Monthly Archives: March 2011

Latest writing competitions from Brighton Cow

On Brighton Pier

I have to admit to having a bit of a ‘thing’ about Brighton, at the moment. Probably because Love & Freedom is set in and around that ‘Little London by the Sea’ so I’ve been down there quite a lot on research. And I’m planning to visit to do some promo, too – watch this space (there may be chocolate involved).

When I was in my late teens Brighton meant fun weekends and holidays with loads to do and an amazing music scene. OK, the beach was a bit crunchy but the piers – they were both open, in those days – were fun; also the pubs, clubs, shops and markets. Musicians set up in parks and the police didn’t steal your beer if you happened to be drinking it in public. I’m a trifle older now (pause for raised eyebrows) but I still love Brighton and always have fun there.

Whilst I’m on the subject of Brighton, here’s news of the current Brighton Cow competitions:

One is free to enter and has three £10 prizes as well as publication on their site. You need to write a non-fiction piece on the subject of your own choosing. Word limit is 500. Deadline is 30th April 2011.

There’s a fiction competition too. The deadline is 31st May 2011. It costs £4 to enter and the word limit is 3000. There are three cash prizes of £100, £50 and £25. All shortlisted stories have the option of publication on our site as well as being broadcast, where appropriate, on the local hospital radio network.

Full details are on

Love & Freedom will be published on 1 June and is available for pre-order, now.

As you can see, Brighton Pier is on the cover. Good cover, huh?

Blue’s my favourite colour.


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Festival of Writing 2011

Central Hall, York University

What a brilliant weekend!

I attended the Festival of Writing at the University of York, England, for the Saturday and Sunday of the three-day event. And it was great.

Along with Lyn Vernham, of Choc Lit, my fellow Choc Lit authors Christina Courtenay and Jane Lovering enjoyed a panel presentation about Choc Lit, the way we each love Choc Lit and became a Choc Lit author. The audience were deeply involved, questioning us closely about our views on our heroes and what Choc Lit wanted from heroes – being irresistible, basically – and how we’d each found and created our own. Of course, we all took the opportunity to talk about all our books and love the covers and generally wallow in the pleasure of being a choc lit author.

Other highlights of the festival, for me, were Carole Blake and Patrick Janson-Smith’s double act at the Central Hall (pic) and the panel of independent publishers, who showed a remarkable resilience and optimism about the state of the industry. Or, at least, their part of it. Indies are so nimble that they can react to change and innovation.

I met up with lots of old friends and made some new ones and also enjoyed doing a little ‘book doctoring’ in the one-to-ones. The Festival provides SUCH a huge number of one-to-one opportunities that the conversation over meals and tea breaks was all about what this agent had said and whether that publisher had asked for a full manuscript. It’s an incredibly valuable service.

The meals were lovely – although I was heartbroken to discover I’d missed chocolate mousse on Friday evening – and I rose at the crack of dawn to watch the Australian Grand Prix from Albert Park, Melbourne, before launching into Sunday’s activities. (Lyn was wonderful and brought me bacon butties!)


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Mother’s Day and All That Mullarkey

A free book!

What’s not to love about a free book?

As you can see from the pic, if you buy certain Mother’s Day gifts from fabulous chocolatiers, Montezuma, you get a free copy of All That Mullarkey! This applies to both in-store and on-line purchases.

So you can put yummy chocolate on your Mother’s Day wishlist and enjoy All That Mullarkey, too …

Or you can buy the yummy chocolate for your mummy – and keep All That Mullarkey for yourself. Or give it to your mum and then borrow it back.

I love win-win situations.

And, for anyone who’s wondering – UK Mother’s Day is 3rd April, this year!


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I thought I’d blog about my Kindle because when I was thinking about buying one and soliciting opinion on Facebook and Twitter, people asked me to let them know how I felt about the reading device when I’d used it for a while.

In the interests of science, I should say that I’ve had very little experience of other reading devices but had looked cursorily at the iPad, and have a smartphone, a netbook and a Mac desktop, all of which I’ve used for reading books in some form or another.

The pic opposite was kindly supplied to me by my friend Mary L D D, before I ever bought my Kindle. The reason that I’m in the pic is that she had logged on to my Amazon page. Which I didn’t even know, at that stage, it was possible to do.

