RSS

Tag Archives: ideas

Short Story Saturday Review 017: Fireflies by Sullivan Leigh

Welcome to the Short Story Saturday review slot and the seventeenth review in this series. This week’s review is of ‘Fireflies’ by Sullivan Leigh.

All stories should have strong hooks and make the reader want to know more and Sullivan’s is no exception. We immediately have the dilemma, the character is nervous going to the house and we want to know why.

The sign of good writing is that we feel the emotion the character is feeling and as Kyla was hiding behind her mother’s legs, so was I, and then later when her parents are righting and we find out it’s a regular occurrence.

There is more description than dialogue in this piece but when the dialogue comes it’s very authentic, entertaining and spare.

A first person story is great at getting inside your character’s head and I could hear Kyla saying, “blah blah blah”. Sullivan has her tone spot on.

The dilemma continues as we go from her backstory to present day and find she has a rival for her love’s affection and I love her being labeled with a nickname (no spoilers here).

I know that Sullivan has not been writing for long but the writing is already well-crafted which phrases such as ‘crawling the walls her hands made’ and ‘the swing made the moonlight dance across the porch’.

If I had to pick at the story (which I do because this is an unbiased review), I would suggest she looks out for the tells vs shows. For example, “I was intrigued by her”, “She was gorgeous to me”, “Naturally, this delighted me to no end.” are tells, whereas “…my knees kept shaking and my tummy felt weird”, says it all and would take us quicker into the action. If you find you do the same thing where you show us what’s happening and tell us then you can most likely take out the ‘tells’. If the story still stands up without them, then you’ve done the right thing. :) I mention show vs tell on my http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/writing-101 page.

While I’m on a pick, and I hadn’t intended this as a red pen session but another of my bug-bears is repetition and this may help other writers reading this. One line reads, ‘A loud noise in the hallway startled me. I ran to the hallway.’ If you can avoid using the same word twice then do, unless it’s to emphasise the first. In this instance, Sullivan could change it to ‘A loud noise outside my door (or ‘on the landing’) startled me. I ran to the hallway.’ Because she’s just been talking outside the house I’d recommend not using ‘outside’ as it would confuse the reader as to where ‘outside’ refers to.

The mark of a great story is where you feel like you’re on a rollercoaster and this did not disappoint. A writer should make their reader turn the page, wanting to know what’s going to happen next and most importantly how it’s going to be resolved. In a romance you can presume the two main characters are going to get together and whether they do or, for whatever reason, they don’t (I’m not going to say which here) by the time you read the end you should have been entertained and this story ticked that box.

***

Thank you Sullivan for inviting me to read your story.

coverSullivan is a writer from Mississippi. She lives in Amory with her partner and her son. ‘Fireflies’ is available from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk and below is the Amazon synopsis:

Kyla is moving in with a family friend, Marie, for her first semester of college. The two of them carry a special bond – they’ve known each other since Kyla was eleven. The chaos in her life was only balanced out by the safety she felt with Marie.

So moving away to college is the first shred of normalcy her life has ever really taken on.

However, her heart carries the secret that after all this time, she is still in love with Marie.

If Kyla chooses to confess her love, her life will be anything but normal.

***

** NEW!! You can now subscribe to this blog on your Kindle / Kindle app!

See http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B008E88JN0

or http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008E88JN0 for outside the UK **

You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything. You can contact me and find me on the internetview my Books (including my debut novel!) and I also have a blog creation / maintenance service especially for, but not limited to, writers. If you like this blog, you can help me keep it running by donating and choose an optional free eBook.

For writers / readers willing to give feedback and / or writers wanting feedback, take a look at this blog’s Feedback page.

As I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t unfortunately review books but I have a list of those who do, and I also review stories (and post others in their entirety) of up to 3,000 words on Short Story Saturdays. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 3,000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me posting it online in my new Red Pen Critique Sunday night posts, then do email me. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.

 
 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Guest post: Debunking the writer’s block myth by Marlene Caroselli

Tonight’s guest blog post, on the topic of writer’s block is brought to you by non-fiction author Marlene Caroselli.

Debunking the writer’s block myth

If you are alive, you are thinking. And, if you are thinking, you can record your thoughts. What if you have no thoughts about the book you wish to write? Rubbish–it’s all in your head–quite literally. There are several options available to you for getting those thoughts out of your head and onto paper or a computer screen. First, though, you need to let time be your guide.

Fiction

Begin collecting ideas, articles, web sites, et cetera that you’d like to explore in that book of yours. When your folder has at least 50 resources or references, begin to organize them. Use the stratification technique: Simply create six or more columns–Character, Location, Dialog, Plots, Scenes, Timeline, for example. Then start adding details to each of the categories. Each time you come across or think about something you’d like to include in your book, jot down your idea. Don’t worry about spelling or editing problems until the book is done. You can save the title until the end as well. For many authors, the title evolves as the book is being completed. Other authors, though, like to have the title before they start. It doesn’t really matter; the choice is yours.

Once you have a bulky set of details in each category, begin writing. Commit to two pages a day. Your book can be done in six months, sooner if you write quickly. Form a network of friends who will encourage you to keep on your writing schedule. Remind yourself each morning, “If I get nothing else done today, I will complete my two pages.” Some authors, when temporarily groping for words, just write anything that is in their mind until their brain stops meandering and gets back on the writing track. It’s an excellent method of pulling thoughts out of a brain that is headed toward hedonism, if only temporarily.

Non-fiction

Be sure there no other books out there that parallel your planned manuscript. Publishers have enough rejection-reasons already–don’t make a duplicated idea one of them. Do your research and if you find you do have a unique idea, begin your book by using the stratification method again. This time, though, divide the main topic into 10-20 subtopics. Then go back and add points to each of the topics (which will become the book’s chapters). To illustrate, if your overall theme is career advancement, you could have these divisions:

SECTION 1: GETTING THE JOB

Updating your resume, Finding a job, Going on an interview

SECTION 2:  DOING WELL ON THE JOB

Handling office politics, Getting a raise, Working on a team, Making a contribution

SECTION 3:  GETTING A PROMOTION

Gaining visibility, Having a mentor or sponsor, Engaging in benchmarking

SECTION 4:  THE MANAGERIAL RESPONSIBILITIEs

Leading, Communicating, Maintaining good morale, Increasing productivity.

Presidential speechwriter Robert Orben once remarked that he gets up every day and searches the Forbes list of the richest people in America. If he doesn’t find his name on it, he goes to work. Whether you have a full-time job and do writing on the side, or whether you have made writing your full-time job, you have the same obligation Orben does. You have to go to work if you want to complete that book. Claiming writers’ block as a way to postpone that obligation means the work, and the book, will never get done. You are better than that–you’re a writer, not an excuse-maker.

Thank you, Marlene!

Dr. Marlene Caroselli (www.saatchionline.com/LainaCelano), is an author, keynoter, and corporate trainer.

She has published over 60 books, including Jesus, Jonas, and Janus: The Leadership Triumvirate, and Principled Persuasion, named a Director’s Choice by Doubleday Book Club.

***

If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please”.

The blog interviews return as normal tomorrow morning with multi-genre author Michael J Bowler – the four hundred and ninety-ninth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.

You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything… and follow me on Twitter where each new posting is automatically announced. You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at SmashwordsSony Reader StoreBarnes & NobleiTunes BookstoreKobo and Amazon, with more to follow. I have a new forum, friend me on Facebook, like me on Facebook, connect with me on LinkedIn, find me on Tumblr, complete my website’s Contact me page or plain and simple, email me. I also now have a new blog creation service especially for, but not limited to, writers.

Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) :) on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are fortnightly episodes, usually released on Sundays, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on September 20, 2012 in blog, ebooks, ideas, non-fiction, tips, writing

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Guest post: Finding Your Footing on the Mountain of Success by C. S. Lakin

Tonight’s guest blog post is brought to you by multi-genre author C.S. Lakin.

Finding Your Footing on the Mountain of “Success”

There’s a moment for many writers when a tectonic shift occurs in their writing process, one that may not even be all that noticeable on the surface, but sends out powerful waves across the landscape of their writing life. I’ve seen this happen with dozens of my editing clients as they near either the completion of writing their book or upon finalizing a rewrite and seeing “the end” near in sight for that particular project. This shift manifests in various ways, but the early signs start with questions about “what to do, now that I’m done”.

