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Welcome to The Literary Pig's blog - a safe haven for all those afflicted with
the unbearable urge to write.

Saturday, 19 April 2014


We're a little behind in our reading at present. This Shelfie show the backlog of books on the to-read
list. Eeek! Not to mention the 8 novels and 3 short story collections on the Kindle. Plus 3 months backlog of Writers' Forum and Writing Magazine ...

Some days all I want to do is read, read, read. But the echoing shriek is when, when, when? Lots of writing projects in progress and the novel is going well. Any spare moment is spent getting fresh air and exercise - to compensate for time on bottom staring at screen.

Have just started Elly Griffiths 'A Room Full of Bones' - the 4th Ruth Galloway novel. I first met Elly  at Steyning Festival in 2012 where she read my story at a competition prize giving. Then met her again the other week at the Hove Book Festival. She is a fun speaker and shared some wonderful top tips about finding a literary agent. She also shared that the BBC have optioned the Ruth Galloway books (she's a crime solving Forensic Archaeologist with attitude and a very dry sense of humour), but sadly have not yet started filming. I highly recommend this series - Ruth is an unusual protagonist, being overweight, single and loving her cats more than her friends, she also has a complicated relationship developing between her and the DCI she keeps solving murders with.

Then today the postman brought 2 books I've promised to review, plus a package of several books ordered online, which I have to read for my MA assignment. Heaven knows where I'm going to put them ... let alone when I'm going to read them ...

I don't need a writing retreat as I have no excuses, other than housework (ugh) and family commitments, to write during the day. But I really do fancy sneaking off for a reading retreat ... any suggestions?

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Playing with words

Some good news arrived last week for The Indoor Writer: an invitation to attend a performance of the winning entries from the Five 'n Ten (Sandalle's international stage-writing) competition. Even better was the news that her 5 minute piece was a winner in the monologue category and it would be performed at the event! The prize also includes a one hour session with a BBC Script Editor (a former
winner in the monologue category) and lunch with the actors involved. What a treat! She's thinking of dragging Handsome Hubby and the Tame Teenager down to Wales (Neath, nr Swansea) and making a family weekend outing of the experience - hope she remembers to pack me ...

To have your drama performed in a theatre by actors is the ultimate credit for a playwright. This is going to be a high point of the year. Watch this blog for a full report post 8th June.

If you have a short play already written or have an idea for one then why not have a go and enter one of these drama competitions for 10 minute plays:

Little Pieces of Gold New Writing Showcase:
10 min play for max of 4 actors on theme: To ‘like’ or not to ‘like’? 8 short plays about social media

Submission deadline: 5 May
No entry fee
Email entries only
8 winning plays will be performed at on 16 June, Park Theatre London. (Note: BBC scouts often attend these performances to 'scout' out new drama talent ...)
Details of rules and how to enter are here.

Pint-Sized Plays:
Plays of 5-10mins length. Suitable for performing in a pub. This is what the organisers have to say:
We often get queries about Pint-sized Plays asking just what and what is not possible.  I hope that the following will prove useful in helping you to judge whether your submission will be suitable. Fundamentally, the first thing to know is that (with the exception of the Script Slam) the plays are not performed in a theatre, they are performed right in a pub bar. So you don't have the luxury of lighting effects, or scenery or any such stuff.

Having said that, the play doesn't have to be specifically centred in a pub. It can be anywhere, but there are important considerations. The only props are those that the cast might reasonably carry and any furniture has to be what is already there. Bear in mind that, when we set up the 'playing area', it might be in a corner of the bar or right in the middle amongst the punters. So, for the play to work, the audience has to be able to imagine what you're imagining.

Entry fee: £5.50, online or postal entries acceptable.
Submission deadline: 31 May
Details of rules and how to enter are here.

If there are any playwrights out there then let us know how you get on ...

Friday, 4 April 2014

Jonathan Cape opens submission window

Publishing group Jonathan Cape are open for submissions for a short period...


From 1–30 June, 2014, Jonathan Cape will be open for fiction submissions from new writers of high calibre and imagination. 
Submissions should be an initial 50 pages of prose fiction. These can be part of a novel or novella, or short stories. The pages can be finished work or a work in progress. 

Full details are here.

They don't make any promises, but if you have material ready then what's to lose?

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Life cycle of a story

You've heard it here before and from many other writing blogs too, that you should NEVER give up on a story. The Indoor Writer started writing short stories four years ago and keeps track of everything she's ever written and submitted. In her large green notebook story number 1 is 'The Butterfly Effect'. A comic tale of a teenage girl trying to outwit her mum's new boyfriend. It involves a diamond ring, a mobile phone, Maisy the pet cat and a smelly litter tray. The story was recently shortlisted in the GKBCinc International Crime Short Story competition and then last week made the final ten, of which all stories will be included in the forthcoming e-book. So it's finally reached the end of the story life cycle and will be published! Sadly, this probably means retirement for what has become a special favourite but at least it has fulfilled it's story destiny, as surely the only purpose of a story is to be read by others.

