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Welcome to The Literary Pig's blog - a safe haven for all those afflicted with
the unbearable urge to write.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Wowfactor Novel Competition

Have you written an adult or children's novel and currently seeking representation? If yes, then this new competition may be of interest.

'Cornerstones, the UK's leading literary consultancy, is coming together with a panel of top UK agents to hunt for debut writers with the 'Wow' factor.
Agents will choose two winners in July 2013 from the shortlist to receive a critique from Cornerstones (retail value £400 and upwards) including a brainstorm session with the editor afterwards, potentially leading to agent representation.
Entry fee is £10 and is open to writers over 18yrs in the UK and abroad. Manuscripts must be complete, and the author unagented; self-published writers may also enter. The initial submission will be the first five pages and synopsis; a longlist of twenty writers will then submit the next 20 pages, from which a shortlist of six writers will have their full MS read. One adult and one children's writer will then be selected for the prize.'
Before entering you do need to have a first draft ready of the manuscript. The turnaround is quick with a longlist selected by end of April. Full details are here, but do carefully read the Terms and Conditions here. Particularly the clause in respect of being represented by one of the agents from the judging panel - if published via this route then you will incur Cornerstone's 10% success fee (+VAT) of the initial worldwide advance you receive, with no ongoing royalities.

Let me know if you have a go at this one. Good Luck!

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

One week to go: Open Poetry Competition

There is just one week left before Slipstream Open Poetry competition closes on 31 January:

Closing 31 January 2013: Slipstream Poets Open Competition 2013
  • 40 lines max, £3 per poem or 4 for £10 or 6 for £12 (very good value)
  • Prizes: £250/£100/£75
  • Entry postal ONLY
  • Poems must not have been published

This is the Indoor Writer's local poetry group and she's actually written some what-I-call-proper-poems for this competition (as Miranda's mum would say). Thankfully she is not sharing them here...


Monday, 21 January 2013

Take advantage of the weather

A writer needs to grasp any opportunity and the weather often presents many. We're still ankle deep in snow in West Sussex and the Indoor Writer braved the icy pavements yesterday to take some photos of the white clad village (these are dotted about this post). Women's magazines like to print seasonal stories, but these have to be submitted many months in advance. Trying to write a wintery tale at the beginning of summer can be challenging, when all memory of snow, ice and freezing digits are (hopefully) long forgotten. Having a bundle of wintery photos can help conjure up the mood - so make the most of our current freeze and take some local photographs. You don't have to go far, snowy gardens can be wonderful, but if you can get out safely for a walk then listen for the sounds around you, the crunch of snow, how hushed the world becomes in heavy snow, mentally recall as much as detail as possible and make notes when you get home again.

If you are stuck inside then take advantage and catch up on your writing. And it's a brilliant excuse to curl up with coffee and a pile of books or magazines. Writers need to be readers to stay in touch with what other writers are doing. If you need any ideas on what to read then how about last week's issue of The People's Friend (19 Jan issue). It has a lovely story called 'The Best-Laid Plans' - OK this is the Indoor Writer's first story sold to PF and she has to keep plugging it!

Apologies that the pictures are not up to the quality of Patsy Collins, who demonstrates her photographic skills here.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Writing goals

I believe if you write stuff down then it will happen, or at least you have a chance of making it happen. This can work well for goals and what you want to achieve. Write it down and you make a promise to yourself. So I've persuaded the Indoor Writer to get on with setting down her writing goals for 2013 - yes she's later than everyone else, but I'll let her off because last week she had to write and submit a story. Here they are in no particular order:

You can sign up to write and submit 1 short story (not necessarily the same story) every week of the year, or just 1 per month. One story a week was too scary but one a month sounds achievable. Which means at least 12 new stories for the pot by the end of the year.

Publish an e-collection of short stories:
Many writers are now e-publishing their work and a collection of short stories should be feasible. The whole process of putting the collection together will be a great learning experience and the final product will be a platform to showcase my writing.

Restart the novel:
I have an adult novel partially completed, which stalled several years ago. My first novel was finished in 2007 and unsurprisingly not taken up by any agent as written long before I had any real experience of writing fiction. The good news is I know exactly where I went wrong, so I'm keen to kick-start the second novel and put into practice what I've learned after 3 years of short story writing. It needs to be completely pulled apart and re-written, but I'm still keen to explore the original premise of the book.

