Blog, books, Writing

“Heritage: New Writing VIII’—The Launch!

Last night was the launch of the University of Gloucestershire’s annual anthology of poetry and prose. Held in the stunning surroundings of Francis Close Hall’s Chapel, a huge audience listened to extracts from the book.

Here’s the cover: the map of the world is made up entirely of fingerprints

The launch was held in November to coincide with the university’s graduation ceremony, which was held the day before. This meant that graduates travelling from overseas could make the most of their trip—their presentation on Thursday before Friday’s evening of fiction and fun (and a weekend at leisure in Cheltenham, as they say).

This anthology was made possible by generous funding by the Creative Writing Department of the university, and kept on track by self-styled (for anthology-creating purposes only!) Capitalist Pig Dr. Mike Johnstone.

At the heart of the Heritage project was its content. We appealed to students, alumni and anyone who has worked at, or for, the university now or in the past. Around a hundred and fifty submissions arrived from all over the world. The standard was so high, choosing which to include was almost impossible. Luckily our team of editors, Carlie Chabot, Rich Kemp, Carole May, Hayley Saunders and Maria Stadnicka was up to the task and did a great job. Those contributors whose work couldn’t be included have the satisfaction of knowing they were in good company. The standard of writing was extremely high. That means there are plenty of writers linked to the University of Gloucestershire with something ready to submit when the 2020 anthology opens for business, in a few months’ time.

Francis Close Hall, University of Gloucestershire

The artwork and design of the whole Heritage project was worked on by Sam de Weerd, Hayley Porri, Hayley Saunders, Shannon Storm (who also produced the promotional material), and Jacob Luke while Chris Davies, Sam, Carole, Hayley Porri, Shannon, and Ross Turner handled the marketing. The copy editing was down to Jacob Luke and Ross, while I did the proof reading and Rich acted as consultant to the whole project.

My co-managing director, Chris Davies, made a magnificent compère last night. He kept the evening running smoothly, and the audience loved him. As well as working with the Art and Design team and creating the cover of Heritage, Shannon created a stunning visual presentation to accompany the readings. She also gave a great vote of thanks at the end to the tutors who have made such an impression on us all.

It was a wonderful evening, and paperback copies of Heritage: New Writing VIII sold well. The anthology will be available on Amazon soon—I’ll let you know when it goes live.

Heritage will make a great Christmas present, so get your orders in as soon as you can!

Blog, Writing

Writing…and Publicity

The rain has been lashing down outside for a couple of days, and it’s cold and miserable. Whatever happened to “Flaming June”? On days like today I’m glad I’ve got a nice indoor occupation, with no heavy lifting. It’s a world away from toiling outdoors in all weathers.

The biggest problem with writing as work is the constant urge to move on to the next project. I keep a notebook to write down all the new ideas that pop into my mind while I’m busy with a project. That way I’m never short of inspiration. When one book is finished, I flick through my notes. That gives me plenty to think about. When one particular image or scene germinates well, that’s when I start writing again.

That’s the future mapped out. What about the past? I’ve got a sizeable backlist of historical and romantic fiction. As my university course means I’m having to concentrate on writing non-fiction at the moment, my backlist is a valuable resource.

The weather was too bad to work on my vegetable plot yesterday, so I was cooped up indoors. It was a day exactly like that when I started writing His Majesty’s Secret Passion. I needed to escape the miserable British winter. A luxurious spa in Greece felt like the perfect getaway. His Majesty’s Secret Passion was a lot of fun to write, and readers enjoy its take on the Cinderella-type story of an overworked woman passed over for promotion desperate to make a fresh start. I liked the idea of inventing a Prince Charming who wanted a real job as a doctor, rather than living an idle life of luxury as a king.

His Majesty’s Secret Passion went on to become the first book in my Princes of Kharova trilogy. All three books are full of secret desires, men who want change and women who know their own minds. I used yesterday’s down-time to create a book trailer on Animoto. I’ve only used it once before, to make a trailer for Struggle and Suffrage In Bristol (you can watch that here).

Talk about going from one extreme to the other! What do you think? Have you got any advice about using Animoto?

Writing

Heritage: The Anthology…


Each year students on the MA course at the University of Gloucestershire create an anthology of the university’s best new writing. The search for new stars has just been launched! The only restriction on authors is that they should be either present or past students of the University of Gloucestershire. Here’s the call for submissions—please pass the word on to any qualifying writers you may know…

Selling ideas as well as words…

Heritage. What does it mean to you? Family, identity, history… or something more?

The 2019 UOG Creative Writing Anthology – Heritage: New Writing VIII – is inviting submissions from Monday 4th February to Friday 8th March 2019. Prose, poetry and creative non-fiction pieces on the theme of ‘Heritage’ will be considered from all students and alumni of the University of Gloucestershire.

Stratford—full of heritage, especially for writers! (Pic via Pixabay)

For more info and details, visit https://uniofglos.blog/creativewri…/anthology/2019-heritage/ and email submissions to heritageanthology@gmail.com

Good luck!

