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A killer plot twist can really make your story something special, and cause your readers to re-evaluate everything that’s gone before it. Writing the perfect plot twist requires time, planning – and it may take many attempts until you finally master it. Guest blogger Pauline Ferris explains how to do it with style.



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Dreaming Up Your Plot Twist

What exactly is a plot twist? One definition is that it “introduces a radical change in the direction or expected outcome of the plot in a work of fiction.”

• It can happen anywhere in the story
• There can be multiple plot twists in one story
• It needs to be shocking or surprising
• It must add value to the story

So how are you going to invent your plot twist? Try thinking like one of your readers:

• What are they expecting?
• What are they assuming?
• What do they know so far?
• What don’t they know?

Once you analyze the answers to these questions, you may already have a couple of plot twist ideas.
Discard them.
You need more than the obvious, presumed and expected. Whatever came to your mind first is probably going to be the same for your readers. Work around it and come up with something better.


Plant Clues

It’s important that you plot twist makes sense for the entire story. You can’t just drop it like a bomb and hope it will fit. Your readers will be disappointed if you do it this way. Instead, you need to focus on foreshadowing. Foreshadowing is all about making your plot twist believable and satisfying. Plant subtle clues throughout the story, then when you reveal the plot twist, readers look back and realise that the hints were there all along.

If you master the art of balanced foreshadowing, you’ve hit the jackpot. Keep in mind:
• make memorable clues
• make them seamless
• conceal that they’re important
• leave them throughout the whole story
• make them all come together in the plot twist


Misdirect

Your readers think they can outsmart you? They’re wrong.
You cannot let your readers see through your storyline and beat you to the plot twist. One of the ways to ensure they have no idea what’s about to happen is to have them believe something completely opposite.
In other words, you’ll need to make smart choices in giving relevant information in a way which makes your reader believe something completely different than your actual intentions.
This will secure their surprise and shock once the real plot twist unveils.


Time for Your Plot Twist

You’ve planted your clues, you’ve led the readers in various directions and now it’s time for your revelation. A good plot twist:

• reveals a shocking fact
• reveals a shocking event
• ends the story unexpectedly
• does all of these together

Your readers have to be blown away by what they’ve read so the shocking part is the major ingredient. Make sure that:
• your characters are a part of it
• you show your plot twist instead of saying it
• you reveal it subtly and simply instead of explicitly


Conclusion

A good plot twist requires you to outsmart your readers and give them something they did not see coming. You need to invest time in planning, writing, rewriting and deciding on the best solution.

Hopefully, we’ve helped you organize your writing process and come up with a plot twist which leaves nobody indifferent. Make sure to choose the best strategies and get into your readers’ heads. That’s the ultimate recipe for a killer plot twist.



Pauline Ferris speaks Portuguese, English, Spanish and Italian and currently she works as a translator at translation service TheWordPoint . She travelled the world to immerse herself in the new cultures and learn languages. Today she is proud to be a voting member of the American Translators Association and an active participant of the Leadership Council of its Portuguese Language Division.



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It’s getting pretty chilly outside – ideal weather to stay in and read a book. So why not get cosy, and read one of these ‘winter’ inspired book choices?

1. Winter by Ali Smith

The second part of her Seasonal Quartet, which began with ‘Autumn’, the Booker Prize shortlisted author explores the coldest and bleakest time of year, with impressionistic language, non-linear stories, flashbacks and fantasies.


2. The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls-Wilder

If you’re worrying about the ‘beast from the east’ or stockpiling food in anticipation of Brexit, then just be glad you’re not snowed in for a whole winter. The ‘Little House on The Prairie’ author recalls the winter of 1880-81 they endured, and only just survived, with 7 months of blizzards from October to May.


3. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

The classic children’s book about Narnia where it is ‘always winter and never Christmas’, until the Pevensie children come through the back of the wardrobe and fight the white witch, Jadis – with help, of course, from Aslan.


4. Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson
Guterson, who was a teacher at the time, wrote the book in the early morning hours over a ten-year period. The book focuses on a murder case in which Kabuo Miyamoto, a Japanese American, is accused of killing Carl Heine, a respected fisherman in the close-knit community


5. The Shining by Stephen King

his visit to The Stanley Hotel in 1974 and his recovery from alcoholism.

