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Terms And Conditions Tags: writing agreements

Terms and Conditions

How often do you do something on the computer and it asks you to agree to the terms and conditions? How many of us read these before hitting “I agree”?

            This is where I have to raise my hand too.

            Usually this is not a problem, but on occasions you really should read the small print and know what you might be signing up to or more significantly for a writer, signing away. If you don’t it can mean forfeiting ownership of your story or poem.

            This issue has come to notice over recent months because of a change at Woman’s Weekly, a UK magazine which buys fiction regularly. The new owners of the company have changed writers’ contracts so that instead of buying fiction with ‘first rights’, they now demand ‘all rights’ from their authors. Many established women’s’ fiction authors are furious because if they sell their work to Woman’s Weekly under these new terms they will no longer be able to re-use it (in an anthology for example), claim ALCS royalties or even be credited as the author of the work – although the new Woman’s Weekly management have said this wouldn’t happen.

Woman’s Weekly is not the only women’s magazine to demand all rights so if you want to reuse your work you must check the contract you are signing.

Similarly, some, less scrupulous competitions also require ‘all rights’ from entrants, even if you work is not a winner. This means effectively that you’ve lost the piece— you can’t enter it elsewhere and you can’t rewrite it.

            So, in short, it pays to check the terms and conditions carefully before entering a competition or signing an agreement.

            If in doubt, ask for guidance. Query with organiser. In the UK The Society of Authors is one organisation that gives advice and contract vetting for members.

            For more information about the new Woman’s Weekly contract see the article 

or check out the Womag Writer blog 

 

           

Words Good Enough to Eat
Category: Writing
Tags: Writers Abroad ex-pat writers food writing

 

"Food, like sex, is a writer’s great opportunity. It offers material that is both universal and intensely personal." (Choice Cuts by Mark Kurlansky, about the history of food writing).

Eating is an essential function, but food is also one of life's pleasures. Equally, if you were a Roman emperor or an enemy of the Borgias, eating could be a hazardous enterprise. Food, or lack of it, has been the cause of wars, social change (the Irish famine) and political upheaval (the Russian Revolution). Plenty of scope here for writers.

The early food writers associated food with a wider philosophy. The Chinese wrote about its uses in medicine and healthy lifestyle. The Greek philosopher Epicurus linked it with his theory that good comes from pleasure and evil from pain. Later on, the French savant Brillat-Savarin devised a social theory around diet: "Tell me what you eat and I will tell you who you are."

The best writers about food, whether fiction or non-fiction, have the ability to stir up not only tastes, textures and scents, but also a sense of time, place and setting (not just place-setting). Like all writing, it's about showing rather than telling; making the reader experience what is around the plate as well as on it.

I plan to use food more in my historical fiction, since it can say so much about a character's background and the prevailing social and cultural situation.

One of my favourite non-fiction food books is Elizabeth David's French Provincial Cooking, first published in 1960. My well-thumbed copy is shown at the top. Britain had emerged from the throes of post-war rationing only a few years before, and food was plain and unadventurous.

David's book burst onto the culinary scene, with its wonderful descriptions of meals in off-the-beaten-track French auberges, composed of colourful and exotic (then) ingredients. French Provincial Cooking is much more than a recipe book: it's packed full of erudite musings on food and literary anecdotes. 

Nineteenth-century novels are particularly rich in food description. Emile Zola's Le Ventre de Paris (The Belly of Paris) takes place in and around les Halles in Paris, the sprawling food market, which, sadly, has moved to the suburbs. His extensive descriptions of the food stalls are a metaphor for the contrast between plenty and the poverty of many of Paris' inhabitants.

Some fiction writers have used food as an integral part of the story. Joanne Harris' Chocolat is an obvious one. Her description of a birthday meal near the end of the novel has me salivating each time I read it. In Laura Esquivel's Like Water for Chocolate, the food that the main character, Tita, cooks is imbued with whatever emotion she feels while preparing it. Her dishes can move people to tears or ecstasy.

Here is a list of novels that focus on food. 

And if you want to try your fictional food writing skills, the annual Mogford Food & Drink Short Story Prize opens for entries on 5th November 2018 and offers a very tasty prize of £10,000.  

Which writers do you think cook up evocative descriptions of food?

Box of Inspirations
Category: Writing
Tags: inspiration artefacts writing memoir aids

Box of inspirations

 

 

I’m in the process of decluttering. Sorting out a lifetime’s accumulated junk. Wondering why on earth I have held on to so much stuff for so long.

 

But it’s not hard to hang on to the implements with which you’ve written so many words through your life: notes, letters (many many letters), cheques, contracts, shopping lists, thoughts, story ideas - the stories themselves, poems, and reminders. 

 

Rifling through my box of pencils I can remember where I was and what was going on in my life just by holding each one.

 

Do you remember when I used my big bulging button tin as my inspiration for my 2014 nano novel? It wasn’t a personal memoir, but I used it to help my protagonist (with dementia) remember poignant moments in her life. 

 

 

And so it is with these pens and pencils. In just the first handful I see the gold Sheaffer fountain pen I had for signing contracts when I was an IT consultant.  There’s the ICL training pencil from fabulous programming courses at ICL Beaumont near Windsor many years ago (oh those wonderful work colleagues.) And a multitude from hotels across the globe (oh those trips.) So many memories are all buried here in this clutch of pens and pencils.

 

 

Then there is this - the pencil from the Public Record Office in Kew where, in the early 1990s, I researched my mysterious father. This was before access to wartime records via the internet. This was when you had an appointment at the Public Record Office in Kew, were given a pencil (and only a pencil) with which to make notes. When requests were sent to the archives. When you waited for old yellowing original hand written files to be ‘brought up’. This was when I found what happened to my father, Pilot Officer  FJ Roberts RCAF DFM (the medal of courage), when he and fellow crew members were shot down in their Lancaster JB400 (L for La Loupe) of RAF 103 Squadron. It was the 5th Berlin Raid. I was five days old. And he was just 22. 

 

 

And this is why I took up writing again.

 

 

 

Do you have an old pencil box filled with memories?  With inspirations??

 

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