Words of a Feather

A Reading & Writing Community

Venice at a glance

Not everyone gets a chance to do it the ‘Venetian’ way when they visit the city of Venice.

I was a tour guide for a number of years and know full well what the routine normally involves – drop off from the tour bus early in the morning, and then according to finances and inclination, a walk or a boat ride through to the St.Mark’s Square area where the group will be met by a local guide for a quick tour around the Square. A glance at the better known monuments followed by a brief exhibtion of glass blowing and the usual look at the glass showroom where you can pick up – for a sum which is often higher than elsewhere – a piece of glass which hopefully doesn’t have a ‘Made in China’ label underneath.

Having completed the ‘accelerated’ tour it is just about time to head off for lunch. For the less courageous there is usually the option to follow the bus tour guide to a local restaurant where a ‘tourist’ menu has been negotiated as part of the daily deal. Sad to say that what you eat often has very little to do with ‘typical’ Venetian food, but no time to haggle, and if you hadn’t found the courage to eat somewhere unassisted, you will probably also have booked up for the rest of the afternoon’s activities.

More often that not these will include a ride in a gondola where you will share the experience with at least another five people, be they strangers or not, in the same gondola. Don’t wax too lyrical at the serenade – the guy will probably be singing something Neopolitan anyway unless you are extremely lucky. The only song most visitors to Venice know is ‘O Sole Mio’ and we know the customer is always right. The other trip you might have booked yourself on would likely be the one over to the islands, where in actual fact, unless you are exceptionally lucky, you could well find yourself inside yet another furnace watching yet another guy doing something with molten glass. And if you aren’t careful, if they didn’t get you first time around, here you might end up opening your wallet for that expensive, and usually useless – piece of glass.

And just when you were thinking that you might still have time to have a look around the shops, the tour guide warns you that it’s now time to head back to the bus. Dinner is at 7pm and by the time you take the local transport boat, and then all get on the bus and wait around for the family that inevitably gets lost and holds everyone up until the next boat gets in – then ride the twenty or so minutes back to your hotel which is out in the middle of nowhere – you realise you just have time for a quick shower and change for dinner. That is of course, providing you haven’t booked in for the evening ‘Gondolier show’ back in the city centre again.

I resolved the problem by marrying a real Venetian. If you want to do the same, you had better be quick since there aren’t many of them left.

I feel obliged here to stress a point — the real McCoy Venetian glass is a classic handcraft, and the few working furnaces that still survive on the island of Murano produce some exceptionally beautiful pieces of work. Unfortunately, due to disloyal competition from abroad, the craft is slowly dying. The European economy at the present time (2014) makes it difficult for the Italian craftsmen to compete with the labour costs of many non-European markets. When you buy glass in Venice, please look for the Murano authenticity and quality certification.

Fairy World

Of course Creative Writing is written for all ages, not just for adults! In my constant search for interesting resources, today I came across this nice little web site that deals with everything ‘fairy’ — from names to illustrations to costumes and if I saw right — I think you will even find the odd cake recipe or two in there. Looks as if it might be useful for those who are aiming their writing efforts at a younger audience.

Take a look >>>

From my own point of view, I just purchased a couple of new books which deal with illustrations of fairies. I would really like to attempt some of these and — who knows — might even illustrate my own fairy stories!

Title: DragonArt — Fantasy Characters
Perfect Paperback: 128 pages
Publisher: IMPACT Books; Act edition (26 Oct 2007)
Language: English
ISBN: 978-1581808520
Product Dimensions: 27.9 x 21.6 x 1 cm
Amazon link: Dragonart Fantasy Characters: How to Draw Fairies, Elves Ogres and More

Title: How to Draw Fairies by David Antram
Paperback: 32 pages
Publisher: Bookhouse (1 Nov 2011)
Language: English
ISBN: 978-1907184628
Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 20.8 x 27.3 cm
Amazon link: How to Draw Fairies

Why write?

NB. This post is open to Workshop members only

Not expecting anyone to give away their whole life story, but I thought it might be nice to know a bit about one another – if nothing else from the ‘wannabe’ writer’s point of view. So I will start – if you feel ok with this, you can just comment beneath this post rather than start up a new one. Just click on the title of the article to open up the whole page with the comment box too.

Well you know the name – here in Italy we married women hang on to our maiden name which is a bit misleading. I am married to a Venetian and we have one daughter in her early 20s. She just returned home after a 3 year stint away, so things have been a bit traumatic lately! Our fault for getting used to the idea of all that freedom.

I’ve been here, off and on for more than 40 years, so without submitting you to silly guessing games, that puts me firmly in my early 60s. Don’t be foiled by all the pics of me in my tender years – that blonde is now a pure white, though I do still dash around Europe on the back of a motorbike with hubby, so I’ve not completely given up on youthful frivolity.

Now to the writing – I have been involved in writing for many years as a ghost writer and translator mainly for contemporary art galleries (catalogues, press releases etc) but also for web sites of all sorts, some of which I have built myself. A couple of years ago I decided to take creative writing a bit more seriously and did the full OU Creative Writing course. Great course, and obviously much more complete than the one we have just done. But with all the best intentions in the world, life got in the way – a couple of rather distressing family situations, and my writing got put more or less on hold. I did continue to take my notebook with me everywhere though!

Then spurred on by my brother’s recent success – a non-fiction tome published last summer – I gradually organized my life to make space for some writing again. I was delighted to find the MOOC course which has been perfect as a refresher. For now I see my writing in short story form – but who knows. But certainly for the time being I will be trying to improve my techniques in that area. As to genre – I like mystery and crime, though I don’t exclude that I might attempt others.

So what about all of you?

