Winner now to be announced in October

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Due to unforeseeable circumstances we are yet to announce our winner. We will be announcing in October, so if you’ve entered good luck and you should hear something once we do announce a winner. Once again thank you to those who entered and raise valuable funds for Umoja Orphanage Kenya.

Here’s another writing quote to keep you motivated to write in the meanwhile:

Nature inspires writing
Nature is perfect inspiration to write.

The Runner Up Story – Tumaini (hope) by Denise Cummins

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As promised here is Denise’s second placed entry ‘Tumaini (hope)’:

Tumaini (hope)

God does not live in Africa. I cannot believe it myself because parts of it are green and dripping and luscious as Eden. But there are snakes and bacteria and death. I understand why John says it. I’m not going to argue about God with you, I tell him. I don’t argue about that any more, he says.

Sometimes I think John is like God, the way he holds small hands and grows vegetables and cries alone at night. That is probably the drink though. The drink has hold of him, he’s told me that, but it is all the hope he has now that God is gone.

Joseph has been here since he was three. He is a man now in this land, tall and lean and knowing. We take the truck to the market to buy maize meal for the children. It is time for Joseph to leave but John cannot do it. Who will give a shite about him in this world, he says. It is fair argument.

Some days there is no place for learning. There is work to be done to feed the small mouths who sing as though the world is theirs and there are mothers’ hands to caress them at night. The children are so clear-eyed, sometimes I choke to see them walk to school. Get past it, John says, they’d prefer a decent feed.

There is a new baby who comes. She is wrapped in yellow cloth and is dark and warm and sleeping. Her mother is very ill and her grandmother cannot take her. The child too may be ill but she looks perfect as God intended. I can’t do babies, John says, but he takes her anyway because what else can he do. The big girls carry her on their backs and John says he doesn’t know how he’ll feed her.

One of the sisters finds a village woman to suckle her. The woman’s baby is buried and her milk is spilling. The new baby feeds silently, with grateful eyes and fingers curling. The sister suggests the woman might keep this baby but she shakes her head. There are already too many but she will feed her until she can take the maize meal. Feeding will stop another baby from coming. When she leaves, the sister prays the woman is not ill herself. Too late for that now, John says.

The sisters know John has lost God and they seem to ignore it, as though they all misplace things from time to time. He still says mass for them every morning. That is his job. When they take communion, they smell the hope on his breath. Sometimes I sit with him at night and he talks of racehorses and the cool breath of the old country on his skin. Serve him right for trying to save the world, he says. Should have stayed where God lives in the corner of every damn room.

The next market day we drive to town to get the new baby her injections. Sister Moira holds her in the front and Joseph keeps watch in the back. In town, I buy a goat with some US dollars in my shoe. It is a male goat for eating, not one for milking, so I get it for eight dollars. Sister Moira thinks that’s a good price and Joseph carries it to the truck. The new baby is hungry so she is squirming. She does not cry. Children do not cry in Africa unless the malaria is boiling their brain. They do not cry even when their father walks them fifty miles to the compound and then leaves without holding their faces in his hands.

On those nights I cry blood and after, when the silence wakes me, sometimes I hear John cursing to God in his rondavel. There are no corners for God in rondavels, I think. I must remember to tell him that in the morning.

John is annoyed I have bought the goat with my own money. I don’t understand why. It’s protein, I say, the children need protein. You think you’re fucking God, he says. You think your money will solve all their problems. Fuck you, John, I say.

We have stew for two nights. The sisters and the big girls cook it in an old petrol drum over a fire like the village women do. They add dark green leaves and serve it with maize meal. The children sing into the night because meat is for special occasions. John doesn’t have any because he rarely eats. He doesn’t speak to me for the next few days.

One morning when we are writing simple sentences with chalkstone on the cement floor, John comes to the schoolroom looking for Joseph. I have not seen him. That night, Sister Jude tells me she has driven Joseph to Kisumu to work in the gardens of a family known to the church. It’s for the best, she says. I wonder if she speaks to my eyes because we both understand why Joseph had to go. Or because it shreds our hearts that no-one in the world will give a shite about him. I am not certain.

