About Me

My photo
I'm a 68-year-old disabled amateur writer living and working in Slough in Berkshire in the UK. I began writing in 1996 after having to retire from my career in the National Health Service due to heart disease. I've had a series of heart attacks and two heart bypass operations. Between 1996 and 2010, I contributed regularly to several UK leisure and lifestyle magazines. Many of these articles can be downloaded from the 'ARCHIVE' section of my website. I've also contributed to some television programmes. I'm a member of the 'Slough Writers Group' which is both interesting and informative. At the moment I'm preparing to start writing factual features for magazines. You can see the articles that have been published in the 'LATEST WORK' section of my website.

Saturday 9 December 2023

Fab Friday

It's been a busy day today. I've been coming up with ideas.

If I get funding for my 'National Centre for Writing' course 'Creative non-fiction', the 'blurb' says 'For the final module, you will pull together everything you’ve learned to produce a 1,500-word piece of non-fiction on a topic of your choice.'

I've already been thinking of a topic, and I'd like to explore 'autism' and other mental health issues (and how they affect my good friend Bodie Best). Even if I'm not able to get on the course, I'd nevertheless like to write it (as a magazine article). Bodie is such an interesting person.

I've also put a few ideas to Beverley Cuddy, the editor of 'Dogs Today' magazine. Here are the ones that were accepted:


·        1) Narrowboat Dog – A dog and their owner who lives aboard narrowboats.

·        2) Urban Dog – A dog and their owners who live in towns or cities. What additional challenges and/or joys do they face?

·        3) Long-distance 'trucker' dog. – A dog that travels in the cab of big trucks with their owners (day and/or overnight).

·        4) Commuting Dog – A dog that travels to and from their owner's place of work (by car, bus, or train)

·        5) Dog at owner's workplace – A dog that spends their days (and/or nights) with their owner at their place of work. Office/Building site/factory etc.

That's all for today. Plenty to be getting on with!

Thursday 7 December 2023

Smartphone entry

 I'm writing this on my smartphone to see if it works.

I've enrolled on the course 'Creative writing non-fiction articles' with the 'National Centre for Writing' at the 'University of East Anglia'. It starts in February and lasts for 12 weeks. At least 5 hours a week. 

Today I've been researching possible sources for funding. £475. Fingers crossed! 

Wednesday 6 December 2023

Website Wednesday

I've spent today, tweaking, redesigning, editing, and uploading my revised website. I've added the 'OTHER STUFF' and 'LINKS' sections which have been redesigned.

I've also added my inclusion statement as it's 'National Inclusion Week':-

"I aim to create a safe and welcoming atmosphere for everyone. I want to challenge all forms of oppression including those based on race, ethnicity, nationality, creed, gender, sex, class, sexuality, gender reassignment, learning ability, physical impairment, mental illness, HIV status, age, occupation, income, wealth and unrelated criminal conviction. I aim to design my activities, services, and decision-making processes specifically to encourage and support participation from people who face disadvantage in society, including women, BME people, disabled people, LGBTQ+ people, and people on low incomes."

I've also included links and logos for 'Society of Authors' and 'Gay Authors Workshop'.

I'm quite pleased with it. I don't use any software to build/edit my website. I write it myself in raw HTML. i think there's a bit more tweaking needed but, like my writing, I need to leave it alone for a couple of days and come back to it with fresh eyes at the weekend.

I read a new book this afternoon: '50 things to know about writing non-fiction articles for magazines'. Although It didn't take too long to read, it's a really good book.

I'm going to leave it at that for today. I'm now going to settle down and watch some c**p television.

Monday 4 December 2023

Busy beginning!

