Showing posts with label flash fiction. Show all posts
Showing posts with label flash fiction. Show all posts

Saturday 23 August 2014

A Small Success...

All is going okay at the moment on the 'getting son ready to go off to university'.

I've managed to grab a couple of hours writing today, and chapter four (draft 1) is almost finished.

Friday (yesterday) was a good day, as I received an email with some good news.

You may remember that last August I had a 200+ word story on the Cafe Lit website, called 'A Tight Squeeze'.

Well my story will be appearing in the Best of Cafe Lit 2013. I will be joining fellow blogging writers, Patsy Collins, and Helen Laycock, who also made the cut.

The full list is here so see if you recognise any of the other names.

Considering there was a year's worth of stories to choose from, I was pleasantly surprised that I made it into the best of list - 29 writers.

Small steps, I know, but it's a good way to begin the autumn... :)

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...

Tuesday 27 August 2013

A News Flash...

Just had an e-mail to tell me my submission to Cafelit is up on the website and blog, so you can read it here.

It's called 'A Tight Squeeze', as you'll see why when you read the story.

It actually started out as a 200 word story for the One Word Challenge competition, on the Talkback forum of the writersonline website. The judge that month gave me some useful comments, so I did a rewrite of the first half of the story- a great improvement.

It's been a long month waiting, but it's wonderful to see even a short piece of my writing out in the world for people to read.

On target
I hope you enjoy reading it...

image courtesy of

Saturday 27 July 2013

Getting Brave- A Submission...

Not sure what has changed, but I'm finally feeling brave enough to start sending my short stories and flash fiction out into the world.

So far I've sent an entry into the Wells Literary Festival short story competition- closes on the 31st July so you still have time to enter online if you're interested.

Today I sent a piece of flash fiction off to e-zine CafeLit. Submission details here.

I have looked at it before but never felt I was good enough- lots of writers feel like that at some time I'm sure.

But I decided this little piece of flash fiction might fit. I suppose it's a slightly quirky story.

At the Fringe event at Lowdham last month, when I read it to an audience, I referred to it as the 'underwear story', especially for the males in the audience who may have never come across shapewear before, or even known that's what it's called!

It's surprising what unusual items can create a story... :D

Now I have to get on with life while I await a yea or nay on my submission.

While I hope it gets a yes, I'm realistic enough to accept that it may be a rejection. That is the less pleasant aspect of the writers' life.

But at least the waiting for an answer time, is very much shorter than for some magazines...

I decided that this year I'd take up opportunities that arise, even if they weren't in my plan for the year.

I'll let you know the good or bad news when it happens...

Tuesday 2 July 2013

Lowdham- Photos and a Story...

Okay here's a few photos from Saturday at the Lowdham Book Festival- I've yet to master the finer arts of Photoshop Elements 9, so apologies for the light on my glasses.

In the Village Hall
The village hall is the central hub of the festival with a couple of other venues to host other talks, and marquees out on the grass behind the hall. There's always activities for children provided so no one misses out.

I would have liked to have gone to a few of the events in the afternoon, but there was a steady flow of people from 10.30 am onward, so I only left the club stall for the Fringe and a quick look at the second hand book stalls in the marquee.

(I was quite restrained; I only bought one second-hand book.)

Nor did I get to sample any of the cake on sale from the kitchen hatch- it's usually very yummy cake...

When I wasn't answering queries and promoting Nottingham Writers' Club, I was able to talk to my neighbours, Leicester Writers Club and a lady who was selling her fantastic photographs of wildlife and nature.

There were lots of writers with books to sell; including a couple of authors published by Pen & Sword books. Their wall posters stood out well, but of course the Duke of Wellington is very distinguished even in one dimension.

I bought a book (signed by the author) for my OH- who is wonderfully supportive on days like this, driving me to the village hall, keeping everything running at home, then returning to collect me at the end...

So to the performance... 
Talking to the audience while
posing for the photo

There wasn't as many people in the room as last year, but it was a sunny day this time.

In one bar there was music, and in the other the literature.

I was one of three NWC members performing.

