Monday, 26 November 2012


The South Wales Short Story Competition – organised by publishing and video production company Candy Jar Ltd – has attracted entries from South Wales and overseas.

Shaun Russell, co-founder of Candy Jar Ltd, said: “The response to our competition has been phenomenal. Entries have been submitted from the UK, Europe and the USA. The fact that the competition is in its first year and is already attracting writers from across the globe is very exciting.”

The competition was launched to celebrate National Short Story Week, (12th-18th November) which aims to get more people reading and listening to short stories each year. 

Many publishers have championed the short story format this year. Bloomsbury has declared 2012 the 'Year of the Short Story' and The BBC National Short Story Award has become international just for 2012 to celebrate the Olympics.

Candy Jar hopes to make the competition an annual event. Shaun Russell continued: “Short stories are an excellent way for writers to perfect their craft. Our competition has shown us how much promising and exciting talent is emerging in both South Wales and beyond.”

A list of the winners of The South Wales Short Story Competition 2012 can be found on the Candy Jar Books website.

Some of our South Wales Short Story Competition winners.
(L-R Carly Holmes, Laura Foakes, Stella Wells, Jane Fraser and Noelle Bryant)

Thursday, 8 November 2012


The Candy Jar Team

Jelly Bean Books is hosting a self-publishing workshop for aspiring writers who need help with getting their work into print.

The workshop will take place on Tuesday 4th December between 10am and 4pm at 113-116 Bute Street. It will consist of talks from industry experts, interactive sessions and a Q&A session for potential authors to ask all the questions they need answered.

Writers will be able to bring in a page of their writing for critiquing by the company's editor.

Each workshop participant will be given an information booklet to take home with them. A place on the workshop costs £5 and can be booked online or by contacting Rose Widlake on 02921 157202.

10.00 – 10.15 Registration & Introduction

10.15 – 11.00 Self-Publishing: A Crash Course in ebook Publishing
This session will guide you through the essential questions for an author choosing to self-publish: why go it alone? What skills are needed to be a self-published author? What do you need to be aware of before embarking on a self-publishing project?

11.00 – 11.40 How to Successfully Edit your Work
A session on the importance of editing. Should you edit on your own or pay for an editorial service? What kind of editing does your manuscript need - developmental or a close copy-edit? If you go it alone, what should you be looking out for?

11.40 – 12.00 Coffee Break and Networking

12.00 – 12.30 Eileen Younghusband
A chance to learn from Eileen's journey as an author, which began with self-publishing her autobiography Not an Ordinary Life.

12.30 – 13.10 Social Networking for Writers: How to Market Yourself
Twitter, Facebook, Wordpress... which social media platform should you choose? This session will show you how to build an online presence and attract fans.

13.10 – 13.40 Lunch

13.40 – 14.10 Andy Frankham and Terry Cooper
This session gives participants an opportunity to ask published authors Terry and Andy questions about their writing careers. How did they get published? How do they market themselves? What advice can they give to new writers? etc.

14.10 – 14.40 Choosing Your Route: A Discussion Panel with Shaun, Steve and Justin
In this session we will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing compared to mainstream publishing. The discussion will last approximately half an hour, followed by a chance to have an informal chat with the panel afterwards.

14.40 – 15.00 Coffee Break and Networking


The recent news that the two publishing giants Penguin and Random House are set to merge has caused a big stir. The merge will create the world’s leading publishing house, dominating up to thirty percent of the global market. Random House published the extremely successful Fifty Shades series earlier this year making them the UK’s biggest publisher. Joining with Penguin will give them the advantage to move forward.
Robyn Paul

Monday, 5 November 2012


The whole idea of paying for reviews came about in 2010, with a man called Todd Rutherford and a website called

Since then the world of online book reviews has never been the same.

Mr Rutherford observed how the day-to-day consumer has become an essential part of selling, noting how they offer an illusion of truth and brutal honesty. He took advantage of this and began charging outrageous prices for five star reviews; for $499 you could have 20 'fabulous' reviews.

The Federal Trade Commission has issued guidelines stating that it must be made clear when there is a financial relationship between the author and reviewer, but enforcement has been minimal. It appears there is no real way to stop the force of false reviews.

It has been estimated that over one third of online reviews are fake. Many reviewers don't read the books they are voicing their opinions on. This misleads readers and takes away the romantic element of carefully selecting a book.

Some argue that writers are just using all the resources available to them to get their name out there. But the question arises of how far is too far? Does it only become unethical when you start paying for it or is soliciting your friends and family just as bad?

The idea of paying for reviews changes the way people perceive a writer's work. My opinion is that people who pay for reviews are simply looking for a quick rise to success, and are not prepared to put in the hard work to achieve their goals.

Robyn Paul

Friday, 2 November 2012


Self-editing is a quintessential part of making your writing look polished and professional. It can be a tedious task, but the following tips will make it all worth your while. 

Most publishers will expect your work to be pre-edited to a certain standard before submission. The final stage of self-editing is not about elements such as character development or plot; that should have been done already. It’s about stylistic mechanics such as the overall layout, spelling mistakes and repetition. There are several things to bear in mind when editing your own work.

1. Firstly, you need to distance yourself from your writing. Set it down for an hour or two before you begin.

2. Once you've given yourself this much needed space, print your work off. When reading a hard copy you are far more likely to pick up on obvious spelling and grammar mistakes. 

3. A good place to start is by looking at the visual layout of your writing. Bear in mind that a whole page without a break is uninviting to the reader. Are there paragraphs in appropriate places? Is speech appropriately indented? Look at existing published work to get an idea of what a finished novel looks like.

4. Once you've done this it will be easier to read your work aloud, which allows you to see how your writing flows. If you stumble over words or phrases, then you know what parts to rewrite. This will also inform you whether you’re using the most appropriate word for the piece. 

5. When self-editing you must check for unintentional repetition and emphasis; you don’t want an excess of exclamation marks and italics cluttering up your writing. You should also cut out the clich├ęs and replace them with more original descriptions of your own. 

6. Finally, after reading your piece as a whole you should completely dissect it. Read it sentence by sentence, analysing whether each word conveys your intended point. Rewrite extraneous words or phrases and importantly, remember to vary sentence structure and check for consistency.

Thorough self-editing should leave you with a smooth and refined piece of writing. 

Robyn Paul