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Are You Considering Self-publishing?

February 28th, 2020

First, thanks to Esther for last week’s blog. I enjoy reading both ‘proper’ books and e-books.  As I’m sure I’ve said before, for me it’s all about the most cost-effective way of getting my hands on what I want to read, whether it’s physically visiting my local library, using their library app, browsing in a good bookshop or downloading a book from Amazon. But I do tend to have a preference for my Kindle when I’m reading in bed. As Esther said – less strain on the arms!

I know that even young children are now savvy when it comes to tablets and phones and there are so many channels on the TV fighting for their attention. But I still get a buzz out of the fact that my 14-month-old grandson loves his books. He likes nothing better than making his choice and then staggering over with his favourite picture book so that we can sit down and enjoy it together. Let’s hope it lasts. Read the rest of this entry »




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First Pages

August 17th, 2018

Before I approached agents, I worked on my first page until my eyes were bleeding; until the mere sight of it made me want to puke. I read hundreds of first pages and analysed them, trying to work out what made them good or bad – what made me either desperate to turn the page or happy to put the book aside. I must have re-written the first page of my book about a hundred times, and yet still when I read it now, I think it could be better.

So I thought readers might be interested in a distillation of my conclusions about what makes a good first page. I’ve also discussed these with my brilliant agent, Diana Beaumont, and she agrees. Get these things right and an agent will probably at least make it to page 2 of your manuscript! Read the rest of this entry »




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Lessons from the Past for Fiction Writers

November 22nd, 2016

colin's-book-blogLittle read today, Somerset Maugham was one of the most popular and bestselling authors of novels and short stories in the 20th century. He once challenged himself to write a short story about a totally good man. It is probably his least successful story.

There is a good reason for this. While most people are not villainous, neither are they perfect – or totally good. And characters in fiction are more interesting if they have weaknesses and, occasionally, are very bad. They don’t come much nastier than Hannibal Lector in Thomas Harrison’s The Silence of the Lambs, yet the character and the novel have been immensely popular. Regrettably, perhaps, goodness can be boring. Read the rest of this entry »




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Literary Summer Breaks

July 7th, 2016

buxton-blogMost people are familiar with the Costa Book Awards but since 2012 they’ve also been doing a Short Story Award.

In order to choose the winner, the public votes for six shortlisted stories that have been chosen by the five judges. You can download and listen to, or read, all the shortlisted stories at the appropriate time. I’m quite looking forward to this stage, as the shortlisted entries are invariably of a high standard and you can learn a lot from the way they are crafted. It also gives you a clue as to what the public enjoys and you might want to take this into account when you’re putting together your own entries for future competitions. Read the rest of this entry »




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Don’t Limit Your Potential

June 24th, 2016

Lorraine-Mace,-2-blogI’m delighted to have this opportunity to re-introduce myself as a tutor after a few years away following a bereavement.

For those of you who read Writing Magazine, you probably know me best as the columnist of ‘Notes from the Margin’ – the humorous final page. The reason I mention this is because I owe my long-running column (seven years and counting) directly to the Writers Bureau course.

I started my writing career many, many years ago as a student and only signed up because I wanted to learn how to write fiction for the women’s magazine market! Instead of starting with the fiction modules, as I could have done, I wanted to learn all I could about writing and elected to take the comprehensive course. As a result, every assignment led to work being published in a vast variety of magazines in several countries – and one of the assignments also brought about my first humour column in Living France Magazine. Read the rest of this entry »




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