Jennifer Appleyard began with the start of her novel, ' Touch the Earth' (Hayloft Publishing Ltd) and from there Viv Apple took over with a selection of her poetry to lighten the mood.

As we had time limitations I'd chosen short pieces. There was a 200 word story on illusion (see below) and the audience were surprised at the last line revelation as I'd hoped.

The 1400 word story that went next is currently being judged in a club competition, so I won't say anymore, but the audience liked it- hope the judge does too!

I finished off with a very short piece that I referred to as 'the underwear story' (for the benefit of any men in the audience who didn't know what shapewear is). It's actually a misadventure tale, but luckily the unfortunate woman survives the experience... :-)

So here is the first story I read. I hope you enjoy it...


Work beckoned.
    Rachel stepped out the shower, patted her skin with soft Egyptian cotton, then slathered herself in ‘Opium’; its fruity, spicy aroma began her transformation and she revelled in it.
    Slipping on the black lacy thong and matching suspender belt she began to slide the sheer black stockings up each leg in turn, and with a light-fingered fix, was done.
    Contact lenses in, she admired the view in her mirror and wished she could wake up one morning to find her pale blue eyes turned this olivaceous shade.
    With deft artistic strokes of brushes and sponges she changed face; a touch of colour to highlight the cheekbones she usually hid, and a black flick of gel liner to suggest the exotic.
    The Teal, Suzy Wong style dress with the seam slit to her right thigh displayed her stocking top and she gained extra height with gold strappy shoes via four inch heels.
    Then with a wielding of heated tongs to create a mass of curls, and a final spritz of hairspray, the illusion was complete.
    Rachel was gone; in her place stood Orchid, wild, alluring and luscious.
    Ready to ensnare the cheating husband she was employed to expose.

 © 2013 Carol Bevitt

 (Photos courtesy of Dennis Apple.)

Thursday 2 May 2013

A Long Wait but Worth It...

Last November I wrote a 500 word flash fiction for the Autumn prose competition at Nottingham Writers' Club.

We'd been fortunate to have the wonderful Sally Quilford setting and judging this flash fiction competition. Sally had done a mini workshop in the summer on the subject, so the competition was an opportunity to show what we'd learnt with our entries.

When the competition opened I had three months before the final submission date, and I had a few ideas rolling around my brain to fit the theme of 'A Christmas Visit'.

My first idea was a parent visiting their baby in a neonatal unit on Christmas morning. That thought was inspired by my own memories of going to see my premature triplets in hospital on Christmas Day- they were only a few weeks old at that point.

But I couldn't write it, the words wouldn't form, the emotions too deep to catch and share with my characters.

The weeks went on and the deadline approached.

Then a vague idea that had been lingering began to demand attention. What if you had to go and deliver the sad news of a death at Christmas? And bad weather hampered the task too (heavy snow).
And because I inevitably write romances, how would the messenger feel if they are giving that bad news to someone they have been in love with for years?

Generally we think of good things happening at Christmas, but we know that isn't reality, and that must have happened in the 19th century too. But the story could still have a positive ending.

I settled down and wrote about 550 words, cutting and changing to get it to the 500 word limit.

Then I realised that it was just an advance snippet of a longer story- this usually happens with my short stories, I just can't keep them small, they all want to be full scale productions... :-)

Then disaster struck, in the New Year we discovered the entries had never reached the judge, so we had to re-run the competition- and a big thank you to Sally for having fitted the new judging dates into her busy writing schedule.

So last night at the May speaker meeting, the results were finally announced, and my entry 'A Second Chance' won.

It will be turned into a longer story.

The judge's comments:

(I chose the pseudonym, Fiona Faddy for my entry)

"I chose the first prize winner, A Second Chance by Fiona Faddy because I’m a sucker for unrequited love! Fiona packed so much emotion in to so few words. The opening lines immediately set the scene and let us know we were in the past. The ending was just sweet!"

If I hadn't been intending to use the piece in future, I would have posted it here. But I hope you'll get the opportunity to read it when the longer story is completed- and hopefully published somewhere...

image courtesy of Stuart Miles

Tuesday 16 April 2013

Back To Writing...

