Posts Tagged Patsy Collins

Words Magazine Short Story Competition

The results of the Words Magazine 2017 ‘Murder’ short story competition were published a few days ago. There were 139 entries and I was delighted to make the shortlist. Other writers I recognised on the list were Patsy Collins and Julia Thorley. Many congratulations to John Silver and Sharon Boothroyd for rising above us and taking first and second place respectively.

Words Magazine runs two competitions a year and the next one is now open for (free!) entry. The theme is ‘Christmas’ and the closing date is 30th June 2018. The winter weather is still fresh in our memories – so it shouldn’t be too difficult to get in a Christmas frame of mind! There is a limit of 2,000 words. First prize is £50 and second prize is £25.

The aim of Words Magazine is to raise money for the RNLI. An annual e-subscription costs only £6. Or buy the current edition on Kindle. Worth considering if you enjoy short stories!

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Nottingham Writers’ Club National Short Story Competition 2016

Nottingham Writers’ Club have just launched their 2016 National Short Story Competition.

The theme is ‘Fire’ and to get you started the Club has brainstormed a few ideas. Do any of the following inspire you to get writing?

Bonfire, house fire, barbeque, candle flames, fireworks, firing a gun, canon fire, lightning, brush fire, wood burning stove, coal fire, garden fire, firing someone from work, rockets, St Elmo’s fire, execution by firing squad, burning crop fields, smoke signals, brazier, fire pit, roasting chestnuts on an open fire, volcanic eruption, gas explosion, dynamite, cowboy shoot out, food smoker, sauna, assassination …

I’m sure there’s loads more ‘Fire’ related things to be written about. Grab a pen and paper and have a think.

The important thing to remember about this competition is that its purpose is to encourage new and less experienced writers. So entrants must not have earned £300 or more from short story writing in 2015. If you fit that category then this is a competition worth entering because you won’t have to compete with the ‘professionals’.

There will be three main prizes – £200, £100 and £50 – plus five runners up prizes and all entrants will receive a few lines of feedback on their story. The entry fee is £5 and there is a limit of 2,000 words.

Novelist and short story writer, Patsy Collins will be judging the competition. Coincidentally, her latest book, Firestarter, involves a hunky fireman… Firestarter by Patsy Collins

The competition opens for submissions of entries on 1st February 2016, with the last day for receipt being 29th February 2016. (But don’t wait until February to start thinking about your story!)


If writing non-fiction is more up your street, you may find Alex Gazzola’s new e-book, 50 Mistakes Beginner Writers Make, useful. Alex, a writing tutor and journalist, takes you through 50 of the key errors new and aspiring writers may be making – and guides you towards putting them right. Worth a read if you want to write and sell magazine or newspaper articles. Mistakes Writers Make

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Escape to the Country by Patsy Collins

Patsy Collins’ debut novel, Escape to the Country, Escape to the Country by Patsy Collinswill be published on 30th March 2012 and I am honoured to have Patsy visiting my blog today. I asked her a question I’m desperate to know the answer to. This is what she had to say:

Sally, thanks for inviting me onto your blog to answer your question – How did you make the transition from short stories to novels i.e. getting used to the increased depth needed for a novel.
Short answer – accidentally and gradually. I suppose you’re looking for increased depth in my answer and won’t let me get away with that?
Thought so.
When I was about thirteen, my best friend and I started writing a book together. We didn’t get very far and I suspect it probably wasn’t much good. (Alarmingly she claims to still have it.) Trouble is, it takes time and effort to write a book and most of our efforts were directed in other directions (some of those directions played rugby for the sixth form team)
I didn’t start writing again until about ten years ago, but once I got started I soon took it seriously. Probably I daydreamed about getting a novel published, but for quite a while it never occurred to me to start writing one. I worked on short stories for women’s magazines and did quite well with them. Don’t suppose I’ll stop writing them.
Then there was Mavis. I planned to write a short story in which she killed herself – I can’t now think why that seemed a good idea. Mavis didn’t want to die. I kept trying to kill her (once I get an idea, even a bad one, it takes me a while to let it go) This took up words. Eventually I realised I was no longer writing a short story and decided to turn it into a novel. It took a long time as I had no plan, no idea where it was going or how to get there. There’s 103,000 words of it now. I like it, but I’ve not yet found a publisher who shares my enthusiasm.
After I finished it, I found that although I still enjoyed writing short stories I missed having a big project to work on and decided to write another novel. I’d learned a lot from my first attempt and chose a subject and style much more like that of my short stories. I reasoned that if people liked the short ones, they might also like a longer one. The second novel was planned out (very roughly) and because I knew where I was headed it was much easier to get there. I haven’t yet sold that one either, but I reckon I might. Finally I got to Escape to the Country.
I haven’t answered the question have I? You’ll notice I’ve written a lot of words though. That’s how I build up a novel. There’s an answer or an end in sight, but I don’t go straight there. Events get in the way, characters turn up and complicate things, I fill in details that relate to or lead up to the answer, but which aren’t actually the answer.
So to go back to my first answer (the only one you get as it turns out) I made the move from short stories to novels accidentally and I add the depth gradually.
Thanks for the wise words, Patsy. It sounds like there’s no secret formula and no substitute for hard work – so I better stop blogging and start writing!
Escape to the Country can be purchased for Kindle here and the print edition is available here.



