Anna Wharton: How to pitch an article the short and snappy way

Today, I’m delighted to welcome Anna Wharton aboard. I first met Anna when she emailed to ask if I could answer a few questions about living on a boat, for an article about dream homes. Of course I said yes – I’ll talk for hours to anyone about boat life – but warned, in exchange, that I might send a few questions her way as well. As a journalist, features editor and now freelance writer, she seemed like the perfect person to give us freelance-article-writing-wannabes the inside track. And I was right.   Anna, could you give us a brief outline of your career path, and tell us a little bit about what you’re doing now? I started out, like many journalists, on my local newspaper. Back then it was a pretty big operation, with 14...

Cuckoo in the Nest

I met Emma Yates-Badley in the first year of my MA, and got to know her better during a run of writing retreats, first at Lumb Bank and then Moniack Mhor. A week of sharing workshops, writing time and readings-aloud at an Arvon centre is a bonding process, and I’m massively excited to see Emma taking the bold step which she talks about here in  Not the Guardian Family Section: “If you dare nothing, then when the day is over, nothing is all you will have gained.” ― Neil Gaiman, The Graveyard Book   When I was a little girl, my image of life was pretty simplistic:  school was something to be endured and Adulthood would be the prize for surviving adolescence (I have just reread my teenage diaries and, yes, I really was that dramatic).  One day I’d be all...

David Hartley and his fellow Merry Gentlemen

  Gloomy by teatime? Check. Streets filled with wooden stalls claiming some Germanic origin? Check. Saxophone guy playing carols? Well, let’s just say we won’t need to be guessing how Last Christmas goes come December 25th… So it’s a merry scene in Manchester. Some would say a time of good cheer, awaft with aroma of pine needles and cinnamon, and the heated scent of money sliding out of the cash machines. But it’s never as simple as that in Manchester, is it? In the city that brought us the industrial revolution, a place with a plain-speaking background of non-conformism and Engels, it would never do to let yourself be carried away by all the seductive wrappings of surface frivolity. If you are in need of a corrective,...

Does a review need to be mean to be admissible?

I’d not come across the Sydney Review of Books before a pingback landed in my inbox this week. If you’re not quite sure what a pingback is, here is Wikipedia on the subject: A pingback is one of three types of linkback methods for Web authors to request notification when somebody links to one of their documents. This enables authors to keep track of who is linking to, or referring to their articles. Sounds good, huh? I clicked on the link to see what it was all about, and started to read what initially seemed to be a thoughtful piece, by academic Dr Ben Etherington of the University of Western Sydney, about the means by which a novel becomes a Big Book in publishing terms. Except it turned out to be not so much a thoughtful discussion as a personal attack on the...

The Good Life (or How to Make a Home)

Today, in Not the Guardian Family Section, writer Kate Lord Brown muses on loss, the skeletons in family closets, and how to create a home in an uncertain world. ‘If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton you may as well make it dance’ George Bernard Shaw We live in uncertain times. Protests in the West, uprisings in the East, even Brand is baiting Paxo with calls for revolution. A recent article in The Telegraph claimed that we’ll never have it so good again. It was a thought that struck me over the summer, packing up one, two, three, houses – dismantling three remarkable family lives. They are the kind of homes I would love my children to grow up in – with apple orchards, and attics crammed with nonsense, junk and forgotten treasures. My grandmother, in...

Robert Graham: When You Were A Mod, I Was A Rocker

It’s great to be a writer in Manchester at the moment. There are just so many talented people working in the area. The Manchester Literature Festival may be coming to an end, having showcased more local writers than ever, but all year you can find quality spoken word events around every corner. Speaking of which, the ninth Chorlton Book Festival is about to kick off. With all the featured guests having Chorlton connections, this ‘makes the M21 arguably the City’s most literary suburb.’ Well, I’ll leave you to argue about that one. But, as a trailblazer event, this Saturday sees the launch of a new collection of short stories with a difference. Robert Graham grew up in Belfast and now lives in Manchester. When You Were a Mod, I Was a...

Blackberries in the Freezer

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I love free stuff. LOVE it. So blackberries are one of my favourite things. But they’re more than that. They are one of the more essential markers for my year, and a continuing link to everyone I’ve ever been. And I can promise that, when I’m an old lady, wherever I end up, I’ll still be out there filling my plastic boxes and getting my fingertips stained purple. I grew up in a little village in Wiltshire. It was the village where my mother and my grandfather had been born. When I was a child, back in the Seventies, it was still the sort of village where everyone knew everybody, all very Laurie Lee. The same things happened every year: the carnival; the sponsored walk to raise money for the village hall; the candlelit...