It's always hard get back into routine after a break, and that certainly goes for writing too.

I was at a difficult point in my manuscript just before the Easter holidays and having had a break for a few weeks, I've had the necessary time to sort out what was bothering me- my heroine had been getting very introspective in the last chapter and I wasn't sure if I was letting her get away from the plot.

But with time away, I've realised I'm just at that point where she is changing from who she was at the start of the story, to whom she will become by the end.

And the next part of the story is going to be hard work as both my protagonists are in that changing process. Sarah is the one with the problems now, while Hugh's initial source of conflict has been resolved. But of course, he isn't go to have the rest of the story to relax in- he will still have issues to resolve... :-)

Now I'm feeling comfortable with my writing process, I'm going to try adding in some other writing.

Last year, I did say I was going to enter more of the competitions run by the writers' club I go to- and as Chairman, I really should be leading by example...

So, I have deadlines for handing entries in by the first few days of July- these are annual competitions.

One is a new non-fiction competition for members; we need to write a piece on what kind of future for the printed book- I already have a few ideas for that one.

I also want to try the story suitable for radio. There was a useful short column in Writing Magazine recently which will be very helpful. And I'll be checking out the BBC's Writers Room pages.

I do have a deadline for a short story competition in early June, so I better get my ideas jotted down...

And in a couple of months I'll be performing a piece of flash fiction (already written) at the second 'Fringe at The Ship' event, on the last Saturday of the Lowdham Book Festival. (The festival runs throughout June.)

So the next few months will be busy.

Wednesday 27 March 2013

A Temporary Halt in Progress...

I've been making steady progress on my novella but have now come to a temporary halt.


Because my floppy disk reader has gone astray - I know one of the family borrowed it, but can't remember who, and I know they'll all deny they ever had it, or if they did they gave it back.

If they'd given it back then I would have known where it was!!!

When I first got the idea for the novella I had a scene in my head, which I wrote down, and saved for later. At the time I was still using floppy disks as my computer tower didn't have a Cd/DVD drive.

Now I intended to transfer everything over, but just didn't get round to it, and yes, you've guessed it, the scene that I saved onto the floppy (at least it's on one of them) is now needed to refer to...

This week I've been dealing with a lot of introspection with my heroine, Sarah. She's at a turning point both emotionally and mentally, which makes writing tiring. Plus I'm having to jiggle the content on a couple of chapters around because of how the story has actually developed around the scenes in my mind.

No doubt some of Sarah's soul searching will eventually be edited out, but this missing scene belongs here at the point I have now reached in my manuscript. I know I'll rewrite the scene anyway, but the details are being elusive.

The version on the floppy is from about 8 years ago, and my brain seems to work like this: once it's typed onto the screen, and saved, the details go into brain deep storage- perhaps my memory just deletes them entirely because it knows the information has been recorded somewhere, so it's no longer in stand-by.

Weird idea, I know. But that's how it seems to me... :-)

With Easter week almost here and the family being around, my opportunities for concentrated writing will be brief, so I think I better make sure I get these floppy disks sorted, so as soon as my normal routine can be restarted, I'll be able to get on with the story.

So my total so far this month, 4, 553 words, but I have to admit that 200 of those were for a flash fiction piece for the March, One Word Challenge on the writers-online Talkback forum. And the character in that story has more tales to tell but that's for another day- they're contemporary rather than historical...

The 5,000 words a month remains unfulfilled, but it continue to be an on-going target. Smiley

smiley from:

Saturday 8 December 2012

Weekend Catch-Up and Belly Dancing...

Yes, I know this post is very late...

(Update: The photos of me belly dancing are at the bottom of this post.)

Wednesday was Awards Night at Nottingham Writers Club, and for the first half hour I was standing up front and announcing the presentations- one of the responsibilities of being the current Chairman- no sitting back with a glass of wine, or other alcoholic/non-alcoholic refreshment and relaxing...

