Apologies to those of you who were looking out for my regular Monday lunchtime post this week. I’ve decided that since so many people are on holiday at the moment, I’m going to take a short break from blogging. Normal service will be resumed in September.
Over the next couple of weeks, amongst other things, I’ll be reading and reviewing The Barbarian Nurseries by Hector Tobar for the Waterstones website. If you fancy reviewing books for Waterstones (no payment but you get to keep the book) grab yourself a Waterstone’s loyalty card and click here to see the current book prize draws, each has around 25 copies of a forthcoming title up for grabs in return for providing a review.
I also hope to find time to read Sally Quilford’s My Weekly pocket novel ‘Sunlit Secrets’. I recently won a signed copy via Sally’s blog and am hoping that it will point me in the right direction with my own pocket novel. I have a 50,000 word first draft sitting in a corner waiting to be edited…
If you would like to be notified when I start posting again, please put your email address in the box on the right and you’ll receive my next (and subsequent) posts via email. It’s free and you can unsubscribe at any time.
By the way, the beach photo is just wishful thinking – although I do hope to manage a cycle ride in the local park plus an icream (everyone deserves a treat!).
See you soon!
Emerald Writing Workshops 2012 Competition Calendar is out now!
These competitions are entering their third year with an increased prize pot of £100 per competition – First £65, second £20, third £15 plus three runners-up each receive a book of short stories. Entry is only £1.80 (overseas entrants can pay via PayPal) and I think that’s really good value!
All the competitions are for a 500 word piece of flash fiction and the 2012 themes are as follows:
- Story set on a train – closes 28/02/12
- Story including the words ‘Nobody will ever know’ – closes 31/5/12
- Story about anything you like – closes 31/8/12
- Story on the theme ‘Trapped’ – closes 30/11/12
Plus, if you enter any of the above (or have entered any of the 2010/2011 comps) then you can submit a Four Sentence Story. This is free to enter and 5 winners will each receive £20.
Entries are by post only but entries from different people or for more than one competition can all go in the same envelope.
Full details of how to enter are here along with winning entries from previous competitions.
This post is being brought to you in association with Sally Quilford’s 48th Birthday Celebrations on August 11th 2011.
Many of us whinge that we don’t have enough time to write. Home and work commitments are always getting in the way -I use this as an excuse for my lack of writing as much as anyone. So, here is a 7 day plan that involves writing for just 48 minutes per day and by the end of it you should have a short article all ready to go.
- Day 1 – visit a large newsagent and spend 48 minutes finding your market. Look for a magazine that covers something you know at least little about (i.e. write what you know so that the research isn’t too onerous). Check out the list of staff in the front of the magazine and compare to the ‘by’ lines on each article in order to check how much is written in-house and much is freelance provided. Buy the magazine you think you could write something for. (N.B. In a perfect world you would buy 2 or 3 issues of the magazine over a number of weeks/months in order to get a feel for which articles are regular columns and which are the one-off freelance features that we are aiming at) .
- Day 2 - make yourself a cup of coffee and sit down with a large sheet of paper. Set a timer for 48 minutes and then brainstorm! Dream up as many article ideas as possible for your chosen publication. For example, if you’ve chosen a dog magazine then your list could include ‘How to Choose a Dog Walker’, ’10 Tips for Taking Your Dog on Holiday’ or ‘Famous People and their Dogs’.
- Day 3 - choose which of the articles shows the most promise and spend 48 minutes writing an outline. Include an introduction (not too long – get straight to the point of the article), each point that you want to make and a conclusion.
- Day 4 - pitch the idea, via email, to the editor of the magazine. If you want some help on how to put together the perfect pitch have a look at Simon Whaley’s article here.
- Day 5 - start writing the article. If you don’t want to stop after 48 minutes that’s fine – keep going whilst the enthusiasm is high! Hopefully by now you’ll have stopped looking for displacement activities like cleaning out the kitchen cupboards.
- Day 6 - finish writing the article. Then find someone to read it aloud to – this will help you spot clumsy sentences, missing words, bad grammar etc. (this bit can be in addition to the 48 minutes since it can involve the rest of the family and therefore isn’t strictly ‘writing time’).
- Day 7 - spend the last 48 minutes having a final read through the article and then, submit !
For the purposes of simplicity I have assumed that the above activities will take place on 7 consecutive days. In reality there will probably be a gap between days 4 and 5 whilst you wait for a response to your pitch (fill this gap by starting work on a second idea). It might also be wise to leave a gap between days 6 and 7 so that you can re-read the article with fresh eyes before sending it off.
That just leaves me to wish Sally a ‘Happy 48th Birthday’ and thank her for the challenge to write a blog post based on ’48′.
Yours is a fortnightly lifestyle magazine targeting women aged 55+ and offers several slots for getting into print:
- Your Memories – send in ‘an amazing story’ (no more than 1000 words) from your past plus photos for a chance to earn £100.
- Travel – send a 300 word review of your holiday plus a picture with you in it. Each story printed receives £50.
- Grandkids Gallery – send in a photo of your grandchild or something funny that they’ve said. All those printed receive a £10 High Street voucher
- Meeting Place - this is described as ‘the heart of the magazine’ and welcomes funny stories, rants and photos. Every contribution featured gets a £10 High Street voucher and the Star letter gets £25.
- I followed my dream - £25 for 200 words
- Amazing at 80+ - £25 for 200 words plus a photo
- Fashion we wore - send in your picture of fashion from the past plus 60 words describing it for a £10 High Street voucher.
- Short story – the magazine uses one short story per issue. The guidelines are on the magazine’s website here.
- Nostalgia features - up to 1000 words. The guidelines are on the magazine’s website here.
Remember to study a few issues of the magazine in order to get a feel for the style before sending anything in and don’t expect a fast turnaround for anything you submit – Yours receives around 1500 letters and emails every fortnight and asks fiction and feature writers to allow 6 months before chasing their submissions.
Yours also publishes a hardback annual in the run up to Christmas and a short story which I submitted to the magazine a few years ago was eventually selected for publication in the annual instead, so there appears to be some crossover between the two publications.
If you fancy a visit to Bath next April, have a go at one (or both) of these annual competitions run by the West Country Writers’ Association:
- Short story competition – the winner will receive £50 in cash and will also be invited to spend one day at the 2012 West Country Writers’ Annual Congress in Bath (20th to 22nd April). Entries must not exceed 1200 words and can be on any theme but must include the words JANE AUSTEN. Entry fee is £5 and the competition is only open to writers who have had no more than 2 short stories professionally published or read on the radio. Closing date 12th December 2011.
- West Country Writers’ Bursary - all aspiring authors are invited to apply for this annual award. The bursary pays for an individual to attend the annual congress, including accommodation for two nights, all meals, which include the annual luncheon, and entry to the AGM and all talks by well-known writers, or others associated with publishing. To apply write a letter outlining your literary achievements so far, your hopes for future success, and a brief explanation of why you would like to attend the congress. No closing date on the website for this so I’d get your entries in early. It is a fantastic prize and all you have to do is write a letter!
Those of you that read this blog regularly will know that I was awarded the West Country Writers’ Association bursary last year and enjoyed a wonderful weekend in a lovely hotel near Plymouth in April. It was a great chance to chat with other writers and learn from their experiences. There is more about my experience here.
Full details of this year’s competitions, including where to send your entries, is here.