Saturday, 25 April 2015

Flash Fiction Competition

 Write a complete story in just 500 words.

This quarterly open-themed competition has closing dates of 31st March, 30th June, 30th September and 31st December. The results are announced within six weeks of each closing date and the three winning entries each quarter will be published on the Flash 500 website.

1st - £300 plus publication in Words with Jam 
2nd - £200
3rd - £100
Highly commended - choice of The Writers' ABC Checklist or Bad Moon Rising
Entry fee: £5 for one story, £8 for two stories
Optional critiques: £10 per story
Full details HERE


Thursday, 23 April 2015

First Page Competition 2015

A few more weeks left yet to enter this year's First Page Competition. Words with Jam are looking for the most captivating first page (up to 400 words) of a story.
Entries can be from a novel published, unpublished, a part written novel, or simply a first page written purely for the competition. Entries will be judged anonymously. 

1st - £500
2nd - £100
3rd - £50

All three winning entries will be published in August 2015 on the Words with JAM website. All entrants will be notified via email with the results.

Closing date is May 31 2015 (midnight GMT)

Full details and entry form HERE

Monday, 13 April 2015

£1,000 Writers’ Village short story comp

£1000 top prize for short fiction in Writers’ Village Contest summer 2015

£1000 is the top prize on offer for short fiction in the Writers' Village International Short Fiction Award summer 2015, with cash prizes totalling £2000. The second prize is £500, third prize £250 and there are five runner up prizes of £50. Ten further Highly Commended entrants will have their stories acknowledged at the site.

Everyone wins because every contestant, win or lose, gains feedback on how their stories were graded - plus tips for improvement.

Winners will be awarded the title ‘Winner, the Writers’ Village International Short Fiction Award summer 2015’ and see their work showcased online.

Any genre of prose fiction may be submitted up to 3000 words, except playscripts and poetry. Entries are welcomed world-wide. The fee is £15 and multiple entries are permitted. Deadline is midnight 30th June 2015. Entry rules plus all winning stories since 2009 can be found at:


Tuesday, 24 March 2015

A Double Launch for Nancy Jardine

A very warm welcome to my guest, Nancy Jardine.
Nancy's WEBSITE Nancy's BLOG

Hello ……. I’m totally delighted that you’ve let me come to share my new launch news with your readers.

Those who already know me a little will have learned that my writing spans the fiction sub-genres of historical romantic adventures; contemporary romantic mysteries; and time travel adventures for a middle grade/YA market. My next two books to hit the launch pad are from these quite different styles of writing – though both were delightful to create!

I’m very excited that on the 27th March 2015, Crooked Cat Publishing is re-launching a new general Monogamy Twist, a light-hearted contemporary romantic mystery. The fabulous quirky new cover, designed by Laurence Patterson of Crooked Cat, reveals a grand house at the centre of the story which is a really excellent image since the plot is based around a Dickensian theme. Luke Salieri finds he’s been bequeathed a dilapidated mansion in Yorkshire…but he can only fully inherit after some weird and antiquated stipulations are fulfilled! He’s never met his benefactress; hasn’t even heard of her but Luke’s never one to back down from a challenge. He needs expert help, though, to find out why Amelia Greywood chose him and Rhia Ashton seems ideal. Rhia, a historian and family tree researcher, seems perfect but it turns out that she has her own ideas of what will make Luke’s strange request worthwhile. Compromise is the name of the game for Luke…and for Rhia.

It’s probably no surprise that the plot for the novel came about as a combination of my watching the current BBC TV Charles Dickens serial of late 2010 and while I was also doing the first forays in researching my own ancestral background. I found a decided black sheep in one of my great-grandfathers: Rhia finds a good few family surprises for Luke in Monogamy Twist! Rhia and Luke were lovely characters to invent but some readers have told me that they love Thor, the Irish wolfhound, even more!

I extend a warm welcome to your readers to join my Facebook Launch Party for Monogamy Twist on the 27th March 2015. Quirky goodies can be won. There’ll be music; food; lovely locations in Yorkshire… Why not pop in and say hello!

My other new launch – The Taexali Game, a time travel historical adventure for a middle grade/ YA readership − will be in April 2015.

