Free E-Book: Pete’s Story from The Museum of Fractured Lives

July 25, 2015 4 comments

It seems like ages since I did a free offer on one of my Kindle books and I don’t think Pete’s Story has ever been free before. Pete's Story - The Museum of Fractured Lives

So here is a rare opportunity for you to get something for nothing from me!

Most of you will be familiar with the concept of The Museum of Fractured Lives. It displays objects donated by people who have suffered a trauma in their lives and each novella in the series tells the story behind one of the objects.

Pete donates a cassette tape to the Museum but he needs some persuading to tell its story. He hides behind dark glasses, fearful of his true identity being revealed. Eventually, he tells how he fell in love with Sarah almost thirty years ago when he was twenty-one. At the time he was singing in a band and living in a bedsit. Sarah was eighteen and had just left school. They planned their life together. Sarah would manage the band and it would become a worldwide success. But the couple’s future goes awry.

Pete’s Story is a ‘flash’ novella of approximately 9,000 words and you can get it by clicking here. It’s free for the next five days, until 29th July 2015.

Enjoy! (and if you do, I’d really appreciate a review on Amazon!)

Blurb Poll – The Results

July 16, 2015 9 comments

Many thanks to all of you who took the time to vote and/or comment on the possible blurbs for my novel.

The poll winner, taking 50% of the votes, was the second blurb, ‘Single incidents shape our lives’. But Hilary Custance Green wisely pointed out that the shout-line was a little preachy. She suggested ‘The  Butterfly Effect’ instead, which I think is much better too.

In second place was the final blurb, ‘Opposites attract’. This attracted 42% of the votes, including Anne Harvey who beta-read an early version of the manuscript – does that give her opinion more weight?

Last was, ‘Nature or nurture’ which gained only 8% of the vote. But one of supporters of this one was Julia Thorley, who used to write blurbs for non-fiction titles in her role as an editor – so perhaps it shouldn’t be ruled out completely?

Which blurb will I go with?
My personal favourite is the blurb that topped the poll, especially with its new ‘Butterfly Effect’ shout-line. I’m pleased it won. When I did this voting exercise with the three members of my immediate family, none of them chose it. That made me think I may be out of tune with what attracts readers, hence the reason I did the poll.

I have learnt that opinions on blurbs are very subjective. No blurb will attract every reader, so going with the poll majority may be the best thing to do.

Thanks again to everyone who voted and here’s the winner again:

The Butterfly Effect
A stupid mistake ended Ian’s marriage. Now he’s trying to put it right.
Sandra got pregnant as a teenager. Now she’s fighting to make a good life for her daughter.
Maxine made an important decision behind her boyfriend’s back. His reaction devastates all their lives…
Bedsit Three is a tale of mystery and romance. It won the inaugural Ian Govan Award and was shortlisted for both the Silverwood-Kobo-Berforts Open Day Competition and the Writing Magazine/McCrit Competition.

How to Write a Novel Blurb

July 9, 2015 22 comments

I’ve been playing around trying to write a blurb for my novel. The blurb is that important paragraph or two which appears on the book’s back cover and may also form part of the Amazon product description. It has to hook, entice and leave readers with absolutely no option but to buy the book!

Searching the internet for help brings up lots of tips and information.

  • The website Blurb concludes that it should introduce the main character, create intrigue and not give away the whole story.
  • SilverWood Books adds some more pointers. Write in the present tense, use evocative, emotive words and have a ‘shout line’ that encapsulates the novel and could act as a subtitle for the blurb.
  • Digital Book World says the blurb should be short and dramatic.
  • Alison Baverstock on the Writers and Artists website says, “Stand back and hover above; try to create mood, feeling and value for what you have written, rather than describing it in endless detail.”

I’ve come up with three possible blurbs but I’m too close to the book to judge them objectively. So, I’d be most grateful for any comments and/or votes in the poll below.

Here are the blurbs, subtitled with their ‘shout line':

Nature or nurture?
Ignatius is the product of a domineering mother. Ian hardly knew his father. Sandra is a single mum living on the poverty line. They all want a better life and someone to share it with.
But now one of them has done something very bad for the second time…
Bedsit Three is a tale of mystery and romance. It won the inaugural Ian Govan Award and was shortlisted for both the Silverwood-Kobo-Berforts Open Day Competition and the Writing Magazine/McCrit Competition.

Single incidents shape our lives.
A stupid mistake ended Ian’s marriage. Now he’s trying to put it right.
Sandra got pregnant as a teenager. Now she’s fighting to make a good life for her daughter.
Maxine made an important decision behind her boyfriend’s back. His reaction devastates all their lives…
Bedsit Three is a tale of mystery and romance. It won the inaugural Ian Govan Award and was shortlisted for both the Silverwood-Kobo-Berforts Open Day Competition and the Writing Magazine/McCrit Competition.