The Shining centers on the life of Jack Torrance, an aspiring writer and recovering alcoholic who accepts a position as the off-season caretaker of the historic Overlook Hotel in the Colorado Rockies. His family accompanies him on this job, including his young son Danny Torrance, who possesses “the shining”, an array of psychic abilities that allow Danny to see the hotel’s horrific past. Soon, after a winter storm leaves them snowbound, the supernatural forces inhabiting the hotel influence Jack’s sanity, leaving his wife and son in incredible danger.

6. Dr Zhivago by Boris Pasternak

Doctor Zhivago protagonist, Yuri Zhivago, a physician and poet, and takes place between the Russian Revolution of 1905 and World War II.

Zhivago was refused publication in the USSR. the manuscript was smuggled to Milan and published in 1957. Pasternak was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature the following year


7. Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow by Peter Høeg

Greenland childhood, Smilla developed an almost intuitive understanding of all types of snow and their characteristics. As an adult, she worked for a time as a scientist whose speciality was snow and ice. Her certainty about the manner of a child’s death is due to this visceral “feeling for snow”.


8. Snow by Orhan Pamuk

Ka, a poet,returns to Turkey after 12 years of political exile in Germany. He has several motives, first, as a journalist, to investigate a spate of suicides but also in the hope of meeting a woman he used to know. Heavy snow cuts off the town for about three days during which time Ka is in conversation with a former communist, a secularist, a fascist nationalist, a possible Islamic extremist, Islamic moderates, young Kurds, the military, the Secret Service, the police and in particular, an actor-revolutionary. In the midst of this, love and passion are to be found. Temporarily closed off from the world, a farcical coup is staged and linked melodramatically to a stage play. The main discussion concerns the interface of secularism and belief but there are references to all of Turkey’s twentieth century history.

9. Wintersmith by Terry Pratchett

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wintersmith


10.

Steel and Snow by George R.R. Martin

Many people are still eagerly anticipating the long awaited book in the series – it could be this year. There’s quite a few chapters available online already,
The Winds of Winter by George R.R. Martin


Do you have any recommendations for ‘wintery’ themed books? Do let us know your favourites.



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It’s seven days into the New Year, so by now you should all be into your new routine, whatever that may be. Writing 1000 words before you get out of bed, going vegan, hitting the gym…or have you given up already? Here are some quotations about resolutions – either to inspire you, or put you off completely.



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1. “I made no resolutions for the New Year. The habit of making plans, of criticizing, sanctioning and molding my life, is too much of a daily event for me. ”
― Anaïs Nin




2. “The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul and a new nose; new feet, a new backbone, new ears, and new eyes. Unless a particular man made New Year resolutions, he would make no resolutions. Unless a man starts afresh about things, he will certainly do nothing effective.”
― G.K. Chesterton, A Chesterton Calendar


3. “A resolution to avoid an evil is seldom framed till the evil is so far advanced as to make avoidance impossible.”
― Thomas Hardy, Far From the Madding Crowd


4. “Good resolutions are like babies crying in church. They should be carried out immediately.”
― Charles M. Sheldon



5. “For a change, don’t add new things in your life as a new year’s resolution. Instead, do more of what’s already working for you and stop doing things that are time-waste.”
― Salil Jha


6. “I will do it tomorrow. How often we all do so and what a pity it is that when morning comes and tomorrow is today we so frequently wake up feeling quite differently. Careless or impatient and not a bit inclined to do the fine things we planned to do overnight.”
― Susan Coolidge, What Katy Did


7. “Resolution number one: Obviously will lose twenty pounds. Number two: Always put last night’s panties in the laundry basket. Equally important, will find sensible boyfriend to go out with and not continue to form romantic attachments to any of the following: alcoholics, workaholics, commitment phobic’s, peeping toms, megalomaniacs, emotional fuckwits or perverts. And especially will not fantasize about a particular person who embodies all these things”
― Helen Fielding, Bridget Jones’s Diary