Set in northern Roman Britannia (current Aberdeenshire) in AD 210, my valiant trio – Aran, Brian and Fianna – must work through a set task list, part of which is to help both the ‘baddies’ and the ‘goodies’ in the story. The problem is that there are local
Celtic tribespeople who are just as nasty as the invading Roman Emperor Severus and his barbaric son Caracalla. Working out who to trust is a perilous business. Literally sparring with death is a daily occupation back in AD 210, but in The Taexali Game, my teens are up to the challenges facing them!

Graphic designer, Neil Saddler, has done a fabulous job of blending the main elements of the story in the wonderful cover design he’s created for me − depicting locally recognised background scenery in Aberdeenshire; the threat of invasion from the Ancient Roman Legions; my time trio who are about to launch themselves into the adventure!  The Taexali Game will be available in both paperback and ebook formats. 

Nancy Jardine lives in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. She currently shares a home with her husband, daughter, son-in-law, 3 year old granddaughter and 1 year old grandson. It’ll continue to be a busy household till late summer of 2015 when the new build home will be completed for the young ‘uns on what was Nancy’s former back garden. The loss of that part of the garden won’t be missed since there should now be more writing time available this spring and summer! Childminding is intermittent over the day and any writing time is precious. (If interested in how a new house is built these days, follow my blog posts named ‘Gonna build a house’)

All matters historical are a passion; Ancestry research a lovely time-suck. Nancy regularly blogs and loves to have guests visit her blog. Facebooking is a habit she’s trying to keep within reasonable bounds! Any time left in a day is for leisure reading and the occasional historical series on TV.

Amazon Author page for books and to view book trailer videos: US and UK

Novels also available from Barnes and Noble; W.H. Smith;; Smashwords; TESCO Blinkboxbooks; and various other places. 

Thank you for the opportunity to share my news with your readers!


Sunday, 5 October 2014

Writers’ Village Contest winter 2014

£1000 top prize for short fiction in Writers’ Village Contest winter 2014

£1000 is the top prize on offer for short fiction in the Writers' Village International Short Fiction Award winter 2014.

The second prize is £500, third prize £250 and there are five runner up prizes of £50.

A further ten Highly Commended entrants will receive a free entry in the next round.

Everyone wins because every contestant, win or lose, gains feedback on how their stories were graded - plus tips for improvement.

Winners will be awarded the title ‘Winner, the Writers’ Village International Short Fiction Award winter 2014’ and see their work showcased online.

Any genre of prose fiction may be submitted up to 3000 words, except playscripts and poetry.

Entries are welcomed world-wide.

The fee is £15 and multiple entries are permitted.

Deadline is midnight 31st December 2014.

Entry rules plus all winning stories since 2009 can be found at:

Monday, 19 May 2014

Interview with Chris Morton

A warm welcome to Chris Morton, author of two novels, one novella and one non-fiction book about teaching. Chris’ latest work is Phase-Daze-Phase-Daze-Phase.

Find Chris' Blog HERE
Buy Phase-Daze-Phase-Daze-Phase HERE

What was the first thing you had published?
English Slacker is my first published work. It probably shouldn’t have been. You hear many a successful author describe how their first few manuscripts never saw the light of day. There’s a famous saying that you need to get a million words out of your system before you’re ready to be published - Raymond Chandler, Iain Banks and Bill Bryson are all quoted as having said this. But with the revolution in independent publishing, it’s much more likely that you’ll find a way of getting that first novel into print. English Slacker was published, nominated for a Guardian award and then came under scrutiny from the literary community, all in a matter of months. I look back now and see a scratchy first attempt, but that doesn’t mean to say it doesn’t have a certain charm and originality. 

Tell us a little about Phase-Daze-Phase-Daze-Phase. 
I wanted to get away from the Kerouac influenced “voice” style of my previous works. Instead I went for a hard-boiled, punchy approach with short bitter sentences and plenty of dark atmosphere. I’m a fan of early twentieth century pulp novels and my plan was to move this style into a more contemporary environment. Although I changed my style, the subject matter is still the same. Slacker-lit, slice of life, realistic scenes that shy away from the fantastical elements - inertia is once again a major theme. A wish to stray from the path but the inability to do so. Plenty of nihilism. 

