Blog Jo HerbertIf you're planning on entering our Writers' & Artists' short story competition then you'd better get your writing finger out.

There are only two weeks left until the closing date on 14 February (Valentine's Day to all you romantics out there).

All you have to do (I'm saying that with a smile) is write 2,000 words or fewer on the theme of 'unity or union' and email it over: see Writers' & Artists' short story competition for full terms and conditions. You stand to win 500 smackers, a place on an Arvon residential writing course (such a good prize) and, best of all, publication of your story here, on this site, for all to see.

Getting yourself seen and read is one of the most beneficial things you can do as an aspiring author in order to help your work along. Finding an audience who likes your writing will lend credibility to your submission.

Publishers consider new authors a risky investment – they don't know you, they don't know your work and, most importantly, they don't know if your work will sell.

Being able to state in your proposal that you've already achieved some level of success can help to persuade an agent to keep reading your submission. That is a big deal when you consider that most agents don't get further than the covering letter.

So, if you haven't already, get writing and email us your story. It's not too late. In fact, last-minute pressure might well help the creative process along. Proof of this is the number of entries we usually receive in the closing week. In 2009 we received more than 50 entries on the last day!

So, get going – it's not only a competition, it's also an opportunity to put yourself on the writing map.

Warm wishes, Jo

PS: all Valentine's Day cards will be gratefully received.