I’ve just come back from visiting my mother-in-law in North London. She took me to see the lovely new library in Enfield and whilst I was there I picked up some information on The Enfield Mayor’s Poetry Competition with a £500 first prize. There is £200 and £100 for second and third places plus a special prize of £50 for a poem using Enfield as its theme. The closing date for the competition is 31st January 2011 and it will be judged by Mario Petrucci.
The competition is open to anyone aged 16 or over. Poems must be previously unpublished and not exceed 50 lines. Entries should not identify the author but a cover sheet should be included giving contact details. No entry form is required. The entry fee is £3 per poem or £10 for 4 poems. Full details and comprehensive rules (including where to send your poems) can be found by clicking here.
The purpose of the competition is to raise funds for the mayor’s charity appeal which, this year, is supporting the arts in Enfield.
Best of luck to all you poets out there!
Christmas is coming and time is in short supply so just a quick post to wish you all:
A Very Happy Christmas and a Successful Writing Year in 2011!
And in case you get bored over the next few festive days here are a couple of websites to keep you busy.
If you’re looking for a market for your work try www.magazinesabout.co.uk
This site allows you to search on a subject, such as knitting, in order to find a magazine to target with your article.
Or if you’re looking for inspiration try www.sixtysecondwriter.blogspot.com
This site provides lots of prompts for short fiction – but of course you could use them for any sort of writing.
See Results update at the end of this post.
Reader’s Digest are running a 100 word story competition. Stories should be original, unpublished and exactly 100 words long (99-worders will be disqualified). The title will not be included in the 100 words.
Email your stories to email@example.com by January 31. The winner will receive £5,000 and the two runners-up a £100 book token each. All 3 stories will be published in Reader’s Digest.
There is also a schools’ section to the competition with the winner in each of the 2 age groups getting £1000 in high street vouchers plus £1000 for the winners’ schools.
Full details of the competition can be found here.
However; there has been some controversy in writing circles about the terms and conditions of this competition. These state that ‘contributions become world copyright of Vivat Direct Ltd (t/a Reader’s Digest)’.
This means that Reader’s Digest take the copyright of all stories entered, not just the winning stories that are published in the magazine - therefore you couldn’t then publish or enter your (winning or losing) story in a similar competition elsewhere. There has been discussion about this on the Writers’ News Talkback Forum, with the participants split between those willing to give up copyright on their story for the chance to win £5,000 and those who thought that writers should never give up copyright on anything without some form of payment or acknowledgement.
Gill Hudson, editor-in-chief of Reader’s Digest, explained the policy to Alex Gazzola in the January issue of Writers’ News.
“We’ve had to do it this way beacuse, with the small team we have, and the sheer practicalities of thousands of entries, I don’t think we could run this competition if we had to deal with all the various rights, permissions and queries that could potentially arise.”
You will have your own opinion about whether you want to give away your carefully crafted 100-word story in exchange for a chance at a £5000 jackpot. Personally, I think it’s worth the gamble. I do recycle work that is rejected by its original target market or fails to make the grade in a competition. However, I usually find that the work has to be tweaked in some way before it can be resubmitted, this may mean lengthening or shortening it or changing the tone slightly to fit the new market. I expect this would be the case if I wanted to recycle my 100 word story for another micro fiction market – it may have to be moulded to fit a set theme or again, made longer or shorter to suit the new requirements.
So, I will make a note on the filed copy of my entry, to remind myself to wait until the results of the Reader’s Digest competition have been announced and then (if I lose) to change the story substantially before resubmission.
POST UPDATED 21 APRIL 2011
The winner is announced here. The standard of writing was so high that Reader’s Digest have decided to feature one story a day on their website – please leave a comment if yours is featured so that we can all admire it!
No, there isn’t a mistake in the title of this post – I really do mean Christmas 2011.
Magazines and newspapers use lots of Christmas themed features and stories but it’s very hard to sit down in the middle of summer and write a tale featuring Father Christmas and snowmen. And how do you motivate yourself to do that article on Christmas Traditions when you’re buying suncream and bikinis? Don’t think you can put these pieces off until the nights start drawing in – by then Christmas issues will have been finalised and will be almost ready to hit the shelves.
If you want to be published during Christmas 2011 you need to start preparing now.
- Cut out and file festive features from magazines and newspapers. The same Christmas topics come round year after year – you need to give them a fresh angle, a different viewpoint or add some fresh research of your own. Use the cuttings as an ideas springboard to go off on your own tangent – don’t copy them!
- Study the short stories in magazines. Make a note of which publications go for the cute and cosy stories and which like something a little bit more realistic. Look at the types of characters in the stories and the settings.
- Start a new notebook and label it Christmas ideas. Put one idea on the top of each page and work forwards through the book for fiction ideas and start at the back for articles. In the lead up to Christmas flesh out each of these ideas as much as you can with bullet points about what you might include in the article or how the story plot might develop.
- In those lazy days between Christmas and New Year, push the Quality Streets to one side, turn off the television and write a couple of those stories or articles. It will be much easier to do it now whilst the tree is still up, the weather is cold and the radio is playing Slade.