My primary purpose in buying a Kindle was to be able to download books by my favourite US and Australian writers. I was given some dosh for Christmas and, naturally, spent it on books. On 2 January 2011, I bought five paperback books from the backlist of Suzanne Brockmann. Those books are not published in the UK, so they had to come from the US. The first of these five arrived about five weeks later; the last of the five took two-and-a-half months! Naturally, the last of the five to arrive was the first of the series … With shipping, these books cost me between £4 and £5 each.

By the time I’d read all five, I had my Kindle. And began buying the rest of the series as ebooks. They arrive in about ten seconds.

Really. That’s the direct comparison. Two-and-a-half months versus ten seconds. And the ebooks cost me between £3 and £4 each. (See what I did there? I made an economy.)

Another purpose I have in mind for the Kindle is to buy US books when they come out in the US, rather than when they percolate through to the UK. Whether this is cheaper than buying brand new titles as hard or paperback depends upon the pricing policy of the publisher. On the March release of Suzanne Brockmann that I looked at last night, there was a saving of around £2 on the hardback.)

Also, I’m going to be away overnight, tonight, and have stuck my Kindle in a tiny bag – it has four books on it that I have yet to read – and it weights a lot, lot less than taking a paperback, or taking two, which I would normally do if I’m in the second half of a book and know I’m going to want to begin another before I get home.

The reading experience with the Kindle suits me fine. There’s no glare or eye fatigue, it’s lighter to hold than a book so doesn’t hurt my thumbs, I can have the font at any size. I can use it as an emergency web browsing device – I say emergency because it’s monotone and not particularly rapid – it doesn’t take the place of an iPad, netbook, laptop or desktop, or even a smartphone, for the web experience. Like a print book, you need a light to read it in the dark but you can read it in the brightest sunshine without a problem. I bought a case for it that stands up like a picture frame, which is useful for reading on the train or, especially, whilst I’m having lunch. There is no mouse or touch screen – most of the navigation is done via a four-way scroller with a select button, like many mobile phones. It is efficient. There’s a small querty keyboard for when you need to do something like a search for the book you wish to buy. It was incredibly quick and easy to set up and learn to use – and I hate learning to use new technology!

I have to say it’s not that suitable for reading in the bath (but I have done it, after purchasing the insurance! I hardly ever drop a book into the bath so am hoping I will be equally dextrous with the Kindle.)

I bought the £111 WiFi Kindle. It latched onto my WiFi at home in no seconds and has done the same in the other two places I tried – one a club in London, the other a station. It is SCARILY easy to buy books on the Kindle. It’s a one-click process so, whoopsy daisy, it’s done. And, yes, I’ll admit it – because there were witnesses – I have bought one book I didn’t mean to when I was demonstrating my new toy. But there’s a button on the same page to click on if you do buy by mistake, so it was no real drama.

My own books are currently available on the Kindle at £2.14. It’s a promotion that went well around St Valentine’s day so Choc Lit have left it like that, to assess the results. It’s a huge saving on between £6.39 and £7.99 for the paperback and, for the first time, my ebook sales are ahead of my paperback sales.

Is this a good thing? Nobody seems to know! What we do know is that it’s not a bad thing because I’m reaching readers I hadn’t reached before, especially in different countries. We’ll have to wait and see what the other results are.

Will I stop buying paper books? I doubt it. Or not entirely. But I’m sure I’ll buy a lot fewer because one thing I do know is that I’ve joined the ranks of people who say, ‘I love my Kindle.’


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Harry Bowling Prize

The Harry Bowling Prize is a great opportunity for anyone who hasn’t had a novel published. Previous winners have gone on to contracts with agents and publishers. Here’s the info:

Press Release

Announcing the 2012 Harry Bowling Prize for New Writing!

We are inviting writers who have not yet had a novel published for adults to submit a synopsis and first chapter of a novel with an urban setting for the 2012 prize. The winner will be announced in March 2012.

The prize was originally launched in 2000 in memory of Harry Bowling, who was and remains a bestselling author of Cockney sagas. Harry’s novels were all published by Headline who sponsor the prize, and who have recently reissued all his novels.

The first prize is £1,000 and the runner-up prize is £100.

