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The Ten Commandments For Writing Divine Short Stories

July 31st, 2020

I’ve been wanting  to play God ever since I watched Bruce Almighty. I’m delighted to say the day has finally come. So, here is my Decalogue to write divine short stories.

1) You shall write

I can hear you shriek “really, Mr. God?” Although being obvious, it can be challenging. Write daily if possible, even just a couple of lines.

2) You shall read

Explore different authors and various genres. Learn from the masters. Above all (to me, at least): Ray Bradbury, The Illustrated Man; Stephen King, Everything’s Eventual. Read the rest of this entry »




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Christmas Ghost Story

July 24th, 2020

First, thanks to Colin for last week’s post. I loved the way he described his writing  journey. Some writers prefer to work in one genre only – and they seem to know instinctively what that is. Others, like Colin, want to try their hand at a variety of different genres and styles, coming back to what interests them when they feel it’s the right time and trying out new things when they are ready for a change. At the end of the day, it’s what makes you, as a writer, happy and provides the most fulfilment.

I know that some of you who are on our Creative Writing Course struggle to get copies of magazines that you can use to do your research – this has been particularly difficult during lockdown or if you are still self-isolating. Also, I’m not sure I’d want to hang about shops and supermarkets browsing their stocks of magazines (funny looks for picking up and putting back?) wearing a mask. Also, our overseas students sometimes ask where they can source magazines if there’s nothing available in their local shops. Read the rest of this entry »




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Stay On The Train

July 16th, 2020

When I was at primary school, I rewrote an Enid Blyton Noddy story from memory. The teacher, Mrs Gresty, insisted I’d copied it. I was equally insistent that I hadn’t and that’s when I knew that someday I’d be a writer, though it took another thirty years of writing many, many essays and reports before my first fiction appeared.

I sent a short story to the BBC, who said they liked it, but it read more like a play. So, and this was in the late 80’s and I was in my mid-40’s, I started writing for the theatre, here in Liverpool, with some success, cutting my teeth on Network Theatre, a socialist group performing at demonstrations, trade union events, etc. One of our members was also a poet, so I started to write poetry. Twenty years and two collections later, I found I was writing more and more narrative poetry, so switched to short fiction, getting short and flash fiction stories published online and in magazines and anthologies. Read the rest of this entry »




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Reading Around The World

July 10th, 2020

First, thanks to Esther for last week’s blog. She is, of course, absolutely right. If you want to make it as a writer  then you have to be prepared to persevere, and you can’t sit back waiting for results. You’ve got to keep sending work out – the more you get out there, the greater your chances of success.

When the ‘black lives matter’ campaign started I noticed that quite a few publishers and websites started suggesting lists of BAME authors. I had a look at some of them and felt that quite a few were little more than a token gesture. So, I’ve been thinking about some of my favourite authors – ones that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend – and here they are. There’s no one on this list that I haven’t read at least one of their books and enjoyed it. I just hope you get as much pleasure if you decide to try them. Incidentally, they’re not in any kind of order of preference.

Rohinton Mistry ‘A Fine Balance’ was recommended to me by numerous people and it really lived up to expectations. But be prepared to shed a tear! Read the rest of this entry »




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Becoming A Published Writer

July 3rd, 2020

It was when one of my students had a reader’s letter published that the idea for my latest book started to take shape.

“It’s only a reader’s letter,” she said, “but it means the world to me. I’m published!”

For a few months, she’d been sending work out and either not heard back, or received a rejection. Understandably, she’d started to feel a little despondent and wondered if she was ever going to be published.

Then came that first moment of success. It was swiftly followed by a short filler being accepted. She emailed me a few weeks later to tell me she couldn’t believe the confidence that one reader’s letter had given her. She realised that she could write and now she’d had a few small successes, she wanted more and was going to work on some articles. Read the rest of this entry »




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