A Positively Productive Give-Away! (and some other stuff..)

To celebrate the completion of that blasted tax return and because I think we all need a bit of cheering up and motivation in chilly grey January, I’m giving away a BOOK! And not just any book – it’s Simon Whaley’s brand new publication, ‘The Positively Productive Writer’. Read more about it here.

Simon’s a full-time freelance writer, creative writing tutor and all-round jolly nice chap – who knows his stuff – and I was sure this book would be well worth a read – and it is! (I’ve splashed out and bought two – one for you and one for me).

I’ve only read the first chapter and I’m already feeling inspired and motivated and more productive!

So, if you’d like to win a copy, just post a comment on here, saying why you’d like to win – and I’ll put you in the draw, which will take place on Sunday 12th Feb, two weeks today.

The competition is open to anyone but if I’m not able to contact the winner within two weeks of the closing date (and this has happened to me before..!) then I reserve the right to give the book to the next person selected by the ‘random number generator’ (I’ve still got to work out how to do that, by the way, but it can’t be that hard, can it?!).

Good luck!

Short Story Competitions x 3

I mentioned the Telegraph’s ‘Short Story Club’ a few posts back. It now has 1000 members, which, as moderator Louise Doughty says “surely nails the publishing industry’s often-repeated assertion that nobody is interested in short fiction these days.”

The latest of Louise’s columns, which talks about ‘gripping first lines’ and invites you to post yours on the site, is available to read here.

If you want to enter the Club’s first short story competition, you don’t need to ‘join’ – just email your entry (max 2000 words) by 31st Jan to storycomp@telegraph.co.uk

I had a go and sent a story of mine that’s been floating around for a while. It’s been shortlisted and ‘highly commended’ in various competitions but has never won anything. I think lots of us have stories like that. But I like it and I am determined to find it a home somewhere this year!

Talking of competitions, if you entered the Peter Barry estate agent’s short story competition (or even if you didn’t), you might be interested to see the results, which they are drip-feeding, here. They’ve shortlisted 12 (out of 217 entries) and they’re publishing them at a rate of two per day (there are four on the site so far). I’m keeping my fingers crossed that my story is going to appear over the next few days.

The stats for this competition make interesting reading. They disqualified 8 for not following the rules and they had 18 entries in the last hour of the competition – mine was one of those!

Mslexia is running its regular short story competition – details here (closing date is 19th March 2012). There are some great prizes but a hefty entry fee of £10 – so I’d say think carefully and only send in your very best work if you’re going to have a go at this one (plus – you have to be a woman! Sorry guys!). Judge Tessa Hadley says that short stories need to be ‘unexpected’ and ‘surprising’.

And there’s also an article about writing short stories and an exercise on the website which is interesting. I don’t subscribe to Mslexia any more (had to cut back a bit!) but I find the website has almost as much stuff on it as the magazine – and it’s free!


And finally, to celebrate National Libraries Day on 4th February, there are lots of events happening in libraries throughout the country and specifically in the West Midlands (read more about it here).

Some are holding coffee mornings, others have got book sales or reader and writer events. As we’re all aware, libraries are under threat these days so try to show your support if you can by going along (you might even enjoy it!)

This entry was posted in Books, Competitions, Events, Good Causes, Ideas, Magazines, Short Stories, West Midlands and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

52 Responses to A Positively Productive Give-Away! (and some other stuff..)

  1. I’d like to win the book because right now my writing is at a low and I need something to inspire me and get me going again.

  2. Tracy Fells says:

    I’ve had my eye on Simon Whaley’s new book so it would be perfect to win a copy! I am a positive and productive person but when it comes to my writing though I’m still productive I rarely feel positive, and more often sink into that dark, dank place… you know the room in the basement of your mind that’s papered with rejection slips.
    With Mslexia stories it really is worth reading back issues and previous winners – as they do pick a certain style of story, I feel the published stories err on the gloomy side, often quite depressing reads…but maybe that’s just me!