It's been quite a busy beginning to the week. I thought I'd got a CityLit session tonight so I cancelled my visit to Slough Writers Group. So I told Mark (my friend, group member, and 'chauffeur') that he needn't pick me up, but he couldn't go either; problem solved. I'm still not allowed to drive myself, so I can only go when Mark's able to give me a lift. The irony is, that there's no CityLit session this evening after all!
I've been sorting out my 'virtual' office (i.e. the laptop and PC's desktop). They really were a 'virtual' mess! I've also been filing my CityLit paper documents (complete with my handwritten scribbles!) I tidied up my email signature text and graphics.
It's the last session of my CityLit 'Writing for Magazines' course tomorrow night. I've completed this week's assignment but couldn't complete the session where we were supposed to write about food. I read (as we were encouraged to do) examples of food writing in a range of magazines, which I did, but it didn't help! I'm obviously not cut out to be a food writer.
I did some work on my website content. In my last 'edit' of it, I left off two sections: 'OTHER STUFF' and 'LINKS'. I'm planning on reinstating them, but not until I've tightened and tidied them up. I'm planning to do them on Wednesday and/or Thursday.
My leg's really bad today. I've used the last of my morphine this morning, but am expecting another bottle to be delivered tomorrow, so until then, I'm going to lie here in pain.
I've got nothing I really want to do for the rest of the day so, at the end of the next sentence, I'm going to 'log-off', have something to eat and drink, and watch TV.

Saturday 2 December 2023

Society of Authors

Yesterday, I became a member of the Society of Authors at https://www.societyofauthors.org

Empowering authors since 1884.

The SoA is the UK’s largest trade union for all types of writers, illustrators, and literary translators, at all stages of their careers. We have been advising individuals and speaking out for the profession for more than a century.

'Our aim is that individuals of every background, age, location, career stage, and professional focus should have equal access to the opportunities, knowledge, support, and community they need while working across industries and in creative spaces where they are genuinely valued and rewarded for what they do.'


Here are the results of yesterday's research for 'Slough Writers' Group:-

 A selection of forthcoming Writing Competitions


Elmbridge Literary Competition 2024


Entry Fee: Adults: £5, Under 18s: free

Prizes: Adults: 1st Place: £250; 2nd: £150; 3rd: £100; Under 18s: £10-£35 in book tokens

Word Limit: Varies

Category: Short Story Competitions/Poetry Competitions

Competition Website:  www.rcsherrifftrust.org.uk/elmbridge-literary-competition/


Bridport Prize – Short Story

DEADLINE: 23.59 (UK TIME) ON 31 MAY 2024

Entry Fee: £14 per entry

Prizes: First prize: £5,000; second prize: £1,000; third prize: £500; highly commended: 10 x £100

Word Limit: 5,000 words (no minimum, title not included in the word count)

Judge: Wendy Erskine

Category: Short Story Competitions

Competition Website: www.bridportprize.org.uk/the-competition/short-story


Bridport Prize – Flash Fiction

DEADLINE: 23.59 (UK TIME) ON 31 MAY 2024

Entry Fee: £11 per entry

Prizes: First prize: £1,000; second prize: £500; third prize: £250; highly commended: 5 x £100

Word Limit: 250 words (no minimum, title not included in the word count)

Judge: Jasmine Sawers

Category: Short Story Competitions

Competition Website: www.bridportprize.org.uk/the-competition/short-story


Oxford Flash Fiction Prize 2024

Write yourself into history and become one of the greats with the Oxford Flash Fiction Prize!

Deadline: 31 January 2024

Word Count: 1000 words / Font: Arial 12pt, single spaced word document or PDF.

Entry Fee: £7 for one flash fiction / £11 for two flash fictions / £15 for three flash / £35 critiques

Prizes: 1st Prize: £1000 – New Voice Prize: £200 – 2nd Prize: £200 – 3rd Prize: £100

*Shortlisted entrants will be offered publication in our end of year anthology.

For further information and how to apply, please visit their website: https://oxfordflashfictionprize.com/


FFF Competition Nineteen


Deadline: 10 pm (UK time) Saturday 23rd December 2023

Entry Fee: £3.80 per entry (PayPal/Stripe) or £2.30 per entry via BSC (UK bank account)

Prizes: Winner: £150.00; 2x Highly Commended: £30.00; 2x Shortlisted: £20.00 (all winners will receive publication)

Word Limit: 300 (excluding title), minimum 100

Judge: S. A. Greene (winner of Competition Eighteen)

Category: Flash Fiction Competitions

Competition Website: www.freeflashfiction.com/current-competition


Henshaw Press Short Story Competition


Entry Fee: £6 per entry

Prizes: First prize: £200; second prize: £150; third prize: £50

Word Limit: 2,000 words

Judge: Four published authors / creative writing academics

Category: Short Story Competitions

Competition Website:  www.henshawpress.co.uk


Writers' & Artists' Short Story Competition 2024

Deadline date 12th February 2024

Enter our free annual short story competition and be in with a chance of winning a place on an Arvon Residential Writing Week (worth £850) as well as seeing your story published on our site. To enter, all you have to do is submit a short story (for adults) of no more than 2,000 words on the theme of risk via our online competition form, and ensure that you have a (free!) account on our website.