An Incursion of Unwanted Emotion

Most writers write in the hopes that they will sell their book, connect with a readership, and make money from the sales. Their priorities may not be in that order, but it’s usually the goal when writing a novel or nonfiction manuscript that it get “out in the world” of readers. And that’s expected and reasonable. So, here’s what tends to happen—especially with an author completing her first book. The engulfing joy of writing and expressing creativity and voicing ideas now becomes infiltrated with a subtle, growing anxiety. Soon to join that is a cocktail mix of emotions: trepidation, fear, self-doubt, worry, despair, frustration. Whether these come flooding into the writer’s mind and heart full force or just niggle at the back of her mind—they come.

Now that the intensity of the writing journey is over for the moment and the writer has breathing room, and can step back and look at her accomplishments, often any feelings of significance, achievement, or success are squelched before they can nurture the artist in the way they should. We should be able to step back when done creating a work of art—be it a novel, a song, or a painting—and spend some time in that special place of accomplishment. But this rarely occurs for the writer.

Feel the Earth Move under Your Feet

How much of this is self-imposed and how much is society-imposed is not something I can answer. However, I do believe we as artists need to be aware of this shift and understand that we can actively change how we respond. Why should we? Because if we think back to why we create in the first place, we will usually agree that we do so because of the fulfilling and satisfying experience expressing creativity gives us. There is no deeper joy to an artist than to create, to immerse herself in the creative experience, and then to step back and look at what has been created. That stepping back moment is a precious one, and unfortunately it often gets trampled on by the anxiety of “what comes next.”

I believe if we pay attention to this shift and “feel the earth moving” underneath us, drawing us away from the joy of writing and into the morass of anxiety over whether or not our book will be published, we can steady ourselves and roll with the earth (I live near San Francisco, so the earthquake motif is a natural one for me to default to—pun intended).

Beating Themselves Up over Perceived Failure

Think about this: Some people aspire to reach the top of Mt. Everest. They may spend years of their life training, saving money, and obsessing over this goal to stand at the top of the world. I’ve watched (a bit obsessed myself) from the comfort of my couch these intrepid folks risking their lives to reach this pinnacle. Much of their success will depend upon their skill and training. But there’s no accounting for a freak storm that might come along and take them down. Just read Jon Krakauer’s book Into Thin Air if you want to see how bad luck can cancel out all the odds in your favor of succeeding. I am intrigued by these climbers who, upon having to quit for one serious reason or another just short of reaching their coveted goal, fall into deep depression, and their evident sense of total failure and worthlessness is plain for all to see. How can these people put so much of their heart and joy into the need to get to the top? Can’t they be satisfied with having made it to 27,000 feet instead of 29,000? They have still climbed higher than almost all the humans who have ever lived on earth—isn’t that good enough? But it’s not. They torture themselves over their failure, which to them is absolute and unforgivable.

Many writers do the equivalent in regard to their writing. If they don’t sell millions, make some best-seller list, become a household name like Stephen King, they are miserable. In fact, it’s worse than that. For some, if they can’t get a book contract, or earn more than their advance, they feel the same way. What used to be a joyous experience (writing) has now become a burden and a source of great pain. I see it all around me—even in writers I would define as quite successful by the world’s standards. But, to them, that success is just not good enough, and they feel that “failure” means they are a failure. In effect, they have lost their way through the bucolic land of creativity and are wandering in despair in the gloomy marshes of self-doubt and the need for success.

Step Back and Admire the View

I would be lying if I said I haven’t wandered off the path into said marsh more than once. I think all artists do from time to time. However, if this process of surfacing from the joy of being creative into the marsh of despair and anxiety over a lack of “success” is repeated many times over, year after year, it can destroy our spirit. There are numbers of climbers who never quite made it to the top of Everest. Years later they still feel like failures in life. You’d think with the kind of panoramic perspective they’re used to having at the top of a mountain they could don a healthy perspective about their life and their significance. For that’s what it’s really all about—learning how to find significance in the journey of creativity without it being dependent on the tangible societal measures of success.

My advice, then, as a writer who’s been on this journey to publication and success for twenty-five years, is to step back and get a perspective on how obsessed you might be with “success” and instead find significance in what you create. Remind yourself that the joy of the process is valid and vindicating in its own right. The more you can shift your perspective, the less the ground will shift under you.

Thank you, C.S.!

C. S. Lakin is the author of twelve novels, including the seven-book fantasy series “The Gates of Heaven.” She also writes contemporary psychological mysteries, including her Zondervan contest winner Someone to Blame. She works as a professional copyeditor and writing coach and loves to teach the craft of writing. Her websites are dedicated to critiquing fiction and building community to help survive and thrive in your writing life: www.LiveWriteThrive.com and www.CritiqueMyManuscript.com. Come join in! You can read more about her and her books at www.cslakin.com. Follow @cslakin and @livewritethrive. Facebook: C. S. Lakin, Author, Editor.

***

If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please”.

The blog interviews return as normal tomorrow morning with humorous novelist and memoirist Jade Heasley – the four hundred and eighty-third of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.

You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything… and follow me on Twitter where each new posting is automatically announced. You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at SmashwordsSony Reader StoreBarnes & NobleiTunes BookstoreKobo and Amazon, with more to follow. I have a new forum, friend me on Facebook, like me on Facebook, connect with me on LinkedIn, find me on Tumblr, complete my website’s Contact me page or plain and simple, email me. I also now have a new blog creation service especially for, but not limited to, writers.

Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) :) on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are fortnightly episodes, usually released on Sundays, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Creative writing in France

morgenbailey:

Morgen: my piggies have gone to market and stayed there :(

Originally posted on Jane Wenham-Jones:

Room, indeed, for two little ones – or even two quite big ones (bedroom sizes generous).

Due to a cancellation, there are now a couple of places available at the fabulous Chez Castillon, where I am teaching “Is there a book in you?” in October. And I can’t tell you how lovely it is! (The place, not necessarily the tome lurking within, but we can work on that). Full details here.

The food is fab, the wine flows, the sun shines and I’ll be there (see footnote)… What’s not to like?

My entirely impartial verdict:

˜˜˜˜˜˜Worth selling your body or breaking  the piggy bank for. 

footnote 1  and the lovely Katie Fforde will be there too. Your chance to share a dinner table  with a mega-selling novelist. We might even persuade her to sing. See here.

View original

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 22, 2012 in ebooks, events, ideas, novels, writing

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

5AM FLASH 230712: Free photos – for creatives by creatives

Every now and then at 5am (probably posted by my clone) I will be bringing you a newsflash, update on what I’m doing, invited guest piece, or whatever takes my fancy, and today I’d like to mention a great site for free photographs…

Morgue File

At some stage in their writing, blogging, eBooking, writers need photographs. Some will have their own stash of ‘could be perfect’ shots they took thinking it might just come in handy one day but if that’s not you or it is you but you just don’t have what you’re looking for try Morgue File.

The home page is http://morguefile.com and shows their favourite photograph of the moment.

There are thousands (probably tens of thousands – there’s a great one of green icing cupcakes no. 542347 – http://morguefile.com/archive/display/542347) of free photographs to choose from and all you do it put a keyword (or more than one) and, unless you’ve picked a really obscure photograph, you get a gallery of thumbnail photos to choose from. Click on the ones that appeal and you have the option (on the left, under the photo) to download it.

Licence

Most free photo sites restrict your use but Morgue File is the most flexible I’ve come across. They say… “You are allowed to copy, distribute, transmit the work and to adapt the work. Attribution is not required. You are prohibited from using this work in a stand alone manner.” And they don’t mind if you use it commercially.

Do take a look though at the photographer’s comments underneath that licence statement as they usually love to know that you’re using their photo (as we writers love to know that someone’s read our free stories :)). For instance the photographer of our green cupcakes says… “Let me know if you use my photo :)I would love to hear about your project. Thanks and enjoy! http://photodaisy.blogspot.com.”

Why is it called ‘Morgue File’?

As the site explains, “a ‘morgue file’ is a place to keep post-production materials for use of reference, an inactive job file. This morgue file contains free high resolution digital stock photography for either corporate or public use.

The term “morgue file” is popular in the newspaper business to describe the file that holds past issues flats. Although the term has been used by illustrators, comic book artist, designers and teachers as well. The purpose of this site is to provide free image reference material for use in all creative pursuits. This is the world wide web’s morguefile”.

