Writers’ Writing Competition: Grand Winners

After much delay and some serious navel gazing, I am pleased to present the grand final tally of winners.

Editor’s picks

These are a series of winners picked out by me for special attention. With so many awesome entries it was not always possible to award a prize to all the posts that deserved it. This is my last opportunity to make up for that and dish up some more prizes.

Editor’s pick for a really good entry that didn’t win but should have done

This is a section that I have been thinking about since week one. There are so many entries that I wished I could award a prize but, for one reason or another, I did not. Of all the competition participants there was one who got the short end of the stick.

Of all the competition participants there was one who got the short end of the stick. As a member of our board of trustees, this entrant was often tied for the first place and to avoid any appearance of favouritism I let slip back to second place. She was the only writer to only win one prize. Even so, she never once made a fuss and was a good sport about it.

Thus I want to honour Laura with this special editor’s pick prize both of being a good sport and for writing a post that should have taken a prize.

Why do I write in my genre, by L. L.. Winder is a fantastic reflection on the drive to write and why we write what we write.

As I said in the “best post” section of the winner’s post for that week, every single post was a contender. Laura’s just happens to be the one I singled out for some overdue praise.

Editor’s pick for a post that made me laugh out loud

We asked “What stops you writing” and Artimis Blake wrote the following:

I’ll finish this later….

That made me actually laugh out loud. Imaginary high-five my friend, imaginary high-five.

My pick for a post that packed an emotional punch

There is one post that sticks in my memory, even now. It took the subject of time travel (one of my all-time favourite topics) and made it into one of the most emotionally memorable short stories I have read in a while.

Stories from the edge had this post: If I had a time machine. I swear you’d wish it as hard as the character does.

After the deadline: A post made after the deadline but before the grand finish.

This prize is for getting things finished even when the main thrust of the competition was already past. It is awarded to encourage that dedication to writing where better late than never is the rule of the day. A rule I live by.

This prize goes to L. L. Winder (BraidySpice) for her reflection on Plotting vs Pantsing.

Editor’s pick for most ambitious blog

Most folks were content to set up on a  free platform like WordPress or Blogger. But one entrant set up a custom WordPress on a custom domain name. Despite having never done anything like that before and after a few false starts, Ben J deserves some serious love and respect for not only sticking with it tot he end but doing so on a brand new and unfamiliar platform.

Not only is this likely to become the most useful of all foundations for an author platform, it contains some really good writing. For example, with no bias at all, this post on what he loves most about Thanet Creative Writers. Like many of his posts, Ben has found the most interesting ways to subvert the prompt.

Editor’s pick for a blog that carried on after the competition

The Kentish Rambler carried right on blogging (as did some of you others). The Kentish rambler caught my eye for simply having the most amazing and pretty pictures.

Pretty pictures count for a lot.

Take a look at April Ramblings.

Reddit Grand Vote

The initial plan for the big finish was to use Reddit as a quick and easy source of both traffic and a voting booth. It turns out that Reddit is deeply unpopular which I was not expecting. Nevertheless, you guys rallied on anyway and so I am going to award prizes here anyway. Not the original prizes but good ones nevertheless.

The sticking with it regardless prize

This prize recognises the willingness of the writers who took part to jump through some strange hoops and do it all anyway.

It is shared Jointly by Neil and Jess who posted a lot of their stuff the Reddit vote. Because the Reddit vote turned out to be something akin to last week’s zoo leavings, and all votes were about the same, I have randomly picked two good posts to make the “winners”.

Take a bow you two hard working writers. You deserve it.

The Grand Winner

In the grand tradition of Time magazine, the winner of the competition is you.

We are all the richer for the great writing that has been put forward during this competition and everyone who took part is a step closer to building an author platform.

Well done, you.

Time youcover01.jpg
By Source, Fair use, Link

What are your picks?

Which posts would you pick as the winners? Tell us in the comments.

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Platform building starter prompts

Earlier this year we had a little competition. Twelve weeks, twelve prompts. While we are still making a new plan regarding picking the final winners the topic of “what were the prompts?” has been asked in our Facebook group.

While we are still making a new plan regarding picking the final winners the topic of “what were the prompts?” has been asked in our Facebook group. That got me thinking that 12 prompts to kickstart your platform might be a good topic to post about.

So here they are.

12 prompts to kickstart your platform

What other prompts would you add?

Hmm, we need a new idea

I am not always the fastest when it comes to realising something just in not working. I’m more of the “must try harder” school of thought.

That said, I can see that my big idea for the grand finish is not being run up too many flag poles for a salute.

I figured combining Reddit (which can be great for traffic) with the final vote was the best option. Reddit, I reasoned, allows anyone to sign up. We can all post our stuff and all vote for a winner.

Like I say from time to time:

I’m moving to theory. Everything works there.

