Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Writers' Forum Magazine

Hi everyone.

As I type this post, I'm gearing myself up for the heatwave which is due to hit the UK later today. It's going to be hotter here than in Las Vegas apparently, so I'd better start cashing in my chips.

I thought I'd blog today about my recent return to reading writing magazines. For various reasons, I haven't been buying writing trade magazines for a few years now, even though I used to buy and read them, and even write for them sometimes, on a fairly regular basis.

Although the number of writing magazines on general sale in the UK has dwindled considerably, there are still one or two good ones on the market and one of my favourites has always been Writers' Forum. This publication has been going for quite a number of years now and I was pleased to discover when I recently purchased a print copy that it is still a useful and informative publication for beginner and more experienced writers alike.

One of my favourite writing magazines

To give you an idea of some of the topics that the magazine includes, here are a few of the 'How to' articles that were in the April 2018 issue:

* A step-by-step guide to crowd funding the publication of your book
* How to write the type of articles that magazine editors want to buy
* The importance of professional development for writers
* Thinking in terms of cause and effect when constructing stories
* Avoiding errors of logic in fiction writing.

Although I still read (and occasionally still write) 'How to' articles, especially if they are on a new angle such as the crowd funding one, I must admit that I've reached the stage in my writing career where I tend to fast forward to other slots in the magazine. I particularly like reading profile pieces about writers who have "made it" in areas where I feel I haven't (but would still like to) such as children's fiction and non-fiction books for adults.

In the same issue, one profile piece particularly caught my eye. It was an interview with writer Di Redmond whose bestselling series of books, which started with The Bomb Girls, was written under the pen name of Daisy Styles. What I found particularly interesting about Di/Daisy was that before writing these World War Two sagas, she wrote scripts for children's television, working on such iconic series as Bob the Builder and Postman Pat. I'm always fascinated by writers who have been successful in more than one genre as it proves that if you can write, you can write, no matter what genre you are writing in or what subject you are writing about.

Cover of The Bomb Girls by Daisy Styles

As well as articles, Writers' Forum also carries news items about "the latest in the world of books, the internet and publishing". These are mostly sent in by readers so they can be a bit "random" but definitely still worth looking at. Della Galton's useful "agony aunt" column is still going strong and in the issue I read, she tackled questions from readers about whether it's a good idea to work on two books at once, how you go about finding someone to write a treatment for a TV idea and how important it is for a writer to have an "online presence".

If you are new on the writing scene or looking for fiction or poetry outlets, Writers' Forum also provides several "open" opportunities for readers to be published in the magazine. As well as the aforementioned news items, there is a letters page and a number of competitions which may result in publication and useful feedback on your work from guest contributors. Some of the competitions also offer cash prizes or subscriptions to the magazine.

Cash prizes are on offer in Writers' Forum

If you are an established freelancer or author and are looking to submit article ideas to Writers' Forum, I have always found the editor Carl Styants to be very approachable and open to appropriate pitches. The magazine is quite "formulaic" in terms of having regular slots and features so do take a look through at least one copy before submitting ideas. There are submission guidelines at:


I have just started reading Mslexia magazine again for the first time for about five years (in digital format so it may take a while!) so watch this space as that could well feature in a blog post soon.

Happy writing and stay cool.

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Commitment Phobia

Hi everyone.

What are you committed to in 2018?

To be honest, this time last year, I thought I was going to be committed to psychiatric hospital, given how "off my head" I was feeling with the whole menopause malarkey. However, thanks to the wonders of HRT, things are a lot better this time round.

My commitment for 2018 is to be a designer. I realise this might be a strange thing to say in a writing blog post as I should probably be saying that my commitment for 2018 is to be a better, richer, more productive or more frequently published writer. 

Actually, in a funny sort of way, I think I am saying all those things but not in the way you would expect.

To cut a long story short, as my late father was fond of saying, I feel that I have been "faffing around" (to put it politely) with my designing career since I made the decision in September 2015 to change direction career-wise once again and become a designer.

I thought it was lack of time, lack of confidence, health problems, the menopause, my age or my financial situation that was holding me back and preventing me from really moving forward with my new career. It turns out that it wasn't any of those things. It was simply a lack of commitment.

Is a lack of commitment holding you back?

I honestly thought I was committed. I'd made the decision, told everyone I'd made it, developed some of the skills I needed, set up the website, blog and Social Media pages, made contacts in the industry, added lots of products to my Etsy shop and filled a very fat book with all the things I could do to help me achieve my designing goals.

But I was wrong. I wasn't actually committed. I was still committed to being a writer and a crafter. Designing was something I was fitting in around those other two things, not to mention everything else in my life. 

Many years ago when I first became a writer, I had a very clear picture in my mind of a glass jar. The jar was filled with lots of large round stones and all the spaces between the stones were filled up with sand.

What are the stones in your jar?

To me, the stones represented writing which was at that time the most important thing in my life and the thing that took up most of my passion, time and energy. The sand was everything else, ie stuff that had to be in the jar but was far less important to me than writing. Because of that "commitment" to writing, I was able to forge a pretty successful career as a freelance journalist, given that I'd never had a day's journalism training in my life or been employed in a staff job first.

It was coming across an incredibly helpful blog post at the beginning of 2018 about the huge importance of commitment in career change that made me wake up and smell the ink on my designs. The line that really jumped out and hit me was "If you're not taking action toward your career change commitment, then you're still committed to something else."

I suddenly realised that the stones in the jar could no longer represent writing, they had to represent designing, otherwise another year was going to have passed and I would be no nearer to becoming the new Zandra Rhodes than I was in 2015. Yes, there could still be sand in the jar in the form of some writing and some crafting, but I knew I had to "get on the bus and stay there" as the blog post advised.

Zandra Rhodes by Phil Konstantin

So I made my decision to really "commit" to my designing career on January 2nd 2018 and although at the moment, I've no idea how I'll get any writing or crafting done as well, what feels really  important to me and has brought a surprising sense of relief and well-being, is to have made that decision. 

Interestingly enough, the blog post included a quote which I had blu-tacked to my office wall many years ago and had forgotten all about until I saw it again in the post. It is attributed to the German writer Goethe:

"The moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favour all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.”

So I'll ask the question again. What are you committed to in 2018?