Tuesday, 7 July 2020

Latest Articles in Writing Magazine

The August edition of Writing Magazine is out about now and carries my monthly 'Beginners' page along with my New Author Profile. 

First, 'Write When You're Ready' might seem an odd suggestion for beginners, especially when I'm always trying to get writers to write. But these are unusual times and many writers, absent for reasons of isolation from their jobs, suddenly find themselves with the one thing they had all been wishing for so they could get down and... well, write. That is, LOTS OF FREE TIME!

As some have already discovered, be careful what you wish for. All that free time and nothing in your head to write. It happens. Call it the pressure of too much availability. In this case an overabundance of time.

Don't sweat it. Put aside thoughts of that project you had intended to pursue and get on with something else instead. Play around with a few ideas and see where they lead. In no time at all you'll find yourself generating thoughts that might take you back to your WIP (work-in-progress).

The New Author Profile this month is on Margarita Montimore of New Jersey, whose debut novel 'The Rearranged Life of Oona Lockhart'  was published in March by Gollancz.

The theme is time travel, and on her 18th birthday in 1982, Oona Lockhart finds herself transported to 2015, landing in her 51-year-old body. Worse, she discovers that each year she will 'leap' to another age, purely at random, thus living her life out of order.

Available now here: 'The Rearranged Life of Oona Lockhart' -

Sunday, 14 June 2020

Latest Article in Writing Magazine

JULY'S edition of Writing Magazine carried my usual Beginners page, this one headed 'Tomayto, Tomahto' and covers the question of language.

This is not a reminder not to swear (although a book is never enhanced much by excessive bad language) but a reminder that you might be aiming at an audience not entirely familiar with your version of terminology. This is especially applicable to the US market.

With our ebooks selling around the globe, and reaching parts never available in the age of paper books only, we have to remember that terminology doesn't always travel well. While in the UK we are exposed to much US terminology through books, films and TV, the same doesn't always hold true going the other way.

The short answer is to check with your publisher if you have one, to see what their approach is, and whether they will have their editor make appropriate amendments to language.

If you do it all yourself, however, it's pretty much down to you. You might decide to use an American editor (or one versed in that market) to check your manuscript before publishing. If not, try to work on the basis that your characters should 'speak' in their own language. Nothing grates to a reader quite like a character using words that simply don't travel that easily.

As an example, I heard a British TV reporter recently use the word 'gotten', which sounded wrong on a number of counts, and took my attention entirely away from what they were saying.

And that;s something you don't want happening to one of your readers...



Just a word of caution to those writers stuck in lock-down with time on your hands. This opportunity will, if we're very fortunate, NEVER happen again. Take the chance while it's there to get on with your writing.

- It's what you've always dreamed of doing.
- You have ideas for a book, article, short story, play or poem.
- You might have projects in the bottom drawer or the bowels of your computer.
- The thought of ditching the day job is probably more attractive than it ever was.
- The day full lock-down ends, you'll wish you'd done something constructive.

So why wait? Pull out those ideas, projects and dreams and use the free time to build, finish or enhance something you can submit.

Remember, publishing may have had a hiccup, but it hasn't stopped. Publishers and agents need to find new voices to hit the ground running, and readers are eager for new authors.

One of them could be you.

Good luck!


Tuesday, 12 May 2020

Latest articles in Writing Magazine

June's edition of Writing Magazine carries my usual monthly Beginners page - this one called 'Star Rating', and a debut author profile.

'Star Rating' first. It's basically about reviews and how to treat them. Good, easy. Bad, not so much.


New Author Profile -Andrew Hunter Murray

Published in February, 'The Last Day' by Andrew Hunter Murray explores a world that is no longer revolving, leaving the planet half in sunlight and half in dark and cold. It's am intriguing premise, albeit a frightening one, since it's as difficult imagining a world in permanent sun as one that is cold and dark.

A QI scriptwriter since 2008 and a part-time Private Eye writer, as well as working on other projects, Andrew has 'jumped the gap' with what is already a Sunday Times bestseller.


Monday, 11 May 2020

Writing Magazine - May - Beginners page

This month's edition of Writing Magazine carries my Beginners page - 'Starting Point'.

I've covered this in part before, usually allied to getting over a difficult patch. But this one is possibly more relevant at the moment due to the current issue of being at home (for most of us) and perhaps wanting to get down to some writing.

Unfortunately, wanting to, and knowing how to or where to start, is a problem in itself. Offered a sweet shop, most people would freeze.

The short answer is, just start. Anywhere. It doesn't have to be at the beginning - as long as you start somewhere.

The rest will follow.


Friday, 13 March 2020

Latest articles in Writing Magazine

I'm not sure where the last 4 weeks went, but here are my latest contributions to the April issue of Writing Magazine.

My 'Beginners' page item is called 'The Finishing Line', and deals with the simple fact that, like a race, until a writing project is completed, you won't be able to tell how well you've done. More importantly, nor will an editor or agent.

Also in this issue - New Author Profile of Amy McLellan - 'Remember Me' 

How do you catch a killer when you can't recognise a face?

An intriguing question and plot, centred on a word I hadn't seen before - 'prosopagnosia' or face blindness. Apparently not as uncommon as one might imagine... and a great hook for a story of suspense.

'Rermember Me' - take a look here:



Monday, 10 February 2020

Latest article in Writing Magazine

The March edition of Writing Magazine carries my monthly Beginners page, this one called 'Crowding In' - the occasional problem experienced by having too many favoured characters in your story and how to juggle with all those competing voices.

Less is more and makes juggling much easier!


Thursday, 2 January 2020

Latest articles in Writing Magazine

The February 2020 edition of Writing Magazine carries my Beginners page and a New Author profile of debut author, Andrew Ewart.

'Going Round Again' is the title of the Beginners section, and deals with writing being in the repeat business. Put simply, do it once and you can't stop there; you have to get on with the next project.

Partly to do with the nature of supply and demand, it's like a jobbing builder friend of mine. He has to keep working on the next job because that's how his life is. Writers are no different because we can't live off one story or project. If readers like our work, they (along with editors or agents) will want more.

Remember why you wanted to be a writer? It was to write for a living. So, if you've just finished and submitted a piece of work, get on with the next one.


The New Author Profile this month is of Andrew Ewart, whose debut 'Forget Me' is published by Orion.

The story has an intriguing premise and centres on the wife of an amnesiac who uses pioneering treatment to go into her husband's memories to bring back the man she loves, and in doing so to uncover the reasons for his attempted suicide.

Andrew's next work is a psycho-thriller with a large dose of science fiction.