Tuesday, 14 December 2010

20% OFF Scrivener for Words with JAM Subscribers

Scrivener is an award-winning word processor and project management tool created specifically for writers of long texts such as novels and research papers. It won’t try to tell you how to write - it just makes all the tools you have scattered around your desk available in one application. Scrivener provides powerful utilities for getting your words onto the page and finding the structure that suits the needs of your project. Outline and organise, take notes, view research as you write; dynamically combine multiple scenes into a single text just to see how they fit. Scrivener has already been enthusiastically adopted by best-selling novelists and novices alike - whatever you write, grow your ideas in style.

“Finally a true word processor for authors has arrived.”
- David Hewson, author of the best-selling Nic Costa series of novels

“As a writer’s application, Scrivener is near perfect.”
- Neil Cross, best-selling author of Burial and screenwriter for Luther

“The biggest software advance for writers since the word processor.”
- Michael Marshall Smith, best-selling author of Spares and The Straw Men

Free 30 day trial available for download.

20% OFF using discount code: ‘WORDSWITHJAM’

Scrivener is originally Mac based software, but is now also available for Windows in beta.

Visit: http://www.literatureandlatte.com/scrivener.php

Monday, 22 November 2010

Win a place on a residential writing course in Cornwall - FREE Entry

To celebrate our first birthday, we’ve decided to give a prize to the overall winner of this December’s Comp Corner competition! I know, how good is that?
The prize, generously donated by Orion author Ruth Saberton, is a four day residential place on one of her Writers’ Courses Cornwall (UK) retreats (http://www.writerscoursescornwall.co.uk). Included is all tuition, 5 star accommodation in Polperro, food at a local inn, drinks and a car parking permit.

All you have to send us is the last couple of lines of a story. That’s it. Obviously you have to have written it yourself and not lifted it from some famous piece of work. The lines can be from something you’ve already written or just made up for the competition, we don’t mind. As ever, it can be funny, or clever, or moving, or just bloody good. 40 words max, in the body of an email, and no more than three goes per entrant. Get to it.

Entries should be emailed to danny@wordswithjam.co.uk by no later than 14th January 2011. The winner will be announced in the February 2011 issue, where we will print the shortlist of ten, together with the overall winning entry.

For more information and rules, visit www.wordswithjam.co.uk/writersretreat

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Kindling an Interest

Well, it was inevitable. My gadget-mad other half went and bought a Kindle. In fact, he pre-ordered a Kindle at the end of August, but was just too late to catch the first batch of deliveries, which is why you are reading this now and not in the last edition.

On the plus side, I have now had plenty of time to play with his new toy and give it thorough testing. So here it is: A Review Of The Kindle From The Point Of View Of A Reasonably-Tech-Savvy-But-Not-Gadget-Freak Reader And Writer.

Read the Library Cat’s review of the Kindle in the December edition of Words with Jam.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

October Comp Corner Reminder

Last issue we asked for examples of micro relationships, where one characters lets the reader know their relationship to and opinion of another character as succinctly as possible, via either prose or dialogue.

This time we’re looking for similes, simple as that. The funnier, stupider, cleverer or nastier the better.

As ever, we want no more than 30 words ish, in the body of the email to danny@wordswithjam.co.uk.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Tomorrow - it's out tomorrow!

October 2010 Issue
As well as Tony Blair On Himself, cover author, Bob Burke, talks about his path to publication; David Robinson explores the advantages of e-book as a medium for your work; we are pleased to have been asked once again to feature the results for the second quarter of Flash 500, and there’s an article on How Not to Lose Friends and Alienate People. 

Not to be missed, Catriona Troth has some tips on getting the most from your library card. There’s more satirical letters in Dear Ed. Manager of the Canterbury branch of Waterstones tells us why bookshops WILL survive. And Anne Stormont comes back with part two of Just Do It.

Gillian Hamer explores the phenomenon that is Stieg Larsson; Danny Gillan gives us a piece on The Right to Write as well as another Comp Corner challenge to stretch us; and Michelle Romaine explains Microsoft Word’s Track Changes with a quick How To guide. 

Oh, and Perry finally reveals what happened to his cat …

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Christmas Book 2010

The perfect gift for your loved ones this Christmas ...

Orders are now being taken for the Christmas Book Bits, Bobs and Baubles 2010. All orders must be in by 3rd October latest to ensure they are printed and dispatched in time for Christmas. If you would like more information on ordering copies, visit www.wordswithjam.co.uk/christmasbookorder

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Love Your Library?

Are you one of the army of writers whose love affair with books began in your local library?  Write and tell us about your experience.  The most inspiring stories (up to 500 words) will be published in the next edition of WWJ.

Email submissions@wordswithjam.co.uk with the subject 'Love My Library' by 14th September.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

2 days left to enter our Short Story Competition

Please remember that you can still send postal entries on the 31st August. So long as they are postmarked on this day, they will be accepted.

