Wednesday, 23 February 2011


Spencer Ratcliff divides his time between Australia and the UK and has spent most of his life working as a journalist. His novel THE VOICES OF CRABTREE LANE is set in an Essex country village in 1958, still reeling from the aftermath of war. The action hinges around the moment when the community's halcyon days of innocence come to a tragic end when popular boy, little Johnny Button, disappears while walking his dog.

For anyone who might be interested, the link to the second in a series of interviews with Spencer (Brit Writers’ Awards Publishing Programme participant) by BBC Radio Essex is below.  Spencer, together with producer-presenter, Ian Wyatt, takes us on a warm, witty and nostalgic walk down ‘memory lane’ and the setting of Spencer’s soon-to-be-published book The Voices of Crabtree Tree Lane. 

Ian Wyatt, BBC Radio Essex, will be running a further interview with Spencer on his next  Saturday morning breakfast show. 

HERE IS THE LINK.  It should pick up at the interview.  If it doesn't, please slide your bar along to approximately 1hour 52mins   Thanks...and enjoy!

Brit Writers’ CEO Talks Back

If you want to know more about the workings of Brit Writers' Awards from a reliable source, please check out the CEO's Exclusive Interview.  Link below:

Monday, 21 February 2011

Brit Writers’ Awards 2011 – 3 Days to UK Submission Deadline!

The Brit Writers’ Awards is the UK’s largest creative writing project and awards for unpublished and self-published authors. Their network of writers, agents, publishers and partners is growing by the day and in addition to adults; over a million children are involved in their BWA schools programmes across the country.

The prestigious £10,000 prize and publishing contract will be awarded at the gala awards ceremony due to be held in late September in Central London. Last year’s awards were a glittering, star-studded event at the O2, London, attended by TV and film stars, writers of all ages and famous authors including Sir Terry Pratchett who won the Published category award for his book Nation.

UK entries deadline: 5pm, Friday 25 February 2011
International entries deadline: 5pm, Friday 25 March 2011
UK Schools entries deadline: 5pm, Friday 27 May 2011

Award categories include: Novels • Poetry • Short Stories • Non-fiction • Songwriting • Stage & Screenplay • Writing for Children • Published Novels

To enter your masterpieces go to the Brit Writers’ Awards website:

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Exclusive Interview with the CEO of the Brit Writers Imran Akram – by Liza Adams

A short, but informative blog today, for anyone with concerns or questions, or just requiring more information about the Brit Writers’ Awards (which cannot easily be gleaned from comments on blogs!). 

Please find below a link to an exclusive interview with the CEO of the Brit Writers’ Awards which I believe encapsulates the ethos the BWA perfectly. Anyone who cares to take a considered look at what BWA is all about and what it is bringing to the community through its Creative Writing Programme for Schools alone, cannot fail to see that this is an innovative, inspirational and much needed way forward for writers and the writing industry.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Now we REALLY know what the publishers want…

…and what they most definitely DO NOT want.  After our second Brit Writers’ Awards Publishing Programme group meeting, I think I can say on behalf of all the participants, we are on fire!  The meeting was jam-packed with information from ‘those in the know’, who gave us an inside view of the publishing industry.  Fantastic organisation BWA, incidentally.  I don’t know how you managed it.  It was awesome.  Pure magic. 

So, OK, some of the speakers—excellent speakers—reiterated what those of us who have been around for a while might already know, but the further insight…  Let’s just say it got the adrenalin pumping.  Why on earth someone like the inspired CEO of the Britwriters hasn’t come along before to offer such well put together programmes is beyond me.  Apart from helping writers to get it right (and I’m not just talking punctuation, grammar and presentation here, as all-important as they might be.  I’m talking writing that sizzles.  Writing that says READ ME!), surely the spin off will be less rubbish on the slush piles—in my humble opinion anyhow. 

