A regular deck. A random picture card is removed - the witch. Discover the witch's identity by a process of elimination. Spend points from your hand to cast spells and aid your investigations.
Below are the rules to the card game I invented: Witch Hunt. Like Cluedo but with witches.
A regular deck. A random picture card is removed - the witch. Discover the witch's identity by a process of elimination. Spend points from your hand to cast spells and aid your investigations.
Movie musicals are everywhere. Disney has seemingly decided to live-action remake every one of its films, as well as bringing out new ones. And every popular stage musical looks destined for a big screen adaption.
Some casting choices have been... interesting. Think Pierce Brosnan in Mamma Mia! or Russell Crowe in Les Misérables. But some choices have been inspired. Here are five A-list actors who surprised us all with their singing ability.
And five honourable mentions...
MERYL STREEP - With 3 Academy Awards and 8 Golden Globes, Streep is considered one of the best actresses of her generation. She can also hold a tune, starring in such musical adaptions as Mamma Mia (of course), Into the Woods and Mary Poppins Returns.
JOHNNY DEPP - Known for Edward Scissorhands, Pirates of the Caribbean and Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, he actually won a Golden Globe for his portrayal of the title character in Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.
AMANDA SEYFRIED - The star of Mean Girls and HBO's drama Big Love co-starred with Meryl Streep in Mamma Mia and also Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway, playing Cosette in Les Misérables.
EWAN MCGREGOR - McGregor's internation breakthrough came in Danny Boyle's 1996 film Trainspotting, and he is also known for playing the young Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Star Wars Trilogy, episodes I-III at the turn of the millennium. His voice really impressed us all when he starred alongside Nicole Kidman in 2001's Moulin Rouge!.
CATHERINE ZETA-JONES - Initially finding success with the British television series The Darling Buds of May and then Hollywood films such as The Mask of Zorro and Entrapment, Zeta-Jones won an Academy Award for her role in the 2002 musical Chicago.
You can download the .doc file above and open it in Word or Pages on your Mac. Have a practise! By clicking the Review tab in Word (as in the picture above) you can accept or reject the changes one-by-one, or you can accept all changes to the document with one click. Click on the 'Accept' button, which is just right of centre in the Review tab. To accept all changes, click the arrow just below the word 'Accept' and then click 'Accept all changes in Document'.
Make sure the 'track changes' button (dead centre in the Review tab, see above) is NOT pressed/selected. If it is, everything you type will come up underlined red.
Notice the vertical lines to the left of certain paragraphs. These inform you that changes have been made to those lines of text, just so you don't miss anything.
I charge £4 per 1,000 words for a proofread (minimum charge £4). Your edited document will appear with tracked changes like the picture above. Please contact me if interested!
There are lots of freelance editors out there. Proofreaders, copy-editors, line-editors... so much choice! Who should you go with?
Well, what's the difference?
Proofreaders analyse your manuscript for spelling, punctuation, grammar and syntax mistakes.
Copy-editors address all those errors, but also check your facts (very important for non-fiction) and consistency.
Line-editors address all of the above, but also your writing style, voice, and your story as a whole.
The other obvious concern is cost. Proofreaders usually charge between £5-8 per 1,000 words (I charge £4), copy-editors between £8-11 and line-editors from £12+. There are a couple of reasons for this. Line-editing takes longer than copy-editing, which takes longer than proofreading, but they also requires a different set of skills.
So which type of editor is right for you?
If you are thinking of submitting to literary agents (and I would absolutely recommend you do this before considering self-publishing) I do NOT think you need to pay for a line edit.
Because if you do land an agent they will then line edit your manuscript. And if they manage to sell your book to a publisher, the publishing house will then line edit it again.
Every editor has their preferred style. One editor might like your voice, or a certain character, or a plot twist, whilst another might not. One editor might think your story needs more pace, another might not.
The same with readers. Some readers will like your book. Some will not, no matter what you do to it. If you change it to suit a certain editor, the outcome stays the same: some readers will like your book, and some will not.
