Thursday, 31 December 2009

Has She Gone Yet? Good! This Is For Blog TakeOver Day 1st Jan 2010 so no peeking until then!

I am fully aware that it is not blog takeover day until the morrow but if I don't take my chance while she's distracted I may never have the opportunity to comment, and share her secrets with you all again!

God, she's hard work. There I've said it. I've waited six months to get that off my chest and it feels great! She's a complete and utter nightmare to work with - full of self doubt and frustration - you should hear the language when she's had a rejection or six, Phooey! She's disorganised and messy. I've been shoved in her drawers for all that time. It's been ever so drafty and dark in there, I can tell you. Every now and then dhe has a rummage around and I think 'YES! It's my turn!' But, alas, she pulls out a paper clip and slams her drawers shut again.

But the other day, at last, my time had come. I was taken out from her drawers and placed majestically on her desk. But I saw a terrible sight on the way up there - it made my spine go cold. I'm sure she's told you about her piles before now,but this is something much worse. I saw, there, lying at the back of her cupboard, rows and rows of used notebooks. 'Oh my!' I gasped. She told me I was the only one - that she'd never done it before - I was her first! How could she? I felt a fool - I believed her and she took advantage of me - I will never trust a writer again. They are a scurvy lot of odd looking unscrupulous, good for nothing, low lifes anyway! ;0

The notebooks sleep on the back shelves, shoved out of the way in the darkness, unloved and ignored since she'd scribbled in them. All those pages full of ideas - oh the ecstasy they must have felt as she ran her pen across their pages! But to what end? It's criminal.

The worst of it it that she has three shiny new pens she won for letters of the week in the local newspaper and these pens have never been used - they are still in their boxes. I've heard them whimpering, begging to be set free. I would so like to offer them my pages so they can run free across my chest in gay, wanton, abandon! But they remain penned in, dependent on her will, paying penance for a crime they haven't committed. She has a penchant for stashing things away and despite her assurances to you that her piles are under control, I beg to differ! She shows no remorse, no penitence. She'll be drawing her pension before she gets those poor pens out.

Still. If you are reading this will you tell her to get her posh pens out and use them - it's what they are for - writing. She's cruel to her pens - they need to run free, not be kept penned up and forgotten.

Oh and don't tell her I told you but she likes nothing more than to dance around the living room to Lady GaGa's CDs when she thinks no one is watching! If I can get a video of her doing it on here I will. I promise - oh I so do!

She told me that I'm going to be her new Wrekin Writer notebook for 2010! Ooh I'm looking forward to going to their meetings - you think they go there to talk about writing - pah! I'll tell you the truth of the matter, don't you worry!

Happy New Year!

Julie's new moleskine notebook (free at last! Oh she is so going to regret setting me free! I'll get my own back on her and I intend to free those who have gone before me) And also signed on behalf of Julie's posh pens xxxx

So what's in store for me in 2010

I haven't got a clue! But I find that both exciting and scary. It's exciting as I don't know which magazine I'm going to target next and I don't know when the articles I know I've had accepted are going to be published and I still have some out there awaiting a verdict. I also have two more to edit this weekend and send off early next week.

It's scary as I don't know when my luck will run out. Can I continue to grow and mature as a writer? Or will I find my writing ability and urge will wane so I never get anything published again. I know, I know think positive! It's just that I haven't done any 'real' writing for a while over the festivities and I'm worried that when I do go back into it from Saturday, I won't be able to! Daft, huh? But I needed the break and I hope when I do start back at it my writing will benefit.

With it being the new year tomorrow and it being the tradition to make resolutions and out with old, in with the new, here are my top resolutions for 2010:

1. I will not beat myself up for not taking an opportunity or for messing a submission or proposal up - I will, instead, look at grasping every reasonable opportunity I can and submit better articles and proposals.

2. I will not waste my time chasing the impossible - ie if a magazine doesn't rate the quality of my photos I won't care so much or propose articles to them again, as there's nothing I can at the moment. What I will do, if I feel it will help my writing career in the future, is take a photography course and buy better photographic equipment when I can afford to do so.

3. I will not waste time procrastinating or moaning that I don't have enough time to write. I will just get on with it and make more time to write and organise the time I do have better.

4.I will not stick my head in the sand when I hear nothing back from editors! I will contact them when a reasonable time has passed so that if they say no I can pitch it elsewhere.

