Sunday 19 February 2017

That Special Business of Writing - Guest Post Simon Whaley

My guest today is Simon Whaley. I've known Simon for a few years now via social media and his articles in Writing Magazine are the ones I turn to first. Simon is also a short story writer, tutor and a terrific photographer. One thing about Simon is he's never been too busy to answer any questions I've had regarding the business of writing. Likewise, I've always been very happy to contribute to his articles when asked which is why I'm pleased he's brought out a new book on this very subject. 

I'll let Simon tell you about 'The Business of Writing' himself!

Writers are special. Well, the ones I know are. Because whenever you ask for help they will always provide it, if they can.

It’s something I learned as a budding writer in my early teens (gosh, we’re talking more than three decades now). At the time, I wrote to several famous writers (Alan Ayckbourn, Alan Bleasdale, John Sullivan, and David Crofts) asking for advice. And guess what? Every single one of them wrote back. (I still have the letters.)

Some of the advice was general. John Sullivan suggested that as I was 14, there was no need to panic just yet. I had plenty of time to experience life, because that’s what writers draw upon. Alan Bleasdale hinted that other careers were far easier and more rewarding financially. He based his argument on the assumption that it takes seven years to become a brain surgeon, and therefore it was probably quicker, and easier, to become a brain surgeon than a published writer. Looking back, he was spot on.

Alan Ayckbourn wrote three sides of A4 paper. I’m sure it was a ‘stock’ reply, but the fact that he’d sat down at some point to create a ‘stock’ reply still suggested a keenness to help other writers, even though he was pressed for time.

Perhaps, strangely, even though writers are often competing with one another, we still take pleasure from other writers’ successes, which is why, I think, we’re willing to help out. In particular, when it comes to a competitive market such as writing fiction for the women’s magazines, where we are all in competition with one another, we’ll still offer our thoughts and advice when a fellow womag writer asks for them.

In my Business of Writing column in Writing Magazine, I frequently ask other writers for help. When discussing a topic such as earning money from secondary rights like PLR or ALCS, I think it’s important to get comments from real writers who are out there, doing the job, and dealing with these aspects of the writing life on a daily basis.

Whenever ALCS is mentioned on Facebook groups, someone asks what it’s all about, and then everyone piles in explaining what the writer needs to do to register to get access to this money. This is despite the fact that those helping out may get less money in the future, because the pot of money has to be distributed between a greater number of writers. If you want to know more about ALCS, check out this post on my blog:, or buy a copy of my book ;-)

All writers are busy people. We earn our money by writing, not by helping out. Yet every writer I’ve ever approached for help when writing my column has always kindly done so. (Including Wendy, thank you!)

It’s one of the reasons why I wanted to gather some of my Business of Writing articles together into a book. When writers have helped out like this, I feel their generosity of advice should be available for a lot longer than the month of the issue the article appeared in.

So to all the writers who’ve helped me with my column since it began in 2014, thank you. (And thank you in advance to the writers I’ve yet to knock on their door asking for assistance.)

If you’re looking for advice from fellow writers about how they improve their productivity, determine which rights they sell in their stories, deal with crises of confidence (yes, we all have them), stay within the law of libel, create a business-like workspace, cope with rejection, and much, much more, then do check out my book, The Business of Writing.

And if you’re always looking for hints, tips and advice about the business of being a writer, then please visit my blog: It’s free. Because as writers, we know how important it is to help each other.

Thank you!


Sunday 12 February 2017

20 Things I Love Best in the World

We're almost at Valentine's Day and, in honour of this time of year, I thought I'd write a post on the twenty things that I love the most. Some of them won't surprise you, but a few might!

1. My family

2. My dog, Bonnie, and my cat, Bob

3. Opening a magazine and seeing a story of mine in there

4. Dancing

5. Singing in my choir

6. People who hold doors open for me (sorry but I'm old-fashioned)

7. Any Greek Island

8. The Lake District

9. Cream cheese and banana sandwiches

10. Red wine

11. Walking by the river

12. Les Miserables

13. Australian Masterchef

14. My electric blanket in winter

15. Jeans

16. Teacakes

17. My friends

18. Books

19. Roses

20. My blog readers for continuing to support me!

And while we're talking of love, I have two valentine stories in this week's People's Friend. It's unusual for this magazine to publish more than one story from a writer, so I'm very honoured. I actually wrote and sent them last year but missed the Valentine boat, so I had to read them again to remember what they were about!

