Monday, 23 July 2012

Writers' Challenges and Competitions

Kindle Challenges

Best laid plans of not only mice and men but women and writers are destined to go astray.

Yet more challenges are in the mix this month, the sun is shining at last and my motivation is high. Today's work was planned, outlined and sitting by the computer ready for an early Monday start.

Project One meant following Tiffany Dow's Kindle Challenge. Straightforward and straight talking, Tiffany is an ace motivator and generous with advice and help. Easy to follow outlines and writing a page a day--what could go wrong?

Well Kindle for a start. I have a Kindle for PC application which has annoyed me for various reasons in the past by swallowing all the Kindle books in my computer into its capacious maw. But I have so many books only in this format that it has become vital to my reading.

So when it was antsy last night, l forgave it, switched off and expected all problems resolved after it had had a good night's sleep.

Nope it wasn't playing this morning either. But I was well ahead of the game thanks to my outlining for the day. So quick fix and then back to business.

I wrote my one page for Tiff's Challenge and then back to battle with Kindle. l backed up my Kindle content since many of my books had not come through an Amazon purchase, then went for the step by step drastic uninstal, grappling with hidden files and content files.

When the new app reloaded, horror of horrors, there I was the proud possessor of Aesop's Fables, Treasure Island and Pride and Prejudice. I'm not complaining about that. But l had almost one hundred books on the system.

Not only am l left adding my past library one by one manually, but Amazon has decided l don't have a Kindle app at all. So it won't let me re-download past purchases.

Obviously this is not a problem unique to me but it is particularly annoying to realize how dependent one can unwittingly become on a piece of free software.

I would write a Kindle report on how to revive a sickly Kindle for PC app but it wouldn't be any use if you couldn't read it on your Kindle now, would it?


The deadline for the Writer's Digest Short Story competition (4000 words and with categories in all genres) is now September 14 which gives you time to polish or write from scratch. Prizes are good, starting with a grand prize of $2500 and six Category First Prizes of $500.

It's a $20 entry fee and you can enter online.

If you want longer to write less the 13th annual short short story competition , 1500 words, deadlines on November 15  . It's the same entry fee but with prizes for the first 25 places.

Lastly there is Write It Your Way. Another short short story competition, this is deadlining earlier on August 15 and asks for 1200 words or fewer on the theme of New Beginnings. This one is part of a series of monthly competitions with a $5 entry fee.

The rewards for the winner are free entry into next month's contest, story promoted on the WD website and $25 to spend at the WD shop.

However the reward could also be in self-motivation and having a story or article you can use for promotion elsewhere.

Read and follow the submission guidelines and have fun. Maybe I'll have my Kindle app fixed in time to read the winning stories ,,,


Four hours so far and counting... 

This will be ongoing--loaded 29 books to date and still totally baffled by the files on my back up drive which seem to be replicating themselves as fast as I try to move them...

Any other Kindle problems out there? Anyone joining me on Tiff's Challenge?  Who else likes/hates competitions? I'd love for you to let me know in the comments below.


Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Out and About at the Zoo

Welcome to Jo Linsdell , a very popular visitor here at Slow and Steady Writers earlier in the year when she demystified Twitter and told us about her new guide book Italian for Tourists. As well as being well-known for her writing, Jo is also an expert in promotion and marketing. Today l am delighted to present  the interview she gave to tell us more about her writing life and latest book--a picture book for children entitled Out and About at the Zoo.

Q: What is a typical writing day like for you?

Jo: I don't have a typical day as such. Being a fulltime mum to a 4 year old and a 9 month old means I have to fit in my writing time around them. I grab time when I can and make the most of it when they're napping. I tend to get most of my work done late in the evening after the kids are in bed.

Q: What do you do to help balance your writing life with your family life?

Jo: It's not easy but I try to make time for both everyday. I always have a to-do list written up for each day and make sure it includes both work and family based tasks. A trip to the park with my kids is right up there with writing a new chapter or carrying out marketing tasks.

I think when you love doing something you make the time for it in your life regardless.

Q: You recently released your first children's book Out and About at the Zoo. Tell us a bit about it and what you feel is the most important message you share.

