Faber and Faber/Stylist Crime Fiction Competition 2012

Look! I’m telling you about a writing competition in plenty of time for you to actually write something and enter. Go me!

Does this signify a new and exciting period in which I become super-professional, productive and timely? Unlikely. My advice is to enjoy this brief moment of efficiency and expect the return of my usual, slap-dash service in the imminent future.

So. The competition. Any kind of crime novel is acceptable (cosy, thriller, psychological, police procedural) but it must have a female protagonist.

To enter, you need a short outline and bio of your main character, plus the first 6000 words of the book. The deadline is 12 July.

First prize is a publishing contract with Faber and Faber (with an advance of £5000). One runner-up will receive a place on the writing course of their choice at Faber Academy, worth up to £1750.

Full details here.

My Weekend: Puppets, Zombies and Lemon Drizzle Cake

On Saturday the sun was shining and my husband was off gallivanting (climbing a hill) and my favourite daughter was home from her school trip so I donned an apron (yes, really) and did a passable impression of a domestic goddess. I baked flapjacks and lemon drizzle cake, I cleaned and tidied, I hung laundry on the line to dry and I sewed a couple of cushion covers. My mum came round for lunch and board games were played. It was a properly domestic, cosy and delightful day.

In the evening, just to balance things out, we watched Zombieland. I loved it. Woody Harrelson is a very funny man. I will warn you, however, that the first twenty minutes or so  are pretty disgusting. I was starting to worry that it was all going to be a bit too graphic for my delicate sensibilities but I was already through the ‘worst’. Either that, or I just got used to close up shots of zombies spewing blood. Whatever.

It was Mother’s Day in the UK yesterday and I was awoken by my children bearing gifts. Green & Black’s chocolate, a beaded bracelet, homemade cards and… Mummy Puppet. My son made me in puppet form and I couldn’t be happier. I now have a partner in crime and someone to blame when things Go Wrong (“Mummy Puppet did it!”). Plus, as I pointed out to my bemused husband, I will now win any discussion that we put to the vote: Husband = 1 vote, Me = 1 vote, Mummy Puppet = 1 vote. Score.

My daughter tried to rename Mummy Puppet ‘Muppet’, but was vociferously overruled by my son. And, oddly, by Mummy Puppet herself. She’s actually quite strong-minded and, rather creepily, she sounds like Mr Punch. Hmm. She’s looking at me now. Staring, really. With… Intensity. Hold on, while I turn her to face the wall… That’s better.

In which I am swithering

Swithering. Probably my second-most-succesful activity after procrastination. I’ve been trying to decide between projects since  before Christmas. In desperation, I decided to work on them all in the hope that I’d lean heavily towards one or the other. This hasn’t happened. Instead, I’ve limped forwards on all the books, have many voices in my head, and an unpleasant, scattered sensation throughout every writing session.

So. That’s an experiment that I won’t repeat.

Which leaves me with the decision. Do I work on Book A: A character-driven, women’s fiction affair that I began on the advice of my old agent? At the time it was like pulling teeth but when I read it now, I quite like it. Plus, there’s over 50,000 words in the file.

Or, Book B: My supernatural YA. I started this for NaNo ages ago. Three years? And have been working on it off-and-on ever since. I’ve got about 55,000 words and ideas about how to fix the plot/character issues, but it all feels a bit ‘meh’. I can’t seem to make myself care very much.

Book C: Adult urban fantasy thing that I started for KazNo 2011. I like my main character, I like lots of the dialogue, but I stalled early on and am not sure where the story is going. Of course, I never know where my stories are going, so I shouldn’t let that stop me…

Finally, Book D. This is basically starting a new book. I’d be using a character (or two) from the book I wrote for my MLitt, but that’s it. Blank page. New-ish genre (for me); psychological thriller/crime.

In case you’re having a similar dilemma, I’d recommend doing what I just did… Write out all your options. The decision seems clearer to me, already. Failing that, this Should Do Would Do Book Dilemma post from Victoria Schwab might help.

Scrabble coasters by Wild & Wolf

After a weekend in Glasgow seeing Laura Marling and staying in a gorgeous hotel* (courtesy of my fabulous brother and sister-in-law), I’m finding it hard to shake a slightly ‘meh’ feeling. I haven’t got much work done, I’m angsting over some submissions that I have ‘out there’, and I’m missing my daughter who is on her first ‘away from home’ school trip.

Still. In a world with Scrabble tile coasters, books to read and write, and my lovely family, how can I stay down for long?

[The coasters are pub-style cardboard ones and they cost £12.95 for 52 from here.]

* Note: How do you know you’re not just in a nice hotel, but a Properly Swanky one?
No. It’s not the ‘pillow menu’ or the ridiculously large and comfortable bed. It’s not the marble-lined bathroom or the speaker system in the ceiling. It’s not even the shower that’s like standing in a tropical rainstorm. No, it’s when you get Tunnock’s teacakes on your hospitality tray. Awesome.