Issue #112

Free Writers' Newsletter

Jul 31, 2012  



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Short story contest winners and new issue of magazine

This month, has announced the winner and special commendations of its Eighth International Short Story Contest, as well as releasing Issue 21 of firstwriter.magazine, Inferno

Daithi Hogan of Sheffield, South Yorkshire, was announced as the winner of the competition for his short story "The Promise", and wins £200. The winning story can be read online at

The story will also be published in a future issue of firstwriter.magazine, and the winner will also receive a voucher worth £24 / $36 – as will the ten Special Commendations:

  • Stephen Atkinson, United Kingdom, "Cokum";
  • James Rice, United Kingdom, "Taylor in Winter";
  • Ryan Lee, United States, "A Down and Out Christmas";
  • Meryl Moorhouse, United Kingdom, "Desmond";
  • Vincent Wood, United Kingdom, "A Story of Two Heroin(e)s";
  • David Mathews, United Kingdom, "Can I come and see you when you’re dead?";
  • Paul Chiswick, United Kingdom, "Twelveheads Revisited";
  • Clay Iles, United Kingdom, "Music Lessons";
  • Elizabeth O'Herlihy, Ireland, "Number Forty-Five";
  • Kristine Rothbury, Australia, "A Brilliant Life".

The Ninth International Short Story Contest is currently underway. To submit your work for the chance of winning £200 (that's around $300) click here

firstwriter.magazine Issue 21: Inferno
The latest issue of firstwriter.magazine has also just been released, featuring quality fiction and poetry submitted from around the world, plus your first chance to see not just the winning poems from our Tenth International Poetry Competition, but also all ten Special Commendations. To view the magazine click here. To enter your work in our Eleventh International Poetry Competition click here.

All those whose work has been included in issue 21 have now been notified, so if you submitted work for issue 21 and have not received notification of inclusion then, regrettably, on this occasion your submission was not successful. Please do feel free to try again, however, through We have now begun accepting submissions for Issue 23.


International Copyright Registration 
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Three books, two publishers, one year...

In April 2011, Marion Grace Woolley found her first publisher through's database of publishers. A year later, she has published three books with two different publishers, both from our listings.

Here, she talks a little about her success, and the advice she’d give to new authors.

fw: Thank you for taking the time to talk to us, Marion, and congratulations on your success! Who are your publishers, and what are the books?

MGW: Green Sunset Books and Belvedere (under Netherworld Books) are the two publishers.

The books are a bit of an eclectic mix. I have always enjoyed reading a broad range of stories, so I suppose it makes sense that, as a writer, I also like to explore different genres. I have been very lucky in finding publishers who have supported me in my endeavours.

The first novel to be published was Angorichina, which is historical fiction set in a tuberculosis clinic in 1930s South Australia. The second is Lucid, a dark, loosely sci-fi novel focusing on the relationship between shamanic entheogens, dreaming and drugs. Finally, there’s Georg[i]e, which is a transgender romance, recently described as "chick lit with balls".

Ango and Georg[i]e are with Green Sunset; Lucid with Netherworld.

fw: How did you go about approaching publishers?

I have been a member of for a long time. Even before my books were finished I had half an eye on the listings. During periods of procrastination, I’d browse through and make my own list of "potentials". It wasn’t an exact science, more whether I liked the name of a company or not!

I don’t think many people are lucky enough to get accepted on their first submission. Even famous names report their fair share of knock-backs. It took me two months to get a "yes" on Ango, which is pretty good going.

I don’t really believe in making one submission at a time. I think that’s a bit unfair on authors, as some publishers take months to reply. One well-established agent never replied at all. Imagine if I had been waiting on them before making another submission.

I don’t think there’s any great mystery in approaching publishers. The golden rules are: follow the submission guidelines to the letter, proofread and spell-check your work.

Even if you do everything right, you’ll still get a few rejections, it’s just part of the game. You’re not a proper writer until you have enough to make a doorstop.

fw: What has been your most valuable lesson?

That there is a lot of mythology surrounding publishing.

When I set out, I think I thought what most people do: 1. All publishers have a printing machine out back; 2. Your book will be in every high street store and displayed on the side of busses; and 3. There will be a hefty advance.

The reality is: 1. Most independent press go through Lightning Source (Ingram Books), who have cornered the market in POD publishing – the only ink in their office comes with a "received" stamp; 2. Social networking aside, advertising is extremely expensive and most indie presses don’t have the budget to compete with over 100,000 new titles a year; and 3. There is generally no advance.

All of that can sort of burst your bubble if you let it. The important lesson is to hold on to why you write, and try not to get swept away in all this "writing is a business" lark. Yes, it can be a business, but I don’t think that’s why most of us picked up a pen in the first place.

fw: Any advice for aspiring authors?

Cultivate your own self-worth.

I don’t think there’s a lot of room in this business (there’s that word again!) for doubt. So many people will tell you that your work isn’t quite right, send you a rejection slip, offer to publish you "for a fee" – if you were to take all of that on board, even the Dalai Lama would feel depressed.

Literature is hugely subjective. There has never been a book written that everybody liked. So, accepting the fact that some people won’t appreciate what you’ve written, seek out the ones who do. It’s a sign of an ailing society that we can listen to praise and criticism in equal measures, yet place more weight on criticism.

I interviewed a friend a few years back over his decision to self-publish. Something he said stuck with me:

“I've never been much for assessing the market and so on. I generally create things that I want to exist, in the faith that no man is an island, and someone else will want them to exist too.”

