Today I am delighted to welcome Linda Lewis to The Contents Page. Linda is a writer of short stories for women’s magazines. She has also written several books to help other writers and is now running an amazing writer’s support website with her friend, Vanda, called ‘Vanda and Linda’s Write Space’ (www.vnlwritespace.com). I have invited Linda to kindly tell us more about her experience of writing and the fabulous resources and opportunities that her website and books can offer fellow writers. I am really inspired by Linda’s passion for writing and helping others, I’m sure you will be too.
Linda Lewis and ‘Vanda and Linda’s Write Space’
My name is Linda Lewis and I have been writing short stories, full time, since 2003. In recent years, the number of magazines accepting short stories has fallen dramatically as fiction made way for celebrity gossip. These days my main markets are: The People’s Friend; My Weekly; Woman’s Weekly; an Australian magazine called That’s Life and Take a Break’s Fiction Feast. I also make occasional sales to other markets including: The Weekly News, Yours and Ireland’s Own.
To date, I have written nearly 900 stories and sold most of them. Finding ideas comes easily to me because they are everywhere; all you have to do is train yourself to notice them. In 2012, I wrote THE WRITER’S TREASURY OF IDEAS (http://amzn.to/2Hb8xLm), published by Filament, where I go through many of the techniques I use to generate plots. I recently self-published a follow up called FINDING IDEAS (http://amzn.to/2Elzo5H). Details of some more of my books follow.
WHY SHORT STORIES ARE REJECTED: http://amzn.to/2H9z3EJ
This looks at the most common mistakes writers make, like having too many characters. If you are a beginner, this is well worth a look.
100 GREAT FIRST LINES (AND HOW TO USE THEM): http://amzn.to/2CeHBXq
This is more than just a book of first lines. Part One lists the openings of one-hundred of my own, successful stories. These can be used simply as prompts or as exercises in creative writing groups. Part Two takes the process a step further. It looks at how the opening could be developed in various directions and includes the actual ending of the story that went on to be published.
STORIES WITH TWIST ENDINGS: HOW TO WRITE AND SELL THEM: http://amzn.to/2EBpjVu
I write a lot of stories with twist endings. They are much harder to write than people might imagine. The ending can’t come out of the blue, it has to make sense. This book explains how to achieve that.
For details of these and my other books, visit my author page on Amazon:
As well as writing, I also enjoy giving talks and running courses and workshops for groups such as Swanwick Writers Summer School, NAWG and so on. I was also a tutor for the Writers Bureau for a while. I love teaching as I get such an enormous kick when I help another writer achieve success.
One of the most important things writers need is decent feedback. It’s great to read a story to family or friends and be told that it’s good, but we also need to know what’s NOT working and, even more importantly, how to fix it. It’s often better to find somebody who is already successful in your chosen area of writing and is willing to offer honest, constructive advice. I can look at a story and instinctively know how to improve it. Unfortunately, this works a lot better on other people’s work than it does on my own.
Before I started selling stories, I thought my work was good and couldn’t understand why I wasn’t making sales. Then I joined an online group, where a man who was a successful writer, tore my work to pieces. It hurt more than I can say, but it made me think. What if he was right? I learned so much from that experience. Now that I DO know what I’m doing, I like to help other writers, but there’s a big difference. I am always honest but I am never unkind.
After moving back to Exeter in February, 2017, I set up a new website (www.vnlwritespace.com) with my fellow writer, Vanda Inman. We offer affordable feedback as well as courses (including one about writing stories with twist endings). Our latest short story competition closes on 30th April and has a first prize of £250. When I’m asked to judge competitions, it’s frustrating reading entries that, with a little bit of work, might have won, and be unable to tell the authors, so we always offer an optional short critique to entrants.
I’d like to end with a bit about me. I don’t have an English degree. I suffered from depression for many years. I have no husband and no children and there’s definitely no romance in my life – more’s the pity – yet somehow I manage to write and sell stories about love and relationships. The point is – I’m nobody special. That’s what’s great about writing – anyone can do it. Just remember that if you want to improve, there’s no shame in getting a little help.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact me via twitter (@writingiseasy) or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you so much Linda for guest blogging with us today, it has been a pleasure. If you have been inspired by Linda’s blog post, here are the details of Linda’s competition:
Vanda and Linda’s Write Space Open Competition
‘Vanda ‘n’ Linda’s Write Space invites you to enter our new competition and submit stories of up to 2,000 words. This competition has an open theme.
1st prize, £250, 2nd prize, £100, plus runner up prizes.
Closing date 30th April, 2018.’
Entry to the competition is £6 (with an optional critique at an additional £4). Further details and the terms and conditions of the competition can be found here: https://www.vnlwritespace.com/competitions.
You can also find details of more writing competitions on our competitions pages here: http://www.contentspage.co.uk/competitions/.
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