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About writing. About reading.
A blog for writers:the published, the performing and the emerging.
A blog for readers who can travel through time and space with the right book, the right story.
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I've packed up, wiped down the insides of the cupboard, emptied the rubbish bin.
And now I have a NEW BLOG over on wordpress
It's nice. You'll like it.
Here's my new address. Come on over....
Free to enter. Fun to enter.
Other people do crosswords, writers work on sonnets or competitions like this.
Words with Jam are giving away three mugs (who said you were going to get rich as a writer). All you have to do is tell in exactly 140 characters (including spaces and punctuation) why you hate TWITTER. Simple as that.
Entries should be sent in the body of an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. (I'm told attachments will be mortared all to hell.) Closing date 5th of September.
Why not...if you complete a crossword, you just complete a crossword....
The Olympics are over and it's all right to go back to watching ordinary TV. The news returns to workaday-economic-disaster and ice caps melting faster than we thought.
My husband's almost glad: he feared that taekwondo was going to be too steep a learning curve. In 17 days he had mastered the nicities of dressage and dive scoring and came to understand the concentration required in clay shooting. For one brief glorious moment he knew what it meant to be a coxless pair with the taste of victory in your mouth and experienced the thrill of escaping elimination in cycling contests, but he wasn't sure he was going be a good enough spectator for the taekwondo contestants.
As a novice watcher I wasn't so worried, most sport is a mystery to me, but I was transfixed by the stories acted out in front of us in real time each day. I was learning a lot too about crises and climaxes, character development and story arcs.
If you are a writer who wants to write a page-turning unputdownable epic, I recommend watching Mo Farah's 5000 metres race. It was suspense distilled into 13:41.66 minutes.
Here's part of Carol Ann Duffy's take on what we have just lived through. It's got a punch big enough for a boxing gold.
A summer of rain, then a gap in the clouds
and The Queen jumped from the sky
to the cheering crowds.
We speak Shakespeare here,
a hundred tongues, one-voiced; the moon bronze or silver,
sun gold, from Cardiff to Edinburgh
by way of London Town,
on the Giant's Causeway;
we say we want to be who we truly are,
now, we roar it. Welcome to us.
We've had our pockets picked,
the soft, white hands of bankers,
bold as brass, filching our gold, our silver;
we want it back.
We are Mo Farah lifting the 10,000 metres gold.
We want new running-tracks in his name.
For Jessica Ennis, the same; for the Brownlee brothers,
Rutherford, Ohuruogu, Whitlock, Tweddle,
for every medal earned,
we want school playing-fields returned.
And it starts again on August 29 with more heroes and heroines telling more stories...
Cathy Dreyer - a student on Oxford University’s Undergraduate Diploma in Creative Writing - posted her suggestion here in a LOL short story that won a £50 prize. Students do not copy! (the story or the way the protagonist handed in homework).
By: Bridget Whelan,
Blog: TWENTY TEN Bridget Whelan
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, Family biography
, nature writing
, creative writing courses
, City Lit
, Family History
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Since my last post was about the arguments regarding whether creative writing can be taught, I suppose it's not surprising that I should be thinking about the courses that I will be running in Brighton and Central London in the autumn - although I haven't actually been away this summer yet.
Courses take a lot of planing and ideas for new exercises and new approaches to familiar subjects come from a diverse range of sources - a chance remark, a photograph, an article in Sunday supplement.
Last night after a dinner party I suddenly saw how I could use titles from Philip K. Dick's books to spark new and original writing and went straight to my laptop to plan a lesson instead of heading for the kitchen sink and the washing up...can't think why. What's else on offer next term?
Halloween and all things ghoulish, creating believable baddies, discovering how being in the moment can aid description and two entirely new courses - nature writing on the edge of the Sussex Downs and a lunch hour course in central London for busy writers who just want/need to go home after work.
I am also very glad to be running a course on writing the biography of your family again. There's nothing as interesting as people and I meet some fascinating characters in the classroom - the fact that some of them have been dead a couple of hundred years doesn't make any difference.
While the course is aimed at anyone who wants to put flesh on the bare bones of family history - a list of dates of births, deaths and marriages reveals very little by itself - it is also suitable for students who want to write the life story of a parent or grandparent.
Get in touch if you'd like to find out more.
Writing – an introduction MONDAY MORNINGS
doesn’t matter if you haven’t written since school - come along and discover
the writer within on this confidence-building 10 week course
starting on October 1st 2012
South Portslade Community Centre
Writing – advanced THURSDAY MORNING or AFTERNOON
An imaginative 10 week course designed to offer
support and inspiration to the emerging writer. Morning and afternoon sessions
available starting on October
South Portslade Community Centre
Writing from Nature at Foredown Tower SIX WEEK COURSE
inspiration from the natural world, and look at the familiar in new ways at
this unique site on the edge of the South Downs. This is a short Wednesday
morning course starting on November 7th 2012
Help! I Want To Be
Published! FIVE WEEK COURSE
short course for aspiring fiction and non fiction writers that combines
practical guidance on the nitty gritty of getting published with advice on how
to make your writing stand out for all the right reasons.
on November 6th at the Friends Centre, near Brighton Station.
The 60-minute Writer GRAB A SANDWICH & A DOSE OF CREATIVITY
creative writing into your busy day in central London. A relaxed, informal
rolling programme for writers of all levels of experience who enjoy being
thrown new ideas and experimenting with poetry and prose. This Friday lunchtime
class starts on September 28th 2012 at City Lit in Holborn.
Writing Your Family Biography
non-fiction course for students who want to learn how to use writing techniques
to transform the bare bones of family history into a gripping read.
Friday afternoon course starts on September 14th 2012 at City Lit in Holborn.
Ways into Creative Writing
imaginative and supportive course covering prose writing and poetry -suitable
for the beginner
Friday evening course starts on September 14 2012 at City Lit in Holborn.
No one wonders why an aspiring artist should want to go to art school or thinks there is anything strange about a musician taking lessons, but 80+ years after the first university creative writing programme was launched the debate about whether creative writing can be taught still rages on.
and editor Louis Menand writing in the New
Yorker in 2009 questioned the way creative writing is taught
are designed on the theory that students who have never published a poem can
teach other students who have never published a poem how to write a publishable
and author Hanif Kureishi - of My
Beautiful Laundrette and The Buddha of
Suburbia fame - seems to find very little of value in any creative writing course. His observations are much ruder and considerably less funny. I can't help wondering how the post grad creative writing students he supervises at Kingston University feel about his assertion that such courses only attract the mad.
I've put the other side of the argument (surprise, surprise) in the latest issue of What the Dickens creative writing magazine. You can download it for free at http://wtd-magazine.com/
There's lots more to read in the summer sunflower issue - from author interviews to reviews and craft articles. Plus a fascinating glimpse behind the scenes at a new writing website that offers intriguing against-the-clock writing exercises.
Have a peek at my article and then come back here. I'd love to know what you think, especially if you've ever been on a creative writing course (including one of mine!)
This is a short post to everyone who attended this year's Summer School - it was a blast.
Doing anything the beginning of September? No? Then you might want to consider taking part it a 35 year old literary marathon that has produced 25 published novels in its time and a lot of tired writers. The competition is international and differs from NaNoWriMo
- It's shorter - a month is so-o-o-o long
- It costs to register
- There are prizes
Early-bird registration (deadline: August 15) costs $50 which at today's exchange rates is nearly £32 and about 40 euro. That's quite a lot of money but if you do submit (there's no obligation) someone is actually going to read it. First prize is publication by the organisors, second prize is $500 and third prize is $100.
The Nitty Gritty
The actual writing AND editing must begin no earlier than 12:01 a.m. on Saturday,
September 1, and must stop by 11:59 p.m. on Monday, September 3. It's run on the honour system but they do ask you to give details of a witness who can verify that you've obeyed the rules.
There are no limits to the novel’s length, but
they expect something in the region of 25,000 - 30,000
words. I may sound a bit picky but that's not really a novel - it's more like a very long short story. I'm not knocking it though - that's 30,000 words entrants might not have written otherwise - 30,000 words that could grow into something big and important. I approve of seat of the pants writing, where you're forced to convert all the ideas you've had floating in your head into ink and paper, forgetting the niceties of the semi colon and proper meal times.
I guess the organisers will get suspicious if you submit a proper novel length submission (that's usually reckoned to be between 80,000 and 100,000 words) accurately typed with evidence of immaculate copy editing. They say they can always tell if someone has cheated...and I bet they can, because I cannot understand why they don't let you edit afterwards. It just doesn't make sense (like some of the manuscripts submitted, I presume).
White Hot and Ice Cold
72 hours of burning fast writing sounds great - sounds like the kind of creative kickstart some of us need (hand goes up) - but editing is done with an ice cold pen, ripping out scenes, squelching witty asides and strangling endearing characters because they don't serve any useful purpose in the story. And you need distance to do that - at least a week (Aristotle recommended nine years) but definitely not during that white hot creating phase.
What do you think?
Anyone done something like this? Can you edit and write at the same time?
Did you fall in love with the Narnia books as a child?
A rare first edition of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is up for auction later this week. It is expected to make around £12,000 because it is signed with love from Jack Lewis
- a name that the great man only used with his family and small circle of close friends. The owner was the son of a very good friend and he was given it Christmas 1950.
One thing's for sure and that is book covers have improved in the last 60 years. This one manages to make riding on the back of a lion look dull - turning Aslan into a rather large pet
I don't think the cartoon version is much better. Aslan just looks cross.
This Walt Disney DVD cover is an improvement - at least it's clear that this is not an out of Africa story.
While the modern paperback is frosty with venom, making it clear that it is tale about a world where it always winter and never Christmas.
I'm more envious of the other gift bestowed on the young Nicholas Hardie - something that can't be auctioned. The Silver Chair was dedicated to him as a child and I think it is my favourite Narnia books with the unforgettable Puddleglum as the star. It is probably nostalgia that makes me like this cover - there's not a marshwiggle in sight, or hungry giants, or a black knight. Apart from that it's just fine.
BOOK GUILD PUBLISHING, the Brighton based independent publisher, have teamed up with City Reads* to run a free short story competition.
The story must be on the theme of ‘THE LIE’ and not more than 3,000 words in length – but flash fiction fans please note that the organisers specifically say that there is no minimum length.Deadline: August 16 2012
More essential information from the Book Guild website. Find out all the the rules - and follow them to the letter. They matter. They are the difference between falling at the first hurdle without even being read and giving yourself and your writing a chance.
*City Reads is a fantastic Brighton festival held every autumn. Every year one book by one author is chosen for the whole community to read,
discuss, debate and creatively engage with in a series of special
events, workshops and performances. This year it is a novel set in Brighton for the first time ever - My Policeman by Bethan Roberts
I've written about WHAT THE DICKENS magazine before. It
is an excellent on-line magazine -- going into print later in the year -- and I
will soon be writing for it, so I hope you will come over and visit.
Meanwhile check out how you can use the free listings and resources section on
the website and in the magazine to promote the things that are important to
you are running a competition or want to promote an event or course What the
Dickens bi-monthly magazine
would be happy to put details on the blog and in the magazine.
For the blog
entry, just send a link and we will press straight from the page
onto the blog. If no link is available then e-mail the details.
If you want to go in
the magazine (starting in Issue
6) then please also send a brief piece of about 50 words including title, info,
details and closing date.
will happily consider re-tweeting your tweets about any of the above. Include
us in using @writersgifts ensuring we will always see it.
