Saturday, 20 August 2011

While Womag's Away...

I'm off on holiday tomorrow for 10 days - to Northumberland and Durham, mostly camping but also staying at a friend's farm for a couple of days. The boys are hoping they'll be allowed to drive tractors...

Here are a few snippets of news to keep you busy for the rest of August:

1. Helen Hunt is running her second Writing for Women's Magazines workshop on 17th September. Full details on her blog - here. Cost is £30 which includes lunch and a critique of a story to be sent before the course. That is such amazing value for money - if you are anywhere within reach of Northampton it'd be criminal not to go!! Feedback from her last course: 'Very good value for money', 'The course is excellent and a must for anyone wishing to break into the woman's magazine market', 'Very supportive and constructive feedback', 'A fantastic day'.

2. Helen is also offering critiques by email, starting at £15 a story, which is again brilliant value for money. See her blog for details.

3. If you like writing historical pieces, fiction or non-fiction, take a look at this new magazine Vintage Script. They can't offer payment as yet but it would be a publishing credit. I'm considering subscribing to this as I love history (and am writing a historical novel).

4. Bedtime story competition with some nice prizes - £500 first prize - closing date 28th October, 1500-3000 words. This one's free to enter, so there's nothing to lose!

5. And another competition at the Boston Review, first prize $1500 and publication. They want online submissions so I assume the competition is open to anyone in the world. Closing date 1st October, fee $20 which can be paid by credit card. Max word count 4000 words.

6. But BEFORE you enter either of those two, take a look at The Write Place competition, which has a closing date of 31st August, so not much time left. Top prize £100, entry fee £4.50, and the judge is womag writer Linda Lewis aka Catherine Howard. Max word count 1500 words.

7. Finally if you're into Twitter but don't know how to get the best from it, or would like to try Twitter but don't know where to start, Nicola Morgan has written the perfect ebook for you - Tweet Right.

Enjoy what's left of the summer, everyone!

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Write On! competition - the winner!

Hi all

Firstly thank you all so much for all your wonderful entries for the Write On! competition. My son and I had great fun reading them. He made all the decisions, so if you didn't win and think you should have - don't blame me! Given that some of you entered several times I'm guessing you enjoyed writing these as well.

My son read them all twice, then rated them 1, 2 or 3. He discarded the 3s, read the 2s again then discarded them, then re-read the 1s and decided on a first, second and third. Then he slept on it, re-read the top 3 this morning but decided to stick with his decision. He'd scrawled 'I want to read this one' beside the winner. (And it's a real scrawl - he's left-handed and it was his left wrist he fractured. On the mend now, and cast off in 4 weeks. Thanks for all your good wishes for him.)

OK, so, drum roll......

the winner is......

Geoff, with his first entry, which I've reproduced below. Well done Geoff! You realise you're going to have to write this novel now...! Please email me using the link on this blog and let me know your contact details so I can pass them on to Adrian Magson who will send your prize.

2nd was RainbowLou with her entry which begins Who says boredom won't kill you?
3rd was Beverley with her entry which begins Former child progidy Max...

And Womagwriter's Honourable Mention goes to Elaine for her non-fiction book, 50 Things a Teenage Boy Should Never Tell His Mum. I need that book, Elaine, so I can see through all their ploys...

Well done to all.

Winning Entry
When he got the text, teenager Jack Stone prayed it was a joke:


Jack ignored the first instruction . . . and found out it was no joke at all. The bus smashed into the bus queue, killing them all instantly.


In this action-packed thriller, Jack Stone races through the city, committing crimes to order for an unknown master. If he doesn't, his master kills.

Unless Jack can find out . . .

His Master's Secret.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Euro Writer

Calling all non-fiction writers - take a look at this site for a list of English language magazines from across Europe which take articles from freelancers. Handily organised with links to the magazines' online guidelines, and with contacts and requirements/payment details listed for each one.

And don't forget there's still time to enter my little Write On! competition. My son is now back from his camp, complete with plastered arm, and is very much looking forward to judging the comp!

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Write On! Review and competition

I spent a happy Sunday afternoon sitting in the garden sunshine with Adrian Magson. Well, not the man himself but his new must-have for a writer's bookshelf: Write On! The Writer's Help Book. Here's a brief review of the book, followed by a chance to win a signed copy for yourself.

The book is presented as a series of essays, written in an engaging, chatty style. You can read the book straight through from start to finish as I did, as it covers covers everything from 'I wanna be a writer!' to ' Wahey I'm published!' Or you could easily dip in and out of it, open it at random and read a chapter or two. The chapters are organised in sections, eg Writer's Block... or Not?, Kick-Starting Your Mojo; Editing - so whatever your need the book covers it. It's full of ideas and most importantly, inspiration. You find yourself desperate to get back to your current writing project but at the same time wanting to keep reading the book! I definitely recommend this for all writers - beginners who've yet to find their niche or submit anything, through to experienced writers needing a friendly nudge in the right direction.

Magson even manages to use one of my favourite words, pronking, which is not one I ever thought I'd see in a book about writing. I'm not going to tell you in what context - you'll have to get hold of a copy yourself to find out!

