Ghost Stories and How to Write Them

I am so excited to welcome Kath,author of the one blog few of us could live without, Womagwriter’s Blog, to my blog today. Womagwriter’s Blog is renowned as the go-to source for information, inspiration and advice on anything and everything to do with writing for women’s magazines, otherwise referred to as ‘womags’.

For the few poor souls who don’t know, Kath has just published her latest book, ‘Ghost Stories and how to write them’, available as a Kindle purchase for less than the price of a cup of coffee! You’d be mad to miss the opportunity of learning from Kath, the mistress of womag short stories. But before Kath tells us a little about her latest book, I asked her to answer a few questions. Take it away Kath!

Thanks Edith! Lovely to be here on your blog under that gorgeous picture of Glendalough.

1) Kath, what inspired you to start writing short stories for women’s magazines? What classes, if any, did you take? What books and other resources did you turn to for help?

Like many writers I’d started and failed at a couple of novels, and then realised that short stories would be quicker to both write and get feedback on, so I decided to give them a go. I’d written a few and had one hit before I began going to weekly classes run by Della Galton. I still go to her classes which I find hugely inspiring. I’ve also been a member of a very supportive online writing group for ten years, and their feedback has always been extremely valuable.

2) How long did it take, and how many stories did you write and submit, before you were published? When did you publish your first story?

Ooh, now I’m going to have to go and look that up! Hold on…

Right, according to my submissions spreadsheet which I have kept religiously since starting writing in 2003, I sent out 15 womag submissions before landing my first hit. (Incidently, that first hit was a ghost story and is included in my book Ghost Stories and How to Write Them.)

But it was another 44 submissions and 2 years (eek!) before I had my next hit. After that they came thick and fast. In the beginning, you just have to keep going and trust that you are getting better with every story you write.

3) Do you have a daily writing routine? Do you set yourself pre-determined writing goals, eg a new story a week?

These days I am not writing womag fiction, but when I was, I generally tried to write a new story every fortnight. I have a full time job and lots of other demands on my time so it is not always possible to get as much writing time as I’d like. When writing novels I try to write a bit every day even if it is only for 15 minutes, and aim for 2-3000 words a week. I will leave the novel document open on my lap top, and often leave it mid-sentence so it is easy to pick up again.

4) I know this is the six-million dollar question, but where do you get your ideas from? How do you organize them?

All over, and I don’t! I just keep a notebook for whatever novel I’m working on, and scribble notes and ideas as they come to me. Ideas for short stories will be written in the back. One new way of generating story ideas is to use a set of Rory’s Story Cubes. It’s supposed to be a game but you can use them for ideas – pick three, roll them, and use the three images to inspire you…

5) Can you tell us a little about what prompted you to start blogging, and the ways in which your blog has grown and developed since you first started it?

I started the blog as a way of keeping all womag guidelines and other thoughts about writing all in one place. It was a bit of a surprise that it took off so much and became so popular. When fiction editors began emailing me with news to put on the blog, I knew it had become mainstream!

6) Finally, what lessons have you learned from publishing your new and wonderful book?

It was great fun writing that book. The idea came to me on a Friday evening and I was so inspired I began planning it immediately and writing it the next day. It all came together really quickly. I’d say, if you get an idea, whether it’s for a story, novel or non-fiction piece, that sets you on fire, then put everything else on hold and run with it. Get that first draft written while you’re still in the first flush of enthusiasm for the project. But then, don’t rush into submitting the piece. Give it some resting time and come back to edit it when the initial excitement has died away and you are able to be more objective.

Thank you Kath for answering all my questions. And now, before I let you go, would you mind please telling us all a little about your book ‘Ghost Stories and how to write them’?

Ghost Stories and How to Write Them contains ten of my ghost stories, most of which have been previously published in women’s magazines. In between, there is discussion of what makes a good womag ghost story. I love a bit of story analysis, and think that understanding good story structure helps you write stories which will sell. I hope people will learn something from my book as well as enjoying reading the stories, and with luck they’ll be inspired to write their own ghost stories.

Thanks so much for having me on this blog, Edith!

Oh it’s for me to thank you Kath! You’ve been wonderful, and so gracious too! I’m so glad we got to spend this time together! Smile

Visit Kath at her amazing blog:

Buy her book here: