Just Monkey-ing Around

I am one of the little figures up there! Eek!

I am one of the little figures up there! Eek!

Here I am, back from a trip to Center Parcs and just about in one piece.

In a mad moment, a few weeks ago, full of the joys of ‘IACGMOOH’, I declared that I wanted to do something ‘adventurous’ and ‘out of my comfort zone’. Fast forward a month and I found myself fifty feet in the air at Center Parcs, on an ‘aerial adventure’ which included two ‘mini’ zip wires and ended with a huge one, all the way over the lake!

I had worked on the theory that children do the ‘high wire’ activity, therefore it must be OK but I had forgotten two important things:

1. Kids are fearless!
2. They do things like climbing all the time. Which, er, I don’t.

So, be careful what you wish for! (This was a Christmas present!). Actually, apart from a few wobbles, it was great but I am still aching!

And I have a cold, which is what happens when you go to CP with four babies/toddlers!


Short Fiction

The womag (women’s magazine) market for fiction has recently shrunk still further, as Take a Break Fiction Feast announced the ‘departure’ of their Fiction Editor and a ‘reshuffle’ which means they will no longer take unsolicited manuscripts but will only consider stories from their ‘preferred list of suppliers’.

I am lucky enough to be on this list (but for how long?!) but it’s a pile of poo for those who aren’t and I sympathise (if it’s any consolation, I’m not on the preferred list for My Weekly, so that’s a market I can’t submit to).

Anyway, when one door closes another one opens, as the saying goes and perhaps it’s time for those of us who depend on the women’s magazines for our publishing successes (and a little bit of income) to look elsewhere?

There are still plenty of fiction competitions out there, some of which are free to enter and most of which don’t have the same restrictions (in terms of genre and subject matter), as the womags. Perhaps it’s time to try something different! If you don’t already know about them, here are some competitions that might appeal:

Closing 31st Jan 2017 – Tamworth Writing Competition (linked to Tamworth Literary Festival)

UPDATE: This short story competition appeared to be only open to those who are ‘not yet published’ (ahem, because that’s what it still says on their website) but apparently they actually mean that the story must be unpublished, so it’s actually open to everyone. Sorry if I raised any hopes that this was a competition for ‘newbies only’ but that was how it was (is?) presented. Actually, it’s open to everyone and the theme is open in as much as you can write any kind of story but it must feature a real Tamworth building or address (eg: the Castle – but I suspect many people will choose that. There’s also a Snowdome! And a McDonald’s. I know that because I worked there once, when I was a student).

Closing 13th Feb 2017 – Writers & Artists’ Yearbook Short Story Competition

This is FREE to enter, you don’t have to be a UK resident, there’s no theme and all you have to do is submit a short story (for adults) of no more than 2,000 words.’

Don’t forget to register with the website too. You must do that in order to be eligible to enter.

Bear in mind that winners from the last few years have all been literary and ‘different’, so, my advice would be, you can really let your imagination run wild with this one! Anything goes and I would say, the wackier, the better.

Closing 20th Feb 2017 – Readers Digest 100 Word Flash Fiction Competition

Back for the seventh year, this ‘drabble’ competition (ie: 100 words exactly) has a £2000 first prize and 2 x £200 runners-up prizes, is free to enter and you can enter as many times as you like. But you must be a resident of the UK, Channel Islands, Isle of Man or Republic of Ireland.

In Other News…

I make a special ‘guest’ appearance on Tracy Baines’ blog this week, promoting my e-book ‘Start a Creative Writing Class’ – which now has 2 reviews, both 5 star (and not written by my mum!).

One of my favourite reads of recent times, Appletree Yard by Louise Doughty, has been turned into a 4-part TV series and it starts on Sunday on BBC1. I will be watching!

(Warning: Episode 1 apparently has ‘5 minutes of explicit sex’, so perhaps don’t tune in if you’ve got your mother-in-law round for dinner…)

This entry was posted in Books, Competitions, E publishing, Magazines, Short Stories, Television. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Just Monkey-ing Around

  1. Keith Havers says:

    I queried the rules on the Tamworth competition because the e-mail I received stated – ‘Open to all, published or not, it is the piece should not have been published previously.’ The reply I received stated that this was correct and they would change the website. I was born in Tamworth so I thought this would be a good one to support and I sent off my entry. I see that the website still has not been changed so I’m worried that I’ve entered a competition for which I’m ineligible. Frustrating.

    • Keith (and Julia), that is confusing – and annoying, I agree! I might be tempted to enter too if it really is open to all! (memories of that McDonald’s job in Tamworth are resurfacing…!). Anyway, I have tweeted the festival to ask them so if I get a response, I’ll let you know!

  2. juliathorley says:

    I did the Go Ape thing for a special birthday, too, and I loved the zipwire. Grim news about TABFF. What are we writers to do – start our own magazine? I’m a Staffordshire girl originally, so i’m tempted by the Tamworth comp, but as Keith says, I don’t want to be disqualified. Annoying!

  3. Keith and Julia, they have replied to my tweet. The competition is wrong on their website (and they’ve promised to change it). You don’t have to be an unpublished author but your story must be unpublished! So it’s open to everyone.

  4. Wendy Clarke says:

    You would not get me on an aerial adventure if you paid me (it would be more of an aerial meltdown!). I agree, it’s a sorry time for new writers with one less mag to submit to (luckily I made it onto the preferred list as well) and you’re right that it’s a perfect time to consider branching out into other areas of writing. Have Appletree Yard recorded and can’t wait to watch it as it’s one of my favourite books (luckily will just be watching it with my husband 😉)..

  5. Anne says:

    Hello, Helen. I happened upon your blog by chance; and became interested as I dipped into it. Make I make so bold, as a mere visitor, to make a comment? (I’m going to, anyway!) I would like to ask you to re-consider your mind-set about older people. “Warning: Episode 1 apparently has ‘5 minutes of explicit sex’, so perhaps don’t tune in if you’ve got your mother-in-law round for dinner…”
    Beware, lass, this borders on age-ism. At 83, I’ve been there, done that, and experienced many things – some of which might make your hair curl – and I’m pretty un-shockable. Bring on the explicit sex!

    • Ooh Anne, good for you! And thank you for your comment. You are not a ‘mere visitor’ but a much-appreciated reader of the blog and even better, you’ve taken the time to leave a comment, so you may indeed ‘make so bold’! And yes, you are quite right, I could be accused of sexism for that remark about the mother-in-law! What I really meant was that it might be a bit ‘awkward’! I imagine most people don’t discuss sex with their mother-in-law (but perhaps I’ve just led a sheltered life?), so sitting there, watching a lot of grinding and groaning (especially if, like us, you’ve got a 50 inch TV, so you’re practically in the room with them…) might be a tad embarrassing. I certainly didn’t mean that the mother-in-law might get a touch of the vapours and need some smelling salts. Oh no, indeed. (and did you watch it by the way? And what did you think?!)

      • Anne says:

        No, I doubt it has ever been aired on our Channels. But I did watch 50 Shades of Grey when it was broadcast. Thought the “hero” (?anti-hero?) was the least sexy male I’ve come across!
        Cheers: time for a glass of wine!

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