For more information visit http://www.wordswithjam.co.uk/competition

Saturday, 14 August 2010

National Short Story Week

Call for Short Stories - in support of National Short Story Week

Organised by Writers Abroad

National Short Story Week (www.nationalshortstory.org) will take place during the week 22nd -28th November. In support of the event, Writers Abroad will be publishing an anthology of short stories. Writers Abroad (www.writersabroad.spruz.com) is a vibrant online community for Expat writers and this has influenced the theme of the anthology.

Title: ‘Writers Abroad’
Theme: Short Stories on any aspect of Expat Life, the pains and the pleasure.
Contributions: From Expat writers (either currently an Expat or previously an Expat)
Word Count: Anything up to 2,500 words. Submissions can be flash fiction i.e up to 500 words or short stories up to 2,500. Word count does not include the title.

Submission and Entry Rules:
● All stories must be previously unpublished
● Submissions should be received by midnight Friday 15th October 2010
● Submissions must be in English
● References to porn or racism will not be accepted
● Manuscripts must be submitted in either Word or RTF format (No DOCX or other format will be accepted).
● The approximate word count should be inserted at the end of the story
● Author name and story title should be placed in the left header of the document and page numbers in the right footer
● Manuscripts should be presented with double spacing and Times New Roman Font.
● Submissions are by email only to expatwritersabroad@gmail.com - in the subject line please quote ‘Writers Abroad submission’ and provide your contact details and story title in the body of the email
● Entries are free, only one entry per author plus a short bio of 30 words
● Successful authors will be informed within two weeks of the closing date
● It will not be possible to provide feedback on stories but successful stories will be edited and authors may be required to undertake minor changes for publication purposes

Copyright will remain with the author and the stories will be published in an anthology in a number of formats.

Friday, 6 August 2010

Staff Team Expansion

On behalf of everyone at WWJ, huge congratulations go out to out Editor/Publisher/Owner/Dark Overlord/All Round Whizz-Kid Jane and her husband Ian on the safe, if a little earlier than expected, arrival of twin boys William and Alexander.
It demonstrates the boss's legendary professionalism that she managed to beat her deadline by over two weeks and still produced two truly epic works of genius (take note, contributors!).

Jane is obviously going to be a wee bit busy for the time being, so if any queries or submissions for WWJ could be cc'd to me on danny@wordswithjam.co.uk it would be appreciated.

Good luck and God help you, boss!


Saturday, 24 July 2010

Inspiration Techniques, by Adam Bailey ...

The muse is a wandering lion whose noble roar is mostly heard in that moment before sleep. Which is all well and good for civilians who don't mind drifting off before their mind wakes up in full glorious technicolour, but writers don’t get that luxury. Writers spend their nights writing. Somehow trying to harness the dream and its strength to get inside humanity's head and reveal its secrets, fears, rages, and Charlize Theron needing help with her bikini, again.

Easier said than done. Because unless you're Stephen King and galloped enough coke in your twenties to ride on bareback well into your sunset years banging out a new book every other season, writing usually means just staring at the computer with total brain freeze. Mumbling about lions.

Somehow, then, what writers must do is track down that bastard lion muse thing, shoot a tranq dart in its arse, ship it home in a cage, and under the rule of the whip have it performing circus tricks within the week. Cue big top applause. Writers call this Artificial Inspiration.

Adam will be discussing the various techniques in the August issue of WWJ!

Monday, 19 July 2010

Dogs Can't Look Up

[ri-surch, ree-surch]
1. diligent and systematic inquiry or investigation into a subject in order to discover or revise facts, theories, applications, etc. 

Having been asked to do an article on ‘research’ I did what all self-respecting writers do these days and plugged the word into an online dictionary, hence the above. There were a few other definitions but I couldn’t be bothered cutting and pasting them. They were verbs or something.

I’ve managed to write two novels and about a dozen short stories without doing any research whatsoever. I’ve had the advantage of only ever writing about Glaswegian idiots though so much of the required knowledge was already built in. Now and then I’ve needed to check the odd bit of geography but Google maps has always sorted that out easily enough. To be honest, the first thought to enter my brain when the ED asked me to write this article about research was - shit, she’s not done her research ...

Read the full article by Danny Gillan in the August issue of Words with JAM ... OUT SOON!

Saturday, 17 July 2010

What Not to Tweet by Dan Holloway

Diving into the Hash Party Scene

So now you’ve spent almost 2 months tweeting away, meeting new people and exploring the twitterverse. Almost certainly you’ve already discovered most of what I want to say this time, but I’ll say it anyway. I want to have a look in more detail than I did last time at some of the parts of twitter that I’ve found particularly helpful for me. Not necessarily in terms of sales, or downloads. That’s not really what twitter is about for me. Rather, these are the places where I’ve met some amazing people, many of whom I’ve gone on to learn huge amounts from in the blogosphere, lots of whom are now friends on Facebook, and a fair few of whom I’ve gone on to meet more than once in the “real world” and form friendships with. In the next issue of Words with JAM, I also want to take a look at what an incredible source of raw information twitter can be for the writer.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Human Libraries - Learning not to judge a book by its cover ...

