Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Get your self-edit toolkit here

Completing a full draft of a novel is an awesome achievement and one which should be celebrated but, on its own, it's not enough. Whether you intend to pitch to agents or self-publish your novel, you need to polish your MS until it sparkles and it's hard to do that on your own. A critique is one possibility. According to the 120+ people who have done the Writers' Workshop 6-week online Self-Edit Your Novel course, is another option and one that you won't regret.

Emma Darwin and I designed the course together. Hosted in a private group on the Word Cloud, each week, there's a short video introduction and a detailed tutorial. The homework we set is based on participants' own novels and we workshop the exercises together in the group. In other words, the course is designed to give you the tools of creative writing and then show how you can apply them to your own MS.

In a couple of weeks, the 11th course begins, adding to the wonderful groups we've had over the last years. The fruits for many of those on the earlier courses are beginning to be harvested. How amazing is it to hear that authors have gone on to success and credit the course for getting them there? It can't and won't happen for everyone, but we can guarantee that the standard of your writing will shoot up several levels as a result of those 6 weeks. If you're not sure if the course is for you because, say, you're not confident about your grammar, have a look at Emma's blog here. Check here for an example of the sort of detail we go into in the Prose Microscope week.

One of the advantages of the course is its flexibility and the way you can fit it into your Real Life (though some will say it tends to take over for those 6 sweaty, intense weeks). Also, the groups stay in place on the Cloud for EVER, and several have continued to function as online writers' groups after the course finishes.

But don't take my word about how good it is. I'd rather you hear it from some of our self-edit graduates. Jules Ironside blogged about it here. Below is a selection of quotes from various posts on the Cloud.

It's a really fab course - you won't regret a moment on it ... what I've written since has taken leaps forward in terms of writer's craft and how I feel about what I write.
Squidge

Some of our group are still meeting ... and offering pieces to read and critique ... the SE course gave me the tools to look critically at my own work ...to stand apart from my baby and be a bit less emotional about it. Clear and supportive, but not namby pambying direction from Debi and Emma got me to the stage where I understood that writing is re-writing, rather than just spouting the phrase. So, absolutely excellent investment into your future as a writer! 
Bernie

The six weeks was the most writing-related fun I've ever had ... the best investment in your writing you'll ever make ... The course does much more than teach you how to edit. It teaches you to be an all-round better writer. Yes, in six weeks.
Richard B
Do this course. Your writing will level up and you'll get more weapons. 
Barb
It has given me the confidence to pull the whole WIP apart and weave it back together, hopefully with better materials! 
Woollybeans
Do it. Get the money - sell the car / kids / a kidney, it doesn't matter ... JUST DO IT!! The skills learned on this course don't just apply to the WIP you work on, but to ALL your writing - it's invaluable, and I have never, ever regretted doing it. 
CJ
I have not had so much intense fun in ages (but then I'm an engineer...). No hesitation in recommending it unreservedly. Forget low energy lightbulbs, all my light bulb moments were high energy incandescent! And Debi is a saint, generous and patient and tough and wise. Emma is a font of wisdom. And on my group the course buddies were awesome.
Bric
It was revolutionary for me. Can't believe how much I learned and am still learning. Still have the support of my classmates over in our little group too so well worth it!
LinsP
We had Young Adult, Historical, alternative universes, magic powers, crossed continents, burgeoning super-spies and family sagas; a veritable Waterstone's of WIPs - and yet they all worked together ... more arc-lights than lightbulbs, and yes, although it's an editing course, it's very much a be a better writer course ... you don't just get the guidance of one uber-editrix, you also get however-many-other-people-are-on-the-course editors too. Do the course. Do it. Do it. Do it (everybody now,) Do it. Do it. Do it...
Van

I couldn't imagine more perfect teachers. Not only are you both writers that I admire and not only do you both know your craft inside and out, but also you know how to share your 'toolkit' and teach others how to pick up and use the tools ... you never made us feel stupid for not knowing or asking questions, but have always been ready to come to the rescue with answers, links and encouragement ... combined with humour, kindness and the right amount of challenge.
Susie

... your energy and care for detail has surpassed anything I could have possibly expected. Your fierce support has been like medicine to our lows and your praise when we have got things right has given us wings. On this occasion, even with the help of this course, words are inadequate to relay my depth of gratitude. 
J.net

In the past six weeks, I've been shown the error of my ways a number of times, but always with patience, humour and honest truth and a knowledge of the craft and an insight in how to impart it so as to enable us to improve. 
Sandra

It blows my mind to look back at how far we have all come in six weeks. I started out as a leaky wee boat, but now, not only am I floating, I am sealing all the cracks instead of simply bailing out water. 
Raine

See here for a breakdown of how we cover the subjects during the 6 weeks. Go here to book. The course runs 4 times a year, so there are plenty of options. Maybe use the date as a deadline to finish that first draft? Hope to see you there.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

I have some news

I'm delighted to announce that I've signed a contract with Dzanc Books who will be publishing Nirvana Bites and Trading Tatiana (originally published by Orion) as part of their rEprint series. Dzanc's ethos of supporting writing - and reading - at every level is close to my heart and I'm really happy to be with them. It's also really exciting to know that these novels will be out there again and available to a whole new readership. You can see more about Dzanc in this article in Publishing Perspectives.

While I'm sharing, I'll also say that my agent loves my latest novel and has begun pitching to publishers. There are no guarantees he'll succeed, of course, but having his validation is cause for celebration as far as I'm concerned.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Festival Book is here!

The book is now available to download on Amazon.

 

Congratulations to all the contributors!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Coming Soon ...

What? What? What's coming soon?

Well, it all started with a tweet. Jane Smith of How Publishing Really Works and The Self-Publishing Review DMed me with an idea in the months before the Festival of Writing in York.

'How about producing a book of the Festival?' she said.
'Brill idea,' I replied. 'It could include contributions from all the people who were there. It would be great! I'll pitch it to Writers' Workshop.'

'Love the idea!' said WW.
'One catch,' said Jane. 'I won't be able to work on it.'

And so it came about that I was asked to edit the Book of the Festival of Writing York 2012. And what a pleasure that's been! Lucky me was given pretty much of a free rein. I knew from the beginning that I wanted the book to be a gift to the lovely people who make the festival so special. It could showcase their writing and be something they could mention in their CVs and in covering letters to agents. I wanted the book to appeal to everyone who had been there, as a way of bringing back the memories, but also to have a wider readership.


And that's exactly what we've ended up with. The bulk of the book is made up of blogs, articles, poems, writing tips and other insights by some of the many talented delegates at York. There's also a section by some of the professionals who appeared at York 2012 and another featuring interviews with many of the agents who were there.

The e-version is now complete and will be available very soon. It's also hoped that a print version will follow.

I'm really excited about this! When I floated the idea to the audience at York, I began by saying, 'You're all writers, right? Well, we can't guarantee that all of you will eventually land a publishing deal, but we can offer you all the opportunity to have your words appear in a book.'

We can. And we did. Watch this space for more details.

Friday, January 25, 2013

More courses and some good feedback

I'm almost halfway through another sell-out 6 week online self-edit course. Details, including dates of future courses are here.

Meanwhile, this is a great blog post from Isabel Costello about the value of a critique.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Next self-edit course

Emma Darwin and I are running another 6 week online self-edit course, starting 24 Sept, on behalf of Writers' Workshop.  See here for full details.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

News from York - as it happens

Mad fool that I am, I've decided to attempt to live blog (again) the Festival of Writing in York this weekend.  See my main blog for details.