There weren't as many trophies as in past year's- a couple of the

Awards Night Trophies, Two of the trophies awarded for Nottingham Writers' Club annual competitions
A few of the NWC annual trophies
competitions sadly didn't run, as not enough entries were received.

Some years that happens, and it's a disappointment, but hopefully next year those trophies will be presented.

I'm sure that most writers would have no problem when the subject is open, but it can be much harder when you have to fit it to a specific age (as with children's books) or a set theme.

Blogger and NWC member Keith Havers was the worthy winner of three trophies, including Writer of the Year. You can read his blog here.

Wednesday afternoon I was actually writing a 500 word flash fiction on the theme of 'a Christmas visit' that needed to be handed in to the competition Secretary that evening.

By the end of my story I had my usual issue of realising that I'd just written a scene from a much bigger story. So I don't expect it to do well.

Last December I promised I would do a party piece this year- some belly dancing. I kept my promise, and I will release the photographic evidence as soon as a copy of the photo arrives in my inbox from the club photographer. I only danced for a few minutes... :D

Otherwise the audience were royally entertained by a number of recitations, from the club president and two club members- both serious and fun pieces. And our newest member, Kate, read out the poem she'd been inspired to write during the merriment. Which proves inspiration truly does come from everywhere...

Enjoying the dance

I was going for the Christmas glitter look

and the flowing sleeves to waft about when my arms were

Below left: striking a pose...

Friday 30 November 2012

Reviewing My Year...

Do you take time to seriously look at how you've done each year? And I don't just mean waiting until January the 1st and making resolutions-they usually don't last long...

Early December is my writing assessment time - if it's not been done earlier in October/November.

Reviewing the Writing Year
I've found looking at what's worked, and what's not gone as I'd hoped, is useful.

So last year (2011) I'd only achieved 2 of my 4 targets, that I'd set myself in late 2010; so I didn't do more than make general plans.

Here's what I decided I wanted for 2012:

 So I'm going to be getting on with my novella for the remainder of the year.

This coming Saturday I'll be at Sally Quillford's Pocket Novel workshop, which I'm looking forward to and I'm sure I'll learn a lot.

Hopefully next year will be more productive.

Did I keep to any of them?

I attended the Pocket Novel workshop and enjoyed it very much. I was reassured that I'd understood the requirements, and it did make me look at a few aspects in a different way, which I've taken into my other writing.

I also came home with another couple brewing in my head.

Yes, I've been working on the novella. Not as much has been done as I'd hoped, but I'm finally getting on with it.

Has it been productive?


I completed the revisions of the short story that I intended to send to Woman's Weekly. I sent it, and a few days off the four months received the standard rejection letter. But I actually got it sent off this year.
In the New Year it will be getting another look over and being sent off elsewhere...

A previously abandoned One Word Challenge Anthology book began a new life as an e-book project, and finally became available for purchase mid-November. I have contributions in it, and Serena does too.
So that was something I hadn't anticipated happening this year...

(You'll be able to read about the anthology by the Talkback Writers in the January 2013 issue of Writing Magazine-possibly with photos of some of the contributing writers included.)

I've got the basics of a few other projects which are in line for future development and writing up- some full length, others probably novella length.

I read some of my flash fiction to an audience at the Fringe at the Ship event in Lowdham in June.

Last week I did a slot on local BBC Radio promoting the 'One Word Anthology' with a fellow contributor (Catherine Dalling).

The past six months have shown me what I'm happiest doing, and what the best system of writing is for me personally.

I have my office area- that was just something on my wish list last year.

And Serena Lake has finally made her debut, quietly...

That is a lot more than I'd decided on last year.

Now I need to consider what I want to aim for in 2013, but I've been so busy that I haven't even thought about it yet. But I will.

image courtesy of Danilo Rizutti /

Monday 12 November 2012

Launch Party Today- Join the Fun...

Today is the day, the One Word Anthology e-book by the Talkback Writers is launched, and you can now buy it from for 99p.

It's available in the following formats e-Pub for e-readers other than Kindle.
- mobi for Kindle.
- pdf for reading on your computer screen.

Buy it now!

