Thursday 27 February 2014

A Right Romance? Write a Romance
Feeling romantic?Just spotted this on Della Galton's Twitter post. @DellaGalton
PULSE, the publisher, is looking for romantic short stories. :) 

Call for Submissions – Holiday Romance Anthology

Sweet or sensual, Pulse is looking for summer holiday romance short stories for an upcoming anthology. They're open to any setting as long as the weather is warm and the romance is dramatic or interwoven with a dramatic story line. Word length guidelines aren't strict but they're looking for stories from around 2,000 up to 7,500 words. They're offering an advance of £30 per story and a share of the anthology royalties. 

Closing date: 30 April 2014
Send your stories to submissions AT

Call for Submissions – Emergency Romance Anthology

Sweet or sensual, Pulse is looking for romantic stories involving the emergency services! Fire, police, ambulance, it doesn't matter which emergency service as long as there is romance and emergency drama involved. They're looking for pulse racing stories for an anthology themed around the Emergency Services. Word length guidelines aren't strict but they're looking for stories from around 2,000 up to 7,500 words. They're offering an advance of £30 per story and a share of the anthology royalties. 

Closing date: 31 May 2014 
Send your stories to submissions AT

Thank you, Della, for sharing this. Good luck to all of you who enter. :-)
A Sense of Place

There won't be a post next Thursday because I shall be on a week's break in Gran Canaria. I've got my books and Kindle at the ready and I shall be taking my writer's notebook too. 

Different places can spark ideas for setting stories in a variety of locations. One of mine is called 'Meet Me by the Jacaranda Tree', set on the beautiful island of Madeira and is one of my moving on stories where Lucy has to decide whether to move on with her life after Rob's betrayal.

The beauty of the Jacaranda puts her back in touch with her senses which have been dulled by the acrimonious break up. 

The photograph prompt gave me an excuse to indulge myself and write more figurative and descriptive language than I would normally do in a short story. 

I often use pictures and photographs as settings for stories so I may get some good ones next week, who knowsWhat is the most exotic or unusual place you've used as a setting for a story? Did it add to the plot or have a bearing on the actions of any of the characters? Please comment and share your ideas.

Thanks for reading and if you'd like to follow me on Twitter, you'll find me on @JanBayLit.

Thursday 20 February 2014

To Blog or Not to Blog....?
.....That was the question for me at the end of last year. Two months on, did I do the right thing?

Some of you will have joined in a 'Chain-Blog-Thingy' back in November/December. It was started by Patsy Collins and involved putting a link to her blog, answering four writing questions, then putting the links to three more bloggers who would answer the questions the following week and pass it on in turn. I enjoyed reading the varied answers to the same questions on the blogs I read but I wasn't able to take part because a didn't have a blog at the time.

Because I was undecided, I asked writer friends what they thought were the benefits of writing a blog. 

- Writing a blog would help me become part of a community where I'll 'meet' other writers, readers and bloggers.

- A blog would give me an on-line presence and my blog posts would be shared without any geographical restraints.

- When (note the presumptuous 'when' and not the cautious 'if'!) I am to get my writing published, any prospective agent or publisher would expect me to have an on-line presence.

- A blog would educate me about the online world. I would learn more about social media and blog promotion as I learn to effectively promote my posts via social media.

- Writing a regular blog post would increase my writing output especially if I set aside a specific time each week.

- Writing a blog would take time away from writing short stories and especially my novel.

- It would be difficult to think of new things to write about each week.

- There are so many blogs out there with which to compete  that a new blogger would find it difficult to attract readers.

Well,  as you can see I went with the 'pros'. I've set aside time each Thursday to write my blog and far from keeping me away from writing, I think I've actually done more! It keeps me more focused on all things writing and my contact with other writing bloggers has inspired me to keep writing and submitting stories.  This blog is about my writing journey after all.

On Twitter, I have many more followers than when I started and my interaction with other writers has definitely increased. I can't say that this is down to having a blog but I'm sure having a web link to the blog spot on my profile page has helped. 

In the March edition of 'Writing Magazine', Wendy Clarke has written a very interesting piece entitled '@ Be a good blog host' which I recommend for those of you who haven't read it yet. Once I've been doing this for a while, I'll follow Wendy's advice when I invite one of you to be a guest on my blog perhaps! 

