Thursday, 1 October 2009

Christmas Chiller Comp

If you fancy writing a spooky tale with a Christmas flavour or maybe have one already completed and languishing on your pooter, how about entering it in WriteLink’s latest short story competition, Christmas Chiller?


First Prize £50 and publication on Writelink
Two runners up prizes of £25.
Word count 1500 maximum
Entry fee: £4.50 per story
Entries close 8th November, 2009

Oh and your story must begin with ...
“The good fairy stared through the sifting curtain of snow and wondered … ”

I know some of you don't like paying entry fees and the prize isn't mind-boggling but it's sometimes good to get out of your usual writing style and let rip. And who knows, with a bit of editing, you might still be able to sell it on to a mag afterwards.

For more competitions visit Sally Quilford's Competition Calendar Sally regularly updates this page so there's always something interesting to be found.

Eating sweets causes violence?

Not related to writing but this made me splutter in disbelief. Some barmpot has come up with the notion that eating too many sweets as a youngster causes aggression in later life. Quote from the study:

Analysis confirms that 10-year-olds who ate confectionery daily were significantly more likely to have been convicted for violence between the ages of 29 and 34.

"Our favoured explanation is that giving children sweets and chocolate regularly may stop them learning how to wait to obtain something they want.
"Not being able to defer gratification may push them towards more impulsive behaviour, which is strongly associated with delinquency."

Isn't that contradictory? It isn't the sweets per's the replacing of love and guidance with sweets? So that's bad parenting then, isn't it? Exactly what anyone with sense already knows.

Maybe these scientists would do better looking into how many pints of alcohol these same kids are necking between the ages of 10 and 29/34.
Ooh, hark at me getting all political!

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Sale to report

On the very last day of the month comes a sale to Take A Break's Fiction Feast. They're buying a 2800 word Christmas story.

I don't write many seasonal stories as they normally only get one stab at a market per year if the editors are slow to read. This one I sent in August so a pretty good turnaround as it goes. If it's published in the December issue which hits the newsagents the month before, then I just might get my fee before Christmas. Here's hoping because my bank account could do with an injection of cash!

Norah McGrath (TAB editor if you don't know) also sent me a copy of their new contract to sign. I should say, new to me - apparently it came out around this time last year and I must've been missed off the list of contributors. First time I've had to sign anything for TAB, but Norah assures me:

'it has proved not at all controversial as people can still still sell on stories.'

I think I still have 2 other stories sitting in her slushpile so fingers crossed for them too, though even mentioning them has probably jinxed that possibility!

E mail AWOL

Ever sent an email to the wrong person?

A survey (there’s always a survey) of 4000 people revealed that a third had sent something of a personal nature to the wrong recipient. I read of a man who replied to an invite to a school reunion but his e-mail didn't only contain friendly chat or reminiscences, but a lewd photo of a partly unclothed young man.

Apparently, it was a new computer and this guy had been figuring out how to add attachments to an e-mail. As an experiment, he clicked on a random image from his desktop and tried to send it to himself (who hasn't tried that?) but the e-mail program he was using being the clever thing it was, automatically filled in an entire group from his contacts book. He didn't realize, of course, until after he hit the ‘send’ button. He apologised for his mistake in a follow-up email. How he explained away having lewd images of young men on his desktop I have no idea.

I've made similar mistakes - none involving semi-clothed young men, sadly. Like the time I joined ‘The Rather Nice Association’ and was invited onto their members forum to introduce myself and my work etc. Being used to the informality of my usual on-line writing group I jumped in with a ‘Hey, how’s it hanging, dudes’ type post. Actually, no I didn’t. I’d never say that and I’m not American for a start, but you get my drift.

Anyway, only one person came back with a ‘Welcome’ (thank you, you know who you are) but, unperturbed, I lurked a bit longer and tried again...and again. Just chatty posts about recent sales to a magazine and what I'd been up to that weekend. I got a cyber slap back for ‘using the forum for self promotion’. I think my grammar came under scrutiny, too.

Feeling a bit deflated I emailed my own lovely writing group and told them what a stuffy old lot The Rather Nice Association were, that I felt completely out of my depth and wouldn’t be going back there again. Harrumph!