Changing any aspect of your story or your style to suit a specific editor is only worth doing if you know it will improve your chances of success.
If the line-editor combing through your manuscript is your agent, and you've done your research and you know they are successful in selling books to publishers, you can be confident they will add value. Also, your agent will do this for free. Your agent will know which publishers they intend to pitch to and will know (should know) what kind of stories and styles they buy.
If you do have the money to pay for a line edit and think that's the way to go, you want to find a line-editor who has a good track record helping authors get picked up by agents. Don't just look for qualifications. Experience is what matters.
Your writing style and your voice need to come from you. They cannot be outsourced. But how do you find your voice?
Write a lot. Write a lot and read a lot. It will come. There is no substitute for practise.
So. You've decided against a line edit. Why would you want a proofread?
It doesn't seem to matter how often you read through your manuscript, writers always seem to miss something. Maybe it's the wood for the trees.
Putting your finished manuscript aside for a few weeks before coming back to it does seem to help. But sometimes you need someone else's fresh eyes. I can catch those grammar slips we all miss from time to time. Point out the odd awkward phrase or that paragraph that doesn't quite make sense.
I won't tell you if I think a character is weak, or the piece needs restructuring, or it needs more pace. Why? Because that's all subjective, and I don't want to force my preferences on your manuscript. Other readers have different preferences.
So I won't tell you to change your story. But I will help you improve your writing. Grammar is not subjective. Agents will reject anything with poor grammar - don't let it spoil your chances! If you think you have a great book but know grammar is not your strong point, drop me an email. I can help.
Cost of my proofreading service is £4 per 1,000 words. I also offer a fiction submission package for £40 (cover letter, synopsis and first 10,000 words). More information here.
Most publishers require you to submit through a literary agent. That means, of course, you need to land a literary agent. We all know how hard that is. There are, however, a small number of independent publishers who do accept unagented submissions. Consider these guys.
HEAD OF ZEUS
HoZ won independent publisher of the year 2017, and it’s easy to see why. They publish genre fiction, children’s books and narrative non-fiction, including authors such as C. J. Box and Graham Masterton. They do accept unsolicited submissions via a submissions portal, but when it gets very busy they temporarily close. Check by periodically. Keep in mind it can take many months to get a reply. I waited six. This is their current website: http://headofzeus.com/ but they will be updating it shortly to this: https://uat.headofzeus.com/home?_ga=2.135399476.466581387.1566109317-1495559976.1561452066
One of the UK’s leading independent publishers of crime, thriller and mystery fiction, Joffe Books publishes Helen H. Durrant, Joy Ellis and Faith Martin amongst others. They accept submissions from unagented authors – even if you’ve self published your book (a lot of publishers don’t).
Check out their submission guidelines here: http://www.joffebooks.com/submissions
BLACK AND WHITE
An independent publisher based in Scotland. They publish most genres of fiction and some non-fiction. Their children’s book imprint Itchy Coo sounds like thrush. Submissions are via a contact form, and they can take up to six months to make a decision.
A leading independent publisher of crime, thriller and mystery fiction, authors include the bestselling Rob Sinclair and Betsy Reavley. Submissions close temporarily if they’re too busy. Your MS should be at least 60,000 words, and they aim to respond within four weeks.
Polis Books is currently accepting submissions of thrillers, women’s and genre fiction and non-fiction in the areas of humour, pop culture and true crime. They aim to make a decision in 12 weeks.
Founded in 2014, Crooked Lane Books publishes crime, thriller and mystery fiction. They will reply within two weeks if they’re interested in your submission.
SEVENTH STREET BOOKS
A publisher of thrillers and mystery fiction, Seventh Street Books publishes the award-winning Lori Rader-Day and Allen Eskens. Submit the full MS and a three-paragraph synopsis.