8. Life goes by so very fast, my dears, and taking the time to reflect, even once a year, slows things down. We zoom past so many seconds, minutes, hours, killing them with the frantic way we live that it’s important we take at least this one collective sigh and stop, take stock, and acknowledge our place in time before diving back into the melee
-Hillary DePiano, New Year’s Thieve



9.“It is a new day, new month, new year, but it isn’t a new you. You are the same person dealing with the same problems that you cannot dispatch by tearing off the calendar page. Solutions come incrementally, however much the sliding into magical thinking seems permissible when grass lies under a foot of snow.”
― Thomm Quackenbush, A Creature Was Stirring


10. “But to tell the truth (to tell the truth!) I have never been particularly resolute, I mean given to resolutions, but rather inclined to plunge headlong into the shit, without knowing who was shitting against whom or on which side I had the better chance of skulking with success.”
― Samuel Beckett



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Here’s the first batch of writing competitions for the New Year. All these competitions have deadlines in the first few months of the year – a great motivation to turn off the TV, get writing, and hopefully win big!

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1. Fish Short Memoir Competition

Details: A competition for memoirs of up to 4,000 words.
Entry Fee: €17 for the first, €11 for further entries.
Deadline: 31st January 2019
Prizes: 1st – 1,000 euros. 2nd – A week on a writers’ retreat at Casa Ana at La Alpujarra in Spain, plus 300 euros. The best 10 entries will be published in the Fish Anthology 2019.


2. Salariya Picture Book Prize

Details: A competition to find the next big children’s author/illustrator. To enter you need to be over the age of 16, unagented and unpublished (self-published is ok), based in the UK or Eire. Text only entries are acceptable, although you can also enter along with an artist (also unagented and unpublished). The book should be 28 pages maximum, and be suitable for children in the 0 to 5 age range.
Entry Fee: Free entry (one entry per person).
Deadline: 31st January 2019 (5.30pm)
Prizes: £1,000 plus career advice from a leading children’s book agent and publicity through the Stratford Literary Festival. The prize is shared if you are part of a writing/illustrating team.


3. Writers Retreat Short Story Competition

Details: A short story competition for stories of between 250 and 1,000 words on any subject.
Entry Fee: £15
Deadline: 30th January 2019
Prizes: 1st – £200 and a free place on a Writer’s Retreat UK Lake District retreat. 2nd – £100 and a 50% discount on a Writer’s Retreat UK Lake District retreat. 3rd – £50 and 50% on a Writer’s Retreat UK Lake District retreat. Runners-up (6) – £15. The writers of a further 15 stories will be offered a 50% discount on a Lake District retreat. Winners and shortlistees will be published on the website and will included in the first Writer’s Retreat UK short story anthology.


4. Teignmouth Poetry Festival Open Poetry Competition

Details: This contest from Devon is for poems of up to 35 lines on any subject.Poet John Greening will is the judge for the national competition, while Julie-Ann Rowell will be judging the local prize.
Entry Fee: £4.50 for the first, £3.50 for further entries.
Deadline: 31st January 2019
Prizes: £500, £250, £100. Local prizes (for TQ12, TQ14 and EX7 postcodes) – £100, £50, £25.


5. Spread the Word Life Writing Prize

Details: A competition for emerging writers of 18 or over, resident in the UK. The competition is for non-fiction writing about someone’s own life journey or experiences with a word limit of 5000. It can be prose, or a graphic novel, self-contained or an extract from a longer work. Please read the terms and conditions on the website.
Entry Fee: Free to enter.
Deadline: 1st February 2019
Prizes: 1st – £1,500, an Arvon course, a 2-year membership to the Royal Society of Literature and a meeting with an agent or editor. Runners-up (2) – £500 and a meeting with an agent or editor


6. Lucy Cavendish College Fiction Prize

Details: This competition is sponsored by top London literary agents Peters Fraser Dunlop, and is open to women over 21 who have not had a full-length novel published. Submit 40 to 50 consecutive pages of your story’s opening, plus a synopsis of the remainder (5 to 10 pages), as specified in the T&Cs.
Entry Fee: £12
Deadline: 8th February 2018 (noon)
Prizes: £1,500. Short listed entrants will receive a half-hour one-to-one consultation with an agent at Peters Fraser Dunlop.


