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

Monday 24 June 2013

100 not out!

The Indoor Writer is doubly celebrating this week. Firstly, for hitting a century of short stories. On Saturday she finished writing her 100th short story. Sadly, this is known because she logs every finished piece in a notebook. Jane Wenham-Jones shared at a West Sussex Writers evening that she used to keep an exercise book logging all the short stories she submitted to magazines. So the Indoor Writer started up her own, which after a couple of years outgrew the original notebook and had to be transcribed to a more serious A4 tome. In this she catalogues every completed and submitted story, its title, word count and submission history. The total does include all flash pieces, including drabbles (100 words) and all entries written for the weekly Write-Invite competition (read more here). And she sticks coloured stars against the stories that do well, because a writer needs some pleasure (no matter how small) to make it all the torture worthwhile...

Secondly, its her birthday on Friday. Which deserves serious celebration. So there will be a bit of this,

a lot of this,

and hopefully a good dash of this (here you will have to imagine a photo of the sun, it's been as rare as hen's teeth round here!)

Do you track or log your story submissions? If you do keep tabs then what's your running total?

Monday 17 June 2013

Fancy some flash?

It's that time of year again. If you like a bit of flash fiction (and who doesn't?) then check out June 22nd, National Flash Fiction Day. There are events happening across the UK to celebrate flash fiction and you can find out what's happening near you here. Calum Kerr is also running another Flash Flood Journal on Saturday, where a flash story is released every 10 mins for 24 hrs. If you want to be part of the flood then here are the submission guidelines (you can submit 3 pieces). But you need to be quick as the deadline is 20 June. The Indoor Writer has sent in 3 flash stories - so trotters crossed. Follow the release of stories on Twitter @nationalflashfd all day too. Posts on writing flash fiction will also be coming out throughout the week here.

If you're a fan of flash fiction then you probably have a good sense of humour. Alfie Dog have now released 'Essence of Humour', a collection of funny stories, in paperback. Click here for details. Okay, so this is a tenuous link, but the Indoor Writer has a story in the collection and... well you know the rest...

Monday 10 June 2013

Fiction workshop with Woman's Weekly

On Friday I was lucky enough to attend the Woman's Weekly workshop on fiction writing: Have you got what it takes to be a writer? The first session was so oversubscribed they have now planned in two further sessions - all fully booked I'm afraid. You could check out the next event to be held in at Woman's Weekly Live 12-14 September in Manchester. I travelled up with Wendy Clarke, who's also blogged about the day - read her hilarious accounts here part 1 and part II - and met Patsy Collins and many more terrific writers too numerous to name.

Gaynor Davies, Fiction Editor, set the scene with an excellent introduction into writing for the Women's Weekly reader. She shared her likes (wants VARIETY) and dislikes (predictable romance). Gaynor was a lively and funny speaker and it was rather lovely that she stayed with us for the rest of the day too. At the close there was the chance for a couple more questions and we learned that the WW's reading tea get through 400 stories a month. These are then filtered by Clare through to Gaynor and then to the final Editor for a decision, which is why it can take some time to hear back. Gaynor did advise to send a query if you don't hear back after 4 months.

Our first exercise was to write an opening to hook in a reader. We had a single theme and five minutes. Gaynor went round the table to hear all 27 writers. This was a great opportunity for everyone to participate. And we heard 27 unique openings and interpretations of the theme, quite amazing.

Suzanne Ahern, co-host for the day, took us through 'The art of serial writing'. She generously shared her top tips (plus a handout) and with 17 published serials Suzanne knows what she's talking about. I particularly liked her mini story books that she creates for each new serial. She scours the internet for pictures and photos that inspire characters, prints these out with all her notes on location/setting and any historical research.

Lunch was a chance to catch up with other writers. It was surprising to find I knew quite a few people, though all from FB or blogging and this was the first time to meet them in the flesh.

