Showing posts with label submissions. Show all posts
Showing posts with label submissions. Show all posts

Monday 31 August 2020

Deadlines are Hard Work...

The last day of August is here. For me that's the deadline for submitting my entry to the RNA's New Writers' Scheme.

Last year I put in my submission in at 4.30 am on the last day. Well I'm pleased to say this year it was only eight minutes into the last day when I clicked save and finalise.

I've submitted a partial this year; five chapters and the synopsis. 

I decided not to edit and submit the first half of chapter six. That turned out to be sensible with the deadline looming.

Giving myself the the whole of August to edit the chapters was important- I didn't do that last year.  It's given me a better idea of how much time I need in future...

2020's manuscript has a contemporary, rather than a historical setting. Not a sub-genre I've tried before.

As to the synopsis... I'm not good with them. Suspect I'd have needed the whole of August to edit it and still wouldn't have been right. The only positive from writing it out, I can see what might be better to cut, and potential plot holes.

There's outstanding research to do before I move on to the next chapters, so I'll get on with that meanwhile.

My family will be glad to get meals without chips. As the end of the month deadline approaches they get fed up of take-away's. Been no time for baking either...

Time in the garden has been helpful too. Colour and textures reminded me to be aware of the senses. 

So much has changed while I've been working on the manuscript. The berries on the Hawthorn have gone from orange to red...

Wonder what progress will be made by next spring when the blossom returns.

Thursday 5 May 2016

The Workshop Exercises - Success...

For many years I've been a member of the Talkback forum over on the writers-online website, and the monthly one word writing challenge is not only fun, but also good for honing structure and effective word choice. You only have 200 words for the story.

It was while I was putting together my previous blog post, about the workshop, that I realised that the senses scene would work well for the April challenge, as the word was jeopardy. 

My new character, Elizabeth, was most certainly in jeopardy. So I rewrote the piece, paying particular attention to her surroundings and added another 100 words to finally come in at 198.

It was posted with a day to spare before the month end. But the wait for the competition to close, and the prose judge's decision and comments were worth it.

Here's what the April judge said- I know they won't mind me sharing their comments on my entry:

The Darkness Beckons
A great build-up of atmosphere and tension in this story. I was imagining a Dickens era setting, but I think it works equally as well in a modern day setting. I am curious to know why Elizabeth could no longer rely on “the niceties of society”, what had brought her to the warehouse, what choices she had previously been denied…. I think you should write on!

What awaits at the
other end?

And even better, I was co-runner up 'for the great sense of atmosphere'. 

(Imagine grimy windows, neglect, abandonment, vermin and a very dark corridor.)

Needless to say, Elizabeth has gone into the development corner of my brain, marked up as #6. She may move up the order, but it really does depend on how long the story will be; it could be short, or longer, which is partly why I'm not revealing that scene... 

At the moment she seems content to have made her presence known and isn't going to pester- unlike a few of my waiting characters. It will be serious when she gets a file box for her story.

Meanwhile I'm getting the hang of the second draft process with Hugh and Sarah's story, so it's all positive at the moment.

image courtesy of Tuomas Lehitinen &

Sunday 6 March 2016

Computer Gremlins...

It's been a busy few months and apart from getting the short story finished and sent off, I've not had time to make any progress on the Nottinghamshire story- though I have been doing needed bits of research (highlighted when I read the first chapter of draft 1 through).

Sometimes I can't imagine ever finishing it, but I know that's not true, it will get done.

Unlike the first draft I haven't found it as easy to do a bit, then stop, then do a bit more. That's the hard part at the moment, finding how to work with the second draft.

There has been other writing/editing going on though.

A factual piece that I wrote last month that required a final edit was rewritten with a different slant, and will appear this month.

There's an entry for the writers' club quarterly prose that needs finishing off. I started it twice and wasn't happy so put it aside. Then last week everything clicked together and I started again. It's working much better this time...

Sadly my desktop PC is showing early signs of future failure, and I'll need to replace it this year. I like Windows 7, but will have to move up to Windows 10 when I do change. :(

So I've been tidying up the programs, taking off those that are no longer needed, and avoiding putting the PC under any potential stress.

Glad to say it seems to be helping.

So if I suddenly stop posting you'll know what's happened... :D

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles &

Thursday 1 October 2015

Hitting the Deadline...

I did it!

My entry into the New Talent Award was emailed to the competition address this afternoon, and the small entry fee paid.

The competition is part of the Love Stories Awards, and administered by the Kate Nash Literary Agency.

For anyone who may have missed the details, the competition was part of this year's Festival of Romance, but when the festival weekend was cancelled, the new talent competition carried on under the Love Stories banner.

