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How to write a guest blog post

Posted on : 12-09-2016 | By : admin | In : Blog

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I have had a guest blog post accepted at the Oxford English Dictionary website on the language in Jane Austen adaptions. I really enjoyed writing the blog post although it did require checking out some adaptions of some of Jane Austen’s books – a real hardship!

It’s one of the first times that I’ve got my own byline – usually I write for someone else. It never normally bothers me, but it’s hard to point your mum at something and say, ‘I wrote that’ when it has someone else’s name at the bottom of it.

I enjoyed writing the blog post and I hope it leads to more. In this instance, I was approached with an idea and it was one that I was happy to write about. What questions should you ask if you are approached with a request to write a guest blog post?

1. Can I have the website address please?

It’s a good idea to check out the blog that you are being asked to write for. Look at the style – does it fit in well with your writing? Is it a blog that you would like to write for? Do the blog subjects fit in well with the kind of thing you like to write? Make sure that it is something that you would be comfortable writing about.

2. How many words are you looking for?

It’s good to know how much you are expected to write.

3. When is the deadline?

You also need to know how long you have to write it.

4. What is your budget?

The subject of money needs to come up at some point. They may ask your rates. At this point, you can ask their budget and see if they match. You also need to ask whom copyright will reside with and make sure that you are comfortable with the answer. Finally do they pay on acceptance of the blog post or do they pay when it is published? There can be a big difference.

5. Can I promote my blog post on social media?

The answer most likely is ‘yes’ but it doesn’t hurt to ask.

Once you are happy with the answers to these (and any other questions you may have) then you can go ahead, research and write your blog post.

Three DOs

DO turn it in on time – or slightly ahead of time if you can.

DO accept any suggestions or revisions gracefully. I found that the revisions suggested improved my piece, but they were not so many that they completely changed it. The editor may suggest a new title or the piece may look different on publication, but at the end of the day, it is their blog and they know their style best. If you really disagree with something, then you can perhaps say something, politely but it is usually the Editor’s final decision.

DO let friends and family know when it is up and encourage them to go and read it and comment!

So on that note, please do go and check out my guest blog post on Jane Austen and feel free to start a conversation!  Thank you.

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Six Best Girl BFFs in Fiction

Posted on : 11-03-2016 | By : admin | In : Blog

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Sometimes it’s not just all about the romance in a  novel. For me, there is nothing like a brilliantly defined girl friendship. Our friends can offer us a shoulder to cry on, good advice, sometimes bad advice, a cup of coffee and a much needed listening ear when we need it.

best friends by michael dornbierer

best friends by michael dornbierer

Here are some of my favourite girl BFFs in fiction – feel free to add your own at the end in the comments.

1.Beatrice & Hero – Much Ado about Nothing (play) by William Shakespeare

Beatrice is such a strongly written character – many of Shakespeare’s women were feisty and strong and Beatrice is her own person who believes in herself and is confident. Beatrice is a little older and wiser than her friend Hero. Hero is younger and inexperienced. She is not jaded in love, but in love for the first time, so she has an extreme reaction to being accused of infidelity. Beatrice is a true friend to Hero: in troubled times, she stands by her friend, comes up with a plan to redeem her good name and will do anything to help her – even charging her one-time enemy (and would-be lover) Benedick to kill the man who has accused her friend. We could all do with a friend like Beatrice.

2. Elizabeth & Jane Bennett – Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen

These two sisters are very different people, but they get on so well. They are each other’s confidant and are able to talk about their feelings and their crushes very eloquently. They support each other completely. One of reasons that Elizabeth is so prejudiced against Darcy is that she believes that he separated her sister from her love, Mr. Bingley. The sisters are united in their embarrassment of their loud, match-making mother and rambunctious younger sister, Lydia. They commiserate with each other when it seems as though all is lost when Lydia elopes and they can rejoice with each other when it all comes right in the end. Thankfully, their men are BFFs too!