7. W&A Yearbook Short Story Competition 2019

Details: You will need to register with the Writers’ & Artists’ website before entering this competition, which is for stories of up to 2,000 words on any subject aimed at adults.
Entry Fee: Free
Deadline: 13th February 2019
Prizes: The winner will get a place on one of Arvon’s Clockhouse writing retreats, plus their story published on the website.


8. The Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition

Details: A competition for an unpublished and unagented children’s novelist aged 18 or over. Your story should be aimed at children/young adults between the ages of 7 and 18 years. Your manuscript can run to a maximum of 80,000 words, and there is a suggested minimum of 30,000. Include a one-page synopsis, a letter containing some info about yourself and explaining the book’s appeal to children.
Entry Fee: £18
Deadline: 28th February 2019
Prizes: 1st – A publishing contract with an advance of £10,000, plus representation by a top children’s literary agent. Chairman’s Choice – A publishing contract with a £7,500 advance.


9. Margery Allingham Short Story Competition

Details: This competition from the Crime Writers’ Association is open to published and unpublished writers is for stories of up to 3,500 words. The stories a crime, a mystery, an enquiry and a conclusion, the conclusion providing reader satisfaction
Entry Fee: £12
Deadline: 28th February 2019 (6pm)
Prizes: £500 plus two weekend passes to Crimefest 2020 and a selection of Margery Allingham books.


10. Flash 500 Short Story Competition

Details: A competition for stories in any genre running to between 1,000 and 3,000 words
Entry Fee: £7 for one, £12 for two, £16 for three, £20 for four.
Deadline: 28th February 2019
Prizes: 1st – £500 and a 2-year Duotrope gift certificate. 2nd – £200. 3rd – £100


Good luck if you enter any of these competitions, and do tell us how you get on!


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It’s Christmaaaaaassssss! Here are five fantastic Christmas short stories you can read online, instead of scrolling through depressing news items or the latest celebrity gossip. Maybe they’ll inspire you to write one yourself? We’ll be sharing new writing competition listings in the New Year if so – and see the link at the bottom of the page for competitions you can enter in the next week should you have one ready to go. Have a wonderful Christmas and a Writerly New Year.


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1. A Child’s Christmas In Wales by Dylan Thomas

A piece of prose by the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas this is an anecdotal reminiscence of a Christmas from the viewpoint of a young boy, portraying a nostalgic and simpler time.

Download the PDF here

Listen to Dylan Thomas reading the story here

Watch a filmed version here


2. The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry

First published in 1905, the story tells of a young husband and wife and how they deal with the challenge of buying secret Christmas gifts for each other with very little money with an ironic twist at the end.

Download the PDF here



3. A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote

A largely autobiographical story set in the 1930s, focusing on the friendship between the seven-year-old narrator and an elderly woman who is his distant cousin and best friend. Published in Mademoiselle magazine in December 1956, it was reprinted in The Selected Writings of Truman Capote in 1963.

Download the PDF here

See a 1966 TV version narrated by Truman Capote himself


4. The Greatest Gift by Philip Van Doren Stern

A 1943 short story written by Philip Van Doren Stern which became the basis for the film ’It’s a Wonderful Life’ (1946). Stern was best known for writing Civil War histories, and in the late 1930s, he had a dream that inspired him to write “The Greatest Gift.” Finally, in 1943, he published his own pamphlet edition and sent it to people as a Christmas card. Somehow, it found its way to the film director, Frank Capra.

Listen to the audio story

Download the ebook for 99p



5. The Burglar’s Christmas by Willa Cather

First published in Home Monthly in 1896 under the pseudonym of Elizabeth L. Seymour, this short story is set in Chicago on a bitterly cold Christmas night. A homeless young man attempts a burglary – but finds he is stealing jewels from his own mother.

Download the PDF here


We hope you enjoy these stories – do recommend others if you have your own favourites.



