Online Writing Groups

The writing game can be a lonely one, but it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, working with others can improve your writing tremendously. It can be quite tricky finding fellow writers nearby to meet up with, but the internet has made that a whole lot easier. Hundreds, if not thousands of writing groups exist online. No longer do writers have to sit alone in their bedroom reading work aloud to their cats. But it still can be quite difficult to find the right writing group for you. So here's a list of all those I’m aware of.

How to Write a Proper Short Story Cover Letter

A superb insight into the world of short story cover letters!

Alex Shvartsman's Speculative Fiction

As an editor I see a lot of bad cover letters. I can’t help but think folks are following some bad advice out there, so I wrote a thing that might help. It’s long and it’s a little ranty and cranky (because I’ve seen a lot of bad cover letters in the last month), but I hope it will also be helpful.

Note that this advice is specific to genre magazines and anthologies and short fiction. Novel submissions play by a different set of rules, and there may be a slightly different etiquette in literary submissions and other genres. But, if you write and submit science fiction, fantasy, and horror short stories, the following essay is for you.

How to Write a Proper Short Story Cover Letter

The most important fact to remember about cover letters is this: the best cover letter in the world is not really going to…

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The General & The Visitor by Richard Billing and Mark Brooks

A review of The General & The Visitor by The Fantasy Inn!

The Fantasy Inn

The General and The Visitor are two compelling and thought-provoking short stories about life, decisions, and character. Both are quite well written, but at times I did think they could’ve done with a little bit more work to make them flow easier. They’re both short and do an excellent job of provoking the intense emotional reaction I tend to look for in short stories. Of these two stories, only The General is a fantasy story.

The General and The Visitor were written as a way to raise money for the Ranelagh House Care Home, a charity based in Liverpool, UK. All proceeds from the sales of these short stories (sold together) go to charity. You can learn more about their fundraising here

The General

The General, as the name suggests, follows a military leader as he is ordered to destroy a small section of land. Things don’t go quite as…

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The Many Sub-Genres of Fantasy

For Fantasy Friday this week, I’m revisiting an old post: The Many Sub-Genres of Fantasy.

In identifying your sub-genre you can better target your readers as well as publishers that look for that type of tale. It’ll help you make useful comparisons to other, well-known books in that sub-genre too which may, with luck, help you sell more!

Richie Billing

For more writing tips and discussions on the fantasy genre, why not sign up to my mailing list? Subscribers receive a list of 50 fantasy book reviewers and an eBook on the craft of creative writing, featuring guides to world-building, writing fight scenes, plotting, viewpoint, editing, prose, and much, much more.


As I draw closer to completing my work in progress I’ve begun to wonder what sub-genre of fantasy it actually fits into. I’ve always assumed it falls into Epic/High Fantasy, but set in a world with little magic I wondered if there were any other sub-genres to which it may be better suited.

In identifying your sub-genre you can better target your readers as well as publishers that look for that type of tale. It’ll help you make useful comparisons to other, well-known books in that sub-genre too which may, with luck, help you sell more!

So I embarked…

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The cover letter that sold Blackwing

You couldn’t ask for a better example of how to write a cover letter. And it worked. Thanks, Ed!

ED MCDONALD

While I was going through some old files, I happened across the cover letter that I sent when I was submitting Blackwing. I thought that it be interesting to people to see it, so, here it is. It’s nothing flashy or that doesn’t go outside the kind of guidelines that you’d usually see, but well worth noting that I provided exactly what was asked for.

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#AuthorInterview with Richie Billing @Magpie_Richie The General & The Visitor #RaisingAwarness #Dementia #Charity #Raisingfunds

A massive thank you to Kerry for letting me loose on her fantastic blog!

In this guest post, you can learn a bit more about the fundraising behind ‘The General and The Visitor’, as well as a few facts about me, including my name of subtle misfortune.

Thanks again, Kerry! If you havem’t already checked out her blog, Chat About Books, do so forthwith!

