Friday, 17 February 2012

Blitz Research

Last year I started writing a pocket novel intended for My Weekly and set during The Blitz in London. I did quite a lot of research and wanted the period detail to be as authentic as possible. I wrote about 32,000 words (the finished novel has to be 50,000 words), then ground to a halt. Why? I couldn't find out any details about dressmaking in 1940. Why didn't I make it up and carry on? My perfectionist tendencies often block me as a writer, as I've said before. I feel I have to get it right first time (hence my problems with the first draft of my crime novel), then get frustrated when I don't. Anyway, I'm determined to finish the pocket novel in the next couple of weeks. I've dug out my books about The Blitz and hope to find something to inspire me enough to finish this particular work-in-progress.

I dropped lucky this week in that an email from Rugby Freecycle landed in my Inbox offering an eight volume set of World War 2 Magazines published in 1972. Of course, the year they were published is also the year in which my crime novel is set. It felt like this was meant to be. I arranged to go and pick up the magazines yesterday (the person who got in first didn't turn up to collect them, so another bit of serendipity!). There are some great photographs in the magazines and they were worth getting for these alone. I find that photographs can be great a starting point for a story or an idea. I still haven't found that nugget of information to inspire me to continue with the pocket novel (and still don't know much about dressmaking in 1940), but maybe I'll plough on regardless. Sometimes you can sweat it too much.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Trumpet Blowing!

I am thrilled to report that I won last week's Write-Invite competition with my story, The Fledgling. I've been entering these weekly competitions since last August and thoroughly enjoy the adrenalin rush of writing a complete story in under thirty minutes. I've been placed 2nd and 3rd a few times, but unfortunately there isn't a prize for runners-up, so to win the £50 first prize was a real boost, especially as the winner is chosen by fellow participants. The competition is quite tough, as there are some very talented writers entering each week and some well-known names in the womag fiction world.

I also came second in The Cazart Flash Fiction Competition with my story, The Lie, which you can read here. Unfortunately, there wasn't any prize money for the runners-up, which I was a little miffed about considering the entry fee was £5. It has taught me to look more carefully at writing competition entry fees and the prize money offered.

Enough trumpet blowing for now! It certainly pays to be persistent and to write every day. I entered eleven competitions in January with about 16 stories, so we'll see whether persistence has paid off this month. There aren't quite as many competitions to enter in February, but I have earmarked ten so far.

More good news in that I have found another print company (Antony Rowe) willing to publish the next issue of The Yellow Room Magazine. Issue 7 is currently with the typesetter, so should be available from the end of this month. I hope it's worth the wait!

Entries are slowly trickling in to The Yellow Room Short Story Competition. Don't forget to enter. The closing date is 31st March. Email entries only from now on.

The sun has just come out to melt the last of the snow, so it should be an enjoyable walk up to the school to collect my daughter today.

Oh, and remember I said I wasn't reading as much? I couldn't resist starting My Last Duchess by Daisy Goodwin at the weekend.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

'Sex Change' Author Wins Erotic Writing Prize

Judges of Xcite Books Escape to Erotica short story writing competition were shocked to discover their prize-winning female author was actually a man – top writer and editor of crime, mystery and erotic fiction Maxim Jakubowski.

Maxim, who reviewed crime fiction for the Guardian and was named in the Time Out top 30  best erotic London writers of all time, decided to enter the competition anonymously by using a female pseudonym.

His story, which told of a romantic liaison between a woman selling olive oil and a journalist at a Paris food fair, was written so sensitively and beautifully that judges were convinced it was penned by a woman.

On notifying the winner that she had won the top prize of a seven-night holiday for two to the Hedonism resort in Jamaica, they were surprised as Maxim revealed his true identity.

He said: ‘Writing can be a lonely and isolated business and I felt I wanted my work to be judged impartially, that’s why I entered under a pseudonym. I'm delighted to have won the Escape to Erotica story competition. Not only do I love Jamaica, but am gratified that a story that I submitted anonymously was judged on its own merits!’

Maxim Jakubowski is one of the country’s leading writers in the erotic genre. He has published nearly 100 books and his short stories have appeared in many anthologies and magazines published by Constable Robinson and Headline in the UK and Perseus and Akashic in America.  He has edited best-selling anthologies of British mystery stories and the Mammoth Books of Best New Erotica for Robinson, the Sex in the City series for Xcite Books and contributes to The Times, The Bookseller and The Evening Standard.

Judge and Xcite editor Antonia Adams, said: ‘There was only ever one winner in my opinion. It was so beautifully written and poignant, and it felt so real. It was a contemporary Brief Encounter. It really read like it had been written by a woman, so I was amazed to find out it was by Maxim Jakubowski.’

Maxim’s winning story will now take pride of place in Escape to Erotica, an ebook anthology of the five best stories entered in the competition, published by Xcite Books on Valentine’s Day, February 14 2012. The collection will also feature four stories from the runners-up which include new writers Ellie's Present from Charlie by LW, Swept Away by Demelza Hart, The Flight by Ian Perrott and Escape by Kitty Luscious.

Launched in November at the Erotica adult lifestyle festival at Olympia, in London, the Escape to Erotica competition was a joint venture between Xcite Books and the Erotica organisers. It invited new writers and previously published authors to unleash their creative inhibitions by writing a 3- 5,000 word story on the theme of escape.

Miranda Forbes, Editorial director of Xcite Books, said: ‘Our judges were very impressed by the diversity and quality of writing among the entrants. To be fooled by Maxim only proves what an excellent writer and deserving winner he is.

‘The competition has also uncovered new writing talent among our runners-up and hopefully this competition and the Escape to Erotica ebook will be a great showcase for their work.’
The four runners-up in the competition win a year’s supply of Xcite books.

For further information, interviews & review copies, please contact: Alison Stokes, Media and Publicity Manager, Xcite Books Ltd, Tel: 0207 858 1024 or email:


About Xcite Books

Launched in 2007, Xcite Books has become the UK’s leading publisher of erotic fiction for women. Its titles have achieved the Number One position in three erotic categories on Amazon. Xcite Books has won numerous awards including the ETO Best Erotic Book Brand and Jade Erotic Awards Erotic Publisher prizes for 2010 and 2011. It was also short-listed in the Bookseller Awards 2011. Earlier this year it launched the inaugural Xcite Awards to recognise companies and individuals working in erotic fiction. The winners will be announced on February 14 2012.