2016: A Round-up

I actually can’t believe we’ve almost reached the end of 2016 – I still want to write/type 2015 half the time! It’s been a year of up and downs, like most years are, but I’m not talking about the wider events of the world, just the personal ones for me.

I’ve been quiet over the last few months. I mentioned this previously but I’ve had a lot on. It hasn’t been easy but there are good memories in there too. I figured now is a good time to do a little round-up of 2016 and where I’m up to now – as well as where I’m going.

The last three months have been ridiculously hard. Nothing ‘bad’ has happened but I didn’t expect the redrafting to take so much out of me. I was ill during this period and there was work to contend with, among other things, but I’m hoping future drafts will be easier to manage. It’s hard to describe but writers will probably get it – and maybe when people read the book they’ll understand why it took so long. Maybe not.

The book

This is probably my biggest ‘thing’ of 2016. I started writing this story in 2008 and got about 30,000 words in before stopping. It was a filler project and it fell away when other projects took over.

Last year I had the perfect ending for it – so I did what any writer would do and got to work. It was only when that was done that I realised the ending did not match the beginning at all, so that needed to be rewritten. From there, it was obvious to write the middle. What started as a side project was now a main project.

I finished the first draft in May this year and I needed time away. I took the summer off, it reminded me of when I finished uni, and didn’t touch a single story or draft for months. Writing it took a lot out of me and I don’t know why but I expected the redrafting to be easier.

Nope. Not a bloody chance.

Working on the second draft

So, after a few months off, I came back to the novel at the end of September. I printed the whole thing off and got to work when I could. Juggling this between work and social activities was hard, and if I’m totally honest, I slacked off a little at times.

What I’ve also realised is this story is a lot darker and heavier than I planned or expected. Reading through it and editing the thing has made me realise just how much it’s changed from it’s very first iteration back in 2008. It’s not a bad thing but it does mean I need to re-evaluate the trilogy’s plan.

The second draft is essentially done. I’ve made revisions throughout and written two new chapters. All that’s left is to transfer this into one new document and then I’ll take another month or two before going on to work on the third draft.

It’s not glamourous but it is necessary.

It took a lot out of me, I won’t lie. It’s heavy. Very heavy. There are much stronger themes than I ever planned originally. What was going to be a light-hearted story now isn’t. That’s not a bad thing, and I think it better reflects my writing style and the genre now. I was aware of the changes as I made them – they were planned in the first draft. Their full impact only hit me when I read it all back together.

The holes are being filled in, strands being tied together. That makes the hard work worth it but…it was damned hard. Now, in future drafts, I think it’ll get harder as it takes more effort and energy to spot and then correct issues.

Working on some shorts

While I’m doing that, I have three short stories I’ll be working on and editing. I’m hoping to send off at least two of them for submission somewhere early 2017. The third will probably make it onto the blog, and is the first of a trilogy of shorts that I’ll hopefully finish next year. I’m not sure how that’ll pan out but it’s something I’ve never done before so, personally, it’ll be interesting.

If no one else agrees, hopefully they’ll still be decent stories on their own!

Whether I submit to comps or find some magazines, I haven’t decided yet. I’ve not had much luck with the former in the last couple of years but I’ve never tried magazines or anthologies so maybe I’ll have more luck? Always worth a shot.

Playing a new game!

Noctis in FFXV

Noctis in FFXV

There’s no doubt in my mind that I’ll spend A LOT of time playing Final Fantasy XV. It’s exactly my kind of game: RPG, big open world, a good story, stunning visuals and much more.


I tried to tell myself I wouldn’t start until I had compiled the second draft of my novel – ha! That was never going to happen but due to that project and work, I only got a small amount of time on it. That’s already changed now I’m off for Christmas. It’s REALLY not disappointing me. I’ll do an in-depth look at it next month because, story-wise, it’s got a lot to offer and unlike past titles, it makes a lot more sense.

Weird, right?


So, next year. More blogging, more writing, more editing and, hopefully, submissions. I want to send the novel out next year. It’s a big ask as I’m not sure how many redrafts it’s going to need just yet. I can already tell the story is much better after the first round of edits and my readers have been fantastic. I’ll try to keep more regular updates coming despite the editing next year but I make no promises.

I’ll be going on at least one holiday, maybe two, as well. New sights and experiences! I’ll put them here too. I want to read more, keep swimming and manage my time even better than I do now.

Time is the biggest challenge I face and I want to make the most of it.

Until next year, have a great festive season wherever you are and whatever you do. Ciao!

It’s Competition Time!

Sorry, I don’t have a competition for you (who knows what’ll happen in the future) but I have found some you might want to think about entering. How nice am I? Not only that, but here are some other writing opportunities. If you have been following past blog posts or my Twitter and LinkedIn updates, you may recognise one or two but here they are all together. Will there be any more before the end of the year? Maybe and if I find any, I’ll let you know.

Definitely nice, yeah?

The Manchester Writing Competitions

Whether you’re a fiction, poetry or children’s writer, there’s a competition for you thanks to MMU’s Writing School. These are BIG competitions, guys. The fiction and poetry prizes have first prizes of £10,000! Thousands of submissions are entered to these competitions from around the world – bear this in mind if and when you enter.

Clean page

Fresh page for a new project? What to write next?

It’s not a bad thing not to make it, compared to the talent you’re up against but I never pass up a challenge. There is a cost but in terms of what you could win, it’s worth passing up another competition or two to really test yourself here.

More information on these competitions can be found here but just remember the deadline is the 29th August, so not long!

The Bridport Prize

Okay, so if the first one is a bit too close (and if you haven’t got anything or been planning on entering, it probably is) then maybe The Bridport Prize is a better shout. The 2014 competition is closed but entries for 2015 will be accepted from mid-November, roughly.

There are multiple categories for this competition too so don’t feel like you have to focus on stories or poems – flash fiction is an option here! If that’s your forte, brilliant but if not, you’ll be competing with me so watch out (note, that applies to short story writers – I’m no poet).

To find out more about The Bridport Prize, visit their website here.

Writers’ and Artists’ Short Story Competition

For any writer looking to get published (without self-publishing, that is) then the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook is a must have book – but this isn’t about the book, you probably know all about it, and if not you will soon enough, I’m sure.

The short story competition comes around once a year and the deadline is in February, so you have plenty of time. This year’s theme is joy and the quality is high. Looking to make your mark and prove how good you are? Then this is one for you.

You can find more details of this competition, with its theme of joy, here. Good luck!

Modern Dreams

I’ve mentioned this in a previous entry (the Writing Opportunity post) and this is something I’m still working on. It still sounds like a great opportunity and there’s plenty of time it seems so if this is the first you’re hearing about it then don’t worry – but now is the time to start!

For more, check out my previous blog post (link above) or visit their own blog here – or why not check both?!


Ah, NaNoWriMo. This stands for National Novel Writing Month and it takes place in November each year. The goal is to write a novel of at least 50,000 in the 30 days of this month. Does that sound tough? Well, it is!

I’ve attempted it five times in the last seven years. Only once have I completed it. Things get in the way and there are a number of ways people approach it, with the most popular being intensive writing days balanced with off days or spreading it out to about 2,000 words a day (the approach I take). Keeping on top of life and work as well can be difficult but it’s a great effort. Even to come away with the start of a novel and the desire to push on is a great achievement.

You can sign up to the NaNoWriMo website to track your progress, find places to meet with other writers and access useful resources or you can go it alone, whatever suits you!

Are you attempting any of these? Let me know, I’d be interested to hear of your approaches and ideas!