Week Three Winners

As you get stuck into the Week Four Theme, it is time to announce the winners of week three.

You might have noticed that the winners’ post has come a little later this week. This is because I have started to experiment with the timing of this second post. I wondered if waiting a few days might work better. Not to mention that I have had a few health issues.

As in weeks past, there are three areas to win in:

  1. Best post (as picked by me)
  2. Post with the most comments by different people
  3. Best comment (as picked by me)

The only thing I can say for certain at this stage is that the next time we run one of these, I am going to ask more people to help me pick the winners.

Best Post: Theological Mistakes

It was very hard to choose a winner. Again.

I wanted to pick several of you as winners. Again.

However, after going back and forth (again) and not being able to make up my mind (again), I chose the Night of Hats article. What particularly impressed me was the fusion of column-writing style with a blog post that starts by hinting that this might all be nonsense and yet keeps a straight face when it presents it. A well-deserved win.

Most Comments: If I invented my own religion

Although I was a bit dubious about the websites reported 40+ comments, this was the blog post with the most comments.

One oft-repeated technique for getting more comments is to end with a question. Think about giving it a try.

Best Comment: profbenj The Joy of Words

Like the posts, the comments are all of a similar standard. It was very hard to pick out a “best comment”. This one made my short list for engaging with the post and showing that the commenter had read it by asking an insightful question.

Week Two Winners

Late but arriving as fast as I can format text, are the winners for the Week Two competition. The theme was time travel which reminds me, if I don’t hit publish soon I will need a time machine because guests are about to arrive for

The theme was time travel which reminds me, if I don’t hit publish soon I will need a time machine because guests are about to arrive for Tea and Chat. The irony of getting a post out late during Time Travel week is not lost on me.

As always, there were three winners to identify:

  1. Best Post
  2. Best Comment
  3. Most Commented upon

I am aware that one or two of you are still tinkering with WordPress or trying to figure out how to get started. I have also learned that things that I take for granted like adding a link to something specific is not at all clear for everyone (yet). I promise to write about linking specifically as soon as I can. I put together a WordPress FAQ for those that need it.

Things that particularly impressed me

The quality of the work this week was really astounding. What was I thinking, imagining that I could pick out just a few winners?

Congratulations to everyone who was using WordPress and dealt with the sudden change to the editor this week.

Unexpected plot twists. I saw a real handbrake turn of a plot twist this week. It was so good that I felt it was worth a mention.

Everything I look for in a time travel story was found in one perfect short story. Despite a snafu with the linking making the text a bit hard to read (all blue from links and my dyslexia, not so fun) it was nevertheless perfectly told.

A poem that almost sets up a story not told was the tease we had this week. I want to read the story of good intentions derailed by temptation.

A very honest reflection. Ine of the best ways to write is to be brutally honest. This is a post that typifies that honesty perfectly.

A perfect insight into a writer’s mind. What more can you say? This was a fantastic reflection on the engine of writing. Asking “what if” and filling in the blanks of unknowns. Loved it.

A novel approach to an old topic. This read like some old school sci-fi, a bit rough around the edges, but what a story!

Sci-fi and comedy delivered with a comfortable ease. I liked the way the author self-inserted their own writer persona as the main protagonist. Also, coffee powered time travel.

Poetry with a plot twist. I love the way, in so few lines, this poet plays with several tropes of time travel.

Some constructive criticism

This is aimed at no one in particular but are just some observations that I hope will help you. To be honest, there was so much to praise about this week’s batch of entries that I struggled to find anything to write in this section.

Don’t forget to post

First, and most obviously, don’t do what I just did – promise a post and then utterly fail to get it published. I feel like I should still apologise some more for that. Such a silly mistake.

Centre aligned paragraphs

I saw a lot more centre align text this week than last. It is a topic I address to businesses fairly frequently. This is probably because I have something of a unique perspective on odd text. I am dyslexic and centred text (and a few other unusual formattings) plays merry hell with my ability to read it. (Don’t worry, I am a geek and can get my browser to correct my view for me).

Generally, people centre text when they want it to look balanced, appear to be different, or just want to make it stand out or look “nice”. It might look okay to you but if you raise the reading difficulty of the text by quite a bit.

WordPress users have the Block Quote option which looks like a pair of opening quote marks. That will definitely make the text appear to be different. Other options include italics, bold, a different colour, or full justify. Our WordPress FAQ has more details on how to use these features.

