Posts Tagged Iain Pattison

An Easter Special Offer

The long Easter weekend is coming!

What’s the best way to relax? Indulge in an Easter egg and an easy read.House Guests and Other Stories

For sharing and hiding, I recommend this cornucopia of multi-coloured, foil-wrapped eggs  or this warren of Lindt bunnies. For selfish, serious chocolate eating, go for this Thornton’s Continental Egg.
For reading material it has to be the short story collection, House Guests, full of contemporary short stories about modern life. Enjoy a plethora of twist endings, some humour plus a tiny bit of romance. And a guest story by Iain Pattison.

Best of all – House Guests is half-price until Monday 18th April 2017 – Happy Easter!

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Catching Up

Over the past couple of months I’ve mentioned a few of my writing-related activities and I thought it was time to give an update.

At the beginning of April, I announced that I was going to use April as a ‘private’ NaNoWriMo and try to write a rough first draft of my next novel.  This actually took longer than planned. Partway through I realised that one of my minor characters had much more potential than one of my main protagonists. So I had to re-work much of what I’d done. I killed off the boring main protagonist (when he was only a baby!) and brought the minor character to the fore. I now have 58,000 words and a LOT of work to do.

At the beginning of June, I wrote that I’d uploaded Bedsit Three to Smashwords in order to get it into the Overdrive store, from which many public libraries purchase e-books. Once I could see it available in Overdrive, I went to my local library to ask for the contact details of Birmingham’s e-book buyer so that I could make myself known as a local author. Unfortunately, I was told that there was no budget at all for new books – not even e-books. On the plus side, they were receptive to the idea of an author event and (fingers crossed) will be contacting me in September when all the school holiday activities are over.

A couple of weeks ago, I launched a price promotion on Kindle for Bedsit Three. I reduced it from £2.25 to 99p for 2 weeks. I calculated that I needed to sell 4.5 times as many books at 99p as at £2.25 to make it a viable long-term price point. That number of sales hasn’t materialised so, barring a sudden surge today (30th June 2016) the price will rise again tomorrow.

And finally, I was pleased to receive a gift from Iain Pattison this week – a paperback copy of That’s Why The Lady is a Vamp. It’s a collection of off-beat comedy tales, full of unexpected twists and lots of humour. Plus, the high spot is a guest appearance by yours truly! If you’d like a free e-copy of one of Iain’s books pop along to his website now.

So that’s me. Anyone else got any news?

That's Why The Lady Is A Vamp

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Win a Year’s Subscription to Writers’ Forum Magazine

Today is launch day for House Guests and Other StoriesHouse Guests and Other Stories

This is a collection of fifteen short stories, many with a twist, some to make you smile and all of them guaranteed to entertain – and there’s an excellent ‘guest’ story by Iain Pattison.

If you pre-ordered the e-book, a copy should be whizzing its way to your Kindle at this very minute (assuming that you’re not in airplane mode). If you inadvertently forgot to pre-order, don’t panic! Amazon still have a few copies left and one can be yours if you click here – but don’t delay, House Guests is on course to become the first e-book ever to sell out on Amazon!

So, now you’ve the bought the book, we can talk about the competition to win a year’s subscription to Writers’ Forum magazine. I got very excited when I dreamed up this competition. I was going to make you all work hard by writing an honest review (good or bad) for House Guests or any of my other books and then drop you in a prize draw. HOWEVER, I then came across this blog post by Molly Greene. It talks about Amazon reviews and, amongst other things, states that Amazon, “do not permit reviews that are posted in exchange for compensation of any kind, including payment (whether in the form of money or gift certificates), bonus content, entry to a contest or sweepstakes, discounts on future purchases, extra product, or other gifts”. The competition I wanted to run would have given entry into a sweepstake in exchange for a review.

So, instead, I am giving you an easy life. Contenders for the Writers’ Forum subscription must subscribe to this blog (there’s a ‘Sign Me Up’ box towards the top right of the screen) AND must also sign up for my newsletter by clicking here. After signing up, look out for confirmation emails (check your spam) that you must click in order to activate the subscriptions.
The newsletter is a ‘work in progress’ and will be a very infrequent affair. All the e-marketing gurus advocate a mailing list, in case other forms of social media disappear as the next ‘big thing’ rolls in. If that happens I would hate to lose contact with you all.

You can earn an extra entry into the draw by sharing this post on either Twitter, Facebook or your own blog. If you do this, please let me know by adding a comment to this blog post, just in case I miss it.

The closing date for the competition is midnight on Tuesday 29th September 2015 (UK time).

