At around 21:30 this evening the voting will open for Drabble #2
Every few hours, I will post comments on the votes...
Voting closes on the 10th March at 11am
People are certainly impressed by the aura of creative power which a writer may wear, but can easily demolish it with a few well-chosen questions. Bob Shaw has observed that the deadliest questions usually come as a pair: "Have you published anything?" – loosely translated as: I've never heard of you – and "What name do you write under?" – loosely translatable as: I've definitely never heard of you.
All writers are vain, selfish and lazy, and at the very bottom of their motives lies a mystery. Writing a book is a long, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.
Coleridge was a drug addict. Poe was an alcoholic. Marlowe was killed by a man whom he was treacherously trying to stab. Pope took money to keep a woman's name out of a satire then wrote a piece so that she could still be recognized anyhow. Chatterton killed himself. Byron was accused of incest. Do you still want to a writer - and if so, why?
It's hard enough to actually get the words on paper - but after that you have to do the self promotion thing. That's when you find out that, rather than the world clamoring to read you work, you're just one of thousands upon tens of thousands of writers in exactly the same place.
Writing a book used to be the goal - that many splendorous achievement that marked you out as special. Now?
Join the queue.
Getting publishers interested in your book is - and always was I guess - a total uphill struggle. But it's getting worse.
The whole publishing industry seems set up to say 'no', before you've even had time to pitch your idea, hone your proposal or edit down your synopsis.
Publishers explain they already have a huge back catalogue of work they have yet to publish, that, really, they don't need to see your manuscript, even before they know what it's about.
But then you read that traditional publishing is on the way out anyway. Kindle apparently is taking over - and within a mere year or two the majority of books sold will be electronic.
Not sure if I believe that but even Governor Schwarzenegger has famously recently vowed to 'terminate' the written book.
There's always self publishing - but this is turning into a minefield and a nightmare combined for the average wannabe author.
There're many companies already on line whose sole aim seems to be to take your money, make you poorer and do nothing much to help you or your work.
Self publishing - I know because I do it - shouldn't cost you more than around $500 for 50 books. That's the reality. That's how much it actually costs. So why do others charge you around $5000 or $15000?
These companies use the fact that writers find it so hard to get published to fatten their wallets at your expense.
Talk about profiteering.
Need an agent?
Agents are besieged by writers' work they can't sell. Even when you get one - and we've had a few - our experience is that they find it just as hard (and sometimes harder) to get our work published as we do.
Think that having an agent gives you an edge in the publishing world?
Times ain't like that anymore.
And here again there are individuals who call themselves agents - who prey on writers desperation to be represented - and rip you blind before you can say, "Can you please read my book?"
It's enough to make you despair!
Fact is, you're most likely to sell books if you a) self publish them - by which I mean finding a cheap POD printer and doing it yourself and then b) going on a speaking tour of your local libraries and shops and physically selling your books out of the trunk of your car.
I know traditional publishers who suggest you do this this anyway - they call it a 'launch tour' - difference being they will take 90% of the cover price of your book. At least when you self publish you get to keep 50% or more.
I read an editor's blog recently that said in 2008-9, 99% of all books sold less than 200 copies each - and that includes the books sold by traditional publishers.
Makes you want to seriously reconsider your decision to be a writer, doesn't it?
But still we do it.
I write every day. I have four fiction books I want to get out there - when I'm done editing.
We have books published. Over a hundred between us - and the royalties are good but, of course, could be better.
This last couple of years our income from self published books has actually overtaken our income from publishers. This marks the dilemma we're facing.
Is it really worth hawking around the publisher's circuit anymore? After all, they can take up to a year - and sometimes longer - to reject a MS. That's way too long to make a writer wait in my view.
Far better to take the bull by the horns (don't you just hate cliches) and do it ourselves.
I think this is what the future holds for writers. We gotta do it ourselves. Build the following one reader at a time. Get ourselves out there and sell our books one at a time - and make a small profit from each one.
Take back control from an industry that is finding it increasingly hard to support us with the onslaught of new technology.
Refuse to get sucked in to those companies and individuals who prey on writer's dreams.
Make the decision.
