Monday, 26 March 2012

Children's story competition

If you've ever fancied yourself as a children's story writer then here's an excellent competition for you. Free to enter, top prize £1000! Closing date is 4th June.

Write a 600-800 word story, which starts with the line: "Once upon a Munch time, there was a cow called Munch..." You also need to provide a drawing or picture to illustrate your story.

Full details on the Munch time website.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Inspiration for the weekend

Looking for short story ideas? Try browsing this site, courtesy of my friend Joyce. Someone with too much time on their hands (clearly!) has gone through Google street view, and captured the most interesting stills. The result is a remarkable collection of images, every one of which could inspire a story. (Beware - the images take a while to load up, at least they do on my aging laptop, so be patient.)

I think my favourite is the fox squeezing through a wrought-iron gate. You'll need to scroll down some way to find it. The guy trying to calm his horse in the middle of the road - that has to be somewhere in the west of Ireland. Talking of which - Happy St Patrick's Day to all the Irish out there!

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Novels vs short stories

I've started writing another novel. I'm still in the early stages - about 6,000 words in, but so far it's going well. I've done quite a bit of planning so I know more or less what will happen in each chapter, and can get on and write them relatively quickly.

This means short stories are on the back burner again, after a few months of writing and submitting them again (and a few welcome hits!)

I'm enjoying writing this novel. As with the last one, I find if I only have a few minutes, I can still add a bit to it. I leave my laptop switched on, and the document open (but saved) so it takes no time to get going again. With short stories, I need to have the whole story worked out in my head before I start to write, and I need a good couple of hours to get a complete first draft written. So unless I have a completely free evening, or half-day at the weekend, I won't start a short story. When writing a novel, however, as I can pick it up more quickly, I'm happy to add just a couple of hundred words while the dinner's cooking, or before heading off to Zumba class.

I know other writers who are the opposite - they can start a short story if they've only got ten minutes to spare, but need a couple of hours at a time on a novel, to re-read and edit the last section written, get back into the heads of the characters, and only then add more words.

What about you? Do you need a long stretch of time for a writing session, or can you make do with snatched minutes here and there?

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Two opportunities from Circalit

Here's something for crime writers and short story writers:

Get represented by one of the UK's top literary agencies.
Circalit, the crowd-sourcing platform for writers, has teamed up with literary agency, Luigi Bonomi Associates, to find talented new crime fiction writers. LBA is one of the UK’s top literary agencies and well known for representing authors such as David Gibbins, Alan Titchmarsh, James May, Richard Hammond and many others. Now Thomas Stofer, an agent at LBA, is on the lookout for crime fiction novels to turn into international best sellers. All you need is the first three chapters of your crime fiction work plus a detailed synopsis. So if you want to be a crime fiction writer then enter for free at
The deadline for entries is 30th April, 2012.

Circalit has announced the publication of a short story anthology for Autumn 2012. The Circalit Anthology will be read by over 10,000 subscribers and will be available in paperback and as an eBook. Any short story uploaded onto Circalit will automatically be considered for the anthology. Simply create an account at and upload your short stories to be eligible. The deadline for entries is 31st March, 2012.

For further information please contact:
Robert Tucker

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Before She Was Mine

It's two weeks until Mother's Day. Here's a great suggestion for a present for your mum (or for yourself, why not!)
Kate Long's latest book, Before She Was Mine, is now out in paperback. It tells the story of Freya, who has two mothers - her adoptive mother Liv, who's an environmentalist earth-mother type; and her birth mother Melody who is vibrant and bohemian, still acting like a teenager herself. When Liv gets cancer and Melody gets pregnant, Freya is pulled in many directions and has a lot to deal with.

It's a brilliant book - full of quirky detail and characters who leap off the page. Thoroughly recommended.

The publisher are also running a competition connected with the launch of this book - win a luxury spa day for two at Champneys. Actually I wasn't going to mention this, as I want to win it myself, but this blog's about sharing info so I suppose, reluctantly, I should give you the link.
Edited to add - Kate has kindly offered to send personalised book-plates if you contact her via her website (linked above). That'll make it a really special present!