Showing posts with label pocket novels. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pocket novels. Show all posts

Monday 16 January 2017

1920's Revival...

A useful reference
(image source:Amazon)

Yes, I was meant to be writing a short story, and getting on with my second draft, but my pocket novel idea suddenly started getting in the way.

You may remember my mentioning I was doing some research during the summer holiday months while family members (usually at University or College) were at home. When I can't write in depth due to distractions and noise, I research instead.

I had two beginnings, random scenes and a few characters, an odd idea and snippets of plot, but it wasn't getting anywhere. So I saved everything and got back to other projects.

Actually I think that Epistolary story acted as a trigger, as that too is set in the 1920's; so I was already thinking about that time period.

Over the last few days my word total has been creeping up as I add snippets to this story, and where appropriate fit in the random scenes I wrote in the summer.

I'm just about at the end of the ideas I have for the early chapters, and think it may just turn into a novella or long short story rather than a pocket novel.

I much prefer to concentrate on one project at a time, but other things do get in the way sometimes, and I know that unless I write it out it will block the other work.

While I can compartmentalise the different stories with their characters, setting and plot, some ideas continue to get in the way, refusing to wait.

I'm going to have to try splitting my time between a short project and a long project. I did try this last year, but just couldn't deal with it. But I'm going to try again...

As I still had a National Book Token gift-card from January last year,  I couldn't resist using it to buy the book- picture top-right- 1920's Fashion The Definitive Sourcebook.

It's a wonderful selection of images covering the 1920's. There are drawings, fashion plates, adverts and photographs covering the various categories, among them: Daywear, Outerwear and other less obvious items like shoes, wedding dresses, and swimming costumes.While many of the drawings are of Parisian origin, there is enough of a mix to satisfy every reader.

I even recognised the style of coats with fur collars, and the cloche hats worn by my paternal grandmother and aunt in some old black and white family photos, taken in the mid to late 1920's.

Anyway, back to work...

Sunday 21 August 2016

Making Lists Again...

Almost at the August Bank Holiday again- where has summer gone?

I'm going to be grabbing writing time here and there for the next few weeks as the new academic year approaches.

My son at university, starts his third and final year, but will also be on the other campus this time, so he'll be in a shared house. This means we'll have to go out with him to buy the additional items he'll need before he moves in early next month.

Son at college goes back for the final year of his computer course mid-September, so that will be full steam ahead with writing on the two full days he's there. He's also waiting for the results of his GCSE Maths- due this coming week.

Still working...
I'm filling up my 2016/2017 diary with appointments and other events, so I'm going to have to be stricter with myself to ensure I have writing and reading time between now and Christmas.

I haven't made as much progress as I'd hoped, but that's been my time management issues this year.

When my children were younger and at school I used to write more in the morning, but now they're older and I don't have the time restraints, it's lunchtime, early afternoon before I settle. So I need to get back some of my mornings to write.

It would probably help if I didn't stay up until midnight too. :D

There are a few deadlines for projects approaching, so they'll be the top of my list- they are writing so that's okay.

As for my 1920's project, it's slow going. Whether I can get the pocket novel tone is quite another issue...

Right, I'm off to consult my diary and see what free time I have this week...

image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono at

Thursday 11 August 2016

First or Third Person Viewpoint...

I've always preferred third person viewpoint, both writing and reading.

Occasionally I have written a short story from the first person viewpoint, but I hadn't intended it. I started writing and that was how the character and story seemed to fit.

Now I'm in the same situation again with this 1920's story- hopefully a pocket novel.

As I've been writing blocks of dialogue from the ideas in my head, I've been getting inside the mind of my heroine, but I do wonder if that will remain once I start adding description and narrative, or will I find I'm writing in the third person as usual?

Though the idea of using first person would fit this particular plot well I'm really not sure I can carry it off!

I suspect there will be a lot of editing by the time I've finished it-whichever direction it goes...

So what's your thoughts on viewpoint in your writing? Do you prefer a particular viewpoint, or does it depend on the story you're writing?

First or Third?

Image courtesy of jesadaphorn at

Monday 5 August 2013

My Characters Are Calling...

Some of my characters in waiting have started getting impatient, reminding me they are there and they are waiting for me to get on with their story...