- Get out your new calendar, diary or phone and make a note to revisit these finished pieces in the summer. Proof read them and then get them submitted in good time.
If you’re really stuck for ideas here a few links to get you going:
It’s at Mackworth Library on Saturday January 29th, 10:00 am until 3:45 pm and costs £25, including tea and coffee. According to the web-site, the workshop ‘will help you address some of the challenges of novel-writing – from planning and structure to plot and characterisation. Most of all, it will help you tackle some of those anxieties that make it so hard to get started’.
For full details and how to book click here.
It sounds like a good way to kick-start writing in 2011. I shall be going and it would be great to meet some of you there – let me know if you decide to sign-up.
Many thanks to Helen Yendall for telling me about this workshop and a reminder that time is running out to win the pile of writing books on offer at her blog. All you have to do is leave a comment on Helen’s blog by clicking here – it needn’t be deep and meaningful, just a few words agreeing or disagreeing with one of her posts – and you will go into the prize draw.
It’s one of the first things that we are ever told as writers – always carry a notebook. In it we should write snatches of overheard conversation, descriptions of characters that we see in the street or the beauty of the sunset on our way through the park.
For years I didn’t carry a notebook but recently I’ve started stuffing one in my handbag ‘just in case’. I seldom write in it because I feel self-conscious standing in the check-out queue writing down what the woman in front is saying or wearing but on occasion I’ve found a coffee shop and had a quick scribble.
But now I’ve got these little gems in my notebook (and presumably over the months and years I will build up several of these books) – how do I find what I want when I want it? Unless it fits my current work in progress how do I catalogue it until I need it?
There is no order to my notebook, just odd words, sentences or sometimes a whole paragraph (if I’m lucky) on disjointed subjects. When I’m deep into my novel and need an old lady character, how will I know which notebook holds the description I’m looking for?
The writer, Caro Clarke, believes that few good writers will break their narrative flow to go rooting in notebooks for something they jotted down years ago (and will they even remember they wrote it?). She says “When you are really writing, the words you need come to you. The words the story needs arise from writing it.”
I tend to agree with Caro but because this notebook mantra is so widespread, I feel that I am missing something obvious.
The best idea I could find on the internet for organising a notebook was here. It suggests buying one of those books containing subject dividers and using the sections as you find appropriate e.g. titles, dialogue, characters etc. This makes sense until you’ve filled more than one notebook.
What about you – do you use a notebook? If so, how do you retrieve what you’ve written in the past? Or do you think they’re a waste of time?
Leave a comment and maybe between us we can find the best way of retaining those ideas, characters and flashes of inspiration that occur whilst we’re out and about.
I heard today that I’ve been awarded a bursary to attend the West Country Writers’ Association 2011 Annual Congress in Plymouth next April! Two nights and three days away from home to indulge in all things literary – I can’t wait. Speakers include Jean Saunders, Rachel Billington and Rebecca Tope.
Applicants for the bursary had to write a letter outlining their literary achievements so far, their hopes for the future and why they would like to attend the Congress.
If you fancy joining me, the Association is also running a short story competition with a first prize of £50 and 24 hours at the Congress. Stories can be on any theme but must include the word ‘Dartmoor’ and be less than 1200 words. The closing date is 12th December and entry is only open to those with no more than two short stories professionally published. Full details are here.
Many years ago when I was starting out on my writing career I did a correspondence course with The Writers’ Bureau. For one of my first assignments I wrote a short article about Birmingham Botanical Gardens and my tutor suggested I send it to This England. I did and they published it in their Cornucopia section. I got paid and felt like a real writer.
This is a good market to aim for if you want to have a go at non-fiction writing.
This England is a glossy, quarterly magazine for “all who love our green and pleasant land.” It contains illustrated articles on English history, traditions and towns and is “read by two million patriots all over the world”.
The Cornucopia section consists of several short pieces, some written in house and some supplied by freelances. They range in length from around 250 to 400 words and cover topics such as the centenary of a Brighton cinema, Digswell Lake near Welwyn Garden City and recyling at Chatsworth House. I’ve found that the easiest pieces to get accepted are those based on an anniversary of some kind, e.g. 50 years since the birth of X, 75 years since building Y was opened.
The magazine’s Guide for Contributors states that articles should be “about our country’s people and places – its natural beauty, towns and villages, traditions, odd customs, legends, folklore, surviving crafts, etc. ” Short poems (6 to 24 lines) that are meaningful rather than clever are also accepted.
The best way of getting a feel for the style and content of the magazine is get hold of a copy (it is available in WH Smith and other good newsagents).
Submit your article (with an SAE) to:
The Editor (MSS)
P.O. Box 52
Material related to a particular date or season should be sent at least 6 months in advance. A decision on work submitted can take up to 3 months and be warned if you chase the fate of your piece before the full 3 months has elapsed, the Guide says “Material is invariably returned without further consideration to an over-zealous contributor.”
Payment is £25 per 1,000 words plus a contributor’s copy of the magazine.