Fiction writing and events

Recently I went to an event along with two other members of my writing group @vivmillera and @mapike2013. It was run by the Dorset Writers’ Network at the Arts University of Bournemouth. The best aspects of the event were that a) it was free and b) you got a chance to meet with other writers.

I really enjoy meeting up with other scribes and hearing what they’ve been working on;  whether they are old hands at this writing stuff, or whether they are completely new to it and finding their way. The age range comprised Uni students in their twenties to octogenarians, and quite a few in-betweenies like me, proving age is certainly no barrier to writing.  It was a pleasure to bump into Tracy Baines and Gail Aldwin and a few other people I knew.

As a bonus, there were two mini workshops; one by Maria Donovan looking at how to pitch your novel to agents and publishers and the other by Peter Roe about using modern media (smartphones) as a device to move on your story, rather than by face-to-face conversation. This is the session I had picked and it certainly gave me food for thought.

At the book sales table I met Kathy Sharp, who was doing a grand job selling other people’s books as well as her own. I hadn’t realised how many she had written. I fear I can never come away from a book sale or shop without buying something, so I finally decided on Maria Donovan’s intriguingly entitled novel The Chicken Soup Murder. I’m a sucker for a good title! The last book I bought based on its title alone was Game of Scones by Samantha Tonge, which I enjoyed. And, though I have only got through the first few pages of Maria Donovan’s book, the beginning is excellent.

Of course, attending workshops and events means there is less time for the actual writing but, I always come away inspired, and ready to do battle with the computer keyboard again. Happy writing!

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NaNo month

Tomorrow is the start of National novel writing month #nano. While there is no chance of me finding the time to write a 50,000 word novel in November, I have decided that by thinking along the same vein, I could perhaps tackle the sequel to my children’s book Magic in the Attic.

The original book is around 10,000 words, so to write a sequel to that would be much more manageable. I already have a synopsis, I just haven’t got round to writing the book, although ideas have been swirling around my brain for several years. However, I hope it won’t take me about 18 years to publish this one. My working title is Not a Cat’s Chance and yes, it is about cats and yes, Fiona the fairy will return in it.

Last weekend my partner and I visited Furzey Gardens in Minstead in the New Forest. There are lots of little wooden fairy doors inserted into the trees and structures around the gardens, each with a sprinkling of fairy dust, or glitter, nearby to add to the atmosphere. It made me think of Fiona, my fairy, and what she might think of the place.  Even though she is a grumpy 100-year-old fairy, I think she would like it.

Good luck to all the NaNo writers who will attempt to write the full 50,000 words or more. May your words flow, and your fingers fly swiftly over the computer keys.

CHILDREN’S COMPETITION STORY

I posted in April that I had won the Bournemouth Hospital Radio Bedside Children’s story competition with my story Secret Visitor.

It has now been published in their annual publication. Click the link to read my story: HRB Winner 2017 . I apologise you have to read it sideways – I haven’t yet worked out how to turn it round.

I love the little illustrations that have been added to bring the story to life.

 

WOMEN’S MAGAZINES – AN UPDATE

Since my last post on the difficulties of writing fiction for women’s magazines, there’s been a development.

Going on the People’s Friend writing workshop must have helped, because a story I submitted afterwards has been accepted for publication. At last I will have something to show for my efforts.

My story, which I called The Bet, is set on a golf course and is due to be published in November. I can’t wait to witness it in print and to see how they illustrate it. Will they keep my title or will they call it something else? It’s so exciting!

I guess the moral to this, and the note to self should be: to never give up.

Writing for women’s magazines

I’m a little tardy in posting about this, as I have been on holiday in between, but in May I attended a People’s Friend fiction workshop accompanied by my writing friend Maryanne.

I have tried sending my stories to women’s magazines on and off over the last few years. It has been gutting to receive each story back a few weeks later with a compliments slip or letter saying “we have read your story with interest but no thank you,” or words to that effect.

I’ve had advice from other, more successful women’s fiction writers, attended workshops and had help from my fellow writers at the writing group I belong to, but still publication in this genre has evaded me. Almost at the point of giving up, I saw Tracy Baines mentioned the People’s Friend workshop on her facebook page. And, it was being held not too far from where I live.