Having looked last time at e-books, my attention this month was caught by another very different sort of book – the Living Book, and its home, the Human Library.

I first heard about Human Libraries via a programme on BBC Radio 4 . As I learnt, ‘the Human Library works exactly like a normal library – readers come and borrow a 'book' for a limited period of time. After reading it they return the Book to the library and – if they want – they can borrow another Book. There is only one difference: the Books in the Human Library are human beings, and the Books and Readers enter into a personal dialogue.’

I have to admit, being a writer, my first thought when I heard about this was ‘what a fantastic research opportunity’. Supposing you have a character who is a gang member, a homeless person, a woman vicar. What better than to sit down with someone who has been in their shoes, with full permission to ask them whatever questions you like? Okay, maybe you wouldn’t learn enough in half an hour’s conversation to flesh out a main character, but it could be perfect to ensure a minor character is more than just a flat stereotype. But was this in the spirit of the Human Library, or would I be taking advantage? I had to find out more.

Full article by Catriona Troth in the August Issue of Words with JAM ... OUT SOON!

Monday, 12 July 2010

Coming Soon ...

The August issue will be available by the end of this month. With most of the articles in, and work commencing on the layout, over the next couple of weeks we'll be sharing snippets of what is to come ...

60 Seconds with David Nicholls 

David Nicholls trained as an actor before making the switch to writing. His TV credits include the third series of Cold Feet, Rescue Me, and I Saw You. He was co-writer for the film adaptation of Simpatico, which starred Nick Nolte, Jeff Bridges and Sharon Stone. David's bestselling first novel, Starter for Ten, was selected for the Richard and Judy Book Club in 2004. David wrote the screenplay for the film version, released in 2006, starring James McAvoy, Rebecca Hall and Dominic Cooper. He also wrote And When Did you Last See Your Father (2007), with Jim Broadbent and Colin Firth and a much-praised modern adaptation of Tess of the D’Urbervilles (2008), with Gemma Arterton for the BBC.

His second novel, The Understudy was published in 2005. His most recent, One Day, is currently being filmed with Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess in the roles of Emma and Dexter. David also wrote the screenplay.

He lives in North London with his partner Hannah and two children, Max and Romy. 

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Competition Corner

A wee reminder about next issue's competition corner.
For this one we want you to send in the funniest, cleverest or simply bitterest fictional dedications you can come up with. You know, those bits at the front of a book where the author thanks his therapist/agent/family/accountant/ghost writer.
Think of it as practice for your Man Booker Prize acceptance speech.
The usual rules about length etc apply, though I can't imagine any of these will be particularly long so that's not a worry. 
Remember to put your entries in the body of the email and not as an attachment, otherwise they’ll be fed to the dog (he loves spam) without being opened.
Send your entries to danny@wordswithjam.co.uk and try to get them in by the 5th of July.


Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Bits, Bobs and Baubles 2010

As seen in the latest issue of Words With JAM, we are now open for submissions to Bits, Bobs and Baubles 2010, a Christmas book unlike any other. Different how, I hear you ask. Well, it won't be available in the shops and there's absolutely no chance of it making you either rich or famous. Sounds good, eh?

Just follow the link below and click on the Christmas Book 2010 button for all the juicy details.

It's (not) Christmas!

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

June Issue OUT NOW!

The fourth issue of Words with JAM proves exciting for a number of reasons. Firstly, as you will already know, we have announced the Words with JAM First Annual Short Story Competition. Submissions are already coming in, and there’s three months until the closing date. Full details are later in the magazine. In addition, the Christmas Book I compiled last year is now also open for submissions.

We also have an article on the man behind Alice in Wonderland Lewis Carroll, an overview of The London Book Fair, an insightful piece on Becoming a Freelance Chameleon, an in depth look at eBooks, a photo of what could be the smallest library in Britain (maybe even the world!), Dan Holloway is back with Re-writing Poetry, Derek Duggan entertains with Secreting the Secret, Jill Marsh presents 60 Seconds with Sarah Waters and Andrew Crofts, Lorraine Mace interviews editors Hazel Cushion and Jane Friedman, as well as a special feature from Lesley Cookman, plus loads more.

If you don't already have a copy, subscribe now on our website and we'll send you a link. 


Friday, 28 May 2010

Lesley Cookman ...

... on the creation of the Libby Sargeant Murder series.

Libby Sarjeant is a middle aged ex-actress living in a small Kent village, where she paints pictures for sale in a nearby seaside town and helps to run the local Oast House Theatre. So far, so predictable.

You just know, reading that mini biography, that she’s about to fall over body after body in, as someone described it, a “Vicar of Dibley meets Midsummer Murders” series of adventures. And she does.

Envisaged in the first place for the now defunct “World One Day Novel Cup”, held over two twelve hour sessions at the Groucho Club over ten years ago, I based her initial premise on the highly formatted US “cosy” - or “cozy” - market. I was told by many in the publishing industry here in the UK that this type of crime/mystery was completely out of favour and I would never get published. So Libby, or her first few chapters anyway, languished on the computer for several years, until I resurrected her as my dissertation for my MA in Creative Writing. Then a surprising thing happened ...

