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Welcome to The Literary Pig's blog - a safe haven for all those afflicted with
the unbearable urge to write.

Thursday, 28 May 2015

How to jinx your writing

A month ago LitPig posted here how I was aiming to have 50 short stories published by 28 June (my 50th birthday). The total was 45 on 28 April. Go on guess how many have been accepted for publication since then ...

ZERO
NADA
ZILCH

So yes I jinxed my writing big time!
I believe it's important to set yourself writing goals & targets. I also believe it's good to publicise them too. Put them out there in the universe. I'm not going to stop setting targets ... and you never know I may get a sudden splurge of acceptances in the next month. That's how the writing life seems to go sometimes.

Oh another way to jinx your writing is to upgrade your laptop's operating system. Having done this I'm now having problems with this blog, Twitter & Facebook. Ho hum ...

Hope you're all still on target for your writing goals. Do you have any writing superstitions? Why not come clean and share them with LitPig.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Fifty for Fifty

The Indoor Writer has just hit 45. 45 pieces of short fiction published, that is! Now she's aiming to have 50 pieces published before two months from today. Why? Because in exactly two months she'll reach her own half century milestone.

Okay, so over forty stories published doesn't come close to her writing chum's achievement of >100 stories sold (yes, it's that Wendy Clarke again), but you have to aim for something.

I like Wendy because she always invites me to her book launches and let's me root around to snuffle up the crumbs - writers are so messy ...

So, the countdown to 50 begins here. Only 5 stories need to get published ... will she do it?
Watch this blog!

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Second novel reflections with Jane Lythell

Please welcome author Jane Lythell back to the blog today. Jane's second novel After the Storm (Head of Zeus) came out earlier this year and she's here to share her reflections on how she approached the project  ...



SECOND NOVEL REFLECTIONS
I’ve heard it said that we all have one novel in us but writing your second novel can be difficult, so I thought I would share my experience of this. When my debut novel THE LIE OF YOU was bought by Head of Zeus they offered me a two book deal. They requested a synopsis for the second book and I produced a brief treatment for an idea that had been lurking in my mind for ages. They accepted the idea and gave me a year to produce the first draft of the second novel. 
My idea was that two couples meet one night in Belize City, an English couple, Rob and Anna, and an American couple, Owen and Kim, who have an old sailing boat they have been living on for three years. Owen suggests they charter his boat and he will take them to the island of Roatan. Anna does not want to go at all but Rob is really keen and he persuades her to board. Unknown to them Kim is desperate to go home to Florida. It is Owen who is determined to continue their life on the boat. Straightaway we have conflict of wishes between the four characters and a boat can be a very claustrophobic place when tensions start to build.
Was it difficult to write this book? My honest answer is not really. I’ve been to these places and I always felt they would make a great setting for a novel. What helped me was that I kept a journal and took photos while I was there. (I’m an inveterate keeper of journals!) These were a great source which enabled me to build the atmosphere of the island. The Roatan in my novel is sun-soaked and stunning on the surface but with something dark underneath.
I was thrilled to have the two book deal but as it turned out this meant that I delivered the first draft of AFTER THE STORM at exactly the same time as THE LIE OF YOU was being published. This was a strange experience. I was promoting my debut as well editing the second book so that my mind kept moving between the characters in each book. The two books are very different and I think you are always more involved with the book and the characters you are currently writing. So I had to pull myself away from Rob, Anna, Owen and Kim in order to talk about Heja and Kathy at literary festivals and book clubs. I’m not complaining. It was exciting and demanding and I know how lucky I am to be in this position.
You learn about writing from doing the writing. I think I learned a lot about how to tell a story from my first book. In AFTER THE STORM I moved to third person narration because with four characters you can’t do first person. Well in theory you could but it would be a major challenge.
And what now? Head of Zeus has commissioned a third novel from me and I’m writing this now. It is set in the febrile world of live television with all its monster egos! It is told from the point of view of the central female character who is a TV executive, divorced, and with a stroppy teenage daughter. I’m enjoying pulling up memories from my life as a TV producer. It’s scheduled for publication in June 2016.

LINKS to After The Storm:

About Jane Lythell:
I live in Brighton, UK, and I'm a sea-lover, star-gazer, film and football fan.
My novels THE LIE OF YOU and AFTER THE STORM are published by Head of Zeus.
My background is journalistic writing and television production. I was a Producer at TV-am and Commissioning Editor of Features at Westcountry Television. I left to become Deputy Director of the British Film Institute and later Chief Executive of BAFTA before joining the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for seven years. I now write full time. I love to hear from readers and you can find me here:
Twitter: @janelythell 
Facebook: Jane Lythell Author
My blog

Thank you, Jane, for sharing your reflections. Definitely agree that you 'learn about writing from doing the writing'. I loved how you set After the Storm in the beautiful Caribbean, yet portrayed it's very real sinister undertones. Now really looking forward to the next novel, which from your premise above sounds another page-turning read. 

