Showing posts with label workshops. Show all posts
Showing posts with label workshops. Show all posts

Friday 10 May 2013

No Time to Procratinate...

I've had one of those busy weeks, so my normal routine has been grabbing a break; but it will be back to the novella on Monday...

Saturday I'm leaving my OH and the family at home while I do a one day workshop being run by the writers' club- Writing for Children - is it kids stuff?  With author Ann Evans.

Although writing for children is not my preference I know I will still find many aspects useful.

In my novella, my heroine Sarah is starting to have nightmares and dreams, which are actually memories - except they are memories of when she was ten years old.

So I'm hoping I will learn something to help me recreate the younger Sarah.

I'll tell you about the workshop next week...

Enjoy the weekend.

Monday 29 April 2013

Detailed Instruction Are Hard to Write...

Essential: they have to be written better than flat-pack instructions...

Now I've been having a busy few days in a writing related way- must add to my word count.

Nottingham Writers' Club have a one-day workshop taking place on the 11th May, (plug, plug :-) ) but with all the road closures and tram track construction going on, it's been necessary to update our direction information.

Issue one: You can no longer use the walkway from inside the station to get to the tram platform. You need to leave the station and get to the tram from outside- down the road in this case...

Issue two: The station building is undergoing a massive update, so entrance and exits are different.

So I needed to write out detailed instructions for anyone arriving by train and needing to know how to get to the workshop via the tram.

It was tough.

You have to start with putting yourself in the role of the person needing to access the tram- not something I need to do as I use the bus.
Getting left or right correct.
Instructions to get to the access point for the tram via stairs/ lift depends on whether you come out the front of the building- through a hardboard walk-through tunnel, or via the side exit- nearer to where you have to go...

Once you get off the tram it's a brief walk. But it only takes being vague about where you cross over the road and the hapless writer could end up in the cinema or the shopping centre, so it does become a little bit like dot to dot with a few landmark buildings thrown in to help.

Almost there.
Crossing the road without getting run down by the traffic coming round the corner, it takes you a little out of the way you need to go, so remember to say, go right then immediately left.

I had to mentally imagine what would be seen, and produce the right description to ensure the walker looked in the correct direction; one minute you're following the road and then you suddenly have to ignore it - as it turns away from where you're going.

The last fifty yards was rewritten three times!

And then I began editing- well it was a bit long, and people might give up reading it.

Changing one word for a much better descriptive word, then realising that no, the first one was the best, and yes I could make that sentence shorter...

Finally I was finished. I tell you, writing fiction is much easier and less headache inducing.

Now I just hope the powers-that-be don't make any more changes between now and the 11th May...

Saturday 13 April 2013

The Times/Chicken House Competition...

This is quite a high profile competition which has been running for a few years now.

When The Times went behind a paywall I did think this competition would suffer, but I'm pleased to see it is still running despite the difficulties in finding the info.

The entry cost is high- £15, to cover the administration costs for the large number of entries received- but if you do get into the longlist you will get an editorial report on your entry.

"Your full-length manuscript (no more than 80,000 words, with a suggested minimum of 30,000 words), suitable for children aged between 7 and 18, must be received by the closing date of November 1, 2013."

But you will also need to include: a brief synopsis- no more than one page and it should give an overview of the whole story etc. A submission letter explaining the book's appeal to children, and a plot plan. (see the requirements in the terms and conditions).

There will be a longlist of 20 authors announced in January 2014. Then in March 2014 the shortlist of 5 entries will be announced. The revelation of who has won is just listed as spring 2014, but t&c's state expected result about the 29th March 2014.

"The winner will be the entrant whose story, in the opinion of the judges, demonstrates the greatest entertainment value, quality and originality.
The prize is the offer of a worldwide publishing contract with Chicken House, with a royalty advance of £10,000, subject to a signed contract."

And these terms are really important; but it's good to see self-published books aren't excluded.

"Entrants must be aged 18 or over. One entry per person. Entries must be submitted by the author, not an agent. Entries must be the original work of the entrant and not previously commercially published and distributed, however, self-published works are allowed. The entrant must not have previously commercially published any whole children’s novel in any country. Resubmission of previous entries (excluding previous winners) is accepted. Entries must be written in English, picture books and graphic novels will not be accepted and illustrations will not be considered. " (Details from The Times here.)

But do read all the detailed terms and conditions here on the Chicken House web pages. (And note number 11.)

You can't enter by e-mail, entries have to be received by post, so don't leave it to the last few days before the deadline...

The instructions on the Chicken House terms and condition pages are very precise, even down to how your manuscript should be presented.

