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Literary Vending Machines

August 18th, 2017

First, thanks to Elise for last week’s blog. It just goes to show how different writing for film or TV can be from writing a novel. In the former, you have to be able to produce something visual for your audience whereas when writing a novel you are providing the structure and the ideas which will allow your readers to use their own imagination to understand and visualise your story.

I read an interesting piece this week in Writing Magazine about vending machines having been installed on 35 French railway stations. But these aren’t your standard machines offering drinks, sweets and crisps – instead they provide short stories. If you get to the station and have forgotten your book, or don’t want to fiddle with your mobile phone, you can press a button and print out a story. And you’ve even got a choice of length – do you want a one minute read, a three minute read of a five minute read? (Don’t worry, if you’re train is delayed you can always go back for another as they’re free!) Read the rest of this entry »




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Ten Top Tips for Writing Short Stories and Getting Them Published

November 9th, 2015

Short_Story_TipsDo you ever finish a job and think: ‘Ooof – that was hard?’ I do it all the time, most recently with a story I (eventually) entered for the Aeon Award just last week. As some of you may remember, I started The Little People for a competition in Writing Magazine way back in September last year, but when the first draft came in way over the word count, I had to find a plan B, and this was it. Read the rest of this entry »




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How Long Should Your Novel Be?

October 23rd, 2015

goldfinch-blogIn last week’s blog I mentioned that if you’re writing a novel you might be better to break it down into three 70,000 word books rather than one long saga. Hook your readers in the first book so that they can’t resist buying the sequels and, in the long run, you’ll build up your reputation more quickly, make a better profit and, if you  have a conventional publisher, keep them happy too.

But there are still a lot of long books out there and I have mixed feelings about them. I’m always rather wary of short stories because unless the author is very good I often come away feeling unsatisfied. On the whole I prefer a good, meaty read that transports me into another world and keeps me there for long enough for me to feel I’ve become part of it and know the characters better than most of  my neighbours. Read the rest of this entry »




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The Third Way – Writing To Earn Money From Home!

October 19th, 2015

third.wayCome on now, let’s get our cards on the table. What, exactly, do we all want out of this ‘writing’ business? Worldwide fame and fortune like J. K. Rowling and Stephen King? Or literary kudos? Maybe one of us could be the next Arundhati Roy, or Lemn Sissay?

Well, to be honest, either would be nice. But the way things are, I’ll settle for a third option: staying home (so I’m here when the kids get back from school) with no ‘boss’ breathing down my neck, making a bit of extra money doing something I love – something I do anyway, paid or not.

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There Might Even Be Cake

October 9th, 2015

jan-halstead-blogNot all writers enter competitions, which is good news for those of us who do, because it improves the odds in our favour.

But, if other people aren’t entering, then why not? Well, let me guess. It’s a lot of time and effort, there are bound to be loads of entries and most of them won’t win, quite simply because not everybody can. So, all of those people will have wasted their time. Also, it costs money.

I can’t argue about the entry fees. All I can say is, stick to a budget. A few are free. Lots of them won’t cost more than a couple of coffees. Decide how often you can afford that. Read the rest of this entry »




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