Picture origin

I would recommend making a note of the reference number (i.e. the end of the photograph’s website address, the 542347 of our cupcakes) because should you use a photograph somewhere and its origin be challenged* you have a record so I rename the file e.g. green cupcakes 542347. I found that photograph, by the way, from a keyword search of ‘pretty’. :)

http://www.roniloren.com has an interesting article on that subject.

File size

When you download the photograph you’ll probably find that it’s a huge file size. This is fine if you’re creating something like an eBook cover and you need it to be a certain size and clarity but for day-to-day (for instance I use a picture for my daily 5pm Fiction slot) you can shrink it (I use Preview or PhotoShop and reduce it to c. 100×150 pixels), crop it, whatever you want to do with it really.

So, whatever you need your photograph for, or of, you’re bound to find something on Morgue File and I couldn’t recommend it highly enough. :)

***

You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything… and follow me on Twitter where each new posting is automatically announced. You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at SmashwordsSony Reader StoreBarnes & NobleiTunes BookstoreKobo and Amazon, with more to follow. I have a new forum, friend me on Facebook, like me on Facebook, connect with me on LinkedIn, find me on Tumblr, complete my website’s Contact me page or plain and simple, email me.  I also now have a new blog creation service especially for, but not limited to, writers.

Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) :) on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are weekly episodes, usually released Monday mornings UK time, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Guest post: Character communications by author Chris Redding

I’m delighted to bring you this guest blog post, today on the topic of communication, by humorous romantic suspense novelist Chris Redding.

Communication is about independence and intimacy.

Men tend to focus on independence. They give orders and tell people what to do. Women crave intimacy. For instance, a man will make plans without consulting his wife. (Not all men) He will see no reason to “ask permission” of his wife. He actually views it that way. He would see it as not being able to act independently of her.  He sees it as being the underling if he has to ask permission. Even though it isn’t really asking permission, but consulting the wife about her plans. (Which is how she would see it.)

Here you can add conflict. The hero makes a unilateral decision be it about a social event or in the heat of running from the bad guys. He doesn’t see why he needs to clear it with the heroine. Of course she wants to be in on the decision-making process so we have conflict between the two. He doesn’t understand why she needs to be part of making the decision.

It is the same mindset when men go out and spend money. They don’t feel they need to “ask permission”. My husband once bought a car without any input from me. He was going through a rough time and I think he needed to assert his independence not so much from me, but from his job. I didn’t make a big deal about it, but the next time he bought I car I mentioned it. And of course he had no idea that I would feel that way.  Until I told him.

Intimacy says we’re close and connected. Women bond with each other, especially through talking. In feeling connected, two women feel symmetry. They are equals.

Independence is connected to status. Men like independence and their lives are about status. So status and independence are asymmetrical. Both people in a contest cannot have the upper hand.

Imagine someone other than the hero interested in the heroine. There would be an automatic competition between the two men. Conflict! Not huge conflict, but enough to show another side of your hero.

In ancient societies, men protected women. It is still in their biology to do that. There aren’t man-eating animals that women face on a daily basis so they do it other ways. (Quick story: In a bar recently with a mixed group. Someone else we knew asked one of the guys in the groups to help her get this guy off of her. Now he doesn’t even like her, but she was clearly scared of this other guy hanging on her. So my friend asked the guy to leave. Twice, nicely. The guy, of course, gave him a hard time, and they almost came to blows. My friend was willing to protect this woman merely because she was a woman.)

A mother naturally protects her children.  But when a woman extends her protection to a man he bristles at it. He sees himself as a lower rank, a child. Since I was a kid in the age before widespread seatbelt use, if my father had to brake suddenly he would put his hand out to protect whoever was in the front passenger seat. I developed the same habit driving.

Fast forward a few years. I begin delivering pizza and using a seatbelt on a regular basis. I’m driving with my boyfriend (the one who convinced me to wear a seatbelt) and I have to break suddenly. My arm goes out. He thought that was the most ridiculous thing. He made fun of me for it for awhile. Looking back, it wasn’t about me. It was about him feeling as if I’d lowered him in the hierarchy of our relationship.

This post is an excerpt from her workshop Show Up Naked: Writing the Male POV. That’s really interesting, thank you Chris… I’m going off now to go see how my characters are communicating… or not. :)

Chris Redding lives in New Jersey with her husband, two kids and various animals. She graduated from Penn State with a degree in journalism. When she isn’t writing, she works part time for her local hospital. Her latest book out is ‘A View to a Kilt’, a humorous romantic suspense.

You can find Chris Redding: www.chrisreddingauthor.com, http://chrisredddingauthor.blogspot.com, www.facebook.com/chrisreddingauthor and www.twitter.com/chrisredding.

If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please” (while quietly bouncing up and down in my seat with joy!). You can also read / download my eBooks at Smashwords.

 
7 Comments

Posted by on November 6, 2011 in ideas, Twitter, writing

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Author interview (and blog) feedback sought

Hello everyone. I’ll keep this brief because Marla is waiting in the wings to guest blog but I’d love your opinion on the interviews I post here (and anything else you’d like to mention about my blog). I’m conscious that by posting an interview a day you will have a lot to read through so…

  • Are they too long? Would you prefer a selected maximum of questions?
  • Do you find them enjoyable to read or do you switch off part-way?
  • Are there questions that you feel don’t need to be asked?
  • Is there a topic we haven’t discussed that you would like covered?
  • Is there a genre you’d like to read more about or are they fairly evenly spread?
  • Generally do you find they are helpful / useful?
  • Are they posted too regularly? (not sure I can do much about this as I have so many enquiries but it would be useful to know)

And about the blog itself…

  • Can you find the information you want easily?
  • Is there too much information here, is it overwhelming?
  • Is there anything you’d like to read less of?
  • Is there anything you’d like to read more of?
  • If you’ve read any, are the guest blogs / author spotlights too short / long or about right?
  • I’d like to include more poetry; any suggestions?
  • Is there anything writing-related that I don’t cover on this blog that I could perhaps include?
  • Do you have a favourite section / page on the blog?
  • If you’ve been involved in anything here do you feel it was worthwhile?

I look forward to hearing your views; positive and ‘constructive’ – I’ve received rejections, I can handle it! :) 

I have the current format booked up until the end of the year but ongoing it’ll be really interesting to learn what is working and what isn’t (if anything :)).

If you would prefer to email me directly rather than leave a comment here, you can email me at morgen@morgenbailey.com.

Thank you.

Morgen x

 
13 Comments

Posted by on October 27, 2011 in blog, ideas, interview, recommendations

 

Tags: , , , ,

Transcription of BWT podcast episode 28 (Feb 2011) – hints & tips pt2

The twenty-eighth episode of the Bailey’s Writing Tips podcast was released on 28th February 2011 and the content has never been released other than website links (on my website http://www.morgenbailey.com) so I hope you find this information useful. In the first twenty-seven episodes (see http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/bwt-podcast for details), I covered ‘show not tell’, the five senses, repetition, points of view, tenses, dialogue, characters, crime, poetry, short stories, novels, writing for children, scriptwriting, comedy, romance and chick lit, erotica, ‘writing rules’, historical & the classics, name & characters, Christmas, opportunities, songwriting, reading, auto/biographies, computer tips (parts 1&2), competitions & submissions, romance and hints & tips (part 1). This episode was hints & tips pt2. This episode also contained some competitions and although the dates have passed, I have left the details in as it will show you what was available and many competitions are yearly so they may well be run again in 2012. Please note: I can’t vouch for these competitions so do check the information thoroughly before parting with your hard-earned writing and money but having a competition win or shortlist is always a good thing to have on your writing CV so I would recommend having a go.

