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How to Organise Your Manuscript using Word

A useful post here for anyone trying to get a large, unwieldy manuscript under control!
Thanks, Claire.

Claire Fuller

Writing a novel can be a big unwieldy task. You’ve written 40,000 words or 90,000 words and you really need to know when you your protagonist sneezed for the first time, or when the octopus escaped, or when you last mentioned that minor character. It’s hard to keep track of it all, especially if you write in Microsoft Word as I do. It’s also hard to move quickly around a big document, as well as reordering chapters and scenes. But there is a part of the programme which should help: the Navigation Pane.

Yes, Scrivener – software designed for writers – will help with all this too, but I didn’t get on with it. If anything it was too complex and it too took long to get to know all its bells and whistles. I’ve written nearly all of my five novels (fifth finished recently) in Word. And I use…

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CreateSpace and KDP Are Merging

I’ve posted previously about facility to publish paperbacks on Amazon KDP as well as Createspace and the pros and cons of each one. Now you no longer have to make that decision, Createspace and KDP are merging. Chris McMullen has written a very informative article on this. I’m re-blogging it here so that you have the full story. Thanks, Chris!



It’s a logical business decision.

The one significant change has to do with when royalty payments are made. See the section entitled Royalties towards the end of this article.

In 2008 I published my first book with CreateSpace, and in 2009 I published my first Kindle eBook.

When I was learning about publishing with Kindle, I asked myself the following question:

Why does Amazon use a different company for publishing eBooks than it does for publishing paperbacks?

It seemed like it would be convenient for authors and cost-effective for Amazon to have a single self-publishing service.

This is finally happening in 2018.

This is the way it should be, and should have been all along.


It benefits authors for CreateSpace to merge with KDP.

  • It’s convenient to check royalty reports at a single location.
  • It’s convenient to have a single account…

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128 Words To Use Instead Of “Very”


Can Creative Writing be Taught?

I was telling a writing friend of mine about my PTLLS (Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector) course, she made various encouraging noises and supportive comments but then she asked that awkward question, “But do you think creative writing can be taught or is it a natural talent?”

That made me think. There’s no doubt that some people have a natural flair for grabbing ideas out of nowhere and turning them into wonderful finished pieces. Others put in hours at the PC but have very little success. But that’s true of many creative skills, such as playing a musical instrument, painting or drama.

Lots of us do believe that at least certain aspects of creative writing can be taught – just think of all the courses advertised in the writing magazines and the many, many more advertised only in their own locality.

Personally, I believe that it is possible to teach someone how to structure a story, how to edit their work and write ‘tighter’, how to pitch an article to an editor, how to give that article an arresting opening, the mechanics of writing a haiku or a limerick and much more. I believe this because these are all skills that I’ve learned over the years.

Maybe it’s not possible to teach someone to see the poetic value of a sunset or imagine themselves into a character’s head. Or maybe it is, if you give them enough practice and constructive feedback.

Perhaps I’m biased because one day in the future I hope to teach Creative Writing. What do the rest of you think?



Review of ‘The Museum of Fractured Lives’ by Sally Jenkins

I wanted to share this timely review of ‘Museum’ by Charlie Britten. It’s wonderful how bloggers, writers & readers all support each other. Thanks Charlie! The Museum e-book is only 99p until Sunday 8th Feb.

Write on

Available from Sally Jenkins’ blog.

The Museum of Broken Relationships, Zagreb

The inspiration for ‘The Museum of Fractured Lives’  came from the author alighting – purely by chance – on the website of The Museum of Broken Relationships in Zagreb.  (There is a similar museum in Brussels too, by the way.)  In 2011 the Zagreb museum was the winner of the EMF Kenneth Hudson Award for demonstrating the most ‘unusual, daring and, perhaps, controversial achievement that challenges common perceptions of the role of museums in society’.  Now, I want to go myself!

Back to Sally Jenkins’ book, this very short work consists of a prologue, which takes the reader through how the Museum came to be set up, followed by what are, in reality, three short stories told in dialogue to the main character, and then a final chapter entitled ‘Last Word’.  The three short stories (Maxine’s Story, Karen’s Story and Pete’s Story) were…

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The Museum Of Fractured Lives by Sally Jenkins

The Museum of Fractured Lives has been reviewed by book blogger, Rosie Amber.


Paranormal Book Winner!

All the names went into a cereal bowl (not with the Weetabix!) and the winner was drawn.

It is … (pause for effect with camera close-ups of all the contestants to see how they’re bearing up to the tension) …

REBECCA otherwise known as Littlemerants and she is the author of the Pint-Sized Rants blog. Do go visit her and see if you share her opinions on erotica, sharks and reality TV.

Thank you to everybody that entered – it’s reassuring to know that I’m not blogging into a big black hole where nobody’s listening!