Unfortunately I can't handle two different romances at the same time. Each hero is different and it won't help continuity if characteristics from Marcus (from my Dorset novel) start transferring themselves to Hugh (in my Nottinghamshire novella).

I may have to assign different days of the week to each story just to keep them happy.

At the moment another couple of characters are popping into my mind, so I think I need to do some brain clearing- writing down all the ideas/characteristics that have developed since I first started to give them reality (at Sally Quilford's Pocket Novel workshop a few years ago).

I'd like to attend Sally's next workshop in September, but I won't be able to; but do go if you can, you'll learn a lot and enjoy it.

You can find out more on Sally's blog, here. It's titled 'Recipe for Making Love Stories'- and if you book now, you get it for less.

I've just finished reading Sally's latest My Weekly pocket novel, 'Take My Breath Away'. It all starts with Cleopatra- at least the making of a film about her... :-)

I was so near the end of the story, and didn't want to wait until the following day to finish it, so I stayed up until nearly one o'clock in the morning.

Right, I have to go. I need to start recording my characters' latest revelations...

Do your characters-in-waiting start trying to interrupt, when you're writing something else?

Wednesday 22 May 2013

More on the Contract Issue...

Following on from the concerns raised by writers on the new DC Thomson contracts- which I mentioned in my last post- Womag has received a response with clarification from Shirley Blair, who is the fiction editor at People's Friend.

You can read it on Womag's latest post, here.

I don't think it acceptable to re-use a writers work without further payment- unless the fee you're paid initially is increased to reflect that fact.

Interestingly the new contract has a much wider reach:

"Our legal department decided that it was necessary to develop new contributor terms that apply right across our publishing business and are relevant to magazines, newspapers and digital publishing."

So this will effect not only the Scottish newspapers they produce, but also The Weekly News, The People's Friend, My Weekly, Beano, The Official Jacqueline Wilson Mag, teen magazine Shout, and Dandy Extreme, The Scots Magazine, and Animals and You- aimed at the younger market.

There's been an explanation of the Clause 8 concern. But saying there will be an" additional payment" if a collection is done, which suggests it will be a one-off payment and not royalties.

And the Joint Contributions aspect will certainly have a knock-on effect. The large print publishers who print previously published pocket novels (that are often in libraries and earn PLR) will now find they can't just use them as before, because they can only have the writers original, not the edited for publication version...

They will answer questions and concerns about the new contracts, which is good.

But, the new contracts are not negotiable, so if you don't sign it, they won't buy your work.

So it will now be down to individual writers to decide whether they sign the contract and continue to be paid for their work, or they don't sign and lose an income source...

Monday 3 December 2012

The Writing World This Week...

Looking at the current book/magazine related news does seem to be popular, so I thought I'd start the week with bringing you a few snippets.

Easy Reads/My Weekly Pocket Novels- look out for more changes in this market. Sally Quilford has an update on her blog today- here. It seems the new Easy Reads are not continuing, but it doesn't appear that everything is going in reverse.

(This news may actually work for both the magazine readers and writers.)

Perhaps the changes that were made were too big. Especially in the current book and magazine markets where everyone is competing, trying to keep costs down and attract new readers. Regular readers can get forgotten about.

Kindle Book Pricing - came across an interesting couple of blog posts that will interest writers who are putting their work on Amazon's Kindle.

Do you have to keep your selling price low to get sales?

The Luzme blog looked at the top 30 Kindle best sellers and compared to there lowest price the previous week. See this post here.

Today's Luzme post looks at the paper copies and cost. Read it here. You will certainly understand why publishers seem to be having pricing issues of solid books vs e-books.

Don't forget VAT is charged on e-books, and not on solid books.

Which leads into a brief mention about e-book VAT  challenges on the Bookseller. Following up a few links I found an article from late October that sets out the consequences if the challenge to the UK's HMRC (HM Revenue and Customs service) succeeds- solid books may cost more.
Read the article here.

I'm sure that's enough to be going on with for now. :-)

Wednesday 26 September 2012

Wednesday is Novella Day...

Wednesday's have become the day I get on with writing my Nottinghamshire novella.

(This was originally going to be written for the My Weekly Pocket Novel market, but as we now know the My Weekly Pocket Novels have not only undergone a change in cover design, they're now gained different categories - see my blog post from August with useful links.
There's also a good article in the current edition of Writers' Forum (October) which has an interview with MW's Maggie Seed discussing the pocket novel changes and what she's hoping for.)