We all worked on several more exercises after lunch involving character outlining and plotting. The final guest of the day was Laura Longrigg, a literary agent from MBA. She happily shared her experiences as an agent, the submission process and answered questions. Of course we all wanted to know what agents are looking for now (how long is a piece of string?) and Laura believes psychological women centred thrillers (a la Gillian Flynn 'Gone Girl'), historical fiction (think on 1914 anniversary next year) and Reading Groups' Fiction are all still fashionable. The role of the literary agent is changing and MBA are now becoming publishers too (starting with e-publishing their backlists). They receive 50 submissions a week. So if you want to stand out show in the cover letter you're serious about writing: mention successes, writing courses etc Utilise any writing connections or recommendations ie. if you've had good feedback or comments from reviewers (eg. RNA new writers scheme). Laura also promoted the Harry Bowling prize, which I blogged about here.

Looking back on the day the opportunity to network and chat with other writers was definitely a big part of the event's success. And how many of us get to meet a fiction editor for a day ... grab these opportunities when you can! I'm off to write a new story right now.

And here is my rucksack that Wendy sooo exaggerated. Not so big after all. Packed with essential items
for a day out: several maps (we couldn't follow any of them), a camera (I forgot to use it), bottle of water (unopened), an umbrella (blue skies all day), throat lozenges and Nurofen (so engrossed I forgot my cold symptoms), Kindle (we never stopped nattering about writing), 2 notebooks and 3 pens (pads and very nice pens all supplied, but Gaynor said every writer needs a notebook!) and an emergency jumper (which I did need early morning). No I didn't pack the Kendle mintcake...

Tuesday 4 June 2013

May round up

Sorry this is a few days late. The Indoor Writer returned from Bruges (I'm still waiting for my
chocolate) with a stinking head cold, which she is generously sharing. Here is her writing round up for May:

Write 1 Sub: 2 new short stories written, 1 new flash piece, 2 new novel openings (for Words With Jam competition), 1 new filler, 13 submissions (including 1 play)
Publish e-collection: as before - am collating the stories and have decided to enter The Scott Prize (Salt Publishing) which opens end July. 
Re-start the novel: wrote another short story around a major character (submitted to Bridport Prize, well sometimes you have to aim high...) Plan to draft a synopsis and start first chapter by end of June.
Crack the Weekly News: Good news is I received an email from Jill Finlay (Fiction Editor), but of course the bad news is she didn't want my story. After waiting over 8 months to find this out I probably won't be submitting again.
Crack Woman's Weekly: To try and work out why my stories keep limping home I'm attending the Woman's Weekly Workshop (writing short stories and serials for women's mags) in London on 7 June. Watch this space...
Write and sell a serial: as above for WW, hoping to learn more about the serial market before I try again (or never). 

Will re-assess all of the above and may set some new goals for second half of 2013.

The Good: .
Income = £100 in book tokens, which I'm trying to spend on writing handbooks. One of my first purchases was Robert McKee's 'Story' (one of the most expensive paperbacks I've ever bought).
Filler and a question for Della Garton published in Writers' Forum
Flash story 'Tantric Twister' published on CafeLit (a bit saucy...), a 75-word story 'Pig's Twaddle' published on Paragraph Planet, 'Gretel and the Chocolate Wolf' published in Rattle Tales 2 anthology
Highly commended: The Yellow Room Spring competition, Writers' Forum
Shortlisted: The Yellow Room
Longlisted: Kenneth Branagh Drama Award (one act play, my first attempt at a play so pretty chuffed with this result), Flash 500, Jane Wenham-Jones diet plan filler, and heard I'd reached the outskirts of the longlist (final 32 out of 400) for Cornerstones Wowfactor Novel Opening Competition.

The Bad:
Rejection from The Weekly News. Didn't make the shortlist/longlist etc for several competitions: Grace Dieu, Mslexia (again)

Hmm reading this over May wasn't such a bad month after all. Quite productive for new work and a smattering of good news and publications. Maybe this writing malarkey isn't all doom and gloom.

Keep writing and submitting...