Read the full article in the June issue of Words with JAM. Out Soon!

Monday, 24 May 2010

Lorraine Mace Interviews ...

Jane Friedman is a vegetarian, bourbon-drinking editor, who claims to be at least mostly sane. Obsessed with writing, reading, editing, teaching and speaking, she also happens to be the publisher and editorial director of Writer’s Digest. In our June issue interview, she gives us an insight into how she sees the writing industry, both from the point of view of a writer and also that of an editor ...

Monday, 10 May 2010

Can eBooks be Books?

By Catriona Troth

I must admit, my own experience with ebooks is a bit off the wall. I don’t have an eReader, or a Kindle or even an iPad. What I have is a little iPod touch and a programme called Stanza. Stanza allows me to download books from a range of sources including free ones (like Project Gutenburg) and online bookstores like BooksonBoard. More importantly, for me, it allows me to upload onto the iPod anything that I hold on my computer as a Word document or a .pdf file.

From time to time, people in my writers’ group share whole books with each other – way beyond my tolerance for reading on a computer screen and too fussy and fiddly (not to say expensive) to print. So I upload them onto my iPod. This gives me something on the scale of the Victorian Tom Thumb books described by Arriety in the opening chapter of The Borrowers, and which I find quite comfortable to read. The iPod also has the added bonus of enabling me to read in the dark, so if I wake up in the middle of the night, I can tuck into a book without disturbing my husband.

So I am predisposed to be favourable to the idea of ebooks. But arguments over different platforms, arguments over pricing and Digital Rights Management, limited accessibility – it’s all been enough to put off even me. Hence my question this month is Can eBooks be Books?

Read the full article in the June issue of Words with JAM.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Comp Corner Closing Date Tomorrow!

The June Pick ...

This issue's competition is along the same, er, lines as April, but this time we’re looking for the funniest, quirkiest or just damned cleverest character descriptions you can come up with.

It doesn’t need to be the full picture, we don’t need every garment. Maybe just a facial expression, if expertly described, is enough to tell us all we need to know about this character.

Again, try to keep entries down to a couple of sentences or thirty(ish words) and send them in the body of an email to danny@wordswithjam.co.uk by the 5th of May, along with your name and a weblink if applicable.

There is no entry fee, and the ten winning entries will be published in the June issue of WWJ, so get to it.

Friday, 30 April 2010

Interview with Writer's Digest Editor, Jane Friedman

Jane Friedman is a vegetarian, bourbon-drinking editor, who claims to be at least mostly sane. Obsessed with writing, reading, editing, teaching and speaking, she also happens to be the publisher and editorial director of Writer’s Digest. In our June issue, she gives us an insight into how she sees the writing industry, both from the point of view of a writer and also that of an editor.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

The London Book Fair

Mark Robberts' overview of The London Book Fair in the June issue of Words with JAM ...

One of the first things that strikes one is the vastness of easy-to-get-to Earl’s Court. Okay, the façade is impressive, but inside – it is immense. Tardis like; the ideal place for getting lost – for days. I am sure Wembley stadium could fit in here with room to spare. I was here last year so basically knew what to expect but for first-timers it really is an eye-opener. The cream (or almost all) of the publishing world, all gathered under one roof ...

Saturday, 17 April 2010

First Annual Short Story Competition 2010 - NOW OPEN

It's here! The Words with JAM Short Story Competition 2010

Let's keep it simple. We're looking for the best short story of up to 2,500 words. Please note that we are looking for the best short story, not bribes! If you wish to send vast sums of money, tickets for sell-out concerts, rare signed first edtitions, feel free, but as the stories will be judged anonymously, it won't help you much.

1st Prize - £300
2nd Prize - £100
3rd Prize - £50

Closing Date 
31st August 2010, 12pm GMT

All three winning entries will be published in the December issue of Words with JAM.

Sue Moorcroft will be selecting our three winners from this year's shortlist. Sue writes short stories, serials and novels – her third novel, Starting Over, was published in November 2009, with All That Mullarkey to follow on 1 June 2010. She’s both editor of and contributor to Loves Me, Loves Me Not, a short story anthology celebrating the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s 50th Anniversary.

Also a creative writing tutor, Sue’s first ‘how to’ book, Love Writing – How to Make Money Writing Romantic or Erotic Fiction, was published in January.

http://suemoorcroft.wordpress.com for news and writing tips 

To Enter
For more details, please visit out main webpage at www.wordswithjam.co.uk and click on 'competition'.
Good Luck!

Saturday, 10 April 2010

The Countdown Has Begun ...

Saturday 17th April 2010 will see the launch of the Words with JAM First Annual Short Story Competition. We will be searching for the best Short Story of under 2,500 words.

Look out for details on our website. Subscribers will receive automatic email notification.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010


The April issue of Words with JAM is out now. Subscribers will receive their copy by email any time now. Non-subscribers only have themselves to blame for missing out.

