clhollandwriter: (marchin)
I've been quite productive since coming back from Swanwick, at least I have this week. I've written over 2000 words on a new project, mostly in the evenings but a little during my lunch breaks. It's not the project I'm supposed to be working on, the one with the deadline, but words are words.

Back in January I posted about using stamps and stickers for motivation. I'm still doing it, although I've refined the requirements a little. Anything that actively moves a project forward gets a stamp now, rather than just words, so outlining and research also count. Lots of words gets a sticker, not just finishing a project, and epic days - such as the timeI managed 650 words on a work day - get a flying unicorn sticker.

For all that I had a rough week at Swanwick, it did its job in making me feel enthusiastic about writing again. It's amazing what you pick up even when you're not aware of it. I bought a book from the second-hand table, The Forest for the Trees by Betsy Lerner, which is a sort of chatty memoir advice for writers sort of thing. That prompted me to buy a bunch of other writing books, most of which have been sitting an an Amazon wishlist for months, and some of which were recommended by other Swanwickers (or were in the pile of books they picked up). I may have overdone it a little, as I now have a stack of seven or eight of them to read. But it's nice to have someting to read in the bus, since I don't particularly like writing there, which at least keeps me thinking about writing.
clhollandwriter: (marchin)
Day Seven is not really a day, as all we do before we leave is have breakfast and say goodbye. Then it's on the coach for those of us heading to the station. Once we're unloaded there's already a sense of separation, of normal life creeping back in, as everyone scatters to their individual platforms. I miss the days when those of us who had a longer wait for the train would gather in a coffee shop, chat (those of us not horribly hungover from the previous night's disco, anyway), and extend the week those few minutes more.

I had mixed feelings about leaving this year, part sadness it was over for another year and part relief that I got to go home. The last twelve months have been frantic - I've changed job, moved manager three times and team twice, had health problems that are likely to have a long-term impact, plus bought and moved into a house. During all of this I've barely had the time, let alone the energy, to write. While I spent most of the year longing for Swanwick week, when I got there I found I didn't have the ability to deal with homework, large groups of enthusiastic writer folks, or watching everyone eat cheesecake or fish and chips that I couldn't have. As a result I was tired, cranky, and snappish, and I apologise to anyone who found themselves on the receiving end.

The trip home was longer than usual due to the route but after a nap, ten hours sleep, and another nap the following afternoon, I felt a lot more refreshed. And it turns out my week wasn't wasted after all. Despite not writing, and not feeling like writing, I've still got the post-Swanwick motivational kick. I've got ideas for two projects and the desire to do my homework. This weekend, I'll dig out the notes from the Manifesting Your Goals course I took in 2014 and create a timeline. It appears some of that Swanwick magic rubbed off after all.
clhollandwriter: (marchin)
As always, I approached Thursday in a state of semi-exhaustion. It doesn't seem to matter how much sleep I get - or don't get - I'm always tired by the end of Swanwick week.

In the final poetry class a handful of people read out their homework, and then we shared our devices for creating original poems. Mine was to cut up several poems you like, put the pieces in a jar, and pick out a few random pieces to use as a springboard. Obviously this is for inspiration and the lines themselves shouldn't appear in the poem.

The short courses on offer were about comedy sketches, family history, finding inspiration from song lyrics, and "How To Eat an Elephant" which was about breaking writing projects down into manageable chunks. I took the latter, since the thought of starting something new on top of everything else I've done this year is a little overwhelming.

Instead of a workshop session, Thursday sees the AGM. It was short but sweet this year, since we had exactly the same number of people running for the committee as there were positions and no two people running for the same one.

On the programme, the spot after the AGM is labelled "time for you" and I always use it for packing as it frees up the rest of the evening. As I headed back into the main building several people were setting up the dregs party - an opportunity to get rid of leftover food and drink delegates don't want to take home - on the lawn. It was a bit damp and chilly for me so I went to the bar.

