Saturday, 31 August 2013

How to Self Publish - All You'll Ever Need to Know

What do I know about self publishing a novel? Absolutely zilch as it happens but I know someone who does.

Joanne Phillips has done it again! Not content with providing us with her brilliant Writing Magazine Index (which incidentally has reached the top 10 most viewed posts on my blog), she has produced a series of posts on her website on How to Self Publish.  It is so comprehensive that if you can't self publish a book after reading this then you probably never will!
 Joanne Phillips lives in Shropshire, England with her husband and young daughter. Since leaving school she’s worked as a hairdresser, an air hostess and a librarian, but now divides her time between writing novels and freelance indexing. She’s the author of commercial women’s fiction Can’t Live Without and The Family Trap, and the Flora Lively Investigates series of cozy mysteries. Can’t Live Without was an Amazon top 100 bestseller in 2012 and her books regularly appear on category bestseller lists.

Joanne's latest book Murder at the Maples will be launched on Thursday 12 September.

How many more useful resources can Joanne dream up, I wonder?

Stop Press *** Coming Soon - a useful addition to Wendy's Story Timeline ... watch this space

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Ten Things You May Not Know About Canal Boat Holidays

Having just come back from my canal boat holiday on The Grand Union Canal, I thought it only fair to impart some little known facts about this form of holiday.
1. It is compulsory for all 'captains' of the boat to have a grey beard.
2. No one has told the boat designers that when you push the tiller to the right then the boat should turn right.

3. If you see a canal boat coming towards you as you approach a small bridge, get into top gear and go for it... you might get there first.

4. If a certain fair-haired writer screams 'Take the tiller!' as the gap between said boats gets smaller... they meant it! (see point 2).
5. Tunnels are long, dark and drippy.
6. If you want to look like Popeye by the end of the holiday, make sure you are the one to use the windlass at the lock gate.
7. White plastic bags are not always herons.
8. There IS such a thing as canal rage.
9. Be sure not to drink and drive... moor up before opening that bottle of Prosecco!

10. The party boat full of pirate clad students WILL moor up behind you... then follow you down the canal the next day.
Ha... hope that's put you all off!
If you would like to read a little relevant writerly stuff now, why don't you follow me over to
Charlotte Harrison's blog: A Place on the Bookshelf, where I am guest blogger on her Talking Tuesday's spot.

Do please support Charlotte, as she is a young and enthusiastic creative writing student and I think her new blog is great.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

The Girl in the Photograph - Read My Story in The People's Friend

Another in my series of inspiration behind the stories. This week, I have a story published in The People's Friend called 'The Girl in the Photograph'.

The inspiration was easy - it was the lovely illustration, by Andre Leonard, that accompanies my story in the magazine. One of the editors at The Friend asked me whether I might be able to write a story to go with it. The challenge to write a story, that would do justice to the illustration, was a challenge I couldn't refuse.

The setting was my starting point. The scenery behind the young couple in the picture, conjured up memories of holidays spent in the Lake District. I decided that the story would be based in the beautiful area around the village of Chapel Stile near Ambleside (you can see it in the photograph above).

The cottage I describe in my story is a small miner's cottage on the outskirts of the village where I have stayed twice. It has the most stunning view, over Lingmoor Fell, from the bedroom window. I decided this would be the cottage that my heroine Cassie would inherit (you see you can have a story published with an inherited cottage in it!)

Once I had my setting clear in my head, I looked at the girl in the illustration - at the look in her eyes. What was she thinking? Why did she look unhappy? I worked back from that and the rest was easy.

I was thrilled when my story was accepted and hope that if the illustrator reads my story, he will be happy with our partnership.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Like Father Like Son - Read My Story in the People's Friend Fiction Special

A double inspiration post today as I have been lucky enough to have stories in both The People's Friend and The People's Friend Fiction Special.