There's an alternative prize for the best entry if the judges decide that none of the finalists are of a standard to be offered the stated contract.

This is a serious competition to enter, so double-check you are fulfilling the terms and conditions to the letter before sending your entry... And good luck.

*   *   *
But if you aren't ready for the Chicken House competition yet, or just starting out, then you might want to consider a workshop.
11th May, 10am to 4pm, Writing for Children- is it kids stuff? With Coventry based author, and Raring2Read winner, Ann Evans.
The cost is subsidised, so you will only be paying £20 for the day, including tea and coffee.
If you're interested download the booking form here and follow the instructions on the bottom of the sheet. 

Monday 8 October 2012

Monday Thoughts...

Latest anthology news (see the details on my previous blog post) - it's looking like it will be out for December, when it will be available in pdf, epub and .mobi formats.

As another (local) writer/friend is also included in the anthology, we're going to get together and discuss what we can do to advertise our contributions and hopefully drum up sales in our area.

Looking forward to 2013, I'm going to concentrate on my longer length projects, and try a few more short stories when I need a break or change of perspective.

I've noticed a few mini workshops advertised so I'm going to see if I can book a place on them. I've decided to update a few skills relating to social media first.

Another writer on the Talkback forum posted a link this morning, it's a good reminder about planning ahead. (Thanks SilverLinings.)

While the agency is in the USA, and some aspects will be more relevant there, it has some good points; so if you've not taken the time to think ahead to 2013 this piece may make you reconsider. Read Mary Keeley's post here.

"Set your own pace and be comfortable with it." I think that first piece of advice is the most valuable, at least it is for me.

Life gets in the way sometimes, and pushing yourself to do more than is practical- or healthy- is a sure way of making life harder for yourself. The accident last year, and the asthma diagnosis this year made me re-evaluate everything in my life, but especially my writing.

By slowing down and accepting that I couldn't do all the things I wanted to, meant I made choices in what I concentrated on. And surprisingly I actually got more done, as I submitted a few things rather than none at all, and won the trophy at the writers' club last December (which was a morale booster).

Now I'm looking forward to my contribution in the anthology.

What has been the best advice you've received that helped you progress?

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'...

Monday 24 September 2012

Short Story Competition List and Erotica Opportunities...

Over the weekend I started the search for a new potential home for my short story, and I made some interesting discoveries along the way which I intend to share with you today.

Starting out with Sally Quilford's Writing Calendar I clicked onto the heading Other Writing Comp Listings and from there another link reached the website for the Booktrust ( they have a lot of interesting pages that are worth spending some time with). They have a list of organisations running short story competitions, and include a clickable link to find out more.

So with 3 clicks of my mouse I found a couple of potential competitions that might suit my story. And others to inspire the creation of more stories. :-)

Hope you find something to interest you too...

*   *   *
Erotica is now mainstream. The big name publishers have embraced the genre with relish. (This does relate to short stories too.)

If you've never attempted erotica, or you're developing your style within the genre, an article from yesterday's  Mail on Sunday, You Magazine may be of interest. (Thanks to Viv on the Writers News/Writing Magazine, Talkback Forum, for sharing the information).

(The article also contains the booking information for the workshop, and the competition details mentioned. See link to article below.)

"Gillian Green, Eden Bradley and Rachel Blowes. Gillian is editorial director for commercial fiction at Ebury Publishing, which this month is relaunching its erotic imprint Black Lace, with five sexy titles, including The Dark Garden written by Eden. Rachel is a member of a book group at one of Ebury’s sister companies, which is asked to read and comment on books pre-publication, including erotic novels." (John Koski, You Magazine)

They share their 10 basic rules.

There's details of a workshop being held on the 6th November, from 6 to 8.45pm - at Ebury Publishing in London- there's only 35 places and you need to book tickets asap; They cost £10 per person, but you do get "drinks and canap├ęs and a goody bag to take home."

Phone number and times for booking by phone are given in the article.

Finally, there is also a a short story competition.

The winning entry will be published by Black Lace Books as part of an e-book collection.

The judges are: Gillian Green, Editorial Director, and authors Portia Da Costa and Kristina Lloyd.

Closing date for receipt of entries (of approximately 4,000 words) is 31st October. Include your name, address and full contact details with your entry, whether you send by e-mail, or by post.

(Details of where to send your competition entry is included in the article- see the link above.)

IMPORTANT: Do read the terms and condition at the bottom of the article as there are specific word counts boundaries for the story, and for the synopsis.

 A shortlist of 10 entrants will be contacted by the Publisher by the 1st December, and the winner announced by the 14th January.

