Three ‘Wise’ Men!

Three Wise Men ClipartI know it’s a tad early but I’m embracing Christmas with a change of header and an unashamedly cheesy title for this post.

It just so happens that I’m featuring three chaps on the blog today, so I couldn’t resist it. (For ‘wise’ – which makes them all sound about 102 – you might want to substitute ‘informative’, ‘helpful’ and ‘inspiring’!)

I like to think they’re each carrying their favourite tipple (and the one at the end is actually licking his lips in anticipation..)

Wise Man#1 First off, it’s the maestro of horror and lots of other genres, Mr Stephen King – Free Short Story Competition c/d 18th Dec 2015

The Guardian‘s running a competition, in conjunction with Hodder & Stoughton (Stephen King’s UK publisher). The man himself will be choosing the winner, from a shortlist of six and the prize includes publication on The Guardian website and a ‘chance to improve your skills at a Guardian Masterclass’.

Your story (maximum 4000 words) must be inspired by and reflect some aspect of the brief King has provided:

There’s something to be said for a shorter, more intense experience. It can be invigorating, sometimes even shocking, like a waltz with a stranger you will never see again, or a kiss in the dark, or a beautiful curio for sale at a street bazaar..

There are more details here on how to enter the competition (and sorry guys in foreign parts, but you have to be a UK resident to enter).

Even if you’re not intending to enter the competition, you might find this post useful. It’s by novelist James Smythe: ’10 things I learned about Writing from Stephen King’.

I’ve said it before (yawn!) but if you’ve never read Stephen King’s ‘On Writing‘, get it on your Christmas pressie list NOW!

Wise Man#2 50 MistakesSecond wise chappie is Mr Alex Gazzola.. (take a bow).. who has just launched a new e-book – 50 Mistakes Beginner Writers Make

(I wanted to be the first person to write a review but I see that Mr Simon Whaley – who is also wise, by the way – has beaten me to it! :()

One of the things I always tell my students is that they’ve got much more chance of having non-fiction published, than fiction. Not necessarily because it’s ‘easier’ (because I don’t think any kind of writing is easy) but because there are more markets and a little less competition.

Think of all those thousands and thousands of publications (not just the ones in WH Smiths!) – and all the websites – that need articles to fill them. Yes, many of them have in-house writers but a large percentage of them will accept – and pay for – work by freelancers.

If you’re interested in writing non-fiction, then have a look at Alex Gazzola’s excellent blog, Mistakes Writers Make .

Interestingly, on the very day that I was thinking of asking him ‘When are you going to turn your blog into a BOOK?’ – he emailed me to say he’d done exactly that! (Spooky, I know, but it’s the truth).

This is the first in a series but don’t be put off by that little word ‘beginner’. As Alex says himself (ahem, 55% of the way through the book – just to prove I’ve put my money where my mouth is and not only bought his new book but read it..) “this ebook is aimed at those just starting out in non-fiction and aiming to write for magazines, newspapers and online markets. But I hope fiction writers and established journalists, for instance, might find something useful here too…”

And I think you will. Whether it’s advice on how to long to leave it before you chase up your query, or whether you should worry about your idea being ‘stolen’ or what you need to consider when you actually write an article, there’s lots of good stuff in this e-book and it’s all written in a friendly, relaxed style.

Wise Man#3 Finally, someone I’ve never mentioned on this blog before: Mr Christopher Fielden.

Christopher’s website includes a huge and well-maintained list of writing competitions and also some useful advice. For example, whether cash prizes from writing competitions are taxable (er, yes, I’m sorry but they are!).

He also runs a wild and wacky humorous writing competition (the current one closes 31st July 2016, £7 entry fee), which involves the winner being taken ‘to Hull and Back’!

Have a look at the website here for more info.

The competition has a fabulous first prize of £1000 (in addition to going to Hull and back..! And appearing in the competition anthology), is open to anyone, anywhere and any style or genre of story will be considered, including children’s, as long as it is humorous or funny in some way.

To-Hull-and-Back-Front-Cover-vsmall_000

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20 Responses to Three ‘Wise’ Men!

  1. Sandra says:

    Some cracking links there, Helen, especially the Christopher Fielden one. I trawl through magazines regularly and compile my own list, but even a cursory glance at his site shows me I’m missing a shed-load of comps. I can’t imagine how much work must go into compiling that – I know how long it takes me.
    I was going to enter the Stephen King comp and started a story, but then I trawled through the conditions again and I don’t like 12.1. Fortunately the story developed well, and I’ve submitted elsewhere.
    Many thanks for this post. 🙂

    • Yes, I see what you mean about 12.1, Sandra. Some people might not like that and the implications that Hodder can do whatever they like with your story, whether you win or not. I like to think they would be fair (maybe I’m just an optimist – or stupid!) but if you’re concerned about any rules in a competition, you’re right to send your writing somewhere else! Good luck in the other competition!

    • Alex Gazzola says:

      I have to say I’m not keen on 12.1 at all either. Has anyone considered taking it up with them? I’ve moaned at competition organisers before via social media – as have many others – and they can sometimes be persuaded to moderate their T&Cs … I might drink from my large bottle and give them hell ….

      • Sorry – another psychic moment, there – I was just about to ask you what you thought about rule 12.1!!! I’d be quite happy to take it up with them but I’m sure you can put it more eloquently! (especially when you’ve drunk from your large bottle!)

      • Sandra says:

        I was recently shortlisted, and then Highly Commended but not placed in a competition. I’d failed to realise that HC entries would be printed on the website. Since there was an entry fee, it really means you are paying to “spend” a story that has prospects. On that occasion I asked them to remove me from the HC list and they were very good about it. I’m a lot more careful about T&C’s these days. 🙂

      • Alex Gazzola says:

        Well, I did take it up with them. But I went right to the top … from one king (who’d not had a snifter …) to another King …. if you get my drift!

      • Wow, I’m impressed that you’ve gone to the ‘top man’ – the King himself! (no, not Elvis!). Anyway, do let us know if you get a response…!

  2. juliathorley says:

    Thanks for all this lovely advice and links ‘n’ stuff. I’m working on something that might do for the Stephen King comp.

    • Julia, I’m thinking I might try something for the Stephen King comp too (if I’m brave enough!). Just make sure you read all the rules and are happy to submit. As Sandra has pointed out, 12.1 could be interpreted as a little ‘dodgy’! (but I’m sure it won’t stop lots of people entering)

  3. Thank you for sharing Helen, I’m off to buy Alex’s book and check out his blog. Then I’ll nip over to Christopher Fielden’s to check out his blog.

  4. Thanks, Maria, I’m sure the guys will appreciate your support!

  5. Patsy says:

    Lots of useful info there. Thanks.

  6. Arline says:

    Hi I’ve just found your blog today and am looking forward to having a look around! I’ve just started my own writing blog to start putting some of my work out there! We will see where the journey takes me, thanks for all of the info and inspiration!x

  7. Alex Gazzola says:

    If I’m the middle wise-man, then it’s quite appropriate I’m carrying the largest bottle of tipple …
    Huge thanks for the mention, Helen – and I’m chuffed that you’re enjoying the ebook.
    And yes – also agree re: On Writing being a must-read – for all kinds of writers.
    Thanks for the link to the Fielden page – a new one to me!

  8. Nicola says:

    Helen, forgive me for hijacking your blog page. I couldn’t find an email address. MANY CONGRATULATIONS on winning the PF serial competition. I am looking forward to reading it, especially as it is set in the place I grew up in. So pleased for you!!!

  9. Thank you so much, Nicola! I will be ‘talking’ more about it in my next post – hopefully later today!

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