10% of the revenue from the anthology goes to support the work of Medical Detection Dogs - you can find out more about the valuable work this charity does in training animals to support and save

30 writers have contributed stories and poems that were written for the monthly One Word Challenge on the Talkback forum - which is part of the
website, run by Writers News and Writing Magazine.

Each month the writers are set a word prompt. They have
200 words (excluding the title) to create a story, and/or poetry up to 40 lines.

Lola, the Diabetic Alert Dog
The winner of the previous month's competition- one for poetry and one for prose- read the entries and choose a winner, both winners then set the word for the new month and will judge the entries at the start of the following month.

The anthology is a selection of the variety of stories and poems inspired by the chosen words.

A big thank you to all the writers involved, I'm proud to be among you.

It really has been a joint effort getting the anthology organised and put together, to now being available for sale.

Special thanks must go to writers: Jay Mandal, who suggested the competition many years ago and started it all.
Brenda Gunning, who collated the pieces and edited them ready for the publisher, Rosemary J Kind - who has the patience of a hundred people (if not more) and the technical expertise.
And finally Marion Clarke who took our assorted suggestions and created
the absolutely brilliant cover.

Early in December there will be an interview with Rosemary and Brenda in Writing Magazine (January issue) where you can find out more about how the book developed.

I'd like to give a big thank you to the WM/WN editor Jonathan Telfer who has supported the One Word Challenge on the forum from the beginning, and rightfully has a few words at the start of the book -we couldn't leave him out...

Okay, that's the official part out the way. Here's my self-promotion bit :-)

You'll find my four stories appearing under both Carol Bevitt and Serena Lake (my other name).

Carol's stories are 'Junk Mail' and 'The Child in Everyone'; while Serena's stories are 'Surprises' and 'After Heat'.

The e-book is also available on Smashwords $1.60 (it's changed to UK currency ) and Amazon; but please buy direct from our publisher if you can, as it means the charity will get more...

Now it's time to party!!!

Find us on Twitter, Facebook and wherever we can spread the launch news, so please join in.


(image from )
Virtual bubbly will be swirling...

Monday 5 November 2012

An Exciting Week Begins...

The countdown to the launch of the One Word Challenge Anthology e-book begins today.

This is a very exciting week for me, as I have four pieces of micro fiction included in this e-book- two are by my alternative writing persona, Serena Lake.

And the very best bit of all, beside the price (99p direct) is that 10% of the cover price of each e-book will go to Medical Detection Dogs, a charity that trains dogs to assist people with life-threatening conditions.

Fantastic cover image by Marion Clarke
But I'm getting ahead of myself...

The book will be available to buy in a few days, direct from Alfie Dog Fiction.

It will also be available from Amazon and Smashwords but there's no definite date yet for those. (But I'll add links and prices when they become available.)

(Buying direct from the publisher will ensure the charity gets more.)

I'm one of 30 writers who have contributed to the anthology, so expect to see other bloggers posting, tweeting and taking about it on Facebook as the week progresses.

As the official launch is Monday 12th November, you're all invited to the virtual launch party I'm holding here.

Lola the Diabetic Alert Dog
A couple of days before, 9th/10th, I'll be bringing you an interview with one of the other writers' involved, Catherine Dalling.

If you want to find out more about the Medical Detection Dogs charity that the anthology is donating to, please look here.

(Lola belongs to one of the writers in the anthology; and the Talkback Writers have followed her progress through initial training to passing her final qualifications.)

More news in a few days...

A little bit about the book

Monday 22 October 2012

Delays and Competition Reminders...

I had hoped to have completed the redesign of my blog by this week, but technology and the new Blogger interface have decided otherwise. It isn't as simple anymore...

So I think the changes will be occurring slowly.

Now for the competition reminders- just in case you missed them the first time round.

These are free to enter:

You only have until tomorrow ( 23rd) to get your 50 word ghost story competition entry submitted to The Times. Details here.

The competition closes at 5pm, and even though e-mails should be instant, they don't always arrive a moment later, so don't leave it to the last minute to press send.

