Posts Tagged People’s Friend

An Update on Me

What’s been going on in my writing life recently?

At the end of June I completed the second round of agent edits on my current WIP and submitted the manuscript again. Over the last few weeks I’ve been biting my nails while I wait to hear if more work is needed or whether the novel has reached the standard for submission to publishers. You may remember that a previous manuscript went out to publishers a couple of years ago but failed to sell.

While I wait for the verdict I’ve found it difficult to get back into fiction (a new novel or short stories), so I’ve been doing bits and pieces of non-fiction writing.

I’ve taken the opportunity to update Kindle Direct Publishing for Absolute Beginners. The book was first published back in 2014 and has consistently been one of my best-sellers. Every year or so, I’ve re-read it and made changes/additions/deletions to reflect the ever changing landscape of self-publishing on Amazon in both Kindle and paperback format. It contains lots of useful information if you’re thinking of self-publishing for the first time.

I’ve also written a few articles for The People’s Friend. The hardest part of this (like any writing, I think) is generating ideas that are appropriate to the readership and haven’t already been covered in the magazine before. The magazine holds weekly editorial meetings and so I usually get a ‘yes’ or, more likely, a ‘no’ on ideas quickly. The downside is it’s no longer possible to earn any ALCS money on articles or short stories published in the magazine.

In June I had my first post-lockdown holiday. My husband and I walked the first five stages of the Cost to Coast. We started at St Bees and finished at Kirkby Stephen five days later. Physically it was much more difficult than we’d envisaged but great to finally get away. I took notes along the way and am currently turning those notes into a short e-book. It will be partly a personal experience narrative and partly resources for those planning to do the walk themselves. If you enjoy walking (or are just nosy about what other people get up to on their holidays) watch this space!

Finally I’ve recently got into the crime novels of Jane Harper. Jane was born in the UK but now lives in Australia. Her novels are set in the Australian outback which gives them quite a different feel to more urban murder stories. I started with The Lost Man and am now half-way through The Dry. In 2014 a short story submitted by Jane was included in the Big Issue’s annual Fiction Edition. This inspired her to pursue creative writing more seriously. Big things from little acorns grow!

Kindle Direct Publishing for Absolute Beginners

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An Update on Me

I’ve been rather quiet about my own literary endeavours of late, so here’s a quick update.

Cup Cakes

Pre-Covid Memories from March 2020

At the beginning of February the first three chapters and synopsis of last year’s NaNoWriMo manuscript generated a call for the full manuscript from my agent. Since then I’ve been working on bringing the rest of the manuscript up to scratch. Today I pressed ‘send’ and now have around six weeks to wait for the verdict. 

I’ve also completed a training course (via Zoom) to become a Shared Reading Group Leader. I’m looking forward to the end of restrictions and the opportunity to get a real-life group started.

So what do I do while I wait for the above two things to come to fruition? I’ve made a little list of possibilities. They won’t all get done but, hopefully, the list will mean I don’t waste too much time procrastinating:

  • Complete article commissioned by The People’s Friend
  • Chase up pitches outstanding with other publications.
  • Attempt to win my way to the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School by entering their short story competition.
  • Publish my short story collections on Kobo when the relevant KDP Select enrolments end. This will involve sourcing new covers. Kobo cited the existing covers as a factor in stopping the books being accepted into their promotions. 
  • Investigate whether I have enough short stories to publish another collection.
  • Revisit the categories/keywords on my existing KDP publications.
  • Update Kindle Direct Publishing for Absolute Beginners.

Watch this space to find out how I get on!

What’s everyone else working on? Are you a list-person or do you just go where the whim takes you?

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Swanwick 2014

Just back from my ‘white badger’ week at Swanwick (first time visitors are given a white name badge and everyone else gets a yellow one).

There was a packed program plus lots of friendly people to meet. After all that ‘busyness’ and chatter the following points stick in my mind:

  • Three great talks from People’s Friend fiction editor, Shirley Blair. She told us a lot about the magazine’s requirements and how to improve our chances of success, including the fact that 3,000 to 4,000 word stories are particularly needed and that the magazine is willing to ‘push the boundaries’ on some of their previously taboo subjects.
  • Tips on novel editing from David Hough, including the advice to get the novel printed as a proof paperback at Lulu.com for the final read through – seeing the manuscript in this different format should make the errors jump out.
  • Meeting some of my virtual acquaintances ‘in the flesh’ for the first time and re-establishing contact with people I’ve met at other writing events and courses in the past.
  • The stress of creating an improvised play for public performance with only a few hours to prepare it.
  • The peace of morning meditation around the lake.
  • Never sit at the end of a table in the dining-room because you’ll have to serve the meal (and make sure everyone gets equal portions!)

