Wednesday, 23 November 2016

An Adventure Story For Children

Youthopia is a TV programme which showcases the talents of children from all over the country. But what is its real purpose?

Seven youngsters, whose average age is only twelve, find themselves in an adventure they will never forget.

Find Youthopia on Amazon.

Or read a preview here.

Monday, 31 October 2016

Back To The Classroom

I've recently taken advantage of a couple of writing workshops in the Nottingham area so I thought I'd share my experiences with you.

Sue Moorcroft Writing Commercial Fiction
Thursday 20th October Waterstones Nottingham

Award winning novelist and short story writer Sue Moorcroft was in Nottingham for the launch of her latest novel The Christmas Promise which was to take place that evening. In the afternoon she took a group of us through the stages of getting a book published. She reminded us that in order to sell we had to entertain and that we must assess our readership in order to hook them to our story.
A particularly encouraging piece of information from Sue was that it is an advantage to have been published in magazines. Amongst other things it gives you publishing credits, you become accustomed to rejection and it gets you an audience.
She went on to talk about pitching, literary agents and attending literary festivals. She explained about what to put in a cover letter and then talked about building your internet platform i.e. website, Twitter etc.
A very worthwhile three hours.

Stephen Booth Crime Writing Workshop
Saturday 29th October Long Eaton

Award winning writer of the crime series featuring police detectives Diane Fry and Ben Cooper, Stephen Booth was booked by Erewash Writers for a whole day of creative writing.
Stephen taught us how important characters are to a story. He explained how it is the character that drives the plot – not the other way round. He gave us some examples of questions we might ask about our main character as a way of finding out what sort of person they are. e.g. What kind of car do they drive? What books do they read?
He told us that if we want to imagine how to commit a murder we must inhabit that person. He also covered point of view and story construction.
He related a few tales of how involved the fans of his books become with the characters and the comments they make either via e-mail or in person at book conventions.
Apparently there is a hierarchy of murder victims according to how sympathetic readers are to the characters. Top of list are cats, dogs and other animals. Readers get most upset if an animal is hurt or killed. Next come children followed by teenagers and then women. It appears that male murder victims do not evoke much sympathy from readers and so the author has to work very hard to arouse any feelings that they might feel for the unfortunate person.
It was also interesting to learn that he doesn't plan his novels.
Again, a very productive experience.

I recommend that you watch out for any writing events in your area. You can always learn something from successful authors.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016


For the last few years, in between writing short stories, I've been putting together a children's adventure story. A couple of months ago I took the plunge and entered the world of self-publishing. I've been on a steep learning curve with Amazon's CreateSpace but now I think I'm nearing the end of the project. Not being the remotest bit artistic I struggled with the cover design but, with some expert advice and graphics software, I managed to come up with something I was quite pleased with.

Youthopia is a modern-day escapade aimed at early teens. I've put a few chapters on Amazon's preview page here.

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Some Fields Will Blossom While Others Lay Brown Beneath The August Sun

Well, August turned out to be a pretty good month for me.

I had a total of five stories published – two in The People's Friend 2017 Annual, one in the PF weekly mag, one in the PF Special and one in The Weekly News.

I didn't even know about The Weekly News one until Suzanne Ross Jones @sj_suz kindly informed me via Twitter. Just goes to show the usefulness of Twitter and the power of the writers' network.

I've just attended one of the Woman's Weekly writers' workshops in Manchester. This was run by editor Gaynor Davies and prolific writer Della Galton. The event was attended by writers of all abilities and we all came away with some very useful feedback. I was particularly impressed by the interest that was shown for everybody's writing attempts and the patience they showed when assessing our work. I was also pleased to meet up with fellow magazine writers Margaret Skipworth and Joanne Duncan.

It's back to the writers' clubs this month after the Summer recess. I get some great ideas and inspiration from both of my groups. I wish you all the best in whatever endeavours you're engaged in at this time.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

More Excuses

I know I say this every time but I've been very busy.

It's over two months since I last posted on here. After the A levels at the sixth form college finished there were still quite a few exams I was called in to supervise at the NVQ college where I work. But now there won't be many until it picks up again in September. So no more excuses. (Maybe).

Not only that, I've also neglected to comment on other blogs. The list of blogs I follow has mysteriously disappeared from my profile page. I think the list is still somewhere in my account but I can't seem to get it back on my profile. Has anyone else had this problem?

I had two stories in The People's Friend in July and another two this month. The People's Friend 2017 Annual has also come out this month and I have two stories in that. I'm trying to keep up the submissions for other magazines but when you're having success in one area you tend to concentrate all your energy that way don't you?

I'm booked in for the Woman's Weekly Story Telling Workshop in Manchester on September 8th. I've never had any success with Woman's Weekly so I'm hoping to find out why this is. Is anyone else going?

Anyway I'm off to listen to the Test Match get some writing done.

Thursday, 2 June 2016

A Roll Of The Dice

I have The People's Friend themselves to thank for the inspiration for my latest story When In Rome in the June 4th edition. I'm still going to claim the payment though. After all, I did all the hard work.

I attended their workshop in York last October and one of the exercises involved the use of story cubes. For those of you who don't know what these are – they consist of a set of dice which have symbols on each face. The images include a magnet, a keyhole, a bee, a set of scales etc and, with 9 dice, have a total of 54 little pictures. I threw one die and it came up with a depiction of a water fountain. I scribbled down a few ideas and came up with a scenario that I worked on back home. The final story takes place in Rome and features a famous fountain which was also the backdrop for a 1960s film.

I've had a set of these cubes for a while so I was familiar with the concept. You can throw just one or a number of them and then try to fashion a story from the images that finish face up. They can also be used to amuse children either at home or while travelling. You can get them from Amazon and they only cost a few pounds.

I also have a story coming up in the June 18th edition and there are about another ten in the pipeline so it's all going pretty well so far.

Friday, 22 April 2016

Still Going

Sorry I've neglected this blog for a while. I don't how some of you find the time to post two or three times a week.

My two colleges have been keeping me busy and it's going to get even busier when the A Level exams start next month. I'm even supervising some International Baccalaureate exams on bank holiday Monday.

Despite all this I've still managed to keep the momentum going since the excellent start to the New Year. I've surpassed the fifty total sales mark with a few more to The People's Friend. One story actually started off life at the PF workshop in York last October. Another was a revamp of a piece of flash fiction I did for a Nottingham Writers competition. So you never know where the next bit of inspiration is going to come from.

At Nottingham Writers' Club we're currently adjudicating entries to our national short story competition. We're pretty excited that the final judging will be done by Patsy Collins.
My other club, Trowell Writers, have now got their own Twitter feed @TrowellWriters so please Follow us, give us a Retweet or two and send us a comment.

It's grandchildren time at the weekend, the cricket season has started and it will soon be time for the cycling Grand Tours. So more distractions. Ho hum. Must get on. See you soon.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Keeping It Going

It's not been a bad start to the year.

I found out that I've had a story published in the Indian magazine Woman's Era. They sent me a PDF copy.

I had a story in The People's Friend Special No.117.

I've had a story accepted by Yours magazine.

After a two year gap I've had a story accepted by Take A Break.

On the first meeting of the year for Nottingham Writers' Club I ran a workshop about scene setting. It seemed to go down well.

I just need to keep the momentum going. I hope you can too.