So, my novella's progress to date.

I did 600 words today, which added another scene to my third chapter.

I think it was a little bit of a struggle because I was dealing with a scene I'd written before- a couple of years ago- and it was much better than what I wrote today (at least that's what my memory tells me).

It's probably saved on one of my floppy disks, so I'll have to plug in my floppy reader and search through my box of disks.

This scene today also had one of the secondary characters, who isn't very pleasant, in it.

In fact this chapter doesn't actually have my hero present, except in thought, which is important.

At some point in a romance the hero and heroine will be apart; unless they're trapped somewhere together, they each have their own daily lives to lead so can't be together all the time.

Yet their love interest still needs to be there in some way so the reader doesn't lose interest. After all it is meant to be a romance.

With a contemporary story contact between hero and heroine can continue - a mobile phone, skype, e-mail or text message. They could even send a message with a picture of themselves...

But in an historical romance you're limited by when the story is set, and what technology is available- if any.

In 1802, there were conventions of everyday behaviour to begin with, so messages going back and forth would be difficult to keep quiet unless you can be sure your messenger is trustworthy and not going to turn to blackmail- that's another plot entirely.

As my story is set in a village in the early part of the 19th century there's no opportunity to use the language of flowers or fans to pass a message.

(For flowers have a look here and here, and for fans there's this silent British Pathé film from
1932- see - The Language of a Fan.)

So for winter I'm aiming for every free Wednesday to be Novella writing day, just to get the main body of the story down. I have it planned out chapter by chapter so I know where I'm going. I just have to work hard to get to the end.

Then the revisions start...

Friday 3 August 2012

Waterstones, Pocket Novels and Other News...

It's been a strange week, with the Olympics almost taking over the news, but don't worry writing news hasn't been forgotten.

So here's a round up of what's been happening.

There's been the sad news about the passing of two well known writers: Maeve Binchy and Gore Vidal. While I have to admit to never having read either author, I remember snippets of one of Maeve Binchy's stories on the radio, her words conjuring up the Dublin of her youth and the attitudes of society.

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The My Weekly Pocket Novels are undergoing another change. Anyone buying copies recently will have noticed the more modern covers which are certainly more appealing to a potential reader.

This week Womag and Sally Quilford have been sent the new information on the major changes taking place.

Basically there's a name change to Easy Read, with 2 Romance genres: Caress and Liaison; and 2 Crime genres labelled Intrigue and Suspense.

You can read the explanations for each category over at Sally's blog- just download the flyer at the link on the page.

If you're unsure about some of the requirements Sally has a follow up post here, Maggie Seed has clarified a few aspects of the changes.

Like every magazine editor there comes a point when you have to modernise to reach a younger market but hopefully not change too much and lose your regular buyers.

They seem to be going for a Mills and Boon effect cover with elements of 50 Shades starkness. But I like the covers shown on the flyer, so it will be interesting to see w they look on the shelf.

(Meanwhile People's Friend isn't changing- see here.)

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For those who have books to promote and have been fortunate enough to arrange book signings in Waterstones stores, you might like to follow this Bookseller report up.

"Waterstones has issued new advice to its bookstores on running author events, after concern that customers were being put off by writers handselling their own books, and that signings were lasting too long. One author was told that going forward author events should last no longer than 90 minutes, and be staffed by booksellers." (the

Now I'd assume individual store managers will decide what happens, but one blogger reports cancellations of book signings already (link within the Bookseller article).

There's not enough staff in stores now, so I can't see branches wanting to provide an assistant for authors selling their books.

Authors with first books to promote don't naturally know best practise, or signing protocol. So perhaps Waterstones would be better having a standard sheet of what they do and don't expect of authors doing signings.

Waterstones need book buyers to keep them on the high street, that's a fact of life.

Yes, Waterstones is a business so it's understandable that they have concerns, and want people to buy books from them.

But you have to give people a reason to step inside the bookshop in the first place, and author signings do that.

If a 'handselling' author has promoted their book signing well then people may just go along, and once they're in the bookstore you might just find them buying other books from the shelves and display tables, or even deciding to come back again later.

It will be interesting to see what happens.

Friday 8 June 2012

My Novella Can Be Stretched...

I don't mean length-wise, though that's a possibility.

