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!
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.
Our flashy cover
Hooray! It's here! Well, nearly. Please come back on February 1st for a look at the interior. But for now, here's the first glimpse of a book I have been working on with the estimable Margaret James.
I met Margaret some years ago, when I joined Exeter Writers and we soon discovered our shared enjoyment of teaching creative writing.
We both have had the huge pleasure of seeing our students achieve publication, win or be shortlisted for prizes. They have become confident, articulate writers who have learned to use their own special talents to their maximum potential.
And we have learnt from them. This book is not yet set. It is our intention to post chapter instalments each month with a view to getting good feedback. In time we hope to produce the most useful creative writing handbook there is.
It will have a special page of its own HERE (password protected until Feb 1st).
Thank you lovely students. We couldn't have done this without you!
Anyone seen the traveling lemon lately?
Do you recognise that chap on the right? He looks a bit like - no, an awful lot like - Benedict Cumberbatch dressed as a pilot. An airline Captain actually.
Yes, Cabin Pressure is back on Radio 4 for a fourth series and I am a happy bunny. It's written by the chap on the far left, the daft Arthur in the series, but in real life, John Finnemore. I'm writing this blog as a result of reading an interview with him on the Radio Times website. Go HERE. I think it's funny (the bit about the frog) but that's not the reason I'm linking to it. What we get is insight into how he works. Obviously, he's a clever, well educated chap with a sense of humour but he hasn't given up looking, learning and asking questions about his writing. I love the fact he watches TV comedies with a notebook to hand. In particular, take in the section where he talks about plotting and character: the twin pillars of successful writing.
There's also a link on that page to the iPlayer site and the first programme in series 4. I was one of the seventeen thousand applicants for two hundred tickets to the recording. Needless to say, I didn't get any. Some things in this life are a matter of chance and that's all there is to it. Being a successful writer requires chance but more than that, determination. Before that that though, we have to write, keep writing, experiment, fail, cry, learn, write more. We can do this by ourselves but it's often quicker and much more fun together.
Check out Courses HERE and Workshops HERE
ps For Cabin Pressure fans, I only have one more thing to say: 'Yellow car!'
I haven't read this, but I know what it is. Do you?
Last Saturday's Guardian included a feature - HERE - about the best-selling books of 2012. The top three for most of the year were The Amorous Adventures of Anastasia by Ms E L James. No, wait...that's not right. You know, don't you? Who doesn't? After all, Ms James surpassed J K Rowlings record earnings of over £40 million in a single year way back in August. Gosh. That's a colossal lots of books sold.
Perhaps (and let's hope) it's a blip. The world isn't really seeking more sadomasochistic love stories, is it? The article suggests not.
Sex, however, isn't going away. One of the reasons I asked Jane Holland to give a workshop for CreativeWritingMatters is that during my teaching and competition-judging career I have read a considerable amount of writing about sex that is inappropriate, shocking, hilarious, or absent altogether. Worse, is the, this goes here, that goes there, Biology text book writing. Eeek! It's a tricky subject.
Perhaps a lace hankie might be the most erotic thing in your book? Or a pair of handcuffs, if you're Ms E L James. Do you want to write Mills and Boon Spice (sensual and sexual stories for discerning women) or erotic stories to upload onto the Kindle Store. Perhaps you want to avoid anything overt altogether, but are your characters to remain celibate throughout your book?
Go HERE for more info about the Writing About Sex workshop.
I'm arranging another short story course and also a course for writers wishing to take their work to the next level. More info soon!
Here's to a Happy and Rewarding 2013!