Welcome to my blog

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

Monday 29 July 2013

Monsters under the bed

The Indoor Writer recently entered the Retreat West short story competition where the prize is a day's writing retreat in Exeter, you can read more here about the organisation and their writing competitions. The good news is her story 'Monsters' was Runner-up in the June competition (theme: A pet) judged by West Sussex author Jane Rusbridge ('The Devil's Music' and 'Rook'). Her prize is an Amazon voucher, which will come in handy for the MA reading list! The feedback from Jane was useful too.

The next competition is themed: Map and closes 30th August.

You can also read 'Monsters' here and the winning story 'Pet' by Sally Alexander.

Monday 22 July 2013

Fancy three courses of competitions?

There are some great writing competitions closing at the end of July. I've been checking them out and here are three tasty courses of competitions you could sample...

All of these are closing on 31 July, so get your entries in quick!

Fancy a flash entrĂ©e? Regular readers of this blog know I’m always partial to a bit of flash and this is atempting starter with prize money of £250 for 500 words.
Inktears Flash Fiction Competition 2013:
Full details of entry rules here

  • Flash stories must be 500 words or less
  • Entry fee £3 for 1, £5 for 2 etc
  • 1st prize = £250, Runner-up = £50, 4 x Highly Commended = £25, plus all winners are published on site along with author biogs
  • Online entry
  • Unusually you can submit pieces that have been already published in mags or online (this is rare!) – as long as you retain own copyright.
How about a substantial main course? Here’s a short story competition with a top prize of £500. Hmm, wonder how many truffles I could buy with that?

Wells Literature Festival Short Story Prize 2013:
The main judge is the prolific womag writer, novelist and writing tutor Della Garton.
If you still have room, then why not try this light dessert competition, which sounds a bit of fun. FREE to enter and you only have to write one line.
  • Short stories must be 1000 – 2000 words in length (note there is a lower limit)
  • Entry fee £5 (you need to download the entry form from website)
  • 1st Prize = £500, 2nd =£200, 3rd = £100
  • Online entry via website
  • Entries must be unpublished and not entered elsewhere
  • Prize giving ceremony at the Wells Literature Festival on Sunday 13 October (HelenYendall came 3rd last year, read her post here – sadly the stories are no longer available from this link)
  • And they have a Crime Novel category too
Fleeting Books and Wrecking Ball Press are “looking for a new rule for writers, a single line of advice, by an emerging or an established writer”.
  • You can submit (via email) up to 3 lines of writing advice
  • Winner will see their entry appear in: No cheap tricks: a guide for writers by Matt Shoard (to be published by Wrecking Ball Press in Nov 2013)
  • FREE to enter
  • Winner will also be invited to its launch events and win £100 cash
Every writer has some words of wisdom on our glorious art form. Why not share them and win some cash!

Piggy menu photo curtesy of Shirley Sexton. Er, LitPig doesn't speak French so please don't translate the menu for him...

Friday 12 July 2013

EXPECTED by Sarah England

Welcome to my special guest author, the lovely Sarah England. Sarah originally trained as a nurse in Sheffield and then worked as a medical representative for nearly 20 years, specialising in mental health. She had always wanted to write fiction, but did not begin until around 8 years ago, prompted by a house move and relocation to the South coast. Since then she has published 140 short stories, mostly in national magazines and various anthologies; and most recently a 3 part detective serial in Woman’s Weekly. ‘3am and Wide Awake’ was released in May 2013 by Alfie Dog Fiction - a collection of 25 thrillers, many supernatural or medically based - two of her predominant themes. (It was one of their bestselling books in June) She lives in Dorset with her husband, Don, and spaniel, Harry.

‘Expected’ is Sarah’s first novel - a comedy launched by Crooked Cat Publishing on 28th June, 2013. (An excellent and auspicious date – it was the Indoor Writer’s birthday)

Q:  What can we "expect" in your new novel Expected, can you tell us more about it?

'Expected' is a contemporary comedy about a modern girl from a council estate, who is trying to have a crack at independence and making something of herself, but is getting more and more into a mess as she makes so many mistakes. It is, if you like, a comedy of errors, as my girl, Sam Sweet, appears to be her own worst enemy.

First, she's with the wrong man (slimy Simon the surgeon), but hasn't really realised just how peevish he is until it's way too late and the wedding is booked. Also her mother is desperate for grandchildren, and as Sam has a morbid fear of childbirth this isn't going down too well with either her mother or her fiance- both now using manipulative tactics to make Sam do what is expected of her. So why doesn't Sam just leave? Well she's a failed psychiatric nurse (bit of a problem with the patients running the place when she was in charge) and now she injects facial fillers and it's going lumpy. Because of her the whole company seems to be in free-fall and her job is on the line. To cope with all the stress she starts to eat chocolate like supplies are about to run out, and shops like a demon on one credit card after the other. Pass the woman a JCB because the hole is getting deeper and deeper.... and only then, when she is trapped, in debt and fat, does she meet the man of her dreams...

Q: You've had a lot of success with writing and selling short stories, particularly to women's magazines. Did you have to change your writing routine to work on the novel?

No I am still as erratic as ever. I can tap away for 5 hours on my laptop and not notice it's gone dark and the husband is starving... or do nothing at all and lie around like a drama queen...

Q: Many of your short stories are incredibly funny (they make me laugh-out-loud). Is humour a big part of Expected? And can you share any top tips on writing humour?