Even if you don't win and only get into the shortlist, the T&C's state "shortlisted entrants may also be offered publishing deals with the Publisher."

If you enter, fingers crossed for your story to be successful.

Updated to add some information: The current edition of Writers' Forum magazine (October) has an article 'How To Break Into Erotica', and talks to three writers, Fran Tracey, Elizabeth Coldwell and Eden Bradley who share their insights.

Thursday 13 September 2012

My Blog is 2 Years Old Today...

I started this blog on the 13th September 2010, and it's now 13th September 2012. Time sure passes quickly...

To celebrate I have a little competition to win a book- more later.

Since last September I've been busy.

I've entered a few outside competitions, sent off a story to Woman's Weekly- no rejection yet and it's been out just over three months. I won the Romance novel trophy at the writers' club in December. And in April I became Chairman of Nottingham Writers' Club (NWC).

In May I enjoyed a day long workshop on Writing Romantic Fiction led by Kate Walker, at NWC.

Even social media hasn't been safe from me. I joined Twitter earlier in the year, and in the last month, Facebook. (Contact details are in the sidebar.)

I've recently started using my new office area and can say it certainly has made my writing life easier. I have the phone by the computer so I can limit disruptions; and like this morning, when I was working on my novella, I could slide my chair a short distance over to the bookshelf and pluck the reference book I needed off the shelf to check something.

I don't know what year three will bring, but I'll be sharing the writing related aspects with you.

I appreciate everyone who takes the time to read my blog, and an especial thank you to all of you who leave comments.

Virtual birthday cake for everyone...

                        Image from

Now to celebrate I have a copy of 'The Lost Night' by Jayne Castle (otherwise known as Jayne Ann Krentz/Amanda Quick) to give away. (Sorry, only to those within the UK postal system.) You can read the start of the Kindle version here.

Question: What is the name of the paranormal society that has featured in a number of the author's books?

Leave your answer in the comments and all correct entries will go into a bag and I will pick one out at random on Sunday, and announce the winner on Monday. Good luck.

Saturday 19 May 2012

Kate Walker Workshop...

My post is a little late because I've been at the Kate Walker workshop on Writing Romantic Fiction at Nottingham Writers' Club today.

Thanks to everyone who took part, especially those who travelled a long distance to attend, and of course the brilliant, Kate Walker.

I'm not telling you what I said that caused everyone to laugh or smile- I only realised what I'd said after the words had left my mouth- and it wasn't what I'd meant, but that's romance writers for you, quick witted... :-D

I can assure you it was not just a roomful of women either, we also had four men there to learn about, or improve, their romance writing skills.

We started with a few facts about getting romance published in today's markets- the words, marketing is 'cut-throat' was mentioned. And just as with genre fiction generally, the 'who can market you' is important- after all there's no point in producing a book for publication if you can't sell it.

Writing a romance  requires characters, conflict, emotion and the HEA (happy ever after). And we looked at each element in more detail.

I'd never thought about the readers expectations, but thinking about it, it makes sense. A romance wouldn't be satisfying if the two main protagonists could solve their problems easily and without any suffering.

There was even a writing exercise, and we were soon being very creative- the only sound was pens on paper and pages turning.

So here are a few of the snippets I learnt today:

Setting is not just the background, but it can also be the stage that your character has reached in their life.

'Feisty' is a current buzz word...

PTQ- Page Turning Quality. 60% dialogue and 40% narrative.

"Emotions don't have a logical basis, so can't be reasoned away."

If there's a secret involved, write it from the point of view (POV) of the one who doesn't know it, as that makes the most of the emotional impact...

BM and GM- Black Moment and Grey Moment- those points in a novel when things are looking bad, and possibly unrepairable. (I'd not heard these terms before.)

There's a lot more but you'll have to go on one of Kate's workshops to find out more...

And yes, sex did get mentioned briefly- we didn't have enough time to go into detail :-), but the scene must 'work' for you-have a purpose, as sexual intimacy can change everything (between the characters, their circumstances etc). We should also consider the emotional vulnerability of our characters at these times.

I certainly learnt a lot to add to the mass of writing information I've already absorbed.

Many of us bought books and Kate signed them for us. I got her '12 Point Guide to Writing Romance', now on it's Third Edition.

But I must also thank Mills and Boon for providing a freebie book for everyone attending the workshop- Kate signed those too.

And finally...

There's a new term that I must share with you- you've heard of the slush pile (the hard copy type) well there's even a digital pile- manuscripts loaded onto an e-reader for an editor to read- it's 'slush Kindle'...

Monday 14 May 2012

Busy Week Ahead

As you may have noticed I didn't post anything at the weekend.

