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Bother. I think perhaps I accidentally changed the font size. NEVER MIND. Good morning. We seem to have gone an awfully long time without blogging. I say 'We seem' as if I didn't know perfectly well it'd been eons and the like since we last put up a post. We're not wholly lacking excuses. The office building in which we currently reside lost its internet connection for a week or so, so that threw us all into a bit of a confusion. And I've tried a couple of times to update from home, but my computer there won't much be having it. Windows ME, you know. Doesn't let me do most things. But I think the primary reason was that we actually had very little in the way of news because we're pretty much tied up with judging the most recently closed poetry and short story competitions. It's a bit epic. The emphasis, I suppose, being on 'bit'. But it's quite a lot of judging all right and I gather the website implies that it might be over by the end of this month, and that's not really going to be the case. But we do hope to announce the poetry results within about a week or possibly two, and the short stories shortly after that. As ever, the results will go up here, on this blog, when they're ripe for the announcing. You shan't miss them if you keep checking. We don't meanly sneak out competition results when people aren't looking.

We do have a smear of news today. The Better Craftsman and Other Stories has been emailed off to the printer and should hopefully be back with us in whatever amount of time these things usually take. And then you can buy it for £6.99, which will make us inordinately happy. It's a grand little collection and it has ten entirely spiffing stories in it, and also quite an exciting cover.

And I really do plan on getting up to speed with the novellas today. Really I do.



A quick note to those awaiting responses to their novella submissions... the first round - the ones who submitted approximately three months ago - are being dealt with right now and hopefully if you're one of those people you should hear from us within the next fortnight or so. Not quite three months, but absolutely as close as we can manage: it's been a very busy few weeks of late and we're getting on top of things gradually, but we do ask for a mite more of your patience. Many thanks.



There's a seminar on data protection going on behind me. It's going on right in the office doorway, meaning I'm very excited at the prospect of its coming to a happy close and enabling me to visit the drinking water, because nothing about my lips is currently correct. Gav and Ceci are in attendance at this seminar. Every so often I hear one of them ask a clever question. I am not so much attending the seminar as I am hiding behind the partition and sending out information about our two competitions ('Spring 2007 Poetry Competition' and 'Science Fiction and Fantasy', lest you've forgotten, details of which remain very much available on the website) and trying to research the intricacies of getting real live bookshops to stock our anthologies, which obviously are entirely worthy of being stocked by real live bookshops.

Mostly I was writing because I noticed in February, when we announced the winners of the Coffee and Chocolate themed competitions, we said that The Better Craftsman and Other Stories was on course to be out and about by the end of 'this month', which is obviously pretty much a fib on account of that month's having ended. I think probably my intention was to say 'next month' anyway, because that was generally understood to be the plan. It still is the plan. Barring any printing mishaps or delays or what have yous, the anthology should be available for purchase by the end of this month, which is March. Apologies for any confusion and the like.

Oh. Well. Sigh. Water. They must be finished soon though, the data protection bods. The sandwich man who comes along daily in his sandwich van will be here any minute now, and no way will Gav and Ceci sit quietly and listen to people talking about data protection if it means risking the absence of sandwiches. It's not that we don't care enormously about protecting your data, but the sandwich man is our hero and 11.30am-ish is generally a very exciting time of the morning. I'm sure you'll understand. Especially you, Mr Ephraim Gadsby of the Nasturtiums, Jubilee Road, Streatham Common.

Joke, obviously. But an approving nod to anyone who can tell me from which author I lifted Mr Ephraim Gadsby.



Mostly I think I was tinkering with a database and listening to two of the other three talking for five straight minutes about underpants and thinking about all the issues I'd have fun raising if we had a union when I noticed several things were very wrong with the submission guidelines, primarily the fact that not many people are adhering to them. This'll be our fault. We're going to make them a bit more obvious and accessible and link them up properly from the various upload forms, and we'll be adding a few new ones as well for larks and that, and also it's finally occurred to me that I can tell the hardcopy newsletter receivers to contact us for full guidelines rather than just letting them guess, but in the meantime I shall kindly direct your attention to a), the relevant page on the website and b), the following points about the online entry process:

- If you enter online and make a payment by PayPal using a different name and/or email address to the one you used to upload your competition entry, please make that clear in the comments section of the upload form, stating the name/email address/what have you of the PayPal account. Otherwise we get confused and fail to match up entry and payment (they come to us in two separate emails, for those inexplicably interested in the minutae of our working day) and end up emailing you and then waiting for a reply and it's all a bit upsetting. Not massively upsetting, obviously. I wouldn't let it trouble you personally. But doing the above would be really more than great.

- Sometimes... not often... things go wrong with some element of the process and we get entries without payments and payments without entries and entries without words and other permutations of the above. We deal with these issues via email. We'd advise you to look out for such emails from us in the days after you've entered just in case something's gone astray. As I say, far and away the majority of online entries reach us with no problems whatsoever, but sometimes mishaps are a tad unavoidable, and I'm pointing this out because, even more occasionally, the entrants don't respond to our queries about what became of the entry that should correspond to this payment and what have you. We still have a couple of problematic half-entries outstanding from the recently closed micro-fiction competition, and we can't wait indefinitely. We don't much want you to miss out on the whole entering business, so do try and be electronically available in the couple of days after submitting your work.

- Not to be putting any contact information on the entries themselves, please. This is quite important and often sadly overlooked. We do delete all the errant info prior to printing the entries out, but this does slow down the whole process and makes us a little bit jittery. It's not a question of our not loving you regardless, but we'll love you even more if you don't put your name on your entry.

That's about it. As I say, we'll be tweaking the guidelines appropriately in the near future. There's a website update going on as we speak, in fact. Mostly that'll be Gav's taking down the now closed Micro-fiction competition (which, numbers wise, was even more of a rip-roaring success than the previous one, so hurrah for that) and putting up the new Spring Poetry Competition 2007 (or possibly Spring 2007 Poetry Competition) instead. If you ask nicely in comments, and I'm not saying that we're in any sense desperate for comments, perhaps he'll put the links in this post when the pages are complete. Or you can just keep refreshing the website, which is also fun. Root Books - our new branch (we are SUCH wits) that's all about giving new authors a bit of a boost and the like, with the print-readying and subsequent printing of any manuscripts they might want printing and, you know, more besides, has its own page on the website. We've written a new newsletter and made an amusing advert with Venus on it. And I am unamused to discover that my favourite paper clip has escaped. My second favourite paper clip, which is circular, honours us still with its presence, but the triangular one is AWOL.

You can post sitings here if you so wish. In comments. And don't go thinking we care about comments.



To Emma, whose wonderful envelope brightened a dull morning; thank you.

Matt. (Who is alive.)

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