5. I will not stick my fingers in my ears and sing 'La,La,la,La' when new opportunities present themselves because I think I'm bot capable of doing them. I will push myself next year to seek out new avenues for my writing. I can not I can't will be my new mantra!

Happy New Year!

Julie xx

Sunday, 27 December 2009

The quiet before the storm?

How do you view the days between Christmas and New Year? The grey, endless days where nothing seems to happen? Is it dead space that isn't worth you lifting your pen to write home about? Or does it present a writing opportunity for next year? Can you write an article or two and things to do and see in the week between Christmas and New Year? Everyone seems to be at a loss of what to do this week. The excitement of Christmas has died down; the kids are bored with their new toys; al your Christmas guests have either gone home or are bickering and sniping at each other from being cooped up with each other for far too long. Any top five or ten lists you could suggest to relieve the boredom and make the path from Christmas to New Year a smoother one? Now is the period of the quiet before the storm of the New Year rushing in and a great opportunity to write something original - above the usual humdrum of this time of year - that editors will love. Think humour.

Write it all down - anything that springs into your head. When you're out walking or shopping, listen to the conversations going on around you - you might strike gold!Something to think about while you recover from eating too much Turkey!

Julie xx

Friday, 18 December 2009

Good and bad writing days

Do you ever go through this? One day you have a really good writing day. You go out and interview someone for an article or two that you've already pitched to the editors and they like the idea. You sit merrily typing away on your computer and the words are flowing and all is well. But, oh dear. The next day you drag yourself to the computer so lethargic and unwilling to start your writing day that you can barely switch the computer on. You sit there staring at the blank screen with contempt and it glares back at you, frowning and tutting. So you sit there in a staring match waiting for each other to be the one to blink or walk away.

Wednesday and Thursday I had wonderful writing days, but the weekend and the Monday and Tuesday before that I didn't. I knew I had two articles to write; I had all the information in front of me, waiting and winking at me, waving its arms at me, trying to gain my attention, for me on my desk, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it. In fact, I'd do everything else but! Naughty and unprofessional I know. But Weds evening, whilst the Royal Variety performance was on, I sat at my computer and wrote the entire first 1300 draft of one of the articles. Then yesterday I wrote a 1200 complete first draft of the other article. Just like that, my inertia and days of sitting in the doldrums with no wind to fill my sails was over, as a stiff (and rather nippy) breeze blew me along.

Today, I'm currently wavering between a good and bad writing day. I've just sat down at my computer and yes, I am using this blog as a warm up for the main act later on. I find that if I blog about the troubles I have with writing, it invariably sorts itself out, or I get good advice from fellow writers who are probably now shouting at me to stop blogging and get on with the writing!

My plans today and over the weekend are to edit both articles, do a bit of my NaNo Novel and do some research on the fiction of the women's magazines. Christmas week I'm going to try and do no writing at all. Yes, that's right, no writing at all! But I think I know deep in my literary heart that I will cave in to my inner editor's demands and the call of the wild and will, at some point, be writing! But as it's Christmas week and the world shuts down and my daughter's off school, I have a lot of activities planned for her so that will keep me away from my notebooks. However, my daughter has given me a lot of inspiration lately - the things she says have pinged off ideas left right and center, so I'll be scribbling things down to save for a rainy (snowy?) day.

So have a good week and Christmas and don't forget to look out for those Christmas based ideas you can write about for next year!

Julie xx

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Setting the records straight

I've just gone through my stats on my record sheet for articles and proposals I've sent out over the year and here are my end of year stats for 2009. I thought you might be interested in what I've been up to with my articles and how I've done - rejections and all! I hope you all keep records of articles and proposals you send out too so you know where you are and where you are going in 2010. It's a useful exercise to do this (no matter how painful and boring) as it can give you a clear indication of where your strengths and weaknesses lie and where you can improve. So don't be scared or shy. Brace yourselves and dive right in; your writing will thank you for it.

Articles sent:

Internet - 16 (12 accepted for publication. 4 rejected.)

Magazines - 15 (3 accepted. 5 rejected. 7 pending.)

Free Magazines - 13 (10 accepted. 3 rejected.)

Local Newspaper features 1 (1 accepted. 0 rejected!)

Total accepted = 26

Total rejected = 12

pending = 7

Total articles sent in all categories = 45

There have been 16 other proposals that I sent out over the year of which:

3 were accepted
9 were rejected
4 not a clue!!

