Sunday, 29 August 2010

A welcome boost

I know I haven't written any articles in recent months but I have had one published in Writers' Forum (Oct Issue) out now in all good newsagents! It was a great feeling to see my article in print and  it has given my confidence a boost - particularly so as I had confirmation from the editor that he would publish another of mine too!  Great news.

The article was about NaNoWriMo  - the write 50,000 words of a novel in a month madness from America! You may recall I did this for the first time last November, alongside two other Wrekin Writers, Sue and Jenny and the lovely Suzanne Jones in blogland (thank you for contributing!) All three feature in my article, as does just over 300 words of the nonsense I wrote for NaNo! It is a great example of writing what you know and using your experience of something you've tried or do regularly and turn it into an article.

It's given me the inspiration and motivation I needed to get going on the articles again. I also want to finish the journalism course I'm doing with The Writers' Bureau - so I can kill two birds with one stone and submit the articles I write for the course to magazines.

I have been concentrating on my short stories for a while and was really surprised and  pleased to discover that I've actually managed to submit six short stories to various magazines over the six week school hols, with another two about to go in the next few days. So that will be eight in total  -  I can live with that.  It's shown me what I am capable of when I put my mind to it and make the time to write. Whether any of them will be published is a different matter, but you can't blame a girl for trying.

If you should happen to see my article in Writers' Forum, take a look at it and tell me what you think about it. I always like to do a post mortem on my articles to see what I could have done better or what worked really well so I can improve on my article writing technique for the next one. It might be an interesting exercise to read other people's articles in this analytic way and see how you would have written it. Then you could have a go at writing an article, using the  tips you picked up from your analysis, and submit it. See what happens.

Happy writing

Julie xx

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Whoopsie. Mr Magoo lives!

Guess who arranged to meet a local author in a cafe but managed to go to the cafe next door? We were both sitting at the same window seat in the respective cafes, waiting for each other! Each of us was worrying that something ghastly had happened to the other as neither of us had driven by ourselves for a long time and we needed the practice! It's a good job we are good friends and can see the funny side of it!  But not very professional on my part - completely my fault for not looking where I'm going properly. Note to self and other journalists: make sure you know where you are meeting your interviewee and make sure you go through the right door! If it's in a cafe/restaurant ask the waitress or owner just to make sure.

Don't think I'm ever going to live this down! Still it gave us both a laugh once we realised we were both okay, even if I was and still am a little embarrassed.

Julie xx

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Waiting Time

On a bit of a hiatus really with the article writing. No excuse other than I have been having a wild time with the short story writing, looking after my wonderful daughter as it's the school hols, and catching up with the more mundane things in life like doing the housework (don't faint, yes I do actually do some occasionally) However, I do have an article about NaNo coming up in the October issue of Writer's Forum so watch out for that one if you read that magazine. (If you don't read it. I'd highly recommend that you do). I can't believe that I started the NaNo challenge to write 50,000 words of a novel in 30 days  back in November 2009 and here we are, almost a year later, and I not only got an article out of it that was accepted for publication but I now have a 75,000 word novel awaiting its second edit! Out of small acorns ..........

I'm still waiting for the Morris Dancers to return their e-mail interviews, but as it's holiday season I think I'll be waiting a while longer yet. But while I'm waiting I won't be resting on my laurels, oh no - I shall be transcribing the interview I already have from the Morris dancers on my Dictaphone and looking at the one e-mail interview I have had back so I can start formulating a plan for the articles and follow up on my pitches. The writing devil waits for no man or woman!

I also had a bit of a revelation recently in regards to article writing. Something Alex said in his blog also struck a clanging chord with me. I have been looking at several magazines (whilst lying on the sofa, coffee in hand, all in the name of research you understand) and I keep thinking I could have written that, or that's the kind of thing I could write about. But I haven't  -  someone (another writer just like you or I)  has got on their first. The first question that crossed my mind after this light bulb moment was: why haven't I pitched to these magazines before? Answer - I don't know (too self conscious, they'll never be interested in small fry like me, they'll be inundated with similar pitches from other writers who are much more capable than me  -  yes Simon, I can feel the heat from your glare!). Then the second question, after I'd beaten my 'you're no good, you'll never make it as a writer' devil in to submission, was how can I rectify this and what do I have to do to get my features into these magazines? (Read the magazines through again cover to cover - mine's a white coffee, no sugar thank you. Find out who the editor/features editor is and whether they take from freelancers. Discover their house style/presentation and subbing preferences. Find out if they prefer a pitch first or the whole article and then kick my nerves/reservations/ squeamishness out of the back door and nail the cat flap down so it can't get back in (the nerves, not the cat) and go for it  -  you never know!

So if you think your writing isn't good enough for the likes of the such magazines STOP! Ask yourself what you are basing your assumptions on. Do you know for a fact that they will reject your pitch/work or are your self confidence diminishing demons at work? You don't know until you ask or try - and if it's a NO to your work this time, next time might just be a resounding YES! So go on, dare to be a little devil and have the audacity to bother these editors. Assume nothing and remember the saying 'assume makes an ass out of u and me!

Happy writing!
Julie xx

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Keeping an eye out

So how is the article writing going these days? Is anyone having any success? I have to admit that I'm still trapped in the land of short stories at the moment and enjoying every minute of it. It's as though my brain has sent my creative writing on a package holiday to short story. I am, however, keeping one eye on the articles. I've sent a list of questions off to various Morris Dancers (you may recall I went to watch some practice a few weeks ago and they've gallantly allowed me to write about them.) I'm doing the interviews via e-mail and did one face to face (because the bloke I interviewed was only there for one night and was then going back down South and I wanted to catch him while I could!)

I like all forms of interview except over the phone. I don't know why I don't like it - I haven't the technology to record it so I find myself frantically scribbling down what the interviewee is saying and can I read my notes afterwards? NO! Mind you the one I did with someone in the USA was great.

I'm still searching for article ideas and pitching occasionally, but not to the extent I was before. I find I'm getting the same old story at the moment and I'm getting a sense of how Mary and Joseph felt when they were told there was no room at the inn. But things will no doubt improve. Ever the optimist!

Here's something that cheered me up. I had a funny thing happen with a pitch. I pitched an article to one of the writing mags about how writers might find alternative markets for their work in the face of the recession when many mags are folding or editors aren't taking submissions from freelancers but going in-house for their material. The editor replied that he thought it was too negative. So I re-pitched with a more positive slant to which the editor said he liked it had no space in his magazine at the moment but to try again next year! The very tip of one of my points in the article - editors not taking any subs from freelancers because they had no space in the mags! Oh I did laugh!

Next week I'll be concentrating on my short stories again - I have a few I want to get out there. I already have four out there doing the rounds now. Once I've done that and I've got the answers back from the Morris Dancers, I'll be formulating that article, along with a couple of articles I've had in the pipeline about local issuse. I've still yet to get to my NaNo novel edit! So much to do, so little time. I really must calm my butterfly mind. I'm sure I'd get a lot more writing done if I could just slow my fluttering mind down a tad and focus on one thing at a time. I'm just glad it's the school hols and I've had time to get some writing done. I've surprised myelf by how much I actually have done  -  it's amazing what you can achieve when you set your mind to it. But today is my day off  -  if a writer can ever have such a thing.

Happy writing

Julie xx