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Where Do Writers Write?

Posted on : 21-04-2015 | By : admin | In : Enjoying Writing

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Writing on a mailbox desk by Julie Jordan Scott

Writing on a mailbox desk by Julie Jordan Scott

Roald Dahl famously had a chair in a hut at the bottom of the garden where he wrote his wickedly funny stories. Ernest Hemmingway wrote standing up as did Victor Hugo, the creator of Frankenstein. Charles Dickens wrote at a desk that he was so attached to, that he had it shipped away on holiday with him.

Jane Austen sat at a very small table to write at. You can see the table at the Jane Austen museum in Bath. It is not much bigger than a small side-table but then all you really need is somewhere to rest a pad of paper and a pen. Not for Jane the towering pile of notes to one side. She may also have been interrupted frequently by her family when writing.

Mark Twain wrote the first book on a typewriter. Such new-fangled technology it must have seemed! George Eliot had a small ornate writing desk that has sadly been stolen from the museum where it was kept. Agatha Christie used a typewriter to write 80 books! A picture of Virginia Woolf’s writing desk shows a small square table placed on a terrace, overlooking a view while Jackie Collins has a huge desk, shiny and polished, surrounded by beautiful and probably expensive things. Then there’s the cafe in Edinburgh where JK Rowling wrote the first Harry Potter book in longhand pencil.

Some writers surround themselves with books: Nigella Lawson has been pictured in a room where books rule the roost – tall shelves surround her, but there is still not enough space and piles of books are under and around the desk she works at too. The late great Terry Pratchett was pictured a few years ago with six screens on his desk although in recent year his illness had meant that he needed to dictate his work.

Where do I write?

The best place I have ever written was on holiday in the Isle of Wight. I had something I wanted to finish and took my PC away with me. The chalet overlooked cliffs and the sea was in the distance, the weather was balmy and to just sit at that small table and write was heaven…

More usually, I have taken over what used to be known as DH’s study. I still call it that, but it’s now mostly consisting of my notes, my books and my odds and ends. It is a sunny room and on hot days I can open the back door to the garden and enjoy the weather.

Feel  free to share where you write in the comments below…

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The Creative Writer Interviews Kathleen McGurl, UK Author

Posted on : 27-02-2015 | By : admin | In : Author Interview

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Second novel by Kathleen McGurl

Second novel by Kathleen McGurl

Kathleen McGurl lives near the sea in Bournemouth, with her husband, sons and cats. She began her writing career creating short stories, and sold dozens to women’s magazines in the UK and Australia. Then she got side-tracked onto family history research – which led eventually to writing novels with genealogy themes. She has always been fascinated by the past, and the ways in which the past can influence the present., and enjoys exploring these links in her novels.

When not writing or working at her full-time job in IT, she likes to go out running or sea-swimming, both of which she does rather slowly. She is definitely quicker at writing.

You can find out more at her website, http://kathleenmcgurl.com/, or follow her on Twitter @KathMcGurl .

Name: Kathleen McGurl

Writer Alias (If you are willing to share)  I don’t have one

Rough Idea of where you live: Bournemouth, UK.

1. What is the first piece of writing that you remember doing?
As a child I was always writing stories, often for my own amusement. I
remember starting a novel when I was about 11, which was to be about a
highwayman’s daughter who became a highway-girl herself. I don’t think it
got very far. As an adult I started writing a novel when on maternity leave,
20 years ago, but then my son was born and took up all my time. But I knew I
was always going to be a writer some day. Eventually, when the kids were
both at school, I started writing properly and have not stopped since.

2. Has there ever been an unusual way that a story has occurred to you?
Ideas come from anywhere and everywhere but probably the most unusual was
one which occurred to me while I was swimming in the local pool. What if, I
thought, there was a ghost at the bottom of the pool in the deep end? By the
time I’d completed 40 lengths I had the full story planned in my head. I
sold that one to a woman’s magazine and also included it in my book Ghost
Stories and How to Write Them.

3. What is the best story title that you have never used? Is there a worst?
I am terrible at titles so I can’t say I’ve ever thought of a good one and
not used it. My books tend to have to put up with temporary titles until
they’re almost finished. The Emerald Comb was called The Next Novel for a
long time while I was writing it!

4. Which story would you love to have written?
Anything by Kate Morton. I love her books, especially The Secret Keeper.

5. What is the one tip that you would give aspiring authors?
Keep writing. If you want to be a writer, make sure you prioritise writing
over everything else.

