Friday, 1 July 2016

The rewards of variety, and a sobering commemoration

I thought my life was already sufficiently rich and varied: running my editorial consultancy, Fiction Feedback, providing critiques and editing services to novelists.

Then early this year I was asked if I could take over as Director of the Crime Writers Association in a temporary capacity. What an experience! The learning curve was so steep I needed crampons and it was incredibly stressful getting to grips at first; managing membership databases, responding to both internal and external correspondence, organising the annual conference, writing and posting content to a variety of websites and e-newsletters and organising several competitions. Now I've been able to hand some of the work to a newly appointed management company and keep the secretarial and website/newsletter aspects: perfect. So I still have the fun of working in such a stimulating environment with crime writers and their publishers and agents, but have clawed back my time so other aspects of my work don't suffer.

On the contrary, they are enhanced and reinvigorated by what I've learnt and by my renewed enthusiasm: it's like I've pressed 'refresh' on my whole working life.

I'm currently working on two copy-edits with three more due in and two structural edits. And all the while, continuing to act as Secretary for the CWA. What fun!

The novel I copy-edited just before I began working with the CWA has now been published and it seems apt to share, as by a strange quirk of fate I met the author, Jason Monaghan, through the CWA some years ago - although this novel isn't crime. It's called Glint of Light on Broken Glass and is about three young people growing up in Guernsey just before and during the First World War. It's a romance, but much more than that; it casts light on why we all make the choices we make, how much free will we really have and how much circumstances, family and even our empathy with the world around us affect our decisions. It's beautifully written, I'd recommend it. It seems especially appropriate to do so today (1 July 2016) when we commemorate the lives lost in the Battle of the Somme. Today's upheavals and political crises pale into comparison with what went on one hundred years ago, don't they. 

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Calling All Crime Writers

Do you like writing crime fiction? Are you looking to be published, or at least noticed by the industry? If so, there are two competitions run every year by the prestigious CWA (the Crime Writers’ Association) that might appeal. You’ll need to be quick, though.

Debut Dagger
The first 3,000 words of a crime novel and a maximum 1,000-word synopsis.  Entry fee: £30 + VAT. Prize: £500 and an assessment for all shortlisted entries. Deadline: 28 Feb.

You must be an unpublished author and the novel or extract must not have been published in any form.

Don’t be put off by the entry fee. If your extract gets through the first stages and is presented to the judges, you’ll find it’s an amazing way of you and your work becoming known to literary agents, respected crime authors and publishers. Offers for representation and of publication have been made on shortlisted work in previous years, so please consider this competition if you’re at all serious about a traditional publishing contract.

Margery Allingham Short Story
A story up to 3,500 words encapsulating Margery Allingham’s belief about what a mystery story should be ( see link below). Entry fee: £15 + VAT. Prize: £1,000 and passes to CrimeFest 2017. Deadline: 1 March.

The same as for the Debut Dagger applies about agents, authors and publishers reading your work.

You can be a published author, but this story mustn’t have been published in any form.

Dea Parkin, the Editor-in-Chief of Fiction Feedback and author of this blog, is currently working for the CWA on a short-term contract. I strongly recommend you to enter the competitions if either suit; they really are an excellent opportunity of getting noticed. Almost all the country’s top crime writers are in the CWA, and many editors, publishers, agents, bloggers and critics are associate members. Go for it!