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

Monday 25 June 2012

Steyning Festival Short Story Competition

On 6th June the indoor writer was invited to attend the prize giving ceremony for the Steyning Festival Short Story Competition. Her short story had reached the final three and the awards would be announced and given out during the event. Below she shares her special day...

It was a day of sunshine and showers, but the South Downs gleamed lush and green as we drove up the mile long driveway to Wiston House. I'd been invited, plus guest, to the Steyning Festival Short Story Award luncheon and had no idea where in the top three slots my story had come. Wiston House (a sixteenth century Grade 1 listed building) sits in the shadow of Chanctonbury Ring (see photo above right) amongst 6,000 acres of parkland. The magnificent house (see photo above left) is owned by the Goring family and is now a conference/wedding/events centre. It is home to the Wilton Park conference organisation, which was first created in 1946, inspired by Winston Churchill, to help re-establish peace and democracy in Europe after WWII.
At 11.30am we were ushered into chair-filled room for the reading of the winning stories. Sara Bowers (owner of Steyning Bookshop) led the proceedings and local novelists read the stories. The children's competition entries were read first and the prizes awarded. The two stories were of an exceptionally high standard - clearly writers of the future. Sara explained that the competition judge Simon Brett, acclaimed crime novelist, scriptwriter (he wrote the 'After Henry' radio series) and patron of West Sussex Writers, had read ALL the entries himself before selecting the top 3 and 2 highly commended. An admirable feat for any writing competition judge!
The three stories were then read out - and still we didn't know the placing. Brighton crime novelist Elly Griffiths read my entry. It was both enthralling and deeply embarrassing to hear the words I'd written read aloud by a professional - even though nobody around us knew I was the author. As I listened to her reading it really didn't seem like my story at all, it was transformed. All of the room listened quietly and their applause seemed to show pleasure, but as it was my creation I couldn't detach myself sufficiently from the experience to judge. This was such a powerful and wonderful moment that I wish I could replay it over and over (particularly when another rejection pings into my mail box).
Simon Brett then stood and began to critique the stories in turn. Finally reality dawned, as he worked through the stories in order, that as mine was read last then it was the winner. I gripped hubby and whispered: 'I think I've won'. After that it becomes a blur. I stepped up to receive my winning cheque from Simon (see photo above right) and talked with him and the other readers. Several people came to congratulate me and I can't remember a thing I said to any of them, other than thank-you of course!
We all moved through to the Great Hall (see photo left) for the excellent two-course lunch. A group of us from West Sussex Writers sat took up one of the centre tables, but again I was still mostly floating amongst the clouds at this point. After lunch I chatted a while with the lovely Elly Griffiths and then explored the still dripping gardens with hubby (my official photographer).
The whole day was a delightful treat and a memory I shall treasure for a long, long time. The prize is the biggest I've won to date and I still haven't decided what to spend the money on.

Monday 18 June 2012

Down came a blackbird

This is Bertie, a very tame blackbird who visits our garden on a daily basis. In fact he's usually waiting on the kitchen doorstep at breakfast, beak almost pressed up against the glass doors, for his morning feast of raisins. He's been calling now for over two years and has raised numerous broods in that time. We've even been priviledged to see him feeding his fledglings on the doorstep too. And now several of his offspring are regular visitors. In fact the blackbird population loves raisins so much we're getting through a packet of Sainsburys' Californian Raisins (they're particularly juicy and a clear favourite with the garden birds) every week.

Handsome hubby was becoming rather jealous of the small, dark and sultry Bertie and joked that one day the indoor writer would be carried off to the blackbird's love nest. Which prompted her to pen a short story on the whole illicit affair. You can read 'Down came a blackbird' here, where it recently came second in the Exeter Writers' Short Story Prize 2012.

Do read the winning story 'Driftwood' by Jo Barket Scott as it is both haunting and emotionally charged.

So you never can tell where inspiration will come from - sometimes it can be perched right on your doorstep.

Monday 11 June 2012

Connect your writing

If you like a writing challenge and want a competition with a theme then how about this one:

3 into 1 Short Story Competition
You also have the satisfaction of knowing some of the entry fee is donated to The Arthrogryposis Group charity, click here to read more.

Details of the competition are here.
The story must incorporate and LINK these three items:
  • a black queen chess piece
  • a bunch of fresh flowers
  • a £10 note
Intriguing huh? I love these type of competitions as they really get the creative juices flowing.
Any style of genre is acceptable.
  • Up to 3,000 words
  • Judges are authors Michael Dobbs (remember 'House of Cards') and Adele Geras (former Costa Award judge)
  • £7 entry fee per story, payable via paypal or cheque
  • Submission deadline is 31 July 2012
  • Email entries welcome (and postal), email to storycompetition3into1@yahoo.co.uk
  • Story must be your own work and unpublished
  • 1st Prize - £1000, 2nd - £500, 3rd - £300, 4th - £200 and best 20 stories will be published in anthology
  • If posting include a separate cover sheet with title of entry and contact details, if emailing then include details in body of email.
  • Read all entry rules carefully here.

And here's an anthology looking for poems or short fiction on the theme of CONNECTIONS. They want "interesting interpretations of the this theme from science to community, the physical to the thoughtful".

