Markets For Writers

The Exeter Novel Prize is today’s Markets for Writers feature from Esther Newton’s blog.
Thank you for sharing this information, Esther! Have a great week!


This week’s market is for the novelists. The Exeter Novel Prize is open until 1st January. They’re looking for the first 10,000 words of an uncontracted novel, together with its synopsis. All genres are accepted bar children’s.


1st: £500 + a trophy

Runners-up: £75 + a trophy

Entry fee: £18

To find out more, visit the competition page



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Monday Motivations

Today’ Monday Motivations from Esther Newton is here. Read on.
Thank you, Esther!


Happy Monday! Here’s a little challenge for you:

Write a story or poem on the theme of darkness. How you interpret the theme is up to you.

Last week, your challenge was to write about the cold. Here are your interesting and entertaining pieces:

Jason Moody‘s story is superb:

Jessica woke with a start and snorted, as the bus pulled away from the lights. An old man sat next to her tutted loudly for no reason at all, but his moment of grumpiness would not infect her mood today.

She hurriedly wiped the window to her right with her coat sleeve. The amount of bodies on the bus that morning would have made health and safety blush. It felt less like a bus, and more like a sauna with all the bodies wrapped in their winter clothes and pressed in like sardines.

With the condensation cleared, she now…

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Markets For Writers

This week’s Markets for Writers post from Esther Newton is here.
Thanks, Esther!


My market this week is for the sci-fi and fantasy writers. Writing Magazine is holding an Other Worlds Short Story Competition. The closing date is 14th December 2016 so you still have time to get your entry in. Here are a few more details:


1st:                     £200 plus publication in Writing Magazine

Runner-up:    £50 plus publication on the website

Entry Fees:     £3 for subscribers, £5 for non-subscribers

Word length: Between 1500 – 1700

For details of how you can enter and to read the rules, go to the competition page



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Monday Motivations

I’m a bit late in reposting Esther Newton’s Monday Motivations, but here it is. Enjoy!
Esther, thank you for another great challenge!


I hope the start of a new week is going well for you. Here’s a little challenge for you:

Write a story or poem on the theme of thecold. It doesn’t have to be about the weather; you can interpret the theme any way you like.

Last week’s challenge was for you to write a poem or story on the theme of autumn with the following words somewhere in your piece:

  • Red
  • Goldfish
  • Mustard

Here are your entertaining pieces:

Richard Mantell sent in a poignant story:

Autumn Sighs

The words of the song ran around in his head.  It had been released so many years ago and yet even now it buried itself deep into the very marrow of his soul.  Now here, walking amongst the falling leaves and crying trees, it seemed even more cutting.  Forever Autumn by Justin Hayward.  Released on Jeff Wayne’s War of The…

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The Break of Dawn and Descriptive Dissonance

In a book I’m reading–Wicked Appetite, by  Janet Evanovich– I came across the following passage. 

The sky was growing brighter by the minute with the promise of sunrise…

It made me think about sunrise here on our tiny island of St. Martin, on the outskirts of the Caribbean Sea. It’s not so much that the passage has anything to do with dawn breaking on the island–it doesn’t–but it made me think about how sunrises differ depending on where in the world one is, and how important it is for writers to make the descriptions match a story’s locale.

The passage above describes dawn on the East Coast, specifically New England. It could even describe a sunrise in Los Angeles, on the West Coast. But it doesn’t agree with the way the sun comes up on St. Martin or, for example, in West Texas. Here and in the flat geography of the Texas Panhandle, there is no gradual lightening of the sky. Almost as soon as there is a glimmer of light hailing daylight the day is in full bloom–inky darkness of night to enough daylight to read by in less than ten seconds. It’s that fast.

West Texas and St. Martin have very different geographical topology. West Texas is flat as a table top, while St. Martin has rolling hills and lots of sandy beaches. While the island is mere inches above sea level, the Staked Plains of Texas are more than half a mile above it. West Texas is a day’s drive from the Gulf of Mexico (the nearest large body of water) while the waters of the Caribbean can be reached in less than a fifteen minute drive from anywhere on the island. 

Granted, the quality of emerging daylight differs between these two geographical entities, but the way daylight just happens seems about the same–probably because there is so little to get in the way of the sun’s rays in both places. Sunlight doesn’t need to negotiate mountains, forests, or other obstructions. It merely flows directly from the blazing ball as soon as the sun’s first emminations rise above the horizon. Black of night to light of day in an instant. Like a lightbulb going on in a pitch-dark room.

When I lived on the East Coast–even when I lived in Los Angeles–day emerged gradually. I don’t remember how long it took, but at least fifteen minutes elapsed between total darkness and gloomless day. There was a warning that day was about to start, as daylight walked night to the front door. Quite a difference from the explosion of light here on St. Martin.

