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Ahead of Prince Harry’s nuptials, we take a look at the importance of being ginger in literature and mythology.



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1. Cain (from the best selling book, The Bible)

The bible has lots of redheads for a book based in the Middle East. Apparently Eve’s hair turned red after eating the apple…a strange reaction to fruit, but cheaper than a L’Oreal permanent dye job. Her firstborn son Cain murdered his brother Abel, and received a mark from God – which could have been the ‘punishment’ of red hair, according to some – although others might argue that was a lovely gift. Back-stabbing Judas is often represented as a redhead, but so is King David (of giant killing fame).


2. King Arthur

There’s supposedly a legend that King Arthur had red hair – or at least ‘strawberry blonde’ tresses – and ginger hair has been linked with royalty and the leaders of England for centuries. Another legend says that at times of strife in England, a red-headed leader would arise to lead the country. Elizabeth I, Henry VIII, Oliver Cromwell, Boudicca and Winston Churchill were all red-heads (when Winston actually head hair). The ‘leading England’ part didn’t quite happen with another carrot top, Neil Kinnock…


3. Uriah Heep

The evil foil for ‘goodie’ David Copperfield in Dickens’s novel, Uriah is described as a ‘cadaverous’ youth, with snakelike movements, and not only red hair, but lashless red eyes! Really, Uriah doesn’t sound like a heap of fun.


4. Anne of Green Gables

Breaking a slate over her future husband, Gilbert Blythe’s head when he teased her about her ‘carrot’ coloured hair, the feisty Canadian orphan lived in hope that the colour would deepen as she grew up into a ‘real nice auburn’. Impatient for her hair’s hue to darken, she accidentally dyed her hair green with cheap dye from a travelling pedlar. Should have gone to Superdrug.


5. Pippi Longstocking

Pippi Longstocking is an inspiration for red-headed freckle-faced children and female weightlifters everywhere. Living alone at 9 years old, with a horse and a monkey for company, financially independent with her stash of gold coins, her fearless attitude to life and strength to lift her horse with just one hand makes her one of the coolest coppertops of all time.


6. The Weasley Family

The most famous all fictional ginger families since the Pontipee brothers (of the musical Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, in case you didn’t know), the Weasley siblings attend Hogwarts and help Harry Potter find the platform for the Hogwart’s Express. Red Ron Weasley becomes Harry’s best friend, and flame haired Ginny Weasley eventually becomes Harry’s wife. Gingertastic!


7. Game of Thrones

Ok, so I confess I haven’t actually read any Game of Thrones books. But as the How To Be A Redhead website mentions, “If redheads really do make up only 2% of the world’s population, then Game of Thrones has cast about 1.9% over the past several seasons.” Redheaded women and men are seen as royal, proud, wilful, passionate, unpredictable, fiery and wild – no wonder it’s the hairshade of choice for this medieval fantasy epic.


We hope you’ve enjoyed this journey into ginger – do let us know your own favourite redheads in literature!



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This Saturday sees the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle – and to celebrate we’ve gathered together some quotations from the literary world about the institution of marriage.



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1. “It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche


2. “And she’s got brains enough for two, which is the exact quantity the girl who marries you will need.”
― P.G. Wodehouse, Mostly Sally



3. “I don’t want to be married just to be married. I can’t think of anything lonelier than spending the rest of my life with someone I can’t talk to, or worse, someone I can’t be silent with.”
― Mary Ann Shaffer, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society


4. “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”
― Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice


5. “By all means marry; if you get a good wife, you’ll become happy; if you get a bad one, you’ll become a philosopher.”
― Socrates



6. “When two people are under the influence of the most violent, most insane, most delusive, and most transient of passions, they are required to swear that they will remain in that excited, abnormal, and exhausting condition continuously until death do them part.”
― George Bernard Shaw, Getting Married


7. “An archaeologist is the best husband a woman can have. The older she gets, the more interested he is in her.”
― Agatha Christie


8. “To keep your marriage brimming, with love in the wedding cup, whenever you’re wrong, admit it; whenever you’re right, shut up.”
― Ogden Nash


9. “I wouldn’t want to marry anybody who was wicked, but I think I’d like it if he could be wicked and wouldn’t.”
― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of the Island


10. “A journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you
control it.”
― John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America


We hope you have enjoyed these quotations – do let us know if you’d like to share any favourite marriage quotations of your own.



