All the names went into a cereal bowl (not with the Weetabix!) and the winner was drawn.
It is … (pause for effect with camera close-ups of all the contestants to see how they’re bearing up to the tension) …
Thank you to everybody that entered – it’s reassuring to know that I’m not blogging into a big black hole where nobody’s listening!
On Saturday I went to Morley in Yorkshire to collect my certificate for the Friends of Morley Literature Festival Short Story Competition. It was a lovely evening which featured Andrew McMillan (not sure if he’s any relation to Ian) reading poetry that had been written for a special project undertaken in conjunction with the Literature Festival.
Four families in the area chose paintings from Leeds Art Gallery to hang in their homes for 3 months. Andrew went out to visit these families and talk to them about how they felt about the art works. He then used these conversations as triggers for poems. Three local schools also chose pictures to hang in their classrooms for a similar project but this time the children wrote the poems with Andrew acting as their mentor.
Andrew has a wonderful way of performing poetry and he brought the children’s colourful language & unusual ideas to life with his gestures, timing and strong regional accent. Similarly, hearing him read his own poems made them so much more vivid (for a non-poet like me) than simply reading words on a page.
So, to be a successful poet do you have to be able to perform with panache and carry the audience with your words? Or can you succeed as a shrinking violet? I imagine that few people buy books of poetry these days and therefore a confident performance is essential to build a following.
The evening continued with a gig by the comedian Arthur Smith (of Grumpy Old Men). He was brilliant but surprised me by including poems (which he knew off by heart) in his act. My favourite was The Mower by Philip Larkin, which is a rather sad tale about a hedgehog.
Also – until midnight on Friday (14th October 2011) I am donating £1 to the RNIB for each new subscriber to this blog. Simply enter your email address in the box on the right – it’s free and you can unsubscribe at any time. More information is here.
How much are you prepared to pay to enter a writing competition?
Entry fees can range from nothing to £10+ and if you enter a lot of competitions (which many of us do due to the dearth of short story markets) it can get very expensive.
Personally, I prefer a smaller percentage ratio given the large amount of entrants that most competitions attract – if I’m paying £5 then I’d like the first prize to be £100. However, if the money is going to charity or a critique of each entry is included in the fee then I am happy to make an exception and pay more.
Paying a fee to enter a competition does sharpen the mind. If I’m paying for entry then I won’t send an existing story that ‘almost’ fits the requirements - I will write a new one that fully embraces the theme of the competition and, as far as I can tell, fits the style required.
But there’s nothing to beat the gay abandon induced by free competitions with email entry. There is literally nothing to lose with these comps (not even the price of a large letter stamp and A4 envelope). It is a terrible shame not to enter them - so if there’s no time to write something new then I dig an old story out of the archives and give it a quick polish.
Yesterday I did just that and sent an entry in to this competition:
Write a story for bedtime - this is sponsored by A. Vogel Herbal Remedies and it is an Adult bedtime story they are after (no, not that sort of adult). The story must be between 1500 and 3000 words and four prizes will be awarded – 1st: £500, 2nd: £300, 2 x 3rd: £100 each. Additionally, there is an extra £50 to be had if your entry is chosen as ‘Story of the Month’.
Womag writer Della Galton is one of the judges and ‘due consideration will be given by the judges on the appropriateness of the short story for bedtime’. The current ‘Story of the Month’ is written by one of the judges and fits neatly into the Womag mould with a nice, happy ending.
Closing date is 28th October 2011.
Many thanks to Susan Jones for sending me this great award!
The rules of the award state that I have to tell you 7 things about myself and then pass the award on to 7 more deserving bloggers. So here goes!
- I am a campanologist (church bellringer) and have rung 2 peals in my ringing career (a peal is 3 hours of non-stop ringing).
- I’ve been writing on and off for around 17 years but only started taking it more seriously two and a half years ago when I teamed up with my writing buddy Helen Yendall.
- I have run 2 Half Marathons (both in Birmigham – 2008 & 2010) – I think they were the result of some sort of panicky mid-life crisis!
- In my day job I am a computer programmer – so often don’t fancy writing in the evening when I’ve stared at a computer screen all day.
- I love watching ‘murder’ drama serials on TV such as Midsomer Murders, Waking the Dead, Silent Witness etc. If you throw in some red wine and dark chocolate then I’m really in heaven!
- On William & Kate’s wedding day I attended (& helped organise) my first ever street party. It was great fun and our road is now looking forward to another for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee next year.
- I love routine! All the bank holidays over the last few weeks have played havoc with my writing time so now I’m looking forward to getting back to normal!
Next week I’ll announce the 7 worthy blogs that I’m passing this award on to.
Today I’m taking part in my first ever blogfest. The task is to describe a setting that tells the reader something about a character’s personality. More info here.
I’ve chosen to describe the flat of Claire, who is the heroine in my work-in-progress. Here goes:
A Word document is open on the laptop and beneath its heading of ‘Ballerina Fairy Cakes’ is a list of ingredients plus unfinished instructions to pre-heat the oven and cream the butter and sugar. Next to the computer, on a white china plate, is a small pink sponge confection, topped with mauve butter icing and silver balls. An image of this cake is on the screen of the digital camera lying on the cream leather settee.
A brown Dralon armchair is almost completely hidden by a cream throw and on top of this is a pile of cookery magazines with bits cut out of them. The cuttings have been given the protection of a plastic sleeve and popped in a ring-binder. These articles all share the same by-line – Claire Draper. Claire’s thumbnail photo in the glossy publications is a slightly older version of the girl in cap and gown standing on the tiled fireplace.
A utilitarian gas fire squats in the hollow formed by the chocolate brown tiles. In front of this is a crystal vase holding a dozen red roses. A small rectangular card, propped against the glass and handwritten in fountain pen, reads ‘Six weeks and 3 days until we walk down the aisle. Love you always, Tom.’
On the mantelpiece several cards jostle for position with the silver-framed graduation photograph. They all carry the same message ‘Wedding Acceptance’, in a variety of fonts, colours and sizes.
An archway leads to the small kitchen where two large white plastic mixing bowls sit upside down on the draining board. The black granite effect work surface holds a food processor, its clear plastic bowl scratched through regular use. The cappuccino maker is boxed and a piece of torn wrapping paper is still stuck to the cardboard, it’s heavily creased but a diamond ring and the words ‘Happy Engagement’ are obvious.
Bananas, apples and kiwis sit in a wooden bowl next to a half-empty box of Jaffa cakes. An ironing-board and ‘Henry’ vaccuum cleaner have been squeezed into a space between the end of the work top and the lemon-painted wall.
The bathroom is windowless with a white suite and white walls. A large mirror hangs over the sink but the light decor and reflecting glass do not create the planned illusion of space. Shampoo, bubble bath and cocoa butter body lotion balance precariously along the edge of the bath. Toothpaste, soap and moisturiser clutter the hand-basin and a toilet roll sits on the radiator.
Jeans and a sweatshirt hang over the back of a dining-chair in the bedroom. Boots, trainers, and court shoes stand in line beneath the dressing table. The pink striped quilt is folded back, revealing a crumpled pair of cotton pyjamas and well-hugged teddy bear.