  3. Jo Derrick says:

    I love reading Simon Whaley’s columns in Writing Magazine, and he is an inspiration. I love his down-to-earth advice. I’d love to win a copy of his book. It looks as if I’ll be entering The Telegraph Short Story Competition at the 11th hour, as well as a few others! I think the Mslexia entry fees are always too high and it is off-putting. I’m not sure my style fits in with the kinds of stories they usually publish either, so I may give that one a miss!

  4. Lauren says:

    I would like to win a copy of the book as I have also ‘had my eye’ on it – the cover is very eye catching. Like Heather I’m at a low ebb on my writing – all seems very contrived and not flowing… so a book like this would be great. You were very kind to buy two… On the random number generator… you could use your calculator – if it’s a scientific sort – just press SHIFT and RAN and a number will appear like this: 0.397 or 0.531 and you could pick (beforehand) to choose the 1st, 2nd or 3rd number in the row to pick the winner. Or you could use http://www.random.org/ if you don’t have a scientific calculator. Thanks as always for an interesting and inspiring blog…

    • Lauren – thank you! (You are number 4, by the way!). That Random.org website was exactly the kind of thing I was looking for as it’s got a handy little random number generator on the right hand side of the page that will produce a number in seconds, so that’s what I’ll be using! Good luck in the draw

  5. Karen O'Connor says:

    I always read your blog, Helen, and really enjoy it. I also think Simon is a brilliant example of what hard work and persistence will do for your writing. I’ve had an eye on his career over the years (not in a creepy way, but just a sort of, oh look there’s that Simon guy again) and seen the increasing number of articles and books he’s brought out.

  6. Helen M Smith says:

    Hi Helen, Thanks for all the useful tips on your site. I would like to win a copy of the book because I could be productive if I just stopped making excuses not to write, put myself first for a change and just get on with it! The heart is willing but the head is constantly distracted!!

  7. Joan Reed says:

    I have been waiting for Simon’s book to be published as I really enjoy his blog. I need some inspiration as there has been a lull in writing in 2012 so far.

  8. Rebecca Mansell says:

    I’d like to win the book because I think Simon is very cute 😉 But I am also a full-time writer and have had the privilege of sharing emails with Simon when he has been kind enough to boost my confidence and share some tips. Thank you Helen for this generous competition.

  9. Julia says:

    I’d love Simon’s book. Go ahead: inspire me! Then let me pass on the book that others may be inspired, too.

  10. Francis says:

    Simon’s book sounds to be just what I need to be reading as displacement activity while I try to get round to writing – like I say, just what I need.

  11. Prue says:

    I need something to perk me up in the writing area! After a week spent catching up with a list of jobs, and doing battle with a virus, my get-up-and-go has got up and disappeared. My internal editor has become voluble too.

    Thanks for the link to the short-listed stories which I’ve just read. Good luck with your entry!

  12. I’d like to win Simon’s book, because although I’m reasonably productive, I’m not positively productive! I waste lots of time, then spend some of the remaining writing time wishing I’d got stuck into the writing earlier.

    Thanks for those comp stats – as you say they make for interesting reading.

  13. Hi Helen,

    I’d love a copy of Simon’s book. I’ve been following him, though not in a creepy way as Karen says above. He’s an example of how keeping on going pays off in the end. I used to subscribe to Mslexia, the short stories that win are frankly depressing, awful and not the kind I like to read. Keeping this in mind, I once entered a story of a menopausal detective who was incontinent. The worst story I’ve ever written in the hope it would come to the top of the pile. It didn’t. As you say, I have them bookmarked as lots of information is on the website. If I win, I’ll read it, make notes, then pass it on……. Thanks for the links.

  14. Suzy says:

    Anything that will help me stay motivated sounds perfect to me – sometimes (just sometimes and usually when I first wake up) I am full of ideas, inspiration and determination but it soon evaporates. This book may well be just what I need.

