Tag Archives: competitions

And the prize goes to…..a website!

And the prize goes to.....a website!

Many, many thanks to all you lovely people for your support and inspired suggestions re how I ought to spend my hard earned twenty quid (thirty dollars).

It was a tough call, given some of the rather interesting and tempting suggestions you dangled before me but my newly fortyish head won out and I blew the lot on an upgrade from blog-to-own website.

So, welcome to suehealy.org : )

Ici n’est pas une banane

watch this space xo

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Wells, ah well.

Vicar’s Close, Wells, the oldest continuously inhabited street in existence, apparently.

 

So, I didn’t place at the Wells Literary Festival, the comp I’d been shortlisted for- but I did get to spend a weekend in nearby Wales with my sis and a day out in Wells – probaby England’s prettiest metropolis (and definitely its smallest).  I’ve also advanced no further than the shortlist with the Meridian Autumn comp – results out yesterday. Which leaves only the HISSAC longlisting for me to watch out there on the horizon- the shortlist will be announced on Thursday.

A friend said that winning sometimes blunts the urge to continue – so I’m meditating on that thought today.

 

How are all the six monthers going?


Just Kidding!

Jokes! Jokes are a great source of plot ideas. An established writer gave me this tip years ago and it has served me well.

Jokes, you see, are plots in miniature. Stories sealed up and ready to go. You’ve got your beginning, middle, end, your conflict, your characters – flaws and all. All you’ve got to do is flesh it out. Expland on it. Change gender and setting if possible. And no, it doesn’t have to be funny because many jokes (indeed, stories) need an element of tragedy to make comedy (and vice vearsa) and you can just crank up the aspect you want to emphasize.

Here’s a joke that gave me an idea for a short story recently shortlisted for a competition:

“It was Ryan’s funeral and the pallbearers were carrying the casket out from the church. When they bumped into a pillar, one of them heard a moan from inside the coffin. They opened the lid and found Ryan alive. He lived for another ten years before he properly died. Another funeral was held for him and, as the pallbearers were carrying out the coffin, Mrs Ryan shouted “Now, watch out for that pillar!”

OK, it’s the way ya tell ‘em… But the point is that they don’t have to be the funniest jokes – just so long as there is a story in there, a universal truth with which your readers will react and engage. Wordplay/puns won’t work so well, go for the story…

Here’s another one you can chew on for a story idea (it goes down well in the creative writing classes I give in an English prison…)

The defendant knew he didn’t have a prayer of beating the murder rap, so he bribed one of the jurors to find him guilty of manslaughter. The jury was out for days before they finally returned a verdict of manslaughter. Afterward the defendant asked, ‘How come it took you so long?’ the juror said, ‘All the others wanted to acquit’.


Wishin’ ships

Got an email from Meridian this morning, I’ve also been shortlisted for their short story comp: )This brings a grand total of three ships on the horizon. Now, here’s wishing one of them will come back to port….

Come home to Mama, come on, come on...

Meridian– shortlisted

Wells Literary Festival– shortlisted

HISSAC Award– longlisted

I should know where I stand with the Meridian and the Wells by this time next week, and the HISSAC by the end of the month.

But probably the best news of the weekend is that I’ve finally managed to catch up on my six month challenge word count and have 4,287 words down.

I finally feel like I’m back. Thanks to all of you who’ve motivated me and each other by posting your progression!


The Why of it All

A Norfolk flint wall, cracking with ideas

Well done all of you six month challengers who have plugged into the writing rapture and are producing realms of the stuff. I am in awe.

I haven’t been doing so well on my target of 500 a day, and that makes me feel awful as I was the one who launched the comp. I know I can find excuses what with being out of the country and all but it’s just not good enough, dammit.

I’m also being slack re writing short stories of late and I’m usually very on the ball there. I think I may simply be tired. Anyway, to motivate myself and hopefull you too, I’m going to re-post here a list of reasons I should keep working on my short stories (as well as my novel, but that reason is self evident).

a) Being shortlisted encourages and motivates when such stuff is difficult to come by in the writers’ life.

b) I can get published in literary magazines.

c) Money, if I win.

d) It keeps me on my toes and hones and polishes my craft.

e) By writing stories I build up a portfolio just in case I’m ever offered a collection.

f) It gives me an edge when applying for bursaries, residencies, funding etc..

g) It might bring  the attention of publishers.

h) Short stories are something I can work on when time is limited.

i) An agent once told me that it is important to build up your writing ‘credits’.

j) Agents are human and sometimes don’t trust their own judgement, so wins and commendations give you that ‘seal of approval’/credibility.

k) Short story writing is a better displacement activity than making a cup of tea.