Hints & tips

  • Colours work really well in any kind of piece, especially if they relate to a mood; e.g. a bleak grey sky, a yellow top worn by someone with a happy disposition (others include green (often thought of as envy), white (pure/simple), red (anger/passion)). They all help the reader to picture a scene.
  • Equally when you’re setting a scene, think that buildings have a ‘feeling’ e.g. drab council offices or majestic stately home. How do they make your character and the reader feel? In some stories, the setting becomes almost like a character in its own right so you might like to consider that when writing yours.
  • Passion: I’m not talking romance (necessarily) but there should be emotions in every story. This could be desire, fear, love, grief, anger, jealousy etc.
  • Outdoor or unusual locations: rather than have the action happening in a room, how about somewhere like a forest, farm, church, boat, beach, hospital, construction site or even on a rocket? There could also be locations with restrictions e.g. library or art gallery where the characters have to whisper or to the other extreme where they have to be loud; a nightclub or funfair.
  • As well as things happening or items mentioned, think of what’s not there, using words such as no, not, never, nothing, none, no-one, nowhere, neither, nor etc. Negatives are great and it gives you another perspective to the story. Lee Child’s book ‘Nothing to lose’ is a great example: “and there was nothing in his pockets except paper money, an expired passport, an ATM card, a folding foot brush…there was nothing waiting for him anywhere else, no storage unit in a distant city, nothing stashed with friends, he owned the things in his pockets, the clothes on his back and the shoes on his feet…”. It gives a great idea of the simple life that this character leads who literally has…nothing to lose.
  • Do you ever dream? Or more importantly, do you ever dream and remember the details? If you do, write them down before you forget and see if it might make a story or poem. Dreams can often provide you with incredible stories because there seems to be such a freedom of the mind when we dream. It’s been said, ‘dreams are a window into our very soul’. If this is true, then writing from our dreams could be a great way to write from our hearts, and in that, find out what we’re passionate about. I always keep a notebook and pen or mobile (on which I can dictate) beside my bed. If I dream something that I think I can use in a story, I always jot it down for future reference. Fantasies provide us with another great way to glean new story ideas. We all fantasise at some point in our lives. It can happen in school, in a meeting, on an elevator, etc. This is another great way to open up and stretch your imagination for new stories. Take time to sit and allow your mind to take you wherever it wants to go. It’s amazing what ideas for story lines and scenes, come to light during this time.
  • Think of things that are unusual pairs e.g. a petite blonde called Buffy turning out to be a vampire slayer. You could certainly lead your reader to think one thing then have the total opposite happen.
  • You might find when you’re writing that something keeps trying to bog you down, such as that old feeling that your writing isn’t good enough and that your technique is not up to par. Don’t worry about your technique for now. Just get it down on paper, put it away for a while and move on to something else. When you come back to it you should spot where you’re going wrong (and right!).
  • Practice makes perfect – I always compare writing to playing a piano. If you’ve never played, you’re not going to come out with a concerto. Your first attempts may be more like chopsticks or even just the scales but the more you do it (even just a flash fiction length a day), the better you will become.
  • Journaling is a great tool for writers. It’s a place where we can write down all our secrets, thoughts, ideas, scenes that suddenly come to mind, sounds or smell or sights that we don’t want to forget and anything else that pops in our heads. Journals, in a way, can become a friend to us, or a confidant that we share with. For some, it is our chance to open up ourselves and become extremely vulnerable. This is a tool that writers can use to stretch and improve their writing skills.
  • Observation is a key tool to discovering how the world works. As an observer, try a few different ways to discover new ideas for your writing: Imagine the scene as if you were experiencing it or seeing it for the first time; Imagine the scene as you are now; Imagine the scene as if you were seeing it for the last time because it won’t happen again in your lifetime; By doing this you will give yourself a broader writing point-of-view. You will open up the doors to great storytelling and your characters will become much more realistic and reliable to your readers. You will also find that your readers will connect better with them. People are constantly fascinating me. The way they act, speak, watch, look, dress, walk, etc. I could sit in one spot and watch people pass by for hours. There are so many places to ‘people watch’ such as: the airport, shopping centres, buses or any other transport system, when you’re stuck in traffic, in a dentist or doctor’s, etc. Don’t just watch, but discover how the people react to what’s happening to them and around them. Ask yourself questions about why they do what they do? Why do they look happy or sad? Are they on holiday? Where are they from? Why are they here? There are so many questions, and it’s these questions that can lead you to new story ideas. Let them flow and write down your answers. People-watching can stretch the borders of our imagination. Wherever you go, always bring paper and a pen with you. You never know what will happen. You might just see something that will spark your imagination and set you on a new journey of storytelling.
  • Sounds are important to describe in any story. They give more shape and substance to your scenes. Your readers become more entranced when they are given more information. Reading should be like living for your reader. It should be a world that contains all the senses. Touch, taste, smell, sound, sight – these are all key to making your story come alive for your reader. Listen to the sounds around you, wherever you are. Take a moment to close your eyes (but not if you’re driving) and listen to what is happening instead of just watching. Write down the sounds you hear around you and give a detailed account of each of them. Good listening skills can and will increase your ability to write great stories. By listening, you become more aware and prepared to provide details of the sounds you need to make your story credible.
  • The most important thing is to ENJOY YOURSELF. Let the writing flow. Don’t worry about editing as you go along. Certainly you can edit along the way if that makes you happy. But you might enjoy the creative writing process more fully if you let your imagination lead the way – and let the creativity fall into place.
  • Talking of editing – if you take something out of a sentence/paragraph does it still work? Does it still have the same impact? If yes to both questions, then you can make the chop. Remember to be brutal as an editor is likely to put red lines through a lot of your work so if you can beat him/her to it you’ll get less red back on your manuscript. I’m as big a culprit as anyone and that’s what our Monday nights are for. J
  • Look at adverbs: if you say that something was ‘completely severed’ do you need the ‘completely’? Likewise ‘totally destroyed’ and smiled happily (unless of course you want your character to smile sadly)?
  • If you’re having trouble with a story, how well do you know it? Jot down the answers to the following questions (thanks to NAWG’s Dec 2008 Link magazine and www.writers-toolkit.co.uk) and see if this helps: What is your character’s name? (if you can’t answer that, you’re in trouble); what century is it?; what country is it?; what sort of building (if applicable) is it?; what are they sleeping on?; are there sheets and blankets?; what texture are they?; what can they see from the window?; what is the first thing they hear when they wake up?; what are they wearing?; what colours can they see?; what can they smell?; what time of year is it?; what time of day is it?; what was the last thing they ate?; what is their greatest problem? Not all the questions will be relevant but it may help, and the final question should be key to any story.
  • A tip from many a podcast – trim down the ‘ings’ as they, apparently, weaken verbs. An example would be was instead of ‘Walking into the kitchen, he picked up a knife…’ it would be better to be more direct; ‘He walked into the kitchen and picked up a knife.” I have mixed feelings on this as I think it varies the sentences but one narrator (Jordan Castillo Price in her ‘Packing Heat’ podcast said that’s a bad thing).
  • I’d be really interested to know what you when you’re writing and you need to fill something in later. Do you just leave a gap? Perhaps underlined? Or a row of crosses? A regular help for me if I’ve to add further content is to put ‘MORE HERE’ and when I go back into the document I can just select the Find option (Ctrl F) or search options and type in ‘more here’ and the computer takes me to the first/next instance/s. It’s great.
  • Writing prompts are a fantastic way of getting inspiration. You can either pick a single word (as we do in my Monday workshop group – perhaps from something you see in the room or from a newspaper) and see where it leads you, or pick some from the internet (doing a Google search on ‘writing prompt’ brings up loads of helpful links).
  • Beginnings and endings – does your beginning start with a hook? If, as is often the case, the action gets going after a paragraph or two (or more?), then either lose the first section completely or filter it in elsewhere. Equally, if you re-read your ending, do you feel that it works better without the last paragraph or two. Try finishing it earlier and see what happens.
  • On an interview I heard with Elmore Leonard (who I hadn’t realised had written ‘Ocean’s Eleven’ and ‘3.10 to Yuma’, both great films) he said don’t start a story with the weather, which reminds me of a book called ‘It was a dark and stormy night’ – a beginning from Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s 1830 novel ‘Paul Clifford’ which is often quoted as an example bad beginning. I have a book of the same name which is “the ‘best’ of the ‘best’ dreadful beginnings from the American Bulwer-Lytton contest”.
  • Endings can be tricky. They have a variety of functions; some tie everything up neatly whilst others can leave the reader to work it out for themselves. Twist-in-the-tales are very popular – Take a Break especially love them. Endings work if they provoke a laugh, tear, ooh or ahh. Tips on endings include: strong final images provoke emotional endings; the later the punch, the stronger the reader’s emotion especially with twists; you could work backwards by writing five endings (or five lines from some of your existing stories) then writing stories to lead up to them.
  • If you find a website that has some great information on the topic that you are looking for, remember that they may well have a ‘links’ page which will usually feature other websites of a similar vein. You may lose a few hours going through them all but it would be worth it if you find a gem.
  • Crime writer Barbara Cleverly suggests:
  • Listen to your work as you write. Read it aloud. If it sounds awkward, it is. Rewrite. i.e. make every effort to make your work a joy to read.
  • If you have some cash to spend on your writing, buy: Sir Ernest Gowers’ Plain Words, The Economist Style Guide, and Suspense Novels by Lesley Grant Adamson.
  • ‘Write about what you know?’. Rubbish! Seriously, how many readers are going to be interested? Write instead about what you find fascinating. Immerse yourself in your chosen background.
  • ‘Everyone has a novel in him/her.’ Again, rubbish! And if you have, one’s not enough these days. Publishers offer three book deals. They won’t take a chance on a writer who has only one book in prospect.
  • It is nearly impossible to get your work read nowadays. Choose a small reputable agent and present it neatly and professionally. If it’s crime you’re working on, the CWA Debut Dagger Award (www.thecwa.co.uk/daggers/debut/index.html) is well worth a shot. Your script will be read and if it’s any good will be noticed.
    • Writer/teacher Vivien Hampshire (http://vivienhampshire.blogspot.com) had a lovely article in Dec 2004 National Association of Writers’ Group magazine ‘Link’ which included: “What makes a good story? Forget about genres and plots and sub-plots. Read to them (new writing students) something with an opening line that hooks them in, a really strong central character they can believe in and care about, and an ending they will laugh or cry over… a story they will remember days later, a story that makes them feel good, and one that will inspire them to try having a go at writing their own. Writing is not about knowing the right words to say. It is not about some secret code that only other writers understand. It should not be the preserve of the literary snobs, all trying to impress with their in-depth knowledge. Writing comes from the heart. It’s a feeling, knowing what we like the sound of, what stories we have enjoyed, what works for us, even though we may not be able to explain why.” :)
    • I mentioned show don’t tell earlier and short story writer / tutor Joanna Barnden (http://www.joannabarnden.co.uk) has the following advice: “By using dialogue to introduce characters instead of just telling readers about them; by starting in the middle of a key bit of action instead of with passive description or a summary of events; by grasping the main scene of the story with both hands and really bringing it to life with sensory and emotional details; by showing emotions happening e.g.: ‘he flung the book down’, rather than telling us about them: ‘he was cross’. But please don’t forget the services of the sometimes neglected ‘tell’! If your story is about a woman’s relationship with her husband we might need to know that they have children, but we do not need flashbacks of her giving birth/reading bedtime stories/going to the park etc (unless they are pertinent to the key issue, such as if a child is disabled and it’s putting a terrible strain on the marriage).” Joanna also offers a very inexpensive critique and re-read service – see her website.

