Monday, 12 August 2019

Flash Fiction Winners #writers

Flash fiction winners
The winning entries for the second quarter 2019, as judged by Kate Finegan, are up on the site. You can read the stories here. We are already receiving entries for the third quarter, which will be judged by Diane Simmons.
Short Story Category
The short story category is open for entries until the end of February 2020. If you have a story up to 3,000 words, in any genre, you could be in line to win £500/£200/£100. Make us laugh, make us cry, but, above all, make us feel!
Novel Opening and Synopsis Category
This category is open for entries until the end of October 2019 and will judged by the senior editors at award-winning publishers Accent Press. Maybe your entry will be the springboard to becoming a number one best selling author, as happened to previous winner Wendy Clarke.
Full details of all three competition categories can be found on the Flash 500 Home Page.
Kind regards, 

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Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Points of view #writetip

Rob from the Costa del Sol writes: Many of our writing group members have been struggling to resolve the issues surrounding the ‘Point of View’ often simply referred to as POV.

Our main POV problem lies in writing in the 3rd person and the introduction of multi POVs. Is this permissible or must it be avoided?

The use of multiple points of view is one of those areas where you will most probably receive a different answer from every person you ask.

For very short stories, it is certainly not advisable to use more than one point of view, as it is easier for the reader to identify with a single character. For longer works, there is no reason why you cannot use several points of view, as long as your reader is able to follow what is going on.

Changes of POV can be very confusing unless clearly signalled, but the technique is extremely successful when used correctly. Anyone who has read Lord of the Rings will be aware of just how effective it can be. The POV switches were used to increase the tension, leaving the reader gasping to know what was happening to the characters they’d left behind, but at the same time relieved to catch up with others.

Some writers say you shouldn’t change POV within a chapter, but I think it is fine to switch, as long as the guidelines below are followed. 

  • Don’t change point of view mid-scene
  • Clearly signal a point of view change by leaving a line of space, or inserting three asterisks, before moving on to the next character’s viewpoint
  • Make sure the reader knows from the very first sentence whose point of view they have moved to (it is very frustrating to think you are still reading from one POV, only to find out several paragraphs later that you are, in fact, in a different POV)

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Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Four day countdown #flashfiction

Flash Fiction
There are only four days left before entries close for this quarter's flash fiction category. We look forward to reading your stories up to 500 words (excluding the title).
The winners will be chosen this quarter by Kate Finegan, a specialist in flash fiction judging.
Novel Category Success Story
One of our winners from this category has gone on to amazing success with her entry, crediting her win as the springboard to becoming a best-selling author! I'm delighted to announce that Wendy Clarke has entered the overall Amazon top 100 with the winning entry The One I Left Behind - published as What She Saw in the first of a two book deal. She has since signed a contract for a further two books.
Wendy has shared her experiences and success in this earlier blog post: Sharing Good News.
Could you be next? The novel category is open for entries. This year's judges are the senior editors at Accent Press, publishers of my own best-selling D.I. Sterling series.
For more information on our competition categories, visit the Flash 500 Homepage.
Kind regards,

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Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Magazine Article Help #writetip

Elizabeth from Whitstable in Kent wants to know about sidebars. I sent away for article guidelines from one of the major weekly magazines and they say they want sidebars included with travel articles. What is a sidebar?

A sidebar is the term used for information which is relevant to an article, but which doesn’t appear in the main text. For example, when writing a travel article, the details of how to get to a town, or other information pertinent to the reader, such as the tourist office address and opening times.

These details appear to the side of the main text, usually in a box, to draw attention to the information. Sidebars can also contain quotes, polls and lists related to the article.

The term is used in both newspapers and magazines and is also now common in web design, where sidebars are used to make links stand out more readily against the text.

When submitting your article, the sidebar facts should be given on a separate page and clearly marked as additional information. Many articles, but particularly travel pieces, are enhanced by the use of sidebars. It is a good idea to mention in your query letter the type of additional information you intend to include.

Penny from Sheffield has had her first magazine article acceptance, but panicked when the editor asked for a short bio. She posed the following question: Should I write about myself in the first or third person? Although most of the bios I’ve seen have been written in third person, it feels a bit weird writing about myself in that way. How long should it be? Also, what should I put in it? This is my first success, so I don’t have much to say.

Firstly, Penny, well done on having your article accepted for publication. The bio should be written in the third person, exactly as you want it to appear in the magazine. As far as length is concerned, if the editor hasn’t specified the number of words, then you should count the words of other bios used in the publication. As a general rule, magazines tend to use bios of about 60 words.

An author bio shows that readers can trust the writer because of their expertise in the field. So, let’s say your article is about witchcraft, but you have no previous writing credits, then mentioning that you come from a long line of witches would more than compensate.