 Useful Writing Links (in no particular order)


New Writers



National Centre for Writing



Writers Guild of Great Britain (WGGB)



Creative Future Writers






National Association of Writers and Groups (NAWG)



National Centre for Writing



Writers Digest



Society of Authors



Writers & Artists Yearbook



New Writing South



Shape Arts (for writers with disabilities)



Urban Writers Retreat



Royal Society of Literature






BBC Writers Room



The Writers' Greenhouse


Quite a list!

Finally, it's Friday

So we've survived the week and made it through to Friday 1st December (World Aids Day).

I've been researching various outlets for some of my newest articles.

I also researched some competitions and links for my writers' group 'Slough Writers'.

Wednesday 29 November 2023

Wednesday's Wanderings

It's a strange day today. I've sent a couple of 'pitches' about the 'Station Jim' project to a couple of magazines.

I'm 'clocking off' now and going to take Lottie out in the garden before tidying up and watch television for the evening. I may come back and do some 'work and play' on the laptop.

Watch this space!

Tuesday 28 November 2023

Tuesday thoughts

I didn't go to my Slough Writers group last night - my leg's been playing up. I had been making good progress and had gotten as far as being able to walk around the flat, patio, and communal garden without the assistance of a walking stick But over the past few days, I've taken a backward step (forgive the pun!) of having to use said walking stick.

Later, I sorted through my latest emails. Many of them were a load of c**p, but of those that weren't, I actioned (where it was needed).

I receive over 200 emails a day. I even get them after I've clicked the 'unsubscribe' link!

I've been asked why I keep a blog? It's because it keeps me in touch with people who actually want to read my thoughts and activities. And it makes it easy for me to keep abreast of any special issues that I would like to keep those in my 'contacts' lists up to date with.

Finally, I've started to research and collecting potential sources for my 'Volunteering with your dog' feature scheduled for publication in the July 2024 edition of 'Dogs Today' magazine.

Have a good week my friends.

Monday 27 November 2023

Sunday thoughts

 I'ts been a mixture of sorting and storing various tasks today:

I've been:-

  • Catching up on all my unanswered email messages, (and deleting those that are 'spam' - Why does anyone think that I need a box set of lipsticks in various shades?)
  • Collecting and collating material for the Slough Writers latest project 'Station Jim'.
  • Contesting a parking ticket (for parking in my own reserved 'Disabled Parking' space).
  • Writing this blog before I 'log-off' and retire for the evening and start watching s**t television.

So I'll 'speak' again soon.


Saturday 25 November 2023

Weekends Wonderings and Wanderings.

Hi. Sorry about the day delays. I haven't posted anything since Wednesday morning.

Tuesday evening's class was interesting. We studied shape, structure, and interview skills. Since my health deteriorated, I now mainly conduct my interviews, not in a face-to-face format, but over the telephone or via email. I now find that email techniques are my favoured. Please find this example from my Tuesday evening class Copyright © CityLit 2023 & Mark Starkey.

Interviewing Techniques - Strategy:

 Do your research. Pull out anything they have said before or any

interviews they have done

 Choose your location – it is important both to set the tone and for

your writing

 A good interview is a combination of apparent spontaneity and

responsiveness, good research and searching questions

 Plan your strategy carefully. Start with the easy questions first to

get them talking about themselves. Make the interviewee feel

special - strategy, ammunition and weapons are the key to

successkeys to success.

 Listen, engage, interact and make eye contact

 Body language is useful – mirror, pace, lead

 Do not read off a list of questions but allow the interview to flow

 Tick off what has been answered on your list so that you know to

come back to questions later

 Allow for reflection – in doing so your interviewee will feel more

relaxed and engaged

 Ensure your questions illustrate your knowledge about them or

who they represent

 Leave a door open – for contact afterward in case there are further



Here's an example of a recent interview conducted by me via email: (questions in black, responses in red)

Dear (editors name),

1)    How many dog(s) do you have?

