Saturday, 24 June 2017

A Tortuous Route to Publication

Anyone who uses Facebook will be familiar with its random ‘memories’ – posts from years ago that pop up at the press of the login button. I’ve seen many a tight-lipped rant from someone who has been inappropriately shown a memento of a long-gone relationship or something else that didn’t warrant an unexpected reminder. The ‘memories’ it presents to me tend to be strangely random. Maybe random is how I am on Facebook. But this morning for once I was shown something substantive. A link to a guest blog on the Writers’ Workshop from five years ago, detailing my tortuous route to publication – many lessons learnt along the way and a story of which I’m always happy to be reminded.

Friday, 16 June 2017

Beverley Folk Festival

It’s the Beverley Folk Festival this weekend. Saturday and Sunday. Beverley racecourse. A veritable cornucopia of delights in the creative arts, and I’m including food in the creative arts on this occasion because the food is exquisite.

As well as the concerts and big name bands, they have a children’s marquee, an arts and crafts centre and on Sunday a literature strand: Words on the Westwood where you will find at least one Hornsea Writer and many more local authors and publishers talking about their work.

This year, the organisers have created a Festival taster ticket for just £3 which allows entry to everything except the headline concerts. If you’re in the area, it’s well worth a visit.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

So many little time!

I began 2017 with the determination to publish four books by Christmas, plus a seasonal short for my soprano detective, Georgia Pattison. To make life more difficult, I also decided I wanted to take the summer months off. In order to do this, I knew I had to get three of them out before the much anticipated holiday in Rhodes. And I did. Just.

If I say it has been an experience I do not want to repeat, that may be too dogmatic. Perhaps that should be amended to I need to plan more effectively if I do this again. Why did I think it wouldn't be such a horror? Because I knew the second full-length Georgia Laid In Earth was already written and just (just!!) needed editing, ditto the revamped Sherlock Holmes & The Oakwood Grange Affair. 

I also had 55,000 words of a standalone crime thriller already in the bag - raw, yes, but there. The objective looked achievable. Until I came to actually work on The Angel Killer. And that is where the trouble really began.
To read more go to:

During the process of turning The Angel Killer into something that could be published, I seriously thought about having a cardboard cutout of me put in the sitting room downstairs so that my husband would remember what I looked like. It didn't matter what the weather was, I was in the office gazing at the screen, concentrating to an insane degree and exercising my fingers on the keyboard.

So now I am enjoying my summer break. I intend to begin work again in September and between then and Christmas write the Georgia short The Bleak Midwinter and the first of the Gethin Wilde Chronicles, working title Caught Between Loyalties. I shall spend the next couple of months enjoying the house and garden, playing with the dog, going out for days and generally doing what normal people do!!

You can read more about April Taylor here:

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Why Not Have A Go At Writing Competitions?

Do you enter writing contests? No? Why is that? Not confident enough? Think there are too many scams? Not worth the effort?
Or, perhaps you like to enter but find it hard work discovering the details of competitions.
One of the Hornsea Writers gang can save you a lot of time and effort in that search. Stuart Aken keeps a running table of links to sites that offer prizes for your creative writing efforts. Some are free to enter and offer large cash prizes. But, apart from the money, there’s a great deal of kudos to be gained within the writing community, and amongst readers, by being a competition winner. So, perhaps you should try it.
Hornsea Writers members have won a number of prizes over the years and continue to do so.
There’s always an element of luck involved, of course. But, rather like the lottery, you have to be in it to win it.
And, for the doubters and sceptics, there are actually only a few scams around and Stuart does his best to avoid those in his table. He also includes only those that provide a top prize worth at least 20 times the entry fee, unless, of course, they’re free to enter.
No confidence in your writing? Well, the best way to tackle a lack of confidence is to go for it. And, especially if you enter the smaller prize competitions first, you might be surprised by your chances of success. So, why not give it a try?
But, please, always read and abide by the rules. Contest organisers are generally busy people working voluntarily. They don’t look kindly on the novel entered in a poetry contest, the limerick trying to slide into the haiku competition, or the 6,000 word short story entered in a contest with a limit of 2,500.
You’ll find Stuart’s table here. He updates it frequently and gives reminders on his website each month, here. If you follow the instructions in his post, you can even receive an email of that regular reminder.

So, all the work of searching is done for you. No excuses. Go on, have a go! And good luck!

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Honourable Mention in Roswell Science Fiction Award

This year, the Roswell Award for short science fiction stories formed part of the Pasadena Lit-Fest, which celebrates books and authors. In previous years the award was part of a longer festival dedicated to science fiction writing, which presented one-act plays by new authors as well as adaptations of the work of established authors like Neil Gaiman and Ray Bradbury. As a result of a dispute with the actors' union Equity, the plays are missing in 2017, although the organisers hope to reinstate them in 2018.

The five finalists heard their work read to a live audience before the winner of the Roswell Award was announced. Richard Larson was presented with a cheque for $500 for his story Fifteen Minutes Hate.

The contest attracted entries from all over the world. Standing out from hundreds of other entries, Hornsea Writers member Madeleine McDonald was proud to receive an honourable mention for her short story, Not My Children, inspired by overpopulation. 

