Stand Up Tragedy: Tragic Misadventures

The characterful writer:

Lovely to see the rise of live lit.

Originally posted on ShortStops:

Tragic Misadventures: Some super hot live event slash fic!

Two nights enter, one night leaves: Stand Up Tragedy and Romantic Misadventure team up to delivery a night of tragically romantic variety.

Wednesday 9th July at the Blackheart in Camden
7.30pm till late

Featuring Helen ArneyHayley CampbellRadcliffe RoydsNell FrizzellAllan GirodLily PotkinGloria SandersJoel Golby

Hosted by Kit Lovelace and Dave Pickering.

Plus: Tragic Tales: Story Snappers from J Adamthwaite, the unveiling of some Tragic Scents created for SUT by Jo Barratt from Life in Scents and a Tragic Tombola! Plus live art from Liam Willday.

Tickets in advance £5 from: http://bit/ly/TragicFringe

Tickets on the door: £7

Proceeds from the night go towards taking Stand Up Tragedy to the Edinburgh Fringe as part of Spoken Word at PBH’s Free Fringe. We’ll be at the Banshee Labyrinth…

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Writer? 4 steps towards a writing career


The arduous path to a writer career

Karen Perkins



For today’s post I have a guest writer, Karen Perkins.

I invited her because her story demonstrates a journey from starting to write seriously to established employment. Like many interesting writers, Karen had a developed skill and passion beforehand that could colour her fiction and support it with first-hand knowledge. Like other successful people, she did not let disaster down her, but adapted to new circumstances, using her experience to develop new skills. Furthermore, the experience of writing enabled her to help others improve theirs, then her path through the arduous work of preparing a book for publication led to self-help books on editing and formatting.

Step 1: Interesting experience

Step 2: Perfect skill in writing about it – whether fiction or non-fiction

Step 3: Tell others how to write well.

Step 4:  Provide vital techniques for publishing the book.

Readers of this post can see the path Karen has taken from beginning to end. That is what interested me and led to my invitation. Karen, please tell us: -

My Journey

I have been passionate about books since I first learned to read, and was also a very keen sailor. Unfortunately, I injured myself in the Contender European Championships in 1995 (although still won the ladies title), which resulted in a condition called fibromyalgia. This is an extremely painful and debilitating condition and resulted in the loss of my previous career as a financial advisor.

I started writing, almost as therapy, and it quickly became a compulsion. I cannot see myself ever stopping now! I struggle to travel, and realized this would work against me in looking for an agent and traditional publisher so I decided to self-publish as a way to show publishers I was able and willing to promote and market my books online, as well as—hopefully—prove sales and gain positive independent reviews.

I enjoy the publishing side of writing so much, I have not submitted to a single agent since I pressed that ‘Publish’ button the first time, nor do I expect to. All three of my current books: Ill Wind and Dead Reckoning in the Valkyrie Series (historical novels about piracy and slavery in seventeenth-century Caribbean), and Thores-Cross (a historical paranormal stand-alone novel) are #1 best sellers in their categories on Amazon—Ill Wind and Dead Reckoning in Sea Adventures, and Thores-Cross in British Horror.

I had established LionheART Galleries with my partner at the time I had started writing, designing, making and selling jewellery, and broadened this to include LionheART Publishing House when we published our first books. This has grown to offer copyediting, proofreading and formatting services for other self-published authors as well as cover design and book trailers. In the past year, I feel very privileged to have helped over one hundred books be published on four continents—some very successfully.

Recently I published The LionheART Guide to Formatting, a comprehensive, step-by-step guide to formatting e-books and paperbacks in Word 2010 to help Indie authors who prefer to do it themselves.        formatting guide


This was followed by The LionheART Guide to Editing, in both UK and US Editions. There are a number of comprehensive grammar guides out there and I wanted to compile a tool which is simple, easy to use, and full of tips to include punctuation and grammatical rules, paying attention to current trends in the publishing industry. The areas I highlighted are the ones I come across most often when editing.  I also detail the method I use when editing and polishing a manuscript for publication. Even if you decide to hire the services of an editor, most charge by the hour and the higher the standard of your manuscript, the lower the final editing cost.

