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Have you completed a children’s book? Is it set in Scotland, suitable for 8-12 year olds, around 40,000-70,000 words?
Yes?! – then you might be interested to know that the deadline for the annual Kelpies Prize is looming on 28th February.
here’s what they say…
From Dumfries to Dundee, Glasgow to Aberdeen and everywhere in between, we are looking for Scottish children’s novels with a difference.
Fantastic fantasies, sensational sci-fi, awesome adventures and satisfying slices of life — the Kelpies range of Scottish children’s novels has them all. But we are still looking for more. Do you have a cracking story, with strong characters and believable dialogue which children won’t be able to put down? Then we want to read it!
The Kelpies Prize was set up in 2004 to encourage and reward new Scottish writing for children. Winning authors receive a £2,000 cash prize and have their novel published in the Kelpies range.
- Remember to follow the submission guide and to format your typescript exactly as required.
It’s today!. NaNoWriMo [National Novel Writing Month]
I’ve joined in this wonderful month of free writing for the past two years and highly recommend it for any writer at any stage in their career. Ian Rankin and Frederick Forsyth spoke about the positive side of Nanowrimo in 2010 - both admitting their first books had come from a quick, sustained burst of creativity. This year, more than ever, the naysayers have been out in force, telling keen nanowriters that there was no point in joining in, that no one can write a ‘good’ book in thirty days and that the nano-project was damaging and gave false hope to bad writers. Don’t listen to them. Listen to writers like Edna O’Brien who said recently that she’d written her first published book, The Country Girls, in three weeks. She said, ‘the words had poured out’ once she’d committed to the act of writing. For her, writing resides in that place between thought and speech, the place where we self-censor and self-edit before going public. Her ‘trick’ is to turn off the self-censor and write her thoughts without paying heed to what friends and family think or judge her by.
This year, I’ll be joining in as usual and fitting in an hour or so of free-writing where I don’t self-edit or censor what I think. My beginning came to me last night. A woman loomed out of the night, sat by my bed and said, ‘My name is Edith Carmichael, here’s my story.’
I’ve re-posted below my ‘non-rules’ for November writing – I hope you join in and find these useful as you begin this exciting adventure.
The first rule of NaNoWriMo is there are no rules
[or should that be ‘there is no rules’?].
Here are my November non-rules:
I will not
- Fact check
- ‘google’ and pretend it’s research
- Show it to anyone
- Worry that it seems silly
- Write and keep on writing until I reach 50,000 words.
Writers can spend weeks, or even months, deliberating over a sentence, a phrase, or whether a semi colon should be a full stop or a comma.
It’s liberating not to worry about anything but the mounting word count.
It’s an added benefit if it makes sense but the point is to write. Write quickly and without thinking too deeply about what you’re writing.
Literary purists will ridicule you. Don’t listen to them. Unfollow them or switch them off for this month. You’re not going to write a perfect novel. What you will get is an idea of the kind of studied concentration, diligence and commitment to completing a task that writers face every waking moment.
You may even find that you like writing.
So. The Golden Non-rule is this: don’t think too much about what people think or even what to write. Just write. You probably won’t have a complete, ready-to-submit to an agent or publisher typescript but this month might be the spur to start that writing project that you keep putting off.
Don’t worry about what you write. Don’t ask for instant feedback from family and friends. Don’t worry. If you get stuck simply write ‘I’M STUCK HERE’ and move on to a completely new scene. Once you’ve completed the 50,000 words take time off – a long time; two months or more, and then go back and assess what you’ve written. You might discard half of it. You might hit delete. Writing is a craft honed over many a deleted paragraph and rejection slip.
That’s not the point. The point is to write.
Christine A. Hurd‘s report on Rowling’s talk with Ann Patchett at the Lincoln Centre in New York gives a glimpse into her working methods on The Casual Vacancy (and what imaginative event planning to put them together!).
“The challenge [with “The Casual Vacancy”] was the structure of the book, and I put a huge amount of work into that … The tricky thing is not showing your workings, for the reader never to realize how difficult it was. And that’s what took me the better part of five year…. I had complicated diagrams, strange little notes…cryptic things…I had to remind myself what the hell I was talking about.”