And finally, if you're in the mood for romance, you can find twelve of my published favourites in my short story collection, Room in Your Heart, which (for the price of a small coffee) can be bought here.

Sunday 5 February 2017

Psychological Thrillers and Me - Guest Post Louise Jensen

I am enormously pleased to have as my guest this week psychological suspense writer, Louise Jensen, whose novels, The Sister and The Gift, have both been number 1 bestsellers and sold for translation in ten different countries. Having just read The Sister, and thoroughly enjoyed it, I couldn't wait to ask her a few questions about her writing.

You’ve written two psychological thrillers, had you written anything before?

I have been writing non-fiction for years for health and wellbeing publications, writing mainly about mindfulness and chronic pain. Writing a novel had always been the dream but time and family meant it was something I kept putting off although looking back I think it was fear that held me back. Beginning something and knowing you need to write 90k words is incredibly daunting.

What made you decide to write a novel?

I lost a great deal of my mobility in my 30’s and with more time on my hands I decided to write a book about mindfulness, which I teach. I went along to a local writing group to find out a little about self-publishing and I was given 3 words and 10 minutes to do a ‘hot pen’ exercise. I wrote the opening to The Sister and for days afterwards I couldn’t stop thinking about Grace and Charlie and decided to try and expand my snippet into a short story but I couldn’t stop writing.

Had you always had a burning desire to write in this genre?

I didn’t realise I was a crime writer until I was offered a book deal and my publisher wanted to talk about marketing. I wrote the story I wanted to tell, one I would like to read. One that made me scared, one that moved me to tears. I’m contracted for 2 more thrillers, I’ve recently released The Gift, the second and I’ve had to write knowing it needs to slot into a genre which has been more difficult. Ultimately I love feeling unnerved but I also love the emotion in commercial fiction so I try to blend the two genres.

‘The Gift’ is your latest novel. Can you describe it in one sentence?

Jenna hasn’t been the same since her heart transplant; recognising people she’s never met, discovering secrets she shouldn’t know, seeing a murder that never happened.

Are you a planner or a pantster?

Oh I wish I could plan. Particularly now writing to a deadline. I generally start with an idea and a strong female lead and see where it takes me. Throughout the writing process though I always bear in mind what the character wants and what is stopping her from getting that. This means everything I write stays connected to these points and doesn’t veer too far off track.

What would you say would be your typical writing day?

I catch up on social media when I wake and then after the school run I write until around 12. After lunch I’m not very creative in terms of getting new words down so it’s time for blogging, admin and editing. I try to finish around 4 so I can spend some time with my son.

You’re published with Bookouture. Can you tell me a little about your road to publication?

My road to publication was relatively easy, although I did receive the inevitable rejections every writer has. The Sister wasn’t finished until November and I had a contract by January. That said I’d been very careful in making sure it was absolutely ready. I paid for a professional critique which was enormously helpful and I made some last minute tweaks after receiving my report.

You’ve recently been interviewed by ITV news. Was that scary?

ITV rang me the night before as I’d just reached my second UK no.1 in a year so I didn’t really have time to get nervous, plus, if I’m honest I thought it was a joke and didn’t expect them to turn up. The interviewer was lovely and really put me at ease and it was a great experience for all the family.

Any other novels in the pipeline?

I’m due to release my third psychological thriller with Bookouture at the end of this year so I’m in the infancy stages of writing it. Not quite knowing yet what it will be about but that’s half the fun!

Thanks so much Wendy for inviting me onto your blog.

Find out more about Louise:

Buy Louise's books here:

Louise is a USA Today Bestselling Author, and lives in Northamptonshire with her husband, children, madcap spaniel and a rather naughty cat. 

Louise's first two novels, The Sister and the Gift, were both No.1 Bestsellers, and have been sold for translation to ten countries. The Sister was nominated for The Goodreads Awards Debut of 2016