I'll start with my story in the special, 'Like Father Like Son'. In the town where I live, we have a local newsagents. It is small and sells papers, magazines, sweets, cards and the odd toy or two. The shop is often staffed with young people and whenever I go in, there are usually a couple of people in the queue in front of my at the counter.

One day, a few months ago, I was in the shop and there was an elderly lady in front of me. She was rather baffled by her paper delivery account and had trouble finding the right change in her purse. Behind the counter was a young lad, maybe eighteen or nineteen and I was struck by how patient he was: explaining carefully what the lady owed and helping her with the coins.

There were others in the queue, but the young man didn't rush the customer and made sure that she was happy with everything before moving onto the next in the queue.

I remember thinking how proud I would be if I was his parent - especially in a time when youths often get a bad name. I told my daughter when I got home and said, 'That boy was made to be a shopkeeper' and that got me thinking about the pressure young people have on them to go to university - feeling that they haven't succeeded in life if they don't. I knew it was a story I had to write.

I've no idea what happened to the young man - I haven't seen him in the newsagent for a long time and I wonder... did he go off to university? I'll probably never know.

My story in this week's People's Friend, 'For Eyes Only' was inspired by a little yellow beetle car that drove past me one day. I thought to myself, 'That is a car you would either love or hate', which led me to think about how embarrassed I would have been as a teenager if my mum had owned a car like it. This was the seed of my story. The James Bond theme, that is intertwined, came about because when I wrote the story, the new Bond film had just come out and it was all over the news and on the radio.

I wondered if any of the bond cars had been little yellow cars, did my research and - hey presto - found that Roger Moore drove a car just like the one I'd seen in 'For Your Eyes Only'. Good fortune or what!

I won't be blogging next week as I shall be relaxing on a canal boat but I have a story in next week's People's Friend as well, so look out for it. I shall write the inspiration for that when I come home.

Friday, 9 August 2013

Paint it With Passion, Claire - Read My Story in Fiction Feast

Another in my 'Inspiration Behind the Story' series. My story, 'Paint it With Passion, Claire' is published it this month's Fiction Feast. As many of you will know, I am definitely not a planner: my stories arrive from a snippet of conversation, something I might have read or seen or, as in this case, a memory.

As a child, I was lucky to have many holidays in France. The journey was by ferry from Newhaven to Dieppe and I used to love it... the scudding clouds, the rumbling of the engine and the seagulls following in our wake. I had been thinking about how I hadn't been on a cross channel ferry for years and the sights and sound came flooding back. I knew I had to write a story around this.

When I started writing the story, I had no idea where it was going to go. I knew I wanted my story to be set in France (a change from my usual Greece) but had no idea of the plot. As usual, the story just took over as I wrote it.  My heroine is a potter and this comes from both my mum and dad having been amateur potters when I was growing up. I remember the kitchen table being covered with clay and the sound of my dad's potter's wheel in the garage.

I am sure that Helen Yendall is wanting me to say that 'the sexy Alain' (her words) is someone I know or have met but I am afraid to disappoint... he is purely a figment of my imagination!

My next published stories are in next week's People's Friend and This month's People's Friend Special.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Happy 1st Birthday Dear Writing Blog