I think that’s a mighty fine ethos.

fw: What have you got out at the moment?

I’ve just released my first collection of short stories as an e-book: Splintered Door.

As with my paperbacks, it’s a bit of a mixture of themes and styles. A good introduction if you’ve not read my work before. Sort of "dark fairytales for adults".

I’d like to offer 50% off for fwn readers until September 1, 2012. Head over to Smashwords and enter the code: ER47Q  Even if you don’t have a Kindle or iBook, you can still download it as a PDF or read online.

I’m also appearing at booQfest in September. Sunday 16, Northampton Library from 2–3pm. Come and say hello.

You can find Marion online via her website, Facebook or on Twitter (@AuthorMGW).

To search over 1,350 publishers for one who will offer you your own publishing deal, click here



Hungry Hill Poetry Prize 2012

The Hungry Hill Poetry Prize 2012 is now open to entries until August 31, 2012. It is an open competition for poems up to 40 lines, on any theme. First prize is €200 and there is an entry fee of €6 for up to three poems.

The competition will be judged by Gabriel Griffin, poet and organiser of the Poetry on the Lake festival.

For details of the competition and how to enter, visit

For over 100 other writing competitions, click here


Click here for great value writing classes!


Newspaper Taxis: Poetry After the Beatles

The Beatles changed popular culture in an era when popular culture was changing the world, high culture and low culture blending to become our culture.

The editors of The Captain’s Tower: Seventy Poets Celebrate Bob Dylan at Seventy (Seren, 2011) are planning to create a new anthology to mark fifty years of what they describe as "the only pop group guaranteed a place in histories of the future". They will be drawing upon Things We Said Today: Poems About The Beatles (Stride, 1994), which included contributions from Philip Larkin, Roger McGough, Carol Ann Duffy, Adrian Henri, Wendy Cope, Jeremy Reed, Wes Magee and Lachlan MacKinnon.

The editors are seeking poems that exist only because The Beatles did, but come after, going beyond hagiography and reminiscence to capture what made them a vital force, at the forefront of creative and social change.

Submissions should be sent by email to



New website for freelance writers

Launched in July, Creative-Bloc aims to become the central hub for freelance writers working across multiple industries.

Primarily an online members club for writers and employers, Creative-Bloc is also a directory and portal. Combining job and project listings with industry news, guest and member interviews and insider tips, Creative-Bloc offers its Writer Members unlimited access to the job bank and employer directory.

Employer Members will gain unrivalled access to hundreds of the world’s premiere writers working across a wide range of sectors and niche industries, indexed by verticals such as location, languages spoken and area of expertise.

While there are numerous third-party agencies who generate editorial copy, Creative-Bloc aims to do away with the middle man and enable its Employer Members to obtain more control over the content they commission. Moreover, by working directly with employers, Writer Members will earn a higher fee.

“Creative-Bloc offers writers the commercial advice and support necessary to succeed in a competitive freelance environment.” – Rachael Oku

For further information on becoming a member of Creative-Bloc, visit or email Rachael: Keep up-to-date with blog news, tips and job opportunities via Twitter: @Creative__Bloc.


Finding time to write is hard
By Marcella Simmons

Finding the time is one of the hardest part of being a writer – at least for me anyway. I work days part time, and have a young nine-month-old grandson living with me who requires 99.5% of my free time when I'm home. That's my other job! Writing is just that little thing I do on the side, when there is extra time between naps!

Every day, in between loading the dishwasher and making the bed, in between feedings and nap time, I find ten or twenty minutes to jot down ideas or write in my journal.

Church starts this morning in little over an hour and Baby Kendray is napping, so while the dishwasher is whining and the dryer is buzzing I am making use of what few minutes I have to spare. Since there are several writing projects saved on my computer desktop, these few minutes are used to make editorial changes, jot down ideas and read a few articles about writing. My inspiration. I even had a few minutes to work on this particular article about finding time to write.

There are times when my mind is exhausted after a hard day at work and then coming home to a little one. I either watch a little television or just take it easy until I can find the energy to write.

Starting a new family wasn't in my plans a few years ago but when my daughter gave birth to Baby Kendray and realized three weeks after he was born that she didn't really want him. It was my grandmotherly duty to step in and adopt him. Having met him and loving him from day one wasn't hard to do. How she gave him up without second thoughts is beyond me, but there is a little more to this story than is being told. All I can say is that the situation my daughter found herself in wasn't good and yes, drugs were involved – it was either take him in or the State would take him and I couldn't allow that to happen, especially when it was someone I cared so much for. His mother has little to do with him now except during supervised visits once a week. His sperm donor has no contact with him whatsoever.

My own baby is now twenty five years old and believe me, and as I said before, starting a new family wasn't in my plans. But now that Kendray is a part of my life, I schedule my writing time around him. Sometimes I write while he is in my lap! The truth is, he just gave me more to write about! My journal is filled with pages about Kendray – about his new tooth, when he started crawling, and how he makes me laugh. There are so many new ideas to write about – it's just finding the time to write that is the hard part – or making myself write when I don't even feel like moving a single muscle!

Make use of every free minute you can use to write. Have an idea, jot it down. Ponder it in your mind until you're ready to write. When you sit down to write, the idea is there – all you have to do is take that idea and write the thoughts you had in your mind - turn it into a poem, a story or an article. The most important thing to remember is that finding time to write is hard work, but once it is written, you can make into a workable piece of art. Never let an idea go without jotting it down even if it's no more than a short sentence. That sentence could turn into a saleable story!

Good luck in all your writing endeavours!


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