Posts Tagged Writers Forum

The Winner of the Writers’ Forum Subscription Is …

Many thanks to all of you who took the time to enter my competition by signing up to my newsletter and blog and to those who also gave me a mention on Facebook or Twitter and bagged themselves an extra place in the draw. It was much appreciated!Writers' Forum Prize Draw

But unfortunately there can only be one winner of the annual subscription to Writers’ Forum magazine. My husband drew the winner’s name from a small plastic bowl full of bits of paper (pictured!). That person is:

Maria Smith

Maria enjoys writing short stories, flash fiction, and is currently rewriting her supernatural crime novel. Wading through treacle is how she would explain the process!  She enjoys networking with other writers and is an active member of Phoenix Writers in Leicester.

Maria blogs over at The First Draft Cafe and tweets as @mariaAsmith

I hope you enjoy the magazine, Maria, and also make use of the subscribers’ free entry to the monthly ‘flash’ competition.  A good way of practising writing to a deadline!

If anyone missed the competition but would still like to signup for the newsletter, click here. And if you’ve forgotten to treat yourself to a copy of House Guests, you can do that here.

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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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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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Write to Win! With Sue Moorcroft

The other week I attended Write to Win! at Mackworth library in Derby.

Mackworth signpost on Ashbourne Road (A52), Ma...

It was a workshop on winning short story competitions with the Writers’ Forum head judge, Sue Moorcroft. There were 12 of us (a sell-out apparently) around the table waiting to hear Sue’s pearls of wisdom and she didn’t disappoint.

I’ve tried to condense the whole day into the few bullet points listed below. Some of it you may have heard before but the fact that judges, like Sue, keep giving the same advice means that most of us aren’t following it – so take heed!

  • Have a great title and first sentence
  • Avoid putting flashback on the first page. The first page is an ‘access corridor’ to the rest of the story and flashback hampers this. If it must be there, put it in dialogue form to keep the story moving forward
  • Bring in the conflict on the first page
  • Begin at a point of change
  • Do not start by setting the scene unless the setting is pivotal to the story
  • Just include the essence of a setting and use senses other than sight
  • Find your character first because plot springs from character
  • Have as few characters as possible
  • Always name your character – even if you are using first person viewpoint
  • Do not ‘head hop’ – stay within the view-point character. This (and the point above) is a pet hate of Sue’s, so take note if you plan to enter a Writers’ Forum competition
  • Don’t rush the ending but neither should the story carry on after the end
  • Emotion is the writer’s friend and fundamental to a good story. What do you want your reader to feel?

Sue also cleared up a misconception I’d had about the Writers’ Forum competition. The guide word count for these competitions is wide (1,000 to 3,000 words) and I’d thought that the top three stories had to fit a certain space in the magazine. Therefore, if a 3,000 word story had won, Sue would have to choose shorter stories for the other places.

This is not the case!

The magazine is put together around Sue’s choice of stories, so stories of all lengths have an equal chance each month.

So there you have it – no excuse for not winning now!

Details of other courses run by Sue can be found on her blog.


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Getting to Grips with E-Publishing 3

After all the wonderful advice I got on my previous post about cover design, I thought I’d got thingsA Writer On Writing under control in that department. But my attempt at a cover for my third book was so abysmal that I daren’t even show it to you here. Compared with similar books already on Amazon it looked very basic and most definitely amateurish.

I think this is because the book is non-fiction and therefore requires a very business-like cover to get anywhere near competing with the hundreds of other books on the same subject.

So I decided to call in the professionals. I used the website Fiverr. This site features hundreds (or maybe thousands even) of sellers offering their services for just $5. The range of services is vast from personalised greetings cards, translations and bespoke bedtime stories. But there are also lots of e-book cover designers on there too.

I picked one of the top-rated designers (like on EBay, buyers have to leave feedback on the service they received) and told her the title of the book, what it was about and a brief suggestion about the type of image that might be suitable (it is also possible to send the designer a specific photo if you have one that you want to include on the cover).

Two days later my cover design was delivered and you can see it on this post. It’s much better than I could produce. I’ve borrowed the title from a ‘column’ on the Open Writing  website which runs an extract from this blog each week (the site includes lots of other writing from around the world, too).

A Writer on Writing is a compilation of 14 of my articles that have appeared in the UK writing press, such as Writing Magazine & Writers News, The New Writer, Writers’ Forum and Freelance Market News. They cover subjects as diverse as generating ideas, writing articles with an anniversary ‘hook’ and flash fiction.

As I did with my other books, I have set an introductory price of 77p – with a view to increasing it when I see how sales go. Setting the perfect price point to encourage buyers without devaluing the work involved in producing a book is very difficult. 77p is the lowest price point available to independent authors.

Click here to see the book on Amazon UK and here to see the book on Amazon COM. It’s also available on all other Amazon sites by searching for ASIN: B00C0GBRS6 or by title and author.

I’ll keep you posted on how my e-publishing empire is growing (or not as the case may be!).

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Publishing an E-Anthology – Is It Worth It?

This question appears in Della Galton’s column in the current Writers’ Forum magazine. I thought I’d try to answer it using my own experience, with two anthologies published over the last six weeks or so.

I published One Day For Me on 23rd January and, as of 6th March, I have sold 63 copies, 3 on and the rest in the UK. Of the UK sales, 58 were at 77p each (giving me a 26p royalty each) and 2 were at £1.53 (giving me £1.03 royalty each). This has given me total UK royalties of £17.14.