0 Comments on Free advertising opportunities for writers and all things literary as of 1/1/1900
This almost – not quite – makes me wish I was back in
London Literary organisation Spread the Word has teamed up with Phrased & Confused, and Dartington
Festivals to offer a unique professional development opportunity for London
The six day programme kicks off with a London-based workshop
on Wednesday 19 September 2012 (evening), followed by a 5-day residential at
Dartington Hall in Devon from the evening of Tues 9 – Sun 14
During the residency writers will:
Take part in supportive workshops designed to
increase confidence and skill in performing and presenting work.
Develop skills in vocal projection, movement and
inhabiting texts and experiment with music and words, playing with site and
Write and present work at the Interrogate Festival on
Sat 14th / Sun 15th October 2012
Writers will be asked to make a contribution of £200. This
will include travel to and from Dartington, accommodation and food for five
nights and tuition costs and there is one fully funded bursary to a writer that
is unable to make the £200 contribution because of financial hardship.
Applications close on 6 August 2012.
By: Bridget Whelan,
Blog: TWENTY TEN Bridget Whelan
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, rejection letter
, Harry Potter
, Gone with the Wind
, Dr Seuss
, Lorna Doone
, J.K. Rowling
, Stephen King
, James Patterson
, Lord of the Flies
, Add a tag
Every night there are publishers and agents who go to sleep knowing that they held the manuscript of Harry Potter in their hands and turned it down.
I don't know for sure how many times it was rejected - every source quotes a different figure - but it seems safe to say quite a few.
So here are a few more famous rejections to give you heart if you've ever been on the receiving end of I'm-afraid-your-book-doesn't fit-into-our-list kind of letter.
CARRIE by Stephen King
King received 30 rejections for his story of a
tormented girl with telekinetic powers, and then he threw it away – his wife
found it and persuaded him to keep on trying.
GONE WITH THE WIND by Margaret Mitchell
Rejected by 38 publishers before it was printed. The
1939 film is the highest grossing
Hollywood film of all time (adjusted for inflation).
LORNA DOONE by Richard Blackmore
Turned down 18 times before being published in 1889.(Made up name by the way, just as Jonathan Swift invented Vanessa and Wendy in Peter Pan was the very first of her kind.)
DUNE by Frank Herbert
The epic science-fiction story was rejected by 23
LORD OF THE FLIES by William Golding was rejected by 20 publishers.
The DR SEUSS books 15
publishers denied themselves the chance of becoming very rich.
And James Patterson's first efforts were rejected by nearly 50 publishers. He is believed to have sold more books than any
other author - that's an estimated 260 million copies worldwide.
A recent article in The Economist quotes an author who claims to have cracked “the code” of bestsellers.
James Hall says it has to be:
emotionally chargedwritten simply
It should have a
maverick hero who is in over his head (hmm...does it have to be a HE?).
In addition, the story must revolve around a thorny issue and
include an important sexual incident.
Looking back at recent mega selling books, it's hard to argue against his main points, but I'm wary of anyone who describes the plot of Jane Eyre as rich man with issues falls for innocent young lass
He seems to forget that the book is not called Mr Rochester. How about: used and abused innocent young lass falls for powerful older man but flees when she discovers his dark secret. She rejects another suitor and returns when the man she loves is at his most vulnerable.
While I may have doubts about Hall's literary analysis, I was impressed by Celia Brayfield book on the same subject BESTSELLER: secrets of successful writing
It was recommended to me by Su Quinn who is on her way to being a bestselling author with her first novel Glass Geishas
,and dear reader I bought a copy.
From tonight's EUROVISION song contest. In reverse order of irritation.
The gold of a spider’s web
My love is a sinking ship and mine alone
I landed my plane on the lightless runway of your soul
As part of the celebrations marking the Queen’s Jubilee this summer,
East Grinstead Town Council is launching a Short Story/Poetry
Entry fee £3 each submission - £10 for four.
