Competitions and Call for Submissions Deadlines: 31 January 2017

These are the projects I am working on, which need to be completed by the end of the month, if I’m to submit them:

Harlequin Love Inspired #AmishBlitz — Coming Home with a Secret

Fiction Desk Ghost Story Competition — Pádraig and the Bean sidhe

Scottish Book Trust 50-word Fiction Competition — Untitled

Paisley Poems Call for Submissions — Pretty Paisley Print

Eeek.  Setting myself a lot of work here, but it’s more of a wish list than a target.  My priority is to finish the Harlequin competition.  I’ve had a go at the ghost story, but it’s a very rough draft, and whether I go back to it will depend on how much time I have left towards the end of the month.

I’m not entering these competitions convinced I’ll win (although I wouldn’t refuse a prize if offered!).  I like the fact that the competitions have given me a prompt, a jumping off point.  I see them as a source of inspiration.  And the amazing thing about the #AmishBlitz is that as long as what I submit is appropriate for the series, I’ll get editorial feedback.  I see it as an opportunity to find out whether my style of writing suits romantic fiction, and hopefully to improve.  I learnt how useful constructive criticism can be when I took a Creative Writing class.  Whatever happens, I’ll keep writing, because practice makes… well probably not perfect in this case, but hopefully better.

Finding this to be a great resource for competition and calls:

http://scottishbooktrust.com/writing/opportunities-for-writers

Wish me luck!

Update, 27 January 2017:  Well, I have a first chapter now for the #AmishBlitz but I’d like to add more content.  Synopsis has sort of come together.  Cover letter was tough!  I think I’m going to hold the ghost story over to a different competition, so I have time to properly work on it. I have a poem ready, not sure of its quality though!  I’ll definitely be entering the 50-word Fiction competition.  Getting there…

Update, 1 February 2017:  Slept really late today.  Yesterday I managed to submit three out of the four competitions I picked out for myself over the Christmas break.  I didn’t have time to get the ghost story into shape so I’ve decided to work on it more and submit it to The Scottish Arts Club Short Story Awards.  The final judge for that is Alexander McCall-Smith, who has actually judged my work before.  I came runner up in a twitterature competition.  A 1,500 word short story is a bit different though…

I made a decision to start over with my #AmishBlitz story.  My first idea seemed to translate onto the page as a young adult novel, which was not what I wanted.  Also, a large part of it was set in the ‘English’ world and it just didn’t feel right for the competition guidelines.  I read and read Love Inspired Amish stories and was able to get a feeling for what might be suitable to sit on the shelf beside these.  I changed my title from Coming Home with a Secret to Returning with a Secret. I’m still not sure which sounds best, but in the end, the fact that initially the location of the story doesn’t feel like home to the heroine informed my choice.

Going back to the drawing board felt like quite a big step, but when the contestants on Bake Off or The Great British Painting Challenge do it, it always seems to work out for the best!  I think with writing, with pretty much everything in fact, you should trust your gut.

In practical terms, I think what I learnt this month was that it’s important not too spread yourself too thin.  I’m glad I identified my priority at the start, and it helped that two of the pieces needed to be concise.  I’ve not done much writing yet, but I feel that goals are important.  I generally don’t care for business speak, but I do find the SMART acronym to be useful.  Goals should be: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time bound.  There are slight variations on the word assigned to each letter, but the gist is the same.  ‘Going forward’ I plan to avoid over-stretching myself and identify my main goal or goals early.  Time to get the diary out!

Harlequin Love Inspired #AmishBlitz

I have just started writing a contemporary Christian Romance featuring an Amish heroine.  An Amish story is probably not a direction I would’ve gone in without a prompt but I’ve had a little inspiration…

Harlequin are running one of their ‘Blitzes’.  This time it’s an #AmishBlitz.  A Blitz is a time-limited call for submissions to a particular series.  The series is Harlequin Love Inspired.  The Love Inspired  series features stories which, “show that faith, forgiveness and hope have the power to lift spirits and change lives—always.”  They are clean, which is a very good thing as far as I’m concerned.  I squirm reading steamy love scenes.  I dread to think what trying to write them would be like.

My heroine and hero have introduced themselves to me, and I’m rooting for them.  I will have to do some research though. I’ve not even seen Witness!  Louisa, my American heroine is Amish, but not yet baptised and my Scottish hero, Andrew, was brought up in the strict Free Church of Scotland.  Louisa is in her rumspringa (‘running around’) period.  They meet at a ski resort in Colorado.  Because I can do that.

A Christian romance in the snow seems like a very suitable  thing to be writing at Christmas time!

Update, 1 February 2017.  I really enjoyed working in this project but it soon started to feel like a young adult novel.  Also, Louisa’s return to her settlement happened too far in.  I decided to set it aside for now, and start over for the# AmishBlitz.

Getting started: So I think I can write?

I want to write a romance novel, and I want to write it well.  Fortunately, there is a lot of help out there.

My primary source of guidance so far has been Harlequin’s So You Think You Can Write (‘SYTYCW’) blog.  My first novel, I have decided, will be in the manner of a Mills & Boon, which publisher is now part of the Harlequin group.

Harlequin accept unagented submissions and genuinely want to ‘find new voices in romantic fiction.  There is s wealth of advice and tips in the blog, including the brilliant Romance Writing 101 by Grace, a new Mills & Boon editorial assistant.

Not long after finishing a Creative Writing course, I entered a SYTYCW Writing Challenge, got great constructive criticism from a Harlequin edition and felt lucky to be afforded this contact.  Previously, I felt that there were not enough writing exercises during my course, and I didn’t feel inspire to write much, which meant I missed valuable feedback from my classmates as well as the tutor.  A section of the SCTYCW is specifically given over to the theme of ‘Inspiration’.

I’m feeling inspired…