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It’s a dream that a lot of aspiring writers hold dear – the time when they can give up the day job and concentrate on their literary career. Many writers had interesting jobs before they had success with their books – providing inspiration for some of their work. But some continued working another job, at the same time as writing – proving that you don’t always have to give up the day job!



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1. William S. Burroughs: Exterminator

After being discharged from the army in 1942, William S Burroughs moved to Chicago and found work as a bug exterminator. The literary world’s nastiest job inspired a collection of short stories called Exterminator!


2. Agatha Christie: Apothecary’s Assistant

Agatha Christie joined the Voluntary Aid Detachment at the start of the first world war attending injured troops at a military hospital in Torquay for the next four years. She qualified as an apothecary’s assistant in 1917, later using her knowledge of pharmaceuticals in many of her crime novels.


3. Charles Dickens: Factory Worker

Later in life he was a freelance journalist and legal clerk in a London law office, but Charles Dickens’ first job was pasting labels onto pots of boot polish in a factory for 10 hours a day. One of the boys who had shown him around on his first day was called Bob Fagin – a name he later used in his book Oliver Twist.


4. Fyodor Dostoyevsky: Engineer

Enrolled against his wishes in a Military Engineering Institute at the age of 15, Dostoyevsky graduated and took a job as an engineer. His interest in the arts still endured, translating French literature in his spare time, publishing an early Russian translation of Balzac in 1843 before his own first work was published.


5. Arthur Conan Doyle: Surgeon

Conan Doyle studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh, and was ship’s doctor on board the Arctic whaler Hope of Peterhead in 1880, then surgeon on board the SS Mayumba during a voyage to West Africa in 1881. He started his own medical practice in Southsea, Hampshire, writing stories between appointments with patients.


6. James Joyce: Cinema Operator

Joyce started but didn’t finish a medical degree, worked as a singer and a pianist, and taught English in Croatia and Italy, In December 1909 James Joyce and his long-term partner (and eventual wife) Nora Barnacle opened Dublin’s first cinema, The Volta, although it closed after about a year, and he returned to teaching English abroad.


7. Franz Kafka: Legal Clerk

Franz Kafka graduated as a Doctor of Law in 1906, working as a legal clerk for a year. He then joined an insurance firm but left as the long hours left him little time to write. Remarkably he was credited by some with inventing the hard hat during his time in an industrial injury institute as a compensation assessor, and co-founded an asbestos factory.


8. Harper Lee: Ticket Agent

After dropping out of a law degree at the University of Alabama, Harper Lee moved to New York in 1949, working as a ticket agent for Eastern Airlines and BOAC. She wrote articles and short stories in her spare time. In 1956 the Broadway lyricist and composer Michael Brown, (met through her childhood friend Truman Capote) gave her one year’s wages as a Christmas present, with a note, “You have one year off to write whatever you please.” A year later, she had completed the first draft of To Kill A Mockingbird. If only all writers had benefactors like Michael Brown!


9. Arundhati Roy: Architect/Aerobics Instructor

Although originally a trained architect; Arundhati Roy made a career out of various odd jobs. She worked as an aerobics instructor, sold cakes, acted, and worked on films and TV scripts before writing her first, prize winning novel, The God of Small Things.


11. Vladimir Nabokov: Curator

Vladimir Nabokov had already published various novels in Russian before he and his family fled Europe for the United States in 1940. He joined Wellesley College, Massachusetts, and then Harvard, becoming curator of the butterfly collection at the Museum of Comparative Zoology. Nabokov wrote several authoritative works about butterflies and moths as well as his most famous novel, Lolita.


12: JD Salinger: Luxury Cruise Activities Director

After a relationship breakdown in 1941, JD Salinger worked for a year as activities director on board a luxury Caribbean cruise liner, the MS Kungsholm, before joining the army when the US joined the war after Pearl Harbour, and fighting in Normandy. He already had an interest in writing, but meeting Ernest Hemingway in Paris encouraged him to continue pursuing a career in writing. The Catcher in the Rye was published in 1951.


13. Kurt Vonnegut: Car Dealer

Vonnegut published his first novel, Player Piano in 1952, but maintained a variety of day jobs including opening a Saab dealership in Barnstable, Massachusetts in 1947.


14. T.S. Eliot: Bank Clerk

T.S. Eliot’s job as a banker is one of the most famous ‘day jobs’ of 20th century writers. Read more about how he resisted attempts to make him give up his work at Lloyds to concentrate on his writing here.-
eliot-bloomsbury-fund

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about the day jobs of other writers. How has your working life inspired your own writing? Do let us know.