From a personal pov, I have spent a small fortune enlisting the help of editors to try to get my own writing as right as it can be.  They have been good, excellent, in fact.  One lady I hold in very high-esteem and will continue to use.  With the help of the Britwriters though, I truly believe I have found that crucial missing ingredient.  And…big news…I sat down yesterday and whammed out a one page synopsis.  Oh, scintillating, I hear you yawn.  Actually, it is big.  HUGE.  I write books.  I weep over synopses.  I’ve read every piece of information there is on the subject and I just could not do it.  Britwriters haven’t shown me how, so much as got my mind totally focussed.  My story flows, ergo does my synopsis.  Whatever they are doing, it is doing it for me.  Oh, and I’m speaking in public much more confidently, too.  I’m not sure mine is quite there yet, but some of those pitches yesterday, like WOW!

Now, hopefully, I won’t have to sell a kidney in order to get my work into shape in future.  I just need to grow an extra set of hands so I can get all these demanding ideas going around in my head down on paper.

To sum up, we are going to get published, because we are going to give publishers what they REALLY want.  Do I hear a collective sigh of relief from the publishing industry?

Thursday, 10 February 2011

We're cooking on gas...

…and, funnily enough, most of us even knew how to turn on the cooker.  Well, with so many talented people in the Brit Writers' Awards Publishing Programmea life and business coach, a university lecturer, a former English teacher, a radio presenter, an engineer, a computer network specialist, a writers’ circle chairman, a trained health visitor (later branching into peripatetic teaching and medical translation), a journalist…pause for breath…a partner in financial services, another journalist, a talented multitasking mother, a design lecturer, a multitalented actress, playwright, singer, author and carer…

The list goes on.  Pile a few PhDs into the pot and we were bound to manage really.  We might just have found the recipe for success.  If there is one ingredient we are definitely not short of, it’s commitment.  So, cup of tea in hand, we progressed to the pc—and cracked that, too!  Seriously, some of us are perhaps a little less computer literate than others, but with a genuine wish to assist, people are pooling and sharing information, and generally helping each other along.  Though writers often crave solitude, there is no doubt that the writers’ world can sometimes be a lonely one—and a puzzling one when faced with social networking, certain areas of which some might be trying to get to grips with for the first time.  The camaraderie that exists between participants is therefore a real boon.

OK, on to tasks undertaken thus far:

The all-important in-depth analysis of the manuscript.  Editing, tweaking, re-drafting, if necessary.  I, for one, am wide-eyed in awe at how much better my book will be—and that it is now absolutely aimed at the audience I intended it to be, specifically.  Thank you Imran.

Re-draft synopsis.

Re-think pitch.

Open Twitter account.

Ditto Facebook page.

Create website (thank you, Georgina, Sinead and Ian).

Market research: Look at similar books on shelves and actual sales.

Reviews—from people you’ve never met in your life and didn’t really want to be tied the chair until they’d reached the last page.

Blog…and don’t be embarrassed about the L plates.  You have to start somewhere.

Um…Oh, yes, intravenous drip of caffeine.

Ahhh, yawn and stretch.  All boxes ticked.  All tasks completed—and more Herculean tasks to follow. 

So are we desperate?  Publication at any cost?  I think I speak for the group when I say that professionalism is the byword of the Brit Writers’ Publishing Programme.  I am SURE Catherine Cooper, a retired Shropshire teacher, who won at the inaugural Brit Writers’ Awards last July, netting an impressive £10,000 prize, agrees. Please read Catherine’s positive comments in the latest press report here: A Brit Writers Star is born!

On a personal note, my son has completely gobsmacked me by reeling off a fantastic, truly thrilling outline for a book in half-an-hour flat.  We spent last night time-lining it.  For reasons I won’t go into, this is an amazing, utterly rewarding, spin-off from my participation in the Britwriters’ Awards Publishing Programme.  Desperate?  Never.  Determined…to see this “British born initiative to champion writing around the world and create an important shift in the way people of all ages and backgrounds view creative writing”?  Absolutely!