There's no after dinner speaker in Thursday, instead there's a pantomime. This year it was "The Battle of Writer's Block" featuring BBC journalist Simon Hall as Trevor, a joke writer trying to write a novel and win Success while being plagued by the villain Doubt. There were the songs "500 Words" and last year's "Is This the Way to Summer School?" which were catchy enough to sing along to.

After the pantomime was the traditional farewell, and then it was off to the bar to wait for the disco to start.
clhollandwriter: (marchin)
Wednesday saw us back on the courses, with poetry tutor Alison Chisholm dividing the room into groups based on poetry forms we'd never tackled before. I ended up in the terza rima group, which is a poem divided into three-line stanzas with an interlocking rhyme scheme. Our task was to discuss what theme might suit the form, and how we could adapt or develop it to make it our own - and then to write one for our homework. Unfortunately by Wednesday I'm usually running more on caffeine and sugar than actual brain power, so this seemed like a mammoth task and I opted to spend my time sleeping and socialising instead.

The short courses on offer were: endings and agents, plotting and strategem; cover design; and even more poetry. I'd decided early that this year was poetry year, but the session turned out to be a workshop and it was a bit late in the week for me to cope with on-the-spot writing (see above). I made a few notes and wrote down the exercises to add to my "do at home" pile with the homework from earlier in the week. In hindsight, I wish I'd taken the first part of Erin Kelly's course (on how to write endings) and the second ("strategem") part of Michael Jecks' course in which, among other things, he discussed ways of tackling writers' block.

The workshops were on writing about an unforgettable episode in your life, and also on hybrid authors. I took myself for a walk around the lake and then went to sit in the vinery for a bit.

The evening speaker was Irish storyteller and one-time Swanwicker Brendan Nolan. He spoke a little about how attending Swanwick - and one of first night speaker John Lamont's courses - changed his life, as it gave him the motivation to write his first book. He also told us stories, one about a traveller and a bar of gold, and another from Irish mythology about Aengus and Caer. I've never seen the hall so quiet!

After the speaker, it was time for the Page to Stage Performances prepared earlier in the week. In previous years this has run concurrently with other entertainments, however from last year it was changed to be the sole offering, so no one taking part felt like they were missing out.
clhollandwriter: (marchin)
Traditionally Tuesday is the "day off", but this only means that there are no classes. Most don't rest however, as the morning is usually taken up with a speaker and a panel on a particular area of writing, and the afternoon with rehearsals for those taking part in Page to Stage. Alongside both runs the Procrastination Free Day, one session for those with laptops and one for those without, during which people are shut in a room to write to their own goals - only being let out when it's time for food. It feels all too much like a workshop to me, despite the shiny stickers being offered as bribes, so I steer clear. Maybe I'll give it a try when I have a project that coincides with the school.

This year's theme for the morning was crime, and was hosted by retired policeman (and then Swanwick Chairman) Michael O'Byrne, forensics expert Kate Bendelow, and journalist and crime writer Simon Hall. Each gave a short talk on a different aspect of crime fiction, including common mistakes made by writers, and why you needn't bother dusting a steering wheel for fingerprints. Michael gave a visual demonstration with replica weapons as to why you should think hard before having your killer shoot a rifle from a moving vehicle, and also why it's important to know where your shell casings are. The second session was a Q&A where the three were joint by Ian Martin, also a retired policeman, to answer any questions the audience could throw at them.

As I wasn't taking part in Page to Stage, I spent playing card games with a friend and relaxing.  I also went on the mini-excursion to the other side of the site to see the beginning of the escape tunnel.

If you read this blog in 2013 you might remember me posting these pictures:


The Hayes was once used as a prisoner of war camp, and there is a case of memorabilia in the bar area, including photographs of how the site looked then, and also the spoons used at the time - some of which were used to dig the tunnel. This year there was a short talk about the history, and then a trip to look at the tunnel itself. The camera on my phone doesn't really do justice to how steeply the tunnel descends, or how tight a squeeze it is.