Decide to take back control over our destinies - and let those big publishing companies know their days are numbered.
Thanks for letting me rant.
(c) Rob Parnell
One of the most enduring of fictional characters would have to be Sherlock Holmes.
So much so that many London tourists are surprised - and sometimes upset - to learn that, despite the master detective's fame and influence (and his real address at 221b Baker Street), Holmes is the imaginary creation of writer Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
What's fascinating about Sherlock Holmes is that he's almost too incredible to be believed. He's a drug addict (morphine - the forerunner of heroin - wasn't illegal in those days), he's a terrible musician, he has a knowledge of poisons that is almost alarming, and his deductive skills are nothing less than superhuman.
ASIDE: From this brief description you can see why the character would easily appeal to actor Robert Downey Jr!
In many ways Holmes is the first modern superhero - complete with costume and cloak. I think what humanizes him is that he's only ever presented through the eyes of his sidekick Watson - whose regard and wonder for his detective friend is infectious.
This is a clever literary trick that Conan Doyle employs to not only give veracity to the stories, but to allow us to empathize by default through a character (Dr John Watson), who is essentially the ordinary reader's perspective.
It's a trick worth copying in your own writing if you're unsure how to present your own 'larger than life' character. Fitzgerald uses the same technique by presenting Gatsby through the eyes of Nick. As does Stephenie Meyer by showing Edward through Bella, come to think of it.
What's interesting to me is that successive biographers have tried to find the 'real' Sherlock Holmes. Most agree that he's based on Conan Doyle's tutor and mentor at Edinburgh University, Doctor Joseph Bell.
It's interesting because we often do this. We see a great fictional character and always assume there must be a real person in there somewhere.
Is Robert Langdon based on Dan Brown or his friend, John Langdon?
Is Somerset Maugham's Oliver Haddo based on Aleister Crowley?
Is Norman Bates based on Ed Gein?
Is Lady Macbeth really based on Lady Donwald?
It's almost as if we don't give writers any credit for coming up with original characters.
This can be especially alarming when we're faced with publisher's submission guidelines where they ask for originality in characters.
What are they really saying to us? That you must have more original friends? That you need more interesting influences? Or perhaps more compelling thoughts?
Seriously, of course we want to create characters that transcend time and exist beyond the ordinary. But we are all essentially the product of our influences - and can really only be original within somebody else's context.
Writers can tie themselves into knots over what is original and what isn't. Which is why I think it shouldn't be a consideration for writers.
Our originality comes through how we approach a character, how we describe their actions and create empathy for them.
Trying to be original will often result in nothing of the sort.
Originality is in the eye of the beholder, not the creator - to whom the character is probably far from 'unfamiliar.'
Sherlock Holmes is a case in point. Even Conan Doyle grew tired of him and tried to kill him off - famously at the Reichenbach Falls.
Indeed, the super-detective and his sidekick was already an idea developed by Edgar Allan Poe in the Rue Morgue murder stories, as early as 1841. Wilkie Collins too had created the first modern detective, Sergeant Cuff, at least twenty three years prior to the appearance of Sherlock Holmes.
Originality is relative, clearly, and not always the intention of the writer.
So, my advice? Never feel intimidated by agents, editors and publishers who say they want originality. There's no such thing. And besides, I doubt they'd recognize it anyway.
And did you know that Holmes most famous phrase, "Elementary, my dear Watson," never actually appears in any of Conan Doyle's sixty one stories?
Now there's something for those London tourists to ponder.
(c) Rob Parnell
If you're just breaking into the writing business, you may be wondering if you should start by offering your work to nonpaying markets. Do new writers need to serve some sort of "apprenticeship" in such markets before moving on to those that pay? Are nonpaying markets the only way for a new writer to break in?
Sadly, some writers don't ask this question at all, assuming (for various reasons) that the answer must be "yes." Too many talented writers end up wasting considerable time writing for free, unable (or refusing) to believe that they could be paid for their material.
At the heart of this issue are two misperceptions. The first is the assumption that one must somehow pay one's dues, "crawl before one can walk," in the writing business -- and that this involves working for no money. The second is the phrasing of the question itself. Instead of asking "Should I write for nonpaying markets?" many writers should be asking "When should I write for nonpaying markets?"
