Sunday, 19 September 2010

Short list for the Early Years Awards announced

The shortlists for the Booktrust Early Years Awards have now been announced. The purpose of the awards is to honour books that are dynamic and creative in words, design and illustration, thereby encouraging a sustained passion for books in children of all ages.

Awards will be presented for three different categories; Best Book for babies under 1 year of age, Best Picture Book for pre-school children up to 5 years of age; and Best Emerging Illustrator of a book for pre-school children up to five years of age.

The winner for each category will be announced at an awards ceremony in London on the 2nd September 2010.

e-publisher seeking manuscripts

LazyDay Publishing is a new company, launching officially on the 1st December 2010, and is looking for authors who want to be 'part of their team'. As an e-publishing company, the royalties offered are between 40 and 50% and so this form of publishing is attractive to authors in the modern day.

LazyDay Publishing are asking for you to submit only completed and original manuscripts, or a previously publishing book for which you still hold the rights for further publication.

LazyDay suggest electronic submissions, with a query letter included in the body of the email, and an inclusion of a book blurb, word count, the genre and title of the book also in the overall email. Allow 6 weeks for an editorial response.

Winner of the Dolman Travel Book of the Year announced

Ian Thomson has been announced as the winner of the Dolman Travel Book of the year, in the fifth year that the award has been running. Thomson's book, The Dead Yard, won him a cheque for £2,500, presented to him at an award ceremony at the Author's Club.

Other shortlisted writers for the award this year included Along the Enchanted Way by William Blacker; A Single Swallow by Horatio Clare; Eleven Minutes Late by Matthew Engel; Lost and Found in Russia by Susan Richards; Out of Steppe by Daniel Metcalfe; and Tequila Oil: Getting Lost in Mexico by Hugh Thomson.

For all you wine enthusiasts...

The popular wine magazine Wine Enthusiast is looking for articles and short stories for future publications. Wine Enthusiast has a strong online presence and whilst it is a US publication, it has an international following.

They are after original and specific article submissions. Wine Enthusiast is a quality magazine, with editors in all the wine regions around the world and so general articles will not be accepted.

In order to submit, send through a query letter via post or email ( for details) and attach a CV and clips of your previous work if applicable.

Mills and Boon's publication prize

Mills and Boon are well known publishers and they are offering aspiring romance writers the chance to become published novelists through an exciting competition. You'll have to get your skates on though, as the competition deadline looms ahead with a closing date of the 22nd September.

The competition is asking entrants to submit an opening chapter of their story, which will be viewable on their website for other entrants to read and comment upon. A panel of celebrities and authors will choose 10 finalists who will continue their story, supported by a mentor, before the public are asked to choose their four favourite contenders. To choose the final winner, all four stories will be showcased and again, a panel will choose the ultimate winner.

To enter you must be previously unpublished and you must submit your first chapter, which can be up to 10,000 words in length, through the website.

The winner will receive a publication offer, a Mills and Boon editor for a year, and iPad, and a selection of Mills and Boon books. All runner ups will receive editorial advice and books.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

National Novel Writing Month

The National Novel Writing Month is a writing initative over the month of November. It was started in 1999 by Cris Baty, when he and 20 like-minded writers got together to see if they could each write a novel in a month.

It is now an annual phenomenon with many writers throwing caution to the wind and embracing this writing frenzy in November.

Writing one 50,000-word novel from scratch in a month's time.

Who: You! We can't do this unless we have some other people trying it as well. Let's write laughably awful yet lengthy prose together.

Why: The reasons are endless! To actively participate in one of our era's most enchanting art forms! To write without having to obsess over quality. To be able to make obscure references to passages from our novels at parties. To be able to mock real novelists who dawdle on and on, taking far longer than 30 days to produce their work.

You can sign up anytime to add your name to the roster and browse the forums. Writing begins November 1. To be added to the official list of winners, you must reach the 50,000-word mark by November 30 at midnight. Once your novel has been verified by our web-based team of robotic word counters, the partying begins.

Library purchases letters offering 'real insight' into poet Ted Hughes

The Independent reported yesterday that poems and letters (which have never been seen by the public before) written by former Poet Laureate Ted Hughes, have been bought by the British Library.

'The letters date from 1954 to 1964 and shed light on Hughes's feelings about living in the US, life with Sylvia Plath and his opinion on other poets and writers. '

Having read Letters of Ted Hughes I realised that you do not need to know intimate biagraphical details of someone to appreciate their work. Hughes' collection Birthday Letters offered a new perspective on his relationship with Sylvia Plath but, even without knowing the publicised details of their relationship, these are extraordinary poems.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Poetry collections fit for novices

The Guardian's book blog raises the question of which poetry collections are best for novices looking to break into contemporary fiction. This particular article suggests that Seamus Heaney is a good place to start, and as a previous A'level student who used a selection of his works for her final coursework, I would have to agree. He is accessible, sensitive and lyrical in his choice of language.

Alison Flood, the author of this particular blog entry goes on to suggest the novice poetry reader could take a look at Christopher Reid's A Scattering which I must confess does not sit on my bookshelf.

For me it is the simple work of Roger McGough that is inspirational as a read for a new poetry reader. His style and simplicity is so welcoming and has certainly influenced my writing. I am also a huge Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath fan (which probably accounts for my appreciation of Heaney too), but in terms of contemporary poetry, I'm not sure they are the best poets to commence your exploration with.

Who are your top contemporary poets?

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Not the Booker Prize

How many times do you pick up a new novel on a whim or a half recommendation from a friend?

I can't remember the last time I picked up a novel without it having been glorified in the media or hailed as a classic by an eccentric English teacher. How do new novels get their publicity without a Booker nomination or strong PR campaign?

The Guardian recently asked for people to nominate their favourite book which has been published in the last year.

The criteria is as follows:

* Any full length novel (or at least, a long novella) written by a citizen of the Commonwealth, the Republic of Ireland or Zimbabwe.

* No English translation of a book written originally in any other language.

* No self-published books where the author is the publisher or where a company has been specifically setup to publish that book.

* The books have to have a scheduled publication date between 1 October 2009 and 30 September 2010.

Who would you choose?