Brit Write on, I say!

Friday, 4 February 2011

How publishing doesn't really work...

…assuming that ‘those in the know’ have deemed you “good enough”, i.e. offered you representation, even carting your “warm, witty, wonderful usp”, written-in-blood books off to Frankfurt. 

What do you do when you’ve written for years, through said blood, sweat and tears, taken on board every criticism, every piece of well-meant advice, hired professional editors (at NO small cost), gone along with ideas offered by agents and written whole books—WHOLE BOOKS—just they way they wanted them written—and they don’t sell, again?  You blink is what you do, like a rabbit in the headlights, stunned, shocked, exhausted, heartbroken.  You can’t quite believe the door to publication that miraculously swung open, offering sad little you access, has slammed hard-shut in your face, not again. 

You pick yourself up though.  That’s what writers do.  You’ve given too much of yourself, juggled home, job and family, worked too hard through life’s tragedies, to just…give up.  It is not an option.  Not when you’ve come so close.

It’s hard out there.  This we know.  Writers read the Bookseller, too.  It’s hard for agents, bombarded with unsolicited manuscripts, wading through slush-piles, trying to find that all-elusive usp (unique selling point—or expletive, depending on viewpoint).  It’s no picnic for publishers in the current climate.  But it is hardest of all on writers.  Simply because to justify the blood (rep), sweat and tears, the many, many wasted years, the almost vicious determination with which we try to guard our precious writing space (read time.  Actual writing space we also cannot justify), we need to earn money.  Without it, writing is not justifiable.  It remains a hobby.  How does one justify a hobby that necessarily takes over one’s life?  A hobby that becomes a burning desire to succeed, because you have been told by “those in the know” that you are good enough.  And you have to believe it, because how could you write if you didn’t?

I don’t feel the reputable agents I’ve had represent me—three in all—did anything deliberately against my interests.  I believe one…or two…made mistakes, but I also believe that, in the interest of all parties, they did their best for me. 

It didn’t work.  I was left floundering…each time sinking a little lower…back at square one.

As stated, however, I wasn’t about to give up.  My eyes and ears open, I looked for other chances.  Perhaps other approaches to the one dictated by protocol: slush-pile, query letter, cv, synopsis, first three chapters, then pray, followed the rejection letter.  The wasted trips to London, along with days and then another year or two of my life, I could do without, too. 

Then came the invitation to join the Brit Writers' Awards Publishing Programme.  I went for it, not out of desperation—although reading the above you would be forgiven for thinking so, but because I believe I am good enough.  Because I believe that the ethos of the Brit Writers’ Awards, whose ambition is for “this British-born initiative to champion writing around the world and create an important shift in the way people of all ages and backgrounds view creative writing”, to be not only a good, but necessary, one. 

And so, after a long and painful journey, I am now firmly on board with the Brit Writers’ Awards and I couldn’t be more thrilled. 

For information, the first group meeting, at the Park Lane Hilton in London, was extremely well organised and truly inspirational.  Imran Akram is a powerhouse of ideas.  He clearly knows his subject well and is determined to help each person identify their market, tailor their work accordingly, if necessary, and move them forward to publication.

I came away from my first follow-up meeting quite literally buzzing.  The aim of the Brit Writers’ Awards seems clear to me: to make writers as good as they can be and to give writers from all backgrounds a voice.  

After a further intensive one-to-one meeting, along with available access by text, telephone or email, should I need it, I have now completed simple revisions based on what I can only call the vision of Imran Akram and I am very excited by the result.

In my humble opinion, the Brit Writers’ Awards Unpublished should be applauded for encouraging and offering expert help to writers—from all areas—achieve their goal.  Never, ever, has my writing time been better spent.

Please do check back for a rundown of tasks undertaken—and achieved—in readiness for our next BWA meeting.