Monday, 27 November 2006

Children in Need Results

The Children in Need results are now final. Well done to Cedric (1st), Fleur (2nd) and Vanessa (3rd). Two of my stories (one of which, Six Uses for a Hedgehog, is in the CiN anthology) made it to the final 12 which was wonderful. The Nest even got voted first by two different people which made my day, but wasn't quite enough to get me into the top 3 placings.

Still, that means the story has 'legs' so to speak so now I just need to decide if I want to write it into a longer story (it's only 665 words) or cut it into a 500 word flash. I haven't got a ton of stories available to sub to comps at the moment (most of the good ones have already been published) so it would make sense to write it into a longer story - I just need to give it time to sink into my subconsious so my brain can work out where it should go next. Ditto with another flash that scored quite well but wasn't published.

I mentioned in the last post that I finished my Eurofiction entry last night. What I forgot to mention was that I wrote another story on Saturday night for the current (closing on 30th November) Slingink Autumn Inspirations challenge. I really didn't think I could come up with a story that 'captured the essence of autumn' but an image came to mind and then I was off. Even if the story doesn't win the £15 book voucher I think it may be suitable to sub to a women's magazine. I'm a bit late to sub them autumn stories, however, so I may have to wait until summer next year before I sub it.

Autumn (winter?) nights seem to be working for me at the moment. It's so cold and dark outside that it makes sense to stay indoors where it's warm and cosy and put my writing hat on.

It feels good to be writing so regularly. I've written over 15,000 words (including the 18 CiN flashes and 3 additional stories) this month which is unheard of for me!

Sunday, 26 November 2006

Eurofiction Task A4 - done!

I finally wrote my A4 entry for Eurofiction. I was going to leave it until Monday but then realised I'm up off to London on Monday night for a facial (a much appreciated birthday gift from a friend who knows I've never had a facial. It's of the 'anti-stress' variety. I've got no idea what that involves but it sounds good to me) so decided to get it done today instead. I struggled, at first, to get any words down on the page but as I continued writing it started to get easier and easier until the story wrote itself.

Being the supersticious kind of person I am I've noticed that the last two times I've tried to predict my Eurofiction marks on this blog I've ended up with '3's each time. This time I'm saying nothing (and hoping that biting my tongue and crossing my fingers will work some magic on my score). I'll report back when I know.

Oh - and thank you to lovely Sonny from writersdock who left me a comment (my first comment - that's TWO people I know of who are reading this blog) to congratulate me on my Helen Mullin win. If the story hadn't been awarded second place in writersdock I wouldn't have had the confidence to sub it elsewhere. Go and visit www.writersdock.co.uk now people. It's free, it's a vibrant community of writers and if they're running a comp any time soon - give it a go!

Anyone else reading this please feel free to comment and say hello. You don't even have to use your real name!

Friday, 24 November 2006

Helen Mullin 1st Prize

Earlier this evening I went to the Post Office to pick up some post. One of the packages contained an anthology of stories from the Helen Mullin awards, an envelope containing a cheque for £100 and a certificate saying I'd been awarded 1st place!

Am very chuffed. The same story "Burnt-Ochre Heart" came second in a Writersdock competition earlier this year but wasn't published and didn't win any money so I thought I'd try it somewhere else. So glad I did!

The money will come in very useful with Christmas round the corner and the certificate will...eventually... be framed (I have plans to frame all my certificate and put them on the wall next to my desk - as an attempt to convince me, during periods of self doubt, that I CAN write!)

Fantastic news.

In other news I also found out today that "Six Uses for a Hedgehog" and "Words in a Black Bin" have both been published in the Children in Need Writeathon 2006 anthology (titled "Brain Dead" which just about sums up how I felt at the end of the 27 hours). I've ordered 10 copies so if anyone wants a copy send me an email or leave a comment here. They'll be about £3-£3.50 each.

Oh - and the Skrev Press anthology also arrived this morning. It's called "Pastoral Pastimes" and is a really lovely little book. Available on Amazon.co.uk soon!

Wednesday, 22 November 2006

Children in Need critting DONE!

Yes! 5 out of 18 of my stories/poems have got into the 100+ score folder (2 by the skin of their teeth). This means nothing to anyone reading this but everything to me (it means they were deemed 'quite good'). The rest have ended up in the 90+ folder and a few are languishing in the 'splits' folder (which means some people think they are good, others think they're less impressive).

With about 40 stories in the 100+ folder I'm by no means assured a place in the final anthology but I'm crossing my RSI'd fingers.

Also good news is that some of the flashes can be re-written into longer stories. I did that last year with 'Under the Waves' and 'Producing Piglets' which got me, respectively, a first place and a highly commended prize in two different comps.

Current mood: hopeful

Tuesday, 21 November 2006

Eurofiction A3 Result

I am depressed to admit that my Eurofiction story only scored me another 3-pointer and I have slipped down the rankings from 3rd after task 1, to 12th after task 2 to 17th now. Scoring so well after the first task had me buzzing but two crappy scores one after another have left me a bit low. That said *rallies self* there are still SEVEN more stories to write so I may yet make up for lost ground. No hope in hell of winning this thing (the leader is on 80-something and I'm on a measley 33), but I'd like to write some more stories that are actually marketable (I entered the first one into a comp. If it doesn't place I'll sub it elsewhere).

