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!
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.
I'm back from the conference and my bag was bulging with goodies: great books, chocs, soap, pens for England and all manner of bookmarks, postcards and badges to let me know about amazing books by members of the Romantic Novelists' Association.
Of course, a bag wasn't all I came back with. The conference brings the author and the publishing industry together. How we are dealing with the fast moving changes brought about by ebooks, Amazon and all the social media platforms was at the heart of this year's programme. I learnt a fantastic amount and feel very encouraged. Yes, the scales are tipping in favour of ebooks, but there is still a huge market for print books as well. The excellent news is that people are reading more than ever and that's what really matters.
For me personally, and for others in my position, trying to break into the industry, it's somewhat dispiriting to hear that a mainstream publisher may only publish two or three debut novels a year. What is encouraging is that they are throwing their weight behind digital imprints, using their expertise to maintain the quality expected of a traditionally published print book.
Apart from the lectures, workshops and delicious social side of a conference, it is also possible to make appointments with the editors and/or agents in order to pitch your book. I will be sending in my book as a result of mine. Who knows what might come of it? Maybe nothing, but the echo of the words 'you're really talented' is still here in my ear. I thought I should write it down, in case I forget.
Margaret, Sophie et moi.
Do we look rather pleased with ourselves? I think so. We were at Thursday evening's launch of The Exeter Novel Prize and very successful it was too. Lots of people came, turning out in nasty weather more like October's than June. Thank you!
It's quite a while since I posted my first competition entry. I sent my story to the Woman and Home competition in 2005. My mother had given me the magazine. 'You do a bit of writing,' she said. The theme of the competition was Presents. I read the magazine and thought about all the presents I'd ever been given. The lamp in this photo is probably the oddest. It also inspired the story and I shall never part with it.
'I saw it and thought of you,' she said.
The story reached the finals and my name and a little postage stamp picture was published in the magazine. I was so happy I cried. Since then, I've had a lot of success. Competitions abound for the short story writer.
But for the novelist, opportunities are few. Most novel competitions have restrictions of one sort or another. A particular genre perhaps, unpublished writers only, age and/or sex of the entrant are some.
Margaret, Sophie and I want The Exeter Novel Prize to be an opportunity for as many novelists as possible, whether it be a first step on the ladder or a step back on the ladder having fallen off in the past. The thrill of being placed, that recognition of worth after those hours spent tapping away is better than any shot in the arm.
The very best of luck to all who enter.
Party girls - Margaret, Sophie and Cathie
The team has been out partying again. Meeting up with old friends and yes, we did have a glass or two and quite a few canapés. The main focus of the evening was to applaud those shortlisted for the Romantic Novel of the Year and Joan Hessayon Award and to congratulate the winners Jenny Colgan and Leisel Schwarz. It was a very happy occasion. More information about the evening can be found HERE. There are more photos HERE.
Of course, the RNA summer party was also a great place for us to spread the word about The Exeter Novel Prize and everyone we spoke to was very enthusiastic. Our esteemed judge, Broo Doherty was also there and she is as keen as we are to discover new talent. The local launch of the prize is at the Writing Competitions: How to be a Winner event at Exeter Central Library on June 27th at 7pm. We're hoping for a big audience (to eat the cakes).
An RNA party has to have some mention of shoes but instead of the usual photos of stilettos, platforms and sparkly bone-crushers, here's what happens a little later in the evening.
Phew! I can still hear the collective sigh of relief.
What they did next...
Scroll down to find out about our previous winners.