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So, it’s the beginning of the Summer term, if not quite feeling summery as yet – or even particularly Spring like. Still, whether you’re writing outdoors on a sunlounger or indoors wearing three jumpers, we’ve collected together competitions with deadlines to take you up to midsummer.


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1. Bath Short Story Award

Details: An international contest for stories of up to 2,200 words on any subject, judged this year by Euan Thornycroft from literary agents A M Heath.
Entry Fee:£8.
Deadline: 23rd April 2018.
Prizes: £1,200, £300, £100. Local Prize – £50 in book vouchers. Acorn Award for an unpublished writer – £100


2. James White Award

Details: A free contest for science fiction stories of between 1,000 and 6,000 words, supported by the publishers of Interzone, the UK’s leading science fiction magazine.
Entry Fee: None.
Deadline: 27th April 2018.
Prizes: £200 and publication in ‘Interzone’.


3. Bath Novel Award

Details: A competition for unpublished or self-published novels in any genre, aimed at adults or young adults. Submit the first 5,000 words plus a one-page synopsis. If longlisted you will be expected to submit the full manuscript in May.
Entry Fee:£25
Deadline: 30th April 2018.
Prizes: 1st – £2,500. Shortlisted entrants will receive manuscript feedback and literary agent introductions. The most promising longlisted entrant will receive an online professional editing course from Cornerstones Literary Consultancy.


4. Belfast Book Festival Mairtin Crawford Awards

Details: A contest for poems and stories by writers who have not yet had a full collection published. Poetry – each submission should consist of between 6 and 10 poems, each poem being less than 60 lines each. Stories (one per submission) should be less than 2,000 words.
Entry Fee: £5 for each submission of one story or 6 to 10 poems.
Deadline: 1st May 2018.
Prizes: Winners in each category will receive a six-month professional mentorship with editorial advice, other prizes yet to be announced, and an invitation to read at the awards celebration one evening during the Festival.


5. Poetry London Clore Prize

Details:Poetry London, a magazine with nationwide and international scope despite its title, is seeking poems of up to 80 lines on any subject and in any style. This year’s judge is award-winning poet Kwame Dawes.
Entry Fee: £7
Deadline: 1st May 2018.
Prizes:£5,000, £2,000, £1,000 and 4 x £500.


6. Bristol Short Story Prize

Details: A competition for stories of up to 4,000 words on any theme.
Entry Fee:£8.
Deadline: 1st May 2018.
Prizes: £1,000, £700, £400. Runners-up (17) – £100. Twenty stories will be published in the Bristol Short Story Prize Anthology Volume 11.


7. Yeovil Literary Prize

Details:There are four categories: Short Story, Poetry, Novel and Unrestricted. The stories can be up to 2,000 words, the poems should be no more than 40 lines. Novels have a limit of 15,000 words for the opening chapters and synopsis. The final category can be anything with a ‘wow’ factor.
Entry Fee: Short Story – £7. Poetry – £7 each, £10 for two, £12 for three. Novel – £12 each. Writing Without Restrictions – £5.
Deadline: 31st May 2018.
Prizes: Short Story – £500, £200, £100. Poetry – £500, £200, £100. Novel – £1,000, £250, £100. Writing Without Restrictions – £200, £100, £50.


8. Segora Writing Competition

Details: Run by ‘Poetry Prose and Plays’, this competition is for short stories of between 1,500 and 3,000 words, poems of up to 50 lines, one-act plays with a running time of up to 35 minutes, and vignettes of up to 300 words. Read last year’s winners for all categories on the website.
Entry Fees: Short Stories – £7 each, £13 for two, £19 for three. Vignettes and Poems – £5 each for the first, £2.50 each after that. Plays – £12.
Deadline: 15th June 2018.
Prizes: Short Stories and Poetry – £300, £50, £30. Vignettes – £100. Plays – £100. Winners will be published on the website.


9. Eyelands International Short Story Competition

Details: A competition for short stories of up to 2,500 words, this year with the theme of ‘Luggage’.
Entry Fee: 10 euros.
Deadline: 20th June 2018.
Prizes:A week’s holiday for two on the island of Crete (flights not included). The shortlisted stories will be published in an English language anthology available on Amazon, and the top three entries will also be published in Greek.


10. McLellan Poetry Competition

Details: An annual contest for poems of up to 80 lines on any subject, judged this year by award-winning poet Sinéad Morrissey.
Entry Fee: £6 for the first. £5 for further poems.
Deadline: 21st June 2018
Prizes:£1500, £300, £150, and 6 prizes of £25.