If you haven't seen Sally Quilford's post today about the new My Weekly Pocket Novel guidelines, then follow the link here.

I think the addition of a Medical genre will prove popular and I know one writer friend who will certainly be encouraged. Personally I spend enough of my life dealing with the medical fraternity so don't want to use my spare time writing about them in any form.

My Nottinghamshire novella set in 1802, with my delicious hero Hugh, was hopefully destined to be a pocket novel submission, but despite all my groundwork something just wasn't right; as I had my other writing projects I decided to put the novella on hold and let my brain work on it in the background.

Since the MW (My Weekly) pocket novels have been updated (a much more attractive cover design) there's been a lack of pre-20th C settings and I did wonder if this was just scarcity of submissions or editorial preference.

Personally I thought the extended length- moving from 30,000 to 50,000 words may have been too long for some stories, but not long enough for others.

And with the expanding e-book market there's a lot more options available - without the restrictions the writer needs to be aware of for a PN (Pocket Novel).

I think it was those elements that blocked me because I was too aware of them as I wrote, rather than just getting on and writing it, even with the no-nos in, and editing them out later...

With the guidelines making a strong reference to specific times: " Pocket Novels can be set in any time era from the Second World War onwards." My novella certainly won't fit...
I'm not sure what I will do with it when it is finally completed, but I can look at potential markets in the meantime.

In some ways knowing it will no longer fit means I'm not restricted in the way I was previously, so my baddie can be punched in the jaw by my hero, because said baddie has almost caused the heroine's death.

And if the intimacy between Hugh and Sarah goes beyond a stolen kiss, that is no longer a problem-which I'm fairly sure will make my characters a little more cooperative.

Yes, I know there are the conventions of the time, but records show pre-marital sex did actually happen- social and economic histories are not totally boring... :-)

Will the latest PN guidelines be encouraging you to try this market?

Monday 24 October 2011

Saturday at Sally Quilford's Pocket Novel Workshop...

I had a busy Saturday attending Sally Quilford's first Pocket Novel Workshop in Chesterfield. Now it's not far from Nottingham, 30-40 minutes by train, so off I went. I have to admit I haven't been on a train for over 20 years, so initiously I was a bit anxious...

I needn't have worried, I arrived in one piece at Chesterfield and followed Sally's directions to get to the Market Hall building. Chesterfield is clearly a thriving market town and I'd like to visit another time.

Anyway I got to the room we would be in and Sally and her daughter were there to welcome us, and they provided tea, coffee and biscuits- as it had been an early start for all of us.

We were a mixed bunch of writers, from those who had an idea for a pocket novel, to those who were broadening their writing horizons- our number included two males.

Writers are always told to study their market, so we started with the differences between the My Weekly pn (pocket novels) and those produced by People's Friend. One big difference is 'kissing'; there's no kissing in the PF version, while the My Weekly pn editor is very happy with kissing (more about that shortly).

So we got down to some writing. First our heroine- we wrote about who she is, her background, description (if we knew what she looked like) and anything relevent.
And it's not easy if you don't already have a character in mind, or you do have a character but don't know anything about them yet.

We then repeated the process with out hero- I only had a name, but realised he was actually a character who'd been lurking in my mind for some time (I'd teamed him up with another heroine originally but realised they were not right together).

Our next task was conflict-both internal and external-  difficult when you don't know your characters well.

The secondary characters came next. I've found my secondary character usually acts as a support to both my hero and heroine, rather than one for each, or creating problems.

And finally the kissing scene. We all groaned at the thought of producing this. When you consider you've just started to discover your hero and heroine and then got to get them kissing without the normal lead in!!!!

But we survived and all too soon the day was over- we did have a break for lunch, Sally was not that cruel...

We all learnt so much, but if you want to know, you'll have to find out from Sally. She hopes to do others if she can arrange them, and you can always contact her about her online workshop- see Sally's blog.

It was a great day and among Sally's suggestions were links on Womag writer's blog, the current  pocket novel guidelines and Douglas McPherson's interview with the My Weekly Pocket Novel Editor Maggie Seed (which originally appeared in Writers Forum ).

Friday 15 July 2011

Bits and Bobs...

First the good news on the Blackbird family nesting in our garden. Two days ago the first fledgling appeared among the pots and overgrown grasses by the patio...