Monday, 22 March 2010

60 Seconds with Toby Litt

Toby Litt will feature alongside Tracy Chevalier in one of our 60 Second Interviews in the next issue of Words with JAM ...

Toby published his first book, a collection of short stories entitled Adventures in Capitalism, in 1996.
He is the author of the novels: Beatniks: An English Road Movie (1997), a modern On the Road transposed to middle-England; Corpsing (2000), a thriller set in London's Soho; and Deadkidsongs (2001), a dark tale of childhood. Exhibitionism (2002), is a collection of short stories that explore the boundaries of sex and sexuality. Finding Myself (2003) is the story of what happens when budding author Victoria About gathers together ten friends for a holiday in Southwold in order to write up the ensuing events. His latest novels are Hospital (2007) and Journey into Space (2009).

In 2003 Toby was nominated by Granta magazine as one of the 20 'Best of Young British Novelists'. A new collection of short stories, I Play the Drums in a Band Called Okay, was published in 2008. He lives in London.


Friday, 19 March 2010

Fourteen Years of Mild Irritation

Pets. What’s the fucking point, eh? The dog, for example. Fourteen years of mild irritation terminated by an ephemeral burst of sorrow. I mean, come on, you could simply gouge yourself on the thigh with a steak knife every day and get the same result without having to go out walking in the rain or clean liquid faeces from the sofa. And it’d be cheaper, too. Put it this way, if they ever re-make Ring of Bright Water, I’ll be the guy with the spade for only a minimal fee.

Because look what we spend on the buggers. We spend more pampering our pets than the combined GNPs of the world’s forty poorest countries (Figures from guilttrip.com, correct at the time of going to press). Do we contribute to a charity that will provide a fresh, renewable supply of water for eighteen million fly-blown Africans, or do we pop down to Pets-R-Us for some hamster-bedding?

Again, what’s the point? Fuck it, they’re going to die in the end anyway. Pets, I mean, obviously ...

Read Perry Iles' full rant in his column Feeble Excuses, Procrastination and Displacement Activities in the next April issue of Words with JAM.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Blogs Part 2 - Ever feel like you’re talking to yourself?

OK, now you have a wonderful blog. It looks amazing. What you’ve written is groundbreaking at the very least, and you are managing to produce content of a similarly high standard at least twice a week.

But still you haven’t had “the knock”. In fact, you haven’t had a comment. Well, aside from that one your best mate Carol sent you saying “oh how lovely” because you kept telling her about it over spritzers. It’s pretty dispiriting. We’re often led to believe that having a blog is the key to success, but it isn’t. It’s the first step of what may well be a road to nowhere. “If you build it, they will come” may work for baseball pitches, but sadly it doesn’t for blogs. On the other hand, there are things you can do to get people reading. And don’t forget to keep up producing great content!

It’s time to think about the second stage of blogging ...

Read the full article by Dan Holloway in the next issue of Words with JAM. For Blogs Part 1, subscribe now and receive the last issue directly to your inbox, absolutely FREE ...

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Submitting a Non-Fiction Proposal

We hear so much about what to include and how to submit novels to agents and publishers, that it’s almost a case of information overload. However, for writers of non-fiction books the information on what to include and when to submit it is much harder to find. You’d be forgiven for thinking there couldn’t be much difference between the two forms of submission, but that isn’t the case at all. If you have a non-fiction book idea, you need to forget almost everything you’ve learned to do with submitting novels and start again from scratch.

Full article by Lorraine Mace on how to submit a non-fiction proposal in the April issue of Words with JAM.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Is Your Book A Whisper Book?

Whisper books are the holy grail of the publishing industry – a book which, without any particular ‘hyping’, appears out of nowhere to become a runaway bestseller. A book which people buy and read just because someone else tells them how bloody marvellous it is.

The example everyone will quote is Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Hard though it is to imagine at this remove, back in 1997, Bloomsbury had just taken a punt on an unknown writer and a manuscript eight other publishers had rejected. They presumably expected to make a respectable number of sales with it but no one imagined it would become a worldwide phenomenon. Certainly, it didn’t have any massive publicity machine behind it. But children started reading it – and they started telling other children about it. And like the perfect meme, the news spread.

Of course, the whole point about whisper books is that they are essentially random. If it were possible to predict just what combination of zeitgeist and great writing would cause this kind of reading explosion, every publisher in the business would be saving themselves a fortune in marketing. On the other hand, it can’t hurt (can it?) to maximise the chances of your book being talked about. But what can you, the author, do?

Read the full article by Catriona Troth in the next issue of Words with JAM ...

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief ...

By Gillian Hamer

There’s not many people who wouldn’t know the author of Harry Potter if you asked. And most readers know the name of the author of His Dark Materials. Many of us know that Stephanie Meyer is the latest big name in young adult novels, behind the massively successful Twilight vampire series.

But how many of you have ever have heard of Rick Riordan?

Be honest. Because I hadn’t.

But once the latest teen flick hits the screens later this month, Rick Riordan is likely to become a household name, in much the same way as JK Rowling and Philip Pullman.