The Apprenticeship MythMany writers believe that one's career must begin with nonpaying markets. Many articles extol the value of such markets for building clips, enabling one (theoretically) to move on to paying publications. Writers often assume that without a history of publication, no paying market will consider their work -- and thus, that they have no real choice.
It isn't true. My own experience offers a good example: In the beginning of my career, I wrote exactly three "unpaid" articles. The first (my first-ever publication) was for a monthly community paper. The second and third were for a weekly newspaper -- and these were based on the editor's promise that he would pay me once he had a freelance budget. By my fourth article, he did, and I was earning a whopping $15 per feature!
Did those unpaid articles help me break into better markets? No. My first magazine sale was to Omni -- and was due to a chance meeting between my boyfriend (now hubby) and the editor at a conference. My second was to Quilt, and was due to a query that described my enthusiasm for, and knowledge of, crazy quilts. (My career has been a bit of a patchwork ever since...)
Omni, alas, is dead, but specialty magazines like Quilt abound, and are more than ready to welcome new, unpublished writers. All you need are a good idea, the ability to turn that idea into a well-written article, and the confidence to send that article to an editor. If you can do all of the above, many editors truly do not care whether you've been published before or not.
In short, if you have a choice between offering your material to a paying or a nonpaying market, there is no logical reason to choose the latter. The nonpaying market will always be there if you fail to sell the piece -- but it need not be your first choice, or even your second or third. If your goal is to become a paid professional, it's far better to exhaust all possibilities of payment before turning to markets that don't pay (rather than the other way around). After all, you only have to "break in" once to be considered a paid author!
When Should You Write for Free?Does this mean you should never write for free? Not at all! There are many excellent reasons to do so; it's just that "being new" isn't necessarily one of them. Here are some better reasons:
Ways to Profit from Writing for Free - Audrey Faye Henderson
Copyright © 2001 Moira Allen
Moira Allen is the editor of Writing-World.com, and has written nearly 400 articles, serving as a columnist and regular contributor for such publications as The Writer, Entrepreneur, Writer's Digest, and Byline. An award-winning writer, Allen is the author of eight books, including Starting Your Career as a Freelance Writer, The Writer's Guide to Queries, Pitches and Proposals, and Writing to Win: The Colossal Guide to Writing Contests. In addition to Writing-World.com, Allen hosts VictorianVoices.net, a growing archive of articles from Victorian periodicals, and The Pet Loss Support Page, a resource for grieving pet owners. She lives in Maryland with her husband and the obligatory writer's cat. She can be contacted at editors "at" writing-world.com.
Alice Ash, ‘Eggs’
Thomas Chadwick, ‘Above the fat’
Mikaella Clements, ‘The Proci’
Holly Fitzgerald, ‘Little boxes’
Laura Kaye, ‘Girls’
Vijay Khurana, ‘Zenith’
Nicholas Petty, ‘It is summer at Camp Pomodoro’
Guy Ware, ‘Confidence interval’
Martha Whatley, ‘Good girl’
Anna Wood, ‘When can you start?’
