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It’s a Big Big World

March 23rd, 2015

C'wealth-blogY’know, it’s a splendid job, blogging for the Writers Bureau. As well as the completely self indulgent necessity to write about writing, it’s introduced me to loads of new stuff. Some of my favourite blogs: Writers In The Storm; Grammarphobia; Grammarly, the works of great writers like Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o and Jhumpa Lahiri, not forgetting Leonard Lopate’s  fabulous WNYC talk show … all brilliant. And now, there’s another one for the list: Commonwealth Writers. Read the rest of this entry »




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Competition Time

March 16th, 2015

Win-blogRight, get your typing fingers ready. The Royal Society Of Literature has just announced its seventeenth V. S. Pritchett Memorial Prize for the best unpublished short story of the year. This is a competition open to residents of all Commonwealth countries, it’s for stories of 2,000 – 4,000 words, there’s a £5.00 entrance fee and, as well as publication in Prospect online and the RSL Review, the winner gets a very tasty £1,000. The deadline is 22 June, and with all the talent I know is out there, I’m sure one of you folks must be in with a chance.

I’d have a go myself but, as some of you may remember, I had a bad experience with a short story last year and it’s quite taken the wind out of my sails. I tried working something up for a Writing Magazine ‘adult fairy story’ competition, but ended up missing the deadline with a story that was far too long and which, even now, isn’t in any fit state to show an editor.

So where did I go wrong? Well, right at the start, I didn’t think – just launched into an idea without any proper planning. If I’d taken a couple of days to mull things over, it all could have been very different. In fact, I really should have back-pedaled further than that. Even before thinking things through, what I should have done is gone and found some advice on how to write for competitions. “Do-oh!” How thick can you be, ‘ey? Here’s me blogging for the Writers Bureau, and it didn’t even enter my head to see what our own tutors have to say about it.

Ah well … I’ve had a look now. And do you know what I found? A cracking article by Simon Whaley called Writing Competitions – A Judge Reveals All. It’s been sitting there in the back copies of E-Zee Writer since April 2009 and, honestly, it’s like a little potted masterclass. As well as loads of great tips on how to approach competitions, it explains how to timetable your work over three months to be sure you’re ready and properly edited in good time. If only I’d read it last year … I could be counting my winnings now.

So look, if you fancy having a go at the Royal Society’s short story prize, there’s loads of time to get something together. But don’t make the same mistakes I did. Do yourself a favour and read Simon’s article first, it’ll give you a great head start.

Keep on writing!phil-blog-sig




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Finished!

January 26th, 2015

Fireworks-blogHey, I’ve made an album! All my own songs. I played most of the instruments too. It took a year to record, and we did the final session last Tuesday. So that’s it – job done. I’ve just got to sell the thing now and … oomph! … there I am, back to Earth with a bump.

Seems like polishing off an album is just like finishing a collection of poems, a set of stories, or a novel. After all the great creative work, you have to get down to business. Should you release the thing yourself (self-publish)? Or try for a record company (publisher)? Who’ll do the artwork? Should you get a stock of hard copies made, or just go digital? And what about marketing? Read the rest of this entry »




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How To Get Your Story On The Judges’ Shortlist

December 12th, 2014

werewolfFirst, thanks to Rebecca for last Friday’s blog post. It certainly demonstrates that ‘writing about what you know’ needn’t limit you in any way if you don’t take it too literally.

We’ve now come to the end of our 2014 Flash Fiction competition. As usual, we had a great response and we’ll do our best to get the results out to you and the winning stories on our website early in the New Year. We’ll also be launching our next competition but you’ll have to wait a little longer to find out which genre we’ve chosen. Read the rest of this entry »




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Some You Win, Some You Have To Take It On The Chin

November 17th, 2014

magazines-blogA couple of months ago I wrote a blog about how hard it can be, just getting things finished. At the time, I’d spotted a competition in Writing Magazine for an adult fairy story, and I’d decided to enter. The competition was going to be my deadline, but whether I won or lost, the intention was to keep blogging about the story. I was working on the assumption that, if a piece isn’t successful on its first submission, there’s always somewhere else to send it. Read the rest of this entry »




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