So - how to get a copy. Order from Amazon or enter my little competition below. (I was going to put a link so you can order it direct from the publisher Accent Press but can't find the book on their website yet.)

OK, the competition. What I'd like you to do is write a brief description (blurb, pitch, just a couple of paragraphs) of a book aimed at teenage boys. This can be either something you're working on, or something you've made up on the spot - I don't mind. Post your entry as a comment below. You have until 6pm on 17th August.

Why a book aimed at teenage boys?

My poor 16-year old son is away on Explorers camp this week, and yesterday evening I got that phone call every parent dreads. Hi Mum, it's me, I'm in Swansea hospital because I've fractured my wrist playing Laser Quest. They want to keep me in overnight so the specialist can see it tomorrow and decide if it needs an operation...

He's all right. I spoke to him again today and he didn't need an operation after all. He's had a plaster cast put on and is now back at the camp, but excused from washing up and toilet-emptying duties. He'll be missing out on lots of activities, and I'm going to have to cancel loads of things we had booked for the rest of the hols. So your mission in this competition is to cheer him up!

Entries will be judged by my son (who doesn't know it yet) with my help. Tips: wacky and/or lots of battle scenes. We'll post the result up on 18th August, then I'll pass the winner's details on to Adrian who'll send the prize himself.

So come on, get yourself into the mindset of an injured 16 year old and see what you can come up with!

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Bumper Post!

The magazines all publish Bumper Summer Issues so I thought I would join them, as there are loads of snippets of news to tell you all about.

Firstly, I was out shopping today and bought 3 items in WHSmiths which I urge you all to buy also. They are:

1. Writing Magazine, the issue dated September 2011. It contains a marvellous article by Vivien Hampshire, entitled Save Our Short Stories. She's interviewed several fiction editors, and gives a run down on which magazines are not entirely closed to fiction and which are still accepting fiction or even expanding their fiction requirements. She recommends (as do I!) joining the Bring Back Fiction campaign on Facebook. Great article, Viv, and thanks for the blog-plug!

Added 22:20 - just realised this mag also includes an article by Elaine Everest on using your own experiences in your writing, and she's quoted me. I'm everywhere, me! Another reason to buy the mag!

2. The latest issue of Best, which contains a short story by Bernadette James (well done Bernadette!) It also contains a fiction token - you need to collect 4 to enter their forthcoming £1000 short story competition I posted about a couple of weeks ago.

3. Sally Q's latest My Weekly pocket novel, entitled Sunlit Secrets. I believe it's the first 50,000 word pocket novel she's had published (after several 30,000 word ones). It occurred to me that pocket novels are a low-cost, low-tech alternative to Kindles. I've been considering buying a Kindle to keep in my handbag so I would always have something to read. Pocket novels do the same job, for just £1.99 an issue! By the way, get over to Sally's blog for the chance to win a copy of Sunlit Secrets, and also to take part in her forthcoming birthday bash. She even gives away her age. Which I, being two years younger than her, would never do. Oh, oops.

Now then, here's a new ongoing monthly competition site for short stories. It's run by experienced writer, competition judge and Writers' Bureau tutor Andy Ellis. The interesting thing about this competition is that Shirley Blair, the fiction editor of People's Friend, has been in conversation with Andy about these competitions. It's possible that in future winning stories will also be considered for publication in People's Friend. Andy's accepting stories in 4 categories - romance, historical, horror (not for PF!!) and children's. Entry fee £7. Top prize is 70% of total entry fees. Go take a look.

Adrian Magson, whom subscribers to Writing Magazine will know through his regular columns, has written a How To book - Write On! which has just been published. He's sent me a copy, (thanks Adrian!) and has offered a signed copy to a reader of this blog. I'm going to run a little competition in a couple of days time, with this book as the prize so make sure you come back here and enter! The book looks like a very useful addition to any writer's bookshelf - I'll review it when I've finished reading it.

National Short Story week is not until November, but do bookmark this site and keep an eye on what's going on.

Thanks to everyone who has emailed me via this blog to tell me of their successes. I love to hear how this blog has helped people on the road to publication. It's great to know it's not all doom and gloom, and new writers are still able to break into the markets and sell their stories. Keep it up, everyone! And if you do come across a new market or writing opportunity, let me know!

And to those who've asked - editing of my novel is going well. Summer's difficult because of holidays, but I've been able to get on with it in between camping trips. Still on target to have it ready for submission by the end of the year. I veer between thinking, hey, this is ok! and blimey, this is awful. Which I guess is normal and healthy behaviour for novelists.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Historical shorts

With thanks to Romy who sent me a link to this site which is looking for historical short stories for a new publication, Snapshots of History. It looks as though it runs along much the same lines as Scribble where non-subscribers pay £3 to submit, subscribers can submit for free, and the author of the 'winning' story per issue is paid. I think I'll subscribe to this one for a year and see what it's like - am into historical fiction these days!

While we're talking history, here's one of my new favourite blogs - The History Girls - which carries a new post every day and is seriously eating into my editing time.