So I haven't had a bad year really. Any year where there is an article acceptance is a good year to me!! I have plenty to be getting on with, including two articles that I am writing where the proposal was accepted for next year and, to my surprise, there are several articles and proposals that I sent out and were rejected that I have forgotten about and (shock, horror, slap my wrists) I didn't revamp and send out again!! So I will be going through this list and sending them out again in the New Year.

Have a wonderful Christmas and I hope your writing goes well next year and you achieve your writing goals.

Julie xx

Friday, 11 December 2009

Back On Track

Following my NaNoWriMo adventure in November, I'd let things slide somewhat on the article writing front. But I am pleased to report that I have made some good headway this week to getting myself back on track. I've completed some interviews and have sent off two articles: one to Writers' News about using material from your community to write about and one to The New Writer about maximising your writing time - we'll see how they get on.

I like to try and send something out at least every week, but sometimes I don't manage it. I have been hitting the newspapers hard too by sending out letters to a variety of them. I hadn't done many letters for ages so thought I'd give them a blast - it's good for the soul to get things off your chest! I always find that the papers like a good old ranting letter about what's wrong with the world rather than what's right about it!

I'm thinking about branching out into trying to write articles for the mother and baby type magazines and education. I think I could use my recent experiences as a school Governor and reading support volunteer in my writing. I'm also going to be writing about Safer Routes To School - I've been involved in this for the route my daughter and other children and parents who use this particular road to access the school and we've been campaigning for greater safety measures up there. The police were outside the school yesterday at the start and end of the school day and again this morning, ticketing and warning parents who park on the double yellow lines. Writing about what we know about and are involved in is a good source of material and can open up many different writing opportunities.

I have nothing to report about any of my articles out there but I will be working on completing the articles about two local authors and my NaNo experiences over the next two weeks to get them finished before Santa comes down the chimney. I'm lucky that I have a bank of ideas and articles to work on - I would hate to have nothing to write or work on and I'm ecstatic about how my article writing has gone this year - I never expected or dreamed that I would get my articles accepted by two major writing magazines or the local county glossy. It just goes to prove what you can do if you work hard and set your mind to it.

I'm determined to push forward with my writing in 2010 and raise my standards. I'm also determined to help other writers by posting here anything I have found useful on the way.

Let's get our acts together and have a brilliant writing year in 2010!

Tomorrow is the Wrekin Writers meeting followed by the Christmas meal and I am so looking forward to it.

Julie xx

Sunday, 6 December 2009

How Many Wrekin Writers Can You Get Into One Magazine?!





Above is the front cover of The Link and the new guidelines for submitting articles, Fillers and letters. There is a new editor at the helm called Steve Bowkett.


It's a bit like asking the question how many people can you get into a mini or a telephone booth; how many Wrekin Writers can you get into one magazine? Well, there are three of us in the December Issue of The Link - The National Association of Writers' Groups publication: Sue Ross is on pg 4 with a festive piece called 'So This Is Christmas' about using the festive period and its stresses and strains, family dynamics and spats to inform your writing. Then on pg 9 is me 'Starting Over, about not winding your writing down over the Xmas period and using the time as an excuse to delegate some of your duties over Xmas so you can do some writing or preparation for your writing next year. On pg 16 is Simon Whaley who, 'Wants to be alone,' bless him. He's coming to the end of his 5 five week retreat up in Cumbria and between floods he has been editing his book.

If you belong to a writers' group that belongs to NAWG then why not submit your own article to them? It was where I dared to step up from letter writing and submitted my first article ever to. And I've now been in every issue this year. Go on, give it a go. Now is the ideal time as there is a new editor at the helm.

Send articles, fillers and letters to NAWG, PO Box 3266, Stoke-on-Trent, ST10 9BD
or e-mail nawg@live.co.uk

Friday, 4 December 2009

So what's it going to be?

What are your writing goals for next year? In three weeks time the annual turkey wrestle will be upon us and in the pop of a champagne cork the day will be over and before we know it it will be Jan 1st. Will you be ready with some fantastic ideas for your proposals ready to send off to those poor, unsuspecting editors on the 2nd Jan with their hangovers, shaking their heads saying never again?

