Friday 30 December 2011

A Competition Reminder for New Year Resolutions...

If you're contemplating your New Year writing resolutions and are thinking about entering competitions in 2012, then don't forget the Good Housekeeping novel competition- details here.

You need the entry form from the January 2012 issue of the magazine which will only be available for a few more days, so if you want to enter the competition and you haven't got your form yet, you need to look for the magazine now.

I managed to enter a couple of competitions during 2011 (which I hadn't previously planned to) so I fulfilled one of the targets I set myself in 2010.

So in 2012 I'm going to concentrate on my novel and the novella. And when I need a break there's a couple of short stories to finish off and submit...

I'll try and enter other competitions during the year, but the free GH one is a must do.

So whatever your resolutions for the coming year, I wish you good luck and much success.

Wednesday 21 December 2011

Merry Christmas...

Only a few days left until Christmas Day so this will be my last post for a week.

So I just wanted to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year...

So enjoy the festivities and start making plans for 2012.

I'll be planning work on my novel and the novella- I just wonder which hero will win out; the patient Marcus or the sometimes impatient Hugh...

Merry Christmas card image by digitalart.

Monday 19 December 2011

E-Book News Before Christmas...

As there are sure to be numerous e-readers being unwrapped this Christmas, I hope some of your books are bought to be read on them...

According to some commentators downloading e-books seems to have become a Boxing Day activity...

2010 and into 2011 has seen ups and downs in the e-book world. First the furore over some publishers moving to the 'agency model' for pricing of their e-books-which resulted in temporary unavailability of their books on the websites of Waterstones, The Book Depository and Amazon until agreements were brokered...

Earlier this month the OFT (Office of Fair Trading) announced that they were closing their investigation into e-book sales (and probably also the agency model issue). They began this investigation in January this year, and not long after that the European authorities raided the Euro based offices of some publishers, for their own enquiries into possible competition violations.

You can read my past blog post about this subject at the time here and here.

The OFT have closed their investigation citing "because the OFT believes, following discussions with the European Commission, that the European Commission is currently well placed to arrive at a comprehensive resolution of this matter and will do so as a matter of priority." Read the Bookseller article here.

Perhaps the OFT discovered during the course of their investigations that it was too big an issue to handle by themselves (but that's just my opinion).

If you have the time it is worth reading the article by Juliette Garside from The Observer and Guardian website. Apple's need to avoid drowning in the Amazon ocean has also brought them into the investigation too.

I've certainly noticed a difference in prices for print versions of books compared to digital this Christmas. But whatever the Commission's results,  2012 is certainly going to be an interesting year for digital.

And if you do get an e-reader for Christmas, enjoy. :-)

Friday 16 December 2011

If You Use Amazon Community Forums to Promote- Read This Now...

A few months back I mentioned the problems some writers were having with promoting their books on the forums- where even a mention of your book within a discussion could get you banned.

So this announcement from Amazon is very important. Read the statement here. It applies from the 15th December- yesterday. Thanks to Carol Arnall for bringing it to my attention.

"Shameless self-promotion activity will be limited to the `Meet Our Authors' community. Promotional threads outside of these forums will be removed. " (Extract from the statement from the Amazon Community Team.)

Now forgive me for being naive, but how will you make readers aware of your books without shameless self-promotion?

You can add your views here.

Will potential buyers arriving at Amazon be given the option to go to the Meet Our Authors section? Probably not, until Amazon see a large section of their market not performing to their calculations, or they get complaints...

Will readers realise that it is for them too? Not every reader is aware of how much information there is available beyond the main information pages.

As Amazon haven't distinguished between the different genres some wise writers have started posts for specific genres, which should help any readers who venture in looking for book information.

But I have to say this really is the wrong time of year to make a major change like this.

Writers do have lives beyond writing and promoting their books, so having to begin updating one of their promotional outlets in the week before Christmas is not good.

If you know of fellow writers who use Amazon forums to promote their books then spread the word, as I'm sure there will still be a few writers unaware.

Monday 12 December 2011

Christmas Approaches...

