Archive for category Short Story

National Short Story Week 2015

It’s a mystery to me why National Short Story Week takes place in November when writers are hammering away at keyboards trying to complete 50,000 words of a novel. But it’s worth taking a break from your magnum opus and celebrating the art of the short story. A change is as good as a rest.

This year National Short Story Week is the 16th to 22nd November 2015.

National short story week was launched in 2010 by Ian Skillicorn of Corazon Books. It aims to:

  1. Get more people reading and listening to short stories
  2. Get more people writing short stories
  3. Develop creative and commercial opportunities for individuals and organisations involved in the short story form.

I was hoping to point you to lots of resources and activities related to National Short Story Week but there seems to be very little happening online. So here’s a couple of free to enter competitions to get the creative juices flowing:

Morgen Bailey runs a monthly 100-word story competition. There is a different theme each month and the prizes are access to up to three of her online courses.

Words Magazine has an open-themed short story competition closing on December 31st 2015. First prize is £50 and second prize is £25. Word limit is 2,000.

Finally, in celebration of National Short Story Week, my latest story collection, House Guests And Other Stories, is only 99p/99c until 22nd November 2015. House Guests and Other Stories

It’s a cornucopia of contemporary short stories about modern life. Enjoy a plethora of twist endings, some humour plus a tiny bit of romance.

Happy Short Story Week!

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Literary Short Story Markets

On Saturday I went to the annual Writers’ Toolkit run by Writing West Midlands.

One of the sessions was ‘The World of Short Stories’. On the panel were Louise Palfreyman and Lisa Blower.

Louise and Lisa both write what I would describe as ‘literary’ short stories and they gave a long list of journals worth targeting. Among them was Popshot Magazine, which I mentioned in my last post plus a range of others including:

Ambit
Granta
Lighthouse
The Best British Short Stories (annual anthology)
Unthology
The Paris Review
Under the Radar
Short Story Sunday
Thresholds
Comma Press

Lisa and Louise also mentioned the benefits of entering competitions and, when asked about the mechanics of short story writing, gave this wonderful quote from Raymond Carver, “Get in. Get out. Don’t Linger”.

My writing veers more towards the commercial than literary but a virtual friend of mine, Tracy Fells, blogs with a more literary leaning – worth a look!

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Popshot Magazine

Whilst browsing in WHSmith the other day I came across Popshot Magazine for the first time. It’s a well-presented, quality magazine containing poetry, short stories and illustrations. And best of all, anyone can submit work!

Popshot describes itself as “an illustrated literary magazine that publishes short stories, flash fiction, and poetry from the literary new blood”. On the website are examples of pieces that have previously been published.

Popshot is published twice a year in April and October. There are no specific writers’ guidelines on the website and the next submission period opens on the 1st December 2015. Potential contributors are asked to sign up to a mailing list in order to receive details about this next submission period.  Probably worth doing if the magazine appeals to you.

Popshot is also looking out for illustrators.

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Pens of Erdington Creative Writing Competition

Pens of Erdington, a writing group close to the area where I live, is running a creative writing competition. Entrants can send a poem and/or a short story to be in with a chance of scooping the £100 top prize.

The competition has an open theme and is split into two categories; adults and under-16s. It will be judged by Jan Watts who was Birmingham Poet Laureate 2011/12. The closing date is 5th November and winners will be invited to a prize presentation event.

Full details of the competition are on the Pens of Erdington website.

And talking of competitions, there’s still chance to get yourself in the draw to win a year’s subscription to Writers’ Forum magazine. It’s simple to enter and all the details are on my previous blog post – but don’t delay, the competition closes on 29th September 2015.

As with all competitions, you’ve got to be in it to win it!

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Kindle Direct Publishing Pre-Orders

When an author uploads a manuscript to Kindle Direct Publishing, he is given the choice between publishing immediately or making the book available for ‘pre-order’. Making a book available for pre-order means readers can order it up to 90 days in advance of the book’s release date. It will automatically be delivered to customers’ Kindles on the release date and they will be charged on this date.

Why use the pre-order facility?

  • All pre-order sales are counted in the launch date sales figures. This gives the book an immediate push up the Amazon rankings because instead of starting at zero sales, the book already has some sales ‘in the bank’.
  • Book promotion activities can start before launch date (& even before the book is completed, if you’re brave!), using a link to the Amazon product detail page.
  • The Amazon product detail page is ‘live’ before launch date, giving the opportunity to tweak the description, key words etc. prior to launch.

The pre-order facility wasn’t available last time I e-published and I’m experimenting with it this time around.

So, I’m pleased to announce that House Guests and Other Stories is available for pre-order. Order today and it will arrive on your Kindle on Tuesday September 22. You can be one of the first to get your hands on it. As you can see, people are already stopping in the street to gasp in awe at the front cover – such is the book’s popularity!

House Guests and Other Stories

House Guests and Other Stories is a collection of fifteen short stories, many with a twist and most have appeared in either The Weekly News, My Weekly or People’s Friend. There’s also a couple of competition successes in there plus a special guest story by a prize-winning author!

And that guest author is … Iain Pattison. Iain is a full-time author, creative writing tutor and competition judge. He also writes a very humorous blog. I’ve dropped Iain’s guest story right in the middle of my collection, like the delicious middle in a liqueur chocolate.

So, why not click ‘pre-order‘ and get ready to indulge!

To celebrate the launch of House Guests and Other Stories on September 22nd I will be announcing, on this blog, a competition to win a year’s subscription to Writers’ Forum magazine. So come back then, or use the box on the right to sign-up for email updates.

And I’m also interested to know how anyone else has got on with Amazon pre-orders?

