Friday, 31 January 2014

Self-publishing is no longer the elephant in the room. It is loud, proud and working well. Read Jane Carling's guest blog. Margaret Graham

Introduction by Margaret: 

Self-publishing used to be the elephant in the room. We all knew about it but no-one advertised the fact that  'Vanity Publishing', as we called it then, would be considered an option. How times have changed. With the advent of e-books and on-line booksellers like, and let's not be coy about this - AMAZON - and I write that loud and clear, writers aren't waiting around but strutting their stuff for the world to see. Or in other words, self-publishing. 

There are all sorts of avenues open to them. You can format your own book into an ebook and sell on-line or there are loads of organisations that will format it for you. You can create a physical book. Again, there are many companies to help you and I noticed at the Winchester Writers Conference, now known as Winchester Writers Festival there were many self-publishing stands. 

Recently I have self-published alongside my traditionally published books. Maeve's Afternoon Delight didn't find a home with my publisher  Random House(it happens) but I liked Maeve and felt she should see the light of day so I whacked it onto Amazon. She's ticking along nicely while I get on with the Easterleigh Hall series for Random.

I'm really thrilled that Jane has agreed to write this guest blog for us as it's such a topical subject. I've read, and enjoyed, Pandora's Box, written after her Mills and Boon course which was held under the Tuscan sun. Jane has a love affair with Greece which is where it's set, and it's fun, sunny and saucy. Pandora's Box's journey to the light of day is a journey for our time. Look and learn.   

Don't forget to head for our Virgin Giving page once it is set up to receive donations for Team W4W's tandem skydive. I am doing it with two other W4W team members who are, like me, women old enough to have more sense. (My agent despairs of the lengths to which I will go to be strapped to a fit young man). I've just heard that we could be joined by a bloke, a younger one. Heavens! I will post more news when it I get it. Incidentally, we are paying for it ourselves so every penny will come through to W4W. 

Now over to Jane.

Jane Carling My Self-Publishing journey

I had an idea for a story after attending a creative writing course in Tuscany. The venue was idyllic but I had not read the small print. Bowled over by lovely location shots, I did not realise that this romantic writing course was based on Mills and Boon. Whilst it was quite an interesting week, I am not the sort of writer who obeys the rules and the formulaic process that M&B require was just not me. I was not too surprised therefore when they rejected my first three chapters.  I carried on regardless as I believed in my story and veered off into my own imaginative world. About eighteen months later I finished Pandora’a Box,   a fast paced romantic tale of love and loss set in Greece and was ready to go. Being no spring chicken, I decided to self-publish, as by the time a publisher actually took me seriously, I might be too old and or gaga, although I am open to any offers.
I researched various options via Google, Writing Magazine and Amazon Kindle. Publishnation ( was the clear favourite. It is much better to be able to speak to a human about this process and David Morrison could not have been more patient and helpful. He explained that all I had to do was send the document as a word attachment and they do the rest. The cost for this was a mere £95.00 for publication on Kindle or paperback. I decided to go for both options at £135.00. This price includes obtaining your unique ISBN number and all formatting. There are additional proof reading, marketing and critique services available. Publishnation use Lulu ( for the print on demand facility and all I had to do was set up an account with them.
For the cover I had a clear idea in mind as the story is a good holiday read or a winter warmer. 
I sourced a company called IStockphoto ( and for £10.00 purchased the cover.
Pandora’s Box is my first book. It was published in October 2013 and is available on Amazon Kindle, Amazon in paperback and Lulu and so far is doing quite well. However a word of warning for those over enthusiastic and impatient writers, please ensure you proof read everything and don’t get carried away by the euphoria of holding your first book. In my haste to get this done in time for my Aunt’s birthday, I did exactly this and people have pointed out some typos and a couple of errors. So when that first baby arrives make sure it is perfect before you finally let go. However, when I told my mentor this she smiled knowingly and replied, “Welcome to the Author’s world, Jane.” Knowing about the silly errors was irritating, like a crooked picture, so I have corrected and re-published.
My next project stems from a short story task as given to my inspirational writing group, Chesham Writers and Scribblers, by our mentor. Their blog is 

Monday, 13 January 2014

Kate Kelly's guest post - Margaret Graham

Happy New Year Everyone! 

I've known Kate for some years now, and what has always struck me is her endurance. She has written for years trying this and that, and always improving. Now she has really hit her stride with the successful Red Rock for young adults, published by Curious Fox. She's a lovely writer with some excellent tips. Enjoy!

And do remember that Words for the Wounded Writing Prize is now open for entries. Details on Remember that every penny goes to Tedworth House Recovery Centre and we raise the prize money separately. The spring is drawing closer and that is when Jan Speedie and I do our sponsored sky dive. Megan my granddaughter has decided that we should do wing walking next year. That requires some thought!

How I became a Children's Author by Kate Kelly

People often ask me why I opted to write for kids, and I’ll answer that it wasn’t a straightforward decision. It took me a while to find my genre.
Oddly the first novel I ever penned was aimed at young teenagers. This novel, like so many first efforts, was truly awful and is rightly consigned to the ‘box-under-the-bed’. But the act of creating this monstrosity was a valuable lesson – I realised how much I needed to learn, and I set out to do that.
Now I have always been a huge fan of Science Fiction, and that is what I started to write. But this time it wasn’t novels – the place I really honed my skills as a writer was with the short story.
Short stories are something I would advise every aspiring writer to dabble in. They teach you focus, and to be concise. They also give you more scope to experiment – if your try something out in a 60K word novel and it doesn’t work that’s a lot of time and effort only to find yourself back at square one. But if you try something out with a 2K short story and it doesn’t work you’ve only spent a couple of hours and learned a valuable lesson, which makes it worthwhile.
So I wrote short stories. I entered them into competitions. Some of them were shortlisted. I sent them off to magazines. Some of them sold.
At this point I turned my attention back to novels, since I knew that novels were what I really wanted to write.
It was also about this time that I was re-discovering children’s fiction through my own kids. It was wonderful to meet so many old friends – books that have stood the test of time, but there was also a wealth of literature that was new to me, and it was a wonderful discovery.
As I shared these stories with my kids I started to wonder if some of the ideas I had buzzing around in my head were in fact better suited to be children’s stories, rather than adult books. I decided to test this idea and it worked. The result was Red Rock, my newly published children’s novel.
But writing for children is not the same as writing for adults. So, for any aspiring writers out there who are thinking of writing for children, here are a few of my top tips:
1.       Get rid of the parents – the kids should drive the story forwards, not the adults.
2.       Make you main character slightly older than the top of your target audience age range – for example if your MC is 12 then you target audience will be 9-11.
3.       Learn to think like a child again.
4.       Keep the language age appropriate but don’t dumb down (and mind those expletives!)
5.       Keep the subject matter age appropriate – romance is for teenagers – not for 6 year olds
6.       Write for the kids of today – not the kids of 20 years ago
7.       Listen to how kids speak and understand how they socialise – it keeps changing.
8.       Know your market - read other recently published kid’s books
But above all, enjoy it and keep writing.

Kate Kelly’s debut children’s novel RED ROCK, a Cli-Fi thriller for ages 10+ is published by Curious Fox.