EDITING guide UK - small

As writers, we are wordsmiths, creating a world, characters and story through language, and punctuation is one   of the tools of language. To ignore it, except for rare exceptions, to me is like Monet painting with the wrong colors, or Michelangelo attempting to sculpt using a hammer when a chisel is needed.

Words are what we do, language is our medium and punctuation our tool. When I write, I want to take my readers to my world, to join my characters on their journey, to experience their challenges, traumas, desires. I want them to take this journey with me, without noticing the individual words, full stops or commas. I want them to lose themselves in the story, not in the mechanics of it, and this will only happen if all the elements are right.



This involves checking the detail, then double-checking it, then checking again; not only the spelling, tense, grammar and punctuation, but also any factual information in your manuscript such as real-life names, whether of historical figures, place names or brand names. I will suggest changes and highlight any inconsistencies or contradictions and focus on the writing itself, keeping the reading experience at the forefront on my mind as I work to make sure everything is clear, there is no opportunity for misunderstandings (unless part of the plot), and your novel flows well.



This is the final stage in the process and focuses on the words themselves. It is a detailed check for even the most minor errors and typos—the final polish of your manuscript



There are three main avenues to publish your book as an Indie author: Kindle (KDP), paperback (usually CreateSpace) and EPUB (usually Smashwords), and each avenue needs a different format, each with its own challenges.

Kindle (KDP). The main difficulty in your Kindle format is that what you see in Word is not necessarily what you get on a Kindle after your Word file has been converted to their mobi format. This means indents have to be properly set (tabs or a number of spaces can be corrupted in the conversion). Also, watch out for spaces at the ends of your paragraphs and extra paragraph breaks with can result in blank pages in the Kindle book.

CreateSpace is an Amazon print–on–demand company. Publishing through them means your paperback will be available on every Amazon site in the world (including Book Depository), and they will print and send a copy of your book to order. You therefore have worldwide distribution with little or no set up costs. This is also the format where you can add your own style to the finished book, with headers and footers, different fonts etc., and the main issues here revolve around the sizing of the file, and formatting page numbers etc. correctly.

 Smashwords is the difficult one. They convert your file into a number of formats, the most important of which is EPUB, and distribute to a wide range of online e–book companies, including Barnes &Noble (Nook), Kobo and iBooks. Because your book has to meet the criteria of all these sites, the requirements are more stringent than for KDP above. The best way to ensure your book passes is to use their Nuclear Method, which strips out all the existing formatting, and then start again. It is time consuming (and at times frustrating), but it is the best way of ensuring there is no stray formatting, such as hidden bookmarks or fields, that would cause your book to fail their review process.

LionheART Publishing House

LionheART Publishing House offers low-cost, high-quality copyediting and proofreading for novels, non-fiction manuscripts, scripts, dissertations, poetry, children’s books etc., whether you write in UK English or US:

£12.50 (US$21, €16) per hour

As a rough guide, this usually works out as £5—£8 per 1000 words ($9—$15 or €6—€9)

We also format your book, ready to upload to either or all of the three main sites (KDP—Kindle, CreateSpace—paperback and Smashwords—EPUB). Our charges for this are:

CreateSpace Format: £25, US$42, €32

KDP (Kindle): £25, US$42, €32

Smashwords: £40, US$70, €50

Full details are on the website, including testimonials and links to books we have worked on:–Services or you can contact Karen Perkins on

We are happy to carry out a no-obligation sample edit so you can make absolutely sure you are happy with our work before you commit.

Karen and LionheART Publishing House are also on Facebook:

and Twitter:




The LionheART Guide to Formatting is now available:




The LionheART Guide to Editing Fiction: US Edition is now available:




The LionheART Guide to Editing Fiction: UK Edition is now available:




Getting Into People’s Heads

The characterful writer:

I can’t comment. I am doggedly perservering with the second half of a story.

Originally posted on Jane Bwye:

I am delighted to introduce authonomy friend, Rosalind Minett today. I have always admired her dogged perseverance with her writings; she is an example to us all.