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Writing can be a complicated business – with so many ideas, plans and different drafts to keep organised. But these no longer need to be a jumble of papers, or even a list of confusingly labelled files. Guest blogger Kristin Savage outlines five ways technology can help you take control.



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1. Brainstorming and Capturing Ideas

Brainstorming can be a great way to think of new ideas to write about. However, instead of trying to manage all your brilliant ideas on bits of paper, you could use a brainstorming app to capture it all in one place and ensure they aren’t lost.
One of the best and most popular apps to help you capture your ideas is Bubbl.us. This app helps you create visual diagrams of all your thoughts and ideas, creating trees with different levels and sub-levels. It’s easy to use and it ensures all your ideas are safely stored. It also allows you to share your ideas with others and come back to them whenever you want.


2. Organizing the Writing Process

When you have a lot going on and the deadlines are getting closer you can’t simply go with the flow and hope for the best. Organize your entire writing process and create a schedule to guide you to a successfully finished project.
Evernote is a great tool for organizing your thoughts, tasks, and goals.
Use this app to create a personalized To-do list and write down everything you need to achieve on a daily basis. You can set up reminders to ensure you actually keep your own promises. You can create voice reminders and capture images to ensure maximum productivity. Making a plan can work wonders for your writing process and help you stay on top of your game.


3. Accuracy in Writing

Errors in grammar or spelling can really detract from the power of your writing – but luckily there are lots of writing apps that can help you with this. Just copy your text and paste it one of the following apps, and it will highlight your errors and suggest corrections.

Grammarly
WhiteSmoke
Hemingway App


4. Digitalizing Your Thoughts

Inspiration can strike at any time – but you don’t always have your laptop with you. Jotting notes on paper can be a good alternative – but what happens if you lose your notebook, or that scrap of paper you’ve written on? A Smartpen allows you to take notes on paper and later transfer them on your computer, using nothing more than a USB. Its in-built memory can capture voice recordings and your handwriting, storing them instantly.


5.Tuning Out

When you’re creating your masterpiece, you’ll probably want peace and quiet – but if there are screaming children, a pneumatic drill outside your door, or just the noise of the coffee shop disturbing you, then pick up some noise-canceling headphones.
They create the perfect silence you need for focusing on your writing and avoiding distraction. It will increase your productivity and help you tune out completely.

All these tools help you focus on what matters most: your story.



Kristin Savage nourishes, sparks and empowers using the magic of a word. She does her voodoo regularly on the Pick Writers and occasionally contributes to other educational platforms. Along with pursuing her degree in Creative Writing, Kristin was gaining experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in marketing strategy for publishers and authors. You can find her on Facebook.



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“All I want for Christmas” has been on repeat in the shops since September – and all you want for Christmas is a little peace and quiet. As the season of advent approaches with its cash tills jingling all the way, we gather together some rather downbeat quotations about Christmas, just for once.



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1. “I walked inside Macy’s and faced the pathetic spectacle of a department store full of shoppers, none of whom were shopping for themselves. Without the instant gratification of a self-aimed purchase, everyone walked around in the tactical stupor of the financially obligated.”
― Rachel Cohn, Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares


2. “The worst gift I was given is when I got out of rehab that Christmas; a bottle of wine. It was delicious.”
― Craig Ferguson


3. “Ever since the Christmas of ‘53, I have felt that the yuletide is a special hell for those families who have suffered any loss or who must admit to any imperfection; the so-called spirit of giving can be as greedy as receiving—Christmas is our time to be aware of what we lack, of who’s not home.”
― John Irving, A Prayer for Owen Meany


4. “It struck him that how you spent Christmas was a message to the world about where you were in life, some indication of how deep a hole you had managed to burrow for yourself”
― Nick Hornby, About a Boy


5. “Although it is pleasant to think about poison at any season, there is something special about Christmas, and I found myself grinning.”
― Alan Bradley, I Am Half-Sick of Shadows


6. “I felt overstuffed and dull and disappointed, the way I always do the day after Christmas, as if whatever it was the pine boughs and the candles and the silver and gilt-ribboned presents and the birch-log fires and the Christmas turkey and the carols at the piano promised never came to pass.”
― Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar


7. “The Little Drummer Boy" was playing in the background for what seemed like the third time in a row. I fought off an urge to beat that Little Drummer Boy senseless with his own drumsticks.”
― Dana Reinhardt, How to Build a House


8. “I stood for almost an hour in a line of shuffling, bitter – eyed late mailers (Christmas is such a carefree, low – pressure time – that’s one of the things I love about it),…”
― Stephen King


9. “It snowed last year too: I made a snowman and my brother knocked it down and I knocked my brother down and then we had tea.”
― Dylan Thomas, A Child’s Christmas in Wales


10. “Christmas ought to be brought up to date,” Maria said. “It ought to have gangsters, and aeroplanes and a lot of automatic pistols.”
― John Masefield, The Box Of Delights



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Writing your novel is only the start of your journey to become a published author. On this one-day, intensive masterclass you will learn how to best to navigate your way – and the different routes you can choose. With Anna Lewis of CompletelyNovel on the panel, how can you afford to miss it?



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How to Get Published – A One Day Masterclass for Writers

When is it?: Saturday 9th February 2019 09:00 – 18:00 GMT
Where is it?: Foyles, Level 6, 107 Charing Cross Road, London, WC2H 0DT


Writing a book proposal, finding an agent, or deciding to self-publish your book… there are so many aspects to getting your book into print and on sale. If you feel you need some help and guidance, why not consider this masterclass for writers at the iconic Foyles bookshop on Charing Cross Road, London?

Meet bestselling authors, literary agents, publishers and self-publishing experts as they explain the publishing landscape, the various routes to publication, and equip you for career success.
Expect no-nonsense, practical advice to motivate you to write that book – and get it published!

The ticket price includes a free copy of Write a Bestseller by Jacq Burns, plus a reading list and handouts. You will also have the opportunity to pitch your book and get some instant feedback, if you would like to.

It’s a packed day of great speakers, panels, discussions and plenty of time for networking with fellow writers.


What’s on offer during the day?

This provisional schedule may change a little – but this is how it looks at the moment:

___________________________________

09:00 Registration and networking

09:30 Welcome and Introduction Jon Reed, Publishing Talk

SO YOU WANT TO BE A PUBLISHED AUTHOR?

09:40 How to write and publish your first novel
What does it take to become a successful author?
Molly Flatt, author of The Charmed Life of Alex Moore

10:20 What are agents looking for?
The most important step to traditional publishing success is to get an agent. What are they looking for – and how do you get one? What makes a bestseller?
Jacq Burns, literary agent, founder of London Writers’ Club and author of How to Write a Bestseller

11:00 Coffee Break

TRADITIONAL PUBLISHING

11:20 How to write a book proposal
Practical tips on how to put together your proposal, sample material and query letter.
Scott Pack, editor, publisher and author of How to Perfect Your Submission

12:00 What are editors looking for?
Editors explain the commissioning process, how they find books and authors – and what happens next.(Publisher panel)

12:30 How traditional publishing works
Putting it all together: How the author-agent-editor relationship works in practice.
In conversation with an author, agent and editor

13:00 Lunch break

13:45 Pitch your book!

Putting into practice what you’ve learned in the morning, you will have the opportunity over lunch to either write down a one-sentence pitch for your book, or just think of one to share with the group in the session. Literary agent Jacq Burns will make brief suggestions for improving your pitch. We’ll try to fit in as many as possible!

ALTERNATIVES TO TRADITIONAL PUBLISHING

14:15 The business of self-publishing
Could self-publishing be for you? What you need to know to be a successful indie author.
Debbie Young, The Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi)

14:45 How to self-publish your book
Self-publishing companies outline different options and models for indie authors.
Panel includes: Anna Lewis, CompletelyNovel; Nick Coveney, Kobo

15:20 Other publishing routes
Other ways to get published: hybrid and crowdfunding models.
Panel includes: Clare Christian, Red Door Publishing

15:55 Coffee Break

PATHS TO SUCCESS

16:15 How to build your online platform
How to build your online platform to equip yourself for career success as an author
Jon Reed, Publishing Talk

16:45 Author success stories
Three authors talk about their different paths to publishing success (plus Q&A)
Panel includes: Liz Fenwick, author of One Cornish Summer

17:25 Closing Remarks

17:30 – 18:30 Networking drinks

Do let us know if you’re intending to go along to this fantastic event!

