I recently had some rather nice writing news. Last year I decided to devote some time to writing short stories, with the idea that I would submit one per month to anthologies and/or competitions. I figured that, even if I didn’t get anywhere, I’d still end up with a nice collection of short stories, as well as flexing my writing muscles in a slightly different way.
Well, I managed to win second place in the Writing Magazine Modern Fairytale Competition, complete with cash prize and publication on their website! To read my story, Water and Bones, click here. I even got a nice critique from the judges, which made me very happy. (and btw, if you do head over, I recommend reading the winning story as well – it’s excellent). It’s small victories like this, or a good review or a note from a happy reader, that make writing, with all its hair-tearing, plot-twisting and rejection, worthwhile.
Writing short stories has been a good exercise for me. When I write I tend to get quite wordy – I’m forever editing word count down, rather than up. So restricting myself to a much smaller number of words to tell a story meant that I challenged myself to write leaner, to cut out any and every extraneous bit of plot, and think of the most succinct ways to convey my point.
As for my other entries, I came second in one of Esther Newton’s writing competitions, and was shortlisted for another. I also managed to get a further two pieces accepted for an anthology. And I have a few more stories that will, with some more refining, be ready to send out into the marketplace again. Or maybe I’ll just publish them myself!
Happy weekend, everyone 🙂
If you enjoyed this post and want to read more, you can find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJ, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus my latest book release, A Thousand Rooms, is now available on Amazon.
Excellent story and great feedback Helen – Well Done 👍😃
Thanks so much, Chris! Yes, the feedback was a really nice bonus – you know how hard it is to get that sort of thing 🙂
Congratulations, that’s great news, and well deserved!
Thanks so much, Ali – I was pretty thrilled! 🙂 xx
Oh, and I LOVED the story, so beautiful and sad!
Thanks so much, Ali – so pleased you liked it 🙂 xx
Its fab! I love it… a bit of magical realism is the best kind of fantasy. 😊
Thanks, Ali – I love that type of fantasy too – makes me think it could really be possible, magic just around the corner 🙂
It is Helen… we just have to open our eye… our third eye. Not easy to do. 😊
So true, Ali, in all respects 🙂
We’ll done. I should probably stick my head above the parapet. But keep on going
Thanks Geoff! I know what you mean about sticking your head above the parapet 😀 It can go either way, can’t it? Hope you keep on going too x
How encouraging! Congrats and Cheers!
Thanks so much! And you’re absolutely right, it was very encouraging 🙂
Congratulations! Heading over there now to check it out.
Thanks Angelika! It was a really nice letter to get, that’s for sure 🙂
… collections of short stories are great for on-the-go readers (commuters, etc) … if you market them that way, they might just sell like hotcakes. 🙂
Thank you! For the good wishes and the food for thought… 🙂 xx
Congratulations! That’s brilliant news, Helen 🙂
Thanks so much Sue – I’m very pleased 🙂
I’ll bet..I would be too 🙂
Thanks, Craig 🙂
I enjoyed your short, and look forward to reading your book. I just recently started working on short stories, and plan to submit them piecemeal – similar to the plan you outlined. The first, Taking Out the Tree, is on my blog. Have great weekend!
Thanks so much, James – really pleased you enjoyed the story! I’ll head on over and take a look at yours, too 😀 Wishing you a great weekend.
Well done, Helen! Huge congratulations my dear! Cher xo
Thanks so much, Cher, I’m really thrilled! Xx
Ah, bless! As you should be, Helen! You are an extremely talented writer! Cher xo
Thanks so much Cher, so nice of you to say xx
Congratulations Helen, what a fantastic achievement. Now off to read your story. 🙂
Thanks so much, Miriam!
Helen, I’ve just finished reading, and what a captivating story. Truly it left me with goosebumps, you really did deserve this recognition. What talent you have. I loved it. 🐬
Thank you so much, Miriam, that’s so lovely of you to say 😀 I’m so very pleased you enjoyed it. Also, though I don’t specifically state it, I was thinking of Melbourne when I wrote it…
Really? Melbourne? How awesome. I really did enjoy it Helen, you drew me in from the very beginning.
Thank you so much! And yes, I was thinking of St Kilda as it was when I first came to Melbourne twenty years ago 🙂
Oh wow, happy memories I hope. 😊
Oh yes, nothing like my poor mermaid 🙂
Glad to hear that.
Congratulations, Helen! I’m off to go read your story now 🙂
Thanks so much, Claire! Much appreciated 😀
Congrats Helen! I wish I was more wordy in my fiction.
Thanks, Kristin! And you’re pretty wordy from what I remember… 😀
Thai you! 😀
Well done, Helen!
Thanks so much, Mick!
Oh, Helen, I’m so chuffed for you! A fantastic achievement. I’ve been a subscriber to WM for years, entered so many of their comps I’ve lost count. Don’t call this achievement small – they have very high standards and receive a lot of entries.
When I finally won one of their comps last year, it was probably the biggest vindication of my writing so far, the moment I really thought ‘wow, I can do this!’
Not that you need the vindication, being such an accomplished writer.
