Hello, and thank you for visiting my site. I hope that you'll return often and always find something of interest about my world and what inspires me to pick up a pen. (This is a figure of speech, unfortunately. My handwriting is terrible!) Here's what I've been up to recently...
Using material gathered over the last year or two, including my article Fulfilling Fillers (Writing Magazine December 2012), I shared with HWC some strategies for topping up earnings during ‘dry patches’.
Almost all writers go through these and contributing short items – rarely over 250 words and generally far fewer – to the vast array of publications on offer nowadays can be surprisingly lucrative. We are indeed fortunate that email has done away with heavy expenditure on stamps and stationery as well as the need to copy precious photographs or risk their being lost in the post.
Amusing anecdotes, cuttings and photographs, handy tips, holiday stories, jokes, nostalgia and readers’ letters about anything under the sun will all find a home somewhere. You just need to be persistent and choose your target market carefully.
Below is one of my particular favourites, which appeared in Reader’s Digest a while back.
16 May, 2013
Always one to rise to a challenge, I recently entered and won the ’Shaggy Dog Story’ mini-saga competition set by Helen Yendall. The brief was to write a maximum of 250 words and include ‘bone’, ‘dog’, ‘collar’ and ‘stray’ in any form.
How the Doctor came into it, you’ll discover by reading A Timely Solution, now available on my Stories and Poetry page.
Helen has already sent me an Amazon gift voucher, which I promptly spent! The other part of my prize, a full critique of a short story, awaits. Thank you, Helen, for your generosity.
13 May, 2013
Insight into another writer’s methods and motivation is always interesting and I was very happy to take part in reciprocal interviews with Wendy Steele. You can read Wendy’s interview with me at http://wendysteele.com/2013/meet-the-author-maggie-cobbett/
What motivated you to begin to write?
When I left school, I had no idea what I wanted to do but it’s hard to envisage a time when I didn’t write.
My first piece was a poem aged 10, after visiting the Tutankhamen exhibition in London and, ever since, I’ve come home from new adventures and committed my thoughts and experiences to paper. My first piece of published (and paid!) writing was an article for the Dancing Times, after attending my first day of belly dance workshops in London, eight years ago.
As a child, I read and wrote stories, losing myself in the lives of the characters, while in my early twenties, I wrote children’s stories and short stories but it was on a two day writing course, nine years ago, that I believed I could be a writer. I liked the character I created on the course and, over the following three years, proceeded to write my first novel between school runs, children’s clubs, family domesticity, cleaning other people’s houses and stacking shelves in a supermarket.
After attending Swanwick Writers Summer School for the second time and receiving great advice and help, I made the decision to take time away from teaching dance and complete the current novel I was working on. ‘Destiny of Angels – First book in the Lilith Trilogy’ was the result followed by two short story anthologies and my first non-fiction book ‘Wendy Woo’s Year – A Pocketful of Smiles – 101 ideas for a happy life and a happy you.’
How do you fit writing into your daily life?
Teaching dance in the evening allows me to write during the day but it’s never as simple as that! My plans for this year have not panned out as I hoped as my mum’s ailing health, having our house on the market and family working shifts have changed the time I have available to me.
As a self published author, launching myself into the writing world and marketing my work has also taken me away from physically writing. Getting the balance right is a constant challenge.
Do you prefer to stick to one genre or move around?
Ideas for stories come to me all the time but my fiction writing has been concentrated on the Lilith Trilogy. It’s been described as contemporary, literary fiction with an occult twist.
Which do you find more challenging, writing a story or editing it afterwards?
Definitely editing! Once I’ve made the time to write, it rarely takes me more than ten minutes to get into my writing and even first edits are no problem but ensuring every word and every sentence is relevant and the whole novel flows is hard work.
‘Destiny of Angels’ was as good as I could make it when it was published last year but, another year of writing and editing has taught me a lot and ‘Wrath of Angels’, the second book in the trilogy, hopefully out this year, will be even better.
Which writing related events do you like to go to?
I’ve attended a number of talks at The Essex Book Festival over the years and gained incites into the ever changing world of books but it was Swanwick Writers Summer School that propelled me forward, giving me the belief I needed, to dare to be a writer. Being able to focus on writing, among other writers, for a whole week with no distractions is pure luxury especially with the wealth of speakers and courses and approachable experts to learn from.
How important is reader feedback to you?
Hearing reader feedback is the equivalent of applause to an actor. As my work is on Amazon and Goodreads, readers can rate and post a review. To hear that a reader has enjoyed my stories, been motivated to read more widely or felt a part of the book was talking directly to them, is wonderful. Though each review is personal, I try not to take criticism personally but endeavour to learn by it.
How big a role does social networking play in promoting your writing?
At the end of last year, I launched my Big Birthday promotion and social media took over from writing for a month but I’ve endeavoured to redress the balance this year. My ideal writing week would consist of 80% writing/editing and 20% social media.
You can find me at www.wendysteele.com
My Facebook pages
You can view my books on Amazon via my author pages
Thank you, Wendy. I’ll continue to follow your career with interest and hope to meet you at a writers’ event one day.
13 May, 2013
Swiss writer Karin Bachmann has just translated our recent interview (see below) into German and you might like to see the results on her website http://stories47277.blogspot.ch/2013/05/interview-mit-der-englischen-autorin.html#more
Karin’s interview with me and mine with her were fun to do and an experience that I’d be interested to repeat with other writers. Please let me know if you’d be interested.
5 May, 2013
… When merry lads are playing. Fa la la la la – or something like that. It’s also the month during which prudent Yorkshire folk ne’er cast a clout and it is indeed, quite chilly today. (OK, I know that the old saying probably refers to the flowering of the hawthorn bush, but many people still hold fast to the view that you can’t trust the weather until 1st June.)
Pagans wouldn’t dream of moving Beltane for the convenience of industry and commerce, but May Day in the UK, unlike most other countries, is now rarely celebrated on the first of the month. Nor do the ‘merry lads’ and their bonny lasses often dance on the village green on that day. Even in Aldborough, the nearest place I know of around here still to have a maypole in situ, has chosen Sunday 12th May for the event this year.
Back in the day, though, every self respecting primary school and many other organisations, large and small, liked to keep up the old traditions. You might like to take a look at my very short story ‘May Day Mayhem’.
1 May, 2013
The arrival of the latest issue of Writing Magazine/Writers’ News is always something I look forward to – and not only when my own work gets a mention. However…
I can’t even begin to list the number of ways in which WM/WN has helped me over the years, but I’d certainly recommend the publication to any writer as an invaluable resource. Available to buy over the counter, a subscription is much more cost effective and there are perks for new subscribers!
Full details are available from https://www.writers-online.co.uk/
30 April, 2013