Competitions

  • Thanks to Auriol from Northampton, England for two travel writing competitions from Skyscanner. One has an 18th March deadline (to win an iPad!), the other is a rolling monthly Twitter-based comp.
  • http://bridgehousepublishing.co.uk/newsubmissions.aspx is seeking sci-fi stories (up to 8000 words by 31st March 2011) – for publication a year later.
  • The Buxton Festival Poetry Competition is now open and submissions are welcome until 1st April 2011 – see www.derby.ac.uk/buxtonpoetrycompetition for more information.
  • I was sent an email by www.christinemichael.org for their Thyks Poetry Competition. See www.christinemichael.org/thynkspoetrycompetition for details – deadline 30th April 2011.
  • Ware Poets Open Poetry Competition 2011: Closing date 30th April. Sole Judge: Carole Satyamurti. For poems up to 50 lines. First Prize £500. Sonnet Prize: £100.  For further details send SAE to The Secretary, Ware Poets Open Poetry Competition 2011, Clothall End House, California, Baldock, Herts, SG7 6NU or see www.poetrypf.co.uk/images/compware2011.pdf.
  • Check out all the current UK poetry competitions at www.poetrylibrary.org.uk/competitions.
  • Joanna is starting a new course on writing magazine fiction serials (most of the leading women’s magazines do them); the first one-day workshop will be held in the Midlands on Thursday April 7th – see www.joannabarnden.co.uk for info.

The podcast concluded with sentence starts, Quotes, News & Feedback, On This Day in History and a 60-worder called ‘Holiday let-down’: “Break a leg!” a colleague shouted as Dr Jack Warley left for his Austrian ski-ing holiday. He chuckled as he drove home. Just an hour later he was undressed and showered. He adjusted his dressing gown belt as he started down the stairs…not noticing his son’s toy 4×4 on the step below. He heard his fibula snap as he tumbled.

That’s it. Thanks for visiting – a list of the other transcripts and summaries can be found at http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/bwt-podcast.

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Transcription of BWT podcast episode 27 (Feb 2011) – hints & tips (pt1)

The twenty-seventh episode of the Bailey’s Writing Tips podcast was released on 21st February 2011 and the content has never been released other than website links (on my website http://www.morgenbailey.com) so I hope you find this information useful. In the first twenty-six episodes (see http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/bwt-podcast for details), I covered ‘show not tell’, the five senses, repetition, points of view, tenses, dialogue, characters, crime, poetry, short stories, novels, writing for children, scriptwriting, comedy, romance and chick lit, erotica, ‘writing rules’, historical & the classics, name & characters, Christmas, opportunities, songwriting, reading, auto/biographies, computer tips (parts 1&2), competitions & submissions and romance. This episode had a focus on hints & tips. It included some outdated competitions but I’ve left them in as they’re likely to run yearly.

Hints & tips

National Association of Writers’ Groups’ Link magazine back in June 2006 had a table entitled ‘Imagination used’ which defines how we use our brains – it was split into:

Under 5 years           95-98% used

6-12 years               50%-70%

13-18 years              30%-50%

Adults                    less than 20%

So if you think you need some help or perhaps just a little inspiration…do listen on.