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Friday, 14 June 2019

A Day to Remember #writerslife

On 13 June Accent Press published the third in the D.I. Sterling Series, Injections of Insanity. This coincided with the first day of a book tour and I’m delighted to say the initial response from reviewers has been overwhelmingly positive.

See below what the first readers had to say:

Hooked From Page One: Injections of Insanity is a book that will keep you asking questions and keep you gripped. I would definitely recommend it to fans of police procedurals. Read more ...

Jessica Belmont: I love The D.I. Stirling Series and Lorraine Mace! Every book I’ve read in the series has been fantastic, and Injections of Insanity is no different. Read more … 

Booksandemma-The Twist and Turn book blog: If you’re looking for a real gritty police procedural than look no further than this book ( well the whole series really!) Read more … 

Radzy Writes and Reviews: Injections of Insanity is a powerful third novel to the DI Sterling series, and my favourite so far. Read more … 

Read an excerpt from Injections of Insanity on the Ellesea Loves Reading site.

Find out more about me by reading the Splashes Into Books interview 

The book tour continues with stops at the following excellent locations:

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Thursday, 23 May 2019

Sharing @WendyClarke99 Good News

It was October 2017 when I sent the email that would change my life. This email was my entry to the Flash 500 Novel Opening and Synopsis competition and attached to it were the opening chapters of my novel. It was an impulse decision, as I don’t usually enter competitions, but there was something about this particular one that sounded tempting: it was open to all genres, there wasn’t a long wait for results and the entry fee was reasonable. I’d be foolish not to enter the psychological thriller which was failing to tempt an agent.

I pressed ‘send’ and then forgot about it, only remembering when I received an email, in December, to say that the short list was up on the website. I was so sure my novel hadn’t made it, that it was the end of the day before I looked. Running my finger down the list, I was surprised and delighted to see that my novel was there. This was starting to get exciting! I loved what I’d written but hadn’t had the confidence to think that someone else might too. Maybe I had a chance after all.

This time, as I waited for the final results, I was nervous. Excited. What if I made the top three? But why would I? There were so many great novels out there, competition was bound to be stiff. Anyway, I’d made the shortlist and should be happy with that.

On the day of the results, it was my grandson’s school Christmas concert. I was late. I was stressed. I remember muttering under my breath as my phone pinged a message while I was trying to find a parking space. I didn’t have time for this! As I ran into the school, I checked the message. It was from a writing friend: Wendy! Have you seen? You’ve won! I hadn’t seen. I hadn’t had time to check the website. Could it really be true? But the concert was starting. I couldn’t take it in properly. My novel had actually won a competition!

The success of my novel in the Flash 500 competition made me reconsider my options. The process of finding an agent had been a slow and demoralising experience but the competition was proof that it wasn’t just my mother who liked my novel. What if I submitted it directly to one of the publishers who took un-agented submissions?

I sat down and made a list of who I could send to and the publisher, Bookouture (who I’d heard good things about) was at the top. With racing heart, I wrote my submission (my Flash 500 win having pride of place in the opening paragraph) and sent the novel off. 

When I received an email from one of the editors just a few days later, saying she loved it, I could hardly believe it. I was offered a two-book deal which I accepted and, in May, my novel What She Saw was published.

It’s a dream come true and I have Flash 500 to thank for it. My advice, if you’re not sure whether to enter or not, is do it! You never know… you might just win.

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Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Passive Aggression #writetip

David from Vancouver sent in the following question. I belong to a writers’ group and keep hearing that writers shouldn’t use the passive voice, but no one can tell me why. What’s wrong with the passive voice and why is it such a taboo?

Because new writers tend to overuse the passive voice, many writing teachers advise their students not to use it. This has resulted in lots of confusion, with people condemning usage of the passive voice without really even knowing what it is – or recognising it when it’s used. However, there is definitely a place for it in modern writing, so it seems a shame that it has become such a taboo.

The passive voice differs from the active voice because it places the emphasis on the result of an action or on the receiver of an action, rather than on the action itself. This is appropriate in cases where the person carrying out the action is unknown, unimportant or anonymous.

A knife was thrown into the room and it hit Jane. This is passive voice. A knife was thrown into the room by John and it hit Jane, is also passive voice, even though we now know that John is the knife-throwing nutter who Jane should most probably have ditched years before.

However, John threw a knife into the room and it hit Jane, is active voice. 

Active voice is more immediate and makes it easier to visualise the action. Too many sentences in the passive voice make a written passage wordy and dull and you should limit your use of it, but that doesn’t mean it should never be used. It is particularly useful when you don’t want to let on who has said or done something.

Jane was told John was dangerous. This is passive voice because we have no idea who told Jane she should duck when John turned up with sharp objects. Jane was told by George that John was dangerous, is also passive voice. On the other hand, George told Jane John was dangerous, is active voice.

Either way, Jane should run and John needs to get help with his anger issues.

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