Golden Rules For Being A Writer And Dreaming The First Draft

Joseph Clark of The First Footsteps of Poetry wanted to share these tips from his blog with the readers at The Craft of Writing Fiction. Then I read Anne Fortier’s guest post from Writer’s Digest about her Golden Rules of Being a Writer and thought these little “rules” are a great idea. After you’ve read Joseph’s post, please take a moment to share your own “Golden Rules” in the comments.

Dreaming up that first draft requires a lot of time, and the patience of a saint. We all have a real life outside of our imagination; if we could combine the two, there wouldn’t be a straight line in sight across the globe. To be a writer, having an over active imagination is an obvious must, but it is only one of the many traits a good scholar needs in his or her arsenal.

It becomes increasingly evident that good parents also make good writers, as long as the first need is met. Parenting is about having the patience of a saint, so is shaping and editing any piece of work, or even waiting for the idea. It’s been known for weeks or even months before that golden idea will hit. So always keep up with your real life because you never know when your fictional one will want to sweep you away.

How to bring your first draft into existence

  • Poetry:
  • Build up a firm understanding of poetry in general
  • Experiment with poetical devices and forms
  • Imagery, symbolism and other theories, familiarise yourself with them!
  • never forget, the meter is almost more important than the words
  • Novel writing:
  • You can’t fluke it, you need to know what you’re doing
  • Set the scene, it must be as vivid for the reader as it is for you
  • Live in the world yourself, know about it and make all the notes you can
  • Keep your paragraphs in line, let the reader breathe.

My Golden Rules of Being a Writer

I’ll end these tips with my five golden rules for being a writer:

  1. No research is ever wasted, know your topic
  2. No such thing as bad criticism when it’s constructive
  3. Not everything has to have a deeper meaning, some like simplicity
  4. Patience, it always comes to you when you relax
  5. Even writers need down time, it means you can work all that bit harder.

With this very short, but hopefully helpful bundle of words, I hope to have guided or inspired someone out there to succeed at what I’ve devoted most of my life to already. Happy writing!

What are your own Golden Rules of Being a Writer?

Horror, Fantasy, And Science Fiction Editor From The Absent Willow Review

The Absent Willow Review: Tales of Horror, Fantasy, & Science Fiction

Do you write horror, fantasy, or science fiction?

What about a combination of all three? If you’re looking for publication in these genres than this interview is for you. I was lucky enough to snag a few minutes at the desk of horror, fantasy, and science fiction editor, Rick DeCost who was happy to answer some of my questions about The Absent Willow Review. The Absent Willow Review is a Rochester-based business founded two years ago by long time friends, Rick DeCost and Bob Griffin.

“Our main goal is to revive the short fiction market for this genre,” Rick told Fosters Daily columnist, Conor Makem. “When we were young, there were a few big names out there and some have slipped into oblivion. The markets for short works of horror, fantasy and sci-fi are slim, yet the interest is growing.”

Let’s find out more about The Absent Willow Review and the job of an editor from Rick.

Rebecca: The Absent Willow Review has been publishing stories online each month since October 2008. How did the magazine come to life and what inspired its creation?

Rick: Being fans of the genre we saw that the market had shrunk somewhat over the past few years. This was our way to provide another means for beginning, and established, writers to get their works out there. It’s been a real labor of love.

Rebecca: It sounds a little like The Craft of Writing Fiction which is my own labor of love. It’s wonderful to see others out there who want to create opportunities for fellow writers. The switch from writer to editor can be tricky. How did you begin as an editor and how have you honed your skills over the years?

Rick: It’s like anything else – the more you do it the better one gets.

The first few months after the magazine’s launch was a real baptism by fire when it came to honing our editorial skills. It’s now second nature when it comes to spotting the gem in the slush pile. Pulling together the stories and editing our first anthology was a wonderful experience and went a long way in further improving our skills.

Rebecca: What kind of work goes into editing an online publication?

Rick: It is actually more work than one would think. Aside from the day-to-day server activities, we are constantly uploaded new images and
editing them for presentation. On top of that, and more importantly, is editing accepted submission for publication. This includes the normal editing activates any editor must face as well as the efforts entailed in formatting for the website.

Rebecca: The internet has created all sorts of new headaches along with the opportunities for publishers. I know I face similar issues with The Craft of Writing Fiction but there is a real joy in the work too. Online Publishing is a difficult field to become established within. Many companies fall apart within months of creation. You and Bob are about to celebrate Absent Willow’s second birthday, congratulations! What advice do you have for others who might be interested in starting their own magazine?