And Special Mentions:
‘Keener sounds’, by Richard Strachan
‘Two’, by Laura Hayward
‘As for Tokyo’, by Gordon Collins
’Sal’, by Emma Hutton
‘What's for you won’t go by you’, by Uschi Gatward
‘Other people’s dirt’, by Alison Armstrong
From the Website:
The Sapere Books Popular Romantic Fiction Award
The Lion Tamer Who Lost, Louise Beech, Orenda Books
One Thousand Stars and You, Isabelle Broom, Michael Joseph
You Me Everything, Catherine Isaac, Simon & Schuster
This Could Change Everything, Jill Mansell, Headline Books
A Sky Painted Gold, Laura Wood, Scholastic UK
The Goldsboro Books Contemporary Romantic Novel Award
One Thousand Stars and You, Isabelle Broom, Michael Joseph
The Little Cafe in Copenhagen, Julie Caplin, HarperImpulse
The Songs of Us, Emma Cooper, Headline Review
Where the Light Gets In, Lucy Dillon, Black Swan, Transworld
The House We Called Home, Jenny Oliver, HQ
The Lives We Touch, Eva Woods, Sphere
The Books and the City Romantic Comedy Novel Award
A Bicycle Made for Two, Mary Jayne Baker, Mirror Books
The Sister Swap, Fiona Collins, HQ Digital
Not Just For Christmas, Natalie Cox, Orion
Adventures in Dating … In Heels, Liam Livings, NineStar Press
One Summer in Rome, Samantha Tonge, HQ Digital
The Katie Fforde Debut Romantic Novel Award
Summer at the Castle Café, Donna Ashcroft, Bookouture
The Little Theatre on the Seafront, Katie Ginger, HQ Digital
The Rules of Seeing, Joe Heap, HarperCollins
The Fantasy Romantic Novel Award
Eve of Man, Giovanna and Tom Fletcher, Michael Joseph
Living in the Past, Jane Lovering, Choc Lit
Daughter of Light and Shadows, Anna McKerrow, Bookouture
The Goldsboro Books Historical Romantic Novel Award
The Palace of Lost Dreams, Charlotte Betts, Piatkus
The Silver Ladies of London, Lesley Eames, Aria
In the Far Pashmina Mountains, Janet MacLeod Trotter, Lake Union, Amazon Publishing
The Temptation of Gracie, Santa Montefiore, Simon & Schuster
Summer of Secrets, Nikola Scott, Headline Review
The Beekeeper’s Promise, Fiona Valpy, Lake Union, Amazon Publishing
The Shorter Romantic Novel Award
The Warrior’s Bride Prize, Jenni Fletcher, Mills & Boon Historical
A Little Christmas Charm, Kathryn Freeman, Choc Lit
Secret Baby, Second Chance, Jane Godman, Mills & Boon Romantic Suspense
A Rational Proposal, Jan Jones, independently published
The Map of Us, Jules Preston, HarperImpulse
"Bestselling historical novelist Alison Weir will present the Awards for 2019 during a ceremony in the Gladstone Library, One Whitehall Place, London SW1 on 4th March. Tickets for the awards are available here. We will also present our Outstanding Achievement Award to a writer who has made a truly exceptional contribution to the romantic genre.
Our annual awards are the only national literary prizes that recognise excellence in the genre of romantic fiction. In 2019 they comprise the Goldsboro Books Contemporary Romantic Novel Award, the Goldsboro Books Historical Romantic Novel Award, the Books and the City Romantic Comedy Novel Award, the Sapere Books Popular Romantic Fiction Award, the Fantasy Romantic Novel Award, the Shorter Romantic Novel Award and the Katie Fforde Debut Romantic Novel Award.
Since our inception in 1960 the RNA has promoted excellence in romantic fiction and RNA Chair, Nicola Cornick, commented, “Romantic fiction in the 21st century is diverse and exciting and this year’s shortlist brilliantly reflects the breadth of the genre. We are very proud to celebrate these outstanding books and authors, and the contribution they make to such a successful and popular genre.”
The Sapere Books Popular Romantic Fiction Award is a new prize for 2019 and we’re delighted to be able to welcome Sapere Books’ as sponsors for this award. This is in addition to our previously announced sponsors: Goldsboro Books, Katie Fforde and Books & The City.
David Headley, Managing Director of Goldsboro Books, commented, “The range of themes explored in this year’s shortlist is a testament to the many facets of the romantic fiction genre and Goldsboro Books is delighted to be sponsoring the awards for a third year, and bringing these diverse and entertaining books to readers’ attention.”
Books and the City Brand Director Sara-Jade Virtue said: “Championing the varied and diverse work of romantic fiction authors is at the heart and soul of everything we do at Books and the City, so we are delighted to be working closely for the first time with the RNA – an organisation we admire and respect greatly – by sponsoring the Romantic Comedy Award 2019.”
Amy Durant from Sapere Books said, “We are very excited to be sponsoring the RNA’s Popular Romantic Fiction Award. We hope that this new award will encourage more romance writers to submit to the annual RNA Awards and will be able to reward romance writing loved by readers.”