I have to say this was a brilliant day, and money well spent. It was being run by Fiction Editor Shirley Blair and one of their most successful writers called Alison. The advice was good – what to do and what not to do; how to present your stories; market research about the readers; focusing on what the reader wants; what is taboo and what is not taboo; building your character profiles and more. There were also practical sessions where we had a chance to do exercises and then read out our work.

So, I’m really inspired to have another go. The only thing stopping me now is the day job of writing non-fiction and editing, which has suddenly got busy. So there may be a bit of a delay, but I’m more hopeful. I’m not greedy, just seeing one of my stories printed in the People’s Friend would make me happy. My fingers are crossed!

A little story success

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The life of a fiction writer has many ups and downs. Fear of failure, too many rejection slips, apathy by family members towards your creative output, and more can bring you down.

However, just once in a while there is a little success to keep you striving. On Saturday I heard I had won the Bournemouth Hospital Radio Bedside Children’s Short Story competition at an event at the radio station. Along with three others, a recording of my story was read over the airwaves and the winner was to be announced at the end. It’s an annual event and I was shortlisted last year so had visited the same studio.

This year I wasn’t feeling at all confident about my entry Secret Visitor, which is about a little girl who goes to stay in a big old house with her aunt and uncle and sees a ghostly cat. When I was announced as winner I was shocked and rendered speechless. I had to pour myself another glass of red wine. Luckily I wasn’t driving! (My thanks to Geoff.)

Two of my fellow members of the Writers’ Study group in West Moors, Dorset were also shortlisted – Maryanne Pike, and Vivienne Arkell, who couldn’t be with us as she is doing an epic Land’s End to John O’Groats (LEJOG) walk. It made it extra special to be among friends. So, in the pic you can see three of the four finalists. As well as Maryanne (left) and myself (centre) is Caroline Hall who attends another Dorset writing group.

I will try to remember this little success when I get my next rejection slip!

Magic in the Attic

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Goodness, is it so long since I last posted in my fiction word blog? Wow!

Maybe there hasn’t been anything really exciting to write about, but this week there certainly is. I have just published my first children’s book for kindle on Amazon. It is called Magic in the Attic, and I am embarrassed to say I have been writing it for 18 years. Not constantly you understand. For many years it was in a cupboard; then last year I got it out, dusted it off and started working on it again. Then things got busy with the day job so the printed-out manuscript sat on top of the filing cabinet looking at me accusingly and in my head I could hear it say “When are you going to finish me?”

One of my copywriting projects got put back, so it was the ideal opportunity to use that time. However, I didn’t know if I would manage the technicalities of putting the children’s novel onto kindle. After a timely and excellent article in Writing Magazine, I had the help I needed. So on Tuesday I uploaded my book and the technology worked.

The book is aimed at 7-9 year olds and written as a traditional fairy book. I like to think it is fun and amusing, and I did try it out on two children, who enjoyed it.

So here it is. I’m very proud to say my daughter Fran did the cover illustration. Here’s the link in case anyone is interested in reading it: https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss/254-6932614-3165065?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Magic+in+the+Attic+by+Carol+Waterkeyn

I would encourage anyone else who has a book lurking in a drawer to do the same and finally publish it. It’s a great feeling to send it out in the world!

Results

Following on from last month, I saw the new doctor with my weird symptoms, had blood tests and yes, as usual the test results all came back clear. I knew that would happen. Meanwhile, I’m still having moments of shakiness but at least certain possible causes have been ruled out.

On the subject of results, I’ve had a few of another variety over the last few weeks. Firstly, I have resurrected my manuscript of a children’s novel that I have been writing over the last 15-20 years. I have dusted it off and, am hoping to finally publish it electronically. Watch this space for further details.

I also got third place in my writing group’s end-of-term writing competition last month. It was judged by the lovely Tracy Baines. I received some excellent feedback from Tracy, which inspired me to enter the same story for an open short story competition.

More feedback came from a magazine I sent a story to. The Mudeford Magazine published my story called Fish Supper a couple of months ago and one reader contacted the magazine to say how much he had enjoyed reading it and even knew the two characters written about. This is amazing as they were totally fictitious! However, as a writer it is encouraging to receive such positive comments.6040671408_69807a2433_z

Photo: creativecommons.org