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Two Competitions From Erewash Writers

Debbie from Erewash Writers has been in touch with information about their latest short story competitions:

The first one is FREE to enter. It has a theme of ‘Summer Loving’  and there is a maximum of 1,200 words in which to tell the story. The closing date is 27th August 2015 and the judge is Andrew Campbell-Kearsey, author of more than 100 published short stories. The winner will receive Andrew’s book ‘Centurionman‘, one free entry to the Erewash Open Short Story Competition 2016 plus online publication of the story on their website and Facebook page. Full competition details can be found here.

The second competition is the Erewash Open Short Story Competition, closing September 24th 2015. Entry fees are a reasonable £3 per entry or £2.50 if entering two or more stories. The competition has an open theme and 2,000 words limit.  The judge is Simon Whaley. There are two categories to this competition: New Writer and Open.
Prizes are: £100 First, £50 Second, £25 Third, £25 Fourth plus two ‘Highly Commended’ each win 2016 comp free entry.
Full competition details can be found here.

So, no reason not to pick up your pen and get busy this weekend!

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The Short Story Competition 2015

The Short Story Competition 2015 is now open for entries. The competition has been running annually since 2011 and ‘… showcases the best short stories from around the world.’

First prize is £300, second prize is £150 and third prize is £50. The winners will be published on the website and may be included in a future anthology. The competition has an open theme and the word limit is 1,000 to 5,000.

Entry fee is £5 via PayPal and the closing date is 15th September 2015 – so it could be a nice project to work on over the summer.

Don’t forget to check the full submission guidelines.

Good Luck!

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It’s the taking part that counts

‘It’s the taking part that counts’ is a phrase often bandied about to make people feel better if they don’t win or get placed in a competition. Mostly it just washes over us and we’re still fed up that we didn’t get a prize. Perhaps we even think about throwing in the towel and not bothering to enter any more competitions. Last week I had an experience that made me truly agree that it’s not the winning, it’s the taking part that counts.

My Speakers’ Club asked me to represent them in a Speech Evaluation Contest against two other clubs. This involves giving a four minute speech on the strengths and weaknesses of a ‘target’ speech which all three competitors have just watched. I was a bit reluctant since I’ve only been in the club eighteen months but decided to have a go anyway. My fear was that I wouldn’t be able to think of anything to say or I would dry up or I would speak in a muddled, incoherent way.

On the night, I discovered that one of my competitors runs a public speaking coaching business and the other had been education director of his club for fifteen years. This gave plenty of opportunity for making a fool of myself! Needless to say I came third (i.e. last!) in the competition BUT I was surprised to feel good in the face of defeat. There were lots of positives from the evening: I’d spoken to a larger audience than usual, I’d taken part in a speaking competition for the first time, I lasted the full four minutes, I’d been a ‘team player’ by agreeing to take part and my fellow Club members told me I hadn’t disgraced myself or let down the Club. I came away on a high!

So, what’s all this got to do with writing? It’s to urge you to enter writing competitions even if you think you don’t stand a chance of winning. You will learn and gain experience from each competition entry, it might be writing to a tight deadline, trying to write to a different word count than usual or experimenting with a new genre. Don’t worry about winning, concentrate on the challenge of producing the best work you can.

And to get you started, have a go at one (or more!) of these:

Erewash Writers’ Group New Writers’ Competition –   3,000 word short story. There is a £40 first prize and a FREE basic critique. Closes 26th March 2015.

Nuneaton Writers’ Circle Flash Fiction Competition – free entry. Prize is 1 year’s free membership of Nuneaton Writers’ Circle. Closes 27th March 2015.

Alfie Dog Review Competition –  download a story from Alfie Dog during March 2015 and write a  short review. First prize £100.

Enjoy the taking part!

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A Competition, A Novel Workshop & A Beta Reader Request

Three bits of (potentially) useful information for you:

  • Romantic comedy novelist, Alison May, is running a Developing Your Novel workshop in Birmingham city centre on 28th March. I’ve been on a similar event tutored by Alison and it was very helpful. It costs £44, including lunch and refreshments, and there’s a discount if you book before the end of January. So, if you live in the Midlands there’s no excuse for not getting your novel off the ground in 2015!
  • Modern literary magazine One Story has opened its annual reading period and, until 31st May 2015, is accepting submissions of high-quality literary fiction from outside contributors. They pay $500 and full submission details are here.
  • Anyone looking for a writing buddy/beta reader? I’ve been asked to publicise the following request:
    My name is Sharon, and I’m looking for a volunteer reader for my unpublished chick- lit/romance novel.
    I’m seeking someone who has the time to read it and give honest feedback.
    In return, I’ll read your unpublished novel and give feedback too. We’d correspond via email.
    Interested? Please email me: sbee.poetry ‘at’ gmail.com

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Black Pear Press Short Story Competition and KISHBOO

On Saturday I had lunch with the Birmingham Chapter of the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

It was a very positive affair with lots of people having good news to share such as excellent reports from the RNA’s New Writers’ Scheme, publishing deals and competition successes. As always I came away eager to get writing again.

One of our members, romantic comedy author Alison May has been asked to judge a short story competition for the first time and she gave us the details (unfortunately there’ll be no favouritism because it’s all judged anonymously).

The first Black Pear Press Short Story Competition is for stories up to 1500 words in any genre/theme.

First prize is £75 and second prize is two Black Pear Press publications. Entries may be published on the Black Pear Press website and may be included in an anthology.

Closing date is 26th September 2014 and entry is via email. Entry fee is £5.

Full details are here.

Another ‘first’ short story competition that you might like to consider is that currently underway at KISHBOO. This will become a regular quarterly competition with a first prize of £50 and a second prize of £25. The entry fee is £3 and the first competition closes on October 20th 2014. Again any genre/theme is acceptable and the maximum word count is 2,000. The full terms and conditions are here.

Good Luck!

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