Links

Links are great. Links are how the Web works. Linking to something is like sharing love. It is a great way to build the community around you. I have promised to try and produce a guide to linking. I will be doing that soon.

If you can figure out linking then try to always link to what you are talking about. Some of you do – this is to your credit.

As a side note, links work best if they are added in after the text is written. Put them in at the end, is my advice. This can also help avoid situations where the editor tries to make everything one giant link.

Please note that I never knock off marks for not linking but you will not get as much out of the contest if you do not link out when it counts.

The Winners

Best Post: Ansteysp

OMG, you writers! I honestly had a good reason to give each and every last one of you the prize for “best” post. The batch of posts this week was amazing. Each one typified a great post in some way. It almost came down to my simply drawing names out of a hat – that’s how hard it was to pick a winner this week.

Best Comment: Kentish Rambler

There were several great comments to choose from this week. I spend ages go back and forth between them all trying to make up my mind. You have all really gotten into the whole constructive feedback groove this week. This was a hard call to make.

Post with most comments: Irving Benjamin

The runaway winner for most comments was Irving’s post. You all did a good job of picking up comments and commenting on each other’s work but this post just picked up a few more.

And Now: Week Three

Why not congratulate the winners (and other participants) by giving them some comment love.

Best of luck to everyone who takes part with this week’s theme. It’s not too late if you want to join in now – there are 10 themes left to go.

You can find out about the Week Three theme here.

Writers’ Writing Competition: If I invented my own religion

Here is the theme for the writing competition that also builds your author platform. For full details please see week one’s post.

But first, an apology

I admit I dropped the ball this week. I honestly thought I had everything set up and scheduled but I failed to realise where we were in the week. That is my fault and I apologise. Winners to be announced shortly too.

Week Three: Competition Theme

This is the theme for this week. Closing date to have posted it online is midnight on Monday the 20th. However, if you need more time because of my mistake say so and I will delay judging by a day.

If I invented my own religion

You can write anything you want that fits that theme. As little or as much as you feel you need to.

Ideas

This theme was invented to allow you to show how your twisted mind works as a writer. Although the intention was that it be a biographical topic, feel free to write fiction, poetry, essay, you new cult manifesto, or something entirely crazy.

Don’t forget

Don’t forget to link to this week’s post so your entry is (much) easier to discover. You may find it easier to get more comments if you also share your post to your Facebook friends or on Twitter.

It is important to realise that unless you link to this post, then ou ping may not show up, and if it does, it will show up in the wrong place.

Week Two: posts for you to comment on

As you know, I have been watching with great interest as the Week Two Theme posts are going up.

This is a list of all the posts for this week’s theme that I have seen so far. I will update this post as more show up.

More to come as you publish them…

Opps, I missed one.

And there’s more:

Week One Winners

As I suspected, choosing the winners for this first week has been no easy task. I was assessing not only for writing style and content but the planning and execution of the very hard task of setting up a blog.

There were three winners to identify:

  1. Best Post
  2. Best Comment
  3. Most Commented upon

For best post, I decided to look at a number of criteria:

  • style
  • clarity
  • reading ease
  • inventiveness
  • novelty

As you all had to set up a blog I decided the only fair way to judge that aspect of the competition was to separate it out into an extra bonus section. This week only, there will be four winners. The fourth winner being:

  • Bonus #1: for making a great effort setting up a blog

Things that particularly impressed me

The thing that impressed me most was that you all managed to get set up somewhere to post your entries. For some of you, I know that this was not an easy first step. Just taking part demanded that you step up and get to grips with something new. You all deserve recognition for overcoming the barrier to entry in order to take part.

You have all created praise-worthy first-week entries and blogs. If I was to cover everything we would be here all day so I have focused on one or two things that most impressed me about each one. Forgive me for not linking to all the blogs again. There is a list of all participants here.

The Joy of Words hit the ground running and got their blog post out nice and quickly. This gave the post an enormous head start when it came to getting comments. From the names I saw here and nowhere else, I imagine that this post has been shared on the author’s Facebook timeline.

Braidy Spice mentioned a story she had written and then promised to share it one day soon. This is a great idea. It reassures readers that there is something to come back for and it gives you a game plan for what you are going to write next. I also have to say that her by-line made me chuckle – Writer Without a Clue: The Ramblings of Pantser.

Artimas Blake (Simon) knocked it out of the park with his easy-to-relate-to conversational style. There was a sparkling wit to the way he writes his entry which in many ways reminded me of the better sort of newspaper column. If he keeps up with that style of writing, Simon should have no trouble building a strong following for his Artimas Blake pen-name.

