Tuesday, 31 August 2021

Wellcome Book Prize

2021 - No Award

2020 -  No Award

2019 - Will Eaves Murmur

2018 - Mark O'Connell To Be a Machine: Adventures Among Cyborgs, Utopians, Hackers, and the Futurists Solving the Modest Problem of Death

2017 - Maylis de Kerangal Mend the Living

2016 - Suzanne O'Sullivan It's All in Your Head: True Stories of Imaginary Illness

2015 - Marion Coutts The Iceberg: A Memoir

2014 - Andrew Solomon Far from the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity

2013 - No award

2012 - Thomas Wright Circulation: William Harvey, a Man in Motion

2011 - Alice LaPlante Turn of Mind

2010 - Rebecca Skloot The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

2009 - Andrea Gillies  Keeper: Living with Nancy – A Journey into Alzheimer's

Monday, 23 August 2021

Cranked Anvil Prompt Competition

Cranked Anvil 

Quarterly Prompt Competition is open all year round

Deadlines 1st July, 1st October and 1st April

The prompts are specified on their website 

Entry fee: £5 for one entry, £8 for two, £10 for three.

Word count: 700-1000, not including the title.


1st prize – £150

2nd prize – £75

3rd prize – £30.

The three winning entries will be published on the Cranked Anvil website.


Wednesday, 18 August 2021

Chasing Our Tales

"Writing is a triumph of tenacity over common sense."

That's what my mother says anyway. Her view is that any kind of writing is a "...very strange way of spending your time, Robert. Why on earth would anyone want to waste their energy doing that?"

And this from a woman who reads like it's about to get banned. I've pointed this out of course. But though she loves reading, she thinks all writers must be a little weird to devote their lives to sitting alone and writing.

She's a more sociable animal you see. Her idea of bliss is to be surrounded by any kind of people, all chattering and yammering over nothing in particular, simply enjoying the closeness of others.

That, of course, is my idea of The Seventh Level of Hell.

Not that I intend to be unsociable - or mean for that matter. I just prefer books and writing and creating, working on artistic projects - and if I do need to go out and communicate, I want it to be for a good reason - like to teach, or learn, or brainstorm or dream and plan with others about a brighter, more positive, art focussed future.

I find stagnation - by which I mean merely existing in ordinary life - a very poor substitute for the joy of creating.

The Wind Beneath My Wings

Creativity is what inspires me.

Working on stories about people and plots I have 'invented' is what keeps me excited about life. Writing songs and recording music gets me too. As does oil painting...

If it's not fiction, I can become equally engrossed in putting together books and courses. I've always been this way. I wrote my first book - about chocolate and secret places to keep it - when I was four years old. I wrote it out by hand and bound it all with Sellotape - and hid it in the wall of my bedroom.

I kept diaries until I was eighteen - until I went travelling across Europe and returned home to find my mother - not that I want to sound like Norman Bates here - had thrown them all out. When I asked, in shock, why she had done that, she simply said, "What does it matter? They were only full of silly words. What were you ever going to do with them?"

What indeed.

I should have gotten the message earlier. Mom hated my short stories, even when I received awards from school and teachers raved about them. She didn't even like my artwork, paintings etc. She said I had no talent, and no right to express it, repeatedly.

To warn me further, she gave me horror stories about how writers were all drunks, ne'er do wells and drug addicts, propogandized that journalists were Satan's spawn, and that writing - in fact any kind of creativity - was some form of certifiable insanity.

But as all good parents know, you should never demonize a child's preoccupations, because it only makes them more attractive. So it was with me.

By the time I left home - after Mommie Dearest sobbed at my decision to forgo University and form a rock band (she insisted I couldn't sing) - my course through life was set.

Goodbye to All That

I guess mothers the world over want what's best for their children. They want to protect them from failure and disappointment. But I always knew that if I did what Mommy wanted - to get that job in The Hardware Store (seriously) - then I would be forever bored and frustrated by a life of 'quiet desperation.'

Much better to me was a life of possibility - a life that involved 'making something of myself'' - whatever that meant.

Today, I've got what I want. A past full of music deals, playing guitar and singing in front of thousands of people, acting in theatre, TV and movie experience and a heap of fun times to look back on and other crazy memories. And now, I've got screenplays sold, 30 bestseeling books and a myriad of courses published all over the net, a new band, and a head full of wondrous ideas for the future. Not to mention the best girl in the world at my side - literally.

Okay, I experienced the failure and disappointment that all artists encounter along the way. But I wouldn't have traded any of that for the whole wide world. Artists need to be tested, to be rejected - it's all part of the process.

