Archive for category Resources
The theme is ‘Fire’ and to get you started the Club has brainstormed a few ideas. Do any of the following inspire you to get writing?
Bonfire, house fire, barbeque, candle flames, fireworks, firing a gun, canon fire, lightning, brush fire, wood burning stove, coal fire, garden fire, firing someone from work, rockets, St Elmo’s fire, execution by firing squad, burning crop fields, smoke signals, brazier, fire pit, roasting chestnuts on an open fire, volcanic eruption, gas explosion, dynamite, cowboy shoot out, food smoker, sauna, assassination …
I’m sure there’s loads more ‘Fire’ related things to be written about. Grab a pen and paper and have a think.
The important thing to remember about this competition is that its purpose is to encourage new and less experienced writers. So entrants must not have earned £300 or more from short story writing in 2015. If you fit that category then this is a competition worth entering because you won’t have to compete with the ‘professionals’.
There will be three main prizes – £200, £100 and £50 – plus five runners up prizes and all entrants will receive a few lines of feedback on their story. The entry fee is £5 and there is a limit of 2,000 words.
The competition opens for submissions of entries on 1st February 2016, with the last day for receipt being 29th February 2016. (But don’t wait until February to start thinking about your story!)
If writing non-fiction is more up your street, you may find Alex Gazzola’s new e-book, 50 Mistakes Beginner Writers Make, useful. Alex, a writing tutor and journalist, takes you through 50 of the key errors new and aspiring writers may be making – and guides you towards putting them right. Worth a read if you want to write and sell magazine or newspaper articles.
I recently heard the book blogger Kim Nash speak in Leicester and she gave her personal rules for writing book reviews. This is what she said:
- Be kind.
- Indicate how the book made you feel.
- If reviewing on your own blog or website, always include links within the review to where the book can be bought.
- Don’t review a book that you don’t like.
- Share the review on social media.
Points 1 and 4 might cause some of you to raise an eyebrow. But I agree with Kim. If the book is a full-length novel, someone has sweated blood for months, maybe even years, to write it and the last thing they need is a kick in the teeth from a reviewer. So, if you can’t write something kind then don’t write anything at all. Similarly, don’t choose to review a book in a genre that you don’t like because you won’t give it a fair chance. With the Amazon ‘Look Inside’ feature it’s easy to get an idea of whether a book is going to be to your taste before you buy. If you notice formatting issues within a book, it’s kinder and more helpful to contact the writer direct so that the problems can be corrected, rather than point them out in an Amazon review that will remain on the site permanently, even after the errors have been corrected.
Remember – when you review a book, especially by a newish indie author, you are treading on someone’s dreams.
Kim also works for the publisher Bookouture and she gave a tip about doing a cover reveal. Apparently the best time for doing these on social media is 4:45 pm – this is when you’ll catch most people. Announce in advance that you’ll be doing the reveal at this time and make sure that the book’s Amazon page is open to accept pre-orders at this time too. If the cover provokes a reader’s interest, you want him to be able to order it immediately rather than have chance to forget about it.
Let’s have a drum roll … followed by a few oohs and aahs from the audience. Here it is, the moment you’ve all been waiting for, the cover reveal for my third e-collection of short stories!
Put your hands together for the cover of House Guests and Other Stories!
There are four different ways of obtaining an e-book cover:
- Design and create it yourself. Unless you’re a whizz at graphic design this can be very time-consuming. I give some advice on DIY (based on my own experience) in this guest post for the Writers’ Bureau.
- Use Amazon’s Kindle Cover Creator. This is very easy but the covers can’t be used on other e-book sales platforms and there’s a danger of them looking formulaic. I’ve written about this here.
- Use one of the cover designers on Fiverr.com. All services on Fiverr.com cost $5 plus a 50c processing fee (currently around £3.62). I’ve done this several times.
- Use a ‘proper’ bespoke cover designer. This will probably give you the best result but will also be significantly more expensive than the other options – meaning it will take longer to make a profit from e-books sales.