First prize in each category: £100, and a commemorative Jubilee
Second prize in each category: £50 and a commemorative Jubilee
Deadline is 1 May and entry is open to anyone
"who lives or works in, or has a connection to, Sussex."
Poems up to 40 lines long can be humorous or serious, on a theme
connected to Sussex, or the Queen’s Jubilee, and containing one of the
Short stories, up to 1000 words, should start with one of the following first lines:
- Sixty years? It didn’t seem possible…
- As the On Air light glowed into life, the Queen discarded her prepared speech and addressed the nation in her own words…
- She had no umbrella, so the Queen caught up her collar, glad to hide
her face from the rain and from the few stragglers lingering in the
- Behind the Prime Minister’s back, the Queen suppressed a giggle,
pleased that a lifetime of decorum had not quite extinguished her sense
The Town Mayor will present prizes if recipients are close enough to
travel to East Grinstead, and winners who wish to receive their prizes
in person will be invited to read their winning entries during the
weekend celebrations marking the Jubilee.
FInd out more here
National Libraries Day 2012 is on
Saturday 4th February 2012, and in Hove Library you will get to meet a whole bunch of talented local writers in the Periodicals Room from
1:30pm to 4:30pm.
There will be 11 of us:
Kate Harrison writes for adults and teenagers - author of the Secret Shopper series
Sarah Rayner - her new novel The Two Week Wait is released on February 2nd. Her last one sold over 220 copies...(sorry, that should be 22000)
Susanna Quinn - journalist, ghost writer, Mum. Her first novel Glass Geishas is out next month. (Isn't that a brilliant title and yes, it is set in Japan...)
Enfield - journalist and regular contributor to national newspapers and magazines, her latest novel, Uncoupled is out on Friday February 3rd
Araminta Hall - author of Everything and Nothing ("takes the Mary Poppins myth and turns it into a menacing tale")
Simon Toyne - author of the Sanctus thriller series
Julia Crouch - author of the very sexy, very scary Cuckoo (reviewed on this site - go hunt for it),
Mark Barrowcliffe author of six novels - latest Wolfangel under the name of MD
Dorothy Koomson - author of seven novels including The Woman He Loved Before
Jo Rees - author of many best sellers including Platinum and Forbidden Pleasures
and me Bridget Whelan. Yep, not sure how I got into this illusterous line up either ....but at least A Good Confession is on the shelves of Hove library (actually hope it's not, hope someone is reading it....)
Psychologies magazine are running a free to enter writing competition and the subject is your own personal story.
Length is 500 words and the rules say You should write 500 words so that suggests they are not expecting anything much shorter. (Nothing longer, mind. Never ever exceed a maximum word count.)
The rules also say that it can be in any format...and that makes me curious about what they are hoping to receive.
What format could you choose other than the regular David Copperfield style? You know, I was born on...
- a letter to a relative you've never met
- a letter to your younger self
- Using recipes/food as a theme
- Starting with the words: I don't remember
Deadline is soon - February 13th - and you can send by post to Psychologies, 72 Broadwick Street, London W1F 7EP or email email@example.com.
Read all the rules carefully here. For example, they don't want email entries sent as an attachment.
Judges are Psychologies editor Louise Chunn and Helen
Garnons-Williams from Bloomsbury. They will choose a winner and five
runners-up from a longlist of 20, chosen by the Psychologies editorial
First prize - publication in Psychologies magazine and a place on a Writers’ and Artists’ course.
The Irish Post is looking for an original short story of up to 3,000 words reflecting Irish life in Britain.
The winner gets free travel to Listowel Writers’ Week, which takes place May 30 - June 3, plus £500 prize money. Their work will also be published in the official Listowel
Writers’ Week brochure and in The Irish Post.