"Happy Birthday," said my husband.
"But it's not my birthday!" I said, surprised. It's usually me with the bad memory.
"No, but it's your blog's... It's one year old today."
It's official - Wendy's Writing Now is a year old!
I checked and realised that a year ago this week, I wrote my first blog post. I had just had my first magazine sale and was over the moon. I felt I needed to tell someone... someone who would understand why I was running round the kitchen island yelling with excitement. What I needed was the company of other writers.
A blog was the answer -  but how to do this when you are technologically inept? My usual course of action would have been to ask my husband to set up my blog for me but I was determined that it was to be my project. I decided to create the blog and have a few posts under my belt before showing him (when he eventually saw it, he thought it was great - bless him).
I was surprised at how easy it was to set up but what was harder was to think of what to write.
You might be interested to read my very first blog post here
Of course, at first, it was like writing in a wilderness. I had no followers, knew no one in the writing world and for the first few posts, was lucky if I had one or two page views (a year on and I have nearly 20,000).
I am forever grateful to writer Marianne Wheelaghan for commenting on my first blog post and to fellow womag writer Linda Lewis who became my first follower. It made me realise that there were people out there who might be interested in what I had to say.
The best thing about writing my blog is that it has been a way of making on-line writing friends. I was going to list them but that would take way too long and anyway, you know who you are. I just want to thank you all for supporting me though my first year of blogging and writing - I have been made to feel very welcome here in blog land. I will, though, give a special mention to talented writer Tracy Fells who I might never have met without this blog (we live in villages next to each other) - just think I might never have got to see the very large rucksack otherwise!
Over the year, I have written about my writing successes and failures, my bad dog Bonnie and her step-brother Bobbie, my love of dancing and singing and other random stuff. It is not the most literary of writing blogs but I hope that there has been enough to keep my readers interested or entertained.
Someone asked me recently what my favourite blog posts have been so I shall list my personal favourites (excluding guest posts).
1. Don't Feel Rejected It's important to remember that we all have rejections... often!
2. Not Made in Chelsea Another chance to look at my mum's beautiful garden.
3. Big Bad Bonnie Trap Such a bad dog!
4. Wendy's Story Timeline I use this all the time.
5. Wendy's Writing at the Woman's Weekly Writing Workshop includes the infamous assassination attempt!  Part 2 is here.
6. First Story Published in Fiction Feast  Lest I forget that exciting moment.
7. Mind Mapping Your Stories Link to a fantastic writing app.
8. People's Friend a Friend Indeed  Why I love writing for this magazine.
Recently, I have written a series of posts showing the inspiration behind some of my published stories - these can be found here.
I have had wonderful guests on my blog: Della Galton, Douglas McPherson, Becca Puglisi (from the Bookshelf Muse) and My Mum!
I have also been lucky to have been a guest on the blogs of Marianne Wheelaghan and Womagwriter.
Since writing that first blog post one year (and a hundred posts) ago, I find it hard to believe that first sale, a year ago, has grown to over thirty with stories published in The People's Friend, Fiction Feast and Woman's Weekly. You can read my story 'Paint it With Passion, Claire', in this month's Fiction Feast.
I know how lucky I have been and, yes of course, there have been a lot of rejections along the way but through thick and thin my blog and I are still here.
So, Happy Birthday Blog and thank you to everyone who reads it. I hope there will be many happy returns.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Fancy Writing for The People's Friend?

I have been very lucky, over the last year, to have sold many stories to The People's Friend and am in no doubt that the interest and guidance of the editors of this lovely magazine has helped my writing. They may not be the best payers but trust me - they are a great magazine to write for.

There is no better way to get to know what a magazine wants from a writer than by hearing from the person who will be reading (and hopefully buying) your stories. If you would like to have a go at writing for them too, then why don't you pop over to Samantha Tonge's blog today, where her guest is none other than their fiction editor Shirley Blair.

I have just visited Sam's blog and it is fascinating to know what is going on behind the scenes at The Friend. Shirley tells Sam about the creation of the People's Friend Annual 2014 which is published today.

She also tell us what short story themes are likely to be rejected:
  • elderly ladies in homes
  • elderly ladies afraid of the young
  • elderly ladies whose friends never visit
  • elderly ladies whose daughters bully them
Do you see the theme running through? Basically these are not feel good stories.

Other themes to avoid are:
  • inherited cottages
  • grandchildren given a technology free weekend
  • a retired husband getting under his wife's feet
...although Shirley does say that everything can be given a new twist.

A particular favourite theme of Shirley's is about women's friendship.

Please visit Samantha's blog for many more fascinating incites into the world of a People's Friend editor.

For anyone who hasn't already got them, the People's Friend guidelines are here.

My next story 'For Your Eyes Only' (unless the name changes) will be published in the August 17th issue of the People's Friend.