M) Having good writing credits help when applying for writing jobs.

p) Writing short stories reminds me that I’m a writer.

Now, I guess I should stare at a wall like Leonardo da Vinci and get inspired. Hello wall, have you got any novel ideas?

Six Month Challenge:

Day 5

Word count: 1,900


Back in Norwich. Back in action.

 

The Market, Norwich.

 

Apologies for the scant and scatty posts over the past few days. As explained, I was in Ireland to run my first creative writing workshop (well, the first that I’m running independently). All went extremely well. The feedback was positive and I’m now motivated to bring this workshop forward and make it a regular event, hopefully hosting sessions in Ireland, France and Hungary.

Also, RTE have contacted me again (that’s the Irish national TV station) about writing for them. It is the second time they’ve asked if I’d be interested in trying out for a gig with them and I might as well give it a go this time. I’m now awaiting news on my short-listing for the Wells Literary Festival competition and my long listing on the HISSAC. These three ships may indeed sink before they make it back to port, but at least they are on the horizon now and that’s exciting.

I have to admit that I’ve not done any novel writing today. I’m leaning on the excuse that having eventually found a non-fog-bound flight back to Norwich from Ireland yesterday, I was too exhausted to get out of bed this morning. Wee weak girlie that I am. Am determined to make up for this tonight.

My current word count is 1,500.  It’s day four. I’m 500 words under target.

 

How are you guys all doing?


1,000 Word Kick Off

I’m in Ireland, having just finished running my first workshop . All went well, I think (I’m waiting to get feedback).

Managed to hit my 1,ooo word target for the six month challenge. I promise to post properly when I’m back on my own Internet connection. Well done to all you who’ve had a good lift off and have also met your targets.

Day 2

Wordcount: 1,000


Competitions with an autumn closing date

Go for gold

September Unpublished Fiction Authors Print Ready Competition
Closing date: 30th September 2011

Entry fee: None.
Theme – Crime.
Website. creativeprintpublishing.com/publishing/

Capri-sun Perfect Day Competition
Closing date: 30th September 2011
Prizes: “Your Perfect Day” up to £5,000; 17 x £80 gig tickets; 1,000 x £15 iTunes vouchers.
Entry fee: None. Type in your entry online. capri-sun.co.uk/perfectday

The Aeon Award 2011 Short Fiction Contest
Closing date: September 30th
Prizes: €1000 and publication in Albedo One.

Entry fee: €7 per entry.
albedo1.com/

The Ashram Award

Prizes: £1,000

Closing date: 30 September 2010

http://www.ashamaward.com/

2011 Spilling Ink Fiction Prize
Closing date: 1st October, 2011.
Prizes: £500, £250, £125,
Entry fee: £5. There is no theme. All styles (including experimental) and genre-based fiction (mystery, crime, fantasy, science fiction, historical) are welcome. Stories up to 3,000 words. spillinginkreview.com/competitions/

Write A Story For Bedtime Competition
Closing date: 28th October 2011.
Prizes: 1st: £500, 2nd: £300, 2 x 3rd: £100 each.
Entry fee: Free and is open to UK residents only, over the age of 18.
Entries should be in English with a minimum length of 1500 words; maximum 3000 words. avogel.co.uk/story/

Atlantis Annual Short Story Contest
Closing date: October 31, 2011
Prizes: $300, $100 $50

Entry fee: $10.
Maximum 1,500 words. Contact e-mail: inquiry@atlantis-shortstorycontest.com
atlantis-shortstorycontest.com/

Southport Writers’ Circle Annual Open Short Story Competition 2011
Closing date: 31st October 2011
Prizes: £200, £100, £50
Entry fee: £3.00 for each story, or £10 for 4.

Unpublished, original story on any theme of up to 2000 words.
Send a cover sheet for each entry with the story’s title, word count, your name, address, telephone number and e-mail address for results. Send entries to: Short Story Competition, Southport Writers’ Circle, Flat 3, 35 Saunders Street, Southport, Merseyside, PR9 0JH

Earlyworks Press Short Story Competition
Closing date: 31st October 2011
Prizes: £100.
Entry fee: £5 up to 4000 words. 4000 to 8000 words, £10. Max 8000 words.
earlyworkspress.co.uk/Competitions

NAWG Open Short Story Competition

Closing date: 31st October 2011

Prize: £250

http://www.nawg.co.uk/

Inktears Short Story Competition 2011
Closing date: 30 November 2011.
Prizes:  £1,000, £100, £25

Entry fee: £4.50.
Length:1000-3000 words, any theme.
 inktears.com for full details.