Writers’ Forum is a UK monthly writing magazine. It’s full of advice on how to write, what to write and where to sell it. Every issue is packed with information and inspiration. An annual subscription is worth between £38 and £56 depending on where in the world you live. This prize subscription can be sent anywhere in the world.

Now put the kettle on, grab a biscuit and relax with House Guests and Other Stories.

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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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A New Look For My Website!

I’ve been blogging for almost five years and have never given myself a makeover – until now!

I’ve made three changes:

  • A brand new ‘theme’ (i.e. the overall ‘look’)
  • The initial website ‘landing page’ is now the ‘About Me’ page, so that anyone searching for me on the internet (unlikely, but you never know – it might happen!) will immediately see ME rather than a spurious blog post about a writing competition or someone else’s book
  • A new domain name. An acquaintance told me that they never visit websites with ‘wordpress’ in the URL because it flags up ‘amateurism’. I don’t want to give an amateur impression so I’ve paid for the domain http://www.sally-jenkins.com (hyphenated because sallyjenkins.com wasn’t available).

So, I hope you like the new professional look!

In other news:

If you are planning on entering either the Flash 500 competition or the Writers’ Bureau Short Story competition then you might like to take a look at this blog post by Iain Pattison. He is judging both these competitions and talks about his likes and dislikes in short story competition entries.

Kobo are offering e-books for half-price until Monday August 31st. If you have a Kobo e-reader or fancy downloading the Kobo App, simply key in the code SALE50 (can be used as many times as you like over the weekend) when you download a book. This is a chance to buy Old Friends – 13 Coffee Break Stories for 75p – less than half the Amazon price!

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Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook Short Story Competition 2014

This week I’ve been thinking about my entry for the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook Short Story CompetitionWriting Competitions - the way to win

As I’m sure most of you know, the first prize is £500 and an Arvon writing course. So it’s a prize worth winning and it’s also free entry – which makes it doubly good! But the closing date is 15th February 2014 – so it’s time to start getting my entry together.

In preparation I’ve been flicking through my copy of ‘Writing Competitions the Way to Win’ by Iain Pattison and Alison Chisholm.

Iain judges a lot of competitions. In the book he gives the following reason for why a lot of stories fail in competitions:

The stories were obviously written for a women’s magazine and failed to find a home. Therefore they often have a domestic setting, a female protagonist, a twist ending and the plot is a variation on a theme. The stories lack an individual voice.

As a judge, Iain wants to be taken somewhere he’s never been before. He doesn’t want to read about office life and how the junior is plotting revenge on the boss who passed her over for promotion.

So, it seems there’s no point in me going through my rejected womag stories to find one that might fit a theme of ‘The Visit’.

Incidentally, Iain suggests that this may be why men might seem to do better in writing competitions. Fewer of them write for women’s magazines and therefore they compose a fresh story for a competition without the restrictions of womag writing.

What does anyone else think? Have you ever won/been shortlisted in a competition with a story originally written for a womag?

And talking of competitions, Nick Daws is running a Guest Post Competition over on his blog. First prize is $50 (or the equivalent in UK pounds). The post must be on a topic of interest to writers and be 500 – 1000 words long. Closing date is 31st January 2014 and entry is free. He ran a similar competition last year and then I was lucky enough to be the winner – this time it could be you!

Finally, the first anniversary of the publication of One Day for Me is almost upon us and next week I will be announcing a special offer …

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Short Story Competition Advice by Iain Pattison

Iain Pattison is a successful short story writer, frequent competition judge and a writing tutor.Iain Pattison

He has kindly agreed to share some of his wisdom with us today. He is pleading for more humour and less heartbreak in your competition entries:

You know, sometimes I think judging short story competitions should come with a health warning. Not that it’s dangerous – well, not if you can run fast enough from those who haven’t won – but more because of the awful things it can do to your state of mind.

It’s always the same. Each time a big envelope of entries drops through my letter box I grin insanely knowing I’m in for a reading feast. But then, moments later, I remember that  95% of them will be stories of angst, despair, betrayal, abuse, regret, anger and disappointment and I gulp and wonder if my poor ragged nerves will stand the trauma.

It’s not that I’m a delicate flower or have a soulful, artistic disposition (I make Frankie Boyle look like Pollyanna on a particularly upbeat day), it’s just that no one can take hour after hour, page after page, tale after tale of gloom, doom, depravity and darkness without it leaving them so down in the dumps it would take a JCB to effect a rescue.

In some larger comps the pile of entries stand four feet high – that’s a tower of tears, a soaring spire of sorrow, a mountain with pique at the top! And the only thing that gets me through the relentless emotional pounding is the rare treasured tale that provides a chuckle.