The judges will be impressed by writers who are genuine storytellers, and who entertain them with drama, romance and great characters, just as Harry Bowling did. Although all Harry’s novels were set in London, entrants are free to choose any urban setting for their novels.

The deadline for entries is 30th September 2011. The rules and entry form, more information about the prize, and comments from past winners are on

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Diamonds and Pearls

Here is the lovely Diamonds and Pearls anthology from Accent Press in support of Against Breast Cancer.

Editor Elaine Everest is a breast cancer survivor and wanted to put this anthology together to celebrate the thirty years of survival since her illness (the pearls) and invited lots of her fellow short story writers (the diamonds) to contribute stories.

We were all happy to donate stories to Diamonds and Pearls and if you love the sort of fiction that you find in women’s magazines then you’ll find all your favourite writers in here. And me.

There will be a donation made for every book sold.

As well as buying your own copy, Diamonds and Pearls would make a fabby present for your mum/sister/bezzie/cousin/teacher/auntie/grandma and you’ll be raising money for a good cause.

Hope you enjoy it.


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Imagine There’s a Future Short Story Competition (SW England only)

It seems as if all I’m posting to my blog is competition news!

But when my rewrites are finished – see the Nutpress blog here for more details on this! – I will be able to catch up with everything. That’s the plan, anyway.

Here are the details of the comp:

Can you imagine a future for the human race on earth?

A new short story competition invites writers resident in the South West of England to submit stories of between 1,000 and 3,000 set in a sustainable future at any time between five and five million years from now.

Will we have succumbed to the floodwaters, or will geo-engineering save the day? Did we cure our addiction to fossil fuels, or did it turn out not to be necessary? Will your story be narrated by one of your descendants, or a computer, or a jellyfish? Or does God have something to say about it all?

All the winning entries and a number of highly commended entries will be published in the ‘Imagine there’s a future’ anthology in September 2011.

Entry to the competition is free. It is funded by the Arts Council and the University of Exeter.

The deadline for receipt of all entries is June 30 2011.

First prize:            £250

Second prize:     £75

Third prize           £50

Contact Details and Further Information


Good luck!

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Flash 500 writing competition

Another great writing competition opportunity and my friend and co-judge for Writers’ Forum, Lorraine Mace, has asked me to let you know all about it. So. Ta-dah! This is all about it:

Flash 500 is a quarterly open-themed competition with closing dates of 31st March, 30th June, 30th September and 31st December. The results are announced within six weeks of each closing date and the three winning entries each quarter are published on the competition website. The judge changes each quarter, details on the judge’s page at:

Entry fee: £5 for one story, £8 for two stories

Optional critiques: £10 per story

Prizes are awarded as follows:

First: £250 plus publication in Words with JAM

Second: £100

Third: £50

Highly commended: A copy of The Writer’s ABC Checklist

Competition website:

Good luck!


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Closing date: 31st March 2011

1st Prize – £80

2nd Prize – £45

3rd Prize – £20

The winning story will be published in

The Yellow Room Magazine

Entry Fee: £4 (or £10 for 3 stories)

Cheques made payable to J M Derrick


All entries should be sent to:

The Yellow Room Competition, 1 Blake Close, Bilton, Rugby CV22 7LJ


Entries should be up to 2,500 words, in any style or genre, on any theme.

Entries should be the original, unpublished work of the author (including unpaid publication in competition anthologies, internet or small press), and should not have won a prize in any previous competitions.

Entries should be in English, typed, double-spaced and on one side of the paper only, stapled at the top left hand corner. No binders or plastic wallets, please.

Closing date is 31st March 2011

The author’s name should not appear on the manuscript; please attach a separate sheet with contact details. The story’s title should appear on each page of the manuscript.

Entrants may submit as many entries as they wish.

No email entries, please!

Manuscripts will NOT BE RETURNED. A list of results will appear on the website as soon as they are available (before June 2011)

Please DO NOT send entries Recorded Delivery. This causes great inconvenience! Ensure sufficient postage is on your envelope, otherwise your entry won’t reach us!

Entries which fail to conform to any of these requirements will be disqualified and entry fees will not be returned.

All prize winners will be notified before June 1st, 2011.

Copyright remains with the authors; but permission will be requested to include the winning entries in the The Yellow Room Magazine.


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