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I've been having to look at computers with a view to replacing the current desktop. It is still functioning but the loading time for any web page with pictures is slowing down; so the graphics card is no longer adequate for a lot of the visuals you get everyday.

So it will be Windows 7 and that means I have to sort out all my saved work on XP so it will be in a form the new system can recognise- anyone got any tips?

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If you haven't visited Sally Quilford's blog today, then do pop over and have a look at the pdf of the new guidelines for the longer My Weekly Pocket Novels.

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Jane Austen's unfinished manuscript of The Watsons was sold at auction a few days ago and sold for just under a million pounds. It was bought by the Bodleian Libraries of Oxford, so it will not be going out of the country.

She was very neat in her editing- crossed out lines were quite straight, but you'd certainly need good eyesight to read it...

You can read what there is in book form, details here.

Despite our digital world with lots of means to communicate, in the end paper will probably last a lot longer and still be able to be read...

Wednesday 13 July 2011

Character Queries - Speaking Italian...

Yesterday I started chapter two and (just like the previous time I'd tried to write it) found myself changing my mind. After the fourth attempt I got something I was satisfied with and that's when queries started occurring...

My hero is stood looking at a neglected field and he curses. Now if it were in English then it wouldn't be a problem, I could have toned it down, but he curses in Italian.

(I had already decided that this story was not going to fit the pocket novel formula and this moment confirmed it.)

I considered whether I could find an alternative way, but that wouldn't have been true to how I see and hear him in my imagination; it would also have denied part of his back story.

So off I went and googled Italian curse words and phrases. I discovered that just like the UK, there are different dialects in various areas of Italy too. Plus I have to remember that my story is based in the early 19th C not the early 21st...

So whatever I choose will be simple (and likely to have been used at the time) but will still get over his anger and upset at that moment.

I think I will be looking into the Italian language in a little more depth, and it won't be wasted- yes, there's an attractive Italian waiting for his story to be written, he's the brother of another character's love interest...

But I mustn't get sidetracked, those are other stories. :-)

Wednesday 29 June 2011

The Novella Progresses...

I've been keeping to my planned writing sessions for the novella and it has certainly made me think hard about my characters and who they are deep down.

Dragging the depths of my brain hasn't found anything too disturbing, it's just jiggled a few ideas around and made me review my previous thoughts on certain characters, elements that were there but hadn't been so obvious before now made more sense.

So, happy with the character sheets I moved onto my chapter outlines.

I had my synopsis, but it was a basic synopsis and the story had developed more since it was originally written.

So I started with Chapter1: written in bold. Well I knew what happened in this chapter, what I was aiming to show and why, it was already written and had been sat untouched for a couple of years.

But I'd not been happy with my previous attempt at writing Chapter 2, so had abandoned it.

Even though I knew the story I was going to write, I just couldn't decide how to start chapter 2, so panic!!!

Reminding myself I didn't need to write chapter two now, just the outline I took a deep breath and started typing. Very quickly I was outlining the next chapter and suddenly the first four were done.

Once I started I was surprised how easily it all came out.

Three pages in total and the story outlined in 15 chapters.

(I type with a couple of fingers, so my chapter outlines of just under a thousand words took two hours.)

I certainly feel more confident about this project, but I suspect it won't fit the pocket novel formula by the time is is done.

But the end is a long way off yet...

Tuesday 7 June 2011

Which Novella to Work On...

Once again I have some peace and quiet to write- the school half term holidays are over and I'm determined to get on with one of my longer projects before the summer holidays begin.

But which one?

I have one novella that I started over two years ago. It's set in a fictional Nottinghamshire village in 1802. While the premise of the story is not original-most have been done before- I think my idea will work.

One of my characters in waiting-Hugh- finally gets his chance to appear.

As I already have a synopsis and the first chapter written, I thought I'd start with this as the time away has helped and I'm ready to move on with the story.

I'd actually entered it in one of the writers' club competitions the year I started writing it- 2009 (just to get an opinion on the story idea and characters- I only needed a synopsis and the first chapter) and the critique was helpful, so I'm going to work on this first draft and see how long it comes out.

It has potential to be a pocket novel, but whether it will be long enough- 50,000 words, I'm not sure.

So tomorrow I'm going to plan out the chapters and work on my character sheets so I avoid my flat characters issue- I'm really trying.

And if anything or anyone tries to interrupts me I will be ignoring them...