The 1031 Story Challenge Is Back!

Happy October, one and all! The leaves are changing, pumpkin spice is a thing again, and - most exciting of all, of course - it's time for the annual 1031 Story Challenge!

What is it?

Photo: Cindy H.

The clue's in the name. Every October, in time for Halloween, I challenge anyone who wants to take part to write a short story before the end of the month. There's no limit on genre, style, form, or even if it's actually a story. Artwork is welcome. Interpretative dance is strongly encouraged. 

1031 comes from the U.S.-style date for Halloween - 10.31.2015, this year. In the past stories have generally fallen into two camps: those that try to get in under 1,031 words (my preferred challenge) and those that incorporate the number 1,031 in any way they like. You're welcome to write whatever you want (keeping in mind that children may be reading the stories).

What happens to the stories?

Your stories are you own, and this is nothing but a fun way to get a group of writers together. There's no prize and no copyright claim. Usually I offer to publish the stories here on my blog, though you are also welcome to publish on your own site and send me a link to add to the others. 


For fun. For art. Because October's a great time to feel inspired and write a new story.

I'm in. What now?

Get crackin'. If you'd like me to put your story on this site, e-mail it to me at simonphilipclark[at]gmail.com. The challenge ends on October 31, though only in spirit. You can find me on twitter as @sipclark - and if you know someone who you think could take part, give them a poke.

I'm hoping this year's 1031 Story Challenge will be the best yet, but last year's is going to be hard to beat - Martin Stewart, who took part for the first time, ended up getting a book deal from Penguin based on his 1031 Story Challenge entry. He's set the bar pretty high...

Happy writing, all.

(If you're still confused, here's my story from a couple of years ago, The Choice of Stone, to give you a taster.)


Books and Blogging: Marketing Isn't Community

Starting new blog posts with an apology about how long it's been since I blogged has become a tradition here, but - yes, once again - I'm hoping to change that. When I started this site it was simply a way of reaching out into the world, sharing some opinions, and joining a community. It was a very different blog, and in retrospect I think it was a better place. During the last couple of years, it's morphed - slowly and without me really realising - from a place for talking to a place for advertising. I've started posting when I have news about my books and my stories - but, actually, that's not what I want this place to be. It's great fun to share new projects and new deals, and I know my publicist would tell me to shout about my books from the rooftops, but readers are more savvy than ever, and in a social media world, it doesn't take long for marketing-dressed-as-friendship to turn sour.

Mind you, as a writer, it's never easy to find the balance between hiding your work and earning a living. Part of the contract between my publishers and me (not the literal, legal contract, but the relationship in general) is that they pay for the book, and I help sell it. A reclusive author is all well and good, but hundreds of people have worked hard to get my books into the world, and you don't want to be childish when they ask you to help spread the news.

So - can I save this blog and turn it back into a place that's about writing and writers and readers and books, and not just about one particular book and one particular publication day? I hope so.

Here's one thing I'm looking forward to - in just over a week, I'm launching the 1031 Story Challenge for its third year. More on that to come (but the gist is easy: we all write short stories, and there's no prizes, and everyone's happy). For now, I will actually get back to writing, and leave you with some of the best books I've read lately.

A Series of Good Books in No Particular Order


Win a Copy of the Eren Paperback

It's one week until Eren comes out in paperback in the UK - and that sounds like a good excuse for a give away. I'm excited about the paperback - as well as looking absolutely beautiful (thank you, people at Atom), the book comes with bonus content; one of the Eren Tale short stories printed at the back, along with the story's artwork.

I think you'll agree, that's a Very Cool Thing.

For the next week, I'll be giving away two copies of the paperback here on the blog. I'll sign them, if you want, and send them off to the lucky winners. It's UK / Ireland only, I'm afraid (but if you're in the U.S., the book'll be out in hardback in October - right in time for Halloween. Oooh.)

So, here you go - it's time to win a copy of Eren in paperback. Good luck.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


I Have Been Doing Things: YALC and Beyond

Yes. I know - it's been a while since I posted anything here. What can I say? Life keeps happening. I've found some time to write a brief update, though, mostly because so many Good and Exciting things have happened this month. I'm in the UK right now, and because of that I've been able to make it down to London for a couple of book-ish events.

First, the Children's Book Circle Summer Party. I hadn't really been planning on going, Jim Dean from YAYeahYeah told me it'd be fun, and he was not wrong.  The get-together - which is, as far as I can tell, mostly to celebrate making it through the first half of the year without all of publishing going mad - was held in The Library, a club just off Trafalgar Square. It was noisy and packed and great fun. I hung out with David Owen, who wrote Panther, and managed to avoid seeing Marieke Nijkamp (This Is Where It Ends, coming out in January) mostly because it was a bit hard to move around. There were probably other people I didn't see, but that was all OK, because (for me) the party was really just a warm up for...

I'm a bit late in posting my YALC update, but... I don't care. YALC (Young Adult Literature Convention) is only in its second year, but that didn't diminish its popularity. The idea behind the whole thing is simple: Why doesn't the UK have a gathering focused just on young adult books? YALC was held as part of London Film and Comic Con and - for me - provided a calm and much more relaxed counterpoint to the chaos and vibrancy of the rest of the con.

It was awesome.

There's too much to share here, really, so I'll pick some highlights: Finally meeting Kat Ellis (Blackfin Sky), spending more time with David Owen, finally meeting Non Pratt (Trouble, Remix), seeing Patrick Ness and Ben Aaronovitch, visiting the Atom stand and finding paperbacks of Eren, seeing Cassandra Clare, meeting some readers (!), and - perhaps best of all - seeing how many people, young and old, were happy to spend two and a half days talking about their love of books. In a world with library closures and arts funding cuts, it's invigorating to see passion and honest love of stories.

For more of a feel, check out Booktrust's round-up videos:

So, that's what I've been up to. I will be posting something else exciting tomorrow - but until then, take care.


Monster - the Ninth Eren Tale

Blogging and updating is going to be a bit patchy over the next few weeks, due mostly to the fact I'm moving back to the UK in less than a fortnight. It's an exciting time - and I'm certainly looking forward to getting more involved in the UK book world - but right now, there's a lot to do, and it's eating into writing time quite a lot.

Still, some things are important, so instead of packing or organizing my life, I'm happy to be able to share the latest Eren Tale. Behold!

There's just three more tales to go now, and at the end (if I've got the timing right), the UK paperback of Eren will be out. If you've not been keeping up, the Eren Tales are a series of short stories and artwork meant to compliment the book without giving any spoilers. The art's all done by Brandon Rechten, who is a darn clever fellow, and you can read all the stories for free on www.erentales.com.

That's it, really. Read, enjoy, and - if you like it - share it around.