It was back on the usual programme at 8:20pm, where the speaker was Michael Jecks, author of over 30 historical crime novels and also a tutor for the following day. There was also a general knowledge quiz, and the buskers night.
clhollandwriter: (marchin)
Day Three saw us discussing the mathematics of poetry in part two of the poetry specialist course - how to add, subtract, multiply, and divide to improve a poem. Our homework was to do just that, or do write a poem about one thing in the jargon of another.

The short courses were on song writing, non fiction, fantasy fiction, and "the trickier side of fiction" - viewpoint, flashbacks, and dialogue, among other things. I took the latter, and while I didn't learn anything new from the course it was a useful refresher. In fact, the course was so popular we realised partway through the second session that some latecomers had crept in and sat on the floor!

The workshops were an ideas generator session and one on flash fiction. Personally I don't get on very well with workshops - something about being told to sit and write for an hour rubs me up the wrong way, so once again I gave these a miss and spent some time relaxing instead.

The evening speaker was Kathryn Aalto, leader of the creative non-fiction specialist course, who was followed by the first of the week's discos and a retrospective of the first 25 years of Swanwick - the latter of which inspired a mini-excursion the following day.
clhollandwriter: (marchin)
Day Two sees the start of the specialist courses that run all week. This year's subjects were creative non-fiction, journalism, short stories, character psychology, and poetry. I toyed with the idea of creative non-fiction, but opted for poetry as I've been doing more of that lately while creative non-fiction is completely new to me.

In the session we discussed ways of working on poems that aren't working (edit them shorter, and then longer again), and the tutor Alison Chisholm requested that for the last session we think of ways to come up with original poems. She also gave us homework - poems from the past, and five ways to look at them to start something new.

The short courses on offer were self publishing, a grammar refresher, picture books, and connecting with an audience. I took the latter, even though I was in two minds about signing up for the poetry open mic that evening. Tutor Joy France was a little frazzled, having arrived from a festival minutes before, but was an engaging and lively tutor. She discussed audience reaction, memorising works, and how you won't always know something works for performance until you try it. It made my mind up about the open mic, but when I went to sign up all the slots were taken. Maybe next year.

The workshops were on flash fiction or a briefing for Page to Stage, a theatrical event that takes place later in the week. Since I was planning on taking a specialist and short course every day I'd planned to take the workshop time to rest and/or nap since it's a busy week.

The evening speaker was James Runcie, author of the Grantchester Mysteries. He told anecdotes from his varied career, and gave writing advice, including: "Don't be cautious: write what you want." I should really listen to that.
clhollandwriter: (marchin)
Last year I blogged the week as I went along; this year I'm back to posting the week after. I just couldn't find the spoons to fit it in during the week this year.

Day One is really only half a day, since the earliest we can arrive is 3:30pm. For most of us it feels full, since we've either been travelling or have been on site early to set up. This year the travelling took up more time than usual - for me because the route I'd been booked on was longer and with more changes, presumably to avoid the trouble spots where there are strikes and cancelled services. Others had to travel through the trouble spots, and a lot of travel updates were passed back and forth on Facebook.

For those of us who arrive in time, Swanwick starts with a cup of tea and meeting up with old friends. I usually take this time to unwind and unpack. Then it's off to the chairman's welcome, to find out such important housekeeping elements as the code to get in the accommodation block.

The evening speaker for Saturday was Swanwick regular John Lamont. He taught last year's specialist course on "Succeeding on Purpose", which I regret missing (and have asked on my feedback form to be run again!). John spoke about the adaptability of the human brain, and about visualisation and retraining the subconscious - both of which are important in learning good writing habits, or unlearning bad ones.