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

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Writing a book and building a house are very different endeavours. Find out what the two things have in common in our guide to constructing your novel.



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The Construction Industry

In some ways, writing a novel is like building and decorating a house.*

1. First you’ve got to plan it carefully, lay careful foundations, build it up story by story (see what I did there?) and make it stable and watertight.

2. After that, you can go back in, add plumbing and electrics, and plaster the walls; flesh out the scaffolding of your story, round out each chapter.

3. Then you can decorate, paint the room the perfect colour, add curtains, rugs, and furniture, editing your work and refining your prose so that the ‘house’ is finally finished.

4. Finally add a few extra accessories – some fresh flowers, some pictures on the walls – great typesetting, some illustrations, a beautiful book cover – and it’s ready for your housewarming party/book launch!



Home Improvements

Ok, so council officials won’t actually come around if you starting ‘building’ your novel without proper planning. Perhaps you just got caught up in the moment, and made it up as you went along. If you’ve built a wonky shack, where plot holes and inconsistencies are threatening to cause your structure to collapse, it’s not too late to make a synopsis or a detailed chapter plan. You can then see how you could strengthen the foundations, altering the storyline, removing characters or plot points that don’t need to be there – or focusing more on other characters and adding further twists to your tale as needed.

Luckily, unlike bricks and mortar, you can easily change your prose if you realise half way through that it’s not looking the way you wanted. Cut out paragraphs, pages or even chapters if they don’t need to be there. Too much description or meandering dialogue could be removed without impacting on the rest of the manuscript.

If you’ve been working on your novel for many years, you might need to change or update your ‘decor’ to make your style really fresh. Re-write whole paragraphs or pages if you need to, so that your style is consistent all through. Re-word your sentences to make them shorter and more direct, without additional unneeded adverbs. You could also break up complicated ideas to make your meaning clearer. Check your text for words you might overuse, and substitute alternatives – or cut them out altogether if you can. You can also call in some skilled ‘trades’ to help finish the house to the highest standards – instead of plasterers and electricians, there are proof-readers and editors to help.



Build A Cabin

You’ve invested a lot of time and effort into ‘building’ your novel. But if things aren’t working out, sometimes, it’s just time to start something fresh. Instead of working and reworking the same old chapters, maybe you could construct a little holiday ‘cabin’ instead – something like a short story that you know that you can finish quickly.
Get inspiration from entering a competition – writing to a particular theme, word count and deadline date can really help focus the mind. We’d advise against starting a whole new novel at this point, but you could revisit a previous building project you may have abandoned – is it a ‘fixer upper’? Is there potential in it for a quick refurbishment?

A break from your long term project can help you gain perspective, and the skills learned writing to a specific word count or editing a previous book can be really useful to getting your ‘house’ finished to perfection.



Let us know about your own literary ‘Grand Designs’!
*Apologies for the tenuous extended metaphor.



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Are you the kind of parent that remembers that it’s World Book Day only as your children are stepping out of the door in their school uniform? The boy next door is dressed as The Cat in the Hat and his sister is Pippi Longstocking in a ginger wig – and you suddenly have a vague recollection of a scrunched up letter from school about fancy dress. Well World Book Day is on 1 March- you have been warned! We’ve got some quick solutions for last minute costumes.



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These days it’s easy enough to buy an outfit – there are racks of Harry Potter, Alice in Wonderland and Willy Wonka costumes lined up in many large supermarkets. But do you really want to spend all that money, especially if you’ve got more than one child to kit out (and do you have enough time to rush there before school when World Book Day has slipped your mind yet again?)

If by any chance you don’t want to spend the rest of your week trying to create the perfect costume (then throwing your sewing machine and the outfits out the window when your children refuse to wear your dodgy efforts) then here are some quick and easy options.


1. What the Dickens?

Find some particularly threadbare clothes in the bag you intended taking to the charity shop three months ago, give them a few extra rips, cut off the hems and fray them. Then either rub a bit of dirt in your kid’s face – or just don’t make them wash off the breakfast gruel (porridge) around their chops. Ta dah! It’s Oliver Twist.

Alternatively, if your son is called Oliver, (and the chances are he might be, judging by recent ‘favourite baby names’ lists) just make him twizzle around like a demented fidget spinner or Tasmanian Devil for the rest of the day and forget the costume altogether.