A small digital publisher of crime, thriller and commercial fiction. Submissions are via contact form, and they aim to reply within three months.
A digital publisher looking for Crime Fiction, Mysteries, Thrillers, Women’s Fiction, Romantic Fiction, Historical Fiction, Action and Adventure (Military, Naval and Aviation Fiction) and History.
One of the top independent publishers in the United States, Kensington Publishing accepts submissions in all genres except children’s, YA and poetry. As per usual US guidelines, only submit a query in the first instance, no manuscript. They will reply within three months if interested.
Best of luck with your submissions! As a thriller writer myself, I know what a daunting, frustrating, infuriating task submitting to publishers and agents is. Your initial submission, which usually consists of a cover letter, synopsis and sample chapters, needs to be perfect. Why not check out my proofreading services? £40 for a proofread of your cover letter, synopsis and first 10,000 words of your MS.
Also, be sure to check out my highly rated thrillers, MEMORIES UNSPEAKABLE and SHARK BAIT! SHARK BAIT was a finalist in A.M. Heath's Criminal Lines Competition 2015 and reached the acquisition boards of both Orion and Harlequin Harper Collins.
The melody is a smooth, gentle lullaby. Simple at first, it recurs three times, becoming more decorated with each playing. The left hand is reminiscent of the chordal leaps of stride piano, albeit with a waltz feel and at a much slower tempo! It is this left hand that really challenges the player, with Nocturne in Eb coming in around Grade 8 standard.
All of Chopin's music is in the public domain, and you can download the full version here: https://www.mutopiaproject.org/ftp/ChopinFF/O9/chopin_nocturne_op9_n2/chopin_nocturne_op9_n2-a4.pdf
If you are looking for a simpler arrangement, my book FAVOURITE CHILDREN'S CLASSICS FOR PIANO includes a Grade 1 standard arrangement of this piece, as well as 24 other classical masterpieces. It is available on Amazon here for £5.99.
If you are an aspiring writer, a grasp of good grammar is essential. Today we will look at apostrophes, when and how to use them and how not to use them.
There are a few occasions when an apostrophe is needed.
1) Single quotes. Not strictly 'apostrophes', I've included them because you at least have to press the apostrophe key on your keyboard. There are two types of quote mark - the single quote (which uses the apostrophe key) and the double quote (which is SHIFT 2 on the keyboard).
In prose, one set of quote marks is used to denote speech. Usually it's the double, but single quotes can also be used. It depends upon the author and publisher. I prefer to use double quotes for speech, as I find single quotes can sometimes look messy when combined with other apostrophes in the sentence.
Double quotes - "I need to go to the doctor's," I said.
Single quotes - 'I need to go to the doctor's,' I said.
Both are acceptable.
The other set of quote marks are used for highlighting an important word, like 'apostrophes' in the sentence Not strictly 'apostrophes', I've included... or for quoting words from a passage of text or speech. If you use double quotes for speech, use single quotes for highlighting and quoting, and vice-versa.
e.g. 1 "Do you know what she said?" I asked. "She said, 'Why don't you just leave?', and so I did."
'Do you know what she said?' I asked. 'She said, "Why don't you just leave?", and so I did.'
e.g. 2 Mark Twain once said that golf was 'a good walk spoilt'.
Mark Twain once said that golf was "a good walk spoilt".
So, make a choice! Direct speech using one type of quote mark, highlighting and quoting using the other. But as I said, I prefer double quotes for speech.
2) Contractions and missed-out letters. What is a contraction? It is making something smaller. In writing, a contraction is when two words are squashed together to make one word.
Did not becomes didn't.
Have not becomes haven't.
Would not becomes wouldn't.
Could have becomes could've
The rule is simple. The two words are squashed together. A letter is omitted (usually the 'o' from not). An apostrophe is used in place of the missed-out letter.
In the contractions could have / would have / should have (remember, it is NOT would of or should of!) the words get squashed together and we omit the first two letters of 'have' and put in an apostrophe.