To lighten the mood a little...

My Children in Need stories are doing quite well. Most of them are scoring in the mid to late 90s (none in the 80s thank god) and a few are averaging over 100 which is nice (one is even over 105 which puts me in with a chance *holds breath* of making the anthology). That said nothing is definite. I'll just have to cross my fingers and wait and see.

More good news...

Skrev-Press got in touch yesterday to ask for my address so they could send me something. "The A-Z of Clouds" is to be published their 'Pastoral' anthology. Yeah! When I checked their website I saw that the previous anthology has an ISBN number. That means it may be a proper, proper book. Woo! Will now be stalking the postman and running downstairs everytime the front door rings (although twice recently I've done that to find no-one there. When I return to my flat I find next door's cat sitting guiltily at the top of the stairs. I'm no DIY expert and there are two bare wires from the doorbell sticking out the bottom of my door. Me thinks the cat is playing knock down ginger and pressing the wires together!)

Saturday, 18 November 2006

Children in Need - Done!!

We've finished! And I'm pooped! Great feeling of elation though. It was a real slog at times and a real buzz the rest of the time. I've written a lot of crap but some of the stories really sucked me in and I had to hurry to get them finished before the hour was up.

It looks like, as a group of about 20, we've written 330 stories and poems in just 30 hours.

I wrote 18 of them - beating last year's 15! In total I wrote 10,629 words. More than double what I normally write in a month!

Tomorrow the crits start. That'll be a tiring job in itself.

I can't publish my story titles at the moment as critting is done anonymously but this is how my last 30 hours worked out:

Thursday
6pm - 7pm: Story written - 724 words
7pm - 8pm: Story written - 445 words
8pm - 9pm: ***** 1 hour break *****
9pm - 10pm: Story written - 498 words
10pm - 11pm: Story written - 315 words
11pm - 12am: Story written - 703 words

Friday
12am - 1am: Story written - 594 words
1am - 2am: Poem written - 169 words
2am - 3am: ***** blocked, wrote nothing *****
3am - 11am: ***** BED! *****
11am - 12pm: Story written - 615 words
12pm - 1pm: Story written - 768 words
1pm - 2pm: Story written - 554 words
2pm - 3pm: Story written - 561 words
3pm - 4pm: Story written - 862 words
4pm - 5pm: ***** 1 hour break ****
5pm - 6pm: Story written - 960 words
6pm - 7pm: Poem written - 202 words
7pm - 8pm: Story written - 424 words
8pm - 9pm: Story written - 619 words
9pm - 10pm: ***** 1 hour break ****
10pm - 11pm: Story written - 968 words
11pm - 12am: Story written - 678 words

Midnight - The end!

Friday, 17 November 2006

Children in Need - in progress

Well, it's 2:53am on Friday morning and I've been writing for Children in Need since 6pm on Thursday. Okay - that's not strictly true but it is 80% true!

Since 6pm Thursday I've written to seven hourly prompts - writing six flashes and a poem. I took an hour off at 8pm to watch I'm a Celebrity (sssh!) and for the last hour 2am-3am I haven't been able to make a story stick. I started 3 different flashes but didn't get anywhere with any of them.

VERY tired now. Am going to wait for the 3am prompts to see if any of them appeal. If they do I'll write - if they don't I'll sleep. How people who are writing for 30 hours are managing I have no idea!

Last year I wrote 15 flashes. This year I'm trying to write even more. If I can squeeze out one more flash or poem before I go to bed I'll hit the half-way mark for 16 flashes. My personal aim is to try and write 18...but we'll see.

Time to log off blogger and check the 3am prompts!

Monday, 13 November 2006

Eurofiction Task 3 - Done!

Hooray - 3 stories down, 7 to go.

When I first started this competition/challenge I thought "One story every two weeks - no problem." In actual fact it's been a lot harder than I thought to write a story that often (and to a set of prompts). So far I've used the first week to think and mull over a few ideas and the second to get writing. I started this 3rd story on Friday before I went away for the weekend and finished it tonight. I'm quite pleased with it. It's in the second person, something I haven't done before. I don't think it's up there with the first story I wrote, but it's - I think - better than the second one.

This Thursday and Friday is the Children in Need writeathon. Last year I raised £200 and wrote 15 stories over 27 hours. This year I'm aiming to raise and write more. I've raised £266 so far so it's looking good - now I just have to write the stories. I'm a bit nervous because I know how tiring it is and there's that ever present fear of getting blocked. Still - I'm excited too - there's a great feeling of comraderie on the night and the buzz you get when you send in story after story is amazing.

Sunday, 5 November 2006

Eurofiction Task 2 - Result

Well it seems I was spot on with thinking there was something not right with my second story for Eurofiction - it only scored 3 points! That makes me 12th out of 48 on the leaderboard right now.

I'm a bit disappointed but it just goes to show that my intuition about my stories is often right. I get a feeling when it's good and a...feeling...when it's bad. The prompts for Task 3 are out now and I'm floundering around a bit, looking for a good story idea. I've still got over a week to come up with one so I'm not getting despondent yet. I was bound to get a couple of disappointing scores during Eurofiction so better I get one sooner rather than later (I can only get better for Task 3...tho' actually I could do worse. There's the scary prospect of a null points of course!).

Anyway, onwards...