Rick: It’s all in planning and remaining focused. Before launching the actual site there were the administrative duties that needed to be
tackled. Things like establishing the business entity, registering the domain name, purchasing hosting space, and formulating a business plan that encompassed all of the activities going forward (reading submissions, editing, site design and upkeep, as well as future plans). My biggest piece of advice would be to remain professional at all times. Especially in your interactions with authors eager to publish their work. After all, we’re really here for them.

Rebecca: Authors aren’t the only ones you’re here for. The Absent Willow Review also publishes incredible artwork contributed by a large number of talented artists. Do you accept artist submissions? What do you look for in the cover art you select for the Absent Willow Review?

Rick: We do accept artist submissions and we also actively seek out artists whose work we admire. It’s a funny thing when it comes to the artwork on the site. Although we wanted a site that was visually appealing we never expected the artwork page to enjoy the focus that it has. Art is a personal thing and we usually know immediately whether or not the piece is something we’d like to use. That being said we also try to keep good a mix of horror, sci-fi, and fantasy works in rotation.

Rebecca: With a strong horror, sci-fi, and fantasy focus it sounds like you probably read a lot of dark or complex fiction. Each month the Absent Willow Review publishes a number of new stories. What catches your eye when you’re reviewing submissions? What makes your winners stand out from the slush pile?

Rick: I really look for memorable characters. Characters are a big thing for me. I have to like the author’s voice and/or character before finishing the first page. Then there are the things such as spelling and grammar skills. When the first page is littered with spelling mistakes or run-on sentences it says a lot about the rest of the manuscript.

I also look for originality. It’s hard to be original, and I don’t mean to say that an author has to come up with something nobody has ever thought of before. That’s pretty near impossible. The one tool an author has that can set them apart is their voice and the character(s) they give life to. All in all though – it’s all about the characters. What they feel and how they react to the situation they find themselves in.

Rebecca Of the stories you’ve published, which character/s stands out most in your memory? Why do you think this character is so memorable?

Rick: Finnegan Graves (from the story of the same name) was a standout character for me. The story itself was very Tim Burton-ish and the character reflected that.

Rebecca: We recently hosted a competition about story “hooks“. How important is it that a story grips you in the first few lines? What do you think makes for compelling hooks?

Rick: It is incredibly important. As editors we can often tell within the first paragraph whether or not our readers will appreciate the work. It
doesn’t mean that stories we reject wouldn’t be good fits for another publication – it’s a very subjective business. We are fans of the genre and enjoy a good read. When you have thirty or forty manuscripts sitting in front of you it is necessary for the author to grab our attention early on. A compelling hook often entails beginning the story in the middle of the action, or perhaps putting us in an ordinary situation that
immediately has an “off” feel to it like “this seems normal but I know something is going to happen…”

Rebecca: Thanks for your time, Rick. Before we finish, is there anything I haven’t asked today that you wish I had or anything in particular you’d like to share with fellow writers?

Rick: I would like to add two bits of advice. I can’t stress these enough.

  • The first is to read. Reading enhances your skills as a writer in ways you can’t imagine.
  • The second is to never give up. As a great hockey player once said (I’m paraphrasing here),

    “You’ll never score a goal if you don’t take the shot.”

The Absent Willow Review is an online magazine that publishes short fiction, poetry, and artwork with a horror, fantasy, or science fiction edge. Check their submission guidelines and browse their published works to see if your work might be what Rick and Bob are looking for and to find out how your submission could win $50 in The Absent Willow Review Editor’s Choice Award for Published Stories.

The Absent Willow Review: Tales of Horror, Fantasy, & Science Fiction

Embracing The Changing Moments With Poetry

You Will Be Healed By The Morning Dew Of Truth ~ Poetry by Maya Angelou

“You will be healed by the morning dew of truth.” — Dr. Maya Angelou

Poetry is far more than rhythmic words—it’s a source of healing.


Poetry has been a refuge for me; from anger and sadness, from sorrow and pain, poetry has purged my from pores the darkness within. It has been a loyal friend through the lowest of lows. It carried me through the highest highs in the safety of its wings. The monumental moments of my life were shared with my poetry.