Irving Benjamin is clearly new to blogging software and yet powered through and adapted. Getting stuck in, making mistakes, and then learning from them is all part of the learning process. None of us would write anything if we let fear of spelling, grammar, or style mistakes stop us. Irving’s approach – of just getting in there and figuring it out – impressed me.

Kentish Rambler chose a no-frills blog theme. This can be a powerful choice when you want your content above all else to shine. She clearly has a good eye for what works. Despite a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to get set up, she has done an exceptional job. Kentish Rambler has attacked a difficult task with great success. I also have to stop and give praise to a poem which really summed up writing and why I write. I found her post very easy to relate to.

Neil W included inline links in his post. These links were appropriate to and enhanced the context. His links take the reader to somewhere they can read up on the topics he mentions which is a great way to add value to a post. Good links, such as these, provide readers with a good experience. Linking out is a great skill to develop and a solid way of establishing what the connections of your post in the wider world.

Ansteysp, who has a user name I am not sure how to pronounce, chose a theme which is focused on reading above all else. Like Kentish Ramblers minimalist theme, this one too is fantastic for reading. Ease of reading is a big deal and can make it much easier for a blog to really take off and find a solid reader base. I think the big theme and dominant image matched the mood and style of the narrative form used for this post.

The Winners

When I say this was a hard choice, I am not being nice. This was one of the hardest choices I have ever had to make. Even after grading all the posts on a scale of 1 to 5 for different areas, I still had several joint first places. I took a long time over this. In the end, the winner of “Best Post” was a photo finish.

Week One Best Post: Kentish Rambler

When it comes to poetry I am very hard to please. Not only was this post expressive of the theme (as so many were), and not only did it resonate with me, but it was a poem. This post picked up bonus points for being a novel approach to the theme and managed, by a nose, to win out against some very stiff competition.

Week One Best Comment: Neil W

There were several strong contenders for best comment but Neil’s comment was a stand out winner for me. There were a lot of good comments but this one, in particular, I felt really epitomised what giving good feedback is all about. Neil’s comment, along with several others, added a great deal of value to both the blog post as well as, I feel, being good feedback for the writer.

Week One Most commented Upon Post

Here, at least, was a contest point that required only that I be able to count. Jess Joy’s post gathered a lot more comments than any other. I am pleased that I am able to write that this post is a winner because it was a very strong contester for the Best Post slot and, like all the posts this week, it deserved some love.

Bonus Winner: for making a great effort setting up a blog

When I wrote that we would have a bonus prize for best effort, I foolishly thought it would be easy to judge. This was not the case. However, there was one contest participant who I could see was making a lot of effort (and indeed I praised that effort). Irving Benjamin, this one is for you.

And Now: Week Two

Why not congratulate the winners (and other participants) by giving them some comment love.

Best of luck to everyone who takes part with this week’s theme. It’s not too late if you want to join in now – there are 11 themes left to go.

You can find out about Week Two’s theme here.

Writers’ Writing Competition: Week Two

Here is the theme for the writing competition that also builds your author platform. For full details please see week one’s post.

Week Two: Competition Theme

This is the theme for this week. Closing date to have posted it online is midnight on Monday the 13th.

If I had a time machine…

You can write anything you want that fits that theme. As little or as much as you feel you need to.

Don’t forget

Don’t forget to link to this week’s post so your entry is (much) easier to discover. You may find it easier to get more comments if you also share your post to your Facebook friends or on Twitter.

Some posts for you to comment upon.

Each of these are posts related to our writing competition. I’ve gathered up all the posts I could find. If I have missed you out then make sure to shout loudly.

In this post, I shall refer tot he authors of these posts only by the name of their blog, or a by any handle they give. While I know who the people are behind most pen names, I feel it is up to each writer if they want to give their name.

Some of you forgot to put in a link which would have stopped WordPress (or whatever) from pinging us. However, the biggest challenge this week, for our writers, will have been just setting up a new blog in the first place. Everyone who managed to do this, especially those who did it for the first time, deserve a round of applause. This was not an easy first step.

Remind me to write a short tutorial on how to add links.

The posts

What Gets Me Writing? By Jess Joy holds the distinction of being the very first entry to successfully ping this blog by being published with a link on a platform with the ping feature enabled.

What gets me writing? by Kentish Rambler. This entry is interesting in that it is the first entry I have seen in poem form.

What Gets Me Writing. by braidyspice addresses what it is like to write as a pantser.