After the speaker the traditional Saturday evening entertainments are "What Are You Writing Now?" and an alternative fairy tales icebreaker. I spent a short time in the bar catching up with friends, and had an early night to sleep off the travel.
clhollandwriter: (marchin)
When it comes to distributing your book, Lulu and CreateSpace do things a little differently.

Lulu offers you the option to set up your book with private access (only you can find it when logged in), direct access (only people with the link can find it), or general access (anyone can find it). This is useful if, for example, you only want to print copies for family members and can set it to private or direct. It also lets you select their globalReach distribution option which offers the book on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Ingram as long as it meets their requirements with regards to formatting and having an ISBN. This appears to be an all or nothing deal, as it's either on or off. There doesn't seem to be any way to opt out of individual channels. I have the distribution options switched off, as it's redundant for Lulu to sell my book on Amazon when I can do so myself - especially when, as previously noted, I'll get a lot less in royalties.

CreateSpace offers different levels of distribution, and all are opt in. Standard distribution offers Amazon.com, Amazon Europe, and the CreateSpace eStore, which can be individually selected. Expanded distribution offers the options of Booksters and Online Retailers, Libraries and Academic Institutions, and Createspace Direct. These can also be individually selected, but that's as far as you can drill down.

I will say at this point that I haven't sold any copies through Lulu, but that's hardly surprising since I don't have any distribution channels switched on. I mostly use it for proofs and copies for hand selling. I sell a small trickle through CreateSpace, and these all seem to come from the various iterations of Amazon. I'm not making enough to give up my day job, or even pay any bills, but it's always a nice boost when you find out someone's bought your book.

Once you've picked your channels it's just a matter of clicking through the rest of the process, as the two sites do things in a different order. The final option will be to approve a proof, which you can either do digitally by downloading the file, or by ordering a proof copy. After you say that you're happy to proceed the site will also proof your book to make sure it meets their requirements. They'll email once this is complete and your book is ready. And that's it: you've self-published a book.
clhollandwriter: (marchin)
Once your book is finished, it's time to upload your file.

Both CreateSpace and Lulu start will start you off with entering the details for your project (title, author) and selecting things like trim size. Once this is set up there are a couple of options to upload your file.

You can upload regular Word documents (doc, docx, rtf) and also PDFs. (Image files are also an option, but I'm assuming text here.) PDFs are generally more useful if your book contains a lot of images, tables, or special fonts, because they can be embedded and their location in the document is fixed and less likely to be messed up in a conversion. I have to admit, I've never done this so have no idea of the process. If your book is solely text, a Word document should work fine.

When you upload a Word document the site converts it into a PDF "print ready file". Be aware that if you didn't set your trim size when formatting your document, the site will resize it to fit what you chose when setting up the project. This will mess up your page count and table of contents, as well as the pages new chapters or stories start on. You can download and review the file, which I really recommend as it will allow you to pick up any errors that have crept through either when making the document or during  the conversion. If you're not happy, tweak the original document and upload again. Once you're happy you can proceed to publication.

Both sites will walk you through the process:the details; pricing; uploading the cover or using the on-site designer; uploading your file. It's easy enough if you follow the steps.

One of the steps is choosing your distribution channels, which I'll look at next time.
clhollandwriter: (marchin)
If you're planning to sell your book, you'll need to choose a price to sell it at. This applies whether or not you intend to sell online or in person. The printer you choose will have a base cost at which they sell copies to you - this takes into account their printing costs and profits. It's also the amount of the total cost of the book they'll keep for each copy sold online.

For argument's sake, let's say your printer of choice sells you copies at $5.00. You can order as many books as you like for that cost (and you may get discounts for buying in bulk). You can take these books to a convention, or whatever, and hand sell them for whatever you like, and keep all the profit.