As I reflect on my relationship with poetry, I discover that I rarely write poetry when life is just coasting along. Instead, when my heart is burdened by tragedy or in bliss reaching new milestones my pen flows in flurries, in agile verse, in melodic turns and phrases. It is likes peaks and valleys that call me back to my poetic pen once again.

Perhaps that is because I don’t need to express my feelings via poetry unless they’re particularly intense. Perhaps the cup of my emotions run over and poetry becomes the overflow. It is in poems I can find release.

Heal Your Heart, Write Poetry In Your Journal


Last year, when my 28-year-old cousin was killed in a tragic car accident, I wrote a poem in her honor. It didn’t bring her back. It didn’t really even make me feel better, but I was able to unload in a familiar way. I could envelop myself in the cozy corner of my poetry and as I huddled there my emotions turned and day followed night. Is I escaped into words they brought me full circle. In the hermitage of language I learned to cope, to deal, to grieve. Poetry allowed me to find healing and move on.


I will never forget my cousin. In writing in honor of her I expressed my feelings in a rhythmic wave. The waters splashed, soothing my soul.

And it still hurts. I write through the tears and then I come back to myself and realize that I am okay.


Poetry is a lot of things to a lot of people. To me, it’s a soft place to fall. It’s a safe, warm home I can always come back to. And although I’ve never pursued poetry with passion for my writing career I find a passion for poetry deep in my soul. It is a dear friend that embraces me in the changing moments of my life.

Cherish Your Passion For Writing Poetry

My poetry may never win any awards. It may never be traditionally published. It might not be exceptional. But it is mine; uniquely, personally mine. It records the making-moments of my life. It reflects the me I am today and the me I am becoming. And that is all I need of it. That is all it needs to be.

That is what poetry is for me. What is poetry for you?

Photo Credit: Rose by Eqilshay
Photo Credit: her diary by Lusi
Photo Credit: at the campus 2 by Lusi

Random Acts of Poetry

Random Poetry: On Healthy Animal HandlingI’m a fan of random and found art, bits of beauty or composition that either happen accidentally or by a solitary, unthanked and perhaps unknowing artist. There’s also random poetry in our daily lives; spotting these lines takes some practice, but it sharpens your mind as a writer and opens your creative processes to new ideas.

When you write for a living, every word is carefully chosen, and articles, novels or stories flow in a logical line. Sometimes that line becomes a rut but you can easily jog your creativity off the beaten path with some sly wordplay.

In the continuing spirit of (Inter) National Poetry Month, here’s a few ways to spot random poetry, and a couple of uses for those found bits of word art.

1. Portable signs

These signs are found everywhere outside businesses and strip malls. Sometimes the poem writes itself, like in this recent example I found locally:

“Leather Christmas N Hollywood Brings Gourmet Mores.”

Morals and mores enjoyed by leather fans at Christmas would be an acquired taste, come to think of it. Especially in Hollywood. It’s a short little freeform that makes you think, which is the point. In the cold, real world, each word was advertising a business: the leather shop, the Christmas Store, the Hollywood memorabilia place, and the gourmet food boutique. But a harried mall owner trying to squeeze everyone in probably had no idea he was creating a lovely little line of poetic whimsy.

2. Television listings

I have satellite TV, complete with an online guide to tell me what’s coming up next on each channel. If you read some of these listings together, it’s great, dramatic stuff:

“Desperate Housewives
‘Til Lies Do Us Part
The Chocolate Soldier Tales
From the Darkside; Bridezillas Shimmy
[as] Gilad’s Bodies
in Motion [up] One Tree Hill
Beyond the Steps [and] The Spaces Inbetween.”

I’ve added an occasional word in parentheses to connect some titles, but the meat of the tiny, lyrical meal is right there, randomly stacked on top of one another.

3. Spam

“My lips kiss you
like giraffes in the city
please her
with larger members
of the church
the word is to be free”

Whether written by a spammer with a shaky grasp of English or a frustrated poet/bot, there are some classic treats to be mined from an otherwise annoying nuisance. Enjoy the poetic lunacy but don’t ever, ever click on the links. Just look at it like you would an interesting cloud: take a mental picture, appreciate the accidental beauty, and watch it float away into the spam folder to be deleted.

Discover your own Random Poetry

Now that you see the random poetry of mangled communication everywhere, what do you do with it? Keep some stellar examples as writing prompts for a day when you’re chained down by writer’s block, or collect several and piece them together into one flowing epic. Random poetry allows you to be silly with words, so play with them like Lego blocks and build towers of weird inspiration. It will loosen your Muse, make you laugh and maybe even cause you to write a few nonsense poems of your own.

