Tag Archives: submitting

First, Find a Hat…

Submitting a novel takes a certain amount of focus and effort. It takes time, and brain-space, and most, if not all, of your guts. It doesn’t, in short, leave you a lot of time to do other things, like enter competitions or submit stories to literary magazines, which is a shame; those things are important.

It’s hard to even write a short story, though, when you feel like this:

The lemon, that is. Not the hand. Image: catalysttrainingsystems.ca

The lemon, that is. Not the hand.
Image: catalysttrainingsystems.ca

Sometimes, however, you’ve just got to tell that Muse who’s boss, and get her to start pulling her weight. If you were to wait until you felt in the fullness of your mental and physical health and/or everything in your life was shiny before you put pen to paper, you’d never write anything.

So, in that undaunted spirit, this week I’m beginning the process of submitting work to magazines and competitions afresh. I’ve just stuck my head above the parapet to check out the landscape, and realised I’ve missed a load of deadlines, which is a shame.

But, as is always the case, where one deadline passes another five sprout up to take its place, so there’s never a need for sorrow.

I have compiled a short list of competitions and/or submission opportunities (not exhaustive, just so you know: other opportunities are available!), mainly to help myself to stay focused but also to aid anyone else who might find themselves in the mood to throw their hat into the ring.

Artist: Bill Watterson Comic: Calvin and Hobbes Image sourced: helenlevel3writing.wordpress.com

Artist: Bill Watterson
Comic: Calvin and Hobbes
Image sourced: helenlevel3writing.wordpress.com

Competitions

Mslexia Women’s Short Story Competition

The Skinny: Stories can be up to 2,200 words, and so long as they’ve never been published before (and they’re written in English), they can be on any subject. Entry costs £10 (sterling) and should be accompanied by a cover sheet, downloadable from the Mslexia website. First prize is £2,000 plus publication in a forthcoming issue of Mslexia.

The Complicated Bits: You have to be a woman to enter, and the closing date is next Monday, March 17th. So, get your skates on!

The Molly Keane Creative Writing Award

The Skinny: Entry is free, and there’s no restriction on the style or length of the short story submitted. You need to download an entry form from the Waterford County Council website and submit it with your story to the Waterford County Arts Office. Peachy.

The Complicated Bits: Entry closes this Friday, March 15th. Sorry about the late notice.

The Moth International Short Story Prize 2014

The Skinny: Stories can be up to 6,000 words, and must be original and not published elsewhere. A €9 entry fee allows you to enter one story, and you may enter as many stories as you like. The closing date isn’t until June 30th, which is good. You can find the rules here, and a link to online entry here. Go on, go on, go on.

The Complicated Bits: There aren’t any, really. Get on it.

The Bridport Prize

The Skinny: Bridport offers a smorgasbord of options. There’s a flash fiction competition (stories up to 250 words); a short story competition (stories up to 5000 words) and a poetry competition (poems up to 42 lines.) A variety of entry fees apply, and you should probably check out the rules, over here. Bridport offers great prizes, and wonderful exposure should you win, or be shortlisted.

The Complicated Bits: Winning is difficult, as the world and his mother tends to enter this competition. It’s reputable, popular and well worth entering, but there’ll be stiff competition. Just so you know.

MMU Novella Award

The Skinny: Have you written, or are you writing, a novella of between 20,000 and 40,000 words? Then, this is the competition for you. The prize is £1,000 plus publication, and the closing date is May 23rd, and the entry fee is £15. So long as you’re over 16 and writing in English, you’re good to go.

The Complicated Bits: Ain’t none. Well, assuming you have a novella in the works, that is. I don’t, so for me it would be nigh-on impossible. For you, though, it may be just the ticket.

Criminal Lines

The Skinny: If you’re a writer of crime, suspense or thriller novels, then listen up. A.M. Heath, an excellent agency, is looking for an unagented, unpublished crime author for their Criminal Lines prize. Amazingly, the novel you enter doesn’t even have to be finished – but you need to have a clear plan in place for the story. The prize is £1,000, but – better than that – you get to chat to some of A.M. Heath’s super-agents about your work. So, it’s well worth giving this a go if you’re the next Henning Mankell. Details are available over here.

The Complicated Bits: There aren’t any, so long as you have a twisty, nefarious brain which cooks up deliciously dark stories. I don’t. So, um. Good luck, though!

Image: avajae.blogspot.com

Image: avajae.blogspot.com

Submissions

There are literally millions of places to submit your work. Millions. I’m throwing out a few that are on the top of my head, for various reasons, but the following list is by no means complete.

ESCzine

A fabulous wee e-zine which is well worth checking out. They’re looking for submissions for their fifth issue, closing date April 30th.

Number Eleven Magazine

Possibly the most beautiful literary magazine in the ‘verse. Send them in your stuff, and maybe you’ll see it lovingly and gorgeously reproduced.