3. Glinda & Elphaba – The Life & Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Baum (based on the Wizard of Oz

The musical has taken the world by storm, and the unlikely friendship between Glinda, the good witch and Elphaba, the wicked witch of the west is at the heart of the story and the musical. Elphaba is green-skinned, an animal rights activist and not that interested in her appearance. Glinda is beautiful, aristocratic and very much concerned with how she looks, but these two girls find common ground and become good friends. Although they are only really together during their school days and are then separated for 20 years, they stay loyal to one another despite having different beliefs and their lives taking different paths.

4. Meg, Jo, Beth & Amy March – Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

The March sisters are a close-knit family whose story takes place during the American civil war. Their father is away, fighting and the family does not have much money. The girls make their own amusement by performing the plays that Jo writes. The girls all have their own personalities: Meg is grown-up and sensible, Jo is the creative one, Beth is musical and Amy is a very girlie girl. Although the girls bicker, their friendships endure and when things go wrong, they all pull together. This story and the three that follow (Good Wives, Little Men & Jo’s Boys) all follow the March sisters as they grow up.

5. Elinor & Marianne Dashwood – Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen

These sisters are very different people. Elinor is the elder sister, sensible to the point of almost losing her own happiness, a support to her family and always thinking of others. She wants to do what’s right according to the conventions of her time. Marianne is the opposite – giving in to her emotions and living in the now. These sisters do not really confide in each other – well, no one is left in any doubt as to how Marianne feels, but Elinor does not really share her feelings until she has no choice, but they love and support each other and rejoice when each finds her heart’s desire.

6. Anne Shirley & Diana Barry – Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery

These two girls meet and are immediate friends. Mrs Barry, Diana’s mother, is not too taken with Anne, who is an orphan mistakenly sent to help Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert on their farm but Diana refuses to listen to her mother and the two girls have such a lovely friendship. They love and support each other right the way through the books and this is one of my favourite fiction friendships.

These are just a few of the girl BFFs that are found in fiction. Most of these are friendships from long-standing novels (and a play) that many people will have heard of and enjoyed.

There are many more, and if I have missed out your favourite girl BFF in fiction, then please do share in the comments below.

If you liked this post, then please share it on your favourite social media.

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Great Hero Character Names

Posted on : 07-02-2016 | By : admin | In : 30 Blog Writing Challenge

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Hero text effect by Alan KlimNaming characters can be very problematic as an author. Some of the cleverest names have come from the author playing with words and enabling the name to reflect the character. Here are some of my favourites and why I like them so much.

Heroes of stories don’t always have heroic names. Harry Potter immediately comes to mind – a plain ordinary name for an extraordinary boy. LM Montgomery made much of her heroine’s name – Anne of Green Gables insisted on her name being spelt ‘Anne-with-an-e’ as plain ‘Ann’ was too ordinary. Oliver Twist, the orphan who dared to ask for more by Charles Dickens: that name suggests that his life is not going to be simple, but might have many twists. Eleanor and Marianne Dashwood of Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen, have names that suit themselves. Eleanor has a normal, sensible name while her sister has a poetic name which suits her personality.

Some characters are named after their characteristics such as Beauty in Beauty and the Beast. The March sisters in Little Women have normal names, but their surname suggests the wartime that they live in and that their father daily faces. Cinderella is traditionally named because she is always sweeping up the cinders, but it is also a quite pretty name. Percy Jackson by Rick Riordan is clever because his name is actually Greek – Perseus – but it is shortened to reflect modern times. The stories are based on Greek heroes of mythology so the main protagonist’s name is appropriate. The characters of Wind in the Willows actually run a little against type. Ratty is a good friend to Toad, who, although silly is never anything more than that. Badger does indeed conjure up a name that reflects sense.

Pip in Great Expectations is short for Philip Perrip, a great name. Catcher in the Rye has Scout which is a really cool name for a girl. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has Charlie Bucket which somehow reflects the poverty of his situation. Sherlock Holmes is such an unusual name, which has gone down into popular culture as the name of the greatest detective ever – you almost forget he is fictional. By contrast, his sidekick Dr Watson has a solid and sensible name.

Feel free to leave your favourite character’s name in the comments. There are many more great ones out there.

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