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Putting the Emphasis on Non-fiction

June 9th, 2017

First, thanks to Sarah for last week’s blog.  I found it fascinating and very useful because, as you know, it’s becoming increasingly rare for small publishers to offer writers an advance. And if you do get one, it is often small (unless you’re one of those famous/infamous celebrities that can command a six figure deal). If you’re self-publishing, then you simply have to fund the full process yourself and in these cash-strapped times it’s not always easy. This is where crowdfunding can come in useful – but before you embark on anything like this make sure you take on board Sarah’s advice. It’s not easy, and you might find yourself spending more time raising funds than actually writing. You have been warned!

In the Writers Bureau Comprehensive Course we have a section on writing readers’ letters and fillers. Writing letters is pretty obvious, but some students struggle with the idea of ‘fillers’. At one time magazines needed very short articles that they could use to fill blank spaces on a page. Hence the name – ‘fillers’. This is no longer necessary, with electronic setting, as articles and photos can be re-shaped and re-sized so that they fill the appropriate space without any difficulty. Read the rest of this entry »




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Could You Be The Next Edgar Wallace?

April 28th, 2017

As usual, thanks to Colin for last week’s blog. I already knew quite a lot about Edgar Wallace – poet, crime reporter,  war correspondent, playwright, Hollywood screenwriter and director – but I had no idea that he was credited with being the author behind King Kong and co-creator of the first (and arguably the best) film. He was born into poverty in the UK – his first job, aged 11, was selling newspapers in Ludgate Circus. Despite being such a prolific and famous author who earned a fortune during his lifetime, he died owning millions! Read the rest of this entry »




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To begin at the ending…

August 25th, 2016

MikeGHeadshot-blogThe limerick can be a nifty vehicle for delivering a single, amusing idea (pun, quirky or satirical observation, etc.).  Writing one is at least a good poetic exercise.  Though much disparaged, in many specific cases rightly so, it is a poem in microcosm, and needs many of the standard features of a more ‘serious’ piece.

Economy, vital in both poetry and humour, is doubly important here.  If you start with ‘there was a young lady from . . .’, that’s nearly 20% of your word count squandered already, with nothing original said.  Such open-ended openings often fizzle out in a bland or contrived finish.  Edward Lear’s pioneering pieces seem to suffer this fate, although some are redeemed by those lovely illustrations. Read the rest of this entry »




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Meter In Poems Or A Poem About Meters?

July 14th, 2016

water-babes-2.blogThis week really is going to be a miscellany! A few days ago I received a letter from Scottish Power asking me to contact them to arrange to have a Smart meter fitted. I can’t say I’m particularly excited by the prospect as I’m already pretty thrifty with my power consumption (just ask my long-suffering husband as he sits shivering in his thermals and three pullovers). And my idea of entertainment isn’t watching what happens to the meter when I turn on the kitchen light and the kettle at the same time.

I’ll go along with it, though, as it means no more taking readings from our very inaccessible electric meter or getting an estimated bill. But I’m certainly not as enamoured of the old system as Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy. She’s been writing a poem in praise of traditional meters as she feels that memories of them should be preserved as they are phased out over the next few years.  At least even she admits that it may be one of her more unusual projects!  I’ll keep you posted. Read the rest of this entry »




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Bored With Football?

June 17th, 2016

football-blogLove it or hate it, the football is with us until 10th July! For some of you out there it will be the perfect excuse to put your writing to one side and not think about it again until the final penalties (if it goes to penalties) have been taken. For others, it’s the perfect opportunity to read more and write more. Let’s be honest,  there’s not much on the other TV channels to grab your interest – especially if you’re old-fashioned like me and don’t have Sky, Now TV, Netflix or any of the other subscription packages.

So, I’ve stocked up with lots of great books, bought myself some new gardening gloves and plenty of insect repellent for when I’m working outside in the evening. I’ve also got one or two ‘outings’ planned – without my husband, who’ll be glued to the TV. And it’s this ‘me time’ that I hope will provide some inspiration. Often it’s getting away from the normal routine and trying something different (even if it’s only a local trip) that gives you the inspiration you need to move forward with your writing. If you’re a football widow (or widower) for the next couple of weeks, why not try it? Read the rest of this entry »




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