I published Old Friends on 22nd February and, as of 6th March, I have sold 20 copies, all in the UK at 77p each. This has given me total UK royalties of £5.20.

So, financially, I say it has not been worthwhile. BUT I still have a lot to learn about e-book marketing and the inner workings of the great Amazon machine. So I’m hoping that once I get my head around that and also publish a couple more books that I have ideas for, sales will improve. In the meantime, if anyone knows how to get a foothold in the US market – please let me know!

Forgetting the financial side of it, there have been many other benefits from dipping my toe into e-publishing.

I’ve had lots of positive feedback from people who’ve read the books, particularly One Day For Me, in the form of Amazon reviews, emails and face to face. Also, I’ve learnt that those outside the ‘writing industry’ often don’t appreciate the importance of leaving reviews for books they’ve enjoyed – and many simply don’t know how to do it.

But the best thing to come out of this experience is the new respect that family, friends and work colleagues have for my writing. It is no longer just ‘a little hobby’. Instead it is something that has a tangible product which is on sale worldwide and which they can buy. This has made me feel more professional and less guilty about claiming to be a writer.

So, in summary – YES, the anthologies have definitely been worthwhile.

And if you buy one, I think you’ll find they’re a worthwhile read as well!

One Day For Me: 8 Award-Winning Stories – these stories have all either won or been shortlisted in UK national writing competitions.

Old Friends: 13 Coffee Break Stories – these stories have all previously appeared in UK magazines

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Seeking a Short Story Competition

Eddie Walsh from the sadly defunct Emerald Writing Workshops competitions has refunded entry fees for his competitions that

4 Pounds Sterling - On White Set - P9053075

would have closed later in the year. So now I’ve got £3.60 to use as the entry fee in another contest. So I’ve been looking around to see what there is with a £3 to £4 entry fee and discovered the following selection of short story competitions:

  • Monthly ‘Writing Magazine’ Competitions – £3 for subscribers and £4 for non-subscribers but I’m going to give these a miss because, as a subscriber, I can enter the contests in the Writers’ News section of the magazine for free (I’ve unofficially set myself the challenge of entering the WN comp. each month & have managed 3 so far, with th 4th in the pipeline).
  • Monthly ‘Writers’ Forum Competitions – £3 for subscribers and £6 for non-subscribers, plus there is the option of paying an additional £5 for a critique. This is a possibility but I know I’ll be tempted by the critique and a total of £8 is a lot for one competition.
  • Dickens Bicentenary Writing Competition – £3 per prose piece/£2 per poem. Entries to be inspired by a character from a Charles Dickens novel. Closes 15th August 2012. Not for me – I’ve read very little Dickens so unless I went for Scrooge, I wouldn’t know who to base my hero on.
  • The Word Hut 5th Short Story Writing Competition – £4 entry fee with prizes of £50, £25, £10. 1,000 words and an open theme. Closes 16th September 2012. I’ll give this one some thought and have a look through my ‘stock’ of 1,000 word stories.
  • Speakeasy Open Creative Writing Competitions – £4 per story/£3 per poem with prizes of £125, £75 and £50 in each category. 2,100 words and an open theme. Closes 31st October 2012. This is another one for me to consider but I might have to write something new to meet the word count – most of my stuff seems to be shorter.

And if you’re looking around for other competitions to enter a good resource (which I’ve used in my searching) is the Writers’ Reign website.

Good Luck!

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A Successful Week!

After a dearth of acceptances over the summer months I’ve had four bits of good news in three days:

  • Writers’ Forum have accepted an article that I first pitched to them back in July.
  • I have a short story in this week’s Weekly News (dated 24th September). Thanks to Julia for letting me know it had been published and to Helen Yendall, my writing buddy, for giving the story the once-over before I sent it.
  • I have won the Friends of Morley Literature Festival short story competition. This was a free to enter competition (which we like!) with a £50 first prize. There is also a prize-giving in Morley, near Leeds – I’m still working on the logistics of attending that. The 2012 short story competition is now open and entry forms are available via email from the organisers. Details are here.
  • I have been asked to write for the Work Your Way magazine website. I mentioned this magazine on my blog a couple of weeks ago. It’s a new publication aimed at entrepreneurial/self-employed mums.

So at the moment my head’s buzzing and I feel great! But now I need to get some more work out there in the hope of getting this ‘high’ feeling again in the future. So I’m trying to learn from these acceptances.

Writers’ Forum taught me not to be afraid to chase an editor if he doesn’t reply to a pitch within a reasonable time – the summer holidays meant time was short and things were overlooked.

The Weekly News story was written from a male point of view and involved sport. This may have increased its chances of success in a publication read by both sexes.

My competition win shows that there’s nothing to lose and everything to be gained by sending off an entry to a free competition. For more free competitions check out Patsy Collins’ blog.

The offer from Work Your Way came about because once I’d had one article accepted by the magazine, I went back to the editor with another idea before she had time to forget who I was! Now I have to get my thinking cap on and come up with several more ideas – it feels quite scary to be put on the spot!

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Some Good News

Lots of buses in London

Image by Goxxy via Flickr

Acceptances seem like buses – you go for ages without any and then several come along at once.

Over the last few months I’ve been submitting stuff into a big black hole with every editor ignoring me. However, patience and perseverance has paid off and in the last couple of weeks I’ve had a handful of positive responses. So I’m feeling good!

Articles have been easier to place than fiction (not surprising when you think how many more markets there are for features compared to short stories) and the turnaround is quicker too.

These are the publications that have recently accepted my work – they’re wide open to all writers so why not give them a go?

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