Archive for February, 2011


We are running a competition as part of my publishing course, and we are looking for Science-Fiction/Fantasy writers who want to get published to enter their stories! All the information you need is below, so if you are interested, please read on!


Science Fiction and Fantasy Competition

At UCLan publishing we are dedicated and passionate about what we do. Small but perfectly formed, the press will go to extreme lengths to publish a title we believe in – last year we travelled to Kenya to write letters with schoolchildren from Maasai tribes. This year we intend to go to the furthest reaches of space.

We’re holding a competition to publish a truly unique, standalone Science Fiction or Fantasy short story or novella of 2,000 to 10,000 words that’s aimed at adults, with one prize of £150. The winning novella is going to become a highly innovative and interactive eBook so we’re looking for submissions that will lend themselves to this format. Ideally your story will be so leap-off-the-page cutting-edge that readers are going to want to literally be a part of it.

We’re open to experimentation with the genre. With Science Fiction and Fantasy there are no limitations and we want our eBook to reflect that. Don’t treat us gently: your words should grip us, shake us, move us, shock us, run wildly into the night with us and leave us gasping for more.

The umbrella term for what we’re looking to publish is Speculative Fiction. It’s not a clear cut or strictly-defined genre which means its boundaries can be stretched. It also means it can continue to surprise and delight readers, which is what we aim to do with this eBook.

So – are you a Science Fiction writer at heart? We’ll accept hard or soft science fiction, time travel, space western, cyberpunk, alternative future/history/reality, dystopia, utopia, humorous, military, pulp, superhero, or, dare we say it, space opera.

Maybe you’re more of a Fantasy buff. Try us with high or low fantasy, traditional fantasy, contemporary, dark fantasy, fairytale, romantic, sword and sorcery, mythic, heroic, alternative world/history, steampunk, comic or urban fantasy.

And we don’t scare easily, Horror writers, so you’re going to have to push us to our limits. Gothic, supernatural, body horror – bring it on.

If none of that fits your style, why not surprise us? Cross a few genres, mix it up a bit. The Phantom of the Starship Opera: a gothic space opera, if you will (there’s a reason why we’re not the writers).

It was a dark and stormy night…

As you’d expect from a dedicated publisher, we want to avoid cliché like the plague (ha ha). So if you are going to submit a time travel story, crosscheck it against H.G. Wells first. Here are a few pitfalls we’d like you to steer clear of:

  • Star Wars-lite science fiction
  • ‘The butterfly effect’ – we don’t want to know how the untimely death of a butterfly affected a family tree
  • The ‘Doc’/mad scientist character
  • The Luke Skywalker – the plot-mechanism protagonist who has zero charisma
  • Little green men – enough said
  • Clones – ditto
  • Nanobots/nanotechnology
  • Tolkien-lite fantasy
  • The Harry Potter – the unlikely youngster who discovers he’s really the Chosen One
  • Prophecy – another word for convenience
  • Good vs evil – we like shades of grey
  • ‘The Hero’/‘The Villain’ – must it be so obvious?
  • Magic caused it/solved it – no ‘one size fits all’ answers, please
  • Kick ass heroines and moody males – urban fantasy, we’re looking at you
  • Soul mates – Twilight has this covered
  • Anthropomorphism – no talking animals (or dragons)
  • Magical objects – sentient or otherwise
  • ‘Quest’ fantasy – avoid long walks for little reward
  • Random Capitalisation – if it’s important, the prose should speak for itself

Basically, avoid this:

One final piece of advice: if you can’t avoid cliché – then at least obliterate the mould.

To enter into the competition you will need to submit a complete story of 2,000 – 10,000 words in length and a short, snappy biography of yourself by 18th March 2011.

Please email your submission as an MS Word document attachment to Debbie Williams (, and include your name contact details within the document.

Entries are accepted from the UK and the US!


For more information, contact details, or to know more about UCLan Publishing, click the link:



A few weeks ago, i posted a blog telling you about the project we are doing on my MA Publishing course, in which we are publishing a book of stories on parenting.

‘Blessing and Bother: How to Have Children and Live to Tell the Tale’ is going to be published this summer by UCLan Publishing, and is basically a selection of stories on parenthood.

If you would like to submit your story to us, the deadline for submissions is fast approaching on Monday 28th February 2011.

For further information and guidance, please visit UCLan publishing website at UCLan Blessing and Bother Call out – website

For my original blog post on this project, please see Calling all first time parents – looking for submissions

Cover of "The Girl Who Played with Fire"

Cover of The Girl Who Played with Fire

I just finished reading The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson, and thought it was a very good read, really gripping! I loved reading more about Lisbeth Salander and the aftermath of the previous book in the Millennium Trilogy, and was desperate to find out the truth behind the murders!

This book is quite dark in places, with violence cropping up constantly, and we delve deep into many people’s secrets, the most crucial of all being Salander’s. Slowly her mysterious past is uncovered and we discover so much about her character and how she came to be the way she is.

It ends quite dramatically with the mystery being solved, but the book ends on what can only be described as a cliffhanger, which immediately made me want to get on and read the 3rd book!

Another well-written book, which keeps you guessing until the end! Gets a little bit frustrating when you are fed little tidbits of the mystery all the way through and your brain goes crazy trying to piece it together and then the ending always surprises you!

I give it a 9/10 for originality and some excellent writing. I’m definitely starting to see why it has been such a bestseller!