Let's say you decide to sell your book online for $10.00. Your printer will keep $5.00 of that and pay you the rest when you meet their payment threshold. This will vary by site, so it's worth checking out as if they have a high threshold it may be a while before you seen the money - if at all. However, if you take advantage of their distribution channels you may see even less of that $10 - because each of the distributors will want their own cut. For each copy of Conversations with Dragons I sell through Lulu I make $4.99. If I choose to use them to sell it through other retailers this drops to $0.40. This includes Amazon, so if you want to sell through Amazon I'd honestly recommend going through Createspace.

I use both Lulu and Createspace. The reason for this is it costs me a lot less in time and money to get copies from Lulu if I want to buy a proof, or copies to hand sell. However I've never sold a copy to a third party online through Lulu, and I have through Createspace/Amazon, so it's worth it for me to take the effort to do both. If you only plan to hand sell, or sell online, you might find it works better for you to just pick one.

Next time, uploading your file.
clhollandwriter: (marchin)
The first question to answer regarding an ISBN is whether or not your book needs one. If you're publishing for friends and family, and don't intend to sell your book, then you almost certainly don't. If you're planning on buying and hand-selling copies, rather than making it available online, then you can also do without one - although this will make the book look less professional so it's worth considering.

If you intend to sell online via your printer, or use their retails channels, you will almost certainly need one. I can't remember if it's true of Createspace, but Lulu requires any book available for sale to have an ISBN. This leaves you with the choice of paying for your own, or using the free one the printer provides.

ISBNs can be expensive, depending on where you're based. At time of posting, a single ISBN costs around $125 in the US, although apparently Canadians can get them for free. The only advantage I can see you getting your own ISBN is it allows you to be listed as the publisher in the ISBN database (otherwise it's listed as Createspace, Lulu, etc). If you're not publishing your books as a small press this may not matter to you.

Each new edition of your book will need its own ISBN. This is the case whether you're updating the content, or publishing it on more than one POD site. If you plan on tweaking your content to keep up with a topic, it could get expensive if you're buying your own.

Once you have your ISBN it needs to go on the copyright page in your front matter.

Next: choosing your price.
clhollandwriter: (marchin)
It would have made more sense for me to post this before the posts on the Table of Contents or Covers, as it will affect the page count of the book, but to be honest they're mostly of use if you're writing non-fiction in order to correctly cite references. Most people will never need them.

The first thing to decide is if you want to use endnotes (all your references at the end of the book) or footnotes (all your references at the bottom of the relevant page). Having tried footnotes when publishing Golems, Vampires and Wanderers: Essays in Gothic Fiction, I can honestly say that endnotes are easier.

With endnotes, the references are collected all together and can be treated as a separate chapter. The headers and page numbers are dealt with exactly the same. The only additional work is to check the numbering has carried across correctly, and the formatting is correct.

With footnotes, a change is made to the content of potentially every page. The extra text they add will bump the text at the bottom of the page onto the next one. This could have an impact on which page the next chapter starts on, so each chapter will need to be checked to make sure it still starts on the correct page. As with endnotes, check the numbering is correct. One thing I found was that sometimes the footnote would be on the incorrect page to the number in the text, usually the one after. If this happens the only remedy I found was to reformat the text to bump the number in it to the next page. Obviously this will leave you with some very noticeably odd formatting if you later change the font or trim size so it's best to make a note of these places so you can check them later.

Something else that sometimes happens with footnotes is an extra line can appear between them. I have no idea what causes this, and the only way I found to fix this was to manually tweak them until they look right. Footnotes will need to be carefully checked before committing the final file to print, so if your chosen printer offers a pdf print file for checking, take a close look at this as it's how your finished book will look.

Next, ISBNs.
clhollandwriter: (marchin)
"When the Harlequin Dances" has been podcast at Far Fetched Fables.

Some small bits of writing done this week, mainly notes on my phone on the way to work. I've decided to rework an unsold flash piece as a poem, and I'm trying to come up with an idea to plan out as interactive fiction. This will involve plotting, which is not my strong point as I usually pants everything. Except poems, oddly enough. You'd think they'd benefit from the more organic approach of pantsing but generally I outline them, fill in the blanks and [insert image here]s, edit for word choices, and then prune.