What random snippets of language have you discovered had a poetic ring to it? Share some of your own random poetry in the comments below.

Photo Credit: Animal Cleanliness by freedryk
Photo Credit: Towing Haiku by iamdonte

Should Fiction Be Poetic? Part 2 of our chat with Hugo and Nebula Award-nominee Rachel Swirsky

In the first part of our series featuring science fiction and fantasy author Rachel Swirsky, the young talent revealed a collection of her poetry and short stories entitled “Through the Drowsy Dark” will be released by Aqueduct Press at the end of May. This got us talking about the differences between poetry and prose, if prose should be poetic, and how to achieve that effect in your work.

Dawn: Since it’s National Poetry Month… what are the similarities and differences between writing poetry and short fiction?

Rachel: I think poetry is intensely useful for fiction writers. It teaches one how to create images that are concrete rather than abstract, to fully exploit each word, and to understand language on the detail-level. Poetry spoils me, because you can work on each word until it’s perfect. You can rewrite a poem dozens or hundreds of times to make sure each word is exactly what you want it to be.

Dawn: You can’t do that in a short story…

Rachel: Once you’re dealing with thousands of words in short stories, you can’t give each phrase the same level of attention. With novels, there’s even less ability to focus on the micro-level.

When I took a novel workshop at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Lan Samantha Chang said that one of the most common difficulties she sees short story writers having with the novel form is letting go of their control. Novels are too long to perfect word by word, and usually too much for a writer to keep in mind all at once in the way you can with a short story (or so I’m told).

Poetry is the opposite: you have an extremely high degree of control over the words and it’s fairly easy to keep the whole thing in mind at once, or even to memorize the whole project if you want to. Sometimes that control can be maddening if you can’t create the effect you want, and I know there have been plenty of times when I’ve caught myself retyping the same three words over and over, changing them slightly and then changing them back, until I’m completely frustrated. This is usually a good time to walk away.

Dawn: Your prose is very poetic — one of the things I love about it. Do you make a conscious effort to do that?

Rachel: I do make an effort to be poetic in what I write. Which is to say, poetry is extremely conscious of the language it uses to convey ideas. It’s easier for people writing prose to abstract themselves from the means of communication, because prose is an unmarked form–we use it when we speak, and when we write notes to each other, and when we write up reports at work. It’s ubiquitous, so we can pretend it’s not even there, much like fish probably don’t think, “Hey, I’m swimming through the water” every thirty seconds. But it is there.

Dawn: I think it’s easier to “try” to abstract ourselves from the means of communication. But truly transparent prose can take as much work as poetic prose. Otherwise, it looks self-conscious…

Rachel: Transparent prose attempts to use language in a way that the audience won’t notice–to take advantage of the ubiquity of the medium so it disappears. This can be a beautiful technique. Prose that we consider poetic, or sometimes I hear people use the term self-conscious, is playing more overtly with the medium of language.

Different styles have different kinds of effects on the reader, and may play better or worse with the kind of content you’re trying to express. I try to think about what effect I’m having and what effect I’m trying to create, and then I usually spend a lot of time with the sentence-level language to make sure that it’s doing what I want it to.

Dawn: What do you find most challenging about fiction – the language, plot, characters, world-building or something else?

Rachel: That depends on the story. I probably spend more time on language than on anything else, but I don’t tend to find it challenging, per se.

I don’t feel like I have a lot of problems understanding characters, although relaying that understanding on the page is a different challenge.

I tend to come into stories with plot arcs I already understand, but sometimes the exact process of how to show the characters getting from 60% of the way through the story to 80% can be very difficult for me. Beginnings, early middles, and endings are easy–it’s that latter middle part of the arc which seems to sag. I don’t even want to know what that’s going to be like on a 100,000-word novel instead of a 2,000- to 10,000-word short story.

I wish I was better at dialogue. I think I write dialogue decently enough, but when you read the work of someone who really has an ear for it, it can be this astonishing, amazing thing. Andy Duncan captures people’s speech in ways that feel dynamic, fresh, novel, and totally real–he writes the dialogue equivalent of surprising yet inevitable endings. His dialogue is a small, focused, surprise–but then you realize the character could never speak any other way.