More than a meal

Quite apart from the wonderful experience of eating good food, there is no denying that there are dishes that evoke particular memories or thoughts in many of us. It might be that a recipe reminds you of your Mum’s cooking – or of the delicious aroma you always smelled when you visited your grandmother. What about those wafts that titivate your nose as you pass an Italian pizzeria or Greek taverna?

This is the theme of one of our creative challenges – we want the recipe, but we also want the story to go with it! Of course anyone can try out the idea as a prompt, but only our registered Workshop members will be able to post their work on the site for peer feedback.

Looking forward to some Food for Thought!

Editor’s scribbles

When I’m not working on my book, I’m a hobby magazine editor, and for many of you, it’s a good idea to cut your writing teeth on submitting articles to magazines like mine. The discipline of more journalistic writing can be very useful while you’re learning your craft and will get you used to producing work under pressure. So, here are a half a dozen tips from a busy editor to help you get your articles into print.

1. A deadline is a deadline. If you want a quick way to make an enemy of an editor, submit your work late. People like me have a very short list of contributors they know they can rely on to produce the goods on time, every time, and they’ll be the first people I’ll call when I need something in a hurry.*

2. If an editor specifies a word count, stick to it. I can’t tell you how infuriating it is to have agreed a 2,000 word piece with a contributor, only to have a 2,500 or 3,000 word essay arrive (or, in one spectacular case, 9,000 words!). An editor specifies a word count because he’s intimately familiar with how much space a certain number of words will occupy on the page when combined with images and captions. So don’t make the editor’s life difficult, and don’t be surprised if an over-written piece ends up back in your inbox.

3. Proof your work. If you can’t be bothered to check your own spelling and grammar, then I can’t be bothered to publish your piece. The odd typo is acceptable, but submitting work littered with errors is just bad manners. A good practice is to put the piece away in a drawer (really, print it out) for a week or two before sending it in, then re-read it — you’re much more likely to spot the howlers. A reliable friend who can proof-read is another great asset, especially if they’re pedantic!

4. Don’t pester the editor. People like me receive a LOT of email. If you’ve sent in work on spec, rather than having been specifically commissioned, understand that however good your piece is, it will take a while for the overworked editor to get round to it. If you’ve heard nothing after a month or two, a polite enquiry as to its progress is fine, but badgering is another quick way to fall off the popularity pole. Far better to submit multiple articles to several magazines than stew in your own juices by staking your sanity on the success of a single piece.

5. Become an expert. If I had a pound for every enquiry I’ve received along the lines of “What would you like me to write about?” then, well, I’d have a lot more money than I do now! First of all, you should have read at least a few issues of the magazine in question to get a feel for the kind of subject matter they publish, and the editorial ‘style’, be it young, fresh and zippy, more formal and academic, or enthusiastic and down to earth. Then, think about what *really* interests you within the magazine’s particular niche, and write about that. I’d much rather be sent 1,000 words brimming with genuine enthusiasm than a dry-as-dust 5,000 words that have evidently been chiselled in boredom. You can’t fool an audience: if you don’t enjoy writing it, don’t write it!

6. And finally, do the courtesy of addressing an editor by his or her name. These days, “Sir” or “Madam” not only come across as rather stuffy, they also imply that you couldn’t be bothered to research the name of the editor whose approval you seek. And I can tell you that anything I receive which begins “Dear Sir or Madam” goes straight to the trash can! Similarly, “Kind regards” or just “Regards” is far less awkward than “Yours sincerely” or “Yours faithfully” at the end of an email.

Happy writing!

*Fortunately, book editors seem to be softer creatures than magazine editors. My own editor with Pen & Sword has been endlessly patient with me as I present the latest set of pathetic excuses as to why I still haven’t got the darn thing finished. On the other hand, as during this very afternoon, I can crank out 2,000 words plus photos if I need to. Go figure…

© Henry Hyde 2012

Discovering Literature

Made a brief visit to A.J.Waine’s blog this morning and there I discovered, secondhand because she was the first to mention it – that the British Library now has an area of their online resources dedicated to ‘Discovering Literature’.

Her account of a writer’s journey is a neat description of what can often prove to be a long and painful route to the publisher and the local book shop.

Read more >>>

What Sort of Writer Do You Really Want to Be?

Insights from Joanna Penn

Our guest author, Henry Hyde writes an interesting review on Joanna Penn and her web presence.

If you are, or want to become, a professional writer, then I can give no better advice than to take yourself to The Creative Penn, home of author/entrepreneur and best-selling fiction and non-fiction writer Joanna Penn.

Read more >>>



There are many excellent books on the market whose sole purpose is to provide you with never-ending lists of publishers in every corner of the globe. I would be making a futile attempt to re-invent the wheel by trying to compile a list here so I will content myself by offering a few book titles as suggested reading. Most of these books are jam-packed with publisher details, and in particular, the *Yearbooks offer detailed information regarding the submission guidelines for each. *Here you will also find similar information for submission to newspapers and magazines.

Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook 2014
Cover type: paperback
Pages: 816
Language: English

[amazon asin=1408192195&template=add to cart] Children’s Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook 2014
Cover type: paperback
Pages: 480
Language: English

[amazon asin=1408195127&template=add to cart] The Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook Guide to Getting Published
Cover type: paperback
Pages: 384
Language: English

[amazon asin=1408128950&template=add to cart]


www.blurb.com www.Lulu.com


I am starting up a page with a list of publishers, concentrating mainly on self-publishing. You will be able to access the list and other publishing resources from the ‘Resources’ item in the main horizontal menu on the site. Be patient as this will be a work in progress as we gather names here and there. Meanwhile, do take a peek at our Facebook page where we have been adding information over the past couple of years.

pick ‘n’ choose

  • Book reviews
  • Books
  • External link
  • News
  • Points of view

Blog Authors

Amazon search