A little longer for submission is the Mail on Sunday Novel Competition with a deadline of 29th October- but this is a postal entry only.

50-150 words of a novel opening using Train in it somewhere. Details here.

(You'll also find details of the Erewash Writers current competitions on the link above too.)

Entry fee competitions:

And finally the current Words with Jam competitions, closing on the 31st October. These can be entered online. You can find the details here.

Monday 1 October 2012

October is Here and It Starts Getting Busy...

The remainder of the year is going to be busy. So I'm glad I've got the organisation in place before I start.

Not only is there all the normal planning for Christmas (sorry, I know that word is forbidden by many until the beginning of December :-) ) but I have five birthdays in one month, so I have to start present choosing and buying early to get it all done.

On the writing front I have a couple of competition entries to get on with.

The Mail on Sunday Novel Competition- that needs to be sent at least a week before the 29th October closing date (I always allow 7-8 days for anything that has to go by post). I have a scene in my head and a few ideas germinating, but no flowing words...yet.

Then there's the annual Manuscript of the Year competition at Nottingham Writers' Club (NWC) in early November. Members deciding to take part need to write a story in 250 words on the theme 'Coming Out'. The entries (using a pseudonym) are read by a panel of readers, and the audience on the night vote for the entry they judge the best, or they like the most.

An original slant will be needed with that theme...

On the publishing front there's news.

I've been fortunate enough to have a sneak preview of the cover for the One Word Challenge Anthology ( I have two pieces in ) and it's a wonderful design.

It will be an e-book first, and fingers crossed it will be available before Christmas. There's hopes of a print copy in 2013, but nothings confirmed yet.

And finally I'm involved in co-organising the 2013 NWC workshops. We hope to do three, but depending on availability and cost of tutors we might have to limit this to two.

Meanwhile I'll be getting on with writing the novella.

I'm so glad I have my 'office'...

Friday 28 September 2012

Magazine Fillers...

All writers eventually get to a stage when they feel they are good enough to make some money from their writing. Sadly that isn't as easy to do nowadays.

While I continue to get on with the fiction, I thought I'd start looking at fillers-writer friends had earned varying sums over the years, so I decided to see what was out there that I might be able to submit to...

But it looks, like unsolicited fiction, that the opportunities are reducing (as far as the regular weekly magazines are concerned).

I've yet to look at the specialist magazines, so there may be some openings there.

Just like book publishers' imprints, the best known magazines that you'll see on the newsagent shelves will be part of a big group and produce a variety of magazines.

Bauer, for example, produce 'Take A Break', 'TV Choice' and 'Spirit and Destiny' alongside 'Take A Break's Take A Puzzle' magazine.

IPC Media have 76 different magazines from 'Chat' to 'Horse and Hound' and even the 'Woman's Weekly Fiction Special'.

Every year magazines start up, and unless they've got a lot of financial support to back them, they will struggle, and many will close.

So it's not surprising that in tough financial times magazines have cut back.

Previously employed journalists have lost their jobs and moved to freelancing.

The magazines have glossy websites with loyal readers that can contribute to online forums for those who sign up- be it fashion, cookery or life, there will be free content.

Magazines that were once very conventional moved toward the celebrity obsessed end of the market, and also embraced real life stories - 'my husband was an alien bigamist' (I know this example is daft but I don't want to offend people) but you know the sort of stories I mean.

So today I bought a 'bundled' magazine- this is where more than one magazine is sold with another, and cheaper than if you bought both separately.

I got 'Prima' with 'Best' and a 2013 Calendar with seasonal bakes each month, and a booklet of money-saving vouchers ( a number requiring you to spend money to get the 20% discount). Plus free eye gel which you have to send off for by post and pay postage for it to be sent to you...

In Prima Extra, a section at the back of the magazine you can find a few money making fillers. Wise Words can win you £25, but you need to visit the Prima Facebook page for the latest Wise Words question.

If you're good at puzzles there's a whole section including a number which could earn you £100 to £500 if you're the lucky entrant drawn.

