Wednesday 30 April 2014

Competition Alert - Wells Festival of Literature Competitions...

You may remember that last year I entered the Wells Festival of Literature short story competition. Sadly I didn't get into the shortlist, but that's life!

You can read the winning entries from 2013 via these links: short story, poem, crime novel.

The details for this year's competitions are now available: short story, poetry and a crime novel. Online entry is available, and the instructions for this method of entry are here.

The short story judge for this year is Kate Fforde.
Your story can be on any subject, but must be between 1,000 and 2,000 words in length.

Poetry is being judged by Andrew Motion.
Any subject, but must not exceed 40 lines in length.

The crime novel is being judged by Janet Laurence.
Submit the opening chapter of an original crime novel (no longer than 3,000 words), and the plot synopsis. For this competition "entrants should not have had a full-length work of fiction published before."

Competition rules for each category can be found here.

Prize money is as last year.

The closing date for all 3 categories is 31st July 2014.

You can keep up to date with the Festival via their website, or like them on Facebook at Wellslitfest.

I won't be entering this year as I have longer works planned for this year, but if you do submit an entry, then good luck.

Sunday 27 April 2014

A couple of useful books...

image from

Easy Money For Writers And Wannabes
image from Kindle store
I've recently bought a couple of books to help me expand on my writing skills- and hopefully earn a little bit of money!

Both of them are easy to read, straightforward and very good value for money.

Easy Money for Writers and Wannabes by Maggie Cobbett. (£1.53)

If you've ever looked at fillers in magazines and thought you had something that would be ideal, then read this book.

I know I certainly read a few magazines that have slots for readers contributions- a letters page, household tips, funny stories, and photos.

With examples of her successful fillers, Maggie shows the reader how varied the opportunities can be; and if you don't know how to start then this is the book for you.

By the time I'd finished reading it, my brain was ticking over with possible ideas...

The second book I've bought and found very helpful is:

Photography for Writers: Using photos to sell more of your words by Simon Whaley.
(Paperback £7.99; Kindle version £4.32)

As you know I've recently replaced my camera.

Quite a few writers bought this book when it was released and recommended it, so I opted for the paperback version for easy reference in the future.

You can find out what sort of markets you can use your photos in- not just fillers, but articles, research and non-fiction books.

Simon's clear explanations on shutter speeds and aperture finally made sense to me, so I now understand how to use it when needed.

It's a book that you can refer to for quick reminders, or when you need helpful advice once you've got your images.

Chapter 5, on managing your photographic library, will be helpful to anyone who takes a lot of images. That is now something I will be doing with my existing photos- before I add any more.

Both these books have now been added to my essential writing reference shelf.

I'm studying the markets, and honestly my OH can't complain about the number of magazines lurking around the house when they're work related. :D

Do you have any recommendations from your reference shelf?

Wednesday 23 April 2014

Expanding Talents...

I've been looking to replace my digital camera for some time, but have been frustrated by how small many of them are.
April Evening Sky

Now my hands are not slim- they are quite wide, so I have quite a bit of trouble holding a compact camera securely and pressing the button without getting my fingers across the image somewhere.

So I went to my nearest camera shop- a small chain, and explained what I needed, what I wanted to use it for, and what I'm able to do so far. I came away with a bridge camera.

A Bridge camera is a mid-point between a Compact and a DSLR. If you haven't ventured beyond a compact then have a look at this link to find out a little more.

Hawthorn in Bud
I've been trying out the different settings, attempting to familiarise myself with everything. I've not tried the manual adjustments yet...

Now my trip to Bath is booked, I want to be able to take some reasonable photos to capture all I see there.

I have images in my memory from other short visits, but I've never been able to see the city at different times of day- how light falls can give completely different impressions to places.

It will be used for a story one day...

Here's a few images from my first attempt, with no
 image adjustment.


I even took a shadow selfie - deliberately (in case you thought it was a mistake) because I liked the evening light falling on the brickwork. It wasn't intended for anything, just an experiment, hence the window ledge, washing line and the pipe in view...

There is a world of potential images and memories ready to be captured with a camera; whether it's on your phone, tablet, or other device.

Not sure how many images I'll end up taking in Bath, but the memory card will be more than enough for what I'll need... :D

Saturday 19 April 2014

Happy Easter...

I've been trying to ease up on everyday stuff recently, just to take some of the pressure of myself and my brain. It's helped as the creative bits of my mind are now functioning again- slowly.

The spring bugs have hit me and I'm on antibiotics and steroids again!

So I'm taking this week easy, catching up on reading and anything else that's pleasant.

I'm also going to consider how I blog in future. I think I'll be scheduling my posts so I can make the most of my time, and so they appear regularly. The once a week system hasn't been a success.

Meanwhile, don't eat too many Easter eggs...

Illustration courtesy of gubgib from 

Saturday 5 April 2014

Too Many Things to Do...

My brain is getting overloaded.

The end of March beginning of April is always busy- not enough hours to do everything- and it's badly hit my writing this year.

Ideas for longer stories keep bubbling away in the background, but then they reach a point where there are enough aspects clear, so they come into my consciousness and interfere with whatever I'm working on - this time it's occurred with two different story ideas, each set in a different time period too...

I'd already gathered some of the random notes together on one of the stories, but now the creative part of my brain is throwing plot bunnies here and there- usually at a time I don't need them and can't deal with them...

I'd started reading the novella first draft and making notes, but can't do that properly while I'm dealing with the other characters and scenarios in my head wanting attention. I need to concentrate on my hero and heroine in this story, not get contamination from these other characters.

I haven't finished the final editing, on the two short stories I intended submitting, either!

Then there's my trip to Bath, I still haven't sorted that out.

Equally there are a lot of other bits and pieces that need sorting to stop chaos taking over life at home...

As it's now the two week Easter break for schools/colleges here, I'm going to take some time out and organise my trip to Bath, then tackle the short stories and get them out the way. Hopefully that will help a little.

Creativity can be as much a curse as a joy sometimes...

So how do you cope when your mind is buzzing with ideas?