Make the time now to have a look around you. Steal, beg, borrow time if you have to and read the newspapers - local and national, all the festive issues of magazines and other publications and make a list of the ones you are going to target in January. Then write a list under the magazines/publications you have decided to victimise, sorry, I mean target, and get your proposals written ready to ping off on Jan 2nd. Keep any festive cuttings from the mags that interest you as you will be bringing them out later in the year in order to find inspiration for your own articles based on Christmas in 2010

Make one of your New Year resolutions in 2010 to stop dilly dallying and be the first off the starting blocks. Get your proposals in before anyone else does and be professional. If you are having trouble with writing your proposals, as I was, read the excellent how to article in Writers' Forum magazine Pitching To An Editor by Douglas McPherson (pg 20/21.) You really will have no excuse not to do it and at least you'll do it right! Make 2010 your best writing year yet.

Remember - NO EXCUSES!

Julie xx

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Leaf books article writing comp

Leaf Books Competition
Just had this information through about a writing comp.

*NEW* Writing About Writing Competition
Leaf Books invites you to send us up to 750 words on the theme of writing. You can send us creative writing (a story or poem) or an essay/academic/journalistic piece, or even a stream-of-consciousness writers-block-induced panic, provided it’s on the subject of writing.

Enter online or by post. If sending entries by post, please note that we are unable to return submissions. If entering online, please pay via PayPal (see the competitions page on the website) and send your work as an attachment to contact@leafbooks.co.uk as a .doc or .rtf file (please don’t send .docx or .wps documents because we can’t open them).

£3.50 per submission, 4 submissions for £10

Prize: One winner will receive £100 and publication in the pilot edition of the Leaf Books Magazine. Further selected entries may also be published in the magazine: successful entrants will receive a free copy.

Closing date – January 31 2010

Enter by post: you can download an entry form (word document) here

or just send your details and a cheque. click here for postal address

Enter online: pay via paypal (they take credit cards if you don't have a paypal account). The button will take you to paypal and then you just email us the writing.

LEAF BOOKS WEBSITE


So have a look and see what you think. Any takers?!

Julie xx

Never Say Never

If I ever moan about my article proposals disappearing into the Bermuda triangle or other such place of mysterious disappearances please tell me to shut up! I now have three article proposals accepted! So I'm going to be a very busy woman over the next few weeks!

I also held my first international phone interview this evening. I spoke with one of the members of the NaNo team for my NaNo article and I really enjoyed it. It was a bit tense worrying about time zones and what time of day it was in America but all was well in the end and I got some great quotes. So thanks, NaNo!

I also spent a lovely day with children's book author Carole Anne Carr and if you go to her blog (click on her name above) you will see a photograph and posting about the interview! Thanks for a wonderful interview and delicious lunch. My husband and I were well and truly spoilt! I am so appreciative of Carole's generosity, not only for the interview, lunch and copy of her book Little Boy Good For Nothing And The Shongololo for my daughter, but also for the loan of some excellent writing books and loads of writing advice she gave me. If you think your writing life is flagging and you're feeling uninspired - take a look at Carole's blog and website - it will make you feel ashamed of yourself - she's so dynamic and works hard for her books.

Also, take a look at this website from WIRE Women In Rural Enterprise. Carole is a member and has encouraged me to join to. They give support to women in business (freelance writers/authors included) and hold local meetings where people can network and learn ways to improve their business.

A happy end to a very fulfilling writing based day so I'd advise you to get out there and get new experiences to enjoy and write about so you can take your writing forward. Pick up the phone first thing tomorrow and make that date for that interview for one of your articles. It's worth it and you owe it to your writing to grab those writing opportunities that are out there if you look hard enough.

Happy writing

Julie

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Persistence really does pay off

I've been sending off a lot of proposals to a lot of magazines, as regular followers of this blog know. I was recently having a whinge about the black hole my proposals seemed to be sucked into lately, being spat out and floating forever more into distant space. But WF came to the rescue and Carl gave me advice on pitches as well as accepting a proposal on Nano from me. There's an article in this month's WF about pitching to editors - read it,it's excellent.

Also, today I decided to hone my pitching skills and pitched an idea to WM. I have been pitching to WM forever and a day and so was not really expecting any joy. But the editor emailed back and has accepted my article proposal for WN WM's sister publication. This is great news for me and I am thrilled to the core!

It seems I'm going to be a busy girl over the next few weeks. But I wouldn't have it any other way.
Happy writing

Julie xx