The Lightning Thief is the first in a five book series: Percy Jackson & the Olympians. The series takes the concept of ancient Greek mythology and places it in a modern day setting, with up to date characters, and a highly paced and often humorous style.

Percy is an action adventure hero, along the lines of Harry Potter. Like Harry, he has his share of issues - he’s accident prone, suffers from dyslexia and ADHD (Attention Deficit Disorder.)

Instead of discovering he’s a wizard, Percy discovers that his real father is Poseidon, god of the sea, which means Percy is a demigod – half human, half god. At the same time, Zeus, the king of all gods, has accused Percy of stealing his lightning bolt … the original weapon of mass destruction.

Read the full article in the next issue of Words with JAM ...

Thursday, 4 March 2010

100 Stories for Haiti by Guest Blogger Greg McQueen

This might be a first! No, I am not talking about the fact we managed to get an 80,000 words book together in six week -- although, it might be! I am talking about guesting on Jane’s lovely blog, except, well, I am going to hand you over to a guest-of-the-guest.

Gill James recently blogged about her experience from a publisher’s perspective of getting to 100 Stories for Haiti from concept to print. She kindly gave me permission to share her post.


100 Stories for Haiti - a publisher's perspective

An extraordinary chain of events lead us to becoming the publishers of this rather amazing volume. Three of the four partners are also writers, two of them seriously so. And somehow, we can’t actually remember how, but no doubt as a result of the usual networking we all have to do, we learnt about Greg McQueen’s project and two of us submitted stories.

Then we followed the project. It just happened to be one of those days when I was feeling bold and cheeky. You know the sort of mood you have to be in to phone an agent or editor rather than hide meekly behind email or snailmail? I was feeling like that when I read that there was going to be a paperback edition BUT that it was only going to be sold on-line.

Ah, so no ISBN I thought. If you issue an ISBN and bother to register with Nielsen’s – well you have to really – at some point a bookseller – including our lovely friend Amazon - will want to order it.
Greg confirmed that the hard copy would have an ISBN and I found myself offering to distribute on behalf of the original publisher, also a small indie like us, and wondering what our very efficient administrator was going to say about the amount of work that might come her way.

Of course, we’re encouraging everyone to buy direct from us as more then goes to Haiti. But a presence in online book stores is welcome. There are also just a few people who would rather order through their local bookshop, and the book will still make a profit, albeit tiny.

Then on the 5 February Greg was desperately trying to get hold of me. Bridge House was at the time extremely busy – we were doing some important work for our own charity book and we were also holding our AGM.

He got us eventually The other publisher had had to pull out. Could we help? Could we heck? Of course we would. Bridge House loves a challenge.

Bridge House normally operates on a profit share with the authors. The authors get 50% of any profit. The partners and the company get the rest. We haven’t actually paid ourselves anything since we became a partnership almost exactly a year ago. We did get a free lunch once, I think. We have made a profit, but we’re leaving the money in our bank account to aid cash flow. Normally we need to sell about 150 books before we start making any profit on a particular title. However, this allows for a commissioned cover for which we pay £250 – a little under the going rate and our artists are wonderful in that they will wait until the book covers the cost before we have to pay them, though we’ll often pay them out of what is actually the company’s or partners’ but never the authors’ profit. We’ve always got it back – eventually. In the case of 100 Stories for Haiti we didn’t have to pay for a cover as Greg had a basic design and out technical designer was able to tease it and the inside of the book into shape. No one at Bridge House or in Greg’s team are taking a penny from this venture.

We didn’t have to do much editorial work at this point – probably only what I’d call third level – copy edit and design matters as well as getting the script into house style. There was probably no first level editing – reshaping of stories, strengthening of characters, restructuring, adding and subtracting scenes, changing pace and drama. The stories which had faults in those areas had probably been weeded out by Greg’s team of reader / editors before they came our way. The second level of editing - checking the flow, seeing that characters were consistent, making sure it all made sense, making sure no one had left in darlings that needed killing had all been done and the script for the whole book had been put together by Amy Burns, an independent editor. She also worked completely for free.

The script arrived with us on about the 8th of February. It was not quite as ready for the designer as scripts are when the editorial team at Bridge House pass them on but it wasn’t far off. It is our designer, Martin James, aka my husband, who did most of the work. Proof reading of the PDF was assigned to Greg’s team, though Martin also skimmed the script as he does have an eye for these things. I kept my eye on the total process, and Nicola, our administrator, set up a logical system for taking payment and making sure plenty of profit could be made for Haiti. She’s also made sure we are completely transparent and is sharing information with the Red Cross and 100storiesforhaiti.org Debz and Ollie, our two publicists, gave a light touch to the marketing – they have to devote some of their time to our other projects – though as Debz and I are also published in the book, we are making the usual Bridge House effort that all of our authors make to get our books out there. And there are a few more names on that amazing cover that are already familiar to Bridge House. They all know how to make books sell. Ollie has been great at getting the wording exactly right for our point of sale copy.