Poetry, Pictures and Andrew McMillan

On Saturday I went to Morley in Yorkshire to collect my certificate for the Friends of Morley Literature Festival ShortSally Jenkins - Morley Literature Festival Story Competition. It was a lovely evening which featured Andrew McMillan (not sure if he’s any relation to Ian) reading poetry that had been written for a special project undertaken in conjunction with the Literature Festival.

Four families in the area chose paintings from Leeds Art Gallery to hang in their homes for 3 months. Andrew went out to visit these families and talk to them about how they felt about the art works. He then used these conversations as triggers for poems. Three local schools also chose pictures to hang in their classrooms for a similar project but this time the children wrote the poems with Andrew acting as their mentor.

Andrew has a wonderful way of performing poetry and he brought the children’s colourful language & unusual ideas to life with his gestures, timing and strong regional accent. Similarly, hearing him read his own poems made them so much more vivid (for a non-poet like me) than simply reading words on a page.

So, to be a successful poet do you have to be able to perform with panache  and carry the audience with your words? Or can you succeed as a shrinking violet? I imagine that few people buy books of poetry these days and therefore a confident performance is essential to build a following.

The evening continued with a gig by the comedian Arthur Smith (of Grumpy Old Men). He was brilliant but surprised me by including poems (which he knew off by heart) in his act. My favourite was The Mower by Philip Larkin, which is a rather sad tale about a hedgehog.

Also – until midnight on Friday (14th October 2011) I am donating £1 to the RNIB for each new subscriber to this blog. Simply enter your email address in the box on the right – it’s free and you can unsubscribe at any time. More information is here.

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Competition Entry Fees

How much are you prepared to pay to enter a writing competition?

Entry fees can range from nothing to £10+ and if you enter a lot of competitions (which many of us do due to the dearth of short story markets) it can get very expensive.

In the June issue of Writers’ Forum, Sally Quilford writes that she thinks in terms of 10 per cent i.e. if the entry fee is £5 then she expects the first prize to be over £50.

Personally, I prefer a smaller percentage ratio given the large amount of entrants that most competitions attract – if I’m paying £5 then I’d like the first prize to be £100. However, if the money is going to charity or a critique of each entry is included in the fee then I am happy to make an exception and pay more.   

Paying a fee to enter a competition does sharpen the mind. If I’m paying for entry then I won’t send an existing story that ‘almost’ fits the requirements  – I will write a new one that fully embraces the theme of the competition and, as far as I can tell, fits the style required.

But there’s nothing to beat the gay abandon induced by free competitions with email entry.  There is literally nothing to lose with these comps (not even the price of a large letter stamp and A4 envelope). It is a terrible shame not to enter them – so if there’s no time to write something new then I dig an old story out of the archives and give it a quick polish.

Yesterday I did just that and sent an entry in to this competition:

Write a story for bedtime – this is sponsored by A. Vogel Herbal Remedies and it is an Adult bedtime story they are after (no, not that sort of adult). The story must be between 1500 and 3000 words and four prizes will be awarded – 1st: £500, 2nd: £300, 2 x 3rd: £100 each. Additionally, there is an extra £50 to be had if your entry is chosen as ‘Story of the Month’.

Womag writer Della Galton is one of the judges and ‘due consideration will be given by the judges on the appropriateness of the short story for bedtime’. The current ‘Story of the Month’ is written by one of the judges and fits neatly into the Womag mould with a nice, happy ending.

Closing date is 28th October 2011.


The Versatile Blogger Award

Versatile Blogger AwardMany thanks to Susan Jones for sending me this great award!

The rules of the award state that I have to tell you 7 things about myself and then pass the award on to 7 more deserving bloggers. So here goes!

  1. I am a campanologist (church bellringer) and have rung 2 peals in my ringing career (a peal is 3 hours of non-stop ringing).
  2. I’ve been writing on and off for around 17 years but only started taking it more seriously two and a half years ago when I teamed up with my writing buddy Helen Yendall.
  3. I have run 2 Half Marathons (both in Birmigham – 2008 & 2010) – I think they were the result of some sort of panicky mid-life crisis!
  4. In my day job I am a computer programmer – so often don’t fancy writing in the evening when I’ve stared at a computer screen all day.
  5. I love watching ‘murder’ drama serials on TV such as Midsomer Murders, Waking the Dead, Silent Witness etc. If you throw in some red wine and dark chocolate then I’m really in heaven!
  6. On William & Kate’s wedding day I attended (& helped organise) my first ever street party. It was great fun and our road is now looking forward to another for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee next year.
  7. I love routine! All the bank holidays over the last few weeks have played havoc with my writing time so now I’m looking forward to getting back to normal!

Next week I’ll announce the 7 worthy blogs that I’m passing this award on to.