Reddit, for all I think it is great for platform building is not a place you guys seem happy to play.

Maybe, if I had been paying a bit more attention, I might have figured this out sooner.

I am at a bit of a loss as to what to suggest for the final vote. There was so much great content written during the contest that it seems a shame not to have a vote for a winner.

The floor is open. Who would like to take the mic and make a suggestion?

Where are the winners, Matt?

You may well be asking, “where are the winners, Matt?” and with good reason. This is not the post you are looking for.

Back towards the start of this week, I promised to announce the winners for the last week of the writing competition. I have been reading your posts but as for trying o work out winners, well, I might have been more than usually distracted.

Sort of a lot going on

For starters, I have been thinking about non-linear storytelling. When I say “thinking about” I mean seriously working stuff out and pushing the boundaries of what is possible. In essence, I am writing a computer game that requires you to have free-form conversations with characters. That’s a lot of specialist AI. I should really give that a rest for a few days.

Also, a certain person lent me Shaman’s Crossing by Robin Hobb. If you thought Netflix ate up a lot of my time, that is nothing compared to what a good book can do. Blame Simon, for that one.

Also, and this is quite important, the Trustees of our charity voted last month to hold a summer BBQ and social for all writers, poets, readers, and arty types and people who like to hang out with writers, poets, and… You get the picture.

We’ve been working hard to make sure this is a great event. It turns out that it takes a lot more work than slapping up an event and hoping for the best. I’m quite excited about the BBQ now.

The BBQ is taking place on the 22nd of July and you are all invited.

At the same time, I have also been working on Author Buzz and getting things ready to start promoting it hard. If you have any of the following you should sign up (it is free and easy to do) and use your profile (and/or the directory) to let the world know about your thing:

  • A blog or website in any way related to writing (for example, your own).
  • A book coming out (or already out).
  • A club or group for readers or writers.
  • A regular literary event.
  • A bookshop. Bookshops are great.
  • An agency for writers.
  • Anything else writers or readers might find interesting.

A new plan

So my new plan is to use the time slot normally reserved for announcing the next contest (there are no more to announce) to announce the last winners that I pick. This gives you one more week to post your links to Reddit and vote for your favourite entry. Some of you should have 12 links to share.

I hope the small pause is not too disappointing and I promise the wait will be worth it.

The Final Contest: The Big Vote

Well, we are finally here. You have written, comments, and voted you way through twelve weeks of platform building themes designed to prompt you into establishing your authorial platform. Well done.

This week instead of writing an entry you will be picking a winner. Of course, I will be reading the last entries and picking winners. This last batch of winners will include three editor picks that did not win in their week but deserve a conceptual prize anyway.

chimpanzee_seated_at_typewriterThat (image to your right) is an artists impression of me trying to figure out which amazing post deserves to be a winner.

Before I get to giving you the details for the big vote, a few words about building on what you have created.

How to make the most of it

Over the last twelve weeks, you have written drawn an audience. Some blogs take months to get to that level of audience. Some of you seem to have a full year’s worth of audience building under your belt in just three months. That is very impressive and you should make the most of it.

For example, this blog took two months before anyone besides me even properly recognised its existence. We launched last year to no fan fair at all and came up the hard way. For those of you that took part in even some of the contest, you have a head start. A huge head start.

Make the most of it – keep writing posts. Build that platform and when your first book comes out enjoy being able to tell loyal readers all about it.

If you prefer to write to prompts we have two entire categories of prompts, which I try to put something out for each week.

  1. The Platform Builder Prompt
  2. The weekly story prompt

There might not be a winner announced each week for these but the prize was always the thing that you created not what I gave out.

You may also want to consider making a platform at Author Buzz UK. It is a website that I am helping to build (based on WordPress) specifically for authors to build a presence. It is based on a lot of the platform building theory that I have been talking about here. The forums will be a good place to chat with fellow writers once we start to pick up steam.

Whatever you do, keep writing. Make amazing art.

The big vote

The big vote has two parts to it.

  1. Sharing as many of your entries as you can
  2. Voting on the entries that have been shared

The big vote takes place at /r/ThanetWinners2017 and will run until at least one items gets a solid lead or we all get fed up with waiting. The deadline is, erm, sometime randomly decided after Monday the 5th of June so share soon, vote often and may the best post win.

Getting your fans to go vote for you is allowed. Anyone can vote for the grand winner. Anyone at all.

Also, any theme that you wrote for outside of the deadline time can be entered. So if you missed a week, you still get a chance to shine.

Best of luck to you all. You wonderful writers, you.

Week 11: Winners

Eleven down, one to go. The second to last batch of winners is about to be announced.

Quite indulgently we asked you to write about what you loved most about Thanet Creative Writers. If I am honest, the thought “how can I ask people to blog about us” was how I ended up with “wouldn’t it be cool if we had a 12-week writing competition”. And the rest, as they say, was history.

