Posts Tagged Hit or Miss? 33 Coffee Break Stories
Posted by Sally Jenkins in Competitions, Poetry, Writing for Children on November 15, 2022
Back to normal now all the excitement of the book contract is over. I have two competitions for you:
Wolverhampton Literature Festival Poetry Competition 2023
“Send us poems on whatever subject you like. Surprise us, enthrall us, astound us, but make sure you send your entries in before December 31st 2022!”
Entry fee is £4 and first prize is £400 plus there is a special, extra, prize available for those living in the WV postcode area.
Full entry details are on the Pandemonialists’ website.
Skylark Soaring Stories Competition
This one is for children’s writers and is run by the Skylark Literary Agency.
The competition is for new stories aimed at either middle-grade (8-12-years) or YA readers (ages 13+) by un-agented and unpublished writers. The judges are from Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster and Harper Collins.
First prize will be a one-hour one-to-one editorial critique of your finished manuscript. There are second- and third-place prizes of a half-hour one-to-one on your submitted chapters and synopsis.
Entrants must submit a one-page synopsis and the first three chapters or 4,000 words of a novel (whichever is shorter) by 24th December 2022. See the Skylark website for further details.
Hit or Miss?
If short stories for adults are more your thing, you might fancy dipping into my new coffee break story collection: Hit or Miss? 33 Coffee Break Stories. Can you spot which stories were successful in securing magazine publication or competition success and which failed to land on the right desk at the right time?
A Book Contract!
Posted by Sally Jenkins in Successes on November 8, 2022
Regular readers of this blog will know that I’ve had an up and down journey over the past few years in my quest to see my commercial women’s fiction novels published. You can read about some of it here and here.
Now, finally, some good news: I have signed a 3-book contract with Ruby Fiction and the first book (provisionally titled The Museum of Hope, but that might change) will be out sometime next year. Ruby Fiction is the sister imprint of Choc Lit, which publishes stories with romance at the heart. Ruby Fiction publishes women’s fiction such as thrillers, saga, mystery, chick lit, historical, fantasy, etc.
Ruby Fiction and Choc Lit are different from most publishers because all submitted manuscripts are reviewed, in the first instance, by their Tasting Panel who are genuine readers. I was overjoyed when I was told that The Museum of Hope had done well with the panel and the readers felt it was a unique story.
I have been made very welcome by my fellow Ruby & Choc Lit authors within their private Facebook Group and am now looking forward to working with Ruby’s editors and sharing the finished books with you!
And a reminder: if you’re looking for Christmas stocking fillers or secret-santa presents, my latest short story collection, Hit or Miss, is now available in paperback, on Kindle and on Kobo.
Challenge yourself! Which of these short stories were competition or magazine hits and which failed to land on the right editor’s desk at the right time?
Short Story Writing Tips & a Launch!
Posted by Sally Jenkins in Promotion, Self-publishing, Short Story, Successes on October 28, 2022
I’ve been busy with the feather duster in my Dropbox repository and have rediscovered several of my favourite short stories that missed their target. These are the stories which didn’t land on the right editor’s desk at the right time or failed to catch the imagination of a competition judge.
This exercise made me think about two things: What are the best tips or rules for short story writing? And how can I best utilize these short story ‘misses’ in this age of recycling and ‘waste not want not’?
Here are the five top short story writing tips I came up with:
1. Have only a few characters. Any more than three or four makes it difficult for the reader to get to know them in a short space of time. Make sure all their names begin with a different letter – this makes it easier for the reader to differentiate between them. Don’t give names to ‘walk-on’ characters such as the postman or policeman – this will only add to any confusion in the reader’s mind.
2. Be clear whose story it is i.e., from which character’s point of view are you telling the story. That person should have the most to gain/lose from the action. Ensure the reader becomes emotionally invested in that person.
3. Have the action take place in a short timescale. Focusing on a single moment in time works best because the story is ‘immediate’. Avoid a long buildup of backstory. If back story is essential, drop it concisely alongside the action.
4. Conflict should be at the centre of the story. The main character should be facing a dilemma or decision of some kind. This character should solve the dilemma himself rather than have it sorted out by someone else, coincidence or fate.
5. Edit! Give the story more impact by removing words like ‘very’ and ‘just’. Replace adverbs with more specific verbs, for example ‘run fast’ becomes ‘sprint’. Combine characters, for example does the heroine need two friends or will one work just as well and make the story neater?
And what’s happening to those short story ‘misses’? They are now getting their fifteen minutes of fame in Hit or Miss? 33 Coffee Break Stories. I’ve mixed the stories up with others that DID land on the right editor’s or judge’s desk at the right time, and I challenge YOU to decide which were hits and which missed their target.
Hit or Miss? 33 Coffee Break Stories is now available on Kindle, in paperback from Amazon and on Kobo.
It would be lovely to get the comments started on the book’s Amazon/Kobo Review pages to indicate whether or not you agreed with those editors and judges.