  • Fellow Northamptonshire author (of the ‘Housewife’ series) Alison Penton-Harper has the following tips: write every day, even if it’s not much. Always carry a notebook. Make sure that you’re comfortable when you write so that you can become lost in ‘the zone’ without straining your neck/back/eyes. Edit ruthlessly. If it’s not essential to the story, take it out. When you can’t see the wood for the trees, walk away and leave it alone. Be prepared to accept constructive criticism, but be careful whom you ask for it. Read Stephen King’s book ‘On writing’. There may be a good writers’ group you can join where you can share the experience of the writing process and discuss your work.” Sounds good to me.
  • However trivial it may seem, write down everything. It’s also worth checking whether your phone (or even camera) has dictaphone facilities as you never know when the muse might strike. An idea that is at the top of your memory, the one that is the ‘bestseller’, and you are sure you will not forget it, will be lost almost as fast as you thought of it, if you do not write it down. Later, as you review your ideas, something that seemed so-so, may still be only so-so, but may be just the idea that you needed to jump-start a new project, or give fuel to one you are already working on. I keep two Word documents; one for ideas that may work (i.e. have enough ‘legs’) for novels/anthologies, the other for short stories (although some transferred to the novels file if the ‘legs’ become longer).
  • If you find it difficult to spare time to writing, try small chunks; ten minutes before you do anything else in the morning, while a meal is cooking or before you go to bed (be warned the latter may lead to some loss of sleep as the ideas whizz around in your brain although some authors if stuck go to sleep on an idea and have a solution in the morning). Writing is like housework or homework, if you do it in small chunks you don’t miss the time. It’s when you don’t do any for ages and have to do it in one go that you perhaps start to resent (hopefully not) the ‘loss’ of time. When I did NaNoWriMo for the first time it was surprising, knowing I had to write nearly 1700 words a day, how often I could find time to write a few words because I had to do it. If you can ask yourself at the end of each day “how many words did I write today?” and can answer with a number above zero then you should feel good. Even if you do 50 a day that’s a magazine-length short story a fortnight.
  • Something that works really well for me is to keep a small magazine holder in my bathroom containing a pot of pens/pencils and an A5 spiral-bound notebook. From a list of sentence beginnings I’d created (e.g. As she jumped off the…), I wrote one beginning at the top of each page and then I made sure that every time I spent any time in the bathroom I did some writing, even if it’s just another sentence. It’s amazing how much I wrote over short amounts of time. I’ll then type the story up when the pages are full or the story is complete (or if I get hooked on any of them and want to crack on with them quickly).
  • Back in episode 3 I mentioned the Pocket Encyclopaedia of Short Story Writing which contained a list of 350 alternatives to said (although it’s often said that ‘said’ is still the best word to use). Well, I’ve found a list of 154 courtesy of the sci-fi website Science Fiction & Fantasy Chronicles Network.
  • If your story is a little dull, look at your plain verbs. Do you have a character walking? If so, could they be strolling, ambling, jogging, dashing, sprinting or staggering? Or if s/he is sitting, could s/he be sprawling, lounging, curled up, stretched out? Or if they say something could they mumble, stutter, spew, shout or protest? Finally, if s/he is looking, could they be scanning, squinting, glaring or studying? This also helps to avoid adverbs e.g. she ran quickly = she sprinted.
  • Set aside a small empty box or plastic wallet and put all your ideas (e.g. newspaper clippings or using the notes you’ve made from your above notebooks) in it…but make sure you continue/type them up.
  • Listen to how people speak, and incorporate accents into your writing, e.g. greetings such as ‘my flower’, ‘me duck’, ‘love’ etc. (without too going overboard and confusing your reader). Local websites with video links may well be of use. www.youtube.com is also a great source: put the town/city you’re after and accent in the search box and see what comes up.
  • Even if you haven’t written a novel, have a go at writing a one-page biography, one-page synopsis (of your poem, story, whatever), humorous cover letter or, if you do have a novel on the go, the first two chapters. Then when you have a novel ready, you’ll either have the practice of everything else to go with it, or you’ll have everything ready (with, no doubt, some tweaking).
  • Get a first reader. There’s nothing like a second opinion, especially from another writer and the more the merrier. If you have email, you can swap your work quickly and easily, and do be honest with each other; someone saying it’s great (as friends and family often do) is lovely but not very helpful. Things to look out for are ‘show don’t tell’ (i.e. where something happens or is said but then you go on to explain what happened), repetitive words (unless intended), boring sections (I said to be honest) or parts that seem unclear (it’s good for the reader to have some questions but they should be answered by the end of the piece). Equally, be positive and point out parts that work. If the author knows where they’re going right then they can do more of the same and avoid repeating any bad habits or bits that don’t work.
  • Even if you’re not writing poetry, think of how your words sound e.g. alliteration http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alliteration. Writing sounds better read aloud and even better with rhythm.
  • Quietly unassuming is not necessarily boring. Take Sean Connery’s James Bond for instance. He was suave and charming…but there was more to him. You don’t want to make a character dull or boring as the reader will be bored (and you’ll probably be bored writing him/her) but you can make them surprising; lead them in one direction (or appear to be one thing) and then reveal a hidden layer – like someone coming on to the X-Factor stage and it being assumed from their appearance that they are going to be awful but then they open their mouth… that’s how Susan Boyle became such a success.
  • With any story it’s vital to keep a pace, and therefore the reader’s interest, going. Keep the scenes short and to the point but, in fiction mainly, leave holes so that threads tie up nicely at the end. A mix of short and long sentences is always good, as are questions that rest in the reader’s mind as they read. As well as bringing the story to life, dialogue is very important as it splits up the prose (and should always advance the plot) but stories work well with a good mixture. If you remember that dialogue usually shows and narrative generally tells, and the golden rule is “show, don’t tell”, then it’s best to have a mixture of both for the story to work well. Dialogue is also a very economical use of character development as you get a feel for the character by what they say as well as their tone.
  • I’ve mentioned song lyrics before and it’s worth listening to your favourite (or not so favourite) songs as most tell a story. While the lyrics themselves are copyright, the story they tell isn’t. Or a quicker way is to look up the lyrics online (e.g. www.lyricsdirectory.com or www.findmelyrics.co.uk) and if there are any stories that appeal, re-write them as fiction (obviously also changing any names).
  • If your story isn’t quite working, try changing the viewpoint (i.e. from 1st person (I) to 3rd person (he/she) or vice versa – or have a go at 2nd (you – mentioned above)) or by tense (present to past or vice versa). Present tense is very immediate and often works really well.
  • Endings: Do you, or have you ever thought about starting with the end of your story? Lucy from my writing group mentioned a while back that that’s how she usually starts her poems. Most people have an idea of where their story will end but it’s a great idea to try an ending as a starting point then work backwards and see if it helps your writing. Whilst endings should round off all the loose ends, if you plan to write a sequel (or even a series) then leaving it at a cliff-hanger, as you would at most chapter endings.
  • Speaking of endings, here’s a tip courtesy of a podcast I heard a while back. Think about the order within your sentence. Apparently the last half of a sentence has more impact to a reader than the first half and therefore the action should happen at or towards the end. The example given ‘They swam across the river on a very hot day’… was suggested to work better as ‘On a very hot day they swam across the river’.
  • Think of double-meanings. For instance one of my beginnings is Advert: ‘Part-time lover wanted. Must be flexible…’ which could be taken in at least two ways. Others include ‘As a small business, Heald’s Nursery was struggling…’ (is the nursery a kindergarten or garden centre?) and Holly was prickly at the best of times… (plant or woman?). The Two Ronnies were famous for their double-entendres (do you remember 4 candles?). ‘Your nuts, my Lord’ is another example; see the 2-minute video at www.youtube.com/watch?v=l2e0afvMYqI&. A link to Fork handles (and many others) is on the same page. Be warned, you could be watching for hours. In the recent ‘Up in the Air’ movie with George Clooney, there was a scene where an air stewardess gives him a drink then is perceived as asking “cancer?” but when he’s clearly confused, she repeats it slow as ‘can sir?’ then holding a can out. I’m not sure why the scene was in there as it didn’t further the plot but it was useful for this podcast. :)

Competitions

The podcast concluded with sentence starts, Quotes, News & Feedback, On This Day in History and a 60-worder called ‘DIY doh!’: “Women are useless at DIY” Josh scoffed as he watched his girlfriend getting some steps out to change a light bulb. “Give them here!” He grabbed the bulb and ladder to do the job himself. Wearing slippers, he carefully stepped up, did the deed – then cut his finger on the old bulb as he threw it in the recycling!

That’s it. Thanks for visiting – a list of the other transcripts and summaries can be found at http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/bwt-podcast.

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Podcast: Bailey’s Writing Tips – Episode 035 (25th July 2011)

Episode 35 of the Bailey’s Writing Tips podcast was released today and is available from iTunes, Google’s Feedburner, Podbean (when it catches up), Podcasters (which takes even longer!) or Podcast Alley (which doesn’t list the episodes but will let you subscribe) where you can subscribe or just listen).

I’d not covered poetry for quite a while so I thought I’d do it for this episode which culminates in a poetry freebie. Websites mentioned were:

Poetry – general

www.nationalpoetryday.co.uk, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poetry_Book_Society,

www.poetrysociety.org.uk, www.secondlightlive.co.uk

Hints & Tips

https://www.writers-online.co.uk/Home-Study, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Villanelle, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haiku

Ideas

  • Using the five sense (sight, sound, smell, taste, touch) look around wherever you are in now and write a poem about it;
  • Flick through a magazine and find a picture of a place that you like the look of and write a poem about it.

And the seven sentence starts picked from my http://twitter.com/sentencestarts Twitter page were:

1.    It was the news they’d all been waiting for…

2.    The girls giggled as the picture looked like…

3.    “Just press the left-hand side into the…”

4.    Counting sheep didn’t help…

5.    “What will you do if he’s there?”…

6.    Benson breathed in and stepped up to the microphone…

7.    The proud parents sat in the audience…

Recommendations

www.amazon.co.uk/Craft-Writing-Poetry-Writers-Guides/dp/0749002891, http://www.poetrycan.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=105&Itemid=83, http://carolinegillpoetry.blogspot.com, http://www.explorewriting.co.uk/PoetryCategory.html.

The podcast then culminated in News & Feedback, On This Day In History then…

Fiction Freebie

The last item of each weekly podcast is a piece of fiction – either flash or poetry and this week’s is an autobiographical poem I wrote about five years ago called ‘Three Quarters of a Whole’ which you can read in full on my website’s ‘What I do’ and blog’s ‘My writing’ pages.

