Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Interview Buzz

I've just been transcribing an interview from my digital dictaphone I did about a month ago. Due to my ears being bunged up after a cold and with wax for that time period I hadn't been able to do it until now. I had fun listening back through it as it was a fun interview to do and the interviewee was fantastic. So now the hard work starts!

I'll be reading through my notes for next few days and looking at which magazines to pitch my ideas to from the interview. There are so many different avenues I could go down with this that I find it quite exciting making those first tentative approaches to editors. Some will invariably say no  - but there might just be one or two who say yes!

Thinking positive and thinking outside of the box are two qualities a writer should strive for if they want to be a freelance article writer. You have to use the writing talent and knowledge of what makes a good article that will sell to its fullest advantage to make your pitch and article stand out from the other hundreds the editor has landing on their desk on any one day  -  but this is all part of the process and fun!

I'll let you know how I get on  - and do let us know how your article writing is going and what problems you've had or if there's something you've experienced or learned that has helped you gain success with your article writing.

Happy writing


Friday, 23 April 2010

Trying Your Hand

I hope everyone's writing is going well and you are enjoying the process even if you haven't got anything published yet. It took me ages to get something I'd written published and even longer to get something published that I'd written and actually get paid for it! But it can be done and I'm so glad that I persevered with it. It can be a hard slog but it's imortant that you keep going  -  it worked for me.

Today I had a short (250 word) review published in the Times newspaper. It was for a regular slot called You The Editor and it involves readers of the newspaper saying what was good, or bad about one issue of the paper  -  snag is you have to get it in by 3pm for the day's paper you want to review! Hence the fact I was up early yesterday and had to enrol the services of my brother-in-law to deliver the paper to my house on his way to work at 7am and I had about 30 minutes to read the paper, write the review and e-mail it off before I took my daughter to school. As I was at work 9am-3pm that day, I wouldn't have had time to do it later!

It's important, as writers, for us to think about what obstacles we face in our quest to write and get published. Some of these obstacles are outside of our control but some of them are self imposed and if we really wanted to we could leap over them and write. It took me three attempts to get a review in The Times and after the first attempt the editor e-mailed  and asked me to try again which I did. However, there was some problem in the office that day and the editor missed it so he editor rang me asking me to try again and once I'd climbed back on my chair having fallen off it in shock at speaking to the editor of the Times (my husband took the call and said to me "It's the editor of the Times on the line for you!" I didn't believe him!)
So although it doesn't pay it would be great writing practice for you to give it a go  - just buy a copy of the Times, read it and e-mail your review in. You never know what will happen!

I also got an article in The NAWG newsletter as did two of my fellow Wrekin Writers Simon Whaley and Sue Ross. As Simon pointed out to us, of the seven articles in there Wrekin Writer members wrote three of them  - that's not bad going!

Have a great weekend and keep writing


Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Trying New Outlets

I had a magazine through the post yesterday with one of my articles in it. You may remember that a few months ago I interviewed several people from the charity Volunteer Reading Help. I managed to get one article in the local paper about them and now this one in Learning Support. The magazine is aimed at Teaching Assistants and it was Sue Ross, a fellow Wrekin Writer and blogger who pointed me in their direction (thank you Sue!)

Because I do reading support in my daughter's school (though not through this charity) I thought an article on this subject might be of interest to a variety of magazines and so far two have taken the article (the wording in each is very different as if you are going to pitch articles on the same subject to different magazines you don't want to clone them - editors don't want to read the article you've given them in another publication!)

I have recieved no payment for either artices. Learning support gave me a copy of the magazine which I can put in my portfolio and I could use it as a taster for other editors from 'paying' magazines who may take articles on a similar subject. In this case working for 'free' has its advantages in that it can lead on to other things. Although I would say that generally you should be paid for your work, if you are just starting out, it can be a good way of getting cuttings to build up your portfolio and get your work published. Writers are divided on the issue of whether writers should write for free - so I'm not going to go into the pros and cons here (we'd be here all day going round in circles!) I think the idea for the articles still have some mileage in them so I'll let you know what else I do with it.

Other article news: although I am concentrating on short story/novel writing at the moment, I've had a couple of ideas for articles that I'm going to pitch to some parenting magazines  -  a group of mags I haven't yet aimed for - so that will be interesting to see what happens there. Plus I will be writing another couple af articles for the local governor magazine. I hope you're having success with your pitches/articles!

Happy writing

Julie xx

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Thinking Time

As you know I'm on a sabbatical from article writing at the moment to give me chance to get up to speed on finishing the first draft of my NaNo novel. I started it in NaNo season (Nov 1st) 2009 and wrote the required 50,000 words in the 30 days of November. I'm sure most of you know what NaNo is but for those of you who don't, it's an American idea where you get to write 50,000 words of a novel in thirty days. Thousands of people do it so you'll be in good company should you decide to do it this year.

Well, I hit my 70,000 word target yesterday and I am on the final chapter now, so I'll be going over my target by a couple of thousand words. However, this is the first draft so the eventual wordage after much editing may be more or less anyway.

