The weekly herding: the highs and lows of success

Last week, I skipped my weekly round up of shiny things because I was too lazy / feeling unmotivated / terribly busy. However, I reasoned that everyone would be too busy speed-eating ice creams or complaining about Pokémon Go heralding the End of Days to notice. The result is that I have a wealth of information stored up, all of which promises to unlock the secrets of success to the reader [the management cannot guarantee fame and fortune through the reading of this blog].

In the words of Ronan Keating, life is a roller coaster, just gotta ride it


Author interviews

I love reading about authors’ career paths and writing processes. It’s encouraging to see their success stories, and there’s always some nugget of wisdom to be extracted. So too in this interview with thriller writer Alan Glynn, who talks here about getting that magical phone call confirming his first book deal for The Dark Fields, which was subsequently developed as Limitless, the film starring Bradley Cooper, and more recently developed as a TV series. That early break gave him the financial freedom to be a full-time writer, and he has some sensible advice for novices:

‘…writing advice… which I wish I could stick to myself – is just to get out of your own way and write. It’s so easy to let yourself be distracted or to convince yourself that certain obstacles are real. It’s so easy, in fact, to do anything but write. Get to know your own avoidance strategies and learn to short-circuit them’ – Alan Glynn

At the other end of the experience spectrum is Laura Marshall, whose manuscript Friend Request was recently shortlisted for two novel-in-progress awards, coming second in the Bath Novel Award 2016 and reaching the final seven in the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize 2016. Marshall’s psychological thriller hasn’t been published yet, but this lovely interview gives an insight into her amazing progress so far. She only started writing her novel last November, having signed up for a Curtis Brown Creative writing course, and speaks highly of the focus it gave her, as well as the sense of camaraderie with her classmates that helped her through it.


On the flip side

Understandably, the prime goal for writers is getting published. It’s the reward at the end of the hard slog of writing. But what if you’ve achieved that, published two or three well-received books, and then find yourself no further than where you started? On her blog, Cork-based novelist Mary Morrissy talks with remarkable honesty about her experience in the publishing wilderness:

‘For a period of 13 years (2000 – 2013), I didn’t have a book published. I found myself shut out, first from the publishing world, when my editor rejected not just the next novel I produced, but the next one after that.  Then there was a parting of the ways with my agent of 15 years.  Suddenly, I found myself right back at the beginning again’ – Mary Morrissey

I love that this story takes a happier turn – Morrissey’s most recent novel The Rising of Bella Casey was longlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award 2014, while her second collection of short stories Prosperity Drive was published this year to critical acclaim.


Get your poetry or short story collection published

Doire Press has put out an interesting call for submissions of short stories or poems to be considered for full-length collections. They say they’re looking for “writers with a unique voice who have a strong publishing background and profile, and who will be proactive in promoting their work”. I presume ‘a strong publishing background’ means already having had work published in journals. You can send three short stories or 15 poems, and the submission window closes July 31. More details can be found here.


Magazine submission opportunities

Tried to think of a juicy pun. Couldn’t

In a chance to get in on the ground floor, as they say, The Tangerine is a new online magazine that has just opened for submissions to their inaugural issue. The editorial team is inviting a wide range of writing, whether it be articles, essays, short stories or poems, and they’re open to idea proposals. They seek work that challenges and excites them, and would particularly welcome submissions from women, people of colour, members of the LGBTQ community and people with disabilities. You have until August 31 to submit your best words.

Halo literary magazine (the launch issue of which I was chuffed to be published in recently) is also open for submissions for their autumn issue. This time around there’s a theme of ‘Embers’. Stories should be a maximum of 1,000 words and they’re keen for submissions from women writers around the world.


Win an online writing course

This is a good one. UK-based Writers’ HQ has launched a series of five online creative writing courses (7 Ideas in 7 Days, Short Fiction, Novel Plotting, Novel Editing & Manuscript Submission) and, to celebrate, they’re running a fantastic competition offering the opportunity for five writers to win free places. The competition is free to enter, open to international entries (provided you write in the English language), and each prize is worth £500.

Incidentally, the website promises ‘arse-kicking, profanity-laden’ courses, so expect an unpretentious, humorous approach. All the info – and more information on the courses and retreats available – is here. Closing date for entries is August 14.


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