Thank you, Jane, for inviting me to be a guest on your blog. Nowadays I think of myself as a writer. It’s how I spend my time, reviewing, blogging, writing and above all, re-writing. I would really have liked to be a character actor. At university level, I wanted to read English Literature but another career as a chartered psychologist intervened. It has influenced my writing as I’m told my strength is being able to get into peoples’ heads.

I worked with adults and children over their learning, behaviour, and/or understanding, their parenting and their career aspirations. I was frequently in the Crown Courts, work that involved direct contact for psychological assessment (sometimes in odd situations), research, copious reading of documents, writing of lengthy…

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Word Finding

I love StumbleUpon.   pencilsOccasionally I go in for inspiration, serendipitous information, or just extension of my worldview. I can t   ype in Amerindians, gear levers, embroidery, infinity or parables, and Stumbleupon comes up trumps, or at least with an eye opener. My preferences are listed, so I also get shown pages directly I login. Today I was offered the psychology of colour and found that I had chosen the appropriate colour for a study/office (slightly green side of blue). Good, because I’m not having it painted again.

dyslexiaBut today’s post is about something I found the other day that really stopped me in my tracks. A word-finding algorithm.For many years I was assessing adults and children three times a week for dyslexia and, yes, some were certainly not dyslexic but poor spellers who had been badly taught or people with generalised learning difficulty, or of average ability expected to perform at superior level. There are different forms of dyslexia that are akin but not identical, such as dyspraxia or specific language difficulty.

One of the tasks I carried out in such assessments was to identify the tiny sub-skills that were weak and which troubled the individual. One of these was the ‘tip of the tongue’ blank moments, or word-finding difficulty.  Just as s/he got to ‘arrived‘ or ‘cauliflower’ or ‘station‘ the word escaped and refused to come out of his or her mouth. It could be the most ordinary of words.manWordfind_opt  Such a problem occurs fairly frequently in older age groups as well as within various forms of language impairment.

It is a very frustrating problem, for the individual knows the word very well, and knows s/he knows it! But it just won’t come to mind at the moment it’s needed. I could see how frustrating this was for the adult or the child I was assessing. When the assessment came to an end, I would advise going through the alphabet in case the starting letter prompting memory of the wanted word, or thinking of a word that had a similar meaning. It was a poor offering, as I recognised, taking far too long to be implemented in ordinary conversation.

So, the other day when I came across this neat little device on Stumbleupon, I was excited and immediately asked  Chirag, its Indian author, if I could refer to it in a blog. Although there are many algorithms online I don’t think there is one that has been applied to a word-finding difficulty. It occurred to me that the number of uses for the device could well have financial rewards for the author, so advised him to protect his intellectual property.  Chirag answered that his blog and algorithms have been around for years, so not to worry.


Developer: Chirag Mehta, 22 Sep. 2007 (Last update: 19 Oct. 2008) This text, algorithm, and design is copyrighted to Chirag Mehta, 2001.


Some of you are going to say that going blank when you’re about to say a particular word is something that happens to you. If so, you’ll know how depowered you feel, embarrassed and confused at the word’s ‘disappearance’. Suppose it happened to you every day, every conversation? Suppose it happened when you were in the middle of giving a lecture or a presentation? Everyone’s nightmare.

 This is broadly what Chirag’s algorithm does, but do go to his site and try it for yourself. ( Or you can get it as an app.  Tip of my tongue – iPad/iPhone App

On accessing the page you’ll find you have a number of options to prompt you to finding your word.

Partial Word  ( type in what you can remember of word)

Starts with Contains Ends with (type in first/last letter)

Letters Unscramble          (type letters you remember in any order)

Must have  (letter(s) you are certain of)

Can’t have (letter(s) you know it has not

Word Meaning Word 1 Word 2 Word 3 Refine search

Min. length —– Max. length ——

Sounds like   (homonym)

The above is only an indication (not a proper copy of the table) of what you will find on this particular page of Chirag’s extensive blog. Let’s say you’ve gone blank on hydrangea. You can’t remember its first or its last letter, but you do remember it has a y. You type into the box of Letters, (must have) y You then type in flower under Word meaning or ranger under Sounds like.  Even if you can only remember that it has a y and is more than 5 letters long, each piece of information you can give gets you nearer to the word you want.