For a few precious smile-filled minutes I escape the plight of characters being diagnosed with cancer, discovering their spouses are having affairs, fretting over putting elderly relatives into care homes or dealing with their drug/alcohol/Facebook addictions , and just have a good laugh.  Bliss. Sheer bliss.

So it won’t come as a surprise that I always urge writers to go for humour if they want to stand out in comps. Funny stories don’t have to be trite, lacking in compassion or silly. They can make the same telling points about how people behave, about the madness of modern life, and reveal real truths about the human condition – but do it with a few welcome giggles along the way.

Nor do they need to gag-packed or slapstick. Some of the funniest stories I’ve ever judged have been deadpan all the way through until springing an unexpected and ironic twist.

Is That A Pun In Your PocketOther adjudicators feel the same – we all call for comedy. And if you take a look at my eBook Is That A Pun In Your Pocket? 21 Short Stories To Tickle Your Fancy you’ll see that many of my satirical tales did indeed catch the eye of jaded judges.

So please – more funnies. It’ll boost your chances, make judges love you, and mean that The Samaritans can lift the bar they’ve put on my overwrought phone calls!

Many thanks to Iain for his advice! And if you want to see how Iain injects humour into his own stories do take  a look at  Is That A Pun In Your Pocket? 21 Short Stories To Tickle Your Fancy. I particularly liked Iain’s modernised version of A Christmas Carol and his take on Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.

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Iain Pattison

Whatever type of writing you do, there’s a lot to be learned from reading the output of those ‘further up the ladder’ and findingIain Pattison out about their working methods.

Iain Pattison is a prolific short story writer and has been widely published in magazines and anthologies. Twist endings are one of his specialities. He is also the author of Cracking the Short Story Market which covers all aspects of short story writing.

So it is fair to assume that Iain’s work and advice is worth reading if you are writing short fiction. Iain is currently one of the featured writers at The Word Hut. There’s an interesting interview with him here in which he reveals his background, views on the growing ease of self-publishing plus a bit of sensible advice for budding writers. The site is also showcasing one of his winning stories An Ugly Way To Go – have a read, it will make you smile.

If Iain’s writing and advice inspire you to pick up a pen or put fingers to keyboard, then The Word Hut are running a short story competition for stories up to 1000 words, closing date 13th May 2012.

Or you might like to try writing a piece of flash fiction including the words knit, blunder, perform and tingle. Helen Yendall is running this competition on her blog and full details can be found here. The prize is a copy of Linda Lewis’ brand new book  ‘The Writer’s Treasury of Ideas’  and the closing date is 9th May 2012.

Good Luck and, in the wise words of Iain Pattison, “Keep churning out work. Be a word factory. Soon as you’ve finished one story, start another.”

P.S. Iain is judging the Writers’ Bureau Short Story Competition this year (first prize £500 and closing date 30th June 2012).

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Writing Competitions – the way to win

In my quest for success I’ve started reading ‘Writing Competitions – the way to win’ by Iain Pattison and AlisonWriting Competitions - the way to win Chisholm. It covers short story, poetry and article writing contests. 

Chapter 2 deals with targeting the right sort of competitions to increase your chances of success. Iain and Alison advise a few ways of doing this:

  •  Forget the big internationals and concentrate on small competitions that will attract fewer entrants. Not many of us are likely to get anywhere in something like the Bridport but we might stand a chance of being placed in a local writing competition. I would much rather win a book token in a small competition than see my entry  disappear into the black hole of well-publicised literary contest.    
  • Choose a competition with a difficult theme – this will put many entrants off because it’s too much of a challenge and a previously written story can’t be recycled to fit the subject. Competitions with an open theme attract the most entrants.
  • Try competitions where entry is limited by the rules – for example competitions restricted to unpublished writers or to writers of a certain age or to those living in a specified area

Iain and Alison also advise targeting contests where the entry fee is high compared to the prize fund. This is because we are all naturally mean and therefore the number of entrants will be low. I’m afraid my own natural meanness won’t let me endorse this advice but I can see that there is logic in this method of choosing where to send your work. So if you’re not as tight with money as me, you might want to try it.

And speaking of relatively small competitions (& I don’t mean that in a derogatory way), Bev Morley is running a short story competition on the theme of ‘Christmas’ via her blog. First, second and third prizes are £50, £25 and £10 respectively plus publication in a Kindle anthology, up to 12 further stories will also be included in the anthology. The word limit is 3,000 and closing date 30th September. Entry by email only and the fee is £3. Full details are here.

‘Writing Competitions – the way to win’ is worth a read if you want to increase your chances of success in competitions.

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