Update

creative writing

Well there’s good news and then there’s not so good news I suppose.

On the plus side I have a number of creative writing projects on the go and a very busy writing month ahead. At the end of this month there is the annual Scottish Association of Writers Conference and this will be my third time attending. I come away with a huge buzz and buckets of inspiration, and it’s just fantastic to be in a room full of people that share the same interest. I have entered a couple of the competitions again so fingers crossed that I can repeat last year’s success……

Then the following week I have booked a place up at Moniack Mohr near Inverness for ‘Writing Practice: with the team from the University of Dundee’. I can’t wait! A whole week to devote to writing without any distractions – a bit of an indulgence I know, but I think I deserve it! :)  This is billed as an ‘intensive package of practical workshops, discussion, seminars and one on one tutorials’. Think I may need a lie down with a cold cloth when I get back! I am lucky enough to have met Eddie Small and Lindsay Macgregor when they have adjudicated at our writing group in the past, so I already know that it’s going to be very worthwhile.

Speaking of adjudications, my own adjudication of the flash fiction went well last week and it was definitely a valuable exercise on my part. The feedback was positive and, after hours of deliberation, I am pretty confident that I got the placings right in the end.

On the not so plus side however, this is the first month since starting the blog where there have been no entries for the mini writing competition. As such I feel it is time to take stock and re-evaluate this side of the blog as, sadly, things do seem to have stalled a little recently. I will therefore be taking a break from the official monthly writing prompts, although I would still be happy to post on behalf of other writers and to share work from all the lovely contacts I have made through this process, as I still strongly believe in the spirit of co-operation and mutual support between the online writing community. I will also continue to post any useful writing tips I come across and any other valuable advice.

In the meantime I would like to say a big thank you to all those contributors to my monthly writing prompts over the past (almost) two years and I look forward to continuing our on-going online relationships through other avenues for the time being. Wishing you all the very best in your own writing/creative exploits and I will enjoy reading your blogs as usual.

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My experience as a writing competition adjudicator….

20120130-093459.jpg

I have just spent a relaxing few days in Crieff Hydro over half term break and have used the time to finish off adjudications that I am doing for the Angus Writers’ Circle flash fiction competition.  I have never adjudicated a competition before and I was a little hesitant to take it on at first as I wondered whether I was qualified enough to do it.  However, I am now very glad that I agreed to it as I have found the exercise to be quite an eye opener into just how involved and subjective these type of processes are, and I have also learnt a lot about what I like and don’t like quite so much in terms of writing style, which I’m sure I can also apply to my own writing.

Having entered a fair few writing competitions myself over the past couple of years, whether it be for the Scottish Association of Writers’ Annual Conference, or ones with my writing group, I have heard a lot of adjudicators say that it was difficult to come up with a final 3 (or 4 or 5) and that their top entries moved around a lot before they finally decided on the outcome.  Part of me used to just think that they were simply being polite/encouraging/motivational etc., however I can now totally see where they were coming from!  I have chosen a first, second and third place, with one highly commended and one commended entry and I think I am now fairly sure which entries will be in my top 5, but even now they are still moving around and it is very difficult to make a final decision and to just stick to it.

I read them when I first received them just before Christmas and have re-read them all a number of times since then.  I thought I had eventually cracked it, but then when I started to type up my comments for the various entries it made me look at them again in even closer detail (not just as a reader, but also as a writer), and things changed yet again.  It is also fair to say that most of the entries had something I liked, even if there were other parts of them that I was not quite so keen on, so the next time I am on the other side of an adjudication, I will have a far greater appreciation of just what is involved.

As for the outcome, I am due to give my verdicts this coming Wednesday and just hope that I will make the right choices.  However I think I feel more exposed than those who entered the competition in the first place! :)

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New Writing Prompt For February….

carnival mask

With apologies for the slightly late post, but I can now reveal that the writing prompt for February is ‘Carnival’, courtesy of last month’s winner,  lassfromlancashire.  She suggested that,  as Shrove Tuesday is this month and that is when there are pre-Lenten carnivals in some countries, the subject of  “Carnival” would be appropriate, however people wanted to interpret it.

I think that conjures up a host of possibilities and hope it sparks the creative process in those who may want to take part.

As such I welcome you to submit a piece of flash fiction (under 500 words) or poetry on ‘Carnival’ and I look forward to hopefully reading some lively entries.

The closing date for submissions will be the 24th of the month as usual, and you will be able to vote for your favourite between then and the end of the month, with the winner setting the writing prompt for March.

As always, good luck to all who enter :).

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And January’s winner is………………

wiinners cup

I am pleased to say that January’s winner, with her very authentic take on the writing prompt inspired by Christina Rossetti’s ‘In the bleak midwinter’, is lassfromlancashire.  A well deserved win and, once I have liaised with her, I will get back to you with the writing prompt for February.  (Scary that we are into February already – where did January go??)

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Voting for January is now open!

vote now

Voting for the first mini competition of 2015 is now open so please vote and ensure that your favourite wins.  (With only 3 entries, I can’t promise the excitement of the Greek elections, but I’ll do my best! ;) )

As usual, voting will remain open until the end of the month and the winner will then get to set the next writing prompt.