I've spent a couple of hours today updating my website, mostly reorganising pages and fixing links. It also included a panicky search to find the header image I'd somehow deleted. I was supposed to be writing today, but at least this was related. Maybe I'll get a stamp tomorrow instead.
clhollandwriter: (marchin)
So apparently I haven't posted since January. This has been due to a minor-but-scary health problem that hit in February, finishing my training period at work, and deciding to take March off of writng to just read all the things. Then at the beginning of this month some more major-league adulting started. I'm vague-booking, I know, but I don't really feel like blogging any of it. At the moment I'm seriously out of spoons.

I haven't been completely resting on my laurels though. I have a short piece in the current SF Signal Mind Meld: SF/F TV Character Deaths That Had Us Shaking Our Heads.

I'm trying to get back into writing, but honestly a second month of reading looks great from here.
clhollandwriter: (block)
Last year was a bit of a bust in terms of writing. It was a year of infinite variety in terms of the dayjob - new role and schedule that started the back end of 2014, and then training for a new job. My boyfriend got a new job too, which meant a change to his schedule that took some getting used to.  As a result I had pretty much no brain for anything else the whole year.

This year, although I'm still working my way through the training period for the new job, I want to get back on track. The problem is getting motivated, because there's always something that needs doing around the house, or I just don't feel like writing. Tracking wordcount doesn't work, I just end up feeling demoralised at never doing enough. Plus anything involving spreadsheets is useless, as I actually have to turn on the computer and open the document to get any benefit. So this year I had to find something else to motivate me.

I've gone for rubber stamps and stickers. Any day I write I get a garden-themed stamp on my calendar. It doesn't matter if I've only written a few sentences, as long as I've actively worked on a project. Blogging counts for this, as otherwise I wouldn't, but only my regular Tuesday posts. If I finish a first draft, I get an owl sticker. If I polish a draft and get it submission-ready, I get a cat sticker. Blogging doesn't count toward stickers.

It seems to be working so far. I've worked on a particular story project most days, finished a piece of flash, almost completed a poem draft, and am about to start working on editing a piece. Not only does it satisfy my inner twelve year old, but it also gives me a visual record of what I've achieved that isn't reliant on achieving arbitrary numbers. I do enough of that at work - which, thinking about it, is probably why I'm so resistant to doing it in my writing as well.

And, of course, when I run out of stickers, I can treat myself to more!
clhollandwriter: (marchin)
I wasn't sure I was going to do one of these. Looking back, 2015 seems like a bit of a crap year. But then when I checked my submission stats, I realised I've actually made more submissions than in any previous year - 65 in total. It's been one of my worst years for sales but, with the exception of being a runner-up in the Wergle Flomp contest, all were to venues I've never been published in before. Including Flash Fiction Online, which I've been trying to get into for years.

Most of my submissions this year were reprints, partly because there's a larger number of podcasts around these days and partly because I haven't written an awful lot of new fiction. There are a number of reasons for this. One was a change of job role to something more challenging that left me with no mental energy to write. This is something I'm just going to have to learn to work around, since it's not going to get any better. Another reason was a lack of desire to engage with the science fiction and fantasy publishing community. Some of this was impostor syndrome: clever and strange stories seem to be around in spades, and (with a couple of exceptions) I don't seem to be able to write them. The rest was the fact that it's a pretty shitty place to be writing at the moment. The overwhelming impression I'm left with is there's a large contingent who think you shouldn't be writing in the genre unless you're a straight white male. And there's an equally large contingent who welcome diversity, unless you're not from the group you're writing about in which case, no matter how hard you try and what your intentions are, you'd better get every tiny detail correct or they'll eviscerate you on Twitter.

This is, of course, a generalisation. But it doesn't feel like a fun or safe place to be writing any more, which makes me not want to write.