We managed to be able to load the bibliographic date up to Nielsens by the 14 February, lunch time, and later that day the camera-ready cover and script were uploaded to our printer. Then we waited. And waited. And waited. Normally we have a proof copy within about four days, sometime less.

We were partly a victim of our own haste. We’ve learnt with our printer to say the book is released the day we upload it. Having just indicated 4 March as publishing date with Nielsens, we repeated it. So it took a couple of phone calls to kick start them. Then there were problems with the cover. It wouldn’t bleed correctly and they couldn’t balance the white space around the top and bottom properly. Also, we were getting unwanted white space on the lefthand side of the back cover. We’re into quantum physics and relativity now. Even though the measurements are exactly the same to fractions of a millimetre on our two dimensional PDF as on their three dimensional proof copy the cover just wouldn’t look the same. The design team at the printers had to make an adjustment.

We never phone the printers. We had to this time, and we have to take thank to Kelly Guy who nursed the whole project through and kept everybody on the ball. She must have felt as if we were constantly nagging her. I’m pleased to say the first print run is now running.

There is one great advantage of being the founder of a publishing company. The first three books I did completely on my own though always Martin designed them. Another time I’ll give you the full Bridge House story. But more especially because I’m married to the designer I get to see the proof copy. So, I now have 100 Stories for Haiti right by me on my desk as I type. It feels and looks lovely. I’ve already read up to the end of The Beautiful Game. So far so good. Damn good read apart from anything else. I’m so glad I got involved in this project.

You want to do something. But I’d be no good at digging through rubble or helping the people who no longer have a roof over their heads. There are others who can do that sort of thing better than I can. And sure, I can put my hand in my pocket and pull out a fiver. But that won’t go far. I can write and I know how to get a book out fast. That might be the best I can offer.


Thanks Gill! And, thank you, Jane!

100 Stories for Haiti is OUT NOW! Available online and in bookshops. The paperback edition costs £11.99 + P&P. You can preview part of the book here: http://www.100storiesforhaiti.org/read-an-extract/

Thank you to Greg and all the wonderful team who have worked tirelessly to get this project where it is today. You can read more about 100 Stories for Haiti in the next issue of Words with JAM.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

The Island of Lost Souls author Martyn Bedford talks about his first teenage novel ...

Martyn Bedford is the author of five novels for adults - Acts of Revision (Bantam Press 1996); Exit, Orange & Red (Bantam Press 1997); The Houdini Girl (Penguin 1999); Black Cat (Penguin 2001) and The Island of Lost Souls (Bloomsbury 2006). Between them they have been translated into 12 languages. Flip, his first novel for teenagers and young adults, will be published in spring 2011. Martyn is a senior lecturer in creative writing at Leeds Trinity University College and lives in West Yorkshire with his wife and two daughters.

I have a former editor to thank for my first novel for teenagers . . . I wrote it because he advised me not to. Back in 2005, he took me out to lunch to celebrate the deal to publish The Island of Lost Souls, my fifth novel. We went to Pizza Express in Leeds. Towards the end of the meal he asked what I planned to write next. Up to then all my novels had been for adults, straddling the border between mainstream literary fiction and psychological thriller. But I’d had an idea for a story more suited to a teenage and young-adult audience. When I mentioned this, the editor shook his head.

‘You don’t want to write one of those.’

Read the full article in the April issue of Words with JAM

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Mr Perry Iles has a Blog

We've had a lot of emails from fans of Perry Iles and his regular column Feeble Excuses, Procrastination and Displacement Activities. So we've launched him his very own blog space which he will be regularly visiting for the occasional rant and the usual avoidance of writing books ...

You can visit him in his new home at http://perry-iles.blogspot.com


Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Opening Lines Competition

Here at WWJ we pride ourselves on filling every corner of each issue with useful, enlightening content. However, for some reason this month we found ourselves with a little bit of unused space, just here. Rather than let it go to waste we’ve decided to run a small competition. Who knows, we might even make it a regular feature. We could call it Competition Corner, or something equally clever. The Quiz Quadrant, maybe. Actually, since it’s not actually a quiz I think we’ll stick with Competition Corner.
Anyway, for this first one, we’re concentrating on opening lines. We’re often told that the opening lines of any story are amongst the most important things we write, and that book deals can be won and lost on the strength of them. Whether that’s true or not I don’t know, but let’s pretend it is for the moment.
For the purposes of this competition we’re not looking for clever, deep, or portentous openings - that would be far too serious. No, what we want is funny ones. They may be from an existing piece of work or you might want to make something up just for this. Who knows, it might even provide the spark you need for that next mid-list classic you have brewing.
There is no actual prize for this one of course, but the ten funniest entries will be printed in the next issue, along with any weblinks the authors might wish us to include. Think of it as free advertising - which is quite a good prize, come to think of it.

The rules - pretty loose, really. Preferably no more than a couple of sentences. Definitely no more than 30 (ish) words.
Here are a couple of examples of the sort of thing we mean:

  • The first thing I noticed was her long, black, curly teeth.
  • I make a point of never drinking before eight o’clock. To be fair, I’m rarely up that early.
  • The instant I saw her she cast a spell on me. Bloody witch.