In the spirit of NaNo, this novel was written minus a plan and was totally spontaneous  - the plot and characters grew as I wrote it. I'd recommend this 'writing by the seat of your pants' approach as, for me, if I'd have had to sit down and plan it I'd still be planning it now. Yet here we are, 5 months later, and I've nearly finished it. I have been writing it part-time as well as writong articles and working outside the home - so I think I've done reasonably well time wise. If I'd have been writing it full-time, I'm sure I'd have finished it ages ago - but I wouldn't have had any quality thinking time factored in, and that thinking time is imortant as it gives your ideas time to grow and mature.

Once I've finished it I'll leave it a while and get on with some more short stories, but I haven't forgotten about the articles! Look out for my article about NaNo coming up in Writer's Forum (hopefully!) in the Summer.See writing about what you know does work! I did NaNo and then wrote about NaNo! And I'm sure I'll get a few more articles out of that experience too.

Other articles I have coming out soon include the Wildlife rescue centre article and two about being a Governor. There are a couple of other articles still out there doing the rounds, but I haven't heard anything about them yet. I also submitted a short story recently, so I'll be interested to hear its fate.

While I'm doing all this fiction I'm also thinking of new article ideas. I'm finding that having engaged the fiction part of my creativity, it's inspiring me with the non-fiction too. I think it's helpful to have several pieces of work out at any one time, as when the rejections come it doesn't matter so much as you'll always have something else out there that may be accepted.

Because I write poetry, articles, short stories and now a novel, the potential for being published is wide. I think being a chameleon in this game doesn't do any harm. It pays to be flexible and able to turn your hand to different styles/genres of writing. So if you don't usually write poetry or short stories, give them a go, and vice versa. Or if you only write about a couple of subjects in your articles, cast your net wider and stretch your writing skills to write about something or someone you know very little about. I did it with my archery article and it got published! So don't be afraid to give things a go.

Have a look at Simon Whaley's recent blog posting Stepping Into The Editor's Shoes  It gives some excellent advice on what to do with the unpublished articles you have lying around (of which I have many and I'm guilty as charged for doing nothing with them when I ruddy well should be! Kick gratefully received, Simon!  -  ingenious! Give his advice a try  - his advice has always worked for me.

Happy thinking!

Julie xx

Monday, 5 April 2010

Article break

I'm having a break from the article writing for a bit (they say a change is as good as a rest, don't they?) I want to focus my attention on my fiction. I did so well last year and up until now with my articles  - much better than I ever envisaged. So I'm hoping that if I can focus my energies on the short story and novel writing throughout the rest of April, I might give myself a fighting chance in getting more short stories published - especially armed with all that I have learned since I last subbed a short story.

I have also been inspired and spurred into action by several other bloggers who have had some success with getting their stories into the women's mags recently: Suzanne Jones, Teresa Ashby, Helen.M. Hunt, Olivia Ryan (aka Sheila Norton) and Sally Quilford, to name but a few. I've read some of their stories in the mags and I have to say they are fantastic, so I am a little but daunted by trying to follow in their talented footsteps and get my stories published in the same mags. Especially with my rather dismal track record last year after my efforts! But I decided, as I'm approaching a big birthday next year, the number must be significant as I sent 40 short stories out - so I hope if I send forty out again before my next birthday (most will be reworked from the 39 that got rejected - sorry - declined) something might stick!

But I'll still be thinking up article ideas and I'm sure a few will come from my fiction writing exeriences too. And I know there are several mags out there I want to try and write my non-fiction for. I'll also be finishing the journalism course which involves a lot of article/feature writing, so I'll still get my fix!

If anything great happens you'll be the first to know  -  if it doesn't, you'll still be the first to know!

Wish me luck as the fiction writing starts in earnest tonight!

Julie xx

Thursday, 1 April 2010

No room at the inn

So far none of the pitches I sent out last week have been accepted  -  both magazine editors said they were full to bursting. One said he'd only take an article if the idea was good enough to jump the queue and another said they liked one of my ideas but wern't taking any articles until probably after the Summer. Hmmph! So that's that then. Or is it? There are one of three ways I could go with this:

1. Stop thinking of article ideas, sending pitches out and stop writing articles because there is no point.
2. Make this an opportunity to get back to my fiction writing and try sending short stories out again and finishing my novel.
3.Concentrate on finishing my novel as well as sending out a short story or two, whilst keeping my ear and brain tuned in to possible articles and researching the other magazines out there that might take my articles.

If you were in my shoes and would have gone for option one shame on you! Just because a couple of magazines don't want your articles another magazine might. Okay, you might have to cast your net wider to catch a fish, but it's not an impossible task.

If you chose option two  -  this is a slightly better course of action than option one, but think of all those wasted article writing opportunities you might miss. Plus, you could have had a few articles pitched, commissioned and published in the time you are waiting for the verdict on your novel. Also switching to non-fiction whilst you are writing your novel can give you brain time to mull over your novel if you have become stuck on a chapter or your character is not working the way you wanted them to and the story isn't flowing.

Option three is the one for me! I can be finishing off the first draft of my novel and in the times when I am driven to distraction by it I can write non-fiction to give me time to think about where I'm going with my novel. Even if it's tough to get articles accepted, it can be done  - it just takes a bit of lateral thinking to come up with an article idea and proposal that will knock the editor's socks off!

Easter is a time of rebirth, of miracles and new life  -  turn over a new leaf and become engaged with your writing in a new and exciting way and let your creativity give birth to your best writing yet.

Happy Easter and happy writing

Julie xx