Get 20% discount from CompletelyNovel for tickets with the code CN20



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The days are getting shorter, so why not stay inside all cosy, polish up some stories or poems to enter some competitions – all with deadlines before New Year.


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1. Templar Poetry Pamphlet Awards

Details: A quarterly contest from Templar Poetry. Submit a selection of your work as a manuscript of between 10-12 A4 single-sided pages.
Entry Fee: £15.50
Deadline: 26th November 2018
Prizes: The winner will have his or her entry published in perfect-bound Templar Paperback Pamphlet format and will receive 5 free copies with the option to buy more at a discount.


2. WB Flash Fiction Competition

Details:A competition from Writers Bureau, for stories of no more than 500 words.
Entry Fee: £5 for one story, £10 for three
Deadline: 30th November 2018
Prizes: £300, £200, £100. All winners also receive a WB writing course of their choice.


3. Wundor Editions Poetry Competition

Details: A competition for ‘diverse, disruptive and innovative writers’ to enter their latest poetry contest, for poems on any subject and any length.
Entry Fee: £5 for one poem, £10 for six.
Deadline: 30th November 2018
Prizes: £500. The winner and two runners-up will be published on the website, with a possibility of publication in print as well.


4. Everything With Words Urban YA Competition

Details: This contest is for first young adult novels of between 40,000 and 70,000 words, set in a real city in today’s multicultural Britain. Submit the completed novel plus a summary of up to 500 words.
Entry Fee: Free to enter.
Deadline: 30th November 2018
Prizes: £1,000 and possible publication of your novel.


5. Gregory O’Donoghue International Poetry Competition

Details: An annual contest from the Munster Literature Centre in Cork, Ireland, is for poems of up to 40 lines in English on any subject.
Entry Fee: 5 euros each, 20 euros for five.
Deadline: 30th November 2018
Prizes: 1st – 1,000 euros, publication in Southword Journal, a week’s residency at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre and a trip to Cork to visit the Cork International Poetry Festival (with 4 night’s accommodation and up to 600 euros travel expenses). 2nd – 500 euros and publication in Southword Journal . 3rd – 250 euros and publication in Southword Journal. Runners-up (10) – publication in Southword Journal and a fee of 30 euros.


6. Fish Short Story Competition

Details: An international contest from Fish Publishing for short stories on any subject of no more than 5,000 words.
Entry Fee: Online entries are 20 euros for the first, 10 thereafter. If you are posting your entries, it’s 2 euros extra.
Deadline: 30th November 2018
Prizes: 1st – 3,000 euros (1,000 of which is for travel expenses to the anthology launch), plus a 5-day short story writing workshop during the West Cork Literary Festival. 2nd – A week at the Anam Cara Writers’ & Artists’ Retreat in West Cork with 300 euros travel expenses. 3rd – 300 euros. Runners-up (7) – 200 euros. Ten stories will be published in an anthology and the authors will receive five free copies plus an invitation to read at the launch during the West Cork Literary Festival in July.


7. Bath Children’s Novel Award

Details:This annual international contest is open to unpublished and self-published debut novelists. It’s for novels of any length in any middle grade or young adult genre. To enter, email the first 5,000 words of your story followed by a one page synopsis. If longlisted you will be expected to submit the full manuscript in December 2018. The longlist is chosen by a panel of children and young adults. The shortlist judge is Sallyanne Sweeney from Mulcahy Associates Literary Agency.
Entry Fee: £25
Deadline: 2nd December 2018
Prizes: 1st – £2,500. Runners-up – The writer of the most promising longlisted novel will receive an online place on Learn to Edit Your Novel the Professional Way from Cornerstones Literary Consultancy. Shortlisted entrants will receive introductions to literary agents and feedback.


