Although I’ve been busy writing away in a vampire-style, hermit fashion, I have read one book recently that made me chuckle and say ‘this sounds familiar’. Why familiar? Well it’s because this book gives an honest insider’s view of my part-time job, and that book is Shaun Bythell’s ‘Diary Of A Bookseller’.
If you haven’t guessed by now or read my other blogs, I’m currently working part-time in a large second hand bookshop. It’s got two floors and over seventy thousand books, with genres ranging from fiction, sci-fi, classic fiction and children’s to history, science and art. Seventy thousand is a big number, and as John Green mentioned in his vlog on Tuesday, humans tend to be pretty bad when it comes to visualising big numbers. So think of it this way, imagine your average small retail shop and then times it by six or eight, that’s about the size of the bookshop I work in. You may be wondering why I’m trying to get you to visualise the scale here, but scale is important. Shaun Bythell, the author of the ‘Diary Of A Bookseller’, runs The Bookshop in Wigtown in the Dumfries and Galloway region in Scotland, which has one hundred thousand books. read more
“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”
“Read a lot. Read anything you can get your hands on.”
“Read a thousand books and your words will flow like a river.”
If you’ve clicked on the link and read up to this sentence, you are already some of the way there. This point has been driven home by so many writers already, it has become a cliché. To be a good writer, you should read regularly. (Maybe not as much as a thousand, but it’s a goal? At this point, you may either say, “Duh, what’s new?” or “But I can’t concentrate on reading while I’m writing.”. read more
It seems that almost everyday my newsfeeds pops up with some article claiming that an alien artefact or lifeform may have been discovered, even The Guardian posted an article last month with the title ‘Is ‘Oumuamua an alien spacecraft? Initial scans show no signs of technology.’ For those of you who have more important things going on in your lives, Oumuamua has been classified as an unusually shaped asteroid. You’re probably wondering why this interests me and why my blog is about aliens and not my New Year’s resolutions. Well I’m interested for two reasons; one because despite the fact that humans have found no evidence of alien life many people still believe there is alien life out there (myself included), and second, because I’m writing a science-fiction novel with aliens right at this very moment.
The classic argument as to whether or not aliens exist is; well if they did exist then surely we would have found real solid evidence of their existence by now. Seems logical right? read more
Outlet Publishing and their team have kindly asked me to help judge their short story competition, and even though I haven’t written a short story myself, yet, and I’m certainly no expert. I am an avid reader and I have been through the writing and publication process, so I do feel in my humble opinion that I have a basic understanding of what works and what doesn’t.
Over the past two months I have read dozens of entries written by young, hopeful candidates. Some have been very good, others not so, but as the entries have been piling up around me I have noticed similarities and reoccurring patterns. The same mistakes have been cropping up again and again, and there appears to be a preference towards particular genres and themes. The latter is neither strictly bad nor good, but the former is most definitely bad. With this in mind, I am going to share with you some insight into what I feel short story competition judges are looking for, and hopefully help you and your short stories shoot to the top of the winning pile.
Tip Number 1: Read The Rules.
This may seem obvious, but make sure you read the competition’s specifications, rules and guidelines. I don’t know if it was because candidates couldn’t be bothered to read the rules or if they simply misread them, but a couple of the short story submissions I have recently received didn’t sit within the required word count. Judges may be able to forgive a word count that falls 10% above or below the maximum and minimum requirement, but if your story is more than 10% above or below then don’t submit it. Also, some competitions state a specific age range or country of residence, so make sure you read everything carefully before submitting your work.
Tip Number 2: Quality Over Quantity. read more
I’ve scoured Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and the internet for groups, pages, blogs, channels and websites specifically aimed at authors, writers and readers. I’ve picked out a few and listed them below to help you get started, but there are plenty more out there to choose from…
Facebook pages & groups for Authors/Writers
BooksGoSocial Author’s Group
BooksGoSocial Book Review Club
The Writer’s Circle
Writers Write read more