Jo: I'm really excited about this book coming out. Out and About at the Zoo was released on 1st June 2012 and is a children's picture book. It's a fun day out discovering the different animals at the zoo. The rhyming text and colourful pictures make it perfect for younger children.

It also carries an important message as it highlights the joys of spending quality family time together. A day out like this one will remain with both the mother and child for a long time.

Q: How did you come up with the idea for the book?

Jo: I wrote the text after taking my son to the zoo for the first time. It was great to watch him discovering all the animals. Children see everything as magical and interesting. It's amazing watching them discover the world and being able to see it through their eyes.

I decided to make it rhyming text as those are my sons favourite type of books.

Q: You published this book using Create Space. What made you decide on this publishing route?

Jo: Self publishing is my plan A, not a back-up plan B. I like to have full control over every element of the book and call all the shots. In the past I've used (which I am very happy with) but, when I was researching print costs for publishing a full colour children's picture book, Create Space was nearly half the price. I'd been wanting to try them out and so this seemed like the perfect occasion.

So far I'm really pleased with my choice. The print quality is great and Amazon has one of the best customer services I've ever come across.

Q: You're currently doing a 3 month tour to promote the release of the book. Where can people find the tour schedule?

Jo: I have a page dedicated to Out and About at the Zoo on my website that contains all information regarding the book and the tour.

Q: Do you have any other works in progress? Can you share a little about them?

Jo: Yes several. I'm already working on another rhyming children's picture about a young fairy called May that dreams of one day becoming a tooth fairy.
I'm also working on a chick-lit and a non-fiction book about social media.

Q: Where can people follow you on-line?

Jo: I'm a real social media junky and pretty much everywhere. The sites I use most are:

 Wish I'd asked how she manages to fit all that social media networking into her life too...

 Thanks so much for fitting us into the schedule, Jo, and all best wishes for the success of the book. Looks just right for the great-niece.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Monday Competition News

My copy of Writing Magazine arrived this morning and l suddenly realized l have never shared news of the website nor the many competitions open to writers.

This month's competition--and l'm ahead of the game here because it's in the August magazine-- is to write a love story in 1500-1700 words. The story winning first prize stands to win £200, will be published in the magazine and maybe also online at 

Deadline for entries is September 14 so we slow writers have plenty of time to craft and polish.

The competition rules are clear. Entry fees are minimal and the three competitions with closing date mid-month are listed under Open Competitions here. There are opportunities for children's writers and poets are always well catered for  too with articles and competitions.The top menu bar also has a Win Prizes link, worth checking out regularly.

Great prizes too at the Valhalla Press Literary Fiction and Creative Non-Fiction contest. Access the contest from the second item down on the left hand side menu. (My server did not like the direct link.)

If you are looking for contests, grants, writing opportunities be sure to visit C. Hope Clark's marvellous Funds for Writers website and sign up for her  newsletters.

Writing for Children

In a guest post on Wednesday, Jo Linsdell is again visiting Slow and Steady Writers, this time as part of the book tour for her new children's picture book, Out and About at the Zoo.

 I'm very much looking forward to her interview after the visit she made earlier this year promoting Italian for Tourists.

 Out and About at the Zoo has  already collected loads of four and five star reviews on Amazon so many congratulations are in order.

This week l have been looking at Tiffany Dow's reviews of the Geoff Shaw course on Kindling and reconsidering my eBook plans.

Karen Cioffi's How to Write Books for Children appeals to me as a good place to start so l shall be studying that and seeing what ideas it brings to help me write a Kindle eBook.

Book Reviews

The  judges' score sheets for the Global eBook Awards are now lodged with the organisers and results will be announced hopefully by mid-month. l thoroughly enjoyed all the entries for the Suspense and Mystery categories and learned a lot from analysing the work of so many authors new to me.

My Kindle for PC is now also crammed with around sixty books needing reviews so l'll be posting short snippets here on Fridays re any books l have found particularly interesting and helpful...well, that's the plan...

Today's Question

How helpful are Twitter and Facebook when it comes to selling your books? Or do you find you spend too much time promoting books there for a minimal result?