Whether you are in the lucky majority who have no word-finding difficulty, or in the minority who do, think of a word and try this out. I found that it worked every time. Care homes, speech and language therapy centres, special schools, rehabilitation hospitals (brain injury), dementia clinics: all of these could benefit from using this table.

Congratulations, Chirag, for devising something that could help millions of sufferers. But Writers – take note. You can use this algorithm for word suggestions when the word you formerly used was hackneyed or over-used in your text. ps Chirag has other great posts too. I loved the word cloud for presidential speeches and the colour naming. Glad to have found this talented IT guru/blogger (who also writes and has artistic skills).

Authors’ stimuli: preparing for that blank moment

PERFUME                                 SMELL                            STINK



In a previous post I suggested that, at the point of urgently scribbling down that new idea, it may be worth exploring what actually prompted it.

The power of olfactory stimuli in activating memory is well known. I believe it is much harder to ‘dream up’ an olfactory experience than a visual or auditory memory that might affect the character in your story. For  a visual stimulus we have Art to display ideas, perspectives, narratives, symbols.  We have Theatre and Radio to present ideas and emotions through sound patterns, speech or music.  snuff_opt

There is no equivalent for smells. The writer may sit, pen raised, summoning up exactly the right sound or sight to cause his hero to pale with emotion, and the reader to imagine this accordingly. Far more difficult to write more than ‘the smell/scent/perfume/stink of’ (whatever) caused the emotional impact. How much of a struggle to work out what might have been recorded in long term memory.


It might be a good idea to be prepared for that blank moment. Perhaps the answer is to note down your own strong reactions to any smell, pleasant or unpleasant, listing the source for each but avoid the obvious like dog poo. For instance, the whiff of musty clothes in a charity shop reminds Kara of a down-at-heel great aunt; the scent of aloe vera takes Anna back to the birth of her baby but reminds Dan of a little lane in Almeria where he was set on by teenage thugs.



With such a list of smells, you can google them to add any interesting facts to their source and the memories they evoke for you. Easier then to strengthen your writing with that detail that enthralls readers and brings them right into your story.

Literary competitions


Short Story competitions


I think winning stories have to capture the heart as well as the attention of the judges. I’ve rarely read a winning story without feeling I know why it was chosen. Usually the setting is striking, the structure is very satisfying, the ending unexpected and the main character convincing. I’m saying nothing out of the ordinary, I know, but it’s as well to have these features of winning stories in the back of your mind as you start to write yours. Some writers give up competitions at the first or second failure to get on the shortlist.

However, some rehash their stories or even leave them as they are and keep submitting them to different competitions, on the basis that ‘liking’ a story and finding it surpasses other good entries is very subjective.  

I reviewed one winner, Anne Corlett, on a previous post (See Review: H.E.Bates winner)  Her story is well worth reading for that structure, setting, believable character (s), and unexpected ending, a thoroughly satisfying read. 

It is not always previous competition winners or successful journalists turning to fiction who win. There have been some notable first timers who have run the contestants out of the ground. The main thing is to have a go. The writing towards winning is good practice, and you can regard it as just that. Robert the Bruce would have been entering every competition until chosen, egged on by his spider. So, try, try, try again if you haven’t been successful so far.

These competitions have April deadlines.


11 April — Litro magazine Theme: Augmented Reality Max. length: 3,000 words
26 April — Felixstowe Book Festival Short Story Competition Theme of Conflict 
30 April — 13th International Short Story Conference Story Contest fee: €10 (theme: The Braids of Identity) 
30 April — The Bristol prize   any subject. Max. length 4,000 words
30 April — E.M. Koeppel Short Fiction Contest 
30 April – Fiction Uncovered 2014 
30 April — Tom Howard/John H. Reid Fiction & Essay Contest 
The more entrants, the more money to finance the next competition. Let me know if you are one of the short-listed or even better.