You get the idea. Multiple entries are welcomed, and all should be emailed to danny@wordswithjam.co.uk before, let’s say, the 5th of March.
Please put WWJ Opening Lines in the subject line of your email and include your entries in the body of the email itself. Attachments will be deleted unopened to reduce the risk of luncheon meat.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

60 Seconds with Tracy Chevalier

Tracy Chevalier, author of The Girl with a Pearl Earing and Remarkable Creatures, takes up the 60 Second Challenge for our April issue of Words with JAM.

Subscribe now and receive the last issue straight away, and our April issue automatically when it's due out.

Saturday, 30 January 2010

Forward to Friends - lots of them!

We would just like to thank everyone who has already subscribed. We hope you enjoyed the magazine as much as we enjoyed putting it together. 

If you did enjoy it, please don't forget to forward your copy to as many people as possible and ask them to subscribe too.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

February 2010 Issue is OUT!!!

We said we would try and add more features and articles you would enjoy and find useful, and we feel we have achieved just that. Miranda Dickinson headlines this month, telling us about her debut novel Fairytale of New York, now a Sunday Times bestseller. Sheila Bugler is our synopsis doctor. Jo Reed describes how writers can make a difference, and her experiences winning the Telegraph Prize. We have tips on writing erotica by Barbie Scott, more from Perry Iles, a look at blogging with Dan Holloway, your questions answered, 60 second interviews, stories, plus a whole load more. In addition, we are pleased to support 100 Stories for Haiti, which you can also read more about.

If you haven't already subscribed and received your copy, you can subscribe now and we will automatically email it to you.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

FREE Prize Draw

Don't forget! All subscribers are automatically entered into our FREE bi-monthly Prize Draw. This time we are giving away a copy of The Writer's ABC Checklist, and will announce the winner in the February issue of Words with JAM.

If you haven't already subscribed, it's not too late!

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Writers Can Make a Difference: On Winning the Telegraph Travel Prize

In early December 2008, I got a call from a friend. “Hey,” she said. You travel a lot. And you write a lot. Why don’t you give the Telegraph competition a go?”

“When’s the closing date?” I said.

“Day after tomorrow,” she said. “But it’s only five hundred words. Go for it.”

As it happened, I’d already written a short piece, about a small beach café I visited in Rodney Bay, St. Lucia, earlier in the year. I hadn’t done anything with it, so I dug it out. It weighed in at just over a thousand. Why not, I thought, spent a few hours slashing and burning, and emailed a five hundred word version, entitled Flying Fish with Anne-Marie, off to the Telegraph with an hour to spare. Then I forgot about it. Two weeks later I got a phone call from Charles Starmer-Smith, travel editor of the Daily Telegraph. “You’ve won" ...

Read the full article on how the Telegraph competition prize winner, Jo Reed, made a huge difference to a small cafe in St. Lucia in the February Issue of Words with JAM.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Critique-al Mass

A crit – it’s just someone’s opinion, isn’t it? So how reliable are people’s opinions?

Some people obviously thought The Transformers movie was so good it merited a sequel. Of course, whether it was good or not is irrelevant – the only thing that matters is that both movies made a shitload of cash for the investors.

In some people’s opinion, The Twilight Saga was so great that it would make a fabulous series of films. I haven’t read the books, in fairness, but I did see the first movie and that’s a couple of hours of my life that I won’t be getting back. Then again, my opinion on it is absolutely beside the point because it has done extraordinarily well at the box office.

In the world of publishing we’re hit with huge bestsellers like The DaVinci Code, The Shadow of the Wind, a plethora of celebrity books, twenty-five new James Patterson volumes a year, and so on.

And here’s the point – if the general market only wanted good things, there wouldn’t be McDonalds.

So, what are we doing on crit forums?

Read the full article by Derek Duggan in the February 2010 issue of Words with JAM!

Monday, 4 January 2010


Flash 500 Competition is a new quarterly open-themed flash fiction competition. Judged by Simon Whaley, it has a closing date of 31st March 2010. Entries of up to 500 words.

Entry fee: £5 for one story, £8 for two stories

Prizes will be awarded as follows:
First: £250 plus publication in Words with JAM
Second: £100
Third: £50
Highly commended: A copy of The Writers ABC Checklist

The three winning entries will be published on the competition website -- for more details: Flash 500 Competition

Friday, 1 January 2010

Review of Burnt Shadows by Kamila Shamsie

Reviewed by Catriona Troth

Taking, as its pivotal idea, the chance coincidence that a boy who is half Japanese and half Pakistani may be mistaken for a Hazara Afghani, this book reaches back to the bombing of Nagasaki with the world’s second atomic bomb, and forward to the Afghan War that followed the attack on the Twin Towers. Four very different families, linked throughout the story by blood and marriage, provide a fragile, very personal link between these two defining atrocities ...

Read the full article in the February 2010 issue of Words with JAM.