  • Paragramdotcom has an open call for submissions for anthology to be published November 2012
  • No fee to enter
  • Poetry of up to 40 lines, or short fiction up to 500 words
  • Submission deadline is midnight 1 July 2012
  • You can submit one poem and one piece of prose
  • Work must be original and unpublished
  • email sjbpoetry.gmail.com (put SUBMISSION in the subject line of email). Include your name and contact details, and a one sentence biography.
  • Successful authors for the anthology will be listed on the website in August.
  • Unfortunately if you do make the anthology then you don't get a complimentary copy nor any royalties, you will have to buy one and they should cost no more than £7. Not everyone supports this kind of initiative, guess it depends how badly you want to see your work in print...

Sunday 10 June 2012

The Word Hut

The Word Hut runs regular short story competitions and also showcases new writers. One of the indoor writer's short stories was recently longlisted. She was then interviewed about her writing. Read her interview here and her showcased story 'AWaste of Time' here.

Tuesday 5 June 2012

West Country Writers - a literary weekend

Reading other writer's blogs can be entertaining, informative and even beneficial. Last year I read about the West Country Writers' Association and their annual congress on Sally Jenkins' excellent blog. Sally had been awarded a bursary to attend the annual event (held in Plymouth for 2011) and gave it a great write-up. As the indoor writer hails from that part of the world (she was born in Plymouth and still calls herself a Devonian) she had a go and applied for the 2012 bursary. The bursary award offered a writer full access to the 61st annual weekend's literary talks, dinners and included all accommodation and meals - so it was worth winning (click here for details of the 2012 event). To cut a long story short she was awarded the bursary and attended the event held at Bailbrook Hotel (outside Bath) in April (20-22). The indoor writer recounts her weekend below:

It was a damp weekend, hence the picture of the hotel (above) looks rather eerie and misty. But the wonderfully warm welcome from Patricia McAughey (Treasurer), Fiona McAughey (Secretary) and Lyn Carnaby (Chairman) made up for the weather. In fact all the West Country Writers I met were lovely - a really friendly bunch, who clearly love writing, books and eating (there were lots of opportunity to eat and network at this event).

The event kicked off with an interesting talk from The History Press, followed by a Civic Reception held at the Mayor's Parlour in the Guildhall Bath. This was a rare treat, a chance to meet the Mayor and also hear about the special treasures displayed within the parlour. We then returned to the hotel for a lovely dinner and a chance to meet more members of the association.

After the AGM on Saturday morning (impressively starting at 8.30am) Penny Bryde gave a fascinating talk on fashion and Bath in the 18th century. The annual luncheon (3 delicious courses) was attended by the Mayor, Mayoress and the assoication's President Lady Rachel Billington - who introduced the lunch with a evocative speech about memories and writing. Post lunch attendees could do their own thing and visit Bath. There was also a talk on the healing properties of Bath Spa waters by John Harcup (Vice-President). The day concluded with the inspiring Christopher Fry Memorial Lecture given by Linda Hooper on how she develops her historical research into novels. Linda writes as Melinda Hammond/ Sarah Mallory and had just been awarded a Romantic Novelists Association award for her Regency novel The Dangerous Lord Darrington. Before we retired to dinner I had my moment of fame at the awards ceremony, where Chairman Lyn Carnaby (see photo on right) presented the bursary certificate. The winners of the short story competition were also announced and the winner read out his very entertaining story.

The event came to a lovely conclusion on Sunday morning following another terrific talk given by Dr John Sugden on the Nelsons of Bath, from which we learnt about Horatio, his family and their impact on Bath. The final talk was all about blogging and I was delighted to meet the fabulous Lynne Hatwell aka Dovegreyreader. If you haven't yet discovered her wonderful scribbles then do investigate here, this is a blog for all those who are genuinely passionate about books and anything literary. She is also a lovely lady and I could've listened to her talking about books for hours, days even...

This is an unusual event in that it doesn't feature talks/workshops on the art of writing. The literary weekend is usually themed around its location. The 2013 event is planned to be held in Torquay (5-7 April 2013) and will be themed on Agatha Christie (she lived locally). All of the talks were interesting and stimulating, though not necessarily about writing they certainely prompted many ideas and stimulated further topics for investigation (I came away with several new plotlines for short stories). I would recommend checking out the programme for 2013. And do seriously consider applying for the bursary - it really is worth winning.

Monday 4 June 2012

Aflie Dog - the new website for short stories

Have you checked out Alfie Dog Limited yet? This a brand new website offering a multitude of short stories for download "to read at your leisure". The indoor writer currently has one story on the site (The Minstrel's Gallery) and a second will be available from 13 June (Twinkle, Twinkle).

Short stories are available to buy at 39p, which is cheaper than any newspaper or magazine and even cheaper than chocolate! You can search by author or genre and there is always a mini summary of the story. You can also select your download:

  • e-pub format suitable for most e-readers excluding Kindle
  • mobi - for Kindle
  • pdf - for reading on large screens and formatted for printing

Each week there is a new Story of the Week highlighted.

If you write short stories then you can submit (click here for submission process) - the process is really straightforward and they respond very quickly. It's a good website to showcase your work and possibly earn some money too.

You can also follow on Twitter @Alfiedoglimited and Facebook to hear about new stories.