Opposites attract.
Divorced Ian is middleclass and educated. Single mum Sandra has no qualifications and lives on the breadline. Both will fight for the very best for their offspring. Both would like someone special back in their lives.
But the ex-tenant of bedsit three has a secret waiting to engulf all three of them…
Bedsit Three is a tale of mystery and romance. It won the inaugural Ian Govan Award and was shortlisted for both the Silverwood-Kobo-Berforts Open Day Competition and the Writing Magazine/McCrit Competition.

 

A Simple Tip for Finding a Literary Agent

June 27, 2015 15 comments

Are you trawling through the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook searching for suitable literary agents?

Here’s a simple tip that was given at a writers’ networking event I attended a few weeks ago:

Start at ‘Z’ and work backwards through the agents’ list in the Yearbook.

Apparently, agents at the end of the alphabet receive fewer submissions than those at the beginning, therefore you may have a better chance of being picked up by an agent with a name beginning with ‘X’, ‘Y’ or ‘Z’.

This is, of course, in addition to checking that the agent deals with your genre, is open to submissions etc. etc.

Maybe worth a try?

 

Two Competitions From Erewash Writers

June 19, 2015 2 comments

Debbie from Erewash Writers has been in touch with information about their latest short story competitions:

The first one is FREE to enter. It has a theme of ‘Summer Loving’  and there is a maximum of 1,200 words in which to tell the story. The closing date is 27th August 2015 and the judge is Andrew Campbell-Kearsey, author of more than 100 published short stories. The winner will receive Andrew’s book ‘Centurionman‘, one free entry to the Erewash Open Short Story Competition 2016 plus online publication of the story on their website and Facebook page. Full competition details can be found here.

The second competition is the Erewash Open Short Story Competition, closing September 24th 2015. Entry fees are a reasonable £3 per entry or £2.50 if entering two or more stories. The competition has an open theme and 2,000 words limit.  The judge is Simon Whaley. There are two categories to this competition: New Writer and Open.
Prizes are: £100 First, £50 Second, £25 Third, £25 Fourth plus two ‘Highly Commended’ each win 2016 comp free entry.
Full competition details can be found here.

So, no reason not to pick up your pen and get busy this weekend!

Midsummer Dreams

June 12, 2015 7 comments

Dreams are weird and wonderful things. They can disappear the moment we wake or linger in the mind for days. Sometimes we dream the same thing night after night. Other times we consciously try to re-dream something and it doesn’t happen. Midsummer Dreams by Alison May

I’ve had one dream recur intermittently for many years. I dream that exam time is looming but I’ve done absolutely no revision. However hard I try to find time to revise, it doesn’t happen and I go into the exam totally unprepared. But I always wake up before I turn the exam paper over and read the questions.

This probably says something deep and meaningful about my waking life.

A bit of internet surfing, brought up a list of the Top 10 Common Dreams and Their Meanings. Number 6, ‘Failing a Test’, correlates most closely to my dream and the meaning given is, “…you are feeling tested in some way in your real life. You may feel that you are unprepared for something or playing the wrong part in life.”

That does tie in with my waking life, I like to be in control and ready for whatever life might throw at me.

Unsurprisingly, the most common dream listed is ‘Falling or Sinking’ and I’ve had that one too, where you always wake up before hitting the bottom. The explanation is, “…  you are overwhelmed in life and feel ready to give up.” Maybe I need to get my life in order and then I can have some sweet dreams!

One person who’s put dreams to good use is romantic novelist, Alison May. Her latest novel, Midsummer Dreams, is published by Choc Lit today. Here’s the enticing blurb:

Four people. Four messy lives. One party that changes everything …
Emily is obsessed with ending her father’s new relationship – but is blind to the fact that her own is far from perfect.
Dominic has spent so long making other people happy that he’s hardly noticed he’s not happy himself.
Helen has loved the same man, unrequitedly, for ten years. Now she may have to face up to the fact that he will never be hers.
Alex has always played the field. But when he finally meets a girl he wants to commit to, she is just out of his reach.
At a midsummer wedding party, the bonds that tie the four friends together begin to unravel and show them that, sometimes, the sensible choice is not always the right one.

So Midsummer Dreams promises to be a sweet experience even if your own dream life (like mine) leaves something to be desired!

The Short Story Competition 2015

June 7, 2015 2 comments

The Short Story Competition 2015 is now open for entries. The competition has been running annually since 2011 and ‘… showcases the best short stories from around the world.’

First prize is £300, second prize is £150 and third prize is £50. The winners will be published on the website and may be included in a future anthology. The competition has an open theme and the word limit is 1,000 to 5,000.

Entry fee is £5 via PayPal and the closing date is 15th September 2015 – so it could be a nice project to work on over the summer.

Don’t forget to check the full submission guidelines.

Good Luck!

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