Ditching The Kindle (& another free-to-enter novel competition)

The Daily Mail Penguin Random House First Novel competition

Whatever your feelings about the Daily Wail Mail, there’s no denying that, every so often, they run a nice competition for us writers.

For this, the latest one, they’ve joined forces with Penguin/Random House and you’ve got until 13th July 2018 to submit your 3,000-word novel opening and a 600-word synopsis of the remainder of the book. You should also include a short three-paragraph cover letter stating who you are and the main idea behind your book (which, incidentally, doesn’t have to be about horses!)

Entry is free but you must not have had a book* published before, whether that is in print, e-book or self-published.

*in the rules ‘book’ changes to ‘novel’ so if, like me, you’ve self-published some short stories, I reckon you’d still be eligible to enter. What do you think?

There are also some other rules – like you can’t already have an agent – so make sure you read them all carefully and don’t (potentially) waste your time.

All the details are here and good luck if you decide to go for it! (And bear in mind that you have to POST your entry – no email submissions, as far as I can see – so allow a couple of days for it to arrive!)

Holibobs Reading

Now… a favourite subject of mine (and probably many of you, too): BOOKS.

I’ve just read ‘My Name is Leon’ by Kit de Waal.

I’d heard of the book but I was only prompted to buy and read it by my recent visit to ChipLitFest, when I heard the author talk at an event. Ah, it’s so good. Have you read it? I won’t say too much because a) if you have read it, then you know and b) if you haven’t, then you might want to discover it all for yourself. But when I thought about why I’d enjoyed it so much, two things (apart from the wonderful writing), came to mind:

1. I was rooting for Leon from the very first page. I cared about him and wanted to know what was going to happen to him.
2 I didn’t have a clue how the book was going to end. And there was tension because there was a definite chance that it could all be going to end very badly….

I’m going on holiday soon and I’ve just ordered my ‘holiday reading’. Wheee. That’s fun, isn’t it?

But, shock news: they are all actual books, not e-books because I have decided that I don’t actually like reading on a Kindle. I tend to ‘skim read’ in a way that I never do with a book.

I like the feel of a book in my hands, I like to stroke the cover and see – actually see – how many pages I’ve got left. It’s just not the same on a Kindle (plus – and this is something that I really hate – when you’re reading on a ‘device’ you have to turn it off before the plane takes off and as it’s coming in to land. All that wasted time, when you’re just sitting there, gazing out at the clouds, when you could be reading!)

So, yah boo sucks to that this time. I’m taking books. And namely….

1. How To Stop Time – Matt Haig
2. Tin Man – Sarah Winman
3. Little Fires Everywhere – Celeste Ng

(btw, if you have read any of these and thought it was terrible, please refrain from telling me! I will find out for myself. And besides, I might like it! Books are funny like that, aren’t they?).

Right, must dash. B&Q, the garden and the sunshine are calling me. But if you want more stuff about writing, then take a look at Emma Darwin’s latest blog post (today’s in fact), in which she links to lots of her previous posts, on subjects such as ‘Committing to Writing’ ‘Getting Published’ and ‘Writing Courses, the Pros and Cons’ and ‘Should I do a Writing MA?’ Loads of great reading there (as always).

(And in case you’re wondering about the horsey photo… there’s a stud farm near me and at this time of year, the fields are full of mares and foals. Every time I drive past them it lifts my little heart).

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4 Responses to Ditching The Kindle (& another free-to-enter novel competition)

  1. Tracy Fells says:

    Happy holiday reading, Helen. I really must read My Name is Leon as I did an excellent Flash workshop with Kit de Waal last year. I have read How to Stop Time and loved it.

  2. Helen Yendall says:

    thank you, Tracy! I am envious of your flash fiction workshop with Kit de Waal! I spoke to her briefly at ChipLitFest, as she signed my book (we both have Irish mothers and were at school in Birmingham in the 70s, so we have that in common…!) and she seemed very nice. She’s also obviously very talented and what I like especially about her – she was a ‘late starter’ in the writing game! (She admits she didn’t read her first novel until she was 22!)

  3. juliathorley says:

    I heard Kit speak last year too, but I haven’t yet read Leon. (Shame on me.) Funny thing is, I’ve been wondering whether to get an e-reader of some sort, because quite a lot of my writer friends only publish in the ether and I sometimes feel I’m missing out. Decision pending.

    • Julia
      I think e-readers are great (and very useful if you’re going away and don’t want to lug loads of books around, or need to increase font size, etc). They’ve also come down in price since they were first launched, so even better. I’ll still be taking mine on holiday a) in case I run out of books! and b) because I also use it to check my emails while I’m away. Maybe, if it’s not too far away, ask for one for your birthday?!

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