I feed the new baby her first spoons of maize meal. Her eyes are deep and trusting. She rolls the paste in her mouth but swallows it down. We all laugh at her concentration. I hope God remembers her. There is a long way to go.

One morning, John does not wake for mass. Sister Paul finds him on the floor of his rondavel with wet trousers and mustard-coloured foam seeping from his mouth. He is buried beyond the vegetable garden, not far from Gracie and Peter and sweet David who lay down under the boabab tree one afternoon and died quietly the next day.

The Monsignor travels from Nairobi for John’s funeral. He says John is now with God as he was in his life. Sister Moira studies the intricate furrows of skin on the back of her hands. I think of John in the corner of some damp room in Galway.

When we clean out John’s rondavel, I find some money tucked into the back of a ravaged black bible. We decide to send it to Joseph. Jude says we should send the bible too. The blanket on the bunk smells of John: of rusted earth and the stale hope that leached from his bones. We take it for the new baby. The next priest will probably burn it anyway.

As soon as I get photos back of our winner holding our trophy I’ll posts photos.

Don’t forget to enter next year. If you hit the REGISTER button you’ll be up to date.

This competition has been set up to raise funds for Umoja Orphanage Kenya. We are still desperately in need of funds so please visit our chuffed page and recommend it to your friends. We’d love everyone to spread the word.

You want to write a Book? What about marketing?

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I’ve worked in the publishing industry as a book marketing publicist. It was a rewarding job that I loved, because I could help writers fulfill their dreams with their published work. I still keep in touch with the industry and continue to write and market for other writers.

One thing I found, was that most writers have no idea what goes on after they’ve finished writing the book. Most can’t conceive what happens in the publishing industry. Since you’ve obviously showed and interest in writing I thought you might enjoy the following article I wrote while I worked for a small boutique publisher. 


9.00am Arrive at work. Catch up with staff on the latest happenings. Check my emails. Reply to an author who is waiting to hear from a bookstore about a signing. Reply to a radio producer about interviewing an author and agree to send her a review copy. Reply to an author about marketing so far and what more that author can do to sell books. Reply to author with a broken ankle to not worry about marketing as I will continue to do things from my end that will not include her doing signings or interviews other than by phone. Phone elderly author to explain to him how bookstores work. During this time there are constant interruptions, phone calls, requests to organize 2nd payment lodgement, notes to myself on a pad beside my desk to follow up. As I go through the emails and other correspondence I record everything in a history document in the marketing file for each book. This keeps track of all marketing to let the author know what is complete and where the leads have gone. I also then store finalized emails into the folder and then delete from my Outlook folder.

9.30am Going through my notes, some of which will be in my notepad and others saved to Outlook task I complete various duties. Follow up on advertising online. Send media release to national media for a book with a topical theme (peace in the Middle East). This involves rewording the release, drafting the email (including the release), finding the appropriate database and emailing. Then I record that this has been done in the marketing history.

10.00am Make a coffee and sip at desk as I go through an advertising strategy list. With a minimal budget over a three-month period I have to be selective as to where we advertise. As many of our authors are elderly and writing to leave a keepsake I regularly target senior’s magazines. I’ll also include some online site and writer’s group publications. Update database when some emails are rejected.

10.15am A new book arrives from the printer. I love this time. I look at the cover and flick through the pages. Usually I have already started a Marketing Folder for books before they hit my desk. In this folder I include another folder for correspondence, the documents book release, media release, poster, congratulations letter and history. I open the history document (a Word file) record the date the book has been released (already I have the book title, ISBN, RRP, author info etc.). I then open the congratulations letter and add the author and book details, when the intense marketing phase will be complete and all other information that the author needs about marketing. I attach a link to the author’s book on the Zeus Publications website so buyers can go direct to purchase. This is emailed to the author.