You can read stories and poetry by Rachel Swirsky at:
Subterranean Magazine
Fantasy Magazine
Weird Tales
Beneath Ceaseless Skies

Find out more at

I also really wish I could do tight, focused plotting — the kinds of plots you find in farces or murder mysteries. I’ve been watching episodes of Coupling and Doctor Who by Steven Moffat, and he hits the plot points with just the right amount of precision and wit, with never a wasted word. I want to know how to do that.

Tales from a Science Fiction Author. Part 1 of our chat with Hugo and Nebula Award-nominee Rachel Swirsky

Success stories in genre fiction are rare, but inspirational. It’s not every day we see a J.K. Rowling gain monumental fame and wealth from one big hit, then create an entire best-selling series and franchise around her ideas.

Most genre writers build up a stable career slowly, garnering publishing credits, earning positive reviews for their work, and one day, they look around and realize: “I’m a successful fiction writer.” But self-doubt lingers, because, after all, we’re writers. Then a crowning achievement occurs, something like a Hugo nomination, and it really hits home.

This is where young Rachel Swirsky, full-time science fiction and fantasy writer, finds herself today. She’s got a hefty list of publishing credits for short fiction to her name, a collection of short fiction and poetry on the horizon from Aqueduct Press and — most recently — Hugo and Nebula Award nominations.

Rachel took time from her busy schedule to talk to us in this four-part interview, with in-depth advice on how to become a science fiction and fantasy writer, how to market your work, and the craft of writing fiction and poetry.  If you’d like to learn more about Rachel, please visit Rachel’s blog.

Rachel Swirsky's Eros, Philia, AgapeDawn: Let’s start with the big news. You were nominated for a Hugo for your novelette, “Eros, Philia, Agape“. What was the process for that?

Rachel: The Hugos are selected by people who attend the Worldcon Science Fiction Convention. Attending and supporting members are eligible to recommend stories they’d like to see on the ballot, and the ones with the most recommendations are nominated. The same pool of people will also select the winner.

Dawn: Eros, Philia, Agape was published on the Tor website–is it available in print too? What was the process to have it accepted?

Rachel: [Tor Editor] Patrick Nielsen Hayden invited me to submit a few months before was launched. I eventually sent him both “Eros, Philia, Agape,” which has been nominated for the Hugo award, and somewhat later, “A Memory of Wind,” which has been nominated for the Nebula award. is an online magazine, so the stories were first published online. has also made them available in a number of downloadable formats, including PDF and as audio fiction MP3s.

Rachel Swirsky's A Memory of WindDawn: Your career has really taken off in the past few years. What — besides sheer writing talent — got you where you are now?

Rachel: A big turning point for me was attending the Clarion West Writing Workshop in 2005. Our first instructor was Octavia Butler, and she asked all the students what our long term goals were. I said I’d be happy with something modest like publishing a couple of stories. She said everyone should try to shoot upwards, to expect the best from their careers. Why not try to be full-time writers?

That conversation–along with a number of others at Clarion West–helped me to look at my writing from a more professional angle. Everyone can improve their writing technique, of course, but by that point I had the basics. I needed to take myself seriously–to write, submit, and write more, to take the writing seriously as a job. Within a couple months of making that decision, I started seeing sales, and eventually those started accumulating faster.

Dawn: So you’re writing fiction full-time now?

Rachel: Yes. In 2006, I went through the Iowa Writers’ Workshop with a teaching fellowship. In 2008, I got married and my husband and I moved to Bakersfield, California. He works full-time as a geologist, and I write full-time. I’d like to teach fiction part-time at the college level, as I did during grad school, and hopefully that will work out in the future.

You can read stories and poetry by Rachel Swirsky at:
Subterranean Magazine
Fantasy Magazine
Weird Tales
Beneath Ceaseless Skies

Find out more at

Dawn: What are your goals now? Is a novel in the plans?

Rachel: A collection of my poetry and short stories, THROUGH THE DROWSY DARK, is coming out from Aqueduct Press at the end of May. I’m still working on a number of short stories, novelettes, and novellas–but I am thinking about novels.

A lot of writers find they trend more toward working with either short stories or novels. For instance, it’s pretty common to hear people say that novels are much easier to write than short stories. I’m the opposite; my intuitive grasp of fiction trends toward shorter lengths. Some writers never really transition from one form to the other, but there are also plenty of people who are dexterous enough as storytellers to move back and forth between the two forms, seemingly effortlessly. I’ve spent a lot of time working on short stories, and I think it will take a commensurate amount of effort to understand novels. But I’m hoping the time and effort will pay off.

