And we have a winner!

Important announcement, folks. I won the Summer Writing Project 2017! That means Last One to the Bridge is going to be published!

I could not believe it when I received the email letting me know I had won. I’ll be honest – I expected at any moment to get another saying they had made a mistake, or that they had changed their minds. How could I have possibly won? I had been up against some stiff competition and some outstanding stories.

And yet a contract was signed, and Last One to the Bridge is with my editor. I still can’t get over the fact that I have an editor!

I will keep you updated as thing progress. Hopefully I will be able to announce a release date soon.

I’d like to take a moment to thank everyone who supported me. I would never have  made it as a finalist, let alone a winner without the help of those who read, voted and kept me focused, offering feedback and advice.

When I announced the results on Facebook within 10 minutes I had more than 20 people congratulate me and wish me well. I was moved to tears. So thank you. I appreciate it more than you will ever know.

I’d also like to thank my friends and family, in partcular my husband (who must be sick of me talking about LOttB by now), my parents, and my sister.

You guys are the best.

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Three years later…

 

Three years ago I initiated what I dubbed my ‘creative summer’, and I entered as many writing contests as I could (including the SWP) and wrote as many short stories as I could (something I had never done before). I learned so much I decided this was not just a summer thing and pledged to treat writing as a career and to do all I could to grow as a writer.

It has been a rough road, but I have improved in leaps and bounds – recently I won the Colin Sutton Cup for Humour with a blurb and first hundred words from my latest WiP (working title Hex Files) about a faerie P.I. However, it was not enough. I knew I could do more. So I applied to the local university.

I honestly didn’t think I would be accepted. I never finished college and didn’t have much of a portfolio, but I was delighted to receive an unconditional offer of acceptance. The course I will be taking is English literature with a foundation year. As it has been more than a decade since I was in education, I felt I needed that foundation year to help me adjust. However, I am free after that foundation year to switch subjects or even try for a combined subject. I hope to get a portfolio of work together and apply to the English Literature and Creative Writing program. I have got a year to apply what I have learned and get my butt in gear. No pressure.

As you can see, a lot has happened in the last three years. Even still, I am still determined to improve further, starting with being more active on blog writing. Starting a brand new adventure as a mature student seems like the perfect opportunity. With this in mind, I intend to keep a regular blog detailing my experience as a mature student, offering the perspective not just of somebody older, but also what it is like to balance study needs, home needs, and the needs of a young child with autism. I also intend to get back into creating reviews for novels, novellas, serials… everything and anything.

More details will follow soon. Wish me luck!

My Experience of the SWP 2017

I’ve been entering the Summer Writing Program (SWP) for about three years now. I usually make several blog posts in the run up, but this year I didn’t get a chance until now.

This summer has been hectic (although that would be putting it mildly). It’s tough enough keeping a pre-school age child occupied for two months, it’s harder still when that child is autistic. So yeah… busy, busy.

So while I did somehow find the time to enter the competition this year, every spare second counted so I didn’t get a chance to make an announcement like I usually do before I enter or any posts during, so I’ve done one now on my experience.

My project this year was a sci-fi horror titled Last One to the Bridge.

How did I do?

LOttB actually did really well in the SWP. I was in first place right up until the last few days when I was finally overtaken. In fact I was overtaken literally overnight.

This was at 9:42PM on the 28th – just 3 days before the end of the contest.

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This is 9:30am the next morning:

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As you can see, it got CRAZY at the last second.

I woke up this morning to this:

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In terms of raw votes, I came third place. That doesn’t necessarily mean I didn’t win, nor does it mean those ahead of me will. In order to win the contest you need to have the most readers who follow your story from start to finish, so votes aren’t everything. For all we know, one of the authors behind us might be crowned. Results are announced on the 5th September, so we’ll have to see.

It is a little disappointing to slip so far in the last few seconds but I am amazed at how well LOttB did. Almost 800 votes is incredible, especially for a story with only 18 chapters. That works out to potentially 42 readers which in just two months is fantastic. It’s probably the best I have ever done in the SWP.

The SWP has been a big learning experience this year and I’ve definitely become a better writer for it.

More details about Last One to the Bridge

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Blurb:

My name is Reva Mallick. I was in a pod. I just woke up. Something is on the ship – it killed the crew. I need help.

My only hope is Adam, a fellow survivor trapped on the bridge. With only his voice as my guide, I must travel through the ship to reach him. It won’t be easy. I don’t know anything about space travel – I’m a horticulturist, not an astronaut.  The thing that killed the crew is at my heels, hunting me down. I don’t know if I’ll survive, but I won’t go down without a fight.

The story is inspired in part by an old short story I found while digging through my old writing files. It was an unfinished story where I had only written an intro paragraph and the end. I jotted some notes down about it but didn’t do much with it after, unsure of where to go with it but knowing I’d like to give it a whirl at a later date.

A few weeks go by, my husband and I are chatting and he tells me he’s never seen Ridley Scott’s Alien. Crazy, right? So we pop it in the DVD player and watch it. As we’re munching on popcorn, watching Ripley creep around the Nostromo, desperately trying to outwit the deadly Xenomorph, an idea strikes me. What if Ripley hadn’t known how to work the escape pod? She was the warrant officer, not a pilot – what if her skills had been limited? I imagined her bumbling at the controls trying to figure out how to launch the damn thing while the self destruct sequence ticked down and the Xenomorph slowly uncurled from its hiding place…

Later that evening as I finished reading Andy Weir’s The Martian I wondered what would happen if Mark Watney hadn’t been a botanist? What if he’d been a geologist? Would either of them have survived? How different would the story have been? It was that moment that ‘Last One to the Bridge’ was officially born.

As you can probably gather from the blurb, the story follows Reva, a member of the terraforming crew. She has a variety of degrees including horticulture, botany and agononomy. As you can imagine, none of that helps much when you wake up on a ship in deep space. Reva doesn’t even know how to work the doors.

Ultimately LOttB is an exploration into human survival – how far can you get on the will to survive alone?

 

All-in-all I had a great time in the SWP. I feel like I’ve grown as a writer and learned to keep working towards a deadline even when life seems to conspire against you. I’m glad I was able to take part this year. Not only that but there have been some stunning stories on offer – my two favourites being Andre Clemons’ Enheduanna and Tonya Moore’s What the Bones Say.

So that was my experience this year. Did anyone else enter? What was you experience? What did you learn? Leave me a comment!