What Gets Me Writing by Ansteysp is also an entry that took the theme and spun a narrative around it. I think it was about the time I read this one that I realised judging the entries was going to be a tough job.

What Gets Me Writing by Irving Benjamin. Irving is one of a few writers who has chosen to use a narrative style to address this week’s theme. I am pretty sure I found the right link for the post but Irving seems to prefer a no comments format.

What gets me writing? by Artimis Blake tells us that Artimis’ art is powered by boredom and coffee. A potent combination.

What Gets Me Writing; Or, I Am Easily Distract… by Neil W is written on a blogspot blog. Those of you still getting to grips with WordPress should not find it too hard to figure out how to comment here.

What gets me writing? by Lord Matt (me) is not in the running because I wrote it. However, it is still a valid place to practice posting comments. This is not in any way a WordPress site either.

Remember folks, you still have until midnight tonight to enter the competition and you have until sometime tomorrow morning (when I start reading them all again) to post comments in order to win the best comment section.

Best of luck writers. You have all done a damn fine job.

Competition FAQ

Our competition has raised a few questions on the Facebook group. Here are as many answers as possible. All in one neat and tidy list.

Who can enter?

Anyone at all. Absolutely anyone. Charity members, group members, people who go to other groups, people that write, people that might like to write one day… Anyone who would like to can join in.

I’m not from Thanet, can I join in?

Yes, please do. Admittedly, when the theme is Thanet related you might need to do some homework but please don’t let that put you off.

How do I enter?

To enter the contest you need somewhere to post your entry. There are a lot of free sites that are ideal for this. By the end of the competition, you will have laid the foundations for a strong presence as a writer.

I already have a blog, can I use that?

Absolutely, yes. You will get the most out of this competition if the blog is wholly or mostly about you as a writer but feel free to use whatever you have.

I don’t have a blog, where do I post my entries?

There is a whole load of free services that you can use. They all count but some are easier to use than others.

Here are some ideas:

  • WordPress (will ping us with your entry)
  • Tumblr (remember to enable replies)
  • Quora (very easy to use)
  • Blogspot (popular but not always the best place to start)
  • Medium (the Facebook of blogging)
  • Weebly (a popular newcomer)

Do I have to write for all 12 themes?

Not if you do not want to. Although you will get the most mileage out of this competition by making an attempt at all 12. Each week is a sperate contest so there is no commitment to take part every week.

Do I have to comment on other people’s entries?

Of course not, however, this contest is all about building a sense of community and by giving a little love to others you will be more likely to receive love back. Love, in this context, being helpful feedback and nice comments.

Can I post a video instead of writing my entry?

Yes, if you want to. A video can be a great part of an authorial presence. I recommend posting a transcript if you can but you don’t have to.

Do I have to link to Thanet Creative Writers?

Linking is not an obligation as such but it does make it more likely that your platform will ping us to let us know about the post. A link also explains to your readers what you are doing and why you are writing for that topic which saves you from having to explain each week.

I’ve just made a WordPress blog for the contest, can I post other things too?

Absolutely, yes. The idea of this contest is that you get to build up a presence. If you have additional ideas then you should run with them.

Can’t I just post to my Facebook page (or my wall)?

You could and I will probably see it, but you will miss out on establishing a wider reach that owning your own content space provides. It is not very hard to set up a free blog or content space and publishers look for writers with an established presence so this should help you down the line.

I chose a platform that doesn’t ping, how do I make sure you see my entry?

Don’t panic. If you are not sure I have seen your entry at judging time, you can always share a link in the Facebook group or use the contact form to give us a heads up.

What do the winners get?

Winners get what everyone else gets – the joy of writing with the added benefit of building something to help you find a publisher down the line. Winners also get bragging rights, a prominent link, and probably everyone (or at least a lot of people) taking a look at their work to see what was so great about it.

What happens at the end?

When all 12 themes have had their winners announced I will explain how we are going to vote for an overall winning post. More on that later.

Do I have to keep my blog going after the competition?

That is up to you. Even if you post something once a month until the next contest you may find that having a creative outlet like that helps you stay focused on writing. Try it and see how it works out for you.

Any more questions?

If you have any more questions, please do feel free to ask. I will do my best to answer them all.

Writers’ Writing Competition

As promised, here are the details of our just for fun writing competition that also builds your author platform.

The competition is design to be a little bit like one of our group meetings. We all share our work in a format that we are happy with (see getting set up for more on that) and then we give feedback to each other in the comments.