Do I need to spell it out? That’s right. I sent it to The Rather Nice people by mistake. Oh the shame! The toe-curling embarrassment!
Thankfully, it seemed to break the ice. Caused a bit of a giggle and I was forgiven. And if any Rather Nice Association members are reading this – I came to realise I was being overly-sensitive and you are all very, very nice.

So, are there any sure-fire ways to avoid this dilemma? Well, there are programmes out there you can use and I believe there’s something in Outlook that gives a few seconds delay between you clicking the ‘send’ button and actually whizzing it off, but my experience is that you won’t realise your email has gone AWOL until you’re sitting there wondering why your friend didn’t reply to your important opinion on your b*****d excuse of a boss.

So, my tips are:
1. I know it’s a bore but if you get into the habit of always typing the full name it’ll lesson the chances of mistakes. Don’t just type just the first few letters and let your e-mail program fill out the rest because based on your contacts book, it could easily misroute your message without your realizing it.

2. When you grammar and spell check your email (you do do that, right?) also double-check the address of your intended recipient before you hit 'send'.

You’re only going to lose a few seconds out of your day and believe me it's worth it!

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Latest My Weekly Guidelines

These have been out a week or two now and I can't recall who emailed asking if I knew what they were, so in the hope that whoever it was reads my blog, I'm posting here.

Remember, you can only sub one story per month now and they're no longer returning unsuccessful stories, so if you haven't heard back after 6 mths, presume it's a 'No thanks.' The upside means if you send via snail mail, you don't need to include a sae. I'd imagine most of us send by email anyway.

Have to say, I don't particularly like this new system but then I'm not the one drowning under submissions, am I? Let's just hope if we get a 'yes' we ARE informed within that 6 mths or the story might've been sent elsewhere and that could involve a messy email to withdraw it from some other editor's pile.

Don't forget that anything you send now should be aimed at the January/February issues and they're specifically looking for:

1400-1600 words Twist in the Tail - Light hearted or very moving themes.
700 word Coffee Break - Again, light hearted or moving.
1200 or 2000 word Romance stories - Light hearted themes.
2500-3000 Long Reads - I'm guessing this can be any theme as they don't specify.

My Weekly Pocket Novels
I think I'm right in saying you can send in your ideas for these at any time. NOT the whole thing, mind. Send only a synopsis and the first three chapters in manuscript form or via email...I'd go with email seeing as the post here in the UK is a bit 'iffy' at the moment!
If the editor likes your proposal and wishes to proceed, she'll ask you to send in the full novel electronically - use Rich Text or Word document(I'd go for compatibility mode if you're using the latest version of Word to avoid sending them pages of gobbledy-gook!)

Word count: around 30,000 words, no more than 32,000. Love, passion, romance and adventure being the key words. Female viewpoint. Contemporary or historical, they can be set anywhere in the world.

'We look for stories with a strong, developing romance between two identifiable characters. Within the time it takes to read one of the novels, we would like the reader to share and experience the breathless/breath-taking excitement of a growing relationship.'

Word of warning: Before you embark on a pocket novel, you should know the fee isn't huge! It's approx £200 and there aren't any Royalties. Plus you can wait up to a year before you know whether or not they're going to publish, and that's AFTER you've submitted the whole thing. Okay, you could maybe condense it to suit other mags but it's a lot of work. When you consider what Take A Break will pay for a 1000 worder...well, don't know about you but I don't write for fun. Having said this, I'd still like to crack the market. Can't resist a challenge!

So if you're up for it, it's the usual address:
and mark it for the attention of Maggie Seed.

Good luck!

Important Update on The Lady Fiction

Thanks to writer Paula Williams for sending me this heads up:

In the editorial in this week's Lady, Rachel Johnson, the editor, says:

"It's all my fault and last week's announcement from our Literary Editor that funeral rites are being read over The Lady short story was somewhat premature. crossed wires, I'm afraid. The short story is a much loved feature of the magazine, as is fashion and you will be finding them within our pages over the next few weeks -we are just finding the right short story and the right fashion for you."

So keep sending out those shorts!