Monthly Archives: October 2010

Girls’ Night In and Let’s Talk About Love

The Choc Lit authors Girls’ Night In at Waterstone’s, Bury St Edmunds on Thursday was a great success. Thanks to everybody in the audience – it was a sell out!

You can see me, here, doing my bit. Chris Stovell’s lovely husband was kind enough to do the photograph (thanks, Tom!) and they sent me several photos of me in full flood. I hadn’t realised what extraordinary faces I pull when talking.

You can read more about the whole event  at the Choc Lit Authors blog.

Last night, for the second time, I joined the Let’s Talk About Love group, this time at Gants Hill Library, Essex. I love panel events because you can chat amongst yourselves and make the audience laugh and it ends up being more of a ‘cuppa and a chat’ event than a ‘oh no! I’ve got to speak!’ event. The audience were initially shy with their questions but then made up for it with questions such as ‘Don’t you miss your characters when you’ve finished a book?’ (‘Yes!’) And, ‘Would you like your books made into films?’ (‘Yes!’)

Jean Fullerton ably chaired, and fellow panellists were Sheila Norton/Olivia Ryan, Heidi Rice and fellow Choc Lit author, Juliet Archer.

Thanks to Nick and the Gants Hill Library staff for making us welcome.

BUT, here comes the whinge  – nothing to do with the library or event – is the new parking arrangements at my home town railway station. The  car park used to have the system where you paid for your ticket when you left your car. Now they’ve changed it to paying on foot when you return, at the end of your travel. In some ways, it’s a good idea because I’ve been in the situation where I’ve been worried about missing my train yet had to queue for a ticket before I could leave. But when I got back to the station last night at nearly midnight, one machine wasn’t working at all and the other had decided to decline credit cards. So I was messing around with this thing, late at night, on my own, the station no longer manned – and I couldn’t get my car out!
It was horrid.  At first I didn’t realise that it was only the credit card aspect that wasn’t working,  until a guy came gasping up. He’d gone back to his car to scrabble around for change because of the machine declining cards and had still come up 20p short. I gave him 20p and he showed me that the cash part was still functional, so I was able to get the car out eventually. Phew.
And where they’ve placed the machines that take your ticket, ie at the barriers as you drive in and out, they’re on the inside of a curve, which means it’s really difficult to get close enough to reach through the window without kerbing your alloys. (An offence punishable by divorce, in my family.)
In fact, leaving – me being short and having a sore shoulder – I had to open the car door a bit to reach. This can’t be a safe situation for a woman travelling alone late at night!
So I came home muttering and cussing.
And I really feel like writing to East Midlands Trains about it.
But I have work to do. 🙂


Filed under Uncategorized

Leaf Books Memoir Writing Competition

Leaf Books Memoir Writing Competition.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Leaf Books Memoir Writing Competition

Closing date: 30th Nov 2010

Send an extract from your own life in 1,000 words or fewer. Your mini-memoir can be on any subject – childhood, war, travel writing, family, school, work, community projects, political activism, the story of your allotment or anything else you can think of that’s happened to you in your life. It can be as dramatic or as low-key as you like: just make sure that it grabs our interest and that it stands alone as a narrative. The previous competition anthology Foresight with Hindsight is now available from the Leaf Books website to buy either as a hard copy or a downloadable pdf e-book, so if you want to see what really caught our attention last time then have a look at this publication.

Prizes : Winner will receive £150, a free copy of the anthology and a year’s subscription to the Leaf Writers’ Magazine (or a refund if you already subscribe).
Runner-up will receive a free copy of the anthology and a full set of Leaf mini-books.
All selected pieces will be published in the anthology and the winner and runner-ups will be published in the Leaf Writers’ Magazine.

Entry Fee : £4 per submission, 3 submissions for £10.

You can enter online (pay via Paypal then email us the entries), or by post. For full information please visit


Filed under Uncategorized

Markets – other than weekly mags

I’m a creative writing tutor as well as a writer and find that similar questions crop up over and over. So it seems sensible to include some in my blog occasionally.

Q If you don’t want to write for weekly magazines and haven’t got the ‘legs’ to write a novel – what other markets are there?

A Have you looked at the small press market?

The small press is made up of subscription-only magazines with a modest circulation. Generally, they are A5 in size, with few illustrations. They pay nothing or little but competition to appear is still fierce and some good work appears. The tone is generally more literary or experimental than the weekly newsstand magazines and so the small press is a great arena for writers to flex their writing muscles. Look for QWF, The Yellow Room, Scribble etc.

There are also literary magazines with higher profile and circulation than the small press mags. I’m afraid I have no experience of their payment rates. Look out for The London Review, Granta, Slightly Foxed etc. You will need to do some research into the market and the Internet makes this easier than once was. Go to sites such as for comprehensive market listings. Take care to distinguish UK from US. But your search engine will be your friend here and you’ll find there are endless sites about writing and markets.