Why did you decide to self publish?
The revolution is here! Complete control! Publishing at the click of a button! But anyone who tells you that they had always intended to self publish is lying. The fact is, you send out your manuscript to agents, to the big publishers, confident that your novel will be snapped up in no time. A few months later you’re scrambling around searching for any small independent who’s willing to give your work a chance. And finally, when you’ve exhausted all other options, you turn to self publishing.
Self publishing has a lot going for it though - and it’s free. Goodbye to the vanity publishers!
But I think authors should be careful too. You need to get your manuscript edited, take your time and resist the urge to upload your first draft and publish it as soon as you’ve finished. To keep a high standard you need to aim high. Believe in your work. Write something of a quality that the big publishers require. Falling back on self publishing is a fantastic option to have but it should (and almost always does) remain a last resort.
It is by no means failing, however. Publishing companies have a lot to think about. I know this because I spent some time in the publishing industry. It’s not “publish good book, reject bad one.” It’s “publish what will sell, what’s hot at the moment, something similar to what we already have,” etc. 

What are your writing strengths and weaknesses? 
My stories are very believable. So much so that most of my readers think they are true. My weakness ... well, maybe they’re too realistic. Not heavy enough on the plot element. I love stories where not much happens. Where you dip into another world and that’s enough. Often with the books I read, this world gets shattered as the plot kicks in. I like the build up but I’m hesitant to kill it all with a big explosive ending. I also play games with the reader, suggest possible outcomes rather than describing it all explicitly. Some readers get it, some don’t, but it’s my thing, my signature. 

Do you have a writing routine or any odd writing quirks? 
For Phase-Daze-Phase-Daze-Phase I wrote 250 words a day for a year. Sometimes more, but always at least 250. It was a great way to write. No pressure, enjoyable, and I can highly recommend it. I don’t agree with the whole NaNoWriMo thing (writing 50,000 words in a month), putting yourself through hell but having a manuscript at the end of it. For me that’s nuts.

How important is it to you to plot your novels? 
Well, I’ve written two novels and one novella and for all of them I made it up as I went along. Great fun to write in this way. It’s even a bit like reading a novel, sometimes deciding what will happen next, sometimes allowing the novel itself to take over and lead you in unexpected directions.
I’d like to try the other method, making notes and plotting it all out first ... but at the moment that doesn’t hold as much appeal, and if I don’t enjoy the writing process, it’s difficult to give the novel as much tender loving care as it deserves. Maybe one day. 

Are your characters ever based on people you know? 
Some are based on real people, some based on characters in other books. Usually a character of mine is a blend of two or more people. 

What qualities do you think writers should have? 
Dedication, patience, an obsessive nature, bit nuts ... 

What are you working on at the moment? 
Nothing at the moment. I don’t want to write just for the sake of it. Waiting for another idea to come ... 

Which three words best describe you? 
I’m not good with these questions. I remember one time I had this interview for a teaching job in Japan and there was a section where I had to answer a set of questions with three word answers. I think it was supposed to test how careful I could be with my language when speaking to students. The interviewer was a well dressed, slightly prim and proper young lady, eyeing me nervously over her spectacles every time I began my answer with, “Mmmm, well, you know, I think that usually I ... hang on, that’s more than three words, isn’t it?”
To be honest she never gave me much of a chance. In retrospect she should have shown a bit more humanity, calmed me down and started again. Instead she kept pushing on to the next question.
“So, Chris, how would you motivate a quiet class who seem unwilling to speak?”
“Yes, I ... mmm, I have had a few classes like that in my time and I ... wait a minute, I’ve done it again, haven’t I?”
“I can’t emphasise enough how important it is that you use only three words, Mr Morton.”
But I couldn’t stop myself. Didn’t help that I’d drank an endless amount of coffee that morning. Finally she had to go out of the room to consult her colleague. Coming back in, she stressed again the importance of using only three words; then offered a final couple of questions to which I carefully stuck to the rules.
I remember the final question being, “What do you usually do to relax?”
“I ... watch ... TV,” I said nervously. “Hold up, TV is one word, isn’t it? Television, I watch television.” There I was, counting each word on my fingers, thinking that this time I’d really nailed it.
Suffice to say, I didn’t get the job. 

Chris lives in Taiwan and works as an English teacher. On most days you'll find him either throwing a ball at little kids, wandering around the night market with his iPod and bottle of medicine wine, or fussing over his rather spoilt Persian cats. Occasionally you'll find him writing too.