Heritage Travel Writing Competition

The next Senior Travel Expert writing competition is now open for entries.

The competition calls for original travel articles on the theme ‘Heritage’ up to 750 words in length. Historical, cultural and natural heritage are all included under this theme.

Unusually for an article writing competition, entertaining fictional entries are also allowed. Entry is free.

The author of the best entry will receive £100 cash. Ten runners-up will each receive £10 Amazon UK Vouchers. The winning entry and runner-up entries will be published on the Senior Travel Expert website. Closing date is October 31st.

When writing your entry don’t forget that the Senior Travel Expert website is aimed at travellers aged 55 and over. And, as always, make sure you read the full terms and conditions.

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Focus on Your Own Path and Goal

I recently walked the West Highland Way. This is a 96 mile path from Milngavie (a suburb of Glasgow) to Fort William, at the foot of Ben Nevis. The walk took seven days and on the eighth day we climbed Ben Nevis and walked in snow on a blazing hot day. All along the route the scenery was terrific: mountains, hills and lochs. We heard cuckoos and saw feral goats.Author Sally Jenkins at top of Ben Nevis

We chose to go in the middle of May, which is supposed to be the best time for both weather and minimum midges. We had sunshine and few insect bites but there was a lot of people. On the more open stretches of path they could be seen snaking in front of and behind us like a colourful bendy reptile. When the path was narrow and terrain difficult, there was a constant tapping of walking poles and a search for passing places to let those walking faster than us overtake. At first this unnerved me; I felt as though I was in a race and being overtaken by everyone else. I worried we were going to be last to finish the day’s walk and my competitive spirit kept trying to kick in and make us go faster. Eventually I relaxed and realised everyone has their own pace and there are merits to going slower and enjoying the views.

What has this got to do with writing?

Social media makes us all very aware of what other writers are doing. We know when they get an agent, when they sign the publishing deal and when the book hits the shelves. Or we know who’s on a winning streak in the womag short story world. Or competition winners are shouted from the roof tops. Celebration is good and, after the toil of writing, well deserved. But as a result we are constantly measuring ourselves against the success of others, just as I was measuring my walking speed and ability against the other boot clad walkers on the West Highland Way. This is not a good thing. Everyone’s path to success is different. We have different talents, different starting points and face different obstacles along the way.

Instead of comparing yourself to others, focus on your own route to your goal. You may find it beneficial to take a detour into article writing or to pause and clear your mind. Domestic issues might slow you down or a surge of ideas might push you forward. Take the journey at your own pace without comparing it to others (but do give them a little cheer when they succeed!) and you’ll enjoy it all the more.

And when you stand on that mountain top we’ll all be cheering you and your achievement – however long it might have taken to get there.

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eHarmony Romantic Novel Writing Competition

eHarmony and Trapeze Books have launched a competition to find a great love story and any type of romance is acceptable, for example gothic, speculative, dark etc.

First prize is a publishing contract with Trapeze worth £10,000 and mentoring from Trapeze author Anna Stuart. Shortlisted entries will receive books and a group mentoring session.

Judging the shortlist will be representatives from C&W Agency, Trapeze Books, eHarmony plus editor and journalist Sarah Shaffi.

Entrants should email the first 5,000 words of the novel plus synopsis and biography before the competition closing date of 30th July 2018. I couldn’t see anywhere that said the remainder of the novel had to be already complete – so that may be something the winner can work on after receiving the mentoring from Anna Stuart.

Even if you choose not to enter the competition. eHarmony provides some useful tips on writing a synopsis.

Don’t forget to read the full competition information before starting to craft your entry.

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Association of Speakers’ Clubs 2018 Speech Competition

At the end of April I was in York for the ASC’s 2018 Conference and National Competition Finals. 2018 ASC National Speech Competition

I’ve never attended before and was only there this year because, to my surprise and shock, I won my way through the Club, Area and District rounds of the speech competition. When I entered the Club competition last November, I didn’t anticipate that five months later I’d be representing the Midlands in competition against seven other contestants from all parts of the UK. My anxiety levels were sky high and further increased by having to use a clip-on microphone for the first time and face my biggest ever audience.

But what has this got to do with writing?
I needed a subject for my speech. It had to be something I could talk about enthusiastically, something most people would have an interest in and something I could structure logically into a speech.
So I ‘taught’ the audience how to write a romantic novel (how many people have you heard say – ‘I could/would like to write a novel?’).
I only had eight minutes to speak so it was a quick and dirty ‘lesson’ based on the following points:

  • Choosing a genre
  • Choosing a setting
  • Naming characters
  • Obstacle to the love affair
  • Event that brings the couple back together

To drive each point home I concocted a romantic ‘novel’ about Tony and Janet falling in love and having a date at the hotel where the conference was being held. I concluded by revealing the absolute peanuts that most authors get as financial reward and asked the audience the question, ‘Is it worth it?’

I didn’t win and wasn’t placed in the top three. I was up against some fantastic speakers. The winner was a sixteen-year-old girl who was extremely confident and gave an excellent performance, talking about the scourge of selfie-taking complete with props of a mobile phone and selfie stick. However, we all received a lovely paperweight as a souvenir of the occasion.