2. Roald Rules

The master storyteller Roald Dahl created many weird and wonderful characters – and quite a few of them don’t require much of a costume.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

The above ’Oliver’costume would also work for a poverty stricken Charlie Bucket. Just add a ‘Golden Ticket’, or in this case, perhaps a ‘Silvery Ticket’ made out of tinfoil.

James and the Giant Peach

If your son is called James, or even if he isn’t, buy the biggest peach you can find in the corner shop on the way to school. If they don’t have peaches, perhaps a melon, or any spherical fruit would do. Or just stick a leaf on an basketball.

George’s Marvellous Medicine

Get your child to bring a massive saucepan, a wooden spoon, and the dregs of your kitchen cupboard
to school. Avoid bringing alcohol – or any nuts. Ask your mother in law to take your son to school for added effect, especially if she is wizened and evil looking.

Matilda

Find a blue dress, a red ribbon, and ask your daughter to look unusually intelligent for the day.
Advise her to call her headmistress ‘Miss Trunchbull’ at every opportunity to stay in character – although it’s better if she keeps her talents for telekinesis under wraps.


3. Halloween Part II

Many halloween costumes can do double duty on World Book Day. If you have a witch’s costume, then again Roald Dahl comes in with The Witches, there’s Room on the Broom and Meg and Mog. Combined with a school uniform you’ve also got The Worst Witch and of course, with added lipliner scar and glasses, Harry Potter. Halloween black cats could turn into the Cat in the Hat. If you have some left-over halloween cobwebs (or haven’t cleaned your house since last September) then grab some black legging and a black t-shirt, stuff some old black tights with newspaper for extra legs and ‘Abracadabra!’ your child could be the most literate of arachnids, Charlotte from Charlotte’s Web.


4. Animal Magic

Lots of children have animal costumes already, or at least hats with ears, masks, furry gillets or fluffy onesies. Add a bit of facepaint or make a quick mask from a paper plate…and it’s the cast of the Just So Stories, Fantastic Mr Fox, The Sheep-Pig, the cast of Wind in the Willows, Beatrix Potter’s animal kingdom, almost any animal sitting on a rhyming object (Puma on A Satsuma, Puffin on a Muffin) from Oi Frog, Aslan from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe the tiger from The Tiger That Came to Tea, the mouse, or many other creatures from The Gruffalo.

But if that sounds like too much hard work then…


5. Last Minute Literacy

It’s five minutes till you have to leave the house, and it’s really too late to create anything particularly inventive with bits of cereal packet and elastic bands. But don’t panic – your child can still look literate if their costumes are inspired by these books and they:

  • The Boy in The Dress – Wear a dress (particularly effective if your child is a boy)
  • The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas – Wear some pajamas. Preferably stripey. Again, more effective if your child is a boy.
  • Ballet Shoes – Wear some ballet shoes, and any other ballet paraphernalia.
  • Harry and His Bucketful of Dinosaurs – Bring some plastic dinosaurs in a bucket.
  • Diary of A Wimpy Kid – Look a bit weak and miserable.
  • The Very Hungry Caterpiller – Wear a green garden refuse sack and don’t eat breakfast.

We hope that’s been of use, and have a wonderful World Book Day!



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It’s Valentine’s Day next week, so here are some quotations from famous authors and thinkers – to inspire a deeper love, to make you think of love in a different way, or even to write on a banner to fly behind the plane you’ve hired as a Valentine’s surprise. Or just in a card, according to your budget.



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1. If my Valentine you won’t be,
I’ll hang myself on your Christmas tree.
― Ernest Hemingway, 88 Poems


2. “Right,’ he said, sitting on Harry’s ankles, ‘here is your singing Valentine: His eyes are as green as a fresh pickled toad, His hair is as dark as a blackboard. I wish he was mine, he’s really divine, The hero who conquered the Dark Lord.”
― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets


3. “A real love letter is made of insight, understanding, and compassion. Otherwise it’s not a love letter. A true love letter can produce a transformation in the other person, and therefore in the world. But before it produces a transformation in the other person, it has to produce a transformation within us. Some letters may take the whole of our lifetime to write.”
― Thich Nhat Hanh, Your True Home: The Everyday Wisdom of Thich Nhat Hanh



4. “You are always new. The last of your kisses was ever the sweetest; the last smile the brightest; the last movement the gracefullest. When you pass’d my window home yesterday, I was fill’d with as much admiration as if I had then seen you for the first time…Even if you did not love me I could not help an entire devotion to you.”
― John Keats, Bright Star: Love Letters and Poems of John Keats to Fanny Brawne