And if you have any useful tips and it's published you win £25 too. I'll need something original...
I haven't got anything vaguely antique or collectable that I could send a picture of that might get the highest value item shown and win £50.

Now here's something I might be okay with, a 300 word story that can be e-mailed, but sadly no cash for the winning story writer-you can win a Kobo eReader, and the runner- up will get a year's subscription to the magazine. Neither prize to be sniffed at, and your winning story will get read by lots of people.

Letter pages seem to offer prizes for the star letter now.

Well that's only one magazine, there are a lot more out there, and the next one I pick up may be perfect. So next Friday I will be found perusing the shelves of WH Smith, looking for opportunities...

Monday 10 September 2012

Thinking Time and Solutions...

When I'm writing anything, thinking time is essential.

I don't have a contract requiring a book a year, so if I hit a brick wall in my novel, I can do something else while my subconscious works on the issue.

But when you have a theme, and a short deadline for submission, as in a flash or short story competition, I find my creative brain freezes.

Sometimes it will unlock and I get the writing needed done. Other times it melts a bit but still leaves a big frozen chunk in the middle and little progress is made- like the short story I needed last week.

So I've been considering methods to help me improve how many pieces I submit- to a good standard of writing, of course.

I have a few competition that I want to enter with specific themes- with deadlines from the end of this month onward.
So I've decided to try writing the theme words on a bit of card or coloured paper, and pining them to the small cork board I have resting against the wall- it's just within eyesight on my desk; so I'll see if keeping the words within sight assists the creative process.

I won't have the excuse that I forgot the details, or the date it's needed by, if it's always there.

And it should ensure that the thinking time is taking place, even if I am doing something else.

If you have any methods you find particularly useful, it would be interesting to hear them.

Friday 7 September 2012

A Few Competitions...

The Mail on Sunday Novel Competition results were published last Sunday (thanks to Viv on the Talkback forum for the list) and congratulations to the winner, Catherine Roberts - there was a tie for 4th place between three entrants.

So you might want to know the details of the competition now running - winners announced Autumn 2013.

The word to be included in the new competition is TRAIN.

Closing on 29 October.

Write the opening to a novel to include the word in any form - train of a dress, train of thought, railway,etc. Whatever inspires your plot. 50 - 150 words.

Send to: The Mail on Sunday Novel Competition, 84 Drayton Gardens, London, SW10 9SB.

Typed or clearly written, with name, address, tel and email all on same page. Results next summer. Usual prizes - Arvon course for winner, plus book tokens for all 6 finalists.

And a few more competitions you might like...

Erewash Writers' Group recently announced the winner of their short story competition, and they have now opened two FREE competitions.

Flash Fiction competition

Up to 500 words on the theme 'twins'. This is being judged by Author Rosalie Warren- you may have seen or read her book 'Coping with Chloe'.

Prizes: A signed copy of 'Coping with Chloe' and £10 cash and web publication for the two winners.

Closing date is the 8th November 2012.

The second competition is the Creepy Christmas Chiller.

This is for a seasonal scary short stories up to 2,000 words. There are two categories, adults and 12-16.

"We want to read stories set in the festive season which contain all the necessary ingredients to scare the Santa suits off us.

Many an excellent ghost story has been written for Christmas, yet whether you include a ghost in your story or not is entirely your choice.

Your story could be held on any of the three main days of Christmas, or set in a couple of months running up to the big event, or specifically within the twelve days of Christmas. Your story will include tension, suspense and all the elements needed to make us feel we are sharing the frightening experience of your character (or characters)."

Prizes for six winners, three in each category: First £40, Second £15, Third £5 (plus a charitable donation will be made). Web publication.

Closing date: 8th November 2012.

All details, address for entries and terms and conditions (please read) can be found on the Erewash Writers' Group website, here.

And if that isn't enough for you then buy the latest issue of Writing Magazine- October 2012 issue, out now. Not only will you get a copy of Writers News, but you'll also receive the annual Competition Special supplement, with 203 competitions to enter.

Plenty of opportunities to spread your writing wings. (I will be doing a few of the competitions mentioned.)