6. What is your current project?
Having just finished my second novel for Carina UK – The Pearl Locket – I
have three more novel ideas to flesh out. At the moment I am not sure which
one I will start writing next, but it’ll definitely be another dual timeline
book as I love writing them!

Thanks so much for having me on your blog, Sarah!

Kathleen McGurl, Author

Kathleen McGurl, Author

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Author Interview – Meet Carys Jones

Posted on : 06-02-2015 | By : admin | In : Author Interview, Blog

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Carys Jones UK Author

Carys Jones UK Author

This week Carys Jones, author has agreed to answer my Author Interview questions. Carys has written three books about attorney Aiden Connelly in her Avalon series and Prime Deception. She is also about to branch out into Young Adult fiction with her first book, Dare to Dream due out soon. You can find synopses of Carys’ books at her website and they are available at Amazon.   Name: Carys Jones Rough Idea of where you live: I live in Shropshire, England, UK

  1. What is the first piece of writing that you remember doing?

When I was about five or six I used to make little magazines about a stick character called Pod. He’d walk his dog, go to the shops, nothing too exciting but it was my first attempt at storytelling and I used to bind the pages together with staples and charge my poor Dad ten pence for each edition!

  1. Has there ever been an unusual way that a story has occurred to you?

A couple of my stories have occurred to me following a dream. I keep a notebook in my bedside drawer so that if I wake up from a particularly vivid dream I can hurriedly scribble down the details for future use.

  1. What is the best story title that you have never used? Is there a worst?

Some of my story titles have changed once the books were published which probably means that they weren’t the best titles originally; Not All Stars Sparkle became First to Fall and Maggie Trafford Dreams of Armageddon became Dare to Dream

  1. Which story would you love to have written?

It has to be Flowers in the Attic by Virginia Andrews. It is one of my all-time favourite books and is just so powerfully written. The great stories are always the ones which are most evocative, those which stay with you long after you’ve read the final sentence.

  1. What is the one tip that you would give aspiring authors?

Write. Write as much as you can as often as you can. There is no better way to learn about yourself as a writer than to write.

  1. What is your current project?

I’m currently writing the 4th book in my Avalon series, Fourth to Run, and editing my YA novel Dare to Dream prior to its release later in the year.

 

First to Fall by Carys Jones

First to Fall by Carys Jones

 

Second to Cry by Carys Jones

Second to Cry by Carys Jones

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can find out more about Carys at:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/tiny_dancer85

Thank you, Carys, for taking part in The Creative Writer author interview.

Subscribe to the newsletter for up-to-date information on this blog.   If you would like to take part as an author/freelance interviewee then email me at sarahthecreativewriter[at]gmail.co.uk

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Freelance Interview with Sarah Arrow of Sark e-Media

Posted on : 29-01-2015 | By : admin | In : Blog, Freelance Interview

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Sark e-Media Logo

Sark e-Media Logo

Sarah Arrow of Sark -Media has agreed to be my next interviewee. I hope you enjoy her answers as much as I did.

Name: Sarah Arrow

Writer Alias (if you are willing to let us know)

I have several, including Sarah Stanton, Danielle Stanton, Danielle Field and few others that I’d rather not mention.

How long have you been a writer?

Erm, I’m not sure. I’m not sure that I even like writing at times! However I just can’t seem to leave it alone long enough to allow something else to take over! Rough idea of where you live: I live in Essex approximately 12 miles from London. Which is close enough to love the City, but far enough away to breathe. My house is on a golf course and in the summer I write in the garden, watching the golfers play. The 8th hole is at the bottom of my garden, so the last 10 feet of it is a no-go zone when they play. Sometimes I sneak to the fence and throw a ball back onto the green when they’re not looking.

Are your clients local, global or a mix?

My clients are a mix of global and local. The power of the internet means we can do business anywhere that speaks English.

1. What is the first piece of writing that you remember doing?

My first piece (that I can recall) was an article on Henry VIII. I grew up in East London which is rich in history from the Tudor period. Roads are named after his first two wives and many of the landmarks are related. I found it compelling, yet gruesome to be a Queen in those times and I was thankful to be born now. I still have a fondness for Katherine of Aragon, and I often wonder how England would have looked if she’d have had a son. Did you know she was Regent of the country for a while and she martialled an army to repel Scottish forces? She won.