Chat About Books

Today I have the pleasure of welcoming Richie Billing to Chat About Books 🙂 

Richie Billing

Having lost my lovely Grandad Adams to dementia last February, this charity is one I am more than happy to help promote.

I’d like to thank Kerry for letting me loose today. She very kindly offered to help me raise awareness for a fundraising campaign I’m currently running. Thank you, Kerry! Heaven awaits you at the end, I’m sure.

You’re very welcome, Richie. I have already downloaded a copy and I hope everyone reading this post will download a copy to. I wish you every success with your fundraising.

What’s the campaign? A few months ago my friend and I released a couple of short stories to raise money for my grandmother’s care home, Ranelagh House

When I gave up my job as a lawyer one of the reasons was to use my time to give…

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Indy Fantasy Writers: Richard Billing!

Many thanks to Iain for asking me to get involved in this. Very enjoyable looking back at my favourite cover image. You can learn a bit more about the meaning behind The General and The Visitor, both available on Amazon. All proceeds donated to charity!

Iain Lindsay, fantasy author

indyfantasywritersWelcome back, Gentle Readers. I trust that the New Year saw you all drowning in books, and to that TBR pile I would love to add the latest addition to the Guild; the erudite and truly-nice-chap, Richard Billing, author of The General.

nb. Every week, here at the erstwhile home of the Guild (not really a home as such, more of a drinking spot for the itinerant adventurers that indy writers so often are) this blog is lucky enough to host a discussion on different aspects of the indy writing obsession occupation with some fantastic names. We hope that you enjoy, and that it inspires you to put pen to paper yourself!

This series of interviews is on the subject of covers.

~ ~ ~

Richard Billing, The General

Latest Work: Magpie

Series Title: The Last Magpie

The General, by R. BillingTell us about your cover. What does it…

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The General & The Visitor Review

An honest and very detailed review of The General and The Visitor courtesy of the fantastic Books4Jessica! If you haven’t already checked out this blog you need to immediately!

A million thanks, Jessica!

CoverI have not read a book of short stories in a long time, so when I was given the chance to review this book I did not know what to expect as this was not a novel I would usually have much knowledge about.However, I am very glad that I did decide to read these stories as they were both thought provoking and emotional.

The General (by: Richard Billing) & The Visitor (by: Mark Brooks) are the names of the two stories featured in this small 64 some page book. The General tells the story of a army and chief of that army who believes he is doing right by his country when ordered by the king to attack a land and people who did not know really much about. The chief soon learns though that what he may have believed prior to their attack, may have not been true.

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The Writer’s Shop Window

If a reader wants to learn more about you and your writing the first thing they’re going to look for is your website. Like looking through a shop window, if they see something which intrigues them, they may step inside and buy something. In not having a website you’re missing out on precious opportunities to connect with potential followers. This article first looks at how to make a site, what it ought to feature, before finishing with a discussion about blogging

Writing Orwellian prose

For my 50th post I thought I’d take a look back at the past 5 or so months at what I’ve thrown out into the world for your enjoyment. I was going to share the most popular post to date, but instead I’ve decided to share my personal favourite—the one that’s helped me the most in researching and writing it. So here it is, my guide to writing Orwellian prose.

Thank you to everyone who’s so far subscribed to this blog. It means a hell of a lot. In the months to come I’ll be looking to giveaway more free content and of course keep the articles coming. Here’s to the next 50!

Richie Billing

For more writing tips and discussions on the fantasy genre, why not sign up to my mailing list? When you do, you’ll receive a free eBook on the craft of creative writing, featuring guides to world-building, writing fight scenes, plotting, viewpoint, editing, prose, and much, much more.


Two styles of prose tend to dominate: clear, concise prose, referred to as ‘Orwellian’, or the ‘clear pane of glass’, and; florid, literary prose, referred to as the ‘stained glass window’. First we’ll have a look at each, before going on to discuss how you can achieve them.

Orwellian prose

clear_lg

George Orwell in his essay, Politics and the English Language, set out what he thinks good prose ought to consist of, all the while attacking the political system for the destruction of good writing practices. He was very much against the over-complication of language, which at the time (1946), was the direction…

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