    • Thanks Prue (11), Patsy (12), Susan (13) and Suzy(14) – you are all in the draw and those are your ‘lucky numbers’ in the random number generator – which is beginning to sound a bit like something out of Star Wars! Don’t worry, you don’t have to remember your number or anything – I have a list!

  15. Whoever wins this is going to be one lucky winner! Mmmm I’ve got my fingers crossed it’s me! Thanks for all the links too. 🙂

  16. Jane Risdon says:

    i have read your articles with great interest and found them very informative. Thank you. I would like to win the book as I am in dire need of help and advice. I live and write alone and so find it hard to track someone down to read my finished efforts and therefore have no idea if I am making cardinal mistakes or not. Good luck to everyone and thanks again.

  17. Philippa says:

    I would love to win this book because writing as a career while living with chronic ill-health and disability can be a real challenge – all the extra positive motivation I can get is very welcome!

  18. Martin Scholes says:

    Why do I want to win? Because I am a writer. And I need help. Seriously!

  19. JohnY says:

    “The Positively Productive Writer” is firstly a great title containing an immediate intriguing “hook” an essential part as i have learned in my first three weeks of creative writing so may I lean on and quote Kate Long on the book as “Genuinely helpful in encouraging new writers to manage their time well and to believe in themselves, “(End Quote).
    Simon is without doubt a talented published writer and photographer so I as a virgin to this rather amazing, actually quite daunting literary World would love to win his book and follow such guidance by starting my “apprenticeship” with the right “tools” as Simon says to read, keep positive and use it as a motivational “tool” for yourself as-a-writer book.
    “Yes”, I thought that too, “a double-hook”, He is very good, I definitely need his book but in the meantime I think maybe I retired from my World of Nuclear and Geo-Thermal Generator Station engineering maintenance a little too early ? certainly my now chosen, long-wanted to be Writer and Poet direction seems more complicated yet really interesting and I am already in love with it.
    Thanks Helen

  20. Well firstly, Simon is the business! Secondly, I’m full of writing ambitions and have several projects on the go, but thirdly, idle and distractible. A good shove from this book would surely help me to, let’s say, fulfil my potential.

  21. LittleMe says:

    I would love to win this book as I have just gone back to work after maternity leave and my writing time has been cut down so much I am losing all hope of ever getting anything done. So I need a kick , somewhere, to get me going again.

  22. Pingback: The Positivity Grows! | Simon Whaley

  23. Kath says:

    I’d like to win this book to help me stay upbeat and motivated through my many rejections. In many ways I am a “Positively productive Writer’ I want to write, write, write. But I need to learn how to write with more purpose. Learn from my rejections and chase off that nasty little voice that’s likes to say ‘Why do you do this?’ Failing all that it would be a good excuse to give the writing a rest while I put up my feet and read. Pleas put my note in the Draw, Helen. Thanks. Kath

  24. Susan Boud says:

    Yet another rejection in today’s post.Feeling desperate….really need this book!

  25. Alice says:

    Hi Helen,
    Please enter me into the draw. I could certainly learn a lot from Simon and he clearly knows what he’s talking about!
    Whilst I’m fairly productive and have a lot of motivation, I’m hoping the book will show me how I can increase my chances of success.
    Thank you-it’s a very generous give-away!

  26. Ruth says:

    I came across this whilst searching for details of the Readers Digest competition which I’d already heard about and am planning to enter. I think there’s lots of useful information on your blog and I love the idea of the book give away. I’m fairly new to writing so any further inspiration and support I can get is great.

    • Thanks Kath (22), Susan (23), Alice (24) and Ruth (25) for your comments. You are now in the draw and those are your lucky numbers! Watch this space for a guest post by the man himself, Simon Whaley, coming very soon….!

