Monday, September 10, 2012


In this post I wanted to share with you some interesting information about Stephen King on short stories. The following he wrote about very early in his career when the little bit of extra income he needed came from the short stories he was able to sell: "The stories when they sold (they didn't always), were simply a welcome bit of found money. I viewed them as a series of pinatas I banged on, not with a stick but my imagination. Sometimes they broke and showered down a few hundred bucks. Other times, they didn't."

As Stephen King became involved in his novel writing he wrote fewer and fewer short stories. He became dismayed. There were stories he no longer knew how to write, these stories were eluding him. "There are a lot of things in life that are like riding a bike, but writing short stories isn't one of them. You can forget how. Certainly it never occurred to me that writing short stories is a fragile craft, one that can be forgotten if it isn't used almost constantly. It didn't feel fragile to me then." Stephen King thought if he read enough short fiction, immersed himself in it he might be able to recapture some of the effortlessness that had been slipping away. He didn't see losing his ability to write short stories as a fair exchange for a wallet load of credit cards. From there he read hundreds of stories during his year as a guest editor for Best American Short Stories and as he had hoped he got excited all over again and started writing short stories again.

After reading this I have come to the following conclusions:

Even the best of writers struggled long and hard before their careers took off. It was their persistence, determination and hard work that fulfilled their hopes and dreams.

The absolute importance of using your creative ability constantly so it doesn't become lost.

Keep writing....

Friday, August 24, 2012


I've been in limbo searching for an idea for a blog post, so I did an inventory of my writing instead. This is where I'm at:-

My novel Dream Keeper is now available in multi-format ebook through Amazon, Amazon UK, Barnes & Noble Nook Store, Apple istore and Google ebooks. Dream Keeper is being represented at international book expos.

Novel manuscripts submitted = 2

Short stories accepted and being published in September = 2

Short stories submitted AKA 'playing the waiting game' = 105. (mind boggling)

Short stories in the drafting process = 4

Article accepted and being published in September = 1

Entered short story in FableCroft anthology competition. (fingers crossed)

Received an email requesting I cut the word count of 3 short stories and resubmit. (This is hopeful.)

When I consider the ratio of stories submitted to the ones accepted, that becomes a scary thought to me. Recently my ratio rate was one in nine stories accepted and the editor's comment was, 'It's actually a pretty good success rate!' Makes you sit back and think doesn't it? I figure to improve on that ratio I've got to write more, revise and tighten up rejected stories to ensure they're the best I can make them be ... and never ever give up!

Keep writing....


Wednesday, August 8, 2012


When I create characters I spend time thinking about their names, how they look, what motivates them, their strengths and their weaknesses. I observe the world around me and take 'snippets' of people to create new people. I wondered about other authors and their thoughts on characters and wanted to share this with you:

Dean Koontz - One dimensional characters do not engage the reader's empathy, and if the reader does not worry about what might happen to them, suspense is aborted.

Stephen King - It's dialogue that gives your cast their voices, and is crucial in defining their characters - only what people do tells us more about what they're like, and talk is sneaky: what people say often conveys their characters to others in ways of which they, the speakers, are completley unaware. Well crafted dialogue will indicate if a character is smart or dumb, honest or dishonest, amusing or an old sobersides.

Sidney Sheldon - When I begin a book, I start out with a character. I have no plot in mind. the character begets other characters and soon they begin to take over the novel and chart their own destinies.

W. Somerset Maugham - People are too elusive, too shadowy, to be copied; and they are also too incoherent and contradictory. The writer does not copy his originals; he takes what he wants from them, a few traits that have caught his attention, a turn of mind that has fired his imagination, and therefrom constructs his character.

How do you go about creating your characters?

Keep writing....

Monday, July 30, 2012


Does the title of your story spark interest?

Read your story aloud ensuring that it flows from beginning to end - eliminate the stumbles.

Does your story capture the reader's attention from the beginning wanting them to read more? Ensure each and every word is a progression to your ending advancing the plot; be ruthless and remove unnecessary padding - irrelevant information that does not progress your story is not the solution to meeting a word count. Is your ending surprising yet fitting and altogether a satisfying conclusion?

Be consistent with your point of view, the tense (past or present), names, descriptions of characters (hair, eyes, clothing etc).

Check the POV used. Would your story work better if it was told in a different POV?

Do your words paint pictures in the reader's mind?

Double check the basics of grammar, spelling and punctuation.

Follow editors guidelines and meet their requirements; word count, genre, presentation and whether they prefer emails or traditional post.

Above is a short story checklist I started for myself. I hope it helps you in some way. If there are any points you can improve on or better still, add to the checklist please let me know in your comments. It's a good thing to help each other :-)

Keep writing....

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


I've been enjoying reading Patricia Briggs who writes urban fantasy which she describes as a fusion of horror, noir mystery, detective mystery, and fantasy with bits of romance thrown in. Here's what she has to say about an important thing fiction of any kind does:

"Fiction, good fiction, allows the reader to see the world through someone else's eyes. When I read I can be a black man or a young child. I can be an old woman or a deer named Bambi. Understanding how someone else thinks is the first step to accepting their differences. In a world that between faster communication and growing population, decreases in size every day, and in the light of the events of 9/11, it is imprtant for us to be able to walk a mile in another's moccasins. Books are, in my opinion, the single best medium to develop the understanding necessary to live together on our earth."

Keep writing....

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


I've heard it before and I've asked the same questions myself; How does one achieve writing success when there are obstacles such as the decline of the short story market, the bombardment of rejections because the supply exceeds the demand and the fierce competition from writers who seem to have secured their niche with certain magazines? How indeed!

In my writing world I have been fortunate to have experienced the odd years where I've surprised even myself with the amount of short stories I've had published, and then there have been the years where the amount of rejections I've received has to be some kind of world record. In those times I began doubting myself. This put me in a bad place. Writing gives me a sense of self, so giving up was not an option. I reassessed my situation. I knew a story acceptance would renew the faith I had in myself, and always a short story sale sparks something inside of me which motivates and inspires - the magic returns and more acceptances follow. I was determined and I persevered.

It had been many months since I'd seen one of my short stories published and now I'm happy to say within a fortnight I've had five sales. What changed? My attitude.

Achieving writing success is about working hard, commitment, believing in yourself and continuing to put the effort in despite all obstacles.

If you don't believe me here is what two successful writers have to say on the subject:

"I will gladly testify that craft is terribly important, that the often tiresome process of draft, redraft, and then draft again is necessary to produce good work, and that hard work is the only acceptable practice for those of us who have some talent but little or no genius." - Stephen King

"When I first went full-time, I worked about fifty to sixty hours a week. I assumed that when and if I became successful, I'd be able to relax a little. Now I work seventy hours most weeks, and as much as eighty hours when I'm especially captivated by a piece." - Dean Koontz

Keep writing....

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


It can be difficult to find a publishing house that accepts unsolicited manuscripts. I can't count the number of times I've read 'we do not accept unsolicited manuscripts' or 'we will only read manuscripts which are sent via an agent'. Here are links to publishers who are willing to give both new and emerging authors a chance:

Allen and Unwin - The Friday Pitch

Pan Macmillan -  Manuscript Monday

Penguin Books - The Monthly Catch

Penguin Ireland

Harlequin Mills and Boon 

So if you've got a manuscript looking for a home check out the above guidelines - good luck!

Keep writing....