Monday 15 September 2014

One Lovely Blog Award

I have been nominated for the One Lovely Blog Award by Samantha Bacchus. I have been following Samantha's blog since I started writing my own. She was my very first follower and is always very encouraging and supportive. You may also follow her on Twitter @Sammylou37 and her Samantha Bacchus Author page on Facebook.
Basically I have to give 7 facts about myself.


  • Link back to the blog of the person who nominated you.
  • Share 7 facts about yourself.
  • Nominate 15 blogs that you particularly like, or fewer if you can’t think of 15.
  • If I’ve nominated your blog, please don’t feel obliged to take part if you don’t want to, but if you do, that's great! Thanks.


When I was a little girl, my dad used to take me with him to watch motorbike scrambling at Hawkstone Park in Shropshire. Even now, I can still smell the fumes of the bikes' engines.

Before starting my A Levels, I spent the six week summer holiday as an au pair in Cassis, just outside the port of Marseilles. This began my love of France and the French way of life.

I collect thimbles and now have well over two hundred of them. Each one is a memento of a place visited or holds a memory of someone who has bought it for me. I have learned the word for 'thimble' in a number of languages! 

I am an official Eddie Stobart Club member and have my own spotter's handbook where I record all the trucks I see on our roads and motorways. It could take another two years but a truck named 'Janet Eleanor', after yours truly, is on its way!

I love picture books where the illustrations send a powerful message. I used many such books when I was a 'Philosophy for Children' trainer. One of my favourites was 'The Arrival' by Shaun Tan. 

Confession time - I just adore chocolate! Boxes of it, bars of it, chocolate desserts, chocolate cakes, chocolate sauce...Once, someone even bought me a chocolate smelling candle in a tin and on one occasion, we planted a chocolate perfumed flower, Cosmos atrosanguineus, in the garden.  

I am a big fan of Welsh rugby. Even though it's usually only on the Big Screen, I enjoy watching the national team play especially in the Six Nations' tournaments. Cardiff on international day comes alive! 

So there you have it. Seven more random facts about me.

I have nominated just a few bloggers this time because it's only a few months ago since I did a similar thing for another award. Here are some other interesting blogs that I follow, having found them more recently, and recommend that you pop across and have a look:

Judith Barrow -
Kath Eastman
Juliet Greenwood
Lynne Hackles -
Evonne Wareham

Thank you for reading! You may follow me on Twitter @JanBayLit and on my Jan Baynham Writer Facebook page. 

Saturday 6 September 2014

You've Got To Be In It To Win It
Or 'it's not the winning but the taking part.' How many times have you heard these expressions? This week I've been trying to keep both sayings in mind when I've been editing some competition entries. 

My Writing Magazine arrived this week along with a Competition Special 20125 supplement listing hundreds of competitions. There are competitions for all genres of writing from short stories, poetry, flash fiction, novels and articles with closing dates right through to the end of May next year.

There's so much choice so which ones do I choose? At the moment I am limiting myself to submitting short stories and flash fiction. I like writing poetry and have sent a couple of poems to Poem Pigeon but I need to hone my poetry writing skills before submitting to bigger competitions! My novel is in its embryonic stage, so-to-speak, so the novel competitions are out too. As a relatively new writer, I try to enter the smaller competitions, perhaps run by writing groups rather than the well-established organisations. The prizes tend to be much smaller as are the entrance fees and that makes me think that established or published authors will not be entering. I have also been told that the themed competitions tend to attract fewer writers whereas in the 'open' competitions, you may have a story already written that you could submit. In her blog, 'Words about writing and writing about words', Patsy Collins regularly includes information about competitions that are free to enter.

Why enter? Jonathan Telfer, the editor of Writing Magazine, has made some good points. He thinks that competitions can be:

- a 'valuable motivational tool' when competitors are asked to meet the challenge of a 'tough brief'
- a way of 'taking a break from our current work-in-progress' and 'trying new topics and themes'
- invaluable in raising your profile as a writer. 

In the main edition of Writing Magazine October 2014 there is more advice in Gary Dalkin's article 'Hope and Glory' on page 12. He, too, explores the benefits - other than winning - of entering writing competitions. 

'The advantage of targeting competitions is what it will bring to your writing, developing your craft in new ways.  This is the real prize. Of course it will have the spin-off of making you more disciplined and dead-line focused...Along the way you may find you are more versatile than you ever imagined. You may find you thought of yourself as one kind of writer and discovered that you are actually several sorts of writers all in one...Even if you don't win you can't lose.'

It's that last short sentence that's going to stay with me as I pay the entrance fees - only the small ones, of course! - and submit my entries.

Which competitions do you enter? What benefits are there? Have you won any? I'd really like to hear what you think. 

Thank you for reading my blog. You may follow me on Twitter @JanBayLit and on my Jan Baynham Writer Facebook page.

PS Hot off the press - Congratulations to Susan Jones for making the short list of the RNA new talent awards. Good luck, Sue! 

PPS Don't forget about the excellent opportunities offered in Alfie Dog Fiction's International Short Story Competition. Closing date 30th September.

Monday 1 September 2014

Where have I been this week?

When I look back over the last week, I realise I've visited many and varied places in a short space of time. I've taken journeys to rural mid-Wales, a Norfolk village, Ypres, London, France and Greece. And all this without leaving the house...

I expect by now you've guessed that the journeys have been taken through my own writing, critiquing other friends' stories and reading a novel. I've journeyed in miles and time to a Radnorshire village in 1947, to the years just after the war, and witnessed rationing and dealings on the black market. Rose, one of the protagonists in my novel-in-progress, suspects her father of being involved and I'm at the part where she resolves to find proof of his misdoings. Not all journeys are literal, of course, and as the story progresses we will see the character of Jack Jenkins evolve and change along another journey, his life journey. 

Editing one of my short stories, 'Whispers In The Olive Trees', took me to Greece and the Peloponnese where I could feel the sun on my back. My character, Alex, was on a journey of her own to discover the father she knew nothing about until she read her mother's diary after she had died.

I witnessed another murder in Redington, the Norfolk village where Susan Jones sets her stories. On Creative Frontiers last week, she left us with a cliff hanger each day until the culprit was revealed in the final installment. 

Last Friday, my writing buddy, Helen, and I met up to critique each other's writing. Her latest story, 'Betrayal', deals with the main character's physical abuse at the hands of a boyfriend and shows her journey of denial, withdrawal and finally remorse when she is faced with the consequences of not having warned her friend, Lisa. To witness that journey was disturbing yet the message was very powerful. 

There were very dark times to visit, too, in 'The Promise' by Lesley Pearse. I journeyed back in time to 1914 to London, France and Ypres and and witnessed, first hand, the horrors of the first World War both at home and on foreign soil. At the heart of the novel is one woman's journey through change, independence, loyalty, grief and love.

'Writing will be like a journey, every word a footstep that takes me further into undiscovered land.' David Almond

'Reading takes you on a wonderful journey to places you have probably never been. Sit back and enjoy your journey.'- Marjorie Taylor

Where has your writing and reading taken you lately? What journeys have your characters embarked upon? How have they changed? I'd love it if you left a comment. 

Thank you for reading my blog. You may also follow me on Twitter @JanBayLit and on my Jan Baynham Writer Facebook page.

Must dash! I've got to re-visit North Wales and Kashmir before Wednesday's Book Club meeting about 'The Kashmir Shawl' by Rosie Thomas This is one of my favourite books and I'm looking forward to hearing what other members thought of it.