Sunday 27 July 2014

Historic Houses Short Story Competition...

I've been busy getting on with my entry for the Mary Street Romance novel competition at the writers club, so I've been missing blog posts.

It's progressing well, but I don't know if it will be one for putting to one side and giving it time to develop, or just writing it and getting it out of my brain, then putting it away until I have time to redraft it...

I do want to get back to the first draft revision of my Nottinghamshire novella.

In the meantime I've come across a short story competition that opened for entries earlier this year in March, and closes to online submissions at 4 pm on the 26th September 2014.

The Historic Houses Association (HHA) has partnered with the publisher Corazon Books for this short story competition.

You can only submit one story between 1,500 and 2,500 words; the story must be set in or inspired by a historic house. You can enter whether you're published or unpublished. And entry is free.

Corazon state, "We are looking for a compelling tale with lots of atmosphere. It can take place in the past or present, in either a real or fictional setting, so writers can let their imagination take them, and us, whenever and wherever they wish!"

The only drawback for the winner will be the cost of taking up the main part of the prize, unless you live close, or have friends you can stay with: the winning writer and their guest will receive a private tour and afternoon tea with the owners of Levens Hall in Cumbria, a cash prize of £150, and a double Friends membership for the HHA. 

There are two runner-up prizes of the double Friends membership of the HHA.

Corazon Books intend to publish an e-book anthology of the best entries, and the writers included will receive royalties for their published story. The author retains the copyright of their contribution.

There's a lot to read, and do make sure you follow the instructions on submitting your manuscript.

Royal Naval College Greenwich
(not part of the HHA)

So here's the links:

General information here.
Submission here.
Terms and conditions here.

You can find out more about the Historic Houses Association here.

Image courtesy of Robert Radford/

Sunday 20 July 2014

Seven Things...

I've been nominated for a Versatile Blogger award by two lovely talented
I try to be versatile...
 ladies, Teresa Ashby, and Patsy Collins.

I have to tell you 7 things about myself...

I'm a closet sci-fi fan. My current addictions are Farscape and Stargate: SG1. 
Every weekday evening I turn on the digital channel Pick, and from 7-9 pm I'll be watching...

In the scones debate and the butter/cream and jam order, I do have butter on mine, then jam, followed by a big dollop of clotted cream. That
was how I was taught as a child during summer holidays...

I collect postcards.
Not the black and white type, but of places I've visited, museums and old stately homes, and castles.
I especially like those showing fashion- dresses, shoes, hats etc. I have a few that I bought at exhibitions in my twenties when I lived within easy travelling distance of London. And of course I added a few more during my weekend in Bath.

A few of the postcards
 in my collection
Some people are coffee drinkers, and others prefer tea. I haven't drunk tea since I was a teenager.
When I was about 15, I went on a school trip to Switzerland, and we stayed in a hotel beside Lake Lucerne- well there was a steep path down to the lakeside. And that was when I started drinking coffee. When I came home a week later, the taste of tea was horrid, and although I've tried tea in the years since, it still tastes horrible...

My favourite flowers are roses and pinks.
I'm fortunate to have some scented red roses in my garden, and I love the scent on a warm evening. Sadly I've lost a couple of the rose plants that were in the garden when we moved into our house, so I'm happy to see my pruning is encouraging new stems, and lots of buds on the surviving ones....

I don't like scary/horror films.
It could just be I let my imagination run off into horrible possibilities, but I have never been the same since I saw 'The Fog'. My (now) husband and I were visiting my brother, and while there we watched the film without any problem. It was only when we finally got home- after a drive through dark country lanes- that I couldn't cope with the bedroom light being turned off!
I now never watch a scary film just before I go to bed...

I have a lot of long scarves.
Now this is a new habit I've developed over the past year. Although my muscles have finally healed after the accident I was involved in three years ago, I've discovered my neck and shoulder muscles give me issues if they get cold, or I lift anything too heavy- just covering the back of my neck makes all the difference. So I'm building up a selection of colours, patterns and weights for different times of the year.

So that's seven things. Now I need to nominate 15 people, and as with any of these awards no doubt quite a few will have been nominated before.

Here's 10 for now...





Saturday 12 July 2014

A Reading Flashmob in Nottingham...

You've probably heard of flash-mobs before- perhaps even taken part in one; well today I was a participant in a reading session flash-mob in Nottingham city centre.

 This was organised by Dawn of the Unread - they're on Facebook and Twitter as well- to show support for libraries.