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

A FISH-y story

I've sneaked on here while LitPig is snoozing in the spring sunshine. The theme of this brief post is NEVER give up. I try never to give up on a short story if I truly love it and keep trying with competitions even when there's no hint of success. One such writing competition is the annual Fish International Short Story Prize. I've been submitting entries to that one since 2010. The winners and listed came out last week for 2014/2015 - read them here. I wasn't hopeful of getting anywher ... but there I am on the shortlist (the last name!). And when I saw it I almost cried. Didn't win (or come close) but I didn't care. For me this was one very personal measure of success. We all judge our progress in different ways and that's what makes us unique. For me this was a particularly special moment in my writing career to date.

Another big deal for me was that the Fish shortlisted story is the second story taken from my novel. The first story was shortlisted for the 2014 Commonwealth Writers Short Story prize. So I'm taking that as a positive sign ...

What have been the special moments for you? Please share ...

Sunday, 8 March 2015

The Last Rose by Wendy Clarke

With only one week to go have you sorted your present for Mother's Day? If your mum is a reader then why not give her Wendy Clarke's latest short story collection, The Last Rose.


In his hand is the rose, as beautiful as I have ever seen - its creamy apricot petals curling inwards from his palm. He holds it out as one might a precious gift.
“The Last Rose is for you,” he says.
The Last Rose, is a collection of short stories of family and friendship. All thirteen stories have previously been published in either The People's Friend, Woman’s Weekly or Take a Break Fiction Feast Magazines. If you like stories with emotional depth and a satisfying ending, then these stories will not fail to leave you unmoved. 
The stories in this collection explore the intricate family relationships of thirteen ordinary people. In them, we discover the sorrow, love and joy that is shared... but not always spoken.

What LitPig has to say about the collection:
All of these stories are uplifting and will make you smile. Some will resonate and you may blink back a few tears. Wendy captures the true feelings between mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and brilliantly evokes the love between grandparents and their grandchildren. I loved how she also effectively writes about fostering and the challenge of loving a child with Asperger's. These stories are also about friendship and finding new friends in new places. One of my favourites was the title story 'The Last Rose', a gentle and effective tale on the true meaning of friendship.

Wendy Clarke is a full time writer of women's fiction. Her work regularly appears in national women's magazines such as The People's Friend, Take a Break Fiction Feast and Woman's Weekly. She has also written serials and a number of non-fiction magazine articles.
Wendy has published two collections of short stories, Room in Your Heart and The Last Rose.
Wendy lives with her husband, cat and step-dog in Sussex and when not writing is usually dancing, singing or watching any programme that involves food! 

You can find The Last Rose here: Paperback, Kindle. Why not treat your mum and yourself to a copy. 
If you fancy a collection chock full of romance then check out Wendy's first collection Room in Your Heart available here: Paperback, Kindle.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

From short stories to novel: Tracy Fells talks with Jo Derrick

The Indoor Writer was recently talking with fellow writer, Jo Derrick, on the transition from writing short stories to writing a novel. You can read the whole interview on Jo's blog here.

Monday, 2 March 2015

Lit Live: Open Mic

If you live close to Farnham (Surrey) then why not pop along to this event on 9 March (7.30pm start) ...
One of the organisers is Melanie Whipman - you can contact her if you would like to read at the event.
Melanie has kindly come along today to share some advice if you fancy reading at this or any other Open Mic.


LIT LIVE NIGHT FARNHAM AT THE HOP BLOSSOM
ADVICE FOR READERS:
Ten minute slots, to include an introduction, so three poems or about 1000 words of prose as a maximum.
(Work out your own WPM (words per minute) speed. But 1500 words is generally about ten minutes.)
Don’t forget the old (somewhat sexist) adage: ‘A speech is like a woman’s skirt: it needs to be long enough to cover the subject matter but short enough to hold the audience’s attention.’  
Avoid too much dialogue – unless you have a flair for drama and can differentiate your characters. If there is an extended area of dialogue you can’t avoid, then you may need to add more speech tags. What’s obvious on the written page, might not be so clear when read aloud.
Don’t overdo the profanities…
You’re here to entertain your audience. So avoid dark, harrowing themes. Remember there’s a massive difference between ‘poignant’ and ‘depressing’.
Practice – with cotton wool in your ears. It works, honest!



Melanie Whipman is a PhD student and an Associate Lecturer at the University of Chichester. Her prose and poetry has been broadcast on Radio 4 and published in various anthologies and magazines. Her short story collection, Llama Sutra, will be published by Ink Tears Press later this year. You can find her at www.melaniewhipman.com