It is important for writers to know how the day begins in the locale of their stories, particularly for a scene taking place at dawn. Often, I come across descriptive passages in books and stories that don’t quite jive with an area familiar to me. For example, earlier this year I read a book by one of my favorite authors in which he described driving between points on this island. The descriptions may have added drama to the passages, but they were so inaccurate as to make me wonder if the author had actually taken notes on the major metropolises on the island and the terrain surrounding each one. It was very disconcerting and disorienting to read these descriptive passages; in my mind, I had trouble resolving the dissonance between the text and what I know of the island from driving it regularly. I get the same type of near vertigo when a writer messes up geography or environmental “pictures” related to New Jersey or New York City–or even Los Angeles. But on this tiny island that would fit neatly, and with room to spare, within the bounds of Los Angeles County, inaccurate descriptions can disrupt a reader familiar with the area. And if one visited a location and tried to follow the writer’s trek, the tourist would get lost or disoriented.

Descriptions of things as seemingly universal as a sunrise can also disorient a reader. I suspect that the author was writing from memory, not notes; that he probably used a map that was too general or not drawn to scale (like a car rental map); or that he was getting islands mixed up. From my  slight experience with surrounding islands, I know that each one is unique but that there are great similarities among architectural structures and the layouts of towns. It is easy to mis-remember which feature belongs on which island, as there is almost a deja vu between any two islands. They were, in fact, basically colonized by the same cultures within very short time intervals (historically speaking). Thus the similarities which may be difficult to place accurately, even with photographs. 

The point is that dissonance between what a reader knows and what a writer writes can stop the reader in his or her tracks–especially someone like me, who expects a favorite writer to be as accurate as humanly possible.  Doubt is cast upon the believeability of the story, all because of a little descriptive dissonance. 


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Monday Motivations

Here is the newest Monday Motivations from Esther Newton. Enjoy!
Thank you, Esther, for both the new Motivation and sharing others’ submissions!


Happy Monday to you all! I hope you had a good weekend. The thing that struck me when I went out over the weekend, was the glorious colours of the leaves – the rusts, mustards, golds, reds etc. So my new challenge is for you to write a poem or story on the theme of autumn. Yes, I know I’ve recently set this challenge, but this time you also need to add in the following words somewhere in your piece:

  • Red
  • Goldfish
  • Mustard

Here are the results of last week’s challenge. You were required to write a poem/story about a character called Bob.

Simon Farnell wrote a brilliant Halloween story, with a few extra prompts from his children. Do visit his site to read it:

After some special requests, Neel Anil Panicker has followed up last week’s beautifully written story:

And here’s the wonderfulRajiv Chopra with…

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EDITING 101: 11 – Using a Thesaurus…

Searching for the right word? Don’t simply choose a synonym from a thesaurus in your writing and expect it will convey your meaning. Each word has an often subtle difference in definition and usage that can change the meaning of your passage. In this re-blog of Chris the Story Reading Ape’s latest post, the effect on your meaning is explained clearly.
Thanks for sharing this, Chris!

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

Originally posted as the Dun Writin’—Now Whut? series on this blog, EDITING 101 is a weekly refresher series for some of you and brand new for others.

Courtesy of Adirondack Editing

Using a Thesaurus

When you were in grammar school, you were taught the terms antonym and synonym. An antonym is a word that means the opposite of another word: love/hate, hot/cold, spring/fall, light/dark. Synonyms are words meaning the same thing (or nearly the same thing): light/bright, traitor/Benedict Arnold, flat/horizontal, soft/cushiony. A thesaurus is a book which lists synonyms for many words and can come in very handy for a writer. The first one you were exposed to was probably Roget’s Thesaurus. The one I like to use is the Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus. If you don’t want to use a book, there are online thesauri, such as and Microsoft Word has a built-in thesaurus. You can…

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Why I Ditched My Blog Sidebar – Guest Post…

Is your blog mobile-friendly? Does it have a side bar? Read on to see why the one is good for your words and the other may not be.
Thanks, Chris, for sharing these topics!

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

Why I Ditched My Blog Sidebar

I took a two-week break from posting on my own blog a few months ago. In that time, I was refueled with post ideas but I also had the opportunity to read most of yours. In that process, I realized something I hadn’t paid much attention to before. I didn’t pay much attention to it because that’s just how ingrained these things are in our lives today. The Cell Phone. During my observation, I realized that I read most of your blog posts (90%) from my phone. In fact, I observed that the only time I read blog posts from my laptop / desktop, is when I am logged in to draft a post that I can’t draft on my phone.

The number of mobile-only users has recently surpassed the number of desktop-only users. According to an article in Marketing Land, “Mobile now represents 65 percent of digital media time…

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happy happy me

Trophies aside, Libby earned a writing award for a truly touching book titled “My Year with Sammy.” In a “kitchen table chat” way, a story unfolds about living with a child diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorder. You will laugh, cry, experience heartbreak and joy and everything in between as you share the challenges of life with a special needs child.
Congratulations, Libby!

Libby Sommer, Author

two women, one in red, one in blue Me and Gwen Bitti, Committee Member SWW

It was a great honour to be awarded the Society of Women Writer’s Fiction Book Award 2016 for my debut novel, My Year With Sammy (Ginninderra Press) at a ceremony in the historic Dixson Room at the State Library of NSW  Very exciting. Was presented with a beautiful crystal trophy🙂

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A Printing History Timeline Infographic…

Want to keep references in your writing to books and publishing accurate? Check out this infographic.
Chris the Story Reading Ape, thanks for sharing this!

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

Printing History Timeline

From Visually.

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