I then draft the book release from the template. This is similar to the media release but has the publisher/bookseller’s terms of trade at the bottom for the bookstore to purchase. You’ll see how a media release is drafted in my previous posting. I print out two posters to go with the author’s books.

10.50am Phoned a bookstore in Victoria to see if they would be purchasing stock of a certain book. One book is ready to be entered into the industry databases. These include Bowkerlink, Neilson/James Bennet, Titlepage and Seek. It takes at least eight weeks for books to show up on these sites so we always complete this process three months before a book is due for release. I have an Excel file to keep track of when books are input into these databases. I then record the book information in the Zeus catalogue.

11.30 Three books are read y for their CIP (Cataloguing in Publication). I enter these details on the National Library of Australia site. This registers the book on their catalogue prior to publication. If you look at the title page of a book (in the first few pages) you’ll see the CIP information. This includes: author, title, ISBN, subjects and Dewey number. I then update my master list so that I know the CIP has been applied for. I have to get the date of birth of one author and as I know she works weekdays I email her that I need this info to apply for her CIP. Within a few minutes I receive confirmation emails from NLA and store these in the CIP folder for the books.

12.00noon Loaded book information on our online bookstore website using Expression Web. Packaged a review copy of a book for a radio station including a with compliments personal note.

12.30pm Stopped for lunch with work colleagues.

1.00pm Finished loading information on online bookstore. Took call from author to discuss marketing. Checked new release titles marketing folders and sent more media and book releases out.

1.45pm Complete the bi-monthly newsletter. This includes writing the articles, compiling information such as book signings, launches and milestones of authors. I then give the completed newsletter to our Chief editor to proofread before I post it onto the website.

3.30pm Post to Twitter, Facebook and check WordPress blog for spam comments.

(First published on Inky Fresh Press Blog June 2011).

Why I write

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Why do I write? Good question.

I love this saying but I don’t know if writing books is a calm thing but writers should try it. (Keep Calm. Web).

The answer is, “I’m a writer.” That’s it. Yes, it’s as simple as that.

From a young age I’ve been writing. Other than keeping fit, there is nothing else that has been consistently a part of my being since early days. I love it. I nurture it. I keep at it.

When I’m not writing I’m often thinking about what I’ll write next. My mind is always planning stories.

If you feel the same you’re a writer.

So, before you begin that book why not attempt the Umoja Writing Competition first. Click on the link for our Facebook page or hit the Entry Form page and enter now. Good luck.


Competition Extended 16th July

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We are pleased to announce you now have longer to get your entries in.

The Umoja Writing Competition has been extended to 16th July. As you know this is a serious writing competition that is relatively new to the writing competition scene. It was formed as a fundraiser to volunteering at Umoja Orphanage Kenya. In hindsight the deadline was too soon for a new competition to garner publicity and gain enough entries. To be successful you want to cover all prize cost and still fund raise. Every entry helps us so please, if you’ve been reading this site and considering entering, please do so now.

Thank you to those entries already in. Be assure your entries are still in the running and we apologise to you for any inconvenience. The winner will now be announce 24th July 2014.

Entries Close 16th July 2014

Winner Announced 24th July 2014

Go to entry form tab to download your entry form.

Write often to write well

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I know you’ve heard it before but it’s true – write often to write well.

Keyboard tap

I’ve tried every day  – to write.

Sometimes it doesn’t work but I can at least say I write often. Whether it be in my day job or in my leisure writing is a part of my life as much as family; as much as exercise; as much as friends. Writing is indeed my friend.

So if you’re struggling with writing daily just write as often as you can. Once the habit is formed eventually you will write daily.

I’ve given you five writing prompts to help you along. Maybe one of these will get your entry written for the Umoja Writing Competition.


  • Africa’s beauty
  • Wildlife that need protection
  • Cultures that are exotic and different to your own
  • What would it feel like to be an orphan?
  • What am I doing to make the world a better place?

Okay, get to it. Start writing now.