Crack the following:
The Weekly News: I've been submitting stories to this paper for almost 3 years and in 2013 I WILL sell them a story.
Women's Weekly: Only submitted a couple of stories to this magazine without success to date. Must try harder.

Write and sell a serial:
I've had a positive response from a magazine for a serial pitch. Now need to get on and write synopsis, first pages and submit.

Apply for and start an MA in Creative Writing:
The University of Chichester's MA starts in September and I plan to earn (from writing) the first year's module fees before then. Began counting in September 2012 and have earned 40% of the fee to date. But several writer friends have expressed very negative opinions on the merits of a MA in Creative Writing i.e. why do you want to do an MA when you're already getting work published? I really need to think more about this before committing.
Would welcome any thoughts on this one...

Have you set any writing goals for 2013?

Friday, 11 January 2013

Pass it on!

I'd like to share some good news about another writer's successes. The following story indicates the power and importance of networking ...

At the 2012 Swanwick Writers' Summer School the Indoor Writer met a lovely lady called Veronica Bright. Veronica had also won her place at the Summer School with a children's story. Our girl told Veronica all about her earlier win in April - the bursary award to the West Country Writers' Association's Literary Weekend (blog post here) and advocated it was worth applying for. Can you guess the news? Veronica has just heard that she's been awarded the bursary for 2013! The Indoor Writer first heard about this valuable prize from fellow blogger Sally Jenkins and now it's been passed on again. Isn't that wonderful?

Veronica has been enjoying a winning streak recently, well deserved as her writing is quite sublime. She came first in the NAWG 2012 Short Story competition, read more here. And also took first prize in the Greenacre Writers 2012 Competition, more here. Unfortunately neither of these websites yet have her stories uploaded to read. Do revisit them if you get the chance and read her work.

Wishing Veronica even more success in 2013!

 Though could she please not enter the same competitions as the Indoor Writer...

Monday, 7 January 2013

A reading year in review

Just to balance things out here's a review of my reading year. One goal was to read 12 new authors (i.e. not read before) and that was happily achieved. The list of new authors discovered is below. I keep a separate notebook to jot down all the books I read (more on notebookphilia here) and can tell you I read 46 books in 2012, though some of these were for research purposes.

Here are the 12 new authors:

Jan -  Tea Obrecht (The Tiger's Wife)
Feb -  Milly Johnson (An Autumn Crush - read for the longlist of Melissa Nathan Award)
Mar -  Matt Haig (The Radleys) you can read my review here
Apr -  Patrick Gale (Gentleman's Relish & Dangerous Pleasures, short story collections)
May - Stieg Larsson (The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo)
June - Gabrielle Kimm (His Last Duchess & The Courtesan)
July -  Patsy Collins (Escape to the Country) you can read my review and interview with Patsy here
Aug - Jane Rusbridge (Rook) you can read my review here
Sep -  Jane Rogers (The Testament of Jesse Lamb)
Oct -  E. L. James (50 Shades of Grey) OK, yes I read THAT book, but purely for research purposes!
Nov - Sue Moorcroft (All that Mullarkey)
Dec - Ben Hatch (Are we nearly there yet?) you can read my review and interview with Ben here

And here are my top 5 reads of 2012 in reverse order:
The Radleys - Matt Haig
Rook - Jane Rusbridge
Life of Pi - Yann Martell
Patrick Gale - Gentleman's Relish & Dangerous Pleasures (I'm counting these as one as read back-to-back because I loved every single story)
Hilary Mantel - Bring up the Bodies

All chosen because I thoroughly enjoyed them, quality of writing and the  stories lingered long after reading.

Hilary Mantel gets the top spot as I finally got to read this over Xmas holidays. I saved it deliberately expecting a real literary treat and wasn't disappointed. She may not be to everyone's tastes but I worship at the altar of her writing style and simply adore Mr Secretary. The second Man-Booker Prize was thoroughly deserved. Simply stunning and I was loathe to finish the novel and leave the Tudor world. Now awaiting the final installment of the Thomas Cromwell trilogy, but sadly we all know how the story ends...

What were your favourite reads of 2012?