Monday, 29 June 2015

Awards for authors

A total f 85,500 was distributed to writers at the Society of Authors’ annual Authors' Awards, based in the UK.
Debut novelist Ben Fergusson took the £10,000 Betty Trask Prize, while Goldsmiths PhD student Zoe Pilger received two awards for her first book - a Somerset Maugham Award and a Betty Trask Award.
Ben Macintyre won the £5,000 Elizabeth Longford Prize for Historical Biography and non-fiction writers were also honoured in the Somerset Maugham Awards and Travelling Scholarships.
Maria C. McCarthy received £1,000 for her short story, More Katharine than Audrey.

Writers talk about writing

Writers Myra King (Cyber Rules), Mike Beck (Harry’s Torment) and Roger Barnes (White Gold, Lost Souls and the soon-to-be published Snow Birds), all of whom have been published through Inscribe Media, talk about their writing on the home page here at

Friday, 12 June 2015

Online sales grow

The biggest four online shopping markets in the world will double in size over the next three years as consumers buy increasing amounts of goods through the internet, according to The Telegraph newspaper.
Online sales in the UK, US, Germany and China will grow by £320bn between now and 2018, expanding the size of the online market to £645bn, according to research from OC&C Strategy Consultants, PayPal and Google.
Although the growth will be driven by smartphones, ebooks are in there, too, showing that their time is truly upon us.
You can read the full article at and check out our ebooks, from crime and thrillers to children’s comedy and short story anthologies, at

John Dean

Triggering a response

What makes good writing? I think good writing is good writing because it triggers responses in its readers. Readers say ‘I have been in that situation, ‘I know someone like that’, ‘what a terrible thing to be faced with’ etc etc.
If readers feel like that, it means that they are being drawn into the story. They stand next to your characters, they fear for what is about to happen, they simply must know what is on the next page.
If a reader does not really care what is happening in the story then you have lost them and your story has failed but if they feel part of it, they are experiencing the sheer power of the writer.
That’s a terrific thing to achieve - and the way to impress publishers and competition judges.

John Dean

Awards for Scottish writers

Scottish Book Trust has announced that applications for the New Writers Awards 2016 are now open, providing an opportunity for unpublished writers who live in Scotland to pursue their dream of becoming a published author.
The New Writers Awards are managed by Scottish Book Trust in association with Creative Scotland and each year they provide 11 unpublished writers with financial support to enable them to concentrate on developing their work, as well as professional guidance to help them move towards publication.
Each recipient will receive a £2000 cash award, as well as a tailored package including mentoring from writers and industry professionals, training in public relations, social media and performance and the opportunity to showcase their work to publishers and agents.
Applications for the New Writers Awards are open to Scotland-based writers who have not published a novel, short story or poetry collection and have a strong commitment to developing their writing. The deadline for applications is 5 August 2015 and the recipients will be announced in January 2016.
In order to provide the best possible support, the New Writers Awards are divided into three different categories. Writers may only apply for one category:
Fiction and Narrative Non-Fiction in English and Scots
Poetry in English and Scots
Children's and Young Adult Fiction in English and Scots
The two poetry awards will be run in association with the Scottish Poetry Library.
Jenny Niven, Head of Literature and Publishing at Creative Scotland, said: “The New Writers Awards are perhaps the single most transformational opportunity for writers at an early stage in their careers in Scotland and have played a pivotal role in the development of a huge amount of writing talent.”
This is the eighth year that Scottish Book Trust has managed the New Writers Awards and so far the process has proved hugely successful in terms of developing the careers of more than 60 writers. Confirmed 2015 publications by previous New Writer Awardees include Kirsty Logan, recipient of a 2009 award, whose novel The Gracekeepers was published by Harvill Secker in May, 2012 recipient Lucy Ribchester, who has signed a two book deal with Simon and Schuster, with her debut novel The Hourglass Factory published in January, 2010 recipient Wayne Price's novel Mercy Seat was also published in January and 2008 recipient Kirstin Innes' novel Fishnet was published by Freight in May.