Who will you vote for?

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‘Hasten Spring’

Here’s my own cheeky little entry, which I thought I would squeeze in before tomorrow evening’s deadline.  Keats it certainly isn’t! :)   Still, it’s just a bit of fun, so hope it at least provides a temporary distraction from all the bad weather… (and I love the picture!)

spring bud

HASTEN SPRING

Halloween is in October,
Thanksgiving’s the next month,
then it’s Christmas in December,
families and turkey lunch.

But January has nothing
bar cold wind, ice and snow.
Amid bleak winter, hasten Spring,
help us and nature grow.

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‘Mid-winter’ by Jan Strickland

I am very happy to welcome back Jan with her take on the writing prompt of ‘in the bleak mid-winter’.  It is perhaps a less literal take on the theme, but one that works equally as well and has a glimmer of hope at the end.  Thank you Jan for taking part once again.

barn

Clutching her little, well-loved Teddy bear that she had been given for her 3rd birthday, 7 year old Tracy hid beneath the sacking in the barn.

It was cold, mid-winter, but at least she was out of the biting wind and lashing rain.

“We will be fine here Toby until the morning, then we can creep out of the village;they won’t know where we are until later. After all, the party will go on late and they will be too smashed to notice I’ve gone. Sorry Toby, they won’t notice WE have gone.”

Toby seemed to nod sagely, his glass eyes staring blankly at her.

“Why do you think they don’t love me Toby? I love them, even when they yell at each other. Is it something I’ve done do you think?”

She snuggled down and tried to sleep, clutching her beloved bear. The rain beat down on the corrugated roof, the sound eventually helped her to drift off to sleep.

Tracy woke up to the sound of sirens, and people calling out her name.

“Oh, thank the Lord, Bob, she’s in here. Tracy why did you run away? We were frantic with worry.”

Tracy looked up solemnly at her mother and a large solitary tear escaped and trickled down her cheek. “Mummy, you and Daddy are always fighting and yelling at each other, and it’s all my fault.”

“No, oh no it’s not your fault darling. Daddy and l have been having a few problems, but we are trying to work things out and it’s nothing to do with you, I promise. Please pet, don’t worry us by running away again, we both love you so much.”

At that she swept her Daughter up in her arms and carried her to the waiting car.

 

 

(c) Jan Strickland

 

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‘In The Bleak Midwinter’ by lassfromlancashire

I am very pleased to share with you the first entry for this month’s mini competition, which I think has addressed the writing prompt perfectly!  Thank you and welcome back to lassfromlancashire.

winter tree

lassfromlancashire says:

In the bleak midwinter
Friends are apt to moan
“My fingertips are frozen
My feet feel like a stone
Snow and hail are falling fast
Snow piles up on snow
If only it would melt away
If only it would go!”

“Come now, Winter’s not so bad
And if you wrap up warm,
A good thick coat and woolly scarf
Will shield you from the storm.
Come out and see the lovely trees
All decked out in snow
The skaters and the sledges
See how swift they go.”

Winter can be beautiful
Don’t sit at home and sigh
A Winter Wonderland awaits
Come out, you’ll soon see why!

(c) Esme

 

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New Writing Prompt For January….

birds flying from tree

I hope, like me, you are eager to continue writing in 2015?  If so why not join in with this month’s mini writing competition to get those literary muscles working again, after what may well have been a somewhat saggy festive season?

Thank you to Jane Dougherty who has provided this month’s writing prompt of ‘In the bleak midwinter’, after taking inspiration from the Christina Rossetti poem.

As such I welcome you to submit a piece of flash fiction (under 500 words) or poetry on ‘In the bleak midwinter’ and I look forward to reading any entries which may come in over the course of the month.

The closing date for submissions will be the 24th of the month as usual, and you will be able to vote for your favourite between then and the end of the month, with the winner setting the writing prompt for February.

As always, good luck to all who enter :).

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Happy New Writing Year!

new year

After a frenetic December, which all but disappeared in a blur, I am happy to be back and to wish you all the very best for 2015.  I hope you had a lovely festive season and have lots of plans for the new year.

What are your writing / reading ambitions?  Mine are to try to get a bit more structure in my writing life (and to that end it is fantastic that I can now finally see my desk again having just cleared it of wrapping paper, sellotape, cards, pens, lists, labels, and other festive remains – yesterday was my twins’ 7th birthday so we go right through!!)  I also aim to submit more work to magazines and to enter writing competitions, particularly in the writing for children field, where I feel I have a bit of momentum behind me at present.  Fingers crossed 2015 turns out to be a good one!…..

As far as reading is concerned, my only problem seems to be that there are so many great books out there that I would love to read that I am spoilt for choice!  One book that I received as a Christmas present was Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’, which I had asked for after hearing good things about it.  If you haven’t already read it, then I would recommend it as a no-nonsense, straight-talking insight into how a successful writer approaches the craft, with a bit of biography thrown in for good measure.

In regards to this blog, if you recall Jane Dougherty won the last mini writing competition of 2014 and so I will be asking her to set the first writing prompt for 2015, and will get back to you shortly.

Hope you have a fruitful coming year and look forward to catching up! :)

 

new year clock

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