Monthly Archives: February 2011

Circalit join with Ether Books to bring short story competition to the iPhone

Circalit, the new crowd-sourcing platform for writers, has joined with mobile publishers, Ether Books, to launch a short story of the week competition.  The winning short story each week will be available to read for free on the Ether Books phone app.

Anyone can enter a short story in the competition for free and the public can vote on their favourites. If you wish to submit a short story or vote for one, start by creating a free account at

The competition aims to reignite the public’s interest in short stories. Ether Books are a leading mobile publisher who specialize in publishing short fiction and have published original content from many famous writers and celebrities including Hilary Mantel, Sir Paul McCartney, Lionel Shriver and Fay Weldon amongst others.

Raoul Tawadey, CEO of Circalit, said, “ This competition is a great way for everyone to engage with literature, whether reading and supporting your favourite short stories or writing your own.   Short stories are quick to read and write, well-suited to a mobile readership and we hope that everyone will take part in the new short story revival.”

About Circalit
Circalit is a platform which allows film producers, publishers, agents and other industry professionals to crowd source new literary talent. Launched in mid 2010, Circalit enables writers to receive feedback, build a network, and enter free writing competitions, and industry professionals to tap into the talent pool of rising stars. Circalit’s aim is to unearth new literary talent and connect writers with peers and industry professionals.

Robert Tucker
Director of Communications
+44 (0)7790 054 721


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Writing a personal history – always fun!

I love doing one-day workshops for libraries or writing groups because it’s so interesting yet relaxed. No homework, no marking, no having to make certain to be free every Tuesday at six, just a room full of writers. (And, sometimes, someone gives me lunch.)

Here are the details of my next one-day workshop:

Saturday 5th March 10am to 3.45pm: Your Personal History- One Day Writing Workshop with Sue Moorcroft

Do you want to record your overland journey on foot from Poland? Or to remember and preserve your horse drawn childhood? Writing a Personal History is an open opportunity to talk about yourself. Your history, your opinions, your emotions and – love them or hate them – the people in your life. Your personal history is unique.

Whether you’re looking to add your autobiography to the millions sold every year or to give your family an idea of how your history impacts on theirs, this one-day course will:

· help you plan and organise your writing

· provide tips on research

· improve your writing craft

· suggest ways of presenting and preserving your work

· explain self-publishing and publishing

Relax and enjoy it.

Sue Moorcroft wrote the Personal History Course for the London School of Journalism. She also writes novels, short stories, serials, articles, writing ‘how to’ and is the head judge for Writers’ Forum. Her latest novel is Want to Know a Secret? published by Choc Lit.

Venue: Blagreaves Library

Cost: £25, includes tea and coffee throughout the day. Booking essential.

To book a place or for more information telephone 01332 255403 or email

Look forward to seeing you there.


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Naming a character is fun (?)

Naming a character is really important to me. Having just sent a book in, and being in that happy place before the rewrites come back to me, I’ve been giving some thought to the next book, which has been percolating for the last few weeks but having to be ignored whilst I finished the WIP.

I already have my heroine, because she’s the sister of Cleo, from All That Mullarkey, a character I like too much to leave her perpetually in a support role. She’s surprising me with some of her thoughts and history, but she’s recognisably Liza Reece. I’m enjoying getting to know her better.

I had conceived my hero as Marcus. But then it was pointed out that Marcus is quite like Martyn, hero of my WIP, Love & Freedom. I would hate a) a browser to put the book back because s/he thought s/he recognised the hero’s name so must have read it  b) me to get the two heroes mixed up in my mind. At my son’s suggestion, Marcus has become Lucas, because it’s a similar shape on the page. But, having been rechristened, he has changed his image in my mind. Slightly irritating … And it means both hero and heroine have names beginning with the same letter. Argh! But he seems to want to be Lucas now, so I don’t think I’m going to change him again.

But he will not tell me his surname. I keep trying to guess but it hasn’t come to me, yet.

Surnames have tripped me up in the past, in most unexpected ways. For example, in Want to Know a Secret? I knew that my heroine was Diane Jenner and her husband was Gareth. I also knew that their daughter was Brenna, which I thought was the sort of pretty-and-unusual name that Diane would have chosen. I was half way through the book before I realised that I’d lumbered the poor kid with Brenna Jenner! So she had to become Bryony.

Something I pay attention to, and it always grates when others don’t, is giving siblings names that sound as if they have come from the same parent. If the elder is a plain and sturdy David would his parents have named his little brother Elvis? Or Dimitri? Or Ptolemy? Not in my imagination! James North, from Want to Know a Secret?, called his daughters Tamzin, Alice and Natalia. Not only did I feel the same two people (James and wife Valerie) would choose three names like that – but they were just right for a family with money. Of course, the girls insisted on calling one another Tamz, Ali and Nat, which spoiled the effect. But that’s kids for you.

Along with a lot of writers I know, I find naming characters just as important/frustrating as naming a baby. Last minute changes happen. Nicknames develop. Mistakes are made (aren’t they, Brenna Jenner?) But it’s always a lot of fun.


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Whoop! The cover for Love & Freedom

Isn’t this gorgeous?

The search for the perfect cover has gone on for weeks and the designer is probably sick of the sight of my name. (Sorry, Steve.)

But when he came up with this one I fell violently in love with it so was delighted that Choc Lit felt the same.

The new cover arriving is always a great day because it makes the book feel real. I suppose we’re a visual specie and understand things that we can see. And, see, I’ve got another view of it, too …


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Working with a time line

First the big news – I have finished Love & Freedom and sent it in to Choc Lit! Big whoop!

So, now, before I get my rewrites, I’m going to catch up on other things, like blogging.

Love & Freedom is the first book I’ve written along a time line.  Having had editors find fault with my (admittedly hazy) timelines in the past, with the current book, I began a timeline.

I had never worked with a timeline before but had heard Jill Mansell speak about working with one so pretty much copied that (thanks, Jill!) I just began on a piece of A4 paper, landscape-wise, and wrote the date for the beginning of the book on the left. Then the next date anything happened to the right of that etc., sticking on new pieces of A4 as I needed them. It only takes a few words under each date to keep on track, like this:

15th July. H meets C. M working away. > 18th Aug S turns up > 30th Aug M discovers who R is.

You can see from my photos (!) – can you see, or does it just look as if the Andrex puppy went mad in here? – that I ended up with quite a document, and if your scribble is smaller than my scribble, yours might be shorter. But, the point is, it worked. And if my editor has queries, I will be able to answer them.

It was incredibly easy to keep track of my book and took a few seconds each writing session. I’m sure I’ll do this for every book from now on. And it has made editing easier, too (I always write 3 or more drafts) and although I looked hard, I didn’t come across any places where I’d got into a mess.

Whether the editor finds mistakes? Watch this space!

I also had a calendar for the year, so I knew which days dates would fall on and a backward-looking timeline for when each character is born/married/leaves the country etc.

NB If you’re wondering what the lion has to do with the time line, the answer is ‘nothing’. I just thought you might like to see him. He’s my favourite Christmas present, this year – a footwarmer for under my desk. Quite what he thinks about having my feet stuck in his head all day I have no idea, but I love him very much. Mwah.


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