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Don’t Judge a Book By Its Cover

March 11th, 2019

Before moving on, I’d just like to return to the winner of our Book Review Competition. I really enjoyed reading all the entries but the ones that got shortlisted were the ‘professional’ ones. By this I mean the ones that were presented like you would see a review in a newspaper or magazine. Before the review begins there should be the title, the author, the publisher and the ISBN (International Standard Book Number). The ISBN is usually displayed above a barcode on the back cover of a paperback. The review then needs to pique the reader’s interest and, in the case of a novel, not provide any ‘spoilers’. Writing a good review isn’t always as easy as it seems! Read the rest of this entry »




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New Competitions For The New Year

January 10th, 2019

You’ll be pleased to hear that we’ve just launched our latest Writers Bureau Open Competition. It’s for short stories with a maximum length of 2000 words and the closing date is 31st March. As usual, there are four prizes: £300, £200, £100 and £50 and each winner will also receive a Writers Bureau Course of their choice.

Also, we’re almost ready to publish the results of our Flash Fiction Competition that closed recently. You’ll find that the shortlist is already available on our website. So, if you entered and want to check if you’re on it, go and have a look! The reason that there has been a delay in picking the winners is that the shortlist was so strong this year that we have really been struggling to decide which stories should get the top three slots. But, we should be ready to announce them by the time I publish next week’s blog. Read the rest of this entry »




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Putting Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

May 25th, 2018

“Sometimes you just have to put your money where your mouth is.” This is what best-selling writer Jo Jo Moyles said in her interview with the Guardian when she was talking about the funding she is providing for Quick Reads. For those of you who don’t know, Quick Reads publishes a series of short, simple books that might appeal to the one in six adults in the UK with reading difficulties. The scheme, established in 2006, is designed to encourage reading and hopefully give slow readers more confidence and help them to move on to full-length books.

I think it’s a brilliant scheme, but there have been funding difficulties and the threat of closure has been hanging over it. When she heard this, the author offered to provide resources to keep it going for three years, providing a lifeline which would give it the opportunity to work on finding additional funding. When you can read fluently, you tend to take it for granted. Nothing beats the pleasure of a good book;  it’s easy to find information when you need it and understanding and filling in forms isn’t a serious problems. But, if your reading isn’t fluent then you’re missing out on so much and life is far less smooth. So, Quick Reads can now start commissioning new books again and I wish them well! This is definitely one organisation that deserves a helping hand. Read the rest of this entry »




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In Praise of Competitions…

February 16th, 2018

In summer last year I chanced upon a short story competition and decided to enter. I hadn’t even appreciated that such things existed.

I didn’t win. In fact, I heard nothing back from the organisers, save for an acknowledgment of receipt. But I enjoyed the experience; it piqued my interest, and I searched for more.

Before long, I had a list of potentials and aimed to come up with entries for each. These were stories that I would never have written were it not for the spur of the contests. Read the rest of this entry »




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Short Story Extremes

February 17th, 2017

people's-friend-bloggyFirst, thanks to Mary for last week’s blog. It really is important that you proof your work thoroughly before you send it out to an editor or a publisher. If you’ve not bothered to correct silly typing mistakes then they might wonder just how carefully you’ve checked your facts. I’ve done a lot of proofreading in my time and I actually find it quite enjoyable. If you’re interested in knowing more about what’s involved – either to check your own work, or to take it up as a freelance career – then you might want to consider our Proofreading and Copy Editing Course.

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, our 2017 Short Story Competition is now open for entries until 31st March. If you’re thinking about sending in your work, why not have a look at how some of the modern masters write their stories. Every year the Sunday Times EFG Short Story Competition is held with a prize of £30,000. As you can imagine, with prize money at that level, the standard of entries is pretty high. Read the rest of this entry »




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