Competitions are another outlet for short stories and there are lots of them. You’ll find loads of information on them in Writers’ Forum, Writers’ News, Writing Magazine, The New Writer. Some of these are subscription magazines (quite reasonably priced), but Writing and Writers’ Forum are available on the shelves at W H Smith. Or surf the Internet for links from reputable sites such as

Whether you aim for magazines or competitions, pick one that’s suitable for your output. You need to send your best work and present it well. In the same way that you’re likely to polish your shoes, wash your hair and wear the correct clothes to a job interview, a manuscript should look its best when you send it to an editor or judge.

Good luck!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Circalit and The Literary Consultancy Launch Free Competition for Writers

Circalit launched a free competition in partnership with The Literary Consultancy aimed at aspiring novelists who are looking for the opportunity to get a book deal. The Literacy Consultancy will assess the winning scripts’ suitability for publication and fast-track work it deems marketable on to agents and publishers. The winning writers will also receive an in depth editorial report from The Literary Consultancy as well as an invitation to a publishing industry event at the Free Word Centre.

Recommended by The Arts Council England and all major publishing houses, The Literary Consultancy was started 14 years ago by Rebecca Swift and Hannah Griffiths, who is now an editor at Faber & Faber. The company has since made its name as the UK’s leading manuscript assessment service, providing expert, market-aware editorial advice to writers of all kinds. The company holds a strong track record of helping writers get into print, and has helped writers secure book deals with top publishers including Penguin, Orion, Macmillan, Random House and Bloomsbury.

Rebecca Swift, Director of TLC said, “We’re pleased to be launching a competition with Circalit which is encouraging a vibrant online community. Their competitions get participants involved as they review each other’s work, and vote for their favourites. We hope that this competition will uncover talented new writers.’

Circalit, which started life as a site where screenwriters could showcase their work to film studios, has already hosted free competitions with companies such as the BBC and Hollywood producer, Julie Richardson. It’s social networking features make it an invaluable resource for writers looking to make industry contacts and it is integrated with Facebook, giving talented writers the means to spread their wings and go viral across the internet.

“The idea behind this competition is to help those up and coming writers who’ve yet to make their mark in the industry or who are unsure where to take their work and need some impartial advice,”  adds Raoul Tawadey, CEO and Founder of Circalit, “That’s why we’re incredibly pleased to be doing this competition with The Literary Consultancy, who share the same ethos of helping writers through objective, independent critique. ‘

The competition will open on the 1st October and will take place quarterly over the next year. The first winner will be announced on 31st December 2010. For more information or to enter your work, please visit


Filed under Uncategorized

Writing Competition!

The Brighton COW (Community of Writers) first writing competition has an open theme with a 3,000 word limit. There are three prizes to the top three winning writers of £100, £50 and £25.

There will also be the opportunity for the stories to be published on the Brighton COW website as well as being recorded for broadcast on Brighton’s Coastway Hospital Radio, which provides music and entertainment to a network of Brighton hospitals.

The competition is just four pounds to enter, via PayPal or cheque, and the competition is open to writers worldwide.

Stories can be submitted online along with payment or by post with a cheque. The deadline is 1 November 2010. All entrants will be notified of receipt of their story. Each entry will be judged impartially and be read at least twice in full before judging decisions are made. Titles and authors of shortlisted stories will be displayed on Brighton COW site by the end of November and winners will be announced on the site on 7 December 2010, where you can find a range of other services, such as editing, proofreading and critiques. See FAQ section of the site. Feedback and links with other related writing websites welcome.


Filed under Uncategorized

New column!

It’s amazing where a Twitter conversation will lead.

This week, I got talking to – and next week I’ll be one of their columnists, producing a column that will be a mixture of Formula 1 news, my opinions of it and a few tidbits about my books.

It’s a great opportunity for two reasons:

  1. I love Formula 1 and this gives me the perfect excuse to watch it and call it ‘work’
  2. I’ve just begun to research a book to be set in the world of Formula 1 and, naturally, I need to be more involved in it

And how can I go wrong with a project that enables me to combine F1 with another of my favourite things – expressing my opinions? I hope that you’ll come along and read the column and I’ll be linking to it when it comes into existence.

Meantime, here are a few events on my horizon:

October 9 2010, Derby Central Library, 10am-4pm, I’m leading a one day course on writing short stories for pleasure or profit. Book at any City Library or call 01332 641702 for more information.

October 21 2010, Girls’ Night In at Waterstones, The Arc Centre, Bury St Edmunds – I’m part of the Choc Lit Authors panel. Contact by phone 0843 290 8199 or E-mail:

October 26 2010, a chick lit panel at Gant’s Hill Library, East London, 7.30pm-9.15pm, I’ll be appearing along with Heidi Rice, Juliet Archer (Choc Lit) and Jean Fullerton. Call 020 8708 9274 for information.

November 11 2010, tune in to BBC Radio Cambridgeshire to hear me in The Chat Room on the Sue Dougan Show.

But now I’m off to begin my Formula 1 column.


Filed under Uncategorized