A Bit About Me
I’ve been writing stories ever since I learned to read as a young child. English was my favourite subject at school and books were a great escape. I used to hide myself away in corners with books which I borrowed from the library and also from my parents’ bookshelves. Many of them were probably quite unsuitable but I devoured them anyway!
I read English at Reading University and then trained as a journalist with the Thomson Newspaper Graduate Training Scheme. After that, I went on to write for various magazines including Drapers Record, Parents and Woman’s Own before turning freelance when I became a regular contributor to The Times, Daily Telegraph and many other publications. After my first marriage ended, I took a job as a writer in residence of a high-security male prison which gave me a darker voice!
Now I am a full-time Penguin novelist although I am also a hands-on grandmother. I write Diary Of A Modern Granny in the online version of My Weekly magazine. To download free, click here. I live by the sea with my second husband and love wild water swimming, tennis, walking and reading - as well, of course, writing!
Do look out for my short story in Woman’s Weekly magazine on Wednesday May 6!
RAIL POSTER ALERT!
Posters advertising my new novel ‘I MADE A MISTAKE’ will be on mainline
stations throughout the UK from Monday June 1. Please Tweet me a
picture of yourself next to the poster! @janecorryauthor
A LIFE BY THE SEA
I’ve always wanted to live by the sea but it took me several years to get here! Now I run along the seafront every morning and swim (in a wet suit) for about seven months of the year. I love watching the tide going in and out. Near my desk I have a sign that says ‘By the sea, all worries wash away’. The water inspires my writing. I often find I get ideas as I walk along the beach with our dog.
Do follow me on Instagram!
As a journalist, I’ve interviewed many celebrities over the years including David Essex, Julie Walters, Pam Ayres, Barbara Windsor and and Barbara Dickson. I once had to ask them for inspirational quotes. This came from the author and agony aunt Clare Rayner. I like it because it reminds me that if you hit a tough time in life, it won’t go on for ever. Yet at the same time, you should enjoy the good stuff when it lasts!
"All things must pass"
Whenever you go to a new place, buy a postcard. Pin it on the board in your study. It will help you to describe settings in your book.
"How To Get Published" by Clare Cooper
Fresh from the Sidmouth Literary Festival’s popular “How To Get Published” panel, Woman’s Weekly’s ex Deputy Fiction Editor, Clare Cooper, shares her top writing tips with you.
Before you start, study your targeted magazine’s guidelines, plus as many issues as you can. You should know your market, word counts, presentation, forbidden (and well-worn) themes, etc, as this will save you potential heartache and frustration later on.
Editors can usually tell in the first sentence and certainly the first paragraph, if it will be what they are looking for. We look for the same things you do: A story that’s going to draw us in, intrigue us enough to carry on reading, with believable characters in believable situations. We all love stories that make us laugh and cry. And think. Broaden our horizons a little. Educate us. Entertain us in some way.
Do your research. Check your facts before you send in your story. Small details can make or break its integrity and believability and it’s your name, not the editor’s, on the byline. Get someone else to read your story for you, too. A fresh eye is vital. We are too close to our own work and can’t always see any errors.
Don’t beat yourself up if you become stuck on a particular story. Put it to one side and start on something new. You might want to go back to your original story another day, or you might not. Nothing is wasted; incorporate bits of it into your next story, if you can. You haven’t failed. It’s all fodder!
Reasons for rejection: Well-worn themes, no real surprises/too predictable/guessable. Plots not strong enough. Weak and jokey endings. Far-fetched plots. Disjointed stories that appear to be about more than one thing and don’t have a clear central plot. These “errors” can be worked on, so don’t despair. Try again. Stick a surprise in there somewhere, an unexpected (but not too far-fetched) twist, strengthen the plot, tweak the ending. Sometimes it’s as simple as swapping paras around. Or even, in some cases, cutting two pages down to one. If you are stuck on a story, try this tip: If your story is in the first person, try it in the third, or vice versa. If you are struggling to get under the skin of your main character, try writing your story from another character’s point of view. It could turn out to be a completely different story.
Editors know what their readers want and usually have years of experience and market research behind them. Take any advice on the chin and learn from it. Be flexible. Build a good relationship with your editors. It may not get you any more acceptances than anyone else but who wants to be remembered as someone who is stroppy and difficult to deal with? Editors are your allies, not your enemies. It’s in both your interests to be able to use your stories.
Try to get into the habit of writing something every day, even if it’s “only” your diary (when you become rich and famous, you can publish that as well). Never leave the house without a notebook and pen, or some other means of jotting down any random thoughts and ideas that spring to mind. Everything is fodder, as I said before.
Good luck and happy writing!
[C] Clare Cooper, 2018
PS: I can recommend the online website WOMAG (womagwriter) for up-to-the-minute information, advice and support on all aspects of writing for magazines. It’s run by prolific short story writer, blogger and novelist Patsy Collins (married name Davies) and I have written three pieces for her to date. Go to: https://womagwriter.blogspot.co.uk
My own blog, which includes a light-hearted look at magazine life and more writing tips, can be found at: claredotcooper.wordpress.com, under the site title “Hampton Caught”.
WORLD BOOK NIGHT on THURSDAY APRIL 23
I’m over the moon that THE DEAD EX has been selected as one of 26
books to help promote WORLD BOOK NIGHT. Free copies are being sent
out to organisations to encourage reading. I hope that my story of a woman
who can’t get her ex out of her head, will get you turning the pages! Check
out this amazing event at www.worldbooknight.org
EVENTS FOR 2020
Sunday 3 May. 3pm. Women in Gangland: Marnie Riches; Simone
Buchholz; Anna Smith; Jane Corry
THE ART OF WRITING. June 8 – 11.
Learn how to write a book during one of Lisa Clifford’s’ famous writing
courses in Florence. I am the guest author and tutor. There will also be
sessions by Lisa Clifford and Matthew Ferrara. For details, visit
THE SIDMOUTH LITERARY FESTIVAL
June 12 – 14.
We’ve got some great names lined up – including a HOW TO GET
PUBLISHED DAY where you can meet leading agents and editors. For
more details, visit
TALK AT HILLINGDON LIBRARY
Wednesday June 24. This is what the publicity material says! Acclaimed,
bestselling novelists Jane Corry and Nuala Ellwood will be talking about
their gripping new psychological thrillers, I Made A Mistake and The House
On The Lake, as well as discussing their writing careers and Jane’s time
working in a high security prison. This event is completely free but spaces
are limited. Please book by emailing email@example.com.
TALK AT LONG CRENDON LIBRARY, SEPTEMBER 15 PM.
APPLEDORE FESTIVAL, Devon. 2pm. I’ll be helping you to write along
with fellow author Heidi Perks.
PERFECT CRIME FESTIVAL, LIVERPOOL. Saturday November 14.
SEE YOU THERE!