The Manuscript, by the way, is now out in paperback, and no doubt your local indie can get it for you.
Maxine, bless her heart, has tried to make an old man very happy by sending me details of erotica in audible form. Martyn Daniels of the Booksellers Association has the details. All I can say is that the featured Susie Bright sounds to me like one of those frantically active high-energy American gals. She is said to have her own website, blog, store, entry in Wikipedia, generates over 400K hits on Google and produces a weekly podcast which is sold via Audible. Do you think she ever has time to, you know, actually do it?
Catherine J Gardner, at her Fright-Fest blog, offers tales of horror, suspense, and the psyche. It turns out that she has had over 60 short stories published in magazines and anthologies, but can't seem to raise any interest in her novels. Meanwhile, she has a new novella available through Lulu. And you can download it free.
May Sinclair is a poet with a PhD in the philosophy of metaphyics, and she has just published Infamous Eve, a book which discusses the historical and contemporary place of women in society. If I were female and a lot younger, I think I'd take a pretty close look at this one. The publisher, by the way, is Wheatmark -- yet another self-publishing service provider.
I have belatedly read Susan Hill's blog post in which she explains her reasons for discontinuing the Long Barn first-novel competition. Basically, it seems that many of the books submitted were pretty poor, and Susan Hill said so. The writers didn't like this home truth, and started bad-mouthing her in various quarters. Up with which Susan Hill does not have to put, nor will she.
I am not surprised by this. Ever since publishing began, it has been true that the vast majority of stuff submitted to publishers simply isn't any good. A lot of it is semi-literate at best. And it does no one any favours to pretend otherwise.
As for novel-writing competitions, well, I've noted previously (last December, actually, but will repeat now) that they usually throw up problems. In 1983 the Sunday Express ran a competition to find a new romantic writer. Over 10 million words were submitted, but unfortunately only one entry conformed with the requirements of the competition.
And I also remember an article which appeared in Esquire at least forty years ago. That told the tale of a competition (run by an American publisher, I think) to find a really great novel. The prize was huge (I seem to remember $200,000), and included sale of film rights to some Hollywood household name. In the end the entries were so poor that the publisher had to commission a professional to write the 'winner'.