Welcome to my blog

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

Monday 28 May 2012

The first sale!

The indoor writer and handsome hubby celebrated in style over the weekend. The pictures give you a little clue as to what celebratory goodies were imbibed. I'm also partial to PINK bubbly and I do love those chocolatey seashells...hmmm. Oh, so what were they celebrating I hear you squeal? Last week she sold her first story to Take-a-break Fiction Feast. Yes, the indoor writer got a call from the lovely Nora McGrath at TAB magazine wanting to buy a story. No idea when the story will come out, but it's the selling that's important and besides we can celebrate all over again when the story is printed!

Now what should the indoor writer spend her first story income on? I read somewhere that with that first precious cheque you shouldn't put it towards mundane supplies, but instead splash out and buy something really memorable, like jewellery or a decorative object. Buy something that you can look at and remember the satisfaction and joy of that first sale. Any suggestions?

Monday 21 May 2012

Flash with a splash

Helen Yendall on her excellent Blogaboutwriting ran a story competition for National Flash-Fiction Day. You had to pen a piece of flash (no more than 250 words) incorporating the key words of: knit, blunder, perform and tingle. Well the indoor writer loves a challenge and was pretty chuffed to reach the shortlist of five. Read all five stories here.

I loved the winning story by Laura Huntley - one to make you smile knowingly.  The indoor writer likes to swim several times a week and I think her story Breaking the Rules is a homage to all the ladies in the slow lane. We probably have all seen the breast stroke queens of the pool sedately counting their lengths. And don't you just hate it when some bloke comes thrashing past at high speed trying to do the butterfly or, even worse, the backstroke...

Wednesday 16 May 2012

Celebrate Flash-Fiction today

Today is National Flash-Fiction Day, a brand new event organised by Calum Kerr. Read all about events and competitions here. If you're passionate about flash writing then also check out today's flood of stories posting every ten minutes until midnight tonight at FlashFlood. If you've never sampled flash stories then why not try a few. WARNING: FLASH FICTION CAN BE ADDICTIVE!

Here's a good little story to get you started: Riding the Carousel
OK, yes this one was penned by the indoor writer. Hope you like it.

Keep flashing ...

Monday 14 May 2012

How to write the perfect synopsis

Sarah Palmer (pictured on right) led a lively workshop on writing synopses, blurbs and pitches at West Sussex Writers' monthly meeting (10 May). Her publishing career started with Routledge as an Editiorial Assistant. She then moved to Orion to become an Assistant Editor, proof-reading and copy-editing, and eventually moved into publicity. Sarah is now a freelance editor/copy-editor and ghostwriter, so clearly had the perfect credentials to guide our eager group.

Anyone who's ever attempted to write a synopsis will agree it's a hateful task. One writing friend declared she'd 'rather write a whole novel than a synopsis'. Sarah stressed that firstly you should ALWAYS stick to the agents/publishers guidelines before submitting. Typically they want to see a single page synopsis of <500 words.

Sarah outlined, using her own novel's synopsis as an example, that the synopsis must:

  • tell your story from beginning to end - including the ENDING (and whodunnit)
  • explain your main characters and how they interact
  • illustrate that you understand story arcs
  • show you have taken all of your characters on individual journeys
and achieve this by:
  • using present tense
  • single spacing
  • focus on main plot only
  • stick to the story and don't attempt to recreate your writing voice
  • keep sentences simple
  • use a snappy strap-line if you have one
Sarah talked about the importance of coming up with a strap-line in one or two sentences and asked us all to have a go. This is a fun exercise and shows just how creative you can be. She suggested the strap-line is a great hook to get your reader wanting more, whether they are: reader/buyer, agent. publisher or book reviewer. And a question is often a successful way to write a strap-line. 
Example of a strap-line that does the job: Everyone hates the perfect family. So you'll love the Battles. (A Tiny Bit Marvellous, Dawn French).

She then explained the importance of having a prepared 'Elevator Pitch'. Imagine you're in a lift with the Publishing Director of a major house and only have several floors to make them fall in love with your novel ... what would you pitch? A good elevator pitch can go in a covering letter. It should include:
  • your USP (unique selling point)
  • your main character
  • a reference to the main conflict of your story
Again Sarah ran through several examples including her own novel, recently completed.

She also talked us through writing blurbs and press releases, but more of those in a future post.
And what has Sarah achieved with her own novel to date... She shared that after submitting the usual cover note, synopsis and sample 3 chapters she has already been asked to submit her full manuscript. Not luck, but careful selection of agents and ensuring her first contact with them was perfectly executed. Her success and excellent advice was truly motivating.

Now I'm off to re-write my synopsis...

Monday 7 May 2012

Greenhouse Funny Prize

Wonder what this Gloucester Old Spot finds so funny? Perhaps he's just heard about this new prize...

Are you one of those rare people who can write funny stories for kids? You are? Excellent, then why not check out the Greenhouse Funny Prize, which is being run in conjunction with Writer's Workshop Festival of Writing. Sarah Davies launched the competition on 3 May from her blog postThe Greenhouse Literary Agency, specialising in children’s fiction, is keen to find new writers who can make kids laugh. The prize is open to un-agented writers who are resident in the UK and Ireland. Judging the entries will be Sarah Davies (Greenhouse agent) and Leah Thaxton (from Egmont Children’s Books). The lucky winner will be offered representation from Greenhouse and receive a weekend ticket (worth £525) to the Festival of Writing (7-9 September 2012). They want to see the first 5,000 words with a few lines about the book plus a one-page outline or you can submit the whole text if you have a picture book or the text is under 5,000 words in total. And they only want emails (YAY). Closing date for submissions is 30 July. 

So if you're currently without an agent, working on a manuscript for children and you think it's funny then why not have a go. After all there's no entry fee and no postal cost. What have you got to lose?

 Credit: Photo of the laughing Gloucester Old Spot taken by Charles Roffey

Tuesday 1 May 2012

A day off on the Downs

With Monday looking to be the sunny jewel in the weekly weather crown I decided to take a day off with Handsome Hubby.  This turned into a complete electronic free day: no laptop, no email and no Twitter.  Scary but wonderful too!  We also decided to leave the car behind and take the bus into Worthing.  Walking to Sainsburys we fortified ourselves with a hearty breakfast (mine was the Meatfree special) and then set-off to walk back to our village across the Downs, approximately 10 miles.

The sun stayed out and even with a brazing breeze on the ups it was a truly wonderful day.  We spied squealing buzzards, hovering kestrels and chunky lambs (almost as big as their mums now).  On the last stretch for home we stopped for a welcome break at the Wiston Tea Gardens.  A quaint tea room with plenty of free range ducks, geese and chickens to feed or giggle at.  A man appeared with a wheel barrow, presumably full of grain, at the top of the field, which set the chickens off into a wild sprint.  "It's the chicken Olympics," quipped hubby.  But I thought the dashing hens looked more like matronly Victorian ladies hitching up their petticoats to hurry through the puddles. 

As we trudged the final mile, or rather paddled through the swampy paths, we came across a flush of bluebells.  All the woods around our village are now drowning in blue flowers.  And then we heard the first cuckoo - a bit late, but truly it's the first one we've heard this year.

Walking is a great way to stimulate your right brain.  It always seems to work for me and yesterday the final pieces of a story all came together.  So sometimes taking a day off can work wonders.