The cover for House Guests and Other Stories is from pro_ebookcovers, a designer on Fiverr.com. This designer worked differently to the others that I’ve used previously from the site. She asked for links to two e-books on Amazon with cover designs in a similar style to what I wanted (so I looked at short story collections that seemed to be selling well and had covers with a warm and friendly style). Then she asked me to choose a cover image from http://depositphotos.com (or I could’ve supplied my own). I chose something that I felt was vaguely applicable to the title story. The designer then downloaded the image and did the necessary fiddling to get it to the right dimensions and added the lettering.
I felt this way of working made things easier for both parties. I didn’t have to struggle to explain the type of image I wanted and the designer didn’t have to struggle to interpret my brief or spend time finding a suitable picture.
I recommend pro_ebookcovers and will use her again in the future.
So, back to House Guests and Other Stories. It’s a collection of fifteen short stories, many with a twist and most have appeared in either The Weekly News, My Weekly or People’s Friend. There’s also a couple of competition successes in there plus a special guest story by a prize-winning author!
I’ll reveal the guest author in a later post when I launch pre-orders for the book. I’ve never used pre-orders before and I’ve never had a guest author before so it’s exciting – watch this space!
Are you trawling through the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook searching for suitable literary agents?
Here’s a simple tip that was given at a writers’ networking event I attended a few weeks ago:
Start at ‘Z’ and work backwards through the agents’ list in the Yearbook.
Apparently, agents at the end of the alphabet receive fewer submissions than those at the beginning, therefore you may have a better chance of being picked up by an agent with a name beginning with ‘X’, ‘Y’ or ‘Z’.
This is, of course, in addition to checking that the agent deals with your genre, is open to submissions etc. etc.
Maybe worth a try?
Posted by Sally Jenkins in Non-writing, Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector, Resources on January 13, 2015
I’m currently doing the ‘Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector’ course (PTLLS). It’s one day a week for nine weeks and today was Session 2.
We’ve been taught that icebreakers are an important part of all adult education classes, whatever the subject. All the early sessions in a course should start with an icebreaker activity, so that participants can get to know each other and feel comfortable with their classmates.
Each of the eleven participants on my course has to run an icebreaker activity sometime over the next few weeks. I put my name down to go first because I hate things like that hanging over me. If it’s got to be done, do it sooner rather than later, is my motto.
So today I split the class into two groups and gave each group an envelope containing six cards. On the cards were written the details of two characters, two objects, a location and either the words ‘Happy Ending’ or ‘Sad Ending’. I asked the groups to create a very short story using the details on the cards. I stipulated that everyone in the group should contribute at least one sentence and each group should nominate a scribe and a spokesperson to read the story aloud. Then they had five minutes to get creative.
I was anxious as they opened the envelopes and got started. No one else on the course is a writer, their chosen subjects include Punjabi, parenting skills and dressmaking, so I wasn’t sure how they’d take to a writing activity. One group was slightly slower getting started until they got the idea of what had to be done, so I did have to give some extra time.
The two stories were read aloud and then I got feedback on the activity. Everyone enjoyed it and liked the fact that it was subject-related rather than just an arbitrary activity. And the tutor thought it went well. He added that if I used it again it might be worth having an extra card or two up my sleeve to throw at a group who finished early, to avoid them getting bored.
So far, as a class, we’ve done two other icebreakers:
- People Bingo, organised by the tutor. Every one has a ‘bingo card’ but instead of numbers it has requirements such as ‘someone who does extreme sports’, ‘someone who has a pet’ etc. The task is to find fellow course participants who fit the requirement and write their name in the space on the ‘bingo card’.
- Questions, organised by another participant at the session today. Everyone is given a sheet with a question on it, such as ‘What is your favourite food?’, ‘If money was no object, where would you like to be right now?’ We took it in turns to stand up and answer our question.
Anyone know any other icebreakers?