5. “As he read, I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.”
― John Green, The Fault in Our Stars


6.“I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where. I love you simply, without problems or pride: I love you in this way because I do not know any other way of loving but this, in which there is no I or you, so intimate that your hand upon my chest is my hand, so intimate that when I fall asleep your eyes close.”
― Pablo Neruda, 100 Love Sonnets


7. “There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves, it is not my nature.”
― Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey


8.“To love or have loved, that is enough. Ask nothing further. There is no other pearl to be found in the dark folds of life.”
― Victor Hugo, Les Misérables



9. “It has made me better loving you … it has made me wiser, and easier, and brighter. I used to want a great many things before, and to be angry that I did not have them. Theoretically, I was satisfied. I flattered myself that I had limited my wants. But I was subject to irritation; I used to have morbid sterile hateful fits of hunger, of desire. Now I really am satisfied, because I can’t think of anything better.”
― Henry James ‘The Portrait Of A Lady’


10. “O love is the crooked thing,
There is nobody wise enough
To find out all that is in it,
For he would be thinking of love
Till the stars had run away
And the shadows eaten the moon.
Ah, penny, brown penny, brown penny,
One cannot begin it too soon.”

― William Butler Yeats, ‘Brown Penny’


We hope you have enjoyed these quotations – do let us know if you’d like to share any favourite love poems or quotations of your own.

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Writing competitions can be very motivating – there are usually guidelines and word counts, deadlines to help you finish, and a prize to inspire you. So why not have a go, and write your way to success before Easter?



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1. Atlantis Short Story Competition

Details: This annual international contest from the USA is for stories of between 300 and 2.500 words on any theme. Stories can be fiction or based on true events – and they can be written by two people if you’d prefer to collaborate.
Entry Fee:$10
Deadline: 25th February 2018
Prizes: 1st – $300, $100, $50. The three winners also receive in-depth feedback.


2. Exeter Writers Short Story Competition

Details:This annual contest is for stories of up to 3,000 words on any theme.
Entry Fee: £6.
Deadline: 28th February 2018.
Prizes:£500, £250, £100. There is also a prize for £100 for a writer from Devon. Winners will be published on the website.


3. Margery Allingham Short Story Competition

Details: Open to published and unpublished writers, the competition is for stories of up to 3,500 words. These must comply with Margery Allingham’s own definition of a mystery, “a crime, a mystery, an enquiry and a conclusion, the conclusion providing reader satisfaction”.
Entry Fee: £12.
Deadline: 28th February 2018.
Prizes:£500 plus two weekend passes to Crimefest 2019 and a selection of Margery Allingham books.


4. Fish Flash Fiction Competition

Details:This annual competition is for stories running to no more than 300 words.
Entry Fee:14 euros.
Deadline: 28th February 2018.
Prizes: 1st – 1,000 euros. 2nd – An online writing course with Fish. The best 10 entries will be published in the Fish Anthology. The writers will each receive five copies.


5. Papatango New Writing Prize

Details:This playwriting contest from the Papatango Theatre Company is for full-length plays of at least 60 minutes performance time (sixty minutes, they say, is at least 40 pages or 6,000 words).
Entry Fee: Free
Deadline: 28th February 2018.
Prizes: A 4-week production at Southwalk Playhouse, publication by Nick Hern Books, 10% royalities on gross box office, and a £6,000 commission to develop a follow-up play.


6. The White Review Short Fiction Competition

Details: This contest from literary magazine The White Review is for stories of between 2,000 and 7,000 words. It is open to writers in Britain and Ireland who have yet to secure a publishing deal.
Entry Fee: £15. There are 50 free entries on offer for low-income writers.
Deadline: 1st March 2018
Prizes: £2,500.


7. The Rialto Nature & Place Poetry Competition

Details: A competition for poems of up to 40 lines which deal with any aspect of nature and place.
Entry Fee: £6 for the first, £3.50 thereafter.
Deadline: 1st March 2018.
Prizes:1st – £1,000. 2nd – £500. 3rd – A place on a creative writing course at Ty Newyyd Writing Centre. There are two additional prizes of personal tours conducted by two of the judges, each taking in their favourite wildlife place.


