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!
The CreativeWritingMatters Catalogue
Today we are celebrating at HQ. After a lot of work, consultation and yet more work, we have published our textbook, The Creative Writing Student's Handbook on Kindle.
Cat Walks has been out in the world for a few weeks and we were thrilled that it reached No 5 in the best seller list - in the Cats category. It's worth remembering that there are 2,711,905 titles on Kindle as of two minutes ago, so to be in the top hundred of anything is fantastic.
Now we have all fingers and toes crossed for The Creative Writing Student's Handbook. Obviously, we would like to sell well, but what we really want is for all students of creative writing to find it helpful. For a teacher, the greatest validation of his or her work, is when a student gets in touch to tell you of their competition or publishing success.
You do not need to own a Kindle in order to download our books. If you have a desktop, laptop, iPad or smart phone of almost any sort, you can download the Kindle app free from Amazon. It's very straightforward and will open the door of a huge virtual library that weighs the same as your device.
The Creative Writing Student's Handbook is £1.95. To purchase please click on the cover or go HERE
Cat Walks is priced at £1.02. Please click on the cover or go HERE to purchase.
Here's the CWMatters team before the ceremony on Saturday. We are in St Stephen's church that's right in the middle of Exeter High Street. A fabulous venue, newly restored and the perfect place for our inaugural prize-giving.
Ben Bradshaw is quite tall! It isn't that the three of us are spectacularly short but I did feel it as we were having this photo taken.
Do we look too pleased with ourselves? Probably, but there was also considerable anxiety. Would anyone come? Could those on the short list find it? Would I say the wrong thing, drop the trophy, fall up the two steps onto the staging?
All of that, but I needn't have worried. Even though I forgot all about the trophy in my excitement when Broo announced that Su's novel, Sealskin had won, it was a very happy occasion.
Exeter Writers have been absolutely brilliant. Not only did they sponsor the award by forking out the first prize money, they also worked very hard on Saturday behind the scenes. It was fantastic that we were able to launch the latest Exeter Writers anthology after the ceremony.
The Coastal Zoo contains all the winning stories from the past five years of the short story competition as well as contributions from members of the group. It's available via the Exeter Writers website. Go HERE
Bang the drum and blow some trumpets! Toot-tootle-toot!
May I introduce...
Three short stories about cats from the team here at HQ. Here's the blurb on Kindle :
Three cool cats - three cool tales. Is Henry anything but a nuisance? Will Pudding find a friend? And why hasn't that Siamese got a name?
Find out in these light-hearted stories by three award-winning authors. Purr-fect!
Did you know that there are more than two and a half million books on Kindle now? Isn't that amazing? It's also terrifying. How on earth can our little book swim to the top of such a busy sea? There's only one way, folks, and that's up to you.
The award ceremony for the Exeter Novel Prize is approaching fast. If you are in Exeter on Saturday 22nd March, it would be lovely to see you. We will be at St Stephen's Church, next to House of Fraser from 2pm. Exeter Writers are launching their latest anthology at the event too. Take a look HERE for information.
In the last week I haven't won two competitions. This isn't surprising since one I didn't enter and the other had a great many entries. What have I learnt from this experience? Anything?
I discovered this week that a writer I admire, Tracy Fells, had a competition success rate in 2013 of merely 33%. I was amazed at that because her name appeared in so many lists. But what I hadn't known was that she had entered eighty-seven competitions. Gasp!
Note to self - write faster!
I am a firm believer in competitions. They are a godsend for the aspiring writer. Not only do others notice (illustrious others as well as friends and family) but a placing in any list provides massive self-validation. The lonesome writer needs lots.
That's the main reason that CreativeWritingMatters is launching another competition. We're calling it WoW! because it's for a short story of one thousand words (best to say it out loud), although we'll allow fifty either way. The closing date will be 31st May and I'll be posting a page with more information under the competition tab on February 1st.
Tracy won second place in the H.E.Bates competition. Congratulations! And to Anne Corlett for winning. You can read both their stories HERE. I'm thinking of getting a dog (see pic).
Closer to home, I'm going to sing the praises of an Exeter Writer, Dan Knibb who has been short listed for the Harry Bowling Novel and Flash prize. When he's famous I shall tell anecdotes about his first term in my class.
Edit: I've since discovered that a 20% success rate is considered good! Keep sending 'em out, folks.