In the mean time, I shall....

What benefits have you had since you started writing a blog? 

Please follow my blog and feel free to comment.

Thursday 13 February 2014

Inspiration or perspiration?
A few times during the past week I sat looking at the computer screen knowing that time was slipping before meeting my writing buddy, Kelly. I had a story to write but there was certainly no inspiration coming my way! At our meetings since January, we've been going back through our notes from the 'Telling Tales' course we took together and last time had set ourselves 5Ws as the basis of a story to write by the time we next met. These were the 'ingredients' she'd chosen for me:
- WHO? a female hoarder
- WHERE? small valleys town
- WHEN? after receiving a wedding invitation 
- WHAT? death bed promise
- WHY? to right a past wrong
They were taken from a list that the whole group had offered to Lynne, our tutor. I knew the idea worked and my story And Then There Were Two....which was published on Alfie Dog last year started off from such a list. 

As preparation, I'd done a little research about people who are compulsive hoarders, I considered myself to be quite good at making links and connections but still nothing! I had to admit defeat and go along to Kelly's house empty handed. She hadn't written her story either so we took the time to talk through each other's ideas. What a difference that made. We then spent fifteen minutes just writing the beginning of our stories and I couldn't believe how the ideas started to last! The enthusiasm was back and I can't wait to finish the story now. I've also thought of title too so watch this space.

This got me thinking and looking back over the stories I've written. Just where did they come from? Sometimes, they've been seasonal or as a result of 'given' first lines. On other occasions, I've used a photograph or started with some character interaction. I know I enjoy reading Wendy Clarke's blog when she often tells us what inspired her writing and Patsy Collins amazes me with the variety and range of her short stories. Inspiration can come in so many guises and sometimes when you least expect it, I suppose. What has inspired you to write lately?

Is anyone else staying up half the night to watch the Writing Women's Fiction workshop from Writers' Web TV ? It starts at 11 p.m. GMT tonight and it's free. I watched the Crime Writers' workshop last month and it was very good but that was broadcast at 11 a.m. I'll let you know next week if I managed to watch it all....until 3 a.m.!!

Thursday 6 February 2014

Author, Writer or Someone Who Writes
There have been many articles and blog posts about when you can call yourself a writer. When you're published, when you earn money from your writing, when you spend much of your time writing? I know it felt strange when I included 'writer' on my bio for Twitter the first time back in 2011. Was I worthy of that title?

Well, on Monday I was called an author for the first time! Some of you will know that I've just returned from visiting my grandsons in Manchester. Isaac who is six and in Year 1 has been looking at authors and illustrators as part of a class topic. He told me all about Julia Donaldson and her illustrator, Alex Scheffler, and knew a number of her books in addition to 'The Gruffalo'.

'I told my teacher you're an author, Nana,' Isaac said. 

It is true that when I retired I wrote a chaptered story for Tom, his older brother, about a little boy who was born in Wales but then moved to Manchester. His secret friend, Dewi the Dragon, joined him in mischief each time he came to Wales on a visit. It was the first fiction writing I'd done for many years and when it was finished and checked I naively sent it off to Pont who had published two Teachers' Notes non-fiction books of mine a few years before. It was rejected - four years on, I can now see why - and so I decided to have enough copies printed for friends and family at a local book-binders. I typed it up and used family photos and Google images for illustrations.

A published author in the writing group that I joined some time afterwards told me I should not have put 'by' before my name - a dead give-away to the book's amateur status - but Tom and Isaac don't seem to mind. Isaac took the book in for his teacher and classmates to see the next day, proud that Nana is an author in his eyes!

He asked if I would write a book for him and before I left on Tuesday night, we planned a story together including the characters he wanted to be in it. How can I refuse my biggest fan?

I do find writing for children hard, though. 'Tom and His Secret Friend' was far too long and wordy. It had the feel of an adult narrating the story rather than the story being aimed at children throughout. Even now after a few years' writing experience, I don't seem to be able to get the voice right. I often write in the first person when writing stories for adults but I don't think it would work in Isaac's story. Do you write for children? How do you ensure the main viewpoint is that of the child? Any tips and advice would be gratefully received.