And that was it for this week’s episode. Thank you for reading this page and especially if it then entices you to go and listen (and better still, subscribe). If you have any feedback or areas you’d like covered in the hints & tips podcasts, you can email me at morgen@morgenbailey.com or visit the website http://www.morgenbailey.com for the links mentioned in these podcasts, links to the blog, my two Twitter profiles and Facebook page, as well as other writing-related information. And I look forward to bringing you the next episode.

 

Tags: , , , ,

Today’s sentence starts

Here are today’s beginnings to do with as you wish:

1527. It seems to me as if… (first person)

1528. You know you’ll be banned… (second person)

1529. Eric had got away with it so far… (third person)

1530. Typing carefully on the keyboard… (you can use any pov)

1531. It drives me mad when… (first person)

1532. You tug and tug…  (second person)

1533. OK, so Geoff had lied on CV…  (third person)

1534. The light flicked on, then off… (you can use any pov)

1535. I flick through the paper… (first person)

1536. You smile as the icon appears… (second person)

1537. Lindsey hoped he was a ‘lights off’ man… (third person)

1538. The material was frayed at the edges… (you can use any pov)

Each set contains for different points of view so if you are weaker at one than the others, you may like to try these first. One of my favourites is the second-person point of view which is rarely used and not particularly commercially welcomed. It’s where the narrator is talking to the reader (you) rather than talking about him / herself and I’d recommend anyone who’s not tried it before to do so. It may take a bit of getting used to but hopefully it’ll grow on you as much as it did me. :) You can read more starts here.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on June 27, 2011 in ideas, sentencestarts, Twitter, writing

 

Tags: , , , ,

Latest Bailey’s Writing Tips podcast episode: no.34 (inc sci-fi/fantasy/horror)

Episode 34 (length 17m 06s) is now available (via iTunes, Google’s Feedburner, Podbean (when it catches up), Podcasters (which takes even longer!) or Podcast Alley (which doesn’t list the episodes but will let you subscribe)).

I started the podcast by detailing some more sci-fi / fantasy / horror websites and info. (listed on this blog at http://wp.me/p18Ztn-jx, where you can also see some related publications/websites at http://wp.me/p18Ztn-ji and competitions and submission opportunities http://wp.me/p18Ztn-jq.

I then provided a couple of writing suggestions before list seven sentence starts picked from my http://twitter.com/sentencestarts page; each one, if you’d like to use them, for a daily writing project: rewrite a historical story (or other genre) that you’ve written or that you know well (or perhaps a film you’ve seen) as a sci-fi, horror or fantasy story; and/or try really limiting yourself and write a self-contained 60- or 100- word sci-fi, horror or fantasy story and then turn it into another genre and/or beefing (not padding) it up into a longer piece. I then gave some genre-related quotes, ‘On this day in history’, ‘news and feedback’ (my blog interviews – see http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/blog-interviews).

The last item of each weekly podcast is a piece of fiction – either flash or poetry and this episode’s was a piece of flash fiction I wrote as a 10-minute exercise some months back using the one-word prompt of ‘hedge’. It’s more of a children’s story but fits with this episode’s genre. I look forward to bringing you the next episode, which will be my interview with British crime novelist Adrian Magson (http://adrianmagson.com) – which will be released as special episode 28.

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Today’s sentence starts

Here are today’s beginnings posted today to do with as you wish:

1515. As it falls down my top… (first person)

1516. You look down at my feet… (second person)

1517. Florrie looked at his odd shoes… (third person)

1518. The television swivelled… (you can use any pov)

1519. I’m willing him to fall… (first person)

1520. You apologise as the door hits… (second person)

1521. Nigel pulled but it just wouldn’t budge… (third person)

1522. Spotting the man at the front of the… (you can use any pov)

1523. “I’ll put it in my handbag…” (first person)

1524. You apologise to the…  (second person)

1525. His nickname suited him… (third person)

1526. The figure on the ledge seemed to be… (you can use any pov)

Each set contains for different points of view so if you are weaker at one than the others, you may like to try these first. One of my favourites is the second-person point of view which is rarely used and not particularly commercially welcomed. It’s where the narrator is talking to the reader (you) rather than talking about him / herself and I’d recommend anyone who’s not tried it before to do so. It may take a bit of getting used to but hopefully it’ll grow on you as much as it did me. :) You can read more starts here.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on June 18, 2011 in ideas, Twitter, writing

 

Tags: , , ,

Today’s sentence starts

Here are today’s beginnings to do with as you wish:

1503. I breathe in until my lungs hurt… (first person)

1504. You prefer one but… (second person)

1505. Hugo didn’t feel that he really knew himself/her until… (third person)

1506. The sports day was a huge… (you can use any pov)

1507. I find the music soothing… (first person)

1508. “It’s ice cream soup,” you say (second person)

1509. She’d never been so wet… (third person)

1510. The people queued patiently… (you can use any pov)

1511. I ask if I can have another… (first person)

1512. You know it’s going to be the last… (second person)

1513. Trudie didn’t have the heart to tell him… (third person)

1514. As the huge man lunged… (you can use any pov)

Each set contains for different points of view so if you are weaker at one than the others, you may like to try these first. One of my favourites is the second-person point of view which is rarely used and not particularly commercially welcomed. It’s where the narrator is talking to the reader (you) rather than talking about him / herself and I’d recommend anyone who’s not tried it before to do so. It may take a bit of getting used to but hopefully it’ll grow on you as much as it did me. :) You can read more starts here.

 
 

Tags: , , , ,

Today’s sentence starts at Twitter’s @sentencestarts

I have two writing-related Twitter profiles, the main one being @morgenwriteruk and the other is @sentencestarts, the latter of which does what it says ‘on the tin’. Here are the beginnings posted today (to do with as you wish):

1491. It seems alien to me and yet… (first person)

1492. You kick at the wooden post… (second person)

1493. She’d kept it in her pocket for years… (third person)

1494. Simple enough a plan… (you can use any pov)

1495. I can feel my face paling… (first person)

1496. You’re enjoying it but… (second person)

1497. He was certainly going to have a go… (third person)

1498. The card wobbled… (you can use any pov)

1499. I try to keep quiet as he… (first person)

1500. You’re willing her to leave… (second person)

1501. Millie wondered what the male equivalent to mutton dressed as lamb was… (third person)

1502. The scroll had been written in… (you can use any pov)

Each set contains for different points of view so if you are weaker at one than the others, you may like to try these first. Second-person point of view is rarely used and is where the narrator is talking to the reader (you) rather than talking about him / herself. It’s one of my favourite points of view to write although not commercially popular which I think is a real shame, although having started reading Jay McInerney’s Bright Lights Big City (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bright_Lights,_Big_City_%28novel%29) I do agree that it’s a viewpoint that gets tiring relatively quickly.

If you would like to follow either (or both would be lovely) of my Twitter profiles, the direct links are http://twitter.com/morgenwriteruk and http://twitter.com/sentencestarts respectively. The new posts from this blog appear as shortcuts in morgenwriteruk (and on my Facebook page – http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001560589385) and I post new sets of beginnings at sentencestarts on a semi-regular basis.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on June 14, 2011 in ideas, Twitter, writing

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Bailey’s Writing Tips audio podcast special episode 23: Oundle Lit Fest day 4

Day 4 of my time spent as a volunteer at the March 2011 Oundle Literature Festival was released on 6th June as audio podcast special episode 23 – featuring the talks given by children’s author / illustrator Nick Sharratt, historical novelist Simon Scarrow (during which I mention www.youtube.com/results?search_query=ken+robinson+ted&aq=f ), actor / autobiographer Warwick Davis and historian Michael Wood. Days 1, 2 and 3 were released as special episodes 16, 18 and 22. Day 5 (the final day) will be released as a special episode shortly after next Monday’s podcast; a mixed hints & tips format.

You can listen and / or subscribe to the podcast (launched August 2010 and now over 50 episodes later, usually released on a Monday). You can take your pick how you access it: iTunes, Google’s Feedburner, Podbean (when it catches up), Podcasters (which takes even longer!) or Podcast Alley (which doesn’t list the episodes but will let you subscribe) … these links are also contained within the left-hand ‘Where to find me’ menu. There are also podcast details (and much more) on my website www.morgenbailey.com.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on June 10, 2011 in ideas, LitFest, podcast, tips, writing

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Bailey’s Writing Tips: interviews & reviews

As additions to the hints & tips episodes of my Bailey’s Writing Tips podcast, I’ve reviewed some events I’ve been to but mostly interviewed a number of poets, novelists and short story writers, namely (in chronological order):

1. My interview with poet/Northampton Literature Group Poetry Circle’s lead Julia Tonkinson (released 24th Sept).

2./3. My interview with short story writer/novelist/competition judge Sue Moorcroft (part 1: 20th Oct; part 2: 28th Oct).