1 Dog

2)    What are their names, gender, breed and ages?

Rosco, Male, CockerPoo, 3 years 6 months

3)    Is/are your dog(s) a pedigree or crossbreed?

Cross bread (Poodle/Cocker Spaniel)

4)    How long have you owned your dog(s)?

Since he was 8 weeks old

5)    What activities do you do with your dog(s)? e.g. Walking, running, ball games, dog shows, taking your dog to work etc.

Mostly walking, no shows, he comes to work once a week as I now don’t work from home.

6)    What makes your dog happy?

Being around people and other dogs, he is very social and affectionate.

7)    What does your dog do to make you happy?

Rosco is always there, he gives us as much love and attention as we give him. He snuggles when we feel sad. He knows when we are getting stressed and sits with us all day if needed, just stroking his back, head and belly gives us some much-needed mental release as we feel instantly happier in his presence. He is always happy to see us as we are him. Walking him gives us purpose and meaning for exercise. He is a good dog, a great dog, and we love him.

Great responses, but this doesn't always work. Interviewees can either forget (follow up with a gentle reminder) or just choose not to reply. The above example was sent out to eight recipients, but only four responded, answering all/most of my questions. As mentioned earlier, interviews can also be conducted via telephone or face to face.

You can read a (rough) article 'Writing for Magazines' written by me which you can download by clicking here.

That's all for now - tomorrow I'll cover recording and transcribing your interview(s) - so you've probably had enough by now - back to my homepage.

Tuesday 21 November 2023

Tuesday's thoughts - Handy hyperlinks

I've started adding hyperlinks in the text to enable you to find further information.

Yesterday, I reviewed my research material and gathered the interview material ready for writing my article 'Does owning a dog make you happy?'.

I received a copy of a second-hand book 'Get your articles published' for £3. It's in good condition and an excellent book available from Amazon.

Last night, I went along to my writers' group. It was a manuscript evening and quite a few members read out their manuscripts, including me. I read out 'Newfs in Action' and received mainly good comments from members.

Today, I've been finishing writing and editing 'Does owning a dog make you happy?'. I've been sent some images by my interviewees. I've sent off all the material to the editor of 'Dogs Today' magazine.

This evening, I've got my online CityLit class 'Writing for Magazines'. Tonight is week four of six and I'm getting a lot out of it.

I hope you find the hyperlinks handy.

Sunday 19 November 2023

Sunday snippets

I'm continuing to research material for my Dogs Today feature 'Does your dog make you happy?' Surprisingly perhaps, there's a lot of stuff out there. I'm also waiting for more responses to my questions.

Does your dog make you happy? Tell me how your dog makes you smile or chuckle and anything else you can think of. Email me at sloughwriter@gmail.com

Saturday 18 November 2023

Studying Saturday

Today I've done quite a few different things:

  • Sent reminders to the people I'd sent 'Does your dog make you happy?' questions to - and added a couple more to the list.
  • Searched for academic papers on 'dogs/pets and happiness'. There were quite a few.
  • Sent emails to some dog food suppliers and dog-related organisations asking them for any relevant press releases. I also asked to go on their mailing lists.

I'm now going to skim-read a couple of the documents that I've downloaded and retire at 17:30.

Friday 17 November 2023

Funny Friday

It's been a bit of a funny day today. A couple of books that I'd ordered from Amazon arrived today. But I'd never have known that they'd arrived until I got an email from Amazon telling me that they'd been delivered. The courier had left them on the floor outside our flat door. 

I may have already mentioned it but I've graduated to being able to take a few slow short steps without the aid of a walking stick. I'm getting there! I'm just hoping that I won't be left with a limp.
Another thing I think that I haven't already mentioned is that on Monday I finally got to go back to attending the evening at my writing group, Slough Writers. It's the first time that I've been able to attend since early July. I really enjoyed it and it was great to be back amongst other writers. I'm indebted to Mark who kindly gave me a lift as I'm not allowed to drive for the time being.

So far today, I've been reviewing my notes for my article 'Does owning a dog make you happy?'. I've also been leafing through a couple of books about writing articles for magazines.

That's all for now. Watch this space!