Out of My Depth!

I’ve mentioned before my intention to enter the Good Housekeeping Novel Writing Competition and I’ve been beavering away at my entry since January. I wrote 20,000 words and then paused to take stock and prepare my entry which had to consist of the first 5,000 words plus a full synopsis. The synopsis was a challenge because until then I’d been writing without a detailed plan but after some thought I managed it.

Then I decided to send the 5,000 words and synopsis to novelist Patricia McAughey (who writes as Patricia Fawcett) for a critique. Patricia reads for the RNA New Writers’ Scheme and also runs a reasonably priced private critique service for all types of fiction except fantasy, sci-fi or children’s. She can be contacted through her website for a quote.

Patricia sent me a detailed report which very tactfully told me that my story didn’t work because I was still in ‘short story’ mode. She said, “Slow down. You are rushing things. I know it is tempting to try to get all the ideas down but you are writing a longer piece and there is no rush. Relax.”

She went on to explain that I was giving the reader no idea about the setting. One of the scenes was in a Derbyshire cafe but I didn’t describe the interior, the waitress, the view or even indicate whether the place was full or empty. Patricia suggested painting a broad picture of the scene and then honing in on small details such as a woman trying to get a pushchair through the gap in the chairs.

There was a similar problem with my characters. Patricia said, “… I don’t have any great affection as yet for either of the two central characters simply because I don’t know enough about them…”. I had omitted rather obvious details like what the heroine did for a living or what she looked like!

It wasn’t all doom and gloom. I did get words of praise for my dialogue (which I love writing) and my synopsis.

So if you’re trying to move from short stories to longer fiction, take a moment to check that you’ve added depth to your writing. Make sure you haven’t skimmed over the setting or the characters’ backgrounds. Have you described what it smells like in the kitchen? Have you mentioned what your hero is wearing as he meets the heroine for the first time?

Later this week Patsy Collins, a successful short story writer and debut novelist, will be guesting on this blog and attempting to explain how she made the leap from short stories to seeing her first novel published.

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Novelicious Undiscovered 2012

Thanks to Carol Bevitt for posting about this competition on her blog and thus bringing it to my attention. Novelicious Undiscovered 2012

Are YOU Britain’s next chick lit STAR? says the blurb for this contest, which is being run by Novelicious along with Avon (HarperCollins) and Books and the City (Simon & Schuster UK).

It’s free to enter (so nothing to lose) and you only need to submit 3,000 words (and thankfully they don’t demand a pesky synopsis either). Closing date is 3rd April 2012.

There will be two winners:

The People’s Choice Award Winner – the top twenty entries as judged by the Novelicious team will be put to a public vote in June. The entrant with the most votes will win a full manuscript critique with Avon Commissioning Editor Caroline Hogg over tea and cake in their London offices. This will be your chance to get feedback on your novel and ask any questions you have about publishing. Plus the winner gets a host of other goodies (listed on the competition website here).

The Books and The City Choice Award Winner – will be chosen from the top twenty entries by the Fiction Editorial department at Simon & Schuster UK. Their choice will win a full manuscript feedback from the editorial team at Simon & Schuster plus author mentoring and meeting with Sunday Times Bestselling author of RSVP Helen Warner, along with a couple of other things listed here.

I do have one reservation about this competition and that is the public vote for The People’s Choice Award Winner. From my own, and other people’s, experience I know that these votes can turn into a popularity contest rather than an objective judgement on the writing. The person with the most friends on Facebook or access to a large email address list tends to do better because they can encourage all their contacts to vote for them. But maybe this downside is compensated for by the other winner being chosen by Simon and Schuster. And the prizes are attractive.

Before you decide whether to enter have a look at the competition website where there is an opportunity to ask questions about exactly what is required & learn from what others have asked. Also have a look at Carol’s blog post where she emphasises the importance of one of the rules which states that your work must not have been previously published – including on a blog.

Finally, to show that real people do win competitions like this, have a look at Patsy Collins’ reaction to winning a novel writing competition – and getting her book published as the prize! Well done, Patsy!

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