Less than two weeks to go to Christmas Eve- twelve days in fact.

So the blog will be winding down a little as I'm trying to catch up on all the normal Christmas stuff still to do, that has been delayed by being ill.

I've got the cards ready to write, stamps for the cards, and I've started wrapping presents...

So today I'm sharing with you one of my favourite websites for Christmas, the NORAD tracks Santa site.

Early December each year I put the website onto my favourites list and check the Countdown Village each day to play the easy games they have-okay I'm not very good at anything where I have to throw basketballs into a moving hoop, as I discovered today...

For the very young out there, this is how they track Santa, and the data is "then pushed into Google Maps and Google Earth" so Santa's journey can be followed.

And even better you can view the site in half a dozen other languages beside English.

If you have friends on the other side of the world it is great fun on Christmas Eve to watch Santa reach their part of the world, heralding the approach of their Christmas Day.

Do you have any favourite Christmas traditions you'd admit to?

Saturday 10 December 2011

Interested in Female Lifestyles in the 1930's?

If you enjoyed the recent centenary edition of Woman's Weekly then I think you will like the publication I discovered today.

Popping into WH Smiths to look at some knitting magazines, I passed by the display shelves where Vogue magazine lurks and was immediately attracted to a cover picture on a lower level of a glamorous and beautifully made-up young woman in a black hat, and wearing pearls. She clearly came from early last century.

It was difficult to tell if it was a magazine or just a soft paperback cover book from its appearance, but then I picked it up and realised it was the latter.

It was this book, although this is a link for the hardback copy it has the same cover image; the version in the newsagent's is much less expensive- £5.99. 'What Every Woman Wants: Lifestyle Lessons from the 1930's' by Christopher and Kirsty Hudson, Atlantic Publishing.

The contents are facsimile pictures and pages from The Daily Mail of the 1930's. The contents include cookery, household hints and lifestyle; while fashion and beauty feature throughout in the pictures, as well as individual chapters of their own. And not forgetting the advice given by the paper's Women's Bureau to their many correspondents.

Actually looking at some of the make-up advice being given, you realise that bronzing really isn't a modern cosmetic creation...

As with the the Woman's Weekly centenary issue, there was occasional dubious health advice given then too; but of course we know so much more about diet, and enlarged tonsils- I always wondered why I liked beetroot so much, and now I know why.

Even if you don't buy it for yourself, it's one of those items you'll love browsing through for nostalgia...

Thursday 8 December 2011

A Little Award I Picked Up at Awards Night...

As I mentioned in my previous post, Wednesday evening was the annual Nottingham Writers' Club Awards Night and Christmas Buffet.

Now the instructions were to wear something festive and I duly complied with a headband with antlers and bells on- fortunately I didn't have a red nose to go with them...

A Literary Reindeer..., Getting in the Christmas spirit at the 2011 NWC Awards Night

A Literary Reindeer

So the presentations began.

The winners of the trophies last December received a certificate to show their earlier success. Then it was the presentation of book token cards for the members who had been placed 1st, 2nd or 3rd in the quarterly prose competitions and/or the monthly poetry competitions.

Then our club President (author and jobbing writer) Roy Bainton presented the trophies.

Now I only entered the Romance competition to help out.
The synopsis and first three chapters I'd intended to enter wasn't ready by the closing date- I was still only on chapter 2. And as a few of the members who would enter if they had a suitable work, didn't enter this year, so the minimum number of entries for the competition to run, was one short.

As the wonderful Ange had got Sue Moorcroft to judge this year's competition no one wanted to miss the opportunity of getting helpful comments on their work, so I put my Dorset novel in to help out.
(I'd only had an afternoon to give it a quick tidy up and trim.)

So I was amazed last night when the winner of the Romance competition was announced. It was me!

Now I don't yet know how much of my entry was good, and how much bad, as the prose competition secretary was poorly, so it will be January 4th before I find out the comments when I get my manuscript back.