Entries can be either posted or e-mailed... Send them to: Listowel Competition, The Irish Post, Suite A, 1 Lindsey Street, London EC1A 9HP
or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Include the story title, your name, address and telephone number.
Closing date for entries is March 2, 2012.
For full details and updates visit www.irishpost.co.uk
New Writing South -- the literary development agency - and Theatre Centre - an oragnisation that commissions and tours new writing in schools - are looking for 5-10 writers in the south east to be a part of the national Skylines Project.
is an innovative programme for playwrights to develop skills for Young
People’s Theatre designed to develop a writer’s ability and interest in
creating work for young audiences.
The project will involve five groups of writers from across the UK, one of which will be at The Writers' Place
in Brighton. There will be an initial gathering for all writers
involved, which will take place in London. There will then be three
sessions in Brighton, led by professional writers that specialise in
writing for young audiences to include exercises and tasks, with some
self-guided study and an online learning/interaction element. This will
culminate in a sharing event, led and directed by Theatre Centre actors
and directors to showcase ideas at the end of the process with a young
The introductory event will be taking place in London, ideally towards
the end of March/beginning of April. Sharing will ideally take
place by Autumn 2012. The timing of sessions will be negotiated with
our venue partners based on individual needs and other programming.
This is a fantastic, unique and free opportunity for writers wanting to
write for children and young people. If you are interested in being a
part of Skylines please contact Chris Taylor by email only email@example.com saying why this project would work for you
When I haven't been writing, I've been reading and one of the things I've been reading is What The Dickens magazine. It comes out every two months and it's good. It's very good and it's for writers and readers.
What's more it is FREE and downloadable here
In these uncertain days crime fiction is becoming more popular. It seems that it's not blood, gore and a high body count that we crave but "the restoration of order" in the words of P.D. James.
If you read a lot of crime fiction. If names like Marple, Morse, Hole, Rebus, Grace and Wallander are as familiar to you as your own family then you may want to enter this interesting FLASHBANG competition.
Flashbang is crime writing in 150 words or less. For inspiration read these even shorter example here and here Somehow a whole 150 words seems generous after that.
Closing date is April 15 2012. For all the rules and other important information visit the FLASHBANG website here. First prize is two tickets to Crimefest and there are lots of other goodies to win. The website even gives details of what the judges are looking for. Here's a selection of the good advice on offer.
Flash fiction needs to grab and retain attention with
immediacy. I’ll also be looking for well-crafted prose that matches the
nature of a storyline which has originality and credibility.
Rhian Davies, CWA Dagger judge
Standout title. Immediate sense of place and character. Cunningly uncomplicated prose. Dearth of clichés. Cracking ending.
Sarah Hilary, award-winning flash writer
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story of between 600–800 words, starting with the line: “Once upon a
Munch Time, there was a cow called Munch…”
Closing date: midnight on 4th June 2012.
Prize is £1,000 and three runner up prizes of £500 each.
You can send your entry online and postal entries allowed and you can include a picture/image supporting their story in JPEG or PDF format not exceeding
BUT it won't be used in the judging process
AND the terms and conditions state
"By entering the Promotion, entrants assign the Material transmitted as
part of the above Promotion and all intellectual property and other
rights associated with the Material to the Promoter or its nominee
unconditionally. For the avoidance of doubt, the Material may be used by
the Promoter and any member of the NESTLÉ GROUP for
any purpose in any media anywhere in the world, including but not
limited to copying, issuing copies to the public, communication to the
public, making an adaptation, or any of the aforesaid in relation to
18. To the extent that assignment is not possible, entrants grant the Promoter and the NESTLÉ GROUP an exclusive, irrevocable, royalty free licence to use the Material for any purpose in any media anywhere in the world."
That's entrants remember - not winners. If I were an unpublished children's author I'd still give it a go, but I wouldn't hand over artwork or a photograph for nowt. I'm not keen on words like irrevocable, free, any media, anywhere in the world being in the same sentence.