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Hold the date for a Fantastic September weekend

Hold the date, 2nd and 3rd September 2017, for an amazing weekend in the UK’s City of Culture. FantastiCon 2017, the annual Sci Fi and Fantasy convention takes place at the Guildhall in Hull. Tickets are now on sale through Kickstarter. Follow this link and hit the Pledge button

Hornsea Writers will once again be well represented. Last year our own Stuart Aken launched the first of his Generation Mars trilogy, and the Fantastic Bookstore featured his earlier work as well as that of Penny Grubb and Linda Acaster who were only two of many local authors represented in amongst the Star Wars characters, the many full sized Daleks, the live music shows and the mind-blowing virtual reality demos.

FantastiCon is a ‘doing’ convention. All the activities are rolled into the very modest ticket price. You can even get kitted out with goggles and protective clothing and join the Nerf wars. Sign up now and come and say hello. You’ll find at least one Hornsea Writer at the bookstore at all times.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Nostalgia for steam: may it live forever.

I was quite young when most of the rail network disappeared, courtesy of Dr Beeching, may God rot his knickers! The railway ran along the bottom of our garden and I used to go outside specially to watch the 19.03 (yes, I am that pedantic) chug past. Then diesels came in and the magic died a little. Then they took up the railway and the trains were no more.

However, that childhood experience left me with a lifelong love of trains. I won’t be the only person to know the more famous name of the Gresley Pacific 4472 - The Flying Scotsman - for the uninitiated. Nor the only person who strokes the gleaming blue sides of the mighty Mallard. I visit the National Rail Museum in York regularly to get my train fix.

So, when I saw the competition for the Yorkshire Wolds Railway, it was irresistible. I was lucky enough to be long-listed and for my story, Smokescreen to make it into the resulting anthology.

You can read more about my love of steam here:

You can read more about April Taylor here:

Dreaming of Steam: 23 tales of Wolds and rails, published by Fantastic Books Publishing.

Just out by April Taylor:

A standalone crime story

A Georgia Pattison Mystery

Saturday, 6 May 2017

'Dreaming of Steam' Celebrations!

As well as pursuing individual longer works, members exchange information on short story competitions. When the heritage line Yorkshire Wolds Railway announced a publicity and fund-raising fiction event, members rose to the challenge. Their enthusiasm paid dividends. Submissions from three members were placed, and one member was invited to submit to the anthology as a professional.

Elaine Hemingway’s The Diary of Daniel Duck – Runner-Up
Madeleine McDonald’s A Solicitous Wife – Highly Commended
April Taylor’s Smokescreen – Long-Listed

All stories appear in the anthology, along with Penny Grubb’s Sir Tatton Sykes Cooperates, submitted as one of four non-participating professionals. 

Elaine Hemingway & Madeleine McDonald with driver Graham

The prize-giving turned out to be quite an event. Lord Faulkner of Worcester, President of the Heritage Railway Association and a published writer himself, travelled up - by train of course - to present the prizes, and a heritage East Riding Motor Services double-decker bus arrived carrying no less than five Lord Mayors from the region, plus friends and official photographers, to lend support to a worthy charity project.

Much chat was exchanged, much tea consumed, but best of all were the rides in the cab of the 'Sir Tatton Sykes' diesel shunter along the short stretch of currently usable line. As everyone agreed, riding the cab of any locomotive stirs the blood and fires the imagination.

Congratulations to all our finalists.

  Dreaming of Steam – 23 tales of Wolds and Rails is available as a paperback and ebook from Fantastic Books Publishing or Amazon
 The Yorkshire Wolds Railway, Fimber Halt, near Wetwang, is open every Sunday & Bank Holiday Monday until the end of October.

Saturday, 29 April 2017



I trawl writing newsletters for competitions. I have even won a couple of prizes, ranging from a box of felt-tip pens to a more welcome £50 cheque. For one thing, respecting a 500-word, or even a 50-word, deadline in flash fiction competitions is excellent discipline in making every word count.

   Another reason is that tackling an unfamiliar theme, or venturing into an unknown setting, can unlock reservoirs of creativity. Once you start looking, there is no shortage of unusual subjects to tackle. Every year, the Bulwer Lytton prize offers the opportunity to commit every crime in an author's arsenal by penning the most ludicrous opening sentence to a novel, and I compose my entry with glee. I was once published inside a Christmas cracker, one of a special set of 12.  For various competitions, I attempted to see the world from the viewpoint of a ghost, a witch, a tree and a cactus. Alas, none of my supernatural creations dripped gore, making them unsuitable for most of the horror competitions advertised, but in a sideways fashion they have influenced the way I write about real life.

   My latest effort has been a fun competition run by Wine Tourism Spain, which requested entries on the unlikely pairing of aliens and wine. A mish-mash of sci-fi and travel writing, within a limited word count? The source of inspiration in real life had to be a glass or two of chilled Rueda Verdejo. To see what I wrote, visit my blog.  

Madeleine McDonald

Saturday, 22 April 2017

The Size of the Cast

In her hidden-gems-or-crazy-counsel blog series, Hornsea Writer Penny Grubb looks at the idea of a writer’s ‘repertory company’, the cast they use in their work.

Gore Vidal cites Shakespeare as someone with a large repertory company of twenty or so, claiming that most writers use far fewer characters. Can that be right? Shakespeare – only twenty?

As Penny says, ‘One thing that distinguishes an experienced writer from a novice is the size of the cast. A whole host of named characters piling on stage on page one; named extras, whose only role is to bulk out a crowd, are signs that the writer is new to this stuff.’ 

See the discussion on Penny's blog.