Honourable mentions

Before we carry on, I’d like to give an honourable mention to Author Buzz. While not part of the competition there is a good post on that site all about us at Thanet Creative Writers. I know because I wrote it. Now on to the important folks – you wonderful writers.

Likewise, I’d like to shout out to L. L. Winder. Who might like to add Wedding anniversaries to the list of things that stop her writing. Congratulations guys. I wish you many more years of happiness together.

Top Three Posts.

In no particular order of sexiness, here are the three front runners for this week. Of course, that could be because there only were three entries that I found but even so…

I hope each and every one of those posts finds their way to /r/ThanetWinners2017 for the big vote off at the end of next week. (Hint, go and post them there you amazing writers)

Talking about the big vote off, if you still want to write for a theme that has passed you have one last chance to win by entering it into the big vote off. Just saying…

Winner of the best post

Here we are once again. Three great posts and I have to pick just one. Honestly, this is so hard. This section of the post has been blank for an hour now.

In the end, I had to pick one and it was the one I realised that I had liked so much that I had left a comment saying how easy it was to read.

This week’s winner, by a nose, is: It’s in the small print by Jess Joy.

Winner of the best comment

For sheer novelty value, I am going to award Benj the best comment award.

On the Night of the Hats post, his comment was not only interesting but in verse. That’s gotta count for something, right. Anyway, I liked it and so I am awarding the prize to Benj.

Winner of the most votes

As this week, the Reddit vote was a dead heat between our best post winner (Jess) and Niel, I think it is fair to award the people’s choice award to Night of the Hats, Thanet Love.

Closing thoughts

This week coming up is the last of the 12 themes. I challenge you all to write your best ever entry. Consider the gauntlet thrown down.

Over to you…

Plotting or Pantsing: What is best for me?

And so we come to the last theme of our competition. One last hurrah and then the big vote off. Back when I was thinking up this idea I thought that ending on a reflection about if planning or discovery writing was best was a great idea for platform building. You guys have taken things in an interesting direction and I have no idea what you will do with this one.

Competition Theme

This is the theme for this week. Closing date to have posted it online is midnight on Monday the 29th.

Plotting or Pantsing:
What is best for me?

You can write anything you want that fits that theme. As little or as much as you feel you need to. If you are new to this and joining us late welcome, thank you for joining us, please see week one’s post and the FAQ if you need more information.

Pantsing, for those that don’t know, is where you make up the story as you go and “fly by the seat of your pants”. The opposite is plotting, where you plan the plot out in advance. I used to be a pantser but I am more of a plotter these days.

How to win

There will still be a “best post” and “best comment” but as you might have realised by now, we no longer have a “most comments”. Instead, there will be a “most votes on Reddit” section. This week, and going forward for the last few weeks, the Reddit section will be a special one created for the competition. This is also where the grand, overall, winner will be chosen by you.

Sometime after this post goes live I will be picking out winners. I hope you guys have written something great for me to read (I’ve seen some of them so I know that you have).

The thing I love most about Thanet Creative Writers

This is, if I am honest, the one I have been looking forward to the most. Finding out what about Thanet creative writers (the blog, the group, or the charity) that resonates best with you guys.

Competition Theme

This is the theme for this week. Closing date to have posted it online is midnight on Monday the 22nd.

The thing I love most about
Thanet Creative Writers

You can write anything you want that fits that theme. As little or as much as you feel you need to. If you are new to this and joining us late welcome, thank you for joining us, please see week one’s post and the FAQ if you need more information.

I am particularly interested to see if the fiction writers can turn this into a fiction prompt or if you will write a more tranditional blog post. This posts image was actully taken during a Tea and Chat meeting. You can use it for your post if you want.

How to win

There will still be a “best post” and “best comment” but as you might have realised by now, we no longer have a “most comments”. Instead, there will be a “most votes on Reddit” section. This week, and going forward for the last few weeks, the Reddit section will be a special one created for the competition. This is also where the grand, overall, winner will be chosen by you.

Week 9 and 10 Winners

Here it is, a bit late but nevertheless here all the same. Two sets of winners.

Week 9: My Favourite book

The theme of Week 9 was My Favourite Book Ever. The thinking behind this theme from a platform building perspective was that telling readers about the writers that influenced you would help you connect with readers who like the same writers that you do.

There are only two winners for this week. This is because exactly zero people managed to get a link for it posted in the Reddit. An easy win missed by one and all. I am a titchy bit worried that I might have confused you with the change of direction mid-contest. If I’ve not been clear you will say so with a comment, right?

There was just one link in the Reddit but for a blog rather than a blog post. So, erm, no. I’m not going to count it.

Also, the lower than expected number of pings for this week had me checking all the blogs in the Directory, just in case I had missed one.