  27. Ben says:

    Not here for the book though I’m sure it’s great reading. I actually ended up here because I googled the PeterBarry competition and this blog was one of the things that came up. I also entered the competition and the way they are realising the results makes me want to tear my hair out! lol its torture. hope i make it. keeping my fingers crossed though 🙂

    • Ben, I agree. They are really dragging it out! Why, for example, have they not published the next 2 shortlisted entries today?! Good luck anyway – let me know if your story appears on the shortlist!

  28. Rebecca Mansell says:

    Just wanted to ask; didn’t someone say that entering the Mslexia short story comp is a bit of a waste of time because they are looking for something a bit on the weird side of things? I’m not so good at the odd and unusual and trying to weigh up whether it is really worth the somewhat hefty fee! Love your blog Helen 🙂

    • Rebecca No, I don’t think the stories are ‘weird’ – if you look on the Mslexia website you can see the winners from the past couple of years – and the runners-up. They are looking for good writing – not necessarily ‘commercial’ short stories, of the type you might see in women’s magazines – but more ‘literary’. But I’ve never read any of the winners and thought ‘weird’! Although I’ve sometimes thought – ‘oh, strange choice – not as good as I was expecting!’!! Give yourself the best possible chance by sending your best writing and really polishing it before you post it off. 10 pounds is a steep fee but then, that probably puts some people off so perhaps it’s worth a go! Have a look at the winning stories here: http://www.mslexia.co.uk/whatson/msbusiness/scomp_past.php#scomp2011

      • Rebecca Mansell says:

        Thanks Helen, I think perhaps someone made a comment in the group we both belong to on Facebook about entering their competiton and said they wanted unusual stories and so sent them a very strange one! I know I read it somewhere but you know what its like, you read so much in one day 🙂 I think I will still try 🙂 Thanks again.

      • Rebecca I think someone said it on here actually and they’re entitled to their opinion but I don’t really agree with them!

  29. Clare Banks says:

    Well, I’d quite like this book because I’m new to writing. I’ve had the makings of a novel knocking around in my head for about 20 years, but during that time I’ve only managed to have a go at the first chapter which has been worked and re-worked to death. I think Simon’s book would be a great help in moving me onto chapter two. I had a number of displacement activities – washing, ironing, job-hunting (just took voluntary redundancy) – lined up as an excuse not to sit down and write this competition entry. But I’m glad I’ve done it now.

  30. Graham says:

    I would like the book I need all the help I can get – as you know from my work – say hello to all in your class on your Wednesday course

    • Thanks Graham – you are number 27! We miss you and Sian in the class! A couple of newbies have joined but otherwise, there are 12 of the ‘old’ group and they’re all doing some good work. Hope you’re both still writing!

  31. Rachel says:

    I would like a chance to win this book please, so I can do more and stop putting things off. I need a bit off a push. Thanks for a lovely blog.

  32. ColetteMellor says:

    I’ve just discovered your blog and it seems I have loads of great advice to catch up on. I’d love to win this book as I definitely need to be more positive and more productive! After a boost last summer when I was awarded second place in the Munch Bunch (dreaded voting!) competition, I now seem to have lost my mojo! Thanks for a great blog 🙂

  33. Helen Lowry says:

    You’ve heard of peaks and troughs, well at the moment I’m in a deep trough with my writing, so I’d like some inspiration and something to give me back my desire to write. I’d love to win a copy of Simon’s book as I get the impression it would help me a lot.

  34. mariemadigan says:

    Thanks for this generous competition Helen! I’d love to win the book as I am hopelessly disorganised in my private and writing lives (my day job uses up every shred of organisational potential I possess). I’ve just spent nine hours sorting through more than thirty notebooks which have been scattered around the house, lying under beds, buried in rucksacks/bike panniers. You’d think there must be something with potential in that lot, but if I don’t have a chance of finding it, well, it might as well not be written! I think Simon’s book would help a lot.
    I really enjoy your blog 🙂

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