8. SLF Salariya Children’s Picture Book Prize

Details:A competition for children’s picture books, with a target age group is 0 to 5. Submissions must include both words and illustrations, and the book should be 28 pages excluding end papers and covers. The text should not rhyme. More details about how to enter are on the website. To be eligible to enter you must be 16 or over and not have had a picture book published before, and you should not be represented by an agent.
Entry Fee: Free
Deadline: 5th March 2018, 5.30pm
Prizes: Publication in hardback by Scribblers (a Salariya imprint) plus a £5,000 advance.


9. Rubery Book Award

Details: An annual award is for books published by independent publishers or self-published. There are various categories (see website). To enter, send a hardcopy of your book by post or submit an ebook electronically.
Entry Fee: A rather hefty £36
Deadline: 31st March 2018.
Prizes: 1st – £1,500, and the book will be read by a literary agent at MBA in London. Runnerss-up (3) – £150.


10. Wergle Flomp Humour Poetry Competition

p style=“padding-left:1em;”> Details: This contest is for published or unpublished humorous poems of up to 250 lines. Check out past winners and judge’s comments (in the Contest Archives accessed from the Our Contests menu), to find information about things the judges frown upon.
Entry Fee: Free, one entry per person.
Deadline: 1st April 2018.
Prizes: $1,000. 2nd – $250. Runners-up (10) – $100.


Good luck if you decide to enter any of these competitions – and do let us know how you get on.


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It’s cold outside, the nights are still long, everyone’s stopped drinking and purses are empty after Christmas excesses. Depressing? Well the good news is, there’s no better time to stay in and write your entries for these 10 fantastic writing competitions, all with deadlines up to 14th February.



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1. Kent & Sussex Poetry Society Open Competition

Details: An annual contest for poems of up to 40 lines on any subject.
Entry Fee: £5 each. Three or more £4 each.
Deadline: 31st January 2018
Prizes: £1,000, £300, £100, 4 x £50. Winners will be published in the society’s Poetry Folio.


2. Fish Short Memoir Competition

Details: A writing competition for memoirs of up to 4,000 words.
Entry Fee: 16 euros.
Deadline: 31st January 2018
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.


3. New Welsh Writing Award

Details: You don’t need to be Welsh to enter this competition – but if you live outside of the UK or Ireland, you do have to have been educated in Wales. The contest is for an essay collection of between 5,000 and 30,000 words. Your entry should consist of at least two essays.
Entry Fee: Free
Deadline: 1st February 2018.
Prizes: 1st – £1,000 as an advance for ebook publication by New Welsh Review. 2nd – A writing course at Ty Newydd. 3rd – A weekend stay at Gladstone’s Library.



4. Baen Memorial Short Story Award

Details: A competition for realistic science-based near-future space exploration stories of no more than 8,000 words. Please read the ’Do’s and ’Don’ts’ list on the competition website page before entering your story.
Entry Fee: Free
Deadline: 1 February 2018. (12.01am US Pacific Time)
Prizes:1st – Publication as the feature story on the Baen Books website at industry standard rates, an engraved award, free entry into the 2018 International Space Development Conference, a year’s membership of the (American) National Space Society and a bundle of books and space merchandise. Runners-up will receive books and merchandise as well as free entry into the Space Development Conference.


5. Chiplitfest Short Story Competition

Details: A short story competition for stories on any theme up to 5,000 words.
Entry Fee: £5 for stories no longer than 2,500 words. £8 for up to 5,000 words.
Deadline: 7th February 2018.
Prizes: £500, £100, £50.


6. Lucy Cavendish College Fiction Prize

Details: The competition is sponsored by London literary agents Peters Fraser Dunlop, and is open only to women over 21 who have not had a full-length novel published (self-published doesn’t count). They are looking for novels combining literary merit with ‘unputdownability’. These can be literary or genre fiction, or novels for young adults or children. To enter you 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: 9th February 2018 (noon).
Prizes: £1,500. The shortlisted entrants will receive a consultation with one of the judges, literary agent Marilla Savvides. They will also be invited to the prize-giving dinner at the College



7. Spread the Word Life Writing Prize

Details: This competition is open to new and emerging writers aged 18 or over. It is for ‘life writing’, which is defined for this contest as non-fiction writing about someone’s own life journey or experiences (see further explanations on the website). Your entry doesn’t have to be entirely prose. It can contain poetry, or it could be like a graphic novel with illustrations. There is a word limit of 5,000. Your entry may be a self-contained item or an extract from a longer work. The writing must be unpublished. You however can have up to six professional publishing credits in fiction, life writing or poetry.
Entry Fee: Free.
Deadline: 9th February 2018.
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


8. International Bath Flash Fiction Award

Details: This contest is for short fiction of up to 300 words. There is no set theme.
Entry Fee: £9 for one, £12 for two, £18 for three.
Deadline: 11 February 2018.
Prizes:£1,000, £300, £100.