8. H.E.Bates Short Story Competition

Details: This annual contest in memory of the Nothamptonshire author of such works as The Darling Buds of May and Love for Lydia is for stories of up to 2,000 words on any theme.
Entry Fee: £6 for one, £10 for two.
Deadline: 3rd December 2018
Prizes: £500, £200, £100.


9. Magic Oxygen Literary Prize

Details: For every entry received, Magic Oxygen Publishing of Dorset will plant a tree in Kenya to create a ‘tropical word forest’. And when the contest closes each entrant will receive the GPS co-ordinates of their tree. The contest is also funding the building of another new classroom at Kundeni Primary School next to the tropical word forest. Poems should be less than 50 lines while short stories should be a maximum of 4,000 words.
Entry Fee: £5
Deadline: 31st December 2018
Prizes: £1,000, £300, £100, and 2 x £50.


10. Moth Poetry Prize

Details: An annual contest from Irish magazine The Moth for poems of any length and on any subject.
Entry Fee: 12 euros.
Deadline: 31st December 2018
Prizes: 1st – 10,000 euros. Runners-up (3) – 1,000 euros.


Good luck if you enter any of these competitions, and do tell us how you get on!


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It’s coming up to Halloween, and to get in the mood, we’ve got ten terrifying tales that you can read online – some you can also listen to. So draw the curtains, light the candles, and listen to Christopher Lee and Leonard Nimoy reading scary stories to you…



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1. There Will Come Soft Rains by Ray Bradbury

A haunting story set in a post-apocalyptic world, originally 1985, but changed to 2026 – so only a few years to go.

Read the story here and listen to the story here.



2. The Signal-Man by Charles Dickens

A classic Victorian tale, where railway signal-man of the title tells of an apparition that has been haunting him. Each ghostly appearance is warning of a tragic event on the railway on which the signalman works.

Read the story here and listen to the story here.



3. The Monkey’s Paw by W.W. Jacobs

A mystical charm, a monkey’s paw is brought into a family home by Sergeant Major Morris, who has served in India. The monkey’s paw has the ability to grant 3 wishes to 3 people. Morris is the second owner – and the first owner’s third wish was for death…

Read the story here and listen to the story here.



4. The Tell Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe

This story from the king of gothic horror has a murderous narrator being driven slowly mad by the beating of his victim’s heart under the floorboards.

Read the story here and listen to the story here.


5. Oh Whistle and I’ll come to you my lad by MR James

A classic Edwardian ghost story, included in MR James’ collection Ghost Stories of an Antiquary (1904) named after the poem by Robert Burns. A professor investigating a Templar ruin finds a whistle and blows on it – with ghostly consequences.

Read the book here and listen to it here.



6. The Dunwich Horror by HP Lovecraft

A horror story about a strange and monstrous son who grows to full manhood within a decade, and an even more monstrous ‘being’ that grows ever bigger to fill the family’s Massachusetts farmhouse… until the farmhouse explodes and the monster is let loose.

Read the story here and listen to it here.


7. The Lottery by Shirley Jackson

You’ve got to be in it to win it, but reading this story, you’ll slowly come to realise that you’d do best to give this particular lottery a wide berth.

Read the story here and listen to it here.


8. Click-Clack The Rattlebag by Neil Gaiman

‘Before you take me up to bed, will you tell me a story?”
Reading bedtime stories to children has never been so terrifying.

Read the story here and listen to the author himself reading it here.


9. Nightcrawlers by Robert McCammon

A Vietnam veteran with a guilty conscience and supernatural powers has a recurring dream that his abandoned army unit are hunting him down – and his nightmare becomes a reality, not only for him, but for the customers at a roadside diner.

Read the story here.


10. The Doll by Daphne du Maurier

There’s nothing creepier than a possessed toy – a stuffed toy clown, demonic doll, or monkey constantly clanging tiny cymbals. This tale was lost for 70 years, and is about of a man’s obsessive passion for Rebecca, a mysterious violinist who has a strange doll called ‘Julio’.

Read the story here. and listen to it here.


We hope you enjoy these stories – but don’t read them too close to bedtime!


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