Write Letters of Love And Prosper

This Heart of Mine: Writing LoveYou know the saying “Love makes the world go round? “ Writing  from experience and imagination can wager a pretty penny for those looking to grow and prosper from their creative writing …The language of love is alluring. Speaking from a woman’s perspective, the very idea of love harbors some fantasy of a Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, minus the tragic ending of course.

Feburary 14th is Valentine’s Day. It is on this day that women look forward to the reminders from their mate; that they are loved and desired. Loving verse from a greeting card, penned by an ambitious writer, conveys this message quite well. In Roman Times, a young priest named Saint Valentine was jailed and ordered put to death. This is where love gets tricky.

Valentine, as the tale goes, fell madly in love with the jailer’s daughter. He wrote her love letters from his jail cell on a regular basis… love letters written from behind walls of separation and signed “from your Valentine”. Saint Valentine’s expression of love via letters survives to this day. The oldest known love letter was a poem written by Charles of Valois, Duke Of Orleans, to his wife, Bonne d’Armagnac, after he was wounded and caught in 1415’s Battle of Agincourt. That manuscript can still be found (reportedly) at the British Library in London, England.

I believe that writers are true romantics at heart. Whether they’re penning a love letter to a one and only, a new love interest smoldering with possibility, or reaching into memories of past loves, writing sentimental stories and poems can lead to an increase in cash flow for the freelance writer in 2010. Love rocks!

Some sites to consider when researching where to send your sentiments of love :

  1. Anthologies:
  2. Contributing to anthologies might not pay highly, but, it does offer greater exposure and networking opportunities. There is a market for anthologies in all freelance writing genres, particularly romance. To find anthologies seeking love stories, poems, and essays, go to

  3. Lyrics/Songwriting:
  4. There are many writing competitions that require a small entry fee to judge your work and perhaps award you the prize. In 2005, I entered the VH1 Song Of The Year Competition where I’d written lyrics to what I thought was a lovely remembrance of a soft/melodic love (at a price)… To make a long story short, I didn’t snag the big prize but my son was nominated as “Selected Artist” for that year. That nomination is a fantastic reference.

    While you might not always win, writing lyrics and songs for competitions builds your experience and in time you might consider entering the song writing industry. Many talented writers earn their bread and butter writing the words to songs sung by popular artists. Interested in this field? Have you seen Coyote Ugly or Music and Lyrics?

  5. Poetry/Prose:
  6. April is National Poetry Month and poetry writing is on the move. Making a profit from poetry can be challenging but is still possible. Every year new poetry is published across the world in many different forms. I have a friend, Mark Anthony Hall, who made his career writing romantic poetry. An Author of several books of romantic poetry/prose and essays, he’s a success in writing letters from the heart.

    Mark Anthony also publishes a newsletter, “For Romantics Only”, that takes submissions of romantic short-stories, cartoons, and poetry. I was one of his very first submissions back in the 90s. Visit his website and read excerpts from one of his books, “Romantic Bedside Stories”, to jump-start your own romantic juices and spark a creative flow.

The possibilities for publishing and profiting from romance writing are endless. From greeting cards, Ezines, and eBooks, to CDs, audiotapes, and books; Writing about love in any art form can be fun and lucrative. Who knows, your work might label you a” Love Guru”!

Send free Valentine eCards to your loved ones.As Valentine’s Day approaches, writers should take the initiative, write those letters in whatever shape, form, or fashion; Stakeout, identify and bombard your market with submissions and get in on this lucrative boom promoting the essence of love!

What has been your experience with romantic writing?

Photo Credit: ildalina

Book Review: The Forward Book of Poetry

Title: The Forward Book of Poetry
Author: Various Artists
Publisher: Faber and Faber
ISBN 10: Various Editions

The Forward Book of Poetry” is one of the most impressive and remarkable poetry collections currently being published. Presenting poets who are both well known and new to the scene, the book is a shining example of all that is great about poetry in the UK at the moment.

Published annually the book is a collection of the short listed entries for the Forward Poetry Prizes. The Prizes were first established in 1991 with the goal of correcting the woeful lack of recognition and attention contemporary poetry receives and of extending its audience. The Forward Poetry Prizes themselves are currently the most financially rewarding poetry competition in the UK. Offering the competitive categories of Best Collection (10,000), Best First Collection (5000) and Best Single Poem (1000) the Prizes are regarded as hotly contested and only the very best poets shine through. The Prizes are only open to published poets and the poets cannot nominate themselves, their publishers must enter their collections and poems in their stead.