9.Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook Short Story Competition

Details: This annual international competition from the W&A Yearbook is for stories of under 2,000 words on any theme. Please note that before emailing your entry, you have to register with the website. Your entry will not be valid otherwise.
Entry Fee: Free
Deadline: 13th February 2018.
Prizes: A place on one of Arvon’s 4- or 6-day Clockhouse Writing retreats and your story published on the Writers’ & Artists’ website.


10. Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine

Details: Poems of up to 50 lines on a medical subject are required. There are two categories, Open, and Health Professional. Please see the website for more details.
Entry Fee:£7 online, £10 postal
Deadline: 14th February 2018.
Prizes: £1,000, £500, £250. Winning poems will be published online and in an anthology.


Good luck if you enter any of these competitions – and watch out for our next batch of competition details, coming soon.


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Bored of reading ‘A Christmas Carol’ at this time of year? Here are some new reading suggestions, very tenuously linked to Christmas via the lyrics of ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’.


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1. A Partridge In A Pear Tree

I, Partridge: We Need To Talk About Alan

What other book could we suggest for a partridge themed book? "The autobiography of (fictional) broadcaster Alan Partridge is even funnier when you hear the audiobook, read by Alan’s alter ego, Steve Coogan.










2. Two Turtle Doves

Two Turtle Doves: A Memoir of Making Things

Two Turtle Doves by Alex Monroe apparently “traces the intimate journey of how an idea is transformed from a fleeting thought into an exquisite piece of jewellery.” So that’s nice.








3. Three French Hens

You could go for the magnificently named How to Raise Chicks, Including Revision of Facts About White Diarrhoea: A Practical Book That Tells How to Select and Manage Breeding Fowls by Prince T Woods. Or for a more continental experience, read about hens in French (and English) with Handa’s Hen.







4. Four Calling Birds

Apparently it wasn’t always ‘calling birds’ but perhaps ‘colly birds’ which are in fact, blackbirds. So how about getting back to nature with The Blackbird Diaries: A Year with Wildlife.










5. Five Gold Rings

We could venture to suggest Pride and Prejudice, as “it is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” There are five daughters in the Bennet family who will all eventually be ‘in need a husband’ – and therefore five gold rings. This is the children’s ‘Seek and Find’ version, where you need to search for characters illustrated in the book – a kind of ’Where’s Mr Darcy?‘. If that doesn’t take your fancy, then how about The Lord of The Rings?








6. Six Swans A-Swimming

Swan: The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova is a beautiful picture book biography perfect for aspiring ballerinas of all ages.










7. Seven Geese A-Laying

The classic The Snow Goose by Paul Gallico is set in the Essex marshes, and is the story about the relationship between a hunchback and a small girl. A bit different from to the other classic from that county, the ITV show, ‘The Only Way Is Essex’.










8. Eight Maids A-Milking

Another classic from Thomas Hardy – Tess of The D’Urbervilles tells the tragic story of a beautiful young girl, who, essentially for our purposes, is at one point a milk maid in a dairy. The tale may not be so jolly, but the good news is, it’s on sale on Amazon for £0.01. Happy Christmas!











9. Nine Ladies Dancing

We could refer back to number six, the book about Anna Pavlova, or the Strictly Come Dancing Annual, but you could also read the many volumes of Antony Powell’s A Dance to the Music of Time.










10. Ten Lords-A-Leaping
Who can resist the flashing legs and mahogany skin of Irish dancer, Michael Flatly? Find out more than you probably want to know about him by reading his autobiography The Lord of The Dance.

Leaping can be a leap of faith, as well as a physical leap, and so if for some bizarre reason Michael Flatley holds no attraction for you, then we suggest The Leap: The Psychology of Spiritual Awakening.








11. Eleven Pipers Piping

Read about Scotland’s magical sprites as well as those droning pipes, with Bagpipes, Beasties and Bogles. with charming Quentin Blake-esque illustrations.








12. Twelve Drummers Drumming

If you’re feeling like a more high-brow read, then how about The Tin Drum by winner of the 1999 Nobel Prize in Literature, Gunter Grass? Or if you fancied something different, then may we suggest The Little Drummer Girl by John Le Carré


We hope you have a wonderful Christmas and look forward to seeing your new books published with us in 2018!


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