The meeting point was the statue of 'Cloughie' -Brian Clough (best known for being the manager of Nottingham Forest football club) and the paved area in front of him; this area leads down onto the Market Square- currently hosting Nottingham by the sea- they put in a beach area, a bar, and various fairground rides for the school summer holidays.

Gathering around the Brian Clough statue
ready for reading.. 
NottsTV were there filming the event.  I'm pleased it was a bright sunny day, so lots of people attended.

It was hard to tell how many attended as everyone was spread out - but the early arrivals got the base around the statue to sit on...

The city centre is always busy and noisy, especially on a Saturday, but for 10 minutes there was a quiet haven where we all sat down and read.

I'm sure a few passers-by wondered what was going on - they stood around the edges, but no one minded the readers taking up space.

I sat down and propped my back against the tree to read my chosen book, and I was grateful for the little shade it provided- it was getting very warm by midday.

My reading choice for the event was Julia Quinn's 'How to Marry a Marquis'.

I'd bought this just before I returned home from Bath in May, but not finished it, so in my bag it went.

My flash-mob reading choice
If you're on Facebook look out for the photos that were posted by various

Have you ever been part of a flash-mob? If so do tell... :)

Tuesday 8 July 2014

Author Earnings Make the News...

As the headline results of the latest author income survey (done for the ALCS) has shown what we all suspected- writers are not earning as much money as they were during the first decade of the new century.

You'll find details and a few initial income breakdowns on the articles in the Guardian, and on the online version of The Bookseller.

The full details of the research will not be available until the autumn, and I'm sure there will be quite a few interesting facts revealed when various elements are looked at in more detail.

As you'll see from the pictorial charts in the Guardian article, only 11.5 % earn their income from full-time writing; this is a big drop from the 40% who did so in 2005.

Now we need to bear in mind that statistics can be read in a number of ways. Some of those who contributed to the stats in 2005 may no longer be alive, nor actively writing for any number of reasons, but I'm sure we've all heard of writers who have been getting smaller advances, or none at all, which can make a big dent in your finances, and could mean the difference between writing full-time, or having to go to part-time.

There was a good piece of news within the statistics. 69% said their contracts allowed them to retain their copyright all or most of the time. But that could mean 31% don't have that option.

So putting all writers together:  full-time, part-time and occasional, the typical income was £4,000. The median income for professional writers was £11,000. According to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation a single person needs to earn £16,850 before tax to achieve a "minimum acceptable standard of living", so it shows how poorly paid most writers are- little wonder the number writing full time has dropped...

The figures also show that a quarter of the 2,454 writers who filled in the survey, self published, and 86% of that quarter, would do it again.

Some critics claim that self-publishing has contributed to the downturn in incomes, but personally I don't believe that is a valid reason. It has enabled a lot of good writers to get their work out to readers and give them what they want, not just what the publishers decide readers can choose from.

Big name publishers want instant best-sellers (profits), so they pay big advances to celebrities who already have a following who will buy the book at whatever price- that's the readers choice.

Meanwhile the ordinary writer has to do all that work, publicise their book- get out and sell it to the reading public who may never have heard of them before, and write the next book too.

Too many magazines and newspapers want a writers' hard work for nothing, some will pay, but take all your rights for it. Others understand that without their writers they wouldn't have a product to sell and pay a reasonable amount.

Writers write because they have to; yes, they can give up, but it won't be for long.

Sadly unless there's a change in attitude toward fair remuneration of writers- and the important role they play in commerce and society- the world is going to become a much poorer place...

Billions contributed to the UK by
creatives, including writers

  • Did you know that "the creative industries are now worth £71.4 billion per year" to the economy in the UK? 
Every writer is a part of those billions... 

Image from PinkBlue at

Wednesday 2 July 2014

A Fun Competition...

Words with JAM are running a fun Genre Spoof Competition in association with Bookmuse, and best of all, it's FREE.

Your entry needs to be a condensed spoof of your favourite genre, up to 1,000 words- plenty of space for creativity there...

Their favourite entries will be published in a Bookmuse Reader's Journal later this year; and all published entrants will get a copy of the journal. The overall winner gets a £30 Amazon voucher.

Entries close on the 30th September, and the winners will be announced 31st October, this year.

There's online entry, but your entry must not have been previously published, either online or print, nor accepted for publication elsewhere (though these are unlikely to be relevant in this case). You can enter stories that have been on a critique forum, or if currently submitted to another competition.

You keep copyright, but must be 16+ to enter.

If you're not sure what writing a spoof in your favourite genre entails, they Words with JAM have helpfully included a couple of examples...

For full details of the competition, and the address for submitting your entry, follow this link.

Have fun. :D