Wednesday 15 November 2023

Wednesdays Wonderings

It was a good evening at my CityLit online course. Firstly, we shared our assignments from last week. Only three of us had completed our 'pitch' to editors. I got good feedback and the tutor Susan Grossman asked me if she could use mine as an example to students on other courses.
We were shown how to get the most out of 'X' (Twitter). I find it very difficult to understand. The first part of our assignment this week was to study 'X'.

Finally, we were introduced to writing a column and shown an example. The second part of our assignment was to write a couple of paragraphs of a column. I wrote and submitted mine this morning.

Here it is:

Bah! Humbug!

I seem to remember that, when I was young, that Christmas celebrations started in mid to late December. However now, it seems to me, festivities begin as soon as early November!

According to ‘The Guardian’: “Residents of Denbigh took to their community’s Facebook page, Town Talk, to largely complain, Grinch-like, that Christmas had come too early.” One angry local wrote: “Much too soon, there should be a date set across the country before any store can put Xmas items out.” Some said they could just about cope with Halloween stock being out – but not Christmas items.

‘The Telegraph’ claims that: “Christmas comes early as shoppers buy festive food and drink in October.” October indeed! Bah! Humbug!

Tuesday 14 November 2023

Tuesdays Thoughts

Today, I've sent some emails to some dog-owning friends of mine.  Please feel free to 'cut and paste' it into the body of an email and email your answers to me here at sloughwriter@gmail.com.

Here it is:-


I’m working on an article ‘Does your dog make you happy?’ for ‘Dogs Today’ magazine. It will be published in March 2024 to coincide with ‘International Happiness Day 2024’.

As part of my research, I’m talking to dog owners about their relationship with their dogs.

I’d be grateful if you’d take a few minutes to complete these questions and email them back to me. You don’t need to adhere strictly to the questions. For example, if you prefer, write me a story.

Also, I’d love to include a ‘happy’ photograph of you or your family with your dog(s) if possible. Please send it as a high-resolution jpg

Here goes: -

  • 1)    How many dog(s) do you have?
  • 2)    What are their names, gender, breed and ages?
  • 3)    Is/are your dog(s) a pedigree or crossbreed?
  • 4)    How long have you owned your dog(s)?
  • 5)    What activities do you do with your dog(s)? e.g. Walking, running, ball games, dog shows, taking your dog to work etc.
  • 6)    What makes your dog happy?
  • 7)    What does your dog do to make you happy?

Please tell me, in your own words, all about the things that make you smile, laugh, chuckle etc. In short, how does your dog(s) make you happy?


I've edited and partly rewritten 'Best's Friends' and submitted it to 'Asylum magazine'.

It's CityLit night tonight. I'm looking forward to it. I completed the assignment (write a 'pitch' to an editor) a few days ago.

Sunday 12 November 2023

Sunday Summary

Haven't really done very much so far today. I'm still not feeling that great. Lottie's barking her head off - telling the fireworks off. I think it's Diwali tonight, so am expecting more later.

I've been posting the following message on social media: "Hi. I may have posted this before, but here goes! I'm writing a feature 'Does owning a dog make you happy?' for 'Dogs Today Magazine'. Do you own a dog that makes you smile, laugh, or just plain happy? If so, I'd love to hear from you. Tell me where in the UK you live, and the breed, gender, and age of your dog. What does he/she do that gives you that warm feeling inside? Have you got a high-resolution photograph of your happy dog? Please get in touch by messaging me here or sending me an email at sloughwriter@gmail.com" I've added this image of a happy dog at Christmas!

I've also looked-up and copied the entry in the 2024 edition of 'Writers & Artists Yearbook' for Nazalee who wants to submit an article on Caroline Hershel to 'History Today Magazine'.

Saturday 11 November 2023

Day Off!

I'm not feeling very well today so not doing anything but reviewing my 'Happiness and Dogs' notes.

Friday 10 November 2023

Good News!

 I'm chuffed and chilled. I've just had an email from the editor of 'Dogs Today magazine' who has commissioned my article 'Is life happier with a dog?' to coincide with the International Day of Happiness – Wednesday 20th March 2024.

Do you have a dog that makes you happier? Send me an email and photo and tell me all about your relationship with your dog. sloughwriter@gmail.com

Administration Day

No 'writing' today. It's a day for attending to all the 'admin' stuff. I need to sort out my files and I also have an invoice to create. I have hundreds of pdf and doc files that need to be organized into some sort of sense. I don't really know where to start.