This year's competition is looking for writers of the future, so I really couldn't ignore it...

I've learnt a lot from the experience of editing the first chapter for my entry, which will help me in the future when I'm editing my other stories.

A couple of weeks ago when I gave up on my first choice and opted for my Nottinghamshire story, I didn't think there was too much to do. But I was so wrong.

I hadn't realised how much I've learnt since I finished that first draft, nor how the characters had continued to develop while I was away from them.

All that was needed was an opening chapter, nothing else, and as I was almost ready to start the revisions on the Nottinghamshire story anyway, I had nothing to lose by trying.

Well four versions later I was ready to do the final checks this morning (Thursday). The maximum word count was 2,500 words, though I was a couple of hundred under that by the time I finished.

After every set of changes I made, I read the chapter aloud, so five hours later, when it was ready to send, I think I'd gone through it vocally ten times...

It won't be perfect, but it was as good as I could get it for now.

Of course I'd like to make the shortlist, but if I don't, it won't be the end of the world. I still have the rest of the story to revise and edit, and as I've learnt over the past fortnight, change can be good.

I'm looking forward to a restful weekend, then I can get back to creating the happy ending for the couple in my contemporary romance. Once that first draft is complete and put aside, I'll be back to the historical and chapter 2... :-)

Sunday 28 June 2015

My Saturday at Lowdham Book Festival...

The Lowdham Book Festival has been running 16 years. It started small and has built on its success, and the final Saturday is a must visit place for anyone living in Nottinghamshire.

I've been attending for about 10 of those 16 years with the writers club, and now I'm the one who co-ordinates, from booking the stall, confirming which members have promotional material to display alongside the club's, and who is going to be available to help on the day- and making sure they know where to park and other essential information.

On the day I'll be there with one or two others to set up, and the last to leave with all the gathered equipment/leaflets.

This year I was very fortunate to have extra volunteers (I thank them all) - especially a couple of members who hadn't attended the festival before and wanted to come along for a few hours to see what it was like as well as help out.

They resisted the book stalls, unlike the regulars who went home with more than they arrived with!:D

Ready for opening time...
It was wonderful to meet a writer who I've known online for many years, but never met in person;
Ana Salote was launching her book 'Oy Yew' and doing a talk with her publisher (Teika Bellamy of MothersMilk Books) and her illustrator Emma Howitt.

Later in the day I had an opportunity to talk to Teika Bellamy to find out what she was looking for, and there are opportunities available.

Have a look at their submission guidelines which will tell you more...

Early afternoon I was able to get to an interesting talk by author Nigel McCrery on his book 'Silent Witnesses: a history of forensic science.'

The audience were entertained by this retired police officer who had an interest in forensics, though his many writing credits include: Silent Witness, Born and Bred, and New Tricks among them...

Promotion opportunity
I came home with four second-hand books. Basically reference works, though one, a wonderfully illustrated hardback is extremely large, but I'll never have a problem knowing what sort of furniture my historical heroes and heroines will be sitting upon.

My flask of coffee just about lasted out the day, and I limited myself to one piece of lemon sponge late morning so I could eat my packed lunch after the lunch-time rush.

Fortunately the hall was a comfortable temperature with the doors into the hall, and the back door open. It was very bright and hot outside, and even my camera had a problem with how bright it was- I'm going to have to darken the outdoor shots!

Well that's it for another year. I'll be suggesting what worked and what didn't this year, as will my fellow volunteers, so NWC will be ready for next June.

I never stop learning on days like this....

Sunday 5 April 2015

My Day at The Writing Conference - Part 2...

Happy Easter to you all.

It's been a very busy week, which is why this post wasn't done on Thursday when it should have been.

It's hard to believe that a week has gone by since I attended the Conference.

So to part 2, the very interesting sessions after lunch...

I went along to The Nuts and Bolts of Earning a Living as a Writer. This was an intense session. It was chaired by Anne Caldwell who is the Deputy Director of the National Association of Writers in Education (NAWE), and alongside her was Maureen Duffy, Tim Leech and Emteaz Hussain.

They all shared their experiences- both good and bad of making a living as a writer, and very few of the audience were surprised at the statement that it was more difficult nowadays.

A couple phrases that really struck home were Ann Caldwell's "cast-iron railings around writing time", and Tim Leech who said you need to " structure life around writing, not writing around life." That latter phrase definitely struck home for me.

There was a brief section on the value of organisations like ALCS, the Society of Authors and The Writers Guild- the latter had a representative there who spoke for a few minutes on what they do.

Making a living as a writer can't be done half-heartedly, the writer needs to be pro-active...