If you enter any of the competitions mentioned, then good luck, and happy writing.

Thursday 2 August 2012

The Next Stage-Facebook...

When I joined Twitter earlier in the year I said the next stage would be Facebook.

Well today I joined Facebook and my head is now spinning!

It is really simple to get started- which I thought might not be what I call 'simple', but it really was easier than I expected-as soon as I'd gone through the settings adjusting where needed...

I have my main page-Carol Bevitt, and my Carol Bevitt-writer page.

At the moment finding my way around is a little daunting, but I'm getting used to the mechanics of it.

But I really must get some up to date photos done...

So many people use Facebook for getting information and staying in touch, as well as offers and competitions by companies I use, that I decided I had to spend some time getting organised.

In the autumn two pieces of my flash fiction will be appearing in the One Word Challenge Anthology e-book, so a writer/author page is important, and best set up and established before the anthology is released.

And I still have hopes for my short story sent to Woman's Weekly...

Monday 30 July 2012

More Words With Jam Competitions...

Bigger Short Story Competitions are open for entries-details and entry form here.

Words with Jam have an annual short story competition, but this year it's not just one competition but three.

There's the up to 2500 word one, and another for up to 1000 words, and finally a category for stories up to 250 words- so if you've been honing your flash/micro fiction skills, here's an opportunity.

There's no theme.

The closing date is 31st October this year.

Short Story Judge (up to 2500) Jane Fallon
Shorter Story Judge (up to 1,000) Benjamin Myers
Shortest Story Judge (up to 250) Zoe Fairbairns

1st prize in each category - £300
2nd prize in each category - £100
3rd prize in each category - £50

"5 runners up in each category will be published in the first volume of our Short Story Anthology (of which they will receive a copy), and awarded £10.
All winners and runners up will receive a printed copy of our first Short Story Anthology (inclusion optional*)."

As this is a pay to enter competition you need to make sure you read the rules and follow them.
But entry is online (so there's no queueing up in the Post Office to pay horrendous postage costs) as is the payment system- details on the page link above.

The main niggle I have is that regardless of category the first entry is £6 and further entries are £4. So if you just want to enter the shortest story of 250 words you're paying the same as a 1,000 or 2,500 word entry...

We all have to make individual judgements when considering pay to enter competitions- is the entry fee too much? Is the cash prize good enough? And, the anthology itself- with this one you do get a free copy (not always given in some competitions I've seen and heard of).

So if you do enter, good luck. :-)

Thursday 5 July 2012

Flash Fiction Workshop with Sally Quilford...

It was very hot in Nottingham, Wednesday evening, and I think quite a few members of the writers club were at home watching tennis in the least Andy Murray won this time round!

But the rest of us had a great evening with writer Sally Quilford who travelled to Nottingham to do her flash fiction workshop.

Now I'd been writing most of yesterday, so I thought my brain would be on strike, but the first exercises immediately got my creativity working.

We had to write about ourselves in under 100 words and it all had to be lies.

Ten minutes later we all read out our fabrications- from the strange to outright bizarre (but as I've been entertained by many members writing at manuscript evenings, I could see where some of these outlandish statements had first emerged in their fictional characters).

Though where the sushi and champagne diet idea came from in my case- I have no idea. :-)

There were some interesting discussions about how flash fiction could differ from a standard short story, and it certainly caused a few raised eyebrows, but that's good.

Thinking about how a story can be written in a different way but still be effective is a beneficial exercise, as until you try it you never know if it will be a style that works for you.

The prompts  section was a great success. The audience called out a number of objects/scenarios- we had 10 in the end- and we spent time writing about our chosen prompt/s. Muddy Boots seemed to be popular...

It was great to see the variety, and there were certainly a few stories emerging that I would love to hear completed, and hope the writers finish them.

We then had to edit the pieces by 10%, and actually most managed to reduce the wordage by quite a bit more- which did seem to surprise a few.

It was an evening of fun and learning, and I'm sure we all took some insights away with us-I certainly did. Sally kindly provided handouts, so we can refer back to them when needed.

Brilliant evening- thank you Sally.