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Writers' & Artists' Blog

Doing My Homework

Sophie Mackenzie

I’ve done it four times now, but the wait while my agent reads my manuscript for the first time has become no less agonising than it was three years ago, when I first received that longed-for “request for full”. I check my emails compulsively. I read and reread my completed novel, spotting typos and literals that make me cringe. And when at last the call comes, the relief that she likes the book is no less giddy than it was the first time.

This time, though, the comment from my agent (the wonderful Peta Nightingale at LAW) that absolutely delighted me came not after she’d read my novel, You Can’t Fall in Love With Your Ex (Can You?), but after she’d read the acknowledgements, which I sent her a week or so before publication. In amongst thanking her, my cover designer, friends, family and cat, I paid tribute to the sources I’d used to help me understand the world of classical ballet, of which I’d had no understanding or experience at all before beginning the novel.

“I …

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Do I Have the X-Factor?

Justine John

I know I should hate the X-Factor, but, I admit that I don’t.  I love the sheer banality of the old fashioned entertainment, the on-the-edge-of-your-seat competition, and the tears of joy at someone accomplishing a dream, even if it is rigged.  I also know it’s heartless to laugh in the face of a person who possesses profound stupidity, to the point of humiliating themselves in front of millions of viewers across the country, and further, no doubt, on the internet.  It’s so sad, but, in my opinion, it’s also highly enjoyable.  And even though Sting called it ‘televised karaoke’ (I agree, but karaoke is fun), Moby said it ‘cheapens music’ (I agree, but some music is overpriced anyway) and Calvin Harris thinks it’s ‘a joke’ (I agree, a very amusing one), Simon Cowell is a genius for developing a media storming spectacle that not only attracts an audience of millions but one that has also created life-changing opportunities for …

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Approaching the King of Welsh Noir for writing advice

Nia CampbellIn April, I made a deal with myself - a deal so unlikely of swinging in my favour that I could continue under the blissful pretence of self-motivation without actually doing anything.

I joined Twitter and said, “If Malcolm Pryce (author of Louie Knight Aberystwyth novels and one of my favourite writers) ever follows me, I’ll write and ask him to read the first chapter of my ‘book’”.

Of course, there was no chance whatsoever that this was going to happen, so I knew I was pretty safe. But guess what? He did. Not even two months later, a notification popped up on my phone alerting me to a new Twitter follower: @exogamist. The name rang a bell. I clicked through only to come face to face with the King of Welsh Noir himself.

I use the term ‘book’ in its loosest sense; what I had, in fact, was about eight incomplete chapters about a gangly teenage boy living in the small Welsh town of Port Talbot. Under normal circumstances I would have dismissed my ‘deal’, but the fact …

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Killer Fiction Competition - Winners

Writing crime and thriller fiction

The time has come to announce the winners of our Killer Fiction competition - we've had an absolutely fantastic response, and choosing just one winner has been very difficult. With hundreds of stories of an extremely high standard, our judge and literary agent Diana Beaumont has had her work cut out trying to narrow down so many great entries. Thank you to everyone who submitted their work!

However, tough as they were, decisions have had to be made. So, without further ado, the three winning entries are...

The winner

Golden Hour by Bean Sawyer

Diana's feedback:

The writing is atmospheric and draws in the reader into this police procedural. The authors evokes feeling of a teenage girl out with her boyfriend and stuck in charge of her younger brother (and dog) well. It’s one of those nightmarish moments you could imagine – distracted for a moment and then the boy disappears while the couple are too wrapped up in each other. We are introduced to DCI Floyd (it might be good to make it …

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I Think, I Hope

Justine John

And so I’ve begun.  Begun to be a writer.  I think.  I hope.  I’ve got a manuscript.  I’ve got a mentor.  I’ve got a Twitter account. I’ve joined a writer’s group.  I’ve even got a pseudonym (titter).  And now I’ve got a blog! 

I still feel like a rookie though.  A novice.  A fledgling.  A beginner.  It’s even hard to call myself a ‘proper writer’ because I haven’t published anything. 

I’ve always written something – teenage poetry, industry articles, and good letters.  I wrote the first chapter of my novel long ago… before I had the story.  Before the ‘what’s it about?’ had revealed itself.

I am almost fifty now.  I’ve had a lot of jobs.  Good ones, and some of them well paid.  Some of them even satisfying.  I ran my own company for fifteen years, organising events.  I led a young, dynamic team and …

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