Any writer over the age of 18 may apply as long as they fulfil the criteria. Information  can be found at

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Poetry prize launched

The National Literacy Trust has  just launched an exciting new Poetry Prize with Bloomsbury Publishing! Enter your poems and one of them could feature in a poster campaign across the country. There’s also an iPad and £250 of books up for grabs. All proceeds go to the work of the National Literacy Trust. Open now, closes 31 August 2015 with an announcement of the shortlist on 2 October, National Poetry Day.
More at

Open mic night

The Open Mic night for authors season continues on Thursday June 25, the last of the 2014/15 season.

The nights, supported by Darlington for Culture and which offer a forum for writers to read their material and audiences to enjoy it, run at Voodoo Café/Cantina, 84 Skinnergate, Darlington, North East England, on the last Thursday of the month. Each session starts at 7pm and the cost of entry is £3 paid on the door. They will resume in September.

More information is available from Inscribe Media Limited at

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Now there's an idea

I teach a lot on the subject of writers’ ideas and am fascinated about where they come from.
For some writers, stories always start with a place, somewhere that strikes them so forcibly that the story unfolds around them.
Other writers start with a character, someone so interesting, so intriguing that they can almost tell the story on their own.
Other writers begin with the story itself, an idea inspired by a newspaper snippet, something someone says, a sudden sense of what if?
Some write for additional reasons, to get a point over, to add to our knowledge of the world or to make us think about an issue in a different way.
Whatever your motivation - and there will be many others - one thing is certain: if it drives you to sit down in front of that computer or lift up that pen, its got to be worth writing about.

John Dean

Monday, 8 June 2015

Mentoring support

A reminder that, in addition to the various free things we do, one of the paid-for services we offer is one supporting writers.

Why should you hire a professional writing mentor, though? Isn’t it enough to attend a class/workshop or a writing group? Or ask a friend or relative to comment?

Well, it depends what you want and need and bespoke mentoring from Inscribe Media can help some writers, providing the experience and expertise to -

• understand your work

• nurture you and your writing

• let you retain control of your ideas and your writing

* provide expert, specific advice about what is working and what isn’t.

We focus on major issues, such as how your story hangs together, what your characters are doing or could be doing, what is hurting your story’s momentum, what story elements are not pulling their weight.

We identify the differences between good and great and point out your writing strengths, so you become confident about what not to change.

We also give suggestions and help you establish good processes and writing goals and suggest markets for your work.

If long-term mentoring does not appeal, we run short writing courses as well.

You can find out more at

You can also access our free downloadable writing guide at,uk and find loads of free tips on our blog here.

John Dean

Tips on crime writing

Following the news that we are to run an online crime fiction course (details on the home page) I thought it would be useful to look at how to write a good crime story:

* The story should be strong and one that can be told in a short story (most crime stories are novels)

* Create a strong sense of place - the reader must be able to visualise where the action happens

* Create strong characters - do not stray into cliché, make our investigators real people. Your hero must not be perfect, he or she must be flawed but be careful about writing in too many flaws

* If you create a sidekick, make sure they have a job to do - passing on information, allowing your main character to react so we learn more about them etc

* Make the villain real not some clichéd villain from the movies. The best thing is for them to have appeared earlier in the story so the reader knows them. Give them a good reason to commit the crime - secrets, secrets, always secrets

* Grab the reader from the start. Here is an extract from an interview with the author Nick Brownlee explaining how to do it:
Q The opening scene of Bait features a character being gutted alive on a fishing boat. Was it always in your mind to start the book with such a gory scene?

A I have been a journalist for the best part of 20 years, much of that time writing stories for tabloid newspapers. The first lesson you are taught is that you must grab the reader’s attention with the very first paragraph, because by the third they will have lost interest in the story. It’s the same with commercial fiction – especially if you are an unknown author. In order to get published, Bait had to leap out of an agent’s slush pile and then make a publisher look twice. I needed an opening that would catch the eye. Hopefully it will have the same effect on the casual reader.”

* Even with a short story, it is worth mapping out a synopsis because crime stories are be definition complicated and you need to get it right
* Keep the story moving - nothing holds a reader better than tension creates as the pace develops. Keep it driving on relentlessly

* Think about your ending - surprise the reader, have some drama, a chase, a fight, a killing, a dramatic revelation

* Feel free to makes us think - maybe you want to cast light on human nature, or perhaps a problem in society, Do not preach but feel free to let that idea come through in your story

John Dean