Oh thanks - I am so glad I made you laugh! Yes well I am a bit bipolar in the literary sense - veering from either comedy at the one end of the scale to horror at the other ('3am and Wide Awake'), and very little in between.  'Expected' is definitely comedy - the Sod's law variety - the 'if it can go wrong it will' type - poor old Sam. It is also contemporary and already a tad controversial.

Writing humour - well I'm the kind of gal who gets stuck in revolving doors, flies out of the car with my foot wound up in the seat belt, or says the wrong thing - loudly - at the exact moment the room goes quiet. I grew up being an object of enormous amusement to my parents. I remember being taken pony riding when I was about six. The pony sneezed and I flew over its ears. I looked up, bawling my eyes out, only to see my parents pissing themselves laughing. So I'd say it's kind of natural for me to see the humour in everything.   

Q: If you were planning a summer garden party which of your characters (if any) would you invite from Expected?

Well Sam would get drunk on cider but she'd be a good laugh and an endless source of 'thank God that wasn't me' kind of amusement, so definitely Sam.
And Joel - the hunky American dream man - oh boy yes, let's have gorgeous Joel!! Um ...and Minnie, Sam's best friend and boss - she's funny! Now that she believes her boyfriend, Toby, does not fancy Sam (God he's such a liar)...

Q: Who would you choose to play the lead roles from the novel in the film/TV series?

Christina Hendricks for Sam. Like a lot of young women Sam has no self -esteem and sees herself as a fat, ginger girl with no prospects and no class. But Joel sees a va-va-voom Christina Hendricks kind of gal - and so if Christina could dress down and then vamp it up....yup - that should do it. Now when it comes to Joel - well I'd have to have a casting couch, I think, and kind of take my time interviewing prospective male candidates....hmm... tough job but ya know...

Q: Expected is published by Crooked Cat Publishing, can you share how you the deal came about? And most importantly: where can we buy copies of Expected?

Crooked Cat are an upcoming modern, young company who specialise in online/digital publishing but also offer print-on-demand for paperback options. I had 'Expected' accepted about a year ago with an American company, which disbanded on the eve my book was due out - did I mention I was Queen of Jinx? The co-owner took me with her as she left to be an agent, but I didn't hear anything for months and then she said she was no longer an agent. A year had passed while I continued to write for magazines. I then sent it to Crooked Cat and they took it straight away... hurray! I just want to make people laugh... and here it is!

'Expected' is on the Crooked Cat bookstore, on Amazon (kindle) or paperbook and Smashwords.

You can find out more about Sarah on her website. Why not tweet her at @sarahengland16 and Sarah is also on Facebook and Linkedin

Sam Sweet stars in her own tasty trailer here (look out for the topless hunk!). After watching this I can’t wait to read EXPECTED.

And finally Sarah is giving away a FREE short story download from Smashwords here (coupon = SP93M), a short comedy called ‘Desperate Women’. Thanks Sarah!

Tuesday 9 July 2013

A good year for the poppies

It's a good year for the poppies. I keep driving past a field peppered with red and finally stopped to take these photos. At 10am it was a popular spot with 5 other people already in the field. I'm guessing the Countryfile photography competition is going to get a handsome crop of poppy pics.

The Indoor Writer has been taking advantage of the summer outburst and as you can see (below) may
have to be renamed to the Outdoor Writer. Yes, she did get some writing done - a one act comedy play was polished off in no time.

And sunshine and showers is definitely making it a terrific year for the roses. These are devouring the sun like greedy felines.

On Friday I'll be back on writing topics and am "expecting" a very special guest to drop by. She originally trained as a nurse in Sheffield and then went on to work as a medical representative for nearly 20 years, specialising in mental health. Starting to write over 8 years ago she has had around 140 short stories published, mostly in national magazines and various anthologies and most recently a 3-part detective serial in Woman's Weekly. Can you guess who it is yet? Pop back on Friday 12 July to hear all about my special guest's new novel: Expected.

Monday 1 July 2013

June round-up

OK, it's that time of the month to hand over to The Indoor Writer and her summary of June subs:
June whirled past and I hardly seemed to be writing anything, then checking over my submissions I found I'd actually written 3 new stories. The only one I distinctly remember is a flash story, which I penned in Sheffield Library whilst Handsome Hubby and the Tame Teenager were off exploring the University (Open Day for prospective students). It was a lovely old building and wonderfully peaceful place to set up with a laptop and write.

Write 1 Sub:  2 new short stories written, 1 new flash piece, 20 submissions (a record!)
Re-start the novel: My plan of drafting a synopsis and start first chapter by end of June failed dismally. Must do better...
Crack Woman's Weekly: You can read about my adventures with Wendy at the Woman's Weekly Workshop here. Have sent off two stories post the workshop, watch this space...
Write and sell a serial: Am waiting on success of WW stories (keeping optimistic) before attempting to pitch the mag a serial. 

Still pondering goals for second half of 2013 and will share these later in July.

The Good: 
Short story Highly Commended in Writers' Forum
Flash story published on National Flash Fiction Day's Flash Flood Journal (140 stories published over 24hrs).

The Bad:
Income: ZILCH
Rejection from People's Friend, Stinging Fly, 2 x TAB Fiction Feast (one came on my birthday, cruel).
Didn't make the shortlist/longlist etc for several competitions: Swanwick, Curry Mallet, Exeter Writers.

Hoping all the subs in June will pay dividends later. The actual month was fairly depressing with several rejections - they all come at once, don't they? May check out the Insecure Writers group, as I'm feeling pretty mixed up about this writing lark right now.

Keep writing and submitting...