Blog, Writing

How To Write A Proposal For A Non-Fiction Book

Small Beginnings Grow Into Big Ideas…

I’ve put my romance writing on hold while I’m at university (you can find out more about that here). Instead, I’m spending all my writing time on two separate projects which form part of my MA course.  One is a full-length piece of women’s commercial fiction. The other is a non-fiction book about the Gloucestershire countryside. 

Writing Struggle and Suffrage reignited my interest in writing non-fiction. There’s one big difference between writing novels and factual books. You can approaching agents and publishers before you’ve finished writing the book. 

Fiction editors like  you to finish your novel before you contact them. When you write non-fiction, a book can be sold as not much more than an idea—as long as an agent or editor finds it irresistible.  To tempt them, you’ll need to put forward a detailed proposal.  Here’s how to do it…

A successful book proposal has 8 elements: A cover page,  a synopsis, a full set of chapter outlines, details of your target market,  format of your book,  a list of chapter headings, your credentials for writing this book, and a sample of your work.        

Cover Page

This should be laid out with the working title of your book, your name (and pen-name, if you’re using one), the book’s estimated word count, and all your contact details  including address and phone numbers.

Synopsis

This should be a single page laying out the six main pillars of your book: what it’s about, where it’s set, why it needs to be written, your qualifications for the job, the stage you’ve reached in writing it, and how long it will take you to finish the whole book. 

Chapter Outlines

You only need one or two sentences for each chapter. As with fiction, make every word count. Every line must either advance the story you’re telling, or deepen the reader’s understanding of one or more of its characters. You’re fishing for professionals— offer them juicy bait then make sure there’s a good hook at the end of each chapter outline to reel them on to the next one.

Target Market

Publishing a book calls for a major investment in time and money. The more accurately you can identify who will buy your book, the better it will sell. What age group are you looking at? Is your material gender-specific? Are you aiming for a small local market, or universal appeal? Specialist readers, or impulse buyers? 

Your first buyer is your prospective agent or publisher. Make that sale, and more will follow. Study their websites and social media activity to discover their likes and dislikes. Find out what your target market (and therefore your professional contact) needs, and wants to read. Can you catch the wave of a trend? Give them what they want, and it will make selling your finished book a lot easier.  

Assume you won’t be the only person who identifies a popular trend. Include a line or two about what your book does better, or differently from other books on sale. Show you’ve done your research by including titles of your potential  rivals’ books.  

Format

What will the final word count of your book be? How many chapters will it have, and how long will each one be? Will your book incorporate any unusual design features? Will it be illustrated? If so, will the illustrations be in colour or black and white? 

Chapter Headings

Give a Table of Contents by listing your chapters and giving each one a concise, appealing title.

Your Credentials

Put forward the case for you being the perfect person to write this book. Give an account of all your experience in the field, whether technical, academic or both. Inspire your reader with your enthusiasm for your subject as well as your expertise. Give details of your online presence, and list any  experts you know off-line, too.  The writing business relies on networking. The more impressive connections you have outside the business, the keener people will be to draw you into their own particular fold.

Sample

Send the first two or three chapters of your book to give a taste of your writing style, pace and content. 

 As with all submissions, make sure you use a legible,  industry-standard font such as  Time New Roman 12-point throughout your proposal, and number every page. Although most submissions are made by email, a lot of editors like to print out proposals for reading.  If the manuscript gets dropped, numbering pages makes it easy to get them back in the right order. 

When you’ve got your material organised, edited and proof-read, read it aloud to yourself from beginning to end. It’s amazing what you’ll catch!

Next time, I’ll be exploring ways of finding the perfect destination for your proposal.

Have you tried contacting publishers direct with your work? Have you had any luck?

Cooking, Writing

Autumn Colour, Fast Food and Romance…

69727-acer_palmatum_bonnie_bergmanYesterday it felt like “St Luke’s Little Summer’ —the name given to mild days around St Luke’s Day (18th October)—had come a week early. Here in Gloucestershire, it was sunny enough to be almost hot. Walkers were out in the woods dressed in shorts and t shirts, collecting sweet chestnuts. It was still warm when I reached university at six-thirty last night.

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Find out more at  http://mybook.to/MyDreamGuy

Today, we’re back in the ice age. It’s time to dig out the light-therapy lamp, and think about putting on the central heating. We’re having this brilliant, easy soup (using the last tomatoes from the greenhouse), and home-made bread for tea tonight. There are buds in the Christmas cacti, and the lemons are ripening. Despite the chill, there are lots of good things about autumn!

It was cold, wet weather like this when I wrote my short romantic comedy, My Dream Guy. What could be worse than sitting in my chilly office, looking out on pouring rain? Going camping, I thought—so that’s where I sent my heroine Emma. Her romance with Jack has lost its sparkle. He arranges a holiday in Wales during the wettest summer on record, and Emma can’t see how life in a tent is going to put the fizz back into her love-life… unless the bronzed farmer who bewitched her as a teenager is still running the campsite. He is, and Emma gets a picnic full of surprises!

Whatever the weather, find some summer sunshine with My Dream Guy