I’m always over-optimistic about the amount of writing I’ll get done over the Christmas holidays. It seems glorious at the outset – a luxurious festive week stretching out before you. Granted, there’ll be visits to family and friends, and you know there’ll be a bit of over-indulgence, some time devoted to lounging in front of the telly, but surely there’ll be loads of time left over for writing, right?
So often, the answer is no, but this year, I’ve been making a concerted effort to use the time effectively getting my latest project finished – my first non-fiction eBook, Short Story Competitions: A Writer’s Guide to Success.
And of course, you guys have helped me by voting on your favourite cover design. Each of the three sample covers got plenty of votes (so a big thank you to Shar at Landofawes for creating all three). In the end though, one was ahead by a sizeable margin. I decided to make a few tweaks to this design, but you’ll recognise it as being not too dissimilar to the original. So this is the final cover design:
The book has been released in time for New Year – so if perhaps you’ve been frustrated with your recent writing progress, or you’re just starting out and want 2018 to be the year you see success as a short story competition entrant, you might find the book a good place to start.
The book is available at Amazon here – and I’ll be posting about the book, and about New Year’s Resolutions, here on the blog, and also on my Facebook page over the remainder of the festive season. I hope you can join me for a celebratory glass of virtual bubbly over the next few days, to find out more about the book and get inspired for 2018! 😉
The winners have just been announced for the latest “1000 Word Challenge” competition. If you’re not familiar with the site, it runs a different contest every three months, with a new word, theme or starting phrase. You have to come up with a 1000 word story which reflects this theme, but which is original enough to catch the eye of the judges. The entry fee is £5, and the winners are published on the site.
The theme for the last contest was “Kiss”, and was won by Anna Haldane with her story “The Tiller’s Daughter” – a fantastic version of a fairy story. Anna’s unusual vocabulary immediately makes her prose stand out, but it’s not a gimmick – the story is artful and very clever. A worthy winner indeed. There are two published runners-up this time, and several others get mentioned in despatches, including mine. I’m telling you this last bit not because I’m blowing my own trumpet (well, maybe a tad – but you know, if you don’t, no-one else will!) but because my story is described as “surprising”, and I think that’s important for a competition entry.
I’m currently about three quarters of the way through reading all the entries in the short story category of this year’s Hysteria Writing Competition. There are lots of good, well-written submissions, but probably four or five have really stood out for me so far. These are stories which have a particularly entertaining scenario, an unusually compelling narrative voice, or an ending which has left me momentarily stunned and thinking, “Gosh, that’s clever.” And this is what we, as story writers, should be aiming for – something which lingers in the mind of the reader long after they’ve finished reading. This is the unique power of the short story.
Results are out today for the annual Erewash Open Short Story competition, this year judged by Patsy Collins. It’s a particularly encouraging competition, as Erewash Writers have two classes of entry – for new writers and those who are more experienced (they give details of their definition of “new” in the blurb for the competition, but if you’re thinking of entering and are in any doubt, you can get in touch to check first). They also publish their longlist and shortlist, so you can chew your nails down to the quick before the results are announced! This year they had over 100 entries, of which 30 made the longlist. Twenty of these made the shortlist and went to judge, Patsy.
Congrats go to winner Tony Oswick, with his story Mackintosh Man’s Near Miss. Tony wins £100, which is a decent prize considering the very reasonable entry fees. I entered two stories, and was delighted to discover that one was placed fourth, and the other was highly commended. The winning stories will be published on the website in the near future.
For full details of the winners, and the judge’s comments, visit: http://erewashwriterscompetition.weebly.com/winners-2016-open-short-story-competition-with-patsy-collins.html
To find out more about Patsy Collins, visit her website here: https://patsycollins.uk/
And to check for forthcoming competitions in 2017, go to: http://erewashwriterscompetition.weebly.com/
As you may have gathered, this year I’ve been concentrating on writing competitions rather than subbing to the magazine market (though I’ve done a little of the latter too). After a dismal start with little to show for my efforts, I had begun to doubt the wisdom of this strategy – but as we all know, writing teaches you nothing if not patience, and the second half of the year has proved to be much more rewarding.
The results of the Pens of Erdington 2015 creative writing competition will be officially announced at an event at Erdington Library on Saturday 12th December, but I happen to know one of the winners – yes, me!
To say that I’m chuffed would be an understatement (I did do a little dance around the kitchen when I found out!). Jan Watts, former Poet Laureate of Birmingham and the Judge of the shortlisted entries, has said some very encouraging things about my story, and I’m looking forward to meeting her on Saturday.
Competitions such as this one are great for giving focus to your writing, and they allow you to explore some writing styles which wouldn’t generally fit the magazine market. (And I won’t deny, a win is a huge confidence boost.) I highly recommend trying your hand at a few. Writers’ Forum magazine has a competitions listing page, and there are several online lists such as www.writersreign.co.uk/short-story-competitions
If you’d like to find out more about Pens of Erdington, including their future competitions, visit them at www.pensoferdington.wordpress.com
The winners have been announced for the Erewash Writers’ Open Short Story competition 2015 – whilst I didn’t make the final cut, I was thrilled that my story Lemonade made it onto the short list.
If you’re not already familiar with the Erewash Writers’ Group site, I highly recommend you pop a long to take a look. The group runs several competitions each year, and is keen to support new writers. There are cash prizes, and winning stories are published on the site.
For all the full results of the 2015 competition, judged by Simon Whaley, visit: http://erewashwriterscompetition.weebly.com/blog–results