I was extra busy as my OH had to take a quick trip up the motorway to see his mum who was ill, so I was holding everything together at home and celebrating most of our 28th Wedding Anniversary by myself.

Though I'm glad to say my mum-in-law is getting better, and my lovely husband did get home Saturday evening with a bunch of Sweetheart roses and a big box of Thorntons Continental chocolates for me. :-)

GCSE exams begin today, so my teenagers are going to be busy for the next month or so...Exam stressed teenagers are probably best not bothered with requests for the return of glasses, plates and assorted cutlery from their rooms (I'm going to be getting plenty of exercise going up and down stairs...).

I'll be organising the final details for Saturday's all day workshop with Mills and Boon author Kate Walker. I'm really looking forward to the workshop, and having met Kate briefly last October at an event, I'm sure everyone attending will enjoy the day and learn from it.

Meanwhile my short story is almost ready for sending out. I've just got to print it out and check for any typos, wrong spelling of similar sounding words, and any missing punctuation, or formatting issues.

I'm happy with the story as it now is, and there's nothing else I can do to it- without ruining it!

So, I'll be back to my normal blogging routine on Wednesday...

Saturday 28 April 2012

News Round-Up - April

Just a few items you might want to follow-up... :-)

Novelicious Undiscovered - The Top 20

The twenty names and the titles of their entries are now posted on the Novelicious website, and starting on the 1st May, one story will feature every day, allowing readers to comment, but not vote-yet. That begins on the 5th of June.

It's reassuring to see that it's not going to be done by popularity vote, in a way that would enable multiple votes from those who have a lot of friends...You can only vote once and there will be a form to fill in.

Sympathies if you entered and didn't get into the shortlist- but with over 200 entries, choosing 20 must have been a tough task.

Grazia and Orange’s ‘First Chapter’ Competition

Seems the terms and conditions that were posted originally have since been expanded on.

They have also added the words "Entries in the incorrect format will not be considered." But there doesn't seem to be anything defining what their correct format is...

This addition is sure to mean inexperienced entrants being excluded. Adding details like this when a competition is underway is not right.

Flash Fiction Competitions

Details of more competitions have been added to the competition page of the National Flash Fiction Day website.
Just scroll down the page to read the latest competitions with closing dates in May or beyond.

And finally


The Writing Romantic Fiction Workshop with Kate Walker at Nottingham Writers' Club on Saturday 19th May 10am to 4pm.

There are a handful of places left, so if you're interested click on the Workshop link above. The price for the day is a great deal less than many one day workshops charge, so take a look.

Saturday 28 January 2012

News of a Writing Romantic Fiction Workshop...

As I've been talking about romance novels in e-books this week, I thought you might like to know that there's a Writing Romantic Fiction workshop being held in Nottingham on Saturday 19th May,
10 am-4pm (including a 1 hour lunch break).

Nottingham Writers' Club is hosting the workshop and the tutor for the day is Mills and Boon Presents author, Kate Walker.

Kate had her first novel accepted in 1984
and celebrated 25 years as a professional author in 2010.
Kate Walker
Here are some details of what the workshop will include...

It gives an introduction to all the skills needed for success, from initial research to the final submission of the typescript. With advice and exercises, Kate will guide you through creating realistic characters, sustaining pace and conflict, packing emotional punch, writing sex scenes and crafting a satisfying ending. If you're just starting out writing romantic fiction or you've written a manuscript or two, this one is for you.
The workshop also covers the main aspects of writing romantic fiction that from her experience of teaching over the years seem to create the most problems for unpublished writers.

(Information courtesy of  Kate Walker and Nottingham Writers' Club)

If you're within travelling distance of Nottingham and are interested then you'll find the details here .

There's a (PDF) booking form with the details of how much it costs, and it's easy to download and print off.

I'm really looking forward to the day...

Monday 17 October 2011

Reviewing My 2011 Progress So Far...

I've been reviewing my writing progress for 2011 and decided I couldn't reveal my conclusions to date without recalling the parameters I'd set myself in mid-December last year- ten months ago...

So my four targets were:

1: Get a short story published- somewhere.

2: Work on at least one of my novella length stories.

3: The novel- open to decision.

4: Enter some writing competitions.

Now I have to say I've only managed two of my four targets, though the other two have received attention to a slight degree.

The first, get a short story published hasn't happened, as the contender needs a little more work and my accident interfered in a big way.

The work on the novella is underway, and the novel has had some thought- although I haven't had time to put the decisions into action.
I tidied up the synopsis where I could, and with the first three chapters entered it into the annual romance trophy competition at the writers club- I put it in to make up the numbers this year, so I already know some of the faults, but it will be interesting to see what comments it receives.