Read the full article at The Harvard Crimson
When starting out on your path to publication the best way by far to improve your writing is to enter competitions and to submit your work to anthologies. This allows you to experiment with different voices and styles and get used to working towards a deadline.
Enter under a pseudonym. Enter multiple times if the T&C allows it.
Above all, write and write and write until you’ve found a voice and a style with which you’re comfortable.
Here’s a list of just a few of the many upcoming competitions and opportunities available online right now -
Wigtown Poetry Prize - closing date extended to midnight 31 May 2012
Bridport Prize - closing date 31 May 2012
Edwin Morgan Poetry Competition- closing date 9am, 4th June 2012
Mslexia Women’s Poetry Competition closing date 18 June 2012
Shortbread Stories - open to entries submitted between 9 April and 17 June 2012
New Scottish Writing - submissions to next edition accepted between 1 May and 30 September 2012
Mslexia Children’s Novel Comp. – deadline 10 September 2012
Short Sentence Crime - open to entries submitted between February and November 2012
Cinammon Press – multiple competitions – check the website for deadlines
Spilling Ink Review – multiple competitions – check the website for deadlines
- Please remember to check the individual Terms and Conditions and always follow submission rules to the letter
If you’re around Glasgow on the 24th come along to the next SWC Great Debate where Douglas Thompson will chair a panel on Speculative Fiction (Sci Fi, Fantasy, Paranormal etc) . Join Kirsty Logan, Roy Gill, Neil Williamson, Gordon Robertson, and John Birch to discuss this hot topic. Bring your views, your ideas and your voice to the debate.
Come and discuss such questions as:
- Where are the female writers of speculative fiction? Are they all writing YA now?
- Why are there so few reviews of speculative fiction in the mainstream press?
- If a comic is now Graphic Fiction does that make it literature?
- Does Speculative Fiction attract less funding than literary fiction? If so, why?
- Why are so few writers of speculative fiction included in literary festivals – or hidden within the children’s events?
- Where does cross-over literature sit within the literary tradition?
- Why write speculative fiction?
- Is it easier to write science fiction and fantasy than mainstream fiction?
News! I’ve recently taken up responsibility for co-ordinating events at the Scottish Writers’ Centre – check out the BookRambler Blog for full details.
Singled out for newsworthy potential in today’s Telegraph is Aifric Campbell, sadly not, it seems, for the brilliance of her writing in On the Floor, but for switching jobs from City trader to writer. News copy needs a fresh angle and a simple announcement detailing the Orange Prize long list isn’t deemed interesting of itself. The ‘news’ is that Aifric ‘stopped working’ in the City because of the long hours away from her baby and stayed home and wrote books. Now, I know that this is a dumbed down distillation of the story of the novel but it’s also a negation of the creative process; the sheer, monumental effort of writing.
The message is that writing is an easier option than competing on the City trading floors.
Really? Is it only the male writer who writes with such intensity that it leads to physical exhaustion? Is writing a soft option for a woman?
Surely the article should investigate the process of writing and how it compares to City trading. How, for example, did she find time to write and be a full time mother at the same time – isn’t that juggling? What is the difference between working full time away from home and working full time in the home? And wouldn’t we think differently of Aifric if we also knew that, as well as writing full time, she lectured on creative writing, held a PhD?
Aifric received her PhD in Critical and Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia in 2007 where she has also lectured. She’s the recipient of an award from the Arts and Humanities Research Council, a Thayer Fellowship at the University of California at Los Angeles and writing residencies at Yaddo in New York.
Aifric has taught creative writing at UEA, University of Sussex and is now teaching at Imperial College, London. - from Aifric’s website -
Here’s a piece from the same newspaper on the writer Colm Tóibín’s day – a piece that doesn’t include any mention of family, babies, or juggling, but which does make much of his university posts…
ironically, it’s written to coincide with publication of New Ways to Kill Your Mother.