Later at the event, I was talking to a lady and she told me how members of her party had been having fun in the bar dreaming up their own spoof romance based on my speech. I was delighted to hear this – it meant people had listened to me and had absorbed and remembered what I’d said. And isn’t that what public speaking is all about?

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Royal Wedding Poems Wanted!

The Sunday Times are asking for poems to commemorate the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

There is no prize but the winning poem will be published in The Sunday Times the day after the wedding, on Sunday May 20th.

There’s also no length or style/format stipulation – so you poets can have fun creating whatever you like! But be quick, entries must be received by Tuesday May 15th.

Email poems to royalpoems@sunday-times.co.uk or send by snail mail to Royal Poems Competition, The Sunday Times, 1 London Bridge Street, London SE1 9GF.

I’ll be hoping to open the paper on May 20th and see a poem by a name I recognise. Good Luck!

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Everybody Works In Sales

When I was offered an ARC of Everybody Works in Sales by Niraj Kapur I immediately said, “Yes, please!” How to Sell
The reason? As writers, I feel we are each increasingly having to be our own salesman. We might be marketing our self-published books, pitching an article to an editor, writing an agent covering letter or polishing up our website. So, I hoped Everybody Works in Sales might reveal to me the secret formula of selling books, short stories and articles.

Of course it didn’t because deep down we all know there is no secret formula to sales. But the book did teach me what the mindset of a salesman should be – and it isn’t SELL! SELL! SELL!
The three main points I took away from Everybody Works in Sales were:

  • Don’t try to constantly sell ‘at’ people willy-nilly (e.g. frequent ‘buy my books’ tweeting). Instead take the time to build relationships – with magazine editors, book shops, social media followers etc.
  • Nothing succeeds like hard work.
  • Treat your customers/readers/editors/followers as you would like to be treated.

Two quotations from the book which are worth pondering:

  • Care for people and ask for nothing immediately in return.
  • You can always go further in a group than by yourself – maybe that’s why we writers like to collect together and share experiences?

But this book has more to offer than these simple lessons. There are many  inspirational quotations and advice on making progress in a corporate career. The book follows the career of its author, Niraj Kapur, the bad bits as well as the good bits. He’s had some tough times in his working life and his experiences might help you if you’re trying to climb the greasy pole in sales or management.

In places the book’s language is unpolished and reflects the way I imagine Niraj would speak. It is conversational rather than textbook and allows the author’s background and personality to come through. It’s as though Niraj is in the room with you.

Everybody Works in Sales is an easy read that shares inspirational thoughts for leading a better life in the workplace, building relationships with potential customers and networking.

Niraj Kapur

About Everybody Works in Sales
We all work in sales. If you work for somebody, you earn a living by selling their product or service. If you are self-employed, you earn a living by selling your product or service.
When you buy from Amazon, they always recommended other products similar to the ones you are purchasing or have already purchased – that’s selling. When you download a song, movie or TV show from iTunes, they always recommend more similar products. That’s selling.
When you register for most websites, they sell their products or services to you through a regular email.
When you attend an exhibition at the NEC, London ExCel, Olympia, Manchester or even a local market, everyone is trying to sell you their product.
We all work in sales, yet few people know how to sell. Until now.
Containing 27 valuable lessons, plus 17 interviews with experts, Everybody Works in Sales combines unique storytelling and personal development to ensure you have the tools you need to do better in your career.
Available on Kindle and in paperback from Amazon.

 

 

About Niraj Kapur

Award-winning executive, Niraj Kapur, has worked in corporate London for 23 years. From small businesses to a national newspaper to FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 companies, he’s experienced it all and shares his insight, knowledge, big wins and horrible failures.
Niraj has also had several screenplays optioned, sitcoms commissioned, kids’ shows on Channel 5’s Milkshake and CBBC. His movie, Naachle London, was released in select cinemas across the UK.
He’s working on his next book while advising companies and coaching individuals on how to improve their sales.
Follow Niraj on Twitter: @Nirajwriter or find him on LinkedIn: https://uk.linkedin.com/in/nkapur.

 

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2018 MNDA Short Story Competition

Motor Neurone disease is a terrible thing. It kills a third of sufferers within a year and more than half within two years of diagnosis. It can leave people locked in a failing body unable to move, talk, swallow and eventually breathe.

Claret Press is running a short story competition to raise money for the Motor Neurone Disease Association.

The competition is inspired by the work of Claret Press author Sarah Gray, who has Motor Neurone disease. Her short story collection Half Life deals with aspects of physical and mental illness in innovative and original ways. The judges will be looking for similarly engaging stories inspired by these issues in a maximum of 5,000 words. Stories can be written from any point of view and can be in any genre, for example thriller, romance, post-modern, horror, etc.

The entry fee is £6 (net proceeds to MNDA!) and there are prizes of £250, £150 and £50. Claret Press will publish all short-listed entries in a new collection.

Closing date is June 15th 2018. Don’t forget to read the full terms and conditions.

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