Thursday 16 January 2014


If you read any of my blog posts in December, you may know that I was a contender for the Nottingham Writers' Club,Writer of the Year trophy.

Usually it's presented at Awards Night in early December, along with all the other annual competition trophies, before we have the Christmas party.

Unfortunately the external judge wasn't able to get the results to the club until a week or so after the event - unforeseen delays on both sides. But as the first meeting in January was New Year's Day- a public holiday in the UK- it wasn't until yesterday evening (15th) that the trophy was finally handed over.

So here's the trophy being presented to me by Vice President,
Writer of the Year 2013-Carol Bevitt
Viv Apple.

Hopefully the next time I get presented with a trophy the photo will be able to catch me when I'm not missing a front tooth and can smile! :-)

My winning entry, The Ladies of the G.O.D Club received praise from the judge, a knowledgeable local bookseller.

I'm sure she won't mind me revealing some of what she wrote for the club.

"In a short story, time is precious, and it can be easy to lose readers' interest by adding unnecessary detail, but by selecting just the essential elements, Carol makes the most of her small word count. Her scenes are set wonderfully, ('rattan chairs', 'large metallic coffee pot', 'plump cushioning in cerise' – all add an instant sense of comfort and leisure), and characters' speech is designed to hint at exactly the right traits without being over-prescriptive: it is here particularly that Carol has balanced the 'show/tell' storytelling techniques most proficiently, setting her writing apart from the competition."

There's a bit about the symbolism used too, but I must admit that wasn't an element I was consciously aware of, it just came out of creating Jenny's (my viewpoint character) story...

My other entry was a 500 word flash fiction with an historical romance leaning. Admittedly, hard to do with a limited word count. It is a bigger story, which is probably why the judge said of it, " I feel Carol's imagination could be honed to produce romantic fiction pieces on a much larger scale: this short story has all the wit and personality to take her writing further."

So that was a great way to end 2013; and with the presentation of the trophy, to start 2014.

Sadly I only get to hold onto the trophy (and get my name added to the little plate on the side of the base) until late November, but I will receive a certificate this December to mark my 2013 win...

I have plans for my winning story so won't reveal it, but it will have a home somewhere and when it does I'll let you know where so you can read it.

Likewise the 500 word flash will be made into the longer story it is determined to be.

2014 is going to be a year of hard work...

Saturday 11 January 2014

TV and Film Adaptations of Novels- How Far Should They Stray?

Normality has just about returned to my writing schedule and I'm now on the last chapter of Draft 1.

I know a few writers who use well known actors and actresses as templates for what their fictional characters look like.

Sometimes an actor in a TV role will have the 'look' I envisage one of my characters as having.

And I'm sure we've all had moments when we've thought, who would we choose to play our characters if a film or TV adaptation was made of our book...?

But we all know the reality.

If the option has been bought, yes it means money for the author, but no guarantee it will ever reach the screen. And for the majority of those few that do, the writer has to accept that their characters and storyline may not fit exactly what is wanted, so will be changed.

We're realistic enough to understand that a lot of the story in a novel will have to go to slot it into a 90 minute film, or a short series. Perhaps characters have to be amalgamated into one to continue to fulfil their roles; or a character who didn't appear in the book is put in to take on those (combined) original parts.

Over the Christmas holidays Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh could be seen in Gone With The Wind. The film is over 3 hours long and doesn't stray too far from the book, even though the script went through various versions to get it to length.

The 2014 TV season is bringing versions of Daphne Du Maurier's 'Jamaica Inn', 'Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell ' by Susana Clarke, and 'The Musketeers', from Alexander Dumas's 'The Three Musketeers'.

How far they stray from the original text to accommodate the needs of a television production, will be interesting to see.

Meanwhile there was an item in the Bookseller about the ending being changed for the film version of Gillian Flynn's 'Gone Girl'.

This film adaptations has been written by the author, who has apparently admitted writing a new final scene, a scene that was not in the book.

There is a spoiler in the original article from Variety magazine. So don't click on the link, if you want to wait to find out about the new ending. The film comes out in October this year.

So, do you think it is better to read the book first, then see the TV/film adaptation? Or the reverse, watching the adaptations then discovering how different the original story actually is?

Friday 3 January 2014

A Workshop in 2014 You Might Like...


If you've made any resolutions about attending workshops, and you want to write romance, and you can get to Leeds in May, then the following may be a possibility.

Writing Romantic Fiction with Kate Walker 16-18 May at Weetwood Hall, Leeds.

Kate is a very successful Mills and Boon (Modern) author - there are just too many titles to list, but her next book, 'A Question of Honour', is due out this June...

You may remember my blog post about attending Kate's one day workshop at Nottingham Writers' Club a while ago. If you missed it, then catch up here.

Kate kindly sent me the details of her May workshop so I could pass them on, so here they are.

Writing Romantic Fiction with Kate Walker

Dates:  16 - 18 May 2014

Place: Weetwood Hall LEEDS

Cost: £240 (Weekend residential- see the workshop page link below for more information and contact details.)

Romantic Fiction is big business.  This course is intended to provide information and advice for anyone who wants to learn how to write romantic fiction.  It gives an introduction to all the skills needed for success, from initial research to the final submission of the typescript. The courses are informal and fun.

•             Creating realistic characters
•             Sustaining pace and conflict
•             Packing emotional punch
•             Writing sex scenes
•             Crafting a satisfactory ending.

If you're just starting out writing romance, or you’ve written a manuscript or two but are not yet published and are interested in honing your skills, this course is for you.

For further information Contact Lois Bird-Maddox ‘Relax & Write’ Course Organiser
Further details:

There is a day visitor option, so contact the organiser for details...

I know that many of the writers, who attended Kate's workshop at my local writers' club, found it beneficial, giving them the confidence to start writing a romance, or for those already working on their stories to start submitting them.

Even if you can't go to a workshop like this weekend one, there are lots of one day workshops or courses being run by writers' groups and writing organisations in the UK.

Do look around for what's available, and book early- please don't leave it to the last week or few days - many organisers frequently have to pay room hire charges ahead of the date, and if there aren't enough bookings it can result in cancellation of the workshop.

(I speak from experience of organising workshops last year...)

If you do attend any workshops or courses, enjoy them, and put what you learn into practise; find what works for you and build upon it.

Happy New Year!!! :)

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/