Katie Fforde said, “It’s an honour and a delight to be sponsoring the Debut Romantic Novel Award with such a strong shortlist.”
Tickets to the awards presentation are available here."
Amateur: A true story about what makes a man by Thomas Page McBee
Astroturf by Matthew Sperling
Educated by Tara Westover
Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi
Heart: A history by Sandeep Jauhar
Mind on Fire: A memoir of madness and recovery by Arnold Thomas Fanning
Murmur by Will Eaves
My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh
Polio: The odyssey of eradication by Thomas Abraham
Sight by Jessie Greengrass
The Trauma Cleaner: One woman’s extraordinary life in death, decay and disaster by Sarah Krasnostein
This Really Isn’t About You by Jean Hannah Edelstein
The shortlist for the prize will be announced on Tuesday 19 March, with the winner revealed at an evening ceremony on Wednesday 1 May at Wellcome Collection.
2019 - KEY DATES
Longlist Announced: 13th March
Shortlist Announced: 9th April
Winner Announced: 21st May
Sol Stein's 10 Commandments for Writers
Thou shalt not sprinkle characters into a preconceived plot lest thou produce hackwork. In the beginning was the character, then the word, and from the character’s words is brought forth action.
Thou shalt imbue thy heroes with faults and thy villains with charm, for it is the faults of the hero that brings forth his life, just as the charm of the villain is the honey with which he lures the innocent.
The characters shall steal, kill, dishonor their parents, bear false witness, and covet their neighbor’s house, wife, manservant, ox, and ass, for readers crave such actions and yawn when thy characters are meek, innocent, forgiving, and peaceful.
Thou shalt not saw the air with abstractions, for readers, like lovers, are attracted by particularity.
Thou shalt not mutter, whisper, blurt, bellow, or scream, for it is the words and not the characterization of the words that must carry their own decibels.
Thou shalt infect thy reader with anxiety, stress, and tension, for those conditions that he deplores in life he relishes in fiction.
Thy language shall be precise, clear, and bear the wings of angels, for anything less is the province of businessmen and academics and not of writers.
Thou shalt have no rest on the Sabbath, for thy characters shall live in thy mind and memory now and forever.
Thou shalt not forget that dialogue is a foreign tongue, a semblance of speech and not a record of it, a language in which directness diminishes and obliqueness sings.
Above all, thou shalt not vent thy emotions onto the reader, for thy duty is to evoke the reader’s emotions, and in that most of all lies the art of the writer.
The Judges for the Women's Prize for Fiction, 2019, are:
Chair: Professor Kate Williams
4th March 2019 - The Longlist to be Announced
29th April 2019 - The Shortlist to be Announced
5th June 2019 - The Winner to be Announced
Visit the Website
Anyone can enter the prize, as long as their story (of up to 5,000 words) is previously unpublished.
Every year, a single judge is asked to choose three winning stories, to feature in the autumn issue of The Moth.
Previous judges include John Boyne, Martina Evans, Donal Ryan, Belinda McKeon and Mike McCormack.
Previous winners include Marc Phillips, Nikki McWatters and June Caldwell.
1st prize €3,000
2nd prize week-long writing retreat at Circle of Misse in France plus €250 travel stipend
3rd prize €1,000
The prize is open from January to June annually (with a closing date of 30 June)
Short Story Contest The Results
Fran Hunnisett – Just a Small Boat
Dominic JP Nelson-Ashley – Plastic is Better Than Meta
Rebecca Chadfield – The Diavel Rides Out
Kathryn Baggot – Eleanor
Nate Connor – Failure’s Door
Jo Derrick – With Interest
Marion Husband – The Eye of the Beholder
Alan Parkinson – The Wicker Man
Longlist announcement: 11 February 2019
Shortlist announcement: 1 March 2019
Prize-winner announcement: 22 March 2019
The winning author will receive £1000 or one year’s editorial support for a writing project.
Shortlisted authors will each receive £150.
Longlisted authors will receive £50 of book vouchers and a 4-book subscription to Galley Beggar Press.