You win if you get the most comments from the most people, or if you write a really good comment, or if you write a great entry.

This competition is all about being social and working together (with great feedback) as well as showing off your writing skills.

Competition and Rules

Anyone can enter

This competition is open to anyone at all. As long as you have access to the Internet, you can enter this competition. If you have time, you can enter twice but you are probably not going to want to.

Competition

There will be 12 rounds, one each week. Each round will have a theme to which you may write as little or as much as you wish. The only requirement is that your entry must be posted online – I will show you exactly how to do that as this is the part that builds your platform.

At the end of the 12 weeks, there will be a big community vote to pick the all time favourite – as chosen by you.

How to enter

To enter you need to publish your entry online with a link back to that week’s competition page. Don’t worry this is really easy. There are lots of free ways to publish your entry in a way that builds up your platform. There is a section called “getting set up” which will show you how to create a free account to post your entries. If you get stuck, ask in the group.

Winning

There will be three winners each week:

  1. Best entry
  2. Best on-page feedback (to someone else’s entry)
  3. Entry with the most on-page comments by different people

The winner will be whoever it seems like, has best matched one of those criteria. If there are lots of good entries and your one is not picked all I ask is that you be a good sport about it. Just by writing well, you are winning yourself a good foundation towards your future writing career.

The prize for best feedback will be limited to people who have entered the competition, so make sure you are clear about who you are. Also, don’t forget to give the feedback on the article itself and not on Facebook otherwise I might miss it.

So don’t just put your entry up, go and read other people’s because you might just win for an insightful or helpful comment.

This competition is as much about the comments you give as the entry itself. Read how to give great feedback.

Build your Author Platform

The aim of this competition is to have fun and while having fun you will also be enhancing your author platform without realising it.  An author platform is an engine by which you are able to generate sales as an author. It is made up of the presence and following that you have created prior to publication.

So in other words, you will have fun while also laying a foundation for future writing success. We will be having fun but you will also be building up your author presence – something which can take a long time to mature.

Week One: Competition Theme

This is the theme for this week. Closing date to have posted it online is midnight on Monday the 6th. Before you get writing, you should read the getting set up section, if you need help setting up a free space where you can publish things (Facebook just is not going to cut it this time).

What gets me writing?

You can write anything you want that fits that theme. As little or as much as you feel you need to.

My Platform: Getting set up

Placeholder Image

This is the only bit that is ever so slightly fiddly and may take as long as three whole minutes. Longer, if you want to customise things a lot.

It is also the most exciting part of the whole process. You will be claiming a space for your authorial voice to be heard. It is really easy and super fun. It is also very helpful later on when it comes time to get published.

To build your platform, you need somewhere you can publish your own content. This s where you are going to post your competition entries. If you already own a blog, then you can use that, if you want.

I recommend WordPress but I will show you haw to set up on a few different free sites so you can find one that you are comfortable using.

You don’t have to use these platforms but you will get the best benefit from using a proper blog. Also, blogs are fun. Trust me.

WordPress

If you have signed up to contribute to this site, or you have blogged at WordPress before then you already have an account but if you need one they take no time at all to set up. then just pick a format and you are ready to go.

WordPress will ping us when you publish your entry so I will know that you have entered. This is because you are going to link to that week’s competition page.

Quora

If you don’t like WordPress you can use Quora which has a free blogging option. It will look something like this. Just sign up and choose the blog option from your profile menu.

You may need to share your entry in the group, which is fine because I think you might like to do that anyway.

TumblR

Another choice is TumblR. We have a TumblR blog here. To play fair, you will have to make sure that your entry has comments enabled.

Medium

If you just want to enter the competition and don’t much care that you could be building a platform at the same time them Medium might be the choice for you. Again, grab a free account and post away.

Linking

With all these platforms to make a link, you just highlight the text to make into a link and then press the link icon. This will give you a box where you can paste the link which is found in your address bar at the top of the page.

It starts thanetcreativewriters.wordpress.com but you knew that right.

Try to use some text such as:

This is my Thanet Creative Writers Competition entry.

That way, it makes it easy for me to know that you want to be part of the competition.

Good Luck

Best of luck and remember you can write anything that fits this theme and use any title that you wish. Just link to this page and share your article on our Facebook group so I know that you are entering.

There’s no wrong answer and you can win not only by writing but by leaving a great comment on someone else’s work. If you need help, leave a comment on this blog post or post in our Facebook group.

I can’t wait to read what you write.