I've also got to find:

  • Samples of 'pitches' to editors.
  • Academic papers on 'happiness' that owning a dog can bring.

I've been listening to 'audio books' on 'Organisation for Writers' and 'Productivity for Authors'.

Yesterday I found the 'media pack' for 'Dogs Today' magazine. It's a bit dated (2017) but nevertheless useful. Previously the only 'media pack' that I'd found was for 'Attitude' magazine. We are encouraged in my class to study media packs and I've found them quite useful.

I want to send this article to 'Psychology Now' magazine, but I can't find anything on the net. I really need to study it and find out an email address for the editor and I think that the only way is going to be to buy at least one copy. But the main sticking point is that each copy costs £13.99 which at the moment I can't afford so it's going to have to wait. It's just occurred to me that it might be listed in the 2024 editions of the 'Writers & Artists Yearbook' and/or the 'Writers Handbook'. Watch this space!

My leg is worse today. It's really painful when I walk and my limp is pronounced. It occurred to me yesterday that I may be left with a limp and difficulty walking. I hope not.

Thursday 9 November 2023

Week 2 Assignment - Completed Pitch

 Is life happier with a dog?

Dogs are more than just cuddly companions. Time magazine reports that ‘Owning a Dog Is Really Good for You.’ Moreover, research shows that dogs have many positive effects on the health and quality of life of their owners. Amongst other benefits, owning a dog decreases levels of cortisol (a stress-related hormone) and lowers blood pressure.

Research from The Kennel Club shows that stroking a dog is the top choice for stress relief. Two thirds of dog owners choose to cuddle or stroke a dog as their first port of call for comfort. Half also believe walking their dog improves their mood and well-being.

This article examines the value of owning a dog on the happiness levels of the owner. It is ideally suited for publication in the March edition of ‘Dogs Today’ magazine to coincide with the International Day of Happiness – Wednesday 20th March 2024. I propose a length of around 1000 words.

Research reveals that dog owners are turning to their four-legged-friends to help with feelings of stress and sadness and shows that dogs have provided a vital source of comfort to their owners, with more than two thirds claiming that stroking or cuddling a dog would be their first port of call when feeling stressed or down.

·         People with dogs have lower blood pressure in stressful situations than those without. One study even found that when people with borderline hypertension adopted dogs from a shelter, their blood pressure declined significantly within five months.

·         Playing with a dog, can elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine, which calm and relax.

·         Dog owners have lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels (indicators of heart disease) than those without dogs.

The article would also include interviews with dog owners/lovers explaining their own experiences of how their own happiness is brought about by owning their dog(s).

I have written a number of articles about dogs, for ‘Dogs Today’ and ‘Mad About Dogs’ magazines. As a dog lover myself I am confident that this article would appeal to your readers.

Examples of my recent dog related articles can be found here:

·         http://www.richardhill.co.uk/teameliot.pdf

·         http://www.richardhill.co.uk/newfsinaction.pdf

I would be grateful if you would consider accepting this proposal for publication in your magazine.

Wednesday 8 November 2023

CityLit - Week 2 Assignment

CityLit - Writing for Magazines - Week 2

Week 2 - 'Classroom'

For the 'live' session this Tuesday evening (17:30 - 19:30), we shared ideas and information on the magazine(s) that each one of us would like to write for. We were divided into 'breakout' groups to discuss each other's magazine(s) in more detail.

Week 2 Assignment

This week, our assignment is to write a 'pitch' to the magazine editor of our choice. This is a pitch for our 'idea' for a feature article for this magazine(s).

My idea is about the happiness that owning a dog can bring to its owner.

I plan to write this article for two publications: 'Dogs Today' and 'Psychology Today' magazines.

Today, I've been researching academic papers and research into (the science of) happiness and owning a dog. I've also been saving some papers/documents and websites for later use.

At some point, I think I'm going to need to interview some dog owners about the happiness that their dog(s) bring to them. My proposed interviewees will be:

  • Janet and her three dogs.
  • Mark and his dog Rosco.
  • Bodie and his two 'assistance' dogs Curly and Rex.

I plan to edit my 'pitch' tomorrow.