I still need to decide what I'm doing for 2016. Somehow I need to stop worrying about the community looking over my shoulder telling me I'm Doing It Wrong. I have considered going to play in a different sandbox for a while, but I'm sure it will turn out to be as equally full of poop. Maybe I'll take a break from submitting for a year. Or a break from Twitter. I don't know, but I need to do something.
clhollandwriter: (marchin)
I somehow managed to completely miss that my story "The Silver Spoon" was up at The Colored Lens, even though the ebook's been up on Amazon for a while. It's a Christmas story for those are maybe a little sick of family tensions, so the timing worked out anyway.

My only other Christmas story is "And a Cup of Good Cheer", which is also a tad on the dark side. It's still up at 10 Flash Quarterly, although the market's been dead for a while now. It's a shame, it was a market I really liked, because I love writing to prompts. There don't seem to be many prompt-based market's around these days.

I'm currently pondering another Christmas story. This one's not light and fluffy either. I'm sensing a theme...
clhollandwriter: (block)
I read this last month, and like so many things meant to blog about it but didn't get around to it.

It reads more like a conversation than instructions. Lamott is both wise and funny. The main things I took from it were that it's okay to be a pantser (I seem to be having problems with this lately and have developed a fear of throwing myself in at the deep end) and it's okay to write a shitty first draft. Which I already knew but it was nice to have someone say it. So much of the writing advice out there these days is aimed at plotters, or pantser to turn them into plotters. Now I just need something to write a shitty first draft about.

I've also got Elizabeth George's Write Away on the TBR pile, and a book about writing crime and thrillers since I'm trying to broaden my horizons. And there's a stack of writing magazines I'm struggling to keep up with, although I'm thinking about giving up on some of those. That's a whole other blog post though.

Next month is NaNoWriMo. This year is the tenth anniversary of my first attempt, and I feel a little like I should celebrate by taking part. I'm not sure there's room in my life for a 50,000 word novel at the moment though. Certainly not one I write in a month. Although it would get me a shitty first draft.
clhollandwriter: (marchin)
I mentioned the other day that I'd been looking at online writing courses. Here are the ones I've found that are free. It's not an endorsement as I haven't actually taken any of them, I just thought other people might be interested.

Coursera is a site I particularly like, because it has a wide range of free university-provided courses. At the moment it's offering courses on Writing for Young Readers: Opening the Treasure Chest, and Sharpened Visions: A Poetry Workshop. Both are self-paced so you can take them how- and whenever you like, which in the case of the children's writing course is probably for the best since the hours of study are estimated at 8-15 a week. I've signed up for Sharpened Visions and hope to make time for it around other courses that aren't self-paced.

There are also a number of literature courses covering different genres. I took the historical fiction module last year and really enjoyed it, and I'm considering Spacebooks: An Introduction to Extraterrestrial Literature, which is one of two speculative fiction courses alongside Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World. There are modules on comics and graphic novels, American Poetry, lots really. It's well worth taking a look if you fancy studying something.

Future Learn has free courses run by British universities, and has lots of starter courses for various modes of writing, including Start Writing Fiction, screenwriting, and songwriting. None of them are self-paced, but from looking at a course I signed up to but never started it appears the course content is available after it's run as long as you don't unenroll. I'm not signed up for any of the writing courses here, but I am for the one on Hans Christian Andersen's Fairy Tales which starts in three weeks.

EdX is another site, which has about seven or so courses on the history of the book which I'm trying to ignore as I don't have time to take them all on! There are a number of "book club" courses as well, which take in individual texts like The Picture of Dorian Gray, and Frankenstein. There are a lot of poetry study courses, which seem to all be American poetry. The only free writing course (the novel writing courses are paid) is The Art of Poetry, which I'm also signed up for as it seems to be self-paced. It looks like most of the free courses here become "archived" but still do-able once they've run.

These are just the ones I'm aware of on sites I check regularly. Feel free to mention any others in the comments.

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