Two photos today. Both secured from a free photo site and on the first page of my search for images of 'creative writing'. I thought they were both rather lovely, but ever so slightly not anything to do with creative writing.
Unless you want to be metaphorical...
In which case, the small image is, in my mind, the flash competition entries. Have you written yours yet? Only 250 words and a whole month before the closing date. Go HERE
The beautiful and burgeoning cloud below is how my mind is currently feeling about The Exeter Story Prize competition. It's for a story of up to ten thousand words. I have yet to put the details up on the site - soon, promise! The closing date won't be until next April so there's a while to go. By then, the winner of the 2014 Exeter Novel Prize will already have been announced. Could it be you? Go HERE
If you want to give yourself the best chance with any competition, whether it's one of ours or not, then do your homework. So many times during judging do we come across great ideas and talent but the story can't win because of poor execution or a major error resulting of just not knowing! Read the previous winners. Go to a writing class or group. Read a creative writing text book (oh, how can I not give The Creative Writing Student's Handbook a plug here?), or at the very least, get someone else to read your story, if possible someone who writes too or knows more than your nearest and dearest.
If you're reasonably local you might like Friday Writers. Go HERE for more info about the course.
Happy writing and don't forget - you can't win if you don't enter!
Up late this morning and late writing my blog about the Romantic Novelists' Association Conference last weekend. Trying to shape so many thoughts is a challenge. There was so much to see and hear, lot of old friends to meet and lectures to attend. My hand ached as a result of all that note-taking. I haven't written longhand intensively since...oh, since last conference!
Harper Adams University is an agricultural centre and across the car park from our reception, cows queued for the milking parlour. Sheep wandered up the road and associated aromas and flies followed. I didn't see any pigs but was a little piggy myself when it came to the fab food and generously donated wine (by Amazon KDP - they certainly know how to charm). It was gloriously hot again but unlike last year the air-con did work.
As for conference content - wow! The main problem is not being able to do everything. At any one time, there are three sessions to choose from. Aaargh! It's so difficult. One aim I had this year was to find out how the mainstream and self-publishing industries were faring in these changing times. I also wanted to learn more about historical fiction, as I so enjoyed writing the Renaissance thread in my last book. Then there was the one-to-one appointments - I'll jump ahead to those and tell you that I received huge encouragement and praise for my writing as well as some excellent advice about how to tweak it for commercial success. Wheee!
Also good is that I've come home with plenty of new ideas about how to dip into the historical sea without drowning. Carol McGrath gave us wonderful insight into the life of Medieval women and although not my period, her approach gave me so many ideas. I look forward to revisiting the Renaissance which featured in my timeslip novel, Madrigal. At the gala dinner, I was fortunate enough to sit next to Richard Lee - founder and Chairman of The Historical Novel Society and we chatted about all things historical.
Regarding the future of the Industry and Romantic fiction. It's booming! And so is self- publishing. I went to a wonderful session led by Dr Alison Baverstock during which she confirmed that self-publishing has become not merely acceptable but often the most sensible way to go. She has done considerable research into the who, what and why of self-publishing and her results were not merely encouraging, they blew away any notion that self- publishing was only for no-hopers. Apart from those statistics, there is a growing body of evidence that suggests mainstream publishing houses are looking to self-published books as the new slush pile to sift. If that's the case, then it's vital to prepare a professional standard of manuscript before loading.
I will go into more detail in another blog but it certainly confirmed what I suspected. When Margaret and I published The Creative Writing Student's Handbook we didn't know what to expect but our experience has been so positive, we are now beavering away at the companion Workbook.
Back to writing it now. Hooray!
Thank you to everyone who voted on the front page poll. The final results are as follows:
What is a QR reader? - 52.83%
No, I don't have a QR reader - 32.08%
Yes, I do have a QR reader - 15.09%
Total 53 votes.
You've probably seen something like this before. In fact these little darlings are all over the place. They're called QR codes or Quick Response codes and I first became aware of their usefulness when I was looking for a new house. A For Sale sign had one printed on it so I pointed my QR reader (a free app on my phone) at the code and a few seconds later, I had the price of the house and all the estate agent's details in the palm of my hand.
Forgive me, but - how cool is that??
If you do have a reader and hover it over the QR code above, it will take you straight to the CreativeWritingMatters Home page, but please, do come back here. So...the question is, what has this got to do with creative writing? Answer: nothing at all.
My interest in it is almost entirely mercenary.
As you are probably aware, publishing is enjoying a revolution. Although I love print books, I find myself increasingly buying my everyday reading on Kindle.
CreativeWritingMatters has now published two titles on Kindle and is set to do more, (The Creative Writing Student's Workbook is in the pipeline) but there are downsides with ebooks. You can't sign one or give one as a present. You haven't got a 'thing' to sell at a launch or literary event and with nearly three million books on Kindle, maintaining sales is a challenge that will face every author.
Before I put up the poll, I thought a QR code on a postcard or bookmark might be a good idea (actually I still think it is), as reading it could take you to information about the book or its Amazon page in exactly the same way as the estate agent's code led me to their site.
The poll results, however, reveal how few would be able to do that, so I won't build up my hopes! Whether or not, we all become QR code savvy in a few years remains to be seen.
In the meantime, let's get back to writing! It's the flashy time of year. Thunder storms and very short stories. Do enter the flash competition - it doesn't close until the end of August, so plenty of time. Go HERE