When it’s better not to be shortlisted

Recently, I failed to make the short list in a competition* I had entered. It’s not the first time by a long chalk, nor is rejection by publishers or requests for revisions to something I thought was fine in its first iteration (often it turned out better in the end which reflects well on the editorial critique), so when I say I’m actually quite relieved, it isn’t a defensive swipe at the ones that made it. Maybe you’ve found yourself in this position too: you enter in good faith, you’re shortlisted, you cheer. Then you read the stories you’re shortlisted … Continue reading When it’s better not to be shortlisted

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Student Publishers: what are their responsibilities to authors?

  Anyone who writes short stories, flash, or essays knows about the hunt for a market and the cycle of amendment and revision that goes on each time a piece comes back. Then eventually, (when the moon is blue, all the planets are aligned, and you remembered to bury a raw steak at the end of the garden), that wonderful, beautiful acceptance from the most discerning of editors (obviously) pops into the inbox. You landed one!   Selection of a market, in my experience, goes from aspirational to ‘that’ll do’, with ‘that’ll do’ becoming increasingly aspirational as the rejections mount up. Sooner or later, anything with a permalink … Continue reading Student Publishers: what are their responsibilities to authors?

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The #Scrapslush campaign

I already knew this, I can’t say I didn’t, so why then do I feel  disquiet at the notion of the ‘slush pile’? It’s not the fact of being in a queue or of waiting for an evaluation of suitability, those are regular experiences in my world. It isn’t even the element of subjectivity, the lack of control, or the length of time invested in the wait because these too are familiar in matters such as applications for research funding. In both circumstances, there are rules to be followed; this many words or characters, this kind of remit, and that … Continue reading The #Scrapslush campaign

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Shameless self “Promotion”

Two really exciting things just happened and, right now, I really don’t know which has got me gibbering most. One is an extraordinary convergence in the technologies that will underpin our next research bid (and look out world, if we’re successful, because this will change the way we get information from hospitals and doctors for ever). The other is my first fiction publication outside of the recent NOT competition and it feels like my kid came home from their first day at school with an A* in higher maths! So which to choose? Well, in fairness, there’s no showing off … Continue reading Shameless self “Promotion”

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If not the blog then, where?

I’ve seen this debate elsewhere, publish on your blog so you have a ‘presence’ or keep your work to yourself so that it remains saleable. So far, I’ve just put up early pieces; exercises, bits and bobs that might entertain but that wouldn’t make it into a slush pile, never mind a magazine. Last week though, on leave and with only myself to entertain, I wrote what I think is one of my best short stories EVER (nah – doesn’t take much!) and, it being under 500 words, I was about to sling it up here for my many thousands … Continue reading If not the blog then, where?

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Hugo Nominee – are we suckered by techno-twaddle?

I like my sci-fi, really I do, and having been inducted at the age of eight into this genre, I am more than familiar with the essentials of pseudo-scientific terminology. Heck, I write it myself and I appreciate both the value and the pitfalls of inventing tech-speak to describe something that isn’t yet in existence. For me, the best tech-speak conveys a sense of familiarity so that, on reading it, I have a feeling I know what this is even though that has to be impossible. The worst offers a stream of multi-hyphenated guff and tells me this is ‘normal’, … Continue reading Hugo Nominee – are we suckered by techno-twaddle?

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Double or dilute?

Chances, that is. Last week, after mercilessly punching out redundancy and pruning my tiny story down to the even tinier requisite of 500 words, I submitted the final product to an online competition. My first. Virgin territory. Exhausted, I crawled away to bandage psychic wounds (all those abandoned and unwanted words, left unloved by the literary roadside) and to sleep off the emotional ravages of exposing my soul to public judging. Well ok, bit of dramatic licence there but you know where I’m coming from, right? Anyway, two days later and an acknowledgment appears. Yes, they received it, yes, the … Continue reading Double or dilute?

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Authors and writers in Second Life

Just a little while ago, we were talking about the kinds of support we get from other writers and how we value the small communities that build up around blogs and tweets. Some of us are beginners with little to offer except awe for those who are into their third novel. Published or not, that’s tenacity, and if so far they haven’t hooked a publisher, this may say more about the vastness of the market than the quality of their work. If you can’t find ’em, you can’t impress ’em, and as the same principle applies in reverse, getting an … Continue reading Authors and writers in Second Life

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Wanted: Brit-lit lady sci-fi short story publisher

Any takers out there for a nice bit of SF drama hot off the presses? Oh well, it was worth a try. I’ll get out my hair shirt, stick pebbles in my shoes, invest in a self-mortification programme (I expect there’s an iPhone app for that), and join the supplicants’ queue like everyone else. How on earth do you writers of novels cope? A couple of thousand words and I’m wrapped up and ready to move on! Attention span of a gnat and no stamina, clearly. Continue reading Wanted: Brit-lit lady sci-fi short story publisher

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