2. What made you realise that you wanted to write for a living?

It crept up on me! One day I was on maternity leave and playing with the children, the next day I was a blogger! I write prolifically as I’ve found when you do something more you get better at it.

3. How did you get your first client?

My first client came from a blog post and that fascinated me, I wanted to pick apart why that post worked, why the person contacted me to work with them… The rest they say is history.

4. What do you wish that you had written?

Where do I start! Harry Potter (for the money), I wished that I’d written that. I love how children worldwide started to read again with Harry Potter, proving that they don’t need dumbed down writing, but books that make them feel, and understand those feelings. I’d also loved to have written Philippa Gregory’s books, she writes very readable historical fiction. There are so many wonderful women writers, and I’m going to read Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel next and by the end of it I’m sure I’ll wish that I’d written that as well! If it was a non-fiction book, then Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art. It’s the book I read the most, I have it on audio and I pick it up at least once a day. I have a handbag edition, a car edition and an under-the-bed edition (for when I lack motivation). To write this book, I’d have had to live a full life and then share my wisdom, and that’s part of the reason I love it so much.

5. What is the one tip that you would give aspiring writers?

To keep writing. The words are no good if they’re in your head. So write them down, type them.. Just get them out of your head and onto the page. Don’t be scared to experiment, don’t think you can’t self-publish as that’s not real writing (look at E.L James she did it and now lives in the centre of London in a fab home), you can do anything you want to do, but if you keep the words locked up… No one will ever know your brilliance.

6. What is your current project?

Aside from my 30 day blogging challenge, I’m writing an alternate history book about a famous English battle. I’ve mapped the book out, the characters and the basic plot and I’ll soon be ready to start filling the pages!

Sarah from Sark e-Media

Sarah from Sark e-Media

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can find Sarah at her blog, Sark e-Media where she is currently running a 30 day blogging challenge.

Thank you, Sarah for agreeing to be on my blog. There will be more author/freelance interviews soon so keep checking this page for more details.

Subscribe to the newsletter for up-to-date information on this blog.

If you would like to take part as an author/freelance interviewee then email me at sarahthecreativewriter[at]gmail.com

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You Got a Writing Job – Now What?

Posted on : 09-07-2010 | By : admin | In : Finding Freelance Writing Jobs

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Photo on Flickr by Camera Slayer

The answer came back to your carefully crafted email, letter, query etc and it was positive. You have got a writing job!

Now what?

The natural reaction may to be panic! You’ve achieved the first step on the rung of a very long and high ladder, but now you have to fulfill your promise and do the work.

You are welcome to run round in circles, punching the air or any other kind of victory dance that you may wish to do. When the first excitement has died down, turn your focus onto what it is that you will need to do.

The first thing to do is to make contact with your new client. The contact may be through phone, Skype or email. It is fine to make the first contact – they chose you for the job which means that they must want you to do it.

Try and think of any questions you may have. This first contact is important. You need to know what your client is expecting you to deliver. You need to clarify deadlines. You need to clearly understand what the job will entail. Approach any phone call with a notepad and pen to hand.

Once you have spoken to your client and understood the work, then plan out what you are going to do and when. You may have to do a small sample and send it back to your client to check that he is happy with what you are doing.

Once you get your client’s OK, then you can begin. Do your best work and try to impress them to keep any ratings high and enable you to receive recommendations from them.

You may have to send regular status reports if you got the job through a bidding site, but this is generally just giving the client an idea of where you are up to with the job so that they can be satisfied that you are getting on with your work.

Once you have finished your writing work, give it a final proof-read and polish before sending it in. Make sure that you are finished well before the deadline to allow yourself time to check it thoroughly.

Once you’ve sent your work in, be prepared that there may be small changes that the client wants to make. This is where you may have to be a little assertive.

Some writers will allow small changes or one rewrite, but if a client is getting too fussy then it may be best to negotiate an extra rate. This involves talking to your client and keeping them updated on your progress.

It’s time to invoice your client. Work through a jobs board will have a set up where invoices are generated automatically. If you use a system like Escrow, then the funds have already been made available and the system will release the funds to you once both parties are satisfied with the work.

It is a good idea to set up a Paypal account as this is easiest to administer when dealing with clients through other countries. Many of the jobs boards deal in US dollars when paying contractors.

Finally remember to keep track of your jobs and earnings using a spread sheet for tax purposes.