And then there is one of my pet peeves: the misuse of your and you're! Your means something belonging to you. You're is the contraction of you are. See the apostrophe? It means there's a letter missing, and that two words have been contracted - make sure you learn the difference!
You may wonder if you can contract the three-word 'would not have' into the mega contraction wouldn't've. The answer is... no! Wouldn't've is not a word. Use wouldn't have.
Also, use an apostrophe if you have missed off a letter in slang. People commonly miss off the g sound in ing -
"That is frickin' brilliant!"
3) Possession. This is the trickiest rule to grasp. You use an apostrophe to show that something belongs to something else. Whenever you are wondering whether to use an apostrophe or not, phrase the sentence thus:
The such-and-such belonging to such-and-such.
The pen belonging to the girl.
The car belonging to Harry.
Now, the pen belonging to the girl means that it's the girl's pen. And it's also Harry's car. You add an apostrophe s (which looks like this: 's) to the end of the owner. BUT! Only if the owner is singular. That is, if there is only one girl, and only one Harry.
These are singular possessives.
One girl, one pen? The girl's pen.
One girl, many pens? The girl's pens.
But what if the singular word ends in s? Like something belonging to Chris, or belonging to the bus?
There is some conflict between styles, unfortunately. Most style guides say you should still add apostrophe s ('s), just like any other singular possession. Chris's hat. The bus's wheels. This is what I much prefer and would recommend.
Some of the more modern style guides say you need only use an apostrophe. Chris' hat. The bus' wheels. I sigh at that.
The most important thing is to pick a style and stick to it.
You also have plural possessives.
It sounds complicated, but isn't really. Plural just means more than one. Again, we are talking about the owner. Is there more than one girl, and they've thrown all their pens into a pile?
Again, phrase the sentence thus:
The pens belonging to the girls.
Notice that girls is now plural, because there is more than one girl. You do NOT add apostrophe s. You just add the apostrophe: The girls' pens.
The toys belonging to the boys? The boys' toys. (plural)
But if one boy has lots of toys? The boy's toys. (singular)
Look at what comes before the apostrophe. boys' = boys (lots of boys). Boy's = boy (one boy).
Most plural words end in s, and you follow this rule. But what happens if a plural does not end in s? Like children, or men. Then you add apostrophe s ('s) again!
The classroom belonging to the children - the children's classroom.
The beer belonging to the men - the men's beer.
It is NOT childrens' classroom, or mens' beer. Again, look at what comes before the apostrophe. Childrens is not a word, and neither is mens. The pural is children, and so you use apostrophe s.
To be a little technical, possessive apostrophes are only used for nouns, not pronouns. Here are some possessive pronouns: my, mine, your, yours, his, her, hers, its.
You do NOT use apostrophes for these possessive pronouns. The most confusing ones are the ones ending in s. Yours, hers and its. You do not write that pen is your's or that is her's. You write that pen is yours and that is hers.
Its is the most confusing, because there is a word it's, but this is a contraction of it is!
So only write it's if you mean it is.
It's raining outside.
Its wheels fell off. (You do not need an apostrophe for a possessive pronoun!)
When not to use apostrophes. Commonly, people will mistakenly use apostrophes to make plurals out of numbers and letters. You do not need an apostrophe in this sentence:
Can all the number 7's stand up? Now all the B's.
It should be
Can all the number 7s stand up? Now all the Bs.
1) Don't neglect sight reading! Such an important skill. Don't leave til last minute!
2) For G1 hands never play together, they never move/stretch and range is just 5 notes. When hands are in position DON'T MOVE THEM!
3) No need to work out each individual note. Follow the steps vs leaps. Leaps from line-line or space-space = skip a note/finger. Larger intervals can be worked out during the 30 seconds along with the starting note for both hands!
4) Identify what's in the key signature and place fingers on corresponding sharps/flats before beginning. During the 30 seconds scan the piece to identify accidentals.