Simon Armitage wins Queen's gold medal for poetry 2018
English poet and novelist Simon Armitage has been awarded the Queen’s gold medal for poetry for his body of work “giving voice to those rarely admitted into poetry, and extending an arm around the unheard and the dispossessed”.
READ MORE >>>
2018 RW Short Story Prize Shortlist
Between The Times by Richard Buxton
Future Shock by Lorri Nicholson
I Visit My Dad Every Thursday by Dave Murray
Like A Dog by Rhys Timson
Something Else by Sophie Kirkwood
The Lost Letter by Lucy Duggan
The Stutter by Alexis Wolfe
The Tailor’s Shears by David Butler
Will You Go Out Tonight by Joanna Campbell
Satellite Presence by A.C. Koch
2018 RW Flash Fiction Prize Shortlist
A Beige Spot by Manisha Khemka
Broken Shackles At Her Feet by Dean Gessie
Burger Raid by David McVey
Connor And His Amazing Ejector Boots by James Ellis
Gold Band by Niamh McCabe
How to Friend Your Shadow by Frances Gapper
Let It Snow by Gwenda Major
Old Woman Cooking Eggs, Diego Valesquez 1618 by Fiona Mackintosh
Sticking Point by Sherry Morris
The Problem Is by Xanthi Barker
The 2019 Judges
Bettany Hughes (Chair)
Professor Angie Hobbs FRSA
By Olga Tokarczuk
Translated by Jennifer Croft
Published by Fitzcarraldo Editions
Flights is a novel about travel in the 21st century and human anatomy. From the 17th century, we have the story of the real Dutch anatomist Philip Verheyen, who dissected and drew pictures of his own amputated leg, discovering in so doing the Achilles tendon. From the 18th century, we have the story of a North African-born slave turned Austrian courtier stuffed and put on display after his death in spite of his daughter’s ever more desperate protests, as well as the story of Chopin’s heart as it makes the covert journey from Paris to Warsaw, stored in a tightly sealed jar beneath his sister’s skirt. From the present we have the trials and tribulations of a wife accompanying her much older professor husband as he teaches a course on a cruise ship in the Greek islands, the quest of a Polish woman who emigrated to New Zealand as a teenager but must now return to Poland in order to poison her terminally ill high school sweetheart, and the slow descent into madness of a young husband whose wife and child mysteriously vanished on a vacation on a Croatian island and then appeared again with no explanation.
Through these narratives, interspersed with short bursts of analysis and digressions on topics ranging from travel-sized cosmetics to the Maori, Flights guides the reader beyond the surface layer of modernity and towards the core of the very nature of humankind.
A Horse Walks Into a Bar
Translated by Jessica Cohen
Published by Jonathan Cape
The setting is a comedy club in a small Israeli town. An audience that has come expecting an evening of amusement instead sees a comedian falling apart on stage; an act of disintegration, a man crumbling before their eyes as a matter of choice. They could get up and leave, or boo and whistle and drive him from the stage, if they were not so drawn to glimpse his personal hell.
Dovale Gee, a veteran stand-up comic – charming, erratic, repellent – exposes a wound he has been living with for years: a fateful and gruesome choice he had to make between the two people who were dearest to him.
Translated by Deborah Smith
Published by Portobello Books
Yeong-hye and her husband are ordinary people. He is an office worker with moderate ambitions and mild manners; she is an uninspired but dutiful wife. The acceptable flatline of their marriage is interrupted when Yeong-hye, seeking a more ‘plant-like’ existence, commits a shocking act of subversion. As her rebellion manifests in ever more bizarre and frightening forms, Yeong-hye spirals further and further into her fantasies of abandoning her fleshly prison and becoming – impossibly, ecstatically – a tree. Fraught, disturbing, and beautiful, The Vegetarian is a novel about modern day South Korea, but also a novel about shame, desire, and our faltering attempts to understand others, from one imprisoned body to another.
Costa First Novel Award
The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle
by Stuart Turton
Costa Novel Award
by Sally Rooney
Costa Biography Award
The Cut Out Girl
by Bart van Es
Costa Poetry Award
by J. O. Morgan
Costa Children’s Book Award
The Skylarks’ War
by Hilary McKay
“If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn't brood. I'd type a little faster.”