Bead Roberts (who writes for the womags and is also a creative writing tutor) was one of my ‘re-establishing contact people’. She’s a lovely lady with a wealth of experience to pass on and is tutoring a weekend short story writing course in Leeds on the 26th to 28th September at Weetwood Hall (a great venue – I went there last year). Details can be found on the Relax and Write website.

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Old Friends – 13 Coffee Break Stories

Coffee, cake and a chance to unwind for a few minutes with an absorbing story – who can say no?Old Friends - 13 Coffee Break Stories

So choose your favourite caffeine fix – latte, cappuccino, mocha ….

And which cake do you fancy? Lemon drizzle, chocolate fudge or fruit cake?

If you’re sitting comfortably, then I’ll begin.

Or I would if this was a ‘real’ instead of a virtual book launch. Then I could have the pleasure of meeting you all in the flesh and thanking you for all the support and positive comments about my first e-anthology. Plus I could read you one or two stories from the newly released Old Friends.

Instead I’ll just tell you about my second book and then you can visit Amazon and ‘Look Inside’ or download the sample to get a real flavour of it…

Old Friends contains 13 short stories that have previously appeared in My Weekly, People’s Friend and The Weekly News. I’ve included tales with a twist, stories about the ups and downs of family life plus, of course, a little romance.

I hope this collection will bring a little escapism to your coffee break!

It’s available from Amazon.UK and Amazon.COM at the introductory price of 77p/$1.19.

Or find it on all other Amazon sites by searching for ASIN B00BJIKIBI.

I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed putting it together.

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The Museum of Broken Relationships

I was leafing through the Independent on Sunday and came across a travel article on Zagreb. It mentioned the Museum of Broken Relationships which immediately fired my writer’s imagination.

The museum contains exhibits that each recall the breakup of a relationship. Each object is accompanied by a narrative telling its story such as:

  • A lover’s mobile phone, given to the girlfriend he’d just broken up with, so that she couldn’t call him anymore
  • An axe that was used on the furniture of an unfaithful partner
  • A garden dwarf that was thrown at an ex’s windscreen on divorce day

The place sounds like a building full of writing prompts with a whole wealth of relationship stories, just waiting to be written. There’s a cafe there too – so somewhere to sit and jot down notes whilst enjoying  mulled wine and pepper cookies (the house specialities according to the website).

The museum also accepts new exhibits from people wishing to get rid of stuff that reminds them of a painful breakup. What would your hero or heroine donate?

Look out for the museum’s touring exhibitions, there was one in Lincolnshire earlier this year and one in London in 2011 – if only I’d known I could’ve collected enough ideas to last a lifetime! Instead I’ll have to save up for a flight to Zagreb …

 

P.S. I had an acceptance from People’s Friend this week – hurrah, a great way to end the year!

 

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An Acceptance from People’s Friend!

I had a lovely email from People’s Friend this week accepting a story.

The story was one of my favourites (you know how you get those sometimes – no matter how many rejections a story attracts, you keep tweaking and re-submitting because you think there’s something special about it and all you need to do is find the right market). This one started life as a competition entry and has been almost completely rewritten on its journey via Woman’s Weekly and My Weekly. Finally, People’s Friend asked for two lots of changes to make it fit their readership.

The acceptance email said it now had ‘the perfect balance of romance and emotion’. So all that remains is to recreate that same balancing act in another story!

I’ve no idea when it will appear in print – it’s gone into the magazine’s ‘story stock drawer’.

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Persistance Pays

Most of us have ‘favourite’ stories, poems or articles that for some reason have never made it into print. For some

Cartoon about a fortune teller contacting the ...

Image via Wikipedia

reason we particularly like these pieces but it seems no-one else does! Recently I resurrected a couple of stories which had unsuccessfully done the rounds but which I thought had a strong idea behind them.

The first was a ‘twist in the tail’ about a fortune-teller and was based on an anecdote that a work colleague told me. It was rejected by both Take a Break Fiction Feast and The Weekly News. I managed to distill the essence of the story down into just 60 words and emailed it off  to Real People, which publishes a 60 word story each week and pays £25. And finally my fortune-teller tale found a home! It was published a couple of weeks ago and now I feel that I can stop fretting over that ‘favourite’ and move on.

Similarly, another story, set partly in the early 1980s and partly in the present day, had flopped in a couple of competitions and had been rejected by Woman’s Weekly. It then also got turned down by My Weekly – but this time with a few words about why it wasn’t quite right. I took notice of the comments, reworked the story and sent it off yet again – this time to People’s Friend. This week I had an email from one of the People’s Friend fiction team saying that they liked the story, but also listing a number of changes that would be necessary before it could be considered for the magazine.  So now I’m editing the story yet again and crossing my fingers that when I re-submit it, People’s Friend will say ‘Yes’ and finally give my story a home.

So if you’ve written something you really love but can’t seem to get it accepted anywhere – keep trying. Persistance can pay!

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