5) Count 1,2,3 in head to get pulse if in 3 time.
6) Play it SLOWLY, no matter the #tempo direction!
7) Clapping games can develop a recognition of rhythmic phrases. Practise especially subdivision; clapping #crotchets to #quavers etc.
8) But remember the most important thing: KEEP GOING. Don't repeat stumbled phrases, don't go back and correct - don't stop! Students possibly find this the hardest to manage!
It's a good idea to hear how your story sounds out loud, especially if you've written a picture book parents are going to read to their children. There are programs that do this - read text out loud. Else you could get someone to read it to you or record yourself reading it and listen to it back.
Obviously, grammar and spelling need to be perfect before you send it off, which is why it's a good idea to put the manuscript aside for a few weeks (I usually wait 5 or 6); it's amazing how many errors you can find on re-reading with fresh eyes. You may want to join a writing community like www.mywriterscircle.com (I've been a member for many years and it's helped me a lot).
Few reputable publishers accept unsolicited submissions anymore, but there are a few medium sized traditional publishers that do, with Andersen Press probably being the best. I made a blog post listing them here: http://www.walkerproductions.co.uk/blog/13-reputable-uk-childrens-publishers-accepting-unsolicited-submissions
So going the agent route is probably best to start with. They will sell your MS to the best publisher in return for 15% commission. Every writer should have a copy of the current Writers' and Artists' Yearbook http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1408192454/ (the new 2016 edition is out in July), which lists who does what in UK publishing.
Make sure you research any prospective agents thoroughly online before submitting anything. Does their website look professional? Have they successfully sold books in your genre? Most are members of the Association of Authors' Agents, although some reputable agencies are not. Just have a look at what they've sold. Then decide who to send the MS to. The larger agencies have many agents working for them, so you should read their profiles and select the best fit and address your submission to them. Always follow their submission guidelines. Most are either email or form submissions, which is handy (although I have had a few subs and replies lost in the ether from time to time). Usually they ask for the full MS for picture books, either as a Word or PDF file (be aware that formatting may be lost if they have a different version of Word to you). For longer works the first three chapters and a synopsis is usually requested. The synopsis is not a blurb or teaser, but a concise summary of the main plot, including the ending. Try to get it onto one page of A4. Everything, including the synopsis, should be double spaced (select all and press ctrl +2), 12 point Times New Roman, no space between paragraphs unless starting a new section. In other words, the complete opposite of how I've formatted this blog post.
Put your address and contact details, the title, your name and the word count on the title page. Make sure you number the pages. Attach the file(s)to a cover email which introduces you and your work.
Dear [agent's name],
Please find attached my picture book/novel, TITLE IN CAPS (word count). [Short summary of the novel, no more than three sentences, then a little about yourself].
Don't say your daughter and her classmates loved it. Don't say the agent will be missing out on loads of money if they turn it down. Don't say it could be a movie and you will write the script.
Select about a dozen agents and submit to them simultaneously. That is a perfectly standard thing to do, unless they specifically say they only accept exclusive submissions. Do not CC them all in to the same email though!
Expect to wait between 1 and 3 months, and if you haven't heard back send a polite email enquiring whether they received your submission OK.
Everyone gets rejection. Don't let it bother you. They are almost always form rejections that say about how your work is not quite right for their list. But if they take the time to write you a personal rejection treat it like gold dust and treasure it.
If you run out of agents, try the publishers listed on my blog. Then you may want to look at self-publishing (note: use a Print-On-Demand company like Lulu.com where there are no set-up fees. You do not want to be paying vanity publishers thousands of pounds for them to dump 100 books on your doorstep). That's the main thing you need to keep in mind: "money should flow towards the author, not the other way round". You do not want to be paying publishers or agents anything apart from commission and 'expenses' like photocopying and proof copies. Publishers make their money by selling books. Agents make their money on commission from selling books. Do not hand over any money unless they have sold something.