Tuesday 7 November 2023

Liquid History

 I've gone 'international'. I've just uploaded my latest article, which will be published in the December edition of Boating New Zealand magazine. Check it out at http://www.richardhill.co.uk/ttbfbnz.pdf

Friday 3 November 2023

New studies 'Writing for Magazines. CityLit University

Last Tuesday, 31st October, I began a 6-week course with CityLit University 'Writing for Magazines'. Before it started, I was feeling both apprehensive and enthusiastic, but it turned out to be really enjoyable. The course itself runs on Google Classrooms and the online session on a Tuesday evening (17:30 - 19:30) runs on Zoom. The course is hosted by Susan Grossman. There were a total of 16 students participating.

In the first online session, we debated and discussed our personal goals and ambitions in terms of writing for magazines. Later, we were split into groups of four and encouraged to share our past experiences in terms of having had work published and relay our ambitions and aspirations which were wide and varied. Some students had seen work already published while others were yet to get into print.

Our task(s) for this week is to study examples of magazine articles and features.

Thursday 26 October 2023

Late again!


I'm delighted to tell you that I've been commissioned to write a 3-part magazine series about a (gifted and perhaps idiosyncratic and eccentric) 'Pet Detective'.

The lovely thing for me is that the magazine editor approached me in the first instance (as opposed to me having to approach the editor with a 'brief' and 'outline').

I start from the position of knowing very little about the person as it's a multi-faceted type of subject.

Take for example 'pet theft'. On the one hand, it might be about pets who steal (and hide) valuable objects, and on the other valuable pets that have been stolen themselves.

Obviously, there's much, much more to this subject. The first is to find 4,500 words to meet the brief! Thankfully there's no strict deadline so watch this space!


It's a week (give or take a couple of hours) until I begin my CityLit course on 'Writing for Magazines'.

How am I feeling? I'm excited, eager, and enthusiastic. Anxious, and apprehensive.

I've been re-reading the books I already have about writing non-fiction articles and short stories, as well as books on 'Writing for Magazines'. I've also been reading on 'Organisation for Writers'; and 'Productivity for Writers' - some are better than others. In a few days time, if I get the time and don't procrastinate, I'll make an amazon list for you.

Anyway, all for now,


Sunday 15 October 2023

Know about what you write.

 A few years ago I wrote an online paper entitled 'Know about what you write'. This deliberately turns the old adage: 'Write about what you know' around to read 'Know about what you write'. Journalists have to do this all the time. A journalist one day may be required to write an article about 'Electric Cars' and directly afterward be expected to write about aspects of people living with 'Learning difficulties'. He or she may never before had to write about these subjects, yet have to, knowlegeably, write about them.

Find out more about these skills based on my own experience, by clicking here.

Sunday 15th October 2023 PM

 Hi Writers. I just wanted to bring you 'up to speed' with my progress since I went back to writing non-fiction features for magazines.

First of all I 'brainstormed' for ideas to write about and magazines that would consider submissions from a 'new' freelance writer. I got my ideas by

A) Studying magazines on the shelves of WH Smiths and purchasing a copy of the mags that I thought I could write for.

B) Studying magazines listed in the 2024 editions of 'Writers & Artists Yearbook' (£30 approx) and 'The Writers Handbook' (£20 approx)'.

I compared the listings and found a few 'matches'. There was 'Able' magazine for readers with an interest in disability (physical or mental). Earlier, I'd made contact with 18-year-old Eliot who lived with with autism and other mental health conditions. He was supported by two 'Assistance' dogs. This, I thought, would make a good article for 'Able' magazine. I further realized that it would make a good article for a 'dog' magazine and after some research, it was also accepted by Dogs Today magazine.

 More research led me to displays that were going to be exhibited at Gatton Park Country Fair near Reigate. Called 'Newfs in Action' this group displayed and trained Newfoundland dogs rescuing people drowning. I contacted the display organizer and the editor of 'Dogs Today' and both said yes to an illustrated feature for their respective magazines.

In August and September, the articles appeared 'in print'. Seeing the magazines to which you've contributed on the shelves of WH Smiths and other stationers, gives a great feeling of satisfaction. A great buzz. It's also a fantastic feeling to know that YOUR ARTICLE will be read by approximately 100,000 people.