Story Shack Magazine

The best thing about this magazine is the fact that not only will you see your story in print if it’s accepted, but you’ll also be paired with an illustrator who’ll bring your vision to life.

The View From Here

Edgy and interesting, ‘The View From Here’ is a great place to stop off if you’ve some free time and fancy a read, and also if you have a slightly strange short story looking for publication. Give them a go.

Metazen

Pretty. Great stories. Wonderful ethos. Check them out!

wordlegs

wordlegs’ remit is wide – they accept poetry, short stories and flash fiction. And they’re lovely people.

The Bohemyth

You can’t go wrong with The Bohemyth. Always worth a read, and wonderfully produced. As far as I know, their submissions window is always open.

***

Wherever you choose to send your work, good luck. I hope to see you on a winners’ podium, or in print, in the near future. With any luck, I’ll be there with you. Always remember you have nothing to lose by submitting work to competitions (well, besides a small sum of money, sometimes!); every competition will make you a better writer. And – needless to say, but I’ll say it anyway – never give up.

 

 

Dealing With Disappointment

Perhaps this post is tempting fate. If my mother were here, she’d no doubt tell me to put the laptop away and go to bed, and not to be writing nonsense all over my lovely blog. But she’s not, so I’m going to take a short trip down a dark and scary road, and talk a little bit about disappointment.

disappointmentAnyone who stops by here on a regular basis (hello and thank you, by the way) will know that a writer is what I want to be. Anyone with half a brain will know that it’s not exactly a secure or lucrative thing to do with your life. You may also have gathered that I’m sort of new to the whole writing scene – I’m just beginning to dip my toes in the cold, unforgiving water that is A Writing Career. I’m green, full of ‘notions’ (as we say in Ireland), perhaps even a little too optimistic. I’m aware of all this, I know that it’s not very clever, and I know that I will, at some stage – possibly in the very near future – have to deal with disappointment.

The bad thing is, I know from personal experience that I don’t deal well with disappointment. I’m almost afraid to get feedback on my writing, because it (both my writing, and by extension, the criticism) feels so personal to me, and if the feedback isn’t good, it feels like a laceration across my heart. This is ridiculous, of course – I’m well aware of it, too. But it’s a hard habit to break. Thinking about it logically, here and now, I realise clearly that interpreting someone’s opinion about something I’ve written as a direct judgement upon me as a person is completely nuts. But still I do it. And because I tend toward that way of thinking, I often wonder why I’m choosing to put myself in the firing line, and why I’m leaving myself open to huge disappointment and rejection. I know that writing professionally is a long, hard struggle. I know that overnight success doesn’t happen. I know that I’m setting myself up for a fall, followed by another fall, followed by another… Knowing it isn’t the same as experiencing it, but I hope it’ll help, when the time comes.

I suppose I’m taking this path in life because I want to write more than I fear being rejected; however, it’s taken me a long, long time to come to this point. It’s also good for me – I tell myself, at least – to start dealing with rejection and disappointment in a constructive way, and to learn (through being rejected and disappointed on a regular basis!) how to separate the feeling of ‘not being good enough’ from my concept of myself. I don’t have any secrets around how to get through the feeling of rejection after rejection – not yet, at least – but I hope that the mental preparation I’m trying to do now will act as some sort of armour when I’m sitting waiting for the phone to ring, or for an email to appear. Sometimes, reminders about what I’m facing come from the most unexpected places. A throwaway comment from a friend today, for instance, threw me into a funk of ‘what the heck am I letting myself in for?’-itis;  I went for a long walk in the evening sunshine, and thought about these issues deeply. I came to a few conclusions:

1. If/When I’m rejected, whether it be by beta-reader, agent, publisher, or whomever, it’ll hurt, but it’s not the end of the world.

2. If/When I’m rejected, I should take time to realise that it is not me who is being rejected. It’s my work which has not come up to scratch, and there may be myriad reasons for that. Tastes differ, the market might not be right, I may have made a huge error in my presentation, or in my work… whatever. It doesn’t mean that I’ve suddenly become a horrible person, who isn’t worthy of anything good happening to her.

3. Rejection, and the crushing disappointment that inevitably follows, is an opportunity to learn and grow. Weed out what’s not working, re-jig your work, and send it out again. Let someone else have the opportunity to read it.

4. Every rejection will make me a better writer, and – more than likely – a far better person, too.

5. When I’m disappointed, I need to allow myself to feel it, get through it, and get over it. Telling myself my own feelings are silly is another route to mental pain, so I hope I’ll allow myself time to recover between onslaughts.

6. Don’t Give Up. I’ve worked hard to get here.

(and my favourite, possibly because it’s my mother’s mantra):

7. All will be well, and all will be well, and all manner of things will be well (Julian of Norwich).

Anybody have any tips, or words of wisdom they’d care to share? For those who are old hands at the whole ‘submit work, which is rejected, which is re-worked, which is submitted again’ cycle – does it get easier with time? (Please say ‘yes’!)

puss in boots