Poets and poems that do indeed manage to shine through above and beyond their competitors but perhaps do not manage to win are recognized by inclusion in “The Forward Book of Poetry“. Five highly respected literary judges debate long and hard to decide which poems should be included in the annual collection, so it is of little surprise that the poetry offered in the book is of an exceptional quality.

The poets featured in the book are a mixed bunch, sometimes well known names and ex-poet laureates that are recognizable to even those with little knowledge of poetry, and sometimes previously unknown poets making their public debut. The result is a refreshing mixture of poetry about a wide ranging but always griping variety of subjects. Each and every poem is an experience and delight in its own right and the collection as a whole can serve as a fantastic introduction to contemporary poetry for someone new to the genre, or as the treat in the form of the collation of the very best modern poetry for someone already familiar with contemporary British poetry.

I definitely recommend you get hold of a copy today, and see what you have been missing out on.

5/5 – Simply peerless.

Nicholas Cockayne is a 23-year-old UK based writer with a BA in English and a MA in Creative and Critical Writing. Nicholas is passionate about literature, writing, and publishing. He is currently trying to adjust to living in the countryside, finish several novels, and find time to read.

Site Review: Writelink [Guest Post by Jean Knill]

What Can WriteLink Offer You?

Jean Knill is an talented writer and I’ve adored reading her lively and genuine voice. You can read more about Jean and her writing life on her blog, Jean’s Musings and at WriteLink.

As one of the millions who’ve always wanted to write, I started freelancing in the 1980s. I achieved some success among UK specialist newspapers, magazines and trade journals. Then life took over and, single again, I had to concentrate on a day job to house, feed, clothe and entertain my children.

I always knew what I wanted to do when I was able to retire from the day job. One day I was silver surfing when I found Writelink. And that’s when my rejuvenated writing took off.

Writelink is a UK based website with an international membership. Reading membership of the site is free, but to get the most from it, you pay £15 a year to become a writing member. The core group of these members are the most supportive folk you could wish to meet.

The site has been through many stages of development, but when I got involved, there were already a number of helpful sections. In the Arena, writing members can post work in progress for others to review and give a star rating. Arena sections allow for articles, short fiction, book chapters and poetry, but only one at a time is allowed in each.

The ambition of all new members is to get a total of 40 stars on piece of work, so it is spotlighted and moved to a permanent section. Other work is removed after 10 days, but during that time, authors can note the comments of their peers to help them edit and polish their work. They might also get views on markets and how to target them.

Once a writer is spotlighted, they can submit to the Resources Section. Anyone who is already published will receive automatic spotlight status when they join. New work is added to the Resources section each month, when new submission guidelines are issued for the next lot. Authors are paid £20 for work accepted for Resources. Not long after I joined, my piece on Making the Most of Writelink was accepted for Resources. Another article of mine, Internet Middle Men, is currently featured.

Other helpful sections of Writelink are a library of e-books, free for members, and lists of markets and competitions, which are updated monthly. Writelink also runs its own monthly competitions, which are great fun. There is also a forum for members to chat, get more advice, or share their successes and their grievances.

Many of the site developments over the last couple of years have been controversial. The latest is the addition of a blog site, which will eventually swallow all the other sections from the old site, and do away with it. It’s happening slowly and carefully, and getting lots of feedback from members. The one downside is that, as members take on the blogging, they use the old site less, so it’s more difficult for new members to get enough reviews to become spotlighted.

I try to get there as much as I can, but it tends to be in bursts now, since my writing has taken off in different directions, and I’m really busy. But I know I have a huge debt to repay to Writelink and its members. Recently I posted a children’s story in the Arena hoping for some helpful reviews, which I received. So then I made time for about 10 reviews of other people’s work in the Arena.

I’ve dabbled with other writing communities, but never found the same kind of support, or the number of good virtual friends. I’m so pleased I found Writelink first.

Have you had experiences with Writelink? What do you think of the site and the services it provides? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

Write With WriteLink!

Twirling Windmills @ Australian Reader

It’s my delight to share one of my favorite poems written with an Australian setting. The wonderful people at featured this poem in issue number 38 of the Australian Reader newsletter and you can read their testimonial.

I hope you enjoy, Twirling Windmills

Feel free to return here to offer your comments and critique.