Welcome to The Crafty Writer

Welcome to The Crafty Writer. I assume that as you’re visiting this site, you are a writer or someone who is interested in writing. Then you’re in the right place (unfortunately that domain name was already taken!). My name is Fiona Veitch Smith and I am a professional writer and writing tutor who started sharing thoughts on the craft and business of writing on my other website http://www.veitchsmith.com/. But as that site was also full of articles I had written on other subjects, from lifestyle to spirituality, some users asked me to put all my writing articles and advice on a separate site just for them. And so The Crafty Writer was born.

Why The Crafty Writer? Well, as anyone who has ever tried their hand at writing knows, sheer talent is not enough. Writing is both an art and a craft. The art is found in the inspiration and raw talent of the writer, the craft is found in the determination to make the writing professional and marketable. And that’s where the business comes in. Of course you can just write for pleasure, and many people do, but this site is aimed at people who want to make some money out of writing, or at least to see their name in print. Yes, there are thousands of markets for your writing, but you’ll be competing against thousands, nay hundreds of thousands, of other writers with the same goal. And it’s only the crafty writer who will rise to the top of the slush pile.

To begin with I plan to post some articles aimed at freelance magazine writers on how to protect your copyright, how to get started in feature writing and how to make sure you get paid for work done. For fiction writers I’ll be doing a series on writing for children and young people based on the very successful courses I’ve run through the Centre for Lifelong Learning in the NE of England. I also plan to look at ghostwriting, and possibly also share some thoughts on writing for the Christian market.

So check back in a few days to see how things are progressing…

And that’s just for starters. If there’s anything you would like to know about writing, please post a comment and I’ll answer to the best of my ability. And if I don’t know the answer, I’ll put you in touch with someone who does.

And now I’d better get back to some writing …


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  4. The Crafty Writer Book Club is Open!
  5. Tips from a ‘generalist’ freelance writer

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10 comments on “Welcome to The Crafty Writer

  1. Fiona Veitch Smith on said:

    Hi Andrew, welcome to the Crafty Writer. I assume that Steve P is our mutual acquintance. As you may know, I’m going to be critiqueing Steve’s novel and will be addressing the same concerns with him. Christian fiction in this country is very hard to market. Some publishers, such as Monarch and Scripture Union (for young people) do publish some, but not, as far as I know, Christian science fiction – do you hear CS Lewis turning in his grave? Your main market of course will be the US. But Christian publishing there is very prescriptive in what it will and will not publish. A very good, if controversial, talk was given on the subject at Greenbelt a few years ago by Science Fiction / fantasy writer Simon Morden. You can read the text of it here http://www.bookofmorden.co.uk/essays/sexdeathchristian.html
    When you say your book is Christian Science Fiction, how ‘Christian’ is it? Could it be considered by a mainstream publisher? Sometimes you need to cut your cloth to the patterns available. There are subtle ways of doing this. In fact, that’s given me an idea for another article – why not subscribe to my feed and be notified automatically as new content is added?
    Keep on writing.

  2. Andrew Harvey on said:

    Hello Fiona
    I’ve just been given details of the new site / blog from a fellow member of the ACW, and I would like to say thanks for opening the forum.
    I’m a totally untrained writer who suddenly woke up one morning with a short story in my mind. That was in 2000. The short story is now two chapters of a novel, which in turn is one book of a trilogy. In the process, I have found that I like writing!
    My problem is that I have writen the kind og book I would like to read – adult Christian science fiction – and as far as I can tell no one wants to publish ANYTHING in that category. Am I alone in thinking this, or does anyone out there know of a publisher who might even consider such a work? Even a proper reject slip would be better than a ‘we don’t look at that sort of thing!’
    Whatever, I’ll keep on writing.

  3. Andrew Harvey on said:

    Thanks Fiona
    Simon’s talk was very helpful and I’d not come across it before as I’m still very much a newcomer in the world of Christian writing.
    Yes, Steve is our mutual contact – I’ve read and total enjoyed his 1st 2 books and await the 3rd with great interest.
    My books are probably too overtly Christian to be taken by a commercial publisher – they deal with the contrast between fallen humans and an unfallen race on a far distant planet; initially at the personal level and then progressing to the inevitable conclusion. Book 1 deals with conversions, book 2 (incomplete) is more descriptive of the planet and the people, and book 3 sees the unfallen planet brought to a premature end by the influx of humanity.
    Maybe they are only my apprentice piece and will never go anywhere, but as yet I have no inspiration for a different work.
    I will be reading your new article as soon as it gets published.