Very well done. i’m off to read the story now 🙂
I saw your story on the site and read it when I entered this comp! And I was quite in awe of you for winning. It was a great story, too – loved the modern take on Mrs Rochester’s nurse (hope I’m remembering that right). And I really appreciate your kind words, I was quite thrilled by placing as I do think Writing Magazine is one of the tough ones, so I was amazed when I got the letter. Now I’m inspired to enter some more 😀
Ah, thank you and thanks for reading the story – I was astonished to win, truly astonished. Short story comps are a great motivator – themes and deadlines are great for inspiration. Good luck with all your future comps
Thanks so much, Lynn, and the same to you 🙂
Thanks Helen 🙂
And thanks for your lovely words about my writing, too. I agree, it felt like a vindication to me, too. Very nice when rejection is usually the norm 😀
My absolute pleasure. Ha, yes, rejection is so usually the norm, you have to cherish those glimmers of golden success when they come 🙂
Thanks, Lynn 🙂
That’s so beautiful, Helen. The comments are right – real and hard and nasty but lyrical at the same time. A wonderful twist on a traditional tale. Really loved it. Worthy of winning indeed 🙂
Thanks so much, Lynn – really pleased you enjoyed it. I liked the comments too, and so nice to get feedback as part of the prize 😀
Yes, you’re right. So rare in any competition. And your comments were desrvedly glowing. A spellbinding story
Thanks, Lynn – and sorry for my delayed replies – some of my comments went AWOL this week!
No worries. I’m surprised you have time to run the blog at all, with writing and working and a family! A tought juggle 🙂
Ah thanks Lynn – I’m not so badly off, plenty of other people manage haha! Thanks for understanding though xx
You have to love this writing lark to keep going when there are so many other things to juggle. But then, we do love it, don’t we? I read a quote from Long Firm author Jake Arnott today saying that from the ouside, writing seems the most boring job in the world, locking yourself in an office, sitting at a screen all day. But that’s not where our heads are, is it? We’re being terrified by ghosts or zombies or overlooking alien cities, walking in the shoes of murderers and heroes. I don’t understand anyone who doesn’t want to be an author 🙂
Oh, it’s the best thing in the world, isn’t it? Inhabiting all the different realms and characters and bringing them to life – I’m grateful every day to have such a wonderful creative outlet 🙂
Well done, Helen! Massive congratulations 🙂
Thanks, Jane! 😊
And I enjoyed your story too 🙂
Thanks so much, Jane. I’m really glad you liked it, and it’s getting such a good response. 😊
That’s because it’s a good story 🙂
😊 thank you x
Great news, Helen. Well done
Thanks, Graeme – I’m very pleased 😀
Thanks, Traci! 😊
Congratulations! 🙂 That’s wonderful! (And to get feedback…priceless.)
Really do like that ending, Helen. Well done.
Thanks, Sarah xx
Oh, the feedback was the best! So hard to come by. I mean, they sent me a cheque, too, but the feedback was an awesome prize in itself 🙂
Okay, money is always nice to receive for your writing. 🙂 But, you’re right, great feedback is hard to come by (especially if it’s helpful to you – that’s fantastic).
Thanks, Sarah 🙂
Thanks, Steve 😊
Congratulations, Helen. I’m doing the same challenge and entering at least one short story competition every month this year. I’ve already got two under my belt and am working on number three. Even if we don’t win or get placed anywhere, they are still a great way to improve our writing.
Thanks, Hugh 🙂 And good luck with your stories, too – as you say, even if they don’t get anywhere, we end up with a nice collection of short stories to publish!
Well done, Helen! 🌹🍾 I finally got around to reading your story, and i loved it! 💕
Thanks so much – that’s lovely! Hope you’re well 🙂
Pingback: Writing Links in the 3s and 6…2/6/17 – Where Genres Collide
Thanks for sharing, Traci!
Wow! Congratulations! I’m a subscriber as many on here probably are. I’ve never submitted anything anywhere as yet, long way to go before I take the plunge ha ha. I read it a while back and also the winning story, both were fantastic! Well done and what a coincidence to stumble across your blog. :))
Thanks so much! I was so thrilled to be runner up, and to get so much lovely feedback on the story too. Thanks for reading and I’m glad you stumbled across my blog too 🙂
You’re welcome. Can’t wait to read more of your blog when I have a little more time and congratulations again! 🙂
Thanks so much – I’ll be doing the same over at your blog too 🙂
I would appreciate that very much! Thank you 🙂
You’re welcome 🙂
I think I might enter something in writing magazine’s first line story. It’s about time I started to. Wish me luck lol 🙂
Good luck indeed! Hope it goes really well. I know I’ll be entering a few more comps – just need to do some more writing now 😀
Good luck with them and happy writing. I think I’ve a long way to go to come anywhere close but it’s fun writing so I’ll continue and give it a go. :))
Hey… ‘The Little Mermaid’? It’s going to take more than fairy dust to sort this lot out…
Oh yes. A different kind of dust altogether, sadly…
It is sad…
Very much so…
Congrats, Helen. What a great idea to focus on short stories for a while. And they’re never wasted as they can show up in all kinds of different places. I’m an overwriter too, and I agree that short stories are great for honing our craft. I’m heading over to read your story 🙂
Thanks so much, Diana! And it’s nice to meet another overwriter 🙂 I’m enjoying the short story challenge, definitely – hopefully I’ll be able to keep it going.
Thanks so much! 🙂