4. My interview with short story writer/course tutor Joanna Barnden (released 10th Nov).

5. My review of the weekend (20/21 Nov) that I volunteered at Chorleywood Literature Festival (www.cwlitfest.org).

6. My interview with western short story writer and novelist Jack Martin (released 16th Dec).

7./8. My interview with poet/lyricist Louis J Casson (part 1: released 13th Jan; part 2: released 20th Jan).

9.10. My interview with novelist Jane Lovering (part 1: released 25th Feb; part 2: released 5th March).

11. My interview with novelist Judith Allnatt (released 9th March).

12. My interview with Oundle Literature Festival Committee Members Paula Prince & Nick Turnbull (released 22nd March).

13./14. The first part of my review of my day (Saturday 2nd April) spent at Oxford Literature Festival was released on Monday 11th April and the second part, episode 14 released late Wednesday 14th April.

15. My interview with novelist Lesley Cookman (released 19th April).

16. My review of my first day as a volunteer at Oundle Literature Festival (released 25th April) – Andy Lane and Nigel Warburton. Day 2 released as special episode 18 (9th May) and Day 3 as special episode 22 (30th May). Days 4 & 5 to follow as future special episodes.

17. My interview with crime novelist Gary M Dobbs, aka western writer Jack Martin, (released 2nd May).

18. Day 2 of my time spent as a volunteer at Oundle Literature Festival (released 9th May) – Sarah McIntyre and the festival’s literature quiz. Day 3 released as special episode 22 (30th May). Days 4 & 5 to follow as future special episodes.

19/20. Parts 1 and 2 of my interview with poet Chris Ringrose: part 1 released Friday 13th May then part 2 was released as special episode 20 Sunday 15th May.

21. My interview with sci-fi/erotica writer Nobilis Reed (released 23rd May).

22. Day 3 of my time spent as a volunteer at Oundle Literature Festival (released 30th May) – Mark Billingham and Michael Robotham.

Days 4 (featuring Nick Sharratt, Simon Scarrow, Warwick Davis and Michael Wood) & 5 (featuring Katherine Jakeways and the ‘Rhymer’s Revenge’ murder mystery events) to follow as future special episodes.

In the next few weeks I’ll be chatting with novelist Jane Davis and crime writer Adrian Magson. I shall then be interviewing crime novelist Sally Spedding at the Winchester Writers’ Conference early July, and hopefully anyone else that I can catch a few minutes with.

I do have interview slots available thereafter so if you write (published or otherwise) and think you’d make an interesting subject, do email me. I don’t pay or charge. :)

You can also read an interview with me at Who Hub – if you interview authors and think I’d make a suitable interviewee, then do contact me.

Links to the podcast outlets (iTunes and Google’s Feedburner are the recommended avenues) are located in the ‘Where to find me’ left-hand menu of this podcast or on my website http://morgenbailey.com.

 
 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

If you’re suffering from writer’s block – try a word web

We were just chatting on the Linkedin forum about writer’s block and in one of my replies I suggested filling in a word web and was going to suggest a blank one on the internet only I couldn’t find one that could represent what I was talking about… not without wading through pages of educational and academic links so I thought, I’ve got one so I may as well put it on here. So here it is:

Word Web

 

Click on the following link to download the .doc version: Word web (blank)

It’s pretty self-explanatory but the idea is that you pick a strong word for the centre, i.e. if you were to pick something like zebra you might only get inital links of stripes, black/white, horse, crossing before getting stuck (which wouldn’t help your writer’s block at all). You could then get stars from stripes (which itself could lead to flag which could then go to half-mast… to half-past and so on) and piano from black/white and so on and so forth but with not many inital leads you may find your web top or bottom heavy. So I suggest picking a random page from a book then looking for a word that may lead in plenty of directions.

Once you have your web filled in (and of course you could start other webs with some of the keywords you’ve come out with), pick half a dozen elements and see if you can make a story out of them. You can take this literally and do what we do on a Monday night workshop and write a story in 10-15 minutes including four of those words. It’s amazing the different stories that can be born out of the same four words… disproving that all great minds think alike.

Good luck and have fun… and if you have a minute (after your 10-15 of course), do let me know how you get on.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on May 10, 2011 in ideas, recommendations, tips, writing

 

Tags: , , , ,

Extract from Bailey’s Writing Tips podcast episode 011 (Nov 2010) – a mixed bag’s ideas

In this section of the topic podcasts, I give provide a couple of story ideas or ways to get new ideas then list seven sentence starts picked from my http://twitter.com/sentencestarts Twitter page; each one, if you’d like to use them, for a daily writing project.

- Quick Writing Exercises has recently joined Facebook and it says is “a page for writers to get ‘warmed up’ and banish writer’s block. Try some quick writing exercises to get those creative juices flowing and brainstorm ideas!” One of the things they suggest is to write a Word Train. Similar to a Word Web (which I mentioned in episode 1) in which the words spiral out from the same word, a Word Train starts off with one word but each connecting word is produced from its predecessor – like an arm of a Word Web really. QWE then suggests picking the 5th and 10th word produced and including it in your chapter or scene, or if you’re feeling adventurous, in your piece of 55, 60 or 100-word flash fiction like my writing workshop group does.

- Another way of getting ideas is to look through newspapers and pick out individual words from article headings – for instance villains, dirty, tiger and hands (taken from the latest edition of The Weekly News) could provide a very interesting story!

Today’s sentence starts are…

1. The rocking chair swung…

2. Little did Janice know that…

3. Frank was so wrapped up in _____, that he didn’t notice…

4. Holly was prickly at the best of times… (is Holly the plant or a woman?)

5. As the door flew open, Innes…

6. Eddie’s face crumpled as he opened the envelope…

7. Grant curled into a ball as the blows rained…

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on May 8, 2011 in ideas, podcast, tips, Twitter, writing

 

Tags: , , , ,

Extract from Bailey’s Writing Tips podcast episode 010 (Oct 2010) – scriptwriting / ideas

In this section of the mixed podcast I provide a couple of story ideas or ways to get new ideas then list seven sentence starts picked from my ‘sentencestarts’ Twitter page (http://twitter.com/sentencestarts); each one, if you’d like to use them, for a daily writing project.

  • Although Script Frenzy doesn’t take place until next April, take a look at their website www.scriptfrenzy.org and pick three of their script generator ideas and mix them up.
  • Try taking a story that you’ve written or that you know well and convert it into a script. Because it’s a very different format to writing a short story or prose, it may be tricky to start but if you have difficulty writing dialogue or haven’t written much, then writing a script will definitely make you think.

And today’s sentence starts…

1.      Daphne watched intently as the old man teetered around the cracks in the pavement…

2.      “I don’t want to…”…

3.      I looked down and couldn’t see my feet …

4.      If only I’d been ten minutes later / earlier …

5.      Nigel saw the car and recognised the registration number …

6.      The suit felt so alien to him …

7.      Olive pulled at the hair on his chin but to her horror …

 
 

Tags: , , ,

Extract from Bailey’s Writing Tips podcast episode 009 (Oct 2010) – ideas

In this section of the hints & tips podcast I provide a couple of story ideas or ways to get new ideas then list seven sentence starts picked at random from my http://twitter.com/sentencestarts; each one, if you’d like to use them, for a daily writing project.

  • Children love animals so either think about an animal that isn’t written about very often (can you think of a famous giraffe for example?) or perhaps pick an ordinary animal and give it a twist (perhaps a blue dog?).
  • Take an ordinary every-day household object, for instance a clock, and make something unusual or magical about it.

And episode 9’s sentence starts were…

1.    Irene clung for control as the tyre burst…

2.    Zara wondered whether she’d make it in time…

3.    “Guess who turned up at ______ today?”…

4.    It was only one pay packet…

5.    Matthew (or Marion) looked in the mirror and winced…

6.    As the window shattered, scattering glass…

7.    Sharon signed the paperwork and knew life would never be the same again…

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 16, 2011 in childrens, ideas, podcast, tips, writing

 

Tags: , , , , ,

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 6,555 other followers