"A word after a word after a word is power" - Margaret Atwood


A blog for readers and writers

A blog about the stories we tell each other and how we tell them...

Monday, 21 November 2011

New Writer competition closing soon

This is the 12th year of the Prose and Poetry Prizes sponsored by The New Writer magazine. Prizes are awarded in the following categories:
Essays, Articles, Interviews - covering any writing-related or literary theme in its widest sense up to 2,000 words. 1st prize £150, 2nd £100, 3rd £50.
Short Stories, Micro Fiction - short stories 500 to 5,000 words, micro fiction up to 500 words; on any subject or theme, in any genre (not children's). Previously published work is not eligible. Short Stories: 1st prize £300, 2nd £200, 3rd £100. Micro Fiction: 1st prize £150, 2nd £100, 3rd £50.
Single Poems and Collections - Single Poems up to 40 lines; Collections of between 6 - 10 poems - no restriction on length of poems in the Collection category. Single poem entries must be previously unpublished; previously published poems can be included as part of a Collection. Collection: 1st prize £300, 2nd £200, 3rd £100. Single: 1st prize £100, 2nd £75, 3rd £50.

Closing date November 30th

Entry fees: vary from £5 for two flash fiction stories to £12 for a collection of poetry. Reductions for magazine subscribers. 
Read the rules: follow the rules. It's not rocket science - the administrators will exclude anyone not obeying without even reading the first line...

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Nothing to do with writing...everything to do with just getting by

There's no doubt that we facing Hard Times...but the cuts are not falling on everyone equally.  
Women are being hit in three distinct ways:
- they are losing their jobs
- their benefits and the services they rely on are being slashed
- AND they will be the ones expected to ‘fill the gaps’ as state services are withdrawn and voluntary organisations close down through lack of funding.
The Fawcett Society, backed by more than 20 charities, unions and academics, have produced a report that recommends:
• restoration of support for childcare costs for low-income families to pre-April 2011 levels - this would help ensure paid employment makes financial sense for the many low income women who’ve found they are better off not working.
• Ring fencing of funding for Sure Start children’s centres - this would further protect women’s access to employment and shore up the other vital benefits these centres offer thousands of families. 
• Stopping local authorities from treating violence against women services as a soft touch for cuts to ensure that some of the most vulnerable women in the UK have access to the support they need.
The Fawcett Society has been around since 1866. It's a shame that we can't relegate their work to the history books...

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

The website we all need....

Writers and would-be writers and day dreaming writers owe Sally Quilford big time. She contributes a monthly column to Writers Forum magazine but, more importantly, she runs a website that gives writers a reason to get up in the morning and face the cruel blank screen.
She lists writing competitions in order of their closing date. I have no doubt that represents a lot of hard work. Why I think her efforts are worthwhile and she should be recognised for services to the writing community is that we all need a deadline. If someone hasn't given us one we need to manufacture our own...
...I must finish this chapter, novel, short story, poem before Christmas, next pay day, the kids' coming home from school...
OR by the competition deadline because this time I'm actually going to send it off into the wider world and allow it to be read, to be judged.
Careers have been forged by writing competitions: by winning of them of course (poet and novelist Tobias Hill began his career this way and every rejection, every time he wasn't short listed he sent out more on the Hydra principle - every time the serpent's head was cut off she grew two more.) But even if you never win, never see your name among the list of honourably mentioned, you will have written something.
And the only way to learn how to write is to write (and to read obviously).
Writing in the head does not count. It needs the hard finality of paper.

And the Competitions we shouldn't enter...

Sally doesn't list every competition she hears about. Here she explains why she turns down some - and I think what goes for her should go for the rest of us. There are not that many writing scams out there, but they do exist. Follow her guidelines and you should be able to avoid them...

Reasons a competition might not be listed, include (but are not limited to):
a) a comp or event run by an obvious vanity publisher who charges entrants for expensive anthologies or tries to force entrants to spend money on other goods and services.
b) the 'winners' have to spend money in order to claim their prize (e.g. if the prize is a percentage off a writers holiday, or any other writers' service, I don't consider it a prize at all, so won't list the comps),
c) I may refuse to list a comp if I feel that the organiser is only doing it to sell books. For example, I've had self-published writers contact me about their comps, which stipulates that entrants must buy their book in order to enter, either because there's some codeword or because the story must be based on something in the book. I may do it for a bigger publisher, because they generally offer much better prizes.
d) If there is no real prize to speak of, and the prize only involves being published on a website, or publication in a book which the 'winners' have to buy.
e) if I find out that a competition has taken money from entrants but not paid out prizes, or has not played fair with its entrants in other ways.
f) The details have been submitted too late to take into account postal times etc.
g) If I feel the entry fees charged are disproportionate to the prizes on offer. An example is a comp that charges £20 per entry, yet offers prizes totalling less than £100.
h) The competition does not have a proper closing date, only some nebulous idea of when the organiser thinks they've 'got enough entries'. Comps without a closing date will not be listed.

Know a gay bookshop? Love a gay bookshop? Write about it...

Treehouse Press are about to publish an anthology celebrating gay bookshops, past and present. They are looking for submissions now - personal stories and nonfiction preferred. Email first to say which bookshop you would like to cover and why. Make it good - this is your chance to pitch.
Published stories will receive a payment of £25 and two copies of the anthology.
Deadline end of November 2011.
Treehouse are a small independent press that "happily experiments with the chemistry shared between form and image".
They also opt for small print-runs "relieving the writer of the pressure to commercially perform, giving more room to play creatively."