Week 9: Best Post

Although there were fewer entries for this week, the one that really got to me was Tiger by Jess Joy. It was a story that hits you right in the feels and at the same time points to a well-loved book too. By doing both Jess wins the crown for best post.

Week 9: Best Comment

There were some amazing comments to be found on each of the blogs that entered the week 9 competition. I was almost tempted to award the prize to a non-competitor. I have to say, you guys have some amazing readers. Well done.

After much deliberation, I was left with two comments and could not pick which one would be the winner. In the end, I picked Jess Joy’s comment so I could link to another deserving blog. Click through and give the post the comment is for a read. You will not regret it.

Week 10: What mistake do I make most with writing?

This theme, mistakes with writing, was designed originally as an introspective. Sometimes being honest with your readers about your weaknesses can be a good thing. As a platform builder, that vulnerability could act as a catalyst for connection.

As always you took the theme and turned it into a reading extravaganza that went places I could never have imagined when I suggested this contest.

After the original deadline, I even had a go with the theme on my new writing blog. Don’t worry, it would not be fair for me to even consider including it as an entry. I’m the judge for this after all.

As I noted for week 9, there are only two winners for this week too.

Week 10: Best Post

I have a confession. Stroking my ego works. I love getting mentioned. But this is not why this week’s winner was a winner. I loved the use of dramatic irony to also call back to all the other posts as a meta-index of entries. Brilliant. AUTHORity takes the crown in week 10.

Week 10: Best comment

Picking a “best” comment this for week 10 was even harder than week 9. I finally settled on this comment by Kentish Rambler. Not only was the comment on a post that deserved a mention (it is just as good as the winner) but it really typified a good comment.

Final thoughts

I think we all noticed how badly I have been lagging of late. In fact, last week there was no winner post nor a new theme. That’s my bad and I am sorry.

The new theme will be live on Tuesday in the normal slot. I needed to give myself a clear week off (to catch up). Hopefully, we are back on track with two weeks left to go. I hope, even if you do not write anymore or even if you join us late and only write for the last few themes, that you will come back and vote for a grand winner.

I was a bit disappointed that BradySpice aka L. L. Winder did not enter either of these competitions themes. I noticed recently that I have yet to award her a victory and she most certainly deserves one. There are only two left. So, please, hon, come back and write some more.

The fact is that without exception your posts have all be amazing and worthy of a prize. It was delightfully hard choosing a winner each week.

Well done to everyone who has kept up. At least 50% of the secret of writing is to just keep writing things down. Talking of which someone was so keen to get on with it that they have already written next week’s entry. Now that is commitment.

Competition thoughts

There should have been a new entry for this week. I know it is late. There should have been one (or is it two) sets of winners announced this week too.

I’m going to get to that in just a moment. Before I do, would you mind if I rambled on about what I have been so caught up in this last few weeks?

Brilliant, thank you.

A few weeks ago I started working on a new article. One of the big, well-researched ones that I have not written for a while. This one was about the author of the Martian. In the article, I focused on how Andy Wier used his platform to get a book and film deal (in the same week). One of the things that Wier did was publish his work as a serial.

One of the things that Wier did was publish his work as a serial. Serial writing seemed like a lot of fun and something I wanted to try.

As a typical over-thinker, I started thinking not about the easiest way to do this but the best way. In no time at all, I had cooked up a whole batch of ideas. One of those ideas was a project I had been sitting on for years and years – Author Buzz. I had owned authorbuzz.co.uk for a long time and at some point I let it expire.

My chosen domain name was available again so I registered it. But not before I suggested to Thanet Creative Writers that we start a portal for all writers. Both the idea of serial writing and the portal received a positive response and so I went ahead.

chimpanzee_seated_at_typewriter

What I did was create an entire WordPress network (like wordpress.com but just for authors). I then had to start writing and fixing and integrating and coding and theming like a wizard. I am not a wizard. This is much, much harder than I thought it would be.

This is an actual photograph of how I felt while I was doing this.

As a result, I have not kept up with everything. For that, I apologise. It was not fair to keep you guys hanging.

If it is okay with everyone, what I will do is pause the competition for this week. Which adds an extra week for the deadline of our last theme. During the week I will announce our winners and on Monday I will announce the winners of last week (and this week, now). I will also set the next theme ready to publish. In case you want to get writing, here was the sneak peek of what the themes will be. I had planned all twelve before we even started.

We have two themes and the grand vote off to go and I want to give you wonderful writers my full attention while it takes place.

I also want to shout out to Jess Joy for reminding me just how far from the straight and narrow I have wandered lately. I also want to thank not just Jess but AUTHORity, Artimis Blake, Kentish Rambler, L. L. Winder, Neil, and Anstey for your wonderful contributions. Reading your work has been a pleasure and a joy. I truly hope that all of you continue to write after the competition has ended.

Once more, please forgive this interruption. We will get back on track next week. That’s a promise.