To 'protect' me from an authentic life would have been tantamount to switching off my life-support machine.

Zen and the Art of...

We create the life we want - or at least we should try to.

Douglas Adams - one of my heroes - once said, "We may not always end up where we wanted to go, but, if we follow our instincts, we often end up where we needed to be."

I love that. Very Zen, but no less profound.

Okay, I apologize if this article has been all about me. I know you're not supposed to do that in web articles. I should have been focussing on you - my dear reader - and how I can help.

But I hope you'll forgive me just this once - and if I do it again in the future!

Maybe there's something in the above that you can relate to - and that in itself may help you in some way.

I guess if there's a point to this article it would be:

Never be afraid to follow your heart - and do what you think will make you happy.

Your instincts - and your natural talents - exist for a reason.

They're there to help you make the right decisions for the sake of your sanity - and the satisfaction you receive from following your dreams is well worth the discomfort of going against those who might want to 'protect' you from your true self.

Mother does not always know best.

Now Dad, bless him, was another story - and for another time...

Until then,

Keep Writing!

Rob Parnell's Writing Academy

Wednesday, 11 August 2021

The Trouble With Writing

It's hard enough to actually get the words on paper - but after that you have to do the self promotion thing.

That's when you find out that, rather than the world clamoring to read you work, you're just one of thousands upon tens of thousands of writers in exactly the same place.

Writing a book used to be the goal - that many splendorous achievement that marked you out as special. Now?

Join the queue.

Getting publishers interested in your book is - and always was I guess - a total uphill struggle. But it's getting worse.

The whole publishing industry seems set up to say 'no', before you've even had time to pitch your idea, hone your proposal or edit down your synopsis.

Publishers explain they already have a huge back catalogue of work they have yet to publish, that, really, they don't need to see your manuscript, even before they know what it's about.

But then you read that traditional publishing is on the way out anyway.

Kindle is taking over - the majority of books sold are now electronic.

There's always self publishing - a minefield and a nightmare combined for the average wannabe author of a hard copy.

There are many companies already on line whose sole aim seems to be to take your money, make you poorer and do nothing much to help you or your work.

Self publishing - I know because I do it - shouldn't cost you more than around $500 for 50 books.

That's the reality.

That's how much it actually costs.

So why do others - who say they are "publishing you" and will get you to sign a contract - and then charge you around $5,000 to $15,000?

These companies use the fact that writers find it so hard to get published to fatten their wallets at your expense.

Talk about profiteering.

Need an agent?


Agents are besieged by manuscripts they can't sell.

Even when you get one - and I've had a few - my experience is that they find it just as hard (and sometimes harder) to get work published as we solo authors do.

Think that having an agent gives you an edge in the publishing world?


Times ain't like that anymore.

And here again there are individuals who call themselves agents - who prey on writers desperation to be represented - and rip you blind before you can say, "Can you please read my book?"

It's enough to make you despair!

Fact is, you're most likely to sell books if you self publish them - by which I mean finding a cheap POD printer and doing it yourself and then go on a speaking tour of your local libraries and shops and physically selling your books out of the trunk of your car.

I know traditional publishers who suggest you do this this anyway - they call it a 'launch tour' - difference being they will take 90% of the cover price of your book.

At least when you self-publish you get to keep 50% or more.

I read an editor's blog recently that 99% of all books sold less than 200 copies each - and that includes the books sold by traditional publishers.

Makes you want to seriously reconsider your decision to be a writer, doesn't it?

But still we do it.

I write every day. I more books I want to get out there - when I'm done editing.

I have over a hundred published books - and the royalties are nice but, of course, could be better.

This last decade my income from self published work has actually far outstripped my income from publishers.

It's not just me.

Writers everywhere face this new dilemma.

Is it really worth hawking around the publisher circuit anymore?

After all, they can take up to a year - and sometimes longer - to reject a MS.

That's way too long to make a writer wait in my view.

Far better to take the bull by the horns (don't you just hate cliches) and do it ourselves.

I think this is what the future holds for writers.

We gotta do it ourselves. Build the following one reader at a time.

Get ourselves out there and sell our books one at a time - and make a small profit from each one.

Take back control from an industry that is finding it increasingly hard to support us with the onslaught of new technology.

Refuse to get sucked in to those companies and individuals who prey on writer's dreams.

Make the decision.

Decide to take back control over our destiny - and let those big publishing companies know their days are numbered.

Thanks for letting me rant.

Keep writing!

Rob's Writing Academy