The New Writer Prose and Poetry Competition – Fiction
Closing Date: 30th November 2011
Prizes: £300, £200, £100.
Entry fees: £5 per short story;

thenewwriter.com/

The Fish Short Story Competition

Closing date: 30th November 2011

Prize: €3,000

http://www.fishpublishing.com/short-story-competition-contest.php

HE Bates Short Story Competition

Closing date: December 1st, 2011

Prizes: £150

Entry fee: £4

http://www.hebatescompetition.org.uk/

Here’s an interesting one for those of you of the heaving bosoms and chiseled chins bent…

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/sep/15/my-romance-mills-and-boon

And on the other side of the moon… for those of you with an ISBN:

http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/public/article703128.ece

GOOD LUCK!


Feeling Rejected?

Thank you so much, all of you lovely people who sent warm wishes regarding my short-listing. I ran a half marathon once and remember being carried forward by the cheering of the crowd and your comments yesterday were a reminder of that support. Muchísimas gracias, merci bien, nagyon szépen köszönöm, go raibh míle maith agaibh!

Posting this “success” also made me feel a bit of a fraud. Don’t worry, the short listing is genuine, I’m referring instead to the number of rejections/disappointments/ non-runs/PFOs I receive and never post because, well, one doesn’t make a big deal out of “failure”. A writer’s lot is pickled with rejection however, and learning how to handle it is one of the most important (and difficult) lessons a novice writer faces. Therefore, I thought it might be an idea to look at dealing with letters that begin: “The standard this year was very high and unfortunately…”

I when I was 22, I wrote seven short stories. They were bad, really pretentious, crammed with adjectives and adverbs and there was no theme or character development or point to any of them at all but I thought they were pure genius. I sent them off to every magazine I could find in the bookstore. And waited. And waited. And waited… until I became convinced that they had all been lost in the post. It was the only explanation, surely, as any editor would recognize my genius immediately, no?

A couple of months later, I received a single rejection letter. And the truth dawned. No one else even bothered replying. It was 100% rejection. I was floored. I burned the stories I was working on and I didn’t send anything else off for another ten years. That was very stupid of me. I should have brushed myself off and tried again. I would be in a much better position and be a better writer now if I had. But I wasn’t strong or intelligent enough to know that then. Ah, well.

During my first year on my MA at UEA, I sent out another batch of stories. I’d had a few shorts published at this stage and was confident that I’d now win every competition going and it would pay my MA tuition. And, again I got nowhere. I was pretty down but I recalled how I’d let rejection defeat me before and vowed it wouldn’t happen again.

I sent out more stuff, and then more stuff. And after six months, I won the Mary and Ted O’Regan Award, and then the Annaghmakerrig award and the Molly Keane Award this year (and received a tonne of rejections too).

My key coping tactic is multiple send outs. I like to have twelve “ships at sea” at any one time.  That way, if one ship sinks, I don’t notice it so much.

And don’t give up – look at how you can improve your rejected story and send it out again.

Remember, much depends on what the magazine or the competition judge is looking for at that particular time, it may not be a comment on your writing skills.

The 2011 stats:

Ships sent out in 2011 so far: 50

Wins/acceptance/short-listings: 13

Ships sunk without trace: 26

Ships yet to report back: 11


Good MORNING! Good Writing!

There is a theory that the brain is more creative in the morning, especially in your waking moments. For this reason, many writers keep their notepad by their beds and make sure that the very first thing they do when they open their eyes each morning, is write. The resultant notes are called “morning pages”. I’v e only very recently become a fan of this morning exercise but I’m finding it fruitful. I don’t believe it would have worked for me ten years ago when I didn’t ‘do’ mornings, at all, ever. Now, I’m 41. I do mornings and I do them well.

 

Anyway, enough about my aging. Morning pages might contain what a writer remembers of their dreams or perhaps the writer will simply jot down the very first words that come to mind that day. Some writers say that this exercise helps them ‘slip’ more easily into what writers’ call the “writing rapture” when a writer feels ideas are pouring into their mind. When writers write in the morning, so the theory goes, they are closer to their sleeping state and the mind is more imaginative and/or receptive to ideas.

 

Having said that, there are plenty of writers who write late at night – for the same reason that they say the closer to sleep they are, the more creative their ideas. Then there are other writers who find their most productive hours are in the middle of the day (the Harry Potter author, J.K. Rowling is a good example. She wrote her first book in a busy Edinburgh café).

 

Different times of the day work for different people and it is really of no consequence whether you are a morning, day or night writer. What is important is that you write and that you find your ideal writing time. Experiment. Find what works for you and then set an hour aside each day at that time and write.

 

Likewise, writers have very personal tastes regarding an environment conducive to writing. There are those who like music or TV buzz in the background and those who can only write in silence. Find whatever works for you.