When the Indoor Writer decided to pursue writing as a serious venture this was the very first short story penned and the first ever submitted to competitions. It was shortlisted at least twice, hinting that it had potential, but had never been published. Until it's twelfth outing (and reincarnation, as the story has been edited/tweaked/pulled about each time it went out) when it made the shortlist for

Sometimes a story needs resting time in its chrysalis before it's ready to emerge in all its glory. Sometimes a story needs a serious amount of editing before it can be truly appreciated. I'm not saying which is the case for 'The Butterfly Effect', but today's take home message is keep recycling your stories as it may some time to find an appropriate home. Always be prepared to read, revise and re-work before submission. Hopefully, your stories will find a published home in less than twelve attempts!

Please share how many outings it took for one of your stories to get published. We'd love to know the numbers. Can you beat twelve?

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Fail better

I'm probably not the only writer to have Samuel Beckett's famous words propped above my desk: 

"Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better." 

February seemed to be a black month of increasing failures. The significant one being a rejection from the BBC for my radio drama. As it was my first attempt, then I must take heed of Beckett and "Try again"! For the record I'm not a fan of the F-word, I prefer to think of 'getting things wrong' rather than failing, as we often learn the most valuable lessons from getting things wrong...

Earlier this week (3 March 2014) I heard a wonderful R4 programme coincidentally called "The value of failure". Here is a link to the episode on writing, where Irish Man-Booker award winning novelist (The Gathering), Anne Enright "considers her experiences of a writer's life - and of having her words judged by the world". I love how she starts by sharing her desire to get a tattoo declaring "200 words a day". Now that would be a goal! Because this would save her answering the most commonly asked question. 

Enright tells a wonderful story of Irish writer, Flann O'Brien (1911 - 1966), whose 2nd book 'The Third Policeman' was rejected by Longman's publishing house during WWII. He was so ashamed by this failure that he told his drinking mates that on driving to Donegal the pages of the book flew out of the car window and were lost forever. (Perhaps he didn't own a dog?) He kept the manuscript hidden in the sideboard for the rest of his life. After his death it was discovered by his wife and finally published. Enright suggested O'Brien was "saving face by getting a laugh out of his failure". We have to remember that this was in the days when one rejection was sufficient to bury a book forever ...

Throughout the programme Enright shares some gems of her own about writing. Here are a few I jotted down:
"The book you're writing is not the final book. The final book's the one you'll re-write many many times. The one you're working on any given day is the inferior version - a failed book. The perfect book, the one you have in your head, can never be approached - you'll never hold it in your hands."

"If you're at your desk then your muse knows where to find you. I don't do inspiration, just work and hope for the best."
[Thankfully, my muse seems to find me even if I'm out swimming, walking or eating teacakes with Wendy]

and finally ... "If it's a book written for the right reasons and with enough skill then it will find its home and its readers and it will be its own kind of success." Though I think her caveat in that comment is "enough skill", say no more...

Don't give up on that writing project. Keep writing what you believe in and if you do fail (get it wrong) then next time try harder and fail better.
And let me know what you would get as a 'writing' tattoo.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Sussex short story competitions

West Sussex is a very creative county, absolutely chock full of writers, and boasts two National Short Story competitions, which are closing at the end of March. You don't have to live in West Sussex to enter either of these, so read on for details ...

West Sussex Writers' 2014 National Short Story Competition:
Click here for full details.

Maximum word count: 3000
Closing Date: 31st March 2014
Fee: £5 per entry
Prizes:  1st prize £200; 2nd prize £75; 3rd prize £50 
The winners will also receive a critique from our final judge, Pam Weaver.

You can read the 2013 winning stories here and comments from Simon Brett (WSW Patron) and Sarah Palmer (WSW Chair) here.

Steyning Festival 2014 Short Story Competition:
Click here for full details.

“A popular part of the annual Steyning Festival is its short story competition, open to anyone who would like to enter a previously unpublished piece of fiction of up to 1500 words. The theme for this
year is “Home Thoughts, from Abroad”.

Photo right is St Andrew's Church, Steyning.

Judging and prize-giving
The competition will be judged by a Festival panel and a senior member of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
Prizes will be awarded in three categories
• Best story by a young author (aged 16-19), £100
• Best story by an overseas resident visiting Britain £250
• Best story by a British resident, £250
In addition, three submissions will be marked for special commendation in the competition, and will receive £50 each.

The previous winner of the Steyning Festival Short Story prize in 2012 (Festival runs every two years) was The Indoor Writer, you can read about her marvellous day out at the prize giving ceremony here.

Monday, 24 February 2014

Holdfast magazine: Animals, beasts and creatures

Issue2 of Holdfast magazine came out yesterday including the Indoor Writer's short story 'Down came a blackbird', along with a wonderful original illustration by Jessica Carmen Shamley. Read it here. Do check out the whole magazine, some terrific fiction and articles. I love the fact they include a themed playlist to compliment your reading.