m sure I must be able to think of something to write and send in but my mind has gone a total blank – except for that ‘To Do’ list waiting for me on the kitchen work top!

If you’re more inspired than me the full submission guidelines for Listverse are here.

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‘A Writer on Writing’ – Free E-book and a Call for Submissions

My non-fiction Kindle e-book ‘A Writer on Writing – Advice to Make You a Success’ is free on Amazon for the next five days (18th to 22nd June 2013).

Using my feature articles that have appeared in the UK writing press, I look at topics such as:

The self-discipline needed to write and stay focussed
A method of getting ideas
Tips on writing flash fiction
How to choose an educational course to help with your writing
Tips on writing anniversary articles
Tips on creating a backup of your work
How to decide on pseudonym
How to create a good first impression with an editor
Tips on starting a blog
The benefits of a writing buddy
How to write a novel in a month!

And remember, you don’t need a Kindle to read Kindle books. Amazon supply free software for your PC, laptop or other device here.

To get the book, click here for Amazon UK and here for Amazon.com. On other Amazon sites search for ASIN: B00C0GBRS6

Enjoy! (and if you do please leave a review on Amazon!)

Ride – Short Fiction About Bicycles is looking for submissions for its next short story anthology.

RIDE 3 will be published in print, as well as digital format.

The only requirement is that a bicycle or bicycle subculture must feature prominently in the story. Any genre, any gender, any length up to about 12,000 words, any setting, any country, any time period, any kind of cycling. The more diversity—of locations, cycling cultures, story genres—the better.

Payment ranges from $20 to $75 depending on the length of the story. Deadline is 31st August 2013.

The full details are here.

With thanks to Nick Daws for bringing this market to my attention via his newsletter.

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First Impressions Critique Service & The Writers’ Coffee Shop

Firstly, I’ve had some extremely positive feedback from Dorinda Cass on her short story critique, which I supplied as a prize a week ago on this blog.

She told me, “Your critique was helpful and insightful. I have no qualms in recommending your critique service to others.”

Therefore I am pleased to announce that the First Impressions Critique Service is now open for business.

The cost is £10.00 for a critique of a story or piece of non-fiction up to 2,000 words in length. Full details of what’s included can be found on my First Impressions Critique Service page. Why not pop over and have a look?

Secondly, The Writer’s Coffee Shop is currently open for submissions. This is an independent publisher based in New South Wales in Australia and it is also the publisher that first released Fifty Shades of Grey as e-books and print-on-demand paperbacks. I thought that EL James had initially self-published the e-books but according to her website, this was not the case.

The Writer’s Coffee Shop is currently looking for stories between 20,000 and 30,000 words (a good stepping stone from short story to novel?). The stories must fall into the genres of either romance or erotica. Stories can be emailed and full details are here.

Finally, I’ve had a couple of nice surprises in the past week. I was shortlisted in the Writers’ News ‘Pride and Prejudice’ Short Story Competition – I was pleased about this since I’d gone to the trouble of reading the book (for the first time) especially so that I could enter the competition.

And today I heard that I’d won a £25 Tesco gift card for leaving a comment on Hire Bloggers Facebook page. Hire Bloggers is a new undertaking that aims to match bloggers to businesses for paid work. Wouldn’t it be nice to earn money from blogging?

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