So all I can say is I must have done something right...:-)

And here's the trophy I was presented with...
Carol presented with the Romance Trophy December 2011, Presentation of the Mary Street Memorial Shield for a Romance Novelist at Nottingham Writers' Club, December 2011
Winner of the Mary Street Memorial Shield 2011
Carol Bevitt

(photos courtesy of Dennis Apple)

Wednesday 7 December 2011

A Good Evening and News to Come....

Wednesday evening was Awards Night at Nottingham Writers' Club. We were short of quite a few regulars as a few were away on holiday and others were ill. In fact a few were suffering tonight with the coughing and croaky voice problem...

But all who turned up enjoyed the evening.

I'm just waiting for a few photos to be e-mailed to me tomorrow, so you'll see my fun headgear and also hear some good news.

But more of that tomorrow...:-)

Monday 5 December 2011

National Literacy Trust...

The National Literacy Trust has just released a report that reveals that the number of children who do not own a book of their own has risen.

We all know how important reading is. It plays an important part in language development in young children and in turn this has a knock-on effect with handwriting, and goes on into school and eventually exams.

A child who isn't assisted and encouraged to read will always be working at a disadvantage, compared to their reading peers.

I wasn't able to read properly until I was 7 years old.
I had a slight speech problem and was growing up in a time when there was not as wide a range of books available to young children (unlike now), and reading was a bedtime activity when stories about Noddy, Cinderella and Peter Pan were read to me.

When I was small, the school reading method were the Janet and John books, and I can still remember the wonder I felt when words finally made sense to me and I understood how much a simple sentence could mean- and I could read it.

It also meant I could go and borrow the books in the children's section at my local library, which so many of my classmates had been doing for some time...

I connected to the bigger world by being able to read, and that was the moment when I decided I wanted to be a writer.

Sadly even now there are still adults with literacy difficulties. Hopefully one day that aspect of life will eventually become a thing of the past...

If you are interested in donating to the NLT's Gift of Reading this Christmas, then have a look here.

The writers of the future will need readers; and this scheme will help the readers of the future to be able to enjoy those books.

Perhaps there will even be potential writers among them...

Friday 2 December 2011

Competitions for the New Year...

Now that I'm finally getting over the nasty chest infection, courtesy of an inhaler and another course of antibiotics, my head is finally clear enough to start considering a few possible competitions for next year.

Probably the biggest opportunity getting talked about is the Good Housekeeping magazine novel competition with a £25,000 advance, publication on completion of the novel and introduction to literary agent Luigi Bonomi. (Thanks to Stirling on the Talkback forum for details.)

Obviously the standard required of entries will be tough, especially when you see the judges: Kate Mosse, Bonomi, Orion fiction publishing director Kate Mills and Good Housekeeping editorial director Lindsay Nicholson.

You need to get a copy of the January issue of Good Housekeeping magazine, in newsagents from the 1st December, for the entry coupon. It has Lulu on the front cover.

Read the rules because it mentions it's open to writers who have never had a novel published before. As I haven't seen the magazine yet I don't know if they define this anywhere, so clarification may be needed.

Nor are you eligible to enter if you are already signed to an agent.

You'll need a full synopsis and 5,000 words as well as your entry form. And you'll need to include a 100 word mini bio of yourself.

You have time to work on your entry as the closing date is 31st March 2012. But do give yourself enough time for submission as your entry does have to go by post.

I don't know if the entry form will be available in future issues- I'd assume you will need to get the January issue or miss out.

But before you get too excited, no novels for children...

The good news is, entry is free.

I'm going to get to work on my Dorset novel as soon as I get my synopsis and first three chapters back with the comments from the club competition next week.

Good luck if you enter...

*   *   *

Another competition you might be interested in is the annual Words with JAM Short Story Competition (2011) with a closing date of 27th January 2012. Your story can be up to 2,500 words- excluding the title. The entry fee is £6, or £10 for two. Entry details here.

The rules can be found here.

You can send by snail mail, but online submission is preferred, which is a plus for most writers as you can give yourself a closer deadline for submission- if needed.

1st Prize - £500
2nd Prize - £100
3rd Prize - £50