Photo Link: Fireworks#1

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Finding a Writing Job Part 1

Posted on : 16-06-2010 | By : admin | In : Finding Freelance Writing Jobs

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Photo on Flickr by Mobile Edge Laptop Cases

I’m from the UK. I live in a town in the Midlands. I have started to write for a living. I have been researching about freelance writing on the web for a number of months now. Then I decided that it was time I did something about it.

What Did I Find Out?

I found a lot of great websites out there. Many are helpful. Some just want to sell you something. In there, however there are some gems that will help you learn to take on freelance writing as a job.

Where can I find jobs?

There is the traditional way of writing a letter to an Editor of a publication which is known as a ‘query letter’. You are selling yourself through words – something you need to learn to do when you want to make a living that way.

The law of averages says that if you send out enough of them, then you must get a job eventually. You will also get a lot of rejection letters too. It helps you to develop a thick skin but does not necessarily pay the bills.

Content Mills

You can apply to become a member of a content mill. The name says it all: writers churn out a high volume of articles of mixed quality which are then put up on the web usually alongside lucrative targeted advertising which makes the company that owns them money.

Most offer writers some of the advertising proceeds, some will pay writers a nominal sum, still others pay a little more. The process is not perfect and you are not adequately compensated for your time. They could be considered a way to learn your craft.

Jobs Boards

There are websites out there that offer jobs and a way to apply for them on email. They offer free memberships which are restricted as to the number of  jobs you can apply for, or paid memberships which offer better access to jobs. Taking a free membership is a great way to see what is out there.

Apply Yourself

If you have a strong sense of what you are good at: if you can write well and are confident in what you can do, then ask around companies by you and see what jobs you might be able to do for them. This is the best way to find a job that will pay the bills, but it can also be the most scary.

Resources

If you want to put a query to a magazine, then find out the person you need to write to. You can do this online. You might also like to check if the magazine has any guidelines that need to be adhered to before submitting.

Bear in mind that magazines usually work at least six months ahead, so seasonal material will need to be submitted well in advance of the actual holiday.

Content Mills are places like Demand Studios, Associated Content, Suite101 among others. You need to check up on them, read through what they require before deciding to submit to them.

Jobs Boards include www.Elance.com and www.guru.com

They will give you an idea of the kinds of jobs out there, but don’t bid for peanuts just to land a job. That is not the way to get a career going.

I will cover these subjects in more detail over time.

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How to Tell if Your Writing is Good

Posted on : 04-06-2010 | By : admin | In : Enjoying Writing

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Photo on Flickr by Janos Feher

You’ve written a story. It may have flowed easily from your pen, or it may have come in fits and starts. You have got it in front of you: on a laptop, a notebook or a piece of paper. Now what?

Leave it for 24 hours. Or 48, or for a reasonable amount of time. You want to lose the immediacy of having written the story and to have forgotten some of the details. Then read it through again, trying to read it as a reader rather than the author of the piece. You will pick up on annoying phrases, repeated words, spelling mistakes. Ignore them for the moment and read through the story as a whole. Jot down impressions, ideas. Did it all work or was the thinking behind it a little woolly?

Go through the story again and pick out the weak points. Mark them out. Check out discrepancies, spellings, grammar. On a computer this can be easy as most desk top publishing packages will help you pick out any glaring errors. Make sure that you are working in the correct language so that the spellings are correct as English and American spellings can vary.

Your story is as good as you can make it? Now what?

Some people are happy to leave it there and just keep their stories in a file on the computer or in a drawer. Others want to know: is it any good?

The easiest way to know is to ask someone else to read it through. Did I say ‘easy’? Actually that is one of the hardest things to do! We all own our writing and can be very sensitive about it. Choose someone you trust and who knows you well. You may find that they have something that they would like you to read as well. The main thing when critiquing someone else’s work is to be kind and gentle, but fair. It is a difficult thing to learn.

Another way to find out if your writing is any good is to join a local writing class or group. Many local colleges offer creative writing courses these days and it can be a good way to get to know people with similar interests and a way to have your stories read. It can be a real confidence booster when you come up with a story that everyone enjoys.

There are also online groups which allow you to post stories to be critiqued and to give you the opportunity to critique someone else’s story. Be warned, however that the anonymity offered by some of these sites can be seen as an opportunity to be blunt.

It is good to take risks. Sometimes the result is a pleasant surprise. If you want to get serious with your writing, then seeking others’ advice is a good way to take. It can be difficult to get your confidence at first, but can also become addictive.

Try showing someone else your writing today and add in the comments if you were brave enough to do so.

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