  4. Fiona Veitch Smith on said:

    Hi Andrew,
    Your premise doesn’t sound too Christian at all – the metaphor is quite acceptable for a non-Christian market. But it depends on your treatment of it, of course. As you say, it’s the book that’s in you so it has to come out. It’s also a very realistic attitude to see it as a an ‘apprenticeship’ – all good writers have a pile of unpublishe work in their drawer. And doesn’t Simon Morden say you need to write 500,000 words before you find your voice? That’s a lot of words.
    I’m hoping to do an overview of the Christian publishing market soon – who publishes what – hope that will help you a little. In the meantime, enjoy the other articles on the site and invite some friends along for a chat!
    All the best

  5. Steve Pillinger on said:

    Hi Fiona and Andrew,

    Interesting to follow your exchange! After reading that article by Simon Morden with his scathing denunciation of the CBA, it looks like I can forget about finding a Christian publisher for my books! Though you might have a better chance, Andrew.

    I can thoroughly identify with Morden’s whole approach to Christian writing, and (as you know, Andrew!) I certainly have sex and violence in my books — though only as the plot demands, not purely for their own sake. As Morden says, the situation often just compels it — that is just how THOSE characters would behave! Character autonomy rules, OK.

    BUT, at the same time, I have an overtly Christian basis to my books, and some of the CBA’s ‘criteria’ that Morden lists do indeed apply to them — characters are converted, prayers are answered, etc.; though not too immediately or easily, I hope. BUT I also know that in NO way are my stories ‘message-driven’!! I certainly did not set out to get a particular message across. I set out to write a story with a Christian worldview and Christian characters, that _I_ would enjoy reading. The story flowed out of the initial plot setup and the characters — it was not predetermined, and many things happened ‘accidentally’ en route!

    So where do I stand? Seems as though I fall neatly between the two stools! No good to the CBA because of the sex & violence; no good to secular publishers because of mixing overt Christianity with my fiction.

    Probably the only solution will be self-publishing (if even remotely possible financially!). But I look forward with great interest, Fiona, (a) to your promised overview of the Christian publishing market; and (b), of course, to your critique of my first novel. (Oops! Haven’t reached that 500,000-word minimum yet! About halfway…)

    More power to your pens (or kilowatts to your keyboards!),

    – Steve.

  6. Fiona Veitch Smith on said:

    Hi Steve,
    I thought you weren’t going to be lured back into one of these internet fora? Ha! I must just point out to you and Andrew that I’ve never had adult Christian fiction published, so I’m not the absolute guru on this. I have tried to – I wrote a book about Judas Iscariot with Christian themes but a good dose of sex and violence. It was rejected by American publishers because of the sex and violence and I never tried sending it to a British publisher. I did however get a secular critique from Hilary Anderson that it fell between two camps. I still think it’s one of the best things I’ve written and will resurrect it again one day.
    While I’m in danger here of saying everything before that hotly anticipated article (which I still need to find time to write!) I don’t believe the secular market is so adverse to spiritual themes, just overtly evangelical ones. I was extremely encouraged by the publication of Shadowmancer – albeit a children’s book. This book shows that, if carefully handled, spiritual themes are welcomed. You might want to read Abidemi Sanusi’s view on Christian themes in fiction http://www.christianwriter.co.uk/Publisher/Article.aspx?id=56278
    Now, back to writing.

  7. Steve Pillinger on said:

    Hi Fiona,

    Ah, well, seeing this is YOUR forum and all, I allowed myself to get lured back in!

    Sorry to hear you had a book rejected by the Americans because of sex & violence. I’ll be interested (eventually!) to read what you have to say about the secular market not being so averse to Christian themes. Mind you, I don’t think Shadowmancer is the best example — he had to self-publish first, didn’t he, before it was picked up by Faber & Faber?

    Thanks for the Sanusi link. Have had a glance, but need to look at it more carefully.

    Now back to revising Mindbenders for you!

    — Steve.

  8. Fiona Veitch Smith on said:

    Hi Steve,

    Yes, Shadowmancer was self- published at first, but that shows you that the thing that stopped publishers taking it up in the first place was the fear that Christian themes were not comercially viable. When Taylor’s self-publishing enterprise showed them the contrary, then their so-called aversion to Christian themes suddenly went out the window! It’s sold millions, both here and abroad, and has been made into a Hollywood film – still to be released. I think it’s a major breakthrough for Christian fiction, showing there’s still an appetite for such things in apparently ‘post-Christian’ Britain. When I (finally) get aroun to the article – I’ve got a couple of script deadlines, including a short film that might actually be made (exciting!) I’ll tell you about my experience with my stage play with major Christian themes that has won a couple of secular awards. Theatre admittedly is different from publishing, but I think some lessons can be learnt.

    Happy writing

  9. Steve Pillinger on said:

    Hi Fiona,

    Well, it’s good to know there may be a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel! Thanks for the encouraging comment.

    Now back (again) to Mindbenders. Am having a week’s leave at home, with the idea of getting all the revisions done before sending it off to you…


    — Steve.

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