So number 4, enter some writing competitions has been the other area of progress. In January I entered the Words with Jam last few lines of a story competition. And today I finished revising my 150 words for the Mail on Sunday Novel Competition- the start of, so that will be in the post tomorrow.

If you want to enter, there is still time, you have until the 28th October to get your entry in. Details here.

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.

Monday 12 September 2011

My Autumn Review...

As I always review my progress or lack of progress at the end of the year so that I can set targets, I thought this would be a good time to review my blog.

On Friday my blog will be one year old.

I've tried out different things and made lots of new friends in the writing blogsphere, and I've learnt so much about improving my work and the demands of the writing business; the advantages, the pitfalls and how publishing is changing.

I haven't done as much writing as I intended due to the accident and recovering from it. At times the only writing I was able to do was this blog, so I didn't stop completely.

Next month I'm attending Sally Quilford's Pocket Novel workshop and I'm really looking forward to it. I know I'm going to learn a lot which will improve my writing.

If you can't get to the face to face workshop then Sally is compiling a mailing list for a potential online version, here.

So now I'm looking at my blog (as it approaches its first birthday) and I need your help.

I'm going to be redesigning it, though I haven't yet decided which layout I prefer. But I would love to know what you like/dislike about my blog- you can remain anonymous if you prefer. :-)

Have there been particular items or subjects you really enjoy?

As so many blogs do cover specific subjects I like having some flexibility with my blog as long as it is in some way writing related.

So tell me what you think by using the comment form below.

Thank you.

Friday 8 July 2011

Postcards Are For More Than Writing On...

They can inspire stories...

Earlier this week the writers club held a workshop on this month's speaker evening, it was about short stories.

I have to admit that whenever we have to write something without any idea of what is going to be presented I slightly panic. My brain freezes and I have to remind myself I'm not going to be in trouble if I can't do it. So panic over...

We were given a postcard each, mine was a black and white semi-nude male with a large jar held on one arm- very classical. (If it didn't inspire us we could change it for another.) But it immediately triggered a character for my potential story, called Adam.

We had about ten minutes to write details about our character and some of us couldn't avoid starting to tell the story as we wrote. A few of us read out our descriptions. So far so good...

Next we were given another postcard and this was for our second character. I had a young girl sat in a restaurant with a waiter to one side with his back turned, so you couldn't see his face. This girl was Maria- very West Side Story connotations. Again another ten minutes to write about her.

Finally we were given a postcard with a scene, a building or a place like a river. I had a tall rounded building across a street, the painting's aspect gave the impression that you were in a high place somewhere across the road. Above one window was a striped red and white awning.

Adam, I decided, is a would-be artist earning money by posing as a life model. Maria works in an Italian restaurant across the road...

The final part of the exercise was one or both has a secret- what is it?

So it's on my list to do.

You might remember (or not) some time ago I mentioned that I had a box of postcards somewhere. Well I found them and they brought so many memories back as I looked through them.

There were postcards from exhibitions I attended in London when I was about twenty. Reminders of holidays I took in York, Stratford-Upon-Avon and Scarborough. Then there were the costume postcards from various museums, and cards of the beautiful Sutton Hoo exhibits, the real things held me mesmerised whenever I went to see them in the British Museum.

All the postcards triggered mental images of the past.

So I've decided to start gathering interesting postcard images to add to my box, like those used in the workshop, so when I need some different ideas I can look through and see what stories and characters they inspire.

But first I need another box...

Sunday 29 May 2011

Workshop Details...

If you are within reasonable travelling distance of Nottingham you might be interested in an inexpensive workshop being hosted by Nottingham Writers' Club on Saturday 4th June 10am to 4pm.

Writer Michael Eaton will be leading the workshop. He is probably best known for his television work, including 'Shipman' and 'Shoot to Kill', but has written in many more areas. He's also the visiting Professor in the School of Creative Writing at Nottingham Trent University.

' If you've got a great idea for a piece of work but aren't sure what format it should be in, story, novel, radio play or film - this workshop is for you. Bring it along, talk about it for a few minutes and during the workshop you will get together with Michael and work out the best way to use it. By the end of the session, everyone will have gained experience on how to focus even the vaguest of ideas into a firm reality.'

I know there are still places available (limited) so if you want to attend then follow this link.

If you know anyone who might be interested then please pass the details on...

EDITED TO ADD- you don't need pages already written, an idea and some basic details can be enough.

As Monday is Spring Bank Holiday I'm going to be relaxing and catching up on my reading, so if it's a holiday where you are, I hope you enjoy it.