After that 45 minutes the next session- in the same room - was The Publishing Process: Why is Having an Agent Important?

This was another well-attended session, with a brilliant panel. Most writers will have heard of Carole Blake of the Blake Friedmann Literary Agency (she was wearing purple shoes which looked very comfortable).

 Younger literary agent, Ben Clark from Lucas Alexander Whitely, who was actually looking to take on writers in science-fiction, fantasy, and as he described it, "anything geeky". I'm sure he would probably have received manuscripts this past week!

They were joined by Editor Jane Commane of Nine Arches Press, and the Chair was the very amusing and engaging author, Alison McQueen.

Carol Blake suggested that the writer should choose their agent with the same care they'd use in choosing a partner, which is a good suggestion as hopefully, the writer and agent will be together a long time. As she mentioned one book is no use, you need a career future...

There was advice for what to do: research the agent, look at their profiles, websites, social media, what they're acquiring; the do not's were the standard: sending something they don't deal with, hand written manuscripts, or use social media to ask about sending submissions and so on.

A well set out, good synopsis (not a blurb) was important- including the ending. She explained that her process was reading the chapters first and if they didn't make an impact she didn't read the synopsis. There was no point having a brilliant synopsis if the chapters weren't good. But other agents might do something different.

As the session progressed with the other members of the panel,  it became clear that the writer should not be afraid to ask questions of a potential agent, and if the writer had a choice of agents, then there was nothing wrong in comparing what they were offering, and accepting the best one for them, but obviously mentioning that other agents were being seen...

Approaching younger agents seemed to be a good route. Many will have broken away from an agency after many years, and will actively be looking to take on clients - there are more opportunities available than an agent who has been in the business for many years, and already has a lot of clients.

Someone asked about agents not being AAA listed (Association of Authors' Agents) and it was explained that newer agents couldn't join until they had been carrying out the job for a couple of years, so the fact an agent wasn't a member of the AAA wouldn't necessarily be an issue, but it was a good thing to have because they had a code of practice to abide by as a member.

The session would have gone on longer if it wasn't that the final part of the conference was due. I think everyone went away from the session much enlightened.

There was a fun ending to the day when poet in residence, Joel Stickley read the poem he'd created from the comments attendees had pinned to a board, 'things you shouldn't say', and a few other starting points; while cartoonist 'Brick' produced a caricature of what writers looked like- a woman at the keyboard with a dream bubble above her head showing her as a success.

There were lots of photos taken during the day and you can see a few of the panel speakers on the Writing East Midlands, Twitter account, here.

It was reassuring that I already knew quite a few of the things that were mentioned during the day, but there were items I'd not thought about before, or something that made me think in another way.

Between sessions and during breaks there was the constant bubble of conversation, and amidst that there would be others sat reading, engrossed in a book and oblivious to the noise around them.

In the sessions the conversations continued until the sessions started and the noise level quickly dropped to murmurs and then respectful silence.

No one wanted to miss a single word, and it was worth it...

Sunday 15 June 2014

Historical Heroes Writing Competition 16th June to 6th July...

Mills and Boon have a writing tournament for historical heroes for the next three weeks, and you could win a detailed editorial consultation on your full manuscript...

Each week Mills and Boon will be looking for first chapters that feature particular categories of heroes.

This Monday, 16th until Sunday 22nd June it's Regency/Victorian heroes.

Then from the 23rd to 29th it's for Medieval/Tudor Knights/Lords.

For the third week 30th June until the 6th July, it's Warrior Heroes. (This is where your Vikings and Highlanders fit.)

So when Monday rolls round what do you need to send?

A short pitch: Setting,- where and when; a short blurb. You've got 100 words to pitch your story, so you need to make every word count. And there's a link to their current historical books so you can see the sort of thing you're aiming for. Then the big question to answer, why is your hero the best, and "what makes your hero the most delectable man in history".

Your first chapter: 3000 to 5000 words. Don't forget your contact details.

You can only submit once to each of the categories...

Then the editors for the M&B Historical will pick their favourites from the three sections, and they will feature on the Mills &Boon website for a public vote. 

Finally three different chapters will go online on the 14th July and the public votes again.

Midday (GMT) on the 18th July the winner will be announced. 

The winner (Tournament Champion) receives a detailed editorial consultation of their 'full manuscript'. 

There will be a variety of tips, blogs and other snippets across social media, so look out for during the three weeks with the #HistoricalHeroes.

The full competition details are here

You'll also find the Twitter handles for the editors of the historical books, so you can follow them and hear the latest news on the competition, with the #HistoricalHeroes.

If you haven't read any of the M&B Historical then have a peek here.

It's good to see historical romance getting some attention...

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...